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Bible Commentaries
Hosea 6

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

Verse 1

Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up.

Come, and let us return unto the Lord, … — So sweetly was God’s expectation answered, as likewise it was in David, Psalms 27:8 . No sooner could God say "Seek ye my face," but his holy heart answered (as it were by an echo), "Thy face, Lord, will I seek." Look, what God aimeth at in his administration to his elect he will have it; he will have out the price of his Son’s blood, who gave "himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity," Titus 2:14 , "and that he might give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins," Acts 5:31 . See the proof and practice hereof in these Jewish converts, "Come, and let us return to the Lord," … See how "in those days, and at that time, the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping: they shall go, and seek the Lord their God. They shall ask the way to Zion with their faces thitherward, saying, Come, and let us join ourselves to the Lord in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten," Jeremiah 50:4-5 . Judah and Israel could not agree at other times; but when they are in a weeping condition then they could; when they passed through the valley of Baca, and made it a Bochim with their penitent tears, even they could go "from strength to strength," or from company to company (one company coming this way, and another that), and not rest until "every one of them in Zion appeareth before God," Psalms 84:6-7 . This was fulfilled, partly when the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion out of Babylon, and those that had sown in tears reaped in joy; those that went forth weeping and bearing precious seed came again with rejoicing and brought their sheaves with them, Psalms 126:5-6 cf. Jeremiah 29:13 ; partly, under their captivity and oppression by the Romans, which was the time in which Christ came and by his apostles converted thousands to the faith, so that multitudes of them were daily added to the Church, Acts 2:41 ; Acts 2:47 And, lastly, at that long looked for calling of the Jews; when they shall flee to Christ crucified "as the doves unto their windows," Isaiah 60:8 ; when they shall "bring their brethren as an offering to the Lord upon horses, in chariots, and in litters": that is, though sick, weakly, and unfit for travel, yet rather in litters than not at all; every one exciting others, and saying, "Come, and let us return unto the Lord," … Return "unto him, from whom the children of Israel have deeply, revolted," Isaiah 31:6 . Let us not pine away in our transgressions, as these, Ezekiel 33:10 , for "yet there is hope in Israel concerning this thing," Ezra 10:2 . We have "done all this wickedness; yet let us not turn aside from following the Lord"; for this were to add rebellion to sin, 1 Samuel 12:20 , this were worse than all the rest.

Come, let us return unto the Lord — By our sins we have run from him; by repentance let us return unto him. See for this the note on Zechariah 1:2 . If the wicked have their Come, Proverbs 1:11 Isaiah 56:12 , should not the saints have theirs? as Isaiah 2:3 Zechariah 2:6 . Should not Andrew call Philip, and Philip Nathaniel, as one link in a chain doth another, … True grace is communicative, charity is no churl; the saints like not to go to heaven alone.

For he hath tornRapuit, not cepit, as the Vulgate, by a foul mistake of capio for rapio in the Hebrew Lexicons. Here these converts confess that their affliction neither came "forth of the dust," Job 5:6 , nor without their desert; they acknowledge God to be the lion that tore them, Hosea 5:14 , and not without cause; for that they had wickedly departed from him. This is one property of true repentance, still to justify God, and to say, as Mauritius the emperor did (after David) when he saw his wife and children slain by the traitor Phocas, …, "Righteous art thou, O Lord, in all thy ways, and just in all thy proceedings," Psalms 119:137 . Another property of it is to bring a man to God with some assurance of healing.

He will heal us — For he is "Jehovah the physician," Exodus 15:26 . Now omnipotenti medico nullus insanabilis occurrit morbus, saith Isidore, to an Almighty physician no disease can be incurable. Ephraim went to the Assyrian upon sight of his disease; but he could not heal him, Hosea 5:13 . But God both can and will. Here he is compared both to a physician, he will heal; and to a surgeon, he will bind up. That which the poets’ fable concerning Telephus’ spear is here only verified: Una eademque manus vulnus opemque ferat, the same holy hand that tear us must cure us; and the sound persuasion of his readiness to do it for us will soonest of anything bring us into his presence: Initium poenitentiae est sensus clementiae Dei. The beginnig of repentance is the feeling of the mercy of God. Judas confesseth his wound, and despaireth of the cure. But Peter is confirmed by the love of Christ to weep bitterly, and believe. A stroke from guilt broke Judas’ heart into despair; but a look from Christ broke Peter’s heart into tears, There is no mention of Israel’s lamenting after the Lord while he was gone; but when he was returned, and settled in Kirjathjearim, then they poured forth water, 1 Samuel 7:6 , then they gather about him and will do anything that he commandeth them. "Let us draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith," Hebrews 10:22 .

Deiecit ut relevet; premit ut solatia praestet,

Enecat, ut possit vivificare Deus. ”

Verse 2

After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.

