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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible
Hosea 2

 

 

Verse 1

1. With this triumph a new era opens, an era of prosperity and felicity. This transformation warrants the change of the names of ill omen into their direct opposites.

Say ye — The members of the nation nearest the prophet are to spread the good news to their fellow countrymen.

Ammi My people.

Ruhamah She is loved, or pitied. As the three names in Hosea 1:4; Hosea 1:6; Hosea 1:9, symbolize the utter rejection of Israel, so the names of Hosea 1:11; Hosea 2:1, symbolize the complete restoration of the people.


Verse 2

The faithlessness of Israel, Hosea 2:2-5.

2. Plead [“Contend”] — The urgency of the appeal is indicated by its repetition. The individual Israelites who are still sensitive to the divine influence are addressed; they are urged to “exert a corrective, reforming influence on the corrupt aggregate” in order to avoid more serious consequences. The nation is called their mother — Out of love to her they should work for her best interests.

She is not my wife, neither am I her husband — The marriage tie is already dissolved through her whoredom; and unless she repents there is no reason why she should not be utterly cast off.

Out of her sight — Literally from her face; as the next clause shows, to be understood literally. The expression of the countenance reveals the character (Jeremiah 3:3).

Adulteries from between her breasts — Interpreted by some as referring to the wearing of amulets between the breasts in honor of the deities with whom the Israelites committed adultery; but of such a custom we have no knowledge. It is better understood as another bold expression of her adulterous character, the shameless uncovering of the breast. Another possible interpretation is to regard the abstract adultery used for the concrete adulterer, a usage not uncommon in Hebrew. The adulterer who lies between the breasts (Song of Solomon 1:13) is to be driven away. 3. If this is not done she must suffer the consequences of her wrongdoing.

Lest I strip her naked — Seems to have been one way of punishing an adulteress (Ezekiel 16:38-39).

As in the day that she was born — At the time of the Exodus; then Israel had nothing. All she acquired subsequently she owed to Jehovah; but if she continues in her disloyalty to him he will withdraw his support, and she will relapse into a state of complete destitution.

Wilderness — In punishment for Israel’s adulteries the land will be robbed of its glory and fertility; the fruitful fields will be turned into a dreary desert. The same thought is expressed in the next clause: as a result of drought the land will become utterly desolate. People and land are not kept apart; both will suffer.

The last clause of Hosea 2:3 should be combined with the first clause of Hosea 2:4.

And slay her with thirst — The final punishment of an adulteress was death (Leviticus 20:10; Deuteronomy 22:22; Ezekiel 16:40). In this case Israel, or rather the land, will perish of thirst, that is, drought.

Her children — The inhabitants of the land must share in the punishment of the mother, because they are children of whoredoms. As said above, the children are the individual Israelites; in their individual capacity they manifest the same tendencies as the nation as a whole. The phrase, therefore, means not simply children born of a mother with unchaste tendencies, but children possessing such tendencies, and indulging in unchaste practices.

The guilt of Israel is described further in Hosea 2:5; the verse thus supplies the ground for the earnest appeal in Hosea 2:2.

Played the harlot — Openly she violated her obligations to Jehovah; such conduct is rightly called shameful. It was also premeditated; deaf to all exhortations, she declared firmly,

I will go after my lovers — Or, paramours. By these are meant not the surrounding nations, but the Baalim (Hosea 2:13), the gods of the native Canaanites. Among the latter no supreme deity seems to have been worshiped; separate districts each had its own deity. The worship of these probably arose in connection with agriculture. “The local Baals fertilized each his own district by his streams and springs, and hence they were the owners — this is the meaning of the term Baal — of these naturally fertile spots.” In time they were regarded also as the spenders of rain; and the Baals were worshiped as the givers of fertility and prosperity. When the Israelites came into the land they, though nominally continuing to worship Jehovah, were to some extent influenced by the natives, so that they came to see in these Baalim the givers of “every good and perfect gift,” and to pay them the homage belonging exclusively to Jehovah. Herein consisted their whoredom which the prophet condemns. The Baal against whom Elijah fought was an entirely different deity. Several products are enumerated as being ascribed to the power of the Baalim. These, the most important, are only samples; everything else was thought to come from them.

