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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Hosea 9

 

 

Verse 1

Hosea 9:1 Rejoice not, O Israel, for joy, as [other] people: for thou hast gone a whoring from thy God, thou hast loved a reward upon every cornfloor.

Ver. 1. Rejoice not, O Israel, for joy, as other people] Not as good people, for they have reason to rejoice, and are called to it in both Testaments; joy is the just man’s portion, but thou art naught all over, thou hast gone a whoring from thy God, who will shortly meet thee as a bear robbed of her whelps, or as the jealous husband doth his adulteress. Again, not as other bad people, for they may revel (rejoice indeed they cannot) and be merry, after a sort; rejoice they may in the face, as the apostle phraseth it, and from the teeth outward; some kind of frothy and flashy mirth they may have (and let them make them merry with it, it is all they are like to have), but so mayest not thou; because thou hast had warning sufficient, and hast known thy Master’s will, but not done it; yea, thou hast done that abominable thing that other nations never yet did, Jeremiah 2:11-12, thou hast changed thy God for those that are no gods; thou hast forsaken the fountain, and run to the cistern, &c.; which is such a prodigious wickedness, as the very heavens are astonished at, and are horribly afraid, yea, desolate; mourning, and, as it were, melting at this horrid act. Shall the heavens mourn, and wilt thou rejoice? yea, fetch a frisk, or dance a galliard for joy, as the word signifies ( גיל, in Graec. αγαλλιαν, to dance a galliard): what if other nations do so, when they have got the better of their enemies, or gathered in their harvest, Isaiah 9:4, or otherwise have all things go well with them? yet revolted Israel had no such cause, unless they were upon better terms with God. Say that this were the time when Joash beat Benhadad thrice over, and recovered the cities of Israel, 2 Kings 13:15-19 ; or say it was at the time when he took Amaziah, and brought all the spoil of Jerusalem to Samaria, 2 Kings 14:13; or else when Pekah slew in Judah a hundred and twenty thousand in one day, and carried captive two hundred thousand, with much spoil: these were times of great mirth and jollity, it is confessed, 2 Chronicles 28:6-8. "But are there not with you, even with you, sins against the Lord your God" (as the prophet Oded there bespeaks them), and should not those sins be bewailed? Besides, are they not your brethren whom you have slaughtered and captivated? and can you have any joy of such a conquest, of civil wars that are - nullos habitura triumphos, about to have no victory, that are such a misery as all words (however wide) want compass to express? Hear what the prophet Amos (who was Hosea’s contemporary) saith to this, "Ye which rejoice in a thing of nought" (so he calleth their victories, present prosperity, pomp, and pride), "which say, have we not taken to us horns by our own strength? Behold, I will raise up against you a nation, O house of Israel," that shall tame you, and take you a link lower (as they say), so that "your laughter shall be turned into mourning, and your joy into heaviness," James 4:9. There is ever a snare (or a cord) in the sin of the wicked, viz. to strangle their joy with; "but the righteous sing and rejoice," Proverbs 29:6.

For thou hast gone a whoring from thy God] That is a foul business, and may well dampen thy joy. Sins are the snuffs that dim our candlestick, the leaven that soureth our passovers, the sanies of a plague sore that threateneth our very life. And whereas the sins of others are but rebellions against God, the sins of his professed people are treacheries; they go a whoring from their God, desuper Deo suo, vel omisso Deo suo, from under their God, or laying aside their God; casting him, as it were, into a bycorner. Hence those pathetic complaints in Jeremiah, Jeremiah 18:13, "Ask ye now among the heathen, who hath heard such things: the virgin of Israel hath done a very horrible thing": filthiness in a stew is nothing so odious as filthiness in a virgin. And again, Jeremiah 32:30, "The children of Israel and the children of Judah have only done evil from their youth." God takes evil so heinously from them, as if they had never done him any good service all their days; or as if they were the only sinners upon earth; they were so much worse, because they ought to have been better than other nations. Now God expects our sorrows should be proportionable to our sins; Rejoice not, therefore, but (by a liptote) weep and howl for the miseries that shall come upon you.

Thou hast loved a reward (or a harlot’s hire, mercedem meretriciam) upon every threshingfloor] i.e. Thou hast prostituted thyself to a loose idolatry; like to a common whore that goeth a whoring up and down the threshingfloors. Hence Boaz’ fear lest it should be rumoured that Ruth had lain at his feet, and that a woman came into the floor, Ruth 3:14. Or else he meaneth (saith Diodati) some particular kind of idolatry used in the time of harvest and threshing: as if they would have acknowledged their increase to come by their idols’ goodness. Such was that of the Metapontines, of whom Strabo tells the story, that when they had had a good harvest, and were grown rich thereby, they dedicated to Apollo at Delphi χρυσουν Yερος, a harvest of gold. See Trapp on "Hosea 2:1" &c


Verse 2

Hosea 9:2 The floor and the winepress shall not feed them, and the new wine shall fail in her.

Ver. 2. The floor and the winepress shall not feed them] Culpam poena premit comes, Punishment attendeth sin at the heels. They had abused their plenty, and ascribed it to their idols; therefore shall they be cut short either in their store, as Habakkuk 3:6; Habakkuk 3:10; Habakkuk 2:16, or in their strength, as Hosea 4:10; Hosea 8:7. {see Hosea 2:8-9, with the notes} One way or other their hopes shall be frustrated, the creature shall lie to them, and not answer their expectation.

The new wine shall fail in her] Mustum mentietur ei: see the like phrase, Habakkuk 3:17, Isaiah 58:11, Job 41:6 : they shall come to the grain floors and winepresses, as men come to a lottery with heads full of hopes; but depart disappointed, with their hearts full of blanks. As they have lied to God (idolatry is nothing else but a large lie), and dealt deceitfully with him in the covenant, so shall all things lie to them, and not answer their hopes. Look how a certain prince paid a false traitor, who for a sum of money had betrayed his country to him, in false coin; so shall it fare with such as falsify with God; he will blast their hopes, and curse their blessings, cut them short in the height of their expectancies, strike them in the things that their hearts are most set upon, the new wine shall lie to them, and so set them a howling, Joel 1:5.


Verse 3

Hosea 9:3 They shall not dwell in the LORD’S land; but Ephraim shall return to Egypt, and they shall eat unclean [things] in Assyria.

