Pristine Grace

Hos 2:1-13, (GILL)

This chapter is an explanation of the former, proceeding upon the same argument in more express words. The godly Israelites are here called upon to lay before the body of the people their idolatry, ingratitude, obstinacy, and ignorance of the God of their mercies; and to exhort them to repentance, lest they should be stripped of all their good things, and be brought into great distress and difficulties; all their joy and comfort cease, and be exposed to shame and contempt, Ho 2:1, yet, notwithstanding, many gracious promises are made unto them, of their having the alluring and comfortable word of the Gospel; of a door of hope; of salvation being opened to them; of faith in the Lord, and affection to him as their husband; of the removal of all idolatry from them; of safety from all enemies; of their open espousal to Christ; of his hearing of their prayers, and giving them plenty of all good things; and of their multiplication, conversion, and covenant relation to God, Ho 2:14.

Say ye unto your brethren, Ammi; and to your sisters, Ruhamah. These words are to be considered either in connection with the latter part of the preceding chapter, and as directed to the sons of the living God, who had not been, but now were, "Ammi", the Lord's people; and who had not, but now have, "Ruhamah", obtained mercy; which grace and mercy shown them, it became them to speak of one to another, to affect their hearts mutually with it, and to glorify God for it, Mal 3:16 as also to speak of it to their carnal relations, that so, if it was the will of God, it might be of use to them, to show them the state they were in, the danger of it, their need of the grace and mercy of God, and the hope there was by their own instance and example of obtaining it; see Ro 9:1, or as directed to the converted Jews that appointed Christ their Head, and believed in him; exhorting them to own the believing Gentiles as their brethren and sisters, since they were the spiritual seed of Abraham their father, and walked in the steps of his faith; and to call them Ammi and Ruhamah, since they, who were not the people of God, now were, and who had not obtained mercy, now have obtained mercy, 1Pe 2:10, or else they may be considered as in connection with the following words,

plead with your mother; and that either as spoken to the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin, who were the people of God, retained the pure worship of God, and obtained mercy of the Lord, Ho 1:7,

"O ye Ammi and Ruhamah, that are the Lord's people, and he has had mercy on; stir up and exhort your brethren and sisters of the ten tribes, for so they were, notwithstanding their separation, 1Ki 12:4, to contend with their mother, the body of the nation, about idolatry and departure from God;''

or as spoken to the godly among the ten tribes, who were the real people of God, and sharers in his grace and mercy; the remnant he reserved for himself, who had not bowed their knees to idols; or as the command of God by the prophet, to the people of Israel, to exhort one another to contend with their mother, who were, as yet, the Lord's people, had mercy shown them, when this prophecy was delivered out; though, in case of obstinacy and impenitence, they were threatened with a "Loammi" and "Loruhamah"; so Schmidt, who thinks that "ammi" and "ruhamah" are put by way of "apposition [to] your brethren [and] sisters", in which he seems to be right. Aben Ezra thinks the words are spoken ironically, like those in Ec 11:9, and others, but without reason. The Targum is,

"O ye prophets, say to your brethren, and my people, and I will have mercy on your congregation;''

but whether the words are spoken to the Jewish converts who first believed in Christ, were his people, received grace and mercy from him, and stood in the relation of brethren and sisters to one another, both in a natural and spiritual sense, to stir up one another to reprove their mother, the Jewish church, for rejecting Christ, saying, as follows:

2  Plead with your mother, plead,.... The congregation of Israel, as the Targum; the body of the Jewish nation, which, with respect to individuals, was as a mother to her children; see Mt 21:37, that is, lay before her, her sin in rejecting the Messiah, the Head and Husband of his true church and people; endeavour to convince her of it; reprove her for it; expostulate with her about it; argue the case with her, and show her the danger of persisting in such an evil, as the apostles did, Ac 2:23

for she is not my wife, neither am I her husband; for though there had been such a relation between them, yet it was now dissolved; she had broken the marriage covenant and contract, and God had given her a bill of divorce, Jer 31:32 or, however, as she behaved not as a wife towards him, showing love and affection, honour and reverence, and performing duty, and yielding obedience; so he would not carry it as a husband towards her, nourishing and cherishing her, providing for her, and protecting and defending her; but leave her to shift for herself, and to the insults and abuses of others; having been guilty of idolatry, which is spiritual adultery, as the Israelites before the captivity were; and as the Jews in Christ's time were guilty of rejecting the word of God, and preferring their own traditions to it: hence it follows,

