Hosea 4:5 MEANING

Hosea 4:5
(5) The priest's function is discharged in the day, and the prophet dreams in the night. Both will totter to their fall.

Thy mother--i.e., thy nation.

Verse 5. - The parallelism of this verse is marked by the peculiarity of dividing between the two members what belongs to the sentence as one whole. Instead of saying that the people would fall (literally, stumble) in the day, and the prophet with them in the night, the meaning of the sentence, divested of its peculiar form of parallelism, is that people and prophet alike would fall together, at all times, both by day and by night, that is to say, there would be no time free from the coming calamities; and there would be no possibility of escape, either for the sinful people or their unfaithful priests; the darkness of the night would not hide them, the light of the day would not aid them; destruction was the doom of priests and people, inevitable and at all times. And I will destroy thy mother. Their mother was the whole nation as such - the kingdom of Israel. The expression is somewhat contemptuous, as though he said of the individual members that they were truly their mother's children - resembling her erewhile in sin and soon in sorrow.

(1) Though the verb דמה is seldom used in Qal to denote "likeness," Abarbanel, as quoted by Rosenmüller, translates, "I have been like thy mother," and explains of the people addressing priest and prophet as a mother reproving her petulant children in order to improve them. Besides the far-fetched nature of such a rendering, there is the formidable grammatical objection that, in the sense of "similitude," this verb requires to be constructed with le or el. so that it should be le immeka or el immeka. "This word, when derived from demuth, likewise has el with seghol after it; but without el, it has the meaning of destroy," is the statement of Aben Ezra. The LXX., assigning to the verb the sense of "similarity," renders the phrase by πυκτὶ ὀμοίωσα τὴν μητέρα σου, "I have compared thy mother to night."

(2) Jerome, connecting the verb with דוּם or דָמַם, understands it in the sense of "silence:" "I have made thy mother silent in the night; that is, "Israel is delivered up in the dark night of captivity, sorrow, and overwhelming distress." The Syriac likewise has: "And thy mother has become silent" (if shathketh be read). The Chaldee, though more periphrastic, brings out nearly the same sense: "I will overspread your assembly with stupefaction." To the same purport is the exposition of Rashi: "My people shall be stupefied as a man who sits and is overwhelmed with stupor, so that no answer is heard from his mouth." The meaning "destroy" is well supported by the cognate Arabic, and gives a good sense; thus Gesenius renders: "I destroy thy mother, that is, lay waste thy country." Rather, the nation, collectively, is the mother; while the members individually are the children. Nor shall private persons escape in the public catastrophe - root and branch are to perish. Kimchi's comment on דמיחי is: "I will cut off the whole congregation, so that no congregation shall remain in Israel; for they shall be scattered in the exile, the one here, the other there."

4:1-5 Hosea reproves for immorality, as well as idolatry. There was no truth, mercy, or knowledge of God in the land: it was full of murders, 2Ki 21:16. Therefore calamities were near, which would desolate the country. Our sins, as separate persons, as a family, as a neighbourhood, as a nation, cause the Lord to have a controversy with us; let us submit and humble ourselves before Him, that he may not go on to destroy.Therefore shall thou fall in the day,.... Either, O ye people, everyone of you, being so refractory and incorrigible; or, O thou priest, being as bad as the people; for both, on account of their sins, should fall from their present prosperity and happiness into great evils and calamities; particularly into the hands of their enemies, and be carried captive into another land: and this should be "in the day", or "today" (r); immediately, quickly, in a very short time; or in the daytime, openly, publicly, in the sight of all, of all the nations round about, who shall rejoice at it; or in the day of prosperity, while things go well, amidst great plenty of all good things, and when such a fall was least expected:

and the prophet also shall fall with thee in the night: or the false prophets that are with you, as the Targum, and so Jarchi; either with you, O people, that dwell with you, teach you, and cause you to err; or with thee, O priest, being of the same family, as the prophets, many of them, were priests; now these should fall likewise into the same calamities, as it was but just they should, being the occasion of them: and this should be in the night; in the night of adversity and affliction, in the common calamity; or in the night of darkness, when they could not see at what they stumbled and fell, and so the more uncomfortable to them; or as the one falls in the day, the other falls in the night; as certainly as the one falls, so shall the other, and that very quickly, immediately, as the night follows the day:

and I will destroy thy mother; either Samaria, the metropolis of the nation; or the whole body of the people, the congregation, as the Targum, and Kimchi, and Ben Melech, being as a mother with respect to individuals; and are threatened with destruction because the corruption was general among prophets, priests, and people, and therefore none could hope to escape.

(r) "hodie", Munster, Montanus, Drusius, Tarnovius, Rivet; "hoc tempore", Pagninus. So Kimchi and Ben Melech.

Courtesy of Open Bible