Hosea 5:1
Hear ye this, O priests; and hearken, ye house of Israel; and give ye ear, O house of the king; for judgment is toward you, because ye have been a snare on Mizpah, and a net spread upon Tabor.
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(1) House of the king refers to his following on both sides of the Jordan—Mizpah on the east side, in Gilead, and Tabor on the west. They are singled out as being military strongholds, where the princes of the royal house, with the apostate priests, exercised their deadly hold upon the people, waylaying them, as birds and beasts are snared in the mountains of prey. (Comp. Hosea 6:8-9.)

Judgment is toward you.—More accurately, is meant for you.

Hosea 5:1. Hear this, O ye priests — Or rather, princes, as Dr. Waterland renders כהנים, a reading which agrees better with the house of the king that follows, and the word admitting of both significations. For judgment is toward you — Or, denounced against you, as Archbishop Newcome renders it, a translation favoured by the LXX., προς υμας εστι το κριμα; by Houbigant, who reads, adest vobis judicium, judgment is at hand to you, or hangs over you. Because ye have been a snare on Mizpah, and upon Tabor — Mizpah (a name derived from צפה, to watch, namely, from an eminence) was a mountain, and probably a city too, of Gilead. Tabor was a beautiful and fruitful mountain in the tribe of Zebulun. These places being much frequented by hunters and fowlers, many snares and nets were laid in them to catch birds and beasts: and with an allusion to this the Israelites are here described as insnaring men on these places into idolatry, because many of the tribe of Judah had been seduced, or drawn into idolatry, by their bad example.

5:1-7 The piercing eye of God saw secret liking and disposition to sin, the love the house of Israel had to their sins, and the dominion their sins had over them. Pride makes men obstinate in other sins. And as Judah was treading in the same steps, they would fall with Israel. By dealing treacherously with the Lord, men only deceive themselves. Those that go to seek the Lord with their flocks and their herds only, and not with their hearts and souls, cannot expect to find him; nor shall any speed who do not seek the Lord while he may be found. See how much it is our concern to seek God early, now, while it is the accepted time, and the day of salvation.Hear ye this, O ye priests - God, with the solemn threefold summons, arraigns anew all classes in Israel before Him, not now to repentance but to judgment. Neither the religious privileges of the priests, nor the multitude of the people, nor the civil dignity of the king, should exempt any from God's judgment. The priests are, probably, the true but corrupted priests of God, who had fallen away to the idolatries with which they were surrounded, and, by their apostasy, had strengthened them. The king, here first mentioned by Hosea, was probably the unhappy Zechariah, a weak, pliant, self-indulgent, drunken scoffer , who, after eleven years of anarchy, succeeded his father, only to be murdered.

For judgment is toward you - Literally, "the judgment." The kings and the priests had hitherto been the judges; now they were summoned before Him, who is the Judge of judges, and the King of kings. To teach the law was part of the priest's office; to enforce it, belonged to the king. The guilt of both was enhanced, in that they, being so entrusted with it, had corrupted it. They had the greatest sin, as being the seducers of the people, and therefore have the severest sentence. The prophet, dropping for the time the mention of the people, pronounces the judgment on the seducers.

Because ye have been a snare on Mizpah - Mizpah, the scene of the solemn covenant of Jacob with Laban, and of his signal protection by God, lay in the mountainous part of Gilead on the East of Jordan. Tabor was the well-known Mountain of the Transfiguration, which rises out of the midst of the plain of Jezreel or Esdraelon, one thousand feet high, in the form of a sugar-loaf. Of Mount Tabor it is related by Jerome, that birds were still snared upon it. But something more seems intended than the mere likeness of birds, taken in the snare of a fowler. This was to be seen everywhere; and so, had this been all, there hath no ground to mention these two historical spots. The prophets has selected places on both sides of Jordan, which were probably centers of corruption, or special scenes of wickedness. Mizpah, being a sacred place in the history of the patriarch Jacob Genesis 31:23-49, was probably, like Gilgal and other sacred places, desecrated by idolatry. Tabor was the scene of God's deliverance of Israel by Barak Judges 4. There, by encouraging idolatries, they became hunters, not pastors, of souls Ezekiel 13:18, Ezekiel 13:20. There is an old Jewish tradition , that lyers-in-wait were set in these two places, to intercept and murder those Israelites, who would go up to worship at Jerusalem. And this tradition gains countenance from the mention of slaughter in the next verse.


