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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments
Hosea 2

 

 

Verse 1-2

Hosea 2:1-2. Say to your brethren — Many interpreters consider this verse as being connected with the preceding chapter, thus: When that general restoration of the Jewish nation shall take place, you may change your language in speaking to those of your brethren and sisters whom I had before disowned, and you may call them Ammi, my people, and Ruhamah, she that hath obtained mercy. The prophet alludes to the 6th and 9th verses of the preceding chapter. Other expositors, however, with more apparent reason, consider this verse as connected with the following words, and translate it thus: “Ye that are my people, and have obtained mercy, speak to your brethren and sisters, and plead with your mother,” &c. “Although the Israelites, in the days of Hosea, were in general corrupt, and addicted to idolatry; yet there were among them, in the worst times, some who had not bowed the knee to Baal. These were always Ammi and Ruhamah; God’s own people, and a darling daughter. God commissions these faithful few to admonish the inhabitants of the land in general, of the dreadful judgments that would be brought upon them by the gross idolatry of the Jewish Church and nation;” and to reprove, and use their best endeavours to reform that general corruption which the nation had contracted by its idolatry; whereby the people had broken the covenant God had made with them, and had caused a separation, or divorce, between him and them. Let her therefore put away her whoredoms, &c. — Let her leave off her idolatries. These are often expressed in the Scriptures by the fondness and caresses which pass between unchaste lovers.


Verse 3

Hosea 2:3. Lest I strip her naked, &c. — The punishment frequently inflicted upon harlots was, to strip them naked and expose them to the world. The punishment of adulteresses among the Germans is thus described by Tacitus, “Accisis crinibus nudatam coram propinguis expellit domo maritus.” Or the allusion may be to the ignominy which brutal conquerors sometimes inflicted on the captives they took in war, by stripping them of their clothing and causing them to travel in that condition, exposed to the inclemency of the weather, and, which was yet worse, to the intolerable heat of the sun: see note on Isaiah 3:17. Thus God threatens to deal with the Israelites: to deliver them into the hands of their enemies, and carry them away naked into captivity, (see Hosea 2:9,) in as forlorn and desolate a condition as they were in during their bondage in Egypt. And make her as a wilderness — A state of captivity is fitly compared to being placed in a wilderness, in want of common necessaries: compare Ezekiel 19:13. “It may seem harsh,” says Bishop Horsley, “to say of a woman that she shall be laid waste like a wilderness, and reduced to the condition of a parched land. But it is to be observed that the allegorical style makes an intercommunity of attributes between the type and the thing typified. So that when a woman is the image of a country or of a church, that may be said of a woman, which, in unfigured language, might be said of the country, or the church, which she represents. The country might literally be made a waste wilderness, by unfruitful seasons, by the devastations of war, or of noxious vermin: a church is made a wilderness and a parched land, when the living waters of the Spirit are withheld.”


Verse 4-5

Hosea 2:4-5. And I will not have mercy on her children, &c. — As an injured husband has no regard for the children which his wife has had by another man; so neither will I have pity on thy children which are trained up to practise thy idolatries. For they be the children of whoredoms — Spurious children, not knowing their father: so those might fitly be called who worshipped a plurality of gods; for by worshipping a multiplicity of them, they declared plainly, that they did not know to whom their worship was due, or who was their Creator or original Father. For their mother hath played the harlot — This proves the truth of the above charge, and justifies the severity of the punishment. She that conceived them hath done shamefully — Hath acted like an impudent and shameless harlot, sinning openly and avowedly. She said, I will go after my lovers — By lovers here, are meant, first, The idols, with whom the Israelites committed spiritual adultery: see Jeremiah 3:1; and then the idolatrous nations, whose alliance the Israelites courted, and, in order thereto, practised their idolatries: the word may be understood here in both senses; for they ascribed all the plenty they enjoyed chiefly to the favour of the idol-gods which they worshipped, Jeremiah 44:17; and then they placed their trust and confidence in the confederacies they had made with their neighbouring idolaters; and thought the peace and plenty they possessed were very much owing to their alliance and protection.


