Hosea 12:2
The LORD has also a controversy with Judah, and will punish Jacob according to his ways; according to his doings will he recompense him.
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(2) Jacob refers to the northern kingdom.

12:1-6 Ephraim feeds himself with vain hopes of help from man, when he is at enmity with God. The Jews vainly thought to secure the Egyptians by a present of the produce of their country. Judah is contended with also. God sees the sin of his own people, and will reckon with them for it. They are put in mind of what Jacob did, and what God did for him. When his faith upon the Divine promise prevailed above his fears, then by his strength he had power with God. He is Jehovah, the same that was, and is, and is to come. What was a revelation of God to one, is his memorial to many, to all generations. Then let those who have gone from God, be turned to him. Turn thou to the Lord, by repentance and faith, as thy God. Let those that are converted to him, walk with him in all holy conversation and godliness. Let us wrestle with Him for promised blessings, determined not to give over till we prevail; and let us seek Him in his ordinances.The Lord hath also a controversy with Judah, and will punish Jacob - The guilt of Judah was not open apostasy, nor had he filled up the measure of his sins. Of him, then, God saith only, that He "had a controversy with" him, as our Lord says to the "Angel of the Church of Pergamos, I have a few things against thee. Repent, or else I will come unto thee quickly, and fight against thee with the sword of My mouth" Revelation 2:12, Revelation 2:16. Of Ephraim, whose sin was complete, He says, that the Lord "is to punish." God had set His mind, as we say, on punishing him; He had (so to speak) set Himself to do it. Jacob, like Israel, is here the name for the chief part of Israel, i. e., the ten tribes. Our Lord uses the same gradation in speaking of different degrees of evil-speaking; "Whosoever of you is angry without a cause, shall be in danger of the judgment; and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council; but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell-fire" Matthew 5:22. : "The justice of God falls more severely on those who degenerate from a holy parent, than on those who have no incitement to good from the piety of their home." To amplify this , "The prophet explains what good things Jacob received, to show both the mercy of God to Jacob, and the hardness of Ephraim toward God. While Jacob was yet in his mother's womb, he took his brother by the heel, not by any strength of his own, but by the mercy of God, who knows and loves those whom he hath predestinated." 2. controversy with Judah—(Ho 4:1; Mic 6:2). Judah, under Ahaz, had fallen into idolatry (2Ki 16:3, &c.).

Jacob—that is, the ten tribes. If Judah, the favored portion of the nation, shall not be spared, much less degenerate Israel.

The Lord hath also a controversy with Judah; though Judah, compared with Ephraim, be faithful, yet when considered in his ways and doings he is found faulty in many things, and God hath just matter of complaint against Judah in point of manners; in public worship Judah was faithful, kept to God and the temple, though not without some defects, but in their lives there were many more and greater faults, about which God will contend that Judah may be reformed.

Judah; the two tribes.

Will punish; or visit with chastising to amend, else to destroy: there is hope of Judah that he will be reclaimed, therefore I will try by gentler visitations, by fatherly corrections, yet I will not leave him as hopeless, nor as faultless.

Jacob; not the patriarch, but those who are of him; his children, but that have degenerated from his ways of love, fear, trust, and obedience. Both Ephraim and Judah are of Jacob, but both have corrupted themselves, and therefore will I proceed against both; and if Judah, the less faulty, escape not, Ephraim can have no hope to escape; if Judah be whipped with rods because a disobedient son, Ephraim may fear a sword because he hath been and still is an obstinate rebel.

According to his ways; neither can justly complain then, since their different ways are made the standard of the different proceedings of God against them, he will not lay upon either more than is equal; who suffers most hath deserved more, and who suffers least needed so much to amend him.