Ho 5:1-5. God's Judgments on the Priests, People, and Princes of Israel for Their Sins.

Judah, too, being guilty shall be punished; nor shall Assyria, whose aid they both sought, save them; judgments shall at last lead them to repentance.

1. the king—probably Pekah; the contemporary of Ahaz, king of Judah, under whom idolatry was first carried so far in Judah as to call for the judgment of the joint Syrian and Israelite invasion, as also that of Assyria.

judgment is towards you—that is, threatens you from God.

ye have been a snare on Mizpah … net … upon Tabor—As hunters spread their net and snares on the hills, Mizpah and Tabor, so ye have snared the people into idolatry and made them your prey by injustice. As Mizpah and Tabor mean a "watch tower," and a "lofty place," a fit scene for hunters, playing on the words, the prophet implies, in the lofty place in which I have set you, whereas ye ought to have been the watchers of the people, guarding them from evil, ye have been as hunters entrapping them into it [Jerome]. These two places are specified, Mizpah in the east and Tabor in the west, to include the high places throughout the whole kingdom, in which Israel's rulers set up idolatrous altars.God’s judgments against the priests, the people, and the princes of Israel, for their manifold sins, Hosea 5:1-14, until they repent, Hosea 5:15.

Hear ye this, O priests: proclamation is made, and the criminals are cited to appear, and attend their charge; amongst which the priests are first summoned: not of the tribe of Levi, not God’s priests, but Baal’s priests, priests of the high places; such they called themselves, so accounted by the people, and priests they were as good as their constitution by Jeroboam son of Nebat could make them.

Hearken, ye house of Israel; all the people of Israel, hearken and consider duly.

Give ye ear, O house of the king; all you of Menahem’s court, and all you that are of the royal family. It is very probable, if not plainly certain, that Menahem was king at this time over Israel, and that Hosea points him out with his whole family.

For judgment is toward you; for to you it appertained to execute judgment, and do right, so some; but the most read it, as we do,

judgment is toward, i.e. against you; you have sinned, and God will punish. God’s controversy, Hosea 4:1, is with you all, but first with priests who neglected to instruct the people, next with the body of the people, and lastly with the king, court, and his family.

Ye have been a snare; you, O priests and princes, nobles and judges, have insnared the people by your examples and practices, which have been idolatrous, and the people have imitated you: it may possibly refer to that the Jews say was done, spies set to watch who went to Jerusalem to worship and to inform, that they might be punished: or else thus. By commending the calves, and palliating the idolatry committed in worshipping them, by persuading the people they might as well worship there as at Jerusalem, you have been a snare unto them, and drawn them into idolatry.

On Mizpah; either taken comparatively, as fowlers and hunters have taken many birds and beasts, by gins and snares, on Mizpah, so you have insnared many souls in idolatry; or, by idolatries acted at Mizpah you have insnared many: so at Mizpah there was a high place, and idolatrous worship performed there; whether at Mizpah in Judah, which is not very likely, or Mizpah part of Libanus, which is the more likely, I determine not.

And a net spread upon Tabor; a very famous mount for its exact roundness, and the height thereof, and as famous for the pleasantness thereof, which easily persuades me to think this hill must needs have some high place on it, and that where high places were so much in fashion, Tabor could not be omitted. Here, as in Mizpah, idolatry caught men as birds or wild beasts are taken in a net: or briefly thus. The priests and secular power did make religion and the civil government a snare for men, both so managed the laws of each as to entrap all they could; as if men were fowls and beasts, and governors civil and ecclesiastical hunters and fowlers, and their laws nets and gins set to catch men, and make a prey of them. Thus it was in Israel at that day.

Hear ye this, O priests,.... Though idolatrous ones, who called themselves priests, and were reckoned so by others, though not of the tribe of Levi, but such as Jeroboam had made priests, or were their successors; and there might be some of the family of Aaron and tribe of Levi, that might continue in the cities of Israel, and who gave in to the idolatrous worship of those times. Some render it "princes" (c) and the word signifies both:

and hearken, ye house of Israel; not the kingdom of Judah, as Kimchi, for this is manifestly distinguished from Israel in this chapter; nor the sanhedrim, to which sense Aben Ezra seems to incline; but the ten tribes, the whole kingdom of Israel, the common people in it:

and give ye ear, O house of the king; of the king of Israel, who, at this time, is thought to be Menahem; the royal family, the princes of the blood, and all that belonged to the king's court; all of every office, priestly or kingly, of every rank, high and low, are called upon to hearken to what is about to be said, both concerning their sin and punishment:

for judgment is toward you: either to know and do that which is just and right; it belonged to the priests to know and teeth divine judgment, to instruct the people in the knowledge of the judgments, statutes, and laws of God; and it belonged to, the king to execute human judgment, to do justice and judgment according to the laws of God, and of the realm; and it belonged to the people to attend to both: so the Targum,

