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Song of Solomon
Hosea 12 COMMENTARY (Pulpit)
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Ephraim feedeth on wind, and followeth after the east wind: he daily increaseth lies and desolation; and they do make a covenant with the Assyrians, and oil is carried into Egypt.
Ephraim feedeth on wind, and followeth after the east wind.
"Wind" is employed figuratively to denote what is empty and vain, of no real worth or practical benefit.
To feed on wind is to take pleasure in or draw sustenance from what can really afford neither; while following after the east wind is
to pursue vain hopes and ideals which are unattainable. According to this view, the prominent idea of the east wind is its fleetness, which passed into a proverb; thus Horace says, "Agents nimbos Oeior Euro." To outrun the swift and stormy east wind would represent an undertaking at once impracticable and hopeless. But
it is rather the blasting influence of the east wind that is referred to, so that it is a figurative representation, not so much of what is vain and hopeless, as of what is pernicious and destructive. Thus their course was not only idle, but injurious; not only delusive, but destructive; not only fruitless, but fatal. Their career, which is thus represented, included their idolatry and foreign alliances Kimchi explains this clause as follows: "In his service of the calves he is like him who opens his mouth to the wind and feeds on it, though he cannot support life thereby." And followeth after the east wind; ' he repeats the sense in different words, and mentions the east wind because it is the strongest and most injurious of winds to the sons of men. So with them: it is not enough that the idolatry of the calves does not profit them, but it actually injures them."
The Septuagint rendering is
Ὁ δὲ Ἐφραὶμ πονηρὸν πνεῦμα ἐδίωξε
, equivalent to "But Ephraim is an evil spirit; he has chased the east wind."
all the day
increaseth lies and desolation.
Some understood these words
as descriptive of Ephraim's attitude towards Jehovah; and thus what is figuratively set forth in the first clause is here represented literally. Thus Kimchi says, "He does not turn back from his wickedness, but all the days he multiplies lying which is the worship of the calves, and so increases the desolation and destruction that shall come as a punishment for their service. And with all this he does not perceive nor return from the worship of the calves to the worship of the blessed God." But
we prefer understanding the second clause of Ephraim's conduct towards his neighbor or fellow-man. Titus, Hitzig, who shows that
cannot refer to their conduct towards Jehovah, nor could their lies and desolation continue the whole day if referred to his service.
," or "spoil," are also jointed in a similar manner in
, to characterize men's conduct towards their neighbors. In the passage before us, if we refer the words, "lies and desolation," as we think they ought to be referred, to Ephraim's conduct towards men, the
may be distinguished thus: the former designates low lying and fraudulent dealing; while the latter expresses that brutal violence by which dishonest men unscrupulously take possession of their neighbors' property.
And they do make a covenant with the Assyrians, and oil is carried into Egypt
. This fondness for foreign alliances is specified as a positive proof of their apostasy from, and want of confidence in, Jehovah. This is well explained by Kimchi in the following comment: "But what doeth Ephraim? When oppression of the enemy comes upon him, they make a covenant with Assyria for their assistance, and likewise with Egypt - one time with this, another time with that." The expression
, "to cut a covenant," has its parallel in the Greek
, as also in the Arabic, doubtless from the circumstance of slaying the victims in its ratification. The conduct here censured is Ephraim's faithlessness to the then static covenant rather than their treacherous maneuvering in "playing off" Egypt against Assyria, and Assyria against Egypt alternately. The land of Israel abounded in oil-olive and honey, as we read in
and elsewhere. The object of sending it to Egypt was as a present to the Egyptians to secure their interest and help against Assyria. It is thus properly explained both by Rash! and Kimchi. The former says, "And their oil they bring to Egypt to give it to them as a present that they may help them;" the latter likewise, "They bring their oil to the Egyptians for a present, for oil came to Egypt and to other lands out of the land of Israel. The land of Israel was rich in olive oil."
The LORD hath also a controversy with Judah, and will punish Jacob according to his ways; according to his doings will he recompense him.
The Lord hath also a controversy with Judah; and will punish
Jacob according to his ways
. God here presents himself at once as plaintiff and judge, widening the range of his pleadings. The controversy with Israel takes a wider sweep, and comprehends Judah culpable, though apparently in a less degree. But though Judah comes in for a share of punishment, that punishment shall be proportionate to their delinquencies - those like Judah that sinned less shall suffer less; while the more heinous transgressors, such as Israel had proved to be, would come in for severer punishment. To Jacob, here embracing the ten tribes of Israel and the two of Judah, the chastisement would be meted out in exact accordance with his ways. The apparent contradiction between ver. 12 of last chapter, where, as most translate it, Judah is represented as ruling with God and being faithful with the saints, and the present inclusion of Judah in controversy with Jehovah, occasioned
a rendering and explanation of this verse which Aben Ezra declares to be both ungrammatical and unscriptural. "He" says Aben Ezra." who explains that Judah is faithful and he shall be reproving, and asserts that Scripture makes no mention of Jehovah having a controversy against Judah, but [employs]
the sense being that Jehovah and Judah have a strife against Ephraim, errs from the way of Scripture and grammar, for the prophet has written above (ver. 13), 'Judah saw his wound;' 'I will make Ephraim to ride; Judah shall plough;' and in reference to both of them he says,' Ye shall eat the fruit of lies.' He also forgets 'The herdmen of Gerar did strive with (
) Isaac's herdmen;' 'And the people strove with Moses;' and many other places [i.e. where
is found with the sense of 'contending']. Therefore he joins Ephraim with Judah, and says, 'The Lord hath also a controversy with Judah, and will punish Jacob according to his ways, because this name (i.e. Jacob) comprehends them both (Ephraim and Judah)."
