Hosea 9

 

 

The first nine verses contain a warning against security arising from temporary

prosperity.

 

1 “Rejoice not, O Israel, for joy, as other people: “ - The occasion

on which the prophet penned this section was so no idolatrous merrymaking

in connection with harvest, and not any change of political situation.

The literal rendering of the first clause is, rejoice not unto exultation,

or exceedingly, as the same expression is translated in Job 3:22; it is

thus climactic.  The old versions take el-gil as imperative, and read la";

thus mhde< eujfrai>non maede euphrainon -  equivalent to “nor make merry;”

and the Vulgate has noli exultare; but al is constructed with the future, not with

the imperative.  Again, some read be instead of ke, and so render, “among the

peoples,” the words being addressed, not to Israel in exile, but still resident in

their own land – “for thou hast gone a-whoring from thy God, thou hast

loved a reward upon every corn-floor.” According to this, which is the

common rendering. the clause with ki assigns a reason for their foregoing such

joy. But Ewald and others translate by “that or for that thou hast committed

whoredom,” understanding this clause to express the object of their joy.

We prefer the former, for their faithlessness and foul idolatry were

sufficient reasons to prevent Israel indulging in the joy of harvest. The

blessings of the harvest were regarded by them as rewards for the worship

of their idol-gods, in other words, as gifts from Baalim and Ashtaroth or

other idols, and thus as ethnan, a harlot’s hire; not as tokens and pledges

of the favor of Jehovah.

 

2 “The floor and the wine-press shall not feed them, and the

new wine shall fail in her.”  Thus Israel was not to enjoy the blessings of

the harvest; the corn and oil and new wine, or corn and wine, would not

prove as abundant as they expected or plenty would be succeeded by

scarcity; or, rather, the people would be prevented enjoying the abundant

produce of their land in consequence of being carried away captive to

Assyria, as seems implied in the following verse. The floor and press —

whether wine-presss, or rather oil-press, as the mention of new wine

follows — are put for their contents by a common figure of speech. The

expression, “fail in her,” is literally, “lie to her.” and has many parallels; as,

“The labor of the olive shall fail [margin, ‘lie’],” or a farm that belies his hopes.”

*

3 “They shall not dwell in the Lord’s land; but Ephraim shall

return to Egypt, and they shall eat unclean things in Assyria.” -  The

Lord’s land was Canaan, which Jehovah chose to dwell there by visible

symbol of the Shechinah-glory, and which He gave to Israel as His people.

Israel expected to have it for a permanent place of abode, but that hope

was frustrated by their sin. The remaining clauses of the verse may be

understood either  that Ephraim would return to Egypt to obtain auxiliaries,

but to no purpose, — for they would be carried away captive and be compelled

to eat unclean things in the land of Assyria; or  the prophet threatens that some

of them would go as exiles into Egypt, and others of them into Assyria This latter

explanation is much to be preferred; while with regard to Egypt the threats, ring

thus understood would re-echo an older prophecy in Deuteronomy 28:68, “The

Lord shall bring thee into Egypt again with ships, by the way whereof I spake

unto thee, Thou shalt see it no more again: and there ye shall be sold unto

your enemies for bondmen and bondwomen, and no man shall buy you.” In

Assyria also they would be obliged to cat things ceremonially unclean, as it

would be impossible to conform to the requirements of the Law, according

to which the eating of certain animals was prohibited. There is yet

another interpretation, which takes Assyria to be the place of exile,

while Egypt figuratively represents the condition of that exile, namely, a

state of hard bondage and sore oppression, such as Israel endured in Egypt

in the days of yore.

 

4 “They shall not offer wine offerings to the Lord, neither

shall they be pleasing unto Him: their sacrifices shall be unto them the

bread of mourners; all that eat thereof shall be polluted:” - Having

predicted their inability to observe the ritual distinctions between clean and

unclean, which the Law prescribed, whether from the tyranny of their

oppressors or from scarcity, or from the absence of sanctification by the

presentation of the firstfruits, the prophet proceeds to predict their

cessation altogether. Such is the prophet’s picture of their miserable

position in Assyria. It is aptly remarked by Grotius that “they failed to pour

out libations to the Lord when they could; now the time shall come when

they may wish to make such libations, but cannot.” According to the

Massoretic punctuation and the common rendering, which is that of the

Authorized Version, the people themselves are the subject of the second

verb. They were neither able to offer drink offerings, a part for the whole

of the meat offerings and unbloody oblations; nor, if they did, could they

hope for acceptance for them away from the sanctuary and its central altar.

Hitzig supplies niskeyhens, their drink offerings, from the foregoing

clause, as subject to the verb of the following one, and the verb is

explained by some in the sense of “mire.” If we neglect the segholta, and make

zibh-chehem the subject, the meaning is clearer, and the contrast between the

unbloody and bloody offerings more obvious; thus: “They will not pour out

libations of wine to Jehovah, nor will their sacrifices [equivalent to ‘bloody

oblations’] please Him,” that is to say, not such as were actually offered, but

such as they might feel disposed to offer. The same noun may be repeated in

the next clause; thus, their sacrifices, or rather slaughtered meats, are unto Him

as bread of mourners, or, what is better, their food (supplied from ke lechem)

shall be unto them like bread of mourners. Mourners’ bread is that eaten

at a funeral feast, or meal by persons mourning for the dead, and which

was legally unclean, since a corpse defiled the house in which it was and all

who entered it for seven days, as we read in Numbers 19:14, “This is

the law, when a man dieth in a tent: all that come into the tent, and all that

is in the tent, shall be unclean seven days.” Of course, all who partook of

the food would be polluted; so with that of Israel in exile, being

unsanctified by the offering of firstfruits - “for their bread for their soul

shall not come into the house of the Lord.”  “Their bread for their soul,”

that is, for appeasing their appetite, whatsoever their soul lusted after, or

bread for the preservation of their life, would not come into the house of

the Lord to be sanctified by representative offerings.

 

5  What will ye do in the solemn day, and in the day of the feast of the Lord?”

On such occasions they would feel the misery of their position most keenly. Away

in a far foreign land, without temple and without ritual, they would bewail

the loss of their annual celebrations, their national festivals and religious

solemnities — those holiday-times of general joy and spiritual gladness.

The distinction between moed and chag is variously given.  By Grotius and

Rosenmüller moed is referred to one of the three annual feasts — Passover,

Pentecost, and Tabernacles; and chag to any of the other feasts, including the

new moon.  Others restrict chag to the Feast of Tabernacles, or harvest festival,

the most joyous of them all. Keil makes the words synonymous, except that in

chag festival joy is made prominent.

 

 

The Solemn Days of Life (v. 5)

 

 “What will ye do in the solemn day?” “What will ye do in the day of

assembly?when ye shall be despoiled of everything by the Assyrians; for

the Israelites who remained in the land after its subjection to the Assyrians

did worship the true God, and offer unto Him the sacrifices appointed by

the Law, though in an imperfect manner; and it was a great mortification to

them to be deprived of their religious festivals in the land of strangers”

(Elzas). The “solemn day” here evidently refers to one of the great Jewish

feasts, either the Feast of the Passover, the Pentecost, or of the

Tabernacles; and the literal meaning seems to be — What will you children

of Abraham do when you are deprived by tyrannic strangers of the

privilege of attending those solemn assemblies? Though the word

assembly” would be a better rendering than “solemn,” yet inasmuch as

these festive assemblies were very solemn, and the privation of them of all

things the most solemn, we shall accept the word for purposes of practical

application. There are SOLEMN DAYS AWAITING ALL OF US

 and the appeal in the text is evermore BEFITTING and URGENT!

 

  • THE DAY OF PERSONAL AFFLICTION is a “solemn day.”

The day comes either by disease, accident, or infirmities of age, when,

Withdrawn from scenes of business, pleasure, or profession, we shall be

confined to some lonely room, and languish on the couch of suffering and

exhaustion.  Such a day must come to all, and such a day will be

“SOLEMN  a day with but little light in the firmament of earthly life,

a day of darkness, and perhaps of tempests. “What will ye do in the

solemn day?” What can you do? You will not be able to extricate yourself

from the sad condition. No man can raise himself out of that physical suffering

and weakness that are destined to come on his frame. WHAT WILL YOU

DO AS TO BE SUSTAINED IN SOUL?   SKEPTICAL REASONING

be of no service!   the recollections of past life will be of no service! 

What will ye do in that solemn day?”

 

  • THE DAY OF SOCIAL BEREAVEMENT is a “solemn day.” Much

of the charm of life is in our social loves, the love of partners, parents,

children, friends. The time must come when RUTHLESS DEATH

 will tear them from the heart. THIS WILL BE A SOLEMN DAY!

