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Jeremiah 2:1 The word of Yahweh came to me saying- This was aimed specifically at "Jerusalem" (:2), which could refer to the leadership and priesthood.

Jeremiah 2:2 Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem saying, ‘Thus says Yahweh, I remember the kindness of your youth, the love at the time of your marriage; how you went after Me in the wilderness-
The exodus and wilderness journey  is described as God, a young man, being madly in love with the young woman of Israel. It was He who took the initiative in going after them; but He imputes this to them, just as the lover eagerly imagines that the object of love has the same passion for him as he does toward her. And they hardly showed chesed, covenant love ["kindness"], toward God. How could a God who loves purity, who cannot look upon iniquity, fall in love so passionately with such a reprobate crew? It cannot be that God turned a blind eye to their sin.  And how can Israel be described as going after God in the wilderness, showing Him all their love when in their hearts, from Egypt right through the wilderness journey, "they despised my judgments... (and thus) rebelled against me" (Ez. 20:8,13,16,21)?  This was the overpowering love which imputes love and righteousness to the beloved. So this was a reminder of how Israel were in covenant with God on the basis of having had His love imputed to them.

In a land that was not sown- These are the words used of how in the Sabbath and jubilee years, the land was not to be sown, and yet God would provide for His people (Lev. 25:4,11). Perhaps Jeremiah was prophesying in one such year. But the allusion is surely to how the land of Israel was to become barren, a land now sown, in punishment for their sins (Dt. 29:23 s.w.). Even in this case, the promise is that God would lead the faithful remnant of the people through it, as He had led Israel through a similar environment.

Jeremiah 2:3 Israel was holiness to Yahweh-
The very term inscribed upon the high priestly mitre (Ex. 28:36). The high priest was not intended to 'do it all' for Israel, as priests in secular religions are intended to. He was to be representative in essence of all God's people. But "holy to Yahweh" can simply mean dedicated to Him., and the context is of their marriage to Yahweh as an exclusive covenant (:2). This verse goes on to say that they were His "firstfruits", His firstborn Son, dedicated to Himself. That they dedicated their firstborn to Moloch was the more awful because of this.


The first fruits of His increase. All who devour him shall be held guilty. Evil shall come on them’, says Yahweh- Israel were Yahweh's firstborn (Jer. 31:9), and therefore He slew the firstborn of an Egypt which had destroyed them. And this would continue in the judgment of Babylon. The figure of firstborn raises the fascinating question as to whether God had had 'sons' before in His history. The metaphor implies He had not, at least not in this intimate sense. Israel's failure was the more tragic, therefore; although they were replaced as firstborn by His only begotten Son, His firstborn. And all those in Him likewise become the firstborn, with promise therefore of many children yet to come in future creations.

"Devour" is literally 'to eat', and is used of how Babylon "consumed" Jerusalem with fire (Neh. 2:3,13 etc.). The people and their land were to be "consumed" by the fire which was contained in the words Jeremiah spoke (Jer. 5:14,17). But all who devoured / consumed them would be "held guilty" (Jer. 2:3; 10:25; 30:16). And yet in depression, Jeremiah lamented that the fire had consumed (Lam. 2:3; 4:11), when it was His owns words which had been that devouring fire. His lament was therefore tantamount to a statement of regret that he had been used as the vehicle for this devouring fire. The devourers of Israel considered themselves "not guilty" because Judah had sinned against their God (Jer. 50:7). But the clear statement in Jer. 2:3 is that "All who devour him shall be held guilty". Punishing a sinner doesn't mean that those who do the punishing are thereby justified; we can be used by God, but that is no guarantee of righteousness or acceptability. This needs to be remembered by those who consider they can punish sinners within the church; they may well be held equally guilty for the lack of love they showed.

Jeremiah 2:4 Hear the word of Yahweh O house of Jacob, and all the families of the house of Israel!-
God's intention was to restore the ten tribes and revive the apostate kingdom of Judah into His kingdom on earth. So this may well be addressed to the ten tribes, and presumably someone took Jeremiah's message to them.

