God's Judgments on the Priests, People, and
Princes of Israel for Their Sins.
Judah, too, being guilty shall be punished; nor shall
Assyria, whose aid they both sought, save them; judgments shall at last
lead them to repentance.
1. the king—probably Pekah; the
contemporary of Ahaz, king of Judah, under whom idolatry was first
carried so far in Judah as to call for the judgment of the joint Syrian
and Israelite invasion, as also that of Assyria.
judgment is towards you—that is,
threatens you from God.
ye have been a snare on Mizpah … net
… upon Tabor—As hunters spread their net and snares on
the hills, Mizpah and Tabor, so ye have snared the people into idolatry
and made them your prey by injustice. As Mizpah and Tabor
mean a "watch tower," and a "lofty place," a fit scene for hunters,
playing on the words, the prophet implies, in the lofty place in which
I have set you, whereas ye ought to have been the watchers of
the people, guarding them from evil, ye have been as hunters
entrapping them into it [Jerome].
These two places are specified, Mizpah in the east and Tabor in the
west, to include the high places throughout the whole
kingdom, in which Israel's rulers set up idolatrous altars.
profound—deeply rooted [Calvin] and sunk to the lowest depths,
excessive in their idolatry (Ho 9:9; Isa 31:6) [Henderson]. From the antithesis (Ho 5:3), "not hid from me," I prefer
explaining, profoundly cunning in their idolatry. Jeroboam
thought it a profound piece of policy to set up golden calves to
represent God in Dan and Beth-el, in order to prevent Israel's heart
from turning again to David's line by going up to Jerusalem to worship.
So Israel's subsequent idolatry was grounded by their leaders on
various pleas of state expediency (compare Isa 29:15).
to … slaughter—He does not say
"to sacrifice," for their so-called sacrifices were
butcheries rather than sacrifices; there was nothing sacred
about them, being to idols instead of to the holy God.
though—Maurer translates, "and (in spite of their
hope of safety through their slaughter of victims to idols) I will
be a chastisement to them all." English Version is good
sense: They have deeply revolted, notwithstanding all my
3. Ephraim—the tribe so called, as
distinguished from "Israel" here, the other nine tribes. It was always
foremost of the tribes of the northern kingdom. For four hundred years
in early history, it, with Manasseh and Benjamin, its two dependent
tribes, held the pre-eminence in the whole nation. Ephraim is here
addressed as foremost in idolatry.
I how … not hid from
me—notwithstanding their supposed profound cunning
(Ho 5:2; Re 2:2, 9, 13, 19).
now—"though I have been a rebuker of
all them" (Ho
5:2) who commit such
spiritual whoredoms, thou art now continuing in them.
4. They—Turning from a direct address to
Ephraim, he uses the third person plural to characterize the
people in general. The Hebrew is against the Margin,
their doings will not suffer them" the omission of "them" in the
Hebrew after the verb being unusual. The sense is, they are
incurable, for they will not permit (as the Hebrew
literally means) their doings to be framed so as to turn unto God.
Implying that they resist the Spirit of God, not
suffering Him to renew them; and give themselves up to "the
spirit of whoredoms" (in antithesis to "the Spirit of God" implied in
"suffer" or "permit") (Ho 4:12; Isa 63:10; Eze
16:43; Ac 7:51).
5. the pride of Israel—wherewith they
reject the warnings of God's prophets (Ho 5:2), and prefer their idols to God (Ho 7:10;
testify to his face—openly to his
face he shall be convicted of the pride which is so palpable in
him. Or, "in his face," as in Isa 3:9.
Judah … shall fall with
them—This prophecy is later than Ho 4:15, when Judah had not gone so far in
idolatry; now her imitation of Israel's bad example provokes the threat
of her being doomed to share in Israel's punishment.
6. with … flocks—to propitiate
Jehovah (Isa 1:11-15).
seek … not find—because it is
slavish fear that leads them to seek Him; and because it then shall be
too late (Pr 1:28; Joh 7:34).
7. treacherously—as to the marriage
covenant (Jer 3:20).
strange children—alluding to "children
of whoredoms" (Ho 1:2; 2:4). "Strange" or foreign implies
that their idolatry was imported from abroad [Henderson]. Or rather, "regarded by God as
strangers, not His," as being reared in idolatry. The case is
desperate, when not only the existing, but also the rising, generation
is reared in apostasy.
a month—a very brief space of
time shall elapse, and then punishment shall overtake them (Zec 11:8). The allusion seems to be to
money loans, which were by the month, not as with us by the
year. You cannot put it off; the time of your destruction is
immediately and suddenly coming on you; just as the debtor must meet
the creditor's demand at the expiration of the month. The prediction is
of the invasion of Tiglath-pileser, who carried away Reuben, Gad,
Naphtali, and the half tribe of Manasseh.
portions—that is, possessions. Their
resources and garrisons will not avail to save them. Henderson explains from Isa 57:6, "portions" as their idols; the
context favors this, "the Lord" the true "portion of His people"
32:9), being in antithesis to
"their portions," the idols.
