Hosea 4:13

13 They sacrifice upon the tops of the mountains, and burn incense upon the hills, under oaks and poplars and elms, because the shadow thereof is good: therefore your daughters shall commit whoredom, and your spouses shall commit adultery.

Hosea 4:13 Meaning and Commentary

Hosea 4:13

They sacrifice upon the tops of the mountains
The highest part of them, nearest to the heavens, where they built their altars to idols, and offered sacrifice unto them, as we often read in Scripture they did: and burn incense upon the hills;
to their idols, which was one kind of sacrifice put for all others: under oaks, and poplars, and elms;
and indeed under every green tree that grew upon them, where there were groves of them raised up for this purpose; see ( Jeremiah 2:20 ) ( 3:6 ) : because the shadow, thereof is good;
the shadow of these trees, of each of them, was large, and preserved them from the sultry heat of the sun, as well as hid them from the sight of men; they could perform their idolatrous rites, as well as gratify their impure lusts, with more privacy and secrecy; and perhaps they thought the gods delighted in such shady places, and that these were frequented by spirits, and the departed souls of men; in such places the Heathens, whom the Jews imitated, built their temples, and offered their sacrifices F7. The "oak" is a very spreading tree; its branches are large, and its shadow very great: hence the religious Heathens in ancient times used to live under them, and worship them as gods, and dedicate temples to them, because they furnished them with acorns for food, and a shelter from the rain, and other inclemencies of the heavens F8; particularly the oak was consecrated to Jupiter, as appears from what Virgil says F9. The oak at Dodona is famous for its antiquity, where were a fountain and groves, and a temple dedicated to the same Heathen deity; and from whence oracles were given forth F11. The Druids here in Britain chose to have their groves of oaks; nor did they perform any of their sacred rites without the leaves of them: hence Pliny F12 says they had their name. The "poplar" mentioned is the white poplar, as the word used signifies, and which affords a very hospitable shadow, as the poet F13 calls it; and this was a tree also with the Heathens sacred to their gods, particularly to Hercules F14; because it is said he brought it first into Greece from the river Acheron, where it grew; and the wood of no other tree would the Eleans use, in preparing the sacrifices for Jupiter Olympius F15. The "elm" is also a very shady tree; hence Virgil


F16 calls it "ulmus opaca, ingens": and under this tree sacrifices used to be offered to idols, as is evident from ( Ezekiel 6:13 ) , where the same word is used as here, though it is there rendered an "oak"; but that it is different from the oak appears from these two words being read together, so that they cannot be names of one and the same tree, ( Isaiah 6:13 ) , where it is rendered the "teil tree", as distinct from the oak. Now these trees being very shady ones, and under which the Gentiles used to perform their religious rites, the Jews imitated them therein, which is here complained of. Therefore your daughters shall commit whoredoms, and your spouses
shall commit adultery;
or their "sons' wives" F17; either spiritually, that is, commit idolatry by the example of their parents and husbands; or corporeally, being left at home while their parents and husbands were worshipping their idols upon the mountains, as Aben Ezra and Kimchi: and so this is to be considered as a punishment of the idolatry of their parents and husbands; that as they commit spiritual adultery against God, or idolatry, their daughters and wives shall be given up to such vile affections, or by force shall be made to commit corporeal adultery against them; or rather the sense is, led by the example of their parents and husbands, whom they see not only sacrifice to idols in the above places, but commit uncleanness with harlots there, they will throw off all shame, and commit whoredom with men: for so the words may be rendered, "hence your daughters"; so Abarbinel.
F7 "Lucus in urbe fuit media, laetissimus umbra: Hic templum Junoni ingens Sidonia Dido Condebat." Virgil. Aeneid. l. 1.
F8 Vid. Chartarii Imagines Deorum, p. 5.
F9 "Sicubi magna Jovis antiquo robore quercus, Ingenteis tendat ramos------", Georgic. l. 3. "Altissima quercus erat Jovis signum", Alex. ab Alex. Genial. Dier. l. 4. c. 12.
F11 Vid. Pausan. Attica, sive l. 1. p. 30. Achaica, sive l. 7. p. 438. Arcadica, sive l. 8. p. 490. & Alex. ab Alex. Genial. Dier. l. 6. c. 2.
F12 Nat. Hist. l. 16. c. 44.
F13 "Qua pinus ingens albaque populus, Umbram hospitalem consociare amant Ramis------" Horat.
F14 "Populus Alcidae gratissima", Virgil. Bucolic. Eclog. 7. Vid. Aeneid. l. 1. "Herculi populus", Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 12. c. 1.
F15 Pausan. Eliac. 1. sive l. 5. p. 313.
F16 Aeneid. l. 6.
F17 (Mkytwlk) "nurus vestrae", Montanus, Vatablus, Piscator, Liveleus, Cocceius, Schmidt, Gussetius.

Hosea 4:13 In-Context

11 Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the heart.
12 My people ask counsel at their stocks, and their staff declareth unto them: for the spirit of whoredoms hath caused them to err, and they have gone a whoring from under their God.
13 They sacrifice upon the tops of the mountains, and burn incense upon the hills, under oaks and poplars and elms, because the shadow thereof is good: therefore your daughters shall commit whoredom, and your spouses shall commit adultery.
14 I will not punish your daughters when they commit whoredom, nor your spouses when they commit adultery: for themselves are separated with whores, and they sacrifice with harlots: therefore the people that doth not understand shall fall.
15 Though thou, Israel, play the harlot, yet let not Judah offend; and come not ye unto Gilgal, neither go ye up to Bethaven, nor swear, The LORD liveth.
The King James Version is in the public domain.