let her therefore put away her whoredoms out of her sight, or "from her face" [e],

and her adulteries from between her breasts; alluding to the custom of harlots, who used to paint their faces, and to allure with their looks, words, and actions, and to make bare their breasts, or adorn them, or carry in them what were enticing and alluring. These adulteries and whoredoms, which are the same thing, may signify the many idolatries of the people of Israel before their captivity, and which were the cause of it; or the sins of the Jews before their dispersion; or their evil works, as the Targum, by which they departed from God and the true Messiah, and went a whoring after other lovers: thus they rejected, transgressed, and made of none effect the commandments of God by their traditions; paid tithe of mint, anise, and cummin, and neglected the weighty matters of the law; sought not the honour of God, but that which comes from men; and therefore confessed not the true Messiah, though under convictions of him, and went about to establish their own righteousness, and submitted not to his; these were the idols of their hearts, and the whoredoms and adulteries the Jewish converts, that truly believed in Christ, are ordered to exhort them to put away. The Septuagint and Arabic versions are, "I will take away her whoredoms &c.",

[e] hynpm "a facie sua", Calvin, Pagninus, Piscator, Cocceius; "a faciebus suis", Montanus, Schmidt.

3  Lest I strip her naked, and set her as in the day that she was born,.... Alluding to the case of an infant when born, which comes naked into the world; and referring to the state and condition of the Israelites in Egypt, which was the time of their nativity, as a people and church; see Eze 16:4, and when they were in a state of servitude and bondage, and had no wealth and substance, and without possessions and lands, and had no country of their own to inhabit; and signifying that this should be their case again, if they persisted in their idolatry, impenitence, and unbelief; as has been the case of the ten tribes upon their captivity, when they were stripped of all their wealth and riches, carried away out of their own land, and scattered among the nations, and have never returned since; and as was the case of the Jews in their last destruction, for the rejection of Christ, they were stripped of their civil and religious privileges, of their temporal and spiritual mercies as a nation and church; what they feared is come upon them, that the Romans would come and take away their place and nation, Joh 11:48

and make her as a wilderness, and set her like a dry land; having some respect to her former condition in the wilderness, where they had no food nor drink but what they had from God, as Abarbinel thinks; or else to the destruction and consumption of them in the wilderness, their carcasses falling there, who sinned against the Lord, as the Targum and Jarchi; and denoting the utter destruction of their commonwealth and church, when their land was laid waste, their city destroyed, their house and temple left desolate and burnt, and they deprived of all the necessaries of life, which was their case at their last destruction by the Romans; and to this day they are as they are described, Ho 3:4:

and slay her with thirst; after their vainly expected Messiah, which has brought them to desperation; or with a thirst, not for water, but of hearing the word of the Lord, Am 8:11, the Gospel, and the ordinances of it, being taken away from them, and the clouds ordered to drop down no rain upon them; that is, the ministers of the word not to preach the Gospel to them; and so are left destitute of the means of grace, and of spiritual life, and of escaping eternal death, Mt 21:43. The Targum of the whole is,

"lest I remove my Shechinah from her, and take away her glory, and set her forsaken, as in the days of old, before she came to my worship; and my fury shall remain upon her, as it remained upon the people of that generation that transgressed my law in the wilderness; and I will set the land desolate, and kill her with thirst.''

4  And I will not have mercy upon her children,.... The posterity of the Jews in succeeding ages, until the time of their conversion comes; they persisting in the sins of their forefathers, filling up the measure of their iniquities; remaining in their obstinate rejection of the Messiah, and in the same impenitence and unbelief, and having his blood imprecated upon them:

for they be the children of whoredoms; begotten and born in whoredom, spurious and illegitimate; or that commit whoredoms; imitate their parents; are guilty of the same vices; a generation of vipers. So the Targum,

"for they are children that commit idolatry;''

retain the traditions of the elders; go about to establish their own righteousness, and reject the Messiah.

5  For their mother hath played the harlot,.... Or committed idolatry; which is the reason why she is to be pleaded with, and why the Lord will not own her as his wife, or be a husband to her; and why she is to be exhorted to put away her whoredoms from her; and was in danger of all the above evils coming upon her, continuing in the same practice; and why her children were children of whoredoms. Though the connection may be with the verse following, "for" or "because their mother hath played the harlot", &c. "therefore I will hedge up her way", &c.

