Hosea 7:8

8. Ephraim, he hath mixed himself among the people; Ephraim is a cake not turned. 1

8. Ephraim inter populos ipse miscuitse: Ephraim fuit panis subciniricius, qui versus non est.


God now complains, that Ephraim, whom he had chosen to be a peculiar possession to himself, differed nothing from other nations. The children of Abraham, we know, had been adopted by God for this end, that they might not be like the heathens: for the calling of God brings holiness with it. And we ought to remember that memorable sentence, which often occurs, 'Be ye holy, for I am holy.' The Israelites then ought to have been mindful of their calling, and to resolve to worship God purely, and not to pollute themselves with the defilements and filth of the Gentiles. But God says here that Ephraim differed now nothing from the uncircumcised nations. He mingles himself, he says, with the peoples. And there is an emphasis to be noticed in the pronoun demonstrative, awh, eva, Ephraim himself, he says: for surely this was unworthy and by no means to be endured, that Ephraim, on whom God had engraven the mark of his election, was now entangled in the superstitions of the Gentiles. We now then see the drift of the Prophet's words, He, even Ephraim, mingles himself with the nations. If the condition of Israel and of all the nations had been alike and equal, the Prophet would not have thus spoken; but as God had designed Ephraim to be holy to himself; the Prophet here amplifies his sin, when he says that even Ephraim had mingled himself with the nations.

He then adds, Ephraim is like bread baked under the ashes, which is not turned. This metaphor most fitly suits the meaning of the Prophet and the circumstances of this passage, provided it be rightly understood. And I think the Prophet simply meant this, that Ephraim was in nothing fixed, but was inconstant and changeable; as, when we in vulgar language notify their changeableness who are not consistent with themselves, and in whom there is no sincerity, we say, Il n'est ne chair ne poisson, (It is neither flesh nor fish.) So also in this place the Prophet says, that Ephraim was like a cake burnt on one side, and was on the other doughy, or a crude and unbaked lump of paste. For Ephraim, we know, boasted themselves to be a people sacred to God; and since circumcision distinguished that people from other nations, there seemed to be some difference; but in the meantime the worship of God was corrupted; all the sacrifices were adulterated, as we have already seen and the whole of their religion was a confused mixture; yea, a chaos composed of Gentile superstitions and of something that resembled true and legitimate worship. When, therefore, the Israelites were thus perfidiously mocking God, they had nothing fixed: hence the Prophet compares them to a cake, which, being placed on the hearth, is not turned; for on one side it must be burnt, while on the other it remains unbaked. 2

The Prophet here anticipates what the Israelites might object; for hypocrites, we know, never want pretenses. The Israelites might then bring forward this defense, "Thou sayest that we are now entangled in the pollutions of the heathens; but the heathens have no circumcision; among them the God of Israel is despised, there is no altar on which the people can sacrifice to the true God; we, on the contrary, are the children of Abraham, we have the God who stretched forth his hand to deliver us from Egypt, and the priesthood ever abides with us." As then the Israelites might have introduced these pretenses for their superstitions, the Prophet says, by anticipation, that they were like bread baked under the ashes, which, being thrown on the hearth, is not turned, so that the baking might be equal; for then on the one side it would receive heat, and on the other there would be no proportionate temperature. "Ye are," he says, "on one side burnt, but on the other crude; so that with you there is nothing but mere perfidiousness." We now understand what the Prophet means.

But this similitude might also be referred to their punishment; for God had shown before in many places, that the Israelites were so perverse, that they could not be subdued nor brought to a sound mind by any distresses: and he again repeats this complaint. The meaning of the words may then be this, That Ephraim was like a cake, which was not turned on the hearth, because he had been sharply and severely chastised, but without any benefit; being like reprobates, who, though the Lord may bruise them, yet continue obstinate in their hardness. They are then on one side burnt, because they are nearly wasted away under their evils; but on the other side they are wholly unbaked, because the Lord had not softened their perverseness. But what I have adduced in the first place is more suitable to the context.

We now then understand what the Prophet says: in the first clause God accuses Ephraim, because he had made himself profane by receiving the rites and superstitions of heathens, so that there was, as I have said before, a confused mixture. In the second place, he answers the Israelites, in case they pleaded in their favor the name of God, for it was usual for them to make false pretenses. He therefore says, that they were in some things different from the uncircumcised nations, but that this difference was nothing before God, for they were like bread baked under the ashes, which is neither baked nor unbaked on either side; for on one side it is burnt, and on the other it remains unbaked. 3 It now follows --

1 "Ephraim! he hath mixed himself among the peoples! Ephraim is a cake not turned!" --Bp. Horsley.

The Bishop adds this note, -- "The word Myme, in the plural, always signifies the various nations of the earth, the unenlightened nations, in opposition to God's peculiar people, the Israelites."

2 Bishop Horsley gives the same exposition, -- "One thing on one side, another on the other; burnt to a coal on the bottom, raw dough at the top. An apt image of a character that is all inconsistencies. Such were the ten tribes of the Prophet's day; worshippers of Jehovah in profession, but adopting all the idolatries of the neighboring nations, in addition to their own semi-idolatry of the calves."

"Baked on one side and raw on the other, he is neither through hot nor through cold, but partly a Jew and partly a Gentile." -- Geneva Bible.

3 The account which Pocock, as quoted by Newcome, gives of baking in the East among the country-people is the following: -- "The people make a fire in the middle of the room: when the bread is ready for baking they sweep a corner of the hearth, lay the bread there, cover it with hot ashes and embers, and in a quarter of an hour they turn it."