Hosea 4:14
I will not punish your daughters when they commit whoredom, nor your spouses when they commit adultery: for themselves are separated with whores, and they sacrifice with harlots: therefore the people that doth not understand shall fall.
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(14) Jehovah threatens to visit no punishment on the women for their licentiousness, because they are more sinned against than sinning.

Sacrifice with harlots.—Referring to the sensuality of the religious rites, as represented by the women (q’dēshôth) who dedicated themselves to these impurities.

Hosea 4:14. I will not punish your daughters, &c. — I will suffer your daughters to go on in their iniquity, and to fall from one degree of wickedness to another. For themselves — That is, for yourselves; are separated with whores — That is, you go aside and retire with the women who prostitute themselves in the groves, or in the precincts of the idolatrous temples. And sacrifice with harlots — Hebrew, עם הקדשׁות, with women set apart, or consecrated to prostitution. The meaning is, that the people partook in those rites of idolatrous worship in which prostitution made a stated part of the religious festivity. Such lewd practices were frequent in the heathen temples dedicated to Venus and other impure deities. The expressions seem to allude to the practice mentioned Bar 6:43, and minutely described by Herodotus, lib. 1. cap. 199. Therefore the people that doth not understand shall fall — Hebrew, ילבשׂ, shall be thrown down, prostrated, dashed to the ground, or beaten, as the Vulgate renders it.

4:12-19 The people consulted images, and not the Divine word. This would lead to disorder and sin. Thus men prepare scourges for themselves, and vice is spread through a people. Let not Judah come near the idolatrous worship of Israel. For Israel was devoted to idols, and must now be let alone. When sinners cast off the easy yoke of Christ, they go on in sin till the Lord saith, Let them alone. Then they receive no more warnings, feel no more convictions: Satan takes full possession of them, and they ripen for destruction. It is a sad and sore judgment for any man to be let alone in sin. Those who are not disturbed in their sin, will be destroyed for their sin. May we be kept from this awful state; for the wrath of God, like a strong tempest, will soon hurry impenitent sinners into ruin.I will not punish your daughters - God threatens, as the severest woe, that He will not punish their sins with the correction of a Father in this present life, but will leave the sinners, unheeded, to follow all iniquity. It is the last punishment of persevering stoners, that God leaves them to prosper in their sins and in those things which help them to sin. Hence, we are taught to pray, "O Lord, correct me, but in judgment, not in Thine anger" Jeremiah 10:24. For since God chastiseth those whom He loveth, it follows, "if we be without chasetisement, whereof all are partakers, then are we bastards, and not sons" Hebrews 12:8. To be chastened severely for lesser sins, is a token of great love of God toward us; to sin on without punishment is a token of God's extremest displeasure, and a sign of reprobation. : "Great is the offence, if, when thou hast sinned, thou art undeserving of the wrath of God."

For themselves are separated with whores - God turns from them as unworthy to be spoken to anymore, and speaks of them, They "separate themselves," from whom? and with whom? They separate themselves "from" God, and with the degraded ones and "with" devils. Yet so do all those who choose willful sin.

And they sacrifice - (continually, as before) with (the) harlots The unhappy women here spoken of were such as were "consecrated" (as their name imports) to their vile gods and goddesses, and to prostitution. This dreadful consecration, yea desecration, whereby they were taught to seek honor in their disgrace, was spread in different forms over Phoenicia, Syria, Phrygia, Assyria, Babylonia. Ashtaroth, (the Greek Astarte) was its chief object. This horrible worship prevailed in Midian, when Israel was entering the promised land, and it suggested the devilish device of Balaam Numbers 25; Numbers 31:8, Numbers 31:16 to entangle Israel in sin whereby they might forfeit the favor of God. The like is said to subsist to this day in pagan India. The sin was both the cause and effect of the superstition. Man's corrupt heart gave rise to the worship: and the worship in turn fostered the corruption. He first sanctioned the sin by aid of a degrading worship of nature, and then committed it under plea of that worship. He made his sin a law to him. Women, who never relapsed into the sin, sinned in obedience to the dreadful law . Blinded as they were, individual pagan had the excuse of their hereditary blindness; the Jews had imperfect grace. The sins of Christians are self sought, against light and grace.

Therefore the people that doth not understand shall fall - The word comprises both, "that doth not understand," and, "that will not understand." They might have understood, if they would. God had revealed Himself to them, and had given to them His law, and was still sending to them His prophets, so that they could not have known and understood God's will, had they willed. Ignorance, which we might avoid or cure, if we would, is itself a sin. It cannot excuse sin. They shall, he says, fall, "or be cast headlong." Those who blind their eyes, so as not to see or understand God's will, bring themselves to sudden ruin, which hide from themselves, until they fall headlong in it.

