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Bible Commentaries
Hosea 12

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

Verse 1

Hos 12:1 Ephraim feedeth on wind, and followeth after the east wind: he daily increaseth lies and desolation; and they do make a covenant with the Assyrians, and oil is carried into Egypt.

Ver. 1. Ephraim feedeth on wind ] Slender feeding; unless Ephraim were of the chameleon kind: quippe nec cor auro satiatur nec corpus aura. Wind fills, but feeds not, Isaiah 55:10 . Ephraim had sowed the wind, Hosea 8:7 , but to what profit? He that ministereth seed to the sower, and bread to the eater, would here, surely, neither give bread for food, nor multiply their seed sown, 2 Corinthians 9:10 , but send them to the gods that they had chosen, and to their confederates whom they so relied upon, from whom they should reap the whirlwind. See Trapp on " Hos 8:7 " Wind, we know, bloweth up storms and tempests; so doth idolatry and creature confidence, the tempest of God’s wrath that will never be blown over.

And followeth after the east wind ] Which if he catch, a great catch he is like to have of it. Eurus est ventus urens et exsiccans. The east wind is noted in Scripture for pernicious and harmful to fruits and herbs, Gen 41:6 Ezekiel 7:10 ; Eze 29:17 Hosea 13:15 ; violent it is also, and spareth not men, John 4:8 . The Seventy render it, καυσωνα , a burning blast, as they do the former words, Ephraim is an evil spirit, by a mistake of the points. Job speaketh of some that fill their bellies with the east wind; they think to do so, but it proves otherwise; they snuff up the wind with the wild ass, but it tumors them only, and proves pestilential. It is very dangerous for men to follow after their own conceits and counsels. It may be worse to them upon their deathbeds, when they are launching into the main of immortality, than any rough east wind ( Euroaquilo ), or than any Euroclydon, that wind mentioned Acts 27:14 , that hath its name from stirring up storms, and is by Pliny called navigantium pestis, the mariner’s misery, una eurus notusque ruunt (Virg.). An empty body meeting with tempests will have much ado to bear up. If Ephraim first feed upon wind, and then fall under the east wind, it must needs go hard with him. The godly man, who is filled with all the fulness of God, Ephesians 3:19 , shall have him for a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall, Isaiah 25:4 . His prayer is that of Jeremiah, Jeremiah 17:17 , "Be not thou a terror unto me, O Lord: thou art my hope in the day of evil." If the wind be not got into the earth, and stir not there, storms and tempests abroad cannot make an earthquake; no more can afflictions, or death, a heart attack, where there is peace with God. Such a man’s mind, immota manet, is as Mount Zion, which cannot be removed.

He daily increaseth lies and desolation ] This being the fruit and consequence of those; for flagitium et flagellum sicut acus et filum, sin and punishment are inseparable companions. "Woe unto them! for they have fled from me: destruction unto them! because they have transgressed against me," Hosea 7:13 . See Trapp on " Hos 7:13 " To heap up lies is to hasten desolation. "A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall perish," Proverbs 19:9 . They tell us of a threefold lie, i.e. a merry lie, an officious lie, and a pernicious lie. But the truth is, every lie is pernicious; and a man should rather die than lie. He that lieth in jest may go to hell for it in earnest. Jacob told his father an officious threefold lie, and scarce ever had a merry day after it, Genesis 27:19 . God followed him with one sorrow upon another, to teach him and us what an evil and a bitter thing it is to cumulate lies, as here, and how it ensnares and ensnarles us.

And they do make a covenant with the Assyrian, and oil is carried into Egypt ] That is, all precious and pleasant substance was carried for a present, to make room for them. Oil is instanced, as the chief staple commodity of the land, see Eze 27:17 and in Egypt very scarce. This sin of theirs in seeking to other nations, and relying on the arm of flesh, is often reproved and threatened throughout this prophecy, see Hosea 5:13 ; Hosea 7:11 ; Hosea 9:8 ; Hosea 10:4 ; Hos 11:5 to teach God’s ministers to continue crying out against the prevailing sins of the people, and never give over, till they see a reformation wrought among them. "The Cretians are always liars," &c. "Rebuke them sharply," saith the apostle, Titus 1:12-13 ; yea, be instant and constant, in season and out of season, using the same liberty in beating down sin that men do to commit it. Chrysostom told his hearers at Antioch that till they stopped their swearing he would never stop preaching against it.

Verse 2

Hos 12:2 The LORD hath also a controversy with Judah, and will punish Jacob according to his ways; according to his doings will he recompense him.

