God here expostulates with the people of Israel for their ingratitude. The obligation of the people was twofold; for God had embraced them from the very first beginning, and when there was no merit or worthiness in them. What else, indeed, was the condition of the people when emancipated from their servile works in Egypt? They doubtless seemed then like a man half-dead or a putrid carcass; for they had no vigour remaining in them. The Lord then stretched forth his hand to the people when in so hopeless a state, drew them out, as it were, from the grave, and restored them from death into life. But the people did not acknowledge this so wonderful a favour of God, but soon after petulantly turned their back on him. What baseness was this, and how shameful the wickedness, to make such a return to the author of their life and salvation? The Prophet therefore enhances the sin and baseness of the people by this circumstance, that the Lord had loved them even from childhood; when yet, he says, Israel was a child, I loved him The nativity of the people was their coming out of Egypt. The Lord had indeed made his covenant with Abraham four hundred years before; and, as we know, the patriarchs were also regarded by him as his children: but God wished his Church to be, as it were, extinguished, when he redeemed it.
Hence the Scripture, when it speaks of the liberation of the people, often refers to that favour of God in the same way as of one born into the world. It is not therefore without reason that the Prophet here reminds the people that they had been loved when in childhood. The proof of this love was, that they had been brought out of Egypt. Love had preceded, as the cause is always before the effect.
But the Prophet enlarges on the subject: I loved Israel, even while he was yet a child; I called him out of Egypt; that is, “I not only loved him when a child, but before he was born I began to love him; for the liberation from Egypt was the nativity, and my love preceded that. It then appears, that the people had been loved by me, before they came forth to the light; for Egypt was like a grave without any spark of life; and the condition this miserable people was in was worse than thousand deaths. Then by calling my people from Egypt, I sufficiently proved that my love was gratuitous before they were born.” The people were hence less excusable when they returned such an unworthy recompense to God, since he had previously bestowed his free favour upon them. We now understand the meaning of the Prophet.
But here arises a difficult question; for Matthew, accommodates this passage to the person of Christ. They who have not been well versed in Scripture have confidently applied to Christ this place; yet the context is opposed to this. Hence it has happened, that scoffers have attempted to disturb the whole religion of Christ, as though the Evangelist had misapplied the declaration of the Prophet. They give a more suitable answer, who say that there is in this case only a comparison: as when a passage from Jeremiah is quoted in another place, when the cruelty of Herod is mentioned, who raged against all the infants of his dominion, who were under two years of age, ‘Rachel, bewailing her children, would not receive consolation, because they were not,’ (Jer_31:15.)
The Evangelist says that this prophecy was fulfilled, (Mat_2:18.) But it is certain that the object of Jeremiah was another; but nothing prevents that declaration should not be applied to what Matthew relates. So they understand this place. But I think that Matthew had more deeply considered the purpose of God in having Christ led into Egypt, and in his return afterwards into Judea. In the first place, it must be remembered that Christ cannot be separated from his Church, as the body will be mutilated and imperfect without a head. Whatever then happened formerly in the Church, ought at length to be fulfilled by the head. This is one thing. Then also there is no doubt, but that God in his wonderful providence intended that his Son should come forth from Egypt, that he might be a redeemer to the faithful; and thus he shows that a true, real, and perfect deliverance was at length effected, when the promised Redeemer appeared. It was then the full nativity of the Church, when Christ came forth from Egypt to redeem his Church. So in my view that comment is too frigid, which embraces the idea, that Matthew made only a comparison. For it behaves us to consider this, that God, when he formerly redeemed his people from Egypt, only showed by a certain prelude the redemption which he deferred till the coming of Christ. Hence, as the body was then brought forth from Egypt into Judea, so at length the head also came forth from Egypt: and then God fully showed him to be the true deliverer of his people. This then is the meaning. Matthew therefore most fitly accommodates this passage to Christ, that God loved his Son from his first childhood and called him from Egypt. We know at the same time that Christ is called the Son of God in a respect different from the people of Israel; for adoption made the children of Abraham the children of God, but Christ is by nature the only-begotten Son of God. But his own dignity must remain to the head, that the body may continue in its inferior state. There is then in this nothing inconsistent. But as to the charge of ingratitude, that so great a favour of God was not acknowledged, this cannot apply to the person of Christ, as we well know; nor is it necessary in this respect to refer to him; for we see from other places that every thing does not apply to Christ, which is said of David, or of the high priest, or of the posterity of David; though they were types of Christ. But there is ever a great difference between the reality and its symbols. Let us now proceed —
When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt. Driver uses this verse to exemplify the principle that when the reference is to what is past or certain, rather than to what is future or indefinite, we find the predicate or the apodosis introduced by וַּ, though not with nearly the same frequency as לperfect and vav causes
(1) with subject or object pre-fixed;
(2) after time-determinations.
The life of a nation has its stages of rise, progress, and development, like the life of an individual man. The prophet goes back to that early period when the national life of Israel was in its infancy; it was then that a few patriarchs who had gone down to sojourn in Egypt were becoming a people; the predicate precedes, to emphasize, that early day when Israel became God’s peculiar people. The vav marks the apodosis recording God’s love in choosing that people, calling them into the relation of sonship, and delivering them out of Egypt. Thus Kimchi says, “When Israel was vet a child, i.e. in Egypt, then I loved him, therefore I am more angry with them than with the rest of the nations; for from their youth onward I have loved them, and delivered them out of the bands of their enemies. But when they transgress my commandments it is incumbent on me to chastise them as a man chastises his son.”
(1) The people of Israel is called God’s son in consequence of God choosing them and bringing them into close relationship to himself, such as that of a son to a father. The commencement was the message to Pharaoh by Moses in the words, “Israel is my son, even my firstborn: and I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me.” This sonship was solemnly ratified by the giving of the Law at Sinai; and the condition clearly stated that, in the event of their preserving the knowledge of God, fulfilling his Law, and doing his will, they would at all times enjoy Divine protection, defense, and blessing, while from generation to generation they were addressed by that honorable title.
(2) As the deliverance hem Egypt is always described as a “leading” or “bringing out,” and never elsewhere as a “calling out,” some expositors maintain that the words, “out of Egypt,” signify from the time Israel was in Egypt, and are parallel to “when Israel was a child,” both referring to time, the time of national infancy. From that period God began to manifest his love, and in its manifestation he called him by the endearing name of “son”—my son. The words of this verse are applied by St. Matthew to the sojourn of Jesus in Egypt. The older interpreters refer
(a) the first part of the verse to Israel and the second part typically to the history of Messiah’s childhood, in whom that of Israel reached its completeness. Rather
(b) the verse was applied typically to Israel, and to Jesus as the antitype; to the former primarily, and to the latter secondarily. Thus the head and the members are comprehended in one common prediction.
When Israel was a child, then I loved him – God loved Israel, as He Himself formed it, ere it corrupted itself. He loved it for the sake of the fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as he saith, “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated” Mal_1:2. Then, when it was weak, helpless, oppressed by the Egyptians, afflicted, destitute, God loved him, cared for him, delivered him from oppression, and called him out of Egypt. : “When did He love Israel? When, by His guidance, Israel regained freedom, his enemies were destroyed, he was fed with “food from heaven,” he heard the voice of God, and received the law from Him. He was unformed in Egypt; then he was informed by the rules of the law, so as to be matured there. He was a child in that vast waste. For he was nourished, not by solid food, but by milk, i. e., by the rudiments of piety and righteousness, that he might gradually attain the strength of a man. So that law was a schoolmaster, to retain Israel as a child, by the discipline of a child, until the time should come when all, who despised not the heavenly gifts, should receive the Spirit of adoption. The prophet then, in order to show the exceeding guilt of Israel, says, “When Israel was a child,” (in the wilderness, for then he was born when he bound himself to conform to the divine law, and was not yet matured) “I loved him,” i. e., I gave him the law, priesthood, judgments, precepts, instructions; I loaded him with most ample benefits; I preferred him to all nations, expending on him, as on My chief heritage and special possession, much watchful care and pains.”
I called My son out of Egypt – As He said to Pharaoh, “Israel is My son, even My firstborn; let My son go, that he may serve Me” Exo_4:22-23. God chose him out of all nations, to be His special people. Yet also God chose him, not for himself, but because He willed that Christ, His only Son, should “after the flesh” be born of him, and for, and in, the Son, God called His people, “My son.” : “The people of Israel was called a son, as regards the elect, yet only for the sake of Him, the only begotten Son, begotten, not adopted, who, “after the flesh,” was to be born of that people, that, through His Passion, He might bring many sons to glory, disdaining not to have them as brethren and co-heirs. For, had He not come, who was to come, the Well Beloved Son of God, Israel too could never, anymore than the other nations, have been called the son of so great a Father, as the Apostle, himself of that people, saith, “For we were, by nature, children of wrath, even as others” Eph_2:3.
Since, however, these words relate to literal Israel, the people whom God brought out by Moses, how were they fulfilled in the infant Jesus, when He was brought back out of Egypt, as Matthew teaches us, they were?” Mat_2:15.
Because Israel himself was a type of Christ, and for the sake of Him who was to be born of the seed of Israel, did God call Israel, “My son;” for His sake only did he deliver him. The two deliverances, of the whole Jewish people, and of Christ the Head, occupied the same position in God’s dispensations. He rescued Israel, whom He called His son, in its childish and infantine condition, at the very commencement of its being, as a people. His true Son by Nature, Christ our Lord, He brought up in His Infancy, when He began to show forth His mercies to us in Him. Both had, by His appointment, taken refuge in Egypt; both were, by His miraculous call to Moses in the bush, to Joseph in the dream, recalled from it. Matthew apparently quotes these words, not to prove anything, but in order to point out the relation of God’s former dealings with the latter, the beginning and the close, what relates to the body, and what relates to the Head. He tells us that the former deliverance had its completion in Christ, that in His deliverance was the full solid completion of that of Israel; and that then indeed it might, in its completest fullness, be said, “Out of Egypt have I called My Son.”
When Israel was brought out of Egypt, the figure took place; when Christ was called, the reality was fulfilled. The act itself, on the part of God, was prophetic. When He delivered Israel, and called him His firstborn, He willed, in the course of time, to bring up from Egypt His Only-Begotten Son. The words are prophetic, because the event which they speak of, was prophetic. “They speak of Israel as one collective body, and, as it were, one person, called by God “My son,” namely, by adoption, still in the years of innocency, and beloved by God, called of God out of Egypt by Moses, as Jesus, His true Son, was by the Angel.” The following verses are not prophetic, because in them the prophet no longer speaks of Israel as one, but as composed of the many sinful individuals in it. Israel was a prophetic people, in regard to this dispensation of God toward him; not in regard to his rebellions and sins.
