Hosea 9:10
I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the firstripe in the fig tree at her first time: but they went to Baalpeor, and separated themselves unto that shame; and their abominations were according as they loved.
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(10) Grapes in the wilderness.—Rich dainties to the desert traveller. So had Jehovah regarded His people at the commencement of their national history in the wilderness.

Firstripe.—The early fig that ripens in June, while the rest come to maturity about August (Isaiah 28:4; Micah 7:1; Jeremiah 24:2).

Baal-peor was the place where Moabitic idolatry was practised. This great disgrace had burned itself into their national traditions and literature (Numbers 25; Deuteronomy 4:3; Psalm 106:28-31).

Shame.—Heb. bosheth was a euphemism for Baal. Observe that names ending in “-bosheth” (Ish-bosheth, &c.) are replaced by the older forms in “-baal” in 1 Chron. Render the last clause, they have become abominations like their love (i.e., Baal).

Hosea 9:10. I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness — The sense is, as the traveller, passing through the deserts of Arabia, is greatly delighted if he happen to find in his way vines bearing grapes, so was Israel anciently delighted in by God. This relates particularly to their first entering into covenant with God, and their promises of ready obedience: see Exodus 19:8; Exodus 24:3; Deuteronomy 5:27-29. I saw your fathers — Whom I brought out of Egypt; as the first ripe in the fig-tree at her first time — As figs of the first season, and the earliest of that growth, which are the most valued and desired. But they went to Baal-peor — To the temple and worship of the god of the Moabites; and separated themselves unto that shame — That obscenity, so Horsley; that is, they consecrated themselves to that shameful idol; such as its worshippers ought to have been ashamed of, and as finally would cause shame to them. The word וינזרו, they were separated, alludes to the order of the Nazarites, who were in a peculiar sense set apart for God’s service; and, in like manner, these separated, or dedicated, themselves to the service of that filthy idol, Baal-peor, that shame, or shameful thing, as it is expressed Jeremiah 11:13. And their abominations were according as they loved — They set up and worshipped other idols, according to their own fancies. Houbigant reads this clause, Abominations became as their love: and Bishop Horsley, As my love of them, so were their abominations; and he remarks, “the love gratuitous, the abominations without inducement, but from mere depravity; the love the most tender, the abominations enormous.”

9:7-10 Time had been when the spiritual watchmen of Israel were with the Lord, but now they were like the snare of a fowler to entangle persons to their ruin. The people were become as corrupt as those of Gibeah, Jud 19; and their crimes should be visited in like manner. At first God had found Israel pleasing to Him, as grapes to the traveller in the wilderness. He saw them with pleasure as the first ripe figs. This shows the delight God took in them; yet they followed after idolatry.I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness - God is not said to find anything, as though "He" had lost it, or knew not where it was, or came suddenly upon it, not expecting it. "They" were lost, as relates to Him, when they were found by Him. As our Lord says of the returned prodigal, "This my son was lost and is found" Luke 15:32. He "found" them and made them pleasant in His own sight, "as grapes which a man finds unexpectedly, in "a great terrible wilderness of fiery serpents and drought" Deuteronomy 8:15, where commonly nothing pleasant or refreshing grows; or "as the first ripe in the fig-tree at her fresh time," whose sweetness passed into a proverb, both from its own freshness and from the long abstinence (see Isaiah 28:4). God gave to Israel both richness and pleasantness in His own sight; but Israel, from the first, corrupted God's good gifts in them. This generation only did as their fathers. So Stephen, setting forth to the Jews how their fathers had rebelled against Moses, and persecuted the prophets, sums up; "as your fathers did, so do ye" Acts 7:51. Each generation was filling up the measure of their fathers, until it was full; as the whole world is doing now Revelation 14:15.

But they went to Baal-Peor - "They," the word is emphatic; these same persons to whom God showed such love, to whom He gave such gifts, "went." They left God who called them, and "went" to the idol, which could not call them. Baal-Peor, as his name probably implies, was "the filthiest and foulest of the pagan gods." It appears from the history of the daughters of Midian, that his worship consisted in deeds of shame Numbers 25.

And separated themselves unto that shame - that is, to Baal-Peor, "whose" name of "Baal, Lord," he turns into "Bosheth, shame" . Holy Scripture gives disgraceful names to the idols, (as "abominations, nothings, dungy things, vanities, uncleanness," in order to make people ashamed of them. "To this shame they separated themselves" from God, in order to unite themselves with it. The Nazarite "separated himself from" certain earthly enjoyments, and consecrated himself, for a time or altogether, to God; these "separated themselves from" God, and united, devoted, consecrated themselves "to shame." "They made themselves, as it were, Nazarites to shame." Shame was the object of their worship and their God, "and" their "abominations were according as they loved," i. e., they had as many "abominations" or abominable idols, "as" they had "loves." They multiplied abominations, "after their heart's desire;" their abominations were manifold, because their passions were so; and their love being corrupted, they loved nothing but abominations.

