Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
2. Chiefly against the Court
1 When I would heal Israel,
Then the iniquity of Ephraim is made manifest,
And the evil deeds of Samaria.
For they have worked deceit, and the thief enters (the houses).
A band of robbers plunders in the street.
2 And they will not say to their heart,
(That) I have remembered all their wickedness;
Now their deeds have beset them round;
They are before my face.
3 By their wickedness they have pleased the king,
And by their falsehood the princes.
4 All of them (are) adulterers,
(They are) like an oven heated1by the baker,
Who rests, stirring up (the fire),
From the kneading of the dough, until it is raised.
5 On the (feast-) day of our king,
The princes begin in the heat2 of wine
He draws out his hand [goes hand in hand] with scorners.
6 For they draw close together; like the oven is
Their heart in its craftiness;
Their anger3 sleeps the whole night,
In the morning it burns like a flame of flre.
7 All of them are heated like the oven,
And devour their judges,
All their kings have fallen,
And there is none among them that cries to me.
8 Ephraim mingles with the heathen,
Ephraim has become a cake not turned.
9 Strangers devour his strength,
Yet he does not know it.
Gray hairs are also sprinkled over him,
And he does not know it.
10 And the pride of Israel testifies to his face;
Yet they do not return to Jehovah their God,
And do not seek Him with [in spite of] all this.
11 And Ephraim became a silly dove, without understanding.
To Egypt they called:
To Assyria they went.
12 As they are going
I will spread over them my net;
As a bird of heaven I will bring them down.
I will chastise them,4 according to the announcement to their congregation.
13 Woe to them that they have wandered from me!
Destruction upon them, that they have sinned against me!
For I would have redeemed them5
But they spoke lies against me.
14 They did not cry to me with their heart,
For they shrieked upon their beds;
For corn and new wine they distress themselves;6
They apostatized from me.
15 And I instructed (them),
I strengthened their arm;
But they devised evil against me.
16 They will not return upwards7 [to God],
They have become like a deceitful bow.
Their princes will fall by the sword,
On account of the rage of their tongues:
This7 (will be) their scorn in the land of Egypt.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Hosea 7:1, 2. When I would heal Israel, etc. It was just when God attempted to heal them that their corruption was displayed in its full extent. If it had not been so great the attempt would not have been vain. The latter consisted in the chastisements themselves, but also in the discourses of the Prophet calling them to repentance. Now follows a description of their dreadful condition: lying, theft, and robbery. In the midst of it all, the greatest security, not a single thought of divine punishment. Their deeds have beset them round. This expresses evidently the boldness of their sinning=their sins have so increased as to become mountains hedging them round.
Hosea 7:3. The situation is the more desperate as the corruption extends to the highest ranks.
Hosea 7:4. They are all adulterers. The whole people are such, not merely the king and princes, though these are necessarily included. The adultery in this connection (comp. Hosea 7:2: lying, thieving, and robbery, and Hosea 7:5: debauchery) is to be taken in its literal sense. The comparison of the adulterer to a burning oven is here decisive; which does not suit adultery in the figurative application=idolatry, but expresses well the burning of lust. בֹּעֵרָה מֵאֹפֶה, literally: burning from the baker=heated by the baker. This burning of the oven is further described still more closely and figuratively, and that with relation to the increase of the heat, in the following words: יִשׁבֹּת וג׳. Wünsche: Who rests, stirring up, from the kneading of the dough until it is leavened, i. e., when he has kneaded the dough, he rests, namely from kneading, which is the most fatiguing part of the whole process of bread-baking, but then does something else, which compared with the other is resting, namely, heats the stove and stirs it up from the time the dough is kneaded until it is raised. During this time while the process of fermentation is going on, the stove is being heated so as to become quite hot, i.e., hot enough for baking. The Part. therefore is not used for the Inf. depending on ישפת=who ceases to stir up. It would be strange if emphasis were to be laid upon ceasing, leaving off, when the object is to show that the heat increases. And Wünsche remarks rightly that it would be out of place to heat the oven before the dough was kneaded, and then to cease heating it, but that the contrary process is the one followed. [Henderson takes מעיר in the sense of heating, as also does Gesenius. His application is as follows: “To place the violent and incontinent character of their lust in the strongest light, the Prophet compares it to a baker’s oven which he raises to such a degree of heat that he only requires to omit feeding it during the short period of the fermentation of the bread. Such was the libidinous character of the Israelites that their impure indulgences were subject to but slight interruptions.” But it is evident that the Prophet did not intend to call attention to any interruption of indulgence (and if he had the mode of conveying that notion would not have been very natural), but to emphasize its constant commission. Horsley takes מעיר in the sense of stoker, one who attends to the fire, and makes it the subject of ישׁפת: “the stoker desists after the kneading of the dough until the fermentation be complete.” He then gives a most fanciful application to the act of indulgence. For a sufficient explanation of the images see the Doctrinal and Ethical section, No. 1.—M.]
