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I was to them as they that take off the yoke on their jaws, and I laid meat unto them ; like those who take off the yoke of oxen and give them food ; that is, I took the most tender care of them, and led them on 10 Canaan.
He shall not return into the land of Egypt, but the Assyrian shall be his king, because they refused to return ; though he lay schemes for going to Egypi, he shall not be able to do it, but shall be carried captive into Assyria ; that is, into a worse
slavery than that of their ancestors in Egypt, farther from 6 home, and from whence he is not so likely to return. And the
sword shall abide on his cities, and shall consume bis branches,
or bars, their strong fortifications, and devour (them,] because 7 of their own counsels. And my people are bent to backslid
ing from me : though they, the prophets, called them to the most High, none at all would exalt [him :) few or none hon
oured him by their obedience.* 8 How shall I give thee up, Ephraim ? (how) shall I deliver
thee, Israel ? how shall I make thee as Admah ? show) shall I set thee as Zeboim ? so that thou shouldst be no more a people ? mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are 9 kindled together. I will not execute the fierceness of mine
anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim, but I will remem. ber my covenant : for I sam] God, and not man ; the Holy One in the midst of thee : and I will not enter into the city ; that is, I will not return like an inveterate enemy, who, having
conquered a city, comes a second time utterly to destroy those 10 thai are left in it. They shall walk after the LORD; referring
to their final recovery: he shall roar like a lion ; call with a mighly voice : when he shall roar, then the children shall tremble from the west ; they shall fly with a hasty fluttering motion, and God will bring them to humiliation and repentance ; and They shall tremble, or hasten, as a bird out of Egypt, and as a dove out of the land of Assyria : and I will place them in their houses, saith the LORD : they shall be restored from Those countries in the latter day, and from all places where they have been oppressed, and be fixed in their own land. .
Ephraim compasseth me about with lies, and the house of Israel with deceit ; they still persist in their idolatry and wick. edness, notwithstanding their fair promiscs: but Judah yet ruleth with God, and is faithful with the saints ; probably referring to Hezekiah's reformation : that is, Judah continues its allegiance to the house of David, and the true worship of God, therefore they shall be delivered from their enemies, and their kingdom shall be prolonged; or (as Bp. Newcome translates it) Hereafter they shall, come down a people of God, even a faithful people of saints.'
* Perhaps this may refer to Hezekiah's inviting them to come and keep the passover at Jerusalem, which the king and governors of Israel opposed.
1. INTE here see the method by which God generally leads
VV men to obedience, and their perverseness in refusing it. He draws them with the cords of a man, and the bands of love, v. 4. in a rational, gentle manner, and by every thing kind and encouraging ; that is, by means suited to the divine benignity and the nature of man. Thus he deals with us, and it is ungrateful and base to resist his gracious influences ; and thus we should deal with one another.
2. God's past kindness aggravates our ingratitude. He re. minds Israel of his kindness to them, when they were first formed into a people ; of their deliverance from Egypt, their being led through the wilderness, and brought to Canaan : notwithstanding which, they despised his prophets and were bent to backsliding and idolatry. Let us think of God's kindness to us in our youth ; of his preserving, supplying, and healing us ; especially of our religious advantages : that it may show our ingratitude in forgetting and forsaking him to be 'exceeding sinful, and lead us to repent, and walk humbly with God.
3. Let us reflect on the astonishing patience and mercy of God to a sinful people. The 8th verse is a most surprising passage. How shall I give thee up, Ephraim ? how shall I deliver thee, Israel ? how shall I make thee as Admah ? how shall I set thee as Zeboim ? mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together. It is enough, one would think, to melt the most obdurate heart. Justice seemed to require that they should be given up ; but mercy pleaded for them, though it scarcely knew how to do it. God here represents bimself as a tender father, struggling with himself whether he should disinherit and give up a rebellious son, or not. This is doubtless only described after the manner of men, to exalt the divine mercy, and encourage sinners to repentance. Let us reflect on this most amazing mercy of the Most High, and take encouragement from it ; for, Who is a God like unto ours, pardoning iniquity, transgression, and sin ?
4. It is a great honour to continue steady and faithful, when others deal deceitfully. It is our duty to be faithful with the saints, to keep close to God's holy rules and ways, though they are neglected by others ; to walk with saints, though they are few and despised. Many, like Ephraim, attend the worship of God deceitfully ; hear the word, and commend it, but will not do it; they promise fair, but never perform. This is lying to God; and aư liars, (especially such as these) shall have their portion in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone. But the faithful shall have favour with God, and much comfort ; and their works shall be found 10 praise, and honour, and glory, at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Contains a reproof of Ephraim, Judah, and Jacob; and an exhora
tation to repentance. P HRAIM feedeth on wind, he is disappointed, and fólU loweth after the east wind ; a scorching, blasting wind; he lakes pains for what is not only unprofitable, but mischievous : he daily increaseth lies and desolation ; and they do make a covenant with the Assyrians, and oil, or perfumed garments,
is carried into Egypt, to engage the Egyptians on their side when 2 they were meditating a rebellion against the Assyrians. The
Lord hath also a controversy with Judah, and will punish Ja. cob according to his ways ; according to his doings will he
recompense him ; that is, his posterity. 3 He took his brother by the heel in the womb, an emblem of
his supplanting him and gaining the birthright, and by his strength he had power with God, when wrestling with the angel, (Gen, xxv. 26.) Yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed : he wept, and made supplication unto him ; in a kind of transport, he laid hold upon him, and wept, and made supplication, till he obtained the blessing : he found him [in] Bethel, where he had an extraordinary dream, and there he spake with us; or, with him ; that is, he promised to be a God to him and his seed, and to give them that land ; and it is an
aggravation of their wickedness that there they set up an idol; 5 Even the Lord God of hosts; the Lord [is] his memorial :
which seems to be added, that God's condescension might not
countenance their impietiek. Remember that he is the eternal 6 Jehovah, the Lord of hosts, and opposed to all idols. There
fore turn thou to thy God : keep mercy and judgment, and wait on thy God continually : then you may expect his favour, and that he will fulfil the promises made to your fathers. But instead of this,
(He is] a merchant, the balances of deceit [are] in his band: he loveth to oppress; like a deceitful merchant, you
make a trade of cheating ; and instead of mercy, you delight in 8 nothing but oppression. And Ephraim said, Yet I am become
rich, I have found me out substance : [in] all my labours they shall find none iniquity in me that were] sin ; nothing very shameful and criminal ; there may be some little trading frauds, but no:hing to ruin my character and bring judgments upon me. And I (that am) the Lord thy God from the land of Egypt, will yet make thee to dwell in tabernacles, as in the days of the solemn fcasts ; as securely and cheerfully in all thy habita
tions, as ever thou didst in the days of the solemn feast of taber10 nacles. I have also spoken by the prophets, and I have mul.
