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Hosea 8:1. Set the trumpet to thy mouth— Let the trumpet in thy mouth sound against the house of Judah. Houbigant. Hosea in this and the three following verses prophesies against Judah. Those who follow our interpretation suppose, that by the eagle here spoken of is meant Nebuchadnezzar. See Ezekiel 17:3.
Hosea 8:2. Israel shall cry— They shall cry.
Hosea 8:3. Israel hath cast off— Israel, Israel, &c.
Hosea 8:5-6. Thy calf, O Samaria— Houbigant reads these verses thus: Mine anger is kindled against them: when will they attain to innocency? Thy calf, O Samaria, shall be cast off: It had Israel for its founder: the workman made it; nor is it a god. Therefore the calf of Samaria shall be consumed in the fire.
Hosea 8:7. For they have sown the wind, &c.— Because they have sown the wind, they shall reap the whirlwind: The stalk shall be without grain: It shall yield no meal; and if it yield it, strangers shall devour it. These proverbial expressions are used to signify that the rewards of men will always be according to their works. Jehovah, Jesus, whose right it is to judge, hath thus determined. They who sow iniquity, shall reap vanity. All the pains which the kings of Israel have taken to enrich themselves, and to strengthen their kingdom, being built on the foundation of apostacy and idolatry, shall prove like a blasted crop of corn; the small increase whereof, if there be any, shall become a prey to their enemy. See Lowth and Houbigant.
The first clause of this 7th verse, observes Bishop Horsley, predicts generally the dispersion of the ten tribes, and the demolition of their monarchy by the force of the Assyrian, represented under the image of a scattering wind and destroying whirlwind. The following clauses describe the progressive steps of the calamity, in an inverted order. "There shall be no stem belonging to him:" Nothing standing erect and visible in the field; that is, the nation shall be ultimately so utterly extinguished, that it shall not be to be found upon the surface of the earth. But before this utter ruin takes place, it shall be impoverished, and reduced to great weakness. For "the ear," upon the stem yet standing, shall be an ear of empty husks, "yielding no meal." The nation shall not thrive in wealth or power. "And what perchance it may yield, strangers shall consume." Before the extreme decay, represented by the barren ear, takes place; its occasional temporary successes, in its last struggles, will all be for the enrichment and aggrandizement of foreign allies, at last the conquerors of the country.
Hosea 8:9-10. For they are gone up to Assyria— These verses are connected with that preceding, and are thus translated by Houbigant: Because they go to the Assyrian, though the Assyrian is nothing more than a wild ass, [one who has no regard for any thing but himself,] Hosea 8:10. Ephraim sends love-presents: Because they have sent these, I will immediately gather them among the nations; and truly they shall be refreshed a little from the burden of the king and the princes. This is spoken ironically, and refers to the heavy tributes which were imposed upon the people for the support of the wars, and to the alliances which Israel was then forming.
Ephraim hath hired lovers— The prophesy alludes not exclusively to the bargain with Pul, but to the general profusion of the government in forming foreign alliances; in which the latter kings both of Israel and Judah were equally culpable; as appears by the history of the collateral reigns of Ahaz and Pekah. Lovers: every forbidden alliance with idolaters was a part of the spiritual incontinence of the nation. The Hebrew word התנו hithnu, rendered hired, might be more literally rendered gifted, or endowed. But to preserve any thing of the spirit of the original, it is necessary to use a word here capable of being applied to military bounties in the next verse. In the next verse God says, that whatever bounties the Israelites might offer, in order to raise armies of foreign auxiliaries; he would embody those armies; he would press the men, paid by their money, into his own service against them.
Hosea 8:11. Because Ephraim hath made, &c.— This verse may be thus paraphrased: "Since Ephraim, forsaking God, and that one altar, at which alone he required them to serve him, idolatrously multiplied altars to themselves,—altars against his command; (to do which was manifestly a sin in them;) therefore should those their beloved altars be accordingly occasions of great sin; and as such imputed to them to their condemnation. God would give them up to run on in their evil courses, till their iniquity was full, and they ripe for destruction; and then deliver them into the hands of their enemies, who should compel them to do that service at and to their idolatrous altars, which should appear a manifest punishment so them for those of their own. So should they be punished by that wherein they had offended." See Pococke.
