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A Plea for Repentance


Return, O Israel, to the L ord your God,

for you have stumbled because of your iniquity.


Take words with you

and return to the L ord;

say to him,

“Take away all guilt;

accept that which is good,

and we will offer

the fruit of our lips.


Assyria shall not save us;

we will not ride upon horses;

we will say no more, ‘Our God,’

to the work of our hands.

In you the orphan finds mercy.”


Assurance of Forgiveness


I will heal their disloyalty;

I will love them freely,

for my anger has turned from them.


I will be like the dew to Israel;

he shall blossom like the lily,

he shall strike root like the forests of Lebanon.


His shoots shall spread out;

his beauty shall be like the olive tree,

and his fragrance like that of Lebanon.


They shall again live beneath my shadow,

they shall flourish as a garden;

they shall blossom like the vine,

their fragrance shall be like the wine of Lebanon.



O Ephraim, what have I to do with idols?

It is I who answer and look after you.

I am like an evergreen cypress;

your faithfulness comes from me.


Those who are wise understand these things;

those who are discerning know them.

For the ways of the L ord are right,

and the upright walk in them,

but transgressors stumble in them.

The Prophet now again repeats what he had said, that God, after restoring the people to favour, would be so beneficent, as to render apparent the fruit of reconciliation. Seeing that the Israelites had been afflicted, they ought to have imputed this to their own sins, they ought to have perceived by such proofs, the wrath of God. They had been so stupid as to have on the contrary imagined, that their adversities happened to them by chance. The Prophet had been much engaged in teaching this truth, that the Israelites would be ever miserable until they turned to God, and also, that all their affairs would be unhappy until they obtained pardon. He now speaks of a change, that God would not only by words show himself propitious to them, but would also give a proof by which the Israelites might know that they were now blessed, because they had been reconciled to God; for his blessing would be the fruit of his gratuitous love. Thus then ought this sentence, I will be to Israel as the dew, to be connected: He intimates that they were before dry, because they had been deprived of God’s favour. He compares them to a rose or lily: for when the fields or meadows are burnt up by the heat of the sun, and there is no dew distilling from heaven, all things wither. How then can lilies and roses flourish, except they derive moisture from heaven, and the dew refreshes the grounds that they may put forth their strength? The reason then for the similitude is this, because men become dry and destitute of all vigour, when God withdraws his favour. Why? Because God must, as it were, distil dew, otherwise, as it has been said, we become wholly barren and dry. I will be then as dew to Israel

And further, He shall Flourish as the lily, and his roots he shall send forth Some render ויך, vaic, “and he will strike;” and נכה, nuke, means to strike. Others render the words, “His branches will extend:” but the verb is in the singular number, and the noun, “roots,” is in the plural. The Prophet then speaks of Israel, that he strikes his roots; but he means to fix in a metaphorical sense: he will then fix his roots. As when we strike, we fetch a blow, and extend our arms; so he will spread forth his roots as Libanus. This is the second effect of God’s favour and blessing; which means, that the happiness of the people would be perpetual. With regard to the rose or lily, the meaning of the metaphor is, that God would suddenly, and as in a moment, vivify the Israelites, though they were like the dead. as in one night the lily rises, and unexpectedly also the rose; so sudden would be the change signified by this metaphor. But as the lilies and the roses soon wither, it was not enough to promise to Israel that their salvation would come suddenly; but it was needful to add this second clause, — that though they would be like lilies and roses, they yet would be also like tall trees, which have deep roots in the ground, by which they remain firm and for a long time flourish.

We now then perceive the meaning of the Prophet. He mentions here the twofold effect of God’s blessing as to the Israelites, — that their restoration would be sudden, as soon as God would distil like the dew his favour upon them, and also that this happiness would not be fading, but enduring and permanent. And the words may be rendered, as Libanus, or as those of Libanus: as Libanus he shall cast forth his roots, as the trees which grow there; or, he shall cast forth his roots as the trees which are in Libanus. But as to the sense there is no difference. It follows —

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