Thus saith the Lord ,.... Here begins a new discourse or prophecy, and therefore thus prefaced, and is continued in the following chapter:
where is the bill of your mother's divorcement, whom I have put away ? these words are directed to the Jews, who stood in the same relation to the Jewish church, or synagogue, as children to a mother; and so the Targum interprets "your mother" by "your congregation", or synagogue; who were rejected from being a church and people; had a "loammi" written upon them, which became very manifest when their city and temple were destroyed by the Romans; and this is signified by a divorce, alluding to the law of divorce among the Jews, Deuteronomy 24:1 , when a man put away his wife, he gave her a bill of divorce, assigning the causes of his putting her away. Now, the Lord, either as denying that he had put away their mother, the Jewish church, she having departed from him herself, and therefore challenges them to produce any such bill; a bill of divorce being always put into the woman's hands, and so capable of being produced by her; or if there was such an one, see Jeremiah 3:8 , he requires it might be looked into, and seen whether the fault was his, or the cause in themselves, which latter would appear:
or which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you ? referring to a practice used, that when men were in debt, and could not pay their debts, they sold their children for the payment of them; see Exodus 21:7 , but this could not be the case here; the Lord has no creditors, not any to whom he is indebted, nor could any advantage possibly accrue to him by the sale of them; it is true they were sold to the Romans, or delivered into their hands, which, though a loss to them, was no gain to him; nor was it he that sold them, but they themselves; he was not the cause of it, but their own sins, as follows:
behold, for your iniquities have ye sold yourselves ; or, "are sold"
and for your transgressions is your mother put away ; and they her children along with her, out of their own land, and from being the church and people of God.