Matthew Poole's Commentary
The word of the LORD that came unto Hosea, the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel.The times in which Hosea prophesied, Hos 1:1. To show the idolatrous whoredoms of the land, he marrieth a wife of whoredom, and hath by her Jezreel, Hos 1:2-5, Lo-ruhamah, Hos 1:6,7, and Lo-ammi, Hos 1:8,9. The restoration of Judah and Israel under one head, Hos 1:10,11.
The word, or the command, and the thing commanded; or the prediction expressed in the very words God suggested by his Spirit to the prophet, and the things too which are now foretold; for holy men of God spake as they were moved, &c., 2Pe 1:21, and the things that were shortly to come to pass were revealed also, in the words of Rev 1:1. Hosea shows the things, and speaks them in words which God hath suggested to him.
The Lord; the Eternal, as the French, Jehovah, Heb., which expresseth the eternity and infinite being of our God, together with his sovereignty and absolute authority over all. This is expressly added, to give warning to the prophet, to command audience, attention, reverence, and submission in the hearers, and to intimate to them the certainty of execution if they repent not, and the certainty of performance of promise if they believe; for it is Jehovah who changeth not that speakest both.
Came to Hosea; or was with him; as it came to him, so it did abide with him, made a deep impression upon his mind. Prophets were too backward, rather than overforward, to publish sad tidings to sinning people. Moses was unwilling to go to Pharaoh; Jeremiah pent up the word till it grew like fire in his bowels, too hot, and he could have no ease till he gave it vent. It is not unlikely the prophet Hosea intimates by this expression some such effect the word of God had on him; he was full of the prophetic Spirit, its motions were ever with him, and stirring within him.
Hosea; a name that carrieth most comfortable news in the letter and signification of it, being the same with Joshua or Jesus; and his word or message from God to the good was comfortable, it was assurance both of preservation and salvation, as will appear in process of his prophecy.
The son of Beeri: though some would have this Beeri to be the same with Beerah, 1Ch 5:6, it hath no probability, the names being different; beside that Beerah was carried captive by Tilgath-pilneser, and it is probable his family was carried away with him; or if Hosea had escaped his father's mishap, he would have given us at least some ground to believe by his words that he resented the unhappiness of his family in that respect; but we know the name of the prophet's father, we know not his tribe or country, or of what quality he was, where he lived, or when be died.
In the days, i.e. during the reign, in the times; it is a Scripture expression of times.
Of Uzziah, called Azariah, 2Ki 14:21, and
Ozias, Mat 1:8; the beginning of whose reign is very variously guessed at, and after all is left uncertain; but this is clear, that Jeroboam was contemporary with Uzziah, who began to reign in the twenty-seventh year of Jeroboam: reckoning thence to the forty-first year of his reign, which was the last of Jeroboam, there will be fourteen years of Uzziah's reign in which Hosea prophesied; but if there was (as for aught I find there might be) some years of viceroyship in which Amaziah reigned with his father Joash, and the like between Jeroboam and his father, then a longer synchronism ariseth between Uzziah and Jeroboam, and a larger space of time for Hosea to prophesy in their days, which I search not into. Jotham; who succeeded Uzziah as governor, and judged the people while Uzziah, being a leper, was, according to the law, retired from conversing with men, and dwelt in a separate house, but retained the royal title and authority; but it is uncertain how many years this was. Some say fifteen years, others say four years (for we read, 2Ki 15:33, that he reigned sixteen years; and in 2Ki 15:30 we have his twentieth year. Now the four here mentioned seem to be those years of his viceroyship, or government for Uzziah); yet others say his governor's power was of shorter date, and that Uzziah was struck with the plague of leprosy in the last year of his age and reign. This seems scarce consistent with the report of Jotham's being over the house of the king, judging the people; and the leper king dwelling in a separate house till the day of his death, 2Ki 15:5 2Ch 26:21. They mistake, I think, who place this stroke of leprosy so late; and they do as much mistake who place it at the twenty-fifth of Uzziah, and make him a leper and seclude him twenty-seven years. Jotham hath the character of a good king, 1Ch 27:2,6; but he could not make his subjects good, 2Ch 27:2. Ahaz; the worst son of a good father, yet the father of one of the best of kings. He sinned more in his distress, 2Ch 28:22, and hastened God's judgments on him and his. Hezekiah; who reformed Judah, and walked so with God, that above any of the kings of Judah he was protected and rescued by the immediate hand of Heaven. How long Hosea prophesied in this king's reign appears not; but that he did prophesy a great while is most apparent, whether fifty, or sixty-five, or seventy, or seventy-five, or ninety years, which different computations have some to assert them, I determine not. Jeroboam; the great-grandson of Jehu, of whose greatness and sins you read 2Ki 14:24,25; he was of the religion of Jeroboam son of Nebat.
