Jer 3:1-25. GOD'S MERCY NOTWITHSTANDING JUDAH'S VILENESS.
Contrary to all precedent in the case of adultery, Jehovah offers a return to Judah, the spiritual adulteress (Jer 3:1-5). A new portion of the book, ending with the sixth chapter. Judah worse than Israel; yet both shall be restored in the last days (Jer 3:6-25).
1. They say--rather, as Hebrew, "saying," in agreement with
of last chapter [MAURER]. Or, it is equivalent to,
"Suppose this case." Some copyist may have omitted, "The word of the
Lord came to me," saying.
shall he return unto her--will he take her back? It was unlawful to do so (De 24:1-4).
shall not--Should not the land be polluted if this were done?
yet return-- (Jer 3:22; Jer 4:1; Zec 1:3; compare Eze 16:51, 58, 60). "Nevertheless," &c. (see on Isa 50:1).
2. high places--the scene of idolatries which were spiritual
In . . . ways . . . sat for them--watching for lovers like a prostitute (Ge 38:14, 21; Pr 7:12; 23:28; Eze 16:24, 25), and like an Arab who lies in wait for travellers. The Arabs of the desert, east and south of Palestine, are still notorious as robbers.
4. from this time--not referring, as
MICHAELIS thinks, to the
reformation begun the year before, that is, the twelfth of Josiah; it
means--now at once, now at last.
me--contrasted with the "stock" whom they had heretofore called on as "father" (Jer 2:27; Lu 15:18).
thou art--rather, "thou wast."
guide of . . . youth--that is, husband (Jer 2:2; Pr 2:17; Ho 2:7, 15). Husband and father are the two most endearing of ties.
5. he--"thou," the second person, had preceded. The change to
the third person implies a putting away of God to a greater
distance from them; instead of repenting and forsaking their idols,
they merely deprecate the continuance of their punishment.
and Ps 103:9,
answer their question in the event of their penitence.
spoken and--rather (God's reply to them), "Thou hast spoken (thus), and yet (all the while) thou hast done evil," &c.
as thou couldest--with all thy might; with incorrigible persistency [CALVIN].
is a new discourse, delivered in Josiah's reign. It consists of two
parts, the former extending to
in which he warns Judah from the example of Israel's doom, and yet
promises Israel final restoration; the latter a threat of Babylonian
invasion; as Nabopolassar founded the Babylonian empire, 625 B.C., the seventeenth of Josiah, this prophecy is
perhaps not earlier than that date
&c.; Jer 5:14, &c.;
Jer 6:1, &c.;
and probably not later than the second thorough reformation in the
eighteenth year of the same reign.
backsliding--literally, "apostasy"; not merely apostate, but apostasy itself, the essence of it (Jer 3:14, 22).
8. I saw that, though (whereas) it was for this very reason (namely),
because backsliding (apostate) Israel had committed adultery I had put
(2Ki 17:6, 18),
and given her a bill of divorce, yet Judah, &c.
bill of divorce--literally, "a writing of cuttings off." The plural implies the completeness of the severance. The use of this metaphor here, as in the former discourse (Jer 3:1), implies a close connection between the discourses. The epithets are characteristic; Israel "apostate" (as the Hebrew for "backsliding" is better rendered); Judah, not as yet utterly apostate, but treacherous or faithless.
also--herself also, like Israel.
9. it--Some take this verse of Judah, to whom the end of
puts Judah in contrast to Israel in this verse. "Yet for
all this," referring to the sad example of Israel; if
referred to Judah, "she" would have been written in
not "Judah." Translate, "It (the putting away of Israel) had come to
pass through . . . whoredom; and (that is, for) she (Israel)
had defiled the land" &c. [MAURER]. English
Version, however, may be explained to refer to
lightness--"infamy." [EWALD]. MAURER not so well takes it from the Hebrew root, "voice," "fame."
10. yet--notwithstanding the lesson given in Israel's case of the
fatal results of apostasy.
not . . . whole heart--The reformation in the eighteenth year of Josiah was not thorough on the part of the people, for at his death they relapsed into idolatry (2Ch 34:33; Ho 7:14).
11. justified herself--has been made to appear almost just (that is,
comparatively innocent) by the surpassing guilt of Judah, who adds
hypocrisy and treachery to her sin; and who had the example of Israel to
warn her, but in vain (compare
Eze 16:51; 23:11).
more than--in comparison with.
12. Go--not actually; but turn and proclaim towards the north (Media
and Assyria, where the ten tribes were located by Tiglath-pileser and
2Ki 15:29; 17:6; 18:9, 11).
