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Israel Will Reap the Whirlwind

1Set the trumpet to your lips!
One like a vulture is over the house of the Lord,
because they have transgressed my covenant
and rebelled against my law.
2To me they cry,
“My God, we—Israel—know you.”
3Israel has spurned the good;
the enemy shall pursue him.

4They made kings, but not through me.
They set up princes, but I knew it not.
With their silver and gold they made idols
for their own destruction.
5I have11Hebrew He has spurned your calf, O Samaria.
My anger burns against them.
How long will they be incapable of innocence?
6For it is from Israel;
a craftsman made it;
it is not God.
The calf of Samaria
shall be broken to pieces.22Or shall go up in flames

7For they sow the wind,
and they shall reap the whirlwind.
The standing grain has no heads;
it shall yield no flour;
if it were to yield,
strangers would devour it.
8Israel is swallowed up;
already they are among the nations
as a useless vessel.
9For they have gone up to Assyria,
a wild donkey wandering alone;
Ephraim has hired lovers.
10Though they hire allies among the nations,
I will soon gather them up.
And the king and princes shall soon writhe
because of the tribute.

11Because Ephraim has multiplied altars for sinning,
they have become to him altars for sinning.
12Were I to write for him my laws by the ten thousands,
they would be regarded as a strange thing.
13As for my sacrificial offerings,
they sacrifice meat and eat it,
but the Lord does not accept them.
Now he will remember their iniquity
and punish their sins;
they shall return to Egypt.
14For Israel has forgotten his Maker
and built palaces,
and Judah has multiplied fortified cities;
so I will send a fire upon his cities,
and it shall devour her strongholds.

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Ho 8:1-14. Prophecy of the Irruption of the Assyrians, in Punishment for Israel's Apostasy, Idolatry, and Setting Up of Kings without God's Sanction.

In Ho 8:14, Judah is said to multiply fenced cities; and in Ho 8:7-9, Israel, to its great hurt, is said to have gone up to Assyria for help. This answers best to the reign of Menahem. For it was then that Uzziah of Judah, his contemporary, built fenced cities (2Ch 26:6, 9, 10). Then also Israel turned to Assyria and had to pay for their sinful folly a thousand talents of silver (2Ki 15:19) [Maurer].

1. Set the trumpet, &c.—to give warning of the approach of the enemy: "To thy palate (that is, 'mouth,' Job 31:30, Margin) the trumpet"; the abruptness of expression indicates the suddenness of the attack. So Ho 5:8.

as … eagle—the Assyrian (De 28:49; Jer 48:40; Hab 1:8).

against … house of … Lord—not the temple, but Israel viewed as the family of God (Ho 9:15; Nu 12:7; Zec 9:8; Heb 3:2; 1Ti 3:15; 1Pe 4:17).

2. My God, we know thee—the singular, "My," is used distributively, each one so addressing God. They, in their hour of need, plead their knowledge of God as the covenant-people, while in their acts they acknowledge Him not (compare Mt 7:21, 22; Tit 1:16; also Isa 29:13; Jer 7:4). The Hebrew joins "Israel," not as English Version, with "shall cry," but "We, Israel, know thee"; God denies the claim thus urged on the ground of their descent from Israel.

3. Israel—God repeats the name in opposition to their use of it (Ho 8:2).

the thing that is goodJerome translates, "God" who is good and doing good (Ps 119:68). He is the chief object rejected, but with Him also all that is good.

the enemy shall pursue him—in just retribution from God.

4. kings … not by me—not with My sanction (1Ki 11:31; 12:20). Israel set up Jeroboam and his successors, whereas God had appointed the house of David as the rightful kings of the whole nation.

I knew it not—I approved it not (Ps 1:6).

of … gold … idols—(Ho 2:8; 13:2).

that they may be cut off—that is, though warned of the consequences of idolatry, as it were with open eyes they rushed on their own destruction. So Jer 27:10, 15; 44:8.

5. hath cast thee off—As the ellipsis of thee is unusual, Maurer translates, "thy calf is abominable." But the antithesis to Ho 8:3 establishes English Version, "Israel hath cast off the thing that is good"; therefore, in just retribution, "thy calf hath cast thee off," that is, is made by God the cause of thy being cast off (Ho 10:15). Jeroboam, during his sojourn in Egypt, saw Apis worshipped at Memphis, and Mnevis at Heliopolis, in the form of an ox; this, and the temple cherubim, suggested the idea of the calves set up at Dan and Beth-el.

how long … ere they attain to innocency?—How long will they be incapable of bearing innocency? [Maurer].

