Hosea 11:12
Ephraim compasses me about with lies, and the house of Israel with deceit: but Judah yet rules with God, and is faithful with the saints.
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(12) Should stand as the first verse of Hosea 12, just as in the Hebrew text. The rest of the prophecy appears as a distinct composition, a new commencemen, of judgment and incrimination, followed at last by one more utterance of Divine promise.

The rendering of the latter part of the verse in the English version was that of the Jewish scholars who saw here a reference to the reign of Hezekiah, but it is opposed to the mention of the “controversy with Judah” in Hosea 12:3. Accordingly, the rendering adopted by Ewald, Wünsche, Nowack, and others, is more probable:—“And Judah still roves unbridled towards God, and towards the faithful Holy One,” Judah’s inconstancy being contrasted with the faithfulness of God. The plural form, the Holy Ones, may, like the plural forms, Elohîm, Adonîm, suggest personalities within the substance of deity. The LXX. seem to indicate that we have not the right Hebrew text here.

Hosea 11:12. Ephraim compasseth me about with lies — Ephraim and Israel are hypocrites; they promise much and perform nothing; they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. But Judah yet ruleth with God — Judah kept close to that kingly government which God had settled in David’s family, and faithfully observed those ordinances which God had given to his people, here termed saints, as they are also Deuteronomy 33:3; and else where a holy nation, and peculiar people. This seems to relate to the times of Hezekiah, who restored the pure worship of God in Judah; at which time the ten tribes were flagrantly wicked, and wholly addicted to an idolatrous worship. Instead of saints, Bishop Horsley reads, holy ones, and interprets the expression of the persons of the Trinity. His translation of the verse is, “Ephraim hath compassed me about with treachery, and the house of Israel with deceit. But Judah shall yet obtain dominion with God, and shall be established with the holy ones.” He considers the expression, shall obtain dominion, &c., as “a promissory allusion to a final restoration of the Jewish monarchy;” and the remaining clause, shall be established, &c., as signifying “either the constancy of Judah’s fidelity to the Holy Ones, or the firmness of the support which he shall receive from them.” And he thinks that “by the use of this plural word, Holy Ones, the prophecy clearly points to the conversion of the Jewish people to the Christian faith.” 11:8-12 God is slow to anger, and is loth to abandon a people to utter ruin, who have been called by his name. When God was to give a sacrifice for sin, and a Saviour for sinners, he spared not his own Son, that he might spare us. This is the language of the day of his patience; but when men sin that away, then the great day of his wrath comes. Man's compassions are nothing in comparison with the tender mercies of our God, whose thoughts and ways, in receiving returning sinners, are as much above ours as heaven is above the earth. God knows how to pardon poor sinners. He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and therein declares his righteousness, now Christ has purchased the pardon, and he has promised it. Holy trembling at the word of Christ will draw us to him, not drive us from him, the children tremble, and flee to him. And all that come at the gospel call, shall have a place and a name in the gospel church. The religious service of Israel were mere hypocrisy, but in Judah regard was had to God's laws, and the people followed their pious forefathers. Let us be faithful: those who thus honour God, he will honour, but such us despise Him shall be lightly esteemed.Ephraim compasseth Me about with lies - Having spoken of future repentance, conversion, restoration, he turns back to those around him, and declares why they can have no share in that restoration. Nothing about them was true. If ever they approached God, it was "with lies." : "God, being infinite, cannot really be "compassed about." The prophet so speaks, to describe the "great multitude of those who thus lied to God, and the multitude and manifoldness of their lies. Wherever God looked, in all parts of their kingdom, in all their doings, all which He could see was lying to Himself." All was, as it were, one throng of lies, heaped on one another, jostling with one another. Such is the world now. "Their sin was especially a lie, because they sinned, not through ignorance, but through malice." Their chief lie was the setting up of the worship of the calves, with a worldly end, yet with pretence of religion toward God; denying Him, the One true God, in that they joined idols with Him, yet professing to serve Him. And so all their worship of God, their repentance, their prayers, their sacrifices were all one lie. For one lie underlay all, penetrated all, corrupted all. All half-belief is unbelief; all half-repentance is unrepentance, all half-worship is unworship; and, in that each and all give themselves out for that divine whole, whereof they are but the counterfeit, each and all are "lies," wherewith men, on all sides, encompass God. From these wrong thoughts of God all their other deceits flowed, while yet, "they deceived, not Him but themselves, in that they thought that they could deceive Him, who cannot be deceived." When Christ came, the house of Israel surrounded Him with lies, the scribes and lawyers, the Pharisees and Sadducees and Herodians, vying with one another, "how they might entangle Him in His talk" Matthew 22:15.