Hosea 7:5. But they are not only adulterers; they are also drunkards. They are heated with wine as well as with lust. The rulers here lead the way by their example. In the day of our king = festal day, probably birth-day. A banquet is referred to, given by the king to his nobles. By the phrase, our king, Hosea indicates his citizenship in the kingdom of Israel.
הֶחֱלוּ: the LXX., Syr., Chald., and Jerome: they began. Others: they are diseased. But the Hiphil does not mean: to be sick—מָשַׁךְ וג׳. The king is the subject; literally: draws out [stretches out] his hand with. This means: he holds out his hand constantly to them=keeps company, goes hand in hand with them. Scorners, men who throw ridicule upon what is sacred, and is regarded as sacred. Such derision is specially natural in a state of intoxication. Hence the connection in which it stands here with the drinking-bout, a connection which is certainly not fortuitous.
Hosea 7:6. The figure of the heated oven is again taken up. But it becomes here an image of the heat of anger which burns in their hearts, which, being craftily concealed, does not at first make itself manifest, but which grows only the more surely, and at last breaks out in deeds of violence. (Just so is it in Hosea 7:4 with the heat of the bake oven.) The notion is evidently this, that the cordiality of the princes towards the king in the banquet is only apparent, only the result of cunning. It ends with an insurrection, with the murder of the king, who has certainly richly deserved such a lot.—קֵ־ְבוּ וג׳. This is a difficult expression Some: they have made their heart approach (resemble) an oven. But this is languid. Would any one say, in giving an illustration, that the object was only “approximately” like the image ? Besides, כְּ with תַּנּוּר would be superfluous. Keil: they have brought their heart into their craftiness as into an oven. The cunning is compared with the oven; the heart with the fuel. This clearly gives a plain sense. It would be perhaps more correct to detach קרבו from what follows as forming a clause by itself. Simson: they (the conspirators) approach. Wünsche, perhaps better: they draw close together, namely, in the banquet, at all events, as conspirators. The following words then mean simply: like an oven is their heart in their malice. Thus the malicious heart is like an oven which only waits for the kindling of a fire.—כָל־הַלַּיְלָה וג׳; according to the Masoretic punctation: the whole night sleeps their baker. Baker would then =he who heats the oven, i.e., their heart inflames them. By the baker might be understood passion (Ewald, Keil). This would rather be compared to the fire. “The baker sleeps” would then be explained as meaning that the baker after kindling the fire, cared no more about it. But it would not be exactly suitable to conceive of “passion” as sleeping, that is, not stirring up the fire. Simson refers “baker” to a person, the leader of the conspiracy. But the following member of the verse creates most difficulty. היּא introduces another subject, the oven. It is therefore naturally suggested (Wünsche) to change the pointing into אַפֵקֻם, =their anger. This is represented as fire, and this sleeps in the night, i.e., it burns on, unperceived, during the whole night, until in the morning it becomes a clearly burning flame. So with their anger. “Night” and “morning” allude primarily to the figure of the fire, but probably also to the thing represented itself, especially if it be supposed that at the end of the feast, which has lasted the whole night, the anger breaks forth in the morning in violent acts, which are more particularly described in
Hosea 7:7. All of them, probably not merely the princes, but the whole people, together with the princes, who gave the impulse to the rest. They devour their judges, i.e., the kings. The following clause: all their kings fall, does not add anything new, but only expresses what is meant by the judges. This applies, to the period, succeeding that of Jeroboam II., when in swift succession Zachariah was overthrown by Shallum, Shallum by Menahem, and Menahem’s son Pekahiah by Pekah, and between Zachariah and Shallum eleven years anarchy prevailed. The Prophet alludes here to such events, certainly to a number of such events (perhaps also to earlier revolutions in the succession), as the plural, judges, kings, plainly shows. Yet the particular description in Hosea 7:5, 6, suggest the conjecture that the Prophet had in mind a special case, and then in Hosea 7:7 gives a general view. And there is none amongst them who calls upon me. The reference probably is to the kings. The sentence thus indicates briefly but strikingly the complete estrangement from God, the deplorable situation of these kings. Keil supposes the whole nation to be referred to: no one is brought to reflection in the midst of these mournful circumstances, that he should return to the Lord.
