HOSEA CHAPTER 5.
The Judgment Announced.
THE ACCUSATION AGAINST THE PRIESTS. — V. 1. Hear ye this, O priests, the spiritual leaders of the people; and hearken, ye house of Israel, the family of the ten tribes as such; and give ye ear, in paying most careful attention, O house of the king, as the temporal rulers of the nation; for judgment is toward you, it is intended for them, to strike them down in due time, because ye have been a snare on Mizpah, this being the town in the northern part of their country or beyond Jordan, and a net spread upon Tabor, a mountain in what was later known as Galileo. The leaders are charged with being snares and nets on account of their leading the people entrusted to them into sins. V. 2. And the revolters are profound to make slaughter, literally, "and into the corrupt doings of excesses they have sunken deeply," so that the leaders, in their open rebellion against the Lord have carried their transgressions to extremes and beyond; though I have been a rebuker of them all, earnestly trying, by His admonitions, to bring them back to the right way. V. 3. I know Ephraim, and Israel is not hid from Me, He was well acquainted with the spirit which possessed them both; for now, O Ephraim, thou committest whoredom, that is, idolatry, and Israel is defiled, by likewise taking part in the spiritual adultery. V. 4. They will not frame their doings to turn unto their God, for as long as they are guilty of such transgressions, their evil works will not permit their return to the Lord; for the spirit of whoredoms is in the midst of them, so that the service of idolatry occupies all their thoughts, and they have not known the Lord, for under the circumstances the knowledge of the true God is impossible for them. V. 5. And the pride of Israel, as they boast of their glory, doth testify to his face, namely, when the punishment of such pride is suffered; therefore shall Israel and Ephraim fall in their iniquity, stumbling and being brought to destruction because of it; Judah also shall fall with them, tottering and stumbling with Israel, since both are guilty of idolatry. V. 6. They shall go with their flocks and with their herds to seek the Lord, as though eager to bring their sacrifices; but they shall not find Him; He hath withdrawn Himself from them, since He has no delight in sacrifices brought in a spirit of hypocrisy, without true repentance. V. 7. They have dealt treacherously against the Lord, in blasphemous faithlessness; for they have begotten strange children, as though by illicit intercourse with idols; now shall an month devour them with their portions, or, "the new moon will devour them." Their hypocritical festal offerings were so little appreciated and acceptable in the sight of God that, instead of bringing them deliverance, they were rather a cause of their ruin. Many a person will find out that his self-appointed worship of God will bring down upon him the wrath of the Lord instead of His mercy.
THE THREAT OF PUNISHMENT. — V. 8. Blow ye the cornet in Gibeah, the ancient city of Saul, and the trumpet in Ramah, another city located on an eminence, both of them most suitable for giving signals on account of their lofty situation; cry aloud at Bethaven, or Bethel, on the border of the northern kingdom. After thee, O Benjamin! that is, the danger is coming, the enemy is close behind. V. 9. Ephraim, the entire country of the ten tribes, shall be desolate in the day of rebuke, namely, when the Lord's punishment would strike them; among the tribes of Israel have I made known that which shall surely be, continuous plagues, a lasting punishment. Cp. Deut. 28, 59. V. 10. The princes of Judah were like them that remove the bound, cp. Deut. 19, 14, namely, by removing the boundary between the worship of the true God and idolatry, which should have been kept apart forever; therefore I will pour out My wrath upon them like water, in an overwhelming degree, in proportion to the greatness of their offense. V. 11. Ephraim is oppressed and broken in judgment, cut to pieces by the punishment of the Lord, because he willingly walked after the commandment, it thought good to follow idol-images, it clung to the calf-worship of Jeroboam throughout its existence. V. 12. Therefore will I be unto Ephraim as a moth and to the house of Judah as rottenness, both of these being figurative of destructive powers, which steadily eat into the very marrow of things. V. 13. When Ephraim saw his sickness, becoming aware of the illness of the body politic, and Judah saw his wound, realizing that something was rotten in the nation, then went Ephraim to the Assyrian, looking for assistance from the heathen instead of consulting the Lord, and sent to King Jareb, to the warlike monarch through whose intervention the kingdom hoped to recover; yet could he not heal you nor cure you of your wound, for the help of men is vain in such cases. V. 14. For I will be unto Ephraim as a lion and as a young lion to the house of Judah, who takes hold of his prey and tears it to pieces; I, even I, will tear and go away, as a lion withdrawing to his den; I will take away, and none shall rescue him, for with the Lord's merciful presence removed, there is no hope of deliverance. V. 15. I will go and return to My place, as though shutting Himself up in heaven and withdrawing His favor entirely, till they acknowledge their offense and seek My face, this being the hope which is held before them. In their affliction they will seek Me early. This is a truth which is found also in other passages of the Bible, namely, that men seek out the Lord when they are in trouble, they pour out a prayer when His chastening is upon them. Cp. Is. 26, 16.