Jeremiah 2:34
Also in your skirts is found the blood of the souls of the poor innocents: I have not found it by secret search, but on all these.
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(34) Also in thy skirts . . .—The general meaning is clear, and points to the guilt of Israel in offering her children—the “poor innocents”—in horrid sacrifice to Molech; perhaps, also, to her maltreatment of the prophets. Their “blood” is on the “skirts” of her raiment; perhaps, if we take another reading, on the “palms” of her hands. The last clause is, however, obscure enough. We have to choose, according to variations of reading and construction, between (1) I have not found it as by secret search (literally, by digging, as men dig through the wall of a house in search of plunder), but under every oak or terebinth, or, more probably, as in the Authorised version, upon all thesei.e., the sin was patent, flagrant, everywhere; and (2) Thou didst not find them (those who had been put to death) in the place of breaking throughi.e., in the act of the robber that would have deserved death (Exodus 22:2; Job 24:16); but because of all thisi.e., thou didst slay them through thy passion for idolatry. Of these (1) commends itself most.

2:29-37 The nation had not been wrought upon by the judgements of God, but sought to justify themselves. The world is, to those who make it their home and their portion, a wilderness and a land of darkness; but those who dwell in God, have the lines fallen to them in pleasant places. Here is the language of presumptuous sinners. The Jews had long thrown off serious thoughts of God. How many days of our lives pass without suitable remembrance of him! The Lord was displeased with their confidences, and would not prosper them therein. Men employ all their ingenuity, but cannot find happiness in the way of sin, or excuse for it. They may shift from one sin to another, but none ever hardened himself against God, or turned from him, and prospered.I have not found it ... - Rather, thou didst not find them breaking into thy house. The meaning is, that these poor innocents had committed no crime: they were not thieves caught in the act, whom the Law permitted men to slay Exodus 22:2, and therefore Israel in killing them was guilty of murder. The one crime here of theft is put for crime generally.

Upon all these - Or, because of all this. Thou killedst the poor innocents, not for any crime, but because of this thy lust for idolatry.

34. Also—not only art thou polluted with idolatry, but also with the guilt of shedding innocent blood [Maurer]. Rosenmuller not so well translates, "even in thy skirts," &c.; that is, there is no part of thee (not even thy skirts) that is not stained with innocent blood (Jer 19:4; 2Ki 21:16; Ps 106:38). See as to innocent blood shed, not as here in honor of idols, but of prophets for having reproved them (Jer 2:30; Jer 26:20-23).

souls—that is, persons.

search—I did not need to "search deep" to find proof of thy guilt; for it was "upon all these" thy skirts. Not in deep caverns didst thou perpetrate these atrocities, but openly in the vale of Hinnom and within the precincts of the temple.

In thy skirts, viz. of thy garments; a synecdoche of the kind; the tokens of thy cruelty may be seen openly there: or, in thy hands, as the LXX.: or a metaphor from birds of rapine, whose wings are bloody with their prey; but not so well. Is found the blood of the souls of the poor innocents, i.e. in thee is found the murders expressed here by blood of innocent persons, meant here by souls, comprising both their sacrificing of their little children to their idols, Psalm 106:37,38 Eze 16:20,21,36, murdering souls as well as bodies; and also all those cruelties, oppressions, and murders that they executed upon poor innocent persons, which were not a few in what Manasseh did, 2 Kings 21:16 Ezekiel 7:23 9:9, and in special the prophets, Jeremiah 2:30, that came in God’s name to reclaim them; which notes their desperate malice as well as cruelty, to slay their physicians.

By secret search, Heb. by digging; as if the earth had covered the blood, or as if they had committed their wickedness in some obscure places.

But upon all these; upon thy garments openly enough, as exposed to public view. There needs no such strict scrutiny to be made. Also in thy skirts is found the blood of the souls of the poor innocents,.... Either of the innocent infants of poor persons, who were sacrificed to Moloch; or of the poor prophets of the Lord, whom they slew, because they faithfully reproved them for their sins; and the blood of those being found in their skirts is expressive of the publicness and notoriety of their sin, and also of the large quantity of blood shed, inasmuch as the skirts of their garments were filled with it, as if they had trod and walked in blood; see Isaiah 63:3.

I have not found it by secret search; or, "by digging" (q); there was no need to dig for it; it lay above ground; it was upon their skirts, public enough: or, "in ditches", as the Septuagint and Vulgate Latin (r) versions; as when murders are privately and secretly committed; but these were done openly. Some read the words, "thou didst not find them with a digging instrument" (s); so Jarchi interprets the words,

"you did not find them with a digging instrument, or in digging, when you slew them;''

you did not find them prepared as thieves to break up your houses, or digging down your walls, and breaking through into your houses, then you would have been justified by the law in slaying them, Exodus 22:2, but this was not the case:

but upon all these; upon all their skirts, and not in ditches, or under ground; or, "for all these"; thou hast so done; not for their sins, for theft, or any other; but for their faithful reproofs and rebukes; so Jarchi, for all these words with which they reproved thee; or for all these, the idols on whose account, in the worship of them, the blood of the innocents was shed.

(q) "in suffossione", Vatablus, Calvin, De Dieu; "effossione", Junius & Tremellius; "perfossione", Schmidt. (r) , Sept. "in fossis", V. L. (s) "Cum perfossorio", Pagninus, Montanus; "sub. instrumento", Grotius; "terebro", Cocceius.

