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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Hosea 7

 

 

Verse 1

When I would have healed Israel, then the iniquity of Ephraim was discovered, and the wickedness of Samaria: for they commit falsehood; and the thief cometh in, and the troop of robbers spoileth without.

Probably delivered in the interreign and civil war at Pekah's death; for Hosea 7:7, "all their kings are fallen," refers to the murder of Zachariah, Shallum, Menahem, Pekahiah, and Pekah: in Hosea 7:8, "Ephraim, he hath mixed himself among the people," the reference seems to be to Menahem's payment of tribute to Pul, in order to secure himself in the usurped throne, also to Pekah's league with Rezin of Syria, and to Hoshea's connection with Assyria during the interreign at Pekah's death (Maurer).

When I would have healed Israel. Israel's restoration of the 200,000 Jewish captives at God's command (2 Chronicles 28:8-15) gave hope of Israel's reformation (Henderson). Political as well as moral healing is meant.

Then the iniquity of Ephraim was discovered, and the wickedness of Samaria: for they commit falsehood; and the thief cometh in, and the troop of robbers spoileth without. Ephraim is specified as being the royal tribe; Samaria as being the royal city. When I would have healed Israel in its calamitous state, then their iniquity was discovered to be so great as to preclude hope of recovery. Then he enumerates their wickednesses: "The thief cometh in (doors stealthily), and the troop of robbers spoileth without" (out of doors with open violence).


Verse 2

And they consider not in their hearts that I remember all their wickedness: now their own doings have beset them about; they are before my face.

And they consider not in their hearts - literally, say not to, etc. (Psalms 14:1). The voice of conscience no longer pleads in the hardened sinner's heart: the man no longer communes seriously with his own heart.

That I remember all their wickedness - and will punish it.

Now - while they are so reckless as not to "consider in their hearts" - at this very moment. Now - while they are so reckless as not to "consider in their hearts" - at this very moment.

Now their own doings have beset them about - as so many witnesses against them (Psalms 9:16; Proverbs 5:22, His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins").

They are before my face - (Psalms 90:8, "Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance").


Verse 3

They make the king glad with their wickedness, and the princes with their lies.

They make the king glad with their wickedness, and the princes with their lies. Their princes, instead of checking, "have pleasure in them that do" such crimes (Romans 1:32).


Verse 4

They are all adulterers, as an oven heated by the baker, who ceaseth from raising after he hath kneaded the dough, until it be leavened.

They are all adulterers, as an oven heated by the baker - "all of them" (so the Hebrew), king, princes, and people, are adulterers.

As an oven heated by the baker. The Hebrew is literally, 'burning from the baker.' This implies that the fire continued to burn of itself, even after the baker ceased to feed it with fuel. So their lusts were ever on fire, even in the short respite Satan gives until his leaven has worked.

Who ceaseth from raising - rather, from HEATING it [ mee`iyr (Hebrew #5782), the Qal infinitive, from 'iyr, to be hot, or to heat], (Gesenius). So the Septuagint Their adulterous and idolatrous lust is inflamed as the oven of a baker, who has it at such a heat that he ceaseth from heating it only from the time that he hath kneaded the dough until it be leavened: he only requires to omit feeding it during the short period of the fermentation of the bread. Compare 2 Peter 2:14, "that cannot cease from sin" (Henderson).


Verse 5

In the day of our king the princes have made him sick with bottles of wine; he stretched out his hand with scorners.

In the day of our king - his birthday, or day of inauguration. The weak and sottish King Zachariah is alluded to, according to Pusey, the last of Jehu's line, and who, as appointed by God, is recognized as lawful king by Hoses, who calls him therefore "our king," bad though he was.

The princes have made him sick - namely, the king. Zachariah was slain after a six months' reign, by Shallum, publicly "before the people," no one interposing to save him, so utterly despised he was (2 Kings 15:10). A debauch is probably described in which he took part during his short reign (Pusey). But see the note at Hosea 7:1 reasons for thinking the date is after Pekah's murder by Hoshea: so that Hoshea will thus be meant by "our king." In any case the words "whiles they lie in wait" refer to the plotters against the reigning king, whoever he was, and to their leading him into a drunken debauch for the purpose. Maurer translates, 'make themselves sick.'

