1 They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man's, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted? but thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the LORD.
An analogy of what people in Jeremiah's day say compares a divorce and then adultery to (?) people's spiritual adultery, or idolatry, yet the Lord will take them back as his wife if they will return.
Another translation poses this as a question. Which mirrors the question in the analogy. Can you return to me?
2 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 and with thy wickedness.
3 Therefore the showers have been withholden, and there hath been no latter rain; and thou hadst a whore's forehead, thou refusedst to be ashamed.
The charges against them are whoredoms and wickedness. The Lord compares them to a prostitute and asks them to look and see if there is anywhere they have not had made love with their lovers. They waited on the road like bandits to ensnare their lovers and commit debauchery.
Then when it didn't rain because of covenant curses they acted like a whore and were not ashamed. They couldn't see their behavior led to a curse.
4 Wilt thou not from this time cry unto me, My father, thou art the guide of my youth?
5 Will he reserve his anger for ever? will he keep it to the end? Behold, thou hast spoken and done evil things as thou couldest.
But now they cry to the Lord and say My father, you are my youthful companion. Will his anger against them be forever will he rage until the end. However God says, you had your way and spoke as did evil as often as you could. The punishment is just.
6 The LORD said also unto me in the days of Josiah the 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.
7 And I said after she had done all these things, Turn thou unto me. But she returned not. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it.
The Lord speaks to his prophet and refers to Israel as backsliding or rebellious. She went up to every mountain literally and nation symbolically and under every tree or with anyone she could find and acted like a prostitute.
God said afterwards, return to me, but she would not, and Judah saw her behavior.
8 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.
9 And it came to pass through the lightness of her whoredom, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery with stones and with stocks.
10 And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah hath not turned unto me with her whole heart, but feignedly, saith the LORD.
11 And the LORD said unto me, The backsliding Israel hath justified herself more than treacherous Judah.
Israel historically rebelled and those tribes were lost. The Lord gave them a bill of divorce. Judah saw this and did not respect God but went into a state of rebellion also and committed adultery with idols and nations thereby breaking the covenant. The stones and stocks symbolize idols and nations, (I believe).
For all these charges the Lord brings against Judah they only half halfheartedly turn to him, they have some semblance of religious practices but their hearts are not turned toward God.
Then the Lord calls Judah treacherous, strong words, and they are in line with breaking a formal agreement.
12 Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith 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.
13 Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast 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.
A command is given for the prophet to go and speak his words towards the North, tell them to Return, rebellious Israel, and he will subdue his anger because He is merciful. He answers the questioned posed earlier, He will not be angry for ever. He only asks for them to admit their iniquity or wrong doing and how they have spread their favors with strangers and have not heard or obeyed His voice.
14 Turn, O backsliding 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:
15 And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.
16 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 that be done any more.
17 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 their evil heart.
18 In those days the house of Judah shall 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.
19 But I said, How shall I 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.
A transition to an eschatological frame or end time scenario begins with rebellious children, that is those who were in a covenant relationship with God but are not honoring that covenant. The Lord uses marriage as a type of his agreement with them. Then offers an unconditional covenant in the end times or latter days he will take one from a city and two from a family and bring them to Zion.
He will give them good teachers or pastors as His heart wants to, and they will feed his children with knowledge and understanding. Then when his children are increased and have posterity, in those days, the ark of the covenant of the Lord will be a thing of the past. This represents a millennial time frame.
Also, they will call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord, and all nations will go to Jerusalem, in the name the Lord, they will no longer commit adultery or worship idols by following their own evil imaginations.
Israel and Judah will walk together out of the land of the North back to their promised inheritance. This was his plan all along, He wanted to adopt them as His children, given them a pleasant land, and a heritage of all the nations. He thought they would call him Father, (In ancient times a wife would call her husband Father meaning The Man or the One in Charge,) and they would be loyal to Him forever.
20 Surely as a wife treacherously departeth from her husband, so have ye dealt treacherously with me, O house of Israel, saith the LORD.
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 God.
22 Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings. Behold, we come unto thee; for thou art the LORD our God.
Instead the house of Israel rebelled like a wife leaves her husband. A voice is heard, not the Lords voice, but of weeping and supplications. The LORD admonishes them to return or repent and he will heal their afflictions. Paralleled with the millennial context the LORD's people come unto him and call him the LORD our God, renewing the covenant relationship.
