Hosea 13:2
And now they sin more and more, and have made them molten images of their silver, and idols according to their own understanding, all of it the work of the craftsmen: they say of them, Let the men that sacrifice kiss the calves.
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(2) Ewald, following the hint of the LXX. (who had a slightly different text), renders “according to their pattern of idols.” (Comp. the language of satire in Psalms 115; Isaiah 44:10-17.)

Men that sacrifice.—More accurately, sacrificers from among men. Others would render “sacrificers of men.” But the former is quite consistent with Hebrew usage, while the latter compels us to adopt the unwarrantable supposition that human sacrifices formed part of the calf-worship. The calf images were kissed ike those of the Madonna in Roman Catholic churches at the present day. The Greek προσκυνέω, to worship,” meant originally to adore by kissing (Curtius, Greek Etymology, p. 158).

Hosea 13:2. And now they sin more and more — They did not content themselves with worshipping the golden calves only, which they made to be symbols of Jehovah the true God, but made themselves images of various idols after the manner of the heathen nations; which were nothing more than merely pieces of handicraft work. They at first worshipped Jehovah under the images of the golden calves, but at last they came to worship the mere images themselves. Thus do men sink deeper and deeper into vice, folly, and ignorance, whenever they depart from the right way! Instead of, according to their own understanding, Bishop Horsley reads, In their great wisdom they made themselves images, &c., considering the words as spoken ironically. They say of them — Of the idols; Let the men that sacrifice, kiss the calves — Let all that bring their offerings to these idols worship and adore, and show they do so by kissing the calves. Among the ancient idolaters, to kiss the idol was an act of the most solemn adoration. Thus we read, 1 Kings 19:18, of all the knees which have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him. And so Job describes the adoration which the idolaters of his time paid to the heavenly bodies, Job 31:27. Tully mentions a brazen statue of Hercules at Agrigentum, in which the workmanship of the mouth was sensibly worn by the frequent kisses of the worshippers. And, in allusion to this rite, the holy psalmist, calling upon the apostate faction to avert the wrath of the incarnate God, by a full acknowledgment of his divinity, bids them kiss the Son, that is, worship him.

13:1-8 While Ephraim kept up a holy fear of God, and worshipped Him in that fear, so long he was very considerable. When Ephraim forsook God, and followed idolatry, he sunk. Let the men that sacrifice kiss the calves, in token of their adoration of them, affection for them, and obedience to them; but the Lord will not give his glory to another, and therefore all that worship images shall be confounded. No solid, lasting comfort, is to be expected any where but in God. God not only took care of the Israelites in the wilderness, he put them in possession of Canaan, a good land; but worldly prosperity, when it feeds men's pride, makes them forgetful of God. Therefore the Lord would meet them in just vengeance, as the most terrible beast that inhabited their forests. Abused goodness calls for greater severity.And now they sin more and more - Sin draws on sin. This seems to be a third stage in sin. First, under Jeroboam, was the worship of the calves. Then, under Ahab, the worship of Baal. Thirdly, the multiplying of other idols (see 2 Kings 17:9-10), penetrating and pervading the private life, even of their less wealthy people. The calves were of gold; now they "made them molten images of their silver," perhaps plated with silver. In Egypt, the mother of idolatry, it was common to gild idols, made of wood, stone, and bronze. The idolatry, then, had become more habitual, daily, universal. These idols were made of "their silver;" they themselves had had them "molten" out of it. Avaricious as they were (see the note above 2 Kings 12:7-8), they lavished "their silver," to make them their gods. "According to their own understanding," they had had them formed. They employed ingenuity and invention to multiply their idols. They despised the wisdom and commands of God who forbad it. The rules for making and coloring the idols were as minute as those, which God gave for His own worship. Idolatry had its own vast system, making the visible world its god and picturing its operations, over against the worship of God its Creator. But it was all, "their own understanding:" The conception of the idol lay in its maker's mind. It was his own creation. He devised, what his idol should represent; how it should represent what his mind imagined; he debated with himself, rejected, chose, changed his choice, modified what he had fixed upon; all "according to his own understanding." Their own understanding devised it; the labor of the craftsmen completed it.

