Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate: it may be that the LORD God of hosts will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
It may be that the Lord God of Hosts will be gracious - o: "He speaks so, in regard of the changeableness and uncertainty, not in God, but in man. There is no question but that God is gracious to all who "hate evil and love good;" but He doth not always deliver them from temporal calamity or captivity, because it is not for their salvation. Yet had Israel "hated evil and loved good," perchance He would have delivered them from captivity, although He frequently said, they should be carried captive. For so He said to the two tribes in Jeremiah, "Amend your ways, and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place" Jeremiah 7:3. But since God knew that most of them would not repent, He saith not, "will be gracious unto Israel," but, "unto the remnant of Joseph, that is, "the remnant, according to the election of grace" Romans 11:4-5; such as had been "the seven thousand who bowed not the knee unto Baal;" those who repented, while "the rest were hardened." He says, "Joseph," not Ephraim, in order to recall to them the deeds of their father. Jacob's blessing on Joseph descended upon Ephraim, but was forfeited by Jeroboam's "sin wherewith he made Israel to sin." Rup.: "Joseph in his deeds and sufferings was a type of Jesus Christ, in whom the remnant is saved." "A remnant," however, only, "should be saved;" so the prophet says;
judgment in the gate—justice in the place where causes are tried.
it may be that the Lord … will be gracious—so, "peradventure" (Ex 32:30). Not that men are to come to God with an uncertainty whether or no He will be gracious: the expression merely implies the difficulty in the way, because of the want of true repentance on man's part, so as to stimulate the zealous earnestness of believers in seeking God (compare Ge 16:2; Joe 2:14; Ac 8:22).
the remnant of Joseph—(see Am 5:6). Israel (represented by "Ephraim," the leading tribe, and descendant of Joseph) was, as compared to what it once was, now but a remnant, Hazael of Syria having smitten all the coasts from Jordan eastward, Gilead and Bashan, Gad, Reuben, and Manasseh (2Ki 10:32, 33) [Henderson]. Rather, "the remnant of Israel that shall have been left after the wicked have been destroyed" [Maurer].
hate, and show that you hate, the evil, both ways, doings, contrivers, and abettors of the evil among the people and yourselves;
and love the good; commend, encourage, defend, and reward all good in others, and do it yourselves; let your heart be toward good things and good men.
Establish judgment in the gate: by this it is evident the prophet speaks to governors and judges among them: what the import of the phrase is see Amos 5:10,12. Set up honest and upright judges in every gate, where judges did sit in those days.
It may be that the Lord God of hosts will be gracious; possibly he will forgive, or abate or respite the evil days, possibly he may give you his gracious presence, and yet save
the remnant of Joseph; what the invasions of enemies, or the civil wars, have spared, and left in Samaria and Israel, the ten tribes: Amos 5:6. Psalm 97:10; and "good" is to be loved for its goodness' sake; and the good effects of it; a good God is to be loved, and all good men, and all good things; the good word of God, and his commands and ordinances; and highly to be esteemed, and affectionately regarded:
and establish judgment in the gate; openly, publicly, in every court of judicature, which used to be kept in the gates of cities; not only execute judgment and justice in all, cases brought into court, but let it have its constant course, and be always practised according to the settled laws of it:
it may be that the Lord God of hosts will be gracious unto the remnant of Joseph: who should escape the fire that should break out of his house, and devour it, even the ten tribes, Amos 5:6; such of them as should seek the Lord, and that which is good; for in the worst of times God reserves a remnant for himself, as in the times of Elijah, Isaiah, Christ, and his apostles; a remnant according to the election of grace, to whom he has been gracious in the choice and reserve he has made of them; in the stores of grace he has hid up for them; in the provision and mission of his Son as a Saviour; and in waiting the time of their conversion, when he is gracious to them, in regenerating, quickening, pardoning, and justifying of them; and still will be in the visits of his love; in the supplies of his grace, in supporting them under afflictions, temptations, desertions, &c. and in giving them his word and ordinances for their comfort and relief: nor is this "may be" to be understood in a way of doubt or hesitation, but of good hope, yea, of a holy confidence; and so some render it, "without doubt the Lord God of hosts will be gracious" (g), &c. see Zephaniah 2:3.Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate: it may be that the LORD God of hosts will be gracious unto the remnant of Joseph.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)15. The exhortation of Amos 5:14 is repeated in yet stronger terms: Hate the evil, and love the good. Cf. Isaiah 1:16 f.
establish judgment in the gate] Rather, set up firmly, set it standing, opposed to lay it on the ground, Amos 5:7. Judgement, like righteousness in Amos 5:7, is pictured as a concrete object, and almost personified: cf. Isaiah 59:14.
