corner graphic

Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Hosea 11



Verse 1

When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt. When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt. Bengel translates, 'From the time that he (Israel) was in Egypt, I called him my son,' which the parallelism ("When Israel was a child, then I loved him") proves. So Hosea 12:9 ("I, that am the Lord thy God from the land of Egypt" i:e., from the time that thou wast in Egypt), and Hosea 13:4, use "from ... Egypt," for "from the time that thou didst sojourn in Egypt." Exodus 4:22 ("Thus saith the Lord, Israel is my son, even my first-born") also shows that Israel was called by God "My son," from the time of his Egyptian sojourn, (Isaiah 43:1, "Thus saith the Lord that created thee ... O Israel ... I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine;" Jeremiah 31:20, "Is Ephraim my dear son? is he a pleasant child?") God is always said to have led or brought forth, not to have "called," Israel from Egypt. Matthew 2:15, therefore, in quoting this prophecy, typically and primarily referring to Israel, antitypically and fully to Messiah, applies it to Jesus' sojourn IN Egypt, not His return from it. Even from his infancy, partly spent in Egypt, God called Him His son. God included Messiah, and Israel for Messiah's sake, in one common love, and therefore in one common prophecy. Messiah's people and Himself are one, as the Head and the body. Isaiah 49:3 calls Him "Israel." The same general reason, danger of extinction, caused the infant Jesus, and Israel in its national infancy (cf. Genesis 42:1-38; Genesis 43:1-34; Genesis 45:18; Genesis 46:3-4; Ezekiel 16:4-6), to sojourn in Egypt. Jacob's son Joseph provided the patriarch and his family with food in Egypt, amidst the general famine, that they should "live and not die." So He and His spiritual Israel are already called 'God's sons,' while yet in the Egypt of the world.

Verse 2

As they called them, so they went from them: they sacrificed unto Baalim, and burned incense to graven images.

As they called them - "they", namely, monitors sent by me. "Called," in Hosea 11:1, suggests the idea of the many subsequent calls by the prophets, besides the earlier one by God, through Moses, and originally in the person of Abraham.

Went from them - the Israelites turned away in contempt (Jeremiah 2:27) the monitors sent by me. "They have turned their back unto me, and not their face."

They sacrificed unto Baalim - images of Baal, set up in various places.

Verse 3

I taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by their arms; but they knew not that I healed them.

I taught Ephraim also to go - literally, to use his feet: 'I set Ephraim on his feet.' Compare a similar image, Deuteronomy 1:31; Deuteronomy 8:2; Deuteronomy 8:5; Deuteronomy 8:15; Deuteronomy 32:10-11; Nehemiah 9:21; Isaiah 63:9; Amos 2:10. God bore them as a parent does an infant unable to supply itself, so that it has no anxiety about food, raiment, and its going forth. So Acts 13:18, margin [etrofoforeesen], 'He bore fed them, as a nurse beareth or feedeth her child.' So the Septuagint, Deuteronomy 1:31. Which passage of Acts probably refers to this passage of Hosea.

Taking them by their arms - or else, 'taking them in his arms'. Compare Isaiah 63:9, as above; and especially Numbers 11:12, "Carry them in thy bosom, as a nursing father beareth the sucking child." He took them by the arms, to guide them, that they might not stray, and to hold them up, that they might not stumble.

But they knew not that I healed them - i:e., that my design was to restore them spiritually and temporally (Exodus 15:26).

Verse 4

I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love: and I was to them as they that take off the yoke on their jaws, and I laid meat unto them.

I drew them with cords of a man - parallel to "bands of love;" not such cords as oxen are led by, but humane methods, such as men employ when inducing others, as, for instance, a father drawing his child by leading-strings, teaching him to go (Hosea 11:1)

I was to them as they that take off the yoke on their jaws, and I laid meat unto them - as the humane farmer occasionally loosens the straps under the jaws, by which the yoke is bound on the neck of oxen, and lays food before them to eat. An appropriate image of God's deliverance of Israel from the Egyptian yoke, and of His feeding them in the wilderness. This view seems better than Pusey's 'I was to them (in their sight, I was regarded by them) as they that lift up the yoke on their jaws - i:e., that raise the yoke (not being already upon them) to place it over their jaws. And I (God adds) was (all the while) placing meat before them.' While God was taking all manner of care of them, and providing for them all things richly to enjoy, He was regarded by them as One who, instead of laying food before them, was lifting the yoke over their jaws.

