"זָכַרְתִּי לָךְ חֶסֶד נְעוּרַיִךְ"

Introduction

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Consolation Amid Rebuke?

Yirmeyahu 2:1-3 appears to stand on its own,1 a tiny island of comfort amid multiple chapters of rebuke and portents of calamity:

EN/HEע/E
(א) וַיְהִי דְבַר י"י אֵלַי לֵאמֹר. (ב) הָלֹךְ וְקָרָאתָ בְאׇזְנֵי יְרוּשָׁלַ‍ִם לֵאמֹר כֹּה אָמַר י"י זָכַרְתִּי לָךְ חֶסֶד נְעוּרַיִךְ אַהֲבַת כְּלוּלֹתָיִךְ לֶכְתֵּךְ אַחֲרַי בַּמִּדְבָּר בְּאֶרֶץ לֹא זְרוּעָה. (ג) קֹדֶשׁ יִשְׂרָאֵל לַי"י רֵאשִׁית תְּבוּאָתֹה כׇּל אֹכְלָיו יֶאְשָׁמוּ רָעָה תָּבֹא אֲלֵיהֶם נְאֻם י"י.
(1) And the word of the Lord came to me, saying: (2) Go, and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying: Thus saith the Lord: I remember for thee the affection of thy youth, The love of thine espousals; How thou wentest after Me in the wilderness, In a land that was not sown. (3) Israel is the Lord's hallowed portion, His first-fruits of the increase; All that devour him shall be held guilty, Evil shall come upon them, Saith the Lord.

The three verses are replete with positive imagery: bridal love, kindness, faithful following, and holiness.  Yirmeyahu further promises punishment on all who harm Israel, announcing "כׇּל אֹכְלָיו יֶאְשָׁמוּ רָעָה תָּבֹא אֲלֵיהֶם". How, though, does the prophecy connect to its context?  Chapter 1 ends with an invitation to all the kingdoms of the North to come and attack Jerusalem as punishment for the nation's idolatrous ways. The verses that follow our unit continue in the same vein, as the prophet chastises the people for rejecting Hashem, forgetting His kindness, and turning to other gods. Is our prophecy exceptional in its message, or does it somehow relate to the surrounding messages of rebuke?

Textual Questions

Despite the brevity of the passage, several aspects of the prophecy remain unclear:

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