Hosea 3

 

This short chapter contains two sections, of which the first, comprising

vs. 1-3, is a symbolic representation; and the second, consisting of vs. 4- 5,

gives the explanation. The prophet bestows his affections on a worthless wife,

who, notwithstanding his tender love to her, proves utterly unfaithful and lives

in adultery. He does not cast her off, but, in order to reclaim her and bring her to

repentance, he places her in a position of restraint, where she is obliged to

renounce all intercourse with her paramours. Thus it was with Israel. They had

had multiplied experience of God’s loving-kindness and tender mercies, but

in spite of all His benefits, great and manifold, they were alike ungrateful and

unfaithful. The remainder of the chapter foretells the long and sorrowful

abandonment of Israel, as though forgotten by God and forsaken by man; and

closes with an outlook into the far-off future, when Israel’s correction would

issue in THEIR CONVERSION, so that they would return to the Lord their God

and David their king in the latter days.

 

1  Then said the Lord unto me, Go yet, love a woman beloved of her friend,

yet an adulteress, according to the love of the Lord toward the children of

Israel, who look to other gods, and love flagons of wine.”  The general meaning

of this verse is well given in the Chaldee Targum: “Go, utter a prophecy against

 the house of Israel, who are like a woman very dear to her husband, and who,

though she is unfaithful to him, is nevertheless so greatly loved by him that he

is unwilling to put her away.  Such is the love of the Lord towards Israel; but

they turn aside to the idols of the nations.” The word mr is in contrast with

techillath, as the second part of Jehovah’s continued discourse. It is erroneously

and, contrary to the accents, constructed with “said” by Kimchi and others (Ewald

considers it admissible, Umbreit preferable). Kimchi’s comment on this

verse is: “After the prophet finished his words of consolation, he returns to

words of censure, turning to the men of his own time. And it is the custom

of the prophets to intermingle reproofs with consolations in their

discourses. But he says yet (again), because he had already commanded

him to marry a wife of whoredoms, and now he speaks to him another

parable.” This time he does not employ the ordinary and usual word

take,” but “love.” plainly implying that he had already married her, so that

her unfaithfulness took place in wedlock; or rather indicating the object of

the union. Beloved of her friend, yet an adulteress. Her friend or companion is:

 

  • her lawful husband, but contemporaneously and continuously with her

husband’s love to her are her adulteries with others, as is implied by the

participles.

 

  • [re, being indefinite as not having article or suffix, is understood by

some to be an acquaintance or lover, and preferred, as a milder term, to

bhea"m]. The contrast was realized in Jehovah’s love for Israel,

notwithstanding their spiritual adultery in worshipping other gods.

According to the love of the Lord toward the children of Israel who

look (turn) to other gods. Two expressions in this clause recall, if they

do not actually reflect, the words of two older Scriptures; thus in

Deuteronomy 7:8 we read, “Because the Lord loved you;” and in

Ibid. ch. 31:18, “They are turned unto ether gods.”

 

  • The Septuagint has gunai~ka ajgapw~san ponhra> - gunaika

agaposan ponaeralove a wicked woman having probably read

[r" tb,h,ao. And love flagons of wine (margin, grapes). The term ashishe,

according to Rashi and Aben Ezra, means “bowls,” that is, “bowls of wine”

(literally, “of grapes”). They probably connected the word with the root

shesh, six, a sextorius, and hence any other wine-vessel. The Septuagint,

however, renders the word pe>mmata meta< stafi>dov pemmata meta

staphidos -  cakes with dried grapes. This meaning is to be preferred,

whether we derive the word from vv"ai, to press together, or from vae, fire;

according to the former and correct derivation, the sense being cakes of

grapes pressed together; according to the latter, cakes baked with fire.

Gesenius differentiates the word from qWMxi, dried grapes, but not pressed

together into a cake, and from hl"beD], figs pressed together into a cake.

These raisin-cakes were regarded as luxuries and used as delicacies; hence

a fondness for such indicated a proneness to sensual indulgence, and

figuratively the sensuous service belonging to idol-worship.

 

“According to the love of the Lord toward the children of Israel.”

This exquisitely beautiful phrase comes in the midst of a passage of the

most painful and distressing character. As a fond husband may tenderly

love his wife, even though she abandon herself to a course of infidelity and

profligacy, so the God of Israel is represented as cherishing towards His

people, even in their defection and apostasy, the sincerest compassion, the

most invincible affection.  The love of the Lord was first displayed in His

selection of Israel from among  the nations of the earth as the object of

His special favor and calling.  They were given peculiar advantages and privileges.

They were the depositaries of His truth and the conservators of His worship.

