Hosea 4:5
Therefore shall you fall in the day, and the prophet also shall fall with you in the night, and I will destroy your mother.
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(5) The priest’s function is discharged in the day, and the prophet dreams in the night. Both will totter to their fall.

Thy mother—i.e., thy nation.

4:1-5 Hosea reproves for immorality, as well as idolatry. There was no truth, mercy, or knowledge of God in the land: it was full of murders, 2Ki 21:16. Therefore calamities were near, which would desolate the country. Our sins, as separate persons, as a family, as a neighbourhood, as a nation, cause the Lord to have a controversy with us; let us submit and humble ourselves before Him, that he may not go on to destroy.Therefore shalt thou fall - The two parts of the verse fill up each other. "By day and by night shall they fall, people and prophets together." Their calamities should come upon them successively, day and night. They should stumble by day, when there is least fear of stumbling John 11:9-10; and night should not by its darkness protect them. Evil should come "at noon-day" Jeremiah 15:8 upon them, seeing it, but unable to repel it; as Isaiah speaks of it as an aggravation of trouble, "thy land strangers devour it in thy presence" Isaiah 1:7; and the false prophets, who saw their visions in the night, should themselves be overwhelmed in the darkness, blinded by moral, perishing in actual, darkness.

And I will destroy thy mother - Individuals are spoken of as the children; the whole nation, as the mother. He denounces then the destruction of all, collectively and individually. They were to be cut off, root and branch. They were to lose their collective existence as a nation; and, lest private persons should flatter themselves with hope of escape, it is said to them, as if one by one, "thou shalt fall."

5. fall in the day—in broad daylight, a time when an attack would not be expected (see on [1117]Jer 6:4, 5; [1118]Jer 15:8).

in … night—No time, night or day, shall be free from the slaughter of individuals of the people, as well as of the false prophets.

thy mother—the Israelitish state, of which the citizens are the children (Ho 2:2).

Therefore, because thy sins are so many and so great, and thou art incorrigible in them,

shalt thou fall; the prophet turns his speech to the people, thou, O Israel; he speaks to them as to one person, they were all of one piece in sin, and should be so one in punishment. Fall; stumble, and fall, and be broken.

In the day; or this day, i.e. very suddenly, your fall shall be presently effected by your enemies’ power, vigilance, and successes; it shall be no longer delayed.

The prophet; who spake smooth things, who prophesied lies; the false prophets of Baal and the groves, Jeremiah 14:13-16 23:15.

Shall fall; be in as sad calamitous condition as any.

With thee; either the prophet that is with thee, that lived with and prophesied to this people; or, as we read it, when the people are ruined and captivated, with them the false prophet shall be likewise ruined and captivated.

In the night; either proverbially taken, people and prophet shall continually fall; or allusively, both shall fall as a man that falls in the night. Or else, the prophet shall fall in the darkest calamities, he shall be covered with thickest clouds, who falsely foretold and promised light unto such people.

And I, the Lord, against whom thou hast sinned, will destroy, cut off, or make to cease or be silent for ever: see Hosea 1:4.

Thy mother; both the state, or kingdom, and the synagogues, or mock churches: the public is as a mother to private persons: so all shall be destroyed; which also came to pass before the prophet Hosea died, he lived to see his threats fulfilled. Therefore shall thou fall in the day,.... Either, O ye people, everyone of you, being so refractory and incorrigible; or, O thou priest, being as bad as the people; for both, on account of their sins, should fall from their present prosperity and happiness into great evils and calamities; particularly into the hands of their enemies, and be carried captive into another land: and this should be "in the day", or "today" (r); immediately, quickly, in a very short time; or in the daytime, openly, publicly, in the sight of all, of all the nations round about, who shall rejoice at it; or in the day of prosperity, while things go well, amidst great plenty of all good things, and when such a fall was least expected:

and the prophet also shall fall with thee in the night: or the false prophets that are with you, as the Targum, and so Jarchi; either with you, O people, that dwell with you, teach you, and cause you to err; or with thee, O priest, being of the same family, as the prophets, many of them, were priests; now these should fall likewise into the same calamities, as it was but just they should, being the occasion of them: and this should be in the night; in the night of adversity and affliction, in the common calamity; or in the night of darkness, when they could not see at what they stumbled and fell, and so the more uncomfortable to them; or as the one falls in the day, the other falls in the night; as certainly as the one falls, so shall the other, and that very quickly, immediately, as the night follows the day:

and I will destroy thy mother; either Samaria, the metropolis of the nation; or the whole body of the people, the congregation, as the Targum, and Kimchi, and Ben Melech, being as a mother with respect to individuals; and are threatened with destruction because the corruption was general among prophets, priests, and people, and therefore none could hope to escape.

(r) "hodie", Munster, Montanus, Drusius, Tarnovius, Rivet; "hoc tempore", Pagninus. So Kimchi and Ben Melech.

Therefore shalt thou fall in the {d} day, and the prophet also shall fall with thee in the night, and I will destroy thy {e} mother.

(d) You will both perish together as one, because the former would not obey, and the other, because he would not admonish.

(e) That is, the synagogue in which you boast.

5. the prophet also] Hosea of course refers to the lower class of prophets, to whom prophecy was simply a means of livelihood (comp. Micah 3:11 and Amaziah’s words in Amos 7:12), and who, like the priests, often came visibly drunk to their most solemn functions (Isaiah 28:7). The spiritually-minded prophets of this period do not inveigh against their rivals as false prophets (this term came from the Sept. version of Jeremiah), but as those who prostitute a sacred calling to selfish purposes. Very similar charges are brought against the priests, who are not on that account called false priests, though from the highest point of view they were such.

thy mother] i.e. the stock from which thou springest, i.e. either the entire Israelitish race (comp. Hosea 2:2), or some partly independent portion of that race, not indeed here a city (as 2 Samuel 20:19; comp. Psalm 149:2), but the caste or clan of the priests (so Prof. Robertson Smith). The expression ‘I will also forget thy children’ (see below) favours the latter view.Verse 5. - The parallelism of this verse is marked by the peculiarity of dividing between the two members what belongs to the sentence as one whole. Instead of saying that the people would fall (literally, stumble) in the day, and the prophet with them in the night, the meaning of the sentence, divested of its peculiar form of parallelism, is that people and prophet alike would fall together, at all times, both by day and by night, that is to say, there would be no time free from the coming calamities; and there would be no possibility of escape, either for the sinful people or their unfaithful priests; the darkness of the night would not hide them, the light of the day would not aid them; destruction was the doom of priests and people, inevitable and at all times. And I will destroy thy mother. Their mother was the whole nation as such - the kingdom of Israel. The expression is somewhat contemptuous, as though he said of the individual members that they were truly their mother's children - resembling her erewhile in sin and soon in sorrow.

(1) Though the verb דמה is seldom used in Qal to denote "likeness," Abarbanel, as quoted by Rosenmüller, translates, "I have been like thy mother," and explains of the people addressing priest and prophet as a mother reproving her petulant children in order to improve them. Besides the far-fetched nature of such a rendering, there is the formidable grammatical objection that, in the sense of "similitude," this verb requires to be constructed with le or el. so that it should be le immeka or el immeka. "This word, when derived from demuth, likewise has el with seghol after it; but without el, it has the meaning of destroy," is the statement of Aben Ezra. The LXX., assigning to the verb the sense of "similarity," renders the phrase by πυκτὶ ὀμοίωσα τὴν μητέρα σου, "I have compared thy mother to night."

