Jeremiah – Chapter 2

The Bible – Old Testament


Chapter 2


1 This word of the LORD came to me:


2 Go, cry out this message for Jerusalem to hear! I remember the devotion of your youth, how you loved me as a bride, Following me in the desert, in a land unsown.


3 Sacred to the LORD was Israel, the first fruits of his harvest; Should anyone presume to partake of them, evil would befall him, says the LORD.


Listen to the word of the LORD, O house of Jacob! All you clans of the house of Israel,


thus says the LORD: What fault did your fathers find in me that they withdrew from me, Went after empty idols, and became empty themselves?


They did not ask, «Where is the LORD who brought us up from the land of Egypt, Who led us through the desert, through a land of wastes and gullies, Through a land of drought and darkness, through a land which no one crosses, where no man dwells?»


When I brought you into the garden land to eat its goodly fruits, You entered and defiled my land, you made my heritage loathsome.


4 The priests asked not, «Where is the LORD?» Those who dealt with the law knew me not: the shepherds rebelled against me. The prophets prophesied by Baal, and went after useless idols.


Therefore will I yet accuse you, says the LORD, and even your children’s children I will accuse.


5 Pass over to the coast of the Kittim and see, send to Kedar and carefully inquire: Where has the like of this been done?


Does any other nation change its gods? –  yet they are not gods at all! But my people have changed their glory for useless things.


Be amazed at this, O heavens, and shudder with sheer horror, says the LORD.


Two evils have my people done: they have forsaken me, the source of living waters; They have dug themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that hold no water.


6 Is Israel a slave, a bondman by birth? Why then has he become booty?


Against him lions roar full-throated cries. They have made his land a waste; his cities are charred ruins, without inhabitant.


7 Yes, the people of Memphis and Tahpanhes shave the crown of your head.


Has not the forsaking of the LORD, your God, done this to you?


8 And now, why go to Egypt, to drink the waters of the Nile? Why go to Assyria, to drink the waters of the Euphrates?


Your own wickedness chastises you, your own infidelities punish you. Know then, and see, how evil and bitter is your forsaking the LORD, your God, And showing no fear of me, says the Lord, the GOD of hosts.


9 Long ago you broke your yoke, you tore off your bonds. «I will not serve,» you said. On every high hill, under every green tree, you gave yourself to harlotry.


I had planted you, a choice vine of fully tested stock; How could you turn out obnoxious to me, a spurious vine?


Though you scour it with soap, and use much lye, The stain of your guilt is still before me, says the Lord GOD.


10 How can you say, «I am not defiled, I have not gone after the Baals»? Consider your conduct in the Valley, recall what you have done: A frenzied she-camel, coursing near and far,


breaking away toward the desert, Snuffing the wind in her ardor –  who can restrain her lust? No beasts need tire themselves seeking her; in her month they will meet her.


Stop wearing out your shoes and parching your throat! But you say, «No use! no! I love these strangers, and after them I must go.»


As the thief is shamed when caught, so shall the house of Israel be shamed: They, their kings and their princes, their priests and their prophets;


They who say to a piece of wood, «You are my father,» and to a stone, «You gave me birth.» They turn to me their backs, not their faces; yet, in their time of trouble they cry out, «Rise up and save us!»


Where are the gods you made for yourselves? Let them rise up! Will they save you in your time of trouble? For as numerous as your cities are your gods, O Judah! And as many as the streets of Jerusalem are the altars you have set up for Baal.


How dare you still plead with me? You have all rebelled against me, says the LORD.


In vain I struck your children; the correction they did not take. Your sword devoured your prophets like a ravening lion.


You, of this generation, take note of the word of the Lord: Have I been a desert to Israel, a land of darkness? Why do my people say, «We have moved on, we will come to you no more»?


Does a virgin forget her jewelry, a bride her sash? Yet my people have forgotten me days without number.


How well you pick your way when seeking love! You who, in your wickedness, have gone by ways unclean!


You, on whose clothing there is the life-blood of the innocent, whom you found committing no burglary;


Yet withal you say, «I am innocent; at least, his anger is turned away from me.» Behold, I will judge you on that word of yours, «I have not sinned.»


How very base you have become in changing your course! By Egypt will you be shamed, as you were shamed by Assyria.


From there also shall you go away with hands upon your head; For the LORD has rejected those in whom you trust, with them you will have no success.

1 [1-3, 5] These verses probably contain the earliest of Jeremiah’s preachings. The covenant relationship, symbolized by the figure of a marriage, was frequently broken by Israel, seen here as an unfaithful wife unworthy of reconciliation with God (⇒ Jeremiah 3:1-5).
2 [2] Devotion: Israel’s gratitude, fidelity, and love for God.
3 [3] First fruits: an offering to God which became his exclusive property, and could therefore not be put to profane use; cf ⇒ Lev 22:1.
4 [8] Those who dealt with the law: the priests. The shepherds: the kings and nobles.
5 [10] Kittim: a Phoenician colony in Cyprus. Kedar: a nomad tribe of the Syrian desert. These two names represent West and East.
6 [14] Bondman by birth: a perpetual slave, different from the debt-slave, who was to be freed after six years; cf ⇒ Exodus 21:2.
7 [16] Memphis: the capital of Lower Egypt. Tahpanhes: A frontier city of Egypt, east of the Delta. Shave the crown of your head: the spoilation of Judah at the hands of the Egyptians.
8 [18] Egypt and Assyria were the protecting foreign powers favored by rival parties within Judah. The desire for such foreign alliances is a further desertion of the Lord, the source of living waters (⇒ Jeremiah 2:13), in favor of the above-named powers, symbolized by the Nile and the Euphrates rivers.
9 [20] Harlotry: idolatry (because Israel is the bride of God).
10 [23] The Valley: of Ben-hinnom, south of Jerusalem, site of the infamous sanctuary of Topheth where children were sacrificed to Molech; cf ⇒ Jeremiah 7:31.