Ephraim is smitten, their root is dried up, they shall bear no fruit: yea, though they bring forth, yet will I slay even the beloved fruit of their womb.
My God will cast them away, because they did not hearken unto Him: and they shall be wanderers among the nations.
I’m not much good with houseplants–or outdoor ones, either, for that matter, but I do enjoy them. I love flowers, and I wish I had a green thumb. Anyway, when I was pretty young, I remember hearing someone talking about their “wandering jew” plant, and I was surprised and bothered by that name. I didn’t understand it.
Now, of course, it makes a lot of sense. The plant tends to send out long tendrils that wander wherever they can find something to which to cling. The outdoor plants, in my understanding, quickly fill up a flower bed with their off-shoots.
So v. 17 makes a lot of sense to me now! Part of the judgment against Israel for her disobedience is that she would wander among other nations, trying to find a place to put down roots. And so it has been down through the centuries as the nation of Israel has been dispersed time and time again. Often, when a Jewish community does take root, they prosper and are a blessing to the community and the economy–until another round of persecution begins to brew, as it always does.
These final two verses of chapter 9 repeat the coming judgment on Israel. She will not escape, because in spite of repeated warnings, she has continued to follow the idolatry of the surrounding nations, falling into the evil and immoral practices that accompanied the idolatry. God gave them prophets down through the centuries, warning them of judgment to come, but they refused to hear.
Often, even as judgment fell, they took a long time to repent and seek God.