The meaning is given concisely and correctly by Rashi thus: "He (Jehovah) announces to them the words of his controversy which their brethren of the house of Israel had caused him; and they should not wonder if he would punish (literally, 'visit on') Jacob according to his ways." The change in the case of Judah, Kimchi accounts for by reference to their subsequent apostasy, especially that of their kings, as follows: "Although he said, 'And Judah yet reigneth with God,' he meant, although be holds fast by the service of God in the house of the sanctuary; so afterwards they practiced evil deeds as their kings were evil; therefore he said,' Jehovah has a controversy and correction with Judah and Jacob to visit upon them according to their doings, as their kings were evil, for they did not remember my mercy with them and with their father Jacob, because the whole was for sake of his posterity; and I showed him a sign which should be to his seed after him, if they gave their heart to me.... And the sign which I showed them is only done for sake of his seed. But they have not acknowledged this, for if they had acknowledged this, they would have cleaved to me and my service, and I would have ratified to them the blessing of Jacob their father.'" The infinitive with
is not infrequently employed in the sense of our future, thus,
, it is to be visited, equivalent to "he shall or must visit upon it' This idiom is common in Syriac, but always with
According to his doings will he recompense him.
The milder expression is applied to Judah - he has a controversy with him, but will punish Jacob, restricted by some to Ephraim or the ten tribes. Better understand Jacob of both Judah and Israel, who are both to be recompensed, each according to his works.
He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength he had power with God:
He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength he had power
was a prince
behaved himself princely
God. In this verse and the following the prophet looks away back into the far-distant past; and this retrospect, which is suggested by the names Jacob and Israel, reminds him of two well-known events in the life of the patriarch-The meaning and intention of this reminiscence are differently interpreted. The two leading views are the following:
Some are of opinion that the prophet means to give an example by way of warning, and to mention a trait of Jacob's overreaching cunning, and likewise of his violence, and thereby show that Jacob had incurred guilt in a manner resembling that of the then present generation; that is to say, his conduct had been like to theirs in deceit, lying, and violence. But
according to others, and we agree with them, the object of the prophet in these verses is to admonish them to imitate the conduct of their progenitor, and to remind them of the distinction which he had obtained thereby, as an encourage-merit to them to go and do likewise.
Another interpretation, somewhat similar to
, is that of those who admit that Jacob's laying hold of his brother's heel in the womb is proposed to his posterity by the prophet for the purpose of emulation and encouragement, at the same time to exhibit God's electing grace from eternity. Thus Jerome: "While he was yet in the womb of Rebekah, he laid hold of his brother's heel, not by his own strength, it is true, who was incapable of perception, but by the mercy of God, who knows and loves those whom he has predestinated." So also Rashi: "All this I have done to him; he took his brother by the heel for a sign that he would prevail over him." Calvin explains more fully thus: "Their ingratitude is showed in this, that they did not acknowledge that they had been anticipated, in the person of their father Jacob, by the gratuitous mercy of God. The first history is indeed referred to for this end, that the posterity of Jacob might understand that they had been elected by God before they were born. For Jacob did not, by choice or design, lay hold of the heel of his brother in his mother's womb; but it was an extraordinary thing. It was, then, God who guided the hand of the infant and by this sign testified his adoption to be gratuitous. In short, by saying that Jacob held the foot of his brother in his mother's womb, the same thing is intended as if God had reminded the Israelites that they did not excel other people by their own virtue or that of their parents, but that God of his own good pleasure had chosen them." Aben Ezra and Kimchi explain the seizing of Esau's heel by Jacob as owing to the impartation of Divine power, but as a sign of victory over his enemies. We must reject
for the following reasons:
The reference is not to
overreaching Esau is recorded, but to
, where it is written, "
that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau's heel;"
the patriarchs are always exhibited as patterns of piety -
sea never employs the name Israel in any but an honorable sense. We must elect between
; and we incline to
, as the gist of the passage is to exhibit Jacob's earnestness in seeking the Divine blessing as an example to his posterity. Already in his mother's womb, before he saw the light of the world even in his condition of
, he had laid hold of the heel of his elder brother Esau, in order to anticipate him as the firstborn, and thereby appropriate the Divine promises. The second clause describes how with zeal, by labor and effort, he had struggled for the position of pre-eminence, sorely struggling for the Divine blessing. In the maturity of his manhood he wrestled with God, or rather with the angel of the covenant, and prevailed so that his name was changed to Israel. This picture the prophet presents to Jacob's posterity for their imitation, with implied promise of like happy result. Though Aben Ezra and Kimchi, in their exposition of the verse, rather explain in their own way the significance of the original event as recorded in Genesis than the application which the prophet here makes of it, yet it may not be out of place to subjoin their comments, which are as follows: Aben Ezra, "With respect to him who explains 'in the womb' in the sense that Jehovah then decreed the matter of the birthright and blessing, I know not how the meaning of 'in the womb' bears on that, as the Scripture
, 'Before I formed thee in the womb I knew thee.' According to my opinion it should be taken according to its literal sense, that ' he took his brother by the heel in the womb; ' and this is made clear by' and his hand took hold on Esau's heel.' Now the purport is, 'Why do the sons of Jacob not remember that I chose their father, and effected preeminence for him over all that are born? For when he was in the womb I gave him strength to lay hold of the heel, and this was as the working of a miracle, for the fetus has, in the womb and at the time of the opening of the matrix, no strength to lay hold of anything until it comes forth from the womb into the air of the world. And lo! when he was in the womb I gave him strength; and afterwards he wrestled with the angel, and he (the angel) did not prevail over him, although one angel
the whole host of Assyria, and from his sight the children of men flee in terror as David who was frightened; how much
it to wrestle with him.' The meaning is that all the children of the world should know that his (
) seed shall endure for ever, and in the end conquer his enemies. But Ephraim thinks that Ephraim himself has found the power." The comment of Kimchi on the first part of the verse is much the same with that of Aben Ezra just cited; while on the concluding clause he remarks, "And yet another sign I have shown him to be a sign to his children after him, for I gave him strength to wrestle with the angel and to be a prince in relation to him as if he was in the same rank with him. And this sign I showed him that his sons would be the portion of Jehovah alone, that star and angel should not prevail over them all the time they would do my pleasure, and by the signs of the heavens they should not be terrified, for they have no strength (physical) nor power (moral) over them, because the providence of God most blessed cleaves to them during all the period they would do my will, nor shall they succumb to any accident of time."
Yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed: he wept, and made supplication unto him: he found him
Bethel, and there he spake with us;
Yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed: he wept, and made supplication unto him.
As Jacob's position at birth symbolized the pre-eminence which God's electing love had in store for him, and as in his manhood's prime he put forth such earnestness and energy to obtain the blessing, so Israel, by the example of their forefather, are encouraged to like strenuous exertion with like certainty of success. The example is more fully described and dwelt on in this verse for the purpose of more powerfully stimulating the Israelites of the prophet's day to imitate it. From this verse we learn the following facts:
the nature of the conflict as of a spiritual kind;
the visible embodiment of the invisible deity, so that the angel is not an entire identification with God in the preceding verse, but the organ of Divine manifestation; and
the weapons used, or the means employed, namely, weeping and supplication, in a word, the instrumentality of prayer; and
the true way of prevailing with God, which is real humility and sin-core supplication, not stiff, necked and defiant resistance to the Divine will and word, like that of Israel at the period in question. This verse "is," according to Aben Ezra, "
explanation how he put forth prowess with God." Kimchi regards it as "the repetition of the same thought for the put. pose of intensifying, for it was a great wonder for a man to wrestle with an angel."
commences a new clause; while
the punctuation of it as a participle,
, and the connection of it with "prevailed," leaves the following clause isolated without any improvement of the sense. The rendering in this latter case would be "prevailed weeping," a somewhat awkward expression. But
there is an exposition adopted by the Hebrew expositors and advocated by Hitzig, which appears to us to do violence to the true signification of the passage. Thus Rashi: "And the angel besought him, ' Let me now go. The end of the Holy and Blessed One is that he may reveal himself to thee in Bethel, and there shalt thou find him.'" Similarly Aben Ezra: "He (the angel) almost wept and supplicated him to let him go. And the signification of
, is: 'before the light strengthened, that Jacob might not be alarmed.'" Also Kimchi: "This is not mentioned in the Thorah; and the explanation is as if the angel wept and supplicated Jacob to let him go, as he said, 'Let me go, for' the day breaketh.'" Such exposition introduces into the text an intolerable anthropopathism. Jerome long before had given the correct explanation thus: "
wept and asked him, when he said, 'I will not let thee go, unless thou shalt have blessed me!' For the wrestling was that which he engaged in with the angel, holding him by prayers that he might bless him, not by the strength of work. If any one weeps and exercises penitence, and supplicates the Lord, he shall find him in the grief of his heart, and when he has invoked him, he shall hear him answering."
He found him in Bethel, and there he spake with us.
The prophet here records the result of Jacob's faithful wrestling. Them in Bethel, the very place where years after idolatry and immorality found a home, God had manifested himself to the patriarch. The fruit of Jacob's victory was that
he found God at Bethel; not that
God found him, as some explain it.
The historical basis of the prophet's statement is not
, which narrates the appearance of God to the patriarch as he fled into Mesopotamia, but
, when the new name of Israel, "prince with God," was confirmed to him, and the promise of all the families of the earth being blessed through his seed renewed. Of the two visions at Bethel the second is the one here referred to, as it comes after that at Penuel, the scene of the patriarch's wrestling with the angel; while the accompanying circumstances keep us to the right understanding of the expression, "He found him in Bethel," which we are considering. Jacob on that memorable occasion prepared himself and household for seeking God by putting away the strange gods that were among them, by ceremonial purifications, and putting on change of garments. Thus, seeking with holy purpose and prepared heart, he found the Lord at Bethel, and enjoyed heavenly fellowship with him there. Aben Ezra favors
making Jehovah, not Jacob, the subject; thus: "As he was returning to his father, the angel found him there; and because the angel appeared to him twice in Bethel, behold the place is the gate of heaven; therefore I and Amos have prophesied about Jeroboam at Bethel, which is the place of his kingdom." Kimchi approves of the exposition of the angel finding Jacob, but mentions a modification of that of Jacob finding the angel; thus: "The angel found him in Bethel and also blessed him there; and the word
, equivalent to 'found him,' is the future instead of the past. But my lord my father, of blessed memory, explains it according to its literal import, that the angel said to him (when wrestling with him) that he would find him in Bethel The blessed God announced to him the good tidings that he would there manifest himself to him and call his name Israel." The last clause of this verse states the additional fact that God spoke
through the patriarch to his posterity. "Let it be observed," says Lackemacher, as quoted by Keil, "that God is said to have talked at Bethel, not with Jacob only, but with all his posterity. That is to say, the things which are here said to have been done by Jacob, and to have happened to him, had not regard to himself only, but to all the race that sprang from him, and were signs of the good fortune which they either would or certainly might enjoy." Though the suffix of
, in the Massoretic text is well attested, yet, instead of
the third person, Ewald reads it
as the first plural, and consequently so renders the word that the clause implies, not a narrative of the past, but a prophecy of the future; thus:
"He will find at Bethel, and there he will speak with us." The. Septuagint, again, with other Greek versions, as also the Syriac and Arabic, read in the last part of the clause
, equivalent "to him," instead of
, equivalent to "us," which identifies the patriarch with his posterity. The translation by which a relative is understood before
lent to "Them he spoke to Jacob the things that are with
," or "happened us," or "pertained to us," is neither necessary nor in accordance with good taste. Kimchi understands the verb in the present tense that is, God speaks
- Hosea and the other prophets, to reprove the idolatry rampant in Bethel;
rather with the prophet and the people descended from the patriarch. On the words, "there he spake with us," Kimchi comments as follows: "These are the words of the prophet. He says, ' There in Bethel he (Jehovah) speaks with me and with Amos to reprove Israel for the worship of the calf in Bethel,' as Amos (
) says, 'Seek ye me, and ye shall live: but seek not Bethel.' But my lord my father, of blessed memory, explained 'And there he will speak with us' as the words of the angel. He (the angel) says to him (Jacob), 'The blessed God will find us in Bethel, and there he will speak
with us, with me and with thee, in order to confirm to thee my blessing, and to call thy name Israel, saying, For as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.'" But others, as Saadia Gaon, explain the word, not in the sense of "with us," but
"on account of us," or "about us."
