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their evil heart. In those days the house of Judah shall 18 walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north to the land that I have given for an inheritance unto your fathers. But I said, How shall 19 1 put thee among the children, and give thee a pleasant land, a goodly heritage of the hosts of nations? and I said, Thou shalt call me, My father; and shalt not turn away from me. Surely as a wife treacherously departeth from her 20
18. with] 'To,' the marginal rendering, is nearest the usual sense of the Hebrew word. If this be its proper rendering here, the clause will imply that the Ten Tribes will be the 6rst to repent, and that then Judah, seeing this, will join them, that all may return together out of captivity. 'The prophet thus implies the subordinate position which Judah shall take in the future in comparison with the other Tribes, and that because of her greater iniquity, as already set forth. The word rendered 'with' in the Text need not however denote anything further than the coupling together of Israel and Judah. In Exod. xxxv. 22 we have the Hebrew word in this sense 'both men and women.'
The whole verse may be compared with Isaiah xi. 12, 13, he "shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth...Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim." The unity there pictured as existing between the formerly rival kingdoms is the same idea as that of Jeremiah.
19, 20. The prophet is about to describe the thoughts of Israel. These verses form the transition. In them he introduces the Lord as telling of His own affection for Israel, and of the ingratitude with which that affection had been repaid. His manner of expressing the former of these thoughts is no doubt suggested by the language of the previous verse. The mention there of the land of promise leads Him to speak of the 'pleasant land,' the 'goodly heritage' that He was ready to bestow.
19. But] And. No opposition is intended.
/ said] The pronoun should be emphatic. Whatever Israel's conduct may be, God's purposes and love are sure. The time referred to is the Exodus from Egypt.
How] Not a question as in the English Version, but How gloriously! How honourably!
among the children] the nations, which, as created all of them by God, are all of them His children, while Israel, unless it forfeits the right, may claim to be His first-born. Compare Exod. iv. 22, "Thus saiththe Lord, Israel is my son, even my firstborn."
goodly heritage of the hosts] heritage of the chief splendour, or, goodliest heritage. The sense is that Israel shall have a more glorious land than any other nation. Compare a "land...flowing with milk and honey, which is the glory of all lands." (Ezek. xx. 6, 15.)
Thou shalt...andshalt not...\ Better, Ye shall...and shall not....
husband, so have you dealt treacherously with me, O house of Israel, saith the Lord.
21—25. Confession of sin on the part of Israel.
21 A voice was heard upon the high places, weeping and supplications of the children of Israel: for they have perverted their way, and they have forgotten the Lord their
22 God. Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings. Behold, we come unto thee; for thou art the
23 Lord our God. Truly in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of mountains: truly in the
24 Lord our God is the salvation of Israel. For shame hath
20. O house of Israel] Israel here used of the Ten Tribes, but yet with a reference to Judah, as the latter would see her own misdeeds reflected in Israel.
21—25. Confession Of Sin On The Part Of Israel.
2L high places] See note on ver. 2 above. The voice comes from them not only as having been the places where idolatry had been prac tised, but in accordance with Eastern custom to choose some lofty or prominent place on which to make public lamentation. Compare chap. vii. 29; also Moab's overthrow lamented by that nation upon- its "high places" (Is. xv. 2), and Jephthah's daughter bewailing her virginity "up and down upon the mountains" (Judg. xi. 37).
22. God s reply to the lamentation and expressions of repentance. The Hebrew is striking in its play on the word turn, Turn, ye turned children; I will heal your turnings.
Behold, we come] The offer of pardon is accepted. The picture is an impressive one; the cries of repentance on the part of a nation—their wandering on the hills in sorrow—the utterance of forgiveness—their return into favour.
23. Truly in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, andfrom the multitude of mountains] Truly in vain is it from the hills, in vain is revelry on the mountains. The construction is obscure in the original. The returning Israelites contrast the orgies that belong to idol worship with the security and spiritual blessing which the Lord imparts.
24. Vain was the boisterous service spoken of in ver. 23. It is not merely without profit, but most hurtful.
shame] Bosheth = Baal, the god of shame, the god who brings disgrace, whose worship is an opprobrium to the worshipper. The Hebrew word is often elsewhere used as an equivalent for Baal. Compare xi. 13, where the two are identified, also Hos. ix. jo; so too as parts of compound proper names Baal and Bosheth are identified; Jerubbaal (Judg. vi. 32) =Jerubbesheth (2 Sam. xi. 21); Eshbaal (1 Chron. viii. 33) = Ish-. bosheth (2 Sam. ii. 8). . . . .. . .
devoured the labour of our fathers from our youth; their flocks and their herds, their sons and their daughters. We lie as down in our shame, and our confusion covereth us: for we have sinned against the Lord our God, we and our fathers, from our youth even unto this day, and have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God.
Chap. IV. i—n. Summing up of the message to Israel and Judah. Announcement of impending destruction to Jerusalem.
If thou wilt return, O Israel, saith the Lord, return unto 4 me: and if thou wilt put away thine abominations out of my sight, then shalt thou not remove. And thou shalt a
hath devoured the labour] hath consumed the possessions (as enumerated immediately afterwards). Labour is here used for the fruits of toil. The verse seems to refer simply to the sacrifices offered to Baal, which were sometimes even human. Although flocks and herds yielded sacrifices to the Lord also, yet there could be no real similarity between such offerings and those which were exacted by a god like Baal. Others however take the devouring to consist in the temporal misfortunes resulting from estrangement from the true God, so that it is equivalent to saying, We have been ruined as a nation by our wickedness and idolatry.
