Ho 10:1-15. Israel's Idolatry, the Source of Perjuries and Unlawful Leagues, Soon Destined to Be the Ruin of the State, Their King and Their Images Being About to Be Carried Off; a Just Chastisement, the Reaping Corresponding to the Sowing.
The prophecy was uttered between Shalmaneser's first and second invasions of Israel. Compare Ho 10:14; also Ho 10:6, referring to Hoshea's calling So of Egypt to his aid; also Ho 10:4, 13.
1. empty -- stripped of its fruits [Calvin], (Na 2:2); compelled to pay tribute to Pul (2Ki 15:20). Maurer translates, |A widespreading vine|; so the Septuagint. Compare Ge 49:22; Ps 80:9-11; Eze 17:6.
bringeth forth fruit unto himself -- not unto Me.
according to ... multitude of ... fruit ... increased ... altars -- In proportion to the abundance of their prosperity, which called for fruit unto God (compare Ro 6:22), was the abundance of their idolatry (Ho 8:4, 11).
2. heart ... divided -- (1Ki 18:21; Mt 6:24; Jas 4:8).
now -- that is, soon.
he -- Jehovah.
break down -- |cut off,| namely the heads of the victims. Those altars, which were the scene of cutting off the victims' heads, shall be themselves cut off.
3. now, &c. -- Soon they, deprived of their king, shall be reduced to say, We have no king (Ho 10:7, 15), for Jehovah deprived us of him, because of our not fearing God. What then (seeing God is against us) should a king be able to do for us, if we had one? As they rejected the heavenly King, they were deprived of their earthly king.
4. words -- mere empty words.
swearing falsely in making a covenant -- breaking their engagement to Shalmaneser (2Ki 17:4), and making a covenant with So, though covenants with foreigners were forbidden.
judgment ... as hemlock -- that is, divine judgment shall spring up as rank, and as deadly, as hemlock in the furrows (De 29:18; Am 5:7; 6:12). Gesenius translates, |poppy.| Grotius, |darnel.|
5. fear because of the calves -- that is, shall fear for them.
Beth-aven -- substituted for Beth-el in contempt (Ho 4:15).
it -- singular, the one in Beth-el; after the pattern of which the other |calves| (plural) were made. |Calves| in the Hebrew is feminine, to express contempt.
priests -- The Hebrew is only used of idolatrous priests (2Ki 23:5; Zep 1:4), from a root meaning either |the black garment| in which they were attired; or, |to resound,| referring to their howling cries in their sacred rites [Calvin].
that rejoiced on it -- because it was a source of gain to them. Maurer translates, |Shall leap in trepidation on account of it|; as Baal's priests did (1Ki 18:26).
the glory thereof -- the magnificence of its ornaments and its worship.
6. It ... also -- The calf, so far from saving its worshippers from deportation, itself shall be carried off; hence |Israel shall be ashamed| of it.
Jareb -- (See on Ho 5:13). |A present to the king (whom they looked to as) their defender,| or else avenger, whose wrath they wished to appease, namely, Shalmaneser. The minor states applied this title to the Great King, as the avenging Protector.
his own counsel -- the calves, which Jeroboam set up as a stroke of policy to detach Israel from Judah. Their severance from Judah and Jehovah proved now to be not politic, but fatal to them.
7. (Ho 10:3, 15).
foam -- denoting short-lived existence and speedy dissolution. As the foam, though seeming to be eminent raised on the top of the water, yet has no solidity, such is the throne of Samaria. Maurer translates, |a chip| or broken branch that cannot resist the current.
8. Aven -- that is, Beth-aven.
the sin -- that is, the occasion of sin (De 9:21; 1Ki 12:30).
they shall say to ... mountains, Cover us -- So terrible shall be the calamity, that men shall prefer death to life (Lu 23:30; Re 6:16; 9:6). Those very hills on which were their idolatrous altars (one source of their confidence, as their |king,| Ho 10:7, was the other), so far from helping them, shall be called on by them to overwhelm them.
9. Gibeah -- (Ho 9:9; Jud 19:1-20:48). They are singled out as a specimen of the whole nation.
there they stood -- The Israelites have, as there and then, so ever since, persisted in their sin [Calvin]. Or, better, |they stood their ground,| that is, did not perish then [Maurer].
the battle ... did not overtake them -- Though God spared you then, He will not do so now; nay, the battle whereby God punished the Gibeonite |children of iniquity,| shall the more heavily visit you for your continued impenitence. Though |they stood| then, it shall not be so now. The change from |thou| to |they| marks God's alienation from them; they are, by the use of the third person, put to a greater distance from God.
