Jeremiah 2 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Jeremiah 2)

Verse 2

[2] Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD; I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown.

Go — From Anathoth to Jerusalem.

Remember — I remind thee of the kindness that was between us.

The love — When I entered into covenant with thee at the giving of the law.

Wilderness — I took such care of thee, in the howling wilderness, a land that was not sown.

Verse 3

[3] Israel was holiness unto the LORD, and the firstfruits of his increase: all that devour him shall offend; evil shall come upon them, saith the LORD.

Holiness — A people dedicated to God.

As — As the first fruits were holy to God, so was Israel.

Devour — All that were injurious to him.

Offend — Were liable to punishment.

Evil — Evil was inflicted on them from the Lord, as upon the Egyptians, Amalekites, Midianites, Canaanites.

Verse 5

[5] Thus saith the LORD, What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that they are gone far from me, and have walked after vanity, and are become vain?

Vanity — Idols.

Vain — Fools; senseless as the stocks and stones that they made their idols of.

Verse 6

[6] Neither said they, Where is the LORD that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, that led us through the wilderness, through a land of deserts and of pits, through a land of drought, and of the shadow of death, through a land that no man passed through, and where no man dwelt?

Neither — They never concerned themselves about what God had done for them, which should have engaged them to cleave to him.

Of drought — Where they had no water but by miracle.

Death — Bringing forth nothing that might support life, therefore nothing but death could be expected; and besides, yielding so many venomous creatures, as many enemies that they went in continual danger of.

No man dwelt — As having in it no accommodation for travellers, much less for habitation.

Verse 7

[7] And I brought you into a plentiful country, to eat the fruit thereof and the goodness thereof; but when ye entered, ye defiled my land, and made mine heritage an abomination.

My land — Consecrated to my name; by your idols and many other abominations.

Verse 8

[8] The priests said not, Where is the LORD? and they that handle the law knew me not: the pastors also transgressed against me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after things that do not profit.

They — They that should have taught others, knew as little as they, or regarded as little, who are said here to handle the law, the priests and Levites, who were the ordinary teachers of the law.

Pastors — Either teachers, or kings and princes.

Prophets — They that should have taught the people the true worship of God, were themselves worshippers of Baal.

Verse 9

[9] Wherefore I will yet plead with you, saith the LORD, and with your children's children will I plead.

Plead — By his judgments, and by his prophets, as he did with their fathers, that they may be left without excuse.

Children — God often visits the iniquities of the parents upon the children, when they imitate their parents.

Verse 10

[10] For pass over the isles of Chittim, and see; and send unto Kedar, and consider diligently, and see if there be such a thing.

Of Chittim — All the isles in the Mediterranean sea, with the neighbouring coasts; for the Hebrews call all people, that separated from them by the sea, islanders, because they came to them by shipping.

Kedar — Arabia that lay east-south-east of Judea, as Chittim did more north or north-west; go from north to south, east to west, and make the experiment; look to Chittim the most civilized, or Kedar the most barbarous, yet neither have changed their gods.

Verse 11

[11] Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit.

Their glory — The true God, who was their glory; and who always did them good, giving them cause to glory in him.

Verse 12

[12] Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the LORD.

O ye heavens — A pathetical expression, intimating that it is such a thing, that the very inanimate creatures, could they be sensible of it, would be astonished.

Be desolate — Lose your brightness, as the sun seemed to do when Christ suffered.

Verse 13

[13] For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.

Of living waters — A metaphor taken from springs, called living, because they never cease, or intermit; such had God's care and kindness been over them.

Cisterns — Either their idols, which are empty vain things, that never answer expectation, or the Assyrians, and Egyptians. Indeed all other supports, that are trusted to besides God, are but broken vessels.

Verse 14

[14] Is Israel a servant? is he a homeborn slave? why is he spoiled

A slave — Slave is here added to home-born to express the baseness of his service, because the master had power to make those slaves who were born of slaves in his house.

Why — Why is he thus tyrannized over, as if strangers had the same right over him as owners over their slaves?

