Hosea 2:21
And it shall come to pass in that day, I will hear, saith the LORD, I will hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth;
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(21-23) Will hear.—More correctly, I will answer (the prayer of) the heavens. A sublime personification! Heaven pleads with Jehovah, the earth pleads with heaven, and the products of the soil plead with the earth. To all these prayers an answer is vouchsafed. Jehovah answers the heavens with the gifts of dew and rain, wherewith the heavens answer the cravings of the earth, and the earth the cravings of the corn, wine, and oil. And these last, in their turn, answer the wants of Jezreel, a name which, like Achor, is to be invested with brighter meanings. It is to represent a Divine seed—the people whom the Lord hath blessed. (See Stanley, Lectures on the Jewish Church, II. Series, Lecture 32 ad fin., where this idea is eloquently set forth.)

Hosea 2:21-22. I will hear the heavens — When they ask, as it were, to send their rain on the earth. And they shall hear the earth — When it supplicates, as it were, for rain. The earth shall hear the corn and the wine, &c. — When they wish, as it were, to supply the wants of man. And they shall hear Jezreel — All nature shall hear, and minister to, the people whom God shall restore to their own land. The Hebrew word, however, here rendered to hear, Dr. Waterland more properly renders to answer, thus: I will answer the heavens, and they shall answer the earth, &c. In other words, all creatures shall answer the desires and wants of my people: the heavens shall answer the wants of the earth, in sending down seasonable showers: and the earth shall answer the wants of mankind, in bringing forth corn, and wine, and other necessaries of life: and the fruits of the earth shall answer the wishes of my restored people, by giving them due nourishment: see the same sense more plainly expressed, Zechariah 8:12. Bishop Horsley reads, I will perform my part, saith Jehovah, upon the heavens; and they shall perform their part upon the earth; and the earth shall perform her part upon the corn, &c.; and they shall perform their parts for the Jezreel [the seed of God.] “The primary and most proper meaning,” says he, “of the verb ענה, [rendered to hear,] I take to be to react. But more largely it predicates reciprocal, correspondent, or correlate action. Thus it signifies the proper action of one thing upon another, according to established physical sympathies in the material world; or, among intelligent beings, according to the rule of moral order. And in this passage it is applied first to the action of God upon the powers of nature; and then to the subordinate action of the parts of nature upon one another; and, last of all, to the subservience of the elements, and their physical productions, to the benefit of man; and ultimately, by the direction of God’s overruling providence, to the exclusive benefit of the godly.” The gradation of the prophet in the passage is very elegant, and admirably denotes the concert, the harmony, the intelligence, which shall be between all parts of the universe, co-operating for the good of God’s people, who shall then no more see the heaven of iron and of brass withholding its dew and its rain; nor the earth burned up by the sun, unable to nourish the plants, nor the fruits denied the succour of the earth, nor men deprived of their necessary ailments. The words probably allude also to the spiritual blessings of the Christian Church.

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.I will hear the heavens ... - As all nature is closed, and would refuse her office to those who rebel against her God, so, when He hath withdrawn His curse and is reconciled to man all shall combine together for man's good, and, by a kind of harmony, all parts thereof join their ministries for the service of those who are at unity with Him. And, as an image of love, all, from lowest to highest, are bound together, each depending on the ministry of that beyond it, and the highest on God. At each link, the chain might have been broken; but God who knit their services together, and had before withheld the rain, and made the earth barren, and laid waste the trees, now made each to supply the other, and led the thoughts of people through the course of causes and effects up to Himself, whoever causes all which comes to pass.

The immediate desire of His people was the grain, wine and oil; they needed the fruitfulness of the earth; the earth, by its parched surface and gaping clefts, seemed to crave the rain from heaven; the rain could not fall without the will of God. So all are pictured as in a state of expectancy, until God gave the word, and His will ran through the whole course of secondary causes, and accomplished what man prayed Him for. Such is the picture. But, although God's gifts of nature were gladdening tokens of His restored favor, and now too, under the Gospel, we rightly thank Him for the removal of any of His natural chastisements, and look upon it as an earnest of His favor toward us, the prophet who had just spoken of the highest things, the union of man with God in Christ, does not here speak only of the lowest. What God gives, by virtue of an espousal "forever," are not gifts in time only. His gifts of nature are, in themselves, pictures of His gifts of grace, and as such the prophets employ them. So then God promiseth, and this in order, a manifold abundance of all spiritual gifts. Of these, "corn and wine," as they are the visible parts, so are they often, in the Old Testament, the symbols of His highest gift, the holy eucharist; and "oil," of God's Holy Spirit, through whom they are sanctified.

