Hosea 1

 

1 “The word of the Lord that came unto Hosea, the son of Beeri,” - The

prophets are divided into the former (rishonim, Zechariah 1:4) prophets and the

later prophets. The writings of the former prophets comprise most of the historical

books, for the Hebrew conception of avprophet was that of an individual inspired

by God to instruct men for the present or inform them of the future, whether orally

or by writing; the later were the prophets properly so called, while these, again, are

subdivided into the greater, consisting of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, and the

lesser, or minor, including the remaining twelve. The designation “minor” does

not imply any inferiority in importance of subject or value of contents, but

has respect solely to the smallness of their size as compared with the larger

discourses of the others. The twelve minor prophets were added to the

canon before its completion as a single book, “lest,” says Kimchi, in his

commentary on this verse, “a book of them should be lost because of its

smallness, if each one of them should be kept separate by itself.” They

were accordingly— dw>deka ejn monobi>blw| - dodeka en monobiblo

reckoned as one book.  The name Hosea, like other Hebrew names, is

significant, and denotes “deliverance,” or “salvation;” or, the abstract being

put for the concrete, “deliverer,” or “savior.” It is radically the same name

as Joshua, except that the prefix of the latter implies the name of Jehovah

as the Author of such deliverance or salvation; while the Greek form of

Joshua is Jesus, which in two passages of the Authorized Version stands

for it. The form of the name in the original is closely connected with

Hosanna (hoshia na), “save now,” which occurs in Psalm 118:25 – “in

the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and

in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel.”   The period of

Hosea’s prophetic activity is one of the longest, if not the longest, on

record. It continued during the reigns of the four kings of Judah above

mentioned, and during that of Jeroboam II. King of Israel, which was in

part coincident with that of Uzziah. Uzziah and Jeroboam reigned

contemporaneously for twenty-six years. Somewhere during or rather

before the end of that period Hosea commenced his ministry. Uzziah

survived Jeroboam some twenty-six years, then Jotham and Ahaz in

succession reigned each sixteen years. During all these fifty-eight years

Hosea continued his ministerial labors. To these must be added a few years

for the beginning of his prophetic career during the reign of Jeroboam, and

some two or three years before its close in the reign of Hezekiah; for the

destruction of Samaria, which took place in the fourth year of that king,

the prophet looks forward to as still future. Thus for three score years and

more — probably nearer three score years and ten, THE ORDINARY

PERIOD OF HUMAN LIFE — the prophet persevered in the discharge of

his onerous duties. It may seem strange that, though Hosea exercised his

prophetic function in Israel, yet the time during which he did so is reckoned

by the reigns of the kings of Judah. The single exception of Jeroboam II. is

accounted for in a rabbinic tradition on the ground that he did not credit or

act on the evil report which Amaziah the priest of Bethel preferred against

the Prophet Amos, as we read  (Amos 7:10), “Then Amaziah the priest

of Bethel sent to Jeroboam King of Israel, saying, Amos hath conspired

against thee in the midst of the house of Israel; the land is not able to bear

all his words” (see also vs.11-13 of the same chapter). The real reason

for the reckoning by the kings of Judah, and for the exceptional case of

Jeroboam, was not that assigned by the rabbins; neither was it an

indication, on the part of the prophet, of the legitimacy of the kingdom of

Judah on the one hand, and evidence, on the other hand, of the

performance of God’s promise to Jehu that his sons would sit upon the

throne to the fourth generation, while Jeroboam, Jehu’s great-grandson,

was the last king of that dynasty by whom God vouch-sated help to Israel,

his son and successor Zechariah retaining possession of the kingdom only

for the short space of six months. The true cause is rather to be sought in

the regicides, usurpations, occasional anarchy, and generally unsettled state

of the northern kingdom, inasmuch as such instability and uncertainty

furnished no sure or satisfactory basis for chronological calculation. Thus

we find that, on the death of Jeroboam II., there was an interregnum of

some dozen years, during which, of course, a state of anarchy prevailed. At

length Zechariah succeeded to the throne; he had reigned only six months

when he was murdered by Shallum. Shallum’s reign only lasted a month,

when he was put to death by Menahem. During his reign often years

occurred the invasion of Pul. Menahem’s son, Pekachiah, had only reigned

two years when he was murdered by Pekah, in whose reign Tiglath-pileser

invaded the land. Hoshea slew Pekah. Next followed an interval of anarchy

lasting eight years. Then, after Hoshea’s short reign of nine years, the

kingdom was destroyed. (See II Kings Chronology – this web site – CY –

2012). Thus it was only in the southern kingdom that a sufficiently firm

foundation for chronological reckoning was available, while under these

circumstances Jeroboam’s reign was necessary to show the prophet’s connection

with Israel, and also that the prediction of the fourth verse preceded the event

foretold. The general heading of the whole book is contained in this verse and

Divine authority is thus claimed for the whole, as the prophet to whom

the word of the Lord came is only Jehovah’s spokesman.

 

 

The Prophet and His Work (v.1)

 

This subject may be appropriately introduced with some remarks about the

minor prophets. They are “minor,” not because their work was of less

consequence than that of the four major prophets, but simply because the

Scriptures which they wrote are shorter. The contents of the minor

prophets are very unfamiliar to many Christians. Possibly the pulpit is

partly to blame for this.

 

 

*  THE PERSON OF HOSEA.

 

  • His name and descent. Our names are mere arbitrary labels affixed to us;

but, among the Jews, names were often given in allusion to circumstances

in character or destiny. “Hosea” means “salvation.” To some readers this

name may appear to stand in direct contrast to his message, seeing that he

denounced national ruin. Yet it was appropriate, after all; for Hosea’s

ultimate prophetic word was the redeeming mercy of Jehovah. We know

nothing of his father, Beeri; or of his own life, except as reflected in his

book. He was a native and citizen of the kingdom of the ten tribes

(ch.1:2; 7:5). He loved his fatherland with the deep love of a patriot; and

his life-message was to “Ephraim.” He is the only prophet of that kingdom

who has contributed to the Bible a book which is really a prophecy.

 

  • His lengthened ministry. Hosea must have been a young man when,

during the powerful reign of Jeroboam II., he began his life-work; and he

maintained his testimony throughout the turbulent period which ensued

after the death of that prince, and indeed nearly to the time of the

deportation of Israel into Assyria. He thus labored bravely during

 more than two generations. He did not withdraw from his ministry after

thirty or forty years’ work, upon the plea of long service. Nor did he retire

on the ground of his non-success, although it does not appear that he

ever made a convert, or enjoyed the sympathy of even “a very small

 remnant” of his fellow-countrymen.

 

* HIS TIMES. Hosea lived in the eighth century before Christ, about the

    time when Rome was being built. He must have begun his labors some

    years before Isaiah in the southern kingdom. His times were characterized by:

 

  • Deep spiritual apostasy. Indeed, his life extended over the darkest

period of the whole history of Israel. God had, in great grace, espoused the

Hebrew people to Himself, and had called Himself their Husband. But they

had been miserably unfaithful to Him. The kingdom of the ten tribes,

especially, had “committed great whoredom” (v. 2). Its very existence as

a separate kingdom was a course of adultery. Its political flirtations with

Egypt and Assyria, WHEN IT OUGHT TO HAVE RELIED TOTALLY

ON JEHOVAH were acts of adultery. The calf-worship at Jeroboam’s two

“chapels of ease” was adultery. The Baal-worship introduced by Jezebel, with

its shameful rites, was adultery. The nation had cast off all fear of God,

 and lost all knowledge of Him.

 

  • Fearful moral corruption. WHEREVER THE FOUNDATIONS OF

RELIGION ARE UNDERMINED, IMMORALITY BECOMES

GROSS AND RAMPANT!   Hosea contemplated almost with despair

UNIVERSAL SECULARITY and violence and dissoluteness

(or rather, dissolution) of society in his day. (America is following this

pattern, and yes, it could be too late! – Time and your reaction of reader,

will tell! – CY – 2012)   Riot and drunkenness prevailed everywhere.

Sensuality was observed as a sacrament in the temples of Baal and

Ashtoreth. Rivers of blood flowed through the land (ch.4:1-3).

 

  • Hopeless political anarchy. After the death of Jeroboam II., the flames

of revolution burst forth, and were never entirely quenched until the

 nation was SUDDENLY CARRIED INTO CAPTIVITY.   There was

often confusion in the government, and sometimes utter anarchy. Kings

 perished by the hand of the assassin, and factions strove one with

 another until they were mutually devoured. Soon came THE

FINAL RUSH OF RUIN and Hoses must have lived almost to see it.

 

*  HIS LIFE-WORK. Hosea is the Jeremiah of the northern kingdom.

