Hosea 9:7
The days of visitation are come, the days of recompence are come; Israel shall know it: the prophet is a fool, the spiritual man is mad, for the multitude of thine iniquity, and the great hatred.
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(7) The latter part of the verse should be translated Crazed is the prophet, mad the inspired one, because of the multitude of thy iniquity, while persecution is increased. The prophet is crazed either in the depraved public opinion that Hosea scornfully describes, or, he is driven mad, distracted, by the persecutions to which he is subjected. The latter is more probable. (Comp. the following verse.) Other commentators, including Maurer and Hitzig (preceded by Jerome and many Jewish as well as Christian expositors) take the words for prophet in this verse as signifying “false prophet,” and would connect the clauses thus:—“Israel shall recognise that the prophet (who prophesied good to them) is a fool, the inspired one a madman, because of,” &c. But it is doubtful whether the Hebrew for “inspired one” (îsh harûach) can bear this unfavourable sense, with the definite article affixed (comp. 1Kings 22:21, Heb.); so Nowack. The passage is very difficult, and no decisive superiority can be claimed for any rendering yet proposed.

Hosea 9:7. The days of visitation are come — The days of punishment, or retribution, are at hand. This resembles the well-known line of Virgil: —

Venit summa dies et ineluctabile tempus Dardaniæ. — — — ÆN. lib. 2. 50:324.

The fatal day, th’ appointed hour is come, The time of Troy’s irrevocable doom.

Israel shall know it — The Hebrew is only, Israel shall know, namely, that I have spoken the truth; that is, in denouncing misery and calamity against them, as the Chaldee supplies the ellipsis. God’s judgments upon the ten tribes shall be so evident, that the most incredulous shall not be able to deny it. Others interpret this clause in connection with the following words, thus: Israel shall know that the prophet was foolish, that the man of the spirit was mad, namely, who encouraged the Israelites to continue in their sins, by promising them peace and prosperity notwithstanding their corrupt manners. Bishop Horsley’s translation of the passage is peculiarly spirited and sublime: The days of visitation are come! The days of retribution are come! Israel shall know it. Stupid is the prophet! The man of the spirit is gone mad! “Stupid,” he remarks, “if he himself discerneth not the signs of the times. Gone mad, if, aware of the impending judgment, he flatters the people with delusive hopes; and by that conduct makes himself an instrument in bringing on that public ruin, in which he himself must be involved.” For the multitude of thine iniquity, and the great hatred — Namely, which thou deservest. Or probably the sense is, as Bishop Horsley’s version gives it, In proportion to the greatness of thine iniquity, great also is the vengeance.

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.The days of visitation are come - The false prophets had continually hood-winked the people, promising them that those days would never come. "They had put far away the evil day" Amos 6:3. Now it was not at hand only. In God's purpose, those "days" were "come," irresistible, inevitable, inextricable; days in which God would visit, what in His long-suffering, He seemed to overlook, and would "recompense each according to his works."

Israel shall know it - Israel would not know by believing it; now it should "know," by feeling it.

The prophet is a fool, the spiritual man is mad - The true prophet gives to the false the title which they claimed for themselves, "the prophet" and "the man of the spirit." Only the event showed what spirit was in them, not the spirit of God but a lying spirit. The people of the world called the true prophets, "mad," literally, maddened, "driven mad," , as Festus thought of Paul; "Thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad" Acts 26:24. Jehu's captains called by the same name the young prophet whom Elisha sent to anoint him. "Wherefore came this mad fellow unto thee?" 2 Kings 9:11. Shemaiah, the false prophet, who deposed God's priest, set false priests to "be officers in the house of the Lord," to have an oversight as to "every man who is mad and maketh himself a prophet," calling Jeremiah both a false prophet and a "madman" (Jeremiah 29:25-26. The word is the same).

