Hosea 13:1

(1) There is a difference of opinion as to the construction and rendering of this verse. We adopt the interpretation, When Ephraim uttered terror, he rebelled in Israel; then he committed sin through Baal, and died. This points to the revolt of the Ten Tribes, and the consequent abandonment of the pure traditions of Jehovah worship for those of Baal. This idea and that of the previous verse (Hosea 12:14) may have been brought into prominence by the recent untoward antagonism aroused by the Syro-Ephraimitish war against Judah.

Verse 1. - When Ephraim spake trembling, he exalted himself in Israel. This rendering of the Authorized Version

(1) is supported by the Syriac, which is: "When Ephraim spake trembling, then he was, and was great in Israel." Rashi has a similar rendering of the word retheth, which is an ἅπαξ λεγόμενον, and causes the diversity of translation in this clause; but his exposition of the whole sentence is vague and unsatisfactory. Referring it to Jeroboam of the tribe of Ephraim, he explains as follows: "When Jeroboam, zealous for God, spoke against Solomon hard words, and with terror, Solomon was a great king." Pococke's exposition is in harmony with the Authorized Version, and is the following: "When Ephraim spake with fear and trembling (like his forefather Jacob, in his humble supplication to God), he exalted himself in Israel." But

(2) the rendering adopted by most moderns, is decidedly preferable, as agreeing better with the context, and much more in bar-runny with tribal characteristics of Ephraim, as intimated in this very book, and exhibited elsewhere. The translation we thus prefer is: "When Ephraim spake, there was trembling; he, even he, exalted himself in Israel." Such was the fear inspired, and the deference paid to the authority of that powerful tribe. The word reheth, though not found elsewhere, has a cognate root in Aramaic, with the meaning here assigned to it; for רתת is to fear, shudder, tremble; there is also, in Jeremiah 49:24, the word רֶטֶט, equivalent to "fear," similar in both sense and sound. The Chaldee supports this rendering; its paraphrase is: "When one of the house of Ephraim spake, trembling seized the peoples." Also Aben Ezra and Kimchi. The former's brief comment is: "Before his speaking the peoples were afraid; and the word רתת has no analogue except in the Aramaic." Kimchi's explanation is, "From the beginning, before Ephraim sinned, the fear of him was great over the peoples who surrounded him; for when he spake, fear and trembling were wont to seize him who heard him; and he was great and strong among the tribes of Israel, as it was said of him, ' And his seed shall be a multitude of nations.'"

(3) The LXX. renders reheth by δικαιώματα, thus:" According to the word of Ephraim, be adopted ordinances for himself in Israel," that is, when Ephraim spoke, the rest of the Israelites assented to his ordinances and rights, reverencing his authority, so that the general sense differs little from the Chaldee.

(4) Rosenmüller constructs and explains differently; his exposition runs somehow thus: "When Ephraim spake, instituting that horrible worship of the calves, he himself bore the sin of that horrible dictum, i.e. was guilty of, and bore its punishment." This explanation of נשא is farfetched and unnatural. We have no hesitation in preferring "lifted up," i.e. his head, or exalted himself, for, though it is usually the Hithp. that is employed in this sense, examples also occur in which Qal is so used, for example Psalm 89:10 and Nahum 1:5. Kimchi supplies rosho. We adhere, therefore, to the rendering and exposition of

(2). But when he offended in Baal, he died. This was not merely the calf-worship which, for political reasons, Jeroboam instituted and his successors retained, but the worship of Baal for which, no doubt, the calf-worship had prepared the way, and which had been introduced by Ahab at the instigation of his Sidonian queen. And though the people were partially and temporarily reformed through the efforts of Elijah the prophet and by the royal authority of Jehu, son of Nimshi, the evil was not eradicated, but frequently broke out again. The exaltation of Ephraim was not so much his distinction among his brethren as the governmental predominance at which that tribe ever aimed. That elevation, however, was soon followed by religious declension, culminating in the idolatry of Baal, which soon sealed the doom of the northern kingdom, thenceforth given up to destruction. The sentence of death was pronounced, and the actual dying commenced with the introduction of idolatrous worship. Thus, correctly, Kimchi: "He lifted up his head in Israel. And after he offended in Baal he died, as if he said, he was beaten before his enemies, as if he were dead, the power of his hand had departed."

13:1-8 While Ephraim kept up a holy fear of God, and worshipped Him in that fear, so long he was very considerable. When Ephraim forsook God, and followed idolatry, he sunk. Let the men that sacrifice kiss the calves, in token of their adoration of them, affection for them, and obedience to them; but the Lord will not give his glory to another, and therefore all that worship images shall be confounded. No solid, lasting comfort, is to be expected any where but in God. God not only took care of the Israelites in the wilderness, he put them in possession of Canaan, a good land; but worldly prosperity, when it feeds men's pride, makes them forgetful of God. Therefore the Lord would meet them in just vengeance, as the most terrible beast that inhabited their forests. Abused goodness calls for greater severity.When Ephraim spake trembling, he exalted himself in Israel,.... Or, with trembling, as Jarchi: so Jeroboam, who was of the tribe of Ephraim, spake before Solomon, a great king, as he observes. R. Moses the priest interprets it of Jeroboam; but it may be understood of the tribe in general, and especially of the heads of it, at anytime before it fell into idolatry; when they spake with submission and humility, they were attended to by the other tribes in all consultations and debates, and great deference was paid unto them; and they were find in great esteem, and highly honoured, agreeably to that common saving of our Lord, "he that humbleth himself shall be exalted", Luke 14:11; or, "when he spake there was trembling" (q); either the neighbouring nations, when he threatened them with war: or among the other tribes of Israel, when he spake in counsel, and with authority, they rose up and heard him with great reverence and respect; see Job 29:8. So the Targum,

"when anyone of the house of Ephraim spake, trembling laid hold on the people; they became princes in Israel.''

Some refer this to the times of Joshua, who was of that tribe, and whom the Israelites feared as they had feared Moses, Joshua 4:14; others to the times of Gideon and Jephthah, with whom the tribe of Ephraim expostulated, Judges 8:1; but others interpret it of Jeroboam's idolatry, of his setting up the worship of the calves, which he did upon his exalting himself, and setting himself up as king of the ten tribes; and, in some agreement with this, Schmidt understands, by "trembling", a terrible and horrible thing, idolatry, which he commanded and appointed; and which he "bore" or "carried", as the word (r) is interpreted by him, and may be; that is, his sin, and the punishment of it, which Jeroboam and his posterity did bear; and so it agrees with what follows:

but, or "and",

when he offended in Baal, he died; or when he sinned, and became guilty of more idolatry still, by worshipping Baal, as well as the calves, which was done in the times of Ahab, 1 Kings 16:31; when Ephraim or the kingdom or Israel fell into distresses and calamities, sunk in their grandeur and authority, declined in their wealth and riches, and were insulted by their enemies, particularly by Benhadad king of Syria, who sent to Ahab, and challenged his silver and gold, his wives and children, as his own, 1 Kings 20:3; and so they gradually decreased in credit and reputation, in power and authority, in wealth and substance, and at last were delivered to the sword of the enemy, and to captivity, which was their civil death.

(q) "quum loqueretur--tremor erat", Pagninus, Vatablus; "terror erat", Zanchius, Drusius. (r) "portavit ipse, sub. iniquitatem suam", Schmidt.

Hosea 12:14
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