Bread — Food.

Water — Because of its scarcity prized very highly by an agricultural people.

Wool and flax — From which clothing was made.

Oil — See on Joel 1:10.

Drink — Literally, drinks. Wine and other drinks made of fruit, such as dates, figs, raisins. Food, clothing, and articles of luxury were all traced to the Baalim. For this disloyalty to Jehovah, Israel must be punished. Jehovah must vindicate himself.


Verses 2-23

APPLICATION OF THE SYMBOLIC ACTS AND NAMES IN Hosea 1, 3 — Hosea 2:2-23

Chapters 1-3 are not arranged in what appears to be the logical order: chapter 3 attaches itself to Hosea 1:9; Hosea 3:1, continues the story of Hosea’s domestic life. He is told to go and “love a woman beloved of her friend, and an adulteress.” Marti thinks, but without good reason, that this act is entirely independent of chapter 1. The symbolism would be destroyed if the woman of Hosea 3:1, were any other than Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim (Hosea 1:3). Lo-ammi (Hosea 1:9) suggests the step in the domestic drama which is left unrecorded. The woman had fled from her home to give herself more freely to her shameful practices; Hosea 3:2 seems to imply that she had become the slave concubine of another. Hosea, impelled by love and adivine impulse, buys her back, though for a while he does not restore her to the full privileges of wifehood (Hosea 3:3).

This entire history is presupposed in Hosea 2:2-23; Hosea 3:4-5, which sections contain the application of the prophet’s own experience to the history of Israel. The historical persons in Hosea 1:2-9, and Hosea 3:1-3. the prophet, his wife, his children, here become allegorical figures. Israel is the adulterous wife, Jehovah the deceived but still loving husband; the individual Israelites are the children. Some of the latter have remained free from the sins of their mother. To these Jehovah addresses himself, that they should attempt the restoration of the faithless wife and mother, Israel, to the wronged but yearning husband, Jehovah. The utterance opens with a description of Israel’s whoredom (Hosea 2:5), which is followed by an announcement of the evil consequences of the faithlessness (Hosea 2:6-13); it closes with a delineation of the efforts to be put forth by Jehovah to win back the faithless wife, and of the glories awaiting her when she comes to her senses (Hosea 2:14-23).


Verse 6-7

The evil consequences and punishment of Israel’s faithlessness, Hosea 2:6-13.

6, 7. I will hedge up — Israel will be like a wanderer whose progress is suddenly hindered by a thorn hedge.

Thy way — The change to the second person might perhaps be explained as due to the intense emotion of the prophet; LXX. and Peshitto read the third person.

A wall — Better, with R.V., “a wall against her”; is to accomplish the same thing as the hedge (Job 3:23; Job 19:8; Lamentations 3:7-9). Thus obstructed she cannot find her way to her paramours. How Jehovah will wall up the way is stated in 9ff. When Jehovah strikes the blow the Baalim will be helpless.

Follow… seek — In both cases the intensive form of the verb: follow earnestly, seek diligently. She will leave no means untried to reach her paramours, that they may help her out of the distress and renew her prosperity.

Not overtake… find — Her efforts will not produce the desired results.

Then — When she becomes conscious of the hopelessness of the situation. She will be brought to her senses (Luke 15:17), and will decide to return to her first husband — The God worshiped by the fathers.

Then — Before Israel began the worship of the Baalim.

Now — Not at the time of the prophet’s speaking, but in the future when Israel sees the awfulness of the calamity, when the distress described in Hosea 2:9 ff. becomes a reality. With this conception, that calamity and disloyalty to Jehovah are closely connected, compare 2 Kings 17:7 ff. The decision to return can hardly be regarded as expressive of repentance (Jeremiah 3:21 ff.); all that is implied is anxiety to escape the distress.

Hosea 2:5 describes the sin and its cause; Hosea 2:6-7 announce the judgment in figurative language; Hosea 2:9-13 expound the figurative announcement. The exposition is preceded by a restatement of the facts that make necessary the judgment. This arrangement of the thought is not unnatural; and there seems insufficient reason for rejecting Hosea 2:6-7 as a later interpolation, or for placing these verses after Hosea 2:13, so as to bring together Hosea 2:5; Hosea 2:8, though the latter would make a good continuation of the former. There is no good reason even for rejecting Hosea 2:7 b, to which Marti takes exception as interrupting the connection and emphasizing repentance and conversion concerning which 8ff. are silent. If the arrangement is interpreted as just suggested the connection is not broken, and, properly interpreted, nothing is said about repentance or conversion.