 What a dark day with the soul is that when we return from the grave

where we have left for ever some dear object of the heart, and when we

enter the home where the loved one was the center and charm of the

circle! Truly, a sunless, saddening day is this.  And yet such a day must

come to all. What will ye do in this solemn day?” What will you do

for consolation? What word of comfort has science to offer? (Good luck

with secular grievance counselors – CY – 2012) – WHAT HAS THE

WORLD TO PRESENT?   What will you do?

 

  • THE DAY OF DEATH is a “solemn day.” This awaits every man.

What man is he that liveth and shall not see death?” “There is no man that

hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he power in

the day of death: and there is no discharge in that war; NEITHER

SHALL WICKEDNESS DELIVER THOSE THAT ARE GIVEN

TO IT” (Ecclesiastes 8:8).What a “solemn day” is this! All earthly

connections dissolving, the world receding, eternity parting its awful folds.

What will ye do in this day, WHEN HEART AND FLESH SHALL

FAIL?  WHAT WILL SUSTAIN YOUR SPIRIT THEN?   Will you

count your wealth? Will you gather about your dying bed your worldly

companions? Will you seek to bury the remembrance of your past life?

Something must be done — this you will feel; BUT WHAT?

 

  • THE DAY OF JUDGMENT is a “solemn day.” “We must all appear

before the judgment-seat of Christ.” What a day will that be! A “great

and notable” day. “Howl ye, for the day of the Lord is at hand.” What will ye

do? Will ye call “to the mountains and rocks to fall on you, and hide

 you from the eyes of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the

 wrath of the Lamb”?  (Revelation 6:12-17)  TO WHAT AVAIL?

How does one react to JESUS CHRIST, THE SON OF GOD,

when He says, “I KNOW YOU NOT!”  DEPART FROM ME, YE

CURSED, INTO EVERLASTING FIRE, PREPARED FOR

THE DEVIL AND HIS ANGELS??????   (I recommend

How to Be Saved - # 5 – this web site – CY – 2012)

 

 “‘Tis not the Stoic’s lessons, got by rote,

The pomp of words and pedant dissertations,

That can sustain thee in that hour of terror:

Books have taught cowards to talk nobly of it,

But when the trial comes they stand aghast.

Hast thou considered what may happen after it?

How thy account may stand, and what the answer?”

(Nicholas Rowe.)

 

Thank God, the Christian who has been washed in the Blood of the Lamb

can say:  “I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor

principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor

height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us

from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  (Romans 8:38-39)

 

6 “For, lo, they are gone because of destruction: Egypt shall

gather them up, Memphis shall bury them” - Their future exile was seen

in prophetic vision; and in consequence and because of its certainty he

speaks of it as having already taken place. The destruction is the desolation

and wasting of their native land, because of which, or away from which and

leaving it behind, they are gone. The land of their banishment was the land

of their bondage. There, far from the land of their birth, they were doomed

to die and to be gathered together for a common burial. Memphis was the

ancient capital of Lower Egypt; its situation was on the western bank of

the Nile, and south of Old Cairo. There its ruins are still seen, with

extensive burial-grounds, while amid those ruins is the village of

Mitrahenni. Kimchi identifies Moph with Noph -  the pleasant places for

their silver, nettles shall possess them: thorns shall be in their

tabernacles.”   The literal rendering of the first clause is, their cherished

delight of silver. By this some understand silver idols; others, valuables in

silver; the Jewish commentators, the houses of the precious treasures of their

silver — so Rashi; “Their precious buildings where their silver treasures

were” — so Kimchi; Jerome understands their mansions and all the ornaments

of their mansions purchased by silver; Keil also has, “houses ornamented and

filled with the precious metals.” This explanation is pretty generally accepted,

and appears to us to deserve the preference. Their former homes, so

pleasant and so richly decorated, were so utterly desolate and deserted that

thorns and thistles overspread them. But the sentence is differently translated

and explained by Rosenmüller and some others; thus: “Moph (Memphis) will

bury them out of desire for their silver.” This violent divulsion destroys the

parallelism of the second hemistich, besides ignoring the athnach. The Septuagint

again puzzled by the word machmad, mistook it for a proper name:

“Therefore, behold, they go forth from the trouble of Egypt, and Memphis

shall receive them, and Machmas (Ma>cmav - Machmas) shall bury them.”

Thus we have a thrilling picture of distress. First comes the destruction of their

native city; having looked their last look on the ruins where once stood their

home, they have set forth — a miserable band of pilgrims — to the land of the

stranger, and that stranger their conqueror and oppressor; they have reached the

place of exile, there to find, not a home, BUT A GRAVE and not a single grave

for each, according to the Jews’ mode of sepulture to the present day, but a

common place of burial into which they are huddled together, Egypt gathering

them and Memphis burying them; while in the land that gave them birth, their

once happy homesteads, richly decorated and expensively adorned, are left

utterly desolate — A HERITAGE FOR THORNS AND THISTLES.

 

 

Sin is the Cause of Sorrow and the Source of Sadness (vs. 1-6)

 

The merrymaking of wicked people is often both hollow and heartless; it is

always without true ground or real cause; while the laughter of fools is like

the crackling of thorns under a pot. The people of Israel were jubilant at

the time referred to. The reason of their jubilation does not distinctly

appear. It may have arisen from some losses having been retrieved, or

some advantages gained, or some successes achieved, or some useful

alliances secured, or the ordinary joy of harvest. Whatever it was, there

was no good cause for it nor continuance of it. “Joy is forbidden fruit to

wicked people.” Among the losses which sin entails are, as we learn from

the verses before us, the following:

 

  • THE LOSS OF JOY. 

 

Ø      Religion makes men joyful as well as cheerful. “Rejoice in the

Lord always,” is the exhortation of an apostle, and an exhortation

which he repeats (Philippians 4:4). The joy of the Lord is our

strength  (Nehemiah 8:10).  How different with the wicked!

They deprive themselves of all real joy. They may be outwardly

prosperous and rejoice in that prosperity; but the wrath of God

abideth on them, and a worm is at the root of their joy.

 

Ø      The professing people of God sometimes envy the seeming

prosperity of the wicked (Psalm73:3, 17-20) ; seeing the outward

success of sinners, they are tempted to imitate their works and ways.

They forget that in doing so their sin is more heinous than that of

other people; it is aggravated by their engagement to be the Lord’s,

by the vows of God which are upon them, and by the various

means and motives which they enjoy for pursuing the right course.

Their sin is thus greater than that of other people; they are therefore

forbidden to rejoice with the ordinary joy of other people. It. was

thus with Israel, when, forgetful or unmindful of their covenant

relation, they went a-whoring from their God, and committed

spiritual adultery by following idols.

 

Ø      Some men make a profession of religion for sake of worldly gain;

they calculate the benefits, pecuniary, professional, political, or

social, which they expect from religion; they estimate religion by

the outward advantages which they think to derive from it; or,

what is much the same, they profess that religion or attach

themselves to that denomination from which they hope for the

greatest gain. Thus Israel attributed to her spiritual harlotry

any temporary prosperity she enjoyed; it was her idols she thanked

for any season of plenty that she was favored with; she loved a

reward on every corn-floor. Thus her religion was mercenary, her

idolatry shameful, her prosperous state of short continuance, and

her joy ill founded as evanescent.

 

  • THE LOSS OF THE MEANS OF SUBSISTENCE NOT

INFREQUENTLY FOLLOWS FROM A COURSE OF SIN.

A CAREER OF SIN  has often reduced a man to a morsel of bread, or

left him without bread altogether. When men are bent on the obtainment

of worldly blessings, and make them their chief end, they are often denied

the blessings which they covet: frequently they are disappointed of them;

more frequently are they disappointed in them; even when they secure

them they fail to find the satisfaction which they seek. “The floor and the

wine-press shall not feed them” (v.2), says the prophet; “much less feast

them,” quaintly but truly observes an old commentator, adding, “It shall

either be blasted by the hand of God or plundered by the hand of man;

the new wine with which they used to make merry shall fail in her.  We

forfeit the good things of the world if we love them as the best things.”

 

  • THE LOSS OF HOUSE AND HOME HAS OFTEN RESULTED

FROM SINFUL INDULGENCE. A time of famine necessarily becomes

a time of extensive emigration. But, apart from seasons of scarcity, when

men are forced, in order to procure the means of a decent livelihood, to

seek a home and a country in some distant land, it is no rare occurrence for

men to find themselves expatriated through their own vices. When they

beggar themselves by vicious indulgence, their last resort is a foreign land.

