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Bible Commentaries

Matthew Poole's English Annotations
on the Holy Bible

Hosea 9

 

 

Verse 1

HOSEA CHAPTER 9

The distress and captivity of Israel for their sins, especially their idolatry.

Rejoice not: this might seem a morose humour of a discontented, sullen preacher: what! forbid a people to rejoice when things prosper with them? when should a people rejoice if not then? The prophet, who had a deeper reach, and took a larger prospect of things. had good cause to advise, or warn, or forbid as he doth, for he saw more cause to grieve than to rejoice, and to mourn than to be merry; the reason you will have presently.

O Israel; you of the ten tribes.

For joy; for any thing that is counted just matter of joy; though at present you prosper either under Jeroboam the Second’s victorious arms, or under Menahem, and the safety he hath procured by a confederacy with Assyria, though at other times these might be matter of rejoicing, now in thy circumstances, O Israel, it is not meet thou shouldst show any gladness.

As other people; with feastings, public games, and triumphs, or with solemn sacrifices of thanksgiving, or with erecting statues to the memory of your great and brave commanders, or for continuing the remembrance of their achievements.

For thou hast gone a whoring from thy God; with thee, O Israel, it is as unseemly as it is for an adulterous wife to rejoice and be jovial, whilst the guilt of her adulteries, and the shame of her lewdnesses, and the displeasure of her husband, fly in her face and whisper reproofs in her ear.

Thou hast loved a reward, such as is given by adulterers to lewd women,

on every corn-floor; thou hast loved to see thy floor full, and hast thought, and said thy idols had so furnished thee, and therefore thou didst love them. Though mirth might become an honest woman, it doth not so well suit with a dishonest adulteress; the very place, the Company and occasion, do upbraid such a one rejoicing with her lewd adulterers: besides, this adulteress’s joys will be short, and end in sorrows and shame; so will thine, O Israel.


Verse 2

The floor; the corn which is gathered into the floor and that is threshed there, that plenty which these sottish idolaters have, and think they have it from their idols, the bread they eat. For here the floor is put for the corn, and the bread made of it.

The wine-press, by the same figure, put for the wine that is pressed out in it; though there is great plenty, and the vats overflow as well as the press full.

Shall not feed them; all this plenty shall not nourish and strengthen them. Since they think their idols give them their corn and wine, let them give also, what I will not give, a blessing on these that they may support and refresh them; they shall be lean and half-starved in their plenty unless their idols can do this for them, i.e. bless their food.

Them, who seek to idols for corn and wine, and praise their idols as givers of it. These I will blast, their provision shall be as theirs, Haggai 1:6.

The new wine shall fail in her; or lie unto her, or fail her expectation. Samaria and all Israel expect a fair and full vintage, but they expect it from their idols, which are a doctrine of lies, and in this, as in all other, will lie.


Verse 3

They, who worship idols, and give my glory to them, depending on them, and ascribing to them what I alone give them,

shall not dwell in the Lord’s land; though they have been in possession many years, and though now they seem out of fear of losing it, being great at home and in peace with neighbours abroad, yet in midst of this prosperity and security, let them note it, they shall not much longer dwell in the Lord’s land, which God gave them according to promise, with express condition that they should obey him and fear him, and him only, Deuteronomy 6:2,3, and with express menace of exile and ruin if they forgot God, Deuteronomy 8:19,20. This land, which is the Lord’s propriety, and theirs only on condition, and this condition broken, shall be their possession no longer.

Ephraim shall return to Egypt; many of Ephraim, for it is not meant of all or the most part; but of the more timorous, wary, and who consult their safety beforehand, many shall flee into Egypt, and shift out of the enemies’ reach. So again Hosea 9:6.

They shall eat unclean things in Assyria; the residue who flee not into Egypt shall be carried captives, and in Assyria be forced to eat forbidden meats, called here unclean, such as polluted the eater.