Hosea 7:8. Ephraim mingles itself up with the nations. This refers certainly not to the invasion of the Israelitish possessions by the heathen, nor merely to alliances with them (Hosea 7:11), but in addition to something more profound, it supposes that through idolatry heathen practices were followed. Com. Ps. 105:35, 36, 39, “which passage furnishes a commentary upon ours” (Wünsche). A cake not turned, and therefore burnt on one side (while it is not baked at all on the other). The idea is plain. [On the preceding sentence, Henderson: “In Ps. 105:35 a similar expression is used of promiscuous intercourse with idolaters. That such intercourse generally, and not specifically the entering into leagues with them, is meant, appears from the following clause, in which, to express the worthlessness of the Ephraimitish character, the people are compared to a cake, which, from not having been turned, is burnt and good for nothing. … Such was the state of the apostate Israelites; they had corrupted themselves and were fit only for rejection.”—M.]
Hosea 7:9. Their being burnt declared figuratively that strangers devoured their strength. This is not merely an outward devastation by war, but an inner consumption by the inroads of heathen practices. Indications of old age also are apparent in Israel as tokens of speedy decay.
Hosea 7:10. See Hosea 5:5.
Hosea 7:11. A consequence of impenitence. Israel is like a simple dove, which, not observing the snare set for her, is caught in it (Hosea 7:12). They called out to Egypt; they went to Assyria. As syria threatened Israel. The latter then turned immediately to Egypt, to obtain help against Assyria, and partly sought to gain the favor of Assyria (Hosea 8:9). And after all they fell into the net of Assyria.
Hosea 7:12. It is the Lord who inveigles them into destruction. According to the announcement to their congregation = according to the oft-repeated threatening against the people (comp. in the Law, Lev.26:14 ff.; Deut. 28:15 ff.).
Hosea 7:13. They spoke lies conerning me, namely, that I would not help them. And they, in effect, lie when they do not call out for help.
Hosea 7:14. And they did not cry out to me with their heart, even if they did cry with the mouth. Their cry was one of unbelieving despair. יִרְגּוֹרָרוּ, according to Fürst, to distress themselves, parallel to יְיֵלִילוּ. Others: assemble themselves in crowds, i.e., with eager desire for corn and wine. [See Grammatical Note.]
Hosea 7:15. They devise evil against me, namely, in their apostasy.
Hosea 7:16. עַל, probably adverb=upwards. [See Grammatical Note]
A deceitful bow: a bow upon which the archer cannot depend, which, when he is in the act of shooting, he fears may cause him to miss his aim. So God cannot depend upon Israel, is deceived in them every moment, cannot reach the aim with them which He desires. Others claim for רְמִיָּה the meaning: slackness, therefore, a slack, bow, which cannot carry the arrow to the mark. Each meaning affords essentially the same result. The princes are emphasized, because they were the seducers of the people. This (will become) a scorning in the land of Egypt; that is: the scorn of Egypt will fall upon them for this reason, namely, on account of the falling of the princes just mentioned. Not=because they placed their trust in Egypt and fell notwithstanding (Keil), for this would rather earn them the scorn, of Assyria. They would be ridiculed by Egypt because of the weakness revealed in their fall, while they had magnified their strength before Egypt.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. The Prophet assails the practices of the court without ceremony, and brands them with some powerful strokes, as a course of life, in which the nobles are as ready to carouse together as to conspire against one another. All discipline, as well as all fidelity, is wanting. “Even when they hold a feast in honor of their king, there is no end to their gorging, lewdness, carousing, etc. The more vilely they behave, the better they suppose they shall celebrate the day of the king. On the other hand, when they are dissatisfied with their king they are as eager and anxious to murder him, as they formerly were to drink his health until they became intoxicated.” The spirit which governs these circles is aptly compared to a fire, for it is a powerful passion by which they are driven about, revealed in various forms, partly in the form of sensual and fleshly lust, and partly in the form of craft, rage, and party-intrigue. With the loss of morality, frivolity goes hand in hand, partly as consequence and partly as cause. The courtiers together with the king are “scorners,” or make common cause with them. “The scorner, לֵץ, is the presumptuous, haughty, puffed-up (enlightened) man, who sets himself above what is and is regarded as sacred, and so practices his scornful amusement.” Comp. also Hosea 7:16: the insolence of the tongue.