Jeremiah 2:5 Thus says Yahweh, What unrighteousness have your fathers found in Me, that they have gone far from Me, and have walked after vanity, and are become vain?-
This appears addressed to the "fathers" who were still alive; for they "are" become vain, and the sense is that these fathers had and continued to find fault in Yahweh. Perhaps Jeremiah as a very young person was being asked to appeal here specifically to the younger generation; for youth need youth to appeal to them. "Gone far from me" is a word used of Israel's exile at the hands of their invaders (Is. 6:12; 26:15; Jer. 27:10). But this, like all judgments, was only a reflection of how they had gone far from God in their hearts (s.w. Is. 29:13). To find something unclean in the other party and therefore to go far from them is the language of marriage breakup; which is the context of :2. It was Israel who were ending the marriage, not God; and had gone off with "vanity", other gods. It's not hard to discern the "idols" of our age- they are the various "vanities" which so easily fill human life in this online age.

Jeremiah 2:6 Neither did they say, ‘Where is Yahweh who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, who 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 none passed through, and where no man lived?’-
The memory of their historical beginnings and salvation by grace through baptism in the Red Sea was intended to remain with them. And with us too. Their passage so far was by grace alone, for nobody could have survived the journey they had made were it not for God. And this is true of each of us. "The shadow of death" is really 'deep darkness'. The idea of being preserved from "pits" would have recurred to Jeremiah when in the cistern.

Jeremiah 2:7 I brought you into a plentiful land, to eat its fruit and its goodness; but when you entered, you defiled My land and made My heritage an abomination-
This continues a major Biblical theme- that God's loving material blessings of His people led them to idolatry (Dt. 32:15). The prosperity Gospel must give due weight to this sad experience of God's people historically. Israel brought the idols of Egypt with them through the wilderness, and lost no time in using them and defiling the land thereby. The popular idea that the generation who entered the land were the most faithful of Israel's generations needs some revision.

Jeremiah 2:8 The priests didn’t say, ‘Where is Yahweh?’ and those who handle the law didn’t come to know Me. The rulers also transgressed against Me, the prophets prophesied by Baal and walked after things that do not profit-
The reason for their turning to other gods was because the priests, who were supposed to teach the knowledge of Yahweh, didn't seek to know Him; and what knowledge they did have was not the 'knowing' of personal relationship. We can know true propositions about God, but not thereby come "to know Me". A teacher must himself be continually learning and enquiring further. But the priests assumed they knew it all; when in fact what they did know was not the same as "knowing Me" in terms of personal relationship. And so they slipped off to idolatry. Although they had been given materially all that they needed on entering the land (Jer. 2:7), the attraction of the idols was "profit". The idols of Canaan were fertility cults, and they were worshipped in the hope of good harvests and material benefits (Jer. 12:13). So Yahweh's blessing of His people materially only elicited in them a craving for yet more materialism, and they turned to the idols- which in reality did not "profit", for all such blessing is only from Yahweh.

Jeremiah 2:9 Therefore I will yet contend with you, says Yahweh, and I will contend with your children’s children-
This is the language of entering into a law suite; and the results of it were going to last many generations. Or perhaps the idea is that grandparents, their children and grandchildren were all alike guilty and must stand before Divine judgment.

Jeremiah 2:10 For pass over to the islands of Kittim, and see; and send to Kedar, and consider diligently; and see if there has been such a thing-
The Gentiles were fiercely loyal to their gods, whereas Israel were for ever seeking some petty advantage or "profit" from adopting new gods. The islands of Kittim were the extreme west of Israel, and "Kedar" to the extreme east. He was a son of Ishmael (Gen. 25:13); a reminder that there was more integrity in the line God had chosen not to work through than in that of Isaac and Jacob.

Jeremiah 2:11 Has a nation changed its gods, which really are no gods? But My people have changed their glory for that which does not profit-
Israel in the wilderness had changed their glory into the similitude of an ox, the golden calf (Ps. 106:20). And now Judah were committing the same error.  They prided themselves on not having the golden calves of the ten tribe kingdom, but they did have the equivalent in their hearts. Gentile nations didn't change their gods; but God's people did, ever seeking a little extra material benefit from some new religion; see on :8. Israel are therefore likened in Hosea to a sexually addicted woman, ever seeking new partners. In this sense Israel were worse than the other nations, who only changed their gods when forced to by the military dominance of neighbours. This is one of many examples of where unbelievers are held up as a challenge to believers; and we can take that challenge for all time.