With bottles of wine - drinking not merely glasses, but bottles. Maurer translates, as margin, 'owing to the heat of wine.'

He stretched out his hand with scorners - in token of good fellowship with them; the gesture of revellers in holding out the cup, and in drinking to one another's health. Scoffers were the king's boon companions.


Verse 6

For they have made ready their heart like an oven, whiles they lie in wait: their baker sleepeth all the night; in the morning it burneth as a flaming fire.

For they have made ready their heart - rather, 'they make their heart approach,' namely, their king, in going to drink with him (Henderson). But the English version makes the better sense, and is compatible with the Hebrew thus: "They made ready (literally, brought near; margin, applied) their heart" to sin. The "for" gives the reason of their breaking out so readily into open sin-for their hearts were always made by them near to sin, and ready for it, only waiting for the occasion to present itself.

Like an oven - following out the image in Hosea 7:4. As it conceals the lighted fire all night, while the baker sleeps, but in the morning burns as a flaming fire, so they brood mischief in their hearts, while conscience is lulled asleep, and their wicked designs wait only for a fair occasion to break forth (Horsley). The oven is their heart: the baker answers to the ringleader of the plot in each several instance of conspiracy against the reigning monarch (Henderson). Pusey makes the baker their own evil will, which stirs up whatever evil is in them: or Satan, who having loosed the evil thoughts in the soul, lets the fire and fuel of corrupt affections work together, ready to burst forth at the first opportunity. In Hosea 7:7 their plots appear-namely, the intestine disturbances and murders of one king after another, after Jeroboam II.


Verse 7

They are all hot as an oven, and have devoured their judges; all their kings are fallen: there is none among them that calleth unto me.

They are all hot as an oven - all burn with eagerness to cause universal disturbance, (2 Kings 15:1-38.)

And have devoured their judges - magistrates; as the fire of the oven devours the fuel.

All their kings are fallen - see notes at the beginning of this chapter. Pusey makes the kings fallen to be Zachariah and Shallam (2 Kings 15:10-15, B.C. 772).

None among them that calleth unto me - such is their perversity that amidst all these national calamities, none seeks help from me (Isaiah 9:13; Isaiah 64:7).


Verse 8

Ephraim, he hath mixed himself among the people; Ephraim is a cake not turned.

Ephraim, he hath mixed himself among the people - by leagues with idolaters (see remarks on the beginning of this chapter), and the adoption of their idolatrous practices (Hosea 7:9; Hosea 7:11; Psalms 106:35).

Ephraim is a cake not turned - a cake burnt on one side and unbaked on the other, and so inedible: an image of the worthlessness of Ephraim. The Easterns bake their bread on the ground, covering it with embers (1 Kings 19:6), and turning it every ten minutes, to bake it thoroughly without burning it.


Verse 9

Strangers have devoured his strength, and he knoweth it not: yea, gray hairs are here and there upon him, yet he knoweth not.

Strangers have devoured his strength - "strangers" - foreigners: the Syrians under Hazael, in the reign of Jehoahaz, the son of Jehu; and Assyrians, in the reign of Menahem, who paid a thousand talents of silver to be confirmed in the kingdom by Pul, the king of Assyria (2 Kings 13:7; 2 Kings 15:19-20. And Shalmaneser, king of Assyria finally carried Israel away captive, because of the defection of Hoshea, king of Israel, to So, king of Egypt, 2 Kings 17:3-6).

Grey hairs - i:e., symptoms of approaching national dissolution.

Are here and there upon - literally, are sprinkled on him.

Yet he knoweth not - though old age ought to bring with it wisdom, he neither knows of his senile decay, nor has the true knowledge which leads to reformation.


Verse 10

And the pride of Israel testifieth to his face: and they do not return to the LORD their God, nor seek him for all this.

