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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 —

The Prophet now expands his subject, and shows that when the people repented, the fruits of repentance would openly appear. One fruit he records, and that is, that they would then begin to worship God purely, all superstitions being abolished. It shall be, he says, in that day that thou shalt call me, My husband; and he mentions the word, husband, to show to the people, that after having been corrected, they would be mindful of the covenant which God had made with them; and in that covenant, as stated before, there was the condition of a mutual engagement.

We hence see what the Prophet means: he tells us that the people would then be no more given to superstitions as before, but on the contrary would be mindful of God’s covenant, and would continue sincere and true to their conjugal vow. Hence, thou shalt call me, My husband; that is, “Thou shalt know what I am to thee, that I am joined to thee by a sacred and inviolable marriage.” And thou shalt not call me, My Baal; that is, “Thou shalt not give me a false and heathenish name:” for the word, Baal, as I have said before, was everywhere in every one’s mouth. But the next verse must be added —

In this verse the Prophet more clearly unfolds what he said before, that there would be a new mind in the people, so that they would worship God purely, though they were before entangled in their superstitions. The meaning then is, that religion will then return to its true state, for the names of Baalim shall cease. We have already stated whence this name had arisen. Not even the heathens wished to thrust the only true God from his celestial throne, by forming for themselves many gods: but while they allowed some Supreme Being, they wished to have patrons, whom they employed in conciliating his favour and good-will. That this was for the most part the common doctrine, may be easily learnt from Plato: and the Jews also, no doubt, thought of becoming wise by following the common judgement of others; they hence had their Baalim. But though they called their patrons Baalim, they yet gave this name to God: “Let us worship Baalim.” The Papists do the same; when they enter their temples, they immediately turn to the image of Mary or of some saint, and dare not come to God. At the same time they worship God, that is, pretend to worship God, and they call superstition God’s worship. So it was among the Israelites; though the majesty of the Supreme God was not denied, yet that happened which the Papists also say, “That Christ is not distinguished from his Apostles;” all things were with them mixed together and confused. He therefore says, I will take away Baalim from her mouth, and she will no more remember the name of Baalim; which means, “They will be content with the profession of pure faith, and will celebrate the name of the only true God; they will no more mix their own glosses with the doctrine of the law, and thus vitiate the pure and holy worship of God;” We now understand the meaning of the Prophet.

Now we learn from this place, that the Church cannot be rightly reformed except it be trained to obedience by the frequent scourges of God; for the Lord thereby creates a new people for himself. We see at this day what great stupidity possesses their minds, who have not been well prepared for the worship of God. They indeed laugh at the superstitions of the Papacy; but, at the same time, they are a sort of Cyclops: 1010     Fabled giants with one eye. These referred to had an eye to see the absurdities of Popery; but they had no eye to see the beauty and glory of the Gospel. —Ed. we see that there is nothing but barbarous ignorance in their hearts. The Prophet then says, not in vain, that the state of religion would then be right, when the Lord had wholly subdued his people. Hence “in that day”, which refers to the heavy punishment which God would inflict on the Israelites — In that day, then, saith the Lord, thou wilt no more call me, Baal; but thou wilt call me, Husband How so? Because “I will take away” the names of Baalim from thy mouth; that is, I will make the people to cast away their own devices, and to be content with the pure doctrine of my law.

We ought also to remember that a confession of faith is here commended by the Prophet. It is no doubt the fruit of true penitence, when we testify by the mouth and tongue that the only true God is our God, and when we are not ashamed to confess his name before the world, though it may rage madly against us.

