Ho 12:1-14. Reproof of
Ephraim and Judah: Their Father Jacob Ought to Be a Pattern to
This prophecy was delivered about the time of
Israel's seeking the aid of the Egyptian king So, in violation of their
covenant with Assyria (see Ho 12:1). He
exhorts them to follow their father Jacob's persevering prayerfulness,
which brought God's favor upon him. As God is unchangeable, He will
show the same favor to Jacob's posterity as He did to Jacob, if, like
him, they seek God.
1. feedeth on wind—(Pr 15:14; Isa
44:20). Followeth after vain
objects, such as alliances with idolaters and their idols (compare
east wind—the simoon, blowing from the
desert east of Palestine, which not only does not benefit, but does
injury. Israel follows not only things vain, but things pernicious
(compare Job 15:2).
increaseth lies—accumulates lie upon
lie, that is, impostures wherewith they deceive themselves, forsaking
the truth of God.
practised by Israel [Maurer]. Acts which
would prove the cause of Israel's own desolation [Calvin].
covenant with … Assyrians—(Ho 5:13;
oil … into Egypt—as a present
from Israel to secure Egypt's alliance (Isa 30:6; 57:9; compare 2Ki 17:4). Palestine was famed for oil (Eze 27:17).
2. controversy with Judah—(Ho 4:1; Mic
6:2). Judah, under Ahaz, had
fallen into idolatry (2Ki 16:3,
Jacob—that is, the ten tribes. If
Judah, the favored portion of the nation, shall not be spared, much
less degenerate Israel.
3. He—Jacob, contrasted with his
degenerate descendants, called by his name, Jacob (Ho 12:2; compare Mic 2:7). He took Esau by the heel in the
womb in order to obtain, if possible, the privileges of the first-born
25:22-26), whence he took his
name, Jacob, meaning "supplanter"; and again, by his strength,
prevailed in wrestling with God for a blessing (Ge 32:24-29); whereas ye disregard My
promises, putting your confidence in idols and foreign alliances.
He conquered God, ye are the slaves of idols. Only have
Jehovah on your side, and ye are stronger than Edom, or even Assyria.
So the spiritual Israel lays hold of the heel of Jesus, "the First-born
of many brethren," being born again of the Holy Spirit. Having no right
in themselves to the inheritance, they lay hold of the bruised heel,
the humanity of Christ crucified, and let not go their hold of Him who
is not, as Esau, a curse (Heb 12:16, 17), but, by becoming a curse for us, is a
blessing to us.
power with God—referring to his name,
"Israel," prince of God, acquired on that occasion (compare
11:12). As the promised
Canaan had to be gained forcibly by Israel, so heaven by the faithful
3:21; compare Lu 13:24). "Strive," literally, "as in the agony
of a contest." So the Canaanitess (Mt 15:22).
his strength—which lay in his
conscious weakness, whence, when his thigh was put out of joint by God,
he hung upon Him. To seek strength was his object; to grant it,
God's. Yet God's mode of procedure was strange. In human form He tries
as it were to throw Jacob down. When simple wrestling was not enough,
He does what seems to ensure Jacob's fall, dislocating his thigh joint,
so that he could no longer stand. Yet it was then that Jacob prevailed.
Thus God teaches us the irresistible might of conscious weakness. For
when weak in ourselves, we are strong by His strength put in us (Job 23:6; Isa 27:5; 2Co 12:9, 10).
4. the angel—the uncreated Angel of the
Covenant, as God the Son appears in the Old Testament (Mal 3:1).
made supplication—Ge 32:26: "I will not let thee go, except thou
he found him—The angel found Jacob,
when he was fleeing from Esau into Syria: the Lord appearing to him "in
Beth-el" (Ge 28:11-19; 35:1). What a sad contrast, that in this same
Beth-el now Israel worships the golden calves!
there he spake with us—"with
us," as being in the loins of our progenitor Jacob (compare
Ps 66:6, "They … we;" Heb 7:9,
10). What God there spoke to
Jacob appertains to us. God's promises to him belong to all his
posterity who follow in the steps of his prayerful faith.
5. Lord God—Jehovah, a name implying His immutable constancy
to His promises. From the Hebrew root, meaning "existence."
"He that is, was, and is to be," always the same (Heb 13:8; Re
1:4, 8; compare Ex 3:14, 15;
6:3). As He was unchangeable
in His favor to Jacob, so will He be to His believing posterity.
of hosts—which Israel foolishly
worshipped. Jehovah has all the hosts (saba) or powers of heaven
and earth at His command, so that He is as all-powerful, as He is
faithful, to fulfil His promises (Ps 135:6; Am 5:27).
memorial—the name expressive of the
character in which God was ever to be remembered (Ps 135:13).
6. thou—who dost wish to be a true
descendant of Jacob.
