Hosea 13


Thus chapter begins with observing that the fear of God leads

to prosperity, but sin to ruin; a truth most visibly

exemplified in the sin and punishment of Ephraim, 1-3.

As an aggravation of their guilt, God reminds them of his

former favours, 4, 5;

which they had shamefully abused, 6;

and which now expose them to dreadful punishments, 7, 8.

He, however, tempers these awful threatenings with gracious

promises; and, on their repentance, engages to save them, when

no other could protect them, 9-11.

But, alas! instead of repenting, Ephraim is filling up the

measure of his iniquity, 12, 13.

Notwithstanding this, God promises to put forth has almighty

power in behalf of his people, and, as it were, raise them

from the dead, 14;

although, in the meantime, they must be visited with great

national calamities, compared first to the noxious and parching

east wind, 15,

and described immediately after in the plainest terms, 16.


Verse 1. When Ephraim spake trembling] When he was meek and

humble, of a broken heart and contrite spirit.

He exalted himself in Israel] He became great in God's sight; he

rose in the Divine esteem in proportion as he sank in his own. But

this did not continue.

He offended in Baal] He became an idolater.

He died.] The sentence of death from the Divine justice went out

against him.

This has been differently understood: "As soon as Ephraim spake

(To your tents, O Israel!) There was a trembling or commotion:

then the kingdom was exalted in Israel." Thus taken, it refers to

the division of the ten tribes from Rehoboam, son of Solomon,

1Ki 12:16, &c., and the establishment of the kingdom of Israel

under Jeroboam in opposition to that of Judah; which breach was

never healed.

Verse 2. And now they sin more and more] They increase in every

kind of vice, having abandoned the great Inspirer of virtue.

Let the men that sacrifice kiss the calves.] This was the test.

If there be a Jew that pretends to sacrifice, and whose conversion

is dubious, let him come openly and kiss the calves. This will

show what he is; no real Jew will do this. If he be an idolater,

he will not scruple. This was the ancient method of adoration. 1.

They kissed the idol. 2. When the statue was too high or too far

off, they presented the hand, in token of alliance. 3. They

brought that hand respectfully to their mouths, and kissed it.

This was the genuine act of adoration; from ad, to, and os, oris,

the mouth. So PLINY, Hist. Nat., lib. xxviii., c. 1. Adorando,

dexteram ad oscula referimus.

And APULEIUS, Asin., lib. iv.: Admoventes oribus suis dexteram,

ut ipsam prorsus deam religiosis adorationibus venerabantur. See

Calmet, and See Clarke on Job 31:17.

Verse 3. Therefore they shall be as the morning CLOUD-as the

early DEW-as the CHAFF-as the SMOKE] Four things, most easy to be

driven about and dissipated, are employed here to show how they

should be scattered among the nations, and dissipated by


Verse 4. I am the Lord thy God] This was the first discovery I

made of myself to you, and the first commandment I gave; and I

showed you that besides me there was no Saviour. There is a

remarkable addition in the Septuagint here: "But I am Jehovah thy

God, who stretched out the heavens and created the earth. And I

showed them not to thee, that thou shouldest walk after them. And

I brought thee up out of the land of Egypt," &c. This might have

been once in the Hebrew text.

Verse 5. I did know thee] I approved of thee; I loved thee;

and by miraculously providing for thee in that land of drought, I

demonstrated my love.

Verse 6. According to their pasture] They had a rich pasture,

and were amply supplied with every good. They became exalted in

their heart, forgat their God, and became a prey to their enemies.

"He that exalteth himself shall be abased."

Verse 7. I will be unto them as a lion] shachal is

supposed to mean here the black lion, frequent in Ethiopia.

As a leopard] namar, so termed from its spotted skin,

for to be spotted is the signification of the root.

Will I observe them] The leopard, tiger, and panther will hide

themselves in thick bush-wood, near where they expect any prey to

pass; and as soon as it comes near, spring suddenly upon it. To

this is the allusion in the text: "By the way will I observe

them;" watch for them as the leopard does. They shall be greatly

harassed even on their way to Assyria, when going into captivity.

Verse 8. As a bear-bereaved] This is a figure to denote

excessive ferocity. See Clarke on 2Sa 17:8, where a remarkable

instance is given.

And will rend the caul of their heart] Every savage beast goes

first to the seat of the blood when it has seized its prey; as in

this fluid they delight more than in the most delicate parts of

the flesh.

There will I devour them like a lion] labi, the old

strong lion; drinking the blood, tearing the flesh, and breaking

the bones to extract the marrow.

The wild beast shall tear them] Probably this refers to the

chakal or jackal, who frequently hunts down the prey, which the

lion takes the liberty to devour, while the jackal stands by, and

afterwards picks the bones. Hence he has been called the lion's

PROVIDER, and the lion's waiting-man.