Verse 4

They, captived for their idolatry and other sins,

shall not offer wine-offerings: these were by the law appointed to be offered with the morning and evening sacrifice; the sacrifice representing Christ, and pardon by him, the wine-offering represented the Spirit of grace. The sacrifice repeated daily continued their peace and pardon; the Spirit of grace supported, guided, comforted, and refreshed; all which shall be withheld from these captives, the law of God forbidding on one account, the law of their conquerors forbidding on another account.

Neither shall they be pleasing unto him; or if any should venture to do it, and think thereby to appease God’s anger, they shall miss their aim, it will not please God.

Their sacrifices shall be unto them as the bread of mourners; their eucharistical sacrifices, in which they were used to feast with joy, shall be to them as the bread of mourners, as if they had buried a father or mother, and to comfort or support their saddened spirits did force themselves to some larger allowance and choicer meats; so great should be their grief in midst of their joys. Or else thus, their sacrifices should as much pollute them and displease God as if one mourning for the dead, and forbidden to sacrifice in tears and mourning, should yet venture to do it, and, against the law, sacrifice to his God when polluted by the dead, Numbers 19:11-14 Deuteronomy 26:14.

All that eat thereof shall be polluted; so far shall these men’s sacrifices be from expiating and purifying, that they should increase their guilt and danger, and incur the penalty threatened against the polluted, Numbers 19:13.

For; or, surely; the particle is not here causal, but assertive, as in many other places it is.

Their bread for their soul; their mincha or bread, which they always offered and were bound to offer with their sacrifices. Or else the first-fruits of their corn, which were to be brought to the Lord, and which being rightly offered did sanctify and insure the rest to them, with a blessing. This should not be done, they should be at that distance from the temple, and under the confinement of captives, so that they should not be able to do it if they were willing.

Shall not come; be brought in to the priest in the temple, Deuteronomy 26:2,3, &c.


Verse 5

Think with yourselves what you are likely to do then: on those days you were wont to cease from your labours, to offer sacrifices to God, (as you thought and said,) to feast with one another, all was full of seeming religion and real feasting and jollity on those days in your own country; but will your hard masters, that love their own profit, that hate your persons, and despise your religion, will they lose your labour, indulge your ease, encourage your religion, and suffer you to exercise it? Is this imaginable?


Verse 6

For, lo; mark it well, and observe the event.

They are gone because of destruction; some of the wary and timorous are already withdrawn from the desolation that cometh on their country, and more will flee from the Assyrian invader; and it is very near, and very uncertain, expressed therefore in the perfect tense.

Egypt shall gather them up; in Egypt they hope to be quiet, and survive these desolations, and to return into their own land; but they shall die in Egypt, and Egyptians shall lay them out, and prepare them to their grave. So this phrase, Jeremiah 8:2 Ezekiel 29:5.

Memphis, which elsewhere is called Noph, Isaiah 19:13, a very greatly traded city in those days, and at this day also known by the name which speaks its greatness, Grand Cairo.

Shall bury them: many of the ten tribes, fleeing their own wasted country, did no doubt remove so far as Memphis, partly for safety, that they might be out of the Assyrian’s reach, but more principally for convenience of a trade, that they might at least get a livelihood, if not grow rich on their trade; there many of these fugitives died; and perhaps by the pestilence (which is a disease that frequently sweeps that city) multitudes of them might be swept away into their graves in and about that city.

The pleasant places for their silver; their beautiful and strong houses built for keeping their wealth in.

Nettles shall possess them; they shall be ruined, and lie long in rubbish, till nettles grow up in them.

Thorns, or briers, or whatever (one kind for all) worthless and hurtful shrubs used to grow in perpetuated desolations, shall be in their tabernacles, in their dwellingplaces, their houses, which here retain the name of their ancient habitations when they dwelt in tents.


Verse 7

The days of visitation are come, the days of recompence are come: the prophet doubleth the same thing, both to confirm the certainty of it, and to awaken the stupid Israelites: the days of God’s just displeasure, in which he will punish, and render to these incorrigible idolaters and abominable debauchees as their wickedness deserveth, are come, they are very near, within four years at most.

Israel shall know it; Israel will not believe it, though God hath often told them of it, but when it is come, and they feel it, they shall then know indeed, as fools know when they smart for their folly.