The Prophet now repeats the ingratitude of the people in neglecting to keep in mind their redemption. The word, “called,” is here to be taken in a different sense. For God effectually called, as they say, the people, or his Son, from Egypt: he has again called by the outward voice or teaching through his Prophets. Hence, when he said before that he called his Son from Egypt, it ought to be understood, as they say, of actual liberation: but now when he says, They have called them, it is to be understood of teaching. The name of the Prophets is not expressed; but that they are intended is plain. And the Prophet seems designedly to have said in an indefinite manner, that the people had been called, that the indignity might appear more evident, as they had been called so often and by so many, and yet had refused. Hence they have called them When he thus speaks, he is not to be understood as referring to one or two men, or to a few, but as including a great number of men, doing this everywhere. Even thus now have they called them; that is, this people have been called, not once or twice, but constantly; and God has not only sent one messenger or preacher to call them, but there have been many Prophets, one after the other, often thus employed, and yet without any benefit. We now perceive what the Prophet meant.
They have called them, he says, so they went away from their presence The particle so, כן, can, is introduced here to enliven the description; for the Prophet points out, as by the fingers how wickedly they conspired to execute their own counsels, as if they wished purposely to show in an open manner their contempt. So they went away; when the Prophets called them to one course, they proceeded in an opposite one. We then see, that to point out thus their conduct was not superfluous, when he says, that they in this manner went away: and then he says, from their face Here he shows that the people sought hiding-places and shunned the light. We may indeed conclude from these words, that so great was the perverseness of the people, that they not only wished to be alienated from God, but also that they would have nothing to do with the Prophets. It is indeed a proof of extreme wickedness, when instruction itself is a weariness, and ministers cannot be endured; and no doubt the Prophet meant to set forth this sin of the people.
He afterwards says, that they sacrificed unto Baalim, and burnt incense to graven images In the former clause, he shows the contumacy of the Israelites, that they deigned not to give ear to God’s servants. He now adds, that they made incense to graven images, and also offered worship to their idols. By Baalim, as it has been already stated, the Prophet means the inferior gods. For no such stupidity prevailed among the people as not to think that there is some chief deity; nay, even profane Gentiles confessed that there is some supreme God. But they called their advocates (patronos ) Baalim, as we see to be the case at this day under the Papacy, this same office is transferred to the dead; they are to procure for men the favour of God. The Papists then have no grounds for seeking an evasion by words; for the very same superstition prevails at this time among them, as prevailed formerly among Gentiles and the people of Israel. Here the Prophet enhances the wickedness of the people; for they not only contemptuously neglected every instruction in religion, but also openly perverted the whole worship of God, and abandoned themselves to all abominations, so as to burn incense to their own idols. Let us go on —
Keil & Delitzsch
The prophet goes back a third time (cf. Hos_10:1; Hos_9:10) to the early times of Israel, and shows how the people had repaid the Lord, for all the proofs of His love, with nothing but ingratitude and unfaithfulness; so that it would have merited utter destruction from off the earth, if God should not restrain His wrath for the sake of His unchangeable faithfulness, in order that, after severely chastening, He might gather together once more those that were rescued from among the heathen.
Hos_11:1. “When Israel was young, then I loved him, and I called my son out of Egypt. Hos_11:2. Men called to them; so they went away from their countenance: they offer sacrifice to the Baals, and burn incense to the idols.” Hos_11:1 rests upon Exo_4:22-23, where the Lord directs Moses to say to Pharaoh, “Israel is my first-born son; let my son go, that he may serve me.” Israel was the son of Jehovah, by virtue of its election to be Jehovah’s peculiar people (see at Exo_4:22). In this election lay the ground for the love which God showed to Israel, by bringing it out of Egypt, to give it the land of Canaan, promised to the fathers for its inheritance. The adoption of Israel as the son of Jehovah, which began with its deliverance out of the bondage of Egypt, and was completed in the conclusion of the covenant at Sinai, forms the first stage in the carrying out of the divine work of salvation, which was completed in the incarnation of the Son of God for the redemption of mankind from death and ruin. The development and guidance of Israel as the people of God all pointed to Christ; not, however, in any such sense as that the nation of Israel was to bring forth the son of God from within itself, but in this sense, that the relation which the Lord of heaven and earth established and sustained with that nation, was a preparation for the union of God with humanity, and paved the way for the incarnation of His Son, by the fact that Israel was trained to be a vessel of divine grace. All essential factors in the history of Israel point to this as their end, and thereby become types and material prophecies of the life of Him in whom the reconciliation of man to God was to be realized, and the union of God with the human race to be developed into a personal unity. It is in this sense that the second half of our verse is quoted in Mat_2:15 as a prophecy of Christ, not because the words of the prophet refer directly and immediately to Christ, but because the sojourn in Egypt, and return out of that land, had the same significance in relation to the development of the life of Jesus Christ, as it had to the nation of Israel. Just as Israel grew into a nation in Egypt, where it was out of the reach of Canaanitish ways, so was the child Jesus hidden in Egypt from the hostility of Herod. But Hos_11:2 is attached thus as an antithesis: this love of its God was repaid by Israel with base apostasy. קָרְאוּ, they, viz., the prophets (cf. Hos_11:7; 2Ki_17:13; Jer_7:25; Jer_25:4; Zec_1:4), called to them, called the Israelites to the Lord and to obedience to Him; but they (the Israelites) went away from their countenance, would not hearken to the prophets, or come to the Lord (Jer_2:31). The thought is strengthened by כֵּן, with the כַּאֲשֶׁר of the protasis omitted (Ewald, §360, a): as the prophets called, so the Israelites drew back from them, and served idols. בְּעָלִים as in Hos_2:15, and פְּסִלִים as in 2Ki_17:41 and Deu_7:5, Deu_7:25 (see at Exo_20:4).
As they called them, so they went from them: they sacrificed unto Baalim, and burned incense to graven images.
(1) Adverting to his own call mentioned in the first verse, God here refers to the many subsequent calls which he addressed to them through his servants the prophets and other messengers.
(2) The subject of the verb is erroneously understood by some, as, for example, Aben Ezra and Eichhorn, to be the idols, or their false priests or prophets; while
(3) Jerome is also mistaken in referring the words to the time of Israel’s rebelling when Moses and Aaron wished to lead them out of Egypt. The correct reference is that first stated, and the sense is that, instead of appreciating the invitations and monitions of the prophets of God, they showed their utter insensibility and thanklessness, turning away from them in contempt and scorn. Nay, the more the messengers of God called them, the more they turned a deaf ear to those who were their truest friends and best advisers. Pursuing their idolatrous practices, they sacrificed to Baal, that is to say, the various representations of that idol, and burned incense to their images, whether of wood or stone or precious metal. Thus Kimchi correctly comments as follows: “The prophets which I sent to them called to them morning and evening to turn to Jehovah, so (much the more) did they go away from them, not hearkening to their words nor desisting from their evil works.” The word כֵן, even so, denoting the measure or relation, corresponds to ואשר to be supplied in the first clause. The imperfects imply continuance of action or a general truth.
(4) The Septuagint rendering, followed by the Syriac, is ἐκ προσώπου μου αὐτοὶ, “from my presence: they;” as if they had read on מִפָנַי הֵם instead of the present text.
As they called them, so they went from them – The prophet changes his tone, no longer speaking of that one first call of God to Israel as a whole, whereby He brought out Israel as one man, His one son; which one call he obeyed. Here he speaks of God’s manifold calls to the people, throughout their whole history, which they as often disobeyed, and not disobeyed only, but went contrariwise.
They called them.” Whether God employed Moses, or the judges, or priests, or kings, or prophets, to call them, it was all one. Whenever or by whomsoever they were called, they turned away in the opposite direction, to serve their idols. They proportioned and fitted, as it were, their disobedience to God’s long-suffering. : “Then chiefly they threw off obedience, despised their admonitions, and worked themselves up the more franticly to a zeal for the sin which they had begun.” “They,” God’s messengers, “called; so,” in like manner, “they went away from them. They sacrificed unto Baalim,” i. e., their many Baals, in which they cherished idolatry, cruelty, and fleshly sin. : So “when Christ came and called them manifoldly, as in the great day of the feast, “If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink,” the more diligently He called them, the more diligently they went away from Him, and returned to their idols, to the love and possession of riches and houses and pleasures, for whose sake they despised the truth.”
Here again God amplifies the sin of the people, by saying, that by no kindness, even for a long time, could they be allured, or turned, or reformed, or reduced to a sound mind. It was surely enough that the people of Israeli who had been brought by the hand of God from the grave to the light of life, should have repudiated every instruction; it was a great and an atrocious sin; but now God goes on farther, and says, that he had not ceased to show his love to them, and yet had attained nothing by his perseverance; for the wickedness and depravity of the people were incurable. Hence he says, I have led Ephraim on foot Some are of opinion that it is a noun, from רגל, regel, foot, and it seems the most suitable. For otherwise there will be a change of a letter, which grammarians do not allow in the beginning of a word; for ת, tau, in this case would be put instead of ה, he; and put so as if it was of frequent occurrence in Hebrew; but no such instance can be adduced. So they who are skilful in the language think that for this reason it is a noun, and with them I agree. They, however, who regard it as a verb, give this view, — “I have led him on foot, תרגלתי, teregelti; that is, as a child who cannot yet walk with a firm foot, is by degrees accustomed to do so, and the nurse, or the father, or the mother, who lead him, have a regard for his infancy; so also have I led Israel, as much as his feet could bear. But the other version is less obscure, and that is, My walking on foot was for him; that is, I humbled myself as mothers are wont to do; and hence he says, that he had carried the people on his shoulders; and we shall presently see the same comparison used. And Moses says in Deuteronomy, that the people had been carried on God’s wings, or that God had expanded his wings like the eagle who flies over her young ones. With regard to the matter itself the meaning of the Prophet is not obscure; for he means, that this people had been treated by God in a paternal and indulgent manner; and also, that the perseverance of the Lord in continuing to bestow his blessings on them had been without any fruit.
