Hosea 11:7
And my people are bent to backsliding from me: though they called them to the most High, none at all would exalt him.
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(7) No imagery is used, as of unfaithful wife, recalcitrant heifer, or furnace-piling baker, but homely literal commonplace. The people were called by sufficient means to the highest worship, but they were bent on the lowest.

Hosea 11:7. My people are bent to backsliding from me — Many versions render this clause, Nevertheless, my people are in suspense (or hesitate) about returning to me; though they called them to the Most High — Though my prophets, and other pious persons, invited and exhorted them to return to my worship and service; none at all would exalt him — Scarce any would hearken and obey. The word him not being in the Hebrew, some versions read, None would raise himself up, or advance; that is, come forward to obey and serve me.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.And My people are bent to backsliding from Me - Literally, "are hung to it!" as we say, "a man's whole being "hangs" on a thing." A thing "hung to" or "on" another, sways to and fro within certain limits, but its relation to that on which it is hung, remains immovable. Its power of motion is restrained within those limits. So Israel, so the sinner, however he veer to and fro in the details and circumstances of his sin, is fixed and immovable in his adherence to his sin itself. Whatever else Israel did, on one thing his whole being, as a nation, depended, on "backsliding" or aversion from God. The political existence of Israel, as a separate kingdom, depended on his worship of the calves, "the sin wherewith" Jeroboam "made Israel to sin." This was the ground of their "refusing to return" Hosea 11:5, that, through habitual sin, they were no longer in their own power: they were fixed in evil.

Though they called them to the most High - Literally, "called him." As one man, the prophets called Israel; as one man, Israel refused to return; "none at all would exalt" Him, literally, "together he exalteth Him not."

7. bent to backsliding—Not only do they backslide, and that too from Me, their "chief good," but they are bent upon it. Though they (the prophets) called them (the Israelites) to the Most High (from their idols), "none would exalt (that is, extol or honor) Him." To exalt God, they must cease to be "bent on backsliding," and must lift themselves upwards. My people; yet God owneth them for his, he had not cast them quite off; or since they call themselves his, he is willing to encourage them by owning all in them that looks toward him.

Are bent to backsliding from me; or continue in suspense, doubtful and unresolved what to do, or rather inclined most to an aversion from me: though the Lord’s prophets have persuaded them earnestly to return by repentance, yet they continue unresolved what is best to be done, whether to adhere to their idol gods, to make sure of Egyptian aids, or-to turn to God, and east off the other; this they most dislike, and continue as it were tacked and fastened to their rebellion, as the French version.

Though they, the prophets, called them to the Most High; invited, exhorted, and encouraged them with many fair promises to give glory to God by returning.

None at all; not one of many, scarce any one in those great numbers in Israel, would hearken and obey. Would exalt him; God in his holiness, justice, goodness, and truth, all which a repenting people do magnify, but these will not. They retain their idols, depend on Egypt, and put all on that cast, and will neither believe nor try God’s goodness. And my people are bent to backsliding from me,.... There is a propensity in thorn to it, through prevailing corruption in them; they are inclined unto it, the bias of their minds is that way; they are bent upon it, and pertinaciously abide in it; nor will they be reclaimed from it, by all the means and methods made use of, even though they had been, and professed themselves to be the people of God. Some understand this, not of their backsliding and aversion from God; but either of his return to them, or of their return to him, rendering the words, "and my people are in suspense" (a); like a man that hangs in the air, as Aben Ezra, neither ascends nor descends; that is, they are in doubt of what should be done to thorn, or they themselves should do: either "about my return" (b); that is, to them; whether after all they may expect that God would be kind and merciful to them, so Abarbinel: or "about return to me" (c); whether they should or not, inclining rather not to return. So the Targum,

"my people divide (or hesitate) to return to my law;''

with which Jarchi agrees, paraphrasing it,

"when the prophets instruct them to return unto me, they are in suspense whether to return or not;''

but Aben Ezra and Kimchi observe the word is always used in a bad sense, of aversion or backsliding, and that the word is in another form when used for repentance or returning;

though they called them to the most High; that is, the prophets of the Lord called them to turn from their idols, and return to the most high God, the true and the living God, from whom they had backslidden, and to his true worship, they had neglected and forsaken:

none at all would exalt him; the most high God, and give him the praise and glory due to his name; but, on the other hand, extolled their idols, and ascribed all their good things to them: or "none would exalt them" (d) the prophets of the Lord that called them; would not give that honour to them that was due to their office, or pay any regard to them, or to their admonitions and advice, but depreciated them, and reproached and persecuted them: or "none at all would lift up": that is, their head, as Aben Ezra, toward the heaven, and to God in it, to whom they were called; but kept looking on the earth, and to earthly things, particularly to their idols; and did not lift up or erect their ears, to hearken to what was said to them, but were deaf to all counsel and reproof. The Targum is,

"they walked not in an erect stature.''