But Judah yet ruleth with God - Ephraim had cast off the rule of God, the kings and priests whom He had appointed, so that his whole kingdom and polity was without God and against Him. In contrast with this, Judah, amid all His sins, was outwardly faithful. He adhered to the line of kings, from whom was to spring the Christ, David's Son but David's Lord. He worshiped with the priests whom God had appointed to offer the typical sacrifices, until "He" should come, "the high priest forever, after the order of Melchisedek," who should end those sacrifices by the Sacrifice of Himself. Thus far Judah "ruled with God;" he was on the side of God, maintained the worship of God, was upheld by God. So Abijah said to Jeroboam, "The Lord is our God, and we have not forsaken Him, and the priests which minister unto the Lord are the sons of Aaron, and the Levites wait upon their business. For we keep the charge of the Lord our God, but ye have forsaken Him, and behold God is with us for our Captain, ..." 2 Chronicles 13:10-12.

And is faithful with the saints - Or (better perhaps, with the E. M) "with the All-Holy." The same plural is used of God elsewhere (Joshua 24:19; and in Proverbs 30:3); and its use, like that of the ordinary name of God, is founded on the mystery of the Trinity. It does not teach it, but neither can it be accounted for in any other way. This faithfulness of Judah was outward only, (as the upbraiding of the prophet to Judah testifies,) yet did it much favor inward holiness. "The body without the soul is dead;" yet the life, even when seeming to be dying out, might be brought back, when the body was there; not, when it too was dissolved. Hence, Judah had many good kings, Israel none. Yet, in that he says, "yet ruleth with God," he shows that a time was coming when Judah too would be, not "with God" but against Him, and also would be cast off.

12. Maurer joins this verse with the twelfth chapter. But as this verse praises Judah, whereas Ho 12:2 censures him, it must belong rather to the eleventh chapter and a new prophecy begins at the twelfth chapter. To avoid this, Maurer translates this verse as a censure, "Judah wanders with God," that is, though having the true God, he wanders after false gods.

ruleth with God—to serve God is to reign. Ephraim wished to rule without God (compare 1Co 4:8); nay, even, in order to rule, cast off God's worship [Rivetus]. In Judah was the legitimate succession of kings and priests.

with the saints—the holy priests and Levites [Rivetus]. With the fathers and prophets who handed down the pure worship of God. Israel's apostasy is the more culpable, as he had before him the good example of Judah, which he set at naught. The parallelism ("with God") favors Margin, "With THE Most Holy One."

This verse might better begin the next chapter, and by most interpreters I have seen, it is the first verse of the next chapter; but since we find it here we will here consider it.

Ephraim; many or the most of Ephraim.

Compasseth me about with lies; play the hypocrites with me still; yet give me good words, call themselves my people, and say I am their God, and that they worship me and seek me; but they flatter me with their mouths, and lie unto me with their tongues, as Psalm 78:36. So God upbraids them with this their sin.

And the house of Israel with deceit; the same thing in an ingeminated phrase, to affect and ascertain the more.

Judah; the people of the two tribes, under the government of the house of David.

Ruleth with God; while idolaters are vassals and slaves to the devil and to their own superstitious fears, the true worshippers of God, like princes, rule with God. Or rather, keeping to the house of David, retained the government in state affairs, which was

Theopolitia, a government set up of God: when Ephraim made kings and princes, but God did not know it, i.e. did not advise nor approve it.

