Hosea 11
Pulpit Commentary
When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.
Verse 1. - When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt. Driver uses this verse to exemplify the principle that when the reference is to what is past or certain, rather than to what is future or indefinite, we find the predicate or the apodosis introduced by וַּ, though not with nearly the same frequency as ל perfect and vav causes

(1) with subject or object pre-fixed;

(2) after time-determinations.

The life of a nation has its stages of rise, progress, and development, like the life of an individual man. The prophet goes back to that early period when the national life of Israel was in its infancy; it was then that a few patriarchs who had gone down to sojourn in Egypt were becoming a people; the predicate precedes, to emphasize, that early day when Israel became God's peculiar people. The ray marks the apodosis recording God's love in choosing that people, calling them into the relation of sonship, and delivering them out of Egypt. Thus Kimchi says, "When Israel was vet a child, i.e. in Egypt, then I loved him, therefore I am more angry with them than with the rest of the nations; for from their youth onward I have loved them, and delivered them out of the bands of their enemies. But when they transgress my commandments it is incumbent on me to chastise them as a man chastises his son."

(1) The people of Israel is called God's son in consequence of God choosing them and bringing them into close relationship to himself, such as that of a son to a father. The commencement was the message to Pharaoh by Moses in the words, "Israel is my son, even my firstborn: and I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me." This sonship was solemnly ratified by the giving of the Law at Sinai; and the condition clearly stated that, in the event of their preserving the knowledge of God, fulfilling his Law, and doing his will, they would at all times enjoy Divine protection, defense, and blessing, while from generation to generation they were addressed by that honorable title.

(2) As the deliverance hem Egypt is always described as a "leading" or "bringing out," and never elsewhere as a "calling out," some expositors maintain that the words, "out of Egypt," signify from the time Israel was in Egypt, and are parallel to "when Israel was a child," both referring to time, the time of national infancy. From that period God began to manifest his love, and in its manifestation he called him by the endearing name of "son" - my son. The words of this verse are applied by St. Matthew to the sojourn of Jesus in Egypt. The older interpreters refer

(a) the first part of the verse to Israel and the second part typically to the history of Messiah's childhood, in whom that of Israel reached its completeness. Rather

(b) the verse was applied typically to Israel, and to Jesus as the antitype; to the former primarily, and to the latter secondarily. Thus the head and the members are comprehended in one common prediction.
As they called them, so they went from them: they sacrificed unto Baalim, and burned incense to graven images.
Verse 2. - As they called them, so they went from them: they sacrificed unto Baalim, and burned incense to graven images.

(1) Adverting to his own call mentioned in the first verse, God here refers to the many subsequent calls which he addressed to them through his servants the prophets and other messengers.

(2) The subject of the verb is erroneously understood by some, as, for example, Aben Ezra and Eichhorn, to be the idols, or their false priests or prophets; while

(3) Jerome is also mistaken in referring the words to the time of Israel's rebelling when Moses and Aaron wished to lead them out of Egypt. The correct reference is that first stated, and the sense is that, instead of appreciating the invitations and monitions of the prophets of God, they showed their utter insensibility and thanklessness, turning away from them in contempt and scorn. Nay, the more the messengers of God called them, the more they turned a deaf ear to those who were their truest friends and best advisers. Pursuing their idolatrous practices, they sacrificed to Baal, that is to say, the various representations of that idol, and burned incense to their images, whether of wood or stone or precious metal. Thus Kimchi correctly comments as follows: "The prophets which I sent to them called to them morning and evening to turn to Jehovah, so (much the more) did they go away from them, not hearkening to their words nor desisting from their evil works." The word כֵן, even so, denoting the measure or relation, corresponds to ואשר to be supplied in the first clause. The imperfects imply continuance of action or a general truth.

