Hosea 10


This chapter treats of the same subject, but elegantly varied.

It begins with comparing Israel to a fruitful vine but

corrupted by too much prosperity, 1.

It next reproves and threatens them for their idolatry, 2;

anarchy, 3;

and breach of covenant, 4.

Their idolatry is then enlarged on; and its fatal consequences

declared in terms full of sublimity and pathos, 5-8.

God is now introduced complaining of their excessive guilt; and

threatening them with captivity in terms that bear a manifest

allusion to their favourite idolatry, the worshiping the

similitude of a calf or heifer, 9-11.

Upon which the prophet, in a beautiful allegory suggested by

the preceding metaphors, exhorts them to repentance; and warns

them of the dreadful consequences of their evil courses, if

obstinately persisted in, 12-15.


Verse 1. Israel is an empty vine] Or, a vine that casteth its


He bringeth forth fruit] Or, he laid up fruit for himself. He

abused the blessings of God to the purposes of idolatry. He was

prosperous; but his prosperity corrupted his heart.

According to the multitude of his fruit] He became idolatrous in

proportion to his prosperity; and in proportion to their wealth

was the costliness of their images, and the expensiveness of their

idol worship. True is the homely saying of old Quarles:-

"So God's best gifts, usurp'd by wicked ones,

To poison turn, by their con-ta-gi-ons."

Another poet, of a higher order, but worse school, says:-

Effodiuntur opes, irritamenta malorum.-OVID.

Of which the words of St. Paul are nearly a literal rendering,-


"For the love of money is the root of all these evils"

1Ti 6:10. Pity that this beautiful metal, on which God has

bestowed such a large portion of mineral perfection, and then hid

in the earth, should, on its being digged up by man, become the

incentive to so many vices, and draw away his heart from the

Creator of all things, and the fountain of ineffable perfection

and goodness.

Verse 2. Their heart is divided] They wish to serve God and

Mammon, Jehovah and Baal: but this is impossible. Now GOD will do

in judgment what they should have done in contrition, "break

down their altars, and spoil their images."

Verse 3. We have no king] We have rejected the King of kings;

and had we any king, he would be of no service to us in this

state, as he would be a captive like ourselves; nor could we have

the approbation of God, as we now justly lie under his


Verse 4. They have spoken words] Vain, empty, deceitful words.

Swearing falsely] This refers to the alliances made with strange

powers, to whom they promised fidelity without intending to be

faithful; and from whom they promised themselves protection and

support, notwithstanding God was against them, and they knew it.

All their words were vain, and in the end as bitter as gall.

Judgment springeth up as hemlock] As our land lies without

cultivation, so that we have nothing but noxious weeds instead of

crops; so we have no administration of justice. What is done in

this way is a perversion of law, and is as hurtful to society as

hemlock would be to animal life. All this may refer to the anarchy

that was in the kingdom of Israel before Hoshea's reign, and which

lasted, according to Archbishop Usher, nine years. They then,

literally, "had no king."

Verse 5. The inhabitants of Samaria shall fear] According to

Calmet, shall worship the calves of Beth-aven; those set up by

Jeroboam, at Beth-el. Fear is often taken for religious reverence.

The people thereof shall mourn] On seeing the object of their

worship carried into captivity, as well as themselves.

And the priests thereof] kemarim. The priests of

Samaria, says Calmet, are here called kemarim, that is, black

coats, or shouters, because they made loud cries in their

sacrifices. Instead of yagilu, "they shall rejoice;" learned

men propose yalilu, "shall howl," which is likely to be the

true reading, but it is not supported by any of the MSS. yet

discovered. But the exigentia loci, the necessity of the place,

requires some such word.

Verse 6. A present to King Jareb] See on Ho 5:13. If this be a

proper name, the person intended is not known in history: but it

is most likely that Pul, king of Assyria, is intended, to whom

Menahem, king of Israel, appears to have given one of the golden

calves, to insure his assistance.

Verse 7. Her king is cut off as the foam] As lightly as a puff

of wind blows off the foam that is formed below by a fall of

water, so shall the kings of Israel be cut off. We have already

seen that not less than four of them died by assassination in a

very short time. See on Ho 7:7.

Verse 8. The high-places] Idol temples.

Of Aven] Beth-aven.

The thorn and the thistle shall come up on their altars] Owing

to the uncultivated and unfrequented state of the land, and of

their places of idol worship, the people being all carried away

into captivity.

"And they shall say to the mountains, Cover us,

And to the hills, Fall on us."