The prophet is a fool; their false prophets were all, to a man of them, fools and rash, judging by present greatness or alliances of Israel, not observing what were their sins and God’s wrath. Now when Hosea preached what was contained in this 9th chapter, Israel had made a league with So king of Egypt, cast off the Assyrian, and not sought to God, but vainly trusted to the Egyptian succours; now any wise man might imagine that likely which the prophet Hosea did foretell as certain, that the Assyrian with all his power would fall upon the revolters; none but fools would promise such a people a time of safety when the war was falling upon their heads.

The spiritual man, that pretends to be full of the Spirit of prophecy, and foretells good to them, whom we thought a true prophet; but. now find by sad experience that we believed a madman, one much out of his wits; yet were we more, to believe what he promised.

For the multitude of thine iniquity: God was highly displeased with the multitude of their iniquities, and began his punishments in giving them over to believe the lies of their false prophets, and to expect what peace these prophets did promise.

And the great hatred which God had against your sins and ways: you would walk in ways which God hated, yet would have prophets to foretell peace and plenty; such you have had as described Micah 2:11, and you believed them; and God, out of his just dislike, suffered this to be, left you to your choice.


Verse 8

The watchman of Ephraim was with my God; the old true prophets indeed were with God, heard what he spake, and told it to the people; they were for God, for his honour, law, worship, and temple; and so should prophets now be. Ephraim once had such prophets, such were Elijah and Elisha, but none such now, or Ephraim cares not for them. The prophet speaks of God, the true God, as his God, in opposition to idols, on which Ephraim doted now, whose pretended oracles they believed.

But the prophet; the prophets now-a-days, who call themselves prophets, and are so accounted by the people, have, as the people, left God, and do no more consult with God.

Is a snare of a fowler; their pretended predictions and promises are but a snare, such as fowlers lay to take fowl in; and these impostors are conscious to themselves that they are deceivers; at least they cannot but know that the true God never gave them answer at any of their images, yet they pretend he hath done it, and that he will prosper them; so they insnare the people first in sin, next in punishment.

In all his ways; and all they design and endeavour by all means is to keep the people in this opinion and hope.

And hatred in the house of his God; so is hatred in the sight of God, he doth hate such deceivers; and he is hatred, i.e. ere long will he hatred, in the sight of the people he deceived; they shall hate their false prophets, who from the house of their God, by answers from the idols in their temples, confirmed the people in their rebellion, and hardened them against returning to God, which ends in their ruin: or else hatred, &c., i.e. cause of the people’s hatred, against God and one another.


Verse 9

They, the people of the ten tribes, prophets, priests, princes, and people, have deeply corrupted themselves, have strangely and horribly debauched one another; beside all their idolatry, there is more than brutish filthiness among them.

As in the days of Gibeah; the story whereof you have Jude 19.

Therefore he, God, who hateth such workers of iniquity,

will remember their iniquity; he will not pardon their iniquity, but charge it upon them: when God saith he will not remember, it is a promise of pardon; When he threatens he will remember, it is a threat of not pardoning.

He will visit their sins; he will punish: see Hosea 9:7.


Verse 10

I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness: the Lord speaks of himself in the person of a traveller, who unexpectedly in the wilderness findeth a vine loaded with grapes, which are most delightful and welcome to him; such love did God bear to Israel, i.e. a very strong and hearty love: the simile expresseth the greatness, not the cause, of the Divine love.

I saw your fathers; not Abraham, or Isaac, and Jacob, but your fathers whom I brought out of Egypt.

As the first-ripe in the fig tree at her first time; as the earliest ripe fruit, either of the fig tree as our version, or the first-ripe of any sweet and delicious fruit tree, as the word will bear, which are most valued and desired; so was Israel dear and valued.

They went to Baalpeor: this evinceth that the prophet speaketh not of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but of those who were brought out of Egypt, as appears in the story of their deportment in Shittim, Numbers 25:1-3, where they committed idolatry with Baal-peor, of whose rites authors do variously discourse, some reporting them to have been practised with shameless looseness, as the rites of Bacchus, Venus, or Priapus among the Romans; others say, this idol of Moab had his name from a mountain in Moab where he was worshipped, and had a stately and famous temple; this mountain is mentioned Numbers 22:41, with Numbers 23:28; and this is the more likely opinion.

