|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
9:1-6 Israel gave rewards to their idols, in the offerings presented to them. It is common for those who are niggardly in religion, to be prodigal upon their lusts. Those are reckoned as idolaters, who love a reward in the corn-floor better than a reward in the favour of God and in eternal life. They are full of the joy of harvest, and have no disposition to mourn for sin. When we make the world, and the things of it, our idol and our portion, it is just with God to show us our folly, and correct us. None may expect to dwell in the Lord's land, who will not be subject to the Lord's laws, or be influenced by his love. When we enjoy the means of grace, we ought to consider what we shall do, if they should be taken from us. While the pleasures of communion with God are out of the reach of change, the pleasant places purchased with silver, or in which men deposit silver, are liable to be laid in ruins. No famine is so dreadful as that of the soul.
Verse 3. - They shall not dwell in the Lord's land; but Ephraim shall return to Egypt, and they shall eat unclean things in Assyria. The Lord's land was Canaan, which Jehovah chose to dwell there by visible symbol of the Shechinah-glory, and which he gave to Israel as his people. Israel expected to have it for a permanent place of abode, but that hope was frustrated by their sin. The remaining clauses of the verse may be understood either
(1) that Ephraim would return to Egypt to obtain anxiliaries, but to no purpose, - for they would be carried away captive and be compelled to eat unclean things in the land of Assyria; or
(2) the prophet threatens that some of them would go as exiles into Egypt, and others of them into Assyria This latter explanation is much to be preferred; while with regard to Egypt the threats, ring thus understood would re-echo an crier prophecy in Deuteronomy 28:68, "The Lord shall bring thee into Egypt again with ships, by the way whereof I spake unto thee, Thou shalt see it no more again: and there ye shall be sold unto your enemies for bondmen and bondwomen, and no man shall buy you." In Assyria also they would be obliged to cat things ceremonially unclean, as it would be impossible to conform to the requirements of the Law, according to which the eating of certain animals was prohibited. There is yet
(3) another interpretation, which takes Assyria to be the place of exile, while Egypt figuratively represents the condition of that exile, namely, a state of hard bondage and sore oppression, such as Israel endured in Egypt in the days of yore.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
They shall not dwell in the Lord's land,.... The land of Israel, or Canaan; which, though all the earth is the Lord's, was peculiarly his; which he had chosen for himself, and for this people; where he had his temple, and caused his Shechinah or divine Majesty to dwell in a very special manner, and where his worship and service were performed. So the Targum calls it the land of the Shechinah or majesty of the Lord. Sometimes it is called Immanuel's land, where the Messiah Immanuel, God with us, was to be born, and dwell, and where he did. Kimchi wrongly interprets this of Jerusalem only; and others of Judea; but it designs the whole land of promise, which God save by promise to the fathers of this people, and put them in the possession of, the tenure of which they held by their obedience; but they not living according to will, and in obedience to his laws, who was Lord of the land, sole Proprietor and Governor of it, he turned them out of it, and would not suffer them to continue any longer in it; and which was a great punishment indeed, to be driven out of such a land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and where they had been favoured with privileges and blessings of every kind;
but Ephraim shall return to Egypt; or the ten tribes; that is, some of them, who should flee thither for refuge and sustenance; when the Assyrian should invade their land, and besiege Samaria, they should go thither again, where their ancestors had formerly been in a state of bondage: this is prophesied of them, Deuteronomy 28:68;
and they shall eat unclean things in Assyria; that is, Ephraim or the ten tribes, the far greater part of there, should be taken captive, and carried into Assyria, and there eat food which by their law was unclean, as things sacrificed to idols, swine's flesh, and many others; or food that was not fit for men to eat, which nature abhorred; such bread as Ezekiel was bid to make and eat, Ezekiel 4:9. This may be understood even of them that went to Egypt for help against the Assyrians, or for shelter from them, or for food to eat in the time of famine; who should be brought back again, and carried into Assyria, and there live a miserable and an uncomfortable life; who had been used to enjoy corn and wine, and plenty of all good things, to which these unclean things may be opposed.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
3. return to Egypt—(See on Ho 8:13). As in Ho 11:5 it is said, "He shall not return into … Egypt." Fairbairn thinks it is not the exact country that is meant, but the bondage state with which, from past experience, Egypt was identified in their minds. Assyria was to be a second Egypt to them. De 28:68, though threatening a return to Egypt, speaks (De 28:36) of their being brought to a nation which neither they nor their fathers had known, showing that it is not the literal Egypt, but a second Egypt-like bondage that is threatened.
eat unclean things in Assyria—reduced by necessity to eat meats pronounced unclean by the Mosaic law (Eze 4:13). See 2Ki 17:6.
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