    But his isolation was more complete, his sorrow more tragic, and his

    prophetic work more barren of results than even Jeremiah’s.  (The

    question I have for the general populace of the United States today is

    “Are you a part of that barrenness today?  Why are people not being

    saved as in the days of old?  Had the Holy Spirit been withdrawn from

    you?  from Society? – CY – 2012)

 

  • He denounced Ephraims sin. The nation had rejected Jehovah as its

Husband, and gone a-whoring after other gods. So Hosea was raised up

to rebuke this unfaithfulness in all its forms: the Baal-worship, the

calf-worship, the rampant licentiousness, the revolt from the house

 of David, and the leaning for aid upon heathen powers.

 

  • He pronounced Ephraims doom. When he began his ministry there

were as yet no signs of ruin. Hosea’s thunderbolts dropped at first out of a

clear sky. It was the time of Jeroboam II., when the kingdom was in the

zenith of its prosperity. But from first to last the prophet warned the ten

tribes that their commonwealth would soon become a total wreck. They

would be carried away into perpetual exile. God would set their kingdom

aside on account of its sins, and not for seventy years only (as would be

the case with Judah), BUT FOR EVER!

 

  • He announced redeeming love in store for Ephraim. For, after all,

Hosea was not a despairing pessimist. He spoke with confidence of the

continuance of the Divine tender mercy towards Israel. The northern

kingdom, as such, must perish; but, notwithstanding, Jehovah will yet have

a people for Himself, who shall be gathered out of all the twelve tribes. So

Hosea mingled with his menaces urgent calls to repentance. His appeals are

surcharged with the most tender pathos. It has been pointed out that he is the

first of the Hebrew prophets who calls God’s affection for His people by

the name of “love;” the first clearly to forecast the Christian conception of

the fatherhood of God, with the infinite tenderness implied in it. Hosea’s

message of grace was that God has still the heart of a husband towards

Israel, and the heart of a father towards her children.

 

 * HIS BOOK.  It is important to distinguish between a prophet’s life-work

    and his contribution to Holy Scripture.

 

  • The arrangement. This book is by no means a methodical record of

Hosea’s long ministry. It comprises only a few notes indicative of its

burden and spirit. Yet the order of the book seems to be chronological.

The first three chapters tell of the “word” given him before the fall of

Jehu’s house, and while the kingdom still seemed strong and flourishing.

The other chapters reflect those vicissitudes of frightful anarchy and feeble

misrule which characterized the fifty years that followed.

 

  • The speaker. It is worthy of notice that throughout the book the speaker

is generally the Lord in His own person. The whole prophecy contemplates

Israel’s disobedience to “the first and great commandment;” and so

the first personal pronouns usually refer to God Himself. The Lamentations

of Jeremiah is a sad book, but the Book of Hosea reverberates with even a

more profound bass of sorrow; it is the saddest book of Holy Scripture,

being in effect THE LAMENTATIONS OF JEHOVAH!   Hosea

shows us the Divine heart as it were agitated with such conflicts of

passion as a good man might experience whose conjugal and parental

love had been cruelly blighted.

 

  • The style. Hosea is really a poem. It is so even in literary form; for only

chapters 1 and 3 are written in prose. The first three chapters constitute a

symbolical introduction, while the body of the book (Hosea 4-14.) IS A

DIRGE composed of mingled wailings, entreaties, threatenings, and

promises. The style is abrupt, sententious, laconic, and “rather to be called

Hosea’s sayings than Hosea’s sermons” (Matthew Henry). But “a verse

may find him who a sermon flies.”  (George Herbert)

 

  • The profitableness of the book to us. Although Hosea was raised up

primarily for Israel, his prophecy has its place as an elect stone in the

temple of Divine revelation. It teaches the politician that only

“righteousness exalteth a nation” (Proverbs 14:34).  It reminds the

moralist that a sound and pure ethics can rest only upon a foundation of

living religion. It warns the Christian of the danger of harboring idols within

his heart. Hosea is by no means a shallow book. It is not for superficial minds.

It requires — as its epilogue (ch.14:9) suggests very deep and diligent study.

 

* THE POWER WITH WHICH HOSEA WAS INVESTED. This, of course,

   touches on his Divine commission, and the corresponding inspiration which

   qualified him for the proper execution of that commission. Like the

   apostles in after times, he claims to hold his commission from God, and to

   be charged with the commands of God. Thus in Luke 3:2 we read that

   “the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness;”

   and in Galatians 1:1 we find the apostle of the Gentiles speaking of his

   commission in the following terms: “Paul, an apostle, not of men, neither

   by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the

   dead.” Thus in the case of Paul, his apostolic authority was not from (ajpo< -apo)

   men, as the source of that authority by whom it is conferred, nor by (dia< - dia)

   man, the single representative of any body of men, as the channel of that

   authority through whom it is conveyed. It was through the two Persons of

   the blessed Trinity — Son and Father, agent and origin, medium and

   source — a direct Divine commission. So with the prophet in this

   introductory passage. But he not only held his commission from God, he

   had his instructions from God. His position was like that of a diplomatist or

   ambassador sent out by an earthly sovereign, who is commissioned to

   represent his sovereign, and in that capacity to adhere faithfully to the

   instructions he has received, correctly interpreting the will and wishes of

   his monarch and scrupulously communicating the same. Three several

   times is the source of Hosea’s instructions insisted on. There is the first

   general statement of the word of the Lord coming to him; then there is the

   notification of the beginning of the word of the Lord being in Hosea; and

   next we learn that the Lord spake to him. The conveyance of these

   instructions is presented under a threefold aspect. They come to him from

   the Lord and so with DIVINE AUTHORITY they reach him by direct

   communication, for the Lord himself spoke to him; and they are in him,

   reflected on his mind and retained in his memory, and ready for present and

   practical use. God made him a depositary of His truth and thus fitted him

   for declaring it to others; He revealed His will to him, and by the inspiration

   of His Spirit qualified him to record it without error for the benefit of

   present and succeeding generations. Though not possessing or presuming

   to possess this special inspiration of prophets under the Old and apostles

   under the New Testament, the preacher of the gospel is truly

   commissioned and strictly commanded to declare the whole counsel of

   God, not with wisdom of words, not with enticing words of man’s

   wisdom, not handling the Word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation

   of the truth commending himself to every man’s conscience in the sight

   of God.  (Acts 20:27; I Corinthians 2:4; II Corinthians 4:2)  Hosea did so for

   nearly 70 years or soduring the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah

   in Judah (809-697 B.C. and Jeroboam II in Israel (825-784 B.C.)  This was

   a time, especially in Israel, of great prosperity.  (Jeroboam II had recovered

   Damascus, the capital of Syria, though that city had been lost even in the days

   of Solomon, together with Hamath on the Orontes, the key of Eastern Syria, thus

   checking if not crushing that hostile power. The northern kingdom had

   reached an unprecedented height of wealth and power; the sovereign had

   been triumphant in war, and his subjects were now happy and prosperous

   in peace. But at this very period of material wealth and military glory, after

   he had “restored the coasts of Israel from the entering of Hamath [the

   lower part of the Coelo-Syrian valley, from the gorge of the Litany to

   Baalbek] to the sea of the plain” (II Kings 14:23-25).  Amid the splendor,

    Hosea foretold, not merely the decline, but the actual downfall, of the

    kingdom of Israel. An important lesson connects itself with this. It is not

    only the truth of the prediction, so contrary to all calculation, so opposed to

    all seeming probability, but the warning thus furnished against TAKING

    MATERIAL PROSPERITY for a proof of Divine favor, or reckoning

     and resting on the permanence of earthly possessions. (A tremendous

     mistake of political leadership and the general populace, in the 21st century

     America – CY – 2012)  In the case before us, however, a worm was at the

     root of the gourd. The moral progress of the nation was in the inverse

     ratio of its material prosperity.

 

*  HOSEA’S PAINFUL DECLARATION OF THE NATIONAL SIN.

    That sin was more than ordinary apostasy, bad as such a state of things

     assuredly is; it was idolatry which is spiritual adultery. This was expressed

     by the symbol of the prophet, whether in reality, vision, or parable,

     wedding an unchaste woman, a wife of whoredoms, by name Gomer, the

     daughter of Diblaim. If such a union, even in symbol, was humiliating to

     the pure spirit of the prophet, how dreadful for a people to be in a

     condition so disgustingly loathsome and fearfully sinful, exposed

     to the deserved wrath of the Almighty, and obnoxious to the doom

    He has pronounced against such, “Thou hast destroyed all them that

    go a-whoring from thee!” (Psalm 73:27)  If such relationship is repulsive in

    the extreme to every man of proper sentiments and virtuous feeling, how

     unspeakably hateful to the infinitely holy God to stand in the position

     of husband to a people so abominably faithless and impure! Yet their

     Maker had been their Husband, even the Lord of hosts, which is His

     adorable name.