After two days will he revive us — Whereas some of those who were called upon to "Come and return unto the Lord," might say with those in Jeremiah 18:12 , "Nay, for there is no hope," God hath mortally wounded us, so that we are already in the jaws of death, "free among the dead," as the Psalmist hath it, Psalms 88:5 , free of that company. The better sort of them, fullest of faith, answer, dead though we be, yet God will revive us; and long though it seem, yet after two days, or such a matter, in a very short time, as soon as ever it shall be convenient, and for our greatest good, "He that shall come" to our comfort, "will come, and will not tarry," Hebrews 10:37 . And for the certainty of it, as sure as the third day followeth the second, so sure shall deliverance come in due season; fear ye not.

In the third day he will raise me up — He will, he will, never doubt it. Oh, the rhetoric of God! Oh the certainty of the promises! See the like expressions, Isaiah 26:20 ; Isaiah 10:25 Haggai 2:7 Habakkuk 2:3 Hebrews 10:37 , and have patience. God’s help seems long, because we are short: Nec quia dura, sed quia molles patimur (Seneca). We should draw forth hope as a line; and think we hear Christ saying, as he did to Peter, "What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter," John 13:7 .

Verse 3

Then shall we know, [if] we follow on to know the LORD: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter [and] former rain unto the earth.

Then shall we know — Heb. And we shall know, we shall follow on to know, Sciemus sectabimurque (Vatablus). We shall experimentally know the Lord if we turn unto him; we shall taste and see that the Lord is good. We shall not only be raised "out of the dust of death," that is, of deep afflictions (wherein we "lay as among the pots"), and "live in his sight," that is, comfortably, Psalms 22:15 ; Psalms 68:13 ; but we shall know him, which is life eternal; yea, we shall prosecute knowledge, follow on to know, as unsatisfiable, and not content with any measures already required; yea, we shall proceed therein and make progress, as the morning light doth to the perfect day. Those that turn from their iniquities shall understand God’s truth, Daniel 9:13 , shall be of his counsel, Psalms 25:14 , shall have the mind of Christ, 1 Corinthians 2:16 , the wisdom of God in a mystery, 1 Corinthians 2:7 , such as the great Rabbis of the world can no more understand than the Philistines could Samson’s riddle, 1 Corinthians 2:8 , yea, these "pure in heart shall see God," Matthew 5:8 , see him and live, see him, and eat and drink, being much cheered and refreshed, as those nobles of Israel, Exodus 24:10-11 . Provided that being once enlightened, and having tasted of the heavenly gift, they be not slothful, but show the same diligence, Hebrews 6:4 ; Hebrews 6:11-12 , in the use of means to get more knowledge, till they all "come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ," Ephesians 4:13 , or (as the words may be read) of that age wherein Christ filleth all in all, Ephesians 3:19 , so as to be able to comprehend with all saints the several dimensions, and to "know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge." Lo, this is indeed to follow on to know the Lord; when we are still adding to our virtue knowledge, till (with those famous Romans) we be full of goodness, filled brimful with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another, saying, "Come, and let us return to the Lord," … "Come ye, and let us walk in the light of the Lord," Isaiah 2:5 , walk in that light we have, and we shall have more; for "to him that hath," sc. for use and practice, "shall be given," Mark 4:25 . He that first begs, and then digs for knowledge, searching for her as for hidden treasure, Proverbs 2:3-4 , he shall be sure of some daily comings in from Christ; he shall understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God, Hosea 6:5 ; Christ will say unto him, as once he did to Nathaniel, "Thou shalt see greater things then these," John 1:50 , even "great and mighty things, which thou knowest not," Jeremiah 33:3 .

His going forth is prepared as the morning — That is, as sure as the morning followeth the night, and shineth more and more unto the perfect day, so sure shall God appear for our comfort, and shall dispel the night of our calamity. Mourning lasteth but till morning, Psalms 30:5 ; and as before the morning light is the thickest darkness, so before deliverance our afflictions are usually increased upon us. God appeareth on the sudden and beyond expectation (as out of a cloud, or as out of an engine, εκ της μηχανης ), and shows himself then usually when things are at their worst. Hence that of Job, Post tenebras spero lucern; After the darkness I look for the light, and that of the Church in Micah, "Though I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me," Micah 7:8 . Vatablus applieth this text to the coming of Christ, that Day Star from on high, that Sun of righteousness, to whom all the prophets point God’s people, when they would comfort them indeed ( orietur Christus ut aurora quae adventu suo depellit tenebras ); arise Christ so that dawn with its arrival dispells the darkness, for he is the consolation of Israel, the desire of all nations, for whom their souls waited more than they that watch for the morning wait for the morning, Psalms 130:6 . But because God’s going forth is opposed to his departure, when he retired to his place, Hosea 5:10 , therefore, his settled going forth here, is by most interpreted of his manifestations of his mercy to his poor prisoners of hope, those disconsolate captives, whom he not only brought back from Babylon, but also shineth into some of their hearts, by the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

