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The idolatry of the people: God's judgments against them: his promises of reconciliation with them.
Before Christ 786.
Hosea 2:1. Say ye, &c.— Several intepreters join this verse with the foregoing chapter. "When the great day of Jezreel, or the restoration of the Jews, shall be accomplished, you may alter your manner of speaking to those of your brethren and sisters whom I had before disavowed, and you may call them עמי Ammi, or my people; and רחמה Ruhamah, or she that hath obtained mercy. The prophet alludes to the 6th and 9th verses of the preceding chapter. See Rom 9:25 and Pococke.
Hosea 2:2. Plead, &c.— These words are directed to those pious persons who still remained among the ten tribes, and who were required to reprove, and use their best endeavours to reform that general corruption which the nation had contracted by its idolatry. In the day that she was born, &c., Hosea 2:3., alludes to the situation of the Hebrews in Egypt, plunged in idolatry, oppressed with cruel servitude, and almost deprived of hope. See Ezekiel 16:5-6.
Hosea 2:3. And make her as a wilderness— Hebrew. And lay her waste like a wilderness. It may seem harsh to say of a woman, that she shall be laid waste like a wilderness, and reduced to the condition of a parched land. But it is to be observed, that the allegorical style makes an intercommunity of attributes between the type and the thing typified. So that when a woman is the image of a country, or of a church, that may be said of the woman which, in unfigured speech, might be said of the country, or the church, which she represents. The country might literally be made a waste wilderness, by unfruitful seasons, by the devastations of war, or of noxious vermin; a church is made a wilderness and a parched land, when the living waters of the Spirit are withheld.
Hosea 2:7. I will go, and return, &c.— After finding that her attachment to idols and idolatrous nations will not avail her, but rather plunge her into misfortunes, she will through divine grace be brought to a sense of her duty, and of the happiness that she enjoyed, while cleaving stedfastly to her God. See Isaiah 54:5.Jeremiah 3:1; Jeremiah 3:1; Jeremiah 44:17; Jeremiah 44:30. Ezekiel 16:18 :
Hosea 2:11. I will also cause, &c.— "There shall be no more numerous and magnificent assemblies in the temples of Jerusalem, to celebrate the solemn festivals of the Lord." These threats were literally executed during the time of the Babylonish captivity. See Calmet.
Hosea 2:13. I will visit, &c.— "I will punish her for all the idolatries that she hath committed, from the days of Jeroboam, who set up the worship of false gods." Days being taken for the sins, or so as to include the sins committed in them, and בעלים Baalim being the plural number of בעל Baal, denotes either a variety of false gods, called by that name, or a variety of images dedicated to Baal.
Hosea 2:14. Therefore behold, I will allure her— Nevertheless, I will allure her, after I have brought her into the wilderness, [to Babylon], &c. "After having treated her with rigour, and having convinced her of her deviations, I will restore her to my favour and regard." The valley of Achor was near Jericho. It was remarkable for its fertility; and the meaning is, that as, at the first entrance of the Israelites into Canaan, their taking possession of the fruitful valley of Achor gave them encouragement to hope that they should become masters of the whole land flowing with milk and honey; so the same auspicious token of the divine favour should accompany them at their return into their own country. See Isaiah 65:10. But the words especially refer to the times of the gospel; as if Jehovah had said, Speak what shall touch her heart in her outcast state in the wilderness of the Gentile world, by the proffers of mercy in the Gospel. "For the doctrine of the Gospel," says Luther upon this place, "is the true soothing speech with which the minds of men are taken. For it terrifies not the soul, like the Law, with severe denunciations of punishment; but, although it reproves sin, it declares that God is ready to pardon sinners for the sake of his son, and holds forth the sacrifice of the Son of God, that the souls of sinners may be assured that satisfaction has been made by that to God."
Hosea 2:15. Thence— The English word thence renders either from that place, or from that time, or in consequence of those things; and the original word is used in all these various senses. No one of these senses would be inapplicable in this place; but the last seems the most significant. God declares, that the calamities of the dispersion, together with the soothing intimations of the Gospel, by bringing the Jewish race to a right mind, will be the means of reinstating them in that wealth and prosperity, which God will provide for them in their own land.
