Hosea 4:7
As they were increased, so they sinned against me: therefore will I change their glory into shame.
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(7, 8) The increase in numbers and prosperity probably refers to the priesthood, who, as they grew in numbers, became more alienated from the true God. These eat up, or fatten on, the very sins they ought to rebuke. The reference here may be either to the portion of sacrificial offerings which fell to the share of the priests, or (less probably) to the sin-money and trespass-money exacted in place of sin-offerings of 2Kings 12:16. (On the general condition of the priesthood at this time, see W. R. Smith, Prophets of Israel pp. 99-101.)

Hosea 4:7. As they were increased, so they sinned — Or, The more they were increased, the more they sinned against me — The greater the favours were which I heaped upon them, and the more I multiplied them, the more presumptuously they sinned against me: see Hosea 13:6. Instead of, as they were increased, Bishop Horsley reads, In proportion as they were magnified, (a translation the Hebrew word, כרבם, will well bear,) “the priesthood,” he observes, “among the Jews was, by God’s appointment, a situation of the highest rank and authority; and the complaint is, that, in proportion as they were raised in dignity and power above the rest of the people, they surpassed them in impiety.” Therefore will I change their glory into shame — Therefore I will divest them of all those glories for which they pride themselves, and lead them away in a poor and miserable condition into captivity.

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.As they were increased, so they sinned against Me - The "increase" may be, either in actual number or in wealth, power or dignity. The text includes both. In both kinds of increase, the bad abuse God's gifts against Himself, and take occasion of them to offend Him. The more they were increased in number, the more there were to sin, the more they were who sinned. God promised to make Abraham's seed, "as the stars of heaven." They were to shine in the world through the light of the law, and the glory which God gave them while obeying Him. "Thy fathers went down into Egypt with threescore and ten persons; and now the Lord thy God hath made thee like the stars of heaven for multitude. Therefore thou shalt love the Lord thy God, and keep His charge, and His statutes, and his judgments and His commandments alway" Deuteronomy 10:22; Deuteronomy 10:1. God multiplied them, that there might be the more to adore Him. But instead of multiplying subjects, He multiplied apostates. "As many men as Israel had, so many altars did it build to daemons, in the sacrifices to whom it sinned against Me." "The more sons God gave to Israel, the more enemies He made to Himself, for Israel brought them up in hatred to God, and in the love and worship of idols." "As too among the devout, one provokes another, by word and deed, to good works, so, in the congregation of evil doers, one incites another to sins." Again, worldlings make all God's gifts minister to pride, and so to all the sins, which are the daughters of pride. "Jeshurun, God says, waxed fat and kicked; then he forsook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation" Deuteronomy 32:15. In this way too, the increase of wealth which God gives to those who forget Him, increases the occasions of ingratitude and sins.

I will turn their glory into shame - Such is the course of sin and chastisement. God bestows on man, gifts, which may be to him matter of praise and glory, if only ordered aright to their highest and only true end, the glory of God; man perverts them to vain-glory and thereby to sin; God turns the gifts, so abused, to shame. He not only gives them shame instead of their glory; He makes the glory itself the means and occasion of their shame. Beauty becomes the occasion of degradation; pride is proverbially near a fall; "vaulting ambition overleaps itself, and falls on th'other side;" riches and abundance of population tempt nations to wars, which become their destruction, or they invite other and stronger nations to prey upon them. "Thou hast indeed smitten Edom," was the message of Jehoash to Amaziah, "and thine heart hath lifted thee up; glory of this, and tarry at home, for why shouldest thou to thy hurt, that thou shouldest fall, even thou and Judah with thee? But Amaziah would not hear" 2 Kings 14:10-11. He lost his own wealth, wasted the treasures in God's house; and the walls of Jerusalem were broken down.

7. As they were increased—in numbers and power. Compare Ho 4:6, "thy children," to which their "increase" in numbers refers.

so they sinned—(Compare Ho 10:1 and Ho 13:6).

will I change their glory into shame—that is, I will strip them of all they now glory in (their numbers and power), and give them shame instead. A just retribution: as they changed their glory into shame, by idolatry (Ps 106:20; Jer 2:11; Ro 1:23; Php 3:19).

As they; kings, priests, and people of that age, that is, Jeroboam the Second, great-grandson of Jehu, who raised the kingdom to its highest pitch and glory.

Were increased; both multiplied for number, and grew great in riches, power, and honour. Such temper were they of, Isaiah 1:2.

So they sinned against me: sin grew with their wealth and honour; God who raised them was by them provoked the more, they turned his bounty into sin: too usual a return from sinners to God.

I will change, turn by a just retaliation,

their glory into shame: they turned their glory, all that in which they might glory above others, into sin; I will turn it into shame; that shall be their dishonour which, had it been well used, might have been their honour. I will degrade their priests, impoverish the people, captivate both.

As they were increased, so they sinned against me,.... As the children of the priests increased and grew up, they sinned against the Lord, imitating their parents; they were as many sinners as they were persons, not one to be excepted: this expresses their universal depravity and corruption. Some understand it of their increase, as in number, so in riches, wealth, honour, dignity, and authority, and yet they sinned more and more; which shows their ingratitude. So the Targum,

"as I have multiplied fruits unto them, &c.''

