3. They shall not dwell in the Lord's land; but Ephraim shall return to Egypt, and they shall eat unclean things in Assyria.
3. Non habitabunt in terra Jehovae, et revertetur Ephraim in Aegyptum, et in Assyria immundum comedent.
The Prophet proclaims here a heavier punishment -- that the Lord would drive them into exile. It was indeed a dreadful repudiation, when they were deprived of the land of Canaan, which was the Lord's rest, as it is called in the Psalms, (Psalm 132:14.) While they dwelt in the land of Canaan, they lived as it were in the habitations of God, and could have a sure hope that he would be a father to them: but when they were thence expelled, the Lord testified that he regarded them as aliens; it was the same as when a father disinherits his son. The Prophet now threatens them not only with the want of food, but also with repudiation, which was far more grievous --
There is an elegant play on words in the verbs here used;
And now we ought to consider, whether it be right, when we are among idolaters, to conform to the rites approved by them. This place, no doubt, as other places, most clearly shows, that nothing more grievous can happen to us than the doing away of all difference between us and the profane despisers of God, even in the outward manner of living. Had the Prophet said, "The Israelites shall now be hungry in a far country; -- the Lord has hitherto fed them with plenty, for he has performed what he had formerly promised by Moses; this land has in every way been blessed, and has supplied us with great abundance of wine, wheat, and oil; yea, honey has flowed like water; but they shall now be constrained to pine away with want among their enemies:" -- Had the Prophet said this, it would have been a grievous and severe denunciation; but now he fills them, as it has been already said, with much greater horror, for he says, '
Let us then know that it is a dreadful judgement of God, when we are not allowed to profess our faith by outward worship; and when the ungodly so rule, as to put us under the necessity of which the Prophet here speaks, even of eating unclean things, that is, of being implicated in their profane superstitions. It is then a favour, to be highly valued, when we are permitted to abstain from all defilements and to worship God purely, so that no one may contaminate himself by dissimulation: but when we are compelled, under the tyranny of the ungodly, to conform to impure superstitions, it is a sign of the dreadful judgement of God; and there is nothing by which any one can excuse himself in this respect or extenuate his fault, as many do, whom yet conscience bites within, though they deem it sufficient to spread forth their own excuses before the eyes of men. But there is nothing by which such men can either flatter themselves, or dazzle the eyes of the simple; for it is an extreme reproach, when people, who ought to be sacred to God and to profess outwardly his pure worship, suffer themselves to be polluted with unclean food. It follows --