He afterwards adds, To carry on his arms Some render the expression, קחם, kochem, “He carried them,” as if the verb were in the past tense; and they consider the word, Moses, to be understood. But it is God who speaks here. Some think it to be an infinitive — “To carry,” as when one carries another on his shoulders; and this seems to be the most suitable exposition. There is in the sense no ambiguity; for the design of the Prophet is what I have already stated, which is to show that this people were most wicked in not obeying God, since they had been so kindly treated by Him. For what could they have expected more than what God had done for them? As he also says by Isaiah, ‘What, my vine, ought I to have done more than what I have done?’ So also in this place, My walking has been on foot with Ephraim; and for this end, to carry them, as when one carries another in his arms. ‘They yet,’ he says, ‘did not know that I healed them;’ that is, “Neither the beginning of my goodness, nor its continued exercise, avails anything with them. When I brought them forth from Egypt, I restored the dead to life; this kindness has been blotted out. Again, in the desert I testified, in various ways, that I was their best and most indulgent Father: I have in this instance also lost all my labour.” How so? “Because my favour has been in no way acknowledged by this perverse and foolish people.” We now then see what the Prophet meant: and he continues the same subject in the next verse.
I taught Ephraim also to fro, taking them by their alms; but they knew not that I healed them. This picture of God’s guiding and guarding care of Ephraim is very touching and tender. It is that of an affectionate parent or tender nurse teaching a child to walk by leading-strings; taking it up in the arms when stumbling or making a false step; and in case it fell curing the wound. Thus, nurse-like, God taught Ephraim, his wayward perverse child, to use his feet (so the original word imports), all the while lending considerate help and seasonable aid. He took them by the hand to guide them, that they might not stray; he took them in his arms to hold them up, that they might not stumble and to help them over any obstacle that might lie in the way; and when, left to themselves during a short season, and in order to test their strength, they did stumble and fall, he healed their hurt. And yet they did not apprehend nor appreciate God’s gracious design and dealings with them in thus guiding and guarding them, and in healing their diseases both temporal and spiritual. There is, perhaps, an allusion to Exo_15:26, “I will put none of these diseases upon thee which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee.” This promise, it will be remembered, was vouchsafed immediately after the bitter waters of Marah had been sweetened by the tree which, according to Divine direction, had been cast therein. Thus Kimchi: “And they have not acknowledged that I healed them of every sickness and every affliction, as he said, ‘I will put none of these diseases upon thee.'” The reference is rather to all those evidences of his love which God manifested to them during their forty years’ wandering in the wilderness; or perhaps to his guidance of them by ‘his Law throughout their entire history. Rashi remarks that “they knew it very well, but dissembled [literally, ‘trod it down with the heel,’ equivalent to ‘despised’] and acted, as if they did not know.” The word תדגלחי is properly taken both by Kimchi and Gesenius
(1) for הרגלחי; the former says; “The tav stands in place of he: this is the opinion of the grammarians;” the latter regards it as a solitary example of Tiphel; others again consider it a corrupt reading instead of the ordinary form of Hiph.
(2) Some take it for a noun, as J. Kimchi, who says it is “a noun after the form of חפארחי, and although the word is Milel (while in תפארחי it is Milra), yet it is the same form;” thus the translation is, “As for me, my guidance was to Ephraim;” so Jerome, “I have been as a nurse to Ephraim;” likewise also Cyril. The former explanation is simpler and also otherwise preferable.
(3) The Septuagint has the incorrect rendering συνεπόδισα, “I bound the feet of Ephraim,” which Jerome explains, “I bound the feet of Ephraim that they might not fly further from me,” though his own rendering is that given above.
The word קהם has also occasioned some difficulty and consequent diversity of explanation.
(1) Some explain it to be an infinitive construct equivalent to the Latin gerund in -do, as elsewhere. Thus in the Authorized Version it is “taking them by their arms;’ but the common form of the infinitive of this verb is קחַת; besides, the suffixes ־ָם and יָ־ו are contradictory.
(2) Olshausen and Ewald read אֶקָּהֵם in the first person, the received text having, according to the latter, maintained its place only through ורועחיו; but this is conjectural and wants manuscript authority.
(3) Still worse is Abarbanel’s interpretation, who understands the subject of the verb and the suffix of the noun as referring to Ephraim; thus: “He (Ephraim) took them (i.e. the idols) on his arms.”
(4) The correct explanation, as we think, is that of Kimchi and Gesenius, who take the verb for לְקָחָם by a not unusual aphaeris of the lamed: “He took them in his arms,” the transition from the first to the third person being justified by the pictorially descriptive style of the passage. The following comment of Kimchi is worthy of attention: “The prophet only mentions Ephraim (instead of all Israel), because it was he that made the calves. He says, ‘And how does Ephraim reward me for this that I bestowed on them so many benefits, and accustomed them to go on their feet, and did not burthen them with my commandments and my service?’ And because he has compared Ephraim to a boy, he uses the word, ‘I led them by strings.’ Just as one leads a boy that he may accustom himself to go little by little without trouble, so I led them from station to station, when I brought them out of Egypt; I led them gradually without overexertion, the cloud going before them by day, and the pillar of fire by night.”
I taught Ephraim also to go – Literally, “and I set Ephraim on his feet;” i. e., while they were rebelling, I was helping and supporting them, as a nurse doth her child, teaching it to go with little steps, step by step, “accustoming it to go by little and little without weariness;” and not only so, but “taking them by their arms;” or it may be equally translated, “He took them in His arms,” i. e., God not only gently “taught” them “to walk,” but when they were wearied, “He took them up in His arms,” as a nurse doth a child when tired with its little attempts to walk. Such was the love and tender care of God, guiding and upholding Israel in His ways which He taught him, guarding him from weariness, or, if wearied, taking him in the arms of His mercy and refreshing him. So Moses says, “In the wilderness thou hast seen, how that the Lord thy God bare thee, as a man doth bear his son, in all the way that ye went, until ye came unto this place” Deu_1:31; and he expostulates with God, “Have I conceived all this people? have I begotten them, that Thou shouldest say unto me, Carry them in thy bosom, as a nursing father beareth his sucking child, unto the land which Thou swarest unto their father’s?” Num_11:12. : “Briefly yet magnificently doth this place hint at the wondrous patience of God, whereof Paul too speaks, “for forty years suffered He their manner’s in the wilderness” Act_13:18.
For as a nursing father beareth patiently with a child, who hath not yet come to years of discretion, and, although at times he be moved to strike it in return, yet mostly he sootheth its childish follies with blandishments, and, ungrateful though it be, carries it in his arms, so the Lord God, whose are these words, patiently bore with the unformed people, ignorant of the spiritual mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, and although He killed the bodies of many of them in the wilderness yet the rest He soothed with many and great miracles, “leading them about, and instructing them, (as Moses says) keeping them as the apple of His eye” Deu_32:10.
But they knew not that I healed them – They laid it not to heart, and therefore what they knew with their understanding was worse than ignorance. : “I who was a Father, became a nurse, and Myself carried My little one in My arms, that he should not be hurt in the wilderness, or scared by heat or darkness. By day I was a cloud; by night, a column of fire, that I might by My light illumine, and heal those whom I had protected. And when they had sinned and had made the calf, I gave them place for repentance, and they knew not that I healed them, so as, for forty years, to close the wound of idolatry, restore them to their former health.”
“The Son of God carried us in His arms to the Father, when He went forth carrying His Cross, and on the wood of the Cross stretched out His arms for our redemption. Those too doth Christ carry daily in His arms, whom He continually entreateth, comforteth, preserveth, so gently, that with much alacrity and without any grievous hindrance they perform every work of God, and with heart enlarged run, rather than walk, the way of God’s commandments. Yet do these need great caution, that they be clothed with great circumspection and humility, and despise not others. Else Christ would say of them, “They knew not that I healed them.”
The Prophet states, first, that this people had not been severely dealt with, as either slaves, or oxen, or asses, are wont to be treated. He had said before, that the people of Israel were like a heifer, which shakes off the yoke, and in wantonness loves only the treading of corn. But though the perverseness of the people was so great, yet God shows here that he had not used extreme rigour: I have drawn him, he says, with human cords and lovely bands By the cords of man, he means humane government. “I have not,” he says, “treated you as slaves, but dealt with you as with children; and I have not regarded you as cattle, I have not driven you into a stall; but I have only drawn you with lovely bands.” The sum of the whole is, that the government which God had laid on the people was a certain and singular token of his paternal favour, so that the people could not complain of too much rigour, as if God had considered their disposition, and had used a hard wedge (as the common proverb is) for a hard knot; for if God had dealt thus with the people, they could have objected, and said, that they had not been kindly drawn by him, and that it was no wonder if they did not obey, since they had been so roughly treated. “But there is no ground for them,” the Lord says, “to allege that I have used severity: for I could not have dealt more kindly with them, I have drawn them with human cords; I have not otherwise governed them than as a father his own children; I have been bountiful towards them. I indeed wished to do them good, and, as it was right, required obedience from them. I have at the same time laid on them a yoke, not servile, nor such as is wont to be laid on brute animals; but I was content with paternal discipline.” Since then such kindness had no influence over them, is it not right to conclude that their wickedness is irreclaimable and extreme?
He then adds I have been to them like those who raise up the yoke upon the cheeks “I have not laden you,” he says, “with too heavy burdens, as oxen and other beasts are wont to be burdened; but I have raised up the yoke upon the cheeks. I have chosen rather to bear the yoke myself, and to ease these ungodly and wicked men of their burden.” And God does not in vain allege this, for we know that when he uses his power, and vindicates his authority, he does this not to burden the people, as earthly kings are wont to do; but he bears the burden which he lays on men. It is no wonder then that he says now, that he had lifted the yoke upon the cheeks of his people, like one who wishes not to burden his ox, but bears up the yoke himself with his own hands, lest the ox should faint through weariness.
He afterwards adds, And I have made them to eat in quietness, or, “I have brought meat to them.” Some think the verb אוכיל, aukil to be in the future tense, and that אוכיל, aukil is put for אאכיל, aakil; that is, I will cause them to eat; and that the future is to be resolved into the past: and it is certain that the word אט, ath, means tranquil sometimes. Then it will be, “I have caused them quietly to eat.” But another exposition is more commonly received; as the word אט, ath, is derived from נטה, nathe, to raise, it is the same as though the Prophet had said, that meat had been brought to them.
