Jeremiah 2

 

וַיְהִי דְבַר־יְהוָה אֵלַי לֵאמֹר׃   2:1

Jere. 2:1   And the word of the Lord occurred to me saying,

הָלֹךְ וְקָרָאתָ בְאָזְנֵי יְרוּשָׁלִַם לֵאמֹר כֹּה אָמַר יְהוָה זָכַרְתִּי לָךְ חֶסֶד נְעוּרַיִךְ אַהֲבַת כְּלוּלֹתָיִךְ לֶכְתֵּךְ   2:2    אַחֲרַי בַּמִּדְבָּר בְּאֶרֶץ לֹא זְרוּעָה׃

Jere. 2:2   “Go, and you will cry in the ears of Jerusalem saying, ‘Thus says the Lord:

                    ‘I recount to you the goodliness of your youth,

                           the love of your espousals,

                    your coming after Me in the wilderness,

                           in a land not sown.’”

קֹדֶשׁ יִשְׂרָאֵל לַיהוָה רֵאשִׁית תְּבוּאָתֹה כָּל־אֹכְלָיו יֶאְשָׁמוּ רָעָה תָּבֹא אֲלֵיהֶם נְאֻם־יְהוָה׃   2:3

Jere. 2:3   The holiness of Israel is the Lord’s,

                           the first fruit of His produce.

                    “All its devourers shall be held guilty;

                           evil shall come to them,”

                    declares the Lord.

שִׁמְעוּ דְבַר־יְהוָה בֵּית יַעֲקֹב וְכָל־מִשְׁפְּחֹות בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל   2:4

Jere. 2:4   Hear the word of the Lord,

                           O house of Jacob,

                    and all families of the house of Israel!

כֹּה אָמַר יְהוָה מַה־מָּצְאוּ אֲבֹותֵיכֶם בִּי עָוֶל כִּי רָחֲקוּ מֵעָלָי וַיֵּלְכוּ אַחֲרֵי הַהֶבֶל וַיֶּהְבָּלוּ׃   2:5

Jere. 2:5   Thus says the Lord:

                            “What did your fathers find in Me of injustice

                    that they withdrew from Me,

                            and went after what was vain,

                    and became vain?”

וְלֹא אָמְרוּ אַיֵּה יְהוָה הַמַּעֲלֶה אֹתָנוּ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם הַמֹּולִיךְ אֹתָנוּ בַּמִּדְבָּר בְּאֶרֶץ עֲרָבָה וְשׁוּחָה   2:6    בְּאֶרֶץ צִיָּה וְצַלְמָוֶת בְּאֶרֶץ לֹא־עָבַר בָּהּ אִישׁ וְלֹא־יָשַׁב אָדָם שָׁם׃

Jere. 2:6   “And they did not say,

                           ‘Where is the Lord

                   Who brought up us from the land of Egypt,

                          Who led us through the wilderness,

                    through a land of desert and chasm,

                           through a land of drought

                    and the shadow of death,

                           through a land no one passed over it

                    and no human dwelled there?’”

וָאָבִיא אֶתְכֶם אֶל־אֶרֶץ הַכַּרְמֶל לֶאֱכֹל פִּרְיָהּ וְטוּבָהּ וַתָּבֹאוּ וַתְּטַמְּאוּ אֶת־אַרְצִי וְנַחֲלָתִי שַׂמְתֶּם   2:7   לְתֹועֵבָה׃

Jere. 2:7   “Then I brought you to the land of fruitful fields

                            to eat of its fruit and goodness,

                   but you came and made My land unclean,

                            and you made My inheritance

                   for an abomination.”

הַכֹּהֲנִים לֹא אָמְרוּ אַיֵּה יְהוָה וְתֹפְשֵׂי הַתֹּורָה לֹא יְדָעוּנִי וְהָרֹעִים פָּשְׁעוּ בִי וְהַנְּבִיאִים נִבְּאוּ בַבַּעַל   2:8   וְאַחֲרֵי לֹא־יֹועִלוּ הָלָכוּ׃

Jere. 2:8   “The priests did not say,

                             ‘Where is the Lord?’

                   And the handlers of the Torah did not know Me.

                            And the rulers transgressed against Me.

                   And the prophets prophesied through Baal

                            and went after worthless things.”

לָכֵן עֹד אָרִיב אִתְּכֶם נְאֻם־יְהוָה וְאֶת־בְּנֵי בְנֵיכֶם אָרִיב׃   2:9

Jere. 2:9   “However yet will I plead with you,” declares the Lord,

                            “and I will plead with the children of your children.”

