Even the LORD God of hosts; the LORD is his memorial.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Lord God of hosts.—See Cheyne’s Isaiah, vol. 1, pp. 11, 12, and Nowack’s commentary on this passage. Probably the hosts were the stars which were conceived of as celestial spirits standing upon or above Jehovah’s throne in Micaiah’s vision, on the right hand and on the left (1Kings 22:19). These are to be identified, in all probability, with the sons of God (Genesis 6:2), described in Job 1:6 as presenting themselves in council before Jehovah. In Psalm 103:21 they are described as God’s ministers; also in Psalm 104:4, quoted in Hebrews 1:7.Exodus 3:13-15.
I am, expresses self-existence; He who alone is. I am that I am, expresses His unchangeableness, the necessary attribute of the Self-existent, who, since He is, ever is all which He is. "To Be," says Augustine , "is a name of unchangeableness. For all things which are changed, cease to be what they were, and begin to be what they were not. True Being, pure Being, genuine Being, no one hath, save He who changeth not. He hath Being to whom it is said, "Thou shalt change them and they shall be changed, but Thou art the Same." What is, I am that I am, but, I am Eternal? What is, I am that I am, save, I cannot be changed? No creature, no heaven, no earth, no angel, "nor Power, nor Throne, nor Dominion, nor Principality." This then being the name of eternity, it is somewhat more, than He vouchsafed to him a name of mercy, "I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob. That," He is in Himself, "this," to us.
If he willed only to be That which he is in Himself, what should we be? Since Moses understood, when it was said to him, I am that I am, He who is hath sent me unto you, he believed that this was much to people, he saw that this was far removed from people. For whose hath understood, as he ought, That which is, and which truly is, and, in whatever degree, hath even transiently, as by a lightning flash, been irradiated by the light of the One True Essence, sees himself far below, in the utmost farness of removal and unlikeness." This, the Self-existent, the Unchangeable, was the meaning of God's ancient Name, by which He was known to the patriarchs, although they had not in act seen His unchangeableness, for theirs was a life of faith, hoping for what they saw not. The word, He is, when used of Him by His creatures, expresses the same which He says of Himself, I AM. This He willed to be "His memorial forever." This the way in which He willed that we should believe in Him and think of Him as He who is, the Self-existing, the Self-Same.
The way of pronouncing that Name is lost . The belief has continued, wherever the Lord is named. For by the Lord we mean the Unchangeable God. That belief is contradicted, whenever people use the name "Jehovah," to speak of God, as though the belief in Him under the Old Testament differed from that of the New Testament. Perhaps God allowed it to be lost, that people might not make so familiar with it, as they do with the word "Jehovah," or use it irreverently and in an anti-Christian manner, as some now employ other ways of pronouncing it. The Jews, even before the time of our Lord, ordinarily ceased to pronounce it. In the translations of the Old Testament, and in the Apocrypha, the words, "the Lord," were substituted for it. Jewish tradition states, that in later times the Name was pronounced in the temple only, by the priests, on pronouncing the blessing commanded by God in the law . On the great Day of Atonement, it was said that the high priest pronounced it ten times , and that when the people heard it, they fell on their faces, saying, "Blessed be the glorious name of His kingdom forever and ever" . They say, however, that in the time of Simeon the Just (i. e., ), Jaddua, who died about 322 b.c., the high priests themselves disused it, for fear of its being pronounced by some irreverent person .
Our Lord Himself sanctioned I the disuse of it, (as did the inspired Apostles yet more frequently,) since, in quoting places of the Old Testament in which it occurs, He uses instead of it the Name, "the Lord" . It stands, throughout the Old Testament, as the Name which speaks of God in relation to His people, that He ever is; and, since He ever is, then He is unchangeably to us, all which He ever was, "The Same, yesterday and today and forever" Hebrews 13:8.
He then who appeared to Jacob, and who, in Jacob, spake to all the posterity of Jacob, was God; whether it was (as almost all the early fathers thought ), God the Son, who thus appeared in human form to the patriarchs, Moses, Joshua, and in the time of the Judges, under the name of "the Angel of the Lord," or whether it was the Father. God Almighty thus accustomed man to see the form of Man, and to know and believe that it was God. He it was, the prophet explains, "the Lord," i. e., the Self existent, the Unchangeable, "Who was, and is and is to come" Revelation 1:4, Revelation 1:8, who alone is, and from whom are all things , "the Fullness of Being, both of His own, and of all His creatures, the boundless Ocean of all which is, of wisdom, of glory, of love, of all good."
