7. They have dealt treacherously against the Lord: for they have begotten strange children: now shall a month devour them with their portions.
7. Contra Jehovam (vel, cum Jehova) perfide egerunt: quia filios alienos genuerunt: nunc vorabit eos mensis cum portionibus suis.
He says that they had acted perfidiously with God, for they had violated his covenant. We must bear in mind what I have said before of the mutual faith which God stipulates with us, when he binds himself to us. God then covenants with us on this condition, that he will be our Father and Husband; but he requires from us such obedience as a son ought to render to his father; he requires from us that chastity which a wife owes to her husband. The Prophet now charges the people with unfaithfulness, because they had despised the true God, and prostituted themselves to idols.
And he also aggravates this crime by saying, that they had begotten strange children: for he intimates, that their condition had become so vitiated, that there remained no better hope as to their posterity. Some explain the words, that they had begotten strange children, in this way, -- that they had taken wives from heathen nations, contrary to the law. But this sense is very frigid. Others understand, that they had begotten spurious children, because they brought up their children badly, having, from their infancy, attached them to depraved superstitions. This is indeed true, but the prophet, as I have already said, looked further; he meant that the Israelites had not only become alienated from God, but had also taken away every hope as to the future. It may indeed be, and it sometimes happens, that men for a time abandon themselves to many vices, and afterwards return to the right way; but when corruption has so prevailed that the children are infected with the same vices, and impiety itself takes full possession of them, then the state of things is past recovery. We now then see that the Prophet means, that the Israelites were not only covenant-breakers with respect to God, but that they had also led their children into the same perfidy, so that there was no hope of repentance.
He therefore subjoins the punishment, Devour them shall a month together with their portions Some restrict the word, month, to the times of the new moon, or to the new moons; and these days, we know, were festivals among the Jews: but this seems too far-fetched and strained. The Prophet therefore, I doubt not, takes here a month for a short time; and so the Hebrew scholars explain it, and yet they do not sufficiently unfold this form of speaking. Now, the Prophets are wont to use various figures, when they intend to mark out a short time. Isaiah says, Yet for three years, as the time of a hireling:' for hirelings were wont to hire themselves for three years; hence he says, This is the time fixed by the Lord as the appointed day. Contracts, also, we know, were then monthly, as they are at this day yearly, both with reference to the interest of money and other exchanges. Since, then, they usually made agreements for single months, the Prophet here, I have no doubt, takes a month metaphorically for a certain and fixed time. I do not therefore agree with the Hebrew scholars, who say that only a short time is expressed by the Prophet, but he expresses not only a short, but also a fixed time; and he did this that the Israelites might not vainly look for any deferring or respite, for hypocrites ever procrastinate and extend time by vain delusions. The Prophet therefore says here, A month shall devour them, which means, |Vengeance is now suspended over their heads, and this they shall not escape.|
And he says, |with their portions|. He intimates here, no doubt, that though they then overflowed with abundance, yet nothing would be a help to them to keep them from being destroyed, for the hand of God was against them. We indeed know, that as long as men are well furnished with provisions and protection, they are not very solicitous about their state, but heedlessly despise whatever dangers there may be in the world: therefore the Prophet says, that though they were opulent and well supplied, though they possessed every kind of defense, yet nothing would avail for their safety, but a month should devour them, together with all their wealth. It follows --