In the case of Israel the hardship was peculiarly distressful. The land of

promise was, in a special sense, “the Lord’s land;” it was a good land, a

gladsome land. How glowing as well as eloquent the eulogy bestowed

upon it by the sacred writer when Israel was about to enter it! “The Lord

thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of

fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat,

and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive,

and honey; a Land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou

shalt not lack anything in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose

hills thou mayest dig brass” (Deuteronomy 8:9).  Besides these blessings of

a temporal kind,possessed by that land into which the Lord had led Israel,

it was the Lord’s land because of the spiritual privileges enjoyed there. It

was distinguished by HIS SPECIAL FAVOR AND PRESENCE,  it was

the home of His priests and prophets; it was the seat of His holy oracle, and

in all respects a delightsome land (Malachi 3:12). But Israel had forfeited

their title to it. It had been leased to them by the Lord, but by their idolatries

and many sins they had broken every clause in that lease; and now they must

turn their back on this land which the Lord had given them. They had loved

idols, and NOW TO THE LAND OF IDOLS THEY MUST GO!  Into

bondage in Egypt or into captivity in Assyria they are driven; the Lord’s land

shall not only cease to feed them, but cease to lodge them, and to be a

habitation for them; it shall spew them out, as it had done the Canaanites

before them.” Their performance of outward ceremonies had not sprung

from a principle of love to the Divine Law; now they are no longer in a

position, even if they are disposed, to obey that Law. They had abused the

abundance of good things which God had given them; now for very want

they must eat unclean things as repugnant to their feelings as opposed to

their ritual. They had shown an infatuated fondness for idols in their own

land, the Lord’s land; now they must eat the unclean things offered to idols

in a foreign land. Great had been their sinfulness, great in degree and similar

 in kind is their punishment.

 

  • LOSS OF SPIRITUAL PRIVILEGES IS ANOTHER AND A WORSE

CONSEQUENCE OF THEIR SINS. One of the greatest privations is the

loss of the public ordinances of religion. Though the enjoyment of them

when possessed may be little valued, the withdrawal of them is severely

felt. There is no famine more distressing than that of hearing the Word of

the Lord. (“Behold the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a

famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, BUT

OF HEARING THE WORDS OF THE LORD  -  Amos 8:11).

Unfaithfulness to the light men have has often caused the

candlestick to be removed out of its place. So with Israel at the period to

which the prophet refers. They were deprived of libation as well as

oblation, and of every offering whatever. Without the material, they were

also without the means of offering any acceptable sacrifice. In a heathen

land they were necessarily without sanctuary and altar and priest. How sad

their condition! And sadder still when they felt it to be the legitimate

consequence of their sin, NATIONAL, SOCIAL and INDIVIDUAL!

 

  • LOSS OF RELIGIOUS SOLEMNITIES IS AN AGGRAVATION

OF THEIR LOSS OF RELIGIOUS ORDINANCES. The solemn day,

or day of the feast of the Lord, as often as it came round, was a high day

as well as a holy day; a day of joy and gladness, of thanksgiving and praise.

Besides the weekly sabbath solemnity and the monthly solemnity of the

new moons, there were the three great annual festivals of the Passover,

Pentecost, and Tabernacles. Of the benefit and blessing of these

solemnities, with all their instruction, edification, comfort, and

encouragement, they are now deprived. No wonder the prophet asks in a

tone of pity, not unmingled with pathos, “What will ye do then?” To this

inquiry a practical commentator makes the following not inappropriate

reply: “You will then spend those days in sorrow and lamentation, which,

if it had not been your fault, you might have been spending in JOY and

PRAISE!   You will then be made to know the worth of mercies by the

want of them, and to prize spiritual bread by being made to feel a famine

of it.” To this he adds the pithy remark, “When we enjoy the means of

grace, we ought to consider what we shall do if ever we should know the

want of them; if either they should be taken from us, or we disabled to

attend upon them.”

 

  • LOSS OF ALL THINGS ONCE HELD DEAR CONCLUDES THIS

SAD SUMMARY OF THE EVIL EFFECTS OF SIN. Never was there a

darker outlook, never was there a gloomier prospect! What havoc sin

works! What distress it occasions! In a single verse are crowded together:

 

Ø      the destruction of their country by one heathen power, that of Assyria;

Ø      their dispersion in the country of another, namely, Egypt;

Ø      their death in that foreign land,

Ø      their deprivation of decent sepulture (burial;

Ø      the desolation of the dwellings they had left behind — a desolation

so great that nettles had sprung up in their treasuries and thorns in

their tabernacles; nor was respite, or relief, or restoration to be

 expected.

 

They had deluded themselves with false hopes and had resorted to carnal

devices, distrustful of God, as men often do, and with like result. Instead

of returning to that God against whom they had rebelled, and who might

have opened to them a door of hope, they departed more and more from

Him, placing their dependence on the sinful, unavailing shifts of their own

devising.

 

The next three verses describe the season and source of punishment.

 

7 “The days of visitation are come, the days of recompense are come;” -

Commentators have appropriately compared the VergilianVenit summa

dies, et irreluctabile tempus,” equivalent to “THE FINAL DAY AND

INEVITABLE HOUR IS COME.”  “Israel shall know it: the prophet is

a fool, the spiritual man is mad,” -  Here the prophet and the man of the

spirit (margin) are the false prophets which pretended to inspiration, and

flattered the people with false hopes and vain promises of safety and prosperity;

and thus helped to confirm them in their sinful courses. The object of Israel’s

knowledge, though not introduced by ki, is the folly of such false prophets,

and the madness of such pretenders to prophetic inspiration. That ish

ruach may be used of a false prophet as well as of a true one is proved

from ish holekh ruach, a man walking in the spirit, applied by Micah 2:11

to one of these pretenders: “If a man walking in the spirit and

falsehood do lie, saying, I will prophesy unto thee of wine and of strong

drink; he shall even be the prophet of this people.” Israel is doomed to

know by bitter experience the folly and madness of those prophets who

deceived and duped the people by lies soon detected, and their own folly

and madness in giving ear to the delusive prospects they held forth. (For

America, included in this list are playrights, movie directors, celebrities,

lawyers, college professors, psuedo-philosophes, spin-doctors, politicians,

and the general populace who love to have it so! – see Jeremiah 5:31 – CY

– 2012)  This explanation agrees with Kimchi’s comment: “Then shall they

confess, and say to the prophets of lies, who had led them astray, and had

said to them, Peace (in time of greatest peril) — then shall they say unto

them, A fool the prophet, a madman the man of spirit.” The predicate

precedes the subject for emphasis, and the article prefixed to the subject

exhausts the class of those false prophets.

 

Aben Ezra, Ewald, and many others understand the prophet and

spiritual man to mean true prophets, which the people called fools and

madmen, and treated is such, contemning and persecuting them. Thus

Aben Ezra: “The days of recompense are come to you from God, who will

recompense you who said to the prophet of God, He is a fool, and to the

man in whom the spirit of God was, He is mad.” The word meshuggah is

properly the participle Paul used as a substantive, and kindred in meaning

to ma>ntiv – mantis -  of the Greek, from mai>nomai mainomaimaniac –

to be frenzied.  Compare Ezekiel 13:10 and Jeremiah 28:15; and II Kings 9:11.

The Septuagint has kai< kakwqh>setai kai kakothaesetai -  equivalent to

And shall be afflicted,” taking, according to Jerome, yod for vav, and daleth

for resh; while Jerome himself translates scitote, as if reading W[d]“for the

multitude of thine iniquity, and the great hatred.”  The source of all was

SIN.   The visitation threatened, which was retributive — a recompense —

was for the greatness of their iniquity. The last clause is thus dependent on

and closely connected with the first, l[" ruling the construction first as a

preposition, then as a conjunction: “And because the enmity is great.”

Ewald says, “If the first member states a reason (e.g. by using the

preposition l[, on account of, because of, and the following infinitive),

the meaning requires that, whenever a finite verb follows, the conjunction

because’ shall be employed in forming the continuation.” The hatred was

that of Israel against their fellow-men, and their God or His prophetic

messengers; though others understand it of the hatred of God against

transgressors who had provoked His just indignation. The exposition

in red immediately above suits the context, and is supported by the

following verse.

 

 

The Sin of Despising God’s Prophets (v. 7)

 

Every preacher of righteousness has to endure now and again the misunderstanding

or the misrepresentation of some of those whom he addresses in the Name of the

Lord. It is not to be desired that all men should speak well of him. The servant is

not above his Master  (John 13:16)  and no calumny was too base, no blasphemy

too enormous,  for the enemies of Jesus to assail Him with.  (Matthew 10:24-25)

 

  • THE PREACHER OF RIGHTEOUSNESS OFTEN MEETS WITH

SLIGHT AND WITH CONTEMPT FROM MEN.