Ver. 3. They shall not dwell in the Lord’s land] Because they would not live by the Lord’s laws, they shall therefore be turned out of his house (so this land was called, Hosea 9:8) as rebellious children, that are a disturbance and a disgrace to their father’s family; they shall hold no longer as tenants of him, the chief landlord, because so backward to send a lamb (as rent or a homage penny) to the ruler of the land, Isaiah 16:1; they were tenants at will, and held upon condition of obedience, Leviticus 18:28, it was divided among them by lot; Joshua divided it among them, and left none to himself. The people gave him a portion, and he was content with it; though it were but a mean one in the barren mountains, as Jerome noteth. He had the promise that God would never leave him nor forsake him; and he well knew that if he trusted in the Lord, and did good, he should "dwell in the land and be verily fed," Psalms 37:3. He and Caleb were of another spirit, and fulfilled after God; therefore they only of all that generation entered the promised land, the Lord’s land; which because Moses might not do, it was a great grief to him. These idolaters here are threatened to be cashiered and cast out of this good land, and to have their pleasant land laid desolate, to be spewed out, as the Canaanites had been before them, Leviticus 18:28, and so consequently to be deprived of God’s favour, help, and protection; and altogether disprivileged, yea, disinherited. This was a heavy judgment to them, and must be a warning to us, that yet live in the bosom of the Church, and under the joyful sound; that we forfeit not our present enjoyments, that we sin not away our precious privileges, as the seven Churches and others have done. Alterius perditio tua sit cautio. We stand upon our good behaviour, as they did; see Deuteronomy 30:19-20.

But Ephraim shall return to Egypt] Which they ought to have been sensible of as a punishment long since threatened, Deuteronomy 28:68, {see Hosea 8:13, See Trapp on "Hosea 8:13"} though now, of their own accord, they returned to it, for fear of the Assyrian (whom by their false dealing they had justly incensed), yet that should not shelter them, but God’s hand would find them out, and fetch them thence into captivity. Often they had been warned not to go down to Egypt for help; and they must needs be hard bestead that fled thither. True it is, that the Egyptians are renowned in histories for a thankful people (Diod. Sic. l. 2), and the Israelites are charged not to abhor an Egyptian, because they were once strangers in his land, and had tasted of his courtesies, Deuteronomy 23:7. But in addition, they could not but know how hardly the Egyptians had dealt with their forefathers, and bow treacherously also with them; and that they ought not, de iure, concerning the law, to have returned thither upon any terms. Sed Deus quem destruit dementat, Bug God, who he destroyed, makes mad, and although here they were resolved for Egypt, yet, Hosea 11:5, God resolveth otherwise; and voluntas Dei necessitas rei, his will shall stand when all is done.

And they shall eat unclean things in Assyria] Things forbidden by the law, as swine’s flesh, &c.; they shall be forced to eat or starve; they must not look for liberty of conscience in Assyria, nor have that favour to make a difference of meat as Daniel had, Daniel 1:8, but as Ezekiel baked his barley cakes with man’s dung, even so, said the Lord, shall the children of Israel eat their defiled bread among the heathen whither I will drive them. So haughty they were grown, that their father’s house could not hold them; therefore they shall be glad of husks with hogs (as that prodigal), they shall eat as the heathens, since they would needs act as the heathens. They thought it was hard with them in their own land, when the floors and the winepress would not feed them, Hosea 9:2; but now it is far worse, when, forced by hard hunger, they are glad of any meat, be it clean or unclean; neither have they any more mind to be so merry with other nations, as Hosea 9:1, or cause so to be; their stomachs craving, and themselves (with Drusus in Tacitus) ready to eat the stuffings of their bed; or (with the Jews in the last siege of Jerusalem) not only to feed upon dogs, rats, cats, &c., but the leather of their shoes, belts, shields, bridles, yea, ox dung was a precious dish unto them, and the shreddings of pot herbs cast out and trodden underfoot (Pontanus. Hegesippus).


Verse 4

Hosea 9:4 They shall not offer wine [offerings] to the LORD, neither shall they be pleasing unto him: their sacrifices [shall be] unto them as the bread of mourners; all that eat thereof shall be polluted: for their bread for their soul shall not come into the house of the LORD.

Ver. 4. They shall not offer wine offerings unto the Lord] Non libabunt, multo minus litabunt, they shall not have wherewith to offer sacrifice, when they are in their banishment, Hosea 3:4, much less to serve God with cheerfulness, to exhilarate his heart with their wine offerings, 9:13, to cheer up themselves with the wine and olive offerings, Numbers 15:5, which were symbols and signs of the merit and spirit of Christ (for the ceremonial law was their gospel, it was Christ in figure), and the deprivation of them threatened the deprivation of grace and glory. Now, therefore, since such a sad condition and such sinking of spirits abode upon this people, what reason had they to rejoice with joy as others.

Neither shall they be pleasing, to him] Heb. they shall not be sweet or mingled; for as sweet and sour maketh the best sauce, so the mixture of things of divers qualities maketh the sweetest confections, and most pleasing to the palate; but so shall not be these men’s wine offerings to God, if any they should present; but sour and savourless. He is now resolved to take another course with them, to glorify himself in their calamity, and to give unto them another while the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath, Revelation 16:19, that is, to delight as much in their misery as a man would do in drinking of a bowl of generous wine.

Their sacrifices shall be unto them as the bread of mourners] i.e. as funeral feasts (whereof read Jeremiah 16:7-8, Ezekiel 24:17), made ad levandum luctum ( αρτος πενθους νεκροδειπνον), eaten in heaviness by those that were polluted by the dead, and therefore altogether unfit for sacrifice; since God loveth a cheerful service, and will not have any of his come off heavily. See Leviticus 10:19, Deuteronomy 13:7; Deuteronomy 26:14, Malachi 2:13, where those unkind husbands are blamed for causing their wives, when they should have been cheerful in God’s service, to cover the Lord’s altar with tears, with weeping and with crying out, so that he regarded not the offering any more. So Ezra, Ezra 9:5, that holy man, though till then he sat astonished at the sins of the people, yet he arose from his heaviness at the evening sacrifice; for he knew that even sorrow for sin might be a sinful sorrow, if unseasonable and sullen; for it sours a man’s spirit, and makes his services unacceptable to God.

For their bread for their soul shall not come into the house of the Lord] Their bread, that is, their meat offering or other sacrifices [Malachi 1:7] {See Trapp on "Malachi 1:7"} for their soul, that is, for themselves (soul is oft put for the whole person), shall not come, rightly and in due manner, unto divine acceptation, "into the house of the Lord": it should not have come into the temple while it stood, and the Levitical service was performed in an orderly way; how much less shall it be accepted now in a strange land, being the bread of mourners. Others by the "bread for their souls" understand their natural and necessary sustenance. He speaks, say they, of that meatoffering, Leviticus 2:5, appointed for a spiritual use, yet called here the bread for their life or livelihood, because God esteemed it none other than common meat. Tarnovius by the house of the Lord here understandeth the Church, as Hosea 8:1; Hosea 9:5, 2 Timothy 2:20. The door of this house, saith he, is Christ, John 10:9, the doorkeeper the Holy Spirit, ibid. John 10:3, the foundation and corner stone Christ, Ephesians 2:20, the wall is God, Zechariah 2:5, the stewards the ministers, those of the household the saints, 1 Corinthians 4:1, Ephesians 2:19.


Verse 5

Hosea 9:5 What will ye do in the solemn day, and in the day of the feast of the LORD?

