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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Hosea 3

 

 

Verse 1

Hosea 3:1 Then said the LORD unto me, Go yet, love a woman beloved of [her] friend, yet an adulteress, according to the love of the LORD toward the children of Israel, who look to other gods, and love flagons of wine.

Ver. 1. Then said the Lord unto me, Go yet, &c.] This yet is emphatic: and it is as if he had said, Go over the same subject again in shorter discourse, and lay before them the same truths, but in more lively colours, that the obstinate may be left without excuse, and the penitent may not be left without comfort. Iterun abi, Go to them once more, and be instant with them, or stand over them, as St Paul saith, 2 Timothy 4:2 ( επιστηθι), and as St Paul doth, in crying down the Jews’ conceit of being justified by the works of the law, and in disgracing the sin of fornication so common at Corinth. Chrysostom at Antioch having preached sundry sermons agaist swearing, was at length asked when he would preach upon another subject? He answered, when you leave swearing I will leave preaching against swearing. Austin (De Doct. Christian.) would have a preacher so long to pursue and press the same point, until, by the gesture and countenance of the hearers, he perceive that they understand it, and will practise it. This is to whet the word of God upon people (as Moses’ phrase is) by going oft over the same thing, as the knife doth the whetstone. {Deuteronomy 6:7, Shanan et Shanah repetere sicut in acuendo} A like type to the former is here first propounded, secondly expounded, that at length it might fasten. A preacher must not desist, though at first he prevail not (as some from this second injunction collect, that this prophet would have done), but he must turn himself into all manner of shapes and fashions both of speech and of spirit to win people to God, with all longsuffering and doctrine, 2 Timothy 4:2. And this the Lord here teacheth Hosea to do by his own example of patience and tolerance, notably set forth in this ensuing type.

Love a woman beloved of her friend, yet an adulteress] This was a harder task than to take her, Hosea 1:2, in hope she would prove honest. But now that she hath played the adulteress and so deserved to be discarded, yet to love her, yea, and that when she is habituated and hardened in her lewd practices (as the Hebrew word signifieth), Durus est sic sermo, who can bear it? ( Non tam actum quam habitum significat. Rivet.) If none else can, yet God both can and will, as appeareth by this whole parable, wherein the prophet is commanded to represent God, as in the former type, Hosea 1:4-5; Hosea 1:9-11, and by loving that wife which he had taken before, though she had played false with him, to show what was the love of God toward Israel. She forsaketh me, saith he, who give her all the good she either hath or hopeth for, and followeth after those that put bottles of wine to her mouth, she loves those flagons, &c. Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, &c.: howbeit I will not relinquish her, but will love her freely as if she had never offended me. O matchless mercy! O cocnio plena consolationis! O most comfortable sermon! God so loved the world, the mundus immundus, dirty world, that he gave his only begotten Son. This was a sic so, without a sicut, like, there being nothing in nature that can possibly parallel it. See Romans 5:8. God loveth apostates, idolaters, adulterers, yet not as such, but as he intendeth and respecteth their conversion to himself; which nothing will sooner effect than the sense of such an undeserved love. I am not ignorant that another sense is set upon these words, as thus; Go, yet love a woman not married, as yet but espoused unto thee, who may hereafter be thy wife, but is for her adultery rejected for a long season: so God loved the Israelites as an adulterous spouse, and therefore for a long while neglected, but yet at length to be taken by him to wife, according to Hosea 2:15; Hosea 2:19.

Beloved of her friend] sc. of some paramour, as Jeremiah 3:1, "thou hast played the harlot with many lovers." These the Greeks called εταιρους, fellow friends; the whore was called εταιρα: so they flattered their own vices, putting gilded names on them, as our blades name drunkenness good fellowship, harlots, she sinners, &c. The Septuagint render it a woman that loveth naughty things or naughty packs. But I like the former interpretation better, and it is agreeable to the Chaldee Paraphrast.