 

This love was tested by:

 

  • their forgetfulness of Him.
  • their neglect of His ordinances.
  • their rejection of His messengers and prophets.
  • their addiction to idolatry.
  • their violation of His commandments and
  • their blasphemy of His Name.

 

God’s love endured and triumphed in this test to which it was subjected.

Israel was spared, although deserving abandonment to destruction. Promises

of grace were addressed, when threats of desertion were to be expected.

Opportunity of repentance and reconciliation was afforded, and Israel

was entreated not to abuse it.

 

2 “So I bought (acquired) her to me for fifteen pieces of silver,

and for an homer of barley and an half-homer (margin, lethech) of

barley.” In narrating the prophet’s compliance with the Divine command,

the word h;r,K]a, is connected by Aben Ezra with rk"w, in the sense of

making acquaintance with; but it is more correctly referred by Kimchi to

hr;k; with daghesh euphonic in the caph as in ËreQ]yi shall meet thee. “The

daghesh of the caph is for euphony as in miqdush, and the root is hrk

(Kimchi). The meaning is then simply and naturally traced as follows: to

dig, obtain by digging, acquire. The price paid for the acquisition in this

case was either the purchase money paid to the parents of the bride, as to

Laban in the case of Rachel and Leah by Jacob, or the marriage present

paid (mohar) to the bride herself. Another view represents the prophet

paying the price to the woman’s husband to whom she had been unfaithful,

and who in consequence resigned her for so small a sum. It remains for us

to attend to the amount thus paid. Fifteen pieces of silver or shekels would

be about one pound fifteen shillings, or one pound seventeen and sixpence;

while the price of the barley would he somewhere about the same.

There were fifty or sixty shekels in a mana, Greek mina, and Latin ulna;

while the maneh was cue-sixtieth of a talent (kikteer); and thus three

thousand or three thousand six hundred shekels in a talent. The homer, the

largest of the Hebrew dry measures, contained one cor or ten ephahs (= ten

baths of liquids = ten Attic me>dimnoi medimnoi - ), and the half-homer or lethec

(haemi-coros in LXX.) was half a cop or five ephahs. These fifteen ephahs,

at a shekel each — for under extraordinary circumstances (II Kings 7:1)

we read of “two measures of barley for a shekel” — would be equivalent

to one pound fifteen or seventeen shillings and sixpence. Both together —

the silver and the barley — would amount to thirty shekels, or three

pounds and ten or fifteen shillings. Why this exact amount? and why such

particularity in the reckoning? By turning to Exodus 21:32 we learn

that thirty shekels were the estimated value of a manservant or

maidservant; for it is there stated that “if the ox shall push a manservant or

a maidservant, he shall give unto their master thirty shekels of silver.” The

price paid by the prophet partly in money and partly in kind was exactly the

price of an ordinary maidservant. The barley (μyri[Oc], plural, equivalent to

grains of barley”) may hint the woman’s unchastity, as it was the offering

for a woman suspected of adultery (Numbers 5:15), The low estate of the

person purchased is a legitimate inference from all this. The wife, for whom

such a paltry sum should be paid, and paid in such a way, or to whom such

a petty gift would be offered, must be supposed to be in a condition of

deep depression or in circumstances of great distress. Thus the sum paid by

the prophet for his partner symbolizes the servile state of Israel when

Jehovah chose them for HIS PECULIAR PEOPLE!

 

3 “And I said unto her, Thou shalt abide for me many days; thou shalt

not play the harlot, and thou shall not be for another man:” -  The prophet

imposes certain restrictions of a very stringent character on his wife; he places

her in a state of isolation; her past excesses and his purpose of effecting her

reformation necessitate such measures, however strict and severe or even

harsh they may appear. She is not to be admitted into full fellowship with

her husband, nor is she to be allowed the possibility of intercourse with

others. From friend, that is, husband and lovers, she is shut out; all sexual

connection, whether illicit or legitimate, is peremptorily cut off. The clause,

thou shalt abide [or, ‘sit still’] for me,” denotes an attitude of waiting, not

necessarily in sorrow, like the captive maiden who before marriage with

her captor bewailed her parents for the period of a month, but in patient

expectation of her husband’s fortune and favor, though in seclusion from

him, as also exclusion of all others. During this long period of “many days”