Ver. 2. The Lord hath also a controversy with Judah ] Lest the prophet should be thought partial in the law, Malachi 2:9 , See Trapp on " Mal 2:9 " and lest Ephraim should say of Judah, as once Oded did of Israel, "Are there not with them, even with them also, sins against the Lord?" 2 Chronicles 28:10 . The prophet answers by way of concession, that there were so indeed; and that therefore God had a controversy with them, a litigation, or disceptation: he was expostulating with them by words, and some lighter strokes, notwithstanding he had commended them before, as ruling with God, and retaining his pure worship. God would take his time to deal with them too for their many impieties, and especially for running to Egypt for help, as they did in the days of Ahaz and Zedekiah, see Isaiah 30:2 ; Isaiah 31:1 ; but because they were not yet so bad as the ten tribes, nor so desperately wicked, therefore the Lord was yet but pleading with them; he had not passed sentence, he was not resolved upon their ruin and utter extirpation, Hosea 4:15 ; Hosea 5:5-14 ; Hosea 6:11 ; as he was for the ten tribes, those foul apostates and shameless covenantbreakers; concerning whom he saith, and is set upon it,

I will punish Jacob according to his ways ] See the like words Hosea 4:9 . See Trapp on " Hos 4:9 " He calls them Jacob, because they gloried much in him, their progenitor; as did likewise the Samaritans that succeeded them, John 4:12 . So did the Jews in Micah 2:7 . But the prophet Hosea answereth them in effect (as there) by proving a disparity. "O thou that art named the house of Jacob" (that wilt needs be named so, and therein pridest thyself), "is the Spirit of the Lord straitened?" (ye are not surely straitened in him, but in your own bowels, that ye express Jacob no better, that ye resemble him no more). "Are these his doings?" was Jacob a man of your practices? No; a for he left no means unattempted that he might attain the blessing; he strove for it with his brother in the womb, βρεφος , afterwards with the angel, against whom with much wrestling and raising of dust he prevailed, as it followeth in the two next verses.

a Odiosum et impium dogma Anabaptistarum, qui ideo pueris baptismum negant, quia sensu ac mente careant. Luther in loc.

Verse 3

Hos 12:3 He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength he had power with God:

Ver. 3. He took his brother by the heel in the womb ] To have hindered him if he could of the first birthright; so desirous he showed himself so soon of that desirable privilege and the promises annexed. Whence we may learn (saith one) that God taketh care even of unborn babes, that belong to him, and worketh strangely in them sometimes, as he did in the Baptist, Luke 1:44 , the child leaped in the womb, by a supernatural motion; he leaped more like a suckling at the breast, as the word signifieth, than an unborn embryo. Mention had been made in the former verse of the name of Jacob; here we have the etymology, or reason of that name; He took his brother by the heel, or foot sole, as if he would have turned up his heels and got to the goal before him. Hence his name was called Jacob, Genesis 25:26 , that is, calcanearins, or heel catcher, as if he would have pulled his brother back; or presage of what he should afterwards do, viz. supplant Esau, and get the pre-eminence both of birthright and blessing, Genesis 27:36 , and with it a fruit, an instance of God’s free grace, in preferring Jacob (when he could not yet do anything that was good) before Esau, though he were the elder, stronger, stouter, a manly child, a man already, as his name importeth, one that had everything more like a man than a babe. See Malachi 1:2 . See Trapp on " Mal 1:2 " And observe, that God here upbraideth Jacob’s degenerate brood with his benefits toward him, their forefather, whereof they now walked so utterly unworthily.

And by his strength ] By his hard labour, say the Seventy, εν κοπω αυτου : but better, by, or in, his strength, that is, by the supply of the spirit of Jesus Christ, Philippians 1:19 , and by the power of the Almighty, casting him down with the one hand, and bearing him up with the other.

He had power with God ] Heb. he played the prince with God, fortiter et fideliter se gessit, he bore himself bravely, and had strength with God. He doth not lie down sullen and discouraged, but wrestleth with excellent wrestlings; he held with his hands, when his joints were out of joint. He wrestled in the night and alone, and when God was leaving him, and upon one leg, and prevailed, as it is in the next verse. This he did partly by his bodily strength elevated, for he was a very strong man, as appeareth, Genesis 29:10 , by his rolling the great stone from the well’s mouth; but principally by the force of his faith put forth in prayer, which can work wonders. Oh, it is a sweet thing indeed to be strengthened with might by the Spirit in the inner man, Ephesians 3:16 . O quam hic homo, non est omnium! This is the generation of them that seek him: that seek thy face, this is Jacob, Psalms 24:6 ; yea, this is Israel, for so God knighted him, as it were, in the field for his good service, and new named him, Genesis 32:28 . Neither were the faithful ever since called Abrahamites, or Isaacites, but Israelites, for honour’s sake.

