Hosea 13:12
The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up; his sin is hid.
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(12) Bound up . . . Hid.—The binding up and hiding away of Ephraim’s sin as in a secret place, for ultimate disclosure, prepares us for the terrible words that follow.

Hosea 13:12-13. The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up — This verse may be better rendered, The iniquity of Ephraim is treasured up, his sin is laid up — That is, laid up in my memory, as that which ought to be punished at a proper time. The sentence is manifestly equivalent to that expression in Job 14:17, My transgression is sealed up in a bag; that is, thou keepest an exact account of it, as men do of money which they seal up in a bag, to be forthcoming on a proper occasion. To the same purpose are those words, Deuteronomy 32:34, Is not this laid up in store for me, and sealed among my treasures? To me belongs vengeance, &c. The sorrows of a travailing woman — Grievous sorrows, or pains, shall come upon him — Great calamities are often compared to the pains of child- bearing. He is an unwise son: for he should not — Or rather, else he would not, stay long, &c. — As a child, if it could be supposed to have understanding, would deliver itself out of the womb, and not tarry there to the manifest danger of itself and the mother; so if Ephraim or Israel had acted wisely, they would have prevented their approaching destruction by a speedy reformation. Horsley’s version is, He is of the thoughtless race, for it is the critical moment, when he ought not to stand still; the children are in the aperture: Hebrew, in the breach. “They are actually passing through the opening of the parts distended by the throes of labour. It is the very moment when the pains must terminate in the delivery or the death of the woman. A proverbial expression, for a crisis of extreme danger and doubtful catastrophe: see Isaiah 37:3. At such a moment as this, thoughtless Ephraim is supine and unconcerned.”13:9-16 Israel had destroyed himself by his rebellion; but he could not save himself, his help was from the Lord only. This may well be applied to the case of spiritual redemption, from that lost state into which all have fallen by wilful sins. God often gives in displeasure what we sinfully desire. It is the happiness of the saints, that, whether God gives or takes away, all is in love. But it is the misery of the wicked, that, whether God gives or takes away, it is all in wrath, nothing is comfortable. Except sinners repent and believe the gospel, anguish will soon come upon them. The prophecy of the ruin of Israel as a nation, also showed there would be a merciful and powerful interposition of God, to save a remnant of them. Yet this was but a shadow of the ransom of the true Israel, by the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. He will destroy death and the grave. The Lord would not repent of his purpose and promise. Yet, in the mean time, Israel would be desolated for her sins. Without fruitfulness in good works, springing from the Holy Spirit, all other fruitfulness will be found as empty as the uncertain riches of the world. The wrath of God will wither its branches, its sprigs shall be dried up, it shall come to nothing. Woes, more terrible than any from the most cruel warfare, shall fall on those who rebel against God. From such miseries, and from sin, the cause of them, may the Lord deliver us.The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up - (As in a bag or purse, and so, "treasured up"), as Job saith, using the same word, "My transgression is sealed up in a bag, and Thou sewest up mine iniquity." Job 14:17. "His sin" is "hid" i. e., as people lay up hidden treasure, to be brought out in its season. What Job feared for himself; was to be the portion of Ephraim. All his sins should be counted, laid by, heaped up. No one of them should escape His eye who sees all things as they pass, and with whom, when past, they are present still. One by one, sins enter into the treasure-house of wrath; silently they are stored up, until the measure is full; to be brought out and unfolded in the Great Day. Ephraim thought, as do all sinners, that because God does not punish at once, He never will. They think, either that God will bear with them always, because He bears with them so long; or that He does not see, does not regard it, is not so precise about His laws being broken. "Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil" Ecclesiastes 8:11.