Jeremiah 2:12 Be astonished, you heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid. Be very desolate, says Yahweh-
"Desolate" is "dry", so the heavens / skies addressed may be literal. This theme of water continues in :13. There was to be a drought as a reflection of God's withholding the blessings He had given when they first entered the land.

Jeremiah 2:13 For My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the spring of living waters, and cut them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water-
There was to be a drought and no water from Yahweh at all (:12). Sin has various component factors, because God is so sensitive to human behaviour. The sin of forsaking Him was separate to that of adopting other gods. Baal was thought to be the rain god, and Israel's addictive desire for extra fertility and material blessing led them to accept Baal. But Baal was no better than a broken cistern; any water that came would be wasted and could not be kept by Israel. And in any case, it was God who gave rain and He was going to therefore punish them by drying up the skies (:12).

Jeremiah 2:14 Is Israel a servant? Is he a native-born slave? Why has he become a prey?-
As noted on :3, Israel were God's firstborn son. They were not slaves born in the house, like Ishmael. But they acted as if they were not the native born members of God's family, by seeking other gods. And so they were treated appropriately to their own self-perception and self-identification. I explained on :8,11 that Israel turned to other gods in the hope of petty material benefit. They were therefore to become a "prey", to have their material things taken from them as booty.

Jeremiah 2:15 The young lions have roared at him and yelled, they have desolated his land. His cities are burned up without inhabitant-
This is an example of the prophetic perfect, whereby things prophesied in the future are spoken of as having already happened; so certain are they of fulfilment. Just possibly the fate of the ten tribes is in view. The Divine threat to leave Judah "without inhabitant" never quite came true. Not all the urban dwellers were slain. Indeed even after the destruction of Jerusalem, they still came to offer at the site of the altar in Jerusalem (Jer. 41:5). In wrath God remembered mercy. Perhaps He perceived that repentance would not be elicited by the judgments, and so they have been deferred until the last days. Or maybe there was some repentance or intercession which ameliorated the threatened judgments. And yet "young lions" is a double symbol, both of the Babylonians and of the rulers of Judah in Ezekiel; it was for their sakes that the Babylonian lions came.

Jeremiah 2:16 The children also of Memphis and Tahpanhes have broken the crown of your head-
Egypt was always attractive for Judah to trust in. But the Egyptians 'shaved the head' (Heb.) of Judah, taking their glory away, at great cost to them (2 Kings 23:35) but provided no help against Babylon.

Jeremiah 2:17 Haven’t you procured this to yourself, in that you have forsaken Yahweh your God, when He led you by the way?-
If we follow the moment by moment leading of God, having the attitude that we will always say "Yes" to Him, then we will not go astray to idols. And all judgment for such sin is really brought about by the sinners themselves. If we leave the God who is leading us, then we for sure will go astray to other gods and face the appropriate judgment.

Jeremiah 2:18 Now what have you to do in the way to Egypt, to drink the waters of the Shihor? Or what have you to do in the way to Assyria, to drink the waters of the River?-
"Shihor" may be another name for the Nile, which represented Egypt as the Euphrates did Assyria. Judah were always trying to get help from their northern or southern neighbour against the threat posed by the other, instead of trusting in Yahweh above them.
The attempted alliance with Egypt is described in Ez. 16:26 as active prostitution with her, when Yahweh would have provided all the freedom and protection Judah wanted. Menahem king of Israel bribed Pul king of Assyria to support him, whilst Hoshea sought the aid of Egypt to enable him to throw off the Assyrians, and Josiah died fighting against the Egyptians on the behalf of Assyria. This is portrayed in Ezekiel as whoredom, the endless cycle of attraction to illicit lovers.

Jeremiah 2:19 Your own wickedness shall correct you, and your backsliding shall reprove you. Know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and a bitter, that you have forsaken Yahweh your God, and that My fear is not in you, says the Lord, Yahweh of Armies-
The Divine hope was that Judah would be corrected by their sins and judgments experienced; "know therefore..." is an appeal for relationship, for understanding and repentance. But this didn't come about, although it potentially could have done. The same Hebrew word for "punish" is also translated "reform / correct" (see the play on this in Lev. 26:18,23,28). The punishments were not therefore simply an expression of God's anger, but rather intended to reform Israel.

