Hosea 10:5
The inhabitants of Samaria shall fear because of the calves of Bethaven: for the people thereof shall mourn over it, and the priests thereof that rejoiced on it, for the glory thereof, because it is departed from it.
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(5) It is hard to express the sarcastic force and concentrated scoff of the original: “calves,” literally, she calves, the feminine form to express contempt, the plural in allusion to the scattered worship in numerous shrines throughout Israel (or, perhaps, a pluralis majestatis of mockery). The next clause should read thus:—For it (pers. pronoun, referring to the calf par excellence of the chief seat of worship at Bethel, here degraded into Bethaven), people mourn because of it, and its priests tremble because of it. (The word for “priests,” kemarîm, means always idolatrous priesthood.

Hosea 10:5. The inhabitants of Samaria — That is, the kingdom of Israel; shall fear — “Be in a consternation.” — Horsley. Because of the calves of Beth-aven — The Jewish writers have a tradition, that the golden calf at Dan was taken away by Tiglath-pileser, when he subdued Galilee, 2 Kings 15:29; and the other at Beth-el, (here called Beth-aven: see note on chap. Hosea 4:15,) by order of Shalmaneser, of which probably this is a prophecy. For the people thereof shall mourn over it — Hebrew, אבל עליו, shall grieve for him; and the priests thereof that rejoiced in it — Being fed, clothed, and enriched by it, shall now sorrow over it; for the glory thereof — The riches of its temple; because it is departed — The Assyrians either broke it, or carried it away into Assyria. Both priests and people shall mourn and be distressed when they see it disgraced.

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.The inhabitants of Samaria shall fear because of - (i. e., for) the calves of Beth-aven He calls them in this place "cow-calves," perhaps to denote their weakness and helplessness. So far from their idol being able to help "them, they" shall be anxious and troubled for their idols, lest these should be taken captive from them. The "Bethel (House of God)" of the patriarch Jacob, was now turned into "Bethaven, the house of vanity." This, from its old sacred memories, was a more celebrated place of the calf-worship than Dan. Hosea then gives to the calf of Bethel its precedence, and ranks both idols under its one name, as "calves of the house of vanity."

For the people thereof shall mourn over it - They had set up the idols, instead of God; so God calls them no longer His people, but "the people of the calf" whom they had chosen for their god; as Moab was called "the people of Chemosh" Numbers 21:29, its idol. They had joyed in it, not in God; now they, "its people" and its priests, should "mourn over" it, when unable to help itself, much less, them. Both their joy and their sorrow showed that they were without excuse, that they had "gone willingly after the" king's "commandment," serving it of their own free-will out of love, not out of fear of the king, and, neither out of love or fear, serving God purely.

For the glory thereof, because it is departed from it - The true glory of Israel was God; the Glory of God is in Himself. "The glory of the calves," for whom Ephraim had exchanged their God, was something quite outward to them, the gold of which they were made, and the rich offerings made to them. Both together became an occasion of their being carried captive. They mourned, not because they had offended God by their sin, but for the loss of that dumb idol, whose worship had beetn their sin, and which had brought these heavy woes upon them. Impenitent even under chastisement! The prophet does not mention any grief for "the despoiling of their country, the burning of their cities, the slaughter of their people, their shame" . One only thing he names as moving them. Even then their one chief anxiety was, not that God was departed from them, but that their calf in which they had set their "glory," whereupon they so franticly relied, on which they had lavished their substance, their national distinction and disgrace, was gone. Without the grace of God people mourn, not their sins, but their idols.

5. fear because of the calves—that is, shall fear for them.

Beth-aven—substituted for Beth-el in contempt (Ho 4:15).

it—singular, the one in Beth-el; after the pattern of which the other "calves" (plural) were made. "Calves" in the Hebrew is feminine, to express contempt.

priests—The Hebrew is only used of idolatrous priests (2Ki 23:5; Zep 1:4), from a root meaning either "the black garment" in which they were attired; or, "to resound," referring to their howling cries in their sacred rites [Calvin].

that rejoiced on it—because it was a source of gain to them. Maurer translates, "Shall leap in trepidation on account of it"; as Baal's priests did (1Ki 18:26).

the glory thereof—the magnificence of its ornaments and its worship.

The citizens who dwelt yet safe in Samaria, but knew that the Assyrian invaded the kingdom, beat Israel’s army, and took his city; these idolatrous citizens were in bodily fear for their gods, lest the Assyrians should rudely spoil their godships.

Because of the calves of Beth-aven: some give the reason of their fear, because they had sinned by these calves, and provoked God, therefore should this fear seize them; but it is more likely this doth speak the object of the Samaritans’ fears, their cow-calves (as by way of contempt in the Hebrew) were the goodly deities they were afraid for; yet they trusted in these for aid against enemies, and now fear they have not power enough to defend themselves: what brutes are idolaters! Of this

Beth-aven, principal seat of the calf god, see Hosea 4:15.