The event was the test. Of our Lord Himself, the Jews blaspbemed, "He hath a devil and is mad" John 10:20. And long afterward, "madness," "phrensy" were among the names which the pagan gave to the faith in Christ . As Paul says, that "Christ crucified" was "to the Greeks" and to "them that perish, foolishness," and that the "things of the Spirit of God, are foolishness to the natural man, neither can he know" them, "because they are spiritually discerned" 1 Corinthians 1:18, 1 Corinthians 1:23; 1 Corinthians 2:14. The man of the world and the Christian judge of the same things by clean contrary rules, use them for quite contrary ends. The slave of pleasure counts him mad, who foregoes it; the wealthy trader counts him mad, who gives away profusely. In these days, profusion for the love of Christ has been counted a ground for depriving a man of the care of his property. One or the other is mad. And worldlings must count the Christian mad; else they must own themselves to be so most fearfully. In the Day of Judgment, Wisdom says, "They, repenting and groaning for anguish of spirit, shall say within themselves, This was he whom we had sometimes in derision and a proverb of reproach. We fools counted his life madness, and his end to be without honor. How is he numbered among the children of God, and his lot is among the saints!" (Wisd. 5:3-6).

For the multitude of thine iniquity and the great hatred - The words stand at the close of the verse, as the reason of all which had gone before. Their "manifold iniquity" and their "great hatred" of God were the ground why the "days of visitation" and "recompense" should "come." They were the ground also, why God allowed such prophets to delude them. The words, "the great hatred," stand quite undefined, so that they may signify alike the hatred of Ephraim against God and good people and His true prophets, or God's hatred of them. Yet it, most likely, means, "their" great hatred, since of them the prophet uses it again in the next verse. The sinner first neglects God; then, as the will of God is brought before him, he willfully disobeys Him; then, when, he finds God's will irreconcilably at variance with his own, or when God chastens him, he hates Him, and (the prophet speaks out plainly) "hates" Him "greatly."

7. visitation—vengeance: punishment (Isa 10:3).

Israel shall know it—to her cost experimentally (Isa 9:9).

the prophet is a fool—The false prophet who foretold prosperity to the nation shall be convicted of folly by the event.

the spiritual man—the man pretending to inspiration (La 2:14; Eze 13:3; Mic 3:11; Zep 3:4).

for the multitude of thine iniquity, &c.—Connect these words with, "the days of visitation … are come"; "the prophet … is mad," being parenthetical.

the great hatred—or, "the great provocation" [Henderson]; or, "(thy) great apostasy" [Maurer]. English Version means Israel's "hatred" of God's prophets and the law.

The days of visitation are come, the days of recompence are come: the prophet doubleth the same thing, both to confirm the certainty of it, and to awaken the stupid Israelites: the days of God’s just displeasure, in which he will punish, and render to these incorrigible idolaters and abominable debauchees as their wickedness deserveth, are come, they are very near, within four years at most.

Israel shall know it; Israel will not believe it, though God hath often told them of it, but when it is come, and they feel it, they shall then know indeed, as fools know when they smart for their folly.

The prophet is a fool; their false prophets were all, to a man of them, fools and rash, judging by present greatness or alliances of Israel, not observing what were their sins and God’s wrath. Now when Hosea preached what was contained in this 9th chapter, Israel had made a league with So king of Egypt, cast off the Assyrian, and not sought to God, but vainly trusted to the Egyptian succours; now any wise man might imagine that likely which the prophet Hosea did foretell as certain, that the Assyrian with all his power would fall upon the revolters; none but fools would promise such a people a time of safety when the war was falling upon their heads.

The spiritual man, that pretends to be full of the Spirit of prophecy, and foretells good to them, whom we thought a true prophet; but. now find by sad experience that we believed a madman, one much out of his wits; yet were we more, to believe what he promised.

For the multitude of thine iniquity: God was highly displeased with the multitude of their iniquities, and began his punishments in giving them over to believe the lies of their false prophets, and to expect what peace these prophets did promise.

And the great hatred which God had against your sins and ways: you would walk in ways which God hated, yet would have prophets to foretell peace and plenty; such you have had as described Micah 2:11, and you believed them; and God, out of his just dislike, suffered this to be, left you to your choice.

