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Saturday, July 20th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Hosea 9

Barnes' Notes on the Whole BibleBarnes' Notes

Verse 1

Rejoice not, O Israel, for joy, as other people - Literally, “rejoice not to exultation,” so as to bound and leap for joy (as in Job 3:22). The prophet seems to come across the people in the midst of their festivity and mirth, and arrests them abruptly stopping it, telling them, that had no cause for joy. Hosea witnessed of Israel’s prosperity under Jeroboam II; the land had peace under Menahem the departure of Pul; Pekah was even strong, so as, in his alliance with Rezin, to be an object of terror to Judah Isaiah 7:0, until Tiglath-Pileser came against him. At some of these times, Israel seems to have given himself to exuberant mirth, whether at harvest-time, or on any other ground, enjoying the present, secure for the future. On this rejoicing Hosea breaks in with his stern, “rejoice not.” “In His presence is fulness of joy,” true, solid, lasting joy” Psalms 16:11. How then could Israel joy, “who had gone a whoring from his God?” Other nations might joy, for they had no imminent judgment to fear.

Their sins had been sins of ignorance; none had sinned like Israel. They had not even Jeremiah 2:11 “changed their gods, which were no gods. If” other “people” did not thank God for His gifts, and thanked their idols, they had not been taught otherwise. Israel had been taught. and so his sin was sin against light. Whence God says by Amos, “You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities” Amos 3:2. : “It was ever the sin of Israel to wish to joy as other nations. So they said to Samuel, “make us a king to judge us, like all the nations.” And when Samuel “told the people the word of God, they have rejected Me that I should not reign over them,” they still said, “Nay, but we will have a king over us, that we may be like all the nations” 1 Samuel 8:5, 1 Samuel 8:10, 1 Samuel 8:7, 1 Samuel 8:19-20. This was the joy of the nations, to have another king than God, and with this joy Israel wished to exult, when it asked for Saul as king; when it followed Jeroboam; when it “denied” Christ “before the presence of Pilate, saying, we have no king but Caesar.” But the people who received the law, and professed the worship of God, might not exult as other people who had not the knowledge of God, that, like them, it should, after forsaking God, be allowed to enjoy temporal prosperity, like theirs.

He says, “rejoice not like the nations,” namely, for it is not allowed thee. Why? “for thou hast gone a whoring from thy God.” The punishment of the adulteress, who departs by unfaithfulness from her husband, is other than that of the harlot, who had never plighted her faith, nor had ever been bound by the bond of marriage. Thou obtainedst God for thy Husband, and didst forsake Him for another, yea, for many others, in the desert, in Samaria, even in Jerusalem, for the golden calves, for Baal, and the other monstrous gods, and lastly, when, denying Christ, thou didst prefer Barabbas. “Rejoice not” then, with the “joy” of the “nations;” for the curses of the law, written against thee, allow thee not. “Cursed shalt thou be in the city, cursed in the field; cursed thy basket and thy store; cursed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy land; the increase of thy kine and the flocks of thy sheep; cursed thou in thy coming in, and cursed thou in thy going out” Deuteronomy 28:16-19. Other nations enjoyed the fruit of their own labors; thou “tookest the labors” of others as a hire, “to observe His laws” Psalms 105:45.

Thou hast loved a reward - (Literally, “the hire” Hosea 2:12; Hosea 8:9; Ezekiel 21:31, 34; Micah 1:7 of a harlot) “on every grain-floor.” Israel had no heart, except for temporal prosperity. This he loved, wheresoever he found it; and so, “on every grain-floor,” whereon the fruits of the earth were gathered for the threshing, he received it from his idols, as the “hire,” for which he praised them “for the good tilings which he had received from a better Giver.” : “Perverse love! Thou oughtest to “love” God to use His rewards. “Thou” lovedst “the reward,” despisedst God. So then thou “wentest whoring from thy God,” because thou didst turn away the love, wherewith thou oughtest to love God, to love the hire: and this not sparingly, nor any how, but “on every barnfloor,” with avarice so boundless and so deep, that all the barn-floors could not satisfy thee.” The first-fruits, and the free-willoffering, they retained, turned them away from the service of God, and offered them to their idols.

Verse 2

The floor and winepress shall not feed them - God turneth away wholly from the adulterous people, and telleth others, how justly they shall be dealt with first for this. “Because she loved My reward, and despised Myself, the reward itself shall be taken away from her.” When the blessings of God have been abused to sin, He, in mercy and judgment, takes them away. He cut them off, in order to show that He alone, who now withheld them, had before given them. When they thought themselves most secure, when the grain was stored on the floor, and the grapes were in the press, then God would deprive them of them.

And the new wine shall fail in her, or shall fail her - Literally, “shall lie to her.” It may be, he would say, that as Israel had lied to his God, and had “spoken lies against Him” Hosea 7:13, so, in requital, the fruits of the earth should disappoint her, and holding out hopes which never came to pass, should, as it were, lie to her, and in the bitterness of her disappointment, represent to her her own failure to her God. The prophet teaches through the workings of nature, and gives, as it were, a tongue to them .

