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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.”

The Lord promises again that he will not be wanting to the people, when they shall be reconciled to him. We must, indeed, in the first place, seek that God may be propitious to us; for they are very foolish who desire to live well and happily, and in the meantime care nothing for God’s favor. The Prophet shows when the happiness of men begins; it begins when God adopts them for his people, and when, having abolished their sins, he espouses them to himself. It is therefore necessary, in the first place, to seek this; for as we have said, the desire of being happy is preposterous, when we first seek the blessings of an earthly life, when we first seek ease, abundance of good things, health of body, and similar things. Hence the Prophet now shows, that we are then only happy when the Lord is reconciled to us, and not only so, but when he in his love embraces us, and contracts a holy marriage with us, and on this condition, that he will be a father and preserver to us, and that we shall be safe and secure under his protection and defense.

But at the same time he comes down to things of the second rank. Our happiness is, indeed, as we have said, in the enjoyment of God’s love; but there are accessions which afterwards follow; for the Lord provides for us, and exercises a care over us, so that he supplies whatever is needful for the support of life. Of this later part the Prophet now treats: he says, In that day. We see that he reminds us of the covenant, lest we be content with worldly abundance; for as it has been said, men are commonly devoted to their present advantages. Hence the Prophet sets here before our eyes the Lord’s covenant; he afterwards adds, that God’s favor would reach to the corn, and to the wine, and the oil.

But we must notice the Prophet’s words, I will hear, he says, or I will answer, (ענה, one, means to answer, but it is here equivalent to hear,) I will hear then, I will hear the heavens, and they will hear the earth. The repetition is not superfluous; for the Israelites had been for some time consumed by famine, before they were led away into exile; as though the heavens were iron, no drop of rain came down. They might hence have thought that there was now no hope; but God here raises them up, I will hear, I will hear, he says; as though he said, “There is no reason for the miserable condition in which I have suffered you long to languish as your sins deserved, to discourage you; for I will hereafter hear the heavens.” As the Prophet before reminded them that when the beasts were cruel to them, it was a token of God’s wrath; so also he teaches by these words that the heavens are not dry through any hidden influence; but that when God withholds his favor, there is no rain by which the heavens irrigate the earth. Then God here plainly shows that the whole order of nature, as they say, is in his hand, that no drop of rain descends from heaven except by his bidding, nor can the earth produce any grass; in short, that all nature would be barren were he not to fructify it by his blessing. And this is the reason why he says, I will hear the heavens and they will hear the earth, and the earth will hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil, and all these will hear Jezreel

The Prophet used the word, Jezreel, before in a bad sense; for his purpose was to reproach the Israelites with their unfaithfulness: when they boasted of being the seed of Abraham, and always claimed that honorable and noble distinction, the Lord said, ‘Ye are Jezreel, and not Israel.’ It may be that the Prophet wished to show again what they deserved; but he teaches, at the same time, that God would by no means be prevented from showing kindness to the unworthy when reconciled to him. Though, then, they were rather Jezreelites than Israelites, yet their unworthiness would be no impediment, that God should not deal bountifully with them. There may also be an allusion here to a new people; for it follows in the next verse, וזרעתיה, usarotie, and I will sow her; and the word, Jezreel, has an affinity to this verb, it is indeed derived from זרע, saro, which is to sow: and as the Prophet presently adds, that Jezreel is, as it were, the seed of God, I do not disapprove of this supposed allusion. But yet the Prophet seems here to commend the grace of God, when he declares that they were Jezreelites with whom God would deal so kindly as to fructify the earth for their sake.

Let us now again repeat the substance of the whole, The corn, and the wine, and the oil, will hear Jezreel The Israelites were famished, and as it is usual with those in want of food, they cried out, ‘Who will give us bread, and wine, and oil?’ For the stomach, as it is said, has no ears; nor has it reason and judgment: when there is extreme want, men, as if they were distracted, will call for bread, and wine, and oil. God then has regard for these blind instincts of men, which only crave what will gratify them: hence he says, The corn, and wine, and oil, will hear Jezreel, — but when? Even when the earth will supply trees with sap and moisture, and extend to the seed its strength; it is then that the earth will hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil: for these grow not of themselves, but derive supplies from the earth; and hence the earth is said to hear them. But cannot the earth of itself hear the corn, or the wine, or the oil? By no means, except rain descends from heaven. Since, then, the earth itself draws moisture and wetness from heaven, we see that men in vain cry out in famine, except they look up to heaven: and heaven is ruled by the will of God. Let men, therefore, learn to ascend up to God, that they may seek from him their daily bread.

We now, then, see how suitable is this gradation employed by the Prophet, by which God, on account of the rude and weak comprehension of men, leads them up at last to himself. For they turn their thoughts to bread, and wine, and oil; from these they seek food: they are in this matter very stupid. Be it so; God is indulgent to their simplicity and ignorance; for by degrees he proceeds from corn, and wine, and oil, to the earth, and then from the earth to heaven; and he afterwards shows that heaven cannot pour down rain except at his will. It follows at last —

The Prophet here takes the occasion to speak of the increase of the people. He had promised a fruitful and large increase of corn, and wine, and oil; but for what end would this be, except the land had numerous inhabitants? It was hence needful to make this addition. Besides, the Prophet had said before, ‘Though ye be immense in number, yet a remnant only shall be preserved.’ He now sets God’s new favor in opposition to his vengeance, and says, that God will again sow the people.

From this sentence we learn that the allusion in the word, Jezreel, has not been improperly noticed by some, that is, that they, who had been before a degenerate people and not true Israelites shall then be the seed of God: yet the words admit of two senses; for זרע saro, applies to the earth as well as to seed. The Hebrews say, ‘The earth is sown,’ and also, ‘The wheat is sown,’ or any other grain. If then the Prophet compares the people to the earth, the sense will be, I will sow the people as I do the earth; that is, I will make them fruitful as the earth when it is productive. It must then be thus rendered, I will sow her for me as the earth, that is, as though she were my earth. Or it may be rendered thus, I will sow her for myself in the earth, and for this end, that the earth, which was for a time waste and desolate, might have many inhabitants, as we know was the case. But the relative pronoun in the feminine gender ought not to embarrass us, for the Prophet ever speaks as of a woman: the people, we know, have been as yet described to us under the person of a woman.

And he afterwards adds, לא-רוחמה, La-ruchamae. He speaks here either of La-ruchamae, an adulterous daughter, or an adulterous woman, whom a husband takes to himself. As to the matter itself, it is easy to learn what the Prophet means, which is, that God would diffuse an offspring far and wide, when the people had been brought not only to a small number, but almost to nothing: for how little short of entire ruin was the desolation of the people when scattered into banishment? They were then, as it has been stated, like a body torn asunder: the land in the meantime enjoyed its Sabbaths; God had disburdened it of its inhabitants.

We then understand the meaning of the Prophet to be, that God would multiply the people, that the small remnant would increase to a great and almost innumerable offspring. I will then sow her in the earth, that is, throughout the whole land; and I will have mercy on La-ruchamae, that is, I will in mercy embrace her, who had not obtained mercy; and I will say to the no-people, Ye are now my people We see that the Prophet insists on this, — That the people would not only seek the outward advantages of the present life, but would make a beginning at the very fountain, by regaining the favor of God, and knowing him as their propitious Father: for this is the meaning of the Prophet, of which something more will be said to-morrow.

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