Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New TestamentHOSEA 13
This chapter is a further elaboration of the gross sins of Israel, the prophet's words taking the form of a formal indictment, followed by the announcement of the verdict and penalty. His purpose seems to be that of removing any doubt whatever that the doomed nation fully deserved the promised destruction. The monotony of this tragic scene is unexpectedly broken in Hos. 13:14 by a startling promise of reclamation and redemption, not for the purpose of casting any note of uncertainty with regard to the fate of the apostate nation, but for the purpose of revealing that God's ultimate purpose of redemption for mankind was yet to be fulfilled. Hos. 13:14 does not mean that Israel will escape her just reward, but that God's purpose will be successful anyway. It shows that it was not God who was defeated by Israel's apostasy, but Israel. The chapter is especially interesting because of Paul's quotation from Hos. 13:14 (1 Corinthians 15:55), and for the reflection of the new birth motif in Hos. 13:13, as adopted and extended by our Lord himself (John 3:1-5). Also, the various parenthetical outbursts in the prophecy of Revelation, extolling the glories of heaven, or the happiness of the saints in glory, in the very midst of prophecies concerning the most terrible apostasy, are very similar to the unexpected appearance in this chapter of such a promise as that given in Hos. 13:14. This, of course, is not the way men write their books; but it is surely the way in which God has written his. For that reason, we confidently reject the notion of some scholars that Hos. 13:14 does not belong in this passage.
When Ephraim spake, there was trembling; he exalted himself in Israel; but when he offended in Baal, he died.
How the mighty had fallen! There had been many times in Israel's history that saw Ephraim in the ascendancy. Beginning with the preferred blessing of the Patriarch Jacob (Genesis 48:14), Ephraim had always been prominent and powerful among the twelve tribes, being the largest and strongest, and at the same time, the most ambitious among them. They led the rebellion against the house of David (1 Kings 12:20); Joshua, the successor to Moses and leader of the conquest of Canaan was an Ephraimite;F1 after the death of Solomon, the Hebrew dominion in the Middle East attained its greatest extent under the Ephraimite Jereboam II (2 Kings 14:25-27); and here the prophet summarized that long-standing preeminence of Ephraim with the comment that, "When Ephraim spake, there was trembling." We agree with Myers that there is "no specific reference"F2 here to any particular event that indicated the former power and glory of Ephraim. The thrust of the verse is in the second clause.
But when he offended in Baal, he died
The dying commenced with the introduction of the unlawful worship.F3 It was appropriate that Ephraim should have been named here as a synonym for the whole northern Israel, because it was the Ephraimite king Jereboam I who led the way in corrupting the worship of God (1 Kings 12:30), Ephraim's death warrant was sealed when he introduced idolatry.F4 Other Old Testament passages relating to that corruption are 1 Kings 12:25ff and 16:29-33. When God's covenant people forgot him and wallowed in the sensual immoralities of the old Canaanite paganism, their spiritual death ensued immediately; and the ultimate destruction of the kingdom became inevitable.
And now they sin more and more, and have made them molten images of their silver, even idols according to their own understanding, all of them the work of the craftsmen: they say of them, Let the men that sacrifice kiss the calves.
They sin more and more
Sin has a way of growing worse and worse, and more and more. It feeds upon itself, constantly increasing until the sinner is destroyed. It is a malignancy with relentless progression.
Not only is this a reference to a clear and specific commandment in the Decalogue, the very word for molten image here is Masseka, exactly the same word used in Exodus for the golden calf. Figurines on the model of the bull-image were being struck for use in private and public ritual.F5 It is clearly the calf-worship of the old Canaanite paganism that is in view here.
Let the men that sacrifice kiss the calves
Despite the uncertainties and the problems of the Hebrew text in this place, the depravity of the onceworshippers of God is starkly revealed. Behind Hosea's statement is an utter disgust, unmatched elsewhere.F6 How incredible was it that intelligent men should kiss the image of a bull calf!
"Kissing the calves, or kissing the hand toward the calves or idols, was an act of devotion or homage expressed toward the false deity. The practice of "kissing the hand toward" is found as early as Job and later in the days of Elijah (Job 31:27; 1 Kings 19:18). The Spirit instructs the kings of the earth to kiss the Son, that is, to do homage to Him (Psalms 2:12)."F7
The mass insanity on the part of mankind which leads them in the attribution of divine attributes to images was exposed and denounced by the apostle Paul in his famed address on Mars' hill in Athens. "Men ought not to think that God is like an image graven with art and man's device" (Acts 17:22-31).