God here calls "Israel" by the name of "Jezreel," repealing, once more in the close of this prophecy, His sentence, conveyed through the names of the three children of the prophet. The name "Jezreel" combines in one, the memory of the former punishment and the future mercy. God did not altogether do away the temporal part of His sentence. he had said, "I will scatter;" and, although some were brought back with Judah, Israel remained scattered in all lands, in Egypt and Greece and Italy, Asia Minor, and the far East and West. But God turned His chastisement into mercy to those who believed in Him. Now he changes the meaning of the word into, "God shall sow." Israel, in its dispersion, when converted to God, became every where the preacher of Him whom they had persecuted; and in Him - the true Seed. whom God sowed in the earth and it "brought forth much fruit," converted Israel also bore, "some a hundred-fold; some sixty; some thirty."

21. in that day—of grace to Israel.

heavens … hear the earth—personification. However many be the intermediate instruments, God is the Great First Cause of all nature's phenomena. God had threatened (Ho 2:9) He would take back His corn, His wine, &c. Here, on the contrary, God promises to hearken to the skies, as it were, supplicating Him to fill them with rain to pour on the earth; and that the skies again would hearken to the earth begging for a supply of the rain it requires; and again, that the earth would hearken to the corn, wine, and oil, begging it to bring them forth; and these again would hear Jezreel, that is, would fulfil Israel's prayers for a supply of them. Israel is now no longer "Jezreel" in the sense, "God will SCATTER" (Ho 1:4), but in the sense, "God will PLANT" (Ho 1:11).

No text from Poole on this verse.

And it shall come to pass in that day,.... When these espousals shall be made, when the marriage of the Lamb will be come, and his bride will be betrothed to him; then the whole creation, the heavens and the earth, shall contribute of their riches and plenty to make a marriage feast for them; or then shall the spouse of Christ, in a very visible and plentiful manner, by virtue of the marriage union between them, partake of all his good things, both temporal and spiritual; and especially the latter, as signified by the former; but yet in the use of means, and as the effect of prayer, as follows:

I will hear, saith the Lord; the petitions of his new married bride, which he cannot deny her :or, "I will answer" (a); men oftentimes hear, and answer not; but when the Lord hears his people, he answers them, and grants them their requests; he is a God hearing and answering prayer. So the Targum,

"I will receive your prayer, saith the Lord.''

I will hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth; in these and the following words is an elegant personification, a figure by which inanimate creatures are represented as persons speaking, praying, asking, and being heard and answered; and a beautiful climax, or a chain of second causes linked together, and as depending upon the first cause, the Lord himself; the heavens are represented as desiring the Lord of nature, the Maker and Supporter of them, having been like brass, and shut up, that they might have leave to let down their refreshing dews, and gentle showers of rain, upon the earth; and the earth as being dry and thirsty, as gaping, opening its mouth, and imploring these benign influences of the heavens; and both as answered: for so it may be rendered, "I will answer the heavens, and they shall answer the earth" (b); the Lord promises to answer the desires of the heavens, and allow them to drop their dew, and distil their rain; and so they shall answer the cravings of the earth. The spiritual sense may be, according to Schmidt, Christ is he on whom all blessings depend; "heaven" may signify the Holy Spirit Christ gives, who intercedes with him for the saints; the "earth" the ministration of the word and ordinances, by which the Spirit is given, invoked by the ministers of them. Or, as Cocceius, the "heavens" may design the ministers of the church, who govern in it, and who pray and plead for help, assistance, and success; and the "earth" the audience, the common people, who also pray, and are heard and answered, when ministers let down the dew and rain of evangelical doctrine upon them, and water them, and refresh them with it; and such precious seasons as these, as the fruit of prayer, will the saints have in the latter day.