(2) Jerome, connecting the verb with דוּם or דָמַם, understands it in the sense of "silence:" "I have made thy mother silent in the night; that is, "Israel is delivered up in the dark night of captivity, sorrow, and overwhelming distress." The Syriac likewise has: "And thy mother has become silent" (if shathketh be read). The Chaldee, though more periphrastic, brings out nearly the same sense: "I will overspread your assembly with stupefaction." To the same purport is the exposition of Rashi: "My people shall be stupefied as a man who sits and is overwhelmed with stupor, so that no answer is heard from his mouth." The meaning "destroy" is well supported by the cognate Arabic, and gives a good sense; thus Gesenius renders: "I destroy thy mother, that is, lay waste thy country." Rather, the nation, collectively, is the mother; while the members individually are the children. Nor shall private persons escape in the public catastrophe - root and branch are to perish. Kimchi's comment on דמיחי is: "I will cut off the whole congregation, so that no congregation shall remain in Israel; for they shall be scattered in the exile, the one here, the other there." Daniel 9:1 and Daniel 9:2 mention the occasion on which the penitential prayer (vv. 3-19) was offered, and the divine revelation following thereupon regarding the time and the course of the oppression of the people of God by the world-power till the completion of God's plan of salvation.

Regarding Darius, the son of Ahasverosch, of the race of the Medes, see under Daniel 6:1. In the word המלך the Hophal is to be noticed: rex constitutus, factus est. It shows that Darius did not become king over the Chaldean kingdom by virtue of a hereditary right to it, nor that he gained the kingdom by means of conquest, but that he received it (קבּל, Daniel 6:1) from the conqueror of Babylon, Cyrus, the general of the army. The first year of the reign of Darius the Mede over the Chaldean kingdom is the year 538 b.c., since Babylon was taken by the Medes and Persians under Cyrus in the year 539-538 b.c. According to Ptolemy, Cyrus the Persian reigned nine years after Nabonadius. But the death of Cyrus, as is acknowledged, occurred in the year 529 b.c. From the nine years of the reign of Cyrus, according to our exposition, two years are to be deducted for Darius the Mede, so that the reign of Cyrus by himself over the kingdom which he founded begins in the year 536, in which year the seventy years of the Babylonish exile of the Jews were completed; cf. The exposition under Daniel 1:1 with the chronological survey in the Com. on the Books of the Kings.

The statement as to the time, Daniel 9:1, is again repeated in the beginning of Daniel 9:2, on account of the relative sentence coming between, so as to connect that which follows with it. We translate (in Daniel 9:2), with Hgstb., Maur., Hitzig, "I marked, or gave heed, in the Scriptures to the number of the years," so that מספּר (number) forms the object to בּינתי (I understood); cf. Proverbs 7:7. Neither the placing of בּספרים (by books) first nor the Atnach under this word controvert this view; for the object is placed after "by books" because a further definition is annexed to it; and the separation of the object from the verb by the Atnach is justified by this consideration, that the passage contains two statements, viz., that Daniel studied the Scriptures, and that his study was directed to the number of the years, etc. בּספרים, with the definite article, does not denote a collection of known sacred writings in which the writings of Jeremiah were included, so that, seeing the collection of the prophets cannot be thought of without the Pentateuch, by this word we are to understand (with Bleek, Gesenius, v. Leng., Hitzig) the recognised collection of the O.T. writings, the Law and the Prophets. For הסּפרים, τὰ βιβλιά, is not synonymous with הכּתוּבים, αἱ γραφαί, but denotes only writings in the plural, but does not say that these writings formed already a recognised collection; so that from this expression nothing can be concluded regarding the formation of the O.T. canon. As little can בּספרים refer, with Hv. and Kran., to the letter of Jeremiah to the exiles (Jeremiah 29), for this reason, that not in Jeremiah 29, but in Jeremiah 25:11., the seventy years of the desolation of the land of Judah, and implic. of Jerusalem, are mentioned. The plur. ספרים also can be understood of a single letter, only if the context demands or makes appropriate this narrower application of the word, as e.g., 2 Kings 19:14. But here this is not the case, since Jeremiah in two separate prophecies speaks of the seventy years, and not in the letter of Jeremiah 29, but only in Jeremiah 25, has he spoken of the seventy years' desolation of the land. In בּספרים lies nothing further than that writings existed, among which were to be found the prophecies of Jeremiah; and the article, the writings, is used, because in the following passage something definite is said of these writings.

