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3. The Effects of Exile.

Hosea ix. 1-9.

Hosea now turns to describe the effects of exile upon the social and religious habits of the people. It must break up at once the joy and the sacredness of their lives. Every pleasure will be removed, every taste offended. Indeed, even now, with their conscience of having deserted Jehovah, they cannot pretend to enjoy the feasts of the Ba'alim in the same hearty way as the heathen with whom they mix. But, whether or no, the time is near when nature-feasts and all other religious ceremonies—all that makes life glad and regular and solemn—shall be impossible.

Rejoice not, O Israel, to the pitch of rapture like the heathen, for thou hast played the harlot from thy God; a harlot's hire hast thou loved on all threshing-floors.559559   On this verse see more particularly below, pp. 340 ff. Threshing-floor and wine-vat shall ignore560560   So LXX. them, and the new wine shall play them false. They shall not abide in the land of Jehovah, but Ephraim shall return to Egypt, and in Assyria they shall eat what is unclean. They shall not pour libations to Jehovah, nor prepare561561   Read יערכו. Cf. with the whole passage iii. 4 f. for Him their sacrifices. Like the bread of sorrows shall their280 bread562562   לחמם for להם. be; all that eat of it shall be defiled: yea, their bread shall be only for their appetite; they shall not bring it563563   יָבִיאוּ. to the temple of Jehovah. He cannot be worshipped off His own land. They will have to live like animals, divorced from religion, unable to hold communion with their God. What shall ye do for days564564   Plural: so LXX. of festival, or for a day of pilgrimage to Jehovah? For lo, they shall be gone forth from destruction,565565   Others read they are gone to Assyria. the shock and invasion of their land, only that Egypt may gather them in, Memphis give them sepulture, nettles inherit their jewels of silver, thorns come up in their tents. The threat of exile still wavers between Assyria and Egypt. And in Egypt Memphis is chosen as the destined grave of Israel; for even then her Pyramids and mausoleums were ancient and renowned, her vaults and sepulchres were countless and spacious.

But what need is there to seek the future for Israel's doom, when already this is being fulfilled by the corruption of her spiritual leaders?

The days of visitation have come, have come the days of requital. Israel already experiences566566   Literally knows. See below, p. 321, n. 682. them! A fool is the prophet, raving mad the man of the spirit. The old ecstasy of Saul's day has become delirium and fanaticism.567567   See above, p. 28. Why? For the mass of thy guilt and the multiplied treachery! Ephraim acts the spy with my God. There is probably a play on the name, for with the meaning a watchman for God it is elsewhere used as an honourable title of the prophets. The prophet is a fowler's snare upon all his ways. Treachery—they have281 made it profound in the very house of their God.568568   So, after the LXX., by taking העמיקו with this verse, 8, instead of with ver. 9. They have done corruptly, as in the days of Gibeah. Their iniquity is remembered; visitation is made on their sin.

These then were the symptoms of the profound political decay which followed on Israel's immorality. The national spirit and unity of the people had disappeared. Society—half of it was raw, half of it was baked to a cinder. The nation, broken into factions, produced no man to lead, no king with the stamp of God upon him. Anarchy prevailed; monarchs were made and murdered. There was no prestige abroad, nothing but contempt among the Gentiles for a people whom they had exhausted. Judgment was inevitable by exile—nay, it had come already in the corruption of the spiritual leaders of the nation.

Hosea now turns to probe a deeper corruption still.

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