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A reproof of manifold sins. God's wrath against the people for their hypocrisy.
Before Christ 780.
Hosea 7:1. When I would have healed, &c.— Some commentators close the foregoing chapter with the former clause of the last verse; and read the present verse thus, When I would have turned away the captivity of my people, when I would have healed, &c.—and the wickedness of Samaria; that they committed falsehood; and the thief, &c.
Hosea 7:2. Have beset them about— Compass them about.
Hosea 7:4. They are all adulterers— In this and the following verses, Hosea makes a twofold comparison of the Israelites to an oven, and to dough. Jeroboam the son of Nebat set fire to his own oven, and put the leaven in his dough; and afterwards went to sleep; leaving an opportunity to the fire to heat his oven, and the leaven to raise his dough. This prince, determining to make his subjects relinquish their ancient religion, set fire in some measure to his oven, and mixed his dough with leaven. He himself used no violence; he contented himself with exhorting and proclaiming a feast. This fire spread very rapidly; and his bread was very soon infected with leaven. All Israel is seen running to the feast, and participating in these innovations. But what shall become of the oven, and the bread?—The oven shall be consumed by the flames. The king, princes, and people, shall be involved in its conflagration, Hosea 7:7. Israel was put under the ashes, as a loaf well-baked and leavened; but, no care being taken to turn it, it was intirely burnt on one side, before those who had prepared it could eat it; and enemies and strangers came and carried off the loaf. See. Hosea 7:8-9.
Hosea 7:5. The princes, &c.— The princes began to rage, or to be overheated with wine, &c. Houbigant.
Hosea 7:6. For they have made ready, &c.— Their heart burns as an oven; their fury smoketh forth all the night; and in the morn it burneth as a flame of fire. Houbigant.
Hosea 7:7. They are all hot as an oven— The prophet here describes the punishment of their crimes, keeping up the similitude under which he represented those crimes; as much as to say, "Because they have grown hot with wine, &c. like an oven, they shall be burned like an oven with the same fire which they have kindled. In this fire their judges, &c. shall be consumed." See Houbigant.
All their kings are fallen— The prophesy looks forward to the fall of the six last kings in perpetual succession, Zechariah, Shallum, Menahem, Pekahiah, Pekah, Hoshea.
Hosea 7:8. Among the people; Ephraim is a cake, &c.— Among the heathen, &c. This similitude of Ephraim to a cake, is accommodated to the Hebrew word בלל balal, rendered mixed, and which properly signifies the ingredients wherewith cakes are made, that they may be baked covered over with ashes and embers. Ephraim is said to mix himself with the heathen, partly because he worshipped their gods, and partly because he called in their aid, and made covenants with them. We have in the Observations an account from Rauwolf, of the manner in which the cakes here spoken of were made, and which is the best comment on these words of the prophet. Speaking of his entertainment in the tent of a Curter, on the other side the Euphrates, he says, "The woman was not idle, but brought us milk and eggs to eat, so that we wanted for nothing: she made also some dough for cakes, which were about a finger thick, and about the bigness of a trencher; as is usual to do in the wildernesses, and sometimes, in towns also. She laid them on hot stones; and kept turning them, and at length she threw the ashes and embers over them, and so baked them thoroughly. They were very good to eat, and very savoury." When Ephraim is said to be a cake not turned, it must mean "baked on one side;" that is to say, serving God by halves, and halting between his service and the worship of idols. See Observations, p. 135.
Hosea 7:10. The pride of Israel, &c.— See chap. Hosea 5:5.
Hosea 7:11. Ephraim—is like a silly dove— Or, one which the fowler easily intercepts by his snares. Ephraim was deceived by the foolish counsels of those men, who are just before said to have their heads besprinkled with grey hairs; who now advised to go to the Egyptians, and now to the Assyrians; in the following of whose counsels Ephraim could not avoid falling into snares; because these nations were at enmity together; so that he could not unite with one, without incurring the opposition of the other.
Hosea 7:12. I will chastise them, &c.— I will then chastise them, when they shall follow the counsel given them. That is, "I will make those very nations, whose aid they implore, the means of punishing them."
Hosea 7:14. And they have not cried unto me, &c.— Nor do they cry unto me from their heart: They howl on their beds, for the want of corn and wine. They are enraged, and take counsel or rebel against me. Houbigant.
Hosea 7:15. Though I have bound, &c.— But I will chastise them. I strengthened their arms, yet did they, &c.
