Hosea 13:15
Though he be fruitful among his brothers, an east wind shall come, the wind of the LORD shall come up from the wilderness, and his spring shall become dry, and his fountain shall be dried up: he shall spoil the treasure of all pleasant vessels.
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(15, 16) Fruitful.—Observe the play on Ephraim’s name.

Wind of the Lord stands in apposition to east wind. Render a wind of the Lord rising from the wilderness. The armies of Assyria are referred to.

Become desolate.—Or rather, suffer punishment. Thus rolls the thunder of Divine judgment in one last tremendous crash of doom, beyond which scarce anything worse can be thought or said. It is not until the awful silence is reached, after the blast of denunciation, that the prophet hopes that his appeal may not be in vain. In the last chapter, uttered in gentlest mood, he shows a bow of promise painted on the darkness of the storm-cloud.

Hosea 13:15. Though he be fruitful among his brethren — The name Ephraim denotes fruitfulness, and this tribe answered its name, being the most numerous of all the ten tribes. An east wind shall come — The east wind was often pestilent and destructive in Judea and the countries about it; therefore this expressed that destruction was coming upon Ephraim and likewise pointed out the quarter from whence it was to come, namely, from Assyria, which lay eastward of Judea. It is called the wind of the Lord, in the next words, because the destruction which the king of Assyria was to make of Ephraim was to be brought about by the divine will and providence. It is said to come up from the wilderness, because the way of the Assyrian army to Samaria lay through the desert part of Syria. His spring shall become dry, &c. The Assyrian king being spoken of as an east wind, which in those countries is very hot and drying; therefore the destruction, or desolation he was to make, is described by drying up the springs and fountains. He shall spoil the treasure — The same enemy shall plunder all their treasures and take away their rich and costly furniture, as the word כליis translated, Nahum 2:9.13:9-16 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.Though - (literally, "when") he (shall) be fruitful among his brethren Fruitfulness was God's promise to Ephraim, and was expressed in his name. It was fulfilled, abused, and, in the height of its fulfillment, was taken away. Ephraim is pictured as a fair and fruitful tree. An "East wind," so desolating in the East, and that, no chance wind, but "the wind of the Lord," a wind, sent by God and endued by God with the power to destroy, "shall come up from the wilderness," parching, scorching, fiery, from the burning sands of "Arabia the desert," from which it came, "and shall dry up the fountain" of his being. Deep were the roots of this fair and flourishing tree, great its vigor, ample and perpetual the fountain of its waters, over which it grew and by which it was sustained. He calls it "'his' spring, 'his' fountain," as though this source of its life were made over to it, and made its own. It "was planted by the water side;" but it was not of God's planting. "The East wind from the Lord" should dry up the deepest well-spring of its waters, and the tree should wither. Such are ungodly greatness and prosperity. While they are fairest in show, their life-fountains are drying up.

He shall spoil the treasure of all pleasant vessels - He, emphatically, the enemy whom the prophet had ever in his mind, as the instrument of God's chastisement on His people, and who was represented by the East wind; the Assyrian, who came from the East, to whom, as to the East Wind, the whole country between lay open, for the whirlwinds of his armies to sweep over in one straight course from the seat of his dominion.

15. fruitful—referring to the meaning of "Ephraim," from a Hebrew root, "to be fruitful" (Ge 41:52). It was long the most numerous and flourishing of the tribes (Ge 48:19).

wind of the Lord—that is, sent by the Lord (compare Isa 40:7), who has His instruments of punishment always ready. The Assyrian, Shalmaneser, &c., is meant (Jer 4:11; 18:17; Eze 19:12).

from the wilderness—that is, the desert part of Syria (1Ki 19:15), the route from Assyria into Israel.

he—the Assyrian invader. Shalmaneser began the siege of Samaria in 723 B.C. Its close was in 721 B.C., the first year of Sargon, who seems to have usurped the throne of Assyria while Shalmaneser was at the siege of Samaria. Hence, while 2Ki 17:6 states, "the king of Assyria took Samaria," 2Ki 18:10 says, "at the end of three years they took it." In Sargon's magnificent palace at Khorsabad, inscriptions mention the number—27,280—of Israelites carried captive from Samaria and other places of Israel by the founder of the palace [G. V. Smith].

Though he, Ephraim,

be fruitful, at present, as a flourishing tree seems to be fruitful; things in the state seem to be well settled; peace at home, under Hoshea, and peace abroad with Assyria and Egypt.