she is not only debarred the society of her lawful partner, but forbidden

either to play the harlot with several or to attach herself to a single

paramour. Jerome directs attention to the fact that the word “another” has

no place in the original text; otherwise it would imply that she was

prohibited from intercourse with any other than her husband, while the real

meaning makes the prohibition absolute and inclusive even of conjugal

connection with her husband – “so will I also be for thee.”  The Hebrew

expositors, Aben Ezra and Kimchi, repeat the negative from the preceding

clause and translate, “Nor shall I even come to you,” that is, for marital

society. This is not necessary to bring out the true sense, which is that, as

she was to be restrained from intercourse with any and every other man, so

he himself also would abstain from intercourse with her. “And also I will be

for [unto] thee [i.e. thy husband] to preserve conjugal fidelity to thee, but

hold aloof from thee during thy detention.” Thus separated from both

lovers and husband, Israel would for many a long day suspend her worship

of idols, and be at the same time shut out from her covenant relation to

Jehovah. Kimchi’s comment mounts to pretty much the same, as does also

that of Aben Ezra. The explanation of the former is, “I said to her, After

thou hast committed adultery against me, thy punishment shall be that thou

shalt abide in widowhood of life many days; and the meaning of ‘for me’ is,

thou shalt be called by my name and not by another man’s; thou shalt say, I

am the wife of such a one, and thou shalt not play the harlot with others,

and also thou shalt not be the wife of any other man than myself.” Aben

Ezra makes mention of another interpretation of the verse, to the effect, “If

ye shall return to me, I also will return to you.” With this the Chaldee

Targum is in accord, which represents God as commanding the prophet to

say, “O congregation of Israel, your sins have been the cause of your exile

for many days; ye shall devote yourselves to my service, and not go astray

nor worship idols, and I also will have compassion upon you.” Maurer

considers the expression yaAlayh equivalent to ya μ[iyh, viz. remhabere

cum muliere; but to this linguistic usage is opposed. Umbreit renders the

phrase, “and I will only be for thee;” this, however, partakes more of the

nature of a promise than of a punishment, and is not quite, therefore, in

accord with the context. Ewald: “And yet I am kind to thee [i.e. love

thee];” this is a rather trivial, as also ill-supported idea. Calvin’s exposition

is pretty much the same as we have given, and is the following: “I also shall

be for thee; that is, I pledge my faith to thee, or I subscribe myself as thy

husband: but another time must be looked for; I yet defer my favor, and

suspend it until thou givest proof of true repentance. I also shall be for

thee; that is, thou shalt not be a widow in vain; if thou complainest that

wrong is done to thee, because I forbid thee to marry any one else, I also

bind myself in turn to thee.”

 

 

  The Contrast Between God’s Mercifulness and Israel’s Siufulness (vs.1-3)

 

  • THE LESSONS OF THIS CHAPTER ARE MIDWAY BETWEEN

THE PUNISHMENT THREATENED AND THE PROMISE

VOUCHSAFED. Calvin has plainly pointed out the position of this chapter

in the series of God’s dealings with Israel. “It was God’s purpose,” he

says, “to keep in firm hope the minds of the faithful during the exile, lest,

being overwhelmed with despair, they should wholly faint. This prediction

occupies a middle place between the denunciation of the prophet

previously pronounced, and the promise of pardon. It was a dreadful thing

that God should divorce His people and cast away the Israelites as

spurious children; yet a consolation was afterwards added. But lest the

Israelites should think that God would immediately, as on the first day, be so

propitious to them as to visit them with no chastisement, it was the

prophet’s design expressly to correct this mistake; as though he said, ‘God

will indeed receive you again, but in the mean time a chastisement is

prepared for you, which by its intenseness would break down your spirits,

were it not that this comfort will ease you, and that is that God, although

He punishes you for your sins, yet continues to provide for your

salvation, and to be as it were your Husband.’”

 

  • GOD’S LOVE TO ISRAEL UNMERITED AS WELL AS

UNREQUITED. The prophet’s treatment of the woman whom he was to

take or had taken to be his wife evinced extreme forbearance and

exceeding tenderness. He loved her before her fall, — this was natural

enough; he loved her during and notwithstanding her fall, — this was not

to be expected; he continued to love her after her fall, — this is contrary

to all the ordinary feelings and instincts of humanity. This continued

affection was designed, as it was calculated, to win her back from the error

and evil of her ways. But where is the man who under ordinary circumstances

would act so? Where is the husband that would treat a worthless wife

with such mildness and compassion? But what man cannot find in his heart

to do, what man cannot bring himself to do, GOD DOES in his treatment of

Israel and in His dealings with sinners in general; “For my thoughts are not

your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as

the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than

your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). 

Notwithstanding all God’s love to His people Israel, from the very

commencement of their national existence they showed a special proneness

to apostasy, readily and recklessly turning aside to idolatrous worship; yet

God’s love continued through it all, and outlived it all. It was love to the

unlovable and unloving, to the undeserving and ungrateful; the current of His

love runs on like the river broad and deep, which never ceases in its course

till its waters form part of” the shining levels of the sea.”

