Hosea 11:9
I will not execute the fierceness of my anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim: for I am God, and not man; the Holy One in the middle of you: and I will not enter into the city.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(9) This sublime passage is remarkable as drawing illustrations from human emotions, and yet repudiating all human weakness. It suggests a hint of Divine mercy in its greatness, and of Divine justice too, which shows how, both being alike infinite, they can adjust themselves beyond the power of human experience and imagination.

The Holy One in the midst of thee is such a blending of justice and mercy.

I will not enter into the city.—So ancient versions. “Enter”—i.e., as a destroyer. (Comp. Hosea 11:6.) But many commentators interpret the Hebrew b‘îr (“into the city”) to mean in wrath. This is preferable.

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.I will not execute the fierceness of Mine anger - It is the voice of "mercy, rejoicing over judgment." mercy prevails in God over the rigor of His justice, that though He will not suffer them to go utterly unpunished, yet He will abate of it, and not utterly consume them.

I will not return to destroy Ephraim - God saith that He will not, as it were, glean Ephraim, going over it again, as man doth, in order to leave nothing over. As it is in Jeremiah, "They shall thoroughly glean the remnant of Israel, as a vine. Turn back thine hand, as a grapegatherer into the baskets" Jeremiah 6:9; and, "If grapegatherers come to thee, would they not leave some gleaning-grapes? but I have made Esau bare" Jeremiah 49:9-10.

For I am God and not man - o: "not swayed by human passions, but so tempering His wrath, as, in the midst of it, to remember mercy; so punishing the iniquity of the sinful children, as at once to make good His gracious promises which He made to their forefathers." : "Man punishes, to destroy; God smites, to amend."

The Holy One in the midst of thee - The holiness of God is at once a ground why He punishes iniquity, and yet does not punish to the full extent of the sin. Truth and faithfulness are part of the holiness of God. He, the Holy One who was "in the midst" of them, by virtue of His covenant with their fathers, would keep the covenant which He had made, and for their father's sakes would not wholly cut them off. Yet the holiness of God hath another aspect too, in virtue of which the unholy cannot profit by the promises of the All-Holy. "I will not," paraphrases Cyril, "use unmingled wrath. I will not "give" over Ephraim, wicked as he has become, to entire destruction. Why? Do they not deserve it? Yes, He saith, but "I am God and not man," i. e., Good, and not suffering the motions of anger to overcome Me. For that is a human passion. Why then dost Thou yet punish, seeing Thou art God, not overcome with anger, but rather following Thine essential gentleness? I punish, He saith, because I am not only Good, as God, but holy also, hating iniquity, rejecting the polluted, turning away from God-haters, converting the sinner, purifying the impure, that he may again be joined to Me. We, then, if we prize the being with God, must, with all our might, fly from sin, and remember what He said. "Be ye holy, for I am holy."

And I will not enter the city - God, who is everywhere, speaks of Himself, as present to us, when He shows that presence in acts of judgment or of mercy. He visited His people in Egypt, to deliver them; He visited Sodom and Gomorrah as a Judge, making known to us that He took cognizance of their extreme wickedness. God says, that He would "not enter the city," as He did "the cities of the plain," when He overthrew them, because He willed to save them. As a Judge, He acts as though He looked away from their sin, lest, seeing their city to be full of wickedness, He should be compelled to punish it. : "I will not smite indiscriminately, as man doth, who when wroth, bursts into an offending city, and destroys all. In this sense, the Apostle says, "Hath God cast away His people? God forbid! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not east away His people, whom He foreknew. What saith the answer of God to Elias! I have reserved to Myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to Bard. Even so then, at this present time also, there is a remnant according to the election of grace" Romans 11:1-2, Romans 11:4-5. God then was wroth, not with His people, but with unbelief. For He was not angered in such wise, as not to receive the remnant of His people, if they were converted. No Jew is therefore repelled, because the Jewish nation denied Christ; but whoso, whether Jew or Gentile, denieth Christ, he himself, in his own person, repels himself."

9. I will not return to destroy Ephraim—that is, I will no more, as in past times, destroy Ephraim. The destruction primarily meant is probably that by Tiglath-pileser, who, as the Jewish king Ahaz' ally against Pekah of Israel and Rezin of Syria, deprived Israel of Gilead, Galilee, and Naphtali (2Ki 15:29). The ulterior reference is to the long dispersion hereafter, to be ended by God's covenant mercy restoring His people, not for their merits, but of His grace.

