The distress to come upon Israel. (1-6) The approach of the day of trouble. (7-10) Judgments on Israel. (11-17)
Verses 1-6 Israel gave rewards to their idols, in the offerings presented to them. It is common for those who are niggardly in religion, to be prodigal upon their lusts. Those are reckoned as idolaters, who love a reward in the corn-floor better than a reward in the favour of God and in eternal life. They are full of the joy of harvest, and have no disposition to mourn for sin. When we make the world, and the things of it, our idol and our portion, it is just with God to show us our folly, and correct us. None may expect to dwell in the Lord's land, who will not be subject to the Lord's laws, or be influenced by his love. When we enjoy the means of grace, we ought to consider what we shall do, if they should be taken from us. While the pleasures of communion with God are out of the reach of change, the pleasant places purchased with silver, or in which men deposit silver, are liable to be laid in ruins. No famine is so dreadful as that of the soul.
Verses 7-10 Time had been when the spiritual watchmen of Israel were with the Lord, but now they were like the snare of a fowler to entangle persons to their ruin. The people were become as corrupt as those of Gibeah, ( Judges 19 ) ; and their crimes should be visited in like manner. At first God had found Israel pleasing to Him, as grapes to the traveller in the wilderness. He saw them with pleasure as the first ripe figs. This shows the delight God took in them; yet they followed after idolatry.
11-17. God departs from a people, or from a person, when he withdraws his goodness and mercy from them; and when the Lord is departed, what can the creature do? Even though, for the present, good things seem to remain, yet the blessing is gone if God is gone. Even the children should perish with the parents. The Divine wrath dries up the root, and withers the fruit of all comforts; and the scattered Jews daily warn us to beware, lest we neglect or abuse the gospel. Yet every smiting is not a drying up of the root. It may be that God intends only to smite so that the sap may be turned to the root, that there may be more of root graces, more humility, patience, faith, and self-denial. It is very just that God should bring judgments on those who slight his offered mercy.
Hosea 9:1-17 . WARNING AGAINST ISRAEL'S JOY AT PARTIAL RELIEF FROM THEIR TROUBLES: THEIR CROPS SHALL FAIL, AND THE PEOPLE LEAVE THE LORD'S LAND FOR EGYPT AND ASSYRIA, WHERE THEY CANNOT, IF SO INCLINED, SERVE GOD ACCORDING TO THE ANCIENT RITUAL: FOLLY OF THEIR FALSE PROPHETS.
1. Rejoice not . . . for joy--literally, "to exultation." Thy exultation at the league with Pul, by which peace seems secured, is out of place: since thy idolatry will bring ruin on thee.
as other people--the Assyrians for instance, who, unlike thee, are in the height of prosperity.
loved a reward upon every corn floor--Thou hast desired, in reward for thy homage to idols, abundance of corn on every threshing-floor ( Hosea 2:12 ).
2. ( Hosea 2:9 Hosea 2:12 ). Hosea 11:5
fail--disappoint her expectation.
it is said, "He shall not return
into . . . Egypt." FAIRBAIRN thinks it is not the exact country that is meant, but the bondage state
with which, from past experience, Egypt was identified in their minds. Assyria was to be a second Egypt to them. Deuteronomy 28:68
, though threatening a return to Egypt, speaks ( Deuteronomy 28:36
) of their being brought to a nation which neither they nor their fathers had known,
showing that it is not the literal Egypt, but a second Egypt-like bondage that is threatened. eat unclean things in Assyria
--reduced by necessity to eat meats pronounced unclean by the Mosaic law ( Ezekiel 4:13
). See 2 Kings 17:6
4. offer wine offerings--literally, "pour as a libation ( Exodus 30:9 , Leviticus 23:13 ).
neither shall they be pleasing unto him--as being offered on a profane soil.
sacrifices . . . as the bread of mourners--which was unclean ( Deuteronomy 26:14 , Jeremiah 16:7 , Ezekiel 24:17 ).
their bread for their soul--their offering for the expiation of their soul [CALVIN], ( Leviticus 17:11 ). Rather, "their bread for their sustenance ('soul' being often used for the animal life, Genesis 14:21 , Margin) shall not come into the Lord's house"; it shall only subserve their own uses, not My worship.
5. ( Hosea 2:11 ).
6. because of destruction--to escape from the devastation of their country.
Egypt shall gather them up--that is, into its sepulchres ( Jeremiah 8:2 , Ezekiel 29:5 ). Instead of returning to Palestine, they should die in Egypt.
Memphis--famed as a necropolis.
the pleasant places for their silver--that is, their desired treasuries for their money. Or, "whatever precious thing they have of silver" [MAURER].
nettles--the sign of desolation ( Isaiah 34:13 ).
7. visitation--vengeance: punishment ( Isaiah 10:3 ).