 

  • THE ACCOMPANIMENTS OF IDOLATRY HAVE A

SEDUCTIVE TENDENCY. Idolatry was usually associated with

voluptuousness and sensuality; and indulgences of this sort tended, no

doubt, to attract many votaries, and served as inducements to idol-worship.

Whether we take “flagons of wine” to be the right rendering of the original,

as the Authorized Version does, or rather “raisin-cakes,” the nature of the

attraction will be much the same — fondness for self-indulgence. The

Levitical priests were forbidden the use of wine when they ministered

before the Lord; the Nazarites were total abstainers all the time of their

vow; but the worshippers of idols — priests and people alike — am

represented as drinking bowls or flagons of wine. Raisin-cakes, sweet and

luscious, formed parts of idolatrous repasts, and served as appetizing

morsels in idol-feasts and for idol-worshippers. How like the seductive

pleasures of sin in general! But they neither last long nor satisfy while

they do last. (I remember a phrase in an American History textbook, when

describing America’s “Roaring Twenties” as having a sexual tinge.  It

stated “Is it a wonder that a momentary pleasure only yields a pleasure

for a moment?”  - CY – 2012)  The meat offerings of Mosaic ritual were

of a severer sort, and less calculated to gratify the taste and please the palate.

 

  • THE MERCIFUL PROVISION MADE FOR ISRAEL IN THE

SEASON OF HER SEPARATION. If the prophet had already espoused

the woman whom he is directed to love, the pieces of silver and measures

of barley could neither be dowry, nor purchase, nor a present in any proper

sense. How, then, are we to understand the matter? Probably we may

regard the expenditure here indicated as a suitable allowance for her

support — a sufficient maintenance for her during the period of her

separation from her husband. She may now be conceived as living apart

from her husband — shut out a mensa eta thoro, as it is said, and so

deprived of her proper means of subsistence. During this sad state of

things, which her own guilt has brought about, she is still the prophet’s

wife, and neither forgotten nor forsaken by him. True, in one way she is

unpitied and undeserving of pity, because of her vileness, yet in another she

is not entirely bereft of her husband’s affection; in spite of her grievous

departure from the path of rectitude and virtue, his love follows her, still

striving for her reformation and yearning for her restoration. Meantime he

provides her with nearly fifty bushels of barley for food, and with nearly

two pounds sterling in cash for raiment and other necessaries of life. The

money and grain together would afford a sufficient, though not very

sumptuous, support. Thus God’s treatment of His Israel is symbolized.

Though they were separated by sin from His immediate presence, and

though they had forfeited His favors and proved themselves unworthy of His

love, yet He has not entirely and finally cast them off. His eye still rests

upon them; His mercy provides for them in their state of isolation; they are

deprived indeed of the honor and dignity they once enjoyed and might still

have retained, and they possess no longer the means of living in luxury and

splendor as aforetime, yet they are allowed the necessary means of

subsistence and an humble maintenance, with the prospect and for the

purpose of their ultimate restoration to full favor, and unstinted

possession of all the benefits and blessings still in store for them.

 

  • ISRAEL’S SOLITARY AND SEQUESTERED STATE. She is

doomed to sit in solitary widowhood. Restrained from all licentious

intercourse on the one hand, she is not restored to conjugal rights on the

other. She was not to be a harlot, neither was she to be a husband’s. That

husband, however, still regards Himself bound to her, and while she abides

for Him He promises her a like return: “So will I likewise be to thee-ward.”

He would still have regard to her and respect for her; feelings of kindness

would animate Him towards her; His guardian care and watchful providence

would still be exercised on her behalf and for her benefit. The meaning and

application of v. 3 is well given in the following comment: “He, His

affections, interest, thoughts, would be directed towards her. The word

towards expresses regard, yet distance also. Just so would God, in those

times, withhold all special tokens of His favor, covenant, providence; yet

would He secretly uphold and maintain them as a people, and withhold

them from failing wholly from Him into the gulf of irreligion and infidelity.”

Sin is the cloud that darkens our sky and shuts out the bright light

of our heavenly Father’s countenance; yet behind the dark cloud of

afflictive providences He hides a shining face.

 

  • THE CONDITIONS OF THE COVENANT WHICH GOD MAKES

WITH HIS PEOPLE.

 

Ø      We see here the Divine considerateness. God might have made out a

bill of divorce, and dismissed them at once and forever. He does not

deal with us with the rigor of law or in the strictness of justice, but

according to the multitude of His tender mercies and loving-

kindnesses.

