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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments
Hosea 5

 

 

Verse 1

Hosea 5:1. Hear this, O ye priests — Or rather, princes, as Dr. Waterland renders כהנים, a reading which agrees better with the house of the king that follows, and the word admitting of both significations. For judgment is toward you — Or, denounced against you, as Archbishop Newcome renders it, a translation favoured by the LXX., προς υμας εστι το κριμα; by Houbigant, who reads, adest vobis judicium, judgment is at hand to you, or hangs over you. Because ye have been a snare on Mizpah, and upon Tabor — Mizpah (a name derived from צפה, to watch, namely, from an eminence) was a mountain, and probably a city too, of Gilead. Tabor was a beautiful and fruitful mountain in the tribe of Zebulun. These places being much frequented by hunters and fowlers, many snares and nets were laid in them to catch birds and beasts: and with an allusion to this the Israelites are here described as insnaring men on these places into idolatry, because many of the tribe of Judah had been seduced, or drawn into idolatry, by their bad example.


Verse 2

Hosea 5:2. And the revolters — Hebrew, שׂשׂים, declinantes, the persons declining, turning aside, and departing out of the way appointed them to walk in, are profound to make slaughter — Or, have gone deep in slaughter, as שׁחשׂה העמיקוmay be properly rendered. The words may be intended either of the slaughter of idolatrous sacrifices, or of men. It seems most likely, however, that the latter is meant, and that these wicked priests and princes laid plots to cut off such as adhered to the worship of the true God, and opposed their idolatry. The LXX. suppose the allusion to hunting is still carried on, and render the clause, οι αγρευοντες την θηραν κατεπηξαν, the hunters have pierced the prey. Though I have been a rebuker of them all — Though I have reproved, exhorted, and instructed them by the prophets whom I raised up among them, even after they turned to idolatry. They had, in particular, two very extraordinary prophets, Elijah and Elisha, who were endued with a greater power to work miracles, whereby to prove their divine commission, and to convince the people of the certain truth and deep importance of their messages, than any one who had been raised up either among the Jews or Israelites since the days of Moses. Dr. Waterland and Calmet, however, translate this clause, I will call them all to discipline; and Newcome and Horsley, I will bring a chastisement on them all; which the latter interprets, “I will be a chastisement to them, as they have been a net and a snare to others.”


Verses 3-5

Hosea 5:3-5. I know Ephraim — I am perfectly well acquainted with the actions of Ephraim, the head of the ten tribes; and Israel is not hid from me — And the actions of the other nine tribes are no less known to me. Now, O Ephraim, thou committest whoredom — Even now, at this time, thou goest on in thy idolatry, notwithstanding all my rebukes and exhortations. They will not frame their doings to turn unto their God — They are so wholly inclined to idolatry, and it has got so fixed a root in their affections, that they cannot think of turning to the pure worship of the true God. And it even extinguishes all true knowledge and sense of him among them. Bishop Horsley renders the verse, Their perverse habits will not permit them to return unto their God; for a spirit of wantonness is within them, and the Jehovah they have not known. The pride of Israel doth testify to his face — The insolent behaviour of Israel toward God, whose worship they despise, both discovers itself in all their conduct, and testifies that their guilt is great, and deserves severe punishment. Archbishop Newcome renders this clause, The pride of Israel shall be humbled to his face; and Waterland, Shall be brought down in his sight. Therefore shall Israel and Ephraim fall, &c. — Be brought to utter ruin; Judah also shall fall with them — And the other two tribes of Judah and Benjamin, having followed their bad example, shall also be severely punished as well as they.


Verse 6

Hosea 5:6. They shall go with their flocks and herds to seek the Lord — They shall seek to make their peace with God, and to induce him to be favourable to them by a multitude of sacrifices; but they shall not find their expectations answered. This is spoken of the people of Judah, mentioned in the latter part of the foregoing verse; who, though they attended the temple worship, yet did it without any true sense of religion, for which the Prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah particularly reprove them. The prophecy seems to look forward to the times of Hezekiah and Josiah, declaring that the attempts of those pious kings to reclaim the people from idolatry, and to restore the true worship of God, would fail of any durable effect, and would not avail to reverse the doom pronounced upon the guilty people. He hath withdrawn himself from them — God is said to hide and withdraw himself, when he will not answer men’s prayers, nor afford them seasonable relief in time of need. Hebrew, חלצ מהם, he hath disengaged, or loosened himself from them, or hath taken himself away.


