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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical

Hosea 9

 

 

Verses 1-17

B. The carrying away into Assyria. Decrease of the People

Hosea 9:1-17

1Rejoice not,[FN1] Israel,

Unto exultation, like the heathen,

For thou hast committed whoredom, departing from thy God,

Thou hast loved the reward of whoredom,

On all corn-floors.

2The threshing-floor and the (oil-) press will not nourish them,[FN2]

And the new wine will deceive them.

3They will not remain in the land of Jehovah,

But Ephraim will return to Egypt,

And in Assyria he will eat (things) unclean.

4They will not pour out wine for Jehovah,

For their offerings will not please Him;

Like bread of mourning (their food will be) to them,

All who eat it will defile themselves:

For their bread is only for themselves,

It does not come into the house of Jehovah.

5 What will ye do on the day of the assembly,

And on the day of the feast of Jehovah?

6 For, behold, they have gone away because of the desolation:

Egypt will gather them,

Memphis will bury them.

Their precious[FN3] things of silver,

Thistles will inherit them;

Thorns (will be) in their tents.

7 The days of punishment have come,

The days of retribution,

Israel will discover:

The prophet is foolish,

The man of the spirit is crazed—

Because of the greatness of thy guilt,

And because the enmity is so great.[FN4]

8 Ephraim is a searcher (after revelations) with my God:

(As to) the Prophet, the snare of the fowler

Is upon all his paths:

There is enmity in the house of his God.

9 They have wrought deep corruption[FN5] as in the days of Gibeah,

He will remember their guilt,

He will visit (upon them) their sins.

10 I found Israel as grapes in the[FN6] desert,

Like the early fruit on the fig tree in its first (bearing) I found your fathers,

Yet they went after Baal-Peor,

And consecrated themselves to shame,

And became an abomination, like their paramour.

11Ephraim—his glory will fly away as a bird;

No bearing, no pregnancy, no conception.

12Even if they rear up their sons,

I will bereave them of men,

For, indeed, woe is to them,

When I depart from them!

13Ephraim, like as I saw Tyre,

(Is) planted by the sea,

Yet must Ephraim lead out his sons to the murderer.

14Give to them, O Lord:—what wilt Thou give?

Give a barren womb and dry breasts.

15 All their evil is in Gilgal—

For there have I hated them;

For the evil of their deeds

Will I drive them out of my house,

Will not love them any more;

All their princes are apostates.

16 Ephraim is smitten,

Their root is withered,

They will not bear fruit;

And even if they should bear,

I will slay the darlings of their womb.

17 My God will abhor them,

Because they did not hear Him,

And they will be fugitives among the nations.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

Hosea 9:1-2. אֶל־גְּיל intensifies the notion of rejoicing=unto exultation (comp. Job 3:22). According to what follows it is rejoicing over a bountiful harvest. It was this that Israel expected and for which they would rejoice. But such joy was to be taken from them. כָּעַמִּים Keil: “Israel, after the heathen fashion, attributed the blessing of harvest to the gods, and rejoices in it as in a gift of the gods, after the manner of the heathen.” That this is the meaning is evident from what follows, in which I discover not so much the ground why Israel should not rejoice, as an explanation of the כָּעַמִּים, especially in the second member: thou hast loved. The lover’s reward is the reward which the paramour gives to his mistress, or here the idol to its servant, the people. The addition: upon all corn-floors, shows what is regarded as that reward: it is that which is laid upon these floors, the fruits of harvest, which Israel considers to be the gift of the idols, as their reward for serving them (comp. Hosea 2:7-14). Press: probably =oil-press, as new wine is specified afterwards; comp. also Hosea 2:10-23; corn, wine, and oil are therefore mentioned together.