The days of visitation are come, the days of recompense are come,.... In which the Lord would punish the people of Israel for their sins, and reward them in a righteous manner, according as their evil works deserved; which time, being fixed and appointed by him, are called "days"; and these, because near at hand, are said to be "come"; and this is repeated for the certainty of it:

Israel shall know it; by sad experience, that these days are come; and shall acknowledge the truth of the divine predictions, and the righteousness of God in his judgments. Schultens (z), from the use of the phrase in the Arabic language, interprets it of Israel's suffering punishment; with which agrees the Septuagint version, "Israel shall be afflicted", or it shall go ill with him; and to the same purpose the Arabic version:

the prophet is a fool; so Israel said, before those days came, of a true prophet of the Lord, that he was a fool for prophesying of evil things, but now they shall find it otherwise. So the Targum,

"they of the house of Israel shall know that they who had prophesied to them were true prophets;''

but rather this is to be understood of false prophets, who, when the day of God's visitation shall come on Israel in a way of wrath and vengeance, will appear both to themselves and others to be fools, for prophesying good things to them, when evil was at hand:

the spiritual man is mad; he that was truly so, and prophesied under the inspiration of the Spirit of God, was accounted a madman for speaking against the idolatry of the times, and foretelling the judgments of God that would come upon the nation for it; but now it would be manifest, that not he, but such who pretended to be spiritual men, and to be directed and dictated by the Spirit of God, when they promised the people peace, though they walked after the imagination of their hearts, were the real madmen; who pursued the frenzies and fancies of their own minds, to the deception of themselves and the people, and called these the revelations of God, and pretended they came from the Spirit of God:

for the multitude of thine iniquities, and the great hatred; that is, either those evil days came upon them for their manifold sins and transgressions, which were hateful to God, and the cause of his hatred of them; or they were suffered to give heed to those foolish and mad prophets, because of their many sins, especially idolatry; and because of their great hatred of God, and of his true prophets, and of his laws and ordinances, of his word, will, and worship, and of one another, God gave them up to a reprobate mind, to a judicial blindness and hardness of heart, to believe a lie, and whatsoever those false prophets declared unto them, because they did not like to retain him in their knowledge, to walk according to his law, and to believe his prophets. The Targum is,

"but the false prophets besotted them, so as to increase thy transgression, and strengthen thine iniquities.''

(z) Animadv. Philol. in Job, p. 78.

The days of visitation are come, the days of recompence are come; Israel shall know it: {h} the prophet is a fool, the spiritual man is mad, for the multitude of thine iniquity, and the great hatred.

(h) Then they will know that they were deluded by those who claimed themselves to be their prophets and spiritual men.

7. are come] Rather, come. The sense is that the days of punishment shall surely come (the tense is the prophetic perfect).

shall know it] i.e. by experience; as Isaiah 9:9. Another view of these words (in connexion with the following clause) is, ‘Israel shall perceive (but too late) how it has been deceived by its prophets.’ But a false prophet would never be called a ‘man of the spirit’, but rather ‘one that followeth his own spirit’ (Ezekiel 13:3); and neither ‘a fool’ nor ‘mad’ suggests the idea of falsehood or hypocrisy.

the prophet is a fool, the spiritual man is mad] These words evidently convey a reproach, for though ‘mad’ might be taken in a good sense (= frenzied with sorrow, as Deuteronomy 28:34), ‘a fool’ could hardly be. But if so, introductory words must have dropped out of the text, such as ‘who say in their pride.’ ‘The spiritual man’ is, literally, ‘the man of the Spirit’, i.e. ‘the inspired man’, Sept. ἄνθρωπος ὁ πνευματοφόρος. ‘Mad’, or ‘a madman’, ‘a fanatic’, is a term applied disparagingly to a prophet’s disciple in 2 Kings 9:11, and to Jeremiah by an opponent in Jeremiah 29:26. The expression was doubtless received from those early times, in which the acts performed by prophets were often strange and startling.

for the multitude …] Rather, for the greatness of thine Iniquity, and because the enmity hath been great. These words are to be connected with the preceding. Israel spoke thus because its iniquity was great, and great also the enmity which certain classes (probably) felt towards the higher prophets. The priests and the lower class of prophets would be at one in their hostility to Hosea. More is said of this feud in the next verse.