Ver. 5. What will ye do in the solemn day, &c.] q.d. How will ye do to laugh and leap then, as ye do now? Hosea 9:1. How will you be able to support yourselves, to keep your hearts from dying within you, when you call to mind and consider your former solemnities and festivities, which now (alas!) in your captivity you are utterly deprived of? There was a time when you went with the multitude to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holy day, Psalms 42:4, with dancing, eating, drinking, and joy, Deuteronomy 16:14-15, 21:19-20. But now the scene is altered; your singing is turned into sighing, your mirth into mourning, your joy into heaviness; and you must needs hold yourselves so much the more miserable, that you have been happy. The epicures indeed held that a man might be cheerful against the most exquisite torments: 1. In consideration of his honesty and integrity; 2. In consideration of those pleasures and delights that formerly he had enjoyed; and now cheered himself up with the remembrance of them ( Ex praeteritarum voluptatum recordatione. Cic. de Finib. 1. 2. Senec. de Benef. 1. 4, c. 22.). This last is a very slight and sorry comfort indeed. The former hath much in it; for a good man keeps every day holy day, said Diogenes; and can be merry without music, saith another philosopher. He hath a merry heart, or good conscience, which is a continual feast; and is bound to "rejoice evermore," 1 Thessalonians 5:16, and to keep the feast in all countries, 1 Corinthians 5:8, the calendar of his whole life is crowned with continual festivals ( εορταζωμεν); and he is the happiest man, and may be the merriest, if he but understand his own happiness. But this, alas! was not the case of these woeful caitiffs and captives. They had sinned away all their comforts; and with the sad remembrance of their former enjoyments, and with the sense of their present sevitude, they had little mind to keep holy day. Hence this passionate exclamation, "What will ye do," &c.? God had threatened before, Hosea 2:11, to take away their feast days, new moons, sabbaths, and solemnities; but they heeded him not, tanquam monstra marina Dei verba surda aura praeterierunt; therefore now God fulfilleth what he had forethreatened, and calleth, as in a solemn day, his terrors round about them, Lamentations 2:22. What they were wont to do in their solemn days and festivals may be seen, Numbers 10:10; what we do, or should do, at least, upon our Lord’s Day sabbaths (the delight of every good soul) we need not be told. Let us take heed, lest by profane violation or careless observing that holy rest, with all its solemnities, we deprive not ourselves (as these Israelites did) of such a precious privilege. God gave us a good warning, in that the first blow given the German Churches was upon the sabbath day; which is there so ill sanctified, that if it should be named according to their deserving of it, Daemoniacus potius quam Dominicus, the Devil is greater than God, saith Alsted, it should be called not the Lord’s day, but the priest’s day rather. It is very remarkable, that upon that day was Prague lost, and with it all opportunity of hearing, singing, public praying, communicating, on that high and honourable day, Isaiah 58:13.


Verse 6

Hosea 9:6 For, lo, they are gone because of destruction: Egypt shall gather them up, Memphis shall bury them: the pleasant [places] for their silver, nettles shall possess them: thorns [shall be] in their tabernacles.

Ver. 6. For, lo, they are gone because of destruction] They are gone either into Egypt for refuge, or into the state of the dead, they are gone out of the world ( abierunt, i.e. obierunt). They shall perish by destruction, so some render it. When God had said in the former verse, "What will ye do," they should have fallen down before him and said, "What wilt thou have us to do, Lord?" we know not what at all to do, but our eyes are toward thee. This had been right, and thus they might have disarmed God’s indignation; but they had other carnal shifts, and thought they could tell well enough what to do, and whither to go; whereupon they were so fully bent, that the prophet here reports them gone already. "For, lo, they are gone," and got to Egypt; as various of them did doubtless during the siege, and after the sack of Samaria, when they were forced to shift for themselves as they could: but did they so "escape by iniquity. In thine anger cast down the people, O God," saith David; and it is not more a prayer than a prophecy, Psalms 56:7, and this people had the proof of it.

Egypt shall gather them] Either for punishment or for burial, as Ezekiel 29:5, Jeremiah 8:2, so that they fled but out of the smoke into the fire; and in running from death they ran to it; as the historian saith of those poor Scots at Musselborough Field, who, running for their lives, so strained themselves in their race, that they fell down breathless and dead.

Memphis shall bury them] Lest they should please themselves with vain hopes of return to their country, he shows that that shall never be; but they shall lay their bones in a strange land. Memphis (anciently called Noph, Isaiah 19:13, or (as some will), No, Nahum 3:8, at this day Grand Cairo, famous for the pyramids and the kings’ sepulchres), Memphis, I say, a principal city of Egypt, shall be a Kibrothhattaavah to you, a place of sepulchres; especially then when Nebuchadnezzar, sent by God (who giveth him Egypt as his pay for his pains at Tyre), shall come and smite that land, and deliver such as are for death to death, and such as are for the sword to the sword, Jeremiah 43:11.

The pleasant places for themselves, nettles shall possess them] Heb. shall possess them as their inheritance; so that the Israelites nor their heirs shall ever repossess these pleasant places for their silver, i.e. where they either laid up their silver (their repositories or countinghouses), or where they laid out their silver, either in costly buildings and sumptuous furniture, or else in idols and statues placed therein, to their no small charge and delight. These shall be ruined and overrun with nettles, thorns, and thistles, a token of horrible desolation, Isaiah 32:13; Isaiah 34:13. Note hence, that as God spareth a place for a few good men found therein (as he would have done Sodom, which is now a place of nettles and salt pits, Zephaniah 2:9), so a fruitful land bringeth he into barrenness (or saltness), for the wickedness of them that dwell therein, Psalms 106:34-35; witness Judaea, that land of desire, Jeremiah 22:27, that garden of Eden, Joel 2:3, that glorious land, Daniel 11:16, yea, glory of all lands, Ezekiel 20:15, now woefully waste and desolate; so is Grecia, formerly so famous for arms and arts; so are some parts of Germany, and so may England soon be (without the greater mercy of God, by a miracle of whose mercy, and by a prop of whose extraordinary patience, we have hitherto subsisted), I say, England, whose valleys now are like Eden, whose hills are as Lebanon, whose springs are as Pisgah, whose rivers are as Jordan, whose walls is the ocean, and whose defence is the Lord Jehovah.


Verse 7

Hosea 9:7 The days of visitation are come, the days of recompence are come; Israel shall know [it]: the prophet [is] a fool, the spiritual man [is] mad, for the multitude of thine iniquity, and the great hatred.

Ver. 7. The days of visitation are come] A visitation that is like to prove a vexation; for every transgression and disobedience, that is, omission and commission, shall receive a just recompense of reward from the God of recompenses (so he is called, Jeremiah 51:56), whose eyes behold, his eyelids try the children of men, Psalms 11:4; the former points out his knowledge, the latter his judgment, or his critical descant in his visitation or inquisition, the days whereof are set, Stat sua cuique dies, and Israel’s days are come, are come, it is repeated for more assurance, as "Babylon is fallen, is fallen," certo, cito, penitus; and as Ezekiel 7:5-7, the prophet tells them, "The end is come, is come, is come"; and so some ten or twelve times, that he might beat it into them, and awaken them out of the snare of the devil. The wicked’s happiness will take its end surely and swiftly; but it is hard persuading them so; and the Jews, as they were ever noted for obstinate and overweening, so to this day they are light, aerial, and Satanical, apt to work themselves into the fool’s paradise of a sublime dotage. But they shall know it to be so as I have said, by woeful experience, that mistress of fools.

