Say ye unto your brethren, Ammi; and to your sisters, Ruhamah.
Plead with your mother, plead: for she is not my wife, neither am I her husband: let her therefore put away her whoredoms out of her sight, and her adulteries from between her breasts;
Verse 2. - Plead with your mother, plead: for she is not thy wife, neither am I her husband. In this second chapter the same cycle of events recurs as in the first, with this difference, that what is expressed by symbol in the one is simply narrated in the other. The cycle is the common one of sin: its usual consequences of suffering and sorrow; then succor and sympathy in case of repentance. The persons addressed in the verse before us are those individuals in Israel who had still retained their integrity, and who, notwithstanding surrounding defection and abounding ungodliness, had continued steadfast in their loyalty and love to the Lord. They might be few in number, widely scattered, perhaps unknown to each other, and of comparatively little note; yet they are here called on to raise their voice in solemn warning and earnest protest against the national defection and wickedness. "The congregation in its totality, or whole people taken conjointly, is compared to the mother, but individual members to the children, and the sense is that they are to plead with each other to bring them back to the way of goodness" (Kimchi). The nation as such, and in its impiety, is the mother; the pious persons still found in it are here required to testify for God both by exhortation and example. "The congregation of Israel is compared to an adulteress, and the children of the different generations to the children of whoredoms. Before them the prophet says, 'Plead with your mother'" (Kimchi). Adultery per se is a virtual dissolution of the marriage-tie; idolatry is spiritual adultery; the close and tender relationship into which God has graciously condescended to take Israel is rendered null and void, and that through Israel's own fault. God threatens the renunciation of it, unless perchance the pleading of the still faithful children might recall the erring mother to penitence and purity. A case the converse of this is that presented in Isaiah 1:1, where the mother's divorce is attributed to the unfaithfulness of the children. "Where," asks the Lord in that passage, "is the bill of your mother's divorcement, whom I have put away?... for your transgressions is your mother put away." Ki before the second clause is either recitative, introducing the words of pleading, or assigns a reason; the latter seems preferable. Let her therefore put away her whoredoms out of her sight, and her adulteries from between her breasts. The word mippaneyha is rather to be rendered "from her face" than "out of her sight." The expression is to be taken literally, as the word "breasts" in the parallel clause proves. Thus Kimchi rightly explains it, saying, "Since he compares her to harlot, he attributes to her the ways of harlots; for the harlot's way is to adorn her face with various kinds of colors, that she may appear fair in the eyes of her paramours." But in addition to ornamenteth as earrings or nose-rings, and other ways of decking herself, as by painting, the expression may imply lascivious looks and wanton expressions of countenance; while the mention of breasts may indicate the making of them bare for the purpose of meretricious blandishments, or as indicating the place of the adulterer (comp. Ezekiel 23:3 and Song of Solomon 1:13). The Jewish commentators adopt the latter sense. Aben Ezra comments on the grammatical form of the words teuncha and naaphupheha (the former by duplication of the second radical, and the latter by that of the third) as intensive; while Rashi and Kimchi refer to the pressure of the breasts. But others understand them figuratively, the countenance indicating boldness, and the breasts shamelessness. Thus Horace speaks of the brilliant beauty (nixor) and coquettishness (protervitas) of Glyeera.
Lest I strip her naked, and set her as in the day that she was born, and make her as a wilderness, and set her like a dry land, and slay her with thirst.
Verse 3. - Lest I strip her naked, and set her as in the day that she was born. The Lord, by his servant the prophet, enforces the preceding exhortation by a stern denunciation, and the threat of further severities unless averted by repentance; as an injured husband withdraws from a faithless wife all the gifts and presents he had made for her adornment, leaving her poor and bare. Not only the removal of her garments by way of degradation and disgrace, but exposure in that position to insult and ignominy would ensue. In other words, the nation is threatened with deprivation of all the blessings previously lavished upon them - property, prosperity, population, and privileges; while dishonor of the deepest dye would aggravate the misery. The day of the nation's birth denotes the weakness and wretchedness of their infant state. To this corresponded their servile, suffering condition during their bondage and oppression in Egypt. Rashi thus explains it; Kimchi says, "The figure of birth is the time they are slaves in Egypt;" so also Theodoret, - the latter calls the day of her birth the sojourn in Egypt. The Prophet Ezekiel (Ezekiel 16:4) expands the idea, occasionally employing, as Rosenmüller remarks, the very words of Hosea. And make her as a wilderness, and set her like a dry land, and clay her with thirst. This part of the verse is susceptible of two explanations. The faithless female, under which character the northern kingdom is personified, may be compared to a wilderness, that is, according to Cyril, fruitless, parched, and productive only of thorns, thirsty and waterless. This comparison of a woman to a desert is wanting in suitability, and seems in some degree awkward in itself, beside being out of harmony with the closing clause; for to "slay with thirst," however applicable to a person, cannot with any propriety be said of a place, whether desert or otherwise. No doubt the wilderness may stand for those dwelling in it. We prefer, therefore, the alternative rendering, "make her as in a wilderness, and set her as in a dry land." Rashi aptly explains the threat to mean, "Lest I pronounce against them such a sentence as of old in this desert (Numbers 14:35), 'In this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die.'" There is, moreover, a natural connection of ideas between a wilderness, a dry land, and thirst. The nation's birth, represented by or compared to their sojourn in Egypt, naturally suggests the idea of their wandering in the wilderness after their exodus from that country; a wilderness, again, suggests what is an ordinary feature of such a district, namely, a dry land; while a region thus without water is suggestive as well as provocative of thirst. The former explanation, however, is given by Kimehi: "I will make thee like the wilderness which is open to every one, and in which, moreover, one finds no means of subsistence, nor anything that man needs; so I'll withdraw my goodness from them, and they shall be surrendered as a prey to every one."