(4) The Septuagint rendering, followed by the Syriac, is ἐκ προσώπου μου αὐτοὶ, "from my presence: they;" as if they had read on מִפָנַי הֵם instead of the present text.
I taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by their arms; but they knew not that I healed them.
Verse 3. - I taught Ephraim also to fro, taking them by their alms; but they knew not that I healed them. This picture of God's guiding and guarding care of Ephraim is very touching and tender. It is that of an affectionate parent or tender nurse teaching a child to walk by leading-strings; taking it up in the arms when stumbling or making a false step; and in case it fell curing the wound. Thus, nurse-like, God taught Ephraim, his wayward perverse child, to use his feet (so the original word imports), all the while lending considerate help and seasonable aid. He took them by the hand to guide them, that they might not stray; he took them in his arms to hold them up, that they might not stumble and to help them over any obstacle that might lie in the way; and when, left to themselves during a short season, and in order to test their strength, they did stumble and fall, he healed their hurt. And yet they did not apprehend nor appreciate God's gracious design and dealings with them in thus guiding and guarding them, and in healing their diseases both temporal and spiritual. There is, perhaps, an allusion to Exodus 15:26, "I will put none of these diseases upon thee which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee." This promise, it will be remembered, was vouchsafed immediately after the bitter waters of Marah had been sweetened by the tree which, according to Divine direction, had been cast therein. Thus Kimchi: "And they have not acknowledged that I healed them of every sickness and every affliction, as he said, 'I will put none of these diseases upon thee.'" The reference is rather to all those evidences of his love which God manifested to them during their forty years' wandering in the wilderness; or perhaps to his guidance of them by 'his Law throughout their entire history. Rashi remarks that "they knew it very well, but dissembled [literally, 'trod it down with the heel,' equivalent to 'despised'] and acted, as if they did not know." The word תדגלחי is properly taken both by Kimchi and Gesenius

(1) for הרגלחי; the former says; "The tar stands in place of he: this is the opinion of the grammarians;" the latter regards it as a solitary example of Tiphel; others again consider it a corrupt reading instead of the ordinary form of Hiph.

(2) Some take it for a noun, as J. Kimchi, who says it is "a noun after the form of חפארחי, and although the word is Milel (while in תפארחי it is Milra), yet it is the same form;" thus the translation is, "As for me, my guidance was to Ephraim;" so Jerome, "I have been as a nurse to Ephraim;" likewise also Cyril. The former explanation is simpler and also otherwise preferable.

(3) The Septuagint has the incorrect rendering συνεπόδισα, "I bound the feet of Ephraim," which Jerome explains, "I bound the feet of Ephraim that they might not fly further from me," though his own rendering is that given above. The word קהם has also occasioned some difficulty and consequent diversity of explanation.

(1) Some explain it to be an infinitive construct equivalent to the Latin gerund indo, as elsewhere. Thus in the Authorized Version it is "taking them by their arms;' but the common form of the infinitive of this verb is קחַת; besides, the suffixes אָּם and יָאּו are contradictory.

(2) Olshausen and Ewald read אֶקָּהֵם in the first person, the received text having, according to the latter, maintained its place only through ורועחיו; but this is conjectural and wants manuscript authority.

(3) Still worse is Abarbanel's interpretation, who understands the subject of the verb and the suffix of the noun as referring to Ephraim; thus: "He (Ephraim) took them (i.e. the idols) on his arms."

(4) The correct explanation, as we think, is that of Kimchi and Gesenius, who take the verb for לְקָחָם by a not unusual aphaeris of the lamed: "He took them in his arms," the transition from the first to the third person being justified by the pictorially descriptive style of the passage. The following comment of Kimchi is worthy of attention: "The prophet only mentions Ephraim (instead of all Israel), because it was he that made the calves. He says, 'And how does Ephraim reward me for this that I bestowed on them so many benefits, and accustomed them to go on their feet, and did not burthen them with my commandments and my service?' And because he has compared Ephraim to a boy, he uses the word, 'I led them by strings.' Just as one leads a boy that he may accustom himself to go little by little without trouble, so I led them from station to station, when I brought them out of Egypt; I led them gradually without overexertion, the cloud going before them by day, and the pillar of fire by night."
I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love: and I was to them as they that take off the yoke on their jaws, and I laid meat unto them.
Verse 4. - I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love. This verse contains a further representation of Jehovah's fatherly guidance of Israel. The cords of a man are such as parents use in leading weak or young children. Bands of lore qualify more closely the preceding expression, "cords of a man," and are the opposite of those which men employ in taming or breaking wild and unmanageable animals. The explanation of Rashi is similar: "I have always led them with tender cords such as these with which a man leads his child, as if he said with loving guidance." Aben Ezra and Kimchi, in their explanations, carry out more fully the same idea. The former says, "The bands of love are not like the bands which are fastened on the neck of a plowing heifer;" the latter, "Because he compared Ephraim to a heifer, and people lead a heifer with cords, he says, 'I have led Israel by the cords of a man, and not the cords of a heifer which one drags along with resistance, but as a man draws his fellow-man without compelling him to go with resistance: even so I have led them after a gentle method;' and therefore he afterward calls them (cords of a man) bands of love." The LXX., taking חֶבֶל from חָבַל, in the sense of" injure," "destroy," have the mistaken rendering ἐν διαφθορᾶ ἀνθρώτων... ἐξέτεινα αὐτοὺς, "When men were destroyed I drew them." The other Greek versions have the correct rendering. And I was to them as they that take off the yoke. The word herim does not mean "to lift up on" and so "impose a yoke," as some think, nor "to take away the yoke," but "to lift it up." The figure is that of a humane and compassionate husbandman raising upwards or pushing backwards the yoke over the cheeks or dewlaps of the ox, that it may not press too heavily upon him or hinder him while eating. The reference is, according to Kimchi, to "taking the yoke off the neck, and letting it hang on the jaw, that it may not pull but rest from labor one or more hours of the day." The fact thus figuratively expressed is, not the deliverance from the bondage of Egypt, but the loving-kindness of Jehovah in lightening the fulfillment of the Law to Israel.