We are further reminded by these words, that too much diligence and care cannot be taken to cleanse ourselves wholly from all sorts of pollutions; for as long as any relics of superstition continue among us, they will ever entangle us, and thus we shall stumble, or, at least not run so briskly as we ought. Since, then whatever men retain of their own corrupt devices is a hindrance to them in obtaining a direct access to God, it is meet for us to labour that the names of Baalim should cease, and be abolished among us; and for this end, that nothing may hinder and retard us in the true worship of God. Now follows —

The Prophet shows here that the people would be in every way happy after their return to God’s favour: and, at the same time, he reminds us that the cause of all evils is, that men provoke God’s wrath. Hence, when God is angry, all things must necessarily be adverse to us; for as God has all creatures at his will, and in his hand, he can arm them in vengeance against us whenever he pleases: but when he is propitious to us, he can make all things in heaven and earth to be conducive to our safety. As then he often threatens in the Law, that when he purposed to punish the people, he would make brute animals, and the birds of heaven, and all kinds of reptiles, to execute his judgement, so in this place he declares that there would be peace to men when he received them into favour.

I will make a covenant, he says, in that day with the beast of the field We know what is said in another place,

‘If thou shuttest thyself up at home, a serpent shall there bite thee; but if thou goest out of thy house, either a bear or a lion shall meet thee in the way,’ (Amos 5:19;)

by which words God shows that we cannot escape his vengeance when he is angry with us; for he will arm against us lions and bears as well as serpents, both at home and abroad. But he says here, ‘I will make a covenant for them with the beasts;’ so that they may perform their duty towards us: for they were all created, we know, for this end, — to be subject to men. Since, then, they were destined for our benefit, they ought, according to their nature, to be in subjection to us: and we know that Adam caused this, — that wild beasts rise up so rebelliously against us; for otherwise they would have willingly and gently obeyed us. Now since there is this horrible disorder, that brute beasts, which ought to own men as their masters, rage against them, the Lord recalls us here to the first order of nature, I will make a covenant for them, he says, with the beast of the field, which means, “I will make brute animals to know for what end they were formed, that is, to be subject to the dominion of men, and to show no rebelliousness any more.”

We now then perceive the intention of the Prophet: he reminds the Israelites that all things were adverse to their safety as long as they were alienated from God; but that when they returned into favour with him, this disorder, which had for a time appeared, would be no longer; for the regular order of nature would prevail, and brute animals would suffer themselves to be brought to obedience. This is the covenant of which the Prophet now speaks when he says, I will make a covenant for them, that is, in their name, with the beast of the field, and with the bird of heaven, and with the reptile of the earth

It follows, I will shatter the bow, and the sword, and the battle, that is, every warlike instrument; for under the word מלחמה“milchamah”, the Prophet includes every thing adapted for war. Hence, “I will shatter” every kind of weapons “in that day, and make them dwell securely”. In the last clause he expresses the end for which the weapons and swords were to be shattered, — that the Israelites before disquieted by various fears, might dwell in peace, and no more fear any danger. This is the meaning.

But it is meet for us to call to mind what we have before said, that the Prophet so speaks of the people’s restoration, that he extends his predictions to the kingdom of Christ, as we may learn from Paul’s testimony already cited. We then see that God’s favor, of which the Prophet now speaks, is not restricted to a short time or to a few years but extends to Christ’s kingdom, and is what we have in common with the ancient people. Let us therefore know, that if we provoke not God against us by our sins, all things will be subservient to the promotion of our safety, and that it is our fault when creatures do not render us obedience: for when we mutiny against God, it is no wonder that brute animals should become ferocious and rage against us; for what peace can there be, when we carry on war against God himself? Hence were men, as they ought, to submit to God’s authority, there would be no rebelliousness in brute animals; nay, all who are turbulent would gently rest under the protection of God. But as we are insolent against God, he justly punishes us by stirring up against us various contentions and various tumults. Hence, then swords, hence bows, are prepared against us, and hence wars are stirred up against us: all this is because we continue to fight against God.

