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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments
Hosea 1

 

 

Verse 1

Hosea 1:1. The word of the Lord that came unto Hosea — The name of the prophet is the same with the original name of Joshua, and signifies a Saviour. The son of Beeri — This was the prophet’s surname; for in those days they had their surnames either from their parents, as we have, or from the places of their abode. Beeri signifies a well. In the days of Uzziah, &c. — “If we suppose,” says Archbishop Newcome, “that Hosea prophesied during the course of sixty-six years, and place him from the year 790 before Christ, to the year 724, he will have exercised his office eight years in the reign of Jeroboam the Second, thirty-three years in the reign of Uzziah, the entire reigns of Jotham and Ahaz, and three years in the reign of Hezekiah; but will not have survived the taking of Samaria.” It is probable, however, that he begun his ministry as early as the year 785; and therefore that he prophesied at least seventy, if not more, years. The Jews, indeed, suppose him to have prophesied near ninety years, and that he uttered much more than he wrote. If he exercised his office such a number of years, many of the other prophets, as Isaiah, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, and Micah, must have lived and prophesied during his time.


Verse 2

Hosea 1:2. The beginning of the word of the Lord by Hosea — Or, as some render it, to Hosea; phrases however of different import; for to speak to a person, expresses that the discourse was immediately addressed to him. To speak by him, that through him it was addressed to others. And that the speech so addressed to others was not the person’s own, but God’s; God using him as his organ of speech to the people. This latter is evidently the meaning of the Hebrew phrase here used, which is not אל הושׂע, but בהושׂע, and has been judiciously attended to by our translators, as it was also by the LXX., the Vulgate, the Chaldee, Luther’s Latin translation, Calvin’s, and Archbishop Newcome’s. And the Lord said, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms — Commentators differ much with respect to the meaning of this command. Maimonides, a noted Jewish writer, supposes, that what was enjoined was only to be transacted in a vision; and many learned men, both ancient and modern, have been of his opinion. Archbishop Newcome supposes, that the command refers to the spiritual fornication, or idolatry, of the Israelites: and that its meaning is only, “Go, join thyself in marriage to one of those who have committed fornication against me; and raise up children, who, by the power of example, will themselves swerve to idolatry:” see Hosea 5:7. Some others suppose, that God only enjoins the prophet to marry one, who, he foresaw, would afterward be unfaithful to him, and become a harlot. Others again, and persons of great eminence for learning and Biblical knowledge, suppose the command implied, that he was to marry one who actually was at the time, or had been, a harlot. These different opinions, Bishop Horsley, in a preface to his translation of this prophecy, examines at large; and seems to have clearly proved, that the last-mentioned sense of the words is the true one. His train of reasoning on the subject is too long to find a place in these notes; a very short extract is all that can be inserted. “Here two questions arise, upon which expositors have been much divided; 1st, What is the character intended of the woman? What are the fornications by which she is characterized? Are they acts of incontinence, in the literal sense of the word, or something figuratively so called? And, 2d, This guilt of literal or figurative incontinence, was it previous to the woman’s marriage with the prophet, or contracted after it? The Hebrew phrase, a wife of fornications, taken literally, certainly describes a prostitute; and children of fornications are the offspring of a promiscuous commerce. Some, however, have thought, that the expression may signify nothing worse ‘than a wife taken from among the Israelites, who were remarkable for spiritual fornication, or idolatry.’ And that children of fornications may signify children born of such a mother, in such a country, and likely to grow up in the habit of idolatry themselves, by the force of ill example. But the words thus interpreted contain a description only of public manners, without immediate application to the character of any individual; and the command to the prophet will be nothing more than to take a wife. It is evident, that a wife of fornications describes the sort of woman with whom the prophet is required to form the matrimonial connection. It expresses some quality in the woman, actually belonging to the prophet’s wife in her individual character. And this quality was no other than gross incontinence, in the literal meaning of the word. The prophet’s wife was, by the express declaration of the Spirit, to be the type, or emblem, of the Jewish nation, considered as the wife of God. The sin of the Jewish nation was idolatry, and the Scriptural type of idolatry is carnal fornication; the woman, therefore, to typify the nation, must be guilty of the typical crime; and the only question that remains is, whether the stain upon her character was previous to her connection with the prophet, or afterward? I should much incline to the opinion of Diodati, that the expression may be understood of a woman that was innocent at the time of her marriage, and proved false to the nuptial vow afterward, could I agree to what is alleged in favour of that interpretation by Dr. Wells and Mr. Lowth, that it makes the parallel more exact between God and his blacksliding people, than the contrary supposition of the woman’s previous impurity; especially if we make the further supposition, that the prophet had previous warning of his wife’s irregularities. But it seems to me, on the contrary, that the prophet’s marriage would be a more accurate type of the peculiar connection which God vouchsafed to form between himself and the Israelites, upon the admission of the woman’s previous incontinence. God’s marriage with Israel was the institution of the Mosaic covenant, at the time of the exodus, Jeremiah 2:2; but it is most certain that the Israelites were previously tainted, in a very great degree, with the idolatry of Egypt, Leviticus 17:7; Leviticus 18:3; Joshua 24:14; and they are repeatedly taxed with this by the prophets, under the image of the incontinence of a young unmarried woman: see Ezekiel 23. To make the parallel, therefore, exact in every circumstance between the prophet and his wife, God and Israel, the woman should have been addicted to vice before her marriage. The prophet, not ignorant of her numerous criminal intrigues, and of the general levity of her character, should nevertheless offer her marriage, upon condition that she should renounce her follies, and attach herself, with fidelity, to him as her husband; she should accept the unexpected offer, and make the fairest promises, Exodus 19:8; Exodus 24:3-7; Joshua 24:24. The prophet should complete the marriage contract, (Deuteronomy 7:6; Deuteronomy 26:17-19,) and take the reformed harlot with a numerous bastard offspring to his own house. There she should bear children to the prophet; (as the ancient Jewish Church, amidst all her corruptions, bore many true sons of God;) but in a little time she should relapse to her former courses, and incur her husband’s displeasure, who yet should neither put her to death according to the rigour of the law, nor finally and totally divorce her. Accordingly, I am persuaded, the phrases אשׂת זנונים, and ילדי זנונים, are to be taken literally, a wife of prostitution, and children of promiscuous intercourse; so taken, and only so taken, they produce the admirable parallel we have described.