Agreeably to which the former clause may be rendered, as by some, "and they called them to things above"; but none would look upwards; See Gill on Hosea 7:16.

(a) "suspensi haerent", Junius & Tremellius; "suspensi", Montanus, Schmidt. (b) "ad reditum meum", V. L. (c) "Circa redire ad me", Castalio. (d) "eos non exaltabit", Schmidt.

And my people are bent to backsliding from me: though {e} they called them to the most High, none at all would exalt him.

(e) That is, the Prophets.

7. And my people, &c.] This verse gives the ground of the judgment; ‘and’ = ‘for’, ‘in fact.’ The reference to ‘backsliding’ (lit. turning, or turning about) should be taken in connexion with Hosea 14:4.

though they called, &c.] Rather, and if they are called (lit., if they, viz. the prophets, call him) upwards, not one striveth to rise. There is a complete moral apathy. A phraseological point of contact with Hosea 7:16.Verse 7. - And my people are bent to backsliding from me. This first clause of the verse is very expressive, every word almost having an emphasis of its own. With all their sinfulness and shortcomings, Israel was still the people of God - my people; they were guilty of the sin of backsliding, and of backsliding from God, the best of benefactors and their chief good. Nor was it occasionally and after long intervals of time that they backslided; it was their habit, their tendency. They were suspended on, or rather fastened on, backsliding. Though they called them to the Most High, none at all would exalt him; margin, together they exalted him not. This second clause signifies either

(1) that the prophets called Israel from their idols to the Host High, yet none exalted him (literally, "together they did not or would not exalt him") by abandoning their idols and abstaining from backsliding; or,

(2) "though they call him (Israel) upwards, yet not one of them all will lift himself up," that is, they together - one and all - refused or neglected to lift themselves upward towards God or goodness. The word תלוּאיס is equivalent to תְלֻאִים, the same as תלוים, from תלא, equivalent to תָלָה, so that it signifies, according to Keil,

(1) "suspended," "hung up, hanging fast upon," "impaled on; ' Hengstenberg,

(2) "swaying about from inconstancy," and "in danger of falling away;" but Pusey seems to combine both in the original sense of the word, and explains it as follows: "Literally, hung to it! as we say, 'a man's whole being hangs on a thing.' A thing hung to or on another sways to and fro within certain limits, but its relation to that on which it is hung remains immovable, Its power of motion is restrained within these limits. So Israel, so the sinner, however he veer to and fro in the details and circumstances of his sin, is fixed and immovable in his adherence to his sin itself." Though Rashi and the Targum of Jonathan make משובה as synonymous with תשובתּ, thus: "When the prophets teach them to return to me, they are in suspense whether to return or not to return; with difficulty do they return to me," - they are, however, distinguished as turning away from and turning to God - aversion frets anal conversion to him; while the suffix יִ is objective, that is, "My people are hung to apostatizing from me." The phrase אֶל־עַל is variously interpreted, by some as

(1) "upwards," the prophets being the subject; thus Rashi: "To the matter that is above him (Israel) the prophets call him unitedly; but my people do not lift themselves up nor desire to do it." Corruption was so deeply seated in Israel, that the idle mass gave no response to the voice of the prophets urging them upwards.

(2) Aben Ezra and Kimchi both take על as an adjective, and synonymous with אֶלְון, the Most High. Kimchi explains as follows: "He says, My people oscillate between distress and freedom; sometimes distress comes upon them, and again they are in the condition of freedom, and this takes place for their backsliding from me, as if he said, because of the backsliding and rebellion which they practice against me... The prophets call them constantly to return to God most high." So Aben Ezra: "The interpretation is, the callers call him to the Most High, and they are the prophets of God; but they all in one way raise not the head."