Among his brethren; and all his brethren surround him, either the rest of the tribes, or the nations who by league are become as his brethren.

An east wind shall come; an enemy as pernicious to his estate as the east wind is to fruits shall certainly come; a mighty and violent enemy, called here,

the wind of the Lord, the usual superlative among the Hebrews.

From the wilderness, which lay south-east from Canaan; and so it speaks a more pernicious quality in these enemies as the southeast winds in that country were of all most hot and blasting, coming over those hot, dry, sandy deserts.

His spring, springs of water, which were most needful, and highly valued, shall become dry; shall fail and be cut off, dry up, that there shall be no waters in them.

His fountain shall be dried up; the same thing in different words, confirming the certainty hereof. This the resemblance of the Assyrian, and the mischief he shall do to Israel lie shall lay Ephraim desolate, and dry up all his fountains, which were the comfort of that land.

He, the Assyrian army, Shalmaneser,

shall spoil the treasure, shall rob their treasuries,

of all pleasant vessels, and carry away all desirable vessels and furniture, out of all their houses and wardrobes: thus all the glory of Ephraim shall wither whilst it is seemingly flourishing and well-rooted too. Though he be fruitful among his brethren,.... This is not spoken of Christ, as some think, who take the words to be a continuation of the prophecy concerning the Redeemer, who should increase his brethren, and bring many to him; and be as noxious to hell and death as the east wind is to persons and things, and dry up the fountains and springs of hell and death; the sins of men he should abolish, and be victorious over all his enemies, and divide their spoils: but they are rather the words of Christ himself concerning Ephraim, in connection with Hosea 13:13; expressing his character and state, and explaining the sorrows and calamities that should come upon him for his folly, in not staying the time of the breaking forth children; and to be understood either of his spiritual fruitfulness in the last days; when Israel shall return to the Lord by repentance, and believe in the true Messiah, and bring forth the fruit of good works, as an evidence of it, along with their brethren, those of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, and so all Israel should be saved; which yet should not hinder the distresses and destruction that should come upon the ten tribes by the Assyrians, afterwards declared: or rather of his political fruitfulness, in allusion to his name; increasing in numbers, abounding in power and authority, in wealth and riches; either before the sin of the calves, as Kimchi, before he fell into idolatry; or afterwards, particularly in the times of Jeroboam the second, who enlarged the border of Israel; and in later times, when the kings of Israel entered into alliance with the Assyrians, and enjoyed peace and prosperity, and thought themselves secure of the continuance of it. Some render it, "because he is fierce" (s); or "like a wild ass's colt"; not only foolish and unwise, but fierce and unruly among his brethren, and would not stay the time of the breaking forth of children: therefore

an east wind shall come: which is very vehement, cold, blasting, and exceeding noxious and pernicious to fruit; meaning Shalmaneser king of Assyria, who came from the east; his kingdom, the land of Assyria, lying, as Kimchi observes, eastward to the land of Israel. So the Targum,

"now will I bring against him a king strong as a burning wind;''

so the king of Babylon and his army are compared to a strong and violent wind, Jeremiah 4:11;

the wind of the Lord shall come up from the wilderness; the same is called the "wind of the Lord", partly to denote the strength and vehemency of it, as mountains of the Lord, and cedars of the Lord, signify great and mighty ones; and partly to show that this enemy would come at the call of the Lord, by his direction and appointment. So the Targum,

"by the word of the Lord, through the way of the wilderness shall he come up;''

this circumstance, "from the wilderness", is mentioned, not only because winds from thence usually blow more strongly and violently, but because the way from Assyria to the land of Israel lay through a wilderness;

and his spring shall become dry, and his fountain shall be dried up; his land wasted and destroyed; his fields, vineyards, and oliveyards, trodden down and ruined, which yielded a large increase; trade and commerce stopped, and so all the springs and fountains of wealth and riches dried up; as well as their wives and children destroyed, as often mentioned, which were the source and spring of their continuance as a people in ages to come;

he shall spoil the treasure of all pleasant vessels; not Christ, nor Ephraim, but the Assyrian; who, entering into their cities, would plunder them of all their "vessels of desire" (t), or desirable ones; their vessels of gold and silver; all their rich household goods and furniture of value; all their wealth and riches treasured up by them, their gold, silver, precious stones, rich garments, &c. So the Targum,

"he shall destroy the house of his treasures, and shall lay waste the city of his kingdom; he shall spoil the treasuries, all vessels of desire.''

