Jeremiah 2:5
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?
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(5) Vanity.—In the special sense, as a synonym for idol-worship (Deuteronomy 32:21; 1Kings 16:13). As in the character of a husband wronged by his wife’s desertion Jehovah pleads with His people, and asks whether He has failed in anything.

2:1-8 Those who begin well, but do not persevere, will justly be upbraided with their hopeful and promising beginnings. Those who desert religion, commonly oppose it more than those who never knew it. For this they could have no excuse. God's spiritual Israel must own their obligations to him for safe conduct through the wilderness of this world, so dangerous to the soul. Alas, that many, who once appeared devoted to the Lord, so live that their professions aggravate their crimes! Let us be careful that we do not lose in zeal and fervency, as we gain knowledge.Render: "Israel" is an offering consecrated to Yahweh, His firstfruits of increase. The firstfruits were God's consecrated property, His portion of the whole harvest. Pagan, i. e., unconsecrated, nations must not meddle with Israel, because it is the nation consecrated to God. If they do, they will bring such guilt upon themselves as those incur who eat the first-fruits Leviticus 22:10, Leviticus 22:16. 5. iniquity—wrong done to them (Isa 5:4; Mic 6:3; compare De 32:4).

walked after vanity—contrasted with "walkest after me in the wilderness" (Jer 2:2): then I was their guide in the barren desert; now they take idols as their guides.

vanity … vain—An idol is not only vain (impotent and empty), but vanity itself. Its worshippers acquire its character, becoming vain as it is (De 7:26; Ps 115:8). A people's character never rises above that of its gods, which are its "better nature" [Bacon] (2Ki 17:15; Jon 2:8).

God having, as it were on his own behalf, shown how kind he had been, calls upon them to speak now, if they knew any thing of injury, either in breach of covenant or severity, that they can charge him with, that they have thus apostatized. See Poole "Isaiah 1:18"; See Poole "Isaiah 5:3": compare Micah 6:2-4. By this manner of speech his proceeding appears the more justifiable; he both makes their conviction the clearer, and the reproof the sharper.

Walked after vanity, viz. idols, showing their folly in going from God to such vain things as idols are, Deu 32:21 1 Samuel 12:20,21; and see on Isaiah 41:29; the abstract for the concrete, Ecclesiastes 1:2.

Become vain, viz. in following their imaginations; fools,

Romans 1:21,22, as senseless as the stocks and stones that they made their idols of, Psalm 115:8; and herein they are said to go far from God, and choose their delusions, Jonah 2:8.

Thus saith the Lord, what iniquity have your fathers found in me,.... What injustice or injury has been done them? there is no unrighteousness in God, nor can any be done by him; or what unfaithfulness, or want of truth and integrity in performing promises, had they found in him? he never suffers his faithfulness to fail, or any of the good things he has promised. So the Targum,

"what falsehood have your fathers found in my word?''

none at all; God is a covenant keeping God:

that they are gone far from me; from my fear, as the Chaldee paraphrase; from the word and worship, and ways of God:

and have walked after vanity; after idols, the vanities of the Gentiles, Jeremiah 14:22,

and are become vain? in their imaginations and in their actions, in their knowledge and in their practice, worshipping idols, as well as guilty of many other sins.

Thus saith the LORD, What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that they have gone {e} far from me, and have walked after vanity, and have become {f} vain?

(e) That is, fallen to vile idolatry.

(f) Altogether given to vanity, and are become blind and insensible as the idols that they serve.

5. Has Israel had any excuse for their disloyalty to Me? None.

have walked after vanity] ‘vanity’ (lit. a breath) is here used in the same sense as in 1 Kings 16:13. Jehovah and His prophets regarded idols simply as unsubstantial, unreal things. Hence ‘vanity’ (i.e. idols) expresses their view. So in 1 Corinthians 8:4. Cp. Jeremiah 2:8; Jeremiah 2:11, Jeremiah 16:19; 1 Samuel 12:21; Isaiah 44:9 f. Ch. Jeremiah 10:10 contrasts God as “the true God,” “the living God”; while the notions of that which is unreal and that which is positively injurious are combined in Jeremiah 16:19.

and are become vain] have their characters assimilated to the objects which they serve. Cp. Romans 1:21 f., they “became vain in their reasonings … they became fools.”

Verse 5. - What iniquity, etc.; rather, what unrighteousness, etc. (comp. Deuteronomy 32:4, "a God of faithfulness, and without unrighteousness," alluding to the "covenant" between Jehovah and Israel). God's condescending grace (his 'anavah, Psalm 18:36). As if he were under an obligation to Israel (comp. Micah 6:3, etc.; Isaiah 5:3). Vanity; i.e. the idols; literally, a breath (so Jeremiah 10:15; Jeremiah 14:22; Jeremiah 16:19). Are become vain. The whole being of man is affected by the want of solid basis to his religion (comp. Jeremiah 23:16; Psalm 115:8); and the evident allusion to our passage in Romans 1:21 (St. Paul has ἐματαιώθησαν, as Septuagint here). The clause is verbally repeated in 2 Kings 17:15, with reference to the ten tribes. Jeremiah 2:5But Israel did not remain true to its first love; it has forgotten the benefits and blessings of its God, and has fallen away from Him in rebellion.

Jeremiah 2:4-5

"Hear the word of Jahveh, house of Jacob, and all families of the house of Israel. Jeremiah 2:5. Thus saith Jahveh, What have your fathers found in me of wrongfulness, that they are gone far from me, and have gone after vanity, and are become vain? Jeremiah 2:6. And they said not, Where is Jahveh that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, that led us in the wilderness, in the land of steppes and of pits, in the land of drought and of the shadow of death, in a land that no one passes through and where no man dwells? Jeremiah 2:7. And I brought you into a land of fruitful fields, to eat its fruit and its goodness: and ye came and defiled my land, and my heritage ye have made an abomination. Jeremiah 2:8. The priests said not, Where is Jahveh? and they that handled the law knew me not: the shepherds fell away from me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal, and after them that profit not are they gone." The rebuke for ungrateful, faithless apostasy is directed against the whole people. The "house of Jacob" is the people of the twelve tribes, and the parallel member, "all families of the house of Israel," is an elucidative apposition. The "fathers" in Jeremiah 2:5 are the ancestors of the now living race onwards from the days of the Judges, when the generation arising after the death of Joshua and his contemporaries forsook the Lord and served the Baals (Judges 2:10.). עול, perversity, wrongfulness, used also of a single wicked deed in Psalm 7:4, the opposite to acting in truth and good faith. Jahveh is a God of faithfulness (אמוּנה); in Him is no iniquity (אין עול), Deuteronomy 32:4. The question, what have they found...? is answered in the negative by Jeremiah 2:6. To remove far from me and follow after vanity, is tantamount to forsaking Jahveh and serving the false gods (Baals), Judges 2:11. הבל, lit., breath, thence emptiness, vanity, is applied so early as the song of Moses, Deuteronomy 32:21, to the false gods, as being nonentities. Here, however, the word means not the gods, but the worship of them, as being groundless and vain; bringing no return to him who devotes himself to it, but making him foolish and useless in thought and deed. By the apostle in Romans 1:21 יהבּלוּ is expressed by ἐματαιώ́θησαν. Cf. 2 Kings 17:15, where the second hemistich of our verse is applied to the ten tribes.

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