20. To what purpose. Jeremiah here emphasizes the fact that no mere external service is acceptable to God. The observance of the entire ceremonial system was useless unless accompanied by heart religion (see 1 Sam. 15:22; Ps. 40:6; Isa. 1:11-13; Jer. 7:21-23; Eze. 20:39; Hosea 6:6; Amos 5:21-24; Micah 6:6-8).
Through the wilderness. God’s preservation of such a vast multitude from the dangers and privations of the wilderness was a marvelous instance of His almighty power, as well as of His goodness and care (see on Deut. 32:10).
Sheba. Archeological findings (about 1950) now identify Sheba with Yemen, a country in southwestern Arabia (see on 1 Kings 10:1). The Sabaeans were a Semitic merchant people who dealt particularly in such luxury goods as gold, incense, and precious stones (see Isa. 60:6; see on 1 Kings 10:1, 2). Their capital was Marib.
Shadow of death. See on Ps. 23:4.
Sweet cane. Generally identified with the sweet calamus, the choicest varieties of which were grown in India and southern Arabia (see Eze. 27:19). The roots, stems, and leaves of the plant yielded a fragrant essence when crushed.