All of it the work of the craftsmen - What man could do for it, he did. But man could not breathe into his idols the breath of life; there was then no spirit, nor life, nor any effluence from any higher nature, nor any deity residing in them. From first to last it was "all" man's "work;" and man's own wisdom was its condemnation. The thing made must be inferior to its maker. made man, inferior to Himself, but lord of the earth, and all things therein; man made his idol of the things of earth, which God gave him. It too then was inferior to "its" maker, man. He then worshiped in it, the conception of his own mind, the work of his own hands.

They say of them - Strictly, Of them, (i. e., of these things, such things, as these,) "they, say, Let the men that sacrifice kiss the calves." The prophet gives the substance or the words of Jeroboam's edict, when he said, "It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem, behold thy gods, O Israel." "Whoever would sacrifice, let him do homage to the calves." He would have calf-worship to be the only worship of God. Error, if it is strong enough, ever persecutes the truth, unless it can corrupt it. Idol-worship was striving to extirpate the worship of God, which condemned it. Under Ahab and Jezebel, it seemed to have succeeded. Elijah complains to God in His own immediate presence; "the children of Israel have forsaken Thy covenant, thrown down Thine altars, and slain Thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I, only am left, and they seek my life, to take it away 1 Kings 19:10, 1 Kings 19:14. Kissing was an act of homage in the East, done upon the hand or the foot, the knees or shoulder. It was a token of divine honor, whether to an idol (1 Kings 19:18 and here,) or to God Psalm 2:12. It was performed, either by actually kissing the image, or when the object could not be approached, (as the moon) kissing the hand Job 31:26-27, and so sending, as it were, the kiss to it. In the Psalm, it stands as a symbol of worship, to be shown toward "the" Incarnate "Son," when God should make Him "King upon His holy hill of Sion."

2. according to their own understanding—that is, their arbitrary devising. Compare "will-worship," Col 2:23. Men are not to be "wise above that which is written," or to follow their own understanding, but God's command in worship.

kiss the calves—an act of adoration to the golden calves (compare 1Ki 19:18; Job 31:27; Ps 2:12).

And now, though they are admonished, threatened, and in part punished, yet now that Baal is taken in for a god and worshipped,

they sin more and more; they go on to sin, and add new idolatries to the old, they increase the number of their sins; in some respect their new sins are greater than those committed formerly, but the prophet here speaks not of greatness of sins, but the number.

And have made them molten images of their silver: these were the figures and representations of the gods they worshipped, and were multiplied as families, able to go to the cost, did multiply; every one got their household gods. heathen like, and most of these puppets were made of silver. Or the phrase may imply, that at their own charge these people made them gods; so though it was a straight ash, or wood that would not soon putrefy, which was formed into the idol, yet because bought with their silver it may by a metonymy be called their silver.

Idols according to their own understanding; every one as he fancied, as he thought most comely, and proper to represent a deity; perhaps these idolaters vied with each other who should have the handsomest god, as Ahaz would vie altars, and therefore made new ones. Perhaps some of these idolaters melted down their old less handsome gods to run them into more pleasing features.

All of it the work of the craftsmen; whatever is of the image is of the workman, who gave it shape, but could not give it breath, still it is a lifeless lump or image.

They, either the kings of Israel, or the priests of these idols, or the people, say of them, of the idols,

Let the men that sacrifice, let every one that sacrificeth, all that bring their offerings to these idols,

kiss; reverence, worship, or adore, and show they do so by kissing the calves. They will make them give full worship to their idols.

And now they sin more and more,.... Since the times of Jeroboam, and also of Ahab, adding other deities to the calves, and to Baal, as follows; increasing the number of their idols, and their idolatrous sacrifices, rites, and ceremonies: this they did in the times the prophet, who prophesied after the times of as it is common with evil men and seducers to wax worse and worse, and to proceed to more ungodliness, and from evil to evil; such is the way of idolaters, they stop not, but run into greater absurdities and grosser idolatries:

and have made them molten images of their silver: which is to be understood, not of the calves, or of Baal, made of gold, which they purchased with their silver; but of other images they had in their houses, or carried about with them, made of their silver, of their plate, which they melted and cast images of it, of whatsoever shape or form they pleased:

and idols according to their own understanding; which were entirely of man's device, and had nothing divine in them, either as to matter or form, but wholly the invention of the human brain; or, "according to their own likeness", as the Targum, and so other Jewish interpreters; after the form of a man, and yet were so weak and stupid as to account them gods:

all of it the work of the craftsmen; of silversmiths and founders, and such like artificers; the same, or of the same sort, with the craftsmen that made shrines for Diana, Acts 19:24; and therefore such a work, wrought by such hands, could never be a deity, or have anything divine in it; they must be as stupid and senseless as the work itself to imagine there should: and yet

they say of them; the false prophets, or the idolatrous priests, say of such idols:

let the men that sacrifice kiss the calves: let those that bring their sacrifices, or those that offer them, pay religious worship and adoration to the calves; which they signified by kissing the idols they sacrificed to, either their mouths, or their hands; or, if out of their reach, they kissed their own hands in token of honour to them; which rites were commonly used among the Heathens. Cicero (s) says at Agrigentum, where was a temple or Hercules, where the people not only used to show a veneration to his image by prayers and thanksgivings, but they used to kiss it. So Apuleius (t) speaks of a beautiful virgin, the report of whose beauty brought together a vast number of citizens and strangers; who, amazed at the sight of her, put their right hand to then mouths, the first finger resting upon the thumb erect, and gave her reverence with religious adoration, as if she had been the goddess Venus herself; and Minutius Felix (u) says of Caecilius, that, observing the image of Serapis (probably much like one of these calves), putting his hand to his mouth, according to the superstitious custom of the common people, with his lips smacked a kiss; and so Pliny (w) observes, in worshipping, the right hand is used for a kiss, turning about the whole body, which to do to the left was reckoned the more religious; hence it is observed (x) of Aemilius, a derider of and scoffer at things divine, that he would never make supplication to any god, nor frequent any temple; and if he passed by any place of worship, he reckoned it a crime to put his hand to his lips by way of adoration, or on account of that; and it seems to have obtained as early as the times of Job among idolatrous people, that, upon the sight of the sun or moon, they immediately with their mouth kissed their hands; see Job 31:26; hence Lucian (y), speaking of the Indians, says, rising early in the morning, they worship the sun, not as we, who think the prayers are finished when the hand is kissed; and Tertullian (z), addressing the Heathens in his time, thus bespeaks them, most of you, out of an affectation of worshipping the celestial bodies at the rising of the sun, move and quaver your lips; hence kissing is used for the worship of the Son of God, Psalm 2:12. Some read the words, "let those that sacrifice a man (a) kiss the calves"; as if it respected the abominable practice of sacrificing men to Mo; or intimated that men were sacrificed to the calves at Bethel.

(s) In Verrem, l. 4. Orat. 9. c. 13. (t) Metamorphos. sive de Asino Auero, l. 4. p. 60. (u) Octavius, p. 2.((w) Nat. Hist. l. 28. c. 2.((x) Apuleii Apolog. p. 226. (y) . (z) Apolog. c. 16. (a) "immolatores hominem, vel immolantes homines", Vatablus; "sacrificantes hominem", Montanus, Calvin, Schmidt; so some in Abenda. The Septuagint and Vulgate Latin render it as an imperative, "sacrifice men"; and the Syriac version, "O ye that sacrifice men".

And now they sin more and more, and have made them molten images of their silver, and idols according to their own understanding, all of it the work of the craftsmen: they say of them, {d} Let the men that sacrifice kiss the calves.

(d) Let the men that sacrifice or while they sacrifice men. The false prophets persuaded the idolaters to offer their children after the example of Abraham, and he shows how they would exhort one another to the same, and to kiss and worship these calves which were their idols.

2. And now, &c.] The present race is no better; they go on adding to their guilt.

idols according to their own understanding] Sarcastically. Sept., Targ., Vulg., however, read ‘according to the pattern of idols’ (there could be no art, then, in these repetitions of archaic images).