Verse 6-7

Hosea 2:6-7. Therefore I will hedge up thy way with thorns, &c. — That is, with difficulties and distresses; and make a wall — Hebrew, גדרה, a stone fence. I will effectually block up her way, and surround her with great calamities. That she shall not find her paths — That she shall not know which way to turn to extricate herself from them. And she shall follow after her lovers — She shall seek for help of her idols, and her idolatrous allies, but shall receive none. Or, as Archbishop Newcome paraphrases the words, “For some time she shall remain addicted to her Egyptian and Syrian idols, and to all her former idolatrous and immoral practices: but without carrying her evil wishes into execution.” She shall seek them, but not find them — A proverbial expression denoting lost labour. She shall seek for favour and succour at her lovers’ hands, but all in vain, they shall all forsake her, and change their ancient love into mortal hatred. “It is the usual practice of the devil and his instruments,” says an old writer, “to bring men into the briers and thorns, and there to leave them to shift as they can. Thus the Pharisees dealt by Judas; What is that to us, say they, see thou to that: they left him when they had led him to his ruin.” God deals very differently with his people. As in very faithfulness he afflicts them, that he may be true to their best interests: so when they follow hard after him, and seek him as David did, they are sure to find him; if they search for him with all their heart, Jeremiah 29:13. When they meet with disappointments it is in mercy, and they are chastened of the Lord, that they may not be condemned with the world. Then shall she say, I will return to my first husband, &c. — Her afflictions will bring her to a sense of her duty, and of the happiness she enjoyed as long as she cleaved steadfastly unto Jehovah the true God.


Verse 8-9

Hosea 2:8-9. For she did not know — Or, as Bishop Horsley renders it, But she would not know, that I gave her corn, &c. — She did not, or would not consider that all the necessaries she enjoyed, as well as her riches and ornaments, were my gifts, which yet she ungratefully employed in the service of her idols, and in making images of false gods to worship instead of me. Therefore — Or, for the punishment of her ingratitude; will I take away my corn in the time thereof — I will change my manner of acting toward her, and deprive her of the good things she hopes infallibly to enjoy. At the time when she expects to reap the fruits of the earth, her enemies shall invade her and destroy them, or unfavourable seasons shall entirely blast them, or other causes prevent her enjoying them; and will recover my wool and my flax — Will take back again the proper materials I gave for clothing her. This verse, according to Bishop Horsley, speaks “of calamities already begun, and the next describes the progress and increase of them. It appears from all the prophets, and particularly from Amos and Joel, that the beginning of judgment upon this refractory, rebellious people, was in unfruitful seasons, and noxious vermin, producing a failure of the crops, dearth, murrain of the cattle, famine, and pestilential diseases.”


Verse 10-11

Hosea 2:10-11. And now will I discover her lewdness, &c. — The folly and wickedness of her idolatries shall appear by the punishments which I will inflict upon her, which shall be so remarkable that they shall be taken notice of by the idolatrous nations round about her, which have pretended a friendship for her, and promised her great assistance and prosperity if she would worship the same gods that they worshipped; but neither they nor any of their false gods shall save her from the calamities I will bring upon her. And I will cause all her mirth to cease — The mirth and jollity of Israel were greatly damped when Tiglath-pileser took Ijon and other cities, and subdued Gilead and Galilee, and all the land of Naphtali, and carried the people away captive to Assyria, which he did but a few years after this prophecy was uttered. And surely all their joy must have ceased about ten or twelve years after, when Samaria was taken, and Hosea and all Israel made captives. Her feast-days, her new-moons, &c. — Though apostate Israel was fallen to idolatry, and had renounced the true worship of God, yet by this verse it appears they retained many of the rites and ceremonies that were used in Judah, or else they set up others like them. But God here threatens, that in their captivity they should have no opportunity to celebrate them.


