Hosea 9:6
For, see, they are gone because of destruction: Egypt shall gather them up, Memphis shall bury them: the pleasant places for their silver, nettles shall possess them: thorns shall be in their tabernacles.
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(6) Translate, Behold if they have gone from the desolation (i.e., Palestine laid waste by the invader), Egypt shall gather them, Memphis bury them—Memphis, the vast city and necropolis of Ptah, where Apis and Ibis, kings and men, lay by thousands mummied, the religious shrine of Egyptian faith in the under-world, from which Israel had been emancipated at the Exodus.—There is a longing for their silver (i.e., they shall long for the silver left behind concealed in their desolate land.—The thistle shall possess them, the thorn shall be in their tents. Hosea prophesies an exile to Egypt after the anticipated invasion. That many exiles took refuge in Egypt in 721 B.C., after the great overthrow of the northern kingdom (as in the case of Judah in the days of Jeremiah), cannot admit of doubt. (Comp. Hosea 8:13 and Hosea 9:3 above; see Hosea 11:5, Note.)

9:1-6 Israel gave rewards to their idols, in the offerings presented to them. It is common for those who are niggardly in religion, to be prodigal upon their lusts. Those are reckoned as idolaters, who love a reward in the corn-floor better than a reward in the favour of God and in eternal life. They are full of the joy of harvest, and have no disposition to mourn for sin. When we make the world, and the things of it, our idol and our portion, it is just with God to show us our folly, and correct us. None may expect to dwell in the Lord's land, who will not be subject to the Lord's laws, or be influenced by his love. When we enjoy the means of grace, we ought to consider what we shall do, if they should be taken from us. While the pleasures of communion with God are out of the reach of change, the pleasant places purchased with silver, or in which men deposit silver, are liable to be laid in ruins. No famine is so dreadful as that of the soul.For lo, they are gone because of destruction - They had fled, for fear of destruction, to destruction. For fear of the destruction from Assyria, they were fled away and gone to Egypt, hoping, doubtless, to find there some temporary refuge, until the Assyrian invasion should have swept by. But, as befalls those who flee from God, they fell into more certain destruction.

Egypt shall gather them up, Memphis shall bury them - They had fled singly, in making their escape from the Assyrian. Egypt shall receive them, and shall gather them together, but only to one common burial, so that none should escape. So Jeremiah says, "They shall not be gathered nor buried" Jeremiah 8:2; and Ezekiel, "Thou shalt not be brought together, nor gathered" Ezekiel 29:5. "Memphis" is the Greek name for the Egyptian "Mamphta," whence the Hebrew "Moph" ; or "Manuph," whence the Hebrew "Noph" (Isaiah 19:13; Jeremiah 2:16; Jeremiah 44:1; Jeremiah 46:14; Ezekiel 30:13 ff). It was at this time the capital of Egypt, whose idols God threatens . Its name, "the dwelling of Phta," the Greek Vulcan, marked it, as a seat of idolatry; and in it was the celebrated court of Apis , the original of Jeroboam's calf. There in the home of the idol for whom they forsook their God, they should be gathered to burial. It was reputed to be the burial-place of Osiris, and hence, was a favorite burial-place of the Egyptians. It once embraced a circuit of almost 19 miles , with magnificent buildings; it declined after the building of Alexandria; its very ruins gradually perished, after Cairo rose in its neighborhood.

The pleasant places for their silver, nettles shall possess them - The English margin gives the same sense in different words; "their silver shall be desired; (as Obadiah saith, "his hidden treasures were searched out) nettles shall inherit them" Obadiah 1:6. In either way, it is a picture of utter desolation. The long rank grass or the nettle, waving amid man's habitations, looks all the sadder, as betokening that man once was there, and is gone. The desolate house looks like the grave of the departed. According to either rendering, the silver which they once had treasured, was gone. As they had "inherited" and "driven" out (the word is one) the nations, whose land God had given them, so now nettles and thorns should "inherit them." These should be the only tenants of their treasure-houses and their dwellings.

