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seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me? For though thou wash thee with 22 nitre, and take thee much sope, yet thine iniquity is marked before me, saith the Lord God. How canst thou say, I am 23 not polluted, I have not gone after Baalim? see thy way in the valley, know what thou hast done: thou art a swift

wholly a right seec[] In a somewhat similar passage in Isaiah (v. 1—7) Israel is not as here the vine, but the vineyard in which it is planted.

how then art thou turned] That which had been sown, in other words the people, when first chosen to be God's, was uncorrupt. How is it then, He asks, that such 'right seed' can have produced such rotten boughs?

unto me\ to my grief—a frequent use of the dative case.

22. nitre] not saltpetre, in which sense we now use the word, but carbonate of soda {natron). That this was the sense intended by our translators, is shewn by Holland, who in his translation of Pliny (xxxi. 10) distinguishes between saltpetre (called by Pliny, Aphro-natrum) and nitre. Pliny there describes the soda-lakes about 50 miles west of Cairo. "The natron occurs in whitish or yellowish efflorescent crusts, or in beds three or four feet thick and very hard, which in the winter are covered with water about two feet deep; during the other nine months of the year the lakes are dry, at which period the natron is procured" (the Rev. W. Houghton in Sm. Bibl. Diet.).

sope] As natron is a mineral so this is a vegetable alkali. The word is itself the Arabic name (alkali) for one of the plants salsolakali (saltwort) which are chiefly used in its production, and are found in abundance on the Mediterranean coast of Palestine, as well as on the shores of the Dead Sea. This and other plants on being burnt furnish ashes, the lye of which (formed by passing water through them) was used in Jeremiah's time for cleansing purposes. The immense heaps of rubbish frequently found in Palestine shew the extent of the manufacture. The admixture of oils or animal fat was much later than Jeremiah's time.

thine iniquity is marked] No mode of cleansing however diligently applied will suffice to remove the ingrained stain of sin.

marked] stained, according to the Old English use of the word, continued still in certain phrases, as to mark a sheep (with a brand), to mark a handkerchief.

23. How canst thou say] The people probably pleaded in their defence that the law of Moses was observed and the public worship of God revived by the king. "But," replies the prophet, "you still follow false gods, and that not only in secret, but in the public view."

Baalim] The Hebrew plural. Compare Cherubim, Seraphim. The word therefore is equivalent to the "other gods" of chap. i. 16.

the valley] In all probability this was the valley of Hinnom on the south side of Jerusalem. It was devoted under idolatrous kings to

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24 dromedary traversing her ways; 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.

25 Withhold thy foot from being unshod, and thy throat from thirst: but thou saidst, There is no hope: no; for I have

26 loved strangers, and after them will I go. As the thief is ashamed when he is found, so is the house of Israel ashamed; they, their kings, their princes, and their priests,

27 and their prophets, 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.

28 But where are thy gods that thou hast made thee? let them

impure sacrifices and human offerings to Moloch, who no doubt was one of the gods called collectively Baalim. (Compare vii. 31, 32, xix. 5, xxxii. 35.) The valley was denied by Josiah in order that such sacrifices might cease, and here dead bodies of men and animals were cast. From the Hebrew word in a Greek dress (Gehenna) comes one of the names for the place of future punishment, of which this valley was considered by the later Jews a symbol, and which some of them believed to contain the entrance to hell. See note on chap. vii. 31.

dromedary] The Hebrew denotes a female that has not yet had a foal.

traversing] (literally, entangling) running quickly hither and thither in the eagerness of her passion, crossing and recrossing her own course. So Israel runs now here now there, ever in search of a fresh object of devotion, and forsaking her lawful spouse.

24. a wild ass used to the wilderness] casting off all trammels and revelling in uncontrolled licence.

snuffeth up the wind] looking out for every occasion that offers to sin. The false gods have no need of courting her favour. She is eager to enjoy them.

at her pleasure] or, in her desire.

25. Withhold thy foot from being unshod, and thy throat from thirst] This hardly refers to approaching captivity, to be averted on repentance, but rather means, Do not pursue thy shameless quest in recklessness and heat; and with this accord the words of the reply, which expresses the resolve to continue in sin, while yet the next verse intimates that the people are not altogether insensible to the disgrace of continuing in such a course.

27. saying] inasmuch as they say. In this consists their disgrace. They attribute to their idols the honour due to the Creator alone.

in the time of their trouble they will say, Arise, and save us] Their idols are but fair-weather friends. When a crisis comes, they will recognise this, and appeal for help to Him Whom they have rejected.

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. Wherefore will ye plead with me? ye all have transgressed 29 against me, saith the Lord. In vain have I smitten your 3o children; they received no correction: your own sword hath devoured youi prophets, like a destroying lion.

31—37. Israel is an unfaithful spouse, and shall be punished as such. O generation, see ye the word of the Lord. Have 131 been a wilderness unto Israel? a land of darkness? wherefore say my people, We are lords; we will come no more unto thee? Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride 3a

28. gods that thou hast made thee] There is a savour of irony throughout this verse. The sarcasm, here lies in the people's belief that the gods which their own hands had made were worth invoking.

for according to the number of thy cities are thy gods] The irony is continued. It cannot be through any scarcity in number that the gods whom thou hast chosen come not to thine aid. Each several city has its own favourite object of worship. Surely one at least of all these might be found to hear and help.

O Judah] A change in the mode of address from 'House of Israel.' Judah, though not yet afflicted with the evils which have fallen to the lot of the Ten Tribes, is solemnly warned that she is deeply involved in the sin for which they are already suffering.

