|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
12:7-14 Ephraim became a merchant: the word also signifies a Canaanite. They carried on trade upon Canaanitish principles, covetously and with fraud and deceit. Thus they became rich, and falsely supposed that Providence favoured them. But shameful sins shall have shameful punishments. Let them remember, not only what a mighty prince Jacob was with God, but what a servant he was to Laban. The benefits we have had from the word of God, make our sin and folly the worse, if we put any slight upon that word. We had better follow the hardest labour in poverty, than grow rich by sin. We may form a judgment of our own conduct, by comparing it with that of ancient believers in the like circumstances. Whoever despises the message of God, will perish. May we all hear his word with humble, obedient faith.
Verse 10. - I have also spoken to the prophets, and I have multiplied visions, and used similitudes, by the ministry of the prophets. The vau before the verb in the beginning of the verse is copulative, and the verb is in the preterit as the accent is on the penult; if the vau were conversive of the preterit into the future, the verb would have the accent on the ultimate. The preterit denotes what has been taking place up to the present. עִל is explained
(1) by Knobel to denote that the Divine revelation or inspiration descended on the prophets from heaven; but
(2) Kimchi explains it as equivalent to אִם, with; thus: "'Upon (עִל) the prophets ' is the same as ' with (אִם) the prophets,' as (in Exodus 35:32), 'And they came both men and women [literally, 'men, עַל with, or rather in addition to, women']. He (Jehovah) says, 'What could I do to you and I did not do it, so that ye should not forget me? And what did I do with your fathers? I spoke constantly with the prophets to admonish you from me, and I multiplied visions to you many days.'" The Authorized Version
(3) employs "by" as the equivalent of עַל here. The pronoun v'anoki is emphatic, viz. "I even I," as though he said, "I and not another;" while the preterit proves Jehovah to have continued his visions to the very moment at which the prophet speaks. To the word אַדַמֶּה,
(a) use similitudes, some supply a verbal noun of corporate sense, דְמוּתות or דִמְיוּנִים. This, however, is unnecessary, as a verb often includes its cognate noun, of which we have several similar ellipses, e.g. Genesis 6:4, "They bare children [יְלָדִים understood] to them;" also Jeremiah 1:9, "They shall set themselves in array [הֲערָכָה understood] against her." The LXX.
(b) has ὡμοιώθην, "I was represented; "and Jerome renders it assimilatus sum. The three modes of Divine communication here referred to are prediction, vision, and similitude. The word for vision, חָזון, is used here as a collective; it differs from the dream in being higher degree of Divine revelation, also the senses of the receiver are awake and active, while in the dream they are inoperative and passive. Of the similitude, again, we have examples in Isaiah's parable of a vineyard (Isaiah 5.), and in Ezekiel's similitude of a wretched infant, to represent the natural state of Jerusalem. Aben Ezra remarks, I have established emblems and comparisons that ye might understand me;" and Kimchi, "I have given emblems and parables by means of the prophets, as Isaiah says, 'My well-beloved hath a vineyard;' and Ezekiel, 'Thy birth and thy nativity is of the land of Canaan.' And the explanation of ביד is that by their hand he sends them emblems and similitudes as (Leviticus 10:11) 'which the Lord hath spoken unto them by the hand of Moses'" Thus God, as Rosenmüller observes, "left no means of admonishing them untried." Ver 11 - Is there iniquity in Gilead? surely they are vanity. In reference to hypotheticals, Driver remarks, "With an imperfect in protasis. The apodosis may then begin
(a) hath vav con. and the perfect;
(b) with the infinitive (without ray);
(c) with perfect alone (expressing the certainty and suddenness with which the result immediately accomplishes the occurrence of the promise. Hosea 12:12 (היו in apodesis, 'of the certain future')." The first part of this clause has been variously rendered. Some take אִם
(a) affirmatively, in the sense of certainly, assuredly; others translate it
(b) interrogatively, as in the Authorized Version, though even thus it would be more accurately rendered: Is Gilead iniquity of Pusey, following the common version, explains it as follows: 'The prophet asks the question in order to answer it more peremptorily. He raises the doubt in order to crush it the more impressively.' Is there iniquity in Gilead? 'Alas I there was nothing else. Surely they are vanity; or, strictly, they have become merely vanity." There does not appear, however, sufficient reason for departing from the ordinary meaning of the word,
(c) namely, if thus, If Gilead i, iniquity (worthlessness), surely they have become vanity. The clause thus rendered may denote one of two things - either - (α) moral worthlessness followed by physical nothingness, that is, moral decay followed by physical - sin succeeded by suffering; or (β) progress in moral corruption. To the former exposition corresponds the comment of Kimchi, as follows: "'If Gilead began to work vanity (nothingness),' for they began to do wickedness first, and they have been first carried into captivity. אך שׁ can connect itself with what precedes, so that its meaning is about Gilead which he has mentioned, and the sense would be repeated in different words. Or its sense shall be in connection with Gilgal. And although zakeph is on the word היו, all the accents of the inter. prefers do not follow after the accents of the points." Similarly Rashi: "If disaster and oppression come upon them (the Gileadites) they have caused it to themselves, for certainly they are worthlessness, and sacrifies bullocks to idols in Gilgal. The verb הָיוּ is a prophetic perfect implying the certainty of the prediction, as though already an accomplished fact." The exposition of Aben Ezra favors (β); thus: "If the Gileadites, before I sent prophets to them, were worthlessness, surely they have become vanity, that is, instead of being morally better, they have become worse." To this exposition we find a parallel in Jeremiah 2:5, "They have walked after vanity, and are become vain." They sacrifice bullocks in Gilgal. שְׁוָרים for שׁוםרים, like חֲוָחִים from חוחַ. The inhabitanta of Gilgal on the west were no better than the Gileadites on the east of Jordan; the whole kingdom, in fact, was overrun with idolatry. The sin of the people of Gilgal did not consist in the animals offered, but in the unlawfulness of the place of sacrifice. The punishment of both Gilgal and Gilead is denounced in the following part of the verse. Yea, their altars are as heaps in the furrows of the fields. Gilead signified" heap of witnesses," and Gilgal "heaping heap. The latter was mentioned in Hosea 4:15 and Hosea 9:15 as a notable center of idol-worship ("all their wickedness is in Gilgal") and retained, as we learn from the present passage, its notoriety for unlawful sacrifices, sacrifices customarily and continually offered (viz. iterative sense of Piel); the former was signalized in Hosea 6:8 as "a city of them that work iniquity," and "polluted with blood." The altars in both places are to be turned into stone-heaps; this is expressed by a play on words so frequent in Hebrew; at Gilead as well as Gilgal they are to become gallim, or heaps of stones, such as husbandmen gather off ploughed and leave in useless heaps for the greater convenience of removal, חֶלֶם (related to toll, a hill, that which is thrown up) is a furrow as formed by casting up or tearing into. The ruinous heaps of the altars implied, not only their destruction, but the desolation of the country. The altars would become dilapidated heaps, and the country depopulated. The Hebrew interpreters, however, connect with the heap-like altars the idea of number and conspicuousness: this they make prominent as indicating the gross idolatry of the people. Thus Rabbi: "Their altars are numerous as heaps in the furrows of the field. תי שי is the furrow of the plougher, called telem;" Aben Ezra: "כני is by way of figure, because they were numerous and conspicuous." Pococke combines with the idea of number that of ruinous heaps - "rude heaps of stones, in his sight; and such they should become, no one stone being left in order upon another." Kimchi's comment on the verse is the following: "The children of Gilgal were neighbors to the land of Gilead, only the Jordan was between them; they learnt also their ways (doings), and began to serve idols like them, and to practice iniquity and vanity, and sacrificed oxen to strange gods in the place where they had raised an altar to Jehovah the blessed, and where they had set up the tabernacle at the first after they had passed over Jordan: there also they sacrificed oxen to their idols. Not enough that they made an altar in Gilgal to idols, but they also built outside the city altars many and conspicuous, like heaps of stones on the furrows of the field."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
I have also spoken to the prophets,.... Or, "I will speak" (b); for this respects not the Lord's speaking by the prophets of the Old Testament who spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost; though all they said were for the use of, and profitable unto, Christian churches; but his speaking by the apostles, prophets, and teachers, under the Gospel dispensation; by whom the doctrines of grace have been more clearly dispensed, and which are no other than the voice of Christ speaking in them; and which it is both a privilege to hear, and a duty to attend unto; see Ephesians 4:11;
and I have multiplied visions: or, "will multiply visions" (c); more than under the former dispensation, as was foretold by Joel, Joel 2:28; see Acts 2:16; witness the visions of the Apostles Peter, Paul, John, and others: or this may respect the more clear sight and knowledge of Gospel truths in the times of the Messiah, then under the Mosaic economy; see 2 Corinthians 3:13;
and used similitudes by the ministry of the prophets: or, "will use similitudes" (d); for this is to be understood, not of the types and figures used by the Lord under the legal dispensation, to represent spiritual things, as the brasen serpent, passover lamb, manna, and the sacrifices of the law; nor of the similitudes used by the prophet Hosea, taking a wife and children of whoredoms, to set forth the case and condition of Israel, and of the comparisons he makes of God, to a lion, leopard, bear, &c. or by any other of the former prophets; but of parables and similitudes used in Gospel times; not only such as Christ used himself, who seldom spoke without a parable; see Matthew 13:11; but which he used by the ministry of his apostles and prophets, and which are to be met with in their discourses and writings; see 1 Corinthians 3:6; and especially such seem to be meant that respect the conversion of the Jews, and the glory of the church in the latter day, Romans 11:16.
(b) "et loquar", Piscator, Liveleus, Drusius, Cocceius, Schmidt. (c) "visionem multiplicabo", Vatablus, Liveleus, Drusius, Schmidt. (d) "assimilabo", Montanus, Schmidt; "similitudinibus utar", Castalio, Liveleus.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
10. by … the prophets—literally, "upon," that is, My spirit resting on them. I deposited with them My instructions which ought to have brought you to the right way. An aggravation of your guilt, that it was not through ignorance you erred, but in defiance of God and His prophets [Calvin]. Ahijah the Shilonite, Shemaiah, Iddo, Azariah, Hanani, Jehu, Elijah, Elisha, Micaiah, Joel, and Amos were "the prophets" before Hosea.
visions … similitudes—I adopted such modes of communication, adapted to man's capacities, as were calculated to arouse attention: I left no means untried to reform you. The first, second, and third chapters contain examples of "similitudes."
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