Even the LORD God of hosts; the LORD
Even the Lord God of hosts; the Lord is his memorial.
Here we have at once a confirmation and a pledge of previous promises. Jacob had wronged Esau, and thereby incurred his displeasure; he had offended God by the injury inflicted on his brother. He is consequently in a position of peril with respect to both God and man; he repented of his sin, and with many and bitter tears supplicated safety - salvation in the highest sense. Jacob, or Israel, in Hosea's time were involved in greater guilt and exposed to greater danger; the same unfailing remedy is recommended to them, and the same way of safety is laid open before them; let them only repent, turn to the Lord, and with tears of genuine sorrow seek his face and favor free; and the prospect would soon brighten before them. The Name of God was a sufficient guarantee: he is Jehovah the Everlasting, and therefore
One - the same to Jacob's posterity as he had been to the patriarch himself, equally ready to accept their repentance and equally willing to bless them with safety and salvation. He is God of hosts, and thus the
One, governing all creatures, guiding all events, commanding all powers both heavenly and earthly, and ruling the whole history of humanity. His name is a remembrancer of all this, and thus his people were assured that he neither lacks the will nor the power to bless them with all needful blessings, and do them greatest good. The name of an individual is that whereby he is known; on mention of his name the memory of him is recalled. The mention of the Divine Name not only reminds us of his being and Godhead, but recalls to our memory his attributes. Rashi has the following brief comment on this verse: "As I have been from the beginning, so am I now; and if ye had walked with me in uprightness as Jacob our father, I would have dealt with you as dealt with him." Thus to Abram in a land of strangers, imperiled and defenseless, God revealed himself as God Almighty; to Moses, after centuries of unfulfilled promise, he made himself known as the Unchanging One, still challenging the confidence of his people; to Hosea he brings to mind his unchanging counsel in regard to all the events of time and his unlimited control over all the realms of space and their inhabitants, and so the suitability of his attributes to the multiplied necessities and varying circumstances of his people.
Therefore turn thou to thy God: keep mercy and judgment, and wait on thy God continually.
Therefore turn thou to thy God: keep mercy and judgment, and wait on thy God continually.
God's character in itself, and his conduct towards the great forefather of the Hebrew race, call at once for confidence and contrition. The evidence of their repentance is twofold: one aspect is manward, consisting of mercy and judgment; the other is Godward, being a constant waiting upon God. The literal rendering brings out the meaning more clearly; it is, "And thou, in [or, 'by'] thy God thou shalt return." If we render the preposition by "in," we may understand it to imply entire dependence on God, or close and cordial fellowship with God; if we take it to mean "by," it signifies the power or help of God; while the return is moral and spiritual, with perhaps material and literal restoration implied A parallel for b
in the signification of "by" occurs in the first chapter of this book at the seventh verse: "I will save them by (
) the Lord their God;" also in
, "O people saved by (
) the Lord." We prefer the former sense as more simple and suitable; it is concisely and correctly explained by Keil as follows: "'
is a pregnant expression, as in
, 'So turn as to enter into vital fellowship with God; ' that is, to be truly converted.... The next two clauses are to be taken as explanatory of
. The conversion is to show itself i, the perception of love and right towards their brethren, and in constant trust in God." The difference between
is that the latter signifies "to return
," and the former "to return into," and thus expresses inward union with him. The general sense of the clause is thus expressed by Aben Ezra: "If thou wouldst return to God, he would be thy help to bring thee back to him;" and by Kimchi as follows: "But thou who art the seed of Jacob, if thou art willing, canst return unto thy God,
thou canst rest in him, as 'In returning and rest shall ye be saved' (
)." The second point of the verse has an instructive parallel in
, "What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" In regard to the waiting upon God, of which the last clause speaks, Aben Ezra has the pithy remark, "Depend not upon thy riches nor thy strength, for the strength thou hadst from him, also the riches." Kimchi comments on the same more fully, as follows: "On this condition thou canst rest and not be afraid of the enemy, if thou wilt observe to do mercy and judgment: for his conditions are as he said, 'I am the Lord which exercise loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.' And although he does not mention righteousness here, yet he has said in another place, 'Keep ye judgment, and to justice [literally, 'righteousness'].' And he says here, 'And wait upon thy God continually;' now it is righteousness and equity that thou waitest on thy God continually. And even when thou shalt have great possession and riches and wealth, thou shalt say to thyself, ' It is all from him; thou shall remember him continually and wait on him, as he says in the Law (
), ' Thou shalt remember the Lord thy God, for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth; not like Ephraim, who says, 'I am become rich, I have found me out substance.'" The Septuagint has
, equivalent to "draw near
," having probably read
a merchant, the balances of deceit
in his hand: he loveth to oppress.
contain a fresh description of Israel's apostasy. To this the prophet is led by the preceding train of thought. When he called to mind the earnestness of the patriarch to obtain the blessing, the sincerity of his repentance, and the evidences of conversion, consisting in mercy and judgment and constant waiting on God, he looks around on Israel, and finding those virtues conspicuous by their absence., he repeats the story of their degeneracy.
