Hosea 5


This chapter begins with threatening the Israelites for

ensnaring the people to idolatry by their sacrifices and other

rites on Mizpah and Tabor, 1-5.

Their sacrifices, however costly, are declared to be

unacceptable, 6;

and their substance is devoted to the locust, 7.

Nor is judgment to stop here. The cities of Judah are called

upon, in a very animated manner, to prepare for the approach of

enemies. Benjamin is to be pursued; Ephraim is to be desolate;

and all this is intimated to Israel, that they may by

repentance avert the judgment, 8, 9.

The following verses contain farther denunciations, 10-13,

expressed in terms equally terrible and sublime, 14.

The Lord afflicts not willingly the children of men; he visits

them with temporal calamities that he may heal their spiritual

malady, 15.


Verse 1. Hear ye this, O priests] A process is instituted

against the priests, the Israelites, and the house of the king;

and they are called on to appear and defend themselves. The

accusation is, that they have ensnared the people, caused them to

practise idolatry, both at Mizpah and Tabor. Mizpah was situated

beyond Jordan; in the mountains of Gilead; see Jud 11:29. And

Tabor was a beautiful mountain in the tribe of Zebulun. Both these

places are said to be eminent for hunting, &c., and hence the

natural occurrence of the words snare and net, in speaking of


Verse 2. The revolters are profound to make slaughter] Here may

be a reference to the practice of hunters, making deep pits in the

ground, and lightly covering them over, that the beasts, not

discovering them, might fall in, and become a prey.

Though I have been a Rebuker] "I will bring chastisement on

them all." As they have made victims of others to their idolatry,

I will make victims of them to my justice. Some have thought that

as many as wished to depart from the idolatrous worship set up by

Jeroboam, were slaughtered; and thus Jeroboam the son of Nebat

MADE Israel to sin.

Verse 3. I know Ephraim] I know the whole to be idolaters.

Verse 4. They will not frame their doings] They never purpose to

turn to God, they have fully imbibed the spirit of idolatry.

Verse 5. The pride of Israel doth testify to his face] The

effrontery with which they practise idolatry manifests, not only

their insolence, but the deep depravity of their heart; but their

pride and arrogance shall be humbled.

Verse 6. They shall go with their flocks] They shall offer many

sacrifices, professing to seek and be reconciled to the Lord; but

they shall not find him. As they still retain the spirit of their

idolatry, he has withdrawn himself from them.

Verse 7. Now shall a month devour them] In a month's time the

king of Assyria shall be upon them, and oblige them to purchase

their lives and liberties by a grievous tax of fifty shekels per

head. This Menahem, king of Israel, gave to Pul, king of Assyria,

2Ki 15:16-20. Instead of

month, some translate the original locust. "The locusts shall

devour them."

Verse 8. Blow ye the cornet in Gibeah] Gibeah and Ramah were

cities of Judah, in the tribe of Benjamin.

After thee, O Benjamin] An abrupt call of warning. "Benjamin,

fly for thy life! The enemy is just behind thee!" This is a

prediction of the invasion of the Assyrians, and the captivity of

the ten tribes.

Verse 9. Among the tribes of Israel have I made known] They have

got sufficient warning; it is their own fault that they have not

taken it.

Verse 10. Like them that remove the bound] As execrable as they

who remove the land-mark. They have leaped over law's enclosure,

and scaled all the walls of right; they have despised and broken

all laws, human and Divine.

Verse 11. Walked after the commandment.] Jeroboam's commandment

to worship his calves at Dan and Beth-el. Many of them were not

forced to do this, they did it willingly.

Verse 12. Unto Ephraim as a moth] I will consume them by little

and little, as a moth frets a garment.

Verse 13. When Ephraim saw his sickness] When both Israel and

Judah felt their own weakness to resist their enemies, instead of

calling upon and trusting in me, they sought sinful alliances, and

trusted in their idols.

King Jareb] This name occurs nowhere in Scripture but here and

in Ho 10:6. The

Vulgate and Targum render yareb, an avenger, a

person whom they thought able to save them from their enemies. It

is well known that Menahem, king of Israel, sought alliance with

Pul and Tiglath-pileser, kings of Assyria, and Ahaz, king of

Judah. These were the protectors that Ephraim sought after. See

2Ki 15:16-16:20. But far from

healing them by making them tributary, the Assyrians made their

wound more dangerous.

Verse 14. I will be-as a lion] cashshachel, as a

panther or lioness.

Verse 15. I will go and return to my place] I will abandon them

till they acknowledge their offenses. This had the wished-for

effect, as we shall see in the following chapter; for they

repented and turned to God, and he had mercy upon them. These two

verses are considered as instances of the true sublime.

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