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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments
Hosea 11

 

 

Verse 1

Hosea 11:1. When Israel was a child, &c. — “The Israel of this chapter is the whole people, composed of the two branches, Judah and the ten tribes. But the house of Israel is the kingdom of the ten tribes, as distinct from the other branch.” — Horsley. By the time of Israel’s childhood is meant the patriarchal age, and the time of their continuance under the Egyptian bondage. Then I loved him — Manifested a tender and paternal affection to him, increasing him in numbers, wealth, and honour. And called my son out of Egypt — Namely, by Moses, whom God commanded to acquaint the Israelites that they must remove out of Egypt. Israel is called God’s son, and his firstborn, Exodus 4:22-23; and therein was an eminent figure of the Messiah, in whom all God’s promises were fulfilled. This prophecy, therefore, is applied by St. Matthew 2:15, to our Lord’s return out of Egypt, after his being taken thither by his parents in his infancy, and kept there some time for fear of Herod. And the strict, literal sense of the words, more properly belongs to him than to Israel. And this is observable in many other prophecies, which can but improperly be applied to those of whom they were at first spoken; and, taking them in their strict, literal sense, are only fulfilled in Christ: see particularly Psalms 22:16; Psalms 22:18. “Although the son,” says Bishop Horsley, “here immediately meant, is the natural Israel, called out of Egypt by Moses and Aaron; there can be no doubt that an allusion was intended by the Holy Spirit to the call of the infant Christ out of the same country. In reference to this event, the passage might be thus paraphrased: ‘God in such sort set his affection upon the Israelites, in the infancy of their nation, that, so early as from their first settlement in Egypt, the arrangement was declared of the descent of the Messiah from Judah, and of the calling of that son from Egypt.’”


Verse 2

Hosea 11:2. As they called them, so, &c. — Or, The more they called them, or, they were called, so much the more they went from him; that is, the more earnestly the prophets called upon them to cleave steadfastly to the true God, (see Hosea 11:7,) the more they were bent to depart from him to the worship of idols. They sacrificed to Baalim — See note on Hosea 2:13. And burned incense to graven images — “We read frequently, in our English Bibles, of graven images, and of molten images. And the words are become so familiar, as names of idolatrous images, that, although they are not well chosen to express the Hebrew names, it seems not advisable to change them for others, that might more exactly correspond with the original. The graven image was not a thing wrought in metal by the tool of the workman we should now call an engraver; nor was the molten image an image made of metal, or any other substance melted, and shaped in a mould. In fact, the graven image and the molten image are the same thing under different names. The images of the ancient idolaters were first cut out of wood by the carpenter, as is very evident from the Prophet Isaiah. The figure of wood was overlaid with plates, either of gold or silver, or sometimes, perhaps, of an inferior metal. And in this finished state it was called a graven image, (that is, a carved image,) in reference to the inner solid figure of wood, and a molten (that is, an overlaid, or covered) image in reference to the outer metalline case, or covering. And sometimes both epithets are applied to it at once:” see Nahum 1:14; Habakkuk 2:18, and Bishop Horsley.


Verse 3-4

Hosea 11:3-4. I taught Ephraim also to go — Hebrew, תרגלתי לאפרים, I directed the feet of Ephraim. In this time of Ephraim’s childhood, I supported and directed his steps, as a mother or nurse those of a child whom she is teaching to walk. Taking them by their arms — To guide them, that they might not stray from the right way; and to hold them up, that they might not stumble and fall: see notes on Deuteronomy 1:31; Deuteronomy 32:11-12; Isaiah 63. Thus did God deal with Israel in the wilderness; and thus he directs and supports the steps of his spiritual Israel, amidst all their difficulties and dangers. But they knew not that I healed them — They did not acknowledge this my care over, and kindness to, them. I drew them with cords of a man — I made use of those means of drawing them to myself, which were most proper to work upon them as creatures possessed of understanding and affection. The explanation in the Chaldee is just and beautiful: “As beloved children are drawn, I drew them by the strength of love.” And I was to them as they that take off the yoke on their jaws — Or rather, on their cheek. As a careful husbandman, in due season, takes the yoke from his labouring oxen, and takes off the muzzle with which they were kept from eating when at work; so compassionately did I give relief to, and provide sustenance for Israel. I laid meat unto them — Brought them provision in their wants. God seems here to allude to the manna and quails which he provided for his people in the wilderness.


