Ho 2:1-23. Application of the Symbols in the First Chapter.
Israel's spiritual fornication, and her threatened punishment: yet a promise of God's restored favor, when chastisements have produced their designed effect.
1. Say ... unto ... brethren, Ammi, &c. -- that is, When the prediction (Ho 1:11) shall be accomplished, then ye will call one another, as brothers and sisters in the family of God, Ammi and Ruhamah.
2. Plead -- expostulate.
mother -- that is, the nation collectively. The address is to |her children,| that is, to the individual citizens of the state (compare Isa 50:1).
for she is not my wife -- She has deprived herself of her high privilege by spiritual adultery.
out of her sight -- rather, |from her face.| Her very countenance unblushingly betrayed her lust, as did also her exposed |breasts.|
3. set her as in the day ... born -- (Eze 16:4; 23:25, 26, 28, 29). The day of her political |birth| was when God delivered her from the bondage of Egypt, and set up the theocracy.
make her as a wilderness -- (Jer 6:8; Zep 2:13). Translate, |make her as the wilderness,| namely, that in which she passed forty years on her way to her goodly possession of Canaan. With this agrees the mention of |thirst| (compare Jer 2:6).
4. her children -- Not even her individual members shall escape the doom of the nation collectively, for they are individually guilty.
5. I will go after -- The Hebrew expresses a settled determination.
lovers -- the idols which Israel fancied to be the givers of all their goods, whereas God gave all these goods (Ho 2:8-13; compare Jer 44:17-19).
bread and ... water -- the necessaries of life in food.
wool ... flax -- clothing.
oil ... drink -- perfumed unguents and palatable drinks: the luxuries of Hebrew life.
6, 7. thorns ... wall -- (Job 19:8; La 3:7, 9). The hindrances which the captivity interposed between Israel and her idols. As she attributes all her temporal blessings to idols, I will reduce her to straits in which, when she in vain has sought help from false gods, she will at last seek Me as her only God and Husband, as at the first (Isa 54:5; Jer 3:14; Eze 16:8).
then -- before Israel's apostasy, under Jeroboam. The way of duty is hedged about with thorns; it is the way of sin that is hedged up with thorns. Crosses in an evil course are God's hedges to turn us from it. Restraining grace and restraining providences (even sicknesses and trials) are great blessings when they stop us in a course of sin. Compare Lu 15:14-18, |I will arise, and go to my father.| So here, |I will go, and return,| &c.; crosses in the both cases being sanctified to produce this effect.
8. she did not know that I -- not the idols, as she thought: the |lovers| alluded to in Ho 2:5.
which they prepared for Baal -- that is, of which they made images of Baal, or at least the plate covering of them (Ho 8:4). Baal was the Phoenician sun-god: answering to the female Astarte, the moon-goddess. The name of the idol is found in the Phoenician Hannibal, Hasdrubal. Israel borrowed it from the Tyrians.
9. my corn ... my wool ... my flax -- in contrast to |my bread ... my wool ... my flax,| (Ho 2:5). Compare also Ho 2:21-23, on God as the great First Cause giving these through secondary instruments in nature. |Return, and take away,| is equivalent to, |I will take back again,| namely, by sending storms, locusts, Assyrian enemies, &c. |Therefore,| that is, because she did not acknowledge Me as the Giver.
in the time thereof -- in the harvest-time.
10. lewdness -- rather, |the shame of her nakedness|; laying aside the figure, |I will expose her in her state, bereft of every necessary, before her lovers,| that is, the idols (personified, as if they could see), who, nevertheless, can give her no help. |Discover| is appropriate to stripping off the self-flatteries of her hypocrisy.
11. her feast days -- of Jeroboam's appointment, distinct from the Mosaic (1Ki 12:32). However, most of the Mosaic feasts, |new-moons| and |sabbaths| to Jehovah, remained, but to degenerate Israel worship was a weariness; they cared only for the carnal indulgence on them (Am 8:5).
12. my rewards -- my hire as a harlot (Isa 23:17, 18).
lovers -- idols.
destroy ... vines ... make ... forest -- (Isa 5:6; 7:23, 24). Fulfilled in the overthrow of Israel by Assyria (Ho 9:4, 5).
13. days of Baalim -- the days consecrated to the Baals, or various images of Baal in different cities, whence the names Baal-gad, Baal-hermon, &c.
decked herself with ... earrings -- rather, |nose-rings| (Isa 3:21; Eze 16:12, Margin), with which harlots decked themselves to attract admirers: answering to the ornaments in which the Israelites decked themselves on the idols' feasts.
forgat me -- worse than the nations which had never known God. Israel wilfully apostatized from Jehovah, whom she had known.