Yet it seems simpler and truer to render it, "and they became abominations, like their loves;" as the Psalmist says, "They that make them are like unto them" Psalm 115:8. : "The object which the will desires and loves, transfuses its own goodness or badness into it." Man first makes his god like his own corrupt self, or to some corruption in himself, and then, worshiping this ideal of his own, he becomes the more corrupt through copying that corruption. He makes his god "in his" own "image and likeness," the essence and concentration of his own bad passions, and then conforms himself to the likeness, not of God, but of what was most evil in himself. Thus the Pagan made gods of lust, cruelty, thirst for war; and the worship of corrupt gods reacted on themselves. They forgot that they were "the work of their own hands," the conception of their own minds, and professed to "do gladly" "what so great gods" had done.

And more widely, says a father , "what a man's love is, that he is. Lovest thou earth? thou art earth. Lovest thou God? What shall I say? thou shalt be god." : "Naught else maketh good or evil actions, save good or evil affections." Love has a transforming power over the soul, which the intellect has not. "He who serveth an abomination is himself an abomination" , is a thoughtful Jewish saying. "The intellect brings home to the soul the knowledge on which it worketh, impresses it on itself, incorporates it with itself. Love is an impulse whereby he who loves is borne forth toward that which he loves, is united with it, and is transformed into it." Thus in explaining the words, "Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His Mouth," Sol 1:2, the fathers say , "Then the Word of God kisseth us, when He enlighteneth our heart with the Spirit of divine knowledge, and the soul cleaveth to Him and His Spirit is transfused into him."

10. As the traveller in a wilderness is delighted at finding grapes to quench his thirst, or the early fig (esteemed a great delicacy in the East, Isa 28:4; Jer 24:2; Mic 7:1); so it was My delight to choose your fathers as My peculiar people in Egypt (Ho 2:15).

at her first time—when the first-fruits of the tree become ripe.

went to Baal-peor—(Nu 25:3): the Moabite idol, in whose worship young women prostituted themselves; the very sin Israel latterly was guilty of.

separated themselves—consecrated themselves.

unto that shame—to that shameful or foul idol (Jer 11:13).

their abominations were according as they loved—rather, as Vulgate, "they became abominable like the object of their love" (De 7:26; Ps 115:8). English Version gives good sense, "their abominable idols they followed after, according as their lusts prompted them" (Am 4:5, Margin).

I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness: the Lord speaks of himself in the person of a traveller, who unexpectedly in the wilderness findeth a vine loaded with grapes, which are most delightful and welcome to him; such love did God bear to Israel, i.e. a very strong and hearty love: the simile expresseth the greatness, not the cause, of the Divine love.

I saw your fathers; not Abraham, or Isaac, and Jacob, but your fathers whom I brought out of Egypt.

As the first-ripe in the fig tree at her first time; as the earliest ripe fruit, either of the fig tree as our version, or the first-ripe of any sweet and delicious fruit tree, as the word will bear, which are most valued and desired; so was Israel dear and valued.

They went to Baalpeor: this evinceth that the prophet speaketh not of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but of those who were brought out of Egypt, as appears in the story of their deportment in Shittim, Numbers 25:1-3, where they committed idolatry with Baal-peor, of whose rites authors do variously discourse, some reporting them to have been practised with shameless looseness, as the rites of Bacchus, Venus, or Priapus among the Romans; others say, this idol of Moab had his name from a mountain in Moab where he was worshipped, and had a stately and famous temple; this mountain is mentioned Numbers 22:41, with Numbers 23:28; and this is the more likely opinion.

Separated themselves; they did consecrate and dedicate themselves; possibly some turned priests to the idol; however, they addicted themselves to and worshipped the idol, and brought their sacrifices.

To that shame: by way of contempt and detestation the prophet speaks of this idol, and gives it the name of shame in the abstract, to express the greatest degree of detestation of it, and of that they did.

Their abominations, their idols, and way of worshipping them,

were according as they loved; either as they fancied, or as the idolatrous women whom they loved were multiplied, so their idols were, for they took the idols with them.

