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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible
Hosea 11

 

 

Verses 1-11


The Ingratitude of Israel

Jehovah had been like a tender father and a kind master to Israel from the first, yet had they ever rejected Him and turned to idols. He cannot bear the thought of punishing them, but punish them He must. Yet punishment will be tempered with mercy, and lead at last to repentance and deliverance. The tenderness of the whole passage and the changing phases of feeling are very characteristic.

1. The allusion, of course, is to the deliverance out of the bondage of Egypt, a proof of God's fatherly love to Israel. St. Matthew refers the last clause to the recall of the Infant Jesus from Egypt: see on Matthew 2:15.

2. As them] An interesting example of the terse style of Hosea. It is God who calls, but He calls by the instrumentality of others, Moses and the prophets. The call is the call out of bondage to the service of God.

3. I] RV 'Yet I.' Jehovah is here compared to a father teaching his child to walk, and carrying it when tired.

Taking.. arms] RM 'He took them,' etc. The prophet sometimes speaks as the mouthpiece of God in the first person; less frequently he speaks of God in the third.

4. Cords.. man] not with cords used in drawing a beast which is being broken in, but something more gentle, the kindly discipline needful for winning a man's allegiance. And I was.. unto them] In the evening, when work is over, the kind master takes off the yoke, gently passing it over the animal's face, and then gives it food.

5. Kindness has failed to lead them to repentance; therefore they must be purified by punishment. Not to Egypt, however, shall they go, but the Assyrians shall conquer and carry them away. Not.. into.. Egypt] In Hosea 8:13; Hosea 9:6 the prophet spoke of Egypt as a possible place of captivity; but now, at this later date, it was evident that Assyria was to be the instrument of God's vengeance 6. The mention of apostasy produces a severer tone of threatening. Abide on] RV 'fall upon.' His branches] RV 'his bars,' i.e. his defences, meaning either his strong cities or his nobles, on whom he depended for safety. But their evil counsellors (if we take it in the latter sense) would prove their ruin.

7. Though.. him] Though they formally called on God, they do not really exalt Him in their hearts.

8. Hosea's feeling again turns to tenderness. How can the loving Father bear to chastise His people as they deserve! Admah.. Zeboim] with reference to the destruction of the cities of the plain: cp. Deuteronomy 29:23. My repentings] RV 'my compassions.'

9. Jehovah's feelings grow stronger still. He will not punish His people.

I am God] therefore more long-suffering and less vindictive than man: cp. Psalms 130:4 and Collect, 'Who declarest Thy almighty power most chiefly in showing mercy and pity.' Enter into the city] RM 'come in wrath.'

10. Hosea is confident that the people will make themselves deserving of Jehovah's love and follow Him. Roar.. lion] In Amos 3:8 the same figure is used of God's threatening through the prophet. Here it is used of His calling for His people out of captivity, the point of comparison being the earnest longing on God's part, reverential awe on man's. Shall tremble] RV 'shall come trembling.' West] i.e. Egypt, as distinctly stated in the next v.

11. They.. Egypt] Taken literally, it is in contradiction to Hosea 11:5 taken together, they may be paraphrased thus: They shall not go into Egypt; and even should they go, thence will I bring them—a form of thought similar to that in Hosea 9:11-12, etc. Dove] The timidity of the dove is what is probably thought of. For another use of the simile see Hosea 7:11.


Verses 12-14


A Reproof of Commercial Dishonesty

The Hebrew text divides the chapter more correctly at this v. The prophet returns to the subject of the unfaithfulness both of Israel and of Judah. They have sought help where it was not to be found, and neglected God, the only source of help, in forgetfulness of the example of their ancestor Jacob.

12. Judah.. saints] RM better, 'and Judah is yet unstedfast with God, and with the Holy One who is faithful.'

Hosea 12:1. Ephraim.. east wind] an attack on Israel's foreign policy and cunning commercial dealings with foreign powers. The wind stands for what is useless and unsatisfying. The east wind was noted for its violence and destructiveness: cp. Psalms 48:7. They seek eagerly to obtain what in the end will destroy them.

