20. ls Ephraim my dear son? is he a pleasant child? For since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still; therefore my bowels are troubled for him: I will surely have mercy upon him, saith the Lord.
20. An filius pretiosus mihi Ephraim? an filius oblectationum? tamen ex quo tempore loquutus sum de eo, recordando recordabor filius (
God here complains of the Israelites, because he had produced so little an effect on them by his great goodness: for the adoption with which he had favored them was an immense benefit;but by their ingratitude they had in a manner annihilated that favor. God then here asks, what sort of people the Israelites had been. But a question makes a thing stronger; for he who asks a question shews that he speaks not of a thing uncertain, but the knowledge of which is so conspicuous that it cannot be denied. It is then the same as though he had said, that Ephraim was unworthy of any honor or esteem, and that he was no object of delight. We now then perceive what God means in the beginning of the verse, even that the people were unworthy of any mercy, because they had abolished, as far as they could, the favor of adoption: for by the word son, he refers to that special favor, the covenant which he had made with the seed of Abraham.
In the first place, he calls him a son,
"My vine have I planted thee;
why then art thou turned to me into bitterness?"
So also now he says, that the Israelites were indeed his sons, but that they were evil-disposed sons, disobedient sons, sons who only vexed their father, who wounded his feelings, who filled him with sorrow.
He then adds,
This passage, on account of its brevity, is obscure, and therefore ambiguous; but the common opinion is this, -- that though Ephraim was not a child of delight, yet God would be merciful towards him; and thus they take
"In wrath wilt thou remember mercy." (Habakkuk 3:2)
But this ought to be rather understood of the covenant, as though God had said, "From the time I spake with him, I will remember him;" that is, that he might shew the reason why he dealt so mercifully with the people. For as their wickedness and corruption were so great, a doubt might arise, "Can God still patiently endure them?" Here then our attention is called back to the fountain of gratuitous mercy, even that God would forgive his people, because he had once chosen them.
But still when I narrowly weigh everything, I think the meaning of the Prophet to be different. I therefore separate the two clauses, "From the time I spake with him," and, "Remembering I will yet remember him;" for the sentence is harsh, when we say, "From the time I spake with him," and then add, "I will yet remember him." But the exposition, the most suitable in my opinion, is this, "From the time I spake with him," (for
And he enhances the benefit of this reconciliation, and says,
1 This verse has been variously explained. The two questions are taken by Calvin and by others as strong negatives: but this is not always the ease; both
For since my words are in him,
Remembering I will still remember him.
This is according to the Sept., and the general drift of the Targ. The Syr. gives another meaning, --
For at the time when I speak against him,
Remembering I still remember him.
There are no other versions which come so near to the original. -- Ed.
2 The word for "sounded," means to tumultuate, to be agitated, to be greatly moved or disturbed. It is rendered by the Vulg., "are troubled -- conturbata;" by the Syr. and Targ., "are moved." It may be rendered "trouble" here. See Isaiah 16:1 l, where the action of the bowels is compared to the harp, not surely to its sound, but to the vibration of its cords. See also Isaiah 63:15, and Cant. v. 4. -- Ed.
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