Hosea 2:16. Thou shalt call me Ishi— Houbigant renders this, Thou shalt call me, My husband: Thou shalt no more call me, My lord or master. "Because thou shalt love me, and shalt serve me through affection, and not through fear."
Hosea 2:17. They shall no more be remembered by their name— It is in vain to look for a purity of religious worship, answerable to this prophecy, among the Jews returned from the Babylonian captivity. This part of the prophesy, with all the rest, will receive its accomplishment in the converted race in the latter days. It is said indeed, that, after the return from Babylon, the Jews scrupulously avoided idolatry, and have continued untainted with it to this day. But generally as this is asserted by all commentators, one after another, it is not true. Among the restored Jews there was indeed no public idolatry, patronized by the government, as there had been in times before the captivity, particularly in the reign of Ahaz. But from the time of Antiochus Epiphanes to the last moments of the Jewish polity, there was a numerous and powerful faction, which in every thing affected the Greek manners; and this Hellenizing party were idolaters to a man. The Jews of the present times, as far as we are acquainted with them, seem indeed to be free from the charge of idolatry, properly so called. But of the present state of the ten tribes we have no certain knowledge; without which we cannot take upon us either to accuse or to acquit them.
Hosea 2:18. A covenant— This covenant with the beasts of the field, the fowls of heaven, and the reptiles of the earth, is the final conversion of the most ignorant and vicious of the Heathen to the true faith. The effect of which must be, that they will all live in peace and friendship with the re-established nation of the Jews.
Hosea 2:20. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness— By faith. Houbigant. By that virtue which is the foundation of all religion, and of all other virtues. The perfect accomplishment of this prophesy can belong only to the Christian church.
Hosea 2:21-22. I will hear, &c.— I will answer, saith the Lord, I will answer the heavens, and they shall answer the [wants of the] earth.
Hosea 2:22. And the earth shall favour the corn, and the wine, and the oil, and they shall answer Jezreel. This elegant gradation of the prophet admirably denotes the concert, the harmony, the intelligence, which shall be between all the parts of the universe. They shall no more see the heaven of iron, and of brass, withholding its dew, and its rain; nor the earth, burnt up by the sun, unable to nourish the plants; nor the fruits denied the succour of the earth, nor men deprived of their necessary aliments. This alludes to the spiritual blessings of the Christian church in general, and to the glorious privileges, spiritual and temporal, of the Millennium in particular.
Hosea 2:23. And I will sow her unto me in the earth— The myriads of the natural Israel, converted by the preaching of the apostles, were the first seed of the Christian church. And there is reason to believe, that the restoration of the converted Jews will be the occasion and means of a prodigious influx of new converts from the Gentiles in the latter ages. Romans 11:12; Romans 11:15. Bishop Horsley.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, The first words of this chapter may be either taken in connection with the latter part of the preceding, as speaking comfort to the people of God, those faithful ones, who, having chosen Christ for their head, are restored to God's favour, acknowledged by him, as Ammi, my people, and Ruhamah, having obtained mercy; or they have respect to those Jewish converts, who in the times of the gospel being turned to Christ Jesus, and become the children of God by faith in him, are exhorted to rebuke, and expostulate, with their mother, the Jewish church, for her rejection of the true Messiah.
1. God threatens utterly to separate himself from her. She is not my wife; has behaved unworthy of that relation: she hath played the harlot; has broken the marriage-covenant, casting off all obedience, and committing spiritual adultery against the Lord. She that conceived them hath done shame fully; serving dumb idols, and committing idolatry with stocks and stones: or, she hath made ashamed; has been a scandal to her husband and her family; and therefore he will no more own her: neither am I her husband, to protect, cherish, or provide for her: he thrusts her out, gives her a divorce, and separates her from all the honour and comfort of the relation in which she stood. Note; (1.) They who treacherously depart from God will provoke him to depart from them: and woe to the soul that is in such a case! (2.) Sin is not the only abominable thing that God hates, but the shameful thing which will sooner or later cover the sinner with everlasting confusion and contempt.