Who look to other gods] Look and lust, ut vidi! ut perii! The mind lodgeth in the eye, and looketh out at that window of wickedness. "If I beheld the sun when it shined, or the moon walking in brightness, and my heart hath been secretly enticed, or my mouth hath kissed my hand," &c., Job 31:26-27, alludeth to the practice of those old idolaters, which was to kiss their idols, if they could reach them, as 1 Kings 19:18. (Cicero tells of the image of Hercules cuius mentum osculis adorantium attritum fuit who chin he will kiss and rub, and the Papists so kiss their pictures, that hard marble is worn with it, saith Sir Edwin Sands an eyewitness.) But when they could not come at the idol to kiss it, they looked up and kissed their hand, in token of homage; and this was called adoration ( quasi applicatio manus ad os). This looking to other gods, imports a turning towards them. See Deuteronomy 31:18; Deuteronomy 31:20, a loving them, a longing after them, and an expectation of some good from them. No wonder, therefore, that such whorish hankerings and honings were offensive to the jealous and just God: "but the unjust knoweth no shame," Zephaniah 3:5; men are forbidden so much as to lift up their eyes to their idols, Ezekiel 23:27. And shall I lift up mine eyes unto the hills (saith David, as some read that text), as if from thence came my help? Psalms 121:1. Absit. God forbid. Christ’s spouse hath a dove’s chaste eye, Song of Solomon 4:1; and he would have her like that Persian lady, who being at Cyrus’s wedding, and asked how she liked the bridegroom? How? saith she, I know not. I saw nobody there but my husband.

And love flagons of wine] Luxury is the ordinary companion of idolatry, as Exodus 32:6, 1 Corinthians 10:7, Revelation 18:13-14. See 9:27, Amos 2:8. O monachi vestri stomachi, &c. Oh king of your belly. At Paris and Louvain the best wine is called vinum theologicum, the divinity wine; it is also called vinum cos, wine of the consul, i.e. caloris, odoris, saporis optimi. the best warmth, fragrance and taste. Those clergy locusts lick up all; those abbey lubbers are good for nothing but to devour grain, like vermin; those wine bibbers and flesh mongers (as Solomon calleth them) are no better than the excrements of human society, gelulim, belly gods, and fit servants of those dung hill gods, as idols are called, Habakkuk 2:18-19 cf. Jeremiah 10:3-5. And a scavenger, whose living is to empty privies, is far to be preferred before such a one, as, looking to other gods, and making his gut his god, lives but to fill privies. For a flagon of wine, or a meal’s meat, any god may soon have the hearts and the services of such as have (Poliphemus-like) no supreme deity but their belly.


Verse 2

Hosea 3:2 So I bought her to me for fifteen [pieces] of silver, and [for] an homer of barley, and an half homer of barley:

Ver. 2. So I bought her to me.] God is to be obeyed, though it go never so much against the heart and the hair with us. ‘ Eπου τω Yεω. Follow God, was a heathen but an honest precept (Epictet.). This he that would do, must first deny himself, and say, with that Dutch divine, Veniat, veniat, verbum Dei, &c., Let a word of command come forth from God, and we will submit thereto, though we had six hundred lives to lose, yea, though we can see no reason for it. Indeed, in human governments, where reason is shut out, there tyranny is thrust in. But where God commandeth, there to ask a reason is presumption; to oppose reason is flat rebellion.

I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver] That is, fifteen shekels, or shillings, or thereabouts; no great price it was that he gave for her, whether for hire or dowry; probably it was in order to marrying her, and in reference to that law, Deuteronomy 21:11. Israel was once a precious people, God’s peculiar treasure, such as comprehended all his gettings. The Jews have a saying, that those seventy souls that went down with Jacob into Egypt were more worth than all the seventy nations of the earth beside. But now, behold, how cheap they are grown; they are valued all of them at fifteen pieces of silver, a goodly price, Zechariah 11:12, Matthew 27:9. If the tongue of the righteous be as choice silver, yet the heart of the wicked is little worth, Proverbs 10:20. There (as in the sea) is that leviathan (the king of all the children of pride), and there are creeping things innumerable, crawling lusts, and lawless passions; but for anything of worth, it is not there to be had. Hence, as at the last destruction of Jerusalem, thirty Jews were sold for one penny, so here the whole body of the nation are bought and sold for a small sum. "How weak is thine heart" (how light cheap), saith the Lord God to this light housewife, "seeing thou dost all these things, the work of an imperious whorish woman?" Ezekiel 16:30. God and his people reckon of men by their righteousness. He looked down from heaven to see who sought after God, Psalms 14:3. As for others, he regards them no more than men do dross, draft, chaff, or such like refuse stuff, Psalms 119:119; Psalms 1:4, &c., whatever great thoughts they take up of themselves, and however the world rates them. Antiochus Epiphanes, that great king of Syria, is called a vile person, Daniel 11:21. And the adversary is this wicked Haman, saith Esther: that was his true title, which he perhaps never heard till now.

