Matthew Poole's Commentary
When Ephraim spake trembling, he exalted himself in Israel; but when he offended in Baal, he died.Ephraim’s glory vanisheth by reason of idolatry, Hosea 13:1-3. God’s former care of his people: for their abuse of his benefits he will destroy them, Hosea 13:4-8. A promise of mercy and redemption from the grave, Hosea 13:9-14. The judgment of Samaria for rebellion, Hosea 13:15,16.
When; so soon as, or according as, as the Hebrew phrase bears it, and implieth there was a time when according to the word of Ephraim there was deep impression on the hearers. Ephraim; Jeroboam son of Nebat, an Ephraimite, say some; but this is wide of truth, nor suits the text, which refers to their worshipping of Baal, and this came into use in Israel in Ahab’s time, 1 Kings 16:31; his wife Jezebel, daughter to Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, prevailed with him to take her country idol and add to Jeroboam’s calves.
Ephraim here is either the tribe of Ephraim, which was of all the ten tribes most powerful, and when angry and discontented made the other tribes afraid; or rather the whole kingdom of Israel, called frequently in Hosea Ephraim.
Spake; when he consulted, commanded, threatened, or sent out his proclamation; it is a speaking like a king’s or kingdom’s speaking, which is backed with power sufficient to act as they speak;
trembling; the tribes and the neighbouring kingdoms apprehended danger, were put into a fear of the consequence too, all men felt a commotion within them. Such once was the authority, power, and glory of Ephraim.
He exalted himself in Israel; was magnified, advanced, and made glorious, the kingdom flourished in multitudes of people, in abundance of wealth, in the successes of their counsels, and in their credit abroad. In this flourishing state Ephraim, a principal tribe, and which first set up for the royal dignity and carried it, had-principal share, and is mid to exalt himself in or with Israel.
But when, so soon as he sinned,
he offended in Baal, by taking Baal to be their god added this idolatry to their former sins,
he died; undid himself, lost his power, glory, and bravery, as a dead man.
And now they sin more and more, and have made them molten images of their silver, and idols according to their own understanding, all of it the work of the craftsmen: they say of them, Let the men that sacrifice kiss the calves.And now, though they are admonished, threatened, and in part punished, yet now that Baal is taken in for a god and worshipped,
they sin more and more; they go on to sin, and add new idolatries to the old, they increase the number of their sins; in some respect their new sins are greater than those committed formerly, but the prophet here speaks not of greatness of sins, but the number.
And have made them molten images of their silver: these were the figures and representations of the gods they worshipped, and were multiplied as families, able to go to the cost, did multiply; every one got their household gods. heathen like, and most of these puppets were made of silver. Or the phrase may imply, that at their own charge these people made them gods; so though it was a straight ash, or wood that would not soon putrefy, which was formed into the idol, yet because bought with their silver it may by a metonymy be called their silver.
Idols according to their own understanding; every one as he fancied, as he thought most comely, and proper to represent a deity; perhaps these idolaters vied with each other who should have the handsomest god, as Ahaz would vie altars, and therefore made new ones. Perhaps some of these idolaters melted down their old less handsome gods to run them into more pleasing features.
All of it the work of the craftsmen; whatever is of the image is of the workman, who gave it shape, but could not give it breath, still it is a lifeless lump or image.
They, either the kings of Israel, or the priests of these idols, or the people, say of them, of the idols,
Let the men that sacrifice, let every one that sacrificeth, all that bring their offerings to these idols,
kiss; reverence, worship, or adore, and show they do so by kissing the calves. They will make them give full worship to their idols.
Therefore they shall be as the morning cloud, and as the early dew that passeth away, as the chaff that is driven with the whirlwind out of the floor, and as the smoke out of the chimney.Therefore; for these sins in multiplied idolatries and trusting to idols.
They, Ephraim, his king, his captains, his fortresses, and aids, shall be, in the day of the Assyrian invasion, suddenly, easily, totally, and finally dispersed, expressed here by four similes, every one very apt and full, clear and easy to be understood.
Yet I am the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt, and thou shalt know no god but me: for there is no saviour beside me.Yet, though thou hast so revolted, and chosen other gods, it is not occasioned by any change in me,
I am what I was,
the Lord, the mighty God, the everlasting God, Jehovah. Thy God from the land of Egypt; thy God who alone brought thee out of Egypt, and who hath maintained thy lot; the calves and Baal were not known amongst you then. And since I alone brought thee out of Egypt, and saved thee with wonderful salvations many times since, why dost thou seek gods thou needest not, gods that cannot help?
