16. Ephraim is smitten, their root is dried up, they shall bear no fruit: yea, though they bring forth, yet will I slay even the beloved fruit of their womb.
16. Percussus est Ephraim, radix eorum exaruit, fructum non facient: etiamsi genuerint, tunc interficiam desiderabilia uteri ipsorum.
The Prophet again threatens extreme vengeance to the Israelites. It is no wonder that the same sentence is so often repeated; for hypocrites, we know, too much flatter themselves, and are not frightened even by the most grievous threatening. As then hypocrites are so stupid, they must be often, nay, frequently pricked, and most sharply, that they may at length be awakened out of their torpor. Hence the Prophet repeats the threatening which he had often before announced, and says, that Israel had been so smitten, that their root had dried up The comparison is taken from a tree, which not only has had its branches cut off, but has also been torn from the roots. The meaning is, that God would take such vengeance on this miserable people, as wholly to destroy them, without any hope of recovery. The root then is dried up, they will produce fruit no more.
He then leaves this similitude or metaphor, and says, If they generate, I will slay the desirable fruit of their womb; that is, though some seed be begotten, I will yet destroy it.
We now then apprehend the design of the Prophet, which was to show, that the Lord would no more be content with some moderate punishment, for he had often found that this abandoned people were in vain chastised by paternal love; but that extreme vengeance awaited them, which would consume not only the men, but also their children so that no residue should remain. The reason is afterwards added --