And an homer of barley, and an half homer of barley] God buys not this people (though for never so little) to starve them, but alloweth them alimony, though not so fine a food; barley, and not wheat. See Revelation 6:6, prisoners’ pittance, coarse fare, such as slaves and beasts are fed with; as she had been like horse and mule, Psalms 32:9, and lest she should wax fat and kick, she is held to strait allowance. Whereby is signified the mean and low condition that the ten tribes (and afterwards all the Jews) should be in, till Christ came to marry them to himself. First, they should be valued but at half the price of a slave. Secondly, they should be coarsely fed, as beasts, with barley, or, perhaps, not so well as the Jews’ beasts: for among them the mouth of the ox treading out their grain might not be muzzled. But the heathens were wont to put an engine (called πανσικοπη) about their servants’ necks, and it reached down to their hands, that they might not so much as lick of the wheat meal when they were sifting it. Now they were scattered among the heathen and sold to the nations for nought, Psalms 44:11-12. They that were wont to feed delicately were desolate in the streets; they that were brought up in scarlet embraced dunghils, Lamentations 4:5, their flagons of wine were turned into tankards of water, and their bellaria, or junkets (so the Septuagint render it, and not flagons) into brown bread, horse bread: that so those whom pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness had undone, hardship and penury might reduce to duty, Ezekiel 16:49. God would seem for a time to have forgotten them, that they might at length remember themselves: he loves to chastise men’s insolvence with indigence, as he did Hagar’s, Genesis 21:15, and the prodigal’s, Luke 15:16, who for his swinish life was brought to swine’s meat, and thereby brought home to his father. It is the way of God to humble those he intendeth good unto, to prepare them for mercy by cutting them short of these outward comforts. Though this be here a threatening, yet there is a promise in it, Hosea 3:3, that God will take oft the smarting plaister so soon as it hath eaten out the proud flesh. It is in very faithfulness that he afflicteth his people, because he will be true to their souls, and save them. And hence it is that he so diets them, and keeps them short, that he may do them good in the latter end, that he may change their bricks (made in their bondage) into sapphires and agates. See Exodus 24:10, Isaiah 54:11.


Verse 3

Hosea 3:3 And I said unto her, Thou shalt abide for me many days; thou shalt not play the harlot, and thou shalt not be for [another] man: so [will] I also [be] for thee.

Ver. 3. Thou shalt abide for me many days] Even till the last days, Hosea 3:5, or last year, as Ezekiel hath it, Ezekiel 38:8. Thus they have abode, or sat (as a desolate widow, so the Hebrew hath it), 700 years before Christ, and above 1600 years since, in a most forlorn condition; crying out in their, daily prayers to God, Veniat regnum tuum, bimherah, beiamenu, Let thy kingdom come speedily, even in our days. And again, Aedifica templum tuum, aedifica, aedifica, cito, cito, cito; Lord, build, build, build thy Temple quickly, quickly, quickly. But God’s time is not yet come; for they are not yet throughly humbled. Were they but ripe, he is ready; when help is seasonable, his fingers itch (saith one) to be doing, as the mother’s breast aches when it is time the child had suck, Exodus 12:40-41. At midnight were the firstborn slain and Israel sent away, because then exactly the 400 or 430 years of their captivity in Egypt were expired. So Daniel 5:30, "In that night was Belshazzar slain"; because then exactly the seventy years were ended. God promiseth to take this Church again to wife, but having found her formerly so fickle and faithless, he would for a long time try her, and keep her unmarried as a probationer: he would lay her (as we do filthy garments) a soaking and a frosting for many hundred years, to try them, "and to purge, and to make white, even to the time of the end, because it is yet for a time appointed," Daniel 11:35. And to presume to prescribe to him in this case is to set the sun by our dial. As he never fails his in his own time, so he seldom comes at ours. Here, then, our strength is to sit still, Isaiah 30:7, and not to start up, and say, as that impatient prince did, "What should I wait for the Lord any longer?" 2 Kings 6:33. Shall Christ lose his right in his wife, because he takes her not by the day set down in our calendar? possibly the calendar of heaven hath a postdate to ours. Sure it is, that we are apt to antedate the promises in regard of the accomplishment, as those, Jeremiah 8:20, that looked for help that summer at farthest, but were deceived. See the disease and the remedy put together, Habakkuk 2:2-3, and learn to wait. God will surely bring us to it if we belong to him: and thereby inure us both to patience and continence as here.