Verse 12-13

Hosea 2:12-13. And I will destroy her vines — Those blessings, or fruits of the earth, which she has attributed to her false gods, I will give to the beasts of the field to eat, making the whole land only a wilderness for beasts. Among other objects of their false worship, the Israelites worshipped the celestial luminaries, and, it is likely, attributed the fruits of the earth to them, as self-sufficient, or producing them by their own power, and not as mere instruments in the hands of Jehovah. And I will visit upon her the days of Baalim — I will punish her for all the idolatries she has committed from the days of Jeroboam, who first set up the worship of false gods: see chap. Hosea 13:1. The chief god of every country was called by the name of Baal, which means lord: so Baal-peor was the god of the Moabites, Baal-zebub was the god of Ekron, (2 Kings 1:2,) Baal-berith the god of the Phenicians, 8:33. These several deities are in the plural number called Baalim, lords; for they had lords many, 1 Corinthians 8:5. And she decked herself with her ear-rings — She put on the richest ornaments on their idolatrous festivals.


Verse 14-15

Hosea 2:14-15. Therefore, behold, I will allure her — As there is a plain alteration of the style here from threatenings to promises, so the first word of this verse should be translated nevertheless, or notwithstanding. And bring her into the wilderness — Or, after I have brought her into the wilderness. The state of the Jews in captivity is elsewhere expressed by a wilderness state: see note on Ezekiel 20:35. It probably means here the dispersion of the ten tribes, after their first captivity by Shalmaneser, 2 Kings 17:6. And speak comfortably to her — In these words, and the preceding, I will allure her, there is an allusion to the practice of fond husbands, who, forgetting past offences, use all the arts of endearment to persuade their wives, who have parted from them, to return to them again. So God will use the most powerful persuasions to bring the Israelites to the acknowledgment of the truth, notwithstanding all their former abuses of the means of grace. The Hebrew here, דברתי על לבה, is literally, I will speak to her heart, that is, speak what shall touch her heart, in her outcast state in the wilderness of the Gentile world, by the proffers of mercy in the gospel. “For the doctrine of the gospels,” says Luther on this place, “is the true soothing speech, with which the minds of men are taken. For it terrifies not the soul, like the law, with severe denunciations of punishment; but although it reproves sin, it declares that God is ready to pardon sinners for the sake of his Son; and holds forth the sacrifice of the Son of God that the souls of sinners may be assured that satisfaction has been made by that to God.” And I will give her her vineyards from thence — Or, from that time, as the word משׂםmay be rendered: then I will restore her vineyards and fruitful fields which I had taken from her, Hosea 2:12 : or, from that place; or, in consequence of these things; in which senses also the original word is used. God declares that from and through the wilderness lies the road to a rich, fruitful country; that is, that the calamities of the dispersion, together with the soothing intimations of the gospel, by bringing the Jewish race to a right mind, will be the means of reinstating them in that wealth and prosperity which God hath ordained for them in their own land. And the valley of Achor — Or, of trouble, or tribulation, as the Hebrew word Achor signifies; for a door of hope — The passage alludes to “the vale near Jericho, where the Israelites, first setting foot within the holy land, were thrown into trouble and consternation by the daring theft of Achan. In memory of which, and of the tragical scene exhibited in that spot, in the execution of the sacrilegious peculator and his whole family, the place was called the vale of Achor, Joshua 7. And this vale of Achor, though a scene of trouble and distress, was a door of hope to the Israelites under Joshua; for there, immediately after the execution of Achan, God said to Joshua, Fear not, neither be thou dismayed, (Joshua 8:1,) and promised to support him against Ai, her king, and her people. And from this time Joshua drove on his conquests with uninterrupted success. In like manner the tribulations of the Jews, in their present dispersion, shall open to them the door of hope.” And there — That is, in the wilderness, and in the vale of tribulation, under those circumstances of present difficulty, mixed with cheering hope; she shall sing as in the days of her youth — She shall express her joy in God, as her forefathers did after their deliverance at the Red sea; when God espoused them for his peculiar people, and entered into a covenant with them at mount Sinai, where they solemnly promised an entire obedience to him. And, or rather, even, as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt — “This perpetual allusion to the exodus,” or coming out of Egypt, “to the circumstances of the march through the wilderness, and the first entrance into the holy land, plainly points the prophecy to a similar deliverance, by the immediate power of God, under that leader, of whom Moses was a type.” — Horsley.


