5. Thy calf, O Samaria, hath cast thee off; mine anger is kindled against them: how long will it be ere they attain to innocency?
5. Elongavit (vel, procul regecit; est idem verbum, xnz) vitulus tuus (vel, vitulum tuum) Samaria; excanduit furor meus in illos: quousque non poterunt munditiem (vel, innocentiam.)
The Prophet goes on with the same subject; for he shows that Israel perished through their own fault, and that the crime, or the cause of destruction, could not be transferred to any other. There is some ambiguity in the words, which does note however, obscure the sense; for whether we read calf in the objective case, or say, thy calf has removed thee far off, it will be the same. Some say, "has forsaken thee," as they do above, "Israel has forsaken good;" but the sense of throwing away is to be preferred. Thy calf, then, Samaria, has cast thee off, or, "The Lord has cast far off thy calf." If we read thy calf in the "objective" case, then the Prophet denounces destruction not only on the Israelites, but also on the calf in which they hoped. But the probable exposition is, that the calf had removed far off", or driven far Samaria or the people of Samaria; and this, I have no doubt, is the meaning of the words; for the Prophet, to confirm his previous doctrine, seems to remind the Israelites again, that the cause of their destruction was not anywhere to be sought but in their wickedness, and especially because they, having forsaken the true God, had made an idol for themselves, and formed the calf to be in the place of God. Now, it was a stupidity extremely gross and perverse, that having experienced, through so many miracles, the infinite power and goodness of God, they should yet have betaken themselves to a dead thing. They forged for themselves a calf! Must they not have been moved, as it were, by a prodigious madness, when they did thus fall away from the true God, who had so often and so wonderfully made himself known to them?
Hence God says now Thy calf O Samaria; that is "The captivity which now impends over thee will not happen by a fortuitous chance, nor will it be right to ascribe it to the wrong done by enemies, that they shall by force take thee to distant lands; but thy very calf drives thee away. God had indeed fixed thee in this land, that it might be to thee a quiet heritage to the end; but thy calf has not suffered thee to rest here. The land of Canaan was indeed thy heritage, as it was also the Lord's heritage; but after God has been banished, and the calf has been introduced in his place, by what right can you now remain in the possession of it? Thy calf, then, expels thee, inasmuch as by thy calf thou hast first attempted to banish the true God." We now perceive the mind of the Prophet.
He afterwards says that his anger kindled against them. He includes here all the Israelites, and shows that it cannot be otherwise, but that God would inflict on them extreme vengeance, inasmuch as they were not teachable, (as we have before often observed,) and could not be turned nor reformed by any admonitions.
How long, he says, will they be not able to attain cleanness, or innocence? He here deplores the obstinacy of the people, that at no period or space of time had they returned to a sane mind, and that there was no hope of them in future. How long then will they not be able to attain innocence? "Since it is so; that is, since they are unimpressible, (incompatibiles) as they commonly say, since they are void of all purity or innocence, I am, therefore, now constrained to adopt the last remedy, and, that is, to destroy them." Here God shuts the mouth of the ungodly, that they could not object that the severity which he so rigidly exercised towards them was immoderate. He refutes their calumnies by saying, that he had patiently borne with them, and was still bearing with them. But he saw them to be so obstinate in their wickedness, that no hope of them could be entertained. It follows --