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VOL. I. 















VOL. I. 

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INTRODUCTION, . . . . . . .11 


I. Israel s Adultery (Chap, i.-iii.), .... 26 

Israel the Adulteress, and her Children (Chap. i. 2-ii. 3), . 36 
Chastisement of idolatrous Israel, and its Conversion and 

final Restoration (Chap. ii. 2-23), ... 50 

The Adulteress and her fresh Marriage (Chap, iii.), . 66 

II. The Ungodliness of Israel : its Punishment and final Deliver 
ance (Chap, iv.-xiv.), .... 73 

1. The Depravity of Israel, and its Exposure to Punish 

ment (Chap, iv.-vi. 3), . . .73 

The Sins of Israel and the Visitation of God (Chap. 

iv.), - 74 

The Judgment (Chap, v.-vi. 3), ... 85 

2. The Ripeness of Israel for the Judgment of Destruction 

(chap. vi. 4-xi. 11), ..... 97 

The Incurableness of the Corruption (Chap. vi.4-vii. 16), 97 
The Judgment consequent upon Apostasy (Chap. 

viii.-ix. 9), Ill 

The Degeneracy of Israel, and Ruin of its Kingdom 

(Chap. ix. 10-xi. 11), .... 124 

3. Israel s Apostasy and God s Fidelity (Chap, xii.-xiv.), . 143 

Israel s Degeneracy into Canaanitish Ways (Chap, xii.), 143 
Israel s deep Fall (Chap, xiii.-xiv. 1), . . . 153 

Israel s Conversion and Pardon (Chap, xiv.), . . 163 




INTRODUCTION, . . . . . . .169 

I. The Judgment of God, and the Prophet s Call to Repentance 

(Chap. i. 2-ii. 17), . . . . .179 

Lamentation over the Devastation of Judah by Locusts and 

Drought (Chap, i.), ..... 179 

Summons to Penitential Prayer for the Removal of the 

Judgment (Chap. ii. 1-17), . . . .189 

II. The Promise of God to avert the Judgment, and bestow an 

abundant Blessing (Chap. ii. 18-iii. 21), . . 199 

Destruction of the Army of Locusts, and Renewal of the 

spiritual and earthly Blessings (Chap. ii. 18-27), . 200 

Outpouring of the Spirit of God upon all Flesh ; Judgment 
upon the World of Nations, and Eternal Deliverance and 
Glorification of the People of God (Chap. ii. 28-iii. 21), . 209 


INTRODUCTION, . . . . .233 


I. The Approaching Judgment (Chap. i. and ii.), . . 240 

II. Prophecies concerning Israel (Chap, iii.-vi.), . . 258 

Announcement of the Judgment (Chap, iii.), . . 258 

The Impenitence of Israel (Chap, iv.), . 266 
The Overthrow of the Kingdom of the Ten Tribes (Chap. 

v. and vi.), ...... 277 

III. Sights or Visions, ... . . . . .304 

Visions of the Locusts, the Fire, and the Plumb-Line. 

The Prophet s Experience at Bethel (Chap, vii.), . 305 

The Ripeness of Israel for Judgment (Chap, viii.), . 313 

Destruction of the Sinful Kingdom, and Establishment of 

the new Kingdom of God (Chap, ix.), . . 319 


INTRODUCTION, ....... 337 


The Judgment upon Edom, and the Establishment of the King 
dom of God upon Zion, ..... 350 




INTRODUCTION, . . . . . ... 379 

Mission of Jonah to Nineveh his Flight and Punishment 

(Chap, i.), .389 

Jonah s Deliverance (Chap. i. 17-ii. 10), . . .397 

Jonah s Preaching in Nineveh (Chap, iii.), . . . 404 

Jonah s Discontent and Correction (Chap, iv.), . . . 410 


INTRODUCTION, . . . . . . .419 


I. Israel s Banishment into Exile and Restoration (Chap. i. 

andii.), . - 424 

The Judgment upon Samaria and Judah (Chap, i.), . 425 

Guilt and Punishment of Israel its Future Restoration 

(Chap, ii.), ... . . .438 

II. Zion s deepest Degradation and highest Exaltation (Chap. 

iii.-v.), ....... 449 

Sins of the Leaders of the Nation, and Destruction of Jeru 
salem (Chap, iii.), . . . . . 449 

Glorification of the House of the Lord, and Restoration of 

the Dominion of Zion (Chap, iv.), . . . 455~ 

Birth of the Ruler in Israel, and His peaceful Rule (Chap, 
v. 2-15), . .... 477 

III. The "Way to Salvation (Chap. vi. and vii.), . . . 492 

Exhortation to Repentance, and Divine Threatening (Chap. 

vi.), . 492 

The Church s Penitential Prayer, and the Divine Promise 

(Chap, vii.), . . 502 




|N our editions of the Hebrew Bible, the book of 
Ezekiel is followed by the book of the Twelve 
Prophets (rwv ScoSe/ea TT/OO^TWZ/, Sir. xlix. 10 ; 
called "OT D^f by the Kabbins ; Chaldee, e.g. in 
the Masora, "ip" 1 !^ = "CT ^n), who have been called from time 
immemorial the smaller prophets ((fiaiwton, minores) on account 
of the smaller bulk of such of their prophecies as have come 
down to us in a written form, when contrasted with the writings 
of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. 1 On the completion of the 
canon these twelve writings were put together, so as to form 
one prophetic book. This was done " lest one or other of them 
should be lost on account of its size, if they were all kept 
separate," as Kimchi observes in his Prcef. Comm. in Ps., 
according to a rabbinical tradition. They were also reckoned 
as one book, ^ovo/^/SXo?, TO ScoSeKaTrpofarov (see my Lehrbuch 
der Einleitung in d. A. T. 156 and 216, Anm. 10 sqq.). 
Their authors lived and laboured as prophets at different 
periods, ranging from the ninth century B.C. to the fifth ; so 
that in these prophetic books we have not only the earliest and 

1 Augustine (De civit. Dei, xviii. 29) observes: " Qui propterea dicuntur 
minores, quia sermones eorum sunt breves in eorum comparatione, qui majores 
ideo vocantur, quia prolixa volumina condiderunt" Compare with this the 
notice from &. Bathra 14&, in Delitzsch on Isaiah, vol. i. p. 25, translation. 

VOL. I. A 


latest of the prophetic testimonies concerning the future his 
tory of Israel and of the kingdom of God, but the progressive 
development of this testimony. When taken, therefore, in 
connection with the writings of the greater prophets, they 
comprehend all the essentials of that prophetic word, through 
which the Lord equipped His people for the coming times of 
conflict with the nations of the world, endowing them thus 
with the light and power of His Spirit, and causing His ser 
vants to foretell, as a warning to the ungodly, the destruction of 
the two sinful kingdoms, and the dispersion of the rebellious 
people among the heathen, and, as a consolation to believers, 
the deliverance and preservation of a holy seed, and the eventual 
triumph of His kingdom over every hostile power. 

In the arrangement of the twelve, the chronological prin 
ciple has so far determined the order in which they occur, that 
the prophets of the pre-Assyrian and Assyrian times (Hosea 
to Nahum) are placed first, as being the earliest ; then follow 
those of the Chaldean period (Habakkuk and Zephaniah) ; and 
lastly, the series is closed by the three prophets after the cap 
tivity (Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi), arranged in the order 
in which they appeared. 1 Within the first of these three 
groups, however, the chronological order is not strictly pre 
served, but is outweighed by the nature of the contents. The 
statement made by Jerome concerning the arrangement of the 
twelve prophets namely, that " the prophets, in whose books 
the time is not indicated in the title, prophesied under the same 
kings as the prophets, whose books precede theirs with the date 
of composition inserted" (Prcef. in 12 Proph.) does not rest 
" upon a good traditional basis," but is a mere conjecture, and 
is proved to be erroneous by the fact that Malachi did not pro 
phesy in the time of Darius Hystaspes, as his two predecessors 
are said to have done. And there are others also, of whom it 
can be shown, that the position they occupy is not chronologi 
cally correct. Joel and Obadiah did not first begin to prophesy 
under Uzziah of Judah and Jeroboam n. of Israel, but com 
menced their labours before that time ; and Obadiah pro 
phesied before Joel, as is obvious from the fact that Joel (in 
ch. ii. 32) introduces into his announcement of salvation the 
words used by Obadiah in ver. 17, " and in Mount Zion shall 
1 Compare Delitzsch on Isaiah, vol. i. p. 25. 


be deliverance," and does so with what is equivalent to a direct 
citation, viz. the expression " as the Lord hath said." Hosea, 
again, would stand after Amos, and not before him, if a strictly 
chronological order were observed ; for although, according to 
the headings to their books, they both prophesied under Uzziah 
and Jeroboam n., Hosea continued prophesying down to the 
times of Hezekiah, so that in any case he prophesied for a 
long time after Amos, who commenced his work earlier than 
he. The plan adopted in arranging the earliest of the minor 
prophets seems rather to have been the following : Hosea was 
placed at the head of the collection, as being the most compre 
hensive, just as, in the collection of Pauline epistles, that to the 
Romans is put first on account of its wider scope. Then fol 
lowed the prophecies which had no date given in the heading ; 
and these were so arranged, that a prophet of the kingdom of 
Israel was always paired with one of the kingdom of Judah, 
viz. Joel with Hosea, Obadiah with Amos, Jonah with Micah, 
and Nahum the Galilean with Habakkuk the Levite. Other 
considerations also operated in individual cases. Thus Joel was 
paired with Hosea, on account of its greater scope ; Obadiah 
with Amos, as being the smaller, or rather smallest book ; and 
Joel was placed before Amos, because the latter commences 
his book with a quotation from Joel iii. 16, "Jehovah will roar 
out of Zion," etc. Another circumstance may also have led to 
the pairing of Obadiah with Amos, viz. that Obadiah s pro 
phecy might be regarded as an expansion of Amos ix. 12, "that 
they may possess the remnant of Edom." Obadiah was fol 
lowed by Jonah before Micah, not only because Jonah had 
lived in the reign of Jeroboam n., the contemporary of 
Amaziah and Uzziah, whereas Micah did not appear till the 
reign of Jotham, but possibly also because Obadiah begins 
with the words, " We have heard tidings from Judah, and a 
messenger is sent among the nations ;" and Jonah was such a 
messenger (Delitzsch). In the case of the prophets of the 
second and third periods, the chronological order was well known 
to the collectors, and consequently this alone determined the 
arrangement. It is true that, in the headings to Nahum and 
Habakkuk, the date of composition is not mentioned ; but it 
was evident from the nature of their prophecies, that Nahum, 
who predicted the destruction of Nineveh, the capital of the 


Assyrian empire, must have lived, or at any rate have laboured, 
before Habakkuk, who prophesied concerning the Chaldean 
invasion. And lastly, when we come to the prophets after the 
captivity, in the case of Haggai and Zechariah, the date of 
their appearance is indicated not only by the year, but by the 
month as well ; and with regard to Malachi, the collectors knew 
well that he was the latest of all the prophets, from the fact 
that the collection was completed, if not in his lifetime and 
with his co-operation, at all events very shortly after his death. 
The following is the correct chronological order, so far as it 
can be gathered with tolerable certainty from the contents of 
the different writings, and the relation in which they stand to 
one another, even in the case of those prophets the headings to 
whose books do not indicate the date of composition : 

1. Obadiah : in the reign of Joram king of Judah, 

between .... 889 and 884 B.C. 

2. Joel: in the reign of Joash king of Judah, 

between . . . . 875 and 848 B.C. 

3. Jonah : in the reign of Jeroboam n. of Israel, 

between . . * . 824 and 783 B.C. 

4. Amos : in the reign of Jeroboam n. of Israel and 

Uzziah of Judah, between . ,. 810 and 783 B.C. 

5. Hosea : in the reign of Jeroboam n. of Israel, and 

from Uzziah to Hezekiah of Judah, between 790 and 725 B.C. 

6. Micah : in the reign of Jotham, Ahaz, and Heze 

kiah of Judah, between . ;. . 758 and 710 B.C. 

7. Nahum : hi the second half of the reign of 

Hezekiah, between . . . 710 and 699 B.C. 

8. Habakkuk : hi the reign of Manasseh or Josiah, 

between . . . . 650 and 628 B.C. 

9. Zephaniah : in the reign of Josiah, between 628 and 623 B.C. 

10. Haggai: in the second year of Darius Hystaspes, 

viz. . . . . 519 B.C. 

11. Zechariah : in the reign of Darius Hystaspes, 

from . ... . . 519 B.C. 

12. Malachi : in the reign of Artaxerxes Longimanus, 

between . * . . 433 and 424 B.C. 

Consequently the literature of the prophetic writings does 
not date, first of all, from the time when Assyria rose into an 
imperial power, and assumed a threatening aspect towards 
Israel, i.e. under Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel, 
and Uzziah king of Judah, or about 800 B.C., as is commonly 


supposed, but about ninety years earlier, under the two Jorams 
of Judah and Israel, while Elisha was still living in the king 
dom of the ten tribes. But even in that case the growth of 
the prophetic literature is intimately connected with the de 
velopment of the theocracy. The reign of Joram the son of 
Jehoshaphat was one of eventful importance to the kingdom 
of Judah, which formed the stem and kernel of the Old Testa 
ment kingdom of God from the time that the ten tribes fell 
away from the house of David, and possessed in the temple 
of Jerusalem, which the Lord Himself had sanctified as the 
dwelling-place of His name, and also in the royal house of 
David, to which He had promised an everlasting existence, 
positive pledges not only of its own preservation, but also of 
the fulfilment of the divine promises which had been made to 
Israel. Joram had taken as his wife Athaliah, a daughter of 
Ahab and of Jezebel the fanatical worshipper of Baal ; and 
through this marriage he transplanted into Judah the godless- 
ness and profligacy of the dynasty of Ahab. He walked in the 
way of the kings of Israel, and did what was evil in the sight 
of the Lord, as the house of Ahab did. He slew his brethren 
with the sword, and drew away Jerusalem and Judah to 
idolatry (2 Kings viii. 18, 19 ; 2 Chron. xxi. 4-7, 11). After 
his death, and that of his son Ahaziah, his wife Athaliah seized 
upon the government, and destroyed all the royal seed, with the 
exception of Joash, a child of one year old, who was concealed 
in the bed-chambers by the sister of Ahaziah, who was married 
to Jehoiada the high priest, and so escaped. Thus the divinely 
chosen royal house was in great danger of being exterminated, 
had not the Lord preserved to it an offshoot, for the sake of the 
promise given to His servant David (2 Kings xi. 1-3 ; 2 Chron. 
xxii. 10-12). Their sins were followed by immediate punish 
ment. In the reign of Joram, not only did Edom revolt from 
Judah, and that with such success, that it could never be 
brought into subjection again, but Jehovah also stirred up the 
spirit of the Philistines and Petrsean Arabians, so that they 
forced their way into Jerusalem, and carried off the treasures 
of the palace, as well as the wives and sons of the king, with 
the exception of Ahaziah, the youngest son (2 Kings viii. 20-22 ; 
2 Chron. xxi. 8-10, 16, 17). Joram himself was very soon 
afflicted with a painful and revolting disease (2 Chron. xxi. 


18, 19) ; his son Ahaziah was slain by Jehu, after a reign of 
rather less than a year, together with his brethren (relations) 
and some of the rulers of Judah ; and his wife Athaliah was 
dethroned and slain after a reign of six years (2 Kings ix. 
27-29, xi. 13 sqq. ; 2 Chron. xxii. 8, 9, xxiii. 12 sqq.). With 
the extermination of the house of Ahab in Israel, and its off 
shoots in Judah, the open worship of Baal was suppressed in 
both kingdoms ; and thus the onward course of the increasing 
religious and moral corruption was arrested. But the evil was 
not radically cured. Even Jehoiada, who had been rescued 
by the high priest and set upon the throne, yielded to the 
entreaties of the rulers in Judah, after the death of his de 
liverer, tutor, and mentor, and not only restored idolatry in 
Jerusalem, but allowed them to stone to death the prophet 
Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada, who condemned this apostasy 
from the Lord (2 Chron. xxiv. 1722). Amaziah, his son and 
successor, having defeated the Edomites in the Salt valley, 
brought the gods of that nation to Jerusalem, and set them 
up to be worshipped (2 Chron. xxv. 14). Conspiracies were 
organized against both these kings, so that they both fell by the 
hands of assassins (2 Kings xii. 21, xiv. 19 ; 2 Chron. xxiv. 25, 
26, xxv. 27). The next two kings of Judah, viz. Uzziah and 
Jotham, did indeed abstain from such gross idolatry and sus 
tain the temple worship of Jehovah at Jerusalem ; and they 
also succeeded in raising the kingdom to a position of great 
earthly power, through the organization of a powerful army, 
and the erection of fortifications in Jerusalem and Judah. But 
the internal apostasy of the people from the Lord and His law 
increased even in their reigns, so that under Ahaz the torrent 
of corruption broke through every dam ; idolatry prevailed 
throughout the entire kingdom, even making its way into the 
courts of the temple ; and wickedness reached a height un 
known before (2 Kings xvi. ; 2 Chron. xxviii.). Whilst, there 
fore, on the one hand, the godless reign of Joram laid the 
foundation for the internal decay of the kingdom of Judah, 
and his own sins and those of his wife Athaliah were omens of 
the religious and moral dissolution of the nation, which was 
arrested for a time, however, by the grace and faithfulness of 
the covenant God, but which burst forth in the time of Ahaz 
with terrible force, bringing the kingdom even then to the 


verge of destruction, and eventually reached the fullest height 
under Manasseh, so that the Lord could no longer refrain from 
pronouncing upon the people of His possession the judgment 
of rejection (2 Kings xxi. 10-16) ; on the other hand, the 
punishment inflicted upon Judah for Joram s sins, in the revolt 
of the Edomites, and the plundering of Jerusalem by Philis 
tines and Arabians, were preludes of the rising up of the world 
of nations above and against the kingdom of God, in order, if 
possible, to destroy it. We may see clearly of what eventful 
importance the revolt of Edom was to the kingdom of Judah, 
from the remark made by the sacred historian, that Edom 
revolted from under the hand of Judah " unto this day " 
(2 Kings viii. 22 ; 2 Chron. xxi. 10), i.e. until the dissolution 
of the kingdom of Judah, for the victories of Amaziah and 
Uzziah over the Edomites did not lead to their subjugation ; 
and still more clearly from the description contained in Obad. 
10-14, of the hostile acts of the Edomites towards Judah on 
the occasion of the taking of Jerusalem by the Philistines and 
Arabians ; from which it is evident, that they were not satisfied 
with having thrown off the hateful yoke of Judah, but pro 
ceeded, in their malignant pride, to attempt the destruction of 
the people of God. 

In the kingdom of the ten tribes also, Jehu had rooted out 
the worship of Baal, but had not departed from the sins of 
Jeroboam the son of Nebat. Therefore even in his reign the 
Lord " began to cut off from Israel ; " and Hazael the Syrian 
smote it in all its coasts. At the prayer of Jehoahaz, his son 
and successor, God had compassion once more upon the tribes 
of this kingdom, and sent them deliverers in the two kings 
Joash and Jeroboam II., so that they escaped from the hands 
of the Syrians, and Jeroboam was able to restore the ancient 
boundaries of the kingdom (2 Kings x. 28-33, xiii. 3-5, 23-25, 
xiv. 25). Nevertheless, as this fresh display of grace did not 
bear the fruits of repentance and return to the Lord, the judg 
ments of God burst upon the sinful kingdom after the death of 
Jeroboam, and hurried it on to destruction. 

In this eventful significance of the reign of Joram king of 
Judah, who was related to the house of Ahab and walked in 
his ways, with reference to the Israelitish kingdom of God, we 
may doubtless discover the foundation for the change which 


occurred from that time forward in the development of pro 
phecy : namely, that the Lord now began to raise up prophets 
in the midst of His people, who discerned in the present the 
germs of the future, and by setting forth in this light the events 
of their own time, impressed them upon the hearts of their 
countrymen both in writing and by word of mouth. The 
difference between the prophetce priores, whose sayings and 
doings are recorded in the historical books, and the prophetce 
posteriores, who composed prophetic writings of their own, con 
sisted, therefore, not so much in the fact that the former were 
prophets of " irresistible actions," and the latter prophets of 
" convincing words " (Delitzsch), as in the fact that the earlier 
prophets maintained the right of the Lord before the people 
and their civil rulers both by word and deed, and thereby 
exerted an immediate influence upon the development of the 
kingdom of God in their own time ; whereas the later prophets 
seized upon the circumstances and relations of their own times 
in the light of the divine plan of salvation as a whole, and 
whilst proclaiming both the judgments of God, whether nearer 
or more remote, and the future salvation, predicted the onward 
progress of the kingdom of God in conflict with the powers of 
the world, and through these predictions prepared the way for 
the revelation of the glory of the Lord in His kingdom, or the 
coming of the Saviour to establish a kingdom of righteousness 
and peace. This distinction has also been recognised by G. F. 
Oehler, who discovers the reason for the composition of separate 
prophetical books in the fact, that " prophecy now acquired an 
importance which extended far beyond the times then present ; 
inasmuch as the consciousness was awakened in the prophets 
minds with regard to both kingdoms, that the divine counsels 
of salvation could not come to fulfilment in the existing gene 
ration, but that the present form of the theocracy must be 
broken to pieces, in order that, after a thorough judicial sifting, 
there might arise out of the rescued and purified remnant the 
future church of salvation ; " and who gives this explanation of 
the reason for committing the words of the prophets to writing, 
that " it was in order that, when fulfilled, they might prove to 
future generations the righteousness and faithfulness of the 
covenant God, and that they might serve until then as a lamp to 
the righteous, enabling them, even in the midst of the darkness 


of the coming times of judgment, to understand the ways of 
God in His kingdom." All the prophetical books subserve this 
purpose, however great may be the diversity in the prophetical 
word which they contain, a diversity occasioned by the indi 
viduality of the authors and the special circumstances among 
which they lived and laboured. 

For the exegetical writings on the Minor Prophets, see my 
Lelirbuch der Einleitung, p. 273 

H S E A. 


HE PERSON OF THE PROPHET. ffosea, Knn ? i.e. 
help, deliverance, or regarding it as abstraction pro 
concrete, helper, salvator, ^flarje (LXX.) or fierce 
(Rom. ix. 20), Osee (Vulg.), the son of a certain 
JBeeri, prophesied, according to the heading to his book (ch. i. 1), 
in the reigns of the kings Uzziah, Jotharn, Ahaz, and Hezekiah 
of Judah, and in that of king Jeroboam, son of Joash, of Israel; 
and, as the nature of his prophecies clearly proves, he prophesied 
not only concerning, but in, the kingdom of the ten tribes, so 
that we must regard him as a subject of that kingdom. This 
is favoured not only by the fact that his prophetic addresses 
are occupied throughout with the kingdom of the ten tribes, 
but also by the peculiar style and language of his prophecies, 
which have here and there an Aramaean colouring (for example, 
such forms as INDSBK, c h. iv. 6 ; ^n (inf.), ch. vi. 9 ; Bn"? for 
StfBj?, ch. ix. 6; CNi? for DjJ, ch. x. 14; *&, c h. x i. 3; talK 
for i>^NK, ch. xi. 4; n6$ in ch. xi. 7; K^ for rna^ c h. 
xiii. 15; and such words as rirn y ch. xiii. 1 ; *nf* for n s tf ? cn . 
xiii. 10, 14), and still more by the intimate acquaintance with 
the circumstances and localities of the northern kingdom ap 
parent in such passages as ch. v. 1, vi. 8, 9, xii. 12, xiv. 6 sqq., 
which even goes so far that he calls the Israelitish kingdom 
" the land " in ch. i. 2, and afterwards speaks of the king of 
Israel as "our king" (ch. vii. 5). On the other hand, neither 
the fact that he mentions the kings of Judah in the heading, to 
indicate the period of his prophetic labours (ch. i. 1), nor the 
repeated allusions to Judah in passing (ch. i. 7, ii. 2, iv. 15, 
v. 5, 10, 12-14, vi. 4, 11, viii. 14, x. 11, xii. 1, 3), furnish any 
proof that he was a Judsean by birth, as Jahn and Maurer 
suppose. The allusion to the kings of Judah (ch. i. 1), and 


12 HOSEA. 

that before king Jeroboam of Israel, may be accounted for 
not from any outward relation to the kingdom of Judah, but 
from the inward attitude which Hosea assumed towards that 
kingdom in common with all true prophets. As the separation 
of the ten tribes from the house of David was in its deepest 
ground apostasy from Jehovah (see the commentary on 1 Kings 
xii.), the prophets only recognised the legitimate rulers of the 
kingdom of Judah as true kings of the people of God, whose 
throne had the promise of permanent endurance, even though 
they continued to render civil obedience to the kings of the 
kingdom of Israel, until God Himself once more broke up the 
government, which he had given to the ten tribes in His anger 
to chastise the seed of David which had fallen away from Him 
(Hos. xiii. 11). It is from this point of view that Hosea, in 
the heading to his book, fixes the date of his ministry according 
to the reigns of the kings of Judah, of whom he gives a com 
plete list, and whom he also places first; whereas he only 
mentions the name of one king of Israel, viz. the king in whose 
reign he commenced his prophetic course, and that not merely 
for the purpose of indicating the commencement of his career 
with greater precision, as Calvin and Hengstenberg suppose, 
but still more because of the importance attaching to Jeroboam 
II. in relation to the kingdom of the ten tribes. 

Before we can arrive at a correct interpretation of the 
prophecies of Hosea, it is necessary, as ch. i. and ii. clearly 
show, that we should determine with precision the time when 
he appeared, inasmuch as he not only predicted the overthrow 
of the house of Jehu, but the destruction of the kingdom of 
Israel as well. The reference to Uzziah is not sufficient for 
this ; for during the fifty-two years reign of this king of Judah, 
the state of things in the kingdom of the ten tribes was im 
mensely altered. When Uzziah ascended the throne, the Lord 
had looked in mercy upon the misery of the ten tribes of Israel, 
and had sent them such help through Jeroboam, that, after 
gaining certain victories over the Syrians, he was able com 
pletely to break down their supremacy over Israel, and to restore 
the ancient boundaries of the kingdom (2 Kings xiv. 25-27). 
But this elevation of Israel to new power did not last long. In 
the thirty-seventh year of Uzziah s reign, Zechariah, the son 
and successor of Jeroboam, was murdered by Shallum after a 


reign of only six months, and with him the house of Jehu was 
overthrown. From this time forward, yea, even from the 
death of Jeroboam in the twenty-seventh year of Uzziah s 
reign, the kingdom advanced with rapid strides towards utter 
ruin. Now, if Hosea had simply indicated the time of his 
own labours by the reigns of the kings of Judah, since his 
ministry lasted till the time of Hezekiah, we might easily be 
led to assign its commencement to the closing years of Uzziah s 
reign, in which the decline of the kingdom of Israel had 
already begun to show itself and its ruin could be foreseen to 
be the probable issue. If, therefore, it was to be made apparent 
that the Lord does reveal future events to His servants even 
" before they spring forth " (Isa. xlii. 9), this could only be 
done by indicating with great precision the time of Hosea s 
appearance as a prophet, i.e. by naming king Jeroboam. 
Jeroboam reigned contemporaneously with Uzziah for twenty- 
six years, and died in the twenty-seventh year of the reign of 
the latter, who outlived him about twenty-five years, and did 
not die till the second year of Pekah (see at 2 Kings xv. 1, 32). 
It is evident from this that Hosea commenced his prophetic 
labours within the twenty-six years of the contemporaneous 
reigns of Uzziah and Jeroboam, that is to say, before the 
twenty-seventh year of the former, and continued to labour 
till a very short time before the destruction of the kingdom of 
the ten tribes, since he prophesied till the time of Hezekiah, in 
the sixth year of whose reign Samaria was conquered by Shal- 
manezer, and the kingdom of Israel destroyed. The fact that 
of all the kings of Israel Jeroboam only is mentioned, may be 
explained from the fact that the house of Jehu, to which he 
belonged, had been called to the throne by the prophet Elisha 
at the command of God, for the purpose of rooting out the 
worship of Baal from Israel, in return for which Jehu received 
the promise that his sons should sit upon the throne to the 
fourth generation (2 Kings x. 30) ; and Jeroboam, the great- 
grandson of Jehu, was the last king through whom the Lord 
sent any help to the ten tribes (2 Kings xiv. 27). In his reign 
the kingdom of the ten tribes reached its greatest glory. After 
his death a long-continued anarchy prevailed, and his son 
Zechariah was only able to keep possession of the throne for 
half a year. The kings who followed fell, one after another, 

14 HOSEA. 

by conspiracies, so that the uninterrupted and regular succes 
sion to the throne ceased with the death of Jeroboam ; and of 
the six rulers who came to the throne after his death, not one 
was called by God through the intervention of a prophet, and 
only two were able to keep possession of it for any length of 
time, viz. Menaheni for ten years, and Pekah for twenty. 

Again, the circumstance that Hosea refers repeatedly to 
Judah in his prophecies, by no means warrants the conclusion 
that he was a citizen of the kingdom of Judah. The opinion 
expressed by Maurer, that an Israelitish prophet would not 
have troubled himself about the Judseans, or would have con 
demned their sins less harshly, is founded upon the unscrip- 
tural assumption, that the prophets suffered themselves to be 
influenced in their prophecies by subjective sympathies and 
antipathies as mere morum magistri, whereas they simply pro 
claimed the truth as organs of the Spirit of God, without any 
regard to man at all. If Hosea had been sent out of Judah 
into the kingdom of Israel, like the prophet in 1 Kings xiii., 
or the prophet Amos, this would certainly have been mentioned, 
at all events in the heading, just as in the case of Amos the 
native land of the prophet is given. But cases of this kind 
formed very rare exceptions to the general rule, since the pro 
phets in Israel were still more numerous than in the kingdom 
of Judah. In the reign of Jeroboam the prophet Jonah was 
living and labouring there (2 Kings xiv. 25) ; and the death 
of the prophet Elisha, who had trained a great company of 
young men for the service of the Lord in the schools of the 
prophets at Gilgal, Bethel, and Jericho, had only occurred a 
few years before. The fact that a prophet who was born in 
the kingdom of the ten tribes, and laboured there, alluded in 
his prophecies to the kingdom of Judah, may be accounted for 
very simply, from the importance which this kingdom possessed 
in relation to Israel as a whole, both on account of the promises 
it had received, and also in connection with its historical de 
velopment. Whilst the promises in the possession of the Davidic 
government of the kingdom of Judah formed a firm ground 
of hope for godly men in all Israel, that the Lord could not 
utterly and for ever cast off His people ; the announcement of 
the judgments, which would burst upon Judah also on account 
of its apostasy, was intended to warn the ungodly against false 


trust in the gracious promises of God, and to proclaim the 
severity and earnestness of the judgment of God. This also 
explains the fact that whilst, on the one hand, Hosea makes 
the salvation of the ten tribes dependent upon their return to 
Jehovah their God and David their king (ch. i. 7, ii. 2), and 
warns Judah against sinning with Israel (ch. iv. 15), on the 
other hand, he announces to Judah also that it is plunging 
headlong into the very same ruin as Israel, in consequence of 
its sins (ch. v. 5, 10 sqq., vi. 4, 11, etc.) ; whereas the conclu 
sions drawn by Ewald from these passages namely, that at 
first Hosea only looked at Judah from the distance, and that it 
was not till a later period that he became personally acquainted 
with it, and not till after he had laboured for a long time in 
the northern part of the kingdom that he came to Judah and 
composed his book are not only at variance with the fact, that 
as early as ch. ii. 2 the prophet proclaims indirectly the expul 
sion of Judah from its own land into captivity, but are founded 
upon the false notion, that the prophets regarded their own 
subjective perceptions and individual judgments as inspirations 
from God. 

According to the heading, Hosea held his prophetic office 
for about sixty or sixty-five years (viz. 27-30 years under 
Uzziah, 31 under Jotham and Ahaz, and 1-3 years under 
Hezekiah). This also agrees with the contents of his book. 
In ch. i. 4, the overthrow of the house of Jehu, which occurred 
about eleven or twelve years after the death of Jeroboam, in 
the thirty-ninth year of Uzziah (2 Kings xv. 10, 13), is fore 
told as being near at hand ; and in ch. x. 14, according to the 
most probable explanation of this passage, the expedition of 
Shalmanezer into Galilee, which occurred, according to 2 Kings 
xvii. 3, at the commencement of the reign of Hoshea, the last 
of the Israelitish kings, is mentioned as having already taken 
place, whilst a fresh invasion of the Assyrians is threatened, 
which cannot be any other than the expedition of Shalmanezer 
against king Hoshea, who had revolted from him, which ended 
in the capture of Samaria after a three years siege, and the 
destruction of the kingdom of the ten tribes in the sixth year of 
Hezekiah. The reproof in ch. vii. 11, " They call to Egypt, they 
go to Assyria," and that in ch. xii. 1, " They do make a cove 
nant with the Assyrians, and oil is carried into Egypt," point 

16 HOSE A. 

to the same period; for they clearly refer to the time of Hoshea, 
who, notwithstanding the covenant that he had made with 
Asshur, i.e. notwithstanding the oath of fidelity rendered to 
Shalmanezer, purchased the assistance of the king of Egypt by 
means of presents, that he might be able to shake off the Assy 
rian yoke. The history knows nothing of any earlier alliances 
between Israel and Egypt ; and the supposition that, in these 
reproaches, the prophet has in his mind simply two political 
parties, viz. an Assyrian and an Egyptian, is hardly reconcil 
able with the w r ords themselves ; nor can it be sustained by an 
appeal to Isa. vii. 17 sqq., or even to Zech. x. 9-11, at least so 
far as the times of Menahem are concerned. Nor is it any 
more possible to infer from ch. vi. 8 and xii. 11, that the 
active ministry of the prophet did not extend beyond the reign 
of Jotham, on the ground that, according to these passages, 
Gilead and Galilee, which were conquered and depopulated 
by Tiglath-pileser, whom Ahaz called to his help (2 Kings xv. 
29), were still in the possession of Israel (Simson). For it is 
by no means certain that ch. xii. 11 presupposes the possession 
of Galilee, but the words contained in this verse might have 
been uttered even after the Assyrians had conquered the land 
to the east of the Jordan ; and in that case, the book, which 
comprises the sum and substance of all that Hosea prophesied 
during a long period, must of necessity contain historical allu 
sions to events that were already things of the past at the time 
when his book was prepared (Hengstenberg). On the other 
hand, the whole of the attitude assumed by Assyria towards 
Israel, according to ch. v. 13, x. 6, xi. 5, points beyond the 
times of Menahem and Jotham, even to the Assyrian oppres 
sion, which first began with Tiglath-pileser in the time of Ahaz. 
Consequently there is no ground whatever for shortening the 
period of our prophet s active labours. A prophetic career of 
sixty years is not without parallel. Even Elisha prophesied for 
at least fifty years (see at 2 Kings xiii. 20, 21). This simply 
proves, according to the apt remark of Calvin, " how great and 
indomitable were the fortitude and constancy with which he 
was endowed by the Holy Spirit." Nothing certain is known 
concerning the life of the prophet; 1 but his inner life lies before 

1 The traditional accounts are very meagre, and altogether unsupported. 
According to Pseudepiphanius, De vitis prophet, c. xi., Pseudo-Doroth. De 


us in his writings, and from these we may clearly see that he 
had to sustain severe inward conflicts. For even if such pas 
sages as ch. iv. 4, 5, and ix. 7, 8, contain no certain indications 
of the fact, that he had to contend against the most violent 
hostilities as well as secret plots, as Ewald supposes, the sight 
of the sins and abominations of his countrymen, which he had 
to denounce and punish, and the outburst of the divine judg 
ments upon the kingdom thus incessantly ripening for destruc 
tion, which he had to experience, could not fail to fill his soul, 
burning as it was for the deliverance of his people, with the 
deepest anguish, and to involve him in all kinds of conflicts. 

2. TIMES OF THE PROPHET. When Hosea was called to 
be a prophet, the kingdom of the ten tribes of Israel had been 
elevated to a position of great earthly power by Jeroboam II. 
Even under Joash the Lord had had compassion upon the chil 
dren of Israel, and had turned to them again for the sake of His 
covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob ; so that Joash had 
been able to recover the cities, which Hazael of Syria had 
conquered in the reign of his father Jehoahaz, from Benhadad 
the son of Hazael, and to restore them to Israel (2 Kings 
xiii. 23-25). The Lord sent still further help through Jero 
boam the son of Joash. Because He had not yet spoken to 
root out the name of Israel under heaven, He gave them 
victory in war, so that they were able to conquer Damascus 
and Hamath again, so far as they had belonged to Judah 
under David and Solomon, and to restore the ancient boun 
daries of Israel, from the province of Hamath to the Dead Sea, 
according to the word of Jehovah the God of Israel, which He 
had spoken through His servant the prophet Jonah (2 Kings 
xiv. 25-28). But this revival of the might and greatness of 
Israel was only the last display of divine grace, through which 

prophetis, c. i., and in a Scholion before EpTir. Syri Explan. in Hos., he 
sprang from Belemoth, or Belemon, or Beelmoth, in the tribe of Issachar, and 
is said to have died and been buried there. On the other hand, according to 
a tradition current among the inhabitants of Thessalonica, found in rhv/W? 
rfapn, he died in Babylon. According to an Arabian legend, it was not 
far from Tripolis, viz. in the city of Almenia ; whilst the Arabs also point 
out a grave, which is supposed to be his, in the land to the east of the 
Jordan, on the site of Ramoth Gilead; cf. Simson, der Prophet Hosea, 
p. 1 sqq. 

VOL. I. B 

13 HOSE A. 

the Lord sought to bring back His people from their evil ways, 
and lead them to repentance. For the roots of corruption, 
which the kingdom of Israel had within it from its very com 
mencement, were not exterminated either by Joash or Jero 
boam. These kings did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam 
the son of Nebat, who had caused Israel to sin, any more than 
their predecessors (2 Kings xiii. 11, xiv. 24). Jehu, the 
founder of this dynasty, had indeed rooted out Baal from Israel ; 
but he had not departed from the golden calves at Bethel and 
Dan, through the setting up of which Jeroboam the son of 
Nebat had led Israel into sin (2 Kings x. 28, 29). Nor did his 
successors take any more care to walk in the law of Jehovah, 
the God of Israel, with all their heart. Neither the severe 
chastisements which the Lord inflicted upon the people and the 
kingdom, by delivering Israel up to the power of Hazael king 
of Syria and his son Benhadad, in the time of Jehu and Jeho- 
ahaz, causing it to be smitten in all its borders, and beginning 
to cut off Israel (2 Kings x. 32, 33, xiii. 3) ; nor the love and 
grace which He manifested towards them in the reigns of 
Joash and Jeroboam, by liberating them from the oppression 
of the Syrians, and restoring the former greatness of the 
kingdom, were sufficient to induce the king or the people to 
relinquish the worship of the calves. This sin of Jeroboam, 
however, although it was Jehovah who was worshipped under 
the symbol of the calf, was a transgression of the fundamental 
law of the covenant, which the Lord had made with Israel, and 
therefore was a formal departure from Jehovah the true God. 
And Jerob.oam the son of Nebat was not content with simply in 
troducing images or symbols of Jehovah, but had even banished 
from his kingdom the Levites, who opposed this innovation, 
and had taken men out of the great body of the people, who 
were not sons of Levi, and made them priests, and had gone 
so far as to change the time of celebrating the feast of taber 
nacles from the seventh month to the eighth (1 Kings xii. 
31, 32), merely for the purpose of making the religious gulf 
which separated the two kingdoms as wide as possible, and 
moulding the religious institutions of his kingdom entirely 
according to his own caprice. Thus the worship of the people 
became a political institution, in direct opposition to the idea 
of the kingdom of God ; and the sanctuary of Jehovah was 


changed into a king s sanctuary (Amos vii. 13). But the con 
sequences of this image-worship were even worse than these* 
Through the representation of the invisible and infinite God 
under a visible and earthly symbol, the glory of the one true 
God was brought down within the limits of the finite, and the 
God of Israel was placed on an equality with the gods of the 
heathen. This outward levelling was followed, with inevitable 
necessity, by an inward levelling also. The Jehovah worshipped 
under the symbol of an ox was no longer essentially different 
from the Baals of the heathen, by whom Israel was surrounded; 
but the difference was merely a formal one, consisting simply 
in a peculiar mode of worship, which had been prescribed in 
His revelation of Himself, but which could not lay the founda 
tion of any permanently tenable party-wall. For, whilst the 
heathen were accustomed to extend to the national Deity of 
Israel the recognition which they accorded to the different 
Baals, as various modes of revelation of one and the same Deity; 
the Israelites, in their turn,, were also accustomed to grant 
toleration to the Baals ; and this speedily passed into formal 
worship. " Outwardly, the Jehovah-worship still continued to 
predominate; but inwardly, the worship of idols rose almost into 
exclusive supremacy. When once the boundary lines between 
the two religions were removed, it necessarily followed that that 
religion acquired the strongest spiritual force, which was most 
in accordance with the spirit of the nation. And from the very 
corruptions of human nature this was- not the strict Jehovah 
religion, which being given by God did not bring clown God 
to the low level of man, but sought to raise man up to its 
own lofty height, placing the holiness of God in the centre, 
and founding upon this the demand for holiness which it made 
upon its professors ; but the voluptuous, sensual teaching of 
idolatry, pandering as it did to human corruption, just because 
it was from this it had originally sprung" (Hengstenberg s 
Christology). This seems to explain the fact, that whereas, 
according to the prophecies of Amos and Hosea, the worship of 
Baal still prevailed in Israel under the kings of the house of 
Jehu, according to the account given in the books of Kings 
Jehu had rooted out Baal along with the royal house of Ahab 
(2 Kings x. 28). Jehu had merely broken down the outward 
supremacy of the Baal-worship, and raised up the worship of 

20 HOSEA. 

Jehovah once more, under the symbols of oxen or calves, into 
the state-religion. But this worship of Jehovah was itself a 
Baal-worship, since, although it was to Jehovah that the legal 
sacrifices were offered, and although His name was outwardly 
confessed, and His feasts were observed (Hos. ii. 13), yet in 
heart Jehovah Himself was made into a Baal, so that the 
people even called Him their Baal (Hos. ii. 16), and observed 
the days of the Baals" (Hos. ii. 13). 

This inward apostasy from the Lord, notwithstanding which 
the people still continued to worship Him outwardly and rely 
upon His covenant, had of necessity a very demoralizing in 
fluence upon the national life. With the breach of the funda 
mental law of the covenant, viz. of the prohibition against 
making any likeness of Jehovah, or worshipping images made 
by men, more especially in consequence of the manner in which 
this prohibition was bound up with the divine authority of the 
law, all reverence not only for the holiness of the law of God, 
but for the holy God Himself, w r as undermined. Unfaithful 
ness towards God and His word begot faithlessness towards 
men. With the neglect to love God with all the heart, love to 
brethren also disappeared. And spiritual adultery had carnal 
adultery as its inevitable consequence, and that all the more 
because voluptuousness formed a leading trait in the character 
of the idolatry of Hither Asia. Hence all the bonds of love, 
of chastity, and of order were loosened and broken, and Hosea 
uttered this complaint: "There is no truthfulness, and no love, 
and no knowledge of God in the land. Cursing, and murder, 
and stealing, and adultery ; they break out, and blood reaches to 
blood" (ch. iv. 1, 2). No king of Israel could put an effectual 
stop to this corruption. By abolishing the worship of the calves, 
he would have rendered the very existence of the kingdom 
doubtful. For if once the religious wall of division between 
the kingdom of Israel and the kingdom of Judah had been 
removed, the political distinction would have been in danger of 
following. And this was really what the founder of the kingdom 
of the ten tribes feared (1 Kings xii. 27), inasmuch as the royal 
family that occupied the throne had received no promise from 
God of permanent continuance. Founded as it was in rebel 
lion against the royal house of David, which God Himself had 
chosen, it bore within itself from the very first the spirit of 


rebellion and revolution, and therefore the germs of internal 
self-destruction. Under these circumstances, even the long, 
and in outward respects very prosperous, reign of Jeroboam n. 
could not possibly heal the deep-seated evils, but only helped to 
increase the apostasy and immorality ; since the people, whilst 
despising the riches of the goodness and mercy of God, looked 
upon their existing prosperity as simply a reward for their 
righteousness before God, and were therefore confirmed in 
their self-security and sins. And this was a delusion which 
false prophets loved to foster by predictions of continued pro 
sperity (cf. ch. ix, 7). The consequence was, that when Jero 
boam died, the judgments of God began to burst upon the 
incorrigible nation. There followed, first of all, an anarchy of 
eleven or twelve years ; and it was not till after this that his 
son Zechariah succeeded in ascending the throne. But at the 
end of no more than six months he was murdered by Shallum, 
whilst he in his turn was put to death after a reign of one month 
by Men ahem, who reigned ten years at Samaria (2 Kings xv. 
14, 17). In his reign the Assyrian king Phul invaded the land, 
and was only induced to leave it by the payment of a heavy 
tribute (2 Kings xv. 19, 20). Menahem was followed by his 
son Pekachiah in the fiftieth year of Uzziah s reign ; but after 
a reign of hardly two years he was murdered by his charioteer, 
Pekah the son of Remaliah, who held the throne for twenty 
years (2 Kings xv. 22-27), but who accelerated the ruin of his 
kingdom by forming an alliance with the king of Syria to 
attack the brother kingdom of Judah (Isa. vii.). For king 
Ahaz, when hard pressed by Pekah and the Syrians, called to 
his help the Assyrian king Tiglath-pileser, who not only con 
quered Damascus and destroyed the Syrian kingdom, but took 
a portion of the kingdom of Israel, viz. the whole of the land 
to the east of the Jordan, and carried away its inhabitants 
into exile (2 Kings xv. 29). Hoshea the son of Elah conspired 
against Pekah, and slew him in the fourth year of the reign of 
Ahaz ; after which, an eight years anarchy threw the kingdom 
into confusion, so that it was not till the twelfth year of Ahaz 
that Hoshea obtained possession of the throne. Very shortly 
afterwards, however, he came into subjection to the Assyrian 
king Shalmanezer, and paid him tribute. But after a time, in 
reliance upon the help of Egypt, he broke his oath of fealty to 

22 HOSE A. 

the king of Assyria; whereupon Shalmanezer returned, con 
quered the entire land, including the capital, and led Israel 
captive into Assyria (2 Kings xv. 30, xvii. 1-6). 

3. THE BOOK OF HOSEA. Called as he was at such a time 
as this to proclaim to his people the word of the Lord, Hosea 
necessarily occupied himself chiefly in bearing witness against 
the apostasy and corruption of Israel, and in preaching the judg 
ment of God. The ungodliness and wickedness had become 
so great, that the destruction of the kingdom was inevitable ; 
and the degenerate nation was obliged to be given up into the 
power of the Assyrians, the existing representatives of the 
heathen power of the world. But as God the Lord has no 
pleasure in the death of the sinner, but that he should turn and 
live, He would not exterminate the rebellious tribes of the 
people of His possession from the earth, or put them away for 
ever from His face, but would humble them deeply by severe 
and long-continued chastisement, in order that He might bring 
them to a consciousness of their great guilt and lead them to 
repentance, so that He might at length have mercy upon them 
once more, and save them from everlasting destruction. Con 
sequently, even in the book of Hosea, promises go side by side 
with threaten ings and announcements of punishment, and that 
not merely as the general hope of better days, kept continually 
before the corrected nation by the all-pitying love of Jehovah, 
which forgives even faithlessness, and seeks out that which 
has gone astray (Sims.), but in the form of a very distinct 
announcement of the eventual restoration of the nation, when 
corrected by punishment, and returning in sorrow and repent 
ance to the Lord its God, and to David its king (ch. iii. 5), 
an announcement founded upon the inviolable character of the 
divine covenant of grace, and rising up to the thought that the 
Lord will also redeem from hell and save from death, yea, will 
destroy both death and hell (ch. xiii. 14). Because Jehovah 
had married Israel in His covenant of grace, but Israel, like an 
unfaithful wife, had broken the covenant with its God, and gone 
a whoring after idols, God, by virtue of the holiness of His 
love, must punish its unfaithfulness and apostasy. His love, 
however, would not destroy, but would save that which was 
lost, This love bursts out in the flame of holy wrath, which 


burns in all the threatening and reproachful addresses of Hosea. 
In this wrath, however, it is not the consuming fire of an Elijah 
that burns so brightly; on the contrary, a gentle sound of divine 
grace and mercy is ever heard in the midst of the flame, so 
that the wrath but gives expression to the deepest anguish 
at the perversity of the nation, which will not suffer itself to 
be brought to a consciousness of the fact that its salvation 
rests with Jehovah its God, and with Him alone, either by the 
severity of the divine chastisements, or by the friendliness with 
which God has drawn Israel to Himself as with cords of love. 
This anguish of love at the faithlessness of Israel so completely 
fills the mind of the prophet, that his rich and lively imagina 
tion shines perpetually by means of changes of figure and 
fresh turns of thought, to open the eyes of the sinful nation to 
the abyss of destruction by which it is standing, in order if 
possible to rescue it from ruin. The deepest sympathy gives 
to his words a character of excitement, so that for the most 
part he merely hints at the thoughts in the briefest possible 
manner, instead of carefully elaborating them, passing with 
rapid changes from one figure and simile to another, and mov 
ing forward in short sentences and oracular utterances rather 


than in a calmly finished address, so that his addresses are fre 
quently obscure, and hardly intelligible. 1 

His book does not contain a collection of separate addresses 
delivered to the people, but, as is generally admitted now, a gene 
ral summary of the leading thoughts contained in his public ad 
dresses. The book is divisible into two parts, viz. ch. i.-iii. and 
iv.-xiv., which give the kernel of his prophetic labours, the one 
in a more condensed, and the other in a more elaborate form. 
In the first part, which contains the " beginning of the word of 

1 Jerome says of him, " commaticus est et quasi per sententias loquens;" 
and Ewald discovers in his style " a kernel-like fulness of language, and, 
notwithstanding many strong figures, which indicate not only poetical bold 
ness and originality but also the tolerably upright thought of those times, 
a very great tenderness and warmth of language." His diction is distin 
guished by many peculiar words and forms, such as D^SIBW (ch. ii. 4), 

ton tons (ch. iv. 18), nnj (ch. v. 13), nn ny^ (ch. vi. 10), D-iirnn (ch. 

viii. 13), nhlfc^n (ch. xiii. 5) ; and by peculiar constructions, such as 
^y ^h (ch. vii. 16), fe-f N (ch. xi. 7), jrp ^nip (ch. iv. 4), and many 


24 HOSEA. 

Jehovah by Hosea" (ch. i. 2), the prophet first of all describes, 
in the symbolical form of a marriage, contracted by the com 
mand of God with an adulterous woman, the spiritual adultery 
of the ten tribes of Israel, i.e. their falling away from Jehovah 
into idolatry, together with its consequences, namely, the re 
jection of the rebellious tribes by the Lord, and their eventual 
return to God, and restoration to favour (ch. i. 2, ii. 3). He 
then announces, in simple prophetic words, not only the chas 
tisements and punishments that will come from God, and bring 
the people to a knowledge of the ruinous consequences of their 
departure from God, but also the manifestations of mercy by 
which the Lord will secure the true conversion of those who are 
humbled by suffering, and their eventual blessedness through 
the conclusion of a covenant founded in righteousness and 
grace (ch. ii. 4-25) ; and this attitude on the part of God 
towards His people is then confirmed by a symbolical picture in 
ch. iii. 

In the second part, these truths are expanded in a still more 
elaborate manner ; but the condemnation of the idolatry and 
moral corruption of Israel, and the announcement of the de 
struction of the kingdom of the ten tribes, predominate, the 
saving prediction of the eventual restoration and blessedness of 
those, who come to the consciousness of the depth of their own 
fall, being but briefly touched upon. This part, again, cannot 
be divided into separate addresses, as there is an entire absence 
of all reliable indices, just as in the last part of Isaiah (ch. 
xl.-lxvi.) ; but, like the latter, it falls into three large, unequal 
sections, in each of which the prophetic address advances from an 
accusation of the nation generally and in its several ranks, to a 
description of the coming punishment, and finishes up with the 
prospect of the ultimate rescue of the punished nation. At the 
same time, an evident progress is discernible in the three, not 
indeed of the kind supposed by Ewald, namely, that the address 
contained in ch. iv.-ix. 9 advances from the accusation itself 
to the contemplation of the punishment proved to be necessary, 
and then rises through further retrospective glances at the 
better days of old, at the destination of the church, and at the 
everlasting love, to brighter prospects and the firmest hopes ; 
nor in that proposed by De Wette, viz. that the wrath becomes 
more and more threatening from ch. viii. onwards, and the 


destruction of Israel comes out more and more clearly before 
the reader s eye. The relation in which the three sections stand 
to one another is rather the following : In the first, ch. iv.-vi. 3, 
the religious and moral degradation of Israel is exhibited in all 
its magnitude, together with the judgment which follows upon 
the heels of this corruption ; and at the close the conversion 
and salvation aimed at in this judgment are briefly indicated. 
In the second and much longer section, ch. vi. 4-xi. 11, the 
incorrigibility of the sinful nation, or the obstinate persistence 
of Israel in idolatry and unrighteousness, in spite of the warn 
ings and chastisements of God, is first exposed and condemned 
(ch. vi. 4-vii. 16) ; then, secondly, the judgment to which 
they are liable is elaborately announced as both inevitable and 
terrible (ch. viii. 1-ix. 9) ; and thirdly, by pointing out the 
unfaithfulness which Israel has displayed towards its God from 
the very earliest times, the prophet shows that it has deserved 
nothing but destruction from off the face of the earth (ix. 10- 
xi. 8), and that it is only the mercy of God which will restrain 
the wrath, and render the restoration of Israel possible (ch. xi. 
9-11). In the third section (ch. xii.-xiv.) the ripeness of Israel 
for judgment is confirmed by proofs drawn from its falling 
into Canaanitish ways, notwithstanding the long-suffering, love, 
and fidelity with which God has always shown Himself to be 
its helper and redeemer (ch. xii. xiii.). To this there is ap 
pended a solemn appeal to return to the Lord ; and the whole 
concludes with a promise, that the faithful covenant God will 
display the fulness of His love again to those who return to 
Him with a sincere confession of their guilt, and will pour upon 
them the riches of His blessing (ch. xiv.). 

This division of the book differs, indeed, from all the attempts 
that have previously been made ; but it has the warrant of its 
correctness in the three times repeated promise (vi. 1-3, xi. 
9-11, and xiv. 2-9), by which each of the supposed sections is 
rounded off. And within these sections we also meet with 
pauses, by which they are broken up into smaller groups, re 
sembling strophes, although this further grouping of the pro 
phet s words is not formed into uniform strophes. 1 For further 
remarks on this point, see the Exposition. 

1 All attempts that have been made to break up the book into different 
prophecies, belonging to different periods, are wrecked upon the contents 

26 HOSEA. 

From what has been said, it clearly follows that Hosea 
himself wrote out the quintessence of his prophecies, as a 
witness of the Lord against the degenerate nation, at the close 
of his prophetic career, and in the book which bears his name. 
The preservation of this book, on the destruction of the king 
dom of the ten tribes, may be explained very simply from the 
fact that, on account of the intercourse carried on between the 
prophets of the Lord in the two kingdoms, it found its way to 
Judah soon after the time of its composition, and was there 
spread abroad in the circle of the prophets, and so preserved. 
We find, for example, that Jeremiah has used it again and 
again in his prophecies (compare Aug. Kueper, Jeremias 
librorum ss. interpres atque vindex. Berol. 1837, p. 67 seq.). 
For the exegetical writings on Hosea, see my Lehrbuch der 
Einleitungj p. 275. 



On the ground of the relation hinted at even in the Pen 
tateuch (Ex. xxxiv. 15, 16; Lev. xvii. 7, xx. 5, 6 ; Num. xiv. 
33 ; Deut. xxxii. 16-21), and still further developed in the Song 
of Solomon and Ps. xlv., where the gracious bond existing 
between the Lord and the nation of His choice is represented 
under the figure of a marriage, which Jehovah had contracted 
with Israel, the falling away of the ten tribes of Israel from 
Jehovah into idolatry is exhibited as whoredom and adultery, in 
the following manner. In the first section (i. 2-ii. 3), God 
commands the prophet to marry a wife of whoredoms with 
children of whoredoms, and gives names - to the children born 
to the prophet by this wife, which indicate the fruits of idolatry, 

of the book itself ; single sections being obliged to be made into prophetic 
addresses, or declared to be such, and the period of their origin being 
merely determined by arbitrary conjectures and assumptions, or by fanciful 
interpretations, e.g. as that of the cliodesh, or new moon, in ch. v. 7, which 
is supposed to refer to the reign of Shallum, who only reigned one month. 

CHAP. I -III. 27 

viz. the rejection and putting away of Israel on the part of 
God (ch. i. 2-9), with the appended promise of the eventual 
restoration to favour of the nation thus put away (ch. ii. 1-3). 
In the second section (ch. ii. 4-25), the Lord announces that 
He will put an end to the whoredom, i.e. to the idolatry of 
Israel, and by means of judgments will awaken in it a longing 
to return to Him (vers. 4-15), that He will thereupon lead the 
people once more through the wilderness, and, by the renewal 
of His covenant mercies and blessings, will betroth Himself to 
it for ever in righteousness, mercy, and truth (vers. 16-25). 
In the third section (ch. iii.) the prophet is commanded to love 
once more a wife beloved of her husband, but one \vho had 
committed adultery ; and after having secured her, to put her 
into such a position that it will be impossible for her to cany 
on her whoredom any longer. And the explanation given is, 
that the Israelites will sit for a long time without a king, with 
out sacrifice, and without divine worship, but that they will 
afterwards return, will seek Jehovah their God, and David 
their king, and will rejoice in the goodness of the Lord at the 
end of the days. Consequently the falling away of the ten 
tribes from the Lord, their expulsion into exile, and the resto 
ration of those who come to a knowledge of their sin in other 
words, the guilt and punishment of Israel, and its restoration 
to favour form the common theme of all three sections, and 
that in the following manner : In the first, the sin, the punish 
ment, and the eventual restoration of Israel, are depicted sym 
bolically in all their magnitude ; in the second, the guilt and 
punishment, and also the restoration and renewal of the relation 
of grace, are still further explained in simple prophetic words ; 
whilst in the third, this announcement is visibly set forth in a 
new symbolical act. 

In both the first and third sections, the prophet s announce 
ment is embodied in a symbolical act ; and the question arises 
here, Whether the marriage of the prophet with an adulterous 
woman, which is twice commanded by God, is to be regarded 
as a marriage that was actually consummated, or merely as an 
internal occurrence, or as a parabolical representation. 1 The 

1 Compare on this point the fuller discussion of the question by John 
Marck, Diatribe de muliere fornicationum, Lugd. B. 1696, reprinted in his 
Comment, in 12 proph. mm., ed. Pfaff. 1734, p. 214 sqq. ; and Hengslen- 

28 HOSEA. 

supporters of a marriage outwardly consummated lay the prin 
cipal stress upon the simple words of the text. The words of 
ver. 2, "Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms," and of ver. 3, 
" So he went and took Gomer . . . which conceived," etc., are 
so definite and so free from ambiguity, that it is impossible, they 
think, to take them with a good conscience in any other sense 
than an outward and historical one. But since even Kurtz, 
who has thrown the argument into this form, feels obliged to 
admit, with reference to some of the symbolical actions of the 
prophets, e.g. Jer. xxv. 15 sqq. and Zech. xi., that they were 
not actually and outwardly performed, it is obvious that the 
mere words are not sufficient of themselves to decide the ques 
tion a priori, whether such an action took place in the objective 
outer world, or only inwardly, in the spiritual intuition of the 
prophet himself. 1 The reference to Isa. vii. 3, and viii. 3, 4, 
as analogous cases, does apparently strengthen the conclusion 
that the occurrence was an outward one ; but on closer exami- 

berg s Christology, i. p. 177 sqq., translation, in which, after a historical 
survey of the different views that have been expressed, he defends the 
opinion that the occurrence was real, but not outward ; whilst Kurtz (Die 
Ehe des Propheten Hosea, 1859) has entered the lists in defence of the 
assumption that it was a marriage actually and outwardly consummated. 

1 It is true that Kurtz endeavours to deprive this concession of all its 
force, by setting up the canon, that of all the symbolical actions of the 
prophets the following alone cannot be interpreted as implying either an 
outward performance or outward experience ; viz. (1) those in which the 
narration itself expressly indicates a visionary basis or a parabolical fiction, 
and (2) those in which the thing described is physically impossible without 
the intervention of a miracle. But apart from the arbitrary nature of this 
second canon, which is apparent from the fact that the prophets both per 
formed and experienced miracles, the symbolical actions recorded in Jer. 
xxv. and Zech. xi. do not fall under either the first or second of these 
canons. Such a journey as the one which Jeremiah is commanded to take 
(Jer. xxv.), viz. to the kings of Egypt, of the Philistines, the Phoenicians, 
the Arabians, the Edomites, the Ammonites, the Syrians, of Media, Elam, 
and Babylon, cannot be pronounced an absolute impossibility, however 
improbable it may be. Still less can the taking of two shepherds staves, 
to which the prophet gives the symbolical names Beauty and Bands, or the 
slaying of three wicked shepherds in one month (Zech. xi.), be said to be 
physically impossible, notwithstanding the assertion of Kurtz, in which he 
twists the fact so clearly expressed in the biblical text, viz. that " a staff 
Beauty does not lie within the sphere of physically outward existence, any 
more than a staff Bands. 7 

CHAP. I -II I. 29 

nation, the similarity between the two passages in Isaiah and 
the one under consideration is outweighed by the differences 
that exist between them. It is true that Isaiah gave his two 
sons names with symbolical meanings, and that in all probability 
by divine command ; but nothing is said about his having 
married his wife by the command of God, nor is the birth of 
the first-named son ever mentioned at all. Consequently, all 
that can be inferred from Isaiah is, that the symbolical names 
of the children of the prophet Hosea furnish no evidence 
against the outward reality of the marriage in question. Again, 
the objection, that the command to marry a wife of whoredoms, 
if understood as referring to an outward act, would be opposed 
to the divine holiness, and the divine command, that priests 
should not marry a harlot, cannot be taken as decisive. For 
what applied to priests cannot be transferred without reserve to 
prophets ; and the remark, which is quite correct in itself, that 
God as the Holy One could not command an immoral act, 
does not touch the case, but simply rests upon a misapprehen 
sion of the divine command, viz. upon the idea that God com 
manded the prophet to beget children with an immoral person 
without a lawful marriage, or that the " children of whoredom," 
whom Hosea was to take along with the " wife of whoredom," 
were the three children whom she bare to him (Hos. i. 3, 6, 8) ; 
in which case either the children begotten by the prophet are 
designated as " children of whoredom," or the wife continued 
her adulterous habits even after the prophet had married her, 
and bare to the prophet illegitimate children. But neither of 
these assumptions has any foundation in the text. The divine 
command, " Take thee a wife of whoredom, and children of 
whoredom," neither implies that the wife whom the prophet 
was to marry was living at that time in virgin chastity, and 
was called a wife of whoredom simply to indicate that, as the 
prophet s lawful w r ife, she would fall into adultery ; nor even 
that the children of whoredom whom the prophet was to take 
along with the wife of whoredom are the three children whose 
birth is recorded in ch. i. 3, 6, 8. The meaning is rather that 
the prophet is to take, along with the wife, the children whom 
she already had, and whom she had born as a harlot before her 
marriage with the prophet. If, therefore, we assume that the 
prophet was commanded to take this woman and her children, 

30 HOSEA. 

for the purpose, as Jerome has explained it, of rescuing the 
woman from her sinful course, and bringing up her neglected 
children under paternal discipline and care ; such a command 
as this would be by no means at variance with the holiness of 
God, but would rather correspond to the compassionate love of 
God, which accepts the lost sinner, and seeks to save him. 
And, as Kurtz has well shown, it cannot be objected to this, 
that by such a command and the prophet s obedience on his 
first entering upon his office, all the beneficial effects of that 
office would inevitably be frustrated. For if it were a well- 
known fact, that the woman whom the prophet married had 
hitherto been leading a profligate life, and if the prophet 
declared freely and openly that he had taken her as his wife 
for that very reason, and with this intention, according to the 
command of God ; the marriage, the shame of which the pro 
phet had taken upon himself in obedience to the command of 
God, and in self-denying love to his people, would be a practical 
and constant sermon to the nation, which might rather promote 
than hinder the carrying out of his official work. For he did 
with this woman what Jehovah was doing with Israel, to re 
veal to the nation its own sin in so impressive a manner, that 
it could not fail to recognise it in all its glaring and damnable 
character. But however satisfactorily the divine command 
could be vindicated on the supposition that this was its design, 
we cannot found any argument upon this in favour of the out 
ward reality of the prophet s marriage, for the simple reason 
that the supposed object is neither expressed nor hinted at in 
the text. According to the distinct meaning of the words, the 
prophet was to take a " wife of whoredom," for the simple 
purpose of begetting children by her, whose significant names 
were to set before the people the disastrous fruits of their spiri 
tual whoredom. The behaviour of the woman after the mar 
riage is no more the point in question than the children of 
whoredom whom the prophet was to take along with the woman; 
whereas this is what we should necessarily expect, if the object 
of the marriage commanded had been the reformation of the 
woman herself and of her illegitimate children. The very fact 
that, according to the distinct meaning of the words, there was 
no other object for the marriage than to beget children, who 
should receive significant names, renders the assumption of a 

CHAP. I.- III. 31 

real marriage, i.e. of a marriage outwardly contracted and 
consummated, very improbable. 

And this supposition becomes absolutely untenable in the 
case of ch. iii., where Jehovah says to the prophet (ver. 1)., 
" Go again, love a woman beloved by the husband, and com 
mitting adultery ;" and the prophet, in order to fulfil the divine 
command, purchases the woman for a certain price (ver. 2). 
The indefinite expression isshdh, a wife, instead of thy wife, 
or at any rate the wife, and still more the purchase of the 
woman, are quite sufficient of themselves to overthrow the 
opinion, that the prophet is here directed to seek out once more 
his former wife Gomer, who has been unfaithful, and has run 
away, and to be reconciled to her again. Ewald therefore 
observes, and Kurtz supports the assertion, that the pronoun in 
" I bought her to me," according to the simple meaning of the 
words, cannot refer to any adulteress you please who had left 
her husband, but must refer to one already known, and there 
fore points back to ch. i. But with such paralogisms as these 
we may insert all kinds of things in the text of Scripture. The 
suffix in !7?.?*?3> " I bought her" (ver. 2), simply refers to the 
" woman beloved of her friend" mentioned in ver. 1, and does 
not prove in the remotest degree, that the " woman beloved of 
her friend, yet an adulteress," is the same person as the Gomer 
mentioned in ch. i. The indefiniteness of isshdh without the 
article, is neither removed by the fact that, in the further 
course of the narrative, this (indefinite) woman is referred to 
again, nor by the examples adduced by Kurtz, viz. 3.r n 5 ! in ch. 
iv. 11, and ttf ^ntf "=]?? in ch. v. 11, since any linguist knows 
that these are examples of a totally different kind. The per 
fectly indefinite n$s receives, no doubt, a more precise defini 
tion from the predicates nasjm jn ronx, so that we cannot 
understand it as meaning any adulteress whatever ; but it 
receives no such definition as would refer back to ch. i. A 
woman beloved of her friend, i.e. of her husband, and com 
mitting adultery, is a woman who, although beloved by her 
husband, or notwithstanding the love shown to her by her 
husband, commits adultery. Through the participles rnntf and 
nSK3E ? the love of the friend (or husband), and the adultery of 
the wife, are represented as contemporaneous, in precisely the 
same manner as in the explanatory clauses which follow : " as 

32 HOSEA. 

Jehovah loveth the children of Israel, and they turn to other 
gods !" If the isshdh thus defined had been the Gomer men 
tioned in ch. i., the divine command would necessarily have 
been thus expressed : either, " Go, and love again the wife 
beloved by her husband, who has committed adultery ;" or, 
" Love again thy wife, who is still loved by her husband, 
although she has committed adultery." But it is quite as evi 
dent that this thought cannot be contained in the words of the 
text, as that out of two co-ordinate participles it is impossible 
that the one should have the force of the future or present, and 
the other that of the pluperfect. Nevertheless, Kurtz has 
undertaken to prove the possibility of the impossible. He 
observes, first of all, that we are not justified, of course, in 
giving to " love" the meaning " love again," as Hofmann does, 
because the husband has never ceased to love his wife, in spite 
of her adultery ; but for all that, the explanation, restitue 
amoris signa (restore the pledges of affection), is the only 
intelligible one ; since it cannot be the love itself, but only the 
manifestation of love, that is here referred to. But the idea 
of " again" cannot be smuggled into the text by any such 
arbitrary distinction as this. There is nothing in the text to 
the effect that the husband had not ceased to love his wife, in 
spite of her adultery ; and this is simply an inference drawn 
from ch. ii. 11, through the identification of the prophet with 
Jehovah, and the tacit assumption that the prophet had with 
drawn from Gomer the expressions of his love, of all which 
there is not a single syllable in ch. i. This assumption, and 
the inference drawn from it, would only be admissible, if the 
identity of the woman, beloved by her husband and committing 
adultery, with the prophet s wife Gomer, were an established 
fact. But so long as this is not proved, the argument merely 
moves in a circle, assuming the thing to be demonstrated as 
already proved. But even granting that " love" were equiva 
lent to " love again," or " manifest thy love again to a woman 
beloved of her husband, and committing adultery," this could 
not mean the same thing as " go to thy former wife, and prove 
to her by word and deed the continuance of thy love," so long 
as, according to the simplest rules of logic, " a wife" is not 
equivalent to " thy wife." And according to sound logical 
rules, the identity of the isshdh in ch. iii. 1 and the Gomer of 

CHAP. I.-III. 33 

ch. i. 3 cannot be inferred from the fact that the expression 
used in ch. iii. 1 is, " Go love a woman," and not " Go take a 
wife," or from the fact that in ch. i. 2 the woman is simply 
called a whore, not an adulteress, whereas in ch. iii. 1 she is 
described as an adulteress, not as a whore. The words " love 
a woman," as distinguished from " take a wife," may indeed be 
understood, apart from the connection with ver. 2, as implying 
that the conclusion of a marriage is alluded to ; but they can 
never denote " the restoration of a marriage bond that had ex 
isted before," as Kurtz supposes. And the distinction between 
ch. i. 2, where the woman is described as " a woman of whore 
dom," and ch. iii. 1, where she is called " an adulteress," points 
far more to a distinction between Gomer and the adulterous 
woman, than to their identity. 

But ch. iii. 2, " I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of 
silver," etc., points even more than ch. iii. 1 to a difference 
between the women in ch. i. and ch. iii. The verb kdrdh, to 
purchase or acquire by trading, presupposes that the woman 
had not yet been in the prophet s possession. The only way in 
which Kurtz is able to evade this conclusion, is by taking the 
fifteen pieces of silver mentioned in ver. 2, not as the price 
paid by the prophet to purchase the woman as his wife, but in 
total disregard of rp!?K ""^J, in ch. iii. 3, as the cost of her main 
tenance, which the prophet gave to the woman for the period of 
her detention, during which she was to sit, and not go with any 
man. But the arbitrary nature of this explanation is apparent 
at once. According to the reading of the words, the prophet 
bought the woman to himself for fifteen pieces of silver and an 
ephah and a half of barley, i.e. bought her to be his wife, and 
then said to her, " Thou shalt sit for me many days ; thou shalt 
not play the harlot," etc. There is not only not a word in 
ch. iii. about his having assigned her the amount stated for 
her maintenance ; but it cannot be inferred from ch. ii. 9, 11, 
because there it is not the prophet s wife who is referred to, bat 
Israel personified as a harlot and adulteress. And that what 
is there affirmed concerning Israel cannot be applied without 
reserve to explain the symbolical description in ch. iii., is evident 
from the simple fact, that the conduct of Jehovah towards Israel 
is very differently described in ch. ii., from the course which the 
prophet is said to have observed towards his wife in ch. iii. 3. 

VOL. i. c 

34 HOSEA. 

In en. ii. 7, the adulterous woman (Israel) says, " I will go and 
return to my former husband, for then was it better with me 
than now ;" and Jehovah replies to this (ch. ii. 8, 9), " Because 
she has not discovered that I gave her corn and new wine, etc. ; 
therefore will I return, and take away my corn from her in the 
season thereof, and my wine," etc. On the other hand, accord 
ing to the view adopted by Kurtz, the prophet took his wife 
back again because she felt remorse, and assigned her the neces 
sary maintenance for many days. 

From all this it follows, that by the woman spoken of in 
ch. iii., we cannot understand the wife Gomer mentioned in 
ch. i. The " wife beloved of the companion (i.e. of her hus 
band), and committing adultery," is a different person from 
the daughter of Diblathaim, by whom the prophet had three 
children (ch. i.). If, then, the prophet really contracted and 
consummated the marriage commanded by God, we must adopt 
the explanation already favoured by the earlier commentators, 
viz. that in the interval between ch. i. and ch. iii. Gomer had 
either died, or been put away by her husband because she would 
not repent. But we are only warranted in adopting such a 
solution as this, provided that the assumption of a marriage 
consummated outwardly either has been or can be conclusively 
established. And as this is not the case, we are not at liberty 
to supply things at which the text does not even remotely hint. 
If, then, in accordance with the text, we must understand the 
divine commands in ch. i. and iii. as relating to two successive 
marriages on the part of the prophet with unchaste women, 
every probability is swept away that the command of God and 
its execution by the prophet fall within the sphere of external 
reality. For even if, in case of need, the first command, as ex 
plained above, could be vindicated as worthy of God, the same 
vindication would not apply to the command to contract a 
second marriage of a similar kind. The very end which God 
is supposed to have had in view in the command to contract 
such a marriage as this, could only be attained by one marriage. 
But if Hosea had no sooner dissolved the first marriage, 
than he proceeded to conclude a second with a person in still 
worse odour, no one would ever have believed that he did this 
also in obedience to the command of God. And the divine 
command itself to contract this second marriage, if it was 

CHAP. I.-III. 3* 

intended to be actually consummated, would be quite irrecon 
cilable with the holiness of God. For even if God could com 
mand a man to marry a harlot, for the purpose of rescuing her 
from her life of sin and reforming her, it would certainly be 
at variance with the divine holiness, to command the prophet 
to marry a person who had either broken the marriage vow 
already, or who would break it, notwithstanding her husband s 
love; since God, as the Holy One, cannot possibly sanction 
adultery. 1 Consequently no other course is left to us, than to 
picture to ourselves Hosea s marriages as internal events, i.t> 
as merely carried out in that inward and spiritual intuition in 
which the word of God was addressed to him ; and this removes 
all the difficulties that beset the assumption of marriages con 
tracted in outward realit} 7 . In occurrences which merely hap 
pened to a prophet in spiritual intercourse with God, not only 
would all reflections as to their being worthy or not worthy of 
God be absent, when the prophet related them to the people, 
for the purpose of impressing their meaning upon their hearts, 
inasmuch as it was simply their significance, which came into 
consideration and was to be laid to heart ; but this would also 
be the case with the other difficulties to which the external view 
is exposed such, for example, as the questions, why the prophet 
was to take not only a woman of whoredom, but children of 
whoredom also, when they are never referred to again in the 
course of the narrative ; or what became of Gomer, whether 
she was dead, or had been put away, when the prophet was 
commanded the second time to love an adulterous woman since 
the sign falls back behind the thing signified. 

