Hosea 13:16
Samaria shall become desolate; for she hath rebelled against her God: they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up.
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Hosea 13:16. Samaria shall become desolate, for she hath rebelled, &c. — The prophet foretels the final destruction of Samaria, for her idolatry and other impieties, by Shalmaneser, king of Assyria. Their infants shall be dashed in pieces, &c. — These were the barbarous practices of conquerors when they took cities by storm, or put all to the sword without distinction of age or sex: see the margin.

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.Samaria shall become desolate - Or "shall bear her iniquity." Her iniquity should now find her out, and rest upon her. Of this, "desolation" was, in God's judgments, the consequence. Samaria, "the nursery of idolatry and rebellion against God," the chief in pride should be chief in punishment. "For she hath rebelled against her God." It aggravated her sin, that He "against" whom "she rebelled," was "her" own "God." He who had chosen her to be His, and made Himself her God; who had showed Himself "her" God in the abundance of His loving-kindness, from the deliverance out of Egypt to that day. This her desolation, it is again said, should be Complete. Hope remains, if the people of a generation are cut off; yet not only should these fall by the sword; those already born were to be dashed in pieces; those as yet unborn were to be sought out for destruction, even in their mother's womb. Such atrocities were common then. Elisha foretold to Hazael that he would perpetrate both cruelties 2 Kings 8:12, Shalmaneser clashed the young children in pieces 2 Kings 10:14, as did the conqueror of NoAmmon Nahum 3:10, and the Babylonians Psalm 137:9 afterward. The children of Ammon ripped up the women with child in Gilead Amos 1:13, and the usurper Menahem in Tiphsah and its coasts 2 Kings 15:16. Isaiah prophesies that Babylon should undergo, in its turn, the same as to its children Isaiah 13:16, and the Psalmist pronounces God's blessing on its destroyer who should so requite him Psalm 137:9.

Such was to be the end of the pride, the ambition, the able policy, the wars, the oppressions, the luxury, the self-enjoyment, and, in all, the rebellion of Samaria against "her" God. She has stood the more in opposition to God, the nearer she might have been to Him, and "bare her iniquity." As a city of God's people, it was never restored. The spot, in its pagan colonists, with which Assyrian policy repopulated it 2 Kings 17:24, was still the abode of a mingled religion. Corruption clung, by inheritance, to its site. This too was destroyed by John Hyrcanus. "He effaced thee marks that it had ever been a city" . It was rebuilt by the Romans, after Pompey had taken Jerusalem . Herod reenclosed a circuit of two miles and a half of the ancient site, fortified it strongly, as a check on the Jews; repopulated it, partly with some who had served in his wars, partly with the people around; gave them lands, revived their idolatry by replacing their poor temple by one remarkable for size and beauty, in an area of a furlong and a half; and called the place Sebaste in honor of his pagan patron, Augustus .

A coin of Nero, struck there, bears the figure (it is thought) of its old idol, Ashtaroth . Jerome says, that John the Baptist was buried there . The pagan, who were encouraged in such desecrations by Julian the Apostate , opened the tomb, burned the bones, and scattered the dust . The city became a Christian See, and its Bishops were present at the four first General Councils . It is now but a poor village, connected with the strongly-fortified town of Herod by its pagan name Sebastieh, a long avenue of broken pillars, and the tomb of the great Forerunner . Of the ancient capital of Ephraim, not even a ruin speaks.

The prophet closes this portion of his prophecy, as other prophets so often do, with the opposite end of the righteous and the wicked. He had spoken of the victory over death, the irrevocable purpose of God for good to his own; then he speaks of utter final destruction. Then when the mercy of God shall be shown to the uttermost, and the victory over sin and death shall be accomplished, then shall all the pomp of the its riches, joys, luxuries, elegance, glory, dignity; perish and not a wreck be left behind of all which once dazzled the eyes of people, for which they forsook their God, and sold themselves to evil and the evil one.

16. This verse and Ho 13:15 foretell the calamities about to befall Israel before her restoration (Ho 13:14), owing to her impenitence.

her God—the greatest aggravation of her rebellion, that it was against her God (Ho 13:4).

infants … dashed in pieces, &c.—(2Ki 8:12; 15:16; Am 1:13).

Samaria, the chief or royal city of the kingdom of Israel,

shall become desolate; besieged, taken, plundered, and sacked, probably it was razed to the foundation, by the Assyrians, provoked by the treachery first, and by the obstinacy next, of Hoshea, maintaining the siege against Shalmaneser three years, 2 Kings 17:5.

Rebelled against her God; both cast off his worship and set up idolatry, and also shook off the yoke of David’s house and set up new kings, and maintained both long against God.

They, the inhabitants of Samaria, and also the subjects of the kingdom of Israel, shall fall by the sword; be cut off in war by the prevailing arms of the king of Assyria.

Their infants shall be dashed in pieces; a most barbarous piece of cruelty, yet usually practised in those countries when they were enraged against a people.

Their women with child shall be ripped up; another kind of like or greater inhumanity. Thus Shalman raged against Arbel in the day of battle, and this confirms what the prophet saith Hosea 10:14. And this was no doubt executed upon Samaria when it was taken, so their springs (women and children, which are as fountains) were all dried up.

