Application of the Symbols in the First
Israel's spiritual fornication, and her threatened
punishment: yet a promise of God's restored favor, when chastisements
have produced their designed effect.
1. Say … unto … brethren, Ammi,
&c.—that is, When the prediction (Ho 1:11) shall be accomplished, then ye will
call one another, as brothers and sisters in the family
of God, Ammi and Ruhamah.
mother—that is, the nation
collectively. The address is to "her children," that is, to the
individual citizens of the state (compare Isa 50:1).
for she is not my wife—She has
deprived herself of her high privilege by spiritual adultery.
out of her sight—rather, "from her
face." Her very countenance unblushingly betrayed her lust, as did also
her exposed "breasts."
3. set her as in the day …
born—(Eze 16:4; 23:25, 26, 28, 29). The day of her political "birth" was
when God delivered her from the bondage of Egypt, and set up the
make her as a wilderness—(Jer 6:8; Zep
2:13). Translate, "make her
as the wilderness," namely, that in which she passed forty years on her
way to her goodly possession of Canaan. With this agrees the mention of
"thirst" (compare Jer 2:6).
4. her children—Not even her
individual members shall escape the doom of the nation
collectively, for they are individually guilty.
5. I will go after—The Hebrew
expresses a settled determination.
lovers—the idols which Israel fancied
to be the givers of all their goods, whereas God gave all these goods
2:8-13; compare Jer 44:17-19).
bread and … water—the
necessaries of life in food.
wool … flax—clothing.
oil … drink—perfumed unguents
and palatable drinks: the luxuries of Hebrew life.
6, 7. thorns … wall—(Job 19:8; La
3:7, 9). The hindrances which
the captivity interposed between Israel and her idols. As she
attributes all her temporal blessings to idols, I will reduce her to
straits in which, when she in vain has sought help from false gods, she
will at last seek Me as her only God and Husband, as at the first
(Isa 54:5; Jer 3:14; Eze 16:8).
then—before Israel's apostasy, under
Jeroboam. The way of duty is hedged about with thorns; it is the
way of sin that is hedged up with thorns. Crosses in an evil
course are God's hedges to turn us from it. Restraining grace and
restraining providences (even sicknesses and trials) are great
blessings when they stop us in a course of sin. Compare Lu 15:14-18, "I will arise, and go to my
father." So here, "I will go, and return," &c.; crosses in the both
cases being sanctified to produce this effect.
8. she did not know that I—not the
idols, as she thought: the "lovers" alluded to in Ho 2:5.
which they prepared for Baal—that is,
of which they made images of Baal, or at least the plate covering of
8:4). Baal was the
Phœnician sun-god: answering to the female Astarte, the
moon-goddess. The name of the idol is found in the Phœnician
Hannibal, Hasdrubal. Israel borrowed it from the Tyrians.
9. my corn … my wool … my
flax—in contrast to "my bread … my wool
… my flax," (Ho 2:5).
Compare also Ho 2:21-23, on God as the great First Cause giving
these through secondary instruments in nature. "Return, and take away,"
is equivalent to, "I will take back again," namely, by sending storms,
locusts, Assyrian enemies, &c. "Therefore," that is, because she
did not acknowledge Me as the Giver.
in the time thereof—in the
10. lewdness—rather, "the shame of her
nakedness"; laying aside the figure, "I will expose her in her
state, bereft of every necessary, before her lovers," that is, the
idols (personified, as if they could see), who, nevertheless, can give
her no help. "Discover" is appropriate to stripping off the
self-flatteries of her hypocrisy.
11. her feast days—of Jeroboam's
appointment, distinct from the Mosaic (1Ki 12:32). However, most of the Mosaic feasts,
"new-moons" and "sabbaths" to Jehovah, remained, but to degenerate
Israel worship was a weariness; they cared only for the carnal
indulgence on them (Am 8:5).
12. my rewards—my hire as a harlot
destroy … vines … make …
forest—(Isa 5:6; 7:23, 24). Fulfilled in the overthrow of Israel
by Assyria (Ho 9:4, 5).
13. days of Baalim—the days consecrated
to the Baals, or various images of Baal in different cities, whence the
names Baal-gad, Baal-hermon, &c.
decked herself with …
earrings—rather, "nose-rings" (Isa 3:21; Eze 16:12, Margin), with which harlots
decked themselves to attract admirers: answering to the ornaments in
which the Israelites decked themselves on the idols' feasts.
forgat me—worse than the nations which
had never known God. Israel wilfully apostatized from Jehovah,
whom she had known.