But God had forewarned them; "Is not this laid up in store with Me, and sealed up among My treasures? To Me belongeth vengeance and recompense; their foot shall slide in due time" Deuteronomy 32:34, Deuteronomy 32:5; and, "These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; and thou thoughtest wickedly that I was altogether such an one as thyself; I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes" Psalm 50:21. Unrepented sin is an evergrowing store of the wrath of God, hid out of sight in the depths of the divine judgments, but of which nothing will be lost, nothing missing. Man treasures it up, lays it up in store for himself, as the Apostle saith; "Despisest thou the riches of His goodness and forbearance and long-suffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance; but after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to every man according to his deeds?" Romans 2:4-6. : "'Sin is hidden,' when it is laid open by no voice of confession; yea, when it is covered with a shield of proud self-defense. Then iniquity is bound up, so that it cannot be loosed or forgiven. Contrariwise a holy man saith, "I acknowledged my sin unto Thee, and my iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and Thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin" Psalm 32:5.

But these hide their sin in the sight of people, and since they cannot hide it in the sight of God, they defend it with impenitent hearts, but "the pangs of a travailing woman," he saith, "shall come upon him." For as a woman can conceal her conception for a time, but, at last, the travail-pangs betraying her, she discloses what was concealed, so these can dissemble and conceal for a time their sin, but in their time all the hidden things of their hearts shall, with anguish, be revealed, according to that, 'There is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed, and hid, that shall not be known.' Matthew 10:26."

12. bound up … hid—Treasures, meant to be kept, are bound up and hidden; that is, do not flatter yourselves, because of the delay, that I have forgotten your sin. Nay (Ho 9:9), Ephraim's iniquity is kept as it were safely sealed up, until the due time comes for bringing it forth for punishment (De 32:34; Job 14:17; 21:19; compare Ro 2:5). Opposed to "blotting out the handwriting against" the sinner (Col 2:14). The iniquity, in the singular, instead of the plural, all the iniquities and sins,

of Ephraim, the kingdom of the ten tribes,

is bound up; as indictments drawn up and tied together against the day of trial; or as bills and bonds tied up that they may be ready against the day of account, when all must be paid. Or, as sins unpardoned; for to loose sins is to forgive, and to bind sins is to charge them upon the sinner, Matthew 16:19. O Ephraim, thine unpardoned sins lie in account against thee, thou shalt hear of them and smart for them.

His sin is hid; not from God, but laid up with God against the day of recompence, as Job 21:19: so Romans 2:5 Deu 32:34. The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up; his sin is hid. Which Kimchi restrains to the sin of the calves, and worshipping them; and others to the request of a king, the context speaks of: but it seems best to understand it in a more general sense of these, with all other sins, which were bound up, and not loosed, or were not remitted and forgiven, they being impenitent, and persisting in their sins; and which were bound up as in a bag or purse, in order to be opened and brought forth in proper time in open court, and be took cognizance of in a judiciary way; with which agrees an expression in Job 14:17; or which were laid up among the treasures of divine omniscience, in the mind of God, and not forgotten by him, as they might be thought to be, and would in due time be brought to light, and vengeance took on them. So the Targum,

"the sins of the house of Ephraim are treasured up; they are reserved to punish all their offences;''

see Deuteronomy 32:34.

The iniquity of Ephraim is {h} bound up; his sin is hid.

(h) It is surely laid up to be punished, as in Jer 17:1.

12. But this instability of government is not Israel’s full punishment.

bound up] Tied up as in a bag (comp. Job 14:17).

