Hosea 11:5
He shall not return into the land of Egypt, and the Assyrian shall be his king, because they refused to return.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(5) It is best, with Ewald, to take the two clauses as interrogative, Shall he not return into the land of Egypt? And shall not the Assyrian, &c.? (See Notes on Hosea 8:13; Hosea 10:3-6. Comp. also Hosea 11:11.)

Return—i.e., to God.

Hosea 11:5-6. He shall not return into the land of Egypt — They were desirous of making their escape thither, and many families perhaps effected it: see note on Hosea 9:6. But it is here threatened, that the nation in a body should not be permitted so to escape. But the Assyrian shall be his king — They shall be wholly in the power of the king of Assyria, and be carried away captive into his dominions; because they refused to return — Namely, to the true worship of God, and obedience to his laws, notwithstanding the many calls, reproofs, admonitions, and exhortations given them by the prophets. Their obstinacy in idolatry is the cause of all the calamities coming upon them. And the sword shall abide on his cities — His cities shall be destroyed by the conqueror’s sword; and shall consume his branches — The lesser towns and villages. Thus the word

בדיםis expounded, in a marginal note of the Bishops’ Bible. It often means the arms, or principal branches, of a great tree, and is twice translated staves, Exodus 27:6. In this place some interpreters render it bars; and Abarbanel expounds it of the strong and valiant men of the nation, observing, that the chief branches of the people in a kingdom are the valiant men. Rabbi Tanchum explains it of their children; the branches, as he observes, springing from their fathers. The word, however, also signifies lies, and is so rendered Isaiah 16:6, and Jeremiah 48:30. Bishop Horsley translates it diviners, deriving it from בדד, he was solitary, because they affected a solitary, ascetic life; a sense which he thinks, of all others, most apposite to the context. He acknowledges, however, that to render it branches, limbs, or bars, is admissible, and may very well suit the place.11:1-7 When Israel were weak and helpless as children, foolish and froward as children, then God loved them; he bore them as the nurse does the sucking child, nourished them, and suffered their manners. All who are grown up, ought often to reflect upon the goodness of God to them in their childhood. He took care of them, took pains with them, not only as a father, or a tutor, but as a mother, or nurse. When they were in the wilderness, God showed them the way in which they should go, and bore them up, taking them by the arms. He taught them the way of his commandments by the ceremonial law given by Moses. He took them by the arms, to guide them, that they might not stray, and to hold them up, that they might not stumble and fall. God's spiritual Israel are all thus supported. It is God's work to draw poor souls to himself; and none can come to him except he draw them. With bands of love; this word signifies stronger cords than the former. He eased them of the burdens they had long groaned under. Israel is very ungrateful to God. God's counsels would have saved them, but their own counsels ruined them. They backslide; there is no hold of them, no stedfastness in them. They backslide from me, from God, the chief good. They are bent to backslide; they are ready to sin; they are forward to close with every temptation. Their hearts are fully set in them to do evil. Those only are truly happy, whom the Lord teaches by his Spirit, upholds by his power, and causes to walk in his ways. By his grace he takes away the love and dominion of sin, and creates a desire for the blessed feast of the gospel, that they may feed thereon, and live for ever.He shall not return to Egypt - Some had probably returned already to Egypt; the rest were looking to Egypt for help, and rebelling against the Assyrian, (whose servant their king Hoshea had become), and making alliance with So king of Egypt. The prophet tells them, as a whole, that they shall not return to Egypt to which they looked, but should have the Assyrian for their king, whom they would not. "They refused to return" to God, who lovingly called them; therefore, what they desired, they should not have; and what they feared, that they should have. They would not have God for their king; therefore "the Assyrian" should "be their king," and a worse captivity than that of Egypt should befall them. For, from "that" they were delivered; from this, now hanging over them, never should they be restored. 5. He shall not return into … Egypt—namely, to seek help against Assyria (compare Ho 7:11), as Israel lately had done (2Ki 17:4), after having revolted from Assyria, to whom they had been tributary from the times of Menahem (2Ki 15:19). In a figurative sense, "he shall return to Egypt" (Ho 9:3), that is, to Egypt-like bondage; also many Jewish fugitives were literally to return to Egypt, when the Holy Land was to be in Assyrian and Chaldean hands.

Assyrian shall be his king—instead of having kings of their own, and Egypt as their auxiliary.

because they refused to return—just retribution. They would not return (spiritually) to God, therefore they shall not return (corporally) to Egypt, the object of their desire.

He; Ephraim thus provided for by me, thus indulged, or else Ephraim punished.

Shall not return into the land of Egypt; either needed not have courted Egypt’s friendship, or desired that assistance; I would have kept them safe enough, and sufficiently provided for them; so if you refer this to Ephraim not threatened or punished: but if Ephraim be here threatened, then you have it foretold, that though Ephraim flatters himself with false hopes of a refuge in Egypt, it should not be.