8. The arrival of the enemy is announced in
the form of an injunction to blow an alarm.
cornet … trumpet—The "cornet"
was made of the curved horn of animals and was used by shepherds. The
"trumpet" was of brass or silver, straight, and used in wars and on
solemn occasions. The Hebrew is hatzotzerah, the sound
imitating the trumpet note (Ho 8:1; Nu 10:2; Jer 4:5; Joe
Gibeah … Ramah—both in Benjamin
Beth-aven—in Benjamin; not as in Ho 4:15; Beth-el, but a town east
of it (Jos
7:2). "Cry aloud," namely, to
raise the alarm. "Benjamin" is put for the whole southern kingdom of
Judah (compare Ho 5:5), being
the first part of it which would meet the foe advancing from the north.
"After thee, O Benjamin," implies the position of Beth-aven,
behind Benjamin, at the borders of Ephraim. When the foe is at
Beth-aven, he is at Benjamin's rear, close upon thee, O Benjamin (Jud 5:14).
9, 10. Israel is referred to in Ho 5:9, Judah in Ho 5:10.
the day of rebuke—the day when I shall
among the tribes of Israel have I made
known—proving that the scene of Hosea's labor was among the
that which shall surely be—namely, the
coming judgment here foretold. It is no longer a conditional decree,
leaving a hope of pardon on repentance; it is absolute, for Ephraim is
10. remove the bound—(De 19:14; 27:17; Job 24:2; Pr 22:28; 23:10). Proverbial for the rash setting
aside of the ancestral laws by which men are kept to their duty. Ahaz
and his courtiers ("the princes of Judah"), setting aside the ancient
ordinances of God, removed the borders of the bases and the layer and
the sea and introduced an idolatrous altar from Damascus (2Ki 16:10-18); also he burnt his children in
the valley of Hinnom, after the abominations of the heathen (2Ch 28:3).
11. broken in judgment—namely, the
"judgment" of God on him (Ho 5:1).
walked after the
commandment—Jeroboam's, to worship the calves (2Ki 10:28-33). Compare Mic 6:16, "the statutes of Omri," namely,
idolatrous statutes. We ought to obey God rather than men (Ac 5:29). Jerome
reads "filthiness." The Septuagint gives the sense, not the
literal translation: "after vanities."
12. as a moth—consuming a garment (Job 13:28; Ps 39:11; Isa 50:9).
Judah … rottenness—Ephraim, or
the ten tribes, are as a garment eaten by the moth; Judah as the
body itself consumed by rottenness (Pr 12:4). Perhaps alluding to the superiority of
the latter in having the house of David, and the temple, the religious
center of the nation [Grotius]. As in
14, the violence of the
calamity is prefigured by the "wound" which "a lion" inflicts, so here
its long protracted duration, and the certainty and completeness of the
destruction from small unforeseen beginnings, by the images of a slowly
but surely consuming moth and rottenness.
13. wound—literally, "bandage"; hence a
bandaged wound (Isa 1:6; Jer 30:12). "Saw," that is, felt its weakened
state politically, and the dangers that threatened it. It aggravates
their perversity, that, though aware of their unsound and calamitous
state, they did not inquire into the cause or seek a right remedy.
went … to the Assyrian—First,
Menahem (2Ki 15:19)
applied to Pul; again, Hoshea to Shalmaneser (2Ki 17:3).
sent to King Jareb—Understand
Judah as the nominative to "sent." Thus, as "Ephraim saw his
sickness" (the first clause) answers in the parallelism to "Ephraim
went to the Assyrian" (the third clause), so "Judah saw his wound" (the
second clause) answers to (Judah) "sent to King Jareb" (the
fourth clause). Jareb ought rather to be translated, "their
defender," literally, "avenger" [Jerome]. The Assyrian "king," ever ready, for his
own aggrandizement, to mix himself up with the affairs of neighboring
states, professed to undertake Israel's and Judah's
cause; in Jud 6:32,
Jerub, in Jerub-baal is so used, namely, "plead one's
cause." Judah, under Ahaz, applied to Tiglath-pileser for aid against
Syria and Israel (2Ki 16:7, 8; 2Ch 28:16-21); the Assyrian "distressed him, but
strengthened him not," fulfiling the prophecy here, "he could not heal
you, nor cure you of your wound.
14. lion—The black lion and the
young lion are emblems of strength and ferocity (Ps 91:13).
I, even I—emphatic; when I, even I,
the irresistible God, tear in pieces (Ps 50:22), no Assyrian power can rescue.
go away—as a lion stalks leisurely
back with his prey to his lair.
15. return to my place—that is, withdraw
till they acknowledge their
offence—The Hebrew is, "till they suffer the penalty
of their guilt." Probably "accepting the punishment of their
guilt" (compare Zec 11:5) is
included in the idea, as English Version translates. Compare
Le 26:40, 41; Jer 29:12, 13; Eze 6:9; 20:43;
seek my face—that is, seek My favor
in … affliction … seek me
early—that is, diligently; rising up before dawn to seek Me
119:147; compare Ps 78:34).