Also in thy {x} skirts is found the blood of the souls of the poor innocents: I have not found it by secret search, but upon all these.

(x) The prophets and the faithful are slain in every corner of your country.

34. blood, etc.] “The allusion may be to deaths due to miscarriage of justice or the result of exaction (Jeremiah 7:6, Jeremiah 22:3 end, 17; cf. Micah 3:10; Psalm 94:21), or to the sacrifice of children (see Jeremiah 19:4; cf. Psalm 106:38) or possibly to the martyrdoms under Manasseh (2 Kings 21:16; 2 Kings 24:4).” Dr.

I have not found it at the place of breaking in] or perhaps not at house-breaking didst thou catch them. The allusion is to the law (Exodus 22:2) by which it was permitted to slay a thief caught in the act of breaking into a house. The persons whom Israel had thus treated were in no such position, but such was nevertheless their fate.

but upon all these] The words are obscure and probably the text of the whole verse is corrupt. As it stands, “these” must refer to the misdeeds indicated or to the (bloodstained) “skirts” incriminating the offenders. By a slight modification of the MT. we get the LXX rendering of “all these,” viz. every oak. This, however, can hardly be defended.Verse 34. - Also in thy skirts, etc.; or, there is even fennel in thy skirts (or, perhaps, in thy sleeves - the wide sleeves of an Eastern mantle). The fact which follows is adduced as the crowning evidence of wickedness. Blood of the souls is explained by the statement in Leviticus 17:11, "The soul of the flesh [i.e. of the body] is in the blood;" hence the importance of the blood in the Mosaic sacrifices. The historical reference of this passage of Jeremiah may well be to the persecution of Manasseh, who is said to have "shed innocent blood very much" (2 Kings 21:16). It is Judah, no doubt, who is addressed, but the prophets mostly assume the "solidarity" of king and people (analogous to that of a forefather and his posterity); Manasseh, moreover, probably had the support of a large section of the population, at any rate in so far as he favored the inveterate cultus of the high places or local sanctuaries. I have not found it by secret search; rather, thou hast not found them breaking through (houses). The phraseology agrees with that of Exodus 22:2, the law against "breaking through;" it suggests that the houses of all but the highest class in ancient as well as often in modern Palestine, were made of mere sun-dried brick, which could be easily "dug into" (comp. Ezekiel 12:5; Matthew 6:19, 20, in the Greek). [Lieut. Conder states, it is true, that in hilly districts of Palestine the houses of the villages are built of stone, but he adds that the stone is simply taken from the ruins of the ancient towns.] Burglars caught in the act might be killed (Exodus 22:2), but the innocent victims of persecution could not be brought under this category, and hence those who slew them were really guilty of murder. But upon all these; rather, but because of all these things; i.e. not for any crime, but because of thine things," as in Jeremiah 3:7); so Hitzig, Keil Payne Smith; less naturally De Dieu, "because of those false gods" And yet idolatry brings to the people only disgrace, giving no help in the time of need. Jeremiah 2:26. "As a thief is shamed when he is taken, so is the house of Israel put to shame; they, their kings, their princes, their priests, and their prophets. Jeremiah 2:27. Because they say to the wood, Thou art my father; and to the stone, Thou hast borne me: for they have turned to me the back and not the face; but in the time of their trouble they say, Arise, and help us. Jeremiah 2:28. Where then are thy gods that thou hast made thee? let them arise, if they can help thee in the time of thy trouble; for as many as are thy cities, so many are thy gods, Judah." The thought in Jeremiah 2:26 and Jeremiah 2:27 is this, Israel reaps from its idolatry but shame, as the thief from stealing when he is caught in the act. The comparison in Jeremiah 2:26 contains a universal truth of force at all times. The perf. הובישׁוּ is the timeless expression of certainty (Hitz.), and refers to the past as well as to the future. Just as already in past time, so also in the future, idolatry brings but shame and confusion by the frustration of the hopes placed in the false gods. The "house of Israel" is all Israel collectively, and not merely the kingdom of the ten tribes. To give the greater emphasis to the reproaches, the leading ranks are mentioned one by one. אמרים, not: who say, but because (since) they say to the wood, etc., i.e., because they hold images of wood and stone for the gods to whom they owe life and being; whereas Jahveh alone is their Creator or Father and Genitor, Deuteronomy 32:6, Deuteronomy 32:18; Isaiah 64:7; Malachi 2:10. אבן is fem., and thus is put for mother. The Keri ילדתּנוּ is suggested solely by the preceding אמרים, while the Chet. is correct, and is to be read ילדתּני, inasmuch as each one severally speaks thus. - With "for they have turned" follows the reason of the statement that Israel will reap only shame from its idolatry. To the living God who has power to help them they turn their back; but when distress comes upon them they cry to Him for help (קוּמה והושׁיענוּ as in Psalm 3:8). But then God will send the people to their gods (idols); then will it discover they will not help, for all so great as their number is. The last clause of Jeremiah 2:28 runs literally: the number of thy cities are thy gods become, i.e., so great is the number of thy gods; cf. Jeremiah 11:13. Judah is here directly addressed, so that the people of Judah may not take for granted that what has been said is of force for the ten tribes only. On the contrary, Judah will experience the same as Israel of the ten tribes did when disaster broke over it.
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