 

2 “The beginning of the word of the Lord by (literally, in) Hosea,” - What is

the beginning here mentioned? It cannot mean that Hosea was the first of the

prophets by whom God made known His will to Israel, or the first of the minor

prophets; for Jonah, as is rightly inferred from II Kings 14:25, preceded him;

Joel also is usually regarded as before him in point of time; neither can it

denote his priority to Isaiah and Amos, who also prophesied in the days of

Uzziah. The plain meaning is that which becomes obvious when we adopt the

right rendering: that is, the beginning of the prophecies which Hosea was

commissioned by Jehovah to make known. The peculiarity of

the expression, “in Hosea,” as the word literally means, deserves attention.

Numbers 12:2, 6, and 8, proves that the expression signifies speaking to

rather than in or by.  The first verse is the general heading for the whole book;

the first clause of the second verse is the special heading of the first section of the

book, which extends to the end of the third chapter – “and the Lord said to

Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms, and children of whoredoms:” 

Whether the transaction here enjoined is to be understood as a reality, or a vision,

or an allegory, has been keenly debated. To enter fully into the discussion of this

point would lead us too far from our purpose; nor could it minister to edification.

Though high authorities have maintained it to be a real occurrence, we do not

see our way to concur with their view. A canon of interpretation sanctioned by

Augustine forbids the literal acceptation of this command, for, according to the

canon referred to, if the language of Scripture taken literally would involve

something incongruous or morally improper, the figurative sense must be

preferred. Again, we can scarcely understand it of a vision; for there is no

mention of or reference to anything of that kind in the passage, nor does

the context countenance the notion of a vision.  We are, therefore, shut up to

that interpretation which explains the whole as an allegorical or imaginary

narrative, which is thus constructed in order to impart greater vividness to

the prophet’s declaration. The Chaldee paraphrase understands it in this

sense. “Go,” says the paraphrast, “declare a prophecy against the

inhabitants of the idolatrous city, who persist in sin.” Jerome also explains

it allegorically, and urges against the literal sense that passage in

Ezekiel 4:4-6, where the prophet is commanded by God to bear the

iniquity of the house of Israel, and to lie upon his left side three hundred

and ninety days — a thing impossible according to the literal understanding

of the injunction.  Calvin rightly understands it in the sense of a parabolic

representation as follows: “The Lord had bidden him (the prophet) to relate

this parable, so to speak, or this similitude, that the people might see, as in a

living portraiture, their turpitude and perfidiousness. It is, in short, an exhibition

in which the thing itself is not only set forth in words, but is also placed, as it

were, before their eyes in a visible form.”  By “a wife of whoredoms we

understand a woman addicted to whoredoms, and thus likely to prove an

unfaithful wife, while “children of whoredoms are children who follow in

the footsteps of their mother’s lewdness, or children on whose birth their

mother’s licentiousness had left a stigma so that their legitimacy is

questionable. The construction of the verb “take,” with both

objects, is an example of the figure zeugma, by which one word does duty

to two clauses, though it undergoes a modification of sense in its

application to the second. The meaning here is clearly that the prophet

should take a wife of the character indicated, and beget children by her, not

take such a wife and such children already born to her. This view is favored

by the Vulgate, though Keil maintains that Hosea was to take children of

prostitution as well as a wife who had lived by prostitution – “for the land

hath committed great whoredom, departing from the Lord.” This is

more exactly rendered, for the land hath utterly gone a-whoring from after

(that is, from following) the Lord. From this we learn the symbolic import

of the command, in whatever way that command is interpreted, whether as

a reality, or vision, or allegory, the prophet’s marriage to an unfaithful wife

sets forth Jehovah’s marriage to an unfaithful nation. God often

condescends — graciously condescends — to represent His relation to His

people as a marriage covenant; while unfaithfulness on their part is

SPIRITUAL ADULTERY.  The mother and the children may represent the

country and its inhabitants, or the nation as a whole and its several members,

or generally the people and their posterity in succeeding generations. The father

of the Hebrew race had served other gods on the other side of the flood, that is,

in Ur, in the land of the Chaldees, whence God had called Abraham. When

taken into covenant relationship, how often had they fallen into the former

sin of idolatry! The fearful consequences of their sin is graphically

portrayed in the verses immediately following, symbolized in the names of

the prophet’s children. They are:

 

·        national ruin,

·        the loss of the Divine favor, and

·        the forfeiture of their proud position as the chosen people of

Jehovah.

 

3 “So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim; which

conceived, and bare him a son.”  -  Kimchi conjectures that Gomer was

the name of a harlot well known at that time; he also explains the name,

according to his view of its symbolic import, as follows: Gomer has the

meaning of completion;” as if the prophet said, He will fully execute on

them the punishment of their transgressions that He may forgive their

iniquity.” The names of the children born to the prophet are significant and

symbolical; and their symbolic significance is explained. The names

mentioned in this verse are also significant, though their significance is not

expressly stated, as in the former case; the cause of the omission being the

fact that these names were not, like the others, now received for the first

time, but simply retained. Gomer denotes “completion” or” consummation,”

from a verbal root signifying “to perfect” or “come to an end; and Diblaim is

the dual of deblelah, the plural being debhelim, from the verb dabhal, to press

together into a mass, especially a round mass.  The meaning of the word, then,

is “two cakes,” that is, of dried figs pressed together in lumps. It may be observed,

in passing, that the Greek pala>qh palathae - seems to come from the Aramaic

form debhalta, by the omission of the initial daleth. But what is the mystic

meaning which the prophet veils under the two names Consummation and

Compressed fig-cakes (cakes of compressed figs)? The one may hint not

obscurely consummation in sin and in the suffering which is the ultimate

consequence of sin; while the other may imply the sweetness of sensual

indulgences, especially such as idolatrous celebrants were prone to. If, then,

the symbolical interpretation of these names be allowable, we may accept

that given by Jerome. He says, “Out of Israel is taken typically by Hosea a

wife consummated in fornication, and a perfect daughter of pleasure which

seems sweet and pleasant to those who enjoy it.” There is, moreover, an obvious

appropriateness in the names thus symbolically understood. The prophet,

whose name signifies “salvation,” marries a woman who was a daughter of

pleasure and a votary of sin; this alliance represents the relation into

which Jehovah, with His saving power, had mercifully taken Israel; but that

people, unmindful and unthankful for such mercy, and intent on the

indulgence of a sinful course, went from bad to worse in apostasy and

idolatry till GOD AT LENGTH LEFT THEM IN THEIR IMPENITENCE

AND ABANDONED THEM TO THEIR FATE!   

 

4 “And the Lord said unto him, Call his name Jezreel;”  - The

name which the people inherited from a distinguished ancestor was one of

honor and dignity — Israel or Yisrael,prince with God;” the name

imposed by their sins was one of reproach and disaster — Izreel, or

Yizreel,scattered by God.” The Hebrews had a peculiar fondness for a

paronomasia of this kind; thus Bethel, “house of God,” becomes Bethaven,

house of vanity” -  “for yet a little while, and I will avenge (visit) the blood

of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu,” The verb here rendered “avenge” is literally

to “visit,” and is used sometimes in a good sense, implying a benevolent purpose,

as in Ruth 1:6, “For she had heard in the country of Moab how that the Lord

had visited His people in giving them bread;” sometimes it expresses a hostile

intention, as in Exodus 20:5, I the Lord thy God am a jealous God,

visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children.” In the present

passage, as elsewhere in this book (see ch.2:13; 4:9), it is taken in

the sense assigned it in the Authorized Version, with which the Septuagint

and Syriac are in accord. But what are we to understand by the blood of

Jezreel, which brought down this vengeance on the house of Jehu? Some

suppose that the expression denotes the bloody deeds of Ahab’s house,

including, not only the murder of Naboth, but also their bloody persecution

of the servants and prophets of Jehovah, as we read in I Kings 18:4,

that “Jezebel cut off the prophets of the Lord;” and in II Kings 9:7,

“Thou shalt smite the house of Ahab thy master, that I may avenge the

blood of my servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of the

Lord, at the hand of Jezebel.” These and like deeds of blood brought down

retribution on the house of Ahab; Jehu, the instrument of this retribution,

was himself guilty of such enormities that the cry of blood for vengeance

was repeated, and the criminality of the preceding dynasty continuing, the

ate of Jehu’s was redoubled. This view appears to us both clumsy and

farfetched.  The plain meaning is that which refers the blood of Jezreel to the

bloody massacres of Jehn himself, when in a single day he put an end to the

dynasty of Omri and the wicked house of Ahab. On that memorable

occasion he slew the queen-mother Jezebel, the seventy sons of Ahab, and

forty-two relatives of King Ahaziah, also all the prophets of Baal, all his

servants and all his priests. The royal house of Israel he exterminated, for

he “slew all that remained of the house of Ahab in Jezreel, and all his great

men, and his kinsfolk, and his priests, until he left him none remaining”

(II Kings 10:11); the royal house or’ Judah he brought at the same time to the

very verge of extinction. The slaughter of Ahab’s sons, of Jezebel and Joram,

and that whole royal line, was, it is true, in compliance with God’s express

command; and, for the measure of his obedience to that command, Jehu

was rewarded by the promise of his family occupying the throne of Israel

to the fourth generation. But what was the motive that prompted this

performance of the Divine will? Was it really zeal for God, as he

pretended, and consequent diligence in obeying the Divine direction? Or

did human passion predominate and political advantage hurry him on? We

trow not. Certain it is that his subsequent career rendered the purity of his

zeal more than doubtful. He exterminated the idolatry of Baal, but he clave

to the calves of Jeroboam at Bethel and Dan (Ibid. vs. 29-31) the

fundamental sin of the kings of Israel. In what he did, therefore, the act itself

was right, for God commanded it; but the motive was wrong, for it was selfish

ambition that prompted it. Thus it was with Baasha; he executed vengeance by

command of God on the wicked house of Jeroboam I., and for so doing was

exalted to be prince over God’s people Israel; but the word of the Lord came

against him, as we read, “For all the evil that he did in the sight of the

Lord... in being like the house of Jeroboam; and because he killed him”

(I Kings 16:7).  The Chaldee regards the blood shed by Jehu in Jezreel, though

shed in a righteous cause and for the rooting out of the Baal idolatry, as

innocent blood, because Jehu himself and his house turned aside to the idolatry

of the calves – “and will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel.”

