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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Hosea 8

 

 

Verse 1

Hosea 8:1. Set the trumpet to thy mouth — The Vulgate renders it, In guttere tuo sit tuba; that is, Let thy throat, or mouth, sound like a trumpet. God speaks in these words, says Grotius, to the prophet, and commands him to proclaim, with a very loud voice, both the sins of the people, and the evils about to come upon them. He shall come as an eagle against the house of the Lord — The words, he shall come, are not in the Hebrew, and seem to be improperly supplied by the translators; the sense of the words appearing to be, that the prophet should warn the people, and denounce the judgments of God against them for their sins, with a voice so loud that it might be heard as far as the cry of the eagle, flying over, or sitting upon, the top of the temple. Because they have transgressed — Or rather, that they have transgressed my covenant. “Hoc enim ipsum est quod proclamari vult Deus;” for this is the thing which God commanded to be proclaimed. — Grotius. Namely, that they had transgressed against God’s covenant, and violated his law.


Verses 2-4

Hosea 8:2-4. Israel shall cry unto me — Namely, when calamities come upon them, My God, we know thee — Thou art our God in covenant with us, and we make profession of thy name, and own thee for the only true God: see Matthew 7:21-22. Israel hath cast off the thing that is good They have not walked agreeably to their profession, but have cast off obedience to my laws. This is a declaration, that all the worship of Israel, or their crying, My God, was vain, since their actions were wicked, or they had cast off what was good. Christ has made a declaration to the same purpose, to warn us of falling into the like error, in the passage above referred to. They have set up kings — Made a defection from the house of David, formed themselves into a distinct kingdom, and chosen what kings and governors they pleased, without ever asking my advice or consent. Not by me — Not by my warrant or order. Shallum, and Menahem, and Pekah, usurped the kingdom by murder and treason, 2 Kings 15:13-14; 2 Kings 15:25, not by any declaration of God’s will, as Jeroboam and Jehu did; nor were any of the kings between Jeroboam and Jehu, nor any after the posterity of Jehu, made by God’s appointment. They have made princes and I knew it not — They have appointed judges, or magistrates, such as I approved not of, and had no hand in raising up to that dignity. Of their silver, &c., they have made themselves idols — They have abused their wealth to idolatry, which will be the occasion of their destruction: see Hosea 2:8.


Verse 5-6

Hosea 8:5-6. Thy calf, O Samaria — Here God himself, who is the speaker, turns short upon Samaria, or the ten tribes; and, in a tone of dreadful indignation, upbraids their corrupt worship. Hath cast thee off — That is, “will profit thee nothing in dangers.” — Grotius. As if he had said, As the people of Samaria hath cast off that which is good, Hosea 8:3, so the calf, which they worship, shall not protect or deliver them from the evils coming upon them, now my anger is kindled against them. How long will it be ere they attain to innocency? — How long will it be ere they repent and reform? Bishop Horsley renders it, How long will they bear antipathy to pure religion? The Hebrew word, נקיו, signifies purity, or cleanness generally; hence moral purity, innocence. But here, says he, “I think it particularly denotes pure religion, or the purity of worship; pure religion and undefiled, in opposition both to the superstitious practices of idolaters, and the false show of hypocrites. For from Israel was it also — Or, “from Israel came even this; this thing, vile and abominable as it is, was his own invention; not a thing that he had learned or borrowed from any other nations. Archbishop Newcome indeed says, ‘The Israelites may have originally borrowed this superstition from the Egyptians;’ for in Egypt, he observes, ‘this species of animals were worshipped, the Apis at Memphis, and the Mnevis at Heliopolis.’ But the prophet expressly says, that the Israelites borrowed this superstition from nobody; it was all their own. Indeed, what they had seen in Egypt was the worship of a living calf, not of the lifeless image of a calf, or of any other animal.” — Bishop Horsley. The workman made it, therefore it is not God — It is no more than the work of man, and therefore there is no divine power in it. But the calf of Samaria Or, the calf of Beth-el, in the kingdom of Samaria, shall be broken in pieces — Whereby it shall be proved to all, that there is nothing divine in it. Horsley renders it, Verily, the calf of Samaria shall be reduced to atoms. So also Grotius understands the Hebrew expression, שׁבבים היה, interpreting the noun שׁבב, as signifying, “minimum quidque in re quâvis: ut scintillæ, fragmenta, segmenta;” the smallest particle in any thing, as sparks, shivers, shreds; Jerome says, atoms. This was done by the Assyrians, when they made an entire conquest of the ten tribes.


