Hosea 14:6
His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, and his smell as Lebanon.
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14:4-8 Israel seeks God's face, and they shall not seek it in vain. His anger is turned from them. Whom God loves, he loves freely; not because they deserve it, but of his own good pleasure. God will be to them all they need. The graces of the Spirit are the hidden manna, hidden in the dew; the grace thus freely bestowed on them shall not be in vain. They shall grow upward, and be more flourishing; shall grow as the lily. The lily, when come to its height, is a lovely flower, Mt 6:28,29. They shall grow downward, and be more firm. With the flower of the lily shall be the strong root of the cedar of Lebanon. Spiritual growth consists most in the growth of the root, which is out of sight. They shall also spread as the vine, whose branches extend very widely. When believers abound in good works, then their branches spread. They shall be acceptable both to God and man. Holiness is the beauty of a soul. The church is compared to the vine and the olive, which bring forth useful fruits. God's promises pertain to those only that attend on his ordinances; not such as flee to this shadow only for shelter in a hot gleam, but all who dwell under it. When a man is brought to God, all who dwell under his shadow fare the better. The sanctifying fruits shall appear in his life. Thus believers grow up into the experience and fruitfulness of the gospel. Ephraim shall say, God will put it into his heart to say it, What have I to do any more with idols! God's promises to us are more our security and our strength for mortifying sin, than our promises to God. See the power of Divine grace. God will work such a change in him, that he shall loathe the idols as much as ever he loved them. See the benefit of sanctified afflictions. Ephraim smarted for his idolatry, and this is the fruit, even the taking away his sin, Isa 27:9. See the nature of repentance; it is a firm and fixed resolution to have no more to do with sin. The Lord meets penitents with mercy, as the father of the prodigal met his returning son. God will be to all true converts both a delight and a defence; they shall sit under his shadow with delight. And as the root of a tree; From me is thy fruit found: from Him we receive grace and strength to enable us to do our duty.I will be as the dew unto Israel - Before, He had said, "his spring shall become dry and his fountain shall be dried up" Hosea 13:15. Now again He enlarges the blessing; their supply shall be unfailing, for it shall be from God; yea, God Himself shall be that blessing; "I will be the dew; descending on the mown grass" Psalm 72:6, to quicken and refresh it; descending, Himself, into the dried and parched and sere hearts of men, as He saith, "We will come unto him and make Our abode in him" John 14:23. The grace of God, like the dew, is not given once for all, but is, day by day, waited for, and, day by day, renewed. Yet doth it not pass away, like the fitful goodness John 6:4 of God's former people, but turns into the growth and spiritual substance of those on whom it descends.

He shall grow as the lily - No one image can exhibit the manifold grace of God in those who are His own, or the fruits of that grace. So the prophet adds one image to another, each supplying a distinct likeness of a distinct grace or excellence. The "lily" is the emblem of the beauty and purity of the soul in grace; the "cedar" of Lebanon, of its strength and deep-rootedness, its immovableness and uprightness; the evergreen "olive tree" which "remaineth in its beauty both winter and summer," of the unvarying presence of Divine Grace, continually, supplying an eversustained freshness, and issuing in fruit; and the fragrance of the aromatic plants with which the lower parts of Mount Lebanon are decked, of its loveliness and sweetness; as a native explains this , "he takes a second comparison from Mount Lebanon for the abundance of aromatic things and odoriferous flowers."

Such are the myrtles and lavender and the odoriferous reed; from which "as you enter the valley" (between Lebanon and Anti-lebanon) "straightway the scent meets you." All these natural things are established and well-known symbols of things spiritual. The lily, so called in Hebrew from its dazzling whiteness, is, in the Canticles Sol 2:1-2, the emblem of souls in which Christ takes delight. The lily multiplies exceedingly : yet hath it a weak root and soon fadeth. The prophet, then, uniteth with these, plants of unfading green, and deep root. The seed which "had no root," our Lord says, "withered away" Matthew 13:6, as contrariwise, Paul speaks of these, who are "rooted and grounded in love" Ephesians 3:17, and of being "rooted and built up in Christ" Colossians 2:7. The widespreading branches are an emblem of the gradual growth and enlargement of the Church, as our Lord says, "It becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof" Matthew 13:32.

