The manifold sins of Israel. (1-7) Their senselessness and hypocrisy. (8-16)
Verses 1-7 A practical disbelief of God's government was at the bottom of all israel's wickedness; as if God could not see it or did not heed it. Their sins appear on every side of them. Their hearts were inflamed by evil desires, like a heated oven. In the midst of their troubles as a nation, the people never thought of seeking help from God. The actual wickedness of men's lives bears a very small proportion to what is in their hearts. But when lust is inwardly cherished, it will break forth into outward sin. Those who tempt others to drunkenness never can be their real friends, and often design their ruin. Thus men execute the Divine vengeance on each other. Those are not only heated with sin, but hardened in sin, who continue to live without prayer, even when in trouble and distress.
Verses 8-16 Israel was as a cake not turned, half burnt and half dough, none of it fit for use; a mixture of idolatry and of the worship of Jehovah. There were tokens of approaching ruin, as grey hairs are of old age, but they noticed them not. The pride which leads to break the law of God leads to self-flattery. The mercy and grace of God are the only refuge to which obstinate sinners never think of fleeing. Though they may howl forth their terrors in the form of prayers, they seldom cry to God with their hearts. Even their prayers for earthly mercies only seek fuel for their lusts. Their turning from one sect, sentiment, form, or vice, to another, still leaves them far short of Christ and holiness. Such are we by nature. And such shall we prove if left to ourselves. Create in us a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within us.
Hosea 7:1-16 . REPROOF OF ISRAEL.
Probably delivered in the interreign and civil war at Pekah's death; for Hosea 7:7 , "all their kings . . . fallen," refers to the murder of Zechariah, Shallum, Menahem, Pekahiah, and Pekah. In Hosea 7:8 the reference seems to be to Menahem's payment of tribute to Pul, in order to secure himself in the usurped throne, also to Pekah's league with Rezin of Syria, and to Hoshea's connection with Assyria during the interregnum at Pekah's death [MAURER].
1. I would have healed Israel--Israel's restoration of the two hundred thousand Jewish captives at God's command ( 2 Chronicles 28:8-15 ) gave hope of Israel's reformation [HENDERSON]. Political, as well as moral, healing is meant. When I would have healed Israel in its calamitous state, then their iniquity was discovered to be so great as to preclude hope of recovery. Then he enumerates their wickedness: "The thief cometh in (indoors stealthily), and the troop of robbers spoileth without" (out-of-doors with open violence).
2. consider not in their hearts--literally "say not to," &c. ( Psalms 14:1 ).
that I remember--and will punish.
their own doings have beset them about--as so many witnesses against them ( Psalms 9:16 , Proverbs 5:22 ).
before my face--( Psalms 90:8 ).
3. Their princes, instead of checking, "have pleasure in them that do" such crimes ( Romans 1:32 ).
4. who ceaseth from raising--rather, "heating" it, from an Arabic root, "to be hot." So the Septuagint. Their adulterous and idolatrous lust is inflamed as the oven of a baker who has it at such a heat that he ceaseth from heating it only from the time that he hath kneaded the dough, until it be leavened; he only needs to omit feeding it during the short period of the fermentation of the bread. Compare 2 Peter 2:14 , "that cannot cease from sin" [HENDERSON].
5. the day of our king--his birthday or day of inauguration.
have made him sick--namely, the king. MAURER translates, "make themselves sick."
with bottles of wine--drinking not merely glasses, but bottles. MAURER translates, "Owing to the heat of wine."
he stretched out his hand with scorners--the gesture of revellers in holding out the cup and in drinking to one another's health. Scoffers were the king's boon companions.
6. they have made ready--rather, "they make their heart approach," namely their king, in going to drink with him.
like an oven--following out the image in Hosea 7:4 . As it conceals the lighted fire all night while the baker sleeps but in the morning burns as a flaming fire, so they brood mischief in their hearts while conscience is lulled asleep, and their wicked designs wait only for a fair occasion to break forth [HORSLEY]. Their heart is the oven, their baker the ringleader of the plot. In Hosea 7:7 their plots appear, namely, the intestine disturbances and murders of one king after another, after Jeroboam II.
7. all hot--All burn with eagerness to cause universal disturbance ( 2 Kings 15:1-38 ).
devoured their judges--magistrates; as the fire of the oven devours the fuel.
all their kings . . .
none . . . calleth unto me--Such is their perversity that amid all these national calamities, none seeks help from Me ( Isaiah 9:13 , 64:7 ).
