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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Bible Commentary

Hosea 12

 

 

Verses 1-14

1. THE PEOPLE AND THEIR FATHER JACOB

Hosea 12:1-14

In no part even of the difficult Book of Hosea does the sacred text bristle with more problems. It may well be doubted whether the verses lie in their proper order, or, if they do, whether we have them entire as they came from the prophet, for the connection is not always perceptible. We cannot believe, however, that the chapter is a bundle of isolated oracles, for the analogy between Jacob and his living posterity runs through the whole of it, and the refrain that God must requite upon the nation their deeds is found both near the beginning and at the end of the chapter. One is tempted to take the two fragments about the Patriarch (Hosea 12:4-5, and Hosea 12:13 f.) by themselves, and the more so that Hosea 12:8 would follow so suitably on either Hosea 12:2 or Hosea 12:3. But this clue is not sufficient; and till one more evident is discovered, it is perhaps best to keep to the extant arrangement. As before, the argument starts from the falseness of Israel, which is illustrated in the faithlessness of their foreign relations. "Ephraim hath compassed Me with lies, and the house of Israel with deceit, and Judah Ephraim herds the wind, and hunts" the sirocco. All day long they heap up falsehood and fraud: they strike a bargain with Assyria, and carry oil to Egypt," as Isaiah also complained, [Isaiah 30:6] "Jehovah hath a quarrel with Israel and is about to visit upon Jacob his ways; according to his deeds will He requite them. In the womb he supplanted his brother, and in his man’s strength he wrestled with God. Yea, he wrestled with the Angel and prevailed; he wept and besought of Him mercy. At Bethel he met with Him, and there he spake with Him," (or "with us"-that is, in the person of our father) "So that thou by thy God"-by His help, for no other way is possible except, like thy father, through wrestling with Him-shouldest return: keep leal love and justice, and wait on thy God without ceasing." To this passage we shall return in dealing with Hosea’s doctrine of repentance. In characteristic fashion the discourse now swerves from the ideal to the real state of the people.

"Canaan!" So the prophet nicknames his mercenary generation. "With false balances in his hand, he loves to defraud. For Ephraim said, Ah, but I have grown rich, I have won myself wealth. None of my gains can touch me with guilt which is sin. But I, Jehovah thy God from the land of Egypt-I could make thee dwell in tents again, as in the days of the Assembly in Horeb-I could destroy all this commercial civilization of thine, and reduce thee to thine ancient level of nomadic life-" and I spake to the prophets: "it was I who multiplied vision, and by the hand of the prophets gave parables. If Gilead be for "idolatry, then shall it become vanity "If in Gilgal"-Stone-Circle-"they sacrifice bullocks, stone heaps shall their altars become among the furrows of the field." One does not see the connection of these verses with the preceding. But now the discourse oscillates once more to the national father, and the parallel between his own and his people’s experience.

"And Jacob fled to the land of Aram, and Israel served for a wife, and for a wife he herded sheep. And by a prophet Jehovah brought Israel up from Egypt, and by a prophet he was shepherded. And Ephraim hath given bitter provocation; but his blood-guiltiness shall be upon him, and his Lord shall return it to him."

I cannot trace the argument here.

 


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Bibliography Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Hosea 12:4". "Expositor's Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/teb/hosea-12.html.

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