Hosea 10:2
Their heart is divided; now shall they be found faulty: he shall break down their altars, he shall spoil their images.
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(2) Their heart is divided is the rendering of the LXX., Raschi, Aben-Ezra, and most ancient versions. But modern expositors prefer to translate “Their heart is treacherous (smooth).” The rest of the verse should run thus:—Now shall they suffer punishment. He shall break (the horns of) their altars; he shall destroy their pillars.

Hosea 10:2-3. Their heart is divided — Between God and their idols, or between God and the world. Now shall they be found faulty — As this was their sin, so it is here threatened, that the effects thereof should prove, and be an open manifestation of their guilt. The Hebrew עתה יאשׁמו, may be rendered, now shall they be punished, or, treated as guilty. So the Vulgate, nunc interibunt, now, that is, forthwith, shall they perish. He shall break down their altars, &c. — That is, God shall cause their idolatrous altars to be broken down, namely, by the Assyrians. For now they shall say — They shall see and feel, and be compelled to own; We have no king — Absolutely none, or no such king as we need and expected. This is thought by some commentators to relate to the time of anarchy, or the interregnum which continued for eight or nine years between the murder of Pekah and the settlement of Hoshea on the throne; because we feared not the Lord — They shall be sensible that their forsaking the Lord for idols, and their casting off his fear, is the true cause of all their calamities; and particularly of their being deprived of the blessing of a wise, just, and good civil government. What then — Or rather, But what should a king do for us? A king could not save us without the help of God. The verse, however, seems rather to refer to the time of their captivity, and the sense probably is, “After Israel shall be carried captive into the country of their enemies, and shall have no king over their nation, they shall then acknowledge that this misfortune has happened to them through their own fault, and because they have not feared the Lord. And they shall acknowledge that it would profit them nothing to have kings, without having also the protection of God.” — Calmet.

10:1-8 A vine is only valuable for its fruit; but Israel now brought no fruit to perfection. Their hearts were divided. God is the Sovereign of the heart; he will have all, or none. Were the stream of the heart wholly after God, it would run strongly, and bear down all before it. Their pretences to covenant with God were false. Even the proceeding of justice was as poisonous hemlock. Alas, how empty a vine is the visible church even at this day! But all earthly prosperity is but a collection of bubbles, soon destroyed like foam upon the water. Sinners will in vain seek shelter from that Judge, whom they now despise as a Saviour.Their heart is divided - Between God and their idols, in that they would not wholly part with either, as Elijah upbraided them, "How long halt ye between the two opinions?" 1 Kings 18:21. When the pagan, by whom the king of Assyria replaced them, had been taught by one of the priests whom the king sent back, in order to avert God's judgments, they still propagated this division. Like Jeroboam 2 Kings 17:32-33, 2 Kings 17:41, they became fearers of the Lord," His worshipers, "and made to themselves out of their whole number (i. e., indiscriminately) priests of the high places. They were fearers of the Lord, and they were servers of their gods, according to the manner of the nations whom they carried away from thence. These nations were fearers of the Lord, and they were servers of their idols, both their children and their children's children. As did their fathers, so do they unto this day."

This divided allegiance was their hereditary worship. These pagan, as taught by one of the priests of Israel, added the service of God to that of their idols, as Israel had added the service of the idols to that of God. But God rejecteth such half service; from where he adds, "now," in a brief time, all but come, "they shall be found faulty," literally, "they shall be guilty," shall be convicted of guilt and shall bear it. They thought to "serve at once God and Mammon;" but, in truth, they served their idols only, whom they would not part with for God. God Himself then would turn away all their worship, bad, and, as they thought, good. "He," from whom their heart was divided, He Himself, by His mighty power which no man can gain-say, "shall break down their altars," literally, shall "behead" them. As they out of His gifts multiplied their altars and killed their sacrifices upon them against His will, so now should the altars themselves, be demolished; and "the images" which they had decked with the gold which He had given, should, on account of that very gold, tempt the spoiler, through whom God would spoil them.

He shall break down - He Himself. The word is emphatic. : "God willeth not that, when the merited vengeance of God is inflicted through man, it should be ascribed to man. Yea, if anyone ascribeth to himself what, by permission of God, he hath power to do against the people of God, he draweth down on him the displeasure of God, and, at times, on that very ground, can hurt the less" (see Deuteronomy 32:26, Deuteronomy 32:7; Isaiah 10:5 ff). The prophet then says very earnestly, "He Himself shall break," meaning us to understand, not the lofty hand of the enemy, but that the Lord Himself did all these things.

2. heart … divided—(1Ki 18:21; Mt 6:24; Jas 4:8).

now—that is, soon.


break down—"cut off," namely the heads of the victims. Those altars, which were the scene of cutting off the victims' heads, shall be themselves cut off.

