Hosea 9
Pulpit Commentary
Rejoice not, O Israel, for joy, as other people: for thou hast gone a whoring from thy God, thou hast loved a reward upon every cornfloor.
Verses 1-9 contain a warning against security arising from temporary prosperity. Verse 1. - Rejoice not, O Israel, for joy, as other people. The occasion on which the prophet penned this section was so no idolatrous merry-making in connection with harvest, and not any change of political situation.

(1) The literal rendering of the first clause is, rejoice not unto exultation, or exceedingly, as the same expression is translated in Job 3:22; it is thus climactic.

(2) The old versions take el-gil as imperative, and read אַל; μηδὲ εὐφραίνον, equivalent to "nor make merry;" and the Vulgate has noli exultare; but al is constructed with the future, not with the imperative. Again, some read be instead of ke, and so render, "among the peoples," the words being addressed, not to Israel in exile, but still resident in their own land. For thou hast gone a-whoring from thy God, thou hast loved a reward upon every corn-floor.

(1) According to this, which is the common rendering. the clause with ki assigns a reason for their foregoing such joy. But

(2) Ewald and others translate by "that or for that thou hast committed whoredom," understanding this clause to express the object of their joy. We prefer the former, for their faithlessness and foul idolatry were sufficient reasons to prevent Israel indulging in the joy of harvest. The blessings of the harvest were regarded by them as rewards for the worship of their idol-gods, in other words, as gifts from Baalim and Ashtaroth or other idols, and thus as ethnan, a harlot's hire; not as tokens and pledges of the favor of Jehovah.
The floor and the winepress shall not feed them, and the new wine shall fail in her.
Verse 2. - The floor and the wine-press shall not feed them, and the new wine shall fail in her. Thus Israel was not to enjoy the blessings of the harvest; the corn and oil and new wine, or corn and wine, would not prove as abundant as they expected or plenty would be succeeded by scarcity; or, rather, the people would be prevented enjoying the abundant produce of their land in consequence of being carried away captive to Assyria, as seems implied in the following verse. The floor and press - whether wine-prom, or rather oil-press, as the mention of new wine follows - are put for their contents by a common figure of speech. The expression, "fail in her," is literally, "lie to her," and has many parallels; as, "The labor of the olive shall fail [margin, 'lie']," and Horace's "fundus mendax," equivalent to "a farm that belies his hopes."
They shall not dwell in the LORD'S land; but Ephraim shall return to Egypt, and they shall eat unclean things in Assyria.
Verse 3. - They shall not dwell in the Lord's land; but Ephraim shall return to Egypt, and they shall eat unclean things in Assyria. The Lord's land was Canaan, which Jehovah chose to dwell there by visible symbol of the Shechinah-glory, and which he gave to Israel as his people. Israel expected to have it for a permanent place of abode, but that hope was frustrated by their sin. The remaining clauses of the verse may be understood either

(1) that Ephraim would return to Egypt to obtain anxiliaries, but to no purpose, - for they would be carried away captive and be compelled to eat unclean things in the land of Assyria; or

(2) the prophet threatens that some of them would go as exiles into Egypt, and others of them into Assyria This latter explanation is much to be preferred; while with regard to Egypt the threats, ring thus understood would re-echo an crier prophecy in Deuteronomy 28:68, "The Lord shall bring thee into Egypt again with ships, by the way whereof I spake unto thee, Thou shalt see it no more again: and there ye shall be sold unto your enemies for bondmen and bondwomen, and no man shall buy you." In Assyria also they would be obliged to cat things ceremonially unclean, as it would be impossible to conform to the requirements of the Law, according to which the eating of certain animals was prohibited. There is yet