Verse 5-6

Hosea 11:5-6. He shall not return into the land of Egypt — They were desirous of making their escape thither, and many families perhaps effected it: see note on Hosea 9:6. But it is here threatened, that the nation in a body should not be permitted so to escape. But the Assyrian shall be his king — They shall be wholly in the power of the king of Assyria, and be carried away captive into his dominions; because they refused to return — Namely, to the true worship of God, and obedience to his laws, notwithstanding the many calls, reproofs, admonitions, and exhortations given them by the prophets. Their obstinacy in idolatry is the cause of all the calamities coming upon them. And the sword shall abide on his cities His cities shall be destroyed by the conqueror’s sword; and shall consume his branches — The lesser towns and villages. Thus the word

בדיםis expounded, in a marginal note of the Bishops’ Bible. It often means the arms, or principal branches, of a great tree, and is twice translated staves, Exodus 27:6. In this place some interpreters render it bars; and Abarbanel expounds it of the strong and valiant men of the nation, observing, that the chief branches of the people in a kingdom are the valiant men. Rabbi Tanchum explains it of their children; the branches, as he observes, springing from their fathers. The word, however, also signifies lies, and is so rendered Isaiah 16:6, and Jeremiah 48:30. Bishop Horsley translates it diviners, deriving it from בדד, he was solitary, because they affected a solitary, ascetic life; a sense which he thinks, of all others, most apposite to the context. He acknowledges, however, that to render it branches, limbs, or bars, is admissible, and may very well suit the place.


Verse 7

Hosea 11:7. My people are bent to backsliding from me — Many versions render this clause, Nevertheless, my people are in suspense (or hesitate) about returning to me; though they called them to the Most High — Though my prophets, and other pious persons, invited and exhorted them to return to my worship and service; none at all would exalt him — Scarce any would hearken and obey. The word him not being in the Hebrew, some versions read, None would raise himself up, or advance; that is, come forward to obey and serve me.


Verse 8-9

Hosea 11:8-9. How shall I give thee up, Ephraim — To utter destruction? God’s mercy is here pathetically described as contending with his justice, to show that he does not willingly destroy, or even afflict, or grieve, the children of men, Lamentations 3:33. How shall I make thee as Admah? &c. — How shall I give thee up to a perpetual desolation? Admah and Zeboim were two cities which were wholly destroyed, together with Sodom and Gomorrah. My heart is turned within me — Or, upon me; so Horsley. My repentings are kindled together — Not that God is ever fluctuating or unresolved; but these are expressions after the manner of men, to show what severity Israel had deserved, and yet how divine grace would be glorified in sparing them. Thus God’s compassion toward sinners is elsewhere expressed by the sounding, or yearning, of his bowels, Isaiah 63:15; Jeremiah 31:20; a metaphor taken from the natural affection which parents have for their children. I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger — I will not punish to the utmost strictness of justice; I will not return to destroy Ephraim — I will not carry it so far as to make a second destruction of Ephraim; so as to cut off those who escaped the first infliction of my punishments, and thereby wholly destroy them. Conquerors, that plunder a conquered city, carry away the wealth of it, and, after some time, often return to burn it. God will not thus utterly destroy Israel. For I am God, and not man — Therefore my compassions fail not; the Holy One in the midst of thee — A holy God, and in covenant, though not with all, yet with many among you, and present with you to preserve a remnant to be my faithful servants. And I will not enter into the city — As an enraged enemy to destroy your cities, as I did Sodom.


Verse 10-11

Hosea 11:10-11. They shall walk after the Lord — The remnant shall hearken to God’s call, and shall comply with his commands, when he shall convert them by the powerful preaching of his gospel, and the efficacious influence of his grace. He shall roar like a lion — That is, he will show terrible signs of his anger, and then they will fear and obey him. God’s voice is elsewhere compared to the roaring of a lion, because of the terror which accompanies it: see the margin. The Chaldee says, The word of the Lord shall roar as a lion, and the words may be interpreted of the powerful voice of the gospel, sent forth, and sounding all over the world, and calling sinners to repentance. “The most learned commentators agree,” says Bishop Horsley, “that this roaring of the lion is the sound of the gospel; and that the subject of this and the following verse is, its promulgation and progress, the conversion of the Gentiles, and the final restoration of the Jews. ‘Clara et maxima voce predicabit evangelium,’ With a loud and most powerful voice shall he preach the gospel, says Piscator. And to the same effect Rivetus and Bochart. As a lion, by its roaring, calls animals of its own kind to a participation of the prey; so Christ, by the powerful voice of the gospel, shall call all nations to the fellowship of eternal life. — Livelye. The preaching of the gospel, reaching the remotest corners of the earth, is frequently represented under the image of the loudest sounds. And this loudness of the sound alone might justify the figure of the roaring lion. But a greater propriety of the figure will appear, if we recollect, that the first demonstrations of mercy to the faithful will be, the judgments executed on the anti-christian persecutors; to whom the sound of the gospel will be a sound of terror.” When he shall roar, then the children shall tremble from the west — The word יחרדו, rendered, shall tremble, describes the motion which a bird makes with its wings when it flies. Dr. Waterland renders it, shall come fluttering, and Bishop Horsley, shall hurry. The primary sense of the passage may be, that at this efficacious call of God, the remnant of Israel, who shall be accounted his children, and heirs of the promises made to their fathers, shall come in haste from the several places of their dispersions, and particularly from the western parts of the world, (see Zechariah 8:7,) called the sea in the original, and expressed in Isaiah by the islands of the sea: see Isaiah 11:11; Isaiah 24:14. They shall tremble as a bird out of Egypt — That is, fly with haste, as above. As a dove out of the land of Assyria — Great numbers of the Jews were exiles in Egypt and Assyria; and therefore, when the restoration of the Jews is spoken of, Egypt and Assyria are mentioned as countries from whence a great number of them should return. And I will place them in their houses — I will bring them back to their own country and habitations, like as the stork returns to her nest, and the dove to the dove-cot. This prophecy may be considered as receiving its completion in part when some of the Israelites, being recovered to the worship of the true God, returned to Judea with the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin, brought back to their own land from their captivity in Babylon. But the full accomplishment of it will not take place till the latter days, when the fulness of the Gentiles being brought in by the preaching of the gospel, all Israel shall be saved. Thus Bishop Horsley. These verses “contain a wonderful prophecy of the promulgation and progress of the gospel, and the restoration of the race of Israel. The first clause of the tenth verse states generally that they shall be brought to repentance. In what follows, the circumstances and progress of the business are described. First, Jehovah shall roar; the roaring is unquestionably the sound of the gospel. Jehovah himself shall roar; the sound shall begin to be uttered by the voice of the incarnate God himself. The first effect shall be, that children shall come fluttering from the west; a new race of children, converts of the Gentiles.” For, “it is remarkable, that the expression is neither their children, nor my children, but simply children. The first would limit the discourse to the natural Israel exclusively; the second would be nearly of the same effect, as it would express such as were already children at the time of the roaring. But the word children, put nakedly, without either of these epithets, expresses those who were neither of the natural Israel, nor children at the time of the roaring, but were roused by that sound, and then became children, that is, adopted children, by natural extraction Gentiles.” These shall come “chiefly from the western quarters of the world, or what the Scriptures call the west; for no part, I think, of Asia Minor, Syria, or Palestine, is reckoned a part of the east, in the language of the Old Testament. Afterward the natural Israel shall hurry from all the regions of their dispersion, and be settled in their own dwellings. It is to be observed that the roaring is mentioned twice. It will be most consistent with the style of the prophets to take this as two roarings; and to refer the hurrying of the children from the west to the first, the hurrying from Egypt and Assyria to the second. The times of the two roarings are, the first and second advent. The first brought children from the west; the renewed preaching of the gospel, at the second, will bring home the Jews. And perhaps this second sounding of the gospel may be, more remarkably even than the first, a roaring of Jehovah in person.” With this verse the chapter is closed in the Hebrew text and the Syriac version, and the following verse is given to the next chapter. But the division of the LXX., Vulgate, and Chaldee, which our public translation follows, seems preferable.


Verse 12

Hosea 11:12. Ephraim compasseth me about with lies — Ephraim and Israel are hypocrites; they promise much and perform nothing; they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. But Judah yet ruleth with God — Judah kept close to that kingly government which God had settled in David’s family, and faithfully observed those ordinances which God had given to his people, here termed saints, as they are also Deuteronomy 33:3; and else where a holy nation, and peculiar people. This seems to relate to the times of Hezekiah, who restored the pure worship of God in Judah; at which time the ten tribes were flagrantly wicked, and wholly addicted to an idolatrous worship. Instead of saints, Bishop Horsley reads, holy ones, and interprets the expression of the persons of the Trinity. His translation of the verse is, “Ephraim hath compassed me about with treachery, and the house of Israel with deceit. But Judah shall yet obtain dominion with God, and shall be established with the holy ones.” He considers the expression, shall obtain dominion, &c., as “a promissory allusion to a final restoration of the Jewish monarchy;” and the remaining clause, shall be established, &c., as signifying “either the constancy of Judah’s fidelity to the Holy Ones, or the firmness of the support which he shall receive from them.” And he thinks that “by the use of this plural word, Holy Ones, the prophecy clearly points to the conversion of the Jewish people to the Christian faith.”

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Hosea 11:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/hosea-11.html. 1857.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, August 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20
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