Hosea 7:16. They return, but not to the Most High— They have endeavoured again to be without yoke: They are become like a deceitful bow: Their princes shall fall by the sword. For the wantonness of their tongue, they shall be a derision in the land of Egypt. Houbigant. Bishop Horsley translates the first clause of this verse, They fall back into nothingness of condition, observing, That the situation of the Israelites, as the chosen people of God, was a high degree; a rank of distinction and pre-eminence among the nations of the earth. By their voluntary defection to idolatry, they debased themselves from this exaltation, and returned to the ordinary level of the heathen; so far above which the mercy of God had raised them. Thus voluntarily descending from their nobility of condition, the Israelites returned to Not-High. For so the Hebrew על לא lo al, literally sound.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, We have here,
1. What God had done for Israel. I would have healed; restoring their civil state under Jeroboam the son of Joash to a flourishing condition, 2Ki 14:25-26 or under Jehu, destroying the worship of Baal, 2Ki 10:25-30 and thus by his mercies he called upon them to forsake all their idolatries, and turn to him with their whole hearts.
2. They refused to be healed, when God had dealt with them in so much mercy; then the iniquity of Ephraim was discovered, and the wickedness of Samaria, the golden calves, were still kept, and their idolatries grew more open and infamous, and with them a train of iniquities entered.
[1.] They commit falsehood in their transactions with men, perfidious and deceiving, and in their professions to God hypocritical.
[2.] They were a set of banditti; the thief cometh in, and the troop of robbers spoileth without: their perfidy to each other was such, that they were given up in the just judgment of God to be devoured one of another.
[3.] They left God far above out of their sight. They consider nor in their hearts that I remember all their wickedness, either careless about it, or infidel, as if God did not see, or would not punish them; though he is the jealous God, who will in no wise spare the guilty, and from whom nothing is hid, nothing is secret. Now their own doings have beset them about, their sins are open, multiplied, notorious; which every observer may discover, and much more God's all-seeing eye; they are before my face: some understand this of the punishment that their sins should bring upon them; as when Samaria was besieged, then it would be past doubt that God observed, and would punish them for their iniquities. Note; (1.) Every sin has for its root infidelity. We promise ourselves impunity in our disregard of God's threatenings, and then dare to offend. (2.) Sooner or later God will convince the sinner, that he remembers his ways.
[4.] They make the king glad with their wickedness, and the princes with their lies. The people readily conformed to their ordinances, and worshipped the calves, while the priests flattered themselves with assurances, that God was as well served at Dan or Beth-el, as at Jerusalem: or, to curry favour, they were ever ready to blacken those whom the princes disliked, and with lying praises to cry up their favourites.
[5.] They are all adulterers, king, princes, priests, and people, both corporally and spiritually inflamed with lasciviousness, as an oven heated by the baker, who waiteth till his dough is leavened, and the oven thoroughly heated, and then puts in his loaves: so do these adulterers entertain their corrupt desires, and contrive how to gratify them; and when their schemes are ripe, they lie in wait, to perpetrate their wickedness. Note; They who thus burn in their lusts, may expect shortly to burn in hell.
[6.] They were given up to drunkenness and revelling. In the day of our king, his birth-day, or the anniversary of his coronation, or some festival instituted by him, then they caroused without restraint; the princes have made him sick with bottles of wine, for this is one of the curses attendant upon drunkenness; he stretched out his hand with scorners; they grew daring over their cups, and with the king at their head made a jest of religion, and blasphemed the Most High; for when men are intoxicated with liquor, they stop at no impiety or wickedness. They have made ready their heart like an oven, their drunkenness has set fire to their evil desires; they lie in wait to seize their prey. As the baker kindles the fire, and, sleeping till morning, finds his oven hot, so burned their lewd hearts. Note; Drunkenness is not only highly criminal in itself, but it is the door at which every enormity enters uncontrolled.
[7.] They have devoured their judges, hot as an oven in wrath against them, and killing those magistrates who attempted to punish them for their crimes. All their kings are fallen; they were regicides, and joined with successive usurpers to murder one monarch after another.
[8.] They were sunk in hardened stupidity. There is none among them that calleth unto me; neither the ravages committed at home, nor the inroads of their enemies from abroad, nor any of the distresses in which they were involved, turned their thoughts to God, or brought them to their knees. Note; They who live without prayer, must continue hardened, and perish in their sins.
2nd, The sins and punishments of Israel are interwoven.
