|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 12. - When they shall go, l will spread my net over them. Threats of punishment are contained in this and the following verses. He begins by the application of the comparison of Ephraim to a dove. Exactly as a dove in its silliness falls into the net set by the fowler, so Israel runs into the net of destruction in seeking help from Egypt and Assyria. The literal rendering is, according as they go, or, whatsoever way they shall go. God threatens to spread a net over them, from which there can be no escape. The chief aim of Hebrew sovereigns and rulers was to defend themselves from Egypt by the help of Assyria, or from Assyria by the aid of Egypt; in either case God threatens to spread over them the net of destruction as the bird-catcher. The application to one or other of these powers God forbade, but when they go to either for relief, the result is sure to prove fatal. The image of a net is frequent in Ezekiel; so in Job, he "hath compassed me with his net." I will bring them down as the fowls of the heaven. The comparison with birds and bird-catching continues. Though their sunward soaring flight be high as the eagle's, or rapid as the soft swift wing of the dove, they cannot outspeed or escape the hand of God, but shall be brought down to earth. Or the idea may be that, swiftly as a bird of prey swoops down out of the free air of heaven upon its quarry on the low-lying earth, Jehovah will bring Israel down out of the air of freedom into the net of captivity. Thus in Obadiah 1:4 we read, "Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the Lord;" likewise in Amos 9:2, "Though they dig into hell, thence shall mine hand take them; though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down." I will chastise them as their congregation hath heard. The word אַיְסִידֵם is an anomalous Hiph. instead of אֵיסִירֵם, that is, yod mobile instead of yod quiescent or diphthongal zere. The literal rendering makes the meaning more obvious; it is: "I will chastise them according to the tidings [or,' announcement '] to their congregation." In the Law and by the prophets it was repeatedly declared that judgments would fall upon the disobedient and rebellions. As specimens of such announcements, we may refer to Leviticus 26:14-39; Deuteronomy 28:15-68; and Deuteronomy 32:15-35 The prophet now assures Ephraim that the judgments so frequently and forcibly announced to the congregation of the children of Israel in the wilderness, and repeated in subsequent times by the prophets, would be executed on the rebellious rigorously, and in exact accordance with those many previous denunciations. Kimchi has the following comment: "I will assemble them through the chastisement of the peoples, as I announced to their assembly in the wilderness words of chastisement, which are written in the Law, if they will not hearken to the words of the Law." The LXX. may have read צרתם, as their rendering is ἐν τῇ ἀκοῇ τῆς θλίψεως αὐτῶν, equivalent to "'I will chasten them with the rumor of their (coming) affliction,"
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
When they shall go,.... That is, to Egypt or Assyria:
I will spread my net upon them; bring them into great straits and difficulties; perhaps the Assyrian army is meant, which was the Lord's net, guided, and directed, and spread by his providence, and according to his will, to take this silly dove in; and which enclosed them on all sides, that they could not escape; see Ezekiel 12:13. Hoshea the king of Israel was taken by the Assyrian, and bound and shut up in prison; Samaria the capital city was besieged three years, and then taken, 2 Kings 17:4;
I will bring them down as the fowls of the heaven; though they fly on high, soar aloft, and behave proudly, and fancy themselves out of all danger; yet, as the flying fowl, the eagle, and other birds, may be brought down to the earth by an arrow from the bow, or by some decoy so should they be brought down from their fancied safe and exalted state, and be taken in the net, and become a prey to their enemies:
I will chastise them, as their congregation hath heard; what was written in the law, and in the prophets, were read and explained in the congregations of Israel on their stated days they met together on for religious worship; in which it was threatened, that if they did not observe the laws and statutes of the Lord their God, but neglected and broke them, they should be severely chastised and corrected with his sore judgments, famine, pestilence, the sword of the enemy, and captivity: and now the Lord would fulfil his word, agreeably to what had often been heard by them, but not regarded; see Leviticus 26:1.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
12. When they shall go—to seek aid from this or that foreign state.
spread my net upon them—as on birds taken on the ground (Eze 12:13), as contrasted with "bringing them down" as the "fowls of the heavens," namely, by the use of missiles.
as their congregation hath heard—namely, by My prophets through whom I threatened "chastisement" (Ho 5:9; 2Ki 17:13-18).
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