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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Hosea 8

 

 

Verse 1

Set the trumpet to thy mouth. He shall come as an eagle against the house of the LORD, because they have transgressed my covenant, and trespassed against my law.

In Hosea 8:14 Judah is said to multiply fenced cities; and in Hosea 8:7-9, Israel, to its great hurt, is said to have gone up to Assyria for help. This answers best to the reign of Menahem. For it was then that Uzziah of Judah, his contemporary, built fenced cities (2 Chronicles 26:6; 2 Chronicles 26:9-10). Then also Israel turned to Assyria, and had to pay for their sinful folly a thousand talents of silver (2 Kings 15:19). (Maurer.)

Set the trumpet to thy mouth - to give warning of the approach of the enemy: the Hebrew is literally, 'to thy palate - (i:e., mouth, Job 31:30, margin) the trumpet;' the abruptness of expression indicates the suddenness of the attack. So Hosea 5:8.

As an eagle - the Assyrian Shalmaneser, the conqueror and captor of the ten tribes; and the Babylonian Nebuchadnezzar: the conqueror and captor of Judah (Deuteronomy 28:49; Jeremiah 48:40; Habakkuk 1:8).

Against the house of the Lord - not the temple, but Israel, viewed as the family of God - (Hosea 9:15, "I will drive them out of mine house" - i:e., my land or heritage, the Holy Land; Numbers 12:7, "My servant Moses is faithful in all mine house;" Zechariah 9:8; Hebrews 3:2; 1 Timothy 3:15; 1 Peter 4:17).


Verse 2

Israel shall cry unto me, My God, we know thee.

Israel shall cry unto me, My God, we know thee - the singular, "my," is used distributively, each one so addressing God. They, in them hour of need, plead their knowledge of God as the covenant-people, while in their acts they knew Him not (cf. Matthew 7:21-22; Titus 1:16; also Isaiah 29:13, "This people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me;" Jeremiah 7:4). The Hebrew joins "Israel," not as the English version, with "shall cry," but 'We, Israel, know thee:' God denies the claim thus urged on the ground of their descent from Israel.


Verse 3

Israel hath cast off the thing that is good: the enemy shall pursue him.

Israel. God repeats the name in opposition to their use of it (Hosea 8:2).

Hath cast off the thing that is good. Jerome translate, 'God' who is good, and is always doing good (Ps Hath cast off the thing that is good. Jerome translate, 'God' who is good, and is always doing good (Psalms 119:68). He is the chief object rejected, but with Him also all that is good.

The enemy shall pursue him - in just retribution from God.


Verse 4

They have set up kings, but not by me: they have made princes, and I knew it not: of their silver and their gold have they made them idols, that they may be cut off.

They have set up kings, but not by me - not with my sanction (1 Kings 12:31; 1 Kings 11:20). Israel set up Jeroboam and his successor, whereas God had appointed the house of David as the rightful kings of the whole nation. It is true God had said to Jeroboam by Ahijah the prophet, "Behold, I will rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon, and will give ten tribes to thee;" and by Shemaiah had warned Rehoboam that he should "not go up nor fight against the children of Israel: for the thing," said God, "is from me" (2 Kin. 12:24 ). Yet the separation of the ten tribes was not the less the act of their own and Jeroboam's self-will, without any reference to the will of God. They were made to carry into effect God's will, while they only regarded them own. So subsequently, during the 253 years' continuance of Israel, of the ten families to which their eighteen kings belonged, no family or dynasty came to a close except by a violent death.

They have made princes, and I knew it not - I approved it not (Psalms 1:6, "The Lord knoweth the way of the righteous").

Of their silver and their gold have they made them idols - (Hosea 2:8, "She did not know that I ... multiplied her silver and gold which they prepared for Baal;" Hosea 13:2)

That they may be cut off - i:e., though warned of the consequences of idolatry, as it were with open eyes, they rushed on their own destruction. So Jeremiah 27:10; Jeremiah 27:15; Jeremiah 44:8.


Verse 5

Thy calf, O Samaria, hath cast thee off; mine anger is kindled against them: how long will it be ere they attain to innocency?

Thy calf, O Samaria, hath cast thee off. Since the ellipsis of "thee" is unusual, Maurer translates, 'Thy, calf is abominable.' But the antithesis to Hosea 8:3 establishes the English version, "Israel hath cast off the thing that is good;" therefore, in just retribution, "thy calf hath cast thee off" - i:e., the calf is made by God the cause of thy being cast off (Hosea 10:15). Jeroboam, during his sojourn in Egypt, saw Apis worshipped at Memphis, and Mnevis at Heliopolis, in the form of an ox; this, and the temple cherubim, suggested the idea of the calves set up at Dan and Bethel. Thy calf - whom thou madest for thyself, whom thou lovest, in whom thou trustedst, instead of in thy God. Since the two calves, one at Dan the other at Bethel, represent the same thing, they are called, in the singular, "the calf," not calves.