Verse 3

They shall not dwell in the Lord’s land. The earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof - Yet He had chosen the land of Canaan, there to place His people; there, above others, to work His miracles; there to reveal Himself; there to send His Son to take our flesh. He had put Israel in possession of it, to hold it under Him on condition of obedience. Contrariwise, God had denounced to them again and again; “if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to possess it” Deuteronomy 30:17-18. The fifth commandment, “the first commandment with promise” Ephesians 5:2, still implies the same condition, “that thy days may be logit in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” God makes the express reserve that the land is His. “The land shall not be sold forever, for the land is Mine, for ye are strangers and sojourners with Me.” Leviticus 25:23. It was then an aggravation of their sin, that they had sinned in God’s land. It was to sin in His special presence. To offer its first-fruits to idols, was to disown God as its Lord, and to own His adversary. In removing them, then, from His land, God removed them from occasions of sin.

But Ephraim shall return to Egypt - He had broken the covenant, whereon God had promised, that they should not return there (see above the note at Hosea 8:13). They had recourse to Egypt against the will of God. Against their own will, they should be sent back there, in banishment and distress, as of old, and in separation from their God.

And they shall eat unclean things in Assyria - So in Ezekiel, “The children of Israel shall eat their defiled bread among the Gentiles, whither I will drive them” Ezekiel 4:13. “Not to eat things common or unclean” was one of the marks which God had given them. whereby he distinguished them as His people. While God owned them as His people, He would protect them against such necessity. The histories of Daniel, of Eleazar and the Maccabees (Daniel 1:8; Daniel 2:0 Macc. 6; 7), show how sorely pious Jews felt the compulsion to eat things unclean. Yet this doubtless Israel had done in his own land, if not in other ways, at least in eating things offered to idols. Now then, through necessity or they were to be forced, for their sustenance to eat tilings unclean, such as were, to them, all things killed with the blood in them, i. e., as almost all things are killed now. They who had willfully transgressed God’s law, should now be forced to live in the habitual breach of that law, in a matter which placed them on a level with the pagan. People, who have no scruple about breaking God’s moral law, feel keenly the removal of any distinction, which places them above others. They had been as pagan; they should be in the condition of pagan.

Verse 4

They shall not offer wine-offerings to the Lord - The “wine” or “drink-offering” was annexed to all their burnt-offerings, and so to all their public sacrifices. The burnt-offering (and with it the meal and the wine-offering,) was “the” daily morning and evening sacrifice Exodus 29:38-41; Numbers 28:3-8, and the sacrifice of the Sabbath Numbers 28:9. It was offered, together with the sin-offering, on the first of the month, the Passover, the feast of the first-fruits, of trumpets, of tabernacles, and the Day of Atonement, besides the special sacrifices of that day Numbers 28:11, Numbers 28:15-16, Numbers 28:19, Numbers 28:22, Numbers 28:26, Numbers 28:7, Numbers 28:30; Numbers 29:11, Numbers 29:1-2, Numbers 29:5, Numbers 29:7-8, Numbers 29:12-38. It entered also into private life Leviticus 1:0; Numbers 15:3, Numbers 15:10. The drink-offering accompanied also the peace-offering Numbers 15:8, Numbers 15:10. As the burnt-offering, on which the offerer laid his hand Leviticus 1:4, and which was wholly consumed by the sacred fire which at first fell from heaven, expressed the entire self-devotion of the offerer, that he owed himself wholly to his God; and as the peace-offering was the expression of thankfulness, which was at peace with God; so the outpouring of the wine betokened the joy, which accompanies that entire self oblation, that thankfulness in self-oblation of a soul accepted by God. In denying, then, that Israel should “offer wine-offerings,” the prophet says, that all the joy of their service of God, nay all their public service should cease. As he had before said, that they should be “for many days without sacrifice” Leviticus 3:4, so now, he says, in fact, that they should live without the prescribed means of pleading to God the atonement to come. Whence he adds,

Neither shall they be pleasing to the Lord - For they should no longer have the means prescribed for reconciliation with God. Such is the state of Israel now. God appointed one way of reconciliation with Himself, the Sacrifice of Christ. Sacrifice pictured this, and pleaded it to Him, from the fall until Christ Himself “appeared, once in the end of the world, to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” Hebrews 9:26. Soon after, when time had been given to the Jews to learn to acknowledge Him, all bloody sacrifices ceased. Since then the Jews have lived without that means of reconciliation, which God appointed. It availed, not in itself, but as being appointed lay God to foreshadow and plead that one sacrifice. So He who, by our poverty and void, awakens in us the longing for Himself, would through the anomalous condition, to which He has, by the orderings of His divine providence, brought His former people, call forth in them that sense of need, which would bring them to Christ. In their half-obedience, they remain under the ceremonial law which He gave them, although He called them, and still calls them, to exchange the shadow for the substance in Christ. But in that they cannot fulfill the requirements of the law, even in its outward form, the law, which they acknowledge, bears witness to them, that they are not living according to the mind of God.

Their sacrifices shall be unto them as the bread of mourners - He had said that they should not sacrifice to God, when no longer in the Lord’s land. He adds that, if they should attempt it, their sacrifices, so far from being a means of acceptance, should be defiled, and a source of defilement to them. “All” which was “in” the same “tent” or house with a dead body, was “unclean for seven days” Numbers 19:14. The bread, which they ate then, was defiled. If “one unclean by a dead body touched bread or pottage or any meat, it was unclean” Haggai 2:12-13. In offering the tithes, a man was commanded to declare, “I have not eaten of it in my mourning” Deuteronomy 26:15. So would God impress on the soul the awfulness of death, and man’s sinfulness, of which death is the punishment. He does not say, that they would offer sacrifices, but that their sacrifices, if offered as God did not command, would defile, not atone. It is in truman nature, to neglect to serve God, when He wills it, and then to attempt to serve Him when he forbids it. Thus Israel, affrighted by the report of the spies Numbers 14:0, would not go up to the promised land, when God commanded it. When God had sentenced them, not to go up, but to die in the wilderness, “then” they attempted it. Sacrifice, according to God’s law, could only be offered in the promised land. In their captivity, then, it would be a fresh sin.