Verse 8

8. For — Hebrew, “and.”

She — The use of the Hebrew pronoun before the verb places special emphasis upon the same: “she, though my wife and enjoying countless blessings.”

Did not know — To know is often used in the sense of acknowledge; it may be so here; in life and worship they failed to acknowledge; but the prophet may think of the absence of intellectual apprehension that Jehovah was the source of all blessing.

Corn — (or grain),[“new”] wine,… oil — The chief products of Canaan (Deuteronomy 7:13; Deuteronomy 11:14; see on Joel 1:10).

Silver and gold, which they prepared [“used”] for Baal — The possession of silver and gold imported from afar was, in a sense, also due to the divine favor (compare Isaiah 2:7); the Israelites, failing to recognize the true source, used them — that the relative clause belongs to both nouns seems evident — for Baal: that is, in his honor; either they made more beautiful and splendid his worship or, as the margin R.V. reads, “they made the silver and gold into the Baal,” that is, images of Baal. In view of Hosea 8:4, the latter may be preferable (Isaiah 44:17). Several commentators reject the relative clause entirely because (1) the plural they used is peculiar. Who is the subject? Throughout this section Israel is referred to as she; (2) the singular Baal. Hosea seems to condemn throughout the worship of the Canaanitish Baalim (Hosea 2:5) and not that of the one Baal, the god of Tyre; (3) the emphasis is on the giving by Jehovah, not on the use of the blessings for any specific purpose. Marti would go further and omit also “gold,” because of the peculiar order of the words in Hebrew, where silver and gold are not connected. Objection (3) is of no weight. The other peculiarities cannot be overlooked, though opinions may differ as to whether they are sufficiently serious to warrant the rejection of the words.

Hosea 2:9 ff., parallel with 6, 7, announce the judgment.

Therefore will I return, and take away — Equivalent to take away again; R.V., “take back.”

Corn… wine… wool… flax — See Hosea 2:5; Hosea 2:8. In Hosea 2:5 Israel had called these things my bread, etc. Here Jehovah suggests that in reality they are his.

Time… season thereof — That is, at harvest time, when under ordinary conditions men may safely expect them.

Given to cover [“which should have covered”] her nakedness — A reminder that without God’s mercy, in her natural condition, “Israel was utterly helpless and destitute.”


Verse 10

THE BUILDING OF THE TEMPLE WILL ASSURE NEW BLESSINGS FROM GOD, Hosea 2:10-19.

This also is a message of encouragement and promise, which reaches its culmination in the last sentence, “From this day will I bless you.” Again nothing is said concerning the occasion of the prophecy, but its contents enable us to determine it. The words were apparently called forth by new questionings of the people. It would seem that they came to resent the severe accusations made in the first address. Were they not bringing offerings to Jehovah? As a result they came to question the truth of the statements that the calamities which they suffered were the consequence of their neglectfulness, and that the rebuilding of the temple would assure them the restoration of the divine favor. To silence the questionings the prophet propounds to the priests two questions concerning the power of infection possessed by clean and unclean things. The priests reply that the unclean is more contagious than the clean (11-13). This reply the prophet applies to the case in hand. True, the people were offering sacrifices, but, says he, they are insufficient to overcome the unclean in their life and conduct; on the contrary, the unclean conduct makes even their offerings an abomination in the sight of Jehovah (14). He discusses once more the relation of the calamities to their neglectfulness and asserts that they are a direct result of the latter. The address closes with a promise that from now on the divine favor will again rest upon them (15-19).

Hosea 2:10 is similar to Haggai 1:1; Haggai 2:1.

Four and twentieth day of the ninth month — Just three months after the building operations commenced (see on Hosea 2:18). The ninth month is called Chisleu (Zechariah 7:1) and covers the latter part of November and first part of December.