 

Ø      The charges brought: “The prophet is a fool, the spiritual man is mad.”

Hosea and other prophets, from Noah down to the last of the order, had to

contend with such foolish and wicked calumnies. As a shield for their own

folly, sinners profess to find folly in those who rebuke them.

 

Ø      The motives which prompt to such charges. Sometimes it is done by the

mistake of the unspiritual, who, to their shame, know no better, because of

their insensibility to Divine realities, because of the low level upon which

they live. Sometimes by the malice and calumnious willfulness of

opponents of truth and goodness, who hate nothing so much as to be

rebuked for their evil deeds.  (Notice the reaction of Cain towards his

brother Abel – I John 4:12 – CY – 2012)

 

Ø      The conduct which calls forth such charges. Usually the real ground of

hostility to prophets and to faithful preachers has been the interference

which has aimed rebukes at prevalent sins. Thus the real fools and

madmen are not the ministers of God’s word, BUT THOSE

WHO DESPISE IT AND BLASPHEME.

 

  • THE PREACHER OF RIGHTEOUSNESS WILL NEVERTHELESS

BE VINDICATED BY GOD. Whilst unbelieving and impenitent

 sinners (fools) make a mock at sin (Proverbs 14:9), and jeer at those who

condemn sin, GOD THE RIGHTEOUS JUDGE, observes the treatment

 with which His servants meet.

 

Ø      God approves and advances His faithful messengers, None can serve

Him faithfully and be neglected or passed over. The good and faithful

servant, who has been deemed a madman by those themselves

 infatuated and mentally intoxicated with sin, shall be commended

and exalted in due time.

 

Ø      God will Himself punish the mockers in the days of visitation and.

recompense. “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck,

shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.”  (Proverbs

29:1)

 

8 “The watchman of Ephraim was with my God:” - This rendering is

manifestly inaccurate, as the first noun is in the absolute, not in the construct

state; the right rendering, therefore, is either, “A watchman is Ephraim with my

 God;” or, “The watchman, O Ephraim, is with my God.”  If we adopt

Aben Ezra’s explanation of the prophet and spiritual man as true prophets whom

the people jeeringly and scornfully called fools, fanatics, and madmen, the

 meaning of this clause of the next verse presents little difficulty. The prophet

makes common cause with these divided prophets: his God was their God, and,

however men treated them, they were under Divine protection. The sense of the

im, with, in this case is well given by Pusey as follows: “The true prophet was at

all times with  God. He was with God, as holden by God, watching or looking

out and on into the future by the help of God. He was with God, as walking with

 God in a constant sense of His presence, and in continual communion with Him.

He was with God, as associated by God with himself in teaching, warning,

 correcting, exhorting His people, as the apostle says, We then are workers

together with Him (II Corinthians 6:1).   In the next clause the false prophet is

described by way of contrast as a snare. The word hp,wOx is properly a participle,

and Ephraim is thus exhibited by the prophet as on the outlook, not for counsel and

help beside or apart from God, as Gesenius understands it; but as on the outlook

for revelations and prophecies along with my God; i.e. Ephraim, not satisfied with

the genuine prophets, had prophets of his own, which spake to the people

according to their wish (Like Ahab had his Zedekiah – I Kings 22:11-28 – CY –

2012). This exposition is in the main supported by Rashi and Kimchi: the former

says, “They appoint for themselves prophets of their own;” and Kimchi more fully

thus, “Ephraim has appointed for himself a watchman (or seer) at the side of his

God; and he is the false prophet who speaks his prophecy in the name of

his God.” -  “but the prophet is a snare of a fowler in (over) all his ways,

and hatred in the house of his God.”  We may understand the prophet of this

clause as the false prophet who is like the snare of a bird-catcher over all the

people’s path, to entangle, entrap, and draw them into destruction

He is, moreover, inspired with hostility — a man of rancorous spirit

against God and His true prophets. “This prophet of lies,” says Aben Ezra,

is a snare of the bird-catcher.” Similarly Kimchi says in his exposition,

“This prophet is for Ephraim on all his ways as the snare of the bird-catcher

that catcheth the fowls; so they catch Ephraim in the words of their

prophets.”  Some understand “prophet” in the middle clause of the verse as the

true prophet, and the snare as the hostility and traps which the people prepared

for the messengers of God; so Rashi: “For the true prophets they lay snares

to catch them.” According to this exposition we must render, “As for the

prophet, the snare of the bird-catcher is over all his ways.   In the last clause,

house of his God,” may mean the temple of the true God, or the idol-temple;

thus Aben Ezra: “Enmity is in the house of his god;” while Kimchi thinks either

sense admissible: “We may understand ya hyb of the house of the calves, which

were his god, and the false prophet acted there as prophet, and caused enmity

between himself and God; or we may explain it of the house of the true God,

that is, the house of the sanctuary.” Thus the hostility may refer to the prophet

himself, of which he is the subject or the object according to Kimchi just cited,

or the detestable idol-worship, or perhaps the Divine displeasure against the false

prophet and the people led astray by him.

 

9 They have deeply corrupted themselves, as in the days of Gibeah:” - The

historical event here alluded to was the abominable and infamous treatment of

the Levite’s concubine by the men of Gibeah. This was the foulest blot on Israel’s

history during all the rule of the judges. For the loathsome particulars, Judges 19

 may be consulted. The construction is peculiar. The two verbs yv yh are

coordinated appositionally; “The leading verb, which in meaning is the

leading one, is subordinated more palpably by being placed alongside of the

preceding verb without a joining and” (Ewald). The former verb is often

constructed with an infinitive, and sometimes with a noun. Some trace the

reference, as already stated,  to the enormity of the men of Gibeah in

relation to the Levite’s concubine; others to the election of Saul, who was

of Gibeah, to be king. Rashi mentions both: “Some say it was Gibeah of

Benjamin in the matter of the concubine; but others say it was Gibeah of

Saul, when they demanded for themselves a king and rebelled against the

words of the prophet” (I Samuel 9 and 10) -  “therefore He will remember

their iniquity, He will visit their sins.” The sin of Gibeah was fearfully

avenged; its punishment resulted in almost the total extinction of a tribe in Israel

that of Benjamin. And as Israel had paralleled that of the men of Gibeah, he

gives them to understand first implicitly that like punishment would

overtake them, then he explicitly denounces visitation for their iniquity and

retribution for their sin. The clause thus closes, as it commenced, with THE

SAD NOTE OF COMING CALAMITY!

 

 

No Joy nor Peace, to the Sinner (vs. 7-9)

 

However far men put away from them the evil day, they can neither STAVE

IT OFF nor DELAY ITS COMING!

 

  • THE CERTAINTY OF THE DIVINE JUDGMENTS OVERTAKING

SINNERS. In the previous verse the prophetic past is used, to intimate

that, though the event predicted had not yet taken place, yet was it as sure

of accomplishment as if it had already occurred. Here the words “are

come are repeated to apprise sinners of its certainty; thus we read in the

same tense, and with like repetition, Babylon is fallen, is fallen”  (Isaiah

21:9;  Revelation 14:8).  So also in Ezekiel 7:6, “An end is come, the end is

come… behold, it is come;” while in the verse preceding, and in the one

succeeding, the same expression is repeated to impress men with the fact

of the threatened judgments being both sure and near, and thus prevent

self-deception.  (II Peter 3:10 assures us that “THE DAY OF THE

LORD WILL COME!” CY – 2012)

 

  • THE CHARACTER OF THE DIVINE JUDGMENTS.

 

Ø      They are days of Divine visitation. Men’s sins shall be searched

out and brought to light; they shall be scrutinized by the omniscient

and heart-searching God.

 

Ø      They are days of recompense, when not only shall an exact

account be taken, but a just recompense of reward dealt out to each

according as his work shall be. The recompense shall correspond to

the visitation; the stricter the former, the juster and more exact the

latter.

 

Ø      They are days near at hand, so near as well as certain that THEY

SPOKEN OF AS ALREADY COME!

 

  • THE CONDUCT OF THE PROPHET. If, as some suppose, the

prophet here mentioned is

 

Ø      the false prophet, he deluded the people with false hopes, and God

gave the people over to strong delusion that they might believe a lie

(II Thessalonians 2:7-12)  (I believe with all my hear that this is

what has happened [God giving us up] and what is happening [the

believing of lies] in the United States and world today – the false

prophets being THE STRANGLEHOLD THE SECULAR

MEDIA ATTEMPTS TO PROPRAGATE TODAY   CY – 2012)

They awake not out of their day-dreeam UNTIL ROUSED BY THE

VISITATION AND RECOMPENSE of the ALMIGHTY GOD!  