"does it not "belong" to you to know judgments?''

or rather this is to be understood of punitive justice and judgment, of the sentence of condemnation, or denunciation of punishment for sin: the reasons of which follow,

because ye have been a snare on Mizpah, and a net spread upon Tabor; these were two high mountains in the land of Israel; the former was near Hermon and Lebanon, and the same with Gilead, Joshua 11:3; the latter was a mountain in Galilee, between Issachar and Zebulun, six miles from Nazareth: it was, according to Joseph ben Gorion (d) almost four miles high, had on the top of it a plain of almost three miles; the true Josephus (e) says is was three and a quarter miles; See Gill on Jeremiah 46:18; the Jews (f) have a tradition, that Jeroboam set spies upon these mountains at the time of the solemn feasts, to watch who went to them out of Israel, and to inform against them; but these could not command all the roads leading to Jerusalem. It may be these mountains were much infested with hawkers and hunters, to which there may be an allusion; and the sense be, ye priests, people, and king, are like to those that set snares and nets on those hills, as they to ensnare and catch creatures, so ye to ensnare and draw men into idolatrous practices; or rather, since there is no note of comparison, the meaning is, that they set up altars, and offered sacrifices on these hills, and thereby ensnared not only those of their own tribes, but drew and enticed many of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin to fall in with the same idolatrous practices.

(c) "significat sacerdotes et principes", vid. 2 Samuel 8.18. "Sacerdotes ac domum regis", i.e. "regem cum principibus et aulicis", Liveleus. (d) Hist. Heb. l. 4. c. 25. p. 635. (e) De Bello Jud. l. 4. c. 1. sect. 9. (f) Jarchi ex Tanehuma, Abendana ex Midrash.

Hear ye this, O priests; and hearken, ye house of Israel; and give ye ear, O house of the king; for judgment is toward you, because ye have been a {a} snare on Mizpah, and a net spread upon Tabor.

(a) The priests and princes caught the poor people in their snares, as the fowlers did the birds, in these two high mountains.

1. O priests] Hosea addresses the priests of the high places in N. Israel.

O house of the king] i.e. the king and his courtiers, whether of the royal family or not.

judgment is toward you] Rather, the judgment is for you.

a snare on Mizpah, and a net spread upon Tabor] Tabor is the well-known mountain of the name in Galilee (see Jdg 4:6), and may be taken as the representative of the region on the west of the Jordan (as Psalm 89:12); Mizpah (a common name = place of watch) is most probably Mizpah in Gilead (Jdg 10:17; Jdg 11:11; Jdg 11:29), also called Ramoth-Gilead (Joshua 20:8; Joshua 21:36; 2 Kings 9:1; 2 Kings 9:4; 2 Kings 9:14), and consecrated by Jacob (Genesis 31:45-54). Probably these places (comp. next note) are mentioned because the idolatrous worship was most dangerously seductive there. The worshippers were like the deluded birds who sought shelter in the woods and ravines (comp. Genesis 26:20; Psalm 11:1).

1–7. A personal arraignment of the priesthood (accused less directly in chap. 4) and of the court, who, instead of warning the people, have led them into the snare of sin. So entangled are they in it that they cannot repent, and Judah too has fallen. They may seek to propitiate Jehovah by sacrifices, but in vain: the judgment is close at hand.