And the pride of Israel testifieth to his face. Repetition of Hosea 5:5.

And they do not return to the Lord their God, nor seek him for all this - notwithstanding all their calamities (Isaiah 9:13).


Verse 11

Ephraim also is like a silly dove without heart: they call to Egypt, they go to Assyria.

Ephraim also is like a silly dove - a bird proverbial for simplicity: easily deceived.

Silly - lit, open, simple, easily persuaded, whether to good or bad [ powtaah (Hebrew #6601)].

Without heart - i:e., understanding.

They call to Egypt. Israel, lying between the two great rival empires, Egypt and Assyria, sought each by turns to help her against the other. Since this prophecy was written in the reign of Hoshea, the allusion is probably to the alliance with So or Sabacho II (of which a record has been found on the clay cylindrical seals in Kouyunjik), which ended in the overthrow of Hoshea and the deportation of Israel (2 Kings 17:3-6). As the dove betrays its silliness by fleeing in alarm from its nest, only to fall into the net of the fowler, so Israel, though warned that foreign alliances would be her ruin, rushed into them.


Verse 12

When they shall go, I will spread my net upon them; I will bring them down as the fowls of the heaven; I will chastise them, as their congregation hath heard.

When they shall go - to seek aid from this or that foreign state.

I will spread my net upon them - as on birds taken on the ground (Ezekiel 12:13); as contrasted with --

I will bring them down as the fowls of the heaven - namely, by the use of missiles.

I will chastise them, as their congregation hath heard - namely, by my prophets, through whom I threatened 'chastisement' (Hosea 5:9 ; 2 Kings 17:13-18).


Verse 13

Woe unto them! for they have fled from me: destruction unto them! because they have transgressed against me: though I have redeemed them, yet they have spoken lies against me.

Woe unto them! for they have fled from me - as birds from their nest (Proverbs 27:8; Isaiah 16:2).

From me - who both could and would have healed them (Hosea 7:1), had they applied to me.

Though I have redeemed them - from Egypt and their other enemies (Micah 6:4).

Yet they have spoken lies against me - (Psalms 78:36; Jeremiah 3:10). Pretending to be my worshippers, when they all the while worshipped idols (Hosea 7:14; Hosea 12:1); also defrauding me of the glory of their deliverance, and ascribing it and their other blessings to idols. The I and the they are in the Hebrew emphatic. "I redeemed them:" their requital was, 'they spoke lies against me' (Calvin).


Verse 14

And they have not cried unto me with their heart, when they howled upon their beds: they assemble themselves for corn and wine, and they rebel against me. And they have not cried unto me with their heart - but unto other gods (Maurer). (Job 35:9-10.) Or, rather, they did indeed cry unto me, but not "with their heart:" answering to "lies," Hosea 7:13 (see note).

When they howled upon their beds - sleepless with anxiety. Image of deep affliction. Their cry is termed howling, as it is the cry of anguish, not the cry of repentance and faith.

They assemble themselves for corn ... - literally, 'assemble themselves tumultuously' [ guwd (Hebrew #1464)] - namely, in the temples of their idols, to obtain from them a good harvest and vintage (like the tumultuous clamouring of Baal's priests to their idol, when they were gathered against Elijah on mount Carmel), instead of coming to me, the true Giver of these (Hosea 2:5; Hosea 2:8; Hosea 2:12), proving that their cry to God was not "with their heart."

And they rebel against me - lit, 'withdraw themselves (or turn aside) against me' - i:e., not only withdrew from me, but also rebel against me.


Verse 15

Though I have bound and strengthened their arms, yet do they imagine mischief against me.

Though I have bound and strengthened their arms - when I saw their arms as it were relaxed with various disasters, I bound them, so as to strengthen their sinews: image from surgery, (Calvin). Maurer translates, 'I instructed them' to war (Psalms 18:34; Psalms 144:1 , "The Lord teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight") - namely, under Jeroboam II (2 Kings 14:25). Grotius better explains, 'Whether I chastised them (margin) or strengthened their arms, they imagine mischief against me.' [The English version, after the Hebrew commentators, seems to have confounded yaasar, to chastise, the text here, with 'aacar (Hebrew #631), to bind].


