|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 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."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the sword shall abide on the cities,.... Or "shall fall" (y), and continue; meaning the sword of the Assyrians, whereby Ephraim should be brought into subjection to them, and the king of Assyria become king over them; his sword should be drawn, and rest upon them, not only on their chief city Samaria, besieged three years by him, but upon all their other cities, which would fall into his hands, with the inhabitants of them:
and shall consume his branches, and devour them; that is, the towns and villages adjoining to the cities; which were to them as branches are to a tree, sprung from them, and were supported by them; and, being near them, prospered or suffered as they did: some render it, "his bars" (z), as the word is sometimes used, and interpret it of the great men and nobles of the land. So the Targum,
"and it shall slay his mighty men, and destroy his princes;''
with which Jarchi agrees;
because of their own counsels; which they took and pursued, contrary to the counsel of God, the revelation of his mind and will; particularly in setting up idolatrous worship, and continuing in it, notwithstanding all the admonitions, exhortations, counsels, and threatenings of God by his prophets; or else because of their counsels with the Egyptians, and their covenants with them, for help against the Assyrian, whose yoke they were for casting off, and refused to pay tribute to; which provoked him to draw his sword upon them, which made the havoc it did in their cities, and the inhabitants of them.
(y) "cedet", Calvin; "incidet", Schmidt; "irruet", Zanchius, Drusius, Liveleus. (z) "vectes ejus", Schmidt. So some in Drusius.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
6. abide—or, "fall upon" [Calvin].
branches—that is, his villages, which are the branches or dependencies of the cities [Calvin]. Grotius translates, "his bars" (so La 2:9), that is, the warriors who were the bulwarks of the state. Compare Ho 4:18, "rulers" (Margin), "shields" (Ps 47:9).
because of their own counsels—in worshipping idols, and relying on Egypt (compare Ho 10:6).
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