The New English Bible, of course, has a "corrected" version of Hosea in this place: "Those who kiss calf-images offer human sacrifice"; but we agree with Polkinghorne that, "The New English Bible does not improve the sense with such a rendition."F8 The problem for some of the translators is that they have failed to take into account the somewhat independent and disconnected outburst, "Men kiss calves!" It is certain that the prophet felt no compulsion whatever to follow the staid and precise rules of grammatical construction. The American Standard Version is fully adequate in the rendition followed here.
According to their own understanding
This exceedingly important phrase is generally ignored by commentators; but it contains the germ of all that was wrong in Israel's worship. It represented their ideas, their devices, their inventions, their innovations, and their preferences, as contrasted with what God had commanded them to do. This is comparable to what Paul wrote in Col. 2:23 regarding `will-worship.' Men are not to be wise above that which is written, or follow their own understanding, but God's command in worship.F9
Therefore they shall be as the morning cloud, and as the dew that passeth early away, as the chaff that is driven with the whirlwind out of the threshing-floor, and as the smoke out of the chimney.
In this passage, God speaks in the third person of Israel, "as though addressing a court concerning the accused."F10 Four distinct and eloquent similes are used here to stress the impermanence of the doomed state.
As the morning cloud
This figure is used in both testamentst and notably by James (James 4:13ff) in the New Testament. Nothing could be more ephemeral than a vanishing cloud in the early morning.
As the chaff that is driven
The chaff was made a symbol of the lost in the New Testament (Matthew 3:12). In the ancient custom of threshing grain, the threshing-floors were usually placed on high elevations readily accessible to the wind. The chaff was absolutely worthless, fit for any disposal of it that was available. The application of such similies as these to Israel indicated their approaching demise as a political entity upon earth.
And as the dew that passeth early away
The very slight dampness resulting from even a heavy dew could last only a few minutes under the blazing suns of the Middle East.
And as the smoke out of the chimney
Questions raised by uncertainties of the the Hebrew text of the O.T. have led to various readings of this place. The Revised Standard Version has, Like smoke from a window. Ward rendered it, Smoke from a hole in the wall.F11 It is true, of course, that the ancient chimney's were merely windows, or openings in the wall, but they were the originals from which our word chimney is derived; and therefore there is no improvement in departing from the KJV and ASV. Besides that, smoke out of a hole in the wall, or a window, in present-day thinking, would indicate a house on fire, something that is not hinted at in the text. However rendered, the passage refers to the transitory and ephemeral status of the onceproud Israel, which through gross idolatry had turned away from the Lord and forfeited her true life. Like the wisp of vapor from a smoking chimney, Israel would soon be swallowed up in oblivion.
Yet I am Jehovah thy God from the land of Egypt; and thou shalt know no god but me, and besides me there is no saviour.
Thou shalt know no God but me
is a narrative form of the first commandment of the Decalogue.F12 The efforts of critics to make Hosea the original from which much of the Pentateuch was derived are totally frustrated by the perpetual consciousness on the part of this prophet of the prior covenant relation between God and Israel. Hosea is therefore subsequent to the Pentateuch and not antecedent to it.
I am Jehovah thy God
Note that throughout the prophecy of Hosea, Hosea is the mouthpiece of God, who speaks the words of the Lord.F13
Besides me there is no saviour
Monotheism was no new conception dimly perceived for the first time by Hosea; but it was an ever-present assumption and conviction on his part.
I did know thee in the wilderness, in the land of great drought.
In Hos. 13:4, the bringing up of the children of Israel out of slavery in Egypt was mentioned; and here, the experience of the people during the period of their wilderness wanderings, as that experience related to God's protection and blessing, is mentioned. All of these historical facts relate to the right of Israel's true God to reject and punish their ingratitude and rebellion against him.
The point of this reference to Israel's history is in the fact that God had effectively demonstrated his superiority above and over all the so-called gods of paganism, a blindness to which truth lay at the bottom of Israel's reversion to paganism.
"Jehovah delivered them from the power of Egypt and Egypt's "gods" by demonstrating through Moses and Aaron the impotence of Egypt's idols and his own omnipotence."F14
According to their pasture, so were they filled; they were filled, and their heart was exalted: therefore have they forgotten me.