Verse 7

Hosea 5:7. They have dealt treacherously against the Lord — The word בגד, rendered, to deal treacherously, signifies properly, a wife’s being false to her husband; see Jeremiah 3:20; from whence it is applied to the sin of idolatry, which was being false to the true God, or giving to creatures, or mere imaginary beings, the affection and regard due to him, and therefore it is often in Scripture styled spiritual whoredom. For they have begotten strange children — A race of aliens, as Bishop Horsley renders it: that is, children trained from their earliest infancy in the habits and principles of idolatry, and growing up aliens with respect to God, (for all are not Israel that are of Israel,) alienated from him in their affections, and in their sentiments and practice mere heathen. The expression alludes to children not lawfully begotten, or not born in wedlock. Now shall a month devour them — A very short time shall complete their destruction. It shall be sudden and unexpected. With their portions — That is, their allotments. “They shall be now totally dispossessed of their country, and the boundaries of the separate allotments of the several tribes shall be confounded and obliterated, and new partitions of the land into districts shall be made, from time to time, at the pleasure of its successive masters. The captivity of the ten tribes was completed soon after Hezekiah’s attempted reformation, and the kingdom of Judah not long survived Josiah’s.” It is probable the month alludes to these events.


Verse 8-9

Hosea 5:8-9. Blow ye the cornet in Gibeah, &c. — The prophet here calls upon the watchmen of Judah and Israel to sound an alarm, and give notice of the approach of the enemy: compare Joel 2:1. It was usual in those days, when a country was invaded, or was on the point of being so, to give notice of it by sounding cornets and trumpets from the towers and high places, on which the watchmen or sentinels were placed. Gibeah and Ramah were towns in the tribe of Benjamin; and Beth-aven, or Beth-el, was in the territory of the ten tribes, so that ordering the sounding of an alarm in those places, signified that both kingdoms should be hostilely invaded. After thee, O Benjamin — Or, Look behind thee, O Benjamin: see Pococke. The words present the image of an enemy in close pursuit, ready to fall upon the rear of Benjamin. Ephraim shall be desolate — God’s judgments shall likewise overtake Israel, or the ten tribes, as well as Judah. In the day of rebuke — At the time when God shall punish them for the provocations which he has received. This seems to be intended of the invasion of the kingdom of Israel by Shalmaneser king of Assyria. Among the tribes of Israel I have made known, &c. — I have denounced my judgments against the whole kingdom of Israel, as well as that of Judah, and given them warning, that they may escape them by a timely repentance.


Verse 10

Hosea 5:10. The princes of Judah, &c. — The prophet in this chapter passes frequently from the one kingdom to the other, that he might set forth the crimes, and foretel the punishments of both, unless they averted them by their repentance. Instead of the princes, Bishop Horsley reads, the rulers of Judah, observing, “I prefer the word rulers to princes, because, in the modern acceptation of the word princes, royalty, or at least, royal blood, is included in the notion of it. But these שׂרי, saree, [princes,] of the Old Testament, were not persons of royal extraction, or connected by blood or marriage with the royal family; but the chief priests and elders, who composed the secular as well as the ecclesiastical magistracy of the country.” Like them that remove the bound — They have violated the most sacred laws of God: upon which, not only the ordinances of his worship, but likewise the rights and properties of men depend, and are become guilty of the same injustice and confusion with those that remove the ancient bounds and landmarks, Ezekiel 46:18. Therefore I will pour out my wrath upon them like water — That is, with great violence, like an impetuous torrent, or the hasty unexpected overflowing of a river, which overwhelms every thing near. Great calamities are often compared to the overflowing of water.