Verse 4

Hos 12:4 Yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed: he wept, and made supplication unto him: he found him [in] Bethel, and there he spake with us;

Ver. 4. Yea, he had power over the angel ] That Angel of the covenant, Malachi 3:1 , the Angel of the great council ( μεγαλης βουλης αγγελος ), as the Seventy render Isaiah 9:6 , the Lord Christ, who redeemed Jacob from all evil, Genesis 48:16 , and is called Elohim in the former verse. Jacob is reproved for asking his name, an argument of his majesty. God, as he surmounteth all creatures, and hath no parallel, so he surpasseth all notion, and is above all name. The Africans call him Amon, that is, Heus, tu, cluis es? Our best eloquence of him is a humble silence: or if we say anything, to say as in the next verse following, Jehovah, God of hosts, Jehovah is his memorial.

And prevailed ] Sept. εδυνασθη . He had power, or got the better, Christ yielding himself overcome by the prayers of the patriarch: "for the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much," saith St James. There is a kind of omnipotence in it, saith Luther, of whom also that saying passed among his friends, Iste vir potuit apud Deum quod voluit, That man could do what he would with God. The reason whereof is given by St Jerome, in these words, Deus ipse qui nullis contra so viribus superari potest, precibus, vincitur; that is, God himself, who is otherwise insuperable, may be overcome by prayers ( Invictum vincunt vota precesque Deum ); provided that men persevere in prayer as Jacob did, holding out till the morning light, and growing more resolute toward the latter end than he had been before.

He wept and made supplication ] Jacob did (not the angel, as Mercer and Drusins would carry it). His wrestling was by weeping, and his prevailing by praying.

Verbum, preces, et lachrymae,

Miserae arma sunt Ecclesiae. ”

We read not till this text of his weeping for the blessing (no more we do of the earthquake in Hezekiah’s days, till Amo 1:1 Zec 14:4-5 ), but this we know, that ardent prayer is a pouring out of the soul to God, not without a shower of tears, or at least a storm of sighs. And as music upon the water sounds farther and more harmoniously than upon the land, so prayers with tears are more pleasing to God, and prevalent with him. Christ could not but look back to those weeping women that followed him to the cross, and comfort them. Tears of compassion and of compunction, when men love and weep, as Mary Magdalen did, are very acceptable to God, who puts them into his bottle as precious. There are tears of another sort, lachrimae nequitiae, tears of wickedness, expressed either by hypocrisy or a desire of revenge: such were Esau’s tears for the blessing too, Genesis 27:38 , but he went without it, because he was a profane hypocrite; he cried out of discontent, and threatened his brother Jacob; he complained of his father’s store, (Hast thou but one blessing?) of his brother’s subtilty, (was he not rightly called Jacob?) but not a word of his own wickedness. He roared for the disquietness of his heart, but he did not, as Jacob, weep and make supplication to his Judge, deploring his own wants, and imploring the supplies of his grace, quam unice expetiit, as the main thing he desired.

He found him in Bethel ] That is, the Lord found Jacob there, Genesis 28:18-19 ; but especially, Genesis 35:14-15 , confirming his promises to him and all his posterity.

There he spake with us ] Who were then in Jacob’s loins, and promised that God should be our God; but we have falsified with him, and turned Bethel into Bethaven; abusing that place to idolatry and calf worship, where we, in our forefathers, had so many manifestations of Divine mercy. Oh better he had never spoken with us there than that we should have so slighted his promises, cast his words behind our backs, and wickedly departed from our God. Is this Jacob-like? &c. There he spake with us. What he spake with Jacob he spake with us; and we are to hold ourselves no less concerned therein than he was. See a like expression Psalms 66:6 . See likewise Rom 15:4 Hebrews 13:5 . What God spake to Joshua, Joshua 1:5 , he spake to all believers. And that which he spake to his afflicted, Psalms 102:17 , "He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer," that he spake to us: for, Psalms 102:18 , "This shall be written for the generations to come." The Hebrews have a proverb, Quae patribus acciderunt signum sunt filiis, What things befell the fathers, those were a sign to their children; and thence it is that the deeds of the fathers are often attributed to the children. Let us labour to see our own names written upon every promise; and secure our interest by searching for the conditions whereunto the promises are annexed; and then put them in suit by faithful prayer, saying with David, "Remember thy word unto thy servant, whereupon thou hast caused me to trust."

Verse 5

Hos 12:5 Even the LORD God of hosts; the LORD [is] his memorial.

Ver. 5. Even the Lord God of hosts ] Lo, he it is who promised, who spake with us at Bethel; even that Jehovah, who is himself unchangeable and Almighty; whose promises are eternal and infallible; who will perform with his hand what he hath spoken with his mouth, to the thousandth generation of those that return unto him. Concerning God’s name, Jehovah, See Trapp on " Mal 3:6 " Concerning his title, God of hosts, See Trapp on " Mal 3:17 " Doct. 1.

