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God's judgments against the priests, the people, and the princes of Israel, for their manifold sins, until they repent.
Before Christ 780.
Hosea 5:1. Hear this, O priests— We may collect from this passage, that there was on Mizpah, beyond Jordan, and upon Tabor, on this side of it, either golden calves or other idols, whose worship was favoured by the great men of Israel. The rabbies tell us, that Jeroboam placed garrisons at Tabor and Mizpah, to prevent the people from going up to Jerusalem. But if Hosea alluded to garrisons, he would rather have spoken of force than of snares. See Houbigant.
Hosea 5:2. And the revolters are profound, &c.— Have gone deep in slaughter: I will call them all to discipline. Calmet. The Hebrew word שׂטים setiim, which we translate the revolters, signifies scouts on horseback, attendants on the chace, whose business it was to scour the country all around, and drive the wild beasts into the toils. The priests and rulers are accused as the seducers of the people to apostacy and idolatry, not merely by their own ill example but with premeditated design, under the image of hunters deliberately spreading their nets and snares upon the mountains. And their agents and emissaries, in this nefarious project, are represented under the image of scouts on horseback in this destructive chace. The toils and nets are whatever in the external form of idolatry was calculated to captivate the minds of men: magnificent temples, stately altars, images richly adorned, the gaiety of festivals, the pomp, and, in many instances, even the horror of the public rites. All which was supported by the government at a vast expence. The imagery therefore in this passage represents a spiritual chace. The wild beasts are men, not influenced and re-retained by the true principles of religion: the principal hunters, the kings of Israel and the apostate priests, who, from motives of self-interest, and a mistaken and wicked policy, encouraged idolatry, and supported its institutions: the scouts on horseback, the subordinate agents in the business: the slaughter, spiritual slaughter of the souls of men.
Hosea 5:4. They will not frame their doings— They will not give their thoughts, or minds. Houbigant.
Hosea 5:5. And the pride— The arrogance of Israel is discovered in his countenance. Houbigant.
Hosea 5:6. They shall go with their flocks, &c.— They shall run up and down, from altar to altar, with all their stock, as if they could buy off their sins and redeem their sorrows by hecatombs and holocausts. They think that they have merited better at the hands of Jehovah by their thousands of rams and ten thousand rivers of oil, (Micah 6:7.) than to fall, as in the former verse; or to be relinquished by him, as here. Lo, this is the conduct of graceless hypocrites: by their mere outward performances they think to oblige God, and by their good deeds to atone for their bad.
Hosea 5:7. For they have begotten, &c.— By their alliance with strange women, contrary to the law. Or, it may have a spiritual allusion to their vices and deviations. Instead of, Now shall a month, &c. Houbigant reads, Now shall the canker consume their inheritance. Some, however, understand it as alluding to the space of time in which the Assyrians should come and devour Israel.
Hosea 5:8. Blow ye the cornet in Gibeah— Lo! the cornet is sounded in Gibeah; and the trumpet in Ramah: howlings are heard at Beth-aven, behind thee, O Benjamin. Houbigant. The prophet here declares the approach of the Assyrian, in the same animated style and manner as Isaiah, chap. Isaiah 10:28, &c.
Hosea 5:9. Ephraim shall be desolate in the day of rebuke— God has his day of sharp rebukes or chidings for every impenitent sinner; in which sufficient arguments shall be used to render him utterly inexcusable, if he reject them: so that Ephraim shall have nothing to say, why he should not be desolated; yea, so desolated, as to make the beholders amazed thereat, as the Hebrew word שׁמה shammah, imports: the day which now comes, is a day, not of correction but of execution.
Hosea 5:10. The princes of Judah, &c.— "They have violated the most sacred laws of the Almighty, upon which not only the ordinances of his worship, but also the rights and properties of men depend; and are become guilty of the same injustice and confusion with those who remove the ancient land-marks." See Eze 46:18 and Pococke.
Hosea 5:11. Ephraim is oppressed— Ephraim shall be oppressed, shall be broken in judgment, because it pleased him to walk after vain things. Houbigant.
Hosea 5:12. Therefore will I be unto Ephraim as a moth— A moth in the garment, a worm in the flesh. From small and unperceived beginnings, working a slow, but certain and complete destruction.
