Lecture Thirtieth

Hosea 11:6

6. And the sword shall abide on his cities, and shall consume his branches, and devour them, because of their own counsels.

6. Et cadet gladius in urbes ejus, et consumet vectes ejus (alii vertunt, ramos, vel, membra) et vorabit, propter consilia eorum.


As it was difficult to persuade proud people that the overthrow was at hand, which Hosea had foretold, seeing, as they did, that they were furnished with many defences, it is therefore now added, that their fortified cities would not prevent the enemy to break through, and to devastate the whole country, and to lead away the people captive. We now understand how this verse is connected with the last. The Prophet had threatened exile; but as the Israelites thought themselves safe in their nests, he adds, that there was no reason for them to trust in their fortresses, for the Lord could by the sword destroy all their cities.

He therefore says, The sword shall fall on their cities. The verb lwx, chul, means to abide, and to encamp, and sometimes to fall or rush upon: and this second sense is more suitable to this place. Some, however, render it, The sword shall abide on the cities until it consume them. But as to the meaning, there is not much difference. I will, however, briefly state what I deem the right view. The sword then shall fall, or rush, upon his cities; and further, it shall consume his bars. The Hebrews often call bars or bolts Mydb "badim", still oftener, branches, or members, -- the branches of a tree, or the members of man. Hence some take the word metaphorically, as meaning towns and villages; for they are, as it were, the branches or members of cities. Others, however, explain it as signifying sons, who grow from their parents as branches from the tree: but this seems too far-fetched. I do not disapprove of the opinion, that the Prophet refers here to towns and villages, which are, as it were, the appendages of cities, as branches spread out here and there from the tree. The sense then is not amiss, that the sword will consume and devour towns and villages, when it shall fall on the cities. But what I have already said of bolts seems more suitable to the design of the Prophet. We must at the same time consider the word Mydb, bedim, as including a part for the whole; for bolts were only a part of the fortifications; but the gates, being closed and fastened, render the cities strong. So this place, by taking a part for the whole, may be thus expounded, that the sword, when it fell on cities, would consume and destroy whatever strength and defence they possessed.

He at the same time mentions the cause, Because, he says, of their own counsels. No doubt, he added this expression, because the Israelites thought themselves wise; for ungodly men arrogate to themselves much prudence; and this they do, that they may, as it were, from their height look down on God, and laugh at every instruction. Since then they who despise God seem to themselves to be very wise, and to be fortified by their good counsels, the Prophet shows that the cause of ruin to the Israelites would be, that they were swollen with this diabolical prudence, and would not condescend to obey the word of the Lord.