In these writings Daniel considered the number of the years of which Jeremiah had prophesied. אשׁר, as Daniel 8:26, with respect to which, relates not to השׁנים, but to השׁנים מספּר (number of the years). It is no objection against this that the repetition of the words "seventy years" stands opposed to this connection (Klief.), for this repetition does not exist, since מספּר does not declare the number of the years. With למלּאת (to fulfil) the contents of the word of Jehovah, as given by Jeremiah, are introduced. לחרבות does not stand for the accusative: to cause to be complete the desolation of Jerusalem (Hitzig), but ל signifies in respect of, with regard to. This expression does not lean on Jeremiah 29:10 (Kran.), but on Jeremiah 25:12 ("when seventy years are accomplished"). חרבות, properly, desolated places, ruins, here a desolated condition. Jerusalem did not certainly lie in ruins for seventy years; the word is not thus to be interpreted, but is chosen partly with regard to the existing state of Jerusalem, and partly with reference to the words of Jeremiah 25:9, Jeremiah 25:11. Yet the desolation began with the first taking of Jerusalem, and the deportation of Daniel and his companions and a part of the sacred vessels of the temple, in the fourth years of Jehoiakim (606 b.c.).

(Note: Thus also the seventy years of the Exile are reckoned in 2 Chronicles 36:21-23; Ezra 1:1. This Ewald also recognises (Proph. iii. p. 430), but thinks that it is not an exact reckoning of the times, but rather, according to Zechariah 1:12 and Daniel 9:25, that the destruction of Jerusalem forms the date of the commencement of the desolation and of the seventy years. But Daniel 9:25 contains no expression, or even intimation, regarding the commencement of the Exile; and in the words of Zechariah 1:12, "against which Thou hast had indignation these threescore and ten years," there does not lie the idea that the seventy years prophesied of by Jeremiah came to an end in the second year of Darius Hystaspes. See under this passage.)

Consequently, in the first year of the reign of Darius the Mede over the kingdom of the Chaldeans the seventy years prophesied of by Jeremiah were now full, the period of the desolation of Jerusalem determined by God was almost expired. What was it that moved Daniel at this time to pour forth a penitential prayer in behalf of Jerusalem and the desolated sanctuary? Did he doubt the truth of the promise, that God, after seventy years of exile in Babylon, would visit His people and fulfil the good word He had spoken, that He would again bring back His people to Judea (Jeremiah 29:10)? Certainly not, since neither the matter of his prayer, nor the divine revelation which was vouchsafed to him in answer to his prayer, indicated any doubt on his part regarding the divine promise.