Verse 15

[15] The young lions roared upon him, and yelled, and they made his land waste: his cities are burned without inhabitant.

Lions — Understand the Assyrians, Babylonians, and Egyptians, called lions from their fierceness, and young from their strength.

Yelled — Noting the terrible voice that the lion puts forth, either in seizing the prey, or devouring it.

Verse 16

[16] Also the children of Noph and Tahapanes have broken the crown of thy head.

Noph, … — Two of the kings of Egypt's principal seats. Noph was sometimes called Memphis, now Cairo. Tahapanes probably took its name from Taphanes queen of Egypt, 1 Kings 11:19, called also Hanes: Isaiah 30:4. The inhabitants of these cities are called here their children.

Verse 17

[17] Hast thou not procured this unto thyself, in that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, when he led thee by the way?

When — By the conduct of providence in the wilderness, keeping thee from all dangers.

Verse 18

[18] And now what hast thou to do in the way of Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor? or what hast thou to do in the way of Assyria, to drink the waters of the river?

And now — What business hast thou there? Sihor - The Nile: it signifies black, called Melas by the Greeks, either from the blackness of the land it passed through, or of the soil it casts up.

The waters — Here and by the same words before is meant, to seek help from either place.

River — Euphrates, often called so by way of eminency.

Verse 19

[19] Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord GOD of hosts.

Thy wickedness — Thy own wickedness is the cause of thy correction.

Know — Consider well, and thou canst not but be convinced.

Verse 20

[20] For of old time I have broken thy yoke, and burst thy bands; and thou saidst, I will not transgress; when upon every high hill and under every green tree thou wanderest, playing the harlot.

Broken — The bondage and tyranny that thou wert under in old time in Egypt, as also divers times besides.

Tree — Under these shades idolaters thought there lay some hidden deity.

Wanderest — The word properly signifies, making hast from one tree to another, or from one idol to another.

Playing — Committing idolatry, which is a spiritual harlotry, chap. 3:1,2.

Verse 21

[21] Yet I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me?

A right seed — A right seed of true believers.

Verse 22

[22] For though thou wash thee with nitre, and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before me, saith the Lord GOD.

Nitre — Though interpreters do greatly vary in describing what is particularly meant here by Nitre and Soap, and would be superfluous to mention here; yet all agree, they are some materials that artists make use of for cleansing away spots from the skin. The blot of this people is by no art to be taken out; nor expiated by sacrifices; it is beyond the power of all natural and artificial ways of cleansing.

Marked — Thy filthiness is so foul that it leaves a brand behind which cannot be hid or washed out, but will abide, Jeremiah 17:1.

Verse 23

[23] How canst thou say, I am not polluted, I have not gone after Baalim? see thy way in the valley, know what thou hast done: thou art a swift dromedary traversing her ways;

Baalim — The word is plural, as comprehensive of all their idols.

Thy way — The filthiness thou hast left behind thee, whereby thou mayst be traced.

Valley — Whether of Hinnom where they burnt their children in sacrifice, or in any valleys where thou hast been frequent in thy idolatries.

Traversing — A metaphor taken from creatures that are hunted, that keep no direct path.

Verse 24

[24] A wild ass used to the wilderness, that snuffeth up the wind at her pleasure; in her occasion who can turn her away? all they that seek her will not weary themselves; in her month they shall find her.

A wild ass — Another similitude for the more lively description of the same thing.

The wind — This creature, by the wind, smells afar off which way her male is.

In her occasion — That is, when she has an occasion to run impetuously to her male, she bears down all opposition.

In her month — Perhaps the sense is, though Jerusalem be now madly bent upon going after her idols, that there is no stopping her, yet the time may come, in their afflictions, that they may grow more tame, and willing to receive counsel.

Verse 25

[25] Withhold thy foot from being unshod, and thy throat from thirst: but thou saidst, There is no hope: no; for I have loved strangers, and after them will I go.

