Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
APPLICATION OF THE
SYMBOLS IN THE
Israel's spiritual fornication, and her threatened punishment: yet a
promise of God's restored favor, when chastisements have produced their
1. Say . . . unto . . . brethren, Ammi,
&c.--that is, When the prediction
shall be accomplished, then ye will call one another, as
brothers and sisters in the family of God, Ammi and
mother--that is, the nation collectively. The address is
to "her children," that is, to the individual citizens of the
for she is not my wife--She has deprived herself of her high privilege
by spiritual adultery.
out of her sight--rather, "from her face." Her very countenance
unblushingly betrayed her lust, as did also her exposed "breasts."
3. set her as in the day . . . born--
(Eze 16:4; 23:25, 26, 28, 29).
The day of her political "birth" was when God delivered her from the
bondage of Egypt, and set up the theocracy.
make her as a wilderness--
Translate, "make her as the wilderness," namely, that in which she
passed forty years on her way to her goodly possession of Canaan. With
this agrees the mention of "thirst" (compare
4. her children--Not even her individual members shall escape
the doom of the nation collectively, for they are individually guilty.
5. I will go after--The Hebrew expresses a
lovers--the idols which Israel fancied to be the givers of all their
goods, whereas God gave all these goods
bread and . . . water--the necessaries of life in food.
wool . . . flax--clothing.
oil . . . drink--perfumed unguents and palatable drinks: the
luxuries of Hebrew life.
6, 7. thorns . . . wall--
La 3:7, 9).
The hindrances which the captivity interposed between Israel and her
idols. As she attributes all her temporal blessings to idols, I will
reduce her to straits in which, when she in vain has sought help from
false gods, she will at last seek Me as her only God and Husband, as at
then--before Israel's apostasy, under Jeroboam. The way of duty
is hedged about with thorns; it is the way of sin that is hedged
up with thorns. Crosses in an evil course are God's hedges to
turn us from it. Restraining grace and restraining providences (even
sicknesses and trials) are great blessings when they stop us in a
course of sin. Compare
"I will arise, and go to my father." So here, "I will go, and return,"
&c.; crosses in the both cases being sanctified to produce this
8. she did not know that I--not the idols, as she thought: the "lovers"
alluded to in
which they prepared for Baal--that is, of which they made images of
Baal, or at least the plate covering of them
Baal was the Phœnician sun-god: answering to the female Astarte,
the moon-goddess. The name of the idol is found in the Phœnician
Hannibal, Hasdrubal. Israel borrowed it from the Tyrians.
9. my corn . . . my wool . . . my flax--in
contrast to "my bread . . . my wool
. . . my flax,"
on God as the great First Cause giving these through secondary
instruments in nature. "Return, and take away," is equivalent to, "I
will take back again," namely, by sending storms, locusts, Assyrian
enemies, &c. "Therefore," that is, because she did not acknowledge Me
as the Giver.
in the time thereof--in the harvest-time.
10. lewdness--rather, "the shame of her nakedness"; laying aside the
figure, "I will expose her in her state, bereft of every necessary, before her lovers," that is, the idols (personified, as if they could
see), who, nevertheless, can give her no help. "Discover" is appropriate
to stripping off the self-flatteries of her hypocrisy.
11. her feast days--of Jeroboam's appointment, distinct from the Mosaic
However, most of the Mosaic feasts, "new-moons" and "sabbaths" to
Jehovah, remained, but to degenerate Israel worship was a weariness;
they cared only for the carnal indulgence on them
12. my rewards--my hire as a harlot
(Isa 23:17, 18).
destroy . . . vines . . . make . . . forest--
(Isa 5:6; 7:23, 24).
Fulfilled in the overthrow of Israel by Assyria
(Ho 9:4, 5).
13. days of Baalim--the days consecrated to the Baals, or various
images of Baal in different cities, whence the names
Baal-gad, Baal-hermon, &c.
decked herself with . . . earrings--rather, "nose-rings"
Margin), with which harlots decked themselves to attract
admirers: answering to the ornaments in which the Israelites decked
themselves on the idols' feasts.
forgat me--worse than the nations which had never known God. Israel
wilfully apostatized from Jehovah, whom she had known.