The Lord never gives up on us.  How marvelous and amazing!

כִּי עִבְרוּ אִיֵּי כִתִּיִּים וּרְאוּ וְקֵדָר שִׁלְחוּ וְהִתְבֹּונְנוּ מְאֹד וּרְאוּ הֵן הָיְתָה כָּזֹאת׃   2:10

Jere. 2:10   “For cross over to the isles of the Kittites

                             and you will see,

                     and send to Kedar,

                             and consider diligently,

                     and see if there has been such a thing.”

הַהֵימִיר גֹּוי אֱלֹהִים וְהֵמָּה לֹא אֱלֹהִים וְעַמִּי הֵמִיר כְּבֹודֹו בְּלֹוא יֹועִיל׃   2:11

Jere. 2:11   “Has any nation disposed of gods

                              and they were not gods?

                     Yet My people has changed its glory

                              into nothing of value.”

שֹׁמּוּ שָׁמַיִם עַל־זֹאת וְשַׂעֲרוּ חָרְבוּ מְאֹד נְאֻם־יְהוָה׃   2:12

Jere. 2:12   “O heavens, be appalled by this,

                              and very afraid,

                     exceedingly devastated,”

                              declares the Lord.

כִּי־שְׁתַּיִם רָעֹות עָשָׂה עַמִּי אֹתִי עָזְבוּ מְקֹור מַיִם חַיִּים לַחְצֹב לָהֶם בֹּארֹות בֹּארֹת נִשְׁבָּרִים אֲשֶׁר   2:13  לֹא־יָכִלוּ הַמָּיִם׃

Jere. 2:13   “For My people has committed two evils:

                              They have forsaken Me,

                     a Fountain of living waters,

                               to hew cisterns for themselves,

                     burst cisterns, which cannot hold any water.”

What are the two evils?  They have forsaken the Lord is one.  Is hewing cisterns (a metaphor for other gods) the other?  I imagine so, although the Hebrew does not make it clear.  And no other evils are mentioned here.

הַעֶבֶד יִשְׂרָאֵל אִם־יְלִיד בַּיִת הוּא מַדּוּעַ הָיָה לָבַז׃   2:14

Jere. 2:14   “Is Israel a servant?

                               If it is born of the house,

                     why has it become for a prey?”

These questions are apparently intended to be facetious.  Of course, Israel is a servant -- of the Lord!  Then why has it become a prey?  Obviously, because of its infidelity.

עָלָיו יִשְׁאֲגוּ כְפִרִים נָתְנוּ קֹולָם וַיָּשִׁיתוּ אַרְצֹו לְשַׁמָּה עָרָיו (נִצְּתָה) [נִצְּתוּ] מִבְּלִי יֹשֵׁב׃   2:15

Jere. 2:15   “Lions would roar upon it,

                               emit their growl,

                     and they would make its land

                               to be a desolation,

                      its cities kindled,

                              without habitation.”

The first of a number of errors found in this chapter appears here.  The word in parentheses, translated as kindled, has a feminine singular ending whereas it seems it should have a masculine plural ending, to follow its apparent subject, cities.  However, I suspect that the customary correction in the brackets is not appropriate.  I interpret the word for kindled as an adjective modifying cities, not a verb.  For it to be a verb, one would have to add the helping verb would be, but because the verb -  if it is a verb -- is obviously of the perfect tense, while all the other verbs in the verse are imperfect in tense, the spelling of the correction would have to be totally different from the original error.  Therefore, I believe the correction should not be as shown, but should instead be [~ytC'n], which is an adjective modifying cities.

גַּם־בְּנֵי־נֹף (וְתַחְפְּנֵס) [וְתַחְפַּנְחֵס] יִרְעוּךְ קָדְקֹד׃   2:16

Jere. 2:16   “Also the children of Noph and of Tahpanhes

                              shall feed of your scalp.”

The second error appears in this verse.  The name in the parentheses is missing a second chet.  The correction is in the brackets.  The two names are those of cities in Egypt.

הֲלֹוא־זֹאת תַּעֲשֶׂה־לָּךְ עָזְבֵךְ אֶת־יְהוָה אֱלֹהַיִךְ בְּעֵת מֹולִיכֵךְ בַּדָּרֶךְ׃   2:17

Jere. 2:17   “Will not this be done to you?