Hosea 9:3 shows how this will be brought about; it is not owing to the failure of the harvest, but to a captivity: thus they will lose their harvest which had grown. Return to Egypt, etc.: Keil is here undoubtedly correct when he says: “The expulsion is described as a return to Egypt, as in Hosea 8:13; but Assyria is mentioned immediately afterwards as the real land of banishment. That this threat is not to be understood as implying that they will be carried away to Egypt as well as to Assyria, but that Egypt is referred to here and in Hosea 9:6, just as in Hosea 8:13 simply as a type of the land of captivity, so that Assyria is represented as a new Egypt, may be clearly seen from the very words of our verse, in which the eating of unclean bread in Assyria is mentioned as the immediate consequence of a return to Egypt, whereas neither here nor in Hosea 9:6 is there any allusion to a carrying away to Assyria at all; but, on the contrary, in Hosea 9:6, Egypt only is introduced as the place where they are to find their grave. This becomes still more evident from the fact that Hosea speaks throughout of Assyria as the rod of God’s wrath for his apostate people (comp. Hosea 5:13; Hosea 10:6; Hosea 10:14). Finally, it is clearly stated in Hosea 11:5 that Israel will not return to Egypt, but that Assyria will be their king. By the allusions to Egypt, therefore, the carrying away into Assyria is simply represented as a state of bondage and oppression similar to Israel’s residence in Egypt, or merely the threatening of Deuteronomy 28:68, transferred to Ephraim.” They will eat (what is) defiled: partly because the legal prohibitions with relation to particular kinds of food could be observed only with difficulty in a foreign country, and especially because with the cessation of the sacrificial rites in general, the offering of the first-fruits must cease also, and all food not sanctified by the offering of the first fruits was unclean to Israel. This is completed in Hosea 9:4.

Hosea 9:4. וְלֹא יֶעֶרְבוּ לֹו: will not be well pleasing to Him; therefore their sacrifices must be taken as the subject in spite of the accents. The meaning is: the sacrifices would not please Him, and therefore none are brought. Israel could not sacrifice to God in exile when He had withdrawn from them his gracious presence. Like bread of mourning to them (will be their food). Bread that was partaken of where a dead body lay was considered unclean, because the dead defiled for seven days the house, and all that came in contact with them; therefore: all who eat it will defile themselves. Their bread will be לְנַפְשָׁם=for the support of life, and therefore it must be eaten by them, but it does not come into the house of God to be consecrated.

Hosea 9:5. Festal days are no longer possible. To attempt to distinguish between מֹועֵד and חַג (the former = the three annual pilgrim feasts, the latter = the other feasts, or, specially, the great harvest-feast, that of Tabernacles), is arbitrary. The expressions are probably synonymous. The notion is only emphasized by the second expression. מועד regards the feasts outwardly, as gatherings; חג rather denoting the rejoicing, or festal character of those occasions.

[Keil: “Egypt is mentioned as the place of banishment, in the same sense as in Hosea 9:3. There they will all find their graves. מֹף or נֹף, as in Isaiah 19:13; Jeremiah 2:16; Jeremiah 44:1; Ezekiel 30:13-16, probably contracted from מְנֹף, answers rather to the Coptic Membe, Memphe, than to the old Egyptian, Men-nefr, i.e., mansio bona, the profane name of the city of Memphis, the ancient capital of Lower Egypt, the ruins of which are to be seen on the west bank of the Nile, to the south of Old Cairo.” Memphis was a celebrated burying-place of the Egyptians. The Anglo-American Commentators generally assume a literal allusion to Egypt.—M.] מַחְמַד לְכסְפָּם = the costliness of their silver [see Gram. note], probably = their houses filled and decked with silver, comp. the parallel אָהָלֵיהֶם. The growth of thorns and thistles is an image of utter desolation (comp. Isaiah 34:13).

Hosea 9:7-8. The Prophet is foolish. This is in sense dependent upon יֵדְעוּ. False prophets are meant, who flattered the people, promising them only good. These will be shown to be fools. Even the false prophet is a man of the spirit, but it is an evil spirit that possesses him (רוּחַ שֶׁקֶר, 1 Kings 22:22). On account of the greatness of thy guilt, this will happen, namely, that mentioned at the beginning of the verse. מַשְׂטֵמָה, ambush, enmity, namely, against God and his prophets, as is explained in Hosea 9:8. Keil: a searcher is Ephraim with my God. צֹפֶה is used of the “looking out” of the prophet while waiting for a divine revelation. The meaning is: Israel searches out divine revelations along with “my God,” i.e., the God of the prophet. He trusts in his own prophets, not in those inspired by Jehovah. Others find in צפה the notion of lying in wait. God would then be the object of the lying in wait of an enemy. He would be so in the person of the prophets, for whom, according to the following hemistich, snares were set (Ewald, Umbreit, Meier). But the prep. עִם would not suit. The notion: lying in wait for God, is also strange. In the second hemistich נָבִיא could be the false prophet. The snare of the fowler is upon all his paths would = he brings the people to ruin by all his actions. A snare is in the house of his God, would then be=in the house of the god of the false prophet. But it is better to understand the verse of the enmity which the true prophet must everywhere meet=As to the prophet, the snare, etc. “In the house of his God=in the temple.

