Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at sacred-texts.com
To confirm the certainty of this most joyful turn of events, the promise closes with the summons in Hosea 2;Hos 1:1-11 : "Say ye to your brethren: My people; and to your sisters, Favoured." The prophet "sees the favoured nation of the Lord (in spirit) before him, and calls upon its members to accost one another joyfully with the new name which had been given to them by God" (Hengstenberg). The promise attaches itself in form to the names of the children of the prophet. As their names of ill omen proclaimed the judgment of rejection, so is the salvation which awaits the nation in the future announced to it here by a simple alteration of the names into their opposite through the omission of the לא.
So far as the fulfilment of this prophecy is concerned, the fact that the patriarchal promise of the innumerable multiplication of Israel is to be realized through the pardon and restoration of Israel, as the nation of the living God, shows clearly enough that we are not to look for this in the return of the ten tribes from captivity to Palestine, their native land. Even apart from the fact, that the historical books of the Bible (Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther) simply mention the return of a portion of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, along with the priests and Levites, under Zerubbabel and Ezra, and that the numbers of the ten tribes, who may have attached themselves to the Judaeans on their return, or who returned to Galilee afterwards as years rolled by, formed but a very small fraction of the number that had been carried away (compare the remarks on Kg2 17:24); the attachment of these few to Judah could not properly be called a union of the sons of Israel and of the sons of Judah, and still less was it a fulfilment of the word, "They appoint themselves one head." As the union of Israel with Judah is to be effected through their gathering together under one head, under Jehovah their God and under David their king, this fulfilment falls within the Messianic times, and hitherto has only been realized in very small beginnings, which furnish a pledge of their complete fulfilment in the last times, when the hardening of Israel will cease, and all Israel be converted to Christ (Rom 11:25-26). It is by no means difficult to bring the application, which is made of our prophecy in Pe1 2:10 and Rom 9:25-26, into harmony with this. When Peter quotes the words of this prophecy in his first epistle, which nearly all modern commentators justly suppose to have been written to Gentile Christians, and when Paul quotes the very same words (Hos 2:1, with Hos 1:10) as proofs of the calling of the Gentiles to be the children of God in Christ; this is not merely an application to the Gentiles of what is affirmed of Israel, or simply the clothing of their thoughts in Old Testament words, as Huther and Wiesinger suppose, but an argument based upon the fundamental thought of this prophecy. Through its apostasy from God, Israel had become like the Gentiles, and had fallen from the covenant of grace with the Lord. Consequently, the re-adoption of the Israelites as children of God was a practical proof that God had also adopted the Gentile world as His children. "Because God had promised to adopt the children of Israel again, He must adopt the Gentiles also. Otherwise this resolution would rest upon mere caprice, which cannot be thought of in God" (Hengstenberg). Moreover, although membership in the nation of the Old Testament covenant rested primarily upon lineal descent, it was by no means exclusively confined to this; but, from the very first, Gentiles also were received into the citizenship of Israel and the congregation of Jehovah through the rite of circumcision, and could even participate in the covenant mercies, namely, in the passover as a covenant meal (Exo 12:14). There was in this an indirect practical prophecy of the eventual reception of the whole of the Gentile world into the kingdom of God, when it should attain through Christ to faith in the living God. Even through their adoption into the congregation of Jehovah by means of circumcision, believing Gentiles were exalted into children of Abraham, and received a share in the promises made to the fathers. And accordingly the innumerable multiplication of the children of Israel, predicted in Rom 9:10, is not to be restricted to the actual multiplication of the descendants of the Israelites now banished into exile; but the fulfilment of the promise must also include the incorporation of believing Gentiles into the congregation of the Lord (Isa 44:5). This incorporation commenced with the preaching of the gospel among the Gentiles by the apostles; it has continued through all the centuries in which the church has been spreading in the world; and it will receive its final accomplishment when the fulness of the Gentiles shall enter into the kingdom of God. And as the number of the children of Israel is thus continually increased, this multiplication will be complete when the descendants of the children of Israel, who are still hardened in their hearts, shall turn to Jesus Christ as their Messiah and Redeemer (Rom 11:25-26).