Separated themselves; they did consecrate and dedicate themselves; possibly some turned priests to the idol; however, they addicted themselves to and worshipped the idol, and brought their sacrifices.

To that shame: by way of contempt and detestation the prophet speaks of this idol, and gives it the name of shame in the abstract, to express the greatest degree of detestation of it, and of that they did.

Their abominations, their idols, and way of worshipping them,

were according as they loved; either as they fancied, or as the idolatrous women whom they loved were multiplied, so their idols were, for they took the idols with them.


Verse 11

Their glory; their children or posterity, which was as much the glory of Israel, as their multiplying was above the common rate of other nations’ multiplying; it was to them a singular blessing, and performing of promise, and they did greatly rejoice and glory in this blessing, Psa 128 Pr 17:6.

Shall fly away like a bird: it is proverbial, and speaks a sudden and unexpected loss of children. which vanish and are gone as a bird: see Proverbs 23:5, where sudden loss of riches is expressed in the same proverb.

From the birth; shall die as soon as born.

From the womb; prove abortive, their mothers shall not bring the fruit of the womb to perfection, or alive into the world.

From the conception; through barrenness their wives shall not conceive.


Verse 12

Or suppose neither of these, but that their children live, grow up and come to some maturity, yet God, provoked by their sins, will deprive them of their children by famine; or by civil wars, which were long and bloody on each other; or by pestilence; or by captivity, and dispersing them among enemies, to whom they shall be slaves, and, as slaves, beget children not to themselves, but to their masters.

There shall not be a man left; there shall be a total extirpation of them and their memory; or else, I will cut them off from among men, as the phrase will bear.

Woe also to them when I depart from them! to complete their misery, I will leave them, I will depart from them. It is sad to lose children, it is sadder to lose their God.


Verse 13

Ephraim; the kingdom of Israel.

Tyrus; of which see Eze 26$ Eze 27$ Eze 28$; a very rich, well-fortified, and pleasant city, and secure too, that afterward held out thirteen years’ siege against all the power of the Babylonian empire in Nebuchadnezzar’s time.

Is planted in a pleasant place; is now well provided, seems invincible, is as secure as Tyrus was in her prosperity; perhaps reckons either strength shall break the enemies, or money buy friends, or the magnificence and beauty of their places and dwellings shall be some safety to them; but all this shall avail nothing.

Shall bring forth his children to the murderer; though a multitude of children to send forth in mighty armies against the enemy, yet it will be but a sending them out to the slaughter: God is departed from them, and will not go out with their armies, so they shall fall by the sword of the enemy, as they needs must whom God doth not befriend in a war.


Verse 14

Give them, O Lord; it is an abrupt but very pathetical speech of one that shows his trouble for the state of a sinking, undone nation, it is an intercession for them.

What wilt thou give? as if he should say he knew not what to ask, or how to pray for them; he knew God had peremptorily determined to punish them with a total extermination, and in a most dreadful manner, as described Hosea 9:11-13. Now give some mercy.

Give them a miscarrying womb; the days are coming when the barren womb will be a blessing; give this, O Lord; it is less misery to have none, than to have all our children murdered by a barbarous enemy, Luke 23:29.

Dry breasts; not to starve the children born, but it is a further explication of the former; dry breasts are symptoms of a barren womb, whether by abortion or non-conception, by one or other. Prevent these woeful effects of our enemies’ unjust rage, and of thy most righteous displeasure against us, O Lord.


Verse 15

All; the chief, or sum, or beginning:

Gilgal is not to be understood exclusive to other places, for every city was full, there was all kind of sin elsewhere.

Their wickedness, in rejecting God and his government. Here Saul was made king, and Samuel was rejected. Here they begun to turn the remarkable blessings God gave them in this place into a superstitious and hypocritical veneration of the place, and began their will-worship and idolatries. If all the impiety of Ephraim may be reduced to their horrible degeneracy and corruption in state and church, here it began, and so all was here.