I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness,.... Not Jacob or Israel personally, with the few souls that went down with him into Egypt; for these died in Egypt, and never returned from thence, or came into the wilderness to be found; nor Israel in a spiritual sense, the objects of electing, redeeming, and calling grace; though it may be accommodated to them, who in their nature state are as in a wilderness, in a forlorn, hopeless, helpless, and uncomfortable condition; in which the Lord finds them, seeking them by his Son in redemption, and by his Spirit in the effectual calling; when they are like grapes, not in themselves, being destitute of all good, and having nothing but sin and wickedness in them; for, whatever good thing is in them at conversion, it is not found, but put there; but the simile may serve to express the great and unmerited love of God to his people, who are as agreeable to him as grapes in the wilderness to a thirsty traveller; and in whom he takes great delight and complacency, notwithstanding all their sinfulness and unworthiness; and bestows abundance of grace upon them, and makes them like clusters of grapes indeed; and such were many of the Jewish fathers, and who are here intended, even the people of Israel brought out of Egypt into the wilderness of Arabia, through which they travelled to Canaan: here the Lord found them, took notice and care of them, provided for them, and protected them, and gave them, many tokens of his love and affection; see Deuteronomy 32:10; and they were as acceptable to him, and he took as much delight and pleasure in them, as one travelling through the deserts of Arabia, or any other desert, would rejoice at finding a vine laden with clusters of grapes. The design of this metaphor is not to compare Israel with grapes, because of any goodness in them, and as a reason of the Lord's delight in them; for neither for quantity nor quality were they like them, being few, and very obstinate and rebellious; but to set forth the great love of God to them, and his delight and complacency in them; which arose and sprung, not from any excellency in them, but from his own sovereign good will and pleasure; see Deuteronomy 7:6;

I saw your fathers as the first ripe in the fig tree at her first time; the Lord looked upon their ancestors when they were settled as a people, in their civil and church state, upon their being brought out of Egypt, with as much pleasure as a man beholds the first ripe fig his fig tree produces after planting it, or the first it produces in the season, the fig tree bearing twice in a year; but the first is commonly most desired, as being most rare and valuable; and such were the Israelites to the Lord at first, Micah 7:1. This is observed, to aggravate their ingratitude to the Lord, which soon discovered itself; and to suggest that their posterity were like them, who, though they had received many favours from the Lord, as tokens of his affection to them, and delight in them; yet behaved in a most shocking and shameful manner to him:

but they went to Baalpeor: or "went into Baalpeor" (a); committed whoredom with that idol, even in the wilderness where the Lord found them and showed so much regard to them; this refers to the history in Numbers 25:1. Baalpeor is by some interpreted "the lord" or "god of opening": and was so called, either from his opening his mouth in prophecy, as Ainsworth (b) thinks, as Nebo, a god of Babylon, had his name from prophesying; or from his open mouth, with which this idol was figured, as a Jewish writer (c) observes; whose worshipper took him to be inspired, and opened their mouths to receive the divine afflatus from him: others interpret it "the lord" or "god of nakedness"; because his worshippers exposed to him their posteriors in a shameful manner, and even those parts which ought to be covered; and this is the sense of most of the Jewish writers. So, in the Jerusalem Talmud (d), the worship of Peor is represented in like manner, and as most filthy and obscene, as it is by Jarchi (e), who seems to have taken his account from thence; and even Maimonides (f) says it was a known thing that the worship of Peor was by uncovering of the nakedness; and this he makes to be the reason why God commanded the priests to make themselves breeches to cover their nakedness in the time of service, and why they might not go up to the altar by steps, that their nakedness might not be discovered; in short, they took this Peor to be no other than a Priapus; and in this they are followed by many Christians, particularly by Jerom on this place, who observes that Baalpeor is the god of the Moabites, whom we may call Priapus; and so Isidore (g) says, there was an idol in Moab called Baal, on Mount Fegor, whom the this call Priapus, the god of gardens; but Mr. Selden (h) rejects this notion, and contends that Peor is either the name of a mountain, of which Isidore, just now mentioned, speaks; see Numbers 23:28; where Baal was worshipped, and so was called from thence Baalpeor; as Jupiter Olympius, Capitolinus, &c. is so called from the mountains of Olympus, Capitolinus, &c. where divine honours are paid him; or else the name of a man, of some great person in high esteem, who was deified by the Moabites, and worshipped by them after his death; and so Baalpeor may be the same as "Lord Peor"; and it seems most likely that Peor is the name of a man, at least of an idol, since we read of Bethpeor, or the temple of Peor, in Deuteronomy 34:6;