What the prophet announced in Hosea 1:2-2:1, partly by a symbolical act, and partly also in a direct address, is carried out still further in the section before us. The close connection between the contents of the two sections is formally indicated by the simple fact, that just as the first section closed with a summons to appropriate the predicted salvation, so the section before us commences with a call to conversion. As Rckert aptly says, "The significant pair give place to the thing signified; Israel itself appears as the adulterous woman." The Lord Himself will set bounds to her adulterous conduct, i.e., to the idolatry of the Israelites. By withdrawing the blessings which they have hitherto enjoyed, and which they fancy that they have received from their idols, He will lead the idolatrous nation to reflection and conversion, and pour the fulness of the blessings of His grace in the most copious measure upon those who have been humbled and improved by the punishment. The threatening and the announcement of punishment extend from Hos 2:2 to Hos 2:13; the proclamation of salvation commences with Hos 2:14, and reaches to the close of Hos 2:23. The threatening of punishment is divided into two strophes, viz., Hos 2:2-7 and Hos 2:8-13. In the first, the condemnation of their sinful conduct is the most prominent; in the second, the punishment is more fully developed.
"Reason with your mother, reason! for she is not my wife, and I am not her husband: that she put away her whoredom from her countenance, and her adultery from between her breasts." Jehovah is the speaker, and the command to get rid of the whoredom is addressed to the Israelites, who are represented as the children of the adulterous wife. The distinction between mother and children forms part of the figurative drapery of the thought; for, in fact, the mother had no existence apart from the children. The nation or kingdom, regarded as an ideal unity, is called the mother; whereas the several members of the nation are the children of this mother. The summons addressed to the children to contend or reason with this mother, that she may give up her adultery, presupposes that, although the nation regarded as a whole was sunken in idolatry, the individual members of it were not all equally slaves to it, so as to have lost their susceptibility for the divine warning, or the possibility of conversion. Not only had the Lord reserved to Himself seven thousand in Elijah's time who had not bowed their knees to Baal, but at all times there were many individuals in the midst of the corrupt mass, who hearkened to the voice of the Lord and abhorred idolatry. The children had reason to plead, because the mother was no longer the wife of Jehovah, and Jehovah was no longer her husband, i.e., because she had dissolved her marriage with the Lord; and the inward, moral dissolution of the covenant of grace would be inevitably followed by the outward, actual dissolution, viz., by the rejection of the nation. It was therefore the duty of the better-minded of the nation to ward off the coming destruction, and do all they could to bring the adulterous wife to desist from her sins. The object of the pleading is introduced with ותסר. The idolatry is described as whoredom and adultery. Whoredom becomes adultery when it is a wife who commits whoredom. Israel had entered into the covenant with Jehovah its God; and therefore its idolatry became a breach of the fidelity which it owed to its God, an act of apostasy from God, which was more culpable than the idolatry of the heathen. The whoredom is attributed to the face, the adultery to the breasts, because it is in these parts of the body that the want of chastity on the part of a woman is openly manifested, and in order to depict more plainly the boldness and shamelessness with which Israel practised idolatry.
The summons to repent is enforced by a reference to the punishment. Hos 2:3. "Lest I strip her naked, and put her as in the day of her birth, and set her like the desert, and make her like a barren land, and let her die with thirst." In the first hemistich the threat of punishment corresponds to the figurative representation of the adulteress; in the second it proceeds from the figure to the fact. In the marriage referred to, the husband had redeemed the wife out of the deepest misery, to unite himself with her. Compare Eze 16:4., where the nation is represented as a naked child covered with filth, which the Lord took to Himself, covering its nakedness with beautiful clothes and costly ornaments, and entering into covenant with it. These gifts, with which the Lord also presented and adorned His wife during the marriage, He would now take away from the apostate wife, and put her once more into a state of nakedness. The day of the wife's birth is the time of Israel's oppression and bondage in Egypt, when it was given up in helplessness to its oppressors. The deliverance out of this bondage was the time of the divine courtship; and the conclusion of the covenant with the nation that had been brought out of Egypt, the time of the marriage. The words, "I set (make) her like the desert," are to be understood as referring not to the land of Israel, which was to be laid waste, but to the nation itself, which was to become like the desert, i.e., to be brought into a state in which it would be destitute of the food that is indispensable to the maintenance of life. The dry land is a land without water, in which men perish from thirst. There is hardly any need to say that these words to not refer to the sojourn of Israel in the Arabian desert; for there the Lord fed His people with manna from heaven, and gave them water to drink out of the rock.
"And I will not have compassion upon her children, for they are children of whoredom." This verse is also dependent, so far as the meaning is concerned, upon the pen (lest) in Hos 2:3; but in form it constitutes an independent sentence. Benē zenūnı̄m (sons of whoredoms) refers back to yaldē zenūnı̄m in Hos 1:2. The children are the members of the nation, and are called "sons of whoredom," not merely on account of their origin as begotten in whoredom, but also because they inherit the nature and conduct of their mother. The fact that the children are specially mentioned after and along with the mother, when in reality mother and children are one, serves to give greater keenness to the threat, and guards against that carnal security, in which individuals imagine that, inasmuch as they are free from the sin and guilt of the nation as a whole, they will also be exempted from the threatened punishment.
