In Jeremiah 2:1-3 God reminisces about better times with his people.
Notice that the Lord gives two metaphors (or picturesque comparisons) for what Israel was to him at one point in their history.
A Betrothed Wife
First, Israel was like a betrothed wife to the Lord in Jeremiah 2:2.
He recalls the kindness – the chesed or loyal covenant love – of Israel’s youth – when she was young – when he had just taken her out of her slavery in Egypt.
Israel is pictured as following after her betrothed – going wherever he wanted her to – even through a land like the desert wilderness.
Second, in Jeremiah 2:3 God pictures Israel as holy first-fruits.
First-fruits were produce that God expected Israel to give to him. They were to give this to him at the beginning of the harvest. And this would express their trust in him to provide the rest for them.
It was holy – or set apart – to the Lord. And that’s how Israel was in God’s sight. They were set apart for him alone.
Anyone else that tried to take or harm her was punished. Think of Egypt and the plagues and the Red Sea. Think of Amalek’s attack of Israel and defeat by her. Think of the fate of Sihon and Og. Think of Joshua’s conquest of the land. Anyone who – as it were – tried to devour Israel – evil came upon them.
The Meaning Behind the Metaphors
Those two metaphors express relationship, devotion, care, and protection. That’s how God viewed his dealings with Israel from the time he started working to deliver them from Egypt to the time he brought them into the Promised Land.
But, God reviews the past in order to contrast that with the way things are now.