Withhold — Take not those courses that will reduce thee to poverty, to go bare foot, and to want wherewith to quench thy thirst.

No hope — We care not since there is no remedy.

Strangers — Idols.

Verse 26

[26] As the thief is ashamed when he is found, so is the house of Israel ashamed; they, their kings, their princes, and their priests, and their prophets,

Found — Not ashamed of his sin of theft, but that he is at last found.

Verse 27

[27] Saying to a stock, Thou art my father; and to a stone, Thou hast brought me forth: for they have turned their back unto me, and not their face: but in the time of their trouble they will say, Arise, and save us.

Brought me forth — Or begotten me; so is the word used, Genesis 4:18. This denotes the sottish stupidity of this people, to take a lifeless stock or stone to be their maker, and to give the honour of God unto them, Isaiah 44:17.

Turned — They turn their faces towards their idols.

Verse 28

[28] But where are thy gods that thou hast made thee? let them arise, if they can save thee in the time of thy trouble: for according to the number of thy cities are thy gods, O Judah.

For — Thou hast enough of them, imitating the Heathens, who had, according to Varro, above thirty thousand deities. Make trial if any, or all of them together, can help thee.

Verse 30

[30] In vain have I smitten your children; they received no correction: your own sword hath devoured your prophets, like a destroying lion.

Children — Your inhabitants in every city, they being frequently called the children of such a city.

Correction — Instruction: though they were corrected, yet they would not be instructed.

Your sword — You have been so far from receiving instruction, that you have, by the sword, and other ways of destruction, murdered those that I have sent to reprove you.

Verse 31

[31] O generation, see ye the word of the LORD. Have I been a wilderness unto Israel? a land of darkness? wherefore say my people, We are lords; we will come no more unto thee?

O generation — O ye men of this generation.

See — You shall see the thing with your eyes, because your ears are shut against it.

A wilderness — Have I been like the wilderness of Arabia, have not I accommodated you with all necessaries? A land of darkness - As it were a land uninhabitable, because of the total want of light. Have I been a God of no use or comfort to them, that they thus leave me? Have they had nothing from me but misery and affliction? We - Words of pride and boasting.

Verse 32

[32] Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? yet my people have forgotten me days without number.

A maid — How unlikely is it, that a maid should forget her ornaments? A bride - Those jewels which the bridegroom was wont to present his bride with.

Forgotten — In the neglect of my worship; me, who was not only their defence, but their glory.

Verse 33

[33] Why trimmest thou thy way to seek love? therefore hast thou also taught the wicked ones thy ways.

Trimmest — Or, deckest, Ezekiel 23:40, thinking thereby to entice others to thy help.

Taught — Nations that have been vile enough of themselves, by thy example are become more vile.

Verse 34

[34] Also in thy skirts is found the blood of the souls of the poor innocents: I have not found it by secret search, but upon all these.

Skirts — Of thy garments: the tokens of cruelty may be seen openly there.

Innocents — In thee is found the murder expressed here by blood of innocent persons, murdering souls as well as bodies.

Search — Heb. by digging; as if the earth had covered the blood, or as if they had committed their wickedness in some obscure places.

These — Upon thy garments, exposed openly to publick view.

Verse 35

[35] Yet thou sayest, Because I am innocent, surely his anger shall turn from me. Behold, I will plead with thee, because thou sayest, I have not sinned.

Behold — I will proceed in my judgment against thee.

Because — Because thou justifiest thyself.

Verse 36

[36] Why gaddest thou about so much to change thy way? thou also shalt be ashamed of Egypt, as thou wast ashamed of Assyria.

Why — Why dost thou seek auxiliaries anywhere, rather than cleave to me? Ashamed - Egypt shall stand thee in no more stead than Assyria hath done.

Verse 37

[37] Yea, thou shalt go forth from him, and thine hands upon thine head: for the LORD hath rejected thy confidences, and thou shalt not prosper in them.

Yea — All the help thou canst procure shall not prevent thy captivity, but from hence thou shalt go.

Thy hands — An usual posture of mourning.