 

Ø      The condition He proposes to us is that we be to Him a people, and He

will be to us a God. (One expression which I have been blessed to have

understood the significance of, and one which has brought blessings to

my home, my family, and my environment, from awareness in the late

1940’s to 2012 – CY).  When punished for sin it is wise and well to

Justify God’s ways with us (as David did – Psalm 51:4); we must wait

with patience, and that perhaps for many days, until God again lift on

us the light of His countenance. But besides all this, we must not turn

again to folly (Psalm 85:8), as Israel was strictly enjoined to eschew

harlotry in the future; in other words, to shun every form of idolatry in

all time to come. So, in dependence on Divine grace, we must resolve

to follow the Lord fully, not wandering in the wilderness, not

worshipping the idols of our own pride, or passion, or sensuality, or sin

of any sort, and never more to go a-whoring from our God.

 

Ø      Another condition of the covenant between the sovereign and His

once rebel but now repentant subjects is implied in this passage,

and well stated in the following words: If they will be for God

to serve Him, He will be for them to save them. Let them renounce

and abjure all rivals with God for the throne in the heart and

devote themselves entirely to Him, and Him only, and He will be

 to them A GOD ALL-SUFFICIENT!   If we be faithful and

 constant to God in a way of duty, and will never leave nor

forsake Him, He will be so to us in a way of mercy, and will

never leave nor forsake us.” (Hebrews 13:5-6)

 

4  For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a

king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an

image, and without an ephod, and teraphim.”  For a long series of years

they were thus doomed to be without CIVIL POLITY or ECCLESIASTICAL

PRIVILEGE  or PROPHETIC INTIMATIONS. More particularly they were

to remain without royal rule, or princely power, or priestly function, or

 prophetic instruction. As the prophet’s wife was neither to be, strictly speaking,

her husband’s nor yet belong to another man; so Israel, as represented by her,

was destined to be deprived of independent self-government and princely

sovereignty; of Divine service, whether allowed as by sacrifice — the

central part of Hebrew worship — or disallowed as by statue; of oracular

responses, whether lawful as by the ephod or unlawful as by teraphim.

There was thus an entire breaking up of Church and state as they had long

existed; of all civil and ecclesiastical relations and privileges as they had

been long enjoyed. Without a king of their own nationality to sit upon the

throne, or a prince of their own race as heir apparent to the kingdom, or

princes as the great officers of state; without offering by sacrifice to

Jehovah, or statue by way of memorial to Baal; without means of

ascertaining the will of Heaven in relation to the future by the Urim and

Thummim of the high-priestly ephod, only the more than questionable

means of soothsaying by the teraphim; — THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL

WERE TO BE LEFT!  And what attaches special importance to this remarkable

passage is the undeniable fact that these predictions were uttered, not only before

the dissolution of the monarchy and the cessation of sacrifices, but at a time

when no human sagacity could foresee and no human power foretell the

future abstention of the Hebrew race from idol-worship so long practiced,

and from heathenish divination resorted to from such an early period of

their history. Rashi, in his comment, has the following: “I said to her, Many

days shalt thou abide for me; thou shalt not go a-whoring after other gods;

for if thou shalt play the harlot, thy sons shall remain many days without a

king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice in the sanctuary in

Judah, and without a statue of Baal in Samaria of the kings of Israel, and

without an ephod with Urim and Thummim which declared to them

secrets, and without teraphim; they are images that are made with the

observation of one hour composed for the purpose, and which speak of

themselves and declare secrets; and so Jonathan has translated, “Neither

will there be an ephod nor one to give a response.’” Similarly Aben Ezra:

“Without king, nor is there any objection from the Chasmoneans, for they

were not of the children of Judah… without sacrifice to Jehovah nor statue

to Baal, without ephod to Jehovah and without teraphim to the

worshippers of idols, which Laban called his gods” (Genesis 31:19-35).

It is a matter of much consequence that some of the ablest of the Jewish

expositors realize these predictions as applicable to their own case and the

existing circumstances of their nation. Thus Kimchi, in commenting on

this verse, says, “These are the days of the exile in which we are this day, and

we have neither king nor prince of Israel, for we are in the power of the

Gentiles, and in the power of their kings and princes… no sacrifice to God

and no statue for worshippers of idols… and no ephod which shall declare

future things by Urim and Thummim, and no teraphim for idolaters which

declare the future according to the notion of those who believe in them; and

thus we are this day in this exile, all the children of Israel;” he then cites the