Hosea 5:13. When Ephraim saw his sickness, &c.— Houbigant translates this verse throughout in the future. Ephraim shall see,—shall go, &c. and instead of king Jareb, he reads, to the king his avenger; meaning the Assyrian, Tiglath-Pileser, before mentioned.
Hosea 5:15. I will go, and return, &c.— "I will give them up to exile, and withdraw myself, till with a sincere humiliation they implore my favour." The Chaldee expresses the sense in the. following manner: "I will take away my majestic presence from among them, and will return into heaven."
REFLECTIONS.—1st, Again the prophet returns to the charge, and cites the king, priests, and people of Israel, to hear their accusation and doom from God, who knew all their wickedness, however hypocritically covered, or committed in secret. Note; (1.) No sinner is so great as to be above God's judgments, or so mean as to be overlooked by him. (2.) God knoweth the hidden things of darkness; nor can the shadow of death hide the workers of iniquity.
1. He charges a variety of crimes upon them: [1.] They studied to draw their neighbours to join in their idolatries: Ye have been a snare on Mizpah, and a net spread upon Tabor; two mountains, where probably their idol altars stood near the borders of Judah, as snares set by hunters to entrap their game. Some have suggested, that here Jeroboam placed spies to see who went up to Jerusalem at the solemn feasts, that they might be prosecuted for it on their return. Note; They, who under the cloak of friendship would entice us into sin, are our most mortal enemies. [2.] The revolters are profound to make slaughter; apostates being the bitterest persecutors; they who had themselves revolted from God, laid snares to murder those who refused to comply with their wicked ways: or, as the words may be interpreted, they offered vast sacrifices with a show of devotion; to provide noble entertainments, in order to reduce the unwary to join with them; though I have been a rebuker of them all; God by his prophet had awfully and repeatedly warned them of their wickedness, yet they still persisted in it; and this greatly aggravated their guilt. [3.] They committed fornication: the spirit of whoredoms possessed their hearts, and the acts of it defiled their bodies; this God saw, who searcheth the heart, and whose eye no deeds of darkness, however secretly committed, can escape. Let guilty sinners know it and tremble. [4.] They were wilfully ignorant, and obstinately perverse: They will not frame their doings to turn unto their God; utterly averse to all the means and methods which might lead to their convection; and they have not known the Lord; for indeed they desired not the knowledge of his ways. [5.] The pride of Israel doth testify to his face; so open, avowed, and notorious, they were grown insolent in sin, and past shame, as their very looks declared. [6.] They dealt treacherously against the Lord; as a wife that leaves her husband for another: they have begotten strange children; either living in fornication, or intermingling in marriages with the heathen, or bringing up their children in the same idolatries which they themselves committed; and dreadful is that parent's guilt, whose children's murdered souls, destroyed by his example, or bad instructions, shall cry for vengeance against him.
2. He pronounces sentence upon them: Judgment is toward you. God is ready to call them to his bar, and make them know his terrible wrath. They shall fall in their iniquity; under the load of unrepented guilt: and Judah shall fall with them; who, copying their wicked ways, shall partake of their ruin, led captive with them into the same strange land. So surely shall companions in sin suffer together; and they who persist in their iniquities shall in them assuredly perish: nor shall their forced return to God in the day of their distress stand them in any stead. Though they go with their flocks and with their herds to seek the Lord, their hearts being unhumbled, and their prayers merely extorted by the apprehension of danger, God will pay no regard to them; they shall not find him, so as to obtain any favour or protection; he hath withdrawn himself from them, and left them to their deserved ruin. There is a time when God will be no more entreated; and they who will not know the day of their visitation shall be disregarded when they cry in the day of their calamity; and now their swift destruction approaches, a month shall devour them with their portions; they, and all they possess, shall be shortly ruined. Or this may refer to their new-moons and sacrifices, on which they relied; but, so far from being of use to them, their hypocritical services added but to their guilt, and hastened the wrath of God upon them. Note; (1.) The sinner's day is near, when vengeance will overtake him. (2.) They who take up with their portion in this world, will find to their sorrow how wretched a choice they have made.
2nd, The judgment was denounced, and lo! it is even now at the door.