6. because of destruction—to escape from the devastation of their country.

Egypt shall gather them up—that is, into its sepulchres (Jer 8:2; Eze 29:5). Instead of returning to Palestine, they should die in Egypt.

Memphis—famed as a necropolis.

the pleasant places for their silver—that is, their desired treasuries for their money. Or, "whatever precious thing they have of silver" [Maurer].

nettles—the sign of desolation (Isa 34:13).

For, lo; mark it well, and observe the event.

They are gone because of destruction; some of the wary and timorous are already withdrawn from the desolation that cometh on their country, and more will flee from the Assyrian invader; and it is very near, and very uncertain, expressed therefore in the perfect tense.

Egypt shall gather them up; in Egypt they hope to be quiet, and survive these desolations, and to return into their own land; but they shall die in Egypt, and Egyptians shall lay them out, and prepare them to their grave. So this phrase, Jeremiah 8:2 Ezekiel 29:5.

Memphis, which elsewhere is called Noph, Isaiah 19:13, a very greatly traded city in those days, and at this day also known by the name which speaks its greatness, Grand Cairo.

Shall bury them: many of the ten tribes, fleeing their own wasted country, did no doubt remove so far as Memphis, partly for safety, that they might be out of the Assyrian’s reach, but more principally for convenience of a trade, that they might at least get a livelihood, if not grow rich on their trade; there many of these fugitives died; and perhaps by the pestilence (which is a disease that frequently sweeps that city) multitudes of them might be swept away into their graves in and about that city.

The pleasant places for their silver; their beautiful and strong houses built for keeping their wealth in.

Nettles shall possess them; they shall be ruined, and lie long in rubbish, till nettles grow up in them.

Thorns, or briers, or whatever (one kind for all) worthless and hurtful shrubs used to grow in perpetuated desolations, shall be in their tabernacles, in their dwellingplaces, their houses, which here retain the name of their ancient habitations when they dwelt in tents. For, lo, they are gone, because of destruction,.... That is, many of the people of Israel were gone out of their own land to others, particularly to Egypt, because of the destruction that was coming upon them, and to avoid it; because of the Assyrian army which invaded their land, and besieged Samaria, and threatened them with entire destruction; and upon which a famine ensued, and which is thought by Kimchi to be here particularly meant;

Egypt shall gather them up: being dead; for they shall die there, perhaps by the pestilence, and never return to their own country, as they flattered themselves; and they shall make preparations for their funeral:

Memphis shall bury them; or they shall be buried there; which was a principal city in Egypt, here called Moph, in Isaiah 19:13, Noph. It was the metropolis of upper Egypt, and the seat of the Egyptian kings. In it, as Plutarch says (t), was the sepulchre of Osiris; and some say its name so signifies. Near to it were the famous pyramids, as Strabo (u) says, supposed to be built for the sepulchre of them. Herodotus (w) places these pyramids at Memphis, and says there were three of them; the largest had several subterraneous chambers in it; the next in size had none; the smallest was covered with Ethiopic marble. Strabo, in the place referred to, speaks of many pyramids near it, of which three were very remarkable, and expressly says they were the burying places of the kings. Diodorus (x) agrees with these, as to the number of them, but places them fifteen miles from Memphis. Pliny (y) places them between Memphis and the Delta, six miles from Memphis; pretty near to which is Strabo's account, who in the above place says, they stood forty furlongs, or five miles, from the city. Near it was the lake of Charon or Acherusia, over which he ferried dead bodies from Memphis to the pyramids, or to the plains of the mummies, the Elysian fields. Now since this was so famous for the burying places of kings, there may be an allusion to it in this expression. Here also were buried their deities, the Apis or ox when it died;

the pleasant places for their silver, nettles shall possess them; such beautiful edifices as were made for the repositories or treasure houses for their silver; or were built or purchased at great expense of silver; or were decorated with it; now should lie in ruins, and be like a waste, desert, and desolate place, all overrun with nettles, and uninhabited:

briers shall be in their tabernacles; their dwelling houses, which being demolished, briers shall grow upon the ground where they stood, and overspread it; another token of desolation. The Targum interprets it of living creatures, beasts of prey, that should dwell there; wild cats particularly.