God, by afflictive dispensations, has to stir men up when milder

means have failed.

 

Ø      But the prophet mentioned may be a true prophet, and it may only be

in the estimation of the people that he is fool and madman. In this

case, those that thus treated him with contempt and ridicule shall be

awakened by THE VISITATIONS OF THE ALMIGHTY  to a

sense of their sin and shame.

 

Ø      Then shall they know, as stated in the first clause, not only the

NEARNESS and CERTAINTY of the DIVINE VISITATION

and RECOMPENSE,  but shall also know that a prophet had

been among them, that he had discernment of the times, and

had faithfully conveyed to them the message of God.

 

Ø      They shall know too, to their cost and by bitter experience, many

things about God, about His ambassadors, and about their own

heartless misconduct. They shall know, says an old divine,

these things:

 

o       What a great God they had to deal with,

o       How vile a thing sin is.

o       The vanity of all their shiftings.

o       The dreadfulness of Divine wrath.

o       The faithfulness of God’s prophets.

o       The wisdom of those who dared not do as they did.

o       The folly and vanity of all the false prophets that did before

seduce them.”

 

  • THE CAUSE OF ALL THEIR ERRORS WAS THE MULTITUDE

OF THEIR SINS. Faults in their life, as is not unusual with wicked men,

bred errors in the brain. Their iniquity had been great and aggravated, and,

in addition to their multiplied iniquity, they were just objects of hatred and

subjects of the same — at once “hateful and hating.” Besides their vile

heart and wicked life, they hated God, His ambassadors, His ways, and.

all godliness. Could they fail to be children of wrath while their carnal mind

was thus enmity to God? (Romans 8:7) - It was reasonable that God should

abandon such persons to prophets of lies, to deceive and undo their souls; or,

on the other hand, it was in keeping with the malignity of their hearts and the

malice of their nature to calumniate the prophets of the Lord and vilify

them as fools and madmen (How could the critics of Noah building the ark,

be any more sarcastic, sporting, or critical of him and his God, than those

of the nightly major news networks, cable channels or talk shows are today

of God and fundamental Christianity? – CY – 2012); while the fact of

accounting them so, aggravated their sins, hastened the fast-coming visitation,

and intensified the recompense of reward.  (Dear Reader, today we need

the mindset of Moses:  By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three

 months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they

were not afraid of the king’s commandment.  By faith Moses, when he

was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter;

Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to

enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;  Esteeming the reproach of

Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: FOR HE  HAD

RESPECT UNTO THE RECOMPENSE OF THE REWARD.”

Hebrews 11:23-25 – CY – 2012)

 

10 “I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your

fathers as the first-ripe in the fig tree at her first time:” Grapes and first

figs are among the choicest and most refreshing fruits; but to find such

delicious fruits in a dry, barren wilderness is specially grateful and

delightful. There are three possible constructions of bammidhbor:

 

  • with “found,”
  • with “grapes,” and
  • with both.

 

According to the first, which, on the whole, seems preferable, the meaning

is, “I found Israel of old as a man finds grapes in a desert;” and the sense is

God’s good will towards and delight in Israel. Grapes found by a weary,

exhausted traveler in a wilderness are a real boon, refreshing and

strengthening him for continuing his journey and reaching his destination.

Rashi gives the sense clearly and concisely thus: “As grapes which are

precious and delicious in a desert, even so have I loved Israel.” Aben Ezra,

in his exposition, refers to Deuteronomy 32:10, “He found him in a

desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he

instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye;” and then adds, “As

grapes in a wilderness where no one dwells; every one that finds them

rejoices in them, and so in the first-ripe figs.” The comment of Kimchi is

fuller and more satisfactory: “As a man, when he finds grapes in the

wilderness which is dry and fruitless, rejoices over them; and as he rejoices

when he finds a first-fruit in the fig tree in its beginning; even so have I

found Israel in the wilderness, and fed them and nourished them: they

lacked nothing, equally as if they had been in an inhabited land; but they

have not recognized my goodness.” As the fig harvest is rather late in

Palestine — about the middle of August — early figs have special worth,

and are regarded as a delicacy. The comparison then is, according to Rashi,

with the “early fig on the fig tree, which is ripe; like the fig on the fig tree

in its beginning, i.e. in the beginning of the ripening of the figs;” then he

subjoins, “Even so did your fathers appear in my eyes, that I loved them.”

- “but they went to Baal-peor, and separated themselves unto that

shame;” -  Israel did not continue long in a condition so pleasing to God, but

fell away from Him, forgot His benefits, and turned aside to the abominable

idols of the surrounding Gentiles. As Aben Ezra somewhat pathetically

expresses it, “Yet my joy was only small and of short duration, for they did

homage to Baal-peor, and separated themselves from me.” Long, therefore,

before the sin of Gibeah they transgressed in Baal-poor; in the early period

of their history they apostatized and proved unfaithful to Jehovah (Numbers

25).  To this hideous god, corresponding to Priapus of the Greeks, the maidens

of Moab sacrificed their virginity. (In July 2001, while channel surfing, I

overheard a person on a sitcom say this is the  outfit in which I plan to lose

my virginity”  AND IT WASN’T A BRIDAL GOWN – Now I would like to

ask what possible contribution could a statement or show like this, contribute to

the “general welfare of the people of the United States?  - I submit that this

behavior is very similar to what we are learning, brought the house down in

the days of Hosea – CY – 2012)

 

The Israelites were designed to be Nazarites, that is, separated to Jehovah and

consecrated to His service, but they separated themselves unto that shame, either

the idol or his worship  -“and their abominations were according as they loved.”

If men are slaves to appetite, they make a god of their belly; if to lust, Baal-peor

is their god; and men become like what they worship, and abominable as the idols

they serve, as the psalmist says, “They that make them are like unto them; so is

every one that trusteth in them” (Psalm 115:8).  They “became abominations like

their lover” (ohabh, paramour; namely, Baal-peor), that is, as abominable and

loathsome in the sight of God as the idols which they adulterously worshipped.

 

Having referred to the most flagrant instances of Israel’s transgressions in the past —

Gibeah in the time of the judges, Baal-peor at a still earlier period even in the days

of Moses, and having merely indicated the parallel between their present sin and

previous enormities,  in the last four verses, the prophet proceeds to denounce the

punishments deserved  and ready to descend upon them.

 

11 As for Ephraim, their glory shall fly away like a bird, from

the birth, and from the womb, and from the conception.”  The greatest

glory, perhaps, of Ephraim was their fruitfulness — “double fruitfulness”

being the very meaning of the name and the multiplication of their

numbers; now that glory of their numbers was to vanish speedily and

entirely, like birds winging their way swiftly and out of sight. After the

figure comes the fact, and it is expressed in anti-climactic form — no

childbearing, no pregnancy, no conception. The course of barrenness takes the

place of the blessing of fruitfulness.

 

 

     God’s Goodness Met with Ingratitude by a Sinful People (vs. 10-11)

 

Instead of repenting of their sins, they persevered in their rebellion against

God. As if God overlooked or connived at their enormities, they added

their deep corruption in the matter of Gibeah, in the days of the judges, to

the iniquity of Baal-peor at a still earlier period; while the sins of Gibeah

and Baal-peor were equaled by those of the prophet’s own day.

 

  • THE DELIGHT WHICH GOD TOOK IN THEIR FATHERS. Their

sainted sires had been the favorites of Heaven; the fathers and founders

of their race had sought God’s “face and favor free;” and, walking in His

ways, enjoyed His benediction.

 

Ø      God’s pleasure in the piety of His people is truly astonishing,

though that piety is entirely traceable to His own gracious

dealings with them. When a weary wanderer in a wilderness

comes upon grapes rich and ripe, or figs the first and finest of

the season, how he is refreshed by fruits so rare and luscious!

Such is the strong and suggestive figure by which God expresses

His delight in His servants of old; nor does He take less delight

in them in the present than in the ancient days. Men like Abraham

the faithful, or Isaac the meditative, or Jacob the prayerful, or

Joseph the pure, or Moses the meek, ENJOY THE SUNSHINE

OF GOD’S FAVOR STILL!

 

Ø      Where much is given much is required (Luke 12:48).  If God thus

delights in His people, surely His people should delight in God.