Verse 11-12

11. An inevitable result of the calamity will be the cessation of mirth — As the context shows, the merrymaking in connection with religious celebrations.

Feast days [“feasts”] — The same word as the Arabic haj, by which the pilgrimage to Mecca is known. Probably not feasts in general, but the three great feasts — of Unleavened Bread, of Harvest, of Ingathering — which were accompanied by pilgrimages (Exodus 23:14-17); these were occasions of rejoicing (Isaiah 30:29).

New moons — The new moon, the first of the month, was from the earliest time a sacred day among the Hebrews and their neighbors (1 Samuel 20:5; 2 Kings 4:23). Its celebration goes back probably to a period when the moon was worshiped as a divine being. (See article “New Moon” in Hastings’s Dictionary of the Bible.)

Sabbaths — Another day considered sacred from the earliest period; its observance is enjoined in the Decalogue, but it is not confined to the Hebrews. (See American Journal of Theology, 1898, pp. 312-352.) According to Amos 8:5, on the two sacred days mentioned last the people abstained from common labor. Solemn feasts [“assemblies”] — Better, festal gatherings; a general term for festive seasons, including here all the feasts not mentioned previously (compare Amos 8:10; Jeremiah 7:34; Lamentations 1:4; Lamentations 5:15).

Hosea 2:12 is the natural continuation of 9. Nowack, who considers Hosea 2:10 a later addition, thinks the original order to have been 9, 12, 11, 13.

Vines… fig trees — Two of the choicest products of Palestine; their destruction would be a serious calamity (see on Joel 1:7). Since they grew extensively and luxuriously, they were regarded as indicating in a special manner the favor of the Baalim.

Rewards [“hire”] — The compensation offered to the prostitute. How Jehovah will destroy is not stated, it may be by war or by drought. The gardens and orchards will be neglected and turn into forests — Better, jungles, the abode of wild beasts.

Beasts of the field — Wild, undomesticated beasts (compare Isaiah 7:23-25). On the rapidity with which in the neglected fields wild animals multiply, see 2 Kings 17:25.


Verse 13

13. The conclusion of this section of the prophecy. All the judgments threatened are the result of Israel’s faithlessness.

I will visit — As frequently in the Old Testament, equivalent to punish. Days of [“the”] Baalim — Not special religious feast days celebrated in honor of the Baalim, but the feast days enumerated in Hosea 2:11. Nominally the Israelites continued to worship Jehovah; in reality he had been displaced from his pre-eminence and placed on a level with the Canaanitish deities. A worship permeated with Canaanitish elements could not be acceptable to Jehovah; therefore the feast days were not sacred to Jehovah, but to the Baalim, and might properly be called days of the Baalim.

Wherein [“unto which”] she burned incense — A.V. is to be preferred; the days on which she burned incense to them. The verb is used in the later period in the narrower sense of burn incense; here, as in Hosea 4:13; Hosea 11:2; Amos 4:5, it means offer sacrifice in general.

Earrings — Or, nose ring; since the noun is in the singular, preferably the latter.

Jewels — The reference is not to special decorations to attract the paramours, but to the common custom of attiring one’s self in the best garments and decorating one’s self with all kinds of ornaments on holy days. Compare the expression in the Koran, “In the day of ornament,” that is, the festival, and the Arabic saying, “When the feast with its noise is past everyone puts on his own rags again.”

She… forgat me — The Baalim alone were in her mind (Hosea 2:8). Had the Israelites thought of Jehovah at all they would have seen the absurdity of attempting to harmonize the worship of Jehovah with that of the Baalim.


Verses 14-17

14-17. Israel will be restored to the intimate fellowship with Jehovah enjoyed in the beginning.

Therefore — In view of the general situation, as described in Hosea 2:2-13. It requires divine interference. Therefore might, however, be connected only with the last clause of Hosea 2:13. Because Israel has forgotten me, therefore I — that the emphasis is on Jehovah’s efforts is indicated by the use of the separate pronoun with the verb form — must reveal myself to her and thus win her back.

Behold, I will — According to G.-K., 116p, the construction points to the immediate future as the time of fulfillment; equivalent to I am about to do.