(s) "ille fero modo aget", Cocceius; "ferox eat, notat ferum, vel ferocem esse sicut onagrum", Schmidt, Burkius. So R. Jonah in Ben Melech. (t) "omnium vasorum desiderii", Montanus; "omnis vasis desiderii", Schmidt.

Though he be fruitful among his brethren, an east wind shall come, the wind of the LORD shall come up from the wilderness, and his spring shall become dry, and his fountain shall be dried up: he shall spoil the treasure of all pleasant vessels.
15. Though he be fruitful, &c.] Rather, For though he bear fruit, &c. Evidently there is an allusion to the meaning of the word Ephraim (‘fruitfulness’?); for another see Hosea 14:8. The verse carries on the idea of the last clause of the previous verse. ‘In fact, though his name and his nature indicate fruitfulness, yet a remorselessly severe punishment shall come upon him.’ His ‘brethren’ are his fellow tribes, which are compared to trees. There is another reading (’âkhîm for ’akhîm) ‘among reed-plants’, comp. Genesis 41:2; Genesis 41:18. This is adopted by Delitzsch, and has considerable Rabbinic authority (e.g. that of Rashi and Abulwalîd), but is found in extremely few extant manuscripts. It certainly completes the figure, but is philologically difficult.

the wind of the Lord, &c.] Rather, a wind of Jehovah, coming up from the desert. The parching and destructive east or south-east wind is referred to, which blew from the desert (comp. Jeremiah 4:11; Jeremiah 13:24; Job 1:19). It is a figure for the Assyrian conqueror (somewhat as Isaiah 21:1), who at the end of the verse comes forward in his undisguised awfulness.

spring] Rather perhaps, reservoir.

he shall spoil] ‘He’ is emphatically expressed; ‘he’ whom the east wind figures ‘shall spoil’ (or, plunder).