                              Your forsaking the Lord, your God,

                     when He was guiding you in the way!”

וְעַתָּה מַה־לָּךְ לְדֶרֶךְ מִצְרַיִם לִשְׁתֹּות מֵי שִׁחֹור וּמַה־לָּךְ לְדֶרֶךְ אַשּׁוּר לִשְׁתֹּות מֵי נָהָר׃   2:18

Jere. 2:18   “So now why is it you are on the way to Egypt,

                                to drink the waters of Shihor?

                      And why is it you are on the way to Assyria,

                                to drink the waters of the River?”

תְּיַסְּרֵךְ רָעָתֵךְ וּמְשֻׁבֹותַיִךְ תֹּוכִחֻךְ וּדְעִי וּרְאִי כִּי־רַע וָמָר עָזְבֵךְ אֶת־יְהוָה אֱלֹהָיִךְ וְלֹא פַחְדָּתִי אֵלַיִךְ   2:19 נְאֻם־אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה צְבָאֹות׃

Jere. 2:19   “Your own wickedness shall admonish you,

                               and your backslidings shall rebuke you.

                     Then know and see that

                               your forsaking the Lord, your God,

                      is evil and bitter, and awe of Me is not in you,”

                               declares the Master, the Lord of hosts.

כִּי מֵעֹולָם שָׁבַרְתִּי עֻלֵּךְ נִתַּקְתִּי מֹוסְרֹתַיִךְ וַתֹּאמְרִי לֹא (אֶעֱבֹד) [אֶעֱבֹור] כִּי עַל־כָּל־גִּבְעָה גְּבֹהָה   2:20  וְתַחַת כָּל־עֵץ רַעֲנָן אַתְּ צֹעָה זֹנָה׃

Jere. 2:20   “For from of old I have broken your yoke,

                               torn off your bonds, and you said,

                      ‘I will not transgress.’

                              But you lay down, a harlot,

                      on every high hill and under every green tree.”

Here is another (possible) error.  The word in parentheses can be translated as I will [not] be a servant.  In the context that would not be incorrect.  The assumed correction in the brackets can be translated as shown, I will [not] transgress.  But I suspect, the original could still be appropriate.  The third and fourth lines would then read “‘I will not be a servant,’ when you lay down, a harlot, ...”  I believe either form could be considered correct.

וְאָנֹכִי נְטַעְתִּיךְ שֹׂרֵק כֻּלֹּה זֶרַע אֱמֶת וְאֵיךְ נֶהְפַּכְתְּ לִי סוּרֵי הַגֶּפֶן נָכְרִיָּה׃   2:21

Jere. 2:21   “Now I planted you, a choice vine,

                               entirely a trustworthy seed.

                     Then how did you become degenerate things

                               of the strange vine to Me?

כִּי אִם־תְּכַבְּסִי בַּנֶּתֶר וְתַרְבִּי־לָךְ בֹּרִית נִכְתָּם עֲוֹנֵךְ לְפָנַי נְאֻם אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה׃   2:22

Jere. 2:22   “Even if you were to wash in nitre

                               and take much soap for yourself,

                     your iniquity is marked before Me,”

                               declares the Master, the Lord.

אֵיךְ תֹּאמְרִי לֹא נִטְמֵאתִי אַחֲרֵי הַבְּעָלִים לֹא הָלַכְתִּי רְאִי דַרְכֵּךְ בַּגַּיְא דְּעִי מֶה עָשִׂית בִּכְרָה קַלָּה   2:23 מְשָׂרֶכֶת דְּרָכֶיהָ׃

Jere. 2:23   “How can you say,

                               ‘I am not defiled;

                      I do not go after the Baalim?’

                              See your way in the narrow valley!

                     Understand what it is you are doing!

                              A swift young camel that is traversing its ways!”

Considering the last English line, I believe Jeremiah is comparing Israel to a dumb animal that rushes about aimlessly and without purpose.

פֶּרֶה לִמֻּד מִדְבָּר בְּאַוַּת (נַפשֹׁו) [נַפְשָׁהּ] שָׁאֲפָה רוּחַ תַּאֲנָתָהּ מִי יְשִׁיבֶנָּה כָּל־מְבַקְשֶׁיהָ לֹא יִיעָפוּ   2:24 בְּחָדְשָׁהּ יִמְצָאוּנְהָ׃

Jere. 2:24   A wild ass is accustomed to the wilderness,

                               in the pleasure of her appetite.

