Hosea 12:12-13

12. And Jacob fled into the country of Syria, and Israel served for a wife, and for a wife he kept sheep.

12. Et fugit Jacob in agrum Syriae, et servivit Israel in uxore (hoc est, pro uxore,) et pro uxore custodivit (id est, custos fuit gregis.)

13. And by a prophet the Lord brought Israel out of Egypt, and by a prophet was he preserved.

13. Et per Prophetam eduxit (ascendere fecit) Jehova Israelem ex Aegypto, et per Prophetam servatus est.


The Prophet now employs another kind of reproof, -- that the Israelites did not consider from what source they had proceeded, and were forgetful of their origin. And the Prophet designedly touches on this point; for we know how boldly and proudly the people boasted of their own eminence. For as a heathen gloried that he was an Athenian, so also the Jews think that all we are brute animals, and imagine that they have a different origin from the rest of mankind, because they are the posterity of Abraham. Since then they were blinded by such a pride as this God meant to undeceive them, as he does here: "Jacob your father, who was he? What was his condition? What was his nobility? What was his power? What was his dignity and eminence according to the flesh? Yea, truly, he was a fugitive from his own country: had he always lived at home, his father was but a sojourner; but he was constrained to flee into Syria. And how splendidly did he live there? He was indeed with his uncle; but he was treated no better than if he had been some worthless slave: He served for a wife. And how did he serve? He was a keeper of sheep. Go then now and boast of your dignity, as if ye were nobler than others, as if your condition were better than that of the common sort of people." God then brings against them the condition of their father, in whose name they gloried, but who was an abject person and a fugitive, who was like a worthless slave, who was a keeper of sheep; who, in short, had nothing which could be deemed reputable among men.

And God, he says, brought you up by a Prophet from Egypt, and by a Prophet you have been preserved. This was, as it were, their second nativity. Some think that the comparison is between their first origin and their deliverance; as though Hosea had said, "Though you were born of a very poor and ignoble man, yet God has favoured you with singular privilege; for he gave Moses to be the minister of your liberation." But in my judgement the Prophet speaks in a more simple way; for, first, he shows what was the first origin of the people, that they were from Jacob; and then he shows what was their second origin; for God had again begotten them when he brought them out of Egypt. And they were there, as it is well known, very miserable, and they did not come out by their own velour, they did not attain for themselves their liberty; but Moses alone extended his hand to them, having been sent for this end by God. Since the case was so, it was strange that they now provoked God, as he says in the last verse, by their altars.

And it very frequently occurs in the Prophets, that God reminds the Israelites whence or from what source they had arisen, "Look to your origin, to the stone from which ye were cut off; for Abraham was alone and childless, and his wife also was barren;" and yet God multiplied their race, (Isaiah 51:2.) This was said, because the Israelites did not look to God, but in their adversity despaired, when no way appeared by which they could be restored; but in their prosperity they became proud, and regarded as nothing the favour of God. We then see what the Prophet had in view. The Lord says, "Acknowledge what you owe to me; for I have chosen Jacob your father, and have not chosen him because he was eminent for his great dignity in the world; for he was a fugitive and a keeper of sheep, and served for his wife. I afterwards redeemed you from the land of Egypt; and in that coming forth there was nothing that you did; there is no reason why you should boast that liberation was obtained by your velour; for Moses alone was my servant in that deliverance. I did then beget you the second time, when I redeemed you. How great is your ingratitude, when you do not own and worship me as your Redeemer?" We now then see that the Prophet thus treated the people of Israel, that it might in every way appear that they were unworthy of so many and so great benefits bestowed on them by God; for they had perverted all the works of God, and so perverted them, that they did not think that any thing, belonged to him, and they returned no thanks to God; nay, they extolled themselves, as if God had never conferred on them any kindness.

But I will not dwell on the history of Jacob, for it is not necessary for elucidating the meaning of the Prophet, and it is well known: it is enough to refer only to what is suitable to this place. Jacob then fled into the country of Syria; and then he says, Israel served for a wife. He mentions the name, Israel, after Jacob. The name, Israel, was noble and memorable; yea, it was given by God to the holy patriarch: but at the same time Jacob did not in himself or in his own person excel; he nevertheless served, and was in a most humble condition, and he served for a wife; that is, that he might have a wife; for we know how he made an agreement with his uncle Laban.

Further, By a Prophet he brought them out of Egypt. This was their second nativity: and by a Prophet Israel was preserved. There is an allusion here to the word rms, shimer; for I take the word rmsn, nushimer, passively. He had said before that Jacob kept sheep; and he says now, rmsn, nushimer, kept was Israel by a Prophet; as though he said, "Ye now see that God has given you a reason for humility in your father, since he was suffered to be so miserably distressed; and shen he preserved you beyond the hope of men, and by no human means except by Moses, who was also a fugitives and who came forth as from a cave, for he was also a keeper of sheep. Since, then, ye have been thus kept by the favour of God, how comes it that your present condition fascinates you, and that ye consider not that you were once redeemed by the Lord for this end, that ye might be wholly devoted to him forever?" Now he adds -- (I will also run over this verse, for there will be no lecture to-morrow, nor the day after) --