He is a merchant
the balances of deceit are in his hand: he loveth to oppress
. This verse is more exactly rendered,
Canaan is he, in his hand are the balances of deceit: he loveth to oppress
. How the sons have degenerated from the sire! No longer do we see Jacob wrestling in prayer with the angel of the covenant, and knighted in the field with the name of Israel, or "prince with God;" but a fraudulent merchant
, seeking to aggrandize himself by cheating and oppression. His conduct is the opposite of what God requires; instead of the mercy and judgment and trust in God enjoined in the preceding verse, we have the Canaanitish (Phoenician) trader, with his false scales in his hand and the love of oppression in his heart. The word Kenaan sometimes denotes
, the son of Ham, and ancestor of the Canaanitish nation; sometimes the
land of Canaan
, or lowlands (from
, bow the knee,
γονυ γνυ γνυπετεῖν
, knee; then "to be low" or "depressed") as opposed to
, or" highlands" (from
, to be high); sometimes
, the northern part of Canaan; also, from the Canaanites or Phoenicians having been famous as merchants, a
man of Canaan
, or any
, just as
is applied to an astrologer. At the time of Hosea, the Phoenicians were the great merchants who had the commerce of the world in their hand. Canaan is thus a figurative designation of Ephraim in their degenerate condition as indicated by the false balances and love of oppression. The verse is well explained by Theodoret: "And thou, Ephraim, imitating
wickedness of Canaan
, hast an unjust balance of mind: thou despisest justice, thou greedily desirest unjust power, thou art high-minded in rich, S, and dost arrogate to thyself very much in prescribing and determining the conditions thereof." Rashi more briefly remarks, "Ye depend upon your wealth because ye are merchants and defraud; and of your riches ye say, 'Yet I have become rich, and shall not serve the Holy One;'" while Kimchi marks the contrast between Israel as he ought to be and Israel as he actually is, thus: "But thou art not so (i.e. practicing love and righteousness), but thou art like the Canaanite,
, in whose hand is the deceitful balance." The character of the Phoenician trader is thus given in the 'Odyssey' - "A false Phoenician of insidious mind, Vers'd in vile arts, and foe to humankind." But, in addition to secret fraud, open violence is here charged against Israel.
And Ephraim said, Yet I am become rich, I have found me out substance:
all my labours they shall find none iniquity in me that
And Ephraim said, Yet I am become rich, I have found me out substance.
Ephraim in this verse boasts of his riches, though procured by fraud and violence, while he maintains at the same time that he has not sinned thereby so as to expose himself to punishment or deserve severe reprehension. The particle -
- has two principal meanings:
"only." In the former sense the clause
may allude to the injunction contained in ver. 6 to wait on God, and may signify, "No doubt I have become rich, yet not through Divine help, but by my own exertions;" in the latter sense it may signify,
"I have only become rich; I have done nothing else; I have done nothing amiss" Aben Ezra regards
as introducing the apodosis, and explains it nearly in the sense of
, thus: "The sense of
is, 'God has not given me the wealth,
I by myself [
. my own unaided efforts] have become rich, for I am not as the Canaanite,' that is, the merchant, as 'There shall be no more the Canaanite' (
) ;" he then proceeds to show the connection, "And the meaning [according to the context] is, 'Why does he say, Keep mercy and judgment, and be not an oppressor like the Canaanite [nor am I]? yet all is my own honest earning; none of the sons of men shall find that I have sinned.'" The interpretation of Kimchi is similar, but somewhat simpler, thus: "The words, 'I am become rich,' are the opposite of 'Wait on thy God continually.' But he (Ephraim) does not wait on God the blessed, and he does not acknowledge that he gave him strength to acquire wealth, but says, 'My own power and the strength of my hands have made for me this wealth,' and he forgetteth God the blessed, who gave him power to work, as it is written in the Law (
), 'And thou forget the Lord thy God.' This is what he (the prophet) means by 'I have become rich;' he means to say, 'I have become rich from myself,'"
by my own labor. The word
denotes both physical or bodily strength, and also, like
, riches, Latin
ably as procured thereby. The flourishing state of the kingdom during the reigns of Joash and Jeroboam II. may have induced their overweening self-confidence and their amazing forgetfulness of God, and at the same time this surprising ignorance of their real condition.
The Septuagint rendering is
εὕρηκα ἀναψυχὴν ἐμαυτῷ
, "I have found refreshment for myself," and Jerome, "Inveni mihi idolum," as if
had been read instead of
In all my labors they shall find none iniquity in me that were sin
all my labors suffice me not:
he shall bare
punishment of iniquity in whom is sin
. Here two modes of construction are possible and each has had its advocates; thus,
of the verb, as in the LXX., which is, "None of his labors shall be found available for him on account of the sins he has committed." This is the rendering followed and interpreted by Cyril and Theodoret.