1. The alarm is sounded: Blow ye the cornet in Gibeah, and the trumpet in Ramah; the frontier towns of Judah, to let them know the approach of the enemy: cry aloud at Beth-aven: after thee, O Benjamin; the enemy is on thy back, and ready to advance from the conquest of Israel to invade Judaea. When our neighbour's house is on fire, it is high time to look to our own. The ruin of those who are cut off in their sins, should be a warning to the survivors.
2. The destruction of Ephraim had been long foretold: Ephraim shall be desolate in the day of rebuke; led captive by Salmaneser: among the tribes of Israel have I made known that which shall surely be; the prophets repeatedly gave them notice of what would be the consequence of their sins; but they rejected their admonitions, and disbelieved their prophesies, and therefore were without excuse. Note; Sinners turn a deaf ear to the denunciations of God's wrath, and would fain treat them as chimaeras; but they will find them terrible realities, and things that shall surely be.
3. The princes of Judah took no warning by their neighbours' fall, but equalled them in iniquity, and therefore must perish together with them. The princes of Judah were like them that remove the bound, or land-mark; paid no regard to property, but oppressed their inferiors, and seized their possessions: or, figuratively taken, they refused to be kept within any bounds by God's law, and broke through every restraint: therefore I will pour out my wrath upon them like water; which, as the deluge, shall sweep them away. Note; They who abuse their power to oppression, shall be made to know that there is a judge above, the patron of the injured, and the avenger of their wrongs.
4. Ephraim's sin and ruin are again mentioned. [1.] Their sin. They willingly walked after the commandment; obeying the orders of Jeroboam and his idolatrous successors, who enjoined the worship of the calves: and, far from opposing these impious commands, the people, very well pleased with the idolatrous worship, readily complied with them. For this God threatens, [2.] To punish them. Ephraim is oppressed, and broken in judgment; this was a part of their immediate sufferings, being ruled by tyrants, and broken with the oppression and injustice of their princes and magistrates; and this was a just judgment upon them. They who willingly became slaves to the impious commands of their princes, deserved the galling yoke laid upon them. Servility invites the exercise of tyranny. Therefore will I be unto Ephraim as a moth; silently, and by degrees weakening them, and bringing them to destruction: and to the house of Judah as rottenness in the bones, that spreads, and destroys me substance; or a worm that eats into the heart of the tree, and it withers away. Note; Vengeance comes slowly, that sinners may have space to repent; but if they neglect the warnings given them, they are sure to be undone at the last.
5. The methods that they took to help their weakness were sinful, and proved ineffectual: When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah saw his wound, then went Ephraim to the Assyrian, and sent to king Jareb; probably the same with Pul, or Tiglath-Pileser, (see 2Ki 15:19; 2 Kings 16:7; 2 Kings 17:3.) yet could he not heal you, nor cure you of your wound; on the contrary, he increased, instead of relieving their malady, and helped forward their ruin, 2 Kings 15:29. 2 Chronicles 28:20. So surely will they, who fly to creature dependencies, and forsake God, find them miserable comforters, and rue their foolish choice.
6. Provoked by such conduct, God threatens them with heavier judgments. Before, he was but as a moth; but now, I will be unto Ephraim as a lion, and as a young lion to the house of Judah; devouring and destroying them by his judgments, and by the sword of the Assyrians: I, even I, will tear and go away as a lion, fearless of being pursued; I will take away, as that ravenous beast drags the prey to his den, and none shall rescue him; those who survived of the people of Judah and Israel, should be carried captives, and none be able to release them from this afflictive dispensation, till he should return in mercy unto them. I will go and return to my place, abandoning them for a season to their miseries, till his chastisements had humbled their stubborn hearts, and they acknowledge their offence, taking shame for their abominations, and confessing the justice of their punishment; and seek my face for pardon and restoration: for in their affliction, brought to a sense of their sins by the sufferings they endure, they will seek me early; with fervent importunity, rising up betimes, and crying for mercy; and then there is hope that their miseries may come to an end. Note; (1.) When lesser chastisements are ineffectual, God will make sinners feel his heavy hand. (2.) If he depart from the soul, then nothing but misery is left behind him. (3.) When God sometimes appears utterly to have forsaken a people, he still waits for their humiliations and prayers, in order to return and be gracious unto them, if they will but repent. (4.) True penitents are always liberal in acknowledgments and self-reproaches. (5.) The afflictions, however severe, which drive the sinner to seek God's face, are in reality the greatest mercies.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Hosea 5". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30