Hosea 9:11
As for Ephraim, their glory shall fly away like a bird, from the birth, and from the womb, and from the conception.
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(11) From the birth . . .—Or rather, so that there shall be no childbirth, nor pregnancy, nor conception—an ascending climax. Progeny was the glory of ancient Israel (Genesis 22:17; Deuteronomy 7:13-14; Psalm 127:5; Proverbs 17:6).

Hosea 9:11-13. As for Ephraim, or, Ephraim! their glory shall fly away like a bird — What they make their boast of so much shall depart from them. The fruitfulness of their women seems to be the thing here spoken of. From the birth — Their children shall die soon after they are born; from the womb — They shall be untimely births, or abortions; and from the conception — They shall not even be conceived as they were wont to be. Dr. Wheeler renders this clause, They shall not bring forth, nor bear in the womb, nor conceive. Though they bring up, &c. — If some of them happen to bring up their children to a state of youth, or manhood, yet will I bereave them — Yet still shall they be deprived of them, for they shall be slain in war, or carried away captive. Yea, wo also to them when I depart from them — They shall suffer still greater and greater miseries when I wholly withdraw my protection from them, Deuteronomy 31:17; 2 Kings 17:18-23. Ephraim, as I saw Tyrus, is planted in a pleasant place — The situation of Ephraim, and particularly of the royal city, Samaria, is as pleasant as that of Tyre: see Ezekiel 27:3. But Ephraim shall bring forth, &c., to the murderer — Shall be obliged to deliver up his children to his enemies. Instead of Tyre, some interpreters render the word צור, a rock, which it generally signifies, and translate the passage, Ephraim, which, when I looked upon him, was as a rock planted in a pleasant place, shall bring forth, &c. So Houbigant, and to the same sense Newcome and Horsley.

9:11-17. God departs from a people, or from a person, when he withdraws his goodness and mercy from them; and when the Lord is departed, what can the creature do? Even though, for the present, good things seem to remain, yet the blessing is gone if God is gone. Even the children should perish with the parents. The Divine wrath dries up the root, and withers the fruit of all comforts; and the scattered Jews daily warn us to beware, lest we neglect or abuse the gospel. Yet every smiting is not a drying up of the root. It may be that God intends only to smite so that the sap may be turned to the root, that there may be more of root graces, more humility, patience, faith, and self-denial. It is very just that God should bring judgments on those who slight his offered mercy.As for Ephraim, their glory shall fly away, like a bird - Ephraim had parted with God, his true Glory. In turn, God would quickly take from him all created glory, all which he counted glory, or in which he gloried. When man parts with the substance, his true honor, God takes away the shadow, lest he should content himself therewith, and not see his shame, and, boasting himself to be something, abide in his nothingness and poverty and shame to which he had reduced himself. "Fruitfulness," and consequent strength, had been God's special promise to Ephraim. His name, Ephraim, contained in itself the promise of his future fruitfulness. Genesis 41:52. With this Jacob had blessed him. He was to be greater than Manasseh, his older brother, "and his seed shall become a multitude of nations" Genesis 48:19. Moses had assigned to him "tens of thousands" Deuteronomy 33:17, while to Manasseh he had promised "thousands" only. On this blessing Ephraim had presumed, and had made it to feed his pride; so now God, in his justice and mercy, would withdraw it from him. It should "make" itself "wings, and fly away" Proverbs 23:5, with the swiftness of a bird, and "like a bird," not to return again to the place, from where it has been scared.

From the birth - Their children were to perish at every stage in which they received life. This sentence pursued them back to the very beginning of life. First, when their parents should have joy in "their birth," they were to come into the world only to go out of it; then, their mothers womb was to be itself their grave; then, stricken with barrenness, the womb itself was to refuse to conceive them.