the remnant of Joseph] The prophet can hardly be thinking of the remnant to which ‘Joseph’ (Amos 5:6) had already been reduced by its many calamities (Amos 4:6-11); for he represents Israel in general as still wealthy and prosperous (cf. Amos 6:13). No doubt he has mentally in view the ‘remnant,’ to which he sees that before long it will have been actually reduced (cf. Amos 3:12), and which he pictures implicitly as including those who respond now to his present invitation to repent; a remnant, such as this, may peradventure merit Jehovah’s mercy (comp. Amos 9:8 f.). The passage contains in germ the doctrine of the preservation, through judgement, of a faithful remnant, which became shortly afterwards a distinctive feature in the teaching of Isaiah.Verse 15. - Reverse your former conduct, undo what ye have done (ver. 10). This verse emphasizes the preceding; hating and loving are more real and hearty than mere seeking. The LXX. makes this clause to be what the people said, Ον τρόπον εἴπατε, μεμισήκαμεν τὰ πονρὰ καὶ ἠγαπήσαμεν τὰκαλά, "As ye said, We have hated evil, and loved good." Establish judgment. Maintain justice in your tribunals (in contrast to ver. 7); then it may be that the Lord will have mercy on you or some of you. The remnant of Joseph; implying that only a few of them will be saved after this heavy chastisement, which points to the final ruin of their city and nation. The prophet speaks of the "remnant of Joseph" instead of Ephraim, to remind them of their forefather, who received the patriarchal blessing of Jacob, for whose sake this remnant should be spared (comp. Isaiah 6:13; Isaiah 10:21, etc.; Joel 2:32; Romans 11:4, etc.). Hosea 14:5. I will be like dew for Israel: it shall blossom like the lily, and strike its roots like Lebanon. Hosea 14:6. Its shoots shall go forth, and its splendour shall become like the olive-tree, and its smell like Lebanon. Hosea 14:7. They that dwell in its shadow shall give life to corn again; and shall blossom like the vine: whose glory is like the wine of Lebanon. Hosea 14:8. Ephraim: What have I further with the idols? I hear, and look upon him: I, like a bursting cypress, in me is thy fruit found." The Lord promises first of all to heal their apostasy, i.e., all the injuries which have been inflicted by their apostasy from Him, and to love them with perfect spontaneity (nedâbhâh an adverbial accusative, promta animi voluntate), since His anger, which was kindled on account of its idolatry, had now turned away from it (mimmennū, i.e., from Israel). The reading mimmennı̄ (from me), which the Babylonian Codices have after the Masora, appears to have originated in a misunderstanding of Jeremiah 2:35. This love of the Lord will manifest itself in abundant blessing. Jehovah will be to Israel a refreshing, enlivening dew (cf. Isaiah 26:19), through which it will blossom splendidly, strike deep roots, and spread its shoots far and wide. "Like the lily:" the fragrant white lily, which is very common in Palestine, and grows without cultivation, and "which is unsurpassed in its fecundity, often producing fifty bulbs from a single root" (Pliny h. n. xxi. 5). "Strike roots like Lebanon," i.e., not merely the deeply rooted forest of Lebanon, but the mountain itself, as one of the "foundations of the earth" (Micah 6:2). The deeper the roots, the more the branches spread and cover themselves with splendid green foliage, like the evergreen and fruitful olive-tree (Jeremiah 11:16; Psalm 52:10). The smell is like Lebanon, which is rendered fragrant by its cedars and spices (Sol 4:11). The meaning of the several features in the picture has been well explained by Rosenmller thus: "The rooting indicates stability: the spreading of the branches, propagation and the multitude of inhabitants; the splendour of the olive, beauty and glory, and that constant and lasting; the fragrance, hilarity and loveliness." In Hosea 14:7 a somewhat different turn is given to the figure. The comparison of the growth and flourishing of Israel to the lily and to a tree, that strikes deep roots and spreads its green branches far and wide, passes imperceptibly into the idea that Israel is itself the tree beneath whose shade the members of the nation flourish with freshness and vigour. ישׁוּבוּ is to be connected adverbially with יהיּוּ. Those who sit beneath the shade of Israel, the tree that is bursting into leaf, will revive corn, i.e., cause it to return to life, or produce it for nourishment, satiety, and strengthening. Yea, they themselves will sprout like the vine, whose remembrance is, i.e., which has a renown, like the wine of Lebanon, which has been celebrated from time immemorial (cf. Plin. h. n. xiv. 7; Oedmann, Verbm. Sammlung aus der Naturkunde, ii. p. 193; and Rosenmller, Bibl. Althk. iv. 1, p. 217). The divine promise closes in Hosea 14:9 with an appeal to Israel to renounce idols altogether, and hold fast by the Lord alone as the source of its life. Ephraim is a vocative, and is followed immediately by what the Lord has to say to Ephraim, so that we may supply memento in thought. מה־לּי עוד לע, what have I yet to do with idols? (for this phrase, compare Jeremiah 2:18); that is to say, not "I have now to contend with thee on account of the idols (Schmieder), nor "do not place them by my side any more" (Ros.); but, "I will have nothing more to do with idols," which also implies that Ephraim is to have nothing more to do with them. To this there is appended a notice of what God has done and will do for Israel, to which greater prominence is given by the emphatic אני: I, I hearken (‛ânı̄thı̄ a prophetic perfect), and look upon him. שׁוּר, to look about for a person, to be anxious about him, or care for him, as in Job 24:15. The suffix refers to Ephraim. In the last clause, God compares Himself to a cypress becoming green, not only to denote the shelter which He will afford to the people, but as the true tree of life, on which the nation finds its fruits - a fruit which nourishes and invigorates the spiritual life of the nation. The salvation which this promise sets before the people when they shall return to the Lord, is indeed depicted, according to the circumstances and peculiar views prevailing under the Old Testament, as earthly growth and prosperity; but its real nature is such, that it will receive a spiritual fulfilment in those Israelites alone who are brought to belief in Jesus Christ.
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