                     She pants.

                              Her sexual drive, who can reverse it?

                     All seeking her need not weary themselves,

                               in her month they will find her.

Here we find another error.  The Hebrew pronoun for [his] appetite, as shown in the parentheses, is spelled in the masculine form, but the rest of the verse shows that the term refers to the heat of a female ass.  So the correction is found in the brackets.  In the fifth line all seeking her is intended to refer to all the other male asses.  The whole verse is a metaphor for Israel, who is the female ass seeking out her sires -- other people’s gods.

מִנְעִי רַגְלֵךְ מִיָּחֵף (וּגֹורֹנֵךְ) [וּגְרֹונֵךְ] מִצִּמְאָה וַתֹּאמְרִי נֹואָשׁ לֹוא כִּי־אָהַבְתִּי זָרִים וְאַחֲרֵיהֶם אֵלֵךְ׃   2:25

Jere. 2:25   Withhold your feet from being unshod

                               and your throat from thirst!

                      But you say, “It is hopeless.

                               No, for I love strangers

                      and I will go after them.”

The next error of the chapter is in this verse.  The word in parentheses, translated as your throat, is misspelled, the vav being in the wrong place.  As spelled the word can mean only your threshing-floor and related terms.  The correction is in the brackets.  Incidentally, all the second-person pronouns in this verse, which refer to Israel, are feminine, thus recalling the previous verse.

כְּבֹשֶׁת גַּנָּב כִּי יִמָּצֵא כֵּן הֹבִישׁוּ בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל הֵמָּה מַלְכֵיהֶם שָׂרֵיהֶם וְכֹהֲנֵיהֶם וּנְבִיאֵיהֶם׃   2:26

Jere. 2:26   “Like a thief is ashamed when he is found,

                                so are put to shame the house of Israel,

                      them, their kings, their princes,

                                 their priests, and their prophets,

אֹמְרִים לָעֵץ אָבִי אַתָּה וְלָאֶבֶן אַתְּ (יְלִדְתִּני) [יְלִדְתָּנוּ] כִּי־פָנוּ אֵלַי עֹרֶף וְלֹא פָנִים וּבְעֵת רָעָתָם   2:27 יֹאמְרוּ קוּמָה וְהֹושִׁיעֵנוּ׃

Jere. 2:27   saying to a piece of wood,

                               ‘You are my father,’

                      and to a stone, ‘You bore me,’

                              when they turned the back to Me

                      and not the face,

                               then in the time of their trouble

                      they would say, ‘Arise and save us!’”

The final error of this chapter is found here.  The word in parentheses, translated as you bore me, is misspelled.  The vowel point under the tav is incorrect.  In addition, the yad suffix is thought to be a vav instead.  I accept the first error, but don’t accept the second one.  I believe the second error in the word is the vowel point under the nun.  Thus I believe the correction in the brackets is not completely appropriate.  Translated accurately, the correction means you bore us, which is not parallel to the first expression (you are my father).  I believe the appropriate correction should be [ynIT'd>liy>>].

וְאַיֵּה אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֲשֶׁר עָשִׂיתָ לָּךְ יָקוּמוּ אִם־יֹושִׁיעוּךָ בְּעֵת רָעָתֶךָ כִּי מִסְפַּר עָרֶיךָ הָיוּ אֱלֹהֶיךָ יְהוּדָה׃   2:28

Jere. 2:28   “So where are the gods that you made for yourself?

                               Let them arise if they can save you

                      in the time of your trouble,

                               for your gods are of the number of your cities, O Judah.”

לָמָּה תָרִיבוּ אֵלָי כֻּלְּכֶם פְּשַׁעְתֶּם בִּי נְאֻם־יְהוָה׃   2:29

Jere. 2:29   “Why must you be an adversary to Me?

                              All of you transgress against Me,”

                     declares the Lord.

I can’t believe the Lord asks “Why?”.  He well knows why.  It’s as it should be.  As I’ve said before, I believe we Jews had (and have) two choices.  One is to bring the world to the Lord by demonstrating our holiness and faithfulness to Him.  The other is to bring the world to the Lord by being the object of scorn by all the other nations and miraculously surviving forever, until the world comes to realize and understand God’s message through His chosen ones.  And God knows we continue to choose the latter alternative.

