Hosea 2:14
Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably to her.
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(14) Therefore.—This word does not make God’s gentle treatment a consequence of the sin of Israel. Some prefer to render by nevertheless, but the Hebrew word lakhēn is sometimes used in making strong transitions, linked, it is true, with what precedes, but not as an inference. (Comp. Isaiah 10:24.) Grace transforms her suffering into discipline. The exile in Babylon shall be a repetition of the experiences of the wilderness in which she was first espoused to Jehovah. There will I speak to her heart; i.e., comfortingly, lovingly.

Hosea 2:14-15. Therefore, behold, I will allure her — As there is a plain alteration of the style here from threatenings to promises, so the first word of this verse should be translated nevertheless, or notwithstanding. And bring her into the wilderness — Or, after I have brought her into the wilderness. The state of the Jews in captivity is elsewhere expressed by a wilderness state: see note on Ezekiel 20:35. It probably means here the dispersion of the ten tribes, after their first captivity by Shalmaneser, 2 Kings 17:6. And speak comfortably to her — In these words, and the preceding, I will allure her, there is an allusion to the practice of fond husbands, who, forgetting past offences, use all the arts of endearment to persuade their wives, who have parted from them, to return to them again. So God will use the most powerful persuasions to bring the Israelites to the acknowledgment of the truth, notwithstanding all their former abuses of the means of grace. The Hebrew here, דברתי על לבה, is literally, I will speak to her heart, that is, speak what shall touch her heart, in her outcast state in the wilderness of the Gentile world, by the proffers of mercy in the gospel. “For the doctrine of the gospels,” says Luther on this place, “is the true soothing speech, with which the minds of men are taken. For it terrifies not the soul, like the law, with severe denunciations of punishment; but although it reproves sin, it declares that God is ready to pardon sinners for the sake of his Son; and holds forth the sacrifice of the Son of God that the souls of sinners may be assured that satisfaction has been made by that to God.” And I will give her her vineyards from thence — Or, from that time, as the word משׂםmay be rendered: then I will restore her vineyards and fruitful fields which I had taken from her, Hosea 2:12 : or, from that place; or, in consequence of these things; in which senses also the original word is used. God declares that from and through the wilderness lies the road to a rich, fruitful country; that is, that the calamities of the dispersion, together with the soothing intimations of the gospel, by bringing the Jewish race to a right mind, will be the means of reinstating them in that wealth and prosperity which God hath ordained for them in their own land. And the valley of Achor — Or, of trouble, or tribulation, as the Hebrew word Achor signifies; for a door of hope — The passage alludes to “the vale near Jericho, where the Israelites, first setting foot within the holy land, were thrown into trouble and consternation by the daring theft of Achan. In memory of which, and of the tragical scene exhibited in that spot, in the execution of the sacrilegious peculator and his whole family, the place was called the vale of Achor, Joshua 7. And this vale of Achor, though a scene of trouble and distress, was a door of hope to the Israelites under Joshua; for there, immediately after the execution of Achan, God said to Joshua, Fear not, neither be thou dismayed, (Joshua 8:1,) and promised to support him against Ai, her king, and her people. And from this time Joshua drove on his conquests with uninterrupted success. In like manner the tribulations of the Jews, in their present dispersion, shall open to them the door of hope.” And there — That is, in the wilderness, and in the vale of tribulation, under those circumstances of present difficulty, mixed with cheering hope; she shall sing as in the days of her youth — She shall express her joy in God, as her forefathers did after their deliverance at the Red sea; when God espoused them for his peculiar people, and entered into a covenant with them at mount Sinai, where they solemnly promised an entire obedience to him. And, or rather, even, as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt — “This perpetual allusion to the exodus,” or coming out of Egypt, “to the circumstances of the march through the wilderness, and the first entrance into the holy land, plainly points the prophecy to a similar deliverance, by the immediate power of God, under that leader, of whom Moses was a type.” — Horsley.2:14-23 After these judgments the Lord would deal with Israel more gently. By the promise of rest in Christ we are invited to take his yoke upon us; and the work of conversion may be forwarded by comforts as well as by convictions. But usually the Lord drives us to despair of earthly joy, and help from ourselves, that, being shut from every other door, we may knock at Mercy's gate. From that time Israel would be more truly attached to the Lord; no longer calling him Baali, or My lord and master, alluding to authority, rather than love, but Ishi, an address of affection. This may foretell the restoration from the Babylonish captivity; and also be applied to the conversion of the Jews to Christ, in the days of the apostles, and the future general conversion of that nation; and believers are enabled to expect infinitely more tenderness and kindness from their holy God, than a beloved wife can expect from the kindest husband. When the people were weaned from idols, and loved the Lord, no creature should do them any harm. This may be understood of the blessings and privileges of the spiritual Israel, of every true believer, and their partaking of Christ's righteousness; also, of the conversion of the Jews to Christ. Here is an argument for us to walk so that God may not be dishonoured by us: Thou art my people. If a man's family walk disorderly, it is a dishonour to the master. If God call us children, we may say, Thou art our God. Unbelieving soul, lay aside discouraging thoughts; do not thus answer God's loving-kindness. Doth God say, Thou art my people? Say, Lord, thou art our God.Therefore - The inference is not what we should have expected. Sin and forgetfulness of God are not the natural causes of, and inducements to mercy. But God deals not with us, as we act one to another. Extreme misery and degradation revolt man; man's miseries invite God's mercies. God therefore has mercy, not because we deserve it, but because we need it. He therefore draws us, because we are so deeply sunken. He prepareth the soul by those harder means, and then the depths of her misery cry to the depths of His compassion, and because chastisement alone would stupify her, not melt her, He changes His wrath into mercy, and speaks to the heart which, for her salvation, He has broken.