Targum of Jonathan in confirmation of his sentiments. For the ephod,

Compare Exodus 28:6-14, from which we learn that it was “a short cloak,

covering shoulders and breast, wrought with colors and gold, formed of

two halves connected by two shoulder-pieces, on each of which was an

onyx engraved with six names of tribes, and held together round the waist

by a girdle of the same material;” it was part of the high priest’s attire. The

teraphim — from the Arabic tarifa, to live comfortably, and turfator, a

comfortable life, were the household gods and domestic oracles, like the

Roman penates, and deriving the name from being thought the givers and

guardians of a comfortable life, pr,j,. They were images in human form

and stature, either graven of wood or stone (pesel), or molten out of

precious metal (mas-sekhah). The first mention of them is in Genesis

31:19, and the name occurs fifteen times in the Old Testament. They

appear to have been of Syrian or Chaldean origin. Aben Ezra says of them,

“What appears to me most probable is that they had a human form and

were made for the purpose of receiving supernal power, nor can I explain it

further.” The two principal species of offerings were the jbz, or bloody

sacrifice, and the hjnm, or unbloody oblation. The former comprehended

those entirely burnt on the altar, jl;[Orad. hl[, to ascend, from going up

entirely in the altar-smoke; and blj, or those of which only the fat was

burnt. According to the object of the offerer, they were chattah, sin

offering, pointing to expiation or pardon for something done demanding

punishment; or asham, trespass offering, implying satisfaction and

acceptance, or something undone demanding amends; and shelamim, peace

offerings.

 

The Kingless State and Priestless Church (v. 4)

 

The singular symbolism of this book is intended vividly to depict the misery

of Israel, by which she was to be driven in penitence and contrition to seek

again the Divine favor she had forfeited. The woman whom the prophet

purchased and married was to be deprived at once of her husband and of

her lovers, and in this forlorn and anomalous state was to be an emblem of

Israel, cut off at the same time from Jehovah, her true Husband, to whom

she had been unfaithful, and from the spiritual paramours after whom she

had gone, but in whom no help and no joy were now to be found.

 

  • THE PRIVATION OF KING AND PRINCE WAS PUNISHMENT

FOR NATIONAL INFIDELITY. Jehovah was Himself the King of the

Israelites; their kingdom was a theocracy. He had sent Moses the lawgiver;

He had raised up judges; He had heard their prayer and given them a king.

In revolting from the house of David, the ten tribes had dishonored God.

Whether we are to look for the fulfillment of this threat in the collapse and

captivity of the northern kingdom, or in the present dispersion of Israel, is

immaterial. The lesson is plain. The nation which misuses national

privileges and neglects national opportunities shall lose them both, and

without a head, a corporate life, a settled abiding-place, shall learn the truth

of the saying, “The Lord reigneth. He taketh down one, and setteth up

another.”  (Psalm 75:7)

 

  • THE PRIVATION OF RELIGIOUS PRIVILEGES WAS

PUNISHMENT FOR IRRELIGION AND SPIRITUAL REBELLION.

The Hebrews were highly favored in their possession, not only of the Law,

but of a priesthood, a dispensation of sacrifices and festivals and various

means of communion with Heaven. As preparatory to a more spiritual

economy, these arrangements were invaluable. But the enjoyment of them

was justly made dependent upon their proper estimation and employment.

The northern tribes, by their secession, forfeited some of these advantages,

and they largely corrupted to their own injury such as remained. The

time came when, in Oriental captivity, they mourned the loss of advantages

they had too often despised and misused. And now, as they are scattered

among the nations, they possess neither the sacrifices of the heathen nor the

sacrifice of the Messiah, and are either condemned to a barren and

 unhappy seclusion or to a yet sadder alliance with the deists of the

lands in which they dwell. (Perhaps a modern parallel would be to dwell

among secularists and perverts – CY – 2012)  A lesson to all who neglect

the precious opportunities with which they are favored by Providence.

“Walk in the light whilst ye have the light, lest darkness come

upon you.”

 

5  Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the

Lord their God, and David their king;” - There is no note of exact time;

but the reference is to “the latter days,” to a period described as

afterward.” Comparing this language with the context, we infer that this

return to God should follow upon departure from God, and upon a bitter

experience of the evil consequences of such forsaking. How often, as in the

case of Israel, is it necessary that the sinner should learn that “the way of

transgressors is hard”! (Proverbs 13:15)  Surely chastening, which is designed

to produce a proper estimate of sin and a sincere desire for deliverance, is not to be

resented, but rather received with humility, that it may lead to contrition, repentance,

and amendment.   Rashi explains the note of time to signify “after the days of the

Captivity;” and by Kimchi as follows: “This will take place at the end of the

 days, near the time of salvation, when the children of Israel shall return in

repentance.” (I have always been under the impression that the Jews will

accept Jesus Christ as the Messiah – according to Isaiah 66:8-9 – their

conversion will be sudden – “Who hath heard…..who hath seen….shall

a nation be born at once?  - this could happen soon – Israel became a

nation again in 1948 – Jerusalem was regained in 1967 – Jesus said –

“Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles , until the times of the

Gentiles be fulfilled….when these things come to pass, then look up,

and lift up your heads; FOR YOUR REDEMPTION DRAWETH NIGH!”