But the Assyrian shall be his king; conquering and captivating them, should make himself their king, and rule them with rigour and cruelty. Because they refused to return; the reason of all is, their obstinacy in idolatry, and their impenitence, refusing to return to God; which two latter passages are also explicable as the former, thus, if they would have returned unto me, Assyria should not have been their king. He shall not return into the land of Egypt,.... Ephraim or Israel, the ten tribes: and the Septuagint and Arabic versions express them by name, though they give a wrong sense of the words, rendering them, "and Ephraim dwelt in Egypt"; he did so indeed with the other tribes formerly; but here it is said he shall not go thither again to be a captive there, but shall go into bondage more severe than that in Egypt, even into captivity in Assyria: rather the sense is, they should not go thither for shelter, at least not as a body, though some few of them might, as in Hosea 9:3; the far greater part of them should he carried captive by the Assyrians: or they should not return to Egypt to seek for help and assistence, as they had done; either they ought not to do it, nor would there be any need of it, did they but return to the Lord, as Kimchi observes; or rather they should now be so straitly shut up in Samaria, besieged so closely by the enemy, or else carried into distant lands, that, if they would, they could not apply to Egypt for relief;

but the Assyrian shall be his king; the king of Assyria shall be king over the ten tribes, whether they want him or not; they shall be forced to acknowledge him as their king, and be subject to him, being taken and carried captive into his land:

because they refused to return: to the Lord, from whom they had backslidden, and to his pure worship, word, and ordinances, they had departed from, setting up the calves at Dan and Bethel; they refused to relinquish worshipping idols instead of the true God; thus ungratefully behaving to him for all the above favours bestowed upon them; wherefore they are righteously threatened with captivity and bondage in Assyria.

He shall not return into the land of Egypt, but the Assyrian shall be his {d} king, because they refused to return.

(d) Seeing that they condemn all this kindness, they will be led captive into Assyria.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
5. He shall not return into the land of Egypt] This however is pointless; why should Egypt be mentioned except as the land of bondage? It is also inconsistent with the statements in Hosea 8:13, Hosea 9:3; Hosea 9:6, Hosea 11:11. Some think that lo (here rendered ‘not’, but also, when spelt differently, meaning ‘to him’) belongs properly to the end of the previous verse, though no tenable way of fitting it into the construction there has yet been proposed. Others would render in Hosea 11:5, ‘Shall he not return’? but this does not read naturally. At any rate, the sense required is, ‘He shall return into the land of Egypt.’ See note on Hosea 8:13.

to return] viz. to Jehovah.Verse 5. - He shall not return into the land of Egypt, but the Assyrian shall be his king, because they refused to return. These words sound like an announcement that the season of Divine grace, so long extended to that sin-laden people, had at length expired; and that on account of their stubborn and on-grateful rebellion against Jehovah they would be forced, to go into exile and become subject to the monarch of Assyria.

(1) They had been threatened with a return to Egypt and its bondage in Hosea 8:13, "They shall return to Egypt;" and Hosea 9:3, "Ephraim shall return to Egypt;" vet now God, without any change of purpose, changes his mode of procedure, not allowing them to return to Egypt, but dooming them to a worse bondage under the Assyrians.

(2) Having been tributary to Assyria from the time of Menahem, they had revolted and applied to Egypt for help; now, however, no help would be permitted to come from Egypt nor even an opportunity of applying for it allowed. The power of Assyria would be paramount; instead, therefore, of native kings and Egyptian auxiliaries, Israel would have to submit to that iron yoke. However desirous of returning to Egypt, they would have neither the power nor the privilege of doing so. And this poor privilege of a choice of masters they were refused as a just retribution, because they had not repented of their sin and returned to God. Various methods have been resorted to, to harmonize the apparent contradiction alluded to, that is, between the affirmative and negative statements about Israel's return into Egypt.

(1) Dathe, Eichhorn, and De Wette agree with the LXX. in reading לו instead of לא, and connecting it with the preceding verse; but the other versions, as well as the manuscripts, support the received text.

(2) Jerome and Rosenmüller explain it of the people's desire to conclude an alliance with Egypt in order to throw off the yoke of Assyria, being frustrated by the superior power of the latter; thus the sense is that they shall not return any more to Egypt, as they had lately done by their ambassadors, to seek help from that land or its people. Then he assigns the reason why they would not again send ambassadors to Egypt for the purpose indicated, because the Assyrian alone would be their king. The objection to this is that lo yashubu must refer to the whole people rather than to their ambassador going to and fro between the countries.

(3) Ewald, Maurer, and others cut the knot by taking lo interrogatively, as if it were halo, and thus equivalent to an affirmative, i.e. "Shall they not return to Egypt and the Assyrian be their king?" The expected answer would be in the affirmative. Neither grammar nor context sanctions this interrogative sense.

