Hosea 8:7
For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind: it hath no stalk: the bud shall yield no meal: if so be it yield, the strangers shall swallow it up.
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(7) Wind . . . whirlwind.—The great law of Divine retribution, the punishment for sin being often a greater facility in sinning—indifference to God becoming enmity, forgetfulness of duty or truth becoming violent recoil from both. “Wind” expresses what is empty and fruitless, and the pronoun “it” refers, in accordance with the metaphor, to such unproductive seed.

It hath no stalk.—Not even incipient prosperity, as in the days of Jeroboam II. “The growth shall yield no grain,” as we might express the play of words in the Hebrew.

Hosea 8:7. For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind, &c. — A proverbial expression, to signify, that as men’s works are, so must their reward be; that they who sow iniquity shall reap vanity, Proverbs 22:8. Their labour shall be fruitless, or shall turn to their hurt and damage: As if he had said, All the pains which the kings of Israel and their subjects had taken to enrich themselves, and to strengthen their kingdom, being built upon the foundation of apostacy and idolatry, shall turn to no better account, than countrymen expect from a blasted crop of corn; and whatever advantage they make, it shall at last be a prey to foreigners, to the kings of Syria and Assyria.

8:5-10 They promised themselves plenty, peace, and victory, by worshipping idols, but their expectations came to nothing. What they sow has no stalk, no blade, or, if it have, the bud shall yield no fruit, there was nothing in them. The works of darkness are unfruitful; nay, the end of those things is death. The hopes of sinners will deceive them, and their gains will be snares. In times of danger, especially in the day of judgment, all carnal devices will fail. They take a course by themselves, and like a wild ass by himself, they will be the easier and surer prey for the lion. Man is in nothing more like the wild ass's colt, than in seeking for that succour and that satisfaction in the creature, which are to be had in God only. Though men may sorrow a little, yet if it is not after a godly sort, they will be brought to sorrow everlastingly.For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind - "They shall reap," not merely as "they have sown," but with an awful increase. They sowed folly and vanity, and shall reap, not merely emptiness and disappointment, but sudden, irresistible destruction. "They sowed the wind," and, as one seed bringeth forth many, so the wind, "penn'd up," as it were, in this destructive tillage, should "burst forth again, reinforced in strength, in mightier store and with great violence." Thus they "reaped the whirlwind," yea, (as the word means) "a mighty whirlwind". But the whirlwind which they reap doth not belong to "them;" rather they belong to it, blown away by it, like chaff, the sport and mockery of its restless violence.

It hath no stalk - If their design should for the time seem to prosper, all should be but empty show, disappointing the more, the more it should seem to promise. He speaks of three stages of progress. First, the seed should not send forth the grain with the ear; "it hath no stalk or standing corn;" even if it advanced thus far, still the ear should yield no meat; or should it perchance yield this, the enemy should devour it. Since the yielding fruit denotes doing works, the fruit of God's grace, the absence of the "standing corn" represents the absence of good works altogether; the absence of the "meal," that nothing is brought to ripeness; the "devouring" by "the enemy," that what would otherwise be good, is, through faulty intentions or want of purity of purpose, given to Satan and the world, not to God. : "When hypocrites make a shew of good works, they gratify therewith the longings of the evil spirits. For they who do not seek to please God therewith, minister not to the Lord of the field, but to "strangers." The hypocrite, then, like a fruitful but neglected "ear," cannot retain his fruit, because the "ear" of good works lieth on the ground. And yet he is fed by this very folly, because for his good works he is honored by all, eminent above the rest; people's minds are subject to him; he is raised to high places; nurtured by favors. But "then" will he understand that he has done foolishly, when, for the delight of praise, he shall receive the sentence of the rebuke of God."

7. sown … reap—(Pr 22:8; Ga 6:7). "Sow … wind," that is, to make the vain show of worship, while faith and obedience are wanting [Calvin]. Rather, to offer senseless supplications to the calves for good harvests (compare Ho 2:8); the result being that God will make them "reap no stalk," that is, "standing corn." Also, the phraseology proverbially means that all their undertakings shall be profitless (Pr 11:29; Ec 5:16).

the bud—or, "growth."

strangers—foreigners (Ho 7:9).