"For their mother hath committed whoredom; she that bare them hath practised shame: for she said, I will go after my lovers, who give (me) my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink." By kı̄ (for) and the suffixes attached to 'immâm (their mother) and hōrâthâm (that bare them), the first clauses are indeed introduced as though simply explanatory and confirmatory of the last clause of Hos 2:4; but if we look at the train of thought generally, it is obvious that Hos 2:5 is not merely intended to explain the expression sons of whoredom, but to explain and vindicate the main thought, viz., that the children of whoredom, i.e., the idolatrous Israelites, will find no mercy. Now, as the mother and children are identical, if we trace back the figurative drapery to its actual basis, the punishment with which the children are threatened applies to the mother also; and the description of the mother's whoredom serves also to explain the reason for the punishment with which the mother is threatened in Hos 2:3. And this also accounts for the fact that, in the threat which follows in Hos 2:6, "I hedge up thy way," the other herself is again directly addressed. The hiphil hōbhı̄sh, which is traceable to yâbhēsh, so far as the form is concerned, but derives its meaning from בּושׁ, is not used here in its ordinary sense of being put to shame, but in the transitive sense of practising shame, analogous to the transitive meaning "to shame," which we find in Sa2 19:5. To explain this thought, the coquetting with idols is more minutely described in the second hemistich. The delusive idea expressed by the wife (אמרה, in the perfect, indicates speaking or thinking which stretches from the past into the present), viz., that the idols give her food (bread and water), clothing (wool and flax), and the delicacies of life (oil and drink, i.e., wine and must and strong drink), that is to say, "everything that conduces to luxury and superfluity," which we also find expressed in Jer 44:17-18, arose from the sight of the heathen nations round about, who were rich and mighty, and attributed this to their gods. It is impossible, however, that such a thought can ever occur, except in cases where the heart is already estranged from the living God. For so long as a man continues in undisturbed vital fellowship with God, "he sees with the eye of faith the hand in the clouds, from which he receives all, by which he is guided, and on which everything, even that which has apparently the most independence and strength, entirely depends" (Hengstenberg).
"Therefore (because the woman says this), behold, thus will I hedge up thy way with thorns, and wall up a wall, and she shall not find her paths." The hedging up of the way, strengthened by the similar figure of the building of a wall to cut off the way, denotes her transportation into a situation in which she could no longer continue her adultery with the idols. The reference is to distress and tribulation (compare Hos 5:15 with Deu 4:30; Job 3:23; Job 19:8; Lam 3:7), especially the distress and anguish of exile, in which, although Israel was in the midst of idolatrous nations, and therefore had even more outward opportunity to practise idolatry, it learned the worthlessness of all trust in idols, and their utter inability to help, and was thus impelled to reflect and turn to the Lord, who smites and heals (Hos 6:1).
This thought is carried out still further in Hos 2:7 : "And she will pursue her lovers, and not overtake them; and seek them, and not find them: and will say, I will go and return to my first husband, for it was better with me then than now." Distress at first increases their zeal in idolatry, but it soon brings them to see that the idols afford no help. The failure to reach or find the lovers, who are sought with zeal (riddēph, piel in an intensive sense, to pursue eagerly), denotes the failure to secure what is sought from them, viz., the anticipated deliverance from the calamity, which the living God has sent as a punishment. This sad experience awakens the desire to return to the faithful covenant God, and the acknowledgment that prosperity and all good things are to be found in vital fellowship with Him.