Verse 7

Hosea 8:7. For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind, &c. — A proverbial expression, to signify, that as men’s works are, so must their reward be; that they who sow iniquity shall reap vanity, Proverbs 22:8. Their labour shall be fruitless, or shall turn to their hurt and damage: As if he had said, All the pains which the kings of Israel and their subjects had taken to enrich themselves, and to strengthen their kingdom, being built upon the foundation of apostacy and idolatry, shall turn to no better account, than countrymen expect from a blasted crop of corn; and whatever advantage they make, it shall at last be a prey to foreigners, to the kings of Syria and Assyria.


Verse 8

Hosea 8:8. Israel is swallowed up — Under this image the Hebrew language, the Greek, and our own, describe any sudden destruction, so complete as to leave no visible vestige of the thing remaining. The prophet speaks of what was future, as though it were already present; and signifies that the Israelites would be as certainly carried captives into Assyria, as if they were already gone thither into captivity. Now shall they be among the Gentiles as a vessel, &c. — In a short time they shall be despised, as a vessel or utensil that is broken, or become useless. For they are gone up to Assyria Namely, of their own accord, as the original expression, המה עלו, seems to imply. So do also the versions of the LXX. and the Vulgate; the former read, αυτοι ανεβησαν εις ασσυριους, ipsi ascenderunt ad Assur; they themselves have gone up to Assyria. This is not meant of their going into captivity. The captivity, though near at hand, was yet to come; but this going up was past. It was a voluntary going up, and a crime; a going up both for alliance, and also for idolatrous commerce. The captivity was to be the punishment. A wild ass alone by himself — The meaning is, that Ephraim was such; that is, as Archbishop Newcome interprets it, Ephraim was like the solitary wild ass, he was as untamed to the yoke, and traversed the desert as earnestly in pursuit of idols, as the wild ass in quest of his mates. “Though wild asses,” says Pocock, “be often found in the deserts in whole herds, yet it is usual for some one of them to break away, and separate himself from his company, and run alone at random by himself; and one so doing is here spoken of.” Ephraim hath hired lovers — He alludes to the flagitiousness of adulteresses hiring men to have commerce with them, to which he compares Israel’s procuring foreign allies with great expense, and relying on them, and not on God, for succour and protection. And the reference may be, not only to the bargain with Pul, but to the general profusion of the government in forming foreign alliances; in which the latter kings, both of Israel and Judah, were equally culpable, as appears by the history of the collateral reigns of Ahaz and Pekah. It must be observed, “every forbidden alliance with idolaters was a part of the spiritual incontinence of the nation.” — Horsley.


Verse 10

Hosea 8:10. Yea, though they have hired — Namely, allies; among the nations — And have been no way solicitous to gain my favour or help; now will I gather them — I will now (though they make so little account of my power) bring those very allies, namely, the Assyrians, against them. Here God tells them, that whatever sums they might offer, or expense they might be at, in order to raise armies of foreign auxiliaries, he would imbody those armies, he would press the men, paid by their money, into his own service against them. And they shall sorrow a little — Or, in a little time; for the burden of the king of princes — “They shall be severely galled by the yoke of the Assyrian king, and of the princes set over his several provinces.” — Newcome. Bishop Horsley, who thinks that the kings and princes, or rulers, of Israel are here intended, renders this clause differently, thus: And ere long they shall sorrow on account of the burden, the king and the rulers: that is, “Ere long the king and the rulers will lament the impolitic expense incurred in gifts and presents to their faithless allies, and the burden of taxes for that purpose laid upon the people.” The reading of