The symmetry of the tree and its outstretched arms express, at once, grace and protection. Of the "olive" the Psalmist says, "I am like a green olive tree in the house Of God" Psalm 52:8; and Jeremiah says, "The Lord called thy name a green olive tree, fair and of goodly fruit" Jeremiah 11:16; and of "fragrance" the spouse says in the Canticles, "because of the savor of Thy good ointments, Thy name is as ointment poured forth" Sol 1:3; and the Apostle says, "thanks be to God, which maketh manifest the savor of His knowledge by us in every place" 2 Corinthians 2:14. Deeds of charity also are "an odor of good smell" Philippians 4:18; the prayers of the saints also are "sweet odors" Revelation 5:8. All these are the fruits of the Spirit of God who says, "I will be as the dew unto Israel." Such reunion of qualities, being beyond nature, suggests the more, that, that, wherein they are all combined, the future Israel, the Church, shall flourish with graces beyond nature, in their manifoldness, completeness, unfadingness.

6. branches—shoots, or suckers.

beauty … as the olive—which never loses its verdure. One plant is not enough to express the graces of God's elect people. The lily depicts its lovely growth; but as it wants duration and firmness, the deeply rooted cedars of Lebanon are added; these, however, are fruitless, therefore the fruitful, peace-bearing, fragrant, ever green olive is added.

smell as Lebanon—which exhaled from it the fragrance of odoriferous trees and flowers. So Israel's name shall be in good savor with all (Ge 27:27; So 4:11).

His branches, his tenderest branches which are new sprung out, shall gather strength, not be broken off, but by these shall they multiply in number of boughs.

Shall spread; grow great and beautiful, and excellent for shade.

As the olive tree; which retains its verdure all the winter, and is rich in fruit; so the true Israel of God shall flourish, pot in fruitless beauty and stateliness, but in desirable and lovely fruit, even in winters of affliction and troubles.

As Lebanon; the mountain famous for cedars, where also were the trees that afford the frankincense, which sweat out that excellent aromatic, and where many more sweetest flowers grow and perfume the air; such shall the spiritual fragrance of the church be to God and man.

His branches shall spread,.... As the well rooted cedars in Lebanon; see Numbers 24:6. This respects the propagation of the church of God, and the interest of Christ in the world, as in the first times of the Gospel, and will be in the latter day; when the Gospel shall be spread everywhere; churches set up in all places; the Jews converted, and the fulness of the Gentiles brought in; and these like spreading branches, and fruitful boughs, abounding in grace and good works. The Targum is,

"they shall multiply or increase with sons and daughters:''

and his beauty shall be as the olive tree; which lies in its being laden with excellent fruit, and being always green; for which reasons particular believers, and the whole church of God, are sometimes compared to it; having that fatness in them, with which God and men are honoured; and that true grace, which is signified by oil in the vessels of the heart, and is called the unction and anointing of the Holy One; and they persevering in this grace to the end, which is evergreen and durable, immortal, and dies not; see Psalm 52:8. Here again it may be observed, that the trees of Lebanon, though they had strong roots, and spreading branches, yet were not fruitful; and the deficiency of that metaphor is supplied by this of the olive:

and his smell as Lebanon; as the trees of Lebanon, the cedars, trees of frankincense, and other odoriferous trees and plants, which grew upon it; here what is wanting in the olive tree, whose smell is not so grateful, is made up by this simile of the trees of Lebanon, and the smell of them; which may denote the sweet and grateful smell the Lord smells in his people, or his gracious acceptance of them in Christ; whose garments of righteousness and salvation on them are as the smell of Lebanon; and whose graces in them exceed the smell of all spices; and whose prayers are odours, and their praises a sacrifice of a sweet smelling savour to God; see Sol 4:10. Some render it, "as incense" (d) called "lebonah" in Hebrew, from whence the mountain is thought to have its name, frankincense growing upon it. So the Targum,

"and their smell as the smell of the incense of spices.''