The thought that God will fill the idolatrous nation with disgust at its coquetry with strange gods, by taking away all its possessions, and thus putting to shame its delusive fancy that the possessions which it enjoyed really came from the idols, is still further expanded in the second strophe, commencing with the eighth verse. Hos 2:8. "And she knows not that I have given her the corn, and the must, and the oil, and have multiplied silver to her, and gold, which they have used for Baal." Corn, must, and oil are specified with the definite article as being the fruits of the land, which Israel received from year to year. These possessions were the foundation of the nation's wealth, through which gold and silver were multiplied. Ignorance of the fact that Jehovah was the giver of these blessings, was a sin. That Jehovah had given the land to His people, was impressed upon the minds of the people for all time, together with the recollection of the mighty acts of the Lord, by the manner in which Israel had been put in possession of Canaan; and not only had Moses again and again reminded the Israelites most solemnly that it was He who gave rain to the land, and multiplied and blessed its fruitfulness and its fruits (compare, for example, Deu 7:13; Deu 11:14-15), but this was also perpetually called to their remembrance by the law concerning the offering of the first-fruits at the feasts. The words ‛âsū labba‛al are to be taken as a relative clause without 'asher, though not in the sense of "which they have made into Baal," i.e., out of which they have made Baal-images (Chald., Rabb., Hitzig, Ewald, and others); for even though עשׂה ל occurs in this sense in Isa 44:17, the article, which is wanting in Isaiah, and also in Gen 12:2 and Exo 32:10, precludes such an explanation here, apart from the fact that habba‛al cannot stand by itself for a statue of Baal. Here עשׂה ל has rather the general meaning "apply to anything," just as in Ch2 24:7, where it occurs in a perfectly similar train of thought. This use of the word may be obtained from the meaning "to prepare for anything," whereas the meaning "to offer," which Gesenius adopts ("which they have offered to Baal"), is untenable, since עשׂה simply denotes the preparation of the sacrifice for the altar, which is out of the question in the case of silver and gold. They had applied their gold and silver to Baal, however, not merely by using them for the preparation of idols, but by employing them in the maintenance and extension of the worship of Baal, or even by regarding them as gifts of Baal, and thus confirming themselves in the zealous worship of that god. By habba'al we are not simply to understand the Canaanitish or Phoenician Baal in the stricter sense of the word, whose worship Jehu had exterminated from Israel, though not entirely, as is evident from the allusion to an Asherah in Samaria in the reign of Jehoahaz (Kg2 13:6); but Baal is a general expression for all idols, including the golden calves, which are called other gods in Kg1 14:9, and compared to actual idols.
"Therefore will I take back my corn at its time, and my must at its season, and tear away my wool and my flax for the covering of her nakedness." Because Israel had not regarded the blessings it received as gifts of its God, and used them for His glory, the Lord would take them away from it. אשׁוּב ולקחתּי are to be connected, so that אשׁוּב has the force of an adverb, not however in the sense of simple repetition, as it usually does, but with the idea of return, as in Jer 12:15, viz., to take again = to take back. "My corn," etc., is the corn, the must, which I have given. "At its time," i.e., at the time when men expect corn, new wine, etc., viz., at the time of harvest, when men feel quite sure of receiving or possessing it. If God suddenly takes away the gifts then, not only is the loss more painfully felt, but regarded as a punishment far more than when they have been prepared beforehand for a bad harvest by the failure of the crop. Through the manner in which God takes the fruits of the land away from the people, He designs to show them that He, and not Baal, is the giver and the taker also. The words "to cover her nakedness" are not dependent upon הצּלתּי, but belong to צמרי וּפשׁתּי, and are simply a more concise mode of saying, "Such serve, or are meant, to cover her nakedness." They serve to sharpen the threat, by intimating that if God withdraw His gifts, the nation will be left in utter penury and ignominious nakedness (‛ervâh, pudendum).
"And now will I uncover her shame before her lovers, and no one shall tear her out of my hand." The ἅπ. λεγ. נבלוּה, lit., a withered state, from נבל, to be withered or faded, probably denotes, as Hengstenberg says, corpus multa stupra passum, and is rendered freely in the lxx by ἀκαθαρσία. "Before the eyes of the lovers," i.e., not so that they shall be obliged to look at it, without being able to avoid it, but so that the woman shall become even to them an object of abhorrence, from which they will turn away (comp. Nah 3:5; Jer 13:26). In this concrete form the general truth is expressed, that "whoever forsakes God for the world, will be put to shame by God before the world itself; and that all the more, the nearer it stood to Him before" (Hengstenberg). By the addition of the words "no one," etc., all hope is cut off that the threatened punishment can be averted (cf. Hos 5:14).
This punishment is more minutely defined in Hos 2:11-13, in which the figurative drapery is thrown into the background by the actual fact. Hos 2:11. "And I make all her joy keep holiday (i.e., cease), her feast, and her new moon, and her sabbath, and all her festive time." The feast days and festive times were days of joy, in which Israel was to rejoice before the Lord its God. To bring into prominence this character of the feasts, כּל־משׂושׂהּ, "all her joy," is placed first, and the different festivals are mentioned afterwards. Châg stands for the three principal festivals of the year, the Passover, Pentecost, and the feast of Tabernacles, which had the character of châg, i.e., of feasts of joy par excellence, as being days of commemoration of the great acts of mercy which the Lord performed on behalf of His people. Then came the day of the new moon every month, and the Sabbath every week. Finally, these feasts are all summed up in כּל־מועדהּ; for מועד, מועדים is the general expression for all festive seasons and festive days (Lev 23:2, Lev 23:4). As a parallel, so far as the facts are concerned, comp. Amo 8:10; Jer 7:34, and Lam 1:4; Lam 5:15.