But if, according to this, we must regard the marriages 

1 This objection to the outward consummation of the prophet s marriage 
cannot be deprived of its force by the remark made by the older Rivetus, 
to the effect that " things which are dishonourable in themselves, cannot 
be honourable in vision, or when merely imaginary." For there is an 
essential difference between a merely symbolical representation, and the 
actual performance of anything. The instruction given to a prophet to 
Bet forth a sin in a symbolical form, for the purpose of impressing upon 
the hearts of the people its abominable character, and the punishment it 
deserved, is not at variance with the holiness of God ; whereas the com 
mand to commit a sin would be. God, as the Holy One, cannot abolish 
the laws of morality, or command anything actually immoral, without 
contradicting Himself, or denying His own nature. 

36 HOSEA. 

enjoined upon the prophet as simply facts of inward experience, 
which took place in his own spiritual intuition, we must not set 
them down as nothing more than parables which he related to 
the people, or as poetical fictions, since such assumptions as 
these are at variance with the words themselves, and reduce the 
statement, " God said to Hosea," to an unmeaning rhetorical 
phrase. The inward experience has quite as much reality and 
truth as the outward ; whereas a parable or a poetical fiction 
has simply a certain truth, so far as the subjective imagination 
is concerned, but no reality. 

Ch. i. 1 contains the heading to the whole of the book of 
Hosea, the contents of which have already been discussed in the 
Introduction, and defended against the objections that have 
been raised, so that there is no tenable ground for refusing 
to admit its integrity and genuineness. The t e chillath dibber- 
Y e hovdh with which ver. 2 introduces the prophecy, necessarily 
presupposes a heading announcing the period of the prophet s 
ministry ; and the " twisted, un-Hebrew expression," which 
Hitzig properly finds to be so objectionable in the translation, 
" in the days of Jeroboam, etc., was the commencement of 
Jehovah s speaking," etc., does not prove that the heading is 
spurious, but simply that Hitzig s construction is false, i.e. that 
t e chillath dibber- Y e hovd/i is not in apposition to ver. 1, but the 
heading in ver. 1 contains an independent statement; whilst 
the notice as to time, with which ver. 2 opens, does not belong 
to the heading of the whole book, but simply to the prophecy 
which follows in ch. i.-iii. 


2-n. 3. 

For the purpose of depicting before the eyes of the sinful 
people the judgment to which Israel has exposed itself through 
its apostasy from the Lord, Hosea is to marry a prostitute, and 
beget children by her, whose names are so appointed by Jeho 
vah as to point out the evil fruits of the departure from God. 
Ver. 2. " At first, when Jehovah spake to Hosea, Jehovah said 
to him, Go, take thee a wife of tvhoredom, and children of whore 
dom ; for whoring the land whoreth away from Jehovah." The 
marriage which the prophet is commanded to contract, is to 

CHAP. I. 2. 37 

set forth the fact that the kingdom of Israel has fallen away 
from the Lord its God, and is sunken in idolatry. Hosea is to 
commence his prophetic labours by exhibiting this fact, nVnn 
/M "JS i [: literally, "at the commencement of Jehovah spake, " 
i.e. at the commencement of Jehovah s speaking (dibber is not 
an infinitive, but a perfect, and t e c7iillath an accusative of time 
(Ges. 118, 2) ; and through the constructive the following 
clause is subordinated to t e chillath as a substantive idea : see 
Ges. 123, 3, Anm. 1 ; Ewald, 332, c.). "isn with 3, not to 
speak to a person, or through any one (3 is not = ^), but 
to speak with (lit. in) a person, expressive of the inwardness 
or urgency of the speaking (cf. Num. xii. 6, 8 ; Hab. ii. 1 ; 
Zech. i. 9, etc.). "Take to thyself:" i.e. marry (a wife). 
D^UT riK>N is stronger than HijiT. A woman of whoredom, is a 
woman whose business or means of livelihood consists in pro 
stitution. Along with the woman, Hosea is to take children of 
prostitution as well. The meaning of this is, of course, not 
that he is first of all to take the woman, and then beget chil 
dren of prostitution by her, which would require that the two 
objects should be connected with Hj? per zeugma, in the sense of 
" accipe uxorem et suscipe ex ea liberos" (Drus.), or " sume tibi 
uxorem forn. etfac tibi filios forn." (Vulg.). The children be 
gotten by the prophet from a married harlot-wife, could not be 
called yalde z e nunlm, since they were not illegitimate children, 
but legitimate children of the prophet himself ; nor is the 
assumption, that the three children born by the woman, ac 
cording to vers. 3, 6, 8, were born in adultery, and that the 
prophet was not their father, in harmony with ver. 3, " he took 
Gomer, and she conceived and bare him a son." Nor can this 
mode of escaping from the difficulty, which is quite at variance 
with the text, be vindicated by an appeal to the connection 
between the figure and the fact. For though this connection 
" necessarily requires that both the children and the mother 
should stand in the same relation of estrangement from the 
lawful husband and father," as Hengstenberg argues ; it 
neither requires that we should assume that the mother had 
been a chaste virgin before her marriage to the prophet, nor 
that the children whom she bare to her husband were begotten 
in adultery, and merely palmed off upon the prophet as his 
own. The marriage which the prophet was to contract, was 

38 HOSEA. 

simply intended to symbolize the relation already existing be 
tween Jehovah and Israel, and not the way in which it had 
come into existence. The " wife of whoredoms " does not re 
present the nation of Israel in its virgin state at the conclusion 
of the covenant at Sinai, but the nation of the ten tribes in its 
relation to Jehovah at the time of the prophet himself, when 
the nation, considered as a whole, had become a wife of whore 
dom, and in its several members resembled children of whore 
dom. The reference to the children of whoredom, along with 
the wife of whoredom, indicates unquestionably a priori, that 
the divine command did not contemplate an actual and out 
ward marriage, but simply a symbolical representation of the 
relation in which the idolat mis Israelites were then standing to 
the Lord their God. The explanatory clause, " for the land 
whoreth," etc., clearly points to this. HNfJ, " the land," for the 
population of the land (cf. ch. iv. 1). " *?.** "% to whore 
from Jehovah, i.e. to fall away from Him (see at ch. iv. 12). 

Ver. 3. "And lie went and took Gomer, the daughter of 
Diblaim; and she conceived, and bare him a son" Gomer does 
indeed occur in Gen. x. 2, 3, as the name of a people ; but we 
never meet with it as the name of either a man or a woman, 
and judging from the analogy of the names of her children, 
it is chosen with reference to the meaning of the word itself. 
Gomer signifies perfection, completion in a passive sense, and 
is not meant to indicate destruction or death (Chald. Marck), 
but the fact that the woman was thoroughly perfected in her 
whoredom, or that she had gone to the furthest length in prosti 
tution. Diblaim, also, does not occur again as a proper name, 
except in the names of Moabitish places in Num. xxxiii. 46 
( f Almon-diblathaim) and Jer. xlviii. 22 (Beth-diblathaim) ; it is 
formed from d e bheldh, like the form Ephraim, and in the sense 
of d e bhellm, fig-cakes. " Daughter of fig-cakes," equivalent to 
liking fig-cakes, in the same sense as "loving grape-cakes" in 
ch. iii. 1, viz. deliciis dedita. 1 The symbolical interpretation of 
these names is not affected by the fact that they are not ex 
plained, like those of the children in vers. 4 sqq., since this 

1 This is essentially the interpretation given by Jerome : " Therefore ia 
a wife taken out of Israel by Hosea, as the type of the Lord and Saviour, 
viz. one accomplished in fornication, and a perfect daughter of pleasure 
(filia voluptatis^ which seems so sweet and pleasant to those who enjoy it." 

CHAP. I. 4. 39 

may be accounted for very simply from the circumstance, 
that the woman does not now receive the names for the first 
time, but that she had them at the time when the prophet 
married her. 

Ver. 4. "And Jehovah said to him, Call his name Jezreel; 
for yet a little, and I visit the blood of Jezreel upon the house of 
Jehu, and put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel" 
The prophet is directed by God as to the names to be given to 
his children, because the children, as the fruit of the marriage, 
as well as the marriage itself, are instructive signs for the idola 
trous Israel of the ten tribes. The first son is named Jezreel, 
after the fruitful plain of Jezreel on the north side of the 
Kishon (see at Josh. xvii. 16) ; not, however, with any refer 
ence to the appellative meaning of the name, viz. " God sows," 
which is first of all alluded to in the announcement of salvation 
in ch. ii. 24, 25, but, as the explanation which follows clearly 
shows, on account of the historical importance which this plain 
possessed for Israel, and that not merely as the place where the 
last penal judgment of God was executed in the kingdom of 
Israel, as Hengstenberg supposes, but on account of the blood- 
guiltiness of Jezreel, i.e. because Israel had there contracted 
such blood-guiltiness as was now speedily to be avenged upon 
the house of Jehu. At the city of Jezreel, which stood in this 
plain, Ahab had previously filled up the measure of his sin by 
the ruthless murder of Naboth, and had thus brought upon 
himself that blood-guiltiness for which he had been threatened 
with the extermination of all his house (1 Kings xxi. 19 sqq.). 
Then, in order to avenge the blood of all His servants the 
prophets, which Ahab and Jezebel had shed, the Lord directed 
Elisha to anoint Jehu king, with a commission to destroy the 
whole of Ahab s house (2 Kings ix. 1 sqq.). Jehu obeyed this 
command. Not only did he slay the son of Ahab, viz. king 
Joram, and cause his body to be thrown upon the portion of 
land belonging to Naboth the Jezreelite, appealing at the same 
time to the word of the Lord (2 Kings ix. 21-26), but he also 
executed the divine judgment upon Jezebel, upon the seventy 
sons of Ahab, and upon all the rest of the house of Ahab (ch. 
ix. 30-x. 17), and received the following promise from Jehovah 
in consequence : " Because thou hast done well in executing 
that which is right in mine eyes, because thou hast done to the 

40 HOSEA. 

house of Ahab according to all that was in mine heart, sons of 
thine of the fourth generation shall sit upon the throne of 
Israel" (ch. x. 30). It is evident from this that the blood- 
guiltiness of Jezreel, which was to be avenged upon the house 
of Jehu, is not to be sought for in the fact that Jehu had there 
exterminated the house of Ahab; nor, as Hitzig supposes, in the 
fact that he had not contented himself with slaying Joram and 
Jezebel, but had also put Ahaziah of Judah and his brethren to 
death (2 Kings ix. 27, x. 14), and directed the massacre de 
scribed in ch. x. 11. For an act which God praises, and for 
which He gives a promise to the performer, cannot be in itself 
an act of blood-guiltiness. And the slaughter of Ahaziah and 
his brethren by Jehu, though not expressly commanded, is not 
actually blamed in the historical account, because the royal 
family of Judah had been drawn into the ungodliness of the 
house of Ahab, through its connection by marriage with that 
dynasty; and Ahaziah and his brethren, as the sons of Athaliah, 
a daughter of Ahab, belonged both in descent and disposi 
tion to the house of Ahab (2 Kings viii. 18, 26, 27), so that, 
according to divine appointment, they were to perish with it. 
Many expositors, therefore, understand by " the blood of Jez- 
reel," simply the many acts of unrighteousness and cruelty 
which the descendants of Jehu had committed in Jezreel, or 
"the grievous sins of all kinds committed in the palace, the 
city, and the nation generally, which were to be expiated by 
blood, and demanded as it were the punishment of bloodshed" 
(Marck). But we have no warrant for generalizing the idea 
of d e me in this way ; more especially as the assumption upon 
which the explanation is founded, viz. that Jezreel was the 
royal residence of the kings of the house of Jehu, not only 
cannot be sustained, but is at variance with 2 Kings xv. 8, 13, 
where Samaria is unquestionably described as the royal resi 
dence in the times of Jeroboam II. and his son Zechariah. 
The blood-guiltinesses (d e me) at Jezreel can only be those which 
Jehu contracted at Jezreel, viz. the deeds of blood recorded in 
2 Kings ix. and x., by which Jehu opened the way for himself 
to the throne, since there are no others mentioned. The ap 
parent discrepancy, however, that whereas the extermination of 
the royal family of Ahab by Jehu is commended by God in the 
second book of Kings, and Jehu is promised the possession of 

CHAP. I. 4. 41 

tlie throne even to the fourth generation of his sons in 
consequence, in the passage before us the very same act is 
charged against him as an act of blood-guiltiness that has to 
be punished, may be solved very simply by distinguishing 
between the act in itself, and the motive by which Jehu was 
instigated. In itself, i.e. regarded as the fulfilment of the 
divine command, the extermination of the family of Ahab was 
an act by which Jehu could not render himself criminal. But 
even things desired or commanded by God may become crimes in 
the case of the performer of them, when he is not simply carry 
ing out the Lord s will as the servant of God, but suffers him 
self to be actuated by evil and selfish motives, that is to say, 
when he abuses the divine command, and makes it the mere 
cloak for the lusts of his own evil heart. That Jehu was 
actuated by such motives as this, is evident enough from the 
verdict of the historian in 2 Kings x. 29, 31,. that Jehu did 
indeed exterminate Baal out of Israel, but that he did not 
depart from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, from 
the golden calves at Bethel and Dan, to walk in the law of 
Jehovah the God of Israel with all his heart. " The massacre, 
therefore," as Calvin has very correctly affirmed, " was a crime 
so far as Jehu was concerned, but with God it was righteous 
vengeance." Even if Jehu did not make use of the divine 
command as a mere pretext for carrying out the plans of 
his own ambitious heart, the massacre itself became an act 
of blood -guiltiness that called for vengeance, from the fact 
that he did not take heed to walk in the law of God with all 
his heart, but continued the worship of the calves, that funda 
mental sin of all the kings of the ten tribes. For this reason, 
the possession of the throne was only promised to him with a 
restriction to sons of the fourth generation. On the other 
hand, it is no argument against this, that " the act referred to 
cannot be regarded as the chief crime of Jehu and his hous^" 
or that " the bloody act, to which the house of Jehu owed its 
elevation, never appears elsewhere as the cause of the cata 
strophe which befell this house ; but in the case of all the 
members of his family, the only sin to which prominence is 
given in the books of Kings, is that they did not depart from 
the sins of Jeroboam (2 Kings xiii. 2, 11, xiv. 24, xv. 9)." 
(Hengstenberg). For even though this sin in connection with 

42 HOSEA. 

religion may be the only one mentioned in the books of Kings, 
according to the plan of the author of those books, and though 
this may really have been the principal act of sin; it was 
through that sin that the bloody deeds of Jehu became such 
a crime as cried to heaven for vengeance, like the sin of Ahab, 
and such an one also as Hosea could describe as the blood- 
guiltiness of Jezreel, which the Lord would avenge upon the 
house of Jehu at Jezreel, since the object in this case was 
not to enumerate all the sins of Israel, and the fact that the 
apostasy of the ten tribes, which is condemned in the book of 
Kings as the sin of Jeroboam, is represented here under the 
image of whoredom, shows very clearly that the evil root alone 
is indicated, out of which all the sins sprang that rendered the 
kingdom ripe for destruction. Consequently, it is not merely 
the fall of the existing dynasty which is threatened here, but 
also the suppression of the kingdom of Israel. The " kingdom 
of the house of Israel " is obviously not the sovereignty of the 
house of Jehu in Israel, but the regal sovereignty in Israel. 
And to this the Lord will put an end WD ? i.e. in a short time. 
The extermination of the house of Jehu occurred not long after 
the death of Jeroboam, when his son was murdered in connec 
tion with Shallum s conspiracy (2 Kings xv. 8 sqq.). And the 
strength of the kingdom was also paralyzed when the house of 
Jehu fell, although fifty years elapsed before its complete de 
struction. For of the five kings who followed Zechariah, only 
one, viz. Menahem, died a natural death, and was succeeded by 
his son. The rest were all dethroned and murdered by con 
spirators, so that the overthrow of the house of Jehu may very 
well be called " the beginning of the end, the commencement 
of the process of decomposition" (Hengstenberg : compare the 
remarks on 2 Kings xv. 10 sqq.). 

Ver. 5. "And it cometh to pass in that day, that I break in 
pieces the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel" The indication 
of time, " in that day," refers not to the overthrow of the 
house of Jehu, but to the breaking up of the kingdom of Israel, 
by which it was followed. The bow of Israel, i.e. its might (for 
the bow, as the principal weapon employed in war, is a synec- 
dochical epithet, used to denote the whole of the military force 
upon which the continued existence of the kingdom depended 
( Jer. xlix. 35), and is also a symbol of strength generally ; vid. 

CHAP. i. a. 43 

Gen. xlix. 24, 1 Sam. ii. 4), is to be broken to pieces in the 
valley of Jezreel. The paronomasia between Israel and Jezreel 
is here unmistakeable. And here again Jezreel is not intro 
duced with any allusion to its appellative signification, i.e. so that 
the mention of the name itself is intended to indicate the dis 
persion or breaking up of the nation, but simply with reference 
to its natural character, as the great plain in which, from time 
immemorial, even down to the most recent period, all the great 
battles have been fought for the possession of the laud (cf. v. 
Raumer, Pal. pp. 40, 41). The nation which the Lord had 
appointed to be the instrument of His judgment is not men 
tioned here. But the fulfilment shows that the Assyrians are 
intended, although the brief historical account given in the 
books of Kings does not notice the place in which the Assyrians 
gained the decisive victory over Israel ; and the statement made 
by Jerome, to the effect that it was in the valley of Jezreel, is 
probably simply an inference drawn from this passage. 

With the name of the first child, Jezreel, the prophet had, 
as it were with a single stroke, set before the king and the 
kingdom generally the destruction that awaited them. In 
order, however, to give further keenness to this threat, and cut 
off every hope of deliverance, he now announces two other 
births. Ver. 6. "And she conceived again, and bare a daughter. 
And He (Jehovah) said to him, Call her name Unfavoured ; for 
I icill no more favour the house of Israel, that 1 should forgive 
them" The second birth is a female one, not in order to sym 
bolize a more degenerate race, or the greater need of help on 
the part of the nation, but to get a name answering to the idea, 
and to set forth, under the figure of sons and daughters, the 
totality of the nation, both men and women. Lo ruchdmdh, 
lit. she is not favoured ; for ruchdmdh is hardly a participle 
with the D dropped, since &6 is never found in close connection 
with the participle (Ewald, 320, c.), but rather the third pers. 
perf. fern, in the pausal form. The child receives this name to 
indicate that the Lord will not continue (*TDiN) to show com 
passion towards the rebellious nation, as He hitherto has done, 
even under Jeroboam n. (2 Kings xiii. 23.) For the purpose 
of strengthening Drnx a6 ? the clause W KM *3 is added. This 
can hardly be understood in any other way than in the sense 
of p pv KKO, viz. to take away sin or guilt, i.e. to forgive it (cf. 

44 HOSEA. 

Gen. xviii. 24, 26, etc.). The explanation, " I will take away 
from them, sc. everything" (Hengstenberg), has no tenable 
support in ch. v. 14, because there the object to be supplied is 
contained in the context, and here this is not the case. 

Ver. 7. " And I will favour the house of Judah, and save 
them through Jehovah their God ; and I will not save them through 
bow, and sword, and war, through horses and through horsemen" 
By a reference to the opposite lot awaiting Judah, all false 
trust in the mercy of God is taken away from the Israelites. 
From the fact that deliverance is promised to the kingdom of 
Judah through Jehovah its God, Israel is to learn that Jehovah 
is no longer its own God, but that He has dissolved His cove 
nant with the idolatrous race. The expression, " through 
Jehovah their God," instead of the pronoun " through me" 
(as, for example, in Gen. xix. 24), is introduced with special 
emphasis, to show that Jehovah only extends His almighty help 
to those who acknowledge and worship Him as their God. 1 And 
what follows, viz. " I will not save them by bow," etc., also 
serves to sharpen the punishment with which the Israelites are 
threatened ; for it not only implies that the Lord does not stand 
in need of weapons of war and military force, in order to help 
and save, but that these earthly resources, on which Israel 
relied (ch. x. 13), could afford no defence or deliverance from 
the enemies who would come upon it. Milchdmdh, " war," in 
connection with bow and sword, does not stand for weapons of 
Avar, but " embraces everything belonging to war the skill of 
the commanders, the bravery of heroes, the strength of the 
army itself, and so forth" (Hengstenberg). Horses and horse 
men are specially mentioned, because they constituted the main 
strength of an army at that time. Lastly, whilst the threat 
against Israel, and the promise made to Judah, refer primarily, 
as ch. ii. 13 clearly show, to the time immediately approaching, 
when the judgment was to burst upon the kingdom of the ten 
tribes, that is to say, to that attack upon Israel and Judah on 

1 " The antithesis is to be preserved here between false gods and Jehovah, 
who was the God of the house of Judah. For it is just as if the prophet 
had said : Ye do indeed put forward the name of God ; but ye worship the 
devil, and not God. For ye have no part in Jehovah, i.e. in that God who 
is the Creator of heaven and earth. For He dwells in His temple ; He has 
bound up His faith with David," etc. CALVIN. 

CHAP. I. 8-10. 45 

the part of the imperial power of Assyria, to which Israel suc 
cumbed, whilst Judah was miraculously delivered (2 Kings 
xix. ; Isa. xxxvii.) ; it has also a meaning which applies to all 
times, namely, that whoever forsakes the living God, will fall 
into destruction, and cannot reckon upon the mercy of God in 
the time of need. 

Vers. 8, 9. " And she weaned Unfavoured, and conceived, 
and bare a son. And He said, Call his name No t-my -people ; 
for ye are not my people, and I icill not be yours" If wean 
ing is mentioned not merely for the sake of varying the ex 
pression, but with a deliberate meaning, it certainly cannot 
indicate the continued patience of God with the rebellious 
nation, as Calvin supposes, but rather implies the uninter 
rupted succession of the calamities set forth by the names of 
the children. As soon as the Lord ceases to compassionate the 
rebellious tribes, the state of rejection ensues, so that they are 
no longer " my people," and Jehovah belongs to them no more. 
In the last clause, the words pass with emphasis into the second 
person, or direct address, " I will not be to you," i.e. will no 
more belong to you (cf. Ps. cxviii. 6 ; Ex. xix. 5 ; Ezek. xvi. 8). 
We need not supply Eloliim here, and we may not weaken 
ti-fy n .Vl*? ** into " no more help you, or come to your aid." 
For the fulfilment, see 2 Kings xvii. 18. 

Vers. 10, 11 (Heb. Bib. ch. ii. 1-3). To the symbolical 
action, which depicts the judgment that falls blow after blow 
upon the ten tribes, issuing in the destruction of the kingdom, 
and the banishment of its inhabitants, there is now appended, 
quite abruptly, the saving announcement of the final restoration 
of those who turn to the Lord. 1 

Ver. 10 (Heb. Bib. ch. ii. 1). " And the number of the sons 

1 The division adopted in the Hebrew text, where these verses are 
separated from the preceding ones, and joined to the next verse, is opposed 
to the general arrangement of the prophetic proclamations, which always 
begin with reproving the sins, then describe the punishment or judgment, 
and close with the announcement of salvation. The division adopted by 
the LXX. and Vulg., and followed by Luther (and Eng. ver. : TR.), in 
-which these two verses form part of the first chapter, and the new chapter 
is made to commence with ver. 3 (of the Hebrew), on account of its simi 
larity to ver. 4, is still more unsuitable, since this severs the close connection 
between the subject-matter of ver. 2 and that of ver. 3 in the most un 
natural way. 

46 HOSEA. 

of Israel will be as the sand of the sea, which is not measured and 
not counted; and it will come to pass at the place where men say 
to them. Ye are not my people, it will be said to them, Sons of the 
living God" It might appear as though the promise made to 
the patriarchs, of the innumerable increase of Israel, were 
abolished by the rejection of the ten tribes of Israel predicted 
here. But this appearance, which might confirm the ungodly 
in their false security, is met by the proclamation of salvation, 
which we must connect by means of a " nevertheless" with the 
preceding announcement of punishment. The almost verbal 
agreement between this announcement of salvation and the 
patriarchal promises, more especially in Gen. xxii. 17 and xxxii. 
13, does indeed naturally suggest the idea, that by the " sons 
of Israel," whose innumerable increase is here predicted, we 
are to understand all the descendants of Jacob or of Israel as a 
whole. But if we notice the second clause, according to which 
those who are called " not-my-people" will then be called "sons 
of the living God ;" and still more, if we observe the distinction 
drawn between the sons of Israel and the sons of Judah in 
ver. 11, this idea is proved to be quite untenable, since the 
" sons of Israel" can only be the ten tribes. We must assume, 
therefore, that the prophet had in his mind only one portion of 
the entire nation, namely, the one with which alone he was here 
concerned, and that he proclaims that, even with regard to this, 
the promise in question will one day be fulfilled. In what way, 
is stated in the second clause. At the place where (1PK Dippn 
does not mean " instead of" or " in the place of," as the Latin 
loco does ; cf. Lev. iv. 24, 33 ; Jer. xxii. 12 ; Ezek. xxi. 35 ; Neh. 
iv. 14) men called them Lo-amml, they shall be called sons of 
the living God. This place must be either Palestine, where 
their rejection was declared by means of this name, or the land 
of exile, where this name became an actual truth. The correct 
ness of the latter view, which is the one given in the Chaldee, 
is proved by ver. 11, where their coming up out of the land of 
exile is spoken of, from which it is evident that the change is 
to take place in exile. Jehovah is called El chai, the living 
God, in opposition to the idols which idolatrous Israel had made 
for itself; and " sons of the living God" expresses the thought, 
that Israel would come again into the right relation to the true 
God, and reach the goal of its divine calling. For the whole 

CHAP. I. 11. 47 

nation was called and elevated into the position of sons of 
Jehovah, through its reception into the covenant with the Lord 
(compare Deut. xiv. 1, xxxii. 19, with Ex. iv. 22). 

The restoration of Israel will be followed by its return to 
the Lord. Ver. 11. "And the sons of Judali and the sons of 
Israel gather together, and appoint themselves one head, and come 
up out of the land; for great is the day ofJezreel" The gather 
ing together, i.e. the union of Judah and Israel, presupposes 
that Judah will find itself in the same situation as Israel ; that 
is to say, that it will also be rejected by the Lord. The object 
of the union is to appoint themselves one head, and go up out 
of the land. The words of the two clauses recal to mind the 
departure of the twelve tribes of Israel out of Egypt. The 
expression, to appoint themselves a head, which resembles Num. 
xiv. 4, where the rebellious congregation is about to appoint 
itself a head to return to Egypt, points back to Moses ; and the 
phrase, " going up out of the land," is borrowed from Ex. i. 10, 
which also serves to explain ptfn with the definite article. The 
correctness of this view is placed beyond all doubt by ch. ii. 14, 
15, where the restoration of rejected Israel is compared to 
leading it through the desert to Canaan ; and a parallel is 
drawn between it and the leading up out of Egypt in the olden 
time. It is true that the banishment of the sons of Israel out 
of Canaan is not predicted disertis verbis in what precedes ; 
but it followed as clearly as possible from the banishment into 
the land of their enemies, with which even Moses had threat 
ened the people in the case of continued apostasy (Lev. xxvi. 
and Deut. xxviii.). Moses had, in fact, already described the 
banishment of rebellious Israel among the heathen in so many 
words, as carrying them back into Egypt (Deut. xxviii. 68), 
and had thereby intimated that Egypt was the type of the 
heathen world, in the midst of which Israel was to be scattered 
abroad. On the basis of these threatenings of the law, Hosea 
also threatens ungodly Ephraim with a return to Egypt in ch. 
viii. 13 and ch. ix. 3. And just as in these passages Egypt is 
a type of the heathen lands, into which Israel is to be driven 
away on account of its apostasy from the Lord ; so, in the 
passage before us, Canaan, to which Israel is to be led up out 
of Egypt, is a type of the land of the Lord, and the guidance 
of them to Canaan a figurative representation of the reunion of 

48 HOSEA. 

Israel with its God, and of its reinstatement in the full enjoy 
ment of the blessings of salvation, which are shadowed forth 
in the fruits and productions of Canaan. (For further remarks, 
see vers. 14, 15.) Another point to be noticed is the use of 
the word eclidd, one (single) head, i.e. one prince or king. The 
division of the nation into two kingdoms is to cease ; and the 
house of Israel is to turn again to Jehovah, and to its king 
David (ch. iii. 5). The reason assigned for this promise, in the 
words " for great is (w r ill be) the day of Jezreel," causes no 
little difficulty ; and this cannot be removed by giving a dif 
ferent meaning to the name Jezreel, on the ground of vers. 24, 
25, from that which it has in ch. i. 4, 5. The day of Jezreel 
can only be the day on which the might of Israel was broken 
in the valley of Jezreel, and the kingdom of the house of Israel 
was brought to an end (ch. i. 4). This day is called great, i.e. 
important, glorious, because of its effects and consequences in 
relation to Israel. The destruction of the might of the ten 
tribes, the cessation of their kingdom, and their expulsion into 
exile, form the turning-point, through which the conversion of 
the rebellious to the Lord, and their reunion with Judah, are 
rendered possible. The appellative meaning of ^H|3j to which 
there was no allusion at all in ch. i. 4, 5, is still kept in the 
background to a great extent even here, and only so far slightly 
hinted at, that in the results which follow to the nation, from 
the judgment poured out upon Israel in Jezreel, the valley of 
Jezreel becomes a place in which God sows seed for the reno 
vation of Israel. 

To confirm the certainty of this most joyful turn of events, 
the promise closes with the summons in ch. ii. 1 : " 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 a&. 

So far as the fulfilment of this prophecy is concerned, the 

CHAP. II. 1. 49 

fact that the patriarchal promise of the innumerable multipli 
cation 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 Judgeans 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 re 
marks on 2 Kings xvii. 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 words, " They appoint themselves one head." As the 
union of Israel with Judah is to be effected through their gather 
ing 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 begin 
nings, 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. xi. 25, 26). It is by no 
means difficult to bring the application, which is made of our 
prophecy in 1 Pet. ii. 10 and Rom. ix. 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 (ch. ii. 1, with ch. i. 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 

VOL. I. D 

50 HOSEA. 

God had promised to adopt the children of Israel again, 
He must adopt the Gentiles also. Otherwise this resolution 
xvould 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 (Ex. xii. 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 ver. 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. xliv. 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 Kedeemer (Rom. xi. 25, 26). 

II. 4-25). 

What the prophet announced in ch. i. 2-ii. 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 

CHAP. II. 2. 51 

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 Riickert 
aptly says, " The significant pair give place to the thing signi 
fied; 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 punish 
ment. The threatening and the announcement of punishment 
extend from ver. 2. to ver. 13; the proclamation of salvation 
commences with ver. 14, and reaches to the close of ver. 23. 
The threatening of punishment is divided into two strophes, 
viz. vers. 2-7 and vers. 8-13. In the first, the condemnation 
of their sinful conduct is the most prominent ; in the second, 
the punishment is more fully developed. 

Ver. 2. "Reason with your mother, reason! for she is not 
my ivife, and I am not her husband : that she put away her 
ivhoredom 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, 

52 HOSEA. 

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 dis 
solution, 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 adul 
terous wife to desist from her sins. The object of the pleading 
is introduced with "iprn. 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. Yer. 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 figura 
tive 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 Ezek. xvi. 4 sqq., 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 

CHAP. II. 4, 5. 53 

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 refer 
ring 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 do 
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. 

Ver. 4. " And I will not have compassion upon her children^ 
for they are children of whoredom." This verse is also depen 
dent, so far as the meaning is concerned, upon the pen (lest) 
in ver. 3 ; but in form it constitutes an independent sentence. 
B e ne z e nunlm, (sons of whoredoms) refers back to yalde z nunlm 
in ch. i. 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. 

Ver. 5. " For their mother hath committed whoredom ; she 
that bare them hath practised shame : for she said, I will go after 
my lovers, wlio give (me) my bread and my water, my wool and 
my flax, my oil and my drink." By Ta (for) and the suffixes 
attached to immdm (their mother) and hordthdm (that bare 
them), the first clauses are indeed introduced as though simply 
explanatory and confirmatory of the last clause of ver. 4 ; but 
if we look at the train of thought generally, it is obvious that 
ver. 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 

54 HOSEA. 

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 ver. 3. And this also accounts for 
the fact that, in the threat which follows in ver. 6, " I hedge 
up thy way," the mother herself is again directly addressed. 
The hiphil holhlsh, which is traceable to ydbhesh, so far as the 
form is concerned, but derives its meaning from efa, 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 2 Sam. xix. 5. To 
explain this thought, the coquetting with idols is more minutely 
described in the second hemistich. The delusive idea expressed 
by the wife ( "N, in the perfect, indicates speaking or think 
ing 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 con 
duces to luxury and superfluity," which we also find expressed 
in Jer. xliv. 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 un 
disturbed 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). 

Ver. 6. " Therefore (because the woman says this), behold, 
thus will I hedge up tliy way witli 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 ch. v. 15 
with Deut. iv. 30, Job iii. 23, xix. 8, Lam. iii. 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 worth- 

CHAP. II. 7, 8. 55 

lessness 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 (ch. vi. 1). 

This thought is carried out still further in ver. 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 noiv." 
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 (riddeph, 
piel in an intensive sense, to pursue eagerly), denotes the failure 
to secure what is sought from them, viz. the anticipated deli 
verance 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 fellow 
ship 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. Ver. 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 recol 
lection 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, 
Deut. vii. 13, xi. 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 r dsu labbaal are to be 

56 HOSE A. 

taken as a relative clause without as/igr, 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 ? nfcw occurs in this sense in 
Isa. xliv. 17, the article, which is wanting in Isaiah, and also in 
Gen. xii. 2 and Ex. xxxii. 10, precludes such an explanation 
here, apart from the fact that habbaal cannot stand by itself 
for a statue of Baal. Here p n^y has rather the general mean 
ing " apply to anything," just as in 2 Chron. xxiv. 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 any 
thing," whereas the meaning " to offer," which Gesenius adopts 
(" which they have offered to Baal "), is untenable, since n ; ^y 
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 wor 
ship of Baal, or even by regarding them as gifts of Baal, and 
thus confirming themselves in the zealous worship of that god. 
By habbaal 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 (2 Kings xiii. 6) ; but Baal is a general expression 
for all idols, including the golden calves, which are called other 
gods in 1 Kings xiv. 9, and compared to actual idols. 

Ver. 9. " Therefore will I take Lack 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. W&31 m^K 
are to be connected, so that 2^ N 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. xii. 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 ex 
pect 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 

CHAP. II. 10, 11. 57 

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 u to cover her nakedness " are not dependent upon 
*wOT, but belong to JjiK^ "], and are simply a more concise 
mode of saying, "Such serve, or are meant, to cover her naked 
ness." 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 ( ervdh, pudendum). 

Ver. 10. "And now ivill I uncover her shame before her lovers. 


and no one shall tear her out of my hand." The air. \ey. Hv33j 
lit. a withered state, from AH, to be withered or faded, probably 
denotes, as Hengstenberg says, corpus multa stupra passu m, and 
is rendered freely in the LXX. by aicaOapcria. " 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. Nahum iii. 5; Jer. xiii. 26). In 
this concrete form the general truth is expressed, that " who 
ever 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. ch. v. 14). 

This punishment is more minutely defined in vers. 11-13, 
in which the figurative drapery is thrown into the background 
by the actual fact. Ver. 11. " And I make all her joy hep 
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, 
BWfenrfe, " all her joy," is placed first, and the different fes 
tivals are mentioned afterwards. Chdg stands for the three 
principal festivals of the year, the Passover, Pentecost, and the 
feast of Tabernacles, which had the character of chdg, 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 

58 HOSEA. 

month, and the Sabbath every week. Finally, these feasts are 
all summed up in B JJJto fel ; for ^M, &H$ is the general ex 
pression for all festive seasons and festive days (Lev. xxiii. 2, 4). 
As a parallel, so far as the facts are concerned, comp. Amos 
viii. 10, Jer. vii. 34, and Lam. i. 4, v. 15. 

The Lord will put an end to the festive rejoicing, by taking 
away the fruits of the land, which rejoice man s heart. Ver. 
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. 
1 Kings v. 5 ; Joel ii. 22, etc.). The devastation of both of 
these denotes the withdrawal of the possessions and enjoyments 
of life (cf. Jer. v. 17 ; Joel i. 7, 12), because Israel regarded 
them as a present from its idols. njnx ? softened down from IjriK 
(ch. ix. 1), like nntf, in Job xli. 18, from |ptf (1 Kings xxii. 
34 ; cf. Ewald, 163, h), signifies the wages of prostitution 
(Deut. xxiii. 19). The derivation is disputed and uncertain, 
since the verb njn 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 fen, to 
extend ; whilst, on the other hand, the verb nsn, n:nn (ch. viii. 
9, 10) is most probably a denominative of njriN. Consequently, 
Hengstenberg supposes it to be a bad word formed out of the 
question put by the prostitute, v JDD no, and the answer given 
by the man, ^ jn*? (Gen. xxxviii. 16, 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 culti 
vated, 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 D riOB> and B^^ refer 
to n JN JSJ (the vine and fig-tree), and not merely to the fruit. 
Comp. Isa. vii. 23 sqq. and Mic. iii. 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. Ver. 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 

CHAP. II. 13-15. 59 

forgotten me, is the ivord of Jehovah." The days of the Baals 
are the sacred days and festive seasons mentioned in ver. 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. ch. iv. 13 ; 2 Kings xvii. 
11). In ver. 8 we find only ?V?n mentioned, but here Dv{D i n 
the plural, because Baal was worshipped under different modifi 
cations, from which Baalim came to be used in the general 
sense of the various idols of the Canaanites (cf. Judg. ii. 11 ; 
1 Kings xviii. 18, etc.). In the second hemistich this spiritual 
coquetry with the idols is depicted under the figure of the out 
ward coquetry of a woman, who resorts to all kinds of outward 
ornaments in order to excite the admiration of her lovers (as in 
Jer. iv. 30 and Ezek. xxiii. 40 sqq.). 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 miT 1 DNJ, see Delitzsch on Isa. i. 24. 

In ver. 14 the promise is introduced quite as abruptly as in 
ver. 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 con 
version (vers. 14-17), and secondly, the assurance of the renewal 
of the covenant mercies (vers. 18-23). Vers. 14, 15. " There 
fore, 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 " \J?, therefore (not 
utique,profecto, but, nevertheless, which lakhen never means), 
is co-ordinate with the lakhen in vers. 6 and 9, and is con 
nected primarily with the last clause of ver. 13. "Because 
the wife has forgotten God, He calls Himself to her remem 
brance again, first of all by punishment (vers. 6 and 9) ; then, 
when this has answered its purpose, and after she has said, I 

60 HOSEA. 

will go and return (ver. 7), by the manifestations of His love" 
(Hengstenberg). That the first clause of ver. 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, pre 
supposes 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 ex 
pulsion from Canaan to Egypt, the land of bondage, out of 
which Jehovah had redeemed it in the olden time. nns ? in the 
piel to persuade, to decoy by words ; here sensu lono, 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 import 
ance 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 Deut. viii. 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 command 
ments 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 enjoy 
ment of the gifts of the Lord which refresh both body and 
soul. ^ ^ ">y! 7 to speak to the heart, as applied to loving, 

CHAP. II. 14, 15. 61 

comforting words (Gen. xxxiv. 3, 1. 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 ver. 15. By 
D$E . . . ""nrij, " I give from thence," i.e. from the desert 
onwards, the thought is expressed, that on entering the pro 
mised land Israel would be put into immediate possession and 
enjoyment of its rich blessings. Manger has correctly ex 
plained D$E> 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 (ver. 12). 
The valley of Achor y which was situated to the north of Gilgal 
and Jericho (see at Josh. vii. 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 Josh, vii., 
from which it obtained its name of Akhor, 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 with 
drew 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 memo 
rial, 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 

62 HOSEA. 

will manifest itself even in wrath, and through judgment and 
mercy the pardoned sinners will be more and more firmly 
and inwardly united to Hirn. 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. njy does not mean " to- sing," but " to answer ; " 
and ns^ ? pointing back to D$E, must not be regarded as equi 
valent to DB*. 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 manifesta 
tions 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 redemp 
tion from Egypt, by the song of praise and thanksgiving at 
the Red Sea (Ex. xv.), and by its willingness to conclude the 
covenant with the Lord at Sinai, and to keep His command 
ments (Ex. xxiv.). 

Ver. 16. "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. 
Baal is not to be taken as an appellative in the sense of master, 
as distinguished from ish, 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 *lsh (e.g. 2 Sam. xi. 26, Gen. xx. 3). More 
over, the context in this instance, especially the Bfdllm in ver. 
19, decidedly requires that Baal 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 idola 
trous worship, the Jehovah-religion and heathenism. 

CHAP. II. 17, 18. 63 

Ver. 17. "And I put away the names of the Baals out of her 
mouthy 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 Ex. xxiii. 13, "Ye shall make no mention 
of the names of other gods," and is repeated almost word for 
word in Zech. xiii. 2. 

With the complete abolition of idolatry and false religion, 
the church of the Lord will attain to the enjoyment of undis 
turbed peace. Ver. 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:" Idhem is a dat. comm., for the good of the favoured ones. 
The three classes of beasts that are dangerous to men, are men 
tioned here, as in Gen. ix. 2. " Beasts of the field," as distin 
guished from the same domestic animals (b e hemdh), 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. Milchdmdh, war, is connected 
with shdbhar per zeugma. This promise rests upon Lev. 
xxvi. 3 sqq., and is still further expanded in Ezek. xxxiv. 25 
sqq. (Compare the parallels in Isa. ii. 4, xi., xxxv. 9, and 
Zech. ix. 10.) 

Ver. 19. "And I betroth thee to myself for ever; and 1 
betroth thee to myself in righteousness, and judgment, and in 


grace and pity. Ver. 20. And I betroth thee to myself in faith 
fulness ; and thou acknoivledgest Jehovah! 1 i? fcnK, to betrotli 
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 (Deut. xx. 7). 
"rpjjiBns 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, expres 
sive of the indissoluble character of the new relation. This is 
involved in &^JJ<, " 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 cove 
nant indissoluble. These are, (1) righteousness and judgment; 
(2) grace and compassion ; (3) faithfulness. Tsedeq = ts e ddqdh 
and mishpdt are frequently connected. Tsedeq, " being right," 
denotes subjective righteousness as an attribute of God or 
man ; and mishpdt, objective right, whether in its judicial exe 
cution 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 (Heng 
stenberg), but by purifying her, through the medium of just 
judgment, from all the unholiness and ungodliness that adhere 
to her still (Isa. i. 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 cove 
nant ; 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 con 
stancy," and thereby gives the promise that He will no more 

CHAP. II. 21, 22. 65 

withdraw His mercy from her. n ^DNn is also to be understood 
of the faithfulness of God, as in Ps. Ixxxix. 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 uncon 
querable salvation. 

Vers. 21, 22. "And it comes to pass in that day, I will hear, 
is the icord 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 npyK 
is to be taken absolutely ; compare the parallel in Isa. Iviii. 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. 1 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 Deut. xxviii. 12, and forms 
the antithesis to the threat in Lev. xxvi. 19 and Deut. xxviii. 
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 

1 As Umbreit observes, "It is as though we heard the exalted har 
monies 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." 

VOL. I. p, 

66 HOSEA. 

of the name in ch. i. 4, 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 ver. 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." jnt does not mean " to strew," or scatter (not even in 
Zech. x. 9 ; cf. Koehler on the passage), but simply " to sow." 
The feminine suffix to n^^ 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 guid 
ance 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 ch. i. 11 and ii. 1 
(pp. 49, 50), are applicable here, since this section is simply a 
further expansion of the preceding one. 


" The significant pair are introduced again, but with a fresh 
application." In a second symbolical marriage, the prophet 
sets forth the faithful, but for that very reason chastising and 
reforming, love of the Lord to rebellious and adulterous Israel. 
By the command of God he takes a wife, who lives in continued 
adultery, notwithstanding his faithful love, and places her in a 
position in which she is obliged to renounce her lovers, that he 
may thus lead her to return. Vers. 1-3 contain the symbolical 
action ; vers. 4, 5 the explanation, with an announcement of 
the reformation which this proceeding is intended to effect. 

Ver. 1. "And Jehovah said to me, Go again, and love a 
woman beloved of her companion, and committing adultery, as 
Jehovah loveth the children of Israel, and they turn to other gods, 
and love raisin-cakes." The purely symbolical character of this 
divine command is evident from the nature of the command 
itself, but more especially from the peculiar epithet applied to 
the wife. Ity is not to be connected with "^ l, in opposition to 

CHAP. III. 1. 67 

the accents, but belongs to *fij and is placed first for the sake of 
emphasis. Loving the woman, as the carrying out of the divine 
command in ver. 2 clearly shows, is in fact equivalent to taking 
a wife ; and alidbli is chosen instead of Idqach, simply for the 
purpose of indicating at the very outset the nature of the union 
enjoined upon the prophet. The woman, is characterized as 
beloved of her companion (friend), and committing adultery. 
jn denotes a friend or companion, with whom one cherishes 
intercourse and fellowship, never a fellow-creature generally, 
but simply the fellow-creature with whom one lives in the 
closest intimacy (Ex. xx. 17, 18, xxii. 25, etc.). The JTi (com 
panion) of a woman, who loves her, can only be her husband 
or paramour. The word is undoubtedly used in Jer. iii. 1, 20, 
and Song of Sol. v. 16, with reference to a husband, but never 
of a fornicator or adulterous paramour. And the second epithet 
employed here, viz. " committing adultery," which forms an 
unmistakeable antithesis to J?n mntf, requires that it should be 
understood in this instance as signifying a husband ; for a 
woman only becomes an adulteress when she is unfaithful to 
her loving husband, and goes with other men, but not when 
she gives up her beloved paramour to live with her husband 
only. If the epithets referred to the love shown by a paramour, 
by which the woman had annulled the marriage, this would 
necessarily have been expressed by the perfect or pluperfect. 
By the participles roriK and HSXJO, the love of the companion 
and the adultery of the wife are supposed to be continued and 
contemporaneous with the love which the prophet is to manifest 
towards the woman. This overthrows the assertion made by 
Kurtz, that we have before us a woman who was already 
married at the time when the prophet was commanded to love 
her, as at variance with the grammatical construction, and 
changing the participle into the pluperfect. For, during the 
time that the prophet loved the wife he had taken, the JH who 
displayed his love to her could only be her husband, i.e. the 
prophet himself, towards whom she stood in the closest inti 
macy, founded upon love, i.e. in the relation of marriage. The 
correctness of this view, that the JH is the prophet as husband, 
is put beyond all possibility of doubt by the explanation of the 
divine command which follows. As Jehovah loves the sons of 
Israel, although or whilst they turn to other gods, i.e. break 

68 HOSEA. 

their marriage with Jehovah; so is the prophet to love the 
woman who commits adultery, or will commit adultery, not 
withstanding his love, since the adultery could only take place 
when the prophet had shown to the woman the love com 
manded, i.e. had connected himself with her by marriage. The 
peculiar epithet applied to the woman can only be explained 
from the fact intended to be set forth by the symbolical act 
itself, and, as we have already shown at p. 31, is irrecon 
cilable with the assumption that the command of God refers to 
a marriage to be really and outwardly consummated. The 
words " nanxa recal Deut. vii. 8, and W D JS Drn Deut. xxxi. 
18. The last clause, " and loving grape-cakes," does not apply 
to the idols, who would be thereby represented either as lovers 
of grape-cakes, or as those to whom grape-cakes were offered 
(Hitzig), but is a continuation of D^S, indicating the reason 
why Israel turned to other gods. Grape or raisin cakes (on 
ashlshdh, see at 2 Sam. vi. 19) are delicacies, figuratively re 
presenting that idolatrous worship which appeals to the senses, 
and gratifies the carnal impulses and desires. Compare Job 
xx. 12, where sin is figuratively described as food which is 
sweet as new honey in the mouth, but turns into the gall of 
asps in the belly. Loving grape-cakes is equivalent to indulg 
ing in sensuality. Because Israel loves this, it turns to other 
gods. " The solemn and strict religion of Jehovah is plain but 
wholesome food ; whereas idolatry is relaxing food, which is 
only sought after by epicures and men of depraved tastes" 

Ver. 2. " And 1 acquired her for myself for fifteen pieces of 
silver, and a homer of barley, and a lethech of barley" 7?.?^ 
with dagesh lene or dirimens (Ewald, 28, b), from Mr ah, to 
dig, to procure by digging, then generally to acquire (see at 
Deut. ii. 6), or obtain by trading (Job vi. 27, xl. 30). Fifteen 
keseph are fifteen shekels of silver ; the word shekel being 
frequently omitted in statements as to amount (compare Ges. 
120, 4, Anm. 2). According to Ezek. xlv. 11, the homer 
contained ten baths or ephahs, and a lethech (fj^LKopo^, LXX.) 
was a half homer. Consequently the prophet gave fifteen 
shekels of silver and fifteen ephahs of barley ; and it is a very 
natural supposition, especially if we refer to 2 Kings vii. 1, 
xvi. 18, that at that time an ephah of barley was worth 

CHAP. III. 3. G9 

a shekel, in which case the whole price would just amount to 
the sum for which, according to Ex. xxi. 32, it was possible to 
purchase a slave, and was paid half in money and half in 
barley. The reason for the latter it is impossible to determine 
with certainty. The price generally, for which the prophet 
obtained the wife, was probably intended to indicate the servile 
condition out of which Jehovah purchased Israel to be His 
people; and the circumstance that the prophet gave no more for 
the wife than the amount at which a slave could be obtained, 
according to Ex. xxi. 32 and Zech. xi. 12, and that this amount 
was not even paid in money, but half of it in barley a kind of 
food so generally despised throughout antiquity (vile hordeum ; 
see at Num. v. 15) was intended to depict still more strikingly 
the deeply depressed condition of the woman. . The price paid, 
moreover, is not to be regarded as purchase money, for which 
the wife was obtained from her parents ; for it cannot be shown 
that the custom of purchasing a bride from her parents had any 
existence among the Israelites (see my BibL Archaologie, ii. 
109, 1). It was rather the marriage present (mdhar\ which 
a bridegroom gave, not to the parents, but to the bride her 
self, as soon as her consent had been obtained. If, there 
fore, the woman was satisfied with fifteen shekels and fifteen 
ephahs of barley, she must have been in a state of very deep 

Ver. 3. "And I said to her, Many days wilt tlwu sit for me: 
and not act ihe harlot, and not belong to a man ; and thus ivill I 
also towards thee" Instead of granting the full conjugal fel 
lowship of a wife to the woman whom he had acquired for 
himself, the prophet puts her into a state of detention, in which 
she was debarred from intercourse with any man. Sitting is 
equivalent to remaining quiet, and v indicates that this is for 
the husband s sake, and that he imposes it upon her out of 
affection to her, to reform her and train her up as a faithful 
wife. WK? nvj ? to be or become a man s, signifies conjugal or 
sexual connection with him. Commentators differ in opinion 
as to whether the prophet himself is included or not. In all 
probability he is not included, as his conduct towards the 
woman is simply indicated in the last clause. The distinction 
between rot and B*6 n VI, is that the former signifies intercourse 
with different paramours, the latter conjugal intercourse ; here 

70 HOSEA. 

adulterous intercourse with a single man. The last words, " and 
I also to thee " (towards thee), cannot have any other meaning, 
than that the prophet would act in the same way towards the 
wife as the wife towards every other man, i.e. would have no 
conjugal intercourse with her. The other explanations that 
have been given of these words, in which v e gam is rendered 
" and yet," or " and then," are arbitrary. The parallel is not 
drawn between the prophet and the wife, but between the 
prophet and the other man ; in other words, he does not pro 
mise that during the period of the wife s detention he will not 
conclude a marriage with any other woman, but declares that 
he will have no more conjugal intercourse with her than any 
other man. This thought is required by the explanation of the 
figure in ver. 4. For, according to the former interpretation, 
the idea expressed would be this, that the Lord waited with 
patience and long-suffering for the reformation of His former 
nation, and would not plunge it into despair by adopting 
another nation in its place. But there is no hint whatever at 
any such thought as this in vers. 4, 5 ; and all that is expressed 
is, that He will not only cut off all intercourse on the part of 
His people with idols, but will also suspend, for a very long 
time, His own relation to Israel. 

Ver. 4. " For the sons of Israel will sit for many days with 
out a king, and ivithout a prince, and without slain-offering, and 
without monument, and without ephod and teraphim." The ex 
planation of the figure is introduced with *?, because it contains 
the ground of the symbolical action. The objects, which are 
to be taken away from the Israelites, form three pairs, although 
only the last two are formally connected together by the omis 
sion of PN before B^ty so as to form one pair, whilst the rest 
are simply arranged one after another by the repetition of PX 
before every one. As king and prince go together, so also 
do tiara-offering and memorial. King and prince are the 
upholders of civil government ; whilst slain -offering and 
memorial represent the nation s worship and religion. PDaffc, 
monument, is connected with idolatrous worship. The " monu 
ments " were consecrated to Baal (Ex. xxiii. 24), and the erec 
tion of them was for that reason prohibited even in the law 
(Lev. xxvi. 1 ; Deut. xvi. 22 : see at 1 Kings xiv. 23) ; but they 
were widely spread in the kingdom of Israel (2 Kings iii. 2, x. 

CHAP. III. <L 71 

26-28, xvii. 10), and they were also erected in Judah under 
idolatrous kings (1 Kings xiv. 23 ; 2 Kings xviii. 4, xxiii. 14 ; 
2 Chron. xiv. 2, xxxi. 1). The epliod and teraphim did indeed 
form part of the apparatus of worship, but they are also 
specially mentioned as media employed in searching into the 
future. The epliod, the shoulder-dress of the high priest, to 
which the Urim and Thummim were attached, was the medium 
through which Jehovah communicated His revelations to the 
people, and was used for the purpose of asking the will of God 
(1 Sam. xxiii. 9, xxx. 7) ; and for the same purpose it was 
imitated in an idolatrous manner (Judg. xvii. 5, xviii. 5). The 
teraphim were Penates, which were worshipped as the givers of 
earthly prosperity, and also as oracular deities who revealed 
future events (see my BibL Archdol. 90). The prophet men 
tions objects connected with both the worship of Jehovah and 
that of idols, because they were both mixed together in Israel, and 
for the purpose of showing to the people that the Lord would 
take away both the Jehovah-worship and also the worship of 
idols, along with the independent civil government. With the 
removal of the monarchy (see at ch. i. 4), or the dissolution of 
the kingdom, not only was the Jehovah-worship abolished, but 
an end was also put to the idolatry of the nation, since the 
people discovered the worthlessness of the idols from the fact 
that, when the judgment burst upon them, they could grant no 
deliverance ; and notwithstanding the circumstance that, when 
carried into exile, they were transported into the midst of 
idolaters, the distress and misery into which they were then 
plunged filled them with abhorrence of idolatry (see at ch. 
ii. 7). 

This threat was fulfilled in the history of the ten tribes, 
when they were carried away with the Assyrian captivity, in 
which they continue for the most part to the present day with 
out a monarchy, without Jehovah-worship, and without a priest 
hood. For it is evident that by Israel the ten tribes are 
intended, not only from the close connection between this 
prophecy and ch. i., where Israel is expressly distinguished from 
Judah (ch. i. 7), but also from the prospect held out in ver. 5, 
that the sons of Israel will return to David their king, which 
clearly points to the falling away of the ten tribes from the 
house of David. At the same time, as the carrying away of 

72 HOSE A. 

Judah also is presupposed in ch. i. 7, 11, and therefore what is 
said of Israel is transferred implicite to Judah, we must not 
restrict the threat contained in this verse to the Israel of the 
ten tribes alone, but must also understand it as referring to the 
Babylonian and Roman exile of the Jews, just as in the time of 
king Asa (2 Chron. xv. 2-4). The prophet Azariah predicted 
this to the kingdom of Judah in a manner which furnishes an 
unmistakeable support to Hosea s prophecy. 

Ver. 5. u Afterward will the sons of Israel turn and seek 
Jehovah their God, and David their king, and will go trembling 
to Jehovah and to His goodness at the end of the days" This 
section, like the previous one, closes with the announcement of 
the eventual conversion of Israel, which was not indicated in 
the symbolical action which precedes it, but is added to com 
plete the interpretation of the symbol. Seeking Jehovah their 
God is connected with seeking David their king. For just as 
the falling away of the ten tribes from the royal house of David 
was merely the sequel and effect of their inward apostasy from 
Jehovah, and was openly declared in the setting up of the 
golden calves ; the true return to the Lord cannot take place 
without a return to David their king, since God has promised 
the kingdom to David and his seed for ever (2 Sam. vii. 13, 16), 
and therefore David is the only true king of Israel (their king). 
This King David, however, is no other than the Messiah. For 
although David received the promise of the everlasting con 
tinuance of his government, not with reference to his own 
person, but for his seed, i.e. his family ; and on the ground of 
this promise, the whole of the royal house of David is fre 
quently embraced under the expression " King David," so that 
we might imagine that David is introduced here, not as an 
individual, but as signifying the Davidic family ; yet we must 
not understand it on this account as referring to such historical 
representatives of the Davidic government as Zerubbabel, and 
other earthly representatives of the house of David, since the 
return of the Israelites to " their King David" was not to take 
place till acharlth hayydmlm (the end of the days). For " the 
end of the days" does not denote the future generally, but 
always the closing future of the kingdom of God, commencing 
with the coming of the Messiah (see at Gen. xlix. 1 ; Isa. ii. 2). 
Pdchad el Y e hovdhj to shake or tremble to Jehovah, is a preg- 

CJIAP. IV.- VI. 3. *6 

nant expression for " to turn to Jehovah with trembling ;" 
i.e. either trembling at the holiness of God, in the conscious 
ness of their own sinfulness and unworthiness, or else with 
anguish and distress, in the consciousness of their utter help 
lessness. It is used here in the latter sense, as the two parallels, 
ch. v. 15, " in their affliction they will seek me," and ch. xi. 11, 
" they shall tremble as a bird," etc., clearly show. This is also 
required by the following expression, iaap"?KJ, which is to be 
understood, according to ch. ii. 7, as denoting the goodness of 
God manifested in His gifts. Affliction will drive them to 
seek the Lord, and His goodness which is inseparable from 
Himself (Hengstenberg). Compare Jer. xxxi. 12, where " the 
goodness of the Lord" is explained as corn, new wine, oil, lambs, 
and oxen, these being the gifts that come from the goodness of 
the Lord (Zech. ix. 17 ; Ps. xxvii. 13, xxxi. 20). He who has 
the Lord for his God will want no good thing. 


The spiritual adultery of Israel, with its consequences, which 
the prophet has exposed in the first part, and chiefly in a sym 
bolical mode, is more elaborately detailed here, not only with 
regard to its true nature, viz. the religious apostasy and moral 
depravity which prevailed throughout the ten tribes, but also in 
its inevitable consequences, viz. the destruction of the kingdom 
and rejection of the people ; and this is done with a repeated 
side-glance at Judah. To this there is appended a solemn 
appeal to return to the Lord, and a promise that the Lord will 
have compassion upon the penitent, and renew His covenant of 
grace with them. 


The first section, in which the prophet demonstrates the 
necessity for judgment, by exposing the sins and follies of 

74 HOSE A. 

Israel, is divided into two parts by the similar openings, " Hear 
the word of the Lord" in ch. iv. 1, and " Hear ye this" in 
ch. v. 1. The distinction between the two halves is, that in 
ch. iv. the reproof of their sins passes from Israel as a whole, 
to the sins of the priests in particular ; whilst in ch. v. it 
passes from the ruin of the priesthood to the depravity of the 
whole nation, and announces the judgment of devastation upon 
Ephraim, and then closes in ch. vi. 13 with a command to 
return to the Lord. The contents of the two chapters, how 
ever, are so arranged, that it is difficult to divide them into 

The Sins of Israel and the Visitation of God. Chap. iv. 

Vers. 1-5 form the first strophe, and contain, so to speak, 
the theme and the sum and substance of the whole of the 
following threatening of punishment and judgment. Ver. 1. 
" Hear the word of Jehovah, ye sons of Israel! for Jehovah 
has a controversy ivith the inhabitants of the land ; for there is 
no truth, and no love, and no knowledge of God in the land." 
Israel of the ten tribes is here addressed, as ver. 15 clearly 
shows. The Lord has a controversy with it, has to accuse and 
judge it (cf. Mic. vi. 2), because truth, love, and the knowledge 
of God have vanished from the land. Emeth and chesed are 
frequently associated, not merely as divine attributes, but also 
as human virtues. They are used here in the latter sense, as 
in Prov. iii. 3. " There is no gmeth, i.e. no truthfulness, either 
in speech or action, no one trusting another any more" (cf . Jer. 
ix. 3, 4). Chesed is not human love generally, but love to 
inferiors, and to those who need help or compassionate love. 
Truth and love are mutually conditions, the one of the other. 
" Truth cannot be sustained without mercy ; and mercy with 
out truth makes men negligent ; so that the one ought to be 
mingled with the other" (Jerome). They both have their roots 
in the knowledge of God, of which they are the fruit (Jer. xxii. 
16 ; Isa. xi. 9) ; for the knowledge of God is not merely " an 
acquaintance with His nature and will" (Hitzig), but know 
ledge of the love, faithfulness, and compassion of God, resting 
upon the experience of the heart. Such knowledge not only 
produces fear of God, but also love and truthfulness towards 

CHAP. IV. 2, 3. < 

brethren (cf. Eph. iv. 32, Col. iii. 12 sqq.). Where this is 
wanting, injustice gains the upper hand. 

Yer. 2. " Swearing, and lying, and murdering, and stealing, 
and committing adultery ; they break in, and blood reaches to 
blood" The enumeration of the prevailing sins and crimes 
commences with infin. absoll., to set forth the acts referred to 
as such with the greater emphasis. Aldh, to swear, in combi 
nation with kichesh, signifies false swearing (= N1$ fifts in ch. 
x. 4 ; compare the similar passage in Jer. vii. 9) ; but we must 
not on that account take kichesh as subordinate to dldh, or 
connect them together, so as to form one idea. Swearing refers 
to the breach of the second commandment, stealing to that of 
the eighth ; and the infinitives which follow enumerate the sins 
against the fifth, the seventh, and the sixth commandments. 
With pdrdtsu the address passes into the finite tense (Luther 
follows the LXX. and Vulg., and connects it with what pre 
cedes ; but this is a mistake). The perfects, pdrdtsu and ndgau, 
are not preterites, but express a completed act, reaching from 
the past into the present. Pdrats to tear, to break, signifies in 
this instance a violent breaking in upon others, for the purpose 
of robbery and murder, " grassari as D^"iD, i.e. as murderers 
and robbers" (Hitzig), whereby one bloody deed immediately 
followed another (Ezek. xviii. 10). Ddmlm : blood shed with 
violence, a bloody deed, a capital crime. 

These crimes bring the land to ruin. Ver. 3. " Therefore 
the land mourns, and every dweller therein, of beasts of the field 
and birds of the heaven, wastes away ; and even the fishes of the 
sea perish." These words affirm not only that the inanimate 
creation suffers in consequence of the sins and crimes of men, 
but that the moral depravity of men causes the physical de 
struction of all other creatures. As God has given to man the 
dominion over all beasts, and over all the earth, that he may use 
it for the glory of God ; so does He punish the wickedness of 
men by pestilences, or by the devastation of the earth. The 
mourning of the earth and the wasting away of the animals 
are the natural result of the want of rain and the great drought 
that ensues, such as was the case in the time of Ahab through 
out the kingdom of the ten tribes (1 Kings xvii. 18), and 
judging from Arnos i. 2, viii. 8, may have occurred repeatedly 
with the continued idolatry of the people. The verbs are not 

76 HOSE A. 

futures, in which case the punishment would be only threat 
ened, but aorists, expressing what has already happened, and 
will continue still, nn 3f#*"?3 (every dweller therein) : these 
are not the men, but the animals, as the further definition 
131 n*ra shows. 2 is used in the enumeration of the individuals, 
as in Gen. vii. 21, ix. 10. The fishes are mentioned last, and 
introduced with the emphasizing Dtt, to show that the drought 
would prevail to such an extent, that even lakes and other waters 
would be dried up. *!???, to be collected, to be taken away, to 
disappear or perish, as in Isa. xvi. 10, Ix. 20, Jer. xlviii. 33. 

Notwithstanding the outburst of the divine judgments, the 
people prove themselves to be incorrigible in their sins. Ver. 4. 
" Only let no man reason, and let no man punish; yet thy people 
are like priest-strivers." ^ is to be explained from the tacit 
antithesis, that with such depravity there would be much to 
punish ; but this would be useless. The first clause contains a 
desperatce nequitice argumentum. The notion that the second 
ish is to be taken as an object, is decidedly to be rejected, since 
it cannot be defended either from the expression B^K3 B^K in 
Isa. iii. 5, or by referring to Amos ii. 15, and does not yield any 
meaning at all in harmony with the second half of the verse. 
For there is no need to prove that it does not mean, " Every 
one who has a priest blames the priest instead of himself when 
any misfortune happens to him," as Hitzig supposes, since Dy 
signifies the nation, and not an individual. IfcJft is attached 
adversatively, giving the reason for the previous thought in the 
sense of " since thy people," or simply " thy people are surely 
like those who dispute with the priest." The unusual expres 
sion, priest-disputers, equivalent to quarrellers with the priest, 
an analogous expression to boundary-movers in ch. v. 10, may 
be explained, as Luther, and Grotius, and others suppose, from 
the law laid down in Deut. xvii. 12, 13, according to which 
every law-suit was to be ultimately decided by the priest and 
judge as the supreme tribunal, and in which, whoever presumes 
to resist the verdict of this tribunal, is threatened with the 
punishment of death. The meaning is, that the nation re 
sembled those who are described in the law as rebels against 
the priest (Hengstenberg, Dissertations on Pentateuch, vol. i. 
p. 112, translation). The suffix " thy nation" does not refer 
to the prophet, but to the sons of Israel, the sum total of whom 

CHAP. IV. 5, 6. 77 

constituted their nation, which is directly addressed in the fol 
lowing verse. 

Ver. 5. " And so wilt tJwu stumble by day, and the prophet 
ivith thee will also stumble by night, and I will destroy thy 
mother." Kdshal is not used here with reference to the sin, as 
Simson supposes, but for the punishment, and signifies to fall, 
in the sense of to perish, as in ch. xiv. 2, Isa. xxxi. 3, etc. Di s n 
is not to-day, or in the day when the punishment shall fall, but 
" by day," interdiu, on acccount of the antithesis FPv, as in 
Neh. iv. 16. K^J, used without an article in the most indefinite 
generality, refers to false prophets not of Baal, however, but 
of Jehovah as worshipped under the image of a calf who prac 
tised prophesying as a trade, and judging from 1 Kings xxii. 6, 
were very numerous in the kingdom of Israel. The declaration 
that the people should fall by day and the prophets by night, 
does not warrant our interpreting the day and night allegori 
cal^, the former as the time when the way of right is visible, 
and the latter as the time when the way is hidden or obscured ; 
but according to the parallelism of the clauses, it is to be under 
stood as signifying that the people and the prophets would fall 
at all times, by night and by day. " There would be no time 
free from the slaughter, either of individuals in the nation at 
large, or of false prophets" (Rosenmiiller). In the second half 
of the verse, the destruction of the whole nation and kingdom 
is announced ( em is the whole nation, as in ch. ii. 2, Heb. 4.). 
This thought is carried out still further in the second strophe, 
vers. 6-10. Ver. 6. " My nation is destroyed for lack of know 
ledge ; for thou, the knowledge hast thou rejected, and so do I 
reject thee from being a priest to me. Thou didst forget the 
law of thy God ; thy sons will I also forget." The speaker is 
Jehovah : my nation, that is to say, the nation of Jehovah. 
This nation perishes. for lack of the knowledge of God and His 
salvation. Haddaath (the knowledge) with the definite article 
points back to daatli Elohlm (knowledge of God) in ver. 1. 
This knowledge Israel might have drawn from the law, in 
which God had revealed His counsel and will (Deut. xxx. 15), 
but it would not. It rejected the knowledge and forgot the law 
of its God, and would be rejected and forgotten by God in conse 
quence. In attdh (thou) it is not the priests who are addressed 
the custodians of the law and promoters of divine knowledge 

78 HOSEA. 

iii the nation but the whole nation of the ten tribes which ad 
hered to the image-worship set up by Jeroboam, with its illegal 
priesthood (1 Kings xii. 26-33), in spite of all the divine threats 
and judgments, through which one dynasty after another was 
destroyed, and would not desist from this sin of Jeroboam. The 
Lord would therefore reject it from being priest, i.e. would 
deprive it of the privilege of being a priestly nation (Ex. xix. 6), 
would strip it of its priestly rank, and make it like the heathen. 
According to Olshausen (Heb. Gram. p. 179), the anomalous 
form ^NDNOK is only a copyist s error for *IpKON ; but Ewald 
( 247, e) regards it as an Aramaean pausal form. "Thy sons," 
the children of the national community, regarded as a mother, 
are the individual members of the nation. 

Ver. 7. " The more they increased, the more they sinned against 
me ; their glory vnll I change into shame" E J"i3, " according 
to their becoming great," does not refer to the increase of the 
population only (ch. ix. 11), but also to its growing into a 
powerful nation, to the increase of its wealth and prosperity, 
in consequence of which the population multiplied. The pro 
gressive increase of the greatness of the nation was only 
attended by increasing sin. As the nation attributed to its own 
idols the blessings upon which its prosperity was founded, and 
by which it was promoted (cf. ch. ii. 7), and looked upon them 
as the fruit and reward of its worship, it was strengthened 
in this delusion by increasing prosperity, and more and more 
estranged from the living God. The Lord would therefore 
turn the glory of Ephraim, i.e. its greatness or wealth, into 
shame, tnta? is probably chosen on account of its assonance 
with &5??. For the fact itself, compare ch. ii. 3, 9-11. 

Ver. 8. " The sin of my people they sat) and after their trans 
gression do they lift up their soul." The reproof advances from 
the sin of the whole nation to the sin of the priesthood. For 
it is evident that this is intended, not only from the contents of 
the present verse, but still more from the commencement of 
the next. Chattath amml (the sin of my people) is the sin- 
offering of the people, the flesh of which the priests were com 
manded to eat, to wipe away the sin of the people (see Lev. vi. 
26, and the remarks upon this law at Lev. x. 17). The fulfil 
ment of this command, however, became a sin on the part of 
the priests, from the fact that they directed their soul, i.e. their 

CHAP. IV. 9, 10. 79 

longing desire, to the transgression of the people ; in other 
words, that they wished the sins of the people to be increased, 
in order that they might receive a good supply of sacrificial meat 
to eat. The prophet evidently uses the word cJtattd th, which 
signifies both sin and sin-offering, in a double sense, and intends 
to designate the eating of the flesh of the sin-offering as eating 
or swallowing the sin of the people. ^ ^s: N^J ? to lift up or 
direct the soul after anything, i.e. to cherish a longing for it, as in 
Deut. xxiv. 15, etc. The singular suffix attached to naphsho (his 
soul) is to be taken distributively : "(they) every one his soul." 1 

Ver. 9. " Therefore it will happen as to the people so to the 
priest ; and I will visit his ways upon him, and I repay to him 
his doing" Since the priests had abused their office for the 
purpose of filling their own bellies, they would perish along 
with the nation. The suffixes in the last clauses refer to the 
priest, although the retribution threatened would fall upon the 
people also, since it would happen to the priest as to the people. 
This explains the fact that in ver. 10 the first clause still applies 
to the priest ; whereas in the second clause the prophecy once 
more embraces the entire nation. 

Ver. 10. " They will eat } and not be satis fad ; they commit 
ivhoredom, and do not increase : for they have left off taking heed 
to Jehovah." The first clause, which still refers to the priests 
on account of the evident retrospect in ^3W to ^?# in ver. 8, 
is taken from the threat in Lev. xxvi. 16. The following word 
hiznu, to practise whoredom (with the meaning of the Jcal 
intensified as in ver. 18, not to seduce to whoredom), refers to 
the whole nation, and is to be taken in its literal sense, as the 
antithesis ttfta* K^ requires. Pdrats, to spread out, to increase 
in number, as in Ex. i. 12 and Gen. xxviii. 14. In the last 
clause "ikf^ 5 belongs to Jehovah : they have given up keeping 
Jehovah, i.e. giving heed to Him (cf. Zech. xi. 11). This 
applies to the priests as well as to the people. Therefore God 
withdraws His blessing from both, so that those who eat are 
not satisfied, and those who commit whoredom do not increase. 

The allusion to whoredom leads to the description of the 

1 It is evident from this verse, that the sacrificial worship was maintained 
in the kingdom of Israel according to the ritual of the Mosaic law, and 
that the Israelitish priests were still in possession of the rights conferred by 
the Pentateuch upon Levitical priests. 