God, … not man—not dealing as man would, with implacable wrath under awful provocation (Isa 55:7-9; Mal 3:6). I do not, like man, change when once I have made a covenant of everlasting love, as with Israel (Nu 23:19). We measure God by the human standard, and hence are slow to credit fully His promises; these, however, belong to the faithful remnant, not to the obstinately impenitent.

in the midst of thee—as peculiarly thy God (Ex 19:5, 6).

not enter into the city—as an enemy: as I entered Admah, Zeboim, and Sodom, utterly destroying them, whereas I will not utterly destroy thee. Somewhat similarly Jerome: "I am not one such as human dwellers in a city, who take cruel vengeance; I save those whom I correct." Thus "not man," and "in the midst of thee," are parallel to "into the city." Though I am in the midst of thee, it is not as man entering a rebellious city to destroy utterly. Maurer needlessly translates, "I will not come in wrath."

Here mercy rejoiceth against judgment, and God declareth his purpose to spare, he promiseth that he will not execute according to utmost severity. This promise he confirmeth by doubling it, though in somewhat different words: I will not do as men, who having beat down au enemy, and wounded him, do return again to see whether he breathe, and to make an end of him; or conquerors, that plunder the conquered city, carry away the wealth of it, and after some time return to burn it; God will not do so.

I am God, and not man; his compassions are infinite, his goodness unchangeable; he remembers all his promises to every one, and now seeth who among Israel believe, and hope for his grace and mercy; these he must spare, as he is just Judge of the whole earth, and for their sakes he will spare many others.

The Holy One in the midst of thee; a holy God, and in covenant, though not with all, yet with many among you, and those that are in covenant with God are holy ones too: I will not make them as Admah or Zeboim, for the case is different, in the cities of the plain there were no righteous ones, but here are some, though not many: and so Rivet renders the words, there is a holy one in the midst of thee, where the singular is used for plural, as in that passage,

there is none righteous. I will not enter into the city; I will not come amongst you, as I came into Sodom, &c. Here is comfort for God’s remnant. I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger,.... That is, his wrath and fury to the uttermost; his people are deserving of his wrath as others, being by nature children of wrath as the rest; which they are sensible of under spiritual conviction, and therefore flee from it, where they may be safe: and though the Lord often chastises and afflicts them, yet not in wrath; or however but in a little wrath, as it seems to them; he does not stir up all his wrath, nor any in reality; all being poured upon his Son, their surety, who saves and delivers them from wrath to come;

I will not return to destroy Ephraim; or "again", or "any more, destroy" (f) him; not twice; he might be destroyed when carried captive into Assyria; but the remnant that shall spring from him in the latter day shall not be destroyed, but saved. The Targum is,

"my word shall not return to destroy the house of Israel;''

or I will not return from my love and affections to them, I will never be wroth with them any more; nor from my mercy to them, which is from everlasting to everlasting; or from my covenant, promise, and resolution to save them, they shall not be punished with everlasting destruction:

for I am God, and not man; a God gracious and merciful, longsuffering, slow to anger, and pardoning sin, and not man, cruel, revengeful, implacable, who shows no mercy when it is in the power of his hands to avenge himself; or God that changes not in his purposes and counsels, in his love and affections, and therefore the sons of Jacob are not consumed, and not man that repents, is fickle, inconstant, and mutable; or God that is faithful to his covenant and promises, and not man that lies and deceives, promises and never performs. The Targum is,

"seeing I am God, my word remains for ever, and my works are not as the works of the flesh (or of men) who dwell upon the earth;''

the Holy One in the midst of thee; being in the midst of his people, he protects and defends them, and so they are safe; and being the Holy One there, he sanctifies them, and saves them, in a way consistent with his own holiness and justice: or there is "a Holy One", or Holy Ones, the singular put for the plural, "in the midst of thee" (g); and therefore thou shalt not be destroyed for their sakes, as Sodom would not, had there been ten righteous persons in it, to which some think the allusion is:

and I will not enter into the city; in a hostile way to destroy or plunder it; but this is not to be understood either of Samaria or Jerusalem, which were entered into in this manner. The Targum is,

"I have decreed by my word that my holy Shechinah shall be among you, and I will not change Jerusalem again for another city;''

which sense the Jewish commentators follow; but, as this respects Gospel times, the meaning seems to be, that God would dwell among his people everywhere, and would not be confined to any city or temple as heretofore; but wherever his church and people were, there would be his temple, and there he would dwell.