Samaria shall become desolate,.... With this verse the fourteenth chapter begins in the Hebrew copies, and in the Targum, and in many versions; but seems better to conclude the present chapter; since it is in close connection with Hosea 13:15, and explains the figurative expressions there used. Samaria was the head of Ephraim, Isaiah 7:9; or the metropolis of the ten tribes of Israel; whose desolation is here prophesied of, and was accomplished by Shalmaneser king of Assyria, signified by the east wind; by whom it was not only besieged and taken, but very probably its houses were demolished, its walls broken down, and razed to the very foundation; see 2 Kings 17:5; and, as this was the head city, it may be put for all the rest, and even for the whole land, which was at the same time laid waste. The Targum is,

"Samaria shall be guilty;''

that is, shall be found guilty of many sins; her transgression shall be revealed, as Jarchi, become manifest by the just punishment inflicted on her;

for she hath rebelled against her God; and bitterly provoked him to wrath and anger, as the word (u) signifies; by relinquishing him and his worship, and by serving idols, the calves at Dan and Bethel, Baal and other idols; when the Lord was their God, not only by creation, as of all men, but by the choice he made of them, and the covenant he made with them; by a national adoption of them, attended with various blessings and privileges, and by their profession of him; all which were an aggravation of their rebellion against him;

they shall fall by the sword: the inhabitants of Samaria, and of the land, particularly the men thereof; and especially their armed men, their men of war, that fought for them, and defended them; these should fall by the sword of the Assyrian;

their children shall be dashed to pieces; against stones, walls, and pavements; who should have perpetuated their name to future ages, and inherited their possessions:

and their women with child shall be ripped up; things which are often done by cruel enemies, when cities are sacked and plundered; and which Shalmaneser might be provoked unto by the perfidy of the king of Israel, and by the city of Samaria holding out a three years' siege. This, though we have no account of as done at that time, yet no doubt was; even as the same things are predicted of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans, and which were to be done to them, in retaliation for them, though there is no narrative of them; see Psalm 137:8.

(u) "ad amaritudinem concitavit", V. L. "significat amaricare, vel amaritudine replere", Rivet.

Samaria shall become desolate; for she hath rebelled against her God: they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up.
16. become desolate] Rather, be dealt with as guilty (as Hosea 10:2).

their infants, &c.] Rather, their children (those of an age to play, comp. Jeremiah 6:11; Jeremiah 9:20). The same barbarities were predicted in Hosea 10:14. Such a fate would be simply retributive justice (see 2 Kings 15:16).

Verse 16. - Samaria shall become desolate; for she hath rebelled against her God. Others translate shall atone, i.e. bear guilt or punishment. In the latter sense it is from אֵָשם, to atone or suffer the punishment of contracted guilt; in the former sense it is from שָׁמְם, and it is translated accordingly by ἀφανισθηδεταῖ in the LXX., and pereat by Jerome; so also Aben Ezra: "It shall be laid waste;" Kimchi: "The aleph has seh'wa alone, and the signification 'desolation,' and so the dwellers therein shall be made desolate." He thus intimates that aleph, having sch'aa alone without seghol, does not belong to the root, which is not אשם (for its future would be תֶּךאשׁם), but שָׁמַם. Rashi, however, understands it in the sense of "atone," or "find out her guiltiness;" he says, "From now will her guilt manifest itself." The reason of Samaria being thus mentioned is not only that it was the capital of the northern kingdom, but, as Kimchi says, "it confirmed Israel in the worship of the calves; for if the kings had been good, they would have brought back Israel to what was good." The ki assigns the reason of Samaria's desolation or guilt; it was rebellion against Jehovah, for Samaria was the seat and center of idolatry, and hence it spread throughout the land. They shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up. The destruction thus described was to be complete. The present population would perish by the sword; the future progeny would be extinguished and all posterity cut off. Not only the children already born, but those unborn, were devoted to destruction; and all this in the most savage and barbarous manner. The word עולֵל (from עלל, to meddle, gratify one's self, indulge one's caprice) presents childhood on the side of playfulness or petulance. The pronominal suffix attached to הרי refers to the city; and the feminine noun itself, forming subject to verbs in the masculine, arises from the fact that the feminine of the imperfect plural becomes rarer; or because the feminine plural only gradually distinguishes itself by a peculiar form from the masculine. The cruelties here specified may have been occasioned by those of the same kind with which Menahem King of Samaria smote Tiphsah. On that occasion "all the women therein that were with child he ripped up" (compare, for the cruel practice, 'Iliad,' 6:58; ,2 Kings 8:12 and 2 Kings 15:16).

Hosea 13:16(Heb. Bibl. Hosea 14:1). "Samaria will atone, because it has rebelled against its God: they will fall by the sword; their children will be dashed to pieces, and its women with child ripped up." אשׁם, to atone, to bear the guilt, i.e., the punishment. It is not equivalent to shâmēm in Ezekiel 6:6, although, as a matter of fact, the expiation consisted in the conquest and devastation of Samaria by Shalmanezer. The subject to yippelū (will fall) is the inhabitants of Samaria. The suffix to הריּותיו (its women, etc.) refers to the nation. The form הריּה is one derived from הרה, for הרה (Ewald, 189, c). The construction with the masculine verb יבקּעוּ, in the place of the feminine, is an anomaly, which may be explained from the fact that feminine formations from the plur. imperf. are generally very rare (see Ewald, 191, b). For the fact itself, compare Hosea 10:14; 2 Kings 8:12; 2 Kings 15:16; Amos 1:13.
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