80 HOSLA. 

idolatrous conduct of the people in the third strophe, vers. 
11-14, which is introduced with a general sentence. Ver. 11. 
" Wlioring and ivine and new wine take away the heart (the under 
standing"}. Z e nuth is licentiousness in the literal sense of the 
word, which is always connected with debauchery. What is 
true of this, namely, that it weakens the mental power, shows 
itself in the folly of idolatry into which the nation has fallen. 
Ver. 12. " My nation asks its wood, and its stick prophesies to it: 
for a spirit of whoredom has seduced, and they go away whoring 
from under their God" m* V<? is formed after rrtrva W, to 
ask for a divine revelation of the idols made of wood (Jer. x. 3; 
Hab. ii. 19), namely, the teraphim (cf. ch. iii. 4, and Ezek. 
xxi. 26). This reproof is strengthened by the antithesis my 
nation, i.e. the nation of Jehovah, the living God, and its wood, 
the wood made into idols by the people. The next clause, 
" and its stick is showing it," sc. future events (liiggld as in Isa. 
xli. 22, 23, etc.), is supposed by Cyril of Alexandria to refer to 
the practice of rhabdomancy, which he calls an invention of the 
Chaldseans, and describes as consisting in this, that two rods 
were held upright, and then allowed to fall while forms of incan 
tation were being uttered ; and the oracle was inferred from the 
way in which they fell, whether forwards or backwards, to the 
right or to the left. The course pursued was probably similar 
to that connected with the use of the wishing rods. 1 The 
people do this because a spirit of whoredom has besotted them. 

By rudch z e nunlm the whoredom is represented as a de 
moniacal power, which has seized upon the nation. Z e nunlm 
probably includes both carnal and spiritual whoredom, since 
idolatry, especially the Asherah-worship, was connected with 
gross licentiousness. The missing object to njmn may easily 
be supplied from the context, vtf nnriD rot, which differs from 
*?.!&??? ^t ( cn * * ^)> signifies " to whore away from under God," 
i.e. so as to withdraw from subjection to God. 

This whoredom is still further explained in the next verse. 
Ver. 13. " They sacrifice upon the tops of the mountains, and 
upon the hills they burn incense, under oak and poplar and 

1 According to Herod, iv. 67, this kind of soothsaying was very common 
among the Scythians (see at Ezek. xxi. 26). Another description of rhab 
domancy is described by Abarbanel, according to Maimonides and Moses 
Mikkotz : cf . Marck and Rosenmuller on this passage. 

CHAP. IV. 14. 81 

terebinth, for their shadow is good; therefore your daughters 
commit whoredom, and your daughters-in-law commit adultery." 
Mountain-tops and hills were favourite places for idolatrous 
worship ; because men thought, that there they were nearer to 
heaven and to the deity (see at Deut. xii. 2). From a compari 
son of these and other passages, e.g. Jer. ii. 20 and iii. 6, it is 
evident that the following words, " under oak," etc., are not to 
be understood as signifying that trees standing by themselves 
upon mountains and hills were selected as places for idolatrous 
worship ; but that, in addition to mountains and hills, green 
shady trees in the plains and valleys were also chosen for this 
purpose. By the enumeration of the oak, the poplar (llbhneh, 
the white poplar according to the Sept. in loc. and the Vulg. at 
Gen. xxxvii. 30, or the storax-tree, as the LXX. render it at 
Gen. xxxvii. 30), and the terebinth, the frequent expression 
" under every green tree " (Deut. xii. 2, 1 Kings xiv. 23, Jer. 
ii. 20, iii. 6) is individualized. Such trees were selected because 
they gave a good shade, and in the burning lands of the East 
a shady place fills the mind with sacred awe. |3~?#, therefore, 
on that account, i.e. not because the shadow of the trees invites 
to it, but because the places for idolatrous worship erected on 
every hand presented an opportunity for it ; therefore the 
daughters and daughters-in-law carried on prostitution there. 
The worship of the Canaanitish and Babylonian goddess of 
nature was associated with prostitution, and with the giving up 
of young girls and women (compare Movers, Phonizier, i. pp. 
583, 595 sqq.). 

Ver. 14. " / will not visit it upon your daughters that they 
commit whoredom, nor upon your daughters-in-law that they 
commit adultery ; for they themselves go aside with harlots, and 
with holy maidens do they sacrifice : and the nation that does not 
see is ruined." God would not punish the daughters and 
daughters-in-law for their whoredom, because the elder ones, 
did still worse. " So great was the number of fornications, 
that all punishment ceased, in despair of any amendment" 
(Jerome). With EH ^ God turns away from the reckless 
nation, as unworthy of being further addressed or exhorted, in 
righteous indignation at such presumptuous sinning, and pro 
ceeds to speak about it in the third person: for "they (the 
fathers and husbands, not the priests, as Sim son supposes. 

VOL. I. F 

82 HOSEA. 

since there is no allusion to them here) go," etc. TJB, piel in 
an intransitive sense, to separate one s self, to go aside for the 
purpose of being alone with the harlots. Sacrificing with the 
q e deshoth, i.e. with prostitutes, or Hetairai (see at Gen. xxxviii. 
14), may have taken its rise in the prevailing custom, viz. that 
fathers of families came with their wives to offer yearly sacri 
fices, and the wives shared in the sacrificial meals (1 Sam. i. 
3 sqq.). Coming to the altar with Hetairai instead of their 
own wives, was the climax of shameless licentiousness. A 
nation that had sunk so low and had lost all perception must 

perish. B2P = t^ : to throw to the earth ; or in the niphaly to 

cast headlong into destruction (Prov. x. 8, 10). 

A different turn is now given to the prophecy, viz. that if 
Israel would not desist from idolatry, Judah ought to beware 
of participating in the guilt of Israel ; and with this the fourth 
strophe (vers. 15-19) is introduced, containing the announce 
ment of the inevitable destruction of the kingdom of the ten 
tribes. Ver. 15. " If ihou commit whoredom, Israel, let not 
Judali offend ! Come ye not to Gilgal, go not up to Bethaven, 
and swear ye not by the life of Jehovah" EEJfcJ, to render one s 
self guilty by participating in the whoredom, i.e. the idolatry, of 
Israel. This was done by making pilgrimages to the places of 
idolatrous worship in that kingdom, viz. to Gilgal, i.e. not the 
Gilgal in the valley of the Jordan, but the northern Gilgal 
upon the mountains, which has been preserved in the village of 
Jiljilia to the south-west of Silo (Seilun ; see at Deut. xi. 30 
and Josh. viii. 35). In the time of Elijah and Elisha it was the 
seat of a school of the prophets (2 Kings ii. 1, iv. 38) ; but it 
was afterwards chosen as the seat of one form of idolatrous 
worship, the origin and nature of which are unknown (compare 
ch. ix. 15, xii, 12 ; Amos iv. 4, v. 5). Bethaven is not the place 
of that name mentioned in Josh. vii. 2, which was situated to 
the south-east of Bethel ; but, as Amos iv. 4 and v. 5 clearly 
show, a name which Hosea adopted from Amos v. 5 for Bethel 
(the present Beitin), to show that Bethel, the house of God, had 
become Bethaven, a house of idols, through the setting up of the 
golden calf there (1 Kings xii. 29). Swearing by the name of 
Jehovah was commanded in the law (Deut. vi. 13, x. 20 ; com 
pare Jer. iv. 2) ; but this oath was to have its roots in the fear 

CHAP. IV. 16-18. 83 

of Jehovah, to be simply an emanation of His worship. The 
worshippers of idols, therefore, were not to take it into their 
mouths. The command not to swear by the life of Jehovah is 
connected with the previous warnings. Going to Gilgal to 
worship idols, and swearing by Jehovah, cannot go together. 
The confession of Jehovah in the mouth of an idolater is hypo 
crisy, pretended piety, which is more dangerous than open 
ungodliness, because it lulls the conscience to sleep. 

The reason for this warning is given in vers. 16 sqq., viz. 
the punishment which will fall upon Israel. Ver. 16. " For 
Israel has become refractory like a refractory cow ; now ivill 
Jehovah feed them like a lamb in a wide field" Tl^ D > unmanage 
able, refractory (Deut. xxi. 18, cf. Zech. vii. 11). As Israel 
would not submit to the yoke of the divine law, it should have 
what it desired. God would feed it like a lamb, which being 
in a wide field becomes the prey of wolves and wild beasts, i.e. 
He would give it up to the freedom of banishment and disper 
sion among the nations. 

Ver. 17. " Ephraim is joined to idols, let it alone." "iisn 
B^VJJ, bound up with idols, so that it cannot give them up. 
Ephraim, the most powerful of the ten tribes, is frequently 
used in the loftier style of the prophets for Israel of the ten 
tribes, frnan, as in 2 Sam. xvi. 11, 2 Kings xxiii. 18, let him 
do as he likes, or remain as he is. Every attempt to bring the 
nation away from its idolatry is vain. The expression hannach-lo 
does not necessitate the assumption, however, that these words 
of Jehovah are addressed to the prophets. They are taken from 
the language of ordinary life, and simply mean : it may con 
tinue in its idolatry, the punishment will not long be delayed. 

Ver. 18. " Their drinking has degenerated; whoring they have 
committed ivhoredom; their shields have loved, loved shame. Ver. 
19. The ivind has wrapt it up in its wings, so that they are put 
to shame because of their sacrifices." "MJ from "i^D^ to fall off, 
degenerate, as in Jer. ii. 21. fcQb is probably strong, intoxi 
cating wine (cf . Isa. i. 22 ; Nah. i. 10) ; here it signifies the 
effect of this wine, viz. intoxication. Others take sdr in the 
usual sense of departing, after 1 Sam. i. 14, and understand 
the sentence conditionally : " when their intoxication is gone, 
they commit whoredom. " But Hitzig has very properly 
objected to this, that it is intoxication which leads to licentious- 

84 HOSEA. 

ness, and not temperance. Moreover, the strengthening of 
liiznu by the infin. abs. is not in harmony with this explanation. 
The hiphil hizndli is used in an emphatic sense, as in ver. 10. 
The meaning of the last half of the verse is also a disputed 
point, more especially on account of the word ton, which only 
occurs here, and which can only be the imperative of 3PP (ton 
for ton), ,or a contraction of tontf. All other explanations are 
arbitrary. But we are precluded from taking the word as an 
imperative by jvjj, which altogether confuses the sense, if we 
adopt the rendering " their shields love ( Give ye shame." 
We therefore prefer taking ton as a contraction of toriK, and 
ton tontf as a construction resembling the pealal form, in which 
the latter part, of the fully formed verb is repeated, with the 
verbal person as an independent form (Ewald, 120), viz. 
"their shields loved, loved shame," which yields a perfectly 
suitable thought. The princes are figuratively represented as 
shields, as in Ps. xlvii. 10, as the supporters and protectors of 
the state. They love shame, inasmuch as they love the sin 
which brings shame. This shame will inevitably burst upon the 
kingdom. The tempest has already seized upon the people, or 
wrapt them up with its wings (cf. Ps. xviii. 11, civ. 3), and will 
carry them away (Isa. Ivii. 13). "VW, literally to bind together, 
hence to lay hold of, wrap up. Ruach, the wind, or tempest, is 
a figurative term denoting destruction, like D HjJ nn in ch. xiii. 
15 and Ezek. v. 3, 4. nnitf refers to Ephraim represented as a 
woman, like the suffix attached to rrojo i n ver. 18. Dninrm? wy, 
to be put to shame on account of their sacrifices, i.e. to be 
deceived in their confidence in their idols (bosh with min as in 
ch. x. 6, Jer. ii. 36, xii. 13, etc.), or to discover that the sacri 
fices which they offered to Jehovah, whilst their heart was 
attached to the idols, did not save from ruin. The plural for 
mation nirtoT for D^^T only occurs here, but it has many analo 
gies in its favour, and does not warrant our altering the reading 
into DninziTD, after the Sept. ez> TWV Ovo-iao-TrjplcoVj as Hitzig 
proposes ; whilst the inadmissibility of this proposal is suffi 
ciently demonstrated by the fact that there is nothing to justify 
the omission of the indispensable IP, and the cases which Hitzig 
cites as instances in which min is omitted (viz. Zech. xiv. 10, 
Ps. Ixviii. 14, and Deut. xxiii. 11) are based upon a false inter 

CHAP. V. 1. 85 

The Judgment. Chap, v.-vi. 3. 

With the words " Hear ye this," the reproof of the sins of 
Israel makes a new start, and is specially addressed to the 
priests and the king s house, i.e. the king and his court, to 
announce to the leaders of the nation the punishment that will 
follow their apostasy from God and their idolatry, by which 
they have plunged the people and kingdom headlong into 
destruction. Vers. 1-5 form the first strophe. Ver. 1. " Hear 
ye this, ye priests ; and give heed thereto, house of Israel ; and 
observe it, house of the king ! for the judgment applies to you ; 
for ye have become a snare at Mizpah, and a net spread upon 
Tabor." By the word " this" which points back to ver. 4, the 
prophecy that follows is attached to the preceding one. Beside 
the priests and the king s house, i.e. the royal family, in which 
the counsellors and adjutants surrounding the king are pro 
bably included, the house of Israel, that is to say, the people of 
the ten tribes regarded as a family, is summoned to hear, 
because what was about to be announced applied to the people 
and kingdom as a whole. There is nothing to warrant our 
understanding by the " house of Israel," the heads of the 
nation or elders. Ldkhem hammishpdt does not mean, It rests 
with you to know or to defend the right ; nor, u Ye ought to 
hear the reproof," as Hitzig explains it, for mishpdt in this 
connection signifies neither " the maintenance of justice " nor 
" a reproof," but the judgment about to be executed by God, 
TO /cpl/jia (LXX.). The thought is this, The judgment will 
fall upon you ; and Idkhem refers chiefly to the priests and the 
king s house, as the explanatory clause which follows clearly 
shows. It is impossible to determine with certainty what king s 
house is intended. Probably that of Zechariah or Menahem ; 
possibly both, since Hosea prophesied in both reigns, and 
merely gives the quintessence of his prophetical addresses in 
his book. Going to Asshur refers rather to Menahem than to 
Zechariah (comp. 2 Kings xv. 19, 20). In the figures em 
ployed, the bird-trap (pach) and the net spread for catching 
birds, it can only be the rulers of the nation who are repre 
sented as a trap and net, and the birds must denote the people 
generally who are enticed into the net of destruction and 


caught (cf. ch. ix. 8). 1 Mizpah, as a parallel to Tabor, can only 
be the lofty Mizpah of Gilead (Judg. x. 17, xi. 29) or Ramah- 
Mizpah, which probably stood upon the site of the modern 
es-Salt (see at Deut. iv. 43) ; so that, whilst Tabor represents 
the land on this side of the Jordan, Mizpah, which resembled 
it in situation, is chosen to represent the land to the east of the 
river. 2 Both places were probably noted as peculiarly adapted 
for bird-catching, since Tabor is still thickly wooded. The 
supposition that they had been used as places of sacrifice in 
connection with idolatrous worship, cannot be inferred from 
the verse before us, nor is it rendered probable by other 

This accusation is still further vindicated in vers. 2 sqq., 
by a fuller exposure of the moral corruption of the nation. 
Yer. 2. " And excesses they have spread out deeply; but I am 
a chastisement to them alir The meaning of the first half 
of the verse, which is very difficult, and has been very dif 
ferently interpreted by both ancient and modern expositors, 
has been brought out best by Delitzsch (Com. on Ps. ci. 3), 
who renders it, " they understand from the very foundation 
how to spread out transgressions." For the word D lpK> the 
meaning transgressions is well established by the use of D S L)D in 
Ps. ci. 3, where Hengstenberg, Hupfeld, and Delitzsch all 
agree that this is the proper rendering (see Ewald s philological 
defence of it at 146, e). In the psalm referred to, however, 
the expression C^BD POT also shows that shachatdh is the inf. 
piel, and setim the accusative of the object. And it follows 
from this that shachatdh neither means to slaughter or slaughter 
sacrifices, nor can be used for nnnK> in the sense of acting 
injuriously, but that it is to be interpreted according to the 
shdchuth in 1 Kings x. 16, 17, in the sense of stretching, 
stretching out ; so that there is no necessity to take Dn^ in the 

1 Jerome has given a very good explanation of the figure: " I have 
appointed you as watchmen among the people, and set you in the highest 
place of honour, that ye might govern the erring people ; but ye have 
"become a trap, and are to be called sportsmen rather than watchmen." 

2 As Tabor, for instance, rises up as a solitary conical hill (see at Judg. 
iv. 6), so es-Salt is built about the sides of a round steep hill, which rises 
up in a narrow rocky valley, and upon the summit of which there stands 
a strong fortification (see Seetzen in Burckhardt s Reisen in Syrien, p. 

CHAP. V. 3-5. 87 

sense of HB^, as Delitzsch does, though the use of nj?y for njiy 
in ch. x. 9 may no doubt be adduced in its support. E" 1 ^, from 
HD^ (to turn aside, Num. v. 12, 19), are literally digressions or 
excesses, answering to the hizndli in ver. 3, the leading sin of 
Israel. " They have deepened to stretch out excesses, * i.e. 
they have gone to great lengths, or are deeply sunken in ex 
cesses, a thought quite in harmony with the context, to which 
the threat is appended. " I (Jehovah) am a chastisement to 
them all, to the rulers as well as to the people ;" i.e. I will 
punish them all (cf. ver. 12), because their idolatrous conduct 
is well known to me. The way is thus prepared for the two 
following verses. 

Ver. 3. " / know Ephraim, and Israel is not hid from me : 
for now, Ephraim, thou hast committed whoredom ; Israel has 
defiled itself. Ver. 4. Their works do not allow to return to 
their God, for the spirit of whoredom is in them, and they know 
not Jehovah." By nriy, the whoredom of Ephraim is designated 
as in fact lying before them, and therefore undeniable ; but 
not, as Hitzig supposes, an act which has taken place once for 
all, viz. the choice of a king, by which the severance of the 
kingdoms and the previous idolatry had been sanctioned afresh. 
Ntp?, defiled by whoredom, i.e. idolatry. Their works do not 
allow them to return to their God, because the works are merely 
an emanation of the character and state of the heart, and in 
their hearts the demon of whoredom has its seat (cf. ch. iv. 12), 
and the knowledge of the Lord is wanting ; that is to say, the 
demoniacal power of idolatry has taken complete possession of 
the heart, and stifled the knowledge of the true God. The 
rendering, "they do not direct their actions to this," is incorrect, 
and cannot be sustained by an appeal to the use of 2? |HJ in 
Judg. xv. 1 and 1 Sam. xxiv. 8 sqq., or to Judg. iii. 28. 

Ver. 5. " And the pride of Ephraim will testify against its 
face, and Israel and Ephraim will stumble in their guilt ; Judali 
has also stumbled with them." As the meaning "to answer," to 
bear witness against a person, is well established in the case of 
? nay (cf. Num. xxxv. 30, Deut. xix. 18, and Isa. iii. 9), and 
D ^?? n:y also occurs in Job xvi. 8 in this sense, we must 
retain the same meaning here, as Jerome and others have done. 
And there is the more reason for this, because the explanation 
based upon the LXX., KOI TaireivwO^creTai rj v{3pi$, "the 

88 HOSEA. 

haughtiness of Israel will be humbled," can hardly be recon 
ciled with VJSiX The pride of Israel," moreover, is not the 
haughtiness of Israel, but that of which Israel is proud, or 
rather the glory of Israel. We might understand by this the 
flourishing condition of the kingdom, after Amos vi. 8 ; but it 
would be only by its decay that this would bear witness against 
the sin of Israel, so that " the glory of Israel " would stand for 
" the decay of that glory," which would be extremely impro 
bable. We must therefore explain " the glory of Israel " here 
and in ch. vii. 10 in accordance with Amos viii. 7, i.e. we must 
understand it as referring to Jehovah, who is Israel s eminence 
and glory ; in which case we obtain the following very appro 
priate thought : They know not Jehovah, they do not concern 
themselves about Him ; therefore He Himself will bear witness 
by judgments, by the destruction of their false glory (cf. ch. 
ii. 10-14), against the face of Israel, i.e. bear witness to their 
face. This thought occurs without ambiguity in ch. vii. 10. 
Israel will stumble in its sin, i.e. will fall and perish (as in ch. 
iv. 5). Judah also falls with Israel, because it has participated 
in Israel s sin (ch. iv. 15). 

Israel, moreover, will not be able to avert the threatening 
judgment by sacrifices. Jehovah will withdraw from the faith 
less generation, and visit it with His judgments. This is the 
train of thought in the next strophe (vers. 6-10). Ver. 6. 
" They tvill go with their sheep and their oxen to seek Jehovah, 
and will not find Him : He has withdrawn Himself from them. 
Ver. 7. They acted treacherously against Jehovah, for they have 
born strange children : now will the new moon devour them with 
their fields." The offering of sacrifices will be no help to them, 
because God has withdrawn Himself from them, and does not 
hear their prayers ; for God has no pleasure in sacrifices which 
are offered in an impenitent state of mind (cf. ch. vi. 6 ; Isa. i. 
11 sqq. ; Jer. vii. 21 sqq. ; Ps. xl. 7, 1. 8 sqq.). The reason for 
this is given in ver. 7. Bdgad, to act faithlessly, which is 
frequently applied to the infidelity of a wife towards her hus 
band (e.g. Jer. iii. 20 ; Mai. ii. 14 ; cf. Ex. xxi. 8), points to the 
conjugal relation in which Israel stood to Jehovah. Hence the 
figure which follows. " Strange children" are such as do not 
belong to the home (Deut. xxv. 5), i.e. such as have not sprung 
from the conjugal union. In actual fact, the expression is 

CHAP. V. 8. 89 

equivalent to D^UT ^3 in ch. i. 2, ii. 4, though zdr does not 
expressly mean " adulterous." Israel ought to have begot 
ten children of God in the maintenance of the covenant 
with the Lord ; but in its apostasy from God it had begotten 
an adulterous generation, children whom the Lord could not 
acknowledge as His own. " The new moon will devour them," 
viz. those who act so faithlessly. The meaning is not, " they 
will be destroyed on the next new moon ;" but the new moon, 
as the festal season, on which sacrifices were offered (1 Sam. 
xx. 6, 29 ; Isa. i. 13, 14), stands here for the sacrifices them 
selves that were offered upon it. The meaning is this : your 
sacrificial feast, your hypocritical worship, so far from bringing 
you salvation, will rather prove your ruin. &J*iJrO are not 
sacrificial portions, but the hereditary portions of Israel, the 
portions of land that fell to the different families and house 
holds, and from the produce of which they offered sacrifices to 
the Lord. 1 

The prophet sees in spirit the judgment already falling upon 
the rebellious nation, and therefore adddresses the following 
appeal to the people. Ver. 8. " Blow ye the horn at Gibeah, the 
trumpet at Ramah ! Raise the cry at Bethaven, Behind thee, 
Benjamin!" The blowing of the shophdr, a far-sounding horn, 
or of the trumpet 2 (chatsots e rdJi), was a signal by which the 
invasion of foes (ch. viii. 1 ; Jer. iv. 5, vi. 1) and other cala 
mities (Joel. :i. 1, cf. Amos iii. 6) were announced, to give the 
inhabitants warning of the danger that threatened them. The 
words therefore imply that foes had invaded the land. Gibeah 
(of Saul ; see at Josh, xviii. 28) and Ramah (of Samuel ; see 
at Josh, xviii. 25) were two elevated places on the northern 
boundary of the tribe of Benjamin, which were well adapted 
for signals, on account of their lofty situation. The intro 
duction of these particular towns, which did not belong to the 
tribe of Israel, but to that of Judah, is intended to intimate that 
the enemy has already conquered the kingdom of the ten tribes, 

1 It is very evident from this verse, that the feasts and the worship 
prescribed in the Mosaic law were observed in the kingdom of the ten 
tribes, at the places of worship in Bethel and Dan. 

2 " The sophar was a shepherd s horn, and was made of a carved horn ; 
the tuba (cMtsotsfrah} was made of brass or silver, and sounded either in 
the time of war or at festivals." JEROME. 

90 HOSEA. 

and has advanced to the border of that of Judah. ^n, to make 
a noise, is to be understood here as relating to the alarm given 
by the war-signals already mentioned, as in Joel ii. 1, cf. Num. 
x. 9. Bethaven is Bethel (Beitin), as in ch. iv. 15, the seat of 
the idolatrous worship of the calves ; and JV3 is to be taken in 
the sense of IV33 (according to Ges. 118, 1). The difficult 
words, " behind thee, Benjamin," cannot indicate the situation 
or attitude of Benjamin, in relation to Bethel or the kingdom 
of Israel, or show that " the invasion is to be expected to start 
from Benjamin," as Simson supposes. For the latter is no 
more appropriate in this train of thought than a merely geo 
graphical or historical notice. The words are taken from the 
ancient war-song of Deborah (Judg. v. 14), but in a different 
sense from that in which they are used there. There they 
mean that Benjamin marched behind Ephraim, or joined it in 
attacking the foe ; here, on the contrary, they mean that the 
foe is coming behind Benjamin that the judgment announced 
has already broken out in the rear of Benjamin. There is no 
necessity to supply " the enemy rises" behind thee, O Benjamin, 
as Jerome proposes, or " the sword rages," as Hitzig suggests ; 
but what comes behind Benjamin is implied in the words, " Blow 
ye the horn," etc. What these signals announce is coming 
after Benjamin ; there is no necessity, therefore, to supply any 
thing more than " it is," or " it comes." The prophet, for 
example, not only announces in ver. 8 that enemies will invade 
Israel, but that the hosts by which God will punish His rebellious 
people have already overflowed the kingdom of Israel, and are 
now standing upon the border of Judah, to punish this kingdom 
also for its sins. This is evident from vers. 9, 10, which con 
tain the practical explanation of ver. 8. 

Ver. 9. " Ephraim will become a desert in the day of punish 
ment : over the tribes of Israel have 1 proclaimed that which 
lasts. Ver. 10. The princes of Judah have become like boun 
dary-movers ; upon them I pour out my wrath like water" The 
kingdom of Israel will entirely succumb to the punishment. It 
will become a desert will be laid waste not only for a time, but 
permanently. The punishment with which it is threatened will 
be njOfcU. This word is to be interpreted as in Deut. xxviii. 59, 
where it is applied to lasting plagues, with which God will 
chastise the obstinate apostasy of His people. By the perfect 

CHAP. V. 11. 91 

W^ n , what is here proclaimed is represented as a completed 
event, which will not be altered. B e shibhte, not in or among the 
tribes, but according to ? W y in ver. 5, against or over the tribes 
(Hitzig). Judah also will not escape the punishment of its sins. 
The unusual expression massige g e bhul is formed after, and to 
be explained from Deut. xix. 14, " Thou shalt not remove thy 
neighbour s landmark;" or xxvii. 17, "Cursed be he that 
removeth his neighbour s landmark." The princes of Judah 
have become boundary-removers, not by hostile invasions of the 
kingdom of Israel (Simson) ; for the boundary-line between 
Israel and Judah was not so appointed by God, that a violation 
of it on the part of the princes of Judah could be reckoned a 
grievous crime, but by removing the boundaries of right which 
had been determined by God, viz. according to ch. iv. 15, by 
participating in the guilt of Ephraim, i.e. by idolatry, and there 
fore by the fact that they had removed the boundary between 
Jehovah and Baal, that is to say, between the one true God and 
idols. " If he who removes his neighbour s boundary is cursed, 
how much more he who removes the border of his God!" 
(Hengstenberg.) Upon such men the wrath of God would fall 
in its fullest measure. &??, like a stream of water, so plenti 
fully. For the figure, compare Ps. Ixix. 25, Ixxix. 6, Jer. x. 25. 
Severe judgments are thus announced to Judah, viz. those of 
which the Assyrians under Tiglath-pileser and Sennacherib 
were the instruments ; but no ruin or lasting devastation is pre 
dicted, as was the case with the kingdom of Israel, which was 
destroyed by the Assyrians. 

From these judgments Israel and Judah will not be set 
free, until in their distress they seek their God. This thought 
is expanded in the next strophe (vers. 11-15). Ver. 11. 
" Ephraim is oppressed, broken in pieces by the judgment ; for it 
has ivished, has gone according to statute." By the participles 
dshuq and rdtsuts, the calamity is represented as a lasting con 
dition, which the prophet saw in the spirit as having already 
begun. The two words are connected together even in Deut. 
xxviii. 33, to indicate the complete subjection of Israel to the 
power and oppression of its foes, as a punishment for falling 
away from the Lord. R e tsuts mishpdt does not mean " of 
broken right," or " injured in its right " (Ewald and Hitzig), 
but "broken in pieces by the judgment" (of God), with a geni- 

92 HOSEA. 

tivum efficientiS) like miikkeh Elohim in Isa. liii. 4. For it 
liked to walk according to statute. For ^QK 7|^>n compare 
Jer. ii. 5 and 2 Kings xviii. 15. Tsav is a human statute ; it 
stands both here and in Isa. xxviii. 10, 13, the only other 
passages in which it occurs, as an antithesis to the word or 
commandment of God. The statute intended is the one which 
the kingdom of Israel upheld from beginning to end, viz. the 
worship of the calves, that root of all the sins, which brought 
about the dissolution and ruin of the kingdom. 

Ver. 12. " And I am like the moth to Ephraim, and like the 
worm to the house of Judah" The moth and worm are figures 
employed to represent destructive powers ; the moth destroying 
clothes (Isa. 1. 9, li. 8 ; Ps. xxxix. 12), the worm injuring both 
wood and flesh. They are both connected again in Job xiii. 28, 
as things which destroy slowly but surely, to represent, as 
Calvin says, lenta Dei judicia. God becomes a destructive 
power to the sinner through the thorn of conscience, and the 
chastisements which are intended to effect his reformation, but 
which lead inevitably to his ruin when he hardens himself 
against them. The preaching of the law by the prophets 
sharpened the thorn in the conscience of Israel and Judah. 
The chastisement consisted in the infliction of the punishments 
threatened in the law, viz. in plagues and invasions of their 

The two kingdoms could not defend themselves against this 
chastisement by the help of any earthly power. Ver. 13. " And 
Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah his abscess ; and Ephraim 
went to Asshur, and sent to king Jareb (striver) : but he can 
not cure you, nor drive the abscess away from, you" By the 
imperfects, with Vav rel, ?fe, Kijl, the attempts of Ephraim and 
Judah to save themselves from destruction are represented as 
the consequence of the coming of God to punish, referred to 
in ver. 12. Inasmuch as this is to be seen, so far as the 
historical fulfilment is concerned, not in the present, but in 
the past and future, the attempts to obtain a cure for the 
injuries also belong to the present (? past) and future. Mdzor 
does not mean a bandage or the cure of injuries (Ges., Dietr.), 
but is derived from "ftT, to squeeze out (see Del. on Isa. i. 6), 
and signifies literally that which is pressed out, i.e. a festering 
wound, an abscess. It has this meaning not only here, but also 

CHAP. V. 14, 15. 93 

in Jer. xxx. 13, from which the meaning bandage has been 
derived. On the figure employed, viz. the disease of the body 
politic, see Delitzsch on Isa. i. 5, 6. That this disease is not to be 
sought for specially in anarchy and civil war (Hitzig), is evident 
from the simple fact, that Judah, which was saved from these 
evils, is described as being just as sick as Ephraim. The real 
disease of the two kingdoms was apostasy from the Lord, or 
idolatry with its train of moral corruption, injustice, crimes, 
and vices of every kind, which destroyed the vital energy and 
vital marrow of the two kingdoms, and generated civil war and 
anarchy in the kingdom of Israel. Ephraim sought for help 
from the Assyrians, viz. from king Jareb, but without obtaining 
it. The name Jareb, i.e. warrior, which occurs here and at ch. 
x. 6, is an epithet formed by the prophet himself, and applied 
to the king of Assyria, not of Egypt, as Theodoret supposes. 
The omission of the article from S]7D may be explained from 
the fact that Jdrebh is, strictly speaking, an appellative, as in 
:J7 7WO^ in Prov. xxxi. 1. We must not supply Y e huddh as 
the subject to vayyishlach. The omission of any reference to 
Judah in the second half of the verse, may be accounted for 
from the fact that the prophecy had primrily and principally 
to do with Ephraim, and that Judah was only cursorily men 
tioned. The air. \ey. rTO from nn3 ? in Syriac to be shy, to flee, 
is used with min in the tropical sense of removing or driving 

No help is to be expected from Assyria, because the Lord 
will punish His people. Ver. 14. " For I am like a lion to 
Ephraim, and like the young lion to the house of Judah : /, / 
tear in pieces, and go ; I carry away, and there is no deliverer. 
Ver. 15. I go, return to my place, till they repent and shall seek my 
face. In their affliction they will seek me early" For the figure 
of the lion, which seizes it prey, and tears it in pieces without 
deliverance, see ch. xiii. 7 and Isa. v. 29. K^ denotes the 
carrying away of booty, as in 1 Sam. xvii. 34. For the fact 
itself, compare Deut. xxxii. 39. The first clause of ver. 15 is 
still to be interpreted from the figure of the lion. As the lion 
withdraws into its cave, so will the Lord withdraw into His 
own place, viz. heaven, and deprive the Israelites of His gra 
cious, helpful presence, until they repent, i.e. not only feel 
themselves guilty, but feel the guilt by bearing the punishment. 

94 HOSEA. 

Suffering punishment awakens the need of mercy, and impels 
them to seek the face of the Lord. The expression, " in the 
distress to them," recals ^ "i? in Deut. iv. 30. Shicher is to 
be taken as a denom. of shachar, the morning dawn (ch. vi. 3), 
in the sense of early, i.e. zealously, urgently, as the play upon 
the word "in^G j n ch. v i. 3 unmistakeably shows. For the fact 
itself, compare ch. ii. 9 and Deut. iv. 29, 30. 

Chap. vi. 1-3. To this threat the prophet appends in the 
concluding strophe, both the command to return to the Lord, 
and the promise that the Lord will raise His smitten nation up 
again, and quicken them anew with His grace. The separa 
tion of these three verses from the preceding one, by the divi 
sion of the chapters, is at variance with the close connection in 
the actual contents, which is so perfectly obvious in the allusion 
made in the words of ver. 1, " Come, and let us return," to 
those of ch. v. 15, "I will go, and return," and in UK3T1 Tl^ 
(ver. 1) to the similar words in ch. v. 13& and 14. Ver. 1. 
" Come, and let us return to Jehovah : for He lias torn in pieces, 
and will heal us ; He has smitten, and will bind us up. Ver. 2. 
He will quicken us after two days ; on the third He will raise us 
up, that we may live before Him." The majority of commen 
tators, following the example of the Chald. and Septuagint, in 
which "ibK?, \e>yovTe$, is interpolated before w, have taken the 
first three verses as an appeal to return to the Lord, addressed 
by the Israelites in exile to one another. But it would be 
more simple, and more in harmony with the general style of 
Hosea, which is characterized by rapid transitions, to take the 
words as a call addressed by the prophet in the name of the 
Lord to the people, whom the Lord had smitten or sent into 
exile. The promise in ver. 3 especially is far more suitable to 
a summons of this kind, than to an appeal addressed by the 
people to one another. As the endurance of punishment im 
pels to seek the Lord (ch. v. 15), so the motive to, return to the 
Lord is founded upon the knowledge of the fact that the Lord 
can, and will, heal the wounds which He inflicts. The pre 
terite tdraph, as compared with the future etroph in ch. v. 14, 
presupposes that the punishment has already begun. The 
following t\1 is also a preterite with the Vav consec. omitted. 
The Assyrian cannot heal (ch. v. 13) ; but the Lord, who 
manifested Himself as Israel s physician in the time of Moses 

CHAP. VI. 1, 2. 95 

(Ex. xv. 26), and promised His people healing in the future 
also (Deut. xxxii. 39), surely can. The allusion in the word 
JONsnV to this passage of Deuteronomy, is placed beyond all 
doubt by ver. 2. The words, " He revives after two days,"- 
etc., are merely a special application of the general declaration, 
" I kill, and make alive " (Deut. xxxii. 39), to the particular 
case in hand. What the Lord there promises to all His people, 
He will also fulfil upon the ten tribes of Israel. By the de 
finition " after two days," and " on the third day," the speedy 
and certain revival of Israel is set before them. Two and three 
days are very short periods of time ; and the linking together 
of two numbers following one upon the other, expresses the 
certainty of what is to take place within this space of time, just 
as in the so-called numerical sayings in Amos i. 3, Job v. 19, 
Prov. vi. 16, xxx. 15, 18, in which the last and greater number 
expresses the highest or utmost that is generally met with. 
fi j?n, to raise the dead (Job xiv. 12 ; Ps. Ixxxviii. 11 ; Isa. xxvi. 
14, 19). " That we may live before Him :" i.e. under His 
sheltering protection and grace (cf. Gen. xvii. 18). The earlier 
Jewish and Christian expositors have taken the numbers, "after 
two days, and on the third day," chronologically. The Rabbins 
consequently suppose the prophecy to refer either to the three 
captivities, the Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Roman, 
which has not ended yet ; or to the three periods of the temple 
of Solomon, of that of Zerubbabel, and of the one to be erected 
by the Messiah. Many of the fathers, on the other hand, and 
many of the early Lutheran commentators, have found in them 
a prediction of the death of Christ and His resurrection on the 
third day. Compare, for example, Calovii BibL illustr. ad h. L, 
where this allusion is defended by a long series of undeniably 
weak arguments, and where a fierce attack is made, not only 
upon Calvin, who understood these words as " referring to the 
liberation of Israel from captivity, and the restoration of the 
church after two days, i.e. in a very short time ;" but also upon 
Grotius, who found, in addition to the immediate historical 
allusion to the Israelites, whom God would soon liberate from 
their death-like misery after their conversion, a foretype, in con 
sequence of a special divine indication, of the time " within which 
Christ would recover His life, and the church its hope." But 
any direct allusion in the hope here uttered to the death and 

96 HOSEA. 

resurrection of Christ, is proved to be untenable by the simple 
words and their context. The words primarily hold out nothing 
more than the quickening of Israel out of its death-like state of 
rejection from the face of God, and that in a very short period 
after its conversion to the Lord. This restoration to life can 
not indeed be understood as referring to the return of the 
exiles to their earthly fatherland ; or, at all events, it cannot be 
restricted to this. It does not occur till after the conversion 
of Israel to the Lord its God, on the ground of faith in the 
redemption effected through the atoning death of Christ, and 
His resurrection from the grave ; so that the words of the 
prophet may be applied to this great fact in the history of 
salvation, but without its being either directly or indirectly 
predicted. Even the resurrection of the dead is not predicted, 
but simply the spiritual and moral restoration of Israel to life, 
which no doubt has for its necessary complement the reawaken 
ing of the physically dead. And, in this sense, our passage may 
be reckoned among the prophetic utterances which contain the 
germ of the hope of a life after death, as in Isa. xxvi. 19-21, 
and in the vision of Ezekiel in Ezek. xxxvii. 1-14. 

That it did not refer to this in its primary sense, and so far 
as its historical fulfilment was concerned, is evident from the 
following verse. Ver. 3. " Let us therefore know, hunt after 
the knowledge of Jehovah. His rising is fixed like the morning 
dawn, that He may come to us like the rain, and moisten the 
earth like the latter rain." "U nj. corresponds to ni^Jl b in 
ver. 1. The object to njTU is also njn^ns, and njru is merely 
strengthened by the addition of njn? <"i?T!?. The knowledge of 
Jehovah, which they would hunt after, i.e. strive zealously to 
obtain, is a practical knowledge, consisting in the fulfilment of 
the divine commandments, and in growth in the love of God with 
all the heart. This knowledge produces fruit. The Lord will 
rise upon Israel like the morning dawn, and come down upon 
it like fertilizing rain. itfio ? His (i.e. Jehovah s) rising, is to 
be explained from the figure of the dawn (for K applied to the 
rising of the sun, see Gen. xix. 23 and Ps. xix. 7). The dawn 
is mentioned instead of the sun, as the herald of the dawning 
day of salvation (compare Isa. Iviii. 8 and Ix. 2). This salva 
tion which dawns when the Lord appears, is represented in the 
last clause as a shower of rain that fertilizes the land, niv is 

CHAP. VI. 4- VII. 16. 97 

hardly a kal participle, but rather the imperfect hiphil in the 
sense of sprinkling. In Deut. xi. 14 (cf. xxviii. 12 and Lev. 
xxvi. 4, 5), the rain, or the early and latter rain, is mentioned 
among the blessings which the Lord will bestow upon His 
people, when they serve Him with all the heart and soul. This 
promise the Lord will so fulfil in the case of His newly quick 
ened nation, that He Himself will refresh it like a fertilizing 
rain. This will take place through the Messiah, as Ps. Ixxii. 6 
and 2 Sam. xxiii. 4 clearly show. 


Just as, in the middle section of the first part of our book 
(ch. ii. 2-23), the symbolical announcements of judgment con 
tained in ch. i. were more fully elaborated and explained ; so 
again, in the second part, after the shorter description of the cor 
ruption and culpability of Israel contained in ch. iv. v., we find 
in the second or middle section, viz. ch. vi. 4-xi. 11, a longer 
account both of the religious apostasy and moral corruption 
which have become so injurious, and also of the judgment 
about to fall upon the sinful kingdom and people. In this, the 
condemnation of sin and threatening of punishment follow 
one another throughout ; but in such a way that in this longer 
exposition the progressive development of these truths is clearly 
indicated in the fact, that in the first section (ch. vi. 4 vii. 16) 
the description of the religious and moral degradation of the 
nation and its princes prevails ; in the second (ch. viii. 1-ix. 9) 
the threatening of judgment comes into the foreground ; and 
in the third (ch. ix. 10-xi. 11) evidence is adduced, how, from 
time immemorial, Israel has resisted the gracious guidance of 
God, so that nothing but the compassion of God can preserve 
it from utter annihilation. Each of these divisions may be sub 
divided again into three strophes. 

The Incurableness of the Corruption. Chap. vi. 4-vii. 16. 

The prophet s address commences afresh, as in ch. ii. 4, 
without any introduction, with the denunciation of the incura 
bility of the Israelites. Vers. 4-11 form the first strophe. 

VOL. I. G 

98 HOSEA. 

Ver. 4. " What shall I do to thee, Ephraim f what shall I do to 
thee, Judah ? for your love is like the morning cloudy and like the 
dew which quickly passes away." That this verse is not to be 
taken in connection with the preceding one, as it has been by 
Luther ( a how shall I do such good to thee?") and by many of 
the earlier expositors, is evident from the substance of the verse 
itself. For asa/i, in the sense of doing good, is neither possible 
in itself, nor reconcilable with the explanatory clause which 
follows. The chesed, which is like the morning cloud, cannot 
be the grace of God ; for a morning cloud that quickly vanishes 
away, is, according to ch. xiii. 3, a figurative representation of 
that which is evanescent and perishable. The verse does not 
contain an answer from Jehovah, " who neither receives nor 
repels the penitent, because though they love God it is only 
with fickleness," as Hitzig supposes ; but rather the thought, 
that God has already tried all kinds of punishment to bring 
the people back to fidelity to Himself, but all in vain (cf. Isa. 
i. 5, 6), because the piety of Israel is as evanescent and tran 
sient as a morning cloud, which is dispersed by the rising sun. 
Judging from the chesed in ver. 6, chasd e khem is to be under 
stood as referring to good-will towards other men flowing out 
of love to God (see at ch. iv. 1). 

Ver. 5. " Therefore have I hewn by the prophets, slain them 
by the words of my mouth : and my judgment goeth forth as 
light." Al-ken, therefore, because your love vanishes again 
and again, God must perpetually punish. 2 2Vn does not mean 
to strike in among the prophets (Hitzig, after the LXX., Syr., 
and others) ; but 2 is instrumental, as in Isa. x. 15, and chdtsabh 
signifies to hew, not merely to hew off, but to hew out or carve. 
The tfbhilm cannot be false prophets, on account of the parallel 
" by the words of my mouth," but must be the true prophets. 
Through them God had hewed or carved the nation, or, as 
Jerome and Luther render it, dolavi, i.e. worked it like a piece 
of hard wood, in other words, had tried to improve it, and shape 
it into a holy nation, answering to its true calling. " Slain by 
the words of my mouth," which the prophets had spoken ; i.e. 
not merely caused death and destruction to be proclaimed to 
them, but suspended judgment and death over them as, for 
example, by Elijah since there dwells in the word of God the 
power to kill and to make alive (compare Isa. xi. 4, xlix. 2). The 

CHAP. VI. 6, 7. 9i) 

last clause, according to the Masoretic pointing and division of 
the words, does not yield any appropriate meaning. T9?^P could 
only be the judgments inflicted upon the nation; but neither the 
singular suffix *| for 03 ( ver - 4), nor N^. liK, with the singular 
verb under the 3 simil. omitted before "liN, suits this explanation. 
For Ky r "NK cannot mean "to go forth to the light;" nor can "ritf 
stand for "liN/. We must therefore regard the reading expressed 
by the ancient versions, 1 viz. fcttP "riKJ **?fi$p, "my judgment 
goeth forth like light," as the original one. My penal judgment 
went forth like the light (the sun) ; i.e. the judgment inflicted 
upon the sinners was so obvious, so conspicuous (clear as the 
sun), that every one ought to have observed it and laid it to 
heart (cf. Zeph. iii. 5). The Masoretic division of the words 
probably arose simply from an unsuitable reminiscence of Ps. 
xxxvii. 6. 

The reason why God was obliged to punish in this manner 
is given in the following verses. Ver. 6. " For I take pleasure 
in love, and not in sacrifices ; and in the knowledge of God more 
than in burnt-offerings. Ver. 7. But they have transgressed the 
covenant like Adam : there have they acted treacherously towards 
me" Chesed is love to one s neighbour, manifesting itself in 
righteousness, love which has its roots in the knowledge of 
God, and therefore is connected with " the knowledge of God " 
here as in ch. iv. 1. For the thought itself, compare the re 
marks on the similar declaration made by the prophet Samuel 
in 1 Sam. xv. 22; and for parallels as to the fact, see Isa. i. 
11-17, Mic. vi. 8, Ps. xl. 7-9, and Ps. 1. 8 sqq., in all which 
passages it is not sacrifices in themselves," but simply the heart 
less sacrifices with which the wicked fancied they could cover 
their sins, that are here rejected as displeasing to God, and as 
abominations in His eyes. This is apparent also from the 
antithesis in ver. 7, viz. the reproof of their transgression of the 
covenant, nan (they) are Israel and Judah, not the priests, 
whose sins are first referred to in ver. 9. & 1 ?, not " after the 
manner of men," or "like ordinary men," for this explana 
tion would only be admissible if nan referred to the priests 
or prophets, or if a contrast were drawn between the rulers 

1 The Vulgate in some of the ancient MSS. has also judicium meum, 
instead of the judicia tua of the Sixtina. See Kennicott, Diss. gener. ed. 
Bruns. p. 55 sc^. 

100 ROSE A. 

and others, as in Ps. Ixxxii. 7, bat " like Adam," who trans 
gressed the commandment of God, that he should not eat of 
the tree of knowledge. This command was actually a covenant, 
which God made with him, since the object of it was the pre 
servation of Adam in vital fellowship with the Lord, as was 
the case with the covenant that God made with Israel (see Job 
xxxi. 33, and Delitzsch s Commentary). The local expression 
", there," points to the place where the faithless apostasy had 
occurred, as in Ps. xiv. 5. This is not more precisely defined, 
but refers no doubt to Bethel as the scene of the idolatrous 
worship. There is no foundation for the temporal rendering 

The prophet cites a few examples in proof of this faithless 
ness in the two following verses. Ver. 8. " Gilead is a city of 
evil-doers^ trodden with blood. Ver. 9. And like the lurking 
of the men of the gangs is the covenant of the priests; along 
the way they murder even to Sichem : yea, they have committed 
infamy." Gilead is not a city, for no such city is mentioned in 
the Old Testament, and its existence cannot be proved from 
Judg. xii. 7 and x. 17, any more than from Gen xxxi. 48, 49, 1 
but it is the name of a district, as it is everywhere else ; and 
here in all probability it stands, as it very frequently does, 
for the whole of the land of Israel to the east of the Jordan. 
Hosea calls Gilead a city of evil-doers, as being a rendezvous 
for wicked men, to express the thought that the whole land 
was as full of evil-doers as a city is of men. najpy : a denom. of 
3y ? a footstep, signifying marked with traces, full of traces of 

1 The statement of the Onomast. (s. v. Ta hcx.oiS), that there is also a 
city called Galaad, situated in the mountain which Galaad the son of 
Machir, the son of Manasseh, took from the Amorite, and that of Jerome, 
"from which mountain the city built in it derived its name, viz. that which 
was taken," etc., furnish no proof of the existence of a city called Gilead 
in the time of the Israelites ; since Eusebius and Jerome have merely 
inferred the existence of such a city from statements in the Old Testa 
ment, more especially from the passage quoted by them just before, viz. 
Jer. xxii. 6, Galaad tu mihi initium Libani, taken in connection with Num. 
xxxii. 39-42, as the words " which Gilead took" clearly prove. And with 
regard to the ruined cities Jelaad and Jelaud, which are situated, according 
to Burckhardt (pp. 599, 600), upon the mountain called Jebel Jelaad or 
Jelaud, it is not known that they date from antiquity at all. Burckhardt 
gives no description of them, and does not even appear to have visited 
the ruins. 

CHAP. VI. 8, d. 101 

blood, which are certainly not to be understood as referring to 
idolatrous sacrifices, as Schmieder imagines, but which point to 
murder and bloodshed. It is quite as arbitrary, however, on 
the part of Hitzig to connect it with the murder of Zechariah, 
or a massacre associated with it, as it is on the part of Jerome 
and others to refer it to the deeds of blood by which Jehu 
secured the throne. The bloody deeds of Jehu took place in 
Jezreel and Samaria (2 Kings ix. x.), and it was only by a 
false interpretation of the epithet applied to Shallum, viz. 
Ben-ydbliesh) as signifying citizens of Jabesh, that Hitzig was 
able to trace a connection between it and Gilead. Ver. 9. In 
these crimes the priests take the lead. Like highway robbers, 
they form themselves into gangs for the purpose of robbing 
travellers and putting them to death. *3H, so written instead 
of nsn (Ewald, 16, &), is an irregularly formed infinitive for 
rrisn (Ewald, 238, e). Ish tfdudlm, a man of fighting-bands, 
i.e. in actual fact a highway robber, who lies in wait for 
travellers. 1 The company (cliebher, gang) of the priests re 
sembled such a man. They murder on the way (derekh, an 
adverbial accusative) to Sichem. Sichem, a place on Mount 
Ephraim, between Ebal and Gerizim, the present Nablus (see 
at Josh. xvii. 7), was set apart as a city of refuge and a Levi- 
tical city (Josh. xx. 7, xxi. 21) ; from which the more recent 
commentators have inferred that priests from Sichem, using the 
privileges of their city to cover crimes of their own, committed 
acts of murder, either upon fugitives who were hurrying thither, 
and whom they put to death at the command of the leading 
men who were ill-disposed towards them (Ewald), or upon other 
travellers, either from avarice or simple cruelty. But, apart 
from the fact that the Levitical cities are here confounded with 
the priests cities (for Sichem was only a Levitical city, and 
not a priests city at all), this conclusion is founded upon the 

1 The first hemistich has been entirely misunderstood by the LXX., 
who have confounded ^nij with ?|nb, and rendered the clause xott y iff%vs 
ooi> dv^pof -TTupctTov x,pvij/otv (1311 or ISOn instead of inn) itpsfs 6$6v. 
Jerome has also rendered ^PD strangely, et quasi fauces Oans) virorum 
latronum particeps sacerdotum. Luther, on the other hand, has caught the 
sense quite correctly on the whole, and simply rendered it rather freely : 
* And the priests with their mobs are like footpads, who lie in wait for 

102 HOSE A. 

erroneous assumption, that the priests who were taken by 
Jeroboam from the people generally, had special places of 
abode assigned them, such as the law had assigned for the 
Levitical priests. The way to Sichem is mentioned as a place 
of murders and bloody deeds, because the road from Samaria 
the capital, and in fact from the northern part of the kingdom 
generally, to Bethel the principal place of worship belonging to 
the kingdom of the ten tribes, lay through this city. Pilgrims 
to the feasts for the most part took this road ; and the priests, 
who were taken from the dregs of the people, appear to have 
lain in wait for them, either to rob, or, in case of resistance, 
to murder. The following *3 carries it still higher, and adds 
another crime to the murderous deeds. Zimmdh most probably 
refers to an unnatural crime, as in Lev. xviii. 17, xix. 29. 

Thus does Israel heap up abomination upon abomination. 
Ver. 10. " In the house of Israel I saiv a horrible thing : there 
Ephraim practises whoredom : Israel has defiled itself" The 
house of Israel is v the kingdom of the ten tribes, nj"}*" 1 ^, a 
horrible thing, signifies abominations and crimes of every kind. 
In the second hemistich, z e nuth, i.e. spiritual and literal whore 
dom, is singled out as the principal sin. Ephraim is not the 
name of a tribe here, as Simson supposes, but is synonymous 
with the parallel Israel. 

In conclusion, Judah is mentioned again, that it may not 
regard itself as better or less culpable. Ver. 11. " Also, 
Judah, a harvest is appointed for thee, when I turn the imprison 
ment of my people." Judah stands at the head as an absolute 
noun, and is then defined by the following 7]?. The subject to 
shdth cannot be either Israel or Jehovah. The first, which Hitzig 
adopts, " Israel has prepared a harvest for thee," does not 
supply a thought at all in harmony with the connection ; and 
the second is precluded by the fact that Jehovah Himself is 
the speaker. Shdth is used here in a passive sense, as in Job 
xxxviii. 11 (cf. Ges. 137, 3*). *VX\>, harvest, is a figurative 
term for the judgment, as in Joel iv. 13, Jer. li. 33. As 
Judah has sinned as well as Israel, it cannot escape the punish 
ment (cf. ch. v. 5, 14). TltoB* 2W never means to bring back 
the captives ; but in every passage in which it occurs it simply 
means to turn the captivity, and that in the figurative sense of 
restitutio in integrum (see at Deut. xxx. 3). Amml, my people, 

CHAP. VII. 1-3. 103 

i.e. the people of Jehovah, is not Israel of the ten tribes, but the 
covenant nation as a whole. Consequently sh e bhuth ammi is 
the misery into which Israel (of the twelve tribes) had been 
brought, through its falling away from God, not the Assyrian 
or Babylonian exile, but the misery brought about by the sins 
of the people. God could only avert this by means of judg 
ments, through which the ungodly were destroyed and the 
penitent converted. Consequently the following is the thought 
which we obtain from the verse : " When God shall come to 
punish, that He may root out ungodliness, and bring back His 
people to their true destination, Judah will also be visited with 
the judgment." We must not only reject the explanation 
adopted by Rosenmuller, Maurer, and Umbreit, " when Israel 
shall have received its chastisement, and be once more received 
and restored by the gracious God, the richly merited punish 
ment shall come upon Judah also," but that of Schmieder 
as well, who understands by the " harvest" a harvest of joy. 
They are both founded upon the false interpretation of shubh 
sh e bhuth, as signifying the bringing back of the captives ; and 
in the first there is the arbitrary limitation of amml to the ten 
tribes. Our verse says nothing as to the question when and 
how God will turn the captivity of the people and punish 
Judah ; this must be determined from other passages, which 
announce the driving into exile of both Israel and Judah, and 
the eventual restoration of those who are converted to the 
Lord their God. The complete turning of the captivity of trie 
covenant nation will not take place till Israel as a nation shall 
be converted to Christ its Saviour. 

Chap. vii. In the first strophe (vers. 1-7) the exposure of 
the moral depravity of Israel is continued. Ver. 1. " When I 
heal Israel, the iniquity of Ephraim reveals itself, and the wicked 
ness of Samaria : for they practise deceit ; and the thief cometh, 
the troop of robbers plundereth without. Ver. 2. And they say 
not in their heart, 1 should remember all their wickedness. Now 
their deeds have surrounded them, they have occurred before my face. 
Ver. 3. T/iey delight the king with their wickedness, and princes 
with their lies." As the dangerous nature of a wound is often 
first brought out by the attempt to heal it, so was the corruption 
of Israel only brought truly to light by the effort to stem it. 
The first hemistich of ver. 1 is not to be referred to the future, 

104 HOSE A. 

nor is the healing to be understood as signifying punishment, 
as Hitzig supposes ; but the allusion is to the attempts made by 
God to put a stop to the corruption, partly by the preaching 
of repentance and the reproofs of the prophets, and partly by 
chastisements designed to promote reformation. The words 
contain no threatening of punishment, but a picture of the 
moral corruption that had become incurable. Here again 
Ephraim is not the particular tribe, but is synonymous with 
Israel, the people or kingdom of the ten tribes ; and Samaria is 
especially mentioned in connection with it, as the capital and 
principal seat of the corruption of morals, just as Judah and 
Jerusalem are frequently classed together by the prophets. 
The lamentation concerning the incurability of the kingdom is 
followed by an explanatory notice of the sins and crimes that 
are openly committed. Sheqer, lying, i.e. deception both in 
word and deed towards God and man, theft and highway 
robbery, and not fear of the vengeance of God. " Accedit ad 
hcec facinora securitas eorum ineffabilis" (Marck). They do not 
consider that God will remember their evil deeds, and punish 
them ; they are surrounded by them on all sides, and perform 
them without shame or fear before the face of God Himself. 
These sins delight both king and prince. To such a depth have 
even the rulers of the nation, who ought to practise justice and 
righteousness, fallen, that they not only fail to punish the sins, 
but take pleasure in their being committed. 

To this there is added the passion with which the people 
Yiake themselves slaves to idolatry, and their rulers give them 
selves up to debauchery (vers. 4-7). Ver. 4. " They are all 
adulterers, like an oven heated by the baker, who leaves off stirring 
from the kneading of the dough until its leavening. Ver. 5. In the 
day of our king the princes are made sick with the heat of ivine : 
he has stretched out his hand with the scorners. Ver. 6. For they 
have brought their heart into their ambush, as into the oven; 
the whole night their baker sleeps ; in the morning it burns like 
flaming fire. Ver. 7. Tliey are all red-hot like the oven, and con 
sume their judges : all their kings have fallen ; none among them 
calls to me." " All" (kulldm : ver. 4) does not refer to the king 
and princes, but to the whole nation. *\ty is spiritual adultery, 
apostasy from the Lord ; and literal adultery is only so far to 
be thought of, that the worship of Baal promoted licentiousness. 

CHAP. VII. 4-7. 105 

In this passionate career the nation resembles a furnace which 
a baker heats in the evening, and leaves burning all night while 
the dough is leavening, and then causes to burn with a still 
brighter flame in the morning, when the dough is ready for 
baking. HSNO n"JP3, burning from the baker, i.e. heated by the 
baker, iTjjja is accentuated as milel, either because the Maso- 
retes took offence at "ttHFJ being construed as a feminine (Ges. 
Lehrgeb. p. 546 ; Ewald, Gramm. p. 449, note 1), or because 
tiphchah could not occupy any other place in the short space 
between zakeph and athnach (Hitzig). "^Vi?, excitare, here in 
the sense of stirring. On the use of the participle in the 
place of the infinitive, with verbs of beginning and ending, see 
Ewald, 298, b. 

Both king and princes are addicted to debauchery (ver. 5). 
" The day of our king" is either the king s birthday, or the day 
when he ascended the throne, on either of which he probably 
gave a feast to his nobles. DV is taken most simply as an 
adverbial accus. loci. On this particular day the princes drink 
to such an extent, that they become ill with the heat of the 
wine, vfjpj generally to make ill, here to make one s self ill. 
Hitzig follows the ancient versions, in deriving it from y?n, and 
taking it as equivalent to &pn, " they begin," which gives a very 
insipid meaning. The difficult expression HlK iT ^p ? " he 
draws his hand with the scoffers," can hardly be understood in 
any other way than that suggested by Gesenius (Lex.\ " the 
king goes about with scoffers," i.e. makes himself familiar with 
ihem, so that we may compare Dy.ftJ. JW (Ex. xxiii. 1). The 
sdoffers are drunkards, just as in Prov. xx. 1 wine is directly 
called a scoffer. In vers. 6, 7, the thought of the fourth verse 
is carried out still further. S 3 introduces the explanation and 
ground of the simile of the furnace ; for ver. 5 is subordinate 
to the main thought, and to be taken as a parenthetical remark. 
The words from ^"ip ^3 to B2">K3 form one sentence. IHi? is 
construed with 3 loci, as in Judg. xix. 13, Ps. xci. 10: they 
have brought their heart near, brought them into their crafti 
ness. " Like a furnace" ("N3n3) contains an abridged simile. 
But it is not their heart itself which is here compared to a 
furnace (their heart = themselves), in the sense of " burning 
like a flaming furnace with base desires," as Gesenius sup 
poses ; for the idea of bringing a furnace into an orebh would be 

106 HOSEA. 

unsuitable and unintelligible. " The furnace is rather orbdm 
(their ambush), that which they have in common, that which 
keeps them together ; whilst the fuel is libbdm, their own dis 
position" (Hitzig). Their baker is the machinator doli, who 
kindles the fire in them, i.e. in actual fact, not some person or 
other who instigates a conspiracy, but the passion of idolatry. 
This sleeps through the night, i.e. it only rests till the oppor 
tunity and time have arrived for carrying out the evil thoughts 
of their heart, or until the evil thoughts of the heart have 
become ripe for execution. This time is described in harmony 
with the figure, as the morning, in which the furnace burns up 
into bright flames (fcttn points to the more remote tannur as the 
subject). In ver. 7 the figure is carried back to the literal fact. 
With the words, " they are all hot as a furnace," the expression 
in ver. 4, " adulterous like a furnace," is resumed ; and now 
the fruit of this conduct is mentioned, viz. " they devour their 
judges, cast down their kings." By the judges we are not to 
understand the sdrlin of ver. 5, who are mentioned along with 
the king as the supreme guardians of the law ; but the kings 
themselves are intended, as the administrators of justice, as in 
ch. xiii. 10, where slwplftlm is also used as synonymous with 
?IJO, and embraces both king and princes. The clause, " all 
their kings are fallen," adds no new feature to what precedes, 
and does not affirm that kings have also fallen in addition to or 
along with the judges ; but it sums up what has been stated 
already, for the purpose of linking on the remark, that no one 
calls to the Lord concerning the fall of the kings. The suffix 
DH2 does not refer to the fallen kings, but to the nation in its 
entirety, i.e. to those who have devoured their judges. The 
thought is this : in the passion with which all are inflamed for 
idolatry, and with which the princes revel with the kings, they 
give no such heed to the inevitable consequences of their un 
godly conduct, as that any one reflects upon the fall of the 
kings, or perceives that Israel has forsaken the way which leads 
to salvation, and is plunging headlong into the abyss of destruc 
tion, so as to return to the Lord, who alone can help and save. 
The prophet has here the times after Jeroboam II. in his mind, 
when Zechariah was overthrown by Shallum, Shallum by 
Menahem, and Menahem the son of Pekahiah by Pekah, and 
that in the most rapid succession (2 Kings xv. 10, 14, 25), 

CHAP. VII. 8, 9. 107 

together with the eleven years anarchy between Zechariah and 
Shallum (see at 2 Kings xv. 8-12). At the same time, the 
expression, " all their kings have fallen," shows clearly, not 
only that the words are not to be limited to these events, but 
embrace all the earlier revolutions, but also and still more 
clearly, that there is no foundation whatever for the widespread 
historical interpretation of these verses, as relating to a con 
spiracy against the then reigning king Zechariah, or Shallum, 
or Pekahiah. according to which the baker is either Menahem 

7 O 

(Hitzig) or Pekah (Schmidt). 

In the next strophe (vers. 8-16) the prophecy passes from 
the internal corruption of the kingdom of the ten tribes to its 
worthless foreign policy, and the injurious attitude which it had 
assumed towards the heathen nations, and unfolds the disastrous 
consequences of such connections. Ver. 8. " Ephraim, it mixes 
itself among the nations ; Epliraim has become a cake not turned. 
Ver. 9. Strangers have devoured his strength, and he knoweth it 
not ; grey hair is also sprinkled upon him, and he knoweth it not." 
bjiBJV, from ,03, to mix or commingle, is not a future in the 
sense of "it will be dispersed among the Gentiles;" for, accord 
ing to the context, the reference is not to the punishment of 
the dispersion of Israel among the nations, but to the state in 
which Israel then was. The Lord had separated Israel from 
the nations, that it might be holy to Him (Lev. xx. 24, 26). 
As Balaam said of it, it was to be a people dwelling alone 
(Num. xxiii. 9). But in opposition to this object of its divine 
calling, the ten tribes had mingled with the nations, i.e. with 
the heathen, learned their works, and served their idols (cf. 
Ps. cvi. 35, 36). The mingling with the nations consisted in 
the adoption of heathen ways, not in the penetration of the 
heathen into Israelitish possessions (Hitzig), nor merely in the 
alliances which it formed with heathen nations. For these 
were simply the consequence of inward apostasy from its God, 
of that inward mixing with the nature of heathenism which had 
already taken place. Israel had thereby become a cake not 
turned, nay, a cake baked upon hot ashes or red-hot stones, 
which, if it be not turned, is burned at the bottom, and not 
baked at all above. The meaning of this figure is explained 
by ver. 9. As the fire will burn an ash-cake when it is left 
unturned, so have foreigners consumed the strength of Israel, 

108 HOSE A. 

partly by devastating wars, and partly by the heathenish nature 
which has penetrated into Israel in their train. " Greyness is 
also sprinkled upon it;" i.e. the body politic, represented as one 
person, is already covered with traces of hoary old age, and is 
ripening for destruction. The object to JHJ. *& may easily be 
supplied from the previous clauses, namely, that strangers de 
vour its strength, and it is growing old. The rendering non 
sapit is precluded by the emphatic fcttrn, and he knoweth it not, 
i.e. does not perceive the decay of his strength. 

Ver. 10. " And the pride of Israel beareth witness to his face, 
and they are not converted to Jehovah their God, and for all this 
they seek Him not" The first clause is repeated from ch. v. 5. 
The testimony which the pride of Israel, i.e. Jehovah, bore to 
its face, consisted in the weakening and wasting away of the 
kingdom as described in ver. 9. But with all this, they do not 
turn to the Lord who could save them, but seek help from their 
natural foes. 

Ver. 11. " And Ephraim has become like a simple dove without 
understanding ; they have called Egypt, they are gone to Asshur. 
Ver. 12. As they go, I spread my net over them ; I bring them 
down like fowls of the heaven ; I ivill chastise them, according to 
the tidings to their assembly" The perfects in ver. 11 describe 
the conduct of Israel as an accomplished fact, and this is re 
presented by W as the necessary consequence of its obstinate 
impenitence. The point of comparison between Israel and the 
simple dove, is not that the dove misses its proper dwelling 
and resting-place, and therefore goes fluttering about (Ewald) ; 
nor that, in trying to escape from the hawk, it flies into the 
net of the bird-catcher (Hitzig) ; but that when flying about in 
search of food, it does not observe the net that is spread for it 
(Rosenmuller). 2^ pK is to be taken as a predicate to Ephraim 
in spite of the accents, and not to yondh phothdh (a simple 
dove), since phothdh does not require either strengthening or 
explaining. Thus does Ephraim seek help from Egypt and 
Assyria. These words do not refer to the fact that there were 
two parties in the nation an Assyrian and an Egyptian. Nor 
do they mean that the whole nation applied at one time to 
Egypt to get rid of Asshur, and at another time to Asshur to 
escape from Egypt. " The situation is rather this : the people 
being sorely pressed by Asshur, at one time seek help from 

CHAP. VII 13, 14. 109 

Egypt against Asshur ; whilst at another they try to secure 
the friendship of the latter" (Hengstenberg, Christology, i. p. 
164 transl.). For what threatened Israel was the burden of the 
" king of princes " (ch. viii. 10), i.e. the king of Asshur. And 
this they tried to avert partly by their coquettish arts (ch. 
viii. 9), and partly by appealing to the help of Egypt ; and 
while doing so, they did not observe that they had fallen into 
the net of destruction, viz. the power of Assyria. In this net 
will the Lord entangle them as a punishment. As they go 
thither, God will spread His net over them like a bird-catcher, 
and bring them down to the earth like flying birds, i.e. bring 
them down from the open air, that is to say, from freedom, 
into the net of captivity, or exile. BT?^? a rare hiphil forma 
tion with Yod mobile, as in Prov. iv. 25 (see Ewald, 131, c). 
" According to the tidings (announcement) to their assembly : " 
i.e. in accordance with the threatening already contained in the 
law (Lev. xxvi. 14 sqq. ; Deut. xxviii. 15 sqq.), and repeatedly 
uttered to the congregation by the prophets, of the judgments 
that should fall upon the rebellious, which threatening would 
now be fulfilled upon Ephraim. 

Ver. 13. " Woe to them ! for they have flown from me ; de 
vastation to them ! for they have fallen away from me. I would 
redeem them, but they speak lies concerning me. Ver. 14. They 
did not cry to me in their heart, but howl upon their beds ; they 
crowd together for corn and new wine, and depart against me." 
The Lord, thinking of the chastisement, exclaims, Woe to them, 
because they have fled from Him ! Nddad, which is applied to 
the flying of birds, points back to the figures employed in vers. 
11, 12. Shod, used as an exclamation, gives the literal ex 
planation of 01 (woe). The imperfect ephdem cannot be taken 
as referring to the redemption out of Egypt, because it does 
not stand for the preterite. It is rather voluntative or optative. 
" I would (should like to) redeem them (still) ; but they say I 
cannot and will not do it." These are the lies which they 
utter concerning Jehovah, partly with their mouths and partly 
by their actions, namely, in the fact that they do not seek 
help from Him, as is explained in ver. 14. They cry to 
the Lord ; yet it does not come from the heart, but (^ after 
*6) they howl (W^ cf. Ges. 70, 2, note) upon their beds, in 
unbelieving despair at the distress that has come upon them 

110 HOSEA. 

What follows points to this. Hithgorgr, to assemble, or crowd 
together (Ps. Ivi. 7, lix. 4; Isa. liv. 15); here to gather in 
troops or crowd together for corn and new wine, because their 
only desire is to fill their belly. Thus they depart from God. 
The construction of TiD with 2, instead of with 19 or ^!> is 
a pregnant one : to depart and turn against God. 

Vers.15, 16. Yet Jehovah has done still more for Israel. 
Ver. 15. " And I have instructed) have strengthened their arms, 
and they think evil against we. Ver. 16. They turn, but not 
upwards : they have become like a false bow. Their princes will 
fall by the sword, for the defiance of their tongue : this is their 
derision in the land of Egypt" "ID S . here is not to chastise, but 
to instruct, so that DHynT (their arms) is to be taken as the 
object to both verbs. Instructing the arms, according to the 
analogy of Ps. xviii. 35, is equivalent to showing where and how 
strength is to be acquired. And the Lord has not contented 
Himself with merely instructing. He has also strengthened 
their arms, and given them power to fight, and victory over 
their foes (cf. 2 Kings xiv. 25, 26). And yet they think evil 
of Him ; not by speaking lies (ver. 13), but by falling away 
from Him, by their idolatrous calf-worship, by which they rob 
the Lord of the glory due to Him alone, practically denying 
His true divinity. This attitude towards the Lord is summed 
up in two allegorical sentences in ver. 16, and the ruin of their 
princes is foretold. They turn, or turn round, but not upwards 
(/, an adverb, or a substantive signifying height, as in ch. xi. 7, 
2 Sam. xxiii. 1, not " the Most High," i.e. God, although turn 
ing upwards is actually turning to God). From the fact that 
with all their turning about they do not turn upwards, they 
have become like a treacherous bow, the string of which has lost 
its elasticity, so that the arrows do not hit the mark (cf. Ps. 
Ixxviii. 57). And thus Israel also fails to reach its destination. 
Therefore its princes shall fall. The princes are mentioned as 
the originators of the enmity against God, and all the misery 
into which they have plunged the people and kingdom. W, 
fury, here defiance or rage. Defiance of tongue the princes 
showed in the lies which they uttered concerning Jehovah 
(ver. 13), and with which they blasphemed in a daring manner 
the omnipotence and faithfulness of the Lord, it stands, 
according to a dialectical difference in the mode of pronuncia- 

CHAP. VIII. 1, 2. Ill 

tion, for nr, not for r.fcft (Ewald, 183, a). This, namely their 
falling by the sword, will be for a derision to them in the land 
of Egypt : not because they will fall in Egypt, or perish by the 
sword of the Egyptians ; but because they put their trust in 
Egypt, the derision of Egypt will come upon them when they 
are overthrown (cf. Isa. xxx. 3, 5). 

The Judgment consequent upon Apostasy. 
Chap, viii.-ix. 9. 

The coming judgment, viz. the destruction of the kingdom 
of the ten tribes, is predicted in three strophes, containing a 
fresh enumeration of the sins of Israel (ch. viii. 1-7), a refer 
ence to the fall of the kingdom, which is already about to 
commence (vers. 8-14), and a warning against false security 
(ch. ix. 1-9). 

Ch. viii. 17. The prophecy rises with a vigorous swing, as 
in ch. v. 8, to the prediction of judgment. Ver. 1. " The 
trumpet to tliy mouth ! Like an eagle upon the house of Jehovah I 
Because they transgressed my covenant, and trespassed against 
my law. Ver. 2. To me will they cry : My God, we know Thee, 
we Israel!" The first sentence of ver. 1 is an exclamation, 
and therefore has no verb. The summons issues from Jehovah, 
as the suffixes in the last sentences show, and is addressed to the 
prophet, who is to blow the trumpet, as the herald of Jehovah, 
and give the people tidings of the approaching judgment (see 
at ch. v. 8). The second sentence gives the alarming message 
to be delivered : like an eagle comes the foe, or the judg 
ment upon the house of Jehovah. The simile of the eagle, 
that shoots down upon its prey with the rapidity of lightning, 
points back to the threat of Moses in Deut. xxviii. 49. The 
" house of Jehovah" is neither the temple at Jerusalem (Jerome, 
Theod., Cyr.), the introduction of which here would be at 
variance with the context ; nor the principal temple of Samaria, 
with the fall of which the whole kingdom would be ruined 
(Ewald, Sims.), since the temples erected for the calf-worship 
at Dan and Bethel are called Beth bdmoth, not Beth Y hdvdh ; 
nor even the land of Jehovah, either here or at ch. ix. 15 
(Hitzig), for a land is not a house ; but Israel was the house of 
Jehovah, as being a portion of the congregation of the Lord, 

112 HOSEA. 

us in ch. ix. 15, Num. xii. 7, Jer. xii. 7, Zech. ix. 8 ; cf. 
Seov in Heb. iii. 6 and 1 Tim. iii. 15. The occasion of the 
judgment was the transgression of the covenant and law of the 
Lord, which is more particularly described in ver. 4. In this 
distress they will call for help to Jehovah : " My God (i.e. 
each individual will utter this cry), we know Thee !" Israel is 
in apposition to the subject implied in the verb. They know 
Jehovah, so far as He has revealed Himself to the whole nation 
of Israel ; and the name Israel is in itself a proof that they 
belong to the people of God. 