14. Therefore—rather, "Nevertheless"
[Henderson]. English Version
gives a more lovely idea of God. That which would provoke all others to
unappeasable wrath, Israel's perversity and consequent punishment, is
made a reason why God should at last have mercy on her. As the
"therefore" (Ho 2:9)
expresses Israel's punishment as the consequence of Israel's
guilt, so "therefore" here, as in Ho 2:6, expresses, that when that punishment
has effected its designed end, the hedging up her way with thorns so
that she returns to God, her first love, the consequence in
God's wondrous grace is, He "speaks comfortably" (literally, "speaks to
her heart"; compare Jud 19:8; Ru 2:13). So obstinate is she that God has to
"allure her," that is, so to temper judgment with unlooked-for grace as
to win her to His ways. For this purpose it was necessary to
"bring her into the wilderness" (that is, into temporal want and
trials) first, to make her sin hateful to her by its bitter fruits, and
God's subsequent grace the more precious to her by the contrast of the
"wilderness." Jerome makes the "bringing
into the wilderness" to be rather a deliverance from her
enemies, just as ancient Israel was brought into the wilderness
from the bondage of Egypt; to this the phrase here alludes (compare
Ho 2:15). The wilderness sojourn, however,
is not literal, but moral: while still in the land of their enemies
locally, by the discipline of the trial rendering the word of
God sweet to them, they are to be brought morally into the
wilderness state, that is, into a state of preparedness for returning
to their temporal and spiritual privileges in their own land; just as
the literal wilderness prepared their fathers for Canaan: thus the
bringing of them into the wilderness state is virtually a
deliverance from their enemies.
15. from thence—returning from the
wilderness. God gives Israel a fresh grant of Canaan, which she had
forfeited; so of her vineyards, &c. (Ho 2:9, 12).
Achor—that is, "trouble." As formerly
Israel, after their tedious journey through the wilderness, met with
the trouble resulting from Achan's crime in this valley, on the
very threshold of Canaan, and yet that trouble was presently
turned into joy at the great victory at Ai, which threw all
Canaan into their hands (Jos 7:1-8:28); so the very trouble of Israel's
wilderness state will be the "door of hope" opening to better days. The
valley of Achor, near Jericho, was specially fruitful (Isa 65:10); so "trouble" and "hope" are rightly
blended in connection with it.
sing … as … when she came …
out of … Egypt—It shall be a second exodus song, such
as Israel sang after the deliverance at the Red Sea (Ex 15:1-21; compare Isa 11:15, 16); and "the song of Moses" (Re 15:2, 3) sung by those who through the
Lamb overcome the beast, and so stand on the sea of glass mingled with
fire, emblems of fiery trial, such as that of Israel at the Red
16. Ishi … no more Baali—"my
Husband … no more my Lord." Affection is the
prominent idea in "Husband"; rule, in "Lord." The chief reason
for the substitution of Husband for Lord appears in Ho 2:17; namely, Baali, the
Hebrew for my Lord, had been perverted to express the
images of Baal, whose name ought not to be taken on their lips (Ex
23:13; Zec 13:2).
17. Baalim—plural, expressing the
various images of Baal, which, according to the places of their
erection, received various names, Baal-gad, Baal-ammon, &c.
18. for them—for their benefit.
covenant … with the beasts—not
to hurt them (Job 5:23).
They shall fulfil the original law of their creation by becoming
subject to man, when man fulfils the law of his being by being subject
to God. To be realized fully in millennial times (Isa 11:6-9).
break the bow … out of the
earth—rather, "out of the land"; that is, I will break
and remove war out of the earth (Ps 46:9); and "out of the land" of
Israel first (Isa 2:4; Eze 39:9, 10; Zec 9:9, 10).
lie down—A reclining posture is the
usual one with Orientals when not in action.
19, 20. "Betroth" is thrice repeated,
implying the intense love of God to His people; and perhaps, also,
the three Persons of the Triune God, severally engaging
to make good the betrothal. The marriage covenant will be as it were
renewed from the beginning, on a different footing; not for a time
only, as before, through the apostasy of the people, but "forever"
through the grace of God writing the law on their hearts by the Spirit
of Messiah (Jer 31:31-37).
righteousness … judgment—in
rectitude and truth.
loving-kindness, &c.—Hereby God
assures Israel, who might doubt the possibility of their restoration to
His favor; low, sunk, and unworthy as thou art. I will restore thee
from a regard to My own "loving-kindness," not thy merits.
20. faithfulness—to My new covenant of
grace with thee (1Th 5:24; Heb 10:23).
21. in that day—of grace to Israel.
heavens … hear the
earth—personification. However many be the intermediate
instruments, God is the Great First Cause of all nature's phenomena.
God had threatened (Ho 2:9) He
would take back His corn, His wine, &c. Here, on the
contrary, God promises to hearken to the skies, as it were,
supplicating Him to fill them with rain to pour on the earth; and that
the skies again would hearken to the earth begging for a supply of the
rain it requires; and again, that the earth would hearken to the corn,
wine, and oil, begging it to bring them forth; and these again would
hear Jezreel, that is, would fulfil Israel's prayers for a supply of
them. Israel is now no longer "Jezreel" in the sense, "God will
SCATTER" (Ho 1:4), but in the sense, "God will
PLANT" (Ho 1:11).
23. I will sow her—referring to the
meaning of Jezreel (Ho 2:22).