The Lord is his memorial ] Jehovah is that nomen maiestativum (as Tertullian hath it), that holy and reverend name of God, Psalms 111:9 , whereby he will be known and remembered, Exodus 3:15 , which place doth notably illustrate this. True it is that the Jews, to countenance their conceit of the ineffability of this name Jehovah, do corrupt that text; and for this is my name, Legnolam, for ever, they read, this is my name, Legnalam, to be concealed. Where it is well observed by one, how cross the superstition of men is to the will of God. They, in a pretended reverence to God, will not so much as mention this name, because they say it is a name that God so much glorieth in; and yet the text saith, this name is God’s memorial; it is the name by which he would be remembered to all generations, as that which setteth forth his glory more than any other name whatsoever. So that when we would have a holy memorial of God (and to remember him is every whit as needful as to draw breath, saith an ancient, tam Dei meminisse opus est quam respirare. Nazianzen) we need no images or other unwarrantable helps: the meditation of the name Jehovah, and the import of it, will be of singular use that way. Papists have their pictures and their memories, as they call them; idolaters feign to themselves various representations and remembrances. "Behind the doors also and the posts hast thou set up thy remembrances," Isaiah 57:8 , where God’s law should have been written, according to Deuteronomy 6:9 ; Deuteronomy 11:12 , and whereas God’s name should have been remembered, Psa 135:13 Psalms 102:12 .

Verse 6

Hos 12:6 Therefore turn thou to thy God: keep mercy and judgment, and wait on thy God continually.

Ver. 6. Therefore turn thou to thy God ] The premises considered, repent; and so return to God, from whom thou hast deeply revolted. It is "to thy God" to whom thou art exhorted to turn; not to a tyrant, but to a God in covenant; yea, it is "with thy God" (as the Hebrew hath it), with his good help, that thou shalt turn. Only cry unto him, Turn us, Lord, and we shall be turned, draw us, and we will run after thee. Of turning to the Lord see the note on Zechariah 1:3 .

Keep mercy and judgment ] Those magnalia legis, those weightier matters of the law (as our Saviour calleth them, Mat 23:23 ) which Ephraim had made light of, Hos 4:1 He is therefore called upon to evidence the truth of his turning to God, by bringing forth fruits meet for repentance, Matthew 3:8 , such as are tantamount, and weigh just as much as repentance comes to. Optima et aptissima poenitentia est nova vita, saith Luther; The best and most fit repentance is a new life, universal obedience to both tables of the law. Mercy and judgment are here put (by a figure) for the duties of the second table; as constant waiting upon God for the duties of the first; for the prophet here observeth not the order of nature, but of our knowledge, when he instanceth first in the second table, as doth also the prophet Micah, Hosea 6:8 . Mercy must be kept and exercised, by 1. Giving, 2. Forgiving ( donando, condonando ). This, God prefers before sacrifice, Hosea 6:7 . This, Chrysostom saith, is a more glorious work than to raise from the dead. And here let those that would keep mercy (and not show it only sometimes, when they are in a good mood) steep their thoughts in the mercies of God; and so strive to be merciful, as their heavenly Father is, Matthew 6:24-34 . Judgment also must be kept, and justice done, Isaiah 56:1 , after the example of God, who is said to "exercise lovingkindness," but with all "judgment and righteousness in the earth," Jeremiah 9:24 . "Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful," Psalms 116:5 : the mixture of mercy and judgment is very comely; as in public persons, Psalms 101:1 (where we see that David’s ditty was composed of discords, which made an excellent harmony), so in others of all sorts, Proverbs 21:21 , who are required to be mercifully just and justly merciful in all their interdealings; according to that golden rule, given by our Saviour, Luke 6:31 , "Whatever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye to them likewise." This is the standard.

And wait on thy God continually ] First, believe him to be thy God by a particular individuating faith; and then thou wilt be easily drawn to wait upon him, who waiteth to be gracious; or to draw near unto him (as the Seventy here render it, εγγιζε ), and "come boldly to the throne of grace," Hebrews 4:16 ; for as the ark of the covenant and the mercy seat were never separated, so neither is the mercy of God from those that are in covenant with him, and can truly call him theirs. Hope is compared to a line (the same Hebrew word that signifieth the one signifieth the other), and waiting on God is nothing else but hope and trust lengthened or drawn out. Sure it is that trust in God at length will triumph; and all his dispensations will appear beautiful in their season. Hold out therefore faith and patience. "Wait upon the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thy heart: wait, I say, upon the Lord," Psalms 27:14 . Ponder that sweet promise, Habakkuk 2:3 , not delivered only, but doubled and trebled for more surety. And then consider, first, thy distance from God in worth and degree; next, thy dependence upon him, thine undone condition if he desert thee and then thou wilt be content to wait upon him continually, to stay his leisure, as David did for the kingdom, and as those in Esther did for deliverance; to say with those good souls in the Acts, "The will of the Lord be done."

Verse 7

Hosea 12:7 [He is] a merchant, the balances of deceit [are] in his hand: he loveth to oppress.

