Hosea 7:15
Though I have bound and strengthened their arms, yet do they imagine mischief against me.
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(15) Bound.—Should be instructed. God has imparted skill and power to fight their enemies. (Comp. Psalm 144:1.) So the grace of the Spirit is often slighted by its recipients.

Hosea 7:15-16. Though I have bound, &c. — Though, after bringing them low, I have given them new strength and vigour; yet do they imagine mischief against me — Yet they are continually devising some new idolatrous inventions, whereby they may dishonour me. The word יסרתי, rendered I have bound them, more properly signifies, I have chastised them, and is so rendered by Archbishop Newcome, Bishop Horsley, and others. The general sense of the verse is, Whether I inflict punishment on them, or show them favour, they are still the same, and reject me for their idols. They return, but not to the Most High — Their conversion is only outward, not inward and sincere. When they left the worship of Baal, they turned to the worship of the calves; and now they rest in an external reformation, or some ceremonial observances, and do not come up to true repentance, spiritual worship, or holy obedience. This seems to be the meaning of the clause, according to our translation of it. But the Hebrew text, ישׁובו לא על, is very obscure, and variously rendered by interpreters. Grotius and the Vulgate read, Reversi sunt ut essent absque jugo, They have returned that they might be without yoke, that is, without the restraint of God’s law. Which is thus expounded by Grotius, “Denuo voluerunt esse absque jugo,” They would be again without yoke. The LXX. render it, Απεστραφησαν εις ουδεν, They have been turned away to nothing. Thus also the Syriac, or, as Bishop Horsley interprets it, They fall [have fallen] back into nothingness of condition. On which he remarks as follows: “The situation of the Israelites, as the chosen people of God, was a high degree; a rank of distinction and pre-eminence among the nations of the earth. By their voluntary defection to idolatry, they debased themselves from this exaltation, and returned to the ordinary level of the heathen, so far above which the mercy of God had raised them. As if a man, ennobled by the favour of his sovereign, should renounce his honours, and, of his own choice, mix himself with the lowest dregs of the people. Thus, voluntarily descending from their nobility of condition, the Israelites returned to not high; for so the Hebrew literally sounds.” The bishop observes elsewhere, that the Hebrew words will certainly bear the interpretation given by Grotius and the Vulgate; “and of all that have been proposed,” says he, “it seems the best sense, next after that which I have given in my translation, which is R. Tanchum’s, and in my judgment the best of all. Thus we say in common speech, of a man who by misconduct has lost all esteem and credit in the world, ‘He has brought himself to nothing.’” They are like a deceitful bow — Which seems bent for and aiming at the mark, yet is too weak to carry the shaft to it; or, is false, and instead of directing the arrow straight to the mark, shoots it on one side or the other. Their princes shall fall, &c., for the rage of their tongue — For the dishonour which they have done me by blasphemous speeches; or, shall fall by conspiracies, stirred up and fomented by murmurings and seditious expressions. This shall be their derision in the land of Egypt — Their frequent rebellions and conspiracies against their kings, shall make them the derision of Egypt. Houbigant renders it, For the wantonness of their tongues, they shall be a derision in the land of Egypt. It is probable that many of the ten tribes fled to Egypt when invaded by the Assyrians; and that their blasphemies, and other enormities committed there, brought them under deserved reproach. 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.Though I have bound - Rather, (as in the E. M) "And I have chastened, I have strenghened their arms, and they imagine mischief against Me." God had tried all ways with them, but it was all one. He chastened them in love, and in love He strengthened them; He brought the enemy upon them, (as aforetime in the days of the Judges,) and He gave them strength to repel the enemy; as He raised up judges of old, and lately had fulfilled His promise which He had made to Joash through Elisha. But it was all in vain. Whatever God did, Israel was still the same. All only issued in further evil. The prophet sums up in four words all God's varied methods for their recovery, and then sets over against them the one result, fresh rebellion on the part of His creatures and His people.

They imagine - Or "devise mischief against Me." The order in the Hebrew is emphatic, "and against Me they devise evil;" i. e., "against Me," who had thus tried all the resources and methods of divine wisdom to reclaim them, "they devise evil." These are words of great condescension. For the creature can neither hurt nor profit the Creator. But since God vouchsafed to be their King, He deigned to look upon their rebellions, as so many efforts to injure Him. All God's creatures are made for His glory, and on earth, chiefly man; and among men, chiefly those whom He had chosen as His people. In that, then, they set themselves to diminish that glory, giving to idols (see Isaiah 42:8), they, as far as in them lay, "devised evil against" Him. Man would dethrone God, if he could.