For their bread for their soul - Or “is for their soul,” i. e., “for themselves;” it is for whatever use they can make of it for this life’s needs, to support life. Nothing of it would be admitted “into the house of the Lord,” as offered to Him or accepted by Him.

Verse 5

What will ye do in the solemn day? - Man is content to remain far from God, so that God do not show him, that He has withdrawn Himself from him. Man would fain have the power of drawing near to God in time of calamity, or when he himself likes. He would fain have God at his command, as it were, not be at the command of God. God cuts off this hope altogether. he singles out the great festivals, which commemorated His great doings for His people, as though they had no more share in those mercies. The more solemn the day, the more total man’s exclusion, the more manifest God’s withdrawal. To one shut out from His service, the days of deepest religious joy became the days of deepest sorrow. Mirth is turned into heaviness. To be deprived of the ordinary daily sacrifice was a source of continual sorrow; how much more, “in the days of” their “gladness” Numbers 10:10, in which they were bidden to rejoice before the Lord, and “in which they seemed to have a nearer and more familiar access to God.” True, that having separated themselves from the temple, they had no right to celebrate these feasts, which were to be held in the place “which God had chosen to place His name there.” Man, however, clings to the shadow of God’s service, when he has parted with the substance. And so God foretold them before, that He would “make all their mirth to cease” Hosea 2:11.

Verse 6

For lo, they are gone because of destruction - They had fled, for fear of destruction, to destruction. For fear of the destruction from Assyria, they were fled away and gone to Egypt, hoping, doubtless, to find there some temporary refuge, until the Assyrian invasion should have swept by. But, as befalls those who flee from God, they fell into more certain destruction.

Egypt shall gather them up, Memphis shall bury them - They had fled singly, in making their escape from the Assyrian. Egypt shall receive them, and shall gather them together, but only to one common burial, so that none should escape. So Jeremiah says, “They shall not be gathered nor buried” Jeremiah 8:2; and Ezekiel, “Thou shalt not be brought together, nor gathered” Ezekiel 29:5. “Memphis” is the Greek name for the Egyptian “Mamphta,” whence the Hebrew “Moph” ; or “Manuph,” whence the Hebrew “Noph” (Isaiah 19:13; Jeremiah 2:16; Jeremiah 44:1; Jeremiah 46:14; Ezekiel 30:13 ff). It was at this time the capital of Egypt, whose idols God threatens . Its name, “the dwelling of Phta,” the Greek Vulcan, marked it, as a seat of idolatry; and in it was the celebrated court of Apis , the original of Jeroboam’s calf. There in the home of the idol for whom they forsook their God, they should be gathered to burial. It was reputed to be the burial-place of Osiris, and hence, was a favorite burial-place of the Egyptians. It once embraced a circuit of almost 19 miles , with magnificent buildings; it declined after the building of Alexandria; its very ruins gradually perished, after Cairo rose in its neighborhood.

The pleasant places for their silver, nettles shall possess them - The English margin gives the same sense in different words; “their silver shall be desired; (as Obadiah saith, “his hidden treasures were searched out) nettles shall inherit them” Obadiah 1:6. In either way, it is a picture of utter desolation. The long rank grass or the nettle, waving amid man’s habitations, looks all the sadder, as betokening that man once was there, and is gone. The desolate house looks like the grave of the departed. According to either rendering, the silver which they once had treasured, was gone. As they had “inherited” and “driven” out (the word is one) the nations, whose land God had given them, so now nettles and thorns should “inherit them.” These should be the only tenants of their treasure-houses and their dwellings.

Verse 7

The days of visitation are come - The false prophets had continually hood-winked the people, promising them that those days would never come. “They had put far away the evil day” Amos 6:3. Now it was not at hand only. In God’s purpose, those “days” were “come,” irresistible, inevitable, inextricable; days in which God would visit, what in His long-suffering, He seemed to overlook, and would “recompense each according to his works.”

Israel shall know it - Israel would not know by believing it; now it should “know,” by feeling it.

The prophet is a fool, the spiritual man is mad - The true prophet gives to the false the title which they claimed for themselves, “the prophet” and “the man of the spirit.” Only the event showed what spirit was in them, not the spirit of God but a lying spirit. The people of the world called the true prophets, “mad,” literally, maddened, “driven mad,” , as Festus thought of Paul; “Thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad” Acts 26:24. Jehu’s captains called by the same name the young prophet whom Elisha sent to anoint him. “Wherefore came this mad fellow unto thee?” 2 Kings 9:11. Shemaiah, the false prophet, who deposed God’s priest, set false priests to “be officers in the house of the Lord,” to have an oversight as to “every man who is mad and maketh himself a prophet,” calling Jeremiah both a false prophet and a “madman” (Jeremiah 29:25-26. The word is the same).

