X God charges Israel with many sins, and threatens them with punishment, ver. 1-11. Exhorts them to repent, ver. 12-15.
Verse 1. An empty vine - That hath lost its strength to bring forth fruit. Unto himself - Whatever fruit was brought forth by its remaining strength, was not brought forth to God. His fruit - When the land yielded more plentiful increase, this plenty was employed on multiplying idols. The altars - Of his idols. The goodness - Imagining that the goodness of their land was a blessing from their idols.
Verse 2. Is divided - From God and his worship. Faulty - As this was their sin, so the effects hereof should manifestly prove them faulty. He - God.
Verse 3. Say - See and feel. No king - Either no king at all, or no such king as we expected. What then - For kings are not able to save without the God of kings.
Verse 4. Words - Vain words. Swearing falsely - By perjury deceiving those they treated with. A covenant - With the Assyrian king. Judgment - Divine vengeance. As hemlock - A proverbial speech, expressing the greatness of this evil.
Verse 5. Because of the calves - Because they had sinned by these calves, therefore did this fear seize them. The people - They who dwelt at Beth-aven. That rejoiced on it - These priests formerly were fed, clothed, and enriched by this idol, this made them right glad. The glory thereof - All its credit is vanished. Is departed - The Assyrians have either broken it, or carried it in derision into Assyria.
Verse 6. It - The golden calf.
Verse 7. Is cut off - Shortly will be cut off: this prophecy probably was delivered when Samaria was besieged.
Verse 8. The high places - The temples and altars of Baal. Of Aven - Or Beth-aven. They shall say - When this shall be brought to pass, the idolatrous Israelites shall be in such perplexity, that they shall wish the mountains and hills might fall on them.
Verse 9. They - Probably the six hundred men who fled to the rock Rimmon. Overtake them - That fatal battle did not reach them; but now Israel shall be more severely punished.
Verse 10. The people - The Assyrians. For their two transgressions - Perhaps, their revolt from David's house, and their idolatry.
Verse 11. Taught - Used to, and so skilled in. Passed over - I laid some lighter yoke upon her, brought some gentle afflictions upon that people to tame them, but this hath not prevailed. Ride - I will ride on Ephraim and tame him. Shall plow - Judah tho' less sinful hath been used to harder labour; hath plowed when Ephraim hath reaped. Break his clods - The same in another proverbial speech, their work at present is harder, but there is an harvest follows. Tho' they sow in tears when going to Babylon, they shall reap in joy at their return.
Verse 12. Reap - And ye shall reap in mercy. Fallow ground - Your hearts are as ground over-run with weeds, which need to be plowed and broken up, that good seed may be sowed in them. And rain - Plentifully pour out the fruits of his goodness and mercy.
Verse 13. Ye have plowed - You, O Israelites. Ye have reaped - Ye have lived in wickedness, and propagated it, and ye have met with a recompense worthy of your labour. Eaten - Fed yourselves with vain hopes. In thy way - Their way was their idolatry. Mighty men - The next lie on which they lived was the wisdom and valour of their great men.
Verse 14. As Shalman - Probably Salmaneser. Beth-arbel - It was a city of Assyria, and gave name to a country or region in part of Assyria.
15. Beth-el - The idolatry committed there. Do - Procure all this evil against you. In a morning - Possibly the Assyrians might assault the city towards morning and master it.