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The Lord's Accusation
v. 1. Ephraim feedeth on wind, striving after vain and empty things, and followeth after the east wind, a hot wind coming up from the Arabian Desert, scorching everything with which it comes into contact; he daily increaseth lies and desolation, faithlessness and violence, whereby the nation was undermined in morals and stability; and they do make a covenant with the Assyrians, one of the world-powers against whom the prophets had warned, and oil is carried into Egypt, olive-oil being a gift with which they hoped to buy the alliance of the southern neighbor.
v. 2. The Lord hath also a controversy with Judah, a contest to be decided in a court of law, by a formal suit, and will punish Jacob, the ten northern tribes, according to his ways; according to his doings, as he has deserved by his transgressions, will He recompense him. The name Jacob calls to mind the original bearer of the name.
v. 3. He took his brother by the heel in the womb, showing subtlety even before he was born. Genesis 25:26, and by his strength he had power with God, Genesis 32:25-29;
v. 4. yea, he had power over the Angel, who is thus identified with God, and the ancient conception of Him as the Angel of the Lord, the revelation of the Son of God in the Old Testament, is correct, and prevailed, as the Angel Himself stated; he wept and made supplication unto Him, by stating that he would not let Him go without having received a blessing; he found Him, the God of the covenant, in Bethel, on his way to Mesopotamia and after his return, Genesis 28:11; Genesis 35:9 ff. and there He spake with us, for what was said to Jacob at that time, has validity for the believers of all times,
v. 5. even the Lord God of hosts, the most exalted Ruler of the universe. The Lord is his memorial, who had revealed Himself to the patriarchs as the God of salvation.
v. 6. Therefore, because the God of Israel, who had revealed Himself in the words of the prophets, was the God of the covenant known to the patriarchs, turn thou to thy God, for Jehovah was still ready to stand in this relation to Israel; keep mercy and judgment, observing the demands of brotherly love and justice over against their brethren, and wait on thy God continually, in fearing Him, trusting Him, and loving Him above all things; for the summary of both tables of the Law is here understood.
Another Serious Reproach
v. 7. He is a merchant, rather, "Canaan," the name here applied to the northern kingdom, since, like a dishonest merchant, he sought greatness by deceit and oppression, the balances of deceit are in his hand; he loveth to oppress, so that the inhabitants practiced the very opposite of what was enjoined in the preceding verse.
v. 8. And Ephraim said, in refusing to heed the Lord's admonitions through His prophets, Yet I am become rich, thus trying to excuse his dishonest ways, I have found me out substance, becoming prosperous as a result of doubtful cleverness; in all my labors they shall find none iniquity in me that were sin, or, "all my gains shall find no transgression in me which would be sin. " This blindness toward their own guilt and the culpability of their sin was the big misfortune of the Israelites, for it hindered them from feeling sorry for their transgressions.
v. 9. And I that am the Lord, thy God, from the land of Egypt, where He first revealed the greatness of His mercy toward Israel, will yet make thee to dwell in tabernacles as in the days of the solemn feast, the allusion doubtless being to the Feast of Tabernacles, which not only commemorated the privations of the wilderness journey, but also brought to the attention of the Israelites the blessings with which the Lord so richly supplied them in the Land of Promise.
v. 10. I have also spoken by the prophets, so that He had always been in close touch with His chosen people, and I have multiplied visions and used similitudes, making known His will by parables, by the ministry of the prophets. All this surely showed the interest which the Lord had in His people and should be an inducement to them to return to Him with a repentant heart.
v. 11. Is there iniquity in Gilead? Surely they are vanity, or, "If Gilead," representing the eastern half of the northern kingdom, "is worthlessness and iniquity," if it has reached the depths of moral ruin, then physical annihilation will certainly follow. They sacrifice bullocks in Gilgal, which represents the western part of the kingdom, with its idolatrous practices; yea, their altars are as heaps in the furrows of the fields, the altars being demolished and their stones scattered over the fields.
v. 12. And Jacob fled into the country of Syria, and Israel served for a wife, and for a wife he kept sheep, the purpose of this reference being to remind Israel of the labor and misery which their forefather endured in comparison with the blessings which the Lord was pouring out over his descendants.
v. 13. And, this being noted by way of contrast, by a prophet the Lord brought Israel out of Egypt, Numbers 12:6-8; Deuteronomy 18:15, and by a prophet was he preserved, for it was the intercession of Moses which saved Israel from being destroyed by the Lord.
v. 14. Ephraim provoked Him to anger most bitterly, in spite of all the blessings which God had showered upon His people; therefore shall He, the Lord, leave his blood upon him, leave Israel in his blood-guiltiness, and his reproach shall his Lord return unto him, so that it would be charged to his account and kept there. When men refuse to repent and scorn all the efforts of the Lord aiming at their deliverance from sin and guilt, the Lord leaves them to their fate and to the punishment which they invited upon themselves.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Hosea 12". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany