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Bible Commentaries

Matthew Poole's English Annotations
on the Holy Bible
Hosea 2

 

 

Verse 1

HOSEA CHAPTER 2

The people are exhorted to forsake idolatry, which is threatened with severe judgments, Hosea 2:1-13. God allureth them with promises of reconciliation, Hosea 2:14-23.

In the two last verses of the former chapter, the prophet did from God promise marvellous mercy to Judah and Israel, to that remnant of the seed of Abraham who returned out of captivity, and to the converted Gentiles; now in this verse he calls upon them to acknowledge the mercy, and to excite one another to mutual love and esteem.

Say; declare, own, or publish.

Ye; who of no people are made a people, who were once unpitied and unregarded, but now have obtained mercy; you that are the sons of the living God, whether Jews or Gentiles. You Christians, as the apostle applies the words, Romans 9:24,25; and so in the ant, type no doubt they are to be understood; but in the letter and type, the persons here mentioned are those who among this people were pious, feared God, and kept his law; some such there were among them.

Unto your brethren; to those of the ten tribes who are, and will be these forty years, your brethren.

Ammi; let them know that yet they are the people of God, and repentance may remedy all; they are still within the covenant of their father Abraham; if they will, as their father. walk with God, all shall be well.

And to your sisters, Ruhamah: in a decorum, to (what before was made an emblem of Israel) the prophet’s daughter, Lo-ruhamah, some are here directed to reason (as it is Hosea 2:2) with her, i.e. with Israel, whose name is yet Ruhamah, and it may be so still, if Israel will retain it by returning to God.


Verse 2

Plead; argue the case, state it aright between me and your mother, then debate it fully; lay open either my displeasure, how great it is, or the effects of it already upon the house of Israel, or my menaces against them for the future, by my prophet Hosea: and next recollect the carriage of your mother of Israel; consider her sins, her lewdness, her adulteries, her unthankfulness, how notorious, how long, how multiplied and aggravated.

With your mother; the synagogues, the whole body of the people Israel, which were emblemized in Gomer, the wife of whoredoms.

Plead; ye that are sons or daughters of God amidst this degenerate, idolatrous nation, you that have any resentments for your Father, debate, or at least deal plainly with her, who is called your mother, and say how little right she hath to be called my wife, and how little reason I have to own myself her Husband.

She is not my wife; in point of right she is not, for by her adulteries she hath dissolved the marriage covenant, and so abolished the relation, though in point of fact she is not cast off utterly; I have not sued out the divorce, nor turned her out of doors. but yet for all that she is no wife, nor hath any right to the honour, maintenance, or love of a wife.

Neither am I her husband; I do not account myself bound by any covenant of marriage to love, maintain, comfort, or protect her; nor will I long do it, if by her continued lewdness she still violate her faith, and abuse my patience. Tell idolatrous Israel, that her God will deal with her as an abused husband will deal with an unreclaimed adulterous wife.

Let her therefore put away her whoredoms; when you have pleaded, then make an offer to her yet once more, counsel, persuade, entreat, and encourage her to do what becomes a wife that would not be divorced; try if you can prevail with her to cast aside and to remove from her all evil practices and inclinations, to cast off spiritual whoredoms, which all her idolatrous practices are accounted to be.

Out of her sight; either remove the idols, their temples, priests, and gaudy rites, for ever out of her sight, as they did, Isaiah 2:20; or else cease from her whorish looks, her unchaste and immodest framing her face and gestures.

And her adulteries, idolatries, which are spiritual adulteries,

from between her breasts: by an immodest and lascivious manner of framing the breasts, and laying them open, these kinds of women here alluded to did entice adulterers; and so were idolatrous Israelites grown impudent in their idolatries, and courted others in shameless manner to turn idolaters also.


Verse 3

Lest: this little word suggests great hopes; if this treacherous wife will cease her lewdness, and become chaste, she may be forgiven; it reserves room for repentance and reconciliation, without these it threatens.

Strip her naked; as was usually done by incensed husbands, divorcing impudent adulteresses: see Ezekiel 16:38,39 23:26. So God will strip her of all her ornaments which he gave; so he did gradually by Israel’s enemies the Assyrians, till at last by Shalmaneser she was stripped to the skin, and led away captive; God east her out thus by him.