The Lord will put an end to the festive rejoicing, by taking away the fruits of the land, which rejoice man's heart. Hos 2:12. "And I lay waste her vine and her fig-tree, of which she said, They are lovers' wages to me, which my lovers gave me; and I make them a forest, and the beasts of the field devour them." Vine and fig-tree, the choicest productions of the land of Canaan, are mentioned as the representatives of the rich means of sustenance with which the Lord had blessed His people (cf. Kg1 5:5; Joe 2:22, etc.). The devastation of both of these denotes the withdrawal of the possessions and enjoyments of life (cf. Jer 5:17; Joe 1:7, Joe 1:12), because Israel regarded them as a present from its idols. עתנה, softened down from אתנן (Hos 9:1), like שׁריה, in Job 41:18, from שׁרין (Kg1 22:34; cf. Ewald, 163, h), signifies the wages of prostitution (Deu 23:19). The derivation is disputed and uncertain, since the verb תּנה cannot be shown to have been used either in Hebrew or the other Semitic dialects in the sense of dedit, dona porrexit (Ges.), and the word cannot be traced to תּנן, to extend; whilst, on the other hand, the תּנה, התנה (Hos 8:9-10) is most probably a denominative of אתנה. Consequently, Hengstenberg supposes it to be a bad word formed out of the question put by the prostitute, מה תתּן לי, and the answer given by the man, אתן לך (Gen 38:16, Gen 38:18), and used in the language of the brothel in connection with an evil deed. The vineyards and fig-orchards, so carefully hedged about and cultivated, are to be turned into a forest, i.e., to be deprived of their hedges and cultivation, so that the wild beasts may be able to devour them. The suffixes attached to שׂמתּים and אכלתם refer to גּפן וּתאנה (the vine and fig-tree), and not merely to the fruit. Comp. Isa 7:23. and Mic 3:12, where a similar figure is used to denote the complete devastation of the land.
In this way will the Lord take away from the people their festivals of joy. Hos 2:13. "And I visit upon her the days of the Baals, to which she burned incense, and adorned herself with her ring and her jewels, and went after her lovers; and she hath forgotten me, is the word of Jehovah." The days of the Baals are the sacred days and festive seasons mentioned in Hos 2:13, which Israel ought to have sanctified and kept to the Lord its God, but which it celebrated in honour of the Baals, through its fall into idolatry. There is no ground for thinking of special feast-days dedicated to Baal, in addition to the feasts of Jehovah prescribed by the law. Just as Israel had changed Jehovah into Baal, so had it also turned the feast-days of Jehovah into festive days of the Baals, and on those days had burned incense, i.e., offered sacrifice to the Baals (cf. Hos 4:13; Kg2 17:11). In Hos 2:8 we find only הבעל mentioned, but here בּעלים in the plural, because Baal was worshipped under different modifications, from which Beâlı̄m came to be used in the general sense of the various idols of the Canaanites (cf. Jdg 2:11; Kg1 18:18, etc.). In the second hemistich this spiritual coquetry with the idols is depicted under the figure of the outward coquetry of a woman, who resorts to all kinds of outward ornaments in order to excite the admiration of her lovers (as in Jer 4:30 and Ezek. 22:40ff.). There is no ground for thinking of the wearing of nose-rings and ornaments in honour of the idols. The antithesis to this adorning of themselves is "forgetting Jehovah," in which the sin is brought out in its true shape. On נאם יהוה, see Delitzsch on Isa 1:24.