23 Truly in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of mountains: truly in the LORD our God is the salvation of Israel.
24 For shame hath devoured the labour of our fathers from our youth; their flocks and their herds, their sons and their daughters.
25 We lie 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.
Then the LORD's people pray with awareness and admit that trusting in other nations is vain and only the LORD GOD is the salvation of Israel. Recognition comes that shame came upon their fathers and all their works. A covenant curse on their heards and children.
1 Moreover the word of the Lord came to me, saying,
2 Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the Lord; I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown.
3 Israel was holiness unto the Lord, and the firstfruits of his increase: all that devour him shall offend; evil shall come upon them, saith the Lord.
God recalls his relationship with his people how they were kind in their youth, how they loved the contract of future marriage to the Lord, how they followed him in the wilderness after coming out of Egypt. Israel, he says, was holiness, and very special to the LORD. He protected them and brought evil upon any who offended them. He truly cared for his people and loved them.
4 Hear ye the word of the Lord, O house of Jacob, and all the families of the house of Israel:
5 Thus saith the Lord, What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that they are gone far from me, and have walked after vanity, and are become vain?
6 Neither said they, Where is the Lord that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, that 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 no man passed through, and where no man dwelt?
7 And I brought you into a plentiful country, to eat the fruit thereof and the goodness thereof; but when ye entered, ye defiled my land, and made mine heritage an abomination.
God addresses his people who he had made a covenant with in the past and tells them starting with a pointed question that the problem is not him but it's them. Their fathers have gone far from the LORD and walked or followed vanity and became vain. They didn't ask a crucial question, where is the LORD? The one that brought them out of slavery in Egypt and led them through deserts and pits and drought and the shadow of death, and gave them an inheritance in a plentiful land. God is saying that he did good things for them but they defiled the land and made the inheritance he gave them an abomination.
8 The priests said not, Where is the Lord? and they that handle the law knew me not: the pastors also transgressed against me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after things that do not profit.
Again no one asked the crucial question, where is the LORD? Their prophets even prophesied in the name of other gods and followed things that do not have value.
9 Wherefore I will yet plead with you, saith the Lord, and with your children's children will I plead.
God says that he will still plead with them. He is still willing to try to make this relationship work. With them and the generations that come after them of his people. But it is also saying that he is opening a court case against them. Bringing charges against them.
10 For pass over the isles of Chittim, and see; and send unto Kedar, and consider diligently, and see if there be such a thing.
11 Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit.
12 Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the Lord.
YAHWEH illustrates his point by saying that if you look to the furthest nations west the isles of Chittim, or look at the furthest nations east Kedar, and see if they have ever changed their gods, which are not really gods, they have not. But his people have changed their God for something of no value, for idols.
This is not a natural thing to do and so the heavens are astonished and afraid and desolate. Think of it like a sports fans team, do they change their team? It's not normal. But that is exactly what the LORD's people have done.
13 For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.
The two things that God's people have done are: They have forsaken the source of life and love or fountain of living waters, and worshiped instead false gods and humans that can hold no water, or life or love.
14 Is Israel a servant? is he a homeborn slave? why is he spoiled?
God points out that they should act like his people, but instead they are acting like servants and slaves. They are spoiled by their enemies. God would have protected them but they have forsaken him, time and time again.
15 The young lions roared upon him, and yelled, and they made his land waste: his cities are burned without inhabitant.
This reference to the young lions is both literal and allegorical. They represent the armies of the north and they burn Israel's cities so that they is no one left. But also actual young lions roar and make the land wast after it is destroyed.
16 Also the children of Noph and Tahapanes have broken the crown of thy head.
17 Hast thou not procured this unto thyself, in that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God, when he led thee by the way?
18 And now what hast thou to do in the way of Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor? or what hast thou to do in the way of Assyria, to drink the waters of the river?
Noph was the capital of lower Egypt and Tahapanes represents the Egyptians generally. They broke the crown of his people's head through Pharaoh Necho who killed the king of Judah, Josiah, at Megiddo, and placed puppet rulers on the throne deposing Jehoahaz.
