Hosea 12:2
The LORD hath also a controversy with Judah, and will punish Jacob according to his ways; according to his doings will he recompense him.
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(2) Jacob refers to the northern kingdom.

12:1-6 Ephraim feeds himself with vain hopes of help from man, when he is at enmity with God. The Jews vainly thought to secure the Egyptians by a present of the produce of their country. Judah is contended with also. God sees the sin of his own people, and will reckon with them for it. They are put in mind of what Jacob did, and what God did for him. When his faith upon the Divine promise prevailed above his fears, then by his strength he had power with God. He is Jehovah, the same that was, and is, and is to come. What was a revelation of God to one, is his memorial to many, to all generations. Then let those who have gone from God, be turned to him. Turn thou to the Lord, by repentance and faith, as thy God. Let those that are converted to him, walk with him in all holy conversation and godliness. Let us wrestle with Him for promised blessings, determined not to give over till we prevail; and let us seek Him in his ordinances.The Lord hath also a controversy with Judah, and will punish Jacob - The guilt of Judah was not open apostasy, nor had he filled up the measure of his sins. Of him, then, God saith only, that He "had a controversy with" him, as our Lord says to the "Angel of the Church of Pergamos, I have a few things against thee. Repent, or else I will come unto thee quickly, and fight against thee with the sword of My mouth" Revelation 2:12, Revelation 2:16. Of Ephraim, whose sin was complete, He says, that the Lord "is to punish." God had set His mind, as we say, on punishing him; He had (so to speak) set Himself to do it. Jacob, like Israel, is here the name for the chief part of Israel, i. e., the ten tribes. Our Lord uses the same gradation in speaking of different degrees of evil-speaking; "Whosoever of you is angry without a cause, shall be in danger of the judgment; and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council; but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell-fire" Matthew 5:22. : "The justice of God falls more severely on those who degenerate from a holy parent, than on those who have no incitement to good from the piety of their home." To amplify this , "The prophet explains what good things Jacob received, to show both the mercy of God to Jacob, and the hardness of Ephraim toward God. While Jacob was yet in his mother's womb, he took his brother by the heel, not by any strength of his own, but by the mercy of God, who knows and loves those whom he hath predestinated." 2. controversy with Judah—(Ho 4:1; Mic 6:2). Judah, under Ahaz, had fallen into idolatry (2Ki 16:3, &c.).

Jacob—that is, the ten tribes. If Judah, the favored portion of the nation, shall not be spared, much less degenerate Israel.

The Lord hath also a controversy with Judah; though Judah, compared with Ephraim, be faithful, yet when considered in his ways and doings he is found faulty in many things, and God hath just matter of complaint against Judah in point of manners; in public worship Judah was faithful, kept to God and the temple, though not without some defects, but in their lives there were many more and greater faults, about which God will contend that Judah may be reformed.

Judah; the two tribes.

Will punish; or visit with chastising to amend, else to destroy: there is hope of Judah that he will be reclaimed, therefore I will try by gentler visitations, by fatherly corrections, yet I will not leave him as hopeless, nor as faultless.

Jacob; not the patriarch, but those who are of him; his children, but that have degenerated from his ways of love, fear, trust, and obedience. Both Ephraim and Judah are of Jacob, but both have corrupted themselves, and therefore will I proceed against both; and if Judah, the less faulty, escape not, Ephraim can have no hope to escape; if Judah be whipped with rods because a disobedient son, Ephraim may fear a sword because he hath been and still is an obstinate rebel.

According to his ways; neither can justly complain then, since their different ways are made the standard of the different proceedings of God against them, he will not lay upon either more than is equal; who suffers most hath deserved more, and who suffers least needed so much to amend him.

According to his doings will he recompense him: this is an elegant and very usual ingemination of the same thing, which doth assure it will be done, and should affect us the more.

The Lord hath also a controversy with Judah,.... The two tribes of Judah and Benjamin, as well as the ten tribes; for though they had ruled with God, and had been faithful with the saints in the first times of the apostasy of Israel; yet afterwards they sadly degenerated, and fell into idolatry likewise, particularly in the time of Ahaz, in which Hosea prophesied; and therefore the Lord had somewhat against them; nor would he spare them, but reprove them by the prophets, and rebuke them in his providences; bring them to his bar, and lay before them their evils, and threaten them with punishment in case of impenitence, as follows:

and will punish Jacob according to his ways; all the posterity of Jacob, whether Ephraim or Judah; those of the ten tribes, or of the two, who all descended from Jacob: or, "will visit according to his ways" (s); if right, and agreeably to the mind and word of God, in a way of grace and mercy; but if wrong, crooked, and perverse, then in a way of punishment; for visiting is used both ways:

according to his doings will he recompense him; as they were good or bad; if good, will reward them with a reward of grace; if bad, with vengeance. The Targum paraphrases it,

"according to his right works.''