(2) The LXX. omit the word עֹל, yoke, and strangely translates the clause, "I will be to them as a man smiting (another) on the cheeks." And I laid meat unto them. The older and many modern interpreters,

(1) taking וְאַט as the first person future apoc., Hiph., from נטח, translate, "And I reached them food to eat," namely, the manna in the wilderness. This would require וָאַט, which some substitute for the present reading.

(2) Ewald, Keil, and others take אט as an adverb in the sense of" gradually," "gently," translating, "And gently towards him did I give him feral," or "I gently fed him." Some, again, as Kimchi, take

(a) אוכיל as a noun, after the form of אופיר; and others

(b) take it to be an anomalous form for אַאַכִיל, the first person future Hiph., like אובִיר for אַאֲבִיד (Jeremiah 46:8).

(3) In this clause also the Septuagint, probably reading as follows: וֵאַט אֵלָיו אוּכַל לו, translates, Ἐπιβλέψομαι πρὸς αὐτὸν δυνήσομαι αὐτῷ, "I will have respect to him; I will prevail with him." Continuing the several clauses of this verse, we may express the meaning of the whole as follows: "Cords of a man" denote humane methods which Jehovah employed in dealing with and drawing his people - not such cords as oxen or other animals are drawn by; while "bands of love" is a kindred expression, explaining and emphasizing the former, and signifying such leading-strings as those with which a parent lovingly guides his child. The means employed by God for the help, encouragement, and support of his people were kind as they were bountiful. His benevolent and beneficent modes of procedure are further exhibited by another figure of like origin; for just as a considerate and compassionate man, a humane husbandman, gives respite and relief to the oxen at work by loosening the yoke and lifting it up off the neck upon the cheeks; and thus affords not only temporary rest and ease, but also allows an occasional mouthful or more of food, or even abundant provender, to the animal which toils in the yoke while plowing or at other work; so Jehovah extended to Israel, notwithstanding their frequent acts of unfaithfulness, his sparing mercy and tender compassions, supplying them in abundant measure with all that they needed for the sustenance and even comforts of life. Thus their sin in turning aside to other gods, which were no gods, in quest of larger benefits and more liberal support and succor, was all the more inexcusable. The next three verses (5-7) describe the severe chastisement Israel incurred by ingratitude for, and contempt of, the Divine love.
He shall not return into the land of Egypt, but the Assyrian shall be his king, because they refused to return.
Verse 5. - He shall not return into the land of Egypt, but the Assyrian shall be his king, because they refused to return. These words sound like an announcement that the season of Divine grace, so long extended to that sin-laden people, had at length expired; and that on account of their stubborn and on-grateful rebellion against Jehovah they would be forced, to go into exile and become subject to the monarch of Assyria.

(1) They had been threatened with a return to Egypt and its bondage in Hosea 8:13, "They shall return to Egypt;" and Hosea 9:3, "Ephraim shall return to Egypt;" vet now God, without any change of purpose, changes his mode of procedure, not allowing them to return to Egypt, but dooming them to a worse bondage under the Assyrians.