Their heart is divided from God and his worship, or between God and Baal, such as Zephaniah 1:5 speaks of, or else divided one from another by parties, and factions, and civil wars, which tended to their ruin.

Now shall they be found faulty; as this was their sin, so the effects hereof should manifestly prove them faulty.

He, either God, or the king of Assyria stirred up by God to invade and destroy Ephraim,

shall break down their altars; utterly pull down those altars which they had multiplied to their idols: the Assyrians shall, as other conquering heathen idolaters, rage against the gods of the people they conquer, as well as against the people; such was the pride and atheism of these men.

He shall spoil their images; waste or destroy them; how goodly soever they had seemed to be, yet they should be broken to pieces; and where made of rich materials, as silver and gold, or if adorned with it, the enemy should the sooner spoil them; and then it will appear how sottish this people were to trust in them, or ascribe any praise to them, when Baal cannot defend his own images or people.

Their heart is divided,.... Some say from Hoshea their king, who would have reformed them from their idolatry, and returned them to the true worship of God; but of that there is no proof; better from one another, their affections being alienated from each other, by their discords and animosities, their conspiracies against their kings, and the murders of them, and the civil wars among themselves; they also not being of one mind, but disagreeing in their sentiments about their idols; some being for one, and some for another: or rather from God himself, from the fear of him, from his worship and service; or from the law, as the Targum; or their hearts were divided between God and their idols, as in Ahab's time between God and Baal; they pretended to worship God when they worshipped the calves, and so shared the service between them; or it may be rendered, "their heart flatters" (r) them; as if they had done that which was right and good, and were guilty of no evil, nor would any punishment be inflicted on them:

now shall they be found faulty; be convicted of their sin and folly, and appear guilty; when they shall be punished for their idolatry, and their idols not able to save them, as the destruction of them next mentioned will fully evince: or, "now shall they become desolate" (s) their land shall be desolate, and they carried captive:

he shall break down their altars, he shall spoil their images: that is, the king of Assyria shall do all this, or God by him: or, "behead their altars" (t); take off the top of them, as the Targum; the horns of them, which might be made of gold, or other ornaments which were of value; and therefore became the plunder of the enemy; and who also would break in pieces their images, for the sake of the metal, gold or silver, of which they were made; as was usually done by conquerors, and to show their entire power over the conquered, that even their gods could not deliver them out of their hands.

(r) "adblanditur cor eorum", Schmidt. (s) "nunc desolabuntur", Pagninus, Montanus, Munster, Drusius; so Kimchi and Ben Melech. (t) "decollabit", Drusius, Piscator, Tarnovius, De Dieu; "decervicabit", Cocceius.

Their heart is {c} divided; now shall they be found faulty: he shall break down their altars, he shall spoil their images.

(c) That is, from God, by serving their false gods.

2. Their heart is divided] viz., between Jehovah and idols. But this, which involves an alteration of the points, gives too weak a sense for such a context. It is better to keep the ordinary pointing, and render, Their heart is slippery (or deceitful; lit. ‘is smooth’; comp. Ezekiel 12:24 smooth, i.e. flattering, divination).

be found faulty] Rather, be dealt with as guilty (as Hosea 13:16).

he shall break down, &c.] The phrase is a bold one; it is literally ‘he shall break the necks of the altars’, i.e. perhaps strike off their horns (Amos 3:14), and so destroy them. ‘He’ is emphatically expressed in the Hebrew, to indicate the unseen observer of their thoughts and actions.

Verse 2. - Their heart is divided. Here their wickedness is traced to its fountainhead; its source was in the corrupt state of the heart. Their heart was

(1) divided, and so they halted between two opinions - between the worship of Jehovah and idolatry. Chalaq is taken in this signification by the Chaldee, Syriac, Septuagint, and Jerome, as also by the Hebrew commentators. The LXX. have

(a) ἐμέρισεν in the singular, which affords some support to Hitzig's rendering, "He (God)divided their heart," - but this is unsuitable and unscriptural; another

(b) reading of the same version is ἐμέρισαν, "They have divided their hearts," which is somewhat better, yet incorrect.

(c) The Authorized Version is also questionable, as the verb is not used intransitively in Qal.

(2) Kimchi, indeed, understands chalaq as equivalent to niehloq in the Niphal, and interprets, "From the fear of God and from his Law their heart is divided," i.e. separated; similarly Rashi: "Their heart is divided from me;" Aben Ezra somewhat peculiarly, though to the same purport: "They (their heart) has not one part (but several),"or is divided. But, notwithstanding this consensus in favor of the meaning of "divide," the rendering preferred, and justly so, by modern expositors in general, is "smooth." This is, indeed, the primary sense, that of "divide" being secondary, as division was made by lot or a smooth stone, cheleq, used for the purpose.