Gilgal; where Israel first pitched their tents after they passed over Jordan: see Hosea 4:15.

There I hated them; as there they began to sin so notoriously, there also I began to show that I hated them for the wickedness of their doings; for the continued wickedness which from their first beginning there they have propagated to other places, and increased daily, and with obstinacy.

I will drive them out; as men thrust out of their houses one that is altogether unworthy to dwell longer with them.

Of mine house; by a synecdoche, the house for land; or, out of their house, which though theirs for use, was yet God’s propriety; and when God casts Ephraim out of his house, he sends him into captivity.

I will love them no more; I will cease to express any more love to thee; it is a meiosis, I will add no more love to them, i.e. I will add to hate them and punish them, I will leave them in the hand and under the fury of their enemies in a strange land.

All their princes, their kings and rulers, both civil and ecclesiastical,

are revolters; are and have been idolaters ever since the division in Jeroboam son of Nebat, not one of their kings but were idolaters, and obstinate and perverse in it also.


Verse 16

Ephraim is smitten: this gives us some guess at the time of this prophecy, which was after Jeroboam’s death, in whose life and reign Ephraim was as a very flourishing tree, whose roots were full of sap and life; but after the death of this king they were, as here it is expressed, a tree smitten, as if scorched with lightning, or burnt up with a vehement and continued heat and drought by day; blasted they were, whatever was the means: or possibly it may refer to those seditions, civil wars, and rebellious conspiracies which (say some) did for some years afflict the kingdom of the ten tribes, which unnatural wars were as an axe to the root of this tree, and gave Pul king of Assyria opportunity and courage to set upon them, of whom they were forced to buy their peace at a dear rate, viz. a thousand talents of silver; or to the captivating of Naphtali, and taking many fortified towns out of Pekah’s hand by Tiglath-pileser, who came up to the rescue of Ahaz, 2Ki 15.

Their root is dried up; this hath dried up the very roots of this tree; this blast from heaven hath not only scorched the top boughs, but rent the very body of this Israelitish tree, and hath spoiled its roots; or civil wars first, and foreign wars next, have cut up the roots of this tree, the strong and valiant young men, who were to perpetuate the life and beauty of this people.

They shall bear no fruit: as such a dead root cannot spring out; so these Ephraimites never shall spring forth, they shall ever be barren. Though they bring forth; suppose they should yet bring forth, (such a supposition you meet with Hosea 9:12, which see,) they shall not grow to maturity and greatness.

Yet will I slay even the beloved fruit of their womb; either by diseases, which are legibly from God’s hand, or by the sword of one another, or of a foreign invader: if you do not enumerate all the ways God will take, we are sure he will take ways enough to make good his own word, and slay their beloved children, those children that were the more beloved for that their parents had either few, or else had lost some they had before.


Verse 17

My God; no more thy God, O Ephraim, thou canst no more have hope on that account, but my God, saith the prophet, my God who hath revealed his purpose to me, and who will accomplish it, who will make good the word I have spoken against you.

Will cast them away: your sins have been a weariness, a loathing to my God, and now as a vile, loathed, and wearisome thing is cast off by a man, so shall you be cast off from your God.

They did not hearken unto him; neither did hearken to God to prevent apostacy, nor would ever after hearken to God at first to repent and turn to him; like a wilful adulteress, they would not keep faithful to their Husband, nor return to him when once departed from him.

They shall be wanderers; have no city of their own, no settled dwelling-place; as much suspected, hated, ill used, and punished as vagabonds are in well-ordered commonwealths; all which is fully come upon them.

Among the nations: Gentiles were such the proud circumcision did despise and hate, but now the sins of the circumcised shall bring them under as much contempt with the nations; nay, these proud apostates from God, when cast off and wanderers, shall account it a favour to be admitted to incorporate with, and so to grow up heathens among heathens, as after long time they did.

 


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Bibliography Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Hosea 9:4". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/hosea-9.html. 1685.

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