Jeremiah 2:20 For of old time I have broken your yoke and burst your bonds; and you said, ‘I will not serve;’ for on every high hill and under every green tree you bowed yourself, playing the prostitute-
AV "I will not transgress" (NEV "I will not serve"). so many times God had broken the bonds of their captivity and they had promised total loyalty in response; but everywhere they still worshipped other gods. Yoke and bonds are figures of servitude. The idea was that if God had broken their bonds of servitude to the world around them, they should in response serve Him, exchanging one bondage for another, a change of masters. This was supremely seen at the exodus from the bonds of Egypt through the Red Sea baptism. And that is exactly the metaphor used by Paul in Romans 6 for our response to our freedom from this world and sin; in response, we proclaim Jesus as Lord and serve Him. But instead so many like Judah at this time served idols instead.

Judah had "broken the yoke and burst the bonds" of their covenant relationship with God (Jer. 5:5), but He by grace had broken the yoke and bonds of those who enslaved them (Jer. 2:20; 30:8).

Jeremiah 2:21 Yet I had planted you a noble vine, wholly a right seed-
How we are spiritually planted is no guarantee that we shall continue to grow in the way we were sown. The noble vine had clearly allowed foreign vine branches to be grafted in. That is the implication. And the lesson, as Paul points out in a similar analogy in Romans, is that being physically of the seed of Abraham was no guarantee at all that the fruit was going to be acceptable. And we may likewise reflect that no matter how well believing parents may plant their children, in the end this can be no guarantee that they will grow into a noble vine just because the right seed was planted. Far more individual volition than that is required. God had well planted Israel, giving them the maximal opportunity for growth and fruitfulness (Is. 5:2; Ps. 80:9; Hos. 10:1); and yet they turned to idols. The requirements for elders that their children be "not unruly" I would therefore see as relevant to their immature children and their manner of raising young families.

How then have you turned into the degenerate branches of a foreign vine to Me?- We see here God's shock and hurt at His people's dashing of His best hopes. Possibly we could say that the language more indicates the Angels' surprise at the weaknesses of their charges- "The Lord God of Hosts (Angels)... broke thy yoke, and burst thy bands (in Egypt); and thou saidst, I will not transgress (Israel's covenant of obedience to the Angel)... I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed (done by the Angel, Ps. 80:8; note the angelic context of Ps. 80): how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto Me?". But the reality is that God Himself personally can be hurt and broken by us. He limits His omniscience as He limits His omnipotence, in order to enter into real time, actual relationship with us.

Jeremiah 2:22 For though you wash yourself with lye and use much soap, yet your iniquity is marked before Me, says the Lord Yahweh-
The idea is that any attempt to make themselves appear externally better was irrelevant, because their problem was with their mentality and heart. That is what God looks at, and this is what He 'marks'.
The sin of Judah was written- both on their hearts and in God's record (Jer. 17:1); their iniquity was "marked before me". Note how their sin was written both before God and on their hearts. The state of our hearts is actually God's record of us; "the spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord" through which He searches us (Prov. 20:27).

Jeremiah 2:23 How can you say, ‘I am not defiled. I have not gone after the Baals’? See your way in the valley. Know what you have done. You are a swift dromedary traversing her ways-
The Jews of course considered that they had not abandoned Yahweh; they were not atheists and had instead worshipped idols in the name of Yahweh, as an expansion of their devotions to Him. "The valley" is that of Hinnom where they had their high places (Jer. 7:31; 32:35). They were like a young camel in heat, desperately running around here and there looking for a partner. This was how God saw their running to various idols and gods. They were asked to look at themselves from outside of themselves: "See your way in the valley" is an invitation to take as it were an aerial photograph or video of themselves there. And this same invitation comes to us in every generation. see on Jer. 3:2.