And set her as in the day that she was born: it is not much material to fix the period of this birth, but it is enough God threatens, as sometimes we do, an extreme, poor, desolate, and comfortless condition, by a kind of proverbial speech, as naked as ever born.

And make her as a wilderness: this phrase may somewhat intimate the time of Israel’s birth, viz. between their going out of Egypt and the giving of the law, or their entering upon their travels in the wilderness. Their state was poor enough then, now it shall be as bad, or worse; they shall be as the wilderness, barren and desolate, affording nothing for life or delight, much less for profit: whereas adulteresses ordinarily hunt after profit and delights, God will punish adulterous Israel with denying both to her, she shall be like the wilderness, horrid and starving.

And set her like a dry land: this is much the same with the former, and added to confirm and illustrate it.

And slay her: all this shall be done to the end she may be destroyed: of old God led his people through the. wilderness to a city of habitation, now he will make them as the wilderness that they may perish in it.

With thirst: a miserable end, surely, thus to be scorched up with parching heat! so will God’s wrath burn up these wicked, idolatrous Israelites.


Verse 4

I will not have mercy: see Hosea 1:6.

Upon her children: by this expression particular persons are severally, as by mother the whole nation was, threatened, that none might flatter themselves with hope of better: it is observable they are called her children, not God’s.

For they be the children of whoredoms; born in whoredom, and, like the mother, addicted to whoredom; as if God had said, They are none of mine by birth, nor any whit like me in disposition, but a spurious and hateful brood, and as such I will use them.


Verse 5

For: this demonstrates the truth of the charge, and justifieth the severity of the punishment.

Their mother: see Hosea 2:2.

Played the harlot; doted on idols, worshipped them, and brought forth and educated children for diem.

She hath done shamefully: this practice, in the best circumstances it can be put, was dishonourable as well as dishonest; but here is an aggravation of it, it was done with shameless impudence, and openly avowed, with a whore’s forehead, Jeremiah 3:3.

She said; she took lip resolutions, declared them, stood to them, none could alter her course.

I will go after: when they came not to her, she will go to them. Impudent adulteress! forsaken, thou courtest and wooest.

My lovers: this spoken as if they loved her better than her Husband loved her; a high degree of impudence. These are the idols she worshipped, and the idolaters she associated and traded with.

That give me my bread, & c.: whereas every mercy she enjoyed was God’s gift to her, and a fruit of his covenant love and faithfulness towards her; yet she denies (like an impudent strumpet) all his kindness, and in a manner chargeth him with such hardness and ill usage, that she had starved if her idols and idolatrous friends had not maintained her, and gives out, the bread she ate, and water she drank, and the clothes she wore, all was of their kindness. This is shameful indeed, and the prophet hath set it forth to the life: and now is there not good reason why a Husband so abused should without pity cast off such a mother, such children, and leave them to live on their chosen lovers, or to perish under the hatred of their despised God?


Verse 6

Therefore; because she is so impetuous and shameless in her idolatrous courses, nothing hath, and she resolves nothing shall, hinder her, but she will follow them.

Behold; take notice of it, thou lewd woman, and all that stand by.

I will hedge up thy way with thorns: thou wilt set no bounds to thy lusts, and thy wanderings to satisfy them; I will deal with thee as men do with unruly and rambling beasts, set a hedge of thorns about thee, i.e. compass thee in with wars and other calamities, which shall wound and pierce thee, that though thou love thy sinful courses, and wilt follow them, thou shalt have little pleasure in them.

And make a wall; another allusion to the method men take to keep in the wildest cattle, which would break through hedges, but cannot break through walls. God will make the calamities of this people as a strong and high wall, over which they cannot leap, nor through which they cannot break. So was the Assyrian army under Shalmaneser, which cooped them up in a long siege of Samaria, and at last took them, and carried them into a long captivity, which now lasteth.

That she shall not find her paths; wherein then didst go when thou wentest to Egypt or Syria for help; but by my judgments, and thine enemies’ power and watchfulness, always shall be watched and guarded, thou shalt not find how to send to them for relief. These were her paths, whereas a chaste wife would have gone to her husband for relief.