(f) "non perdam amplius", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "non iterum destruam", Cocceius. (g) "est sanctus", i.e. "sancti, in medio tui", Rivetus.

I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim: for I am God, and not man; the Holy One in the midst of thee: and I will not {i} enter into the city.

(i) To consume you, but will cause you to yield, and so have mercy on you: and this is meant of the final number who will walk after the Lord.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
9. I will not return, &c.] The strict rendering of the words is, ‘I will not again destroy Ephraim’; the sense however, is, I will not bring back Ephraim to nothing. He who moulded Ephraim into a nation will not busy himself with it again to its destruction. Comp. the same Hebrew idiom in Hosea 2:9.

for I am God, and not man] The perfection of the Divine nature does not, to Hosea, exclude the possession of something analogous to human feelings, but one thing it does forbid us to assume, viz. that an emotion of anger should divert Jehovah from the execution of his eternal purpose.

the Holy One in the midst of thee] It is the glory of Israel to have the Holy One specially in her midst. Whatever interferes with His supreme right of property in Israel, He must destroy, but He will not so chastise His chosen people as to extinguish it altogether. All that is left will be holy, as Jehovah is holy—devoted to Jehovah, as Jehovah is devoted to Israel. Of course, though Jehovah’s holiness has a special relation to Israel, this does not exclude a more general relation to the world outside. His manifestation is concentrated, but not confined, within His ‘peculiar people.’

I will not enter into the city] But this is pointless, for why should a visit from Jehovah be deprecated (comp. Exodus 20:24)? Hence many, adopting a different view of one word, render, I will not come in fury. This is, however, not free from objection, and a very slight emendation gives the very appropriate sense, I will not come to exterminate (parallel to ‘to destroy’).Verse 9. - I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim. The promise of this verse is in harmony with the spirit of compassion expressed in the preceding. It is at once the effect and evidence of that feeling of Divine compassion. God would neither execute the burning heat of his wrath, for so the words literally mean, nor destroy Ephraim utterly, or again any more as formerly. The historic event referred to may be the destruction effected by Tiglath-pileser, ally of Ahaz King of Judah against Pekah King of Israel and Rezin King of Syria, when he carried away captive the inhabitants of Gilead, Galilee, and Naphtali, as we read in 2 Kings 15:29, "In the days of Pekah King of Israel came Tiglath-pileser King of Assyria, and took Ijon, and Abel-beth-maachah, and Janoah, and Kedesh, and Hazer, and Gilead, and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali, and carried them captive to Assyria." But while this is probably the primary allusion, there is an ulterior reference to the future restoration of Israel. For I am God, and not man; the Holy One in the midst of thee: and I will not enter into the city (or, come into bumming wrath, Keil). A reason is here assigned for the exercise of the Divine commiseration just expressed; this reason is God's covenant of everlasting love. He is God, and must be measured by a Divine standard - not man, implacable and revengeful; though his people's provocation had been grievous, God was in the midst of them as their God, long-suffering and steadfast to his covenant of love and purposes of mercy. He would not enter

(a) into the city as an enemy, and for the purpose of utter destruction, as he had entered into the cities of the plain for their entire and final ruin; or,

(b) if the alternative rendering be preferred, he would not come into burning wrath. The fiery heat or fierceness of God's wrath tends to destruction, not the amendment of the impenitent. The expression, "I will not return," may also be understood as equivalent to

(1) "I will not turn from my pity and promises;" or, "I will not turn away from Israel;" but

(2) it suits the context better to translate on the principle of two verbs expressing one idea in a modified sense, i.e. "I will not return to destroy," that is, "I will not again destroy Ephraim." Jerome's explanation favors the first, and is, "I will not act according to the fury of my anger, nor change from my clemency to destroy Ephraim; for I do not strike to destroy for ever, but to amend... for I am God and not man. Man punishes for this purpose of destroying; God chastises for the purpose of amending." As God, his purpose of mercy was changeless; as the Holy One in Israel, he was infinitely pure and absolutely perfect, "the Father of lights, with whom can be no variation, neither shadow that is cast by turning." The meaning