2. The decay of the kingdom is already patent. Hosea 7:9: Gray hairs show themselves. But where the mistake lies, namely, in apostasy from Jehovah, those of the upper circles will not regard it (for it is these that the Prophet has specially in mind, comp. also Hosea 7:16). Therefore, instead of returning to Him and seeking Him (Hosea 7:10), the opposite means are seized upon, which have a result just the opposite of what they desire: help is sought in the world-powers (Hosea 7:11). Not merely the vanity but the disastrous nature of such dealing is now clearly expressed; for Israel is just preparing the way for its own ruin. It is like a silly dove, which does not see the net; and so straightway falls into it, i.e., the world-powers are preparing its destruction. In truth, however, it is God who employs them to punish his faithless people (Hosea 7:12). And thus will be fulfilled the previous announcement of punishment by the prophets (according to the declaration to their congregation, Hosea 7:12). It is not yet particularly indicated how the world-powers are to accomplish their destruction, nothing being as yet said of a captivity.
3. We may collect the other scattered strokes delineating Israel’s conduct towards God (for in such brief touches are the moral and religious views of our book exhibited).
Hosea 7:2 describes the insensibility of the conscience, which in the commission of evil deeds ignores God’s omniscience, while nothing is more certain than that God knows them—they are before his face.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
PFAFF. Bibelwerk: Hosea 7:1. When God lays his hand upon the conscience and his Spirit chastens it, then is first truly felt the greatness of sin. O, that we would subject ourselves to such chastening of the Spirit, and we would be saved!
CRAMER: When a sinner is about to receive help, it is with him as with many patients. They often do not feel their disease and danger, until the physician comes and reveals them.
PFAFF. Bibelwerk: Hosea 7:2. It is great simplicity on the part of the ungodly to suppose that God does not know their wickedness. Mark, soul, the eyes of the Lord are like flames of fire, and know even the most secret things of thy heart, and accompany thee in all thy evil ways.
[MATT. HENRY: This is the sinner’s atheism. As good say there is no God, as say He is either ignorant or forgetful; none that judgeth in the earth, as say He remembers not the things He is to give judgment upon.—M.]
PFAFF. Bibelwerk: Hosea 7:4. Ye lustful men who burn so in your lascivious desires, know that a fire is prepared for you in the other world where you will burn forever.
PFAFF. Bibelwerk: Hosea 7:7. What a deplorable situation men are in, when they have no longer confidence to cry out to God for help in their distress, because conscience tells them that they have made Him their enemy. But it is a great consolation to the pious that, when there is none to take their part, they have free access to God and his help.
Hosea 7:8. Beware of heathenish desires and practices. As soon as thou dost admit them—and they may obtain entrance in all kinds of seemingly harmless shapes, even in a refined form—they injure thy religious nature. The result is a stupefying of the spiritual sense, the loss of spiritual taste, then only remains an “unturned, insipid, and disgusting cake.”
[PUSEY: Hosea 7:9. “Thy gray hairs are thy passing-bell,” says the proverb.—M.]
PFAFF. Bibelwerk: Hosea 7:10. Man, thy sins condemn thyself. What! wouldst thou exculpate thyself? Turn only to thy conscience and ask it; it will soon utter thy condemnation.