The event was the test. Of our Lord Himself, the Jews blaspbemed, “He hath a devil and is mad” John 10:20. And long afterward, “madness,” “phrensy” were among the names which the pagan gave to the faith in Christ . As Paul says, that “Christ crucified” was “to the Greeks” and to “them that perish, foolishness,” and that the “things of the Spirit of God, are foolishness to the natural man, neither can he know” them, “because they are spiritually discerned” 1 Corinthians 1:18, 1Co 1:23; 1 Corinthians 2:14. The man of the world and the Christian judge of the same things by clean contrary rules, use them for quite contrary ends. The slave of pleasure counts him mad, who foregoes it; the wealthy trader counts him mad, who gives away profusely. In these days, profusion for the love of Christ has been counted a ground for depriving a man of the care of his property. One or the other is mad. And worldlings must count the Christian mad; else they must own themselves to be so most fearfully. In the Day of Judgment, Wisdom says, “They, repenting and groaning for anguish of spirit, shall say within themselves, This was he whom we had sometimes in derision and a proverb of reproach. We fools counted his life madness, and his end to be without honor. How is he numbered among the children of God, and his lot is among the saints!” (Wisd. 5:3-6).

For the multitude of thine iniquity and the great hatred - The words stand at the close of the verse, as the reason of all which had gone before. Their “manifold iniquity” and their “great hatred” of God were the ground why the “days of visitation” and “recompense” should “come.” They were the ground also, why God allowed such prophets to delude them. The words, “the great hatred,” stand quite undefined, so that they may signify alike the hatred of Ephraim against God and good people and His true prophets, or God’s hatred of them. Yet it, most likely, means, “their” great hatred, since of them the prophet uses it again in the next verse. The sinner first neglects God; then, as the will of God is brought before him, he willfully disobeys Him; then, when, he finds God’s will irreconcilably at variance with his own, or when God chastens him, he hates Him, and (the prophet speaks out plainly) “hates” Him “greatly.”

Verse 8

The watchman of Ephraim was with my God - These words may well contrast the office of the true prophet with the false. For Israel had had many true prophets, and such was Hosea himself now. The true prophet was at all times with “God.” He was “with God,” as holpen by God, “watching” or looking out and on into the future by the help of God. He was “with God,” as walking with God in a constant sense of His presence, and in continual communion with Him. He was “with God,” as associated by God with Himself, in teaching, warning, correcting, exhorting His people, as the Apostle says, “we then as workers together with Him” 2 Corinthians 6:1.

It might also be rendered in nearly the same sense, “Ephraim was a watchman with my God,” and this is more according to the Hebrew words. As though the whole people of Israel had an office from God , “and God addressed it as a whole, ‘I made thee, as it were, a watchman and prophet of God to the neighboring nations, that through My providence concerning thee, and thy living according to the law, they too might receive the knowledge of Me. But thou hast acted altogether contrary to this, for thou hast become a snare to them. ‘“

Yet perhaps, if so construed, it would rather mean, “Ephraim is a watchman, beside my God,” as it is said, “There is none upon earth, that I desire with Thee” Psalms 73:25, i. e., beside Thee. In God the Psalmist had all, and desired to have nothing “with,” i. e., beside God. Ephraim was not content with God’s revelations, but would himself be “a seer, an espier” of future events, the prophet says with indignation, “together with my God.” God, in fact, sufficed. Ephraim not. Ahab hated God’s prophet, “because he did not speak good concerning him but evil” 1Ki 22:8, 1 Kings 22:18. And so the kings of Israel had court-prophets of their own, an establishment, as it would seem, of four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal, and four hundred prophets of Ashtaroth 1 Kings 18:19, which was filled up again by new impostors 2 Kings 3:13; 2 Kings 10:19, when after the miracle of Mount Carmel, Elijah, according to the law Deuteronomy 13:5; Deuteronomy 17:5, put to death the prophets of Baal. These false prophets, as well as those of Judah in her evil days, flattered the kings who supported them, misled them, encouraged them in disbelieving the threatenings of God, and so led to their destruction. By these means, the bad priests maintained their hold over the people. They were the antichrists of the Old Testament, disputing the authority of God, in whose name they prophesied. Ephraim encouraged their sins, as God says of Judah by Jeremiah, “My people love to have it so” Jeremiah 5:31. It willed to be deceived, and was so.

“On searching diligently ancient histories,” says Jerome, “I could not find that any divided the Church, or seduced people from the house of the Lord, except those who have been set by God as priests and prophets, i. e. watchmen. These then are turned into a snare, setting a stumbling-block everywhere, so that whosoever entereth on their ways, falls, and cannot stand in Christ, and is led away by various errors and crooked paths to a precipice.” : “No one,” says another great father, “doth wider injury than one who acteth perversely, while he hath a name or an order of holiness.” “God endureth no greater prejudice from any than from priests, when He seeth those whom He has set for the correction of others, give from themselves examples of perverseness, when “we” sin, who ought to restrain sin. What shall become of the flock, when the pastors become wolves?”

The false prophet is the snare of a fowler in - (literally, “upon”) all his ways i. e., whatever Ephraim would do, wherever the people, as a whole or any of them, would go, there the false prophet beset them, endeavoring to make each and everything a means of holding them back from their God. This they did, “being hatred in the house of his God.” As one says, “I am (all) prayer” Psalms 109:4, because he was so given up to prayer that he seemed turned into prayer; his whole soul was concentrated in prayer; so of these it is said, “they” were “hatred.” They hated so intensely, that their whole soul was turned into hatred; they were as we say, hatred personified; hatred was embodied in them, and they ensouled with hate. They were also the source of hatred against God and man. And this each false prophet was “in the house of his God!” for God was still his God, although not owned by him as God. God is the sinners God to avenge, if he will not allow Him to be his God, to convert and pardon.