Verse 7

And she, hedged in with many and great distresses, when under the judgments of God, shall follow after her lovers; with earnest travel, and with wearisome toil, she shall attempt every way to get to them, but to no purpose: afflictions and sorrows surround Israel; these Israel can by no means break out of to these lovers, and they, like false lovers, hasten as fast and as far from this adulteress as they can.

Her lovers, idols and idolaters, her false friends, and falser gods.

She shall not overtake them; they which hasten after such strange gods and helps, as this shameless harlot, shall meet with sorrow, but never overtake their desired help.

She shall seek them; as is the manner of immodest strumpets; it speaks also her obstinate resolution in her way: so Israel forsook a God that would have sought him to do him good, and by no disappointments would be (for a long time) taken off from this frantic wildness, of seeking to idols that could do him no good.

But shall not find them; the final issue of all is at last, she is wearied in her folly, tired with fruitless labour, and sits down hopeless of ever finding help from idols and idolaters.

Then shall she say; as the prodigal, first think well on it, next resolve with herself.

I will go and return; restless, she will try one way more; happy she if she had tried this sooner, this would have been successful; she will return, come back, and seek to her Husband.

To my first Husband, i.e. God, who had married Israel to himself, who was her Husband indeed: all others were as adulterers, as deceivers and seducers, who abuse the credulity of wanton women first, and next abuse their husbands’ beds.

For then was it better with me than now: how much the tune is changed! In Hosea 2:5, all her gallantry, her feasts, her rich apparel, these are gifts of her lovers; not a word of her Husband’s greatest kindnesses. But now she sees and confesseth the least of her Husband’s kindnesses was better than the greatest kindness of these her paramours, and at worst with her Husband she was better than at best with adulterers.


Verse 8

For; this unexampled ignorance, or inconsiderateness, was the cause of all this lost labour, and unthankfulness to God.

She, in her rayons and prosperity, as were the days of Jeroboam, in which much of this lewdness was committed, and in which the prophet calls them to repentance,

did not know; considered not, but carried it toward God as if indeed she did not know; nor did she own it or acknowledge it by any suitable obedience and thankfulness to the God of her mercies.

That I gave, without desert or worthiness; it was mercy, and this free, from whence all she had came.

Corn; which is the stay and strength of our life; one necessary corn fort put for all the rest.

Wine and oil: these cheer the heart, and include all provision for delight and sweetness.

And multiplied her silver and gold: the treasures of gold and silver, and all precious things brought in by trade, and increased among them, were the effect of mine undiscerned and unacknowledged bounty and goodness.

Which they, the generality or body of the Jews, these idolatrous Jews,

prepared for Baal; first made the idol with the gold and silver, and next dedicated it to the service of the idol. Sottish ignorance, that with one part of the gold and silver make a god, with the other part provide for sacrifices to be offered to it. Thus one part is advanced to be a deity, the other part of the same mass consecrated to the service of its fellow lump. What absurdities will not down with such fools and sots?


Verse 9

Therefore, because I was not acknowledged nor served as the giver,

will I return: much after the manner of man doth God speak; he had left large blessings behind him among this people, but their sottish ingratitude provokes him to resolutions of returning and seizing of all.

Take away; take into my hands, or resume all I give, for all given was mine still; God never gives away his right.

My corn; it was hers while thankfully received and rightly used, but want of these forfeit that right, and the propriety reverts to God. See Hosea 2:8.

In the time thereof; either when they should gather it in, as being ripe, or when they need it, and should use it. All they enjoy is mine, but since they so use me as to serve Baal by it, I will either take all away from them, or make all useless to them. When I take away my wool and my flax, she shall appear shamefully naked, not having one rag of her own.


Verse 10

And now, when I make a seizure, and strip her of all that is mine, I will expose her, or else I shortly will do so, ere long.

Her lewdness; the folly and wickedness of her idolatrous worship; and perhaps the corporal lewdnesses which idolaters seldom were free from may be here intended.

In the sight of her lovers; among whom most will loathe her and hoot at her, some secretly despise her; if any shall attempt to help at this dead lift, it shall be to no purpose.