For; since that; or, for so much as; or, verily; so the Hebrew particle is sometimes used, Isaiah 7:9.

They have sown the wind; a proverbial speech, to denote either lost labour, or, which is much worse, labour that will undo and tear to pieces him that laboureth: both these are in the verse. Man’s life and labour is a seed that will bring forth fruit; but when this life and labour is laid out on sin, as here Israel’s was, it will bring forth that fruit the sinner is unwilling to reap.

They shall reap the whirlwind; a violent, tearing, and dissipating tempest, which beareth down and destroyeth all that is in its way; an emblem of the wrath of God breaking out against these vain and sinful men: so Ephraim reaped in his civil wars, and much more in the Assyrian war, which ended in a whirlwind, that hath scattered them into unknown countries, and where they have lain buried in forgetfulness above two thousand four hundred years.

It hath no stalk; suppose this seed should have its harvest in no whirlwind, it will end in loss and disappointment, as seed that never springs up into a stalk, nor hath bud or ear: all your worship of and dependence on idols, and foreign assistance, will at best be as seed that yields neither stalk nor bud.

The bud shall yield no meal; or suppose it produced stalk and bud, yet it will be no profit, but all lost labour, for the bud shall be lank, shrivelled, and blasted, and never yield meal: so was the fruit Israel reaped, from Pul to Menahem, and from Egypt’s assistance to Hoshea against Shalmaneser.

If so be it yield, the strangers shall swallow it up; or, if yet meal be found in the bud, Israel shall be never the better, foreigners devour it: so did Pul and his, and Shalmaneser and his Assyrians, eat up all.

For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind,.... The sense is, the Israelites took a great deal of pains in the idolatrous worship of the calves, and made a great stir, bustle, and noise in it, like the wind; were very vainglorious and ostentatious, made a great show of religion and devotion, and promised themselves great things from it, peace and plenty, wealth and riches, all prosperity and happiness, enjoyed by Heathen nations; but this was lost labour, it was labouring for the wind, or sowing that; they got nothing by it, or what was worse than nothing; it proved not only useless, but hurtful, to them; for, for their idolatry, and continuance in it, the whirlwind of God's wrath would be raised up against them, and the Assyrian army, like a vehement storm of wind, would rush in upon them, and destroy them; so they that sow to the flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption, Galatians 6:8;

it hath no stalk; what they sowed did not rise up above ground; or, if it did, it did not spring up in a blade or stalk, which was promising of fruit; no real good, profit, and advantage, sprung from their idolatrous practices:

the bud shall yield no meal; yea, though it rise up into a stalk, and this stalk produced ears of corn, yet those so thin, that no meal or flour could be got out of them, and so of no worth and use:

and if so be it yield: any meal or flour:

the strangers shall swallow it up; the Israelites should not be the better for it; it should till come into the hands of foreigners, the Assyrian army. The meaning is, that if they did prosper and increase in riches, yet they should not long enjoy them themselves, but be pillaged and spoiled of them; as they were by the exactions of Pul, and by the depredations of Shalmaneser, kings of Assyria. So the Targum,

"if they got substance, the nations shall spoil them of it.''

For they have {f} sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind: it hath no stalk: the bud shall yield no meal: if so be it yield, the strangers shall swallow it up.

(f) Showing that their religion has but a show, and in itself is but vanity.

7. The consequences of Israel’s evil conduct and policy are here represented under the figure of sowing and reaping. But the form of the figure is varied. First, Israel sows wind and reaps whirlwind, i.e. his present conduct is unprofitable to himself, and the requital of it shall be actual destruction. Next, though Israel sows a corn-plant, it never grows up to its full size (it, i.e. Israel, hath no standing corn); or if it does, it either yields the farmer no meal, or its meal is seized upon by the enemy, i.e. the worldly results of Israel’s policy are never good, and any wealth that it attains passes into the hands of the enemy.

the bud shall yield no meal] In the Hebrew there is a characteristic play upon sounds,—the çemakh yields no qemakh.