According to the opinion of Bleek and Ewald, it was Daniel's uncertainty regarding the termination of the seventy years which moved him to prayer Bleek (Jahrbb.f. D. Theol. v. p. 71) thus expresses himself on the subject: "This prophecy of Jeremiah might be regarded as fulfilled in the overthrow of the Babylonian kingdom and the termination of the Exile, when the Jews obtained from Cyrus permission to return to their native land and to rebuild their city and temple, but yet not perfectly, so far as with the hope of the return of the people from exile there was united the expectation that they would then turn in truth to their God, and that Jehovah would fulfil all His good promises to them to make them partakers of the Messianic redemption (cf. Jeremiah 29:10., also other prophecies of Jeremiah and of other prophets regarding the return of the people from exile, such as Isaiah 40ff.); but this result was not connected in such extent and fulness with the return of the people and the restoration of the state." On the supposition of the absolute inspiration of the prophets, it appeared therefore appropriate "to regard Jeremiah's prophecy of the seventy years, after the expiry of which God will fulfil His good promises to His people, as stretching out into a later period beyond that to which the seventy years would extend, and on that account to inquire how it was to be properly interpreted." Ewald (Proph. iii. p. 421ff.) is of opinion that these seventy years of Jeremiah did not pass by without the fulfilment of his prophecy, that the ruins of Jerusalem would not continue for ever. Already forty-nine years after its destruction a new city of Jerusalem took the place of the old as the centre of the congregation of the true religion, but the stronger hopes regarding the Messianic consummation which connected itself herewith were neither then, nor in all the long times following, down to that moment in which our author (in the age of the Maccabees) lived and wrote, ever fulfilled. Then the faithful were everywhere again exposed to the severest sufferings, such as they had not experienced since the old days of the destruction of Jerusalem. Therefore the anxious question as to the duration of such persecution and the actual beginning of the Messianic time, which Daniel, on the ground of the mysterious intimation in Daniel 7:12, Daniel 7:25 and Daniel 8:13., regarding the period of the sufferings of the time of the end, sought here to solve, is agitated anew; for he shows how the number of the seventy years of Jeremiah, which had long ago become sacred, yet accorded with these late times without losing its original truth. Thus Ewald argues.

These two critics in their reasoning proceed on the dogmatic ground, which they regard as firmly established, that the book of Daniel is a product of the age of the Maccabees. All who oppose the genuineness of this book agree with them in the view that this chapter contains an attempt, clothed in the form of a divine revelation communicated to the prophet in answer to his prayer, to solve the mystery how Jeremiah's prophecy of the beginning of the Messianic salvation after the seventy years of exile is to be harmonized with the fact that this salvation, centuries after the fall of the Babylonish kingdom and the return of the Jews from the Babylonish exile, had not yet come, but that instead of it, under Antiochus Epiphanes, a time of the severest oppression had come. How does this opinion stand related to the matter of this chapter, leaving out of view all other grounds for the genuineness of the book of Daniel? Does the prayer of Daniel, or the divine revelation communicated to him by means of Gabriel regarding the seventy weeks, contain elements which attest its correctness or probability?

The prayer of Daniel goes forth in the earnest entreaty that the Lord would turn away His anger from the city Jerusalem and His holy mountain, and cause His face to shine on the desolation and on the city that was called by His name (Daniel 9:15-18). If this prayer is connected with the statement in Daniel 9:2, that Daniel was moved thereto by the consideration of the words of Jeremiah regarding the desolation of Jerusalem, we can understand by the ruins, for the removal of which Daniel prayed, only the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple which was brought about by the Chaldeans. Consequently the prayer indicates that the desolation of Jerusalem predicted by Jeremiah and accomplished by Nebuchadnezzar still continued, and that the city and the temple had not yet been rebuilt. This, therefore, must have been in the time of the Exile, and not in the time of Antiochus, who, it is true, desolated the sanctuary by putting an end to the worship of Jehovah and establishing the worship of idols, but did not lay in ruins either the temple or the city.

In his message (Daniel 9:24-27) the angel speaks only of the going forth of the word to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, and present the going forth of this word as the beginning of the seventy weeks of Daniel determined upon the people and the holy city within which Jerusalem must be built, and thus distinguishes the seventy weeks as distinctly as possible from Jeremiah's seventy years during which Jerusalem and Judah should lie desolate. Thus is set aside the opinion that the author of this chapter sought to interpret the seventy years of Jeremiah by the seventy weeks; and it shows itself to be only the pure product of the dogmatic supposition, that this book does not contain prophecies of the prophet Daniel living in the time of the Exile, but only apocalyptic dreams of a Maccabean Jew.