And he shall come unto us as the rain — As the showers of blessing, Ezekiel 34:26 , rain of liberalities, Psalms 68:9 , rain of righteousness, Hosea 10:12 . Cito exaudi me, Domine; complue me, saith Austin upon those words of David, my soul thirsteth after thee as a thirsty land. Hear me quickly, O Lord, rain righteousness upon my dry soul, fill me with the fruits of thy Spirit; whose work it is to illuminate and sanctify, as it is the Father’s to heal, Hosea 6:1 , and the Son’s to revive, and raise us together with himself, the firstfruits of them that sleep, Hosea 6:2 .

As the latter and former rain unto the earthsc. in perfection of gifts and graces, by degrees wrought in our hearts; or, in seasonable and suitable comforts, as rain in seedtime, softening the ground; and a little before harvest, to plump and fill up the grain in the ear.

Verse 4

O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee? for your goodness [is] as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away.

O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee, … — See how soon the prophet changeth his note. Hitherto he had set forth their repentance in sense of mercy; now all of a sudden he upbraideth and threateneth them for their incorrigibleness and inconstancy. Ministers must turn themselves, as it were, into all shapes and fashions, both of speech and spirit, to win people to God. Aaron’s bells must be wisely rung, saith one. Sometimes the treble of mercy sounds well, at other times the tenor of judgment, or counter tenor of reproof, sounds better; and it often happens that the means of exhortation soundeth best of all. It is his wisdom to observe circumstances, and know how to curse as well as bless, chide as well as comfort, and speak war to a rebel as well as peace to a friend. And herein indeed lieth the wisdom and faithfulness of a teacher. Then, and only then, shall he prove himself sincere and impartial, when he holds this course. "What shall I do unto thee?" It is as if God should say, I have done my utmost, as Isaiah 5:5 Micah 5:3 , and now am I at a stand, and can scarce tell what to do more. See the like expostulatory complaints, Jeremiah 2:30-31 Hosea 5:3 Amos 4:6 Isaiah 26:10 Matthew 11:16-18 ; Matthew 23:37 . I would, but thou wouldst not. As the loving hen is always caring for her chickens, and calling them about her, that she may gather and guard them from the mischief of all vermin; but they will needs be straggling, and so perish; so if God’s people will not hearken to his voice, if Israel will none of him, what can he do less than give them up to their own hearts’ lusts, Psalms 81:12 , yea, give them up to the devil, to be further hardened to their just destruction, saying, that which will die, let it die? All that God can do is, as here, to mourn for their obstinacy and fool-hardiness in rejecting his grace, as he wept over Jerusalem, Luke 19:42 . We should also do the like, crying out with Isaiah, "My leanness, my leanness!" and with Jeremiah, "My bowels, my bowels!" and with Paul, I have "great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart," for my perverse countrymen, Isaiah 24:16 Jeremiah 4:19 Romans 9:2 . Peter calleth them an untoward generation, Acts 2:40 ; such crooked pieces that there was no working upon them. A cunning carver can cut the similitude of any creature, yet not on a crooked or rotten stick. Where lieth the fault? surely in the crookedness of the stick, and not in the carver’s cunning: so is it here. When men wrestle with God, as Deuteronomy 32:5 , shift him off, as the apostle’s word, παραιτησησθε , signifieth, Hebrews 12:25 , take up the bucklers against the sword of his Spirit, lest it should prick them at heart, as Acts 2:37 , and let out the life blood of their lusts, that they might live; what can the Lord do in this case more than pity their unhappiness, and punish them for their stubborness, as the judge pitieth a malefactor, as he is a man, but yet condemneth him as a thief or murderer? Tell me not here, that God could have done more for Ephraim and Judah than he did; and they might have said in answer to God’s question here, as that leper in the gospel did, Why? "Lord, if thou wilt thou canst make me clean," Matthew 8:2 . Hence it is God by his absolute power can make iron swim, rocks stream forth water, stones to yield children to Abraham; he can do whatsoever he pleaseth; save without means, … But it is his actual power that men must look to. And so he (having tied the end and means together) cannot (say divines), because he will not, bring men to the end, without their using those means which tend unto the end; for that is the ordinary course which he hath decreed to use, and which he will not alter, but upon special occasion, as our Saviour noteth in the cure of Naaman, and in the feeding of the widow of Sarepta, Luke 4:26-27 .