Israel shall know it] sc. To his sorrow, he shall pay for his learning, buy his wit, open his eyes (as the mole doth) when death is upon him, oculos incipit aperire moriendo (Plin.); roar and look upward, Isaiah 8:21, as the hog doth when the knife is at his throat. O Lord (saith the same prophet, Isaiah 26:11), "when thy hand is lifted up" (and thy hand is a mighty hand, James 4:10, it falls heavy), "they will not see," they wink wilfully, or seek straws to put out their eyes with, as Bernard hath it, Festucam quaerunt unde oculos sibi eruant; " but they shall see," will they nill they, "and be ashamed" of their former oscitancy, or rather obstinacy, when that hand of God, which was lifted up in threatening, shall fall down in punishing, and the "fire of thine enemies shall devour them"; how much more at that last and great visitation, that terrible day of retribution, when they shall answer for all, with the flames about their ears. Tunc sentient magno suo malo, then shall they feel, to their eternal woe, the truth of all the threatenings, which till then they heard, and read, as a man doth an almanac prognostications of wind or foul weather, which he thinks may come to pass, and it may be not; and give nothing so much credit to them as the prior of St Bartholomew’s, in London, did to an idle and addle-headed (a) astrologer, when he went and built him a house at Harrowon-the-hill to secure himself from a supposed flood that that astrologer foretold.

The prophet is a fool, &c.] φανλος, a naughty man: the Hebrew word here is evil, and signifieth a rash and unadvised fellow, that is headstrong and headlong; such were their false prophets that promised peace when war was at their gates, and made all fair weather before them when the tempest of God’s wrath was even bursting out upon them; such a tempest as should never be blown over. These should now appear to be fools, or rather impostors, that had brought the credulous people into a fool’s paradise.

The spiritual man is mad] Heb. the man of the spirit, or ventosus, the windy man, that uttereth vain and empty conceits, humani cerebelli Minervas, the brats of his own brain, light, airy nothings, the disease of this age, full of flashes and figments, idle speculations of "men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth." These pretend altogether to the spirit, and would be thought the only spiritual men; as the Swenkfeldians (whom, for their ill favour, Luther called Stenckfeldians), who bewitched many with those glorious words (which were ever in their mouths) of illumination, revelation, the inward and spiritual man, &c., and entitled themselves the confessors of the glory of Christ. So the enthusiasts and Anabaptists, what boast make they of the spirit; professing that they will deliver nothing but what they have immediately revealed to them from heaven. Munzer (their ringleader) wrote a base book against Luther (which he dedicateth to King Jesus), wherein Lutherum flagellat quod euthusiasmorum spiritu careat et nil nisi carnalia sapiat, he falls foul upon Luther, as wanting the spirit of revelation, and one that savoureth nothing but carnal things. All his followers look upon Luther as more pestiferous than the pope; and for Calvin they say (and I have heard it), that it had been happy for the Church if he had never been born. It was their practice of old (as Leo Judae observed in his epistle before Bullinger’s book against the Catabaptists), and is still, to discourage and disparage Christ’s faithful ministers all they can, as carnal, and not relishing the things of the spirit; the right offspring they are of those ancient heretics called Messalanii (the same with the Euchites and Enthusiasts), who, in A.D. 371, professed to be wholly made up of the spirit, gave themselves much to sleep, and called their dreams and wild phantasies prophecies and revelations.

For the multitude of thine iniquity, and the great hatred] Heb. the great Satanic hatred that thou hast borne against God and thy neighbour, but especially God’s faithful prophets, whom thou heartily hatedst for their plain dealing; as Ahab did Micaiah, because he never spoke good to him. It is very probable that Micaiah was that disguised prophet who brought Ahab the fearful message of displeasure and death, for dismissing Benhadad; for the which he was ever since fasted in prison, deep in disgrace. Lo, this is the world’s wages. Truth breeds hatred, great hatred, as the text hath it, devilish hatred, and this is through the multitude of men’s iniquities, the overflow of sins, which wretched men hold so dear to themselves, that they cannot but rage against those that disclaim against them, and proclaim hell fire against their hateful practices; they cannot stand still to have their eyes picked out, how should they? say. Now, for such, what wonder is it if God in justice give them up to the efficacy of error that they may believe a lie, since they would not receive the love of the truth? 2 Thessalonians 2:11, ut infatuati seducantur, et seducti iudicentur (Augustin in loc.), that being infatuated they may be seduced, and being seduced, perish? what wonder also if he deliver them up, as to "strong delusions," so to "vile affections," and abominable actions, that they may receive in themselves that recompense of their error that is meet, Romans 1:27. What marvel, if men that will not endure sound doctrine be left to seducers? if those that have itching ears meet with clawing preachers? if such as turn away their ears from the truth, be turned to fables and fopperies? 2 Timothy 4:3-4. It is for the multitude of men’s iniquities, and especially for their great hatred to the truth, that the Church is so pestered with impostors, [2 Peter 2:1-2] who bring in "damnable heresies," even denying the Lord that bought them. Do not our modern seducers so among us, when (among other portentous opinions held by them) they stick not to affirm, that Christ is a carnal or fleshly thing; that those that are grown Christians may go to God immediately without a Christ; that Christ did not rise again, &c. Others contemn him by the notion of the man dying at Jerusalem - Oh horrible! (Dr Homes’ Character of the Present Times, 200.) There was a time when the popes were so notoriously naughty as to speak thus basely of Christ; to deny, or at least to doubt the immortality of the soul, the resurrection of the body, &c.; and then a poor popeling cried out, that the sins of that synagogue were so great, as that it deserved not to be ruled by any other than reprobates. Certain it is, that God plagues contempt of the truth (that great gospel sin) with an inundation of errors and enormities.


Verse 8

Hosea 9:8 The watchman of Ephraim [was] with my God: [but] the prophet [is] a snare of a fowler in all his ways, [and] hatred in the house of his God.

Ver. 8. The watchman of Ephraim was with my God] i.e. The false prophets above mentioned pretend themselves to be with God, and for him speak, look, and act as if they came out of God’s bosom, or were so many angels newly dropped from heaven; take upon them glorious titles to that purpose, as watchmen, prophets, spiritual men, he. These titles proved snares to many that inquired not narrowly into them; and especially because they preached placentia, pleasing things, soothed men up in their sins, sewed pillows under their elbows, daubed with untempered mortar, &c. Hence silly people lent both their ears to them (as birds do to the lure or whistle of the fowler), and were soon insnared.