(2) Having been tributary to Assyria from the time of Menahem, they had revolted and applied to Egypt for help; now, however, no help would be permitted to come from Egypt nor even an opportunity of applying for it allowed. The power of Assyria would be paramount; instead, therefore, of native kings and Egyptian auxiliaries, Israel would have to submit to that iron yoke. However desirous of returning to Egypt, they would have neither the power nor the privilege of doing so. And this poor privilege of a choice of masters they were refused as a just retribution, because they had not repented of their sin and returned to God. Various methods have been resorted to, to harmonize the apparent contradiction alluded to, that is, between the affirmative and negative statements about Israel's return into Egypt.

(1) Dathe, Eichhorn, and De Wette agree with the LXX. in reading לו instead of לא, and connecting it with the preceding verse; but the other versions, as well as the manuscripts, support the received text.

(2) Jerome and Rosenmüller explain it of the people's desire to conclude an alliance with Egypt in order to throw off the yoke of Assyria, being frustrated by the superior power of the latter; thus the sense is that they shall not return any more to Egypt, as they had lately done by their ambassadors, to seek help from that land or its people. Then he assigns the reason why they would not again send ambassadors to Egypt for the purpose indicated, because the Assyrian alone would be their king. The objection to this is that lo yashubu must refer to the whole people rather than to their ambassador going to and fro between the countries.

(3) Ewald, Maurer, and others cut the knot by taking lo interrogatively, as if it were halo, and thus equivalent to an affirmative, i.e. "Shall they not return to Egypt and the Assyrian be their king?" The expected answer would be in the affirmative. Neither grammar nor context sanctions this interrogative sense.

(4) According to Hitzig, Keil, Simson, and others, we are to understand Egypt in the previous places, viz. Hosea 8:13 and Hosea 9:3, as received of the land of bondage, where in the present passage the typical sense is inadmissible, owing to the contrast with Assyria. Into Egypt Israel should not return, lest the object of the Exodus might seem frustrated, but a worse lot lay before them - another and harder bondage awaited them; the King of Assyria would be their king and reign over them, and all because of their impenitence and refusal to return to Jehovah. The following is the explanation of Kimchi: "They should not have returned to the land of Egypt to seek help; I had already said to them, 'Ye shall henceforth return no more that way;' for if they had returned to me, they would not have needed help from Egypt. And against their will Assyria rules over them, and they serve him and send him a present year by year. And why is all this? Because they refused, etc.; as if he said (they refused) to return to me; for if they had returned to me, foreign kings (literally, 'kings of the nations') would not have ruled ever them, but they would have ruled over the nations as they had done in the days of David and Solomon, when they did my will; and so have I assured them, 'Thou shall reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over thee.'" The root of מאן is cognate with מנע, to hold back, refuse; the le strengthens the connection of the objectival infinitive with the governing verb; the ellipsis of אֵלֶי is obvious.
And the sword shall abide on his cities, and shall consume his branches, and devour them, because of their own counsels.
Verse 6. - And the sword shall abide on his cities, and shall consume his branches, and devour them. A more accurate rendering would be, and the sword shall sweep round in its cities, and destroy its bolts and devour. Nay, they could not free themselves from invasion and attack. The sword of war would whirl down upon their cities and consume the branches, that is, the villages, or the city bars, or the strong warriors set for defense. Some understand the word so variously interpreted in the sense of "liars," and refer it to the prophets, priests, and politicians who spake falsehood and. acted deceitfully. The word הלח is rendered

(1) "the sword," as the principal weapon in ancient warfare and the symbol of war's destructive power shall sweep round in, circulate, or make the round of the cities of Israel; but

(2) others," whirl down," "light on ;" thus both Rashi and Kimchi. Again, בַדּים is, as already intimated, variously rendered. The most appropriate translation

(a) is (literally, "poles for carrying the ark," Exodus 25:13) "bolts or bars" for securing gates, the root being בדד, to separate.

(b) Some explain it as a figure for "mighty men;" so Jerome and the Targum, as also Rashi: "It destroys his heroes and consumes them." this is the meaning of the word preferred by Gesenius.

(c) Ewald understands it in the sense of "fortresses," especially on the frontier, by which a land is shut against or opened to the enemy.

(d) Aben Ezra and Kimchi take it to mean "branches," i.e. villages, and are followed by the Authorized Version. "The explanation of בי," says Kimchi, "is ' branches,' and it is a figure for villages, for he had already mentioned his cities; and villages are related to cities as branches to a tree; in like manner they are called ' daughters,' being related to a city as daughters to a mother."