For your goodness is as the morning cloud, … — This people hearing God say, What shall I do unto you? might possibly reply, Why? what should you do but rain down righteousness upon us, and load us with loving-kindness? for we are good all over, we have returned and done right in thy sight, as it is said of those hypocrites, Jeremiah 34:15-16 , and as Peter saith of some apostates in his time, that they were clean escaped from them who live in error; and (for matter of practice) they had also escaped the pollutions of the world; knew the way of righteousness, and seemed very forward in it; were as the fore-horses in a team, ringleaders of good exercises, …; who yet afterwards fell off to the world, turned from the holy commandments, and returned with the dog to their vomit, and with the washed sow to her wallowing again in the mire. And this is that which the Lord here upbraideth this people with (and so stops their mouths), viz., that their goodness or mercifulness, their piety toward God and charity toward men, was nothing else but a morning cloud, Judges 1:12 , a waterless cloud, as Jude hath it, a mere flaunt, or flash, an outside only, an empty sound, a vain pretence. It was also as the morning dew, which is soon dried up by the sunbeams. In a word, they were both false and fickle, unsteady and unstable, constant only in their inconstancy. Hence this pathetic complaint of them; God knew not where to have them, and therefore not what to do with them. These were never right with God, because not stedfast in his covenant, Psalms 78:36-37 ; they are unstable as water, therefore they shall not excel, Genesis 49:4 ; they never were a willing people in the day of Christ’s power, Psalms 110:3 , his power was never put forth upon them, to subdue their wills to God’s will. They never yet attained to that spirit of power, of love, and of a sound mind, 2 Timothy 1:7 . Inconstancy comes from weakness. "The strength of Israel repenteth not," 1 Samuel 15:29 .

Verse 5

Therefore have I hewed [them] by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of my mouth: and thy judgments [are as] the light [that] goeth forth.

Therefore have I hewed them by my prophets — Therefore? wherefore? because there is so little stability and solidity in them; because they are so off and on, so light and false-hearted; therefore I have spared for no pains (though all to small purpose), but have sharply rebuked them that they might be sound in the faith, Revelation 2:16 yea, I have fought against them with the sword of my mouth, and slain them by powerful convictions of conscience; so that they are self-condemned, and the judgments are written as it were with a beam of the sun, they are so clear to themselves and others. This is the coherence, and the reason of the illative particle "therefore." It is the sad complaint of a late reverend writer, when we have spent all our wind on our people their hearts will be still apt to be carried away with every wind of doctrine. They are won, saith another, with an apple, and lost with a nut; no man knows where to find them in one mind for a month’s time; such a generation of moon calves never appeared in the world before. Our giddy hearers (saith a third), after all our pains taken with them, have no mould but what the next teacher casteth them into; being blown, like glasses, into this or that shape at the pleasure of his breath.

I have hewed them by the prophets — Who are here compared to masons or stone hewers, 2 Kings 12:12 1 Chronicles 22:2 Job 19:24 Isaiah 51:1 ; to carpenters, 1 Kings 5:15 Proverbs 9:1 Isaiah 5:2 ; to day labourers, who dig pits and cisterns, Deuteronomy 6:11 ; Deuteronomy 8:9 2 Chronicles 26:10 Nehemiah 9:25 Jeremiah 2:13 . A minister’s life is no idle man’s occupation; they meet with many rough stones, knotty pieces, hard quarries, tough work. Some are stones crumbling all to crattle as soon as we begin to hammer them, and as timber falling to splinters when we fall to the hewing of them; and other such sons of Belial there are that a man cannot speak to them, 1 Samuel 25:17 ; they are "thorns that cannot be taken with hands, but the man that shall touch them must be fenced with iron and with the staff of a spear." These shall be thrust away as thorns, and utterly burnt with fire, 2 Samuel 23:6-7 . And for the better sort, those lively stones, 1 Peter 2:5 , and smoother pieces that are to be set into God’s building, being made by his grace more malleable and tractable, there must be a great deal of pains taken with them, that they may be as the polished corners of the temple; they must be humbled and hammered, Jeremiah 23:29 , pared and planed here in the mount; for there may neither hammer, nor axe, nor any tool of iron be heard in the heavenly house, for which they are fitting, 1 Kings 6:7 . And herein we are "labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building," 1 Corinthians 3:9 . In which laborious kind of life, "I endure all things for the elect’s sake, that they may be saved," saith Paul, 2 Timothy 2:10 . And I dare be bold to say, saith Luther, that faithful ministers do labour and sweat more in a day than husbandmen do in a month. And for mine own part, saith he, si mihi esset integram vocationem deserere, if it were lawful for me to leave my calling, I could with less pains and more pleasure dig and do day work than labour as I now do in the work of the ministry. Pareus thinks that the next words,

