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Say to your brother, Ammi, and to your sister, Ruhamah.

Israel’s Infidelity, Punishment, and Redemption


Plead with your mother, plead—

for she is not my wife,

and I am not her husband—

that she put away her whoring from her face,

and her adultery from between her breasts,


or I will strip her naked

and expose her as in the day she was born,

and make her like a wilderness,

and turn her into a parched land,

and kill her with thirst.


Upon her children also I will have no pity,

because they are children of whoredom.


For their mother has played the whore;

she who conceived them has acted shamefully.

For she said, “I will go after my lovers;

they give me my bread and my water,

my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.”


Therefore I will hedge up her way with thorns;

and I will build a wall against her,

so that she cannot find her paths.


She shall pursue her lovers,

but not overtake them;

and she shall seek them,

but shall not find them.

Then she shall say, “I will go

and return to my first husband,

for it was better with me then than now.”


She did not know

that it was I who gave her

the grain, the wine, and the oil,

and who lavished upon her silver

and gold that they used for Baal.


Therefore I will take back

my grain in its time,

and my wine in its season;

and I will take away my wool and my flax,

which were to cover her nakedness.


Now I will uncover her shame

in the sight of her lovers,

and no one shall rescue her out of my hand.


I will put an end to all her mirth,

her festivals, her new moons, her sabbaths,

and all her appointed festivals.


I will lay waste her vines and her fig trees,

of which she said,

“These are my pay,

which my lovers have given me.”

I will make them a forest,

and the wild animals shall devour them.


I will punish her for the festival days of the Baals,

when she offered incense to them

and decked herself with her ring and jewelry,

and went after her lovers,

and forgot me, says the L ord.



Therefore, I will now allure her,

and bring her into the wilderness,

and speak tenderly to her.


From there I will give her her vineyards,

and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.

There she shall respond as in the days of her youth,

as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt.

16 On that day, says the L ord, you will call me, “My husband,” and no longer will you call me, “My Baal.” 17For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be mentioned by name no more. 18I will make for you a covenant on that day with the wild animals, the birds of the air, and the creeping things of the ground; and I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land; and I will make you lie down in safety. 19And I will take you for my wife forever; I will take you for my wife in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love, and in mercy. 20I will take you for my wife in faithfulness; and you shall know the L ord.


On that day I will answer, says the L ord,

I will answer the heavens

and they shall answer the earth;


and the earth shall answer the grain, the wine, and the oil,

and they shall answer Jezreel;


and I will sow him for myself in the land.

And I will have pity on Lo-ruhamah,

and I will say to Lo-ammi, “You are my people”;

and he shall say, “You are my God.”

Here the Lord more clearly expresses, that after having long, and in various ways, afflicted the people, he would at length be propitious to them; and not only so, but that he would also make all their punishments to be conducive to their salvation, and to be medicines to heal their diseases. But there is an inversion in the words, Behold, I will incline her, and I will make her to go into the wilderness; and so they ought to be explained thus, “Behold, I will incline her, or, persuade her, after I shall have drawn her into the desert; then, I will speak to her heart.” פתה, pete is often taken in a bad sense, to deceive, or, to persuade by falsehoods or, to use a vulgar word, to wheedle: but it means in this place, to speak kindly; so that God persuades a rebellious and obstinate people as to what is right: and then he declares that this would take place, when he led the people into the wilderness. This is connected with the former sentence, where it is said, ‘I will set her as on the day of her nativity:’ for God alludes to the first redemption of the people, which was like their birth; for it was the same as though the people had emerged from their grave; they obtained a new life when they were freed from the tyranny of Egypt. God therefore begot them a people for himself.

But the Prophet adds, After having led her into the wilderness, I will incline her; that is, render her pliable to myself. He intimates by these words, that there would be no hope of repentance until the people were led to extreme evils; for had their punishment been moderate, their perverseness would not have been corrected. Then God shows in this verse, that there would be no end or lessening of evils until the people were drawn into the wilderness, that is, until they were deprived of their country and sacrifices, and all their wealth; yea, until they were deprived of their ordinary food, and cast into a wilderness and solitude, where the want of all things would press upon them, and extreme necessity would threaten them with death. If then the people had been visited with light punishment, nothing would have been effected; for their hardness was greater than could have been softened by slight or common remedies.

