Though he be fruitful among [his] brethren
This is not spoken of Christ, as some think, who take the words to be a continuation of the prophecy concerning the Redeemer, who should increase his brethren, and bring many to him; and be as noxious to hell and death as the east wind is to persons and things, and dry up the fountains and springs of hell and death; the sins of men he should abolish, and be victorious over all his enemies, and divide their spoils: but they are rather the words of Christ himself concerning Ephraim, in connection with ( Hosea 13:13 ) ; expressing his character and state, and explaining the sorrows and calamities that should come upon him for his folly, in not staying the time of the breaking forth children; and to be understood either of his spiritual fruitfulness in the last days; when Israel shall return to the Lord by repentance, and believe in the true Messiah, and bring forth the fruit of good works, as an evidence of it, along with their brethren, those of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, and so all Israel should be saved; which yet should not hinder the distresses and destruction that should come upon the ten tribes by the Assyrians, afterwards declared: or rather of his political fruitfulness, in allusion to his name; increasing in numbers, abounding in power and authority, in wealth and riches; either before the sin of the calves, as Kimchi, before he fell into idolatry; or afterwards, particularly in the times of Jeroboam the second, who enlarged the border of Israel; and in later times, when the kings of Israel entered into alliance with the Assyrians, and enjoyed peace and prosperity, and thought themselves secure of the continuance of it. Some render it, "because he is fierce" F19; or "like a wild ass's colt"; not only foolish and unwise, but fierce and unruly among his brethren, and would not stay the time of the breaking forth of children: therefore an east wind shall come:
which is very vehement, cold, blasting, and exceeding noxious and pernicious to fruit; meaning Shalmaneser king of Assyria, who came from the east; his kingdom, the land of Assyria, lying, as Kimchi observes, eastward to the land of Israel. So the Targum,
``now will I bring against him a king strong as a burning wind;''so the king of Babylon and his army are compared to a strong and violent wind, ( Jeremiah 4:11-13 ) ; the wind of the Lord shall come up from the wilderness;
``by the word of the Lord, through the way of the wilderness shall he come up;''this circumstance, "from the wilderness", is mentioned, not only because winds from thence usually blow more strongly and violently, but because the way from Assyria to the land of Israel lay through a wilderness; and his spring shall become dry, and his fountain shall be dried up;
``he shall destroy the house of his treasures, and shall lay waste the city of his kingdom; he shall spoil the treasuries, all vessels of desire.''