According to his doings will he recompense him: this is an elegant and very usual ingemination of the same thing, which doth assure it will be done, and should affect us the more. The Lord hath also a controversy with Judah,.... The two tribes of Judah and Benjamin, as well as the ten tribes; for though they had ruled with God, and had been faithful with the saints in the first times of the apostasy of Israel; yet afterwards they sadly degenerated, and fell into idolatry likewise, particularly in the time of Ahaz, in which Hosea prophesied; and therefore the Lord had somewhat against them; nor would he spare them, but reprove them by the prophets, and rebuke them in his providences; bring them to his bar, and lay before them their evils, and threaten them with punishment in case of impenitence, as follows:

and will punish Jacob according to his ways; all the posterity of Jacob, whether Ephraim or Judah; those of the ten tribes, or of the two, who all descended from Jacob: or, "will visit according to his ways" (s); if right, and agreeably to the mind and word of God, in a way of grace and mercy; but if wrong, crooked, and perverse, then in a way of punishment; for visiting is used both ways:

according to his doings will he recompense him; as they were good or bad; if good, will reward them with a reward of grace; if bad, with vengeance. The Targum paraphrases it,

"according to his right works.''

(s) "ad visitandum juxta vias ejus", Pagninus, Montanus; "visitabit secundum vias ejus", Piscator.

The LORD hath also a controversy with {c} Judah, and will punish Jacob according to his ways; according to his doings will he recompense him.

(c) Which in those points was similar to Ephraim, but not in idolatry.

2. Jacob] Here used for the northern kingdom, to prepare the way for the etymological allusion in Hosea 12:3.Verse 2. - The Lord hath also a controversy with Judah; and will punish (margin, visit upon) Jacob according to his ways. God here presents himself at once as plaintiff and judge, widening the range of his pleadings. The controversy with Israel takes a wider sweep, and comprehends Judah culpable, though apparently in a less degree. But though Judah comes in for a share of punishment, that punishment shall be proportionate to their delinquencies - those like Judah that sinned less shall suffer less; while the more heinous transgressors, such as Israel had proved to be, would come in for severer punishment. To Jacob, here embracing the ten tribes of Israel and the two of Judah, the chastisement would be meted out in exact accordance with his ways. The apparent contradiction between ver. 12 of last chapter, where, as most translate it, Judah is represented as ruling with God and being faithful with the saints, and the present inclusion of Judah in controversy with Jehovah, occasioned

(1) a rendering and explanation of this verse which Aben Ezra declares to be both ungrammatical and unscriptural. "He" says Aben Ezra." who explains that Judah is faithful and he shall be reproving, and asserts that Scripture makes no mention of Jehovah having a controversy against Judah, but [employs] עם the sense being that Jehovah and Judah have a strife against Ephraim, errs from the way of Scripture and grammar, for the prophet has written above (ver. 13), 'Judah saw his wound;' 'I will make Ephraim to ride; Judah shall plough;' and in reference to both of them he says,' Ye shall eat the fruit of lies.' He also forgets 'The herdmen of Gerar did strive with (עם) Isaac's herdmen;' 'And the people strove with Moses;' and many other places [i.e. where עם is found with the sense of 'contending']. Therefore he joins Ephraim with Judah, and says, 'The Lord hath also a controversy with Judah, and will punish Jacob according to his ways, because this name (i.e. Jacob) comprehends them both (Ephraim and Judah)."

