Hosea 13:8
I will meet them as a bear that is bereaved of her whelps, and will rend the caul of their heart, and there will I devour them like a lion: the wild beast shall tear them.
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(8) The same imagery is continued to describe the destructive wrath of the Lord. “The caul of the heart” means here the covering of the heart, not the pericardium, but the breast in which the claws of the beast are fastened.

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.As a bear bereaved of her whelps - The Syrian bear is fiercer than the brown bears to which we are accustomed. It attacks flocks 1 Samuel 17:34, and even oxen . The fierceness of the she-bear, "bereaved of her whelps," became a proverb (2 Samuel 17:8; Proverbs 17:12; and here). : "They who have written on the nature of wild beasts, say that none is more savage than the she-bear, when she has lost her whelps or lacks food." It blends wonderfully most touching love and fierceness. It tenderly protects its wounded whelps, reckless of its life, so that it may bring them off, and it turns fiercely on their destroyer. Its love for them becomes fury against their injurer. Much more shall God avenge those who destroy His sons and daughters, leading and enticing them into sin and destruction of body and soul.

Rend the caul of - (what encloses) their heart that is, the pericardium. They had closed their hearts against God. Their punishment is pictured by the rending open of the closed heart, by the lion which is said to go instinctively straight to the heart, tears it out, and sucks the blood . Fearful will it be in the Day of Judgment, when the sinner's heart is laid open, with all the foul, cruel, malicious, defiled, thoughts which it harbored and concealed, against the will of God. "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" Hebrews 10:31.

And there will I devour them - "There," where they sinned, shall they be punished. "The wild beast shall tear them." What God does, He does mostly through instruments, and what His instruments do, they do fulfilling His will through their own blind will or appetite. Hitherto, He had spoken, as being Himself their punisher, although laying aside, as it were, all His tenderness; now, lest the thought, that still it was He, the God of love who punished, should give them hope, He says, "the wild beast shall devour them." He gives them up, as it were, out of His own hands to the destroyer.

8. "Writers on the natures of beasts say that none is more savage than a she bear, when bereaved of her whelps" [Jerome].

caul of … heart—the membrane enclosing it: the pericardium.

there—"by the way" (Ho 13:7).

I will meet them; I know their haunts, their walks, I will not fail to meet them there.

As a bear bereaved of her whelps; robbed of her whelps, newly taken away, which makes her mad with rage; so great rage is proverbially expressed. Proverbs 17:12.

Will rend the caul of their heart; first kill, next tear in pieces, pull out the very heart: it is probable this fierce creature may by instinct hasten to tear up the prey, that it may drink the blood before it run to waste.

There will I devour them, where I find them and seize them, like the hungry and fearless lion, which feasts on his prey where he caught it, draws it not into his den, but devoureth it immediately.

Like a lion; an old lion, that hath his great teeth, his grinders, and hath still whelps, Genesis 49:9; fierce and terrible, that will either call in his whelps to divide the prey, or drag the prey to his den for them: and what hope of any thing to be spared, when you fall into such hands?

The wild beast shall tear them: it is said of the lion, that he calls by his roaring the wild beasts together to the prey when he hath taken it; so you shall be devoured by the whole troop of wild beasts. Or it may be a general threat added to those particular ones before, every wild beast shall prey upon them. All this God executed on them by the Assyrians, who in their fierceness, cruelty, greediness, and courage answered the character here given to them: the particular resemblances I leave to any, who may easily suit them.

I will meet them as a bear that is bereaved of her whelps,.... Which is a fierce cruel creature at any time, but especially when this is its case, being very fond of its whelps; and having taken a great deal of pains to lick them into form, as Kimchi and Ben Melech observe, it is the more enraged at the loss of them, and therefore falls upon man or beast it meets with the utmost fury: the phrase is expressive of the fiercest rage; see Proverbs 17:12;

and will rend the caul of their hearts: the pericardium, which is a membrane or skin that encloses the heart, and which when pierced is immediate death: perhaps some respect is had to the closing of their hearts to God, the hardness of them against him and his ways, and their inattention to his word; and now he will open them, not in a way of grace and mercy, but of wrath and fury; as a bear, when it seizes a man, sticks his claws in his breast, tears it open, and makes his way at once to the heart, fetches it out, and sucks his blood:

and there will I devour them like a lion; either in their cities and houses, when taken by the enemy; or in the way, in which they would be observed; or in their captivity: or there may be put for then, and so denotes the time when he would be all this to them before mentioned, and then he would utterly destroy them:

the wild beast shall tear them: which literally is one of God's sore judgments, but here figuratively designs the Assyrian, and who is meant as the instrument of God's vengeance in all the other expressions; and is sometimes compared to a lion, and that as concerned with Israel; see Jeremiah 50:17; which is much better than by these four sorts of creatures to understand the four monarchies which Israel suffered by. The Targum is,

"my word shall meet them as a bear bereaved, and I will break the wickedness of their hearts, &c.''