His people have brought destruction on themselves because they have forsaken the Lord thy God, (the word thy here signifies a covenant relationship with Israel's God,) after he led them.
God then asks why his people will turn to Egypt for help and drink from the Nile, why trust in Egypt or Pharaoh, who has broken the crown of their head? Why would you put your trust in an enemy and go to them for help? The same goes for Assyria, the ruling power at this time, though their influence was quickly fading. Why will YAHWEH's people turn to another nation for help and trust or drink from their waters, but they will not trust or ask for help from the source or fountain of living waters, their God. The river signifies the king of Assyria and is a word link to Isaiah.
19 Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord God of hosts.
20 For of old time I have broken thy yoke, and burst thy bands; and thou saidst, I will not transgress; when upon every high hill and under every green tree thou wanderest, playing the harlot.
21 Yet I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me?
22 For though thou wash thee with nitre, and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before me, saith the Lord God.
It is Israel's own fault and they are punished. They bring it upon themselves. They will see just how evil and bitter the correction is after you forsake the covenant relationship with God and do not respect him. Also the name LORD GOD of hosts or of armies is used showing that God is in control of the nations.
In the past God delivered his people from slavery and bondage and they promised they would not transgress his law. That's how the King James sounds anyways. In the original Hebrew though it is says, you broke off your yoke, you burst your bands, and said, I will not work!
Everywhere they go they play the harlot. They cheat on him with other gods and rulers of nations. This also alludes to the fertility cults that was common practice in Jerusalem and Judah.
He the LORD planted them with nobility as a vine, something that bears fruit, with the choicest seed. But they have become like strange aliens to him. Even if they use lots of soap to clean themselves their guilt is marked or seen by God.
23 How canst thou say, I am not polluted, I have not gone after Baalim? see thy way in the valley, know what thou hast done: thou art a swift dromedary traversing her ways;
24 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 loved strangers, and after them will I go.
The LORD's people are in a state of delusion. They may say they have not gone after other gods, but their deeds say otherwise. Are are compared to a lustful she-camel in heat who is seeking out a mate and is easy to find. It's like they are going barefoot and thirsty, but they basically say, we can't help ourselves, we have to go after other gods.
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.
27 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 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.
29 Wherefore will ye plead with me? ye all have transgressed against me, saith the Lord.
Just like a thief feels distressed or humiliated when they are caught so are his people, especially the leaders. They say to wood, you are my father. To stone, you gave birth to me. But to the LORD they turn their backs and not their faces towards him. When the hour of calamity comes they will cry out to God to arise and save them. But God asks where are the gods or idols that they made for themselves, let them save you in the hour of calamity. Because their gods have become as numerous as the towns of Judah.
Why do they call the LORD to account when they have all rebelled against him.
30 In vain have I smitten your children; they received no correction: your own sword hath devoured your prophets, like a destroying lion.
31 O generation, see ye the word of the Lord. Have I been a wilderness unto Israel? a land of darkness? wherefore say my people, We are lords; we will come no more unto thee?
God tried to correct and help them but it didn't do any good. "your own sword hath devoured your prophets," is most likely a reference to king Manasseh who killed prophets who rebuked him. However, the lion is a reference to the King of Babylon, and coupling these two people together in this way, represents that king Manasseh is a 'type' of what the King of Babylon will be like in the latter days or end times. It's an eschatological keyword. Jeremiah was clearly familiar with Isaiah's writings.
God calls on this generation to behold his Word. The questions asked are very rhetorical. Of course he has not been a wilderness to them or a land of darkness, quite the opposite in fact. So why do his people say, we are in charge of ourselves, we won't come to You anymore.
32 Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? yet my people have forgotten me days without number.
33 Why trimmest thou thy way to seek love? therefore hast thou also taught the wicked ones thy ways.
34 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 all these.
35 Yet thou sayest, Because I am innocent, surely his anger shall turn from me. Behold, I will plead with thee, because thou sayest, I have not sinned.
Women generally don't go out without putting on make-up or earrings what have you, and a bride never forgets her wedding dress, but the LORD's people have forgotten him for a very long time.
God points out that they are very skilled at seeking love and have taught the worst women among them their ways, it's a reference to the fertility cults and prostitution. Moreover, the blood of the innocent poor is found on their clothes. I like they King James saying it's obvious and not found by secret. The Hebrew expresses the idea that the poor were not caught breaking in and then killed, because then they may be justified in murder.