(2) The meaning is given concisely and correctly by Rashi thus: "He (Jehovah) announces to them the words of his controversy which their brethren of the house of Israel had caused him; and they should not wonder if he would punish (literally, 'visit on') Jacob according to his ways." The change in the case of Judah, Kimchi accounts for by reference to their subsequent apostasy, especially that of their kings, as follows: "Although he said, 'And Judah yet reigneth with God,' he meant, although be holds fast by the service of God in the house of the sanctuary; so afterwards they practiced evil deeds as their kings were evil; therefore he said,' Jehovah has a controversy and correction with Judah and Jacob to visit upon them according to their doings, as their kings were evil, for they did not remember my mercy with them and with their father Jacob, because the whole was for sake of his posterity; and I showed him a sign which should be to his seed after him, if they gave their heart to me.... And the sign which I showed them is only done for sake of his seed. But they have not acknowledged this, for if they had acknowledged this, they would have cleaved to me and my service, and I would have ratified to them the blessing of Jacob their father.'" The infinitive with le is not infrequently employed in the sense of our future, thus, לפקד, it is to be visited, equivalent to "he shall or must visit upon it' This idiom is common in Syriac, but always with atid. According to his doings will he recompense him. The milder expression is applied to Judah - he has a controversy with him, but will punish Jacob, restricted by some to Ephraim or the ten tribes. Better understand Jacob of both Judah and Israel, who are both to be recompensed, each according to his works. The restoration of Israel will be followed by its return to the Lord. Hosea 1:11. "And the sons of Judah and the sons of Israel gather together, and appoint themselves one head, and come up out of the land; for great is the day of Jezreel." The gathering together, i.e., the union of Judah and Israel, presupposes that Judah will find itself in the same situation as Israel; that is to say, that it will also be rejected by the Lord. The object of the union is to appoint themselves one head, and go up out of the land. The words of the two clauses recal to mind the departure of the twelve tribes of Israel out of Egypt. The expression, to appoint themselves a head, which resembles Numbers 14:4, where the rebellious congregation is about to appoint itself a head to return to Egypt, points back to Moses; and the phrase, "going up out of the land," is borrowed from Exodus 1:10, which also serves to explain הארץ with the definite article. The correctness of this view is placed beyond all doubt by Exodus 2:14-15, where the restoration of rejected Israel is compared to leading it through the desert to Canaan; and a parallel is drawn between it and the leading up out of Egypt in the olden time. It is true that the banishment of the sons of Israel out of Canaan is not predicted disertis verbis in what precedes; but it followed as clearly as possible from the banishment into the land of their enemies, with which even Moses had threatened the people in the case of continued apostasy (Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28). Moses had, in fact, already described the banishment of rebellious Israel among the heathen in so many words, as carrying them back into Egypt (Deuteronomy 28:68), and had thereby intimated that Egypt was the type of the heathen world, in the midst of which Israel was to be scattered abroad. On the basis of these threatenings of the law, Hosea also threatens ungodly Ephraim with a return to Egypt in Hosea 8:13 and Hosea 9:3. And just as in these passages Egypt is a type of the heathen lands, into which Israel is to be driven away on account of its apostasy from the Lord; so, in the passage before us, Canaan, to which Israel is to be led up out of Egypt, is a type of the land of the Lord, and the guidance of them to Canaan a figurative representation of the reunion of Israel with its God, and of its reinstatement in the full enjoyment of the blessings of salvation, which are shadowed forth in the fruits and productions of Canaan. (For further remarks, see Hosea 2:14, Hosea 2:15.) Another point to be noticed is the use of the word 'echâd, one (single) head, i.e., one prince or king. The division of the nation into two kingdoms is to cease; and the house of Israel is to turn again to Jehovah, and to its king David (Hosea 3:5). The reason assigned for this promise, in the words "for great is (will be) the day of Jezreel," causes not little difficulty; and this cannot be removed by giving a different meaning to the name Jezreel, on the ground of vv. 24, 25, from that which it has in Hosea 1:4-5. The day of Jezreel can only be the day on which the might of Israel was broken in the valley of Jezreel, and the kingdom of the house of Israel was brought to an end (Hosea 1:4). This day is called great, i.e., important, glorious, because of its effects and consequences in relation to Israel. The destruction of the might of the ten tribes, the cessation of their kingdom, and their expulsion into exile, form the turning-point, through which the conversion of the rebellious to the Lord, and their reunion with Judah, are rendered possible. The appellative meaning of יזרעאל, to which there was no allusion at all in Hosea 1:4-5, is still kept in the background to a great extent even here, and only so far slightly hinted at, that in the results which follow to the nation, from the judgment poured out upon Israel in Jezreel, the valley of Jezreel becomes a place in which God sows seed for the renovation of Israel.
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