God then does here in various ways enhance the ingratitude and wickedness of the people, because they had not acknowledged his paternal kindness, when he had himself so kindly set forth his favour before their eyes; I have, he says, extended meat to them; that is, “I have not thrown it on the ground, nor placed it too high for them; they have not toiled in getting it; but I have, as it were, brought it with mine own hand and set it before them, that they might eat without any trouble.” In short, God declares that he had tried in every way to find out, whether there was any meekness or docility in the people of Israel, and that he had ill bestowed all his blessings; for this people were blind to favours so kind, to such as clearly proved, that God had in every way showed himself to be a Father. It follows —
I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love. This verse contains a further representation of Jehovah’s fatherly guidance of Israel. The cords of a man are such as parents use in leading weak or young children. Bands of lore qualify more closely the preceding expression, “cords of a man,” and are the opposite of those which men employ in taming or breaking wild and unmanageable animals. The explanation of Rashi is similar: “I have always led them with tender cords such as these with which a man leads his child, as if he said with loving guidance.” Aben Ezra and Kimchi, in their explanations, carry out more fully the same idea. The former says, “The bands of love are not like the bands which are fastened on the neck of a plowing heifer;” the latter, “Because he compared Ephraim to a heifer, and people lead a heifer with cords, he says, ‘I have led Israel by the cords of a man, and not the cords of a heifer which one drags along with resistance, but as a man draws his fellow-man without compelling him to go with resistance: even so I have led them after a gentle method;’ and therefore he afterward calls them (cords of a man) bands of love.” The LXX; taking חֶבֶל from חָבַל, in the sense of” injure,” “destroy,” have the mistaken rendering ἐν διαφθορᾶ ἀνθρώτων … ἐξέτεινα αὐτοὺς, “When men were destroyed I drew them.” The other Greek versions have the correct rendering. And I was to them as they that take off the yoke. The word herim does not mean “to lift up on” and so “impose a yoke,” as some think, nor “to take away the yoke,” but “to lift it up.” The figure is that of a humane and compassionate husbandman raising upwards or pushing backwards the yoke over the cheeks or dewlaps of the ox, that it may not press too heavily upon him or hinder him while eating. The reference is, according to Kimchi, to “taking the yoke off the neck, and letting it hang on the jaw, that it may not pull but rest from labor one or more hours of the day.” The fact thus figuratively expressed is, not the deliverance from the bondage of Egypt, but the loving-kindness of Jehovah in lightening the fulfillment of the Law to Israel.
(2) The LXX. omit the word עֹל, yoke, and strangely translates the clause, “I will be to them as a man smiting (another) on the cheeks.” And I laid meat unto them.
The older and many modern interpreters,
(1) taking וְאַט as the first person future apoc; Hiph; from נטח, translate, “And I reached them food to eat,” namely, the manna in the wilderness. This would require וָאַט, which some substitute for the present reading.
(2) Ewald, Keil, and others take אט as an adverb in the sense of” gradually,” “gently,” translating, “And gently towards him did I give him feral,” or “I gently fed him.” Some, again, as Kimchi, take
(a) אוכיל as a noun, after the form of אופיר; and others
(b) take it to be an anomalous form for אַאַכִיל, the first person future Hiph; like אוֹבִיר for אַאֲבִיד (Jer_46:8).
(3) In this clause also the Septuagint, probably reading as follows: וֵאַט אֵלָיו אוּכַל לוֹ, translates, Ἐπιβλέψομαι πρὸς αὐτὸν δυνήσομαι αὐτῷ, “I will have respect to him; I will prevail with him.” Continuing the several clauses of this verse, we may express the meaning of the whole as follows: “Cords of a man” denote humane methods which Jehovah employed in dealing with and drawing his people—not such cords as oxen or other animals are drawn by; while “bands of love” is a kindred expression, explaining and emphasizing the former, and signifying such leading-strings as those with which a parent lovingly guides his child. The means employed by God for the help, encouragement, and support of his people were kind as they were bountiful. His benevolent and beneficent modes of procedure are further exhibited by another figure of like origin; for just as a considerate and compassionate man, a humane husbandman, gives respite and relief to the oxen at work by loosening the yoke and lifting it up off the neck upon the cheeks; and thus affords not only temporary rest and ease, but also allows an occasional mouthful or more of food, or even abundant provender, to the animal which toils in the yoke while plowing or at other work; so Jehovah extended to Israel, notwithstanding their frequent acts of unfaithfulness, his sparing mercy and tender compassions, supplying them in abundant measure with all that they needed for the sustenance and even comforts of life. Thus their sin in turning aside to other gods, which were no gods, in quest of larger benefits and more liberal support and succor, was all the more inexcusable.
I drew them with the cords of a man – o: “Wanton heifers such as was Israel, are drawn with ropes; but although Ephraim struggled against Me, I would not draw him as a beast, but I drew him as a man, (not a servant, but a son) with cords of love.” “Love is the magnet of love.” : “The first and chief commandment of the law, is not of fear, but of love, because He willeth those whom He commandeth, to be sons rather than servants.” : “Our Lord saith, ‘No man cometh unto Me, except the father who hath sent me, draw him.’ He did not say, lead ‘him,’ but ‘draw him.’ This violence is done to the heart, not to the body. Why marvel? Believe and thou comest; love and thou art drawn. Think it not a rough and uneasy violence: it is sweet, alluring; the sweetness draws thee. Is not a hungry sheep drawn, when the grass is shewn it? It is not, I ween, driven on in body, but is bound tight by longing. So do thou too come to Christ. Do not conceive of long journeyings.
When thou believest, then thou comest. For to Him who is everywhere, people come by loving, not by traveling.” So the Bride saith, “draw me and I will run after Thee” Son_1:4. “How sweet,” says Augustine, when converted, “did it at once become to me, to want the sweetnesses of those toys; and what I feared to be parted from, was now a joy to part with. For Thou didst cast them forth from me, Thou true and highest Sweetness. Thou castedst them forth, and for them enteredst in Thyself, sweeter than all pleasure, though not to flesh and blood; brighter than all light, but more hidden than all depths; higher than all honor, but not to the high in their own conceits” .
“Christ “drew” us also “with the cords of a man,” when for us He became Man, our flesh, our Brother, in order that by teaching, suffering, dying for us, He might in a wondrous way bind and draw us to Himself and to God; that He might redeem the earthly Adam, might transform and make him heavenly;” : “giving us ineffable tokens of His love. For He giveth Himself to us for our Food; He giveth us sacraments; by Baptism and repentance He conformeth us anew to original righteousness. Hence, He saith, “I, if I be lifted up from the earth, shall draw all men unto me” Joh_12:32; and Paul, “I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” Gal_2:20. This most loving drawing, our dullness and weakness needoth, who ever, without grace, grovel amidst vile and earthly things.”
“All the methods and parts of God’s government are twined together, as so many twisted cords of love from Him, so ordered, that they ought to draw man with all his heart to love Him again.” : “Man, the image of the Mind of God, is impelled to zeal for the service of God, not by fear, but by love. No band is mightier, nor constrains more firmly all the feelings of the mind. For it holdeth not the body enchained, while the mind revolteth and longeth to break away, but it so bindeth to itself the mind and will, that it should will, long for, compass, nought beside, save how, even amid threats of death, to obey the commands of God. Bands they are, but bands so gentle and so passing sweet, that we must account them perfect freedom and the highest dignity.”
And I was to them as they that take off – (literally, “that lift up”) the yoke on their jaws, and I laid meat unto them Thus explained, the words carry on the description of God’s goodness, that He allowed not the yoke of slavery to weigh heavy upon them, as He saith, “I am the Lord your God, Which brought you out of the land of Egypt, that ye should not be their bondmen, and I have broken the bands of your yoke, and made you go upright” Lev_26:13; and God appealeth to them, “Wherein have I wearied thee? testify against Me” Mic_6:3.
But the words seem more naturally to mean, “I was to them,” in their sight, I was regarded by them, “as they that lift up the yoke on their jaws,” i. e., that raise the yoke, (not being already upon them) to place it “over their jaws.” “For plainly the yoke never rests on the jaws, but only passed over them, either when put on the neck, or taken off.” This, God seemed to them to be doing, ever placing some new yoke or constraint upon them. “And I, God” adds, all the while “was placing meat before them;” i. e., while God was taking all manner of care of them, and providing for them “all things richly to enjoy,” He was regarded by them as one who, instead of “laying food before them, was lifting the yoke over their jaws.” God did them all good, and they thought it all hardship.
Here the Prophet denounces a new punishment, that the people in vain hoped that Egypt would be a place of refuge or an asylum to them; for the Lord would draw them away to another quarter. For the Israelites had cherished this hope, that if by any chance the Assyrians should be too powerful for them, there would yet be a suitable refuge for them in Egypt among their friends, with whom they had made a treaty. Since, then, they promised themselves a hospitable exile in Egypt, the Prophet here exposes their vain confidence: “This their expectation,” he says, “that they shall find a way open to Egypt, shall disappoint the people: it is shut up,” he says, They shall not return to the land of Egypt, but the Assyrian shall be their king. By saying, that the Assyrian shall rule over them, he means that the people would become exiles under the Assyrians, which indeed happened. He then anticipates here all the vain hopes by which the people deceived themselves, and by which they hardened themselves against all the threatening of God. “There is no reason for them,” he says, “to look towards Egypt; for the Lord will not allow them to go there; for he will draw them to Assyria.”
He afterwards gives the reason, Because they have been unwilling, he says, to return This “return” is to be taken in another sense: but there is here a striking similarity in the words. They thought that there would be to them a free passage into Egypt; and yet they had been unwilling to pass over unto God, when he had so often called them. The Prophet therefore says that a return into Egypt was now denied them, inasmuch as they had been unwilling to return to God. The import of what is said is, that when men perversely resist God, they in vain hope for any free movements either to this or that quarter; for the Lord will hold them tied and bound. As it is wont to be done to wild beasts, who, when they show too much ferocity, are shut up in cages or bound with chains, or as it is usually done to frantic men, who are bound with strong bands; so also the Lord does with obstinate men; he binds them fast, so that they cannot move a finger. This, then, is the meaning of the Prophet.