And I will not have mercy upon her children; for they be the children of whoredoms.
Verse 4. - And I will not have mercy upon her children; for they be the children of whoredoms. The connection of this verse is carried on from the preceding, viz. and lest I will not have mercy upon her children. An exceedingly apt illustration of this verse is given by Jerome. It is to this effect: When the children of Israel were brought out of Egypt, the parents perished in the wilderness; but the children of those who had thus perished, and whose caresses had thus fallen in the wilderness, were spared and permitted to enter the land of promise. Now, however, the case is different, and the punishment aggravated. The adulterous parent perishes, and the children of that parent perish also. Further, the reason is assigned in the concluding clause. The children proved themselves no better than the mother that bore them; they were the worthless progeny of a worthless parent.
For their mother hath played the harlot: she that conceived them hath done shamefully: for she said, I will go after my lovers, that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink.
Verse 5. - Nor their mother hath played the harlot: she that conceived them hath dons shamefully: for she said, I will go after my lovers. The charge of idolatry under the figure of harlotry, spiritual harlotry, is reiterated. "Mother" is repeated in and emphasized by the parallel words, "she that conceived them." A somewhat similar form of expression is that in Psalm 58:3, "The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies." To bosh, to be ashamed, belong the Hiphil forms, hebhish and hobhish (the latter formed from zabhish), properly "to put to shame," but also "to practice shame or do shameful things." The nature of her shameful conduct is more definitely and distinctly expressed in the clauses which follow; and consisted of several particulars. There is the persistent pursuit of her lovers; then the unblushing boldness with which she avows her determination to continue that course; and next come her expectations from them. That give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink (margin, drinks). The original word here rendered "lovers" is the Piel participle, which may have either its usual intensive sense or its occasional causative sense in which it is taken by Rosenmüller, who has "a-mare me facientes," equivalent to "wooers." It matters little which way we understand it. The more important point is to determine who or what are here meant by lovers. Most commentators understand them to be those nations whose friendship Israel set such store by - the Assyrians and the Egyptians. Thus Grotius and Jerome, - the latter explains them of the Assyrians and Egyptians and other nations, with whose idols Israel committed fornication, and from which in distress they vainly hoped for help; so also Kimchi, in the following comment: "By 'friends ' he implies the Assyrians and Egyptians joined in alliance to the Israelites, who delivered them from their enemies, so that they lived safely, in return for the gifts (tribute) which they (the Israelites) were in the habit of giving them. And as they lived in tranquility in virtue of the compact entered into with them, the prophet represents it as if they supplied them with all the necessaries of life. For with their help they tilled their land without fear and in safety traded from country to country." Kimchi quotes at the same time his father's (Joseph Kimchi) interpretation: "But my lord my father of blessed memory explained 'after her lovers' of the sun and moon and stars, which they worshipped; while their intention was that they gave them their food and their sufficiency, as they said, 'But since we left off to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, we have wanted all things, and have been consumed by the sword and by the famine.'" This exposition of Joseph Kimchi is much nearer the truth than that of his son David; it is, however, too restricted. The "lovers" were the idols on which the people of the northern kingdom so dented, and on which they placed so much dependence. The blessings which they vainly expected from these idols are enumerated: they were - food and raiment and luxuries; the bread and water were the articles of food as it is written elsewhere. "Bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure;" the wool and flax were the materials for clothing; while the oil and drinks were, the former for ornament, the latter for refresh-merit, and so included all luxuries; thus in Psalm 23:5, "Thou anointest my head with oil;" and in Psalm 102:9, "And mingled my drink [literally, 'drinks,' the same word, shigguyar] with weeping;" also in Psalm 104:15 we read of "wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengthened man's heart."
Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths.
Verse 6. - Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths. The sudden change of person from the third to the second is very observable. This directness of address is, in this instance, expressive of deep indignation. She had avowed her determination to pursue her evil courses shamefully and sinfully, as if in despite and defiance of the Almighty. In deep and undisguised displeasure, and with a suddenness springing from indignation, he affirms his determination to thwart her course of sin and shame; as though addressing her personally and promptly, he said, "Then thou shalt not be able to carry out thy plan or accomplish thy purpose; I will see to that." The hedge and wall are elsewhere, as in Job 1:10 and Isaiah 5:5, used for protection and defense, here for prevention and obstruction, and similarly in Job 19:8, "He hath fenced up my way that I cannot pass, and he hath set darkness in my paths;" and in Lamentations 3:7, "He hath hedged me about, that I cannot get out," and ver. 9, "He hath enclosed my ways with hewn stone, he hath made my paths crooked." Thus Kimchi: "I will hedge thy way with thorns, so that they cannot go out of the city because of the devastation; and her lovers shall not be able to help her, and they are Assyria and Egypt." After quoting his father's explanation of lovers, he pro-coeds: "So their way is as if there were in it a thorn hedge, and thorns that she could not pass through it, and could not find her paths in which she walked." The fence here is double one a hedge of thorns, sharp, prickly, and piercing, such as forbid her forcing a way through: the other a wall of stone that cannot be climbed, or leaped, or otherwise got over. We need not try to specify the particular circumstances that thus hedged in and walled about the adulteress - whether fightings within or foes beleaguering without, whether straitened means or stress of circumstances raising an impassable barrier against the practice of idolatry, or an enforced conviction of its futility. "If," says Kimchi, "she seek to Assyria and Egypt, they will not give her their friendship and their help."