Hosea 9:9. הֶעֱמיקוּ שִׁחֲתוּ, literally, they have made deep, they have wrought corruption = they have wrought deep corruption as in the days of Gibeah, when the shameful deed was done (recorded in Judges 19 ff.) to the Levite’s concubine, which resulted in the almost complete extermination of the Tribe of Benjamin. Such conduct must be visited with punishment. Comp. Hosea 8:13.

Hosea 9:10. Israel sinned grievously not only in Gibeah but earlier also, when God yet took such delight in him. His disposition now is shown to be that which he ever had. So much the more deserved is the punishment. Like grapes, etc.=As men prize grapes, etc, so did I prize thee. In the desert applies both to the grapes and to the finding, since grapes can be found in the desert, only when one is in the desert. An allusion to Deuteronomy 32:10. In its beginning, that Isaiah, when it begins to bear. Baal-Peor is here local, according to Keil, since אֶל is wanting; therefore: to the place of Baal-Peor; elsewhere: to the house of Baal-Peor. וַיִּנָּזְרוּ, the same word, used designedly, as that employed to express consecration to Jehovah. They became Nazarites to Baal-Peor, to shame. The worship of Baal-Peor is alluded to. [See Numbers 25:1-5.] The worship of Baal was then Israel’s crowning offense, and the old Baal-Peor worship is now renewed.

Hosea 9:11-12. They shall increase no longer. The unchaste worship of Baal may be referred to, whose natural punishment is the decrease of the population.

Hosea 9:13. Difficult. Keil: Ephraim is the object of רָאִיתִי, and precedes on account of the emphasis laid upon it=I have selected Ephraim for a Tyre=I would make it as glorious as Tyre. [Comp. Genesis 22:8 for a similar use of רָאָה.—M.] To describe its glory more particularly, we have the addition: planted in a meadow, a place favorable to growth. Wünsche: Ephraim is the subject to be connected with “planted”=Ephraim is planted in a meadow. The intervening clause he translates: like as I look upon Tyre; and the meaning is: Ephraim blooms like the lordly Tyre, wherever men may look. But this is clearly unnatural. The meaning would rather be: Ephraim is as when I look upon Tyre, i.e., when I look on Ephraim, it is as when I look on Tyre. Others (Ewald) by changing the reading to ׃לְצוּרָה in shape, as to form, outward appearance. Others take צוֹר in the sense of the Arabic: a palm = Ephraim, as I beheld (it), is a palm. [The opinion approved above is apparently that entertained by the translators in E. V. It is that approved by most expositors, and is the most obvious sense suggested by the words.—M.]

Hosea 9:14. According to many expositors, this is an intercession of the prophet: May the Lord not let the mothers bring forth, rather than that the sons should be destined to death. But an intercession would scarcely suit in such a severe announcement of judgment. Therefore others consider it a prayer that other punishment may be inflicted. An important element in the punishment is the unfruitfulness of marriages. The thought of ver 11 would then be essentially resumed.

[Henderson: “Gilgal, being one of the chief places of idolatrous worship, the wickedness of the nation might be said to be concentrated in it.” This is the usual explanation.—M.] From my house = out of my congregation ( Hosea 8:1).

Hosea 9:16. The prophet beholds the future as already present (comp. Hosea 9:11); only that here the image of a tree which can no longer put forth its shoots, is first employed. In the last member, however: and even if they should bear, no figure is employed.