I will allure her - The original word is used of one readily enticed, as a simple one, whether to good or ill. God uses, as it were, Satan's weapons against himself. As Satan had enticed the soul to sin, so would God, by holy enticements and persuasiveness, allure her to Himself. God too hath sweetnesses for the penitent soul, far above all the sweetnesses of present earthly joys; much more, above the bitter sweetnesses of sin.

I Myself will allure her - (Such is the emphasis). God would show her something of His Beauty, and make her taste of His Love, and give her some such glimpse of the joy of His good-pleasure, as should thrill her and make her, all her life long, follow after what had, as through the clouds, opened upon her.

And will bring her into the wilderness - God, when he brought Israel out of Egypt, led her apart from the pressure of her hard bondage, the sinful self-indulgences of Egypt and the abominations of their idolatries, into the wilderness, and there, away from the evil examples of the nation from which he drew her and of those whom she was to dispossess, He gave her His law, and taught her His worship, and brought her into covenant with Himself (see Ezekiel 20:34-36). So in the beginning of the Gospel, Christ allured souls by His goodness in His miracles, and the tenderness of His words, and the sweetness of His preaching and His promises, and the attractiveness of His sufferings, and the mighty manifestations of His Spirit. So is it with each penitent soul. God, by privation or suffering, turns her from her idols, from the turmoil of the world and its distractions, and speaks, Alone to her alone.

And speak to her heart - Literally, on her heart, making an impression on it, soothing it, in words which will dwell in it, and rest there. Thus within, not without, "He putteth His laws in the mind, and writeth them in the heart, not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God" Hebrews 8:10; 2 Corinthians 3:3. God speaks to the heart, so as to reach it, soften it, comfort it, tranquilize it, and, at the last, assure it. He shall speak to her, not as in Sinai, amid "blackness and darkness and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words, which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more Hebrews 12:18-19, but to the heart." But it is in solitude that he so speaks to the soul and is heard by her, warning, reproving, piercing, penetrating through every fold, until he reaches the very inmost heart and dwells there. And then he infuseth hope of pardon, kindleth love, enlighteneth faith, giveth feelings of child-like trust, lifteth the soul tremblingly to cleave to Him whose voice she has heard within her. Then His infinite Beauty touches the heart; His Holiness, Truth, mercy, penetrate the soul; in silence and stillness the soul learns to know itself and God, to repent of its sins, to conquer self; to meditate on God. "Come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you" 2 Corinthians 6:17.