And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find them: then shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better with me than now.
Verse 7. - And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find them. This portion of the verse expresses the consequence of the preceding. However eagerly she follows after them - and the form of the verb (Pie! conjugation) expresses that eagerness - she shall only experience the ineffectual nature of her efforts, and feel the impossibility of overtaking the darling objects of her pursuit. However earnestly she seeks them (here the Piel is used again), she shall find every passage barred and every outlet obstructed, so that, unable to find them, she shall be forced to abandon her search as utterly vain and impossible. Then shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better with me than now. The difficulties of her position, the distress in which she found herself, stimulated her to increased eagerness in pursuit of her lovers; but it was only for a brief space, and the efforts were unsuccessful; the means as well as opportunity for the sacrifices and services of idol-worship failed, the obstacles placed in her way were insurmountable. Or, rather, the disappointment was so great and grievous, when all the fondly cherished hopes of help, or succor, or support from those idols were frustrated and found entirely vain, that heartsick and chagrined by unsuccess, she resolves on a change of course. With mingled feelings of remorse and penitence she makes up her mind to retrace her steps. She recalls the better days, the happier time, the more prosperous circumstances, of fidelity to her first and rightful husband and head; and now she is just ready to return to him. She is just now at that stage at which the prodigal in the parable had arrived "when He came to himself," and when he said, "How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father." Kimchi remarks," She will not say this until she has borne the captivity a considerable time."
For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal.
Verse 8. - For she din not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal. From vers. 6 to 13 inclusive, the suffering and sorrow consequent on, and occasioned by, her sins are enumerated; yet now and again certain aggravations of her guilt crop up. Here we have an account of her ignorance of, and ingratitude to, the true and or of her mercies, together with her sinful misuse and sad abuse of those mercies. The products of the earth which God bestowed on her were corn and wine and oil - all that was needed for food, refreshment, and even luxury; the prosperity in trade or commerce with which he favored her resulted in the multiplied increase of silver and gold. The perversion of these blessings consisted in her employment of them in the service of Baal or of idolatry in general. The sin of refusing to acknowledge the Author of such manifold mercies was grievously augmented by this gross abuse of them. The last clause is a relative one, asher, as frequently being understood; while the words asu labbaal do not signify that they made those metals into images of Baal, as implied in the Authorized Version; nor vet that they offered them to Baal according to Gesenius; but that they prepared or employed them in the worship of that idol and the service of idolatry in general. דֶגן rad. דגה, to cover, multiply, i.e. multitude and plenty covering ever everything; comp. tego, תֶירושׁ rad. ירשׁ, take possession of the brain in intoxicating: יצהר, rad. צהר, to shine. Kimchi remarks as follows: "All the goodness in the possession of which she was, she had not except from me; because I sent my blessing on the corn and wine and oil, and sent my blessing upon the work of their hands, so that they had abundance of silver and gold; but Jeshurun waxed fat and kicked."
Therefore will I return, and take away my corn in the time thereof, and my wine in the season thereof, and will recover my wool and my flax given to cover her nakedness.
Verse 9. - Therefore will I return, and take away my corn in the time thereof, and my wine in the season thereof, and will recover my wool and my flax given to cover her nakedness. The abuse of the Divine bounties mentioned in the preceding verse fully justifies the series of punishments that follow. God thus vindicates those penal inflictions. Accordingly he threatens them in this ninth verse with the deprivation of the bounties which they had misused as the means of idolatry and sin; in ver. 10 with disgrace; in ver. 11 with the departure of all her merry-makings; in ver. 12 with the destruction of the sources whence the means of idolatrous worship were supplied; and in ver. 13 with days of visitation proportionate to the time of declension and apostasy. The first clause of the verse under consideration is better rendered
(1) according to the common Hebrew idiom, which employs two verbs to express one idea in a modified sense, the first denoting the manner, and so equivalent to an adverb with us, and the second signifying the matter; and it is thus translated by Keil: "Therefore will I take back my corn."