Jeremiah 2:24 A wild donkey used to the wilderness, that snuffs up the wind in her desire. When she is in heat, who can turn her away? All those who seek her will not weary themselves. In her month, they will find her-
We all know the downward spiral into sin… how once we start, we can’t stop. But when Israel were like this, they are likened to a female camel in insatiable heat (Jer. 2:23-25; 5:7-9). We’d just rather not read that, or retranslate the words to make it seem somehow different. But we’re dealing with serious matters here. Sin is serious to God. Israel were seeking satisfaction from their various idols as if they were sexually addicted and hopelessly out of control. She was searching for them, and not they for her. This heightens the depth of her sin even more so.

Jeremiah 2:25 Withhold your foot from being unshod, and your throat from thirst. But you said, ‘It is in vain. No, for I have loved strangers, and I will go after them’-
This passage suggests Israel were shameless. They were convinced that their behaviour was not wrong (:23). I suggest that they came to this position by assuming that they were serving Yahweh through serving the idols; and that is the essence of all spiritual temptation in every age. Any appeal to them for self control was dismissed by them.

Jeremiah 2:26 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-
We must contrast this with the sense of shameless devotion to idols in the previous verses.
See on Jer. 3:22. They had not then been found (out); but they would be, and so sure was their future shaming in condemnation that Jeremiah spoke as if it was already being experienced by them. Judgment in essence is now. If they had realized that, then they would have repented.

Jeremiah 2:27 Who tell wood, ‘You are my father;’ and a stone, ‘You have brought me forth’; for they have turned their back to Me, and not their face-
See on Jer. 3:4. This contrasts with the earlier statement that they were God's firstborn (:3). But through their idolatry they denied this. This turning of the back to God was literally seen by Ezekiel, when he was shown men worshipping the sun within the temple, with their backs turned upon the holy place. God's turning away His face from them was therefore only an extension of their own attitude to Him.

But in the time of their trouble they will say, ‘Arise, and save us’- This could be read as God sadly lamenting how He knows they will always turn to Him in time of crisis. But it could also be said as it were with joy and hope, knowing that in the final time of Jacob's trouble, God's people will turn to Him and eternally remain with Him.  Yet this appears to be God's fantasy and desperate hope and imagination that His people would cry to Him and not the idols. But Jer. 11:12 states that His people in the "time of their trouble" (s.w.) would cry to  their idols. It's as if by the time of Jer. 11 God as it were faces the reality that they would cry to their idols and not to Him.

Jeremiah 2:28 But where are your gods that you have made for yourselves? Let them arise, if they can save you in the time of your trouble: for according to the number of your cities are your gods, Judah-
The large number of gods is further evidence that like the out of control young camel of :23 and donkey in heat of :24, they were obsessed with finding other gods to trust, as if they were addicted to this endless search once they had cast off faith in Yahweh. The connection of thought with the earlier part of the verse seems to be: "When every city has its special deity, surely among so many there might be found one able to help his worshippers". The LXX adds: "And according to the number of the streets of Jerusalem they sacrificed to Baal". This would have been an imitation of Babylon; and so to Babylon they would be sent. Their judgment was a reflection of what they themselves wanted. If we seek above all God's Kingdom, then this will be given us.

Jeremiah 2:29 Why will you contend with Me? You all have transgressed against Me, says Yahweh-
God understands Judah as having a legal issue with Him, when He has done nothing wrong to them, and they have done wrong to Him. Again we sense the absolute certainty of the people that they were not sinning. "I am not defiled" was their attitude (:23).
Such a shameless attitude was only possible due to becoming psychologically hardened in the idea that they worshipped idols in the name of Yahweh, as an expansion of their devotions to Him. And this is the real danger of believing that our idolatry, in whatever form, is in fact serving God. It can be thinking that gossip is in fact a service and defence of God's truth; or thinking that a luxury mansion is in fact in order to serve God's people. As with Israel at this time, this will lead to an obsession with idolatry which is insatiable.

Jeremiah 2:30 I have struck your children in vain. They received no correction. Your own sword has devoured your prophets, like a destroying lion-
The lion was a symbol of Babylon / Assyria, but they had acted like a lion in killing their own prophets. The correction given by the prophets and at the hands of the previous Assyrian and Babylonian incursions had not been "received". "Correction" is the same word for 'doctrine' or teaching. God's word can come to us, and especially for the illiterate in Jeremiah's time, not only through what we now call "the Bible", but through Divinely controlled experience.