How long will it be ere they attain to innocency? - How long will they be incapable of bearing innocency? (Maurer.)


Verse 6

For from Israel was it also: the workman made it; therefore it is not God: but the calf of Samaria shall be broken in pieces.

For from Israel was it also - namely, the calf originated with them, not from me. "It also," as well as their "kings set up" by them, "but not by me" (Hosea 8:4 ).


Verse 7

For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind: it hath no stalk: the bud shall yield no meal: if so be it yield, the strangers shall swallow it up.

For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind - (Proverbs 22:8, "He that soweth iniquity shall reap vanity;" Galatians 6:7). They reap not merely as they have sown, "the wind," but, with deadly increase, "the whirlwind," or (as the Hebrew is an intensive form), 'the violent whirlwind.' "Sow ... wind" - i:e., to make the vain show of worship, while faith and obedience are wanting (Calvin). Rather to offer senseless supplications to the calves for good harvests (cf. Hosea 2:8).

It hath no stalk - the result is, that God will make them reap "no stalk" - i:e., standing grain. Also, the phraseology proverbially means, that all their undertakings shall be profitless (Proverbs 11:29; Ecclesiastes 5:16).

The bud shall yield no meal - the "bud" or 'growth.'

If so be it yield, the strangers shall swallow it up - "strangers," foreigners (Hosea 7:9).


Verse 8

Israel is swallowed up: now shall they be among the Gentiles as a vessel wherein is no pleasure.

Israel is swallowed up - not merely Israel's possessions, but Israel herself.

Now shall they be among the Gentiles as a vessel wherein is no pleasure - (Psalms 31:12; Jeremiah 22:28; Jeremiah 48:38, "I have broken Moab like a vessel wherein is no pleasure"). "Now;" not at any distant date, but now.


Verse 9

For they are gone up to Assyria, a wild ass alone by himself: Ephraim hath hired lovers.

For they are gone up to Assyria - referring to Menahem's application for Pul's aid in establishing him, on the throne (cf. Hosea 5:13; Hosea 7:11). Menuhem's name is read, on the inscriptions in the southwest palace of Nimroud, as a tributary to the Assyrian king in his eighth year. The dynasty of Pul, or Phallukha, was supplanted at Nineveh by that of Tiglath-pileser, about 768 (or 760) B.C. Semiramis seems to have been Pul's wife, and to have withdrawn to Babylon in 768; and her son, Nabonassar, succeeding after a period of confusion, originated 'the era of Nabonassar,' 747 BC (George Vance Smith.) Usually foreigners coming to Israel's land were said to "go up," Israel being regarded as standing upon a moral elevation; here it is the reverse, to intimate Israel's sunken state and Assyria's superiority.

A wild ass alone by himself , [ pere' (Hebrew #6501)]. The wild donkey is proverbial for headstrong, undisciplinable obstinacy, swift and untameable-a figure of Israel's headstrong perversity in following her bent (Jeremiah 2:24).

Alone by himself - characteristic of Israel in all ages: "Lo, the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among, the nations" (Numbers 23:9 : cf. Job 39:5-8, "Who hath sent out the wild ass free? or who hath loosed the bands of the wild ass? ... The range of the mountains is his pasture").

Ephraim hath hired lovers - reversing the ordinary way, namely, that lovers should hire her (Ezekiel 16:33-34).


Verse 10

Yea, though they have hired among the nations, now will I gather them, and they shall sorrow a little for the burden of the king of princes.

Yea, though they have hired among the nations, now will I gather them - namely, the nations (Assyria, etc.) against Israel, instead of their assisting her as she had wished (Ezekiel 16:37, "Behold, therefore I will gather all thy lovers, with whom thou hast taken pleasure, and all them that thou hast loved, with all them that thou hast hated; I will even gather them round about against thee"). Now, i:e., immediately.

And they shall sorrow a little - rather, 'in a little' (Henderson). The English version gives good sense: They shall sorrow [ yaacheeluw (Hebrew #2490) is best taken from chuwl (Hebrew #2342), to sorrow, not as margin, 'begin'] a little at the imposition of the tribute. God suspended yet the great judgment, namely, their deportation by Assyria.