: "The glory of Ephraim passes away, from the birth, the womb, the conception, when the mind which before was, for glory, half-deified, receives, through the just judgment of God, ill report for good report, misery for glory, hatred for favor, contempt for reverence, loss for gain, famine for abundance. Act is the "birth;" intention the "womb;" thought the "conception." "The glory of Ephraim then flies away from the birth, the womb, the conception," when, in those who before did outwardly live nobly, and gloried in themselves for the outward propriety of their life, the acts are disgraced, the intention corrupted, the thoughts defiled."

11. their glory shall fly away—fit retribution to those who "separated themselves unto that shame" (Ho 9:10). Children were accounted the glory of parents; sterility, a reproach. "Ephraim" means "fruitfulness" (Ge 41:52); this its name shall cease to be its characteristic.

from the birth … womb … conception—Ephraim's children shall perish in a threefold gradation; (1) From the time of birth. (2) From the time of pregnancy. (3) From the time of their first conception.

Their glory; their children or posterity, which was as much the glory of Israel, as their multiplying was above the common rate of other nations’ multiplying; it was to them a singular blessing, and performing of promise, and they did greatly rejoice and glory in this blessing, Psalm 128 Pr 17:6.

Shall fly away like a bird: it is proverbial, and speaks a sudden and unexpected loss of children. which vanish and are gone as a bird: see Proverbs 23:5, where sudden loss of riches is expressed in the same proverb.

From the birth; shall die as soon as born.

From the womb; prove abortive, their mothers shall not bring the fruit of the womb to perfection, or alive into the world.

From the conception; through barrenness their wives shall not conceive.

As for Ephraim, their glory shall flee away like a bird,.... That is, suddenly, swiftly, and irrecoverably, and never return more; which some understand of God their glory, and of his departure from them, as in Hosea 9:12; others of their wealth and riches, and whatever was glorious and valuable among them, which should fly away from them in a moment, when taken and carried captive; rather their numerous posterity, in which they were very fruitful, according to their name, and in which they gloried, as children are the glory of their parents, Proverbs 17:6; which sense agrees with what follows, and which explains the manner of their fleeing away, and the periods of it:

from the birth, and from the womb, and from the conception; that is, some of them, as soon as they were born; others while in the womb, being abortives; or, however, when they should, or as soon as they did, come from thence; and others, as soon as conceived, never come to any thing; or not conceived at all, as Kimchi interprets it, the women being barren.

As for Ephraim, their glory shall fly away like a bird, from the birth, {n} and from the womb, and from the conception.

(n) Signifying that God would destroy their children by these different means, and so consume them by little and little.

11. The prophet leaves us to supply the idea that Ephraim’s present transgressions are as heinous as those of old, and passes on to the punishment.

their glory … like a bird] Rather, like birds. All their earthly prosperity shall take to itself wings, because, as we have already heard, ‘they have exchanged their (true) glory for infamy’ (Hosea 4:7). Kimchi narrows the meaning too much, when he says, ‘He calls children “glory”, for they are the glory of fathers (Proverbs 17:6).’ But of course populousness formed a part of the Israelite’s conception of national prosperity.

from the birth, &c.] Rather, that there shall be no birth, nor being with child, nor conception. Such is the retribution for their sins against chastity (see on Hosea 4:10).

Verses 11-14. - Having referred to the most flagrant instances of Israel's transgressions in the past - Gibeah in the time of the judges, Baal-peor at a still earlier period even in the days of Moses, and having merely indicated the parallel between their present sin and previous enormities, the prophet proceeds to denounce the punishments deserved and ready to descend upon them. As for Ephraim, their glory shall fly away like a bird, from the birth, and from the womb, and from the conception. The greatest glory, perhaps, of Ephraim was their fruitfulness - "double fruitfulness" being the very meaning of the name and the multiplication of their numbers; now that glory of populousness was to vanish speedily and entirely, like birds winging their way swiftly and out of sight. After the figure comes the fact, and it is expressed in anti-climactic form - no child-bearing, no pregnancy, no conception. The course of barrenness takes the place of the blessing of fruitfulness. Though they bring up their children, yet will I believe them, that there shall not be a man left. Even if their sons should grow up to manhood and attain maturity, yet they would be cut off by the sword and swept away by death, so that their progeny would perish. This accords with the threatened punishment of unfaithfulness recorded in Deuteronomy 32:25, "The sword without, and terror within, shall destroy both the young man and the virgin, the suckling also with the man of grey hairs." The negative sense of rain, equivalent to "so that not," is common before verbs, also before nouns the min being put for the fuller מֵהְיות. Yea, woe also to them when I depart from them! This accounts for the coming calamity; it is the departure of Jehovah from Israel, and the withdrawal of his favor. The word שׂוּר

