Hosea 4:11

11. Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the heart.

11. Scortatio et vinum et mustum auterent cor (alli verunt, occupant cor.)


The verb xql lakech, means to take away; and this sense is also admissible that wine and wantonness take possession of the heart; but I take its simpler meaning, to take away. But it is not a general truth as most imagine, who regard it a proverbial saying, that wantonness and wine deprive men of their right mind and understanding: on the contrary, it is to be restricted, I doubt not, to the Israelites; as though the Prophet had said, that they were without a right mind, and like brute animals, because drunkenness and fornication had infatuated or fascinated them. But we may take both in a metaphorical sense; as fornication may be superstition, and so also drunkenness: yet it seems more suitable to the context to consider, that the Prophet here reproaches the Israelites for having petulantly cast aside every instruction through being too much given to their pleasures and too much cloyed. Since then the Israelites had been enriched with great plenty, God had given way to abominable indulgences, the Prophet says, that they were without sense: and this is commonly the case with such men. I will not therefore treat here more at large of drunkenness and fornication.

It is indeed true, that when any one becomes addicted to wantonness, he loses both modesty and a right mind, and also that wine is as it were poisonous, for it is, as one has said, a mixed poison: and the earth, when it sees its own blood drank up intemperately, takes its revenge on men. These things are true; but let us see what the Prophet meant.

Now, as I have said, he simply directs his discourse to the Israelites, and says, that they were sottish and senseless, because the Lord had dealt too liberally with them. For, as I have said, the kingdom of Israel was then very opulent, and full of all kinds of luxury. The Prophet then touches now distinctly on this very thing: "How comes it that ye are now so senseless, that there is not a particle of right understanding among you? Even because ye are given to excesses, because there is among you too large an abundance of all good things: hence it is, that all indulge their own lusts; and these take away your heart." In short, God means here that the Israelites abused his blessings, and that excesses blinded them. This is the meaning. Let us now go on --