pleasant vessels] Rather, precious vessels (whether jewels, or objects of worked gold or silver, or rarities of any kind).Verse 15. - Though he be fruitful among his brethren. It should rather be, for he bear fruit among brethren. כִּי, in this verse, is neither a particle of time, "when," nor a conditional particle, "if," but "for," adducing "a reason to prove that the promised grace of redemption would certainly stand firm." Ki is distinguished from אִם by being "only used in cases where a circumstance is assumed to be real For one that is merely supposed to be pebble, אִם is required," as may be inferred from the interchange of the two words in Numbers 5:19 and 20. The name Ephraim, signifying "double-fruitfulness," shall be verified, confirming the promised redemption from death, and, by the pledge of blessing, which the name implies affording a guarantee that the coming storm would not quite overwhelm them. The play on the name Ephraim fixes the meaning of יַפְרִיא, the aleph taking the place of he. The Septuagint διαστελεῖ, equivalent to "shall cause a division," and Jerome's divider, suppose יַפְרִיד or יַפְלִיא. But though fruitful among the other tribes, yet the abuse of that fruitfulness invited the instrument of destruction. There is an allusion to the patriarchal blessing, "Joseph is a fruitful bough by a well;" the source of his fruitfulness was that well or fountain; while the drying up of it would be the certain cause of barrenness. An east wind shall come, the wind of the Lord shall come up from the wilderness. Thus, while Ephraim presents the pleasing picture of a fair and fruitful tree, the element of destruction is already on the way. A wind, the east wind, with its rude vehemence, blighting heat, and desolating effect, was coming. It was a wind, not coming by chance, but commissioned by Jehovah as a minister of vengeance to execute his wrath. It was, moreover, a wind issuing forth from its home in the desert, and fraught with fiery heat from the scorching sands of the Arabian desert. And his spring shall become dry, and his fountain shall be dried up. This flourishing tree, planted by the living spring, to which it owed its vigor and verdure, was doomed soon to wither in consequence of the drying up of the waters, that nourished it, by the east wind. He shall spoil the treasure of all pleasant vessels. Here the figure merges in the fact. The Assyrian conqueror was the blustering east wind, that swept like a whirlwind with his armies from the east. He not only ravaged the country, but rifled the treasures of the capital The keli chemdah included all the valuables and treasures of Samaria referred to in the following verse. Kimchi explains the verse as follows: "For Ephraim was fruitful among brethren as long as he did not make calves. He became increasingly great and fruitful among his brethren, as Jacob said of him.... And now that he has sinned, an east wind of the Lord shall come; and it is the King of Assyria that is meant. And he compares him to the east wind, because it is a wind from the east, for the land of Assyria lies to the east of the land of Israel; and further he says, 'east wind,' because it is a violent wind. And he says, 'wind of Jehovah,' to magnify the wind and emphasize it; and he says also, 'spirit of Jehovah,' because Jehovah the blessed stirred up his spirit (i.e. spirit of the King of Assyria) to come against Israel, 'goeth up from the wilderness;' wind is always in the wilderness. Or the explanation is, because the wilderness is between the land of Israel and the land of Assyria; and before this wind, which is the King of Assyria, is dried up the fountain of Ephraim, which was at first like a tree flourishing by the waters." And now before this wind shall its spring become dry and its fountain dried up. The verb יֵבושׁ, as from בּושׁ, is an irregular formation for הובִישׁ, as on the contrary we find the Hiph. הובִישׁ, as if from יָבֵשׁ. "For the sons of Israel will sit for many days without a king, and without a prince, and without slain-offering, and without monument, and without ephod and teraphim." The explanation of the figure is introduced with כּי, because it contains the ground of the symbolical action. The objects, which are to be taken away from the Israelites, form three pairs, although only the last two are formally connected together by the omission of אין before תּרפים, so as to form one pair, whilst the rest are simply arranged one after another by the repetition of אין before every one. As king and prince go together, so also do slain-offering and memorial. King and prince are the upholders of civil government; whilst slain-offering and memorial represent the nation's worship and religion. מצּבה, monument, is connected with idolatrous worship. The "monuments" were consecrated to Baal (Exodus 23:24), and the erection of them was for that reason prohibited even in the law (Leviticus 26:1; Deuteronomy 16:22 : see at 1 Kings 14:23); but they were widely spread in the kingdom of Israel (2 Kings 3:2; 2 Kings 10:26-28; 2 Kings 17:10), and they were also erected in Judah under idolatrous kings (1 Kings 14:23; 2 Kings 18:4; 2 Kings 23:14; 2 Chronicles 14:2; 2 Chronicles 31:1). The ephod and teraphim did indeed form part of the apparatus of worship, but they are also specially mentioned as media employed in searching into the future. The ephod, the shoulder-dress of the high priest, to which the Urim and Thummim were attached, was the medium through which Jehovah communicated His revelations to the people, and was used for the purpose of asking the will of God (1 Samuel 23:9; 1 Samuel 30:7); and for the same purpose it was imitated in an idolatrous manner (Judges 17:5; Judges 18:5). The teraphim were Penates, which were worshipped as the givers of earthly prosperity, and also as oracular deities who revealed future events (see my Bibl. Archol. 90). The prophet mentions objects connected with both the worship of Jehovah and that of idols, because they were both mixed together in Israel, and for the purpose of showing to the people that the Lord would take away both the Jehovah-worship and also the worship of idols, along with the independent civil government. With the removal of the monarchy (see at Hosea 1:4), or the dissolution of the kingdom, not only was the Jehovah-worship abolished, but an end was also put to the idolatry of the nation, since the people discovered the worthlessness of the idols from the fact that, when the judgment burst upon them, they could grant no deliverance; and notwithstanding the circumstance that, when carried into exile, they were transported into the midst of the idolaters, the distress and misery into which they were then plunged filled them with abhorrence of idolatry (see at Hosea 2:7).

This threat was fulfilled in the history of the ten tribes, when they were carried away with the Assyrian captivity, in which they continue for the most part to the present day without a monarchy, without Jehovah-worship, and without a priesthood. For it is evident that by Israel the ten tribes are intended, not only from the close connection between this prophecy and Hosea 1:1-11, where Israel is expressly distinguished from Judah (Hosea 1:7), but also from the prospect held out in Hosea 3:5, that the sons of Israel will return to David their king, which clearly points to the falling away of the ten tribes from the house of David. At the same time, as the carrying away of Judah also is presupposed in Hosea 1:7, Hosea 1:11, and therefore what is said of Israel is transferred implicite to Judah, we must not restrict the threat contained in this verse to the Israel of the ten tribes alone, but must also understand it as referring to the Babylonian and Roman exile of the Jews, just as in the time of king Asa (2 Chronicles 15:2-4). The prophet Azariah predicted this to the kingdom of Judah in a manner which furnishes an unmistakeably support to Hosea's prophecy.

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