You have brought a vine out of Egypt: you have cast out the heathen, and planted it.
A favourite figure with the prophets. The metaphor is applied to Israel in Isaiah 5:1-7; Jeremiah 2:21; Ezekiel 15:6; Ezekiel 17:6-8. There was a golden vine representing the nation, sculptured on the gate of the temple. The association of the vine with Egypt has been disputed; but the mural paintings at Thebes, at Beni-Hassan, and in the pyramids contain representations of vineyards. Boys are seen frightening away the birds from the ripe clusters; men gather them and deposit them in baskets, and carry them to the wine press. Two things are suggested -
I. THE VINE AS A FIGURE FOR GOD'S PEOPLE.
1. The vine is a foreign plant, not really belonging to Canaan. Quite possibly it had actually been introduced from Egypt; but its proper home seems to be the hilly region on the southern shares of the Caspian Sea. Israel, like the vine, was transplanted, not a native of Palestine - transplanted in order to accomplish a Divine purpose, remaining only so long as the Divine Husbandman may think right.
2. The vine itself is a worthless plant; its value lies wholly in the fruit that it bears. Vine wood is altogether useless, too porous and light to serve any good purpose. It only carries the sap that is to appear as luscious fruit. So Israel was reminded that it had no merit as a nation; it could only convey the Divine life to men as it brought forth the fruits of righteousness.
3. The vine represented Israel because it is a plant which is so dependent, needs so much care, and has such splendid possibilities. It must be held up; it must be vigorously pruned and thinned; it must be richly nourished. And so Israel needed Divine upholding, discipline, and encouragement; and that Divine care had been fully and freely given.
II. MAN'S TREATMENT OF HIS VINES A FIGURE OF GOD'S TREATMENT OF HIS PEOPLE. See the details given in Isaiah 5., and compare the description of planting vineyard, given by Van Lennep, in 'Bible Lands and Customs,' vol. 1. p. 112. Note:
1. Careful selection of ground - soil and aspect are most important. So God selects Palestine for the nation of Israel. Show the singular appropriateness of its situation, and its characteristic features.
2. Fencing it in. This necessary because of the enemies of the vine - little foxes that are cunning, wild bears and bears that are strong. See the fencing in of Israel - on the west, by sea; on the north, by mountains; on the east and south, by deserts.
3. Gathering oat the stones. Because richness and depth of earth are needed, and there should be no hindrance to the spreading of the roots. So God dispossessed the nations that were occupying the soil.
4. Building a tower. For a watchman to see approaching foes in time of the ripening. So God's guiding eye and hand were ever on his people.
5. Making a wine vat. Implying full expectation of fruitage. So God looks that his people bring forth "much fruit." - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt: thou hast cast out the heathen, and planted it.