10. my desire ... chastise -- expressing God's strong inclination to vindicate His justice against sin, as being the infinitely holy God (De 28:63).
the people -- Foreign invaders |shall be gathered against them.|
when they shall bind themselves in their two furrows -- image from two oxen ploughing together side by side, in two contiguous furrows: so the Israelites shall join themselves, to unite their powers against all dangers, but it will not save them from My destroying them [Calvin]. Their |two furrows| may refer to their two places of setting up the calves, their ground of confidence, Dan and Beth-el; or, the two divisions of the nation, Israel and Judah, |in their two furrows,| that is, in their respective two places of habitation; Ho 10:11, which specifies the two, favors this view. Henderson prefers the Keri (Hebrew Margin) |for their two iniquities|; and translates, |when they are bound| in captivity. English Version is best, as the image is carried out in Ho 10:11; only it is perhaps better to translate, |the people (the invaders) binding them,| that is, making them captives; and so Ho 10:11 alludes to the yoke being put on the neck of Ephraim and Judah.
11. taught -- that is, accustomed.
loveth to tread out ... corn -- a far easier and more self-indulgent work than ploughing. In treading corn, cattle were not bound together under a yoke, but either trod it singly with their feet, or drew a threshing sledge over it (Isa 28:27, 28): they were free to eat some of the corn from time to time, as the law required they should be unmuzzled (De 25:4), so that they grew fat in this work. An image of Israel's freedom, prosperity, and self-indulgence heretofore. But now God will put the Assyrian yoke upon her, instead of freedom, putting her to servile work.
I passed over upon -- I put the yoke upon.
make ... to ride -- as in Job 30:22; that is, hurry Ephraim away to a distant region [Calvin]. Lyra translates, |I will make (the Assyrian) to ride upon Ephraim.| Maurer, |I will make Ephraim to carry,| namely, a charioteer.
his clods -- |the clods before him.|
12. Continuation of the image in Ho 10:11 (Pr 11:18). Act righteously and ye shall reap the reward; a reward not of debt, but of grace.
in mercy -- according to the measure of the divine |mercy,| which over and above repays the goodness or |mercy| which we show to our fellow man (Lu 6:38).
break ... fallow ground -- Remove your superstitions and vices, and be renewed.
seek ... Lord, fill he come -- Though not answered immediately, persevere unceasingly |till He come.|
rain -- send down as a copious shower.
righteousness -- the reward of righteousness, that is, salvation, temporal and spiritual (1Sa 26:23; compare Joe 2:23 ).
13. reaped iniquity -- that is, the fruit of iniquity; as |righteousness| (Ho 10:12) is |the fruit of righteousness| (Job 4:8; Pr 22:8; Ga 6:7, 8).
lies -- false and spurious worship.
trust in thy way -- thy perverse way (Isa 57:10; Jer 2:23), thy worship of false gods. This was their internal safeguard, as their external was |the multitude of their mighty men.|
14. tumult -- a tumultuous war.
among thy people -- literally, |peoples|: the war shall extend to the whole people of Israel, through all the tribes, and the peoples allied to her.
Shalman spoiled Beth-arbel -- that is, Shalmaneser, a compound name, in which the part common to it and the names of three other Assyrian kings, is omitted; Tiglath-pileser, Esar-haddon, Shar-ezer. So Jeconiah is abbreviated to Coniah. Arbel was situated in Naphtali in Galilee, on the border nearest Assyria. Against it Shalmaneser, at his first invasion of Israel (2Ki 17:3), vented his chief rage. God threatens Israel's fortresses with the same fate as Arbel suffered |in the day (on the occasion) of the battle| then well-known, though not mentioned elsewhere (compare 2Ki 18:34). This event, close on the reign of Hezekiah, shows the inscription of Hosea (Ho 1:1) to be correct.
15. So shall Beth-el do unto you -- that is, Your idolatrous calf at Beth-el shall be the cause of a like calamity befalling you.
your great wickedness -- literally, |the wickedness of your wickedness.|
in a morning -- that is, speedily, as quickly as the dawn is put to flight by the rising sun (Ho 6:4; 13:3; Ps 30:5).
king -- Hoshea.