For the burden of the king of princes - the tribute imposed on Israel under Menahem) by the Assyrian king (Pul, 2 Kings 15:19-22), who had many "princes" under his sway (Isaiah 10:8). So heavy shall the burden of the captivity hereafter be felt, that they shall then sorrow but little for the burden of tribute imposed on them now by the great King of Assyria, which they feel so burdensome.


Verse 11

Because Ephraim hath made many altars to sin, altars shall be unto him to sin.

Because Ephriam hath made many altars to sin, altars shall be unto him to sin. God, in righteous retribution, gives them up to their own way: the sin becomes its own punishment, (Proverbs 1:31).

Many altars - in opposition to God's law, which commanded that the temple at Jerusalem was to be the only place for offering sacrifices (Deuteronomy 12:5-6; Deuteronomy 12:13-14).

To sin ... to sin - their altars, which were "sin" (whatever religious intentions they might plead), should be treated as such, and be the source of their punishment (1 Kings 12:30, "And this thing (the calf-worship) became a sin;" 1 Kings 13:34). The many altars of Ephraim, which were in fact only so many sins, shall be proved to be but sins by their results-namely, Ephraim's punishment.


Verse 12

I have written to him the great things of my law, but they were counted as a strange thing.

I have written to him the great things of my law - (Deuteronomy 4:6; Deuteronomy 4:8, "What nation is there so great that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law?" Psalms 19:8; Psalms 119:18, "Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law;" Psalms 119:72; Psalms 147:19-20). The textual reading is, 'the ten thousand things of my law.' The English version follows the Keri, or marginal Hebrew reading, which is not so well supported. The language here pre-supposes a general acquaintance with the Pentateuch in Israel, and shows that the written Pentateuch was in the kingdom of the Ten Tribes. For the expression is, not I have given him, but "I have written," or, rather, 'I write (implying the present obligation of the law once for all written) to him the ten thousand things of my law.' Not merely the Decalogue, but tile ten thousand details of duty laid down in the whole written law; the Decalogue written by God's own hand, and His will written manifoldly, "at sundry times and in divers manners" (Hebrews 1:1). The schools of the prophets in Bethel, Gilgal, and Samaria, confronting idolatry in their chief abodes, maintained still in Israel the teaching of the law and the pure worship. The godlier people went for religious instruction to Elisha and other prophets, on the new moons and Sabbaths (2 Kings 4:23). (Pusey.)

My law - as opposed to their inventions. This reference of Hoses to the Pentateuch alone is against the theory that some earlier written prophecies have not come down to us.

But they were counted as a strange thing - as if a thing with which they had nothing to do.


Verse 13

They sacrifice flesh for the sacrifices of mine offerings, and eat it; but the LORD accepteth them not; now will he remember their iniquity, and visit their sins: they shall return to Egypt.

They sacrifice flesh for the sacrifices of mine offerings - i:e., for the sacrifices which they offer to me. The Hebrew is, 'the sacrifices of my gifts, gifts' [ hab


Verse 14

For Israel hath forgotten his Maker, and buildeth temples; and Judah hath multiplied fenced cities: but I will send a fire upon his cities, and it shall devour the palaces thereof.

For Israel hath forgotten his Maker - (Deuteronomy 32:18, "Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast For Israel hath forgotten his Maker - (Deuteronomy 32:18, "Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that formed thee").

And buildeth temples - to idols.

And Judah hath multiplied fenced cities. Judah, though less idolatrous than Israel, betrayed want of faith in Yahweh by trusting more to its fenced cities than to Him: instead of making peace with God, Judah multiplied human defenses (Isaiah 22:8; Jeremiah 5:17, "They (the Babylonians) shall impoverish thy fenced cities, wherein thou trustedst, with the sword;" Micah 5:10-11). Pusey refers this to the days of Jotham, between 758 and 741 B.C. Although Jotham was a religious king, the corruption of the people at this time is specially recorded - "The people did corruptly."

But I will send a fire upon his cities. Sennacherib took all Judah's fenced cities except Jerusalem (2 Kings 18:13).

Palaces thereof - namely, of the land. Compare as to Jerusalem, Jeremiah 17:27; Amos 2:5, "I will send a fire upon Judah, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem."

Remarks:

(1) Even the professing Church, "the house of the Lord," shall not be spared when its members 'transgress the covenant, and trespass against the law of its Lord' (Hosea 8:1). It is in vain that such professors "shall cry" in the day of judgment, "My God, we know thee" (Hosea 8:2). God will not acknowledge as His the workers of iniquity. He will not own as true children of either the literal or the spiritual Israel such as walk not in the faith of the patriarch who first received the name.