I have killed them with the words of my mouth — are spoken by God of the prophets: q.d. I have set them so heavy a task and put them so hard to it, that it hath been the death of them; such crabbed and rugged spirits they have met with, such stubborn and tough timber, that had long lain soaking in the waters of wickedness; these tools of mine are even worn out with working. But though this be a pious interpretation, and not altogether improbable, because of the change of person here, viz. them for you; yet because such a change is ordinary in Scripture and emphatic also, namely, when God seemeth deeply displeased with any one, and therefore leaveth talking to him, and turns himself suddenly to another, see Hosea 4:14 ; Hosea 5:8 ; Hosea 5:4 I conceive it may very well be so in this place. Occidi istos, I have slain these refractories and rebels with the words of my mouth ( sic enim contemptim loquimur ), I have beaten so hard upon their consciences, that they have had no joy of their lives. I have marked them out for destruction, by threatening it, as Jeremiah 18:7-8 , and Hosea 1:10 . Elisha hath his sword as well as Jehu and Hazael, 1 Kings 19:17 ; and when Elisha unsheatheth and brandisheth his sword, it is a fair warning that the sword of Jehu and Hazael are at hand. See Ezekiel 11:13 , "And it came to pass that when I prophesied Pelatiah, the son of Benaiah, died." So did Ananias and Sapphira, Acts 5:5 ; Acts 5:10 . So do many despisers today, though it appear not by them. A man may have his bane about him, though he fall not down dead in the place. If any man harm Christ’s two witnesses, fire (though not felt) "proceedeth out of their mouths, and devoureth their enemies," Revelation 11:5 .

And thy judgments are as the light that goeth forthi.e. I have clearly denounced them, and will as openly execute them in the sight of this sun. "The righteous shall see it and shall say, Lo, this is the man," …, Psalms 52:6-7 ; Psalms 119:137 . Thou, by thine hypocrisy and external services, as Hosea 6:6 , hast cast a mist before men’s eyes, that they cannot think thee to be so near a judgment: but I will dispel that mist, and make my works a comment upon my word; and having sent unto thee a powerful ministry, but to no purpose, I will make thee, who wouldst not hear the word, "to hear the rod, and who hath appointed it," Micah 7:9 .

Verse 6

For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.

For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice — That is, rather than sacrifice: I prefer the marrow and pith of the second table before the ceremony and surface of the first.

I desired mercy — Heb. çôòúé I desired it with singular delight and complacency. Aurea certe sententia, saith Rivet. This is a golden sentence, twice quoted by Christ himself, Matthew 9:13 ; Matthew 12:7 , which noteth the eminence of it. And with it agreeth that answer of the scribe so much approved of by our Saviour, Mark 12:38 , "To love thy neighbour as thyself is more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices." And that of the author to the Hebrews, "But to do good and to communicate forget not; for with such sacrifices God is well pleased," Hebrews 13:16 ; a great deal better pleased than with all the outward services and sacrifices of the law, which yet were commanded by God, but not to be rested in. These be famous sentences indeed; such as a man would fetch upon his knees from Rome or Jerusalem, as a reverend man saith of certain brave sayings of Luther, which he had recited (Mr Sam. Clark, Life of Luther). Mercy is here put for all the duties of charity; as the knowledge of God is for those other of piety, whereof it is the rise and foundation. Mercy is set first non ut potior sed ut notior, not as better, but as better known, and more noticed. They are set together, because they must not be sundered in our practice. Obedience must be universal, extending to the compass of the whole law. A man must not be funambulus virtutum, as Tertullian speaks, going in a narrow track of obedience, pinking and choosing what he will do and what not; following God in such duties as will suit with him and no farther. He must follow after God as Caleb, Numbers 14:14 , have respect to all God’s commandments, and do all his wills, as David, Acts 13:22 , walk in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless, as Zacharias and Elizabeth, Luke 1:6 . These partial and perverse Jews walked in all the ordinances, but they cared not for the commandments; they were altogether for the ceremonial law, but neglected the moral. Or if they did anything that way, it was but the outward act of a commandment, which men may naturally perform. Thus Ahab humbled himself: and some think that Urijah which Isaiah calleth the faithful witness, Isaiah 8:2 the same with him that brought in the altar of Damascus, 2 Kings 16:10 , yet reputed a faithful man of his word. A hypocrite may show mercy, but not love mercy, Micah 6:8 , and know God, but not effectively, practically, according to that of St John, "Hereby we know that we know him, if we keep his commandments,"1 John 2:28; 1 John 2:28 . This is that obedience which is better than sacrifice, 1 Samuel 15:22 Jeremiah 7:21 ; and no wonder, quia per victimas, aliena caro, per obedientiam voluntas propria mactatur, saith one; in sacrifices the flesh of another, but in obedience our own wills are offered up: and this the very heathen, by the dim rush light of nature, saw to be better. Hold thou it the fairest sacrifice and best service to keep thyself pure and upright, saith Isocrates. O Nicocles, θυμα καλλιστον και θεραπεια μεγιστη . Isoc. And, Ovid. Epist.,

Non bove mactato caelestia numina gaudent.

Sed, quae praestanda est et sine teste fides. ”

Verse 7

But they like men have transgressed the covenant: there have they dealt treacherously against me.

