6. And she conceived again-- and bare a daughter. And God said unto him-- Call her name Loruhamah: for I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel; but I will utterly take them away.
6. Et concepit adhuc (concepit rursum) et peperit filiam: et dixit ei-- Voca nomen ejus Loruchama-- (hoc est-- non adepta misericordiam-- vel-- non dilecta: sic enim Graeci verterunt-- et Paulus sequutus est illam receptam versionem capite-- ad Rom.) quia non adjiciam amplius ut misericordia persequar (vel-- ut diligam) domum Israel-- quia tollendo tollam eos.
The Prophet shows in this verse that things were become worse and worse in the kingdom of Israel, that they sinned, keeping within no limits, that they rushed headlong into the extremes of impiety. He has already told us, by calling them Jezreelites, that they were from the beginning rejected and degenerate; as though he said, "Your origin has nothing commendable in it; ye think yourselves to be very eminent, because ye derive your descent from holy Jacob; but ye are spurious children, born of a harlot: a brothel is not the house of Abraham, nor is the house of Abraham a brothel. Ye are then the offspring of debauchery." But he now goes farther and says, that as time advanced, they had ever been falling into a worse state; for this word, Loruchamah, is a more disgraceful name than Jezreel: and the Lord also denounces here his vengeance more openly, when he says,
I will no more add to pursue with mercy the house of Israel. Mxr, rechem, means to pity, and also to love: but this second meaning is derived from the other; for Mxr, rechem, is not simply to love, but to show gratuitous favour. By calling the daughter, then, Lo-ruchamah, God intimates that his favour was now taken away from the people. We know, indeed, that the people had been freely chosen; for if the cause of adoption be inquired for, it must be said to have been the mere mercy and goodness of God. Now then God, in repudiating the people, says, "Ye are like a daughter whom her father casts away and disowns, because he deems her unworthy of his favour." We now, then, comprehend the design of the Prophet; for, after having shown the Israelites to have been from the beginning spurious, and not the true children of Abraham, he now adds, that, in course of time, they had become so corrupt, that God would now utterly disown them, and would no longer deem them as his house. He, therefore, charges them with something more grievous than before, by saying, 'Call this daughter Lo-ruchamah;' for she was born after Jezreel. Here he describes by degrees the state of the people, that it continually degenerated. Though they were at the beginning depraved; but they were now, after the lapse of some time, utterly unworthy of God's favour.
I will no more add, he says, to pursue with favour the house of Israel. God here shows what constant forbearance he had exercised towards this people. I will no more add, he says; as though the Lord had said, "I do not now sally forth at the first heat of wrath to take vengeance on you, as passionate men are wont to do, who seize the sword as soon as any affront is given; I become not so suddenly hot with anger. I have, therefore, hitherto borne with you; but now your obstinacy is intolerable; I will not then bear with you any more." The Prophet, as we see, evidently intimates that the Israelites had very long abused the Lord's mercy, while he spared them, so that now the ripe time of vengeance had come; for the Lord had, for many years showed his favour to them, though they never ceased at any time to seek destruction to themselves. Hence we learn, as stated yesterday, that the Prophet's vehemence was not hasty: for God had before given warnings, more than sufficient, to the Israelites; he had also forgiven them many sins; he had borne with them until the state of things proved that they were altogether incurable. Since, then, the forbearance of God produced no effect on them, it was necessary to come to this last remedy, that the Lord should, as it were, with a drawn sword, appear as a judge to take vengeance.
He afterwards says, Mhl asa awsn yk, ki neshua asha lem. This sentence is variously explained. Some think that the verb is derived from the root hsn, nesche, with a final h, he; which means "to forget", as though it was said "By forgetting, I will forget them;" and the sense is not unsuitable. The Chaldean paraphraser wholly departs from this meaning, for he renders the clause, "By sparing, I will spare them." There is no reason for this; for God, as the context clearly shows, does not yet promise pardon to them; this meaning, then, cannot stand. They come nearer to the design of the Prophet who thus translate, "I will bring to them," that is, the enemy; for asn, nesha, signifies to take, and also to bring into the middle. But I prefer embracing their opinion who consider that Mhl, lem, is placed here for Mtwa, autem; for the servile letter l, lamed, has often the same meaning with the particle ta, at, which is prefixed to an objective case. Then the rendering is, literally given, "For, by taking away, I will take them away:" and the Hebrews often use this mode of speaking, and the sense is plainer, "By taking away, I will take them away." Some render the passage, "I will burn them;" but this explanation is rather harsh. I am satisfied with the meaning, to take, but I understand it in the sense of taking away. Then it is, "By taking away, I will take them away." 1
And this is what the following verse confirms; for when the Prophet speaks of the house of Judah, the Lord says, "With mercy will I follow the house of Judah, and will save them." The Prophet sets "to save" and "to take away" in opposition the one to the other.
We may then learn by the context what he meant by these words, and that is, that Israel had hitherto stood through the Lord's mercy; as though he said, "How has it happened that ye continue as yet alive? Do you think yourselves to be safe through your own valour? Nay, my mercy has hitherto preserved you. Now, then, when I shall withdraw my favour from you, your ruin will be inevitable; you must necessarily perish, and be brought to nothing: for as I have hitherto preserved you, so I will utterly tear you away and destroy you." A profitable lesson may be farther gathered from this passage, and that is, that hypocrites deceive themselves when they boast of the present favour of God, and, at the same time, exult without any fear against him; for as God for a time spares and tolerates them, so he can justly destroy and reduce them to nothing. But the next verse must be also joined.
"I will no more show mercy to the house of Israel,
That by pardoning I should pardon them."
The main drift of the passage is still the same with what is assigned to it by Calvin. The version of Bishop Horsley favors what I have offered: he renders the last line thus: --
"Insomuch as to be perpetually forgiving them."