They were filled; they were filled, and their heart was exalted
Here we see the evil results that often flow from prosperity.F15 It is hardly understandable that the very blessings God gives to men should become the occasion, not of their honoring God, but of their denying him and rebelling against him. Every minister knows a thousand examples of the same thing. Here, we take the liberty of quoting at some length from Butler's wonderful perception of the sin in view here:
"Their trouble was pride. They did exactly what Moses warned them not to do (Deuteronomy 8:11-20). When they become affluent, they did like so many other nations have done, and like America is doing today, they lifted up their hearts in pride and said, "My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth." Pride, whether it is military pride, political pride, affluent pride, or intellectual pride, causes men wilfully to ignore the facts of history (2 Peter 3:3-7). Pseudoscientists, proud of their intellectualism, proud of their erudition, or their religious heritage, will deliberately ignore the historical, textual integrity of the Bible and substitute theology and philosophy for the Word of God. Pride is the trap that snared the devil, snared Eve, and then Adam, and snares many millions today."F16
They have forgotten me
The source of all unrighteousness lies in the fundamental mistake mentioned here.
Whatever suns of imminence or glory may beat down on man's head, it is only for an instant. Soon he must go down to the oblivion from whence he came. He must subside. He must repose in death, and only the power of the Eternal God can raise him from the grave. How tragic, then, that so many live out their brief hour upon earth without remembering God, the Creator. Four times God thundered the warning from the Book of Deuteronomy, "Beware lest thou forget Jehovah thy God!" (Deut. 6:10; 8:11, etc.)
I. Most of the sins that people commit are only variations of forgetting God. Selfishness is the sin of forgetting God in others. Pride is the absence from the heart of any thought of God. Worry is the sin of forgetting God's providence. Envy is the sin of forgetting God in the blessings he has already bestowed upon us. One must forget God first, before such evils can blossom in the heart.
II. Why do people forget God?
(A) First, because the guilty conscience does not like to retain God in the thoughts (John 3:20).
(B) Another reason lies in the antagonism of the world. The din of the world is in our ears, the glitter of this world is in our eyes, the dust of this world is in our nostrils, the thirst of the world is in our throats, the affection of the world is in our hearts; and the madness of the world is a roaring tornado all around us. No wonder an apostle warned us, "Love not the world" (1 John 2:15).
(C) One of the most common reasons is prosperity, and of all reasons the most incredible. How unbelievable it is that men would make the very blessing of the Father the reason of their apostasy from him. Yet in every church there are examples of men who, while in modest circumstances, were faithful Christians, but who with a little prosperity, got divorces from their wives, bought yachts, quit the church and went to hell in all directions! They forgot God.
III. Why is it such a sin to forget God? First, it is a denial of the very reason for man's being created by the Father, i.e., that of glorifying God; and if a man is not going to do the principal thing for which God created and designed him, he is no better than a dog, and has become a thing of no cosmic value whatever. Man apart from his relation to God has the same eternal status as a bushel of turnips, a shovel full of coal, or any of the lower animals of nature. Secondly, forgetting God, is a mark of the basest ingratitude. It is always deplorable to see men forget friends from whose hands they received benefit and encouragement in the race of life; but what about God remembered not? God created men in his own likeness, endowed them with marvelous abilities, unspeakable privileges, and wonderful glory. How can men forget a God like that? Men may forget other things and retrieve the blunder, but forgetting God is an irrevocable mistake, the fatal blunder, the mortal error from which there is no recovery; for God will remember and punish wicked men whether they remember him or not.
IV. Ways in which men forget God.
(A) They forget God when they neglect to give thanks to God (Romans 1:21).
(B) They forget God who make plans without taking God into consideration (James 4:13-15).
(C) They forget God who take vengeance upon their enemies (Romans 12:19).
(D) Men forget God when they forget the church. When the solemn obligation to the church of God in Christ is neglected or abandoned, God is forgotten. Forget the church; forget God; they are one and the same thing.
(E) Men forget God when they forget solemn commitments made to worship and adore Him, as for example, in their baptismal vows which united them with Christ.