25. We lie doion] We will lie dawn, or, I-et us lie down. Repentance for the misdeeds of the past shall be so strong that we shall be overwhelmed with emotion and shall lie prostrate under its influence. Compare for such a custom when under very painful feelings 2 Sam. xii. 16, xiii. 31; 1 Kings xxi. 4.
covereth] shall cover, or, let (our confusion) cover. For the thought compare Ps. cix. 29.
Chap. IV. 1—11. Summing Up Of The Message To Israel And Judah. Announcement Of Impending Destruction To JeRusalem.
In verses 1—4 a severer mode of address is used towards Judah (3, 4) than towards Israel (1, 2).
1. If thou wilt return] both in the sense of a change of mind, and of a literal return from captivity, as its consequence.
return unto me] unto me thou shalt return.
abominations] false gods. Compare 1 Kings xi. 5, 7 where the two are shown to be identical; compare also 2 Kings xxiii. 13, and many passages in Jeremiah.
then shalt thou not remove] and not stray. This clause is not the completion of the sentence, as the English Version makes it to be, but merely expresses the thought of the previous clause in different
swear, The Lord liveth, in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness; and the nations shall bless themselves in him, 3 and in him shall they glory. For thus saith the Lord to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your fallow
language; verse 2 (the apodosis to the preceding protasis) expresses the consequence, in case the previous conditions are fulfilled. "Stray" refers to the restless search after one or another unreal object of worship, as described already (ii. 23, iii. 13).
2. And thou shalt] Then thou Shalt.
The Lord liveth] As the Lord liveth. From the Eng. Version we might suppose that this is itself the subject, and not simply the form, of the oath. The Living God is "not the thing sworn to, but the thing sworn by" (Speakers Commentary). Oaths by other gods are to be dismissed from their mouths. The people, while yet in the wilderness, are commanded by Moses to "cleave" to the Lord "and swear by His name, He is thy praise and He is thy God" (Deut. x. 20, 21). So now if they will give the same proof that in their minds He is supreme, there shall follow their own restoration, and through them a blessing to all nations of the world. and the nations] then the nations.
shall bless themselves in him] in the Lord, not in Israel, as is shewn by the last clause, where in that case the verb to glory would be inappropriate. Jeremiah however doubtless alludes here, as is his wont, to the earlier Scriptures, such as "In thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" (Gen. xii. 3), etc. Compare Ps. lxiii. 11, "Every one that sweareth by him (God) shall glory." On the assumption that Israel repents, it will be through her that the Gentile nations shall obtain the blessing of God. This Jeremiah implies by his undoubted reference to the covenant made with Abraham, as quoted above. Thus then the end of the former part of ver. 1, and of the latter part of ver. 2, are the consequences of the conditions (single and threefold respectively), which precede them.
3. For] This with the following verse contains a direct application of the foregoing words to Judah. They were after all the part of the nation in which the prophet was most directly interested, and he thus naturally seeks to bring them within the compass of his prophecy, and to rouse them to do that which he had urged upon Israel.
Break up] Make tallow for yourselves. The contrast is not between uncultivated ground and that which bears a crop, but between that which receives much and that which receives but little attention. The figure is accordingly drawn from land allowed to lie fallow, in order that it might thereby be presently made the fitter for cultivation. Land in this condition would be overgrown by thorns, and it was that there might be the opportunity to free the soil from these that the cultivator permitted it to be at rest from time to time for a short period. The point of the command then is this:—as the farmer is careful to clear the soil of weeds, before sowing his seed, so do you use care in the ground, and sow not among thorns. Circumcise yourselves 4 to the Lord, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings. Declare ye in Judah, 5 and publish in Jerusalem; and say, Blow ye the trumpet in the land: cry, gather together, and say, Assemble yourselves,
work of repentance. No hasty or scanty sowing in this case will bear fruit that I can accept. It must be done thoughtfully and with sustained diligence in order to prove effectual.
4. Circumcise yourselves to the Lord] The addition of the last three words mark that the verb is used in a spiritual sense, as is further shewn by the mention of the 'heart' in the same connexion. The nature of the injunction then is that all impurity, and especially idolatry as the crying sin of the nation, should be put away.
like fire] consuming all that opposes itself to its progress.
5. With this verse begins a group of addresses here given in substance, and reaching to the end of chap. x. The general subject is the same throughout, a declaration of the coming evil. The words as we have them, in all probability, formed a part of the roll as read in the ears of Jehoiakim, or afterwards enlarged, and represent the gist of Jeremiah's preaching during the latter part of Josiah's reign, that of Jehoahaz, and the beginning of that of Jehoiakim. During the greater part of this time it was still possible for the people to avert calamity by repentance and amendment of life. After Jehoiakim's reign had fairly begun and he had shewn that even the check which Josiah's personal character and influence had put upon idolatry was now removed, the condition of the nation became desperate. The near approach or actual arrival of that condition therefore was present to Jeremiah's mind throughout this section and coloured all his utterances. He speaks of the hostile army and of the destruction which it is about to deal. Judgment comes from the north, like the hot blast of the tempest not to be warded off by any human devices. At the beginning of chap. vii. there is a break caused by a new heading, and that with the three chapters that follow probably give us the exact words spoken by Jeremiah on a special occasion during this period. See notes there.
This and the subsequent verses are connected with the preceding as being an expanded description of the punishment there threatened. They give us a graphic picture of the excitement and dismay caused throughout the defenceless portions of the land by the approach of the enemy, and the hasty retreat to walled towns on the part of the country people.
Blow ye] addressed either to those whose duty it was so to do, or to those who should first become aware of the danger. cry, gather together] cry aloud.
Assemble yourselves] The inhabitants of the villages meet at a rendezvous and seek refuge in a body in the nearest fortified towns. So we