Hosea 10:4
They have spoken words, swearing falsely in making a covenant: thus judgment springs up as hemlock in the furrows of the field.
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(4) Judgmenti.e., Divine judgments shall prevail not as a blessing, but as a curse; not as a precious harvest, but as a poisonous plant (poppy or hemlock) in the ridges of the field.

Hosea 10:4. They have spoken words — Mere empty words; swearing falsely in making a covenant — This may be spoken either of their breaking their solemn covenant with God, (see Hosea 5:7,) or of their treachery toward their kings, against whom they had formed several conspiracies: see 2 Kings 15:10; 2 Kings 15:14; 2 Kings 15:25; 2 Kings 15:30. Thus judgment — Divine vengeance; springeth up as hemlock, &c. — Destructive calamities, inflicted by the righteous judgment of God, will necessarily abound, as hemlock does in the furrows of a field. Bishop Horsley renders the verse, Negotiate, (or, talk words,) swear false oaths, ratify a treaty; nevertheless judgment shall sprout up, like hemlock over the ridges of the field. Which version he paraphrases thus: “Negotiate alliances with one power after another; make a treaty with the Assyrians; bind yourselves to it with an oath; break your oath, and make a new alliance with the Egyptian. In spite of all measures of crooked policy, all acquisitions of foreign aid and support, judgment is springing up.”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.They have spoken words - The words which they spoke were eminently "words;" they were mere "words," which had no substance; "swearing falsely in making a covenant, literally, swearing falsely, making a covenant, and judgments springeth up as hemlock in the furrows of the field." : "There is no truth in words, no sanctity in oaths, no faithfulness in keeping covenants, no justice in giving judgments." Such is the result of all their oaths and covenants, that "judgment springeth up," yea, flourisheth; but, what judgment? Judgment, bitter and poisonous as hemlock, flourishes, as hemlock would flourish on ground broken up and prepared for it. They break up the ground, make the "furrows." They will not have any chance self-sown seed; they prepare the soil for harvest, full, abundant, regular, cleared of all besides. And what harvest? Not any wholesome plant, but poison. They cultivate injustice and wickedness, as if these were to be the fruits to be rendered to God from His own land. So Amos says, "Ye have turned judgment into gall or wormwood" Amos 6:12; Amos 5:7, and Habakkuk, "Judgment went forth perverted" Habakkuk 1:4. 4. words—mere empty words.

swearing falsely in making a covenant—breaking their engagement to Shalmaneser (2Ki 17:4), and making a covenant with So, though covenants with foreigners were forbidden.

judgment … as hemlock—that is, divine judgment shall spring up as rank, and as deadly, as hemlock in the furrows (De 29:18; Am 5:7; 6:12). Gesenius translates, "poppy." Grotius, "darnel."

They, the nobles and great men in Israel, the heads of the parties, or the counsellors of the kingdom,

have spoken words; have in long and repeated consultations and debates contrived and laid forth the designs most like to help us; but all in vain, all is but words; or thus they have deceived one another, and ruined all; and this latter seems exactly to suit with what follows.

Swearing falsely, by perjury deceiving those they treated with, in making a covenant; either among themselves, accepting a usurper, promising and swearing fealty to him; or with their allies, as with the Assyrian king, whose covenant they perjuriously broke, and, contrary to oath, sent to and confederated with Sun, or So, king of Egypt.

Judgment, i.e. Divine revenges, do so abound every where; or else unequal and sinful projects, counsels, and resolutions of their rulers are, instead of just, wholesome, and saving, turned into bitter, poisonous, and pernicious as hemlock.

As hemlock in the furrows of the field; a proverbial speech, expressing the greatness of this pernicious evil. So this will be explained by Amos 6:12, oppression, injustice, and all sins spread (as hemlock quickly overruns a field) over all the kingdom. They have spoken words, swearing falsely in making a covenant,.... Those are other crimes they were guilty of, for which the wrath of God could not be awarded from them by a king, if they had one, or by any other. They had used vain and idle words in their common talk and conversation; and lying and deceitful ones to one another in trade and commerce, in contracts and promises; and so had deceived and overreached one another: they had belched out many "oaths of vanity" (u): or vain oaths and curses; their mouths had been full of cursing and bitterness; and they made covenants with God, and their king, and with other kings and princes, and with one another, and had not kept them; and now for these things God had a controversy with them:

thus judgment springeth up as hemlock in the furrows of the field; either the judgment of God, his wrath and vengeance for the above sins, rose up and spread itself in all their cities, towns, and villages; or rather the judgment and justice they pretended to execute, instead of being what it should have been, useful and beneficial to the people, like a wholesome herb, sprung up like hemlock, bitter and poisonous, and spread itself in all parts of the kingdom. Injustice is meant; see Amos 6:12.

