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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments
Hosea 9

 

 

Verse 1-2

Hosea 9:1-2. Rejoice not, O Israel — It should seem that this prophecy was delivered at a time when the situation of public affairs was promising; perhaps after some signal success, which had given occasion to public rejoicings. As other people — Hebrew, כעמים, as, or like, the nations, that is, the heathen nations, or the peoples, as Bishop Horsley renders it, paraphrasing the words thus: “Those national successes, which might be just cause of rejoicing to other people, are none to thee; for thou liest under the heavy sentence of God’s wrath, for thy disloyalty to him; and all thy bright prospects will vanish, and terminate in thy destruction. The Gentiles were not guilty in an equal degree with the Israelites; for, although they sinned, it was not against the light of revelation, in contempt of the warnings of inspired prophets, or in breach of any express covenant.” For thou hast gone a whoring from thy God — Hast been alienated from the love and service of God, and hast broken covenant with him by serving other gods, and thereby hast exposed thyself to his just displeasure. Thou hast loved a reward — Or hire, (such as was given by adulterers to lewd women,) upon every corn-floor — Thou hast loved to see thy floor full, and hast attributed thy plenty to thy idols, and rejoiced before them at the ingathering of thy corn. Bishop Horsley renders the clause, Thou hast set thy heart upon the fee of prostitution, namely, says he, “the fruits of the earth; which they ascribed to the heavenly bodies, and other physical agents which they worshipped.” The floor — The corn which is gathered into the floor; and the wine-press — The wine that is pressed out into it; shall not feed them — Shall not nourish and strengthen the idolaters. And the new wine shall fail in her — Samaria and all Israel expect a full vintage; but they expect it from their idols, and therefore shall be disappointed. Archbishop Newcome renders it, The choice wine shall deceive them, or, shall lie unto them, as the word may be rendered. We find similar expressions in Horace, as fundus mendax, the lying farm, and spem mentita seges, the crop-deceiving hope.


Verse 3

Hosea 9:3. They shall not dwell in the Lord’s land, but Ephraim shall return into Egypt — God will turn them out of that inheritance he gave to their fathers, and they shall be carried into captivity or become exiles a second time in Egypt. When Shalmaneser made the ten tribes captive, such as were able to escape the conqueror fled into Egypt, having implored the aid of that country against the Assyrians. And they shall eat unclean things in Assyria — They have transgressed my law, in eating unclean things in their own land; and the time shall come when they shall be forced by their imperious masters the Assyrians to eat unclean things, whether they will or not. They will have no choice left them, but, as slaves, will be forced to eat what is given them.


Verse 4

Hosea 9:4. They shall not offer wine-offerings to the Lord — They have omitted to make wine-offerings to the Lord when they had it in their power, and when it was their duty to do it; and in the time of their captivity they will be willing to do it, but shall not have it in their power. Wine- offerings were appointed to be offered with the morning and evening sacrifice; the sacrifice representing Christ, and pardon by him, and the wine-offering the Spirit of grace. The daily repetition of the sacrifice continued their pardon and peace. All this, it is here threatened, should be withheld from these captives. Neither shall they be pleasing unto him: their sacrifices shall be, &c. — The words in this sentence are somewhat transposed in our translation. They stand otherwise in most other versions, namely, Neither shall their sacrifices be pleasing unto him, but as the bread of mourners among them — That is, their sacrifices shall be no more pleasing to God than if they were the bread of mourners, or that which is prepared for those who are mourning for the dead, of which no part was ever offered, or so much as brought into the temple. Mourners for the dead were, during their time of mourning, unqualified to attend upon God’s service; and any thing they had eaten of was accounted unfit to be offered to God: see note on Deuteronomy 26:14. All that eat thereof — Namely, of the sacrifices here spoken of; shall be polluted — Rendered impure. For their bread for their soul — The offerings they make for the expiation of their sin, or for an atonement for their souls, (see Leviticus 17:11,) shall not come into the house of the Lord — Shall not be fit to be brought into the temple.