(F) And God is forgotten when the more personal and emotional promises once made to Him in the face of threatening tragedy and sorrow are remembered no more. Is there anyone who cannot remember when he poured out his heart to God in the presence of what seemed to be total disaster, defeat, or tragedy, the most fervent prayer of his whole life? Not once before in a lifetime had such a prayer been offered; and wonder of wonders, God heard and granted the appeal! And in circumstances like that, men pledge undying loyalty to God; but alas, the promises are little heeded nor long remembered. Men forget God.
God grant for all of us the grace of avoiding the incredible folly and madness of forgetting God! Long ago, Israel forgot God, and total and perpetual ruin was the fruit of it.
Verses 7, 8
Therefore am I unto them as a lion; as a leopard will I watch by the way; 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 lioness; the wild beast shall tear them.
Hardly any comment is needed on such a denunciation as this. God who was the Shepherd of Israel would, because of their forgetting him, suddenly appear, not as a kind and loving shepherd, but as the most ferocious of wild beasts, and tear the heart out of that wicked nation.
Rend the caul of their heart
is a reference to the pericardium. God, once their friend, would become their enemy! Keil, Harley and others have noted that the Hebrew verbs here indicate that the punishment of Israel had already begun and that it would not cease until a total end of the apostate nation occurred.
It is thy destruction, O Israel, that [thou art] against me, against thy help.
In a sense, Israel was their own destruction. God is the Father of mercies, but all who rebel against God cause, and are responsible for, their own everlasting destruction; and, not only was this true of ancient Israel, it is likewise true of all today who choose to follow the ways of vanity and wickedness. "The word for `destruction' here is used by the writer of Gen. 6:17; 9:15 with reference to the Flood with its utter and complete destruction."F17 "Although there are textual problems here, the meaning is clear: by rebelling against the God who was always willing to help his people, Israel had brought about her own destruction."F18 As Butler put it:
"Man's sin, judgment, sentence, and destruction are not, in themselves, from God, but from man's moral choice to rebel against God. Whoever casts himself against the Rock of Ages will destroy himself" (Matthew 21:42-44).F19
Where now is thy king, that he may save thee in all thy cities? and thy judges, of whom thou saidst, Give me a king and princes?
"Here, Hosea returns to one of his favorite subjects, the monarchy, making it clear that this time he is not only antagonistic to the northern kings but to the monarchy as such. The monarchy is powerless to save the nation, israel was wrong to ask for a king. Her punishment was that she got what she asked."F20
Where now is thy king.?
This does not imply that Israel had no king at all at that time, but simply that it had no king who could save it.F21
Although this verse points back to 2 Sam. 8, in which is recorded the account of Israel's rejection of the Theocracy and their demand for a king, it also has in view the rejection of the house of David by Ephraim and the rebellion of the Ten Tribes, as well as numerous other times in their immediate past when successive palace revolutions and the frantic seeking of the people for new kings had led to frequent changes in the monarchy. All of these events, however, were embryonicly contained in their original demand. In the very nature of kings and human goverments, there must ever be constant and increasing pressures against the "ins" and "outs." Israel had ordered the whole system when they demanded a king; and all of the subsequent revolutions were only the logical fruits of their first departure from the government God had given them.
I have given thee a king in mine anger, and have taken him away in my wrath.
Most of the commentators are in line with Dummelow's comment to the effect that, "This has often been referred to Saul; but the Hebrew tenses suggest repeated actions; and the allusions may, therefore, be to the repeated changes in the dynasty of the Northern kingdom."F22 As noted under Hos. 13:10, above, however, all such changes were inherent in the first. These verses (Hosea 13:10-11) make it certain that God had never approved of Israel's monarchy, any of it. As Mays noted:
"In Hos. 8:4, Hosea said that Yahweh had no part in Israel's kingmaking. Here the assesment is even more negative. Yahweh had no responsibility for Israel's kings, and all that his people can receive from God through them is his anger."F23
It is a mistake, however, to limit this truth to the alleged negativism of Hosea; it must ever be remembered that he spoke the Word of God Himself.
Hailey believed that Hosea was here speaking especially of the kings of Northern Israel because, "These all had been idolators; from Jeroboam to Hosea, the first to the last, there had not been a true worshipper of Jehovah among them."F24 This, of course, is true; but had Judah's kings been any better? Yes, in a relative sense; but even the best of them had fallen far short of perfection. Saul's presumption led to his rejection; David corrupted the worship by the introduction of instruments of music, and his vanity led to the building of the temple and all the disasterous consequences that ensued from it; and Solomon sported a thousand wives and concubines and built shrines and memorials to all their pagan gods! Go down the whole list and it becomes starkly apparent that God's disapproval of Israel's monarchy was no late thing, applicable to the phantom kings of Ephraim's final years alone, but had rested upon the whole institution of their monarchy from the very beginning.