(3) another interpretation, which takes Assyria to be the place of exile, while Egypt figuratively represents the condition of that exile, namely, a state of hard bondage and sore oppression, such as Israel endured in Egypt in the days of yore.
They shall not offer wine offerings to the LORD, neither shall they be pleasing unto him: their sacrifices shall be unto them as the bread of mourners; all that eat thereof shall be polluted: for their bread for their soul shall not come into the house of the LORD.
Verses 4, 5. - They shall not offer wine offerings to the Lord, neither shall they be pleasing unto him: their sacrifices shall be unto them the broad of mourners; all that eat thereof shall be polluted. Having predicted their inability to observe the ritual distinctions between clean and unclean, which the Law prescribed, whether from the tyranny of their oppressors or from scarcity, or from the absence of sanctification by the presentation of the firstfruits, the prophet proceeds to predict their cessation altogether. Such is the prophet's picture of their miserable position in Assyria. It is aptly remarked by Grotius that "they failed to pour out libations to the Lord when they could; now the time shall come when they may wish to make such libations, but cannot." According to the Massoretic punctuation and the common rendering,

(1) which is that of the Authorized Version, the people themselves are the subject of the second verb. They were neither able to offer drink offerings, a part for the whole of the meat offerings and unbloody oblations; nor, if they did, could they hope for acceptance for them away from the sanctuary and its central altar.

(2) Hitzig supplies niskeyhens, their drink offerings, from the foregoing clause, as subject to the verb of the following one, and the verb is explained by some in the sense of "mire." If

(3) we neglect the segholta, and make zibh-chehem the subject, the meaning is clearer, and the contrast between the unbloody and bloody offerings more obvious; thus: "They will not pour out libations of wine to Jehovah, nor will their sacrifices [equivalent to 'bloody oblations'] please him," that is to say, not such as were actually offered, but such as they might feel dis. posed to offer. The same noun may be repeated in next clause; thus, their sacrifices, or rather slaughtered meats, are unto him as bread of mourners, or, what is better, their food (supplied from ke lechem) shall be unto them like bread of mourners. Mourners' bread is that eaten at a funeral feast, or meal by persons mourning for the dead, and which was legally unclean, since a corpse defiled the house in which it was and all who entered it for seven days, as we read in Numbers 19:14, "This is the law, when a man dieth in a tent: all that come into the tent, and all that is in the tent, shall be unclean seven days." Of course, all who partook of the food would be polluted; so with that of Israel in exile, being unsanctified by the offering of firstfruits. For their bread for their soul shall not come into the house of the Lord. "Their bread for their soul," that is, for appeasing their appetite, whatsoever their soul lusted after, or bread for the preservation of their life, would not come into the house of the Lord to be sanctified by representative offerings. What will ye do in the solemn day, and in the day of the feast of the Lord? On such occasions they would feel the misery of their position most keenly. Away in a far foreign land, without temple and without ritual, they would bewail the loss of their annual celebrations, their national festivals and religious solemnities - those holiday-times of general joy and spiritual gladness. The distinction between moed and chag is variously given.

(1) By Grotius and Rosenmüller mood is referred to one of the three annual feasts - Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles; and chug to any of the other feasts, including the new moon.

(2) Others restrict chag to the Feast of Tabernacles, or harvest festival, the most joyous of them all. Keil makes the words synonymous, except that in chag festival joy is made prominent.
What will ye do in the solemn day, and in the day of the feast of the LORD?
For, lo, 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.
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.
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.
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.
The watchman of Ephraim was with my God: but the prophet is a snare of a fowler in all his ways, and hatred in the house of his God.
They have deeply corrupted themselves, as in the days of Gibeah: therefore he will remember their iniquity, he will visit their sins.
I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the firstripe in the fig tree at her first time: but they went to Baalpeor, and separated themselves unto that shame; and their abominations were according as they loved.
Verse 10. - I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the first-ripe in the fig tree at her first time. Grapes and first figs are among the choicest and most refreshing fruits; but to find such delicious fruits in a dry, barren wilderness is specially grateful and delightful. There are three possible constructions of bammidhbor:

(1) with "found,"

(2) with "grapes," and

(3) with both.

