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again? shall not that land be greatly polluted? but thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again a to me, saith the Lord. Lift up thine eyes unto the high places, and see where thou hast not been lien with. In the ways hast thou sat for them, as the Arabian in the wilderness; and thou hast polluted the land with thy whoredoms
3 and with thy wickedness. Therefore the showers have been withholden, and there hath been no latter rain; and thou
4 hadst a whore's forehead, thou refusedst to be ashamed. Wilt thou not from this time cry unto me, My father, thou art
s the guide of my youth? Will he reserve his anger for ever?
be reunited to the former one. See Deut xxiv. I—4 for the words of the law on the subject.
yet return] and thinkest thou to return. This is by far the most probable sense. There is no invitation to the people, such as the English Version would suggest, to come back to God, but an expression of surprise that those who must be familiar with the teaching of the law on the subject of earthly marriage and divorce should fail to see the impossibility of playing fast and loose with God in such a matter—a thing forbidden even in human affairs. This explanation also accords better with ver. 4.
2. Israel is shameless and wholly given up to idolatrous excesses. high places] bare heights, without trees.
the Arabian in the wilderness] the Bedaween freebooters, such as even at the present day make descents upon parties in that country for purposes of plunder. As is their eagerness to despoil a passing caravan or other company of travellers, so is that of Israel for the worship of false gods.
3. latter rain] that which fell in March and April, the second of the rainy seasons, the "early rain" (James v. 7) occurring in October and November. See chap. v. 24.
4. Wilt thou not...cry] Hast thou not cried.
from this time] from the time of Josiah's reforms. These were begun in the twelfth year of his reign and completed six years later on the occasion of his great celebration of the Passover feast (2 Chron. xxxiv. 3, xxxv. 19). This period of reforms is shewn by the expression 'this time' to be not long past, and so confirms the general view given above as to the date of this portion of the prophecy.
guide] The word may be rendered 'husband,' a sense which the original bears also in Prov. ii. 17.
5. The first part of the verse is a continuation of the words of Israel, expressing her confidence that the anger of her Divine Spouse will pass in spite of her faithlessness.
reserve] the sense of keep back, restrain in which we so often use this word might for a moment mislead the English reader. The context shews that the sense is retain, keep in exercise.
will he keep it to the end? Behold, thou hast spoken and done evil things as thou couldest.
6-—20. Grievously as both Israel and Judah have sinned, yet forgiveness awaits both, but conditionally on their repentance.
The Lord said also unto me in the days of Josiah the 6 king, Hast thou seen that which backsliding Israel hath done? she is gone up upon every high mountain and under every green tree, and there hath played the harlot. And 17 said after she had done all these things, Turn thou unto me. But she returned not. And her treacherous sister
thou hast spoken and done evil things as thou couldest] thou hast spoken'thus but hast done evil things and carried them through.
The English Version makes the words and deeds of Israel to have been alike evil, whereas there is a contrast drawn between her specious words and her idolatrous ways. The last verb of the sentence, literally 'thou couldest,' expresses the power which Israel had not omitted to exercise for evil.
6—20. Grievously As Both Israel And Judah Have Sinned, Yet Forgiveness Awaits Both, But Conditionally On Their Repentance.
6. The Lord said also unto me in the days ofJosiah the king] It is clear that this prophecy like the last is a summary or condensation of Jeremiah's teaching at the time, and does not represent any one discourse. It is also clear that we are to take this and the preceding part together. Not only are the two alike in subject, but the very phrases used are to a great extent identical. One marked distinction however between the two lies in this, that while in the former no hope of forgiveness was held out (it being there assumed that there was no genuine repentance), we have here the distinct assurance of pardon on the appearance of contrition. It is possible that the mention of the days of Josiah may imply that this part of the prophecy is more immediately connected with the time of his reforms. Judah has not taken warning by the example of Israel's sin and punishment. Nay, she has added to apostasy treachery. Nevertheless an acknowledgment of sin from either portion of the nation will bring pardon.
backsliding Israel] The Hebrew is stronger. Israel, the backsliding one, literally '(which is) apostasy (itself).' So too in ver. 7 'treacherous' is literally faithlessness.
1. I said] to myself; I thought.
after she had done all these things, Turn thou unto me] better, after she has done all these things, she will return unto me. treacherous] See ver. 6, above.
Judah saw it. And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also. And it came to pass through the lightness of her whoredom, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery with stones and with stocks. And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah hath not turned unto me with her whole heart, but feignedly, saith the Lord. And the Lord said unto me, The backsliding Israel hath justified herself more than treacherous Judah. Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith
8. This and the seventh ver. correspond in the order of their thoughts and in the thoughts themselves. 'I said' (ver. 7) corresponds to 'I saw' (ver. 8). Israel's conduct is the subject of the first part in each sentence, and Judah's imitation of it that of the second part.
for all the causes whereby] On account of all the causes for which, was perhaps the actual legal phraseology with which the bill of divorce commenced.
9. stones and with stocks] idols of stone and of wood.
10. for all this] In spite of the warning thus afforded in the sin and consequent downfall of the sister-kingdom, Judah has put on a mere semblance of reformation, thereby aggravating her guilt. The surface only and not the core of the nation was affected by king Josiah's reforms.