The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up; his sin is laid up in store.
"As men count money and put it away in a bag, so Jehovah has counted the sins of Ephraim and was holding them all for reckoning. They were laid up before him for judgment."F25
A significant fact of God's dealings with men appears here in that even the worst of sins may not suffer divine punishment promptly upon the occasions when they were committed; but that does not mean that God has forgotten or that he will overlook the evil deeds perpetrated by men. The records are accurately kept, and eternal justice will at last be meted out to every man.
"For we must all be made manifest before the judgment-seat of Christ; that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he hath done, whether it be good or bad" (2 Corinthians 5:10).
In the case of Northern Israel, addressed here by Hosea in God's name, their conduct had finally exhausted the patience and forbearance of God Himself; the cup of his wrath was full and about to overflow.
The New English Bible translates Hos. 13:12 thus:
"Ephraim's guilt is tied up in a scroll, his sins are kept on record."
Amazingly, the imagery is the same here as that of Rev. 18:5, where the sins of the great harlot church are represented as a scroll long enough to reach heaven itself! Again, we have a perfect correspondence between the sacred writers of the Old Testament and the New Testament. Both this verse, and the next one find their perfect echoes in the writings of the apostle John. In the following verse, it is the conception of the new birth!
The sorrows of a travailing woman shall come upon him: he is an unwise son; for it is time he should not tarry in the place of the breaking forth of children.
The astounding versality of Hosea is seen in the multiple figures used to portray the wickedness of Israel. Israel (of Ephraim) is a half-baked cake, a stubborn heifer, an ungrateful son, an unfaithful and adulterous wife, etc., etc. Here Israel is at once a travailing woman unable to give birth, and a foolish, unnatural son incapable of performing his own natural function in the process of birth.
The place of the breaking forth of children
is a reference to the womb. The most instructive and perceptive of the many comments on this which were reviewed is the following by Harper:
"The figure represents the woman (come to term) but unable to perform the act. But with the privilege of a Hebrew poet, Hosea suddenly shifts from the mother to the child that is to be born. (He is an unwise son). The child is represented as failing to do the part assigned to him by nature; and in this failure he shows himself unwise and foolish. The result will be that, instead of an occasion for rejoicing, viz. a new birth, there will rather be an occasion for grief, for the parturition will be fatal to both mother and son. Not only is there no new being in the world; that one which did exist is taken away. Israel, in order to continue life, must be born again,' without such new birth, old Israel must perish."F26
In the final sentence of the quotation just noted, the conception of the new birth is dramatically presented, since it is Ephraim which was compared to the fetal infant unable to be born. This absolute requirement of being "born again" was made mandatory for all mankind by the Saviour in John 3:1-5. It is amazing indeed to find the concept in the prophecy of Hosea. Indeed, he did speak the words of God.
I will ransom them from the power of Sheol; I will redeem them from death: O death, where are thy plagues? O Sheol, where is thy destruction? repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.
Many have tried to pervert this precious promise into a threat of destruction by the rendition of it as an interrogative instead of a declaration; but we are compelled to reject this. The apostle Paul viewed the passage as a promise and quoted it in 1 Cor. 15:55; and thus inspiration from God provides the true meaning of it.
What upsets the commentators is the totally unexpected appearance of a blessed promise like this in the midst of the most severe denunciations to be found in the whole Bible; but the setting is this: God had promised that through Israel "all the familes of the earth" should be blessed, and Hosea had been charged with the task of revealing God's purpose of rejection and destruction of the very Israel through whom the blessing of all men was promised to be conveyed! Did that mean that the hope of human salvation was lost? Indeed no! The ultimate victory of God, upon behalf of men, over the consequences of sin would yet be achieved. "I will ransom them!" thundered from the throne of God as the answer for any doubt. God was not being defeated in the apostasy of Israel; it was Israel that was being defeated. God would yet achieve his purpose through the righteous remnant which would remain, and particularly through the True Israel, even Jesus Christ our Lord! How appropriately, therefore, do the words of this sublime promise shine like a blazing lamp in the midnight darkness of Israel's wretched apostasy.
