10. I have seen an horrible thing in the house of Israel: there is the whoredom of Ephraim, Israel is defiled.
10. In domo Israel vidi flagitium, illic scortatio Ephraim, pollutus est Israel.
11. Also, O Judah, he hath set an harvest for thee, when I returned the captivity of my people.
11. Etiam Jehudah posuit messem (vel, plantam) tibi, dum ego reduco captivitatem populi mei (vel, in reducendo me, ad verbum, captivitatem populi mei.)
Here God declares that he is the fit judge to take cognizance of the vices of Israel; and this he does, that he might cut off the handle of vain excuses, which hypocrites often adduce when they are reproved. Who indeed can at this day persuade the Papists that all their worship is a filthy abomination, a mere profanation? We see how furiously they rise up as soon as any one by a whisper dares to touch their superstitions. Whence this? Because they wish their own will to stand for reason. Why? Good intention, they say, is the judge; as if this good intention were, forsooth, the queen, who ought to rule in heaven and earth, and God were now excluded from all his rights. This fury and this madness, even at this day, possess the Papists; and no wonder, for Satan dementates men, when he leads them to corrupt and degenerated forms of worship, and all hypocrites have been thus inebriated from the beginning. This then is the reason why the Prophet now says in the person of God, I have seen, or do see, infamy in the kingdom of Israel. God does here by one word lay prostrate whatever men may set up for themselves, and shows that there remains no more defense for what he declares he does not approve, however much men may value and applaud it. |What! you think this to be my worship; and in your imagination, this is most holy religion, this is the way of salvation, this is extraordinary sanctity; but I on the contrary declare, that it is profanation, that it is turpitude, that it is infamy. Go now,| he says, |pass elsewhere your fopperies, with me they are of no value.|
We now understand the meaning of the Prophet, when he says, In the house of Israel have I seen infamy: and by the house of Israel the Prophet means the whole kingdom of the ten tribes. How so? |Because there is the fornication of Ephraim|; that is, there idolatry reigns, which Jeroboam introduced, and which the other kings of Israel followed.
Thus we see that the Prophet spared neither the king, nor his counselors, nor the princes of the kingdom; and he did not spare before the priests. And this magnanimity becomes all God's servants, so that they cast down every height that rises up against the word of the Lord; as it was said to Ezekiel,
Chide mountains and reprove hills,' (Ezekiel 6:2, 36:1.)
An example of this the Prophet sets before us, when he compares priests to robbers, and then compares royal temples to a brothel. Jeroboam had built a temple in which he thought that God would be in the best manner worshipped; but this, says the Prophet, is a brothel, this is filthy fornication.
Then he adds, Judah also has set a plantation for thee That I may finish the chapter, I will briefly notice this verse. Interpreters render it thus, |Also Judah, thou hast set for thyself an harvest:| but the verb, as it is evident, is in the third person; it cannot then be rendered otherwise than, Also Judah has set.' They who render it in the second person, |Thou hast set for thyself an harvest,| elicit this sense, |Thou also Judah, whom I have chosen for myself, hast set for thyself an harvest, that is, thou hast prepared a miserable harvest for thyself; for thou sowest ungodliness, whose fruit thou shalt hereafter gather:| but this is strained. Now since the word qtsyr, kotsir, signifies in Hebrew not only |harvest,| but also |a plant,| it may properly be so taken in this place, Also Judah, while I was returning the captivity of my people, did set for himself a plant; that is, he propagated his own impieties. God indeed addresses here the Israelites, and complains of Judah; for the Jews, we know, were retained by the Lord, when the ten tribes separated. This defection of the ten tribes did not cause religion to fail wholly among the whole people. There remained the pure worship of God, at least as to the outward form, at Jerusalem. The Lord then complains not here of Judah without a cause. He had said before, Judah shall be saved by his God;' but now he says, Judah also has set for himself a plant;' that is, |superstitions have been long and widely enough springing up among all Israel, they have spread through all the corners of the land: and now Judah also,| he says, |is planting his own shoots, for he draws the Israelites to himself;| there is therefore a new propagation, and this is done, While I am returning the captivity of my people; that is, |while I am seeking to restore the scattering of my people.|
In a word, God shows here that there was no part any longer whole. When one undertakes the cure of a diseased body, and when he sees at least some parts whole, he has some hope of applying a remedy; but when not even a finger remains sound, what can the physician do? So also the Lord says in this place, |There was at least some hope of Judah, for some form of my worship remained there, and the purer teaching of the law continued; but now Judah propagates superstitions for Israel; observing that the whole land of Israel is full of superstitions, he takes from thence shoots and slips, and corrupts the remaining portion of the land, which has hitherto remained sacred to me.| We now perceive, as I think, the genuine meaning of the Prophet.