"This sublime description of fear and distress our Lord had in

view, Lu 23:30, which may be a reference, and not a quotation.

However, the Septuagint, in the Codex Alexandrinus, has the same

order of words as occurs in the evangelist. The parallelism makes

the passages more beautiful than Re 6:16; and Isa 2:19 wants the

animated dramatic form. That there is a reference to the caverns

that abounded in the mountainous countries of Palestine,

See Clarke on Isa 2:19."


Verse 9. Thou hast sinned from the days of Gibeah] This is

another reference to the horrible rape and murder of the Levite's

wife, Jud 19:13, 14.

There they stood] Only one tribe was nearly destroyed, viz.,

that of Benjamin. They were the criminals, the children of

iniquity; the others were faultless, and stood only for the rights

of justice and mercy.

Verse 10. When they shall bind themselves in their two furrows.]

"When they are chastised for their two iniquities," i.e., the

calves in Dan and Beth-el.-Newcome. But this double iniquity may

refer to what Jeremiah says, Jer 11:13: "My people have committed

two evils."-1. They have forsaken me. 2. They have joined

themselves to idols.

Verse 11. Ephraim is as a heifer that is taught] One

thoroughly broken in to the yoke.

And loveth to tread out] Goes peaceably in the yoke; and is

pleased because, not being nuzzled, she eats of the corn.

I passed over upon her fair neck] I brought the yoke upon it,

that she should not tread out the corn merely, but draw the plough

and drag the harrow. These operations of husbandry are all

referred to here, with some others. Ephraim shall tread out the

corn, that there may be seed for the fields.

Judah shall plough] That the furrows may receive it.

Jacob shall break his clods.] Harrow-that the seed may be

covered with the mould.

Israel very frequently made great depredations on Judah; and as

this heifer loved to tread out the corn, and not plough, it is

therefore added that he should be made to plough, be put under the

yoke, namely, that of the Assyrians. What is added, "Judah and

Jacob shall plough for themselves," means, that Judah should not

now plough for Israel, but for himself; as Israel shall no more

make depredations upon him.-Dodd.

Verse 12. Sow to yourselves in righteousness] Let the seed you

sow be of the best kind, and in just measure.

Reap in mercy] By the blessing of God on this ploughing, sowing,

and harrowing, you may expect a good crop in harvest.

Break up your fallow ground] Do not be satisfied with a slight

furrow; let the land that was fallowed (slightly ploughed) be

broken up again with a deep furrow.

For it is time to seek the Lord] This should be immediately

done: the season is passing; and if you do not get the seed in the

ground, the early rain will be past, and your fields will be


Rain righteousness upon you.] God will give you the early rain

in due time, and in proper measure. Here are the metaphors, and

the application cannot be difficult. Here are ploughing,

fallowing, sowing, harrowing, watering, reaping, threshing, and

feeding on the produce of well-directed labour. All may be

applied to the human heart, and the work of God upon it.

Correction, contrition, conversion, receiving the grace of Christ,

bringing forth fruit, &c.

Verse 13. Ye have ploughed wickedness] Ye have laboured


Ye have reaped iniquity] The punishment due to your iniquity.

Ye have eaten the fruit of lies] Your false worship and your

false gods have brought you into captivity and misery.

Because thou didst trust in thy way] Didst confide in thy own

counsels, and in thy mighty men, and not in the God who made you.

Verse 14. Shall a tumult arise] The enemy shall soon fall upon

thy people, and take all thy fortified places.

As Shalman spoiled Beth-arbel] Some think that this refers to

Jerubbaal, or Gideon's victory over Zalmunna, general of the

Midianites; see Jud 7:1-8:21. Others think that an allusion is

made here to the destruction of Arbela, a city of Armenia, by

Shalmaneser, here called Shalman; and this while he was only

general of the Assyrian forces, and not yet king. I think the

history to which this refers is unknown. It seems that it was

distinguished by some remarkable ferocities.

The mother was dashed in pieces upon her children.] But when,

where, how, and by whom, still remain unknown. Conjecture in such

a case must be useless.

Verse 15. So shall Beth-el do unto you] This shall be the

consequence of your idolatry.

In a morning shall the king of Israel utterly be cut off.]

Suddenly, unexpectedly. Hoshea, the king of Israel, shall be cut

off by the Assyrians. There are some allusions to facts in this

chapter, which cannot be easily verified, as we have not

sufficient acquaintance with the history of those times.

Copyright information for Clarke