Verse 9

They have deeply corrupted themselves - Literally, “they have gone deep, they are corrupted.” They have deeply immersed themselves in wickedness; have gone to the greatest depth they could, in it; they are sunk in it, so that they could hardly be extricated from it; and this, of their own deliberate intent; they contrived it deeply, hiding themselves, as they hoped, from God.

As in, the days of Gibeah - When Benjamin espoused the cause of “the children of Belial” who had worked such horrible brutishness in Gibeah toward the concubine of the Levite. This they maintained with such obstinacy, that, through God’s judgment, the whole tribe perished, except six hundred men. Deeply they must have already corrupted themselves, who supported such guilt. Such corruption and such obstinacy was their’s still.

Therefore “he will remember their iniquity.” God seemed for a time, as if He overlooked the guilt of Benjamin in the days of Gibeah, for at first He allowed them to be even victorious over Israel, yet in the end, they were punished, almost to extermination, and Gibeah was destroyed. So now, although He bore long with Ephraim, He would, in the end show that He remembered all by visiting all.

Verse 10

I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness - God is not said to find anything, as though “He” had lost it, or knew not where it was, or came suddenly upon it, not expecting it. “They” were lost, as relates to Him, when they were found by Him. As our Lord says of the returned prodigal, “This my son was lost and is found” Luke 15:32. He “found” them and made them pleasant in His own sight, “as grapes which a man finds unexpectedly, in “a great terrible wilderness of fiery serpents and drought” Deuteronomy 8:15, where commonly nothing pleasant or refreshing grows; or “as the first ripe in the fig-tree at her fresh time,” whose sweetness passed into a proverb, both from its own freshness and from the long abstinence (see Isaiah 28:4). God gave to Israel both richness and pleasantness in His own sight; but Israel, from the first, corrupted God’s good gifts in them. This generation only did as their fathers. So Stephen, setting forth to the Jews how their fathers had rebelled against Moses, and persecuted the prophets, sums up; “as your fathers did, so do ye” Acts 7:51. Each generation was filling up the measure of their fathers, until it was full; as the whole world is doing now Revelation 14:15.

But they went to Baal-Peor - “They,” the word is emphatic; these same persons to whom God showed such love, to whom He gave such gifts, “went.” They left God who called them, and “went” to the idol, which could not call them. Baal-Peor, as his name probably implies, was “the filthiest and foulest of the pagan gods.” It appears from the history of the daughters of Midian, that his worship consisted in deeds of shame Numbers 25:0.

And separated themselves unto that shame - that is, to Baal-Peor, “whose” name of “Baal, Lord,” he turns into “Bosheth, shame” . Holy Scripture gives disgraceful names to the idols, (as “abominations, nothings, dungy things, vanities, uncleanness,” in order to make people ashamed of them. “To this shame they separated themselves” from God, in order to unite themselves with it. The Nazarite “separated himself from” certain earthly enjoyments, and consecrated himself, for a time or altogether, to God; these “separated themselves from” God, and united, devoted, consecrated themselves “to shame.” “They made themselves, as it were, Nazarites to shame.” Shame was the object of their worship and their God, “and” their “abominations were according as they loved,” i. e., they had as many “abominations” or abominable idols, “as” they had “loves.” They multiplied abominations, “after their heart’s desire;” their abominations were manifold, because their passions were so; and their love being corrupted, they loved nothing but abominations.

Yet it seems simpler and truer to render it, “and they became abominations, like their loves;” as the Psalmist says, “They that make them are like unto them” Psalms 115:8. : “The object which the will desires and loves, transfuses its own goodness or badness into it.” Man first makes his god like his own corrupt self, or to some corruption in himself, and then, worshiping this ideal of his own, he becomes the more corrupt through copying that corruption. He makes his god “in his” own “image and likeness,” the essence and concentration of his own bad passions, and then conforms himself to the likeness, not of God, but of what was most evil in himself. Thus the Pagan made gods of lust, cruelty, thirst for war; and the worship of corrupt gods reacted on themselves. They forgot that they were “the work of their own hands,” the conception of their own minds, and professed to “do gladly” “what so great gods” had done.

And more widely, says a father , “what a man’s love is, that he is. Lovest thou earth? thou art earth. Lovest thou God? What shall I say? thou shalt be god.” : “Naught else maketh good or evil actions, save good or evil affections.” Love has a transforming power over the soul, which the intellect has not. “He who serveth an abomination is himself an abomination” , is a thoughtful Jewish saying. “The intellect brings home to the soul the knowledge on which it worketh, impresses it on itself, incorporates it with itself. Love is an impulse whereby he who loves is borne forth toward that which he loves, is united with it, and is transformed into it.” Thus in explaining the words, “Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His Mouth,” Song of Solomon 1:2, the fathers say , “Then the Word of God kisseth us, when He enlighteneth our heart with the Spirit of divine knowledge, and the soul cleaveth to Him and His Spirit is transfused into him.”