(t) De Iside & Osir. p. 359. (u) Geograph. l. 17. p. 555. (w) Euterpe, sive l. 2. c. 8. 126, 127. (x) Bibliothec. l. 1. p 57. (y) Nat. Hist. l. 36. c. 12.

For, lo, they are gone because of {g} destruction: Egypt shall gather them up, Memphis shall bury them: the pleasant places for their silver, nettles shall possess them: thorns shall be in their tabernacles.

(g) Even though they think to escape by fleeing the destruction that is at hand, yet they will be destroyed in the place where they flee for help.

6. Hosea ‘in the Spirit’ sees the Israelites already being carried into captivity.

because of destruction] Rather, from the devastation. They have left their desolated country.

shall gather them up] viz. in burial; comp. Ezekiel 29:5; Jeremiah 8:2; Jeremiah 25:33.

Memphis] The most ancient of the capitals of Egypt, on the west bank of the Nile, south of old Cairo, elsewhere called in the Hebrew Noph (Isaiah 19:13; Jeremiah 2:16), but here Moph. The Egyptian name, given to it by Menes, accounts for both forms—Men-nufre ‘the good’ or ‘perfect mansion’; the Assyrians called it Mimpi. All that is left of Memphis is its necropolis ‘stretching north and south nearly twenty miles’, where Hosea threateningly declares that the Israelites shall find a grave, remote, dishonoured, and ‘unclean.’ Contrast Exodus 14:11, where the Israelites reproach Moses with having deprived them of their right to sepulture in the vast cemeteries of Egypt.

the pleasant places for their silver] Rather, their precious things of silver, i.e. costly silver ornaments.

their tabernacles] i.e., either the idol-tents of the high places (comp. Ezekiel 16:16), or simply their dwellings (comp. 2 Samuel 20:1).Verse 6. - For, lo, they are gone because of destruction: Egypt shall gather them up, Memphis shall bury them. Their future exile was seen in prophetic vision; and in consequence and because of its certainty he speaks of it as having already taken place. The destruction is the desolation and wasting of their native land, because of which, or away from which and leaving it behind, they are gone. The land of their banishment was the land of their bondage. There, far from the land of their birth, they were doomed to die and to be gathered together for a common burial. Memphis was the ancient capital of Lower Egypt; its situation was on the western bank of the Nile, and south of Old Cairo. There its ruins are still seen, with extensive burial-grounds, while amid those ruins is the village of Mitrahenni. Kimchi identifies Moph with Noph. The pleasant places for their silver, nettles shall possess them: thorns shall be in their tabernacles. The literal rendering of the first clause is,

(1) their cherished delight of silver. By this some understand

(a) silver idols;

(b) others, valuables in silver;

(c) the Jewish commentators, the houses of the precious treasures of their silver - so Rashi; "Their precious buildings where their silver treasures were" - so Kimchi;

(d) Jerome understands their mansions and all the ornaments of their mansions purchased by silver; Keil also has, "houses ornamented and filled with the precious metals." This explanation is pretty generally accepted, and appears to us to deserve the preference. Their former homes, so pleasant and so richly decorated, were so utterly desolate and deserted that thorns and thistles overspread them. But

(2) the sentence is differently translated and explained by Rosenmüller and some others; thus: "Moph (Memphis) will bury them out of desire for their silver." This violent divulsion destroys the parallelism of the second hemistich, besides ignoring the athnach. The LXX., again