: "Search we the Scriptures, and we shall find, that seldom or never hath God spoken in a multitude; but so often as he would have anything known to man, He shewed Himself, not to nations or people, but to individuals, or to very few, and those severed from the common concourse of people, or in the silence of the night, in fields or solitudes, in mountains or vallies. Thus He spake with Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Samuel, David, and all the prophets. Why is it, God always speaketh in secret, except that He would call us apart? Why speaketh He with a few, except to collect and gather us into one? In this solitude doth God speak to the soul, from the beginning of its conversion to the loneliness of death. Here the soul, which, overspread with darkness, knew neither God nor itself, learns with a pure heart to know God. Here, placed aloft, she sees all earthly things flee away beneath her, yea, herself also passing away in the sweeping tide of all passing things." Here she learns, and so unlearns her sins, sees and hates herself, sees and loves God. : Only "the solitude of the body availeth not, unless there be the solitude of the heart." And if God so speak to the penitent, much more to souls, who consecrate themselves wholly, cleave wholly to Him, meditate on Him. By His presence , "the soul is renewed, and cleaving, as it were, to Him, feels the sweetness of an inward taste, spiritual understanding, enlightening of faith, increase of hope, feeling of compassion, zeal for righteousness, delight in virtue. She hath in orison familiar converse with God, feeling that she is heard, and mostly answered: speaking face to face with God, and bearing what God speaketh in her, constraining God in prayer and sometimes prevailing."

14. Therefore—rather, "Nevertheless" [Henderson]. English Version gives a more lovely idea of God. That which would provoke all others to unappeasable wrath, Israel's perversity and consequent punishment, is made a reason why God should at last have mercy on her. As the "therefore" (Ho 2:9) expresses Israel's punishment as the consequence of Israel's guilt, so "therefore" here, as in Ho 2:6, expresses, that when that punishment has effected its designed end, the hedging up her way with thorns so that she returns to God, her first love, the consequence in God's wondrous grace is, He "speaks comfortably" (literally, "speaks to her heart"; compare Jud 19:8; Ru 2:13). So obstinate is she that God has to "allure her," that is, so to temper judgment with unlooked-for grace as to win her to His ways. For this purpose it was necessary to "bring her into the wilderness" (that is, into temporal want and trials) first, to make her sin hateful to her by its bitter fruits, and God's subsequent grace the more precious to her by the contrast of the "wilderness." Jerome makes the "bringing into the wilderness" to be rather a deliverance from her enemies, just as ancient Israel was brought into the wilderness from the bondage of Egypt; to this the phrase here alludes (compare Ho 2:15). The wilderness sojourn, however, is not literal, but moral: while still in the land of their enemies locally, by the discipline of the trial rendering the word of God sweet to them, they are to be brought morally into the wilderness state, that is, into a state of preparedness for returning to their temporal and spiritual privileges in their own land; just as the literal wilderness prepared their fathers for Canaan: thus the bringing of them into the wilderness state is virtually a deliverance from their enemies. Therefore: this particle seems to connect these following passages with those that went before, as causal, or giving a reason why God will do thus, and so are difficulter than if read as zkl might be, either as a particle that speaks order or time of things, and is as much as afterwards; so it will be easy, I will visit, &c., afterwards I will allure; first punish, next comfort: or else it may be adversative, as much as yet, or but; so it is plain, thus, She like an adulteress hath sinned, and I have punished; but, or yet, or notwithstanding,

I will allure: or else it is a particle that doth more strongly affirm; so rendered the place would be less obscure, thus,

I will destroy her vines, & c.; surely I will allure, &c.: thus zkl is used Jeremiah 5:2 Zechariah 11:7. Behold with attention, and wonder at the methods of Divine grace.

I will allure her; with kind words and kinder usage I will incline her mind to hear and consider what I propose; I will persuade by sweetest dealings, like a kind husband that makes use of the distresses of his disloyal wife to commend his love to her, to win her to himself, and to ways that are the honour and happiness of a wife.

And bring her into the wilderness; after that I have brought her into the wilderness; so the French, and some other versions, and so it is plainer than as we read it.