In Hos 2:14 the promise is introduced quite as abruptly as in Hos 2:1, that the Lord will lead back the rebellious nation step by step to conversion and reunion with Himself, the righteous God. In two strophes we have first the promise of their conversion (Hos 2:14-17), and secondly, the assurance of the renewal of the covenant mercies (Hos 2:18-23). Hos 2:14, Hos 2:15. "Therefore, behold, I allure her, and lead her into the desert, and speak to her heart. And I give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor (of tribulation) for the door of hope; and she answers thither, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt." לכן, therefore (not utique, profecto, but, nevertheless, which lâkhēn in Hos 2:6 and Hos 2:9, and is connected primarily with the last clause of Hos 2:13. "Because the wife has forgotten God, He calls Himself to her remembrance again, first of all by punishment (Hos 2:6 and Hos 2:9); then, when this has answered its purpose, and after she has said, I will go and return (Hos 2:7), by the manifestations of His love" (Hengstenberg). That the first clause of Hos 2:14 does not refer to the flight of the people out of Canaan into the desert, for the purpose of escaping from their foes, as Hitzig supposes, is sufficiently obvious to need no special proof. The alluring of the nation into the desert to lead it thence to Canaan, presupposes that rejection from the inheritance given to it by the Lord (viz., Canaan), which Israel had brought upon itself through its apostasy. This rejection is represented as an expulsion from Canaan to Egypt, the land of bondage, out of which Jehovah had redeemed it in the olden time. פּתה, in the piel to persuade, to decoy by words; here sensu bono, to allure by friendly words. The desert into which the Lord will lead His people cannot be any other than the desert of Arabia, through which the road from Egypt to Canaan passes. Leading into this desert is not a punishment, but a redemption out of bondage. The people are not to remain in the desert, but to be enticed and led through it to Canaan, the land of vineyards. The description is typical throughout. What took place in the olden time is to be repeated, in all that is essential, in the time to come. Egypt, the Arabian desert, and Canaan are types. Egypt is a type of the land of captivity, in which Israel had been oppressed in its fathers by the heathen power of the world. The Arabian desert, as the intervening stage between Egypt and Canaan, is introduced here, in accordance with the importance which attached to the march of Israel through this desert under the guidance of Moses, as a period or state of probation and trial, as described in Deu 8:2-6, in which the Lord humbled His people, training it on the one hand by want and privation to the knowledge of its need of help, and on the other hand by miraculous deliverance in the time of need (e.g., the manna, the stream of water, and the preservation of their clothing) to trust to His omnipotence, that He might awaken within it a heartfelt love to the fulfilment of His commandments and a faithful attachment to Himself. Canaan, the land promised to the fathers as an everlasting possession, with its costly productions, is a type of the inheritance bestowed by the Lord upon His church, and of blessedness in the enjoyment of the gifts of the Lord which refresh both body and soul. דּבּר על לב, to speak to the heart, as applied to loving, comforting words (Gen 34:3; Gen 50:21, etc.), is not to be restricted to the comforting addresses of the prophets, but denotes a comforting by action, by manifestations of love, by which her grief is mitigated, and the broken heart is healed. The same love is shown in the renewed gifts of the possessions of which the unfaithful nation had been deprived.
In this way we obtain a close link of connection for Hos 2:15. By משּׁם ... נתתּי, "I give from thence," i.e., from the desert onwards, the thought is expressed, that on entering the promised land Israel would be put into immediate possession and enjoyment of its rich blessings. Manger has correctly explained משּׁם as meaning "as soon as it shall have left this desert," or better still, "as soon as it shall have reached the border." "Its vineyards" are the vineyards which it formerly possessed, and which rightfully belonged to the faithful wife, though they had been withdrawn from the unfaithful (Hos 2:12). The valley of Achor, which was situated to the north of Gilgal and Jericho (see at Jos 7:26), is mentioned by the prophet, not because of its situation on the border of Palestine, nor on account of its fruitfulness, of which nothing is known, but with an evident allusion to the occurrence described in Joshua 7, from which it obtained its name of ‛Akhōr, Troubling. This is obvious from the declaration that this valley shall become a door of hope. Through the sin of Achan, who took some of the spoil of Jericho which had been devoted by the ban to the Lord, Israel had fallen under the ban, so that the Lord withdrew His help, and the army that marched against Ai was defeated. But in answer to the prayer of Joshua and the elders, God showed to Joshua not only the cause of the calamity which had befallen the whole nation, but the means of escaping from the ban and recovering the lost favour of God. Through the name Achor this valley became a memorial, how the Lord restores His favour to the church after the expiation of the guilt by the punishment of the transgressor. And this divine mode of procedure will be repeated in all its essential characteristics. The Lord will make the valley of troubling a door of hope, i.e., He will so expiate the sins of His church, and cover them with His grace, that the covenant of fellowship with Him will no more be rent asunder by them; or He will so display His grace to the sinners, that compassion will manifest itself even in wrath, and through judgment and mercy the pardoned sinners will be more and more firmly and inwardly united to Him. And the church will respond to this movement on the part of the love of God, which reveals itself in justice and mercy. It will answer to the place, whence the Lord comes to meet it with the fulness of His saving blessings. ענה does not mean "to sing," but "to answer;" and שׁמּה, pointing back to משּׁם, must not be regarded as equivalent to שׁם. As the comforting address of the Lord is a sermo realis, so the answer of the church is a practical response of grateful acknowledgment and acceptance of the manifestations of divine love, just as was the case in the days of the nation's youth, i.e., in the time when it was led up from Egypt to Canaan. Israel then answered the Lord, after its redemption from Egypt, by the song of praise and thanksgiving at the Red Sea (Exodus 15), and by its willingness to conclude the covenant with the Lord at Sinai, and to keep His commandments (Exodus 24).