If God views with such complacency the fruit of His own Spirit’s

operations in the hearts of His people, and the effects of His own

grace seen reflected in their lives, surely it is our bounden duty

as well as high privilege to reciprocate in some measure THE

DIVINE GOODNESS,  delighting in the Divine ordinances,

living in the Divine service, and promoting the Divine glory.

 

Ø      God is particularly delighted with the first-fruits, and not only

so, but with FIRST OF THE FIRST-FRUITS!  Here is special

encouragement to the young to devote themselves early to God,

and early to delight themselves in Him.  (“Remember now

thy Creator in the days of thy youth…..”  - Ecclesiastes 12:1;

“My son, give me thine heart” – (Proverbs 232:26).  They are

invited to give their young hearts to God when the dew of their

youth is heavy upon them — when their perception is keen, their

conscience tender, their affections warm, and their memory

retentive (Something that I can appreciate at 69 years of age –

CY – 2012)

 

  • THEIR DEGENERACY. Their fathers had been to God as grapes in a

desert land, and as the first ripe in the fig tree at her first time; but the

degenerate descendants of such godly ancestry had become like fruit bitter

and sour. They resembled fruitless fig trees, or the wild vine with its small

harsh berries; and that, notwithstanding all Jehovah’s care and culture

Isaiah 5:1-5), they had long ceased to walk in the ways or follow the steps

of their godly forefathers. The holiness of those forefathers, refreshing as

grapes of best quality and figs of the first growth to the heart of God, was

no longer to be found; their fruit was sour, their ways corrupt. The God

of their fathers had ceased to be their God. “Oh! it is a comfortable thing,”

says an old divine, “when a child is able to say, as Exodus 15:2, ‘My God,’

and “My father’s God.” “God was my father’s God, and delighted in my

 father; and, BLESSED BE HIS NAME, HE  IS MY GOD,  and I hope

He has some delight in me.”  (God has been faithful to you and me since

Adam.  If just one of our ancestors had not made it, you or I WOULD

NOT EXIST!  Zephaniah 3:17 tells us that God “sings” over or about

you and me!  As critical as I am of tattoos, because God has told us to

put no marks on our bodies (Leviticus 19:28), is not it wonderful that

God has engraved us on His hand for remembrance!!!!   Isaiah 49:16;

see Song of Solomon 8:6  - CY – 2012)

 

  • THEIR DEPRAVITY. They for their part (the use of the pronoun

adds emphasis) went to Baal-peor.

 

Ø      Here they are either contrasted with their godly forefathers, or

the contrast is rather between God’s care and goodness on the

one hand, and their ingratitude and baseness on the other. The

complaint of God resembles that of a fond and indulgent husband

who has lavished his love on a worthless wife, and who, to his

unspeakable mortification, discovers that he has been cherishing

an adulteress. Instead of reciprocating his affection, she plays the

wanton; instead of a suitable return for his many acts of kindness,

tenderness, and care, she dishonors him by turning aside

to some base adulterer. So with Israel when they turned from the

living God to dumb idols; so with any people who, instead of

setting their affections on God, transfer them to any earthly,

sensual, or sinful object.

 

Ø      We see in the conduct of Israel a notable example of the perverted

use of THE DIVINE MERCIES!   God had segregated Israel from

the nations around them, and separated them to himself to be a

peculiar people. The Nazarite who by his vow was separated and

specially consecrated to Jehovah, was symbolical of the whole

nation in its separation and consecration to God.  But, regardless

of God’s mercy and reckless of their own privileges, they

separated themselves to the service of a shameful idol. When

they went to Baal-peor, whether the idol itself or rather the place

of the idol (the same as Beth-peor), they engaged with full

consecration, rather desecration, of all their powers in the

infamous worship of Baal, here called Bosheth, their shame.

 

Ø      Their abominations were according as they loved (v.10); that is:

 

o       they became as abominable as that which they loved; or

o       their abominable idols were multiplied according to their

heart’s desire; or

o       their abominations were according as they loved. They were

guided in the choice of them, not, of course, by the Word

of God nor by the Law of God, but by their own inclination.

 

In matters connected with religion and religious worship men

should beware of being influenced by their personal likings, or

private inclinations, or aesthetic tastes, but MAKE SURE OF

A WARRANT FROM THE WORD OF GOD!   Another evil

is to be avoided in this matter, that of allowing our judgment to

be overmastered by our affections, and thus of being unduly

influenced in our religious views by those whom we love, whether

husband, or wife, or kindred, or friends, or family. If the other

sense be preferred, according to which people become as

abominable as the objects which they love, it is an illustration of

the well-known principle that men come to resemble those whom

they love. (Even those who make idols are not exempt:  “they

that make them are like unto them:  so is every one that

trusteth in them.”  - Psalm 135:18 – CY – 2012)  A child imitates

and so gets assimilated to the parent whom he loves; looking

up to and admiring that parent, he comes in time to resemble him

in habits of thought and modes of acting.

 

Ø      Here, in passing, we observe one of the many references and

allusions of the prophet to the earlier books of Scripture. Through

the evil counsel of Balaam a stumbling-block was placed in the

way of the people of Israel, when they were enticed to impurity

and so to idolatry by the daughters of Moab, and when, in

consequence of their sin in the matter of Baal-peor, so

many thousands perished in the plague.  (Numbers 25)

 

  • THEIR DESTRUCTION. Ephraim’s glory consisted of many

elements — prosperity, pomp, and power, but most especially their

population and numerous progeny as contributing to that population. In

this particularly did Ephraim glory; but the day of their glory comes to a

SPEEDY and DISASTROUS END!

 

Ø      The departure of their glory is compared to the flight of a bird, and thus

that departure is represented as sudden, like the flight of a bird when it

is startled from its nest in the greenwood, or when some one throws

open the door of the cage in the dwelling where it has been imprisoned;

as swift, like the flight of the eagle toward heaven; as irretrievable, like

the bird of powerful pinion, which distances pursuit and escapes beyond

the possibility of being ever caught or found again.

 

Ø      Disaster awaits them at every stage — conception, gestation,

and parturition. The curse of God pursues them from first to last,

hindering the conception, or causing abortion, or preventing

 the birth.

 

 “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory

 in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him that glorieth

 glory in this, that he under-standeth and knoweth me, that I AM THE LORD,

 which exercise loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth:

 for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.”  (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

 

What reason we have to bless God for his preserving care! He preserved us

in the very conception, preserved us in our mother’s womb, and then in the

birth; and then in the cradle, in our childhood, in our youth, in our middle age,

and in our old age; FOR WE LIE AT HIS MERCY AT EACH POINT OF

OUR LIFETIME!

 

“Thy providence my life sustained,

     And all my wants redressed,

When in the silent womb I lay,

     And hung upon the breast.”

 

12 “Though they bring up their children, yet will I bereave them, that there

shall not be a man left.:” -  Even if their sons should grow up to manhood and attain

maturity, yet they would be cut off by the sword and swept away by death, so that

their progeny would perish.  This accords with the threatened punishment of

unfaithfulness recorded in Deuteronomy 32:25, “The sword without, and terror

within, shall destroy both the young man and the virgin, the suckling also with

 the man of grey hairs.” The negative sense of min, equivalent to “so that not,” is

common before verbs, also before nouns the min being put for the fuller

twOyh]me“yea, woe also to them when I depart from them!” This accounts

for the coming calamity; it is THE DEPARTURE OF JEHOVAH FROM

ISRAEL, AND THE WITHDRAWAL OF HIS FAVOR!   The word rWc

 

  • stands for rWs, sin and samech being interchanged; or
  • it may be for rWv, sin put for shin by a clerical error.

 

The meaning is a little different: “when I look away from them.” Rashi

mentions the fact that this word belongs to those words written with sin

but read with samech. His comment on the verse is correct: “For what

benefit have they when they bring up their children? Because, if they do

bring them up, then I bereave them so that they do not become men;”

similarly Kimchi: “If there be some among them who escape these mishaps

and reach the birth, and they (the parents) bring them up yet shall they die

in youth, and never reach the season when they shall be called men.”

The misreading of yric;B] instead of yriWcB] by the Septuagint  led to the

strange misrendering, “Wherefore also there is a woe to them (though) my

flesh is of them (dio>ti kai< oujai< aujtoi~v ejsti sa>rx mon ejx aujtw~n

- dioti kai ouai autois esti sarx auton) of which Cyril connects the first

member with the preceding words, and, detaching the remainder, interpreted,

“Let my flesh be far for exemption from the punishment threatened.”

