The Lord showed me, and, behold, two baskets of figs - Besides the transposition of whole chapters in this book, there is not unfrequently a transposition of verses, and parts of verses. Of this we have an instance in the verse before us; the first clause of which should be the last. Thus: -
"After that Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon had carried away captive Jeconiah, the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah, with the carpenters and smiths from Jerusalem, and had brought them to Babylon, the Lord showed me, and, behold, two baskets of figs were set before the temple of the Lord."
Jeremiah 24:2; - "One basket had very good figs, even like the figs that are first ripe; and the other basket had very naughty figs, which could not be eaten, they were so bad."
This arrangement restores these verses to a better sense, by restoring the natural connection.
This prophecy was undoubtedly delivered in the first year of the reign of Zedekiah.
Under the type of good and bad figs, God represents the state of the persons who had already been carried captives into Babylon, with their king Jeconiah, compared with the state of those who should be carried away with Zedekiah. Those already carried away, being the choice of the people, are represented by the good figs: those now remaining, and soon to be carried into captivity, are represented by the bad figs, that were good for nothing. The state also of the former in their captivity was vastly preferable to the state of those who were now about to be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon. The latter would be treated as double rebels; the former, being the most respectable of the inhabitants, were treated well; and even in captivity, a marked distinction would be made between them, God ordering it so. But the prophet sufficiently explains his own meaning.
Set before the temple - As an offering of the first-fruits of that kind.
Very good figs - Or, figs of the early sort. The fig-trees in Palestine, says Dr. Shaw, produce fruit thrice each year. The first sort, called boccore, those here mentioned, come to perfection about the middle or end of June. The second sort, called kermez, or summer fig, is seldom ripe before August. And the third, which is called the winter fig, which is larger, and of a darker complexion than the preceding, hangs all the winter on the tree, ripening even when the leaves are shed, and is fit for gathering in the beginning of spring.
Could not be eaten - The winter fig, - then in its crude or unripe state; the spring not being yet come.