Hosea 7:4
They are all adulterers, as an oven heated by the baker, who ceaseth from raising after he hath kneaded the dough, until it be leavened.
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(4) Render, ceaseth heating from the kneading of the dough till its leavening. The baker is unremitting in his exertions to keep up the heat of the oven, the smouldering fire being fed on camel’s dung and the like fuel, except when he is obliged to occupy himself with preparing the dough for baking—an apt image of the incessant burning rage of lust and violence.

Hosea 7:4. They are all adulterers — The expression may be here metaphorical, implying that they were apostates from God, to whose service they were engaged by the most solemn bond and covenant: compare Jeremiah 9:2; James 4:4. If the words be understood literally, the prophet compares the heat of their lust to the flame of an oven heated; or, as Bishop Horsley renders it, “Over-heated by the baker.” Who ceaseth from raising after he has kneaded the dough, until it be leavened — Vulgate, Donec fermentaretur totum, until the fermentation of it be complete. When an oven is sufficiently heated, the baker does not increase the fire, but thinks what he has made sufficient to keep the oven hot till the dough be fit to be put into it. “An oven in which the heat is so intense as to be too strong for the baker’s purpose, insomuch that it must be suffered to abate before the bread can be set in, is certainly a most apt and striking image of the heart of the sensualist inflamed with appetite by repeated and excessive indulgence, so that it rages by the mere lust of the corrupted imagination, even in the absence of the external objects of desire that might naturally excite it; and works itself up to an excess which is even contrary to the purpose for which the animal appetites are implanted.” — Horsley.

7:1-7 A practical disbelief of God's government was at the bottom of all israel's wickedness; as if God could not see it or did not heed it. Their sins appear on every side of them. Their hearts were inflamed by evil desires, like a heated oven. In the midst of their troubles as a nation, the people never thought of seeking help from God. The actual wickedness of men's lives bears a very small proportion to what is in their hearts. But when lust is inwardly cherished, it will break forth into outward sin. Those who tempt others to drunkenness never can be their real friends, and often design their ruin. Thus men execute the Divine vengeance on each other. Those are not only heated with sin, but hardened in sin, who continue to live without prayer, even when in trouble and distress.They are all adulterers - The prophet continues to picture the corruption of all kinds and degrees of people. "All of them," king, princes, people; all were given to adultery, both spiritual, in departing from God, and actual, (for both sorts of sins went together,) in defiling themselves and others. "All of them" were, (so the word means,) habitual "adulterers." One only pause there was in their sin, the preparation to complete it. He likens their hearts, inflamed with lawless lusts, to the heat of "an oven" which "the baker" had already "heated." The unusual construction "burning from the baker" instead of "heated "by" the baker" may have been chosen, in order to express, how the fire continued to burn of itself, as it were, (although at first kindled by the baker,) and was ever-ready to burn whatever was brought to it, and even now was all red-hot, burning on continually; and Satan, who had stirred it, gave it just this respite, "from the time when he had kneaded the dough" , until the leaven, which he had put into it, had fully worked, and the whole was ready for the operation of the fire.

The world is full of such people now, ever on fire, and pausing only from sin, until the flatteries, whereby they seduce the unstable, have worked and penetrated the whole mind, and victim after victim is gradually leavened and prepared for sin.

4. who ceaseth from raising—rather, "heating" it, from an Arabic root, "to be hot." So the Septuagint. Their adulterous and idolatrous lust is inflamed as the oven of a baker who has it at such a heat that he ceaseth from heating it only from the time that he hath kneaded the dough, until it be leavened; he only needs to omit feeding it during the short period of the fermentation of the bread. Compare 2Pe 2:14, "that cannot cease from sin" [Henderson]. They are all adulterers, both spiritually and carnally, and this latter adultery is that which here is charged on the courtiers and people of Israel.

As an oven heated by the baker: this vice is grown raging hot among them, as you see the fire in an oven, when the baker, having called up those that make the bread, to prepare all things ready, and the whole mass is leavened, he doth by continued supply of fuel heat the oven to the highest degree. So doth adultery among this people grow by degrees to raging flames. The whole mass of the people are leavened with this vice also, as well as the court, and every one inflamed with this unclean fire, as the oven heated by the baker.

They are all adulterers,.... King, princes, priests, and people, both in a spiritual and corporeal sense; they were all idolaters, given to idols try, eager of it, and constant in it, as the following metaphors show; and they were addicted to corporeal adultery; this was a prevailing vice among all ranks and degrees of men. So the Targum,

"they all desire to lie with their neighbours' wives;''

see Jeremiah 5:7;

as an oven heated by the baker; which, if understood of spiritual adultery or idolatry, denotes their eagerness after it, and fervour in it, excited by their king, or by the devil and his instruments, the priests and false prophets; and if of bodily uncleanness, it is expressive of the heat of that lust, which is sometimes signified by burning; and is stirred up by the devil and the corrupt hearts of men to such a degree as to be raised to a flame, and be like a raging fire, or a heated oven; see Romans 1:27;

who ceaseth from raising; that is, the baker, having heated his oven, ceaseth from raising up the women to bring their bread to the bake house; or he ceaseth from waking, or from watching his oven; he lays himself down to sleep, and continues in it:

after he hath kneaded the dough, until it be leavened; having kneaded the dough, and put in the leaven, he lets it alone to work till the whole mass is leavened, taking his rest in the mean while: as the former clause expresses the vehement desire of the people after adultery, spiritual or corporeal, this may signify their continuance in it; or rather the wilful negligence of the king, priests, and prophets, who, instead of awaking them out of their sleep on a bed of adultery, let them alone in it, until they were all infected with it.