Verse 16-17

Hosea 2:16-17. And at that day thou shalt call me Ishi, &c. — Ishi, my husband, is an appellation of love; Baali, my lord, of subjection and fear. God hath not given his people, whom he justifies, accepts, and betroths to himself in righteousness, the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind, 2 Timothy 1:7. As the words אישׁי, ishi, and בעלי, baali, in this verse, (both applicable to a husband, although in different views, the former signifying a husband simply, the latter a husband under the idea of a lord, or master,) are manifestly appellatives, and not proper names, they certainly ought to have been translated as appellatives; that is, the clause should have been rendered, Thou shalt call me my husband, thou shalt no more call me my lord, or master. Thus Houbigant, who adds, by way of explication, “because thou shalt love me, and serve me through affection, and not through fear.” For I will take away the names of Baalim That is, Baals; out of her mouth — The Jews were forbidden to mention the names of the heathen idols, Exodus 23:13; Joshua 23:7; and therefore the name Baal, though capable of a good sense, as it signifies husband, or lord, must be avoided by them, because it was also the name of false gods, lest by using it they should be led into idolatry. And they shall be no more remembered — Or mentioned, as the Hebrew may be translated; by their name — “It is in vain,” says Bishop Horsley, “to look for a purity of religious worship, answerable to this prophecy, among the Jews returned from the Babylonian captivity. This part of the prophecy, with all the rest, will receive its accomplishment in the converted race in the latter days. It is said, indeed, that, after the return from Babylon, the Jews scrupulously avoided idolatry, and have continued untainted with it to this day. But, generally, as this is asserted by all commentators, one after another, it is not true. Among the restored Jews there was, indeed, no public idolatry, patronized by the government, as there had been in times before the captivity, particularly in the reign of Ahaz. But from the time of Antiochus Epiphanes to the last moments of the Jewish polity, there was a numerous and powerful faction, which in every thing affected the Greek manners; and this Hellenizing party were idolaters to a man. The Jews of the present times, as far as we are acquainted with them, seem indeed to be free from the charge of idolatry, properly so called. But of the present state of the ten tribes we have no certain knowledge; without which we cannot take upon us either to accuse or to acquit them.”


Verse 18

Hosea 2:18. And in that day will I make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, &c. — That is, a covenant of security from the evils which, in the days of my vengeance, arose from beasts, and birds of prey, and venomous creatures. Or the words may be understood figuratively, of the final conversion of the most ignorant and vicious of the heathen to the true faith; the effect of which will be, that they shall live in peace and friendship with the re-established nation of the Jews. In this sense the passage is understood by Bishop Horsley. And I will break the bow, &c. — I will cause that there shall be no more wars, either foreign or domestic. A universal peace, and freedom from all enemies, is mentioned by the prophets, as a concomitant of that flourishing state of the church which shall commence at the restoration of the Jews, and the coming in of the Gentiles: see Isaiah 11:6-7. And will make them to lie down safely — Being gathered under the wings of my protection, they shall repose themselves upon my power and providence, committing themselves to my care in well doing. Observe, reader, all true and solid security, all real peace, whether inward or outward, flows from God’s favour.


