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Relentless Judgment on Israel


When Ephraim spoke, there was trembling;

he was exalted in Israel;

but he incurred guilt through Baal and died.


And now they keep on sinning

and make a cast image for themselves,

idols of silver made according to their understanding,

all of them the work of artisans.

“Sacrifice to these,” they say.

People are kissing calves!


Therefore they shall be like the morning mist

or like the dew that goes away early,

like chaff that swirls from the threshing floor

or like smoke from a window.



Yet I have been the L ord your God

ever since the land of Egypt;

you know no God but me,

and besides me there is no savior.


It was I who fed you in the wilderness,

in the land of drought.


When I fed them, they were satisfied;

they were satisfied, and their heart was proud;

therefore they forgot me.


So I will become like a lion to them,

like a leopard I will lurk beside the way.


I will fall upon them like a bear robbed of her cubs,

and will tear open the covering of their heart;

there I will devour them like a lion,

as a wild animal would mangle them.



I will destroy you, O Israel;

who can help you?


Where now is your king, that he may save you?

Where in all your cities are your rulers,

of whom you said,

“Give me a king and rulers”?


I gave you a king in my anger,

and I took him away in my wrath.



Ephraim’s iniquity is bound up;

his sin is kept in store.


The pangs of childbirth come for him,

but he is an unwise son;

for at the proper time he does not present himself

at the mouth of the womb.



Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol?

Shall I redeem them from Death?

O Death, where are your plagues?

O Sheol, where is your destruction?

Compassion is hidden from my eyes.



Although he may flourish among rushes,

the east wind shall come, a blast from the L ord,

rising from the wilderness;

and his fountain shall dry up,

his spring shall be parched.

It shall strip his treasury

of every precious thing.


Samaria shall bear her guilt,

because she has rebelled against her God;

they shall fall by the sword,

their little ones shall be dashed in pieces,

and their pregnant women ripped open.


He afterwards adds Thee I knew in the desert, in the land of droughts God here confirms the truth that the Israelites had acted very absurdly in having turned their minds to other gods, for he himself had known them. The knowledge here mentioned is twofold, that of men, and that of God. God declares that he had a care for the people when they were in the desert; and he designates his paternal solicitude by the term, knowledge: I knew thee; that is, “I then chose thee a people for myself, and familiarly manifested myself to thee, as if thou were a near friend to me. But then it was necessary that I should have been also known by thee.” This is the knowledge of men. Now when men are known by God, why do they not apply all their faculties, so that they may remain fixed on him? For when they divert them to other objects, they extinguish, as much as they can, this benefit of God. So also Paul speaks to the Galatians,

‘After ye have known God, or rather after ye are known by him,’ (Galatians 4:9.)

In the first clause, he shows that they had done very wickedly in retaking themselves to various devices after the light of the gospel had been offered to them: but he increases their sin by the next clause, when he says, ‘Rather after ye are known by him;’ as though he said, “God has anticipated you by his gratuitous goodness. Since, then, God has thus first known you, and first favoured you with his grace, how great and how shameful is now your ingratitude in not seeking to know him in return?” We now then see why the Prophet added that the Israelites had been known by God in the desert, in the land of droughts

And there is an express mention made of the desert: for it was then necessary for the people to be sustained miraculously by the Lord; for except God had rained manna from heaven, and had also given water for drink, the people must have miserably perished. Since, then God had thus supported the people contrary to the usual course of nature, so that without his paternal care there could have been no hope of life, the Prophet now rightly adds, In the desert, in the land of droughts; that is, in that dry solitude, where not a grain of corn grew, so that the people could not live except God had, as it were, with his own hand, given them meat, and put it in their mouth. We now see that the extreme impiety of the people is here manifestly proved; for having been taught in God’s law, and been encouraged by so many benefits, they yet went astray after profane superstitions. And the Prophet, at the same time, adds —

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