Verse 5-6

Hosea 9:5-6. What will ye do in the solemn day — What will you do in your captivity, when any of your solemn or festival days come? When you shall find yourselves far from your own country, without temple, without prophets, without priests, without sacrifices, without solemn assemblies; what will be your sentiments? You will doubtless be willing to abstain from labour on those days, as you were wont to do; but your masters will not permit that, but force you to your wonted employments. Though the Israelites of the ten tribes were schismatics, and did not go up to the temple at Jerusalem, they omitted not to celebrate, in their own manner, the feasts of the Lord in their own country; and as these solemnities were always accompanied with festivity and rejoicing, it must have been a great mortification to them to be no longer able to celebrate them in the land of their captivity: see Calmet. For lo, they are gone because of destruction — Some are already withdrawn, because of the desolation that cometh. A great many of the ten tribes fled into Egypt, when they saw their country laid waste by the Assyrians. The prophet here threatens these, that they should have no better a fate than their brethren who were carried away into Assyria; but should die in Egypt, and never see their native country any more. Egypt shall gather them up — Or, gather them, as the word is translated Ezekiel 29:5. It signifies the same in both places, as if it had been said they should be buried there. The pleasant places, &c., nettles shall possess them — Their fine houses, which they have purchased at vast prices, shall be ruined, and lie in rubbish till they be overrun with nettles. This signified a vast desolation. These two verses are thus translated by Bishop Horsley: “What will ye do for the season of solemn assembly, and for the festival of Jehovah? Behold, all are gone! Total devastation! Egypt shall gather them. Memphis shall bury them. Their valuables of silver! The nettle shall dispossess them, and the thistle, in their dwellings.”


Verse 7

Hosea 9:7. The days of visitation are come — The days of punishment, or retribution, are at hand. This resembles the well-known line of Virgil: —

Venit summa dies et ineluctabile tempus Dardaniæ. — — — ÆN. lib. 2. 50:324.

The fatal day, th’ appointed hour is come, The time of Troy’s irrevocable doom.

Israel shall know it — The Hebrew is only, Israel shall know, namely, that I have spoken the truth; that is, in denouncing misery and calamity against them, as the Chaldee supplies the ellipsis. God’s judgments upon the ten tribes shall be so evident, that the most incredulous shall not be able to deny it. Others interpret this clause in connection with the following words, thus: Israel shall know that the prophet was foolish, that the man of the spirit was mad, namely, who encouraged the Israelites to continue in their sins, by promising them peace and prosperity notwithstanding their corrupt manners. Bishop Horsley’s translation of the passage is peculiarly spirited and sublime: The days of visitation are come! The days of retribution are come! Israel shall know it. Stupid is the prophet! The man of the spirit is gone mad! “Stupid,” he remarks, “if he himself discerneth not the signs of the times. Gone mad, if, aware of the impending judgment, he flatters the people with delusive hopes; and by that conduct makes himself an instrument in bringing on that public ruin, in which he himself must be involved.” For the multitude of thine iniquity, and the great hatred — Namely, which thou deservest. Or probably the sense is, as Bishop Horsley’s version gives it, In proportion to the greatness of thine iniquity, great also is the vengeance.


Verse 8-9

Hosea 9:8-9. The watchman of Ephraim was with my God — Or, as some read. it, on the authority of divers MSS., אלהיו, his God, or, as the LXX. read it, with God. “The watchman is here evidently a title by which some faithful prophet is distinguished from the temporizers and seducers. But who in particular is this watchman, thus honourably distinguished, and how is he with his God? I think,” says Bishop Horsley, “the allusion is to Elijah, and his miraculous translation. ‘Elijah, that faithful watchman, that resolute opposer of idolatry in the reign of Ahab and Jezebel, is now with God, receiving the reward of his fidelity in the enjoyment of the beatific vision. But the prevaricating prophets, which now are, are the victims of judicial delusion.’“ They have deeply corrupted themselves, as in the days of Gibeah — They have not only sinned lightly, or trivially, but have sunk into the deepest wickedness, and have become as bad altogether as the men of Gibeah were in former times: see 19:15, &c. Therefore he will remember their iniquity, &c. — God, who hateth such workers of iniquity, will not pardon their crimes, but severely punish them.


Verse 10

Hosea 9:10. I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness — The sense is, as the traveller, passing through the deserts of Arabia, is greatly delighted if he happen to find in his way vines bearing grapes, so was Israel anciently delighted in by God. This relates particularly to their first entering into covenant with God, and their promises of ready obedience: see Exodus 19:8; Exodus 24:3; Deuteronomy 5:27-29. I saw your fathers — Whom I brought out of Egypt; as the first ripe in the fig-tree at her first time — As figs of the first season, and the earliest of that growth, which are the most valued and desired. But they went to Baal-peor — To the temple and worship of the god of the Moabites; and separated themselves unto that shame — That obscenity, so Horsley; that is, they consecrated themselves to that shameful idol; such as its worshippers ought to have been ashamed of, and as finally would cause shame to them. The word וינזרו, they were separated, alludes to the order of the Nazarites, who were in a peculiar sense set apart for God’s service; and, in like manner, these separated, or dedicated, themselves to the service of that filthy idol, Baal-peor, that shame, or shameful thing, as it is expressed Jeremiah 11:13. And their abominations were according as they loved — They set up and worshipped other idols, according to their own fancies. Houbigant reads this clause, Abominations became as their love: and Bishop Horsley, As my love of them, so were their abominations; and he remarks, “the love gratuitous, the abominations without inducement, but from mere depravity; the love the most tender, the abominations enormous.”


