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1. The People and Their Father Jacob.

Hosea xii.

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.613613   This is especially true of vv. 11 and 12. 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,614614   Even in the most detachable portion, vv. 8-10, where the און of ver. 9 seems to refer to the באונו of ver. 4. 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.615615   Viz. in vv. 3 and 15. One is tempted to take the two fragments about the Patriarch (vv. 4, 5, and 13 f.) by themselves, and the more so that ver. 8 would follow so suitably on either ver. 2 or301 ver. 3. But this clue is not sufficient; and till one more evident is discovered, it is perhaps best to keep to the extant arrangement.616616   Beer indeed, at the close of a very ingenious analysis of the chapter (Z.A.T.W., 1893, pp. 281 ff.), claims to have proved that it contains "eine wohlgegliederte Rede des Propheten" (p. 292). But he reaches this conclusion only by several forced and precarious arguments. Especially unsound do his pleas appear that in 8b לעשק is a play upon the root-meaning of כנען, "lowly"; that כנען, in analogy to the בבטן of ver. 4, is the crude original, the raw material, of the Ephraim of ver. 9; and that כימי מועד is "the determined time" of the coming judgment on Israel.

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 ...617617   Something is written about Judah (remember what was said above about Hosea's treble parallels), but the text is too obscure for translation. The theory that it has been altered by a later Judæan writer in favour of his own people is probably correct: the Authorised Version translates in favour of Judah; so too Guthe in Kautzsch's Bibel. But an adverse statement is required by the parallel clauses, and the Hebrew text allows this: Judah is still wayward with God, and with the Holy One who is faithful. So virtually Ewald, Hitzig, Wünsche, Nowack and Cheyne. But Cornill and Wellhausen read the second half of the clause as עם־קדשים נצמד, profanes himself with Qedeshim (Z.A.T.W., 1887, pp. 286 ff.). Ephraim herds the wind618618   Why should not Hosea, the master of many forced phrases, have also uttered this one? This in answer to Wellhausen. and hunts the sirocco. All day long they heap up falsehood and fraud:619619   So LXX., reading שוא for שד. they strike a bargain with Assyria, and carry oil to Egypt, as Isaiah also complained.620620   Isa. xxx. 6.

Jehovah hath a quarrel with Israel621621   Heb. Judah, but surely Israel is required by the next verse, which is a play upon the two names Israel and Jacob. and is about to visit upon Jacob his ways; according to his deeds will302 He requite him. In the womb he supplanted his brother, and in his man's strength he wrestled with God.622622   Supplanted is 'aqab, the presumable root of Ja'aqab (Jacob). Wrestled with God is Sarah eth Elohim, the presumable origin of Yisra'el (Israel). 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 him623623   Heb. us, LXX. them. (or with us—that is, in the person of our father)....624624   Ver. 6—And Jehovah God of Hosts, Jehovah is His memorial, i.e. name—is probably an insertion for the reasons mentioned above, pp. 204 f. So thou by thy God—by His help,625625   This, the most natural rendering of the Hebrew phrase, has been curiously omitted by Beer, who says that באלהיך can only mean to thy God. Hitzig: "durch deinen Gott." 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.626626   Some take these words as addressed by Jehovah at Bethel to the Patriarch. 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.627627   So nearly all interpreters. Hitzig aptly quotes Polybius, De Virtute, L. ix.:διὰ τὴν ἔμφυτον Φοίνιξι πλεονεξίαν, κ.τ.λ.. One might also refer to the Romans' idea of the "Punica fides." With false balances in his hand, he loves to defraud. For Ephraim said, Ah but I have grown rich, I have won myself wealth.628628   Or, full man's strength: ct. ver. 4. None of my gains can touch me with guilt which is sin.629629   But the LXX. reads: All his gains shalt not be found of him because of the iniquity which he has sinned; and Wellhausen emends this to: All his gain sufficeth not for the guilt which it has incurred. But I, Jehovah thy God303 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 civilisation 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,630630   Others to demons. 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 land631631   Field, but here in sense of territory. See Hist. Geog., pp. 79 f. 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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