Luke 21:24,28 – CY – 2012) Though not comprehended in the symbolic

representation that precedes, this statement is necessary to complete it. The

future of Israel is the burden of this promise; the blessedness of that future is

its brightness. It comprises three items:

 

  • the reversal of their previous career,
  • their loving return to the Lord their God, and
  • their cordial reception of David their king.

 

Contemporaneous with their sorrow for the sins of the past was their

serious seeking of the Lord their God and submission to David their king.

Their revolt from the Davidic dynasty in the days of Rehoboam was

immediately followed by the idolatry of the calves which Jeroboam set up

at Dan and Bethel. The reversal of this course is symptomatic of their

complete recovery. The patriarch David was long dead and buried, and his

sepulcher was in Palestine at the time when the prophet wrote; one,

therefore, in the Davidic line, a descendant from, and dynastic

representative of, the patriarch must be meant. That this was MESSIAH

 there can be no reasonable doubt; parallel passages in the other prophets

prove this; for example: “I will set up one shepherd over them, and He shall

 feed them, even my servant David; He shall feed them, and He shall be their

shepherd. And I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David a prince

among them” (Ezekiel 34:23-24; compare also 37:24). Again in Jeremiah

(Jeremiah 30:9) we read to the same purpose, “They shall serve the

Lord their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up unto them.” We

can by no means concur with those who refer this promise to Zerubbabel

as a later occupant of the Davidic throne; and just as little with those who,

like Wunsche, hold that the prophet has no particular period and no

particular person in view, but presents the prospect of a happy and blissful

future when Israel would return to the pure worship of Jehovah and enjoy

His gracious protection, and when the national prosperity would equal or

even far surpass that under the glorious reign of David himself. The best

Jewish authorities are quoted in favor of the same; thus Rabbi Tanchum

says, “He (the prophet) understands the son of David, occupying his place,

from his lineage, walking in his way, by whom his name shall endure and

his kingdom be preserved.’’ The Chaldee Targum translates in the same

sense: They shall seek the worship of Jehovah their God, and obey

Messiah, the Son of David, their king.” So Aben Ezra says that “David

their king is this Messiah, Like ‘My servant David shall be their prince

forever (Ezekiel 37:25).”  Observe:  To whom should Israel return. To

the Lord their God,” whom they had forsaken in order to worship the

vain gods of the heathen, but who, nevertheless, had a claim upon them that none

other had, and who never ceased to be their God. In this Israel represents

mankind; whoever returns to the Lord, returns to his own, proper, rightful

God. To “David their king,” from whose dynasty they had revolted in the pride,

self-sufficiency, and rebelliousness of their heart. David was representative of the

theocracy, for he was “the Lord’s anointed,” and he was an emblem of Him

who was David’s Son and David’s Lord, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of

God!  So that whoever returns to the Lord by the gospel of Jesus Christ,

returns unto David, whose “sure mercies”(Isaiah 55:3; Acts 13:34) are ratified

in the Divine Savior.  The spirit in which Israel should return:  They should seek

the Lord, and should “fear” or approach with reverential devoutness the Lord and

His goodness. The spirit thus described is a spirit of true earnestness, a spirit of

lowly repentance, and a spirit of trembling confidence in THAT “GOODNESS”

UPON WHICH ALONE  a contrite sinner can rely, AND UPON WHICH

HE CAN NEVER RELY IN VAIN!   The well-known idiom of one idea

Expressed by two verbs, so that the rendering of the clause would be “They shall

again seek the Lord their God, and David their king,” if applied here, as

undoubtedly it might, would weaken the sense, and so be unsuitable to the

context“and shall fear (literally, come with trembling to) the Lord and

His goodness in the latter days.”  The comment of Kimchi on the first part

of this clause is as follows: “They shall tremble and be afraid of Him when

they return to Him, and shall with repentance wait for the goodness of

redemption on which they have trusted.” A somewhat different meaning is

assigned to the words by Aben Ezra: “They shall return in haste, when the

end (i.e. the time of redemption) comes to their own land with hasty course

suddenly.” His goodness is taken by some in a concrete sense, as signifying

the blessings which He bestows and the good gifts which He imparts; and by

others in the abstract, as the Divine goodness or majesty, to which Israel

resorts for the pardon of sin and the gracious acceptance of their petitions

and answer of their prayers.