(3) Jerome takes it for עֹל, a yoke, and renders accordingly: "But a yoke shall be imposed on them together, that is not taken away." The verb ירְומְם signifies,

(1) according to Gesenius and many others, "to celebrate with praises," or "extol." It is rather

(2) "to lift one's self up," "rise upwards;" nor is it necessary with this sense to supply ירְלֺאשׁו, his head, with Grotius, nor yet to understand it written for or in the sense of ירְומַם, with Joseph Kimchi. Similarly the Syriac: "They call him to God, but they think together, conspire, and do not raise themselves." The word יתד is "all together," and therefore יַחַדלא is "no one." The LXX. translate

(3) the second clause as follows: "But God shall be angry with his precious things, and shall not at all exalt him," having probably read וְאֶל־עַל יְקָרָיו יִהַר "And Jehovah said to him, Call his name Jezreel; for yet a little, and I visit the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu, and put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel." The prophet is directed by God as to the names to be given to his children, because the children, as the fruit of the marriage, as well as the marriage itself, are instructive signs for the idolatrous Israel of the ten tribes. The first son is named Jezreel, after the fruitful plain of Jezreel on the north side of the Kishon (see at Joshua 17:16); not, however, with any reference to the appellative meaning of the name, viz., "God sows," which is first of all alluded to in the announcement of salvation in Hosea 2:24-25, but, as the explanation which follows clearly shows, on account of the historical importance which this plain possessed for Israel, and that not merely as the place where the last penal judgment of God was executed in the kingdom of Israel, as Hengstenberg supposes, but on account of the blood-guiltiness of Jezreel, i.e., because Israel had there contracted such blood-guiltiness as was now speedily to be avenged upon the house of Jehu. At the city of Jezreel, which stood in this plain, Ahab had previously filled up the measure of his sin by the ruthless murder of Naboth, and had thus brought upon himself that blood-guiltiness for which he had been threatened with the extermination of all his house (1 Kings 21:19.). Then, in order to avenge the blood of all His servants the prophets, which Ahab and Jezebel had shed, the Lord directed Elisha to anoint Jehu king, with a commission to destroy the whole of Ahab's house (2 Kings 9:1.). Jehu obeyed this command. Not only did he slay the son of Ahab, viz., king Koram, and cause his body to be thrown upon the portion of land belonging to Naboth the Jezreelite, appealing at the same time to the word of the Lord (2 Kings 9:21-26), but he also executed the divine judgment upon Jezebel, upon the seventy sons of Ahab, and upon all the rest of the house of Ahab (2 Kings 9:30-10:17), and received the following promise from Jehovah in consequence: "Because thou hast done well in executing that which is right in mine eyes, because thou hast done to the house of Ahab according to all that was in mine heart, sons of thine of the fourth generation shall sit upon the throne of Israel" (2 Kings 10:30). It is evident from this that the blood-guiltiness of Jezreel, which was to be avenged upon the house of Jehu, is not to be sought for in the fact that Jehu had there exterminated the house of Ahab; nor, as Hitzig supposes, in the fact that he had not contented himself with slaying Joram and Jezebel, but had also put Ahaziah of Judah and his brethren to death (2 Kings 9:27; 2 Kings 10:14), and directed the massacre described in 2 Kings 10:11. For an act which God praises, and for which He gives a promise to the performer, cannot be in itself an act of blood-guiltiness. And the slaughter of Ahaziah and his brethren by Jehu, though not expressly commanded, is not actually blamed in the historical account, because the royal family of Judah had been drawn into the ungodliness of the house of Ahab, through its connection by marriage with that dynasty; and Ahaziah and his brethren, as the sons of Athaliah, a daughter of Ahab, belonged both in descent and disposition to the house of Ahab (2 Kings 8:18, 2 Kings 8:26-27), so that, according to divine appointment, they were to perish with it. Many expositors, therefore, understand by "the blood of Jezreel," simply the many acts of unrighteousness and cruelty which the descendants of Jehu had committed in Jezreel, or "the grievous sins of all kinds committed in the palace, the city, and the nation generally, which were to be expiated by blood, and demanded as it were the punishment of bloodshed" (Marck). But we have no warrant for generalizing the idea of demē in this way; more especially as the assumption upon which the explanation is founded, viz., that Jezreel was the royal residence of the kings of the house of Jehu, not only cannot be sustained, but is at variance with 2 Kings 15:8, 2 Kings 15:13, where Samaria is unquestionably described as the royal residence in the times of Jeroboam II and his son Zechariah. The blood-guiltinesses (demē) at Jezreel can only be those which Jehu contracted at Jezreel, viz., the deeds of blood recorded in 2 Kings 9 and 10, by which Jehu opened the way for himself to the throne, since there are no others mentioned.