Joash; whose story you meet with 2Ki 13:10: though a great idolater, and reproved for it no doubt by Elisha, yet he gave a visit to the dying prophet, and with tears bewailed the public loss by Elisha's death, and by the prophet had a legacy given him, three victories over the Syrians; and more they should have been, had not Joash been sparing too much to his own great loss. I remember not any single visit so nobly and magnificently repaid.
Israel; kingdom of the ten tribes, contradistinguished to Judah. By this then it appears Hosea was sent to prophesy against the sins of Israel, or the ten tribes, as well as against the sins of Judah; against Israel he prophesied during Jeroboam's times, (and afterward left them to their obstinacy,) but he continued to prophesy to Judah until his death.
The beginning of the word of the LORD by Hosea. And the LORD said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the LORD.The beginning of the word of the Lord: this, say some, gives Hosea the precedence of all the prophets, which perhaps may be allowed to him among all the prophets that have written distinct books of their prophecies, but simply first of all the prophets he was not; in David’s and Solomon’s times we meet with Nathan and Ahijah the Shilonite. Or this
beginning may be, as our ordinary phrase, so soon as God spake, or at the very first of God’s speaking, to Hosea, he commanded him to take such a wife, &c.
The Lord: see Hosea 2:1.
By Hosea; in Hosea; denoting the impulse of the Spirit of prophecy, the internal motions and influence of the Spirit in the prophet: see Hosea 1:1.
The Lord said; directed and commanded him: this was warrant to him, doing which otherwise was unseemly for a prophet to have done. Go,
take unto thee: this was, say some, done in vision, and was to be told to the people as other visions were: it was parabolically proposed to them, and this might be sufficient to convince the Jews, would they have considered it well, as David considered Nathan’s parable. Others say it was really acted, and that the prophet did, as commanded, marry one who had been a strumpet, or that proved to be so after she was married. And though this would have been unseemly in the prophet, had he done it without this particular direction, now the scandal ceaseth, and it is very fit God be obeyed, and the prophet may with credit enough do what God had by his command made a necessary duty to him, and marry one known to be a lewd whore.
A wife of whoredoms; an openly noted whore, a notorious one, so the Hebrew phrase,
wife of whoredoms, as, a man of bloods, or man of sorrows; a woman of many whoredoms, and very lively emblem of idolatrous Israel.
Children of whoredoms; either that, born of such a mother, are. as she, addicted to lewdness; or else, with the mother made his wife, he is to receive and maintain the children she had by her adulterers. And thus understood, it may lead our thoughts to God’s rich mercy towards their ancestors, who were (Abraham himself not excepted) idolaters, when they dwelt on the other side the river, Joshua 24:2,3: yet God took them, and married them to himself, and did show wonderful kindness to them and theirs; all which is slighted and forgotten by their posterity, by you, O idolatrous Israelites! Or it may refer more expressly to what God did for Israel, when he brought them out of Egypt, and made covenant with them in Horeb, which was as a solemn espousing them to God. The Lord found them tainted with Egyptian idolatries, yet, as the prophet here, married them to himself, and covenanted with them to be faithful to him, but they broke the covenant.
The land, i.e. the people of the land, intimating the universal spreading of this sin, all, or most of all, so infected.