(1) stands for סוּר, sin and samech being interchanged; or

(2) it may be for שׁוּר, sin put for shin by a clerical error. The meaning is a little different: "when I look away from them." Rashi mentions the fact that this word belongs to those words written with sin but read with samech. His comment on the verse is correct: "For what benefit have they when they bring up their children? Because, if they do bring them up, then I bereave them so that they do not become men;" similarly Kimchi: "If there be some among them who escape these mishaps and reach the birth, and they (the parents) bring them up yet shall they die in youth, and never reach the season when they shall be called men."

(3) The misreading of בְּשָׂרִי instead of בְּשׂוּרִי by the LXX. led to the strange misrendering, "Wherefore also there is a woe to them (though) my flesh is of them (διότι καὶ οὐαὶ αὐτοῖς ἐστι σάρξ μον ἐξ αὐτῶν,) of which Cyril connects the first member with the preceding words, and, detaching the remainder, interpreted, "Let my flesh be far for exemption from the punishment threatened. Ephraim, as I saw Tyrus, is planted in a pleasant place: but Ephraim shall bring forth his children to the murderer. The first member of this verse has called forth great diversity of translation and interpretation. It were tedious, and not conducive to the right understanding of the verse, to enumerate the various expositions given of it. A very few of the most important may be briefly noticed.

(1) The LXX., reading לָצוּד, בְנֵירֶם, rendered, "Ephraim, even as I saw, gave her children for a prey (εἰς θήραν)"

(2) Ewald, conjecturing צוּרָה, renders," Ephraim is, as I judge, according to the form, a planting in a meadow." Rejecting both these, we come

(3) to that of Gesenius: "Ephraim, like Tyro (as if it were Tyro), is planted in a beautiful meadow;" De Wette's is," Ephraim, when (or if) I look as far as Tyro, is planted on a pleasant meadow;" Keil has, "Ephraim, as I selected it for a Tyro planted in the valley; so shall Ephraim lead out its sons to the murderer." All these renderings are faulty in one respect or other; some of them miss the sense altogether, and others of them obscure it.