But his people say they are innocent and God will not punish them. But YAHWEH will bring these charges against them in the court case because they say they have not sinned even after they do all these things he has mentioned.
36 Why gaddest thou about so much to change thy way? thou also shalt be ashamed of Egypt, as thou wast ashamed of Assyria.
37 Yea, 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.
His people cheapen themselves or sell themselves for no profit by changing their course of following him. And they will be put to shame by trusting in Egypt just as they were put to shame by trusting in the Assyrians for help from their enemies.
They will come out of their land with their hands on their heads in shame because God has rejected the nations they trust and they will not prosper with them.
1 The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests that were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin:
2 To whom the word of the LORD came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign.
3 It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the carrying away of Jerusalem captive in the fifth month.
The introduction tells us that Jeremiah was a son of Hilkiah, inferring that he and his father were both priests in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin. His prophetic ministry spanned 40 years starting in the thirteenth year of Josiah the king and lasted through the reign of Jehoiakim and until Josiah when Jerusalem was carried captive into Babylon.
4 Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.
The prophet was known to YAHWEH before he was conceived and before he was born he was sanctified and ordained to be a prophet to the nations. His ministry would encompass the entire ancient near east or the known world at the time.
6 Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child.
7 But the LORD said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak.
8 Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD.
9 Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.
10 See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.
Jeremiah was concerned that he couldn't do what YAHWEH wanted. He was young. Inexperienced with public speaking and afraid of what others would think of him. But the LORD said to him, say not, I am a child. He was told to go wherever the LORD sent him and say whatever he was told to say.
He is told not to be afraid. That I am with you to deliver you. Then the LORD reaches out and touches Jeremiah's mouth. Now, this is not an allegory. This is a literal face to face interaction with God. After touching the newly appointed prophet's mouth the LORD says, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth. God will from here on out be speaking through Jeremiah.
The prophet is set over the nations and over kingdoms to root out, and pull down, and to destroy, and throw down, to build, and to plant. The first part of his mission is not very nice language. Kingdoms will rise and fall during his ministry, people will die, but at the end of it all he will build and plant. So it's not all bad news.
11 Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Jeremiah, what seest thou? And I said, I see a rod of an almond tree.
12 Then said the LORD unto me, Thou hast well seen: for I will hasten my word to perform it.
Just as Jeremiah sees the almond tree so the LORD is watching to fulfill his words or perform them. There is a play on words that happens here in the Hebrew as the word almond, shaked, also translates, to watch.
13 And the word of the LORD came unto me the second time, saying, What seest thou? And I said, I see a seething pot; and the face thereof is toward the north.
Jeremiah hears YAHWEH and then sees a pot that is boiling over and spilling out towards the north. This is a symbolic representation of a pronouncement of evil against all nations.
14 Then the LORD said unto me, Out of the north an evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land.
15 For, lo, I will call all the families of the kingdoms of the north, saith the LORD; and they shall come, and they shall set every one his throne at the entering of the gates of Jerusalem, and against all the walls thereof round about, and against all the cities of Judah.
Destruction from the North is a major theme in the book of Jeremiah. All the families of the kingdoms of the north are called and come and set up their authority over Jerusalem, lay siege to the holy city, and overrun all the cities of Judah.
16 And I will utter my judgments against them touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, and worshipped the works of their own hands.
This verse is also a major theme. The forsaking of the LORD and worshiping other gods and the works of their own hands, is the wickedness the people have committed. The root of the problem.
17 Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them.
18 For, behold, I have made thee this day a defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brasen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the people of the land.
19 And they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith the LORD, to deliver thee.
The prophet is now officially commissioned to go and speak everything that YAHWEH tells him to say. He is warned not to worry about the reception of his words or how they are received, or else God will confound Jeremiah before the people.
In the Ancient Near East the kings and leaders of many of the worlds empires would refer to themselves in arrogance in symbolic terms such as an iron pillar or having feet made of brass, here, God is using this kind of language to give Jeremiah confidence. No one will be able to overcome YAHWEH's prophet. They will fight against him but will not prevail. Because God will deliver Jeremiah.