(4) According to Hitzig, Keil, Simson, and others, we are to understand Egypt in the previous places, viz. Hosea 8:13 and Hosea 9:3, as received of the land of bondage, where in the present passage the typical sense is inadmissible, owing to the contrast with Assyria. Into Egypt Israel should not return, lest the object of the Exodus might seem frustrated, but a worse lot lay before them - another and harder bondage awaited them; the King of Assyria would be their king and reign over them, and all because of their impenitence and refusal to return to Jehovah. The following is the explanation of Kimchi: "They should not have returned to the land of Egypt to seek help; I had already said to them, 'Ye shall henceforth return no more that way;' for if they had returned to me, they would not have needed help from Egypt. And against their will Assyria rules over them, and they serve him and send him a present year by year. And why is all this? Because they refused, etc.; as if he said (they refused) to return to me; for if they had returned to me, foreign kings (literally, 'kings of the nations') would not have ruled ever them, but they would have ruled over the nations as they had done in the days of David and Solomon, when they did my will; and so have I assured them, 'Thou shall reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over thee.'" The root of מאן is cognate with מנע, to hold back, refuse; the le strengthens the connection of the objectival infinitive with the governing verb; the ellipsis of אֵלֶי is obvious. For the purpose of depicting before the eyes of the sinful people the judgment to which Israel has exposed itself through its apostasy from the Lord, Hosea is to marry a prostitute, and beget children by her, whose names are so appointed by Jehovah as to point out the evil fruits of the departure from God. Hosea 1:2. "At first, when Jehovah spake to Hosea, Jehovah said to him, God, take thee a wife of whoredom, and children of whoredom; for whoring the land whoreth away from Jehovah." The marriage which the prophet is commanded to contract, is to set forth the fact that the kingdom of Israel has fallen away from the Lord its God, and is sunken in idolatry. Hosea is to commence his prophetic labours by exhibiting this fact. תּחלּת דּבּר יי: literally, "at the commencement of 'Jehovah spake,'" i.e., at the commencement of Jehovah's speaking (dibber is not an infinitive, but a perfect, and techillath an accusative of time (Ges. 118, 2); and through the constructive the following clause is subordinated to techillath as a substantive idea: see Ges. 123, 3, Anm. 1; Ewald, 332, c.). דּבּר with ב, not to speak to a person, or through any one (ב is not equals אל), but to speak with (lit., in) a person, expressive of the inwardness or urgency of the speaking (cf. Numbers 12:6, Numbers 12:8; Habakkuk 2:1; Zechariah 1:9, etc.). "Take to thyself:" i.e., marry (a wife). אשׁת זנוּנים is stronger than זונה. A woman of whoredom, is a woman whose business or means of livelihood consists in prostitution. Along with the woman, Hosea is to take children of prostitution as well. The meaning of this is, of course, not that he is first of all to take the woman, and then beget children of prostitution by her, which would require that the two objects should be connected with קח per zeugma, in the sense of "accipe uxorem et suscipe ex ea liberos" (Drus.), or "sume tibi uxorem forn. et fac tibi filios forn." (Vulg.). The children begotten by the prophet from a married harlot-wife, could not be called yaldē zenūnı̄m, since they were not illegitimate children, but legitimate children of the prophet himself; nor is the assumption, that the three children born by the woman, according to Hosea 1:3, Hosea 1:6, Hosea 1:8, were born in adultery, and that the prophet was not their father, in harmony with Hosea 1:3, "he took Gomer, and she conceived and bare him a son." Nor can this mode of escaping from the difficulty, which is quite at variance with the text, be vindicated by an appeal to the connection between the figure and the fact. For though this connection "necessarily requires that both the children and the mother should stand in the same relation of estrangement from the lawful husband and father," as Hengstenberg argues; it neither requires that we should assume that the mother had been a chaste virgin before her marriage to the prophet, nor that the children whom she bare to her husband were begotten in adultery, and merely palmed off upon the prophet as his own. The marriage which the prophet was to contract, was simply intended to symbolize the relation already existing between Jehovah and Israel, and not the way in which it had come into existence. The "wife of whoredoms" does not represent the nation of Israel in its virgin state at the conclusion of the covenant at Sinai, but the nation of the ten tribes in its relation to Jehovah at the time of the prophet himself, when the nation, considered as a whole, had become a wife of whoredom, and in its several members resembled children of whoredom. The reference to the children of whoredom, along with the wife of whoredom, indicates unquestionably priori, that the divine command did not contemplate an actual and outward marriage, but simply a symbolical representation of the relation in which the idolatrous Israelites were then standing to the Lord their God. The explanatory clause, "for the land whoreth," etc., clearly points to this. הארץ, "the land," for the population of the land (cf. Hosea 4:1). זנה מאחרי יי, to whore from Jehovah, i.e., to fall away from Him (see at Hosea 4:12).
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