Verse 7. - For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind. The harvest corresponds to the seed-time; their foolish and vain idolatries shall have corresponding results. This proverbial expression imports more than merely labor in vain; it denotes labor that has an injurious and destructive result. It has more than a negative significancy of lost labor; it conveys the idea of positive detriment. "The prophet," says Kimchi, "means to say that they will weary themselves in vain in this service (of idols), just as if a man who sows the wind, in which there is nothing substantial, shall only reap the wind, or even still less; as if he had said, ' Ye shall not obtain the least enjoyment, but only injury.'" If, then, the wind denote the vanity and nothingness of human effort, the whirlwind is the image of destruction and annihilation, viz. a storm or hurricane remorselessly tearing all away with it. Suphah itself intensifies the notion included in ruach, while the paragogic ה intensifies still more, so as to denote a storm of greatest violence. The double feminine ending is regarded by most as strengthening the sense in this word suphathah, עֶזְרָתָה אֵימָהָה, etc. It hath no stalk (margin, standing corn): the bud shall yield no meal; better, shoot brings no fruit. This is a further development of the figure. When wind is the seed sown, destruction represented by tempest is the harvest reaped. The seed sown produces no stalk, or at least no stall = with grain in it - no standing corn. If the seed shoot up at all, the shoot has no fruit. Here the play on words, of which the Hebrews were so fond, is obvious - the tse-roach has no yemach; the halm has no maim; the Spross no Schoss; the corn no kern. If so be it yield, the strangers shall swallow it up. When, or if, any fruit is attained, the invasion of rapacious foreigners swallows it up. First, then, when the wind of vain human efforts is the sowing, destruction is the harvest. If the seed spring up at all, the ear does not fill; or if the ear should fill, there is no substance in it; or if it fill and have substance, the rapacity of hostile invaders consumes it. Thus a blight falls on all they do. Kimchi explains the verse fully as follows: "Because the prophet compares their works to one who sows the wind, he adds further to the same image, and says, 'It has no stalk, it reaches not the time when it shall be stalk' (or 'standing corn'). Now קמה is the name of the corn when it stands ready for the harvest, from which the husbandmen (literally, 'sowers') soon expect enjoyment, i.e. after harvest, when they shall make it into meal. Yea, even at the time they expect profit from their works, they shall have none. And he says further, 'The shoot shall not produce fruit or meal,' as if he said, ' Even should the seed spring up after the sowing.' He thus represents in a figure that should they prosper a little in their works after they have begun to do evil, yet that prosperity will not last, and it will not come to perfect enjoyment (beauty) like corn which comes to harvest and to grinding. And if it should yield, strangers devour it. Perhaps for a time it may produce so as to come to meal, as if he said that, should they prosper in their possessions so that a little enjoyment should be accorded to them at the first, then strangers shall come and devour it, and their enjoyment will not be complete." Hosea 8:7This will Israel reap from its ungodly conduct. Hosea 8:7. "For they sow wind, and reap tempest: it has no stalks; shoot brings no fruit; and even if it brought it, foreigners would devour it." With this figure, which is so frequently and so variously used (cf. Hosea 10:13; Hosea 12:2; Job 4:8; Proverbs 22:8), the threat is accounted for by a general thought taken from life. The harvest answers to the sowing (cf. Galatians 6:7-8). Out of the wind comes tempest. Wind is a figurative representation of human exertions; the tempest, of destruction. Instead of rūăch we have און, עמל, עולה (nothingness, weariness, wickedness) in Hosea 10:13; Job 4:8, and Proverbs 22:8. In the second hemistich the figure is carried out still further. קמה, "seed standing upon the stalk," is not to it (viz., that which has been sowed). Tsemach brings no qemach, - a play upon the words, answering to our shoot and fruit. Qemach: generally meal, here probably the grain-bearing ear, from which the meal is obtained. But even if the shoot, when grown, should yield some meal, strangers, i.e., foreigners, would consume it. In these words not only are the people threatened with failure of the crop; but the failure and worthlessness of all that they do are here predicted. Not only the corn of Israel, but Israel itself, will be swallowed up.
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