They are all adulterers, as an {c} oven heated by the baker, who ceaseth from raising after he hath kneaded the dough, until it be leavened.

(c) He compares the rage of the people to a burning oven which the baker heats, until his dough is leavened and raised.

4. as an oven …] The fire corresponds to sensual lust, the oven is the heart. The baker ceaseth from kindling (so we should render), when the oven has reached a certain heat, and then he leaves the fire to smoulder, till the fermentation of the dough is complete, and a fresh heating is necessary. So after passion has once been gratified, it smoulders for a time, but is afterwards kindled to a greater heat than before, when some attractive object comes within its range.

Verse 4. - The difficulty of the section including vers. 4-7 has occasioned considerable difference of exposition; it may not, therefore, be amiss to supplement the foregoing observations.

1. Aben Ezra accounts for בערה being accented as milel

(1) on the ground that, though a feminine formation, it is really masculine (to agree with תניו), like נחלה and לילה, both of which, though feminine in form, are notwithstanding of the masculine gender. Abarbanel, who is followed by Wunsche,

(2) takes בֹּעָרְה as a participle feminine for בֹּעָרהָ or בֹּעֶרָח, which is justified by the circumstance that the names of fire and of what is connected therewith are feminine in the Semitic, so that חנור is feminine.

2. The word מֵעִיר, which Ewald and others take, properly we think,

(1) as participle of Hiph., is treated

(2) by Genenius and Maurer as infirmitive Qal with rain prefixed, which would occasion the awkward and unusual combination of two infinitives each prefixed with rain in immediate sequence; while

(3) Kimchi takes it as infinitive Hiph. contracted for מֵהֵעִיר.

3. More important still is the interpretation of the verse. There is

(1) that already given, and which is in some measure supported by the following rabbinic comments: "Their evil passion," says Rashi, "which stirs them up, rests from kneading the dough until it is leavened, i.e. from the time that any one has thought on evil in his heart how he shall execute it, he rests and sleeps till the morning, when he shall be able to execute it, as the baker rests from kneading the dough until it is leavened, when he can bake it." Similar and yet somewhat peculiar is the concluding portion of Kimchi's comment: "As soon as he lays the pieces of wood into the oven, in order to heat it, he commands the women to knead, and he ceases to stir them (the women) up until the dough is leavened, as he estimates it in his heart, and then he rouses them to come with the dough to bake it. And this is the time when the oven is heated."

(2) The LXX. takes עיר as a noun prefixed with the preposition rain (ἀπὸ τῆς φλογός), and translates the whole as follows: "They are all adulterers, as an oven glowing from flame for hot-baking, from the kneading of the dough until it is leavened." The interpretation

(3) of Wunsche differs considerably from both the preceding; it is, "They are all adulterers, like an even, burning from a baker, who rests while stoking from the kneading of the dough till its fermentation;" and he cites in favor of this view Aben Ezra as follows: "This verse is inverted, and accordingly the sense is: As the oven of a baker burneth from the kneading of the dough till its fermentation, so that the baker can scarcely cease to stir it up, but must stir it up and heat it violently." Hosea 7:4To this there is added the passion with which the people make themselves slave to idolatry, and their rulers give themselves up to debauchery (Hosea 7:4-7). Hosea 7:4. "They are all adulterers, like an oven heated by the baker, who leaves off stirring from the kneading of the dough until its leavening. Hosea 7:5. In the day of our king the princes are made sick with the heat of wine: he has stretched out his hand with the scorners. Hosea 7:6. For they have brought their heart into their ambush, as into the oven; the whole night their baker sleeps; in the morning it burns like flaming fire. Hosea 7:7. They are all red-hot like the oven, and consume their judges: all their kings have fallen; none among them calls to me." "All" (kullâm: Hosea 7:4) does not refer to the king and princes, but to the whole nation. נאף is spiritual adultery, apostasy from the Lord; and literal adultery is only so far to be thought of, that the worship of Baal promoted licentiousness. In this passionate career the nation resembles a furnace which a baker heats in the evening, and leaves burning all night while the dough is leavening, and then causes to turn with a still brighter flame in the morning, when the dough is ready for baking. בּערה מאפה, burning from the baker, i.e., heated by the baker. בּערה is accentuated as milel, either because the Masoretes took offence at תּנּוּר being construed as a feminine (Ges. Lehrgeb. p. 546; Ewald, Gramm. p. 449, note 1), or because tiphchah could not occupy any other place in the short space between zakeph and athnach (Hitzig). העיר, excitare, here in the sense of stirring. On the use of the participle in the place of the infinitive, with verbs of beginning and ending, see Ewald, 298, b.
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