Thou shalt know no god but me; I forbade thee to know any other god but me, in gratitude thou shouldst know no other; if there were any other, in point of interest thou shouldst have known, i.e. worshipped, trusted, and obeyed, none but me. And finally, by woeful experience thou shalt know that calves and Baal are no gods, they cannot save thee nor themselves; thou shalt know I am God alone, who can destroy those who would not obey me.
For there no saviour beside me; when thy idols cannot save thee out of the hands of those I deliver thee up to, then thou shalt see, what now thou wilt not, that there is no saviour but me; none who can deliver from all evil, and who can enrich with all blessings, who can pardon sin and save the sinner.
I did know thee in the wilderness, in the land of great drought.I did know, owned, took care of, guided, and supplied, thee, O Israel, in thy fathers,
in the wilderness; through which for forty years together thou wast moving, and foundest nothing for thy sustenance but what my miraculous goodness and power gave thee; through those many deserts thou never didst want.
In the land of great drought; in the parched sands, where were no refreshing showers, no rivers or springs of water, to suffice so many cattle and men; where thou wentest as it were through flames and on sands, scorching as embers of a fire, a place fit for none but fiery serpents, or salamanders (if any such).
According to their pasture, so were they filled; they were filled, and their heart was exalted; therefore have they forgotten me.According to their pasture, so were they filled; when they were come into Canaan, that land of springs, brooks, and rivers, that land of wheat, barley, vines, olives, and figs, as Deu 8:7-9; when they had abundance of all things for delight, as well as for necessary sustenance; when I had, like a good, careful, and wise shepherd, brought them into this rich pasture; they, like hungry beasts, ate to excess, ran into luxury and riot; epicure like, gorged themselves with sweet wines and delicious fare.
They were filled: either this is a reduplication of the charge to confirm it, I say, they thus luxuriously lived; or else it is elliptical, and to be made out thus,
And so soon as they were filled; and thus it will be parallel to that,
Jeshurun waxed fat, Deu 32:13-15.
Their heart was exalted; grew proud, entertained high thoughts of their progenitors’ worth, their nobleness by descent, their worthiness and righteousness above other people; they thought of God as of man, that he proportioned his blessings to what excellency was found in those he did good to.
Therefore have they forgotten me; so they have forgotten me, who found them in slavery, poverty, reproach, and tears in Egypt, out of which I saved them; and they have most scandalously made them gods, Worshipped them, and with sacrilegious unthankfulness given the praise of all I did for them to dumb idols, though I warned them of it beforehand, Deu 6:11,12 8:13,14.
Therefore I will be unto them as a lion: as a leopard by the way will I observe them:Therefore; since they have so abused my gifts by luxury, pride, and atheistical forgetfulness of me, of what I had done for them, what I deserved and expected from them, I will use them as is meet, and take my revenge upon them.
I will be unto them; unthankful, apostates, idolaters, sottish drunkards, belly-gods, who live to eat and drink, and forget me.
As a lion: see Hosea 5:14; that is, in his fullest strength, of a middle age, swift in pursuing, and that can continue the chase till he overtake his prey; and which is strong, courageous, and proud of his strength and success; that will dreadfully roar over his prey, as if he challenged any one to attempt its rescue.
As a leopard; a very fierce, swift, sly, and watchful creature, Jeremiah 5:6 Habakkuk 1:8. Observe them; watch for them, that I may be sure to take them.
I will meet them as a bear that is bereaved of her whelps, and will rend the caul of their heart, and there will I devour them like a lion: the wild beast shall tear them.I will meet them; I know their haunts, their walks, I will not fail to meet them there.
As a bear bereaved of her whelps; robbed of her whelps, newly taken away, which makes her mad with rage; so great rage is proverbially expressed. Proverbs 17:12.
Will rend the caul of their heart; first kill, next tear in pieces, pull out the very heart: it is probable this fierce creature may by instinct hasten to tear up the prey, that it may drink the blood before it run to waste.
There will I devour them, where I find them and seize them, like the hungry and fearless lion, which feasts on his prey where he caught it, draws it not into his den, but devoureth it immediately.
Like a lion; an old lion, that hath his great teeth, his grinders, and hath still whelps, Genesis 49:9; fierce and terrible, that will either call in his whelps to divide the prey, or drag the prey to his den for them: and what hope of any thing to be spared, when you fall into such hands?
The wild beast shall tear them: it is said of the lion, that he calls by his roaring the wild beasts together to the prey when he hath taken it; so you shall be devoured by the whole troop of wild beasts. Or it may be a general threat added to those particular ones before, every wild beast shall prey upon them. All this God executed on them by the Assyrians, who in their fierceness, cruelty, greediness, and courage answered the character here given to them: the particular resemblances I leave to any, who may easily suit them.
