|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 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."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
I taught Ephraim also to go,.... All the tribes of Israel and Ephraim, or the ten tribes with the rest; these the Lord instructed in the way of his commandments, and taught them to walk therein; he his angel before them, to conduct them through the wilderness; yea, he himself went before them in the pillar of cloud by day, and in the pillar of fire by night, to which history this seems to refer. So the Targum,
"I, by an angel sent by me, led Israel in the right way.''
The allusion seems to be to a mother or nurse accommodating herself to her child, beginning to go; she stoops down, sets it on its feet, and one foot before another, forms its steps, teaches it how to go, and walks its pace with it. And in like manner the Lord deals with his spiritual Israel, his regenerated ones, who become like little children, and are used as such; as in regeneration they are quickened, and have some degree of spiritual strength given them, they are taught to go; they are taught what a Saviour Christ is, and their need of him; they are instructed to go to him by faith for everything they want, and to walk by faith on him, as they have received him; and having heard and learned of the Father, they go to Christ, John 6:45; and are taught also to go to the throne of grace for all supplies of grace; and to the house of God, to attend the word and ordinances, for the benefit of their souls; and to walk in the ways of the Lord, for his glory, and their good;
taking them by their arms; or "on his own arms" (x); bearing and carrying them in his arms, as a father his son; see Deuteronomy 1:31 Numbers 11:12; so the Lord deals with his spiritual Israel, either holding them by their arms while walking, as nurses their children, to help and ease them in walking, and that they may not stumble and fall; so the Lord holds up the goings of his people in his ways, that their footsteps slip not, and upholds them with the right hand of his righteousness: or taking them up in his own arms when weary, he carries them in his bosom; or, when they are failing or fallen, lays hold on them, and takes them up again; and so they are not utterly cast down, whether the fall is into sin, or into some calamity and affliction; when he puts underneath his everlasting arms, and bears them and keeps them from sinking, as well as from a final and total falling away. Abarbinel, and others after him, interpret this of Ephraim taking up and carrying in his arms Baalim, the graven images and golden calves; which is mentioned as an instance of ingratitude; but very wrongly;
but they knew not that I healed them; of the diseases of Egypt, or preserved them from them: this includes the whole of their salvation and deliverance from Egypt, and all the benefits and favours accompanying it, which they imputed to their idols, and not to the Lord; see Exodus 15:26. "Healing", in a spiritual sense, generally signifies the forgiveness of sin, which the Lord's people may have, and not know it; and, through want of better light and knowledge, may also ascribe it to their repentance, humiliation, and tears, when it is alone owing to the grace of God, and blood of Christ.
(x) "super brachiis suis", Montanus; "super brachia sua", Piscator; "in brachis sua", Cocceius.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
3. taught … to go—literally, "to use his feet." Compare a similar image, De 1:31; 8:2, 5, 15; 32:10, 11; Ne 9:21; Isa 63:9; Am 2:10. God bore them as a parent does an infant, unable to supply itself, so that it has no anxiety about food, raiment, and its going forth. Ac 13:18, which probably refers to this passage of Hosea; He took them by the arms, to guide them that they might not stray, and to hold them up that they might not stumble.
knew not that I healed them—that is, that My design was to restore them spiritually and temporally (Ex 15:26).
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