23. 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.
23. Et seminabo eam mihi in terra (vel, in terram) et miserabor ejus quae non erat adapta misericordiam, et dicam, ymeaall, (hoc est, qui non erat populus meus,) Tu populus meus; et ipse dicet, Deus mi.
The Prophet here takes the occasion to speak of the increase of the people. He had promised a fruitful and large increase of corn, and wine, and oil; but for what end would this be, except the land had numerous inhabitants? It was hence needful to make this addition. Besides, the Prophet had said before, 'Though ye be immense in number, yet a remnant only shall be preserved.' He now sets God's new favor in opposition to his vengeance, and says, that God will again sow the people.
From this sentence we learn that the allusion in the word, Jezreel, has not been improperly noticed by some, that is, that they, who had been before a degenerate people and not true Israelites shall then be the seed of God: yet the words admit of two senses; for erz saro, applies to the earth as well as to seed. The Hebrews say, 'The earth is sown,' and also, 'The wheat is sown,' or any other grain. If then the Prophet compares the people to the earth, the sense will be, I will sow the people as I do the earth; that is, I will make them fruitful as the earth when it is productive. It must then be thus rendered, I will sow her for me as the earth, that is, as though she were my earth. Or it may be rendered thus, I will sow her for myself in the earth, and for this end, that the earth, which was for a time waste and desolate, might have many inhabitants, as we know was the case. But the relative pronoun in the feminine gender ought not to embarrass us, for the Prophet ever speaks as of a woman: the people, we know, have been as yet described to us under the person of a woman.
And he afterwards adds, hmxwraal, La-ruchamae. He speaks here either of La-ruchamae, an adulterous daughter, or an adulterous woman, whom a husband takes to himself. As to the matter itself, it is easy to learn what the Prophet means, which is, that God would diffuse an offspring far and wide, when the people had been brought not only to a small number, but almost to nothing: for how little short of entire ruin was the desolation of the people when scattered into banishment? They were then, as it has been stated, like a body torn asunder: the land in the meantime enjoyed its Sabbaths; God had disburdened it of its inhabitants.
We then understand the meaning of the Prophet to be, that God would multiply the people, that the small remnant would increase to a great and almost innumerable offspring. I will then sow her in the earth, that is, throughout the whole land; and I will have mercy on La-ruchamae, that is, I will in mercy embrace her, who had not obtained mercy; and I will say to the no-people, Ye are now my people. We see that the Prophet insists on this, -- That the people would not only seek the outward advantages of the present life, but would make a beginning at the very fountain, by regaining the favor of God, and knowing him as their propitious Father: for this is the meaning of the Prophet, of which something more will be said to-morrow.
Grant, Almighty God, that as we are in this life subject to so many miseries, and in the meantime grow insensible in our sins, -- O grant that we may learn to search ourselves and consider one sins, that we may be really humbled before thee, and ascribe to ourselves the blame of all our evils, that we may be thus led to a genuine feeling of repentance, and so strive to be reconciled to thee in Christ, that we may wholly depend on thy paternal love, and thus ever aspire to the fulness of eternal felicity, through thy goodness and that immeasurable kindness which thou testifies is ready and offered to all those, who with a sincere heart worship thee, call upon thee, and flee to thee, through Christ our Lord. Amen.