29. plead with me] remonstrate against my wrath. all] all the families of Israel.

SO. your prophets] referring perhaps to Isaiah and Zechar ah, perhaps to those whom Manasseh slew (1 Kings xxi. 16. Compare Nehem. ix. 26; Matt xxiii. 35), or possibly to those slain by Jezebel (1 Kings xviii. 4, 13).

31—37. Israel Is An Unfatthful Spouse, And Shall Be Punished As Such. 31. O generation, see ye] 0 generation that ye are, see.

a wilderness] Have I been like a place where ye lacked sustenance? It is not the word which denotes absolutely barren, evil ground. (See note on ver. 6.)

a land of darkness] a land of intense darkness. Have I been to you as a place, whose dangers were magnified to your imagination by the very fact of its deep gloom?

We are lords] We wander free. The same Hebrew verb occurs Gen. xxvii. 40, rendered in the English Version "thou shalt have the dominion." The notion of being master, of having power to carry out one's own will, is at the bottom in each case.

her attire? yet my people have forgotten me days without ?3 number. Why trimmest thou thy way to seek love? there34 fore hast thou also taught the wicked ones thy ways. 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 33 all these. Yet thou sayest, Because I am innocent, surely

his anger shall turn from me. Behold, I will plead with 36 thee, because thou sayest, I have not sinned. Why gaddest

thou about so much to change thy way? thou also shalt be

32. attire] a band or girdle worn round the waist. The same word is translated head-bands in Is. iii. 20. It was an ornament which the bride assumed upon her wedding-day, and thus it marked a married woman. A matron would cherish this token of married life. Not so Israel, which has now for a long time forgotten her Husband.

33. Why trimmest thou thy way] Literally, Why makest thou thy way good? The same phrase is used later (vii. 3, 5) but in a somewhat different sense. There it means, to amend the life, but here, to shew care, to devote oneself (to the worship of false gods).

the wicked jmes thy ways] thy ways to wickednesses; i.e. thou hast accustomed thy ways to the sight and practice of evil, trained thy ways in the wickedness which characterizes them.

34. blood of the souls] souls used simply in the sense of persons, as is found in the New Testament also (Rev. xviii. 13) "souls of men."

/ have not found it by secret search] not at house-breaking didst thou catch them. The allusion, which is completely obscured in the English Version, is to the law (Ex. xxii. 2) by which it was permitted to slay a thief caught in the act of breaking into a house. The persons whom Israel had thus treated were in no such position, but such was nevertheless their fate. Those spoken of are probably, in part at any rate, the victims of the cruelty of Manasseh, of whom we read (2 Kings xxi. 16) that he "shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another.'

but upon all these] The words are obscure. The sense may be (i) it 'was (not because those prophets were caught in any crime, but rather) because they exposed and denounced all thy crimes that thou hast thus shed their innocent blood; or, perhaps better, (ii) it was because of this thy lust for idolatry, that thou could'st not abide them.

35. Because] But, a protest against the whole of the preceding accusation.

surely his anger shall turn from me] because of the reformation since Manasseh's days. For 'shall turn' we should rather render hath turned, hath not fallen, and thus I am proved innocent.

/ will plead with thee] a different word from that used earlier in the chapter, and meaning rather, I will act the judge towards thee.

36. to change thy way] See ver. 18 for some detail of the vacillation ashamed of Egypt, as thou wast ashamed of Assyria, Yea, 37 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.

Chap. III. 1—5. Israel has forfeited her privileges.

They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from 3 him, and become another man's, shall he return unto her

of Israel's policy. Manasseh and Amon also may have made a league with Egypt.

thou also shalt be ashamed of Egyp(] This was literally fulfilled, when the Egyptians were expected to raise the siege of Jerusalem in the reign of Zedekiah, but failed to do so (Jer. xxxvii. 5).

thou wast ashamed of Assyria] One conspicuous instance of this was in the reign of Ahaz, when in spite of his presents to the king of Assyria, that monarch helped him not (2 Chron. xxviii. 21. See also Is. -vii., viii). From this verse as from ver. 8 above it has been inferred by some that these chapters must have been, if not written, at any rate recast in the days of Jehoiakim; since in the days of Josiah, when Assyria was declining, there could have been no reason, it is thought, for seeking an alliance with Egypt. There is however nothing to prevent one supposing that the Jews looked with suspicion on the Eastern Empire, and that an influential party at any rate were willing to make overtures to Egypt, until Josiah finally committed himself to hostilities with that power by the act which led to his death at Megiddo. Further the whole tone of the discourse implies that the kingdom of Judah was still politically independent, a state in which it certainly was not during the reign of Jehoiakim.

37. thou shalt go forth from him] Egypt shall repulse thy advances, and thou shall return mourning.

thine hands upon thine head] Compare Tamar, who after the wrong put upon her by Amnon, "laid her hand on her head, and went on crying." (2 Sam. xiii. 19.)

thy confidences] those in whom thou confidest, Egypt and Assyria.

Chap. III. 1—5. Israel Has Forfeited Her Privileges.

1. They say] The Hebrew is simply saying. It probably is to be connected with the words 'hath rejected' (ii. 37) and to be rendered, saying, or, for he saith. The connexion of thought is: the Lord refuses to recognise either Egypt or Assyria as the lawful spouse of his people, at the same time saying that as they have chosen to forsake Him for them, He will act in accordance with the law of divorce and will refuse to receive Israel again.

shall he return unto her again ?] When a woman left her husband in accordance with a bill of divorce and was nnarried to another, even a bill of divorce given her by her new husband did not set her free to

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