7. And they of Ephraim shall be like a mighty man, and their heart shall rejoice as through wine: yea, their children shall see it, and be glad; their heart shall rejoice in the LORD.
7. Et erunt quasi gigas Ephraim, et laetabitur cor eorum sicuti a vino, et filli eorum videbunt et gaudebunt; exultabit core eorum in Iehova.
He declares the same in other words: he had said in the last verse, that he would strengthen both the house of Judah and the house of Joseph, that is, the ten tribes; he now speaks of Ephraim alone, but includes the kingdom of Judah; and he names Ephraim, not because he deserved to be honored, or to be preferred to the Jews, for Ephraim had become apostate; but because the return of the ten tribes was an event more incredible: this is clearly the reason why the Prophet expressly mentions Ephraim. For even to the very destruction of the city and of the temple, God had continued to promise restoration to the Jews: the hope then of the Jews was certain and peculiar to themselves; but as to the Israelites, they were like a putrid carcass, for they had heard only something here and there, and received only some portion of the prophecies, as a grain of seed that falls outside of the field; for they were then as it were alienated from the people of God. We now then understand what the Prophet means by saying, that the Israelites would be like giants; for though they had been cast down by their enemies, and then driven in great dishonor and disgrace into exile, and had been exposed to all kinds of reproaches, and oppressed by extreme bondage; yet God promises them the strength of giants.
Now we have said that the words contain a part for the whole; for this promise no doubt belongs especially to the Jews: there is yet no mention of them, though they were first in rank, and had a better ground of hope as to their return, and the Lord had already given them some proof.
He says, Rejoice shall their hearts through wine; and see shall their sons and be glad; exult shall their heart in Jehovah. It is certain that they had already a cause for joy, as it is said in the book of Psalms,
|We became like those who dream,
when the Lord restored his captives.| (Psalm 126:1.)
But the Prophet speaks here of a greater joy, that is, when they should see gathered all the tribes from their miserable and grievous dispersion: hence it is said in the same Psalm, |Gather, Lord, our captivity, like the stream in the south;| and then he adds, |They who sow in tears, in joy shall reap.| In part then did the faithful lament, and in part did they rejoice: the beginning of redemptions had raised their minds to joy; but on seeing their brethren still living under the tyranny of their enemies and having hardly a hope of restoration, they could not but mourn. Now the Prophet here declares, that their joy would be full, when their complete restoration came.
And he extends this joy to their sons; for it was needful to restrain their armor in expecting a full favor, as they ever closed up their way to God by their complaints, according to what we do when we give loose reigns to our wishes, for we then in a manner turn away from God. In order then to teach the people patience, the Prophet says, |Though ye see not this today with your eyes, yet your sons shall at length see it.| We now perceive that he here exhorts them to patience, that they might not anticipate with too much haste the promises of God.
Of the metaphor it is not needful to say much: he compares to the drunken, or to such as become cheerful through drinking, those who rejoice in the Lord, not that he expresses an approval of drunkenness, but because he wished to show that it would be no common joy, as though they were carried away beyond themselves. It would be then superfluous to move here the question, whether it be right to seek joy by drinking freely. It is indeed true that hilarity is connected with the lawful use of wine (Psalm 104:15;) but as we are too prone to excess, we ought to restrain the lusts of the flesh rather than to seek some color of excuse for a sinful indulgence. But as I have said, this question does not belong to the present passage. It follows --