Verse 16

They return, but not to the most High: they are like a deceitful bow: their princes shall fall by the sword for the rage of their tongue: this shall be their derision in the land of Egypt.

They return, but not to the Most High - or, 'to one who is not the Most High,' one very different from Him, a stock or a stone. So the Septuagint.

They are like a deceitful bow - (Psalms 78:57). A bow which, from its faulty construction, shoots wide of the mark. So Israel pretends to seek God, but turns aside to idols.

Their princes shall fall by the sword for the rage of their tongue - their boast of safety from Egyptian aid, and their "lies" (Hosea 7:13) whereby they pretended to serve God, while worshipping idols; also, their perverse defense for their idolatries and blasphemies against God and his prophets (Psalms 73:9; Psalms 120:2-3).

This shall be their derision in the land of Egypt - their "fall" shall be the subject of "derision" to Egypt, to whose king, So, they applied for help (Hosea 9:3; Hosea 9:6, "Ephraim shall return to Egypt ... Egypt shall gather them up, Memphis shall bury them;" 2 Kings 17:4).

Remarks:

(1) The very love of God, and His willingness to save and "heal," is turned, by the sinner's perversity, only into a fresh occasion for discovering his inbred "iniquity." The malady was only brought out into greater virulence by the loving remedy applied (Hosea 7:1), as if the patient were to turn upon the good physician who sought to cure him. No power short of the Almighty Spirit of God can conquer the self-destroying stubbornness of the carnal heart.

(2) Want of 'consideration' ruins millions (Hosea 7:2). They will not commune with their own hearts, and consult their consciences. They will not stop to say to themselves that God "remembers all their wickedness," however they may try to dismiss it from their memory. And what God remembers, that God will take a strict account of. Even "now" men's own doings beset them, encircling them wheresoever they go, and at all times; and are destined at last, unless repented of, and cleansed in the blood of the atonement, to be cited as so many witnesses against the sinner, all whose most minute and secret ways are ever 'before the face of God.'

(3) The king and the people in Israel were a mutual curse to each other. He who ought to have been the punisher of sin was its encourager. His delight was in wickedness; and they, seeing this, were glad to gratify his corrupt taste by first doing, and then recounting for his amusement, deeds that should not be so much as named. Adultery was the universal sin of all classes (Hosea 7:4). Their heart was as an oven, first heated by Satan, and thou left to burn with the pent-up fire and fuel of the corrupt passions. Though not breaking out into actual crime at all times, the interval of rest is rather apparent than real. The evil spirit has lodged the leaven of lust in the soul, and leaves it to work of itself, secure of the result. Like the baker sleeping at night, Satan rests secure that, at the first opportunity, the hidden fires will break forth, ready for the execution of whatever purpose of evil he devises and suggests. The actual wickedness of men's lives bears a very small proportion to what burns within their hearts! But when lust is inwardly fostered, it will, as occasion presents itself, break forth into outward sin (Hosea 7:4; Hosea 7:6).

(4) How many there are who make holy days days of excess! Even the great forget their dignity, as the princes tempted the King of Israel to forget his, and to play the buffoon, through bottles of wine (Hosea 7:5). Then, as "wine is a mocker" (Proverbs 20:1), so he who indulges too freely in wine soon "stretches out his hand with scorners." Scoffers are the boon companions of drunkards. The king or nobleman who listens to such flatteries, listens to his own ruin; even as the wretched King Zachariah was "lain in wait" for by Shallum and those who "made him sick" with wine (Hosea 7:5-6). But plots of sin at last recoil on their originators. Those who had inflamed the popular passions perished by them (Hosea 7:7), just as the kindlers of Nebuchadnezzar's fiery furnace were themselves "devoted" by it. Murderers of others were murdered themselves, so that of all Israel's kings but eight died a natural death.