 

13  Ephraim, as I saw Tyrus, is planted in a pleasant place: but Ephraim

shall bring forth his children to the murderer.”  The first member of this verse

has called forth great diversity of translation and interpretation. It were tedious,

and not conducive to the right understanding of the verse, to enumerate the

various expositions given of it.  A very few of the most important may be briefly

noticed:

 

  • The Septuagint, reading dWxl;, μr,yneb], rendered, “Ephraim, even as I saw,

gave her children for a prey (eijv qh>ran thaeran)”

 

  • Ewald, conjecturing hr;Wx, renders,” Ephraim is, as I judge, according

to the form, a planting in a meadow.” Rejecting both these, we come

 

  • to that of Gesenius: “Ephraim, like Tyre(as if it were Tyro), is planted

in a beautiful meadow;” De Wette’s is,” Ephraim, when (or if) I look as far

as Tyre, is planted on a pleasant meadow;” Keil has, “Ephraim, as I

selected it for a Tyre planted in the valley; so shall Ephraim lead out its

sons to the murderer.” All these renderings are faulty in one respect or

other; some of them miss the sense altogether, and others of them obscure it.

 

  • The rendering that appears to us simplest, most in harmony with the

Hebrew, and most suitable to the context, is that of Wunshe, but with a

modification that of a secure dwelling-place instead of meadow: “Ephraim,

as I look towards Tyre, is planted on a meadow [rather, ‘sure resting place’],

and Ephraim must lead out its sons to the murderer.” The meaning,

then, is that Ephraim is a lovely land in whatever direction one looks

towards it, like the famous Tyre; it was beautiful and blooming, populous

as well as pleasant; or rather, strong in its natural fortifications, like the

famous capital of Phoenicia; YET THE WRATH OF HEAVEN

HUNG OVER IT!  it would become waste and emptied of its male

population, Ephraim being obliged to send forth the bravest of her sons

to repel the hostile invader, and to perish in the tumult of the battle. By

combining a part of Rashi’s exposition with part of Kimchi’s, we reach

the correct sense. Rashi has, “Ephraim as I look towards TyrE, which

in its prosperity is crowned above all cities, so I look upon Ephraim

planted on a meadow;” so far the explanation is correct, not so what

follow: “And Ephraim — how does he reward me? He is busied in bringing

forth his sons to the murderer in order to sacrifice them to idols;” in

place of this latter part we substitute the following of Kimchi: “The enemies

shall come upon them, and they shall march out from their cities to meet them

in battle, and the enemies shall slay them.” The infinitive with le, ayxiwhl],

implies the necessity imposed on Ephraim to do so. Ephraim is to lead out,

or must lead out, his sons to the murderer. ‘And Ephraim is for bringing

forth his sons to the slayer;’ or, as this is the entire scope and object in

regard to which Ephraim is here considered — is to or must bring forth.”

 

 14 “Give them, O Lord: what writ thou give? give them a miscarrying womb

and dry breasts.”   The prophet seems at a loss to know what he should ask for his

countrymen. Though it was not total excision, but rather diminution of

numbers, that was threatened in accordance with the statement, If thou

wilt not observe to do all the words of this Law... ye shall be left few in

number, whereas ye were as the stars of heaven for multitude”  (Deuteronomy

28:62);   yet at every stage their offspring was to be cut off, or, if spared to arrive at

manhood, it was only to fall by the hand of the murderer. No wonder, then, the

prophet is perplexed in regard to the petition that would be most expedient for

them. He hardly knew what was best to ask on their behalf.

 

  • The thought at length flashed upon him that utter childishness was

preferable to bringing up children to be slain with the sword or

 trained in idolatry; hence he prayed for what he regarded as the less

calamity“a miscarrying womb and dry breasts.”

 

  • Or the prophet is agitated between compassion for his countrymen and

indignation at their sin. Justly indignant at the heinousness of their iniquity,

he is about to appeal to Heaven for vengeance on the transgressors, but in

pity for the erring people he checks the half-uttered imprecation, or softens

it into the milder request for their extinction by childlessness.

 

After the interruption by the excited question of the prophet in v.14, the terrible storm

of denunciation sweeps on to the end of the chapter.

 

15 All their wickedness is in Gilgal: for there I hated them:” -

or, there I conceived hatred against them, the verb being used in an

inchoative sense. Gilgal had been the scene of many mercies:

 

  • there the rite of circumcision, the seal of the Abrahamic covenant,

after its omission dining the sojourn in the wilderness, was renewed;

(Joshua 5:1-9)

  • there the Passover, also intermitted from its second observance at Sinai,

was kept;   (Ibid. v.10)

  • there the twelve memorial stones had been set up;  (Ibid. ch. 4:1-9)
  • there the Captain of the host of the Lord had appeared to Joshua, reassuring

him of Divine protection;  (Ibid. ch.5:10-15)

  • there the tabernacle had stood before its removal to Shiloh;

 

yet that very place — a place of such blessing and solemn covenanting-

had become the scene of idolatry and iniquity. The wickedness of Israel had

been concentrated there as in a focus:

 

  • there Israel’s rejection of the theocracy in  its spiritual form had taken place;

(I Samuel 8-11)

  • there that first-plague-spot of ruin had been contracted;
  • there the calf-worship had been developed;
  • there the form of civil government had been shaped according to their

own erring fancy, and their mode of religious worship had been corrupted.

 

Thus Gilgal had become the center of all their sin; but the scene of mercy became the

source of wrath, for there God’s fatherly love was turned by Israel’s wickedness

 into  hatred. - “for the wickedness of their doings I will drive them out of my

house, I will love them no more:  all their princes are revolters.”  They were

driven out like Hagar out of the house of the patriarch, that Ishmael might not inherit

with Isaac; like an unfaithful wife divorced and driven out of the house of the husband

whom she has dishonored; or like an undutiful and disobedient son whom his father

has disinherited. Further, God disowns the rebellious son, and acknowledges

the paternal relationship no longer. The princes of Israel had become

rebellions and stubborn: by an impressive Hebrew paronomasia, their

sarim, rulers, had become sorerim, revolters.

 

16 “Ephraim is smitten, their root is dried up, they shall bear no fruit:” - 

Ephraim is a pleasant plant, but a worm has smitten the root and it has withered;

Ephraim is a goodly tree, but the lightning of heaven has scorched and dried it up;

there may be leafage for a time, but no fruitage ever – “yea, though they bring forth,

yet will I slay the beloved fruit of their womb.”  The desires — margin, dear

delights, or, darlings — perish, and so the figure is now dropped, and the

fact is seen in all its severe and stern reality, while the dread denunciation

of vs. 11- 12 is repeated and emphasized.

 

17 My God will cast them away, because they did not hearken unto Him;

and they shall be wanderers among the nations.”  The prophet submits his will

to the Divine will, and acquiesces in the disposals of His providence, and in his own

proper person predicts Israel’s coming doom. He fills up the outline of the

dark picture by stating the cause of their rejection. He specifies at the same

time the character of rejection, namely, dispersion among the nations, like

driven from their nest, for so the term term nodedim denotes

 

 

                        The Wicked Shall Not Go Unpunished (vs. 12-17)

 

If the wicked escape one calamity, they are sure to be overtaken and overwhelmed

by another.

 

  • CALAMITY OF TWO KINDS THREATENED. There is:

 

Ø      BEREAVEMENT, and that of a most painful nature. To be childless

altogether, or to lose children in infancy, is sorrowful enough; but to be

bereft of children when they have grown up to manhood or womanhood

is an unspeakably greater sorrow. After labor, and trouble, and care,

and thought have been expended in their upbringing; after all difficulties

have been surmounted; and when sons have become like plants grown

up in their youth, and daughters like corner-stones polished after the

similitude of a palace (Psalm 144:12); when the conduct of both is

characterized by dutifulness, love, and obedience; and when parents

naturally expect much help and comfort from them, and have their

affections twined round them — at such a time, to be deprived of

them either by a sudden stroke, or by slow disease, is a condition

more than ordinarily sorrowful. It is only the grace of God in

large measure that can sustain and support parents so afflicted;

while the exercise of grace on their part has no doubt compensatory

blessings. The bereavement of Israel was to be complete-without a

man left. If left, they might be left without the intellect of a man, or the

physical strength of a man; they might be imbeciles or invalids, and

thus in a worse condition than if not left at all.

