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2. Israel Forsakes God

Moreover the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 2Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the Lord; I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown. 3Israel was holiness unto the Lord, and the firstfruits of his increase: all that devour him shall offend; evil shall come upon them, saith the Lord. 4Hear ye the word of the Lord, O house of Jacob, and all the families of the house of Israel:

5Thus saith the Lord, What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that they are gone far from me, and have walked after vanity, and are become vain? 6Neither said they, Where is the Lord that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, that led us through the wilderness, through a land of deserts and of pits, through a land of drought, and of the shadow of death, through a land that no man passed through, and where no man dwelt? 7And I brought you into a plentiful country, to eat the fruit thereof and the goodness thereof; but when ye entered, ye defiled my land, and made mine heritage an abomination. 8The priests said not, Where is the Lord? and they that handle the law knew me not: the pastors also transgressed against me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after things that do not profit.

9Wherefore I will yet plead with you, saith the Lord, and with your children’s children will I plead. 10For pass over the isles of Chittim, and see; and send unto Kedar, and consider diligently, and see if there be such a thing. 11Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit. 12Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the Lord. 13For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.

14 Is Israel a servant? is he a homeborn slave? why is he spoiled? 15The young lions roared upon him, and yelled, and they made his land waste: his cities are burned without inhabitant. 16Also the children of Noph and Tahapanes have broken the crown of thy head. 17Hast thou not procured this unto thyself, in that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God, when he led thee by the way? 18And now what hast thou to do in the way of Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor? or what hast thou to do in the way of Assyria, to drink the waters of the river? 19Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord GOD of hosts.

20For of old time I have broken thy yoke, and burst thy bands; and thou saidst, I will not transgress; when upon every high hill and under every green tree thou wanderest, playing the harlot. 21Yet I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me? 22For though thou wash thee with nitre, and take thee much sope, yet thine iniquity is marked before me, saith the Lord GOD. 23How canst thou say, I am not polluted, I have not gone after Baalim? see thy way in the valley, know what thou hast done: thou art a swift dromedary traversing her ways; 24A wild ass used to the wilderness, that snuffeth up the wind at her pleasure; in her occasion who can turn her away? all they that seek her will not weary themselves; in her month they shall find her. 25Withhold thy foot from being unshod, and thy throat from thirst: but thou saidst, There is no hope: no; for I have loved strangers, and after them will I go. 26As the thief is ashamed when he is found, so is the house of Israel ashamed; they, their kings, their princes, and their priests, and their prophets, 27Saying to a stock, Thou art my father; and to a stone, Thou hast brought me forth: for they have turned their back unto me, and not their face: but in the time of their trouble they will say, Arise, and save us. 28But where are thy gods that thou hast made thee? let them arise, if they can save thee in the time of thy trouble: for according to the number of thy cities are thy gods, O Judah. 29Wherefore will ye plead with me? ye all have transgressed against me, saith the Lord. 30In vain have I smitten your children; they received no correction: your own sword hath devoured your prophets, like a destroying lion.

31O generation, see ye the word of the Lord. Have I been a wilderness unto Israel? a land of darkness? wherefore say my people, We are lords; we will come no more unto thee? 32Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? yet my people have forgotten me days without number. 33Why trimmest thou thy way to seek love? therefore hast thou also taught the wicked ones thy ways. 34Also in thy skirts is found the blood of the souls of the poor innocents: I have not found it by secret search, but upon all these. 35Yet thou sayest, Because I am innocent, surely his anger shall turn from me. Behold, I will plead with thee, because thou sayest, I have not sinned. 36Why gaddest thou about so much to change thy way? thou also shalt be ashamed of Egypt, as thou wast ashamed of Assyria. 37Yea, thou shalt go forth from him, and thine hands upon thine head: for the Lord hath rejected thy confidences, and thou shalt not prosper in them.

God here confirms what is said in the last verse; for he condemned the Israelites for having perversely run here and there after their superstitions, when yet they had been redeemed for this end, — that they might be ruled by the hand of God. Hence he says, I planted thee as a choice vine; that is, “When I redeemed thee from thine enemies, I did not give thee permission thus to prostitute thyself without any restraint, without any shame; for I planted thee as a choice vine.”

The metaphor is well known, and often occurs; for God frequently compares his Church to a vine. He calls it generally his heritage, or his land; but as vines excel other possessions, (for they are usually preferred to pasture lands, or to cultivated fields,) as then vines are the most valuable property, God hereby testifies how highly he values his Church; for he calls it his vine rather than his pasture or his field, when he speaks of it. So he does in this place, “I did not deliver thee from Egypt, that I might afterwards throw aside every care of thee; but my purpose was, that thou shouldest strike roots, and become an heritage precious to me, as an exquisite and a noble vine. I, therefore, planted thee a generous vine, שורק shurek, that thou mightest bring me forth fruit.”

Then he says, a wholly right seed; 5050     The word means not only the seed of vegetables, but whatever forms that from which anything grows. It is applied as a verb to the planting of shoots or cuttings in Isaiah 17:10. The proper rendering here would be, —
   The whole of it a genuine plant (or shoot).

   What is rendered “choice vine,” שורק is the yellow vine; the best was so called, because it produced wine of that color. — Ed
that is, “I planted thee for this end, — that thou mightest produce fruit acceptable and pleasant to me.” God regards here his own grace, and not the character of the people; for that people, as it is well known, was never a true seed: but God here shews the purpose for which he had redeemed the people, which was, that they might be like a choice vine. How then? he adds. God speaks here of their corruptions with wonder, for the indignity was such as was enough to astonish all men: how then art thou turned to me into degenerations! So I render סורום surim, though the word is not in common use in Latin: but it is enough for me if we understand the meaning of the Prophet. The word is derived from סור sur, to turn aside, or back. We ought to say then correctly, “into turnings aside.” But as this would be obscure, when the vine is spoken of, I have not hesitated to fix on another word: How then art thou turned to me into the degenerations of a strange vine! Some give this version, “into useless branches of grapes:” but I know not whence they have taken the words. I wish to keep to what is more genuine, — that the vine, which ought to have been fruitful, had so degenerated that it produced nothing, as we shall find in another place, but wild grapes. 5151     Much difference exists as to the literal meaning of this clause, though the general meaning is quite evident. None of the early versions are the same. The word סורי is rendered, “into bitterness — εἰς πικρίαν,” by the Septuagint; “thou hast rebelled,” by the Syriac; “into what is corrupt — in pravurn,” by the Vulgate; “thou hast declined from my fear,” by the Targum Blarney takes it as a verb in the imperative mood, and renders the two lines thus, —
   Yet how I find thee changed! Depart, O vine of spurious growth.

   But there is a harshness and incongruity in this version that renders it inadmissible. Besides “vine of spurious growth” is not the meaning of the words used, for it is “a foreign vine,” that is, a heathen vine; which contains an allusion to the idolatry which had been imported from heathen nations.

   It is most probable that סורי, or in full, סורים, means degenerate shoots or branches, as Parkhurst thinks. To turn aside, to decline, to degenerate, seems to be the most common meaning of the verb. There would in this case be a congruity in the whole verse, —

   And I myself had planted thee a choice vine, The whole of it a genuine plant; How then art thou become to me The degenerate shoots of a foreign vine?

   The plant was of the best kind, but the shoots or the branches had become degenerated, such as a foreign or heathen vine produced. — Ed.
And he calls them the turnings aside of a strange vine, which ceases to be the choice vine, שורק, shurek, and is turned to a wild vine, which produces nothing but sour or bitter fruit: and in the last place, as it brought forth nothing useful, God justly calls it a strange vine. It follows —

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