But this declaration was full of great comfort. The faithful might have otherwise wholly desponded, when they found themselves led into exile, and the sight of the land, which was, as it were, the mirror of the divine adoption, was taken from them, when they saw themselves scattered into various parts, and that there was now no community, no seed of Abraham. The Lord, therefore, that despair might not swallow up the faithful, intended in this way to ease their sorrow; assuring them, that though they were drawn again into the wilderness, God, who first redeemed them, was still the same, and endued with the same strength and power which he put forth in behalf of their fathers. We now apprehend the design of the Prophet. Calamity might have shaken their hearts with so much terror, as to take away every confidence in God’s favour, and make them to think themselves wholly lost: but God sets the desert before them, “What! have I not once drawn you out of the desert? Has my power diminished since that tithe? I indeed continue to be the same God as your fathers found me to be: I will again draw you out of the wilderness.” But at the same time, God reminded them that their diseases would be unhealable, until they were led into the wilderness, until they were deprived of their country and all the tokens of his favour, that they might no more delude themselves with vain confidence.

He therefore says, After I shall draw her into the wilderness, then I will persuade, or, turn her. I prefer the word, turning or inclining, though the word, persuading, is by no means unsuitable. But there seems to be an implied comparison between the present contumacy of the people, and the obedience they would render to their God after having been subdued by various afflictions. “The people,” he says, “will be then pliable, when they shall be drawn into the wilderness.”

And I will speak then to her heart. What is the import of this expression we know from Isaiah 40. To speak to the heart is to bring comfort, to soothe grief by a kind word, to offer kindness, and to hold forth some hope, that he who had previously been worn out with sorrow may breathe freely, gather courage, and entertain hope of a better condition. And this kind of speaking ought to be carefully observed; for God means, that there was now no place for his promises, because the Israelites were so refractory. Paul did not say in vain to the Corinthians

‘Open ye my mouth, 99     As there is no different reading that favors this view of the text, it is difficult to know how Calvin came to give this paraphrase, as it is the reverse of the meaning of the passage. It is literally rendered in our version, “Our mouth is opened unto you.” Though the text is not correctly given, yet what is here taught is true and important. —Ed. O Corinthians; for I am not narrow towards you; but ye are narrow in your own bowels,’
(2 Corinthians 6:11,12.)

The Corinthians, when alienated from Paul, had obstructed, as it were, the passage of his doctrine, that he could not address them in a paternal manner. So also in this place, the Lord testifies that the floor was closed against his promises; for if he gave to the Israelites the hope of pardon, it would have been slighted; if he had invited them kindly to himself, they would have scornfully refused, yea, spurned the offer with contempt, so great was their ferocity; if he had wished to be reconciled to them, they would have despised him, or refused, or proceeded in abusing his kindness as before. He then shows, that it was their fault that he could not deal kindly and friendly with them. Hence, After I shall draw her into the wilderness, I will address her heart.

Let us then know, that whenever we are deprived of the sense of God’s favour, the way has been closed up through our fault; for God would ever be disposed willingly to show kindness, except our contumacy and hardness stood in the way. But when he sees us so subdued as to be pliable and ready to obey, then he is ready in his turn, to speak to our heart; that is, he is ready to show himself just as he is, full of grace and kindness.

We hence see how well the context of the Prophet harmonises. There are, in short, two parts, — the first is, that God takes not away wholly the hope of pardon from the Israelites, provided there were any healable among them, but shows that though the chastisement would be severe, it would yet be useful, as it would appear from its fruit; this is one clause; — and the other is, that they might not be too hasty in inquiring why God would not sooner mitigate his severity, he answers that the time was not as yet ripe; for they would not be capable of receiving his kindness, until they were by degrees subdued and humbled by heavier punishment. Let us now proceed —

