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Unfaithful Israel


If a man divorces his wife

and she goes from him

and becomes another man’s wife,

will he return to her?

Would not such a land be greatly polluted?

You have played the whore with many lovers;

and would you return to me?

says the L ord.


Look up to the bare heights, and see!

Where have you not been lain with?

By the waysides you have sat waiting for lovers,

like a nomad in the wilderness.

You have polluted the land

with your whoring and wickedness.


Therefore the showers have been withheld,

and the spring rain has not come;

yet you have the forehead of a whore,

you refuse to be ashamed.


Have you not just now called to me,

“My Father, you are the friend of my youth—


will he be angry forever,

will he be indignant to the end?”

This is how you have spoken,

but you have done all the evil that you could.


A Call to Repentance

6 The L ord said to me in the days of King Josiah: Have you seen what she did, that faithless one, Israel, how she went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and played the whore there? 7And I thought, “After she has done all this she will return to me”; but she did not return, and her false sister Judah saw it. 8She saw that for all the adulteries of that faithless one, Israel, I had sent her away with a decree of divorce; yet her false sister Judah did not fear, but she too went and played the whore. 9Because she took her whoredom so lightly, she polluted the land, committing adultery with stone and tree. 10Yet for all this her false sister Judah did not return to me with her whole heart, but only in pretense, says the L ord.

11 Then the L ord said to me: Faithless Israel has shown herself less guilty than false Judah. 12Go, and proclaim these words toward the north, and say:

Return, faithless Israel,

says the L ord.

I will not look on you in anger,

for I am merciful,

says the L ord;

I will not be angry forever.


Only acknowledge your guilt,

that you have rebelled against the L ord your God,

and scattered your favors among strangers under every green tree,

and have not obeyed my voice,

says the L ord.


Return, O faithless children,

says the L ord,

for I am your master;

I will take you, one from a city and two from a family,

and I will bring you to Zion.


15 I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding. 16And when you have multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, says the L ord, they shall no longer say, “The ark of the covenant of the L ord.” It shall not come to mind, or be remembered, or missed; nor shall another one be made. 17At that time Jerusalem shall be called the throne of the L ord, and all nations shall gather to it, to the presence of the L ord in Jerusalem, and they shall no longer stubbornly follow their own evil will. 18In those days the house of Judah shall join the house of Israel, and together they shall come from the land of the north to the land that I gave your ancestors for a heritage.



I thought

how I would set you among my children,

and give you a pleasant land,

the most beautiful heritage of all the nations.

And I thought you would call me, My Father,

and would not turn from following me.


Instead, as a faithless wife leaves her husband,

so you have been faithless to me, O house of Israel,

says the L ord.



A voice on the bare heights is heard,

the plaintive weeping of Israel’s children,

because they have perverted their way,

they have forgotten the L ord their God:


Return, O faithless children,

I will heal your faithlessness.


“Here we come to you;

for you are the L ord our God.


Truly the hills are a delusion,

the orgies on the mountains.

Truly in the L ord our God

is the salvation of Israel.

24 “But from our youth the shameful thing has devoured all for which our ancestors had labored, their flocks and their herds, their sons and their daughters. 25Let us lie down in our shame, and let our dishonor cover us; for we have sinned against the L ord our God, we and our ancestors, from our youth even to this day; and we have not obeyed the voice of the L ord our God.”


As the Israelites say here nothing new, but continue the same subject, I propose only to touch briefly on the words, lest I should be too tedious. They say then that they were lying in their miseries; and why? because they had dealt wickedly with God We see that they are explaining what they had confessed, — even that the labor of their fathers had been consumed by their shame, that is, by their wickedness; and they ascribe to themselves what might have been put to the account of their fathers, because they knew that they were heirs to their iniquity. We have lain, they say, in our shame 9797     Calvin seems to have followed the Septuagint in rendering the verb in the past tense. The Vulgate and Syriac retain the future of the original; but the Targum gives the present, and rightly so, as the future in Hebrew is often to be so taken. It is the same in Welsh, the future conveys the meaning of the present. This distich might in that language be rendered exactly according to the Hebrew, and the future would be understood as expressing what the present state of things is, —
   Gorweddwn yn ein cywilydd, A gorchuddia ni ein gwarth.

   But in English the present must be used, as it is the confession of the penitent when returning to God, —

   We lie in our shame, And cover us does our disgrace, Because against Jehovah our God Have we sinned, we and our fathers, From our childhood even to this day; And we have not hearkened To the voice of Jehovah our God.

   — Ed.
They here shortly confess that they were deservedly miserable, that they could not accuse God of cruelty, as that he afflicted them too severely. How so? because they were lying in their own shame, and their own disgrace covered them; as though they said, that the cause of all their evils was to be found in their sins, and that it was not to be sought anywhere else.

Because we and our fathers, they say, have done wickedly By these words they intimate that they had acted thus, not for a day only, but had been so perverse, that from early life they had imbibed the iniquity of their fathers, and thus added evils to evils. They had said before, that the labor of their fathers had been consumed from their childhood, thereby signifying the continuance of their punishment; for God had not for a day chastised them, but had often repeated his scourges, and yet without any benefit. Now they add, “As we have from our childhood dealt wickedly towards our God, so also he has warned us from our childhood to return to him; and it has been our fault that we have not returned, for he called us; but as we were obstinate, so also God has justly executed on us his vengeance.”

They afterwards say, even to this day; by which they confirm what I have already stated, — that they had been so perverse as not to cease from their vices. At the same time he points out the source of all their wickedness: they hearkened not to the voice of Jehovah Had they gone astray, and had God been silent, their fault might have been extenuated; but as God had daily sent prophets to them, who never ceased to cry in their hearing, and yet they continued deaf, their perverseness in their sinful courses was inexcusable. We then see that their sin was increased by the circumstance, that they refused to hear the voice of God; as though he had said, that God had done his part in calling them back from the way of ruin, but that they had been so obstinate as to disregard his favor, and that they thus justly suffered, not only for their impiety, but also for their ingratitude and perverse wickedness.

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