Hosea 4:15. Though, &c. “Here,” says Bishop Horsley, “a transition is made, with great elegance and animation, from the general subject of the whole people, in both its branches, to the kingdom of the ten tribes in particular.” Though thou, Israel, play the harlot Though thou followest after idols; yet let not Judah offend Let not Judah do so too: at least let her keep herself pure. Let her not join in the idolatrous worship at Gilgal or Beth-aven, or mix idolatry with the profession of the true religion. The kingdom of Judah still retained, in a great degree, the worship of the true God, and the ordinances of the temple service. Therefore the prophet exhorts that people not to be led away by the bad example of their brethren of the ten tribes. Gilgal, it must be observed, was remarkable for being the place where the Israelites renewed their rite of circumcision, when they first passed over Jordan; but after Jeroboam set up idolatry, it became famous for the worship of false gods. And it appears, from this prophet and Amos, that it was particularly so in this period of the Jewish history. Beth- aven was the same with Beth-el, and was the place where one of Jeroboam’s calves was worshipped. The word Beth-el signifies the house of God, and was the name given to that place by Jacob, because of God’s appearing to him there, Genesis 28:17. But when it became a place noted for idolatrous worship, the worshippers of the true God called it, in detestation, Beth-aven, that is, the house of vanity. Nor swear, The Lord liveth Do not mingle the worship of the true God with idolatrous rites, nor dare to swear by his name while worshipping idols, or before the calves, as if they represented him; for he abhors every such coalition.
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