None shall deliver her out of mine hand; they who would deliver her are few and weak, unable to rescue her from the infamy I adjudge her to. In short, as she hath like a strumpet shamelessly sinned, so like a strumpet she shall be shamefully, with greatest infamy, punished; and I, saith the Lord, will see it done.


Verse 11

I will also cause all her mirth to cease; the jollity of Israel was certainly damped when Tiglath-pileser took Ijon, and other cities, and captivated Naphtali, 2 Kings 15:29, which was some, yet but few, years after this prophecy: but sure all their joy ceased about ten or twelve years after, when Samaria was taken, and Hoshea and all Israel made captives: so the threat was executed in this sense. But the prophet speaks (as by what follows appeareth) of their sacred or religious joys, which God will abolish. He did not set them up, but he will pull them down.

Her feast days: though apostate Israel was fallen to idolatry, and renounced the true worship of God, yet by this text it appears they retained many of the rites and ceremonies that were used by the Jews, or else set up others like them, as their solemn feast at setting up the calves at Dan and Beth-el, in Jeroboam’s time.

New moons: these were days of greater sacrifices, Numbers 28:11, and greater feasting, 1 Samuel 20:5.

Sabbaths; their weekly sabbaths. All her solemn feasts; the three annual feasts of tabernacles, weeks, and passover, or others with them, all which should cease when these people were carried captive, as they were by Shalmaneser.


Verse 12

God will do it either by blasting, or by the Assyrians, who, as other invaders, shall spoil all.

Destroy; make very desolate, or lay waste.

Her vines and her fig trees: these two were mentioned, but all other fruit trees are meant.

Whereof she hath said, These are my rewards: this was in peculiar manner the sin for which Israel was punished thus, they gave the praise of the fruitfulness of these trees, and the abundance of them, to idols, robbed God of the praise due for them, therefore God will take them away.

That my lovers have given me: their false gods are here made the givers of all outward blessings to Israel: see Hosea 2:5.

I will make them; their vineyards and oliveyards, and places where they planted and fenced in their fig trees, and other fruitful trees.

A forest; wild and uncultivated, the hedges and fences shall be thrown up, and all run into the wildness of a forest, as it came to pass in the Assyrian invasion.

The beasts of the field; savage men, such as the Assyrians were; or rather in the letter, the beasts of the field should break down their branches, and devour them, and pull off the fruit, as foxes pull the grapes, or wild boars of the wood root up and eat the tender and sappy branches and springles.

Shall eat them; the trees and their fruits.


Verse 13

I will visit; punish, for the prophet threatens them with this visitation, by which it evidently appears to be a visiting in wrath.

Upon her; the kingdom of Israel.

The days; the sins of those days past.

Of Baalim: Baal was the great idol of the ten tribes, the chief of their idols, their lord (as the word signifieth) and patron; here it is plural, Baalim, either to denote the multitude of idols which they worshipped, all called by this one name, or perhaps because of the multitude of his statues or images, and of his altars and temples, erected to Baal in all places of the land.

Burnt incense to them; sacrificed and worshipped, for this one kind of religious observance is put for all the rest.

She decked herself with her earrings and her jewels; to put the greater honour upon the idol, they put on their richest and best attire, or it may be they blindly thought this rich habit would make them the more acceptable to their senseless idol.

And she went after her lovers; decked thus, strumpet like, she went on by her spiritual adultery to provoke me.

And forgat me; and slighted me, if she did at all think of me, adulteress like.


Verse 14

Therefore: this particle seems to connect these following passages with those that went before, as causal, or giving a reason why God will do thus, and so are difficulter than if read as zkl might be, either as a particle that speaks order or time of things, and is as much as afterwards; so it will be easy, I will visit, &c., afterwards I will allure; first punish, next comfort: or else it may be adversative, as much as yet, or but; so it is plain, thus, She like an adulteress hath sinned, and I have punished; but, or yet, or notwithstanding,

I will allure: or else it is a particle that doth more strongly affirm; so rendered the place would be less obscure, thus,

I will destroy her vines, & c.; surely I will allure, &c.: thus zkl is used Jeremiah 5:2 Zechariah 11:7. Behold with attention, and wonder at the methods of Divine grace.

