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Friday, June 21st, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Hosea 7

Ellicott's Commentary for English ReadersEllicott's Commentary



This oracle is probably in the beginning of Hoshea’s reign, and deals exclusively with the condition of the northern kingdom.

Verse 1

(1) Translate, When I heal Israel (referring to a cessation in the attacks of the menacing foe, or to such a thrill of finer feeling as that which is recorded in 2 Chronicles 28:8-15), then is revealed the iniquity of Ephraim and the wickedness of Samaria, that they commit falsehood. Samaria here sustains the same relation to Israel that Jerusalem does to Judah, and it is the very source of the corruption of the whole country.

Verse 2

(2) Have beset them about.—The wicked deeds of the nation crowded around them as witnesses to reveal their treason against Jehovah.

Verse 3

(3) Glad.—The evil awakens no alarm, but rather sympathy and gladness, in the breasts of their kings and rulers, who are ready to follow suit in all deeds of violence.

Verse 4

(4) Render, ceaseth heating from the kneading of the dough till its leavening. The baker is unremitting in his exertions to keep up the heat of the oven, the smouldering fire being fed on camel’s dung and the like fuel, except when he is obliged to occupy himself with preparing the dough for baking—an apt image of the incessant burning rage of lust and violence.

Verse 5

(5) Following the hint of the LXX. and other versions, the rendering of which is based on a slightly different punctuation of the Hebrew, we prefer to translate, the day of our king the princes have begun with the glowing (or fever) of winei.e., the carousal of the princely retinue in celebration of the sovereign’s coronation-day (or birthday) commences at an early hour, significant of monstrous excess. (Comp. Acts 2:15.) There is bitterness in the use of the pronoun “our” before “king.” Otherwise we must render, have made themselves ill with the fever of wine (the Authorised version is here inaccurate). The last clause is obscure; probably it means “he (i.e., our king) hath made common cause with scorners,” and is boon-companion of the dissolute and depraved. (Comp. Exodus 23:1.)

Verse 6

(6) Render, Yea, they draw nigh together. Like an oven in their heart with their wiles. Their baker sleepeth all the night, &c. The metaphor of Hosea 7:4 is resumed. The baker, having left his dough to become leavened and his fire to smoulder, can afford to sleep. The baker may mean the evil passion which has been raging. Indeed, Wünsche and Schmoller, by a slight change of punctuation, obtain the rendering “their anger,” instead of “their baker,” which is supported by the Targum and Syriac version. After the murderous plots and carousal, the conspiracy ripens with the day; then will come the outburst of violence.

Verse 8

(8) Cake not turned.—Referring to the destructive effect of foreign influences. Ephraim was consumed by the unhallowed fire of Baal-worship, with all its passion and sensualism—a cake burnt on one side to a cinder, and on the other left in a condition utterly unfit for food. So the activity of foreign idolatries and foreign alliances, and the consequent unfaithfulness to Israel’s God, are the nation’s ruin.

Verse 9

(9) Have devoured.—The past tense may refer to the invasions of Tiglath-pileser. Both Egypt and Assyria had come to regard Israel as the earthen pipkin between iron pots. These strangers have devoured his strength—i.e., he has less power to resist aggression, less treasure, less land, smaller population. The signs of senility are upon him. “Grey hairs are his passing bell.” He is under sentence of death, and knoweth it not.

Verse 10

(10) See Note on Hosea 5:5.

Verse 11

(11) Silly dove.—No creature is less able to defend itself than the dove, which flies from the bird of prey to the net of the fowler. In this powerful metaphor we have a political allusion. King Hoshea is called Ausih on the Assyrian monuments. Having usurped the throne after the murder of Pekah, he “purchased his recognition as king of Israel by giving a large present to the Assyrian monarch” (730 B.C.). (See Geo. Smith, Assyria—S.P.C.K.) But while Hoshea was sending tribute to Assyria he was secretly coquetting with Egypt. The alliance between Egypt and the king of Israel, mentioned in 2 Kings 17:4, took place later, after Tiglath-pileser’s death, and led to Israel’s ruin. On the other hand, many commentators (Ewald, Nowack, &c.) refer the allusions of this verse to the reign of Menahem.

Without heart.—Better, without understanding.

Verse 12

(12) When they shall go.—Best rendered, Whenever they go, &c. The ultimate ruin produced by this policy of dependence on foreign states and of doubledealing intrigue was even at this early stage foreseen by the prophet, and portrayed under the simile of Jehovah’s net snaring the unwary bird.

As their congregation hath heard.—Should be, according to the report to their assemblyi.e., according to what they hear, perhaps from Hosea himself. The threatenings of the Pentateuch (Leviticus 26:14-39; Deuteronomy 28:13-68; Deuteronomy 32:15-35) find their echoes here.

Verse 13

(13) Though I have redeemed.—Should be, Though I would fain redeem them: an impressive picture of all the insults to longsuffering Divine love.

Verse 14

(14) Cried . . . Howled—God discriminates between a heart-cry to Him, and a howl of despair, resembling the yell of a wild beast. A howl upon their bed is not a sob of true repentance.

They assemble themselves.—To supplicate Jehovah for fruitful harvests. This rendering is supported by several eminent authorities. Others follow Ewald in translating,” they excite themselves” with dervish-like devices and cries. The LXX. render with great force, “they cut themselves.” (Comp. 1 Kings 18:28; Deuteronomy 14:1; Jeremiah 16:6.) This is based on a slightly different reading, contained in some of Kennicott’s and De Rossi’s MSS., which is not improbably the right one. The charge is that all their simulated penitence is to secure physical comforts, not to show conformity with the Divine will.

Verse 15

(15) Bound.—Should be instructed. God has imparted skill and power to fight their enemies. (Comp. Psalms 144:1.) So the grace of the Spirit is often slighted by its recipients.

Verse 16

(16) Like a deceitful bow.—Religious observance has the appearance of a bow with the arrow on the string, apparently aimed at some object, but the string being slack, the aim is diverted.

The “raving insolence of their tongue” may mean the boasts that were made of the friendship of King Shebaka of Egypt, who made Israel his tool. In the land of Egypt they would thus become objects of derision. (Comp. Isaiah’s warning to his countrymen, Isaiah 30:1-8.)

Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Hosea 7". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ebc/hosea-7.html. 1905.
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