(1) already given of coming into the city is supported by ancient versions, Hebrew expositors, and some of the ablest Christian commentators; yet

(2) we prefer that which understands עיּד in the sense of "the heat of wrath," deriving it from עוּד effervescence, which is that given in Keil's translation. There is

(3) an explanation strongly advocated by Bishop Lowth and adopted by Rosenmüller. It is as follows in the words of the bishop: "Jerome is almost singular in his explanation: 'I am not one of those who inhabit cities; who live according to human laws; who think cruelty justice.' Castalio follows Jerome. There is, in fact, in the latter member of the sentence, לאאי בי, a parallelism and synonym to לי אי in the former. The future אי has a frequentative power (see Psalm 22:3 and 8), 'I am not accustomed to enter a city: I am not an inhabitant of a city.' For there is a beautiful opposition of the different parts: 'I am God, and not man.' This is amplified in the next line, and the antithesis a little varied: ' I am thy God, inhabiting with thee, but in a peculiar and extraordinary manner, not in the manner of men.' Nothing, I think, can be plainer or more elegant than this." The bishop's rendering of the whole verse is -

"I will not do according to the fervent of my wrath,
I will not return to destroy Ephraim:
For I am God, and not man;
Holy in the midst of thee, though I inhabit not thy cities."
"And it cometh to pass in that day, that I break in pieces the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel." The indication of time, "in that day," refers not to the overthrow of the house of Jehu, but to the breaking up of the kingdom of Israel, by which it was followed. The bow of Israel, i.e., its might (for the bow, as the principal weapon employed in war, is a synecdochical epithet, used to denote the whole of the military force upon which the continued existence of the kingdom depended (Jeremiah 49:35), and is also a symbol of strength generally; vid., Genesis 49:24; 1 Samuel 2:4), is to be broken to pieces in the valley of Jezreel. The paronomasia between Israel and Jezreel is here unmistakeable. And here again Jezreel is not introduced with any allusion to its appellative signification, i.e., so that the mention of the name itself is intended to indicate the dispersion or breaking up of the nation, but simply with reference to its natural character, as the great plain in which, from time immemorial, even down to the most recent period, all the great battles have been fought for the possession of the land (cf. v. Raumer, Pal. pp. 40, 41). The nation which the Lord had appointed to be the instrument of His judgment is not mentioned here. But the fulfilment shows that the Assyrians are intended, although the brief historical account given in the books of Kings does not notice the place in which the Assyrians gained the decisive victory over Israel; and the statement made by Jerome, to the effect that it was in the valley of Jezreel, is probably simply an inference drawn from this passage.

With the name of the first child, Jezreel, the prophet had, as it were with a single stroke, set before the king and the kingdom generally the destruction that awaited them. In order, however, to give further keenness to this threat, and cut off every hope of deliverance, he now announces two other births. 1 Samuel 2:6. "And she conceived again, and bare a daughter. And He (Jehovah) said to him, Call her name Unfavoured; for I will no more favour the house of Israel, that I should forgive them." The second birth is a female one, not in order to symbolize a more degenerate race, or the greater need of help on the part of the nation, but to get a name answering to the idea, and to set forth, under the figure of sons and daughters, the totality of the nation, both men and women. Lō' ruchâmâh, lit., she is not favoured; for ruchâmâh is hardly a participle with the מ dropped, since לא is never found in close connection with the participle (Ewald, 320, c.), but rather the third pers. perf. fem. in the pausal form. The child receives this name to indicate that the Lord will not continue (אוסיך) to show compassion towards the rebellious nation, as He hitherto has done, even under Jeroboam II((2 Kings 13:23). For the purpose of strengthening לא ארחם, the clause כּי נשׂא וגו is added. This can hardly be understood in any other way than in the sense of נשׂא עון ל, viz., to take away sin or guilt, i.e., to forgive it (cf. Genesis 18:24, Genesis 18:26, etc.). The explanation, "I will take away from them, sc. everything" (Hengstenberg), has no tenable support in Hosea 5:14, because there the object to be supplied is contained in the context, and here this is not the case.

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