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Commentary On Hosea by Jean Calvin

Hosea 9:13

13. Ephraim, as I saw Tyrus, is planted in a pleasant place: but Ephraim shall bring forth his children to the murderer.

13. Ephraim, sicut vidi in Tyro plantatam (subaudi arborem) in habitaculo: Ephraim tamen ad educendum (hoc est, educet) ad excidium (vel, mactationem) filios suos.

Hosea here confirms his previous statements that the Israelites in vain trusted in their present condition, for the Lord could reverse their prosperity whenever it pleased him. Men, we know, harden themselves in their vices, when they enjoy their wishes and when they are sunk in pleasures; for prosperity is not without reason often compared to wine, because it inebriates men; nay, rather it dementates them. We see what happened to the Sodomites and to others; yea, the abuse of God's forbearance has ever been the cause of destruction to almost all the reprobate, as Paul also says. Such pride reigned in the people of Israel, that they heedlessly despised all threatening, as it has been already often stated. To this then the Prophet refers when he says, Ephraim is like a tree planted in Tyrus: yet he shall bring forth his children to the slaughter The Prophet then points out here the indulgences of Israel, and then adds, that in a short time the Lord would draw them forth to judgement, though he had treated them as a precious tree, by fostering them gently and tenderly for a time.

Some render this place thus, |I have seen Ephraim planted like Tyrus;| and they render the next word, vnvh, benue, |in pleasantness.| But since it means a house or a habitation, I am disposed to retain its proper sense. Interpreters, however, vary in their opinion; for some say, |I have seen Ephraim like Tyrus;| because an event awaits this people similar to that which happened to Tyrus; for, as punishment was inflicted on Tyrus, so Ephraim shall not escape unpunished. This is the exposition of some, but in my view it is too refined. As, however, there is here a preposition, l|lamed|, I am inclined to consider |a tree| or |plant,| or some such word, understood. Ephraim then was, as if one beheld a tree in Tyrus, literally to Tyrus, or in Tyrus. This letter, as a preposition, I allow, is redundant in many places; and yet it preserves some propriety, except when necessity interferes: and in this place what I have already stated is the most suitable rendering, |Ephraim is like a tree planted in Tyrus, in a dwelling| or shed. Tyrus, we know, was built on an island in the sea; it had gardens the most pleasant, but not formed without much expense and labour. It was washed on every side by the sea; and unless mounds were set up, the dwellings were confined. Since, then, it was difficult to raise trees there, much work and labour was doubtless necessary, as it is usually the case; for men often struggle with nature. And if we say that Ephraim was planted like Tyrus in a dwelling, what can it mean? We therefore say, that he was like a tree preserved as in a dwelling: for we see that there are some trees which cannot bear the cold air, and are kept during winter in a house that they may be preserved; and it is probable that the Syrians, who were rich and had a lucrative trade, employed much care in rearing their trees.

The meaning is, that Ephraim was like tender trees, preserved by men with great care and with much expense; but that they should hereafter bring forth their children for the slaughter. This bringing forth is set in opposition to the house or dwelling. They had been kept without danger from the cold and heat, like a tender tree under cover; but they would be constrained to draw forth their children to the slaughter; that is, there would be no longer any dwelling for them to protect them from the violence of their enemies, but that they would be drawn forth to the light.

We now see that the words harmonise well with the view, that the people of Israel in vain flattered themselves because they had hitherto been subject to no evils, and that God had preserved them free from calamity. There is no reason, the Prophet says, for the people to be proud, because they had been hitherto so indulgently treated; for though they had been like tender trees, they would yet be forced to draw forth their children to be killed. And this comparison, which he amplifies, is what often occurs in Scripture. If Jehoiakim were as a ring on my right hand, saith the Lord, I would pluck him thence.' Men are wont to abuse even the promises of God. As king Jehoiakim was of the posterity of David, he thought it impossible that hid enemies could ever deprive him of his kingdom; |But it shall not be so; for though he were as a ring on my hand, I would pluck him thence.| So also in this place; |Though the Israelites had been hitherto brought up in my bosom, and though I have kindly given them all kinds of blessings, and though they have been like tender trees, yet their condition hereafter shall be entirely different.| Then it follows --

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