It is a fact that, "Modern scholarship is virtually unanimous in taking this verse as a threat. God is summoning up the plagues of death to punish his recalcitrant people."F27 Despite this, we are certain that the scholars are wrong here because they are blind to the crying need for just such a promise in this exact place. They are looking only at Israel; but God's purpose in Israel has always been a redemption planned for all men, and not for Jews only. Most of the so-called "modern translations" follow the lead of the scholars in perverting this blessed promise; and in this particular, they become not "translations" in any sense but commentary, and woefully ignorant and inaccurate commentary at that! The apostle Paul could not have used this passage as he did, unless it is a glorious promise. Many of the scholars, even some of them who accept the passage as a threat, have pointed out that there is no genuine authority whatever for their changing the meaning of this verse.
"This verse lacks an interrogative particle!"F28 That simply means that it cannot honestly be translated as a question, thus making it a threat. Of course, those who have already decided what they think Hosea should have said, promptly supply the particle, "eraending the text" as they call it.F29 Such emendations cannot be accepted. Smith tacitly admitted that there is no authority for the change in the first part of the verse but accepted it anyway, basing it upon another false interpretation of the last clause, which he called, "the crux of the interpretation (which) rests in the last clause, `compassion is hid from my eyes.'"F30 But what has happened in that last clause (Hos. 13:14b) is that the scholars have perverted it also in order to bolster their bastard translation of the main promise. Let's take a look at it:
Repentance shall be hid from mine eyes
The clear meaning of that is that God will not repent of his glorious promise. The immutable and eternal God will do what he promised! There is no such thing as God's changing his holy purpose of redeeming a portion of apostate humanity from sin and from the power of the grave.
I will ransom them from the power of Sheol (the grave);
I will redeem them from death!
O death, where are thy pagues?
O Sheol (grave) where is thy destruction?
Repentance shall be hid from mine eyes!
The last clause here should be read, as Keil said, "in accordance with Ps. 89:36; 110:4, where the oath of God is still further strengthened by the words `and will not repent.'"F31 God added this in order to anticipate and remove all doubt that his purpose of "salvation will be irrevocably accomplished."F32 The obvious meaning of this is clear, and that accounts for the perversion of the passage to read: "Compassion is hid from mine eyes." After accepting that rendition, Smith wrote:
"The point seems clear. The Lord will no longer have compassion; there is an end to the patience of God. Consequently, the answer to the two rhetorical questions in verse 14a is no. The Lord will not redeem them from the power of Sheol."F33
But the word here is "repentance" not compassion." As W. R. Harper pointed out: "The word means neither resentment nor compassion; it is the technical word for repentance."F34 Such a truth nullifies and categorically denies the type of commentary cited immediately above. In the instance of this verse 14, therefore, the modern scholars have gone much too far; and their erroneous perversion should be rejected out of hand.
Now, read this glorious passage again. It pertains to every true believer in every age of the world. It even applied to any righteous remnant that could have remained in old Israel. What an unspeakable tragedy it would have been for God to have left this verse out. Don't let the so-called scholars take it away from you.
Still another gross error easily fastens itself upon this passage, and that is to apply it to a restoration of secular Israel, Ephraim in particular. Speaking of most modern scholars, Ward said, "Several of them (Robinson, Weiser, and Knight) interpret it as a promise of new life to Ephraim."F35 Such a view could be correct only in so far as it is restricted to any righteous remnant that might have remained in Israel after the punishments announced by the prophet Hosea. There is certainly nothing in this that promises God's resurrecting the evil old state and monarchy of apostate Israel. That thing went down to everlasting death in the pre-Christian era; nor is anything promised in the current dispensation of God's grace that assures any such thing even in the remote future.
Though he be fruitful among his brethren, an east wind shall come, the breath of Jehovah coming up from the wilderness; and his spring shall become dry, and his fountain shall be dried up: he shall make spoil of the treasure of all goodly vessels.
In this verse, the prophet resumed the Word of God regarding the specific punishment of the apostate people. "The east wind" here is unanimously interpreted by scholars as a reference to the military power of Assyria, which would move upon Israel from the east and utterly destroy the nation.