There is, at the same time, to be understood, an implied comparison between the former bondage they endured in Egypt, and the new bondage which awaited them. They had known of what sort was the hospitality of Egypt, and yet so great a blindness possessed their minds, that they wished to return there. Their fathers had been kindly enough received; but their posterity were grievously burdened; nay, they were not far from being entirely destroyed. What madness was this, to wish of themselves to return to Egypt, when they knew how great was the ferociousness and cruelty of the Egyptians? But as I have said, something more grievous awaited them; they were not worthy to return to Egypt. To return there would have been indeed a dreadful calamity; but the Lord would not, however open a way for them to go there; for he would force them to pass to another country; yea, they were to be by force dragged away by their conquerors into Assyria. The drift of the whole is, that though the people had been cruelly treated in Egypt, there was now drawing nigh a more grievous tyranny; for the Assyrians would double the injuries, and the violence, and all kinds of wrongs and reproaches, which had been exercised against this people.
Some think that it was added for consolation, that God, though greatly provoked by the people, was yet unwilling to lead them again into Egypt, lest the former redemption should be made void; but that a middle course was prepared by which he would chastise the ungrateful and yet retain them as his peculiar possession. But I have already shown what I mostly approve. At the same time, whichever view is taken, we see how grievous and severe was the denunciation of the Prophet.
He shall not return into the land of Egypt, but the Assyrian shall be his king, because they refused to return. These words sound like an announcement that the season of Divine grace, so long extended to that sin-laden people, had at length expired; and that on account of their stubborn and on-grateful rebellion against Jehovah they would be forced, to go into exile and become subject to the monarch of Assyria.
(1) They had been threatened with a return to Egypt and its bondage in Hos_8:13, “They shall return to Egypt;” and Hos_9:3, “Ephraim shall return to Egypt;” vet now God, without any change of purpose, changes his mode of procedure, not allowing them to return to Egypt, but dooming them to a worse bondage under the Assyrians.
(2) Having been tributary to Assyria from the time of Menahem, they had revolted and applied to Egypt for help; now, however, no help would be permitted to come from Egypt nor even an opportunity of applying for it allowed. The power of Assyria would be paramount; instead, therefore, of native kings and Egyptian auxiliaries, Israel would have to submit to that iron yoke. However desirous of returning to Egypt, they would have neither the power nor the privilege of doing so. And this poor privilege of a choice of masters they were refused as a just retribution, because they had not repented of their sin and returned to God. Various methods have been resorted to, to harmonize the apparent contradiction alluded to, that is, between the affirmative and negative statements about Israel’s return into Egypt.
(1) Dathe, Eichhorn, and De Wette agree with the LXX. in reading לוֹ instead of לא, and connecting it with the preceding verse; but the other versions, as well as the manuscripts, support the received text.
(2) Jerome and Rosenmüller explain it of the people’s desire to conclude an alliance with Egypt in order to throw off the yoke of Assyria, being frustrated by the superior power of the latter; thus the sense is that they shall not return any more to Egypt, as they had lately done by their ambassadors, to seek help from that land or its people. Then he assigns the reason why they would not again send ambassadors to Egypt for the purpose indicated, because the Assyrian alone would be their king. The objection to this is that lo yashubu must refer to the whole people rather than to their ambassador going to and fro between the countries.
(3) Ewald, Maurer, and others cut the knot by taking lo interrogatively, as if it were halo, and thus equivalent to an affirmative, i.e. “Shall they not return to Egypt and the Assyrian be their king?” The expected answer would be in the affirmative. Neither grammar nor context sanctions this interrogative sense.
(4) According to Hitzig, Keil, Simson, and others, we are to understand Egypt in the previous places, viz. Hos_8:13 and Hos_9:3, as received of the land of bondage, where in the present passage the typical sense is inadmissible, owing to the contrast with Assyria. Into Egypt Israel should not return, lest the object of the Exodus might seem frustrated, but a worse lot lay before them—another and harder bondage awaited them; the King of Assyria would be their king and reign over them, and all because of their impenitence and refusal to return to Jehovah.
The following is the explanation of Kimchi: “They should not have returned to the land of Egypt to seek help; I had already said to them, ‘Ye shall henceforth return no more that way;’ for if they had returned to me, they would not have needed help from Egypt. And against their will Assyria rules over them, and they serve him and send him a present year by year. And why is all this? Because they refused, etc.; as if he said (they refused) to return to me; for if they had returned to me, foreign kings (literally, ‘kings of the nations’) would not have ruled ever them, but they would have ruled over the nations as they had done in the days of David and Solomon, when they did my will; and so have I assured them, ‘Thou shall reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over thee.'” The root of מאן is cognate with מנע, to hold back, refuse; the le strengthens the connection of the objectival infinitive with the governing verb; the ellipsis of אֵלֶי is obvious.
He shall not return to Egypt – Some had probably returned already to Egypt; the rest were looking to Egypt for help, and rebelling against the Assyrian, (whose servant their king Hoshea had become), and making alliance with So king of Egypt. The prophet tells them, as a whole, that they shall not return to Egypt to which they looked, but should have the Assyrian for their king, whom they would not. “They refused to return” to God, who lovingly called them; therefore, what they desired, they should not have; and what they feared, that they should have. They would not have God for their king; therefore “the Assyrian” should “be their king,” and a worse captivity than that of Egypt should befall them. For, from “that” they were delivered; from this, now hanging over them, never should they be restored.
As it was difficult to persuade proud people that the overthrow was at hand, which Hosea had foretold, seeing, as they did, that they were furnished with many defences, it is therefore now added, that their fortified cities would not prevent the enemy to break through, and to devastate the whole country, and to lead away the people captive. We now understand how this verse is connected with the last. The Prophet had threatened exile; but as the Israelites thought themselves safe in their nests, he adds, that there was no reason for them to trust in their fortresses, for the Lord could by the sword destroy all their cities.
He therefore says, The sword shall fall on their cities. The verb חול, chul, means to abide, and to encamp, and sometimes to fall or rush upon: and this second sense is more suitable to this place. Some, however, render it, The sword shall abide on the cities until it consume them. But as to the meaning, there is not much difference. I will, however, briefly state what I deem the right view. The sword then shall fall, or rush, upon his cities; and further, it shall consume his bars The Hebrews often call bars or bolts בדים “badim ”, still oftener, branches, or members, — the branches of a tree, or the members of man. Hence some take the word metaphorically, as meaning towns and villages; for they are, as it were, the branches or members of cities. Others, however, explain it as signifying sons, who grow from their parents as branches from the tree: but this seems too far-fetched. I do not disapprove of the opinion, that the Prophet refers here to towns and villages, which are, as it were, the appendages of cities, as branches spread out here and there from the tree. The sense then is not amiss, that the sword will consume and devour towns and villages, when it shall fall on the cities. But what I have already said of bolts seems more suitable to the design of the Prophet. We must at the same time consider the word בדים, bedim, as including a part for the whole; for bolts were only a part of the fortifications; but the gates, being closed and fastened, render the cities strong. So this place, by taking a part for the whole, may be thus expounded, that the sword, when it fell on cities, would consume and destroy whatever strength and defence they possessed.
He at the same time mentions the cause, Because, he says, of their own counsels No doubt, he added this expression, because the Israelites thought themselves wise; for ungodly men arrogate to themselves much prudence; and this they do, that they may, as it were, from their height look down on God, and laugh at every instruction. Since then they who despise God seem to themselves to be very wise, and to be fortified by their good counsels, the Prophet shows that the cause of ruin to the Israelites would be, that they were swollen with this diabolical prudence, and would not condescend to obey the word of the Lord.
And the sword shall abide on his cities, and shall consume his branches, and devour them. A more accurate rendering would be, and the sword shall sweep round in its cities, and destroy its bolts and devour. Nay, they could not free themselves from invasion and attack. The sword of war would whirl down upon their cities and consume the branches, that is, the villages, or the city bars, or the strong warriors set for defense. Some understand the word so variously interpreted in the sense of “liars,” and refer it to the prophets, priests, and politicians who spake falsehood and. acted deceitfully. The word הלח is rendered
(1) “the sword,” as the principal weapon in ancient warfare anti the symbol of war’s destructive power shall sweep round in, circulate, or make the round of the cities of Israel; but
(2) others,” whirl down,” “light on ;” thus both Rashi and Kimchi. Again, בַדּים is, as already intimated, variously rendered. The most appropriate translation
(a) is (literally, “poles for carrying the ark,” Exo_25:13) “bolts or bars” for securing gates, the root being בדד, to separate.
(b) Some explain it as a figure for “mighty men;” so Jerome and the Targum, as also Rashi: “It destroys his heroes and consumes them.” this is the meaning of the word preferred by Gesenius.
(c) Ewald understands it in the sense of “fortresses,” especially on the frontier, by which a land is shut against or opened to the enemy.
(d) Aben Ezra and Kimchi take it to mean “branches,” i.e. villages, and are followed by the Authorized Version. “The explanation of בי,” says Kimchi, “is ‘ branches,’ and it is a figure for villages, for he had already mentioned his cities; and villages are related to cities as branches to a tree; in like manner they are called ‘ daughters,’ being related to a city as daughters to a mother.”
(e) The LXX. render it by ἐν ταῖς χερσὶν αὐτοῦ, having read בְיָדָיו, as also the Syriac. Because of their own counsels. The cause of all their calamitous invasions, which city gates barred and bolted could not shut out, was their evil counsels in departing from the Lord, as Kimchi correctly explains: “All this comes upon them in consequence of their evil counsel, because they have forsaken my service to serve other gods.” Rashi draws attention to the peculiarity of the accentuation—tasha and sellug—to separate it from the preceding word. The Septuagint here again blunders, obviously reading וְאָכְלוּ, and translating, “And shall eat (the fruit) of their evil counsel.”
And the sword shall abide on his cities – Literally, “shall light, shall whirl” down upon. It shall come with violence upon them as a thing whirled with force, and then it shall alight and abide, to their destruction; as Jeremiah says, “a whirlwind of the Lord is gone forth in fury, a grievous whirlwind; it shall fall grievously (literally, whirl down) on the head of the wicked” Jer_23:19. As God said to David, after the murder of Uriah, “Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thy house” 2Sa_12:10, so as to Israel, whose kings were inaugurated by bloodshed. By God’s appointment, “blood will have blood.” Their own sword first came down and rested upon them; then the sword of the Assyrian. So after they “had killed the Holy One and the Just,” the sword of the Zealots came down and rested upon them, before the destruction by the Romans.
And shall consume his branches – that is, his mighty men. It is all one, whether the mighty men are so called, by metaphor, from the “branches of” a tree, or from the “bars” of a city, made out of those branches. Their mighty men, so far from escaping for their might, should be the first to perish.
