|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
13:1-8 While Ephraim kept up a holy fear of God, and worshipped Him in that fear, so long he was very considerable. When Ephraim forsook God, and followed idolatry, he sunk. Let the men that sacrifice kiss the calves, in token of their adoration of them, affection for them, and obedience to them; but the Lord will not give his glory to another, and therefore all that worship images shall be confounded. No solid, lasting comfort, is to be expected any where but in God. God not only took care of the Israelites in the wilderness, he put them in possession of Canaan, a good land; but worldly prosperity, when it feeds men's pride, makes them forgetful of God. Therefore the Lord would meet them in just vengeance, as the most terrible beast that inhabited their forests. Abused goodness calls for greater severity.
Verse 3. - Therefore they shall be as the morning cloud, and as the early dew that passeth away, as the chaff that is driven with the whirlwind cut of the floor, and as the smoke out of the chimney. The illative particle with which the verse begins has reference to the sins of Israel, so great and multiplied that punishment could not be long delayed. Their irrational and God-dishonoring conduct was bringing on them sure and swift destruction. The prophet employs four figures to exhibit their political extinction. Two of these, the morning cloud and early dew, or rather the dew early passing away, have already been employed by him to characterize the transient nature of Israel's goodness; here they denote the evanescent nature of their national existence. The other two are the chaff and the smoke; the former whirled away by the storm-wind from the threshing-floor, the latter dissipated and speedily vanishing as soon as it escapes from the chimney or lattice. Such shall be the utter extermination of Israel. The senselessness of their idolatry had been treated with derision in the preceding verse; the punishment of their sin is sternly denounced in this. Kimchi comments concisely and correctly thus: "Therefore they shall go to destruction, and shall be as the morning cloud, or as the dew speedily disappearing in the morning, width vanishes when the heat of the sun has touched it; so they shall go away speedily. So also shall they be as chaff - it is the fine particles of straw, which the wind whirls away from the threshing-floor; thus shall they be whirled away from their land. Or as a pillar of smoke which goes forth out of the lattice, which shall speedily disperse and cease." Instead of אֲרֻבָּה lattice, from ארב, to knit or twist, the Septuagint, according to Jerome, read אַרְבֶּה locusts, as may be inferred from their rendering ἀτμὶς ἀπὸ ἀκρίδων in the Complete-Man edition of the LXX., erroneously written in some copies δακρύων, that is, vapor from locusts or from tears.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Therefore they shall be as the morning cloud,.... Which, however promising it is, soon disappears when the sun is risen; signifying that the idolatrous Israelites, king, priests, and people, should be no more; their kingdom would cease, all their riches and wealth would depart from them, and they and their children be carried captive into a strange land:
and as the early dew it passeth away; as soon as the heat of the sun is felt, when the earth is left dry; so these people, though they seemed to be in great prosperity, and to be very fruitful in children, and in substance, and promised themselves much more; yet in a little time their land would become desolate, and they stripped of all that was dear and valuable to them these metaphors are used in Hosea 6:4;
as the chaff that is driven with a whirlwind out of the floor; signifying that these idolatrous people were like chaff, fight and empty, useless and unprofitable, fit for nothing but burning; and that they would be driven out of their own land through the Assyrian, that should come like a whirlwind with great three and power, as easily and as quickly as chaff is drove out of a threshing floor of corn with a strong blast of wind; see Psalm 1:5;
and as the smoke out of the chimney; which rises up in a pillar, and is so on dissipated by the wind, or dissolved into air; and is no sooner seen but it disappears; see Psalm 68:2. All these similes show how easily, suddenly, and quickly, the destruction of this idolatrous nation would be brought about.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
3. they shall be as the morning cloud … dew—(Ho 6:4). As their "goodness" soon vanished like the morning cloud and dew, so they shall perish like them.
the floor—the threshing-floor, generally an open area, on a height, exposed to the winds.
chimney—generally in the East an orifice in the wall, at once admitting the light, and giving egress to the smoke.
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