It must, at the same time, be further noticed, that it is a singular benefit for a people to dwell in security; for we know that though we may possess all other things, yet miserable is our condition, unless we live in peace: hence the Prophet mentions this as the summit of a happy life. It now follows —

The Prophet here again makes known the manner in which God would receive into favor his people. As though the people had not violated the marriage vow, God promises to be to them like a bridegroom, who marries a virgin, young and pure. We have before spoken of the people’s defection; but as God had repudiated them, it was no common favor for the people to be received again by God, and received with pardon. When a woman returns to her husband, it is a great thing in the husband to forgive her, and not to upbraid her with her former base conduct: but God goes farther than this; for he espouses to himself a people infamous through many disgraceful acts; and having abolished their sins, he contracts, as it were, a new marriage, and joins them again to himself. Hence he says, I will espouse thee to me. We now perceive the import of the word, espouse: for God thereby means, that he would not remember the unfaithfulness for which he had before cast away his people, but would blot out all their infamy. It was indeed an honorable reception into favor, when God offered a new marriage, as though the people had not been like an adulterous woman.

And he says, I will espouse thee to me for ever. There is here an implied contrast between the marriage of which the Prophet had hitherto spoken, and this which God now contracts. For God, having redeemed the people, had before entered, as we have said, into marriage with them: but the people had departed from their vow; hence followed alienation and divorce. That marriage was then not only temporary, but also weak and soon broken; for the people did not continue long in obedience: but of this new marriage the Prophet declares, that it will continue fast and for ever; and thus he sets its durable state in contrast with the falling away which had soon alienated the people from God. Hence he says, I will espouse thee to me for ever.

He then declares by what means he would do this, even in righteousness and judgment, and then in kindness and mercies, and thirdly, in faithfulness. God had indeed from the beginning covenanted with the Israelites in righteousness and judgment; there was nothing disguised or false in his covenant: as then God had in sincerity adopted the people, to what vices does he oppose righteousness and judgment? I answer, These words must be applied to both the contracting parties: then, by righteousness God means not only his own, but that also which is, as they say, mutual and reciprocal; and by righteousness and judgment is meant rectitude, in which nothing is wanting. We now then perceive what the Prophet had in view.

But he adds, secondly, In kindness and mercies: by which words he intimates, that though the people were unworthy, yet, this would be no impediment in their way, to prevent them to return into favor with God; for in this reconciliation God would regard his own goodness, rather than the merits of his people.

In the third place, he adds, In faithfulness: and this confirms what we have before briefly referred to, — the fixed and unchangeable duration of this marriage.

The words, righteousness and judgment, are, I know, more refinedly explained by some. They say that righteousness is what is conferred on us by God through gratuitous imputation; and they take judgment for that defense which he affords against the violence and the assaults of our enemies. But here the Prophet, I doubt not, intimates in a general way, that this covenant would stand firm, because there would be truth and rectitude on both sides. That this may be more clearly understood, let us take a passage from the 31st chapter of Jeremiah [Jeremiah 31:31-34] where God complains, that the covenant he had made with the ancient people had not been firm; for they had forsaken it. ‘My covenant,’ he says, ‘with your fathers has not continued.’ — Why? ‘Because they departed from my commandments.’ God indeed in perfect sincerity adopted the people, and no righteousness was wanting in him; but as there was no constancy and faithfulness in the people, the covenant came to nothing: hence God afterwards adds, ‘I will hereafter make a new covenant with you; for I will engrave my laws on your hearts,’ etc. We now then see what the Prophet means by righteousness and judgment, even this, that God would cause the marriage vow to be kept on both sides; for the people, restored from exile, would no more violate their pledged faith nor act unfaithfully.

But we must notice what is added, In goodness and mercies. And this part Jeremiah does not omit, for he adds, ‘Their iniquities I will not remember.’ As then the Israelites, conscious of evils might tremble through fear, the Prophet seasonably anticipates their diffidence, by promising that the marriage which God was prepared anew to contract, would be in kindness and mercies. There is then no reason why their own unworthiness should frighten away the people; for God here unfolds his own immense goodness and unparalleled mercies. The Prophet might indeed have expressed this in one word, but he adds mercies to goodness. The people had indeed sunk into a deep abyss, that restoration could have been hardly hoped: hence the word, kindness, or goodness, would have been hardly sufficient to raise up their minds, had not the word, mercies, been added for the sake of confirmation.