And devour them, because of their own counsels – Their counsels, wise after this world’s wisdom, were without God, against the counsels of God. Their destruction then should come from their own wisdom, as it is said, “Let them fall by their own counsels” Psa_5:10, and Job saith, “He taketh the wise in their own craftiness, and the counsel of the cunning is carried headlong” Job_5:13, i. e., it is the clean contrary of what they intend or plan; they purpose, as they think, warily; an unseen power whirls their scheme on and precipitates it. “And his own counsel shall cast him down” Job_18:7; and above; “Israel shall be ashamed through his own counsels” Job_10:6. Hoshea’s conspiracy with So, which was to have been his support against Assyria, brought Assyria against him, and his people into captivity.
This verse is variously rendered. Some explain the word תלואים, teluaim, as signifying “perplexed;” as though the Prophet had said, that the people would suffer a just punishment through being anxious and looking around them, and yet finding no comfort; for this would be the reward of their defection or apostasy. Hence he says, My people are in suspense; that is, there is no wonder that the Israelites are now tormented with great anxiety, and find no end to their evils; for they who have rebelled against the Lord are worthy of being thus bound fast by him. It is the fruit of their defection that they are now so full of sorrow, and also of despair. This is one exposition. Others say that God here complains of the wickedness of the people, as of those who deliberated whether they ought to repent. They then take suspense for doubt, My people are in suspense; that is, they debate on the subject as on a doubtful matter, when I exhort them to repent, and they cannot at once decide what to do, but alternate between divers opinions, and now incline to one thing and then to another; as if truly the subject itself made it necessary for them to deliberate. Doubtless what is right is in no way hid from them: but as they are unwilling, they seek for themselves, by evasions, some excuses for doubting; for the Prophets cry to them, and no one extols them. This is the second exposition.
It must at the same time be observed, that the word משובת, meshubat, is variously taken; for the first render it, “turning away,” and the “jod ” that is affixed must then be expounded passively, and must mean their turning away from God, because the Israelites had fallen away from him; as in Isaiah chapter 56 he calls that the house of his prayer in which the people were wont to pray. Then the turning away from God, according to them, is to be taken passively, because the people were alienated from him. Others render it, “conversion.” But the Hebrew doctors will have this word to be ever taken in a bad sense, and affirm that there is no place where it signifies any thing but rebellion or apostasy. Since it is so, I am inclined to consider it to be turning away; and thus the second sense, that the people deliberated whether they ought to hear the admonitions of the Prophets, will not stand.
The Prophet also seems to me to mean what is different from what I have referred to in the first place, as the opinion of those who say, My people are in suspense; that is, they anxiously torment themselves on account of their defection, because I punish them for their apostasy; through which it has happened, that, forsaking me, they have wandered after their own inventions. But I take the passage otherwise, as I have already said, My people are fastened; that is, my people have not only once departed from me, but they are, as it were, fastened in their defection. He says, that they were fastened, not that they were sorrowful and endured great tortures, and found their affairs perplexed; but that they were fastened, because they remained obstinate; as when one says, that a man is fastened to a thing, when he cannot be moved. This being fastened, is indeed nothing else but the obstinacy of the people. They were then fastened to defection.
He afterwards adds, To him on high they call them; none at all rises up What an indefinite sentence signifies we stated yesterday. The Prophet means that instruction had been given the people, and that many witnesses or preachers had been sent by the Lord, but that all this had been wholly useless. Hence he says, They call them to him on high, no one raises up himself. Some indeed consider the word, God, to be understood; and this is the commonly received opinion; but in my judgement they are mistaken; for the Prophet, speaking of the Israelites, doubtless means that they remained in the same state, and were not moved by any instruction to make any progress, or to show any sign of repentance.
Hence,no one rises up. He uses the singular number, and puts down the particle יחד, ichad, as though he said, “There is no one, from the first to the last, who is touched with grief, for they continue obstinate in their wickedness.” And when he says, No one raises up himself, he seems to allude to the word, fastened. They are then fastened to their defection; and when the Prophets cry and diligently exhort them to repent, they do not rise up; that is, they do not aspire to God; and this indeed they neglect with one consent, as if they all alike blindly united in one and the same wickedness.
In this verse then the Prophet brings again to view the sins of the people, that it might more fully appear that God threatened them so dreadfully not without a cause; for they who were so perversely rebellious against God were worthy of the most grievous punishment. This is the sum of the whole. Let us now proceed —
And my people are bent to backsliding from me. This first clause of the verse is very expressive, every word almost having an emphasis of its own. With all their sinfulness and shortcomings, Israel was still the people of God—my people; they were guilty of the sin of backsliding, and of backsliding from God, the best of benefactors and their chief good. Nor was it occasionally and after long intervals of time that they backslided; it was their habit, their tendency. They were suspended on, or rather fastened on, backsliding. Though they called them to the Most High, none at all would exalt him; margin, together they exalted him not. This second clause signifies either
(1) that the prophets called Israel from their idols to the Host High, yet none exalted him (literally, “together they did not or would not exalt him”) by abandoning their idols and abstaining from backsliding; or,
(2) “though they call him (Israel) upwards, yet not one of them all will lift himself up,” that is, they together—one and all—refused or neglected to lift themselves upward towards God or goodness.
The word תלוּאיס is equivalent to תְלֻאִים, the same as תלוים, from תלא, equivalent to תָלָה, so that it signifies, according to Keil,
(1) “suspended,” “hung up, hanging fast upon,” “impaled on; ‘ Hengstenberg,
(2) “swaying about from inconstancy,” and “in danger of falling away;” but Pusey seems to combine both in the original sense of the word, and explains it as follows: “Literally, hung to it! as we say, ‘a man’s whole being hangs on a thing.’ A thing hung to or on another sways to and fro within certain limits, but its relation to that on which it is hung remains immovable, Its power of motion is restrained within these limits. So Israel, so the sinner, however he veer to and fro in the details and circumstances of his sin, is fixed and immovable in Iris adherence to his sin itself.” Though Rashi and the Targum of Jonathan make משובה as synonymous with תשובתּ, thus: “When the prophets teach them to return to me, they are in suspense whether to return or not to return; with difficulty do they return to me,”—they are, however, distinguished as turning away from and turning to God—aversion from and conversion to him; while the suffix ־ִי is objective, that is, “My people are hung to apostatizing from me.”
The phrase אֶל־עַל is variously interpreted, by some as
(1) “upwards,” the prophets being the subject; thus Rashi: “To the matter that is above him (Israel) the prophets call him unitedly; but my people do not lift themselves up nor desire to do it.” Corruption was so deeply seated in Israel, that the idle mass gave no response to the voice of the prophets urging them upwards.
(2) Aben Ezra and Kimchi both take על as an adjective, and synonymous with אֶלְון, the Most High. Kimchi explains as follows: “He says, My people oscillate between distress and freedom; sometimes distress comes upon them, and again they are in the condition of freedom, and this takes place for their backsliding from me, as if he said, because of the backsliding and rebellion which they practice against me … The prophets call them constantly to return to God most high.” So Aben Ezra: “The interpretation is, the callers call him to the Most High, and they are the prophets of God; but they all in one way raise not the head.”
(3) Jerome takes it for עֹל, a yoke, and renders accordingly: “But a yoke shall be imposed on them together, that is not taken away.”
The verb ירְוֹמְם signifies,
(1) according to Gesenius and many others, “to celebrate with praises,” or “extol.” It is rather
(2) “to lift one’s self up,” “rise upwards;” nor is it necessary with this sense to supply ירְאֹשׁוֹ, his head, with Grotius, nor yet to understand it written for or in the sense of ירְוֹמַם, with Joseph Kimchi. Similarly the Syriac: “They call him to God, but they think together, conspire, and do not raise themselves.” The word יתד is “all together,” and therefore יַחַדלא is “no one.” The LXX. translate
(3) the second clause as follows: “But God shall be angry with his precious things, and shall not at all exalt him,” having probably read וְאֶל־עַל יְקָרָיו יִהַר
And My people are bent to backsliding from Me – Literally, “are hung to it!” as we say, “a man’s whole being “hangs” on a thing.” A thing “hung to” or “on” another, sways to and fro within certain limits, but its relation to that on which it is hung, remains immovable. Its power of motion is restrained within those limits. So Israel, so the sinner, however he veer to and fro in the details and circumstances of his sin, is fixed and immovable in his adherence to his sin itself. Whatever else Israel did, on one thing his whole being, as a nation, depended, on “backsliding” or aversion from God. The political existence of Israel, as a separate kingdom, depended on his worship of the calves, “the sin wherewith” Jeroboam “made Israel to sin.” This was the ground of their “refusing to return” Hos_11:5, that, through habitual sin, they were no longer in their own power: they were fixed in evil.
Though they called them to the most High – Literally, “called him.” As one man, the prophets called Israel; as one man, Israel refused to return; “none at all would exalt” Him, literally, “together he exalteth Him not.”
Here God consults what he would do with the people: and first, indeed, he shows that it was his purpose to execute vengeance, such as the Israelites deserved, even wholly to destroy them: but yet he assumes the character of one deliberating, that none might think that he hastily fell into anger, or that, being soon excited by excessive fury, he devoted to ruin those who had lightly sinned, or were guilty of no great crimes. That no one then might assign to God an anger too fervid, he says here, How shall I set thee aside, Ephraim? How shall I deliver thee up, Israel? How shall I set thee as Sodom? By these expressions God shows what the Israelites deserved, and that he was now inclined to inflict the punishment of which they were worthy and yet not without repentance, or at least not without hesitation. He afterwards adds in the next clause, This I will not do; my heart is within me changed; I now alter my purpose, and my repenting are brought back again; that is it was in my mind to destroy you all, but now a repenting, which reverses that design, lays hold on me. We now apprehend what the Prophet means.
As to this mode of speaking, it appears indeed at the first glance to be strange that God should make himself like mortals in changing his purposes and in exhibiting himself as wavering. God, we know, is subject to no passions; and we know that no change takes place in him. What then do these expressions mean, by which he appears to be changeable? Doubtless he accommodates himself to our ignorances whenever he puts on a character foreign to himself. And this consideration exposes the folly as well as the impiety of those who bring forward single words to show that God is, as it were like mortals; as those unreasonable men do who at this day seek to overturn the eternal providence of God, and to blot out that election by which he makes a difference between men. “O!” they say, “God is sincere, and he has said that he willeth not the death of a sinner, but rather that he should be converted and live.” God must then in this case remain as it were uncertain, and depend on the free-will of every one: it is hence in the power of man either to procure destruction to himself, or to come to salvation. God must in the meantime wait quietly as to what men will do, and can determine nothing except through their free-will. While these insane men thus trifle, they think themselves to be supported by this invincible reason, that God’s will is one and simple. But if the will of God be one, it does not hence follow that he does not accommodate himself to men, and put on a character foreign to himself, as much as a regard for our salvation will bear or require. So it is in this place. God does not in vain introduce himself as being uncertain; for we hence learn that he is not carried away too suddenly to inflict punishment, even when men in various ways provoke his vengeance. This then is what God shows by this mode of speaking. At the same time, we know that what he will do is certain, and that his decree depends not on the free-will of men; for he is not ignorant of what we shall do. God then does not deliberate as to himself, but with reference to men. This is one thing.