She that conceived them hath done shamefully; all sin is shameful and scandalous, especially adultery; it brings a reproach and a blot upon a person, that will not be wiped off; and so idolatry, worshipping stocks and stones instead of the living God; and particularly the sin of the Jewish church, in rejecting the true Messiah and his righteousness, and setting up their own, and tenaciously adhering to the traditions of the elders; and so departing from the true God, and his word and worship, which is no other than spiritual adultery or idolatry. The Targum is,

"because their congregation hath erred after the false prophets, their teachers are confounded;''

and which Jarchi interprets of the wise men that teach doctrines, who are ashamed because of the people of the earth; to whom they say, ye shall not steal, and yet they steal themselves; see Ro 2:21. Or, "she hath made ashamed" [f]; her husband, and her children: or, "she is confounded" [g], and "ashamed" herself, for what she has done.

For she said, I will go after my lovers; her idols, as the ten tribes did after the calves at Dan and Bethel. So Kimchi's father interprets it of the sun, moon, and stars, they worshipped: though he himself understands it of the Assyrians and Egyptians they were in alliance with, and trusted in. Some join together the Gentile nations and their gods. Or else it may be understood of the Jews seeking to the Romans, and courting their favour and friendship; desiring to be governed not by their own kings, but by the Romans [h]; declaring they had no king but Caesar, and rejecting Christ as such, Joh 19:12 or rather of their beloved tenets, concerning traditions, the rites and ceremonies of the law, self-righteousness, &c.: the words are expressive of impudence, obstinacy, and self-will; resolving to pursue their own fancies and have their own wills, be it as it would.

That give me my bread and any water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink; "or drinks" [i]; wine and other liquors, as Kimchi; these take in everything belonging to food and raiment, and all the necessaries, and even delights and pleasures, of life: bread and water; all sorts of food: wool and flax; all sorts of clothing, both woollen and linen, for outward or inward covering: and oil, and drinks, or liquors; everything for pleasure and delight; all which she ascribed not to God, from whence all good things come; but, which was an aggravation of her sin, to her lovers, her allies, or her idols; as the Jews did their plenty of victuals to the queen of heaven, and their worship of her, Jer 44:17 and as, in the times of Christ, they ascribed not only their enjoyment of temporal good things, but their righteousness, life, and salvation, to their observance of traditions, rites, and ceremonies, and the externals of religion.

[f] hvybwh "pudefecit", Junius apud Rivet. [g] "Confusa, [vel] pudefacta", Pagninus, Montanus; "pudore suffusa est", Gussetius. [h] Joseph. Antiqu. l. 17. c. 13, sect. 2. [i] yywqv "potationes meas", Montanus, "potiones meas", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "potus meos", Cocceius, Schmidt.

6  Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns,.... As fields and vineyards are fenced with thorn hedges to keep out beasts; or rather as closes and fields are fenced to keep cattle in, from going out and straying elsewhere; which may be expressive of afflictions, aud particularly wars among them, that they could not stir out and go from place to place: and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths: to go to Dan and Bethel, and worship the calves there, as some; or to go to the Egyptians and Assyrians for help, as Jarchi and Kimchi; though it was by the latter that they were hedged in, and walled and cooped up, when the city of Samaria was besieged three years: rather this respects the straits and difficulties the Jews have been reduced to by the destruction of Jerusalem, and the continuance of them ever since; so that they are not able to offer their daily sacrifice, kill and eat their passover lamb, and perform other rites and ceremonies they used in their own land; which they would fain perform, though abolished by Christ, but are restrained by this hedge and wall, the destruction of their temple and altar, and not being suffered to possess their land; hence they are said to be without a sacrifice and an ephod. Ho 3:4.
7  And she shall follow after her lovers,.... Before mentioned; that is, in her affections and desires, with great eagerness and earnestness, as men pursue what they are bent upon; otherwise, being hedged in and walled up, she could not go after them in a proper sense:

but she shall not overtake them; they fleeing from her, and she pent up:

she shall seek them, but shall not find them; shall not be able to enjoy them, or act according to her wishes and desires, with respect to the performance of sacrifices, rites, and ceremonies, as before observed:

then shall she say; in her heart, finding all endeavours fruitless, and that the things sought after were never to be had; the hedges and wall, the obstructions in the way, were never to be removed, while in such a pursuit; wherefore after a long time, many hundreds of years, even in the latter day, being convinced of her sin and folly in rejecting Christ, and pursuing after other objects, she will take up the following resolution:

I will go and return to my first husband; either the God of Israel, whom the ten tribes departed from by worshipping the calves Jeroboam set up; but in the latter day will seek the Lord their God again, who was a husband to them, and shall cleave to him again, and all Israel shall be saved: so the Targum,

"I will go and return to the service of my first master, for it was well with me when I served him; henceforth I will not serve idols:''

or Christ, who was promised and prophesied of as a husband to the Jewish church, Isa 54:5 and whom they believed in, and expected as such, but when he came rejected him; but now being convinced of their error shall seek David their King, appoint themselves one head, and embrace Christ as their husband, and adhere to him; see Ho 3:5:

for then was it better with me than now; while in the faith, and hope, and expectation of the true Messiah; having a spiritual apprehension of him, true faith in him, and comfort from him, as held forth in the promise; being then possessed of the good land, in the enjoyment of the word and ordinances, and of all religious and civil privileges, but now deprived of them. This may be applied to the case of true believers in Christ, having partially departed from him, and being restored. Christ is a husband to them, who has betrothed them to himself, and they have given themselves to him, and have been loved, nourished, cherished, and provided for by him, and for a while had much nearness, familiarity, and communion with him; but unbelief prevailing, first love waxing cold, and being got into a carnal and sleepy frame, neglect both private and public worship, fall into sin, and removed from church communion, and so may be said to have departed from Christ their husband; but being recovered by divine grace, and sensible of their sins, resolve to return to him again by repentance and acknowledgment, by doing their first works, and by attendance on his word and ordinances; instigated hereunto very much by remembering how it has been with them when they kept close to him, and observing the difference between those times and the present; how they had then the presence of God and Christ, and communion with them, and the secret discoveries of the love of God; in what lively exercise the graces of the Spirit were; what delight and profit they had in ordinances, and what peace, joy, and comfort, in their souls; all which now they want; see Job 29:2.

8  For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil,.... This is a reason, not of her resolution to return to her first husband, but to go after lovers, and of her ascribing these things to them, Ho 2:5, and why the Lord would behave towards her as he determined to do, Ho 2:6, this ignorance was wilful and affected, and therefore blameable; she might have known, but she would not; she did not set her mind to know; she did not consider who gave her these things, nor behave as if she knew, as Jarchi: or she did not own and acknowledge God to be the author and giver of them, as she should have done; which was ingratitude rather than ignorance, and is a heinous sin, and to be resented; since all good things, temporal and spiritual, as daily bread, all the necessaries of life, signified by these things, so the word, and ordinances, and spiritual gifts, which they may be emblems of, come from God, and should be acknowledged; but the Jews, as in the times of Isaiah, did not know him, and acknowledge his benefits, Isa 1:2, so, in the times of Christ, they did not know him to be the God of Israel, God over all, blessed for ever; from whom, and for whose sake, who was to be, and was born of them, they enjoyed the privileges they did, Joh 1:10.

And multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal; the relative "which" may refer to all that goes before; and the sense be, that these gifts of God, and which should have been owned as such, and employed in his service, and to his glory; some were made use of in meat and drink offerings to Baal; and others in decking themselves to appear in his worship to his honour; or in ornamenting the idol therewith, or in making it thereof, so the Targum and Syriac version: and all this may be said to be done, when these things are spent in the service of other lords than the Lord himself; when they are abused to sinful purposes, and consumed on the lusts of men, to gratify their sensuality, pride, and vanity, which the Jews did.

9  Therefore will I return, and take away,.... Or, "take away again" [k]; an usual Hebraism:

my corn in the time thereof, and my wine in the season thereof; for though these are the gifts of God to men for their use, and to dispose of for the good of others; yet he retains his property in them, and can and will call them to an account for their stewardship; and, when he pleases, take away both their office, and the good things they were intrusted with, not making a right use of them; and this he does in his own appointed time and season, or at such a time when these are at the best, and the greatest good is expected from them, and which therefore is the more afflictive; as in the time of harvest and vintage, so Kimchi, when corn and grapes are fully ripe; or, as the Targum, in the time of the corn being on the floor, and of the pressure of the wine:

and will recover my wool, and my flax, given "to cover her nakedness"; or, "I will take away"; by force and violence, as out of the hands of thieves, and robbers, and usurpers, who have no right to them, being forfeited; these were given to cover her nakedness, but not to deck herself with for the honour of her idols, or to cherish pride and superstition; see Mt 23:5 these were all taken away when the Romans came and took away their place and nation, Joh 11:48. The Septuagint and Arabic versions give the sense as if these were taken,

that they might not cover her nakedness, or "shame"; but that it might be exposed, as follows:

[k] ytxqlw bwva "iterum capiam", Drusius; "recipiam", Liveleus.

