Hosea 10



The concluding thought of the last chapter is the commencing one of this; while the sad

subject of Israel’s guilt being resumed continues in the first section (vs. 1-8) of the

chapter, and that of their punishment in the second section (vs. 9-15), with a solemn

caution to make a better use of the future than they had done of the past.


1 Israel is an empty vine,” - The comparison of Israel to a vine is frequent; but

the epithet boqeq is variously rendered:


  • as “empty.” Thus Aben Ezra explains it as “empty in which there is no

strength to bring forth fruit, nor fruit;” and thus also Kimchi explains it:

“An empty vine in which there is not any life-sap;” and in the same sense

ymw yb, “empty and sick,” Nahum 2:10. This, too, is the meaning of

the Authorized Version, but is irreconcilable with the statement in the

following clause, “he bringeth forth fruit.” The Chaldee had preceded in

giving the word the sense of “plundered,” “empty,” “waste.”


  • But some take boqeq transitively, and attach to it the signification of

“emptying out its fruit.” In this way Rashi explains it: “The Israelites

resemble a vine which casts all its good fruit;” and similarly the marginal

rendering of the Authorized Version has, “a vine emptying the fruit which

it giveth.”


  • There is a signification derivable from the primary meaning of boqeq more

suitable than either of the preceding. From the primary sense of “pouring,”

“pouring itself out,” or” poured out,” and so overflowing, comes that of

“luxuriant.” Accordingly Gesenius translates, “a wide-spreading vine.” This

agrees with the Septuagint εὐκληματοῦσα euklaematousa - a vine

 with goodly branches -  to which the Vulgate frondosa, “leafy,” nearly

corresponds. In like manner De Wette renders it wuchernder, “growing

prosperously.” It was thus a vine of vigorous growth, and extending its

branches far and wide; a parallel expression is found in the גי סֹרַחַת 

of Ezekiel 17:6, “a spreading vine.”


“he (rather, it) bringeth forth fruit unto himself (itself)”. The word יְשַׁוֶּה

]literally signifies “reset to” or “on,” and is rightly rendered by Gesenius “to set” or

“yield fruit.”  It is variously interpreted by theHebrew commentators, but more or

less erroneously by them all. Rashi takes it in the sense of “to profit;” Aben Ezra,

“to bear” or “make equal;” and Kimchi informs us that the older interpreters

understood in the sense of “lying,” as if שוא, the whole phrase meaning, “the

fruit will lie to him,” that is, deceive or fail him (like ch.9:2). Kimchi himself takes

the verb in the right sense, but, misled by his erroneous explanation of boqeq,

empty or plundered, takes the clause interrogatively: “How shall he set on

himself [equivalent to ‘yield’ any fruit], since he is as a plundered vine; for

the enemies have plundered him and set him as an empty vessel? how

should he still thrive and become numerous in children and treasures?” It

makes little difference whether we take the second part of the first clause

relatively or independently, as the sense amounts to the same. The meaning

of the two difficult and disputed words then we take to be respectively

“luxuriant” and “yield;” and the sense of the whole is either:


  • a comparison of the former state of Israel to a vine luxuriant and likely,

as far as appearance went, to set forth fruit; but the luxuriance

degenerated into leafage, and the likelihood of fruitage failed;


  • or Israel is compared to a vine luxuriant in growth and abundant in fruit

    but only for itself.


The former explanation accords with that of Jerome when he says, “Unpruned

vines luxuriate in the juice and leaves which they ought to transmute into wine.

They disperse in the idle ambitious show of leaves and branches.” The more

abundantly a fruit tree gives out its strength in leaves and branches, the less

abundant and the worse the quality of the fruit. Thus it was with the fig tree,

with its abundant leaves and no fruit, which our Lord cursed (Matthew 21:17-20).

But with the same or a similar rendering there is the alternative sense of prosperous

growth and plenteous fruit, but that fruit wasted on self or sin; and thus the meaning

in either case is much the same. The Septuagint favors this by καρπὸς εὐθηνῶν αὐτῆς

ho karpos euthaenon autaes -  equivalent to “its fruit exuberant.” Cyril

favors this latter also in saying, “When Israel still wisely led a life in accordance with

the Divine Law, it was as a beautiful vine adorned with branches, which even the

neighboring nations admired.” This was exactly the state of Israel in the days of

Joash and Jeroboam II.; but their prosperity was prostituted to purposes of

idolatry. Jerome also, in another part of his exposition, approaches this

sense. Taking ישוּה, in the sense of “to equal,” he says, “The fecundity of

the grapes equaled the fecundity of the branches: but they who had

previously been so fruitful before they offended God, afterwards turned the

abundance of fruits into multiplied occasions of offence; and the greater the

population they possessed, the more altars they built, and exceeded the

abundant produce of the land by the multitude of their idols.” Or the verb

may mean, “it made fruit equal to itself;” nearly so the Vulgate. The fruit is

agreeable to it – “according to the multitude of his fruit he hath

increased the altars;” -  In this second or middle clause of the verse the

figure passes into the fact represented by it. It is no longer the vine, but

Israel. The altars kept pace with the increase of population and abundant

produce; the multiplication of altars for idolatrous sacrifice and service was

proportionate to their prosperity. The l’ here and in next clause marks the

circumlocutory genitive, and the ke is quantitative -  “according to the

goodness of his land they have made goodly images (margin, statues,

or, standing images)”.  The matstsevoth here mentioned, in the Septuagint,

are στήλης –- staelaes - statues or pillars - and those pillars were erected

to Baal or some other idol, as we read in I Kings 14:23. The plural of the verb in

this last clause arises from Israel being a noun of multitude. Rashi gives the

following brief exposition: “Just in proportion as I caused their prosperity

to overflow to them, they multiplied calves for the altars;” but Kimchi

explains both clauses more fully and accurately thus: As I increased their

prosperous state in treasures and children, they multiplied altars to Baal;

as I did good to their land in corn and wine and oil, they waxed strong in

setting up pillars for other gods;” the verb חטי has the same sense here as

ההטי in Jonah 4:9.    


2 “Their heart is divided;” -  Here their wickedness is traced to its fountainhead;

its source was in the corrupt state of the heart. Their heart was


  • divided, and so they halted between two opinions — between the

worship of Jehovah and idolatry. Chalaq is taken in this signification by the

Chaldee, Syriac, Septuagint, and Jerome, as also by the Hebrew

commentators. The Septuagint has:


Ø      ἐμέρισενemerisindivided -  in the singular, which affords

some support to Hitzig’s rendering, “He (God)divided their heart,” —

but this is unsuitable and unscriptural; another


Ø      reading of the same version is ἐμέρισανemerisan - , “They have

divided their hearts,” which is somewhat better, yet incorrect.


Ø      The Authorized Version is also questionable, as the verb is not used

intransitively in Qal.


  • Kimchi, indeed, understands chalaq as equivalent to niehloq in the

Niphal, and interprets, “From the fear of God and from His Law their heart

is divided,” i.e. separated; similarly Rashi: “Their heart is divided from

me;” Aben Ezra somewhat peculiarly, though to the same purport: “They

(their heart) has not one part (but several),”or is divided. But,

notwithstanding this consensus in favor of the meaning of “divide,” the

rendering preferred, and justly so, by modern expositors in general, is

“smooth.” This is, indeed, the primary sense, that of “divide” being

secondary, as division was made by lot or a smooth stone, cheleq, used

for the purpose.


  • “Their heart is smooth,” that is, bland, deceitful, hypocritical; though it

must be admitted that the word is mostly applied to the tongue, lip, throat,

mouth, speech, and not to the heart. Their heart was hypocritical and



“now shall they be found faulty:” -  rather, they shall be dealt with

as such, or punished; better still, perhaps, is the rendering, now shall they

atone. The “now” defines sharply the turning-point between God’s love

and God’s wrath. The state of things hitherto existing cannot continue; it

must soon come to an end. Ere long they are doomed to discover their

guilt in its punishment; they shall find out their sin by suffering; suddenly

and to their cost they shall have a fearful awaking to a sense of their

iniquity by the inflictions of Divine wrath upon their guilty heads – “He shall

break down their altars, He shall spoil their images.”  The verb עדפ is

peculiar; being a denominative from ערֶפ, the neck, it signifies “to break

the neck of,” like the Greek τραχηλίζειν, trachaelizein -  decollate, then

figuratively “tear down,” “break in pieces.” This bold expression of breaking

the neck of the altars may allude to their destruction by breaking off the horns of

the altars, or rather to their beheading, cutting off the heads of victims at those

altars.  The Hebrew expositors make the heart of the people, not God, the

immediate object of the verb. “Their heart,” says one of them, “shall tear

down their altars and lay waste their pillars, because it is divided from me.

It will tear down their altars which they are said also to have multiplied,

and lay waste their pillars which they made so goodly.” The means of

sinning shall be taken from them and destroyed — their altars broken

down and their images spoiled. As the heads of victims had been cut off at these

altars erected for idolatrous worship; so the heads of their altars would be

broken off.



A Divided Heart (v. 2)


The history of the people of Israel furnishes many an illustration of the

state of mind vividly depicted in these words. For instance, in the time of

Elijah, the heart of Israel was divided between Jehovah and Baal. Hosea

had to complain of the same distraction of mind as characteristic of the

generation to which he ministered. And what congregation is there addressed

by a Christian preacher which does not contain many “a divided heart”?




Ø      Others beside the Lord lay claim to the heart. In the case of

Israel, there were idols who were reputed by neighboring

nations to be powerful and helpful. In the case of those professing

Christianity, there are many rivals, in the person of earthly and

human claimants, and in the shape of various preoccupations,

pleasures, and pursuits.


Ø      There is native weakness and vacillation. Many natures are by

constitution unstable; and many have encouraged weakness by

yielding to temptation.


  • THE SYMPTOMS OF A DIVIDED HEART. The case is not that of

one who has actually renounced and abjured the worship and service of the

Lord. But in hesitating between the two different and inconsistent

allegiances, the divided heart is faithful to neither. We meet with

instances of such indecision in domestic and social life, There may be a

vigorous intellect where there is a vacillating heart, affections easily

won and easily lost, prone to transference hither and thither. And in religion


AT THE SAME TIME  or who seem to be earnest in the service of God,

and shortly after equally devoted to the incompatible service of God’s enemy.




Ø      It is ruinous to the individual nature. No man can live an inconsistent

life, such as a divided heart involves, without moral deterioration.

He loses self-respect and moral dignity.


Ø      IT IS INJUROUS TO SOCIETY.   Men respect decision, but they

are repelled by its opposite, and they despise a professor of religion

whose spirit and demeanor are inconsistent with his profession.


Ø      It is hateful to God, who says, “My son, Give me thy heart”

(Proverbs 23:26) and who will accept no compromise or composition.


  • THE CURE FOR A DIVIDED HEART. The only cure is a radical

and severe one. The heart must be withdrawn from God’s rivals, and

yielded, without reserve and without delay, to him who has a right to it,

and who claims it as his own.


“Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it;

    Prone to leave the God I love!

Here’s my heart, Lord; take and seal it —

   Seal it from thy courts above.”


3 “For now they shall say, We have no king, because we feared

not the Lord;” -  In the day of their destruction Israel would be brought to

see and even feel that the king appointed through their own self-will and

fancied plenitude of power was unable to protect or help them, and that

because they had rejected Jehovah and cast aside His fear. The point of time

denoted by “now” is either when they see destruction before their eyes, or

when Israel is already in captivity. Rashi explains it in the former sense:

“When destruction shall come upon them, they shall say, ‘We have no

king,’ that is, our king on whom we set our hopes when we said, ‘Our king

shall go out before us and light our battles’  (I Samuel 8:20), affords us no

help whatever.” Kimchi explains similarly, but fixes the “now” in the time of the

Captivity:  “Now, when they shall be carried out of their land, they shall

recognize and say, ‘We have no king;’ the explanation is, as it’ we had no king

among us, for there is no strength in him to deliver us out of the hand of our

enemies, as we thought when we asked for a king who should march at our head

and fight our battles. God — blessed be he! — was our King, and we

needed no king, and he it was that delivered us out of the hand of our

enemies when we did His will.” Aben Ezra and others understand it as the

expression of a wild license on the part of Israel, recklessly giving vent to

an ANARCHIAL and ATHEISTIC SPIRIT: “As soon as their heart was

divided they had no wish to have a king over them, and had no fear of Jehovah;

therefore they had no fear, and every one did what was right in his own

eyes” (Judges 21:25).  This exposition neglects the note of time, as also the

causal particle that follows. They bethought themselves that, as they had not feared

Jehovah, but neglected His Law, the king which they had demanded could

do them no good – “what then should a king do to us?  “What,” they asked,

“can the king do for us? He has no power to deliver us, since God is angry with

us, for we have sinned against Him?” Such is the confession of Israel in captivity.

Pusey remarks in reference to this: “In sin, all Israel had asked for a king, when

the Lord was their King; in sin, Ephraim had made Jeroboam king; in sin, their

subsequent kings were made, without the counsel and advice of God; and

now, as the close of all, THEY REFLECT ON HOW FRUITLESS ALL



God, by the prophet, had charged Israel with fruitlessness, or with bringing forth fruit

to themselves; with perverting the bounties of His providence in promoting idolatry;

with their division of heart, or deceitfulness of heart. He had also threatened to punish

them for their sin, and to deprive them of the means of sinning by destroying the

instruments thereof, and to prevent their obtaining any help from their king, proving

to them the folly of depending on him. He now proceeds, in this and following

verses (4-8), to point out their MORAL CORRUPTION,  the usual consequence

or concomitant of irreligion and of false religion, instancing their deceptive

dealing in the common affairs of life and their perjury in public compacts or

covenants, as also their general unrighteousness. He threatens to destroy

their idols to the distress of their worshippers and ministering priests as

well as of their chief city. He threatens further to cause their calf-idols to

be carried into captivity, pouring shame and contempt on their enterprises;

to cut off their king; to leave the places of their idol-worship desolate,

filling the people with distress and despair because of all their sins.



Sin and Its Retribution (vs. 1-3)


  • PERVERTED USE OF PROSPERITY. Israel is a vine not empty, nor

emptied, nor plundered, according to Calvin, say, by the tribute paid to

Pul; for, if empty, how then could he bring forth fruit, except, indeed, at

some subsequent season? He is compared, rather, to a wide-spreading vine,

pouring out its strength in luxuriant leafage and show of fruit; or even

suitable fruit. But the fruit thus yielded was not fruit to God, as it should

have been, but fruit TO ITSELF and FOR ITSELF.   The figure of a

flourishing vine, condensed by the prophet here, is fully expanded and developed

by the psalmist in Psalm 80:8-11 - “Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt:

thou hast cast out the heathen, and planted it. Thou preparedst room

before it, and didst cause it to take deep root, and it filled the land. The

hills were covered with the shadow of it, and the boughs thereof were like

the goodly cedars. She sent out her boughs unto the sea, and her branches

unto the river.” Such had Israel been aforetime. Their fruit trees produced

abundantly; their land was very fertile: the fruit of man and beast and tree

multiplied, and their land increased in fertility: but these blessings of

Providence were abused. Instead of leading them to repentance, these good

gifts of God’s providence were sadly misused and shockingly perverted;

instead of being employed in the service and to the glory of the Giver, they

were used for idolatrous purposes, and thus they ministered to sin. Altars

were reared to idols and statues set up; they multiplied their altars and

made goodly images.



had blessed them with prosperity and plenty, but they made a poor return;

nay, they returned evil for His goodness. They might well be compared to

an emptying vine, casting its fruit before it was ripe, according to one

explanation of the word, for they emptied themselves of the riches He

conferred on them by sending presents to foreign princes, or purchasing

their alliance, or paying tribute to their conquerors; or they wasted their

wealth on their idols and in idolatrous practices, or on self and sin in some

form. Or, if they brought forth fruit unto maturity, that fruit did not

redound to the Divine glory; the fruit borne by them was not the fruit of

righteousness; the seemingly good works done by them were not to the

praise and glory of God. What they did they did for their own profit or

pleasure, or to gain the praise of men. The blessings bestowed on them

were not used to promote the Divine glory, or to help the Divine service,

or to advance the cause of true religion in any way, but were lavished on

their own lusts, or selfish gratifications, or abominable idolatries,

multiplying altars to their idols, offering sacrifices more numerous and

expensive, making pillars or statues of costlier metal and with richer



Ø      The root of the evil was within. The seat of all their sin was

within, and out of the heart it proceeded; their heart was divided, or

hypocritical, and therefore not right with God. Persons guilty of such

sin and folly and gross ingratitude God could not hold guiltless. They

were dealt with as guilty and punished, or were left desolate — their

land wasted, and themselves led into captivity.


Ø      Accumulated wrath issues in aggravated punishment. The means

God graciously gave them for charitable and noble purposes of

benevolence, or for high and holy service, they threw away recklessly on

vile and worthless objects; as the means increased, the wickedness

increased. God tried them with prosperity; He proved them, but they did

not stand the test; every day they persisted in their mad career of sin.

They were treasuring up for themselves wrath against the day of wrath.


Ø      God corrects in measure that men may repent of sin and turn to God. If

the day of visitation is improved, it is well; if, when God withdraws His

hand and grants a respite, or suspends the stroke, His gracious design is

duly responded to, the chastisement is sanctified, and the person so

treated has good cause to say, “It is good for me that I have been

afflicted” (Psalm 119:71).  If otherwise, if individuals are found faulty,

if their sin has found them out, then the means of sinning are suddenly

and unexpectedly snatched from them, and themselves swept awfully

as with the besom of destruction.


Ø      Whoever be the instrument or whatever the memos, the Author of the

infliction is God. The subject here is not specified; as far as the grammar

goes, it might be the Assyrian or other enemy that broke down their

altars and spoiled their images, but sense and Scripture lead the thoughts

up to God. Though indefinite, the emphatic use of the pronoun fixes the




SEQUEL OF A SINFUL PRESENT. Thus it is with those who, having

perverted the gifts of God’s goodness, do not profit by punishment mildly

administered. Israel, who had rejected their heavenly King, were soon to

find themselves deprived of their earthly king, and reduced to a state of

anarchy. They would soon be forced to say,” We have no king, no

protector.” This is assigned as the cause of the preceding statement about

the wreck of their altars and the ruin of their statues or pillars. This

catastrophe is looked upon as brought about in consequence of their

having no kingly protection or defense. Their rejection of Jehovah in the

double capacity of God and King, by their turning to idolatry and refusing

the theocracy, led eventually to ecclesiastical disaster, and civil or

 secular distress. Forsaking God as King, they have now no king — no

upholder of either Church or state; consequently their altars, as they conceived,

were broken down and their images spoiled. Thus they bemoan their present

anomalous and perilous position. But they bethink themselves that even if

they had a king he could do them no good, seeing that Divine power was

opposed to them, and Divine wrath incurred by them. What, then, under

such untoward circumstances, could a king do for them? Here is the exact

converse of the believer’s confidence: “If God be for us, who can be

against us?” (Romans 8:31)  Jerome’s exposition brings out the sense well,

as follows:  “After God shall have shattered the images of Israel, and utterly

destroyed their altars and statues, and the final captivity shall have come, they

shall say, “We have no king.” And lest they should think that the sentence would

be deferred for a long time, he added, They shall say now: when they are

being laid waste, when they shall perceive that Hoshea, their last king, has

been removed from them, a king is taken away from us, because we did not

fear God, our true King, for what could a human king avail us?’”


4 They have spoken words, swearing falsely in making a covenant:” –

In this fourth verse the prophet deplores the absence of truth, faithfulness, and

loyalty to duty. This expression, “they have spoken words,” is generally

understood to signify:


  • “empty words,” “false words,” only words and no more, like the Latin

verba alicui dare. Thus their vain, deceitful, lying words in PRIVATE

TRANSACTIONS  and common affairs of everyday life would


COVENANTS.  Their words were deceitful and their oaths falsehood.

In their ordinary business transactions they used words, empty words, words

without truth, corresponding thereto; in international concerns they had pursued

the same course of falsifying and covenant-breaking. After entering into an

engagement with the Assyrian king Shalmaneser, they made a covenant with

So King of Egypt, as we read in II Kings 17:4, And the King of Assyria

found conspiracy in Hoshea: for he had sent messengers to So King of

Egypt, and brought no present to the King of Assyria, as he had done

 year by year.” In this latter case they acted as covenant-breakers, and at

the same time contravened the Divine command, which forbade them entering

into covenants with foreigners. (Two sins with one stone – CY – 2012) 


  • The first clause, however, is understood by some in the sense of “deliberating.’

Thus Kimchi understands it, erroneously referring it to Jeroboam and his

countrymen; thus: “Jeroboam and his companions took counsel what they

should do in order to strengthen the government in his hand, and they

deliberated (or held consultation) that the people should not go up to

Jerusalem to the house of the sanctuary; and for this purpose they bound

themselves by oath and made a covenant. But their oath was a vain one,

because their oath was intended to frustrate the words of the Law and the

command of God, and to make images for their worship.” (I Kings 12:26-28)


Ø      The words אָללֺוֹ  ָשוְא ; have been explained by some as oaths of

vanity,” that is, oaths by vanity or an idol, as an oath of Jehovah is an

oath by Jehovah, אָלות; being taken for a noun in the plural;


Ø      as predicate, while the following words supply the subject; thus: “their

covenant contracts are oaths of vanity.” This mistake of taking אָלות ;

for a noun arose from the anomalous form of the word, which is really

a verb.  The form is explained by Aben Ezra, who calls it an irregular

formation, as if it were compounded of the infinitive construct as indicated

by the ending אּות,, and the infinitive absolute as indicated by the qamets

 in the first syllable; it is in reality the infinitive absolute, and the i

rregularity is owing to the assonance with karoth thence resulting. As to

the construction, it is that of the infinitive standing in place of the finite

verb, of which Gesenius says, “This is frequent... in the expression of

several successive acts or states, where only the first of the verbs

employed takes the required form in respect to tense and person, the

others being simply put in the infinitive with the same tense and person

implied.”  The meaning of the clause is obviously that there was no

 longer any respect for the sanctity of an oath; while the treaties

 refer to those made with the Assyrian king, with the object of

securing  and upholding the government.


“thus judgment springeth up as hemlock in the furrows of the field.”  The judgment

Here spoken of is understood:


  • by the Hebrew interpreters, following the Chaldee Version, as the

judgment of God and consequent punishment of Israel because of sin; thus

Kinchi: “Therefore there springs up against them the judgment of

chastisements and punishments like hemlock, which is a bitter herb that

springs up on the furrows of the field.”


  • Some, again,  explain it of the decree of the kings of Israel in reference to the

worship of idols, which, like a bitter herb, was to issue in national ruin.


  • We much prefer the more obvious sense of the clause which refers it to the

perversion of judgment and justice. Thus Amos addresses them as those

who “turn judgment to wormwood, and leave off righteousness in the

earth,” and calls on them to “establish judgment in the gate” (Amos 5:7,15),

and Habakkuk writes, Wrong [wrested] judgment proceedeth” (Habakkuk

1:4). It is implied in the mention of furrows that there has been careful

preparation for the intended crop. The seed they sow is injustice; and

the plant that springs up from it is a poison plant — hemlock, bitter and

noxious, and is everywhere rampant (like Johnson grass and Canadian

Thistle in our area – CY – 2012) 


  • Another explanation understands “judgment” in the sense of crime which

calls on judgment for punishment. The field is that of the Israelitish nation;

in all the furrows of that wide field judgment, that is, crime, springs up as

luxuriantly and abundantly as hemlock. The multiplication of crime in

Israel, like a luxurious noxious growth in some large field, is the idea thus

conveyed. This explanation has the appearance at least of being somewhat

strained and forced, though it yields a good sense.


5 “The inhabitants of Samaria shall fear because of the calves of Beth-aven:”

Samaria was the capital of Israel, the northern kingdom. Bethel means “house of God,”

once a place of sacred memory from its association with the history of the patriarch

Jacob; afterward one of the two centers of idolatrous worship, and here called

Beth-aven, “house of vanity,” because of the idolatry. The word for “calves” is in

the feminine, in order to express contempt for those idols which Jeroboam set up.

(If Israelite society was like ours now, no doubt there would be demonstrations

over the use of gender to describe what was taking place – CY – 2012)  With this

have been compared the following expressions in Greek and Latin:

 Ἀχαι'´ιδες οὐκ ἔτ Ἀχαιοὶ, - Achaiides ouk et Achaioi -  and O vere Phrygiae,

 nec enim Phryges! The Hebrews ignored the existence of female divinities,

 as of their, ten names of the Deity all are masculine. The feminine may also

imply their weakness; so far from helping their worshippers, their worshippers were

in trepidation for them, or rather it, lest it should be carried away captive. Further,

this same word is in the plural, to cast ridicule on it, as if mimicking the plural

of majesty, or rather, perhaps, to include that of Dan, or to intimate that

the calf of Bethel, the more celebrated place, was that after which the calf

of Dan and probably those of other places were fashioned, especially so as

it is afterwards referred to in the singular. Besides, a few — a very few —

manuscripts, it is true, read the singular, as also the Septuagint, which has

μόσχοςmoschoscalf -  and the Syriac; while Bathe, relying on these

authorities, maintains the reading to have been לְעֶגְלַת in the singular.

Others suppose an enallage of both gender and number; or an indefinite generality

is expressed by the plural, while for abstracts the feminine is used. THE COMING


 inhabitants, perceiving symptoms of its approach, tremble for their god


“for the people thereof shall mourn over it,” - The people of Israel are now

called the people of the calf, as once they had been the people of Jehovah, and

as Moab was called the people of Chemosh. They had chosen the calf for their

god. Of their own free-will they had done so, though at first enjoined and prompted

to adopt this course by the mandate of their king; they had even rejoiced and gloried

in it. Now they mourn for their idol, which can neither help itself nor them.

“and the priests thereof that rejoiced on it, for the glory thereof,

because it is departed from it.”  According to this rendering, the relative

must be understood before “rejoiced,” which, though quite possible and

not ungrammatical, is, however, unnecessary. The Hebrew commentators

all understand the word in the sense of “joy” or “jubilation;” thus Rashi

says,” Why is it that its people mourn over, it and its priests, who always

rejoiced over it, now mourn over its glory that is gone away?” The word

lygi, however, is primarily “to twist or whirl one’s self,” and is thence

applied to any violent emotion, generally of joy, also of anxiety and fear, as

here, so that the simpler and more correct rendering is, the priests thereof

shall tremble for it, for its glory, because it is departed from it. The priests

here mentioned have a peculiar name, kemarim, from kamar, to be black,

from the black garments in which they ministered, and are thus

distinguished as ministers of a foreign cult; for kohen is the usual word for

a Hebrew priest, and his robe of office is said to have been white. The

glory of the calf-god was not the temple treasure at Bethel, nor its glory as

the state God set up there, but the honor and the DIVINE HALO  with which

 its worship there was surrounded. Thus Kimchi: “When its glory is departed

from it; and this means the honor of its worship. When the calf is broken

before their eyes its glory shall depart from it.” The perfects of “mourn”

and “departed” are prophetic, denoting the certainty of the events, though

yet future; while galah and yagilu form the favorite assonance. But a

question still remains — Why is Samaria and not Beth-aven said to mourn?

To this the explanation of Kimchi is a satisfactory reply: “The inhabitants

of Samaria tremble. And the prophet makes mention of Samaria, though

there were no calves there, because it was the metropolis of the kingdom,

where the kings of Israel resided, and it was these kings who strengthened

the people in the worship of the calves. And he says,” When Bethel is laid

waste, and the calves cannot deliver it, the inhabitants of Samaria tremble

for themselves, which place (Samaria) the King of Assyria laid siege to for

three years.”


6 “It shall be also carried unto Assyria for a present to King

Jareb:” -  Here we have an explanation and confirmation of what has just

been said in the preceding verse. The calf, the glorious and magnificent

national god, as Israel considered it, is brought to Assyria, and there

offered as a present to the Assyrian king. The word gam is emphatic; that

is, “it also,” “itself also,” or “it also with men and other spoils” — the

golden idol of Bethaven.  Kimchi’s explanation of gam is as follows:

“Genesis, extension or generalization of the term, refers to the glory he had

mentioned. He says, ‘Lo, in its place the glory shall depart from it as soon

as they shall break it. Also, the stump of the calf, namely, the gold thereon,

after its form is broken, they shall take away as a present to King Jareb.’”

The sign of the accusative with suffix אוחו, which here stands before a

passive verb, may be taken either:


  • absolutely, “as to it also,” “it shall be brought ;” or
  • as an instance of anacoluthon; or
  • according to Gesenius, the passive may be regarded as an impersonal

active, and thus it may take the object of the action in the accusative.


The word yubhal is from yabhal, primarily used of flowing in a strong and

violent stream, and so the root of מַבּול, the flood; then it signifies “to go,”

“to be brought or carried.” The minchah here spoken of cannot well mean

tribute, but is rather a gift of homage .to the Assyrian conqueror, whom the

prophet m vision sees already wasting the land of Israel and carrying away

all its treasures and precious things -  “Ephraim shall receive shame, and

Israel shall be ashamed of his own counsel.” The feminine form, בָשְׁנָה

of which נּשֶׁן, the masculine, by analogy, is not in use — is wrongly

explained by the Hebrew expositors as having a pleonastic nun. The

construction usually preferred is that given above. Others render it, “Shame shall

seize Ephraim;” but this constructs a feminine noun with a masculine verb, contrary

to grammar. Hitzig translates,” He (the Assyrian king) shall take away or carry off

the shame of Ephraim; that is, the calf-idol.” He remarks that the construct

feminine does not always in the speech of North Israel end in tA, and cites

several passages in proof.  The counsel of which Israel would be ashamed is



  • of the consultation held before making a covenant or treaty with the

King of Assyria;

  • it is generally and more correctly understood of Jeroboam taking

counsel with his tribesmen of Ephraim about setting up the calf idols.


Jareb is a proper name, or rather an appellation. The King of Assyria, or the

great king, was looked up to by the smaller Asiatic states for protection,

and consequently styled their Jareb, avenger or defender, just as  σώτηρ

sotaer -  savior, was a title applied to or assumed by certain kings for a similar

reason, as Ptolemy Soter and others. The object of Israel’s idolatry is

carried off as a present to propitiate or appease the wrath of the Assyrian

patron and protector — probably Shalmaneser in the present instance — or

taken as a trophy to grace the triumph of the conqueror. So far from

defending THE CALF-PEOPLE, AS ISRAEL HAD BECOME,  their calf-god

could not defend itself; instead of preserving its worshippers from deportation, IT

WAS DOOMED ITSELF TO DEPORTATION.   Ephraim, the premier tribe,

received shame, and Israel, the remaining tribes that had followed its lead and adopted

its evil counsel, shared the shame; all of them together were thoroughly put to

shame because of their mistaken and wicked policy. The counsel of Jeroboam —

for to it, in our opinion, is the reference — appeared an able stroke of policy; but

this policy, by which he hoped to detach Israel from Judah, was not only frustrated,

but proved positively ruinous, so far were the means from effecting the end, or the

end from justifying the wisdom of the means.


7 “As for Samaria, her king is cut off as the foam upon the water (face of the

waters).” Instead of the throne of Samaria being established, or the kingdom

consolidated by the idolatrous measures which Jeroboam had adopted for the

purpose, the king himself was cut off as foam upon the surface of the waters, or as

a chip carried off by the current, and the kingdom ingloriously ruined. Though the

sense is sufficiently plain, the sentence has been variously constructed. Thus:


  • one of the Hebrew commentators renders it, “In the city of Samaria her

king has been made like foam on the surface of the water” (be being

understood and נדמה  taken in the sense of “being like”).

  • Rashi, understanding the verb to signify being “reduced to silence,”

explains, “The King of Samaria is brought to silence.”

·         The correct signification of the verb, however, is “cut off” or

“annihilated,” while the construction may be


Ø      an asyndeton; thus: “Samaria (and) her king;” or

Ø      Samaria taken as nominative absolute, — thus in the Authorized

Version, “(As for) Samaria, her king is cut off;” or

Ø      supplying נדמה to the second noun, with Aben Ezra, “Samaria is

cut off, her king is cut off.”

Ø      Some consider it simpler to translate as follows: “Samaria is cut off;

Ø      her king is like [literally, ‘as’] a chip on the surface of the waters.”


In this way the Massoretic punctuation is neglected. Sheraton is feminine, as the names

of cities and countries usually are, and therefore the suffix to “king” is feminine, while

the masculine form, נִדְמֶה, is justified by its position at the head of the sentence; for,

according to Gesenius, the predicate at the beginning of a clause or sentence “often

takes its simplest and readiest form, viz. the masculine singular, even when the subject,

not yet expressed, but coming after, “is feminine or plural.” קצפ  is explained

either as “foam” or “splinter.” The latter is, perhaps, preferable, as the

verbal root cognate with the Arabic katsapha signifies “to break,” “break

off,” “crack;” then “to be angry” (its most common meaning) from the

sudden breaking out or breaking loose of passion.  The word קצפה in Joel 1:7,

from the same root, is literally a” breaking or breaking off,” “barking,” The word

דמה, again, has two principal meanings — one “to be like,” the other “to

be silent” (connected, according to Gesenius, with a different root,

damam, dum, like the English “dumb”); or the meanings are traceable to

one root, in the sense of “making flat,” “plane,” “smooth;” then “silent,”

and so “reduced to silence,” “destroyed.”


8 “The high places also of Aven, the sin of Israel, shall be destroyed:” –

By Aven is generally understood Beth-aven, that is, Bethel; but some take the word

as an appellative, and thus bamoth-aven would signify the “high places of iniquity.”

These unlawful places of sacrifice and unholy places of iniquity are further characterized

by the appositional “the sin of Israel.” By constructing and frequenting such places

Israel had primarily and grievously sinned. By sacrificing to and worshipping even

Jehovah on these high places instead of in Jerusalem, the only legal place for Divine


WORSHIP BEGAIN; subsequently, however, things became worse, and these

high places became scenes of most abominable idolatries and shamelessly sinful

practices. Those places — one and all — are in the words before us DOOMED

TO DESTRUCTION -  “the thorn and the thistle shall come up on their altars;”

The destruction is thus vividly described as total and complete; those bad eminences

were devoted to entire wasteness and desolation. “It is a sign of extreme solitude,”

says Jerome, “so that no traces even of wall or buildings remained to be seen;”

similarly Rashi says, “Thorns and thistles shall grow up upon their altars, because the

worshippers thereof have departed and no one longer remains to attend to them”

so Kimchi: “On the altars of Israel which they (the enemies) shall lay waste shall

horns spring up”  - “and they shall say to the mountains, Cover us; and to

the hills, Fall on us.”  The sight of such fearful ruin and desolation overwhelms

the wretched inhabitants of the land with distress and dismay; in sheer despair and

even desperation they invoke a sure and sudden death as much preferable to

their remaining longer spectators of such heart-rending scenes. Their

exclamation appears to be proverbial, and to have had its origin in the

custom of the Israelites fleeing, in seasons of great calamities, to the

mountains and clefts of the rocks to hide themselves; thus in Judges 4:2

we read that “because of the Midianites the children of Israel made them

the dens which are in the mountains, and eaves, and strongholds.” The

object of their exclamation is to be buried under the hills or mountains

rather than endure such calamities longer; or rather than the enemies

should see them in their shame. Aben Ezra makes “altars” the subject of

“shall say,” as if it were the wish of the altars to be covered that they may

never more be seen. Theodoret considers the sense of the passage to be

that the multitude of calamities in the war occasioned by hostile invasion

would be so great that there would be no one who would not prefer being

overwhelmed in an earthquake or by the sudden fall of the mountains,

rather than endure the calamities inflicted by the enemies. Similarly, but

more concisely, Jerome says, “They are more willing to die than see the

evils that bring death.”  (The classic wish though, is reserved for the last

days – see  Revelation 6:12-17 – CY 2012)



Israel’s Sin, Sorrow, Shame, and Suffering (vs. 4-8)


These verses exhibit them with marvelous conciseness and great impressiveness.


·         ISRAEL’S SIN OF UNFAITHFULNESS. Israel’s unfaithfulness at the

period of which the prophet speaks was of the most reckless kind. It took

the form:


Ø      of idolatry with respect to God,

Ø      of disloyalty to their sovereign, and

Ø      of falsehood in their dealings with their fellow-men in general.


By their idolatry they renounced the covenant of their God, which had the

seal of circumcision; their promises of reformation, when they made such,

were falsified; the vows wrung from them in distress or otherwise they

failed to pay. The most sacred bonds did not bind them; subjects violated

their oath of allegiance, and sovereigns their coronation oath; alike in

treaties with foreign powers as in contracts with their fellow-men, they

made no conscience of keeping faith. Add to all this the perversion of

justice and the misuse of judgment, and the picture is complete; perfidy,

perjury, and the perversion of judgment being in the foreground, and

untruthfulness the dark background of all. Such was the growth, prolific

and pestiferous as hemlock, which at this period overspread the land of

Israel as if in furrows specially prepared for it.



sure that their sin shall find them out, by detection, or punishment, or both;

while sorrow follows in the wake of sin. The inhabitants of the northern

capital, like the people of Bethel or Beth-aven, being calf-worshippers, and

therefore, called the people of the calf, would naturally be overwhelmed

with consternation and alarm, when the news of an invading host

approaching the provincial town, which was the chief seat of the calf-worship,

reached them; still more so when that hostile host had actually

entered it and carried off their idol. Their fear before the event would be

succeeded by sorrow after it. Not only would the Samaritans sympathize

with their coreligionists of Bethel in their calamity and loss, but tremble

because of their own proximity to peril, not knowing how soon the tide of

conquest should sweep over themselves. Both peoples, Samaritans and

Beth-avenites, united in a common cause, and, involved in a common

calamity or soon to be so, would mourn for the loss of their idol. This

Scripture may well impress its lesson, and a most salutary one, on all

idolaters, whether those who bow down to those idol vanities of wood, or

stone, or metal, made by their own hands, or those spiritual idolaters

whose hearts are swayed by some lust or passion, OR ANY OTHER

OBJECT RATHER THAN GOD.  Any earthly object that engrosses our

affections, or usurps that place in our heart WHICH BELONGS TO

GOD ALONE  is our god for the time being — our idol, and that which

commands our homage or adoration. And surely, as we set up any such

object of spiritual idolatry in our heart and elevate it to the throne of our

affections, we shall come to grief; we shall be disappointed in it while we

possess it, or disappointed of it when we lose it.  Bitterly shall we be made

to feel and to mourn its loss; nor is this to be wondered at or complained of,

for God is a jealous God, and will not give His glory to another (Isaiah 42:8).

Matthew Henry has well observed that “whatever men make a god of, they

will mourn for the loss of; and inordinate sorrow for the loss of any worldly

good is a sign we made an idol of it.” The idol-priests who derived their

emolument and livelihood from idolatry were plunged in still greater mourning

than the people for whom they ministered (Compare Acts 19:24-28).  The

wages of sin do not last long, and do not satisfy the short time they do last.

(God has designed our hearts to where nothing will suffice EXCEPT HIM! –

CY – 2012)  Thus it was with the priests when the source of their gain

and the object of their glow departed.



ISRAEL’S SIN. The shame was twofold; shame to see their idol thrown

down and defaced, and yet more to see it, or at least the gold that adorned it,

carried away in triumph as a present or peace offering to King Jareb. There

was yet deeper cause of shame. It was not only that they gloried in their god

of gold, and confided in it for protection, but that their policy was completely

frustrated. The political sagacity on which, no doubt, they piqued themselves,

as certain to keep Israel separate from Judah by detaching the former from

the latter in worshipping at the national sanctuary in Jerusalem, resulted in

Israel’s ruin.  No wonder that Ephraim, the tribe with which this separation

originated, received shame; while the remaining tribes of Israel, that

with such FACILE COMPLIANCE ACQUIESCED in their counsel

 and followed their example, were PUT TO SHAME!   Thus the wise are

often caught in their own craftiness.


“The sinners’ hands do make the snares

Wherewith themselves are caught.”


·         SUFFERING IS ANOTHER RESULT OF SIN. Creature-confidences

fail to succor; without Divine help and blessing, sovereign and subject are

alike powerless and resource-less. The king, on the appointment of whom

the people had so set their heart at first, and on whose power all along they

continued to place such confidence, was too weak to help; and in utter

impotence was himself cut off — cut off ignominiously as foam on the face

of the water, or chip carried headlong by the current. The scenes of their

sin were so desolated, and left without a single worshipper, that thorns and

thistles came up upon those altars where multitudes once had worshipped.

So true it is that “if the grace of God prevail not to destroy the love of sin

in us, it is just that the providence of God should destroy the food and

fuel of sin about us.” Sinners in general suffer sooner or later shame and

contempt, disgrace and disappointment, poignant sorrow and mental

anguish. To such an extent was this the case with the hapless idolaters, that

their distress was so intolerable that, feeling life not worth living, they

preferred death to life. Times there are so sad, and suffering, both bodily

and mental, so acute, that death is more than welcome. To be swallowed in

the yawning earth, or covered by the falling hill, or whelmed in the surging

sea, was welcome to such sufferers. So with impenitent sinners in the day

of judgment (Revelation 6:16). So with the Jews in their distressful

circumstances at the siege of Jerusalem by the Romans (Luke 23:30).

This cry for death passed into a proverb; it was the offspring of despair.




Such a summary is contained in vs. 7-8. Israel’s two chief sources of confidence were

their king and their idolatry — one civil or secular, the other ecclesiastical or sacred, both

to the rejection and neglect of the true Source of hope and help. Neither of

these is any longer available or any longer reliable. The king or head of

their civil polity is cut off like foam on the surface of a stream — a moment

there, then gone forever. The high places of Aven, that is, Beth-aven,

“house of vanity,” the name given in contemptuous reproof of idolatry to

Beth-el, once the “house of God” — these high places consecrated to

idolatry, at once the occasions of sin to Israel, and places polluted by that

people’s sin, are doomed to destruction, TOTAL DESTRUCTION!   The

altars erected thereon are destined to be heaps of ruins, so forsaken and desolate,

that where the whole burnt offering went up in smoke (hl;[O, whole burnt

offering, from hl[, to go up), the thorn and the thistle now go up (wl[y),

and bear undisputed sway. The SIN-LADEN PEOPLE who had forsaken their

own mercies and pursued their idolatrous practices on those hills and at

those altars, are in the end so overwhelmed with calamity and so

thoroughly miserable, that, as we have seen, they prefer death to life,

reckoning a life so wretched not worth living. Hence arose their cry of

desperation — a cry that may have had its origin in the local situation of

the people who uttered it. Situated on a hill as Samaria was, and

surrounded by an amphitheatre of hills still higher, the intervening valley

and narrow outlets being occupied by the enemy, those hills to which they

once looked for safety, instead of helping, now hemmed them in, and the

only help they could now afford was to fall on their devoted heads, to

screen them from wrath and deliver them from misery.



Despair (v.8)


The picture of the text is awful in the extreme. The condition of those to

whom destruction and annihilation would be a relief is appalling to

contemplate. What fearful vengeance must be overtaking those, what

indescribable forebodings must have taken possession of their nature, who

cry, “Mountains, cover us I Rocks, fall upon us!” It is the language of



·         THE CAUSES OF DESPAIR. Much must have transpired before such a

state of mind could exist. There must have been:


Ø      sin committed,

Ø      mercy rejected,

Ø      authority defied,

Ø      forbearance abused, before the soul of man could have

abandoned itself to hopelessness like this.


·         THE HORROR OF DESPAIR. This is not unnatural. It arises from

reflection upon the rebellion and INEXCUSABLE WICKEDNESS

of the past; from the declaration of conscience to the effect that GOD

HAS OBSERVED THAT REBELLION, that sinfulness, with

indignation, and from the anticipation of impending judgment. Only

such thoughts and feelings could account for the unparalleled horror

declaring itself in such invocations and imprecations as these.


·         THE CRY OF DESPAIR. The dreadful language proceeding from the

lips of the hopeless is an appeal to nature to save the sinner from nature’s

Lord. It is an appeal unreasonable and absurd, but not unnatural, as uttered

by a bewildered, terrified, and unfriended soul. Can anything give a

more awful and impressive representation of THE WRETCHEDNESS

 into which he is surely led WHO PERSERVERES IN SIN and

hardens himself against GOD, the Law and the Gospel?


·         THE PREVENTION OF DESPAIR. It may be well to see whither a

certain course leads us, if the result be to save us from the issue, by saving

us from what involves it. It is to be remembered with gratitude that hearers

of the gospel of Christ have not reached the stage now described. They

may be prisoners, but they are “prisoners of hope.” The word of the Lord

does indeed come as a word of WARNING but it comes also as a word





9 ‘O Israel, thou hast sinned from the days of Gibeah:” -  Two

explanations given of this clause — namely, that which understands, rain

comparatively, that is, “more than” — their sins were greater than those of

the Benjamites in the days of Gibeah; and that which refers the sin here

spoken of to the appointment of Saul, who was of Gibeah of Benjamin, to

be king — must be unhesitatingly rejected. The sin of the men of Gibeah

was the shameful outrage committed on the Levite’s concubine by the men

of Gibeah, which with its consequences is recorded in Judges 19. and 20.

That sin became proverbial, overtopping, as it did, all ordinary iniquities by

its shameless atrocity and heinousness. By along-continued course of sin,

even from ancient days, EPHRAIM HAS BEEN PREPARING FOR

A FEARFUL DOOM -  “there they stood: the battle in Gibeah against

the children of iniquity did not overtake them.”  This portion of the verse is

not a little perplexing, and in consequence has called forth considerable diversity

of exposition.  There is:


·         that which is implied in the Authorized Version, viz. “there they stood,

smitten twice but not destroyed, chastened but not killed, the battle in

Gibeah against the children of iniquity did not overtake them then so as

utterly to destroy them, but it shall overtake them now. Or if the verb

“overtake,” which is future, be strictly rendered, the meaning is — Not a

battle like that in Gibeah against the children of iniquity shall overtake

them, but one much more sanguinary and terrible, resulting, not in the

reduction of a single tribe to six hundred men, BUT IN



·         that of Keil and others, though not the same, is similar. It is: “There, in

Gibeah, did they remain, persevering in the sin of Gibeah, and yet the war in

Gibeah against the sinners has not overtaken them.” This makes the

meaning of the prophet to be that since the days of Gibeah the Israelites

persevered in the same or like sin as the Gibeahites; and, though the

Gibeahites were so severely punished, actually destroyed, because of their

sin, the ten tribes of Israel, persisting in the same or similar sin, have not

yet been resisted with any such exterminating war. Jehovah announces



which Keil aims at may be better brought out by rendering the latter

clause interrogatively; thus: “There they stood — persisting in the

criminality of Gibeah — shall there not overtake them, living as they do in

Gibeah, the war which exterminated the children of crime?” It is admitted

that עמר may have been the meaning of “persevering;” but:


·         a better sense is gained by Wunsche referring the subject of עמדו to the

Benjamites; the suffix of תשינם to the בני עולה, or “children of iniquity,”

that is, their guilty tribesmen in Gibeah; taking the intermediate clause

parenthetically; עמד with על to “stand in defense of;” thus: “Since the

days of Gibeah hast thou sinned, O Israel: there they (the Benjamites)

stood in defense of the children of iniquity, that the war might not reach

them in Gibeah.” This gives a satisfactory sense, and intimates that, by A


 the Ephraimites were preparing themselves for a FEARFUL FATE!

Already from days long gone by, grievous guilt cleaved to them; thus in the

days of Gibeah they (the Benjamites) stood by their iniquitous brethren that

the battle in Gibeah might not reach them. As this was before the disruption,

the Benjamites were part and parcel of Israel here represented by them.


·         Rosenmüller’s explanation is the following: “They (the Benjamites)

survived (עָמַד, opposed to אָבַד, as in Psalm 102:27) being severely

punished, though they did not entirely perish, six hundred being left to

revive the tribe.” BUT A STILL AND MORE SEVERE


changed from the second to the third, and the prophet addressing himself

to hearer or reader): not the war waged in Gibeah (or on account of the

crime committed there) against the children of iniquity shall overtake them,


word עלוה is by metathesis for עולה as זְעַוָה for זְוָעָה, commotion; כֶשָׂב 

for כֶבֶשׂ; and שַׂלְמָה, for שִׂמְלָה.


10 “It is in my desire that I should chastise them; and the people shall be

gathered against them,” -  This is better translated thus: When I desire it, then

(vav of the apodosis) shall I chastise them; and the peoples shall be gathered

against them. This expresses GOD’S DETERMINATION TO PUNISH


 It means, not only that His desire to punish them does exist, but that, this desire

being taken for granted, there shall be no let nor hindrance; NOTHING CAN

STAY HIS HAND!  Then the mode and means of chastisement are

indicated — peoples, foreign invaders, shall be gathered against them. The

verb אָסֹר; is future Qal of יסר irregularly, as if coming from נסד, the

daghesh in samech compensating for the absorbed yod“when they shall

bind themselves in their two furrows.” - margin, When I shall bind them

for their two transgressions, or, in their two habitations.


          Gesenius, Ewald, and others, abiding by the Kethir or textual reading of

the original, translate, “Jehovah will chastise them before with their eyes,”


 thus refer the word to עַיִן, eye, but עְינָותis “fountains,” not “eyes.”


The Hebrew commentators, Aben Ezra and Kimchi, explain the word in

the sense of “two furrows” as in Authorized Version; and refer them to

Judah and Ephraim. Thus Kimchi says, “The prophet compares Judah and

Ephraim to two plowing oxen. I thought they would plough well, but they

have ploughed ill, since they have bound themselves together one with the

other and have allied themselves the one with the other to do evil in the

eyes of Jehovah.” Similarly Rosenmüller: “To be bound to two furrows is

said of oxen plowing when they are bound together in a common yoke, so

that in two adjacent furrows they walk together and with equal pace.”


·         The Septuagint rendering, based on the Qeri and followed by the Syriac

and Arabic, gives a better and clearer sense than the preceding. It is,

Ἐν ταῖς δυσὶν ἀδικίαις αὐτῶν,– En tais dusin adikais aoton

to their two trangressions -  and is followed by Jerome in Super duas

iniquitates suas, as also by the most judicious expositors of ancient and

modern times. Yet there is great variety as to what those iniquities are.

Some, like Jerome, refer to the double idolatry — that of Micah and that of

Jeroboam; others, like Dathe, to the two golden calves set up at Dan and

Bethel; Cyril and Theodoret to the apostasy of Israel from Jehovah, and

devotion to idols; De Wette and Keil to the double unfaithfulness of Israel

to Jehovah and the royal house of David. The exact rendering would,

according to any of these views, be, “When I bind them to their two

transgressions,” or, “When I allow the foreigners to bind them on account

of their two transgressions;” that is to connect or yoke them to their two

transgressions by the punishment, so that they, like beasts of burden,

MUST DRAG AFTER THEM,  whatever be the view we take of



11 “And Ephraim is as an heifer that is taught, and loveth to tread out the

corn;” -  Ephraim is compared to a heifer trained. The work she was taught to

do was treading cut the corn; by training and habit it had became a second nature,

so that she took delight in it. The connecting vowel occurs seldom, and usually

with an antique coloring in prose, according to Ewald; it is poetical besides, and

used in the concourse of words somewhat closely connected, but not in the strict

construct state.  Thus is לֺאהַבֵתִּי accounted for. This work was probably easier,

at all events pleasanter, than plowing or harrowing. In treading out corn oxen were

not yoked together, but worked singly, treading it with their feet, or drawing a

threshing-sledge, or iron-armed cylinder, over it; they were not muzzled

also, so that they were free to snatch an occasional mouthful of the grain,

and frequently fattened by such indulgence. Such had been the position of

Ephraim in easy employment, comfortable circumstances like the heifer

threshing and allowed to eat at pleasure, pleasantly situated prosperous,

self-indulgent, and luxurious. The victories of Ephraim — threshing and

treading down may perhaps be also hinted at – “but I passed over upon her

fair neck (margin, the beauty of her neck): I will make Ephraim to ride;

Judak shall plow, and Jacob shall break his clods.”  TIMES HAVE

CHANGED as is here indicated A YOKE,  that of Assyria, IS PLACED


Mere onerous and less pleasant labor is now imposed. Judah too is to

share the toil, being put to the heavier work of plowing while Jacob — the

ten tribes, or the twelve including both Judah and Israel — shall cross plow;

and thus both alike shall be henceforth employed in the heaviest labors

of the field and the severest toils of agriculture. Once victorious, Ephraim

is now to be subdued; once free and intractable, it must now receive the yoke

and engage in laborious service. The expression עבר, followed by על, is

generally used in a bad sense; “to pass over,” says Jerome, “especially when

it is said of God, always signifies inflictions and troubles.” The fatness of the

neck is the ox’s ornament or beauty. That is now to be assaulted or invaded

gently it may be, and softly, as men are wont to approach a young untamed

animal in order to put the yoke upon it. This passing over, however tender,

fixes the yoke on Ephraim’s neck all the same. A more difficult word is

אדכיב, which:


·         Ewald  renders, “I will set a rider” on Ephraim, of course to subdue and tame;


·         Jerome has, “I will mount or ride,” thus representing Jehovah Himself as

the mediate rider on Ephraim. The first sense has a parallel in Psalm 56:12,

“Thou hast made men to ride over our head,” and thus ruling them

at pleasure. Unwilling to bear the easy yoke of their Divine Ruler,

they shall be subjected to THE TYRANT MASTERY OF MAN!

 (How is it with you, My Friend?  Are you at ease under the gentle touch

of the Master?  Jesus said, “Come unto me all ye that labor and are

heavy laden and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and

learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart:  and ye shall find

rest unto your souls.  FOR MY YOKE IS EASY AND MY BURDEN

IS LIGHT!”  - Matthew 11:28-30 – Or are you galling under the yoke

of a world gone amok?  Jesus also said, “In the world ye will have

tribulation:  but be of good cheer; I HAVE OVERCOME THE

WORLD!”  - John 16:33 – CY – 2012)


  • But Keil says the word here is “not” to mount or ride, ‘but’ to drive or use

for drawing and driving,’ i.e. to harness,” as to the plough and harrow.

This meaning is best reached by understanding the words thus: “I will make

the yoke to ride on Ephraim’s neck;” as הרכב is used in II Kings 13:16,

for “put thine hand upon the bow,” margin, “make thine hand to ride upon the

 bow.” The remaining clauses of the verse is a further development of this

expression, but extending to Judah; and thus including both Judah and Ephraim,

or Jacob — both kingdoms. The Septuagint version of the last clause is peculiar;

it is Παρασιωπήσομαι Ἰούδαν ἐνισχύσει αὐτῷ Ἰακώβ Parasiopaesomai

Ioudan henischusei auto Iakob  That is, as explained by Jerome, “I shall leave

Judah for the present and say nothing about him; but whoever, whether of

Ephraim or Judah, shall observe my precepts, he shall acquire strength for himself

and be called Jacob.”


12 “Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy;” -  These next  two verses

contain a call to repentance and reformation of life, in figurative language borrowed

from the same department of human industry, לצדי is “for righteousness;” that is, sow

such seed as that righteousness may spring from it. לפי הי  is “according to,” or “in

proportion to, mercy.” When two imperatives are joined, is here, the latter indicates a

promise, and may be expressed by a future, as, “Do this and live,” i.e. “ye shall live”

(Genesis 42:18). Kimchi explains it correctly, thus: “Sow to yourselves, etc., that is,

do good in mine eyes, and the recompense from me shall be far greater than

 your good deeds, just as if one sows a measure (seah), and hopes to reap therefore

two measures (seahs) or still more. Therefore, he uses in sowing righteousness, and in

connection with reaping grace, in order to intimate that grace surpasses righteousness.

Or that God rewards men’s actions, not according to merit, but according to grace.

As men sow, they reap (Galatians 6:6-9); accordingly Israel is directed to sow

according to righteousness — to act righteously in their dealings with their

 fellow-men;  and their reaping or reward would be, not in proportion to

what they had sown, not  merely commensurate with their righteous actions

or dealings, not proportionate to  what justice would give; BUT IN

PROPORTION TO MERCY – DIVINE MERCY,  and so far above their

highest deserts. They are promised a reward far above their poor doings, and

irrespective of their sad failings — a reward, not of debt, not of merit, but

OF GRACE!  . The seed-time of righteousness would be followed by a time


DIVINE MERCY!   - “break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek

the Lord, till He come and rain righteousness upon you.”  Here they are

urged to turn over a new leaf, as we say; to begin a new life; to root out the weeds

of sin; to eradicate those evil passions that checked and stifled any noble feelings, as

the husbandman runs his plough through the fallow field, and breaks it up,

clearing out the weeds and roots, that the ground may be pure and clean

for the sowing of the seed in spring. They are further reminded that it is high time to

begin this process, laying aside their stiff-necked, perverse ways; expelling

from their heart the noxious growth that had overspread it; and by every

way and means working earnestly and zealously for a renewal of life and

return to the long-neglected work and worship of Jehovah. Neither were

they to relax their efforts till the blessed end was attained, עד, , with

imperfect, marking the goal to be reached; nor would their efforts be in

vain. The Lord would rain — bestow abundantly upon them, or touch

(another and more frequent meaning of the word), their righteousness.

Thus the ground that had long lain fallow must be broken up; its waste,

wild state must cease and give place to cultivation; the ploughshare must

be driven through it; its wild growths and weeds must be cut down and

uprooted. A process of renewal must succeed; the vices of their natural

state, the idolatrous and wicked practices that had sprung up, must be

abandoned. Renewal and radical reform are imperatively demanded.

Matters had remained too long in a miserable and unsatisfactory condition.

A long night of sinful slumber had overcome them; it was high time to

awake out of that sleep (Romans 13:11-14). Too long had they shamefully

forgotten and forsaken God; it was more than time to wait upon Him. Nor

would such waiting, if persevered in, end in disappointment; notwithstanding their

great and manifold provocations, He would come and rain righteousness in

welcome, refreshing, and plenteous showers UPON RETURNING

PENITENTS  and with righteousness would be conjoined its reward

of blessing and salvation, both temporal and spiritual.



A Checkered Picture (vs. 9-12)


These verses exhibit the continuance in sin and its consequences, chastisement and its

lessons, change of circumstances and its bitter experiences, the call to repentance and

the blessed promises to the penitent.


  • CONTINUANCE IN SIN. Israel had corrupted themselves as in the

days of Gibeah (ch. 9:9), and, as we are told in v.9, had sinned from the

days of Gibeah.


Ø      Grievous as their sin had been at first, it was greatly aggravated by

being long continued. Age after age sin had run its course; one

generation after another had helped to fill up the cup of iniquity until

it had become brimful, successive generations thus corrupting

themselves, each outstripping that which preceded in iniquity:

“What is there wasting time does not impair? The age of our parents,

worse than our grandsires, has borne us yet more wicked, who in

our turn are destined to beget a progeny more sinful still.”

(I once was sympathetic to the teen agers mentioned in II Kings

2:23-25 until I realized they were an extension of previous sinful

generations – CY – 2012)


Ø      This continuance in sin shall be attended by dreadful consequences

some day. This is a legitimate inference, whatever view we take of this

difficult ninth verse. Whether the meaning be that the Israelites stood

their ground, and did not perish though twice defeated by the men of

Benjamin, and that with a loss of forty thousand slain; and that, though

spared, their destruction as dreadful as deserved shall overtake them

now, and that without any possibility of escape, and when it does come

it shall be found all the more dreadful from having been delayed in its

course; or whether the sense is that Israel, as if forsaken of God and

alienated from His favor (possibly implied by the change from the

second to the third person), have stood, that is, persisted in their sin

as there and then so ever since; shall not the battle overtake such

incorrigible offenders; persevering so long in sin like the men of

Gibeah, can they expect to escape the war that of old did all

but exterminate the transgressors? Or whether the sense be that the

Benjamites, then an integral part of Israel, stood by the Gibeahites,

defending, and so virtually abetting them in their iniquity, that the battle in

Gibeah might not overtake those vile delinquents, and that Israel,

resembling the Benjamites in spirit, have sinned ever since, aiding,

abetting, and taking part in similar or greater atrocities and abominations.

They are then left to infer that a day of reckoning still more terrible was

to be expected by them.


  • CHASTISEMENT AND ITS LESSONS. In the case of Israel, they

were not left merely to infer the approach of chastisement, they were

positively assured of it.


Ø      Men are forewarned that they may be forearmed. God had exercised

much long-suffering and forbearance, but His goodness failed to lead

them to repentance. They had abused His patience, and now His purpose

is to chastise; but even in chastising them He is exercising mercy in order

to prevent final and inevitable ruin. He had rejoiced over them to do them

good; He now takes pleasure in correcting them — it is His desire. The

nature of the chastisement with which Israel is to be visited closely

resembles that which had been inflicted on the Benjamites.  (Judges



Ø      The reference to that transaction may have suggested to the prophet his

description of the coming chastisement. The tribes of Israel banded

themselves against Benjamin in the battle of Gibeah; so the peoples, the

Assyrians and their allies, would be gathered against Israel. Kimchi has

well expressed the cause of the chastisement by representing God as

saying, “According to my good will and pleasure will I chastise them;

because they do not receive chastisement from me by my prophets who

rebuke them in my Name, I will chastise them by the hands of the

peoples which shall be gathered against them.”


Ø      When men refuse to be God’s freemen, and prefer continuing to be

servants of sin, they are preparing themselves to be the bondmen of

their enemies. The allusion in the last clause of v:10 is obscure, and yet

the general sense is tolerably plain. Much depends on the one word

variously rendered “eyes,” “furrows,” “habitations,” or “sins.” The figure

may be taken from two oxen abreast in a yoke, plowing together side

by side in two adjacent furrows; and it may indicate the combination

of the Israelites to ward off the threatened danger, but to no purpose,

since Jehovah had decreed their chastisement, and, in case it failed,

their destruction; or the two divisions of Israel and Judah, and their

 respective places of habitation; or the two places of idolatrous worship,

Dan and Bethel; or their two cohabitations with God and idols; or their

two transgressions, which appears the preferable sense. Whichever of

these we adopt, the idea of binding, that is, of thraldom or captivity,

remains the same.


Ø      There are two kinds of service and two claimants for the soul of man:


o       the service of sin, and the wages of that service is death;

o       the service of God, and the fruit of that service is unto holiness,

and the end everlasting life.


Satan claims us, but he is a usurper; besides, he is the worst of all

masters — keeping his servants in bondage, working them to

death, and at last paying them with damnation. God claims us.

His claim is just; He is the rightful Proprietor; He made us, and not

we ourselves. His claim is, in fact, threefold — creation, preservation,

and redemption. We cannot serve two masters; we cannot obey both;

and we may not attempt the unholy compromise made by the peoples

brought from the regions of Assyria and planted in the lands of the

dispossessed Israelites, who worshipped the Lord and served their

own gods (II Kings 17:33).  To be the slaves of Satan or the freemen

 of Jehovah, that is the question; the bondage of sin or the freedom

of righteousness is the alternative. There must be decision in the

matter. Let our determination be like Joshua’s, that whatever others

do, we will serve the Lord.  “Choose you this day whom ye will

serve, but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!”

(Joshua 24:15)



When Israel had, by idolatry and other sins, bound themselves for slavery,

like oxen laboring in the yoke up and down the furrows of the field, the

change came. Ephraim had been treated gently and trained indulgently;

their yoke had been an easy one, and their burden a light one; but they did

not value their privileges, nor know the day of their merciful visitation.

They had been in easy circumstances; the lines had fallen to them in

pleasant places (Psalm 16:6), they had long enjoyed privileges and

advantages of no ordinary kind. But times are now changed, and that change,

the bitter fruit of their own doings, was sad as it was sudden. A yoke is now

put on the neck, a rider on the back, and drudgery becomes the lot of the

once fair and delicate heifer. Subjection and slavery to foreigners, with

hardships great and many, and such as they had never experienced before,

now awaited Ephraim; while Judah too would come in for share of the

punishment, as they had had part in the sin; and thus at last Jacob, that is,

both kingdoms, the northern and the southern, having thrown off the yoke

of Jehovah, fall each in turn under the galling yoke of Assyrian and

Chaldean conqueror. Let men beware of exchanging the pleasant

service of the Savior for the painful drudgery of Satan!



The severity of the foregoing threatenings is alleviated by the present call

to reformation and repentance, with the accompanying promises.


Ø      A seed-time of righteousness must precede a reaping-time of mercy.

The figures are still borrowed from husbandry; and thus every action is

represented as seed sown, and every good work is seed sown in

righteousness. The rule of righteousness is the Law of God, and the

directions of that rule include our duty both to God and man. To sow in

righteousness, therefore, is to discharge the duties of righteousness,

comprehending piety towards God, justice and charity towards man,

together with propriety of personal conduct.


Ø      The seed sown shall come up one day. If we sow tares, they will come

up; if we sow wheat, it will come up. The seed of righteousness is called

by the psalmist precious seed (Psalm 126:6). It is not in the power of

man to cause a single seed to germinate and spring up (Mark 4:27); but

God in His justice will bring up the bad seed for punishment, and in His

mercy the good seed for reward.


Ø      There is a correspondence between the seed-time and the harvest. If

Men sow to the flesh, they shall reap corruption; if to the Spirit, they

shall reap life everlasting (Galatians 6:6-8). As we sow we reap, and

what we sow we reap. Our reaping shall be according to the measure

of God’s mercy. Not a reward of merit, but of mercy; not a recompense

of desert, but of grace. Men often sow in tears, but if the seed be that

of righteousness, and the sowing after the right method and with the

right motive, they shall reap in joy. “Blessed,” says the saintly Burroughs,

“are those who have sown much for God in their lifetime! Oh, the glorious

harvest that these shall have! The very angels shall help them to take in

their harvest at the great day; and they need not take thought for barns —

the very heavens shall be their barns. And oh, the joy that there shall be

in that harvest! The angels will help to sing the harvest-song that they

shall sing who have been sowers in righteousness.”


Ø      Reformation is the effect and evidence of repentance. If reformation be

genuine, repentance must go before; a change of life that is real and

permanent must be preceded by a change of heart. Thus, in order

to sow in righteousness, the fallow ground must be broken up. If the

seed is to take root in the soil, grow up and yield an abundant increase

at the time of harvest, the soil must be carefully prepared. The plowing,

though mentioned after the sowing, must precede it, otherwise the seed

of truth will be lost or choked by the weeds of sin. Dropping the figure,

or realizing the fact set forth by it, we must break up the fallow ground

of the heart. The weeds and thorns and thistles that overspread it in its

natural state must be rooted out; the evil passions, corrupt affections,

and hateful lusts must be eradicated; the heart itself must be broken

and contrite on account of sin; the spirit must be subdued by a sense

of sin; shame and sorrow must penetrate the soul because of sin; like

land long untilled, and so hard and difficult to plough, the hard heart

must be broken with contrition and softened, and the stubborn

will subdued. Thus, too, the field that had lain fallow after a first

plowing must be broken up anew and made to shine (as the original

word, from נוּר, according to Gesenius and Ewald, signifies),

and prepared for future and abundant fruitfulness.


Ø      The exhortation is enforced by two arguments — the past loss of time,

and prospective spiritual prosperity.


o       Much time had been misspent (I recommend The Preciousness

of Time by Jonathan Edwards - # 7 – this web site – CY – 2012)

the duty of seeking God had been sadly and sinfully neglected.

The language of the prophet here is expanded and enforced by

the apostle, when he says, “The time past of our life may

suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when

we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revelings,

banquetings, and abominable idolatries” (I Peter 4:3). We

are now called to redeem the time (Ephesians 5:16).  It is

our duty at all times to seek the Lord, but especially so after

such tong delay on our part, and such forbearance and long-

suffering on God’s part. And yet there is time. It is of His mercy

that we are still allowed opportunity to repent and return to Him.

Even now is the accepted time; but soon it may be too late. Let us,

then, seek the Lord while He may be found, and call

upon Him while he is near  (Isaiah 55:6), before He withdraws

Himself, and swears in His wrath that we shall not enter into His

rest.  (Hebrews 3:11)


o       Another source of encouragement is here presented. If we seek

Him He shall be found of us, according to the promise, “Seek,

and ye shall find”  (Matthew 7:7).  Thus encouraged, let us

seek Him presently, patiently, and perseveringly until He

 comes, as He will be sure to do, and rain righteousness upon us.

In the fullness of time the Savior came, who is “THE LORD

OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS”(Jeremiah 23:6); He came as

“a Light to lighten the Gentiles, and the Glory of His

People Israel(Luke 2:32).  He will come to the individual

soul, Gentile or Jew, that seeks Him, and when He comes



o       Righteousness, like the rain, descends from above; for

“every good gift and every perfect gift cometh down from

above, even from the Father of lights, with whom there is

no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17).

He will bestow it in great abundance, for He will rain it upon us;

sending down, not merely a few drops, but a plentiful rain and

copious showers. The righteousness so abundantly vouchsafed

includes His righteous fulfillment of His promises; the righteousness,

moreover, that is witnessed both by the Law and the prophets —

 righteousness reckoned to us for justification, and righteousness

wrought in us for sanctification. The effect of this righteousness

is blessed and beneficent. “And the work of righteousness

shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness QUIETNESS

and ASSURANCE FOR EVER”  (Isaiah 32:17).  As the

 natural seeds sown in the soil of the earth which has been

ploughed and prepared for them require, besides, the rain of

heaven to make them bud and bring forth the blade, the

ear and the full corn in the ear (Mark 4:28); so the spiritual

seeds that men sow in righteousness require the rain of

righteousness and the rich blessing of heaven to fructify and



13 “Ye have ploughed wickedness, ye have reaped iniquity; ye

have eaten the fruit of lies:”  Hitherto their course had been the very

opposite of that which they are now exhorted to enter on. Hitherto their

work had been wickedness, and their wages, as might be expected, THE

FRUIT OF INIQUITY.  (“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift

of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” – Romans 6:23)

What they had wrought for they reaped. Their plowing had been sin, their

sowing wickedness, and their harvest sorrow. Wickedness

against God and man was what they both ploughed and sowed; oppression

at the hand of their enemies was the harvest or reward of iniquity which

they reaped. Their lies, including their idolatry in reference to God,

disloyalty to their king, their false words and false works with one another,

bore fruit, bitter fruit, sour fruit, and they were obliged to eat that fruit till

their teeth were set on edge. Thus Kimchi explains it: “After the plowing

follows the sowing, and both of them are a figurative representation of

work, as we have explained it. The prophet says, ‘Ye have done the

opposite of that which I commanded you, when I said, Sow to yourselves

in righteousness.’” The harvest is the reward of the work done; the genitive

is expressive of contents — that in which the fruit consists; the fruit of lies

against God is the fruit which disappoints those who wait for it.  Ki directs

attention to the ground of ISRAEL’S GRADUAL DECLENSION AND

FINAL DESTRUCTION; the two fundamental errors, or rather evils, that

led on to Israel’s ruin, were APOSTASY FROM JEHOVAH and sinful

self-confidence. Sunk in idolatry, they no longer looked TO JEHOVAH

AS THE SOURCE of their power and strength, while they pursued their

own ways, confident of the excellence of their own sagacity and foresight –

“because thou didst trust in thy way, in the multitude of thy mighty men.”

They had placed their confidence in the wisdom of their own ways — their

prudent plans and wise counsels; in the heroism of their soldiers and the excellence

of their preparations of war. By these means they fancied themselves independent

of the Almighty, and sufficiently defended against their enemies. “Thou hast trusted,”

says Kimchi, in his exposition, “to thine own way which thou goest; and that is

the way of iniquity and of confidence in evil; and in like manner thou hast

trusted in the multitude of thy men of war which thou hast had among thine

own people, or among the Egyptians, from whom they sought help, and

thou hast made flesh thine arm, and NOT TRUSTED IN ME  therefore

thou hast stumbled.”


14 “Therefore shall a tumult arise among thy people, and all

thy fortresses shall be spoiled,” - This was the fruit of their doings, the

result of their sins. The tumult of war is already heard, and the work of

destruction has begun. The word shaon, tumult, is from ha;v;, as applied to

the loud rushing of waters, then the tumult of advancing warriors. The

preposition be is rendered as above by the Authorized Version, Umbreit, and

others; and, joined with “peoples” (which is plural), signifies that the confused noise

of war would be heard among their own peoples, or the multitude of the mighty

ones in whom they had had such confidence; or the plural may refer to the

tribes of Israel, each of which was an μ[, though Keil would confine this

meaning to Pentateuchal times. Host of the versions read the singular, like

our own Authorized Version, yet it must still be referred to the people of

Israel. But the preposition is translated “against” by many modern interpreters, and

thus the confused noise of the advance of the enemy against Israel is

denoted. The attack of the invaders is directed against the fortresses, or

fenced cities, so called from a verb denoting “to cut off” (dxb), as if all

approach to them were cut off, and assault impossible. Nevertheless they

were to go down, all of them, before the enemy — laid waste and spoiled;

while inhuman cruelty would characterize the conquerors. As an

illustration of or specimen resembling that cruelty, an obscure piece of

history is quoted  - “as  Shal-man spoiled Beth-arbel in the day of battle:

the mother was dashed in pieces upon her children.”  In the great variety

of opinion with respect to the event referred to, and the consequent

diversity of exposition, we shall not venture to do more than select that

which on the whole, notwithstanding a certain chronological difficulty that

lies against it, appears the most probable. Accordingly, Beth-arbel may

have been Arbela, mentioned in I Maccabees 9:2 and more than once by

Josephus, in Upper Galilee, in the tribe of Naphtali, between Sephoris and

Tiberias, now Irbid; and Shalman may be an abbreviation for Shalmaneser;

while the circumstance here mentioned may have been an incident

of the campaign of which we read in II  Kings 17:3, 5. “Against him

came up Shalmaneser King of Assyria; and Hoshea became his servant....

Then the King of Assyria came up throughout all the land, and went up to

Samaria, and besieged it three years.” The manifestation of the cruelty was

when the mother, with true motherly affection, bent over her children to

defend them, and she and they perished in a common ruin, or when the

children were dashed to the ground before their mother’s eyes, and she,

done to death, hurled upon them.


15 “So shall Bethel do unto you because of your great wickedness

(margin, the evil of your evil): in a morning shall the King of Israel

utterly be cut off.”  Their coming sufferings were all TRACEABLE

TO THEIR SIN.  Bethel, the principal place of calf-worship, was the cause

of their coming calamities, not the place itself, but the wickedness of which it was

the scene. The real cause was the great and crowning WICKEDNESS

PRACTICED THERE!   Bethel, once the house of God, would in consequence

Become another Beth-arbel, the house of the ambush of God. In the morning,

when perhaps a season of prosperity seemed beginning to dawn, or at an early

and speedy manner, quickly as the morning dawn gives place before the rising sun,

the king, Hoshea, or perhaps no particular king, but merely the representative of the

royal office, would be cut off-entirely cut off. Thus their main refuge would come to

an ignominious end, bringing along with it the frustration of all their hopes and the

conclusion of their mistaken and misplaced confidences.



The Prolific Fruits of Evil (vs. 13-15)


The Israelites are not only charged with neglect of duty, but with sins of commission.

The concluding verses of the chapter point out this contrariety of their conduct to the

foregoing exhortation, and its consequences; trace the source of their sinful courses

to their carnal confidences; and foretell the coming calamities caused thereby.





Ø      They had been not only neglectful of duty, indifferent and careless

about spiritual concerns, and self-satisfied with their sinful course,

but had taken much pains in pursuing a course the opposite of what

duty demanded.  They had not only lived in sin, enjoying its so-called

pleasures, but had labored in the practice of it, serving Satan and doing

his drudgery. Thus they ploughed wickedness. Not content with the

spontaneous growth thereof, which is sufficiently abundant in every

natural heart, they actually cultivated it, sparing no pains and

grudging no diligence in its culture. Thus they ploughed and sowed

laboriously; but it was tares, not wheat or good grain they spent

their labor on.


Ø      As they ploughed and sowed, so they reaped; the crop in harvest-time

corresponded with the seed which they had sown, and for which they

had made such careful preparation. The harvest was abundant, the

increase thirty, or sixty, or a hundredfold. The quantity was large, but

the quality was bad. “In all labor there is profit,” said a minister to a

man at work. “There is one exception,” was the reply; “for years I labored

in the service of Satan, and of that labor I can truly say, ‘What fruit had

ye in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those

 things is death.’” (Romans 6:21)


Ø      The fruit of lies, like lies themselves, is deceptive; such fruit resembles

the fabled apples on the shore of the Dead Sea — attractive in

appearance, but ashes in the mouth. The pleasures of the wicked do

not satisfy; their gains don’t profit in the end; all sinful works are

unfruitful works. Thus it was with Israel’s hypocrisy, idolatry, and other




ISRAEL’S SINS. They are also a common source of sin still. The people

of Israel trusted in their ways of political wisdom, and the power and

prowess of their mighty men. Their statecraft, their calf-worship, their

military preparations, were their confidences. The fountainhead of their

offending, the source whence such bitter waters flowed, and flowed so

copiously, was the confidence they reposed in refuges of lies — their way

inclusive of their wicked calf-worship, their tortuous worldly policy, and

their forbidden foreign alliances with the heathen. Such was their internal

safeguard, while the multitude of their mighty men was their external

defense. All these confidences failed them. EVERY PROMISE THAT

SIN MAKES TO THE SINNER IS A LIE:  the fruit of sin, like sin

 itself, is fallacious and deceptive.





Ø      Their cities were sacked, their fortresses dismantled, their citizens and

countrymen butchered, and unheard-of cruelties perpetrated.


Ø      Here we see how the worldly wise are taken in their own craftiness,

and how sin finds the sinner out. The consequence of all was not a time

of peace, but the tumult of war extending to the whole people in their

tribal divisions, and probably to their neighbors, with whom they were

in alliance; while the issue of the war was defeat and disaster — their

defenses were destroyed, their strongholds rifled, the triumph of the

enemy complete, and their cruelty unchecked.





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