The people thereof; they who dwelt at Beth-aven, who had gain and profit by the idol, to which many resorted; or else they that were addicted to this idol, worshipped it, and trusted in it.

Shall mourn over it; howl and cry over the endangered god: so let all their sorrows be multiplied that hasten after any strange god.

The priests thereof, that were to attend and offer sacrifices to these calves; the priests were like to lose their livings with their idol.

That rejoiced on it: these priests formerly were fed, clothed, enriched, and got into credit by these their idols, this made them right glad.

The glory thereof, all its credit and veneration, is departed from it; is vanished: it was once taken for a god, but now the case is altered, it is turned into a captive, and with loss of liberty hath lost its deity also; the Assyrians have either broken it, or carried it in derision into Assyria.

The inhabitants of Samaria shall fear because of the calves of Bethaven,.... Or, "the cow calves" (w), as in the original; so called by way of derision, and to denote their weakness and inability to help their worshippers; and so Bethel, where one of these calves was, is here, as elsewhere, called Bethaven; that is, the house of iniquity, or of an idol, by way of contempt; and may take in Dan also, where was the other calf, since both are mentioned; unless the plural is put for the singular: now the land of Israel being invaded by the enemy, the inhabitants of Samaria, which was the metropolis of the nation, the king, nobles, and common people that dwelt there, and were worshippers of the calves, were in pain lest they should be taken by the enemy; or because they were, these places falling into his hands before Samaria was besieged, or at least taken; and these calves being broken to pieces, which they had worshipped, and put their trust in, they were afraid the ruin of themselves and children would be next, and was not very far off:

for the people thereof shall mourn over it; either the people of Samaria, the same with the inhabitants of it; or rather the people of Bethaven, where the idol was; but now was broke to pieces, or carried away; though it is generally interpreted of the people of the calf, the worshippers of it, who would mourn over it, or for the loss of it, being taken away from them, and disposed of as in Hosea 10:6. The Jews (x) have a tradition, that, in the twentieth year of Pekah king of Israel, Tiglathpileser king of Assyria came and took away the golden calf in Dan; and, in the twelfth year of Ahaz, another king of Assyria (Shalmaneser) came and took away the golden calf at Bethel:

and the priests thereof that rejoiced on it; the Chemarims, as in Zephaniah 1:4; or "black" (y) ones, because of their meagre and sordid countenances, or black clothing: the same word the Jews use for Popish monks: here it designs the priests of Bethaven, or the calf, who before this time rejoiced on account of it, because of the sacrifices and presents of the people to it, and the good living they got in the service of it; but now would mourn, as well as the people, and more, because of being deprived of their livelihood. Some read the words without the supplement "that, the priests thereof rejoiced on it"; which some interpret according to a tradition of the Jews mentioned by Jerom, though by no other, as I can find; that the priests stole away the golden calves, and put brasen and glided ones in the place of them; so that when they were carried away the people mourned, taking them to be the true golden calves; but the priests made themselves merry with their subtle device, and rejoiced that their fraud was not detected; but rather the word here used, as Pocock and others have observed, is of that kind which has contrary senses, and signifies both to mourn and to rejoice; and here to mourn, as perhaps also in Job 3:22; and so Ben Melech observes, that there are some of their interpreters who understand it here in the sense of mourning:

for the glory of it, because it is departed from it; either because of the glory of the calf, which was gone from it, the veneration it was had in, the worship which was given to it, and the gems and ornaments that were about it; or rather the glory of Bethaven, and also of Samaria, and indeed of all Israel, which was carried captive from them; that is, the calf, which was their god, in which they gloried, and put their trust and confidence in.

(w) "vaccas, V. L. "ad. vitulas", Pagninus, Montanus; "propter vitulas", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "ob vitulas, Cocceius. (x) Seder Olam Rabba, c. 22. p. 60, 61. (y) "atrati ejus", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.

The inhabitants of Samaria shall {g} fear because of the calves of Bethaven: for the people thereof shall mourn over it, and the {h} priests thereof that rejoiced on it, for the glory thereof, because it is departed from it.

(g) When the calf will be carried away.

