Hosea 13:5
I did know you in the wilderness, in the land of great drought.
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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.I did know thee in the wilderness - "God so knew them, as to deserve to be known by them. By "knowing" them, He shewed how He ought to be acknowledged by them." "As we love God, because He first loved us," so we come to know and own God, having first been owned and known of Him. God showed His knowledge of them, by knowing and providing for their needs; He knew them "in the wilderness, in the land of great drought," where the land yielded neither food nor water. He supplied them with the "bread from heaven" and with "water from the flinty rock." He knew and owned them all by His providence; He knew in approbation and love, and fed in body and soul those who, having been known by Him, knew and owned Him. : "No slight thing is it, that He, who knoweth all things and men, should, by grace, know us with that knowledge according to which He says to that one true Israelite, Moses, "thou hast found grace in My sight, and I know thee by name" Exodus 33:17. This we read to have been said to that one; but what He says to one, He says to all, whom now, before or since that time, He has chosen, being foreknown and predestinate, for He wrote the names of all in the book of life. All these elect are "known in the wilderness," in the land of loneliness, in the wilderness of this world, where no one ever saw God, in the solitude of the heart and the secret of hidden knowledge, where God alone, beholding the soul tried by temptations, exercises and proves it, and accounting it, when "running lawfully," worthy of His knowledge, professes that He "knew it." To those so known, or named, He Himself saith in the Gospel, "rejoice, because your names are written in heaven" Luke 10:20. 5. I did know thee—did acknowledge thee as Mine, and so took care of thee (Ps 144:3; Am 3:2). As I knew thee as Mine, so thou shouldest know no God but Me (Ho 13:4).

in … land of … drought—(De 8:15).

I did know, owned, took care of, guided, and supplied, thee, O Israel, in thy fathers,

in the wilderness; through which for forty years together thou wast moving, and foundest nothing for thy sustenance but what my miraculous goodness and power gave thee; through those many deserts thou never didst want.

In the land of great drought; in the parched sands, where were no refreshing showers, no rivers or springs of water, to suffice so many cattle and men; where thou wentest as it were through flames and on sands, scorching as embers of a fire, a place fit for none but fiery serpents, or salamanders (if any such). I did know thee in the wilderness,.... Where there were no food nor drink, where were scorpions, serpents, and beasts of prey; there the Lord knew them, owned them, and showed a fatherly affection for them, and care of them; and fed them with manna and quails, and guided and directed them in the way, and protected and preserved them from their enemies, and from all hurt and danger. So the Targum explains it,

"I sufficiently supplied their necessities in the wilderness:''

in the land of great drought; or, "of droughts" (c); the word is only used in this place; and is by Aben Ezra interpreted a dry and thirsty land; and so he says it signifies in the Arabic language and the same is observed by the father of Kimchi, and by R. Jonah (d); but is by some rendered "torrid" (e), or "inflamed", as if it had the signification of a Hebrew word which signifies a flame: and the Targum takes it to be akin to another, which signifies to "desire", rendering it,

"in a land in which thou desirest everything;''

that is, wants everything. The first seems best, and is a fit a description of the wilderness, which was a place of drought, wherein was no water, Deuteronomy 8:15.

(c) "an terra siccitatum", Vatablus, Drusius, Schmidt. (d) Apud R. Sol. Urbin. Ohel Moed. fol. 35. 1.((e) "In terra torridonum locorum", Montanus; "torridissima", Junius & Tremellius, Heb. "infammationum", Piscator.

I did know thee in the wilderness, in the land of great drought.
5. I did know, &c.] Better, It was I that knew, &c. ‘To know’=‘to take favourable notice of’, as Psalm 1:6 and often.

in the land of great drought] Or, ‘of burning thirst’ (the word occurs nowhere else). Comp. the description in Hosea 2:3.Verse 5. - I did know thee in the wilderness. The pronoun at the beginning of the verse is emphatic: As for me; or, I it was that knew thee. The meaning of the sentiment is: I acknowledged thee with kindness, with paternal care and kind providence watching over thee. "Thou shouldest gratefully acknowledge me," is the comment of Kimchi, "because I knew thee in the wilderness, and cared for thy necessity in the wilderness, in which there were no means of livelihood." In the land of great drought. The root of the word תַּלְאוּבֹת is לאב, unused in Hebrew, but signifying, in Arabic, "to burn, dry, be dry," akin to לָחַב. Aben Ezra correctly explains it to be "a dry and thirsty laud, and so in the Arabic language; and (that it is so called) on account of all hardships being in it, is the allegorical explanation and not the literal sense." Instead of a lengthened enumeration of all God's loving-kindnesses to Israel at the Exodus and during the desert wanderings, the prophet sums up all in the expressive, "the Lord thy God from the land of Egypt;" and "I it was that did know thee in the wilderness." It is as though he had said, "I pitied thee in the bondage and among the brick-kilns of Egypt; I brought thee forth with a strong hand and outstretched arm; I led thee through the wilderness; I relieved thee in thy straits; I gave thee bread from heaven to satisfy thy hunger, and water from the rock to quench thy thirst; I defended thee from enemies; nor did I relax my care till I gave thee the goodly laud of promise." "And I put away the names of the Baals out of her mouth, and they are no more remembered by their name." As soon as the nation ceases to call Jehovah Baal, the custom of taking the names of the Baals into its mouth ceases of itself. And when this also is mentioned here as the work of God, the thought is thereby expressed, that the abolition of polytheism and mixed religion is a work of that divine grace which renews the heart, and fills with such abhorrence of the coarser or more refined forms of idolatry, that men no longer dare to take the names of the idols into their lips. This divine promise rests upon the command in Exodus 23:13, "Ye shall make no mention of the names of other gods," and is repeated almost word for word in Zechariah 13:2.
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