HOSEA CHAPTER 9.
The Distress and Captivity of Israel.
WARNING AGAINST FALSE SECURITY. — V. 1. Rejoice not, O Israel, for joy, as other people, rather, "unto exultation," like the heathen, with a joy which, after the fashion of the heathen, attributed a bountiful harvest to the idols; for thou hast gone a-whoring from thy God, in the idolatry which the Lord had so earnestly rebuked; thou hast loved a reward upon every corn-floor, namely, the lover's reward which Israel expected from the idols for the homage shown them, which they hoped to get on the threshing-floor in the form of an abundant yield. Over against this the Lord says, v. 2. The floor, the corn-floor or threshing-floor, and the wine-press, these two representatives of the products of the country, shall not feed them, and the new wine, the must as pressed out of the grapes, shall fail in her, so that they would be sorely disappointed in their hopes of a rich harvest. V. 3. They shall not dwell in the Lord's land; but Ephraim shall return to Egypt, which is here once more representative of the land of bondage, the name standing for any kind of captivity, and they shall eat unclean things in Assyria, which to them was the real land of the exile. Their food in the land of their captivity would be unclean because it would no longer be sanctified by the sacrifice of the first-fruits during the Feast of the Unleavened Bread. V. 4. They shall not offer wine-offerings to the Lord, in the drink-offerings, as representative of all unbloody sacrifices, neither shall (they) be pleasing unto Him their sacrifices, for the bloody offerings which they might consider bringing to Him would not be pleasing in His sight; (the food which they eat) shall be unto them as the bread of mourners, cp. Deut. 26, 14, because the food eaten upon such an occasion was regarded as unclean, since all objects in a house where there was a dead person were unclean, Num. 19, 14; all that eat thereof shall be polluted, being Levitically defiled by their meal, for their bread for their soul shall not come into the house of the Lord, that is, the food which they needed to support their life could not come into the house of God to be consecrated. V. 5. What will ye do in the solemn day and in the day of the feast of the Lord? Since the Temple and its cult would be missing in the land of their exile, festal days with their solemn joy would not be possible. V. 6. For, lo, they are gone because of destruction, the prophet already seeing them in banishment. Egypt, the land of bondage, shall gather them up, chap. 8, 13; Memphis, the capital of the land of their captivity, shall bury them; the pleasant places for their silver, their houses and palaces filled and decked with silver, nettles shall possess them, the place where they stood being overgrown with weeds; thorns shall be in their tabernacles, the places of their habitation. V. 7. The days of visitation are come, with the Lord's punishment descending upon the apostate people, the days of recompense are come, with the Lord repaying the sins of Israel in His holy vengeance; Israel shall know it, at last be fully aware of it; the prophet is a fool, will become foolish with the immensity of the tragedy coming upon the people, the spiritual man, he who is inspired by the Spirit of the Lord, is mad, will almost be driven to insanity by the conditions then obtaining, for the multitude of thine iniquity and the great hatred; Hosea here pictures the terrible condition which would drive him and other prophets almost mad, since they saw the inevitable destruction coming nearer and yet were unable to prevent it, because Israel would not listen to the admonitions intended to bring about their repentance. V. 8. The watchman of Ephraim was with my God, literally, "A seer (or searcher) is Ephraim with my God," beside the true God; that is, instead of relying upon the revelations received by Hosea, the children pf Israel were on the lookout for other revelations, from sources more acceptable to them. But the prophet is a snare of a fowler in all his ways, he is surrounded by snares wherever he turns, and hatred in the house of his God, while he is performing the duties of his office. V. 9. They have deeply corrupted themselves, becoming guilty of the most horrible abominations, as in the days of Gibeah, when the moral sense of the Israelites was very low, Judg. 19; therefore He will remember their iniquity, He will visit their sins. By such powerful appeals the Lord tried to work repentance in the hearts of His people, so that they would acknowledge their wickedness and return to Him with a godly sorrow.
THE CORRUPTION OF ISRAEL AND ITS CONSEQUENCES. — V. 10. I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness, at the time when Jehovah chose them as His people and led them forth from the land of bondage; I saw your fathers as the first-ripe in the fig-tree at her first time, the description being expressive of the high regard in which the Lord held them at that time; but they went to Baal-peor, as related in Num. 25, and separated themselves unto that shame, being led astray with the greatest ease by the women of the Moabites; and their abominations, both in bodily and spiritual adultery, were according as they loved. V. 11. As for Ephraim, their glory, that of which they boast, of which they are proud, shall fly away like a bird, swiftly taken from them, from the birth and from the womb and from the conception, the population being decreased even by the prevention of births, by the Lord's withholding His blessing of fruitfulness from them. V. 12. Though they bring up their children, those whom the Lord would still permit them to have, yet will I bereave them, depriving them of their children by death, that there shall not be a man left, cp. Deut. 32, 25; yea, woe also to them when I depart from them! It is a terrible thing when the Lord departs from a people with the blessings of His goodness and grace. V. 13. Ephraim, as I saw Tyrus (is) planted in a pleasant place, that is, the Lord had intended for it the growth, wealth, and power of the mighty Phoenician city; but Ephraim shall bring forth his children to the murderer, that is, its citizens would be destined for violent deaths. V. 14. Give them, O Lord; what wilt Thou give? the question interrupting the flow of thought showing the deep indignation of the prophet over the willful corruption of His people. Give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts, sterility being considered a disgrace and a reproach, one of the sternest punishments of the Lord. V. 15. All their wickedness is in Gilgal, which seems to have been one of the chief places of idolatrous worship, so that the wickedness of the nation was there concentrated; for there I hated them. For the wickedness of their doings I will drive them out of Mine house, expelling them out of His congregation, I will love them no more; all their princes, the leading men of the nation, are revolters, rebellious and faithless with regard to the Lord's covenant. V. 16. Ephraim is smitten, like a plant struck by the too direct rays of the sun, their root is dried up, they shall bear no fruit; yea, though they bring forth, yet will I slay even the beloved fruit of their womb, by permitting their children to be killed. V. 17. My God will cast them away, rejecting them as His people, because they did not hearken unto Him, their disobedience to His revealed Word being their chief transgression; and they shall be wanderers among the nations, exiles, fugitives, and vagabonds. Cp. Deut. 28, 65.