2. He invites her to repent and return. Though offended, he was not inexorable; let her therefore put away her whoredoms out of her sight, and her adulteries from between her breasts: as these were the occasion of the fatal separation between God and them, when the cause was removed, the effect would cease. Note; (1.) God delighteth not in the death of a sinner, but rather that he should return and live. (2.) They who would truly return to God must not only put away the grosser acts of sin, but seek to root out of their bosoms the love of it, that they may be pure within.
3. The consequences of her impenitence, if persisted in, would be fatal. God waits upon sinners long; but if they will not turn, he whets his sword as he here threatens; lest I strip her naked, and set her as in the day that she was born; alluding to the wretched state of a new-born infant. So destitute and miserable were they when first God took them for his people in Egypt, Eze 16:4 and to a like state of wretchedness should they be reduced: and make her as a wilderness, and set her like a dry land, and slay her with thirst; he will bring them into circumstances as deplorable as those of their fathers in the wilderness, or utterly destroy and ruin their nation, as the carcases of those who fell in that barren land. And I will not have mercy upon her children, but the curse shall fatally rest upon them, as it does to this day for the rejection of the Messiah; for they be the children of whoredoms, imitating the ill example of their parents, and therefore sharing their punishment.
4. He upbraids her ingratitude and folly. She played the harlot; committing idolatry, that shameful thing; for she said, I will go after my lovers, her idols, on which she doated, and to whom she ascribed all the good things that she enjoyed, that give me my bread, &c.; robbing God of the glory of his gifts, and giving this honour unto stocks and stones, or the hosts of heaven, Jeremiah 44:17-18. Note; (1.) The folly, as well as baseness of sin, is prodigious. (2.) They who make their belly their God, and the delights of sense their happiness, are in the broad way of ruin. (3.) Worldly prosperity and abundance have been the fatal snare by which many an immortal soul has been ruined.
2nd, They who go on obstinately in their evil ways, may assuredly expect that vengeance, though slow, will surely overtake them. Thus God threatens the Israelites:
1. He will compass them with troubles, out of which they shall see no way to escape; I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths; as when they were besieged, however much they desired it, they could neither go to seek help from their allies, nor visit their idols at Dan and Bethel. Or else this implies, that all their endeavours to extricate themselves from their troubles would but the more involve and torment them, and their pretended friends prove to them no better than a broken reed. Note; (1.) They who depart from God will find the curse pursue them as close as their shadow; and the longer they persist in these froward ways, the more misery they shall find in them. (2.) When God arrests the sinner by the afflictions of his providence, it is to convince him of the evil of his pursuits, and to turn him back from ruin.
2. These troubles will have a blessed effect, on many of them at least; then shall she say, when every other hope proves desperate, I will go and return to my first husband, the Lord God of Israel, for then was it better with me than now. Note; (1.) It is well if despair of creature-comforts and confidences drives the sinner to God; and even then he will not cast him out. (2.) Whoever has once tasted the blessedness of God's service, and has unfaithfully departed from it, will find by the longest experience, that none of the pleasures of sin are to be compared with a sense of God's love, and the testimony of a good conscience. (3.) Returning backsliders, who do their first works, shall be restored again to their first love.
3. Because they had abused the plenty that God had given them, unless they repented thus and returned to him, he threatens them with famine, poverty, and nakedness. More stupid than the ox that knows his owner, they did not acknowledge God the author of the mercies so liberally bestowed on them, but dishonoured him by lavishing their riches on their hated idols. Most justly, therefore, he threatens to resume the gifts which they thus abused, and make them know, by the miseries that he will inflict, the wickedness and ingratitude of their conduct. Note; They who profusely spend their substance in pride, luxury, gaming, and the service of divers lusts and pleasures, are as criminal as if they prepared it for Baal.
[1.] God will take from them their corn and wine, and make them know want and hunger. Their harvest shall become a heap of chaff, and their vintage disappoint their expectations. And those vines and fig-trees shall be destroyed by their invaders, or by inclement seasons, which they regarded as the gifts of their idols. He calls them my corn, my wine, for we are but stewards, the property is still in him; by whatever title we hold our creature-com-forts, to him we must be accountable for them. To abuse them is the sure way to provoke God to deprive us of them in time; or worse, to punish us for our unfaithfulness in eternity.