“If any one imagines, that the marriage of a prophet with a harlot is something so contrary to moral purity as in no case whatever to be justified; let him recollect the case of Salmon the Just, as he is styled in the Targum upon Ruth, and Rahab the harlot. If that instance will not remove his scruples, he is at liberty to adopt the opinion, which I indeed reject, but many learned expositors have approved, that the whole was a transaction in vision only, or in trance. I reject it, conceiving that whatever was unfit to be really commanded, or really done, was not very fit to be presented, as commanded, or as done, to the imagination of a prophet in his holy trance. Since this, therefore, was fit to be imagined, which is the least that can be granted, it was fit, (in my judgment,) under all the circumstances of the case, to be done. The greatness of the occasion, the importance of the end, as I conceive, justified the command in this extraordinary instance. The command, if it was given, surely sanctified the action: and, upon these grounds, till I can meet with some other exposition, which may render this typical wedding equally significant of the thing to be typified by it in all its circumstances, I am content to take the fact plainly, as it is related, according to the natural import of the words of the narration; especially as this way of taking it will lead to the true meaning of the emblematical act, even if it was commanded and done only in vision. In taking it as a reality, I have with me the authority, not certainly of the majority, but of some of the most learned and cautious expositors; which I mention, not so much to sustain the truth of the opinion, as to protect myself, in the avowal of it, from injurious imputations.”


