Hosea 2:5
For their mother hath played the harlot: she that conceived them hath done shamefully: for she said, I will go after my lovers, that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink.
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(5) For their mother hath played . . .—We might render, with Ewald, yea, their mother hath played . . . This would more easily account for the change of person (“your “. . . “their “), which is, however, very frequent in Hebrew prophecy. The next “for” introduces a parenthetical clause—“her lovers”a word used in a bad sense. The aggravation of her shame is that she seeks them, and not they her. She attributes to these idol-gods all those temporal benefits which theocratic history shows to have been Jehovah’s gift, and the consequence of loyalty to Him. The modern analogue of this sin of Israel is the use of “Fortune,” “Nature,” “Destiny,” “Impersonal Law,” and even “Humanity,” as the giver of all good things, as though it were superstitious or heretical to speak of God as the giver.

2:1-5 This chapter continues the figurative address to Israel, in reference to Hosea's wife and children. Let us own and love as brethren, all whom the Lord seems to put among his children, and encourage them in that they have received mercy. But every Christian, by his example and conduct, must protest against evil and abuses, even among those to whom he belongs and owes respect. Impenitent sinners will soon be stripped of the advantages they misuse, and which they consume upon their lusts.She that conceived them hath done shamefully, literally, hath made shameful - The silence as to "what" she "made shameful" is more emphatic than any words. She "made shameful" everything which she could "make shameful," her acts, her children, and herself.

I will go after my lovers - (:iterally let me go, I would go). The Hebrew word "Meahabim" denotes intense passionate love; the plural form implies that they were sinful loves. Every word aggravates the shamelessness. Amid God's chastisements, she encourages herself, "Come, let me go," as people harden and embolden, and, as it were, lash themselves into further sin, lest they should shrink back, or stop short in it. "Let me go after." She waits not, as it were, to be enticed, allured, seduced. She herself, uninvited, unbidden, unsought, contrary to the accustomed and natural feeling of woman, follows after those by whom she is not drawn, and refuses to follow God who would draw her (see Ezekiel 16:31-34). The "lovers" are, whatever a man loves and courts, out of God. They were the idols and false gods, whom the Jews, like the pagan, took to themselves, besides God. But in truth they were devils. Devils she sought; the will of devils she followed; their pleasure she fulfilled, abandoning herself to sin, shamefully filled with all wickedness, and travailing with all manner of impurity. These she professed that she loved, and that they, not God, loved her. For whoever receives the gifts of God, except from God and in God's way, receives them from devils. Whoso seeks what God forbids, seeks it from Satan, and holds that Satan, not God, loves him; since God refuses it, Satan encourages him to possess himself of it. Satan, then, is his lover.

That gave me my bread and my water - The sense of human weakness abides, even when divine love is gone. The whole history of man's superstitions is an evidence of this, whether they have been the mere instincts of nature, or whether they have attached themselves to religion or irreligion, Jewish or Pagan or Muslim, or have been practiced by half-Christians. "She is conscious that she hath not these things by her own power, but is beholden to some other for them; but not remembering Him (as was commanded) who had "given her power to get wealth, and richly all things to enjoy," she professes them to be the gifts of her lovers." "Bread and water, wool and flax," express the necessaries of life, food and clothing; "mine oil and my drink" (Hebrew, drinks), its luxuries. Oil includes also ointments, and so served both for health, food and medicine, for anointing the body, and for perfume. In perfumes and choice drinks, the rich people of Israel were guilty of great profusion; from where it is said, "He that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich" Proverbs 21:17. For such things alone, the things of the body, did Israel care. Ascribing them to her false gods, she loved these gods, and held that they loved her. In like way, the Jewish women shamelessly told Jeremiah, "we will certainly do whatsoever thing goes out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink-offerings unto her, as we have done, we and our fathers, our kings and our princes, in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. For then had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil. But since we left off to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink-offerings unto her, we have wanted all things, and have been consumed by the sword and by the famine" Jeremiah 44:17-18.

5. I will go after—The Hebrew expresses a settled determination.

lovers—the idols which Israel fancied to be the givers of all their goods, whereas God gave all these goods (Ho 2:8-13; compare Jer 44:17-19).

bread and … water—the necessaries of life in food.

wool … flax—clothing.

oil … drink—perfumed unguents and palatable drinks: the luxuries of Hebrew life.

For: this demonstrates the truth of the charge, and justifieth the severity of the punishment.

Their mother: see Hosea 2:2.

Played the harlot; doted on idols, worshipped them, and brought forth and educated children for diem.

She hath done shamefully: this practice, in the best circumstances it can be put, was dishonourable as well as dishonest; but here is an aggravation of it, it was done with shameless impudence, and openly avowed, with a whore’s forehead, Jeremiah 3:3.

She said; she took lip resolutions, declared them, stood to them, none could alter her course.