(2) We admit the ray consecutive is opposed to this; and the LXX. has ἐπιστρέψω καὶ κομιοῦναι: and Jerome, "reverter et sumam." The manner of the dispossession intensifies the punishment, just as their abuse of those possessions had augmented their guilt. The food, refreshment, and raiment are to be taken away this certainly would be bad enough by itself, but the suddenness of the stroke adds poignancy to the infliction. The prospect of an indifferent harvest and of a bad vintage for weeks previously might have prepared them in some sort for the disaster. But when the time of harvest has already come and the season of vintage just arrived, by some sudden, unexpected calamity, whether tempest or hostile invasion, the bread-corn perishes and the wine-grapes are destroyed. The food is thus snatched, as it were, from their month, and the cup dashed from their lips; the sadness of the catastrophe is immensely increased by the sudden rudeness of the stroke by which it comes. Nor is this all. In the case of the raiment, or rather the material, the wool and the flax out of which it is formed, its removal reduces the intended wearer to perfect nudity, or, if we understand it as figure, to abject poverty and absolute penury. Aben Ezra attributes this disaster (ver. 9) to hostile invasion: "At its season when I shall bring the enemies, to take away the corn and the wine;" Kimchi, on the other hand, sees in it a misgrowth: "I will return and take away my corn in its season, and my wine in its appointed time, because I will send a curse upon them in the time of harvest and at the season of vintage, instead of the blessing I used to send upon them. And so on all the work of their hands I shall send a curse, and all their gain shall be put into a bag with holes; and they shall not have bread to eat nor raiment to wear."
And now will I discover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and none shall deliver her out of mine hand.
Verse 10. - And now will I discover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and none shall deliver her out of mine hand. Deprivation is followed by disgrace, dispossession by dishonor. The figure of a faithless female being continued, the calamities of Israel are pictured in the extreme deplorableness of her condition. The word navluth does not elsewhere occur, but its meaning is not difficult to ascertain. It denotes literally, "slackness," "laxness," or a withered state, from navel, to be withered, and may be translated either "her shame" or "her turpitude." The LXX. has ἀκαθαρσίαν, while Jerome renders it stultitiam. Thus she is exposed to the derision and disgust of her former admirers and paramours; while deliverance is out of the question. Her lovers are the idols, or, according to Kimchi," Egypt and Assyria, which cannot deliver her." She who once was the object of delight is become the object of disdain and contempt; nor is there any of her quondam lovers desirous of or able to deliver her out of the hand of him who administers the justly deserved punishment.
I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts.
Verse 11. - I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts. The enumeration is complete, "Her feast days" were the three annual festivals of Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. "Her new moons" were the monthly celebrations at the commencement of each month. "Her sabbaths" were the weekly solemnities of one day in seven, dedicated to the Lord. Then there is a general summing up of the whole by the addition of "all her solemn feasts," - all her festal days and seasons, including, besides those named, the beginning of the years, the solemn assembly or holy convocation on the seventh day of the Passover and on the eighth day of Tabernacles. Preceding the enumeration is the general characteristic of all Israel's festivities. They were times of joy, as we read in Numbers 10:10, "In the day of your gladness, and in your solemn days, and in the beginnings of your months, ye shall blow with the trumpets;" and in Dent. 12:12 it is expressly declared, "Ye shall rejoice before the Lord... ye, and your sons, and your daughters, and your menservants, and your maidservants, and the Levite that is within your gates." All this was to cease; the coming captivity would render all such celebrations impossible. Kimchi remarks on this (ver. 11): "For in the distress there is no new moon and no sabbath; and the beginnings of months and sabbaths on which offerings were presented were days of joy. And so with respect to the feast days and solemn assemblies, which were days of rest and quiet joy, they shall not have in them any joy in consequence of the greatness of their distresses." He subsequently adds, "There is a chag which is not a raced, but joy wherewith men rejoice and eat and drink; and it is called chag," referring to Solomon's feast of dedication; "and there is also a moed which is not a chag, as for signs and for seasons (moedim), and at the appointed time I will return unto thee" (raced, from יער, to appoint as time and place).
And I will destroy her vines and her fig trees, whereof she hath said, These are my rewards that my lovers have given me: and I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field shall eat them.
Verse 12. - And I will destroy (make desolate) her vines and her fig trees, whereof she said, These are my rewards that my lovers have given me. God had already threatened to deprive Israel of the means of support - the corn, wine, wool, and flax; he now threatens the removal of the very sources whence that support was derived. The vine and fig tree are usually conjoined, and by a common synecdoche convey the idea of all those sources that combine to support life and supply its luxuries. When the united kingdom of Judah and Israel, before the disruption, had obtained the zenith of prosperity in the reign of Solomon, it is thus expressed: Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man under his vine and under his fig tree, from Dan even to Beersheba, all the days of Solomon." Yet Israel knew not the time of her merciful visitation, and not only turned aside to idols, but most stupidly and most inexcusably attributed the many mercies she enjoyed to the idols which she worshipped. Like a foul adulteress despising the tokens of her husband's affection and delighting in the rewards of lewdness received from licentious paramours, Israel forfeited all her privileges, and forced the Lord to withdraw his bounties and destroy their very source. גֶפֶן rad. גפן, equivalent to תאן, to be bent, from the arch made by its drooping boughs, תְאֵנָה, rad. תאן, equivalent to תנן, to extend from its length. And I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field shall eat them. The places where fig trees flourished and vines abounded shall be stripped of those trees, with their pleasant fruits - shall become a forest. The vineyards being no longer hedged or fenced, no longer cultivated or cared for, the beasts of the field shall, in consequence, find free ingress and roam there at large, devouring and devastating at pleasure. The Septuagint translates the first part of the above sentence by καὶ θήσομαι αὐτὰ εἰς μαρτύριον, "and I will make them a testimony," thus reading, according to Jerome, עֵד, instead of יעַרַ; while Cyril comments on the words so read as follows: "For these things being taken away shall testify as it were against Israel's depravity, and render their punishment more signal, and make the wrath conspicuous." The context, however, militates against the reading in question, for in time of war or general devastation places, through neglect, grow trees and brushwood, where wild beasts lair and lay waste. The explanation of the verse is well given by Kimchi in his commentary: "Because she said, 'These are the hire of my harlotry;' because she said that from the hand of her lovers came the corn and must and oil and all good things; - I will make them a desolation, that she may know whether she had those good things from me or from them. אתנה, because he has compared her to a harlot, he calls those good things אתנה, equivalent to אחנן וינה; while their signification is identical with חנאי, and their root, תנה [extend, reach, give], the aleph being prosthetic. But Jonathan renders אתנה by יְקַר, precious things. And he mentions the vine and the fig tree because grapes and figs are the best part of the food of man after the produce of the earth (i.e. corn); and already he had said, 'I will also take away my corn in its season.'"