Verse 3

Hosea 1:3. So he went and took Gomer, &c. — The word Gomer signifies failing, or consuming, (see Psalms 12:1,) so that the very name of the harlot, whom Hosea took, was symbolical, signifying that the kingdom of Israel would experience a great failing, consumption, or decrease of its people; which indeed it did, through the Assyrian kings’ carrying away vast numbers of them, from time to time, into captivity. The daughter of Diblaim — Diblaim signifies heaps of figs; this name, therefore, may be considered as expressing symbolically, that, as some figs are good, others bad, (see Jeremiah 24.,) so there were some good people, although the major part were bad, among the Israelites. Which conceived, and bare him a son — This, it seems, was a legitimate son born to the prophet.


Verse 4

Hosea 1:4. And the Lord said, Call his name Jezreel — This name, compounded of the nouns זרעseed, and אל, God, signifies the seed of God. The names, it must be observed, imposed upon the woman’s children by God’s direction, sufficiently declare what particular parts of the Jewish nation were severally represented by them. The persons signified by this the prophet’s proper son, says Bishop Horsley, “were all those true servants of God, scattered among all the twelve tribes of Israel, who, in the times of the nation’s greatest depravity, worshipped the everlasting God in the hope of the Redeemer to come. These were a holy seed, the genuine sons of God, begotten of him to a lively hope, and the early seed of that church which shall at last embrace all the families of the earth. These are Jezreel, typified by the prophet’s own son, and rightful heir, as the children of God, and heirs of the promises. For yet a little while — And yet this little was a long while, through God’s gracious forbearance. As bad as this people were, they should not perish without warning. φιλει ο θεος προσημαινειν, God loves to premonish, or forewarn, says the heathen historian, Herodotus. I will avenge the blood — Hebrew, bloods of Jezreel: that is, says Bishop Horsley, “the blood of the holy seed, the faithful servants of God, shed by the idolatrous princes of Jehu’s family in persecution, and the blood of the children shed in their horrible rites upon the altars of their idols.” It must be observed further here, that this mystical name of the prophet’s son, Jezreel, was the name of a city in the tribe of Issachar, and of a valley, or plain, in which the city stood: the city famous for its vineyard, which cost its rightful owner Naboth his life; and, by the righteous judgment of God, gave occasion to the downfall of the royal house of Ahab: the plain, one of the finest parts of the whole land of Canaan. As it was here that Jehu shed the blood of Ahab’s family with unsparing hand, many modern expositors, “forgetting the prophet’s son, have thought of nothing in this passage but the place, the city or the plain.” And by the blood of Jezreel, which God here threatens to avenge upon the house of Jehu, they have understood the blood of Ahab’s posterity; because though, in shedding that blood, Jehu executed the judgment which God had denounced by Elijah against the house of Ahab, for the cruel murder of Naboth; yet, in doing that, he acted from a principle of ambition and cruelty, without any regard to God’s glory, whose worship he forsook, maintaining in the country the idolatry which Jeroboam had first set up. Upon this exposition, Bishop Horsley remarks as follows: “It is true, that when the purposes of God are accomplished by the hand of man, the very same act may be just and good as it proceeds from God, and makes a part of the scheme of providence, and criminal in the highest degree as it is performed by the man, who is the immediate agent. The man may act from sinful motives of his own, without any consideration, or knowledge, of the end to which God directs the action. In many cases the man may be incited, by enmity to God and the true religion, to the very act in which he accomplishes God’s secret, or even revealed purpose. The man, therefore, may justly incur wrath and punishment for those very deeds in which, with much evil intention of his own, he is the instrument of God’s good providence. But these distinctions will not apply to the case of Jehu, in such manner as to solve the difficulty arising from this interpretation of the text. Jehu was specially commissioned by a prophet to smite the house of Ahab his master, to avenge the blood of the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of Jehovah, at the hand of Jezebel, 2 Kings 9:7. And however the general corruption of human nature, and the recorded imperfections of Jehu’s character, might give room to suspect, that in the excision of Ahab’s family, and of the whole faction of Baal’s worshippers, he might be instigated by motives of private ambition, and by a cruel, sanguinary disposition, the fact appears from the history to have been otherwise; that he acted, through the whole business, with a conscientious regard to God’s commands, and a zeal for his service, insomuch that, when the work was completed, he received the express approbation of God; and the continuance of the sceptre of Israel in his family, to the fourth generation, was promised as the reward of this good and accepted service: see 2 Kings 10:30. And it cannot be conceived, that the very same deed, which was commanded, approved, and rewarded in Jehu, who performed it, should be punished as a crime in Jehu’s posterity, who had no share in the transaction. For these reasons, I am persuaded that Jezreel is to be taken in this passage in its mystical meaning; and is to be understood of the persons typified by the prophet’s son — the holy seed — the true servants and worshippers of God. It is threatened that their blood is to be visited upon the house of Jehu, by which it had been shed. The princes descended from Jehu were all idolaters; and idolaters have always been persecutors of the true religion. In all ages, and in all countries, they have persecuted the Jezreel unto death, whenever they have had the power of doing it. The blood of Jezreel, therefore, which was to be visited on the house of Jehu, was the blood of God’s servants, shed in persecution, and of infants shed upon the altars of their idols, by the idolatrous princes of the line of Jehu. And so the expression was understood by St. Jerome and by Luther.” This threatening, denounced against the house of Jehu, was executed in the days of his great-grandson, the son of Jeroboam II., during whose reign Hosea received this prophecy from the Lord. For Zechariah, as we find 2 Kings 15:10, was killed by a conspiracy of Shallum, who made himself king in his stead; and, no doubt, many of his kindred, who were of the house of Jehu, were slain with him. And will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel — In the family of Jehu. Or rather, this is a prophecy of the destruction of the whole kingdom of Israel, which was in a declining condition from the death of Jeroboam, and the history of which, from the usurpation of Shallum, is little else than an account of conspiracies, murders, and usurpations, till it was entirely subverted by the Assyrians; and the people were carried captives into Assyria, and were dispersed through the various provinces of that empire.