The wilderness; deep distress or captivity, with all the sorrows that attend captivity; then it is likely she will hearken: or by wilderness may be understood a retired place, and solitary, where shall be no diversions of her mind, no such temptations as formerly, where with best leisure she may consider and bethink herself: so understood, our version is easily intelligible.

And speak comfortably; things that are full of comfort, and in such manner too as is comfortable to the hearer. Here are glad tidings, gracious promises, and wonderful mercy to the true Israel after afflictions have brought them to God, after they are converted from sin by these means. Therefore, behold, I will allure her,.... Since these rough ways will not do, I will take another, a more mild and gentle way; instead of threatening, terrifying, and punishing, I will allure, persuade, and entice, giving loving words and winning language: or "nevertheless", or "notwithstanding" (m): so Noldius and others render the particle; though they have thus behaved themselves, and such methods have been taken with them to no purpose, yet I will do as follows: the words may be understood of the call and conversion of the people of God, the spiritual Israel of God, both Jews and Gentiles, in the first times of the Gospel, as Hosea 2:23 is quoted and applied by the Apostle Paul, Romans 9:24 and be understood also of the call of the believing Jews out of Jerusalem, before the destruction of it, Luke 21:21, from whence they removed to Pella, as Eusebius (n) relates: and of the apostles out of the land of Judea into the wilderness of the people, the Gentile world, to preach the Gospel there; where vineyards or churches were planted; the door of faith and hope, were opened to the Gentiles, that had been without hope; and the conversions now made, both among Jews and Gentiles, opened a door of hope, or were a pledge of the conversion of the Jew, and the bringing in of the fulness of the Gentiles in the latter day; to which times also these words may be applied, when the Jews shall be allured and persuaded to seek the Lord their God, and David their King, and join Gospel churches in the wilderness of the people, and shall have abundance of spiritual consolation and joy; and they may also be applied to the conversion of sinners in common, and set forth the methods of God's grace in dealing with them: there is throughout an allusion to Israel's coming out of Egypt, from whence the Lord allured and persuaded them by Moses and Aaron; and then brought them into the wilderness, where he fed and supplied them, and spoke comfort to them, and gave them the lively oracles; and whence, from the borders of it, they had and entered into the vineyards in the land of Canaan; and in the valley of Achor ate of the grain of the land, which was a door of hope to them they should enjoy the whole land; and when they rejoiced exceedingly, particularly at the Red sea, at their first coming out. The word rendered "allure" signifies to persuade (o), as in Genesis 9:27 and in conversion the Lord persuades men, not merely by moral persuasion, or the outward ministry of the word, but by powerful and efficacious grace; opening the heart to attend to things spoken, and the eyes of the understanding to behold wondrous things in the word of God; working upon the heart, and removing the hardness and impenitence of it; quickening the soul, drawing it with the cords of love, and sweetly operating upon the will: and on a sudden and unawares making the soul like the chariots of Amminadib, or a willing people; persuading it to true repentance for sin, to part with sins and sinful companions, and with its own righteousness, and to come to Christ, and to look to him, and lay hold on him as the Saviour, and to submit to his ordinances: moreover, the Lord persuades men at conversion of his love to them, and of their interest in Christ, and all the blessings of grace in him. Kimchi's note is,

"I will put into her heart to return by repentance;''

and compares with it Ezekiel 36:26. The Targum is,

"I will subject her to the law.''

And bring her into the wilderness: so in conversion the Lord calls and separates his people from the world, as the Israelites were from the Egyptians, when brought into the wilderness; and when they are solitary and alone, as they were, and so in a fit circumstance to be spoken unto, and to hear comfortable words, as follows; and when the Lord feeds them with the grain of heaven, with hidden manna, the food of the wilderness; and when they come into trouble and affliction for the sake of Christ and his Gospel. Some understand this of the church into which they are brought, because separate from the world, and attended with trouble; but this is rather a garden than a wilderness. Some, as Noldius and others, render it, "when" or "after I have brought her into the wilderness" (p); so after the Lord has shown men their sin and danger, their wilderness, desolate, state and condition, and stripped them of all help elsewhere; or has brought them under afflictive dispensations of Providence; then he does what he said before, and follows after.