Ver. 7. He is a merchant ] Heb. He is Canaan that is, a mere natural man, Ezekiel 16:3 , money merchant, who, so he may have it, careth not how he comes by it; he is more like a Canaanite than a Jacobite. Jacob said, "I have enough, my brother"; but Ephraim is sick of the plague of unsatisfiableness; and instead of keeping mercy and judgment, as in the former verse, he keepeth false balances in his hand and false weights in his bag, Deu 15:13-15 Lev 19:36 Proverbs 11:1 ; Proverbs 16:11 ; Proverbs 20:10 See Trapp on " Pro 11:1 " See Trapp on " Pro 16:11 " See Trapp on " Pro 20:10 " He that hath his hands full of the balances of deceit, and will not loose them to take hold of God, will not part with his fat and sweet (as the vine and olive in Jotham’s parable), though it be to reign in heaven how can it be expected that he should turn to God, or that he should love to be his servant in Isaiah 56:6 .

When he loveth to oppress ] To get gain, if not by fraud and cunning contrivance, then by force, and by forged cavillation, as Luke 19:8 . Sic quaecunque potest arte nocere, nocet and all this he loveth to do; he delights in it he not only is pleased with it, but pleadeth for it, and opposeth with crest and breast whatsoever standeth in the way of his own heart; exercised with covetousness (as St Peter’s phrase is, 2Pe 2:14 ), which he constantly followeth as the artificer doth his trade. Let such Canaanites read that flaming text, 1Th 4:6 and take heed, lest while they get all they can by wrench and wile, lest while they count all good fish that comes to net, they catch at length the devil and all; lest they receive no less sums of curses than of coin; lest screechowls of woe cry aloud, from the beams of their chambers, &c. See Trapp on " Hos 7:1 "

Verse 8

Hos 12:8 And Ephraim said, Yet I am become rich, I have found me out substance: [in] all my labours they shall find none iniquity in me that [were] sin.

Ver. 8. And Ephraim said, Yet I am become rich ] Sed mihi plaudo domi. I have it howsoever though I hear ill for it; though the prophet inveigh against my covetousness, yet I am rich while he and his companions are poor and indigent.

Yea, I have found me out substance ] An idol so the Vulgate renders it; and, indeed, every covetous man is an idolater, Ephesians 5:5 , and performs both outward and inward service to his mammon of unrighteousness, to his golden calf. Substance he here creaks of, and rest to his soul (as the Seventy render it, ευρηκα αναψυχην εμαυτω ), in opposition haply to the airy notions (as he accounted them) of the prophet’s invectives against his covetous practices, and the terrors of his own conscience, which he endeavoured to corrupt and bribe. See, to like purpose, Isaiah 57:10 , "Thou hast found the life of thy hand," that is, a livelihood by thy labour; "therefore thou wast not grieved": thy heart is hardened, and thou art insensible of thy sin guiltiness; thou settest the gain against the guilt, and then all is hail with thee. Felix scelus virtus vocatur; Prosperous wickedness is accounted virtue. Leah, because fruitful and successful, rejoiced in that whereof she had greater reason to repent. So did those idolaters, Jeremiah 44:11 . Dionysius, after the spoil of an idol temple, finding the winds favourable in his navigation; Lo, said he, how the gods approve of sacrilege. It is no better that Ephraim here deals with the Almighty: Surely, saith he, if God disliked my courses so much as the prophet would make believe, I should not gather wealth as I do; but the world comes tumbling in upon me, therefore my ways are good before God. This is an ordinary paralogism, a whereby wicked worldlings deceive their own souls; hardening and heartening themselves in their sinful practices, because they outwardly prosper. But a painted face is no sign of a good complexion. Seneca could say, that it is the greatest unhappiness to prosper in evil.

In all my labours ] So he calleth his fraudulent and violent practices, as making the best of an ill matter.

They shall find no iniquity in me ] Though they search as narrowly as Laban did into Jacob’s stuff; what can they find, or prove by me? Am I not able either to hide mine ill dealings, or to defend them? Can they take the advantage of the law against me? Why, then, should I be thus condemned and cried out of as I am? thus "The rich man is wise in his own conceit," Proverbs 28:11 , and covetousness is never without its cloak, 1 Thessalonians 2:5 , which yet is too short to cover it from God, who is not mocked with masks, or fed with feigned words, whereof the covetous caitiff is full, 2 Peter 2:3 . Witness Ephraim here, with his pretences of innocence: "In all my labours," that is, mine ill gotten goods (the fruit of my hard and honest labour, saith he), "they shall find none iniquity," no crimen stellionatus, no craft or cruelty.

That were sin ] Piaculum esset, that were a foul business; far be it from me to stain my trading or burden my conscience with any such misdeed. I would you should know I am as shy of sin as another: neither would I be taken tripping for any good. Thus men, notoriously guilty, may yet give good words, yea, largely profess what they are guilty of to be an abominable thing; and this is a sure sign of a profane and cauterized conscience, of a heart that being first turned into earth and mud, doth afterwards freeze and congeal into steel and adamant.

a A piece of false or erroneous reasoning; an illogical argument; a faulty syllogism; a fallacy, esp. (as distinct from sophism ) one of which the reasoner himself is unconscious. ŒD

Verse 9

Hos 12:9 And I [that am] the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt will yet make thee to dwell in tabernacles, as in the days of the solemn feast.