I will go after: when they came not to her, she will go to them. Impudent adulteress! forsaken, thou courtest and wooest.

My lovers: this spoken as if they loved her better than her Husband loved her; a high degree of impudence. These are the idols she worshipped, and the idolaters she associated and traded with.

That give me my bread, & c.: whereas every mercy she enjoyed was God’s gift to her, and a fruit of his covenant love and faithfulness towards her; yet she denies (like an impudent strumpet) all his kindness, and in a manner chargeth him with such hardness and ill usage, that she had starved if her idols and idolatrous friends had not maintained her, and gives out, the bread she ate, and water she drank, and the clothes she wore, all was of their kindness. This is shameful indeed, and the prophet hath set it forth to the life: and now is there not good reason why a Husband so abused should without pity cast off such a mother, such children, and leave them to live on their chosen lovers, or to perish under the hatred of their despised God?

For their mother hath played the harlot,.... Or committed idolatry; which is the reason why she is to be pleaded with, and why the Lord will not own her as his wife, or be a husband to her; and why she is to be exhorted to put away her whoredoms from her; and was in danger of all the above evils coming upon her, continuing in the same practice; and why her children were children of whoredoms. Though the connection may be with the verse following, "for" or "because their mother hath played the harlot", &c. "therefore I will hedge up her way", &c.

She that conceived them hath done shamefully; all sin is shameful and scandalous, especially adultery; it brings a reproach and a blot upon a person, that will not be wiped off; and so idolatry, worshipping stocks and stones instead of the living God; and particularly the sin of the Jewish church, in rejecting the true Messiah and his righteousness, and setting up their own, and tenaciously adhering to the traditions of the elders; and so departing from the true God, and his word and worship, which is no other than spiritual adultery or idolatry. The Targum is,

"because their congregation hath erred after the false prophets, their teachers are confounded;''

and which Jarchi interprets of the wise men that teach doctrines, who are ashamed because of the people of the earth; to whom they say, ye shall not steal, and yet they steal themselves; see Romans 2:21. Or, "she hath made ashamed" (f); her husband, and her children: or, "she is confounded" (g), and "ashamed" herself, for what she has done.

For she said, I will go after my lovers; her idols, as the ten tribes did after the calves at Dan and Bethel. So Kimchi's father interprets it of the sun, moon, and stars, they worshipped: though he himself understands it of the Assyrians and Egyptians they were in alliance with, and trusted in. Some join together the Gentile nations and their gods. Or else it may be understood of the Jews seeking to the Romans, and courting their favour and friendship; desiring to be governed not by their own kings, but by the Romans (h); declaring they had no king but Caesar, and rejecting Christ as such, John 19:12 or rather of their beloved tenets, concerning traditions, the rites and ceremonies of the law, self-righteousness, &c.: the words are expressive of impudence, obstinacy, and self-will; resolving to pursue their own fancies and have their own wills, be it as it would.

That give me my bread and any water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink; "or drinks" (i); wine and other liquors, as Kimchi; these take in everything belonging to food and raiment, and all the necessaries, and even delights and pleasures, of life: bread and water; all sorts of food: wool and flax; all sorts of clothing, both woollen and linen, for outward or inward covering: and oil, and drinks, or liquors; everything for pleasure and delight; all which she ascribed not to God, from whence all good things come; but, which was an aggravation of her sin, to her lovers, her allies, or her idols; as the Jews did their plenty of victuals to the queen of heaven, and their worship of her, Jeremiah 44:17 and as, in the times of Christ, they ascribed not only their enjoyment of temporal good things, but their righteousness, life, and salvation, to their observance of traditions, rites, and ceremonies, and the externals of religion.

(f) "pudefecit", Junius apud Rivet. (g) "Confusa, vel pudefacta", Pagninus, Montanus; "pudore suffusa est", Gussetius. (h) Joseph. Antiqu. l. 17. c. 13, sect. 2.((i) "potationes meas", Montanus, "potiones meas", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "potus meos", Cocceius, Schmidt.

For their mother hath played the harlot: she that conceived them hath done shamefully: for she said, I will go after my {g} lovers, that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink.

(g) Meaning the idol which they served, and by whom they thought they had wealth and abundance.

5. I will go after my lovers …] Israel, then, had given up the true Jehovah for ‘lovers’ (i.e. not, as the Targum explains it, and as the phrase often means, especially in Ezekiel, the neighbouring peoples whose favour was courted by the Israelites, but, as Hosea 2:10; Hosea 2:15 suggest, the Baalim).

mine oil and my drink] Rather, drinks (as margin), i.e. wine and various fermented liquors made from fruits such as the date, the mulberry, the fig, and the dried raisin (see Tristram, Natural Hist. of Bible, p. 412). Observe the influence of the primitive idea that the land (rather than the people) was in mystic relation to Jehovah; see on Hosea 2:21-22.