I will meet them as a bear that is bereaved of her whelps, and will rend the caul of their heart, and there will I devour them like a lion: the wild beast shall tear them.
8. as a dear] A striking but uncommon comparison. Comp. Lamentations 3:10.

the caul of their heart] Rather, the enclosure of their heart, i.e., not the pericardium, which is what the Authorized Version appears to have supposed, but the breast.

as a lion] Most render, as a lioness; but this is at any rate uncertain. There is nothing as in Job 4:11 specially to suggest the female. The masculine undoubtedly occurs in Psalm 57:5 (Hebr.). The root-idea is probably voracity; but unfortunately there is no cognate in Assyrian. The numerous words for lion in Hebrew are as trouble-some to express in English, as the translators of the Sept. found them in Greek (Sept. here has σκύμνοι δρυμοῦ).

Verse 8. - I will meet them as a bear that is bereaved of her whelps, and will rend the caul of their heart. The noun דֹב is epicene, that is, the one form serves for both genders, as here the masculine includes the feminine, and is used as such. Of all animals, Jerome says, the she-bear is the fiercest, either when robbed of her whelps or in want of food. Seghor being that which encloses the heart, is either the pericardium, the immediate and proper enclosure of the heart, or the breast itself. The reference is to a beast of prey which seizes its victim by the breast and tears it open, so that the heart is exposed. The verb פגש is akin to פגע, the meaning of the root-syllable פג, to meet, strike, being the same in both. Such is the continuation of the picture of the threatened punishment. The picture of the severity of the Divine judgment here presented is very terrible. Kimchi remarks on this picture: "A bear robbed, whose young ones they have slain, which is bereft and bitter in spirit, if it find man or beast rends it speedily." Some understand the verse figuratively, as though it meant "'I will rend their obstinate heart,' the enclosure of the heart being equivalent to a shut or obstinate heart, as, in ver. 5 of this same chapter, 'a land of drought' is pretty much the same as 'a dry or parched land.' Thus the Chaldee translates, 'I have broken the wickedness of their heart.'" And there will I devour them like a lion: the wild beast shall tear them. Sham there refers

(1) to 'al-derekh of the preceding verse; or,

(2) as Kimchi explains it, as referring to their cities: "There in their cities shall I destroy them by pestilence and by the sword of the enemy, like the lion that teareth without pity;" or,

(3) more simply still, "there on the spot." The ֵשחִת, equivalent to אתָּה, is the wild beast as opposed to בִי, domestic animals. While some were to be destroyed by famine and pestilence, others would perish by the wild beast of the field. "Also," says Kimchi, "shall the wild beast of the field rend them outside (i.e. outside their cities), as, ' I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children, and destroy your cattle, and make you few in number.'" Hosea 13:8"And I became like a lion to them; as a leopard by the wayside do I lie in wait. Hosea 13:8. I fall upon them as a bear robbed of its young, and tear in pieces the enclosure of their heart, and eat them there like a lioness: the beast of the field will tear them in pieces." The figure of the pasture which made Israel full (Hosea 13:6) is founded upon the comparison of Israel to a flock (cf. Hosea 4:16). The chastisement of the people is therefore represented as the tearing in pieces and devouring of the fattened flock by wild beasts. God appears as a lion, panther, etc., which fall upon them (cf. Hosea 5:14). ואהי does not stand for the future, but is the preterite, giving the consequence of forgetting God. The punishment has already begun, and will still continue; we have therefore from אשׁוּר onwards imperfects or futures. אשׁוּר, from שׁוּר, to look round, hence to lie in wait, as in Jeremiah 5:26. It is not to be changed into 'Asshur, as it is by the lxx and Vulgate. סגור לבּם, the enclosure of their heart, i.e., their breast. Shâm (there) points back to ‛al-derekh (by the way).
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