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Ho 13:1-16. EPHRAIM'S SINFUL INGRATITUDE TO GOD, AND ITS FATAL CONSEQUENCE; GOD'S PROMISE AT LAST.
This chapter and the fourteenth chapter probably belong to the troubled times that followed Pekah's murder by Hoshea (compare Ho 13:11; 2Ki 15:30). The subject is the idolatry of Ephraim, notwithstanding God's past benefits, destined to be his ruin.
1. When Ephraim spake trembling--rather, "When Ephraim (the tribe
most powerful among the twelve in Israel's early history) spake
(authoritatively) there was trembling"; all reverentially feared him
Job 29:8, 9, 21).
2. according to their own understanding--that is, their arbitrary
devising. Compare "will-worship,"
Men are not to be "wise above that which is written," or to follow
their own understanding, but God's command in worship.
3. they shall be as the morning cloud . . . dew--
As their "goodness" soon vanished like the morning cloud and dew, so
they shall perish like them.
5. I did know thee--did acknowledge thee as Mine, and so took care
As I knew thee as Mine, so thou shouldest know no
God but Me
6. Image from cattle, waxing wanton in abundant pasture (compare
Ho 2:5, 8;
In proportion as I fed them to the full, they were so satiated that
"their heart was exalted"; a sad contrast to the time when, by God's
blessing, Ephraim truly "exalted himself in Israel"
8. "Writers on the natures of beasts say that none is more savage than
a she bear, when bereaved of her whelps"
9. thou . . . in me--in contrast.
10. I will be thy king; where--rather, as the Margin and the
Septuagint, Syriac, Vulgate, "Where now is thy king?"
English Version is, however, favored both by the Hebrew, by the
antithesis between Israel's self-chosen and perishing kings, and God,
Israel's abiding King (compare
Ho 3:4, 5).
11. I gave . . . king in . . . anger . . . took . . . away in . . . wrath--true both of Saul (1Sa 15:22, 23; 16:1) and of Jeroboam's line (2Ki 15:30). Pekah was taken away through Hoshea, as he himself took away Pekahiah; and as Hoshea was soon to be taken away by the Assyrian king.
12. bound up . . . hid--Treasures, meant to be kept, are bound up and hidden; that is, do not flatter yourselves, because of the delay, that I have forgotten your sin. Nay (Ho 9:9), Ephraim's iniquity is kept as it were safely sealed up, until the due time comes for bringing it forth for punishment (De 32:34; Job 14:17; 21:19; compare Ro 2:5). Opposed to "blotting out the handwriting against" the sinner (Col 2:14).
13. sorrows of a travailing woman--calamities sudden and agonizing
14. Applying primarily to God's restoration of Israel from Assyria
partially, and, in times yet future, fully from all the lands of their
present long-continued dispersion, and political death (compare
Isa 25:8; 26:19;
God's power and grace are magnified in quickening what to the eye of
flesh seems dead and hopeless
(Ro 4:17, 19).
As Israel's history, past and future, has a representative character in
relation to the Church, this verse is expressed in language alluding to
Messiah's (who is the ideal Israel) grand victory over the grave and
death, the first-fruits of His own resurrection, the full harvest to
come at the general resurrection; hence the similarity between this
verse and Paul's language as to the latter
That similarity becomes more obvious by translating as the
Septuagint, from which Paul plainly quotes; and as the same
Hebrew word is translated in
"O death, where are thy plagues (paraphrased by the
Septuagint, 'thy victory')? O grave, where is thy destruction
(rendered by the Septuagint, 'thy sting')?" The question is that
of one triumphing over a foe, once a cruel tyrant, but now robbed of
all power to hurt.
15. fruitful--referring to the meaning of "Ephraim," from a
Hebrew root, "to be fruitful"
It was long the most numerous and flourishing of the tribes
16. This verse and
foretell the calamities about to befall Israel before her restoration
owing to her impenitence.