Verse 5

Hosea 1:5. And it shall come to pass at that day, that I will break, &c. — This entire abolition of the kingdom of the ten tribes shall take effect at the time when I break the bow, &c. Here the breaking of the bow in the valley of Jezreel is the event that marks the date; and to that date, so marked, the threatened excision of the kingdom of the ten tribes is referred. And it was of moment to give the people warning, that the advantages, which the enemy would gain over them in that part of the country, would end in the utter subversion of the kingdom. For had this timely warning produced repentance and reformation, the judgment, no doubt, would have been averted. St. Jerome says, the Israelites were overthrown by the Assyrians, in a pitched battle, in the plain of Jezreel. But of any such battle we have no mention in history, sacred or profane. But Tiglath-pileser took several of the principal cities in that plain, in the reign of Pekah. And afterward in the reign of Hoshea, Samaria was taken by Shalmaneser, after a siege of three years; and this put an end to the kingdom of the ten tribes. And the taking of these cities successively, and, at last, of the capital itself, was a breaking of the bow of Israel, a demolition of the whole military strength of the kingdom, in the valley of Jezreel, where all those cities were situated. For the breaking of a bow was a natural image for the overthrow of military strength in general, at a time when the bow was one of the principal weapons. “Although the valley of Jezreel is here to be understood literally of the tract of country so named, yet perhaps there is an indirect allusion to the mystical import of the name. This being the finest spot of the whole land of promise, the name, the vale of Jezreel, describes it as the property of the holy seed, by whom it is at last to be possessed. So that, in the very terms of the denunciation against the kingdom of Israel, an oblique promise is contained, of the restoration of the converted Israelites. The Israel which possessed it, in the time of this prophecy, were not the rightful owners of the soil. It is part of the domain of the Jezreel, the seed of God, for whom it is reserved.” — Bishop Horsley.