The words in question, instead of being taken as the subject to the verb, may be employed
or with the ellipsis of a preposition, as in the Authorized Version; thus: "As to my labors, or the fruits of my labors," for
, is used in both senses. The meaning of the passage then is
that, besides the sins of fraud and oppression, Ephraim did not shrink through shame to vindicate his conduct and to maintain that. in all the riches he had acquired with such labor, no one could show that those riches had been unjustly acquired by him, or that there was sin contracted in their acquisition. Thus Kimchi: "He (the prophet) mentions another vice, saying that he (Ephraim) oppresses, and asserts that, in all he has labored for and gathered together, they shall not be able to find
any riches of iniquity and sin.
is the same as iniquity
sin, and thus (
) 'it is good and comely' (
here also for
). Or the explanation of it is:
They shall not find with me iniquity. nor any matter in which there is sin pertaining to me. And
is less than
iniquity, for sin comes sometimes by reason of error. Or the explanation of 'iniquity which were sin' is:
Iniquity in which there was sin to me; as if he said, with regard to which I had sinned; for if riches came into my hand through iniquity and robbery, it was not with my knowledge; he means: so that I sinned in relation to it, and took it by iniquity with my knowledge; and in this way (
) 'they lade themselves with the iniquity of trespass;
being in construct state, that is to say, iniquity with regard to which they trespassed."
signifies "belonging to me;" while
is read, not as a noun, but as a verb in the Septuagint,
The Chaldee, which is explained by Rashi, gives an explanation identical, though only partially so, with the marginal rendering of the Authorized Version, namely, "It were good for thee if thou consideredst with thyself: all my riches do not suffice me, in order to expiate the iniquity which I have committed." This, and the marginal reading - both where they coincide and where they diverge - we must unhesitatingly reject as far-fetched, artificial, and having no real basis in the text. To their other sins Israel added this protestation of innocence, which was the solemn protestation of a falsehood. The clause
may admit another sense; thus: If in ray gains by labor iniquity should be found, that indeed would be sin; but such is not the case. Thus, like the Pharisees of a later age, did they justify themselves before men; but God knew their hollow-hearted hypocrisy.
the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt will yet make thee to dwell in tabernacles, as in the days of the solemn feast.
And I that am the Lord thy God from the land of Egypt will yet make thee to dwell in tabernacles, as in the days of the solemn feast.
This verse consists of two parts which in the original are coordinated; but in the Authorized Version the one is subordinated to the other by supplying an awkward and unnecessary ellipsis. It is better, therefore, to translate thus: And I
am the Lord thy God, from the land of Egypt: I will yet make thee to dwell in tabernacles, as in the days of the solemn feast. Some understand this verse as a threatening; not a few as a promise; while others combine both.
Theodoret, who may be taken as representing the first class of interpreters, comments thus: "That thou mayest understand this and learn wisdom by thy calamity, I will bring thee back again to that point that thou must again dwell in tents and wander as an exile in a foreign land."
Kimchi may represent those who understand it as a promise, or rather a promise with an implied threatening, and thus combine both. His exposition is as follows: "Even so am I ready to bring you forth out of the captivity where ye shall Be, as I did when I brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, and sustained you in the wilderness and made you dwell in tents; so am I ready yet again, when I shall have brought you forth out of the lands of the Gentiles, to cause you to dwell in tents in the wilderness by the way, and to show you wonders until ye shall return to your land in peace."
Wunsche rejects both the preceding, and refers the statement to the other, present time, taking
, not in the sense of "yet again," but in the equally allowable meaning of "further," or "still further;" thus his rendering of the verse is, "And yet I am thy God from Egypt, still I let thee dwell in tents, as in the days of the solemn feast." Thus we have a remembrance of God's goodness to Israel all along from the Exodus to the time then present, including the celebration of their feasts, especially that of Taber-uncles, the most joyful of them all. This is favored by the interpretation of Aben Ezra, which is the following: "The sense is, 'Shouldst thou not remember that I brought thee up out of the land of Egypt in great riches for which thou didst not labor, and nourished thee in the wilderness when thou wast in tents?' In like manner he shall be able to do unto thee as in the days of the solemn feast of thy coming out of Egypt." We prefer, notwithstanding, the exposition number
, which includes, or rather implies, a threatening of being driven out of their good laud into a wilderness state, because of their forgetfulness of, and ingratitude to, God, as also because of their proud self-confidence; while, with this implied threat of punishment, God holds out to them the promise and prospect of like guiding care and sheltering guardianship, as in that early period of their history, the remembrance of which was still kept up by the
, or Feast of Tabernacles, during the seven days of which the people dwelt in booths, in commemoration of their having dwelt in booths in the wilderness after they had been delivered out of the land of Egypt. Thus, as Hengstenberg has well observed, "the preterit is changed into a future through the ingratitude of the nation." Vers. 10 and 11 prove God's continual care for the spiritual welfare and best interests of Israel all along, and, at the same time, the inexcusableness of Israel in forgetting God and in arrogating to themselves the power of controlling their own destinies in the matter of wealth and prosperity; while multiplied prophecies and visions testified to both, vie. to God's care and Israel's recklessness of warnings. Moreover, their persistence in sin prepared them for and precipitated the punishment.
I have also spoken by the prophets, and I have multiplied visions, and used similitudes, by the ministry of the prophets.