But this knowledge of God, regarded simply as a historical 
acquaintance with Him, cannot possibly bring salvation. Ver. 3. 
"Israel dislikes good; let the enemy pursue it" This is the 
answer that God will give to those who cry to Him. niE denotes 
neither " Jehovah as the highest good" (Jerome) or as " the 
good One" (Sims.), nor " the good law of God" (Schmieder), 
but the good or salvation which Jehovah has guaranteed to the 
nation through His covenant of grace, and which He bestowed 
upon those who kept His covenant. Because Israel has despised 
this good, let the enemy pursue it. 

The proof of Israel s renunciation of its God is to be found 
in the facts mentioned in ver. 4. " They have set up kings, but 
not from me, have set up princes, and I know it not : their silver 
and their gold they have made into idols, that it may be cut off? 
The setting up of kings and princes, not from Jehovah, and 
without His knowledge, i.e. without His having been asked, 
refers chiefly to the founding of the kingdom by Jeroboam I. 
It is not to be restricted to this, however, but includes at the 
same time the obstinate persistence of Israel in this ungodly 
attitude on all future occasions, when there was either a change 
or usurpation of the government. And the fact that not only 
did the prophet Ahijah foretel to Jeroboam I. that he would 
rule over the ten tribes (1 Kings xi. 30 sqq.), but Jehu was 
anointed king over Israel by Elisha s command (2 Kings ix.), 
and therefore both of them received the kingdom by the 
express will of Jehovah, is not at variance with this, so as to 
require the solution, that we have a different view here from 
that which prevails in the books of Kings, namely, one which 
sprang out of the repeated changes of government and anarchies 
in this kingdom (Simson). For neither the divine promise of 

CHAP. VIII. 5, 6. 113 

the throne, nor the anointing performed by the command of 
God, warranted their forcibly seizing upon the government, 
a crime of which both Jeroboam and Jehu rendered themselves 
guilty. The way in which both of them paved the way to the 
throne was not in accordance with the will of God, but was 
most ungodly (see at 1 Kings xi. 40). Jeroboam was already 
planning a revolt against Solomon (1 Kings xi. 27), and led 
the gathering of the ten tribes when they fell away from the 
house of David (1 Kings xii. 2 sqq.). Of Jehu, again, it is 
expressly stated in 2 Kings ix. 14, that he conspired against 
Joram. And the other usurpers, just like the two already 
named, opened the way to the throne by means of conspiracies, 
whilst the people not only rebelled against the rightful heir to 
the throne at Solomon s death, from pure dislike to the royal 
house of David, which had been appointed by God, and made 
Jeroboam king, but expressed their approval of all subsequent 
conspiracies as soon as they had been successful. This did not 
come from Jehovah, but was a rebellion against Him a trans 
gression of His covenant. To this must be added the further 
sin, viz. the setting up of the idolatrous calf-worship on the part 
of Jeroboam, to which all the kings of Israel adhered. It was 
in connection with this, that the application of the silver and 
gold to idols, by which Israel completely renounced the law of 
Jehovah, had taken place. It is true that silver was not used 
in the construction of the golden calves ; but it was employed 
in the maintenance of their worship. TTi3\ |$Jp : that it (the 
gold and silver) may be destroyed, as more fully stated in ver. 6. 
IVP? describes the consequence of this conduct, which, though 
not designed, was nevertheless inevitable, as if it had been dis 
tinctly intended. 

Ver. 5. " Thy calf disgusts, Samaria ; my ivratli is kindled 
against them: how long are they incapable of purity ? Ver. 6. 
For this also is from Israel: a workman made it, and it is 
not God; but the calf of Samaria will become splinters" Zdnach 
(disgusts) points back to ver. 3. As Israel felt disgust at what 
was good, so did Jehovah at the golden calf of Samaria. It 
is true that zdnach is used here intransitively in the sense of 
smelling badly, or being loathsome ; but this does not alter the 
meaning, which is obvious enough from the context, namely, 
that it is Jehovah whom the calf disgusts. The calf of Samaria 
VOL. I. H 

1 1 4 HOSEA. 

is not a golden calf set up in the city of Samaria ; as there is no 
allusion in history to any such calf as this. Samaria is simply 
mentioned in the place of the kingdom, and the calf is the one 
that was set up at Bethel, the most celebrated place of worship 
in the kingdom, which is also the only one mentioned in ch. 
x. 5, 15. On account of this calf the wrath of Jehovah is 
kindled against the Israelites, who worship this calf, and cannot 
desist. This is the thought of the question expressing disgust 
at these abominations. How long are they incapable of pjM, i.e. 
purity of walk before the Lord, instead of the abominations of 
idolatry (cf . Jer. xix. 4) ; not " freedom from punishment," as 
Hitzig supposes. To vW &6, " they are unable," we may easily 
supply " to bear," as in Isa. i. 14 and Ps. ci. 5. " For" (ki, 
ver. 6) follows as an explanation of the main clause in ver. 5, 
" Thy calf disgusts." The calf of Samaria is an abomination 
to the Lord, for it is also out of Israel (Israel s God out of 
Israel itself!); a workman made it, what folly! WH] is a 
predicate, brought out with greater emphasis by 1, et quidem, 
in the sense of iste. Therefore will it be destroyed like the 
golden calf at Sinai, which was burnt and ground to powder 

(Ex. xxxii. 20; Deut. ix. 21). The air. Xey. MTK" from 

to cut, signifies ruins or splinters. 

This will Israel reap from its ungodly conduct. Ver. 7. 
" For they sow wind, and reap tempest : it has no stalks ; shoot 
brings no fruit; and even if it brought it, foreigners ivould devour 
it." With this figure, which is so frequently and so variously 
used (cf. ch. x. 13, xii. 2 ; Job iv. 8 ; Prov. xxii. 8), the 
threat is accounted for by a general thought taken from life. 
The harvest answers to the sowing (cf. Gal. vi. 7, 8). Out of 
the wind comes tempest. Wind is a figurative representation 
of human exertions; the tempest, of destruction. Instead of 
ruach we have JJK, fypV, i"W (nothingness, weariness, wickedness) 
in ch. x. 13, Job iv. 8, and Prov. xxii. 8. In the second 
hemistich the figure is carried out still further, nojj, " seed 
standing upon the stalk," is not to it (viz. that which has been 
sowed). Tsemach brings no qemach, a play upon the words, 
answering to our shoot and fruit. Qemach : generally meal, 
here probably the grain-bearing ear, from which the meal is 
obtained. But even if the shoot, when grown, should yield 

CHAP. VIII. 8-10. 115 

some meal, strangers, i.e. foreigners, would consume it. In 
these words not only are the people threatened with failure of 
the crop ; but the failure and worthlessness of all that they do 
are here predicted. Not only the corn of Israel, but Israel 
itself, will be swallowed up. 

With this thought the still further threatening of judg 
ment in the next strophe is introduced. Ver. 8. " Israel is 
swallowed up ; now are they among the nations like a vessel, with 
which there is no satisfaction." The advance in the threat 
of punishment lies less in the extension of the thought, that 
not only the fruit of the field, but the whole nation, will be 
swallowed up by foes, than in the perfect P?33, which indicates 
that the time of the ripening of the evil seeds has already begun 
(Jerome, Simson). Vn nfiJJ, now already have they become 
among the nations like a despised vessel, which men cast away 
as useless (cf. Jer. xxii. 28, xlviii. 38). This lot have they 
prepared for themselves. 

Ver. 9. "For they went up to Asshur; wild ass goes alone 
by itself; Ephraim sued for loves. Ver. 10. Yea, though they 
sue among the nations, now will I gather them, and they will 
begin to diminish on account of the burden of the king of the 
princes" Going to Assyria is defined still further in the third 
clause as suing for loves, i.e. for the favour and help of the 
Assyrians. The folly of this suing is shown in the clause, 
" wild ass goes by itself alone," the meaning and object of 
which have been quite mistaken by those who supply a ^simil. 
For neither by connecting it with the preceding words thus, 
" Israel went to Asshur, like a stubborn ass going by itself" 
(Ewald), nor by attaching it to those which follow, " like a wild 
ass going alone, Ephraim sued for loves," do we get any suit 
able point of comparison. The thought is rather this : whilst 
even a wild ass, that stupid animal, keeps by itself to maintain 
its independence, Ephraim tries to form unnatural alliances 
with the nations of the world, that is to say, alliances that are 
quite incompatible with its vocation. Hithndh, from tdndh, 
probably a denom. of ethndh (see at ch. ii. 14), to give the 
reward of prostitution, here in the sense of bargaining for 
amours, or endeavouring to secure them by presents. The kal 
yithnu has the same meaning in ver. 10. The word &V2pX, 
to which different renderings have been given, can only have a 

116 HOSEA. 

threatening or punitive sense here ; and the suffix cannot refer 
to 0^33, but only to the subject contained in yithnu, viz. the 
Ephraimites. The Lord will bring them together, sc. among 
the nations, i.e. bring them all thither. P3j? is used in a similar 
sense in ch. ix. 6. The more precise definition is added in the 
next clause, in the difficult expression BJJO OTJI, in which ^rn 
may be taken most safely in the sense of " beginning," as in 
Judg. xx. 31, 2 Chron. xxix. 17, and Ezek. ix. 6, in all of which 
this form occurs, and LDVD as an adject, verb., connected with 
/>nn like the adjective Hins in 1 Sam. iii. 2 : " They begin to be, 
or become, less (i.e. fewer), on account of the burden of the 
king of princes," i.e. under the oppression which they will suffer 
from the king of Assyria, not by war taxes or deportation, but 
when carried away into exile. & v "|^ ?]? = &??ft ffan is a term 
applied to the great Assyrian king, who boasted, according to 
Isa. x. 8, that his princes were all kings. 

This threat is accounted for in vers. 11 sqq., by an allusion 
to the sins of Israel. Ver. 11. " For Ephraim has multiplied 
altars for sinning, the altars have become to him for sinning. 
Ver. 12. / wrote to him the fulnesses of my law ; they were 
counted as a strange tiling? Israel was to have only one altar, 
and that in the place where the Lord would reveal His name 
(Deut. xii. 5 sqq.). But instead of that, Ephraim had built 
a number of altars in different places, to multiply the sin of 
idolatry, and thereby heap more and more guilt upon itself. 
Nbrp is used, in the first clause, for the act of sin ; and in the 
second, for the consequences of that act. And this was not 
done from ignorance of the divine will, but from neglect of the 
divine commandments, ^tox is a historical present, indicating 
that what had occurred was continuing still. These words 
refer unquestionably to the great number of the laws written in 
the Mosaic thorah. m, according to the chethib ^"i, with n 
dropped, equivalent to "^"i, as in 1 Chron. xxix. 7, ten thou 
sand, myriads. The Masoretes, who supposed the number to be 
used in an arithmetical sense, altered it, as conjecturally unsuit 
able, into *2H, multitudes, although li does not occur anywhere 
else in the plural. The expression "the myriads of my law" is 
hyperbolical, to indicate the almost innumerable multitude of 
the different commandments contained in the law. It was also 
in a misapprehension of the nature of the hyperbole that the 

CHAP. VIII. 13, 14. 117 

supposition originated, that 2ta3 was a hypothetical future 
(Jerome), "ft to3, like something foreign, which does not con 
cern them at all. 

Ver. 13. " Slain-offerings for gifts they sacrifice; flesh, and 
eat : Jehovah has no pleasure in them : now will He remember 
their transgression, and visit their sins : they will return to Egypt. 
Ver. 14. And Israel forgot its Creator, and built palaces: and 
Judah multiplied fortified cities : and I shall send fire into its 
cities, and it will devour its castles" With the multiplication 
of the altars they increased the number of the sacrifices. *3ran 
is a noun in the plural with the suffix, and is formed from arp 
by reduplication. The slain-offerings of my sacrificial gifts, 
equivalent to the gifts of slain-offerings presented to me con 
tinually, they sacrifice as flesh, and eat it ; that is to say, they 
are nothing more than flesh, which they slay and eat, and not 
sacrifices in which Jehovah takes delight, or which could ex 
piate their sins. Therefore the Lord will punish their sins ; 
they will return to Egypt, i.e. be driven away into the land of 
bondage, out of which God once redeemed His people. These 
words are simply a special application of the threat, held out 
by Moses in Deut. xxviii. 68, to the degenerate ten tribes. 
Egypt is merely a type of the land of bondage, as in ch. ix. 3, 6. 
In ver. 14 the sin of Israel is traced back to its root. This is 
forgetfulness of God, and deification of their own power, and 
manifests itself in the erection of fiv^n, palaces, not idolatrous 
temples. Judah also makes itself partaker of this sin, by 
multiplying the fortified cities, and placing its confidence in 
fortifications. These castles of false security the Lord will 
destroy. The armdndth answer to the hekhdloth. The suffixes 
attached to VnjJ2 and nvtoN refer to both kingdoms : the mas 
culine suffix to Israel and Judah, as a people ; the feminine to 
the two as a land, as in Lam. ii. 5. 

Ch. ix. 1-9. Warning against false security. The earthly 
prosperity of the people and kingdom was no security against 
destruction. Because Israel had fallen away from its God, it 
should not enjoy the blessing of its field-produce, but should be 
carried away to Assyria, where it would be unable to keep any 
joyful feasts at all. Ver. 1. "Rejoice not, Israel, to exult 
like the nations : for thou hast committed whoredom against thy 
God: hast loved the wages of whoredom upon all corn-floors. 

118 HOSEA. 

Ver. 2. The threshing-floor and press will not feed them, and the 
new wine will deceive it." The rejoicing to which Israel was 
not to give itself up was, according to ver. 2, rejoicing at a 
plentiful harvest. All nations rejoiced, and still rejoice, at this 
(cf. Isa. ix. 2), because they regard the blessing of harvest as a 
sign and pledge of the favour and grace of God, which summon 
them to gratitude towards the giver. Now, when the heathen 
nations ascribed their gifts to their gods, and in their way 
thanked them for them, they did this in the ignorance of their 
heart, without being specially guilty on that account, since they 
lived in the world without the light of divine revelation. But 
when Israel rejoiced in a heathenish way at the blessing of its 
harvest, and attributed this blessing to the Baals (see ch. ii. 7), 
the Lord could not leave this denial of His gracious benefits 
unpunished. ^$"ta belongs to no&OT, heightening the idea of 
joy, as in Job iii. 22. JVJT *3 does not give the object of the joy 
(" that thou hast committed whoredom :" Ewald and others), 
but the reason why Israel was not to rejoice over its harvests, 
namely, because it had become unfaithful to its God, and had 
fallen into idolatry. ?Vft HJJ, to commit whoredom out beyond 
God (by going away from Him). The words, " thou lovest 
the wages of whoredom upon all corn-floors," are to be under 
stood, according to ch. ii. 7, 14, as signifying that Israel would 
not regard the harvest-blessing upon its corn-floors as gifts of 
the goodness of its God, but as presents from the Baals, for 
which it had to serve them with still greater zeal. There is no 
ground for thinking of any peculiar form of idolatry connected 
with the corn-floors. Because of this the Lord would take 
away from them the produce of the floor and press, namely, 
according to ver. 3, by banishing the people out of the land. 
Floor and press will not feed them, i.e. will not nourish or 
satisfy them. The floor and press are mentioned in the place 
of their contents, or what they yield, viz. for corn and oil, as in 
2 Kings vi. 27. By the press we must understand the oil- 
presses (cf. Joel ii. 24), because the new wine is afterwards 
specially mentioned, and corn, new wine, and oil are connected 
together in ch. ii. 10, 24. The suffix fia refers to the people 
regarded as a community. 

Ver. 3. " They will not remain in the land of Jehovah : 
Ephraim returns to Egypt, and they will eat unclean things in 

CHAP. IX. 3, 4. 119 

the land of Asshur. Ver. 4. They will not pour out wine to 
Jehovah, and their slain-offerings will not please Him : like 
bread of mourning are they to Him ; all who eat it become 
unclean: for their bread is for themselves, it does not come into 
the house of Jehovah. 91 Because they have fallen away from 
Jehovah, He will drive them out of His land. The driving 
away is described as a return to Egypt, as in ch. viii. 13 ; but 
Asshur is mentioned immediately afterwards as the actual land 
of banishment. That this threat is not to be understood as 
implying that they will be carried away to Egypt as well as 
to Assyria, but that Egypt is referred to here and in ver. 6, just 
as in ch. viii. 13, simply as a type of the land of captivity, so 
that Assyria is represented as a new Egypt, may be clearly seen 
from the words themselves, in which eating unclean bread in 
Assyria is mentioned as the direct consequence of their return 
to Egypt ; whereas neither here nor in ver. 6 is their being 
carried away to Assyria mentioned at all ; but, on the contrary, 
in ver. 6, Egypt only is introduced as the place where they are 
to find their grave. This is still more evident from the fact 
that Hosea throughout speaks of Asshur alone, as the rod of the 
wrath of God for His rebellious people. The king of Asshur 
is king Jareb (striver), to whom Ephrairn goes for help, and by 
whom it will be put to shame (ch. v. 13, x. 6) ; and it is from 
the Assyrian king Salman that devastation and destruction 
proceed (ch. x. 14). And, lastly, it is expressly stated in ch. 
xi. 5, that Israel will not return to Egypt, but to Asshur, who 
will be its king. By the allusion to Egypt, therefore, the 
carrying away to Assyria is simply represented as a state of 
bondage and oppression, resembling the sojourn of Israel in 
Egypt in the olden time, or else the threat contained in Deut. 
xxviii. 68 is simply transferred to Ephraim. They will eat 
unclean things in Assyria, not only inasmuch as when, under 
the oppression of their heathen rulers, they will not be able to 
observe the laws of food laid down in the law, or will be 
obliged to eat unclean things from simple want and misery ; 
but also inasmuch as all food, which was not sanctified to the 
Lord by the presentation of the first-fruits, was unclean food 
to Israel (Hengstenberg). In Assyria these offerings would 
cease with the whole of the sacrificial ritual ; and the food 
which was clean in itself would thereby become unclean outside 

1 20 HOSEA. 

the land of Jehovah (cf. Ezek. iv. 13). This explanation of 
KEB is required by ver. 4, in which a further reason is assigned 
for the threat. For what we have there is not a description of 
the present attitude of Israel towards Jehovah, but a picture of 
the miserable condition of the people in exile. The verbs are 
pure futures. In Assyria they will neither be able to offer 
wine to the Lord as a drink-offering, nor such slain-offerings 
as are well-pleasing to Him. For Israel could only offer 
sacrifices to its God at the place where He made known His 
name by revelation, and therefore not in exile, where He had 
withdrawn His gracious presence from it. The drink-offerings 
are mentioned, as pars pro toto, in the place of all the meat 
offerings and drink-offerings, i.e. of the bloodless gifts, which 
were connected with the z e bhdchlm } or burnt-offerings and thank- 
offerings (sJfldmlm, Num. xv. 2-15, xxviii., xxix.), and could 
never be omitted when the first-fruits were offered (Lev. xxiii. 
13, 18). "Their sacrifices :" ziblicliehem belongs to frwij (shall 
be pleasing to Him), notwithstanding the previous segholta, 
because otherwise the subject to my would be wanting, and 
there is evidently quite as little ground for supplying 0^203 
from the preceding clause, as Hitzig proposes, as for assuming 
that 2"]V here means to mix. Again, we must not infer from 
the words, " their slain-offerings will not please Him," that the 
Israelites offered sacrifices when in exile. The meaning is simply 
that the sacrifices, which they might wish to offer to Jehovah 
there, would not be well-pleasing to Him. We must not repeat 
DiTJ"OT as the subject to the next clause QHp . . . Drv3, in the 
sense of " their sacrifices will be to them like mourners bread," 
which would give no suitable meaning ; for though the sacri 
fices are called bread of God, they are never called the bread of 
men. The subject may be supplied very readily from Iflechem 
(like bread) thus : their bread, or food, would be to them like 
mourners bread; and the correctness of this is proved by 
the explanatory clause, " for their bread," etc. Lechem onlm, 
bread of affliction, i.e. of those who mourn for the dead (cf. 
Deut. xxvi. 14), in other words, the bread eaten at funeral 
meals. This was regarded as unclean, because the corpse de 
filed the house, and all who came in contact with it, for seven 
days (Num. xix. 14). Their bread would resemble bread of 
this kind, because it had not been sanctified by the offering of 

CHAP. IX. 5, 6. 121 

the first-fruits. " For their bread will not come into the house 
of Jehovah," viz. to be sanctified, " for their souls," i.e. to serve 
for the preservation of their life. 

Their misery will be felt still more keenly on the feast-days. 
Ver. 5. " What will ye do on the day of the festival, and on the 
day of the feast of Jehovah? Ver. 6. For behold they have gone 
away because of the desolation : Egypt will gatlier them toge 
ther^ Memphis bury them : their valuables in silver, thistles will 
receive them ; thorns in their tents." As the temple and ritual 
will both be wanting in their exile, they will be unable to 
observe any of the feasts of the Lord. No such difference can 
be shown to exist between yom moed and yom chag Y e hovdh, 
as would permit of our referring moed to feasts of a different 
kind from chag. In Lev. xxiii., all the feasts recurring at a 
fixed period, on which holy meetings were held, including the 
Sabbath, are called njrv v iiri ; and even though the three feasts 
at which Israel was to appear before the Lord, viz. the passover, 
pentecost, and the feast of tabernacles, are described as chagglm 
in Ex. xxxiv. 18 sqq., every other joyous festival is also called 
a chag (Ex. xxxii. 5 ; Judg. xxi. 19). It is therefore just as 
arbitrary on the part of Grotius and Rosenmiiller to understand 
by moed the three yearly pilgrim-festivals, and by chag Y e hovdh 
all the rest of the feasts, including the new meon, as it is on 
the part of Simson to restrict the last expression to the great 
harvest-feast, i.e. the feast of tabernacles (Lev. xxiii. 39, 41). 
The two words are synonymous, but they are so arranged that 
by chag the idea of joy is brought into greater prominence, and 
the feast-day is thereby designated as a day of holy joy before 
Jehovah ; whereas moed simply expresses the idea of a feast 
established by the Lord, and sanctified to Him (see at Lev. 
xxiii. 2). By the addition of the chag Y e hovdh, therefore, 
greater emphasis is given to the thought, viz. that along with 
the feasts themselves all festal joy will also vanish. The perfect 
: ? ( ver - 6) may be explained from the fact, that the prophet 
saw in spirit the people already banished from the land of the 
Lord. "Hpn, to go away out of the land. Egypt is mentioned 
as the place of banishment, in the same sense as in ver. 3. 
There will they all find their graves. Y3\> in combination with 
">3i? is the gathering together of the dead for a common burial, 
like *]!? in Ezek. xxix. 5, Jer. viii. 2, xxv. 33. *jb, or *|5, as in 

122 EOSEA. 

Isa. xix. 13, Jer. ii. 16, xliv. 1, Ezek. xxx. 13, 16, probably 
contracted from *pO, answers rather to the Coptic Membe, 
Memphe, than to the old Egyptian Men-nefr, i.e. mansio bona, 
the profane name of the city of Memphis, the ancient capital of 
Lower Egypt, the ruins of which are to be seen on the western 
bank of the Nile, to the south of Old Cairo. The sacred name 
of this city was Ha-ka-ptah, i.e. house of the worship of Phtah 
(see Brugsch, Geogr. Inschriften, i. pp. 234-5). In their own 
land thorns and thistles would take the place of silver valuables. 
The suffix attached to ^T^\ refers, ad sensum, to the collective 
DSpD^ ln ? the valuables in silver. These are not " silver 
idols," as Hitzig imagines, but houses ornamented and filled 
with the precious metal, as DH^nsa in the parallel clause clearly 
shows. The growth of thorns and thistles presupposes the utter 
desolation of the abodes of men (Isa. xxxiv. 13). 

Ver. 7. " The days of visitation are come, the days of retri 
bution are come ; Israel will learn : a fool the prophet, a madman 
the man of spirit, for the greatness of thy guilt, and the great 
enmity. Ver. 8. A spy is Ephraim with my God: the prophet 
a snare of the bird-catcher in all his ways, enmity in the house of 
his God. Ver. 9. They have acted most corruptly, as in the days 
of Gibeah : He remembers their iniquity, visits their sins." The 
perfects in ver. 7 are prophetic. The time of visitation and 
retribution is approaching. Then will Israel learn that its 
prophets, who only predicted prosperity and good (Ezek. xiii. 
10), were infatuated fools. U1 ?^g introduces, without la, what 
Israel will experience, as in ch. vii. 2, Amos v. 12. It does 
not follow, from the use of the expression ish rudch, that the 
reference is to true prophets. Ish rudch (a man of spirit) is 
synonymous with the ish holekh rudch (a man walking in the 
spirit) mentioned in Mic. ii. 11 as prophesying lies, and may 
be explained from the fact, that even the false prophets stood 
under the influence of a superior demoniacal power, and were 
inspired by a rudch sheqer (" a lying spirit," 1 Kings xxii. 22). 
The words which follow, viz. " a fool is the prophet," etc., which 
cannot possibly mean, that men have treated, despised, and per 
secuted the prophets as fools and madmen, are a decisive proof 
that the expression does not refer to true prophets, 13 ttJ 1 s ! 7V 
is attached to the principal clauses, D^tfn . . . *K3. The punish 
ment and retribution occur because of the greatness of the guilt 

CHAP. IX. 7-9. 123 

of Israel. In nani the preposition ^ continues in force, but as 
a conjunction : " and because the enmity is great" (cf. Ewald, 
351, a). Mastemdhj enmity, not merely against their fellow- 
men generally, but principally against God and His servants 
the true prophets. This is sustained by facts in ver. 8. The 
first clause, which is a difficult one and has been interpreted 
in very different ways, " spying is Ephraim TO? DJ> " (with or 
by my God), cannot contain the thought that Ephraim, the 
tribe, is, according to its true vocation, a watchman for the rest 
of the people, whose duty it is to stand with the Lord upon the 
watch-tower and warn Israel when the Lord threatens punish 
ment and judgment (Jerome, Schmidt) ; for the idea of a 
prophet standing with Jehovah upon a watch-tower is not only 
quite foreign to the Old Testament, but irreconcilable with the 
relati i in which the prophets stood to Jehovah. The Lord 
did indeed appoint prophets as watchmen to His people (Ezek. 
iii. 17) ; but He does take His own stand upon the watch-tower 
with them. Tsdphdh in this connection, where prophets are 
spoken of both before and after, can only denote the eager 
watching on the part of the prophets for divine revelations, as 
in Hab. ii. 1, and not their looking out for help ; and > T>K Oy 
cannot express their fellowship or agreement with God, if only 
on account of the suffix " my God," in which Hosea contrasts 
the true God as His own, with the God of the people. The 
thought indicated would require ^ N, a reading which is in 
deed met with in some codices, but is only a worthless conjec 
ture. DV denotes outward fellowship here : " with " = by the 
side of. Israel looks out for prophecies or divine revelations 
with the God of the prophet, i.e. at the side of Jehovah ; in other 
words, it does not follow or trust its own prophets, who are not 
inspired by Jehovah. These are like snares of a bird-catcher 
in its road, i.e. they cast the people headlong into destruction. 
N 23 stands at the head, both collectively and absolutely. In all 
its ways there is the trap of the bird-catcher : i.e. all its projects 
and all that it does will only tend to ensnare the people. Hos 
tility to Jehovah and His servants the true prophets, is in the 
house of the God of the Israelites, i.e. in the temple erected 
for the calf-worship; a fact of which Amos (vii. 10-17) fur 
nishes a practical example. Israel has thereby fallen as deeply 
into abomination and sins as in the days of Gibeah, i.e. as at 

124 HOSEA. 

the time when the abominable conduct of the men of Gibeah 
in connection with the concubine of a Levite took place, as 
related in Judg. xix. sqq., in consequence of which the tribe of 
Benjamin was almost exterminated. The same depravity on 
the part of Israel will be equally punished by the Lord now 
(cf. ch. viii. 13). 

The Degeneracy of Israel, and Ruin of its Kingdom. 
Chap. ix. 10-xi. 11. 

In this section the arrangement of the contents in strophes 
becomes very apparent. Three times (viz. ch. ix. 10, x. 1, and 
xi. 1) does the prophet revert to the early days of Israel, and 
show how Israel has been unfaithful to its divine calling, and 
from time immemorial has responded to all the manifestations 
of the love and grace of God by apostasy and idolatry, so that 
the Lord is obliged to punish the degenerate and obstinate 
nation with banishment into exile and the destruction of the 
kingdom. Nevertheless, as the Holy One, and for the sake of 
His own unchangeable covenant faithfulness, He will not 
utterly eradicate it. 

Chap. ix. 10-17. Ver. 10. " I found Israel like grapes in 
the desert, I saw your fathers like early fruit on the fig-tree in the 
first shooting; but they came to Baal-Peor, and consecrated 
themselves to shame, and became abominations like their lover." 
Grapes in the desert and early figs are pleasant choice fruits to 
whoever finds them. This figure therefore indicates the pecu 
liar pleasure which Jehovah found in the people of Israel when 
He led them out of Egypt, or the great worth which they had 
in His eyes when He chose them for the people of His posses 
sion, and concluded a covenant with them at Sinai (Theod., 
Cyr.). Bammidbdr (in the desert) belongs, so far as its position 
is concerned, to dndbhlm : grapes in the dry, barren desert, 
where you do not expect to find such refreshing fruit ; but, so 
far as the fact is concerned, it also refers to the place in which 
Israel was thus found by God, since you can only find fruit in 
the desert when you are there yourself. The words, moreover, 
evidently refer to Deut. xxxii. 10 (" I found him (Israel) in 
the wilderness," etc.), and point implicite to the helpless condi 
tion in which Israel was when God first adopted it. The suffix 

CHAP. IX. 11, 12. 125 

to b e reshithdh (at her beginning) refers to "tJNn, the first-fruit, 
which the fig-tree bears in its first time, at the first shooting. 
But Israel no longer answered to the good pleasure of God. 
They came to Baal-Peor. "ity3~7$B without the preposition ta 
is not the idol of that name, but the place where it was wor 
shipped, which was properly called Beth-Peor or Peor (see at 
Num. xxiii. 28 and xxv. 3). VTO] j s chosen instead of lOjP 
(Num. xxiii. 3, 5), to show that Israel ought to have conse 
crated itself to Jehovah, to have been the nazir of Jehovah. 
Bosheth (shame) is the name given to the idol of Baal-Peor 
(cf. Jer. iii. 24), the worship of which was a shame to Israel. 
Ohabh, the paramour, is also Baal-Peor. Of all the different 
rebellions on the part of Israel against Jehovah, the prophet 
singles out only the idolatry with Baal-Peor, because the prin 
cipal sin of the ten tribes was Baal-worship in its coarser or 
more refined forms. 

It is very evident that this is what he has in his mind, and 
that he regards the apostasy of the ten tribes as merely a con 
tinuation of that particular idolatry, from the punishment 
which is announced in vers. 11, 12, as about to fall upon 
Ephraim in consequence. Yer. 11. " Ephraim, its glory will 
fly away like a bird; no birth, and no pregnancy, and no concep 
tion. Ver. 12. Yea, though they bring up their sons, 1 make 
them bereft, without a man ; for woe to them wlien I depart from 
them!" The glory which God gave to His people through 
great multiplication, shall vanish away. The licentious worship 
of luxury will be punished by the diminution of the numbers 
of the people, by childlessness, and the destruction of the youth 
that may have grown up. n "jS?*?> so ^ at there shall be no bear 
ing. i9?, the womb, for pregnancy or the fruit of the womb. 
Even (kl emphatic) if the sons (the children) grow up, God 
will make them bereft, ffJKB, so that there shall be no men 
there. The grown-up sons shall be swept away by death, by 
the sword (cf. Deut. xxxii. 25). The last clause gives the rea 
son for the punishment threatened. D3 adds force ; it usually 
stands at the head of the sentence, and here belongs to BrA : 

V T 

Yea, woe to them, if I depart from them, or withdraw my 
favour from them ! "flip stands for "WD, according to the inter- 
changeableness of fy and D (Aquila and Vulg.). This view has 
more to support it than the supposition that "Vis? is an error of 


the pen for "W (Ewald, Hitzig, etc.), since W, to look, con 
strued with ftp, in the sense of to look away from a person, is 
never met with, although the meaning is just the same. 

The vanishing of the glory of Ephraim is carried out still 
further in what follows. Ver. 13. " Ephraim as I selected it 
for a Tyre planted in the valley ; so shall Ephraim lead out its 
sons to the murderer. Ver. 14. Give them, Jehovah : what 
shalt Thou give him ? Give them a childless womb and dry 
breasts." In ver. 13 Ephraim is the object to yVN"J (I have 
seen), but on account of the emphasis it is placed first, as in 
ver. 11 ; and n"i with an accusative and *? signifies to select 
anything for a purpose, as in Gen. xxii. 8. The Lord had 
selected Ephraim for Himself to be a Tyre planted in the 
meadow, i.e. in a soil adapted for growth and prosperity, had 
intended for it the bloom and glory of the rich and powerful 
Tyre ; but now, for its apostasy $ He would give it up to desola 
tion, and dedicate its sons, i.e. its people, to death by the sword. 
The commentators, for the most part, like the LXX., have 
overlooked this meaning of n&o, and therefore have not only 
been unable to explain l e taor (for a Tyre), but have been driven 
either to resort to alterations of the text, like l e tsurdh, " after 
the form" (Ewald), or to arbitrary assumptions, e.g. that tsdr 
signifies "palm" after the Arabic (Arnold, Hitzig), or that 
l e tsor means " as far as Tyre" (*? = iy), in order to bring a more 
or less forced interpretation into the sentence. The Vav before 
Ephraim introduces the apodosis to ">^N3 : " as I have selected 
Ephraim, so shall Ephraim lead out," etc. On the construc 
tion #3riiy, see Ewald, 237, c. In ver. 14 the threat rises into 
an appeal to God to execute the threatened punishment. The 
excited style of the language is indicated in the interpolated 
mah-titten (what wilt Thou give ?). The words do not contain 
an intercessory prayer on the part of the prophet, that God will 
not punish the people too severely but condemn them to barren 
ness rather than to the loss of the young men (Ewald), but are 
expressive of holy indignation at the deep corruption of the 

The Lord thereupon replies in ver. 15 : " A II their wicked 
ness is at Gilgal ; for there I took them into hatred : for the evil 
of their doings will I drive them out of my house, and not love 
them any more; all their princes are rebellious." How far all the 

CHAP. IX. 16, 17, X. 1-3. 127 

wickedness of Ephraim was concentrated at Gilgal it is impossible 
to determine more precisely, since we have no historical accounts 
of the idolatrous worship practised there (see at ch. iv. 15). 
That Gilgal was the scene of horrible human sacrifices, as 
Hitzig observes at ch. xii. 12, cannot be proved from ch. xiii. 2. 
Wfr is used here in an inchoative sense, viz. to conceive hatred. 
On account of their wickedness they should be expelled from 
the house, i.e. the congregation of Jehovah (see at ch. viii. 1). 
The expression " I will drive them out of my house" (mibbethl 
dgdr e shem) may be explained from Gen. xxi. 10, where Sarah 
requests Abraham to drive (gdrash) Hagar her maid out of the 
house along with her son, that the son of the maid may not 
inherit with Isaac, and where God commands the patriarch to 
carry out Sarah s will. The expulsion of Israel from the house 
of the Lord is separation from the fellowship of the cove 
nant nation and its blessings, and is really equivalent to loving 
it no longer. There is a play upon words in the last clause 

Ver. 16. "Ephraim is smitten: their root is dried up ; they 
will bear no fruit : even if they beget, I slay the treasures of 
their womb. Ver. 17. My God rejects them : for they have not 
hearkened to Him, and they shall be fugitives among the nations. 9 
In ver. 16a Israel is compared to a plant, that is so injured by 
the heat of the sun (Ps. cxxi. 6, cii. 5), or by a worm (Jonah iv. 
7), that it dries up and bears no more fruit. The perfects are 
a prophetic expression, indicating the certain execution of the 
threat. This is repeated in ver. 166 in figurative language ; 
and the threatening in vers. 11, 12, is thereby strengthened. 
Lastly, in ver. 17 the words of threatening are rounded off by 
a statement of the reason for the rejection of Israel ; and this 
rejection is described as banishment among the nations, accord 
ing to Deut. xxviii. 65. 

Ch. x. In a fresh turn the concluding thought of the last 
strophe (ch. ix. 10) is resumed, and the guilt and punishment 
of Israel still more fully described in two sections, vers. 1-8 and 
9-15. Ver. 1. "Israel is a running vine; it set fruit for itself: 
the more of its fruit, the more altars did it prepare ; the better its 
land, the better pillars did they make. Ver. 2. Smooth was their 
heart, now will they atone. He will break in pieces their altars, 
desolate their pillars. Ver. 3. Yea, now ivill they say, No king 

128 HOSE A. 

to us ! for we feared not Jehovah ; and the king, what shall he do 
to us ?" Under the figure of a vine running luxuriantly, 
which did indeed set some good fruit, but bore no sound ripe 
grapes, the prophet describes Israel as a glorious plantation of 
God Himself, which did not answer the expectations of its 
Creator. The figure is simply sketched in a few bold lines. 
We have an explanatory parallel in Ps. Ixxx. 9-12. The par 
ticiple boqeq does not mean " empty" or " emptying out" here ; 
for this does not suit the next clause, according to which the 
fruit was set, but from the primary meaning of bdqaq, to pour 
out, pouring itself out, overflowing, i.e. running luxuriantly. 
It has the same meaning, therefore, as nrnb 3 in Ezek. xvii. 6, 
that which extends its branches far and wide, that is to say, 
grows most vigorously. The next sentence, " it set fruit," still 
belongs to the figure ; but in the third sentence the figure 
passes over into a literal prophecy. According to the abun 
dance of its fruit, Israel made many altars ; and in proportion 
to the goodness of its land, it made better flUSTE, Baal s pillars 
(see at 1 Kings xiv. 23) ; i.e. as Israel multiplied, and under the 
blessing of God attained to prosperity, wealth, and power in 
the good land (Ex. iii. 8), it forgot its God, and fell more and 
more into idolatry (cf. ch. ii. 10, viii. 4, 11). The reason of all 
this was, that their heart was smooth, i.e. dissimulating, not sin 
cerely devoted to the Lord, inasmuch as, under the appearance 
of devotedness to God, they still clung to idols (for the fact, see 
2 Kings xvii. 9). The word chdldq, to be smooth, was mostly 
applied by a Hebrew to the tongue, lip, mouth, throat, and 
speech (Ps. v. 10, xii. 3, Iv. 22 ; Prov. v. 3), and not to the 
heart. But in Ezek. xii. 24 we read of smooth, i.e. deceitful 
prophesying ; and there is all the more reason for retaining the 
meaning " smooth" here, that the rendering " their heart is 
divided," which is supported by the ancient versions, cannot be 
grammatically defended. For chdldq is not used in leal in an 
intransitive sense ; and the active rendering, " He (i.e. God) 
has divided their heart" (Hitzig), gives an unscriptural thought. 
They will now atone for this, for God will destroy their altars 
and pillars. ^"Uj, " to break the neck of the altars," is a bold 
expression, applied to the destruction of the altars by breaking 
off the horns (compare Amos iii. 14). Then will the people 
see and be compelled to confess that it has no longer a king, 

CHAP. X. 4-6. 129 

because it has not feared the Lord, since the king who has been 
set up in opposition to the will of the Lord (ch. viii. 4) cannot 
bring either help or deliverance (ch. xiii. 10). fOT, to do, i.e. 
to help or be of use to a person (cf. Eccles. ii. 2). 

The thoughts of vers. 2, 3 are carried out still further in 
vers. 4-7. Ver. 4. " They have spoken words, sworn falsely, 
made treaties : thus right springs up like darnel in the furrows 
of the field. Ver. 5. For the calves of Beth-Aven the inhabitants 
of Samaria were afraid : yea, its people mourn over it, and its 
sacred ministers will tremble at it, at its glory, because it has 
strayed from them. Ver. 6. Men will also carry it to Asshur, as 
a present for king Jareb : shame will seize upon Epliraim, and 
Israel will be put to shame for its counsel." The dissimulation 
of heart (ver. 3) manifested itself in their speaking words which 
were nothing but words, i.e. in vain talk (cf. Isa. Iviii. 13), in 
false swearing, and in the making of treaties. rrita, by virtue 
of the parallelism, is an infin. abs. for fi?N, formed like n*i3, 
analogous to niDK> (Isa. xxii. 13 ; see Ewald, 240, b). nna rns, 
in connection with false swearing, must signify the making of 
a covenant without any truthfulness in it, i.e. the conclusion of 
treaties with foreign nations for example, with Assyria which 
they were inclined to observe only so long as they could promise 
themselves advantages from them. In consequence of this, right 
has become like a bitter plant growing luxuriantly (>&ri = C>h ; 
see at Deut. xxix. 17). Mishpdt does not mean judgment here, 
or the punitive judgment of God (Chald. and many others), 
for this could hardly be compared with propriety to weeds 
running over everything, but right in its degeneracy into wrong, 
or right that men have turned into bitter fruit or poison (Amos 
vi. 12). This spreads about in the kingdom, as weeds spread 
luxuriantly in the furrows of the field (HP a poetical form for 
?np, like Deut. xxxii. 13, Ps. viii. 8). Therefore the judg 
ment cannot be delayed, and is already approaching in so 
threatening a manner, that the inhabitants of Samaria tremble 
for the golden calves. The plural egloth is used with indefinite 
generality, and gives no warrant, therefore, for the inference 
that there were several golden calves set up in Bethel. More 
over, this would be at variance with the fact, that in the sen 
tences which follow we find " the (one) calf" spoken of. The 
feminine form egloth, which only occurs here, is also probably 

VOL. I. j 

130 HOSEA. 

connected with the abstract use of the plural, inasmuch as the 
feminine is the proper form for abstracts. Beth-dven for 
Beth- el, as in ch. iv. 15. Shdkhen is construed with the plural, 
as an adjective used in a collective sense. *3 (ver. 5) is em 
phatic, and the suffixes attached to toy and V"]O3 do not refer to 
Samaria, but to the idol, i.e. the calf, since the prophet distinctly 
calls Israel, which ought to have been the nation of Jehovah, 
the nation of its calf-idol, which mourned with its priests 
(k e mdrlm, the priests appointed in connection with the worship 
of the calves : see at 2 Kings xxiii. 5) for the carrying away 
of the calf to Assyria. ^3 does not mean to exult or rejoice 
here, nor to tremble (applied to the leaping of the heart from 
fear, as it does from joy), but has the same meaning as ^n in 
Ps. xcvi. 9. ity is still further defined by Vlta3-i>y, " for its 
glory," i.e. not for the temple-treasure at Bethel (Hitzig), nor 
the one glorious image of the calf, as the symbol of the state- 
god (Ewald, Urnbreit), but the calf, to which the people attri 
buted the glory of the true God. The perfect, gdldh, is used 
prophetically of that which was as good as complete and cer 
tain (for the fut exact., cf. Ewald, 343, a). The golden calf, 
the glory of the nation, will have to wander into exile. This 
cannot even save itself ; it will be taken to Assyria, to king 
Jareb (see at ch. v. 13), as minchdh, a present or tribute (see 
2 Sam. viii. 2, 6 ; 1 Kings v. 1). For the construing of the passive 
with UK, see Ges. 143, 1, a. Then will Ephraim (= Israel) be 
seized by reproach and shame. Boshndh, a word only met with 
here ; it is formed from the masculine bvshen, which is not used 
at all (see Ewald, 163, 164). 

With the carrying away of the golden calf the kingdom of 
Samaria also perishes, and desert plants will grow upon the 
places of idols. Vers. 7, 8. " Destroyed is Samaria ; her king 
like a splinter on the surface of the water. And destroyed are 
the high places of Aven, the sin of Israel : iJiorn and thistle will 
rise up on their altars ; and they will speak to the mountains, 
Cover us ! and to the hills, Fall on us!" ns^D jnob> is not an 
asyndeton, " Samaria and its king ;" but Shom e ron is to be taken 
absolutely, " as for Samaria," although, as a matter of fact, 
not only Samaria, the capital of the kingdom, but the kingdom 
itself, was destroyed. For malkdh does not refer to any parti 
cular king, but is used in a general sense for " the king that 

CHAP. X. 9-15. 131 

Samaria had," so that the destruction of the monarchy is here 
predicted (cf. ver. 15). The idea that the words refer to one 
particular king, is not only at variance with the context, which 
contains no allusion to any one historical occurrence, but does 
not suit the simile : like a splinter upon the surface of the water, 
which is carried away by the current, and vanishes without 
leaving a trace behind. Qetseph is not " foam" (Chald., Symm., 
Kabb.), but a broken branch, a fagot or a splinter, as q e tsdplidh 
in Joel i. 7 clearly shows. Bdmoth dven are the buildings 
connected with the image-worship at Bethel ( dven = Beth- el, 
ver. 5), the temple erected there (beth bdmdth), together with 
the altar, possibly also including other illegal places of sacrifice 
there, which constituted the chief sin of the kingdom of Israel. 
These were to be so utterly destroyed, that thorns and thistles 
would grow upon the ruined altars (cf. Gen. iii. 18). " The 
sign of extreme solitude, that there are not even the walls left, 
or any traces of the buildings" (Jerome). When the kingdom 
shall be thus broken up, together with the monarchy and the 
sacred places, the inhabitants, in their hopeless despair, will long 
for swift death and destruction. Saying to the mountains, 
" Cover us," etc., implies much more than hiding themselves in 
the holes and clefts of the rocks (Isa. ii. 19, 21). It expresses 
the desire to be buried under the falling mountains and hills, 
that they may no longer have to bear the pains and terrors of 
the judgment. In this sense are the words transferred by 
Christ, in Luke xxiii. 30, to the calamities attending the de 
struction of Jerusalem, and in Rev. vi. 16 to the terrors of the 
last judgment. 

Vers. 9-15. After the threatening of punishment has thus 
been extended in ver. 8, even to the utter ruin of the kingdom, 
the prophet returns in ver. 9 to the earlier times, for the pur 
pose of exhibiting in a new form the deeply rooted sin fulness 
of the people, and then, under cover of an appeal to them 
to return to righteousness, depicting still further the time of 
visitation, and (in vers. 14, 15) predicting with still greater 
clearness the destruction of the kingdom and the overthrow of 
the monarchy. Ver. 9. " Since the days of Gibeah hast thou 
sinned, Israel : there have they remained : the war against the 
sons of ivickedness did not overtake them at Gibeah. Ver. 10. 
According to my desire shall I chastise them; and nations will be 

132 HOSEA. 

gathered together against them, to bind them to their two trans 
gressions" Just as in ch. ix. 9, the days of Gibeah, i.e. the 
days when that ruthless crime was committed at Gibeah upon 
the concubine of the Levite, are mentioned as a time of deep 
corruption ; so are those days described in the present passage 
as the commencement of Israel s sin. For it is as obvious that 
D^D is not to be understood in a comparative sense, as it is 
that the Jays of Gibeah are not to be taken as referring to the 
choice of Saul, who sprang from Gibeah, to be their king 
(Chald.). The following words, ttl noy D>, which are very 
difficult, and have been variously explained, do not describe 
the conduct of Israel in those days ; for, in the first place, the 
statement that the war did not overtake them is by no means 
in harmony with this, since the other tribes avenged that crime 
so severely that the tribe of Benjamin was almost exterminated; 
and secondly, the suffix attached to Djpfrn evidently refers to 
the same persons as that appended to &"}BK in ver. 10, i.e. to 
the Israelites of the ten tribes, to which Hosea foretels the 
coming judgment. These are therefore the subject to ^PJJ, 
and consequently *1DJJ signifies to stand, to remain, to persevere 
(cf. Isa. xlvii. 12, Jer. xxxii. 14). There, in Gibeah, did they 
remain, that is to say, they persevered in the sin of Gibeah, 
without the war at Gibeah against the sinners overtaking them 
(the imperfect, in a subordinate clause, used to describe the 
necessary consequence ; and rv6y transposed from rmy y like njjN 
in Deut. xxviii. 25 for Wt). The meaning is, that since the 
days of Gibeah the Israelites persist in the same sin as the 
Gibeahites ; but whereas those sinners were punished and 
destroyed by the war, the ten tribes still live on in the 
same sin without having been destroyed by any similar war. 
Jehovah will now chastise them for it. *03^?> * n m y desire, 
equivalent to according to my wish, an anthropomorphic 
description of the severity of the chastisement. Q< ?.?1 from 
ipj (according to Ewald, 139, a), with the Vav of the 
apodosis. The chastisement will consist in the fact, that 
nations will be gathered together against Israel DipNlij Ut. at 
their binding, i.e. when I shall bind them. The chethib Dn^y 
cannot well be the plural of $J, because the plural nwy is not 
used for the eyes ; and the rendering, " before their two eyes," 
in the sense of u without their being able to prevent it " 

CHAP. X. 11. 1 33 

(Ewald), yields the unheard-of conception of binding a person 
before his own eyes ; and, moreover, the use of nto 1 ^ ""^ 
instead of the simple dual would still be left unexplained. We 
must therefore give the preference to the keri rmy, and regard 
the chethib as another form, that may be accounted for from 
the transition of the verbs *y into W, and njty as a contraction 
of fli lJ?, since njiy cannot be shown to have either the meaning 
of " furrow " (Chald., A. E.), or that of the severe labour of 
" tributary service." And, moreover, neither of these meanings 
would give us a suitable thought ; whilst the very same objec 
tion may be brought against the supposition that the double- 
ness of the work refers to Ephraim and Judah, which has been 
brought against the rendering " to bind to his furrows," viz. 
that it would be non solum ineptum, sed locutionis monstrum. 
Dniiy s ni?7, " to their two transgressions " to bind them : i.e. to 
place them in connection with the transgressions by the punish 
ment, so that they will be obliged to drag them along like 
beasts of burden. By the two transgressions we are to under 
stand neither the two golden calves at Bethel and Dan (Hitzig), 
nor unfaithfulness towards Jehovah and devotedness to idols, 
after Jer. ii. 13 (Cyr., Theod.); but their apostasy from Jehovah 
and the royal house of David, in accordance with ch. iii. 5, 
where it is distinctly stated that the ultimate conversion of 
the nation will consist in its seeking Jehovah and David their 

In the next verse the punishment is still further defined, 
and also extended to Judah. Ver. 11. " And Ephraim is an 
instructed cow, which loves to thresh ; and I, I have come over 
the beauty of her neck : I yoke Ephraim ; Judah will plough, 
Jacob harrow itself." M e lummdddh, instructed, trained to 
work, received its more precise definition from the words 
" loving to thresh " (^ohabhti, a participle with the connecting 
Yod in the constructive: see Ewald, 211, &), not as being 
easier work in comparison with the hard task of driving, 
ploughing, and harrowing, but because in threshing the ox 
was allowed to eat at pleasure (Deut. xxv. 4), from which 
Israel became fat arid strong (Deut. xxxii. lo). Threshing, 
therefore, is a figurative representation not of the conquest of 
other nations (as in Mic. iv. 13, Isa. xli. 15), but of pleasant, 
productive, profitable labour. Israel had accustomed itself to 

134 HOSEA. 

this, from the fact that God had bestowed His blessing upon it 
(ch. xiii. 6). But it would be different now. by W3Jf, a pro 
phetic perfect : I come over the neck, used in a hostile sense, 
and answering to our "rushing in upon a person." The 
actual idea is that of putting a heavy yoke upon the neck, 
not of putting a rider upon it. ^"iK, not to mount or 
ride, but to drive, or use for drawing and driving, i.e. to 
harness, and that, as the following clauses show, to the 
plough and harrow, for the performance of hard field-labour, 
which figuratively represents subjugation and bondage. Judah 
is also mentioned here again, as in ch. viii. 14, vi. 11, etc. 
Jacob, in connection with Judah, is not a name for the 
whole nation (or the twelve tribes), but is synonymous with 
Ephraim, i.e. Israel of the ten tribes. This is required by 
the correspondence between the last two clauses, which are 
simply a further development of the expression as 3 O iN, with 
an extension of the punishment threatened against Ephraim 
to Judah also. 

The call to repentance and reformation of life is then 
appended in vers. 12, 13, clothed in similar figures. Ver. 12. 
" Sow to yourselves for righteousness, reap according to love ; 
plough for yourselves virgin soil : for it is time to seek Jehovah, 
till He come and rain righteousness upon you. Ver. 13. Ye have 
ploughed wickedness, ye have reaped crime : eaten the fruit of 
lying : because thou hast trusted in thy way, in the multitude of 
thy mighty men." Sowing and reaping are figures used to 
denote their spiritual and moral conduct. ^"JV?, f r righteous 
ness, is parallel to ^pn IB? ; i.e. sow that righteousness may be 
able to spring up like seed, i.e. righteousness towards your 
fellow-men. The fruit of this will be chesed, condescending 
love towards the poor and wretched. Nlr nlr, both here and 
in Jer. iv. 3 to plough virgin soil, i.e. to make land not yet 
cultivated arable. We have an advance in this figure : they 
are to give up all their previous course of conduct, and create 
for themselves a new sphere for their activity, i.e. commence a 
new course of life. W, and indeed it is time, equivalent to, for 
it is high time to give up your old sinful ways and seek the 
Lord, till ("W) He come, i.e. till He turn His grace to you 
again, and cause it to rain upon you. Tsedeq, righteousness, 
not salvation, a meaning which the word never has, and least 

CHAP. X. 14. 15. 135 

of all here, where tsedeq corresponds to the ts e ddqdh of the first 
clause. God causes righteousness to rain, inasmuch as He not 
only gives strength to secure it, like rain for the growth of the 
seed (cf. Isa. xliv. 3), but must also generate and create it in 
man by His Spirit (Ps. li. 12). The reason for this summons 
is given in ver. 13, in another allusion to the moral conduct 
of Israel until now. Hitherto they have ploughed as well as 
reaped unrighteousness and sin, and eaten lies as the fruit 
thereof, lies, inasmuch as they did not promote the prosperity 
of the kingdom as they imagined, but only led to its decay 
and ruin. For they did not trust in Jehovah the Creator 
and rock of salvation, but in their way, i.e. their deeds and 
their might, in the strength of their army (Amos vi. 13), the 
worthlessness of which they will now discover. 

Ver. 14. " A tumult will arise against thy peoples, and all iliy 
fortifications are laid waste, as Shalman laid Beth-Arbeel waste 
in the day of the war : mother and children are dashed to pieces. 
Ver. 15. Thus hath Bethel done to you because of the wickedness 
of your wickedness : in the morning dawn the king of Israel is cut 
off, cut off." DNp with K as mater lect. (Ewald, 15, e), con 
strued with 3 : to rise up against a person, as in Ps. xxvii. 12, 
Job xvi. 8. jiN^, war, tumult, as in Amos ii. 2. T JVS : against 
thy people of war. The expression is chosen with a reference 
to robh gibborlm (the multitude of mighty men), in which Israel 
put its trust. The meaning, countrymen, or tribes, is restricted 
to the older language of the Pentateuch. The singular 1B^ 
refers to h 3, as in Isa. Ixiv. 10, contrary to the ordinary lan 
guage (cf. Ewald, 317, c). Nothing is known concerning the 
devastation of Beth-Arbeel by Shalman ; and hence there has 
always been great uncertainty as to the meaning of the words. 
Shalman is no doubt a contracted form of Shalmanezer, the 
king of Assyria, who destroyed the kingdom of the ten tribes 
(2 Kings xvii. 6). Beth-arbel is hardly Arbela of Assyria, 
which became celebrated through the victory of Alexander 
(Strab. xvi. 1, 3), since the Israelites could scarcely have 
become so well acquainted with such a remote city, as that the 
prophet could hold up the desolation that befel it as an example 
to them, but in all probability the Arbela in Galilcea Superior, 
which is mentioned in 1 Mace. ix. 2, arid very frequently in 
Josephus, a place in the tribe of Naphtali, between Sephoris 

136 HOSE A. 

and Tiberias (according to Robinson, Pal. iii. pp. 281-2, arid 
Bibl. Researches, p. 343 : the modern Irbid). The objection 
offered by Hitzig, viz. that shod is a noun in ch. ix. 6, vii. 13, 
xii. 2, and that the infinitive construct, with h prefixed, is 
written Vhv} in Jer. xlvii. 4 ; and lastly, that if Shalman were 
the subject, we should expect the preposition J"IK before JV3, is 
not conclusive, and the attempt which he makes to explain 
Salman-Beth- Arb el from the Sanscrit is not worth mentioning;. 


The clause " mother and children," etc., a proverbial ex 
pression denoting inhuman cruelty (see at Gen. xxxii. 12), 
does not merely refer to the conduct of Shalman in connection 
with Beth-Arbel, possibly in the campaign mentioned in 2 Kings 
xvii. 3, but is also intended to indicate the fate with which the 
whole of the kingdom of Israel was threatened. In ver. 16 
this threat concludes with an announcement of the overthrow 
of the monarchy, accompanied by another allusion to the guilt 
of the people. The subject to T\toy ,133 is Beth-el (Chald.), not 
Shalman or Jehovah. Bethel, the seat of the idolatry, prepares 
this lot for the people on account of its great wickedness. nb>y 
is a perf. proph. ; and Djnjn n ^l wickedness in its second 
potency, extreme wickedness (cf. Ewald, 313, c). Basshachar, 
in the morning-dawn, i.e. at the time when prosperity is once 
more apparently about to dawn, tempore pads alluscente (Cocc., 
Hgst.). The gerund nblJ adds to the force ; and r W Tjpp is not 
this or the other king, but as in ver. 7, the king generally, i.e. 
the monarchy of Israel. 

Ch. xi. The prophet goes back a third time (cf. ch. x. 1, 
ix. 10) to the early times of Israel, and shows how the people 
had repaid the Lord, for all the proofs of His love, with nothing 
but ingratitude and unfaithfulness; so that it would have merited 
utter destruction from off the earth, if God should not restrain 
His wrath for the sake of His unchangeable faithfulness, in 
order that, after severely chastening, He might gather together 
once more those that were rescued from among the heathen. 
Ver. 1. " When Israel was young, then I loved him, and I called 
my son out of Egypt. Ver. 2. Men called to them ; so they went 
away from their countenance : they offer sacrifice to the Baals, 
and burn incense to the idols." Ver. 1 rests upon Ex. iv. 22, 23, 
where the Lord directs Moses to say to Pharaoh, " Israel is my 
first-born son ; let my son go, that he may serve me." Israel 

CHAP. XI 1, 2. 137 

was the son of Jehovah, by virtue of its election to be Jehovah s 
peculiar people (see at Ex. iv. 22). In this election lay the 
ground for the love which God showed to Israel, by bringing it 
out of Egypt, to give it the land of Canaan, promised to the 
fathers for its inheritance. The adoption of Israel as the son 
of Jehovah, which began with its deliverance out of the bondage 
of Egypt, and was completed in the conclusion of the covenant 
at Sinai, forms the first stage in the carrying out of the divine 
work of salvation, which was completed in the incarnation of 
the Son of God for the redemption of mankind from death and 
ruin. The development and guidance of Israel as the people 
of God all pointed to Christ ; not, however, in any such sense 
as that the nation of Israel was to bring forth the Son of God 
from within itself, but in this sense, that the relation which the 
Lord of heaven and earth established and sustained with that 
nation, was a preparation for the union of God with humanity, 
and paved the way for the incarnation of His Son, by the fact 
that Israel was trained to be a vessel of divine grace. All 
essential factors in the history of Israel point to this as their 
end, and thereby become types and material prophecies of the 
life of Him in whom the reconciliation of man to God was to 
be realized, and the union of God with the human race to be 
developed into a personal unity. It is in this sense that the 
second half of our verse is quoted in Matt. ii. 15 as a prophecy 
of Christ, not because the words of the prophet refer directly 
and immediately to Christ, but because the sojourn in Egypt, 
and return out of that land, had the same significance in rela 
tion to the development of the life of Jesus Christ, as it had to 
the nation of Israel. Just as Israel grew into a nation in Egypt, 
where it was out of the reach of Canaanitish ways, so was the 
child Jesus hidden in Egypt from the hostility of Herod. But 
ver. 2 is attached thus as an antithesis : this love of its God 
was repaid by Israel with base apostasy. ^1P T , they, viz. the 
prophets (cf. ver. 7 ; 2 Kings xvii. 13 ; Jer. vii. 25, xxv. 4 ; 
Zech. i. 4), called to them, called the Israelites to the Lord and 
to obedience to Him ; but they (the Israelites) went away from 
their countenance, would not hearken to the prophets, or come 
to the Lord (Jer. ii. 31). The thought is strengthened by |3, 
with the "WK3 of the protasis omitted (Ewald, 360, a) : as the 
prophets called, so the Israelites drew back from them, and 

138 HOSEA. 

served idols. toy^? as in ch. ii. 15, and OyD9 as in 2 Kings 
xvii. 41 and Deut. vii. 5, 25 (see at Ex. xx. 4). 

Nevertheless the Lord continued to show love to them. 
Vers. 3, 4, " And I, / have taught Ephraim to walk : He took 
them in His arms, and they did not know that I healed them. I 
drew them with bands of a maw, with cords of love, and became 
to them like a lifter up of the yoke upon their jaws, and gently 
towards him did I give (him) food." ^l^"} 1 ?, a hiphil, formed 
after the Aramaean fashion (cf. Ges. 55, 5), by hardening 
the n into n, and construed with *?, as the hiphil frequently is 
(e.g. ch. x. 1 ; Amos viii. 9), a denom. of 7Q to teach to walk, 
to guide in leading-strings, like a child that is being trained to 
walk. It is a figurative representation of paternal care for a 
child s prosperity. Bnp, per aphceresin, for B^Py, like Hjj for njp 
in Ezek. xvii. 5. The sudden change from the first person to 
the third seems very strange to our ears ; but it is not un 
common in Hebrew, and is to be accounted for here from the 
fact, that the prophet could very easily pass from speaking in 
the name of God to speaking of God Himself, njj cannot be 
either an infinitive or a participle, on account of the following 
word vn yiiT, his arms. The two clauses refer chiefly to the care 
and help afforded by the Lord to His people in the Arabian 
desert ; and the prophet had Deut. i. 31 floating before his 
mind : " in the wilderness the Lord thy God bare thee, as a man 
doth bear his son." The last clause also refers to this, D^nsai 
pointing back to Ex. xv. 26, where the Lord showed Himself as 
the physician of Israel, by making the bitter water at Marali 
drinkable, and at the same time as their helper out of every 
trouble. In ver. 4, again, there is a still further reference to 
the manifestation of the love of God to Israel on the journey 
through the wilderness. D*]K \ian, cords with which men are 
led, more especially children that are weak upon their feet, in 
contrast with ropes, with which men control wild, unmanage 
able beasts (Ps. xxxii. 9), are a figurative representation of the 
paternal, humane guidance of Israel, as explained in the next 
figure, " cords of love." This figure leads on to the kindred 
figure of the yoke laid upon beasts, to harness them for work. 
As merciful masters lift up the yoke upon the cheeks of their 
oxen, i.e. push it so far back that the animals can eat their 
food in comfort, so has the Lord made the yoke of the law, which 

CHAP. XI 5-7. 139 

has been laid upon His people, both soft and light. As *?$ fy 
does not mean to take the yoke away from ( V&) the cheeks, but 
to lift it above the cheeks, i.e. to make it easier, by pushing it 
back, we cannot refer the words to the liberation of Israel from 
the bondage of Egypt, but can only think of what the Lord 
did, to make it easy for the people to observe the command 
ments imposed upon them, when they were received into His 
covenant (Ex. xxiv. 3, 7), including not only the many mani 
festations of mercy which might and ought to have allured them 
to reciprocate His love, and yield a willing obedience to His 
commandments, but also the means of grace provided in their 
worship, partly in the institution of sacrifice, by which a way of 
approach was opened to divine grace to obtain forgiveness of 
sin, and partly in the institution of feasts, at which they could 
rejoice in the gracious gifts of their God. tOS1 is not the first 
pers. imperf. hiphil of PIBJ ("I inclined myself to him ;" Symm., 
Syr., and others), in which case we should expect BKJ, but an 
adverb, softly, comfortably ; and VJK belongs to it, after the 
analogy of 2 Sam. xviii. 5. rifo is an anomalous formation for 
^3NK, like Tlte for TIINK in Jer. xlvi. 8 (cf. Ewald, 192, d ; 
Ges. 68, 2, Anm. 1). Jerome has given the meaning quite 
correctly : " and I gave them manna for food in the desert, 
which they enjoyed." 

By despising this love, Israel brings severe punishment upon 
itself. Ver. 5. " It will not return into the land of Egypt ; but 
Asshur, he is its king, because they refused to return. Ver. 6. 
And the sword ivill sweep round in its cities, and destroy its 
bolts , and devour, because of their counsels. Ver. 7. My people is 
bent upon apostasy from me : and if men call it upwards, it does 
not raise itself at all 9 The apparent contradiction between 
the words, " It will not return into the land of Egypt," and the 
threat contained in ch. viii. 13, ix. 3, that Israel should return 
to Egypt, ought not to lead us to resort to alterations of the 
text, or to take N^ in the sense of i^, and connect it with the 
previous verse, as is done by the LXX., Mang., and others, or 
to make an arbitrary paraphrase of the words, either by taking 
fc6 in the sense of fc6n, and rendering it as a question, " Should it 
not return?" equivalent to " it will certainly return" (Maurer, 
Ewald, etc.) ; or by understanding the return to Egypt as 
signifying the longing of the people for help from Egypt 

1 1 HOSEA. 

(Rosenmiiller). The emphatic Nin of the second clause is at 
variance with all these explanations, since they not only fail to 
explain it, hut it points unmistakeably to an antithesis: "Israel 
will not return to Egypt ; but Asshur, it shall be its king," i.e. 
it shall come under the dominion of Assyria. The supposed 
contradiction is removed as soon as we observe that in ch. 
viii. 13, ix. 3, 6, Egypt is a type of the land of bondage ; 
whereas here the typical interpretation is precluded partly by 
the contrast to Asshur, and still more by the correspondence in 
which the words stand to ver. Ib. Into the land from which 
Jehovah called His people, Israel shall not return, lest it should 
appear as though the object, for which it had been brought out 
of Egypt and conducted miraculously through the desert, had 
been frustrated by the impenitence of the people. But it is to 
be brought into another bondage. "WX1 is appended adversa- 
tively. Asshur shall rule over it as king, because they refuse 
to return, sc. to Jehovah. The Assyrians will wage war 
against the land, and conquer it. The sword (used as the 
principal weapon, to denote the destructive power of war) will 
circulate in the cities of Israel, make the round of the cities as 
it were, and destroy its bolts, i.e. the bolts of the gates of the 
fortifications of Ephraim. Baddim, poles (Ex. xxv. 13 sqq.), 
cross-poles or cross-beams, with which the gates were fastened, 
hence bolts in the literal sense, as in Job xvii. 16, and not tro 
pically for "princes" (Ges.), electi (Jer., Chald., etc.). " On 
account of their counsels : " this is more fully defined in 
ver. 7. W, and my people ( = since my people) are harnessed 
to apostasy from me (m e shubhdthi, with an objective suffix). 
CPKWfl, lit. suspended on apostasy, i.e. riot " swaying about in 
consequence of apostasy or in constant danger of falling away" 
(Chald., Syr., Hengst.), since this would express too little in 
the present context and would not suit the second half of the 
verse, but impaled or fastened upon apostasy as upon a stake, 
so that it cannot get loose. Hence the constructing of n^n 
with h instead of ^ or 3 (2 Sam. xviii. 10), may be accounted 
for from the use of the verb in a figurative sense. /JT^ 
upwards fy as in ch. vii. 16), do they (the prophets : see 
ver. 2) call them ; but it does not rise, sc. to return to God, or 
seek help from on high. Dph pilel, with the meaning of the 
kal intensified, to make a rising, i.e. to rise up. This explaua- 

CHAP. XI. 8, 3 141 

tion appears simpler than supplying an object, say " the soul " 
(Ps. xxv. 1), or " the eyes" (Ezek. xxxiii. 25). 

They deserved to be utterly destroyed for this, and would 
have been if the compassion of God had not prevented it. 
With this turn a transition is made in ver. 8 from threatening 
to promise. Ver. 8. " How could I give thee up, Ephraim ! 
surrender thee, Israel! how could I give thee up like Admah, 
make thee like Zeboim ! My heart has changed within me, my 
compassion is excited all at once. Ver. 9. I will not execute the 
burning heat of my wrath, I will not destroy Ephraim again : 
for I am God, and not man, the Holy One in the midst of thee : 
and come not into burning wrath." " How thoroughly could I 
give thee up ! " sc. if I were to punish thy rebellion as it 
deserves. Nathan, to surrender to the power of the enemy, 
like miggen in Gen. xiv. 20. And not that alone, but I could 
utterly destroy thee, like Admah and Zeboim, the two cities of 
the valley of Siddim, which were destroyed by fire from heaven 
along with Sodom and Gomorrha. Compare Deut. xxix. 22, 
where Admah and Zeboim are expressly mentioned along with 
the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha, which stand alone in Gen. 
xix. 24. With evident reference to this passage, in which 
Moses threatens idolatrous Israel with the same punishment, 
Hosea simply mentions the last two as quite sufficient for his 
purpose, whereas Sodom and Gomorrha are generally men 
tioned in other passages (Jer. xlix. 18 ; cf. Matt. x. 15, Luke 
x. 12). The promise that God will show compassion is 
appended here, without any adversative particle. My heart 
has turned, changed in me (W, lit. upon or with me, as in the 
similar phrases in 1 Sam. xxv. 36, Jer. viii. 18). ^ED3 *1H!, in 
a body have my feelings of compassion gathered themselves 
together, i.e. my whole compassion is excited. Compare Gen. 
xliii. 30 and 1 Kings iii. 26, where, instead of the abstract 
nichumlm, we find the more definite rachamlm, the bowels as 
the seat of the emotions. *]N P"in n^y, to carry out wrath, to 
execute it as judgment (as in 1 Sam. xxviii. 18). In the ex 
pression nn&6 2WK *6, I will not return to destroy, aw may be 
explained from the previous ^ ^SsiiJ. After the heart of God 
has changed, it will not return to wrath, to destroy Ephraim ; 
for Jehovah is God, who does not alter His purposes like a man 
(cf. 1 Sam. xv. 29, Num. xxiii. 19, Mai. iii. 6), and He shows 

142 HOSEA. 

Himself in Israel as the Holy One, i.e. the absolutely pure and 
perfect one, in whom there is no alternation of light and dark 
ness, and therefore no variableness in His decrees (see at Ex. 
xix. 6 ; Isa. vi. 3). The difficult expression "Vya cannot mean 
" into a city," although it is so rendered by the ancient versions, 
the Kabbins, and many Christian expositors ; for we cannot 
attach any meaning to the words " I do not come into a city " 
at all in harmony with the context. "VV signifies here cestus irce, 
the heat of wrath, from "wy, effervescere, just as in Jer. xv. 8 
it signifies the heat of alarm and anxiety, cestus animi. 

Ver. 10. " They will go after Jehovah ; like a lion will He 
roar ; for He will roar : and sons will tremble from the sea. 
Ver. 11. Tremble like birds out of Egypt, and like doves out of the 
land of Asshur : and I cause them to dwell in their houses, is the 
saying of Jehovah" When the Lord turns His pity towards 
the people once more, they will follow Him, and hasten, with 
trembling at His voice, from the lands of their banishment, and 
be reinstated by Him in their inheritance. The way for this 
promise was opened indeed by ver. 9, but here it is introduced 
quite abruptly, and without any logical particle of connection, 
like the same promise in ch. iii. 5. " ^ns T^n, to walk after 
the Lord, denotes not only " obedience to the gathering voice 
of the Lord, as manifested by their drawing near" (Simson), 
but that walking in true obedience to the Lord which follows 
from conversion (Deut. xiii. 5 ; 1 Kings xiv. 8), so that the 
Chaldee has very properly rendered it, " They will follow the 
worship of Jehovah." This faithfulness they will exhibit first 
of all in practical obedience to the call of the Lord. This call 
is described as the roaring of a lion, the point of comparison 
lying simply in the fact that a lion announces its coming by 
roaring, so that the roaring merely indicates a loud, far-reach 
ing call, like the blowing of the trumpet in Isa. xxvii. 13. 
The reason for what is affirmed is then given : " for He 
(Jehovah) will really utter His call," in consequence of which 
the Israelites, as His children, will come trembling (chared 
synonymous with pdchad, ch. iii. 5). BJD, from the sea, i.e. 
from the distant islands and lands of the west (Isa. xi. 11), as 
well as from Egypt and Assyria, the lands of the south and 
east. These three regions are simply a special form of the 
idsa, "out of all quarters of the globe;" compare the more 

CHAP. XI. 12-XII. 143 

complete enumeration of the several remote countries in Isa. 
xi. 11. The comparison to birds and doves expresses the swift 
ness with which they draw near, as doves fly to their dovecots 
(Isa. Ix. 8). Then will the Lord cause them to dwell in their 
houses, i.e. settle them once more in their inheritance, in His 
own land (cf. Jer. xxxii. 37, where npx> is added). On the 
construing of TKnn with *>V, cf. 1 Kings xx. 43, and the German 
auf der Stube sein. The expression " EM affixes the seal of 
confirmation to this promise. The fulfilment takes place in the 
last days, when Israel as a nation shall enter the kingdom of God. 
Compare the remarks on this point at ch. ii. 1-3 (pp. 49, 50). 