they say of them, &c.] This part of the verse is very difficult; it will be best to clear up first the meaning of the closing words. There are two rival renderings, ‘sacrificers of men, they kiss calves’ (so substantially the Sept., the Vulg., Rashi, Aben Ezra, Calvin, Horsley, Kuenen), and human sacrificers, they kiss calves (so Kimchi and many moderns). Either rendering implies a strong touch of sarcasm. In the first case, it is the strange perversity of slaying men and kissing calves which the prophet lashes; in the second, the affront to human reason in doing homage to dumb animals. The objection to the former explanation is the fact that human sacrifices were not, so far as we know, offered to the calf- or rather steer-gods, and indeed were hardly known in the land of Israel before the time of Ahaz (2 Kings 16:3). Besides, would the prophet have referred to such abominable cruelty in such a casual way, more, as has been well said, in a vein of satire than of indignation? Now let us turn to the opening words of the sentence. The parallelism in this and the following verse is so thoroughly carried out, that for symmetry’s sake we can hardly help rendering, unto such [the idols] do they speak. The sarcasm is as manifest here as in the following words; what can be more absurd than to address vows and prayers to the worshippers’ own handiwork, to things ‘which have mouths, and speak not.’ The objection is, that the meaning ‘speak’ is not a common one for ’âmar (properly ‘to say’), but Psalm 4:5 shows that the verb in question may be used absolutely, even in classical Hebrew. It is possible however that there is a corruption, and that we should read, for instance, for ‘speak’ (or ‘say’), ‘burn incense.’

kiss] ‘Kiss’, viz. as a sign of adoration or homage, by a transition like that in the usage of προσκυνέω. So whenever (a) idols, or (b) supposed divine beings, or (c) kings are referred to; comp. (a) 1 Kings 19:18, (b) Job 31:27, (c) Psalm 2:12 (Genesis 41:40; 1 Samuel 10:1 can hardly be quoted here). The ‘kiss’ of adoration consisted sometimes, as in Job l.c., in kissing the hand towards the idol (comp. προσκυνέω again). For the kiss of homage, comp. the Assyrian phrase ‘they kissed my feet.’

the calves] i.e., the small images of an ox, such as are referred to in 1 Kings 12:28.

Verse 2. - And now they sin more and more (margin, add to sin), and have made them molten images of their silver, and idols according to their own understanding, all of it the work of the craftsmen. This part of the verse declares their persistent adherence to idolatry. The note of time, "and now," marks the transition from the past period, when Baal-worship had been introduced by Ahab and subsequently overturned by Jehu, to the prophet's own day. Not content with the calves of Jeroboam and the worship of Baal, they added new superstitions and new hideous objects of worship. מַסֵּכָה, a molten image, like the molten calf of Aaron, is singular, but used collectively, so as to correspond with עֲעַבִּים, idols, which is plural. The reference here is,

(1) not to the calves or to Baal, but to various other idols which they had adopted, as at Gilgal and Beersheba (Amos 8:14). Or,

(2) not content with the calves, they introduced gods of their own as their penates. The material out of which these molten images were manufactured was silver. Kimchi, however, gives a curious explanation in proof that the material was gold: "The calves," he says, "were not silver, but he means to say that, of the silver which they each one gave to procure gold to make the calves, they made for themselves idols according to their understanding; and these were the calves." The manner in which they made these idols was

(1) in their understanding, that is, in their understanding, such as it was, so stupidly employed in such sensuous work, or their proficiency in the art of graving. Kimchi explains it somewhat differently: "The explanation of בתבונם is, 'As if they had carefully reflected on the matter what form they should give it, and then had agreed to make a calf, as they did in the wilderness.'" The reading of the word בתי is disputed, but without sufficient ground. No doubt the Septuagint, which is followed by the Chaldee, Arabic, and Jerome, probably read כִּתְבוּנַת rad בנה, to build, like תַּבְנִית, figure, or כִּתְמוּנַת; for they translate

(2) according to the likeness or fashion of idols; while some manuscripts of Kennicott and De Rossi present

(3) the reading כִּבְבוּנַם, according to their understanding, their own peculiar notions or fancy, and not as Moses, who made everything after the pattern showed him in the mount. The full form would be בִּתְבוּנֶתָם, but the feminine form is shortened before the suffix, like מִדָּה for מִדָתָה (Job 11:9); and פִנָהּ for פִּנָתָתּ (Proverbs 7:8); צוּרָם for צוּרָתָם (Psalm 49:15). Some suppose it from a masculine form, תְּבוּן, of the same meaning. The defect of this man-made god is expressed by its being all of it the work of the craftsmen, without any element of sense, spirit, or divinity in it. On which Kimchi has well observed: "The whole calf is the work of the hands of the craftsman; there is nothing spiritual in it; as he says, 'There is no breath at all in the midst of it' (Habakkuk 2:19)." They say of them, Let the men that sacrifice (margin, the sacrificers of men) kiss the calves. The best explanation of this difficult clause is, in our opinion,