14. Therefore--rather, "Nevertheless" [HENDERSON]. English Version gives a more lovely
idea of God. That which would provoke all others to unappeasable wrath,
Israel's perversity and consequent punishment, is made a reason why God
should at last have mercy on her. As the "therefore"
expresses Israel's punishment as the consequence of Israel's
guilt, so "therefore" here, as in
expresses, that when that punishment has effected its designed end, the
hedging up her way with thorns so that she returns to God, her first
love, the consequence in God's wondrous grace is, He "speaks
comfortably" (literally, "speaks to her heart"; compare
So obstinate is she that God has to "allure her," that is, so to temper
judgment with unlooked-for grace as to win her to His ways. For
this purpose it was necessary to "bring her into the wilderness" (that
is, into temporal want and trials) first, to make her sin hateful to
her by its bitter fruits, and God's subsequent grace the more precious
to her by the contrast of the "wilderness." JEROME
makes the "bringing into the wilderness" to be rather a deliverance
from her enemies, just as ancient Israel was brought into the
wilderness from the bondage of Egypt; to this the phrase here alludes
The wilderness sojourn, however, is not literal, but moral: while still
in the land of their enemies locally, by the discipline of the
trial rendering the word of God sweet to them, they are to be brought
morally into the wilderness state, that is, into a state of
preparedness for returning to their temporal and spiritual privileges
in their own land; just as the literal wilderness prepared their
fathers for Canaan: thus the bringing of them into the wilderness
state is virtually a deliverance from their enemies.
15. from thence--returning from the wilderness. God gives Israel
a fresh grant of Canaan, which she had forfeited; so of her vineyards,
(Ho 2:9, 12).
Achor--that is, "trouble." As formerly Israel, after their tedious
journey through the wilderness, met with the trouble resulting from
Achan's crime in this valley, on the very threshold of Canaan, and yet
that trouble was presently turned into joy at the great victory
at Ai, which threw all Canaan into their hands
so the very trouble of Israel's wilderness state will be the "door of
hope" opening to better days. The valley of Achor, near Jericho, was
so "trouble" and "hope" are rightly blended in connection with it.
sing . . . as . . . when she came . . . out of . . . Egypt--It shall
be a second exodus song, such as Israel sang after the deliverance at
the Red Sea
Isa 11:15, 16);
and "the song of Moses"
(Re 15:2, 3)
sung by those who through the Lamb overcome the beast, and so stand on
the sea of glass mingled with fire, emblems of fiery trial, such as
that of Israel at the Red Sea.
16. Ishi . . . no more Baali--"my Husband
. . . no more my Lord." Affection is the
prominent idea in "Husband"; rule, in "Lord." The chief reason
for the substitution of Husband for Lord appears in
namely, Baali, the Hebrew for my Lord, had been
perverted to express the images of Baal, whose name ought not to be
taken on their lips
17. Baalim--plural, expressing the various images of Baal, which,
according to the places of their erection, received various names,
Baal-gad, Baal-ammon, &c.
18. for them--for their benefit.
covenant . . . with the beasts--not to hurt them
They shall fulfil the original law of their creation by becoming subject
to man, when man fulfils the law of his being by being subject to God.
To be realized fully in millennial times
break the bow . . . out of the earth--rather, "out of the land";
that is, I will break and remove war out of the earth
and "out of the land" of Israel first
Eze 39:9, 10;
Zec 9:9, 10).
lie down--A reclining posture is the usual one with Orientals when
not in action.
19, 20. "Betroth" is thrice repeated, implying the intense love
of God to His people; and perhaps, also, the three Persons of the
Triune God, severally engaging to make good the betrothal. The
marriage covenant will be as it were renewed from the beginning, on a
different footing; not for a time only, as before, through the apostasy
of the people, but "forever" through the grace of God writing the law on
their hearts by the Spirit of Messiah
righteousness . . . judgment--in rectitude and truth.
loving-kindness, &c.--Hereby God assures Israel, who might doubt the
possibility of their restoration to His favor; low, sunk, and unworthy
as thou art. I will restore thee from a regard to My own
"loving-kindness," not thy merits.
20. faithfulness--to My new covenant of grace with thee
21. in that day--of grace to Israel.
heavens . . . hear the earth--personification. However
many be the intermediate instruments, God is the Great First Cause of
all nature's phenomena. God had threatened
He would take back His corn, His wine, &c. Here, on the
contrary, God promises to hearken to the skies, as it were,
supplicating Him to fill them with rain to pour on the earth; and that
the skies again would hearken to the earth begging for a supply of the
rain it requires; and again, that the earth would hearken to the corn,
wine, and oil, begging it to bring them forth; and these again would
hear Jezreel, that is, would fulfil Israel's prayers for a supply of
them. Israel is now no longer "Jezreel" in the sense, "God will
but in the sense, "God will PLANT"
23. I will sow her--referring to the meaning of Jezreel