(e) The LXX. render it by ἐν ταῖς χερσὶν αὐτοῦ, having read בְיָדָיו, as also the Syriac. Because of their own counsels. The cause of all their calamitous invasions, which city gates barred and bolted could not shut out, was their evil counsels in departing from the Lord, as Kimchi correctly explains: "All this comes upon them in consequence of their evil counsel, because they have forsaken my service to serve other gods." Rashi draws attention to the peculiarity of the accentuation - tasha and sellug - to separate it from the preceding word. The Septuagint here again blunders, obviously reading וְאָכְלוּ, and translating, "And shall eat (the fruit) of their evil counsel."
And my people are bent to backsliding from me: though they called them to the most High, none at all would exalt him.
Verse 7. - And my people are bent to backsliding from me. This first clause of the verse is very expressive, every word almost having an emphasis of its own. With all their sinfulness and shortcomings, Israel was still the people of God - my people; they were guilty of the sin of backsliding, and of backsliding from God, the best of benefactors and their chief good. Nor was it occasionally and after long intervals of time that they backslided; it was their habit, their tendency. They were suspended on, or rather fastened on, backsliding. Though they called them to the Most High, none at all would exalt him; margin, together they exalted him not. This second clause signifies either

(1) that the prophets called Israel from their idols to the Host High, yet none exalted him (literally, "together they did not or would not exalt him") by abandoning their idols and abstaining from backsliding; or,

(2) "though they call him (Israel) upwards, yet not one of them all will lift himself up," that is, they together - one and all - refused or neglected to lift themselves upward towards God or goodness. The word תלוּאיס is equivalent to תְלֻאִים, the same as תלוים, from תלא, equivalent to תָלָה, so that it signifies, according to Keil,

(1) "suspended," "hung up, hanging fast upon," "impaled on; ' Hengstenberg,

(2) "swaying about from inconstancy," and "in danger of falling away;" but Pusey seems to combine both in the original sense of the word, and explains it as follows: "Literally, hung to it! as we say, 'a man's whole being hangs on a thing.' A thing hung to or on another sways to and fro within certain limits, but its relation to that on which it is hung remains immovable, Its power of motion is restrained within these limits. So Israel, so the sinner, however he veer to and fro in the details and circumstances of his sin, is fixed and immovable in his adherence to his sin itself." Though Rashi and the Targum of Jonathan make משובה as synonymous with תשובתּ, thus: "When the prophets teach them to return to me, they are in suspense whether to return or not to return; with difficulty do they return to me," - they are, however, distinguished as turning away from and turning to God - aversion frets anal conversion to him; while the suffix יִ is objective, that is, "My people are hung to apostatizing from me." The phrase אֶל־עַל is variously interpreted, by some as

(1) "upwards," the prophets being the subject; thus Rashi: "To the matter that is above him (Israel) the prophets call him unitedly; but my people do not lift themselves up nor desire to do it." Corruption was so deeply seated in Israel, that the idle mass gave no response to the voice of the prophets urging them upwards.

(2) Aben Ezra and Kimchi both take על as an adjective, and synonymous with אֶלְון, the Most High. Kimchi explains as follows: "He says, My people oscillate between distress and freedom; sometimes distress comes upon them, and again they are in the condition of freedom, and this takes place for their backsliding from me, as if he said, because of the backsliding and rebellion which they practice against me... The prophets call them constantly to return to God most high." So Aben Ezra: "The interpretation is, the callers call him to the Most High, and they are the prophets of God; but they all in one way raise not the head."

(3) Jerome takes it for עֹל, a yoke, and renders accordingly: "But a yoke shall be imposed on them together, that is not taken away." The verb ירְומְם signifies,

(1) according to Gesenius and many others, "to celebrate with praises," or "extol." It is rather

(2) "to lift one's self up," "rise upwards;" nor is it necessary with this sense to supply ירְלֺאשׁו, his head, with Grotius, nor yet to understand it written for or in the sense of ירְומַם, with Joseph Kimchi. Similarly the Syriac: "They call him to God, but they think together, conspire, and do not raise themselves." The word יתד is "all together," and therefore יַחַדלא is "no one." The LXX. translate

