3. Israel was holiness unto the LORD, and the firstfruits of his increase: all that devour him shall offend; evil shall come upon them, saith the LORD.
3. Sanctitas Israel Jehovae, primitiae frugum ejus; quicunque comederint contrahent noxam (alii vertunt, peccabunt; sed ego potius ad poenam refero,) malun veniet super eos (exegetice additur hoc membrum) dicit Jehova.
God here more clearly reprobates the ingratitude of the people: and first he enumerates his favors by which he had bound the people for ever to himself; and secondly, he shews how malignantly the people responded to the many blessings which they had received.
In saying, then, that Israel was holy, he intends it not by way of honor. It was indeed in itself an illustrious testimony to their praise, that God had consecrated that people to himself, that he designed them to be the first -- fruits of his increase: but we must remember that there is here an implied contrast between this great and incomparable favor of God, and the wickedness of the people, who afterwards fell away from that God who had been so liberal and gracious to them. According to this view, then, does Jeremiah say, that Israel was holiness to God; that is, that they were separated from all other nations, so that the glory of God shone only among them.
He then adds, that they were the first-fruits of his produce For though whatever produce the earth may bring forth ought to be consecrated to God, by whose power it grows, yet we know that the first -- fruits were gathered and set on the altar as a sacred food. As, then, God had commanded, under the law, the first-fruits to be offered to him, and then given to the priests, he says here, in accordance with that rite, that Israel were the first -- fruits of his produce. For the nations, who then everywhere dwelt, were not removed from under God's government (as he is the creator of all, and shews himself to all as the Father and supporter); but he passed by other nations, and chose the race of Abraham, and for this end, -- that he might protect them by his power and aid. Since, then, God had so bound the nation to himself, how great and how strong was the obligation under which that people was to him? Hence the more base and the more detestable was their perfidy, when the people despised the singular favors which God had conferred on them. We now see why the Prophet says that Israel was holy to God, and the first -- fruits of his increase.
He also intimates that the time would come, when God would gather to himself other nations; for in the first-fruits the people dedicated and offered to God the whole produce of the year is included. So then Israel was like the first-fruits, because God afterwards took to himself other nations, which for many ages were deemed profane. But yet his special object was to shew that the guilt of the people was extreme, as they did not acknowledge the great favors which God had bestowed on them.
He then adds, Whosoever will devour him shall be punished Of this meaning I approve, because the explanation immediately follows, evil shall come on them God then means not that they should be only guilty of a crime, who should devour the first-fruits, but refers rather to punishment; as though he had said, |The profane shall not be unpunished who shall devour the first-fruits which has been dedicated to me.| For if any had stolen the first- fruits, God would have executed a vengeance such as sacrilege deserved. If, however, any one prefers the other explanation, -- that it would be a crime to injure Israel, or to do him any harm, because he was under God's protection, I shall not oppose him: but the wording of the sentence leads me to the other view, that is, that those who would injure Israel would not only be guilty, but would not be able to escape God's vengeance, -- and why? because evil will come upon them, saith Jehovah He afterwards explains more clearly the import of his doctrine --