Jeroboam II, the third of Jehu’s family, was now reigning; a fourth member of

the same was to occupy the throne. That fourth sovereign was Zechariah, whose

short inglorious reign lasted only six months, at the expiration of which he fell

a victim in the conspiracy by Shallum. Thus ended the dynasty of Jehu; while

its overthrow paralyzed the strength of the northern kingdom. And, though the

day of its complete destruction was deferred for half a century, yet the

 disorders, dethronements, anarchy at times, and repeated assassination of

the sovereigns, to which Menahem was the only exception, prepared the way

for THE FINAL CATASTROPHE!   The overthrow of the house of Jehu

was the beginning of the end for Israel, THE COMMENCEMENT OF

THE PROCESS OF DECOMPOSITION!

 

5  “And it shall some to pass at that day, that I will break the

bow of Israel in the valley of JezreeL.”   Here we have a prediction of a

most momentous event, with express statement of the place where it

should occur, as also the time of its occurrence. The event itself was more

than the downfall of a dynasty; it was the destruction of a kingdom. The

date of that destruction is defined simply as THE PERIOD WHEN GOD

WOULD PUNISH THE SINS OF BOTH THE PRINCES AND PEOPLE

OF ISRAEL!   The close of Jehu’s dynasty was at once THE PREPARAION

FOR AND THE CESSATION OF THE KINGDOM OF ISRAEL!  The place

of this calamity was the Valley of Jezreel. This famous valley was the cockpit

of Palestine. There Israel conquered the host of King Jabin; there Gideon

overthrew the Midianites; there Saul was defeated by the Philistines, when

driven up the slopes of Gilbea the beauty of Israel was slain in thy high places”

(I Samuel 1:19); there a defeat equally sorrowful and not less disastrous was

aggravated by the death of good King Josiah, and proved fatal to the kingdom

of Judah; there, too, in later times, the last conflict took place between the

Crusaders and the Moslems, in which victory crowned the arms of Saladin;

there, also, was fought the battle, as we learn from this passage, which decided

the fate of the kingdom of Israel (It will be the scene of Armageddon – CY –

2012).  The situation of this valley was admirably suited for such scenes.

This plain, or valley, broad as it is beautiful, begins where the maritime plain,

interrupted by the ridge of Carmel, turns aside and extends across the center

of the country from the Mediterranean Sea on the west to the Jordan valley

on the east, and from the hills of Galilee on the north to those of Ephraim or

Samaria on the south. The form of this plain is triangular; its eastern side or

base is fifteen miles, reaching from Engannim, now Jenin, to the hills below

Nazareth; the north side along the hills of Galilee is twelve miles; the southern,

formed by the hills of Samaria, is eighteen miles; while the apex of this

somewhat irregular triangle is a narrow pass through which the river Kishon

that ancient river, the river Kishon” (Judges 5:21)  — with its winding stream

makes its way to the sea. On the east there are three branches in the direction

of the Jordan, which bear a remote resemblance to the fingers of a hand.

The northern branch passes between Tabor and Little Hermon, or Jebel ed-Duhy;

the central one, which is the Valley of Jezreel proper, runs between Shunem and

Jezreel, now Zerin; the southern between Mount Gilboa and En-gannim, now

Jenia — this branch, having no outlet, loses itself among the eastern hills. The

name of this plain was derived from the city of Jezreel, situated near its

eastern extremity on a spur of Mount Gilboa, which Ahab chose as a royal

residence, and which remained so for three successive reigns, though in the

time of Jeroboam II. Samaria had again, as in the days of Omri, become the

royal city. In this great plain, called by the Greeks Esdraelon, the bow of

Israel was to be broken. The bow (qesheth, tad. qashah, hard, stiff,

unbending) was the warrior’s weapon of offence and defense — strong and

powerful; the breaking of his bow deprived him of his chief weapon, and

left him at the mercy of the enemy to conquer or to kill; thus we read, “His

bow abode in strength” (Genesis 49:24); and again, “My glory was fresh in me,

and my bow was renewed in my hand”  (Job 29:20).  But while such general

references prove the bow to have been an emblem of strength and power,

still there is something very special and suitable in the expression of the

prophet here. In one important respect, the ancient military glory of Israel was,

if not confined to the northern kingdom yet regarded as eminently characteristic

of it. Judah, with all its warlike qualities, had never been celebrated for its

archery.  The use of the bow was there a late acquisition (II Samuel 1:18). But

in Benjamin and Ephraim it had been an habitual weapon. The bow of

Jonathan was known far and wide. The children of Ephraim were

characterized as ‘carrying bows’ (Unfortunately, in crunch time of the

nation’s need, Ephraim, “turned back” -  Psalm 78:9 - CY – 2012).   And so

the chief weapon of the captain of the host of Israel was his bow. The King

of Israel had always his bow and arrows with him. The sign of the fall of the

kingdom was the breaking of the bow of Israel.  The language employed by

the prophet was thus singularly appropriate. An historical basis, though

denied by some and pronounced precarious by others, is, we have little doubt,

found for this prediction in ch.10:14 of this very book. The bow, that is, the

archery in which Israel excelled so much, was broken in the Valley of

Jezreel, when Shalmon, identified with Shalman-ezer, King of Assyria by

Pusey and Stanley, spoiled Beth-Arbel, or Arbela, the city between

Sepphoris and Tiberias, and near the middle of the valley, and thus crushed

Israel in an overwhelming defeat. If the identification be sustained, that day

of battle was most calamitous to Israel, and as cruel as calamitous, for

neither the helplessness of infancy nor the tenderness of womanhood was

spared; the infants were dashed to death against the stones, and the

mothers then hurled in mortal agony upon the dead bodies of their little

ones. Kimchi explains it generally: “On that day when I shall visit the blood

of Jezreel, I shall break the bow of Israel, that is to say, their might and

power.”

 

6  “And she conceived again, and bare a daughter.  And God

said unto him, Call her name Lo-ruhamah:” -  The first birth symbolized

the BLOOD-GUILTINESS and IDOLATRY  of Israel, and THE

CONSEQUENT DESTRUCTION!   Two other births follow to confirm

THE CERTAINTY OF THE COMING CALAMITY, to develop it further,

and exhibit the  nation ever which it impended under new phases, as ALSO

TO SHOW THE PROSPECT OF DELIVERANCE TO BE HOPELESS!

The change of sex may indicate the totality of the nation, male and female, as

or rather THE WEAK AND DEFENSELESS CONDITION OF ISRAEL

after their bow was  broken and their power crushed by the enemy. They are

now ready to be led into captivity, like a female helpless and powerless and

exposed to ell the insults of the conquerors. The birth of the daughter is

thus explained by Kimchi: “After she had borne a son which is a proverbial

reference to Jeroboam the son of Joash… she bore a daughter, who refers

parabolically to Zechariah and to Shallum son of Jabesh, who reigned after

him, who were weak as a female.” The name given to the child is Unpitied,

or Unfavored, if ruchamah be taken as a mutilated participle, the initial

mem being dropped, though it is not found in close connection with a

participle; or, She-is-not-pitied, if the word be a verb. In either case, the

mercy which if exercised would save her from the miseries of captivity,

IS CLEAN GONE and the love which, if it existed, would prompt that

exercise of mercy, IS NO LONGER TO BE LOOKED FOR! -  “for I will

no more have mercy upon the house of Israel; but I will utterly take them

away (margin, that I should altogether pardon them)”.. Aben Ezra quotes the

correct meaning as follows: “Some say that ylyn is that I have up till now forgiven

their iniquity; “and Kimchi: “Hitherto I have forgiven and pardoned them,

because I have had mercy upon them; but I shall continue to do so no

more.” dw[, again, from dW[, to return or repeat.  The construction of the

first clause is peculiar. Rosenmüller cites as parallel Isaiah 47:1, 5 and

Proverbs 23:35; but more exact parallels are I Samuel 2:3 and ch. 6:3, in both

of which, and also in the text, Kimchi and Aben Ezra understand asker before

the second verb. The last clause of the verse, however, presents a real difficulty,

as we may infer from the variety of interpretations to which it has been subjected.

