Jeremiah 2

The Word Made Fresh

1I heard the word of the LORD saying to me, 2“Go proclaim for everyone in Jerusalem to hear, this is what the LORD says:

“I remember how you were devoted to me when you were young.

You loved me as a bride and followed me through the desert, through a land not settled. You were holy to the LORD. You were the first fruits of the LORD’s harvest. All who tried to devour you were held to be guilty, and disaster overtook them,” says the LORD.

4Listen, family of Jacob and other families of Israel, pay attention, for this is what the LORD says:

5Did your ancestors find something wrong in me
to cause them to desert me and chase worthless things
until they themselves became worthless?
6They didn’t bother to ask, “Where is the LORD
who brought us out of Egypt
and led us in the desert, a dry land of sand and pits,
a land of drought and darkness,
a land no one travels through and where no one lives?”
7Instead, I brought you to a wonderful land of fruit and other good
but when you arrived you destroyed my land
and made the inheritance I gave you disgusting.
8The priests never asked, “Where is the LORD”
The lawyers didn’t know who I am.
The leaders sinned against me.
The prophets turned to Baal and followed worthless idols.
9That is why I am accusing you yet again,
Including your children and their children as well.
10Go over and take a look at the coasts of Cyprus.
Send inspectors to examine Kedar carefully
to see if such a thing was ever done before.
11Do you know of any nation that changed its gods,
even though they were really not gods?
No, but my own people have changed their God
for other gods who can do nothing for them.
12Be shocked at this, you heavens!
Be shocked and completely appalled, says the LORD,
13that my people have done two evil things:
they have turned away from me, a fountain of fresh water,
and dug wells for themselves,
wells that were cracked and couldn’t hold water.

14Is Israel a slave, like one born in the home and made to serve?
Why then has Israel become nothing more than plunder for others?
15Lions have roared loudly against him.
They have turned his land into a wasteland.
His cities are empty and in ruin.
16The people of Memphis and Tahpanhes
have broken the crown of your head.
17Didn’t you bring this on yourself by forsaking the LORD your God
who led you all the way?
18What do you think you will gain by going to Egypt –
to drink from the Nile?
What will you gain by going to Assyria –
to drink the waters of the Euphrates?
19Your own wickedness will be your punishment
and your sins will make you guilty.
Don’t you realize the evil and bitterness
of forsaking the LORD your God?
You do not respect me, says the LORD God Almighty.

20Long ago you broke your yoke and your bonds,
and said, “I will not be a servant!”
On every hill and under every green tree
you laid yourself out as if you were a prostitute.
21But I planted you, a special vine from the best stock.
How did you become degenerate and turn into a wild vine?
22You can bathe with soap and lye,
but the stain of your sin is always before me, says the LORD God.
23How can you claim to be pure? How can you say,
“I have not worshiped the Baals”?
Look at how you have lived in the valley.
Look at what you have done,
like a restless young camel running ‘round and ‘round,
24or like a wild donkey in the desert, sniffing the wind in heat!
Who can hold back her lust?
None who search for her need to wear themselves out –
they will find her in her mating time.
25Don’t wear out the shoes on your feet,
and parch your throat with thirst.                    
You insist that you are in a hopeless situation
because you have fallen in love with strange gods
and must go after them.

26Just as thieves are ashamed when they are caught,
Israel shall be ashamed – along with her kings and officials,
her priests and prophets.
27They will call a tree their father and claim that a stone gave them birth.
They have turned away from me and refuse to face me.
But when they suffer, they say, “Come save us!”
28But where are those gods you made for yourself?
If they can save you from your suffering, let them try!
You have more gods than you have towns, Judah.
29So, why do you complain about me?
Haven’t you all rebelled against me? says the LORD.
30With no success I have punished your children,
for they would not be corrected.
Your own weapons put an end to your prophets
like a raging lion.
31As for you of this generation, listen to the word of the LORD:
Have I been a desert in a land of darkness to Israel?
Why then do the people say,
“We are free now. We don’t have to come to you anymore.”
32Can a young woman forget her jewelry?
Can a bride forget her dress?
But my people have forgotten me for many years now.

33Look how expertly you chart a course to pursue lovers!
Even women who are already wicked are learning your ways.
34Your clothes are bloody from the wounds of the innocent poor,
even though you did not catch them in any misdemeanor.
35Still you think, “I am innocent. God’s anger has turned away from me.”
But now I am bringing you to judgment
because you claim to be sinless.
36You are so good at pretending to change your ways,
but Egypt will put you to shame just as Assyria has.
37You will come out of Egypt with your hands raised
because the LORD has rejected the ones you have trusted,
and you will not receive anything from them.


1-3: Jeremiah receives a word from God which he is to proclaim in public. God remembers when Israel was a faithful people, the “first fruits” of God’s harvest of people. “All who ate of it” — that is, Israel’s enemies — met with disaster.

4-8: God demands to know why the generations of Israel turned away from God and began worshiping Baal.

9-13: Such a thing has never happened, says God, that a nation changed its gods, especially to no-gods — that is, idols. The “fountain of fresh water” in verse 13 is God; the “cracked wells” are idols and false gods.       

14-19: During the period of the prophets Israel was constantly threatened by the powers of the day — Egypt and Assyria. Memphis and Tahpanhes are Egyptian centers. The kings of Israel tried to balance the threat by seeking alliances with Egypt against Assyria and vice versa.

20-25: Israel’s apostasy is likened to an animal in heat giving in to its lust.

26-28: The people worshiped idols of wood and stone, but when trouble came, they would call on the LORD. Let your idols save you, says the LORD.

29-32: The LORD’s questioning continues, demanding to know why they have forsaken their God.

33-37: Their alliance with Egypt will prove to be their downfall. God has rejected Egypt and Assyria, and Israel is making a mistake by making alliances with either of them.


Can this chapter be applied to us today, with but a few changes in place names and specific events? What are some of the “gods” we are tempted to follow in this, our own time? Today is a good day to examine ourselves and determine how faithful we have been in our relationship to God.