Jarchi says, as the sanctuary, which was made of the cedars of Lebanon.

(d) "Ut thuris", Grotius.

His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, and his smell as Lebanon.
6. I will be as the dew] Rather, as the night-mist, i.e. the masses of vapour (Hebr. tal) brought by the damp westerly winds of summer (see on Hosea 6:4). ‘In the strict scientific sense of the word, this is rain, and not dew at all, since the vapour becomes condensed in the air before touching the ground’ (Neil, Palestine Explored, p. 135). The promise comes very appropriately after the ‘I will heal’ of Hosea 14:4. The baleful effects of the sirocco are often felt in Palestine during the rainless heat of summer, but by the beautiful provision of night-mist all hardy forms of vegetable life are preserved. But to the ‘east-wind’ described in Hosea 13:15 there was no such counteracting force. A ‘dew’ (‘night-mist’) of supernatural energy (like Gideon’s) was required to vivify that which Assyria had destroyed—what another prophet calls (Isaiah 26:19) ‘a dew of lights’, i.e. an influence from the divine Light, could alone undo so complete a catastrophe. Observe how nearly coincident are the conceptions of land and people in Hosea’s mind (see on Hosea 2:3).

grow [blossom] as the lily] So Sir 39:14. The image suggests the ideas of profusion and beauty. There is nothing to bind us down to any single individual of the lily species. Indeed, the application of the Hebrew shôshan was probably as wide as that of the Arabic sûsan still is, if we may argue from the mention of ‘lilies [oleanders?] by the rivers of waters’ in Sir 50:8. Dr Thomson’s ‘Hûleh lily’, which abounds in the woods north of Tabor (The Land and the Book, p. 256), is at least as likely a flower to be meant as any other. Dr Tristram prefers the not less gorgeous than abundant Anemone coronaria (Nat. Hist. of Bible, p. 464).

and cast forth] Lit., ‘and let it strike.’ A change of the verbal form for the sake of colour and variety.

as Lebanon] The slender roots of the lily supply no fit image for stability; for this Hosea turns to the ‘cedars of God’ (Psalm 80:10, A. V. ‘goodly cedars’), or perhaps he means the mountains of Lebanon themselves (for the ‘roots’ of a mountain, comp. Job 28:9).

6. His branches shall spread] For ‘branches’ render saplings. It is the same word as in Isaiah 53:2 (where A. V. ‘tender branch’). There the prophet’s idea is that after Israel’s vine has been cut down, a slender plant will spring up from the root; here, that the root of the living tree shall send forth many fresh plants. In fact, Israel is to be like not merely a tree, but a garden.

as the olive-tree] Beautiful doubtless in itself, but with a beauty enhanced by the serviceableness of the fruits. Jeremiah compares Israel to ‘a fresh-green olive-tree, fair, and of goodly fruit’ (Jeremiah 11:16).

his smell as Lebanon] As the balsamic odour of the cedars and of aromatic shrubs. Comp. Song of Solomon 4:11.