The Septuagint has jAnyitasso>menov ajntita>xomai antitassamenos

antitazomai autois -  that I should in any way pardon them.  Jerome, confounding

the verb with hcn translates, “But I will entirely forget them.” Rashi: “I will

distribute to them a portion of their cup and of their deeds,” viz. as they have

deserved by their deeds, Kimchi: “I will raise up enemies against them, who

shall carry them into captivity and lay waste their land.”Aben Ezra: “I will take

them away;” he quotes for this meaning of the text Job 32:2, and takes the prefix

le as the Aramaic sign of the accusative, giving as a notable example of the same

II Samuel 3:30, haregu leabner for eth-abner. The Syriac Version is

similar. A more feasible rendering, if the meaning of “take away” be

retained, is that of Hengstenberg and others, who translate it: “I will utterly

take away from them, or with regard to them,” viz. everything. We prefer

the sense of “pardon,” as given in the Chaldee; in the margin of the

Authorized Version; by Ewald, Wunsche, and Delitzsch; and mentioned by

Aben Ezra and Kimchi. Thus it will read: “I will no more favor them that I

should verily forgive them.” The first verb literally means the pitiful

yearning of parental love — the strong feeling of affection which the

Greeks expressed by storgh> - storgae - Paul’s rendering of the word with

the privative denotes absence of love; and Peter’s the absence of mercy. Both

notions are contained in the word, and their relation is well explained by

Pusey, who says, It is tender love in him who pitieth; mercy as shown to

him who needeth mercy.” Now, the connection between such tenderness of

love and forgiving mercy is natural and close. Many an instance of this had

been experienced in the previous history of Israel; many a time God’s

compassion had been extended to His erring people, notwithstanding their

manifold provocations; BUT THAT DAY IS GONE!  the Divine

long-suffering IS EXHAUSTED!   Once Israel is carried captive, there shall

be no return; no mercy to restore them, as in the case of Judah.

 

7 “But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will save them by

the Lord their God,” - Thus the contrast expressed in this verse increases the

painful feelings with which the threatened abandonment and consequent

destruction of Israel would be regarded. The promised mercy to the house of

Judah is emphasized by the peculiar form of the expression. Instead of the

pronoun, the proper name of Jehovah is employed; instead of saying, “I will

save them by myself,” He says in a specially emphatic manner, “I will save them

by Jehovah, adding at the same time the important adjunct of “THY GOD”

to remind them of that relationship to Himself in virtue of which He interposes

thus personally and powerfully on their behalf. An expression somewhat similar

in form occurs in Genesis 19:24, “Then the Lord [Jehovah] rained upon Sodom

and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord [Jehovah] out of

heaven”  - “and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle

(literally, war), by horses, nor by horsemen.”   This enumeration is quite in

accordance with the prophet’s style, as may be seen at a glance by

comparing ch. 2:5, 11, 22; 3:4; and 4:13. The manner of this deliverance is

very peculiar and unusual; while prominence is given to the absence of those

means of defense or deliverance on which the northern kingdom so much relied.

The deliverance would be accomplished without the ordinary weapons of war —

bow and sword, in the use of the former of which Israel was so celebrated; also

without war, that is, without its appliances and material of whatever kind —

skilful commanders, brave soldiers, and numerous troops; likewise without

horses and horsemen, a great source of strength in those days (parashim,

equivalent to “riders on horses,” as distinguished from rokebhim, riders on

camels). This deliverance, in fact, was to be entirely independent of all

human resources. All this points plainly and positively to the deliverance

of Judah from Sennacherib in the days of Hezekiah, when in one night the

angel of the Lord smote a hundred and eighty-five thousand of the flower

of the Assyrian host, and JEHOVAH thus BY HIMSELF delivered Judah.

Thus, too, Judah is saved from that power before which Israel had previously

and entirely succumbed. (Compare, on this miraculous deliverance, II Kings 19.

and Isaiah 37.)

 

8 “Now when she had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she conceived,

and bare a son.”  As Eastern mothers nurse their children some two or

three years, the process of weaning at the end of that period would imply a

corresponding interval. This may be merely an incident to complete the

prophetic declaration, and pleasingly vary the narrative. It is rather, we

think, a pause in the progress of the approaching calamity — a pause

indicative of the Divine loathing to execute the final sentence. Or the

weaning may be referred, with some, to the entire withdrawal of all

spiritual nourishment and support, when promise and prophecy, instruction

and consolation, symbol and sacrifice, would be abolished.

 

9 “Then said God, Call his name Lo-ammi: for ye are not my people, and

I will not be your God.”   Here we have the climax of Israel’s

fate. The prophet’s children, whether actual, visionary, or allegorical,

symbolized STEP BY STEP THE SAD DEGRADATION IN ISRAEL’S

FAST-COMING CALAMITY!   The name Jezreel, whether taken to mean

their being scattered by God or their suffering the sorrowful consequences

of their multiplied delinquencies, m either ease denotes the first blow dealt

to them by Divine providence. But from that it was possible by repentance

to recover; and, though dispersed, they were not beyond the reach of the Divine

compassion, nor beyond the power of the Divine arm to collect and bring

together again. But Lo-ruhammah, Unpitied, or Uncompassionated,

imports another and a still heavier blow; and, though dispersed far and

near, and though left in the places of their dispersion without pity and

without compassion, still there might be a good time coming in the near or

in the distant future, when a favorable change in their circumstances would

be brought about so that they would be both collected together, or

comforted and compassionated. The name Lo-ammi, however, PUTS

AN END TO HOPE, implying as it does A TOTAL REJECTION AND

AN ENTIRE RENUNCIATION OF THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL on

the part of THE ALMIGHTY!  . THE NATIONAL COVENANT IS

ANNULLED.   God has cast off His people, who are thus left hopeless as

helpless, because of their sinful and ungrateful departure from the Source

of all mercy and the Fountain of all blessing. The expression of this is very

touching: “Ye” says God, now addressing them directly and personally,

“are notare no longer, my people; and I will not be yours.” Such is the

literal rendering of this now sad but once tender expression — tender,

unspeakably tender, as long as applicable; sad, inexpressibly sad, now that

its enjoyment is FOR EVER GONE!

 

 

The Sufferings of Israel Symbolically Recorded (vs.4-9)

 

The three children of the prophet by Gomer symbolize at once a degree of

sin and a period of suffering. The forefathers of Israel had been idolaters in

their native land and in Egypt, as we learn from the admonition of Joshua

(Joshua 24:14), “Put away the gods which your fathers served on the

other side of the flood, and in Egypt.” But God took them into covenant

with Himself at Sinai; this new relation may be represented by the prophet’s

espousing at the Divine command Gomer, notwithstanding her previous

impurity and lewdness. But though God took the people of Israel into such

a close and endearing relation to Himself, yet their posterity, instead of

proving themselves children of God, often forsook God and fell into

idolatry, this apostasy of the descendants through succeeding generations is

set forth by the children of whoredoms which the prophet had by a wife of

whoredoms. So with ourselves tainted with original sin; we are stained by

many actual transgressions. “Sin,” it has been well said, “is contagious,

and, unless the entail is cut off by grace, hereditary.”

 

  • THE NAME OF THE FIRST CHILD IMPLIES DEGENERACY,

Jezreel, if taken in its local sense, reminds of bloodshed as also idolatry,

and of the nemesis that in due time followed; but if understood

appellatively, the name of dominion implied in Israel degenerates into that

of dispersion included in Jezreel.

 

Ø      Imperfect work is imperfectly rewarded. No work done for God can

make Him our debtor, yet He is graciously pleased to reward honest work

in His service, the reward being entirely of grace and not of debt. Jehu

executed God’s judgment on the house of Ahab, and had his reward in the

succession of his family to the fourth generation. Though he pretended zeal

he did not do the Lord’s work sincerely; his own selfish interests and his

own base designs mingled largely with his motives, and marred the worth

of his work. The obtainment of a kingdom for himself rather than

obedience to God was the chief end on which his heart was set. Neither

did he perform the Lord’s work thoroughly. He abolished the idolatry of

Baal, but he adhered to the idolatry of the calves (II Kings 10:31); obviously

because the former served his own ends and helped to establish him in the

kingdom, while the latter tended, as be thought, to secure his interest in the

kingdom and keep his subjects detached from Judah.