For the purpose of proving that the predicted destruction 
of the kingdom is just and inevitable, the prophet now shows, 
in this last division, first that Israel has not kept the ways of 
its father Jacob, but has fallen into the ungodly practice of 
Canaan (ch. xii.) ; and secondly, that in spite of all the mani 
festations of love, and all the chastisements received from its 
God, it has continued its apostasy and idolatry, and therefore 
perfectly deserves the threatened judgment. Nevertheless the 
compassion of God will not permit it to be utterly destroyed, 
but will redeem it even from death and hell (ch. xiii.-xiv. 1). 
To this there is appended, lastly, in ch. xiv. 2-9, a call to con 
version, and a promise from God of the forgiveness and abun 
dant blessing of those who turn to the Lord. With this the 
book closes (ch. xiv. 10). Thus we find again, that the contents 
of this last division fall very evidently into three parts (ch. xii. 
13, 14, and xiv. 2-10), each of which is still further divisible 
into two strophes. 

Israels Degeneracy into Canaanitish Ways. Chap. xii. 
(Eng. Ver. xi. 12-xii.) 

The faithlessness of Israel and Judah s resistance to God 
bring righteous punishment upon the entire posterity of Jacob 
(xi. 12-xii. 2); whereas the example of their forefather ought to 
have led them to faithful attachment to their God (vers. 3-6). 

1 44 HOSEA. 

But Israel has become Canaan, and seeks its advantage in 
deception and injustice, without hearkening to its God or to the 
voice of its prophets, and will be punished for its idolatry (vers. 
7-11). Whereas Jacob was obliged to flee, and to serve for a 
wife in Aram, Jehovah led Israel out of Egypt, and guarded it 
by prophets. Nevertheless this nation has excited His wrath, 
and will have to bear its guilt (vers. 12-14). The two strophes 
of this chapter are xi. 12-xii. 6 and 7-14. 

Ch. xi. 12 (Heb. Bib. xii. 1). " Ephraimhas surrounded me 
ivith lying, and the house of Israel witli deceit : and Judah is 
moreover unbridled against God, and against the faithful Holy 
One. Ch. xii. 1 (Heb. Bib. 2). Ephraim grazeth windy and hunteth 
after the east : all the day it multiplies lying and desolation, and 
they make a covenant with Asshur, and oil is carried to Egypt. 
Ver. 2. And Jehovah has a controversy ivith Judah, and to per 
form a visitation upon Jacob, according to his ways : according 
to his works will He repay him." In the name of Jehovah, the 
prophet raises a charge against Israel once more. Lying and 
deceit are the terms which he applies, not so much to the 
idolatry which they preferred to the worship of Jehovah (tyev&ri 
/col &v(T<re/3rj \arpeiav, Theod.), as to the hypocrisy with which 
Israel, in spite of its idolatry, claimed to be still the people of 
Jehovah, pretended to worship Jehovah under the image of a 
calf, and turned right into wrong. 1 Beth YisrcCel (the house 
of Israel) is the nation of the ten tribes, and is synonymous 
with Ephraim. The statement concerning Judah has been 
interpreted in different ways, because the meaning of TJ is open 
to dispute. Luther s rendering, " but Judah still holds fast to 
its God," is based upon the rabbinical interpretation of *in, in 
the sense of rnn, to rule, which is decidedly false. According 

to the Arabic jlj, the meaning of rud is to ramble about (used 
of cattle that have broken loose, or have not yet been fastened up, 

1 Calvin explains ^32p correctly thus : " that He (i.e. God) had expe 
rienced the manifold faithlessness of the Israelites in all kinds of ways." 
He interprets the whole sentence as follows : " The Israelites had acted 
unfaithfully towards God, and resorted to deceits, and that not in one way 
only, or of only one kind ; but just as a man might surround his enemy 
with a great army, so had they gathered together innumerable frauds, 
with which they attacked God on every side." 

CHAP. XL 12-XII. 2. 145 

as in Jer. ii. 31) ; hiphil, to cause to ramble about (Gen. xxvii. 
40 ; Ps. Iv. 3). Construed as it is here with Dy, it means to 
ramble about in relation to God, i.e. to be unbridled or unruly 
towards God. WJ, as in many other cases where reciprocal 
actions are referred to, standing towards or with a person : see 
Ewald, 217, li. |BJ D^p, the faithful, holy God. Q e doshlm 
is used of God, as in Prov. ix. 10 (cf. Josh. xxiv. 19), as an 
intensive pluralis majestatis, construed with a singular adjective 
(cf. Isa. xix. 4 ; 2 Kings xix. 4). JEW, firm, faithful, trust 
worthy ; the opposite of rdd. Judah is unbridled towards the 
powerful God ( .#/), towards the Holy One, who, as the Faithful 
One, also proves Himself to be holy in relation to His people, 
both by the sanctification of those who embrace His salvation, 
and also by the judgment and destruction of those who obsti 
nately resist the leadings of His grace. In ver. 1 the lying and 
deceit of Israel are more fully described, nn njn is not to enter 
tain one s self on wind, i.e. to take delight in vain things ; but 
njn means to eat or graze spiritually ; and ruach, the wind, is 
equivalent to emptiness. The meaning therefore is, to strive 
eagerly after what is empty or vain ; synonymous with rddaph, 
to pursue. D^iJ) the east wind, in Palestine a fierce tempestuous 
wind, which comes with burning heat from the desert of Arabia, 
and is very destructive to seeds and plants (compare Job xxvii. 
21, and Wetzstein s Appendix to Delitzsch s Commentary on Job}. 
It is used, therefore, as a figurative representation, not of vain 
hopes and ideals, that cannot possibly be reached, but of that 
destruction which Israel is bringing upon itself. " All the day," 
i.e. continually, it multiplies lying and violence, through the sins 
enumerated in ch. iv. 2, by which the kingdom is being inter 
nally broken up. Added to this, there is the seeking for alliances 
with the powers of the world, viz. Assyria and Egypt, by which 
it hopes to secure their help (ch. v. 13), but only brings about 
its own destruction. Oil is taken to Egypt from the land 
abounding in olives (Deut. viiL 8; 1 Kings v. 25), not as 
tribute, but as a present, for the purpose of securing an ally in 
Egypt. This actually took place during the reign of Hoshea, 
who endeavoured to liberate himself from the oppression of 
Assyria by means of a treaty with Egypt (2 Kings xvii. 4). 1 

1 Manger has given the meaning correctly thus : " He is looking back 
to the ambassadors sent by king Hoshea with splendid presents to the king 
VOL. I. K 

146 HOSEA. 

The Lord will repay both kingdoms for such conduct as this. 
But just as the attitude of Judah towards God is described more 
mildly than the guilt of Israel in ch. xi. 12, so the punish 
ment of the two is differently described in ver. 2. Jehovah 
has a trial with Judah, i.e. He has to reprove and punish its 
sins and transgressions (ch. iv. 1). Upon Jacob, or Israel of 
the ten tribes (as in ch. x. 11), He has to perform a visitation, 
i.e. to punish it according to its ways and its deeds (cf. ch. iv. 9). 
1p2p, it is to be visited, i.e. He must visit. 

Ver. 3. " He held his brother s heel in the ivomb, and in his 
man s strength he fought with God. Ver. 4. He fought against 
the angel, and overcame ; wept, and prayed to Him : at JBethel he 
found Him, and there He talked with us. Ver. 5. And Jehovah, 
God of hosts, Jehovah is His remembrance." The name Jacob, 
which refers to the patriarch himself in ver. 3, forms the link 
between vers. 2 and 3. The Israelites, as descendants of Jacob, 
were to strive to imitate the example of their forefather. His 
striving hard for the birthright, and his wrestling with God, in 
which he conquered by prayer and supplication, are types and 
pledges of salvation to the tribes of Israel which bear his name. 1 
3|?V, a denom. from 3j$, "to hold the heel" = 3&JB triK in Gen. 
xxv. 26, which the prophet has in his mind, not "to overreach," 
as in Gen. xxvii. 36 and Jer. ix. 3. For the wrestling with 
God, mentioned in the second clause of the verse, proves most 
indisputably that Jacob s conduct is not held up before the 
people for a warning, as marked by cunning or deceit, as 
Umbreit and Hitzig suppose, but is set before them for their 
imitation, as an eager attempt to secure the birthright and the 

of Egypt, to bring him over to his side, and induce him to send him assist 
ance against the king of Assyria, although he had bound himself by a sacred 
treaty to submit to the sovereignty of the latter." Compare also Heng- 
stenberg s Christology, vol. i. p. 164 transl., where he refutes the current 
opinion, that the words refer to two different parties in the nation, viz. an 
Assyrian and an Egyptian party, and correctly describes the circumstances 
thus : " The people being severely oppressed by Asshur, sometimes apply 
to Egypt for help against Asshur, and at other times endeavour to awaken 
friendly feelings in the latter." 

1 " He shows what good Jacob received, and the son is named in the 
father : he calls to remembrance the ancient history, that they may see 
both the mercy of God towards Jacob, and his resolute firmness towards 
the Lord." JEROME. 

CHAP. XII. 3-5. 147 

blessing connected with it. This shows at the same time, that 
the holding of the heel in the mother s womb is not quoted as 
a proof of the divine election of grace, and, in fact, that there 
is no reference at all to the circumstance, that " even when 
Jacob was still in his mother s wornb, he did this not by his own 
strength, but by the mercy of God, who knows and loves those 
whom He has predestinated" (Jerome). foiK3 y in his manly 
strength (cf. Gen. xlix. 3) he wrestled with God (Gen. xxxii. 
25-29). This conflict (for the significance of which in relation 
to Jacob s spiritual life, see the discussion at Gen. I.e.) is more 
fully described in ver. 4, for the Israelites to imitate. SJWO is 
the angel of Jehovah, the revealer of the invisible God (see 
the Commentary on the Pentateuch, vol. i. p. 12(> transl.). ?3 S - 1S 
from Gen. xxxii. 29. The explanatory clause, " he wept, and 
made supplication to Him" (after Gen. xxxii. 27), gives the 
nature of the conflict. It was a contest with the weapons of 
prayer ; and with these he conquered. These weapons are also 
at the command of the Israelites, if they w r ill only use them. 
The fruit of the victory was, that he (Jacob) found Him (God) 
at Bethel. This does not refer to the appearance of God to 
Jacob on his flight to Mesopotamia (Gen. xxviii. 11), but to 
that recorded in Gen. xxxv. 9 sqq., when God confirmed his 
name of Israel, and renewed the promises of His blessing. And 
there, continues the prophet, He (God) spake with us; i.e. not 
there He speaks with us still, condemning by His prophets the 
idolatry at Bethel (Amos v. 4, 5), as Kimchi supposes ; but, as 
the imperfect "0*1* corresponds to ^K^_, " there did He speak 
to us through Jacob," i.e. what He there said to Jacob applies 
to us. 1 The explanation of this is given in ver. 5, where the 
name is recalled in which God revealed Himself to Moses, when 
He first called him (Ex. iii. 15), i.e. in which He made known 
to him His true nature. Y e hovdh zikhro is taken literally from 
"Pl Yip naf nj ; but there the name Jehovah is still further 
defined by " the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob," here by 

1 " Let it be carefully observed, that God is said to have talked at 
Bethel not with Jacob only, but with all his posterity. That is to say, the 
things which are here said to have been done by Jacob, and to have hap 
pened to him, had not regard to himself only, but to all the race that 
sprang from him, and were signs of the good fortune which they either 
would, or certainly might enjoy" (Lackemacher in Rosenmuller s Scholia). 

148 HOSEA. 

"the God of hosts." This difference needs consideration. The 
Israelites in the time of Moses could only put full confidence 
in the divine call of Moses to be their deliverer out of the 
bondage of Egypt, on the ground that He who called him was 
the God who had manifested Himself to the patriarchs as the 
God of salvation ; but for the Israelites of Hosea s time, the 
strength of their confidence in Jehovah arose from the fact 
that Jehovah was the God of hosts, i.e. the God who, because 
He commands the forces of heaven, both visible and invisible, 
rules with unrestricted omnipotence on earth as well as in 
heaven (see at 1 Sam. i. 3). 

To this God Israel is now to return. Ver. 6. " And thou, 
to thy God shalt tJiou turn : keep love and right, and hope con 
tinually in thy God" 2W with 2 is a pregnant expression, as 
in Isa. x. 22 : " so to turn as to enter into vital fellowship with 
God ;" i.e. to be truly converted. The next two clauses, as 
the omission of the copula before chesed and the change in the 
tense clearly show, are to be taken as explanatory of 3^JJ. The 
conversion is to show itself in the perception of love and right 
towards their brethren, and in constant trust in God. But 
Israel is far removed from this now. This thought leads the 
way to the next strophe (vers. 8-15), which commences afresh 
with a disclosure of the apostasy of the people. 

Ver. 7. " Canaan, in his hand is the scale of cheating : he 
loves to oppress. Ver. 8. And Ephraim says, Yet I have be 
come rich, have acquired property : all my exertions bring me no 
wrong, which would be sin" Israel is not a Jacob who wrestles 
with God ; but it has become Canaan, seeking its advantage 
in deceit and wrong. Israel is called Canaan here, not so 
much on account of its attachment to Canaanitish idolatry (cf. 
Ezek. xvi. 3), as according to the appellative meaning of the 
word K e naan, which is borrowed from the commercial habits 
of the Canaanites (Phoenicians), viz. merchant or trader (Isa. 
xxiii. 8 ; Job xl. 30), because, like a fraudulent merchant, it 
strove to become great by oppression and cheating ; not " be 
cause it acted towards God like a fraudulent merchant, offering 
Him false show for true reverence," as Schmieder supposes. 
For however thoroughly this may apply to the worship of the 
Israelites, it is not to this that the prophet refers, but to fraudu 
lent weights, and the love of oppression or violence. And this 

CHAP. XII. 9-11. 149 

points not to their attitude towards God, but to their conduct 
towards their fellow-men, which is the very opposite of what, 
according to the previous verse, the Lord requires (cliesed 
umishpdt), and the very thing which He has forbidden in the 
law, in Lev. xix. 36, Deut. xxv. 13-16, and also in the case of 
dshaq, violence, in Lev. vi. 2-4, Deut. xxiv. 14. Ephraim 
prides itself upon this unrighteousness, in the idea that it has 
thereby acquired wealth and riches, and with the still greater 
self-deception, that with all its acquisition of property it has 
committed no wrong that was sin, i.e. that would be followed 
by punishment, fitf does not mean " might" here, but wealth, 
opes, although as a matter of fact, since Ephraim says this 
as a nation, the riches and power of the state are intended. 
T^? is not written at the head absolutely, in the sense of 
" so far as what I have acquired is concerned, men find no 
injustice in this ;" for if that were the case, ^ would stand for 
v ; but it is really the subject, and WXD* is to be taken in the 
sense of acquiring = bringing in (cf. Lev. v. 7, xii. 8, etc.). 

Ver. 9. " Yet am I Jehovah thy God, from the land of Egypt 
hither : I will still cause thee to dwell in tents, as in the days of 
the feast. Ver. 10. / have spoken to the prophets ; and /, / 
have multiplied visions, and spoken similitudes through the pro 
phets. Ver. 11. If Gilead (is) worthlessness, they have only come 
to nothing : in Gilgal they offered bullocks : even their altars are 
like stone-heaps in the furrows of the field." The Lord meets the 
delusion of the people, that they had become great and power 
ful through their own exertion, by reminding them that He 
COJNI is adversative, yet I) has been Israel s God from Egypt 
hither, and that to Him they owe all prosperity and good in 
both past and present (cf. ch. xiii. 4). Because they do not 
recognise this, and because they put their trust in unrighteous 
ness rather than in Him, He will now cause them to dwell in 
tents again, as in the days of the feast of Tabernacles, i.e. will 
repeat the leading through the wilderness. It is evident from 
the context that moed (the feast) is here the feast of Taber 
nacles, iro W (the days of the feast) are the seven days of 
this festival, during which Israel was to dwell in booths, in 
remembrance of the fact that when God led them out of 
Egypt He had caused them to dwell in booths (tabernacles, 
Lev. xxiii. 42, 43). ^Pte TV stands in antithesis to 

150 HOSEA. 

in Lev. xxiii. 43. " The preterite is changed into a future 
through the ingratitude of the nation " (Hengstenberg). The 
simile, " as in the days of the feast," shows that the repetition 
of the leading through the desert is not thought of here merely 
as a time of punishment, such as the prolongation of the 
sojourn of the Israelites in the wilderness for forty years really 
was (Num. xiv. 33). For their dwelling in tents, or rather in 
booths (suMoth), on the feast of Tabernacles, was intended 
not so much to remind the people of the privations of their 
unsettled wandering life in the desert, as to call to their 
remembrance the shielding and sheltering care and protection 
of God in their wandering through the great and terrible 
wilderness (see at Lev, xxiii. 42, 43). We must combine the 
two allusions, therefore: so that whilst the people are threatened 
indeed with being driven out of the good and glorious land, 
with its large and beautiful cities and houses full of all that is 
good (Deut. vi. 10 sqq.), into a dry and barren desert, they 
have also set before them the repetition of the divine guidance 
through the desert ; so that they are not threatened with utter 
rejection on the part of God, but only with temporary banish 
ment into the desert. In vers. 10 and 11 the two thoughts of 
ver. 9 are still further expanded. In ver. 10 they are reminded 
how the Lord had proved Himself to be the God of Israel 
from .Egypt onwards, by sending prophets and multiplying 
prophecy, to make known His will and gracious counsel to the 
people, and to promote their salvation. I2n with ?tf, to speak 
to, not because the word is something imposed upon a person, 
but because the inspiration of God came down to the prophets 
from above. ns*], not " I destroy," for it is only the kal that 
occurs in this sense, and not the piel, but " to compare," i.e. 
speak in similes ; as, for example, in ch. i. and iii., Isa. v. 1 sqq., 
Ezek. xvi. etc.: "I have left no means of admonishing them 
untried" (Rosenmuller). Israel, however, has not allowed 
itself to be admonished and warned, but has given itself up to 
sin and idolatry, the punishment of which cannot be delayed. 
Gilead and Gilgal represent the two halves of the kingdom of 
the ten tribes ; Gilead the land to the east of the Jordan, 
and Gilgal the territory to the west. As Gilead is called 
" a city (i.e. a rendezvous) of evil-doers " (!$ $g*B) in ch. vi. 8, 
so is it here called distinctly |}tf, worthlessness, wickedness; 

CHAP. XII. 12-14. 151 

and therefore it is to be utterly brought to nought. |JN and 
M& are synonymous, denoting moral and physical nonentity 
(compare Job xv. 31). Here the two notions are so distributed, 
that the former denotes the moral decay, the latter the physical. 
Worthlessness brings nothingness after it as a punishment. :JK, 
only = nothing, but equivalent to utterly. The perfect Vn is 
used for the certain future. Gilgal, which is mentioned in 
ch. iv. 15, ix. 15, as the seat of one form of idolatrous worship, 
is spoken of here as a place of sacrifice, to indicate with a play 
upon the name the turning of the altars into heaps of stones 
(Gallim). The desolation or destruction of the altars involves 
not only the cessation of the idolatrous worship, but the dis 
solution of the kingdom and the banishment of the people out of 
the land. B*")J$ which only occurs in the plural here, cannot 
of course be the dative (to sacrifice to oxen), but only the accu 
sative. The sacrifice of oxen was reckoned as a sin on the 
part of the people, not on account of the animals offered, but 
on account of the unlawful place of sacrifice. The suffix to 
m&tb ehothdm (their sacrifices) refers to Israel, the subject im 
plied in zibbechu. 

This punishment Israel well deserved. Ver. 12. u And 
Jacob fled to the fields of Aram ; and Israel served for a wife, 
and for a wife did he keep guard. Ver. 13. And through a 
prophet Jehovah brought Israel out of Egypt, and through a 
prophet was he guarded. Ver. 14. Ephraim has stirred up 
bitter wrath ; and his Lord will leave his blood upon him, and 
turn back his shame upon him." In order to show the people 
still more impressively what great things the Lord had done 
for them, the prophet recals the flight of Jacob, the tribe- 
father, to Mesopotamia, and how he was obliged to serve many 
years there for a wife, and to guard cattle ; whereas God had 
redeemed Israel out of the Egyptian bondage, and had faith 
fully guarded it through a prophet. The flight of Jacob to 
Aramsea, and his servitude there, are mentioned not " to give 
prominence to his zeal for the blessing of the birthright, and 
his obedience to the commandment of God and his parents " 
(Cyr., Theod., Th. v. Mops.) ; nor " to bring out the double 
servitude of Israel, the first the one which the people had to 
endure in their forefather, the second the one which they had 
to endure themselves in Egypt " (Umbreit) ; nor " to lay stress 

152 HOSEA. 

upon the manifestation of the divine care towards Jacob as 
well as towards the people of Israel " (Ewald) ; for there is 
nothing at all about this in ver. 12. The words point simply 
to the distress and affliction which Jacob had to endure, accord 
ing to Gen. xxix.-xxxi., as Calvin has correctly interpreted 
them. " Their father Jacob," he says, " who was he 1 what 
was his condition ? . . . He was a fugitive from his country. 
Even if he had always lived at home, his father was only a 
stranger in the land. But he was compelled to flee into Syria. 
And how splendidly did he live there I He was with his uncle, 
no doubt, but he was treated quite as meanly as any common 
slave : lie served for a tuife. And how did he serve? He was 
the man who tended the cattle. * Shdmar, the tending of 
cattle, was one of the hardest and lowest descriptions of servi 
tude (cf. Gen. xxx. 31, xxxi. 40; 1 Sam. xvii. 20). S e deh dram 
(the field of Aram) is no doubt simply the Hebrew rendering 
of the Aramaean Paddan-drdm (Gen. xxviii. 2, xxxi. 18 : see at 
Gen. xxv. 20). Jacob s flight to Aramsea, where he had to 
serve, is contrasted in ver. 10 with the leading of Israel, the 
people sprung from Jacob, out of Egypt by a prophet, i.e. by 
Moses (cf. Deut. xviii. 18) ; and the guarding of cattle by 
Jacob is placed in contrast with the guarding of Israel on the 
part of God through the prophet Moses, when he led them 
through the wilderness to Canaan. The object of this is to 
call to the nation s remembrance that elevation from the lowest 
condition, which they were to acknowledge with humility every 
year, according to Deut. xxvi. 5 sqq., when the first-fruits were 
presented before the Lord. For Ephraim had quite forgotten 
this. Instead of thanking the Lord for it by love and faithful 
devotedness to Him, it had provoked Him in the bitterest 
manner by its sins (D^n, to excite wrath, to provoke to anger: 
tamrurlm, an adverbial accusative = bitterly). For this should 
its blood-guiltiness remain upon it. According to Lev. xx. 9 sqq., 
ddmlm denotes grave crimes that are punishable by death. 
Ndtash, to let a thing alone, as in Ex. xxiii. 11 ; or to leave 
behind, as in 1 Sam. xvii. 20, xxii. 28. Leaving blood-guilti 
ness upon a person, is the opposite of taking away (KB^) or 
forgiving the sin, and therefore inevitably brings the punish 
ment after it. Cherpdtlio (its reproach or dishonour) is the 
dishonour which Ephraim had done to the Lord by sin and 

CHAP. XIII. 1, 3. 153 

idolatry (cf. Isa. Ixv. 7). And this would be repaid to it by its 
Lord, i.e. by Jehovah. 

Israels deep Fall. Chap, xiii.-xiv. 1. 

Because Israel would not desist from its idolatry, and 
entirely forgot the goodness of its God, He would destroy its 
might and glory (vers. 1-8). Because it did not acknowledge 
the Lord as its help, its throne would be annihilated along with 
its capital ; but this judgment would become to all that were 
penitent a regeneration to newness of life. Ver. 1. " When 
Epliraim spake, there was terror ; he exalted himself in Israel ; 
then he offended through Baal, and died. Ver. 2. And now they 
continue to sin, and make themselves molten images out of their 
silver, idols according to their understanding ; manufacture of 
artists is it all : they say of them, Sacrificers of men : let 
them kiss calves." In order to show how deeply Israel had 
fallen through its apostasy, the prophet points to the great dis 
tinction which the tribe of Ephraim formerly enjoyed among 
the tribes of Israel. The two clauses of ver. la cannot be so 
connected together as that N^J should be taken as the continua 
tion of the infinitive "12H. The emphatic Kin is irreconcilable 
with this. We must rather take nrn (a?r. Xe7-, in Aramgean 
= DD"i ? Jer. xlix. 24, terror, tremor) as the apodosis to k e dabber 
Ephraim (when Ephraim spake), like ris^ in Gen. iv. 7 : "As 
Ephraim spake there was terror," i.e. men listened with fear 
and trembling (cf. Job xxix. 21). KBtt is used intransitively, 
as in Nahum i. 5, Ps. Ixxxix. 10. Ephraim, i.e. the tribe 
of Ephraim, " exalted itself in Israel," not u it was distin 
guished among its brethren" (Hitzig), but " it raised itself to 
the government." The prophet has in his mind the attempts 
made by Ephraim to get the rule among the tribes, which led 
eventually to the secession of the ten tribes from the royal 
family of David, and the establishment of the kingdom of 
Israel by the side of that of Judah. When Ephraim had 
secured this, the object of its earnest endeavours, it offended 
through Baal; i.e. not only through the introduction of the 
worship of Baal in the time of Ahab (1 Kings xvi. 31 sqq.), 
but even through the establishment of the worship of the calves 
under Jeroboam (1 Kings xii. 28), through which Jehovah was 

154 HOSEA. 

turned into a Baal. fibjl, used of the state or kingdom, is equi 
valent to " was given up to destruction" (cf. Amos ii. 2). The 
dying commenced with the introduction of the unlawful worship 
(cf. 1 Kings xii. 30). From this sin Ephraim (the people of 
the ten tribes) did not desist : they still continue to sin, and 
make themselves molten images, etc., contrary to the express 
prohibition in Lev. xix. 4 (cf. Ex. xx. 4). These words are not 
merely to be understood as signifying, that they added other 
idolatrous images in Gilgal and Beersheba to the golden calves 
(Amos viii. 14) ; but they also involve their obstinate adherence 
to the idolatrous worship introduced by Jeroboam (compare 
2 Kings xvii. 16). DJUH3 from n^an, with the feminine ter 
mination dropped on account of the suffix (according to Ewald, 
257, d; although in the note Ewald regards this formation 
as questionable, and doubts the correctness of the reading) : 
" according to their understanding," i.e. their proficiency in art. 
The meaning of the second hemistich, which is very difficult, 
depends chiefly upon the view we take of &7? TPfj Vlz " whether 
we render these words " they who sacrifice men," as the LXX., 
the fathers, and many of the rabbins and Christian expositors 
have done ; or " the sacrifices of (among) men," as Kimchi, 
Bochart, Ewald, and others do, after the analogy of CHK Oi QN in 
Isa. xxix. 19. Apart from this, however, zobh e che dddm cannot 
possibly be taken as an independent sentence, such as " they 
sacrifice men," or " human sacrificers are they," unless with the 
LXX. we change the participle TQT arbitrarily into the perfect 
^nat. As the words read, they must be connected either with 
what follows or with what precedes. But if we connect them 
with what follows, we fail to obtain any suitable thought, 
whether we render it " human sacrificers (those who sacrifice 
men) kiss calves," or " the sacrificers among men kiss calves." 
The former is open to the objection that human sacrifices were 
not offered to the calves (i.e. to Jehovah, as worshipped under 
the symbol of a calf), but only to Moloch, and that the wor 
shippers of Moloch did not kiss calves. The latter, " men who 
offer sacrifice kiss calves," might indeed be understood in this 
sense, that the prophet intended thereby to denounce the great 
folly, that men should worship animals ; but this does not suit 
the preceding words D^ptf Dn ? and it is impossible to see in what 
sense they could be employed. There is no other course left, 

CHAP. XIII. 3-5. 155 

therefore, than to connect zobh e che dddm with what precedes, 
though not in the way proposed by Ewald, viz. " even to these 
do sacrificers of men say." This rendering is open to the fol 
lowing objections : (1) that EH after Dn/> would have to be taken 
as an emphatic repetition of the pronoun, and we cannot find 
any satisfactory ground for this ; and, (2) what is still more 
important, the fact that dmar would be used absolutely, in the 
sense of " they speak in prayer," which, even apart from the 
" prayer," cannot be sustained by any other analogous example. 
These difficulties vanish if we take zobh e che dddm as an expla 
natory apposition to hem : " of them (the atsabblm) they say, 
viz. the sacrificers from among men (i.e. men who sacrifice), Let 
them worship calves." By the apposition zobh e che dddm, and 
the fact that the object agdllm is placed first, so that it stands 
in immediate contrast to dddm, the absurdity of men kissing 
calves, i.e. worshipping them with kisses (see at 1 Kings xix. 
18), is painted as it were before the eye. 

They prepare for themselves swift destruction in conse 
quence. Ver. 3. " Therefore will they be like the morning cloud, 
and like the dew that passes early away, as chaff blows away from 
the threshing-floor, and as smoke out of the window" Ldkhen, 
therefore, viz. because they would not let their irrational idolatry 
go, they would quickly perish. On the figures of the morning 
cloud and dew, see at ch. vi. 4. The figure of the chaff occurs 
more frequently (yid. Isa. xvii, 13, xli. 15, 16 ; Ps. i. 4, xxxv. 
5, etc.). "ijtJb* is used relatively : which is stormed away, i.e. 
blown away from the threshing-floor by a violent wind. The 
threshing-floors were situated upon eminences (compare my 
Bibl. Archdol. ii. p. 114). u Smoke out of the window," i.e. 
smoke from the fire under a saucepan in the room, which passed 
out of the window-lattice, as the houses were without chimneys 
(see Ps. Ixviii. 3). 

Ver. 4. " And yet I am Jehovah thy God from the land of 
Egypt hither ; and thou knowest no God beside me, and there is 
no helper beside me. Ver. 5. 1 knew thee in the desert, in the 
land of burning heats" As in ch. xii. 10, a contrast is drawn 
here again between the idolatry of the people and the unin 
terrupted self-attestation of Jehovah to the faithless nation. 
From Egypt hither Israel has known no other God than 
Jehovah, i.e. has found no other God to be a helper and 

156 HOSEA. 

Saviour. Even in the desert He knew Israel, i.e. adopted it in 
love. JHJ, to know, when applied to God, is an attestation of 
His love and care (compare Amos iii. 2 ; Isa. Iviii. 3, etc.). The 

air. Xe7. nin&Wij from 2K^, c-^J, med. Vav, to thirst, signifies 

burning heat, in which men famish with thirst (for the fact, 
compare Deut. viii. 15). 

But prosperity made Israel proud, so that it forgot its God. 
Ver. 6. " As they had their pasture, they became full ; they 
became full, and their heart was lifted up : therefore have they 
forgotten me" This reproof is taken almost word for word from 
Deut. viii. 11 sqq. (cf. ch. xxxi. 20, xxxii. 15 sqq.). DJVJTIO3, 
answering to their pasture, i.e. because they had such good 
pasture in the land given them by the Lord. The very thing 
of which Moses warned the people in Deut. viii. 11 has come 
to pass. Therefore are the threats of the law against the 
rebellious fulfilled upon them. 

Ver. 7. " And I became like a lion to them; as a leopard by 
the wayside do I lie in wait. Ver. 8. I fall upon them as a bear 
robbed of its young, and tear in pieces the enclosure of their 
heart, and eat them there like a lioness : the beast of the field will 
tear them in pieces" The figure of the pasture which made 
Israel full (ver. 6) is founded upon the comparison of Israel to 
a flock (cf. ch. iv. 16). The chastisement of the people is there 
fore represented as the tearing in pieces and devouring of the 
fattened flock by wild beasts. God appears as a lion, panther, 
etc., which fall upon them (cf. ch. v. 14). ^nttt does not stand 
for the future, but is the preterite, giving the consequence of 
forgetting God. The punishment has already begun, and will 
still continue ; we have therefore from "WK onwards imperfects 
or futures. W, from "W, to look round, hence to lie in wait, 
as in Jer. v. 26. It is not to be changed into Asshur, as it is 
by the LXX. and Vulgate. D2p "riJp, the enclosure of their 
heart, i.e. their breast. Sham (there) points back to al-derekh 
(by the way). 

Ver. 9 commences a new strophe, in which the prophet 
once more discloses to the people the reason for their corrup 
tion (vers. 9-13) ; and after pointing to the saving omnipotence 
of the Lord (ver. 14), holds up before them utter destruction 
as the just punishment for their guilt (ver. 15 and ch. xiv. 1). 

CHAP. XIII. 9-11. 157 

Ver. 9. " Israel, it hurls thee into destruction, that tliou (art) 
against me, thy help. Ver. 10. Where is iliy king ? that he may 
help thee in all thy cities : and (where) thy judges ? of whom 
thou saidst, Give me king and princes! Ver. 11. I give thee 
kings in my anger, and take them away in my wrath." ^^ 
does not combine together the verbs in ver. 8, as Hitzig sup 
poses ; nor does ver. 9 give the reason for what precedes, but 
shichethkhd is explained by ver. 10, from which we may see that 
a new train of thought commences with ver. 9. Shicheth does 
not mean to act corruptly here, as in Deut. xxxii. 5, ix. 12, and 
Ex. xxxii. 7, but to bring into corruption, to ruin, as in Gen. 
vi. 17, ix. 15, Num. xxxii. 15, etc. The sentence U1 ^ *3 
cannot be explained in any other way than by supplying the 
pronoun riHK, as a subject taken from the suffix to ^nnjy 
(Marck, and nearly all the modern commentators). "This 
throws thee into distress, that thou hast resisted me, who am 
thy help." *nt?-? as in Deut. xxxiii. 26, except that 2 is used 
in the sense of against, as in Gen. xvi. 12, 2 Sam. xxiv. 17, 
etc. This opposition did not take place, however, when all 
Israel demanded a king of Samuel (1 Sam. viii. 5). For 
although this desire is represented there (ver. 7) as the rejec 
tion f Jehovah, Hosea is speaking here simply of the Israel of 
the ten tribes. The latter rebelled against Jehovah, when 
they fell away from the house of David, and made Jeroboam 
their king, and with contempt of Jehovah put their trust in 
the might of their kings of their own choosing (1 Kings xii. 16 
sqq.). But these kings could not afford them any true help. 
The question, " Where " ( ehl only occurs here and twice in 
ver. 14, for S K or JTN, possibly simply from a dialectical variation 
vid. Ewald, 104, c and is strengthened by Ni2N, as in Job 
xvii. 15), " Where is thy king, that he may help thee ? " does 
not presuppose that Israel had no king at all at that time, and 
that the kingdom was in a state of anarchy, but simply that it 
had no king who could save it, when the foe, the Assyrian, 
attacked it in all its cities. Before shoph e tei/khd (thy judges) 
we must repeat ehl (where). The shoph e tlm, as the use of the 
word sdrlm (princes) in its stead in the following clause clearly 
shows, are not simple judges, but royal counsellors and mini 
sters, who managed the affairs of the kingdom along with the 
king, and superintended the administration of justice. The 

158 HOSEA. 

saying, " Give me a king and princes," reminds us very forcibly 
of the demand of the people in the time of Samuel ; but they 
really refer simply to the desire of the ten tribes for a king of 
their own, which manifested itself in their dissatisfaction with 
the rule of the house of David, and their consequent seces 
sion, and to their persistence in this secession amidst all the 
subsequent changes of the government. We cannot therefore 
take the imperfects ffiN and fli9N in ver. 11 as pure preterites, 
i.e. we cannot understand them as referring simply to the 
choice of Jeroboam as king, and to his death. The imperfects 
denote an action that is repeated again and again, for which 
we should use the present, and refer to all the kings that the 
kingdom of the ten tribes had received and was receiving still, 
and to their removal. God in His wrath gives the sinful 
nation kings and takes them away, in order to punish the 
nation through its kings. This applies not merely to the kings 
who followed one another so rapidly through conspiracy and 
murder, although through these the kingdom was gradually 
broken up and its dissolution accelerated, but to the rulers 
of the ten tribes as a whole. God gave the tribes who were 
discontented with the theocratical government of David and 
Solomon a king of their own, that He might punish them 
for their resistance to His government, which came to light in 
the rebellion against Rehoboam. He suspended the division 
of the kingdom not only over Solomon, as a punishment for 
his idolatry, but also over the rebellious ten tribes, who, when 
they separated themselves from the royal house to which the 
promise had been given of everlasting duration, were also 
separated from the divinely appointed worship and altar, and 
given up into the power of their kings, who hurled one another 
from the throne ; and God took away this government from 
them to chastise them for their sins, by giving them into the 
power of the heathen, and by driving them away from His face. 
It is to this last thought, that what follows is attached. The 
removal of the king in wrath would occur, because the sin of 
Ephraim was reserved for punishment. 

Ver. 12. " The guilt of Epliraim is bound together : his sin 
is preserved. Ver. 13. The pains of a travailing woman come 
upon him : he is an unwise son ; that he does not place himself at 
the time in the breaking forth of children" Ver. 12 is a special 

CHAP. XIII. 12-14. 159 

application of Deut. xxxii. 34 to the ten tribes. Tsdrur, bound 
up in a bundle, like a thing which you wish to take great care 
of (compare Job xiv. 17 ; 1 Sam. xxv. 29). The same thing is 
applied in tsdphun, hidden, carefully preserved, so as not to be 
lost (Job xxi. 19). " All their sins are preserved for punish 
ment" (Chald.). Therefore will pains overtake Ephraim like 
a woman in labour. The pains of childbirth are not merely a 
figurative representation of violent agony, but of the sufferings 
and calamities connected with the refining judgments of God, 
by which new life was to be born, and a complete transforma 
tion of all things effected (cf. Mic. iv. 9, 10 ; Isa. xiii. 8, 
xxvi. 17 ; Matt. xxiv. 8). He cannot be spared these pains, 
for he is a foolish son (cf. Deut. xxxii. 6, 28 sqq.). But in 
what respect ? This is explained in the words W n?> "3, " for 
at the time," or as HV cannot stand for riyp ? more correctly 
" when it is time," he does not place himself in, i.e. does not 
enter, the opening of the womb. Mishbar bdnim is to be 
explained as in 2 Kings xix. 3 and Isa. xxxvii. 3 ; and "10JJ c. 1 
as in Ezek. xxii. 30. If the child does not come to the open 
ing at the right time, the birth is retarded, and the life of 
both mother and child endangered. The mother and child are 
one person here. And this explains the transition from the 
pains of the mother to the behaviour of the child at the time 
of birth. Ephraim is an unwise son, inasmuch as even under 
the chastening judgment he still delays his conversion, and will 
not let himself be new-born, like a child, that at the time of the 
labour-pains will not enter the opening of the womb and so 
come to the birth. 

But in order to preserve believers from despair, the Lord 
announces in ver. 14 that He will nevertheless redeem His 
people from the power of death. Ver. 14. " Out of the hand 
of hell will I redeem them ; from death will I set them free ! 
Where are thy plagues, death f where thy destruction, hell ! 
Repentance is hidden from mine eyes" The fact that this verse 
contains a promise, and not a threat, would hardly have been 
overlooked by so many commentators, if they had not been led, 
out of regard to vers. 13, 15, to put force upon the words, 
and either take the first clauses as interrogative, " Should I ... 
redeem?" (Calvin and others), or as conditional, "I would 
redeem them," with "si resipiscerent" supplied (Kimchi, Sal. 

100 HOSEA. 

b. Mel. Ros., etc.). But apart from the fact that the words 
supplied are perfectly arbitrary, with nothing at all to indicate 
them, both of these explanation are precluded by the sentences 
which follow ; for the questions, " Where are thy plagues, O 
death ? " etc., are obviously meant to affirm the conquest or 
destruction of hell and death. And this argument retains its 
force even if we take vitf as an optative from n^n ? without 
regard to ver. 10, since the thought, I should like to be thy 
plague, O death," presupposes that deliverance from the power 
of death is affirmed in what comes before. But, on account of 
the style of address, we cannot take Vw even as an interroga 
tive, in the sense of " Should I be," etc. And what would be 
the object of this gradation of thought, if the redemption from 
death were only hypothetical, or were represented as altogether 
questionable ? If we take the words as they stand, therefore, 
it is evident that they affirm something more than deliverance 
when life is in danger, or preservation from death. To redeem 
or ransom from the hand (or power) of hell, i.e. of the under 
world, the realm of death, is equivalent to depriving hell of its 
prey, not only by not suffering the living to die, but by bring 
ing back to life those who have fallen victims to hell, i.e. to the 
region of the dead. The cessation or annihilation of death is 
expressed still more forcibly in the triumphant words : " Where 
are thy plagues (pestilences), O death ? where thy destruction, 
O hell ? " of which Theodoret has aptly observed, iraiavi^eiv 
Kara rov Qavdrov /ceXevei. Tiy*. ls an intensive plural of 
debher, plague, pestilence, and is to be explained in accordance 
with Ps. xci. 6, where we also find the synonym Stpp in the 
form 2D ? pestilence or destruction. The Apostle Paul has 
therefore very properly quoted these words in 1 Cor. xv. 55, 
in combination with the declaration in Isa. xxv. 8, " Death is 
swallowed up in victory," to confirm the truth, that at the 
resurrection of the last day, death will be annihilated, and that 
which is corruptible changed into immortality. We must not 
restrict the substance of this promise, however, to the ultimate 
issue of the redemption, in which it will receive its complete 
fulfilment. The suffixes attached to epJidem and eg diem point 
to Israel of the ten tribes, like the verbal suffixes in ver. 8. 
Consequently the promised redemption from death must stand 
in intimate connection with the threatened destruction of the 

CHAP. XIII 15. 161 

kingdom of Israel. Moreover, the idea of the resurrection of 
the dead was by no means so clearly comprehended in Israel at 
that time, as that the prophet could point believers to it as a 
ground of consolation when the kingdom was destroyed. The 
only meaning that the promise had for the Israelites of the 
prophet s day, was that the Lord possessed the power even to 
redeem from death, and raise Israel from destruction into new 
ness of life ; just as Ezekiel (ch. xxxvii.) depicts the restoration 
of Israel as the giving of life to the dry bones thai lay scattered 
about the field. The full and deeper meaning of these words 
was but gradually unfolded to believers under the Old Testa 
ment, and only attained complete and absolute certainty for 
all believers through the actual resurrection of Christ. But 
in order to anticipate all doubt as to this exceedingly great pro 
mise, the Lord adds, " repentance is hidden from mine eyes," 
i.e. my purpose of salvation will be irrevocably accomplished. 
The far. \67. nodiam does not mean " resentment " (Ewald), 
but, as a derivative of nicham, simply consolation or repentance. 
The former, which the Septuagint adopts, does not suit the 
context, which the latter alone does. The words are to be 
interpreted in accordance with Ps. Ixxxix. 36 and Ps. ex. 4, 
where the oath of God is still further strengthened by the 
words Dnr l6tj and will not repent;" and Dfl^ vh corresponds to 
3N DK in Ps. Ixxxix. 36 (Marck and Krabbe, Qucestion. de Hos. 
vatic, spec. p. 47). Compare 1 Sam. xv. 29 and Num. xxiii. 19. 
Ver. 15. " For he will bear fruit among brethren. East 
wind will come, a wind of Jehovah, rising up from the desert ; 
and his fountain will dry up, and his spring become dried. He 
plunders the treasuries of all splendid vessels" The connection 
between the first clause and the previous verse has been cor 
rectly pointed out by Marck. " Ver. 15," he says, " adduces 
a reason to prove that the promised grace of redemption would 
certainly stand firm." ^ cannot be either a particle of time or 
of condition here (when, or if) ; for neither of them yields a 
suitable thought, since Ephraim neither was at that time, nor 
could become, fruit-bearing among brethren. Ewald s hypo 
thetical view, Should Ephraim be a fruitful child," cannot be 
grammatically sustained, since Id is only used in cases where a 
circumstance is assumed to be real. For one that is merely 
supposed to be possible, DN is required, as the interchange of 

VOL. I. T. 


OK and 3, in Num. v. 19, 20, for example, clearly shows. The 
meaning of Kn.a^ is placed beyond all doubt by the evident play 
upon the name Epliraim ; and this also explains the writing 
with N instead of n, as well as the idea of the sentence itself : 
Ephraim will bear fruit among the brethren, i.e. the other tribes, 
as its name, double-fruitfulness, affirms (see at Gen. xli. 52). 
This thought, through which the redemption from death set 
before Israel is confirmed, is founded not only upon the assump 
tion that the name must become a truth, but chiefly upon the 
blessing which the patriarch promised to the tribe of Ephraim 
on the ground of its name, both in Gen. xlviii. 4, 20, and Gen. 
xlix. 22 sqq. Because Ephraim possessed such a pledge of bless 
ing in its very name, the Lord would not let it be overwhelmed 
for ever in the tempest that was bursting upon it. The same 
thing applies to the name Ephraim as to the name Israel, with 
which it is used as synonymous ; and what is true of all the 
promises of God is true of this announcement also, viz. that they 
are only fulfilled in the case of those who adhere to the condi 
tions under which they were given. Of Ephraim, those only 
will bear fruit which abides to everlasting life, who walk as true 
champions for God in the footsteps of faith and of their fore 
fathers, wrestling for the blessing of the promises. On the 
other hand, upon the Ephraim that has turned into Canaan 
(ch. xii. 8) an east wind will come, a tempest bursting from the 
desert (see at ch. xii. 2), and that a stormy wind raised by 
Jehovah, which will dry up his spring, i.e. destroy not only the 
fruitful land with which God has blessed it (Deut. xxxiii. 
13-16), but all the sources of its power and stability. Like the 
promise in ver. 14, the threatening of the judgment, to which 
the kingdom of Israel is to succumb, is introduced quite 
abruptly with the word NtaJ. The figurative style of address 
then passes in the last clause into a literal threat. Kin, he, the 
hostile conqueror, sent as a tempestuous wind by the Lord, viz. 
the Assyrian, will plunder the treasure of all costly vessels, i.e. 
all the treasures and valuables of the kingdom. On k e ll chemddh 
compare Nah. ii. 10 and 2 Chron. xxxii. 27. We understand 
by it chiefly the treasures of the capital, to which a serious 
catastrophe is more especially predicted in the next verse (ch. 
xiv. 1), which also belongs to this strophe, on account of its 
rebellion against God. 

CHAP. XIII. 16-XIV. 3. 163 

Ver. 16. (Heb. Bib. ch. xiv. . 1)... " Samaria will* atone, 
because it has rebelled against its God : they will fall by the 
sword; their children will be dashed to pieces, and its women with 
child ripped up." DK K, to atone, . to bear the guilt, i.e\ the 
punishment. It is not equivalent to shdmem in Ezek. vi. 6, 
although, as a matter of fact, the expiation consisted in the 
conquest and devastation of Samaria by Shalmanezer. The 
subject to yipp lu (will fall) is the inhabitants of Samaria. The 
suffix to Vninn (^ s women, etc.) refers to the nation. The form 
nnn is one derived from rnn, for rnn (Ewald, 189, e) The 
construction with the masculine verb Wi??!, in the place of the 
feminine, is an anomaly, which may be explained from the fact 
that feminine formations from the plur. imperf. are generally 
very rare (see Ewald, 191, b). For the fact itself, compare 
ch. x. 14 ; 2 Kings viii. 12, xv. 16 ; Amos i. 13. 

Israels Conversion and Pardon. Chap. xiv. 

After the prophet has set before the sinful nation in various 
ways its own guilt, and the punishment that awaits it, viz. the 
destruction of the kingdom, he concludes his addresses with a 
call to thorough conversion to the Lord, and the promise that 
the Lord will bestow His grace once more upon those who turn 
to Him, and will bless them abundantly (vers. 1-8). Ver. 1. 
(Heb. Bib. ver. 2). " Return, Israel, to, Jehovah thy God; for 
thou hast stumbled through thy guilt. Ver. 2. Take with you ivords, 
and turn to Jehovah ; say ye to Sim, Forgive all guilt, and accept 
what is good, that we may offer our lips as- bullocks. Ver. 3. 
Asshur will not help us: we will not ride upon horses, nor say 
6 Our God* any more to the manufacture of our own hands ; for 
with Thee the orphan findeth compassion." There is no salva 
tion for fallen man without return to God. It is therefore with 
a call to return to the Lord their God, that the prophet opens 
the announcement of the salvation with which the Lord will 
bless His people, whom He has brought to reflection by means 
of the judgment (cf. Deut. iv. 30, xxx. 1 sqq.). " *W 315?, to 
return, to be converted to the Lord, denotes complete conver 
sion ; btf 3ttV is, strictly speaking, simply to turn towards God, 
to direct heart and mind towards Him. By Mshaltd sin is 
represented as a false step, which still leaves it possible to 

164 HOSEA. 

return ; so tliat in a call to conversion it is very appropriately 
chosen. But if the conversion is to be of the right kind, it 
must begin with a prayer for the forgiveness of sin, and attest 
itself by the renunciation of earthly help and simple trust in the 
mercy of God. Israel is to draw near to God in this state of 
mind. " Take with you words," i.e. do not appear before the 
Lord empty (Ex. xxiii. 15, xxxiv. 20) ; but for this ye do not 
require outward sacrifices, but simply words, sc. those of con 
fession of your guilt, as the Chaldee has correctly explained it. 
The correctness of this explanation is evident from the con 
fession of sin which follows, with which they are to come before 
God. In py Nfrn 73, the position of col at the head of the 
sentence may be accounted for from the emphasis that rests 
upon it, and the separation of dvon, from the fact that col was 
beginning to acquire more of the force of an adjective, like our 
all (thus 2 Sam. i. 9 ; Job xxvii. 3 : cf. Ewald, 289, a; Ges. 
114, 3, Anm. 1). Qach tobh means neither " accept goodness," 
i.e. let goodness be shown thee (Hitzig), nor " take it as good," 
sc. that we pray (Grotius, Ros.) ; but in the closest connection 
with what proceeds : Accept the only good thing that we are able 
to bring, viz. the sacrifices of our lips. Jerome has given the 
correct interpretation, viz. : " For unless Thou hadst borne away 
our evil things, we could not possibly have the good thing which 
we offer Thee ;" according to that which is written elsewhere 
(Ps.xxxvii.27), "Turn from evil, and do good." ttTOfr * vno^, 
literally, " we will repay (pay) as young oxen our lips," i.e. 
present the prayers of our lips as thank-offerings. The ex 
pression is to be explained from the fact that shillem, to wipe 
off what is owing, to pay, is a technical term, applied to the 
sacrifice offered in fulfilment of a vow (Deut. xxiii. 22 ; Ps. 
xxii. 26, 1. 14, etc.), and that pdrlm, young oxen, were the best 
animals for thank-offerings (Ex. xxiv. 5). As such thank- 
offerings, i.e. in the place of the best animal sacrifices, they 
would offer their lips, i.e. their prayers, to God (cf. Ps. li. 17-19, 
Ixix. 31, 32). In the Sept. rendering, airo^a-c^ev icapTrbv 
XeiXewv, to which there is an allusion in Heb. xiii. 15, D^a has 
been confounded with ^B, as Jerome has already observed. But 
turning to God requires renunciation of the world, of its power, 
and of all idolatry. Rebellious Israel placed its reliance upon 
Assyria arid Egypt (ch. v. 13, vii. 11, viii. 9). It will do this 

CHAP. XIV. 4-8. 1G5 

no longer. The riding upon horses refers partly to the military 
force of Egypt (Isa. xxxi. 1), and partly to their own (ch. i. 7 ; 
Isa. ii. 7). For the expression, " neither will we say to the 
work of our hands," compare Isa. xlii. 17, xliv. 17. *If "i^X, not 
" Thou with whom," but " for with Thee" (dsher as in Deut. 
iii. 24). The thought, " with Thee the orphan findeth com 
passion," as God promises in His word (Ex. xxii. 22 ; Deut. x. 
18), serves not only as a reason for the resolution no longer to 
call the manufacture of their own hands God, but generally for 
the whole of the penitential prayer, which they are encouraged 
to offer by the compassionate nature of God. In response to 
such a penitential prayer, the Lord will heal all His people s 
wounds, and bestow upon them once more the fulness of the 
blessings of His grace. The prophet announces this in vers. 
4-8 as the answer from the Lord. 

Ver. 4. " I will heal their apostasy, will love them freely : for 
my wrath has turned away from it. Ver. 5. / will be like dew 
for Israel: it shall blossom like the lily, and strike its roots 
like Lebanon. Ver. 6. Its shoots shall go forth) and its splendour 
shall become like the olive-tree) and its smell like Lebanon. Ver. 
7. They that dwell in its shadow shall give life to corn again ; 
and shall blossom like the vine : whose glory is like the wine of 
Lebanon. Ver. 8. Ephraim : What have I further with the 
idols ? / hear } and look upon him : /, like a bursting cypress^ in 
me is thy fruit found" The Lord promises first of all to heal 
their apostasy, i.e. all the injuries which have been inflicted by 
their apostasy from Him, and to love them with perfect spon 
taneity (n e ddbhdh an adverbial accusative, promta animi volun- 
tate)) since His anger, which was kindled on account of its 
idolatry, had now turned away from it (mimmennU) i.e. from 
Israel). The reading mimmennl (from me), which the Baby 
lonian Codices have after the Masora, appears to have originated 
in a misunderstanding of Jer. ii. 35. This love of the Lord 
will manifest itself in abundant blessing. Jehovah will be to 
Israel a refreshing, enlivening dew (cf. Isa. xxvi. 19), through 
which it will blossom splendidly, strike deep roots, and spread 
its shoots far and wide. " Like the lily :" the fragrant white 
lily, which is very common in Palestine, and grows without 
cultivation, and " which is unsurpassed in its fecundity, often 
producing fifty bulbs from a single root " (Pliny h. n. xxi. 5). 


" Strike roots like Lebanon," i.e. not merely the deeply rooted 
forest of Lebanon, but the mountain itself, as one of the "foun 
dations of the earth " (Mic. vi. ; 2). The deeper the roots, the 
more the branches spread and cover themselves with splendid 
green foliage, like the evergreen and fruitful olive-tree (Jer. 
xi. 16 ; Ps. lii. 10). The smell is like Lebanon, which is ren 
dered fragrant by its cedars and spices (Song of Sol. iv. 11). 
The meaning of the several features in the picture has been 
well explained by Rosenmiiller thus : " The rooting indicates 
stability ; the spreading of the branches, propagation and the 
multitude of inhabitants ; the splendour of the olive, beauty and 
glory, and that constant and lasting ; the fragrance, hilarity 
and loveliness." In ver. 7 a somewhat different turn is given 
to the figure. The comparison of the growth and flourishing of 
Israel to the lily and to a tree, that strikes deep roots and spreads 
its green branches far and wide, passes imperceptibly into the 
idea that Israel is itself the tree beneath whose shade the mem 
bers of the nation flourish with freshness and vigour. to^tPJ is to 
be connected adverbially with OT. Those who sit beneath the 
shade of Israel, the tree that is bursting into leaf, will revive 
corn, i.e. cause it to return to life, or produce it for nourish 
ment, satiety, and strengthening. Yea, they themselves will 
sprout like the vine, whose remembrance is, i.e. which has a 
renown, like the wine of Lebanon, which has been celebrated 
from time immemorial (cf. Plin. h. n. xiv. 7 ; Oedmann, 
Verm. Sammlung aus der Naturkunde, ii. p. 193 ; and Rosen 
miiller, Bibl. Althk. iv. 1, p. 217). The divine promise closes 
in ver. 9 with an appeal to Israel to renounce idols alto 
gether, and hold fast by the Lord alone as the source of its life. 
Ephraim is a vocative, and is followed immediately by what the 
Lord has to say to Ephraim, so that we may supply memento in 
thought. \h Ity ^-no, what have I yet to do with idols ! (for 
this phrase, compare Jer. ii. 18) ; that is to say, not " I have 
now to contend with thee on account of the idols (Schmieder), 
nor " do not place them by my side any more " (Ros.) ; but, 
" I will have nothing more to do with idols," which also im 
plies that Ephraim is to have nothing more to do with them. 
To this there is appended a notice of what God has done 
and will do for Israel, to which greater prominence is given bv 
the emphatic ^ : 7, 1 hearken Cdnlthl a prophetic perfect), and 

CHAP. XIV. 9. 


look upon him. TIK>, to look about for a person, to be anxious 
about him, or care for him, as in Job xxiv. 15. The suffix 
refers to Ephraim. In the last clause, God compares Himself 
to a cypress becoming green, not only to denote the shelter 
which He will afford to the people, but as the true tree of life, 
on which the nation finds its fruits a fruit which nourishes and 
invigorates the spiritual life of the nation. The salvation which 
this promise sets before the people when they shall return to 
the Lord, is indeed depicted, according to the circumstances 
and peculiar views prevailing under the Old Testament, as 
earthly growth and prosperity ; but its real nature is such, that 
it will receive a spiritual fulfilment in those Israelites alone who 
are brought to belief in Jesus Christ. 

Ver. 9 (10) contains the epilogue to the whole book. 
" Who is wise, that he may understand this ? understanding) that he 
may discern it ? For the ways of Jehovah are straight, and the 
righteous walk therein : but the rebellious stumble in them" The 
pronoun n?N and the suffix to Djn.1 refer to everything that the 
prophet has laid before the people in his book for warning, for 
reproof, for correction, for chastening in righteousness. He 
concludes by summing up the whole substance of his teaching 
in the one general sentence, which points back to Deut. xxxii. 4 : 
The ways of the Lord are straight. " The ways of Jehovah " 
(darkhe Y e hovdh) are the ways taken by God in the guidance 
and government of men ; not only the ways which He prescribes 
for them, but also His guidance of them. These ways lead 
some to life and others to death, according to the different 
attitudes which men assume towards God, as Moses announced 
to all the Israelites that they would (Deut. xxx. 19, 20), and 
as the Apostle Paul assured the church at Corinth that the 
gospel of Jesus also would (1 Cor. i. 18). 



Joel ( N^, i-e. whose God is Jehovah, Icofo) is 
distinguished from other men of the same name, 
which occurs very frequently (e.g. 1 Sam. viii. 2; 
1 Chron. iv. 35, v. 4, viii. 12, vi. 21, vii. 3 ; 2 Chron. xxix. 12; 
Neh. xi. 9), by the epithet " son of Pethuel " (^NVIB, the open- 
heartedness or sincerity of God). Nothing is known of the 
circumstances connected with his life, since the traditional 
legends as to his springing from Bethom (BrjOwv, al. Seffvpdv in 
Ps. Epiph.), or Bethomeron in the tribe of Reuben (Ps. Doroth.), 
are quite unsupported. All that can be inferred with any 
certainty from his writings is, that he lived in Judah, and in 
all probability prophesied in Jerusalem. The date of his 
ministry is also a disputed point ; though so much is certain, 
namely, that he did not live in the reign of Manasseh or 
Josiah, or even later, as some suppose, but was one of the 
earliest of the twelve minor prophets. For even Amos (i. 2) 
commences his prophecy with a passage from Joel (iii. 16), 
and closes it with the same promises, adopting in ch. ix. 13 the 
beautiful imagery of Joel, of the mountains dripping with new 
wine, and the hills overflowing (Joel iii. 18). And Isaiah, 
again, in his description of the coming judgment in ch. xiii., 
had Joel in his mind ; and in ver. 6 he actually borrows a 
sentence from his prophecy (Joel i. 15), which is so peculiar 
that the agreement cannot be an accidental one. Conse 
quently, Joel prophesied before Amos, i.e. before the twenty- 
seven years of the contemporaneous reigns of Uzziah and 
Jeroboam u. How long before, can only be inferred with any 
degree of probability from the historical circumstances to which 


170 JOEL. 

he refers in his prophecy. The only enemies that he mentions 
besides Egypt and Edom (ch. iii. 19), as those whom the Lord 
would punish for the hostility they had shown towards the 
people of God, are Tyre and Zidon, and the coasts of Philistia 
(ch. iii. 4) ; but not the Syrians, who planned an expedition 
against Jerusalem after the conquest of Gath, which cost 
Joash not only the treasures of the temple and palace, but his 
own life also (2 Kings xii. 18 sqq. ; 2 Chron. xxiv. 23 sqq.), 
on account of which Amos predicted the destruction of the 
kingdom of Syria, and the transportation of the people to 
Assyria (Amos i. 3-5). But inasmuch as this expedition of 
the Syrians was not " directed against the Philistines, so that 
only a single detachment made a passing raid into Judah on 
their return," as Hengstenberg supposes, but was a direct 
attack upon the kingdom of Judah, to which the city of Gath, 
that Rehoboam had fortified, may still have belonged (see at 
2 Kings xii. 18, 19), and inflicted a very severe defeat upon 
Judah, Joel would surely have mentioned the Syrians along 
with the other enemies of Judah, if he had prophesied after 
that event. And even if the absence of any reference to the 
hostility of the Syrians towards Judah is not strictly conclusive 
when taken by itself, it acquires great importance from the 
fact that the whole character of Joel s prophecy points to the 
times before Amos and Hosea. We neither meet with any 
allusion to the sins which Hosea and Amos condemn on the 
part of Judah, and which brought about the Assyrian judg 
ment ; nor is idolatry, as it prevailed under Joram, Ahaziah, 
and Athaliah, ever mentioned at all ; but, on the contrary, the 
Jehovah-worship, which Jehoiada the high priest restored when 
Joash ascended the throne (2 Kings xi. 17 sqq. ; 2 Chron. 
xxiii. 16 sqq.), is presupposed with all its well-regulated and 
priestly ceremonial. These circumstances speak very decidedly 
in favour of the conclusion that the first thirty years of the 
reign of Joash, during which the king had Jehoiada the high 
priest for his adviser, are to be regarded as the period of Joel s 
ministry. No well-founded objection can be brought against 
this on account of the position which his book occupies among 
the minor prophets, since there is no ground for the opinion 
that the writings of the twelve minor prophets are arranged 
with a strict regard to chronology. 


2. THE BOOK OF JOEL. The writings of Joel contain a 
connected prophetic proclamation, which is divided into two 
equal halves by ch. ii. 18 and 19a. In the first half the pro 
phet depicts a terrible devastation of Judah by locusts and 
scorching heat; and describing this judgment as the harbinger, 
or rather as the dawn, of Jehovah s great day of judgment, 
summons the people of all ranks to a general day of penitence, 
fasting, and prayer, in the sanctuary upon Zion, that the Lord 
may have compassion upon His nation (ch. i. 2-ii. 17). In 
the second half there follows, as the divine answer to the call 
of the people to repentance, the promise that the Lord will 
destroy the army of locusts, and bestow a rich harvest blessing 
upon the land by sending early and latter rain (ch. ii. 19&- 
*xvii.), and then in the future pour out His Spirit upon all 
flesh (ch. ii. 28-32), and sit in judgment upon all nations, who 
have scattered His people and divided His land among them, 
and reward them according to their deeds ; but that He will 
shelter His people from Zion, and glorify His land by rivers 
of abundant blessing (ch. iii.). These two halves are con 
nected together by the statement that Jehovah manifests the 
jealousy of love for His land, and pity towards His people, 
and answers them (ch. ii. 18, 19a). So far the commentators 
are all agreed as to the contents of the book. But there 
are differences of opinion, more especially as to the true inter 
pretation of the first half, namely, whether the description of 
the terrible devastation by locusts is to be understood literally 
or allegorical ly. 1 The decision of this question depends upon 
the reply that is given to the prior question, whether ch. i. 2- 

1 The allegorical exposition is found even in the Chaldee, where the 
four names of the locusts are rendered literally in ch. i. 4, whereas in ch. 
ii. 25 we find hostile tribes and kingdoms instead ; also in Ephraem Syrus, 
Cyril of Alex., Theodoret, and Jerome, although Theodoret regards the 
literal interpretation as also admissible, and in Abarb., Luther, and many 
other expositors. And lately it has been vigorously defended by Hengsten- 
berg in his Christology (i. p. 302 translation), and by Havernick (Intro 
duction, ii. 2, p. 294 sqq.), who both of them agree with the fathers in 
regarding the four swarms of locusts as representing the imperial powers 
of Chaldea, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. On the other hand, Rufinus, 
Jarchi, Ab. Ezra, Dav. Kimchi, support the literal view that Joel is describ 
ing a terrible devastation of the land by locusts ; also Bochart, Pococke, 
J. H. Michaelis, and in the most recent times, Hofmann and Delitzsch. 

172 JOEL. 

ii. 17 contains a description of a present or a future judgment. 
If we observe, first of all, that the statement in ch. ii. 18 and 
19a, by which the promise is introduced, is expressed in four 
successive imperfects with Vav consec. (the standing form for 
historical narratives), there can be no doubt whatever that this 
remark contains a historical announcement of what has taken 
place on the part of the Lord in consequence of the penitential 
cry of the people. And if this be established, it follows still 
further that the first half of our book cannot contain the pre 
diction of a strictly future judgment, but must describe a 
calamity which has at any rate in part already begun. This 
is confirmed by the fact that the prophet from the very out 
set (ch. i. 2-4) describes the devastation of the land by locusts 
as a present calamity, on the ground of which he summons 
the people to repentance. As Joel begins with an appeal 
to the old men, to see whether such things have happened in 
their own days, or the days of their fathers, and to relate 
them to their children and children s children, and then 
describes the thing itself with simple perfects, U! ??s DTjn "irp, it 
is perfectly obvious that he is not speaking of something that 
is to take place in the future, but of a divine judgment that 
has been inflicted already. 1 It is true that the prophets fre 
quently employ preterites in their description of future events, 
but there is no analogous example that can be found of such a 
use of them as we find here in ch. i. 2-4 ; and the remark 
made by Hengstenberg, to the effect that we find the preterites 
employed in exactly the same manner in ch. iii., is simply in 
correct. But if Joel had an existing calamity before his eye, and 
depicts it in ch. i. 2 sqq., the question in dispute from time imme 
morial, whether the description is to be understood allegorically 
or literally, is settled in favour of the literal view. " An alle 
gory must contain some significant marks of its being so. Where 
these are wanting, it is arbitrary to assume that it is an allegory 
at all." And we have no such marks here, as we shall show in 
our exposition in detail. "As it is a fact established by the 

1 " Some imagine," as Calvin well observes, " that a punishment is here 
threatened, which is to fall at some future time ; but the context shows 
clearly enough that they are mistaken and mar the prophet s true mean 
ing. He is rather reproving the hardness of the people, because they do 
not feel their plagues." 


unanimous testimony of the most credible witnesses, that wher 
ever swarms of locusts descend, all the vegetation in the fields 
immediately vanishes, just as if a curtain had been rolled up ; 
that they spare neither the juicy bark of woody plants, nor the 
roots below the ground ; that their cloud-like swarms darken 
the air, and render the sun and even men at a little distance 
off invisible ; that their innumerable and closely compact army 
advances in military array in a straight course, most obstinately 
maintained ; that it cannot be turned back or dispersed, either 
by natural obstacles or human force ; that on its approach a 
loud roaring noise is heard like the rushing of a torrent, a 
waterfall, or a strong wind ; that they no sooner settle to eat, 
than you hear on all sides the grating sound of their mandibles, 
and, as Volney expresses it, might fancy that you heard the 
foraging of an invisible army ; if we compare these and other 
natural observations with the statements of Joel, we shall find 
everywhere the most faithful picture, and nowhere any hyper 
bole requiring for its justification and explanation that the army 
of locusts should be paraphrased into an army of men ; more 
especially as the devastation of a country by an army of locusts 
is far more terrible than that of an ordinary army ; and there 
is no allusion, either expressed or hinted at, to a massacre 
among the people. And if we consider, still further, that the 
migratory locusts (Acridiummigratoriumj in Oken, Allg. Natur- 
gesch. v. 3, p. 1514 sqq.) find their grave sometimes in dry and 
barren steppes, and sometimes in lakes and seas, it is impossible 
to comprehend how the promise in ch. ii. 20 one part of the 
army now devastating Judah shall be hurled into the southern 
desert, the van into the Dead Sea, and the rear into the Mediter 
ranean can harmonize with the allegorical view" (Delitzsch). 1 
The only thing that appears to favour the idea that the locusts 
are used figuratively to represent hostile armies, is the circum 
stance that Joel discerns in the devastation of the locusts as 
depicted by him, the drawing near or coming of the day of the 
Lord (ch. i. 15, ii. 1), connected with the fact that Isaiah 
speaks of the judgment upon Baal, which was accomplished by 

1 Proofs of this have been collected in great numbers by Sam. Bochart 
(Hieroz.), and both Oedmann ( Vermischte Sammlungen, ii. 76 sqq. and vi. 
74 sqq.) and Credner (appendix to his Commentary on Joel) have contri 
buted abundant gleanings gathered from the reports of travellers. 

174 JOEL. 

a hostile army, in the words of Joel (ch. i. 15 ; see Isa. xiii. 6). 
But on closer examination, this appearance does not rise into 
reality. It is true that by the " day of Jehovah " we cannot 
understand a different judgment from the devastation of the 
locusts, since such a supposition would be irreconcilable with 
ch. ii. 1 sqq. But the expression, " for the day of Jehovah is 
at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty does it come," 
shows that the prophet did not so completely identify the day 
of the Lord with the plague of locusts, as that it was exhausted 
by it, but that he merely saw in this the approach of the great 
day of judgment, i.e. merely one element of the judgment, 
which falls in the course of ages upon the ungodly, and will be 
completed in the last judgment. One factor in the universal 
judgment is the judgment pronounced upon Babylon, and 
carried out by the Medes ; so that it by no means follows from 
the occurrence of the words of Joel in the prophecy of Isaiah, 
that the latter put an allegorical interpretation upon Joel s de 
scription of the devastation by the locusts. 

But even if there are no conclusive indications or hints, that 
can be adduced in support of the allegorical interpretation, it 
cannot be denied, on the other hand, that the description, as a 
whole, contains something more than a poetical painting of one 
particular instance of the devastation of Judah by a more 
terrible swarm of locusts than had ever been known before ; 
that is to say, that it bears an ideal character surpassing the 
reality, a fact which is overlooked by such commentators as can 
find nothing more in the account than the description of a very 
remarkable plague. The introduction, "Hear this, ye old men ; 
and give ear, all ye inhabitants of the land : hath this been in your 
days, or in the days of your fathers ? Tell ye your children of it, 
and let your children tell their children, and their children the 
following generation" (ch. i. 2, 3); and the lamentation in ver. 
9, that the meat-offering and drink-offering have been destroyed 
from the house of Jehovah ; and still more, the picture of the 
day of the Lord as a day of darkness and of gloominess like 
the morning red spread over the mountains; a great people 
and a strong, such as has not been from all eternity, and after 
which there will be none like it for ever and ever (ch. ii. 2), 
unquestionably show that Joel not only regarded the plague of 
locusts that came upon Judah in the light of divine revelation, 


and as a sign, but described it as the breaking of the Lord s 
great day of judgment, or that in the advance of the locusts 
he saw the army of God, at whose head Jehovah marched as 
captain, and caused His voice, the terrible voice of the Judge 
of the universe, to be heard in the thunder (ch. ii. 11), and 
that he predicted this coming of the Lord, before which the 
earth trembles, the heavens shake, and sun, moon, and stars 
lose their brightness (ch. ii. 10), as His coming to judge the 
world. This proclamation, however, was no production of 
mere poetical exaggeration, but had its source in the inspira 
tion of the Spirit of God, which enlightened the prophet ; so 
that in the terrible devastation that had fallen upon Judah 
he discerned one feature of the day of judgment of the Lord, 
and on the ground of the judgment of God that had been thus 
experienced, proclaimed that the coming of the Lord to judg 
ment upon the whole world was near at hand. The medium 
through which this was conveyed to his mind was meditation 
upon the history of the olden time, more especially upon the 
judgments through which Jehovah had effected the redemption 
of His people out of Egypt, in connection with the punishment 
with which Moses threatened the transgressors of the law 
(Deut. xxviii. 38, 39, 42), namely, that locusts should devour 
their seed, their plants, their fields, and their fruits. Heng- 
stenberg has correctly observed, that the words of Joel in ch. 
ii. 10, " There have not been ever the like," are borrowed from 
Ex. x. 14 ; but it is not in these words alone that the prophet 
points to the Egyptian plague of locusts. In the very intro 
duction to his prophecy (ch. i. 2, 3), viz. the question whether 
such a thing has occurred, and the charge, Tell it to your chil 
dren, etc., there is an unmistakeable allusion to Ex. x. 2, where 
the Lord charges Moses to tell Pharaoh that He will do signs, 
in order that Pharaoh may relate it to his son and his son s son, 
and then announces the plague of locusts in these words: " that 
thy fathers and thy fathers fathers have not seen such things 
since their existence upon the earth " (Ex. x. 6). As the basis 
of this judgment of God which fell upon Egypt in the olden 
time, and by virtue of a higher illumination, Joel discerned in 
the similar judgment that had burst upon Judah in his own 
time, a type of the coming of Jehovah s great day of judgment, 
and made it the substratum of his prophecy of the judgment of 

17b JOEL. 

the wrath of the Lord which would come upon Judah, to terrify 
the sinners out of their self-security, and impel them by earnest 
repentance, fasting, and prayer, to implore the divine mercy for 
deliverance from utter destruction. This description of the 
coming day of Jehovah, i.e. of the judgment of the world, for 
which the judgment inflicted upon Judah of the devastation by 
locusts prepared the way, after the foretype of these occurrences 
of both the olden and present time, is no allegory, however, in 
which the heathen nations, by whom the judgments upon the 
covenant nation that had gone further and further from its 
God would be executed in the time to come, are represented 
as swarms of locusts coming one after another and devastat 
ing the land of Judah ; but it has just the same reality as the 
plague of locusts through which God once sought to humble 
the pride of the Egyptian Pharaoh. We are no more at liberty 
to turn the locusts in the prophecy before us into hostile 
armies, than to pronounce the locusts by which Egypt was 
devastated, allegorical figures representing enemies or troops of 
hostile cavalry. Such a metamorphosis as this is warranted 
neither by the vision in Amos vii. 1-3, where Amos is said to 
have seen the divine judgment under the figure of a swarm of 
locusts ; nor by that described in Rev. ix. 3 sqq., where locusts 
which come out of the bottomless pit are commanded neither 
to hurt the grass nor any green thing, nor any tree, but only 
to torment men with their scorpion-stings : for even in these 
visions the locusts are not figurative, representing hostile nations; 
but on the basis of the Egyptian plague of locusts and of Joel s 
prophecy, they stand in Amos as a figurative representation of 
the devastation of the land, and in the Apocalypse as the symbol 
of a supernatural plague inflicted upon the ungodly. Lastly, 
another decisive objection to the allegorical interpretation is to 
be found in the circumstance, that neither in the first nor in 
the second half of his book does Joel predict the particular 
judgments which God will inflict in the course of time, partly 
upon His degenerate people, and partly upon the hostile powers 
of the world, but that he simply announces the judgment of 
God upon Judah and the nations of the world in its totality, 
as the great and terrible day of the Lord, without unfolding 
more minutely or even suggesting the particular facts in which 
it will be historically realized. In this respect, the ideality of 


his prophecy is maintained throughout; and the only speciality 
given to it is, that in the first half the judgment upon the 
covenant people is proclaimed, and in the second the judg 
ment upon the heathen nations : the former as the groundwork 
of a call to repentance ; the latter as the final separation be 
tween the church of the Lord and its opponents. And this 
separation between the covenant nation and the powers of the 
world is founded on fact. The judgment only falls upon the 
covenant nation when it is unfaithful to its divine calling, when 
it falls away from its God, and that not to destroy and anni 
hilate it, but to lead it back by means of chastisement to the 
Lord its God. If it hearken to the voice of its God, who 
speaks to it in judgments, the Lord repents of the evil, an d 
turns the calamity into salvation and blessing. It was Joel s 
mission to proclaim this truth in Judah, and turn the sinful 
nation to its God. To this end he proclaimed to the people, 
that the Lord was coming to judgment in the devastation that 
the locusts had spread over the land, and by depicting the great 
and terrible day of the Lord, called upon them to turn to 
their God with all their heart. This call to repentance was 
not without effect. The Lord was jealous for His land, and 
spared His people (ch. ii. 18), and sent His prophets to pro 
claim the removal of the judgment and the bestowal of a 
bountiful earthly and spiritual blessing : viz., for the time im 
mediately ensuing the destruction of the army of locusts, the 
sending of the teacher for righteousness, and a plentiful fall of 
rain for the fruitful supply of the fruits of the ground (ch. ii. 
19, 27) ; and in the more remote future, the pouring out of His 
Spirit upon the whole congregation, and on the day of the 
judgment upon all nations the deliverance and preservation of 
His faithful worshippers ; and finally, after the judgment, the 
transformation and eternal glory of Zion (ch. ii. 28-iii. 21). 
Here, again, the ideality of the prophetic announcement is 
maintained throughout, although a distinction is made between 
the inferior blessing in the immediate future, and the higher 
benediction of the church of God at a more distant period. 
The outpouring of the Spirit of God upon all flesh is followed, 
without any intervening link, by the announcement of the com 
ing of the terrible day of the Lord, as a day of judgment upon 
all nations, including those who have shown themselves hostile 
VOL. I. M 

178 JOEL. 

to Judah, either in Joel s own time or a little while before. 
The nations are gathered together in the valley of Jehoshaphat, 
and there judged by Jehovah through His mighty heroes ; but 
the sons of Israel are delivered and sheltered by their God. 
Here,- again, all the separate judgments, which fall upon the 
nations of the world that are hostile to God, during the many 
centuries of the gradual development of the kingdom of God 
upon earth, are summed up in one grand judicial act on the 
day of Jehovah, through which the separation is completely 
effected between the church of the Lord and its foes, the un 
godly power of the world annihilated, and the kingdom of God 
perfected; but without the slightest hint, that both the judgment 
upon the nations and the glorification of the kingdom of God 
will be fulfilled through a succession of separate judgments. 