The prophet is as a snare of a fowler, &c.] Seducers have their pithanology, their art to persuade before they teach, as the Valentinians had; they are cunning, and insinuate, as Zanchy testifieth of Laelius Socinus, that by propounding questions he sought to insnare him, semper interrogans quasi cuperet doceri, labouring to drop into him certain dangerous principles of the Samosatenian heresy. This sly trick they have learned of that old manslayer, the devil, who by these emissaries of his catcheth simple people, as the fowler doth the bird, by casting baits; or as the fisher, by one fish catcheth another, that he may feed upon both.

And hatred in the house of his God] Satanic hatred (as in the former verse), which these wicked watchmen do stir up against the true prophets, and faithful servants of God. Diodati carrieth it thus, These wicked watchmen are the chief occasion of God’s hatred, and of the rejection of his people, who are as it were his family. Luther, Wigandus, and others set this sense upon the whole verse (taking the former part to be spoken of the good watchmen). These ancient watchmen of Ephraim were joined with my God, and wholly for him; but those to this day are a snare, &c., and if there be any yet left of the former stock, they have left off to do good, and are become hateful, as Psalms 36:2-3, their iniquity is found to be hateful. There are that render the words by way of exclamation thus, O rem odiosam et abominandam in domo Dei! Oh, hideous and hateful! oh, how hath the devil bestirred him, to stir up such seducers, to do so much mischief among God’s people! There are those who interpret these two verses, not of false prophets, but of the true, who were looked upon as fools and madmen by the mad world; ever beside itself in point of salvation, &c. It is not for nought that Rivet saith, Hi duo versus saris sunt iutricati, These two verses are very intricate. And of this eighth verse Luther saith, that the brevity thereof hath caused obscurity. Drusius also saith, Locus iste difficilior est quam vulgus existimat, This text is harder than most men imagine.


Verse 9

Hosea 9:9 They have deeply corrupted [themselves], as in the days of Gibeah: [therefore] he will remember their iniquity, he will visit their sins.

Ver. 9. They have deeply corrupted themselves, as in the days of Gibeah] The people are as bad as possible, shamelessly, lawlessly wicked; nothing better then those sons of Belial, the men of Gibeah, that were sunk to sin’s bottom; totally transformed into sin’s image, extremely flagitious, so that a worse people could hardly be found upon the face of the earth, 19:12-30. As it was given in answer to a godly man who desired to know of God, why Phocas was set up for emperor? because there could not be a worse man found, and that the sins of Christians required it. Lipsius maketh mention of one Tubulus (about Cicero’s time) who was so desperately wicked, ut eius nomen non hominis sed vitii esse videretur, that his name seemed to be the name not of a man, but of wickedness itself. Lo, such were these men of Gibeah, 19:22-25, nothing behind Sodomites in sin; as Samaria now was nothing behind them, and is therefore fitly coupled with her sister Sodom, Ezekiel 16:46. The reason of all which is here given, their wicked watchmen; according to that, Isaiah 3:12, qui te ducunt, seducunt, "they which lead thee cause thee to err"; and again, Isaiah 9:16, "the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed." It is thought that the Gibeah here mentioned, and to which this verse relateth, was the same which, Joshua 21:17, is called Gebah; which was a city given to the priests, who being lords and owners of the town, were probably the ringleaders of the rest in that matchless villany; and so were of the number of those worst of sinners, "Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them," Romans 1:32.

Now will he remember their iniquities, and visit their sins] Now that they had filled up the measure of their fathers’ sins, Matthew 23:32, nay, sought to out sin them, et puduit non esse impudentes it was not disgusting to be shameful, (as Austin saith somewhere), God would forbear them no longer. Let this be noted, by such as being told of their vile and vicious practices, plead that they do but as their forefathers did. Certainly if the times be as ill as they were heretofore, they are even for that cause much the worse; and God will the sooner remember and visit, pay wicked men for the new and the old. See Hosea 8:13.


Verse 10

Hosea 9:10 I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the firstripe in the fig tree at her first time: [but] they went to Baalpeor, and separated themselves unto [that] shame; and [their] abominations were according as they loved.

Ver. 10. I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness] Where anything is good and sweet, because in a barren and solitary place. Hence they are said to have sucked honey out of the rock, Deuteronomy 32:13, that is, water as sweet as honey, because in such necessity. The vine and fig tree are of so great account, as that Jotham in his parable brings in the trees, offering the sovereign power to them, 9:10; 9:12. To these two noble and useful trees, and to their most seasonable and comfortable fruit, doth the Lord here compare Israel; to grapes in the wilderness, and to the firstripe figs, quae delicatis in summo sunt pretio, which are counted great dainties. Micah 7:1. Our Saviour came with great desire to the fig tree, Matthew 21:19, his soul desired the firstripe fruits; and though they had not been full ripe, he could have been glad of them, even of the firstfruits of the fig tree, at her first time, as it is here, in primordio eius, of those untimely fruits which the fig tree casteth when shaken of a mighty wind, Revelation 6:13. By this expression, then, is set forth God’s dear and free love to Israel, when he found him in a desert land, in the waste howling wilderness: he compassed him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye, Deuteronomy 32:10. All this and more he did for them, ex mero motu, out of pure and unexcited love, according to his own heart, according to the good pleasure of his will, he loved them because he loved them, Deuteronomy 7:7-8; Deuteronomy 10:15, in the wilderness especially, where they grieved him forty years together, and tempted him ten times, Numbers 14:22. But God had said of Israel, "He is my son, even my firstborn," Exodus 4:22, and so, "higher than the kings of the earth," Psalms 89:27. He had chosen him for his love, and now loved him for his choice. This son of his he called out of Egypt, to keep a feast to the Lord in the wilderness, Exodus 5:1, that is, to serve him, Exodus 4:23, to serve him acceptably, Hebrews 12:28, to set up his pure worship according to his own prescription in the mount, Exodus 25:40. This was altogether as delightful to God as grapes in the wilderness are to a wearied, parched traveller. And this the rather, because it was the kindness of their youth, the love of their espousals, which was as the firstripe of the figs, in the first time, at the first bearing; for the fig tree bears twice a year; and the Egyptian fig tree seven times a year, saith Solinus, Uno anno septies fructus sufficit. Now the firstripe fruits are ladies’ food, we say, or longing meat. God’s soul doth even long after the firstripe fruits, Micah 7:1, as we prize even nettle buds when they bud out first. If the vine do but flourish, the pomegranates bud, the tender grapes appear, Song of Solomon 6:11; Song of Solomon 7:12; he will pour his spirit upon the seed, and his blessing upon the buds, Isaiah 44:3. He liketh not those arbores autumnales, 1:12, autumn trees, that bud at latter end of harvest; he made choice of the almond tree, Jeremiah 1:11, because it blossometh first. So he calleth for firstfruits of the trees, and of the earth, in the sheaf, in the threshingfloor, in the dough, in the loaves; yea, for ears of corn dried by the fire, and wheat beaten out of the green ears, Leviticus 2:14, to signify how pleasant unto him is the primrose of our age.

