Hosea 6


The prophet earnestly exhorts to repentance, 1-3.

God is then introduced as very tenderly and pathetically

remonstrating against the backslidings of Ephraim and Judah,



Verse 1. Come, and let us return unto the Lord] When God had

purposed to abandon them, and they found that he had returned to

his place-to his temple, where alone he could be successfully

sought; they, feeling their weakness, and the fickleness,

weariness, and unfaithfulness of their idols and allies, now

resolve to "return to the Lord;" and, referring to what he said,

Ho 5:14: "I will tear and go away;" they say, he "hath torn,

but he will heal us;" their allies had torn, but they gave them no

healing. While, therefore, they acknowledge the justice of God in

their punishment, they depend on his well-known mercy and

compassion for restoration to life and health.

Verse 2. After two days will he revive] Such is his power that

in two or three days he can restore us. He can realize all our

hopes, and give us the strongest token for good.

In the third day he will raise us up] In so short a time can he

give us complete deliverance. These words are supposed to refer to

the death and resurrection of our Lord; and it is thought that the

apostle refers to them, 1Co 15:4: "Christ rose again the third

day, according to the Scriptures;" and this is the only place in

the Scriptures, i.e., of the Old Testament, where his resurrection

on the third day seems to be hinted at. The original,

yekimenu, has been translated, he will raise him up. Then they

who trusted in him could believe that they should be quickened

together with him.

And we shall live in his sight.] His resurrection being a proof

of theirs.

Verse 3. Then shall we know] We shall have the fullest evidence

that we have not believed in vain.

If we follow on to know the Lord] If we continue to be as much

in earnest as we now are.

His going forth] The manifestation of his mercy to our souls is

as certain as the rising of the sun at the appointed time.

And he shall come unto us as the rain] As surely as the early

and the latter rain come. The first, to prepare the earth for the

seed; this fell in autumn: the second, to prepare the full ear for

the harvest; this fell in spring. Here is strong confidence; but

not misplaced, however worthless the persons were. As surely as

the sun, who is now set, is running his course to arise on us in

the morning, and make a glorious day after a dreary night; so

surely shall the Lord come again from his place, and the Sun of

righteousness shall arise on our souls with healing in his wings.

He is already on his way to save us.

Verse 4. O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee?] This is the

answer of the Lord to the above pious resolutions; sincere while

they lasted, but frequently forgotten, because the people were

fickle. Their goodness (for goodness it was while it endured) was

like the morning cloud that fadeth away before the rising sun,

or like the early dew which is speedily evaporated by heat.

Ephraim and Judah had too much goodness in them to admit of their

total rejection, and too much evil to admit of their being placed

among the children. Speaking after the manner or men, the justice

and mercy of God seem puzzled how to act toward them. When justice

was about to destroy them for their iniquity, it was prevented by

their repentance and contrition: when mercy was about to pour

upon them as penitents its choicest blessings, it was prevented by

their fickleness and relapse! These things induce the just and

merciful God to exclaim, "O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O

Judah, what shall I do unto thee?" The only thing that could be

done in such a case was that which God did.

Verse 5. Therefore have I hewed them by the prophets] I have

sent my prophets to testify against their fickleness. They have

smitten them with the most solemn and awful threatenings; they

have, as it were, slain them by the words of my mouth. But to what


Thy judgments are as the light that goeth forth] Instead of

umispateycha or yetse, "and thy judgments a

light that goeth forth," the versions in general have read

umishpati keor, "and my judgment is as the light."

The final caph in the common reading has by mistake been taken

from aur, and joined to mishpati; and thus turned

it from the singular to the plural number, with the postfix

cha. The proper reading is, most probably, "And my judgment is as

the light going forth." It shall be both evident and swift;

alluding both to the velocity and splendour of light.

Verse 6. I desired mercy, and not sacrifice] I taught them

righteousness by my prophets; for I desired mercy. I was more

willing to save than to destroy; and would rather see them full of

penitent and holy resolutions, than behold them offering the best

and most numerous victims upon my altar. See Mt 9:13.

Verse 7. But they like men ( keadam, "like Adam") have

transgressed the covenant] They have sinned against light and

knowledge as he did. This is sense, the other is scarcely so.

There was a striking similarity in the two cases. Adam, in

Paradise, transgressed the commandment, and I cast him out:

Israel, in possession of the promised land, transgressed my

covenant, and I cast them out, and sent them into captivity.

Verse 8. Gilead is a city of them that work iniquity] In this

place Jacob and Laban made their covenant, and set up a heap of

stones, which was called Galeed, the heap of testimony; and most

probably idolatry was set up here. Perhaps the very heap became

the object of superstitious adoration.

Verse 9. As troops of robbers] What a sad picture is this of the

state of the priesthood! The country of Gilead was infamous for

its robberies and murders. The idolatrous priests there formed

themselves into companies, and kept possession of the roads and

passes; and if they found any person going to Jerusalem to worship

the true God, they put him to death. The reason is given:-

For they commit lewdness.] They are gross idolaters.

Verse 10. I have seen a horrible thing] That is, the idolatry

that prevailed in Israel to such a degree that the whole land was


Verse 11. O Judah, he hath set a harvest for thee] Thou also

hast transgressed; thy harvest will come; thou shalt be reaped

down and sent into captivity. The sickle is already thrust in.

That which thou hast sowed shalt thou reap. They who sow unto

the flesh shall reap corruption.

When I returned the captivity of my people.] Bp. Newcome

translates, "Among those who lead away the captivity of my

people." There is thy harvest; they who have led Israel into

captivity shall lead thee also into the same. The Assyrians and

Babylonians were the same kind of people; equally idolatrous,

equally oppressive, equally cruel. From the common reading some

suppose this to be a promise of return from captivity. It is true

that Judah was gathered together again and brought back to their

own land, but the majority of the Israelites did not return, and

are not now to be found.

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