Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
a new discourse, complaining of them, begins; for
evidently belong to
and form the happy termination of Israel's punishment:
primarily, the return from Babylon; ultimately, the return from their
present long dispersion.
perhaps refers to the murder of Pekahiah; the discourse cannot be later
than Pekah's reign, for it was under it that Gilead was carried
1. let us return--in order that God who has "returned to His place"
may return to us
torn, and . . . heal--
They ascribe their punishment not to fortune, or man, but to God, and
acknowledge that none (not the Assyrian, as they once vainly thought,
but God can heal their wound. They are at the same time persuaded of
the mercy of God, which persuasion is the starting-point of true
repentance, and without which men would not seek, but hate and flee
from God. Though our wound be severe, it is not past hope of recovery;
there is room for grace, and a hope of pardon. He hath smitten us, but
not so badly that He cannot heal us
2. Primarily, in type, Israel's national revival, in a short period ("two or three" being used to denote a few days,
Lu 13:32, 33);
antitypically the language is so framed as to refer in its full
accuracy only to Messiah, the ideal Israel
with Ho 11:1),
raised on the third day
"He shall prolong His days." Compare the similar use of
Israel's political resurrection as the type of the general resurrection
of which "Christ is the first-fruits"
live in his sight--enjoy His favour and the light of His
countenance shining on us, as of old; in contrast to
Ho 5:6, 15,
"Withdrawn Himself from them."
3. know, if we follow on to know the Lord--The result of His recovered
will be onward growth in saving knowledge of God, as the result of
perseverance in following after Him
"Then" implies the consequence of the revival in
The "if" is not so much conditional, as expressive of the
means which God's grace will sanctify to the full enlightenment
of Israel in the knowledge of Him. As want of "knowledge of God" has
been the source of all evils
(Ho 4:1; 5:4),
so the knowledge of Him will bring with it all blessings; yea, it is
This knowledge is practice, not mere theory
(Jer 22:15, 16).
Theology is life, not science; realities, not words. This onward
progress is illustrated by the light of "morning" increasing more and
more "unto the perfect day"
prepared--"is sure," literally, "fixed," ordered in His everlasting
purposes of love to His covenant-people. Compare "prepared of God"
Jehovah shall surely come to the relief of His people after their dark
night of calamity.
as the morning--
as the rain . . . latter . . . former--
First, "the rain" generally is mentioned; then the two rains
which caused the fertility of Palestine, and the absence of which was
accounted the greatest calamity: "the latter rain" which falls in the
latter half of February, and during March and April, just before the
harvest whence it takes its name, from a root meaning "to
gather"; and "the former rain," literally, "the darting rain," from
the middle of October to the middle of December. As the rain fertilizes
the otherwise barren land, so God's favor will restore Israel long
4. what shall I do unto thee--to bring thee back to piety. What
more could be done that I have not done, both in mercies and
At this verse a new discourse begins, resuming the threats
on this chapter.
morning cloud--soon dispersed by the sun
There is a tacit contrast here to the promise of God's grace to Israel
His going forth is "as the morning," shining more and more unto
the perfect day; your goodness is "as a morning cloud," soon
vanishing. His coming to His people is "as the (fertilizing) latter and
former rains"; your coming to Him "as the early dew goeth away."
5. I hewed them by the prophets--that is, I announced by the
prophets that they should be hewn asunder, like trees of the forest. God
identifies His act with that of His prophets; the word being His
instrument for executing His will
by . . . words of my mouth--
thy judgments--the judgments which I will inflict on thee, Ephraim
So "thy judgments," that is, those inflicted on thee
are as the light, &c.--like the light, palpable to the eyes of all, as
coming from God, the punisher of sin. HENDERSON
Job 37:3, 15).
6. mercy--put for piety in general, of which mercy or
charity is a branch.
not sacrifice--that is, "rather than sacrifice." So "not" is
As God Himself instituted sacrifices, it cannot mean that He desired
them not absolutely, but that even in the Old Testament, He valued
moral obedience as the only end for which positive
ordinances, such as sacrifices, were instituted--as of more importance
than a mere external ritual obedience
Ps 50:8, 9; 51:16;
Isa 1:11, 12;
Mt 9:13; 12:7).
knowledge of God--experimental and practical, not merely theoretical
1Jo 2:3, 4).
"Mercy" refers to the second table of the law, our duty to our
fellow man; "the knowledge of God" to the first table, our duty
to God, including inward spiritual worship. The second table is put
first, not as superior in dignity, for it is secondary, but in the
order of our understanding.
7. like men--the common sort of men
Not as Margin, "like Adam,"
For the expression "covenant" is not found elsewhere applied to
Adam's relation to God; though the thing seems implied
Israel "transgressed the covenant" of God as lightly as men break
everyday compacts with their fellow men.
there--in the northern kingdom, Israel.
8. Gilead . . . city--probably Ramoth-gilead,
metropolis of the hilly region beyond Jordan, south of the Jabbok,
known as "Gilead"
polluted with blood--"marked with blood-traces"
to Gilead's complicity in the regicidal conspiracy of Pekah against
Many homicides were there, for there were beyond Jordan more cities of
refuge, in proportion to the extent of territory, than on this side of
Ramoth-gilead was one.
9. company--"association" or guild of priests.
murder by consent--literally, "with one shoulder" (compare
Margin). The image is from oxen putting their shoulders
together to pull the same yoke [RIVETUS].
MAURER translates, "in the way towards
Shechem." It was a city of refuge between Ebal and Gerizim; on
(Jos 20:7; 21:21),
long the civil capital of Ephraim, as Shiloh was the religious capital;
now called Naploos; for a time the residence of Jeroboam
The priests there became so corrupted that they waylaid and murdered
persons fleeing to the asylum for refuge [HENDERSON]; the sanctity of the place enhanced the guilt
of the priests who abused their priestly privileges, and the right of
asylum to perpetrate murders themselves, or to screen those committed
by others [MAURER].
commit lewdness--deliberate crime, presumptuous wickedness, from an
Arabic root, "to form a deliberate purpose."
10. horrible thing--
(Jer 5:30; 18:13; 23:14).
11. an harvest--namely, of judgments (as in
Called a "harvest" because it is the fruit of the seed which Judah
herself had sown
(Ho 8:7; 10:12;
Judah, under Ahaz, lost a hundred twenty thousand "slain in one day (by
Israel under Pekah), because they had forsaken the Lord God of their
when I returned the captivity of my people--when I, by Oded My prophet,
caused two hundred thousand women, sons, and daughters, of Judah to be
restored from captivity by Israel
This prophecy was delivered under Pekah [LUDOVICUS
DE DIEU]. MAURER explains, When Israel shall have been exiled for
its sins, and has been subsequently restored by Me, thou, Judah, also
shalt be exiled for thine. But as Judah's punishment was not at the
time when God restored Israel, LUDOVICUS
DE DIEU'S explanation must
be taken. GROTIUS translates, "When I shall
have returned to make captive (that is, when I shall have again
made captive) My people." The first captivity of Israel under
Tiglath-pileser was followed by a second under Shalmaneser. Then
came the siege of Jerusalem, and the capture of the fenced cities of
Judah, by Sennacherib, the forerunner of other attacks, ending in
Judah's captivity. But the Hebrew is elsewhere used of
restoration, not renewed punishment