and separated themselves unto that shame; they separated themselves from God and his worship, and joined themselves to that shameful idol, and worshipped it, thought by many, as before observed, to be the Priapus of the Gentiles, in whose worship the greatest of obscenities were used, not fit to be named: so that this epithet of shame is with great propriety given it, and aggravates the sin of Israel, that such a people should be guilty of such filthy practices; though Baal, without supposing him to he a Priapus, may be called "that shame", for Baal and Bosheth, which signifies shame, are some times put for each other; so Jerubbaal, namely Gideon, is called Jerubbesheth, Judges 8:35; and Eshbaal appears plainly to be the same son of Saul, whose name was Ishbosheth, 1 Chronicles 8:33; and Meribbaal is clearly the same with Mephibosheth 1 Chronicles 8:34; yea, it may be observed that the prophets of Baal are called, in the Septuagint version of 1 Kings 18:25; , "the prophets of that shame"; every idol, and all idolatry being shameful, and the cause of shame, sooner or later, to their worshippers; especially when things obscene were done in their religious rites, as were in many of the Heathens in which the Jews followed them; see Jeremiah 3:24;

and their abominations were according as they loved: or, "as they loved them", the daughters of Moab; for it was through their impure love of them that they were drawn into these abominations, or to worship idols, which are often called abominations; or, as Joseph Kimchi reads the words, and gives the sense of them, "and they were abominations as I loved them"; that is, according to the measure of the love wherewith I loved them, so they were abominations in mine eyes; they were as detestable now as they were loved before.

(a) "ingressi sunt", Pagninus, Montanus, Calvin, Drusius. (b) Annotations on Numbers 25.3.((c) Racenatensis in Capito, apud Drusium in loc. (d) T. Hieros. Sanhedrin, fol. 28. 4. (e) Perush in Numbers 25.3.((f) Moreh Nevochim, par. 3. c. 45. p. 477. (g) Origin. l. 8. c. 11. p. 70. (h) De Dis Syris, Syntagma 1. c. 5. p. 162, 163. See Cumberland's Sanchoniatho, p. 73, &c.

I found Israel like {l} grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the firstripe in the fig tree at her first time: but they went to Baalpeor, and separated themselves unto that shame; and their abominations were according {m} as they loved.

(l) Meaning, that he esteemed them and delighted in them in this way.

(m) They were as abominable to me, as their lovers the idols.

10. like grapes in the wilderness] With such delight as a traveller would unexpectedly find grapes in the desert, did Jehovah regard the children of Israel at the beginning of their national existence. Comp. Jeremiah 2:2, ‘I remember for thy good the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness.’ Jehovah condescends to overlook the frailties and inconsistencies of ancient Israel, and even idealizes its character. Comp. Hosea 2:15, Hosea 13:1.

as the firstripe in the fig tree] So the better portion of the people of Judah are compared to ‘very good figs, even as the figs that are first ripe’ (Jeremiah 24:2). The white fig of Palestine ripens much before the black, sometimes as early as April; the ordinary fig-harvest is not till the middle of August, but early ripe fruit might be found in June. Hence the fitness of Hosea’s image (comp. Isaiah 28:4; Micah 7:1).

at her first time] i.e., when it begins to be ripe.

they went to Baal-peor, &c.] So early did they fall away; comp. Hosea 11:1-2. Baal-peor is here (as the form of the construction shows) put for Beth-peor (Deuteronomy 3:29, &c.), the place where Baal-peor was worshipped. The open falling-away to this heathen deity was one of the most startling episodes of the period of the wanderings (see Numbers 25). It is commonly held, but is really a pure conjecture, that the worship of Baal-peor was licentious. If this be correct, it will give a special significance to the last clause in the verse, which may however merely mean that the idols, being abominable to the true God, make their worshippers abominable, just as Shame may refer, not to the shameful rites of this Baal, but to God’s abhorrence of idolatry. In 1 Kings 11:5 and elsewhere ‘an abomination’ is a synonym for an idol, apart from the character of the worship.

separated [i.e. consecrated] themselves unto that shame] Rather, unto Shame (Heb. bosheth). See above, and compare the substitution of bosheth or besheth for baal in proper names, e.g. Jerubbesheth (for Jerubbaal), Ishbosheth (for Eshbaal), Mephibosheth for Meribbaal (comp. Prof. Kirkpatrick on 2 Samuel 2:8).

and their abominations, &c.] Rather, and became abominations like that which they loved (comp. on Hosea 12:11).

10–17. But not only in the days of Gibeah; from the very first, the nation trespassed against Jehovah. Awful shall be the judgment for the continued infidelity—so awful, that Hosea can hardly bear to contemplate it. He seems uncertain whether extermination or dispersion will be the penalty, but concludes with an announcement of the latter.

Verse 10. - I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the first-ripe in the fig tree at her first time. Grapes and first figs are among the choicest and most refreshing fruits; but to find such delicious fruits in a dry, barren wilderness is specially grateful and delightful. There are three possible constructions of bammidhbor:

(1) with "found,"

(2) with "grapes," and

(3) with both.