15. I … bound—when I saw their arms as it were relaxed with various disasters, I bound them so as to strengthen their sinews; image from surgery [Calvin]. Maurer translates, "I instructed them" to war (Ps 18:34; 144:1), namely, under Jeroboam II (2Ki 14:25). Grotius explains, "Whether I chastised them (Margin) or strengthened their arms, they imagined mischief against Me." English Version is best. Though I; but as for me, or, And I.

Bound; or chastised, as the word will bear; or instructed; either notion will well suit the place. When I had chastised them for their sins, as in Jehoahaz’s time, I strengthened them in Jehoash’s time, and in Jeroboam’s time, and made them stronger than their enemies. Or, I taught them, gave them wisdom and skill to handle their weapons; so David speaks, Psalm 18:34, He teacheth my hands to war, and Psalm 144:1. But the sense best suits with what he took upon him before, if we retain it as our version hath it, bound as a chirurgeon binds up a weakened member, or, having set a broken one, doth with swathes and bands bind it up; so did God for Ephraim, when the Syrians and other enemies had broken their arms.

And strengthened their arms; as I took care to bind, so I did, what none else could, give strength to them, both courage of mind, and strength of body, and success added to both; so they subdued them that had formerly wasted and spoiled them. What successes Jehoash had, or Jeroboam had, I gave, and they should have owned it, and been thankful; but they imagine mischief against me; they contrived, laid their heads together, and designed what evil they could against me: they imputed their successes to their idols, to their way of worship, and hardened themselves against all thoughts of repentance, and returning to me; and devised mischief against my prophets, and let loose the reins to all impieties. This is their requital for all my love! Though I have bound and strengthened their arms,.... As a surgeon sets a broken arm and swathes and binds it, and so restores it to its former strength, or at least to a good degree of strength again, so the Lord dealt with Israel; their arms were broken, and their strength weakened, and they greatly distressed and reduced by the Syrians in the times of Jehoahaz; but they were brought into a better state and condition in the times of Joash and Jeroboam the second; the former retook several cities out of the hands of the Syrians, and the latter restored the border of Israel, and greatly enlarged it; and as all this was done through the blessing of divine Providence, the Lord is said to do it himself. Some render it, "though I have chastised, I have strengthened their arms" (u); though he corrected them for their sins in the times of Jehoahaz, and suffered their arms to be broken by their enemies, for their instruction, and in order to bring them to repentance for their sins; yet he strengthened them again in the following reigns:

yet do they imagine mischief against me; so ungrateful were they, they contrived to do hurt to his prophets that were sent to them in his name, to warn them of their sins and danger, and exhort them to repent, and forsake their idolatrous worship, and other sins; and they sought by all means to dishonour the name of the Lord, by imputing their success in the reigns of Joash and Jeroboam to their idols, and not unto him; and so hardened themselves against him, and in their evil ways.

(u) "castigavi", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Vatablus, Cocceius, Tarnovius.

Though I have bound and strengthened their arms, yet do they imagine mischief against me.
15. Though I have bound and strengthened their arms] Rather, I indeed have trained and strengthened their arms. The Israelites had had a proof of this not long since when ‘Jehovah saw the affliction of Israel that it was very bitter’, and ‘saved them by the hand of Jeroboam the son of Joash’ (2 Kings 14:27).Verse 15. - Though I have bound (margin, chastened) and strengthened their arms, yet do they imagine mischief against me. The first clause of this verse is more accurately translated as follows: And yet I have instructed, have strengthened their arms. Here we have another instance of God's goodness and Israel's ingratitude. He had done much for them, and would fain have done more; and yet the return they made was devising mischief against him. The arms are the seat and symbol of strength, as the hands and fingers symbolize skill; thus, in reference to the latter the psalmist says, "Blessed be the Lord my Strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight;" and with regard to the former he says, "He teacheth my hands to war, so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms." Two benefits are here included in the prophet's enumeration. He instructed the arms, by which is meant that he showed them how and where to get strength. But this was not all; he not only directed to the source, and taught the secret of acquiring strength, he actually supplied strength, thereby giving them power to contend against and conquer their enemies. At a time when "there was not any shut up, nor any left [that is, 'neither bond nor free'] nor helper for Israel... the Lord... saved them by the hand of Jeroboam the son of Joash." Notwithstanding all this, they

