The inhabitants of Samaria shall fear because of the calves of
Or, "the cow calves" F23, as in the original; so called by way of derision, and to denote their weakness and inability to help their worshippers; and so Bethel, where one of these calves was, is here, as elsewhere, called Bethaven; that is, the house of iniquity, or of an idol, by way of contempt; and may take in Dan also, where was the other calf, since both are mentioned; unless the plural is put for the singular: now the land of Israel being invaded by the enemy, the inhabitants of Samaria, which was the metropolis of the nation, the king, nobles, and common people that dwelt there, and were worshippers of the calves, were in pain lest they should be taken by the enemy; or because they were, these places falling into his hands before Samaria was besieged, or at least taken; and these calves being broken to pieces, which they had worshipped, and put their trust in, they were afraid the ruin of themselves and children would be next, and was not very far off: for the people thereof shall mourn over it;
either the people of Samaria, the same with the inhabitants of it; or rather the people of Bethaven, where the idol was; but now was broke to pieces, or carried away; though it is generally interpreted of the people of the calf, the worshippers of it, who would mourn over it, or for the loss of it, being taken away from them, and disposed of as in ( Hosea 10:6 ) . The Jews
F24 have a tradition, that, in the twentieth year of Pekah king of Israel, Tiglathpileser king of Assyria came and took away the golden calf in Dan; and, in the twelfth year of Ahaz, another king of Assyria (Shalmaneser) came and took away the golden calf at Bethel: and the priests thereof [that] rejoiced on it;
the Chemarims, as in ( Zephaniah 1:4 ) ; or "black" F25 ones, because of their meagre and sordid countenances, or black clothing: the same word the Jews use for Popish monks: here it designs the priests of Bethaven, or the calf, who before this time rejoiced on account of it, because of the sacrifices and presents of the people to it, and the good living they got in the service of it; but now would mourn, as well as the people, and more, because of being deprived of their livelihood. Some read the words without the supplement "that, the priests thereof rejoiced on it"; which some interpret according to a tradition of the Jews mentioned by Jerom, though by no other, as I can find; that the priests stole away the golden calves, and put brasen and glided ones in the place of them; so that when they were carried away the people mourned, taking them to be the true golden calves; but the priests made themselves merry with their subtle device, and rejoiced that their fraud was not detected; but rather the word here used, as Pocock and others have observed, is of that kind which has contrary senses, and signifies both to mourn and to rejoice; and here to mourn, as perhaps also in ( Job 3:22 ) ( Psalms 2:11 ) ; and so Ben Melech observes, that there are some of their interpreters who understand it here in the sense of mourning: for the glory of it, because it is departed from it;
either because of the glory of the calf, which was gone from it, the veneration it was had in, the worship which was given to it, and the gems and ornaments that were about it; or rather the glory of Bethaven, and also of Samaria, and indeed of all Israel, which was carried captive from them; that is, the calf, which was their god, in which they gloried, and put their trust and confidence in.
F23 (twlgel) "vaccas, V. L. "ad. vitulas", Pagninus, Montanus; "propter vitulas", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "ob vitulas, Cocceius.
F24 Seder Olam Rabba, c. 22. p. 60, 61.
F25 (wyrmk) "atrati ejus", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.