Hosea 14:6"I will heal their apostasy, will love them freely: for my wrath has turned away from it. Hosea 14:5. I will be like dew for Israel: it shall blossom like the lily, and strike its roots like Lebanon. Hosea 14:6. Its shoots shall go forth, and its splendour shall become like the olive-tree, and its smell like Lebanon. Hosea 14:7. They that dwell in its shadow shall give life to corn again; and shall blossom like the vine: whose glory is like the wine of Lebanon. Hosea 14:8. Ephraim: What have I further with the idols? I hear, and look upon him: I, like a bursting cypress, in me is thy fruit found." The Lord promises first of all to heal their apostasy, i.e., all the injuries which have been inflicted by their apostasy from Him, and to love them with perfect spontaneity (nedâbhâh an adverbial accusative, promta animi voluntate), since His anger, which was kindled on account of its idolatry, had now turned away from it (mimmennū, i.e., from Israel). The reading mimmennı̄ (from me), which the Babylonian Codices have after the Masora, appears to have originated in a misunderstanding of Jeremiah 2:35. This love of the Lord will manifest itself in abundant blessing. Jehovah will be to Israel a refreshing, enlivening dew (cf. Isaiah 26:19), through which it will blossom splendidly, strike deep roots, and spread its shoots far and wide. "Like the lily:" the fragrant white lily, which is very common in Palestine, and grows without cultivation, and "which is unsurpassed in its fecundity, often producing fifty bulbs from a single root" (Pliny h. n. xxi. 5). "Strike roots like Lebanon," i.e., not merely the deeply rooted forest of Lebanon, but the mountain itself, as one of the "foundations of the earth" (Micah 6:2). The deeper the roots, the more the branches spread and cover themselves with splendid green foliage, like the evergreen and fruitful olive-tree (Jeremiah 11:16; Psalm 52:10). The smell is like Lebanon, which is rendered fragrant by its cedars and spices (Sol 4:11). The meaning of the several features in the picture has been well explained by Rosenmller thus: "The rooting indicates stability: the spreading of the branches, propagation and the multitude of inhabitants; the splendour of the olive, beauty and glory, and that constant and lasting; the fragrance, hilarity and loveliness." In Hosea 14:7 a somewhat different turn is given to the figure. The comparison of the growth and flourishing of Israel to the lily and to a tree, that strikes deep roots and spreads its green branches far and wide, passes imperceptibly into the idea that Israel is itself the tree beneath whose shade the members of the nation flourish with freshness and vigour. ישׁוּבוּ is to be connected adverbially with יהיּוּ. Those who sit beneath the shade of Israel, the tree that is bursting into leaf, will revive corn, i.e., cause it to return to life, or produce it for nourishment, satiety, and strengthening. Yea, they themselves will sprout like the vine, whose remembrance is, i.e., which has a renown, like the wine of Lebanon, which has been celebrated from time immemorial (cf. Plin. h. n. xiv. 7; Oedmann, Verbm. Sammlung aus der Naturkunde, ii. p. 193; and Rosenmller, Bibl. Althk. iv. 1, p. 217). The divine promise closes in Hosea 14:9 with an appeal to Israel to renounce idols altogether, and hold fast by the Lord alone as the source of its life. Ephraim is a vocative, and is followed immediately by what the Lord has to say to Ephraim, so that we may supply memento in thought. מה־לּי עוד לע, what have I yet to do with idols? (for this phrase, compare Jeremiah 2:18); that is to say, not "I have now to contend with thee on account of the idols (Schmieder), nor "do not place them by my side any more" (Ros.); but, "I will have nothing more to do with idols," which also implies that Ephraim is to have nothing more to do with them. To this there is appended a notice of what God has done and will do for Israel, to which greater prominence is given by the emphatic אני: I, I hearken (‛ânı̄thı̄ a prophetic perfect), and look upon him. שׁוּר, to look about for a person, to be anxious about him, or care for him, as in Job 24:15. The suffix refers to Ephraim. In the last clause, God compares Himself to a cypress becoming green, not only to denote the shelter which He will afford to the people, but as the true tree of life, on which the nation finds its fruits - a fruit which nourishes and invigorates the spiritual life of the nation. The salvation which this promise sets before the people when they shall return to the Lord, is indeed depicted, according to the circumstances and peculiar views prevailing under the Old Testament, as earthly growth and prosperity; but its real nature is such, that it will receive a spiritual fulfilment in those Israelites alone who are brought to belief in Jesus Christ.
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