 

Ø      Punishment, though slow, is sure. Yet a little while and the dynasty of

Jehu became extinct; while fifty years afterwards the very kingdom over

which that dynasty had ruled ceased altogether to exist. In the interval that

elapsed between the extinction of the dynasty of Jehu and the total

cessation of the kingdom of Israel a crushing defeat had been sustained in

the valley of Jezreel, when the military strength of Israel was completely

broken. Whether this was the battle of Betharbel, in which Shalmanezer

was victorious, or some other reverse sustained in the invasion by

Tiglath-pileser, to the success of which the inscriptions of that monarch

testify, we have not perhaps sufficient means of ascertaining. This was the

beginning of the end, and a premonition of what was near at hand. THE

SINS IF OF PRINCES AND THE SINS OF PEOPLE  had gone

on accumulating till at length the day of vengeance came. As with

nations, so with individuals:

 

“Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small;

Though with patience He stands waiting, with exactness grinds He all.”

 

Ø      The unexpected often happens. Nothing could have appeared more

unlikely in the reign of Jeroboam II than the destruction of his kingdom

within such a comparatively short space. He had proved himself a man of

prowess and of power; he had extended the boundaries of his kingdom

outwardly, and had consolidated its resources inwardly. He had restored

the northern boundary of Israel to what it was in the days of Solomon; he

had extended his kingdom southward by the sea of the plain, and to the

valley of willows (Isaiah 15:7) between Moab and Edom; he had

recovered what had been lost by the victories of Hazael; he had

recaptured Damascus. He was, in fact, “the greatest of all the kings of

Samaria”. As if with a forecast of his future glory, he was named after

the founder of the kingdom — Jeroboam II.” Yet then, while King

Jeroboam was at the zenith of his fame, and the kingdom at the height

of its prosperity, THE WORD OF THE LORD CAME AGAINST

IT!  God, who seeth not as man seeth, directed the eye of his servant

the prophet to SIN UNREPENTED OF and UNFORSAKEN

THAT INTERNAL MORAL WEAKNESS AND ROTTENESS

which no amount of material prosperity or power could either

RECTIFY OR REMOVE!

 

  • THE NAME OF THE SECOND CHILD IMPORTS EXTREME

DESOLATENESS OF CONDITION. Israel is pictured as Lo-ruhamah,

and thus represented as a woman, worthless; for she is one of the children

of whoredom, weak, an easy prey to the spoiler, a victim of injury and

insult, unpitied and unprotected, impenitent and unpardoned. Applied

nationally, the conquered people are uncompassionated, and WAITING

TO BE CARRIED INTO CAPTIVITY!  Applied personally, how

dreadful is the state of that individual who, by a long course of

iniquity, HAS SINNED AWAY THE DAY OF MERCY, and against

whom God has shut up the bowels of his compassion!

 

Ø      To Israel as a nation, so to each of us God has showed great and

manifold mercies; let us beware of abusing our mercies, and thereby

forfeiting them. If we forsake our own mercies for lying vanities, as, alas!

so many do, we may expect that those mercies will forsake us, being

withdrawn in the providence of God. How sad the condition of those who

are in affliction, and yet can have no reasonable assurance of the mercy of

God; who are afflicted, and yet cannot plead the Divine pity, or hope for

Divine sympathy and succor! Sadder still is the case of those whom death

surprises in the condition indicated as not having obtained mercy! God, it is

true, is infinite in compassion, and His mercy everlasting to them that fear

Him; but to the impenitent and unbelieving there is a limit to His mercy

somewhere; while to such nations and individuals alike the time may come

when He will say, “I will have no more mercy upon them, no more

 pity, and no more pardon.”

 

Ø      An aggravation of their misery is the natural consequence of the

contrast with Judah in v. 7. Our blessed Lord very touchingly applies a

similar contrast when He says, “There shall be weeping and gnashing

of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and

all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust

out” (Luke 13:28).  The Revised Version, which has “cast forth

without,” makes it yet stronger and more striking.

 

Ø      The salvation of Judah at this time was their deliverance from

Sennacherib. To this great event of Jewish history we find frequent

reference elsewhere. Thus Isaiah 10:33-34 and the commencement of

ch.11., has a very striking contrast between the crash of mighty cedars

and the springing up of a young shoot from a withered stump — the

downfall of the great conqueror with his men of might, and the

uprising of a righteous Savior out of the lowliness of the royal house

of Judah; in other words, the Assyrian and the Savior. This contrast

is couched in the following poetic language: “The Lord of hosts

shall lop the bough with terror [i.e. terrific force]: and the high ones

of stature shall be hewn down, and the haughty shall lie low; and

 He shall cut down the thickets of the forest with iron, and

Lebanon shall fall by a mighty one. And there shall come forth

a shoot out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out

of his roots.” The same prophet, in Isaiah 29:3, pictures the formidable

military operations of the Assyrian, together with the suddenness of the

disappearance and completeness of the destruction of his mighty host.

Of the former he speaks in the first person, as the Assyrian was only

the rod of His anger for the purpose of chastisement, and says, “I

will camp against thee round about, and will lay siege against

thee with a mount, and will raise forts against thee” (while of

the sudden disaster that would overwhelm them he adds, “And the

multitude of all the nations that fight against Ariel [Lion of God],

even all that fight against her, and her munition, and that distress

her, shall be as a dream of a night vision” (Ibid. v.7);  a little

before he had said, “The multitude of the terrible ones shall be as

chaff that passeth away: yea, it shall be at an instant suddenly”

(Ibid. v.5).  In the following chapter (30.), naming him by name, he

intimates that he had been a rod of chastisement in the Lord’s hand,

and when that purpose had been served, the rod itself would be

broken by the voice of the Almighty: “And through the voice of

the Lord shall the Assyrian be broken down that smote with a rod”

(ch. 30:31); the latter was chastisement and discipline, the former

destruction. Several of the psalms also contain allusions to the events

of Hezekiah’s reign connected with this great deliverance — to

Rabshakeh’s blasphemy in the words, “The shame of my face hath

covered me, for the voice of him that reproacheth and

blasphemeth  (Psalm 44:16),  in Psalm 73:19-20, a psalm of Asaph,

to Sennacherib’s destruction, “How are they brought into desolation,

as in a moment I… As a dream when one awaketh; so, O Lord,

when thou awakest, thou debt despise their image.”   In like manner

the whole of Psalm 76 applies.  V.3 enumerates the peculiar

weapons of the Assyrian, and affirms their destruction: “There brake

 He the arrows of the bow, shield and sword and battle;”  vs. 5-6

depict that sleep of death that overtook them so calmly, so noiselessly,

and so awfully: “They slept their sleep, and none of the men of

might found their hands Both chariot and horse fell into a deep

sleep;”  v.8 adds the solemn awe in which all at last was hushed:

The earth feared, and was still.”  Psalm 91, which mentions the terror

by night and the pestilence walking in darkness, and thousands perishing,

may, whatever was the actual occasion of its composition, apply to the

destruction of the Assyrian army at the eventful time when Judah was so

miraculously saved.

 

  • THE NAME OF THE THIRD DENOTES DEPLORABLE

DEGRADATION. Before this third and last stage is reached there is a

respite — some time intervenes.

 

Ø      Speaking after the manner of men, we may say with reverence that God

seems to repent of His resolution to cast off His people; He shows

reluctance to renounce them at once and forever. Hence the delay. So in

this very book He questions with Himself: “How shall I give thee up,

Ephraim? how shall I deliver thee, Israel? how shall I make thee

as Admah?  how shall I set thee as Zeboim? mine heart is turned

 within me, my repentings are kindled together” (ch. 11:8).  He

pauses before proceeding to extremities.

 

Ø      Once they were the people of God, a chosen generation, a royal

priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; now they have lost

that high position — they are degraded, and that degradation must

ere long issue in destruction. God, addressing them directly and, as it

were, face to face, tells them plainly, “Ye are not my people, and

I will not be your God.” The word “God” is here supplied, and

the original expression is peculiarly tender. It is literally, “I will not

 be yours — your Father and Friend, or your Husband and

 Head, or your Sovereign and Savior, or your Patron and

Protector.” “I will not be to you, as the words still more literally

Taken mean, “I will not be to you what I once was, what I long

 continued to be in spite of your numberless provocations, what

I would still be but for your gross unfaithfulness, what you need

no longer expect me to be in consequence of your base ingratitude.

THE BOND IS BROKEN!   I have no interest in you nor you in

me; I have no honor from you, nor shall ye have benefit by me.

You have withheld from me the observance that was due to

me and the obedience which I claimed; I shall withdraw all my

mercies and loving-kindnesses from you. No more shall I send you

 my prophets, no more make known to you my promises; in a word,”

 and including the whole, “I WILL NO MORE BE YOUR GOD!”

Contrast the similarity to the original words in that beautiful expression

in Canticles,  but just the reverse, “My beloved is mine, and I am His”

(Song of Solomon 2:16)

 

10 “Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea

which cannot be measured nor numbered;” The division of the verses at this place

is faulty both in our common Hebrew Bibles and in the Authorized Version. The

former connects vs. 10 and 11 with the second chapter, and the latter closes the first

chapter with these verses, and thus detaches them from the first verse of the second

chapter. The correct arrangement combines vs. 10 and 11 of Hosea 1. with ch. 2:1,

and concludes the first chapter with these three verses which are so closely

joined together in sense. Here is the usual cycle of events:

 

·        human sinfulness,

·        deserved punishment, and

·        Divine mercy.

 

Had the last element been wanting, the promise of a countless posterity made to

Abraham, renewed to Isaac, and confirmed to Jacob, might appear abolished. Yet,

notwithstanding the rejection of Israel, THE WORD OF GOD REMAINETH

SURE!   But who are the children of Israel, whose multitude, like sea-sand,

defies numeration and measurement? The whole posterity of Jacob or Israel

might seem included, as the words of the promise made to that patriarch

and those of the present prediction so closely correspond; and Israel is

occasionally taken in this wide and general sense. The context is opposed

to this; especially does the distinction so sharply marked in the succeeding

verse militate against this – “and it shall come to pass, that in the place

where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said

unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God.” The place where this great

change takes place is either the place where their rejection was foretold, or

that where its fulfillment became an accomplished fact. The former was, as

is obvious, Palestine; the latter, the place of their exile, and so the lands of

their dispersion. Thus the Chaldee, adopting the latter, renders freely as

follows: “And it shall come to pass in the place where they lived in exile

among the peoples, when they transgressed my Law and it was said to

them, Ye are not my people, they will turn and be magnified, and called the

people of God.” Once this change takes place, their true mission shall be

attained and their relations to the living God shall be readjusted. The dumb,

dead idols, to which they had bowed down in the days of their apostasy

and unbelief shall be cast aside and away for ever. JEHOVAH, THE

LIVING ONE ALONE shall be the object of their adoration in that day.

 

11 “Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel

be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head, and they shall

come up out of the land:” -  The phraseology of the older Scriptures is here

followed. Thus we read in Exodus 1:10, in the words of Pharaoh, the

children of Israel “getting them up out of the land” (comp. also Exodus

12:38 and Numbers 32:11); and again, on the report of the spies when

the people murmured against Moses and Aaron, “they said one to another,

Let us make a captain [head], and let us return into Egypt.” In this way the

scenes of former days were in some sense to be repeated: an exodus of

some sort was again to take place; Egypt was to be abandoned and slavery

left behind; they might have a wilderness to traverse, but here again the

prospect of a land of promise was to cheer them on their journey and

compensate them at its close; in fact, another or better Canaan was before

them. Nay, more, the breach between Judah and Israel would be healed,

and the disruption which had been so disastrous become a thing of the past.

Judah and Israel would again unite and rally together under one head. But

the important inquiry remains as to the how or when this prediction was to

have fulfillment. Even if we admit the return from the captivity of Babylon

to be a fulfillment, it would be but a very partial, though literal, fulfillment

of such a grand prediction. That restoration was far too meager in its

dimensions to come up to the requirements of, much less exhaust, such a

splendid prophecy. Some of Israel — a mere fragment of the ten tribes —

united with Judah in the relearn from Babylon: this poor miniature

fulfillment, if we may so say, cannot be regarded, except perhaps typically

or symbolically, as the fulfillment of the prophet’s vivid picture. We must

look to gospel times and gospel scenes for the realization of the glorious

promise under consideration. Jewish interpreters themselves refer it to the

times of Messiah. Thus Kimchi says, “This shall take place in the gathering

together of the exiles in the days of the Messiah, for unto the second house

there went up only Judah and Benjamin that had been exiles in Babylon;

nor were the children of Judah and the children of Israel gathered together;

and they shall make for themselves one head, — this is the KING MESSIAH;”

similarly, in the ‘Betsudath David,’ by Altschul, we read on this passage,”

They shall be gathered together: this will come to pass in the days of the

Messiah. One head: this is the King Messiah. And they shall come up; out

of the lands of the captivity they shall go up unto their own land.” We

cannot possibly mistake the objects of this prophecy; they are expressly

declared to be “the children of Judah and the children of Israel” — the two

distinctive branches of the Hebrew race, the two constituent elements of

the Jewish nationality, and comprehending the whole natural posterity of

Israel. There can be just as little doubt about the primary and proper

application of the prophecy to the conversion of the people of the Jews.

For a time they were not to be the people of God; but the testimony of the

prophet to their again becoming the sons of the living God is quite

unmistakable. They shall appoint themselves one head. “The prophet,” says

Calvin, “has, by the expression, characterized the obedience of faith; for it

is not enough that Christ should be given as a King, and set over men,

unless they also embrace Him as their King, and with reverence receive Him.

We now learn that, when we believe the gospel, we choose Christ for our

King, as it were, by a voluntary consent.” The words are adopted by both

Peter and Paul: the former (I Peter 2:10) employs them as an

appropriate description, in Old Testament language, of the happy change of

condition consequent on the knowledge of the truth; the latter (Romans

9:25) quotes them more formally in an extension of their meaning beyond

their primary import, and proper and literal application to the Jews, as an

exemplification of the principle of once not my people, now my people. In

this extension of their meaning they embrace, no doubt, the Gentiles,

though not the objects originally and chiefly contemplated in the prophecy.

 

  • If the place mentioned in the previous verse be, the place or lands of

their dispersion, on the change indicated taking place, namely, their

conversion to Christ as King, then their coming up out of the land under

the sole headship of the Son of David, the true Shepherd of Israel, may

denote their restoration out of all the countries of their dispersion to their

ancient territory, again become their own land, and their own in perpetual

possession. Thus the Targum understands it of the land of the Jews’

captivity; likewise Kimchi: “They shall go up out of the land of their

captivity to their own land; for the land of Israel is higher than all lands,

and he that goeth thither goeth up, and he that goeth out of it goeth

down.” The initial and typical fulfillment was the return of Judah, joined by

many Israelites, out of Babylon under Zerubbabel. The final fulfillment

 may be the restoration of the Jews, converted and believing in

Messiah, under Divine guidance, to their own land.  (What can

I say?  It is a fact that in 1948 Israel became a nation again.  In 1967,

Israel regained Jerusalem.  Christ said “And they shall fall by the

edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations:

and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the

times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.”  - Luke 21:24 – Fifty years ago

in my country church, we studied about this.  I now remember Odell

Merrick, now deceased, saying that Israel at that time had the material

to rebuild the temple [he said Bedford stone out of Indiana.  The Dome

of the Rock, the second most holy shrine to the Arab World, now stands

on the site.  Zechariah 14 seems to imply that an earthquake will destroy

it and then the new temple will be built.  This year when surfing the

internet, I ran across the fact that Israel has 500 rail cars of Bedford

stone for the aforementioned purpose – Are we living in the end times?

CY – 2012)

 

  • If, on the other hand, the place of the preceding verse be Palestine, the

land of their rejection and subsequent recognition as the sons of God, the

going up may refer to the going up of the inhabitants of both kingdoms to

Jerusalem, the dwelling-place of their common king of David’s line; not in

the sense of going up, as Ewald and others understand it, to do battle in

order to widen the boundaries of their native hind and make room for the

returning exiles.

 

  • But whether the place be the country of Palestine or the lands of their

dispersion, the going up may be understood spiritually of their coming up

to join themselves to the Church, or rather to the Church’s Head, as under

the old economy the tribes of Israel went up out of all parts of the land to

worship at Jerusalem. It will thus apply properly enough to their spiritual

journey onward and upward to the heavenly Canaan - “for great shall be

the day of Jezreel.”   The names of the prophet’s children were names of ill

omen — God’s sowing in the sense of God’s scattering, Not-my-people,

Not-pitied; now the evil is eliminated, the meaning of the second and third

is reversed, and the first is read in a new signification, so that Not-my-people

becomes My people, Unpitied becomes Pitied, God’s sowing is no

longer God’s scattering but God’s growing. The curse is thus changed into

a blessing; great, then, shall be the day so signalized by Divine goodness,

so glorious in Divine grace, and so conspicuous for the wondrous works

 of the covenant-keeping God. Most of the older interpreters take Jezreel

here, as in vs. 4-5, equivalent to “scattered of God.” Aben Ezra says,

“But the iniquity of the house of Israel is punished. And behold, it is all

said by way of reproach, not praise.”

 

 

 

      There is Salvation in Store for Both Israel and Judah (vs. 10-11)

 

We must here premise our belief that the two divisions of the Hebrew

people — the ten tribes and the two — have been long amalgamated. Even

during the Captivity a considerable amalgamation of tribes may have taken

place. Though we have the list of families that accompanied Zerubbabel

and Ezra from Assyria and Media to Jerusalem, yet the tribal heads of

those families are not given, as though their genealogy had been already

lost. It has been conjectured, with some degree of probability, that the

somewhat indefinite phrases, “Judah and Benjamin” are used by Ezra to

denote “the more prominent actors;” while Israeldesignates “the whole

nation collectively,” including persons belonging to all the tribes. It is

certainly remarkable that in the Book of Esther the Hebrews belonging to

all the tribes are no longer called “children of Israel” or “children of

Judah,” but simply “Jews.” But besides this fusion of tribes during the

Captivity, there would be a considerable admixture of such Hebrews as

remained behind with their heathen neighbors; this might be expected from

their readiness to contract heathenish intermarriages even in Ezra’s time.

Many of the original stock of Israel may thus be found in Chaldea and the

adjacent countries whither they had been carried captives, while others

migrated into regions more remote. The so-called “lost tribes” may thus

comprehend, not only those Israelites that were at so early a period as that

of the Captivity incorporated with the children of Judah, but also those that

intermingled with or were absorbed among the inhabitants of the Chaldean

provinces, and whose descendants are represented by the Nestorians,

Yezidees, and other tribes; and in case of those who had removed to

greater distances, by the inhabitants of Afghanistan, the Jews of Malabar

and elsewhere in India, the black Jews of Cochin China, the Jews of

Tartary, and even the North American Indians.

 

This passage of Hosea before us, and that in the second chapter towards

the end, which refer to the natural posterity of Abraham, consisting of

Israel and Judah, and composing one nationality, are applied in the New

Testament to Gentile believers. Hengstenberg draws attention to the

paradoxical fact, that, notwithstanding the disinheritance of the natural

Israel and in spite of their vast excision, yet “the number of the children of

Israel should be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor

numbered; who, from being not God’s people, should be called sons of the

living God; that the children of Judah and the children of Israel should be

gathered together and appoint themselves one Head, and come up out of

the land [of their captivity]; and that great should be this day of Jezreel [or

sowing].” He then proceeds to explain this as “first fulfilled in the

Messianic time, and as in part still to be fulfilled, when the family of

Abraham receives, and will yet more fully receive, an innumerable increase,

partly by the reception of an innumerable multitude of adopted sons

[Gentiles], and partly by the exaltation of [Israelitish] sons in an inferior, to

sons in the highest relation,” in other words, by the incorporation of the

multitudinous believing Gentries with the faithful remnant of Israel, thus

constituting ONE SUBLIME ISRAEL OF GOD,  one family of Abraham,

now the father of many nations, the heir of the world.

 

But the sense of the passage is not thus exhausted; more is to be

expected. At present Gentiles supply the place of the rejected portion of

the natural seed; the ultimate recovery, however, of this rejected and

disinherited, because still unbelieving, portion itself is also included, as we

believe, in this passage. (See also Romans chps.9-11 – CY – 2012)  But whether,

with their conversion to God and submission to Messiah, they shall be restored to the

“covenant land” from which their sin expelled them, is another question, and one not

so easily answered. Indeed, there has been much conflict of opinion in regard to that

answer. There is, at least, a presumption that with the pardon of their sin

they shall be favored with the “ancient token of reconciliation — their

return to the delightsome land.”

 

In an able work on “The Future of the Jewish Nation,” we find the

following statement: “The connection uniformly held forth in Scripture, in

the case of the Jews, between defection and dispersion, and between

reconciliation and restoration, constitutes strong ground for expecting that

the final conversion of the Jews will be accompanied by a final restoration

to their fatherland.” It is also added in the same work that the restoration

advocated is “no voluntary return in a state of unbelief,” but “a restoration

regarded as God’s public token of reconciliation to his ancient and now

believing people… neither are we contending for such a restoration as

involves separation and seclusion from other nations in the little nook of

Palestine… but while the head-quarters, the proper home of the nation, will

be in Palestine, there may be an abundant representation of the roving race

in all the places of their present dispersion.”

 

 

The Curse Reversed (vs.10-11; ch.2:1)

 

The yet with which this passage opens is a blessed yet. It introduces

suddenly an announcement of salvation for Israel. Hosea cannot think of

everything as being always for the worst. His children are not to be living

witnesses merely of approaching vengeance. So the prophet’s sobs of

agony are stilled for a little, to give place to THE STRAINS OF MESSIANIC

PROMISE!   He points out three blessings which lie on the other side of the

dreadful doom of the northern kingdom.

 

  • REALIZATION OF THE COVENANT PROMISE. (v.10.) Some

one might naturally ask the question — If Israel is to be “scattered,”

unpitied,” and “rejected,” what is to become of the promises given to

Abraham and the fathers of the Hebrew race (Genesis 22:17; 32:12)?

The prophet replies that these will be in no wise cancelled by the rejection

of the ten tribes. The people of the northern kingdom are to be dispersed

among the nations; but God’s purpose is to gather His Church from the

Gentile world as well as from the Jewish. The promises given to Abraham

were not so much national as spiritual. While, therefore, the symbolic one

hundred and forty-four thousand shall be “sealed,” there shall stand with

them before the throne the “great multitude, which no man could

 number” (Revelation 7:4, 9).

 

  • RECOVERY OF THE NATIONAL UNITY. (v.11.) In the past

there had always been more or less of enmity between Judah and Israel.

Long before the disruption of the kingdom, Ephraim “envied Judah

and Judah vexed Ephraim” (Isaiah 11:13).   And for two hundred

years now these tribes had also been sundered politically.  But, in the

good time coming, the twelve tribes shall again become one rod

in the hand of the Lord (Ezekiel 37:16-17). The oracle before us

implies, further, that prior to this reunion Judah also shall have been

rejected and carried into exile for its sins. To whom are we to refer this

notable prophecy of the “one head”?

 

Ø      It refers typically to Zerubbabel, the head of the tribe of Judah at the

return from the exile. Among those who went up with him were, at least,

a few belonging to the ten tribes; so that a partial miniature of this union

was presented in the return from Babylon.

 

Ø      It refers anti-typically to Jesus Christ, the “One Head” of redeemed

humanity. The literal Judah and Israel shall be reunited in Him, along with

the spiritual Israel of the whole Gentile Church. He receives the

appointment, of course, from His Father; but also from His people, in the

sense that they accept and rejoice in it. The lesson here is that ONLY IN

JESUS CHRIST is to be found the true basis of the brotherhood

 of the human race. The name of Jesus is the one adequate symbol of

life and liberty. Only His body, the Church, can communicate to the

world the blessings of the ideal republic — liberty, equality,

 fraternity. Union among men can only spring FROM THEIR

COMMON UNION WITH GOD IN JESUS CHRIST!

 

  • RESTORATION TO THE DIVINE FAVOR. In the names of

Hosea’s three children God had denounced woe upon Israel. But these

very names may also be understood so that they shall convey an assurance

of mercy and redemption. It may be, indeed, that after following for a

season in the evil ways of their mother Gomer, the three young people were

themselves converted, and thus became qualified in character to illustrate

their father’s prophetic message on its side of promise.

 

 

Ø      Jezreel will mean “God sows.” (v.11.) This name shall be purified

from its baser associations, and be understood again in accordance with

its richest meaning. Originally suggestive of the beauty and fertility of the

plain of Esdraelon, its application shall be extended, in the spiritual

sense, to the whole of Palestine and of the world (Isaiah 35:1-2).

When God sows there is sure to be a glorious harvest; hence the Messianic

promise, Great shall be the day of Jezreel.”

 

Ø      Not-my-people will become My people.” (v.10 and ch.2:1.) In

the good time coming, the men of Israel are to salute one another

no longer as “Lo-ammi;” but, joyfully dropping the negative, as

Ammi,” i.e. those whom the Lord has again called to be His people.

This name anticipates “the adoption of sons” under the New Testament.

Hence we find the Apostle Peter applying this passage to the Jews of the

dispersion (I Peter 2:10); and the Apostle Paul to the reception of the

Gentiles, in opposition to the Jews (Romans 9:25-26). The words of the

latter are not merely an ingenious adaptation of the prophecy to the heathen

nations; they are an argument based upon the fundamental thought of it.

Israel, through its apostasy, had fallen from the covenant of grace, and

had taken its place spiritually as part of the Gentile world, which served

dead idols. So the re-adoption of Israel carried with it THE

ADOPTION ALSO OF THE GENTILES as the spiritual

children of God.

 

Ø      Not-pitied will become “Pitied.” (ch.2:1.) The word

Ruhamah will be applied to the daughters of the people, to

express the climax of the Divine love. Israel is again to be the object

of the Lord’s tender and yearning affection. On the other side of all

the sin and doom Hosea discerns the sovereignty of Jehovah’s

compassion and loving-kindness, and he calls upon the people

rapturously to celebrate it.

 

CONCLUSION. How great the encouragement which these three verses

afford to any of us who feel that we have, in our own lives, grievously

departed from the living God!  We, in this age, should understand more

clearly than even Hosea did THE UNSPEAKABLE MERCY OF

JEHOVAH!   The prophet says nothing, for example, about the ground or

 method of the Divine forgiveness. But God has unfolded this “in these last days”

in speaking “unto us by His Son” (Hebrews 1:2). The Lord Jesus Christ

has come as the Prophet of the Church to emphasize and carry forward

Hosea’s message Jezreel,” “Ammi,” “Ruhamah.”

 

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