Allure — G.A. Smith, “woo her.” The verb is used here in a good sense. Whatever Jehovah does is done for the purpose of winning back the faithless wife. The prophet says nothing about the means of persuasion; evidently he has in mind the judgment which will accomplish that which pleasanter means have failed to do.

Bring her into the wilderness — The figure is that of Israel’s early wanderings in the desert (compare also Hosea 2:15). But the question arises, whether the prophet has in mind an actual deportation into the wilderness, that is, an exile (Ezekiel 20:35), or whether the removal into the desert is only a picture of the complete desolation of the land, such as is described in Hosea 2:6 ff.

Hosea 2:21-23 and Hosea 3:4, have sometimes been thought to favor the first interpretation; the former passage is ambiguous, the latter is more readily interpreted as implying an exile, but even its meaning is not beyond question. At any rate, Hosea 3:4, does not necessarily determine the interpretation of this verse; Hosea 2:6-13 certainly favor the second view.

Speak comfortably unto her — Literally, speak unto her heart. “To every Israelite some of these terms must have brought back the days of his own wooing. I will speak home to her heart is a forcible expression like the German ‘an das Herz,’ or the sweet Scottish ‘it com’ up roond my heart,’ and was used in Israel as from man to woman when he won her” (compare Isaiah 40:1). With Israel reduced to its ancient poverty, and through such reduction persuaded to listen to the divine voice, a new beginning is to be made, while Jehovah’s blessings will fall in abundance.


Verses 14-23

The disciplinary effects of the judgment and the future exaltation of Israel, vv.14-23.

In this section appears a very marked change in the tone of the prophet. From threats he passes abruptly to promises. To some commentators (Nowack, Marti, Harper) this abruptness seems a sufficient reason for denying these verses to Hosea. But the sufficiency of this reason is not beyond question. Judgment, according to the teaching of the prophets, has always a disciplinary purpose. In Hosea 2:6; Hosea 2:9 ff., Hosea has announced the judgment necessary to bring the people to their senses; but Jehovah still loves his faithless spouse. When he has succeeded in making her again sensitive to his influences he will once more pour upon her expressions of his love, just as the prophet did upon his wife (Hosea 3:1-3). If we have regard for the line of thought presented in chapters 1-3 (see general remarks on Hosea 2:2-23), and if we take Hosea 2:14-23, as the continuation of Hosea 2:6-13, rather than as parallel to the same, these verses find a natural interpretation. That the emphasis should be first upon the terrors of the judgment is natural in view of the sins of the people; that the prophet should point to future glory is in perfect accord with what seems to be the ordinary line of prophetic reasoning; and, far from breaking the force of the prophetic warnings, the promises would supply a very strong incentive to become worthy of the promised blessings. Moreover, an unbiased interpretation can see no contradiction between Hosea 2:14-23, and chapters 4ff., where the prophet emphasizes repentance as an essential condition of the divine favor. It goes almost without saying that the fulfillment of all Old Testament promises was dependent upon the proper attitude toward Jehovah. The verses before us touch upon one side only, namely, the part played by Jehovah. Surely it is not necessary to emphasize the condition every time a promise is made. Nor is there, as is sometimes asserted, any difference between the thought of these verses and that of chapter 3. Again, similarities with Ezekiel are not striking enough to prove the dependence of these verses upon any utterance of this exilic prophet.

The modern tendency, to regard practically all Messianic prophecies as the products of the exilic or postexilic period, is without adequate foundation. It is almost inconceivable that the pre-exilic prophets, with their lofty conception of the character of Jehovah, should have no message but that of doom. Their very conception of the righteousness of Jehovah made it impossible for them to believe that judgment could be his last word. There must be something beyond for those who remained faithful. The promises of the prophets as found in their books, including the passage before us, are no more than one should expect from men with their lofty religious conceptions. The possibility of interpolations may, indeed, not be denied, but these must be determined on other grounds than their Messianic character. Until more convincing evidence to the contrary is offered we may safely interpret these verses as coming from Hosea, and as the natural continuation of Hosea 2:6-13.


Verse 15

15. From thence — As soon as Jehovah has succeeded in speaking to her heart, as soon as she has come to her senses and is ready to appreciate the intimate relation formerly enjoyed, she will be led forth from the wilderness, and immediately upon leaving — from thence — the vineyards, which had been taken away (Hosea 2:12), will be restored.