Hath committed great whoredom: the phrase, Heb. playing the harlot hath played the harlot, speaks the continuance of this idolatry among them, as well as the greatness of the whoredom. From their forefathers they had been idolaters; while God was giving them his law (from the nuptial day to Hosea’s time) they committed spiritual whoredom, and first made, next worshipped, the golden calf.
Departing from the Lord; so they left their first Husband, and doted on adulterers, on idols, as Hosea 2:5.
So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim; which conceived, and bare him a son.So he went and took Gomer; as commanded, so he did, whether you take it parabolically or literally. If you take it literally, this Gomer will be some known harlot, and perhaps she was famous for her beauty, and skill in the courtesan’s art, as her name may import. If you take it as a parable, we must take this name for a made name, assumed for its signification; both in the best sense Israel was perfect with the perfection which God did put upon her, Ezekiel 16:14, he made her
Gomer; and in the worst sense she made herself Gomer, one who was drawing to her end, who had undone and consumed herself; thus the word, Psalm 12:1; and so, in one word, God’s bounty and mercy, and Israel’s ingratitude and sin, is set forth, together with her punishment hastening upon her.
The daughter of Diblaim: literally understood, this Diblaim must be either father or mother of this Gomer, or else the name of the place where she was born. Parabolically understood, Diblaim, bunches of dried figs, may imply the deliciousness of her provision made of God, such as was made for great feasts, 1 Samuel 25:18; so 1 Chronicles 12:40: thus it will suit Hosea 2:5,9, and the places where the fig is mentioned as fruit with which God had blessed Israel. All which abused to luxury and sin, will now make her a daughter of Diblaim, of wilderness, desolate.
Bare him a son: this seems to favour the literal acceptation of all this as really done, and not only as represented in vision, parable, or hieroglyphic. But while either way it will be well applied to the purpose in hand, I shall leave it to the choice of every judicious reader to interpret and apply as best likes him.
And the LORD said unto him, Call his name Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu, and will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel.And the Lord said unto him, Hosea the prophet, who as in taking to wife an adulteress, so in giving name’ to his son by her, was to presignify Israel’s future calamities. Call his name, thy son now born,
Jezreel: the word is, The seed of the Lord, or, The arm of the Lord, or, The Lord will scatter; so it may insinuate that God by his own arm will scatter among the people, i.e. the Assyrians, those who were his people or seed. But we have a surer guide to lead us through this, i.e. the history of what was by Jehu done in Jezreel; of which more presently.
For; this is the reason why the prophet’s son is so called.
Yet a little while: it was four generations of Jehu God promised the throne to, and now the third that is now running, how near to an end we know not, but are sure it was within twenty-eight years; for Jeroboam began his reign in the fifteenth of Amaziah, and so thirteen years of his forty-one are spent ere Uzziah comes to the throne, 2 Kings 14:23; this according to one account: but 2 Kings 15:1 accounteth Jeroboam’s twenty-seventh to be the first of Uzziah, and then there are not above fourteen years to come; so little a while was this here spoken of, for in six months after Jeroboam’s death Shallum conspired against Zachariah, and slew him, and reigned a month; so Jehu’s seed was cast out of the throne.
Will avenge; inquire after and punish these crimes, which were committed in Jezreel. Heb. I will visit, i.e. as a just and impartial judge I will require an account, and execute punishments.
The blood: murders committed are in Scripture expressed thus by blood: here are particularly meant the slaughters made by Jehu’s hand or by his order, 2 Kings 9:10,11 10:1-7, in Jezreel, where he did with a treacherous mind, and aiming at his own greatness, destroy Ahab’s house, and slew Ahaziah king of Judah also. This was the just judgment of God upon that wicked house by Jehu executed, but he did it not with that mind God required.
Of Jezreel; the town which Ahab chose above others to dwell in, where the dogs licked up Ahab’s blood, when his chariot was washed and cleansed of the blood of that slain king, and where dogs did eat Jezebel, as the prophet threatened, 1 Kings 21:23.