Hosea 8:12. I have written, &c.— And thus will I inscribe him [Ephraim]; they who were the masters [or teachers] of my law, are esteemed as strangers; "are become utterly useless;" Hosea 8:8. God supported the Jews, that they might support the true religion; which as they had now neglected to do, there was no reason why God should support and defend them against the neighbouring kings. See Houbigant.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, The prophet is here commanded to spread the alarm, Set the trumpet to thy mouth, and deliver at least his own soul, if he cannot save theirs.
1. He charges them in general as rebels and traitors against the Lord their king; they have transgressed my covenant, and trespassed against my law, by a variety of crimes, in direct violation of it, and by a general apostacy of heart from God, and disregard of his worship and service. Israel hath cast off the thing that is good, or, him that is good, even God; justly therefore are they rejected by him.
2. Because of this, the enemy shall pursue him: Salmaneser, the Assyrian king; he shall come as an eagle against the house of the Lord, so they called themselves, and thought their relation to him as his family would be their protection; but when they had turned out such undutiful and rebellious children, God gave them into the enemy's hand; and, swift as an eagle hasteth to her prey, should he seize their country, and spread desolation on every side. Note; No external relation to God can profit us, if our hearts are alienated from him.
3. In their distress they will plead for help, as God's people. Israel shall cry unto me, but in vain, My God, we know thee, claiming an interest in him, and professing to know him as the true God; but their professions are hypocritical, and therefore their prayers are rejected.
4. Several particular crimes are charged upon them. [1.] They have set up kings, but not by me; they took the government at first out of his hands, when he was their king; revolted from the house of David, and set up Jeroboam; and about this time several had mounted the throne successively on the murder of their predecessors, 2Ki 15:8 and herein the people had not consulted God at all, but followed their own humour, and gratified their own passions; they have made princes, and I knew it not, without his approbation or consent, affecting independence, and shewing an utter disregard to God's honour and pleasure: and they may not hope to prosper who thus take their affairs into their own hands, and leave God far above out of their sight. [2.] They not only made themselves kings, but gods also; of their silver and their gold have they made them idols; and to this day the covetous do the same; that they may be cut off by their enemies, the Assyrians, when their gods of gold could yield them no assistance. Thy calf, O Samaria, hath cast thee off, was the cause of their being rejected of God, and given to the sword and to captivity; or hath deserted thee, failed their hopes in the day of trouble, and was seized among other spoils, and carried away by the king of Assyria. Probably, when Samaria became the capital, another calf might be erected there, or one of those from Dan or Beth-el was removed. thither: mine anger is kindled against them, the idolaters, who worshipped the work of their own hands. From Israel was it also, erected with the approbation of the people, and molten out of their treasures; the workman made it, therefore it is not God, a most conclusive and irrefragable argument; but the calf, or for the calf, of Samaria shall be broken in pieces, a sure proof of its vanity; so far from helping them, it could not rescue itself from the hands of the enemy.
5. The prophet expostulates with them on their folly and obstinacy. How long will it be ere they attain to innocency? leaving these wretched dependencies, and returning to the pure worship of God; nor any longer provoke the fierce anger of the Lord. Note; It is the grief of ministers to behold the perverseness of sinners, and they cannot but warmly remonstrate against their provocations.
6. He warns them of the fatal issue of their ways. For they have sown the wind, in the fruitless labours of their idolatrous worship, and their expectation of help from these vanities, and they shall reap the whirlwind; they shall not merely be disappointed of their harvest, but reap their own destruction, swept away by the Assyrian army, as by a resistless whirlwind; it hath no stalk, their seed produces nothing; the bud shall yield no meal, withered with blasting and mildew; and if so be it yield, the strangers shall swallow it up; so far would it be from a blessing to them, that when they prospered and grew wealthy in their sinful and idolatrous courses, their riches would be a temptation to their enemies to come and plunder them. And thus will every sinner and hypocrite's hope perish; they will reap as they sow, and find by dire experience that the wages of sin is death.