"And it comes to pass in that day, is the saying of Jehovah, thou wilt call, My husband; and thou wilt no more call to me, My Baal." The church will then enter once more into the right relation to its God. This thought is expressed thus, that the wife will no more call her husband Baal, but husband. Ba‛al is not to be taken as an appellative in the sense of master, as distinguished from 'ı̄sh, man, i.e., husband, for ba'al does not mean master or lord, but owner, possessor; and whenever it is applied to a husband in an appellative sense, it is used quite promiscuously with 'iish (e.g., Sa2 11:26; Gen 20:3). Moreover, the context in this instance, especially the Be‛âlı̄m in Hos 2:19, decidedly requires that Ba‛al should be taken as a proper name. Calling or naming is a designation of the nature or the true relation of a person or thing. The church calls God her husband, when she stands in the right relation to Him; when she acknowledges, reveres, and loves Him, as He has revealed Himself, i.e., as the only true God. On the other hand, she calls Him Baal, when she places the true God on the level of the Baals, either by worshipping other gods along with Jehovah, or by obliterating the essential distinction between Jehovah and the Baals, confounding together the worship of God and idolatrous worship, the Jehovah-religion and heathenism.
"And I put away the names of the Baals out of her mouth, and they are no more remembered by their name." As soon as the nation ceases to call Jehovah Baal, the custom of taking the names of the Baals into its mouth ceases of itself. And when this also is mentioned here as the work of God, the thought is thereby expressed, that the abolition of polytheism and mixed religion is a work of that divine grace which renews the heart, and fills with such abhorrence of the coarser or more refined forms of idolatry, that men no longer dare to take the names of the idols into their lips. This divine promise rests upon the command in Exo 23:13, "Ye shall make no mention of the names of other gods," and is repeated almost word for word in Zac 13:2.
With the complete abolition of idolatry and false religion, the church of the Lord will attain to the enjoyment of undisturbed peace. Hos 2:18. "And I make a covenant for them in that day with the beasts of the field, and the fowls of heaven, and the moving creatures of the earth: and I break in pieces bow, and sword, and battle out of the land, and cause them to dwell securely." God makes a covenant with the beasts, when He imposes the obligation upon them to hurt men no more. "For them:" lâhem is a dat. comm., for the good of the favoured ones. The three classes of beasts that are dangerous to men, are mentioned here, as in Gen 9:2. "Beasts of the field," as distinguished from the same domestic animals (behēmâh), are beasts that live in freedom in the fields, either wild beasts, or game that devours or injures the fruits of the field. By the "fowls of heaven," we are to understand chiefly the birds of prey. Remes does not mean reptiles, but that which is active, the smaller animals of the land which move about with velocity. The breaking in pieces of the weapons of war and of battle out of the land, is a pregnant expression for the extinction not only of the instruments of war, but also of war itself, and their extermination from the land. Milchâmâh, war, is connected with shâbhar per zeugma. This promise rests upon Lev 26:3., and is still further expanded in Eze 34:25. (Compare the parallels in Isa 2:4, Isa 2:11; Isa 35:9, and Zac 9:10.)