1. They were mingled among the heathen, either by intermarriages contrary to God's law, or by their alliances with them, and solicitations of assistance from them; or, worst of all, by learning their idolatries, and conforming to their customs. Ephraim is a cake not turned, burnt on one side, and dough on the other, and therefore unfit for use: the mixture of heathen superstition destroyed all the acceptableness of their worship to God. Note; (1.) Bad company is ever corrupting; they who mingle with such, will grow like them. (2.) Many professors are made up of inconsistences, and, like a cake not turned, are ever swinging to extremes.
2. They were insensible of the decays under which they were hasting to dissolution. Strangers have devoured his strength, see 2 Kings 13:7; 2Ki 15:19; 2Ki 20:21 and he knoweth it not, is not sensible of the loss sustained; yea, grey hairs are here and there upon him, the speaking symptoms of old age and death approaching; yet he knoweth not, is not aware of his danger, nor sensible how near he is to the precipice of ruin. Note; Declensions in religion, like these grey hairs, steal insensibly on many; and, though others perceive them distinctly, the backslider himself is not aware of them.
3. They were proud and unhumbled; all the mortifying providences that they had undergone did not bring down their high thoughts of themselves, nor engage their penitent return to God. Notwithstanding their growing weakness and hastening ruin, they do not return to the Lord their God, nor seek him for all this; and this is the worst symptom of a sinner's case, when he still restrains prayer before God.
4. They were like a silly dove without heart, both foolish and timorous; and, instead of seeking to God in their distress, they call to Egypt for assistance, 2 Kings 17:4. They go to Assyria for help, the people who had ever been the implacable enemies of their nation: and waited only an opportunity to devour them. So senseless is the sinner; he courts those as his best friends who are his tempters and destroyers; but God will make them rue their folly; when they shall go, I will spread my net upon them, and bring them into difficulties inextricable; I will bring them down as the fowls of the heaven, from the height of pride; I will chastise them, as their congregation hath heard; sending upon them the judgments which they had heard so often read in his word, Leviticus 26:0. Deuteronomy 28:0. Note; (1.) They who leave the good ways of God, will soon find themselves entangled in misery. (2.) Pride must come down in humiliation, or be cast down by divine judgments. (3.) We should well observe the warnings of God's word, for not one jot or tittle of that shall fail.
5. They were revolters, rebellious, hypocritical, and ungrateful, notwithstanding all that God had done for them. Woe unto them! they rush on their own ruin, for they have fled from me; rejected his service, deserted his worship, and placed no dependence upon him; following their calves, and seeking to their neighbours in time of trouble, instead of God. Destruction unto them, sure and inevitable! because they have transgressed against me, violating his laws by the most atrocious crimes, and these aggravated by all the wondrous mercies that they had received at God's hands; though I have redeemed them of old so often, and of late so eminently out of the hands of their enemies, 2 Kings 14:25. Yet they have spoken lies against me, setting up their idols, or hypocritically pretending reformation; or denying his word in the mouth of his prophets, or atheistically disbelieving his being or his providence. And they have not cried unto me with their heart, even when their sufferings extorted prayers from their lips, when they howled upon their beds, under God's heavy hand, or in their idol temples the beds of their adultery. They wanted to be rid of their sufferings, not of their sins; and then their loudest roarings were no better than the howlings of dogs; for no prayer can be acceptable to God, whilst unrepented iniquities are still embraced. They assemble themselves for corn and wine; these were the grand objects of their desires; they sought no spiritual blessings, but only asked meat for their lusts; no wonder, therefore, such applications were rejected. And they rebel against me, rejecting his government, and seeking to dethrone him, in order to exalt their idols in his seat. Though I have bound and strengthened their arms, healing their breaches under Joash and Jeroboam, yet do they imagine mischief against me, persecuting his prophets, who rebuked them in God's name for their sins, or giving to their idols the honour of their successes, and charging God as the author of all their evils; thus with basest ingratitude requiting him. They return, they made a shew of doing so, as in the times of Jehu, but not to the Most High; they quickly relapsed into idolatry; or not on high, their affections are not led up to high and heavenly things, but grovel still on earth; they are like a deceitful bow, whose arrow misses the mark, or breaks in the archer's hand as he draws the string; so did they disappoint the expectations which their professions had raised. Therefore their princes shall fall by the sword of the Assyrians, or of conspirators, for the rage of their tongue, their blasphemies against God, and reviling all his prophets: this shall be their derision in the land of Egypt, the Egyptians will mock at their calamities, instead of bringing them assistance. Note; (1.) The effects of the sinner's tongue shall at last fall upon him. (2.) They who by their wickedness bring themselves into trouble, instead of pity justly meet with derision.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Hosea 7". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29