Thou shalt not play the harlot, &c.] Thou sbalt not hasten after another God, and so multiply sorrows upon thyself, Psalms 16:4; as he that hath broke prison gets but more irons to be laid upon him and a stricter watch, Psalms 44:19; the Church, though sore broken in the place of dragons, and covered with the shadow of death, yet she stretched not out her hands to a strange God. She knew that was not the way to get off with comfort. Is it because there is no God in Israel, that thou gaddest to the god of Ekron? 2 Kings 1:3 "Should not a people seek unto their God? or the living to the dead?" Isaiah 8:19. Should they seek to slip out at a backdoor and to help themselves by sorry shifts or sinister practices? Is that ever like to do well? or will not such be miserable even by their own election? Jonah 2:8. Wherefore if God defer to help (as he doth usually), hold out faith and patience, wait upon him who even waits to be gracious, for he is a God of judgment, and well knoweth how and when to deal forth his favours, Isaiah 30:18 Cito data cito vilescunt, Manna being lightly come by, was as lightly set by. He therefore suspends us, that he may commend his mercies to us; and when he comes with them, be the better welcome. The longer he holds us in request the more will he do for us at length; and if we abide for him many days we shall be no losers thereby.

For I also will be for thee] He will love those that love him, and honour those that honour him, Proverbs 8:17, 1 Samuel 2:30. Yea, "if any man love me," saith Christ, "my Father will love him, and I will love him, and will manifest myself unto him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him," John 14:21-23. "I will gather them" (sc. into my bosom out of all nations) "that are sorrowful for the solemn assembly who are of thee, to whom the reproach of it was a burthen. Behold, at that time I will undo all that afflict thee," &c., Zephaniah 3:18-20. God esteems highly those that abide for him in their banishment, that stay for him till he mind marriage with them, that stick to him in affliction, that resolve to reserve themselves for him, so as if they cannot have comfort in God they will have none elsewhere. The Cherethites and the Pelethites that were with David at Gath, and afterwards stuck to him when Absalom was up, they were ever near about him, as his guard, and dear to him as his favourites. God is All in all to those that with the spouse will be his altogether: he will do good to them with his whole heart that seek him with their whole heart, &c., Jeremiah 29:13.


Verse 4

Hosea 3:4 For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and [without] teraphim:

Ver. 4. For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, &c.] They shall be, as it is said of the Brazilians, Sine rege, sine lege, sine fide, without a king, without law, without hope, in a woeful confused estate, both for state and Church. This they had brought upon themselves by their idols set up at Dan and Bethel; that is, in the place of judgment, and in the house of God (so Dan and Bethel signify). Bethel was become Bethaven, and the place of judicature (called by Solomon the place of the Holy God, Ecclesiastes 8:10), so corrupted, that people were ready to say, as Themistocles once did, that if there were two ways showed him, the one leading to hell and the other to the tribunal, he would choose that which went to hell and forsake the other. That corruption caused this confusion. The children of Israel shall be without and withont, here are six withouts, that they might be sensible of their abuse of mercies, and see bona a tergo formosissima, good things fairest behind, their worth best appearing by their want. The Persian law commanded that at the death of their kings there should be πενθ ημερων ανομιαν, a suspension of laws, a lawless liberty, for the length of five days (Stob. Orat. 42), that subjects might know the necessity of government by being bereft of the benefit of it for a time; and the better prize it when they had it. The like custom they have now in Turkey at the death of the Grand Signor, which is no sooner known but every man doth what is good in his own eyes, till his successor be sent for, and set upon his throne. Israel hath neither king nor prince, ruler nor civil magistrates of their own, (the ten tribes, I mean: for Judah hath both prince and priests after the captivity, till the last desolation, since which they have) no form nor face of Church or commonwealth, no, not of a corrupt or depraved Church, meant here by image and teraphim, see 2 Kings 17:10, 17:5, which much less of such a one as God had prescribed, meant by sacrifices and ephod. Prosper’s conceit was that this people were called Iudaei Jews because they received ius Dei, their law, from God’s mouth. And Josephus calleth their commonwealth a theocracy, or government by God. They received their order both for Church and commonwealth from heaven: which no other people ever did in the same manner; and might truly take up that of the prophet, Isaiah 33:22, "The Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our King, he will save us." But man being in honour is without understanding. "Jeshurun waxed fat and kicked; then he forsook God which made him, and sacrificed unto devils, not to God, to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up," Deuteronomy 32:15; Deuteronomy 32:17. When Ephraim spake and spake right there was trembling, and none dared budge against him: but when he offended in Baal he died, Hosea 13:1, then every paltry adversary trampled upon him as a dead man, then every scurrilous poet could insult over him and cry, Credat Iudaeus Apella, Non ego; then every common Turk could, by way of execration, say, Iudaeus sim si fallo; and in detestation of a thing, I would I might die a Jew then. A dispersed and despised people they are (none more) under the cope of heaven; partly for their former idolatry, but principally for their rejecting Christ crucified, whom they cannot but in their conscience know to be the Shiloh that should come, since the sceptre is so long since departed from Judah, and a lawgiver from between his feet, Genesis 49:10. That for their sins, which are many (say the Talmudists), he yet hides himself in the caverns and secret places of the earth, is σοφον φαρμακον, a simple pretence, or rather a subtlety of Satan, to hold them still in blindness till God unseal their eyes; till when things that are never so dear will not be believed.


Verse 5

Hosea 3:5 Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; and shall fear the LORD and his goodness in the latter days.

Ver. 5. Afterward shall the children of Israel return] They shall come out of the furnace more refined than ever. "By this shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged; and this is all the fruit to take away his sin; when he maketh all the stones of the altar as chalkstones that are beaten in sunder; the groves and images shall not stand up," Isaiah 27:9. Then indeed hath Jacob the right fruit of his sufferings, when he makes all the stones of the altar as chalkstones, crumbling them to crattle; when he pulls down the groves and images, those Balaam’s stumbling blocks that lay in his way to God, and now resolves to return.

And seek the herd] From whom they had deeply revolted; to seek his face and favour, to seek his ordinances and true worship, and lastly, to seek to know and do what is well pleasing in his sight. "Their hearts shall rejoice that thus seek the Lord"; and these are true converts indeed, these are those seekers, Psalms 24:6, yea, this is Jacob (as there), Israelites indeed, such as cannot be (wherever they are cast) without God in the world, without Christ, who is here called David by a patronymic {surname} (as also elsewhere), not without allusion to the apostasy of the ten tribes from the house of David, and so from the true God; which now also they shall bewail as the root of their sin and ruin, Jeremiah 30:9, Ezekiel 34:24, 1 Kings 12:26.

And David their king] Called by Daniel, Messiah the Prince, Daniel 9:25; and by Peter, Christ the Lord, Acts 2:36. See Luke 1:32. Some think he is here called the goodness of God.

They shall fear the Lord and his goodness] Which also is his glory, Exodus 33:19. The Hebrew is, they shall fear to the Lord ( pavebunt ad Dominum); trepidabunt, that is, trembling they shall make haste to him (as frightened doves do to their columbaries, see Hosea 11:11); they shall kiss the Son with a kiss of homage, and with reverential fear submit to his kingdom.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Hosea 3:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/hosea-3.html. 1865-1868.

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