8. mixed . . . among the people--by leagues with idolaters, and the adoption of their idolatrous practices ( Hosea 7:9 Hosea 7:11 , Psalms 106:35 ).
Ephraim . . . cake not turned--a cake burnt on one side and unbaked on the other, and so uneatable; an image of the worthlessness of Ephraim. The Easterners bake their bread on the ground, covering it with embers ( 1 Kings 19:6 ), and turning it every ten minutes, to bake it thoroughly without burning it.
9. Strangers--foreigners: the Syrians and Assyrians ( 2 Kings 13:7 , 2 Kings 15:19 2 Kings 15:20 , 17:3-6 ).
gray hairs--that is, symptoms of approaching national dissolution.
are here and there upon--literally, "are sprinkled on" him.
yet he knoweth not--Though old age ought to bring with it wisdom, he neither knows of his senile decay, nor has the true knowledge which leads to reformation.
10. Repetition of Hosea 5:5 .
not return to . . . Lord . . . for all this--notwithstanding all their calamities ( Isaiah 9:13 ).
11. like a silly dove--a bird proverbial for simplicity: easily deceived.
without heart--that is, understanding.
call to Egypt--Israel lying between the two great rival empires Egypt and Assyria, sought each by turns to help her against the other. As this prophecy was written in the reign of Hoshea, the allusion is probably to the alliance with So or Sabacho II (of which a record has been found on the clay cylindrical seals in Koyunjik), which ended in the overthrow of Hoshea and the deportation of Israel ( 2 Kings 17:3-6 ). As the dove betrays its foolishness by fleeing in alarm from its nest only to fall into the net of the fowler, so Israel, though warned that foreign alliances would be their ruin, rushed into them.
12. When they shall go--to seek aid from this or that foreign state.
spread my net upon them--as on birds taken on the ground ( Ezekiel 12:13 ), as contrasted with "bringing them down" as the "fowls of the heavens," namely, by the use of missiles.
as their congregation hath heard--namely, by My prophets through whom I threatened "chastisement" ( Hosea 5:9 , 2 Kings 17:13-18 ).
13. fled--as birds from their nest ( Proverbs 27:8 , Isaiah 16:2 ).
me--who both could and would have healed them ( Hosea 7:1 ), had they applied to Me.
redeemed them--from Egypt and their other enemies ( Micah 6:4 ).
lies--( Psalms 78:36 , Jeremiah 3:10 ). Pretending to be My worshippers, when they all the while worshipped idols ( Hosea 7:14 , Hosea 12:1 ); also defrauding Me of the glory of their deliverance, and ascribing it and their other blessings to idols [CALVIN].
14. not cried unto me--but unto other gods [MAURER], ( Job 35:9 Job 35:10 ). Or, they did indeed cry unto Me, but not "with their heart": answering to "lies," Hosea 7:13
when they howled upon their beds--sleepless with anxiety; image of deep affliction. Their cry is termed "howling," as it is the cry of anguish, not the cry of repentance and faith.
assemble . . . for corn, &c.--namely in the temples of their idols, to obtain from them a good harvest and vintage, instead of coming to Me, the true Giver of these ( Hosea 2:5 Hosea 2:8 Hosea 2:12 ), proving that their cry to God was "not with their heart."
rebel against me--literally, "withdraw themselves against Me," that is, not only withdraw from Me, but also rebel against Me.
15. I . . . bound--when I saw their arms as it were relaxed with various disasters, I bound them so as to strengthen their sinews; image from surgery [CALVIN]. MAURER translates, "I instructed them" to war ( Psalms 18:34 , 144:1 ), namely, under Jeroboam II ( 2 Kings 14:25 ). GROTIUS explains, "Whether I chastised them (Margin) or strengthened their arms, they imagined mischief against Me." English Version is best.
16. return, but not to the Most High--or, "to one who is not the Most High," one very different from Him, a stock or a stone. So the Septuagint.
deceitful bow--( Psalms 78:57 ). A bow which, from its faulty construction, shoots wide of the mark. So Israel pretends to seek God, but turns aside to idols.
for the rage of their tongue--their boast of safety from Egyptian aid, and their "lies" ( Hosea 7:13 ), whereby they pretended to serve God, while worshipping idols; also their perverse defense for their idolatries and blasphemies against God and His prophets ( Psalms 73:9 , Psalms 120:2 Psalms 120:3 ).
their derision in . . . Egypt--Their "fall" shall be the subject of "derision" to Egypt, to whom they had applied for help ( Hosea 9:3 Hosea 9:6 , 2 Kings 17:4 ).