Verse 11

As for Ephraim, their glory shall fly away, like a bird - Ephraim had parted with God, his true Glory. In turn, God would quickly take from him all created glory, all which he counted glory, or in which he gloried. When man parts with the substance, his true honor, God takes away the shadow, lest he should content himself therewith, and not see his shame, and, boasting himself to be something, abide in his nothingness and poverty and shame to which he had reduced himself. “Fruitfulness,” and consequent strength, had been God’s special promise to Ephraim. His name, Ephraim, contained in itself the promise of his future fruitfulness. Genesis 41:52. With this Jacob had blessed him. He was to be greater than Manasseh, his older brother, “and his seed shall become a multitude of nations” Genesis 48:19. Moses had assigned to him “tens of thousands” Deuteronomy 33:17, while to Manasseh he had promised “thousands” only. On this blessing Ephraim had presumed, and had made it to feed his pride; so now God, in his justice and mercy, would withdraw it from him. It should “make” itself “wings, and fly away” Proverbs 23:5, with the swiftness of a bird, and “like a bird,” not to return again to the place, from where it has been scared.

From the birth - Their children were to perish at every stage in which they received life. This sentence pursued them back to the very beginning of life. First, when their parents should have joy in “their birth,” they were to come into the world only to go out of it; then, their mothers womb was to be itself their grave; then, stricken with barrenness, the womb itself was to refuse to conceive them.

: “The glory of Ephraim passes away, from the birth, the womb, the conception, when the mind which before was, for glory, half-deified, receives, through the just judgment of God, ill report for good report, misery for glory, hatred for favor, contempt for reverence, loss for gain, famine for abundance. Act is the “birth;” intention the “womb;” thought the “conception.” “The glory of Ephraim then flies away from the birth, the womb, the conception,” when, in those who before did outwardly live nobly, and gloried in themselves for the outward propriety of their life, the acts are disgraced, the intention corrupted, the thoughts defiled.”

Verse 12

Though they bring up children - God had threatened to deprive them of children, in every stage before or at their birth. Now, beyond this, he tells them, as to those who should escape this sentence, he would bereave them of them, or make them childless.

That there shall not be a man left - Literally, “from man.” The brief word may be filled up, as the English Version has done (by not infrequent an idiom):

(1) “from there being a man;” or

(2) “from” among “men;” as Samuel said to Agag (1 Samuel 15:33; add Proverbs 30:14), “as thy sword has made women childless, so shall thy mother be childless among women;” or

(3) “from” becoming “men,” i. e., from reaching man’s estate.

The prophet, in any case, does not mcan absolute excision, for he says, “they shall be wanderers among the nations,” and had foretold, that they should abide, as they now are, and be converted in the end. But since their pride was in their numbers, he says, that these should be reduced in every stage from conception to ripened manhood. So God had forewarned Israel in the law, “If thou wilt not observe to do all the words of this law - ye shall be left few in number, whereas ye were as the stars of heaven for multitude” Deuteronomy 28:58, Deuteronomy 28:62. A sentence, felt the more by Ephraim, as being the head of the most powerful division of the people, and himself the largest portion of it.

Yea - (literally, “for”) woe also unto them, when I depart from them This is, at once, the ground and the completion of their misery, its beginning and its end. God’s departure was the source of all evil to them; as He foretold them, “I will forsake them, and I will hide My face from them, and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall befall them, so that they shall say in that day, Are not these evils come upon us, because our God is not among us?” Deuteronomy 31:17. But His departure was itself above all. For the prophet says also; “for woe also unto them.” This was the last step in the scale of misery. Beyond the loss of the children, whom they hoped or longed for, beyond the loss of their present might, and all their hope to come, there is a further undefined, unlimited, evil, “woe to them also,” when God should “withdraw,” not His care and providence only, but Himself also from them; “when I depart from them.” They had “departed” and turned away, from or “against” God (see the note at Hosea 7:13). It had been their characteristic Hosea 4:16. Now God Himself would requite them, as they had requited Him. He would depart from them. This is the last state of privation, which forms the “punishment of loss” in Hell. When the soul has lost God, what has it?

Verse 13

Ephraim, as I saw Tyrus, is planted in a pleasant place - Or (better) “as I saw (her) toward Tyre,” or “as I saw as to Tyre.” Ephraim stretched out, in her dependent tribes, “toward” or “to” Tyre itself. Like to Tyrus she was, “in her riches, her glory, her pleasantness, her strength, her pride,” and in the end, her fall. The picture is that of a fair tree, not chance-sown, but “planted” carefully by hand in a pleasant place. Beauty and strength were blended in her. On the tribe of Joseph especially, Moses had pronounced the blessing; “Blessed of the Lord be his land, for the precious things of heaven, for the dew, and for the deep which coucheth beneath, and for the precious fruits brought forth by the sun, and for the precious things put forth by the moons (i. e., month by month) and for the chief things of the ancient mountains, and for the precious things of the lasting hills and for the precious things of the earth and the fulness thereof, and for the good pleasure of Him who dwelt in the bush” Deuteronomy 33:13-16. Beautiful are the mountains of Ephraim, and the rich valleys or plains which break them. And chief in beauty and in strength was the valley, whose central hill its capital, Samaria, crowned; “the crown of pride to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower which is on the head of the fat valleys of them that are overcome with wine” Isaiah 28:1. The blessing of Moses pointed perhaps to the time when Shiloh was the tabernacle of Him, who once dwelt and revealed Himself in the bush. Now that it had exchanged its God for the calves, the blessings which it still retained, stood but in the more awful contrast with its future.