Upon the house of Jehu; which had now possessed the throne (Jehu usurped) through the reigns of Jehoahaz, Jehoash, and Jeroboam; but the usurper and his successors adhering to the idolatry of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and adding other sins to it, had now provoked God to declare a sudden extirpation of the family, which God will in his just revenge make as like to Jeroboam’s family as Ahab’s, and they had made themselves like them in sin; all which came to pass when Shallum, conspiring against Zachariah, slew him, 2 Kings 15:10. And will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel; not immediately, but soon after the death of Zachariah, the kingdom of Israel did cease first to be free, for Menahem made it tributary to strengthen himself; so it is likely it continued for ten years during his life, and two years during his son Pekahiah’s reign; after him Pekah the conspirator and murderer usurped the throne for twenty years, and probably was feudatory to Tiglath-pileser; to be sure Hoses was so, and in his ninth year this word was fulfilled in the letter of it, the kingdom of Israel, after one and forty years’ tottering, fell to utter ruin, and hath so continued to this day. Israel, or the ten tribes divided from the house of David.
And it shall come to pass at that day, that I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel.It shall come to pass; most certainly this shall be effected.
At that day; when my vengeance hath overtaken the house of Jehu, when his great-great-grandson shall be slain. I will break; weaken, and by degrees quite break, i.e. by the conspiracies, seditions, and civil wars which will arise among themselves.
The bow: this was a warlike weapon they much used and were skilful in; this one weapon put for all their warlike provision, power, and skill; possibly it may allude to the bow of Jehu, who slew Joram with an arrow, and usurped his throne, but now the bow of the house of Jehu and of Israel shall be broken.
Of Israel: see Hosea 1:4.
In the valley of Jezreel: next to Samaria, Jezreel was chief city of the ten tribes, a very strong and fortified town, and both situated in the large and pleasant valley that hath from Joshua’s time been known by this name, valley of Jezreel, Joshua 17:16. In this valley it is probable the bloodiest battles in the civil wars were fought, between Zachariah and Shallum, 2 Kings 15:10, and between Shallum and Menahem, 2 Kings 15:14; between Pekahiah and Pekah, 2 Kings 15:25, and Pekah and Hoshea; the reason whereof probably might be this, because whoever carried the victory in this place were soon masters of Samaria and Jezreel, and consequently carried the kingdom too.
And she conceived again, and bare a daughter. And God said unto him, Call her name Loruhamah: for I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel; but I will utterly take them away.And she, Gomer, the hieroglyphic wife, who was to be a sign to Israel,
conceived again, whether visionary or really it comes to one, and bare a daughter; which is to be a sign too, as was her mother. It is too nice which Ribera observes, that the state grew weaker, as appeared by the bringing forth of one of the weaker sex. This daughter was fit to be an emblem, and therefore it is a daughter rather than a son, though it will be next a son and no daughter. But
Lo-ruhamah is feminine, and in congruity of speech it must be a female who bears this name. God said unto him: as before God imposed, so now again he imposeth a name, signifying what he would do with Israel. Though God direct what it shall be, the prophet is to give the name. Lo-ruhamah, Not pitied. Israel’s name had been through many ages Ruhamah, i.e. Pitied. God had with marvellous patience forborne them, and with tender bowels pitied them, and saved them from enemies, but now Israel should be no more pitied as formerly, God would throw them up to the rage of usurpers, and to the merciless hands of prosperous conspirators; so Menahem mercilessly ripped up women with child in Tiphsah, 2 Kings 15:16, and God gave up this bloody tyrant into the hand of Tiglath-pileser.
I will no more have mercy; I was wont to add mercy unto mercy for Israel, I was never weary of showing them mercy, but I will do no more so for them; my pity saved them in Jeroboam’s time, and raised them to a great height and glory, but now they shall, unpitied by me, sink lower and lower. Restraints of Divine pity are sure forerunners of destruction, Jeremiah 13:14.
Upon the house of Israel: this to me seems a qualifying of the former threat; though the house of Israel as a body politic, as a kingdom, under this character, shall no more be as it hath been, pitied, yet many among them may obtain mercy in the days of gospel grace, and many of them had mercy showed to them by the Lord, when they joined with Judah in the return from Babylon’s captivity; but the whole house, the families of the ten tribes, united in a kingdom, shall no more be to God Ruhamah, but ever Lo-ruhamah. Thus it hath been through the long series of two thousand four hundred years and more.
