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Verses 1-14

A Reproof of Commercial Dishonesty

The Hebrew text divides the chapter more correctly at this v. The prophet returns to the subject of the unfaithfulness both of Israel and of Judah. They have sought help where it was not to be found, and neglected God, the only source of help, in forgetfulness of the example of their ancestor Jacob.

12. Judah.. saints] RM better, 'and Judah is yet unstedfast with God, and with the Holy One who is faithful.'

Hosea 12:1. Ephraim.. east wind] an attack on Israel's foreign policy and cunning commercial dealings with foreign powers. The wind stands for what is useless and unsatisfying. The east wind was noted for its violence and destructiveness: cp. Psalms 48:7. They seek eagerly to obtain what in the end will destroy them.

Oil.. Egypt] Oil was one of the richest products of Palestine: see Deuteronomy 8:8; 2 Kings 18:32.

2. Jacob] as before used to introduce the personal history of the Patriarch, from which Hosea seeks to draw an analogous lesson for the people. Jacob had begun life by cunningly supplanting his brother, but afterwards had made a covenant with God. Israel is now exhorted to do likewise.

3. By his strength] RV 'in his manhood.' It refers to Jacob's wrestling with the angel at Penuel (Gen 32:24-30).

4. He wept] Not mentioned in Genesis 32:25. He found him] the subject is Jehovah. In Beth-el] The reference is probably to Jacob's dream (Gen 28:10-22). With us] Hosea here regards God's promises to Jacob as made to the people Israel, whom in fact they chiefly concerned.

5. Lit. 'And Jehovah is the God of armies. Jehovah is His memorial.' The thoughts emphasised are, (1) the protective power of God; (2) His faithfulness. Hosea has probably in his mind Exodus 3:15. Jehovah was the God of the Patriarchs, who would keep the promises which He had made to them. Memorial] that by which a person is known, his name: see Exodus 3:15.

7-14. Israel, too, is unjust and unmerciful. In the pursuit of gain they are no better than the heathen, though they pride themselves on their honesty. Jehovah has long warned them: now He will punish them: their sanctuaries will be utterly destroyed.

7. He is a merchant] RM 'as for Canaan the balances,' etc. Balances of deceit] cp. Amos 8:5.

8. And Ephraim] The Israelites had only too readily learnt the tricks of cheating from the Canaanites. Yet] RV 'surely.' It is the natural consequence of his unjust dealing. In all.. sin] Israel is nevertheless perfectly self-satisfied and has no pangs of conscience.

9. And] RV 'But.' In spite of all this I will not leave you to your evil ways.

Tabernacles] RV 'tents.' Israel had learned nothing since the days in the wilderness. In religion and morality they were still like those who came out of Egypt. Therefore they would have to go back to captivity and begin their discipline anew. Solemn feast] i.e. the Feast of booths (Tabernacles).

10. The moral degradation of the people was not from want of warning. Visions and similitudes] two of the commonest modes of prophetic utterance. We have instances of the first in the vision of Micaiah (1Ki 22:19-22), the basket of summer fruit (Αm Hos 8:1), etc.; of the latter in the simile of the baker in Hosea 7:0. A definitely acted parable became a common feature of later prophecy, e.g. Ezekiel 4:0.

11. Gilead.. Gilgal] both sanctuaries: see Hosea 4:15; Hosea 6:8. Is there iniquity, etc.] RV 'Is Gilead iniquity? 'The question is only a rhetorical way of stating an astounding fact.

12. The idolatry of Israel implies a forgetfulness of God, by whose providence Jacob was rescued from servitude. The reference is to Jacob's servitude under Laban in order to win Rachel (Genesis 29:30).

13. The rescue of Jacob was repeated in the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt by Moses, and their preservation in the wilderness. Moses, as Israel's first inspired teacher, was their first prophet: cp. Deuteronomy 18:15.; Deuteronomy 34:10.

14. Ephraim.. bitterly] In spite of all this kindness Ephraim had provoked God to great anger. His blood] plural, meaning 'bloodshed.' The blood which he has shed shall not be wiped off, but remain in God's eye, a witness of his crime. For a somewhat similar idea cp. Genesis 4:10. His reproach] God will punish him for his reproach, i.e. for his scornful contempt of God: cp. 2 Kings 19:4, 2 Kings 19:22.

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