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Hosea 10:1 . Israel is an empty vine. So is the Hebrew, but the LXX read, “a well-branched vine;” that is, full of leaves, but destitute of fruit. Their fruits are the fruits of idolatry. The figures and allusions of the prophet were well understood by the jews, though often obscure to us.
Hosea 10:2 . Their heart is divided. The Chaldaic reads, “divided from my law,” which gloss agrees with their obstinate attachment to their altars and their idols, as in the preseding verse. Now shall they be found faulty, and receive the just reward of their apostasy and sins.
Hosea 10:3 . We have no king. Their kings were cut off in the morning of their reign, as in Hosea 10:15. Prior to the reign of Hoshea, they were in a state of anarchy for nine years, as in Hosea 7:7. A deplorable condition, ending in national ruin. How valuable is a paternal king, and a happy constitution.
Hosea 10:5 . They shall fear because of the calves of Beth-aven. The LXX read “calf.” It is likely that the golden calf went as a booty to king Salmanezer, their “Jareb,” for protection. Ephraim shall then be ashamed of the calf that could not protect itself. See on Hosea 4:15.
The people shall mourn, and the priests. כמרים the kamarim, who have so long boasted of the calf, shall mourn over their desolate altars. Selden, on the gods of Syria, calls this a name of contempt. It occurs but three times. 2 Kings 23:5, and Zephaniah 1:4. The root refers, not to the blackness of their dress, much smoked with great fires, but to the cries and shouts made at their worship.
Hosea 10:9 . Oh Israel, thou hast sinned from the days of Gibeah, being as obstinate in their adherence to the calves, as the Benjamites who perished in protecting a few profligate young men. Judges 19:20. This is repeated from chap. 9:9.
Hosea 10:11 . Ephraim loveth to tread out the corn; loves to plunder the harvests of Judah, rather than plow for herself. But soon the yoke of Assyria shall pass on this fair heifer, and Judah and Jacob shall plow in peace.
Hosea 10:12 . Break up your fallow ground. Hebrews ניר nir, new or fresh land, old leigh, the strays of the fallow deer; land of fallow colour, as implied in the German brackaker, from bracken or fern; land which has long lain unplowed. The Italian etymon is the same; tetra non semirata gia due anni.
Hosea 10:14 . Shalman spoiled Beth-arbel in the day of battle. The reference is obscure. Shalman may be written for Shalmunna, a king of Midian whom Gideon overthrew, destroying all the inhabitants of Karkor. Judges 8:10. But the name may be Salmanezer, who obtained a victory at Betharbel in Mesopotamia, a city memorable also for the third and total defeat of Darius Codomanus by Alexander the great.
The prophet, like a workman not ashamed, repeats his strokes. The boasted vine which came out of Egypt, is now unpruned, full of branches, and destitute of fruit. The cause is laid at your door, oh kamarim, besmoked at your altars, surrounded with diabolical shouts. The prophet calls you by a just name; not the anointed kohenim, the priests of the Lord, but a race of murderers, the priests of him who was a murderer from the beginning: chap. 6:9. Soon your great fires shall be extinguished, soon your shouts shall be silenced, soon your vine shall be eradicated; gall and hemlock, the bitter and poisonous rosh shall spring up in its place. Soon your Bethel, once the house of God and the gate of heaven, but now Beth- aven, the house of wickedness, shall be desolate, and your bones burned by Josiah on the altars where countless infants were once immolated. You have ruined your country, ruined the people, ruined yourselves.
But you, oh remnant, after the storm is past, and while you now sigh for the wickedness of the land, sow to yourselves in righteousness; break up the fallow ground of a deceitful heart, where thorns, ferns, and hemlock have long grown. Let the plowshare go to the roots of sin; expose your hearts to heaven in prayer for benignant influences. Then sow the good seeds of truth, that the rain of heaven may descend, and the solar warmth crown your efforts with a plenitude of harvest joy. Let the fruit be mercy instead of oppression, righteousness instead of crime. By thus seeking the Lord, righteousness shall descend upon you as the rain: yea, your country, and the church, shall be as the garden of the Lord. But, if otherwise; if you persevere in this breach of covenant; the invading foe shall again dash the mothers and the infants in pieces, and you shall implore in vain the rocks and mountains to cover you. Oh, sinner, sinner! resolved to persevere in thy courses, till the stupors of death close thine eyes, how will you face a long-insulted God, or answer for the abuse of that goodness which leadeth man to repentance!
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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Hosea 10". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26