Hosea 7:11
Ephraim also is like a silly dove without heart: they call to Egypt, they go to Assyria.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(11) Silly dove.—No creature is less able to defend itself than the dove, which flies from the bird of prey to the net of the fowler. In this powerful metaphor we have a political allusion. King Hoshea is called Ausih on the Assyrian monuments. Having usurped the throne after the murder of Pekah, he “purchased his recognition as king of Israel by giving a large present to the Assyrian monarch” (730 B.C.). (See Geo. Smith, Assyria—S.P.C.K.) But while Hoshea was sending tribute to Assyria he was secretly coquetting with Egypt. The alliance between Egypt and the king of Israel, mentioned in 2Kings 17:4, took place later, after Tiglath-pileser’s death, and led to Israel’s ruin. On the other hand, many commentators (Ewald, Nowack, &c.) refer the allusions of this verse to the reign of Menahem.

Without heart.—Better, without understanding.

Hosea 7:11-12. Ephraim is like a silly dove without heart — Which has neither courage to defend itself, nor cunning to prevent its falling into the snares that are laid for it. They call to Egypt, &c. — Sometimes they seek the alliance of one nation, and sometimes of another, all equally unserviceable to them; but are under no concern to seek the favour and protection of God, which alone can be of real and lasting benefit to them. When they shall go — When they shall do every thing their inclinations lead them to do, make the alliances they desire, and seek for safety in all the ways their imaginations can invent; I will spread my net upon them — I will entangle and disappoint them in their designs, execute my decrees upon them, and bring them to destruction, like as birds are taken in the snares of the fowler, although they have wings to fly out of danger. I will chastise them as their congregation hath heard — I will bring those calamities upon them which I have denounced in my laws against the whole people of Israel, whenever they should forsake me; and also have repeatedly denounced them by my prophets.

7:8-16 Israel was as a cake not turned, half burnt and half dough, none of it fit for use; a mixture of idolatry and of the worship of Jehovah. There were tokens of approaching ruin, as grey hairs are of old age, but they noticed them not. The pride which leads to break the law of God leads to self-flattery. The mercy and grace of God are the only refuge to which obstinate sinners never think of fleeing. Though they may howl forth their terrors in the form of prayers, they seldom cry to God with their hearts. Even their prayers for earthly mercies only seek fuel for their lusts. Their turning from one sect, sentiment, form, or vice, to another, still leaves them far short of Christ and holiness. Such are we by nature. And such shall we prove if left to ourselves. Create in us a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within us.Ephraim is - (become) like a silly dove "There is nothing more simple than a dove," says the Eastern proverb. Simplicity is good or bad, not in itself, but according to some other qualities of the soul, good or evil, with which it is united, to which it opens the mind, and which lead it to good or mislead it to evil. The word describes one, easily persuaded, open, and so, one who takes God's word simply, obeys His will, without refinement or subtlety or explaining it away; in which way it is said, "The Lord preserveth the simple;" or, on the other hand, one who lets himself easily be led to evil, as the pagan said of youth, that they were "like wax to be bent to evil" Psalm 116:6. In this way, it is said, "How long, ye simple one, will ye love simplicity?" Proverbs 1:22. Our Lord uses this likeness of the dove, for good, "be wise as serpents, simple, or harmless as doves" Matthew 10:16. Hosea speaks of simplicity without wisdom, for he adds, "a silly dove without understanding," (literally, "without a heart,") whereby they should love God's will, and so should understand it. Ephraim "became," he says, like a silly dove. Neglecting God's calls, unmoved by calamity or sufferings, and not "seeking" to God "for all this" which He has done to recall them, they grew in folly. Man is ever "growing in wisdom" or in folly, in grace or in gracelessness. This new stage of folly lay in their flying to Assyria, to help them, in fact, against God; as it follows,

They call to Egypt - Instead of "calling to" God who could and would help, they "called to Egypt" who could not, and "went to Assyria" who would not. So God complains by Isaiah, "To Me, thou hast not called, O Jacob" Isaiah 43:22. This was their folly; they called not to God, who had delivered them out of Egypt, but, alternately, to their two powerful neighbors, of whom Egypt was a delusive promiser, not failing only, but piercing, those who leant on it; Assyria was a powerful oppressor. Yet what else is almost the whole history of Christian states? The "balance of power," which has been the pride of the later policy of Europe, which has been idolized as a god, to which statesmen have looked, as a deliverance out of all their troubles; as if it were a sort of divine providence, regulating the affairs of human beings, and dispensing with the interference of God; what is it but the self-same wisdom, which balanced Egypt against Assyria?