[PUSEY: Hosea 7:13. To be separated from God is the source of all evils. Whoever seeks anything out of God or against his will, whoever seeks from man or from idols, from fortune or from his own powers, what God alone bestows; whoever acts as if God were not a good God ready to receive the penitent, or a just God who will avenge the holiness of his laws and not clear the guilty, does in fact speak lies against God.—M.]
Hosea 7:14. Is it the worst with thee when prosperity is past? To be vexed at the loss of temporal blessings, is a mourning of this world, and does not lead to life.
MATT. HENRY: To pray is to lift up the soul unto God; this is the essence of prayer. If that be not done, words, though never so well worded, are but wind; but if there be that, it is an acceptable prayer though the groanings cannot be uttered.—M.]
[PUSEY: Hosea 7:15. The creature can neither hurt nor profit the Creator. But since God vouchsafed to be their King, He designed to look upon their rebellions as so many efforts to injure Him.—M.]
Hosea 7:16. Whither dost thou turn? Upwards or downwards?
[PUSEY: Like a deceitful bow. In like way doth every sinner act, using against God in the service of Satan, God’s gifts of nature or of outward means, talents or wealth, or strength, or beauty, or power of speech,—God gave all for his own glory; and man turns all aside to do honor and service to Satan.—M.]
Hosea 7:4.—בֹּעֵרָה is accentuated as Milel, probably because the Masorites took objection to the fem. form, תּנּוּר which is elsewhere masculine. But the names for fire and anything connected therewith are in the Semitic languages usually fem. Hence בעערה is to be regarded as actually fem., and to be pointed בֹּלַרָה [See Green, Heb. Gr., § 196 c.—חֻמִצֽתֹי. חָמֵץ takes in the construct inf. the fem. ending, like חָמַל (Ezek. 16:5).—M.]
[Hosea 7:5.—חֲמַת is an example of a construct before a noun having a preposition. This may denote the direct and powerful influence of the wine upon the revellers, or it may merely be an example of a poetical usage, Green, §255,1.—לֹצְצִים ἁπ. λεγ. Some assume a verb לָצַץ, but Gesenius, Fürst and most regard the form as Piel Part. of לוּץ with מְ dropped. Houbigant would change the reading into לֵצִים, but needlessly.—M.]
[Hosea 7:6.—Henderson objects, to the change of reading to אַפֵּיהֶם, that this never occurs in the sense, ira, furor, eorum. But as anger is a frequent sense of the dual form, and as the exigencies of the case seem to demand another reading, it seems reasonable to adopt the emendation. The conjecture has also the support of antiquity, as the Targum renders רוּגְזְהוֹן and the Syr.;ܘܰܔܐܗܘܰ١ Only it is not necessary to retain the י—; the form given in the Exposition is probably the correct reading.—M.]
Hosea 7:12.—אַיְסִרֵם. This form is from the Hiphil הִיסִיר for דוסִיר.
Hosea 7:13.—אֶפְדֵּם is a voluntative or optative: I would or would like to redeem them.
Hosea 7:14.—The LXX. have read יִתְגּוֹדֵדוּ: they wound themselves. [But authority vastly preponderates in favor of the received reading.—M.]
[Hosea 7:16—לֹא עָל. It is agreed that the Kamets is due to the pause and that the normal form is עַל. Critics are divided as to whether this should be regarded as a noun used collectively (they return to no-gods=idols; or as an adverb: upwards=to heaven, where God is. The word means properly an elevation, summit; hence the notion that it might be used concretely=most High. In 11:7 this certainly seems the true meaning. Again it might be used adverbially, as in 2 Sam. 23:1. The best lexicographers (Gesenius, Fürst) approve the former sense here; some of the best Expositors (Manger, Ewald, Keil, and others) prefer the latter. The Anglo American expositors, generally, agree with the first named class. Newcome prefers to read לֹא יוֹעִיל: that which cannot profit.—M.]—זוֹ= זֶה, ἁπ. λεγ.
When I would have healed Israel, then the iniquity of Ephraim was discovered, and the wickedness of Samaria: for they commit falsehood; and the thief cometh in, and the troop of robbers spoileth without.