(a) "respondebo", Calvin, Drusius, Tarnovius, Cocceius. (b) "respondebo coelo, et illud respondebit terrae", Cocceius, Drusius.

And it shall come to pass in that day, I will hear, saith the LORD, I will hear {z} the heavens, and they shall hear the earth;

(z) Then will the heaven desire rain for the earth, which will bring forth things for the use of man.

21, 22. I will hear …] Rather, I will respond (and similarly throughout). It is a beautiful picture of the harmony between the physical and the spiritual spheres, Jezreel (i.e. Israel, see next verse) asks its plants to germinate; they call upon the earth for its juices; the earth beseeches heaven for rain; heaven supplicates for the divine word which opens its stores; and Jehovah responds in faithful love. The idea is that of Amos 9:13; Joel 3:18, but it is expressed in an unusual manner. Striking parallels have been quoted from Euripides and Æschylus (fragments beginning respectively

Ἐρᾷ μὲν ὄμβρου γαῖʼ, ὅταν ξηρὸν πέδον

and Ἐρᾷ μὲν ἁγνὸς οὐρανὸς τρῶσαι χθόνα);

but we need not have recourse for illustrations to classical literature. The prophets and psalmists have no scruple in adopting and spiritualizing popular (i.e. heathenish) Semitic modes of thought. One of the most prevalent of these modes of thought is referred to by Hosea both in this chapter and in. Hosea 1:2. The heathen Semitic deities were the productive powers of nature, and were grouped in couples of male and female principles, known in the middle zone of Semitic countries as Baal and Baalath (= Baaltis), Baal and Ashérah (see note in Introd., part ii.), and Ashtar (or Ashtor) and Ashtoreth (or Astarte). It was believed that the fruitful earth was the issue of this union; or, by a variation of the same myth, that the earth itself was the female principle. Hence the idea that the land (see Hosea 1:2. and comp. the expressions in Hosea 2:5; Hosea 2:9), and, by a later inference, the people of Israel, were the offspring or the spouse of their God was a truism to the hearers of the prophet; but their divine sonship was not physical but moral (see below, on Hosea 11:1), and that the nation’s Bridegroom could even divorce his spouse—these were strange and offensive ideas. The latter indeed was so inconceivable that Hosea was directed to explain it by allegorizing a distressing episode in his own history. We must not omit to notice in conclusion that the adaptation of mythic and therefore strictly speaking heathenish forms of speech is not confined to the records of revealed religion. The Arabic vocabulary of Mohammedan times contains a group of parallel expressions which may pertinently be referred to here. Thus, for instance baʽlî and ‘aththarî or ‘atharî are used of land which is watered from heaven (i.e., by rain and not by springs), and these, being derivatives of the Arabic forms of the divine names Baal and Ashtar, imply the very same myth which has been mentioned above. So too both in Talmudic Hebrew and in Arabic ‘field, or land of Baal’ means land which has no need of irrigation, and ba‘l in Arabic, according to Lane, any seed-produce only watered by the rain. (See Prof. Robertson Smith, The Prophets of Israel, pp. 172, 409, Cheyne, The Prophecies of Isaiah, Vol. 11. p. 295 = 282 ed. 2). These significant phrases throw a fresh light, not only (as Prof. Smith has shown) on Hosea, but also on the language of Isaiah 45:8, ‘Shower, ye heavens from above … let the earth open, and let them (viz. heaven and earth) bear the fruit of salvation’.

Jezreel] In Hosea 1:4 Jezreel was only mentioned for its historical associations, without any reference to the meaning of its name. Here however it evidently has a symbolic value, viz. ‘God sows (it)’.