But we must also bear in mind what I have already said, that the Prophet here strikes with terror proud and profane despisers by setting before their eyes their own destruction, and by showing how little short they were of the lot of Gomorra and other cities. “For what remains,” the Lord says, “but that I should set you as Sodom and Zeboim? This condition and this recompense awaits you, if I execute the judgement which has been already as it were decreed.” Not that God would immediately do this; but he only reminds the Israelites of what they deserved, and of what would happen to them, except the Lord dealt mercifully with them. Thus much of the first part of the verse.
But when he says that his heart was changed, and that his repentings were brought back again, the same mode of speaking after the manner of men is adopted; for we know that these feelings belong not to God; he cannot be touched with repentance, and his heart cannot undergo changes. To imagine such a thing would be impiety. But the design is to show, that if he dealt with the people of Israel as they deserved, they would now be made like Sodom and Gomorra. But as God was merciful, and embraced his people with paternal affection, he could not forget that he was a Father, but would be willing to grant pardon; as is the case with a father, who, on seeing his son’s wicked disposition, suddenly feels a strong displeasure, and then, being seized with relenting, is inclined to spare him. God then declares that he would thus deal with his people.
Keil & Delitzsch
They deserved to be utterly destroyed for this, and would have been if the compassion of God had not prevented it. With this turn a transition is made in Hos_11:8 from threatening to promise. Hos_11:8. “How could I give thee up, O Ephraim! surrender thee, O Israel! how could I give thee up like Admah, make thee like Zeboim! My heart has changed within me, my compassion is excited all at once.
Hos_11:9. I will not execute the burning heat of my wrath, I will not destroy Ephraim again: for I am God, and not man, the Holy One in the midst of thee: and come not into burning wrath.” “How thoroughly could I give thee up!” sc. if I were to punish thy rebellion as it deserved. Nâthan, to surrender to the power of the enemy, like miggēn in Gen_14:20. And not that alone, but I could utterly destroy thee, like Admah and Zeboim, the two cities of the valley of Siddim, which were destroyed by fire from heaven along with Sodom and Gomorrha. Compare Deu_29:22, where Admah and Zeboim are expressly mentioned along with the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha, which stand alone in Gen_19:24. With evident reference to this passage, in which Moses threatens idolatrous Israel with the same punishment, Hosea simply mentions the last two as quite sufficient for his purpose, whereas Sodom and Gomorrha are generally mentioned in other passages (Jer_49:18; cf. Mat_10:15; Luk_10:12). The promise that God will show compassion is appended here, without any adversative particle.
My heart has turned, changed in me (עַל, lit., upon or with me, as in the similar phrases in 1Sa_25:36; Jer_8:18). יַחַד נִכְמְרוּ, in a body have my feelings of compassion gathered themselves together, i.e., my whole compassion is excited. Compare Gen_43:30 and 1Ki_3:26, where, instead of the abstract nichūmı̄m, we find the more definite rachămı̄m, the bowels as the seat of the emotions. עָשָׂה חֲרֹון אַף, to carry out wrath, to execute it as judgment (as in 1Sa_28:18).
In the expression לֹא אָשׁוּב לְשַׁחֵת, I will not return to destroy, שׁוּב may be explained from the previous נֶהְפַּךְ לִבִּי. After the heart of God has changed, it will not return to wrath, to destroy Ephraim; for Jehovah is God, who does not alter His purposes like a man (cf. 1Sa_15:29; Num_23:19; Mal_3:6), and He shows Himself in Israel as the Holy One, i.e., the absolutely pure and perfect one, in whom there is no alternation of light and darkness, and therefore no variableness in His decrees (see at Exo_19:6; Isa_6:3). The difficult expression בְּעִיר cannot mean “into a city,” although it is so rendered by the ancient versions, the Rabbins, and many Christian expositors; for we cannot attach any meaning to the words “I do not come into a city” at all in harmony with the context. עִיר signifies here aestus irae, the heat of wrath, from עוּר, effervescere, just as in Jer_15:8 it signifies the heat of alarm and anxiety, aestus animi.
How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? how shall I deliver thee, Israel how shall I make thee as Admah? how shall I set thee as Zeboim? This verse paves the way for transition to promise. Although the Israelites on account of such conduct had merited complete annihilation, yet Jehovah, for his love and mercy’s sake, substitutes grace for justice, and will not destroy them from off the face of the earth. One rendering
(1) gives the clause the turn of an exclamation rather than of an interrogation; thus: “How readily and justly could I [or should I, or how thoroughly could I if I punished thy rebellion as I deserved] give thee up to destruction!” We prefer
(2) the ordinary rendering, by which it is treated as a question: “How shall I give thee up to the power of the enemy, and not only that, but destroy thee?” Calvin’s exposition seems indeed to favor the former: “Here,” he says, “God consults what he is to do with the people; and first, indeed, he shows that it was his purpose to execute vengeance such as the Israelites deserved, even wholly to destroy them; but yet he assumes the character of one deliberating, that none might think that he hastily fell into anger, or that, being soon excited by excessive fury, he devoted to ruin those who had lightly sinned, or were guilty of no great crimes By these expressions of the text God shows what the Israelites deserved, and that he was now inclined to inflict the punishment of which they were worthy, and yet not without repentance, or at least not without hesitation. He afterwards adds in the next clause, This I will not do; my heart is within me changed.” Mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together. The עַל, literally, “upon,” “with,” then, “in,” or “within:” “My heart is turned or changed from anger to pity in me.” The expression, יַהַד נִכְמְרוּ, signifies, according to Rashi, “one warmed,” as in Gen_43:30, where this same word is rendered in the Authorized Version,” yearned:” “His bowels did yearn upon his brother,” or “warmed towards.” But
(2) many modern interpreters understand the word in the sense of” gathering themselves together:” “The feelings of compassion gathered themselves together;” nichumim, from Piel נִחֵם, a noun of the form הבוד, less definite than rachamim, bowels, as the seat of the emotions, “gathered themselves together,” or “were excited all at once.” The cities of the plain included Admah and Zeboim, Sodom and Gomorrah, all of which, in consequence of their sins, were overthrown and perished in one common calamity. In Deu_29:23 these cities are all named, though Admah and Zeboim are not mentioned by name in the narrative of the catastrophe contained in Genesis. Though Israel had been as guilty and deserving of wrath as these, God expresses strong reluctance to deliver them over into the hands and power of their enemies, or to give them up to destruction. His heart revolted at the thought, and turned aside from the fierceness of his anger, though so fully deserved, into the direction of mercy; a new turn was given to his feelings in the direction of compassion. All his relentings or repentings together—one and all—yearned or were at once aroused. Repenting on the part of God is an expression suited to human comprehension, implying no change of purpose on the side of God, but only a change of procedure consistent with his purpose of everlasting love. “The Law speaks in the language of the sons of men.”
I will not execute the fierceness of Mine anger – It is the voice of “mercy, rejoicing over judgment.” mercy prevails in God over the rigor of His justice, that though He will not suffer them to go utterly unpunished, yet He will abate of it, and not utterly consume them.
I will not return to destroy Ephraim – God saith that He will not, as it were, glean Ephraim, going over it again, as man doth, in order to leave nothing over. As it is in Jeremiah, “They shall thoroughly glean the remnant of Israel, as a vine. Turn back thine hand, as a grapegatherer into the baskets” Jer_6:9; and, “If grapegatherers come to thee, would they not leave some gleaning-grapes? but I have made Esau bare” Jer_49:9-10.
For I am God and not man – o: “not swayed by human passions, but so tempering His wrath, as, in the midst of it, to remember mercy; so punishing the iniquity of the sinful children, as at once to make good His gracious promises which He made to their forefathers.” : “Man punishes, to destroy; God smites, to amend.”
The Holy One in the midst of thee – The holiness of God is at once a ground why He punishes iniquity, and yet does not punish to the full extent of the sin. Truth and faithfulness are part of the holiness of God. He, the Holy One who was “in the midst” of them, by virtue of His covenant with their fathers, would keep the covenant which He had made, and for their father’s sakes would not wholly cut them off. Yet the holiness of God hath another aspect too, in virtue of which the unholy cannot profit by the promises of the All-Holy. “I will not,” paraphrases Cyril, “use unmingled wrath. I will not “give” over Ephraim, wicked as he has become, to entire destruction. Why? Do they not deserve it? Yes, He saith, but “I am God and not man,” i. e., Good, and not suffering the motions of anger to overcome Me. For that is a human passion. Why then dost Thou yet punish, seeing Thou art God, not overcome with anger, but rather following Thine essential gentleness? I punish, He saith, because I am not only Good, as God, but holy also, hating iniquity, rejecting the polluted, turning away from God-haters, converting the sinner, purifying the impure, that he may again be joined to Me. We, then, if we prize the being with God, must, with all our might, fly from sin, and remember what He said. “Be ye holy, for I am holy.”
And I will not enter the city – God, who is everywhere, speaks of Himself, as present to us, when He shows that presence in acts of judgment or of mercy. He visited His people in Egypt, to deliver them; He visited Sodom and Gomorrah as a Judge, making known to us that He took cognizance of their extreme wickedness. God says, that He would “not enter the city,” as He did “the cities of the plain,” when He overthrew them, because He willed to save them. As a Judge, He acts as though He looked away from their sin, lest, seeing their city to be full of wickedness, He should be compelled to punish it. : “I will not smite indiscriminately, as man doth, who when wroth, bursts into an offending city, and destroys all. In this sense, the Apostle says, “Hath God cast away His people? God forbid! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not east away His people, whom He foreknew. What saith the answer of God to Elias! I have reserved to Myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to Bard. Even so then, at this present time also, there is a remnant according to the election of grace” Rom_11:1-2, Rom_11:4-5. God then was wroth, not with His people, but with unbelief. For He was not angered in such wise, as not to receive the remnant of His people, if they were converted. No Jew is therefore repelled, because the Jewish nation denied Christ; but whoso, whether Jew or Gentile, denieth Christ, he himself, in his own person, repels himself.”