According to the first, which, on the whole, seems preferable, the meaning is, "I found Israel of old as a man finds grapes in a desert;" and the sense is God's good will towards and delight in Israel. Grapes found by a weary, exhausted traveler in a wilderness are a real boon, refreshing and strengthening him for continuing his journey and reaching his destination. Rashi gives the sense clearly and concisely thus: "As gropes which are precious and delicious in a desert, even so have I loved Israel." Aben Ezra, in his exposition, refers to Deuteronomy 32:10, "He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye;" and then adds, "As grapes in a wilderness where no one dwells; every one that finds them rejoices in them, and so in the first-ripe figs." The comment of Kimchi is fuller and more satisfactory: "As a man, when he finds grapes in the wilderness which is dry and fruitless, rejoices over them; and as he rejoices when he finds a first-fruit in the fig tree in its beginning; even so have I found Israel in the wilderness, and fed them and nourished them: they lacked nothing, equally as if they had been in an inhabited land; but they have not recognized my goodness." As the fig harvest is rather late in Palestine - about the middle of August - early figs have special worth, and are regarded as a delicacy. The comparison then is, according to Rashi, with the "early fig on the fig tree, which is ripe; like the fig on the fig tree in its beginning, i.e. in the beginning of the ripening of the figs;" then he subjoins, "Even so did your fathers appear in my eyes, that I loved them." But they went to Baal-peor, and separated themselves unto that shame. Israel did not continue long in a condition so pleasing to God, but fell away from him, forgot his benefits, and turned aside to the abominable idols of the surrounding Gentiles. As Aben Ezra somewhat pathetically expresses it, "Yet my joy was only small and of short duration, for they did homage to Baal-peor, and separated themselves from me." Long, therefore, before the sin of Gibeah they transgressed in Baal-poor; in the early period of their history they apostatized and proved unfaithful to Jehovah. To this hideous god, corresponding to Priapus of the Greeks, the maidens of Moab sacrificed their virginity. The Israelites were designed to be Nazarites, that is, separated to Jehovah and consecrated to his service, but they separated themselves unto that shame, either the idol or his worship. And their abominations were according as they loved. If men are slaves to appetite, they make a god of their belly; if to lust, Baal-peor is their god; and men become like what they worship, and abominable as the idols they serve, as the psalmist says, "They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them." They "became abominations like their lover" (ohabh, paramour; namely, Baal-peor), that is, as abominable and loathsome in the sight of God as the idols which they adulterously worshipped.
As for Ephraim, their glory shall fly away like a bird, from the birth, and from the womb, and from the conception.
Verses 11-14. - Having referred to the most flagrant instances of Israel's transgressions in the past - Gibeah in the time of the judges, Baal-peor at a still earlier period even in the days of Moses, and having merely indicated the parallel between their present sin and previous enormities, the prophet proceeds to denounce the punishments deserved and ready to descend upon them. As for Ephraim, their glory shall fly away like a bird, from the birth, and from the womb, and from the conception. The greatest glory, perhaps, of Ephraim was their fruitfulness - "double fruitfulness" being the very meaning of the name and the multiplication of their numbers; now that glory of populousness was to vanish speedily and entirely, like birds winging their way swiftly and out of sight. After the figure comes the fact, and it is expressed in anti-climactic form - no child-bearing, no pregnancy, no conception. The course of barrenness takes the place of the blessing of fruitfulness. Though they bring up their children, yet will I believe them, that there shall not be a man left. Even if their sons should grow up to manhood and attain maturity, yet they would be cut off by the sword and swept away by death, so that their progeny would perish. This accords with the threatened punishment of unfaithfulness recorded in Deuteronomy 32:25, "The sword without, and terror within, shall destroy both the young man and the virgin, the suckling also with the man of grey hairs." The negative sense of rain, equivalent to "so that not," is common before verbs, also before nouns the min being put for the fuller מֵהְיות. Yea, woe also to them when I depart from them! This accounts for the coming calamity; it is the departure of Jehovah from Israel, and the withdrawal of his favor. The word שׂוּר

(1) stands for סוּר, sin and samech being interchanged; or

(2) it may be for שׁוּר, sin put for shin by a clerical error. The meaning is a little different: "when I look away from them." Rashi mentions the fact that this word belongs to those words written with sin but read with samech. His comment on the verse is correct: "For what benefit have they when they bring up their children? Because, if they do bring them up, then I bereave them so that they do not become men;" similarly Kimchi: "If there be some among them who escape these mishaps and reach the birth, and they (the parents) bring them up yet shall they die in youth, and never reach the season when they shall be called men."