Verse 11-12

Hosea 5:11-12. Ephraim is oppressed and broken in judgment — He is delivered over to oppressors by God’s just judgment. Such were Pul and Tiglath-pileser, kings of Assyria. Archbishop Newcome distinguishes between these phrases thus: He is oppressed with a heavy weight of calamity; he is crushed, or broken in his judicial contest with God; because he willingly walked after the commandment — Because he willingly submitted to, or complied with Jeroboam’s command, requiring his subjects to worship the calves which he had placed at Dan and Beth-el, and to conform to all his idolatrous institutions, in opposition to the law of God. Of this kind were the statutes of Omri, mentioned Micah 6:16. The reading of the LXX. here is different, namely, κατεπατησε το κριμα, οτι ηρξατο πορευεσθαι οπισω των ματαιων, He trode judgment under foot, because he began to walk after vain things; that is, after idols. They seem either to have read שׁוא, shave, (vanity,) for צו, tzave, (commandment,) or else to have supposed the latter word to be put for the former, there being frequent instances in the Hebrew text of letters being changed, one for another, which have nearly the same sound: see the Arabic, Syriac, Chaldaic, Houbigant and others, in Poole’s Synopsis, who read שׁוא, vanity. Therefore will I be unto Ephraim as a moth — My judgment shall consume both Israel and Judah as a moth fretteth a garment, or as rottenness consumes the flesh, from small and unperceived beginnings, working slow, but certain and complete destruction.


Verse 13-14

Hosea 5:13-14. When Ephraim, saw his sickness — When the king of Israel, namely, Menahem, saw himself too weak to contend with Pul, king of Assyria, he sent an embassy to him to make him his ally, and, in order to do it, became his tributary, that his hand might be with him to confirm his kingdom to him, 2 Kings 15:15. And Judah his wound — Hebrew, his ulcer, or corrupted sore. So in like manner shall Ahaz, king of Judah, implore the assistance of Tiglath-pileser against his enemies. For, after the words, then went Ephraim to the Assyrian, the word Judah should be supplied, and the clause should be read, And Judah sent, (or, shall send,)

to King Jareb. Thus Secker and Pocock understand the passage. The word Jareb means one that will plead for a person, and defend his cause against any that may oppose him, or an avenger, or helper. And it does not appear to be here a proper name. Bishop Horsley renders it, The king who takes up all quarrels, and observes, “This describes some powerful monarch who took upon him to interfere in all quarrels between inferior powers, to arbitrate between them, and compel them to make up their differences upon such terms as he thought proper to dictate: whose alliance was, of course, anxiously courted by weaker states. Such was the Assyrian monarch in the times to which the prophecy relates. His friendship was purchased by Menahem king of Israel,” (as observed above,) “and in a later period solicited by Ahaz, 2 Kings 16:5-9.” Yet could he not heal you, nor cure you of your wound — Those foreign alliances proved to be of no benefit either to Israel or Judah. It is expressly said of Tiglath-pileser, 2 Chronicles 28:20, that when he came to Ahaz, under colour of helping him according to the terms of their agreement, at a time when Judah was brought low, he distressed him, but strengthened him not. And though Ahaz gave him presents out of the house of the Lord, out of the house of the king, and of the princes, still he helped him not. And as to the ten tribes, the Assyrian kings were so far from helping them really, that they destroyed numbers of them from time to time, and at last carried them all away into captivity. So weak often is human policy! I will be unto Ephraim as a lion — The Vulgate reads, leœna, a lioness, and the LXX. a panther. The sense of the verse is, that it was in vain for either Israel or Judah to expect help from men, since God had determined to destroy or take them away, as with the impetuosity of a panther flying upon his prey, or the fury of a lion, tearing it in pieces.


Verse 15

Hosea 5:15. I will go and return to my place — I will withdraw myself from them, and give them up to exile and punishment, till they acknowledge their offence and seek my face: that is, till they confess their sins, and, by a sincere humiliation, and in fervent prayer, implore my favour. The Chaldee paraphrase expresses the sense thus: “I will take away my majestic presence, or shechinah, from among them, and will return into heaven.” Thus Ezekiel describes the destruction of the temple and kingdom, by God’s removing his glory from the sanctuary and city: see Ezekiel 10:4; Ezekiel 11:23. In their affliction they will seek me early — That is, without delay, and earnestly; or, with great diligence and assiduity. Observe, reader, when we are under the corrections of the divine rod, our business is to seek God’s face, that is, an acquaintance with him, a token of his being at peace with us, and a manifestation of his favour. And it may reasonably be expected that affliction will bring those to God who had gone astray, and kept at a distance from him. For this reason God turns away from us, that he may turn us to himself, and then may return to us. Is any among you afflicted? Let him pray. The first three verses of the next chapter should have been joined to this. So the LXX. thought, connecting the last verse of this with the first of the next, by the participle λεγοντες, saying.

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Hosea 5:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/hosea-5.html. 1857.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, December 9th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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