6. from Israel was it—that is, the calf originated with them, not from Me. "It also," as well as their "kings set up" by them, "but not by Me" (Ho 8:4).

7. sown … reap—(Pr 22:8; Ga 6:7). "Sow … wind," that is, to make the vain show of worship, while faith and obedience are wanting [Calvin]. Rather, to offer senseless supplications to the calves for good harvests (compare Ho 2:8); the result being that God will make them "reap no stalk," that is, "standing corn." Also, the phraseology proverbially means that all their undertakings shall be profitless (Pr 11:29; Ec 5:16).

the bud—or, "growth."

strangers—foreigners (Ho 7:9).

8. vessel wherein is no pleasure—(Ps 41:12; Jer 22:28; 48:38).

9. gone … to Assyria—referring to Menahem's application for Pul's aid in establishing him on the throne (compare Ho 5:13; 7:11). Menahem's name is read in the inscriptions in the southwest palace of Nimrod, as a tributary to the Assyrian king in his eighth year. The dynasty of Pul, or Phalluka, was supplanted at Nineveh by that of Tiglath-pileser, about 768 (or 760) B.C. Semiramis seems to have been Pul's wife, and to have withdrawn to Babylon in 768; and her son, Nabonassar, succeeding after a period of confusion, originated "the era of Nabonassar," 747 B.C. [G. V. Smith]. Usually foreigners coming to Israel's land were said to "go up"; here it is the reverse, to intimate Israel's sunken state, and Assyria's superiority.

wild ass—a figure of Israel's headstrong perversity in following her own bent (Jer 2:24).

alone by himself—characteristic of Israel in all ages: "lo, the people shall dwell alone" (Nu 23:9; compare Job 39:5-8).

hired lovers—reversing the ordinary way, namely, that lovers should hire her (Eze 16:33, 34).

10. will I gather them—namely, the nations (Assyria, &c.) against Israel, instead of their assisting her as she had wished (Eze 16:37).

a little—rather, "in a little" [Henderson]. English Version gives good sense: They shall sorrow "a little" at the imposition of the tribute; God suspended yet the great judgment, namely, their deportation by Assyria.

the burden of the king of princes—the tribute imposed on Israel (under Menahem) by the Assyrian king Pul, (2Ki 15:19-22), who had many "princes" under his sway (Isa 10:8).

11. God in righteous retribution gives them up to their own way; the sin becomes its own punishment (Pr 1:31).

many altars—in opposition to God's law (De 12:5, 6, 13, 14).

to sin … to sin—Their altars which were "sin" (whatever religious intentions they might plead) should be treated as such, and be the source of their punishment (1Ki 12:30; 13:34).

12. great things of … law—(De 4:6, 8; Ps 19:8; 119:18, 72; 147:19, 20). Maurer not so well translates, "the many things of My law."

my law—as opposed to their inventions. This reference of Hosea to the Pentateuch alone is against the theory that some earlier written prophecies have not come down to us.

strange thing—as if a thing with which they had nothing to do.

13. sacrifices of mine offerings—that is, which they offer to Me.

eat it—Their own carnal gratification is the object which they seek, not My honor.

now—that is, "speedily."

shall return to Egypt—(Ho 9:3, 6; 11:11). The same threat as in De 28:68. They fled thither to escape from the Assyrians (compare as to Judah, Jer 42:1-44:30), when these latter had overthrown their nation. But see on Ho 9:3.

14. forgotten … Maker—(De 32:18).

temples—to idols.

Judah … fenced cities—Judah, though less idolatrous than Israel, betrayed lack of faith in Jehovah by trusting more to its fenced cities than to Him; instead of making peace with God, Judah multiplied human defenses (Isa 22:8; Jer 5:17; Mic 5:10, 11).

I will send … fire upon … cities—Sennacherib burned all Judah's fenced cities except Jerusalem (2Ki 18:13).

palaces thereof—namely, of the land. Compare as to Jerusalem, Jer 17:27.