(s) "ad visitandum juxta vias ejus", Pagninus, Montanus; "visitabit secundum vias ejus", Piscator.

The LORD hath also a controversy with {c} Judah, and will punish Jacob according to his ways; according to his doings will he recompense him.

(c) Which in those points was similar to Ephraim, but not in idolatry.

2. Jacob] Here used for the northern kingdom, to prepare the way for the etymological allusion in Hosea 12:3.

Verse 2. - The Lord hath also a controversy with Judah; and will punish (margin, visit upon) Jacob according to his ways. God here presents himself at once as plaintiff and judge, widening the range of his pleadings. The controversy with Israel takes a wider sweep, and comprehends Judah culpable, though apparently in a less degree. But though Judah comes in for a share of punishment, that punishment shall be proportionate to their delinquencies - those like Judah that sinned less shall suffer less; while the more heinous transgressors, such as Israel had proved to be, would come in for severer punishment. To Jacob, here embracing the ten tribes of Israel and the two of Judah, the chastisement would be meted out in exact accordance with his ways. The apparent contradiction between ver. 12 of last chapter, where, as most translate it, Judah is represented as ruling with God and being faithful with the saints, and the present inclusion of Judah in controversy with Jehovah, occasioned

(1) a rendering and explanation of this verse which Aben Ezra declares to be both ungrammatical and unscriptural. "He" says Aben Ezra." who explains that Judah is faithful and he shall be reproving, and asserts that Scripture makes no mention of Jehovah having a controversy against Judah, but [employs] עם the sense being that Jehovah and Judah have a strife against Ephraim, errs from the way of Scripture and grammar, for the prophet has written above (ver. 13), 'Judah saw his wound;' 'I will make Ephraim to ride; Judah shall plough;' and in reference to both of them he says,' Ye shall eat the fruit of lies.' He also forgets 'The herdmen of Gerar did strive with (עם) Isaac's herdmen;' 'And the people strove with Moses;' and many other places [i.e. where עם is found with the sense of 'contending']. Therefore he joins Ephraim with Judah, and says, 'The Lord hath also a controversy with Judah, and will punish Jacob according to his ways, because this name (i.e. Jacob) comprehends them both (Ephraim and Judah)."

(2) The meaning is given concisely and correctly by Rashi thus: "He (Jehovah) announces to them the words of his controversy which their brethren of the house of Israel had caused him; and they should not wonder if he would punish (literally, 'visit on') Jacob according to his ways." The change in the case of Judah, Kimchi accounts for by reference to their subsequent apostasy, especially that of their kings, as follows: "Although he said, 'And Judah yet reigneth with God,' he meant, although be holds fast by the service of God in the house of the sanctuary; so afterwards they practiced evil deeds as their kings were evil; therefore he said,' Jehovah has a controversy and correction with Judah and Jacob to visit upon them according to their doings, as their kings were evil, for they did not remember my mercy with them and with their father Jacob, because the whole was for sake of his posterity; and I showed him a sign which should be to his seed after him, if they gave their heart to me.... And the sign which I showed them is only done for sake of his seed. But they have not acknowledged this, for if they had acknowledged this, they would have cleaved to me and my service, and I would have ratified to them the blessing of Jacob their father.'" The infinitive with le is not infrequently employed in the sense of our future, thus, לפקד, it is to be visited, equivalent to "he shall or must visit upon it' This idiom is common in Syriac, but always with atid. According to his doings will he recompense him. The milder expression is applied to Judah - he has a controversy with him, but will punish Jacob, restricted by some to Ephraim or the ten tribes. Better understand Jacob of both Judah and Israel, who are both to be recompensed, each according to his works. Hosea 12:2(Heb. Bib. Hosea 12:1). "Ephraim has surrounded me with lying, and the house of Israel with deceit: and Judah is moreover unbridled against God, and against the faithful Holy One. Hosea 12:1 (Heb. Bib. 2). Ephraim grazeth wind, and hunteth after the east: all the day it multiplies lying and desolation, and they make a covenant with Asshur, and oil is carried to Egypt. Hosea 12:2. And Jehovah has a controversy with Judah, and to perform a visitation upon Jacob, according to his ways: according to his works will He repay him." In the name of Jehovah, the prophet raises a charge against Israel once more. Lying and deceit are the terms which he applies, not so much to the idolatry which they preferred to the worship of Jehovah (ψευδῆ καὶ λατρείαν, Theod.), as to the hypocrisy with which Israel, in spite of its idolatry, claimed to be still the people of Jehovah, pretended to worship Jehovah under the image of a calf, and turned right into wrong.