And speak comfortably unto her; or, "speak to her heart" (q), as in Isaiah 40:2 as he does when he tells them their sins are forgiven; that he has loved them with an everlasting love; what exceeding great and precious promises he has made unto them; and when he speaks to them by the Spirit and Comforter, who takes his and the things of Christ, and shows them unto them; and in his word, written for their consolation; and by his ministers, who are "Barnabases", sons of comfort; and in the ordinances, those breasts of consolation. The Targum is,

"and I will do for her wonders and great things, as I did for her in the wilderness; and by the hand of my servants the prophets I will speak comforts to her heart.''

The Jewish writers (r) interpret this of the Messiah's leading people into a wilderness in a literal sense; they ask where will he (the Messiah) lead them? the answer of some is, to the wilderness of Judea, Matthew 3:1; and of others is, to the wilderness of Sihon and Og (the wilderness the Israelites passed through when they came out of Egypt): they, who are on the side of the first answer, urge in favour of it Hosea 12:9 and they who are for the latter produce this passage.

(m) "atqui, vel attamen", Glassius. (n) Hist. Eccles. l. 3. c. 5. (o) "persuadendo inducam eam", Munster; "persuadebo illi", Calvin; "persuadens, vel persuadebo illi", Schmidt. (p) "postquam duxero eam in desertum", Calvin, Drusius, "quum deduxero", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. (q) "ad cor ejus", Pagniaus, Cocceius; "super cor ejus", Munster, Montanus, Schmidt. (r) Shirhashhirim Rabba, fol. 11. 2. Midrash Ruth, fol. 33. 2.

Therefore, behold, I will {p} allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her.

(p) By my benefits in offering her grace and mercy, even in that place where she will think herself destitute of all help and comfort.

14. Therefore] i.e. because, without Jehovah’s help, Israel will never come to herself, and reform (comp. Isaiah 30:18). Her punishment has an educational object; the threat has a tinge of promise.

I will allure her …] The pronoun is expressed in the Hebrew. I have not forgotten her, though she has forgotten me. ‘Allure her’ seems out of place in introducing the punishment; generally the exile is described as an expulsion (comp. Jeremiah 8:3). Either we must read differently; the LXX. has πλανῶ αὐτὴν (comp. Psalm 107:40), or we must suppose a violation of natural order such as occurs now and then in Hebrew, so that the ‘alluring’ may refer to the cordial address of Jehovah spoken of afterwards. Kimchi explains, ‘I will put into her heart to return, while she is yet in exile.’ How beautifully the promise anticipates the great prophecy of Israel’s restoration, which opens, remarkably enough, with the very phrase used by Hosea, ‘Speak ye to the heart of Jerusalem’ (Isaiah 40:2). [According to another explanation of the passage which goes back to St Jerome, the wilderness is not only a place of affliction, but one of hope. The latter sense seems to be opposed by a passage in Ezekiel (Ezekiel 20:33-38) which is evidently a reminiscence of our passage, and which refers to the wilderness exclusively as a place of punishment. Keil, on the other hand, thinks that Israel is to be led into the wilderness, not for punishment, but for deliverance from bondage. This certainly explains the ‘I will allure her,’ but is not consistent with the next verse, in which allusion is made to the punishment undergone in the wilderness. Comp. on. Hosea 13:10.]

into the wilderness] By ‘wilderness’ Hosea means not merely the desert which lay between Canaan and the land of captivity, but the captivity or exile itself. Sojourn in a heathen land appeared to pious Israelites like a wandering in the desert (comp. Isaiah 41:17).

speak comfortably unto her] Lit., ‘speak unto her heart’.