(1) acted the part of apostates and rebels against him: they devised mischief against him by their idolatry which denied him the Godhead glory which was his due, and by their rebellion which aimed at depriving him of his kingly power and dignity. The reference of the last clause,

(2) according to Ewald, is to the treaties which Israel entered into with Assyria and Egypt for safety and defense; and

(3) according to Kimchi, to Israel's false representations of the government and providence of Jehovah: "For they say the good or evil does not come to them from me, but is purely accidental." With respect to יסר, it must be borne in mind that, like ינח, it has two meanings, viz. the chastisement of punishment (κόλασις) and the chastisement of love (παιδεία). To bring the subjugated kingdom wholly under his power, he shall carry away its gods along with all the precious treasures into Egypt. The carrying away of the images of the gods was a usual custom with conquerors; cf. Isaiah 46:1., Jeremiah 48:7; Jeremiah 49:3. In the images the gods themselves were carried away; therefore they are called "their gods." נסכיהם signifies here not drink-offerings, but molten images; the form is analogous to the plur. פּסילים, formed from פּסל; on the contrary, נסיכם libationes, Deuteronomy 32:38, stands for נסכּיהם, Isaiah 41:29. The suffix is not to be referred to אלהים, but, like the suffix in חמדּתם, to the inhabitants of the conquered country. וזהב כּסף are in apposition to חמדּתם כּלי, not the genitive of the subject (Kran.), because an attributive genitive cannot follow a noun determined by a suffix. Hv., v. Leng., Maurer, Hitzig, Ewald, and Klief. translate 'וגו יעמד שׁנים והוּא: he shall during (some) years stand off from the king of the north. Literally this translation may perhaps be justified, for עמד, c. מן, Genesis 29:35, has the meaning of "to leave off," and the expression "to stand off from war" may be used concisely for "to desist from making war" upon one. But this interpretation does not accord with the connection. First, it is opposed by the expressive והוּא, which cannot be understood, if nothing further should be said than that the king of the south, after he had overthrown the fortresses of the enemies' country, and had carried away their gods and their treasures, abstained from war for some years. The והוּא much rather leads us to this, that the passage introduced by it states some new important matter which does not of itself appear from the subjugation of the enemy and his kingdom. To this is to be added, that the contents of Daniel 11:9, where the subject to בּא can only be the king of the north, do not accord with the abstaining of the king of the south from warring against the king of the north. By Ewald's remark, "With such miserable marchings to and fro they mutually weaken themselves," the matter is not made intelligible. For the penetrating of the king of the south into the fortresses of his enemy, and the carrying away of his gods and his treasures, was not a miserable, useless expedition; but then we do not understand how the completely humbled king of the north, after his conqueror abstained from war, was in the condition to penetrate into his kingdom and then to return to his own land. Would his conqueror have suffered him to do this? We must, therefore, with Kranichfeld, Gesenius, de Wette, and Winer, after the example of the Syriac and Vulgate, take מן יעמד in the sense of: to stand out before, מן in the sense of מפּני, contra, as in Psalm 43:1 it is construed with ריב, which is supported by the circumstance that עמד in Daniel 11:6, Daniel 11:15, Daniel 11:17, and Daniel 11:25, has this meaning. By this not only is והוּא rightly translated: and he, the same who penetrated into the fortresses of his adversary and carried away his gods, shall also take his stand against him, assert his supremacy for years; but also Daniel 11:9 contains a suitable addition, for it shows how he kept his ground. The king of the north shall after some time invade the kingdom of the king of the south, but shall return to his own land, namely, because he can effect nothing. Kran. takes the king of the south as the subject to וּבא, Daniel 11:9; but this is impossible, for then the word must be בּמלכוּתו, particularly in parallelism with אדמתו. As the words stand, הנגב מלך, can only be the genitive to בּמלכוּת; thus the supposition that "the king of the south is the subject" is excluded, because the expression, "the king of the south comes into the kingdom of the south and returns to his own land," has no meaning when, according to the context, the south denotes Egypt. With the וּבא there also begins a change of the subject, which, though it appears contrary to the idiom of the German [and English] language, is frequently found in Hebrew; e.g., in Daniel 11:11 and Daniel 11:9. By the mention of an expedition of the king of the north into the kingdom of the king of the south, from which he again returned without having effected anything, the way is opened for passing to the following description of the supremacy of the king of the north over the king of the south.
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