I have also spoken to the prophets, and I have multiplied visions, and used similitudes, by the ministry of the prophets.
before the verb in the beginning of the verse is copulative, and the verb is in the preterit as the accent is on the penult; if the
were conversive of the preterit into the future, the verb would have the accent on the ultimate. The preterit denotes what has been taking place up to the present.
by Knobel to denote that the Divine revelation or inspiration descended on the prophets from heaven; but
Kimchi explains it as equivalent to
, with; thus: "'Upon (
) the prophets ' is the same as ' with (
) the prophets,' as (in
), 'And they came both men and women [literally, 'men,
, or rather in addition to, women']. He (Jehovah) says, 'What could I do to you and I did not do it, so that ye should not forget me? And what did I do with your fathers? I spoke constantly with the prophets to admonish you from me, and I multiplied visions to you many days.'" The Authorized Version
employs "by" as the equivalent of
here. The pronoun
is emphatic, viz. "I even I," as though he said, "I and not another;" while the preterit proves Jehovah to have continued his visions to the very moment at which the prophet speaks. To the word
use similitudes, some supply a verbal noun of corporate sense,
. This, however, is unnecessary, as a verb often includes its cognate noun, of which we have several similar ellipses, e.g.
, "They bare
understood] to them;" also
, "They shall set themselves in array [
understood] against her." The LXX.
, "I was represented; "and Jerome renders it
. The three modes of Divine communication here referred to are prediction, vision, and similitude. The word for
, is used here as a collective; it differs from the dream in being higher degree of Divine revelation, also the senses of the receiver are awake and active, while in the dream they are inoperative and passive. Of the
, again, we have examples in Isaiah's parable of a vineyard (
.), and in Ezekiel's similitude of a wretched infant, to represent the natural state of Jerusalem. Aben Ezra remarks, I have established emblems and comparisons that ye might understand me;" and Kimchi, "I have given emblems and parables by means of the prophets, as Isaiah says, 'My well-beloved hath a vineyard;' and Ezekiel, 'Thy birth and thy nativity is of the land of Canaan.' And the explanation of
is that by their hand he sends them emblems and similitudes as (
) 'which the Lord hath spoken unto them by the hand of Moses'" Thus God, as Rosenmüller observes, "left no means of admonishing them untried."
Is there iniquity in Gilead? surely they are vanity.
In reference to hypotheticals, Driver remarks, "With an
in protasis. The apodosis may then begin
con. and the perfect;
with the infinitive (without
with perfect alone (expressing the certainty and suddenness with which the result immediately accomplishes the occurrence of the promise.
in apodesis, 'of the certain future')." The first part of this clause has been variously rendered. Some take
affirmatively, in the sense
of certainly, assuredly
; others translate it
interrogatively, as in the Authorized Version, though even thus it would be more accurately rendered:
Is Gilead iniquity of
Pusey, following the common version, explains it as follows: 'The prophet asks the question in order to answer it more peremptorily. He raises the doubt in order to crush it the more impressively.' Is there iniquity in Gilead? 'Alas I there was nothing else.
Surely they are vanity
; or, strictly,
they have become merely vanity
." There does not appear, however, sufficient reason for departing from the ordinary meaning of the word,
If Gilead i, iniquity
surely they have become vanity
. The clause thus rendered may denote one of two things - either - (
) moral worthlessness followed by physical nothingness, that is, moral decay followed by physical - sin succeeded by suffering; or (
) progress in moral corruption. To the former exposition corresponds the comment of Kimchi, as follows: "'If Gilead began to work vanity (nothingness),' for they began to do wickedness first, and they have been first carried into captivity.
can connect itself with what precedes, so that its meaning is about Gilead which he has mentioned, and the sense would be repeated in different words. Or its sense shall be in connection with Gilgal. And although zakeph is on the word
, all the accents of the inter. prefers do not follow after the accents of the points." Similarly Rashi: "If disaster and oppression come upon them (the Gileadites) they have caused it to themselves, for certainly they are worthlessness, and sacrifies bullocks to idols in Gilgal. The verb
is a prophetic perfect implying the certainty of the prediction, as though already an accomplished fact." The exposition of Aben Ezra favors (
); thus: "If the Gileadites, before I sent prophets to them, were worthlessness, surely they have become vanity, that is, instead of being morally better, they have become worse." To this exposition we find a parallel in
, "They have walked after vanity, and are become vain."
They sacrifice bullocks in Gilgal.
. The inhabitanta of Gilgal on the west were no better than the Gileadites on the east of Jordan; the whole kingdom, in fact, was overrun with idolatry. The sin of the people of Gilgal did not consist in the animals offered, but in the unlawfulness of the place of sacrifice. The punishment of both Gilgal and Gilead is denounced in the following part of the verse.
Yea, their altars are as heaps in the furrows of the fields.
Gilead signified" heap of witnesses," and Gilgal "heaping heap. The latter was mentioned in
and Hosea 9:15 as a notable center of idol-worship ("all their wickedness is in Gilgal") and retained, as we learn from the present passage, its notoriety for unlawful sacrifices, sacrifices customarily and continually offered (viz. iterative sense of Piel); the former was signalized in
as "a city of them that work iniquity," and "polluted with blood." The altars in both places are to be turned into stone-heaps; this is expressed by a play on words so frequent in Hebrew; at Gilead as well as Gilgal they are to become
, or heaps of stones, such as husbandmen gather off ploughed and leave in useless heaps for the greater convenience of removal,
(related to toll, a hill, that which is thrown up) is a furrow as formed by casting up or tearing into. The ruinous heaps of the altars implied, not only their destruction, but the desolation of the country. The altars would become dilapidated heaps, and the country depopulated. The Hebrew interpreters, however, connect with the heap-like altars the idea of number and conspicuousness: this they make prominent as indicating the gross idolatry of the people. Thus Rabbi: "Their altars are numerous as heaps in the furrows of the field.
is the furrow of the plougher, called
;" Aben Ezra: "
is by way of figure, because they were numerous and conspicuous." Pococke combines with the idea of number that of ruinous heaps - "rude heaps of stones, in his sight; and such they should become, no one stone being left in order upon another." Kimchi's comment on the verse is the following: "The children of Gilgal were neighbors to the land of Gilead, only the Jordan was between them; they learnt also their ways (doings), and began to serve idols like them, and to practice iniquity and vanity, and sacrificed oxen to strange gods in the place where they had raised an altar to Jehovah the blessed, and where they had set up the tabernacle at the first after they had passed over Jordan: there also they sacrificed oxen to their idols. Not enough that they made an altar in Gilgal to idols, but they also built outside the city altars many and conspicuous, like heaps of stones on the furrows of the field."
