1 [It is a common] saying (see Deut. 24:1-4), ‘If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man's, shall he return to her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted?’ ‘but you have played the harlot with many lovers; yet [do you think to] return again to Me,’ (see v.7; 4:1) [is] the Lord's oracle.
2 Lift up your eyes to the high places, and see where you have not been lien with. In the ways have you sat for them, as the Arabian in the wilderness; and you have polluted the land with your whoredoms and with your wickedness.
3 Therefore the showers have been withheld (see Lev.26:19. Deut. 11:17; 28:23), and there has been no latter rain; and you had a whore's forehead (fig., put for impudence), you refused to be ashamed.
4 Will you not from this time cry to me, ‘My Father, You are the Friend of my youth?’
5 Will He reserve His anger for ever? will He keep it to the end? Behold, you have spoken and done the evil things as you could.’ ” (or, have had your way)
6 the Lord said also to me in the days of Josiah the king (this must be noted to understand the context), “Have You seen that which backsliding Israel has done? (here refers to the Northern Kingdom. In Jeremiah it usually refers to the whole nation) she is gone up upon every high mountain and under every green tree (cp. 2 :20, and Hos.4:13), and there has played the harlot. (The whole of this refers to idolatry, chiefly because of the uncleaness connected with the phallic worship of the Canaanite nations)
7 And I said after she had done all these things, ‘Turn you to Me.’ (or, "To Me she shall return") But she returned not. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it.
8 Though she saw (in transcribing from the ancient characters, Aleph [= a] was taken for Tau [= t], the two different letters differing only in one minute stroke. This shows that the primitive reading is correct), when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce (because they will not follow the commandment of God. See Deut.24:1. Cp. Isa. 50:1. Mark 10:4. Through Christ's death she [Israel] was allowed to re-marry); 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. (fig., put for the idols made from them. She didn't think anything about it. She worshiped anything)
10 And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah has not turned to Me with her whole heart, but in falsehood (the reformation was Josiah's. The People's heart was not changed), [is] the Lord's oracle.”
11 And the Lord said to me, “The backsliding Israel has justified her soul more than treacherous Judah. (cp. Ezek. 16:51,52)
J Q¹ 3:12 - 4:2. Israel. Q² 4:3 - 6:30. Judah.
Q¹ R¹ 3:12-. Call to return. Command. S¹ 3:-12. Reason. " T¹ 3:13. Conditions. " R² 3:14-. Call to return. " S¹ 3:-14-18. Reason. " T¹ 3:19-21. Conditions. " R³ 3:22-. Call to return. Obedience. S² 3:-22-25. Return. Reason. " T³ 4:1,2. Conditions. "
12 Go and proclaim these words toward the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and say, 'Return, you backsliding Israel, [is] the Lord's oracle; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: (Heb. cause My face, or countenance, to fall. Fig. put for the anger manifested by it. See Gen. 4:5,6)
for I am gracious (or, favorable), [is] the Lord's oracle, and I will not keep anger for ever. (see note on "reserve", v.5)
13 Only acknowledge your iniquity, that you have rebelled against the Lord your God, (this, from the first, was, and still is, the one condition of national blessing for Israel. See Lev.26:40,42) and have come from that place to this place to the strangers under every green tree (referring to the worship of the asherah. See Deut. 6:21), and you all have not obeyed My voice, [is] the Lord oracle.
14 Return, O backsliding children, [is] the Lord oracle;
S² i -14,15. Restoration. k 16. The Symbol. No longer the Ark. k 17. The Reality. The Throne. i 18. Restoration.
for I am become your husband to you (this will be the result of the Restoration here promised): and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family (or, group of cities), and I will bring you to Zion:
15 And I will give you pastors (lit. shepherds; but used in Jeremiah of kings, priests, and prophets, who were the guides of the people. See 2:8; 3:15; 10:21; 23:1,2,4; 25:34; 35:36) according to My heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.
16 And it shall come to pass, when you all be multiplied and increased in the land, in those days (i.e. in the days of the Restoration spoken of in vv.-14,15. Cp. 31:38-40; 33:13), [is] Yahaveh's oracle, they shall say no more, 'The ark of the covenant of the Lord': (the Ark was still in the land in the days of this prophecy [2 Chron. 35:5]; but it was to disappear with the broken covenant, of which it was the symbol. See Ex.25:22. Cp. note on 1 Chron. 13:3) neither shall it come to mind: neither shall they remember it; neither shall they visit it (this is conclusive of the fact that it was burnt together with the Temple [as it is not included in the excepted things, in 2 Kings 25:9,13-15], notwithstanding the Jewish tradition recorded in 2 Macc.2:4-8, and the impossible stories of it being taken over to North Africa, Constantinople, or Ireland. For its true location today, see Rev.11:19); neither shall that be made any more. (It disappeared together with the covenant, of which it was a symbol [8:19; 12:7. Ps. 132:13,14]. The reason follows in v.17. Yehovah's Throne will be substituted for it: the reality will take place of the symbol.Yehovah Himself will take the place of the Shekinah)
17 At that time (referring to the future Restoration) they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord (cp. Ps.87:2-7. Isa.60:1; 65:18; 66:7-13,20. Cp. 14:21 1 Sam.2:8. Ps. 47:8 with Matt 25:31 and Zeph.3:8); and all the nations shall be gathered to it (this shows that the prophecy refers to the yet future Restoration. Cp. 1:5,10), to the name of the Lord (see Ps. 20:1), to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the stubbornness of their evil heart. (Cp. 7:24. See Deut.29:19)
18 In those days (still referring to the future Restoration) the house of Judah shall go to the house of Israel (see 2:4), that they may enter together (or, at the same time) out of the land of the north to the land that I have given for an inheritance to your fathers.
19 But I said, 'How shall I put you among the sons, and give you a pleasant land (Heb. a land of desire, i.e. to be desired), a goodly heritage of the hosts of nations?' and I said, 'You shall call me, My father; and shall not turn away from Me.'
20 Surely as a wife treacherously departs from her guide (or, friend, as in v.4), so have you all dealt treacherously with me, O house of Israel, [is] the Lord oracle.
21 A voice was heard upon the places where they had sinned (cp. v.2), weeping and supplications of the sons of Israel: because they have perverted their way, and they have forgotten the Lord their God.
22 Return, all you backsliding sons, and I will heal your backslidings."
Behold (to mark the confession that will be made "in those days"), we come to You; for You are the Lord our God.
23 Thus continuing her confession as certainly as the hills [have proved] false, and the noisy throng on the mountains [an empty sound], so truly is the salvation of Israel with our God. (the "hill" and "mountains" are put by the Fig. Metonymy, for the idolatry practiced on them. Cp. Ezek. 18:6,11,15)
24 For the shameful thing ("shame" being put by the same Fig. as above, for the asherah which put them to shame. See v.25) has devoured the labor (put for all that had been produced by labor) of our fathers from our youth; their flocks and their herds,and their sons and their daughters.
25 We lie down in our shame, and our confusion covers us: for we have sinned against the Lord our God, we and our fathers, from our youth even to this day, and have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God.