Verses 7-9. - These verses describe the season and source of punishment. The days of visitation are come, the days of recompense are come. Commentators have appropriately compared the Vergilian "Venit summa dies, et irreluctabile tempus," equivalent to" The final day and inevitable hour is come." Israel shall know (it): the prophet is a fool, the spiritual man is mad. Here the prophet and the man of the spirit (margin) are

(1) the false prophets which pretended to inspiration, and flattered the people with false hopes and vain promises of safety and prosperity; and thus helped to confirm them in their sinful courses. The object of Israel's knowledge, though not introduced by ki, is the folly of such false prophets, and the madness of such pretenders to prophetic inspiration. That ish ruach may be used of a false prophet as well as of a true one is proved from ish holekh ruach, a man walking in the spirit, applied by Micah 2:11 to one of these pretenders: "If a man walking in the spirit and falsehood do lie, saying, I will prophesy unto thee of wine and of strong drink; he shall even be the prophet of this people." Israel is doomed to know by bitter experience the folly and madness of those prophets who deceived and duped the people by lies soon detected, and their own folly and madness in giving ear to the delusive prospects they held forth. This explanation agrees with Kimchi's comment: "Then shall they confess, and say to the prophets of lies, who had led them astray, and had said to them, Peace (in time of greatest peril) - then shall they say unto them, A fool the prophet, a madman the man of spirit." The predicate precedes the subject for emphasis, and the article prefixed to the subject exhausts the class of those false prophets.

(2) Aben Ezra, Ewald, and many others understand the prophet and spiritual man to mean true prophets, which the people called fools and madmen, and treated is such, contemning and persecuting them. Thus Aben Ezra: "The days of recompense are come to you from God, who will recompense you who said to the prophet of God, He is a fool, and to the man in whom the spirit of God was, He is mad." The word meshuggah is properly the participle Paul used as a substantive, and kindred in meaning to μάντις of the Greek, from μαίνομαι, to be frenzied. In confirmation of

(1) setup. Ezekiel 13:10 and Jeremiah 28:15; and in favor of

(2) 2 Kings 9:11.

(3) The Septuagint has καὶ κακωθήσεται, equivalent to "And shall be afflicted," taking, according to Jerome, yod for ray, and daleth for resh; while Jerome himself translates scitote, as if reading דְעוּ. For the multitude of thine iniquity, and the great hatred. The source of all was sin. The visitation threatened, which was retributive - a recompense - was for the greatness of their iniquity. The last clause is thus dependent on and closely connected with the first, עַל ruling the construction first as a preposition, then as a conjunction: "And because the enmity is great." Ewald says, "If the first member states a reason (e.g. by using the preposition על, on account of, because of, and the following infinitive), the meaning requires that, whenever a finite verb follows, the conjunction 'because' shall be employed in forming the continuation." The hatred was

(a) that of Israel against their fellow-men, and their God or his prophetic messengers; though others

(b) understand it of the hatred of God against transgressors who had provoked his just indignation. The first exposition (a) suits the context, and is supported by the following verse. The watchman of Ephraim was with my God. This rendering is manifestly inaccurate, as the first noun is in the absolute, not in the construct state; the right rendering, therefore, is either, "A watchman is Ephraim with my God;" or, "The watchman, O Ephraim, is with my God."

