9. They have deeply corrupted themselves, 1 as in the days of Gibeah: therefore he will remember their iniquity, he will visit their sins.
9. Profundaverunt (ad verbum, alii vertunt, Multiplicaverunt, sed male; alii, Astute cogitaverunt, quod mihi etiam non placet: sed quia verbum quod posui neque Latinum est et esset ambiguum, ideo vertamus, Profunde vel alte defixi sunt) corruperunt sicuti in diebus Gabaa; recoradabitur iniquitatis eorum, visitabit scelera eorum.
Hosea declares here, that the people were so sunk in their vices, that they could not be drawn out of them. He who has fallen can raise up himself when one extends a hand to him; and he who strives to emerge from the mire, finding a helper to assist him, can plant his foot again on solid ground: but when he is cast into a gulf, he has no hope of a recovery. I extend my hand in vain, when one sinks in a shipwreck, and is fallen into the deep. So now the Prophet says, that the people were unhealable, because they were deeply fixed; and further, because they were infected with corruptions. He therefore intimates that their diseases were incurable, that they had struck roots so deeply, that they could by no means be cleansed.
The Gibeonites, we know, were so fallen, that their city differed nothing from Sodom; for unbridled licentiousness in all kinds of vices prevailed there, and lusts so monstrous reigned among them, that there was no distinction between good and evil, no shame whatever. Hence it was, that they ravished the Levite's wife, and killed her by their filthy obscenities: and this was the cause of that memorable slaughter which nearly demolished the whole tribe of Benjamin. The history is related in the Book of Judges 19, 20 ,21; and it deserved to be recorded, that people might know what it is not to walk with care and fear in obedience to the Lord. Who could indeed have believed that a people taught in the law of God could have fallen into such a state of madness as this city did, which was nigh to Jerusalem, the destined place of the temple, though not yet built? and, not to mention the temple, who could have thought that this city, which was in the midst of the people, could have been so demented, that, like brute beasts, they should abandon themselves to the filthiest lusts? nay, that they should have been more filthy than the beasts? For monstrous lusts, as I have said, were there left unpunished, as at Sodom and in the neighbouring cities.
The Prophet says now, that the whole of Israel had become as corrupt as formerly the citizens of Gibeah. Deeply sunk, then, were the Israelites in their vices, and were as addicted as the inhabitants of Gibeah to their corruptions. What, then, is to follow?
We now then perceive the simple meaning of the Prophet. But let us hence also learn to rouse ourselves; and let us, in the first place, notice what the Prophet says of the Israelites, that they were deeply fixed; for men must be filled with contempt to God, when they thus descend, as Solomon says, (Proverbs 18:4,) to the deep. Lets then each of us stir up himself to repentance and carefully beware lest he should descend into this deep gulf. But since he says, "the Lord will remember and will visit", let us know that they are greatly deceived who indulge themselves as long as the Lord mercifully bears with their sins; for though he may for a time conceal his displeasure yet an oblivion will never possess him: but at a fit time he will remember, and prove that he does so by executing a just punishment.
Grant, Almighty God, that as thou shinest on us by thy word, we may not be blind at mid-day, nor wilfully seek darkness, and thus lull our minds asleep: but that exercising ourselves in thy word, we may stir up ourselves more and more to fear thy name, and thus present ourselves, and all our pursuits, as a sacrifice to thee, that thou mayest peaceably rule, and perpetually dwell in us, until thou gatherest us to thy celestial habitation, where there is reserved for us eternal rest and glory, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
1 Our translators, contrary to their usual practice, have paraphrased this clause, without any notice in the margin. -- Ed.