tiplied visions, and used similitudes, by the ministry of the 11 prophets, yet you have used them ill. [Is there) iniquity [in]
Gilead, that fruitful and pleasant country ? surely they are vanity; your calves and all your worship there, will deceive you in all your expectations from them : they sacrifice bullocks in
Gilgal ; yea, their altars [are) as many as heaps of stones in 12 the furrows of the field. And Jacob fled into the country of
Syria, and Israel served for a wife, and for a wife he kept (sheep ;] considering my kindness to your ancestors, and their
low beginnings, you should not be proud, but submissive and 13 obedient. And by a prophet the LORD brought Israel out of
Egypt, and by a prophet was he preserved ; that is, by Moses and Joshua, when otherwise they would have been crushed and ruined. Yet notwithstanding this, Ephraim provoked Chim) to anger most bitterly : therefore shall he leave his blood upon him, the blood which he has shed shall return on his own head, and his reproach shall his LORD return unto him; as he hath brought a reproach upon religion, by his scandalous behaviour, it shall end in his own reproach among the heathen.
REFLECTIONS. W e may hence learn, that those who increase lies, in
y crease desolation to themselves. This wicked people. prevaricated with God, and therefore, no wonder that they should be false to men. After their treaty with the king of Assyria, they confederated with Egypt against him. It is very displeasing to God to be false in our bargains and covenants with men ; much more so to deal treacherously with him : and it will end in shame, disappointment, and misery. To be sincere with God, and honest with men, is the best policy, and absolutely necessary if we would escape everlasting desolation
2. The kindness of God to our ancestors, is an encouragement to repentance and obedience. Israel is reminded of God's kind. nesses to Jacob, that they might first turn to God, then live suitably, keep mercy and judgment, and wait upon God continually for strength to do it. The success of Jacob's prayer is an encour. agement to us; He never said to the seed of Jacob, Seek ye my face in vain. Those who are raised to wealth and honour from low beginnings, are much indebted to the goodness of God, and ought to be humble, devout, and charitable.
3. It is common for men to think those methods innocent by which they get gain. The character of Ephraim is, it may be feared, applicable to many merchants and tradesmen, I had almost said, to most. They use artful tricks to get money; oppress their servants and workmen ; and because they prosper, they think God is not displeased with their conduct. "We use no frauds but what are customary, and almost inevitable in the way of trade ; and therefore God will not lay injustice to our charge.'
Thus they stupify their consciences, and reason against the plainest commands and threatenings of God's word. But he has an eye upon our weights and measures ; and if we oppress others, and defraud them, especially under colour of justice; though we should become rich and find out substance, we shall lose our souls ; for the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
4. The reproaches which sinners have brought upon religion, will turn upon themselves : they dishonour God and his ways, and therefore shame will fall upon them; they will see the folly and wickedness of their conduct, and God will bring everlasting contempt upon them : for thus he hath declared, them that honour me I will honour, but they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.
A prophecy of the glory of Ephraim being destroyed by reason of
idolatry; of God's anger for their unkindness ; a promise of his mercy; and a judgment for rebellion. Ephraim, is here supposed to refer to the tribe of Ephraim, as distinguished from Israel; it was the nečı tribe to Judah for power before its revolt.
1 W THEN Ephraim spake trembling, he exalted himself
VV in Israel ; when he bchaved with modesty and diffidence, attended to my words, and was contrite, then he was great ; but when he offended in Baal, he died; when he became idolatrous,
though yet alive, he was like a criminal under sentence of death. 2 And now they sin more and more, and have made them mot
ten images of their silver, [and] idols according to their own understanding, all of it the work of the craftsmen : they say of them, or to them, Let the men that sacrifice kiss the calves ;* whosoever comes to worship God, let him adore and shew rever. ence to the calves. Therefore they shall be as the morning cloud, and as the early dew that passeth away, as the chaff [that] is driven with the whirlwind out of the floor, and as the smoke out of the chimney ; as their goodness had been, so in
like manner they also shall quickly disappear. 4. Yet I (am] the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt, and
thou shalt know Áo God but me : for (there is) no saviour 5 besides me. I did know thee in the wilderness, in the land
of great drought ; I took thee under my care, and showed the 6 a gracious regard. According to their pasture, so were they
filled ; they were plentifully filled in Canaan ; they were filled, and their heart was exalted ; therefore have they forgotten
was customary for idolaters to kiss their idols. Some ancient writers mention a statue, whose hand was almost worn away by the kisses of its worshippers: from bence comes dic word adoration.