Hosea 7:15-16 . Though I have bound, &c. Though, after bringing them low, I have given them new strength and vigour; yet do they imagine mischief against me Yet they are continually devising some new idolatrous inventions, whereby they may dishonour me. The word יסרתי , rendered I have bound them, more properly signifies, I have chastised them, and is so rendered by Archbishop Newcome, Bishop Horsley, and others. The general sense of the verse is, Whether I inflict punishment on them, or show them favour, they are still the same, and reject me for their idols. They return, but not to the Most High Their conversion is only outward, not inward and sincere. When they left the worship of Baal, they turned to the worship of the calves; and now they rest in an external reformation, or some ceremonial observances, and do not come up to true repentance, spiritual worship, or holy obedience. This seems to be the meaning of the clause, according to our translation of it. But the Hebrew text, ישׁובו לא על , is very obscure, and variously rendered by interpreters. Grotius and the Vulgate read, Reversi sunt ut essent absque jugo, They have returned that they might be without yoke, that is, without the restraint of God’s law. Which is thus expounded by Grotius, “Denuo voluerunt esse absque jugo,” They would be again without yoke. The LXX. render it, Απεστραφησαν εις ουδεν , They have been turned away to nothing. Thus also the Syriac, or, as Bishop Horsley interprets it, They fall [have fallen] back into nothingness of condition. On which he remarks as follows: “The situation of the Israelites, as the chosen people of God, was a high degree; a rank of distinction and pre-eminence among the nations of the earth. By their voluntary defection to idolatry, they debased themselves from this exaltation, and returned to the ordinary level of the heathen, so far above which the mercy of God had raised them. As if a man, ennobled by the favour of his sovereign, should renounce his honours, and, of his own choice, mix himself with the lowest dregs of the people. Thus, voluntarily descending from their nobility of condition, the Israelites returned to not high; for so the Hebrew literally sounds.” The bishop observes elsewhere, that the Hebrew words will certainly bear the interpretation given by Grotius and the Vulgate; “and of all that have been proposed,” says he, “it seems the best sense, next after that which I have given in my translation, which is R. Tanchum’s, and in my judgment the best of all. Thus we say in common speech, of a man who by misconduct has lost all esteem and credit in the world, ‘He has brought himself to nothing.’” They are like a deceitful bow Which seems bent for and aiming at the mark, yet is too weak to carry the shaft to it; or, is false, and instead of directing the arrow straight to the mark, shoots it on one side or the other. Their princes shall fall, &c., for the rage of their tongue For the dishonour which they have done me by blasphemous speeches; or, shall fall by conspiracies, stirred up and fomented by murmurings and seditious expressions. This shall be their derision in the land of Egypt Their frequent rebellions and conspiracies against their kings, shall make them the derision of Egypt. Houbigant renders it, For the wantonness of their tongues, they shall be a derision in the land of Egypt. It is probable that many of the ten tribes fled to Egypt when invaded by the Assyrians; and that their blasphemies, and other enormities committed there, brought them under deserved reproach.
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