(1) that of Keil. His translation, though slightly different from that of the Authorized Version, has the same general import; thus: "Of them (the 'atsabbim, idols) they say, viz. 'the sacrificers from among men' equivalent to 'the men who sacrifice,' Let them worship calves. By the apposition zobheche 'adam, and the fact that the object 'agalim is placed first, so that it stands in immediate contrast to 'adam, the absurdity of men kissing calves, i.e. worshipping them with kisses (see at 1 Kings 19:18), is painted, as it were, before the eyes." As parallel to zobheche 'adam, comp. evyone 'adam (Isaiah 29:19). Several eminent modern commentators give the same or a similar explanation, with the exception that, instead of translating לָהֶם, "of them," i.e. the idols, as Keil does. They translate it "to them," i.e. the idol-worshippers. Kimchi in the main favors this explanation; he says, "On their account (i.e. on account of the calves) the priests of the calf say to the people who come to offer sacrifice: by the זי אי he means: whoever of the children of men that wish to offer, 'Let them kiss the calves on their mouth; for their worship shall not be perfect until they shall kiss them,' for so was their custom." But

(2) many of the older interpreters among the Hebrews, as also Jerome, Cyril, and Theodoret among Christians, refer the expression to human sacrifices, thus: "Sacrificing men, they kiss, that is, adore, calves." The explanation according to this view, as given by Schmid, is to the following purport: "To these who now worship many idols, and among them Moloch, to whom they even sacrifice men, those the fathers of such as only worshipped the calves or Baal, would say, if they were alive, 'Let those who sacrifice men give over such cruel sacrifice, and rather kiss calves as we did.'" Rashi's comment is: "The idol priests say to Israel, 'He that sacrifices his son to idols is worthy to kiss the calf, for he has presented to him a pleasant gift.' So have our rabbins in (the tract) Sanhedrin explained, and it suits the text of Scripture bettor than the translation of Jonathan;" while that of Aben Ezra is as follows: "To them say the sons of men, in order to mock them [kiss the calves], because they kiss Baalim which are the images of calves, as 'And every month that has not kissed trim' (1 Kings 19:17), while they shed innocent blood, and this is, ' And his blood shall he leave upon him' (Hosea 12:15). And lo! he has reversed the manner of' every man, for man kisses man who is his fellow, and slays calves for his food." The method of kissing the hand in worship is attested by the derivation of the word adore, from ad and os; while in Job 31:27 we read of homage thus rendered: "Or my mouth hath kissed my hand: this also were an iniquity to be punished by the judge." The Septuagint, (3, as if reading זִבְהוּ for zobheche,' and ישקטין, instead of ישקון, translate by, "They say, 'Sacrifice (θύσατε) men, for the calves have come to an end' [or, 'failed,' ἐκλελοίπασι]." "Thus," says Jerome, in explanation, "is shown the greed of demons, who are nourished on the blood of victims, that, when victims raft, they desire men to be sacrificed to them." Hosea 13:2Because Israel would not desist from its idolatry, and entirely forgot the goodness of its God, He would destroy its might and glory (Hosea 13:1-8). Because it did not acknowledge the Lord as its help, its throne would be annihilated along with its capital; but this judgment would become to all that were penitent a regeneration to newness of life. Hosea 13:1. "When Ephraim spake, there was terror; he exalted himself in Israel; then he offended through Baal, and died. Hosea 13:2. And now they continue to sin, and make themselves molten images out of their silver, idols according to their understanding: manufacture of artists is it all: they say of them, Sacrificers of men: let them kiss calves." In order to show how deeply Israel had fallen through its apostasy, the prophet points to the great distinction which the tribe of Ephraim formerly enjoyed among the tribes of Israel. The two clauses of Hosea 13:1 cannot be so connected together as that נשׂא should be taken as a continuation of the infinitive דּבּר. The emphatic הוּא is irreconcilable with this. We must rather take רתת (ἁπ. λεγ., in Aramaean equals רטט, Jeremiah 49:24, terror, tremor) as the apodosis to kedabbēr 'Ephraim (when Ephraim spake), like שׂאת in Genesis 4:7 : "As Ephraim spake there was terror," i.e., men listened with fear and trembling (cf. Job 29:21). נשׂא is used intransitively, as in Nahum 1:5; Psalm 89:10. Ephraim, i.e., the tribe of Ephraim, "exalted itself in Israel," - not "it was distinguished among its brethren" (Hitzig), but "it raised itself to the government." The prophet has in his mind the attempts made by Ephraim to get the rule among the tribes, which led eventually to the secession of the ten tribes from the royal family of David, and the establishment of the kingdom of Israel by the side of that of Judah. When Ephraim had secured this, the object of its earnest endeavours, it offended through Baal; i.e., not only through the introduction of the worship of Baal in the time of Ahab (1 Kings 16:31.), but even through the establishment of the worship of the calves under Jeroboam (1 Kings 12:28), through which Jehovah was turned into a Baal. ויּמת, used of the state or kingdom, is equivalent to "was given up to destruction" (cf. Amos 2:2). The dying commenced with the introduction of the unlawful worship (cf. 1 Kings 12:30). From this sin Ephraim (the people of the ten tribes) did not desist: they still continue to sin, and make themselves molten images, etc., contrary to the express prohibition in Leviticus 19:4 (cf. Exodus 20:4). These words are not merely to be understood as signifying, that they added other idolatrous images in Gilgal and Beersheba to the golden calves (Amos 8:14); but they also involve their obstinate adherence to the idolatrous worship introduced by Jeroboam (compare 2 Kings 17:16). בּתבוּדם from תּבוּנה, with the feminine termination dropped on account of the suffix (according to Ewald, 257, d; although in the note Ewald regards this formation as questionable, and doubts the correctness of the reading): "according to their understanding," i.e., their proficiency in art.

