Hosea 4:11
Prostitution and wine and new wine take away the heart.
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(11) Heart.—The whole inner life, consumed by these licentious indulgences.

4:6-11 Both priests and people rejected knowledge; God will justly reject them. They forgot the law of God, neither desired nor endeavoured to retain it in mind, and to transmit the remembrance to their posterity; therefore God will justly forget them and their children. If we dishonour God with that which is our honour, it will, sooner or later, be turned into shame to us. Instead of warning the people against sin, from the consideration of the sacrifices, which showed what an offence sin was to God, since it needed an atonement, the priests encouraged the people to sin, since atonement might be made at so small an expense. It is very wicked to be pleased with the sins of others, because they may turn to our advantage. What is unlawfully gained, cannot be comfortably used. The people and the priests hardened one another in sin; therefore justly shall they share in the punishment. Sharers in sin must expect to share in ruin. Any lust harboured in the heart, in time will eat out all its strength and vigour. That is the reason why many professors grow so heavy, so dull, so dead in the way of religion. They have a liking for some secret lust, which takes away their hearts.Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the heart - (Literally, "takes away"). Wine and fleshly sin are pictured as blended in one, to deprive man of his affections and reason and understanding, and to leave him brutish and irrational. In all the relations of life toward God and man, reason and will are guided by the affections. And so, in God's language, the "heart" stands for the "understanding" as well as the "affections," because it directs the understanding, and the understanding, bereft of true affections, and under the rule of passion, becomes senseless. Besides the perversion of the understanding, each of these sins blunts and dulls the fineness of the intellect; much more, both combined. The stupid sottishness of the confirmed voluptuary is a whole, of which each act of sensual sin worked its part. The Pagan saw this clearly, although, without the grace of God, they did not act on what they saw to be true and right. This, the sottishness of Israel, destroying their understanding, was the ground of their next folly, that they ascribed to "their stock" the office of God. "Corruption of manners and superstition" (it has often been observed) "go hand in hand." 11. A moral truth applicable to all times. The special reference here is to the licentious orgies connected with the Syrian worship, which lured Israel away from the pure worship of God (Isa 28:1, 7; Am 4:1).

take away the heart—that is, the understanding; make men blind to their own true good (Ec 7:7).

Whoredom; unlawful converse with wanton women, the forbidden pleasures of an adulterous bed.

And wine and new wine; excess of drinking, and indeed all immoderate pleasures; one kind being put for all.

Take away the heart; besot men, and deprive them of the right use of their Understanding and judgment. By these courses both priests and people here have disabled themselves to discern aright between good and bad, between safe and dangerous. Whoredom and wine, and new wine, take away the heart. Uncleanness and intemperance besot men, deprive them of reason and judgment, and even of common sense, make them downright fools, and so stupid as to do the following things; or they take away the heart from following the Lord, and taking heed to him, and lead to idolatry; or they "occupy" (z) the heart, and fill it up, and cause it to prefer sensual lusts and pleasures to the fear and love of God: their stupidity brought on hereby is exposed in the next verse; though it seems chiefly to respect the priests, who erred in vision through wine and strong drink, and stumbled in judgment, Isaiah 28:7.

(z) "occupant cor", so some in Calvin and Rivet; "occupavit cor", Schmidt.

{m} Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the heart.

(m) In giving themselves to pleasures, they become like brute beasts.

11. Whoredom, &c.] ‘The heart’, not ‘their heart’ (as the Targum and Peshito). It is a moral adage, showing that Hosea was not more inclined than Isaiah to abandon simple moral teaching to the class of ‘wise men’, who ‘sat in the gate’ and conveyed practical lessons in the form of proverbs. It is literal whoredom that is meant, as, even apart from Hosea 4:13-14, the juxtaposition with ‘wine and new wine’ shows. The impure rites of nature-worship had destroyed the reverence for the marriage-bond. Heart here means ‘the spiritual understanding’, ‘a heart to know Me’ (Jeremiah 24:7); ‘sons of Belial’ cannot ‘know Jehovah’ (2 Samuel 2:12). For the drunkenness of Samaria comp. Isaiah 28:1.

11–14. Thus the priests have led the way, and the people follow. They have lost the spiritual faculty; a wild impulse to the most sensual idolatry has carried them away.Verse 11. - It makes no great difference whether we regard this verse as concluding the foregoing or commencing a new paragraph, though we prefer the latter mode of connecting it. It states the debasing influence which debauchery and drunkenness are known to exercise over both head and heart: they dull the faculties of the former and deaden the affections of the latter. The heart is not only the seat of the affections, as with us; it comprises also the, intellect and hill; while the word יִקַּת is not so much to take away as to captivate the heart, Rashi gives the former sense: "The whoredom and drunkenness to which they are devoted take away their heart from me." Kimchi's explanation is judicious: "The whoredom to which they surrender themselves and the constant drunkenness which they practice take their heart, so that they have no understanding to perceive what is the way of goodness along which they should go." He further distinguishes the tirosh from the yayin, remarking that the former is the new wine which takes the heart and suddenly intoxicates. The prophet, having had occasion to mention the sin of whoredom in ver. 10, makes a general statement about the consequences of that sin combined with drunkenness in ver. 10, as not only debasing, but depriving men of the right use of their reason and the proper exercise of their natural affections. The following verses afford abundant evidence of all this in the insensate conduct of Israel at the time referred to. In this verse Daniel repeats the thoughts of Daniel 9:7 in order to place the sin and shame of the people opposite to the divine compassion, and then to pass from confession of sin to supplication for the sin-forgiving grace of the covenant-keeping God.
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