hid] Rather, laid by in store (as Job 21:19).Verse 12. - The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up; his sin is hid. This verse is in tended to remove all doubt about the punishment of sin, whatever interval may have elapsed. The day of reckoning would certainly come, for the sin of Ephraim was neither forgotten nor blotted out. As a miser puts his money in a bag and seals it to prevent it being lost, so the Almighty had, as it were, hoarded Ephraim's sin, putting it in a bag and tying it. A parallel expression occurs in Job 14:17," My transgression is sealed up in a bag, and thou sewest up mine iniquity." Usually when men put money into a bag, purse, or treasure-house, they count it; so the sins of Ephraim were reckoned, laid up in the treasury of wrath, till the amount should be full and the day of reckoning arrive. The sinner himself is represented as treasuring up unto himself wrath against the day of wrath. Aben Ezra only remarks on the place where it is treasured: "It is bound up in my heart; I shall not forget it as they have forgotten me, as is written above" (ver. 6, "They have forgotten me"). "And Jehovah said to me, Go again, and love a woman beloved of her companion, and committing adultery, as Jehovah loveth the children of Israel, and they turn to other gods, and love raisin-cakes." The purely symbolical character of this divine command is evident from the nature of the command itself, but more especially from the peculiar epithet applied to the wife. עוד is not to be connected with ויּאמר, in opposition to the accents, but belongs to לך, and is placed first for the sake of emphasis. Loving the woman, as the carrying out of the divine command in Hosea 3:2 clearly shows, is in fact equivalent to taking a wife; and 'âhabh is chosen instead of lâqach, simply for the purpose of indicating at the very outset the nature of the union enjoined upon the prophet. The woman is characterized as beloved of her companion (friend), and committing adultery. רע denotes a friend or companion, with whom one cherishes intercourse and fellowship, never a fellow-creature generally, but simply the fellow-creature with whom one lives in the closest intimacy (Exodus 20:17-18; Exodus 22:25, etc.). The רע (companion) of a woman, who loves her, can only be her husband or paramour. The word is undoubtedly used in Jeremiah 3:1, Jeremiah 3:20, and Sol 5:16, with reference to a husband, but never of a fornicator or adulterous paramour. And the second epithet employed here, viz., "committing adultery," which forms an unmistakeable antithesis to אהבת רע, requires that it should be understood in this instance as signifying a husband; for a woman only becomes an adulteress when she is unfaithful to her loving husband, and goes with other men, but not when she gives up her beloved paramour to live with her husband only. If the epithets referred to the love shown by a paramour, by which the woman had annulled the marriage, this would necessarily have been expressed by the perfect or pluperfect. By the participles אהבת and מנאפת, the love of the companion and the adultery of the wife are supposed to be continued and contemporaneous with the love which the prophet is to manifest towards the woman. This overthrows the assertion made by Kurtz, that we have before us a woman who was already married at the time when the prophet was commanded to love her, as at variance with the grammatical construction, and changing the participle into the pluperfect. For, during the time that the prophet loved the wife he had taken, the רע who displayed his love to her could only be her husband, i.e., the prophet himself, towards whom she stood in the closest intimacy, founded upon love, i.e., in the relation of marriage. The correctness of this view, that the רע is the prophet as husband, is put beyond all possibility of doubt by the explanation of the divine command which follows. As Jehovah lovers the sons of Israel, although or whilst they turn to other gods, i.e., break their marriage with Jehovah; so is the prophet to love the woman who commits adultery, or will commit adultery, notwithstanding his love, since the adultery could only take place when the prophet had shown to the woman the love commanded, i.e., had connected himself with her by marriage. The peculiar epithet applied to the woman can only be explained from the fact intended to be set forth by the symbolical act itself, and, as we have already shown at p. 22, is irreconcilable with the assumption that the command of God refers to a marriage to be really and outwardly consummated. The words כּאהבת יי recal Deuteronomy 7:8, and והם פּנים וגו Deuteronomy 31:18. The last clause, "and loving grape-cakes," does not apply to the idols, who would be thereby represented either as lovers of grape-cakes, or as those to whom grape-cakes were offered (Hitzig), but is a continuation of פּנים, indicating the reason why Israel turned to other gods. Grape or raisin cakes (on 'ăshı̄shâh, see at 2 Samuel 6:19) are delicacies, figuratively representing that idolatrous worship which appeals to the senses, and gratifies the carnal impulses and desires. Compare Job 20:12, where sin is figuratively described as food which is sweet as new honey in the mouth, but turns into the gall of asps in the belly. Loving grape-cakes is equivalent to indulging in sensuality. Because Israel loves this, it turns to other gods. "The solemn and strict religion of Jehovah is plain but wholesome food; whereas idolatry is relaxing food, which is only sought after by epicures and men of depraved tastes" (Hengstenberg).
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