Hosea 7:9
Strangers have devoured his strength, and he knows it not: yes, gray hairs are here and there on him, yet he knows not.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(9) Have devoured.—The past tense may refer to the invasions of Tiglath-pileser. Both Egypt and Assyria had come to regard Israel as the earthen pipkin between iron pots. These strangers have devoured his strength—i.e., he has less power to resist aggression, less treasure, less land, smaller population. The signs of senility are upon him. “Grey hairs are his passing bell.” He is under sentence of death, and knoweth it not.

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.Strangers have devoured his strength, and he knoweth it not - Like Samson, when, for sensual pleasure, he had betrayed the source of his strength and God had departed from him, lsrael knew not how or wherein his alliancs with the pagan had impaired his strength. He thought his losses at the hand of the enemy, passing wounds, which time would heal; he thought not of them, as tokens of God's separation from him, that his time of trial was coming to its close, his strength decaying, his end at hand. Israel was not only incorrigible, but "past feeling" Ephesians 4:19, as the Apostle says of the pagan. The marks of wasting and decay were visible to sight and touch; yet he himself perceived not what all saw except himself. Israel had sought to strangers for help, and it "had turned to his decay." Pul and Tiglath-pileser had "devoured his strength," despoiling him of his wealth and treasure, the flower of his men, and the produce of his land, draining him of his riches, and hardly oppressing him through the tribute imposed upon him. But "like men quite stupified, they, though thus continually gnawed upon, yet suffered themselves willingly to be devoured, and seemed insensible of it." Yet not only so, but the present evils were the forerunners of worse. Grey hairs, themselves the effects of declining age and tokens of decay, are the forerunners of death. "Thy grey hairs are thy passing-bell," says the proverb .

The prophet repeats, after each clause, "he knoweth not." He knoweth nothing; be knoweth not the tokens of decay in himself, but hides them from himself; he knoweth not God, who is the author of them;. he knoweth not the cause of them, his sins; he knoweth not the end and object of them, his conversion; he knoweth not, what, since he knoweth not any of these things, will be the issue of them, his destruction. People hide from themselves the tokens of decay, whether of body or soul. And so death, whether of body or soul or both, comes upon them unawares. : "Looking on the surface, he imagines that all things are right with him, not feeling the secret worm which gnaws within. The outward garb remains; the rules of fasting are observed; the stated times of prayer are kept; but the heart is far from Me, saith the Lord. Consider diligently what thou lovest, what thou fearest, whereat thou rejoicest or art saddened, and thou will find, under the habit of religion, a worldly mind; under the rags of conversion, a heart of perversion."

9. Strangers—foreigners: the Syrians and Assyrians (2Ki 13:7; 15:19, 20; 17:3-6).

gray hairs—that is, symptoms of approaching national dissolution.

are here and there upon—literally, "are sprinkled on" him.

yet he knoweth not—Though old age ought to bring with it wisdom, he neither knows of his senile decay, nor has the true knowledge which leads to reformation.

Strangers; foreigners, whose aid Ephraim sought, as 2 Kings 15:19,20, when Menahem bought the friendship of Pul king of Assyria for one thousand talents of silver, and impoverished the land thereby.

Have devoured; eat up, lived upon, as men live on bread they eat.

His strength; the riches and goods of the kingdom of Israel; the fruit of the olive and vine; the fruit of the earth, corn; the increase of their flocks and of their herds; the most or best of all eaten up by strangers, either soldiers in garrison among them, or else courted by presents and rich gifts sent to them.

Knoweth it not; is not sensible either of the cause why, or the tendency of this hasty consumption of all; still they are secure, and sin as much as ever.

Grey hairs are here and there upon him; the manifest symptoms of approaching death, undeniable tokens of old age, and declining strength never recoverable, are upon their kingdom, like grey hairs that are here and there intermixed on the head of a man: what with domestic seditions and foreign invasions, and the fears, cares, and griefs from both, Ephraim is turned grey-headed, his vital vigour and strength decayeth, and this is a forerunner of his death.