The Prophet now plainly declares, that God’s favour would be evident, not only by words, but also by the effects and by experience, when the people were bent to obedience. The Prophet said in the last verse, ‘I will speak to her heart;’ now he adds, ‘I will bring a sure and clear evidence of my favour, that they may feel assured that I am reconciled to them.’ He therefore says that he would give them vines. He said before, ‘I will destroy her vines and fig-trees;’ but now he mentions only vineyards: but as we have said, the Prophet, under one kind, comprehends all other things; and he has chosen vines, because in vines the bounty of God especially appears. For bread is necessary to support life, wine abounds, and to it is ascribed the property of exhilarating the heart, Psalm 104: ‘Bread strengthens,’ or, ‘supports man’s heart; wine gladdens man’s heart.’ As then vines are usually planted not only for necessary purposes, but also for a more bountiful supply, the Prophet says, that the Lord, when reconciled to the people, will give them their vineyards from that place.

And I will give, he says, the valley of Achor, etc. He alludes to their situation in the wilderness: as soon as the Israelites came out of the wilderness, they entered the plain of Achor, which was fruitful, pleasant, and vine-bearing. Some think that the Prophet alludes to the punishment inflicted on the people for the sacrilege of Achan, but in my judgement they are mistaken; for the Prophet here means nothing else than that there would be a sudden change in the condition of the people, such as happened when they came out of the wilderness. For in the wilderness there was not even a grain of wheat or of barley, nor a bunch of grapes; in short, there was in the wilderness nothing but penury, accompanied with thousand deaths; but as soon as the people came out, they descended into the plain of Achor, which was most pleasant, and very fertile. The Prophet meant simply this, that when the people repented, there would be no delay on God’s part, but that he would free them from all evils, and restore a blessed abundance of all things, as was the case, when the people formerly descended into the plain of Achor. He therefore brings to the recollection of the Israelites what had happened to their fathers, Her vines, then, will I give her from that place, that is, “As soon as I shall by word testify my love to them, they shall effectually know and find that I am really and from the heart reconciled to them, and shall understand how inclined I am to show kindness; for I shall not long hold the people in suspense.”

And he adds, For an opening, or a door of hope He signifies here, that their restoration would be as from death into life. For though the people daily saw with their eyes that God took care of their life, for he rained manna from heaven and made water to flow from a rock; yet there was at the same time before their eyes the appearance of death. As long, then, as they sojourned in the wilderness, God did ever set before them the terrors of death: in short, their dwelling in the wilderness, as we have said, was their grave. But when the people descended into the plain of Achor, they then began to draw vital air; and they felt also that they at length lived, for they had obtained their wishes: they had now indeed come in sight of the inheritance promised to them. As then the valley of Achor was the beginning, and as it were the door of good hope to their fathers, so the Prophet, now alluding to that redemption, says, that God would immediately deal with so much kindness with the Israelites as to open for them a door of hope and salvation, as he had done formerly to their fathers in the valley of Achor.

And she shall sing there. We may easily learn from the context that those interpreters mistake who refinedly philosophise about the valley of Achor. It is indeed true that the root of the word is the verb עכר, ocar, which means, to confound or to destroy, and that this name was given to the place on account of what had occurred there: but the Prophet referred to no such thing, as it appears clearly from the second clause; for he says, “She shall sing there as in the days of her youth”, and as in the day in which she ascended from the land of Egypt. For then at length the people of God openly celebrated his praises, when they beheld with their eyes the promised land, when they saw an end to God’s severe vengeance, which continued for forty years. Hence the people then poured forth their hearts and employed their tongues in praises to God. The Prophet, therefore, teaches here, that their restoration would be such, that the people would really sing praises to God and offer him no ordinary thanks; not as they are wont to do who are relieved from a common evil, but as those who have been brought from death into life. She shall sing then as in the days of her childhood, as in that day when she ascended from the land of Egypt

Thus we see that a hope of deliverance is here given, that the faithful might sustain their minds in exile, and cherish the hope of future favour; that though the face of God would for a time be turned away from them, they might yet look for a future deliverance, nor doubt but that God would be propitious to them, after they had endured just punishment, and had been thus reformed: for as we have said, a moderate chastisement could not have been sufficient to subdue their perverseness. It follows —

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