(3) puzzled by the word maehmad, mistook it for a proper name: "Therefore, behold, they go forth from the trouble of Egypt, and Hemphis shall receive them, and Machmas (Μάχμας) shall bury them." Giving a decided preference to

(1) (d), we have a thrilling picture of distress. First comes the destruction of their native city; having looked their last look on the ruins where once stood their home, they have set forth - a miserable band of pilgrims - to the land of the stranger, and that stranger their conqueror and oppressor; they have reached the place of exile, there to find, not a home, but a grave, and not a single grave for each, according to the Jews' mode of sepulture to the present day, but a common place of burial into which they are huddled together, Egypt gathering them and Memphis burying them; while in the land that gave them birth, their once happy homesteads, richly decorated and expensively adorned, are left utterly desolate - a heritage for thorns and thistles. In order that he might bring Egypt wholly under his power, he undertook a new expedition thither (וּבא ישׁוּב, he comes again). But this expedition, like the first, was not successful (כ־כ, as-so, cf. Joshua 14:11; Ezekiel 18:4). For the ships of Chittim come against him. כּתּים ציּים, ships the Chittaei, for כּתּים מיד צים, Numbers 24:24, whence the expression is derived כּתּים is Cyprus with its chief city Κίττιον (now Chieti or Chitti); see under Genesis 10:4. Ships coming from Cyprus are ships which come from the west, from the islands and coasts of the Mediterranean. In 1 Macc. 1:1 and 8:5 כּתּים is interpreted of Macedonia, according to which Bertholdt and Dereser think of the Macedonian fleet with which the Roman embassy sailed to Alexandria. This much is historically verified, that the Roman embassy, led by Popillius, appeared with a fleet in Alexandria, and imperiously commanded Antiochus to desist from his undertaking against Egypt and to return to his own land (Liv. xlv. 10-12). The lxx have therefore translated these words by: καὶ ἥξουσι ̔Ρηωμαῖοι καὶ ἐχώσουσιν αὐτὸν καὶ ἐμβριμήσονται αὐτῷ, and correctly, so far as the prophecy has received the first historical accomplishment in that factum. ונכאה, he shall lose courage, is rightly explained by Jerome: non quod interierit, sed quod omnem arrogantiae perdiderit magnitudinem.

(Note: The historical facts have been briefly and conclusively brought together by Hitzig thus: "On the complaint of the Alexandrians the Roman senate sent an embassage, at the head of which was C. Popillius Laenas (Polyb. xxix. 1; Liv. xliv. 19). After being detained at Delos (Liv. xliv. 29), they set sail to Egypt after the battle at Pydna (Liv. xlv. 10). Here he met Antiochus four Roman miles from Alexandria, and presented to him the message of the senate. When Antiochus explained that he wished to lay the matter before his counsellors, Popillius described with the staff he carried on his hand a circle round the king, and commanded him to give his answer before he left this circle. Antiochus, confounded by the circumstance, submitted and withdrew from Egypt (Liv. xlv. 12; Polyb. xxix. 11; Appian, Syr. c. 66; Justin. xxxiv. 3).")

וזעם ושׁב, not: he was again enraged, for nothing is said of a previous זעם. ושׁב, and he turned round (back) from his expedition against Egypt. Since he was not able to accomplish anything against the נגב (the south), he turns his indignation against Judah to destroy the covenant people (cf. Daniel 11:28). The ושׁב in Daniel 11:30 resumes the ושׁב in Daniel 11:30, so as further to express how he gave vent to his anger. Hitzig's interpretation of the first ושׁב of the return to Palestine, of the second, of the return from Palestine to Antiochus, is not justified. ויבן, he shall observe, direct his attention to the Jews who forsook the holy covenant, i.e., the apostate Jews, that he might by their help execute his plans against the Mosaic religion - partim ornando illos honoribus, partim illorum studiis ad patriam religionem obliterandam comparatis obsecundando, as C. B. Michaelis excellently remarks; cf. 1 Macc. 1:11-16 with 2:18.

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