21. Yet I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me?
21. Et ego plantavi to vineam electam (vineam nobilem, vel, exquisitam, hoc enim significat nomen, svrq,) totam fidele semen (hoc est, semen probum); et quomodo conversa es mihi degenerationes vitis alienae?
God here confirms what is said in the last verse; for he condemned the Israelites for having perversely run here and there after their superstitions, when yet they had been redeemed for this end, -- that they might be ruled by the hand of God. Hence he says, I planted thee as a choice vine; that is, |When I redeemed thee from thine enemies, I did not give thee permission thus to prostitute thyself without any restraint, without any shame; for I planted thee as a choice vine.|
The metaphor is well known, and often occurs; for God frequently compares his Church to a vine. He calls it generally his heritage, or his land; but as vines excel other possessions, (for they are usually preferred to pasture lands, or to cultivated fields,) as then vines are the most valuable property, God hereby testifies how highly he values his Church; for he calls it his vine rather than his pasture or his field, when he speaks of it. So he does in this place, |I did not deliver thee from Egypt, that I might afterwards throw aside every care of thee; but my purpose was, that thou shouldest strike roots, and become an heritage precious to me, as an exquisite and a noble vine. I, therefore, planted thee a generous vine, svrq shurek, that thou mightest bring me forth fruit.|
Then he says, a wholly right seed; that is, |I planted thee for this end, -- that thou mightest produce fruit acceptable and pleasant to me.| God regards here his own grace, and not the character of the people; for that people, as it is well known, was never a true seed: but God here shews the purpose for which he had redeemed the people, which was, that they might be like a choice vine. How then? he adds. God speaks here of their corruptions with wonder, for the indignity was such as was enough to astonish all men: how then art thou turned to me into degenerations! So I render svrvm surim, though the word is not in common use in Latin: but it is enough for me if we understand the meaning of the Prophet. The word is derived from svr sur, to turn aside, or back. We ought to say then correctly, |into turnings aside.| But as this would be obscure, when the vine is spoken of, I have not hesitated to fix on another word: How then art thou turned to me into the degenerations of a strange vine! Some give this version, |into useless branches of grapes:| but I know not whence they have taken the words. I wish to keep to what is more genuine, -- that the vine, which ought to have been fruitful, had so degenerated that it produced nothing, as we shall find in another place, but wild grapes. And he calls them the turnings aside of a strange vine, which ceases to be the choice vine, svrq, shurek, and is turned to a wild vine, which produces nothing but sour or bitter fruit: and in the last place, as it brought forth nothing useful, God justly calls it a strange vine. It follows --