Verse 6

Hosea 1:6. And she conceived again — It has been observed, that the children which the prophet’s wife bore represent certain distinct parts, or descriptions, of the Jewish nation, of the whole of which the mother was the emblem. Of her three children here mentioned, the eldest and the youngest were sons, the intermediate child was a daughter. “The eldest,” says Bishop Horsley, “I think, was the prophet’s son; but the last two were both bastards. In this I have the concurrence of Dr. Wells, acutely remarking, that whereas it is said, Hosea 1:3, that the prophet’s wife conceived and bare a son to him, it is said of the other two children, only that she conceived and bare them; implying that the children she then bare, not being born, like the first, to the prophet, were not begotten by him.” Now, as the name imposed, by God’s direction, upon the eldest child, the prophet’s own son, typified the true children of God, and heirs of the promises among the Israelites; so the two bastard children, the bishop thinks, typified those parts of the Jewish people that were not Jezreel, or the seed of God. The first of these, the daughter, whose sex was the emblem of weakness, was called Lo-ruhamah, which signifies, unbeloved, or unpitied, or, as it is in the margin, in conformity with all the ancient visions, not having obtained mercy. “This daughter typified the people of the ten tribes, in the enfeebled state of their declining monarchy, torn by their intestine commotions and perpetual revolutions, harassed by powerful invaders, empoverished by their tyrannical exactions, and condemned by the just sentence of God to utter excision as a distinct kingdom, without hope of restoration: for so the type is explained by God himself,” declaring, I will utterly take them away — That is, I will cause them to be carried into captivity, never to return again in a body; and will utterly put an end to them, considered as a kingdom, or people distinct from Judah.


Verse 7

Hosea 1:7. But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah — Including Benjamin, and such of the Levites as adhered to God’s law and worship, and as many of the other tribes as renounced the calves, Baal, and all idolatrous worship, and worshipped God alone as he required. On Judah, including all these, God had mercy in various respects, in which he had not mercy on Israel, prolonging that kingdom 132 years after Israel ceased to be a kingdom, preserving them from the combined powers of the king of Syria and the king of Israel, who united to destroy them, raising them up to greatness and glory in the reign of Hezekiah, in whose days the house of Judah was saved, by a wonderful miracle, from the power of Sennacherib the Assyrian king. Add to this, that Judah’s captivity was only for seventy years, whereas Israel’s continues to this day; Judah was restored to their own land, but Israel was not. By this, as the prophet would debase the pride of Israel, so possibly he intended to direct the well-disposed among them whither to go to find mercy. And will save them by the Lord their God, and not by bow, nor by sword, &c. — “These expressions,” Bishop Horsley thinks, “are too magnificent to be understood of any thing but the final rescue of the Jews from the power of antichrist in the latter ages, by the incarnate God destroying the enemy with the brightness of his coming, (2 Thessalonians 2:8,) of which the destruction of Sennacherib’s army in the days of Hezekiah might be a type, but it was nothing more.”