And I will visit upon her the days of Baalim, wherein she burned incense to them, and she decked herself with her earrings and her jewels, and she went after her lovers, and forgat me, saith the LORD.
Verse 13. - And I will visit upon her the days of Baalim, wherein she burned incense to them, and she decked herself with her ear-rings and her jewels, and she went after her lovers, and forget me, saith the Lord. The name of Baalim, that is, Baals in the plural, has respect to the various forms of the Baal-idolatry,or modification of the Baal-worship; for example, Baal-peor, Baal-be-rith, Baal-zebub, Baal-perazim, Baal-zephon, Baal-zamar, Baal-shalishu. The name of Baal came to be used generally as the designation of any idol or false god. The days of the Baals were the days consecrated to Baal, and on which the worship of the true God was transferred to that idol. It matters little whether we render "wherein" or "to whom," referring to ימי, in which case, however, we should expect בם, though the latter answers better to the meaning of the preposition le in להם. After mentioning the object of their idolatrous worship, he specifies the manner of it, which was the burning of incense, the part of the process being employed by synecdoche for the whole. Every mincha, or meat offering, which was presented by itself as a free-will offering was accompanied with frankincense; every day, morning and evening, incense was burnt in the holy place; while on the great Day of Atone-meat the high priest carried a censer of coals from the golden altar into the holiest of all and there burnt incense before the mercy-seat. But the word has often a wider sense than that of burning incense, and is applied to the offering of any sacrifice whatever. Just as the festivals of Jehovah were transferred to Baal, so his service was turned into that of Baal. Titus Israel prostituted herself and acted the part of a spiritual adulteress by her worship of idols. The same unsavory figure is resumed; and her assiduous efforts to worship the idol acceptably and propitiate his favor is presented under the figure of a whorish woman decking herself with meretricious ornaments - nose-rings and jewels, thus making up by artificial means for the lack of natural beauty - to attract the attention and gain the admiration of her lovers. Thus Aben Ezra: "The meaning of ותעד is metaphorical in allusion to a whorish woman who puts a nose-ring in her nose and a necklace on her neck to make herself beautiful, in order to find favor in the eves of the adulterer." The word עַד has for its verbal root עדה, to overstep the boundary, transgress, plunder, draw to one's self, put on; while חֶלְיָה, (masculine חְלַיִ) is from חלה, to rub, polish, be smooth. But when all fails to draw lovers unto her, she casts aside the last remaining fragment of female delicacy, and goes in pursuit of lovers. Thus did Israel. She put Baal or other idols in place of Jehovah; she made a transfer of Jehovah's festivals to Baal; she burnt incense or offered sacrifice to her idol instead of the true God; she went to great pains to secure the acceptance of her false deities; "and me," says Jehovah very emphatically," she forgat;" that is, me the true God, her bountiful Benefactor, her gracious Lord. and loving Husband, she forgot. The visitation expressed by פקד with accusative of the thing, and על before the person, is commented by Kimchi as follows: "For the transgressions of her (Israel's) iniquity in the exile I will visit upon her the time that she served Baalim; and I will let them remain long in exile for punishment, because they have left my service and served other gods. And even upon children's children shall come this punishment, although they do not serve strange gods in exile; thus is the sentence [literally, 'judgment'] of their punishment, because their children's children shall not be perfect in the service of God and in his commandments in exile, therefore thus shall the iniquity of their fathers who served strange gods unite with their own punishment."
Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her.