(u) "execrationes vanitatis", Schmidt.

They have spoken words, swearing falsely in making {e} a covenant: thus {f} judgment springeth up as hemlock in the furrows of the field.

(e) In promising to be faithful toward God.

(f) In this way their integrity and fidelity which they pretended, was nothing but bitterness and grief.

4. They have spoken words] i.e. mere ‘words of the lips’ (Isaiah 36:5, comp. Isaiah 58:13), and, as the context shows, deliberate falsehoods (comp. Isaiah 29:21).

swearing falsely in making a covenant] Better, they swear falsely, they make covenants. The ‘covenants’ spoken of are those entered into with Assyria and Egypt (Hosea 10:6, Hosea 12:2), not those of everyday life, since it is the making of covenants, and not the breaking of them, which the prophet denounces.

thus judgment springeth up as hemlock, &c.] Rather, so judgment shall spring up as the poppy. Their sins are as it were the seed from which a plant is produced as bitter and as abundant as the poppy of the fields. The plant in question (Heb. rôsh) is often referred to, and cannot be identified with precision (see on Jeremiah 8:14); most think it is some umbelliferous plant, rôsh being the common word for ‘head.’ Elsewhere its bitterness is the point of comparison (Deuteronomy 29:18; Jeremiah 9:15; Lamentations 3:19); here its abundant growth as well. Hence some have been led to render, continuing the description of the immorality of Israel, ‘and justice springs up like the poppy’, i.e., understanding the passage ironically, acts of hurtful injustice are as luxuriantly abundant as that noxious weed, comp. Amos 6:12. But the universality of the divine judgment can be as well expressed by this figure as the universality of sin, and Hosea 10:5 requires some previous reference to the punishment to explain it. The judgment began with the man who was foremost in those illegitimate covenants—with the prophet’s royal namesake (Hoshea); see 2 Kings 17:4.Verse 4. - God, by the prophet, had charged Israel with fruitlessness, or with bringing forth fruit to themselves; with perverting the bounties of his providence in promoting idolatry; with their division of heart, or deceitfulness of heart. He had also threatened to punish them for their sin, and to deprive them of the means of sinning by destroying the instruments thereof, and to prevent their obtaining any help from their king, proving to them the folly of depending on him. He now proceeds, in this and following verses (4-8), to point out their moral corruption, the usual consequence or concomitant of irreligion and of false religion, instancing their deceptive dealing in the common affairs of life and their perjury in public compacts or covenants, as also their general unrighteousness. He threatens to destroy their idols to the distress of their worshippers and ministering priests as well as of their chief city. He threatens further to cause their calf-idols to be carried into captivity, pouring shame and contempt on their enterprises; to cut off their king; to leave the places of their idol-worship desolate, filling the people with distress and despair because of all their sins. They have spoken words, swearing falsely in making a covenant. In this fourth verse the prophet deplores the absence of truth, faithfulness, and loyalty to duty. This expression, "they have spoken words," is generally understood to signify

(a) "empty words," "false words," only words and no more, like the Latin verba alicui dare. Thus their vain, deceitful, lying words in private transactions and common affairs of everyday life would correspond to their perjury in public treaties and covenants. Their words were deceitful and their oaths falsehood. In their ordinary business transactions they used words, empty words, words without truth, corresponding thereto; in international concerns they had pursued the same course of falsifying and covenant-breaking. After entering into an engagement with the Assyrian king Shalmaneser, they made a covenant with So King of Egypt, as we read in 2 Kings 17:4, "And the King of Assyria found conspiracy in Hoshea: for he had sent messengers to So King of Egypt, and brought no present to the King of Assyria, as he had done year by year." In this latter case they acted as covenant-breakers, and at the same time contravened the Divine command, which forbade them entering into covenants with foreigners. The first clause, however, is understood by some

(b) in the sense of "deliberating.' Thus Kimchi understands it, erroneously referring it to Jeroboam and his countrymen; thus: "Jeroboam and his companions took counsel what they should do in order to strengthen the government in his hand, and they deliberated (or held consultation) that the people should not go up to Jerusalem to the house of the sanctuary; and for this purpose they bound themselves by oath and made a covenant. But their oath was a vain one, because their oath was intended to frustrate the words of the Law and the command of God, and to make images for their worship." The words אָללֺוֹת ָשוְא have been explained by some

(1) as "oaths of vanity," that is, oaths by vanity or an idol, as an oath of Jehovah is an oath by Jehovah, אָלות being taken for a noun in the plural;