But they went to Baalpeor] See Numbers 25:3. {See Trapp on "Numbers 25:3"} Heb. they went in to him, which obscoenum quid et turpe denotat, as Genesis 16:2; so Psalms 106:28, "They joined themselves also to Baalpeor, and ate the sacrifices of the dead," that is, sacrifices offered to the infernal gods, or to Pluto, the devil (whom the Phoenicians called Moth, or Death), in the behalf of the dead.

And separated themselves] Heb. Nazarited themselves, ad religiose colendum: they became votaries,

to that shame] i.e. to that shameful and abominable idol, that blushful Priapus, qui referebat viri pudendi speciem (Tarnov.): and whose worshippers are brought in, saying, Nos, pudore pulse, stamus sub Iove, coleis apertis. Bορβορουμεθα ταυτα λεγοντες, we rake a dunghill (as Cyril speaks in like case) in discoursing of such dunghill deities. Isidore interpreteth Baalpeor simulachrum ignominiae, an image of ignominy: and most sure it is that idolaters, left off their idols in deepest dangers, shall be ashamed of their expectation of help from them, Jeremiah 3:19; Jeremiah 11:13.

And their abominations were according as they loved] Or, according as they listed, so some interpret it: or, according as they loved the Moabitish women more or less, so they worshipped their idols: Solomon did the same. Or, they became as detestable as their very idols, which they loved and worshipped. Or, I abominate them as much now as ever I loved them before; and how much that was he had showed in the beginning of the verse. Now there is nothing that goeth more to God’s heart than the loss of his love upon an unthankful people. He had healed their backslidings in Egypt (where they had worshipped idols, Ezekiel 16:26), he had loved them freely and immensely. Now therefore that they should so slight such a love, to go after such a shame, and so to undo themselves for ever; this was monstrous ingratitude, this was an insufferable injury.


Verse 11

Hosea 9:11 [As for] Ephraim, their glory shall fly away like a bird, from the birth, and from the womb, and from the conception.

Ver. 11. As for Ephraim, their glory shall flee away as a bird] Heb. Ephraim, by a nominative absolute. Or, O Ephraim, as with a sigh, or a shriek, for grief and horror of their ensuing calamity, exilium, excidium, et exitium. "The Lord afflicts not willingly, nor grieves the children of men," Lamentations 3:33. It goes as much against the heart with him as against the hair with us; witness this pathetic expression. See also Hosea 11:8. Their glory, that is, their God, as in the next verse. Or, their children, as in the next words. They worshipped Baalpeor for fruitfulness; but it shall not do: for either they shall be punished with barrenness, or else with a luctuosa foecunditas (as Jerome saith of Loeta, who buried many children), a doleful fruitfulness.

Their glory shall flee away as a bird] Suddenly, swiftly, irrecoverably, shall their numerous posterity, which they looked upon as themselves multiplied and eternalized, be cut off, be snatched away by the hand of death; so that, Rachel-like, they shall refuse to be comforted, because her children were not: or as Cratisiclea, in Plutarch, who, seeing her dear children slain before her, and herself ready to be served in like sort, uttered only this word, Quo pueri, estis profecti? Poor children, what is become of you?

From the birth, and from the womb, and from the conception] In all these states shall the curse follow them close: either they shall not conceive, or die in the womb, or be stifled in the birth; they shall all prove Ichabods. It is God that gives strength to conceive, as he did to Sarah, Hannah, Elizabeth, &c. It is he that formeth us in the womb, and that by the book, Psalms 139:15-16, and preserveth us there, Job 10:8, when neither we can shift for ourselves, nor our parents provide for us. It is he that taketh us thence, Psalms 22:9-10, as a nurse or midwife doth the newborn babe. It is he that keepeth us in the cradle, and in childhood, when we are subject to a thousand deaths and dangers; for puerilitas est periculorum pelagus; it is a just wonder that any child attains to maturity. But if wicked men’s children do so, a soft they do (for "they are full of children, and leave the rest of their substance to their babes," Psalms 17:14), yet it follows,


Verse 12

Hosea 9:12 Though they bring up their children, yet will I bereave them, [that there shall] not [be] a man [left]: yea, woe also to them when I depart from them!

Ver. 12. Though they bring up children, yet will I bereave them] "If his children be multiplied, it is for the sword; and his offspring shall not be satisfied with bread," Job 27:14. This was fulfilled in Ahab’s seventy sons, beheaded together, 2 Kings 10:6-7, in whom be had vainly promised himself the establishment of his house, which God had threatened to root out: in Jehu and his posterity after the fourth generation: those Romans that went out against the enemy at the Porta scelerata wicked gate, (as it was thereupon called) and never returned again; and that Eckius Raschachius, a German captain, at the siege of Buda, A.D. 1541, whose son, a valiant young gentleman, being got out of the army without his father’s knowledge, bare himself so gallantly in fight against the enemy, in the sight of his father and the army, that he was highly commended of all men, and especially of his father, that knew him not at all. Yet before he could clear himself he was compassed in by the enemy, and valiantly fighting, slain. Raschachius, exceedingly moved with the death of so brave a man, ignorant how near he touched himself, turning about to the other captains said, This worthy gentleman, whatsoever he be, is worthy of eternal commendation, and to be most honourably buried by the whole army. As the rest of the captains were with like compassion approving his speech, the dead body of the unfortunate son rescued, was presented to the most miserable father; which caused all them that were there present to shed tears. But such a sudden and inward grief surprised the aged father, and struck so to his heart, that after he had stood a while speechless, with his eyes set in his head, he suddenly fell down dead.

Yea, woe also to them when I depart from them] This is indeed worse than all the rest; this is that only evil spoken of by Ezekiel: hell itself is nothing else but a separation from God’s presence, with the ill consequents thereof; and the tears of hell are not sufficient to bewail the loss of that beautiful vision. How miserable was Cain when cast off by God! Saul, when forsaken of him! David, when deserted, though but for a few months! Job, for a few years, Suidas saith seven! While God was graciously with him, and prospered him, he was Jobab (that same mentioned Genesis 36:34, as some think), but when under sense of God’s absence, contracted into Job. See the like, Genesis 17:5, Ruth 1:20. His desertion was far more comfortable than David’s; it was probational only, but David’s penal, for chastisement of some way of wickedness. O lay we hold upon God (as the spouse doth upon her Beloved), and cry, as the prophet did, "Lord, leave us not," Jeremiah 14:9. If he seem to be about, and his back be turned, cry aloud after him, as the blind man in the Gospel did, till Jesus stood: set up thy note, as Micah did after his lost idols, 18:24. Ye have taken away my gods, saith he, and what have I more? as if he should have said, I esteem all that you have left me as nothing, now that my gods are gone. Jerusalem, the joy of the whole earth, pleased not Absalom, unless he might see David’s face. God was no sooner gone from Miriam but the leprosy appeared in her face. But of this before.


Verse 13

Hosea 9:13 Ephraim, as I saw Tyrus, [is] planted in a pleasant place: but Ephraim shall bring forth his children to the murderer.

