Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will feed them, even this people, with wormwood, and give them water of gall to drink.
Therefore thus saith the Lord God of hosts, the God of Israel,.... He calls himself "the Lord God of hosts", of armies above and below, in heaven and in earth, in opposition to Baalim, the idols of the Gentiles; which word signifies "lords"; which, though there be many who are called so, there is but one God, and one Lord, who is God over all, and "the God of Israel"; who had chosen them, and distinguished them by the blessings of his goodness; and yet they had forsaken him, and followed after other gods; by which the eyes of his glory were provoked, and he was determined to chastise them for it:
Behold, I will feed them, even this people, with wormwood; that is, with straits or difficulties, as the Septuagint version; with bitter afflictions; such are not joyous, but grievous; which are irksome and disagreeable, as bitter things, and particularly wormwood, are to the taste. The Targum is,
"I will bring tribulation upon them, bitter as wormwood:''
and give them water of gall to drink; meaning either of the entrails of a beast so called, or of the juice of the herb hemlock, as the word is rendered in Hosea 10:4, as Kimchi; or of the poison of a serpent, as Jarchi; and so the Targum,
"and I will give them the cup of cursing to drink as the heads of serpents:''
signifying that their punishment would be very severe, though just.