Ver. 9. And I that am thy Lord God from the land of Egypt ] This seemeth to be interlaced for the comfort of the better sort, that trembled at the former threatenings; for as in a family if the dogs be beaten the children will be apt to cry, so is it in God’s house. Hence he is capable to take out the precious from the vile, and telleth them that he hath not cast off his people whom he foreknew; but would surely observe his ancient covenant, made even in the land of Egypt towards his spiritual Israel.

I will yet make them to dwell in tabernacles, &c. ] i.e. I will deliver my Church from the spiritual Egypt, and make her to pass through the wilderness of the world, in particular Churches, aspiring toward the heavenly Canaan; even as my people dwelt in tents in the wilderness, the remembrance whereof is celebrated in the feast of tabernacles, Leviticus 23:43 . See Zechariah 14:16 . See Trapp on " Zec 14:16 "

Verse 10

Hos 12:10 I have also spoken by the prophets, and I have multiplied visions, and used similitudes, by the ministry of the prophets.

Ver. 10. I have also spoken by the prophets ] And not suffered you to walk in your own ways, as did all other nations, Acts 14:16 . The ministry is a singular mercy, however now vilipended, critized Isaiah 30:20 .

And I have multiplied visions ] Whereby I have discovered thy present sins and imminent dangers, though thou hast said, "They shall find none iniquity in me," &c. The wit of mammonists will better serve them to palliate and plead for their dilectum delictum, their beloved sin, than their pride will suffer them once to confess and forsake it, though never so plainly and plentifully set forth unto them.

And used similitudes by the ministry of the prophets ] Heb. by the hand, which is the instrument of instruments ( οργανον οργανων ), saith the philosopher; so is the ministry of the word for the good of souls. It is called a hand, because it sets upon men’s souls with the strength of God, and a certain vehemence. "Did not my word lay hold upon your fathers?" Zechariah 1:6 . See Trapp on " Zec 1:6 " It is said, Luke 5:17 , that as Christ was teaching the power of the Lord was present. "The gospel of Christ is the power of God," Romans 1:16 ; it is his mighty arm, Isaiah 53:1 . Now it was ordinary with the prophets to use similitudes, as Isa 5:2 Ezekiel 16:3 , which is an excellent way of preaching and prevailing; as that which doth both notably illustrate the truth, and insinuate into men’s affections. Galeatius Caraeciolus, an Italian Marquis, and nephew to Pope Paul V, was converted by Peter Martyr, reading on 1 Corinthians 1:1-31 . and using an apt similitude. Ministers must turn themselves into all forms and shapes, both of spirit and of speech, for the reaching of their hearers’ hearts; they must come unto them in the most wooing, winning, and convincing way that may be. Only in using of similes, they must, 1. Bring them from things known and familiar, things that their hearers are most acquainted with and accustomed to. Thus the prophets draw comparisons from fishes to the Egyptians, vineyards to the Jews, droves of cattle to the Arabians, trade and traffic to the Egyptians. And thus that great apostle, 1 Corinthians 9:24 , fetcheth similes from runners and wrestlers, exercises that they were well acquainted with in the Isthmian games, instituded by Theseus, not far from their city. 2. Similes must be very natural, plain, and proper. 3. They must not be too far urged; we must not wit wanton it in using them: and let it be remembered, that though they much illustrate a truth, yet theologia parabolica nihil probat. theologial comparisions prove nothing. There are interpreters of good note that read this whole verse in the future tense and make a continuation of that promise in the verse before. I will speak by the prophets, sc. in the days of the gospel, when "great was the company of those that published it," Psalms 68:11 . I will multiply visions. See this fulfilled Act 2:17 cf. Joel 2:28 . I will use similitudes, teach in parables, and illustrate therewith grave sentences and doctrines, as Christ and his apostles did, and as the best preachers still do, that they may thereby set forth things to the life, and make them as plain as if written with the sunbeams.

Verse 11

Hosea 12:11 [Is there] iniquity [in] Gilead? surely they are vanity: they sacrifice bullocks in Gilgal; yea, their altars [are] as heaps in the furrows of the fields.