 

There is an important question in connection with vs. 4-5 which presses for solution,

and that is — Are the children of Israel the descendants of the ten tribes exclusively?

Or has the expression, as used by the prophet, that wider and larger signification in

which we popularly employ it, namely, as including all the descendants of Jacob or

Israel, in other words, all the Jewish or Hebrew race? These questions involve a

prior consideration. The ten tribes were carried away into captivity and left

in the lands of Assyria, B.C. 722 according to the common chronology; the

two tribes of Judah and Benjamin were carried into captivity in Babylon

about one hundred and thirty years subsequently. After a lapse of seventy

years’ captivity the latter were permitted to return to their own land, and

large numbers availed themselves of that permission. But what became of

the ten tribes of Israel? They are still spoken of by some as the lost tribes;

some, again, identify them with the Afghans; others with the American

Indians. Such theories are easily enough formed, but can scarcely be said to

be founded on facts. It is admitted that the fifty thousand who returned

belonged mainly to the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin, while many of

those two tribes remained behind in Babylon, and comparatively few of the

members of other tribes joined their brethren in the return to Palestine.

Where, then, are we to look for the main body of the ten tribes? We will

try to answer this interesting and important question as best we can, and

with a view to its bearing on the subject before us. After the restoration of

the temple and city of Jerusalem, we find that there was an immense

increase of the inhabitants of Palestine in the time and under the rule of the

Maccabees. May we not regard it as more than probable that lingerers out

of all the tribes were attracted to their native land after the restoration of

its capital, and the revival of the country’s prosperity? But large bodies still

remained behind in the lands of their dispersion (within my lifetime one

quarter of the earth’s Jews, once lived in New York City, USA – CY – 2012);

there would be a natural tendency on the part of the remnants of the two tribes

and the ten to gravitate towards each other. Thus they may be supposed to have

amalgamated. Hence James addresses his Epistle to “the twelve tribes

which are of the dispersion (James 1:1),” that is, “scattered abroad,” according

to the Authorized Version; and Paul says, “Unto which promise our twelve tribes

instantly serving God day and night, hope to come” (Acts 26:7).  We may cite,

as confirmatory, the opinion of the late Dr. M’Caul. He says, “I feel strongly

inclined to the opinion that the ten tribes are now found mingled with the

other two. I do not mean that the ten tribes returned from Babylon, for in

Ezra and Nehemiah we are told particularly who did return, but that the

main body of the Jews, who remained in Babylon, who were dispersed in

Egypt and other countries, and who never returned, naturally mingled with

their brethren of the other tribes, and that this intermixture increased after

the destruction of the second temple.” Their return to the house of David,

intimated in v. 5, presupposes some such reunion with their brethren as

that of which we speak. We are, therefore, inclined to believe that the

Judahites as well as the Israelites are comprehended in this plural

patronymic of the children of Israel.”

 

The state of the Jewish people at the present day, as well as during centuries

past (sic. – Many Jews have returned since Israel again became a nation –

The previous sentence was written prior to 1948 – Also Jerusalem, since 1967,

 is under Jewish control now – see Luke 21:24 – all the more reason to look

up because not only are these things being fulfilled around our ears, but our

“redemption draweth night” – Ibid. v. 28 – CY – 2012), corresponds most

exactly with that here described by Hosea. And where, it may be asked, is it

possible to find any other nation whose condition — political and religious

— is the same or even similar? Their condition, precisely what is here

described with respect to Church and state, lasted for centuries unchanged,

with no public worship nor civil government. (That is until the last half of the

20th century.  It should be suspicious and draw our attention to know that

the Jews dwell in Israel now, governed by their own laws with their own

Parliament and government, and have their own armed services  Surely

the Coming of the Messiah cannot be far off!  - CY – 2012)

 

God confused their circumstances. “Here,” says an old commentator, “is much

privation — six ‘withouts:’

 

  • without a king;’
  • ‘without a prince;’
  • ‘without a sacrifice;’
  • ‘without an image;’
  • ‘without an ephod;’
  • ‘without teraphim;’

 

but the last verse makes up for all: ‘They shall return, and seek the Lord

their God, and David their king.’ These withouts show the wonderfully

confused estate that Israel was to be in for many days, many years, both in

regard of their civil and of their Church estate.” They had corrupted their

way, setting up idols in Dan the place of judgment, and in Bethel the house

of God; and that corruption now ends in confusion of both their civil and

Church estate. They had combined the ordinances of God with their own

devices, that is, the sacrifice and ephod with the image and the teraphim;

now they are deprived of both.

 

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