|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
6:4-11 Sometimes Israel and Judah seemed disposed to repent under their sufferings, but their goodness vanished like the empty morning cloud, and the early dew, and they were as vile as ever. Therefore the Lord sent awful messages by the prophets. The word of God will be the death either of the sin or of the sinner. God desired mercy rather than sacrifice, and that knowledge of him which produces holy fear and love. This exposes the folly of those who trust in outward observances, to make up for their want of love to God and man. As Adam broke the covenant of God in paradise, so Israel had broken his national covenant, notwithstanding all the favours they received. Judah also was ripe for Divine judgments. May the Lord put his fear into our hearts, and set up his kingdom within us, and never leave us to ourselves, nor suffer us to be overcome by temptation.
Verse 7. - But they like men (margin, like Adam) have transgressed the covenant: there have they dealt treacherously against me. This verse is variously rendered.
(1) They like men (that is, men in general, or the rest of mankind, to whom they are in no way superior) have transgressed the covenant.
(2) They are like men who transgress a covenant; according to this rendering the word אדם is otiose, or adds nothing, nor is indeed required.
(3) They like Adam have transgressed the covenant; this rendering, supported by the Vulgate, Cyril, Luther, Rosenmüller, and Wunsche, is decidedly preferable, and yields a suitable sense. God in his great goodness had planted Adam in Paradise; but Adam violated the commandment which prohibited his eating of the tree of knowledge, and thereby transgressed the covenant of his God. Loss of fellowship with God and expulsion from Eden were the penal consequences that immediately followed. Israel, like Adam, had been settled by God in Palestine, the glory of all lands; but, ungrateful for God's great bounty and gracious gift, they broke the covenant of their God, the condition of which, as in the case of the Adamic covenant, was obedience. Thus the comparison projects the shadow of a coming event when Israel would Jose the land of promise. There is still the word "there" to be accounted for. It cannot well be rendered "therein," nor taken as a particle of time equivalent to "the," with Cyril and others. It is local, and points to the place where their breach of covenant and faithlessness had occurred. Yet this local sense is not necessarily so limited as to be referred, with some, to Bethel, as the scene of their apostasy and idolatry. "There, to Israel," says Pusey, "was not only Bethel, or Dan, or Gilgal, or Mizpah, or Gilead, or any or all of the places which God had hallowed by his mercies and they had defiled. It was every high hill, each idol-chapel, each field-altar, which they had multiplied to their idols. To the sinners of Israel it was every spot of the Lord's land which they had defiled by their sin." The word thus acquires a very suggestive significance, reminding Israel of God's goodness on the one hand, and of their own sinfulness and ingratitude on the other.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
But they, like men, have transgressed the covenant,.... The false prophets, as Aben Ezra, whom he threatened to cut off and slay, Hosea 6:5; or rather Ephraim and Judah, whose goodness was so fickle and unstable; and who, instead of doing acts of mercy, and seeking after the true knowledge of God and his worship, which are preferable to all sacrifices, they transgressed the law of God, which they promised at Mount Sinai to obey; the precepts of the moral law, even of both tables, which concern both God and man; and also the ceremonial law, by appointing priests to sacrifice who were not of the tribe of Levi, as did Ephraim or the ten tribes under Jeroboam; and by offering sacrifices to their calves, and by not observing the solemn feasts; and the precepts relating to both these laws constitute the covenant made with the children of Israel at Sinai, Exodus 24:3; which they transgressed, either "like Adam" (y) the first man, as Jarchi; who transgressed the covenant of works in paradise God made with him, and all mankind in him: or like the men of old, the former generations, as the Targum; meaning either the old inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites; or the men of the old world at the time of the flood, who were a very wicked and abandoned generation of men; or like men in common, depraved and degenerated, fickle and inconstant, vain and deceitful, and not at all to be depended upon; especially like the lower sort of men, the common people, who have no regard to their word, covenant, and agreement; or particularly like such men that are given to penury, and make no conscience of oaths and covenants ever so solemnly made: or, as others read the words, "but they have transgressed the covenant like man's" (z); making no more account of it than if it was a man's covenant;
there have they dealt treacherously against me; in the covenant they entered into, by breaking it, not performing their promises; and eve in the very sacrifices they offered, and were so fond of, and put their confidence in; either by offering such sacrifices as were not legal, or by offering them to idols, under a pretence of offering them to God, which was dealing treacherously against him; and in all other acts of religion, in which they would be thought to have regard to the covenant of God, his laws and precepts, and to be very serious and devout, yet acted the hypocritical part, were false and deceitful, and devoid of all sincerity: or there, in the promised land, where the Lord had so largely bestowed his favours on them; so Jarchi, Kimchi, and Abarbinel, agreeably to the Targum, which paraphrases it thus,
"and in the good land, which I gave unto them to do my will, they have dealt falsely with my word.''
(y) "sicut Adam", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Tigurine version, Castilio, Grotius, Cocceius. (z) "Tanquam hominis, sub. pectum", Vatablus, Junius & Tremellius, Zanchius.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
7. like men—the common sort of men (Ps 82:7). Not as Margin, "like Adam," Job 31:33. For the expression "covenant" is not found elsewhere applied to Adam's relation to God; though the thing seems implied (Ro 5:12-19). Israel "transgressed the covenant" of God as lightly as men break everyday compacts with their fellow men.
there—in the northern kingdom, Israel.
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