Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
PLAINLY AND WITHOUT
In this chapter he reproves the people and priests for their sins in the
interregnum which followed Jeroboam's death; hence there is no mention
of the king or his family; and in
bloodshed and other evils usual in a civil war are specified.
1. Israel--the ten tribes.
controversy--judicial ground of complaint
no . . . knowledge of God--exhibited in practice
2. they break out--bursting through every restraint.
blood toucheth blood--literally, "bloods." One act of bloodshed follows
another without any interval between (see
2Ki 15:8-16, 25;
3. land . . . languish--
(Isa 19:8; 24:4;
Joe 1:10, 12).
sea--including all bodies of water, as pools and even rivers
A general drought, the greatest calamity in the East, is
4. let no man . . . reprove--Great as is the sin of
Israel, it is hopeless to reprove them; for their presumptuous guilt is
as great as that of one who refuses to obey the priest when giving
judgment in the name of Jehovah, and who therefore is to be put to
They rush on to their own destruction as wilfully as such a one.
thy people--the ten tribes of Israel; distinct from Judah
5. fall in the day--in broad daylight, a time when an attack
would not be expected (see on
Jer 6:4, 5;
in . . . night--No time, night or day, shall be free from the slaughter
of individuals of the people, as well as of the false prophets.
thy mother--the Israelitish state, of which the citizens are the
6. lack of knowledge--"of God"
that is, lack of piety. Their ignorance was wilful, as the epithet,
"My people," implies; they ought to have known, having
the opportunity, as the people of God.
thou--O priest, so-called. Not regularly constituted, but still bearing
the name, while confounding the worship of Jehovah and of the calves in
(1Ki 12:29, 31).
I will . . . forget thy children--Not only those who then were alive
should be deprived of the priesthood, but their children who, in the
ordinary course would have succeeded them, should be set aside.
7. As they were increased--in numbers and power. Compare
"thy children," to which their "increase" in numbers refers.
so they sinned--(Compare
and Ho 13:6).
will I change their glory into shame--that is, I will strip them of
all they now glory in (their numbers and power), and give them
shame instead. A just retribution: as they changed their glory into
shame, by idolatry
8. eat . . . sin of my people--that is, the sin offerings
(Le 6:26; 10:17).
The priests greedily devoured them.
set their heart on their iniquity--literally, "lift up the
animal soul to lust after," or strongly desire. Compare
The priests set their own hearts on the iniquity of the
people, instead of trying to suppress it. For the more the people
sinned, the more sacrificial victims in atonement for sin the priests
9. like people, like priest--They are one in guilt; therefore they
shall be one in punishment
reward them their doings--in homely phrase, "pay them back in their
10. eat, and not have enough--just retribution on those who "eat up
(greedily) the sin of My people"
whoredom, and . . . not increase--literally, "break
forth"; used of giving birth to children
Not only their wives, but their concubines, shall be barren. To be
childless was considered a great calamity among the Jews.
11. A moral truth applicable to all times. The special reference here
is to the licentious orgies connected with the Syrian worship, which
lured Israel away from the pure worship of God
(Isa 28:1, 7;
take away the heart--that is, the understanding; make men blind to
their own true good
12. Instances of their understanding ("heart") being "taken away."
staff--alluding to divination by rods
Eze 21:21, 22).
The diviner, says ROSENMULLER, threw a rod
from him, which was stripped of its bark on one side, not on the other:
if the bare side turned uppermost, it was a good omen; if the side with
the bark, it was a bad omen. The Arabs used two rods, the one marked
God bids, the other, God forbids; whichever came out first, in
drawing them out of a case, gave the omen for, or against, an
declareth--that is, is consulted to inform them of future events.
spirit of whoredoms--a general disposition on the part of all
err--go astray from the true God.
from under their God--They have gone away from God under whom they
were, as a wife is under the dominion of her husband.