God—who is therefore bound by covenant to hear thy
keep mercy and judgment—(Mic 6:8). These two include the second-table
commandments, duty towards one's neighbor, the most visible test of the
sincerity on one's repentance.
wait on thy God—alone, not on thy
idols. Including all the duties of the first table (Ps 37:3, 5, 7;
7. merchant—a play on the double sense
of the Hebrew, "Canaan," that is, a Canaanite and a "merchant"
16:3: "Thy birth is …
of Canaan." They who naturally were descendants of pious Jacob
had become virtually Canaanites, who were proverbial as cheating
merchants (compare Isa 23:11,
Margin), the greatest reproach to Israel, who despised Canaan.
The Phœnicians called themselves Canaanites or
merchants (Isa 23:8).
oppress—open violence: as the
"balances of deceit" imply fraud.
8. And—that is, Notwithstanding.
Yet I am … rich—I regard not
what the prophets say: I am content with my state, as I am rich (Re 3:17). Therefore, in just retribution,
this is the very language of the enemy in being the instrument of
Israel's punishment. Zec 11:5:
"They that sell them say … I am rich." Far better is
poverty with honesty, than riches gained by sin.
my labours—my gains by labor.
they shall find none—that is, none
shall find any.
iniquity … that were
sin—iniquity that would bring down the penalty of sin.
Ephraim argues, My success in my labors proves that I am not a guilty
sinner as the prophets assert. Thus sinners pervert God's
long-suffering goodness (Mt 5:45) into
a justification of their impenitence (compare Ec 8:11-13).
9. And—rather, "And yet." Though Israel
deserves to be cast off for ever, yet I am still what I have been from
the time of My delivering them out of Egypt, their covenant God;
therefore, "I will yet make thee to dwell in tabernacles," that is, to
keep the feast of tabernacles again in remembrance of a new deliverance
out of bondage. Fulfilled primarily at the return from Babylon (Ne 8:17). Fully and antitypically to be
fulfilled at the final restoration from the present dispersion (Zec 14:16; compare Le 23:42, 43).
10. by … the prophets—literally,
"upon," that is, My spirit resting on them. I deposited with
them My instructions which ought to have brought you to the right
way. An aggravation of your guilt, that it was not through ignorance
you erred, but in defiance of God and His prophets [Calvin]. Ahijah the Shilonite, Shemaiah, Iddo,
Azariah, Hanani, Jehu, Elijah, Elisha, Micaiah, Joel, and Amos were
"the prophets" before Hosea.
visions … similitudes—I adopted
such modes of communication, adapted to man's capacities, as were
calculated to arouse attention: I left no means untried to reform you.
The first, second, and third chapters contain examples of
11. Is there iniquity in Gilead?—He asks
the question, not as if the answer was doubtful, but to strengthen the
affirmation: "Surely they are vanity"; or as Maurer translates, "They are nothing but
iniquity." Iniquity, especially idolatry, in Scripture is often
termed "vanity." Pr 13:11:
"Wealth gotten by vanity," that is, iniquity. Isa 41:29: "They are all vanity …
images." "Gilead" refers to Mizpah-gilead, a city representing the
region beyond Jordan (Ho 6:8; Jud 11:29); as "Gilgal," the region on this side
of Jordan (Ho 4:15). In
all quarters alike they are utterly vile.
their altars are as heaps in the
furrows—that is, as numerous as such heaps: namely, the heaps
of stones cleared out of a stony field. An appropriate image, as at a
distance they look like altars (compare Ho 10:1, 4; 8:11). As the third member in the parallelism
answers to the first, "Gilgal" to "Gilead," so the fourth to the
second, "altars" to "vanity." The word "heaps" alludes to the name
"Gilgal," meaning "a heap of stones." The very scene of the general
circumcision of the people, and of the solemn passover kept after
crossing Jordan, is now the stronghold of Israel's idolatry.
12. Jacob fled … served—Though ye
pride yourselves on the great name of "Israel," forget not that your
progenitor was the same Jacob who was a fugitive, and who served for
Rachel fourteen years. He forgot not ME who delivered him when fleeing from Esau, and
when oppressed by Laban (Ge 28:5; 29:20, 28; De 26:5). Ye, though delivered from
12:13), and loaded with My
favors, are yet unwilling to return to Me.
country of Syria—the champaign region
of Syria, the portion lying between the Tigris and Euphrates, hence
called Mesopotamia. Padan-aram means the same, that is, "Low Syria," as
opposed to Aramea (meaning the "high country") or Syria (Ge 48:7).
13. by a prophet—Moses (Nu 12:6-8;
De 18:15, 18).
preserved—Translate, "kept"; there is
an allusion to the same Hebrew word in Ho 12:12, "kept sheep"; Israel was
kept by God as His flock, even as Jacob kept sheep
(Ps 80:1; Isa 63:11).
14. provoked him—that is, God.
leave his blood upon him—not take away
the guilt and penalty of the innocent blood shed by Ephraim in general,
and to Molech in particular.
his reproach shall his Lord return unto
him—Ephraim's dishonor to God in worshipping idols, God will
repay to him. That God is "his Lord" by right redemption and
special revelation to Ephraim only aggravates his guilt, instead of
giving him hope of escape. God does not give up His claim to them as
His, however they set aside His dominion.