ושׂרים, and rulers, “is supported,” says he, “by such a weight of authority, that I cannot but adopt it; and yet there is no difficulty in the construction of the common text. For it might be thus rendered: And ere long the rulers shall sorrow for the burden of the king, that is, for the burden imposed by the king [namely, the king of Israel] in taxes.”


Verse 11-12

Hosea 8:11-12. Because Ephraim hath made many altars to sin — “Since the Israelites, forsaking that one altar at which alone God required them to serve him, idolatrously multiplied altars to themselves, — altars against God’s command; (to do which was manifestly a sin in them;) therefore shall those, their beloved altars, be accordingly occasions of great sin, and as such imputed to them to their condemnation.” The meaning is, that

“God would give them up, to run on in their evil courses, till their iniquity was full, and they were ripe for destruction; and then that God would deliver them into the hands of their enemies, who should compel them to do that service at, and to, their idolatrous altars, which should appear a manifest punishment to them for those of their own. So should they be punished by that wherein they had offended.” — Pocock. I have written to him the great things of my law — Or, many things, as רבי may be translated. The Vulgate renders it, multiplices leges meas, my manifold laws. That law which I gave them by Moses, containing rules excellent in themselves, and such as would have made them great in the eyes of their neighbours, they have disregarded, as if it had neither reason nor authority, and did not concern them: see Deuteronomy 4:6; Deuteronomy 4:8.


Verse 13

Hosea 8:13. They sacrifice flesh, &c., and eat it, but the Lord accepteth them not — They offer sacrifices indeed, but their sacrifices are not acceptable to God, not being offered with a pious and devout mind. Dr. Wheeler translates the clause, They have sacrificed the choicest sacrifices, and have eaten flesh: Jehovah taketh not delight therein. Now will he remember their iniquity, &c. — God supported the Jews, that they might support the true religion; which as they had now neglected to do, there was no reason why God should support and defend them against their enemies. They shall return to Egypt — Going into Egypt seems to have been a proverbial expression for extreme misery; and may here denote, that they should go into a state of captivity and bondage as bad as that which their forefathers had suffered in Egypt. Or else, taken literally, it might be intended to signify, that they should seek the alliance and friendship of Egypt, contrary to the faith they had given to the Assyrians, which would bring on their destruction. This proved to be the case, as the reader will see by consulting 2 Kings 17:4-5, “The king of Israel sent messengers to So, king of Egypt, and brought no presents to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year; therefore the king of Assyria shut him up, and bound him in prison. Then the king of Assyria came up throughout the land, took Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria.”


Verse 14

Hosea 8:14. For Israel hath forgotten his Maker — Hath forgotten him who formed them into a people, preserved and advanced them, and conferred on them all those privileges wherein they excelled all other nations: either they have not remembered him at all, or have done it without reverence, gratitude, love, or consideration of the duty and service which they owe him. And buildeth temples — For idolatrous worship. And Judah hath multiplied fenced cities — To secure themselves from the invasion of the enemy. When the Jews saw what incursions were made upon the Israelites, or the ten tribes, by the Assyrians, they diligently set about fortifying their cities, thinking to find security in so doing, and putting greater confidence in their fortifications than in God’s protection. But I will send afire upon his cities — My judgments shall destroy them, as surely as if a fire had been kindled in them. Or the threatening may be interpreted literally; for when Sennacherib took all the fenced cities of Judah, except Jerusalem, he undoubtedly set fire to many of them, as conquerors were wont to do in those days.

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Hosea 8:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/hosea-8.html. 1857.

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