Gilead? surely they are vanity: they sacrifice bullocks in Gilgal; yea, their altars
as heaps in the furrows of the fields.
And Jacob fled into the country of Syria, and Israel served for a wife, and for a wife he kept
Verses 12, 13.
And Jacob fled into the country of Syria, and Israel served for a wife, and for a wife he kept sheep. And by a prophet the Lord brought Israel out of Egypt, and by a prophet was he preserved
. The connection of this verse with what precedes has been variously explained. The flight of Israel and his servitude are intended, according to Umbreit, "to bring out the double servitude of Israel - the first, the one which the people had to endure in their forefather; the second, the one which they had to endure themselves in Egypt." Cyril and Theodoret understand them to give prominence to Jacob's zeal for the blessing of the birthright, and his obedience to the command of God and his parents. Pusey says, "Jacob chose poverty and servitude rather than marry an idolatress of Canaan. He knew not whence, except from God's bounty and providence, he should have bread to eat or raiment to put on; with his staff alone he passed over Jordan. His voluntary poverty, bearing even unjust losses, and repaying the things which he never took, reproved their dishonest traffic; his trustfulness in God, their mistrust; his devotedness to God, their alienation from him and their devotion to idols." There may be an element of truth in each of these explanations, and an approximation to the true sense; but none of them tallies exactly with the context. There is a contrast between the flight of the lonely tribe-father across the Syrian desert, and the guidance of his posterity by a prophet of the Lord through the wilderness; Jacob's servitude in Padan-aram with Israel's redemption from the bondage of Egypt; the guarding of sheep by the patriarch with the Shepherd of Israel's guardian-care of them by his prophet when he led them to Canaan. Thus the distress and affliction of Jacob are contrasted with the exaltation of his posterity. The great object of this contrast is to impress the people with the goodness of God to them in lifting them up out of the lowest condition, and to inspire them with gratitude to God for such unmerited elevation and with thankful yet humble acknowledgment of his mercy. Calvin's explanation is at once correct and clear; it is the following: "Their father Jacob, who was he? what was his condition? He was a fugitive from his country. Even if he had always lived at home, his father was only a stranger in the land. But he was compelled to fit into Syria. And how splendidly did he live there? He was with his uncle, no doubt, but he was treated quite as meanly as any common slave: he served for a wife. And how did he serve? He was the man that tended the cattle." This, it may be observed, was the lowest and the meanest, the hardest and worst kind of servitude. In like manner Ewald directs attention to the wonderful care of Divine providence manifested to Jacob in his straits, in his flight to Syria, in his sojourn there as a shepherd, and also to Israel his posterity delivered out of Egypt by the hand of Moses an, I sustained in the wilderness so that one scarcely knows what to think of Israel who, without encountering such perils and distresses, and out of sheer delight in iniquity, so shamefully forsook their benefactor. Such is the substance of Ewald's view, which presents one aspect of the ease, though he does not bring out so fully the fact of Israel's elevation and the humble thankfulness that should be exhibited therefore. The exposition of the Hebrew commentators agrees in the main with what we have given. Rashi says, "Jacob fled to the field of Aram, etc., as a man who says, 'Let us return to the former narrative which we spoke of above;' and he wrestles with the angel; and this further have I done unto him; as he was obliged to fly to the field of Aram ye know how I guarded him, and for a wife he kept sheep." "Ye ought to consider," says Aben Ezra, "that your father when he fled to Syria was poor, and so he says, 'And he will give me bread to eat' (
). And he served for a wife,' and this is, 'Have I not served thee for Rachel?' 'And for a wife he kept sheep ;' and ' f made him rich.'" The exposition of Kimchi is much fuller, and is as follows: "And they do not remember the goodness which I exercised with their father, when he fled from his brother Esau. Yea, when he was there it was necessary for him to serve Laban for a wife, that he should give him his daughter, and the service consisted in keeping his sheep, and so for the other daughter which he gave him he kept his sheep in like manner. And I am he that was with him and blessed him, so that he returned thence with fiches and substance. And further, I showed favor to his sons who descended into Egypt and were in bondage there; and I sent to them a prophet who brought them up out of Egypt with much substance, and he was Moses. The forty years they were in the wilderness they were guarded by means of a prophet whom I gave them, and they wanted nothing. But all these benefits they forget, and provoke me to anger by abominations and no-gods."
And by a prophet the LORD brought Israel out of Egypt, and by a prophet was he preserved.
to anger most bitterly: therefore shall he leave his blood upon him, and his reproach shall his Lord return unto him.
Ephraim provoked him to auger most bitterly: therefore shall he leave his blood upon him, and his reproach shall his Lord return unto him.
Instead of humble thankfulness and due devotedness, Ephraim provoked him to anger most bitterly. Therefore his blood-guiltiness and consequent punishment are left upon him; his sin and its consequences are not taken away. The dishonor done to God by Ephraim's idolatry and sins shall bring back a sure recompense and severe retribution.
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