The book of Joel, therefore, contains two prophetic ad 
dresses, which are not only connected together as one work by 
the historical remark in ch. ii. 18, 19a, but which stand in the 
closest relation to each other, so far as their contents are con 
cerned, though the one was not delivered to the people directly 
after the other, but the first during the devastation by the 
locusts, to lead the people to observe the judgment of God and 
to assemble together in the temple for a service of penitence and 
prayer ; and the second not till after the priests had appointed a 
day of fasting, penitence, and prayer, in the house of the Lord, 
in consequence of His solemn call to repentance, and in the name 
of the people had prayed to the Lord to pity and spare His 
inheritance. The committal of these addresses to writing did 
not take place, at any rate, till after the destruction of the army 
of the locusts, when the land began to recover from the devas 
tation that it had suffered. But whether Joel committed these 
addresses to writing just as he delivered them to the congrega 
tion, and merely linked them together into one single work by 
introducing the historical remark that unites them, or whether 
he merely inserted in his written work the essential contents of 
several addresses delivered after this divine judgment, and 
worked them up into one connected prophecy, it is impossible 
to decide with certainty. But there is no doubt whatever as to 
the composition of the written work by the prophet himself. 
For the different commentaries upon the book of Joel, see my 
Introduction to the Old Testament. 

CHAP. I. 2. 179 


REPENTANCE. CHAP. i. 2-11,17-. 

An unparalleled devastation of the land of Judah by several 
successive swarms of locusts, which destroyed all the seedlings, 
all field and garden fruits, all plants and trees f and which was 
accompanied by scorching heat, induced the prophet to utter a 
loud lamentation at this unparalleled judgment of God, and an 
earnest call to all classes of the nation to offer; prayer to the 
Lord in the temple, together with fasting, mourning, and weep 
ing, that He might avert the judgment. In the first chapter, 
the lamentation has reference chiefly>tathe ruin of the land 
(ch. i. 2-20) ; , in the second, the judgment is depicted as a fore- 
type and harbinger of the approaching day. of the Lord, which 
the congregation is to anticipate by a day of public fasting, 
repentance, and prayer (ch. ii. 1-17) ;:so that ch. i. describes 
rather the magnitude of the judgment, and ch. ii. 1-17 its 
significance in relation to the covenant nation. 


After an appeal to lay to heart the devastation by swarms of 
locusts, which has fallen upon the land (vers. 2-4), the prophet 
summons the following to utter lamentation over this calamity : 
first the drunkards, who are to awake (vers. 5-7) ; then the 
congregation generally, .which is to mourn with penitence (vers. 
8-12) ; and then the priests, who are to appoint a service of 
repentance (vers. 13-18). For each of these appeals he gives, 
as a reason, a further description of the horrible calamity, cor 
responding to the particular appeal ; and finally, he sums up his 
lamentation in a prayer for the deliverance of the land from 
destruction (vers. 19. 20). 

Ver. 1 contains the heading to. the book, and has already 
been noticed in the introduction. . Ver. 2. " Hear this, ye old 
men ; and attend, all ye inhabitants of the land ! Has such a thing 

180 JOEL. 

indeed happened in your days, or in the days of your fathers f 
Ver. 3. Ye shall tell your sons of it, and your sons their sons, 
and their sons the next generation. Ver. 4. The leavings of the 
gnawer the multiplier ate, and the leavings of the multiplier the 
ticker ate, and the leavings of the licker the devour er ate. 19 Not 
only for the purpose of calling the attention of the hearers to 
his address, but still more to set forth the event of whieh he is 
about to speak as something unheard of a thing that has never 
happened before, and therefore is a judgment inflicted by God 
the prophet commences with the question addressed to the 
old men, whose memory went the furthest back, and to all the 
inhabitants of Judah, whether they had ever experienced any 
thing of the kind, or heard of such a thing from their fathers ; 
and with the command to relate it to their children, and grand 
children, and great-grandchildren. 1 " The inhabitants of the 
land" are the inhabitants of Judah, as it was only with this 
kingdom that Joel was occupied (cf. ver. 14 and ch. ii. 1). nxr 
is the occurrence related in ver. 4, which is represented by the 
question " Has this been in your days?" as a fact just expe 
rienced. Yether haggdzdm, the leavings of the gnawer, i.e. 
whatever the gnawer leaves un consumed of either vegetables or 
plants. The four names given to the locusts, viz. gdzdm, arbeh, 
yeleq, and chdsll, are not the names applied in natural history 
to four distinct species, or four different generations of locusts ; 
nor does Joel describe the swarms of two successive years, so 
that "gdzdm is the migratory locust, which visits Palestine chiefly 
in the autumn, arbeh the young brood, yeleq the young locust 
in the last stage of its transformation, or before changing its 
skin for the fourth time, and chdsll the perfect locust after this 
last change, so that as the brood sprang from the gdzdm, chdsll 
would be equivalent to gdzdm" (Credner). This explanation is 

1 " As he is inquiring concerning the past according to the command 
of Moses in Deut. xxxii. 7, he asks the old men, who have been taught by 
long experience, and are accustomed, whenever they see anything unusual, 
to notice that this is not according to the ordinary course of nature, which 
they have observed for so many years. And since this existing calamity, 
caused by the insects named, has lasted longer and pressed more heavily 
than usual, he admonishes them to carry their memory back to the former 
days, and see whether anything of the kind ever happened naturally before; 
and if no example can be found, the prophet s advice is, that they should 
recognise this as the hand of God from heaven." TARNOV. 

CHAP. I. 2-4. 181 

not only at variance with ch. ii. 25,- where gdzdm stands last, 
after cJidsll, but is founded generally merely upon a false inter 
pretation of Nah. iii. 15, 16 (see the passage) and Jer. li. 27, 
where the adjective sdmdr (Jwrridus, horrible), appended to 
yeleq, from sdmar, to shudder, by no means refers to the rough, 
horny, wing-sheath of the young locusts, and cannot be sus 
tained from the usage of the language. It is impossible to point 
out any difference in usage between gdzdm and chdsll, or 
between these two words and arbeh. The word gdzdm, from 
gdzam, to cut off (in Arabic, Ethiopic, and the Kabb.), occurs 
only in this passage, in ch. ii. 25, and in Amos iv. 9, where it is 
applied to a swarm of flying locusts, which leave the vine, fig- 
tree, and olive, perfectly bare, as it is well known that all locusts 
do, when, as in Amos, the vegetables and field fruits have been 
already destroyed. Arbeh, from rdbhdh, to be many, is the 
common name of the locust, and indeed in all probability of 
the migratory locust, because this always appears in innume 
rable swarms. Chdsil, from chdsal, to eat off, designates the 
locust (kd arbth), according to Deut. xxviii. 38, by its habit of 
eating off the field crops and tree fruits, and is therefore used 
in 1 Kings viii. 37, 2 Chron. vi. 28, Ps. Ixxviii. 46, as synony 
mous with hd arbeh, and in Isa. xxxiii. 4 in its stead. Yeleq, 
from ydlaq = Idqaq, to lick, to lick off, occurs in Ps. cv. 34 
as equivalent to arbeh, and in Nahum as synonymous with it , 
and indeed it there refers expressly to the Egyptian plague 
of locusts, so that young locusts without wings cannot possibly 
be thought of. Haggdzdm the gnawer, hayyeleq the licker, 
heclidsil the devourer, are therefore simply poetical epithets 
applied to the arbeh, which never occur in simple plain prose, 
but are confined to the loftier (rhetorical and poetical) style. 
Moreover, the assumption that Joel is speaking of swarms of 
locusts of two successive years, is neither required by ch. ii. 25 
(see the comm. on this verse), nor reconcilable with the con 
tents of the verse itself. If the arbeh eats what the gdzdm has 
left, and the yeleq what is left by the arbeh, we cannot possibly 
think of the field and garden fruits of two successive years, 
because the fruits of the second year are not the leavings of the 
previous year, but have grown afresh in the year itself. 1 The 

1 Bochart (Hieroz. iii. p. 290, ed. Ros.) has already expressed the same 
opinion. " If," he says, " the different species had been assigned to so 

182 JOEL. 

thought is rather this : one swarm of locusts after another has 
invaded the land, and completely devoured its fruit. The use 
of several different words, and the division of the locusts into 
four successive swarms, of which each devours what has been 
left by its precursor, belong to the rhetorical drapery and indi 
vidualizing of the thought. The only thing that has any real 
significance is the number four, as the four kinds of punish 
ment in Jer. xv. 3, and the four destructive judgments in 
Ezek. xiv. 21, clearly show. The number four, " the stamp of 
cecumenicity" (Kliefoth), indicates here the spread of the judg 
ment over the whole of Judah in all directions. 

Vers. 5-7. In order that Judah may discern in this un 
paralleled calamity a judgment of God, and the warning voice 
of God calling to repentance, the prophet first of all summons 
the wine-bibbers to sober themselves, and observe the visitation 
of God. Yer. 5. " Awake, ye drunken ones, and weep! and 
howl, all ye drinkers of wine ! at the new wine ; for it is cut off 
from your mouth. Ver. 6. For a people has come up over my 
land, a strong one, and innumerable : its teeth are lion s teeth, and 
it has the bite of a lioness. Ver. 7. It has made my vine a 
wilderness, and my fig-tree into sticks. Peeling, it has peeled it 
off, and cast it away : its shoots have grown white." PiP^j to 
awake out of the reeling of intoxication, as in Prov. xxiii. 35. 
They are to howl for the new wine, the fresh sweet juice of the 
grape, because with the destruction of the vines it is taken 
away and destroyed from their mouth. Vers. 6 and 7 an 
nounce through whom. In the expression goi dldh (a people 
has come up) the locusts are represented as a warlike people, 

many different years, the arbeh would not be said to have eaten the 
leavings of the gdzam, or the yeleq the leavings of the arbeh, or the chasll 
the leavings of the yeleq ; for the productions of this year are not the 
leavings of last, nor can what will spring up in future be looked upon as 
the leavings of this. Therefore, whether this plague of locusts was con 
fined to one year, or was repeated for several years, which seems to be the 
true inference from Joel ii. 25, I do not think that the different species of 
locusts are to be assigned to different years respectively, but that they all 
entered Judsea in the same year ; so that when one swarm departed from 
a field, another followed, to eat up the leavings of the previous swarm, if 
there were any ; and that this was repeated as many times as was necessary 
to consume the whole, so that nothing at all should be left to feed either 
man t>r beast." 

CHAP. I. 8-it. 183 

because they devastate the land like a hostile army. Gdi fur 
nishes no support to the allegorical view. In Prov. xxx. 25, 
26, not only are the ants described as a people ( dm), but the 
locusts also; although it is said of them that they have no 
king. And dm is synonymous with goi, which has indeed very 
frequently the idea of that which is hostile, and even here is 
used in this sense ; though it by no means signifies a heathen 
nation, but occurs in Zeph. ii. 9 by the side of dm, as an epithet 
applied to the people of Jehovah (i.e. Israel : see also Gen. xii. 
2). The weapons of this army consist in its teeth, its "bite," 
which grinds in pieces as effectually as the teeth of the lion or 
the bite of the lioness (nfoSmO; see at Job xxix. 17). The suffix 
attached to ^^ does not refer to Jehovah, but to the prophet, 
who speaks in the name of the people, so that it is the land of 
the people of God. And this also applies to the suffixes in *3B| 
and O- 1 ^ in ver. 7. In the description of the devastation 
caused by the army of locusts, the vine and fig-tree are men 
tioned as the noblest productions of the land, which the Lord 
has given to His people for their inheritance (see at Hos. ii. 
14). "^i??, et s KXaa-fJLov, literally, for crushing. The suffix in 
chasdphdh refers, no doubt, simply to the vine as the principal 
object, the fig-tree being mentioned casually in connection with 
it. Chdsaph, to strip, might be understood as referring simply 
to the leaves of the vine (cf . Ps. xxix. 9) ; but what follows 
shows that the gnawing or eating away of the bark is also in 
cluded, ffishlikh, to throw away not merely what is uneatable, 
" that which is not green and contains no sap " (Hitzig), but 
the vine itself, which the locusts have broken when eating off 
its leaves and bark. The branches of the vine have become 
white through the eating off of the bark (sdrlglm, Gen. 
xl. 10). 1 

Vers. 8-12. The whole nation is to mourn over this devas 
tation. Ver. 8. " Lament like a virgin girded with sackcloth for 
the husband of her youth. Ver. 9. The meat-offering and the 
drink-offering are destroyed from the house of Jehovah. The 

1 H. Ludolf, in his Histor. JEthiop. i. c. 13, 16, speaking of the 
locusts, says : " Neither herbs, nor shrubs, nor trees remain unhurt. 
Whatever is either grassy or covered with leaves, is injured, as if it had 
been burnt with fire. Even the bark of trees is nibbled with their teeth, 
so that the injury is not confined to one year alone." 

184 JOEL. 

priests, the servants of Jehovah mourn. Ver. 10. The field is 
laid waste , the ground mourns: for the corn is laid waste: the new 
wine is spoiled, the oil decays. Ver. 11. Turn pale, ye husband 
men ; howl, ye vinedressers, over wheat and barley : for the har 
vest of the field is perished. Ver. 12. The vine is spoiled, and 
the fig-tree faded ; the pomegranate, also the palm and the apple 
tree : all the trees of the field are withered away ; yea, joy has ex 
pired from the children of men" In ver. 8 Judah is addressed 
as the congregation of Jehovah. vtf is the imperative of the 

verb nptfj equivalent to the Syriac ]^, to lament. The verb 

only occurs here. The lamentation of the virgin for the 
? V !OT #?> * the beloved of her youth, her bridegroom, whom 
she has lost by death (Isa. liv. 6), is the deepest and bitterest 
lamentation. With reference to P^THjn, see Delitzsch on Isa. 
iii. 24. The occasion of this deep lamentation, according to 
ver. 9, is the destruction of the meat-offering and drink-offer 
ing from the house of the Lord, over which the servants of 
Jehovah mourn. The meat and drink offerings must of ne 
cessity cease, because the corn, the new wine, and the oil are 
destroyed through the devastation of the field and soil, ffokh- 
rath minchdh does not affirm that the offering of the daily 
morning and evening sacrifice (Ex. xxix. 38-42) for it is to 
this that :)DJ!} nnao chiefly, if not exclusively, refers has 
already ceased ; but simply that any further offering is rendered 
impossible by the failure of meal, wine, and oil. Now Israel 
could not suffer any greater calamity than the suspension of 
the daily sacrifice ; for this was a practical suspension of the 
covenant relation a sign that God had rejected His people. 
Therefore, even in the last siege of Jerusalem by the Romans, 
the sacrificial worship was not suspended till it had been brought 
to the last extremity ; and even then it was for the want of sacri- 
ficers, and not of the material of sacrifice (Josephus, de bell. Jud. 
vi. 2, 1). The reason for this anxiety was the devastation of the 
field and land (ver. 10) ; and this is still further explained by a 
reference to the devastation and destruction of the fruits of the 
ground, viz. the corn, i.e. the corn growing in the field, so that 
the next harvest would be lost, and the new wine and oil, i.e. 
the vines and olive-trees, so that they could bear no grapes for 
new wine, and no olives for oil. The verbs in ver. lla are not 

CHAP. I. 13, U. 185 

perfects, but imperatives, as in the fifth verse. t^2*n has the 
same meaning as bosh, as in Jer. ii. 26, vi. 15, etc., to stand 
ashamed, to turn pale with shame at the disappointment of 
their hope, and is probably written defectively, without i, to 
distinguish it from t^Sin^ the hiphil of fctoj, to be parched or 
dried up (vers. 10 and 12). The hope of the husbandmen was 
disappointed through the destruction of the wheat and barley, 
the most important field crops. The vine-growers had to 
mourn over the destruction of the vine and the choice fruit- 
trees (ver. 12), such as the fig and pomegranate, and even the 
date-palm (gam-tdmdr), which has neither a fresh green rind 
nor tender juicy leaves, and therefore is not easily injured by 
the locusts so as to cause it to dry up ; and tappudch, the 
apple-tree, and all the trees of the field, i.e. all the rest of the 
trees, wither. " All trees, whether fruit-bearing or not, are con 
sumed by the devastating locusts" (Jerome). In the concluding 
clause of ver. 12, the last and principal ground assigned for 
the lamentation is, that joy is taken away arid withered from 
the children of men (hobhish min, constr. prcegn.). S 3 intro 
duces a reason here as elsewhere, though not for the clause 
immediately preceding, but for the 1^2 n and Wy 11 !} in ver. 11, 
the leading thought in both verses ; and we may therefore 
express it by an emphatic yea. 

Vers. 13-20. The affliction is not removed by mourning 
and lamentation, but only through repentance and supplication 
to the Lord, who can turn away all evil. The prophet there 
fore proceeds to call upon the priests to offer to the Lord peni 
tential supplication day and night in the temple, and to call the 
elders and all the people to observe a day of fasting, penitence, 
and prayer ; and then offers supplication himself to the Lord 
to have compassion upon them (ver. 19). From the motive 
assigned for this appeal, we may also see that a terrible drought 
had been associated with the devastation by the locusts, from 
which both man and beast had endured the most bitter suffer 
ing, and that Joel regarded this terrible calamity as a sign of 
the coming of the day of the Lord. Ver. 13. " Gird yourselves, 
and lament, ye priests; howl, ye servants of the altar; come, pass 
the night in sackcloth, ye servants of my God : for the meat-offer 
ing and drink-offering are withdrawn from the house of your God. 
Ver. 14. Sanctify a fast, call out an assembly, assemble the 

186 JOEL 

elders, all ye inhabitants of the land, at the house of Jehovah 
your God, and cry to Jehovah" From what follows we must 
supply bassaqqim (with sackcloth) to chigru (gird yourselves). 
Gird yourselves with mourning apparel, i.e. put it on (see 
ver. 8). In this they are to pass the night, to offer supplica 
tion day and night, or incessantly, standing between the altar 
and the porch (ch. ii. 17). "Servants of my God," i.e. of the 
God whose prophet I am, and from whom I can promise you 
a hearing. The reason assigned for this appeal is the same as 
for the lamentation in ver. 9. But it is not the priests only 
who are to pray incessantly to the Lord ; the elders and all the 
people are to do the same. DiX un\>, to sanctify a fast, i.e. to 
appoint a holy fast, a divine service of prayer connected with 
fasting. To this end the priests are to call an dtsdrdh, i.e. a 
meeting of the congregation for religious worship. Atsdrdh, 
or r dtsereth, Travtfyvpis, is synonymous with B^pp ^i?P in Lev. 
xxiii. 36 (see the exposition of that passage). In what follows, 
n I QB I| ~73 is attached acrvv$eTti)$ to B^t; and the latter is not a 
vocative, but an accusative of the object. On the other hand, 
njrp rpa is an accus. loci, and dependent upon ISDN. pj?t, to cry, 
used of loud and importunate prayer. It is only by this that 
destruction can still be averted. 

Ver. 15. "Alas for the day! for the day of Jehovah is 
near, and it comes like violence from the Almighty." This verse 
does not contain words which the priests are to speak, so that 
we should have to supply "fo&O, like the Syriac and others, 
but words of the prophet himself, with which he justifies the 
appeal in vers. 13 and 14. Di^> is the time of the judgment, 
which has fallen upon the land and people through the de 
vastation by the locusts. This " day" is the beginning of 
the approaching day of Jehovah, which will come like a de 
vastation from the Almighty. Yom Y e hovdh is the great day 
of judgment upon all ungodly powers, when God, as the 
almighty ruler of the world, brings down and destroys every 
thing that has exalted itself against Him ; thus making the 
history of the world, through His rule over all creatures in 
heaven and earth, into a continuous judgment, which will con 
clude at the end of this course of the world with a great and 
universal act of judgment, through which everything that has 
been brought to eternity by the stream of time un judged and 

CHAP. I. 16-18. 187 

unadjusted, will be judged and adjusted once for all, to bring to 
an end the whole development of the world in accordance with 
its divine appointment, and perfect the kingdom of God by the 
annihilation of all its foes. (Compare the magnificent descrip 
tion of this day of the Lord in Isa. ii. 12-21.) And accordingly 
this particular judgment through which Jehovah on the one 
hand chastises His people for their sins, and on the other hand 
destroys the enemies of His kingdom forms one element of the 
day of Jehovah ; and each of these separate judgments is a 
coming of that day, and a sign of His drawing near. This day 
Joel saw in the judgment that came upon Judah in his time, 
k e shod misshaddai, lit. like a devastation from the Almighty, a 
play upon the words (since shod and shaddai both come from 
shddad), which Kiickert renders, though somewhat too freely, 
by wie em Graussen vom grossen Gott. 3 is the so-called 3 
veritatis, expressing a comparison between the individual and its 
genus or its idea. On the relation between this verse and Isa. 
xiii. 6, see the Introduction. 

Ver. 16. " Is not the food destroyed before our eyes, joy and 
exulting from the house of our God? Ver. 17. The grains have 
mouldered under their clods, the storehouses are desolate, the 
barns have fallen down; because the corn is destroyed. Ver. 18. 
How the cattle groan I the herds of oxen are bewildered, for no 
pasture was left for them ; even the flocks of sheep suffer" As 
a proof that the day of the Lord is coming like a devastation 
from the Almighty, the prophet points in ver. 16 to the fact 
that the food is taken away before their eyes, and therewith all 
joy and exulting from the house of God. " The food of the 
sinners perishes before their eyes, since the crops they looked 
for are snatched away from their hands, and the locust antici 
pates the reaper " (Jerome). ^K, food as the means of sus 
tenance ; according to ver. 10, corn, new wine, and oil. The 
joy is thereby taken from the house of Jehovah, inasmuch as, 
when the crops are destroyed, neither first-fruits nor thank- 
offerings can be brought to the sanctuary to be eaten there at 
joyful meals (Deut. xii. 6, 7, xvi. 10, 11). And the calamity 
became all the more lamentable, from the fact that, in conse 
quence of a terrible drought, the seed perished in the earth, and 
consequently the prospect of a crop the following year entirely 
disappeared. The prophet refers to this in ver. 17, which has 

188 JOEL. 

been rendered in extremely different ways by the LXX., 
Chald., and Vulg., on account of the O.TT. \ey. ^SJ, n^?S, and 
nianjp (compare Pococke, ad h. L). SOT signifies to moulder 
away, or, as the injury was caused by dryness and heat, to dry 
up ; it is used here of grains of corn which lose their germinat 
ing power, from the Arabic .^j^, to become dry or withered, 

and the Chaldee >E>y, to get mouldy. P rudoth, in Syriac, 
grains of corn sowed broadcast, probably from pdrad, to scatter 
about. Megrdphoth, according to Ab. Esr., clods of earth 

(compare <__., gleb.a terrce), from gdraph 9 to wash away 

(Judg. v. 21) a detached piece of earth. If the seed-corn 
loses its germinating power beneath the clod, no corn-harvest 
can be looked for. The storehouses (^otsdroth; cf. 2 Chron. 
xxxii. 27) moulder away, and the barns (mamm e gurdh with 
dag. dirim. = mfgurdh in Hag. ii. 19) fall, tumble to pieces, 
because being useless they are not kept in proper condition. 
The drought also deprives the cattle of their pasture, so that 
the herds of oxen and flocks of sheep groan and suffer with 
the rest from the calamity. !)13, niphal, to be bewildered with 
fear. Ashem, to expiate, to suffer the consequences of men s 

The fact, that even irrational creatures suffer along with 
men, impels the prophet to pray for help to the Lord, who 
helps both man and beast (Ps. xxxvi. 7). Ver. 19. " To Thee, 
Jehovah, do I cry : for fire has devoured the pastures of the 
ivilderness, and flame has consumed all the trees of the field. 
Ver. 20. Even the beasts of the field cry unto Thee ; for the 
water-brooks are dried up, and fire has devoured the pastures of 
the wilderness" Fire and flame are the terms used by the 
prophet to denote the burning heat of the drought, which con 
sumes the meadows, and even scorches up the trees. This is 
very obvious from the drying up of the water-brooks (in ver. 
20). For ver. 20a, compare Jer. xiv. 5, 6. In ver. 206 the 
address is rhetorically rounded off by the repetition of EW 
U1 nfo* from ver. 19. 

CHAP. II. 1. 189 


This section does not contain a fresh or second address of 
the prophet, but simply forms the second part of his sermon of 
repentance, in which he repeats with still greater emphasis the 
command already hinted at in ch. i. 14, 15, that there should 
be a meeting of the congregation for humiliation and prayer, 
and assigns the reason in a comprehensive picture of the ap 
proach of Jehovah s great and terrible judgment-day (vers. 
1-11), coupled with the cheering assurance that the Lord will 
still take compassion upon His people, according to His great 
grace, if they will return to Him with all their heart (vers. 
1214) ; and then closes with another summons to the whole 
congregation to assemble for this purpose in the house of the 
Lord, and with instructions how the priests are to pray to the 
Lord (vers. 15-17). 

Vers. 1-11. By blowing the far-sounding horn, the priests 
are to make known to the people the coming of the judgment, 
and to gather them together in the temple to pray. Ver. 1. 
" Blow ye the trumpet upon Zion, and cause it to sound upon my 
holy mountain! All the inhabitants of the land shall tremble ; 
for the day of Jehovah comethj for it is near" That this sum 
mons is addressed to the priests, is evident from ver. 15, com 
pared with ver. 14. On tiqu shophdr and hdrl u, see at Hos. v. 8. 
" Upon Zion," i.e. from the top of the temple mountain. Zion 
is called the holy mountain, as in Ps. ii. 6, because the Lord 
was there enthroned in His sanctuary, on the summit of Moriah, 
which He claimed as His own. Rdgaz, to tremble, i.e. to start 
up from their careless state (Hitzig). On the expression, " for 
the day of Jehovah cometh," see ch. i. 15. By the position 
of fc02 at the head of the sentence, and that in the perfect Nil 
instead of the imperfect, as in ch. i. 15, the coming of the day 
of Jehovah is represented as indisputably certain. The addi 
tion of kl qdrobh (for it is near) cannot be accounted for, how 
ever, from the fact that in the spiritual intuition of the prophet 
this day had already come, whereas in reality it was only 
drawing near (Hengstenberg) ; for such a separation as this 
between one element of prophesying and another is incon- 

190 JOEL. 

ceivable. The explanation is simply, that the day of the Lord 
runs throughout the history of the kingdom of God, so that it 
occurs in each particular judgment ; not, however, as fully 
manifested, but simply as being near or approaching, so far as 
its complete fulfilment is concerned. Joel now proclaims the 
coming of that day in its full completion, on the basis of the 
judgment already experienced, as the approach of a terrible 
army of locusts that darkens the land, at the head of which 
Jehovah is riding in all the majesty of the Judge of the world. 
The description is divided into three strophes thus : he first of 
all depicts the sight of this army of God, as seen afar off, and 
its terrible appearance in general (vers. 2b and 3) ; then the 
appearance and advance of this mighty army (vers. 4-6) ; and 
lastly, its irresistible power (vers. 711) ; and closes the first 
strophe with a figurative description of the devastation caused 
by this terrible army, whilst in the second and third he gives 
prominence to the terror which they cause among all nations, 
and over all the earth. Ver. 2. " A day of darkness and 
obscurity, a day of clouds and cloudy night : like morning dawn 
spread over the mountains, a people great and strong : there has 
not been the like from all eternity, nor will there be after it even 
to the years of generation and generation. Ver. 3. Before it 
burneth fire, and behind it flameth flame : the land before it as the 
garden of Eden, and behind it like a desolate wilderness ; and even 
that which escaped did not remain to it" With four words, ex 
pressing the idea of darkness and obscurity, the day of Jehovah 
is described as a day of the manifestation of judgment. The 
words ^J? Ijy W n are applied in Deut. iv. 11 to the cloudy 
darkness in which Mount Sinai was enveloped, when Jehovah 
came down upon it in the fire ; and in Ex. x. 22, the darkness 
which fell upon Egypt as the ninth plague is called npDN. 
\S\ "in$3 does not belong to what precedes, nor does it mean 
blackness or twilight (as Ewald and some Rabbins suppose), 
but " the morning dawn." The subject to pdrus (spread) is 
neither yom (day), which precedes it, nor r am (people), which 
follows ; for neither of these yields a suitable thought at all. 
The subject is left indefinite : " like morning dawn is it spread 
over the mountains." The prophet s meaning is evident enough 
from what follows. He clearly refers to the bright glimmer or 
splendour which is seen in the sky as a swarm of locusts ap- 

CHAP. II. 2, 3. 191 

preaches, from the reflection of the sun s rays from their wings. 1 
With DWj T] Dy (a people great and strong) we must consider 
the verb N2 (cometh) in ver. 1 as still retaining its force. Yom 
(day) and dm (people) have the same predicate, because the 
army of locusts carries away the day, and makes it into a day 
of cloudy darkness. The darkening of the earth is mentioned 
in connection with the Egyptian plague of locusts in Ex. x. 15, 
and is confirmed by many witnesses (see thecomm. on Ex. I.e.). 
The fire and the flame which go both before and behind the 
great and strong people, viz. the locusts, cannot be understood 
as referring to the brilliant light kindled as it were by the 
morning dawn, which proceeds from the fiery armies of the 
vengeance of God, i.e. the locusts (Umbreit), nor merely to 
the burning heat of the drought by which everything is con 
sumed (ch. i. 19) ; but this burning heat is heightened here 
into devouring flames of fire, which accompany the appearing 
of God as He comes to judgment at the head of His army, after 
the analogy of the fiery phenomena connected with the previous 
manifestations of God, both in Egypt, where a terrible hail fell 
upon the land before the plague of locusts, accompanied by 
thunder and balls of fire (Ex. ix. 23, 24), and also at Sinai, 
upon which the Lord came down amidst thunder and lightning, 
and spoke to the people out of the fire (Ex. xix. 16-18 ; Deut. 
iv. 11, 12). The land, which had previously resembled the 
garden of paradise (Gen. ii. 8), was changed in consequence 
into a desolate wilderness, nB\!?3 does not mean escape or 
deliverance, either here or in Ob. 17, but simply that which has 
run away or escaped. Here it signifies that part of the land 
which has escaped the devastation ; for it is quite contrary to 
the usage of the language to refer ^, as most commentators do, 
to the swarm of locusts, from which there is no escape, no 
deliverance (cf. 2 Sam. xv. 14, Judg. xxi. 17, Ezra ix. 13, in 

1 The following is the account given by the Portuguese monk Francis 
Alvarez, in his Journey through Abyssinia (Oedmann, VermiscTite Samm- 
lungen, vi. p. 75) : " The day before the arrival of the locusts we could 
infer that they were coming, from a yellow reflection in the sky, proceeding 
from their yellow wings. As soon as this light appeared, no one had the 
slightest doubt that an enormous swarm of locusts was approaching." He 
also says, that during his stay in the town of Barua he himself saw this 
phenomenon, and that so vividly, that even the earth had a yellow colour 
from the reflection. The next day a swarm of locusts came. 

192 JOEL. 

all of which 7 refers to the subject, to which the thing that 
escaped was assigned). Consequently ii> can only refer to H. 
The perfect nrpn stands related to Vnntf, according to which 
the swarm of locusts had already completed the devastation. 

In vers. 4-6 we have a description of this mighty army of 
God, and of the alarm caused by its appearance among all 
nations. Ver. 4. "Like the appearance of horses is its appear 
ance ; and like riding-horses, so do they run. Ver. 5. Like 
rumbling of chariots on the tops of the mountains do they leap, 
like the crackling of flame which devours stubble, like a strong 
people equipped for conflict. Ver. 6. Before it nations tremble; all 
faces withdraw their redness" The comparison drawn between 
the appearance of the locusts and that of horses refers chiefly 
to the head, which, when closely examined, bears a strong re 
semblance to the head of a horse, as Theodoret has already 
observed; a fact which gave rise to their being called Heupferde 
(hay-horses) in German. In ver. 4> the rapidity of their 
motion is compared to the running of riding-horses (pdrdshlm) ; 
and in ver. 5 the noise caused by their springing motion to the 
rattling of chariots, the small two-wheeled war-chariots of the 
ancients, when driven rapidly over the rough mountain roads. 
The noise caused by their devouring the plants and shrubs is 
also compared to the burning of a flame over a stubble-field 
that has been set on fire, and their approach to the advance 
of a war force equipped for conflict. (Compare the adoption 
and further expansion of these similes in Rev. ix. 7, 9.) At 
the sight of this terrible army of God the nations tremble, 
so that their faces grow pale. Ammim means neither people 
(see at 1 Kings xxii. 28) nor the tribes of Israel, but nations 
generally. Joel is no doubt depicting something more here 
than the devastation caused by the locusts in his own day. 
There are differences of opinion as to the rendering of the 
second hemistich, which Nahum repeats in ch. ii. 11. The 
combination of in KB with "Via, a pot (Chald., Syr., Jer., Luth., 
and others), is untenable, since "1V1B comes from "HB, to break 
in pieces, whereas "iviNB (= IVINB) is from the root "1KB, piel, 
to adorn, beautify, or glorify ; so that the rendering, " they 
gather redness," i.e. glow with fear, which has an actual but 
not a grammatical support in Isa. xiii. 8, is evidently worthless. 
We therefore understand ")ViKS ; as Ab. Esr., Abul Wai., and 

CHAP. II. 7-9. 193 

others have done, in the sense of elegantia, nitor, pulchritudo, 
and as referring to the splendour or healthy ruddiness of the 
cheeks, and take faj? as an intensive form of Ylfy in the sense 
of drawing into one s self, or withdrawing, inasmuch as fear 
and anguish cause the blood to fly from the face and extremities 
to the inward parts of the body. For the fact of the face 
turning pale with terror, see Jer. xxx. 6. 

In vers. 7-10 the comparison of the army of locusts to a 
well-equipped army is carried out still further ; and, in the 
first place, by a description of the irresistible force of its ad 
vance. Ver. 7. " They run like heroes, like warriors they climb 
the wall; every one goes on its way, and they do not change their 
paths. Ver. 8. And they do not press one another, they go every 
one in his path ; and they fall headlong through weapons, and do 
not cut themselves in pieces. Ver. 9. They run about in the city, 
they run upon the wall, they climb into the houses, they come through 
the windows like a thief? This description applies for the most 
part word for word to the advance of the locusts, as Jerome 
(in loc.) and Theodoret (on ver. 8a) attest from their own obser 
vation. 1 They run like heroes namely, to the assault : fTi 
referring to an attack, as in Job xv. 26 and Ps. xviii. 30, " as 
their nimbleness has already been noticed in ver. 4 " (Hitzig). 
Their climbing the walls also points to an assault. Their irre 
sistible march to the object of their attack is the next point 
described. No one comes in another s way ; they do not twist 

1 Jerome says : " We saw (al. heard) this lately in the province (Pales 
tine). For when the swarms of locusts come and fill the whole atmo 
sphere between the earth and sky, they fly in such order, according to the 
appointment of the commanding God, that they preserve an exact shape, 
just like the squares drawn upon a tesselated pavement, not diverging on 
either side by, so to speak, so much as a finger s breadth. * And, as he 
(the prophet) interprets the metaphor, through the windows they will fall, 
and not be destroyed. 1 For there is no road impassable to locusts ; they 
penetrate into fields, and crops, and trees, and cities, and houses, and even 
the recesses of the bed-chambers." And Theodoret observes on ver. 8a : 
" For you may see the grasshopper like a hostile army ascending the walls, 
and advancing along the roads, and not suffering any difficulty to disperse 
them, but steadily moving forward, as if according to some concerted plan." 
And again, on ver. 9 : " And this we have frequently seen done, not merely 
by hostile armies, but also by locusts, which not only when flying, but 
by creeping along the walls, pass through the windows into the houses 

VOL. I. N 

194 JOEL. 

their path, i.e. do not diverge either to the right hand or 
to the left, so as to hinder one another. Even the force of 
arms cannot stop their advance, npc> is not a missile, telum, 
missile (Ges. and others), but a weapon extended or held in 
front (Hitzig) ; and the word is not only applied to a sword 
(2 Chron. xxiii. 10 ; Neh. iv. 11), but to weapons of defence 
(2 Chron. xxxii. 5). JTC3, not "to wound themselves" (=VB), 
but " to cut in pieces," used here intransitively, to cut them 
selves in pieces. This does no doubt transcend the nature even 
of the locust; but it may be explained on the ground that 
they are represented as an invincible army of God. 1 On the 
other hand, the words of ver. 9 apply, so far as the first half is 
concerned, both to the locusts and to an army (cf. Isa. xxxiii. 
4 ; Nah. ii. 5) ; whereas the second half applies only to the 
former, of which Theodoret relates in the passage quoted just 
now, that he has frequently seen this occur (compare also Ex. 
x. 6). 

The whole universe trembles at this judgment of God. 
Ver. 10. " Before it the earth quakes, the heavens tremble : sun 
and moon have turned black, and the stars have withdrawn their 
shining. Ver. 11. And Jehovah thunders before His army, for 
His camp is very great, for the executor of His word is strong ; 
for the day of Jehovah is great and very terrible, and who can 
endure it?" The remark of Jerome on ver. 10, viz. that " it is 
not that the strength of the locusts is so great that they can move 
the heavens and shake the earth, but that to those who suffer 

1 The notion that these words refer to attempts to drive away the 
locusts by force of arms, in support of which Hitzig appeals to Liv. hist. 
xlii. 10, Plinii hist. n. xi. 29, and Hasselquist, Reise nach Pal. p. 225, is 
altogether inappropriate. All that Livy does is to speak of ingenti agmine 
hominum ad colligendas eas (locustas) coacto; and Pliny merely says, Necare 
et in Syria militari imperio coguntur. And although Hasselquist says, "Both 
in Asia and Europe they sometimes take the field against the locusts with 
all the equipments of war," this statement is decidedly false so far as Europe 
is concerned. In Bessarabia (according to the accounts of eye-witnesses) 
they are merely in the habit of scaring away the swarms of locusts that 
come in clouds, by making a great noise with drums, kettles, hay-forks, 
and other noisy instruments, for the purpose of preventing them from 
settling on the ground, and so driving them further. Hass s account of a 
pasha of Tripoli having sent 4000 soldiers against the insects only a few 
years ago, is far too indefinite to prove that they were driven away by the 
force of arms. 

CHAP. II. 10, 11. 195 

from such calamities, from the amount of their own terror, the 
heavens appear to shake and the earth to reel," is correct enough 
so far as the first part is concerned, but it by no means exhausts 
the force of the words. For, as Hitzig properly observes, the 
earth could only quake because of the locusts when they had 
settled, and the heavens could only tremble and be darkened 
when they were flying, so that the words would in any case be 
very much exaggerated. But it by no means follows from this, 
that VjB^ is not to be taken as referring to the locusts, like V05D 
in ver. 6, but to the coming of Jehovah in a storm, and that it 
is to be understood in this sense : " the earth quakes, the air 
roars at the voice of Jehovah, i.e. at the thunder, and storm- 
clouds darken the day." For although ndthan qolo (shall utter 
His voice) in ver. 11 is to be understood as referring to the 
thunder, Joel is not merely describing a storm, which came when 
the trouble had reached its height and put an end to the plague 
of locusts (Credner, Hitzig, and others). VJB? cannot be taken 
in any other sense than that in which it occurs in ver. 3 ; that is 
to say, it can only refer to " the great people and strong," viz. 
the army of locusts, like V3SO. Heaven and earth tremble at 
the army of locusts, because Jehovah comes with them to judge 
the world (cf. Isa. xiii. 13 ; Nahum i. 5, 6 ; Jer. x. 10). The 
sun and moon become black, i.e. dark, and the stars withdraw 
their brightness (dsaph, withdraw, as in 1 Sam. xiv. 19), i.e. 
they let their light shine no more. That these words affirm 
something infinitely greater than the darkening of the lights of 
heaven by storm-clouds, is evident partly from the predictions 
of the judgment of the wrath of the Lord that is coming upon 
the whole earth, and upon the imperial power (Isa. xiii. 10 ; 
Ezek. xxxii. 7), at which the whole fabric of the universe 
trembles and nature clothes itself in mourning, and partly 
from the adoption of this particular feature by Christ in His 
description of the last judgment (Matt. xxiv. 29 ; Mark xiii. 24, 
25). Compare, on the other hand, the poetical description of a 
storm in Ps. xviii. 8 sqq., where this feature is wanting. (For 
further remarks, see at ch. iii. 4.) At the head of the army 
which is to execute His will, the Lord causes His voice of thun 
der to sound (ndthan qol, to thunder; cf. Ps. xviii. 14, etc.). 
The reason for this is given in three sentences that are intro 
duced by kl. Jehovah does this because His army is very great j 

196 JOEL. 

because this powerful army executes His word, i.e. His com 
mand ; and because the day of judgment is so great and 
terrible, that no one can endure it, i.e. no one can stand before 
the fury of the wrath of the Judge (cf. Jer. x. 10; MaL iii. 1). 
Vers. 12-14. But there is still time to avert the completion 
of the judgment by sincere repentance and mourning; for God 
is merciful, and ready to forgive the penitent. Ver. 12. " Yet 
even now, is the saying of Jehovah, turn ye to me with all your 
heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning. 
Ver, 13. And rend your heart and not your garments, and turn 
back to Jehovah your God ; for He is gracious and merciful, long- 
suffering, and great in kindness, and suffers Himself to repent of 
the evil. Ver. 14. Who knoweth He turns and repents, and leaves 
behind Him blessing, meat-offering and drink-offering for Jehovah 
your God ?" As the plague of locusts was intended to bring the 
people to reflect upon their conduct towards the Lord, so was 
the announcement of the great day of judgment and all its 
terrors made with no other object than to produce repentance 
and conversion, and thereby promote the good of the people of 
God. Joel therefore appends to the threatening of judgment 
a summons to sincere conversion to the Lord ; and this he does 
by first of all addressing the summons to the people as a saying 
of Jehovah (ver. 12), and then explaining this word of God in 
the most emphatic manner (vers. 13, 14). The Lord God 
requires conversion to Himself with all the heart (cf. 1 Sam. 
vii. 3, and Deut. vi. 5 ; and for ^V 3W 9 Hos. xiv. 2), associated 
with deep-rooted penitence on account of sin, which is to be 
outwardly manifested in fasting and mourning. But lest the 
people should content themselves with the outward signs of 
mourning, he proceeds in ver. 13 with the warning admonition, 
" Rend your heart, and not your garments." Rending the heart 
signifies contrition of heart (cf. Ps. li. 19 ; Ezek. xxxvi. 26). 
He then assigns the motive for this demand, by pointing to the 
mercy and grace of God, in the words of Ex. xxxiv. 6, with 
which the Lord made known to Moses His inmost nature, 
except that in the place of riBKI, which we find in this passage, 
he adds, on the ground of the facts recorded in Ezek. xxxii. 14 
and 2 Sam. xxiv. 16, njnn *?y orm. On the strength of these 
facts he hopes, even in the present instance, for forgiveness on 
the part of God, and the removal of the judgment. " Who 

CHAP. II. 15-17. 197 

knoweth ?" equivalent to " perhaps ;" not because " too confi 
dent a hope would have had in it something offensive to Jehovah" 
(Hitzig), but " lest perchance they might either despair on 
account of the magnitude of their crimes, or the greatness of 
the divine clemency might make them careless" (Jerome). 1 

, to turn, sc. from coming to- judgment. BH3 as in ver. 13. 
^^ i ?> to leave behind Him, sc. when He returns to His 
throne in heaven (Hos, v. 15), JPrdkhdh, a blessing, viz. 
harvest-produce for a meat-offering and drink-offering, which 
had been destroyed by the locusts (ch. i. 9, 13). 

Vers. 15-17. To make this admonition still more emphatic, 
the prophet concludes by repeating the appeal for the appoint 
ment of a meeting in the temple for prayer, and even gives the 
litany in which the priests are to offer their supplication. 
Ver. 15. " Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast , proclaim 
a meeting. Ver. 16. Gather the people together, sanctify an as 
sembly, bring together the old men, gather together the children and 
sucklings at the breasts. Let the bridegroom go out of his chamber, 
and the bride out of her room. Ver. 17. Between the porch and 
the altar are the priests, the servants of Jehovah, to weep and 
say, Spare, Jehovah, Thy people, and give not up Thine inheri 
tance to shame, so that the heathen scoff at them. Wherefore 
should men say among the nations, Where is their God?" Ver. 15 
is a literal repetition from ver. 1 and ch. i. 14a; ver. 16 a more 
detailed expansion of ch. i. 14fy in which, first of all, the people 
generally (Qy) are mentioned, and then the object of the sum 
mons explained in the words ?njj Ifc^P, " Call a holy meeting of 
the congregation. * But in order that none may think them 
selves exempt, the people are more precisely defined as old 
men, children, and sucklings. Even the bride and bridegroom 
are to give up the delight of their hearts, and take part in the 
penitential and mournful worship. No age, no rank, is to stay 
away, because no- onej not even the suckling, is free from sin ; 
but all, without exception, are exposed to the judgment. " A 

" He speaks after the manner of a terrified conscience, which is lifted 
up again with difficulty after a season of affliction, and begins to aspire 
after hope and the mercy of God. Moreover, the expression who 
knoweth is a Hebrew phrase, which does not indicate doubt, but rather 
affirmation, coupled with desire, as if we were to say, And yet surely God 
wiii turn again. " LUTHER, Enarrat. in Joelem, Opp., Jena 1703, p. iii. 

198 JOEL. 

stronger proof of the deep and universal guilt of the whole 
nation could not be found, than that on the great day of peni 
tence and prayer, even new-born infants were to be carried 
in their arms" (Umbreit). The penitential supplication of the 
whole nation is to be brought before the Lord by the priests as 
the mediators of the nation. ^^ in ver. 17 is jussive, like N> 1 
in ver. 16, though Hitzig disputes this, but on insufficient 
grounds. The allusion to the priests in the former could only 
be unsuitable, if they were merely commanded to go to the 
temple like the rest of the people. But it is not to this that 
ver. 17 refers, but to the performance of their official duty, 
when the people had assembled for the penitential festival. 
They were to stand between the porch of the temple and the 
altar of burnt-offering, i.e. immediately in front of the door of 
the holy place, and there with tears entreat the Lord, who was 
enthroned in the sanctuary, not to give up the people of His 
possession (iiachaldh as in 1 Kings viii. 51 ; cf. Deut. iv. 20, 
xxxii. 9) to the reproach of being scoffed at by the heathen. 
D^a Dzrppjpp is rendered by Luther and others, " that heathen 
rule over them," after the ancient versions; and Ps. cvi. 41, 
Deut. xv. 6, and Lam. v. 8, might be appealed to in support of 
this rendering. But although grammatically allowable, it is not 
required by the parallelism, as Hengstenberg maintains. For 
even if the reproach of Israel could consist in the fact that they, 
the inheritance of the Lord, were subjected to the government 
of heathen, this thought is very remote from the idea of the 
passage before us, where there is no reference at all in the 
threatening of punishment to subjection to the heathen, but 
simply to the devastation of the land, fete with 3 also signifies 
to utter a proverb (= to scoff) at any one, for which Ezekiel 
indeed makes use of *?VV ty (Ezek. xvii. 2, xviii. 2, and in xii. 
23 and xviii. 3 construed with 3) ; but it is evident that mdsJial 
was sometimes used alone in this sense, from the occurrence of 
mosh llm in Num. xxi. 27 as a term applied to the inventors of 
proverbs, and also of m e shol as a proverb or byword in Job xvii. 
6, whether we take the word as an infinitive or a substantive. 
This meaning, as Marck observes, is rendered probable both by 
the connection with nsnn ? and also by the parallel clause which 
follows, viz. " Wherefore should men among the heathen say," 
etc., more especially if we reflect that Joel had in his mind not 

CHAP. II. 18-111. 21. 199 

Deut. xv. 6, which has nothing in common with the passage 
before us except the verb mdshal, but rather Deut. xxviii. 37, 
where Moses not only threatens the people with transportation 
to another land for their apostasy from the Lord, and that they 
shall become " an astonishment, a proverb (mdsJidl), and a by 
word" among all nations, but (vers. 38, 40-42) also threatens 
them with the devastation of their seed-crops, their vineyards, 
and their olive-grounds by locusts. Compare also 1 Kings ix. 
7, 8, where not only the casting out of Israel among the 
heathen, but even the destruction of the temple, is mentioned 
as the object of ridicule on the part of the heathen ; also the 
combination of nsnr6 and fec6 in Jer. xxiv. 9. But ver. 19 is 
decisive in favour of this view of j Dl hwth. The Lord there 
promises that He will send His people corn, new wine, and oil, 
to their complete satisfaction, and no longer make them a re 
proach among the nations ; so that, according to this, it was not 
subjugation or transportation by heathen foes that gave occa 
sion to the scoffing of the nations at Israel, but the destruction 
of the harvest by the locusts. The saying among the nations, 
"Where is their God ?" is unquestionably a sneer at the cove 
nant relation of Jehovah to Israel ; and to this Jehovah could 
offer no inducement, since the reproach would fall back upon 
Himself. Compare for the fact itself, Ex. xxxii. 12, Mic. vii. 
10, and Ps. cxv. 2. Thus the prayer closes with the strongest 
reason why God should avert the judgment, and one that could 
not die away without effect. 


The promise, which the Lord conveys to His people through 
the prophet in answer to the prayer of the priests, refers to 
the present and the future. In the first part, relating to the 
present and the times immediately following (ch. ii. 19-27), 
they are promised the destruction of the army of locusts, the 
gift of a teacher for righteousness, and the pouring out of a 
plentiful fall of rain for abundant harvests. To this there are 
appended, by means of the formula, " And it shall come to pass 

200 JOEL. 

afterward" (13 ^m* nvn), in ch. ii. 28 (Heb. Bib. iii. 1), the 
promise of a higher blessing through the outpouring of the Spirit 
of God upon all flesh, the judgment upon the nations that are 
hostile to Israel, and the eternal deliverance and benediction 
of the church of God (ch. ii. 28-iii. 21). The blessing which 
the Lord promises for the time just coming, and for the remote 
future, is not a twofold one, so that the outpouring of the 
fertilizing rain and the outpouring of the Spirit of God answer 
to one another on the one hand, and the destruction of the 
army of locusts and that of the army of men on the other, but 
a threefold one, as v. Hofmann has shown, viz. : What the 
raising up of the teacher for righteousness, the destruction of 
the army of locusts, and the return of a fruitful season are to 
the time present, that will the outpouring of the Spirit of God 
upon all flesh, the judgment upon the army of the heathen 
world, and the eternal salvation and glorification of the people 
of God, be in the last times. 


Vers. 18 and 19a contain the historical statement, that in 
consequence of the penitential prayer of the priests, the Lord 
displayed His mercy to His people, and gave them a promise, 
the first part of which follows in vers. 1927. Vers. 18, 19a. 
" Then Jehovah was jealous for His land, and had compassion 
upon His people. And Jehovah answered, and said" The 
grammar requires that we should take the imperfects with Vav 
consec. in these clauses, as statements of what actually occurred. 
The passages in which imperfects with Vav cons, are either 
really or apparently used in a prophetic announcement of the 
future, are of a different kind ; e.g. in ver. 23, where we find 
one in a subordinate clause preceded by perfects. As the verb 
?$W describes the promise which follows, as an answer given by 
Jehovah to His people, we must assume that the priests had 
really offered the penitential and supplicatory prayer to which 
the prophet had summoned them in ver. 17. The circumstance 
that this is not expressly mentioned, neither warrants us in 
rendering the verbs in ver. 17 in the present, and taking them 
as statements of what the priest really did (Hitzig), nor in 

CHAP. II. 19, 20. 201 

changing the historical tenses in vers. 18, 19 into futures. We 
have rather simply to supply the execution of the prophet s com 
mand between vers. 17 and 18. W\? with ?, to be jealous for a 
person, i.e. to show the jealousy of love towards him, as in Ex. 
xxxix. 25, Zech. i. 14 (see at Ex. xx. 5). ten as in Ex. ii. 6, 
1 Sam. xxiii. 21. In the answer from Jehovah which follows, 
the three features in the promise are not given according to 
their chronological order ; but in order to add force to the 
description, we have first of all, in ver. 19, a promise of the 
relief of the distress at which both man and beast had sighed, 
and then, in ver. 20, a promise of the destruction of the de 
vastator ; and it is not till vers. 21-235 that the third feature 
is mentioned in the further development of the promise, viz. the 
teacher for righteousness. Then finally, in vers. 23c-27, the 
fertilizing fall of rain, and the plentiful supply of the fruits of 
the ground that had been destroyed by the locusts, are more 
elaborately described, as the first blessing bestowed upon the 

The promise runs as follows. Ver. 196. " Behold, I send you 
the corn, and the new wine, and the oil, that ye may become satisfied 
therewith; and will no more make you a reproach among the 
nations. Ver. 20. And I will remove the northern one far away 
from you, and drive him into the land of drought and desert ; 
its van into the front sea, and its rear into the hinder sea : and its 
stink will ascend, and its corruption ascend, for it has done great 
things" The Lord promises, first of all, a compensation for the 
injury done by the devastation, and then the destruction of the 
devastation itself, so that it may do no further damage. Ver. 19 
stands related to ch. i. 11. Shdlach, to send : the corn is said 
to be sent instead of given (Hos. ii. 10), because God sends the 
rain which causes the corn to grow. Israel shall no longer be 
a reproach among the nations, " as a poor people, whose God is 
unable to assist it, or has evidently forsaken it" (Ros.). Marck 
and Schmieder have already observed that this promise is related 
to the prayer, that He would not give up His inheritance to the 
reproach of the scoffings of the heathen (ver. 17 : see the comm. 
on this verse), ^texn, the northern one, as an epithet applied 
to the swarm of locusts, furnishes no decisive argument in 
favour of the allegorical interpretation of the plague of locusts. 
For even if locusts generally come to Palestine from the south, 

202 JOEL. 

out of the Arabian desert, the remark made by Jerome, to the 
effect that " the swarms of locusts are more generally brought 
by the south wind than by the north," shows that the rule is not 
without its exceptions. " Locusts come and go with all winds" 
(Oedmann, ii. p. 97). In Arabia, Niebuhr (BescJireib. p. 169) 
saw swarms of locusts come from south, west, north, and east. 
Their home is not confined to the desert of Arabia, but they are 
found in all the sandy deserts, which form the southern boun 
daries of the lands that were, and to some extent still are, the seat 
of cultivation, viz. in the Sahara, the Libyan desert, Arabia, and 
Irak (Credner, p. 285) ; and Niebuhr (I.e.) saw a large tract of 
land, on the road from Mosul to Nisibis, completely covered 
with young locusts. They are also met with in the Syrian 
desert, from which swarms could easily be driven to Palestine 
by a north-east wind, without having to fly across the moun 
tains of Lebanon. Such a swarm as this might be called the 
ts e plwrii, i.e. the northern one, or northerner, even if the north 
was not its true home. For it cannot be philologically proved 
that ts e pJionl can only denote one whose home is in the north. 
Such explanations as the Typhonian, the barbarian, and others, 
which we meet with in Hitzig, Ewald, and Meier, and which 
are obtained by alterations of the text or far-fetched etymolo 
gies, must be rejected as arbitrary. That which came from the 
north shall also be driven away by the north wind, viz. the great 
mass into the dry and desert land, i.e. the desert of Arabia, 
the van into the front (or eastern) sea, i.e. the Dead Sea (Ezek. 
xlvii. 18 ; Zech. xiv. 8), the rear into the hinder (or western) 
sea, i.e. the Mediterranean (cf. Deut. xi. 24). This is, of 
course, not to be understood as signifying that the dispersion 
was to take place in all these three directions at one and the 
same moment, in which case three different winds would blow 
at the same time ; but it is a rhetorical picture of rapid and 
total destruction, which is founded upon the idea that the wind 
rises in the north-west, then turns to the north, and finally to 
the north-east, so that the van of the swarm is driven into the 
eastern sea, the great mass into the southern desert, and the rear 
into the western sea. The explanation given by Hitzig and 
others namely, that pdnlm signifies the eastern border, and 
soph the western border of the swarm, which covered the entire 
breadth of the land, and was driven from north to south cannot 

CHAP. II. 21-23. 203 

be sustained. Joel mentions both the van and the rear after the 
main body, simply because they both meet with the same fate, 
both falling into the sea and perishing there ; whereupon the 
dead bodies are thrown up by the waves upon the shore, where 
their putrefaction fills the air with stench. The perishing of 
locusts in seas and lakes is attested by many authorities. 1 For 
iBtej rhy 9 compare Isa. xxxiv. 3 and Amos iv. 10. njm? is 
air. \ey. ; but the meaning corruption is sustained partly by 
the parallelism, and partly by the Syriac verb, which means to 
be dirty. The army of locusts had deserved this destruction, 
because it had done great things. riVt^p "^n^ to do great 
things, is affirmed of men or other creatures, with the subordi 
nate idea of haughtiness ; so that it not only means he has done 
a mighty thing, accomplished a mighty devastation, but is used 
in the same sense as the German grossthun, viz. to brag or be 
proud of one s strength. It does not follow from this, however, 
that the locusts are simply figurative, and represent hostile 
nations. For however true it may be that sin and punishment 
presuppose accountability (Hengst., Havernick), the conclusion 
drawn from this namely, that they cannot be imputed to irra 
tional creatures is incorrect. The very opposite is taught by 
the Mosaic law, according to which God will punish every act 
of violence done by beasts upon man (Gen. ix. 5), whilst the 
ox which killed a man was commanded to be stoned (Ex. xxi. 

This promise is carried out still further in what follows; 
and Joel summons the earth (ver. 21), the beasts of the field 
(ver. 22), and the sons of Zion (ver. 23) to joy and exulta 
tion at this mighty act of the Lord, by which they have been 
delivered from the threatening destruction. Ver. 21. " Fear 
not, earth ! exult and rejoice : for Jehovah doeth great things ! 
Ver. 22. Fear ye not, beasts of the field ! for the pastures of 

1 Even Pliny says Qi. n. xi. 29), Gregatim sublato vento in maria aut 
stagna decidunt ; and Jerome has the following remarks on this verse : 
u Even in our own times we have seen the land of Judaea covered by 
swarms of locusts, which, as soon as the wind rose, were precipitated into 
the first and latest seas, i.e. the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean. And 
when the shores of both seas were filled with heaps of dead locusts, which 
the waters had thrown up, their corruption and stench became so noxious, 
that even the atmosphere was corrupted, and both man and beasts suffered 
from the consequent pestilence." 

204 JOEL. 

the desert become green, for the tree bears its fruit; fig- tree and 
vine yield their strength. Ver. 23. And ye sons of Zion, exult 
and rejoice in the Lord your God ; for He giveth you the teacher 
for righteousness, and causes to come doivn to you a rain-fall, 
early rain and latter rain, first of all? The soil had suffered 
from the drought connected with the swarms of locusts (ch. 
i. 9) ; the beasts of the field had groaned on account of the 
destruction of all the plants and vegetation of every kind (ch. 
i. 18) ; the men had sighed over the unparalleled calamity that 
had befallen both land and people. The prophet here calls to 
all of them not to fear, but to exult and rejoice, and gives in 
every case an appropriate reason for the call. In that of the 
earth, he introduces the thought that Jehovah had done great 
things had destroyed the foe that did great things ; in that of 
the beasts, he points to the fresh verdure of the pastures, and 
the growth of the fruit upon the trees ; in that of men, he lays 
stress upon a double fact, viz. the gift of a teacher for right 
eousness, and the pouring out of a plentiful rain. In this 
description we have to notice the rhetorical individualizing, 
which forms its peculiar characteristic, and serves to explain 
not only the distinction between the earth, the beasts of the 
field, and the sons of Zion, but the distribution of the divine 
blessings among the different members of the creation that are 
mentioned here. For, so far as the fact itself is concerned, 
the threefold blessing from God benefits all three classes of 
the earthly creation : the rain does good not only to the sons 
of Zion, or to men, but also to animals and to the soil ; and so 
again do the green of the pastures and the fruits of the trees ; 
and lastly, even the ni^j;? " 7^jn not only blesses the earth, 
but also the beasts and men upon it. It is only through over 
looking this rhetorico-poetical distribution, that any one could 
infer from ver. 22&, that because the fruits are mentioned 
here as the ordinary food of animals, in direct contrast to Gen. 
i. 28, 29, where the fruit of the trees is assigned to men for 
food, the beasts of the field signify the heathen. The perfects 
in the explanatory clauses of these three verses are all to be 
taken alike, and not to be rendered in the preterite in ver. 21, 
and in the present in vers. 22 and 23. The perfect is not only 
applied to actions, which the speaker looks upon from his own 
standpoint as actually completed, as having taken place, or as 

CHAP. II. 21-23. 205 

things belonging to the past, but to actions which the will or 
the lively fancy of the speaker regards as being as good as 
completed, in other words, assumes as altogether unconditional 
and certain, and to which in modern languages we should 
apply the present (Ewald, 135, a, etc.). The latter is the 
sense in which it is used here, since the prophet sets forth the 
divine promise as a fact, which is unquestionably certain and 
complete, even though its historical realization has only just 
begun, and extends into the nearer or more remote future. 
The divine act over which the prophet calls upon them to 
rejoice, is not to be restricted to the destruction of those swarms 
of locusts that had at that time invaded Judah, and the revivi 
fication of dying nature, but is an act of God that is being 
constantly repeated whenever the same circumstances occur, or 
whose influence continues as long as this earth lasts ; since it is a 
tangible pledge, that to all eternity, as is stated in vers. 26, 27, 
the people of the Lord will not be put to shame. The " sons 
of Zion" are not merely the inhabitants of Zion itself, but the 
dwellers in the capital are simply mentioned as the representa 
tives of the kingdom of Judah. As the plague of locusts fell 
not upon Jerusalem only, but upon the whole land, the call to 
rejoicing must refer to all the inhabitants of the land (ch. 
i. 2, 14). They are to rejoice in Jehovah, who has proved 
Himself to be their God by the removal of the judgment and 
the bestowal of a fresh blessing. This blessing is twofold in its 
nature. He gives them HJJTO rntorrnx. From time immemo 
rial there has been a diversity of opinion as to the meaning of 
these words. Most of the Rabbins and earlier commentators 
have followed the Chaldee and Vulgate, and taken moreh in 
the sense of " teacher ;" but others, in no small number, have 
taken it in the sense of " early rain," e.g. Ab, Ezra, Kimchi, 
Tanch., Calvin, and most of the Calvinistic and modern com 
mentators. But although moreh is unquestionably used in the 
last clause of this verse in the sense of early rain ; in every 
other instance this is called yoreh (Deut. xi. 14 ; Jer. v. 24) ; 
for Ps. Ixxxiv. 7 cannot be brought into the account since the 
meaning is disputed. Consequently the conjecture is a very 
natural one, that in the last clause of the verse Joel selected 
the form mareh, instead of yoreh, to signify early rain, simply 
on account of the previous occurrence of hammoreh in the sense 

206 JOEL. 

of " teacher," and for the sake of the unison. This rendering 
of hammoreh is not only favoured by the article placed before 
it, since neither moreli = ydreh (early rain), nor the correspond 
ing and tolerably frequent malqosh (latter rain), ever has the 
article, and no reason can be discovered why moreh should be 
defined by the article here if it signified early rain ; but it is 
decisively confirmed by the following word n i^Vp, which is 
quite inapplicable to early rain, since it cannot mean either 
" in just measure," or " at the proper time," or " in becoming 
manner," as ts e ddqdh is only used in the ethical sense of right 
eousness, and is never met with sensu pliysico, neither in 2 Sam. 
xix. 29, Neh. ii. 20, nor in Ps. xxiii. 3 and Lev. xix. 36, where 
moreover pis occurs. For P"TC vayo (in the Psalm) are not 
straight or right ways, but ways of righteousness (spiritual 
ways) ; and although pro Wfcto, pro p3K, are no doubt really 
correct scales and weight-stones, this is simply because they 
correspond to what is ethically right, so that we cannot deduce 
from this the idea of correct measure in the case of the rain. 
Ewald and Umbreit, who both of them recognise the impossi 
bility of proving that ts e ddqdh is used in the physical sense of 
correctness or correct measure, have therefore adopted the 
rendering " rain for justification," or " for righteousness ;" 
Ewald regarding the rain as a sign that they are adopted 
again into the righteousness of God, whilst Umbreit takes it as 
a manifestation of eternal righteousness in the flowing stream 
of fertilizing grace. But apart from the question, whether 
these thoughts are in accordance with the doctrine of Scrip 
ture, they are by no means applicable here, where the people 
have neither doubted the revelation of the righteousness of 
God, nor prayed to God for justification, but have rather ap 
pealed to the compassion and grace of God in the conscious 
ness of their sin and guilt, and prayed to be spared and 
rescued from destruction (vers. 13, 17). By the " teacher for 
righteousness," we are to understand neither the prophet Joel 
only (v. Hofmann), nor the Messiah directly (Abarbanel), nor 
the ideal teacher or collective body of messengers from God 
(Hengstenberg), although there is some truth at the foundation 
of all these suppositions. The direct or exclusive reference 
to the Messiah is at variance with the context, since all the ex 
planatory clauses in vers. 21-23 treat of blessings or gifts of 

CHAP. II. 21-23. 207 

God, which were bestowed at any rate partially at that particular 
time. Moreover, in ver. 23, the sending of the rain-fall is repre 
sented by Tn*l (imperf. c. Vav cons.), if not as the consequence 
of the sending of the teacher for righteousness, at any rate 
as a contemporaneous event. These circumstances apparently 
favour the application of the expression to the prophet Joel. 
Nevertheless, it is by no means probable that Joel describes 
himself directly as the teacher for righteousness, or speaks of 
his being sent to the people as the object of exultation. No 
doubt he had induced the people to turn to the Lord, and to 
offer penitential supplication for His mercy through his call to 
repentance, and thereby effected the consequent return of rain 
and fruitful seasons ; but his address and summons would 
not have had this result, if the people had not been already 
instructed by Moses, by the priests, and by other prophets before 
himself, concerning the ways of the Lord. All of these were 
teachers for righteousness, and are included under hammoreh. 
Still we must not stop at them. As the blessings of grace, at 
the reception of which the people were to rejoice, did not 
merely consist, as we have just observed, in the blessings which 
came to it at that time, or in Joel s days, but also embraced 
those which were continually bestowed upon it by the Lord ; 
we must not exclude the reference to the Messiah, to whom 
Moses had already pointed as the prophet whom the Lord 
would raise up unto them, and to whom they were to hearken 
(Deut. xviii. 18, 19), but must rather regard the sending of 
the Messiah as the final fulfilment of this promise. This view 
answers to the context, if we simply notice that Joel mentions 
here both the spiritual and material blessings which the Lord 
is conveying to His people, and then in what follows expounds 
the material blessings still further in vers. 23c-27, and the 
spiritual blessings in vers. 28-32 and ch. iii. They are both of 
them consequences of the gift of the teacher for righteousness. 
Hence the expansion of the earthly saving gifts is attached by 
Tn s ! with Vav cons. Joel mentions first of all gesliem, a rain-fall, 
or plentiful rain for the fertilizing of the soil, and then defines 
it more exactly as early rain, which fell in the autumn at the 
sowing time and promoted the germination and growth of the 
seed, and latter rain, which occurred in the spring shortly 
before the time of harvest and brought the crops to maturity 

208 JOEL. 

(see at Lev. xxvi. 3). fl^K"!?, in the beginning, i.e. first (=r 
in Gen. xxxiii. 2, just as |it?fcO3 is used in Lev. ix. 15 for 
nytfara in Num. x. 13), not in the first month (Chald., etc.), 
or in the place of n:b>&rQ3 ? as before (LXX., Vulg., and others). 
For jiPaqa corresponds to I5"^nx in ver. 28 (Heb. iii. 1), as 
Ewald, Meier, and Hengstenberg admit. First of all the pour 
ing out of a plentiful rain (an individualizing expression for all 
kinds of earthly blessings, chosen here with reference to the 
opposite of blessing occasioned by the drought) ; and after that, 
the pouring out of the spiritual blessing (ch. ii. 28-iii. 21). 

Vers. 24-27. Effects of the rain. Ver. 24. "And the barns 
become full of corn, and the vats flow over with new wine and oil. 
Ver. 25. And I repay to you the years which the locust has eaten, 
the licker, and the devourer, and the gnawer, my great army which 
I sent among you. Ver. 26. And ye will eat, eat and be satisfied, 
and praise the name of Jehovah your God, who hath done 
wondrously with you ; and my people shall not be put to shame to 
all eternity. Ver. 27. And ye will know that I am in the midst 
of Israel, and 1 (am) Jehovah your God, and none else, and my 
people shall not be put to shame to all eternity" Ver. 24 is 
practically the same as ver. 19a, and the counterpart to ch. i. 
10-12. P^n from plP, to run, hiphil only here and ch. iv. 13, 
to run over, to overflow ; pilel, Ps. Ixv. 10, shoqeq, to cause to 
overflow. E^i?"!, the vats of the wine-presses, into which the 
wine flows when trodden out ; here it also applies to the vats 
of the oil-presses, into which the oil ran as it was pressed out. 
Through these bountiful harvests God would repay to the 
people the years, i.e. the produce of the years, which the 
locusts ate. The plural, shdnlm, furnishes no certain proof 
that Joel referred in ch. i. to swarms of locusts of several suc 
cessive years ; but is used either with indefinite generality, as 
in Gen. xxi. 7, or with a distinct significance, viz. as a poetical 
expression denoting the greatness and violence of the devasta 
tion. On the different names of the locusts, see at ch. i. 4. 
It is to be observed here that the copula stands before the last 
two names, but not before yeleq, so that the last three names 
belong to one another as co-ordinates (Hitzig), i.e. they are 
merely different epithets used for arbeh, the locusts. Ver. 26. 
On the reception of these benefits the people will praise the 
Lord, who has shown it such wondrous grace, lit. has acted 

CHAP. II. 28, 29. 209 

towards it even to the doing of wonders. Ver. 27. They will 
learn thereby that Jehovah is present among His people, and 
the only true God, who does not suffer His people to be put to 
shame. The repetition of W *$3* t&), by which the promised 
grace is guaranteed to the people for all ages, serves as a 
rhetorical rounding off of the section (see at ch. ii. 20). 


These three distinct features in the higher blessing set 
before the congregation of the Lord are practically connected 
very closely together : inasmuch as, with the outpouring of the 
Spirit of God upon all flesh, the judgment breaks upon the 
ungodly world ; and with the judgment not only does the rescue 
of the true worshippers of God ensue, but the sanctification and 
glorification of the kingdom of God begin. Consequently we 
do not find these three features kept rigidly separate in the 
prophetic announcement ; but just as in ch. ii. 28-32 (ch. iii. 
according to the ordinary division of the chapters) the signs of 
the dawning of the judgment are appended to the outpouring 
of the Spirit of God, so in ch. iii. (Heb. etc. ch. iv.) the de 
scription of the judgment is framed as it were in the prediction 
of the restoration of Judah (ver. 1), and of the salvation and 
transfiguration of Zion (vers. 16, 17); and in vers. 18-21 the 
eternal glorification of the kingdom of God is interwoven, by 
way of contrast, into the lasting devastation of the power of the 

Vers. 28-32 (Heb. ch. iii.). OUTPOURING OF THE SPIRIT 
" And it will come to pass afterwards, I will pour out my Spirit 
upon all flesh ; and your sons and your daughters will prophesy, 
your old men will dream dreams, and your young men see visions. 
Ver. 29. And also upon the men-servants and maid-servants I will 
put out my Spirit in those days. 1 As achare-khen points back to 

1 Among other special expositions of these verses, see Hengsteiiberg a 
Christology, vol. i. p. 326 sqq. translation. 

VOL. I. ^ O 

210 JOEL. 

bdrislwn in ver. 23, the formula tfhayali achfire-khen describes 
the outpouring of the Spirit as a second and later consequence 
of the gift of the teacher for righteousness. "H?^, to pour out, 
signifies communication in rich abundance, like a rain-fall or 
water-fall. For the communication of the Spirit of God was not 
entirely wanting to the covenant nation from the very first. In 
fact, the Spirit of God was the only inward bond between the 
Lord and His people ; but it was confined to the few whom God 
endowed as prophets with the gift of His Spirit. This limita 
tion was to cease in the future. 1 What Moses expressed as a 
wish namely, that the people were all prophets, and the Lord 
would put His Spirit upon them (Num. xi. 29) was to be ful 
filled in the future. Rudch Y hovdh is not the first principle 
of the physico-creaturely life (i.e. not equivalent to rudch 
Elohlm in Gen. i. 2), but that of the spiritual or ethical and 
religious life of man, which filled the prophets under the Old 
Testament as a spirit of prophecy ; consequently Joel describes 
its operations under this form. "All flesh" signifies all men. 
The idea that it embraces the irrational animals, even the 
locusts (Credner), is rejected with perfect justice by Hitzig as 
an inconceivable thought, and one unheard-of in the Bible ; 
but he is wrong in adding that the Old Testament does not 
teach a communication of the Spirit of God to all men, but 
limits it to the people of Israel. A decided protest is entered 
against this by Gen. vi. 3, where Jehovah threatens that He 
will no longer let His Spirit rule bad-Jam, i.e. in the human 
race, because it has become bdsdr (flesh). Bdsdr, as contrasted 
with rudch Y hdcdh, always denotes human nature regarded 
as incapacitated for spiritual and divine life. Even in this 
verse we must not restrict the expression " all flesh " to the 
members of the covenant nation, as most of the commentators 
have done ; for whatever truth there may be in the remark 

1 " There is no doubt that the prophet promises something greater here 
than the fathers had experienced under the law. We know that the grace 
of the Holy Spirit flourished even among the ancient people; but the 
prophet promises here not what the faithful had formerly experienced, but 
something greater. And this maybe gathered from the verb to pour 1 
which he employs. For TJDK> does not mean merely to give in drops, but 
to pour out in great abundance. But God did not pour out the Holy Spirit 
*o abundantly or copiously under the law, as He has since the manifesta 
tion of Christ." CALVIN. 

CHAP: ID 28, 29. 211 

made by Calovius and others (compare Hengstenberg, Ghriatol. 
i. p. 328 transl.), that the following clause, "your sons,. your 
daughters, your old men, your young men, and men-servants 
and maid-servants," contains a specification of "1BP2T73, it. by 110 
means follows with certainty from this, that the word all does 
not do away with the limitation to one particular nation, but 
merely that in this one nation even the limits of sex,- age^ and 
rank are abolished ; since it cannot be proved that the specifi 
cation in vers. 2 and 3 is intended to exhaust the idea of 
"all flesh." Moreover, as the prophecy of Joel had respect 
primarily to Judah, Joel may primarily have brought into pro 
minence, and specially singled out of the general idea, of kol- 
bdsdr in vers. 28 and 29, only those points that were of import 
ance to his contemporaries, viz. that all the members -of the 
covenant nation would participate in this outpouring of the 
Spirit, without regard to sex, age, or rank ; and in so doing, he 
may have looked away from the idea of the entire human race, 
including all nations, which is involved in the expression " all 
flesh." We shall see from ver. 32 that this last thought was 
not a strange one to the prophet. In the specification of the 
communication of the Spirit, the different forms which it 
assumes are rhetorically distributed as follows : to the sons and 
daughters, prophesying is attributed; to the old, dreams; to 
the young, sights or visions. But it by no means, follows from 
this, that each of these was peculiar to the rage mentioned. 
For the assertion, that the Spirit of God only manifests itself 
in the weakened mind of the old man- by dreams and visions of 
the night; that the vigorous and lively fancy .of the youth or 
man has sights by day, or true visions ; and lastly, that in the 
soul of the child the Spirit merely works as furor. sacer (Tychs., 
Credner, Hitzig, and others), .cannot be historically sustained. 
According to Num. xii. 6^ visions and dreams- are the two 
forms of the prophetic revelation of God ; ; and N33 is the most 
general manifestation of the prophetic gift, which must not be 
restricted to the ecstatic state associated with prophesying. 
The meaning of this rhetorical individualizing^ .is simply that 
their sons, daughters, .old persons, and youths^ would receive the 
Spirit of God with all its gifts. The outpouring of the Spirit 
upon slaves (men-servants and maidens) is- connected by v gam, 
as being something very extraordinary, and under existing cir- 

2212 JOEL. 

>cums1>ances not to be expected. Not a single case occurs in 
the whole of the Old Testament of a slave receiving the gift of 
iprophecy.. Amos, indeed, was a poor shepherd servant, but not 
an actual slave. And the communication of this gift to slaves 
was irreconcilable with the position of slaves under the Old 
Testament. Consequently even the Jewish expositors could 
not reconcile themselves to this announcement. The LXX., 
by rendering it 7rl TOU? SovXovs JJLOV /cal eVt ra? SouXa? /JLOV, 
have put -servants of God in the place of the slaves of men ; 
and the Pharisees refused to the o^Xo? even a knowledge of 
the law (John vii. 49). The gospel has therefore also broken 
the fetters -of -slavery. 

Judgment upon all nations goes side by side with the out 
pouring of -the Spirit of God. Ver. 30. " And I give wonders 
in the heavens and on earth, blood, fire, and pillars of smoke. 
Ver. 31. The sun will turn into darkness, and the moon into 
Hood, before the day of Jehovah, the great and terrible (day], 
comes. Ver. 32. And it comes to pass, every one who shall 
call upon the name of Jehovah will be saved; for on Mount Zion 
and in .Jerusalem will be fugitives, as Jehovah hath said, and 
among those that are left will be those whom Jehovah calls" 
With the word ^n^, ver. 3 is attached to ver. 2 as a simple 
continuation (Hitzig). The wonders which God will give in 
the heavens and upon earth are the forerunners of judgment. 
Moph thlm (see at Ex. iv. 21) are extraordinary and marvellous 
natural phenomena. The wonders on earth are mentioned first, 
in ver, 306; then in ver. 31 those in the heavens. Blood and fire 
recal to mind the plagues which fell upon Egypt as signs of the 
judgment : the blood, the changing of the water of the Nile into 
blood (Ex. vii. 17) ; the fire, the balls of fire which fell to the 
earth along with the hail (Ex. ix. 24). Blood and fire point to 
bloodshed and war. Timrdth dshdn signifies cloud-pillars (here 
and in Song of Sol. iii. 6), whether we regard the form timroth 
as original, and trace it to timrdh and the root tdmar, or prefer 
the reading nii?p <i ri > which we meet with in many codices and 
editions, and take the word as a derivative of yamar mur, 
as Hengstenberg does (Christol. i. p. 334 transl.). This sign 
has its type in the descent of Jehovah upon Sinai, at which the 
whole mountain smoked, and its smoke ascended like the smoke 
of a smelting-furnace (Ex. xix. 18). We have not to think, 

CHAP. II. 30-32. 213 

therefore, of columns of cloud ascending from basons of fire, 
carried in front of caravans or armies on the march to show the 
way (see at Song of Sol. iii. 6), but of pillars of cloud, which 
roll up from burning towns in time of war (Isa. ix. 17). Ver. 31 . 
In the heavens the sun is darkened, and the moon assumes a dull, 
blood-red appearance. These signs also have their type in the 
Egyptian plague of darkness (Ex. x. 21 sqq.). The darkening 
and extinction of the lights of heaven are frequently mentioned, 
either as harbingers of approaching judgment, or as signs of 
the breaking of the day of judgment (it was so in ch. ii. 2, 10, 
and is so again in ch. iii. 14 : see also Isa. xiii. 10, xxxiv. 4 ; 
Jer. iv. 23 ; Ezek. xxxii. 1-8 ; Amos viii. 9 ; Matt. xxiv. 29 ; 
Mark xiii. 24 ; Luke xxi. 25). What we have to think of here, 
is not so much periodically returning phenomena of nature, or 
eclipses of the sun and moon, as extraordinary (not ecliptic) 
obscurations of the sun and moon, such as frequently occur as 
accompaniments to great catastrophes in human history. 1 And 
these earthly and celestial phenomena are forerunners and signs 
of the approaching or bursting judgment ; not only so far as 
subjective faith is concerned, from the impression which is made 
upon the human mind by rare and terrible phenomena of nature, 
exciting a feeling of anxious expectation as to the things that 
are about to happen, 2 but also in their real connection with the 
onward progress of humanity towards its divinely appointed 
goal, which may be explained from the calling of man to be the 

1 Compare 0. Zoeckler, Theologia Natural, i. p. 420, where reference 
is made to Humboldt (Kosmos, iii. 413-17), who cites no fewer than 
seventeen extraordinary cases of obscuration of the sun from the historical 
tradition of past ages, which were occasioned, not by the moon, but by 
totally different circumstances, such as diminished intensity in the photo 
sphere, unusually large spots in the sun, extraneous admixtures in our own 
atmosphere, such as trade- wind dust, inky rain, sand rain, etc.; and many 
of which took place in most eventful years, such as 45 B.C., A.D. 29 (the 
year of the Redeemer s death), 358, 360, etc. 

2 Calvin has taken too one-sided and subjective a view of the matter, 
when he gives the following explanation of ver. 31 : " What is said here of 
the sun and moon namely, that the sun will be turned into darkness, 
and the moon into blood is metaphorical, and signifies that the Lord 
will fill the whole universe with signs of His wrath, which will para 
lyze men with fear, as if all nature were changed into a thing of horror. 
For just as the sun and moon are witnesses of the paternal favour of God 
towards us, while they give light in their turns to the earth, so, on the 

21 Ir JOEL. 

lord of the earth, though it has not yet received from science 
its due recognition and weight; in accordance with which con 
nection, they show " that the eternal motion of the heavenly 
worlds is also appointed by the world-governing righteousness 
of God; so that the continued secret operation of this peculiar 
quality manifests itself through a strong cosmico-uranian sym 
bolism, in facts of singular historical significance" (Zoeckler, 
I. c.). For ver. 31>, see at ch. ii. -1, 11. But it is only by the 
world and its children that the terrible day of the Lord is to be 
feared ; to the children of God it brings redemption (Luke xxi. 
28). Whoever calls upon the name of Jehovah, i.e. the believ 
ing worshippers of the Lord, will be exempted from the judg 
ment. " Calling upon .the name of Jehovah" signifies not only 
the public worship of God, but inward worship also, in which 
Hie confession of the mouth is also an expression of the heart. 
Upon Mount Zion will be p e lvtdh, z>. not deliverance, but that 
which has escaped, or, in a collective sense, those who have 
escaped the judgment, as -the synonym s e rldlm, which follows, 
clearly shows. Mount Zion and Jerusalem are not mentioned 
here as the capital of the kingdom of Judah, but, according to 
their spiritual significance, as the place where the Lord was 
enthroned in the sanctuary in the midst of His people ; that is 
to say, as the central spot of the kingdom of God. Conse 
quently it is not " to the whole nation of Judah as such that 
deliverance is promised, on the assumption that in those times 
of distress the population of the land would have streamed to 

other hand, the prophet affirms that they will be the heralds of an angry 
and offended God. ... By the darkness of the sun, the turning of the moon 
into blood, and the black vapour of smoke, the prophet meant to express 
the thought, that wherever men turned their eyes, everywhere, both above 
*nd below, many things would meet the eye that would fill them with 
terror. So that it is just as if he had said, that there had never been 
such a state of misery in the world, nor so many fierce signs of the wrath 
of God." For example, the assertion that they " are metaphorical ex 
pressions" cannot possibly be sustained, but is at variance with the scrip 
tural view of the deep inward connection between heaven and earth, and 
more particularly with the scriptural teaching, that with the last judgment 
the present heavens and present earth will perish, and the creation of a 
new heaven and new earth will ensue. Moreover, the circumstance that a 
belief in the significance of these natural phenomena is met with in all 
nations, favours their real (not merely imaginary) connection with tho 
destinies of humanity. 

CHAP. II. 30-32. 215 

Jerusalem" (Hitzig), but only to those who call upon the name 
of the Lord, i.e. to the true worshippers of God, upon whom the 
Spirit of God is poured out. The words " 1DK "B>K3 are not 
synonymous with " DW or 7SR " ^3 (ch. iv. 8 ; Isa. i. 20, xl. 5, 
etc.), but point to a prophetic word already known, viz. to 
Ob. 17, where the saying of the Lord, that in the midst of the 
judgment there would be rescued ones upon Mount Zion, 
occurs word for word. DH^jfeQ* also depends upon rvnn . . . S : 
" and among those that remain will be those whom Jehovah 
calls." Sand is one who is left after a judgment or a battle ; 
hence in Jer. xlii. 17 and Josh. viii. 22 it is connected with 
pdllt (one who has escaped from destruction), so that here s e rldlm 
and p e letdh are actually alike, the s e ridlm being just the escaped 
ones upon Mount Zion. Through this clause there is appended 
to what precedes the fresh definition, that among the saved will 
be found those whom the Lord calls. These may either be the 
believing portion of Judah, or believers from among the heathen. 
If we adopted the first view, the sentence would simply contain 
a more precise definition of the thought, that none are saved but 
those who call upon the name of the Lord, and therefore would 
preclude the possibility of including all the inhabitants of Judah 
among those who call upon the Lord. If we took the second 
view, the sentence would add this new feature to the thought 
contained in the first hemistich, that not only citizens of Jeru 
salem and Judah would be saved in the time of judgment, but 
all who called upon the Lord out of every nation. The latter 
view deserves the preference, because the expression " DO &op 
did not need a more precise definition. The salvation of be 
lievers from the heathen world is implied in the first half of the 
verse, since it is simply connected with calling upon the name 
of the Lord. The Apostle Paul has quoted it in this sense in 
Rom. x. 13, as a proof of the participation of the heathen in the 
Messianic salvation. 

If we proceed now to seek for the fulfilment of this 
prophecy, the Apostle Peter quoted the whole of these verses 
(28-32), with the exception of ver. 326, after the outpouring 
of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples, on the first Whitsuntide 
feast of the apostolical church, as having been fulfilled by that 
Whitsuntide miracle (Acts ii. 17-21) ; and in his subsequent 
reference to this fulfilment in ch. ii. 39, " For the promise is 

216 JOEL. 

unto you and to your children, and to all that are afar off, 
even as many as the Lord our God shall call," he even adds 
the closing words of Joel (ver. 326). 1 Consequently the Chris 
tian church from time immemorial has recognised in the miracle 
of Pentecost the outpouring of the Spirit of God predicted in 
vers. 1, 2 : 2 so that the only point upon which there has been a 
division of opinion has been, whether the fulfilment is to be 
confined to the feast of Pentecost (as nearly all the fathers and 
earlier Lutheran commentators suppose) ; or is to be sought for 
in certain events of Joel s own time, as well as the first feast 
of Pentecost (Ephr. Syr., Grot., and others); or, lastly, whether 
the occurrence at the first feast of Pentecost is to be regarded 
as simply the beginning of the fulfilment which has continued 
throughout the whole of the Christian era (Calov., Hengsten- 
berg, and many others). Even the Rabbins, with the exception 
of R. Mose hakkoJien in Aben Ezra, who sees only a reference 
to some event in Joel s own time, expect the fulfilment to take 
place in the future on the advent of the Messiah (Yarchi, 
Kimchi, Abarb.). Of the three views expressed by Christian 
commentators, the third is the only one that answers to the 
nature of the prophecy as correctly interpreted. The outpour 
ing of the Spirit of God, or the communication of it in all its 
fulness to the covenant nation, without any limitation what 
ever, is a standing mark with the prophets of the Messianic 
times (compare Isa. xxxii. 15 with xi. 9 and liv. 13) or new 
covenant (Jer. xxxi. 33, 34 ; Ezek. xxxvi. 26 sqq. ; Zech. xii. 
10). And even if the way was opened and prepared for this 
by the prophetic endowment of particular members of the old 

1 In quoting this passage Peter follows the LXX. on the whole, even 
in their deviations from the original text. viz. in UTTO TQV mwfMtrtf pw 
instead of inVJ (vers. 28, 29), in the addition of ftov to ITH TQV? So^Aot/f 
and 5ot^f (ver. 296), in eiriipoivvi for jofa (ver. 4), because these differences 
were of no consequence, so far as his object was concerned. On the other 
hand, he has interpreted xotl l<not.i f&troi rxvroc. (p *nntf JVrfl) by KXI tarott 
\v rcii; l<7%aTst/? ^^gjooc/f, and added for the same purpose, "htysi 6 eo$. 
He has also transposed the two clauses xoci ol TpfaflvTepot . . . and x,l ol 
v!ti<7xot, probably simply for the purpose of letting the youths follow the 
sons and daughters, and placing the old men hi the third row ; and lastly, 
he has added oLvu to tv TU ovpetvu . . . , and xdtT&> to eiri TVJS yij?, to give 
greater prominence to the antithesis. 

* See Hengstenberg, Christol i. pp. 345, 346, translation. 

CHAP. II 30-32. 217 

covenant, these sporadic communications of the Spirit of God 
in the Old Testament times cannot be regarded as the first 
steps in the fulfilment of our prophecy, since they were not 
outpourings of the Spirit of God. This first took place when 
Christ Jesus the Son of God had completed the work of re 
demption, i.e. on the first feast of Pentecost after the resurrec 
tion and ascension of Christ. Previous to this the words of 
John vii. 39 applied : OVTTCO fy irvev/jba ayiov, on o Irjaovs 
ovSeirco eoogdo-Orj. The reference in this prophecy to the 
founding of the new covenant, or Christian church, is also 
evident from the words, " And it shall come to pass afterwards," 
for which Peter substituted, " And it shall come to pass in the 
last days," interpreting p nntf, the use of which was occasioned 
by the retrospective reference to l^ fcOS in ch. ii. 23, with perfect 
correctness so far as the fact was concerned, by the formula 
answering to D Wl JVinND, viz. ev rals ear^ara^ r^/mepai^ which 
always denotes the Messianic future, or times of the completion 
of the kingdom of God. And just as aclidre khen precludes 
any reference to an event in Joel s own time, so does ev rat? 
eV^arafc<? r^^epai^ preclude any fulfilment whatever in the times 
before Christ. But however certain it may be that the fulfil 
ment first took place at the first Christian feast of Pentecost, 
we must not stop at this one pentecostal miracle. The address 
of the Apostle Peter by no means requires this limitation, but 
rather contains distinct indications that Peter himself saw 
nothing more therein than the commencement of the fulfil 
ment, " but a commencement, indeed, which embraced the 
ultimate fulfilment, as the germ enfolds the tree." We see 
this in ver. 38, where he exhorts his hearers to repent and be 
baptized, and adds the promise, " and ye shall receive the gift 
of the Holy Ghost;" and again in ver. 39, where he observes, 
" The promise belongs to you and to your children, and to all 
that are afar off (rot? efc paicpdv), as many as the Lord our 
God will call." For if not only the children of the apostle s con 
temporaries, but also those that were afar off i.e. not foreign 
Jews, but the far-off heathen were to participate in the gift 
of the Holy Spirit, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit which 
commenced at Pentecost must continue as long as the Lord 
shall receive into His kingdom those who are still standing afar 
off, i.e. until the fulness of the Gentiles shall have entered the 

218 JOLL. 

kingdom of God. See Hengstenberg, Christology, i. pp. 326 
sqq. transl., where further reasons are adduced for taking this 
to be the allusion in the prophecy. 

There is far greater diversity in the opinions entertained as 
to the fulfilment of vers. 30-32 : some thinking of the destruc 
tion of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans (Grotius, Turretius, and 
the Socinians) ; others of judgments upon the enemies of the 
covenant nation shortly after the return from the Babylonian 
exile (Ephr. Syr. and others) ; others, again, of the last judg 
ment (Tertull., Theod., Cms.), or the destruction of Jerusalem 
and the last judgment (Chrys.). Of all these views, those 
which refer to events occurring before the Christian era are 
irreconcilable with the context, according to which the day of 
the Lord will come after the outpouring of the Spirit of God. 
Even the wonders connected with the death of Christ and the 
outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles, of which some 
have thought, cannot properly be taken into account, although 
the marvellous phenomena occurring at the death of Christ 
the darkening of the sun, the shaking of the earth, and the 
rending of the rocks were harbingers of the approaching 
judgment, and were recognised by the o^Xoi? as warnings to 
repent, and so escape from the judgment (Matt, xxvii. 45, 51 ; 
Luke xxiii. 44, 48). For the signs in heaven and earth that 
are mentioned in vers. 30 and 31 were to take place before the 
coming of the terrible day of the Lord, which would dawn after 
the outpouring of the Spirit of God upon all flesh, and which 
came, as history teaches, upon the Jewish nation that had 
rejected its Saviour on the destruction of Jerusalem by the 
Romans, and upon the Gentile world-power in the destruction 
of the Roman empire, and from that time forward breaks in 
constant succession upon one Gentile nation after another, 
until all the ungodly powers of this world shall be overthrown 
(cf. ch. iii. 2). On account of this internal connection between 
the day of Jehovah and the outpouring of the Spirit upon the 
church of the Lord, Peter also quoted vers. 30-32 of this 
prophecy, for the purpose of impressing upon the hearts of all 
the hearers of his address the admonition, " Save yourselves 
from this perverse generation " (Acts ii. 40), and also of point 
ing out the way of deliverance from the threatening judgment 
to all who were willing to be saved. 

CHAP. III. 1-3. 219 

Chap. ill. (Heb. Bib. ch. iv.) JUDGMENT UPON THE WORLD 
behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall turn the cap 
tivity of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gatliw together all nations, 
and bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will 
contend with them there concerning my people and my inherit 
ance Israel, which they have scattered among the nations, and my 
land have they divided. Ver. 3. And for my people they cast the 
lot ; and gave the boy for a harlot, and the maiden they have sold 
for wine, and drunk (it)" The description of the judgment- 
day predicted in ch. ii. 31 commences with an explanatory ^3. 
The train of thought is the following : When the day of the 
Lord comes, there will be deliverance upon Zion only for those 
who call upon the name of the Lord ; for then will all the 
heathen nations that have displayed hostility to Jehovah s inherit 
ance be judged in the valley of Jehoshaphat. By hinneh, the 
fact to be announced is held up as something new and important. 
The notice as to the time points back to the " afterward " in 
ii. 28 : " in those days," viz. the days of the outpouring of the 
Spirit of God. This time is still further described by the appo 
sition, " at that time, when I shall turn the captivity of Judah," 
as the time of the redemption of the people of God out of their 
prostrate condition, and out of every kind of distress. flK 2W 
rPO^ is not used here in the sense of " to bring back the 
prisoners," but, as in Hos. vi. 11, in the more comprehensive 
sense of restitutio in integrum, which does indeed include the 
gathering together of those who were dispersed, and the return 
of the captives, as one element, though it is not exhausted by 
this one element, but also embraces their elevation into a new and 
higher state of glory, transcending their earlier state of grace. 
In ^Bi?] the prediction of judgment is appended to the pre 
vious definition of the time in the form of an apodosis. The 
article in D^an 73 (all the nations) does not refer to " all those 
nations which were spoken of in ch. i. and ii. under the figure 
of the locusts" (Hengstenberg), but is used because the prophet 
had in his mind all those nations upon which hostility towards 
Israel, the people of God, is charged immediately afterwards as 
a crime : so that the article is used in much the same manner 
as in Jer. xlix. 36, because the notion, though in itself an in 
definite one, is more fully defined in what follows (cf. Ewald, 

220 JOEL. 

277, a). The valley of Y hdshdphdt, i.e.. Jehovah judges, is 
not the valley in which the judgment upon several heathen 
nations took place under Jehoshaphat (2 Chron. xx.), and 
which received the name of Valley of blessing, from the feast 
of thanksgiving which Jehoshaphat held there (2 Chron. xx. 
22-26), as Ab. Ezra, Hofmann, Ewald, and others suppose ; 
for the " Valley of blessing" was not " the valley of Kidron, 
which was selected for that festival in the road back from the 
desert of Tekoah to Jerusalem" (see Bertheau on 2 Chron. l.c.\ 
and still less " the plain of Jezreel" (Kliefoth), but was situated 
in the neighbourhood of the ruins of Bereikut, which have been 
discovered by Wolcott (see Hitter, Erdkunde, xv. p. 635, and 
Van de Velde, Mem. p. 292). On the other hand, the valley 
of Jehoshaphat is unquestionably to be sought for, according 
to this chapter (as compared with Zech. xiv. 4), in or near Jeru 
salem ; and the name, which does not occur anywhere else in 
either the Old or New Testament, excepting here and in ver. 12, 
is formed by Joel, like the name emeq hechdruts in ver. 14, 
from the judgment which Jehovah would hold upon the nations 
there. The tradition of the church (see Euseb. and Jerome 
in the Onom. s.v. /cotXa?, Ccelas, and Itiner. Anton, p. 594 ; cf. 
Robinson, Pal. i. pp. 396, 397) has correctly assigned it to the 
valley of the Kidron, on the eastern side of Jerusalem, or rather 
to the northern part of that valley (2 Sam. xviii. 18), or valley 
of Shaveh (Gen. xiv. 17). There would the Lord contend 
with the nations, hold judgment upon them, because they had 
attacked His people (iiaclidldthl^ the people of Jehovah, as in 
ch. ii. 17) and His kingdom (^artsi). The dispersion of Israel 
among the nations, and the division (p?n) of the Lord s land, 
cannot, of course, refer to the invasion of Judah by the Philis 
tines and Arabians in the time of Joram (2 Chron. xxi. 16, 17). 
For although these foes did actually conquer Jerusalem and 
plunder it, and carried off, among other captives, even the sons 
of the king himself, this transportation of a number of prisoners 
cannot be called a dispersion of the people of Israel among the 
heathen ; still less can the plundering of the land and capital be 
called a division of the land of Jehovah ; to say nothing of the 
fact, that the reference here is to the judgment which would 
come upon all nations after the outpouring of the Spirit of God 
upon all flesh, and that it is not till vers. 4-8 that Joel proceeds 

CHAP. III. 1-3. 221 

to speak of the calamities which neighbouring nations had 
inflicted upon the kingdom of Judah. The words presuppose 
as facts that have already occurred, both the dispersion of the 
whole nation of Israel in exile among the heathen, and the 
conquest and capture of the whole land by heathen nations, and 
that in the extent to which they took place under the Chaldeans 
and Romans alone. In vers. 2 and 3 Joel is speaking not of 
events belonging to his own time, or to the most recent past, 
but of that dispersion of the whole of the ancient covenant 
nation among the heathen, which was only completely effected 
on the conquest of Palestine and destruction of Jerusalem by 
the Romans, and which continues to this day ; though we 
cannot agree with Hengstenberg, that this furnishes an argu 
ment in favour of the allegorical interpretation of the army of 
locusts in ch. i. and ii. For since Moses had already foretold 
that Israel would one day be driven out among the heathen 
(Lev. xxvi. 33 sqq. ; Deut. xxviii. 36 sqq.), Joel might assume 
^at this judgment was a truth well known in Israel, even 
though he had not expressed it in his threatening of punish 
ment in ch. i. and ii. Ver. 3 depicts the ignominious treatment 
oi Israel in connection with this catastrophe. The prisoners of 
war are distributed by lot among the conquerors, and disposed 
of py them to slave-dealers at most ridiculous prices, a boy for 
a harlot, a girl for a drink of wine. Even in Joel s time, many 
Israelites may ro doubt have been scattered about in distant 
heathen lands (cf. ver. 5) ; but the heathen nations had not yet 
cast iks upon the nation as a whole, to dispose of the inhabit 
ants a,s slaves, and divide the land among themselves. This 
was nbt done till the time of the Romans. 1 But, as many of the 

1 After the conquest and destruction of Jerusalem, Titus disposed of 
the prisoners, whose number reached 97,000 in the course of the war, in 
the following manner : Those under seventeen years of age were publicly 
sold ; of the remainder, some were executed immediately, some sent away 
to work in the Egyptian mines, some kept for the public shows to fight 
with wild beasts in all the chief cities of Rome ; and only the tallest and 
most handsome for the triumphal procession in Rome (compare Josephus, 
de bell. Jud. vi. 9, 2, 3). And the Jews who were taken prisoners in the 
Jewish war in the time of Hadrian, are said to have been sold in the slave- 
market at Hebron at so low a price, that four Jews were disposed of for a 
measure of barley. Even in the contests of the Ptolemaeans and Seleucidse 
for the possession of Palestine, thousands of Jews were sold as prisoners cf 

222 JOEL. 

earlier commentators nave clearly seen, \ve must not stop even 
at this. The people and inheritance of Jehovah are not merely 
the Old Testament Israel as such, but the church of the Lord of 
both the old and new covenants, upon which the Spirit of God 
is poured out ; and the judgment which Jehovah will hold 
upon the nations, on account of the injuries inflicted upon His 
people, is the last general judgment upon the nations, which 
will embrace not merely the heathen Romans and other heathen 
nations by whom the Jews have been oppressed, but all the 
enemies of the people of God, both within and without the 
earthly limits of the church of the Lord, including even car 
nally-minded Jews, Mohammedans, and nominal Christians, 
who are heathens in heart. 1 

Before depicting the final judgment upon the hostile nations 
of the world, Joel notices in vers. 4-8 the hostility which the 
nations round about Judah had manifested towards it in his 
own day, and foretels to these a righteous retribution for the 
crimes they had committed against the covenant nation. Ver. 
4. "And ye also, what would ye with me, Tyre and Sidon, 
and all ye coasts of Philistia ? will ye repay a doing to me, or 
do anything to me ? Quickly, hastily will I turn back your 
doing upon your head. Ver. 5. That ye have taken my silver 
and my gold, and have brought my best jewels into your temples. 
Ver. 6. And the sons of Judah and the sons of Jerusalem ye 
have sold to the sons of Javan, to remove them far from their 
border. Ver. 7. Behold, I waken them from the place whither 
ye have sold them, and turn back your doing upon your head. 

war. Thus, for example, the Syrian commander Nicanor, in his expedi 
tion against the Jews in the Maccabsean war, sold by anticipation, in the 
commercial towns along the Mediterranean, such Jews as should be made 
prisoners, at the rate of ninety prisoners for one talent ; whereupon 1000 
slave-dealers accompanied the Syrian army, and carried fetters with them 
for the prisoners (1 Mace. iii. 41 ; 2 Mace. viii. 11, 25 ; Jos. Ant. xii. 7, 3). 
1 As J. Marck correctly observes, after mentioning the neighbouring 
nations that were hostile to Judah, and then the Syrians and Romans : 
" We might proceed in the same way to all the enemies of the Christian 
church, from its very cradle to the end of time, such as carnal Jews, 
Gentile Romans, cruel Mohammedans, impious Papists, and any others who 
either have borne or yet will bear the punishment of their iniquity, accord 
ing to the rule and measure of the restitution of the church, down to 
those enemies who shall yet remain at the coming of Christ, and be over 
thrown at the complete and final redemption of His church." 

CHAP. III. 4-8. 223 

Ver. 8. A nd sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of 
Javan, and they sell them to the Salceans, to a people far off ; for 
Jehovah has spoken it" By v e gam the Philistines and Phoe 
nicians are added to the goyim already mentioned, as being no 
less culpable than they ; not, however, in the sense of, " and 
also if one would inquire more thoroughly into the fact" 
(Ewald), or, " and even so far as ye are concerned, who, in the 
place of the friendship and help which ye were bound to render 
as neighbours, have oppressed my people " (Rosenmiiller), for 
such additions as these are foreign to the context ; but rather 
in this sense, " and yea also ... do not imagine that ye can do 
wrong with impunity, as though ye had a right so to do." 
^ DWKTio does not mean, " What have I to do with you ? " for 
this would be expressed differently (compare Josh. xxii. 24 ; 
Judg. xi. 12); but, "What would ye with me?" The question 
is unfinished, because of its emotional character, and is re 
sumed and completed immediately afterwards in a disjunctive 
form (Hitzig). Tyre and Sidon, the two chief cities of the 
Phoenicians (see at Josh. xix. 29 and xi. 8), represent all the 
Phoenicians. te rriW>3 ?b, " all the circles or districts of the 
Philistines," are the five small princedoms of Philistia (see at 
Josh. xiii. 2). ^2, the doing, or inflicting (sc. of evil), from 
gdmal, to accomplish, to do (see at Isa. iii. 9). The disjunctive 
question, " Will ye perhaps repay to me a deed, i.e. a wrong, 
that I have done to you, or of your own accord attempt any 
thing against me?" has a negative meaning: "Ye have neither 
cause to avenge yourselves upon me, i.e. upon my people Israel, 
nor any occasion to do it harm. But if repayment is the thing 
in hand, I will, and that very speedily (qal nfherdh, see Isa. v. 
26), bring back your doing upon your own head" (cf. Ps. vii. 
17). To explain what is here said, an account is given in 
vers. 5, 6 of what they have done to the Lord and His people, 
namely, taken away their gold and silver, and brought their 
costly treasures into their palaces or temples. These words are 
not to be restricted to the plundering of the temple and its 
treasury, but embrace the plundering of palaces and of the 
houses of the rich, which always followed the conquest of 
towns (cf. 1 Kings xiv. 26; 2 Kings xiv. 14). Dtf$0ffl also 
are not temples only, but palaces as well (cf. Isa. xiii. 22 ; 
Amos viii. 3 ; Prov. xxx. 28). Joel had no doubt the plunder- 

224 JOEL. 

ing of Judah and Jerusalem by the Philistines and Arabians 
in the time of Jehoram in his mind (see 2 Chron. xxi. 17). The 
share of the Phoenicians in this crime was confined to the fact, 
that they had purchased from the Philistines the Judseans who 
had been taken prisoners by them, and sold them again as slaves 
to the sons of Javan, i.e. to the lonians or Greeks of Asia 
Minor. 1 The clause, " that ye might remove them far from 
their border," whence there would be no possibility of their 
returning to their native land, serves to bring out the magni 
tude of the crime. This would be repaid to them according 
to the true lex talionis (vers. 7, 8). The Lord would raise up 
the members of His own nation from the place to which they 
had been sold, i.e. would bring them back again into their own 
land, and deliver up the Philistines and Phoenicians into the 
power of the JudaBans (mdkhar Vydd as in Judg. ii. 14, iii. 8, 
etc.), who would then sell their prisoners as slaves to the remote 
people of the Sabgeans, a celebrated trading people in Arabia 
Felix (see at 1 Kings x. 1). This threat would certainly be 
fulfilled, for Jehovah had spoken it (cf. Isa. i. 20). This 
occurred partly on the defeat of the Philistines by Uzziah 
(2 Chron. xxvi. 6, 7) and Hezekiah (2 Kings xviii. 8), where 
Philistian prisoners of war were certainly sold as slaves ; but 
principally after the captivity, when Alexander the Great and 
his successors set many of the Jewish prisoners of war in their 
lands at liberty (compare the promise of King Demetrius to 
Jonathan, " I will send away in freedom such of the Judseans 
as have been made prisoners, and reduced to slavery in our 
land," Josephus, Ant. xiii. 2, 3), and portions of the Philistian 
and Phoenician lands were for a time under Jewish sway ; 
when Jonathan besieged Ashkelon and Gaza (1 Mace. x. 86, 
xi. 60) ; when King Alexander (Balas) ceded Ekron and the 
district of Judah (1 Mace. x. 89); when the Jewish king Alex 
ander Jannaeus conquered Gaza, and destroyed it (Josephus, 
Ant. xiii. 13, 3 ; bell. Jud. i. 4, 2) ; and when, subsequent to 
the cession of Tyre, which, had been conquered by Alexander 
the Great, to the Seleucidag, Antiochus the younger appointed 
Simon commander-in-chief from the Ladder of Tyre to the 
border of Egypt (1 Mace. xi. 59). 

1 On the widespread slave-trade of the Phoenicians, see Movers, Pho- 
nizier, ii. 3, p. 70 sqq. 

CHAP. III. 9-12. 225 

Vers. 9-17. Fulfilment of the judgment upon all the 
heathen predicted in ver. 2. Compare the similar prediction 
of judgment in Zech. xiv. 2 sqq. The call is addressed to 
all nations to equip themselves for battle, and march into the 
valley of Jehoshaphat to war against the people of God, but 
in reality to be judged by the Lord through His heavenly 
heroes, whom He sends down thither. Ver. 9. " Proclaim ye 
this among the nations ; sanctify a war, awaken the heroes, let all 
the men of war draw near and come up ! Ver. 10. Forge your 
coulters into swords, and your vine-sickles into spears : let the 
weak one say, A hero am I. Ver. 11. Hasten and come, all ye 
nations round about, and assemble yourselves ! Let thy heroes 
come down thither, Jehovah ! Ver. 12. The nations are to 
rise up, and come into the valley of Jehoshaphat ; for there shall I 
sit to judge all the heathen round about" The summons to pre 
pare for war (ver. 9) is addressed, not to the worshippers of 
Jehovah or the Israelites scattered among the heathen (Cyr,, 
Calv., Umbreit), but to the heathen nations, though not directly 
to the heroes and warriors among the heathen, but to heralds, 
who are to listen to the divine message, and convey it to the 
heathen nations. This change belongs to the poetical drapery 
of the thought, that at a sign from the Lord the heathen 
nations are to assemble together for war against Israel. B^|j? 
nonta does not mean " to declare war " (Hitzig), but to conse 
crate a war, i.e. to prepare for war by sacrifices and religious 
rites of consecration (cf. 1 Sam. vii. 8, 9 ; Jer. vi. 4). wyn : 
waken up or arouse (not wake up) the heroes from their peace 
ful rest to battle. With *W m the address passes over from the 
second person to the third, which Hitzig accounts for on the 
ground that the words state what the heralds are to say to the 
nations or heroes ; but the continuance of the imperative kottu 
in ver. 10 does not suit this. This transition is a very frequent 
one (cf. Isa. xli. 1, xxxiv. 1), and may be very simply explained 
from the lively nature of the description. r6y is here applied 
to the advance of hostile armies against a land or city. The 
nations are to summon up all their resources and all their 
strength for this war, because it will be a decisive one. They 
are to forge the tools of peaceful agriculture into weapons of 
war (compare Isa. ii. 4 and Mic. iv. 3, where the Messianic 
times of peace are depicted as the turning of weapons of war 

VOL. I. 

226 JOEL. 

into instruments of agriculture). Even the weak one is to 
rouse himself up to be a hero, " as is generally the case when a 
whole nation is seized with warlike enthusiasm " (Hitzig). This 
enthusiasm is expressed still further in the appeal in ver. 11 to 
assemble together as speedily as possible. The air. Xey. vhy 
is related to C*in, to hasten ; whereas no support can be found 
in the language to the meaning " assemble," adopted by the 
LXX., Targ., etc. The expression D^arrps by no means ne 
cessitates our taking these words as a summons or challenge on 
the part of Joel to the heathen, as Hitzig does ; for this can be 
very well interpreted as a summons, with which the nations 
call one another to battle, as the following W2jip31_ requires ; and 
the assumption of Hitzig, Ewald, and others, that this form is 
the imperative for ^ijn, cannot be sustained from Isa. xliii. 9 
and Jer. 1. 5. It is not till ver. 116 that Joel steps in with a 
prayer addressed to the Lord, that He will send down His 
heavenly heroes to the place to which the heathen are flowing 
together. Hancliath an imper. hiph., with pathach instead of 
tzere, on account of the guttural, from nachath, to come down. 
The heroes of Jehovah are heavenly hosts, or angels, who exe 
cute His commands as gibbore Mwach (Ps. ciii. 20, cf. Ixxviii. 
25). This prayer is answered thus by Jehovah in ver. 12 : 
u Let the nations rise up, and come into the valley of Jehosha- 
phat, for there will He hold judgment upon them." ViljP cor 
responds to Wyn in ver. 9 ; and at the close, " all the heathen 
round about" is deliberately repeated. Still there is no an 
tithesis in this to " all nations " in ver. 2, as though here the 
judgment was simply to come upon the hostile nations in the 
neighbourhood of Judah, and not upon all the heathen univer 
sally (Hitzig). For even in ver. 2 D^jn ^3 are simply all the 
heathen who have attacked the people of Jehovah that is to 
say, all the nations round about Israel. Only these are not 
merely the neighbouring nations to Judah, but all heathen 
nations who have come into contact with the kingdom of God, 
id. all the nations of the earth without exception, inasmuch as 
before the last judgment the gospel of the kingdom is to be 
preached in all the world for a testimony to all nations (Matt, 
xxiv. 14 ; Mark xiii. 10). 

It is to the last decisive judgment, in which all the single 
judgments find their end, that the command of Jehovah to 

CHAP. III. 13. 227 

His strong heroes refers. Ver. 13. " Put ye in the sickle ; for 
the harvest is ripe: come, tread, for the wine-press is full, the vats 
overflow: for their wickedness is great" The judgment is repre 
sented under the double figure of the reaping of the fields and 
the treading out of the grapes in the wine-press. The angels 
are first of all summoned to reap the ripe corn (Isa. xvii. 5 ; 
Rev. xiv. 16), and then commanded to tread the wine-presses 
that are filled with grapes* The opposite opinion expressed by 
Hitzig, viz. that the command to tread the wine-presses is pre 
ceded by the command to cut off the grapes, is supported partly 
by the erroneous assertion, that bdshal is not applied to the 
ripening of corn, and partly upon the arbitrary assumption that 
qdtslr, a harvest, stands for bdtslr, a vintage ; and maggdl, a 
sickle (cf. Jer. 1. 16), for mazmerdh, a vine-dresser s bill. But 
bdshal does not mean " to boil," either primarily or literally, 
but to be done, or to be ripe, like the Greek Trecrcro), TreTrro), to 
ripen, to make soft, to boil (see at Ex. xii. 9), and hence in the 
piel both to boil and roast, and in the hiphil to make ripe or 
ripen (Gen. xl. 10), applied both to grapes and corn. It is 
impossible to infer from the fact that Isaiah (xvi. 9) uses the 
word qdtsir for the vintage, on account of the alliteration with 
qayits, that this is also the meaning of the word in Joel. But 
we have a decisive proof in. the resumption of this passage in 
Rev. xiv. 15 and 18, where the two figures (of the corn-harvest 
and the gathering of the grapes) are kept quite distinct, and 
the clause "VVi? P? ^ is paraphrased and explained thus : " The 
time is come for thee to reap, for the harvest of the earth is 
ripe." The ripeness of the corn is a figurative representation 
of ripeness for judgment. Just as in the harvest namely, at 
the threshing and winnowing connected with the harvest the 
grains of corn are separated from the husk, the wheat being 
gathered into the barns, the husk blown away by the wind, 
and the straw burned ; so will the good be separated from the 
wicked by the judgment, the former being gathered into the 
kingdom of God for the enjoyment of eternal life, the latter, 
on the other hand, being given up to eternal death. The 
harvest field is the earth (97 777, Rev. xiv. 16), i.e. the inhabit 
ants of the earth, the human race. The ripening began at the 
time of the appearance of Christ upon the earth (John iv. 35 ; 
Matt. ix. 38). With the preaching of the gospel among all 

228 JOEL. 

nations, the judgment of separation and decision (17 
John iii. 18-21) commenced ; with the spread of the kingdom 
of Christ in the earth it passes over all nations ; and it will be 
completed in the last judgment, on the return of Christ in 
glory at the end of this world. Joel does not carry out the 
figure of the harvest any further, but simply presents the judg 
ment under the similar figure of the treading of the grapes 
that have been gathered. Vn, not from ydrad, to descend, but 
from rdddh, to trample under foot, tread the press that is filled 
with grapes. D^j^n *|Wn is used in ch. ii. 24 to denote the 
most abundant harvest ; here it is figuratively employed to 
denote the great mass of men who are ripe for the judgment, 
as the explanatory clause, for " their wicked (deed) is much," 
or " their wickedness is great," which recals Gen. vi. 5, clearly 
shows. The treading of the wine-press does not express the 
idea of wading in blood, or the execution of a great massacre ; 
but in Isa. Ixiii. 3, as well as in Rev. xiv. 20, it is a figure 
denoting an annihilating judgment upon the enemies of God 
and of His kingdom. The wine-press is " the wine-press of 
the wrath of God," i.e. " what the wine-press is to ordinary 
grapes, the wrath of God is to the grapes referred to here " 
(Hengstenberg on Eev. xiv. 19). 

The execution of this divine command is not expressly 
mentioned, but in ver. 14 sqq. the judgment is simply 
depicted thus : first of all we have a description of the 
streaming of the nations into the valley of judgment, and 
then of the appearance of Jehovah upon Zion in the terrible 
glory of the Judge of the world, and as the refuge of His 
people. Ver. 14. " Tumult, tumult in the valley of decision: 
for the day of Jehovah is near in the valley of decision" 
Hdmonlm are noisy crowds, whom the prophet sees in the 
Spirit pouring into the valley of Jehoshaphat. The repetition 
of the word is expressive of the great multitude, as in 2 Kings 
iii. 16. P^nn P^V, not valley of threshing; for though chdruts 
is used in Isa. xxviii. 27 and xli. 15 for the threshing-sledge, 
it is not used for the threshing itself, but valley of the de 
ciding judgment, from chdrats, to decide, to determine irre 
vocably (Isa. x. 22 ; 1 Kings xx. 40), so that chdruts simply 
defines the name Jehoshaphat with greater precision, ailjj a 
\X\ (compare ch. i. 15, ii. 1) is used here to denote the irn- 

CHAP. in. i:-2i. 229 

mediate proximity of the judgment, which bursts at once, 
according to ver. 15. 

Ver. 15. " Sun and moon have become black, and the stars 
have withdrawn their shining. Ver. 16. And Jehovah roars out 
of Zion, and He thunders out of Jerusalem ; and heaven and 
earth quake : but Jehovah is a refuge to His people, and a strong 
hold to the sons of Israel. Ver. 17. And ye will perceive that I 
Jehovah am your God, dwelling upon Zion, my holy mountain : 
and Jerusalem will be a, sanctuary, and strangers will not pass 
through it any more." On the forebodings of the judgment in 
ver. 15, see at ch. ii. 10. Out of Zion, the place of His throne, 
will Jehovah cause His thunder-voice to sound, will roar like a 
lion which is rushing upon its prey (Hos. v. 14 ; Amos iii. 4), 
so that heaven and earth tremble in consequence. But it is 
only to His enemies that He is terrible ; to His people, the true 
Israel, He is a refuge and strong tower. From the fact that 
He only destroys His enemies, and protects His own people, 
the latter will learn that He is their God, and dwells upon 
Zion in His sanctuary, i.e. that He there completes His king 
dom, that He purifies Jerusalem of all foes, all the ungodly 
through the medium of the judgment, and makes it a holy 
place which cannot be trodden any more by strangers, by Gen 
tiles, or by the unclean of either Gentiles or Israelites (Isa. 
xxxv. 8), but will be inhabited only by the righteous (Isa. 
Ix. 21; Zech. xiv. 21), who, as Rev. xxi. 27 affirms, are written 
in the Lamb s book of life. For Zion or Jerusalem is of 
course not the Jerusalem of the earthly Palestine, but the sanc 
tified and glorified city of the living God, in which the Lord 
will be eternally united with His redeemed, sanctified, and 
glorified church. We are forbidden to think of the earthly 
Jerusalem or the earthly Mount Zion, not only by the circum 
stance that the gathering of all the heathen nations takes place 
in the valley of Jehoshaphat, i.e. in a portion of the valley of 
the Kidron, which is a pure impossibility, but also by the de 
scription which follows of the glorification of Judah. 

Vers. 18-21. After the judgment upon all nations, the land 
of the Lord will overflow with streams of divine blessing ; but 
t he seat of the world-power will become a barren waste. Ver. 18. 
" And it comes to pass in that day, the mountains will trickle 
down with new wine, and the hills flow with milk, and all the 

230 JOEL. 

brooks of JudaJi flow with water ; and a fountain will issue 
from the house of Jehovah, and ivater the Acacia valley. Ver. 19. 
Egypt will become a desolation, and Edom a barren waste, for 
the sin upon the sons of Judah, that they have shed innocent 
blood in their land. Ver. 20. But Judah, it will dwell for ever, 
and Jerusalem from generation to generation. Ver. 21. And I 
shall expiate their blood that I have not expiated : and Jehovah 
dwelleth upon Zion" The end of the ways of the Lord is 
eternal blessing for His people, whilst the enemies of His king 
dom fall victims to the curse. This thought is expressed in 
figures taken from the state of the covenant land of the Old 
Testament, and those of the bordering kingdoms of Egypt and 
Edom which were hostile to Israel. If we bear this in mind, 
we shall not fall into Volck s error, of seeking in this descrip 
tion for a clear statement as to the transfiguration of the land 
of Israel during the thousand years reign, whilst the rest of the 
earth is not yet glorified ; for it is evident from ver. 18, as 
compared with the parallel passages, viz. Zech. xiv. 6 sqq. and 
Ezek. xlvii. 1-12, that this passage does not teach the earthly 
glorification of Palestine, and desolation of Egypt and Idumaea, 
but that Judah and Jerusalem are types of the kingdom of God, 
whilst Egypt and Edom are types of the world-powers that are 
at enmity against God ; in other words, that this description is 
not to be understood literally, but spiritually. " In that day," 
viz. the period following the final judgment upon the heathen, 
the mountains and hills of Judah, i.e. the least fruitful portions 
of the Old Testament kingdom of God in the time of the 
prophet, will overflow with new wine and milk, and all the 
brooks of water be filled, i.e. no more dry up in the hot season 
of tlje year (ch. i. 20). Thus will the fruitfulness of Canaan, 
the land of the Lord, flowing with milk and honey, come forth 
in all its potency. Even the unfruitful acacia valley will be 
watered by a spring issuing from the house of Jehovah, and 
turned into a fruitful land. The valley of Shittim is the barren 
valley of the Jordan, above the Dead Sea. The name Shittim, 
acacia, is taken from the last encampment of the Israelites in 
the steppes of Moab, before their entrance into Canaan (Num. 
xxv. 1 ; Josh. iii. 1), and was chosen by the prophet to denote 
a very dry valley, as the acacia grows in a dry soil (cf. Celsii, 
Hierob. i. p. 500 sqq.). The spring which waters this valley, 

CHAP. III. 18-21. 231 

and proceeds from the house of Jehovah, and the living water 
that flows from Jerusalem, according to Zech. xiv. 8, are of 
course not earthly streams that are constantly flowing, as dis 
tinguished from the streams caused by rain and snow, which 
very soon dry up again, but spiritual waters of life (John iv. 10, 
14, vii. 38) ; and, in fact, as a comparison of Ezek. xlvii. 7-12 
with Kev. xxii. 1, 2 clearly shows, the " river of the water of 
life, clear as a crystal," which in the New Jerusalem coming 
down from God upon the earth (Rev. xxi. 10) proceeds out of 
the throne of God and of the Lamb, and on both sides of which 
there grows the tree of life, that bears its fruit twelve times 
a-year, or every month, and the leaves of which are for the 
healing of the nations. The partially verbal agreement between 
the description of this river of water in Rev. xxii. 2, and that 
in Ezek. xlvii. 12, overthrows the millenarian view, that the 
glorification of Judah and Jerusalem, predicted by Joel, Zecha- 
riah, and Ezekiel, will be a partial glorification of the earth, viz. 
of the Holy Land, which takes place before the creation of the 
new heaven and the new earth. Ver. 19. On the other hand, 
the curse of desolation will fall upon Egypt and Edom, on 
account of the sin which they have committed upon the sons of 
Judah. ^3 Dnn, with the genitive of the object, as in Ob. 10, 
Hab. ii. 8, 17, etc. This sin is then more precisely defined, as 
consisting in the fact that they had shed innocent blood of the 
sons of Judah, i.e. of the people of God, in their land (^artsdm, 
the land of the Egyptians and Edomites, not of the Judasans) : 
that is to say, in the Egypt in the olden time, more especially 
by the command to slay all the Hebrew boys (Ex. i. 16), and in 
the Edom of more recent times, probably when throwing off the 
dominion of Judah (see at Amos i. 11 and Ob. 10). These 
nations and lands had both thereby become types of the power 
of the world in its hostility to God, in which capacity they are 
mentioned here, and Edom again in Isa. xxxiv. and Ixiii. ; 
cf. Jer. xlix. 7 sqq. and Ezek. xxxv. Ver. 20. On the other 
hand, Judah and Jerusalem shall dwell for ever, a poetical 
expression for " be inhabited," both land and city being per 
sonified, as in Isa. xiii. 20, etc. Thus will Jehovah, by means 
of the final judgment upon the heathen, wipe away the blood- 
guiltiness that they have contracted in their treatment of His 
people, and manifest Himself as King of Zion. With these 

232 JOEL 

thoughts the prophecy of Joel closes (ver. 21). The verb niqqdJi, 
to cleanse, with dam, to wipe away or expunge blood-guiltiness 
by punishment, is chosen with reference to N N i?J tn in ver. 19 ; 
and WjM fc6 ? which follows, is to be taken in a relative sense : so 
that there is no need to alter WjpJH into Wi^l (Ges.); and the latter 
has no critical support in the Septuagint rendering KOI eK&Trjcra), 
which merely reproduces the sense. Ver. 2 la does not contain 
the announcement of a still further punishment upon Egypt 
and Edom, but simply the thought with which the proclama 
tion of the judgment closes, namely, that the eternal desolation 
of the world-kingdoms mentioned here will wipe out all the 
wrong which they have done to the people of God, and which 
has hitherto remained unpunished. But Zion will rejoice in 
the eternal reign of its God. Jehovah dwells upon Zion, when 
He manifests Himself to all the world as the King of His 
people, on the one hand by the annihilation of His foes, and on 
the other hand by the perfecting of His kingdom in glory. 



HE PKOPHET. Amos (Btoy, i.e. Bearer or Bur 
den), according to the heading to his book, was 
"among the shepherds (noqdlm) of Tekoah" 
when the Lord called him to be a prophet ; that 
is to say, he was a native of Tekoah, a town situated on the 
borders of the desert of Judah, two hours to the south of Beth 
lehem, the ruins of which have been preserved under the ancient 
name (see at Josh. xv. 59, LXX.), and lived with the shepherds 
who fed their sheep in the steppe to the east of Tekoah ; of 
course not as a rich owner of flocks, but simply as a shepherd. 
For even though noqed is applied to the Moabitish king in 
2 Kings iii. 4 as a rich owner of a choice breed of sheep and 
goats, the word properly signifies only a rearer of sheep, i.e. 
not merely the owner, but the shepherd of choice sheep, as 
Bochart (Hieroz. i. p. 483, ed. Ros.) has proved from the 
Arabic. But Amos himself affirms, in ch. vii. 14, that he was 
a simple shepherd. He there replies to the priest at Bethel, 
who wanted to prevent him from prophesying in the kingdom 
of Israel : " I am not a prophet, nor yet a prophet s pupil, but 
a herdman (boqed) am I, and boles shi^nlm 9 a gatherer of syca 
mores" (see at ch. vii. 14), i.e. one who fed upon this fruit, 
which resembles figs, and is described by Pliny (Hist. n. 13, 
14) as prcedulcis, but which, according to Strabo, xvii. 823 
(art/*o9 Kara rrjv yetxnv)^ was very lightly esteemed as food, and 
also, according to Dioscor., was cm/Ao? ical /ca/cocrTo/^a^o?, and 
which is only used in Egypt as the food of the common people 
(Norden, JReise, p. 118). Consequently we have to regard 
Amos as a shepherd living in indigent circumstances, not as a 
prosperous man possessing both a flock of sheep and a sycamore 
plantation, which many commentators, following the Chaldee 


234 AMOS. 

and the Eabbins, have made him out to be. Without having 
dedicated himself to the calling of a prophet, and without even 
being trained in the schools of the prophets, he was called by 
the Lord away from the flock to be a prophet, to prophesy 
concerning Israel (ch. vii. 14, 15), under the Judaean king 
Uzziah and the Israelitish king Jeroboam II., i.e. within the 
twenty-six years of the contemporaneous rule of these two 
kings, or between 810 and 783 B.C. Amos therefore com 
menced his prophetic labours about the same time as Hosea, 
probably a few years earlier, and prophesied in Bethel, the 
chief seat of the Israelitish image-worship (ch. vii. 10). We 
cannot fix with any greater exactness either the time of his 
appearing or the duration of his ministry ; for the notice in ch. 
i. 1, " two years before the earthquake," furnishes no chrono 
logical datum, because the time of the earthquake is unknown. 
It is never mentioned in the historical books of the Old Testa 
ment, though it can hardly be any other than the terrible earth 
quake in the time of Uzziah, which the people had not forgotten 
even after the captivity, inasmuch as Zechariah was able to 
recal the flight that took place on that occasion (Zech. xiv. 5). 
As Amos has not given the date of the earthquake, his evident 
intention was not to fix the time when his ministry commenced, 
or when his book was composed, but simply to point to the internal 
connection between this event and his own prophetic mission. 
According to the teaching of Scripture, the earth quakes when 
the Lord comes to judgment upon the nations (see at ch. viii. 8). 
The earthquake which shook Jerusalem two years after the 
appearance of Amos as prophet, was a harbinger of the judg 
ment threatened by Him against the two kingdoms of Israel 
and the surrounding nations, a practical declaration on the part 
of God that He would verify the word of His servant ; and 
the allusion to this divine sign on the part of the prophet was 
an admonition to Israel to lay to heart the word of the Lord 
which he had announced to them. So far as the explanation 
and importance of his prophecies were concerned, it was enough 
to mention the kings of Judah and Israel in whose reigns he 

Under these kings the two kingdoms stood at the summit 
of their prosperity. Uzziah had completely subdued the Edom- 
ites, had subjugated the Philistines, and had even made the 


Ammonites tributary. He had also fortified Jerusalem strongly, 
and had raised a powerful army ; so that his name reached as 
far as Egypt (2 Chron. xxvi.). And Jeroboam had completely 
overcome the Syrians, and restored the original borders of the 
kingdom from the country of Hamath to the Dead Sea (2 
Kings xiv. 25-28). After the power of the Syrians had been 
broken, Israel had no longer any foe to fear, for Assyria had 
not yet arisen as a conquering power. The supposition that 
Calneh or Ctesiphon is represented in ch. vi. 2 as having 
already been taken (by the Assyrians), rests upon an incorrect 
interpretation, and is just as erroneous as the inference, also 
drawn from the same passage, that Hamath was conquered 
and Gath destroyed. Amos does not mention the Assyrians 
at all ; although in ch. i. 5 he threatens the Syrians with 
transportation to Kir, and in ch. v. 27 predicts that the 
Israelites will be carried into captivity beyond Damascus. In 
the existing state of things, the idea of the approaching fall or 
destruction of the kingdom of Israel was, according to human 
judgment, a very improbable one indeed. The inhabitants of 
Samaria and Zion felt themselves perfectly secure in the con 
sciousness of their might (ch. vi. 1). The rulers of the king 
dom trusted in the strength of their military resources (ch. vi. 
13), and were only concerned to increase their wealth by op 
pressing the poor, and to revel in earthly luxuries and pleasures 
(ch. ii. 6-8, v. 11, 12, vi. 4-6) ; so that the prophet denounces 
woes upon those who are in security upon Zion and without 
care upon the mountain of Samaria (ch. vi. 1), and utters the 
threat that the Lord will cause the sun to set at noon, and 
bring darkness over the land in broad daylight (ch. viii. 9). 

It was at such a time as this that the plain shepherd of 
Tekoah was sent to Bethel, into the kingdom of the ten tribes, 
to announce to the careless sinners the approach of the divine 
judgment, and the destruction of the kingdom. And whilst it 
was in itself a strange event for a prophet to be sent out of 
Judah into the kingdom of the ten tribes, so strange, in fact, 
that in all probability it had never occurred since the kingdom 
had been founded, or at any rate, that no second instance of the 
kind is recorded, from the time when the man of God was sent 
out of Judah to Bethel in the reign of Jeroboam I. (1 Kings 
xiii.), down to the time of Amos himself, it must have attracted 

236 AMOS. 

universal attention, for a man to rise up who belonged to the 
rank of a shepherd, who had had no training at all for a pro 
phet s vocation, but who nevertheless proved, by the demon 
stration of the Spirit, that he was a prophet indeed, and who 
foretold, in the strength of God, what destruction awaited the 
covenant people, before there was the slightest human proba 
bility of any such catastrophe. 

The prophet s style of composition does indeed betray the 
former shepherd in the use of certain words, which evidently 
belonged to the dialect of the common people, e.g. PTO for P^P 
(ch. ii. 13), DB>i3 for DDte (ch. v. 11), nno for 2TO ( c h. vi. 8), 
*p.DD for tryvn (ch. vi. 10), pnfe* for pn* (ch. viL 9, 16), njjefo 
for nypBo ( cn> viii. 8), and in many figures and similes drawn 
from nature and rural life ; but for the rest, it indicates a close 
acquaintance on the part of the prophet with the Mosaic law 
and the history of his nation, and also considerable rhetorical 
power, wealth and depth of thought, vivacity and vigour, more 
especially in the use of bold antitheses, and a truly poetical 
roll, which rises by no means unfrequently into actual rhythm ; 
so that Lowth has already expressed the following opinion con 
cerning him (De poesi sacr. ed. Mich. p. 433) : "^Equus judex^ 
de re non de homine gucesituruSj censebit, credo, pastorem nostrum 
inrj^ev varTeprjicevai, rwv v7Tp\lav Trpotyrjrwv, ut sensuum elatione 
et magnificentia spiritus prope summit parem, ita etiam dictionis 
splendore et compositionis elegantia mx quoquam inferiorem" 
Beyond these facts, which we gather from the prophet s own 
writings, nothing further is known of the circumstances con 
nected with his life. After fulfilling his mission, he probably 
returned to Judah, his native land, where his prophecies were 
most likely first committed to writing. The apocryphal 
accounts of his death, in Pseud.-Epiphanius, c. 12, and Pseudo- 
Doroth. (see Carpzov, p. 319), have no historical value what 

2. THE BOOK. Although Amos was sent by the Lord to 
Bethel, to prophesy to the people of Israel there, he does not 
restrict himself in his prophecy to the kingdom of the ten tribes, 
but, like his younger contemporary Hosea, notices the kingdom 
of Judah as well, and even the surrounding nations, that were 
hostile to the covenant nation. His book is not a mere col- 


lection of the addresses delivered in Bethel, but a carefully 
planned, complete work, in which Amos, after the occurrence 
of the earthquake in the time of Uzziah, gathered together all 
the essential contents of the prophecies he had previously 
uttered at Bethel. It consists of a lengthy introduction (ch. i. 
ii.) and two parts, viz. simple prophetic addresses (ch. iv.-vi.), 
and visions with short explanations (ch. vii.-xix.). In the intro 
duction the prophet proclaims, in the following manner, the 
judgment about to fall upon Damascus, Philistia, Tyre, Edom, 
Ammon, Moab, Judah, and Israel. The storm of the Lord, 
which bursts upon all these kingdoms, remains suspended over 
the kingdom of Israel, which is mentioned last. This is evident 
from the fact, that the sin of Israel is depicted more fully than 
that of the other nations ; and the threatening of judgment is 
couched in such general terms, that it can only be regarded as 
a provisional announcement, or as the introduction to the body 
of the book by which it is followed. The first part contains 
an extended address, divided into three sections by the recur 
rence of yJBBJ (hear ye) in ch. iii. 1, iv. 1, and v. 1. The 
address consists of a " great warning to repent," in which the 
prophet holds up before the sinful Israelites, especially the 
rulers of the kingdom, the arts of injustice and wickedness 
that are current among them, and proclaims a judgment which 
embraces the destruction of the palaces and holy places, the 
overthrow of the kingdom, and the transportation of the people. 
In ch. iii. the sin and punishment are described in the most 
general form. In ch. iv. the prophet sweeps away from the 
self-secure sinners the false ground of confidence afforded by 
their own worship, recals to their mind the judgments with 
which God has already visited them, and summons them to 
stand before God as their judge. In ch. v. and vi., after a 
mournful elegy concerning the fall of the house of Israel (ch. 
v. 1-3), he points out to the penitent the way to life, coupled 
with the repeated summons to seek the Lord, and that which is 
good (ch. v. 4, 6, 14) ; and then, in the form of a woe, for 
which a double reason is assigned (ch. v. 18, vi. 1), he takes 
away all hope of deliverance from the impenitent and har 
dened. Throughout the whole of this address Amos prophesies 
chiefly to the ten tribes, whom he repeatedly addresses, predict 
ing ruin and exile. At the same time, he not only addresses 

238 AMOS. 

his words in the introduction (ch. iii. 1, 2) to all Israel of the 
twelve tribes, whom Jehovah brought out of Egypt, but he also 
pronounces the last woe (ch. vi. 1) upon the secure ones on 
Zion, and the careless ones on the mountain of Samaria ; so 
that his prophecy also applies to the kingdom of Judah, and 
sets before it the same fate as that of the kingdom of the ten 
tribes, if it should fall into the same sin. The second part 
contains five visions, and at the close the proclamation of sal 
vation. The first two visions (ch. vii. 1-3 and 4-6) threaten 
judgments ; the next two (ch. vii. 79, viii. 1-3) point out the 
impossibility of averting the judgment, and the ripeness of the 
people for it. Between these, viz. in ch. vii. 10-17, the con 
versation between the prophet and the chief priest at Bethel is 
related. The substance of the fourth vision is carried out still 
further, in a simple prophetic address (ch. viii. 4-14). Lastly, 
the fifth vision (ch. ix. 1) shows the overthrow and ruin of the 
whole of Israel, and is also still further expanded in a plain 
address (ch. ix. 2-10). To this there is appended the promise 
of the restoration of the fallen kingdom of God, of its extension 
through the adoption of the Gentiles, and of its eternal glori 
fication (ch. ix. 11-15). This conclusion corresponds to the 
introduction (ch. i. and ii.). Like all the nations that rise up 
in hostility to the kingdom of God, even Judah and Israel shall 
fall victims to the judgment, on account of their unrighteous 
ness and idolatry, in order that the kingdom of God may be 
purified from its dross, be exalted to glory, and so be made 
perfect. This is the fundamental thought of the writings of 
Amos, who was called by the Lord to preach this truth to the 
nation of Israel. And just as the close of his book points back 
to the introduction (ch. i. and ii.), so also do the visions of the 
second part correspond to the addresses of the first, embodying 
the substance of the addresses in significant symbols. The 
parallel between the fifth vision and the elegy struck up in ch. 
v. 1 is very conspicuous ; and it is also impossible to overlook 
the material agreement between the first and second visions and 
the enumeration in ch. iv. 6-11, of the divine visitations that 
had already fallen upon Israel; whilst the third and fourth 
visions set clearly before the eye the irrevocable character of 
the judgments with which careless and wanton sinners are 
threatened in ch. iii.-vi. 


There is evidently no foundation for the assumption that 
the second part contains " the true kernel of his work," namely, 
"the addresses which Amos originally delivered at Bethel;" 
and that the first part, together with the introduction (ch. 
i.-vi.) and the Messianic conclusion (ch. ix. 1115), is purely 
a written description, composed by Amos after his return from 
Bethel to Judah, to give a further expansion to his original 
utterances (Ewald, Baur), This by no means follows, either 
from the fact that the account of what the prophet experienced 
at Bethel is inserted in the series of visions, as it moves on step 
by step, and that the place in which it occurs (viz. ch. vii.) is 
evidently its original position, or from the circumstance that 
Amos commences his work with a saying of Joel (compare ch. 
i. 2 with Joel iv. 16), and evidently refers to Joel (iii. 18) 
even in the promise at the close (ch. ix. 13). For the position 
of this account in ch. vii. proves nothing further than that 
Amos related those visions in Bethel ; and the allusion to Joel 
simply presupposes an acquaintance with the predictions of 
this prophet. If there were no previous addresses, the visions 
in ch. vii. and viii. would have nothing to explain their occur 
rence, and would also be lacking in the requisite clearness. 
Moreover, the work of Amos in Bethel cannot possibly be 
limited to ch. vii.-ix. And lastly, the addresses in ch. iv.-vi. 
are throughout so individual, so full of life, and so impressive, 
that they cleiirly reflect the original oral delivery, even though 
it may be nothing more than the essential substance of what 
was orally delivered, that has been given here. Only ch. i. 
and ii. appear to have been really conceived in the form of a 
written composition, and placed at the head of the book at the 
time when it was first compiled, although certain thoughts that 
had been orally expressed may lie at the foundation even there. 

For the exegetical writings upon Amos, see my Lehrbuek 
der Einleitung, pp. 284-5. 

240 AMOS. 



Starting from the saying of Joel (iii. 16), "Jehovah will 
roar out of Zion, and utter His voice from Jerusalem," Amos 
announces the wrath of the Lord, which will discharge itself 
upon Damascus (i. 3-5), Philistia (i. 6-8), Tyre (i. 9, 10), 
Edom (i. 11, 12), Ammon (i. 13-15), Moab (ii. 1-3), Judah 
(ii. 4, 5), and Israel (ii. 6-16). The announcement of this 
judgment maintains a certain uniformity throughout ; every 
one of these nations being threatened with the destruction of 
the kingdom, or with ruin and exile, " for three or four trans 
gressions ;" and the threat, as Riickert has well expressed it, 
" rolling like a storm, in strophe after strophe, over all the 
surrounding kingdoms," touching Judah as it passes along, 
and eventually resting over Israel. The six heathen nations 
mentioned, three of which are related to the covenant nation, 
represent all the Gentile nations, which rise up in hostility to 
the people or kingdom of God. For the sins on account of 
which they are to be punished, are not certain general breaches 
of morality, but crimes which they have committed against the 
people of God; and in the case of Judah, contempt of the com 
mandments of the Lord, and idolatry. The whole section, not 
merely ch. i. 2-ii. 5, but also ch. ii, 6-16, has an introductory 
character. Whilst, on the one hand, the extension of the pre 
diction of judgment to the Gentile nations indicates the necessity 
and universality of the judgment, which is sent to promote the 
interests of the kingdom of God, and preaches the truth that every 
one will be judged according to his attitude towards the living 
God ; on the other hand, the place assigned to the Gentile 
nations, viz. before the covenant nation, not only sharpened the 
conscience, but taught this lesson, that if even the nations which 
had only sinned indirectly against the living God were visited 
with severe punishment, those to whom God had so gloriously 
revealed Himself (ch. ii. 9-11, iii. 1) would be punished still more 
surely for their apostasy (ch. iii. 2). It is with this design that 
Judah is also mentioned along with Israel, and in fact before it. 

CHAP. I. 1, 2. 241 

" The intention was to impress this truth most strongly upon 
the people of the ten tribes, that not even the possession of such 
glorious prerogatives as the temple and the throne of David 
could avert the merited punishment. If this be the energy of 
the justice of God, what have we to look for ?" (Hengstenberg.) 
Ch. i. Ver. 1 contains the heading, which has already 
been discussed in the Introduction ; and ntn IK^R (" which he 
saw") refers to Dioy ^y\ (the words of Amos). Ver. 2 forms 
the Introduction, which is attached to the heading by "IB^ I, 
and announces a revelation of the wrath of God upon Israel, 
or a theocratic judgment. Ver. 2. "Jehovah roars out of Zion, 
and He utters His voice from Jerusalem ; and the pastures of 
the shepherds mourn, and the head of Carmel withers" The 
voice of Jehovah is the thunder, the earthly substratum in 
which the Lord manifests His coming to judgment (see at 
Joel iii. 16). By the adoption of the first half of the verse 
word for word from Joel, Amos connects his prophecy with 
that of his predecessor, not so much with the intention of con 
firming the latter, as for the purpose of alarming the sinners 
who were at ease in their security, and overthrowing the delu 
sive notion that the judgment of God would only fall upon the 
heathen world. This delusion he meefrs with the declaration, 
that at the threatening of the wrath of God the pastures of the 
shepherds, i.e. the pasture-ground of the land of Israel (cf. Joel 
i. 19), and the head of the forest-crowned Carmel, will fade and 
wither. Carmel is the oft-recurring promontory at the mouth 
of the Kishon on the Mediterranean (see the comm. on Josh, 
xix. 26 and 1 Kings xviii. 19), and not the place called Carmel 
on the mountains of Judah (Josh. xv. 55), to which the term 
Wtin (head) is inapplicable (vid. ch. ix. 3 and Mic. vii. 14). 
Shepherds pastures and Carmel individualized the land of 
Israel in a manner that was very natural to Amos the shep 
herd. With this introduction, Amos announces the theme of 
his prophecies. And if, instead of proceeding at once to de 
scribe still further the judgment that threatens the kingdom 
of Israel, he first of all enumerates the surrounding nations, 
including Judah, as objects of the manifestation of the wrath 
of God, this enumeration cannot have any other object than 
the one described in our survey of the contents of the book. 
The enumeration opens with the kingdoms of Aram, Philistia, 
VOL. T. 

2 12 AMOS. 

and Tyre (Phoenicia), which were not related to Israel by any 
ties of kinship whatever. 