Jeremiah 2:31 Generation, consider the word of Yahweh. Have I been a wilderness to Israel? Or a land of thick darkness?-
He had been like this to Egypt, but the Israelites had had light in their areas and homes. But they considered that any correction from God was treating them as if they were not His people, and were wilfully ignorant of their salvation history.

Why do My people say, ‘We have broken loose. We will come to You no more?’- They effectively considered they were no longer in covenant relationship with Yahweh, and acted like this. But they would never have agreed that these were their words; God counts our positions and attitudes as words.

Jeremiah 2:32 Can a virgin forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? Yet My people have forgotten Me for days without number-
The implication was that they should live permanently in a state of expecting an imminent marriage ceremony. They had married God at Sinai but the hope was that God would establish an eternal Messianic kingdom with them.

Jeremiah 2:33 How well you prepare your way to seek love! Therefore you have taught even the wicked women your ways-
Although they didn't dress themselves up for Yahweh (:32), they did in order to attract other lovers. This speaks of how they madly sought relationship with any Gentile nation whom they perceived could benefit them immediately. And just as prostitutes lead men into sin, so they had led even the Gentiles into sin, and encouraged other smaller states to likewise offer allegiance to multiple political partners at the same time. God is therefore portrayed as sensitive to even the sins of the Gentiles. Instead of being a light to the Gentile world, Israel instead had led them into sin.

Jeremiah 2:34 Also the blood of the souls of the innocent poor is found in your skirts, even though you did not catch them in the act of burglary-
The idea is that God did not need to break through in order to see their sins; the blood of their own children and also of poor people in society whom they had used as sacrifices was as it were on their clothes. They had publically done these things in the valley of Hinnom. The LXX has: "In thine hands has been found the blood of innocent souls; I have not found them in holes, but on every oak".

Jeremiah 2:35 Yet you said, ‘I am innocent. Surely His anger has turned away from me’. Behold, I will judge you, because you say, ‘I have not sinned’-
"Innocent" is a word often used about being free from a covenant contract. Perhaps the idea was as in :31, that they considered they had broken free from covenant relationship with God and therefore God should not be angry with them. But they, His wife, had broken the marital covenant... and they were not to consider they could walk away from it. It was their attitude that "I have not sinned" which was more hurtful to God than their actual sins. And so it is to this day. Or we could take "innocent" in the sense of 'cleansed', as if they believed that the cleansing of the Mosaic rituals thereby meant that their sin was dealt with and they were free to continue in sin. This was exactly the attitude of some Christians at the time of Rom. 6:1.

Jeremiah 2:36 Why do you go about so much, ever changing your way? You will be shamed by Egypt, just as you were shamed by Assyria-
The attempted alliance with Egypt is described in Ez. 16:26 as active prostitution with her, when Yahweh would have provided all the freedom and protection Judah wanted. The final fulfilment of these prophecies as of every prophetic word will be in the final judgment of the last days. This is the scene of Rev. 16:15- the rejected being made naked in shame. This slinking back in shame will fulfil the prophecies of Is. 1:24,29 and Jer. 2:35,36, which speak of the rejected being made ashamed, becoming ashamed, of their idols. They will be made ashamed by the judgment process.

Jeremiah 2:37 From there also you shall go forth, with your hands on your head; for Yahweh has rejected those in whom you trust, and you shall not prosper with them
- This prophecy foresaw that contrary to Jeremiah's pleading, some in Judah would flee to Egypt, and yet also be taken captive from there. And yet the people still had freewill as to whether to flee into Egypt. This prophetic potential scenario would therefore not have come about, and this idea of Divine potential is a major theme in the prophets. We ask how did God reject Egypt in whom they trusted? The LXX has "for the Lord has rejected thine hope, and thou shalt not prosper in it". This would suggest that they thought that their trust in Egypt would be acceptable with God, despite His clearly telling them later not to go there. But He rejected that request, as it were, to accept their trust in Egypt as trust in Him. This clearly was their problem, they thought that bad behaviour could be justified as part of their worship of Yahweh. This is why repeatedly they insist that they are innocent of any wrongdoing.