[2.] He will strip them naked to their shame. Now will I discover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, when scattered among the nations, who shall treat them with insult and contempt, as an infamous strumpet; and none shall deliver her out of mine hand; neither the idols, nor the allies in whom they trusted. Note; None can save that soul which God has at last determined to destroy.
[3.] God will turn her mirth into mourning. Though they had forsaken the temple at Jerusalem, they still kept up the days of feasting, not in honour of God, but of their calves, and turned these sacred seasons into times of carnal merriment and riot, utterly perverting the holy design of their institution. But now, when famine had cut off all their provisions, or their victorious enemies had ravaged their country, and led them captive into a strange land, these solemnities must cease of course, and they be sunk in misery and mourning. Note; (1.) Holy days and seasons, by unholy men perverted, are often turned into an occasion of more than ordinary drunkenness, lewdness, and riot. (2.) When we abuse God's institutions, it is just with him to rob those of the form, who have lost the power of godliness.
4. All this misery coming upon them, was owing to their idolatry and apostacy from God. I will visit upon her the days of Baalim; punishing them for their long course of idolatry from the days of the Judges, ever since which they had burnt incense to one deity or another, and decked themselves in their best attire on their holy days, to do honour to these dunghill gods; and forgat me, saith the Lord; which is the origin and aggravation of all their other sins. Note; Forgetfulness of God is at the bottom of all our sins, and the chief of them.
3rdly, The threatenings in the foregoing verses were not more tremendous, than the promises which follow them are reviving. When we might have expected, from the conclusion of the last verse, to have heard the most fearful curses reiterated, as the just vengeance of their idolatry and forgetfulness of God.—Instead of this, Therefore, says God, I will allure her; which intimates his almost boundless patience, determined to try every method before he abandoned them to ruin.
1. God will revive and comfort them, that is to say, every returning penitent among them. The allusion is to the bringing them out of Egypt, through the wilderness, into the land flowing with milk and honey, which they entered through the valley of Achor. And with like mercy will he again visit them; either by his Gospel inviting them into the church of the Redeemer at the first; or finally by recovering them from their present dispersion, and converting every returning sinner among them to the faith of Christ in the last day. I will allure her with the kindest words of tender affection, by the great and gracious promises of his word, and the sweetly drawing influences of his Spirit; and bring her into the wilderness; either by the afflictive dispensations of his providences humbling their souls, or convincing them of their misery and guilt, in order to lead them more earnestly to seek the riches of his grace; and speak comfortably unto her, encouraging the dejected hearts of his poor penitent people, burdened with guilt and heavy-laden with trouble, and shewing them in Christ Jesus, the peace, pardon, and plenteous redemption, which miserable sinners so exceedingly need, and which are to them tidings of great joy: and I will give her her vineyards from thence; either the abundance of temporal blessings which they had lost, or rather the graces and consolations of his Spirit, which are more refreshing than wine to the weary; and the valley of Achor, where Achan was stoned, for a door of hope, this being their first entrance into the promised land, and the pledge of their possessing the rest. Thus, when God converts the souls of returning penitents to himself, the accursed thing sin is put away, a door of hope is opened to them after their darkness and distress, and, in the present grace that they receive, they have the pledge of that eternal glory which is prepared for all the faithful: and she shall sing there as in the days of her youth, as in the day when she came up out of Egypt, when they beheld the Egyptians dead on the sea-shore; so shall the people of God rejoice in the complete victory of their Redeemer, and triumph in the God of their salvation; happy in the present possession of his love, and the animating prospect of eternal blessedness. Note; (1.) Nothing has so powerful an effect upon the sinner's conscience as the alluring promises of Gospel grace. (2.) A sinner brought into the wilderness of conviction is ready to fear that destruction is before him; but the gate of life lies in this valley of the shadow of death.