Verse 14. - Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her. As in vers. 2-5 we have an exposure of Israel's sin, and in vers. 6-13 an enumeration of her sufferings by penal inflictions; so vers. 14-23 contain a touching exhibition of Divine succor and support. The transition is abrupt. Vers. 14-17 exhibit the gradual change wrought in Israel through the progressive means of improvement employed by Jehovah. Israel's future is here reflected in the mirror of her past history. The events of that history are elegantly employed to represent as by type or symbol the mercies in store for Israel, wayward and rebellious though she had proved herself to be. Laken (from le causal, and ken, so, equivalent to "because it is so") at the beginning of this verse (14) is rendered by some,
(1) "but" or "yet;" but its natural signification is
It is like the Greek οϋν (from ω΅ν, Ionic ἔων, neuter ἐόν, contracted οϋν); it being so, therefore, and similar to the Latin phrase, quae cum ita slut, "therefore" implies because Israel can only be turned from her foolish idolatry by the penal measures named. Aben Ezra also understands it here, as elsewhere, in its literal sense; thus: "After she [the unchaste wife representative of Israel] shall know that all this evil has come upon her because that she had forgotten me, and had not known at the beginning that I dealt kindly with her; and when she will say, 'Yet will I go and return to my former husband;' then will I allure her with words." פתה is from the root פת cognate with the Arabic in the sense of "dividing," "being open," "standing open;" thence it signifies "to be susceptible of outward impressions," "allow access and entrance;" in Piel, "to make one open.... be susceptible or inclined," "induce by words." The word laken, "therefore," has somewhat puzzled commentators, because the connection between the judgments threatened in the preceding verses and the mercies proffered in what follows is not to a superficial view at once apparent. Yet it is mercy and truth meeting together, righteousness and peace kissing each other. It is
(3) the connecting link between the enormity of our sins and the greatness of the Divine mercy; between the vileness of our iniquities and the riches of Divine grace. In like manner the psalmist prays, "Pardon mine iniquity, for it is great;" and God promises by the prophet, "For the iniquity of his covetousness was I wroth, and smote him: I hid me, and was wroth, and he went on frowardly in the way of his heart. I have seen his ways, and will heal him; I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners." Long previously God had said, "I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth." The secret of such striking contrasts is that where sin abounded grace did much more abound. Egypt having been to Israel the house of bondage, the exodus from that land represents deliverance out of a servile, suffering condition.
(1) The wilderness or Arabian desert into which they were brought on leaving that country was a place of freedom. They were emancipated, and breathed the free air of the wilderness; they were exercised with salutary discipline after their emancipation; as they traversed the wilderness they were trained and tried. The allurement which prefaces their deliverance refers to the persuasion of Moses and Aaron, who found it necessary to persuade and even coax their countrymen to turn their back on their bondage and follow the leaders whom God had sent them. The "comfortable words" mentioned in the clone of the verse were addressed to them at a subsequent period, when, allured out of the strange land where they had sojourned so long, they were led forth into the wilderness. The "comfortable words" comprehended both temporal and spiritual mercies - relief in every time of emergency, deliverance in danger and distress, a plentiful supply of their necessities, with pardon of their sins, assurances of grace, and renewed tokens of God's favor on repentance. A difficulty has been found in the words, "and bring her into the wilderness," being interposed between the alluring and the speaking comfortably. The difficulty is removed
(2) by translating vav, not by "and," but by "after," as if equivalent to acher; thus: "After I shall have brought her into the wilderness I wilt allure and comfort her." Then the meaning would be, "After I have humbled them thoroughly as I did their forefathers in the wilderness, then will I speak comfortably unto them." God humbled their forefathers in Egypt, yet that did not suffice; he humbled them afterwards in the wilderness, and then brought them into Canaan. Many times God sends successive afflictions upon his own people, to break their hearts, to humble them thoroughly, and at last "he speaks comfortably unto them." But
(3) the wilderness may be viewed in another light. Besides the distresses experienced in the wilderness, there were deliverances enjoyed. The reference here may be to the latter, and all the more as this part of the chapter deals with merciful providences. The particle vav and other words of the verse then retain their natural sense; and, instead of a denunciation of further afflictions, God declares to Israel that he will perform on their behalf such works of power, wisdom, and goodness, at once great and glorious, merciful and wonderful, as he had wrought for their forefathers in the wilderness after their deliverance from Egypt. Thus the Chaldee: "I will work miracles and great works of wonder for them, such as I wrought in the desert;" as though he said, "Whatever the condition may be into which you shall be brought, vet you shall have me working in as glorious a way for your good and comfort as ever I did for your forefathers when they were in the wilderness." The explanation of "wilderness" under number
(1) above, combining, as it does, deliverance yet discipline, care yet chastisement, deserves the preference; it is neither to be explained with Keil exclusively in the sense of promise, nor, on the other hand, exclusively in the sense of punishment with Rashi, who comments as follows: "I will lead her into the wilderness, which for her is like a wilderness and a dry parched land; and there she shall lay it to heart that it was better with her when she did my will than when she rebelled against me."
And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.