(Note: Calvin explains סבבני correctly thus: "that He (i.e., God) had experienced the manifold faithlessness of the Israelites in all kinds of ways." He interprets the whole sentence as follows: "The Israelites had acted unfaithfully towards God, and resorted to deceits, and that not in one way only, or of only one kind; but just as a man might surround his enemy with a great army, so had they gathered together innumerable frauds, with which they attacked God on every side.")

Bēth Yisrâ'ēl (the house of Israel) is the nation of the ten tribes, and is synonymous with Ephraim. The statement concerning Judah has been interpreted in different ways, because the meaning of רד is open to dispute. Luther's rendering, "but Judah still holds fast to its God," is based upon the rabbinical interpretation of רוּד, in the sense of רדה, to rule, which is decidedly false. According to the Arabic râd, the meaning of rūd is to ramble about (used of cattle that have broken loose, or have not yet been fastened up, as in Jeremiah 2:31); hiphil, to cause to ramble about (Genesis 27:40; Psalm 55:3). Construed as it is here with עם, it means to ramble about in relation to God, i.e., to be unbridled or unruly towards God. עם, as in many other cases where reciprocal actions are referred to, standing towards or with a person: see Ewald, 217, h. קדושׁים נאמן, the faithful, holy God. Qedōshı̄m is used of God, as in Proverbs 9:10 (cf. Joshua 24:19), as an intensive pluralis majestatis, construed with a singular adjective (cf. Isaiah 19:4; 2 Kings 19:4). נאמן, firm, faithful, trustworthy; the opposite of râd. Judah is unbridled towards the powerful God ('El), towards the Holy One, who, as the Faithful One, also proves Himself to be holy in relation to His people, both by the sanctification of those who embrace His salvation, and also by the judgment and destruction of those who obstinately resist the leadings of His grace. In Proverbs 9:1 the lying and deceit of Israel are more fully described. רעה רוּח is not to entertain one's self on wind, i.e., to take delight in vain things; but רעה means to eat or graze spiritually; and rūăch, the wind, is equivalent to emptiness. The meaning therefore is, to strive eagerly after what is empty or vain; synonymous with râdaph, to pursue. קדים, the east wind, in Palestine a fierce tempestuous wind, which comes with burning heat from the desert of Arabia, and is very destructive to seeds and plants (compare Job 27:21, and Wetzstein's Appendix to Delitzsch's Commentary on Job). It is used, therefore, as a figurative representation, not of vain hopes and ideals, that cannot possibly be reached, but of that destruction which Israel is bringing upon itself. "All the day," i.e., continually, it multiplies lying and violence, through the sins enumerated in Hosea 4:2, by which the kingdom is being internally broken up. Added to this, there is the seeking for alliances with the powers of the world, viz., Assyria and Egypt, by which it hopes to secure their help (Hosea 5:13), but only brings about its own destruction. Oil is taken to Egypt from the land abounding in olives (Deuteronomy 8:8), not as tribute, but as a present, for the purpose of securing an ally in Egypt. This actually took place during the reign of Hoshea, who endeavoured to liberate himself from the oppression of Assyria by means of a treaty with Egypt (2 Kings 17:4).

(Note: Manger has given the meaning correctly thus: "He is looking back to the ambassadors sent by king Hoshea with splendid presents to the king of Egypt, to bring him over to his side, and induce him to send him assistance against the king of Assyria, although he had bound himself by a sacred treaty to submit to the sovereignty of the latter." Compare also Hengstenberg's Christology, vol. i. p. 164 transl., where he refutes the current opinion, that the words refer to two different parties in the nation, viz., an Assyrian and an Egyptian party, and correctly describes the circumstances thus: "The people being severely oppressed by Asshur, sometimes apply to Egypt for help against Asshur, and at other times endeavour to awaken friendly feelings in the latter.")

The Lord will repay both kingdoms for such conduct as this. But just as the attitude of Judah towards God is described more mildly than the guilt of Israel in Hosea 11:12, so the punishment of the two is differently described in Hosea 12:2. Jehovah has a trial with Judah, i.e., He has to reprove and punish its sins and transgressions (Hosea 4:1). Upon Jacob, or Israel of the ten tribes (as in Hosea 10:11), He has to perform a visitation, i.e., to punish it according to its ways and its deeds (cf. Hosea 4:9). לפקד, it is to be visited, i.e., He must visit.

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