|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 8. - I will meet them as a bear that is bereaved of her whelps, and will rend the caul of their heart. The noun דֹב is epicene, that is, the one form serves for both genders, as here the masculine includes the feminine, and is used as such. Of all animals, Jerome says, the she-bear is the fiercest, either when robbed of her whelps or in want of food. Seghor being that which encloses the heart, is either the pericardium, the immediate and proper enclosure of the heart, or the breast itself. The reference is to a beast of prey which seizes its victim by the breast and tears it open, so that the heart is exposed. The verb פגש is akin to פגע, the meaning of the root-syllable פג, to meet, strike, being the same in both. Such is the continuation of the picture of the threatened punishment. The picture of the severity of the Divine judgment here presented is very terrible. Kimchi remarks on this picture: "A bear robbed, whose young ones they have slain, which is bereft and bitter in spirit, if it find man or beast rends it speedily." Some understand the verse figuratively, as though it meant "'I will rend their obstinate heart,' the enclosure of the heart being equivalent to a shut or obstinate heart, as, in ver. 5 of this same chapter, 'a land of drought' is pretty much the same as 'a dry or parched land.' Thus the Chaldee translates, 'I have broken the wickedness of their heart.'" And there will I devour them like a lion: the wild beast shall tear them. Sham there refers
(1) to 'al-derekh of the preceding verse; or,
(2) as Kimchi explains it, as referring to their cities: "There in their cities shall I destroy them by pestilence and by the sword of the enemy, like the lion that teareth without pity;" or,
(3) more simply still, "there on the spot." The ֵשחִת, equivalent to אתָּה, is the wild beast as opposed to בִי, domestic animals. While some were to be destroyed by famine and pestilence, others would perish by the wild beast of the field. "Also," says Kimchi, "shall the wild beast of the field rend them outside (i.e. outside their cities), as, ' I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children, and destroy your cattle, and make you few in number.'"
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
I will meet them as a bear that is bereaved of her whelps,.... Which is a fierce cruel creature at any time, but especially when this is its case, being very fond of its whelps; and having taken a great deal of pains to lick them into form, as Kimchi and Ben Melech observe, it is the more enraged at the loss of them, and therefore falls upon man or beast it meets with the utmost fury: the phrase is expressive of the fiercest rage; see Proverbs 17:12;
and will rend the caul of their hearts: the pericardium, which is a membrane or skin that encloses the heart, and which when pierced is immediate death: perhaps some respect is had to the closing of their hearts to God, the hardness of them against him and his ways, and their inattention to his word; and now he will open them, not in a way of grace and mercy, but of wrath and fury; as a bear, when it seizes a man, sticks his claws in his breast, tears it open, and makes his way at once to the heart, fetches it out, and sucks his blood:
and there will I devour them like a lion; either in their cities and houses, when taken by the enemy; or in the way, in which they would be observed; or in their captivity: or there may be put for then, and so denotes the time when he would be all this to them before mentioned, and then he would utterly destroy them:
the wild beast shall tear them: which literally is one of God's sore judgments, but here figuratively designs the Assyrian, and who is meant as the instrument of God's vengeance in all the other expressions; and is sometimes compared to a lion, and that as concerned with Israel; see Jeremiah 50:17; which is much better than by these four sorts of creatures to understand the four monarchies which Israel suffered by. The Targum is,
"my word shall meet them as a bear bereaved, and I will break the wickedness of their hearts, &c.''
Wesley's Notes on the Bible
13:8 Rent - First kill, then tear in pieces, and pull out the very heart.
Hosea 13:8 Parallel Commentaries
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