(5) The professors of religion who needlessly intermix with sinners, as Ephraim did with the pagan, are sure to suffer by it in religious principle and practice (Hosea 7:8). Ephraim was as "a cake not turned," overburnt on one side, doughy and unpenetrated by the heat on the other side. The fire spoiled, and did not penetrate through it. Such are many religious professors, having on the one hand outward warmth, on the other hand inward coldness. God's fire of discipline has outwardly impressed, but not inwardly changed them. On one side they are overdone, on the other not vitally influenced at all. Their seeming zeal for the Lord, like Jehu's, is only zeal for themselves.

(6) Yet all the while Ephraim was unconscious of his own real state. The foreign powers, Assyria and Egypt, whose aid he had invoked, only "devoured his strength" (Hosea 7:9); yet he knew it not. Like men who shut their eyes to the gray hairs here and there, the tokens of their approaching old age and death, so men spiritually will not take notice of the signs of their own declension in vital religion. The outward forms and the stated services remain, but, like Samson, after he had, for the sake of sensual pleasure, betrayed the secret of his strength they are unconscious that God has departed from them And when God's chastisements are sent upon them, their "pride" (Hosea 7:10) keeps them from acknowledging and repenting of their sins, and "returning to the Lord their God." "For all" their afflictions they will not "seek" Him, so that nothing remains but destroying judgments, now that all the means of correction and grace have been tried in vain. Yet, like a silly dove, Ephraim, when ruin threatened him from God, still called to Egypt, who could not help him, instead of calling to God, who both could and would. Israel thought to make each of the two rival empires, Assyria and Egypt, to be her helper by turns against the other. It was seemingly a clever piece of state policy, but proved to be the very means of her destruction, because she had forsaken God. Let our statesmen beware of any fancied security resting on the so-called "balance of power" in Europe, and learn that our true safety is in the favour of God alone. God can "spread his net upon" the silly dove, which leaves its nest to flee elsewhere for help in time of alarm, and can "bring down" also the high-soaring "fowls of the heaven" (Hosea 7:12).

(7) All who depart from God to any human help are like the bird that "flees" (Hosea 7:13) from her secure resting-place only to be caught in the net of 'destruction.' "Woe" is their heritage. Perversity, short-sighted selfishness, and ingratitude are their ruin. God hath "redeemed them" at the cost of His beloved Son's suffering: they requite Him by lying misrepresentations of His character and His dealings, and of His people, and of all true religion. Then, when just judgments descend on them, they "cry" indeed, but it is the cry of impatience under pain, the mere "howling" of animal suffering "upon their beds" of anguish, not the cry of a child to a chastening but loving father from "their heart" (Hosea 7:14). Instead of complaining to God, they complain of God, and are angry, not with themselves, but with God. It is true "they assemble themselves together" as if for a religious service; but if they come before God at all, it is as a tumultuous assembly clamouring for "corn and wine," God's gifts, but having no longing after God Himself. Theirs is the cry of Esau, who only desired his father's blessing for the sake of the earthly wealth which it carried with it, not the prayer of "the generation of them that seek thy face, O God of Jacob" (margin, Psalms 24:6).

(8) Whether God tried chastening, or "strengthened the arms" of Ephraim (Hosea 7:15), all means alike proved vain. They only rebelled and imagined mischief against God. 'Man would dethrone God if he could' (Pusey). Whenever under trial they turned, it was "not to the Most High" (Hosea 7:16). When the God of Israel would have heat his covenant-nation as a bow to direct arrows against the kingdom of Satan, pagandom, and ungodliness, they were "like a deceitful bow," which carries not its arrows true to the mark: "the rage of their tongue" was "as an arrow shot out" (Jeremiah 9:8) against God and man: and ultimately they themselves "fall" by it. The very pagan were amazed at it. Egypt, in whom they trusted, made them "their derision." The raging and suicidal fanaticism of the Jews astonished even the Romans, who were the executioners of God's vengeance on them. Such is the portion of all who forsake God for the world: the world, which was the instrument of their sin, shall be the instrument of their punishment.

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Hosea 7:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/hosea-7.html. 1871-8.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, November 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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