Like almost every other verse in Hosea, there is a reflection of the Pentateuch here. The reference to Ephraim as "fruitful" harks back to the patriarchal blessing of Ephraim by Jacob (Genesis 48:19). The very name Ephraim means "fruitful."
The breath of Jehovah coming from the wilderness
It is Yahweh's wind, because it is Yahweh himself who executes the judgment pronounced, Assyria being the instrument.F36
The metaphors of the failing spring and the dried-up fountain were eloquent indeed of that awful invasion and conquest by Assyria.
Jamieson has given an account of the historical fulfilment of the event prophesied in this verse:
"The Assyrian invader, Shalmaneser began the siege of Samaria in 723 B.C. Its close was in 721 B.C., the first year of Sargon, who seems to have usurped the throne of Assyria while Shalmaneser was at the siege of Samaria. Hence, while 2 Kings 17:6 states, `the king of Assyria took Samaria,' 2 Kings 18:10 says, `at the end of three years they took it!'"F37
Samaria shall bear her guilt; 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.
These stark and terrible details are all that is needed to describe the horrible Assyrian invasion that carried Northern Israel away forever. They ruthlessly butchered the vast majority of the population, burned, looted, and demolished their cities, destroyed their fortresses, and carried away into slavery more than 27,000 of the Israelites whose youth, strength, and ability would make them profitable as slaves. Children too young to work were destroyed. The nobility in the greater part, all of the aged, infirm, or disabled were killed.
Samaria shall bear her guilt
As Ward said, this may be rendered, Samaria shall make atonement.F38 Indeed! And must not every man make atonement, or bear his guilt, unless he shall receive the atonement in Christ? Samaria foolishly preferred to make it for themselves; and what an atonement it proved to be! But how about men today? Shall it be any better for them who know not the Lord and refuse, like a kicking heifer, to walk in God's ways? All who read these words of God in Hosea should pause to give thanks that a better way has been opened up for all who will receive it in the blood of Christ!
Footnotes for Hosea 13
1: Herbert Lockyer, All the Men of the Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1958), p. 205.
2: Jacob M. Myers, Layman's Bible Commentary, Vol. 14 (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1959), p. 62.
3: C. F. Keil, Commentary on the Old Testament, Vol. 10 (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company), p. 154.
4: Homer Hailey, A Commentary on the Minor Prophets (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1972), p. 178.
5: James Luther Mays, Hosea (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1969), p. 172.
6: Jacob M. Myers, op. cit., p. 63.
7: Homer Hailey, op. cit., p. 179.
8: G. J. Polkinghorne, The New Layman's Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1979), p. 937.
9: Robert Jamieson, Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown's Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1962), p. 781.
10: James Luther Mays, op. cit., p. 174.
11: James M. Ward, A Theological Commentary on Hosea (New York: Harper and Row, 1966), p. 218.
12: James Luther Mays, op. cit., p. 174.
13: Jacob M. Myers, op. cit., p. 64.
14: Paul T. Butler, Minor Prophets (Joplin: College Press, 1968), p. 569.
15: W. R. Harper, International Critical Commentary Hosea (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1910, p. 398.
16: Paul T. Butler, op. cit., p. 570.
17: Jacob M. Myers, op. cit., p. 65.
18: Charles F. Pfeiffer, Wycliffe Bible Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1962), p. 816.
19: Paul T. Butler, op. cit., p. 571.
20: Henry McKeating, Amos, Hosea, and Micah (Cambridge: At the University Press, 1971), p. 148.
21: C. F. Keil op. cit., p. 157.
22: J. R. Dummelow, Commentary on the Holy Bible (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1937), p. 556.
23: James Luther Mays, op. cit., p. 178.
24: Homer Hailey, op. cit., p. 181.
26: W. R. Harper, op. cit., p. 403.
27: Henry McKeating, op. cit., p. 150.
28: James M. Ward, op. cit., p. 221.
30: Ralph L. Smith, Beacon Bible Commentary, Vol. 7 (Nashville, Broadman Press, 1972), p. 54.
31: C. F. Keil, op. cit., p. 160.
33: Ralph L. Smith, op. cit., p. 54.
34: W. R. Harper, op. cit., p. 405.
35: James M. Ward, op cit., p. 221.
36: W. R. Harper, op. cit., p. 406.
37: Robert Jamieson, op. cit., p. 781.
38: James M. Ward, op. cit., p. 221.