Return . . . backsliding--Hebrew, Shubah, Meshubah, a play on sounds. In order to excite Judah to godly jealousy (Ro 11:14), Jehovah addresses the exiled ten tribes of Israel with a loving invitation.
cause . . . anger to fall--literally, "I will not let fall My countenance" (compare Ge 4:5, 6; Job 29:3), that is, I will not continue to frown on you.
keep--"anger" is to be supplied (see on Jer 3:5).
13. Only acknowledge--
(De 30:1, 3;
scattered thy ways, &c.-- (Jer 2:25). Not merely the calves at Beth-el, but the idols in every direction, were the objects of their worship (Eze 16:15, 24, 25).
14. I am married--literally, "I am Lord," that is, husband to you
Ho 2:19, 20;
GESENIUS, following the Septuagint version
and Paul's quotation of it
translates, "I have rejected you"; so the corresponding
Arabic, and the idea of lordship, may pass into that of
looking down upon, and so rejecting. But the
Septuagint in this passage translates, "I will be Lord
over you." And the "for" has much more force in English Version
than in that of GESENIUS. The Hebrew
hardly admits the rendering though [HENGSTENBERG].
take you one of a city--Though but one or two Israelites were in a (foreign) city, they shall not be forgotten; all shall be restored (Am 9:9). So, in the spiritual Israel, God gathers one convert here, another there, into His Church; not the least one is lost (Mt 18:14; Ro 11:5; compare Jer 24:5-7).
family--a clan or tribe.
15. pastors--not religious, but civil rulers, as Zerubbabel, Nehemiah (Jer 23:4; 2:8).
16. they shall say no more--The Jews shall no longer glory in the
possession of the ark; it shall not be missed, so great shall be the
blessings of the new dispensation. The throne of the Lord,
present Himself, shall eclipse and put out of mind the ark of the
covenant and the mercy seat between the cherubim, God's former throne.
The ark, containing the two tables of the law, disappeared at the
Babylonian captivity, and was not restored to the second temple,
implying that the symbolical "glory" was to be superseded by a "greater
neither . . . visit it--rather, "neither shall it be missed" (so in Jer 23:4).
done--rather, "neither shall it (the ark) be made (that is, be restored) any more" [MAURER].
17. Jerusalem--the whole city, not merely the temple. As it has
been the center of the Hebrew theocracy, so it shall be the point of
attraction to the whole earth
Zec 2:10, 11; 14:16-21).
throne of . . . Lord--The Shekinah, the symbol of God's peculiar nearness to Israel (De 4:7) shall be surpassed by the antitype, God's own throne in Jerusalem (Ps 2:6, 8; Eze 34:23, 24; Zec 2:5).
imagination--rather, as Margin, "the obstinacy" or stubbornness.
18. Judah . . . Israel . . . together--Two distinct apostasies, that
of Israel and that of Judah, were foretold
(Jer 3:8, 10).
The two have never been united since the Babylonish captivity;
therefore their joint restoration must be still future
(Isa 11:12, 13;
north-- (Jer 3:12).
land . . . given . . . inheritance-- (Am 9:15).
19. The good land covenanted to Abraham is to be restored to his seed.
But the question arises, How shall this be done?
put . . . among . . . children--the Greek for adoption means, literally, "putting among the sons."
the children--that is, My children. "How shall I receive thee back into My family, after thou hast so long forsaken Me for idols?" The answer is, they would acknowledge Him as "Father," and no longer turn away from Him. God assumes the language of one wondering how so desperate apostates could be restored to His family and its privileges (compare Eze 37:3; CALVIN makes it, How the race of Abraham can be propagated again, being as it were dead); yet as His purpose has decreed it so, He shows how it shall be effected, namely, they shall receive from Him the spirit of adoption to cry, "My Father" (Joh 1:12; Ga 4:6). The elect are "children" already in God's purpose; this is the ground of the subsequent realization of this relationship (Eph 1:5; Heb 2:13).
pleasant land-- (Jer 11:5; Eze 20:6; Da 11:16, Margin).
heritage of . . . hosts--a heritage the most goodly of all nations [MAURER]; or a "heritage possessed by powerful hosts" (De 4:38; Am 2:9). The rendering "splendors," instead of "hosts," is opposed by the fact that the Hebrew for "splendor" is not found in the plural.
20. Surely--rather, "But."
21. In harmony with the preceding promises of God, the penitential
confessions of Israel are heard.
high places--The scene of their idolatries is the scene of their confessions. Compare Jer 3:23, in which they cast aside their trust in these idolatrous high places. The publicity of their penitence is also implied (compare Jer 7:29; 48:38).
23. multitude of mountains--that is, the multitude of gods worshipped on them (compare Ps 121:1, 2, Margin).
24. shame--that is, the idols, whose worship only covers us with shame (Jer 11:13; Ho 9:10). So far from bringing us "salvation," they have cost us our cattle and even our children, whom we have sacrificed to them.
25. (Ezr 9:7).