(h) These were certain idolatrous priests, who wore black apparel during their sacrifices, and cried with a loud voice: which superstition Elijah derided, 1Ki 18:27. See Geneva 2Ki 23:5

5. shall fear because of the calves of Beth-aven] The statement is keenly ironical. So far from being able to help their worshippers, the ‘calves of Beth-aven’ shall occasion the greatest anxiety to their worshippers. Probably however we should make a slight emendation, and render, shall bemoan the calves (yânûdû for yâgûrû); comp. the parallel clause. ‘Beth-aven’ is a contemptuous name for Bethel (see on Hosea 4:15); the ‘calves’, or more literally ‘she-calves’, may indicate what we should not otherwise have known, that Jeroboam’s ‘calf’ (or small bull) was only the chief of several of these idolatrous symbols. It should be added however that the Sept. and the Pesh. have the masc. sing. form, so that the text is not beyond dispute, especially as Hosea immediately afterwards employs pronominal suffixes of the 3rd pers. sing. masc. The feminine form in the received reading is perhaps to be explained as expressing contempt (Ἀχαιΐδες οὐκ ἔτʼ Ἀχαιοί, Il. 11. 235, has been compared); it is used nowhere else of the steer-gods.

for the people thereof, &c.] Rather, yea, his people shall mourn for it, and his priests shall tremble for it, for their glory, because it is gone into exile from them. Again keenly ironical. ‘His people’ means the steer-god’s people; Jehovah’s people they are no more: ‘Call his name Not-my-people’ (Hosea 1:9). The ‘priests’ of the idol, too, are not dignified by the title kôhǎnîm: the word used (k’mârîm, as in 2 Kings 23:5; Zephaniah 1:4) comes, directly or indirectly, from the Assyrian kamâru ‘to throw down’; it describes the priests as those who prostrate themselves in worship (Fred. Delitzsch, Assyrian and Hebrew, pp. 41, 42). Comp. below, on Hosea 11:8. ‘Their glory’, i.e. the steer-god; comp. Psalm 106:20. Literally, however, it is ‘his glory’, which might of course mean the splendid appurtenances of the worship of the steer. ‘Shall tremble’; yâgîlû borrows the sense of yâkhîlu; it seems preferred for the sake of the assonance with gâlâh (‘it is gone into exile’). Or there may be a scribe’s error in the case.

