Hosea 12


The prophet, in very pointed terms, describes the

unprofitableness and destruction attending vicious courses;

particularly such as Ephraim pursued, who forsook God, and

courted the alliance of idolatrous princes, 1.

Judah is also reproved, 2.

He is reminded of the extraordinary favour of God to his father

Jacob, in giving him the birthright; and exhorted, after his

example, to wrestle with God (the Angel of the covenant, the

same unchangeable Jehovah) for a blessing; and to love mercy

and execute justice, 3-6.

Ephraim is accused of pursuing practices that are deceitful,

although pretending to integrity, 7, 8.

God then threatens to deprive this people of their possessions,


as they had rejected every means of reformation, 10,

and given themselves up to gross impieties, 11.

And, as an aggravation of their guilt, they are reminded from

what humble beginnings they had been raised, 12, 13.

The Divine judgments about to fall upon Israel are declared to

be the result of great provocation, 14.


Verse 1. Ephraim feedeth on wind] He forms and follows empty and

unstable counsels.

Followeth after the east wind] They are not only empty, but

dangerous and destructive. The east wind was, and still is, in

all countries, a parching, wasting, injurious wind.

He daily increaseth lies] He promises himself safety from

foreign alliances. He "made a covenant with the Assyrians," and

sent a subsidy of "oil to Egypt." The latter abandoned him; the

former oppressed him.

Verse 2. The Lord hath also a controversy with Judah] The rest

of the prophecy belongs both to Judah and Israel. He reproaches

both with their ingratitude, and threatens them with God's anger.

In order to make their infidelity the more hateful, and their

malice the more sensible, he opposes to them the righteousness,

obedience, and piety of their father Jacob. He recalls to their

minds the benefits they had received since they returned from

Egypt. He speaks afterwards of their kings; and how, in their

ingratitude, they refused to have him for their monarch. Having

mentioned this fact, he subjoins reflections, exhortations,

invectives, and threatenings, and continues this subject in this

and the two following chapters.-Calmet.

Verse 3. He took his brother by the heel] See on

Ge 25:26; 32:24, &c.

Verse 4. He had power over the Angel] Who represented the

invisible Jehovah.

He wept, and made supplication] He entreated with tears that God

would bless him; and he prevailed. The circumstance of his weeping

is not mentioned in Genesis.

He found him in Beth-el] It was there that God made those

glorious promises to Jacob relative to his posterity. See

Ge 28:13-15.

Verse 5. The Lord is his memorial.] He is the same God as when

Jacob so successfully wrestled with him.

Verse 6. Therefore turn thou to thy God] Because he is the same,

and cannot change. Seek him as faithfully and as fervently as

Jacob did, and you will find him the same merciful and

compassionate Being.

Verse 7. He is a merchant] Or a Canaanite; referring to the

Phoenicians, famous for their traffic. Ephraim is as corrupt as

those heathenish traffickers were. He kept, as many in all ages

have done, a weight and a weight; a heavy one to buy with

and a light one to sell by.

Verse 8. I am become rich] They boasted in their riches,

notwithstanding the unjust manner in which they were acquired.

In all my labours they shall find none iniquity in me] This is

frequently the language of merchants, tradesmen, &c. None are so

full of professions of equity and justice, while all the time they

are endeavouring to overreach, both in buying and selling. "Sir, I

cannot afford it at that price." "It is not mine for that money."

"I assure you that it cost me more than you offer." "I am sorry I

cannot take your money; but if I did, I should lose by the

article," &c., &c., &c. I have heard such language over and over,

when I knew every word was false. Truth is a sacred thing in the

sight of God; but who regards it as he should? There are, however,

many noble exceptions among merchants and tradesmen. Bp. Newcome

gives another turn to the subject, by translating:-

"All his labours shall not be found profitable unto him,

For the iniquity wherewith he hath sinned."

Verse 9. And I-the Lord thy God] I who brought thee out of the

land of Egypt, will again make thee to dwell in tabernacles. This

appears to be a threatening. I will reduce you to as miserable a

state in the land of your captivity, as you often were through

your transgressions in the wilderness. This was the opinion of

some of the ancients on this verse; and the context requires it to

be understood in this way. I do not think that the feast of

tabernacles is referred to.

Verse 10. I have also spoken] I have used every means, and

employed every method, to instruct and save you. I have sent

prophets, who spake plainly, exhorting, warning, and beseeching

you to return to me. They have had Divine visions, which they have

declared and interpreted. They have used similitudes, symbols,

metaphors, allegories, &c., in order to fix your attention, and

bring you back to your duty and interest. And, alas! all is in

vain; you have not profited by my condescension. This text St.

Paul seems to have had full in view, when he wrote, Heb 1:1: "God

who, at SUNDRY TIMES and in DIVERS MANNERS, spake in time past

unto the FATHERS by the PROPHETS." See the note on the above.

Dr. Dodd supposes that there are three distinct kinds of

prophecy mentioned here: 1. Immediate inspiration, when God

declares the very words. 2. Vision; a representation of external

objects to the mind, in as lively a manner as if they were

conveyed by the senses. 3. Parables and apt resemblances.

Verse 11. Iniquity in Gilead] Gilgal and Gilead are equally

iniquitous, and equally idolatrous. Gilead, which was beyond

Jordan, had already been brought under subjection by

Tiglath-Pileser. Gilgal, which was on this side Jordan, shall

share the same fate; because it is now as idolatrous as the other.

Their altars are as heaps] They occur everywhere. The whole land

is given to idolatry.

Verse 12. Served for a wife] Seven years for Rachel.

For a wife he kept sheep.] Seven years for Leah; having been

cheated by Laban, who gave him first Leah, instead of Rachel; and

afterwards made him serve seven years more before he would confirm

his first engagement. Critics complain of want of connection here.

Why is this isolated fact predicted? Thus, in a detached sentence,

the prophet speaks of the low estate of their ancestors, and how

amply the providence of God had preserved and provided for them.

This is all the connection the place requires.

Verse 13. By a prophet (Moses) the Lord brought Israel out of

Egypt, and by a prophet (Joshua) was he preserved.] Joshua

succeeded Moses, and brought the Israelites into the promised

land; and when they passed the Jordan at Gilgal, he received the

covenant of circumcision; and yet this same place was now made by

them the seat of idolatry! How blind and how ungrateful!

Verse 14. Therefore shall he leave his blood upon him] He will

not remove his guilt. These are similar to our Lord's words,

Joh 3:36; 9:41: "He that believeth not on the Son of God, shall

not see life, for the wrath of God ABIDETH ON HIM"-shall not be

removed by any remission, as he rejects the only way in which he

can be saved. Because ye say, We see; therefore, YOUR SIN

REMAINETH, i.e., it still stands charged against you. Your

miseries and destruction are of your own procuring; your perdition

is of yourselves. God is as merciful as he is just.

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