Though he be fruitful among his brothers, an east wind shall come, the wind of the LORD shall come up from the wilderness…
Though he be fruitful among his brethren, an east wind shall come, the wind of the Lord shall come up from the wilderness, and his spring shall become dry, and his fountain shall be dried up: he shall spoil the treasure of all pleasant vessels. "For he will hear fruit among brethren. East wind will come - a wind of Jehovah, rising up from the desert; and his fountain will dry up, and his spring become dried. He plunders the treasuries of all splendid vessels" (Delitzsch). "This and the following verse set forth the devastation and destruction of the kingdom of the ten tribes, which was to precede the deliverance promised in that which precedes. While the promise was designed to afford consolation to the pious and encouragement to the penitent, the threatening was equally necessary for the refractory and the profane" (Henderson). We shall take the words as suggesting a few remarks on the reverses of fortune in human life.
I. Reverses in human fortune are SOMETIMES VERY STRIKING. Ephraim was "fruitful among his brethren." The very name signifies fruitfulness. Its territory was most fertile, its people the most numerous.
(1) Its riches would give way to poverty. Ephraim was at once a rich and a Populous tribe; but see the change predicted: "His spring shall become dry.... He shall spoil the treasure of all pleasant vessels." The enemy would invade the country, impoverish husbandry, check merchandise.
(2) Its populousness would give way to paucity. The enemy would reduce its numbers and almost depopulate it. "His fountain shall be dried up." How great the reverse! and yet such reverses in human history are frequent. Saul, Herod, Nebuchadnezzar, Napoleon, are a few amongst millions of examples. Constantly do we see men hurled from the sunny mountain of opulence into the gloomy valley of poverty. Such reverses should teach us:
1. To hold all worldly good with a very light hand.
2. To settle our interests on the good that is permanent. "Labor not for the meat that perisheth."
II. Reverses in human fortune are GENERALLY BROUGHT ABOUT BY SECONDARY INSTRUMENTALITY. "An east wind shall come, shall come from the wilderness." Nations, communities, and individuals may always trace their calamities to certain natural causes. If a kingdom decays, if a mercantile transaction breaks down, if a fortune is lost, man can generally trace the dispensation to some "east wind" - some secondary agent. This should teach us
(1) to study natural laws;
(2) to be diligent in checking all elements inimical to human progress.
III. Reverses in human fortune are UNDER THE DIRECTION OF GOD. The change in the fortunes of Ephraim, although brought about by a variety of secondary agencies, was nevertheless under the superintendence of the Almighty. Though a country may be ruined by civil wars, or foreign invasions, or pestilential atmospheres, or unfruitful harvests bringing on famine, still Divine intelligence foresees all, and Divine power overrules all. Both true philosophy and religion teach us to trace all the events of life to him. Some come directly from him; all are directed by him. Friendship and bereavement, prosperity and adversity, sickness and health, sorrow and joy - he is in all. "The Lord gave, the Lord hath taken away." Learn
(1) to acquiesce in his dispensations;
(2) to look to him for all that is good. - D.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Though he be fruitful among his brethren, an east wind shall come, the wind of the LORD shall come up from the wilderness, and his spring shall become dry, and his fountain shall be dried up: he shall spoil the treasure of all pleasant vessels.
WEB: Though he is fruitful among his brothers, an east wind will come, the breath of Yahweh coming up from the wilderness; and his spring will become dry, and his fountain will be dried up. He will plunder the storehouse of treasure.