O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help.Thou hast destroyed thyself; after these menaces it might seem I had destroyed thee, but thou thyself hast done it by thy sins. It is the rebel that destroys himself, though he fall by the sword of his provoked sovereign: thou art the cause and author of thine own ruin.
But in me is thy help; or,
for I was always ready and able to help thee, and would certainly have saved thee; but thy sins, thy wickedness carried thee toward other helps, which were lies, and have disappointed thee; and now thou dost perish under thine own choice, whereas hadst thou chosen me I would have helped and saved thee. Or else thus the whole verse: This hath destroyed thee, O Israel, for thou hast rebelled against me, against thy help: and so Sol. Jarchy.
I will be thy king: where is any other that may save thee in all thy cities? and thy judges of whom thou saidst, Give me a king and princes?I will be thy King; I would have been thy King to govern and save thee, but thou refusedst me in both; yet I will he thy King to punish thee. I will not lose my right and honour by thy rebellious carriages against me, I will be a King and subdue such: or else it is a taunting question, Where is thy king, on whose counsel, wisdom, power, and conduct thou hast relied? let him now save thee if he can: so it runs smooth with the next words.
Where is any other that may save thee in all thy cities? or, who is there, what wise, valiant, and successful commander, in any of thy cities, that can deliver thee first out of my hand, and next out of the Assyrians’ hand?
Thy judges, where are they? thy magistrates have sinned with thee, and shall be destroyed with thee. Thy rulers or inferior governors,
of whom thou saidst, Give me a king; whom thou didst importune and solicit, in a manner forcedst to meet, consult, and resolve in seditious times who should be king next, when treasons had taken away him that was? Some refer this to their first asking a king, but it is better referred to the times either after Jeroboam the First, or to the times after Jeroboam the Second, between whose death and Hoshea’s time, some say, there was an interregnum of twenty or near twenty years, during which a turbulent people, as the Israelites were, would be frequent and earnest in all likelihood in moving for a king.
And princes, necessary to assist the king.
I gave thee a king in mine anger, and took him away in my wrath.I gave thee a king in mine anger; such as Shallum, Menahem, Pekah, &c.; but in displeasure against you.
I took him away; the Hebrew says not what; I think, their kings mentioned.
In my wrath: God was angry when he gave such kings to Israel, and he was no better pleased when he took them away; they were punishments when given, and it was punishment to Israel when they were taken away. If you read this verse in the future tense, as you may, I will give them a king in my anger, it may refer to God’s giving the king of Assyria the rule over them, making them his vassals; and I will take away, i.e. you, O Israelites, in my wrath, I will destroy some, and send others into captivity, take all away out of your land, and send you in wrath to the grave, or captives into Assyria.
The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up; his sin is hid.The iniquity, in the singular, instead of the plural, all the iniquities and sins,
of Ephraim, the kingdom of the ten tribes,
is bound up; as indictments drawn up and tied together against the day of trial; or as bills and bonds tied up that they may be ready against the day of account, when all must be paid. Or, as sins unpardoned; for to loose sins is to forgive, and to bind sins is to charge them upon the sinner, Matthew 16:19. O Ephraim, thine unpardoned sins lie in account against thee, thou shalt hear of them and smart for them.
His sin is hid; not from God, but laid up with God against the day of recompence, as Job 21:19: so Romans 2:5 Deu 32:34.
The sorrows of a travailing woman shall come upon him: he is an unwise son; for he should not stay long in the place of the breaking forth of children.The sorrows of a travailing woman: by this simile, well known in Scripture, the prophet assures Ephraim that the punishment of his sins will overtake him suddenly, with very great anguish, and with as great certainty, Micah 5:3.
Shall come upon him; as suddenly, inevitably, and with as much danger too, if he be not the wiser, and return to his God.
He, i.e. Ephraim,
is an unwise son; a very foolish son, an inconsiderate child, who endangers himself and his mother.
For he should not stay long in the place of the breaking forth of children: as a child that sticks in the birth, so Ephraim, just at the birth, hesitateth, one while will, another while will not, return to God; thus dieth under the delay.
I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.Some interpreters render this text not in the future absolute, but in the subjunctive and conditionally, I would have ransomed, I would have redeemed, &c., if Israel had been wise; so it will well cohere with the 13th and 15th verses. And if the words be considered as spoken of the whole body of Israel, they will be most intelligible, as they include a condition and are subjunctive. But the apostle doth, and most Christian interpreters with the apostle, interpret them as an absolute promise made for the comfort of the pious and elect among these Israelites, and labour not to connect them with the foregoing or following words, but suppose them to be in a parenthesis between them. And so we take them.