The meaning of the second hemistich, which is very difficult, depends chiefly upon the view we take of זבחי אדם, viz., whether we render these words "they who sacrifice men," as the lxx, the fathers, and many of the rabbins and Christian expositors have done; or "the sacrificers of (among) men," as Kimchi, Bochart, Ewald, and others do, after the analogy of אביוני אדם in Isaiah 29:19. Apart from this, however, zōbhechē 'âdâm cannot possibly be taken as an independent sentence, such as "they sacrifice men," or "human sacrificers are they," unless with the lxx we change the participle זבחי arbitrarily into the perfect זבחוּ. As the words read, they must be connected with what follows or with what precedes. But if we connect them with what follows, we fail to obtain any suitable thought, whether we render it "human sacrificers (those who sacrifice men) kiss calves," or "the sacrificers among men kiss calves." The former is open to the objection that human sacrifices were not offered to the calves (i.e., to Jehovah, as worshipped under the symbol of a calf), but only to Moloch, and that the worshippers of Moloch did not kiss calves. The latter, "men who offer sacrifice kiss calves," might indeed be understood in this sense, that the prophet intended thereby to denounce the great folly, that men should worship animals; but this does not suit the preceding words הם אמרים, and it is impossible to see in what sense they could be employed. There is no other course left, therefore, than to connect Zōbhechē 'âdâm with what precedes, though not in the way proposed by Ewald, viz., "even to these do sacrificers of men say." This rendering is open to the following objections: (1) that הם after להם would have to be taken as an emphatic repetition of the pronoun, and we cannot find any satisfactory ground for this; and, (2) what is still more important, the fact that 'âmâr would be used absolutely, in the sense of "they speak in prayer," which, even apart from the "prayer," cannot be sustained by any other analogous example. These difficulties vanish if we take Zōbhechē 'âdâm as an explanatory apposition to hēm: "of them (the ‛ătsabbı̄m) they say, viz., the sacrificers from among men (i.e., men who sacrifice), Let them worship calves." By the apposition zōbhechē 'âdâm, and the fact that the object ‛ăgâlı̄m is placed first, so that it stands in immediate contrast to 'âdâm, the absurdity of men kissing calves, i.e., worshipping them with kisses (see at 1 Kings 19:18), is painted as it were before the eye.

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