Verse 1. - Hear ye this, O priests; and hearken, ye house of Israel; and give ye ear, O house of the king. The persons here addressed comprise all the estates of the realm - priests, people, and princes. The house of Israel is the northern kingdom; and the house of the king is the members of the king's family, of his court and of his government. Thus the rulers and the ruled, the spiritual teachers and the taught, are comprehended in this address. Neither priestly office, nor popular power, nor princely dignity was to be exempted. But, though all are summoned to give audience, the heads of the people, the men of light and leading, are first arraigned. For judgment is toward you, as the clause is correctly rendered; not, "it devolves on you to maintain judgment," as some understand it. It had, indeed, been the province of the priest to teach, and of the king to execute the judgments of God in Israel; but now they are themselves the subjects of judgment. Judgment was now to begin at the house of the king and of the priest; God was about to execute judgment upon them - the judgment from that judgment-seat where justice never miscarries, and where no mistake is ever made. The cause of this is assigned. Because ye have been a snare on Mizpah, and a net spread upon Tabor. Instead of being safeguards of the people, they had been a snare to them; instead of being true leaders, as God had intended them, they had misled them; instead of contributing to their security, they had seduced them to sin and so helped to prepare them for destruction; they had been a snare to entrap and a net to entangle. East as well as west of the Jordan their evil influence had wrought ruin. Mizpah, now es-Salt, was on the east of the river among the hills of Gilead, where Jacob and Laban entered into covenant; Tabor, like a solitary cone or sugar-loaf, rises up from the plain of Jezreel, or Esdraelon, on the west of the river. On the wooded slopes of Tabor and the beacon-hill of Mizpah game, no doubt, abounded and found covert, and hence the origin of the figure here used; but they had probably become scenes of idolatry or wickedness. Hosea 5:1With the words "Hear ye this," the reproof of the sins of Israel makes a new start, and is specially addressed to the priests and the king's house, i.e., the king and his court, to announce to the leaders of the nation the punishment that will follow their apostasy from God and their idolatry, by which they have plunged the people and the kingdom headlong into destruction. Hosea 5:1-5 form the first strophe. Hosea 5:1. "Hear ye this, ye priests; and give heed thereto, O house of Israel; and observe it, O house of the king! for the judgment applies to you; for ye have become a snare at Mizpah, and a net spread upon Tabor." By the word "this," which points back to Hosea 5:4, the prophecy that follows is attached to the preceding one. Beside the priests and the king's house, i.e., the royal family, in which the counsellors and adjutants surrounding the king are probably included, the house of Israel, that is to say, the people of the ten tribes regarded as a family, is summoned to hear, because what was about to be announced applied to the people and kingdom as a whole. There is nothing to warrant our understanding by the "house of Israel," the heads of the nation or elders. Lâkjem hammishpât does not mean, It rests with you to know or to defend the right; nor, "Ye ought to hear the reproof," as Hitzig explains it, for mishpât in this connection signifies neither "the maintenance of justice" nor "a reproof," but the judgment about to be executed by God, τὸ κρίμα (lxx). The thought is this, The judgment will fall upon you; and lâkhem refers chiefly to the priests and the king's house, as the explanatory clause which follows clearly shows. It is impossible to determine with certainty what king's house is intended. Probably that of Zechariah or Menahem; possibly both, since Hosea prophesied in both reigns, and merely gives the quintessence of his prophetical addresses in his book. Going to Asshur refers rather to Menahem than to Zechariah (comp. 2 Kings 15:19-20). In the figures employed, the bird-trap (pach) and the net spread for catching birds, it can only be the rulers of the nation who are represented as a trap and net, and the birds must denote the people generally who are enticed into the net of destruction and caught (cf. Hosea 9:8).

(Note: Jerome has given a very good explanation of the figure: "I have appointed you as watchmen among the people, and set you in the highest place of honour, that ye might govern the erring people; but ye have become a trap, and are to be called sportsmen rather than watchmen.")

Mizpah, as a parallel to Tabor, can only be the lofty Mizpah of Gilead (Judges 10:17; Judges 11:29) or Ramah-Mizpah, which probably stood upon the site of the modern es-Salt (see at Deuteronomy 4:43); so that, whilst Tabor represents the land on this side of the Jordan, Mizpah, which resembled it in situation, is chosen to represent the land to the east of the river.

(Note: As Tabor, for instance, rises up as a solitary conical hill (see at Judges 4:6), so es-Salt is built about the sides of a round steep hill, which rises up in a narrow rocky valley, and upon the summit of which there stands a strong fortification (see Seetzen in Burckhardt's Reisen in Syrien, p. 1061).)

Both places were probably noted as peculiarly adapted for bird-catching, since Tabor is still thickly wooded. The supposition that they had been used as places of sacrifice in connection with idolatrous worship, cannot be inferred from the verse before us, nor is it rendered probable by other passages.

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