2nd, They who forsake God, forsake their own mercies.
1. Israel's ruin is foretold. Israel is swallowed up, their whole country shall be devoured, and themselves led captive by the Assyrians: now shall they be among the Gentiles, as a vessel wherein is no pleasure, dispersed, contemptible, and mean. They had profaned the crown of their glory, and therefore justly were trodden under foot. Note; They who dishonour their holy profession, deserve to be made despicable.
2. The cause of their desolations is, their departure from God. For they are gone up to Assyria, to engage their assistance, 2 Kings 15:19 a wild ass alone by himself, so obstinate, unruly, and headstrong were they in their ways; or such they should become when carried captive, they should experience every hardship in a strange land. Ephraim hath hired lovers, by expensive presents endeavouring to purchase the friendship of the neighbouring nations; thus deserting God, and changing a rock for a reed. Note; The sinner is as foolish as he is wicked; and instead of the happiness that he expects, really courts his own ruin.
3. Their lovers whom they courted will prove their destroyers. Though they have hired among the nations, now will I gather them, either their enemies against them, or themselves into the midst of their besieged cities, as sheaves on the floor; and they shall sorrow a little for the burden of the king of princes; the tribute imposed upon them by the king of Assyria, which is the prelude to greater evils approaching, and which should bring more bitter sorrows along with them. God thus gives warning before he strikes, and brings sinners first into lesser troubles, to see if that will lead them to repentance, before he pours out the vials of his wrath.
4. Their multiplied temples, altars, and sacrifices, shall stand them in no stead. Because Ephraim hath made many altars to sin, to offer sin-offerings upon them with great shew of devotion, altars shall be unto him to sin; so far from expiating his crimes, the very altars would aggravate them, as being reared contrary to the divine prescription, Deu 12:3-5 and dedicated to the honour of the calves, and other idols. I have written to him the great things of my law, wherein all the great things which pertain unto life and godliness were clearly set forth; what God required of them, in what manner he would be worshipped and served, what sacrifices should be offered, and where; and what was the great end of the sacrifices, even to lead them to that atoning Blood that should be shed in the fulness of time; but they were counted as a strange thing, they paid no regard to the institutions of God; and, after long disuse, counted the prophets who would bring them back to the true worship and service of God, as setters forth of strange doctrines. They sacrifice flesh for the sacrifices of mine offerings, and eat it; instead of offering it to God, they feasted upon it themselves, and made their devotions minister to their luxury; no wonder, therefore, that the Lord accepteth them not, neither them nor their offerings; now will he remember their iniquity, and visit their sins, so far from pardoning them, that the very sacrifices of atonement which they offered should only add to their iniquities: they shall return to Egypt, Whither many fled on the Assyrian invasion, and miserably perished, chap. Hosea 9:3; Hos 9:6 or their captivity in Babylon should be as another Egyptian bondage. For Israel hath forgotten his Maker, his worship and ways, and buildeth temples to idols; and Judah hath multiplied fenced cities, placing their confidence on these feeble bulwarks, instead of the arm of Omnipotence; but I will send a fire upon his cities, and it shall devour the palaces thereof, which we see fearfully accomplished, Jeremiah 52:0. Note. (1.) God's own word, not our fancies, must be the directory of our worship. (2.) The law of God contains great things to the enlightened mind, even the way to pardon, peace, life, and glory everlasting. If the things contained therein, to any appear strange and unaccountable, it is owing to the corruption, blindness, and ignorance of their fallen minds. (3.) Let not that which God hath written for our learning, be suffered to become strange through our neglect. (4.) Sacrifices for sin, while the love of it is unmortified, are abominable; they who think by their duties thus to commute for their iniquities, will find the works in which they chiefly trusted, turned into sin. (5.) They who think to fence against God's judgments, only build Babel walls.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Hosea 8". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/