|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
7:8-16 Israel was as a cake not turned, half burnt and half dough, none of it fit for use; a mixture of idolatry and of the worship of Jehovah. There were tokens of approaching ruin, as grey hairs are of old age, but they noticed them not. The pride which leads to break the law of God leads to self-flattery. The mercy and grace of God are the only refuge to which obstinate sinners never think of fleeing. Though they may howl forth their terrors in the form of prayers, they seldom cry to God with their hearts. Even their prayers for earthly mercies only seek fuel for their lusts. Their turning from one sect, sentiment, form, or vice, to another, still leaves them far short of Christ and holiness. Such are we by nature. And such shall we prove if left to ourselves. Create in us a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within us.
Verse 11. - Ephraim also is like a silly dove without heart. The silliness of the dove, with which the stupidity of Ephraim is compared, is not manifested by its missing its nest and resting-place, and then helplessly fluttering about, according to Ewald; nor by its falling into the net of the bird-catcher in its effort to escape from the hawk, according to Hitzig; nor by its neither grieving nor searching for its young when it is robbed of them, according to Jerome; nor by its becoming dejected or devoid of consideration when it has lost its young, according to the Targum; but by its flying right into the net of the bird-catcher, without suspecting or observing it in its search for food, according to Rosenmüller. Thus Kimchi explains it: "The prophet compares Ephraim to a dove which gets caught in a net owing to its simplicity, because it has no sense to perceive that, when it goes to gather grains of corn, a net is spread there to catch it. So Ephraim, when they went and asked help from Assyria or from Egypt, (did not perceive) that they went to their hurt, when they sought help from the foreign nations and not from God - blessed be he! - in whose hand all is. And he mentions the dove, though it is the manner of other birds, because the dove has no bitterness, as if it went in simplicity and without apprehension of the evil that would come upon it." They call to Egypt, they go to Assyria. The position of Palestine exposed its inhabitants to attacks from the two great rival powers of Egypt and Assyria, or Babylon. "It stood midway," says Stanley, "between the two great seats of ancient empire, Babylon and Egypt. It was on the high-road from one to the other of these mighty powers, the prize for which they contended, the battlefield on which they fought, the lofty bridge over which they ascended and descended respectively into the deep basins of the Nile and Euphrates." Accordingly the rulers of the people sought help, now from Egypt to strengthen them against the oppression of Assyria; at another time they sought to secure the support of Assyria. The most powerful enemy of the northern kingdom was Assyria, which distressed that kingdom more and more, until at last they made an end of it. "But," says Kimchi, "while they think to obtain help by them (Egypt and Assyria), they fall into the net of the Almighty - blessed be he - and this is what he says (in the following verse). As they go I spread my net over them."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Ephraim also is like a silly dove, without heart,.... Or understanding; which comes and picks up the corns of grain, which lie scattered about, and does not know that the net is spread for it; and when its young are taken away, it is unconcerned, and continues its nest in the same place still; and, when frightened, flees not to its dove house, where it would be safe, but flies about here and there, and so becomes a prey to others. Thus Ephraim, going to Egypt and Assyria for help, were ensnared by them, not having sense enough to perceive that this would be their ruin; and though they had heretofore suffered by them, yet still they continued to make their addresses to them; and instead of keeping close to the Lord, and to his worship and the place of it, and asking counsel and help of him they ran about and sought for it here and there:
they call to Egypt; that is, for help; as Hoshea king of Israel, when he sent messengers to So or Sabacon king of Egypt, for protection and assistance, 2 Kings 17:4. Such a foolish part, like the silly doves, did they act; since the Egyptians had been their implacable enemies, and their fathers had been in cruel bondage under them:
they go to Assyria; send gifts and presents, and pay tribute to the kings thereof, to make them easy; as Menahem did to Pul, and Hoshea to Shalmaneser, 2 Kings 15:19. Some understand this last clause, not of their sin in going to the Assyrian for help; but of their punishment in going or being carried captive thither; and so the Targum seems to interpret it,
"they go captive, or are carried captive, into Assyria.''
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
11. like a silly dove—a bird proverbial for simplicity: easily deceived.
without heart—that is, understanding.
call to Egypt—Israel lying between the two great rival empires Egypt and Assyria, sought each by turns to help her against the other. As this prophecy was written in the reign of Hoshea, the allusion is probably to the alliance with So or Sabacho II (of which a record has been found on the clay cylindrical seals in Koyunjik), which ended in the overthrow of Hoshea and the deportation of Israel (2Ki 17:3-6). As the dove betrays its foolishness by fleeing in alarm from its nest only to fall into the net of the fowler, so Israel, though warned that foreign alliances would be their ruin, rushed into them.
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