10  And now will I discover her lewdness in the lovers,.... The people, her lovers, as the Targum; which is by many understood of the Egyptians and Assyrians; but rather means the Romans, whom the Jews courted as their friends: though it seems best to interpret it in a more general way, that the sin and folly of the Jews in rejecting Christ, and adhering to their beloved tenets, should be discovered and made manifest to all in the most public manner by their punishment; by being scattered among the nations, and becoming a taunt, reproach, and a curse everywhere: and none shall deliver her out of my hand; none of her lovers, as Kimchi, nor any other: it denotes the utter, total, and final destruction of the Jews, wrath being come upon them to the uttermost; and which is irrecoverable by human help, has continued for many hundred years, and will until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled, or till the fulness of the Gentiles be come in, Lu 21:24.

11  I will also cause all her mirth to cease,.... As it must in course, this being her case, as before described, whether considered in individuals, or as a body politic, or in their church state, as follows:

her feast days; which the Jews understand of the three feasts of tabernacles, passover, and pentecost; typical of Christ's tabernacling in human nature; of his being the passover sacrificed for us; and of the firstfruits of the Spirit; which being come, the shadows are gone and vanished, and these feasts are no more: her new moons, and her sabbaths; the first day of every month, and the seventh day of every week, observed for religious exercises; typical of the light the church receives from Christ, and the rest it has in him; and he, the body and substance of them, being come, these are no more, Col 2:16:

and all her solemn feasts; all others, whether of God's appointment or their own; all are made to cease of right, if not in fact; the law of commandments, contained in ordinances, being abolished by Christ, and the Jews without a priest, sacrifice, and ephod, Eph 2:14.

12  And I will destroy her vines and her fig trees,.... Which are mentioned for the rest, being the most fruitful and beneficial: this was done when Judea was invaded, overrun and wasted, by the Roman army; and when many were cut down, as Josephus observes, to build forts, and cast up mounts against Jerusalem; so that, he, says [l], the appearance of the earth was miserable, for what before was adorned with trees and gardens, looked now like a wilderness:

whereof she hath said, these are my rewards that my lovers have given me; alluding to the hire of harlots, given them by their gallants; these she ascribed, as she did before her bread, water, wool, flax; and oil, Ho 2:5, not to God, the author and giver of them, but to the people her lovers, as the Targum; or to her idols, or to her beloved tenets, and doing according to them; and which is here mentioned as a reason of the divine resentment, and why he destroyed these fruitful trees:

and I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field shall eat them; make the vines and fig trees like forest trees, barren and unfruitful; the fruitful land of Judea should be turned into a forest, or become like a desert or wilderness, and all the fruits of it should be eaten up by wild beasts; by their enemies, compared to the beasts of the field, particularly the Romans, the fourth beast; see Isa 56:9.

[l] De Bello Jud. l. 6. c. 1. sect. 1.

13  And, I will visit upon her the days of Baalim,.... That is, punish them for all the idolatries committed by their forefathers, in the days that the several Baals, as Baalpeor, and Baalberith, and others, were worshipped by them; they their children, though not worshipping these Baalim, yet other lords, lusts and idols, they set up of themselves, and in their own hearts; see Mt 23:32:

wherein she burnt incense to them; to the Baalim; this one species of idolatrous worship being put for the rest:

and she decked herself with her earrings and her jewels; with her best and richest attire; the latter word signifying in the Arabic language, as Jarchi observes, the ornaments of women; this was done to grace the idolatrous worship, and for the honour of the idols:

and she went after her lovers; the traditions of the elders; the weak and beggarly elements of the ceremonial law now abolished, and their own legal righteousness:

and forgot me, saith the Lord: or, "left my worship", as the Targum; forgot and rejected the true Messiah, his word and ordinances.

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