Yet he knoweth it not; so secure and stupid, that no notice is taken of this, nor any course thought of for preventing the dismal effects of this declining consumptive state; none turn from sin, none seek to God, the only Physician that can heal. Strangers have devoured his strength,.... Or his substance, as the Targum; his wealth and riches, fortresses and strong holds: these strangers were either the Syrians, who, in the times of Jehoahaz, destroyed Ephraim or the Israelites, and so weakened them, as to make them like the dust by threshing, 2 Kings 12:7; or the Assyrians, first under Pul king of Assyria, who came out against Menahem king of Israel, and exacted a tribute of a thousand talents of silver, and so drained them of their treasure, which was their strength, 2 Kings 15:19; and then under Tiglathpileser, another king of Assyria, who came and took away from them many of their fortified places, and carried the inhabitants captive, 2 Kings 15:29;

and he knoweth it not; is not sensible how much he is weakened by such exactions and depredations; or does not take notice of the hand of God in all this; does not consider from whence it comes, what is the cause of it, and for what ends;

yea, gray hairs are here and there upon him, yet he knoweth not; or, "old age has sprinkled itself upon him" (s); or, "gray hairs are sprinkled on him"; gray hairs, when thick, are a sign that old age is come; and, when sprinkled here and there, are symptoms of its coming on, and of a person's being on the decline of life; and here it signifies the weak and declining state of Israel, through the exactions and depredations of their neighbours, and that theft utter ruin was near; and yet they did not know nor consider their latter end, nor repent of their sins and acknowledge them, and return unto the Lord, and implore his mercy: so carnal professors, who mix with the men of the world, that are strangers to God and godliness, and everything that is divine and good, are devoured by them; they lose their time and substance, and their precious souls, and are not aware of it. The symptoms of the declining state of the church of God are at this time upon us, and yet not taken notice of; such as great departures from the faith; a number of false teachers risen up; great failings off of professors, and of such who have made a great figure in the church; a small number of faithful men; great coldness and lukewarmness to spiritual things; little faith on the earth; great neglect of Gospel worship and ordinances; much sleepiness and drowsiness; great immorality and profaneness: as also the symptoms of the declining state of the world, and of its drawing to its period; as wars, and rumours of wars, famine, pestilence, and earthquakes in divers places; volcanos, burning mountains, eruptions of subterraneous fire, which portend the general conflagration; and yet these things are little attended to.

(s) "canities sparsit se in eo", Pagninus, Montanus, Cocceius, Schmidt; "cani sparsi sunt", Tigurine version; "canities aspergit eum", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; so Latin writers: "sparserit et nigras alba senecta comas". Propert. l. 3. Eleg. 4. "Jam mihi deterior canis aspergitur aetas". Ovid. de Ponto, l. 1. Eleg. 5.

Strangers have devoured his strength, and he knoweth it not: yea, {g} gray hairs are here and there upon him, yet he knoweth not.

(g) Which are a token of his manifold afflictions.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
9. Strangers have devoured his strength] By heavy tribute and desolating invasions. The ‘strangers’ would be Hazael and Benhadad (2 Kings 8:12; 2 Kings 10:32-33; 2 Kings 13:3; 2 Kings 13:7), Pul (2 Kings 15:19-20), and Tiglath-Pileser (2 Kings 15:29), though the two last are really the same person, Pul being the private name of a usurper who took the old royal name of Tiglath-Pileser (as proved by Mr Pinches).