Verses 21-23. - The eighteenth verse pictures a scene of peace for Israel's future; the verses following warrant the expectation of its perpetuity, owing to the higher and holier relationship; the verses before us are a vivid description of unlimited prosperity. The corn and wine and oil appeal, by a graphic personification, to mother earth; earth appeals to the over-canopying heavens; and the heavens appeal to him whose throne is in the heavens, but whom the heavens and heaven of heavens cannot contain. Soon the floating cloud is seen and the falling rain is heard; the parched earth drinks in the moisture; and its products, being nourished and refreshed, supply to the utmost the wants and wishes of Jezreel. Kimchi comments on this picture as follows: "He says that then, in the season of salvation, the heavens shall give their dew, and the earth shall give her increase. And he says, 'I will tear the heavens which were shut up when they were in the land, as in the days of Ahab; on their return to the land at the time of salvation they shall no more be shut.' And he says, 'I will answer,' as if the heavens asked that they might give rain according to their manner, and I will answer; [as if] their earth [asked] that they [the heavens] might give rain after their manner, even showers of blessing. And this ' I will answer' denotes that my favor shall be on them [the heavens]. 'And they shall answer the earth,' as if the earth asked rain and longed for it. 'And the earth shall hear when it shall give its increase, and the tree of the field shall give its fruit...' 'And they shall hear Jezreel,' for in the multiplying of good things the eaters thereof multiply, for the steppes shall be full of the sheep of Israel. In the punishments he called the name of Israel Jezreel, because they were scattered among the nations. In the time of salvation he likewise calls them Jezreel, because they were sown in their land; accordingly, he says afterwards, 'I will sow them to me in the land.'" Such is the prophet's pictorial representation of a prosperity including food in abundance, refreshment limited by moderation, and even luxuries without stint. Old things are passed away; sinful things have ceased; there is a complete reversal of the sorrowful circumstances into which sin had plunged Israel. God's scattering has now become God's sowing. "I sow her" is the remark of Aben Ezra, "that they may multiply and be fruitful as the seed of the earth." The unpitied one has found mercy; the rejected one is received with rejoicing. "I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God."

Hosea 2:21"And it comes to pass in that day, I will hear, is the word of Jehovah; I will hear heaven, and it hears the earth. And the earth will hear the corn, and the new wine, and the oil; and they will hear Jezreel (God sows)." God will hear all the prayers that ascend to Him from His church (the first אענה is to be taken absolutely; compare the parallel in Isaiah 58:9), and cause all the blessings of heaven and earth to flow down to His favoured people. By a prosopopeia, the prophet represents the heaven as praying to God, to allow it to give to the earth that which is requisite to ensure its fertility; whereupon the heaven fulfils the desires of the earth, and the earth yields its produce to the nation.

(Note: As Umbreit observes, "It is as though we heard the exalted harmonies of the connected powers of creation, sending forth their notes as they are sustained and moved by the eternal key-note of the creative and moulding Spirit.")

In this way the thought is embodied, that all things in heaven and on earth depend on God; "so that without His bidding not a drop of rain falls from heaven, and the earth produces no germ, and consequently all nature would at length be barren, unless He gave it fertility by His blessing" (Calvin). The promise rests upon Deuteronomy 28:12, and forms the antithesis to the threat in Leviticus 26:19 and Deuteronomy 28:23-24, that God will make the heavens as brass, and the earth as iron, to those who despise His name. In the last clause the prophecy returns to its starting-point with the words, "Hear Jezreel." The blessing which flows down from heaven to earth flows to Jezreel, the nation which "God sows." The name Jezreel, which symbolizes the judgment about to burst upon the kingdom of Israel, according to the historical signification of the name in Hosea 1:4, Hosea 1:11, is used here in the primary sense of the word, to denote the nation as pardoned and reunited to its God.

This is evident from the explanation given in Hosea 2:23 : "And I sow her for myself in the land, and favour Unfavoured, and say to Not-my-people, Thou art my people; and it says to me, My God." זרע does not mean "to strew," or scatter (not even in Zechariah 10:9; cf. Koehler on the passage), but simply "to sow." The feminine suffix to זרעתּיה refers, ad sensum, to the wife whom God has betrothed to Himself for ever, i.e., to the favoured church of Israel, which is now to become a true Jezreel, as a rich sowing on the part of God. With this turn in the guidance of Israel, the ominous names of the other children of the prophet's marriage will also be changed into their opposite, to show that mercy and the restoration of vital fellowship with the Lord will now take the place of judgment, and of the rejection of the idolatrous nation. With regard to the fulfilment of the promise, the remarks made upon this point at Hosea 1:11 and Hosea 2:1 (pp. 33, 34), are applicable here, since this section is simply a further expansion of the preceding one.

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