Israel shall know it--to her cost experimentally ( Isaiah 9:9 ).
the prophet is a fool--The false prophet who foretold prosperity to the nation shall be convicted of folly by the event.
the spiritual man--the man pretending to inspiration ( Lamentations 2:14 , Ezekiel 13:3 , Micah 3:11 , Zephaniah 3:4 ).
for the multitude of thine iniquity, &c.--Connect these words with, "the days of visitation . . . are come"; "the prophet . . . is mad," being parenthetical.
the great hatred--or, "the great provocation" [HENDERSON]; or, "(thy) great apostasy" [MAURER]. English Version means Israel's "hatred" of God's prophets and the law.
8. The watchman . . . was with my God--The spiritual watchmen, the true prophets, formerly consulted my God ( Jeremiah 31:6 , Habakkuk 2:1 ); but their so-called prophet is a snare, entrapping Israel into idolatry.
hatred--rather, "(a cause of) apostasy" (see Hosea 9:7 ) [MAURER].
house of his God--that is, the state of Ephraim, as in Hosea 8:1 [MAURER]. Or, "the house of his (false) god," the calves [CALVIN]. Jehovah, "my God," seems contrasted with "his God." CALVIN'S view is therefore preferable.
9. as in the days of Gibeah--as in the day of the perpetration of the atrocity of Gibeah, narrated in Judges 19:16-22 , &c.
10. As the traveller in a wilderness is delighted at finding grapes to quench his thirst, or the early fig (esteemed a great delicacy in the East, Isaiah 28:4 , Jeremiah 24:2 , Micah 7:1 ); so it was My delight to choose your fathers as My peculiar people in Egypt ( Hosea 2:15 ).
at her first time--when the first-fruits of the tree become ripe.
went to Baal-peor--( Numbers 25:3 ): the Moabite idol, in whose worship young women prostituted themselves; the very sin Israel latterly was guilty of.
separated themselves--consecrated themselves.
unto that shame--to that shameful or foul idol ( Jeremiah 11:13 ).
their abominations were according as they loved--rather, as Vulgate, "they became abominable like the object of their love" ( Deuteronomy 7:26 , Psalms 115:8 ). English Version gives good sense, "their abominable idols they followed after, according as their lusts prompted them" ( Amos 4:5 , Margin).
11. their glory shall fly away--fit retribution to those who "separated themselves unto that shame" ( Hosea 9:10 ). Children were accounted the glory of parents; sterility, a reproach. "Ephraim" means "fruitfulness" ( Genesis 41:52 ); this its name shall cease to be its characteristic.
from the birth . . . womb . . . conception--Ephraim's children shall perish in a threefold gradation; (1) From the time of birth. (2) From the time of pregnancy. (3) From the time of their first conception.
12. Even though they should rear their children, yet will I bereave them (the Ephraimites) of them ( Job 27:14 ).
woe . . . to them when I depart--Yet the ungodly in their madness desire God to depart from them ( Job 21:14 , 22:17 , Matthew 8:34 ). At last they know to their cost how awful it is when God has departed ( Deuteronomy 31:17 , 1 Samuel 28:15 1 Samuel 28:16 ; compare Hosea 9:11 , 1 Samuel 4:21 ).
13. Ephraim, as I saw Tyrus . . . in a pleasant place--that is, in looking towards Tyrus (on whose borders Ephraim lay) I saw Ephraim beautiful in situation like her (Ezekiel 26:1-28:26').
is planted--as a fruitful tree; image suggested by the meaning of "Ephraim" ( Hosea 9:11 ).
bring forth his children to the murderer--( Hosea 9:16 , Hosea 13:16 ). With all his fruitfulness, his children shall only be brought up to be slain.
14. what wilt thou give?--As if overwhelmed by feeling, he deliberates with God what is most desirable.
give . . . a miscarrying womb--Of two evils he chooses the least. So great will be the calamity, that barrenness will be a blessing, though usually counted a great misfortune ( Job 3:3 , Jeremiah 20:14 , Luke 23:29 ).
15. All their wickedness--that is, their chief guilt. contumacy in rejecting God and choosing a king ( 1 Samuel 11:14 1 Samuel 11:15 ; compare 1 Samuel 8:7 ), and of their subsequent idolatry.
there I hated them--not with the human passion, but holy hatred of their sin, which required punishment to be inflicted on themselves (compare Malachi 1:3 ).
out of mine house--as in Hosea 8:1 : out of the land holy unto ME. Or, as "love" is mentioned immediately after, the reference may be to the Hebrew mode of divorce, the husband (God) putting the wife (Israel) out of the house.
princes . . . revolters--"Sarim . . . Sorerim" (Hebrew), a play on similar sounds.
16. The figures "root," "fruit," are suggested by the word "Ephraim," "Smitten," namely, with a blight ( Psalms 102:4 ).
17. My God--"My," in contrast to "them," that is, the people, whose God Jehovah no longer is. Also Hosea appeals to God as supporting his authority against the whole people.
wanderers among . . . nations--( 2 Kings 15:29 , 1 Chronicles 5:26 ).