The apparent discrepancy, however, that whereas the extermination of the royal family of Ahab by Jehu is commended by God in the second book of Kings, and Jehu is promised the possession of the throne even to the fourth generation of this sons in consequence, in the passage before us the very same act is charged against him as an act of blood-guiltiness that has to be punished, may be solved very simply by distinguishing between the act in itself, and the motive by which Jehu was instigated. In itself, i.e., regarded as the fulfilment of the divine command, the extermination of the family of Ahab was an act by which Jehu could not render himself criminal. But even things desired or commanded by God may becomes crimes in the case of the performer of them, when he is not simply carrying out the Lord's will as the servant of God, but suffers himself to be actuated by evil and selfish motives, that is to say, when he abuses the divine command, and makes it the mere cloak for the lusts of his own evil heart. That Jehu was actuated by such motives as this, is evident enough from the verdict of the historian in 2 Kings 10:29, 2 Kings 10:31, that Jehu did indeed exterminate Baal out of Israel, but that he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, from the golden calves at Bethel and Dan, to walk in the law of Jehovah the God of Israel with all his heart. "The massacre, therefore," as Calvin has very correctly affirmed, "was a crime so far as Jehu was concerned, but with God it was righteous vengeance." Even if Jehu did not make use of the divine command as a mere pretext for carrying out the plans of his own ambitious heart, the massacre itself became an act of blood-guiltiness that called for vengeance, from the fact that he did not take heed to walk in the law of God with all his heart, but continued the worship of the calves, that fundamental sin of all the kings of the ten tribes. For this reason, the possession of the throne was only promised to him with a restriction to sons of the fourth generation. On the other hand, it is no argument against this, that "the act referred to cannot be regarded as the chief crime of Jehu and his house," or that "the bloody act, to which the house of Jehu owed its elevation, never appears elsewhere as the cause of the catastrophe which befall this houses; but in the case of all the members of his family, the only sin to which prominence is given in the books of Kings, is that they did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam (2 Kings 13:2, 2 Kings 13:11; 2 Kings 14:24; 2 Kings 15:9)" (Hengstenberg). For even though this sin in connection with religion may be the only one mentioned in the books of Kings, according to the plan of the author of those books, and though this may really have been the principal act of sin; it was through that sin that the bloody deeds of Jehu became such a crime as cried to heaven for vengeance, like the sin of Ahab, and such an one also as Hosea could describe as the blood-guiltiness of Jezreel, which the Lord would avenge upon the house of Jehu at Jezreel, since the object in this case was not to enumerate all the sins of Israel, and the fact that the apostasy of the ten tribes, which is condemned in the book of Kings as the sin of Jeroboam, is represented here under the image of whoredom, shows very clearly that the evil root alone is indicated, out of which all the sins sprang that rendered the kingdom ripe for destruction. Consequently, it is not merely the fall of the existing dynasty which is threatened here, but also the suppression of the kingdom of Israel. The "kingdom of the house of Israel" is obviously not the sovereignty of the house of Jehu in Israel, but the regal sovereignty in Israel. And to this the Lord will put an end מעט, i.e., in a short time. The extermination of the house of Jehu occurred not long after the death of Jeroboam, when his son was murdered in connection with Shallum's conspiracy (2 Kings 15:8.). And the strength of the kingdom was also paralyzed when the house of Jehu fell, although fifty years elapsed before its complete destruction. For of the five kings who followed Zechariah, only one, viz., Menahem, died a natural death, and was succeeded by his son. The rest were all dethroned and murdered by conspirators, so that the overthrow of the house of Jehu may very well be called "the beginning of the end, the commencement of the process of decomposition" (Hengstenberg: compare the remarks on 2 Kings 15:10.).

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