(2) as predicate, while the following words supply the subject; thus: "their covenant contracts are oaths of vanity." This mistake of taking אָלות for a noun arose from the anomalous form of the word, which is really a verb. The form is explained by Aben Ezra, who calls it an irregular formation, as if it were compounded of the infinitive construct as indicated by the ending אּות, and the infinitive absolute as indicated by the qamets in the first syllable; it is in reality the infinitive absolute, and the irregularity is owing to the assonance with karoth thence resulting. As to the construction, it is that of the infinitive standing in place of the finite verb, of which Gesenius says, "This is frequent... in the expression of several successive acts or states, where only the first of the verbs employed takes the required form in respect to tense and person, the others being simply put in the infinitive with the same tense and person implied." The meaning of the clause is obviously that there was no longer any respect for the sanctity of an oath; while the treaties refer to those made with the Assyrian king, with the object of securing and upholding the government. Thus judgment springeth up as hemlock in the furrows of the field. The judgment here spoken of is understood

(1) by the Hebrew interpreters, following the Chaldee Version, as the judgment of God and consequent punishment of Israel because of sin; thus Kinchi: "Therefore there springs up against them the judgment of chastisements and punishments like hemlock, which is a bitter herb that springs up on the furrows of the field." Some, again,

(2) explain it of the decree of the kings of Israel in reference to the worship of idols, which, like a bitter herb, was to issue in national ruin. We much prefer

(3) the more obvious sense of the clause which refers it to the perversion of judgment and justice. Thus Amos addresses them as those who "turn judgment to wormwood, and leave off righteousness in the earth," and calls on them to "establish judgment in the gate;" and Habakkuk writes, "Wrong [wrested] judgment proceedeth." It is implied in the mention of furrows that there has been careful preparation for the intended crop. The seed they sow is injustice; and the plant that springs up from it is a poison-plant - hemlock, bitter and noxious, and is everywhere rampant. Another

(4) explanation understands "judgment" in the sense of crime which calls on judgment for punishment. The field is that of the Israelitish nation; in all the furrows of that wide field judgment, that is, crime, springs up as luxuriantly and abundantly as hemlock. The multiplication of crime in Israel, like a luxurious noxious growth in some large field, is the idea thus conveyed. This explanation has the appearance at least of being somewhat strained and forced, though it yields a good sense. The End of the Hostile King

As has been already seen, the expressions in Daniel 11:40-43 regarding this king do not agree with Antiochus Epiphanes, so also the statements regarding his end are in contradiction to the historical facts regarding the end of the Syrian king. When the hostile king took possession of Egypt and its treasures, and made the Lybians and Cushites subject to him, tidings from the east and the north overwhelm him with terror. The masc. יבהלהוּ stands ad sensum related to the persons who occasion the reports. The reports excited his anger, so that he goes forth to destroy many. We have to think thus on the reports of revolt and insurrections in the east and the north of his kingdom, which came to his ears in Egypt. On this ground Hitzig, with other interpreters, refuses to refer the statement in Daniel 11:44 to the expedition of Antiochus against the Parthians and Armenians (Tacit. hist. Daniel 11:8, and App. Syr. c. 45, 46; 1 Macc. 3:37), because Antiochus did not undertake this expedition from Egypt; and rather, in regard to the east, thinks on the tidings from Jerusalem of the rebellion of Judea (2 Macc. 5:11ff.; 1 Macc. 1:24), and in regard to the north, on the very problematical expedition against the Aradiaei, without observing, however, that no Scripture writer designates Jerusalem as lying in the east of Egypt, But besides, Antiochus, since he has occupied for some years beyond the Euphrates, and there met with his death, could not shortly before his end lead an expedition out of Egypt against Aradus. What Porphyry says

(Note: The words are: Pugnans contra Aegyptios et Lybias, Aethiopiasque pertransiens, audiet sibi ab aquilone et oriente praelia concitari, unde et regrediens capit Aradios resistentes et omnem in littore Phoenicis vastavit provinciam; confestimque pergit ad Artaxiam regem Armeniae, qui de orientis partibus movebatur.)

(in Jerome under Daniel 11:44) regarding an expedition of Antiochus undertaken from Egypt and Lybia against the Aradiaei and the Armenian king Artaxias, he has gathered only from this verse and from notices regarding the wars of Antiochus against the Aradiaei and king Artaxias (after whose imprisonment, according to App. Syr. c. 46, he died), without having any historical evidence for it. But even though the statement of Porphyry were better established, yet it would not agree with Daniel 11:45; for when the king goes forth, in consequence of the report brought to him, to destroy many, he plants, according to Daniel 11:45, his palace-tent near to the holy mount, and here comes to his end; thus meeting with his destruction in the Holy Land not far from Jerusalem, while Antiochus, according to Polybius and Porphyry, died in the Persian city of Tabae on his return from Persia to Babylon.

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