But Ephraim shall bring forth his children to the murderer - Literally, “and Ephraim is to bring forth etc.” i. e., proud though her wealth, and high her state, pleasantly situated and firmly rooted, one thing lay before her, one destiny, she “was to bring forth children only for the murderer.” Childlessness in God’s providence is the appropriate and frequent punishment of sins of the flesh. Pride too brought Peninnah, the adversary of Hannah, low, even as to that which was the ground of her pride, her children. “The barren hath born seven, and she that hath many children is waxed feeble” 1 Samuel 2:5. So as to the soul, “pride deprives of grace.”

Verse 14

Give them a miscarrying womb - The prophet prays for Israel, and debates with himself what he can ask for, amid this their determined wickedness, and God’s judgments. Since “Ephraim” was “to bring forth children to the murderer,” then it was mercy to ask for them, that they might have no children. Since such are the evils which await their children, grant them, O Lord, as a blessing, the sorrows of barrenness. What God had before pronounced as a punishment, should, as compared to other evils, be a mercy, and an object of prayer. So our Lord pronounces as to the destruction of Jerusalem. “Behold the days are coming, in which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps that never gave suck” Luke 23:29. “O unhappy fruitfulness and fruitful unhappiness, compared with which, barrenness, which among them was accounted a curse, became blessedness.”

Verse 15

All their wickedness is in Gilgal - “Gilgal,” having been the scene of so many of God’s mercies, had been, on that very ground, chosen as a popular scene for idol-worship (see the note above at Hosea 4:15). And doubtless, Ephraim still deceived himself, and thought that his idolatrous worship, in a place once so hallowed, would still be acceptable with God. “There, where God of old was propitious, He would be so still, and whatever they did, should, even for the place’s sake, be accepted; the hallowed place would necessarily sanctify it.” In answer to such thoughts, God says, “all their wickedness,” the very chief and sum, the head from which the rest flowed, their desertion of God Himself, whatever they hoped or imagined, all their “wickedness is” there.

For there I hated them - “There, in the very place where heretofore I shewed such great tokens of love to, and by My gracious presence with, them, “even there I have hated them” and now hate them.” “He saith not, there was I angry, or displeased with them, but in a word betokening the greatest indignation, “I hated them.” Great must needs be that wickedness which provoked the Father of mercies to so great displeasure as to say, that He “hated them;” and severe must needs be those judgments which are as effects of hatred and utter aversation of them, in Him.”

For the wickedness of their doings - The sin of Israel was no common sin, not a sin of ignorance, but against the full light. Each word betokens evil. The word “doings” expresses “great bold doings.” It was “the wickedness of their wicked works,” a deeper depth of wickedness in their wickedness, an essence of wickedness, for which, God saith, “I will drive them out of My house,” i. e., as before, out of His whole land (see the note above at Hosea 8:1).

I will love them no more - So He saith, in the beginning; “I will have no more mercy upon the house of Israel, but I will utterly take them away” Hosea 1:6. : “This was a national judgment, and so involved the whole of them, as to their outward condition, which they enjoyed as members of that nation, and making up one beady politic. It did not respect the spiritual condition of single persons, and their relation, in this respect, to God.” As individuals, they were, “not cut off from God’s favor and tokens of His love, nor from the power of becoming members of Christ, whenever any of them should come to Him. It only struck them forever out of that “house of the Lord” from which they were then driven,” or from hopes that that kingdom should be restored, which God said, He would cause to cease.

All their princes are revolters - Their case then was utterly hopeless. No one of their kings “departed from the sin of Jeroboam who made Israel to sin.” The political power which should protect goodness, became the fountain of corruption. : “None is there, to rebuke them that offend, to recall, those that err; no one who, by his own goodness, and virtue, pacifying God, can turn away His wrath, as there was in the time of Moses.” : “Askest thou, why God cast them out of His house, why they were not received in the Church or the house of God? He saith to them, because they “are all revolters, departers,” i. e., because, before they were cast out visibly in the body, they departed in mind, were far away in heart, and therefore were cast out in the body also, and lost, what alone they loved, the temporal advantages of the house of God.”

Verse 16

Ephraim is smitten - The prophet, under the image of a tree, repeats the same sentence of God upon Israel. The word “smitten” is used of the smiting of the tree from above, especially by the visitation of God, as by “blasting” and “mildew” Amos 4:9. Yet such smiting, although it falls heavily for the time, leaves hope for the future. He adds then, “their root is” also “withered,” so that “they should bear no fruit;” or if, perchance, while the root was still drying up and not quite dead, any fruit he yet found, “yet will I slay,” God says, “the beloved,” fruit “of their womb,” the desired fruit of their bodies, that which their souls longed for. : “So long as they have children, and multiply the fruit of the womb, they think that they bear fruit, they deem not that “their root is dried,” or that they have been severed by the axe of excision, and “rooted out of the land of the living;” but, in the anguish at the “slaying” of those they most loved, they shall say, better had it been to have had no children.”

Verse 17

My God hath cast them away - “My God” (he saith) as if God were his God only who clave to him, not their’s who had, by their disobedience, departed from Him. “My God.” “He had then authority from Him,” whom he owned and who owned “him,” and who bade him so Speak, as though God were “his” God, and no longer their’s. God “casts them away,” lit. “despises them,” and so rejects them as an object of aversion to Him, “because they did not hearken to Him.” “God never forsakes unless He be first forsaken.” When they would not hearken, neither doing what God commanded, nor abstaining from what He forbade, God at last rejected them, as worthless, lacking altogether to that end for which He created them.

