8. 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.
8. Et ipsa non cognovit quod ego dederim ei triticum et vinum (swryt significat propice mustum,) et oleum, et argentum multiplicaverim ei, et aurum aptarunt ipsi Baal.
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.
9. Propterea revertar et tollam triticum meum tempore suo, et mustum meum suo statuto tempore, et linum meum ad tegendum turpitudinem ejus (vel, nuditatem; hoc est, quibus texit suam nuditatem.)
God here amplifies the ingratitude of the people, that they understood not whence came such abundance of good things. She understood not, he says, that I gave to her corn and wine. The superstitious sin twice, or in two ways; -- first, they ascribe to their idols what rightly belongs to God alone; and then they deprive God himself of his own honour, for they understand not that he is the only giver of all things, but think their labour lost were they to worship the true God. Hence the Prophet now complains of this ingratitude, She understood not that I gave to her corn and wine and oil. And this was an inexcusable stupidity in the Israelites, since they had been abundantly instructed, that the abundance of all good things, and every thing that supports man, flow from God's bounty. Of this they had the clear testimony of Moses; and then the land of Canaan itself was a living representation of the Divine favour. It was then a prodigious madness in the people, that they who had been taught by word and by fact, that God alone is the Giver of all things, should yet not consider this truth. The Prophet, therefore, condemns this outrageous folly of the people, that neither experience nor the teaching of the law availed anything, She knew not, he says. There is stress to be laid on the pronoun, she; for the people ought to have been familiarly acquainted with God, inasmuch as they had been brought up in his household, as a wife, who is her husband's companion. It was then incapable of any excuse, that the people should thus turn their minds and all their thoughts away from God.
She knew not then that I had given to her corn and wine and oil, that I had multiplied to her the silver, and also the gold she has prepared for Baal. The verb hse means specifically, to make: but here to appropriate to a certain purpose. They have, therefore, prepared gold for Baal; when they ought to have dedicated to me the first-fruits of all good things, in obedience to me and to the honour of my name, they have appropriated to Baal whatever blessings I have bestowed on them. We then see that in this verse two evils are condemned, -- that the people deprived God of his just honour, -- and that they transferred to their own idols what they ought to have given to God only. But he touched upon the last wickedness in the fifth verse, where he said in the person of the people, I will go after my lovers, who give my bread and my waters, my wool and my wine, etc. Here again he repeats, that they had prepared gold for Baal.
As to the word Baal, no doubt the superstitious included under this name all those whom they called inferior gods. No such madness had indeed possessed the Israelites, that they had forgotten that there is but one Maker of heaven and earth. They therefore maintained the truth, that there is some supreme God; but they added their patrons; and this, by common consent, was the practice of all nations. They did not then think that God was altogether robbed of his own glory, when they joined with him patrons or inferior gods. And they called them by a common name, Baalim, or, as it were, patrons. Baal of every kind was a patron. Some render it, husband. But foolish men, I doubt not, have ever had this superstitious notion, that inferior gods come nearer to men, and are, as it were, mediators between this world and the supreme God. It is the same with the Papists of the present day; they have their Baalim; not that they regard their patrons in the place of God: but as they dread every access to God, and understand not that Christ is a mediator, they retake themselves here and there to various Baalim, that they may procure favour to themselves; and at the same time, whatever honour they show to stones, or wood, or bones of dead men, or to any of their own inventions, they call it the worship of God. Whatever then, is worshipped by the Papists is Baal: but they have, at the same time, their patrons for their Baalim. We now then perceive the meaning of the Prophet in this verse.
It now follows Therefore will I return, and take away my corn in its time, and my new wine in its stated time. Here, again, the Prophet shows that God was, by extreme necessity, constrained to take vengeance on an ungodly and irreclaimable people. He makes known how great was the hardness of the people, and then adds, "What now remains, but to deprive those who have been so ungrateful to me of all their blessings?" It is, indeed, more than base for men to enjoy the gifts of God and to despise the giver; yea, to exalt his creatures to his place, and to reduce, as it were, all his authority to nothing. This the superstitious indeed do, for they thrust God from his pre-eminence, and insult his glory. Will God, in the meantime, so throw away his blessings as to suffer them to be profaned by the ungodly, and himself to be thus mocked with impunity? We now then see the object of the Prophet; for God here shows that there was no other remedy, but to deprive the Israelites of all their gifts: he had indeed enriched them, but they had abused all their abundance. It was therefore necessary to reduce them to extreme want, that they might no longer pollute God's gifts which ought to be held sacred by us.
And he uses a very suitable word; for lun natsal means properly, to pluck away to set free. I will by force take away, he says, my wool and my flax. It seems, indeed, to denote an unjust possession, as when one takes away by force from the hand of a robber what he unjustly possesses, or as when any one rescues wretched men from the power of a tyrant. So God now speaks, 'I will pluck away my gifts from these men who basely and unjustly pollute them.'
And he adds, to cover her nakedness. hwre, orue, properly, though not simply, means nakedness: it is the nakedness of the uncomely parts. Moses calls any indecorous part of the body hwre, orue, and so it means what is uncomely. This word we ought carefully to notice; for God here shows, that except he denudes idolaters, they will ever continue obstinate. How so? Because they use coverings for their baseness. While the ungodly enjoy their triumphs in the world, they regard them as veils drawn over them, so that nothing base or disgraceful can be seen in them. The same is the case with great kings and monarchs; they think that the eyes of all are dazzled by their splendour; and hence it is, that they are so audaciously dissolute. They think their own filth to be fine odour: such is the arrogance of the world. It is even so with the superstitious; when God is indulgent to them, they think that they have coverings. When, therefore, they abandon themselves to any kind of wickedness, they regard it as if it were a holy thing. How so? Because, whatever obscene thing is in them, it is covered by prosperity. When God observes such madness as this in men, can he do otherwise than pluck away his blessings, that such a pollution may not continually prevail? For it is an abuse extremely gross, that when God's blessings are so many images of his glory, and when his paternal goodness shines forth even towards the ungodly, the world should convert them to a purpose wholly contrary, and make them as coverings for themselves, that they may conceal their own baseness, and more freely sin and carry on war against God himself. Hence he says, "That they may no longer cover their baseness, I will pluck away whatever I have bestowed on them."
When he says, I will take away the corn and wine in its time, and in its stated time, he alludes, I have no doubt, to the time of harvest and vintage; as though he said, "The harvest will come, the vintage will come: there has been hitherto great fruitfulness; but I will show that the earth and all its fruits are subject to my will. Though, then, the Israelites are now full, and have their storehouses well furnished, they shall know that I rule over the harvest and the vintage, when the stated time shall come." Now, the Spirit of God denounced this punishment early, that the Israelites, if reclaimable, might return to a right course. But as their blindness was so great that they despised all that had been said to them, no excuse remained for them. It now follows --