Therefore will I change their glory into shame, take away their priesthood from them, so that they shall be no more priests, and as if they never had been; and reduce them to a state of poverty, meanness, and disgrace; and cause them to go into captivity with the meanest of the people; and be in no more honour, but subject to as much scorn and contempt as they.

As they were {h} increased, so they sinned against me: therefore will I change their glory into shame.

(h) The more I was beneficial to them.

7. As they were increased …] Rather, The more they increased, the more, &c. No doubt the priestly caste shared in the general prosperity under Jeroboam II., but the official conscience, torpid to begin with, was only the more deadened. A flagrant example of the sinning of the priests is given in the next verse.

will I change their glory into shame] An ancient various reading (one of the so-called Tikkunç Soferim, on which see the Introductions to the Old Testament) is, ‘they have exchanged my glory for shame’, i.e. the glory of Jehovah for the shameful worship of Baal. ‘To exchange (gods)’ or ‘to take another in exchange’ is a recognized phrase for a lapse into idolatry, and we know that the Jewish scribes sometimes ventured to modify expressions in the Scriptures which they thought too bold or liable to misunderstanding (see Geiger’s Urschrift). If we do not go so far as to accept the whole of this various reading, it would seem that we must at least accept the correction of the 1st pers. sing. into the 3rd plur. in the verb, rendering they have exchanged their glory for infamy; comp. Jeremiah 2:11 ‘my people have exchanged their glory for that which doth not profit’ (i.e. idols), Psalm 106:20 ‘they exchanged their glory (Psa 5:50 his glory) for the form of an ox.’ Still the received reading, already adopted in the versions, gives a good sense, and considered by itself is not less justifiable than the proposed correction. According to it, ‘their glory’ means, not Jehovah, but the splendour of their position as priests. These verses are important as showing how influential that position was; we could not have inferred this from the scanty references in the historical books.

7–10. Here the priests are referred to in the third person; they have been degraded from a great position; how sore must be the punishment!

Verses 7, 8. - As they were increased; rather, multiplied. Whether כְּרֻבָּם be taken as infinitive with suffix and prefix, or as a noun, it will amount to the same. The reference is rather to the multitude of the population than to the greatness of their prosperity or the abundance of their wealth. In the latter sense it is understood by the Chaldee paraphrase, but in the former by the Syriac translator. So also Kimchi, where he says, "As for Aaron the priest their father, the Law of truth was in his mouth; but now that his sons have multiplied and spread abroad, they have sinned against me and forgotten my law; according as I did them good they did evil." He also gives as the explanation of others, "As I increased them in wealth and riches, they sinned against me." Their glory will I change into shame. The "therefore" of the Authorized Version is inserted unnecessarily. Both the Chaldee and Syriac render, "And they changed their glory into shame;" as they took אָמִיר for the infinitive הָמִיר, and that in the sense of the preterit; or the infinitive in the gerundival sense: "changing their glory into shame." Kimchi explains the meaning correctly: "Therefore I made them beads over the people and expiators, yet if they do not observe my Law I will change their glory into shame; and the people will contemn and despise them." Their numbers multiplied with the multiplication of idols, and the apostasy of the people kept pace with both; and now as a fit punishment they are to be deprived of their priestly glory - their dignity and splendor. They eat up the sin of my people. The word חַטַּאה may be understood in either of two senses; and the meaning of the verse will correspond thereto. It may either mean that these faithless priests lived upon the sin of the people, deriving their livelihood and profit from the people's idolatrous practices; or that they were delighted with their sin, approving rather than reproving them for the same. The other explanation understands the word of sin offering, and is thus expressed by Kimchi: "They are only priests for eating up the sin and trespass offering which the people offer on account of sins, not for teaching the Law or right way." To their iniquity they lift up (each one) his soul. They set their heart upon and eagerly desire the continued practice of sin on the part of the people that they may profit by the sacrifices. Thus Kimchi explains this clause in accordance with his exposition of the former: "The priests lift up every one his soul to the sin of the people, saying, When will they sin, and bring sin offering and trespass offering that we may eat?" Hosea 4:7"The more they increased, the more they sinned against me; their glory will I change into shame." כּרבּם, "according to their becoming great," does not refer to the increase of the population only (Hosea 9:11), but also to its growing into a powerful nation, to the increase of its wealth and prosperity, in consequence of which the population multiplied. The progressive increase of the greatness of the nation was only attended by increasing sin. As the nation attributed to its own idols the blessings upon which its prosperity was founded, and by which it was promoted (cf. Hosea 2:7), and looked upon them as the fruit and reward of its worship, it was strengthened in this delusion by increasing prosperity, and more and more estranged from the living God. The Lord would therefore turn the glory of Ephraim, i.e., its greatness or wealth, into shame. כּבודם is probably chosen on account of its assonance with כּרבּם. For the fact itself, compare Hosea 2:3, Hosea 2:9-11.
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