11. like a silly dove—a bird proverbial for simplicity: easily deceived.

without heart—that is, understanding.

call to Egypt—Israel lying between the two great rival empires Egypt and Assyria, sought each by turns to help her against the other. As this prophecy was written in the reign of Hoshea, the allusion is probably to the alliance with So or Sabacho II (of which a record has been found on the clay cylindrical seals in Koyunjik), which ended in the overthrow of Hoshea and the deportation of Israel (2Ki 17:3-6). As the dove betrays its foolishness by fleeing in alarm from its nest only to fall into the net of the fowler, so Israel, though warned that foreign alliances would be their ruin, rushed into them.

Ephraim: see Hosea 7:1,8.

Is like a silly dove; a deceived dove, seduced by false prophets and idolatrous priests, whose weak arguments are soon believed, and whose unseasonable advice is too soon followed: Ephraim is now become like the dove in weakness and fear, as well as in imprudence and liableness to be deceived.

Without heart: this explains the former, whether heart here be judgment and discretion, as sometimes it is, or be resolution and courage, as other while it is; this dove, this Ephraim, wants both.

They call; they should in their perplexity call on God, who can help, but they do not; they call indeed, but not to their God, or to a friend.

To Egypt: this Hoshea did, 2 Kings 17:4; and I remember not any mention of other application to Egypt since Jehu’s time. It is probable Hosea aims at this embassy, and private confederacy, of which, as of a thing in hand, he speaketh. They do call to Egypt, whose king is called So, and judged to be Sabacon the Ethiopian, who had lately conquered Egypt: by this also may we guess at the time of this prophecy, about some four years before Samaria was taken.

They go to Assyria; so did Menahem when on the throne, so did Hoshea, as is evident, 2 Kings 15:19,20, with 2 Kings 17:3. Thus both betrayed the greatest imprudence, depending for help on professed, old inveterate enemies. So silly were they! See Hosea 5:13 14:3.

Ephraim also is like a silly dove, without heart,.... Or understanding; which comes and picks up the corns of grain, which lie scattered about, and does not know that the net is spread for it; and when its young are taken away, it is unconcerned, and continues its nest in the same place still; and, when frightened, flees not to its dove house, where it would be safe, but flies about here and there, and so becomes a prey to others. Thus Ephraim, going to Egypt and Assyria for help, were ensnared by them, not having sense enough to perceive that this would be their ruin; and though they had heretofore suffered by them, yet still they continued to make their addresses to them; and instead of keeping close to the Lord, and to his worship and the place of it, and asking counsel and help of him they ran about and sought for it here and there:

they call to Egypt; that is, for help; as Hoshea king of Israel, when he sent messengers to So or Sabacon king of Egypt, for protection and assistance, 2 Kings 17:4. Such a foolish part, like the silly doves, did they act; since the Egyptians had been their implacable enemies, and their fathers had been in cruel bondage under them:

they go to Assyria; send gifts and presents, and pay tribute to the kings thereof, to make them easy; as Menahem did to Pul, and Hoshea to Shalmaneser, 2 Kings 15:19. Some understand this last clause, not of their sin in going to the Assyrian for help; but of their punishment in going or being carried captive thither; and so the Targum seems to interpret it,

"they go captive, or are carried captive, into Assyria.''

Ephraim also is like a silly dove without {h} heart: they call to Egypt, they go to Assyria.

(h) That is, without all judgment, as those that cannot tell whether it is better to cleave only to God, or to seek the help of man.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
11. Ephraim also is like …] Rather, But Ephraim is become like a silly dove without understanding. This verse does not begin a fresh section, but is closely connected with the preceding. As a dove, fleeing from a hawk, is snared in the fowler’s net, so Ephraim, when afraid of Assyria, calls in the assistance of Egypt, and when afraid of Egypt, applies to Assyria (see Introduction). In his folly he does not observe the snare which the false friend, or rather (Hosea 7:12) Jehovah, prepares for him.