Verse 8

Hosea 1:8. Now when she had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she conceived, &c. — The last child is a son, and the daughter was weaned before the woman conceived him. “A child, when it is weaned,” says St. Jerome, “leaves the mother; is not nourished with the parent’s milk; is sustained with extraneous ailments.” “This aptly represents the condition of the ten tribes, expelled from their own country, dispersed in foreign lands, no longer nourished with the spiritual food of divine truth by the ministry of the prophets, and destitute of any better guide than natural reason and heathen philosophy. The deportation of the ten tribes, by which they were reduced to this miserable condition, and deprived of what remained to them, in their worst state, of the spiritual privileges of the chosen race, was, in St. Jerome’s notion of the prophecy, the weaning of Lo-ruhamah. The child, conceived after Lo-ruhamah was thus weaned, must typify the people of the kingdom of Judah, in the subsequent periods of their history. Or rather, this child typifies the whole nation of the children of Israel, reduced, in its external form, by the captivity of the ten tribes, to that single kingdom. The sex represents a considerable degree of national strength and vigour, remaining in this branch of the Jewish people, very different from the exhausted state of the other kingdom previous to its fall. Nor have the two tribes ever suffered so total an excision. The ten were absolutely lost in the world soon after their captivity. They have been nowhere to be found for many ages, and know not where to find themselves; though we are assured they will be found of God, in the day when he shall make up his jewels. But the people of Judah have never ceased totally to be. In captivity at Babylon they lived a separate race, respected by their conquerors. From that captivity they returned. They became an opulent and powerful state; formidable at times to the rival powers of Syria and Egypt; and held in no small consideration by the Roman people, and the first emperors of Rome. And even in their present state of ruin and degradation, without territory, and without a polity of their own, such is the masculine strength of suffering with which they are endued, they are still extant in the world as a separate race, but not as God’s people, otherwise than as they are reserved for signal mercy. God grant it may be in no very distant period! But at present they are לא עמי, Lo-ammi, not my people. And so they have actually been more than seventeen centuries and a half; and to this condition they were condemned, when this prophecy was delivered. That these are typified by the child Lo-ammi, appears from the application of that name, in the tenth verse, to the children of Israel generally; whence it seems to follow, that the degenerate people of Judah were implicated in the threatenings contained in the former part of the chapter. But in those threatenings they cannot be implicated, unless they are typified in some one, or more, of the typical children. But they are not typified in Jezreel; for the Jezreel is no object of wrath or threatening: not in Lo-ruhamah; for Lo-ruhamah typifies the kingdom of the ten tribes exclusively: of necessity, therefore, in Lo-ammi.” — Bishop Horsley.


Verse 10

Hosea 1:10. Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea — Though God casts off the ten tribes, yet he will, in due time, supply their loss, by bringing in great numbers of true Israelites into the church, not only of the Jews, but also of the Gentiles, and making them, who before were strangers to the covenants of promise, fellow-heirs with the Jews, Romans 9:25-26; 1 Peter 2:10. “I think,” says Bishop Horsley, “this is to be understood of the mystical Israel; their numbers, consisting of myriads of converts, both of the natural Israel, and their adopted brethren of the Gentiles, shall be immeasurably great.” And in the place where it was said, Ye are not my people, &c. — “That is, at Jerusalem, or at least in Judea, where this prophecy was delivered, and where the execution of the sentence took place: there, in that very place, they, to whom it was said, Ye are no people of mine, shall be called, the sons of the living God. This must relate, at least principally, to the natural Israel of the house of Judah; for to them it was said, Ye are no people of mine. And since they are to be acknowledged again as the children of the living God, in the same place where this sentence was pronounced and executed, the prophecy clearly promises their restoration to their own land.”


