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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.”


Jeremiah proceeds with his severe reproof, — that the Jews were wholly given to wickedness, for they had altogether devoted themselves to superstitions, and also to unlawful alliances, and had in both instances despised God. He now shews how great and how strong was their obstinacy. Restrained, he says, have been the rains, there has not been the latter rain; yet the front of a harlot has been thine; as though he had said, that the Jews had not in any degree been subdued by punishment. It was a most atrocious wickedness to give no ear to pious warnings, when the prophets continually cried to them, and endeavored to restore them to the right way. That they thus hardened themselves against the addresses of the prophets, was a proof of the greatest impiety. But God tried also to restore them to himself by punishments, and those very heavy. He punished them with sterility; and the drought of which the Prophet speaks was no doubt so uncommon, that the Jews might perceive, had they a particle of a sound mind, that God was at war with them. It often happens that not a drop of rain fails from heaven; for we see that many summers are hot and dry: there is no doubt but that God then reminds us of our sins and exhorts us to repent. But as familiarity makes us to overlook God’s judgments, he sometimes punishes us in a new and unusual manner. I doubt not then but that the Prophet, by saying, Restrained have been rains from them, refers to some extraordinary instance of God’s vengeance, whereby the Jews might have perceived, except they were extremely besotted, that God was opposed to and displeased with them. 7575     It is usual to render the ו before “restrained,” “therefore;” but the sentence will read better, connected as it is with the latter part of the previous verse, by giving it its most common meaning, —
   And restrained have been the showers, And the latter rain has not been; Yet the front of a wanton woman hast thou had, Thou hast refused to be made ashamed.

   This last verb is in the Infinitive Huphal. It means in Hiphil, to make ashamed; and then in Huphal, to be made ashamed. The Targum expresses thus the general sense of the last line, “Thou hast been unwilling to humble thyself.” The rest of the verse is rendered almost literally. The Septuagint and the Arabic wander very far from the Hebrew. The Vulgate is a literal version, and the Syriac is nearly so, only it connects “wickedness, “in the last verse, with restrained, thus, —

   And for thy wickedness have been restrained the dews.

   And it is not improbable but that this was the original reading. — Ed.

The import of what is said is, — that the Jews had not only run here and there through a mad impulse, according to their own wills and inclinations, but that they had also been checked by evident judgments, since God had from heaven openly shewed himself to be the vindicator of his own glory, and as there had been so great a drought, that it appeared clear that the curse of the law had been fulfilled towards them,

“I will make heaven iron to you, and the earth brass.”
(Leviticus 26:19)

As to the latter rain, we have said elsewhere that by this word is meant the rain which falls just before harvest; and it is called “latter” with reference to the harvest. For, as there is great heat in those eastern parts, they want rain before the harvest commences; the extreme heat of the sun would otherwise scorch up the grain. Hence, they especially look for the latter rain, which comes shortly before harvest — time. The other rain, in September and October, is called, on account of the sowing — time, a seasonable rain; for it soaks and moistens the seed, that it may strike roots and gather rigor and strength. The object is to shew, that God had from heaven given to the Jews manifest tokens of his displeasure, and yet without any benefit; for they had the front of a harlot, and felt no shame; that is, they were moved by no judgments of God, and could not bear to be corrected.

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