Verse 15. - And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt. The consolations of God are not confined to words; they comprise works as well as words. Friendly doings as well as sayings are embraced in the Divine goodness, and manifest the Divine mercy. On emerging from the wilderness, fruitful vineyards, such as Sibmah, Heshbon, and Elea-leh, east of Jordan. and fertile valleys, like that of Aehor near Jericho, to the west of Jordan, as coon as they have crossed the river, shall be given them. These vineyards and valleys would thus be the first installments of God's promise, and a prelude to the possession of the whole, so that the door of hopeful expectation and of joyful anticipation would be thrown wide open to them. The verb עוה has three meanings - "humble one's self.... answer," "sing." Hence the LXX. and older interpreters adopt ταπεινωθήσεται: Calvin, "respondent;" and Aben Ezra and Kimchi, "she shall sing and play." The last deserves the preference. No wonder if', under such circumstances, Israel responded with songs of praise and thanksgiving, as in that early day of the nation's youth, when, coming up out of Egypt, they sang the song of Moses by the Red Sea's margin, while Miriam and the maidens of Israel in full chorus completed the harmony. Now, all these experiences of the past were to repeat themselves in the future history of Israel. Their past captivity or dispersion was obviously implied in this promised deliverance and God's gracious dealings with them in the future. There is a different explanation of one expression in this verse, which deserves careful consideration - an explanation which turns on what once transpired in that valley, and the meaning of the name of it, troubling, derived flora that transaction; we refer, of course, to the affair of Achan. The punishment of the transgressor in that case, and the putting away of sin in connection with penitence and prayer, reopened, after defeat, the door of hope, and restored the enjoyment of Divine help. The discomfiture that so troubled the host of Israel was immediately followed by the victory at At, which inspired them with the hope of soon possessing the whole land. So with Israel after the captivity - a dreary night of weeping was followed by a bright and blessed morning. So, too, in time to come, when, after a long and sorrowful expectation, Israel shall return from the lands of their exile to their fatherland, or by faith and repentance to the paternal God, the light of better and more hopeful days shall (lawn upon them. To the idea of troubling Kimchi attaches the notion of purification, quoting with approval Rashi and Aben Ezra to the same purpose. His comment is: "Because at the beginning, when they went into the land in the days of Joshua, this misadventure befell them, namely, the matter of Achan, he gave them confidence that they should not fear when they assembled in the land, and that no misadventure would occur to them, as they would all be refined and purified because, in the wilderness of the peoples, they would be purified. And that valley of Achor shall no more be called so, for its name is for depreciation; but a name of honor shall be given to it, and it is a door of hope. And inasmuch as he says 'door,' and not 'valley,' as it should be, it is because it shall be to them as a door, since from there they shall enter into the land as they did at the first, and it shall be to them hope and the aim of what is good; consequently they call it the door of hope. And the sage Rabbi Abraham explains the valley of Achor to be the valley of Jezreel, viz.' because I [Jehovah] troubled her there, it will turn to a door of hope.' And R.S.I. (Rashi) of blessed memory explains it as the depth of the exile, where they were troubled; so 'I will give her a door of hope, the beginning of hope, that out of the midst of those troubles I will give her a heart to return to me.'" To the same purpose he quotes a brief comment of Saadia Gaon. כֶרֶם, cognate with Arabic karma, to be noble, equivalent to "the more fruitful and productive." The word mishsham is, according to some,
(1) an expression of time, equivalent to "from the time of their departure from the desert," - so Keil; others explain it as
(2) "thereout," i.e. "I will make their vineyards out of it," - so Simson; and ethers, again, explain it "from there or thence." It is taken in the last-mentioned sense by Kimchi, as follows: "From the wilderness I will give the whole land, which she formerly possessed, as if he said, 'I will constitute her there in the wilderness to do good to her in her land,' because that in the wilderness of the peoples he will purify them and consume the rebellious and the transgressors, so that the remainder shall fear (or flock reverently to him). Consequently they shall need consolations, and be shall speak to their heart. Because God - blessed be he! - shall give them their land as at the first; therefore he says, 'And I will speak to their heart.' And although we have explained that the consolations shall spring out of the distress which they endured in exile, yet will the whole be as well for the one (viz. the consolation) as for the other (the trouble)." It is aptly remarked by Aben Ezra, in relation to the vineyards, that "the words form a contrast to the other words of the prophet, 'And I will destroy their vine;'" likewise Kimchi asking, "And why has the prophet only mentioned their vineyards (i.e. when purposing to give them the whole land)? Because he had mentioned in their punishment, 'I will destroy her vines,' he mentions in the promised consolation her vineyards."
And it shall be at that day, saith the LORD, that thou shalt call me Ishi; and shalt call me no more Baali.
Verses 16, 17. - In these verses a renewal of God's covenant with Israel, under the figure of a marriage contract, is predicted. The name by which Israel shall address her beloved shall be henceforth Ishi, not Baali; that is, a term of tender affection, not of stern authority.
(1) The title of "My Husband" will take the place of "My Lord." Some suppose that the latter title was the idol's name, which, in the lips of Israel, had superseded that of the true God, the meaning being
(2) "Thou wilt no more call to me, My Baal." Nay, the names of Baals shall become so abhorrent to their better feelings, as well as hateful to Jehovah, that they shall pass away at once from their mouth and from their memory, never more to be mentioned and never more to be remembered. Rashi's comment favors
(1); thus: "Ye shall serve me out of love, and not out of fear; ishi denoting marriage and youthful love; baali, lordship and fear."
For I will take away the names of Baalim out of her mouth, and they shall no more be remembered by their name.
And in that day will I make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven, and with the creeping things of the ground: and I will break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the earth, and will make them to lie down safely.
Verse 18. - A state of tranquility was to follow, a sort of golden age was to ensue. With both the rational and irrational creation they would be at peace, enjoying security from the one and safety from the other. Peace would be established with the hostile forces of the outer world, and peace at the same time national and political. With the beasts of the field - viz, the wild beasts, as contrasted with behemah, tame animals - and with the fowls of heaven - i.e. birds of prey, destructive of the fruits of the field - and with the creeping things of the ground, detrimental to the products of the earth, they would be in league; while weapons of war would be devoted to destruction, the bow and the sword and the battle being broken, and not only so, but banished out of the earth, so that Israel, free from the alarm of a night attack, and protected by night as well as by day, would be made to lie down safely. Milchamah is constructed with by zeugma; or it includes, as Kimchi explains it, "all the implements of war except the bow and sword, which he has already mentioned."