(3) The misreading of בְּשָׂרִי instead of בְּשׂוּרִי by the LXX. led to the strange misrendering, "Wherefore also there is a woe to them (though) my flesh is of them (διότι καὶ οὐαὶ αὐτοῖς ἐστι σάρξ μον ἐξ αὐτῶν,) of which Cyril connects the first member with the preceding words, and, detaching the remainder, interpreted, "Let my flesh be far for exemption from the punishment threatened. Ephraim, as I saw Tyrus, is planted in a pleasant place: but Ephraim shall bring forth his children to the murderer. The first member of this verse has called forth great diversity of translation and interpretation. It were tedious, and not conducive to the right understanding of the verse, to enumerate the various expositions given of it. A very few of the most important may be briefly noticed.

(1) The LXX., reading לָצוּד, בְנֵירֶם, rendered, "Ephraim, even as I saw, gave her children for a prey (εἰς θήραν)"

(2) Ewald, conjecturing צוּרָה, renders," Ephraim is, as I judge, according to the form, a planting in a meadow." Rejecting both these, we come

(3) to that of Gesenius: "Ephraim, like Tyro (as if it were Tyro), is planted in a beautiful meadow;" De Wette's is," Ephraim, when (or if) I look as far as Tyro, is planted on a pleasant meadow;" Keil has, "Ephraim, as I selected it for a Tyro planted in the valley; so shall Ephraim lead out its sons to the murderer." All these renderings are faulty in one respect or other; some of them miss the sense altogether, and others of them obscure it.

(4) The rendering that appears to us simplest, most in harmony with the Hebrew, and most suitable to the context, is that of Wunshe, but with a modification that of a secure dwelling-place instead of meadow: "Ephraim, as I look towards Tyro, is planted on a meadow [rather, 'sure resting-place'], and Ephraim must lead out its sons to the murderer." The meaning, then, is that Ephraim is a lovely land in whatever direction one looks towards it, like the famous Tyro; it was beautiful and blooming, populous as well as pleasant; or rather, strong in its natural fortifications, like the famous capital of Phoenicia; yet the wrath of Heaven hung over it - it would become waste and emptied of its male population, Ephraim being obliged to send forth the bravest of her sons to repel the hostile invader, and to perish in the tumult of the battle. By combining a part of Rashi's exposition with part of Kimchi's, we reach the correct sense. Rashi has, "Ephraim as I look towards Tyro, which in its prosperity is crowned above all cities, so I look upon Ephraim planted on a meadow;" so far the explanation is correct, not so what follow: "And Ephraim - how does he reward me? He is busied in bringing forth his sons to the murderer in order to sacrifice them to idols;" in place of this latter part we substitute the following of Kimchi: "The enemies shall come upon them, and they shall march out from their cities to meet them in battle, and the enemies shall slay them." The infinitive with le, לְהוצִיא, implies the necessity imposed on Ephraim to do so. Ephraim is to had out, or must lead out, his sons to the murderer. Rosenmüller, in his commentary, has the following remark on this idiom at the fifteenth verse of the forty-ninth psalm: "Tempus infinitivum positum esse fututri sire aoristi, vice, pro eo quod plenum esset עתיד לי = paratus est," etc. He adds that the Syriac prefixes arid, equivalent to paratus est to the infinitive with lomad, and so makes a paraphrase of the future; while the Hebrews omit arid. Driver ('Hebrew Tenses,' p. 300) says of this usage of the so-called "periphrastic future," "Hero the infinitive with ל, expressing as usual a direction, tendency, or aim, forms the sole predicate: the subject, as a rule, stands first, so as to engage the mind, the purpose which is postulated for it follows; and thus the idea arises of an inevitable sequence or obligation , though net one of a formal or pronounced character, which is expressed in Hebrew by other means (i.e. by the addition of על, or of ל, as עָלַי, equivalent to 'incumbent upon me'); Hosea 9:13, 'And Ephraim is for bringing forth his sons to the slayer;' or, as this is the entire scope and object in regard to which Ephraim is here considered - is to or must bring forth." Give them, O Lord: what writ thou give? give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts. The prophet seems at a loss to know what he should ask for his countrymen. Though it was not total excision, but rather diminution of numbers, that was threatened in accordance with the statement, "If thou wilt not observe to do all the words of this Law... ye shall be left few in number, whereas ye were as the stars of heaven for multitude;" yet at every stage their offspring was to be cut off, or, if spared to arrive at manhood, it was only to fall by the hand of the murderer. No wonder, then, the prophet is perplexed in regard to the petition that would be most expedient for them. He hardly knew what was best to ask on their behalf.