(3) the second clause as follows: "But God shall be angry with his precious things, and shall not at all exalt him," having probably read וְאֶל־עַל יְקָרָיו יִהַר
How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? how shall I deliver thee, Israel? how shall I make thee as Admah? how shall I set thee as Zeboim? mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together.
Verse 8. - How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? how shall I deliver thee, Israel how shall I make thee as Admah? how shall I set thee as Zeboim? This verse paves the way for transition to promise. Although the Israelites on account of such conduct had merited complete annihilation, yet Jehovah, for his love and mercy's sake, substitutes grace for justice, and will not destroy them from off the face of the earth. One rendering

(1) gives the clause the turn of an exclamation rather than of an interrogation; thus: "How readily and justly could I [or should I, or how thoroughly could I if I punished thy rebellion as I deserved] give thee up to destruction!" We prefer

(2) the ordinary rendering, by which it is treated as a question: "How shall I give thee up to the power of the enemy, and not only that, but destroy thee?" Calvin's exposition seems indeed to favor the former: "Here," he says, "God consults what he is to do with the people; and first, indeed, he shows that it was his purpose to execute vengeance such as the Israelites deserved, even wholly to destroy them; but yet he assumes the character of one deliberating, that none might think that he hastily fell into anger, or that, being soon excited by excessive fury, he devoted to ruin those who had lightly sinned, or were guilty of no great crimes By these expressions of the text God shows what the Israelites deserved, and that he was now inclined to inflict the punishment of which they were worthy, and yet not without repentance, or at least not without hesitation. He afterwards adds in the next clause, This I will not do; my heart is within me changed." Mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together. The עַל, literally, "upon," "with," then, "in," or "within:" "My heart is turned or changed from anger to pity in me." The expression, יַהַד נִכְמְרוּ, signifies, according to Rashi, "one warmed," as in Genesis 43:30, where this same word is rendered in the Authorized Version," yearned:" "His bowels did yearn upon his brother," or "warmed towards." But

(2) many modern interpreters understand the word in the sense of" gathering themselves together:" "The feelings of compassion gathered themselves together;" nichumim, from Piel נִחֵם, a noun of the form הבוד, less definite than rachamim, bowels, as the seat of the emotions, "gathered themselves together," or "were excited all at once." The cities of the plain included Admah and Zeboim, Sodom and Gomorrah, all of which, in consequence of their sins, were overthrown and perished in one common calamity. In Deuteronomy 29:23 these cities are all named, though Admah and Zeboim are not mentioned by name in the narrative of the catastrophe contained in Genesis. Though Israel had been as guilty and deserving of wrath as these, God expresses strong reluctance to deliver them over into the hands and power of their enemies, or to give them up to destruction. His heart revolted at the thought, and turned aside from the fierceness of his anger, though so fully deserved, into the direction of mercy; a new turn was given to his feelings in the direction of compassion. All his relentings or repentings together - one and all - yearned or were at once aroused. Repenting on the part of God is an expression suited to human comprehension, implying no change of purpose on the side of God, but only a change of procedure consistent with his purpose of everlasting love. "The Law speaks in the language of the sons of men."
I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim: for I am God, and not man; the Holy One in the midst of thee: and I will not enter into the city.
Verse 9. - I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim. The promise of this verse is in harmony with the spirit of compassion expressed in the preceding. It is at once the effect and evidence of that feeling of Divine compassion. God would neither execute the burning heat of his wrath, for so the words literally mean, nor destroy Ephraim utterly, or again any more as formerly. The historic event referred to may be the destruction effected by Tiglath-pileser, ally of Ahaz King of Judah against Pekah King of Israel and Rezin King of Syria, when he carried away captive the inhabitants of Gilead, Galilee, and Naphtali, as we read in 2 Kings 15:29, "In the days of Pekah King of Israel came Tiglath-pileser King of Assyria, and took Ijon, and Abel-beth-maachah, and Janoah, and Kedesh, and Hazer, and Gilead, and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali, and carried them captive to Assyria." But while this is probably the primary allusion, there is an ulterior reference to the future restoration of Israel. For I am God, and not man; the Holy One in the midst of thee: and I will not enter into the city (or, come into bumming wrath, Keil). A reason is here assigned for the exercise of the Divine commiseration just expressed; this reason is God's covenant of everlasting love. He is God, and must be measured by a Divine standard - not man, implacable and revengeful; though his people's provocation had been grievous, God was in the midst of them as their God, long-suffering and steadfast to his covenant of love and purposes of mercy. He would not enter