The Lord of Hosts - that is, of all things visible and invisible, of the angels and heavenly spirits, and of all things animate and inanimate, which, in the history of the Creation, are called "the host of heaven and earth" Genesis 2:1, the one host of God. This was the way in which He willed to be had in mind, thought of, remembered. On the one hand then, as relates to Ephraim's sin, not by the calves, nor by any other created thing, did He will to be represented to people's minds or thoughts. On the other hand, as relates to God's mercies, since He, who revealed Himself to Jacob, was the unchangeable God, Israel had no cause to fear, if he returned to the faith of Jacob, whom God there accepted. Whence it follows;
of hosts—which Israel foolishly worshipped. Jehovah has all the hosts (saba) or powers of heaven and earth at His command, so that He is as all-powerful, as He is faithful, to fulfil His promises (Ps 135:6; Am 5:27).
memorial—the name expressive of the character in which God was ever to be remembered (Ps 135:13).Even, or and, he that appeared and spake, who promised the blessing, and commanded the reformation at Beth-el, was
the Lord, Jehovah, the eternal and unchangeable God, who still promiseth with like commands.
God of hosts; who can both perform his promise and execute his threat, who is a most terrible enemy and most desirable friend, all being to us as he is.
The Lord, Jehovah, repeated for confirmation, is his memorial; by this he will be known, by this name, by such methods of his sovereignty and grace, Exodus 3:15.
the Lord is his memorial: or his name, Jehovah, which belongs to this angel, the Son of God, as to his divine Father; and which is expressive of his divine existence, of his eternity and immutability; this is his memorial, or the remembrancer of him; which puts his people in all ages in remembrance of him, what he is, what an infinite, almighty, and all sufficient Being he is; and he is always to be believed in, and trusted to, and to be served, adored, and worshipped. The Targum adds, to every generation and generation.Even the LORD God of hosts; the LORD is his memorial.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)5. Even the Lord God of hosts, &c.] The Hebrew runs more abruptly, ‘And Jehovah’ &c., i.e. ‘and the name of Him who spoke with Jacob is Jehovah.’ ‘Jehovah’ to the prophets conveys the ideas of almightiness, unchangeableness, and faithfulness (comp. Isaiah 41:4; Malachi 3:6). ‘God of Hosts’ is a title specially characteristic of the regal period; the hosts were (1) the stars, (2) the armies of Israel (see the commentators on Isaiah 1:24).
his memorial] i.e. his name; comp. Exodus 3:15 ‘This is my memorial unto all generations.’Verse 5. - Even the Lord God of hosts; the Lord is his memorial. Here we have at once a confirmation and a pledge of previous promises. Jacob had wronged Esau, and thereby incurred his displeasure; he had offended God by the injury inflicted on his brother. He is consequently in a position of peril with respect to both God and man; he repented of his sin, and with many and bitter tears supplicated safety - salvation in the highest sense. Jacob, or Israel, in Hosea's time were involved in greater guilt and exposed to greater danger; the same unfailing remedy is recommended to them, and the same way of safety is laid open before them; let them only repent, turn to the Lord, and with tears of genuine sorrow seek his face and favor free; and the prospect would soon brighten before them. The Name of God was a sufficient guarantee: he is Jehovah the Everlasting, and therefore Unchanging One - the same to Jacob's posterity as he had been to the patriarch himself, equally ready to accept their repentance and equally willing to bless them with safety and salvation. He is God of hosts, and thus the Almighty One, governing all creatures, guiding all events, commanding all powers both heavenly and earthly, and ruling the whole history of humanity. His name is a remembrancer of all this, and thus his people were assured that he neither lacks the will nor the power to bless them with all needful blessings, and do them greatest good. The name of an individual is that whereby he is known; on mention of his name the memory of him is recalled. The mention of the Divine Name not only reminds us of his being and Godhead, but recalls to our memory his attributes. Rashi has the following brief comment on this verse: "As I have been from the beginning, so am I now; and if ye had walked with me in uprightness as Jacob our father, I would have dealt with you as dealt with him." Thus to Abram in a land of strangers, imperiled and defenseless, God revealed himself as God Almighty; to Moses, after centuries of unfulfilled promise, he made himself known as the Unchanging One, still challenging the confidence of his people; to Hosea he brings to mind his unchanging counsel in regard to all the events of time and his unlimited control over all the realms of space and their inhabitants, and so the suitability of his attributes to the multiplied necessities and varying circumstances of his people. Hosea 1:2-2:1, partly by a symbolical act, and partly also in a direct address, is carried out still further in the section before us. The close connection between the contents of the two sections is formally indicated by the simple fact, that just as the first section closed with a summons to appropriate the predicted salvation, so the section before us commences with a call to conversion. As Rckert aptly says, "The significant pair give place to the thing signified; Israel itself appears as the adulterous woman." The Lord Himself will set bounds to her adulterous conduct, i.e., to the idolatry of the Israelites. By withdrawing the blessings which they have hitherto enjoyed, and which they fancy that they have received from their idols, He will lead the idolatrous nation to reflection and conversion, and pour the fulness of the blessings of His grace in the most copious measure upon those who have been humbled and improved by the punishment. The threatening and the announcement of punishment extend from Hosea 2:2 to Hosea 2:13; the proclamation of salvation commences with Hosea 2:14, and reaches to the close of Hosea 2:23. The threatening of punishment is divided into two strophes, viz., Hosea 2:2-7 and Hosea 2:8-13. In the first, the condemnation of their sinful conduct is the most prominent; in the second, the punishment is more fully developed.