11. Having thus thrice declared the part which 'her treacherous sister Judah' had played in forsaking the Lord for idols, He pronounces the sentence of condemnation, once more giving each kingdom the epithet appropriate to its sin, and charging Judah with hypocrisy as well as desertion. In spite of
(i) greater privileges,
(a) succession of kings of the same family, (b) Temple, (c) Levites;
(ii) the warning example of Israel; Judah has proved faithless.
"The verse is further important, first as accounting for the destruction of Jerusalem so soon after the pious reign of Josiah. Manasseh's crimes had defiled the land, but it was by rejecting the reforms of Josiah that they profaned it, and sealed their doom; secondly, as shewing that it is not by the acts of its government that a nation stands or falls. Ahaz and Manasseh lent the weight of their influence to the cause of idolatry: Hezekiah and Josiah to the cause of truth. But the nation had to determine which should prevail." (Speaker's Comm.)
12. toward the north] towards Assyria and Media, whither the Ten Tribes had been carried captive by Shalmaneser, king of the former country,
the Lord; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the Lord, and I will not keep anger for ever. Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast i3 transgressed against the Lord thy God, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed my voice, saith the Lord. Turn, O backsliding H children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion: and I will give you pastors accord- iS
mine anger] my face. The sense is, I will not look severely upon you. Compare for the same phrase Gen. iv. 5, "Cain was very wroth and his countenance fell."
The offer in this verse is plainly conditional upon the repentance of Israel, and as in point of fact they were not restored, we may gather with certainty that the condition was not fulfilled.
13. Repentance and acknowledgment of definite sin alone are necessary to ensure pardon.
hast scattered thy ways] hast wandered hither and thither. Comp. ii. 23. strangers] strange gods. Compare ii. 25.
14. children] sons. Although they have wandered and are now in "a far country" and "in want" (Luke xv. 13, 14) they can count on a Father's welcome, if they return in a filial spirit. By this rendering the mixture of metaphors is made more prominent. The people are at once sons that have left their Father's house, and a wife that has been divorced. "I am married unto you."
one of a city, and two of a family] One or two shall be converted to a sense of their guilt. Both 'family' and 'city' refer still to Jews, not to their Gentile captors, family to the Jewish ear suggested a larger number than city. A mere village might bear the name of a city, while a family denoted the larger subdivisions of the tribes, admitted of many ramifications, and contained persons whose connexion with one another would according to our notions be but very slender. In this verse then the offer is, so to speak, individualised. The exiles are told that, even though there be no national repentance, yet as it is open to each one to return, so each shall be dealt with on his merits. At the return from the captivity in Babylon certain of the Ten Tribes may have accepted the invitation here given, and thus been the means of the partial fulfilment of the promise. In a fuller sense it has been in course of being carried out ever since, first in the conversion of Jews in the time of our Lord and the Apostles, and secondarily in the Christian Church. In the former period there were still dwelling within Palestine those who traced their descent from one or other of the Ten Tribes (Luke ii. 36), while the thought of the original unity of those descended from Israel's twelve sons appears elsewhere in the New Testament (Acts xxvi. 7; James i. 1).
15. pastors] For the sense see chap. ii. 8, and for the different sort of rulers which Israel had had compare Hosea viii.
ing to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and
16 understanding. And it shall come to pass, when ye be multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, saith the Lord, they shall say no more, The ark of the covenant of the Lord: neither shall it come to mind: neither shall they remember it; neither shall they visit it; neither shall
17 that be done any more. At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of
16. A brief sketch of the exceeding blessings that shall follow, if Israel hearken. The ark, hitherto the seat of the special manifestation of God's glory, shall be forgotten, because He will shew Himself throughout Jerusalem, and the whole city shall be filled with His presence.
in those days] an ordinary phrase with the prophets to denote the time of the Messiah. Compare v. 18; xxxiii. 16.
they shall say no more, The ark of the covenant of the Lord] It shall be forgotten by those who have God Himself walking in the midst of their city. The ark with its top forming the mercy-seat, on which the visible brightness marking God's presence, the Shekinah, rested, was the centre of reverence, although hidden by the veil of the Temple which parted the Holy of Holies from the rest of the building. For the thought of the ark with the figures of the Cherubim upon it as God's throne, compare Ps. Ixxx. 1, xcix. 1; also Exod. xxv. 22; Numb, vii. 89. As a matter of fact the ark of Mosaic times perished no doubt in the destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldaeans.
come to mind] The marginal reading 'come upon the heart illustrates the custom of speaking of the heart as the abode of the intelligence.
visit] or, possibly, miss, feel the want of.
neither shall that be done any more] The words might also be rendered neither shall it (the ark) be made any more; that is, no repairs shall be done to it.
17. they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord] God's glory and visible presence shall be manifested, not as heretofore on the covering of the ark alone, but throughout the holy city. He will thus shew that His presence is not necessarily confined to the ark or temple, and therefore that the possession of these, on which the people were relying so much, by no means ensures protection from the foe or spiritual blessing.
all the nations] Gentile peoples shall be gathered into the Church of God, which shall thus become Universal.
neither shall they] the Jews and Gentiles thus united.
imagination] stubbornness. So the word doubtless means on its first occurrence in the Bible, Deut. xxix. 19 (of which this is apparently a citation), Ps. Ixxxi. la (" lust"), and seven other times in Jeremiah,