According to the first, which, on the whole, seems preferable, the meaning is, "I found Israel of old as a man finds grapes in a desert;" and the sense is God's good will towards and delight in Israel. Grapes found by a weary, exhausted traveler in a wilderness are a real boon, refreshing and strengthening him for continuing his journey and reaching his destination. Rashi gives the sense clearly and concisely thus: "As gropes which are precious and delicious in a desert, even so have I loved Israel." Aben Ezra, in his exposition, refers to Deuteronomy 32:10, "He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye;" and then adds, "As grapes in a wilderness where no one dwells; every one that finds them rejoices in them, and so in the first-ripe figs." The comment of Kimchi is fuller and more satisfactory: "As a man, when he finds grapes in the wilderness which is dry and fruitless, rejoices over them; and as he rejoices when he finds a first-fruit in the fig tree in its beginning; even so have I found Israel in the wilderness, and fed them and nourished them: they lacked nothing, equally as if they had been in an inhabited land; but they have not recognized my goodness." As the fig harvest is rather late in Palestine - about the middle of August - early figs have special worth, and are regarded as a delicacy. The comparison then is, according to Rashi, with the "early fig on the fig tree, which is ripe; like the fig on the fig tree in its beginning, i.e. in the beginning of the ripening of the figs;" then he subjoins, "Even so did your fathers appear in my eyes, that I loved them." But they went to Baal-peor, and separated themselves unto that shame. Israel did not continue long in a condition so pleasing to God, but fell away from him, forgot his benefits, and turned aside to the abominable idols of the surrounding Gentiles. As Aben Ezra somewhat pathetically expresses it, "Yet my joy was only small and of short duration, for they did homage to Baal-peor, and separated themselves from me." Long, therefore, before the sin of Gibeah they transgressed in Baal-poor; in the early period of their history they apostatized and proved unfaithful to Jehovah. To this hideous god, corresponding to Priapus of the Greeks, the maidens of Moab sacrificed their virginity. The Israelites were designed to be Nazarites, that is, separated to Jehovah and consecrated to his service, but they separated themselves unto that shame, either the idol or his worship. And their abominations were according as they loved. If men are slaves to appetite, they make a god of their belly; if to lust, Baal-peor is their god; and men become like what they worship, and abominable as the idols they serve, as the psalmist says, "They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them." They "became abominations like their lover" (ohabh, paramour; namely, Baal-peor), that is, as abominable and loathsome in the sight of God as the idols which they adulterously worshipped. Hosea 9:10Hosea 9:10. "I found Israel like grapes in the desert, I saw your fathers like early fruit on the fig-tree in the first shooting; but they came to Baal-peor, and consecrated themselves to shame, and became abominations like their lover." Grapes in the desert and early figs are pleasant choice fruits to whoever finds them. This figure therefore indicates the peculiar pleasure which Jehovah found in the people of Israel when He led them out of Egypt, or the great worth which they had in His eyes when He chose them for the people of His possession, and concluded a covenant with them at Sinai (Theod., Cyr.). Bammidbâr (in the desert) belongs, so far as its position is concerned, to ‛ănâbhı̄m: grapes in the dry, barren desert, where you do not expect to find such refreshing fruit; but, so far as the fact is concerned, it also refers to the place in which Israel was thus found by God, since you can only find fruit in the desert when you are there yourself. The words, moreover, evidently refer to Deuteronomy 32:10 ("I found him Israel in the wilderness," etc.), and point implicite to the helpless condition in which Israel was when God first adopted it. The suffix to berē'shı̄thâh (at her beginning) refers to תּאנה, the first-fruit, which the fig-tree bears in its first time, at the first shooting. But Israel no longer answered to the good pleasure of God. They came to Baal-peor. בּעל־פּעור without the preposition אל is not the idol of that name, but the place where it was worshipped, which was properly called Beth-peor or Peor (see at Numbers 23:28 and Numbers 25:3). ינּזרוּ is chosen instead of יצּמד (Numbers 23:3, Numbers 23:5), to show that Israel ought to have consecrated itself to Jehovah, to have been the nazir of Jehovah. Bōsheth (shame) is the name given to the idol of Baal-peor (cf. Jeremiah 3:24), the worship of which was a shame to Israel. 'Ohabh, the paramour, is also Baal-peor. Of all the different rebellions on the part of Israel against Jehovah, the prophet singles out only the idolatry with Baal-peor, because the principal sin of the ten tribes was Baal-worship in its coarser or more refined forms.
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