14. I will not punish … daughters—I will visit with the heaviest punishments "not" the unchaste "daughters and spouses," but the fathers and husbands; for it is these who "themselves" have set the bad example, so that as compared with the punishment of the latter, that of the former shall seem as nothing [Munster].

separated with whores—withdrawn from the assembly of worshippers to some receptacle of impurity for carnal connection with whores.

sacrifice with harlots—They commit lewdness with women who devote their persons to be violated in honor of Astarte. (So the Hebrew for "harlots" means, as distinguished from "whores"). Compare Nu 25:1-3; and the prohibition, De 23:18.

not understand—(Isa 44:18; 45:20).

shall fall—shall be cast down.

I will not punish, or visit upon,

your daughters; God will not any more lay on them such restraints, as remarkable punishments are usually to all that observe them. They are threatened thus to be thrown up to their own hearts’ and others’ lusts. You have rejected my law which directed the correction and punishment of such sins, and do you think I will by extraordinary courses restrain, where you cast off the ordinary? You shall have no bitter water of jealousy to discover, convict, and torment an adulterous wife, as Judah hath, Numbers 5:12, &c., nor will I by unusual strokes of my hand smite them. This impunity will in. crease your grief and shame, and so you shall be punished.

Themselves, the husbands and fathers, are examples to wives and daughters; those are

separated with the lewd women, which either they took to them upon putting away their lawful wife, which these men did to satisfy their lusts; or else separated, i.e. withdrawn from the company or their fellow idolaters, that in privacy they might commit whoredom with the women they choose to themselves for that end.

They sacrifice with harlots; perform the rites of sacrifices, both in offering first and in feasting next, in which feasts wine and women would prove great and prevalent temptations to whoredom among those men.

Therefore the people that doth not understand: by all this it is evident this people is a sottish, ignorant people, that know not God, as Hosea 4:1,6,11.

Shall fall; be utterly ruined, broken into pieces, and scattered; broken at home first by intestine wars, next by foreign invasions, and carried away at last by conquering enemies.

I will not punish your daughters when they commit whoredoms, nor your spouses when they commit adultery,.... Either not punish them at all, so that they shall go on in sin, and to a greater degree, to the disgrace and reproach of their parents and husbands; or not as yet, or not so severely in them, because it was by their example they were led into it. Jarchi's note is very impertinent, that God threatens them with the disuse of the bitter waters of jealousy. The words are by some rendered interrogatively, "shall I not punish your daughters?" &c. (r); verily I will; and not them only, but their parents and husbands too, who deserve more severe corrections:

for themselves are separated with whores, and sacrifice with harlots; they separated themselves to Baalpeor, that shameful idol, Hosea 9:10, the Priapus of the Gentiles, in whose idolatrous worship many obscene rites were used; these men separated themselves from their wives, as well as from God and his worship, and from the company and conversation of men, and in private committed uncleanness with the women that attended, and with the female priests that officiated at the worship of idols; those "sanctified" ones, as the word may be rendered; and after that ate of things offered to idols with them. So the Targum,

"they associated themselves with whores, and ate and drank with harlots.''

Some versions understand the latter of catamites, or sodomitical persons, and of the wickedness practised by them in such places.

Therefore the people that doth not understand; the law, as the Targum; what is to be done, and what to be avoided; the difference between the true and false religion; have no knowledge of divine and spiritual things, at least are very wavering and unsettled in their minds about religion, having thought little, and know less, of the matter:

shall fall: into idolatry and adultery, led by such examples. So the Septuagint version, "is implicated with a whore"; or "embraces a whore", as the Syriac and Arabic versions; see Proverbs 7:22 or shall fall into calamities, ruin, and destruction; shall be dashed, as the Targum; so the Arabic interpreter of Mark 9:26, uses the word: though Aben Ezra and Kimchi say, that in the Arabic language it signifies to be perplexed and disturbed, so as not to know what to do (s). The first sense seems to be best, of being scandalized, offended, and stumbling and falling into sin; and which Abarbinel suggests, and it agrees with what follows concerning Judah.

(r) So Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Schmidt. (s) Vid. R. Sol. Urbin, Ohel Moed, fol. 43. 2.

I will not {q} punish your daughters when they commit whoredom, nor your spouses when they commit adultery: for themselves are separated with whores, and they sacrifice with harlots: therefore the people that doth not understand shall fall.

(q) I will not correct your shame to bring you to proper living, but will let you run headlong to your own damnation.

14. The precedence in guilt belongs to the elders who set so wicked an example.

themselves are separated with] Rather, they themselves go aside with. A change of person, instead of ‘ye yourselves.’

harlots] Rather, consecrated harlots, i.e. women who dedicate themselves, or are dedicated by others, to the service of Ashérah or of Ashtoreth, and give up their chastity in honour of the goddess. Mesha, king of Moab, says that, when he took Nebo from the Israelites, he slew the men, but spared the women in order to devote them to Ashtar-Chemosh (Moabite inscription, lines 16, 17).

sacrifice] Probably the reference is partly to the feast which followed the sacrifice (Exodus 32:6).

shall fall] Rather, shall be dashed to the ground.