2. God will cleanse them thus returning from all their idols. They shall not only no more worship Baal, but not even take his name in their lips. And it shall be at that day, saith the Lord, when the Jews shall be thus turned to him, thou shalt call me Ishi, my husband, by faith embracing the Lord Jesus as the blessed Bridegroom of their souls; and shalt call me no more Baali, which signifies my husband also, or my Lord; but was a name which had been so much abused in worshipping their idols, that the very mention of it should be abhorred, and the memory of it stamped with oblivion; for I will take away the names of Baalim out of her mouth, and they shall no more be remembered by their name, idolatry of every kind being utterly abolished; as will be fully accomplished in the latter day, when every idol, papal as well as pagan, shall fall for ever. Note; (1.) The endearing relation which God is pleased to assume, as the husband of his believing people, should engage our warmest affection and most unshaken fidelity. (2.) It is a sore symptom that we possess the favour of God, when we are separated through grace from all our beloved idols and lusts. (3.) When a thing, innocent in itself, is abused to the purposes of superstition and idolatry, it should thenceforth be avoided.
3. God will be their protector from every foe, whether the savages of the forest, or the more dangerous savages, wicked men, or fiends of darkness. The beasts of the earth, as bound by a covenant, shall no more hurt or destroy God's believing people; and all their brutal persecutors, with the old lion their ruler, shall be for ever disabled from injuring them. Then wars shall cease in all the earth, and, quiet from fear of evil, they shall lie down safely, under the guardian care of their almighty Lord and Saviour. Note; (1.) When God is our friend, who can harm us? (2.) Whether we lie down on beds of sleep, or in the dust of death, we may, if faithful, alike serene, quietly repose on Jesus, and be assured that under his wings we must be safe.
4. God will anew take them into a covenant of marriage, notwithstanding their former divorce. I will betroth thee unto me for ever; which may refer to the Jews in particular, who at last shall be brought again into the visible church of Christ; or may be applied to every particular believer, whether Jew or Gentile, who believes in Christ, and perseveringly cleaves to him. Yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, dealing with them in the most assured sincerity; and in judgment, in such a way as is most perfectly consistent with his justice, though they deserve his wrath instead of his love; and in loving-kindness, to share his warmest regard; and in mercies, bestowing on them every blessing that a sinful soul can need; and this purely flowing not from any merit in them, but from his undeserved favour; and in faithfulness, engaging to fulfil every promise of the covenant to them on his part; and thou shalt know the Lord, his excellence, glory, and love. Blessed and happy is the soul that is in such a case!
5. God will enrich them with the blessings of the basket and the store; or rather the better spiritual blessings of grace are represented by the corn and wine. They had before been threatened with the destruction of their worldly comforts; but now, being restored to God's favour, they shall regain the creature-good that they had forfeited; and this is represented by a beautiful figure, wherein the prayers of the whole creation, which groans under the curse of sin, are represented as ascending into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. I will hear the heavens, or answer their cry, desiring permission to drop down the dew, without which they are as brass over the sinner's head; and the heavens shall hear the earth, gasping for want of rain; and the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil, withering for drought; and they shall hear Jezreel, furnishing an abundant supply for the famished people. Thus does the dew of heavenly influences descend on the thirsty soul; and under the dispensation of the word and ordinances of Christ, such quickening, comforting, and strengthening grace is dispensed, that God's believing people grow up, and bring forth the abundant fruits of righteousness and true holiness.
6. God will greatly increase the number of his Israel. I will sow her unto me in the earth; either the dispersed Israelites, who had been scattered in all lands, and in their days of captivity seemed buried as seed beneath the clods of the valley, but shall at last spring up more numerous than ever; or, by the preaching of the word of Gospel grace, that divine feed should be sown, whence a glorious harvest should be gathered of Israelites indeed, of true believers, the seed of God as the word Jezreel signifies.
7. God will reverse the sentence pronounced upon them, and change their ominous names. They shall no more be called Lo-ammi and Lo-ruhamah; for I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy, both Jews and Gentiles, to whom the apostle expressly applies this promise, Rom 9:25 and I will say to them which were not my people, the Gentiles before the Gospel came unto them, and the Jews who for a while are cut off from their relation to God till the fulness of the Gentiles is come in, Thou art my people, restored and recovered, through Jesus Christ, to his love and protection; and they shall say, Thou art my God, enabled by faith to embrace the promises, and to approve their fidelity to him. Note; (1.) The salvation of the sinner is an act of God's infinite mercy, and not of any merit of ours. (2.) None are so bad as to be beyond the reach of this mercy while on this side eternity, and therefore never to be despaired of. (3.) The greater of all mercies is, to have God for our own God; every possible blessing is comprehended in that relation.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Hosea 2". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
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