Verse 9. O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself] These evils come

not by my immediate infliction; they are the consequences of thy

own crimes. In the above terrifying figures of the ferocious

beasts, the prophet only shows what they would meet with from the

hand of the Assyrians in the war, the famine, and the captivity;

God being represented as doing what he only permits to be done.

But in me is thine help.] "Though thou hast destroyed thyself,

yet in me alone can thy help be found"-Newcome. And others read,

And who will help thee? reading mi, who, for bi,

in me. Though this is countenanced by the Syriac, yet there is no

evidence of it in any of the MSS. yet collated, nor do I think it

to be the true reading.

Verse 10. Give me a king and princes?] Referring to the time in

which they cast off the Divine theocracy and chose Saul in the

place of Jehovah.

Verse 11. I gave thee a king in mine anger] Such was Saul; for

they highly offended God when they clamored to have a king like

the heathen nations that were around them.

Took him away in my wrath.] Permitted him and the Israelites

to fall before the Philistines. Others think that Shalmaneser was

the king thus given, and Hoshea the king thus taken away.

Verse 12. The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up] It is registered

in my court of justice; the death warrant is in store, and will be

produced in due time. Though there be not at present the judgment

inflicted which such glaring transgressions demand, yet it will

surely come. Such crimes cannot go unpunished.

Verse 13. The sorrows of a travailing woman] These judgments

shall come suddenly and unavoidably.

The place of the breaking forth of children.] As there is a

critical time in parturition in which the mother in hard labour

may by skilful assistants be eased of her burden, which, if

neglected, may endanger the life both of parent and child, so

there was a time in which Ephraim might have returned to God, but

they would not; therefore they are now in danger of being finally

destroyed. And, speaking after the manner of men, he must be

deemed an unwise son, who if he had power and consideration, would

prolong his stay in the porch of life, where he must necessarily

be suffocated; so is Ephraim, who, though warned of his danger,

having yet power to escape, continued in his sin, and is now come

to destruction. I could illustrate the allusion in the text

farther, and show the accurate propriety of the original; but the

subject forbids it.

Verse 14. I will ransom them from the power of the grave] In

their captivity they are represented as dead and buried, which is

a similar view to that taken of the Jews in the Babylonish

captivity by Ezekiel in his vision of the valley of dry bones.

They are now lost as to the purpose for which they were made, for

which God had wrought so many miracles for them and for their

ancestors; but the gracious purpose of God shall not be utterly

defeated. He will bring them out of that grave, and ransom them

from that death; for as they have deserved that death and

disgraceful burial, they must be redeemed and ransomed from it, or

still lie under it. And who can do this but God himself? And he

will do it. In the prospect of this the prophet exclaims, in the

person of the universal Redeemer, "O death, I will be thy

plagues;" I will bring into thy reign the principle of its

destruction. The Prince of life shall lie for a time under thy

power, that he may destroy that power.

O grave, I will be thy destruction] I will put an end to thy

dreary domination by rising from the dead, and bringing life and

immortality to life by my Gospel, and by finally raising from the

death the whole human race in the day of the general resurrection.

sheol, which we translate grave, is the state of the

dead. maveth, which we translate death, is the

principle of corruption that renders the body unfit to be longer

the tenement of the soul, and finally decomposes it. Sheol shall

be destroyed, for it must deliver up all its dead. Maveth shall be

annihilated, for the body shall be raised incorruptible. See the

use which the apostle makes of this passage, 1Co 15:54, 55; but

he does not quote from the Hebrew, nor from any of the ancient

versions. He had to apply the subject anew; and the Spirit, which

had originally given the words, chose to adapt them to the subject

then in hand, which was the resurrection of the dead in the last

day. Instead of debareycha, thy plagues, one of my oldest

MSS., ninety-six of Kennicott's and thirty-two of De Rossi's,

have debarcha, thy plague, that which shall carry thee off,

as the plague does them who are affected by it. To carry off,

carry away, is one of the regular meanings of the verb dabar.

Repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.] On these points I will

not change my purpose; this is the signification of repentance

when attributed to God.

Verse 15. Though he be fruitful] yaphri; a paronomasia

on the word ephrayim, which comes from the same root

parah, to be fruitful, to sprout, to bud.

An east wind shall come] As the east wind parches and blasts all

vegetation, so shall Shalmaneser blast and destroy the Israelitish


Verse 16. Samaria shall become desolate] This was the capital of

the Israelitish kingdom. What follows is a simple prophetic

declaration of the cruelties which should be exercised upon this

hapless people by the Assyrians in the sackage of the city.

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