|Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible|
Therefore will I be unto Ephraim as a moth,.... Which eats garments, penetrates into them, feeds on them privately, secretly, without any noise, and gradually and slowly consumes them; but at last utterly, that they are of no use and profit: this may signify the various things which befell the ten tribes in the reigns of Zachariah, Shallum, Menahem, Pekahiah, and Pekah, which secretly and gradually weakened them; and the utter consumption of them in the times of Hoshea by Shalmaneser:
Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament
"And I am like the moth to Ephraim, and like the worm to the house of Judah." The moth and worm are figures employed to represent destructive powers; the moth destroying clothes (Isaiah 50:9; Isaiah 51:8; Psalm 39:12), the worm injuring both wood and flesh. They are both connected again in Job 13:28, as things which destroy slowly but surely, to represent, as Calvin says, lenta Dei judicia. God becomes a destructive power to the sinner through the thorn of conscience, and the chastisements which are intended to effect his reformation, but which lead inevitably to his ruin when he hardens himself against them. The preaching of the law by the prophets sharpened the thorn in the conscience of Israel and Judah. The chastisement consisted in the infliction of the punishments threatened in the law, viz., in plagues and invasions of their foes.
Barnes' Notes on the Bible
Therefore I will be unto Ephraim a moth - Literally, "and I as a moth." This form of speaking expresses what God was doing, while Ephraim was "willingly following" sin. "And I" was all the while "as a moth." The moth in a garment, and the decay in wood, corrode and prey upon the substance, in which they lie hid, slowly, imperceptibly, but, at the last, effectually. Such were God's first judgments on Israel and Judah; such are they now commonly upon sinners. He tried, and now too tries at first, gentle measures and mild chastisements, uneasy indeed and troublesome and painful; yet slow in their working; each stage of loss and decay, a little beyond that which preceded it; but leaving long respite and time for repentance, before they finally wear out and destroy the impenitent. The two images, which He uses, may describe different kinds of decay, both slow, yet the one slower than the other, as Judah was, in fact, destroyed more slowly than Ephraim. For the "rottenness," or caries in wood, preys more slowly upon wood, which is hard, than the moth on the wool.
Clarke's Commentary on the Bible
Unto Ephraim as a moth - I will consume them by little and little, as a moth frets a garment.
Geneva Study Bible
Therefore will I be unto Ephraim as a moth, and to the house of Judah as rottenness.
5:12 A moth - Moths leisurely eat up our clothes; so God was then, and had been, from Jeroboam's death, weakening the ten tribes. As rottenness - Secretly consuming them.
King James Translators' Notes
rottenness: or, a worm
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
12. as a moth-consuming a garment (Job 13:28; Ps 39:11; Isa 50:9).
Judah … rottenness-Ephraim, or the ten tribes, are as a garment eaten by the moth; Judah as the body itself consumed by rottenness (Pr 12:4). Perhaps alluding to the superiority of the latter in having the house of David, and the temple, the religious center of the nation [Grotius]. As in Ho 5:13, 14, the violence of the calamity is prefigured by the "wound" which "a lion" inflicts, so here its long protracted duration, and the certainty and completeness of the destruction from small unforeseen beginnings, by the images of a slowly but surely consuming moth and rottenness.
Hosea 5:12 Parallel Commentaries
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