(3) "Their heart is smooth," that is, bland, deceitful, hypocritical; though it must be admitted that the word is mostly applied to the tongue, lip, throat, mouth, speech, and not to the heart. Their heart was hypocritical and faithless. Now shall they be found faulty; rather, they shall be dealt with as such, or punished; better still, perhaps, is the rendering, now shall they atone. The "now" defines sharply the turning-point between God's love and God's wrath. The state of things hitherto existing cannot continue; it must soon come to an end. Ere long they are doomed to discover their guilt in its punishment; they shall find out their sin by suffering; suddenly and to their cost they shall have a fearful awaking to a sense of their iniquity by the inflictions of Divine wrath upon their guilty heads. He shall break down their altars, he shall spoil their images. The verb עדפ is peculiar; being a denominative from ערֶפ, the neck, it signifies "to break the neck of," like the Greek τραχηλίζειν, decollate, then figuratively "tear down," "break in pieces." This bold expression of breaking the neck of the altars may allude to their destruction by breaking off the horns of the altars, or rather to their beheading, cutting off the heads of victims at those altars. The Hebrew expositors make the heart of the people, not God, the immediate object of the verb. "Their heart," says one of them, "shall tear down their altars and lay waste their pillars, because it is divided from me. It will tear down their altars which they are said also to have multiplied, and lay waste their pillars which they made so goodly." The means of sinning shall be taken from them and destroyed - their altars broken down and their images spoiled. As the heads of victims had been cut off at these altars erected for idolatrous worship; so the heads of their altars would be broken off. Hosea 10:2In a fresh turn the concluding thought of the last strophe (Hosea 9:10) is resumed, and the guilt and punishment of Israel still more fully described in two sections, Hosea 10:1-8 and Hosea 10:9-15. Hosea 10:1. "Israel is a running vine; it set fruit for itself: the more of its fruit, the more altars did it prepare; the better its land, the better pillars did they make. Hosea 10:2. Smooth was their heart, ow will they atone. He will break in pieces their altars, desolate their pillars. Hosea 10:3. Yea, now will they say, No king to us! for we feared not Jehovah; and the king, what shall he do to us?" Under the figure of a vine running luxuriantly, which did indeed set some good fruit, but bore no sound ripe grapes, the prophet describes Israel as a glorious plantation of God Himself, which did not answer the expectations of its Creator. The figure is simply sketched in a few bold lines. We have an explanatory parallel in Psalm 80:9-12. The participle bōqēq does not mean "empty" or "emptying out" here; for this does not suit the next clause, according to which the fruit was set, but from the primary meaning of bâqaq, to pour out, pouring itself out, overflowing, i.e., running luxuriantly. It has the same meaning, therefore, as ג סרחת in Ezekiel 17:6, that which extends its branches far and wide, that is to say, grows most vigorously. The next sentence, "it set fruit," still belongs to the figure; but in the third sentence the figure passes over into a literal prophecy. According to the abundance of its fruit, Israel made many altars; and in proportion to the goodness of its land, it made better מצּבות, Baal's pillars (see at 1 Kings 14:23); i.e., as Israel multiplied, and under the blessing of God attained to prosperity, wealth, and power in the good land (Exodus 3:8), it forgot its God, and fell more and more into idolatry (cf. Hosea 2:10; Hosea 8:4, Hosea 8:11). The reason of all this was, that their heart was smooth, i.e., dissimulating, not sincerely devoted to the Lord, inasmuch as, under the appearance of devotedness to God, they still clung to idols (for the fact, see 2 Kings 17:9). The word châlâq, to be smooth, was mostly applied by a Hebrew to the tongue, lip, mouth, throat, and speech (Psalm 5:10; Psalm 12:3; Psalm 55:22; Proverbs 5:3), and not to the heart. But in Ezekiel 12:24 we read of smooth, i.e., deceitful prophesying; and there is all the more reason for retaining the meaning "smooth" here, that the rendering "their heart is divided," which is supported by the ancient versions, cannot be grammatically defended. For châlâq is not used in kal in an intransitive sense; and the active rendering, "He (i.e., God) has divided their heart" (Hitzig), gives an unscriptural thought. They will now atone for this, for God will destroy their altars and pillars. ערף, "to break the neck of the altars," is a bold expression, applied to the destruction of the altars by breaking off the horns (compare Amos 3:14). Then will the people see and be compelled to confess that it has no longer a king, because it has not feared the Lord, since the king who has been set up in opposition to the will of the Lord (Hosea 8:4) cannot bring either help or deliverance (Ezekiel 13:10). עשׂה, to do, i.e., to help or be of use to a person (cf. Ecclesiastes 2:2).
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