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The Judgment Announced
v. 1. Set the trumpet to thy mouth, so the Lord calls out to the prophet in bidding him give a warning concerning the approach of the judgment. He shall come as an eagle against the house of the Lord, the enemy, especially the Assyrian, invading the country with the swiftness of an eagle pouncing upon his prey, Deuteronomy 28:49, because they have transgressed My covenant and trespassed against My Law. While God, according to His mercy, would like to live in the midst of His people, they make His presence impossible by their rebellious behavior.
v. 2. Israel shall cry unto Me, literally, "To Me will they cry," presuming upon the relation which had formerly obtained between Jehovah and them, My God, we know Thee (we, Israel). But it is a dead knowledge of the head only, faith no longer being found in their midst. The Lord wants to have the entire trust of the heart, as expressed in a person's whole life, He is not satisfied with a mere external worship.
v. 3. Israel hath cast off the thing that is good, they are filled with aversion and loathing for the covenant of Jehovah. The enemy shall pursue him, as a punishment for such rebellious behavior, which is now more fully explained.
v. 4. They have set up kings, but not by Me, not by His direction nor with His consent; they have made princes, and I knew it not, for even in the case of Jeroboam and Jehu the manner of their accession did not meet with the Lord's approval, and in the case of most of the other rulers, murder and violence were the determining factors. Of their silver and their gold have they made them idols, thus cutting themselves off entirely from the covenant of the Lord, that they might be cut off, for on account of their idolatry they rushed into their own destruction with open eyes.
v. 5. Thy calf, O Samaria, hath cast thee off, or, "Is rejected thy calf," one of the idols made with their gold, "O Samaria?" the reference being to the calf of Bethel and Samaria, which is being addressed for the whole nation. Mine anger is kindled against them; how long will it be ere they attain to innocency? How long would they be incapable of purity? How long would it be before they would cease from polluting themselves with their idol-worship?
v. 6. For from Israel was it also, that is, this calf originated from men; the workman made it, therefore it is not god. But the calf of Samaria shall be broken in pieces, smashed into tiny fragments. This is the result of Israel's idolatry.
v. 7. For they have sown the wind, by all their transgressions, and they shall reap the whirlwind, a fitting harvest for such a sowing; it hath no stalk, their sowing produces no stalk, the bud, the kernels of the ear, shall yield no meal; if so be it yield, the strangers, the invading enemies, shall swallow it up. Such is the result of seeking the friendship of the enemies of God; in the end they turn upon those who depended upon them and bring destruction upon them.
A Further Threat of Judgment
v. 8. Israel is swallowed up, its judgment being practically accomplished even now, the statement being made as though the prophecy were already fulfilled; now shall they be among the Gentiles as a vessel wherein is no pleasure, which is discarded as useless. Cf Jeremiah 22:28; Jeremiah 48:38.
v. 9. For they are gone up to Assyria, their object being to gain the friendship of the powerful nation, a wild ass alone by himself; Ephraim hath hired lovers. While the wild ass, an irrational brute, shuns the company of men, in order to maintain his independence, Ephraim seeks unnatural affiliations, such as are not in agreement with his high destiny.
v. 10. Yea, though they have hired among the nations, in the unnatural attempt of buying friendships, now will I gather them, bringing them together among the nations, but in the capacity of captives, and they shall sorrow a little for the burden of the king of princes, they will be diminished in number by reason of the oppression which they must suffer in exile. Thus all their great plans and hopes turned out in just the opposite way, to their own detriment.
v. 11. Because Ephraim hath made many altars to sin, in practicing idolatry to such an exceptional degree, altars shall be unto him to sin, the idolatry practiced has made him guilty in the sight of God.
v. 12. I have written to him the great things of My Law, literally, I presented to him a myriad of My Law, the many precepts by which the Israelites might fulfill His will; but they were counted as a strange thing, they simply ignored the commandments,, of the Lord, as though they did not concern them.
v. 13. They sacrifice flesh for the sacrifices of Mine offerings and eat it, intending it as a burnt offering; the Lord, however, looks upon it as a slaughtered animal, not as a sacrifice in His honor, because the right condition of the heart is missing; but the Lord accepteth them not; now will He remember their iniquity and visit their sins, with the punishment which they so richly deserved. They shall return to Egypt, once more be delivered into bondage.
v. 14. For Israel hath forgotten his Maker, Cf Deuteronomy 32:18, and buildeth temples, either palaces or idol-temples; and Judah hath multiplied fenced cities, in a false reliance upon his own strength. But I will send a fire upon his cities, by bringing the invading enemies into the country, and it shall devour the palaces thereof. When men forsake and deny the Lord, relying upon their own ability and power instead, the Lord destroys the fortresses of such a false confidence; for He is a jealous God and will not tolerate any one but Himself to be acknowledged as the supreme Being in heaven and earth.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Hosea 8". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/