Verse 19-20

Hosea 2:19-20. I will betroth thee unto me for ever — I will treat thee, who hast been a harlot, like a wife, if hereafter thou become faithful to me. Yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, &c. — Bishop Horsley translates these verses thus: To myself I say, I will betroth thee with justice, and with righteousness, and with exuberant kindness and with tender love. With faithfulness to myself, I say, I will betroth thee, and thou shalt know the Jehovah. The passage, it seems, maybe paraphrased as follows: I will betroth, or take, thee unto me in a way that shall display, or make manifest, my righteousness, or the regard I have to justice and holiness, my beneficence, or inclination to make my creatures happy, my mercy in forgiving offences committed against me, and my faithfulness in fulfilling my promises, and verifying my declarations. And thou shalt know the Lord — Experience the exuberant goodness of Jehovah; shalt find that he is and wilt be a gracious Lord to thee. One especial part of the new covenant consists in imparting to the faithful a more perfect knowledge of God as a sin-pardoning God, and of his will and their own duty: see Jeremiah 31:31-34.


Verse 21-22

Hosea 2:21-22. I will hear the heavens — When they ask, as it were, to send their rain on the earth. And they shall hear the earth — When it supplicates, as it were, for rain. The earth shall hear the corn and the wine, &c. — When they wish, as it were, to supply the wants of man. And they shall hear Jezreel — All nature shall hear, and minister to, the people whom God shall restore to their own land. The Hebrew word, however, here rendered to hear, Dr. Waterland more properly renders to answer, thus: I will answer the heavens, and they shall answer the earth, &c. In other words, all creatures shall answer the desires and wants of my people: the heavens shall answer the wants of the earth, in sending down seasonable showers: and the earth shall answer the wants of mankind, in bringing forth corn, and wine, and other necessaries of life: and the fruits of the earth shall answer the wishes of my restored people, by giving them due nourishment: see the same sense more plainly expressed, Zechariah 8:12. Bishop Horsley reads, I will perform my part, saith Jehovah, upon the heavens; and they shall perform their part upon the earth; and the earth shall perform her part upon the corn, &c.; and they shall perform their parts for the Jezreel [the seed of God.] “The primary and most proper meaning,” says he, “of the verb ענה, [rendered to hear,] I take to be to react. But more largely it predicates reciprocal, correspondent, or correlate action. Thus it signifies the proper action of one thing upon another, according to established physical sympathies in the material world; or, among intelligent beings, according to the rule of moral order. And in this passage it is applied first to the action of God upon the powers of nature; and then to the subordinate action of the parts of nature upon one another; and, last of all, to the subservience of the elements, and their physical productions, to the benefit of man; and ultimately, by the direction of God’s overruling providence, to the exclusive benefit of the godly.” The gradation of the prophet in the passage is very elegant, and admirably denotes the concert, the harmony, the intelligence, which shall be between all parts of the universe, co-operating for the good of God’s people, who shall then no more see the heaven of iron and of brass withholding its dew and its rain; nor the earth burned up by the sun, unable to nourish the plants, nor the fruits denied the succour of the earth, nor men deprived of their necessary ailments. The words probably allude also to the spiritual blessings of the Christian Church.


Verse 23

Hosea 2:23. And I will sow — Or plant, her unto me in the earth, &c. — The original word, rendered sow, or plant, alludes to and explains the word Jezreel, or seed of God, as used Hosea 1:4; Hosea 1:11, and here in the foregoing verse. The prophet foretels a plentiful increase of true believers, like to that of corn sown in the earth; and represents the converted Jews as being the seed from which an abundant harvest of Gentile converts should arise. “The myriads of the natural Israel,” says Bishop Horsley, “converted by the preaching of the apostles, were the first seed of the universal church. And there is reason to believe, that the restoration of the converted Jews will be the occasion and means of a prodigious influx of new converts from the Gentiles in the latter ages, Romans 11:12; Romans 11:15. Thus the Jezreel of the natural Israel, from the first have been, and to the last will prove, a seed sown of God for himself in the earth.” I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy — I will have mercy both on the Jews and Gentiles, who shall obey the gospel call, and become true converts to the Christian faith. This was in part fulfilled at the first preaching of the gospel, whether in Judea or in other countries: see Romans 9:24-26. But it shall receive a more perfect completion at the restoration of the Jews, and the coming in of the fulness of the Gentiles: compare Hosea 1:10-11.

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Hosea 2:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/hosea-2.html. 1857.

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Wednesday, December 11th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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