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Hosea 4:18

18. Their drink is sour: they have committed whoredom continually: her rulers with shame do love, Give ye.

18. Putruit potus eorum; scortando scortati sunt: dilexerunt, Afferte, turpiter (vel, ignominiam קלון) principes ejus.


The Prophet, using a metaphor, says here first, that their drink had become putrid; which means, that they had so intemperately given themselves up to every kind of wickedness, that all things among them had become fetid. And the Prophet alludes to shameful and beastly excess: for the drunken are so addicted to wine, that they emit a disgusting smell, and are never satisfied with drinking, until by spewing, they throw up the excessive draughts they have taken. The Prophet then had this in view. He speaks not, however, of the drinking of wine, this is certain: but by drunkenness, on the contrary, he means that unbridled licentiousness, which then prevailed among the people. Since then they allowed themselves every thing they pleased without shame, they seemed like drunken men, insatiable, who, when wholly given to wine, think it their highest delight ever to have wine on the palate, or to fill copiously the throat, or to glut their stomach: when drunken men do these things, then they send forth the offensive smell of wine. This then is what the Prophet means, when he says, Putrid has become their drink; that is, the people observe no moderation in sinning; they offend not God now, in the common and usual manner, but are wholly like beastly men, who are nothing ashamed, constantly to belch and to spew, so that they offend by their fetid smell all who meet them. Such are this people.

He afterwards adds, By wantoning they have become wanton This is another comparison. The Prophet, we know, has hitherto been speaking of wantonness in a metaphorical sense, signifying thereby, that Israel perfidiously abandoned themselves to idols, and thus violated their faith pledged to the true God. He now follows the same metaphor here, ‘By wantoning they have become wanton.’ Hence he reproaches and represents them as infamous on two accounts, — because they cast aside every shame, like the drunken who are so delighted with wine, that through excess they send forth its offensive smell, — and because they were like wantons.

At last he says, Her princes have shamefully loved, Bring ye Here, in a peculiar way, the Prophet shows that the great sinned with extreme licentiousness; for they were given to bribery: and the eyes of the wise, we know, are blinded, and the hearts of the just are perverted, by gifts. But the Prophet designedly made this addition, that we might know that there were then none among the people who attempted to apply a remedy to the many prevailing vices; for even the rulers coveted gain; no one remembered for what purpose he had been called. Hence it happened that every one indulged himself with impunity in whatever pleased him. How so? Because there were no censors of public morals. Here we see in what a wretched state the people are, when there are none to exercise discipline, when even the judges gape for gain, and care for nothing but for gifts and riches; for then what the Prophet describes here as to the people of Israel must happen. Her princes, then, have loved, Bring ye.

Respecting the word קלון, kolun, we must shortly say, that Hosea does not simply allude to any kinds of gifts, but to such gifts as proved that there was a public sale of justice; as though he said, “Now the judges, when they say, Bring ye, when they love, Bring ye, make no distinction whatever between right and wrong, and think all this lawful; for the people are become insensible to such a disgraceful conduct: hence they basely and shamefully seek gain.”

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