Now he adds, in faithfulness; and by faithfulness is to be understood, I doubt not, that stability of which I have spoken; for what some philosophize on this expression is too refined, who give this explanation, ‘I will espouse thee in faith,’ that is by the gospel; for we embrace God’s free promises, and thus the covenant the Lord makes with us is ratified. I simply interpret the word as denoting stability.

And the Prophet shows afterwards that this covenant would be confirmed, because faithfulness would be reciprocal, they shall know, he says, Jehovah. Jeremiah, I doubt not, borrowed from this place what is written in the 31st chapter; for there he also adds, ‘No one shall hereafter teach his neighbor, for all, from the least to the greatest shall know me, saith Jehovah.’ Our Prophet says here in one sentence, they shall know Jehovah Hence then is the stability of the covenant, because God by his light shall guide the hearts of those who had before strayed in darkness and wandered after their own superstitions. Since then a horrible darkness prevailed among the Israelitic people, Hosea promises the light of true knowledge; and this knowledge of God is such, that the people fall not away from the Lord, nor are they seduced by the fallacies of Satan. Hence God’s covenant stands firm. We now understand the import of the words.

Jerome thinks that the Prophet promises espousals thrice, because the Lord once espoused the people to himself in Abraham, then when he led them out of Egypt, and, thirdly, when once he reconciled the whole world in Christ: but this is too refined, and even frivolous. I take a simpler meaning, — that the Prophet proclaims an espousal thrice, because it was difficult to restore the people from fear and despair, for they well understood how grievously and in how many ways they had alienated themselves from God: it was hence necessary to apply many consolations, which might serve to confirm their faith. This is the reason why the Lord does not say once, I will espouse thee to myself, but repeats it thrice. The Prophet indeed seemed then to speak of a thing incredible: for what sort of an example is this, that the Lord should take for his wife an abominable harlot? Nay, that he should contract a new marriage with an unclean adulteress, immersed in debauchery? This was like something monstrous. Hence the Prophet, that nothing might hinder souls from recumbing on the promise, says, “Doubt not, for the Lord very often assures you, that this is certain.”

Now, since we have this promise in common with them, we see by the words of the Prophet what is the beginning of our salvation: God espoused the Israelites to himself, when restored from exile through his goodness and mercies. What fellowship have we with God, when we are born and come out of the womb, except he graciously adopts us? for we bring nothing, we know, with us but a curse; this is the heritage of all mankind. Since it is so, all our salvation must necessarily have its foundation in the goodness and mercies of God. But there is also another reason in our case, when God receives us into favor; for we were covenant-breakers under the Papacy; there was not one of us who had not departed from the pledge of his baptism; and so we could not have returned into favor with God, except he had freely united us to himself: and God not only forgave us, but contracted also a new marriage with us, so that we can now, as on the day of our youth, as it has been previously said, openly give thanks to him.

But we must notice this short clause, They shall know Jehovah. We indeed see that we are in confusion as soon as we turn aside from the right and pure knowledge of God, nay, that we are wholly lost. Since then our salvation consists in the light of faith, our minds ought ever to be directed to God, that our union with him, which he has formed by the gospel, may abide firm and permanent. But as this is not in the power or will of man, we draw this evident conclusion, that God not only offers his grace in the outward preaching, but at the same time in the renewing of our hearts. Except God then recreates us a new people to himself, there is no more stability in the covenant he makes now with us than in the old which he made formerly with the fathers under the Law; for when we compare ourselves with the Israelites, we find that we are nothing better. It is, therefore, necessary that God should work inwardly and efficaciously on our hearts, that his covenant may stand firm: nay, since the knowledge of him is the special gift of the Spirit, we may with certainty conclude, that what is said here refers not only to outward preaching, but that the grace of the Spirit is also joined, by which God renews us after his own image, as we have already proved from a passage in Jeremiah: but that we may not seem to borrow from another place, we may say that it appears evident from the words of the Prophet, that there is no other bond of stability, by which the covenant of God can be strengthened and preserved, but the knowledge he conveys to us of himself; and this he conveys not only by outward teaching, but also by the illumination of our minds by his Spirit, yea, by the renewing of our hearts. It follows —

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