(1) If we adopt Aben Ezra's explanation of the prophet and spiritual man as true prophets whom the people jeeringly and scornfully called fools, fanatics, and madmen, the meaning of this clause of the next verse presents little difficulty. The prophet makes common cause with these divided prophets: his God was their God, and, however men treated them, they were under Divine protection. The sense of the ira, with, in this case is well given by Pusey as follows: "The true prophet was at all times frith God. He was with God, as holden by God, watching or looking out and on into the future by the help of God. He was with God, as walking with God in a constant sense of his presence, and in continual communion with him. He was with God, as associated by God with himself in teaching, warning, correcting, exhorting his people, as the apostle says, We then are workers together with him. In the next clause the false prophet is described by way of contrast as a snare.

(2) The word צופֶה is properly a participle, and Ephraim is thus exhibited by the prophet as on the outlook,

(a) not for counsel and help beside or apart from God, as Gesenius understands it; but

(b) as on the outlook for revelations and prophecies along with my God; i.e. Ephraim, not satisfied with the genuine prophets, had prophets of his own, which spake to the people according to their wish. This exposition is in the main supported by Rashi and Kimchi: the former says, "They appoint for themselves prophets of their own;" and Kimchi more fully thus, "Ephraim has appointed for himself a watchman (or seer) at the side of his God; and he is the false prophet who speaks his prophecy in the name of his God." (But) the prophet is a snare of a fowler in (over) all his ways, and hatred in the house of his God. Whether we adopt

(1) or

(2) as the explanation of the first clause, we may understand the prophet of this clause as

(1) the false prophet who - by way of contrast if we accept

(1), or by way of continuation if we prefer

(2) - is like the snare of a bird-catcher over all the people's path, to entangle, entrap, and draw them into destruction

(a) He is, moreover, inspired with hostility - a man of rancorous spirit against God and his true prophets. "This prophet of lies," says Aben Ezra, "is a snare of the bird-catcher." Similarly Kimchi says in his exposition, "This prophet is for Ephraim on all his ways as the snare of the bird-catcher that catcheth the fowls; so they catch Ephraim in the words of their prophets."

(2) Some understand "prophet" in the middle clause of the verse as the true prophet, and the snare as the hostility and traps which the people prepared for the messengers of God; so Rashi: "For the true prophets they lay snares to catch them." According to this exposition we must render, "As for the prophet, the snare of the bird-catcher is over all his ways."

(b) In the last clause, "house of his God," may mean the temple of the true God, or the idol-temple; thus Aben Ezra: "Enmity is in the house of his god;" while Kimchi thinks either sense admissible: "We may understand ביה אי of the house of the calves, which were his god, and the false prophet acted there as prophet, and caused enmity between himself and God; or we may explain it of the house of the true God, that is, the house of the sanctuary." Thus the hostility may refer to the prophet himself, of which he is the subject as (a) or the object according to Kimchi just cited, or the detestable idol-worship, or perhaps the Divine displeasure against the false prophet and the people led astray by him. They have deeply corrupted themselves, as in the days of Gibeah. The historical event here alluded to was the abominable and infamous treatment of the Levite's concubine by the men of Gibeah. This was the foulest blot on Israel's history during all the rule of the judges. For the loathsome particulars, Judges 19. may be consulted. The construction is peculiar. The two verbs הי שׁי are coordinated appositionally; "The leading verb, which in meaning is the leading one, is subordinated more palpably by being placed alongside of the preceding verb without a joining and" (Ewald). The former verb is often constructed with an infinitive, and sometimes with a noun. Some trace the reference, as already stated,

