Ephraim is smitten, their root is dried up, they shall bear no fruit: yes, though they bring forth, yet will I slay even the beloved fruit of their womb.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)They shall bear no fruit.—Ephraim, whose very name signifies fruitfulness.Amos 4:9. Yet such smiting, although it falls heavily for the time, leaves hope for the future. He adds then, "their root is" also "withered," so that "they should bear no fruit;" or if, perchance, while the root was still drying up and not quite dead, any fruit he yet found, "yet will I slay," God says, "the beloved," fruit "of their womb," the desired fruit of their bodies, that which their souls longed for. : "So long as they have children, and multiply the fruit of the womb, they think that they bear fruit, they deem not that "their root is dried," or that they have been severed by the axe of excision, and "rooted out of the land of the living;" but, in the anguish at the "slaying" of those they most loved, they shall say, better had it been to have had no children." Ephraim is smitten: this gives us some guess at the time of this prophecy, which was after Jeroboam’s death, in whose life and reign Ephraim was as a very flourishing tree, whose roots were full of sap and life; but after the death of this king they were, as here it is expressed, a tree smitten, as if scorched with lightning, or burnt up with a vehement and continued heat and drought by day; blasted they were, whatever was the means: or possibly it may refer to those seditions, civil wars, and rebellious conspiracies which (say some) did for some years afflict the kingdom of the ten tribes, which unnatural wars were as an axe to the root of this tree, and gave Pul king of Assyria opportunity and courage to set upon them, of whom they were forced to buy their peace at a dear rate, viz. a thousand talents of silver; or to the captivating of Naphtali, and taking many fortified towns out of Pekah’s hand by Tiglath-pileser, who came up to the rescue of Ahaz, 2 Kings 15.
Their root is dried up; this hath dried up the very roots of this tree; this blast from heaven hath not only scorched the top boughs, but rent the very body of this Israelitish tree, and hath spoiled its roots; or civil wars first, and foreign wars next, have cut up the roots of this tree, the strong and valiant young men, who were to perpetuate the life and beauty of this people.
They shall bear no fruit: as such a dead root cannot spring out; so these Ephraimites never shall spring forth, they shall ever be barren. Though they bring forth; suppose they should yet bring forth, (such a supposition you meet with Hosea 9:12, which see,) they shall not grow to maturity and greatness.
Yet will I slay even the beloved fruit of their womb; either by diseases, which are legibly from God’s hand, or by the sword of one another, or of a foreign invader: if you do not enumerate all the ways God will take, we are sure he will take ways enough to make good his own word, and slay their beloved children, those children that were the more beloved for that their parents had either few, or else had lost some they had before. Hosea 9:13; and were in very flourishing circumstances in the times of Jeroboam the second; but now were like a tree smitten with thunder and lightning, or hail stones, and beat to pieces; or with the heat of the sun, or with blasting winds, or by worms; as in the succeeding reigns, by the judgments of God upon them; by civil wars, conspiracies, and murders among themselves; and by the exactions of Pul and depredations of Tiglathpileser kings of Assyria; and quickly would be smitten again; the present being put for the future, because of the certainty of it, as usual in prophetic writings; or be utterly destroyed by Shalmaneser, and be no more a kingdom:
their root is dried up; like the root of a tree that has no sap and moisture in it, and can communicate none to the body and branches of the tree, which in course must die. This may be understood of their king, princes, nobles, and chief men, the support and strength of the nations; and of parents and heads of families, cut off by one judgment or another:
they shall bear no fruit; as a tree thus smitten, and its root dried up, cannot; so neither, this being their case, there would be none to beget, nor any to bear children, and bring them forth; called the fruit of the womb, in allusion to the fruit of trees:
yea, though they bring forth; though some of them should be spared, women with their husbands, and should procreate children:
yet will I slay even the beloved fruit of their womb; their children they should bring forth, on whom their affections were strongly set; and the rather, as they were but few, and from whom they had raised expectations of building up their families; even these the Lord would stay, or suffer to be slain, either by the sword of the enemy, or by famine, or by pestilence, or by some disease or another; so that there should be no hope of a future posterity, at least of no great number of them.Ephraim is smitten, their root is dried up, they shall bear no fruit: yea, though they bring forth, yet will I slay even the beloved fruit of their womb.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)16. Ephraim is smitten …] Ephraim’s population is compared to the branches of a tree, and the national vitality to the root. The tree is ‘smitten’ by the withering heat, or by lightning, or, like Jonah’s ‘ricinus’, by ‘worms’ (Jonah 4:7), so that root and branches dry up; the idea of Hosea 9:11 b in figurative form. Comp. Amos 2:9; Malachi 4:1.
yea (even) though they bring forth] The prophet steps out of the language of metaphor, and repeats in effect Hosea 9:12 a. This defines the meaning of ‘bear no fruit’,Deuteronomy 31:4; Joshua 8:2; Isaiah 10:11. עשׂה means simply to do anything to one (Kran., Klief.). נכר אלוהּ עם, with the help of the strange god (עם of assistance, as in 1 Samuel 14:45), not: in the mind of the strange god (Kliefoth). מעזּים מבצרי, fortified, i.e., strong fortresses, are not the fortified walls and houses, but the inhabitants of the fortified cities. With these he does according to his will with the help of his god, i.e., of war, namely in this, that he rewards with honour and power only those who acknowledge him. הכּיר אשׁר, who acknowledges, sc. him, the king who made war his god. Hitzig has incorrectly interpreted: whom he acknowledges. The Keri יכּיר for the Kethiv הכּיר is an unnecessary emendation here, as in Isaiah 28:15 with עבּר. The verb הכּיר is chosen to reflect upon the word נכר. It means to recognise, properly to acknowledge him as what he is or wishes to be; cf. Deuteronomy 21:17. Such an one he shall increase with honour, confer upon him sovereignty over many, and divide the land. בּמחיר is not for payment, for recompense, as the contrast to חנּם (gratuitously) (Kran.). That is not a suitable rendering here. The word rather means pro praemio, as a reward (Maur., Klief.), as a reward for the recognition accorded to him. The Vulgate renders it rightly according to the sense, gratuito. In this most modern interpreters find a reference to the circumstance that Antiochus occupied the Jewish fortresses with heathen garrisons, and rewarded his adherents with places of honour and with possessions of land (2 Macc. 4:10, 24; 5:15). But this is what all conquerors do, and it was not peculiar to Antiochus, so that it could be mentioned as characteristic of him. The words contain the altogether common thought that the king will bestow honour, power, and possessions on those who acknowledge him and conduct themselves according to his will, and they accord with the character of Antichrist in a yet higher degree than with that of Antiochus.
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