Ver. 11. Is there iniquity in Gilead ] What, in Gilead, a city of priests? Hos 6:8 See Trapp on " Hos 6:8 " yea, Gilead is a city of those that work iniquity, a very Poneropolis, a place of naughty packs, Hosea 4:15 . Now there is not a worse creature on earth than a wicked priest, nor a worse place than a wicked Gilead. The Hebrew hath it thus, Is Gilead iniquity? Or as Luther, Drusius, and others, Surely it is so ( אם certe, vere, profecto ). Confer Micah 1:5 . Gregory Nazianzen reports of Athens, that it was the plaguiest place in the world for superstition. Our universities were so in times of Popery, and began to be so again a few years since. Revera Gilead est iniquitas, profecto vanitas sunt, they were grown so incorrigibly flagitious that they seemed to be, as it were, transformed into sin’s image. Some render the text thus: "Is there iniquity in Gilead? Are they only vanity in Gilgal? They sacrificed bullocks," and set this sense upon it. What? think you the men of Gilead, those beyond the river of Jordan, whom Tiglathpileser spoiled and led captives, that they only were guilty of idolatry, and you not, because you remain at home, untouched of the Assyrian? Nay, saith he, the very entrance into the country, Gilgal itself, so aboundeth with idolatry, that it is not to be doubted but in the rest of the parts of the kingdom their altars are as thick as furrows in the field, that is to say, innumerable. Some think this last clause, "their altars are as heaps in the furrows of the field" (or of my fields, whereof I am chief Lord, and wherein he should have served me, and not idols), hath reference to some superstitious way of theirs, of seeking God by erecting altars in the furrows, for the fructifying of their fields: the heathen did so to their Dii Terminales; boundary gods, and the Papists still do so in their solemn processions, erecting crosses and crucifixes in the bounds of their fields, and thereby thinking to get a blessing on their corn and pastures. Tarnovius noteth here, that God in the Old Testament would therefore have but one altar whereon to offer sacrifice, and that to be at Jerusalem only; to teach them that Christ, the anti-type of all their sacrifices, should once be offered up upon the altar of his cross, a propitiation for their sins, Hebrews 9:1-28 ; Hebrews 10:1-39 . This altar he also appointed to be in the temple, that the sacrificers might believe the gracious presence of God with them, and might worship him in spirit and in truth.

Verse 12

Hos 12:12 And Jacob fled into the country of Syria, and Israel served for a wife, and for a wife he kept [sheep].

Ver. 12. And Jacob fled into the country of Syria ] Jacob, in whom ye glory, was a poor forlorn fugitive, glad to run for his life, and to take hard on for his livelihood, Genesis 28:1-22 ; Genesis 29:1-35 . This they were bound by the law to make confession of ever when they offered their basket of firstfruits, and to say, "A Syrian ready to perish was my father," &c., Deuteronomy 26:5 ; that, considering the meanness of their origin, they might not boast of their ancestry, but magnify God’s free grace in their present enjoyments; and say, as that noble Athenian general, Iphicrates, did, in the midst of all his triumphs, εξ οιων εις οια , from how great baseness and misery to what great blessedness and glory are we exalted! King Agathocles would be served in earthen vessels, to remind him of his father, who was a poor potter. Willigis, Archbishop of Mentz, A.D. 1011, being a wheelwright’s son, hanged wheels and wheel wrights’ tools round about his bedchamber, and underwrote in capital letters, Willigis,!! Willigis,!! recole unde veneris, Remember thine origins (Bucholcer). How low and mean were we of this nation at first! Brith signifieth blue-coloured, sc. with woad; hence our name Britains. This was their fine clothing; their food was bark of trees and roots. Holinshed saith, that some old men he knew, who told of times in England, that if the good man of the house had a mattress, or a flock bed, and a sack of chaff to rest his head on, he thought himself as well lodged as the lord of the town; for ordinarily, they lay upon straw pallets covered with canvas, and a round log under their heads instead of a bolster; they said pillows were fit only for women in childbed; and in a good farmer’s house it was rare to find four pieces of pewter; and it was accounted a great matter that a farmer should show five shillings, or a noble, together in silver. There are those who render the text thus: Thither fled Jacob out of the country of Syria, after Israel had served for a wife, and for a wife had kept sheep.

And Israel served for a wife ] He had nothing to endow her with, he would therefore earn her with his hard labour; wherein he showed singular humility, patience, meekness, waiting upon God’s providence; none of all which graces were found in his degenerate posterity, who yet prided themselves in their father Jacob.

And for a wife he kept sheep ] q.d. Jacob, that he might obey his father, was content to serve his uncle, and to suffer a great deal of wrong from him; but ye refuse to serve me though a liberal lord, a bountiful benefactor, He held close to me in that hard service; but you, abusing your liberty, enslave yourselves to false gods. He in his misery kept his confidence of the blessing; but you in your prosperity cast it clean away, &c. Luther upon this text speaketh much about the blessing of a good wife (a commodity that cannot be too dearly bought), and the plague of a scold that is always railing and wrangling, Cum qua perpetuo rixandum. The heathen well saith, that every man when he marrieth bringeth either a good or an evil spirit into his house; and so maketh it either a heaven or a hell. Pareus well observeth here, the great use of histories and holy examples, according to Romans 15:4 . Plato (in Cratylo) thinks that historia comes παρα το ισταναι τον ρουν , of stopping the flux of errors and enormities.