14–23. And now the notes of threatening are dying away; bright and glorious days are announced for both sections of the nation. There shall be a second Exodus; no more idolatry; no more war; no. cloud upon Israel’s relation to her God. (Notice in passing the limitations of this stage of religious knowledge; the Messianic hope is as yet confined entirely to the people of Israel.)Verse 14. - Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her. As in vers. 2-5 we have an exposure of Israel's sin, and in vers. 6-13 an enumeration of her sufferings by penal inflictions; so vers. 14-23 contain a touching exhibition of Divine succor and support. The transition is abrupt. Vers. 14-17 exhibit the gradual change wrought in Israel through the progressive means of improvement employed by Jehovah. Israel's future is here reflected in the mirror of her past history. The events of that history are elegantly employed to represent as by type or symbol the mercies in store for Israel, wayward and rebellious though she had proved herself to be. Laken (from le causal, and ken, so, equivalent to "because it is so") at the beginning of this verse (14) is rendered by some,

(1) "but" or "yet;" but its natural signification is

(2) "therefore."

It is like the Greek οϋν (from ω΅ν, Ionic ἔων, neuter ἐόν, contracted οϋν); it being so, therefore, and similar to the Latin phrase, quae cum ita slut, "therefore" implies because Israel can only be turned from her foolish idolatry by the penal measures named. Aben Ezra also understands it here, as elsewhere, in its literal sense; thus: "After she [the unchaste wife representative of Israel] shall know that all this evil has come upon her because that she had forgotten me, and had not known at the beginning that I dealt kindly with her; and when she will say, 'Yet will I go and return to my former husband;' then will I allure her with words." פתה is from the root פת cognate with the Arabic in the sense of "dividing," "being open," "standing open;" thence it signifies "to be susceptible of outward impressions," "allow access and entrance;" in Piel, "to make one open.... be susceptible or inclined," "induce by words." The word laken, "therefore," has somewhat puzzled commentators, because the connection between the judgments threatened in the preceding verses and the mercies proffered in what follows is not to a superficial view at once apparent. Yet it is mercy and truth meeting together, righteousness and peace kissing each other. It is

(3) the connecting link between the enormity of our sins and the greatness of the Divine mercy; between the vileness of our iniquities and the riches of Divine grace. In like manner the psalmist prays, "Pardon mine iniquity, for it is great;" and God promises by the prophet, "For the iniquity of his covetousness was I wroth, and smote him: I hid me, and was wroth, and he went on frowardly in the way of his heart. I have seen his ways, and will heal him; I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners." Long previously God had said, "I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth." The secret of such striking contrasts is that where sin abounded grace did much more abound. Egypt having been to Israel the house of bondage, the exodus from that land represents deliverance out of a servile, suffering condition.

(1) The wilderness or Arabian desert into which they were brought on leaving that country was a place of freedom. They were emancipated, and breathed the free air of the wilderness; they were exercised with salutary discipline after their emancipation; as they traversed the wilderness they were trained and tried. The allurement which prefaces their deliverance refers to the persuasion of Moses and Aaron, who found it necessary to persuade and even coax their countrymen to turn their back on their bondage and follow the leaders whom God had sent them. The "comfortable words" mentioned in the clone of the verse were addressed to them at a subsequent period, when, allured out of the strange land where they had sojourned so long, they were led forth into the wilderness. The "comfortable words" comprehended both temporal and spiritual mercies - relief in every time of emergency, deliverance in danger and distress, a plentiful supply of their necessities, with pardon of their sins, assurances of grace, and renewed tokens of God's favor on repentance. A difficulty has been found in the words, "and bring her into the wilderness," being interposed between the alluring and the speaking comfortably. The difficulty is removed

(2) by translating vav, not by "and," but by "after," as if equivalent to acher; thus: "After I shall have brought her into the wilderness I wilt allure and comfort her." Then the meaning would be, "After I have humbled them thoroughly as I did their forefathers in the wilderness, then will I speak comfortably unto them." God humbled their forefathers in Egypt, yet that did not suffice; he humbled them afterwards in the wilderness, and then brought them into Canaan. Many times God sends successive afflictions upon his own people, to break their hearts, to humble them thoroughly, and at last "he speaks comfortably unto them." But