Valley of Achor — The place where Achan was stoned (Joshua 7:26), meaning “valley of troubling.” A very disheartening experience in the early days of the conquest. This is to become a door of hope — The first Israelites entered upon the conquest of the promised land with a disheartening experience. Not so the restored community; the first experiences will be bright, an earnest of the good things to come.

Sing — R.V., “make answer.” If the translation of A.V. is correct, the allusion is probably to the song of triumph in Exodus 15. That was sung in her youth — The time of the Exodus (Exodus 11:1). The new Exodus will again fill her heart with singing. The verb is literally “answer,” and might be used of the antiphonal singing (compare Exodus 15:21). In this connection antiphonal singing seems to be out of place; yet R.V. is to be preferred. Israel, seeing the renewed mercies of Jehovah, will respond to the divine love as formerly. This interpretation gives an acceptable sense (compare Hosea 2:21-22), but leaves a grammatical peculiarity. To remove this Buhl suggests changing one letter of the verb, so that it will read, “and she shall go up thither” — to the door of hope — as she did at the time of the Exodus.

As a result of this re-established union Israel’s tendency to turn to the Baalim will be eradicated. This is the thought of Hosea 2:16-17. It would remain the thought of 17 even if 16 should be an interpolation. The chief objection to Hosea 2:16 Wellhausen expresses as follows: “Was Jehovah addressed at any time by Israel as Baali — my Master? Does Hosea really hope that instead he will now be addressed as Ishi — my husband?”

Baali — Originally a common noun, meaning master, lord, and even husband; as such it might legitimately be applied to Jehovah. The present religious condition in Israel showed how difficult it was to maintain the proper distinction between Jehovah and the Baalim of the land. This confusion was increased by the application of the ambiguous Baal to Jehovah. As Von Orelli says, “In every age ambiguous language has helped to distort religion.” In the regenerated future all religious danger must be removed, including the application of the name Baal, obnoxious to Jehovah only because of its association with foreign cults. This feeling is also responsible for the change of proper names such as Ish-baal (1 Chronicles 8:33; 1 Chronicles 9:39) into Ishbosheth (2 Samuel 2:8; 2 Samuel 3:7).

Ishi My husband, with practically the same meaning as Baali; it is to be substituted because it is without unpleasant associations. That the Baalim are to be forgotten is taught in Hosea 2:17; Hosea 2:16 is an attempt to express the same truth in a vivid and forceful manner, and a literal interpretation need not be pressed. The objection of Wellhausen, indorsed by Marti, is therefore not convincing. The latter weakens the text by emending it so as to read, “And it shall be at that day, saith Jehovah, that she shall call to her husband (that is, Jehovah) and she shall not call to her Baalim.”

At that day — When the old-time relation becomes re-established. The change in person, from third to second and back to third, due to emotion and excitement, is not uncommon in prophetic discourse (G.-K., 144p). Names of [“the”]

Baalim — The proper names of the various Baalim are not known; they were distinguished from one another by the addition of the name of their special locality (Hosea 9:10).

Remembered — Better, with R.V., “mentioned” (Exodus 23:13; Zechariah 13:2).


Verses 18-23

18-23. Picture of the ideal future to be realized by the restored wife. Hosea 2:18 speaks of permanent peace, undisturbed by man and beast.

Covenant — Requires two parties, who take upon themselves mutual obligations; here the emphasis is upon the obligation laid by Jehovah upon the beasts to abstain from injuring men.

Beasts of the field — These do damage to field and crop, and even to men (Hosea 2:12).

For them — For their good. Fowls [“birds”] — Must refer chiefly to birds of prey.

Creeping things — Again especially those hostile to man and his possessions. The conditions enjoyed in the Garden of Eden will be restored. A similar hope is expressed in Isaiah 11:6-9. Both passages are to be interpreted as poetic presentations of the truth that the regeneration of human society is to be accompanied by a restoration of the harmony of creation (Romans 8:19-22). That this will be fulfilled in a broad sense is certainly to be expected. To what extent a literal fulfillment will take place, or whether the prophet expected a literal fulfillment in every detail, is uncertain. A somewhat different expectation is expressed in Ezekiel 34:25. Why the reference to birds and creeping things should be considered a later insertion is not clear.