(1) to the enormity of the men of Gibeah in relation to the Levite's concubine; others to the election of Saul, who was of Gibeah, to be king. Rashi mentions both: "Some say it was Gibeah of Benjamin in the matter of the concubine; but others say it was Gibeah of Saul, when they demanded for themselves a king and rebelled against the words of the prophet." Therefore he will remember their iniquity, he will visit their sins. The sin of Gibeah was fearfully avenged; its punishment re-suited in almost the total extinction of a tribe in Israel - that of Benjamin. And as Israel had paralleled that of the men of Gibeah, he gives them to understand first implicitly that like punishment would overtake them, then he explicitly denounces visitation for their iniquity and retribution for their sin. The clause thus closes, as it commenced, with the sad note of coming calamity. Hosea 9:7"The days of visitation are come, the days of retribution are come; Israel will learn: a fool the prophet, a madman the man of spirit, for the greatness of thy guilt, and the great enmity. Hosea 9:8. A spy is Ephraim with my God: the prophet a snare of the bird-catcher in all his ways, enmity in the house of his God. Hosea 9:9. They have acted most corruptly, as in the days of Gibeah: He remembers their iniquity, visits their sins." The perfects in Hosea 9:7 are prophetic. The time of visitation and retribution is approaching. Then will Israel learn that its prophets, who only predicted prosperity and good (Ezekiel 13:10), were infatuated fools. אויל וגו introduces, without kı̄, what Israel will experience, as in Hosea 7:2; Amos 5:12. It does not follow, from the use of the expression 'ı̄sh rūăch, that the reference is to true prophets. 'Ish rūăch (a man of spirit) is synonymous with the 'ı̄sh hōlēkh rūăch (a man walking in the spirit) mentioned in Micah 2:11 as prophesying lies, and may be explained from the fact, that even the false prophets stood under the influence of a superior demoniacal power, and were inspired by a rūăch sheqer ("a lying spirit," 1 Kings 22:22). The words which follow, viz., "a fool is the prophet," etc., which cannot possibly mean, that men have treated, despised, and persecuted the prophets as fools and madmen, are a decisive proof that the expression does not refer to true prophets. על רב עונך is attached to the principal clauses, השּׁלּם ... בּאוּ. The punishment and retribution occur because of the greatness of the guilt of Israel. In ורבּה the preposition על continues in force, but as a conjunction: "and because the enmity is great" (cf. Ewald, 351, a). Mastēmâh, enmity, not merely against their fellow-men generally, but principally against God and His servants the true prophets. This is sustained by facts in Hosea 9:8. The first clause, which is a difficult one and has been interpreted in very different ways, "spying is Ephraim עם אלהי" (with or by my God), cannot contain the thought that Ephraim, the tribe, is, according to its true vocation, a watchman for the rest of the people, whose duty it is to stand with the Lord upon the watch-tower and warn Israel when the Lord threatens punishment and judgment (Jerome, Schmidt); for the idea of a prophet standing with Jehovah upon a watch-tower is not only quite foreign to the Old Testament, but irreconcilable with the relation in which the prophets stood to Jehovah. The Lord did indeed appoint prophets as watchmen to His people (Ezekiel 3:17); but He does take His own stand upon the watch-tower with them. Tsâphâh in this connection, where prophets are spoken of both before and after, can only denote the eager watching on the part of the prophets for divine revelations, as in Habakkuk 2:1, and not their looking out for help; and עם אלהי cannot express their fellowship or agreement with God, if only on account of the suffix "my God," in which Hosea contrasts the true God as His own, with the God of the people. The thought indicated would require אלהיו, a reading which is indeed met with in some codices, but is only a worthless conjecture. עם denotes outward fellowship here: "with" equals by the side of. Israel looks out for prophecies or divine revelations with the God of the prophet, i.e., at the side of Jehovah; in other words, it does not follow or trust its own prophets, who are not inspired by Jehovah. These are like snares of a bird-catcher in its road, i.e., they cast the people headlong into destruction. נביא stands at the head, both collectively and absolutely. In all its ways there is the trap of the bird-catcher: i.e., all its projects and all that it does will only tend to ensnare the people. Hostility to Jehovah and His servants the true prophets, is in the house of the God of the Israelites, i.e., in the temple erected for the calf-worship; a fact of which Amos (Amos 7:10-17) furnishes a practical example. Israel has thereby fallen as deeply into abomination and sins as in the days of Gibeah, i.e., as at the time when the abominable conduct of the men of Gibeah in connection with the concubine of a Levite took place, as related in Judges 19ff., in consequence of which the tribe of Benjamin was almost exterminated. The same depravity on the part of Israel will be equally punished by the Lord now (cf. Hosea 8:13).
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