When the Prophet says, that they shall walk after Jehovah, he proceeds farther than before; for here he refers not to the mitigation of punishment, but promises restoration. He had said before, that though the Lord would deal severely with his people, there would yet be some moderation in his wrath, so that he would not destroy the whole people. Now, it follows, that God, after having thus restrained himself, will extend his favour even to the restoration of the people, and bring to life those who seemed to have been dead. We now then perceive what the Prophet means.
But to expound this, — they shall walk after Jehovah, of the obedience of the people, as it is done by interpreters, does not seem right to me. It is indeed certain that no people can be restored except they repent; yea, it is the main beginning of God’s favour, when he chastises men and heals them of their wickedness. But here the Prophet handles another thing, even that the Lord will show himself a leader to his people, who had been for a time dispersed. As long as the people were scattered in Assyria and in other distant lands, they were without any head, as a mutilated body. But when the ripened time of restoration came, the Lord revolved to deliver them, and proclaimed himself the leader of his people; and in this manner the people were gathered to God. This is what the Prophet now means when he says, after Jehovah: that is, for a time, indeed, God will forsake them, that they may languish in their dispersion; but at length he will gather them, and show himself as their leader in their journey, that he may restore them to their country. They shall then, he says, follow Jehovah, and he shall roar as a lion: when he shall roar, then children from the sea shall tremble”; that is, God will be formidable to enemies so that none will hinder the return of his people. Many, indeed, will be the enemies, many will labour to set up opposition: but the people shall nevertheless come forth free. How so? For the Lord will fill all with dread, and restrain all the efforts of their enemies; so that they shall be constrained to withdraw from the Assyrians, as well as from the Egyptians. Though, on one side, the Egyptians may resist, and, on the other, the Assyrians, they shall not yet impede the return of the people. Why? Because the Lord will put them to flight, and he will be to them as a lions and fill them all with terror. But the rest we shall defer.
They shall walk after the Lord: he shall roar like a lien: when he shall roar, then the children shall tremble from the west. Others translate, “After the Lord shall they go as after a lion that roareth.” But this necessitates a double ellipsis of “after which.” They would go after the Lord in obedience to his summons. That summons is represented as far-reaching and terrible. Calling his people to return, the Lord roars as a lion, to denote at once the loudness of the call, and the awful majesty of the Lord when thus calling his people to return. “As a lion,” says Kimchi, “which roars that the animals whose king he is may assemble to him, so the Israelites shall assemble on hearing the voice of the Lord when he roars.” The roaring of the lion may signify his terrible judgments on Israel’s enemies, when he calls his people home from the lands of their dispersion. The result would be a speedy return of his children from the lands of the West—the countries round or beyond the Mediterranean.
They shall walk after the Lord – Not only would God not destroy them all, but a remnant of them should “walk after the Lord,” i. e., they shall believe in Christ. The Jews of old understood this of Christ. One of them saith , “this pointeth to the time of their redemption.” And another , “Although I will withdraw from the midst of them My divine presence for their iniquity, and remove them out of their own land, yet shall there be a long time in which they shall seek after the Lord and find Him.” This is what Hosea has said before, that they should “abide many days without a king and without a prince, and without a sacrifice; afterward shall the children of Israel return and seek the Lord their God, and David their king” Hos_3:4-5. : “Whereas now they “fled from” God, and “walked after other gods after the imagination of their evil hearts, after their own devices” Hos_7:13; Jer_7:9; Jer_3:17; Jer_18:12, then he promises, they shall “walk after God the Lord,” following the will, the mind, the commandments, the example of Almighty God. As God says of David, He “kept My commandments, and walked after Me with all his heart” 1Ki_14:8; and Micah foretells that “many nations shall say, we will walk in His paths” Mic_4:2. They shall “follow after” Him, whose infinite perfections none can reach; yet they shall “follow after,” never standing still, but reaching on to that which is unattainable by His grace, attaining the more by imitating what is inimitable, and stopping short of no perfection, until, in His presence, they be perfected in Him.
He shall roar like a lion – Christ is called “the Lion of the tribe of Judah” Rev_5:5. His “roaring” is His loud call to repentance, by Himself and by His Apostles. The voice of God to sinners, although full of love, must be full of awe too. He calls them, not only to flee to His mercy, but to “flee from the wrath to come.” He shall call to them with a voice of Majesty command.
When He shall roar, the children shall tremble from the West – that is, they shall come in haste and fear to God. “His word is powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow” Heb_4:12. Whence those whose hearts were pricked at the preaching of Peter, said to him with trembling, “Men and brethren what shall we do?” Act_2:37. So did the preaching of judgment to come terrify the world, that from all places some did come out of the captivity of the world and did fly to Christ” . He says, “from the West;” for “from the West” have most come in to the Gospel. Yet the Jews were then about to be carried to the East, not to the West; and of the West the prophets had no human knowledge. But the ten tribes, although carried to the East into Assyria, did not all remain there, since before the final dispersion, we find Jews in Italy, Greece, Asia Minor; where those who had been restored to their own land, would not have anew exiled themselves. In these, whenever they were converted, this prophecy was fulfilled.
In the last lecture, we began to explain what the Prophet means by saying, that the Israelites shall come after the Lord: that is, that when the time of the exile shall be completed, God will be the leader of his people in their journey, that they might return safe to their country. And for this reason, he also subjoins, that the Egyptians as well as the Assyrians would be timid; and hence he compares them to doves and sparrows, or birds; for when the nations should attempt to hinder the return of the people, and strive against them with great forces and great efforts, God would break down their courage. For as God had determined to redeem his people, his decree could not have been nullified, no, not by the whole world. Whatever then, the Assyrians, and also the Egyptians, might attempt to do, though powerful in forces, it would yet avail nothing; nay, God would strike into both such fear and dread, that they should not make any stir when the Lord restored his people. There is a similar mode of speaking in Joel, except that he does not introduce the similitudes that they would be like birds and doves. But he speaks of the roaring of God, as though he said, that the power of God would be terrible and invincible, so that he would defend and protect his people, and no one would dare to rise up against him; and that if one should dare, he would be constrained instantly to succumb. Let us now proceed —
Keil & Delitzsch
“They will go after Jehovah; like a lion will He roar; for He will roar: and sons will tremble from the sea. Hos_11:11. Tremble like birds out of Egypt, and like doves out of the land of Asshur: and I cause them to dwell in their houses, is the saying of Jehovah.” When the Lord turns His pity towards the people once more, they will follow Him, and hasten, with trembling at His voice, from the lands of their banishment, and be reinstated by Him in their inheritance. The way for this promise was opened indeed by Hos_11:9, but here it is introduced quite abruptly, and without any logical particle of connection, like the same promise in Hos_3:5. הָלַךְ אחרי יי, to walk after the Lord, denotes not only “obedience to the gathering voice of the Lord, as manifested by their drawing near” (Simson), but that walking in true obedience to the Lord which follows from conversion (Deu_13:5; 1Ki_14:8), so that the Chaldee has very properly rendered it, “They will follow the worship of Jehovah.” This faithfulness they will exhibit first of all in practical obedience to the call of the Lord. This call is described as the roaring of a lion, the point of comparison lying simply in the fact that a lion announces its coming by roaring, so that the roaring merely indicates a loud, far-reaching call, like the blowing of the trumpet in Isa_27:13.
The reason for what is affirmed is then given: “for He (Jehovah) will really utter His call,” in consequence of which the Israelites, as His children, will come trembling (chârēd synonymous with pâchad, Hos_3:5). מִיָּם, from the sea, i.e., from the distant islands and lands of the west (Isa_11:11), as well as from Egypt and Assyria, the lands of the south and east. These three regions are simply a special form of the idea, “out of all quarters of the globe;” compare the more complete enumeration of the several remote countries in Isa_11:11. The comparison to birds and doves expresses the swiftness with which they draw near, as doves fly to their dovecots (Isa_60:8). Then will the Lord cause them to dwell in their houses, i.e., settle them once more in their inheritance, in His own land (cf. Jer_32:37, where לָבֶטַח is added). On the construing of הֹושִׁיב with עַל, cf. 1Ki_20:43, and the German auf der Stube sein. The expression נְאֻם יי affixes the seal of confirmation to this promise. The fulfilment takes place in the last says, when Israel as a nation shall enter the kingdom of God. Compare the remarks on this point at Hos_2:1-3.
They shall tremble as a bird out of Egypt. The trembling here is eager haste, or precipitate agitation, in which they would hurry home, and that from west and east and south—from west as we infer from Hos_11:10, from Assyria in the east and Egypt in the south. They would thus hurry as a bird home to its nest in the greenwood; as a dove no longer a silly dove, but flying home to its window. This chapter is regarded by some as ending here. Others include Hos_11:12.
They shall tremble as a bird out of Egypt – The West denoted Europe; Egypt and Assyria stand, each for all the lands beyond them, and so for Africa and Asia; all together comprise the three quarters of the world, from where converts have chiefly come to Christ. These are likened to birds, chiefly for the swiftness with which they shall then haste to the call of God, who now turned away the more, the more they were called. The dove, especially, was a bird of Palestine, proverbial for the swiftness of its flight, easily aftrighted, and flying the more rapidly, the more it was frightened, and returning to its cot from any distance where it might be carried; from where Isaiah also says of the converts, “Who are these that fly as a cloud, and as the doves to their windows?” Isa_60:8. “The Hebrews,” says Jerome, “refer this to the coming of the Christ, who, they hope, will come; we shew that it hath taken place already. For both from Egypt and Aasyria, i. e., from East and West, from North and South, have they come, and daily do they come, who sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”
And I will place them in their houses – “Their houses” may be their own particular Churches, in the one Church or “House of God” 1Ti_3:15. In this house, God says, that He will make them to dwell, not again to be removed from it, nor shaken in it, but in a secure dwelling-place here until they be suited to be removed to everlasting habitations. : “In their houses, i. e., in the mansions prepared for them. For from the beginning of the world, when He created our first parents, and blessed them and said, “Increase and multiply and replenish the earth,” He prepared for them everlasting houses or mansions. Whereof He said, just before His Death, “In My father’s house are many mansions,” and in the Last Day, He will say, “Come ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”