Verse 5

He shall not return into the land of Egypt, but the Assyrian shall be his king, because they refused to return.

He shall not return into ... Egypt - namely, to seek help against Assyria (cf. Hosea 7:11), as Israel lately had done (2 Kings 17:4), seeking the help of King So, after having revolted from the Assyrian, to whom they had been tributary from the times of Menahem (2 Kings 15:19). He shall be no longer able to go to Egypt, for he shall be a captive in Assyria. In a figurative sense, "he shall return to Egypt" (Hosea 9:3) - i:e., to Egypt-like bondage; also many Jewish fugitives were literally to return to Egypt when the Holy Land was to be in Assyrian and Chaldean hands. "He shall not return into ... Egypt" shows this prophecy was uttered after the league made with Egypt (2 hands. "He shall not return into ... Egypt" shows this prophecy was uttered after the league made with Egypt (2 Kings 17:4).

But the Assyrian shall be his king - instead of having kings of their own, and Egypt as their auxiliary.

Because they refused to return - just retribution. They would not return (spiritually) to God, therefore they shall not return (corporally) to Egypt, the object of their desire.

Verse 6

And the sword shall abide on his cities, and shall consume his branches, and devour them, because of their own counsels.

And the sword shall abide on his cities - (cf. "The sword shall never depart from thy house," 2 Samuel 12:10) or, 'fall upon' (Calvin); [chaalaah, from chuwl (Hebrew #2342)] 'whirl down upon' (Pusey): as in Jeremiah 23:19.

And shall consume his branches - i:e., his villages, which are the branches or dependencies of the cities (Calvin). Grotius translates [ badaayw (Hebrew #905)], 'his bars' (so Lamentations 2:9) - i:e., the warriors, who were the bulwarks of the state. Compare Hosea 4:18, "rulers," margin, 'shields' (Psalms 47:9).

Because of their own counsels - in worshipping idols and relying on Egypt (cf. Hosea 10:6).

Verse 7

And my people are bent to backsliding from me: though they called them to the most High, none at all would exalt him.

And my people are bent to backsliding - not only do they backslide, and that too from ME, their 'chief good,' but they are bent upon it [from taalaa' (Hebrew #8511), to hang], literally, 'are hung to it.'

Though they called them to the Most High, none at all would exalt him - though they (the prophets) called them (the Israelites) to the Most High (from their idols), "none would exalt (i:e., extol or honour) him." To exalt God, they must cease to be 'bent on backsliding,' and must lift themselves upwards, instead of bending and grovelling downward.

Verse 8

How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? how shall I deliver thee, Israel? how shall I make thee as Admah? how shall I set thee as Zeboim? mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together.

How shall I make thee as Admah? how shall I set thee as Zeboim? - among the cities, including Sodom and Gomorrah, irretrievably overthrown (Deuteronomy 29:23).

Mine heart is turned within me - with the deepest compassion, so as not to execute my threat (Lamentations 1:20 : cf. Genesis 43:30). So the phrase is used of a new turn given to the feeling (Psalms 105:25, "He turned their heart to hate his people"). The Hebrew is 'Mine heart is turned upon [ `aalay (Hebrew #5921)] me'-namely, as a burden lying heavy upon me, in thinking of the punishment that thou deservest.

My repentings - or 'strong compassions.' The Hebrew is an intensive [ nichuwmaay (Hebrew #5150)]. God speaks according to human modes of thought. Numbers 23:19, "God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent" (change His mind and character). God's seeming change is in accordance with His secret everlasting purpose of love to His people, to magnify His grace after their desperate rebellion.

Are kindled together - (cf. 1 Kings 3:26, "The woman whose the living child was ... her bowels yearned upon her son" (Hebrew, were hot); also Luke 24:32).

Verse 9

I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim: for I am God, and not man; the Holy One in the midst of thee: and I will not enter into the city.