But they like men — Heb. like Adam, that archrebel, that old παραβατης , after the similitude of whose transgressions these men had sinned, Romans 5:14 , and so deserved in like sort to be punished, by being cast out of their country, as he was out of paradise. Thus some sense it; as if the prophet would here reduce these covenant breakers to that frst transgressor Adam, in whom they all were; as the whole country is in a parliament man, and as Levi was in Abraham’s loins, and paid tithes in him, Hebrews 7:9 . Others take Adam for an appellative, and give a reason for it out of the text, because it is Keadam , and not Kahadam, with ú emphatic. And of these some again read it thus, Illi tanquam hominis transgressi sunt foedus, they transgressed the covenant, as if it had been a man’s covenant ( perinde ae foedus alicuius hominis infimi et infirmi, Polan.); they made no more of breaking it than as if they had had to do with dust and ashes like themselves, with their fellow creatures, and not with the great God: and might therefore deal by their covenants, as monkeys do by their collars, which they fit on for their master’s pleasure, and slip off again for their own. Others read it, as we do; "They like men have transgressed," …, sorry men, fickle and false hearted men, such as David pointed at when he said, "All men are liars," Psalms 116:11 , and Paul, 1 Corinthians 3:3 . Are ye not carnal, and walk as men, that is, as profane men, aliens from the commonwealth of Israel? Singular things are expected from God’s peculiar, Matthew 5:47 , as to be eminent in good works, Titus 3:14 , to get above others, as Saul was above the people by head and shoulders; to get to the very top of godliness, as the apostle’s phrase importeth, ακριβως παρα το εις ακρον βαινειν , Ephesians 5:15 , to keep God’s covenant as the apple of the eye, as Solomon saith, Proverbs 7:2 , that little man in the eye, Ishon, that cannot be touched but he will be distempered. This the world counts preciseness, and makes nothing of transgressing, of leaping over the hedge of any commandments, so they may shun a piece of foul way. Lo, this is the manner of most men, yea, of all men by nature; they make no bones about transgressing the law, of changing the ordinance, of breaking the everlasting covenant, Isaiah 24:5 . And this when they do, they work de suo et secundum hominem; for Homo est inversus Decalogus, the natural man stands across to the law of God, to the whole Decalogue; the two tables whereof are called the tables of the covenant, Deuteronomy 9:9 ; Deuteronomy 9:11 . Neither is this any excusing or extenuation of their sin, that they do but their kind, they do it as men. It is an aggravation rather, q.d. they not only transgress my covenant, but they do it naturally, and out of the vileness of their proper inclinations; like as the devil, when he speaketh a lie, he speaketh de suo, of his own, John 8:44 , he can do no otherwise. It is as impossible for those that are carnal and walk as men to keep covenant with God as for a toad to spit cordials. If at any time they make an overture of doing it, if they make an essay, it is but as the morning cloud, and as the early dew that goeth away, as Hosea 6:5 , with which this verse applies; Hosea 6:6 coming in between as it were by a parenthesis.

There have they dealt treacherously against me — There? where? in the very point of the covenant, which by their sacrifices and burnt offerings they so solemnly professed and engaged to observe; lo, therein have they prevaricated, and then at the same time have they falsified, as the same word is used, Psalms 14:5 . I have been near in their mouth, but far from their reins, Jeremiah 12:2 . In words they profess to know me, but in works they deny me, being abominable and disobedient, and to every good work reprobate, Titus 1:16 . Or there, that is (as the Chaldee paraphrast senseth it), in that good land which I have given them, even in Gilead, as in the next words. They live in my good land, but not by my good laws; yea, "they have filled it" (as the cursed Canaanites did before them, Ezra 9:11 ) "from one end to another with their uncleanness," which therefore longs for a vomit to cast them out; there have they dealt treacherously, as the adulteress doth, who forsaketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the covenant of her God. The sins of such as break covenant with God are sins of a double dye; they are wickedness with a witness, because "they do wickedly against the covenant," Daniel 11:32 Proverbs 2:17 ; these treacherous dealers deal treacherously, yea, these treacherous dealers deal very treacherously, Isaiah 24:16 . And this they have done against me, who have stooped so low as to strike a covenant with them, and such a covenant, 2 Samuel 23:5 , and have never failed or falsified. See Deuteronomy 29:24-25 .

Verse 8

Gilead [is] a city of them that work iniquity, [and is] polluted with blood.

Gilead is a city of them that work iniquity — Another πονηροπολις ; such a city there was in Greece, and so called by King Philip, for the naughtiness of the inhabitants. This Gilead was one of those ten cities of refuge beyond Jordan, given to the priests for a possession, Joshua 21:38 , …, and probably the chief city, which therefore bare the name of the whole country, as Athens was called the Greece of Greece ( ’ Eλλας ‘ Eλλαδος ). The inhabitants thereof (though Levites) were the worst of men, workers of iniquity, such as did wickedly with both hands, earnestly wearying themselves in the devil’s drudgery; and then sitting down to rest them in the chair of pestilence. There is not a worse creature upon earth, or so fit for hell, as a profane priest, a debauched minister, Matthew 5:13 . Corruptio optimi pessima, as the sweetest wine makes the sourest vinegar, as the finest flesh is resolved into the vilest earth, and as the whitest ivory burnt becomes the blackest coal. Who would have looked for so much wickedness at Gilead, at Shiloh, at Anathoth, at Jerusalem, where the priests and scribes bare sway, and did dominari in suggestis? And yet that once faithful city was "become a harlot; it was full of judgment, righteousness lodged in it, but now murderers," Isaiah 1:21 . In our Saviour’s time it was prophetarum macellum, the slaughter house of the saints, as now Rome is, and once London was in bloody Bonner’s days: whom a certain good woman once told in a letter, that he was deservedly called the common cut-throat and general slaughter slave to all the bishops of England. At his death he boasted (as Stokesley had done before him) how many heretics he had burned: seven hundred saints in four or five years’ time those bloody and deceitful men sent to heaven in fiery chariots. There are none so cruel to the lives of men as wicked clergy.

Gilead was polluted with blood — Not only with the blood of souls (by their default drowned in perdition and destruction, Ezekiel 33:7 ; Ezekiel 3:18 ), but of bodies too, destroyed by their hands or means. The priests of these times may seem, by what is said of them in the next verse, to have been men of their hands, the sworn swordmen of the devil, such as was Timotheus Herulus, Bishop of Alexandria, A.D. 467. Pope Innocent, who threw Peter’s keys into the river Tiber, and took up Paul’s sword, as he called it, and that Philip, Bishop of Beauvieu, in France, taken in a skirmish by our Richard I, who sent his armour to the pope with these words engraved on it, Vide num filii tui tunica sit, vel non, See whether this be the coat of thy son, or of a son of Mars. These, and their like in their several generations, were non Pastores sed Impostores, non Doctorcs sed Seductores, non Episcopi sed Aposcopi, not ministers but imposters, not teachers but seducers, not bishops but apostates, as an ancient hath it; and indeed, the Church hath ever been so pestered with lewd and lazy ministers (those dehonestamenta Cleri ) that Chrysostom thought there were scarcely any of that order in his time that could be saved; Jerome saith that the paucity of such as were good had made them very precious; and Campian cries out, not altogether without cause (malice may be a good informer though an ill judge), Ministris eorum nihil vilius, There is nothing vile to their ministers. Now this is here instanced as an odious transgression of the covenant, when such as made such a show of sacrifice to God should exercise so little mercy to men; when such as should be teachers were turned tyrants and blood suckers.

Verse 9

And as troops of robbers wait for a man, [so] the company of priests murder in the way by consent: for they commit lewdness.

And as troops of robbers wait for a man — This verse hath much of the former in it, saith an interpreter. The sum of it is, saith Wigandus, to show, that all the forementioned wickednesses were committed, instinctu doctorum, by the instinct of their priests, who were now turned tories or moss troopers. Jerome asked his Jewish doctor the meaning of this text, and received this answer: that at the time of the Passover and the Pentecost the people used to come to Jerusalem; and as they were going in their journey, these priests would stand in the way and slay them. Others think that these corrupt priests took into their city of refuge divers thieves and murderers; who not having whereupon otherwise to subsist, turned highwaymen (as they call them), and returning again into the city, divided the spoil with the priests, who had their share: and are therefore called companions of robbers, and are said to murder in the way by consent, or with one shoulder, or as Simeon and Levi did at Shechem, q.d. Sichemice, craftily and cruelly (for so many ways these words are rendered), and all this they did with malice forethought, of prepensed mischief ( ex destinata malitia et inito consilio ), called here committing lewdness. Even as they thought in their hearts so they acted, saith King David. They executed the counsel of the wicked, saith the Chaldee paraphrast. They machinated mischief, and then practised what they had plotted with a deliberate will, and as it were with a high hand. Look now upon the Popish monks, saith Tarnovius, and compare them with these priests whom Hosea reproveth, non tam ovum ovo simile. And Luther saith, that they had a proverb in Germany, that there was nothing so bad which the monks could think of but they would dare to do it. Faciunt quicquid cogitant. 079 &&& Ministers-Immoral

Non audet Stygius Pluto tentare quod audet

Effrenis Monachus, ” -

Verse 10

I have seen an horrible thing in the house of Israel: there [is] the whoredom of Ephraim, Israel is defiled.