Bow… sword — The war implements of Israel’s enemies will be broken; the result will be a cessation of troublesome wars.

Out of the earth — Better, R.V., “land,” that is, of Israel.

Safely — Nothing will mar the God-given peace.

Hosea 2:19-20 describe the complete restoration of Israel to its former relationship with Jehovah; the new union will be more permanent and spiritual. The picture is that of a pure, inviolable betrothal covenant of love. The initiative throughout is taken by Jehovah.

Betroth thee — Repeated three times for emphasis. The former union was completely dissolved by the wife’s adulteries. A second marriage had to be preceded by a new betrothal.

For ever — Implies a transformation in the bride, who had broken the former covenant; she will do so no more (Isaiah 54:8-10; Ezekiel 16:60). The attributes enumerated form a bond of union between Israel and Jehovah. That these attach only to Jehovah’s part in the transaction is not true; they are rather the “future adornment of the bride through which such a complete and lasting union is brought about.” Certainly the manifestation of the same virtues on the part of Jehovah is implied, since in man they are only a reflection of the character of God. It was the lack of these very virtues that brought about the break (Hosea 4:1 ff; Hosea 5:11; Hosea 6:4-5, etc.).

Righteousness — Subjective righteousness; the right state of mind and heart. Judgment [“justice”] — Frequently connected with the preceding; it marks the objective side of the same; conduct in accord with a right attitude of mind and heart.

Loving-kindness — A favorite word with Hosea; is used to express (1) the loving attitude of Jehovah to his people; (2) the loving attitude of the people toward Jehovah; and (3) man’s loving attitude toward his fellows as a reflection of the divine love. The third idea seems most prominent here (Hosea 4:1; Hosea 6:4; Hosea 6:6; Hosea 10:12; Hosea 12:6; compare Micah 6:8). G.A. Smith renders “leal love,” because the Hebrew words “means always not merely an affection, but a relation loyally observed.”

Mercies — Compassion for the helpless and undeserving.

Faithfulness — The same word is translated in Habakkuk 2:4,”faith” (see comment there).

Thou shalt know Jehovah — In general it may be said that Hosea and the other prophets taught that the real secret of the nation’s sin was an absence of the true knowledge of Jehovah. On the other hand, a moral transformation presupposes a knowledge of Jehovah, not purely intellectual, but based on a living experience. This latter will be the possession of Israel. (Compare Methodist Review, July-August, 1904, pp. 579ff.)


Verse 21-22

21, 22. Another feature of the future blessedness will be the extreme fertility of the soil (Amos 9:13; Joel 3:18). The promise in these verses presents a contrast to Hosea 2:9; Hosea 2:12, and a continuation of 18a. When the judgment has done its work, Jehovah will restore prosperity in a more abundant measure. The thought is expressed very beautifully under the picture of perfect harmony between the physical and spiritual spheres. Jehovah will no longer restrain the powers of nature from doing their work for the blessing of Israel. “Israel asks its plants to germinate; they call upon the earth for its juices; the earth beseeches heaven for rain; heaven supplicates for the divine word which opens its stores, and Jehovah responds in faithful love.”

Hear — Better, R.V., “answer,” or “respond,” as the call comes. The curse threatened in 9ff. is removed.

Jezreel — Used in Hosea 1:4, for its historical associations; here on account of its meaning, God sows. Why the name is applied to Israel is shown in Hosea 2:23 : I will sow —Establish permanently.

In the earth — As in Hosea 2:18, better, “land.”

Unto me — Not unto the Baalim. Thus the first name symbolic of doom (Hosea 1:4) is transformed into one of promise. The same will take place with the others. Lo-ruhamah (Hosea 1:6) will again experience the divine favor and mercy; and Lo-ammi (Hosea 1:9) will again become the people of God. This transformation in fortune is not wrought arbitrarily; it is based upon the inner transformation described in Hosea 2:19-20.

Thou art my God — Forever they are cured from running after the Baalim; Jehovah alone they will recognize as their God.

 


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Hosea 2:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/hosea-2.html. 1874-1909.

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