Hosea 7:4
(4) Render, ceaseth heating from the kneading of the dough till its leavening. The baker is unremitting in his exertions to keep up the heat of the oven, the smouldering fire being fed on camel's dung and the like fuel, except when he is obliged to occupy himself with preparing the dough for baking--an apt image of the incessant burning rage of lust and violence.

Verse 4. - The difficulty of the section including vers. 4-7 has occasioned considerable difference of exposition; it may not, therefore, be amiss to supplement the foregoing observations.

1. Aben Ezra accounts for בערה being accented as milel

(1) on the ground that, though a feminine formation, it is really masculine (to agree with תניו), like נחלה and לילה, both of which, though feminine in form, are notwithstanding of the masculine gender. Abarbanel, who is followed by Wunsche,

(2) takes בֹּעָרְה as a participle feminine for בֹּעָרהָ or בֹּעֶרָח, which is justified by the circumstance that the names of fire and of what is connected therewith are feminine in the Semitic, so that חנור is feminine.

2. The word מֵעִיר, which Ewald and others take, properly we think,

(1) as participle of Hiph., is treated

(2) by Genenius and Maurer as infirmitive Qal with rain prefixed, which would occasion the awkward and unusual combination of two infinitives each prefixed with rain in immediate sequence; while

(3) Kimchi takes it as infinitive Hiph. contracted for מֵהֵעִיר.

3. More important still is the interpretation of the verse. There is

(1) that already given, and which is in some measure supported by the following rabbinic comments: "Their evil passion," says Rashi, "which stirs them up, rests from kneading the dough until it is leavened, i.e. from the time that any one has thought on evil in his heart how he shall execute it, he rests and sleeps till the morning, when he shall be able to execute it, as the baker rests from kneading the dough until it is leavened, when he can bake it." Similar and yet somewhat peculiar is the concluding portion of Kimchi's comment: "As soon as he lays the pieces of wood into the oven, in order to heat it, he commands the women to knead, and he ceases to stir them (the women) up until the dough is leavened, as he estimates it in his heart, and then he rouses them to come with the dough to bake it. And this is the time when the oven is heated."

(2) The LXX. takes עיר as a noun prefixed with the preposition rain (ἀπὸ τῆς φλογός), and translates the whole as follows: "They are all adulterers, as an oven glowing from flame for hot-baking, from the kneading of the dough until it is leavened." The interpretation

(3) of Wunsche differs considerably from both the preceding; it is, "They are all adulterers, like an even, burning from a baker, who rests while stoking from the kneading of the dough till its fermentation;" and he cites in favor of this view Aben Ezra as follows: "This verse is inverted, and accordingly the sense is: As the oven of a baker burneth from the kneading of the dough till its fermentation, so that the baker can scarcely cease to stir it up, but must stir it up and heat it violently."

7:1-7 A practical disbelief of God's government was at the bottom of all israel's wickedness; as if God could not see it or did not heed it. Their sins appear on every side of them. Their hearts were inflamed by evil desires, like a heated oven. In the midst of their troubles as a nation, the people never thought of seeking help from God. The actual wickedness of men's lives bears a very small proportion to what is in their hearts. But when lust is inwardly cherished, it will break forth into outward sin. Those who tempt others to drunkenness never can be their real friends, and often design their ruin. Thus men execute the Divine vengeance on each other. Those are not only heated with sin, but hardened in sin, who continue to live without prayer, even when in trouble and distress.They are all adulterers,.... King, princes, priests, and people, both in a spiritual and corporeal sense; they were all idolaters, given to idols try, eager of it, and constant in it, as the following metaphors show; and they were addicted to corporeal adultery; this was a prevailing vice among all ranks and degrees of men. So the Targum,

"they all desire to lie with their neighbours' wives;''

see Jeremiah 5:7;

as an oven heated by the baker; which, if understood of spiritual adultery or idolatry, denotes their eagerness after it, and fervour in it, excited by their king, or by the devil and his instruments, the priests and false prophets; and if of bodily uncleanness, it is expressive of the heat of that lust, which is sometimes signified by burning; and is stirred up by the devil and the corrupt hearts of men to such a degree as to be raised to a flame, and be like a raging fire, or a heated oven; see Romans 1:27;

who ceaseth from raising; that is, the baker, having heated his oven, ceaseth from raising up the women to bring their bread to the bake house; or he ceaseth from waking, or from watching his oven; he lays himself down to sleep, and continues in it:

after he hath kneaded the dough, until it be leavened; having kneaded the dough, and put in the leaven, he lets it alone to work till the whole mass is leavened, taking his rest in the mean while: as the former clause expresses the vehement desire of the people after adultery, spiritual or corporeal, this may signify their continuance in it; or rather the wilful negligence of the king, priests, and prophets, who, instead of awaking them out of their sleep on a bed of adultery, let them alone in it, until they were all infected with it.

Hosea 7:3
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