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Relentless Judgment on Israel


When Ephraim spoke, there was trembling;

he was exalted in Israel;

but he incurred guilt through Baal and died.


And now they keep on sinning

and make a cast image for themselves,

idols of silver made according to their understanding,

all of them the work of artisans.

“Sacrifice to these,” they say.

People are kissing calves!


Therefore they shall be like the morning mist

or like the dew that goes away early,

like chaff that swirls from the threshing floor

or like smoke from a window.



Yet I have been the L ord your God

ever since the land of Egypt;

you know no God but me,

and besides me there is no savior.


It was I who fed you in the wilderness,

in the land of drought.


When I fed them, they were satisfied;

they were satisfied, and their heart was proud;

therefore they forgot me.


So I will become like a lion to them,

like a leopard I will lurk beside the way.


I will fall upon them like a bear robbed of her cubs,

and will tear open the covering of their heart;

there I will devour them like a lion,

as a wild animal would mangle them.



I will destroy you, O Israel;

who can help you?


Where now is your king, that he may save you?

Where in all your cities are your rulers,

of whom you said,

“Give me a king and rulers”?


I gave you a king in my anger,

and I took him away in my wrath.



Ephraim’s iniquity is bound up;

his sin is kept in store.


The pangs of childbirth come for him,

but he is an unwise son;

for at the proper time he does not present himself

at the mouth of the womb.



Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol?

Shall I redeem them from Death?

O Death, where are your plagues?

O Sheol, where is your destruction?

Compassion is hidden from my eyes.



Although he may flourish among rushes,

the east wind shall come, a blast from the L ord,

rising from the wilderness;

and his fountain shall dry up,

his spring shall be parched.

It shall strip his treasury

of every precious thing.


Samaria shall bear her guilt,

because she has rebelled against her God;

they shall fall by the sword,

their little ones shall be dashed in pieces,

and their pregnant women ripped open.


The Prophet now repeats the sentence which we have noticed in the last chapter for the sake of amplifying the sin of the people. For had they never known sound doctrine, had they never been brought up in the law, there would have been some colour for alleviating their fault; because they might have excused themselves by saying, that as they had never known true religion, they had gone astray according to the common practice of men; but as they had from infancy been taught sound doctrine, as God had brought them up as it were in his own bosom, as they had learned from their first years what it was to worship God purely, when they thus retook themselves to the superstitions of the heathens, what could there be for an excuse for them? We then see the bearing of the complaint, when God says, that he had been the God of Israel from the land of Egypt

I am then, he says, Jehovah your God. By calling himself Jehovah, he glances at all their fictitious gods; as though he said “I am doubtless justly, and in mine own rights your God; for I am of myself — I am the Creator of the world, no one can take away my power: but whence have these their divinity, except from the madness of men?” He says further, I am thy God, O Israel; that is, “I have manifested myself to thee from the land of Egypt, from thy very nativity. When I redeemed thee from Egypt I brought thee out as it were from the womb to the light of life; for Egypt was to thee like the grave. Thou didst then begin to live, and to be some sort of people, when I stretched forth my hand to thee.”

And now also ought to be noticed what I have said before, that the people were redeemed on this condition, that they should devote themselves wholly to God. As we are at this day Christ’s, and no one of us ought to live according to his own will, for Christ died and rose again for this end, that he might be the Lord of the living and of the dead: so also then, the Israelites had been redeemed by God, that they might offer themselves wholly to Him. And since God ruled by this right over the people of Israel, how shameful and inexcusable was their defections when the people wilfully abandoned themselves to the superstitions of the Gentiles?

A God, he says, besides me thou oughtest not to know These words the Prophet had not before used. This sentence, then, is fuller, for it more clearly explains the import of what he had said, that God had purchased Israel for himself by bringing them out of Egypt, and that is, that Israel ought to have been content with this one Redeemer, and not to seek for themselves other gods. A God, then, besides me thou shalt not know. For if this one God was sufficient for redeeming his people, what do the people now mean, when they wander, and seek aid here and there? For they ought to render to God the life received from him, which they now enjoy, and ought to acknowledge to be sufficiently safe under his protection. We now then see why this was added, Thou shalt not know a God besides me

A reason, confirmatory of this, follows: For no one, he says, is a Saviour except me The copulative ו, vau, ought to be regarded here as a causative, For no one, etc., or, Surely no one is a Saviour except me. And this is a remarkable passage; for we learn that the worship of God does not consist in words, but in faith, and hope, and prayer. The Papists of the present day think that they do not profane the worship of God, though they fly to statues, though they pray to dead men, though they look here and there for the accomplishment of their hopes. How so? Because they ever retain the only true God, that is, they do not ascribe the name of God to Christopher or to Antony. The Papists think themselves free from all blame, since God retains his own name. But we see how differently the matter is regarded by the Lord. “I am,” he says, “the only true God.” How is this? “Because I am the only Saviour: feign not to thyself another God, for thou shalt find none that will save thee.” Then God puts an especial value on the honour that is due to him from hope and prayer; that is, when our soul recumbs on him alone, and when we seek and hope for salvation from no other but from him. We see then how useful is the doctrine contained in this passage, in which the Prophet clearly shows, that the Israelites acted absurdly and shamefully when they formed another god for themselves, for no Saviour, except the one true God, can be found.

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