לַשָּׁוְא הִכֵּיתִי אֶת־בְּנֵיכֶם מוּסָר לֹא לָקָחוּ אָכְלָה חַרְבְּכֶם נְבִיאֵיכֶם כְּאַרְיֵה מַשְׁחִית׃   2:30

Jere. 2:30   “In vain have I smitten your children;

                              they did not receive correction.

                     Your sword consumed your prophets

                              like a destroying lion.”

הַדֹּור אַתֶּם רְאוּ דְבַר־יְהוָה הֲמִדְבָּר הָיִיתִי לְיִשְׂרָאֵל אִם אֶרֶץ מַאְפֵּלְיָה מַדּוּעַ אָמְרוּ עַמִּי רַדְנוּ   2:31    לֹוא־נָבֹוא עֹוד אֵלֶיךָ׃

Jere. 2:31   “O generation, do you discern the word of the Lord?

                              Have I been a wilderness to Israel?

                     Or a land of darkness?

                              Why do My people say,

                      ‘We have dominion;

                              we will not come to You anymore?’”

הֲתִשְׁכַּח בְּתוּלָה עֶדְיָהּ כַּלָּה קִשֻּׁרֶיהָ וְעַמִּי שְׁכֵחוּנִי יָמִים אֵין מִסְפָּר׃   2:32

Jere. 2:32   “Forgets a maid her ornaments,

                              a bride her attire?

                      But My people have forgotten Me

                              days without number.”

מַה־תֵּיטִבִי דַּרְכֵּךְ לְבַקֵּשׁ אַהֲבָה לָכֵן גַּם אֶת־הָרָעֹות לִמַּדְתִּי אֶת־דְּרָכָיִךְ׃   2:33

Jere. 2:33   “How you can make your way sweet to procure love!

                              As a result, along with the wicked women,

                      I have learned your ways.”

גַּם בִּכְנָפַיִךְ נִמְצְאוּ דַּם נַפְשֹׁות אֶבְיֹונִים נְקִיִּים לֹא־בַמַּחְתֶּרֶת מְצָאתִים כִּי עַל־כָּל־אֵלֶּה׃   2:34

Jere. 2:34   “Also they can find the blood

                              of the souls of the innocent poor on your skirts

                      -- you did not find them burglarizing.

                              When, besides all these things,

וַתֹּאמְרִי כִּי נִקֵּיתִי אַךְ שָׁב אַפֹּו מִמֶּנִּי הִנְנִי נִשְׁפָּט אֹותָךְ עַל־אָמְרֵךְ לֹא חָטָאתִי׃   2:35

Jere. 2:35   then you said,

                              'Certainly I am innocent;

                     surely His anger is turned away from me.'

                             Behold, I am judging you,

                     because of your answer:

                              ‘I have not sinned.’”

מַה־תֵּזְלִי מְאֹד לְשַׁנֹּות אֶת־דַּרְכֵּךְ גַּם מִמִּצְרַיִם תֵּבֹושִׁי כַּאֲשֶׁר־בֹּשְׁתְּ מֵאַשּׁוּר׃   2:36

Jere. 2:36   How you will be greatly spent

                             to change your ways!

                      Even from Egypt you will be shamed,

                             as you were shamed from Assyria.                            [Return to Jere. 37:7]

גַּם מֵאֵת זֶה תֵּצְאִי וְיָדַיִךְ עַל־רֹאשֵׁךְ כִּי־מָאַס יְהֹוָה בְּמִבְטַחַיִךְ וְלֹא תַצְלִיחִי לָהֶם׃   2:37

Jere. 2:37   Also, from this, you will go forth

                             with your hands upon your head.

                     For the Lord rejects your security,

                             and you will not prosper for them,

First, this verse traditionally ends the chapter.  Normally the verse ends with a period, the first verse of the next chapter beginning rather awkwardly as a result.  To remove the awkwardness, I end this verse with a comma, so it continues to the first verse of the next chapter.

Second, I must comment on the way in which Jeremiah seems to depict the Lord by his choice of words.  As I read this chapter, beginning with v. 2:9, in which the Lord says He will plead with the present and future generations, I envision a God Who is confounded by the stubbornness of Israel, helpless to change their hearts, futile in His efforts to bring correction, and blaming Israel for His inability.  I can’t accept that view of God.  As I believe Him to be, He is aware (from the beginning) of Israel’s perpetual intransigence, is “waiting” patiently for their ultimate awakening, weeps at the foolishness of His children, loves them unconditionally, and continually forgives them.  And I believe we are really witnessing Jeremiah’s frustration as he interprets what he hears from the Lord.

 

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