14. Therefore -- rather, |Nevertheless| [Henderson]. English Version gives a more lovely idea of God. That which would provoke all others to unappeasable wrath, Israel's perversity and consequent punishment, is made a reason why God should at last have mercy on her. As the |therefore| (Ho 2:9) expresses Israel's punishment as the consequence of Israel's guilt, so |therefore| here, as in Ho 2:6, expresses, that when that punishment has effected its designed end, the hedging up her way with thorns so that she returns to God, her first love, the consequence in God's wondrous grace is, He |speaks comfortably| (literally, |speaks to her heart|; compare Jud 19:8; Ru 2:13). So obstinate is she that God has to |allure her,| that is, so to temper judgment with unlooked-for grace as to win her to His ways. For this purpose it was necessary to |bring her into the wilderness| (that is, into temporal want and trials) first, to make her sin hateful to her by its bitter fruits, and God's subsequent grace the more precious to her by the contrast of the |wilderness.| Jerome makes the |bringing into the wilderness| to be rather a deliverance from her enemies, just as ancient Israel was brought into the wilderness from the bondage of Egypt; to this the phrase here alludes (compare Ho 2:15). The wilderness sojourn, however, is not literal, but moral: while still in the land of their enemies locally, by the discipline of the trial rendering the word of God sweet to them, they are to be brought morally into the wilderness state, that is, into a state of preparedness for returning to their temporal and spiritual privileges in their own land; just as the literal wilderness prepared their fathers for Canaan: thus the bringing of them into the wilderness state is virtually a deliverance from their enemies.
15. from thence -- returning from the wilderness. God gives Israel a fresh grant of Canaan, which she had forfeited; so of her vineyards, &c. (Ho 2:9, 12).
Achor -- that is, |trouble.| As formerly Israel, after their tedious journey through the wilderness, met with the trouble resulting from Achan's crime in this valley, on the very threshold of Canaan, and yet that trouble was presently turned into joy at the great victory at Ai, which threw all Canaan into their hands (Jos 7:1-8:28); so the very trouble of Israel's wilderness state will be the |door of hope| opening to better days. The valley of Achor, near Jericho, was specially fruitful (Isa 65:10); so |trouble| and |hope| are rightly blended in connection with it.
sing ... as ... when she came ... out of ... Egypt -- It shall be a second exodus song, such as Israel sang after the deliverance at the Red Sea (Ex 15:1-21; compare Isa 11:15, 16); and |the song of Moses| (Re 15:2, 3) sung by those who through the Lamb overcome the beast, and so stand on the sea of glass mingled with fire, emblems of fiery trial, such as that of Israel at the Red Sea.
16. Ishi ... no more Baali -- |my Husband ... no more my Lord.| Affection is the prominent idea in |Husband|; rule, in |Lord.| The chief reason for the substitution of Husband for Lord appears in Ho 2:17; namely, Baali, the Hebrew for my Lord, had been perverted to express the images of Baal, whose name ought not to be taken on their lips (Ex 23:13; Zec 13:2).
17. Baalim -- plural, expressing the various images of Baal, which, according to the places of their erection, received various names, Baal-gad, Baal-ammon, &c.
18. for them -- for their benefit.
covenant ... with the beasts -- not to hurt them (Job 5:23). They shall fulfil the original law of their creation by becoming subject to man, when man fulfils the law of his being by being subject to God. To be realized fully in millennial times (Isa 11:6-9).
break the bow ... out of the earth -- rather, |out of the land|; that is, I will break and remove war out of the earth (Ps 46:9); and |out of the land| of Israel first (Isa 2:4; Eze 39:9, 10; Zec 9:9, 10).
lie down -- A reclining posture is the usual one with Orientals when not in action.
safely -- (Jer 23:6).
19, 20. |Betroth| is thrice repeated, implying the intense love of God to His people; and perhaps, also, the three Persons of the Triune God, severally engaging to make good the betrothal. The marriage covenant will be as it were renewed from the beginning, on a different footing; not for a time only, as before, through the apostasy of the people, but |forever| through the grace of God writing the law on their hearts by the Spirit of Messiah (Jer 31:31-37).
righteousness ... judgment -- in rectitude and truth.
loving-kindness, &c. -- Hereby God assures Israel, who might doubt the possibility of their restoration to His favor; low, sunk, and unworthy as thou art. I will restore thee from a regard to My own |loving-kindness,| not thy merits.
20. faithfulness -- to My new covenant of grace with thee (1Th 5:24; Heb 10:23).
21. in that day -- of grace to Israel.
heavens ... hear the earth -- personification. However many be the intermediate instruments, God is the Great First Cause of all nature's phenomena. God had threatened (Ho 2:9) He would take back His corn, His wine, &c. Here, on the contrary, God promises to hearken to the skies, as it were, supplicating Him to fill them with rain to pour on the earth; and that the skies again would hearken to the earth begging for a supply of the rain it requires; and again, that the earth would hearken to the corn, wine, and oil, begging it to bring them forth; and these again would hear Jezreel, that is, would fulfil Israel's prayers for a supply of them. Israel is now no longer |Jezreel| in the sense, |God will SCATTER| (Ho 1:4), but in the sense, |God will PLANT| (Ho 1:11).
23. I will sow her -- referring to the meaning of Jezreel (Ho 2:22).