Verses 11-13

Hosea 9:11-13. As for Ephraim, or, Ephraim! their glory shall fly away like a bird — What they make their boast of so much shall depart from them. The fruitfulness of their women seems to be the thing here spoken of. From the birth — Their children shall die soon after they are born; from the womb — They shall be untimely births, or abortions; and from the conception — They shall not even be conceived as they were wont to be. Dr. Wheeler renders this clause, They shall not bring forth, nor bear in the womb, nor conceive. Though they bring up, &c. — If some of them happen to bring up their children to a state of youth, or manhood, yet will I bereave them — Yet still shall they be deprived of them, for they shall be slain in war, or carried away captive. Yea, wo also to them when I depart from them — They shall suffer still greater and greater miseries when I wholly withdraw my protection from them, Deuteronomy 31:17; 2 Kings 17:18-23. Ephraim, as I saw Tyrus, is planted in a pleasant place — The situation of Ephraim, and particularly of the royal city, Samaria, is as pleasant as that of Tyre: see Ezekiel 27:3. But Ephraim shall bring forth, &c., to the murderer — Shall be obliged to deliver up his children to his enemies. Instead of Tyre, some interpreters render the word צור, a rock, which it generally signifies, and translate the passage, Ephraim, which, when I looked upon him, was as a rock planted in a pleasant place, shall bring forth, &c. So Houbigant, and to the same sense Newcome and Horsley.


Verse 14

Hosea 9:14. Give them, O Lord: what wilt thou give? — The prophet here speaks as one greatly agitated, and at a loss what to say upon what he had just heard; but at last concludes with beseeching God rather to let the women be barren, or miscarry; or, if they brought forth children, have no milk in their breasts to give them, that they might die soon after their birth, rather than that they should grow up to be slain by their enemies before their parents’ eyes, or carried into captivity; or, as it is expressed in the foregoing verse, that their parents should be driven to the hard necessity of bringing them forth for the murderer. Some interpret the verse thus: Give them a miscarrying womb, &c., “as a punishment for having inhumanly exposed their infants to death, by sacrificing them to their false gods; or, for having exposed them to the cruelty of the Assyrians, who destroyed them in war. The present passage is strikingly emphatical. But it is to be considered rather as a prediction of what was to happen as a punishment of their crimes, than as an imprecation.”


Verses 15-17

Hosea 9:15-17. All their wickedness is in Gilgal — Gilgal is notorious, and has been so of old, for the wickedness of its inhabitants. There I hated them There of old (or therefore) they were an abomination to me. “The first great offence of the Israelites, after their entrance into the Holy Land, was committed while they were encamped in Gilgal; namely, the sacrilegious peculation of Achan, (Joshua 7.,) and to this, it seems, these words allude. There, says God, of old, was my quarrel with them.” It must be observed further here, that “Gilgal was the place where the armies of Israel, upon their entering Canaan, first encamped; where Joshua set up the twelve stones, taken by God’s command out of the midst of Jordan, in memorial of the miraculous passage through the river. There the first passover was kept, and the fruits of the promised land first enjoyed. There the captain of the Lord’s host appeared to Joshua. There the rite of circumcision, which had been omitted during the forty years of the wandering of the people in the wilderness, was renewed. And, in the days of the prophet Samuel, Gilgal appears to have been an approved place of worship and burnt-offering. But, in later times, it appears from Hosea, and his cotemporary, Amos, that it became a place of great resort for idolatrous purposes. And these are the wickednesses in Gilgal, of which the prophet here speaks.” — Horsley. I will drive them out of my house —

That is, I will no longer consider them as my family, my children, and my servants. All their princes are revolters — All their chief men, their rulers and magistrates, have revolted from me and my commands; either by worshipping false gods, or by likening me to images of their own forming, and by worshipping me under the emblems of them. Ephraim is smitten, &c. — Or rather, shall be smitten, namely, with barrenness; for that is the punishment which is here chiefly mentioned. Bishop Horsley renders the clause, Ephraim is blighted; their root is dried up, they shall produce no fruit: or, according to the construction and rendering of the Syriac, Ephraim is smitten at the root, he is dried up; so that he shall bear no fruit; which is also, in substance, the version of the LXX. Yea, though they bring forth — And if any should bring forth; yet will I slay the beloved fruit, &c. — I will soon take away the children, whose birth afforded them great joy and satisfaction, and in whom they placed their delight. My God will cast them away — The prophet here calls Jehovah his God; as much as to say he would no longer be the God of the Israelites in general, and no more own them for his people, but leave them to wander and be dispersed among the other nations. They were afterward called by the name of the διασπορα, or dispersed among the Gentiles.

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Hosea 9:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/hosea-9.html. 1857.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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