Verse 5. - Nor their mother hath played the harlot: she that conceived them hath dons shamefully: for she said, I will go after my lovers. The charge of idolatry under the figure of harlotry, spiritual harlotry, is reiterated. "Mother" is repeated in and emphasized by the parallel words, "she that conceived them." A somewhat similar form of expression is that in Psalm 58:3, "The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies." To bosh, to be ashamed, belong the Hiphil forms, hebhish and hobhish (the latter formed from zabhish), properly "to put to shame," but also "to practice shame or do shameful things." The nature of her shameful conduct is more definitely and distinctly expressed in the clauses which follow; and consisted of several particulars. There is the persistent pursuit of her lovers; then the unblushing boldness with which she avows her determination to continue that course; and next come her expectations from them. That give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink (margin, drinks). The original word here rendered "lovers" is the Piel participle, which may have either its usual intensive sense or its occasional causative sense in which it is taken by Rosenmüller, who has "a-mare me facientes," equivalent to "wooers." It matters little which way we understand it. The more important point is to determine who or what are here meant by lovers. Most commentators understand them to be those nations whose friendship Israel set such store by - the Assyrians and the Egyptians. Thus Grotius and Jerome, - the latter explains them of the Assyrians and Egyptians and other nations, with whose idols Israel committed fornication, and from which in distress they vainly hoped for help; so also Kimchi, in the following comment: "By 'friends ' he implies the Assyrians and Egyptians joined in alliance to the Israelites, who delivered them from their enemies, so that they lived safely, in return for the gifts (tribute) which they (the Israelites) were in the habit of giving them. And as they lived in tranquility in virtue of the compact entered into with them, the prophet represents it as if they supplied them with all the necessaries of life. For with their help they tilled their land without fear and in safety traded from country to country." Kimchi quotes at the same time his father's (Joseph Kimchi) interpretation: "But my lord my father of blessed memory explained 'after her lovers' of the sun and moon and stars, which they worshipped; while their intention was that they gave them their food and their sufficiency, as they said, 'But since we left off to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, we have wanted all things, and have been consumed by the sword and by the famine.'" This exposition of Joseph Kimchi is much nearer the truth than that of his son David; it is, however, too restricted. The "lovers" were the idols on which the people of the northern kingdom so dented, and on which they placed so much dependence. The blessings which they vainly expected from these idols are enumerated: they were - food and raiment and luxuries; the bread and water were the articles of food as it is written elsewhere. "Bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure;" the wool and flax were the materials for clothing; while the oil and drinks were, the former for ornament, the latter for refresh-merit, and so included all luxuries; thus in Psalm 23:5, "Thou anointest my head with oil;" and in Psalm 102:9, "And mingled my drink [literally, 'drinks,' the same word, shigguyar] with weeping;" also in Psalm 104:15 we read of "wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengthened man's heart." Hosea 2:5"For their mother hath committed whoredom; she that bare them hath practised shame: for she said, I will go after my lovers, who give (me) my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink." By kı̄ (for) and the suffixes attached to 'immâm (their mother) and hōrâthâm (that bare them), the first clauses are indeed introduced as though simply explanatory and confirmatory of the last clause of Hosea 2:4; but if we look at the train of thought generally, it is obvious that Hosea 2:5 is not merely intended to explain the expression sons of whoredom, but to explain and vindicate the main thought, viz., that the children of whoredom, i.e., the idolatrous Israelites, will find no mercy. Now, as the mother and children are identical, if we trace back the figurative drapery to its actual basis, the punishment with which the children are threatened applies to the mother also; and the description of the mother's whoredom serves also to explain the reason for the punishment with which the mother is threatened in Hosea 2:3. And this also accounts for the fact that, in the threat which follows in Hosea 2:6, "I hedge up thy way," the other herself is again directly addressed. The hiphil hōbhı̄sh, which is traceable to yâbhēsh, so far as the form is concerned, but derives its meaning from בּושׁ, is not used here in its ordinary sense of being put to shame, but in the transitive sense of practising shame, analogous to the transitive meaning "to shame," which we find in 2 Samuel 19:5. To explain this thought, the coquetting with idols is more minutely described in the second hemistich. The delusive idea expressed by the wife (אמרה, in the perfect, indicates speaking or thinking which stretches from the past into the present), viz., that the idols give her food (bread and water), clothing (wool and flax), and the delicacies of life (oil and drink, i.e., wine and must and strong drink), that is to say, "everything that conduces to luxury and superfluity," which we also find expressed in Jeremiah 44:17-18, arose from the sight of the heathen nations round about, who were rich and mighty, and attributed this to their gods. It is impossible, however, that such a thought can ever occur, except in cases where the heart is already estranged from the living God. For so long as a man continues in undisturbed vital fellowship with God, "he sees with the eye of faith the hand in the clouds, from which he receives all, by which he is guided, and on which everything, even that which has apparently the most independence and strength, entirely depends" (Hengstenberg).
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