(1-23) Gives the explanation of the strange enigma of the first chapter. Hosea’s domestic misery and his symbolically named children pass out of sight, and Jehovah is represented as taking up the language of the prophet, and uttering His terrible and yearning cry over Israel, who had been unfaithful to Him, and who, by her idolatries, had forfeited all claim to His covenanted love.
Render, That she may put away her whoredoms from her face: i.e., her meretricious guiles, her unblushing idolatry, her voluptuous service of gods that are no God. This strong image was constantly on the lips of the prophets, and had been burned by cruel sorrow into the very heart of Hosea. It acquired portentous meaning in the hideous impurities of the worship of Baal-peor and Ashtoreth, against which the Jehovah worship was a tremendous protest.
Hedge up . . . and make a wall.—In accordance with most Hebrew texts, the literal rendering is, wall up her wall. Here, again, we have a sudden change of person.
She shall . . .—She may anticipate in her exile closer proximity to her idol-lovers, but in respect of national prosperity or religious satisfaction she will make complete mistake.
Corn, and wine . . .—Corn, wine, and oil are here mentioned as the chief indigenous products of Canaan (Genesis 27:28; Deuteronomy 33:28, &c.). Gold was largely imported from Ophir (probably the west coast of India, where Tamil is spoken: Delitzsch, Genesis, pp. 258-9. On the other hand, Fried. Delitzsch, in his work on the Site of Paradise, p. 99, holds that Ophir was a coast or island between the north end of the Persian Gulf and the south-west corner of Arabia). Silver was obtained from Tarshish, through Phœnician markets. Observe that Israel at this time abounded in the possession of precious metals. (Comp. Isaiah 2:7; Wilkins, Phœnicia and Israel, pp. 111-116.)
Which they . . . Baal.—They have transformed Jehovah’s gift into an image of Baal. Baal-worship was anterior to calf-worship (Judges 2, 3, 8), and was diametrically opposed to Jehovah-worship, as gross Pantheism is to pure and stern Monotheism.
The “feast days” are to be distinguished from the “solemn feasts.” The latter term is more generic in Hebrew, while the former denoted the three great festivals of the year (especially the Feast of Tabernacles). These feasts, which Jeroboam I. had instituted, are not spoken of in themselves as sinful.
Make them a forest.—The LXX. render make them a testimony, reading in the Hebrew text l’‘ed instead of l’ya‘ar. The latter certainly yields a more vivid sense. The rest of the verse in the LXX. is amplified: “And the wild beasts of the field, and the birds of the heaven, and the creeping things of the earth shall devour them.” While no candid critic will deny the possibility that such words may have originally stood in the text, it is à priori more probable that it is a gloss from Hosea 2:18 (Hosea 2:20 in LXX.). Even so late as in Hadrian’s days wild beasts rushed in upon the blood-stained ruins of Jerusalem.
Sing may suggest a reference to the dances and responsive songs at the village festivals, as well as to the triumphant strains of Exodus 15
I will betroth thee.—It is in the betrothal of humanity to God in Christ’s incarnation that the human race, which had so deeply revolted, returns to Him, and knows the Lord.