The Meaning of Jeremiah 3:20 Explained

Jeremiah 3:20

KJV: Surely as a wife treacherously departeth from her husband, so have ye dealt treacherously with me, O house of Israel, saith the LORD.

YLT: But -- a woman hath deceived her friend, So ye have dealt treacherously with Me, O house of Israel, an affirmation of Jehovah.

Darby: Surely as a woman treacherously departeth from her companion, so have ye dealt treacherously with me, O house of Israel, saith Jehovah.

ASV: Surely as a wife treacherously departeth from her husband, so have ye dealt treacherously with me, O house of Israel, saith Jehovah.

What does Jeremiah 3:20 Mean?

Verse Meaning

All this blessing would come to Israel in spite of her past treacherous unfaithfulness to her spiritual lover, Yahweh. That treachery was deliberate; it was not a provoked departure.
"The mixing of metaphors (God is both father and husband) heightens the pathos of the speech and helps one empathize with God in his disappointment and emotional pain." [1]
"It is important to retain memory of this deep compassion when we read the prophet"s declarations of judgment ( Jeremiah 4:5 ff.); in judgment, the compassion is still present, hoping beyond the judgment for a restoration of the relationship of love." [2]

Context Summary

Jeremiah 3:11-25 - Pleading With Faithless Children
The people of the northern kingdom, to whom this appeal is especially addressed, were more excusable than Judah, because their privileges had been less. God judges us according to our opportunities. How precious the invitation and promise of Jeremiah 3:12! Confession is an essential condition that must be fulfilled by us. See 1 John 1:7. Zion shall yet be the center of a restored Israel, Jeremiah 3:14; Jeremiah 3:18. In Jeremiah 3:21-25 the voices of the people in confession and prayer mingle with Jehovah's encouraging their return. When we lie down in broken-hearted shame and penitence, we are very near to being lifted to the bosom of God. Compare Jeremiah 3:25 with Jeremiah 4:1. The return of the Chosen People to the God of their fathers will be the cause of revival and quickening throughout the earth. Compare Jeremiah 4:2 with Romans 11:12. [source]

Chapter Summary: Jeremiah 3

1  God's great mercy to Judah the polluted land
6  Judah is worse than Israel
12  The promises of the gospel to the penitent
20  Israel reproved, and called by God, makes a solemn confession of their sins

What do the individual words in Jeremiah 3:20 mean?

Surely treacherously departs [as] a wife from her husband so have you dealt treacherously with Me house of Israel says Yahweh
אָכֵ֛ן בָּגְדָ֥ה אִשָּׁ֖ה מֵרֵעָ֑הּ כֵּ֣ן בְּגַדְתֶּ֥ם בִּ֛י בֵּ֥ית יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל נְאֻם־ יְהוָֽה

אָכֵ֛ן  Surely 
Parse: Adverb
Root: אָכֵן 
Sense: surely, truly, indeed.
בָּגְדָ֥ה  treacherously  departs 
Parse: Verb, Qal, Perfect, third person feminine singular
Root: בָּגַד  
Sense: to act treacherously, deceitfully, deal treacherously.
אִשָּׁ֖ה  [as]  a  wife 
Parse: Noun, feminine singular
Root: אִשָּׁה  
Sense: woman, wife, female.
מֵרֵעָ֑הּ  from  her  husband 
Parse: Preposition-m, Noun, masculine singular construct, third person feminine singular
Root: רֵעַ  
Sense: friend, companion, fellow, another person.
כֵּ֣ן  so 
Parse: Adverb
Root: כֵּן 
Sense: so, therefore, thus.
בְּגַדְתֶּ֥ם  have  you  dealt  treacherously 
Parse: Verb, Qal, Perfect, second person masculine plural
Root: בָּגַד  
Sense: to act treacherously, deceitfully, deal treacherously.
בִּ֛י  with  Me 
Parse: Preposition, first person common singular
בֵּ֥ית  house 
Parse: Noun, masculine singular construct
Root: בַּיִת 
Sense: house.
יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל  of  Israel 
Parse: Proper Noun, masculine singular
Root: יִשְׂרָאֵל  
Sense: the second name for Jacob given to him by God after his wrestling with the angel at Peniel.
נְאֻם־  says 
Parse: Noun, masculine singular construct
Root: נְאֻם  
Sense: (Qal) utterance, declaration (of prophet).
יְהוָֽה  Yahweh 
Parse: Proper Noun, masculine singular
Root: יהוה 
Sense: the proper name of the one true God.