I will not return to destroy Ephraim - i:e., I will no more, as in past times, destroy Ephraim. The destruction primarily meant is probably that by Tiglath-pileser, who, as the Jewish king Ahaz's ally against Pekah of Israel and Rezin of Syria, deprived Israel of Gilead, Galilee, and Naphtali (2 Kings 15:29). The ulterior reference is to the long dispersion hereafter, to be ended by God's covenant-mercy restoring His people, thenceforth to be 'destroyed no more,' not for their merits, but of His grace.

For I am God, and not man - not dealing as man would, with implacable wrath under awful provocation (Isaiah 55:7-9 : Malachi 3:6 , "I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed"). I do not, like man, change when once I have made a covenant of everlasting love, as with Israel (Numbers 23:19). We measure God by the human standard, and hence, are slow to credit fully His promises: these, however, belong to the faithful remnant, not to the obstinately impenitent.

The Holy One in the midst of thee - as peculiarly thy God (Exodus 19:5-6).

And I will not enter into the city - as an enemy: as I entered Admah, Zeboim, and Sodom, utterly destroying them; whereas I will not utterly destroy thee. Somewhat similarly Jerome: 'I am not one such as human dwellers in a city, who take cruel vengeance; I save those whom I correct.' Thus "not man," and "in the midst of thee," are parallel to "into the city." Though I am in the midst of thee, it is not as man entering a rebellious city to destroy utterly. Maurer needlessly translates [ b

Verse 10

They shall walk after the LORD: he shall roar like a lion: when he shall roar, then the children shall tremble from the west.

He shall roar like a lion - by awful judgments on their foes (Isaiah 31:4; Jeremiah 25:26-30; Joel 3:16), calling His dispersed "children from the various lands of their dispersion.

When he shall roar, then the children shall tremble - shall flock in eager agitation of haste.

From the west - (Zechariah 8:7, "I will save my people from the east country, and from the west country"). literally, from the sea. Probably the Mediterranean, including its "isles of the sea" and maritime coast. Thus as Hosea 11:11 specifies regions of Africa and Asia-namely, "Egypt" and "Assyria," so here Europe is intended (Isaiah 11:11-16 is parallel, referring to the very same regions, "In that day the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people ... from Assyria, and from Egypt ... and from the islands of the sea." On "children," see Hosea 1:10, "The number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be ... numbered").

Verse 11

They shall tremble as a bird out of Egypt, and as a dove out of the land of Assyria: and I will place them in their houses, saith the LORD.

They shall tremble as a bird out of Egypt - "tremble," flutter in haste.

And as a dove - no longer a "silly dove" (Hosea 7:11), but as "doves flying to their windows" (Isaiah 60:8).

And I will place them in their houses - (Ezekiel 28:26, "And they shall dwell safely therein (in their own land), and shall build houses"), literally, upon their houses, for the Orientals live almost as much upon their flat-roofed houses as in them.

Verse 12

Ephraim compasseth me about with lies, and the house of Israel with deceit: but Judah yet ruleth with God, and is faithful with the saints.

Ephraim compasseth me about with lies ... but Judah ... is faithful with the saints. Maurer joins this verse with Hosea 12:1-14. But as this verse praises Judah, whereas Hosea 12:2 censures him, it must belong rather to Hosea 11:1-12, and a new prophecy begins at Hosea 12:1-14. To avoid this, Maurer translates this verse as a censure, 'Judah wanders with God' - i:e., though having the true God, he wanders after false gods.

But Judah yet ruleth with God. To serve God is to reign. Ephraim wished to rule without God (cf. 1 Corinthians 4:8); nay, even, in order to rule, cast off God's worship (Rivetus). In Judah was the legitimate succession of kings and priests.

And is faithful with the saints - the holy priests and Levites (Rivetus). With the fathers and prophets who handed down the pure worship of God. Israel's apostasy is the more culpable as he had before him the good example of Judah, which he set at naught. The parallelism ("with GOD") favours margin, 'and is faithful with THE MOST HOLY ONE.' The same plural is used of God elsewhere (Joshua 24:19; Proverbs 30:3). [ Q


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Hosea 11:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.

Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology