Hosea 12



In vs.1-6 God continues His complaint against Ephraim, charging them

specially with the pursuit of vain and futile courses to their great detriment.

Instead of repairing to the true and everlasting source of safety and

salvation, they had recourse to foreign alliances to support and strengthen


 And yet the only staying power was JEHOVAH! . The controversy now

embraces Judah also; and thus Jacob — both Israel and Judah — is threatened

with such punishment as their doings deserved. The mention of their great ancestor

Jacob naturally suggests a contrast; while his conduct is proposed to them for an

example.  They are accordingly invited to follow in his footsteps, imitate the piety

and wisdom of his course, and so entertain good hope of similar success from




1 Ephraim feedeth on wind, and followeth after the east wind:” - “Wind”

is employed figuratively to denote what is empty and vain, of no real worth or

practical benefit.


  • To feed on wind is to take pleasure in or draw sustenance from what can

really afford neither; while following after the east wind is


Ø      to pursue vain hopes and ideals which are unattainable. According

to this view, the prominent idea of the east wind is its fleetness,

which passed into a proverb; thus Horace says, “Agents nimbos

Oeior Euro.” To outrun the swift and stormy east wind would

represent an undertaking at once impracticable and hopeless.


Ø      But it is rather the blasting influence of the east wind that is

referred to, so that it is a figurative representation, not so much of

what is vain and hopeless, as of what is pernicious and destructive.

Thus their course was not only idle, but INJUROUS;  not only

 delusive, but DESTRUCTIVE;  not only fruitless, but FATAL!

 Their career, which is thus represented, included their idolatry and

foreign alliances Kimchi explains this clause as follows: “In his

service of the calves he is like him who opens his mouth to the wind and

feeds on it, though he cannot support life thereby.” -“and followeth after

 the east wind; he repeats the sense in different words, and mentions

the east wind because it is the strongest and most injurious of winds to

the sons of men. So with them: it is not enough that the idolatry of the

calves does not profit them, but it actually injures them.”


·         The Septuagint rendering is δὲ Ἐφραὶμ πονηρὸν πνεῦμα ἐδίωξε καυδώνα– Ho de Ephraim ponaeron pneuma edioxe -

equivalent to  But Ephraim is an evil spirit; he has chased the east

wind” -  “he daily  (rather, all the day) increaseth lies and desolation;”


Ø      Some understood these words as descriptive of Ephraim’s attitude

towards Jehovah; and thus what is figuratively set forth in the first

clause is here represented literally. Thus Kimchi says, “He does not

turn back from his wickedness, but all the days he multiplies lying

which is the worship of the calves, and so increases the

desolation and destruction that shall come as a punishment for their

service. And with all this he does not perceive nor return from the

worship of the calves to the worship of the blessed God.”


Ø      But we prefer understanding the second clause of Ephraim’s conduct

towards his neighbor or fellow-man. Thus, Hitzig, who shows that שֹׁד        cannot refer to their conduct towards Jehovah, nor could their lies and

desolation continue the whole day if referred to His service. חָמָס וָשׁד,

violence and robbery,” or “spoil,” are also jointed in a similar manner

In Amos 3:10 and Jeremiah 6:7, to characterize men’s conduct

towards their neighbors. In the passage before us, if we refer the words,

“lies and desolation,” as we think they ought to be referred, to

Ephraim’s conduct towards men, the ריב and שד  may be distinguished

thus: the former designates low lying and fraudulent dealing; while the

 latter expresses that brutal violence by which dishonest men

unscrupulously take possession of their neighbors’ property.


“and they do make a covenant with the Assyrians, and oil is carried into Egypt.”

This fondness for foreign alliances is specified as a positive proof of their apostasy from,

and want of confidence in, Jehovah. This is well explained by Kimchi in the following

comment: “But what doeth Ephraim? When oppression of the enemy comes upon him,

they make a covenant with Assyria for their assistance, and likewise with Egypt

one time with this, another time with that.” The expression כרת ברית,, “to cut a

covenant,” has its parallel in the Greek ὀρκία τεμνεῖν  – orkia temnein - and Latin

foedus fetire, as also in the Arabic, doubtless from the circumstance of slaying the

victims in its ratification.  The conduct here censured is Ephraim’s faithlessness to the

then static covenant rather than their treacherous maneuvering in “playing off” Egypt

against Assyria, and Assyria against Egypt alternately. The land of Israel

abounded in oil-olive and honey, as we read in Deuteronomy 8:8 and

elsewhere. The object of sending it to Egypt was as a present to the

Egyptians to secure their interest and help against Assyria. It is thus

properly explained both by Rashi and Kimchi. The former says, “And their

oil they bring to Egypt to give it to them as a present that they may help

them;” the latter likewise, “They bring their oil to the Egyptians for a

present, for oil came to Egypt and to other lands out of the land of Israel.

The land of Israel was rich in olive oil.”



Worthless Soul-Food (v.1)


“Ephraim feedeth on wind.” Delitzsch renders this clause, “Ephraim

grazeth wind.” The idea is that it sought for support and satisfaction in

those things that were utterly unsubstantial and worthless — “wind.:


  • SENSUAL INDULGENCES are worthless soul-food. Men seek

happiness in the gratification of their senses, in the free indulgence

of their appetites: but all this is nothing but “wind;” it leaves the

soul more hungry than ever. Souls die with hunger in the pampered

body of the gourmand and voluptuary. “Man cannot live by bread

alone!”  (Matthew 4:4)


  • WORLDLY DISTINCTIONS are worthless soul-food. Thousands

seek food for their souls in worldly titles, honor, and fame. But these

are “wind.” The souls of our grandees are perishing with hunger. Walk

Rotten Row in the height of the season, and in the countenances of

hundreds of those rolling in the stream of dazzling chariots you see

moral hunger depicted. What are they doing? They are grazing wind.


  • RELIGIOUS FORMALITIES are worthless soul-food. Millions go

through religious formalities in search of spirit-food. They crowd

temples, synagogues, cathedrals, churches, chapels, rigorously

attend to the mere ceremonies of religion, and return from their

devotions with HUNGRY and UNFED SOULS!  At the altars

they have been grazing wind. “Wherefore do ye spend money for

 that which is not bread? and your labor for that which

satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which

 is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.”  (Isaiah 55:2)


2 “The Lord hath also a controversy with Judah; and will

punish (margin, visit upon) Jacob according to his ways;” -  God here

presents Himself at once as plaintiff and judge, widening the range of His

pleadings. The controversy with Israel takes a wider sweep, and

comprehends Judah culpable, though apparently in a less degree. But

though Judah comes in for a share of punishment, that punishment shall be

proportionate to their delinquencies — those like Judah that sinned less

shall suffer less; while the more heinous transgressors, such as Israel had

proved to be, would come in for severer punishment. To Jacob, here

embracing the ten tribes of Israel and the two of Judah, the chastisement

would be meted out in exact accordance with his ways. The apparent

contradiction between v.12 of last chapter, where, as most translate it,

Judah is represented as ruling with God and being faithful with the saints,

and the present inclusion of Judah in controversy with Jehovah, occasioned

a rendering and explanation of this verse which Aben Ezra declares to

be both ungrammatical and unscriptural. “He” says Aben Ezra.” who

explains that Judah is faithful and he shall be reproving, and asserts that

Scripture makes no mention of Jehovah having a controversy against

Judah, but [employs] עם the sense being that Jehovah and Judah have a

strife against Ephraim, errs from the way of Scripture and grammar, for the

prophet has written above (ch. 5:13), ‘Judah saw his wound;’ ‘I will make

Ephraim to ride; Judah shall plough’ (ch. 10:11); and in reference to both of

them He says,’ Ye shall eat the fruit of lies’ (Ibid. v.13).  He also forgets

‘The herdmen of Gerar did strive with (עם) Isaac’s herdmen’ (Genesis 26:20);

‘And the people strove with Moses’ (Numbers 26:9); and many other places

[i.e. where עם is found with the sense of ‘contending’]. Therefore He joins

Ephraim with Judah, and says, ‘The Lord hath also a controversy with Judah,

and will punish Jacob according to his ways, because this name (i.e. Jacob)

comprehends them both (Ephraim and Judah).” 


The meaning is given concisely and correctly by Rashi thus: “He

(Jehovah) announces to them the words of His controversy which their

brethren of the house of Israel had caused Him; and they should not wonder

if He would punish (literally, ‘visit on’) Jacob according to his ways.” The

change in the case of Judah, Kimchi accounts for by reference to their

subsequent apostasy, especially that of their kings, as follows: “Although

He said, ‘And Judah yet reigneth with God’ (ch. 11:12); He meant, although

he holds fast by the service of God in the house of the sanctuary; so afterwards

they practiced evil deeds as their kings were evil; therefore he said,’ Jehovah has

a controversy and correction with Judah and Jacob to visit upon them

according to their doings, as their kings were evil, for they did not

remember my mercy with them and with their father Jacob, because the

whole was for sake of his posterity; and I showed him a sign which should

be to his seed after him, if they gave their heart to me.... And the sign

which I showed them is only done for sake of his seed. But they have not

acknowledged this, for if they had acknowledged this, they would have

cleaved to me and my service, and I would have ratified to them the

blessing of Jacob their father.’” The infinitive with le is not infrequently

employed in the sense of our future, thus, לפקד, it is to be visited,

equivalent to “He shall or must visit upon it’ This idiom is common in

Syriac, but always with atid -  “according to his doings will He recompense

him.”  The milder expression is applied to Judah — He has a controversy

with him, but will punish Jacob, restricted by some to Ephraim or the ten

tribes. Better understand Jacob of both Judah and Israel, who are BOTH TO

BE RECOMPENSED, each according to his works.


3 “He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his

strength he had power (margin, was a prince, or, behaved himself

princely) with God.”  In this verse and the following the prophet looks away

back into the far-distant past; and this retrospect, which is suggested by the

names Jacob and Israel, reminds him of two well-known events in the life

of the patriarch (Genesis 25:26; 32:28).  The meaning and intention of this

reminiscence are differently interpreted. The two leading views are the following:


  • Some are of opinion that the prophet means to give an example by way

of warning, and to mention a trait of Jacob’s overreaching cunning, and

likewise of his violence, and thereby show that Jacob had incurred guilt

in a manner resembling that of THE THEN PRESENT GENERATION,

 that is to say, his conduct had been like to theirs in deceit, lying, and violence.


  • But  according to others, and we agree with them, the object of the prophet

in these verses is to admonish them to imitate the conduct of their

progenitor, and to remind them of the distinction which he had obtained

thereby, as an encourage-merit to them to go and do likewise.


  • Another interpretation, somewhat similar, is that of those who

admit that Jacob’s laying hold of his brother’s heel in the womb is

proposed to his posterity by the prophet for the purpose of emulation and

encouragement, at the same time to exhibit God’s electing grace from

eternity. Thus Jerome: “While he was yet in the womb of Rebekah, he laid

hold of his brother’s heel, not by his own strength, it is true, who was

incapable of perception, but by the mercy of God, who knows and loves

those whom He has predestinated.” So also Rashi: “All this I have done to

him; he took his brother by the heel for a sign that he would prevail over

him.” Calvin explains more fully thus: “Their ingratitude is showed in this,

that they did not acknowledge that they had been anticipated, in the

 person of their father Jacob, by the gratuitous mercy of God. The first

history is indeed referred to for this end, that the posterity of Jacob might

 understand that they had been elected by God before they were born.

For Jacob did not, by choice or design, lay hold of the heel of his brother in

his mother’s womb; but it was an extraordinary thing. It was, then, God

who guided the hand of the infant and by this sign testified his adoption

to be gratuitous. In short, by saying that Jacob held the foot of his brother in

his mother’s womb, the same thing is intended as if God had reminded the

Israelites that they did not excel other people by their own virtue or that of


HAD CHOSEN THEM!”   The gist of the passage is to exhibit Jacob’s

earnestness in seeking the Divine blessing as an example to his posterity.

Already in his mother’s womb, before he saw the light of the world even in

his condition of unconsciousness, he had laid hold of the heel of his elder

brother Esau, in order to anticipate him as the firstborn, and thereby appropriate

the Divine promises.


  • The second clause describes how with zeal, by labor and effort, he had

struggled for the position of preeminence, sorely struggling for the Divine

blessing. In the maturity of his manhood he wrestled with God, or rather

with the angel of the covenant, and prevailed so that his name was changed

to Israel. This picture the prophet presents to Jacob’s posterity for their

imitation, with implied promise of LIKE HAPPY RESULT!   Though

Aben Ezra and Kimchi, in their exposition of the verse, rather explain in their

own way the significance of the original event as recorded in Genesis than the

application which the prophet here makes of it, yet it may not be out of

place to subjoin their comments, which are as follows: Aben Ezra, “With

respect to him who explains ‘in the womb’ in the sense that Jehovah then

decreed the matter of the birthright and blessing, I know not how the

meaning of ‘in the womb’ bears on that, as the Scripture says, ‘Before I

formed thee in the womb I knew thee.’ According to my opinion it should

be taken according to its literal sense, that ‘ he took his brother by the heel

in the womb; ‘ and this is made clear by’ and his hand took hold on Esau’s

heel.’ Now the purport is, ‘Why do the sons of Jacob not remember that I

chose their father, and effected preeminence for him over all that are born?

For when he was in the womb I gave him strength to lay hold of the heel,

and this was as the working of a miracle, for the fetus has, in the womb and

at the time of the opening of the matrix, no strength to lay hold of anything

until it comes forth from the womb into the air of the world. And lo! when

he was in the womb I gave him strength; and afterwards he wrestled with

the angel, and he (the angel) did not prevail over him, although one angel

slew the whole host of Assyria, and from his sight the children of men flee

in terror as David who was frightened; how much was it to wrestle with

him.’ The meaning is that all the children of the world should know that his

(Jacobs) seed shall endure for ever, and in the end conquer his enemies.

But Ephraim thinks that Ephraim himself has found the power.”


It is no small thing to have a godly parentage. To be born to the heritage of a

good name and of religious influences brings heavy responsibility and

noble privilege. The man who turns from the path in which his godly

ancestors walked commits a greater sin, in the judgment of God, than the

godless who have never known the advantages of a religious home. Among

the nations, “Israel” had this peculiar responsibility. The name of the

people was a reminder of the prayer in which their great ancestor obtained

self-conquest, knowledge of God, and grace to keep justice and do mercy.

Hence they are reminded by Hosea of what their father was, that they

might know what was still possible to themselves. The prophet refers here

to Jacob’s agonizing prayer at Jabbok, and speaks of a “strength” which

was in him, which consisted not in holiness or merit, but (as the next verse

suggests) in “supplication and tears.” God could not overthrow his faith

and constancy. He could not, because he would not. The touch which

shriveled Jacob’s thigh showed what he could do. The delay and struggle

were only imposed on the suppliant (as by Jesus on the woman of Syro-

phoenicia) in order to prepare him to receive a loftier blessing than he

began at first to seek. The incident is related in a highly poetic form, and to

Jacob the conflict was so terrible that it seemed an actual struggle with a

living man. The voice and the presence were not material, but they were

nonetheless real. We do not attempt to distinguish between the subjective

and objective in this great conflict, yet we believe that Hosea’s words

respecting it are true, “There God spake with us,” and that we are called

upon to incline our hearts to the inference in the sixth verse, “Therefore

turn thou to thy God!”


4 “Yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed: he wept, and made

supplication unto him:” - As Jacob’s position at birth symbolized

the preeminence which God’s electing love had in store for him, and as in

his manhood’s prime he put forth such earnestness and energy to obtain the

blessing, so Israel, by the example of their forefather, are ENCOURAGED

TO LIKE STRENEOUS EXERTION  with like certainty of success. The

example is more fully described and dwelt on in this verse for the purpose of more

powerfully stimulating the Israelites of the prophet’s day to imitate it. From

this verse we learn the following facts:


  • the nature of the conflict as of a spiritual kind;
  • the visible embodiment of the invisible deity, so that the angel is not an

entire identification with God in the preceding verse, but the organ of

Divine manifestation; and

  • the weapons used, or the means employed, namely, weeping and

supplication, in a word, THE INSTRUMENTALITY OF

PRAYER  and the true way of prevailing with God, which is REAL


 and defiant resistance to THE DIVINE WILL AND WORD

like that of Israel at the period in question.


It was a great wonder for a man to wrestle with an angel.” כָבָה;   He wept and

Asked him, when he said, ‘I will not let thee go, unless thou shalt have blessed

me!’ For the wrestling was that which he engaged in with the angel,

holding him by prayers that he might bless him, not by the strength of

work. If any one weeps and exercises penitence, and supplicates the Lord,

he shall find Him in the grief of his heart, and when he has invoked Him, he

shall hear Him answering.”  - “he found Him in Bethel, and there He spake

with us.”  The prophet here records the result of Jacob’s faithful wrestling.

There in Bethel, the very place where years after idolatry and immorality

found a home, God had manifested Himself to the patriarch.  The fruit of Jacob’s

victory was that


  • he found God at Bethel;
  • not that God found him, as some explain it.


The historical basis of the prophet’s statement is not Genesis 28:11,

which narrates the appearance of God to the patriarch as he fled into

Mesopotamia, but Genesis 35:9, when the new name of Israel, “prince

with God,” was confirmed to him, and the promise of all the families of the

earth being blessed through his seed renewed. Of the two visions at Bethel

the second is the one here referred to, as it comes after that at Penuel, the

scene of the patriarch’s wrestling with the angel; while the accompanying

circumstances keep us to the right understanding of the expression, “he

found him in Bethel,” which we are considering. Jacob on that memorable

occasion prepared himself and household for seeking God by putting away

the strange gods that were among them, by ceremonial purifications, and

putting on change of garments. Thus, seeking with holy purpose and

prepared heart, he found the Lord at Bethel, and enjoyed heavenly

fellowship with Him there.   “Let it be observed,” says Lackemacher, as

quoted by Keil, “that God is said to have talked at Bethel, not with Jacob only,

but with all his posterity. That is to say, the things which are here said to have

been done by Jacob, and to have happened to him, had not regard to himself

only, but to all the race that sprang from him, and were signs of the good fortune

which they either would or certainly might enjoy.”


5  “Even the Lord God of hosts; the Lord is his memorial.”  Here

we have at once a confirmation and a pledge of previous promises. Jacob

had wronged Esau, and thereby incurred his displeasure; he had offended

God by the injury inflicted on his brother. He is consequently in a position

of peril with respect to both God and man; he repented of his sin, and with

many and bitter tears supplicated safety — salvation in the highest sense.

Jacob, or Israel, in Hosea’s time were involved in greater guilt and exposed

to greater danger; the same unfailing remedy is recommended to them, and

the same way of safety is laid open before them; let them only repent, turn

to the Lord, and with tears of genuine sorrow seek his face and favor free;

and the prospect would soon brighten before them. The Name of God was

a sufficient guarantee: HE IS JEHOVAH THE EVERLASTING and

 therefore UNCHANGING ONE   the same to Jacob’s posterity as He had

been to the patriarch himself, equally ready to accept their repentance and equally

willing to bless them with safety and salvation. He is God of hosts, and

thus the Almighty One, governing all creatures, guiding all events,

commanding all powers both heavenly and earthly, and ruling the whole

history of humanity. His name is a remembrancer of all this, and thus His

people were assured that He neither lacks the will nor the power to bless

them with all needful blessings, and do them greatest good. The name of an

individual is that whereby he is known; on mention of his name the memory

of him is recalled. The mention of the Divine Name not only reminds us of

His being and Godhead, but recalls to our memory HIS ATTRIBUTES!

 Rashi has the following brief comment on this verse: “As I have been from the

beginning, so am I now; and if ye had walked with me in uprightness as

Jacob our father, I would have dealt with you as dealt with him.” Thus to

Abram in a land of strangers, imperiled and defenseless, God revealed

Himself as God Almighty; to Moses, after centuries of unfulfilled promise,

He made himself known as the Unchanging One, still challenging the

confidence of His people; to Hosea He brings to mind His unchanging

counsel in regard to all the events of time and His unlimited control over all

the realms of space and their inhabitants, and so the suitability of His

attributes to the multiplied necessities and varying circumstances of His people.


“Even the Lord God of hosts; the Lord is his memorial.”  The God who

appeared to Jacob, who conversed with him in reference to his posterity as well as

himself, and whom Jacob found at Bethel, was the God of Jacob’s succeeding race;

the God against whom they had trespassed, but to whom they are now urged to turn.


That God is Jehovah, the self-existing One whose title is “I AM THAT I AM”

(Exodus 3:14) which is a sort of paraphrase of the name Jehovah. He is the first of

all beings, the greatest of all beings, supreme over all beings, whose being

is without limit of time-everlasting, and without bound of space; infinite,

having all being in Himself, and giving to all creatures life and breath and all

things. He is Jehovah, the ever living and never-changing God, the same in

kindness, the same in covenant relation to His people, and the same in

accessibility. What He did to Jacob HE WAS READY to do for the posterity of

the patriarch, yea, HE IS WILLING TO DO FOR ALL PEOPLE  that call

 upon Him in truth, seeking His face and favor free.


  • He is, moreover, GOD OF HOSTS,  the armies of heaven are at His

command, the inhabitants of the earth are subject to His will, the

powers of nature and all the forces of the universe are under His control.

This expression is employed in allusion to those hosts of God that met him after

he had wrestled with God, after his name had been changed, and of whom

we read, “The angels of God met him. And when Jacob saw them, he

said, This is God’s host,” and in relation to whom he called the place

Mahanaim, the two camps or hosts of God.  (Genesis 32:2)


  • Jehovah is his memorial. Men short-lived and mortal raise monuments

to keep up their remembrance; but the name Jehovah is the Divine

memorial, the name by which He wishes to be remembered through all

generations, as He says elsewhere, “This is my name for ever, and this is

my memorial to all generations” (Exodus 3:15).  This term may have

reference to the memorial stone which Jacob had set up for a pillar, to keep

up the remembrance of the gracious vision that had been vouchsafed to him,

and as a memorial of his vow.


  • The case of Jacob proves the need we have of a memorial to help our

memories; for oh, how deceitful our hearts are; how treacherous our

memories in the things of God! We need helps, and means, and memorials,

and remembrancers, but pictures are not needed for this purpose, images

are not needed.  GOD’S NAME,  as indicating His nature, is

SUFFICIENT MEMORIAL OF HIM. His Word and His works are to

keep men in remembrance of Him. The name Jehovah is God’s memorial;

every time we read, or hear, or speak that name, we are reminded of the glory

and greatness of Him who is the first and best of beings, as also of His goodness

and grace. We are reminded by that name of the unchangeableness of His nature

(Malachi 3:6) and His never ceasing mercy to man THE SAME TO THE


FOREFATHERS, the God of our fathers being still the God of their succeeding

race. “There is no shortening of His power and no darkening of His glory, but

with whatsoever power God has wrought, in whatsoever glory He has appeared,

in former times, HE MAY MANIFEST FOR US NOW!


6 “Therefore turn thou to thy God: keep mercy and judgment,

and wait on thy God continually.”  God’s character in itself, and His

conduct towards the great forefather of the Hebrew race, call at once for

confidence and contrition. The evidence of their repentance is twofold: one

aspect is manward, consisting of mercy and judgment; the other is

Godward, being a constant waiting upon God. The literal rendering brings

out the meaning more clearly; it is, “And thou, in [or, ‘by’] thy God thou

shalt return.” If we render the preposition by “in,” we may understand it to

imply entire dependence on God, or close and cordial fellowship with God;

if we take it to mean “by,” it signifies the power or help of God; while the

return is moral and spiritual, with perhaps material and literal restoration

implied A parallel for be in the signification of “by” occurs in the first

chapter of this book at the seventh verse: “I will save them by (be) the

Lord their God;” also in Deuteronomy 33:29, “O people saved by (be)

the Lord.” We prefer the former sense as more simple and suitable; it is

concisely and correctly explained by Keil as follows: "'שׁוב with בְ  is a

pregnant expression, as in Isaiah 10:22, ‘So turn as to enter into vital

fellowship with God; ‘ that is, to be truly converted.... The next two

clauses are to be taken as explanatory of תשוב.. The conversion is to show

itself in the perception of love and right towards their brethren, and in

constant trust in God.” The difference between שׁוּב בְּ and שוּב אֶל  is that

the latter signifies “to return to,” and the former “to return into,” and thus

expresses inward union with Him. The general sense of the clause is thus

expressed by Aben Ezra: “If thou wouldst return to God, He would be thy

help to bring thee back to Him”  (“As many as received Him, to them

gave He power to become the sons of God.” John 1:12) and by Kimchi

as follows: “But thou who art the seed of Jacob, if thou art willing, canst return

unto thy God, i.e. thou canst rest in Him, as ‘In returning and rest shall ye be

 saved’ (Isaiah 30:15).” The second point of the verse has an instructive

parallel in Micah 6:8, “What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do

justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” In regard to

the waiting upon God, of which the last clause speaks, Aben Ezra has the

pithy remark, “Depend not upon thy riches nor thy strength, for the

strength thou hadst from him, also the riches.” Kimchi comments on the

same more fully, as follows: “On this condition thou canst rest and not be

afraid of the enemy, if thou wilt observe to do mercy and judgment: for His

conditions are as He said, ‘I am the Lord which exercise loving-kindness,

judgment, and righteousness in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith

the Lord’  (Jeremiah 9:24).  And although He does not mention righteousness here,

yet He has said in another place, ‘Keep ye judgment, and do justice [literally,

‘righteousness’] (Isaiah 56:1).’ And He says here, ‘And wait upon thy God

 continually;’ now it is righteousness and equity that thou waitest on thy God

continually. And even when thou shalt have great possession and riches

and wealth, thou shalt say to thyself, ‘ IT IS ALL FROM HIM;  thou shall

remember Him continually and wait on Him, as He says in the Law

(Deuteronomy 8:18), ‘ Thou shalt remember the Lord thy God, for it is

He that giveth thee power to get wealth; not like Ephraim, who says, ‘I am

become rich, I have found me out substance.’” The Septuagint has ἔγγιζε

eggize -  equivalent to “draw near to, having probably read קְרֹב instead of קַוֵּה




Reproof, Retrospect, and Exhortation (vs. 1-6)


Ephraim is reproved for the pursuit of empty and vain courses, and courses

detrimental to their best and real interests. Judah is included in the

threatening which follows. They are exhorted to follow the example of the

patriarch which is proposed for their imitation, with implied promise of

similar success. The UNCHANGEABLENESS OF GOD  who not only

accepted Jacob, but blessed and prospered him, is held out to the

 descendants of Jacob as a guarantee of like blessings in case of their

turning to God and bringing forth fruits meet for repentance.



feature of the natural heart is patent in the case of Ephraim. The people of

the northern kingdom spared neither pains nor expense to obtain

human help rather than seek help from God.


Ø      We notice the expensive nature of their proceeding. They made a

covenant with the Assyrians, and that was an expensive compact; for

Menahem King of Israel had to pay Pul the Assyrian monarch a

thousand talents of silver for the desired help (II Kings 15:19-20),

and Hoshea became tributary to Shalmaneser, and gave him costly

presents (Ibid. ch. 17:3); while the national bank  was drained in

another direction, valuable exports of olive oil being sent into Egypt.



Ø      Wasted energy in pursuit of their purpose. They are represented as

“following after,” and “daily increasing.” They imposed more

toil on themselves TRYING TO GET AWAY FROM GOD

than they would have required TO TURN TO GOD!  . They had

“no less pains by going out of God’s way than if they had kept in it;

but God’s way, as it is undoubtedly the surest, so in many respects it is

even the easiest, course.”  (“The way of the transgressors is hard” –

Proverbs 13:15).


Ø      The empty consequences of this course. (Basically, their economic

endeavors, like ours in the United States today, were only to put

their assets “into a bag full of holes.” – Haggai 1:6 – CY – 20-12)

Their hopes were doomed to bitterest disappointment, and their human

helps proved hurtful in the extreme. The presents which they had lavished

on the Egyptians had no other effect than to compromise them with the

Assyrians; while the issue was the imprisonment of this prince and the

captivity of the people. SO IS IT STILL:   men’s carnal confidences

deceive them, like wind which may fill but cannot feed them; and not

only deceive, but draw down on them greater calamities than those

they hoped to escape from. Thus they prove not only profitless as the

wind but pernicious as the east wind. The OUTCOME of all is not

only lying vanities but DESOLATION!




does not connive at sin in His saints that serve Him, any more than in sinners

that have never sought Him; neither do men’s ordinary good deeds atone for

their occasional misdeeds. Sin in the people of God is sure to bring

chastisement in some form. At first sight it might seem strange, or even

contradictory, that the Lord should have a controversy with Judah, of

whom it had been asserted a few verses before that Judah yet ruleth with

God, and is faithful with the saints.” (Consider how far America has

sunk into apostasy in the last sixty years – going from a Christian nation to


CY – 2012)  But a ready and right solution of the apparent difficulty is found

in those striking statements of the Apocalypse, in which God, after bestowing

deserved commendation on certain Churches for this or that course of conduct,

immediately adds, “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because

thou hast left thy first love” (Revelation 2:4).  Their goodness, of whatever

kind it was, did not cause their ill deserts to be overlooked. “Some there

are,” says an old writer,” who, if there be any evil in men, can see no good

in them; this is wicked, But there are others that, if there be any good in

them, can see no evil; this is too much indulgence. They err in both





Ø      It is not a little strange how men sometimes try to screen themselves by

the sins of others, or to palliate their wrongdoing by the yet greater

wrongdoing of others. It might have been so with Ephraim; they might

have pleaded the sins of Judah in extenuation of their own, or even

charged the Most High with uneven dealing with them in punishing

their sin as did Israel, when complaining about the captivity, said

“The way of the LORD is not equal. Hear now, O house

of Israel; Is not my way equal? are not your ways unequal?

When a righteous man turneth away from his righteousness,

And committeth iniquity, and dieth in them; for his iniquity

that he hath done shall he die.  Again, when the wicked man

 turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed,

 and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his

soul alive.  Because he considereth, and turneth away from

 all his transgressions that he hath committed, he shall surely

 live, he shall not die.  Yet saith the house of Israel, The way

of the LORD is not equal. O house of Israel, are not my ways

equal? are not your ways unequal?  THEREFORE I WILL



Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions;


18:25-30).   They might have said, “We are not so very much

worse than Judah; there are sins in Judah as well as in Israel; why,

then, should Judah escape?” So with many still; they are ready to

say, “We are not worse than others; we have our faults, so have

our neighbors; if we deserve punishment, so do others as well.”

(Dear Reader, Just because everybody is doing it is not

Justification before A HOLY GOD!   Misery Loves Company

may be a defensive mechanism that is utilized in this world, but

in the next world, separated from God by the “BLACKNESS

OF DARKNESS FOR EVER” – Jude 1:13 – something to

the equivalent of getting lost in orbit outside the earth’s

atmosphere, but in this sense, AWAY FROM THE

KINGDOM OF GOD – see Luke 16:26 – CY – 2012).

God shows us that His ways are equal, that he will not punish

Ephraim and allow Judah to escape, but that He will render to

EVERY MAN  as his works shall be.  (Romans 2:6;

Ecclesiastes 12:14)


Ø      But their plea might be easily turned against them to their great

discomfiture. If Judah is admittedly superior to Israel, and retains

the true worship of Jehovah though with certain drawbacks, and

if Israel has renounced that worship, and is in other matters in a

worse case, might it not be asked in words similar to a New

Testament Scripture, If even with Judah God has a controversy,

how can Israel expect to escape? “If the righteous scarcely be


SINNER APPEAR?”  (I Peter 4:18)


Ø      Though every sin deserves the severest judgment, being an infinite

offence against the infinitely Holy One, yet He proportions His

chastisements to the degree and aggravation of each offence, and

the obstinacy of the offender.  GOD IS A JUST GOD, HE


WHERE!  (I recommend – Genesis 17 – Names of God –

El Shaddai – by Nathan Stone – this web site – CY – 2012)




AND THEIR LESSONS.  These histories record the three great struggles

of the patriarch’s life.


Ø      His birth, when he takes his brother by the heel, gives evidence of a

Divine instinct or a divinely directed inclination to struggle for the

birthright and its blessings.


o       The first lesson taught us in the Scripture record of Jacob’s birth

(Genesis 25:22, 26) is the electing love of God, or that gracious

Favor which God is pleased to extend to men, and that without

respect to their works of merit or deserts of any kind. Not only

are the People of God chosen by Him from eternity, as we read,

“He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the

world” (Ephesians 1:4), and consequently before they have

done either good or evil, but sometimes they are made partakers

of His sanctifying grace from the womb; thus we read of Jeremiah

(Jeremiah 1:5), “Before I sowed thee in the belly I knew thee;

 and before thou earnest forth out of the womb I sanctified

 thee;” so also of John the Baptist (Luke 1:44), “Lo, as soon as

 the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe

leaped in my womb for joy.”


o       Jacob’s struggle to anticipate Esau in being the firstborn, and so

to secure the birthright and its blessing, presaged the high

 spiritual position to which in the purpose of God he

 was to attain. Even the lack of success of the effort does

not lead Jacob to relax his efforts or relinquish his object, till

grace compensated his natural disadvantage and crowned his

persistent struggling with success.


o       The posterity of the patriarch are here taught not to fall back on,

and boast of, the dignity and privileges of their ancestor, but to

bestir themselves as he had done to secure spiritual blessings.


o       When God bestows grace on any it furnishes abundant cause of

thanksgiving, but especially is this the case when that grace

is granted in early life, so as to prevent those youthful follies

 and lusts that war against the soul, and which, in the case of

those afterwards converted, often make them to posses the

 iniquities of their youth and embitter all their after-years.


Ø      The wrestling with the angel and prevailing formed the next great

epoch in Jacob’s life. This which is recorded in Genesis 32, was a season

of great terror and distress, as well as of no little danger from his brother

Esau. But he did not give way before the dangers that threatened him,

nor succumb under the difficulties of his position; he bravely faced the

discouragements that surrounded him — not, however, in his own

strength. By the strength which God gave he had power with God;

in the vigor of his strength he wrestled with the Angel of the covenant

and prevailed. He saw the providence of God in all that betided him,

and wrestled for the Divine favor and succor, The wrestling symbolized

the intense earnestness and energy which he put forth; the object for

which he strove so earnestly and energetically was the blessing

 of his God; the means employed were prayers and tears and fervent

supplications; the persistence with which he prayed and pled is expressed

in the words, “I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.” Thus as

 a prince he had power with God and with men, and prevailed.

(Genesis 32:26,28).


o       What evidence we have here of the riches of Divine grace! The

Omnipotent One gives us the power in virtue of which we prevail

with Him, even with Himself! The method by which men prevail

with God is the ordinances of PRAYER and SUPPLICATION

which He has Himself appointed; while the spirit suitable to

such employments is A BROKEN AND CONTRITE HEART

 for such the Lord will not despise (Psalm 51:17).  Jacob was

truly magnanimous, and yet tender-hearted and contrite, and his

weeping was the outpouring of his tenderness of heart and

contrition of spirit.


o       The choicest blessings of providence and grace are often

bestowed upon men after seasons of affliction and distress;

and bestowed after intense wrestlings, earnest prayers, and

solemn supplications. Here was a lesson for the People of the

prophet’s day to encourage them against the dangers and

difficulties that were fast crowding upon them, and. to instruct

them. by the example of their honored progenitor to put their

confidence IN GOD  and not in MISERABLE,


 Thus by the power of Omnipotence itself they might retrieve

their sinking fortunes, surmount all difficulties, and triumph over

all enemies. Here, too, is a lesson worth learning by us all.

POWER BELONGETH UNTO GOD,  that power we may

partake of; prayer brings that power near and allies it to

our side, and in virtue of that power we shall prevail over all

enemies whether temporal or spiritual.


Ø      The third era in Jacobs history was marked by his finding God at



o       Twice God had been pleased to manifest Himself to Jacob at

Bethel, first when he left his father’s house and set out for

Padan-aram, as recorded in Genesis 28., when he saw that

wondrous vision of the ladder connecting heaven and earth, the

creature and the Creator, while angels as heavenly messengers

ascended and descended upon it. The other occasion was when

he was in great trouble and terror in consequence of the

slaughter of the Shechemites To this, which is narrated in Genesis

35., the prophet specially refers in the passage before us. The

occasion was a memorable one, and in one respect a melancholy

one, in Jacob’s history. He had forgotten the vows, or at

least failed to pay them; he had neglected duty of a solemn

and binding character. And now he is in danger and

distress, yet finds God, and in Him succor and support.

God had been with the fugitive who returned a prince and a

patriarch; He had prospered him and brought him back in

safety and in peace, causing him to find grace in the sight of

his brother Esau, father of the dukes of Seir. Arriving at

Succoth, Jacob had built him a house, made booths for his

cattle, and there his grazing flocks and herds, his peaceful

dwelling, his large and powerful family, ALL ATTESTED


GOD.  But for long there is no word of Bethel, and apparently

no remembrance of the vow he had made to repair thither on

his return, make that place a house of God, and allot the tenth

of his substance to its maintenance. He left Succoth, passed

the Jordan, and removed to Shalem; he lingered there, and time

passed on, some seven or eight years elapsed, and still

Bethel is unvisited and the vow unfulfilled. At length

deep family affliction, sad family dishonor, and dark

family guilt united to afflict, perhaps punish, the patriarch; and it

became necessary for God himself to remind Jacob of Bethel,

and the wondrous vision he had seen there, and the solemn vow

he had made there, all of which seemed to have faded from his

memory, and might perchance have been entirely forgotten, had

not God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel(Genesis

35:1).  In his distress he sought the Lord, and the call of God

reminded him of his duty.   Under such circumstances he found

Him at Bethel, “which may be understood both of God who

prevented Jacob by a vision the first time, and with a call the

second time, and of Jacob who found God there when he

sought unto Him.”


o       Thus, after a period of forgetfulness or neglect, soon as Jacob

was stirred up to seek the Lord, he found Him.   Here was

encouragement for his erring posterity to seek that God who

never said to the seed of Jacob any more than to Jacob himself,

“Seek ye my face in vain.”   (My fellowman!  Our response

to God’s invitation to seek His face should be as the Psalmist,

“When thou sadist, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto

thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek!”  - Psalm 27:8 – CY –



o       It is well worthy of note that the means whereby God is pleased

to have communion with His people is His Word, as we may

rightly infer from the expression, “THERE HE SPAKE

WITH US” (v.4).  And it is further noticeable, that

God’s revelations of Himself of old remain the heritage of

the Church in all after ages. The words “there He spake with us”

 show that the communication was not merely personal to Jacob,

but for his posterity. God spake with them as though present, and

what He said concerned them though they were yet in the loins

of their progenitor. So with the Church and people of God still;

“what was written aforetime was written for our learning,

 that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures

might have hope.” (Romans 15:4)




STATEMENTS. The application which the prophet makes of the subject is

introduced with a “therefore” (v.6).  This “therefore” gathers up the several

foregoing thoughts into one urgent appeal.


Ø      Motives to repentance. By the fact of Jacob’s wrestling with God and

the success of this spiritual struggle, by the memorial of the name Jehovah

as an index of the unchanging mercifulness of His nature, and by the

implied spiritual declension of his descendants, the people of both the

northern and southern kingdoms in general and EACH INDIVIDUAL

IN PARTICULAR,  are earnestly admonished to turn to God, their

fathers’ God, their own God, as it is stated, “Therefore turn thou to thy



Ø      Fruits meet for repentance. The amendment answerable to repentance

comprises the duties of the so-called second table of the Law. Justice and

mercy may be regarded as a summary.


o       The golden rule of all justice is that royal law of Christ, “All

things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you,

do ye even so to them; for this is the Law and the prophets”

(Matthew 7:12).  It would be out of place to enter into the details

of justice; this one principle includes all, it is plain to all, it is

applicable to all; it comprehends princes and people, masters and

servants, brothers and sisters; it extends to all stations and relations,

it is unvarying in its application to all persons in all matters and at

ALL TIMES,  it embraces not only all the business transactions

of buyers and sellers, but all situations and stations in which we

can stand towards our brother man, whether as inferiors or

superiors or equals; it is a rule easily understood, easily put in

practice, and commends itself to every man’s conscience. Thus

reading the Scripture text before us in the light of our Lord’s

teaching, we have a rule of justice easily accommodated to all

cases, and of ready adaptation to all the vast variety of

circumstances that bring us into relation with our fellow

creatures.  In this duty of keeping judgment or justice, which is

the same word (mishpat) in the original, you have only to make

the case of your fellow-man your own, to conceive circumstances

changed with him and yourself in his position; and then whatever

you could reasonably expect of him, supposing yourself to be in

his circumstances, that do to the utmost of your ability to every

child of man. This principle not only includes that more obvious

duty of acting justly in all the transactions of life which the

apostle enjoins, saying, “Let no man go beyond or defraud

his brother in any matter,” (I Thessalonians 4:6) but also

prohibits those acts of injustice that might not chance to fall

within the bounds of human law or of civil enactments, by

awarding to every one his due“honor to whom honor

 is due, fear to whom fear, tribute to whom tribute

(Romans 13:7), instruction to the ignorant, relief to the

oppressed, bowels of compassion to the poor, and, in the words

of Solomon, by withholding not good (of whatever kind) from

them to whom it is due when it is in the power of thine hand

to do it.  (Proverbs 3:27).


o       Strict justice is much, very much more than, alas! is often

dispensed; yet it is not enough. There must be mercy too,

and mercy tempering justice. When we have done full justice

to a fellow-being we have not done all that God requires of us

towards our fellow-creature; He has other claims upon us, and

God has given him those claims. Reversing the order of the

words according to the parallel passage in Micah, “Do justly

and love mercy” (Micah 6:8), we may say, “Just first and

kind next” is the requirement of this Scripture; “Just first and

then generous “ is a common saying. We might exact strict j

ustice for ourselves, standing upon our bond like him of old

and demanding our pound of flesh, we might exact what is justly

our due, but what benevolence would not and mercy could not

claim, and so verify the old Latin proverb about the “height of

justice being the height of injury;” but the requirement of mercy

prohibits and prevents that. Then, O man, love mercy — it is

the characteristic of your heavenly Father, who is the


that generous, large-hearted benevolence which does good

according to its power to all men under all circumstances,

“especially to them who are of the household of

faith” (Galatians 6:10), love mercy, that heaven-born

principle which, if even an enemy hunger, feeds him, if he

thirst gives him drink, if he be naked clothe him

(Matthew 25:35-36).  “And,” to borrow the well-known

words, “as in the course of justice none of us should see

salvation, we do therefore pray for mercy, and that same

prayer doth teach us all to render the deeds of mercy.”


o       Further, we are not only to do justly and to love mercy,

BUT TO DELIGHT THEREIN!   Thus we shall not only

do some acts of justice and perform some acts of mercy, but

keep them both; mercy first, as having the preeminence

and being the consummation of justice — the one the fruit,

and the other the root. In this way we are required to keep

mercy and justice, that is, to observe uniformly and practice

habitually mercy and justice. For a pattern of mercy, read the

parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-36); for the

opposite, the story of Hazael (II Kings 7-15), and the parable

of the man who owed ten thousand talents (Matthew 18:23-35)




GOD AS WELL AS TO MAN. The former duty is here expressed in the

words “wait on thy God continually” (v.6).  The connection of the words is

very suggestive. Repentance is put to a practical test and its sincerity proved;

the proof consists of a right discharge of the duties we owe both to man

and God. The duties to man are put first, because we not infrequently find

persons showing a zeal for the outward ordinances of religious worship

and yet neglectful of mercy and judgment to their fellow-creatures; and, on

the other hand, such duties are never discharged aright where God is not

truly worshipped; they may be determined by fits and starts (remember

Jesus’ teaching, “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and

there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee;

Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be

reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.”

(Matthew 5:23-24),  but not steadily and continuously as the keeping

of them requires, unless there is genuine godliness. Thus morality has

 its root in religion, and religion without morality is only a name without

reality. In order, therefore, to keep, in the sense of regularly observing

mercy and justice, there must be CONTINUED WAITING UPON



  • THE NATURE OF WAITING ON GOD. Waiting on God implies

want and weakness and danger on our part, as also that God is the Source

of fullness, of strength, and of sufficiency. It also implies service. “As the

eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of

 a maiden unto the hand of her mistress, so our eyes wait upon the

 Lord our God, until that He have mercy upon us” (Psalm 123:2).

Waiting on God denotes waiting on Him in expectation, trusting in

Him for help, looking to Him for deliverance.


Ø      The whole of religion is at times summed up in the expression,

“waiting on God;” in this sense the psalmist uses the words three

times in a single psalm. After confessing his own faith in God, he

prayed for all that possessed like precious faith, saying, “Let none

that wait on thee be ashamed.” Again, addressing God his Savior

and supplicating Divine guidance and Divine instruction, he says,

“On thee do I wait all the day.”  And a third time, referring to

the might and multitude of his enemies and supplicating deliverance,

he pleads his own relationship to God, using the same words,

“for I wait on thee,” and adding, “Redeem Israel, O God, out

of all his troubles” (Psalm 25:3,5,21-22).  Similarly in the Book

of the Prophet Isaiah, in reference to the spread of the true religion,

 not only over the broad continents and countries of earth, but

throughout those multitudinous and distant islands that rise in beauty

and rest in sunshine amid the wild waves of ocean that roll and rage

around them, we read, “He shall set judgment in the earth,” and

“The isles shall wait for his law”  (Isaiah 42:4).


Ø      Reasons for and motives to waiting on God. There is good reason for

waiting on God. God is the God of providence, and therefore all wait

upon Him. “The eyes of all wait upon thee, and thou givest them

their meat in due season; thou openest thy hand, and satisfiest

the wants of every living thing” (Psalm 145:15-16).  (Dear Reader,

God’s desire for you and me is eloquently explained in Psalm 81:10-16.

“I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of

Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.  But my people

would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me.

So I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lust: and they walked

in their own counsels.  Oh that my people had hearkened unto

 me, and Israel had walked in my ways!  I should soon have

subdued their enemies, and turned my hand against their

adversaries.  The haters of the LORD should have submitted

themselves unto him: but their time should have endured for

ever.  He should have fed them also with the finest of the wheat:

and with honey out of the rock should I have satisfied thee.”

This cannot be improved upon! – As I think of this principle of God’s

dealing with mankind, I think of another which has been mentioned in

Hosea with God’s dealing with Ephraim.  “Ephraim is joined to

idols:  let him alone.” ch. 4:17 – Today was a tragic day in

America as 20 school children and 6 teachers were slain in Newtown,

Connecticut.  He political leadership in the United States is not looking
                        to God for the solution, but to GUN CONTROL LAWS.  My

question, is where is the American Civil Liberties Union

to help console the bereaved? Their role of neutering religion

in American life has brought this on because, for sure, the

United States government is IMPOTENT  deal with this.

However, religion can.  When God said, “THOU SHALT NOT

KILL” – a person’s religion can keep him from killing.  TO

IGNORE THIS IS A GREAT SIN.  Like in Israel, there are

MANY FACTORS in this scenario.  America’s turning her

Back on God has greatly contributed to this event today –CY –

December 14, 2012)  God is the Author of every good gift and of

every perfect boon, ruling the changing year, making everything

beautiful in its season, causing the sun to rise and the shower to fall,

and by that gentle shower and genial sunshine preserving to our use

the kindly fruits of the earth; all His people acknowledge His goodness

and wait upon His bounty. “Are there any among the vanities of

 the Gentiles,” asks Jeremiah, “that can cause rain? Or can the

heavens give showers? Art thou not He, O Lord our God?

Therefore we will wait upon thee, for thou hast made all these

things.” (Jeremiah 14:22).  He is the God of grace and salvation

especially, and therefore we wait upon Him; thus Israel says,

“I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord;” (Genesis 49:18)

and in like manner the good old Simeon, who is called a just and

devout man, is represented as “waiting for the consolation

of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.” He is the God

of mercy, in Him compassions flow; and therefore it is our privilege

as well as our duty to wait upon Him, and say in the language

of ancient piety, “And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is

in thee; deliver me from all my transgressions, make me not

the reproach of the foolish.”  (Psalm 39:8)


Ø      Manner of waiting on God and exhortation to the duty. Wait on the

Lord in faith, for without faith it is impossible to please Him

(Hebrews 11:6) and whatever is not of faith is sin  (Romans 14:23).

Wait on the Lord in prayer; “In all things by prayer and

supplication… let your requests be made known unto God”

(Philippians 4:6), for He heareth prayer, and UNTO HIM

SHALL ALL FLESH COME!  (Psalm 65:2) - Wait on the Lord

in patience, and let patience have its perfect work; “for patience

worketh experience and, experience hope” (Romans 5:3-4).

Wait on the Lord with resignation; say in your heart as you pray

with your lips, “Thy will, O God, be done; It is the Lord; let Him

do what seemeth him good.”  (I Samuel 3:18).  Wait on Him in

the ordinances which He has appointed, reverencing His sanctuary,

keeping holy His day of rest, observing those seasons of communion,

which are green spots in the desert, where the good Shepherd feeds

His flock, making them to lie down in green pastures (Psalm 23),

leading them by still waters, and causing them to rest at noon. Wait

on Him by fulfilling the vows of God, which are upon you, paying

those vows in spite of the world, and in sight of God’s people all.

Wait on the Lord in your family, and wherever you have a house

let God have an altar; and let the incense of prayer and praise

 regularly ascend from that altar to the God and Father of all

the families of the earth. Wait on Him in closet prayer, entering

thy chamber, shutting to the door, praying to your Father who heareth

in secret, and who will reward you openly (Matthew 6:6). Wait

on the Lord, not occasionally merely, BUT CONTINUALLY, not in

certain spasmodic efforts, BUT HABITUALLY,  not after

long intervals, BUT AT ALL TIMES!  Wait on the Lord, and you

will thereby renew your strength. There were giants in the earth in days

of old. A terrible struggle once took place, as we read in classic story,

between two lusty giants. Prodigious they were in strength, fearful in

prowess; they struggled hard and wrestled long, but one of them,

every time he touched the earth, renewed thereby his strength and

prevailed over his antagonist. We need not stop to inquire whether the

story be a fiction or a fact; it matters not, as it serves equally well the

purposes of illustration. Scripture records a fact which that fiction

illustrates. The giant renewed, his strength every time he touched the

earth; the believer renews his strength, not by touching earth or

groveling among the things thereof, but by laying hold of the throne

of grace in heaven and waiting on the Lord.  “Let us therefore

come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain

mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”  (Hebrews 4:16)



Power with God (vs. 3-6)

The people are incited to repentance by the example of their progenitor Jacob.

His wrestling for the blessing sets their unfaithfulness in darker contrast.



Before Jacob was born God had said, “The elder shall serve the younger”

(Genesis 25:23). Yet the blessing had to be striven for, and won from

God by wrestling and supplication.


Ø      Jacob had from the first an impulse to realize his destiny. (v.. 3.)

Even as an unconscious babe he gave token of this. He struggled in

the womb (Genesis 25:22). His hand took hold of the heel of his elder

brother Esau as he was born (Ibid v.26.). As he grew older we see the

same impulse manifesting itself, not always in right ways. The

catching of his brother’s heel was a type of the attempts he

afterwards made to take the blessing from Esau by force and

guile. He got Esau to sell the birthright for a mess of pottage

(Ibid. vs.29-34). He obtained the blessing from his father by

fraud (Genesis 27.). The acts were indefensible, but they

testify at least to his appreciation of the blessing, and to

his desire to obtain it.


Ø      His efforts were purified as years advanced. (v. 4.) The blessing

Was at length won, but by far other means than Jacob had at first employed. It was won from God by earnest, agonizing supplication.

The narrative is given in Genesis 32:24-32. There Jacob, as a

 prince, had power with God, and prevailed (Ibid. v.28).





Ø      He draws near to man. God drew near to Jacob at Peniel.

He seemed to be a “man”  (In the late 1960’s, our pastor,

Marion Duncan, preached a powerful series of sermons on

The Premanifestations of the Incarnation of Christ and this

is one of the passages which he used – CY – 2012), but Jacob

recognized in his mysterious Visitant an angel — that Angel

 of the covenant in whom God’s Name was. He accordingly

laid hold of him, wrestled with and entreated Him, and would

not let Him go till He had blessed him. So there are awful

moments in our experience when, “left alone,” the infinite

Presence draws near to us, overshadows us, touches us,

invites us to wrestle with it for the supreme good of existence.


Ø      He gives man power. If Jacob wrestled prevailingly with God,

it was because God gave him power to do so. It is in God’s own

strength that we wrestle with God. God puts Himself in our

power, not crushing us by His majesty, but meeting us as on

a human footing, and permitting us to prevail over Him.


Ø      He invites mans requests. Jacob “wept, and made supplication.”

Prayer is a real wrestling. God wills man thus to wrestle with Him.

He gives us the promise of blessing if we ask, seek, and knock

(Matthew 7:7-8).  Jacob’s prayer was


o       earnest,

o       persevering,

o       mighty.


Jesus prayed “with strong crying and tears,” and “was

 heard in that he feared” (Hebrews 5:7)




Jacob was:


Ø      Israels patriarch head. “He found him in Bethel; there He

spake with us” (v. 4). The promises given at Bethel had

reference to the descendants (Genesis 35:9-12). The blessing

was to be theirs also, if they chose to claim it as Jacob had done.

(“For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all

that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall

call.”  - Acts 2:39)


Ø      An example. He who spake with Jacob was “THE LORD GOD OF HOSTS:  THE LORD IS HIS NAME (v. 5). The unchangeability

of God is our guarantee that, if we act as Jacob did, we shall meet

with like reward.  (Malachi 3:6)


Ø      The consequent duty. “Therefore turn thou to thy God: keep

 mercy and judgment, and wait on thy God continually” (v.6).

There is here indicated the need:


o       of earnest desire. “Turn thou to God.” Israel must turn

from other aims, and set their heart upon the blessing as

Jacob set his.


o       of obedience. “Keep, mercy and judgment.” For it is only

in the way of obedience that God will meet us.


o       of perseverance in seeking. “Wait thou.”  It was thus that

Jacob waited; wrestling even till daybreak.


Verses 7-14 contain a fresh description of Israel’s apostasy. To this the

prophet is led by the preceding train of thought. When he called to mind

the earnestness of the patriarch to obtain the blessing, the sincerity of his

repentance, and the evidences of conversion, consisting in mercy and

judgment and constant waiting on God, he looks around on Israel, and

finding those virtues conspicuous by their absence., he REPEATS



7 “He is a merchant (margin, Canaan), the balances of deceit

are in his hand: he loveth to oppress   This verse is more exactly

rendered, Canaan is he, in his hand are the balances of deceit: he loveth

to oppress. How the sons have degenerated from the sire! No longer do we

see Jacob wrestling in prayer with the angel of the covenant, and knighted

in the field with the name of Israel, or “prince with God;” but a fraudulent

merchant Kenaan, seeking to aggrandize himself by cheating and

oppression. His conduct is the opposite of what God requires; instead of

the mercy and judgment and trust in God enjoined in the preceding verse,

we have the Canaanitish (Phoenician) trader, with his false scales in his

hand and the love of oppression in his heart. The word Kenaan sometimes

denotes Canaan, the son of Ham, and ancestor of the Canaanitish nation;

sometimes the land of Canaan, or lowlands (from כָּנַע, bow the knee,

γονυ γνυ γνυπετεῖν gonu gnu gnupetein - genu, knee; then “to be low”

or “depressed”) as opposed to אֲרָם or” highlands” (from רוּם, to be high);

sometimes Phoenicia, the northern part of Canaan; also, from the Canaanites or

Phoenicians having been famous as merchants, a man of Canaan, or any

merchant, so Job 41:6 and Proverbs 31:24, just as Kasdi Chaldaean is

applied to an astrologer. At the time of Hosea, the Phoenicians were the great

merchants who had the commerce of the world in their hand. Canaan is thus a

figurative designation of Ephraim in their degenerate condition as indicated by

the false balances and love of oppression. The verse is well explained by

Theodoret: “And thou, Ephraim, imitating the wickedness of Canaan, hast an

unjust balance of mind: thou despisest justice, thou greedily desirest unjust power,

thou art high-minded in riches, and dost arrogate to thyself very much in

prescribing and determining the conditions thereof.” Rashi more briefly remarks,

“Ye depend upon your wealth because ye are merchants and defraud; and of

your riches ye say, ‘Yet I have become rich, and shall not serve the Holy

One;’” while Kimchi marks the contrast between Israel as he ought to be

and Israel as he actually is, thus: “But thou art not so (i.e. practicing love

and righteousness), but thou art like the Canaanite, i.e. as the merchant, in

whose hand is the deceitful balance.” The character of the Phoenician trader is

thus given in the ‘Odyssey’ — “A false Phoenician of insidious mind, Vers’d in

vile arts, and foe to humankind.” But, in addition to secret fraud, open violence

is here charged against Israel.


8 “And Ephraim said, Yet I am become rich, I have found me out substance:” –

Ephraim in this verse boasts of his riches, though procured by fraud and violence,

while he maintains at the same time that he has not sinned thereby so as to expose

himself to punishment or deserve severe reprehension. The particle — אַך — has

two principal meanings:   “surely” and  “only.”


  • In the former sense (surely) the clause  may allude to the injunction contained

in v. 6  to wait on God, and may signify, “No doubt I have become rich, yet

not through  Divine help, but by my own exertions;”


  • In the latter sense (only) it may signify, “I have only become rich; I have

done nothing else; I have done nothing amiss”


Aben Ezra regards אַך as introducing the apodosis, and explains it nearly in the sense

of (surely), thus: “The sense of אַך is, ‘God has not given me the wealth, but I by

myself [i.e. my own unaided efforts] have become rich, for I am not as the Canaanite,

’ that is, the merchant, as ‘There shall be no more the Canaanite’ (Zechariah 14:21) ;”

he then proceeds to show the connection, “And the meaning [according to the context] is,

‘Why does He say, Keep mercy and judgment, and be not an oppressor like the

Canaanite [nor am I]? yet all is my own honest earning; none of the sons of

men shall find that I have sinned.’” The interpretation of Kimchi is similar,

but somewhat simpler, thus: “The words, ‘I am become rich,’ are the

opposite of ‘Wait on thy God continually.’ But he (Ephraim) does not wait

on God the blessed, and he does not acknowledge that He gave him

strength to acquire wealth, but says, ‘My own power and the strength of

my hands have made for me this wealth,’ and he forgetteth God the

blessed, who gave him power to work, as it is written in the Law

(Deuteronomy 8:14), ‘And thou forget the Lord thy God.’ This is what

he (the prophet) means by ‘I have become rich;’ he means to say, ‘I have

become rich from myself,’” i.e. by my own labor. The word און denotes

both physical or bodily strength, and also, like חַיִל, riches, Latin opes,

probably as procured thereby. The flourishing state of the kingdom during

the reigns of Joash and Jeroboam II. may have induced their overweening

self-confidence and their amazing forgetfulness of God, and at the same

time this surprising ignorance of their real condition.


The Septuagint rendering is εὕρηκα ἀναψυχὴν ἐμαυτῷ - euraeka

Anapsuchaen emauto - I have found refreshment for myself - and Jerome,

Inveni mihi idolum,” as if אָוֶש ; had been read instead of  און“in all my labors

they shall find none iniquity in me that were sin.” -  margin, all my labors

 suffice me not: he shall bare punishment of iniquity in whom is sin. Here two

modes of construction are possible and each has had its advocates; thus, יְנִיעַי may



  • the subject of the verb, as in the Septuagint, which is, “None of his labors

shall be found available for him on account of the sins he has committed.”

This is the rendering followed and interpreted by Cyril and Theodoret.


  • The words in question, instead of being taken as the subject to the

verb, may be employed absolutely or with the ellipsis of a preposition, as in

the Authorized Version; thus: “As to my labors, or the fruits of my labors,”

for  יני is used in both senses.


The meaning of the passage then is that, besides the sins of fraud and oppression,

Ephraim did not shrink through shame to vindicate his conduct and to maintain that 

in all the riches he had acquired with such labor, no one could show that those

riches had been unjustly acquired by him, or that there was sin contracted

in their acquisition. Thus Kimchi: “He (the prophet) mentions another vice,

saying that he (Ephraim) oppresses, and asserts that, in all he has labored

for and gathered together, they shall not be able to find any riches of iniquity

and sin. אי תי  is the same as iniquity and sin, and thus (Ecclesiastes 5:18)

‘it is good and comely’ (asher here also for vau).


Or the explanation of it is:  They shall not find with me iniquity. nor any matter in

which there is sin pertaining to me. And חי is less than עי  iniquity, for sin comes

sometimes by reason of error.


Or the explanation of ‘iniquity which were is: Iniquity in which there was sin to me;

as if he said, with regard to which I had sinned; for if riches came into my hand

through iniquity and robbery, it was not with my knowledge; he means: so that I

sinned in relation to it, and took it by iniquity with my knowledge; and in this way

(Leviticus 22:16) ‘they lade themselves with the iniquity of trespass; עי being in

construct state, that is to say, iniquity with regard to which they trespassed.” לִי 

signifies "belonging to me;" while חטא  is read, not as a noun, but as a verb in the Septuagint, α{ς ἅμαρτεν.-has hamartenthat is sin..


(The Chaldee, which is explained by Rashi, gives an explanation

identical, though only partially so, with the marginal rendering of the

Authorized Version, namely, “It were good for thee if thou consideredst

with thyself: all my riches do not suffice me, in order to expiate the iniquity

which I have committed.” This, and the marginal reading — both where

they coincide and where they diverge — we must unhesitatingly reject as

far-fetched, artificial, and having no real basis in the text. To their other

sins Israel added this protestation of innocence, which was the solemn

protestation of a falsehood.


The clause may admit another sense; thus: If in my gains by labor iniquity should

be found, that indeed would be sin; but such is not the case. Thus, like the

Pharisees of a later age, did they justify themselves before men; but God

knew their hollow-hearted hypocrisy.


9 “And I that am the Lord thy God from the land of Egypt will

yet make thee to dwell in tabernacles, as in the days of the solemn

feast.”  This verse consists of two parts which in the original are

coordinated; but in the Authorized Version the one is subordinated to the

other by supplying an awkward and unnecessary ellipsis. It is better,

therefore, to translate thus: And I am the Lord thy God, from the land of

Egypt: I will yet make thee to dwell in tabernacles, as in the days of the

solemn feast. Some understand this verse as a threatening; not a few as a

promise; while others combine both.


  • Theodoret, who may be taken as representing the first class of

interpreters, comments thus: “That thou mayest understand this and learn

wisdom by thy calamity, I will bring thee back again to that point that thou

must again dwell in tents and wander as an exile in a foreign land.”


  • Kimchi may represent those who understand it as a promise, or rather a

promise with an implied threatening, and thus combine both. His exposition

is as follows: “Even so am I ready to bring you forth out of the captivity

where ye shall Be, as I did when I brought you forth out of the land of

Egypt, and sustained you in the wilderness and made you dwell in tents; so

am I ready yet again, when I shall have brought you forth out of the lands

of the Gentiles, to cause you to dwell in tents in the wilderness by the way,

and to show you wonders until ye shall return to your land in peace.”


  • Wunsche rejects both the preceding, and refers the statement to the

other, present time, taking עוד, not in the sense of “yet again,” but in the

equally allowable meaning of “further,” or “still further;” thus his rendering

of the verse is, “And yet I am thy God from Egypt, still I let thee dwell in

tents, as in the days of the solemn feast.” Thus we have a remembrance of

God’s goodness to Israel all along from the Exodus to the time then

present, including the celebration of their feasts, especially that of Taberuncles,

the most joyful of them all. This is favored by the interpretation of

Aben Ezra, which is the following: “The sense is, ‘Shouldst thou not

remember that I brought thee up out of the land of Egypt in great riches for

which thou didst not labor, and nourished thee in the wilderness when thou

wast in tents?’ In like manner he shall be able to do unto thee as in the days

of the solemn feast of thy coming out of Egypt.”


We prefer, notwithstanding, the exposition (Kimchi) which includes, or rather

implies, a threatening of being driven out of their good land into a

wilderness state, because of their forgetfulness of, and ingratitude to, God,

as also because of their proud self-confidence; while, with this implied

threat of punishment, God holds out to them the promise and prospect of

like guiding care and sheltering guardianship, as in that early period of their

history, the remembrance of which was still kept up by the moed, or Feast

of Tabernacles, during the seven days of which the people dwelt in booths,

in commemoration of their having dwelt in booths in the wilderness after

they had been delivered out of the land of Egypt. Thus, as Hengstenberg

has well observed, “the preterite is changed into a future through the

ingratitude of the nation.”


Verses 10 and 11 prove God’s continual care for the spiritual welfare and

best interests of Israel all along, and, at the same time, the inexcusableness

of Israel in forgetting God and in arrogating to themselves the power of

controlling their own destinies in the matter of wealth and prosperity; while

multiplied prophecies and visions testified to both, viz. to God’s care and

Israel’s recklessness of warnings. Moreover, their persistence in sin

prepared them for and precipitated the punishment.


10 “I have also spoken to the prophets, and I have multiplied

visions, and used similitudes, by the ministry of the prophets.” The vau

before the verb in the beginning of the verse is copulative, and the verb is

in the preterite as the accent is on the penult; if the vau were conversive of

the preterite into the future, the verb would have the accent on the ultimate.

The preterite denotes what has been taking place up to the present. עִל is

Explained by Knobel to denote that the Divine revelation or inspiration

Descended on the prophets from heaven; but Kimchi explains it as equivalent

to אִם with; thus: “‘Upon (עִל) the prophets ‘ is the same as ‘ with (אִם) the

prophets,’ as (in Exodus 35:32), ‘And they came both men and women [literally,

‘men,”  עַל "with, or rather in addition to, women’]. He (Jehovah) says, ‘What

could I do o you and I did not do it, so that ye should not forget me? And what

did I do with your fathers? I spoke constantly with the prophets to admonish you

from me, and I multiplied visions to you many days.’”


The Authorized Version employs “by” as the equivalent of עַל here. The

pronoun vanoki is emphatic, viz. “I even I,” as though He said, “I and not

another;” while the preterite proves Jehovah to have continued His visions

to the very moment at which the prophet speaks. To the word אַדַמֶּה,

use similitudes, some supply a verbal noun of corporate sense, דְמוּתות or 

דִמְיוּנִים This, however, is unnecessary, as a verb often includes its

cognate noun, of which we have several similar ellipses, e.g. Genesis

6:4, “They bare children [יְלָדִים ] understood] to them;” also Jeremiah 1:9,

“They shall set themselves in array [הֲערָכָה  understood] against her.”


The Septuagint has ὡμοιώθην homoiothaen - I was represented; and

Jerome renders it assimilatus sum. The three modes of Divine communication

here referred to are:


  • prediction,
  • vision, and
  • similitude.


The word for vision, חָזון, is used here as a collective; it differs from the dream

in being higher degree of Divine revelation, also the senses of the receiver are

awake and active, while in the dream they are inoperative and passive. Of the

similitude, again, we have examples in Isaiah’s parable of a vineyard (Isaiah 5.),

and in Ezekiel’s similitude of a wretched infant, to represent the natural state of

Jerusalem (Ezekiel 16:1-6).  Aben Ezra remarks, I have established emblems and

comparisons that ye might understand me;” and Kimchi, “I have given emblems

and parables by means of the prophets, as Isaiah says, ‘My well-beloved hath a

vineyard’ (Isaiah 5:1);  and Ezekiel, ‘Thy birth and thy nativity is of the land

of Canaan.’ And the explanation of dyb is that by their hand He sends them

emblems and similitudes as (Leviticus 10:11) ‘which the Lord hath spoken unto

them by the hand of Moses’” Thus, GOD LEFT NO MEANS OF





    God’s Method in Teaching the Great Teachers of the World (v.10)


I have also spoken by the prophets, and I have multiplied visions, and

used similitudes, by the ministry of the prophets.” God is the great Teacher

of mankind. “Who teaches like Him?” He teaches the best lessons, in the

best way and for the best purpose; He teaches man through the works of

nature, and through the best of men. God has always employed prophets in

His great school for humanity. Into every age He has sent men above the

average of the race — men gifted with high intellect, lofty genius, and

special inspiration. They are evermore His prophets, and these He Himself

teaches; they are in His “normal school.” He teaches them that they may

teach others. The text indicates His method of teaching them.


  • BY VISIONS. He gives to those men inner revelations, unfolds to them

spiritual realities, opens their spiritual eyes, and BIDS THEM LOOK!  What

wonderful visions Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Paul, and the Apostle John had!

They saw wonderful things; but what they saw was not with the outward

eye, but with the eye of the soul. These visions serve to show three things.


Ø      The distinguishing glory of the human mind. What is that? It is a

Power to see the sensuously invisible, the universe that lies beyond the ken of mortal sight. What a universe came to the eye of the sightless

bard of England! In some this visual organ is keener and more active

than in others. He who has it in the highest extent is the poet, the

prophet, emphatically the seer.


Ø      The accessibility of the human mind to God. Man can only address

the mind through the senses; the Almighty can do it when all the

senses are closed up, in the “visions of the night.” He can take into

it at His pleasure a whole universe, and bid it gaze on its objects and

listen to its sounds.


Ø      The reality of spiritual things. The bodily eye does not see realities,

but mere forms and shadows. The soul alone can see the real, hence

God brings the real into it.  (The body connects the soul with the

world; the soul connects the body  with the spirit; the spirit connects

the soul with God – CY – 2012)  By visions I think the Almighty

has ever taught the great thinkers of mankind, not only in ancient

but in modern times. All the true discoveries of men of science

God told man in the Garden of Eden to “subdue the earth” which

means “find out its secrets” (Genesis 1:28),  all the creations of

sacred bards, all the flashes of the true evangel, are but visions

from God. “In visions of the night.”


  • BY SIMILITUDE. “And used similitudes.” By this is meant, He

showed them the invisible by the visible, the spiritual by the sensuous. He

gave them parables. “Without a parable spake he not unto them” (Mark

4:34).  Hence the prophets spoke in parables; and the great Prophet of the

world, who was like unto Moses. There are good reasons for this mode of teaching spiritual truth. Two may be mentioned:


Ø      It makes the spiritual more attractive. All men, whether they will

or not, from their very bodily constitutions are vitally interested in material objects. They live in them and by them; and without direct impressions from God, we can scarcely conceive of spiritual truth

being made clear to them but by their means. (Even my 2 ½ year

old grandson likes to go in the attic and browse around – CY – 2012)


Ø      It makes the material appear more Divine. Flowers, trees, streams,

and stars, when they have become emblems to the soul of spiritual

truth, become invested with a mystic charm. The picture that has

hung in your room for years, and on which your eyes have rested a thousand times, becomes invested with a strange fascination after

you have made the acquaintance and come to love the person whom

it represents. Thank God for His parabolic method of teaching.



Extent of Israel’s Apostasy (vs. 7-10)


  • Here we are shown now FOR ISRAEL HAD APOSTATIZED, how

unlike they were to the patriarch of whom they boasted, and how far they

fell short of admonitions that had been addressed to them.


Ø      They were like the Canaanite whom they despised than the

patriarch from whom they were descended. They had become more

like fraudulent merchants than God-fearing members of the Church

of God. To fraud they added oppression where they had the power.


Ø      The love of money was the root of this evil trait of Jewish

character — a trait that shows itself too frequently at the present

day, and which is not confined to the Jew, but comprehends the

Gentile also (See I Timothy 6:9-10).  Men hasten to be rich,

and cannot long be INNOCENT!


Ø      There is no greater aggravation of sin than the love of it. The

people of Israel at the period specified were not only addicted to the

sin of covetousness or greediness of gain, but were actually enamored

of their sin. One of the worst features of wicked men, which the apostle

has so vividly photographed in that black catalogue of sin, is that,

“knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such

things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have

 pleasure in them that do them.” (Romans 1:32)


Ø      Men addicted to covetousness and whose hearts are set on getting

gain make light of the doctrines of religion. Thus in the days of

our Lord “the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these

things: and they derided Him” (Luke 16:14).  Sacred truths and

Divine mysteries were despised, while the ways and means of amassing

wealth were their delight. So here the connection of v. 7 may be the

prophet’s complaint of his countrymen’s neglect of his exhortations,

owing to their covetousness. “The scope of the prophet and the

connection here is — We may exhort, but so long as their hearts are

covetous, and set upon their way of getting gain, they will never regard

what we say; they will not turn to God, they will not hear of it, but will

rather turn a deaf ear to all entreaties.”


  • EXCUSES FOR SIN. Here we see how wicked men excuse themselves

and palliate their sins.


Ø      Success furnishes them with a plausible plea for self-vindication. The

prosperity of fools, we are told, destroys them; while the worldly

prosperity of the wicked is frequently fatal to their SPIRITUAL

WELFARE.”  (Proverbs 1:32)  “Fret not thyself because of him

who prospereth in his way,” says the psalmist, afterwards adding,

“for evil-doers shall be cut off” (Psalm 37:1; 34:16).  It has been

well and truly said that “prosperity in sinful ways is an old snare,

hindering men from heeding challenges or God’s anger because of them.”


Ø      The boastful spirit of the wicked; they glory in their gains as self-

procured; they attribute all to their own skill, or strength, or ingenuity, or

industry, or ability, and refuse to acknowledge God. Nor is it, indeed,

possible they should, for how could they bless God for what they have

acquired by sin or gained by fraudulent dealing?  (“If I regard

iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” – Psalm 66:18)


Ø      False refuges to which wicked men resort: they divest themselves of all

dread of Divine displeasure or of danger on the ground of prosperity; they

force themselves to believe that if their conduct were either displeasing to

God or fraught with danger to themselves, they would not be so

prosperous in getting gain or have such success in sin. Another false

refuge is to seek relief for a guilty conscience from the outward comforts

procurable by ill-gotten gain.  (Beware of the way of Cain!  - Jude 1:11 –

CY – 2012).  Other false shifts or hypocritical evasions are, as is here

intimated, resorted to by sinners. Sometimes they gloss over their sins

with fair names; thus their dishonesties, whether by fraud or force, take

the name of the fruits of their labors, the earnings of their industry, or

the profits of their calling. Sometimes they depend on secrecy and defy

detection, and, while they feel themselves free from discovery, they

fancy themselves safe in their sin, as though the eye of God did not

penetrate such thin disguises, or as if God had not said, “Be sure

your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).  Sometimes they

hypocritically profess abhorrence of sins they habitually practice; or, if

they acknowledge sin at all, they salve their wounds of conscience by

he consideration that their sins are very venial offences, and such as are

incidental to their situation, or common to their calling, or peculiar to

their trade. Thus they minimize their culpability and impose on their

own souls.


  • EFFECTS OF SIN. God’s goodness, which is designed to lead men to

repent of sin (Romans 2:4), aggravates the sin of the impenitent.


Ø      God’s claims on Israel’s gratitude had been, indeed, mighty and

manifold, as well as from ancient times. The glorious deliverances

He had wrought for them, the low estate from which He had lifted

them, the great exaltation to which He had raised them, the good

land into which He had brought them, the rich grace He had

bestowed on them, and the religious privileges He had conferred

on them,all these blessings, having been ABUSED,  increased

the sin of their ingratitude and INTENSIFIED THEIR GUILT!


Ø      God cannot hold the sinner guiltless. Sin, wherever it is found or by

whomsoever it is committed, cannot pass unpunished. The offences

of God’s own dear children bring down chastisement upon them;

He will not spare their faults. A father does not love his son less

because he corrects him; he pities while he punishes; his bowels of compassion move while his hand holds the rod. So Israel, having

been unmindful of God’s mercy, must be exiled from their goodly

pleasant land, and go into a bondage BAD AS OR WORSE THAN

Egypt of yore.


Ø      Yet God for all that does not renounce His interest in His people;

He will give them occasion again to remember His goodness and to celebrate His redeeming love. Their preservation and restoration

should again afford abundant matter for gladness and thanksgiving,

when they would join trembling with their mirth, and celebrate the

solemn Feast of Tabernacles, with joy drawing water out of the wells

of salvation (Isaiah 12:3).  Whether the reference be to a literal joyful restoration of Israel to their own land, or a glad time of revival and refreshing to all the trueIsrael of God, whether Gentile or Jew

in gospel times, the encouragement is gracious and the prospect

glorious.  Nor is it less so from the contrast between the chastisement

so deserved and the consolation promised.





Ø      To his people in the past God spake at sundry times and in divers

manners (Hebrews 1:1, or in divers portions, as they needed or

could bear it, and in divers ways, by prophecy, by visions, by

similitudes (v.10), and by the ministry of the Word. The means

of grace were thus ABUNDANT and MULTIPLIED.


Ø      However different the modes of ministration were, the speaker was

still one and the same. It is God who thus speaks to us by His

messengers. If we reject the message and the messenger that brings

it, we reject the Author; if we receive the message from the lips of

the messenger, we receive Him who gave the commission.  (“He

that receiveth you, receiveth me, and he that receiveth me

receiveth Him that sent me.  He that receiveth a prophet in

the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and

he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous

man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.”  - Matthew 10:

40-41).  What a grave responsibility! What need to take heed

how we hear as well as what we hear!  (Luke 8:18)  And how

incumbent on ministers also to take good heed, not only to the

matter, but to the manner in which they convey the message

they have received, remembering that they stand between the

living and the dead, like Aaron when he took his censer and

ran into the midst of the congregation till the plague was stayed.

(Numbers 16:46-48)


Ø      The inexcusableness of those who, like Israel, enjoy so many

privileges.  The plainness, the variety, and the frequency of the

DIVINE TEACHING,  impose a weighty responsibility, for unto

whomsoever much is given, of them much shall be required

(Luke 12:48),  it is even a human principle practiced among men,

that to whomsoever men have committed much, of him they ask

the more. How God has left us all without excuse, seeing that in

these days of light and liberty GOD HAS GIVEN US SUCH A

CLEAR REVELATION OF HIS WILL,  so many ministries to

explain and enforce  it, so much freedom to exercise our

 judgment upon it, and derive light and leading from it, while

we sit, like Israel of old, under our vine and fig tree in peace

and safety, none daring to make us afraid!  (Micah 4:4)


11 “Is there iniquity in Gilead? surely they are vanity:” -  The first part of

this clause has been variously rendered.  Some take אִם affirmatively, in the sense

of certainly, assuredly; others translate it interrogatively, as in the Authorized Version,

though even thus it would be more accurately rendered: Is Gilead iniquity?   Pusey,

following the common version, explains it as follows: ‘The prophet asks the question

in order to answer it more peremptorily. He raises the doubt in order to

crush it the more impressively.’ Is there iniquity in Gilead?Alas! there

was nothing else. Surely they are vanity; or, strictly, they have become

merely vanity.” There does not appear, however, sufficient reason for

departing from the ordinary meaning of the word,  namely, if thus, If Gilead is

 iniquity (worthlessness), surely they have become vanity. The clause thus

rendered may denote one of two things — either:


  • moral worthlessness followed by physical nothingness, that is, moral

decay followed by physical — sin succeeded by suffering; or


  • progress in moral corruption.


To the former exposition corresponds the comment of Kimchi, as follows: “‘If Gilead

began to work vanity (nothingness),’ for they began to do wickedness first, and they

have been first carried into captivity. אך שׁ can connect itself with what precedes, so

that its meaning is about Gilead which he has mentioned, and the sense

would be repeated in different words. Or its sense shall be in connection

with Gilgal. And although zakeph is on the word היו, all the accents of the

interpreters do not follow after the accents of the points.” Similarly Rashi:

“If disaster and oppression come upon them (the Gileadites) they have

caused it to themselves, for certainly they are worthlessness, and sacrifice

bullocks to idols in Gilgal. The verb הָיוּ is a prophetic perfect implying the

certainty of the prediction, as though already an accomplished fact.” The

exposition of Aben Ezra favors the second -  thus: “If the Gileadites, before I sent

prophets to them, were worthlessness, surely they have become vanity, that

is, instead of being morally better, they have become worse.” To this

exposition we find a parallel in Jeremiah 2:5, “They have walked after

vanity, and are become vain.”  - “they sacrifice bullocks in Gilgal;” –

שְׁוָרים for שׁוםרים, like חֲוָחִים from חוחַ.. The inhabitants of Gilgal on

the west were no better than the Gileadites on the east of Jordan; the whole

kingdom, in fact, was overrun with idolatry. The sin of the people of Gilgal

did not consist in the animals offered, but in the unlawfulness of the place

of sacrifice. The punishment of both Gilgal and Gilead is denounced in the

following part of the verse – “yea, their altars are as heaps in the furrows

of the fields.”  Gilead signified “heap of witnesses,” and Gilgal “heaping

heap”. The latter was mentioned in ch.4:15 and 9:15 as a notable

center of idol-worship (“all their wickedness is in Gilgal”) and retained, as

we learn from the present passage, its notoriety for unlawful sacrifices,

sacrifices customarily and continually offered (viz. iterative sense of Piel);

the former was signalized in ch.6:8 as “a city of them that work

iniquity,” and “polluted with blood.” The altars in both places are to be

turned into stone-heaps; this is expressed by a play on words so frequent in

Hebrew; at Gilead as well as Gilgal they are to become gallim, or heaps of

stones, such as husbandmen gather off ploughed and leave in useless heaps

for the greater convenience of removal, חֶלֶם, (related to tell, a hill, that

which is thrown up) is a furrow as formed by casting up or tearing into.

The ruinous heaps of the altars implied, not only their destruction, but the

desolation of the country. The altars would become dilapidated heaps, and

the country depopulated. The Hebrew interpreters, however, connect with

the heap-like altars the idea of number and conspicuousness: this they

make prominent as indicating the gross idolatry of the people. Thus Rabbi:

“Their altars are numerous as heaps in the furrows of the field. תי שי  is the

furrow of the plougher, called telem;” Aben Ezra: כני is by way of figure,

because they were numerous and conspicuous.” Pococke combines with

the idea of number that of ruinous heaps — “rude heaps of stones, in his

sight; and such they should become, no one stone being left in order upon

another.” Kimchi’s comment on the verse is the following: “The children of

Gilgal were neighbors to the land of Gilead, only the Jordan was between

them; they learnt also their ways (doings), and began to serve idols like

them, and to practice iniquity and vanity, and sacrificed oxen to strange

gods in the place where they had raised an altar to Jehovah the blessed, and

where they had set up the tabernacle at the first after they had passed over

Jordan: there also they sacrificed oxen to their idols. Not enough that they

made an altar in Gilgal to idols, but they also built outside the city altars

many and conspicuous, like heaps of stones on the furrows of the field.”


12 “And Jacob fled into the country of Syria, and Israel

served for a wife, and for a wife he kept sheep.   13 And by a prophet the

Lord brought Israel out of Egypt, and by a prophet was he preserved.”

The connection of this verse with what precedes has been variously

explained. The flight of Israel and his servitude are intended, according to

Umbreit, “to bring out the double servitude of Israel — the first, the one

which the people had to endure in their forefather; the second, the one

which they had to endure themselves in Egypt.” Cyril and Theodoret

understand them to give prominence to Jacob’s zeal for the blessing of the

birthright, and his obedience to the command of God and his parents.

Pusey says, “Jacob chose poverty and servitude rather than marry an

idolatress of Canaan. He knew not whence, except from God’s bounty and

providence, he should have bread to eat or raiment to put on; with his staff

alone he passed over Jordan (Genesis 32:10).  His voluntary poverty, bearing

even unjust losses, and repaying the things which he never took, reproved their

dishonest traffic; his trustfulness in God, their mistrust; his devotedness to

God, their alienation from Him and their devotion to idols.” There may be

an element of truth in each of these explanations, and an approximation to

the true sense; but none of them tallies exactly with the context. There is a

contrast between the flight of the lonely tribe-father across the Syrian

desert, and the guidance of his posterity by a prophet of the Lord through

the wilderness; Jacob’s servitude in Padan-aram with Israel’s redemption

from the bondage of Egypt; the guarding of sheep by the patriarch with the

Shepherd of Israel’s guardian-care of them by His prophet when he led

them to Canaan. Thus the distress and affliction of Jacob are contrasted

with the exaltation of his posterity. The great object of this contrast is to

impress the people with the goodness of God to them in lifting them up out

of the lowest condition, and to inspire them with gratitude to God for such

unmerited elevation and with thankful yet humble acknowledgment of his

mercy. Calvin’s explanation is at once correct and clear; it is the following:

“Their father Jacob, who was he? what was his condition? He was a

fugitive from his country. Even if he had always lived at home, his father

was only a stranger in the land. But he was compelled to fit into Syria. And

how splendidly did he live there? He was with his uncle, no doubt, but he

was treated quite as meanly as any common slave: he served for a wife.

And how did he serve? He was the man that tended the cattle.” This, it

may be observed, was the lowest and the meanest, the hardest and worst

kind of servitude. In like manner Ewald directs attention to the wonderful

care of Divine providence manifested to Jacob in his straits, in his flight to

Syria, in his sojourn there as a shepherd, and also to Israel his posterity

delivered out of Egypt by the hand of Moses and sustained in the

wilderness so that one scarcely knows what to think of Israel who, without

encountering such PERILS  and DISTRESSES,  and out of SHEER


BENEFACTOR!  Such is the substance of Ewald’s view, which presents

one aspect of the case, though he does not bring out so fully the fact of Israel’s

elevation and the humble thankfulness that SHOULD BE EXHIBITED

 therefore. The  exposition of the Hebrew commentators agrees in the main with

what we have given. Rashi says, “Jacob fled to the field of Aram, etc., as a man

who says, ‘Let us return to the former narrative which we spoke of above;’ and

he wrestles with the angel; and this further have I done unto him; as he was obliged

to fly to the field of Aram ye know how I guarded him, and for a wife he kept sheep.”

“Ye ought to consider,” says Aben Ezra, “that your father when he fled to Syria

was poor, and so he says, ‘And He will give me bread to eat’ (Genesis 28:20).

And he served for a wife,’ and this is, ‘Have I not served thee for

Rachel?’ ‘And for a wife he kept sheep ;’ and ‘I made him rich.’” The

exposition of Kimchi is much fuller, and is as follows: “And they do not

remember the goodness which I exercised with their father, when he fled

from his brother Esau. Yea, when he was there it was necessary for him to

serve Laban for a wife, that he should give him his daughter, and the

service consisted in keeping his sheep, and so for the other daughter which

he gave him he kept his sheep in like manner. And I am He that was with

him and blessed him, so that he returned thence with riches and substance.

And further, I showed favor to his sons who descended into Egypt and

were in bondage there; and I sent to them a prophet who brought them up

out of Egypt with much substance, and he was Moses. The forty years they

were in the wilderness they were guarded by means of a prophet whom I

gave them, and they wanted nothing. But all these benefits they forget,

 and provoke me to anger by abominations and no-gods.”


14 “Ephraim provoked Him to auger most bitterly: therefore

shall He leave his blood upon him, and his reproach shall his Lord

return unto him.”  Instead of humble thankfulness and due devotedness,

Ephraim provoked Him to anger most bitterly. Therefore his blood-guiltiness

and consequent punishment are left upon him; his sin and its

consequences are not taken away. The dishonor done to God by Ephraim’s

idolatry and sins shall bring back a sure recompense and severe retribution.



Reproofs and Remembrancers (vs. 11-14)




Ø      The richest temporal blessings are blighted by sin. Gilead was a

fruitful and pleasant region, as may be inferred from references to

it in Scripture, as when God says, “Thou art Gilead unto me, and

the head of Lebanon: yet surely I will make thee a wilderness,”

and when its productions are spoken of, and its pasturages celebrated.

It is still a beautiful district, with its hills and dales, wooded slopes, luxuriant pastures, lovely flowers, and refreshing streamlets. In

addition to the natural advantages of the country, there was the

city of Gilead, where the ministers of religion on the other side of

Jordan dwelt. But sin sadly marred this fair and fertile land; so with

many a region “where every prospect pleases, and only man is vile.”

The inhabitants are branded as transgressors of both tables of the

Divine Law; iniquity characterized their conduct towards man, and idolatry their worship of God; while the priests, instead of hindering,

only helped the people in their sinful service. However incredible

it might appear, nevertheless it was a fact; nor were they improving

at the time to which the prophet refers — nay, they seem to have

been going from BAD TO WORSE!


Ø      The vanity of will-worship. Will-worship may show much zeal, as

appears to have been the case with the Gileadites; yet, without a

Divine warrant, it is vanity all the same. They contravened the

institution of the Most High, which had appointed ONE


Church Age, there is “ONE LORD, ONE FAITH, ONE



(Ephesians 4:5-6)   Severely, too, had they suffered for their sins. Inhabiting a border-land, they were exposed to the inroads and

attacks of enemies, and much needed the Divine protection; but

by their sins had forfeited that protection. (Liberal America gets

upset when attention is called to the tragedy of 9/11 as being

prevented, had America stayed true to God!  Carp all they want,

Progressives do no comprehend the teaching of God’s Word which

says,  “When a man’s ways please the Lord, He maketh even

his enemies to be at peace with him.”  - Proverbs 16:7 – And

why does not the Liberal Progressive understand?  There are

two reasons:  first, Like Cain, their own works are evil, and

his fundamentalist brother, righteous!  - I John 4:12; second,

the idea is foolishness to him, neither can he know them,

because he is not SPIRITUALLY DISCERNED!  -

I Corinthians 2:14 – CY – 2012)  Consequently they “were

threshed,” as a contemporary prophet tells us, “with threshing instruments of iron”  (Amos 1:3), and, being among the first

that fell under the power of Assyria, they were carried away

captive from their goodly, pleasant land.


Ø      Superstition no substitute for spiritual service. Nearness to God in

outward relation or profession may coexist with absence of right

religious principle; and where such is the case, outward observances neither secure from sin nor shield from its punishment. Thus the people

of Gilgal, though west of the Jordan and belonging to Judah, were

nearer the temple, and so nearer in outward relation to its worship,

yet were quite as bad as the trans-Jordanic Gileadites. They had the externals of religion, and were no doubt zealous about them; they presented rich sacrifices and possessed numerous altars; but the

altars they had set up were either to strange gods in opposition to

the true God, or to the true God in opposition to his own

appointment. “Whosoever they be, this side or the other, who profess

to come nearest, if they mingle their own inventions in worship, God

will be more sorely displeased with them: the more piety and holiness,

the more we profess to come close to the Word of God, and yet withal mingle our own inventions, the more is God displeased; Gilgal offends more than Gilead.”


  • REMEMBRANCERS OF MERCY. They magnified their ancestor

Jacob, but misread his history; they gloried in his greatness, but forsook the

God who made him great. It is a common thing for people to boast of their

family and forefathers, however much they may have degenerated from

those forefathers; and not infrequently, the more they have degenerated the

louder is their boasting.


Ø      God reminds them of the humble origin and lowly condition of the

patriarch, of whom they boasted so much as their progenitor. The

facts of which He thus reminds them conveyed instruction to them,

and teach valuable practical lessons still.


o       The flight of the patriarch; his exile in Padan-aram; his

poverty and servitude; having no dowry to give, his service

was substituted instead; his hard shepherd-life; — all these

were calculated to teach humility, and to put an end to the

vanity of their boasting.


o       Though Jacob had been obliged in early life to turn his back on

his father’s house, he never turned his back upon his fathers

God, or the worship of that God. Here was another lesson, at

least by implication, for his descendants to learn. In

circumstances unspeakably more favorable they had turned

aside from both, and wasted their energies in sinful courses

and selfish idolatry, either vainly worshipping God, or

transferring the worship due to Him to those vanities that

were no gods. Thus the lesson of their sad apostasy was

next to be unlearned.


o       The secret of Jacobs success was the blessing of God whom

he sought and served. God prospered him and multiplied his

seed until they became a great people. Here was cause for gratitude, not for vain-glorying. Another lessen which Israel behooved to learn; and not Israel only, but all who at

any time or in any land experience the loving-kindness of the

Lord. If we are put in possession of great privileges, if we

attain to a position of usefulness and influence, and if we are honored in God’s service, let us not forget the lowliness of our origin on the one hand, nor fail to magnify the grace of God

 in our exaltation on the other; in that grace alone may we



Ø      He reminds them of that great event of their history, that ever-

memorable deliverance out of Egypt.


o       From this He will have His people learn that when they are

brought low by afflictive providences, and suffer severely

under the rod of correction, God may be thus preparing

them for rich blessings to themselves, and training them for

future usefulness in His service. This should promote

patient submission, and prevent all unseemly murmuring and

sinful complaining.


o       The way and means of their deliverance were fraught with

other profitable instructions. The blessing of deliverance was

great, not only for present relief, but subsequent preservation.

The Author of it was Jehovah, to whom all the praise and

glory were due and ever to be ascribed; the agent, a prophet

whom God honored in accomplishing His high purpose for

the benefit of His people.


  • RETRIBUTION THREATENED. Punishment is slow, but sure.


Ø      Notwithstanding all the warnings and instructions and remembrancers,

Ephraim persisted in sin, and that of the most provoking kind. Instead

of good grapes being produced in the highly favored vineyard of the

Lord, Ephraim’s grapes were grapes of gall and clusters of bitterness.

God here speaks after the manner of men who are provoked by the

gross misconduct and affronts from their fellow-men, especially from those whom they have served and benefited. In like manner, despite

is said to be done to the Spirit of grace, and the Son of God put to an open shame  (Hebrews 10:29; 6:6).  How dreadful this misconduct of man, a worm of the dust in relation to GOD, THAT INFINITE



Ø      Ruin irremediable cannot fail to be the result. The ruin, too, is self-procured.  So with sinners still: they have themselves, not God, to

blame; God will not hold them guiltless, yet the fault lies at their

own door; their blood is on their own head; THEIR LIFE IS

FORFEITED  but it is their own doing; they are MORAL



Ø      Ephraim by iniquity and idolatry had brought dishonor on the Name

and people of God. Sinners cause God’s Name to be blasphemed;

they bring reproach on our holy religion. This reproach must be

rolled away; but it shall at the same time be rolled over or back on

those who have occasioned it. Those that bring contempt on religion

shall have the finger of scorn and contempt pointed at themselves

in the end; those that despise God shall be lightly esteemed; and

those who bring reproach upon His cause shall have that reproach

returned unto themselves even in this world, while IN THE

ETERNAL WORLD they shall awake up to SHAME and





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