Oil.. Egypt] Oil was one of the richest products of Palestine: see Deuteronomy 8:8; 2 Kings 18:32.

2. Jacob] as before used to introduce the personal history of the Patriarch, from which Hosea seeks to draw an analogous lesson for the people. Jacob had begun life by cunningly supplanting his brother, but afterwards had made a covenant with God. Israel is now exhorted to do likewise.

3. By his strength] RV 'in his manhood.' It refers to Jacob's wrestling with the angel at Penuel (Genesis 32:24-30).

4. He wept] Not mentioned in Genesis 32:25. He found him] the subject is Jehovah. In Beth-el] The reference is probably to Jacob's dream (Genesis 28:10-22). With us] Hosea here regards God's promises to Jacob as made to the people Israel, whom in fact they chiefly concerned.

5. Lit. 'And Jehovah is the God of armies. Jehovah is His memorial.' The thoughts emphasised are, (1) the protective power of God; (2) His faithfulness. Hosea has probably in his mind Exodus 3:15. Jehovah was the God of the Patriarchs, who would keep the promises which He had made to them. Memorial] that by which a person is known, his name: see Exodus 3:15.

7-14. Israel, too, is unjust and unmerciful. In the pursuit of gain they are no better than the heathen, though they pride themselves on their honesty. Jehovah has long warned them: now He will punish them: their sanctuaries will be utterly destroyed.

7. He is a merchant] RM 'as for Canaan the balances,' etc. Balances of deceit] cp. Amos 8:5.

8. And Ephraim] The Israelites had only too readily learnt the tricks of cheating from the Canaanites. Yet] RV 'surely.' It is the natural consequence of his unjust dealing. In all.. sin] Israel is nevertheless perfectly self-satisfied and has no pangs of conscience.

9. And] RV 'But.' In spite of all this I will not leave you to your evil ways.

Tabernacles] RV 'tents.' Israel had learned nothing since the days in the wilderness. In religion and morality they were still like those who came out of Egypt. Therefore they would have to go back to captivity and begin their discipline anew. Solemn feast] i.e. the Feast of booths (Tabernacles).

10. The moral degradation of the people was not from want of warning. Visions and similitudes] two of the commonest modes of prophetic utterance. We have instances of the first in the vision of Micaiah (1 Kings 22:19-22), the basket of summer fruit (αm Hosea 8:1), etc.; of the latter in the simile of the baker in Hosea 7. A definitely acted parable became a common feature of later prophecy, e.g. Ezekiel 4.

11. Gilead.. Gilgal] both sanctuaries: see Hosea 4:15; Hosea 6:8. Is there iniquity, etc.] RV 'Is Gilead iniquity? 'The question is only a rhetorical way of stating an astounding fact.

12. The idolatry of Israel implies a forgetfulness of God, by whose providence Jacob was rescued from servitude. The reference is to Jacob's servitude under Laban in order to win Rachel (Genesis 29, 30).

13. The rescue of Jacob was repeated in the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt by Moses, and their preservation in the wilderness. Moses, as Israel's first inspired teacher, was their first prophet: cp. Deuteronomy 18:15.; Deuteronomy 34:10.

14. Ephraim.. bitterly] In spite of all this kindness Ephraim had provoked God to great anger. His blood] plural, meaning 'bloodshed.' The blood which he has shed shall not be wiped off, but remain in God's eye, a witness of his crime. For a somewhat similar idea cp. Genesis 4:10. His reproach] God will punish him for his reproach, i.e. for his scornful contempt of God: cp. 2 Kings 19:4, 2 Kings 19:22.

 


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Bibliography Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Hosea 11:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcb/hosea-11.html. 1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, July 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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