|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
11:1-7 When Israel were weak and helpless as children, foolish and froward as children, then God loved them; he bore them as the nurse does the sucking child, nourished them, and suffered their manners. All who are grown up, ought often to reflect upon the goodness of God to them in their childhood. He took care of them, took pains with them, not only as a father, or a tutor, but as a mother, or nurse. When they were in the wilderness, God showed them the way in which they should go, and bore them up, taking them by the arms. He taught them the way of his commandments by the ceremonial law given by Moses. He took them by the arms, to guide them, that they might not stray, and to hold them up, that they might not stumble and fall. God's spiritual Israel are all thus supported. It is God's work to draw poor souls to himself; and none can come to him except he draw them. With bands of love; this word signifies stronger cords than the former. He eased them of the burdens they had long groaned under. Israel is very ungrateful to God. God's counsels would have saved them, but their own counsels ruined them. They backslide; there is no hold of them, no stedfastness in them. They backslide from me, from God, the chief good. They are bent to backslide; they are ready to sin; they are forward to close with every temptation. Their hearts are fully set in them to do evil. Those only are truly happy, whom the Lord teaches by his Spirit, upholds by his power, and causes to walk in his ways. By his grace he takes away the love and dominion of sin, and creates a desire for the blessed feast of the gospel, that they may feed thereon, and live for ever.
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.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
As they called them, so they went from them,.... That is, the prophets of the Lord, the true prophets, called Israel to the worship and service of God; but they turned a deaf ear to them, and their backs upon them; and the more they called to them, the further they went from them, and from the way of their duty; see Hosea 11:7. So the Targum,
"I sent the prophets to teach them, but they wandered from them;''
Moses and Aaron were sent unto them, and called them out of Egypt, but they hearkened not unto them; see Exodus 6:9; in later times the prophets were sent unto them, to exhort them to their duty, and to reclaim them from their evil ways, but they despised and refused to attend to their advice and instructions; and this was continued to the times of Israel, or the ten tribes, departing from the house of David, and setting up idolatrous worship; and during their revolt and apostasy: but all in vain. So after Christ was called out of Egypt, he and his apostles, and John the Baptist before them, called them to hearken to him, but they turned away from them. Aben Ezra interprets it of the false prophets, who called them to idolatry, and they went after them. Schmidt understands it of the Israelites calling one another to it, and going after it, for their own sakes, and because it pleased them, and was agreeable to them;
they sacrificed to Baalim, and burnt incense to graven images: they joined themselves to Baalpeor, and worshipped the golden calf, fashioned with a graving tool, in the wilderness; they sacrificed to Baalim, one or another of them, in the times of the judges, and of Ahab, and committed idolatry with other graven images, of which burning incense is a part. And the Jews in Christ's time, instead of hearkening to him and his apostles, followed the traditions of the elders, and the dictates of the Scribes and Pharisees, who were their Baals, their lords and masters and they sought for life and righteousness by their own works, which was sacrificing to their net, and burning incense to their drag; all this was great ingratitude. Next follows a narrative of other benefits done to this people.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
2. As they called them—"they," namely, monitors sent by Me. "Called," in Ho 11:1, suggests the idea of the many subsequent calls by the prophets.
went from them—turned away in contempt (Jer 2:27).
Baalim—images of Baal, set up in various places.
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