And they shall be wanderers among the nations - This was the sentence of Cain Genesis 4:12; “a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.” So God had forewarned them. “The Lord shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth - and among these nations shalt there find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest” Deuteronomy 28:64-65.

The words of the prophet imply an abiding condition. He does not say, “they shall wander, but, they shall be wanderers.” Such was to be their lot; such has been their lot ever since; and such was not the ordinary lot of those large populations whom Eastern conquerors transported from their own land. Those conquerors took away with them into their own land, portions of the people whom they conquered, for two ends. When a people often rebelled, they were placed where they could rebel no more, among tribes more powerful than they, and obedient to the rule of the conqueror. Or they were carried off; as slaves to work in bricks, like Israel in Egypt .

Their workmen, smiths, artificers, were especially taken to labor on those gigantic works, the palaces and temples of Nineveh or Babylon. But, for both these purposes, the transported population had a settled abode allotted to it, whether in the capital or the provinces. Sometimes new cities or villages were built for the settlers . Israel at first was so located. Perhaps on account of the frequent rebellions of their kings, the ten tribes were placed amid a wild, warlike, population, “in the cities of the Medes.” 2 Kings 17:6. When the interior of Asia was less known, people thought that they were still to be found there.

The Jews fabled, that the ten tribes lay behind some mighty and fabulous river, Sambatyon , or were fenced in by mountains . Christians thought that they might be found in some yet unexplored part of Asia. Undeceived as to this, they still asked whether the Afghans, or the Yezides, or the natives of North America were the ten tribes, or whether they were the Nestorians of Kurdistan. So natural did it seem, that they, like other nations so transported, should remain as a body, near or at the places, where they had been located by their conquerors. The prophet says otherwise. He says their abiding condition shall be, “they shall be wanderers among the nations,” wanderers among them, but no part of them. Before the final dispersion of the Jews at the destruction of Jerusalem, “the Jewish race,” Josephus says ,” was in great numbers through the whole world, interspersed with the nations.”

Those assembled at the day of Pentecost had come from all parts of Asia Minor but also from Parthia, Media, Persia, Mesopotamia, Arabia, Egypt, maritime Lybia, Crete, and Italy Acts 2:9-11. Wherever the Apostles went, in Asia or Greece, they found Jews, in numbers sufficient to raise persecution against them. James writes to those whom, with a word corresponding to that of Hosea, he calls, “the dispersion.” “James ... to the twelve in the dispersion” . The Jews, scoffing, asked, whether our Lord would go to “the dispersion among the Greeks” . They speak of it, as a body, over against themselves, to whom they supposed that He meant to go, to teach them, when He said, “Ye shall seek Me and shall not find Me.” The Jews of Egypt were probably the descendants of those who went there, after the murder of Gedaliah. The Jews of the North, as well as those of China, India, Russia, were probably descendants of the ten tribes.

From one end of Asia to the other and onward through the Crimea, Greece and Italy, the Jews by their presence, bare witness to the fulfillment of the prophecy. Not like the wandering Indian tribe, who spread over Europe, living apart in their native wildness, but settled, among the inhabitants of each city, they were still distinct, although with no polity of their own; a distinct, settled, yet foreign and subordinate race. : “Still remains unreversed this irrevocable sentence, as to their temporal state and face of an earthly kingdom, that they remain still “wanderers” or dispersed among other nations, and have never been restored, nor are in likelihood of ever being restored to their own land, so as to call it their own. If ever any of them hath returned thither, it hath been but as strangers, and all, as to any propriety that they should challenge in it, to hear the ruins and waste heaps of their ancient cities to echo in their ears the prophet’s words, “Arise ye and depart, for this is not your rest;” your ancestors polluted it, and ye shall never return as a people thither, to inhabit it, as in your former condition” Micah 2:10.

“Meanwhile Ephraim here is an example, not only to particular persons, that as they will avoid personal judgments, so they take care faithfully to serve God and hearken unto Him; but to nations and kingdoms also, that as they will prevent national judgments, so they take care that God be truly served, and the true religion maintained in purity and sincerity among them. Ephraim, or lsrael, held their land by as good and firm tenure as any people in the world can theirs, having it settled on them by immediate gift from Him who is the Lord of the whole earth, who promised it to their forefathers, Abraham and his seed forever Genesis 13:14-15; Deuteronomy 34:4, called therefore the land which the Lord sware unto them Numbers 14:0; and which He had promised them Deuteronomy 9:28, the land of promise Hebrews 11:9. Who could have greater right to a place, better and firmer right, than they had to the Lord’s land, by “His” promise which never fails, and “His” oath who will not repent, confirmed to them?

Certainly, if they had observed conditions and kept covenant with Him, all the people in the world could never have driven them out, or dispossessed them of it. But, seeing they revolted and brake His covenant, and did not hearken to Him, He would not suffer them longer to dwell in it, but drave and cast them out of it, so that they could never recover it again, but continue to this day “wandering among the nation,” having no settled place of their own, nowhere where they can be called a people, or are for such owned. If God so dealt with Israel on their disobedience and departing from His service, to whom He had so particularly engaged himself to make good to them the firm possession of that land; how shall any presume on any right or title to any other, or think to preserve it to themselves by any force or strength of their own, if they revolt from Him, and cast off thankful obedience to Him? The Apostle cautioneth and teacheth us so to argue, “if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest He also spare not thee,” and therefore warneth, “be not high-minded,” and presumptuous, “but fear” Romans 11:20-21.

Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Hosea 9". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/hosea-9.html. 1870.
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