I have seen an horrible thing in the house of Israel — Now a very den of thieves, as Hosea 6:9 , a pantheon of all sorts of idols, a chamber of imagery, an Egyptian temple, gay and goodly without, but within an ox or calf, with "women weeping for Tammuz," Ezekiel 8:12 ; Ezekiel 8:14 , that is, for Osiris, king of Egypt, whose image (under the shape of an ox) his wife, Isis, had advanced to be idolatrously there adored. This kind of abomination Jeroboam had learned in Egypt (whither he fled from Solomon, his master), and brought into the house of Israel. And whereas those idolaters said, "The Lord seeth us not, the Lord hath forsaken the earth," Ezekiel 8:12 ; "I have seen it," saith God, and been sore troubled at it, and even frightened; so as a man is quando horripilatur, when his hairs stand on end; as when the devil appeareth to him like a hairy satyr. See Leviticus 17:7 . See Trapp on " Leviticus 17:7 " Certain it is that God hateth sin (but especially idolatry, that abominable thing, as he calleth it, Jeremiah 44:4 ) worse than he hateth the devil himself; for he hateth the devil for sin’s sake, and not sin for the devil’s sake. Idolatry must needs be so much the more odious to him, because therein the devil sets up himself in the place of God; and requires men (as once he did Christ himself) to fall down and worship him. See Deuteronomy 32:17 1 Corinthians 10:20 Revelation 9:20 . So he dealeth by the poor Indians of this day, compelling them to worship him with bodily worship, and tormenting them, if they do not, worse (if worse may be) than the cruel Spaniards; who suppose they show the wretches favour, when they do not, for their pleasure, whip them with cords, and day by day drop their naked bodies with burning bacon. The Hebrew word here used hath some letters more than ordinary in it, to increase the signification, and to show what a very horrible thing idolatry is ( òøéøéä ). Hebrew Text Note It is spurca pollutio, as Jeremiah 23:14 , and worse. See Jeremiah 2:11-12 ; Jeremiah 18:13 , and know that God doth not use to aggravate things beyond truth, as men do, witness Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel 3:14 , "Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego?" Or is it of set purpose? Num de industria? so Buxtorf rendereth it. Is it for the nonce, to provoke me? Or Nunquid desolatio? so Arias Montanus; as if he should say, What! you to oppose the command of a king? If this be suffered, what desolation must needs follow! But this is not God’s way; he lays no more words upon a thing than the matter amounteth to. If he call idolatry filth, fornication, abomination, a horrible thing, such as a man would start or stand aghast at, we may be sure it is so. The Septuagint here render it φρικωδη , things to be trembled at, or shrieked at. In Barbary it is death for the Xeriff’s wife, when she seeth a man, though but through a casement, not suddenly to shriek out. God is a jealous God, and allows not his to look toward an idol. If they do he will soon see it, and visit for it. "I have seen," …

There is the whoredom of Ephraim — Thus God looketh upon it as filthiness and nastiness which the people beheld as fineness and neatness. And the same do all (that have the mind of God, and senses exercised to discern between good and evil) judge of all the Popish pomp and palterment, wherewith they bewitch the deluded common people, as the serpent Scytale doth the fleeing passenger, whom when she cannot overtake, yet with her beautiful colours she doth so astonish and amaze him, that he hath no power to pass away till stung to death.

Verse 11

Also, O Judah, he hath set an harvest for thee, when I returned the captivity of my people.

Also, O Judah, he hath set an harvest for thee — This is a very difficult text, and much vexed by interpreters. Et hic nisi Lyra lyrasset, nos omnes delirassemus. Lyra sets this sense upon the text, and I accord him: Though thou, Judah, art also to be carried captive; yet God hath set, or provided for thee, a harvest in thine own land, when I shall have returned the captivity of my people, viz. under the conduct of Zorobabel, by the decree of Cyrus. Here, then, is a promise of a joyful harvest to Judah, who is not to be punished with like severity as Israel, Hosea 1:7 , and for the change of person, when I returned, for he shall have returned. See Isaiah 29:19 Jeremiah 31:23 Zephaniah 3:20 Psalms 14:7 . Simul Iudae captivitas et reditus praedicitur significanter admodum, saith Jerome here; both the captivity and return of Judah is here very significantly foretold. It is a very good note that one giveth here, sc. that God in his chastisement ever showeth himself mindful of his covenant; after a long barrenness, he setteth for his people a plentiful harvest, and turneth again their captivity, after that for a time he hath tried them. His mercy also and faithfulness herein appeareth, that be mingleth promises with threatenings; and while he utterly destroyeth the kingdom of the ten tribes, he preserveth the commonwealth of Judah, wherein the Messiah was to come, and whereof there was not (by the ancient prophecies) to be a dissolution, till Shiloh came. Hence it is that promises of the restoration of Judah are ever intermingled, lest any should doubt the manifestation of the Messiah in the fulness of time.

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Hosea 6". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/hosea-6.html. 1865-1868.
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