Hosea 8:9
(9) Gone up to Assyria.--The word thus translated is elsewhere used for "going up" to the sanctuary of the Lord. (See Note on Hosea 7:11.) Wild ass is the image of untamed waywardness (Job 39:5, sea.) it is described by Wetzstein as inhabiting the steppes, a creature of dirty yellow colour, with long ears and no horns, and a head resembling a gazelle's. Its pace is so swift that no huntsman can overtake it. It is seldom seen alone, but in herds of several hundreds. From Jeremiah 2:24 we infer that the animal wanders alone after the object of its lust. Israel, like a solitary wild ass, seeks strange loves, courts strange alliances. On the last clause, see Ezekiel 16:32-34. Ephraim pays abnormally for her own shame.

Verse 9. - For they are gone up to Assyria, a wild ass alone by himself: Ephraim hath hired lovers. All their misery and misfortune they have brought upon themselves. They have prepared this fate for themselves, and made themselves meet for their fate. The second clause is correctly rendered, a wild ass goes alone by itself; and this clause is an independent statement - not connected by n- of comparison either with the clause preceding nor with the succeeding one. Instead of saying that Epraim, that is, Israel, went up to Assyria like a stubborn wild ass alone by itself, or that like a wild ass going alone Ephraim hired (sued for) lovers, the statement stands independent and in a measure detached, the meaning being that even a wild ass, stupid and stubborn as that animal is, keeps by itself to secure its independence. The conduct of Israel, however, appears to disadvantage in contrast with that of a stupid wild ass; it is more stupid and senseless; their folly is seen by the comparison: it maintained its independence by going alone, Ephraim lost independence by soliciting help from heathen allies. What, then, was the object to the attainment of which this foolish conduct was directed? In other words, why did Israel go on this stupid mission to Assyria? What did they seek to gain by it? The third clause contains the answer: they sought help and succor from the Assyrians. Thus the first clause, giving a reason for their calamity, shows it was self-procured by Ephraim going up to Assyria; the second clause exposes the folly of such conduct in seeking prohibited and pernicious foreign alliances; the third clause specifies the precise object of Ephraim's sinful and foolish mission, namely, the procuring of succor from Assyria. The above explanation,

(1) which is in substance Keil's, and which is a contrast between the independence of the wild ass and Ephraim's servile suing for foreign help, is, we think, simpler and more correct than

(2) the common one, which is a comparison of the willfulness, waywardness, and wantonness of the wild ass roaming solitarily by itself with Ephraim's willful waywardness in going up to Assyria for succor, and wantonness in suing for idolatrous alliances. The expression, "going up," alludes to going to the interior of the country, or to the capital of the monarch Assyria now owned as sovereign, or to a place of refuge. The hiring of lovers, or lover, by Ephraim stigmatizes their shameful conduct as that of a shameless harlot, who, instead of receiving, bestows presents on lovers, or as the reward of endearments.

8:5-10 They promised themselves plenty, peace, and victory, by worshipping idols, but their expectations came to nothing. What they sow has no stalk, no blade, or, if it have, the bud shall yield no fruit, there was nothing in them. The works of darkness are unfruitful; nay, the end of those things is death. The hopes of sinners will deceive them, and their gains will be snares. In times of danger, especially in the day of judgment, all carnal devices will fail. They take a course by themselves, and like a wild ass by himself, they will be the easier and surer prey for the lion. Man is in nothing more like the wild ass's colt, than in seeking for that succour and that satisfaction in the creature, which are to be had in God only. Though men may sorrow a little, yet if it is not after a godly sort, they will be brought to sorrow everlastingly.For they are gone up to Assyria,.... Or, "though they should go up to Assyria" (g); to the king of Assyria, to gain his friendship, and enter into alliance with him; as, when Pal king of Assyria came against them, Menahem king of Israel went forth to meet him, and gave him a thousand talents of silver to be his confederate, and strengthen his kingdom, 2 Kings 15:19; yet this hindered not but that Israel was at length swallowed up by that people, and scattered by them among the nations; for this is not to be understood of their going captive into the land of Assyria, as the Targum interprets it:

a wild ass alone by himself; which may be applied either to the king of Assyria, and be considered as a description of him, to whom Israel went for help and friendship; who, though he took their present, and made them fair promises, yet was perfidious, unsociable, and inhuman, studied only his own advantage, and not their good: or to the Israelites that went to him, who were as sottish and stupid as the ass, and as headstrong and unruly as that, and, like it, lustful, and impetuous in their lusts; running to and fro for the satisfying of them, and taking no advice, nor suffering themselves to be controlled, and, being alone, became an easy prey to the Assyrian lion: or yet they should be as "a wild ass alone by itself" (h); notwithstanding all the methods they took to obtain the friendship and alliance of the king of Assyria, yet they should be carried captive by him, and dwell in the captivity like a wild ass in the wilderness; and so it is to be understood here, agreeably to Job 24:5; otherwise, as Bochart (i) has proved from various writers, these creatures go in flocks:

Ephraim hath hired lovers; by giving presents to the kings of Assyria and Egypt, to be their allies and confederates, patrons and defenders, 2 Kings 15:19; who are represented as their gallants, with whom Ephraim or the ten tribes committed adultery, departing from God their Husband, and liege Lord and King, and from his true worship; see Ezekiel 16:26. R. Elias Levita (k) observes, that some interpret the words, "Ephraim made a covenant with lovers".

(g) "quamvis, etiamsi ascenderint"; so Schmidt observes it may be rendered, though he chooses to render it by "quando", "when they should go up", &c. (h) "erunt onager, qui solitarius sibi est", Schmidt. (i) Hierozoic. par. 1. l. 3. c. 16. col. 870. (k) Tishbi, p. 267.

Hosea 8:8
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