I will allure her; with kind words and kinder usage I will incline her mind to hear and consider what I propose; I will persuade by sweetest dealings, like a kind husband that makes use of the distresses of his disloyal wife to commend his love to her, to win her to himself, and to ways that are the honour and happiness of a wife.

And bring her into the wilderness; after that I have brought her into the wilderness; so the French, and some other versions, and so it is plainer than as we read it.

The wilderness; deep distress or captivity, with all the sorrows that attend captivity; then it is likely she will hearken: or by wilderness may be understood a retired place, and solitary, where shall be no diversions of her mind, no such temptations as formerly, where with best leisure she may consider and bethink herself: so understood, our version is easily intelligible.

And speak comfortably; things that are full of comfort, and in such manner too as is comfortable to the hearer. Here are glad tidings, gracious promises, and wonderful mercy to the true Israel after afflictions have brought them to God, after they are converted from sin by these means.


Verse 15

And I, reconciled to her, will give her her vineyards; will both settle her, and abundantly enrich her with blessings, as the phrase implieth.

From thence; either from the place of their exile and sufferings, or from the time of their hearkening to the Lord speaking to them in their distresses and sorrows; or if it refer to Hosea 2:12, it is a promise to comfort them under that threat which swept away the blessings of vines mid fig trees in their own land, and here is a promise of vineyards to them from the time of their repentance, and from the place where they are captives.

The valley of Achor; which was a large, fruitful, and pleasant valley near Jericho, and on the very entrance into the land of Canaan, where after forty years’ travels and sorrows Israel first set foot on a country such as they expected.

For a door of hope: as that valley was a door of hope to Israel then, by that Israel saw that he should enjoy the Promised Land; so would God deal with repenting Israel in the times here pointed at.

She shall sing praises to their God for his mercies, and sing forth their own joys too, and answer each other, sing in responses, as the word signifieth.

As in the days of her youth: as that age is most jocund, and expresseth it by singing, so shall it be as renewed youth to Israel, full of blessings from God, and full of praises to God.

When she came up out of the land of Egypt: this passage explains the former; their youth is a time somewhat like the time of their coming out of Egypt, their mercies now like the mercies of that time, and their joys and songs shall be like too. However these things were fulfilled to the type, whose repentance and return to God is not very eminent, they are all fully made good to antitype Israel, the church of Christ, in spiritual blessings, chiefly here intended.


Verse 16

At that day; when through deep distresses I have prepared her to return, and she who was an adulteress repents, and renews her covenant of love and obedience, and in the day of my blessings on her.

Saith the Lord: this confirmeth and insureth the thing.

Thou, my repenting Israel,

shalt call me Ishi; both by words, affections, and obedience shall own me as thy loving, tender Husband, and delight to call me so.

And shalt call me no more Baali; though the word hath no ill in itself, yet it is so near to the name of the abominable idols, that I will no more be called Baali.


Verse 17

For I will take away the names of Baalim; it is my purpose to abolish the memory of Baalim. This great idol for all others; God will cut off all the remains of idolatry from his church.

Out of her mouth; so God required, of old, Exodus 23:13.

They shall no more be remembered by their name; these false gods and provoking idols shall be quite forgotten, their names perishing with them. When God shall so cut off all idolatry from his church in gospel days, it will be the final and fullest accomplishment of this prediction.


Verse 18

In that day: see Hosea 2:16.

Make a covenant; command or enjoin, and these creatures shall as duly observe the command as just ones keep a covenant.

For them; true converts, the Israel of God.

With the beasts of the field, & c.; with all the creatures that might either serve or hurt them; it is a full and gracious promise of abundance of peace, safety, and love among all, through the creation, for the comfort of God’s people.

And I will break the bow, & c: but if brute beasts do not hurt, yet unless more brutish creatures, bloody men, be tamed, there will be little safety to the church; therefore God will put an end to wars, and make men peaceable in their disposition, far more peaceable than heretofore they have been.

And will make them to lie down safely; by a special care of, love for, and presence with them, God will provide for their safety. Now I doubt not but all this in some measure was made good to the Jews returning out of captivity, among whom were also some thousands of the house of Israel, who had their share in this promised peace, safety, and prosperity; but the full accomplishment is to be to the church of Christ, and in spiritual blessings shadowed out by these temporal blessings.