Verse 11. - Ephraim also is like a silly dove without heart. The silliness of the dove, with which the stupidity of Ephraim is compared, is not manifested by its missing its nest and resting-place, and then helplessly fluttering about, according to Ewald; nor by its falling into the net of the bird-catcher in its effort to escape from the hawk, according to Hitzig; nor by its neither grieving nor searching for its young when it is robbed of them, according to Jerome; nor by its becoming dejected or devoid of consideration when it has lost its young, according to the Targum; but by its flying right into the net of the bird-catcher, without suspecting or observing it in its search for food, according to Rosenmüller. Thus Kimchi explains it: "The prophet compares Ephraim to a dove which gets caught in a net owing to its simplicity, because it has no sense to perceive that, when it goes to gather grains of corn, a net is spread there to catch it. So Ephraim, when they went and asked help from Assyria or from Egypt, (did not perceive) that they went to their hurt, when they sought help from the foreign nations and not from God - blessed be he! - in whose hand all is. And he mentions the dove, though it is the manner of other birds, because the dove has no bitterness, as if it went in simplicity and without apprehension of the evil that would come upon it." They call to Egypt, they go to Assyria. The position of Palestine exposed its inhabitants to attacks from the two great rival powers of Egypt and Assyria, or Babylon. "It stood midway," says Stanley, "between the two great seats of ancient empire, Babylon and Egypt. It was on the high-road from one to the other of these mighty powers, the prize for which they contended, the battlefield on which they fought, the lofty bridge over which they ascended and descended respectively into the deep basins of the Nile and Euphrates." Accordingly the rulers of the people sought help, now from Egypt to strengthen them against the oppression of Assyria; at another time they sought to secure the support of Assyria. The most powerful enemy of the northern kingdom was Assyria, which distressed that kingdom more and more, until at last they made an end of it. "But," says Kimchi, "while they think to obtain help by them (Egypt and Assyria), they fall into the net of the Almighty - blessed be he - and this is what he says (in the following verse). As they go I spread my net over them." Hosea 7:11"And Ephraim has become like a simple dove without understanding; they have called Egypt, they are gone to Asshur. Hosea 7:12. As they go, I spread my net over them; I bring them down like fowls of the heaven; I will chastise them, according to the tidings to their assembly." The perfects in Hosea 7:1 describe the conduct of Israel as an accomplished fact, and this is represented by ויהי as the necessary consequence of its obstinate impenitence. The point of comparison between Israel and the simple dove, is not that the dove misses its proper dwelling and resting-place, and therefore goes fluttering about (Ewald); nor that, in trying to escape from the hawk, it flies into the net of the bird-catcher (Hitzig); but that when flying about in search of food, it does not observe the net that is spread for it (Rosenmller). אין לב is to be taken as a predicate to Ephraim in spite of the accents, and not to yōnâh phōthâh (a simple dove), since phōthâh does not require either strengthening or explaining. Thus does Ephraim seek help from Egypt and Assyria. These words do not refer to the fact that there were two parties in the nation - an Assyrian and an Egyptian. Nor do they mean that the whole nation applied at one time to Egypt to get rid of Asshur, and at another time to Asshur to escape from Egypt. "The situation is rather this: the people being sorely pressed by Asshur, at one time seek help from Egypt against Asshur; whilst at another they try to secure the friendship of the latter" (Hengstenberg, Christology, i. p. 164 transl.). For what threatened Israel was the burden of the "king of princes" (Hosea 8:10), i.e., the king of Asshur. And this they tried to avert partly by their coquettish arts (Hosea 8:9), and partly by appealing to the help of Egypt; and while doing so, they did not observe that they had fallen into the net of destruction, viz., the power of Assyria. In this net will the Lord entangle them as a punishment. As they go thither, God will spread His net over them like a bird-catcher, and bring them down to the earth like flying birds, i.e., bring them down from the open air, that is to say, from freedom, into the net of captivity, or exile. איסירם, a rare hiphil formation with Yod mobile, as in Proverbs 4:25 (see Ewald, 131, c). "According to the tidings (announcement) to their assembly:" i.e., in accordance with the threatening already contained in the law (Leviticus 26:14.; Deuteronomy 28:15.), and repeatedly uttered to the congregation by the prophets, of the judgments that should fall upon the rebellious, which threatening would now be fulfilled upon Ephraim.
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