"And I betroth thee to myself for ever; and I betroth thee to myself in righteousness, and judgment, and in grace and pity. Hos 2:20. And I betroth thee to myself in faithfulness; and thou acknowledgest Jehovah." ארשׂ לו, to betroth to one's self, to woo, is only applied to the wooing of a maiden, not to the restoration of a wife who has been divorced, and is generally distinguished from the taking of a wife (Deu 20:7). ארשׂתּיך therefore points, as Calvin observes, to an entirely new marriage. "It was indeed great grace for the unfaithful wife to be taken back again. She might in justice have been put away for ever. The only valid ground for divorce was there, since she had lived for years in adultery. But the grace of God goes further still. The past is not only forgiven, but it is also forgotten" (Hengstenberg). The Lord will now make a new covenant of marriage with His church, such as is made with a spotless virgin. This new and altogether unexpected grace He now directly announces to her: "I betroth thee to myself;" and repeats this promise three times in ever fresh terms, expressive of the indissoluble character of the new relation. This is involved in לעולם, "for ever," whereas the former covenant had been broken and dissolved by the wife's own guilt. In the clauses which follow, we have a description of the attributes which God would thereby unfold in order to render the covenant indissoluble. These are, (1) righteousness and judgment; (2) grace and compassion; (3) faithfulness. Tsedeq = tsedâqâh and mishpât are frequently connected. Tsedeq, "being right," denotes subjective righteousness as an attribute of God or man; and mishpât, objective right, whether in its judicial execution as judgment, or in its existence in actual fact. God betroths His church to Himself in righteousness and judgment, not by doing her justice, and faithfully fulfilling the obligations which He undertook at the conclusion of the covenant (Hengstenberg), but by purifying her, through the medium of just judgment, from all the unholiness and ungodliness that adhere to her still (Isa 1:27), that He may wipe out everything that can injure the covenant on the part of the church. But with the existing sinfulness of human nature, justice and judgment will not suffice to secure the lasting continuance of the covenant; and therefore God also promises to show mercy and compassion. But as even the love and compassion of God have their limits, the Lord still further adds, "in faithfulness or constancy," and thereby gives the promise that He will not more withdraw His mercy from her. בּאמוּנה is also to be understood of the faithfulness of God, as in Psa 89:25, not of that of man (Hengstenberg). This is required by the parallelism of the sentences. In the faithfulness of God the church has a certain pledge, that the covenant founded upon righteousness and judgment, mercy and compassion, will stand for ever. The consequence of this union is, that the church knows Jehovah. This knowledge is "real." "He who knows God in this way, cannot fail to love Him, and be faithful to Him" (Hengstenberg); for out of this covenant there flows unconquerable salvation.
"And it comes to pass in that day, I will hear, is the word of Jehovah; I will hear heaven, and it hears the earth. And the earth will hear the corn, and the new wine, and the oil; and they will hear Jezreel (God sows)." God will hear all the prayers that ascend to Him from His church (the first אענה is to be taken absolutely; compare the parallel in Isa 58:9), and cause all the blessings of heaven and earth to flow down to His favoured people. By a prosopopeia, the prophet represents the heaven as praying to God, to allow it to give to the earth that which is requisite to ensure its fertility; whereupon the heaven fulfils the desires of the earth, and the earth yields its produce to the nation.
(Note: As Umbreit observes, "It is as though we heard the exalted harmonies of the connected powers of creation, sending forth their notes as they are sustained and moved by the eternal key-note of the creative and moulding Spirit.")
In this way the thought is embodied, that all things in heaven and on earth depend on God; "so that without His bidding not a drop of rain falls from heaven, and the earth produces no germ, and consequently all nature would at length be barren, unless He gave it fertility by His blessing" (Calvin). The promise rests upon Deu 28:12, and forms the antithesis to the threat in Lev 26:19 and Deu 28:23-24, that God will make the heavens as brass, and the earth as iron, to those who despise His name. In the last clause the prophecy returns to its starting-point with the words, "Hear Jezreel." The blessing which flows down from heaven to earth flows to Jezreel, the nation which "God sows." The name Jezreel, which symbolizes the judgment about to burst upon the kingdom of Israel, according to the historical signification of the name in Hos 1:4, Hos 1:11, is used here in the primary sense of the word, to denote the nation as pardoned and reunited to its God.
This is evident from the explanation given in Hos 2:23 : "And I sow her for myself in the land, and favour Unfavoured, and say to Not-my-people, Thou art my people; and it says to me, My God." זרע does not mean "to strew," or scatter (not even in Zac 10:9; cf. Koehler on the passage), but simply "to sow." The feminine suffix to זרעתּיה refers, ad sensum, to the wife whom God has betrothed to Himself for ever, i.e., to the favoured church of Israel, which is now to become a true Jezreel, as a rich sowing on the part of God. With this turn in the guidance of Israel, the ominous names of the other children of the prophet's marriage will also be changed into their opposite, to show that mercy and the restoration of vital fellowship with the Lord will now take the place of judgment, and of the rejection of the idolatrous nation. With regard to the fulfilment of the promise, the remarks made upon this point at Hos 1:11 and Hos 2:1 (pp. 33, 34), are applicable here, since this section is simply a further expansion of the preceding one.