Verse 13

Hos 12:13 And by a prophet the LORD brought Israel out of Egypt, and by a prophet was he preserved.

Ver. 13. And by a prophet the Lord brought Israel out of Egypt ] That is, Gilead served as a sanctuary unto Jacob, when he fled from Laban. In Gilgal also God by Joshua renewed his covenant with your fathers, after he had brought them out of Egypt, by the hand of Moses and Aaron. A horrible thing therefore it is, if well considered, that these two places should now be so impured with idolatry, and become the nurseries of evil, which heretofore were the means of so great comfort to God’s people. Thus Junius, Polanus, and others. A witty interpretation, but somewhat forced. By Moses, that prophet, by an excellency; as Aristotle is called the philosopher, Cicero the orator, Paul the apostle, Calvin the most learned interpreter, &c. Moses was a famous prophet indeed, and a type of Christ. Confer Deuteronomy 18:15 ; Deuteronomy 18:18 ; Deu 34:10-12 Acts 3:22 ; Acts 7:35-38 . Theodoret calleth him the great ocean of divinity, τον της θεολογαις Wκεανον . Bellarmine, God’s special favourite, than whom antiquity had nihil sapientius, sanctius, mitius, none more wise, meek, and holy; indeed, titles of honour are not worthy of him. Howbeit he was but a mean man at first; Exodus 4:20 , "He took his wife and his son and set them upon an ass"; that was the best and the only beast that he had, for aught we read. It was not very likely that so poor a prophet should do so great a deed. But God loves to help his people with a little help, Daniel 11:34 , that through weaker means his greater strength may appear. His end here may seem to be the same as before, in setting forth Jacob’s meanness, to take down the haughtiness of the people, proud of their founders and forefathers. A prophet he is purposely called, and his name concealed: 1. To show that the work was done not by might nor by power, but by God’s Spirit, Zechariah 4:6 Zechariah 4:2 . To show what God will do for his people by the prayers and for the sake of his prophets, when they are most shiftless and hopeless; 3. To let this unworthy people see how much God had done for them once by a prophet, how little soever now they set by such. This is Cyrus’ observation.

Verse 14

Hos 12:14 Ephraim provoked [him] to anger most bitterly: therefore shall he leave his blood upon him, and his reproach shall his Lord return unto him.

Ver. 14. Ephraim hath provoked him to anger, most bitterly ] Heb. with bitterness, or unto bitter displeasure, or with bitter things, that is, sins that embitter God’s Spirit and put thunderbolts into his hands. Excusserunt ex suavissimo pectore meo suavitatem. As a bee stings not till provoked, so neither doth God punish till there be no remedy, 2 Chronicles 36:16 . If Ephraim will provoke him to anger (which he will not dare to do to his landlord), if he will put it to the trial, whether God can be angry, as those did ( εδοκιμασαν ), Hebrews 3:9 , he shall know the power of his wrath, Psalms 90:11 , he shall feel, to his sorrow, that it is an evil thing and bitter, that he hath forsaken the Lord, and that his fear is not in them, Jeremiah 2:19 . There will be bitterness in the end. Principium dulce est, sed finis amoris amarus. Amor amaror. Lust is a lie, as Amnon proved. "Her end is bitter as wormwood, though her lips drop as an honeycomb," saith Solomon of sinful pleasure, Proverbs 5:3 . It is like Jonathan’s honey, or Esau’s pottage, or Judas’ thirty pence, which he would gladly have been rid of, but could not. Those that provoke God shall one day hear, "Do ye provoke me to anger? Are ye stronger than I?" they shall be taught to meddle with their match, and not to contend with him that is mightier than they, Ecclesiastes 6:10 ; they shall cry out in the bitterness of their souls, as Lamentations 3:15 , "He hath filled me with bitternesses, he hath made me drunk with wormwood." And God shall reply, as Jeremiah 4:18 , "Thy way and thy doings have procured these things unto thee; and this is thy wickedness, because it is bitter."

Therefore shall he leave his blood upon him ] God shall bring upon him deserved destruction; he shall bring him into the fire, and leave him there, Ezekiel 22:20 ; the guilt of his sin shall remain upon his soul, and then punishment cannot be far off. See Ezekiel 24:7-8 ; cf. Eze 18:13 Joshua 2:19 . Or, the enemy shall leave him all bloody.

And his reproach shall his Lord return unto him ] His Lord, not the Assyrian, as some sense it, but his liege lord (whom he hath reproached, by changing his glory into the similitude of a calf, and other corruptible things), shall cry quittance with him, as Hosea 12:2 , cast utter contempt upon him, according to 1 Samuel 2:30 , and make him know that he is his Lord.

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Hosea 12". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/hosea-12.html. 1865-1868.
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