Verse 19

And I, thy God, who was offended, but now am reconciled, though I was divorcing thee, will now

betroth, on new terms enter marriage covenant with

thee, O Israel, who art my people, and leavest thine idolatries and rebellions.

Unto me, God of mercy and truth, who hath forgiven and changed thee, and made thee suitable to myself, and who will be as kind and gracious as thou canst desire or need.

For ever: the former covenant was broken, and the marriage nulled, but now it shall be an everlasting contract and marriage between my Israel and their God.

I will betroth thee unto me: this promise is repeated to confirm it, and to remove scruples and jealousies.

In righteousness; on equal terms on both sides.

In judgment; with mature advice, or well-informed and settled judgment and resolution; this covenant shall be, as a well-taken oath, finished with integrity of heart and judgment. In loving-kindness; without desert in her that is betrothed, of mere love, and freest kindness.

And in mercies: this, though the same with the former, is added to insure all to this new-espoused wife; or

loving-kindness is the never-exhausted fountain, mercies are the never-failing streams, the abundant fruits of that love toward the poor and undeserving objects of it.


Verse 20

This verse is a third promise in the same words to comfort and encourage the true Israel, only faithfulness is here added a qualification of this new marriage, which shall continue firm on a mutual, faithful promise, love, and contract.

Thou shalt know the Lord; his just anger which hath punished, his rich grace which hath now pardoned and taken into covenant again, his faithfulness and tender compassions, his all-sufficiency and sovereignty, that we may obey him, and rest satisfied in his love, as it is our reward and happiness.


Verse 22

In that day, when this new alliance is made, or in the day of gospel grace, I will hear: this general promise God gives us to encourage us to cry to him; he will so hear as to answer. Saith the Lord: this is the seal to the truth and certainty of the things promised.

There is a subordination of causes, all second causes do in their ranks (like wheels in a curious engine) move as moved by the first great spring, and so contribute to the good of such as any way depend on them. Thus here, God, the first and universal cause, will influence the heavens, he will command their dew and showers; they would be as iron over us, if God did not command them to distil their drops on the earth; when this is dry, parched, and barren, it does as it were cry to the heavens for refreshing showers, for fruitful rains; when the seed sown, the vines and olives planted, are at a stand, take no rooting, they do as it were cry to the earth for its kindly influences and fatness, that they may spring up and yield fruit for Jezreel: which may call, and cry, and wait, but never be satisfied, if God do not hear them, and command his blessing of fructifying influences, which God here doth promise to his people on renewing covenant with them. God’s seed, his gathered ones, his espoused church, shall be served to hey comfort by all the creatures. When disobedience, backslidings, idolatries, and such-like sins did provoke God to punish them with famine and scarcity; now their repentance and obedience shall be blessed with plenty, and God will set the frame of heaven and earth in due order to effect this, there shall be a harmony and correspondence between all subordinate causes moved by God the first great cause, whence expected events and fruits shall certainly be produced for their good and comfort.


Verse 23

Their sins, the enemies’ sword, and God’s just displeasure, had wasted and lessened their numbers; but now the Lord will bless them with wonderful increase of people, expressed with allusion to a seed sown in the earth, which multiplieth exceedingly: so the Jews multiplied after the Babylonish captivity, but much more are the numbers increased since the preaching of the gospel, and the gathering in the dispersed elect of God.

The earth; either the land of Canaan, if you refer this to the Jews after the captivity; or the whole earth, all places and nations, if you do, as you should, refer it to gospel days; and so we have seen this promise fulfilled.

I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy: see Hosea 1:6,10.

I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; so great is the change grace hath made, that a rejected people are once more taken to be a peculiar people; a remnant among them is saved. Not in word only, but with hearty consent, joy, affection. and thankfulness they shall be my people, as well as call themselves so.

They shall say, Thou art my God: this people of whom the prophet here speaketh shall openly confess the Lord is their God, Sovereign to command and rule, and Saviour to deliver and save them. Their God to give them law and life, to direct their obedience, and to be their exceeding great reward for it; their God to sanctify, justify, and glorify.

 


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Bibliography Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Hosea 2:4". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/hosea-2.html. 1685.

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Monday, December 16th, 2019
the Third Week of Advent
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