Verse 11

Hosea 1:11. Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together — When the fulness of the Gentiles is come in, this will be a means of converting the Jews, and bringing them into the church. And when converts of the house of Judah shall have obtained a resettlement in the holy land, then a general conversion shall take place of the race of Judah, and the race of the ten tribes. They shall unite in one confession, and in one polity; and appoint themselves one head — The Lord Christ, called David their king, (Hosea 3:5,) shall become the chief and head of his church, composed of Judah and Israel, of Jews and Gentiles. This head is indeed appointed and set up over the church by God, Psalms 2:6; Ephesians 1:22. But the saints are said to appoint Christ their head, when they choose him and embrace him for their sovereign; when, with the highest estimation, most vigorous affections, and utmost endeavours of unfeigned obedience, they set him up in their hearts, and serve him in their lives, giving him the pre-eminence in all things. And they shall come up out of the land, &c. — That is, from all parts of the earth, to Jerusalem, there to join in the same way of worship (as once the twelve tribes did, before the schism under Jeroboam) with the Christian Church, and so proceed on the way to the kingdom of heaven. Jerusalem being situated upon an eminence, and in the heart of a mountainous region, which rose greatly above the general level of the country to a great distance on all sides, the sacred writers always speak of persons going to Jerusalem, as going up. For great shall be the day of Jezreel — That is, of the seed of God: see note on Hosea 1:4. “Great and happy shall be the day, when the holy seed of both branches of the natural Israel shall be publicly acknowledged of their God, united under one head, their King Messiah, and restored to the possession of the promised land, and to a situation of high pre-eminence among the kingdoms of the earth.” It must be observed here, that although this is an express prophecy of the final conversion and restoration of the Jews, it contains also a manifest allusion to the call of the Gentiles. For, “the word Jezreel, though applied in this passage to the devout part of the natural Israel, by its etymology is capable of a larger meaning, comprehending all, of every race and nation, who, by the preaching of the gospel, are made members of Christ, and the children of God. All these are a seed of God, begotten of him by the Spirit to a holy life, and to the inheritance of immortality. The words Ammi and Ruhamah, (my people and beloved,) and their opposites, Lo-ammi and Lo- ruhamah, (not my people and not beloved,) are capable of the same extension; the two former to comprehend the converted, the two latter the unconverted, Gentiles. In this extent they seem to be used chap. Hosea 2:23, which appears to be a prophecy of the call of the Gentiles, with manifest allusion to the restoration of the Jews.” Accordingly we find these prophecies of Hosea cited by St. Paul, to prove the indiscriminate call to salvation both of Gentiles and Jews. He affirms, that God has called us [that is, Christians] vessels of mercy afore prepared unto glory, ου μονον

εξ ιουδαιων αλλα και εξ εθνων, not of the Jews only, but moreover of the Gentiles too, Romans 9:24.” “The allusion which is made to these prophecies by St. Peter, in his first epistle, (1 Peter 2:10,) is not properly a citation of any part of them, but merely an accommodation of the expressions, not my people, my people, not having obtained mercy, having obtained mercy, to the case of the Hebrews of the Asiatic dispersion, before and after their conversion.” Bishop Horsley, who adds, “it is surprising that the return of Judah from the Babylonian captivity should ever have been considered, by any Christian divine, as the principal object of this prophecy, and an event in which it has received its full accomplishment. The fact is, that this prophecy has no relation to the return from Babylon in a single circumstance. What was the number of the returned captives, that it should be compared to that of the sands upon the sea-shore? The number of the returned, in comparison of the whole captivity, was nothing. And how was Zorobabel (under whom the Jews returned from Babylon) one head of the rest of Israel, as well as of Judah? To interpret the prophecy in this manner is to make it little better than a paltry quibble; more worthy of the Delphic tripod, than of the Scripture of truth.” Very judicious, upon this subject, are the remarks of the learned Houbigant, “The prophet, in the tenth verse, passes from threatenings to promises, which is the manner of the prophets, that the Jews might not think that, after the accomplishment of the threatenings, God would concern himself no more about their nation. Those promises seem to respect the final condition of the Jews, when they should collect under one head, the Messiah; that it might properly be said of them, Ye are children of the living God. It is difficult to accommodate the words of this passage to the return from the Babylonian captivity. Those Jews, who returned from Babylon, were not so much as one-hundredth part of the whole Jewish race; so little were they to be compared with the sands of the sea: nor did they appoint themselves one head. Zorobabel was indeed their leader, but not their single leader; and their form of government henceforward was not monarchical, but an aristocracy. Nor had they kings till the very last, when they were become unworthy to be called children of the living God.”

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Hosea 1:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/hosea-1.html. 1857.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, November 14th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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