(Note: The supposition that the seventy weeks, Daniel 9:24, are an interpretation of the seventy years of Jeremiah, is the basis on which Hitzig rests the assertion that the passage does not well adjust itself to the standpoint of the pretended Daniel, but is in harmony with the time of the Maccabees. The other arguments which Hitzig and others bring forth against this chapter as the production of Daniel, consist partly in vain historical or dogmatic assertions, such as that there are doubts regarding the existence of Darius of Media, - partly in misinterpretations, such as that Daniel wholly distinguishes himself, Daniel 9:6, Daniel 9:10, from the prophets, and presents himself as a reader of their writings (Hitz.), - opinions which are no better founded than the conclusions of Berth., v. Leng., and Staeh., drawn from the mention of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, Daniel 9:7, and of the holy city, Daniel 9:24, that Jerusalem was then still inhabited and the temple still standing. To this it is added, that the prayer of Daniel is an imitation of the prayers of Ezra 9:1-15 and Nehemiah 9, or, as Ewald thinks, an extract from the prayer of Baruch (Bar. 1 and 2).)

Moreover, it is certainly true that in the Exile the expectation that the perfection and glory of the kingdom of God by the Messiah would appear along with the liberation of the Jews from Babylon was founded on the predictions of the earlier prophets, but that Daniel shared this expectation the book presents no trace whatever. Jeremiah also, neither in Jeremiah 25 nor in Jeremiah 29, where he speaks of the seventy years of the domination of Babylon, announces that the Messianic salvation would begin immediately with the downfall of the Babylonian kingdom. In Jeremiah 25 he treats only of the judgment, first over Judah, and then over Babylon and all the kingdoms around; and in Jeremiah 29 he speaks, it is true, of the fulfilling of the good word of the return of the Jews to their fatherland when seventy years shall be fulfilled for Babylon (Daniel 9:10), and of the counsel of Jehovah, which is formed not for the destruction but for the salvation of His people, of the restoration of the gracious relation between Jehovah and His people, and the gathering together and the bringing back of the prisoners from among all nations whither they had been scattered (Daniel 9:11-14), but he says not a word to lead to the idea that all this would take place immediately after these seventy years.

Now if Daniel, in the first year of Darius the Mede, i.e., in the sixty-ninth year of the Exile, prayed thus earnestly for the restoration of Jerusalem and the sanctuary, he must have been led to do so from a contemplation of the then existing state of things. The political aspect of the world-kingdom could scarcely have furnished to him such a motive. The circumstance that Darius did not immediately after the fall of Babylon grant permission to the Jews to return to their fatherland and rebuild Jerusalem and the temple, could not make him doubt the certainty of the fulfilment of the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah regarding the duration of the Exile, since the prophecy of Isaiah, Isaiah 44:28, that Coresch (Cyrus) should build Jerusalem and lay the foundation of the temple was beyond question known to him, and Darius had in a certain sense reached the sovereignty over the Chaldean kingdom, and was of such an age (Daniel 6:1) that now his reign must be near its end, and Cyrus would soon mount his throne as his successor. That which moved Daniel to prayer was rather the religious condition of his own people, among whom the chastisement of the Exile had not produced the expected fruits of repentance; so that, though he did not doubt regarding the speedy liberation of his people from Babylonish exile, he might still hope for the early fulfilment of the deliverance prophesied of after the destruction of Babylon and the return of the Jews to Canaan. This appears from the contents of the prayer. From the beginning to the close it is pervaded by sorrow on account of the great sinfulness of the people, among whom also there were no signs of repentance. The prayer for the turning away of the divine wrath Daniel grounds solely on the mercy of God, and upon that which the Lord had already done for His people by virtue of His covenant faithfulness, the צדקות (righteousness) of the Lord, not the "righteousness" of the people. This confession of sin, and this entreaty for mercy, show that the people, as a whole, were not yet in that spiritual condition in which they might expect the fulfilment of that promise of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 29:12.): "Ye shall seek me and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart; and I will be found of you, and will turn away your captivity," etc.

With this view of the contents of the prayer corresponds the divine answer which Gabriel brings to the prophet, the substance of which is to this effect, that till the accomplishment of God's plan of salvation in behalf of His people, yet seventy weeks are appointed, and that during this time great and severe tribulations would fall upon the people and the city.

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