"Reason with your mother, reason! for she is not my wife, and I am not her husband: that she put away her whoredom from her countenance, and her adultery from between her breasts." Jehovah is the speaker, and the command to get rid of the whoredom is addressed to the Israelites, who are represented as the children of the adulterous wife. The distinction between mother and children forms part of the figurative drapery of the thought; for, in fact, the mother had no existence apart from the children. The nation or kingdom, regarded as an ideal unity, is called the mother; whereas the several members of the nation are the children of this mother. The summons addressed to the children to contend or reason with this mother, that she may give up her adultery, presupposes that, although the nation regarded as a whole was sunken in idolatry, the individual members of it were not all equally slaves to it, so as to have lost their susceptibility for the divine warning, or the possibility of conversion. Not only had the Lord reserved to Himself seven thousand in Elijah's time who had not bowed their knees to Baal, but at all times there were many individuals in the midst of the corrupt mass, who hearkened to the voice of the Lord and abhorred idolatry. The children had reason to plead, because the mother was no longer the wife of Jehovah, and Jehovah was no longer her husband, i.e., because she had dissolved her marriage with the Lord; and the inward, moral dissolution of the covenant of grace would be inevitably followed by the outward, actual dissolution, viz., by the rejection of the nation. It was therefore the duty of the better-minded of the nation to ward off the coming destruction, and do all they could to bring the adulterous wife to desist from her sins. The object of the pleading is introduced with ותסר. The idolatry is described as whoredom and adultery. Whoredom becomes adultery when it is a wife who commits whoredom. Israel had entered into the covenant with Jehovah its God; and therefore its idolatry became a breach of the fidelity which it owed to its God, an act of apostasy from God, which was more culpable than the idolatry of the heathen. The whoredom is attributed to the face, the adultery to the breasts, because it is in these parts of the body that the want of chastity on the part of a woman is openly manifested, and in order to depict more plainly the boldness and shamelessness with which Israel practised idolatry.
The summons to repent is enforced by a reference to the punishment. Hosea 2:3. "Lest I strip her naked, and put her as in the day of her birth, and set her like the desert, and make her like a barren land, and let her die with thirst." In the first hemistich the threat of punishment corresponds to the figurative representation of the adulteress; in the second it proceeds from the figure to the fact. In the marriage referred to, the husband had redeemed the wife out of the deepest misery, to unite himself with her. Compare Ezekiel 16:4., where the nation is represented as a naked child covered with filth, which the Lord took to Himself, covering its nakedness with beautiful clothes and costly ornaments, and entering into covenant with it. These gifts, with which the Lord also presented and adorned His wife during the marriage, He would now take away from the apostate wife, and put her once more into a state of nakedness. The day of the wife's birth is the time of Israel's oppression and bondage in Egypt, when it was given up in helplessness to its oppressors. The deliverance out of this bondage was the time of the divine courtship; and the conclusion of the covenant with the nation that had been brought out of Egypt, the time of the marriage. The words, "I set (make) her like the desert," are to be understood as referring not to the land of Israel, which was to be laid waste, but to the nation itself, which was to become like the desert, i.e., to be brought into a state in which it would be destitute of the food that is indispensable to the maintenance of life. The dry land is a land without water, in which men perish from thirst. There is hardly any need to say that these words to not refer to the sojourn of Israel in the Arabian desert; for there the Lord fed His people with manna from heaven, and gave them water to drink out of the rock.
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