(2) The Israel of Hosea's day was only Israel in name. Having "cast off" God, they had cast off in Him and with Him "the thing that is good" (Hosea 8:3); for He is the center and the essence of all that is good. In 'setting up' their several kings they did not consult God, or seek to please Him, therefore He owned none of their proceedings (Hosea 8:4). So blindly headstrong were they in their sin that they seemed to act as if their aim was "that they might be cut off." Thus all sinners who pursue objects, the end of which, according to God's law, is death, are really, though they do not stop to consider it, choosing hell as their portion. Oh the infatuation of those who rush blindfold on their eternal ruin! Would that they could be taught by the case of Israel to see the suicidal madness of their course. Israel cast off her God for the golden calf of her own making; and in righteous retribution the calf which was her trust "cast her off" (Hosea 8:5). So all the idols of men, wealth, beauty, and ambition, fail men in their hour of sorest need; and sooner or later all who have forsaken God for them shall have to say of them, as Cardinal Wolsey said of his royal patron, 'Had I but served my God with half the zeal I served my king, He would not in mine age have left me naked to mine enemies'

(3) What rendered Israel's sin peculiarly aggravated was, it emanated from herself. She knew what she was doing. She was not ignorant that a calf-image, 'made by the workman,' could not be, and "is not God" (Hosea 8:6). Their boasted name as "Israel" only rendered their sin the more inexcusable. Therefore they and their "calf" should be "broken in pieces." As they had sown, so must they reap-the same grain, but with an awful increase. Wind" was the seed, the destructive "whirlwind" was to be the harvest (Hosea 8:7). So all unbelievers sow the wind of vanity and emptiness here, and shall reap the whirlwind of destruction hereafter. As chaff they shall be borne along as the sport of it to their doom. Their undertakings either have "no stalk" or else, if they have stalk, have no full grain in the ear, so as to yield "meal;" or if even they "yield" stalk, and grain, still hostile "strangers: shall "swallow" all up. The hopes of sinners are disappointed, some at the very beginning, others in a further stage of progress; and at last the most prosperous transgressors here shall be swallowed up by the powers of darkness and the waves of the ever-burning lake.

(4) Hosea prophesied that Israel should be a dishonoured "vessel among the Gentiles," though at the time Israel, however disliked, was rather an object of envy than contempt among the neighbouring nations; for still the fame of Solomon's wisdom, and the wide extent of his kingdom, were proverbial in all the East, as indeed the former is to the present day. No power but the Spirit of God could have enabled him so accurately to foretell the state of Israel for more than two thousand years: "swallowed up," and yet not destroyed, "among the nations," - yet not amalgamated with them. The very cause of their exile was that policy whereby they expected to ensure their permanence as a nation: "For they are gone up to Assyria," saith the prophet. Like the untamed "wild ass," they rushed into the wilderness of the Gentile nations, there to bring on themselves their own ruin. The very nations, Assyria and her subject-peoples, whom Israel "hired" to help her, God "gathered" to destroy her (Hosea 8:10). The true position of the Israel of God in the world is to be "alone by himself" (Hosea 8:9). Whenever professing believers, instead of making God their confidence, have recourse to the godless world and its unhallowed powers, at the cost of religious principle, to save them from anticipated evils, God, in just retribution, makes those very world-powers the instruments of executing His judgments on them.

(5) Ephraim tried to secure himself from divine judgment for sin, by raising "many altars" (Hosea 8:11). But God declares these very means, taken for the expiation of sin, to be but "altars to sin," and that He will prove them to be such by inflicting punishment for them. The devices of 'will-worship' and formalism will never avert, but rather will hasten, the penal consequences of men's guilt. And what will most aggravate sin is, if the transgressor had within his reach the divinely-written record of 'the great things of God's law' (Hosea 8:12), and yet treated it "as a strange thing." How many there are among us who, though commanded by God, to have His word continually "in their heart," on their lips, and before their eyes (Deuteronomy 6:6-9), are practically strangers to it, or only know it to explain its holy strictness away, and to widen the narrow way pointed out by it, so as to suit the carnality and worldliness of themselves and of society around them! The religious services and gifts of all such, however highly meritorious the worshippers may account them, are regarded by God as mere offerings made for the gratification of their own "flesh" (Hosea 8:13). The "iniquity" which they suppose to expiated such sevices, is all "remembered" by God "now," at this very time, and will bring down, a speedy visitation of judgment. While they 'build temples' as memorials of their Maker, they all the while in heart 'forget' Him (Hosea 8:14). Therefore their defenses against calamity shall prove unavailing. The only services which God will "accept" (Hosea 8:13), are those which are done in accordance with His 'great law' from the Gospel motives of "repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 20:21). May we all ever live under the controlling power of those motives!

 


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

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Friday, November 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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