(1) The thought at length flashed upon him that utter childishness was preferable to bringing up children to be slain with the sword or trained in idolatry; hence he prayed for what he regarded as the less calamity - "a miscarrying womb and dry breasts." Or

(2) the prophet is agitated between compassion for his countrymen and indignation at their sin. Justly indignant at the heinousness of their iniquity, he is about to appeal to Heaven for vengeance on the transgressors, but in pity for the erring people he cheeks the half-uttered imprecation, or softens it into the milder request for their extinction by childlessness.
Though they bring up their children, yet will I bereave them, that there shall not be a man left: yea, woe also to them when I depart from them!
Ephraim, as I saw Tyrus, is planted in a pleasant place: but Ephraim shall bring forth his children to the murderer.
Give them, O LORD: what wilt thou give? give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts.
All their wickedness is in Gilgal: for there I hated them: for the wickedness of their doings I will drive them out of mine house, I will love them no more: all their princes are revolters.
Verses 15-17. - After the interruption by the excited question of the prophet in ver. 14, the terrible storm of denunciation sweeps on to the end of the chapter. All their wickedness is in Gilgal: for there I hated them; or, there I conceived hatred against them, the verb being used in an inchoative sense. Gilgal had been the scene of many mercies; there the rite of circumcision, the seal of the Abrahamic covenant, after its omission dining the sojourn in the wilderness, was renewed; there the Passover, also intermitted from its second observance at Sinai, was kept; there the twelve memorial stones had been set up; there the Captain of the host of the Lord had appeared to Joshua, reassuring him of Divine protection; there the tabernacle had stood before its removal to Shiloh; yet that very place - a place of such blessing and solemn covenanting-had become the scene of idolatry and iniquity. The wickedness of Israel had been concentrated there as in a focus; there Israel's rejection of the theocracy in its spiritual form had taken place; there that first-plague's pot of ruin had been contracted; there the calf-worship had been developed; there the form of civil government had been shaped according to their own erring fancy, and their mode of religious worship had been corrupted. Thus Gilgal had become the center of all their sin; but the scene of mercy became the source of wrath, for there God's fatherly love was turned by Israel's wickedness into hatred. For the wickedness of their doings I will drive them out of my house, I will love them no more. They were driven out like Hagar out of the house of the patriarch, that Ishmael might not inherit with Isaac; like an unfaithful wife divorced and driven out of the house of the husband whom she has dishonored; or like an undutiful and disobedient son whom his father has disinherited. Further, God disowns the rebellious son, and acknowledges the paternal relationship no longer. The princes of Israel had become rebellions and stubborn: by an impressive Hebrew paronomasia, their sarim, rulers, had become sorerim, revolters. Ephraim is smitten, their root is dried up, they shall bear no fruit. Ephraim is a pleasant plant, but a worm has smitten the root and it has withered; Ephraim is a goodly tree, but the lightning of heaven has scorched and dried it up; there may be leafage for a time, but no fruitage ever. Yea, though they bring forth, yet will I slay the beloved fruit of their womb. The desires - margin, dear delights, or, darlings - perish, and so the figure is now dropped, and the fact is seen in all its severe and stern reality, while the dread denunciation of vers. 11 and 12 is repeated and emphasized. My God will cast them away, because they did not hearken unto him; and they shall be wanderers among the nations. The prophet submits his will to the Divine will, and acquiesces in the disposals of his providence, and in his own proper person predicts Israel's coming doom. He fills up the outline of the dark picture by stating the cause of their rejection. He specifies at the same time the character of rejection, namely, dispersion among the nations, like birds driven from their nest, for so the term nodedim denotes.

Ephraim is smitten, their root is dried up, they shall bear no fruit: yea, though they bring forth, yet will I slay even the beloved fruit of their womb.
My God will cast them away, because they did not hearken unto him: and they shall be wanderers among the nations.
The Pulpit Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 2001, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2010 by BibleSoft, inc., Used by permission

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