Verse 5. - The inhabitants of Samaria shall fear Because of the calves of Beth-aven. Samaria was the capital of Israel, the northern kingdom. Bethel means "house of God," once a place of sacred memory from its association with the history of the patriarch Jacob; afterward one of the two centers of idolatrous worship, and here called Beth-aven, "house of vanity," because of the idolatry. The word for "calves" is in the feminine, in order to express contempt for those idols which Jeroboam set up. With this have been compared the following expressions in Greek and Latin: Ἀχαι'´ιδες οὐκ ἔτ Ἀχαιοὶ, and O vere Phrygiae, nec enim Phryges! The Hebrews ignored the existence of female divinities, as of their, ten names of the Deity all are masculine. The feminine may also imply their weakness; so far from helping their worshippers, their worshippers were in trepidation for them, or rather it, lest it should be carried away captive. Further, this same word is in the plural, to cast ridicule on it, as if mimicking the plural of majesty, or rather, perhaps, to include that of Dan, or to intimate that the calf of Bethel, the more celebrated place, was that after which the calf of Dan and probably those of other places were fashioned, especially so as it is afterwards referred to in the singular. Besides, a few - a very few - manuscripts, it is true, read the singular, as also the LXX., which has μόσχος, and the Syriac; while Bathe, relying on these authorities, maintains the reading to have been לְעֶגְלַת in the singular. Others suppose an enallage of both gender and number; or an indefinite generality is expressed by the plural, while for abstracts the feminine is used. The coming punishment is casting its shadow before, so that the inhabitants, perceiving symptoms of its approach, tremble for their god of gold, now, like themselves, in greatest jeopardy. For the people thereof shall mourn over it. The people of Israel are now called the people of the calf, as once they had been the people of Jehovah, and as Moab was called the people of Chemosh. They had chosen the calf for their god. Of their own free-will they had done so, though at first enjoined and prompted to adopt this course by the mandate of their king; they had even rejoiced and gloried in it. Now they mourn for their idol, which can neither help itself nor them. And the priests thereof that rejoiced on it, for the glory thereof, because it is departed from it. According to this rendering, the relative must be understood before "rejoiced," which, though quite possible and not ungrammatical, is, however, unnecessary. The Hebrew commentators all understand the word in the sense of "joy" or "jubilation;" thus Rashi says," Why is it that its people mourn over, it and its priests, who always rejoiced over it, now mourn over its glory that is gone away?" The word גִיל, however, is primarily "to twist or whirl one's self," and is thence applied to any violent emotion, generally of joy, also of anxiety and fear, as here, so that the simpler and more correct rendering is, the priests thereof shall tremble for it, for its glory, because it is departed from it. The priests here mentioned have a peculiar name, kemarim, from kamar, to be black, from the black garments in which they ministered, and are thus distinguished as ministers of a foreign cult; for kohen is the usual word for a Hebrew priest, and his robe of office is said to have been white. The glory of the calf-god was not the temple treasure at Bethel, nor its glory as the state God set up there, but the honor and the Divine halo with which its worship there was surrounded. Thus Kimchi: "When its glory is departed from it; and this means the honor of its worship. When the calf is broken before their eyes its glory shall depart from it." The perfects of "mourn" and "departed" are prophetic, denoting the certainty of the events, though yet future; while galah and yagilu form the favorite assonance. But a question still remains - Why is Samaria and not Beth-avert said to mourn? To this the explanation of Kimchi is a satisfactory reply: "The inhabitants of Samaria tremble. And the prophet makes mention of Samaria, though there were no calves there, because it was the metropolis of the kingdom, where the kings of Israel resided, and it was these kings who strengthened the people in the worship of the calves. And he says," When Bethel is laid waste, and the calves cannot deliver it, the inhabitants of Samaria tremble for themselves, which place (Samaria) the King of Assyria laid siege to for three years." Hosea 10:5The thoughts of Hosea 10:2, Hosea 10:3 are carried out still further in Hosea 10:4-7. Hosea 10:4. "They have spoken words, sworn falsely, made treaties: thus right springs up like darnel in the furrows of the field. Hosea 10:5. For the calves of Beth-aven the inhabitants of Samaria were afraid: yea, its people mourn over it, and its sacred ministers will tremble at it, at its glory, because it has strayed from them. Hosea 10:6. Men will also carry it to Asshur, as a present for king Jareb: shame will seize upon Ephraim, and Israel will be put to shame for its counsel." The dissimulation of heart (Hosea 10:3) manifested itself in their speaking words which were nothing but words, i.e., in vain talk (cf. Isaiah 58:13), in false swearing, and in the making of treaties. אלות, by virtue of the parallelism, is an infin. abs. for אלה, formed like כּרת, analogous to שׁתות (Isaiah 22:13; see Ewald, 240, b). כּרת בּרית, in connection with false swearing, must signify the making of a covenant without any truthfulness in it, i.e., the conclusion of treaties with foreign nations - for example, with Assyria - which they were inclined to observe only so long as they could promise themselves advantages from them. In consequence of this, right has become like a bitter plant growing luxuriantly (ראשׁ equals רושׁ; see at Deuteronomy 29:17). Mishpât does not mean judgment here, or the punitive judgment of God (Chald. and many others), for this could hardly be compared with propriety to weeds running over everything, but right in its degeneracy into wrong, or right that men have turned into bitter fruit or poison (Amos 6:12). This spreads about in the kingdom, as weeds spread luxuriantly in the furrows of the field (שׂדי a poetical form for שׂדה, like Deuteronomy 32:13; Psalm 8:8). Therefore the judgment cannot be delayed, and is already approaching in so threatening a manner, that the inhabitants of Samaria tremble for the golden calves. The plural ‛eglōth is used with indefinite generality, and gives no warrant, therefore, for the inference that there were several golden calves set up in Bethel. Moreover, this would be at variance with the fact, that in the sentences which follow we find "the (one) calf" spoken of. The feminine form ‛eglōth, which only occurs here, is also probably connected with the abstract use of the plural, inasmuch as the feminine is the proper form for abstracts. Bēth-'âven for Bēth-'ēl, as in Hosea 4:15. Shâkhēn is construed with the plural, as an adjective used in a collective sense. כּי (Hosea 4:5) is emphatic, and the suffixes attached to עמּו and כּמריו do not refer to Samaria, but to the idol, i.e., the calf, since the prophet distinctly calls Israel, which ought to have been the nation of Jehovah, the nation of its calf-idol, which mourned with its priests (kemârı̄m, the priests appointed in connection with the worship of the calves: see at 2 Kings 23:5) for the carrying away of the calf to Assyria. גּיל does not mean to exult or rejoice here, nor to tremble (applied to the leaping of the heart from fear, as it does from joy), but has the same meaning as חיל in Psalm 96:9. עליו is still further defined by על־כּבודו, "for its glory," i.e., not for the temple-treasure at Bethel (Hitzig), nor the one glorious image of the calf, as the symbol of the state-god (Ewald, Umbreit), but the calf, to which the people attributed the glory of the true God. The perfect, gâlâh, is used prophetically of that which was as good as complete and certain (for the fut. exact., cf. Ewald, 343, a). The golden calf, the glory of the nation, will have to wander into exile. This cannot even save itself; it will be taken to Assyria, to king Jareb (see at Hosea 5:13), as minchâh, a present of tribute (see 2 Samuel 8:2, 2 Samuel 8:6; 1 Kings 5:1). For the construing of the passive with את, see Ges. 143, 1, a. Then will Ephraim ( equals Israel) be seized by reproach and shame. Boshnâh, a word only met with here; it is formed from the masculine bōshen, which is not used at all (see Ewald, 163, 164).
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