Hosea 9:17 completes the whole, by giving the ground of the punishment, and stating that punishment clearly to be banishment among the nations, when the people should be fugitives.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. The judgment stands here altogether in the foreground, and the punishment which the people are to expect is that they will be carried away into Assyria. That event is here indicated as “a return to Egypt,” not literally, but rather symbolically ( Hosea 9:3). The captivity is regarded not so much as an outward fact, but according to its internal aspect, as the direct negation of that which God had done to Israel in leading them out of Egypt. Several features in the Exodus made it of special significance to Israel. One was the great and undeniable mercy of God. Viewing it more closely, it was a merciful liberation of Israel from bondage, from complete subjection to a foreign power. It was thus the condition and the beginning of Israel’s existence as an independent nation. But not only so: God thus brought this people, under special obligations to Him. As He had owned them to be his so expressly and emphatically in Egypt, and separated them from Egypt, they became by his leading them forth justly and legitimately his inheritance. And although this specific relation of Israel towards God did not assume its normal form until the giving of the Law, yet the leading of Israel out of Egypt lay at the foundation of their exaltation to become his people. Finally, it was the condition of, and the first step towards, their introduction into that country which God had promised to give to Israel as his people, and had therefore a fundamental significance in their history. Now the Assyrian Captivity is the direct contrast to this, and is therefore represented as a “return to Egypt.” It is as signal a display of God’s displeasure and wrath as the former was of his mercy. It is the loss of freedom, a reduction to a state of bondage, and a surrender to the power of a foreign enemy. Israel is only free through his God, and remains so only so long as he serves Him; by apostasy from Him, he therefore forfeited that freedom, and therefore at last must lose it, and forego an independent existence. This surrender to the power of the heathen stands further in the strongest contrast to Israel’s relation to God as his people. They are thus really dismissed from this position by God, and abandoned by Him as his people (comp. Hosea 9:15; Hosea 9:17). They are in fact made a “Not-My-People.” Israel ignored the Law given at Sinai, and Jehovah ignores the deliverance from Egypt; and, lastly, the Assyrian Captivity is the loss of that country in which Israel’s position as God’s people had its material basis, as the deliverance from Egypt looked towards the possession of that country. Comp. Hosea 9:3. And as the Promised Land was essentially one of divine blessing, the loss of this blessing is naturally referred to with special emphasis. If Israel has, like the heathen, ascribed such a blessing to false gods, it cannot enjoy the land presented to it as God’s people, but as it became like the heathen, it shall return again into their countries. With the loss of the “Land of Jehovah,” however, is united, as a peculiarly distressing consequence, the loss of the sacrificial service, and of the sanctification in life thereby conditioned. Israel is sent away into the land of impurity. In this the Captivity is like a return to Egypt. Already in this we hear the sigh of the banished after the Holy Land. Those against whom the objurgatory discourse is primarily directed will, it is true, feel least the impossibility of serving God. And yet even they cannot deny their Israelitish character, and least of all in a strange land. That which they now do not wish to do, or to be able to do, will hereafter be the occasion of their bitter sorrow—and thus it ever is.

2. “All nations rejoice over and enjoy a rich harvest (comp. Isaiah 9:2), because they see in the bountiful harvest a sign and pledge of the divine favor, demanding gratitude to the Giver. If now the heathen ascribe these gifts to their gods and thank them after their manner, they do this in the ignorance of their hearts, without being specially guilty in so doing, because they live without the light of divine revelation. If, on the contrary, Israel rejoiced in the blessings of harvest like the heathen, and ascribed them to Baal ( Hosea 2:7), God could not leave unpunished this denial of his gracious benefits” (Keil). It amounts to the same thing when one generation ascribes such blessings partly to their own labor and partly to “nature, and accordingly its joy is purely “natural,” altogether devoid of gratitude to the great Giver, and manifests itself necessarily in all kinds of self-indulgence.

3. When the judgment comes, the falseness of the false prophets becomes manifest. By these are, without doubt, to be understood those who, aping the position of Prophets of Jehovah, came forward as the pretended announcers of the divine will, and as the advisers of the people, especially of the rulers, but in their flattery of the people would pronounce good and justify everything, and therefore predicted prosperity and deliverance ( Ezekiel 13:10), and never uttered a word of earnest rebuke. They were trusted only too well. On the contrary, the true Prophets had to meet everywhere snares and enmity. Men know too late who are their true friends, and who their false.

4. The true prophet must, it is true, enter into God’s designs, not merely of mercy, but also of righteous judgment; must announce them, so far as they have been revealed; and he may even desire their fulfillment, in order that a limit may be set to sin, and God’s glory be spread. Yet it must he observed that when the prophets invoke judgment, they do not implore the destruction and death of the individual sinner, but only the “political” death, the destruction of a godless kingdom, because it had filled up the measure of its sins and thus became amenable to judgment, concerning which there could be no doubt in the prophet’s mind.

5. With respect to Israel’s conduct towards God, we are to observe the retrospect of former times ( Hosea 9:9-10, comp. Hosea 10:7; Hosea 11:1-2). The sins of the present are thus shorn of their individuality and shown to form part of a whole complexity of sin. These are only a mode of manifestation, a new phase, of the same spirit, which was before, and had been always, displayed. As with the displays of God’s love to Israel, so with the sins of Israel against God. Instead of an atomizing and mechanical view of this subject, we have a dynamic one, which alone is justifiable in the ethical sphere. From this conception of the evil, according to which its several manifestations of a constant fundamental tendency in the minds of a single nation, no great step is needed to reach the assumption of a constant disposition to evil in mankind generally, of hereditary sin, in which the individual with his special offenses only confirms and realizes the sinful disposition of the race.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

Wurt. Summ.: Hosea 9:1-2. Sincere Christians should, in the blessings of God, so rejoice in the Lord, as to acknowledge that all good is from Him alone, to whom they must therefore give thanks, and so use them as not abusing them, but employ them to God’s glory. Then will God the Lord not cease to do them good.