And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies.
Verses 19, 20. - Much as was included in these promises, more and better was to follow. The divorced wife was to be taken back; the marriage contract, which her shameful adultery had vitiated, was to be renewed, and past offences condoned. This certainly evidenced extraordinary forbearance and affection. But it was not all. A new and higher relationship was to be entered on; so entirely had God forgiven and forgotten, if we may so say, all the multiplied and aggravated transgressions of Israel against him, that that people is not to be received back as a repudiated wife, but to be henceforth regarded and treated as a chaste virgin, and in that capacity betrothed unto the Lord. And I will betroth thee unto me is the gracious promise thrice repeated, and each time with an additional element of mercy; nor is this betrothal of a temporary character and of short continuance, like the previous marriage compact which the wife's guilt a short time had rendered null and void. It is a durable betrothal, lasting forever. Next to the time during which this betrothal shall continue is the manner in which it is effected, or rather, the basis on which it is established. Justice and judgment present righteousness under two aspects - subjective and objective. Tsedeq, equivalent to tseda-qah, being right, is subjective righteousness and an attribute of God. Mishpat, equivalent to objective right, either as executing judgment or as existing in fact Some attribute these characteristics to God and some to Israel, while others to both. Rashi and Kimchi understand both words tsedeq and mishpat, subjectively and in relation to the Israelites. The former: "In righteousness and judgment wherein ye shall walk;" the latter: "In righteousness which the Israelites shall practice." Wunsche and Hengstenberg understand the righteousness and judgment of God's doing justice and faithfully fulfilling his covenant obligations to Israel. The latter has well remarked in relation to mishpat when distinguishing it from tsedeq, that a man may render what is right to persons and yet not be righteous; that is, there may be objective apart from subjective righteousness. Keil attributes the attributes in question, not only to God fulfilling his covenant engagements to his people, but purifying them through just judgment, and thus providing for their righteousness. That God possesses these is undeniable, but it is equally obvious that he bestows righteousness on his people both by imputation and impartation; he also executes righteousness in their case, purifying them by salutary chastisement, his object being, not only to cleanse, but to keep clean. And yet such is the frailty of man's fallen nature, and so many are the faults and the failings to which he is liable, that loving-kindness (God's condescending love, chesed, equivalent to ἀγάπη) and mercies (inmost compassion on man's weakness, rachamim, σπάχγνα) on God's part must be added to righteousness and judgment in order to secure the stability of those whom he takes into covenant, and the continuance of the contract. Nay; for the attainment of the desired end still more is requisite, for, after all his bestowments and all his discipline, and in addition to all his favor and forbearance, his faithfulness (unwavering steadfastness, emunah, corresponding as the reverse side to and securing the leolam) is indispensable to Israel's perseverance; and thus, notwithstanding Israel's failures, Jehovah's faithfulness guarantees ultimate and lasting success. The special quality on Israel's side is true knowledge of God.
I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the LORD.
And it shall come to pass in that day, I will hear, saith the LORD, I will hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth;
Verses 21-23. - The eighteenth verse pictures a scene of peace for Israel's future; the verses following warrant the expectation of its perpetuity, owing to the higher and holier relationship; the verses before us are a vivid description of unlimited prosperity. The corn and wine and oil appeal, by a graphic personification, to mother earth; earth appeals to the over-canopying heavens; and the heavens appeal to him whose throne is in the heavens, but whom the heavens and heaven of heavens cannot contain. Soon the floating cloud is seen and the falling rain is heard; the parched earth drinks in the moisture; and its products, being nourished and refreshed, supply to the utmost the wants and wishes of Jezreel. Kimchi comments on this picture as follows: "He says that then, in the season of salvation, the heavens shall give their dew, and the earth shall give her increase. And he says, 'I will tear the heavens which were shut up when they were in the land, as in the days of Ahab; on their return to the land at the time of salvation they shall no more be shut.' And he says, 'I will answer,' as if the heavens asked that they might give rain according to their manner, and I will answer; [as if] their earth [asked] that they [the heavens] might give rain after their manner, even showers of blessing. And this ' I will answer' denotes that my favor shall be on them [the heavens]. 'And they shall answer the earth,' as if the earth asked rain and longed for it. 'And the earth shall hear when it shall give its increase, and the tree of the field shall give its fruit...' 'And they shall hear Jezreel,' for in the multiplying of good things the eaters thereof multiply, for the steppes shall be full of the sheep of Israel. In the punishments he called the name of Israel Jezreel, because they were scattered among the nations. In the time of salvation he likewise calls them Jezreel, because they were sown in their land; accordingly, he says afterwards, 'I will sow them to me in the land.'" Such is the prophet's pictorial representation of a prosperity including food in abundance, refreshment limited by moderation, and even luxuries without stint. Old things are passed away; sinful things have ceased; there is a complete reversal of the sorrowful circumstances into which sin had plunged Israel. God's scattering has now become God's sowing. "I sow her" is the remark of Aben Ezra, "that they may multiply and be fruitful as the seed of the earth." The unpitied one has found mercy; the rejected one is received with rejoicing. "I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God."
And the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil; and they shall hear Jezreel.
And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God.