 

Ø      But a still worse woe impends, namely, that of DIVINE

DESERTION!   This is God’s withdrawal from a people or

a person. When He thus withdraws, He withdraws His goodness

and mercy, common graces, gifts, and comforts.  When this

withdrawal takes place we are utterly helpless; as the king of

Israel said to the poor woman who cried for help, “If the Lord do

not help thee, whence shall I help thee?” (II Kings 6:27) - or as

the apparition of Samuel to Saul, “Wherefore then dost thou ask

of me, seeing the Lord is departed from thee and is become

thine enemy?”  (I Samuel 28:16) - We may pass through fiery trials,

or be plunged in the deep waters of affliction; but if we enjoy the

DIVINE PRESENCE  we need not be afraid. As long as the

 Lord of hosts is with us, and the God of Jacob is our Refuge,

we need not fear the raging of the great sea-billows, or the upheaval

of the mountains, or even the shock of the earthquake (See Habakkuk

3:17-19).  THE SOREST OF ALL TROUBLES IS TO BE

FORSAKEN BY GOD!   Oh, how sad the lot of a man who, forsaken

by God, is left in the power of his enemies! “I am sore distressed,”

said the unhappy monarch (Saul); “for the Philistines make war

against  me, and God is departed from me AND ANSWERETH

ME NO MORE.”  (I Samuel 28:15)

 

  • A COMPARISON INSTITUTED. Ephraim is compared to Tyre in

prosperity, in position, in population, and in military prowess; and yet God

was preparing to take His departure from them.

 

Ø      His presence maintains health, strength, and various other comforts;

or if, in His wise providence, He sees fit to withdraw any of these, He

sanctifies that withdrawal. But when God Himself withdraws, then His

mercies prepare for flight too; NOR IS ANY MERCY LEFT

BEHIND!   Not only so; even when men are at the height of prosperity,

as they think, God may be on the point of departing from them, as from

Israel in the days of Jeroboam II., if we are right in referring this

comparison  of the prophet to that period.

 

Ø      How we should prize God’s presence and pray for its continuance,

saying, “LEAVE US NOT” and avoid whatever would force or

hasten his departure! But HOW MAY WE BE SURE THAT HE

HAS NOT ALREADY LEFT US?  (This is the question that

America should be addressing the Christmastime – 2012 – CY)

  The answer may be learned from the words of the psalmist: “I will

 keep thy statutes: oh, forsake me not utterly” (Psalm 119:8).

As long as we are resolved to keep His statutes, we may have little

fellowship with, but cannot be forsaken by, God.

 

How dreadful THE DOOM OF THOSE  from WHOM GOD

HAS ACTUALLY ALREADY DEPARTED!  It is like the

withdrawal of the sun from the firmament.  (I regret to use

Elton John as an example but it will me much worse than his

powerful song “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” –  I

just played it on You Tube while finishing this paragaraph - CY –

2012) “Take a delightful summer’s day, and how beautiful it is!

Now compare that with a winter’s dark, dismal night. What makes

the difference between these two? The presence of the sun in the

one, and its absence from the other. This is but the presence or the

departing of only one of God’s creatures.  Oh,  if that makes

such a difference in the world, WHAT MUST THE PRESENCE

 OR DEPARTING OF THE INFINITE GOD BE?   In the case

of Ephraim, their children are brought forth to the murderers — not

only murdered, but that murder perpetrated before the eyes of their

parents. This seems the severest stroke of all. Even a heathen poet

has most pathetically portrayed the extreme sadness of this condition

in the death of Polites, a son of Priam, who addresses his murderer

Pyrrhus in the well-known words: “May the gods, if there be any

 kind power in heaven to watch such deeds, yield you your due

 reward, who have defiled the father’s eyes by the sight

of his son’s murder.”

 

  • COMMISERATION EXPRESSED. The prophet prays for his

people, but seems straitened in his petitions, or rather he is at a loss to

know what was most expedient for them and conducive to the Divine

glory. He does not pray for peace, nor for deliverance, nor for prosperity.

He dared not venture. He knew too well the sins of his countrymen, THEIR

ABUSE OF DIVINE MERCIES,  their contempt of warning, their hardness

of heart, their seared conscience, and their gross misuse of all means

used for their recovery. No wonder he pauses and hesitates. He cannot

pray for a numerous progeny to be vouchsafed to his people, or for

children at all.  Better they should never come into the world at all than

 to be made the prey of the spoiler; better not to be born than to become

victims of the murderer; better perish before birth or from the birth than

live a life of sin and misery, and die a death of violence and hopelessness!

At length, in view of the sinfulness of the people, the misery of times not

far distant, and the fast-approaching calamities, he prays either that

children might not be born at all, or that they might not be sustained so as

long to survive their birth.  (Ponder Jesus’ prophetic words concerning

those living at the fall of Jerusalem (Luke 23:28-29)

 

  • CRIMINALITY EXPOSED. We are here reminded of the plan of

Israel’s criminal conduct, of the punishment of it, and of the princes who

were ringleaders in it.

 

Ø      The place of their chief and greatest crimes was Gilgal. What a

Contrast!  The place that testified to God’s greatest mercies

also witnessed Israel’s greatest wickedness.

 

o       In Gilgal the memorial stones were set up after the

passage of the Jordan;

 

o       in Gilgal the first Passover was celebrated after the

Exodus;

 

o       in Gilgal the rite of circumcision was renewed and the

reproach of Egypt rolled away;

 

o       in Gilgal Israel first ate the fruits of the promised land

(see comments on v. 15 above for scripture references).

 

Yet all their wickedness, THEIR CHIEF WICKEDNESS WAS

WROUGHT THERE!   

 

o       There they threw off the government of God by judges, and

would have Saul to be their king;

 

o       there, in their superstition, they worshipped God instead of at

Jerusalem, and thus trampled underfoot the Divine appointment.

 

The more God signalizes a person or place by His mercies, the more

severe His judgments on the wickedness of such. Every time God’s

eye rested on Gilgal, a feeling of hatred was roused against the

works and workers of iniquity there.

 

Ø      The punishment of their wickedness was expulsion. “Some sins,” as has

been said, “provoke God to anger, and some to grief, but some to hatred.”

There I hated them.’ It is dreadful when our sins provoke hatred. This is

the great difference between the sins of the saints and others. The sins of

the saints may anger God, may grieve God, but the sins of others provoke

God to hatred.” That hatred manifests itself in THEIR EXPULSION.

 They are driven out of God’s house, and so nationally unchurched

 as a disobedient and unruly child is driven out of his father’s

house, or as a rebellious and unruly servant is turned out of the

 house of his master; while son and servant receive no more tokens

of favor or good will.

 

Ø      Their princes, one and all, set the bad example of rebellion and revolt.

As “like priest, like people” (ch. 4:9), so like prince, like people.

Persons in high places have it in their power to do much good or work

much evil by their influence and example; for such they are responsible,

and shall one day be called to account. Of every talent given us, whether

health, or wealth, or influence, or opportunities of doing or getting good,

we must all one day give an exact account.  (II Corinthians 5:10)

 

  • CONSUMPTION COMPLETED. A tree may lose its leaves, but a

following spring will restore them; it may lose some of its branches in the

process of pruning, but this will not prevent it growing again. Yea, “there

is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that

 the tender branch thereof will not cease. Though the root thereof wax

old in the earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground; yet through

the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant”

(Job 14:7-9).  So long as the root retains life, there is hope of the tree; but

once the root is dried up and dead, ruin is inevitable. Thus Ephraim was

smitten; thus many are smitten in just judgment from the Almighty. When

the root is thus dried up, there can be no hope of fruit. If men will bear fruit

to the world, or sin, or self, and not unto God, it is only just they should

 be left fruitless. If men will not bring up their children for God, training them

in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4), is it strange they

should be left childless? 

 

  • CASTAWAYS AMONG THE NATIONS. This is the condition in

which Israel remains till the present day. They cast away the truth of God,

and now they are cast away. They rejected the Son; for He came to His own

realms, and His subjects received Him not; now they are outcast (John 1:11).

Note the cause: “Because they did not hearken unto him” (v.17).  This

was regarded by Luther as a notable statement, and worthy to be written on

all our walls.  How often we find men hearkening to the counsels of the

wicked, or to the suggestions of worldly policy, or to the temptations

of the evil one, or to their own lusts and passions, BUT NOT TO GOD!

 Let men beware of refusing to give audience to God. Let them beware of

acting as if they did not hear with the ear, nor understand with the heart.

Every Jew one meets is a warning of the danger of not hearkening to God.

While every Jew is a living monument to the truth of Scripture, he is at the

same time a proof of the calamity incurred by not hearkening to God.

It is here predicted that they should be wanderers among the nations. The

fulfillment of the prediction may be expressed in the sadly truthful words of

the Hebrew melody —

 

“Tribes of the wandering foot and weary breast,

How shall ye flee away and be at rest!

The wild dove hath her nest, the fox his cave,

Mankind their country; Israel but the grave!”

 

 

 

           

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