gray hairs are here and there upon him] Lit., ‘are sprinkled upon him.’ That a state has different stages, analogous to the periods of human life, was a familiar idea; comp. Hosea 11:1; Isaiah 46:4; Psalm 71:18 (where the speaker is probably the personified people, comp. Hosea 7:20 in the Hebrew).Verse 9. - Strangers have devoured his strength, and he knoweth it not. Israel's intercourse with other nationalities could not but issue in disaster; a specimen of that disaster is here given. As the Greeks called all who did not speak the Greek language, whether they were savage or civilized, barbarians, so Israel called all foreigners, whether near or far off, strangers. The foreign nations here meant were those with which Israel had entered into treaties or formed alliances, in contravention of the constitution which God had given them. These nations, moreover, devoured their national resources by the imposition of taxes and hostile incursions; thus the King of Syria left "of the people to Jehoahaz only fifty horsemen, and ten chariots, and ten thousand footmen; for the King of Syria had destroyed them, and had made them like the dust by threshing;" again, when "Pul, the King of Assyria, came against the laud," we read that Menahem gave Pul a thousand talents of silver, that his hand might be with him to confirm the kingdom in his hand. And Menahem exacted the money of Israel, even of all the mighty men of wealth, of each man fifty shekels of silver, to give to the King of Assyria;" then, "in the days of Pekah King of Israel came Tiglath-pileser King of Assyria, and took Ijon, and Abel-beth-maachah, and Janoah, and Kedesh, and Hazer, and Gilead, and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali, and carried them captive to Assyria. "The strength here mentioned includes all those things which constitute the wealth and well-being of a country, the produce of the soil and the riches of its inhabitants. Thus Aben Ezra rightly explains this clause, referring it to "the tribute which the Israelites gave to Assyria and Egypt, as is written in the Book of Kings." Yea, grey hairs are here and there (margin, sprinkled) upon him. What from foreign foes and internal feuds, the body politic was manifesting unmistakable symptoms of decay and decrepitude and approaching dissolution, just as grey hairs on the human body give indication of the advance of old age, with its decay of strength and nearness to the tomb. "The course of nature," says Aben Ezra, "has sprinkled grey hairs upon him, just as grey hair comes on men in consequence of the course of nature;" this corresponds to the sentiment of the preceding clause, for, according to the commentator just named," the grey hair denotes that their power is weakened and their possession perished." Yet he knoweth not is parallel to. "And he knoweth (it) not," and repeats the same sentiment, of course with emphasis of what was Israel thus ignorant? Not, surely, of the declining state of the national strength and the decay of the national importance. After so many drains upon their resources and the unsatisfactory position of their foreign relations, they could not shut their eyes upon the steadily and even rapidly approaching decadence. But though they could not pretend ignorance of the fact, they remained in ignorance of the cause, its consequence, and the cure. Notwithstanding the already exhausted condition of their country, and the process of exhaustion still going on, they overlooked the lamentable cause of all, which was their sin, national and individual, in departing from the Lord; and at the same time the dangerous consequences that were neither remote nor capable of being staved off; as also the only possible cure to be found in direct and immediate return and application to that God from whom they had so revolted. The "it" supplied in the Authorized Version

(1) had better be omitted;

(2) the construction adopted by Rashi and others, who make the first part of each clause the object of the second, is erroneous, as we have shown in the preceding observations. "They took it not to heart that the kings of Syria consumed them in the days of Jehoahaz" is the exposition of Rashi just referred to; but that of Kimchi favors the first and correct construction, as may be inferred from the words, "And he (Israel) knows not that on account of his iniquity all this has come upon him, and yet he turns not from his wickedness." The events of the nearest future - Daniel 11:2-20