I will utterly take them away; taking away I will take away, till the whole kingdom is utterly overthrown, and removed out of the land wherein. it once had flourished. Thus some were taken away by the sword of civil wars, some ruined by oppression of the prevailing faction in those divided times, whole cities and all the land of Naphtali was taken away by Tiglath-pileser, 2 Kings 15:29, and at last all swept away by Shalmaneser, 2 Kings 17:3-5.
But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will save them by the LORD their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen.But, or And, or Yet.
I; the Lord, who threateneth Israel, proud, flourishing, secure, and sinful Israel: he promiseth mercy to poor, oppressed, and impoverished Judah.
Will have mercy on the house of Judah; prolonging that kingdom one hundred and thirty-two years after Israel ceased to be a kingdom; preserving them from the combined powers of the king of Syria and the king of Israel, who combine to destroy them; raising them up to greatness and glory in the reign of Hezekiah, in whose days the house of Judah was saved by a miracle: beside all these, Judah’s captivity was for seventy years, Israel’s for ever; Judah returned to their own land, Israel never did. By this, as the prophet would abate the pride of Israel, so possibly he would secretly direct the best among Israel whither to go to find mercy. Judah; including Benjamin, and such of the Levites as adhered constant to God’s law and worship, and as many of the other tribes as renounced the calves, Baal, and all idolatrous worship, and worship God alone as he required, all these, in this case, are included in Judah, and so we find many such returning with Judah.
And will save them; preserve, that violence do not swallow them up, nor length of captivity wear them out; and this preserved remnant shall return and be planted in their own land, and there kept in safety. This promise does seem to point out such temporal salvation, but as a type of a far better and more glorious salvation.
By the Lord their God; either by Messiah, who is the Lord and their God, or by God himself, as their God, whom they did not, as Israel, forsake utterly. This passage bids us look to that extraordinary miraculous deliverance of Hezekiah and Jerusalem: see Isaiah 37:36 2 Kings 18:13 2 Chronicles 32:1.
Will not save them by bow, & c.: here God removeth all force and might, whether their own or their allies’, all that might eclipse the glory of God in this salvation. Now this was very fully performed in Hezekiah’s time, when Sennacherib’s army was cut off in one night by an angel, Isaiah 37:35,36: and in Cyrus’s time and Darius’s the captive Jews saw it was not by power nor by might, but the Lord saved them; so should it be here, as Psalm 44:5,6 Isa 43:7,15 Zec 4:6.
Now when she had weaned Loruhamah, she conceived, and bare a son.Though some wrest the words to an allegorical sense, I think the prophet keeps the decorum in the similitude, and therefore, as women ordinarily conceive not whilst they give suck, so this Gomer weaned her daughter ere she conceived the son which is to be an emblem of the final rejection of the ten tribes.
Bare a son, to be a third sign to this incorrigible and self-undoing kingdom.
Then said God, Call his name Loammi: for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God.Then said God to the prophet, as before, Hosea 1:4,6.
Call his name; the name of his new-born son, the sign or type of the ten tribes, who had rejected God, and would not be reclaimed.
Lo-ammi, Not my people; though once you were a peculiar people, you are so no more in my account, you are cast off as you deserved.
For ye; the whole house of apostate Israel, who first cast off the house of David and my temple, and at last rejected me, that I should not be your God.
Are not my people; though circumcised, . yet have you cast off my covenant, you neither worship me, nor come up to my temple, nor keep my law; Baal, the calves, and the idols of your neighbours are your gods; ye are their people: ye are neither mine as to the civil constitution, you made you kings, and I knew it not, Hosea 8:4, without my leave or liking; nor as to church constitution are ye mine, for your whole worship is the politic contrivance of Jeroboam the son of Nebat. You have forgotten your Maker, and build temples, Hosea 8:14: ye count the great things of my law strange things to you; I must count you strangers to me.