I, Jehovah or Messiah, the Father promiseth the Messiah.
Will ransom, by power and purchase, by the price of the blood of the Lamb of God, and by the power of his Godhead.
Them that repent and believe, and wait for redemption through Christ the Messiah.
From the power of the grave; he conquered the grave, and rose out of it as our Captain and Head, and he will at the great day of the resurrection, by his almighty power, open those prison doors, and bring them out in glory, immortality, and incorruption, whom he redeemed by an inestimable and invaluable price.
I will redeem them from death; from the curse of the first death, henceforth they that die in the Lord shall be blessed; and from the second death, which shall have no power over them; I will take away the sting of death, which is sin, i.e. in the dominion and guilt of it: now Christ redeems from the one by sanctifying grace, and from the other by justifying grace.
O death, I will be thy plagues; thus I will destroy death, and defeat him that had the power of death: it is a metaphor, as the next.
O grave, I will be thy destruction; I will recover the prey out of the mouth of the grave, I will pull down those prison walls, and bring out all that are confined there, of which the bad I will remove into other kind of prisons, the good I will restore to glorious liberty. The wicked shall have a worse prison, the godly shall for ever be freed from prison and so I will raze this prison, the grave, to the very foundation.
Repentance shall be hid from mine eyes: this grace toward the godly, toward believers among Israel and in the church, through all ages, is unchangeable; I will never, as man that repenteth, change my word and purpose, saith the Lord. In either sense they speak the grace of God toward us; he is ready to pardon and save all that will repent, and he will most certainly and eternally save from death. The grave, sin, and hell all that do repent and obey the Messiah; an abundant comfort to pious ones who should yet die captives in Assyria, but rise by the power of the Messiah to eternal glory in the day of the general resurrection.
Though he be fruitful among his brethren, an east wind shall come, the wind of the LORD shall come up from the wilderness, and his spring shall become dry, and his fountain shall be dried up: he shall spoil the treasure of all pleasant vessels.Though he, Ephraim,
be fruitful, at present, as a flourishing tree seems to be fruitful; things in the state seem to be well settled; peace at home, under Hoshea, and peace abroad with Assyria and Egypt.
Among his brethren; and all his brethren surround him, either the rest of the tribes, or the nations who by league are become as his brethren.
An east wind shall come; an enemy as pernicious to his estate as the east wind is to fruits shall certainly come; a mighty and violent enemy, called here,
the wind of the Lord, the usual superlative among the Hebrews.
From the wilderness, which lay south-east from Canaan; and so it speaks a more pernicious quality in these enemies as the southeast winds in that country were of all most hot and blasting, coming over those hot, dry, sandy deserts.
His spring, springs of water, which were most needful, and highly valued, shall become dry; shall fail and be cut off, dry up, that there shall be no waters in them.
His fountain shall be dried up; the same thing in different words, confirming the certainty hereof. This the resemblance of the Assyrian, and the mischief he shall do to Israel lie shall lay Ephraim desolate, and dry up all his fountains, which were the comfort of that land.
He, the Assyrian army, Shalmaneser,
shall spoil the treasure, shall rob their treasuries,
of all pleasant vessels, and carry away all desirable vessels and furniture, out of all their houses and wardrobes: thus all the glory of Ephraim shall wither whilst it is seemingly flourishing and well-rooted too.
Samaria shall become desolate; for she hath rebelled against her God: they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up.Samaria, the chief or royal city of the kingdom of Israel,
shall become desolate; besieged, taken, plundered, and sacked, probably it was razed to the foundation, by the Assyrians, provoked by the treachery first, and by the obstinacy next, of Hoshea, maintaining the siege against Shalmaneser three years, 2 Kings 17:5.
Rebelled against her God; both cast off his worship and set up idolatry, and also shook off the yoke of David’s house and set up new kings, and maintained both long against God.
They, the inhabitants of Samaria, and also the subjects of the kingdom of Israel, shall fall by the sword; be cut off in war by the prevailing arms of the king of Assyria.
Their infants shall be dashed in pieces; a most barbarous piece of cruelty, yet usually practised in those countries when they were enraged against a people.
Their women with child shall be ripped up; another kind of like or greater inhumanity. Thus Shalman raged against Arbel in the day of battle, and this confirms what the prophet saith Hosea 10:14. And this was no doubt executed upon Samaria when it was taken, so their springs (women and children, which are as fountains) were all dried up.