Ver. 13. Ephraim, as I saw Tyrus, is planted in a pleasant place] And therefore pleaseth himself as not forsaken of God. But he may be angry enough with those that yet outwardly prosper; as he was with the old world buried in security; with Sodom, who had fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness; with the land of Shinar (where Babel was built, Genesis 11:2-4), fruitful beyond credulity, as Herodotus and Pliny testify; with Tyre, a maritime and magnificent city, planted in a pleasant place, in the very heart of the sea; as Venice is at this day, media insuperabilis unda, environed with her embracing Neptune, to whom (as the ceremony of her throwing a ring into the sea implies) she marrieth herself with yearly nuptials, and hath for her motto, Nec fluctu nec flatu movetur, Nor winds nor waves can stir her. Of the pomp, pride, and populousness of Tyre read Ezekiel 26:1-21; Ezekiel 27:1-36; Ezekiel 28:1-19. Lo, such a one was Ephraim, when ripe for ruin, near to an utter downfall. What can be more fair and flourishing than a grainfield or vineyard a little before the harvest, the vintage? Physicians say that the uttermost degree of bodily health is next unto sickness. Glass, or other metals, cast into the fire, shine most when ready to melt and run. This was Tyre’s case, this was Ephraim’s, pleasantly planted, but marked out for destruction; as a carpenter cometh to a wood, and with his axe marketh out the fairest trees for felling. Ephraim is the worse because he seeth Tyre yet prosper. But God will take that from heathen Tyre that he will not take from Ephraim; and the sunshine of prosperity doth but ripen the sins of them both for divine vengeance.

They shall bring forth children to the murderers] As to God’s executioners; and so show themselves not parents, but parricides; because they betray their children (as Babel did by her idolatry, Psalms 137:8, Isaiah 13:8) into the hands of the enemy. Wherein they are more cruel than that false schoolmaster in Italy (mentioned by Livy and Florus), that brought forth his scholars, the flower of the nobility and gentry there, to Hannibal; who, if he had not been more merciful than otherwise, they had all been murdered. But what shall we say of such wretched parents, as bring forth children to that old manslayer, the devil? and how shall such undone children curse their careless parents in hell, throughout all eternity! If the Lord also could say of those poor children that were sacrificed to Moloch (the Chaldee paraphrase understands this text of those children), "Thou hast slain my children, and delivered them to cause them to pass through the fire for them" (namely, for the images of the foresaid idols), Ezekiel 16:21, what will he say, or rather, what will he not say, to those bloody parents, that carry their children with them, to Satan’s slaughter house?


Verse 14

Hosea 9:14 Give them, O LORD: what wilt thou give? give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts.

Ver. 14. Give them, O Lord: what wilt thou give?] This question implieth abundance of affection in the prophet, praying for this forlorn people devoted to destruction. It is the property of gracious spirits to be more sensible of, and more deeply affected with, the calamities that are coming upon the wicked, than those wicked ones themselves are; as Daniel was for Nebuchadnezzar, whose dream he had interpreted, Daniel 4:19, and as Habakkuk was for the Chaldeans, whose destruction he had afore prophesied, Habakkuk 3:16. Hosea likewise (out of great commiseration of Ephraim’s direful and dreadful condition) sets himself to pray for them; though himself seems set at a stand, and in a manner nonplussed, that he cannot well tell what to ask for them. God once made a fair offer to a foul sinner, even to Ahaz, that sturdy stigmatic, Isaiah 7:11, "Ask thee a sign of the Lord thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above. But Ahaz said" (churlishly enough), "I will not ask, neither will I try the Lord," Hosea 9:12, he would none of God’s kindness, which yet the Lord there heapeth upon him, Hosea 9:14, that where sin abounded grace might superabound. Had our prophet had but half such an offer, or any the least such encouragement, oh how gladly would he have embraced it, how hastily would he have catched at it, as those Syrians did at Ahab’s kind words, 1 Kings 20:33? But he, considering the severity and certainty of God’s judgments denounced against them, Hosea 9:12-13, and being much amazed thereat, sets himself to intercede and make request for his deplored countrymen; as Samuel did for Saul, rejected by God, 1 Samuel 16:1, as Paul did for the obdurate Jews, Romans 11:3. And because he saw that he could not obtain of the impartial judge of the world to let go such an impenitent people altogether unpunished, he begs for them, that of two evils they may suffer the least; and rather bring forth no children at all, or children that may die as soon as born (this had been threatened Hosea 9:11-12), than "bring forth children to the murderer": it being the greatest misery that can befall a tender hearted parent, to see his dear children butchered before his eyes, as Zedekiah and Mauricius, the emperor, did; and before them both the king of Edom, whose eldest son was by the king of Moab sacrificed upon the wall, in his father’s sight, 2 Kings 3:27, Amos 2:1. Thus Rabbi Kimchi giveth the sense of this text: Give, Lord, what thou wilt give? viz. that they may suffer in the womb, or at least in their infancy, that which they should otherwise suffer by the enemies’ sword. Confer Jeremiah 20:18, Luke 23:28, Ecclesiastes 4:2, Job 3:10-11. The prophet knew well that God is never so bitterly bent against a people or person, but that something he will yield to faithful and fervent prayer, Matthew 24:20.

Flectitur iratus voce rogante Deus.


Verse 15

Hosea 9:15 All their wickedness [is] in Gilgal: for there I hated them: for the wickedness of their doings I will drive them out of mine house, I will love them no more: all their princes [are] revolters.

Ver. 15. All their wickedness is in Gilgal] We have had the prophet’s prayer: follows now the Lord’s answer in this and the following verse, where we have the former threats repeated, to show that God was unchangeably resolved upon their ruin; and that, first, for their idolatry, secondly, for their other vile practices, thirdly, for the apostasy of their princes: all this here. Their idolatry was the worse, because committed at Gilgal, where God had done much for their forefathers; {See Trapp on "Hosea 4:15"} The quality of the place adds much to the greatness of the sin, "In the land of uprightness they will deal unjustly," Isaiah 26:10, "the faithful city is become a harlot," Isaiah 1:21; Isaiah 5:7, he looked for judgment, but behold a scab. The devil desireth to set himself up in such places as have been formerly eminent for God’s sincere service, as Gilgal once was, 1 Samuel 10:8; 1 Samuel 11:15; for the ark of the covenant was there, which these idolaters had not. So in the holy land (as they still call it), which is possessed by Mahometans and Papists: so Wittenberg, where Luther first began to reform, is now deformed by divers errors and heresies, as Polanus observeth. Wilkinson against the Familists reports the like of Colchester in Essex.

For there I hated them] Angry I was with them before, and grieved for their other misdoings; but their idolatry hath enraged me with a holy hatred of them, and that there, where I showed greatest love to their forefathers. God thinks the worse of such places wherein idolaters rest and roost; like as he thinks the better of the towns and houses where his faithful servants inhabit, as Isaiah 49:16, their walls are ever before him.