(4) The rendering that appears to us simplest, most in harmony with the Hebrew, and most suitable to the context, is that of Wunshe, but with a modification that of a secure dwelling-place instead of meadow: "Ephraim, as I look towards Tyro, is planted on a meadow [rather, 'sure resting-place'], and Ephraim must lead out its sons to the murderer." The meaning, then, is that Ephraim is a lovely land in whatever direction one looks towards it, like the famous Tyro; it was beautiful and blooming, populous as well as pleasant; or rather, strong in its natural fortifications, like the famous capital of Phoenicia; yet the wrath of Heaven hung over it - it would become waste and emptied of its male population, Ephraim being obliged to send forth the bravest of her sons to repel the hostile invader, and to perish in the tumult of the battle. By combining a part of Rashi's exposition with part of Kimchi's, we reach the correct sense. Rashi has, "Ephraim as I look towards Tyro, which in its prosperity is crowned above all cities, so I look upon Ephraim planted on a meadow;" so far the explanation is correct, not so what follow: "And Ephraim - how does he reward me? He is busied in bringing forth his sons to the murderer in order to sacrifice them to idols;" in place of this latter part we substitute the following of Kimchi: "The enemies shall come upon them, and they shall march out from their cities to meet them in battle, and the enemies shall slay them." The infinitive with le, לְהוצִיא, implies the necessity imposed on Ephraim to do so. Ephraim is to had out, or must lead out, his sons to the murderer. Rosenmüller, in his commentary, has the following remark on this idiom at the fifteenth verse of the forty-ninth psalm: "Tempus infinitivum positum esse fututri sire aoristi, vice, pro eo quod plenum esset עתיד לי = paratus est," etc. He adds that the Syriac prefixes arid, equivalent to paratus est to the infinitive with lomad, and so makes a paraphrase of the future; while the Hebrews omit arid. Driver ('Hebrew Tenses,' p. 300) says of this usage of the so-called "periphrastic future," "Hero the infinitive with ל, expressing as usual a direction, tendency, or aim, forms the sole predicate: the subject, as a rule, stands first, so as to engage the mind, the purpose which is postulated for it follows; and thus the idea arises of an inevitable sequence or obligation , though net one of a formal or pronounced character, which is expressed in Hebrew by other means (i.e. by the addition of על, or of ל, as עָלַי, equivalent to 'incumbent upon me'); Hosea 9:13, 'And Ephraim is for bringing forth his sons to the slayer;' or, as this is the entire scope and object in regard to which Ephraim is here considered - is to or must bring forth." Give them, O Lord: what writ thou give? give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts. The prophet seems at a loss to know what he should ask for his countrymen. Though it was not total excision, but rather diminution of numbers, that was threatened in accordance with the statement, "If thou wilt not observe to do all the words of this Law... ye shall be left few in number, whereas ye were as the stars of heaven for multitude;" yet at every stage their offspring was to be cut off, or, if spared to arrive at manhood, it was only to fall by the hand of the murderer. No wonder, then, the prophet is perplexed in regard to the petition that would be most expedient for them. He hardly knew what was best to ask on their behalf.

(1) The thought at length flashed upon him that utter childishness was preferable to bringing up children to be slain with the sword or trained in idolatry; hence he prayed for what he regarded as the less calamity - "a miscarrying womb and dry breasts." Or

(2) the prophet is agitated between compassion for his countrymen and indignation at their sin. Justly indignant at the heinousness of their iniquity, he is about to appeal to Heaven for vengeance on the transgressors, but in pity for the erring people he cheeks the half-uttered imprecation, or softens it into the milder request for their extinction by childlessness. Hosea 9:11It is very evident that this is what he has in his mind, and that he regards the apostasy of the ten tribes as merely a continuation of that particular idolatry, from the punishment which is announced in Hosea 9:11, Hosea 9:12, as about to fall upon Ephraim in consequence. Hosea 9:11. "Ephraim, its glory will fly away like a bird; no birth, and no pregnancy, and no conception. Hosea 9:12. Yea, though they bring up their sons, I make them bereft, without a man; for woe to them when I depart from them!" The glory which God gave to His people through great multiplication, shall vanish away. The licentious worship of luxury will be punished by the diminution of the numbers of the people, by childlessness, and the destruction of the youth that may have grown up. מלּדה, so that there shall be no bearing. בּטן, the womb, for pregnancy or the fruit of the womb. Even (kı̄ emphatic) if the sons (the children) grow up, God will make them bereft, מאדם, so that there shall be no men there. The grown-up sons shall be swept away by death, by the sword (cf. Deuteronomy 32:25). The last clause gives the reason for the punishment threatened. גּם adds force; it usually stands at the head of the sentence, and here belongs to להם: Yea, woe to them, if I depart from them, or withdraw my favour from them! שׂוּר stands for סוּר, according to the interchangeableness of שׂ and ס (Aquila and Vulg.). This view has more to support it than the supposition that שׂוּר is an error of the pen for שׁוּר (Ewald, Hitzig, etc.), since שׁוּר, to look, construed with מן, in the sense of to look away from a person, is never met with, although the meaning is just the same.
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