(3) the wilderness may be viewed in another light. Besides the distresses experienced in the wilderness, there were deliverances enjoyed. The reference here may be to the latter, and all the more as this part of the chapter deals with merciful providences. The particle vav and other words of the verse then retain their natural sense; and, instead of a denunciation of further afflictions, God declares to Israel that he will perform on their behalf such works of power, wisdom, and goodness, at once great and glorious, merciful and wonderful, as he had wrought for their forefathers in the wilderness after their deliverance from Egypt. Thus the Chaldee: "I will work miracles and great works of wonder for them, such as I wrought in the desert;" as though he said, "Whatever the condition may be into which you shall be brought, vet you shall have me working in as glorious a way for your good and comfort as ever I did for your forefathers when they were in the wilderness." The explanation of "wilderness" under number

(1) above, combining, as it does, deliverance yet discipline, care yet chastisement, deserves the preference; it is neither to be explained with Keil exclusively in the sense of promise, nor, on the other hand, exclusively in the sense of punishment with Rashi, who comments as follows: "I will lead her into the wilderness, which for her is like a wilderness and a dry parched land; and there she shall lay it to heart that it was better with her when she did my will than when she rebelled against me." As this horn became great in extent toward the south and toward the east, so also it grew up in height even unto the host of heaven, and some of them it cast down, i.e., some of the stars, to the earth. The host of heaven is here, as in Jeremiah 33:22, the whole body of the stars of heaven, the constellations, and of the stars is epexegetical of of the host. Daniel in the vision sees the horn grow so great in height, that it reaches even to the heavens, can reach the heavenly bodies with the hand, and throws some of the stars (מן is partitive) down to the earth and tramples upon them, destroys them with scorn. The words of the angel, Jeremiah 33:24, show that by the stars we are to understand the people of the saints, the people of God. The stars cast down to the earth are, according to this, neither the Levites (Grotius), nor the viri illustres in Israel (Glass.), nor the chief rulers of the Jews in church and state (Dathe). If the people of the saints generally are compared to the host of heaven, the stars, then the separate stars cannot be the ecclesiastical or civil chiefs, but the members of this nation in common. But by "the people of the saints" is to be understood (since the little horn denotes Antiochus Epiphanes) the people of God in the Old Covenant, the people of Israel. They are named the people of the saints by virtue of their being called to be an holy nation (Exodus 19:6), because "they had the revelation of God and God Himself dwelling among them, altogether irrespective of the subjective degrees of sanctification in individuals" (Kliefoth). But the comparing of them with the host of the stars does not arise from Jewish national pride, nor does it mean that Daniel thought only of the truly faithful in Israel (Theod., Hv.), or that the pseudo-Daniel thought that with the death of Antiochus the Messiah would appear, and that then Israel, after the extermination of the godless, would become a people of pure holiness. The comparison rather has its roots in this, that God, the King of Israel, is called the God of hosts, and by the צבאות (hosts) are generally to be understood the stars or the angels; but the tribes of Israel also, who were led by God out of Egypt, are called "the hosts of Jehovah" (Exodus 7:4; Exodus 12:41). As in heaven the angels and stars, so on earth the sons of Israel form the host of God; and as the angels on account of the glory of their nature are called קדושׁים (holy ones), so the Israelites by virtue of their being chosen to be the holy nation of God, forming the kingdom of heaven in this world. As God, the King of this people, has His throne in heaven, so there also Israel have their true home, and are in the eyes of God regarded as like unto the stars. This comparison serves, then, to characterize the insolence of Antiochus as a wickedness against Heaven and the heavenly order of things. Cf. 2 Macc. 9:10.

(Note: The deep practical explanation of Calvin deserves attention: - "Although the church often lies prostrate in the world and is trodden under foot, yet is it always precious before God. Hence the prophet adorns the church with this remarkable praise, not to obtain for it great dignity in the sight of men, but because God has separated it from the world and provided for it a sure inheritance in heaven. Although the sons of God are pilgrims on the earth, and have scarcely any place in it, because they are as castaways, yet they are nevertheless citizens of heaven. Hence we derive this useful lesson, that we should bear it patiently when we are thrown prostrate on the ground, and are despised by tyrants and contemners of God. In the meantime our seat is laid up in heaven, and God numbers us among the stars, although, as Paul says, we are as dung and as the offscourings of all things." - Calv. in loc.)

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