13. upon . . . mountains--High places were selected by idolaters on
which to sacrifice, because of their greater nearness to the heavenly
hosts which they worshipped
elms--rather, "terebinths" [MAURER].
shadow . . . good--screening the lascivious worshippers from the heat
of the sun.
daughters . . . commit whoredom . . . spouses
. . . adultery--in the polluted worship of Astarte, the
Phœnician goddess of love.
14. I will not punish . . . daughters--I will visit with the heaviest
punishments "not" the unchaste "daughters and spouses," but the fathers
and husbands; for it is these who "themselves" have set the bad example,
so that as compared with the punishment of the latter, that of the
former shall seem as nothing [MUNSTER].
separated with whores--withdrawn from the assembly of worshippers to
some receptacle of impurity for carnal connection with whores.
sacrifice with harlots--They commit lewdness with women who
devote their persons to be violated in honor of Astarte. (So the
Hebrew for "harlots" means, as distinguished from "whores").
and the prohibition,
(Isa 44:18; 45:20).
shall fall--shall be cast down.
15. Though Israel's ten tribes indulge in spiritual harlotry, at
least thou, Judah, who hast the legal priesthood, and the temple
rites, and Jerusalem, do not follow her bad example.
Gilgal--situated between Jordan and Jericho on the confines of Samaria;
once a holy place to Jehovah
1Sa 10:8; 15:21);
afterwards desecrated by idol-worship
(Ho 9:15; 12:11;
Am 4:4; 5:5;
Beth-aven--that is, "house of vanity" or idols: a name substituted
in contempt for Beth-el, "the house of God"; once sacred to Jehovah
(Ge 28:17, 19; 35:7),
but made by Jeroboam the seat of the worship of the calves
(1Ki 12:28-33; 13:1;
Am 3:14; 7:13).
"Go up" refers to the fact that Beth-el was on a hill
nor swear, The Lord liveth--This formula of oath was appointed by God
(De 6:13; 10:20;
It is therefore here forbidden not absolutely, but in conjunction with
idolatry and falsehood
16. backsliding--Translate, "Israel is refractory, as a refractory
heifer," namely, one that throws the yoke off her neck. Israel had
represented God under the form of "calves"
but it is she herself who is one.
lamb in a large place--not in a good sense, as in
Here there is irony: lambs like a large pasture; but it is not so safe
for them as a small one, duly fenced from wild beasts. God will "feed"
them, but it shall be with the "rod"
It shall be no longer in the narrow territory of Israel, but "in a
large place," namely, they shall be scattered in exile over the wide
realm of Assyria, a prey to their foes; as lambs, which are timid,
gregarious, and not solitary, are a prey when scattered asunder to wild
17. Ephraim--the ten tribes. Judah was at this time not so given to
idolatry as afterwards.
joined to--closely and voluntarily; identifying themselves with them
as a whoremonger becomes one flesh with the harlot
1Co 6:16, 17).
idols--The Hebrew means also "sorrows," "pains," implying the pain
which idolatry brings on its votaries.
let him alone--Leave him to himself. Let him reap the fruits of his
own perverse choice; his case is desperate; say nothing to him (compare
shows the address is to Judah, to avoid the contagion of
Israel's bad example. He is bent on his own ruin; leave him to his
fate, lest, instead of saving him, thou fall thyself
Jer 50:8; 51:6, 45;
18. Their drink is sour--metaphor for utter degeneracy of principle
Or, unbridled licentiousness; not mere ordinary sin, but as
abandoned as drunkards who vomit and smell sour with wine potations
[CALVIN]. MAURER not so well
translates, "When their drinking is over, they commit
whoredoms," namely, in honor of Astarte
(Ho 4:13, 14).
her rulers--Israel's; literally, "shields" (compare
with shame . . . love, Give ye--
No remedy could be effectual against their corruptions since the very
rulers sold justice for gifts [CALVIN]. MAURER translates, "The rulers are marvelously enamored
of shame." English Version is better.
19. Israel shall be swept away from her land
suddenly and violently as if by "the wings of the wind"
(Ps 18:10; 104:3;
Jer 4:11, 12).
ashamed . . . of their sacrifices--disappointed to their shame in their
hope of help through their sacrifices to idols.