Hosea 9:3. Starke: That is the Lord’s land where God is truly worshipped and honored.

Hosea 9:4-5. Pfaff. Bibelwerk: When the measure of iniquity is full, God at last takes away the lamp of his Word from its place. Beware, then, you who have the truth, lest darkness fall upon you.

[Pusey: It is in human nature to neglect to serve God when He wills it, and then to neglect to serve Him when He forbids it. The more solemn the day and the more total man’s exclusion, the more manifest God’s withdrawal.—M.]

[ Hosea 9:6. Matt. Henry: Those that think pre sumptuously to outrun God’s judgments are likely enough to meet their deaths when they had hoped to save their lives.—M.]

Hosea 9:7. We usually discover too late who are our true friends and who our false.

Pfaff. Bibelwerk: False prophets are a token of God’s wrath burning over a church or nation.

[Pusey: The man of the world and the Christian judge of the same things by clear contrary rules, use them for quite contrary ends. The slave of pleasure counts him mad who foregoes it; the wealthy trader counts him mad who gives away profusely. In these days profusion for the love of Christ has been counted a ground for depriving a man of his property. One or the other is mad, and worldlings must count the Christian mad, or they must own themselves to be so most fearfully ( Wisdom of Solomon 5:3-6). The sinner first neglects God; then, as the will of God is brought before him, he willfully disobeys Him; then, when he finds God’s will irreconcilably at variance with his own, or when God chastens him, he hates Him, and hates Him greatly.—M.]

Hosea 9:8. Let it not offend you, if, for the sake of the truth, you must suffer persecution. “Even so persecuted they the prophets who were before you.”

Hosea 9:12. When God is graciously disposed to wards us, He is our Light, our Way, our Life, our Love, our Comfort, our Joy, our Shepherd, our Physician, our Bridegroom, our Father, and our. Redeemer. If He departs from us, all this is gone, like as when the sun sets and darkness covers all.

Spur: When the divine wrath has begun to burn, it rises, so to speak, by degrees. And God commonly proceeds by beginning at what is most external to us, whose loss we would not deeply feel, but ever advances further towards that which is dearer and of more moment, until at last He strikes at our very selves. If God is not gracious towards us, He is angry; He can sustain no intermediate relation.

Hosea 9:15. God refuses at last to grant to unfaithful children even the privileges of his house. He at the same time disinherits them. When God ceases to love us we are lost. Hence nothing is more necessary than the prayer: Withdraw not thy love from us. Nothing is more precious than the power to say: I am persuaded that nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord.

Hosea 9:16. Whole families, even whole nations die out through God’s judgments!

Footnotes:

FN#1 - This is false grammatically, as אַל is always followed by the future.—M.]

FN#2 - Hosea 9:2.—בָּהּ. The people are here regarded as a woman. [Tanchum gives the rule that “in continued discourse when a nation or people is spoken of either the fem. suffix agreeing with עֵדָה: congregation, or the masc. agreeing with עַם: people, may be used, as also that the singular may be used of them viewed as a body, and the plural when they are regarded as consisting of distinct individuals.” So Ewald as to the gender, making the suffix relate to “die treulose Gemeine.”-—M.]

FN#3 - Hosea 9:6.—מַתְמַד is in the construct state with לְ.

FN#4 - Hosea 9:7.—וְרַבָּה. The sentence continues as though a conjunction [because] preceded. The conjunction is implied in צל.

FN#5 - Hosea 9:9.—For the asyndeton here, see note on Hosea 5:2. It is best to take שִׁתֲתוּ intransitively, and not understand an object, e.g. דַּרְכֵּיהֶם, which some supply.—M.]

FN#6 - Hosea 9:13.—ואֶפִרַיִם forms the apodosis which introduces a contrast to the protasis. להְוֹצִיא=must lead forth. See Ewald, 237, e. [The literal rendering is: But Ephraim (is) to lead forth, etc.—M.]

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Hosea 9:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/hosea-9.html. 1857-84.

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