(a) into the city as an enemy, and for the purpose of utter destruction, as he had entered into the cities of the plain for their entire and final ruin; or,

(b) if the alternative rendering be preferred, he would not come into burning wrath. The fiery heat or fierceness of God's wrath tends to destruction, not the amendment of the impenitent. The expression, "I will not return," may also be understood as equivalent to

(1) "I will not turn from my pity and promises;" or, "I will not turn away from Israel;" but

(2) it suits the context better to translate on the principle of two verbs expressing one idea in a modified sense, i.e. "I will not return to destroy," that is, "I will not again destroy Ephraim." Jerome's explanation favors the first, and is, "I will not act according to the fury of my anger, nor change from my clemency to destroy Ephraim; for I do not strike to destroy for ever, but to amend... for I am God and not man. Man punishes for this purpose of destroying; God chastises for the purpose of amending." As God, his purpose of mercy was changeless; as the Holy One in Israel, he was infinitely pure and absolutely perfect, "the Father of lights, with whom can be no variation, neither shadow that is cast by turning." The meaning

(1) already given of coming into the city is supported by ancient versions, Hebrew expositors, and some of the ablest Christian commentators; yet

(2) we prefer that which understands עיּד in the sense of "the heat of wrath," deriving it from עוּד effervescence, which is that given in Keil's translation. There is

(3) an explanation strongly advocated by Bishop Lowth and adopted by Rosenmüller. It is as follows in the words of the bishop: "Jerome is almost singular in his explanation: 'I am not one of those who inhabit cities; who live according to human laws; who think cruelty justice.' Castalio follows Jerome. There is, in fact, in the latter member of the sentence, לאאי בי, a parallelism and synonym to לי אי in the former. The future אי has a frequentative power (see Psalm 22:3 and 8), 'I am not accustomed to enter a city: I am not an inhabitant of a city.' For there is a beautiful opposition of the different parts: 'I am God, and not man.' This is amplified in the next line, and the antithesis a little varied: ' I am thy God, inhabiting with thee, but in a peculiar and extraordinary manner, not in the manner of men.' Nothing, I think, can be plainer or more elegant than this." The bishop's rendering of the whole verse is -

"I will not do according to the fervent of my wrath,
I will not return to destroy Ephraim:
For I am God, and not man;
Holy in the midst of thee, though I inhabit not thy cities."
They shall walk after the LORD: he shall roar like a lion: when he shall roar, then the children shall tremble from the west.
Verse 10. - They shall walk after the Lord: he shall roar like a lien: when he shall roar, then the children shall tremble from the west. Others translate, "After the Lord shall they go as after a lion that roareth." But this necessitates a double ellipsis of "after which." They would go after the Lord in obedience to his summons. That summons is represented as far-reaching and terrible. Calling his people to return, the Lord roars as a lion, to denote at once the loudness of the call, and the awful majesty of the Lord when thus calling his people to return. "As a lion," says Kimchi, "which roars that the animals whose king he is may assemble to him, so the Israelites shall assemble on hearing the voice of the Lord when he roars." The roaring of the lion may signify his terrible judgments on Israel's enemies, when he calls his people home from the lands of their dispersion. The result would be a speedy return of his children from the lands of the West - the countries round or beyond the Mediterranean.
They shall tremble as a bird out of Egypt, and as a dove out of the land of Assyria: and I will place them in their houses, saith the LORD.
Verse 11. - They shall tremble as a bird out of Egypt. The trembling here is eager haste, or precipitate agitation, in which they would hurry home, and that from west and east and south - from west as we infer from ver. 10, from Assyria in the east and Egypt in the south. They would thus hurry as a bird home to its nest in the greenwood; as a dove no longer a silly dove, but flying home to its window. This chapter is regarded by some as ending here. Others include ver. 12.
Ephraim compasseth me about with lies, and the house of Israel with deceit: but Judah yet ruleth with God, and is faithful with the saints.
Verse 12. - Ephraim compasseth me about with lies, and the house of Israel with deceit: but Judah yet ruleth with God, and is faithful with the saints. The first clause sets forth the faithlessness and insincerity of Israel, and that in contrast with Judah. Thus understood, the verse properly belongs to the present chapter. But others understand the last clause differently, and deny the contrast, viz. "Judah is yet defiant towards God and towards the All-Holy One, who is faithful."

The Pulpit Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 2001, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2010 by BibleSoft, inc., Used by permission

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