For the wickedness of their doings, I will drive them out] Revenge and expulsion is the next effect of hatred. There is a great deal of other wicked doings where idolatry (that wickedness with a witness, as it is herd styled) is set up. Surely of this abominable thing we may well say, as St James doth of discord, "Where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evll work," James 3:16. But God will not endure such doings in his house: David would not in his, Psalms 101:7. Solomon entertained Jeroboam into his house and service, because he saw the young man was suitable for the work, 1 Kings 11:28, but he proved a mischief to and against his house. Many today scruple not to entertain and harbour such as are serviceable, though otherwise their religion be either a Popish puppet and calf worship, or a flat irreligion. These have little of God in them.

I will drive them out of mine house, saith he, I will love them no more] A fearful sentence, like that Jeremiah 16:13, I will show them no favour: this was worse to them than their captivity there threatened. Ephraim had a great deal of outward peace and prosperity, but love they had none; because none of those graces that flow from election and accompany salvation. These are God’s love tokens, that all must court. But oh! take heed (saith one) if thou addest any more to thy wickednesses, lest that this dreadful sentence be pronounced in heaven against thee, I will love thee no more, Heb. I will add no more to love thee.

All their princes are revolters] Col sarehem sorerim, an elegance past the capability of translation. The princes were all rebellious and refractory, uncounsellable, unpersuadable ( απειθουντες, as the Seventy render it), like that king of Scotland that would seldom ask counsel, but never follow any; so wedded he was to his own will. (Dan. Hist. of Eng. fol. 207). Elati superbia volebant superiores esse verbo, saith Luther upon this text. Jeroboam-like they would stretch out their hand against a prophet, 1 Kings 13:4, that should cry against their altars, and deal plainly with them, as Hosea here doth; testifying to their faces that they were all apostates, and made Israel sin. Princes should be the lord keepers of both tables of the law; as it was written upon the sword of Charles the Great ( Decem praeceptorum custos Caxolus); but when they are naught, as here, the people take after them. Principis vita censura est et cynosura.


Verse 16

Hosea 9:16 Ephraim is smitten, their root is dried up, they shall bear no fruit: yea, though they bring forth, yet will I slay [even] the beloved [fruit] of their womb.

Ver. 16. Ephraim is smitten] As a tree that hath received a deadly wound, or that hath the bark pulled off it, so that the sap cannot find the way to the branches; or that is blasted, as the fig tree in the Gospel was by Christ’s curse; and as a vine smitten by great hailstones, and beaten down to the ground. "The Lord shall smite Israel," saith another prophet, "as a reed is shaken in the water, and he shall root up Israel," &c., 1 Kings 14:15, root and branch in one day.

The root is dried up, they shall bear no fruit] "The root of the righteous shall not be moved," Proverbs 12:3. "The root of the matter is found in me," saith Job, Job 19:28. "The holy seed shall be the substance thereof," Isaiah 6:13; "as a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them." The Duke of Florence gave for his ensign a great tree with many spreading boughs, one of them being cut off with this posy, Uno avulso non deficit alter Aureus (Virg.). But it is otherwise with the ungodly; as it was with Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel 4:14, nay, worse; for not so much as a stump of their roots is left in the earth, but they are written in the earth, Jeremiah 17:13, written childless, Jeremiah 22:30, their root is dried up, the parents shall perish; they shall bear no fruit, beget no children, which are the fruit of the womb, Deuteronomy 28:11; Deuteronomy 28:18, Luke 1:42. Doeg’s doom shall befall them, Psalms 52:5, "God shall destroy thee for ever; he shall take thee away, and pluck thee out of thy dwelling place, and root thee out of the land of the living. Selah."

Yea, though they bring forth] As Ahab did seventy sons, after that God had threatened his utter extirpation, following the work of generation so much the rather; {See Trapp on "Hosea 9:13"}

Yet I will slay] For it is God that lets in and sets on the enemy; it is he that killeth and maketh alive, 1 Samuel 2:6.

Even the beloved fruit of their womb] Heb. their desires, or their desirable ones, their dearest children, called by Cicero also his desideria, Valete, mea desideria, valete (Cic.). The Latins seem to have their filius, a son, from φιλος, beloved: there is an ocean of love in a father’s heart; though the more he loveth the less he is loved sometimes (as David by Absalom), and is sure, if he belong to God, to be crossed in his earthly idol. Children are certain cares, but uncertain comforts; they may prove as Augustus’ three children did, whom he called his three ulcers or cancers, Tres vomicas tria carcinomata (Sueton.).


Verse 17

Hosea 9:17 My God will cast them away, because they did not hearken unto him: and they shall be wanderers among the nations.

Ver. 17. My God will cast them away] My God, not their God, for they are castaways and apostates; see the like, 1 John 5:17, and learn to stick to God the closer when others start from him; and to secure our own interest in a general defection, by siding with God, and subscribing, as here the prophet doth, to his perfect righteousness in the rejection and destruction of reprobates.

Will cast them away] With disdain and detestation, as vile and execrable. He will do it, saith the prophet here, not without a great deal of grief, as finding that God was fully resolved, and would not alter. The eternity of Israel will not lie, nor repent, 1 Samuel 15:29; for he is not a man, that he should repent, saith Samuel to Saul, that castaway; and it is very dreadful; as indeed it is for any wicked men to have such as have interest in God to declare against them; since "the secret of the Lord is with them that fear him," Psalms 25:14, and their sentence is not to be slighted. God’s messengers especially, out of their acquaintance with their Master’s proceedings, can foresee and foretell a punishment.

Because they did not hearken unto him] Haec notabilis est sententia, This is a notable sentence, saith Luther upon the text; and worthy to be written upon all our walls and windows. Death came into the world by the ear, so must life; for it is, Hear, and your souls shall live; and they that will not hear the instruction of life are doomed to destruction, as were Eli’s sons, 1 Samuel 2:25, and Amaziab, 2 Chronicles 25:16. A heavy ear is a singular judgment, Isaiah 6:10, an uncircumcised ear a forerunner of ruin, Jeremiah 6:10-11. Oh pray God to pull off that filthy foreskin, and to give us a hearing ear (that way to wisdom), an understanding heart, such as Solomon begged, 1 Kings 3:9. Pray that he would bore our ears, as Psalms 40:6, and make the bore big enough, that we may not only hear, but hearken; listen as for life. "Hear and give ear, be not proud, for the Lord hath spoken it," Jeremiah 13:15 : when God hath spoken once let us hear it twice, as David did, Psalms 62:11; he preached over the sermon again to himself at home. We must do with the word’s directions, as we do with oil to a stiff joint; rub and chafe them on our hearts by deep and frequent meditation and prayer; lest else we hear with these in the text,

Because they did not hearken unto him, they shall be wanderers among the nations] Heb. Nodedim: Cain’s curse shall befall them. "A fugitive and a vagabond shall I be upon the earth," Genesis 4:12; but could not wander so wide as to miss hell, nor flee so far as from his own evil conscience. Lo, this is the case of these wandering Jews, a dejected and despised nation, exiled out of the world by a common consent of all people, till God turn again their captivity as the streams in the south, till he gather the outcasts of Israel.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Hosea 9:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/hosea-9.html. 1865-1868.

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