Verse 14. - I will not punish your daughters when they commit whoredom, nor your spouses when they commit adultery. The spiritual adultery of parents and husbands would be punished by the carnal adultery of daughters and wives; sin would thus be punished by sin. Their own dishonor and disgrace, through the unfaithfulness of persons so near to them, would impress them with a sense of the dishonor done to God, the spiritual Husband of his people; their feeling of pain and shame in consequence would convey to them a clearer notion of the abhorrence which their offences had occasioned to God. But their punishment would become more severe, and their pain intensified by the Divine refusal to avenge them by punishing the lewdness that caused such dishonor. While punishment would prevent the sin and consequent reproach, impunity, or the postponement of punishment, would leave the offenders to go on in their course of sin and shame. Aben Ezra comments on this fourteenth verse as follows: "The sense is - It is not to be wondered at if the daughters commit whoredom; for they themselves, when they go up to the tops of the mountains to burn incense, eat and drink with harlots and commit whoredom - all of them. And, behold, the sense is, not that he shall not punish them at all, but he speaks in regard to, i.e. in comparison with, the fathers; for they teach them to commit whoredom doing according to their works. Perhaps the daughters are still little, therefore I shall not punish." Rashi thinks that this threatening refers to the disuse of the bitter waters of jealousy, so that suspected guilt could not be detected. But there is nothing to intimate such a reference; nor would it be in keeping with the scope of the passage. Again, some, as in the margin of the Authorized Version, read the words, not indicatively, but interrogatively - "Shall I not punish," etc.? This would require such a meaning to be read into the passage as the following: "Assuredly I shall punish them; and not the daughters and daughters-in-law only, but the parents and husbands still more severely, because of their greater criminality." Equally unsatisfactory is the explanation of Theodoret, who, taking פָקַד in a good sense, which it has with the accusative, understands it of God's refusing any protection or preservation of their daughters and spouses from outrage at the hands of a hostile soldiery, so that such sins as they themselves had been guilty in private, would be committed with the females of their family in public. For they themselves are separated with whores, and they sacrifice with harlots. The change of person appears to imply that God turns away with inexpressible disgust from such vileness, and, turning aside to a third party, explains the grounds of his procedure. The Qedesheth were females who devoted themselves to licentiousness in the service of Ashtaroth, the Sidonian Venus. Persons of this description were attached to idol temples and idolatrous worship in heathen lands in ancient times, as in India at the present time. The 'Speaker's Commentary' calls them "devotee-harlots," and cites an allusion to the custom from the Moabite Stone, as follows: "I did not kill the women and maidens, for I devoted them to Ashtar-kemosh." After stating the humiliating fact that fathers and husbands in Israel, instead of uniting with their wives in the worship of Jehovah, separated themselves, going aside with these female idolaters for the purpose of lewdness, and shared in their sacrificial feasts, the prophet, or rather God by the prophet, impatient of the recital of such shameless licentiousness, and indignant at such presumptuous sinning, closes abruptly with the declaration of the recklessness, and denunciation of the ruin of all such offenders, in the words - the people that doth not understand shall fall; margin, be punished; rather, dashed to the ground, or plunge into ruin (nilbat). Both Aben Ezra and Kimchi give from the Arabic, as an alternative sense of silbat, to fall into error. Hosea 4:14"I will not visit it upon your daughters that they commit whoredom, nor upon your daughters-in-law that they commit adultery; for they themselves go aside with harlots, and with holy maidens do they sacrifice: and the nation that does not see is ruined." God would not punish the daughters and daughters-in-law for their whoredom, because the elder ones did still worse. "So great was the number of fornications, that all punishment ceased, in despair of any amendment" (Jerome). With כּי הם God turns away from the reckless nation, as unworthy of being further addressed or exhorted, in righteous indignation at such presumptuous sinning, and proceed to speak about it in the third person: for "they (the fathers and husbands, not 'the priest,' as Simson supposes, since there is no allusion to them here) go," etc. פּרד, piel in an intransitive sense, to separate one's self, to go aside for the purpose of being alone with the harlots. Sacrificing with the qedēshōth, i.e., with prostitutes, or Hetairai (see at Genesis 38:14), may have taken its rise in the prevailing custom, viz., that fathers of families came with their wives to offer yearly sacrifices, and the wives shared in the sacrificial meals (1 Samuel 1:3.). Coming to the altar with Hetairai instead of their own wives, was the climax of shameless licentiousness. A nation that had sunk so low and had lost all perception must perish. לבט equals Arab. lbṭ: to throw to the earth; or in the niphal, to cast headlong into destruction (Proverbs 10:8, Proverbs 10:10).
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