And is faithful with the saints; retains also purity, at least truth, of worship, and in the holy things of God keepeth to his word, and comparatively is faithful: whereas Ephraim is hypocritical and false, Judah adheres to God’s holy prophets, priests, and other saints of God. Ephraim compasseth me about with lies, and the house of Israel with deceit,.... Here properly we should begin a new chapter, as many interpreters and commentators do; for the prophet, or the Lord by him, in Hosea 11:11, having finished his predictions concerning the call and conversion of the Israelites, and their return to their land, here begins a new discourse, by comparing the characters of Ephraim and Judah, and thence descends to the sins and punishment of both. The former, namely, Ephraim or Israel, that is, the ten tribes, surrounded either the prophet, to hear him prophesy, and professed a great regard to what he said; though it was all deceit and flattery: or rather the Lord himself, whom they pretended to serve and worship when they worshipped the calves at Dan and Bethel; and would have it thought they did not worship them, but the Lord in them, and by them, as the Papists now say of their images and image worship; but let them not deceive themselves, God will not be mocked: or when they did at any time seem to approach unto him in any branch of religious worship, either to pray unto him, or to praise him, it was not done with sincerity; it was only with their mouths, not with their hearts; these agreed not together, but, like their ancestors of old, "they did flatter, him with their mouth, and lied unto him with their tongues", Psalm 78:36; and so all such professors of religion, who are not sincere in their service and worship of God; or meet together to speak and hear false doctrines, which are lies in hypocrisy; or attend to superstition and will worship, and set up ordinances and institutions of their own, neglecting those which are of God, do as Ephraim did, encompass the Lord with lies and deceit;

but Judah yet ruleth with God; a theocracy was as yet acknowledged and supported among them; God ruled in the midst of them, and; they ruled with him; their kings ruled in the fear of God, and according to his laws, statutes, and appointment, and not their own; particularly in the days of Hezekiah, which may be here respected, the people retained and practised the true worship and service of God: which, as it is the truest liberty, so is the highest honour and dignity: such are rulers with God, as all the Lord's people, all that believe in Christ, are; they are made by his grace kings and princes; and they appear to be so by their new birth; they are clothed, fed, and guarded as princes, as the sons of a king, as kings themselves; they have the riches and power of kings; they are possessed of a kingdom of grace now, which is within them, and where grace reigns, through righteousness, over their lusts and corruptions; and great power, like princes, have they in prayer with God, and are heirs of the kingdom of glory, as well as shall reign with Christ on earth. Gussetius renders it, "Judah yet weeps with God": as his father Jacob did, imitating him, as in Hosea 12:4;

and is faithful with the saints; which Kimchi's father interprets of God himself; and so Lyra, and according to him Jarchi: and then the sense is, "and he", that is, God, "is faithful with the saints"; in fulfilling all his counsels, purposes, and designs of grace concerning them; in making good his covenant with them, and his promises unto them; and by bringing them to the enjoyment of all that grace and glory he calls them to: but this is rather an epithet of Judah, who kept to the word and worship of the true God, as the saints of old, their ancestors, had done; walked in the good old way, in the way of good men, and kept the paths of the righteous; abode by the true priests of the Lord, who were set apart and sanctified for that office; and hearkened to the prophets, the holy men of God, who spake to them, being moved by the Holy Spirit: and adhered firmly "to the holy things" (p), as it may be rendered; to the holy temple, and the worship in it; to the holy sacrifices, altars, &c. when the ten tribes departed from them: and so this may be applied to the faithful in Christ Jesus, that believe in him truly, and continue in the faith of him in all ages; and who are "faithful with the Holy Ones" (q); the same with God in the former clause; so Kimchi interprets it, and so the word is used in Proverbs 9:10; see Joshua 24:19; that is, with Father, Son, and Spirit; with the Father, when they worship him in spirit and truth; with the Son, when they cleave to him with full purpose of heart; with the Spirit, when they walk after him, and give to each the glory due unto them: or rather, "faithful with holy men" (r); sanctified by the Spirit and grace of God; as they are, when they hold fast the faith delivered to the saints without mixture or wavering, with courage and manliness; though the greater number is against them, and they are reproached and persecuted for so doing; when they abide by the ordinances of Christ, as they were delivered, and keep them in faith and love, without sinister views; when they continue steadfastly in the communion of the saints, attending with them on the word and ordinances, and do not forsake their assembling together; and when they constantly exhort and stir up one another to the duties of religion, and faithfully admonish and reprove each other as there is occasion for it.