I will not be your God, to protect you against dangers and enemies, or to replenish you with blessings, the fruits of my wonted goodness, or to pity you when you do either want or smart, or to counsel you in difficulties, or to hear your cries, or pardon your sins, or accept an offering at your hand; as you have long and lang refused me, and I have tried all ways to prevent your final self-undoing obstinacy, so now I do for ever reject you, O house of Israel, and will be a God to you no more than to any of the heathen nations. This God executed when he gave them up into the hands of Shalmaneser, who sent them where none now can find them; they are lost to men, they know not where they are; they are lost to God, he loves not nor careth for them.
Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God.Yet: this may anticipate the carnal Israel’s objection, that thus God would fail of his word to Abraham, or he would lose his people. Nothing so, yet, though ten tribes be for ever captivated, God will have his Israel.
The number of the children of Israel; not Israel after the flesh, not those very persons, families that are carried captive, (though for aught I know, or any can tell to the contrary, these may be so increased for Abraham’s sake,) but the Israel of God according to the faith, the spiritual seed of Abraham, consisting both of Jews and Gentiles.
Shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; innumerable, expressed by an elegant proverbial speech, alluding to the immenseness of the sands, Isaiah 10:22,23 Ro 9:27.
It shall come to pass; the time is fixed, and the thing shall certainly be, God will bring it about in his time. In the place: as we read it, it is plain that in those places or countries where a people dwelt who knew not God, were not his people, there should be a people that should both be called and be his people; the heathen should be called into the church, and in every place God should have his people. Or else thus: Instead of being called the people of God, you shall be called the children; so blessed a change, that who were once far off, and not a people, shall now be more than people, they shall be children. Where it was said unto them, the Gentiles and Jews unconverted.
Ye are not my people; in the state of unconverted ones, are far from God, without his covenant, and no people.
There it shall be said; known, declared, men shall confess it, God will own it himself, and make it known to others.
Ye are the sons; grace shall be enlarged, your relation nearer and sweeter, you shall be sons, not servants, have communion with God as with your father; and this shall be the common or equal privilege of this whole Israel of God. This is fulfilled in the kingdom of the Messiah under the gospel, as the apostle argueth it, Romans 9:25,26.
Of the living God, who is the fountain of life to all his children, and who giveth them lively affections to serve him, to offer living sacrifices to the living God. So are we called, Romans 12:1,2 1 Thessalonians 1:9.
Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head, and they shall come up out of the land: for great shall be the day of Jezreel.This verse without doubt hath in it both an historical sense and a mystical or spiritual sense; it looketh somewhat to the return out of the Babylonish captivity, and to their settling in Canaan; but it looketh further to a more glorious deliverance from a more miserable captivity.
Then; in the type and history, when the Babylonish captivity is dissolved, and the captives are loosed.
The children of Judah; the children of the two tribes, who adhered to the house of David, who were carried captives, but under promise of a redemption from it.
The children of Israel; some of the ten tribes who either went over to and did incorporate with the kingdom of Judah, and so were carried captives with them; or some of the ten tribes which the children of Judah found in the kingdom of Babylon, which having swallowed up the Assyrian monarchy, now the ten tribes were captives to their conquering sword. Thus in type, but it is spiritually and mystically to be understood of the whole Israel of God, Jew and Gentile, redeemed by and converted to Christ, in the day of his power.
Be gathered together, by the power of God, by the decree Of Cyrus, by each other, heartening one another to return; so the type: in the antitype, shall be gathered together by the Spirit of God, the preaching of the gospel, and mutual instruction, exhortation, and encouragements of each other
Appoint themselves one head; Zerubbabel in type, who was appointed by Cyrus, yet with full approbation of the people, putting themselves under his conduct, to carry them up to Jerusalem. But in the antitype Christ, appointed by the Father Head of his church, whom believers, heartily accepting, may in large sense be said to appoint to themselves.
Out of the land; literally, out of Babylon; spiritually, out of captivity of sill and Satan.
For great, good, joyous, and comfortable,
shall be the day of Jezreel; of the seed or people of God, the sons of God once dispersed, but now gathered by the gospel.