The revelation passes quickly from Persia (Daniel 11:2) and the kingdom of Alexander (Daniel 11:3, Daniel 11:4), to the description of the wars of the kingdoms of the south and the north, arising out of the latter, in which wars the Holy Land, lying between the two, was implicated. Regarding Persia it is only said that yet three kings shall arise, and that the fourth, having reached to great power by his riches, shall stir up all against the kingdom of Javan. Since this prophecy originates in the third year of the Persian king Cyrus (Daniel 10:1), then the three kings who shall yet (עוד) arise are the three successors of Cyrus, viz., Cambyses, the pseudo-Smerdis, and Darius Hystaspes; the fourth is then Xerxes, with whom all that is said regarding the fourth perfectly agrees. Thus Hvernick, Ebrard, Delitzsch, Auberlen, and Kliefoth interpret; on the contrary, v. Lengerke, Maurer, Hitzig, and Kranichfeld will make the fourth the third, so as thereby to justify the erroneous interpretation of the four wings and the four heads of the leopard (Daniel 7:6) of the first four kings of the Persian monarchy, because, as they say, the article in הרביעי necessarily requires that the fourth is already mentioned in the immediately preceding statements. But the validity of this conclusion is not to be conceived; and the assertion that the O.T. knows only of four kings of Persia (Hitzig) cannot be established from Ezra 4:5-7, nor from any other passage. From the naming of only four kings of Persia in the book of Ezra, since from the end of the Exile to Ezra and Nehemiah four kings had reigned, it in no way follows that the book of Daniel and the O.T. generally know of only four. Moreover, this assertion is not at all correct; for in Nehemiah 12:22, besides those four there is mention made also of a Darius, and to the Jews in the age of the Maccabees there was well known, according to 1 Macc. 1:1, also the name of the last Persian king, Darius, who was put to death by Alexander. If the last named, the king who by great riches (Daniel 11:2) reached to a higher power, is included among the three previously named, then he should have been here designated "the third." The verb עמד, to place oneself, then to stand, is used here and frequently in the following passages, as in Daniel 8:23, in the sense of to stand up ( equals קוּם), with reference to the coming of a new ruler. The gathering together of greater riches than all (his predecessors), agrees specially with Xerxes; cf. Herodot. iii. 96, vi. 27-29, and Justini Histor. ii. 2. The latter says of him: "Divitias, non ducem laudes, quarum tanta copia in regno ejus fuit, ut, cum flumina multitudine consumerentur, opes tamen regiae superessent."

חזקתו is the infinit. or nomen actionis, the becoming strong; cf. 2 Chronicles 12:1 with 2 Kings 14:5 and Isaiah 8:11. בּעשׁרו is not in apposition to it, "according to his riches" (Hv.); but it gives the means by which he became strong. "Xerxes expended his treasures for the raising and arming of an immense host, so as by such חזק (cf. Amos 6:13) to conquer Greece" (Hitzig). יון מלכוּת את is not in apposition to הכּל, all, namely, the kingdom of Javan (Maurer, Kranichfeld). This does not furnish a suitable sense; for the thought that הכּל, "they all," designates the divided states of Greece, and the apposition, "the kingdom of Javan," denotes that they were brought by the war with Xerxes to form themselves into the unity of the Macedonian kingdom, could not possibly be so expressed. Moreover, the reference to the circumstances of the Grecian states is quite foreign to the context. מ יון את is much rather a second, more remote object, and את is to be interpreted, with Hvernick, either as the preposition with, so far as יעיר involves the idea of war, conflict, or simply, with Hitzig, as the accusative of the object of the movement (cf. Exodus 9:29, Exodus 9:33), to stir up, to rouse, after the kingdom of Javan, properly to make, to cause, that all (הכּל equals every one, cf. Psalm 14:3) set out towards. Daniel calls Greece מלכוּת, after the analogy of the Oriental states, as a united historical power, without respect to the political constitution of the Grecian states, not suitable to prophecy (Kliefoth).

From the conflict of Persia with Greece, the angel (Daniel 11:3) passes immediately over to the founder of the Grecian (Macedonian) world-kingdom; for the prophecy proceeds not to the prediction of historical details, but mentions only the elements and factors which constitute the historical development. The expedition of Xerxes against Greece brings to the foreground the world-historical conflict between Persia and Greece, which led to the destruction of the Persian kingdom by Alexander the Great. The reply of Alexander to Darius Codomannus (Arrian, Exped Alex. ii. 14. 4) supplies a historical document, in which Alexander justifies his expedition against Persia by saying that Macedonia and the rest of Hellas were assailed in war by the Persians without any cause (οὐδὲν προηδικημένοι), and that therefore he had resolved to punish the Persians. A deeper reason for this lies in this, that the prophecy closes the list of Persian kings with Xerxes, but not in this, that under Xerxes the Persian monarchy reached its climax, and partly already under him, and yet more after his reign, the fall of the kingdom had begun (Hvernick, Auberlen); still less in the opinion, proved to be erroneous, that the Maccabean Jew knew no other Persian kings, and confounded Xerxes with Darius Codomannus (v. Lengerke, Maurer, Hitzig).

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