(p) "rebus sanctis", Rivetus. (q) "Cum diis sanctis", Munster, Vatablus. So Ben Melech. (r) "Cum sanctis", i.e. "hominibus", Drusius.

Ephraim compasseth me about with lies, and the house of Israel with deceit: but Judah yet ruleth with {l} God, and is faithful with the saints.

(l) Governs their state according to God's word, and does not degenerate.

12. The Septuagint, and after it the English Version, mistook the blame of the second half of this verse for praise, and hence attached the verse to chap. 11. Properly, however, it belongs to chap. 12, of which it is the first verse in the Hebrew Bible. Jehovah is the speaker. Israel’s sins of treason and deceit are so numerous that his God is as it were surrounded by them, and can see nothing else; nor has Judah shown any more deference to the repeated warnings of the prophet.

but Judah yet ruleth, &c.] Rather, and Judah is yet wayward towards God, and towards the faithful Holy One. ‘Yet’, because Hosea’s earlier prophecies record the long continuance of Judah’s backsliding (Hosea 5:10, Hosea 6:4; Hosea 6:11, Hosea 8:14). The word rendered ‘wayward’ has the root-meaning of roving unrestrained, as when an animal has broken loose. Hence Jeremiah 2:31, ‘Wherefore say my people, We rove at large; we will come no more unto thee.’ ‘The Holy One’ has in the Hebrew the plural termination, as in Proverbs 9:10; it seems formed on the model of Elohim, ‘(the) divinity’, lit. ‘(the) divinities.’ We might express the force of the plural by rendering ‘the All-Holy One’, or (as margin) ‘the Most Holy.’ The Septuagint (partly followed by the Peshito) renders, νῦν ἔγνω αὐτοὺς ὁ θεὸς, καὶ ὁ λαὸς ἅγιος κεκλήσεται θεοῦ. But dubious as our Hebrew text may be, it gives a more suitable sense than that of the Septuagint.Verse 12. - Ephraim compasseth me about with lies, and the house of Israel with deceit: but Judah yet ruleth with God, and is faithful with the saints. The first clause sets forth the faithlessness and insincerity of Israel, and that in contrast with Judah. Thus understood, the verse properly belongs to the present chapter. But others understand the last clause differently, and deny the contrast, viz. "Judah is yet defiant towards God and towards the All-Holy One, who is faithful."

"And she weaned Unfavoured, and conceived, and bare a son. And He said, Call his name Not-my-people; for ye are not my people, and I will not be yours." If weaning is mentioned not merely for the sake of varying the expression, but with a deliberate meaning, it certainly cannot indicate the continued patience of God with the rebellious nation, as Calvin supposes, but rather implies the uninterrupted succession of the calamities set forth by the names of the children. As soon as the Lord ceases to compassionate the rebellious tribes, the state of rejection ensues, so that they are no longer "my people," and Jehovah belongs to them no more. In the last clause, the words pass with emphasis into the second person, or direct address, "I will not be to you," i.e., will no more belong to you (cf. Psalm 118:6; Exodus 19:5; Ezekiel 16:8). We need not supply 'Elohim here, and we may not weaken לא אהיה לכם into "no more help you, or come to your aid." For the fulfilment, see 2 Kings 17:18.
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