Vers. 3-5. ARAM-DAMASCUS. Ver. 3. "Thus saith Jehovah, 
For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I shall not 
reverse it, because they have threshed Gilead with iron rollers, 
Ver. 4. / send fire into the house of Hazael, and it will eat the 
palaces of Ben-hadad, Ver. 5. And break in pieces the bolt of 
Damascus, and root out the inhabitant from the valley of A v en, 
and the sceptre-holder out of Beth-Eden: and the people of Aram 
will wander into captivity to Kir, saith Jehovah" In the 
formula, which is repeated in the case of every people, " for 
three transgressions, and for four," the numbers merely serve 
to denote the multiplicity of the sins, the exact number of 
which has no bearing upon the matter. " The number four is 
added to the number three, to characterize the latter as simply 
set down at pleasure ; in other words, it is as much as to say 
that the number is not exactly three or four, but probably 
a still larger number" (Hitzig). The expression, therefore, 
denotes not a small but a large number of crimes, or " ungodli 
ness in its worst form" (Luther; see at Hos. vi. 2 1 ). That 
these numbers are to be understood in this way, and not to be 
taken in a literal sense, is unquestionably evident from the fact, 
that in the more precise account of the sins which follows, as a 
rule, only one especially grievous crime is mentioned by way 
of example. *3?Bte *6 (I will not reverse it) is inserted before 
the more minute description of the crimes, to show that the 
threat is irrevocable. S OT signifies to turn, i.e. to make a 
thing go back, to withdraw it, as in Num. xxiii. 20, Isa. xliii. 13. 
The suffix attached to 131^ NI refers neither to gold (his voice), 
nor " to the idea of "i^n which is implied in "M?K na (thus saith), 
or the substance of the threatening thunder- voice " (Baur); for 
heshlbh ddbhdr signifies to give an answer, and never to make a 
word ineffectual. The reference is to the punishment threatened 
afterwards, where the masculine stands in the place of the neuter. 
Consequently the close of the verse contains the epexegesis of 

1 J. Marck has correctly explained it thus : "When this perfect number 
(three) is followed by four, by way of gradation, God not only declares 
that the measure of iniquity is full, but that it is filled to overflowing and 
beyond all measure." 

CHAP. 1. 3-5. 243 

the first clause, and vers. 4 and 5 follow with the explanation of 
i:n^ N K^ (I will not turn it). The threshing of the Gileadites 
with iron threshing-machines is mentioned as the principal 
transgression of the Syrian kingdom, which is here named after 
the capital Damascus (see at 2 Sam. viii. 6). This took place 
at the conquest of the Israelitish land to the east of the Jordan 
by Hazael during the reign of Jehu (2 Kings x. 32, 33, cf. 
ch. xiii. 7), when the conquerors acted so cruelly towards the 
Gileadites, that they even crushed the prisoners to pieces with 
iron threshing-machines, according to a barbarous war-custom 
that is met with elsewhere (see at 2 Sam. xii. 31). Chdruts 
(= chdfltSi 2 Sam. xii. 31), lit. sharpened, is a poetical term 
applied to the threshing-roller, or threshing-cart (morag chdruts, 
Isa. xii. 15). According to Jerome, it was " a kind of cart 
with toothed iron wheels underneath, which was driven about 
to crush the straw in the threshing-floors after the grain had 
been beaten out." The threat is individualized historically 
thus : in the case of the capital, the burning of the palaces is 
predicted ; and in that of two other places, the destruction of 
the people and their rulers ; so that both of them apply to 
both, or rather to the whole kingdom. The palaces of Hazael 
and Benhadad are to be sought for in Damascus, the capital 
of the kingdom (Jer. xlix. 27). Hazael was the murderer of 
Benhadad I., to whom the prophet Elisha foretold that he 
would reign ever Syria, and predicted the cruelties that he 
would practise towards Israel (2 Kings viii. 7 sqq.). Benhadad 
is generally regarded as his son; but the plural "palaces" leads 
us rather to think of both the first and second Benhadad, and 
this is favoured by the circumstance that it was only during 
his father s reign that Benhadad II. oppressed Israel, whereas 
after his death, and when he himself ascended the throne, the 
conquered provinces were wrested from him by Joash king of 
Israel (2 Kings xiii. 22-25). The breaking of the bar (the 
bolt of the gate) denotes the conquest of the capital ; and the 
cutting off of the inhabitants of Biq ath-Aven indicates the 
slaughter connected with the capture of the towns, and not 
their deportation ; for hikhrlth means to exterminate, so that 
gdldh (captivity) in the last clause applies to the remainder of 
the population that had not been slain in war. In the parallel 
clause V2V ^Din, the sceptre-holder, i.e. the ruler (either the 

244 AMOS. 

king or his deputy), corresponds to ydshebh (the inhabitant) ; and 
the thought expressed is, that both prince and people, both high 
and low, shall perish. The two places, Valley-Aven and Beth- 
Eden, cannot be discovered with any certainty ; but at any rate 
they were capitals, and possibly they may have been the seat of 
royal palaces as well as Damascus, which was the first capital 
of the kingdom. JJN riyps^ valley of nothingness, or of idols, is 
supposed by Ewald and Hitzig to be a name given to Helio- 
polis or Baalbek, after the analogy of Beth-Aven = Bethel (see 
at Hos. v. 8). They base their opinion upon the Alex, render 
ing e/c TreStov V2z>, taken in connection with the Alex, interpre 
tation of the Egyptian On (Gen. xli. 45) as Heliopolis. But 
as the LXX. have interpreted jN by Heliopolis in the book of 
Genesis, whereas here they have merely reproduced the Hebrew 
letters p by V2y, as they have in other places as well (e.g. Hos. 
iv. 15, v. 8, x. 5, 8), where Heliopolis cannot for a moment be 
thought of, the TT&LOV *flv of the LXX. furnishes no evidence 
in favour of Heliopolis, still less does it warrant an alteration of 
the Hebrew pointing (into Jitf). Even the Chaldee and Syriac 
have taken flK riypa as a proper name, and Ephraem Syrus 
speaks of it as " a place in the neighbourhood of Damascus, 
distinguished for idol-chapels." The supposition that it is a 
city is also favoured by the analogy of the other threatening?, 
in which, for the most part, cities only are mentioned. Others 
understand by it the valley near Damascus, or the present 
Bekaa between Lebanon and Antilibanus, in which Heliopolis 
was always the most distinguished city, and Robinson has pro 
nounced in favour of this (Bill. Res. p. 677). Beth- Eden, i.e. 
house of delight, is not to be sought for in the present village 
of Eden, on the eastern slope of Lebanon, near to the cedar 

forest of Bshirrai, as the Arabic name of this village j^l has 

nothing in common with the Hebrew pV (see at 2 Kings xix. 
12) ; but it is the JTapaSetcro? of the Greeks, which Ptolemy 
(v. 15, 20) places ten degrees south and five degrees east of 
Laodicea, and which Robinson imagines that he has found in 
Old Jusieh, not far from Ribleh, a place belonging to the 
times before the Saracens, with very extensive ruins (see Bibl. 
Researches, pp. 542-6, and 556). The rest of the population 
of Aram would be carried away to Kir, i.e. to the country on 

CHAP. I. 6-8. 

tlie banks of the river Kur, from which, according to cli. ix. 7, 
the Syrians originally emigrated. This prediction was fulfilled 
when the Assyrian king Tiglath-pileser conquered Damascus 
in the time of Ahaz, and broke up the kingdom of Syria 
(2 Kings xvi. 9). The closing words, dmar Y e hovdh (saith 
the Lord), serve to add strength to the threat, and therefore 
recur in vers. 8, 15, and ch. ii. 3. 

Vers. 6-8. PHILISTIA. Yer. 6. " Thus saith Jehovah, For 
three transgressions of Gaza, and for four, I shall not reverse it, 
because they carried away captives in full number to deliver them 
up to Edom, Ver. 7. I send fire into the wall of Gaza, and it will 
eat their palaces; Ver. 8. And I exterminate the inhabitant from 
Ashdod, and the sceptre-holder from Askelon, and turn my hand 
against Ekron, and the remnant of the Philistines will perish, saith 
the Lord Jehovah." Instead of the Philistines generally, the 
prophet mentions Gaza in ver. 6. This is still a considerable 
town, bearing the old name Guzzeh (see the comm. on Josh, 
xiii. 3), and was the one of the five capitals of the Philistines 
which had taken the most active part as a great commercial 
town in handing over the Israelitish prisoners to the Edpmites. 
For it is evident that Gaza is simply regarded as a representa 
tive of Philistia, from the fact that in the announcement of the 
punishment, the other capitals of Philistia are also mentioned. 
Gdluth sh e lemdh is correctly explained by Jerome thus: "a 
captivity so perfect and complete, that not a single captive 
remained who was not delivered to the Idumseans." The 
reference is to captive Israelites, who were carried off by the 
Philistines, and disposed of by them to the Edornites, the arch 
enemies of Israel. Amos no doubt had in his mind the invasion 
of Judah by the Philistines and tribes of Arabia Petrsea in the 
time of Joram, which is mentioned in 2 Chron. xxi. 16, and to 
which Joel had already alluded in Joel iv. 3 sqq., where the 
Phoenicians and Philistines are threatened with divine retri 
bution for having plundered the land, and sold the captive 
Judaeans to the Javanites (lonians). But it by no means 
follows from this, that the " sons of Javan" mentioned in 
Joel iv. 6 are not Greeks, but the inhabitants of the Arabian 
Javan noticed in Ezek. xxvii. 19. The fact was simply this: 
the Philistines sold one portion of the many prisoners, taken 

246 AMOS. 

at that time, to the Edomites, and the rest to the Phoenicians, 
who disposed of them again to the Greeks. Joel simply men 
tions the latter circumstance, because, in accordance with the 
object of his prophecy, his design was to show the wide dis 
persion of the Jews, and their future gathering out of all the 
lands of their banishment. Amos, on the other hand, simply 
condemns the delivering of the captives to Edom, the arch-foe 
of Israel, to indicate the greatness of the sin involved in this 
treatment of the covenant nation, or the hatred which the 
Philistines had displayed thereby. As a punishment for this, 
the cities of Philistia would be burned by their enemies, the 
inhabitants would be exterminated, and the remnant perish. 
Here again, as in vers. 4, 5, the threat is rhetorically indi 
vidualized, so that in the case of one city the burning of the 
city itself is predicted, and in that of another the destruction 
of its inhabitants. (On Ashdod, Askelon, and Ekron, see 
the comm. on Josh. xiii. 3.) ^ ^$n, to return the hand, i.e. 
to turn or stretch it out again (see comm. on 2 Sam. viii. 3). 
The use of this expression may be explained on the ground, that 
the destruction of the inhabitants of Ashdod and Askelon has 
already been thought of as a stretching out of the hand. The 
fifth of the Philistian capitals, Gath, is not mentioned, though 
not for the reason assigned by Kimchi, viz. that it belonged to 
the kings of Judah, or had been conquered by Uzziah, for 
Uzziah had not only conquered Gath and Jabneh, but had 
taken Ashdod as well, and thrown down the walls (2 Chron. 
xxvi. 6), and yet Amos mentions Ashdod ; nor because Gath 
had been taken by the Syrians (2 Kings xii. 18), for this 
Syrian conquest was not a lasting one, and in the prophet s 
time (cf. ch. vi. 2), and even later (cf. Mic. i. 10), it still main 
tained its independence, and was a very distinguished city ; but 
for the simple reason that the individualizing description given 
by the prophet did not require the complete enumeration of all 
the capitals, and the idea of Gath being excepted from the 
fate with which the other cities are threatened, is precluded by 
the comprehensive terms in which the threat is concluded. 
For whilst " the remnant of the Philistines " does indeed de 
note " not the remaining Philistines who had not yet been 
named, but all that was still in existence, and had escaped 
destruction" (ch. ix. 12 and Jer. vi. 9), it nevertheless includes 

CHAP. I. 9-12. 247 

not merely the four states just named, but every part of 
Philistia that had hitherto escaped destruction, so that Gath 
must be included. 

Vers. 9, 10. TYKE or Pn(ENiciA.--Ver. 9. " Thus saith 
Jehovah : For three transgressions of Tyre, and for four, I shall 
not reverse it, because they have delivered up prisoners in full 
number to Edom, and have not remembered the brotherly cove 
nant, Ver. 10. / send Jire into the wall of Tyrus, and it will 
devour their palaces" In the case of Phoenicia, the capital 
only (Tzor, i.e. Tyrus ; see at Josh. xix. 29) is mentioned. 
The crime with which it is charged is similar to the one for 
which the Philistines were blamed, with this exception, that 
instead of Tjpr6 Dntarrity ( V er. 6) we have simply Cn^prr^. 
If, therefore, Tyre is only charged with delivering up the 
captives to Edom, and not with having carried them away, it 
must have bought the prisoners from an enemy of Israel, and 
then disposed of them to Edom. From what enemy they 
were purchased, it is impossible to determine with certainty. 
Probably from the Syrians, in the wars of Hazael and Benhadad 
with Israel ; for there is nothing at variance with this in the 
fact that, when they purchased Israelitish captives in the time 
of Joram, they sold them to Javan. For a commercial nation, 
carrying on so extensive a trade as the Phoenicians did, would 
have purchased prisoners in more than one war, and would also 
have disposed of them as slaves to more nations than one. 
Tyre had contracted all the more guilt through this trade in 
Israelitish slaves, from the fact that it had thereby been un 
mindful of the brotherly covenant, i.e. of the friendly relation 
existing between Israel and itself for example, the friendly 
alliance into which David and Solomon had entered with the 
king of Tyre (2 Sam. v. 11 ; 1 Kings v. 15 sqq.) and also 
from the fact that no king of Israel or Judah had ever made 
war upon Phoenicia. 

Vers. 11, 12. EDOM. Ver. 11. Tims saith Jehovah: For 
three transgressions of Edom, and for four, I shall not reverse it, 
because it pursues its brother with the sword, and stifles its com 
passion, and its anger tears in pieces for ever, and it keeps its 
wrath for ever, Ver. 12. / send Jire into Teman, and it will 

248 AMOS. 

devour the palaces of BozraJi" Edom and the two following 
nations were related to Israel by lineal descent. In the case of 
Edom, Amos does not condemn any particular sins, but simply 
its implacable, mortal hatred towards its brother nation Israel, 
which broke out into acts of cruelty at every possible oppor 
tunity. ^Ptn 1}S^ he annihilates, i.e. suppresses, stifles his 
sympathy or his compassionate love ; this is still dependent 
upon te"n ?y, the preposition T$ continuing in force as a con 
junction before the infinitive (i.e. as equivalent to "IPX 7V), and 
the infinitive passing into the finite verb (cf. ch. ii. 4). In the 
next clause iBK is the subject: its wrath tears in pieces, i.e. 
rages destructively (compare Job xvi. 9, where tdraph is ap 
plied to the wrath of God). In the last clause, on the other 
hand, Edom is again the subject ; but it is now regarded as a 
kingdom, and construed as a feminine, and consequently ^"jay 
is the object, and placed at the head as an absolute noun. 
rniDJP, with the tone upon the penult, (milel) on account of netsach, 
which follows with the tone upon the first syllable, stands for 
rPDt? (it preserves it), the mappik being omitted in the toneless 
syllable (compare Ewald, 249, b). If irnny were the subject, 
the verb would have to be pointed ^OKf. Again, the rendering 
proposed by Ewald, " his fury lies in wait for ever," is pre 
cluded by the fact that "i$, when applied to wrath in Jer. 
iii. 5, signifies to keep, or preserve, and also by the fact that 
lying in wait is generally inapplicable to an emotion. Teman, 
according to Jerome (ad h. /.), is Idumceorum regio quce vergit 
ad australem partem, so that here, just as in ch. ii. 2 and 5, 
the land is mentioned first, and then the capital. 1 Bozrah, 
an important city, supposed to be the capital of Idumsea (see 
comm. on Gen. xxxvi. 33). It was to the south of the 
Dead Sea, and has been preserved in el-Buseireh, a village 
with ruins in Jebal (see Robinson, Pal. ii. p. 570), and must 
not be confounded with Bossra in Hauran (Burckhardt, Syr. 
p. 364). 

1 It is true that, according to Eusebius, Jerome does also mention in 
the Onom. a villa (tap*) named Teman, which was five Roman miles from 
Petra, and in which there was a Roman garrison ; and also that there is a 
Teman in Eastern Hauran (see Wetzstein in Delitzsch s Comm. on Job, 
i. 73) ; but in the Old Testament Teman is never to be understood as re 
ferring to a city. 

CHAP. I. IS- 1 1. 1. 24 ( J 

Vers. 13-15. AMMON. Ver. 13. " Tims saith Jehovah: 
For three transgressions of the sons of Ammon, and for four, 
I shall not reverse it, because they have ripped up the pregnant 
women of Gilead, to widen their border, Ver. 14. I kindle fire in 
the wall of Rabbah, and it will devour its palaces, with the war- 
cry on the day of slaughter, in the storm on the day of the tempest. 
Ver. 15. And their king shall go into captivity, he and his princes 
all at once, saith Jehovah." The occasion on which the Am 
monites were guilty of such cruelty towards the Israelites as 
is here condemned, is not recorded in the historical books of 
the Old Testament ; possibly during the wars of Hazael with 
Israel, when they availed themselves of the opportunity to 
widen their territory by conquering back the land which had 
been wrested from them by Sihon king of the Amorites, and 
was then taken possession of by the Israelites, when he was 
overcome by them, a thing which they had attempted once 
before in the time of Jephthah the judge (Judg. xi. 12 sqq.). 
We may see from Jer. xlix. 1 sqq. that they had taken posses 
sion of the territory of the tribe of Gad, which lay nearest to 
them, though probably not till after the carrying away of the 
tribes beyond Jordan by the Assyrians (2 Kings xv. 29). The 
ripping up of the women with child (see at 2 Kings viii. 12) 
is singled out as the climax of the cruelties which the Am 
monites inflicted upon the Israelites during the war. As a 
punishment for this, their capital was to be burned, and the 
king, with the princes, to wander into exile, and consequently 
their kingdom was to be destroyed. Rabbdh, i.e. the great one, 
is the abbreviated name of the capital ; Rabbah of the children 
of Ammon, which has been preserved in the ruins of Aurdn, 
(see at Deut. iii. 11). The threat is sharpened by the clause 
\S\ nyvina, at the war-cry on the field of battle, i.e. an actual 
fact, when the enemy shall take the city by storm. U1 "W3 is 
a figurative expression applied to the storming of a city carried 
by assault, like HD1D3 in Num. xxi. 14. The reading osta, 
" their (the Ammonites ) king," is confirmed by the LXX. and 
the Chaldee, and required by Vn^l (cf. ch. ii. 3), whereas 
Ma\x6fjL, Melchom, which is found in Aq., Symm., Jerome, and 
the Syriac, rests upon a false interpretation. 

Chap ii. Vers. 1-3. MOAB. Ver. 1. " Thus saith Jehovah : 

250 AMOS. 

For three transgressions of Moab, and for four ,1 shall not reverse 
it, because it has burned the bones of the king of Edom into lime, 
Ver. 2. I send fire into Moab, and it will devour the palaces of 
Kirioth, and Moab will perish in the tumult, in the war-cry, in 
the trumpet-blast. Ver. 3. And 1 cut off the judge from the 
midst thereof, and all its princes do I strangle with it, saith 
Jehovah." The burning of the bones of the king of Edom is 
not burning while he was still alive, but the burning of the 
corpse into lime, i.e. so completely that the bones turned into 
powder like lime (D. Kimchi), to cool his wrath still further 
upon the dead man (cf. 2 Kings xxiii. 16). This is the only 
thing blamed, not his having put him to death. No record has 
been preserved of this event in the historical books of the Old 
Testament ; but it was no doubt connected with the war re 
ferred to in 2 Kings iii., which Joram of Israel and Jehosha- 
phat of Judah waged against the Moabites in company with 
the king of Edom ; so that the Jewish tradition found in 
Jerome, viz. that after this war the Moabites dug up the bones 
of the king of Edom from the grave, and heaped insults upon 
them by burning them to ashes, is apparently not without foun 
dation. As Amos in the case of all the other nations has men 
tioned only crimes that were committed against the covenant 
nation, the one with which the Moabites are charged must have 
been in some way associated with either Israel or Judah, that 
is to say, it must have been committed upon a king of Edom, 
who was a vassal of Judah, and therefore not very long after 
this war, since the Edomites shook off their dependence upon 
Judah in less than ten years from that time (2 Kings viii. 20). 
As a punishment for this, Moab was to be laid waste by the 
fire of war, and Keriyoth with its palaces to be burned down. 
nin|pn is not an appellative noun (rcov TroXecov aur?}?, LXX.), 
but a proper name of one of the chief cities of Moab (cf. Jer. 
xlviii. 24, 41), the ruins of which have been discovered by 
Burckhardt (Syr. p. 630) and Seetzen (ii. p. 342, cf. iv. p. 
384) in the decayed town of Kereyat or Korridt. The appli 
cation of the term J")D to Moab is to be explained on the sup 
position that the nation is personified. |iNB> signifies war 
tumult, and nynro is explained as in ch. i. 14 by "iBi$ ^P?, 
blast of the trumpets, the signal for the assault or for the com 
mencement of the battle. The judge with all the princes shal) 

CHAP. II. 4, 5. 251 

be cut off miqqirldh, i.e. out of the land of Moab. The femi 
nine suffix refers to Moab as a land or kingdom, and not to 
Keriyoth. From the fact that the shophet is mentioned instead 
of the king, it has been concluded by some that Moab had no 
king at that time, but had only a shophet as its ruler ; and they 
have sought to account for this on the ground that Moab was 
at that time subject to the kingdom of the ten tribes (Hitzig and 
Ewald). But there is no notice in the history of anything of 
the kind, and it cannot possibly be inferred from the fact that 
Jeroboam restored the ancient boundaries of the kingdom as 
far as the Dead Sea (2 Kings xiv. 25). Shophet is analogous 
to tomekh shebhet in ch. i. 5, and is probably nothing more than 
a rhetorical expression applied to the *)!?, who is so called in 
the threat against Ammon, and simply used for the sake of 
variety. The threatening prophecies concerning all the nations 
and kingdoms mentioned from ch. i. 6 onwards were fulfilled 
by the Chaldeans, who conquered all these kingdoms, and 
carried the people themselves into captivity. For fuller re 
marks upon this point, see at Jer. xlvii. 49 and Ezek. xxv. 28. 

Vers. 4, 5. JUDAH. Ver. 4. " Thus saith Jehovah : For 
three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I shall not reverse it, 
because they have despised the law of Jehovah, and have not kept 
His ordinances, and their lies led them astray, after which their 
fathers walked, Ver. 5. / send fire into Judali, and it will de 
vour the palaces of Jerusalem." With the announcement that 
the storm of the wrath of God will also burst upon Judah, 
Amos prepares the way for passing on to Israel, the principal 
object of his prophecies. In the case of Judah, he condemns 
its contempt of the law of its God, and also its idolatry. Tordh 
is the sum and substance of all the instructions and all the 
commandments which Jehovah had given to His people as the 
rule of life. Chuqqlm are the separate precepts contained in 
the thordh, including not only the ceremonial commands, but 
the moral commandments also; for the two clauses are not 
only parallel, but synonymous. &[V?T3, their lies, are their 
idols, as we may see from the relative clause, since " walking 
after" (hdlakh achdre) is the standing expression for idolatry. 
Amos calls the idols lies, not only as res quce fallunt (Ges.), 
but as fabrications and nonentities (Vftfrm and hdbhdllm}. 

252 AMOS. 

having no reality in themselves, and therefore quite unable to 
perform what was expected of them. The "fathers" who 
walked after these lies were their forefathers generally, since 
the nation of Israel practised idolatry even in the desert (cf. 
ch. v. 26), and was more or less addicted to it ever afterwards, 
with the sole exception of the times of Joshua, Samuel, David, 
and part of the reign of Solomon, so that even the most godly 
kings of Judah were unable to eradicate the worship upon the 
high places. The punishment threatened in consequence, 
namely, that Jerusalem should be reduced to ashes, was carried 
out by Nebuchadnezzar. 

Vers. 6-16. After this introduction, the prophet s address 
turns to Israel of the ten tribes, and in precisely the same form 
as in the case of the nations already mentioned, announces the 
judgment as irrevocable. At the same time, he gives a fuller 
description of the sins of Israel, condemning first of all the 
prevailing crimes of injustice and oppression, of shameless 
immorality and daring contempt of God (vers. 6-8) ; and 
secondly, its scornful contempt of the benefits conferred by 
the Lord (vers. 9-12), and threatening inevitable trouble in 
consequence (vers. 13-16). Ver. 6. " Thus saith Jehovah : 
For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I shall not re 
verse it, because they sell the righteous for money, and the poor 
for a pair of shoes. Ver. 7. They who pant after dust of the 
earth upon the head of the poor, and bend the way of the meek : 
and a man and his father go to the same girl, to desecrate my 
holy name. Ver. 8. And they stretch themselves upon pawned 
clothes by every altar, and they drink the wine of the punished in 
the house of their God." The prophet condemns four kinds 
of crimes. The first is unjust treatment, or condemnation of 
the innocent in their administration of justice. Selling the 
righteous for silver, i.e. for money, refers to the judges, who 
were bribed to punish a man as guilty of the crime of which 
he was accused, when he was really tsaddiq, i.e. righteous in a 
judicial, not in a moral sense, or innocent of any punishable 
crime. Bakkeseph, for money, i.e. either to obtain money, or 
for the money which they had already received, viz. from the 
accuser, for condemning the innocent, "N3S[?, on account of, 
is not synonymous with 1 pretii ; for they did not sell the 
poor man merely to get a pair of sandals for him, as the worst 

CHAP. II. 6-8. 253 

possible slave was certainly worth much more than this (cf. 
Ex. xxi. 32) ; but the poor debtor who could not pay for a pair 
of shoes, i.e. for the merest trifle, the judge would give up to 
the creditor for a slave, on the strength of the law in Lev. 
xxv. 39 (cf. 2 Kings iv. 1). As a second crime, Amos reproves 
in ver. la their thirst for the oppression of the quiet in the 
land, ri*, TCLTreivol, and DW, irpaels. The address is carried 
on in participles, in the form of lively appeal, instead of quiet 
description, as is frequently the case in Amos (cf. ch. v. 7, vi. 
3 sqq., 13, viii. 14), and also in other books (cf. Isa. xl. 22, 26 ; 
Ps. xix. 11). In the present instance, the article before the 
participle points back to the suffix in E"D, and the finite verb 
is not introduced till the second clause. *)NC>, to gasp, to pant, 
to long eagerly for earth-dust upon the head of the poor, i.e. to 
long to see the head of the poor covered with earth or dust, or 
to bring them into such a state of misery, that they scatter 
dust upon their head (cf. Job ii. 12 ; 2 Sam. i. 2). The ex 
planation given by Hitzig is too far-fetched and unnatural, 
viz. that they grudge the man in distress even the handful of 
dust that he has strewn upon his head, and avariciously long 
for it themselves. To bend the way of the meek, i.e. to bring 
them into a trap, or cast them headlong into destruction by 
impediments and stumblingblocks laid in their path. The way 
is the way of life, their outward course. The idea that the 
way refers to the judgment or legal process is too contracted. 
The third crime is their profanation of the name of God by 
shameless immorality (ver. Ib) ; and the fourth, desecration of 
the sanctuary by drinking carousals (ver. 8). A man and his 
father, i.e. both son and father, go to the girl, i.e. to the prosti 
tute. The meaning is, to one and the same girl ; but achath 
is omitted, to preclude all possible misunderstanding, as though 
going to different prostitutes was allowed. This sin was tan 
tamount to incest, which, according to the law, was to be 
punished with death (cf. Lev. xviii. 7, 15, and xx. 11). Temple 
girls (q deshoth) are not to be thought of here. The profa 
nation of the name of God by such conduct as this does not 
indicate prostitution in the temple itself, such as was required 
by the licentious worship of Baal and Asherah (Ewald, Maurer, 
etc.), but consisted in a daring contempt of the commandments 
of God, as the original passage (Lev. xxii. 32) from which 

254 AMOS. 

Amos took the words clearly shows (cf. Jer. xxxiv. 16). By 
Vmaari) in order that (not "so that"), the profanation of the 
holy name of God is represented as intentional, to bring out 
the daring character of the sin, and to show that it did not 
arise from weakness or ignorance, but was practised with 
studious contempt of the holy God. B e gddlm cJiabhullm, 
pawned clothes, i.e. upper garments, consisting of a large 
square piece of cloth, which was wrapt all around, and served 
the poor for a counterpane as well. If a poor man was obliged 
to pawn his upper garment, it was to be returned to him before 
night came on (Ex. xxii. 25), and a garment so pawned was 
not to be slept upon (Deut. xxiv. 12, 13). But godless usurers 
kept such pledges, and used them as cloths upon which they 
stretched their limbs at feasts (yattu, hiphil, to stretch out, sc. 
the body or its limbs) ; and this they did by every altar, at 
sacrificial meals, without standing in awe of God. It is very 
evident that Amos is speaking of sacrificial feasting, from the 
reference in the second clause of the verse to the drinking of 
wine in the house of God. E^y, punished in money, i.e. 
fined. Wine of the punished is wine purchased by the pro 
duce of the fines. Here again the emphasis rests upon the 
fact, that such drinking carousals were held in the house of 
God. Elohehenij not their gods (idols), but their God ; for 
Amos had in his mind the sacred places at Bethel and Dan, in 
which the Israelites worshipped Jehovah as their God under 
the symbol of an ox (calf). The expression col-mizbeach (every 
altar) is not at variance with this ; for even if col pointed to a 
plurality of altars, these altars were still bamoth, dedicated to 
Jehovah. If the prophet had also meant to condemn actual 
idolatry, i.e. the worship of heathen deities, he would have 
expressed this more clearly ; to say nothing of the fact, that in 
the time of Jeroboam II. there was no heathenish idolatry in 
the kingdom of the ten tribes, or, at any rate, it was not publicly 

And if this daring contempt of the commandments of God 
was highly reprehensible even in itself, it became perfectly in 
excusable if we bear in mind that Israel was indebted to the 
Lord its God for its elevation into an independent nation, and 
also for its sacred calling. For this reason, the prophet rerpinds 
the people of the manifestations of grace which it had received 

CHAP. II. 9, 10. 255 

from its God (vers. 9-11). Ver. 9. "And yet I destroyed the 
Amorite before them, whose height was like the height of the 
cedars, and who was strong as the oaks ; and 1 destroyed his fruit 
from above, and his roots from beneath. Ver. 10. And yet J 
brought you up from the land of Egypt, and led you forty years 
in the desert, to take possession of the land of the Amorite" The 
repeated ^Nl is used with peculiar emphasis, and serves to bring 
out the contrast between the conduct of the Israelites towards 
the Lord, and the fidelity of the Lord towards Israel. Of the 
two manifestations of divine grace to which Israel owed its 
existence as an independent nation, Amos mentions first of all 
the destruction of the former inhabitants of Canaan (Ex. xxiii. 
27 sqq., xxxiv. 11) ; and secondly, what was earlier in point 
of time, namely, the deliverance out of Egypt and guidance 
through the Arabian desert; not because the former act of God 
was greater than the latter, but in order to place first what the 
Lord had done for the nation, and follow that up with what 
He had done to the nation, that he may be able to append to 
this what He still continues to do (ver. 11). The nations de 
stroyed before Israel are called Amorites, from the most power 
ful of the Canaanitish tribes, as in Gen. xv. 16, Josh. xxiv. 15, 
etc. To show, however, that Israel was not able to destroy this 
people by its own strength, but that Jehovah the Almighty 
God alone could accomplish this, he proceeds to transfer to the 
whole nation what the Israelitish spies reported as to their size, 
more especially as. to the size of particular giants (Num. xiii. 
32, 33), and describes the Amorites as giants as lofty as trees 
and as strong as trees, and, continuing the same figure, depicts 
their utter destruction or extermination as the destruction of 
their fruit and of their roots. For this figure of speech, in 
which the posterity of a nation is regarded as its fruit, and the 
kernel of the nation out of which it springs as the root, see 
Ezek. xvii. 9, Hos. ix. 16, Job xviii. 16. These two mani 
festations of divine mercy Moses impressed more than once 
upon the hearts of the people in his last addresses, to urge 
them in consequence to hold fast to the divine commandments 
and to the love of God (cf. Deut. viii. 2 sqq.. ix. 1-6, xxix. 

But Jehovah had not only put Israel into possession of 
Canaan ; He had also continually manifested Himself to it as 

256 AMOS. 

the founder and promoter of its spiritual prosperity. Ver. 11. 
"And I raised up some of your sons as prophets, and some of 
your young men as dedicated ones (Nazirceans). Ah, is it not so, 
ye sons of Israel? is the saying of Jehovah. Ver. 12. But ye 
made the dedicated drink wine, and ye commanded the prophets, 
saying, Ye shall not prophesy" The institution of prophecy 
and the law of the Nazarite were gifts of grace, in which 
Israel had an advantage over every other nation, and by which 
it was distinguished above the heathen as the nation of God 
and the medium of salvation. Amos simply reminds the people 
of these, and not of earthly blessings, which the heathen also 
enjoyed, since the former alone were real pledges of the cove 
nant of grace made by Jehovah with Israel ; and it was in the 
ccfntempt and abuse of these gifts of grace that the ingratitude 
of the nation was displayed in the most glaring light. The 
Nazarites are placed by the side of the prophets, who pro 
claimed to the nation the counsel and will of the Lord, because, 
although as a rule the condition of a Nazarite was merely the 
consequence of his own free will and the fulfilment of a parti 
cular vow, it was nevertheless so far a gift of grace from the 
Lord, that the resolution to perform such a vow proceeded from 
the inward impulse of the Spirit of God, and the performance 
itself was rendered possible through the power of this Spirit 
alone. (For a general discussion of the law of the Nazarite, 
see the commentary on Num. vi. 2-12, and my Biblical Anti 
quities, 67.) The raising up of Nazarites was not only in 
tended to set before the eyes of the people the object of their 
divine calling, or their appointment to be a holy nation of God, 
but also to show them how the Lord bestowed the power to 
carry out this object. But instead of suffering themselves to 
be spurred on by these types to strive earnestly after sancti- 
fication of life, they tempted the Nazarites to break their vow 
by drinking wine, from which they were commanded to ab 
stain, as being irreconcilable with the seriousness of their sanc- 
tification (see my Bibl. Ant. 67) ; and the prophets they 
prohibited from prophesying, because the word of God was 
burdensome to them (cf . ch. vii. 10 sqq. ; Mic. ii. 6). 

This base contempt of their covenant mercies the Lord 
would visit with a severe punishment. Ver. 13. " Behold, I 
will press you down, as the cart presses that is filled with sheaves. 

CHAP. II. 13-16. 257 

Ver. 14. And the flight will be lost to the swift, and the strong 
one will not fortify his strength, and the hero will not deliver 
Ids soul. Ver. 15. And the carrier of the bow will not stand, 
and the swift-footed will not deliver, and the rider of the horse 
tvill not save his soul. Ver. 16. And the courageous one among 
the heroes will flee away naked in that day, is the saying of 
Jehovah." The Lord threatens as a punishment a severe op 
pression, which no one will be able to escape. The allusion is 
to the force of war, under which even the bravest and most 
able heroes will succumb. P^n, from PW, Aramaean for pi, to 
press, construed with tachath, in the sense of Kara, downwards, 
to press down upon a person, i.e. to press him down (Winer, 
Ges., Ewald). This meaning is established by njjy in Ps. Iv. 4, 
and by njJW in Ps. Ixvi. 11 ; so that there is no necessity to 
resort to the Arabic, as Hitzig does, or to alterations of the 
text, or to follow Baur, who gives the word the meaning, " to 
feel one s self pressed under another," for which there is no 
foundation in the language, and which does not even yield a 
suitable sense. The comparison instituted here to the pressure 
of a cart filled with sheaves, does not warrant the conclusion 
that Jehovah must answer to the cart ; the simile is not to be 
carried out to this extent. The object to P W is wanting, but 
may easily be supplied from the thought, namely, the ground 
over which the cart is driven. The ^ attached to "ij^.on be 
longs to the latitude allowed in ordinary speech, and gives to 
n$6p the reflective meaning, which is full in itself, has quite 
filled itself (cf. Ewald, 315, a). In vers. 14-16 the effects of 
this pressure are individualized. No one will escape from it. 
Dijp 13K, flight is lost to the swift, i.e. the swift will not find 
time enough to flee. The allusion to heroes and bearers of the 
bow shows that the pressure is caused by war. ^^n? belong 
together : " He who is light in his feet." The swift-footed will 
no more save his life than the rider upon a horse. te*M in ver. 
15 belongs to both clauses. f*J p?^, the strong in his heart, 
i.e. the hearty, courageous. Diiy, naked, i.e. so as to leave 
behind him his garment, by which the enemy seizes him, like 
the young man in Mark xiv. 52. This threat, which implies 
that the kingdom will be destroyed, is carried out still further 
in the prophet s following addresses. 

VOL. I. B 

258 AMOS. 


Although the expression "Hear this word," which is re 
peated at the commencement of ch. iii. iv. and v., suggests the 
idea of three addresses, the contents of these chapters show that 
they do not contain three separate addresses delivered to the 
people by Amos at different times, but that they group together 
the leading thoughts of appeals delivered by word of mouth, so as 
to form one long admonition to repentance. Commencing with 
the proofs of his right to predict judgment to the nation on 
account of its sins (ch. iii. 1-8), the prophet exposes the wicked 
ness of Israel in general (ch. iii. 9-iv. 3), and then shows the 
worthlessness of the nation s trust in idolatry (ch. iv. 4-13), 
and lastly announces the destruction of the kingdom as the 
inevitable consequence of the prevailing injustice and ungodli 
ness (ch. v. and vi.). 


Because the Lord has chosen Israel to be His people, 
He must visit all its sins (ver. 2), and has commissioned the 
prophet to announce this punishment (vers. 3-8). As Israel 
has heaped up oppression, violence, and wickedness, an enemy 
will come upon the land and plunder Samaria, and cause its 
inhabitants to perish, and demolish the altars of Bethel, and 
destroy the capital (vers. 9-15). 

Vers. 1 and 2 contain the introduction and the leading 
thought of the whole of the prophetic proclamation. Ver. 1. 
" Hear this word which Jehovah speaketh concerning you, sons 
of Israel, concerning the whole family which 1 have brought up out 
of the land of Egypt, saying : Ver. 2. You only have I acknoiv- 
ledged of all the families of the earth; therefore will I visit all 
your iniquities upon you." The word of the Lord is addressed 
to all the family of Israel, which God had brought up out 
of Egypt, that is to say, to all the twelve tribes of the covenant 
nation, although in what follows it is the ten tribes of Israel 
alone who are primarily threatened with the destruction of 
the kingdom, to indicate at the very outset that Judah might 
anticipate a similar fate if it did not turn to its God with 

CHAP. III. 3-8. 259 

sincerity. The threat is introduced by the thought that its 
divine election would not secure the sinful nation against 
punishment, but that, on the contrary, the relation of grace 
into which the Lord had entered with Israel demanded the 
punishment of all evil deeds. This cuts off the root of all false 
confidence in divine election. " To whomsoever much is given, 
of him shall be much required. The greater the measure of 
grace, the greater also is the punishment if it is neglected or 
despised." This is the fundamental law of the kingdom of 
God. JHJ does not mean to know, to become acquainted with, 
or to take knowledge of a person (Hitzig), but to acknowledge. 
Acknowledgment on the part of God is not merely taking 
notice, but is energetic, embracing man in his inmost being, 
embracing and penetrating with divine love ; so that JTP not 
only includes the idea of love and care, as in Hos. xiii. 5, but 
expresses generally the gracious fellowship of the Lord with 
Israel, as in Gen. xviii. 19, and is practically equivalent to 
electing, including both the motive and the result of election. 
And because Jehovah had acknowledged, i.e. had singled out 
and chosen Israel as the nation best fitted to be the vehicle 
of His salvation, He must of necessity punish all its misdeeds, 
in order to purify it from the dross of sin, and make it a holy 
vessel of His saving grace. 

Vers. 3-8. But this truth met with contradiction in the 
nation itself. The proud self-secure sinners would not hear 
such prophesying as this (compare ch. ii. 4, vii. 10 sqq.). 
Amos therefore endeavours, before making any further an 
nouncement of the judgment of God, to establish his right and 
duty to prophesy, by a chain-like series of similes drawn from 
life. Ver. 3. " Do two ivalk together without having agreed ? 
Ver. 4. Does the lion roar in the forest, and he has no prey ? does 
the young lion utter his cry out of his den, without having taken 
anything ? Ver. 5. Does the bird fall into the trap on the ground, 
when there is no snare for him f does the trap rise up from the 
earth without making a capture? Ver. 6. Or is the trumpet blown 
in the city, and the people are not alarmed ? or does misfortune 
happen in the city, and Jehovah has not done it ? Ver. 7. For 
the Lord Jehovah does nothing at all, without having revealed His 
secret to His servants the prophets. Ver. 8. The lion has roared; 
who does not fear f the Lord Jehovah hath spoken; who must not 

260 AMOS. 

prophesy ?" The contents of these verses are not to be re 
duced to the general thought, that a prophet could no more 
speak without a divine impulse than any other effect could 
take place without a cause. There was certainly no need for 
a long series of examples, such as we have in vers. 3-6, to 
substantiate or illustrate the thought, which a reflecting hearer 
would hardly have disputed, that there was a connection between 
cause and effect. The examples are evidently selected with the 
view of showing that the utterances of the prophet originate 
with God. This is obvious enough in vers. 7, 8. The first 
clause, " Do two men walk together, without having agreed as 
to their meeting ? " (no acl, to betake one s self to a place, to 
meet together at an appointed place or an appointed time ; 
compare Job ii. 11, Josh. xi. 5, Neh. vi. 2 ; not merely to 
agree together), contains something more than the trivial truth, 
that two persons do not take a walk together without a previous 
arrangement. The two who walk together are Jehovah and 
the prophet (Cyril) ; not Jehovah and the nation, to which the 
judgment is predicted (Cocceius, Marck, and others). Amos 
went as prophet to Samaria or Bethel, because the Lord had 
sent him thither to preach judgment to the sinful kingdom. 
But God would not threaten judgment if He had not a nation 
ripe for judgment before Him. The lion which roars when 
it has the prey before it is Jehovah (cf. ch. i. 2 ; Hos. xi. 10, 
etc.). M T^ *n.9 is not to be interpreted according to the 
second clause, as signifying " without having got possession of 
its prey " (Hitzig), for the lion is accustomed to roar when it 
has the prey before it and there is no possibility of its escape, 
and before it actually seizes it (cf. Isa. v. 29). 1 On the con 
trary, the perfect Idkhad in the second clause is to be interpreted 
according to the first clause, not as relating to the roar of satis 
faction with wkich the lion devours the prey in its den (Baur), 
but as a perfect used to describe a thing which was as certain 
as if it had already occurred. A lion has made a capture not 

1 The most terrible feature in the roaring of a lion is that with this 
clarigatio, or, if you prefer it, with this classicum, it declares war. And 
after the roar there immediately follows both slaughter and laceration. 
For, as a rule, it only roars with that sharp roar when it has the prey in 
sight, upon which it immediately springs (Bochart, Hieroz. ii. 25 seq., ed. 

CHAP. III. 3-8. 261 

merely when it has actually seized the prey and torn it in pieces, 
but when the prey has approached so near that it cannot pos 
sibly escape. K e phlr is the young lion which already goes in 
pursuit of prey, and is to be distinguished from the young of the 
lion, gur (catulus leonis), which cannot yet go in search of prey 
(cf. Ezek. xix. 2, 3). The two similes have the same meaning. 
The second strengthens the first by the assertion that God not 
only has before Him the nation that is ripe for judgment, but 
that He has it in His power. The similes in ver. 5 do not 
affirm the same as those in ver. 4, but contain the new thought, 
that Israel has deserved the destruction which threatens it. 
Pack, a snare, and moqesh, a trap, are frequently used synony 
mously ; but here they are distinguished, pack denoting a bird- 
net, and moqesh a springe, a snare which holds the bird fast. 
The earlier translators have taken moqesh in the sense of yoqesh, 
and understand it as referring to the bird-catcher ; and Baur 
proposes to alter the text accordingly. But there is no neces 
sity for this ; and it is evidently unsuitable, since it is not 
requisite for a bird-catcher to be at hand, in order that the bird 
should be taken in a snare. The suffix Idh refers to tsippor, 
and the thought is this : in order to catch a bird in the net, a 
springe (gin) must be laid for it. So far as the fact itself is 
concerned, moqesh is " evidently that which is necessarily 
followed by falling into the net ; in this instance it is sinful- 
ness" (Hitzig); so that the meaning of the figure would be this: 
" Can destruction possibly overtake you, unless your sin draws 
you into it?" (cf. Jer. ii. 35.) In the second clause pack is the 
subject, and rpj is used for the ascent or springing up of the 
net. Hitzig has given the meaning of the words correctly : 
" As the net does not spring up without catching the bird, that 
has sent it up by flying upon it. can ye imagine that when the 
destruction passes by, ye will not be seized by it, but will escape 
without injury?" (cf. Isa. xxviii. 15.) Jehovah, however, causes 
the evil to be foretold. As the trumpet, when blown in the 
city, frightens the people out of their self-security, so will the 
voice of the prophet, who proclaims the coining evil, excite a 
salutary alarm in the nation (cf. Ezek. xxxiii. 1-5). For the 
calamity which is bursting upon the city comes from Jehovah, 
is sent by Him as a punishment. This thought is explained 
in vers. 7, 8, and with this explanation the whole series of 

262 AMOS. 

figurative sentences is made perfectly clear. The approaching 
evil, which comes from the Lord, is predicted by the prophet, 
because Jehovah does not carry out His purpose without 
having (DN ""S, for when, except when he has, as in Gen. xxxii. 
27) first of all revealed it to the prophets, that they may warn 
the people to repent and to reform. Sod receives a more precise 
definition from the first clause of the verse, or a limitation to 
the purposes which God is about to fulfil upon His people. 
And since (this is the connection of ver. 8) the judgment with 
which the Lord is drawing near fills every one with fear, and 
Jehovah has spoken, i.e. has made known His counsel to the 
prophets, they cannot but prophesy. 

Amos has thus vindicated his own calling, and the right of 
all the prophets, to announce to the people the judgments of 
God ; and now (vers. 9-15) he is able to proclaim without 
reserve what the Lord has resolved to do upon sinful Israel. 
Ver. 9. "Make it heard over the palaces in Ashdod, and over 
the palaces in the land of Egypt, and say, Assemble yourselves 
upon the mountains of Samaria, and behold the great tumult in the 
midst thereof, and the oppressed in the heart thereof. Ver. 10. 
And they know not to do the right, is the saying of Jehovah, who 
heap up violence and devastation in their palaces." The speaker 
is Jehovah (ver. 10), and the prophets are addressed. Jehovah 
summons them to send out the cry over the palaces in Ashdod 
and Egypt fa as in Hos. viii. 1), and to call the inhabitants of 
these palaces to hear, (1) that they may see the acts of violence, 
and the abominations in the palaces of Samaria ; and (2) that 
they may be able to bear witness against Israel (ver. 13). This 
turn in the prophecy brings out to view the overflowing excess 
of the sins and abominations of Israel. The call of the prophets, 
however, is not to be uttered upon the palaces, so as to be heard 
far and wide (Baur and others), but over the palaces, to cause 
the inhabitants of them to draw near. It is they alone, and 
not the whole population of Ashdod and Egypt, who are to be 
called nigh ; because only the inhabitants of the palace could 
pronounce a correct sentence as to the mode of life commonly 
adopted in the palaces of Samaria. Ashdod, one of the Philis- 
tian capitals, is mentioned by way of example, as a chief city of 
the uncircumcised, who were regarded by Israel as godless 
heathen ; and Egypt is mentioned along with it, as the nation 

CHAP. III. 11, 12. 263 

whose unrighteousness and ungodliness had once been expe 
rienced by Israel to satiety. If therefore such heathen as these 
are called to behold the unrighteous and dissolute conduct to 
be seen in the palaces, it must have been great indeed. The 
mountains of Samaria are not the mountains of the kingdom of 
Samaria, or the mountains upon which the city of Samaria was 
situated for Samaria was not built upon a plurality of moun 
tains, but upon one only (ch. iv. 1, vi. 1) but the mountains 
round about Samaria, from which you could look into the city, 
built upon one isolated hill. The city, built upon the hill of 
Semer, was situated in a mountain caldron or basin, about two 
hours in diameter, which was surrounded on all sides by lofty 
mountains (see at 1 Kings xvi. 24). 1 M e humdh, noise, tumult, 
denotes a state of confusion, in which everything is topsy-turvy, 
and all justice and order are overthrown by open violence 
(Maurer, Baur). Ashuqlm, either the oppressed, or, taken as 
an abstract, the oppression of the poor (cf. ch. ii. 6). In ver. 
10 the description is continued in the finite verb : they do not 
know how to do right ; that is to say, injustice has become their 
nature ; they who heap up sins and violence in their palaces 
like treasures. 

Thus do they bring about the ruin of the kingdom. Ver. 11. 
" Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah, An enemy, and that 
round about the land; and he will hurl down thy glory from thee, 
and thy palaces are plundered. Ver. 12. Thus saith Jehovah, 
As the shepherd delivers out of the mouth of the lion two shin- 
bones or an ear-lappet, so will the sons of Israel deliver them 
selves ; they who sit on the corner of the couch and on the damask 
of the bed." The threat is introduced in the form of an aposio- 
pesis. "ttf, enemy, pKH ^D^ and indeed round about the land 
(l explic. as in ch. iv. 10, etc. ; and Mp in the construct state 
construed as a preposition), i.e. will come, attack the land on 
all sides, and take possession of it. Others regard "> as an 
abstract : oppression (from the Chaldee) ; but in this case we 
should have to supply Jehovah as the subject to "^ "H ; and 
although this is probable, it is by no means natural, as Jehovah 
is speaking. There is no foundation, on the other hand, for the 

1 " As the mountains round the hill of Semer are loftier than this hill 
itself, the enemy might easily discover the internal state of besieged 
Samaria." V. DE VELDE, R. i. p. 282. 

264 AMOS. 

remark, that if tsar signified the enemy, we should either find 
the plural Dny, or "ran with the article (Baumgarten). The 
very indefiniteness of tsar suits the sententious brevity of the 
clause. This enemy will hurl down the splendour of Samaria, 
u which ornaments the top of the mountain like a crown, Isa. 
xxviii. i. 3" (Hitzig : T y, might, with the subordinate idea of 
glory), and plunder the palaces in which violence, i.e. property 
unrighteously acquired, is heaped up (ver. 10). The words are 
addressed to the city of Samaria, to which the feminine suffixes 
refer. On the fall of Samaria, and the plundering thereof, 
the luxurious grandees, who rest upon costly pillows, will only 
be able to save their life to the very smallest extent, and that 
with great difficulty. In the simile used in ver. 12 there is a 
slight want of proportion in the two halves, the object of the 
deliverance being thrown into the background in the second 
clause by the passive construction, and only indicated in the 
verb, to deliver themselves, i.e. to save their life. " A pair of 
shin-bones and a piece (Ha a?ra \ey.\ i.e. a lappet, of the ear," 
are most insignificant remnants. The grandees of Samaria, of 
whom only a few were to escape with their life, are depicted 
by Amos as those who sit on costly divans, without the least 
anxiety, HBp r\$B y the corner of the divan, the most conve 
nient for repose. According to ch. vi. 4, these divans were 
ornamanted with ivory, and according to the verse before us, 
they were ornamented with costly stuffs. P^CT comes from 
P^l, Damascus, and signifies damask) an artistically woven 
material (see Ges. Thes. p. 346). This brings the visitation of 
God to an end. Even the altars and palaces are to be laid in 
ruins, and consequently Samaria will be destroyed. 

This feature in the threat is brought out into peculiar pro 
minence by a fresh introduction. Ver. 13. " Hear ye, and 
testify it to the house of Jacob, is the utterance of the Lord, 
Jehovah, the God of hosts : Ver. 14. Tliat in the day when I 
visit the transgressions of the house of Israel upon it, I shall 
visit it upon the altars of Bethel ; and the horns of the altar will 
be cut off, and fall to the ground. Ver. 15. And I smite the 
winter-house over the summer-house, and the houses of ivory 
perish, and many houses vanish, is the saying of Jehovah" The 
words " Hear ye" cannot be addressed to the Israelites, for they 
could not bear witness against the house of Israel, but must 

CHAP. III. 13-15. 265 

either refer to the prophets, as in ver. 9a ("publish ye"), or to 
the heathen, in which case they correspond to " assemble your 
selves and behold" in ver. 9&. The latter assumption is the 
only correct one, for the context does not assign a sufficient 
motive for an address to the prophets. On the other hand, as 
the heathen have been summoned to convince themselves by 
actual observation of the sins that prevail in Samaria, it is per 
fectly in keeping that they should now hear what is the punish 
ment that God is about to inflict upon Israel in consequence, 
and that they should bear witness against Israel from what 
they have heard. 2 Tjyn, to bear witness towards or against 
(not "in," as Baur supposes). The house of Jacob is the 
whole of Israel, of the twelve tribes, as in ver. 1 ; for Judah was 
also to learn a lesson from the destruction of Samaria. As the 
appeal to the heathen to bear witness against Israel indicates 
the greatness of the sins of the Israelites, so, on the other hand, 
does the accumulation of the names of God in ver. 136 serve to 
strengthen the declaration made by the Lord, who possesses as 
God of hosts the power to execute His threats. *3 introduces 
the substance of what is to be heard. The punishment of the 
sins of Israel is to extend even to the altars of Bethel, the seat 
of the idolatrous image-worship, the hearth and home of the 
religious and moral corruption of the ten tribes. The smiting 
off of the horns of the altar is the destruction of the altars 
themselves, the significance of which culminated in the horns 
(see at Ex. xxvii. 2). The singular hammizbeach (the altar) 
preceded by a plural is the singular of species (cf . Ges. 108, 1), 
and does not refer to any particular one say, for example, 
to the principal altar. The destruction of the palaces and 
houses (ver. 15) takes place in the capital. In the reference to 
the winter-house and summer-house, we have to think primarily 
of the royal palace (cf. Jer. xxxvi. 22); at the same time, 
wealthy noblemen may also have had them, ^JJ, lit. over, so 
that the ruins of one house fall upon the top of another ; then 
"together with," as in Gen. xxxii. 12. \V na, ivory houses, 
houses the rooms of which are decorated by inlaid ivory. Ahab 
had a palace of this kind (1 Kings xxii. 39, compare Ps. xlv. 9). 
D :n D na, not the large houses, but many houses ; for the 
description is rounded off with these words. Along with the 
palaces, many houses will also fall to the ground. The ful- 

266 AMOS. 

filment took place when Samaria was taken by Shalmanezer 
(2 Kings xvii. 5, 6). 


The voluptuous and wanton women of Samaria will be 
overtaken by a shameful captivity (vers. 1-3). Let the Israel 
ites only continue their idolatry with zeal (vers. 4, 5), the Lord 
has already visited them with many punishments without their 
having turned to Him (vers. 6-11) ; and therefore He must 
inflict still further chastisements, to see whether they will not 
at length learn to fear Him as their God (vers. 12, 13). 

Ver. 1. " Hear this word, ye cows of Bashan, that are upon 
the mountain of Samaria, that oppress there the humble and 
crush the poor, that say to their lords, Bring hither, that we may 
drink. Ver. 2. The Lord Jehovah hath sworn by His holi 
ness : behold, days come upon you, that they drag you away 
with hooks, and your last one with fish-hooks. Ver. 3. And ye 
will go out through breaches in the wall, every one before him, 
and be cast away to Harmon, is the saying of Jehovah." The 
commencement of this chapter is closely connected, so far as 
the contents are concerned, with the chapter immediately pre 
ceding. The prophet having there predicted, that when the 
kingdom was conquered by its enemies, the voluptuous grandees 
would perish, with the exception of a very few who would hardly 
succeed in saving their lives, turns now to the voluptuous 
women of Samaria, to predict in their case a shameful trans 
portation into exile. The introduction, " Hear this word," does 
not point therefore to a new prophecy, but simply to a fresh 
stage in the prophecy, so that we cannot even agree with Ewald 
in taking vers. 1-3 as the conclusion of the previous prophecy 
(ch. iii.). The cows of Bashan are well-fed, fat cows, /3oe? 
evrpofyoi, vaccce pingues (Symm., Jer.), as Bashan had fat pas 
tures, and for that reason the tribes that were richest in flocks 
and herds had asked for it as their inheritance (Num. xxxii.). 
The fuller definitions which follow show very clearly that by 
the cows of Bashan, Amos meant the rich, voluptuous, and 
violent inhabitants of Samaria. It is doubtful, however, whether 
he meant the rich and wanton wives of the great, as most of 
the modern commentators follow Theodor., Theodoret, and 

CHAP. IV. 1-3. 267 

others, in assuming ; or " the rulers of Israel, and all the lead 
ing men of the ten tribes, who spent their time in pleasure and 
robbery" (Jerome) ; or " those rich, luxurious, and lascivious 
inhabitants of the palace of whom he had spoken in ch. iii. 9, 10" 
(Maurer), as the Chald., Luther, Calvin, and others suppose, 
and whom he calls cows, not oxen, to denote their effeminacy 
and their unbridled licentiousness. In support of the latter 
opinion we might adduce not only Hos. x. 11, where Ephraim 
is compared to a young heifer, but also the circumstance that 
from ver. 4 onwards the prophecy refers to the Israelites as a 
whole. But neither of these arguments proves very much. 
The simile in Hos. x. 11 applies to Ephraim as a kingdom or 
people, and the natural personification as a woman prepares the 
way for the comparison to an egldli ; whereas voluptuous and 
tyrannical grandees would be more likely to be compared to 
the bulls of Bashan (Ps. xxii. 13). And so, again, the transition 
in ver. 4 to the Israelites as a whole furnishes no help in deter 
mining more precisely who are addressed in vers. 1-3. By the 
cows of Bashan, therefore, we understand the voluptuous women 
of Samaria, after the analogy of Isa. iii. 16 sqq. and xxxii. 9-13, 
more especially because it is only by forcing the last clause of 
ver. 1 that it can be understood as referring to men. WB* for 
njjjot?, because the verb stands first (compare Isa. xxxii. 11). 
The mountain of Samaria is mentioned in the place of the city 
built upon the mountain (see at ch. iii. 9). The sin of these 
women consisted in the tyrannical oppression of the poor, whilst 
they asked their lords, i.e. their husbands, to procure them the 
means of debauchery. For p$y and J*-T3, compare Deut. xxviii. 
33 and 1 Sam. xii. 3, 4, where the two words are already con 
nected, nwiy stands in the singular, because every wife speaks 
in this way to her husband. The announcement of the punish 
ment for such conduct is introduced with a solemn oath, to 
make an impression, if possible, upon the hardened hearts. 
Jehovah swears by His holiness, i.e. as the Holy One, who 
cannot tolerate unrighteousness. ^3 (for) before nan introduces 
the oath. Hitzig takes KfeW as a niphal, as in the similar 
formula in 2 Kings xx. 17 ; but he takes it as a passive used 
impersonally with an accusative, after Gen. xxxv. 26 and other 
passages (though not Ex. xiii. 7). But as N&3 unquestionably 
occurs as a piel in 1 Kings ix. 11, it is more natural to take 

268 AMOS. 

the same form as a piel in this instance also, and whilst inter 
preting it impersonally, to think of the enemy as understood. 
Tsinnoth = tsinnim, Prov. xxii. 5, Job v. 5, nay = $, thorns, 
hence hooks ; so also slroth = slrim, thorns, Isa. xxxiv. 13, 
Hos. ii. 8. Dugdh, fishery ; hence slroth dug ah, fish-hooks. 
Achanth does not mean posterity, or the young brood that has 
grown up under the instruction and example of the parents 
(Hitzig), but simply "the end" the opposite of reshith, the 
beginning. It is " end," however, in different senses. Here 
it signifies the remnant (Chaldee), i.e. those who remain and 
are not dragged away with tsinnoth; so that the thought ex 
pressed is " all, even to the very last" (compare Hengsten- 
berg, Christology, i. p. 368). P^inx has a feminine suffix, 
whereas masculine suffixes were used before (E3nN, DSvjJ) ; the 
universal gender, out of which the feminine was first formed. 
The figure is not taken from animals, into whose noses hooks 
and rings are inserted to tame them, or from large fishes that 
are let down into the water again by nose-hooks ; for the 
technical terms applied to these hooks are nn ? rrin ? and nan 
(cf. Ezek. xxix. 4 ; Job xl. 25, 26) ; but from the catching of 
fishes, that are drawn out of the fish-pond with hooks. Thus 
shall the voluptuous, wanton women be violently torn away or 
carried off from the midst of the superfluity and debauchery 
in which they lived as in their proper element. njKVPi D yiB, to 
go out of rents in the wall, N^ T being construed, as it frequently 
is, with the accusative of the place ; we should say, " through 
rents in the wall," i.e. through breaches made in the wall at 
the taking of the city, not out at the gates, because they had 
been destroyed or choked up with rubbish at the storming of 
the city. " Every one before her," i.e. without looking round 
to the right or to the left (cf. Josh. vi. 5, 20). The words 
njiDinn rttK&lft* are difficult, on account of the air. Xey. 
miDinn, and have not yet been satisfactorily explained. The 
form narofen for feWBto is probably chosen simply for the 
purpose of obtaining a resemblance in sound to njKVn, and is 
sustained by n^fiN for j^N in Gen. xxxi. 6 and Ezek. xiii. 11. 
rfxfa is applied to thrusting into exile, as in Deut. xxix. 27. 
The air. \e<y. njto"jnn within loc. appears to indicate the place 
to which they were to be carried away or cast out. But the 
hiphil njrp^n does not suit this, and consequently nearly all 

CHAP. IV. 1-3. 269 

the earlier translators have rendered it as a passive, a 
crecrOe (LXX.), projiciemini (Jerome) ; so also the Syr. and 
Chald. jinJV Ji^l, " men will carry them away captive." One 
Hebrew codex actually gives the lioplial. And to this reading 
we must adhere ; for the hiphil furnishes no sense at all, since 
the intransitive or reflective meaning, to plunge, or cast one s 
self, cannot be sustained, and is not supported at all by the 
passages quoted by Hitzig, viz. 2 Kings x. 25 and Job xxvii. 
22 ; and still less does haharmondh denote the object cast away 
by the women when they go into captivity. 1 The literal mean 
ing of harmondh or harmon still remains uncertain. According 
to the etymology of D"in, to be high, it apparently denotes a 
high land : at the same time, it can neither be taken as an 
appellative, as Hesselberg and Maurer suppose, " the high 
land ;" nor in the sense of armon, a citadel or palace, as 
Kimchi and Gesenius maintain. The former interpretation is 
open to the objection, that we cannot possibly imagine why 
Amos should have formed a word of his own, and one which 
never occurs again in the Hebrew language, to express the 
simple idea of a mountain or high land ; and the second to 
this objection, that " the citadel" would require something to 
designate it as a citadel or fortress in the land of the enemy. 

1 The Masoretic pointing probably originated in the idea that har- 
mondh, corresponding to the talmudic harmdnd\ signifies royal power or 
dominion, and so Rashi interprets it : "ye will cast away the authority, 
i.e. the almost regal authority, or that pride and arrogance with which 
you bear yourselves to-day" (Ros.). This explanation would be admis 
sible, if it were not that the use of a word which never occurs again in 
the old Hebrew for a thing so frequently mentioned in the Old Testament, 
rendered it very improbable. At any rate, it is more admissible than the 
different conjectures of the most recent commentators. Thus Hitzig, for 
example (Comm. ed. 3), would resolve haharmondh into hdhdr and mondh 
= m e 6ndh ("and ye will plunge headlong to the mountain as a place of 
refuge"). The objections to this are, (1) that hishlikh does not mean to 
plunge headlong ; (2) the improbability of m e ondh being contracted into 
mondh, when Amos has m e 6ndh in ch. iii. 4 ; and lastly, the fact that 
m e ondh means simply a dwelling, not a place of refuge. Ewald would 
read hdhdr rimmondh after the LXX., and renders it, "ye will cast Rim- 
monah to the mountain," understanding by Rimmonah a female deity of 
the Syrians. But antiquity knows nothing of any such female deity ; and 
from the reference to a deity called Rimmort in 2 Kings v. 18, you cannot 
possibly infer the existence of a goddess Rimmonah. The explanation given 
by Schlottmann (Hiob, p. 132) and Paul Botticher (Rudimenta mythologies 

270 AMOS. 

The unusual word certainly points to the name of a land or 
district, though we have no means of determining it more 
precisely. 1 

Vers. 4, 5. After this threat directed against the volup 
tuous women of the capital, the prophecy turns again to 
all the people. In bitter irony, Amos tells them to go on with 
zeal in their idolatrous sacrifices, and to multiply their sin. 
But they will not keep back the divine judgment by so doing. 
Ver. 4. "Go to Bethel, and sin; to Gilgal, multiply sinning; and 
offer your slain-offerings in the morning, your tithes every three 
days. Ver. 5. And kindle praise-offerings of that which is leavened, 
and cry out freewill-offerings, proclaim it; for so ye love it, sons 
of Israel, is the saying of the Lord, of Jehovah" " Amos here 
describes how zealously the people of Israel went on pilgrimage to 
Bethel, and Gilgal, and Beersheba, those places of sacred associa 
tions ; with what superabundant diligence they offered sacrifice 
and paid tithes ; how they would rather do too much than too 
little, so that they even burnt upon the altar a portion of the 
leavened loaves of the praise-offering, which were only intended 
for the sacrificial meals, although none but unleavened bread 
was allowed to be offered ; and lastly, how in their pure zeal 
for multiplying the works of piety, they so completely mistook 

semit. 1848, p. 10) namely, that Jiarmonah is the Phoenician goddess 
Chusarthis, called by the Greeks Ap/uoviex, is still more untenable, since 
Appovice, is no more derived from the. talmudic barman than this is from 
the Sanscrit pramana (Botticher, I.e. p. 40) ; on the contrary, barman 
signifies loftiness, from the Semitic root D"lH, to be high, and it cannot 
be shown that there was a goddess called Harman or Harmonia in the 
Phoenician worship. Lastly, the fanciful idea of Botticher, that Jiarmonah 
is contracted from hdhar rimmdnah, and that the meaning is, "and then 
ye throw, i.e. remove, the mountain (your Samaria) to Rimrnon, that 
ancient place of refuge for expelled tribes" (Judg. xx. 45 sqq.), needs no 

1 Even the early translators have simply rendered haharmondh accord 
ing to the most uncertain conjectures. Thus LXX., tig TO 6 po$ TO Poppoiv 
(al. Peftftetf) ; Aq., mons Armona ; Theod., mons Mona; the Quinta: ex- 
celsus mons (according to Jerome) ; and Theodoret attributes to Theodot. 
v-fyyhov opog. The Chaldee paraphrases it thus: <l D"in niB |Q n&6r6, 
" far beyond the mountains of Armenia." Symmachus also had Armenia, 
according to the statement of Theodoret and Jerome. But this explana 
tion is probably merely an inference drawn from 2 Kings xvii. 23, and 
cannot be justified, as Bochart supposes, on the ground that monah or mon 
is identical with minnl. 

CHAP. IV. 4, 5. 271 

their nature, as to summon by a public proclamation to the 
presentation of freewill-offerings, the very peculiarity of which 
consisted in the fact that they had no other prompting than 
the will of the offerer" (v. Hofmann, Schriftbeweis, ii. 2, p. 373). 
The irony of the summons to maintain their worship comes out 
very distinctly in the words WD1, and sin, or fall away from 
God. fefan i s not a nominative absolute, " as for Gilgal," but 
an accusative, and wa is to be repeated from the first clause. 
The absence of the copula before *2nn does not compel us to 
reject the Masoretic accentuation, and connect 73?an with WS, 
as Hitzig does, so as to obtain the unnatural thought, " sin 
ye towards Gilgal." On Gilgal mentioned along with Bethel 
as a place of idolatrous worship (here and ch. v. 5, as in 
Hos. iv. 15, ix. 15, and xii. 12), see at Hos. iv. 15. Offer 
your slain-offerings labboqer, for the morning, i.e. every 
morning, like lay y 6m in Jer. xxxvii. 21. This is required 
by the parallel lisldoslieth ydmlm, on the three of days, i.e. 
every three days. D^rnt ^? ! J does not refer to the morn 
ing sacrifice prescribed in the law (Num. xxviii. 3) for that is 
always called oldh, not zebach but to slain sacrifices that were 
offered every morning, although the offering of z e bhdchlm every 
morning presupposes the presentation of the daily morning 
burnt-offering. What is said concerning the tithe rests upon 
the Mosaic law of the second tithe, which was to be brought 
every three years (Deut. ^iv. 28, xxvi. 12 ; compare my Bill. 
Arclidol. 71, Anm. 7). The two clauses, however, are not to 
be understood as implying that the Israelites had offered slain 
sacrifices every morning, and tithe every three days. Amos 
is speaking hyperbolically, to depict the great zeal displayed in 
their worship ; and the thought is simply this : " If ye would 
offer slain sacrifices every morning, and tithe every three days, 
ye would only thereby increase your apostasy from the living 
God." The words, "kindle praise-offerings cf that which is 
leavened," have been misinterpreted in various \ T ays. *^, an 
inf. absol. used instead of the imperative (see Ges. 131, 4, b). 
According to Lev. vii. 12-14, the praise-offering (ioddJi) was 
to consist not only of unleavened cakes and pancakes with oil 
poured upon them, but also of cakes of leavened bread. The 
latter, however, were not to be placed upon the alta,;-, but one 
of them was to be assigned to the priest who spxinkled the 

272 AMOS. 

blood, and the rest to be eaten at the sacrificial meal. Amos 
now charges the people with having offered that which was 
leavened instead of unleavened cakes and pancakes, and with 
having burned it upon the altar, contrary to the express pro 
hibition of the law in Lev. ii. 11. His words are not to be 
understood as signifying that, although outwardly the praise- 
offerings consisted of that which was unleavened, according to 
the command of the law, yet inwardly they were so base that 
they resembled unleavened cakes, inasmuch as whilst the 
material of the leaven was absent, the true nature of the 
leaven namely, malice and wickedness was there in all the 
greater quantity (Hengstenberg, Dissertations, vol. i. p. 143 
translation). The meaning is rather this, that they were not 
content with burning upon the altar unleavened cakes made 
from the materials provided for the sacrifice, but that they 
burned some of the leavened loaves as well, in order to offer 
as much as possible to God. What follows answers to this : 
call out n e ddbhoth ) i.e. call out that men are to present freewill- 
offerings. The emphasis is laid upon 1N"}P, which is there 
fore still further strengthened by WB>n. Their calling out 
rfddbhoth) i.e. their ordering freewill-offerings to bp presented, 
was an exaggerated act of zeal, inasmuch as the sacrifices 
which ought to have been brought out of purely spontaneous 
impulse (cf. Lev. xxii. 18 sqq. ; Deut. xii. 6), were turned into 
a matter of moral compulsion, or rather of legal command. 
The words, " for so ye love it." show how this zeal in the 
worship lay at the heart of the nation. It is also evident from 
the whole account, that the worship in the kingdom of the ten 
tribes was conducted generally according to the precepts of the 
Mosaic law. 

Vers. 6-11. But as Israel would not desist from its idola 
trous worship, Je novah would also continue to visit the people 
with judgment^ as He had already done, though without 
effecting any conversion to their God. This last thought is 
explained in vers. 6-11 in a series of instances, in which the ex 
pression nj; DrQBJ N^i (and ye have not returned to me), which 
is repeated five times, depicts in the most thorough manner the 
unwearied love of the Lord to His rebellious children. 

Ver. t\ " And I have also given you cleanness of teeth in all 
your towns, and want of bread in all your places : and ye have 

CHAP. IV. 7-9. 273 

not returned to me, is the saying of Jehovah." The strongly 
adversative ^ Dtt forms the antithesis to DranK : Ye love to 
persist in your idolatry, and yet I have tried all means of 
turning you to me. Cleanness of teeth is explained by the 
parallel "want of bread." The first chastisement, therefore, 
consisted in famine, with which God visited the nation, as He 
had threatened the transgressors that He would do in the law 
(Deut. xxviii. 48, 57). For "W 31B>, compare Hos. xiv. 2. 

Ver. 7. u And I have also withholden the rain from you, in 
yet three months to the harvest ; and have caused it to rain upon 
one city, and I do not cause it to rain upon another. One field is 
rained upon, and the field upon which it does not rain withers. 
Ver. 8. And two, three towns stagger to one town to drink water, 
and are not satisfied : and ye have not returned to me, is the 
saying of Jehovah" The second punishment mentioned is the 
withholding of rain, or drought, which was followed by the 
failure of the harvest and the scarcity of water (cf. Lev. 
xxvi. 19, 20 ; Deut. xxviii. 23). The rain " in yet (i.e. at the 
time when there were yet) three months to the harvest " is the 
so-called latter rain, which falls in the latter half of February 
and the first half of March, and is of the greatest importance 
to the vigorous development of the ears of corn and also of the 
grains. In southern Palestine the harvest commences in the 
latter half of April (Nisan), and falls for the most part in 
May and Jun^ ; but in the northern part of the land it is from 
two to four weeks later (see my Archdologie, i. pp. 33, 34, ii. 
pp. 113, 114), so that in round numbers we may reckon three 
months from the latter rain to the harvest. But in order to 
show the people more clearly that the sending and withholding 
of rain belonged to Him, God caused it to rain here and there, 
upon one town and one field, and not upon others (the imper 
fects from amtlr onwards express the repetition of a thing, 
what generally happens, and timmdter, third pers. fern., is used 
impersonally). This occasioned such distress, that the in 
habitants of the places in which it had not rained were obliged 
to go to a great distance for the necessary supply of water to 
drink, and yet could not get enough to satisfy them. JfO, to 
stagger, to totter, expresses the insecure and trembling walk of 
a man almost fainting with thirst. 

Ver. 9. " I have smitten you with blight and yellowness ; many 
VOL. i. s 

274 AMOS. 

of your gardens, and of your vineyards, and of your Jig-trees, 
and of your olive-trees, the locust devoured; and ye have not 
returned to me, is the saying of Jehovah" The third chastise 
ment consisted in the perishing of the corn by blight, and by the 
ears turning yellow, and also in the destruction of the produce 
of the gardens and the fruits of the trees by locusts. The first 
is threatened in Deut. xxviii. 22, against despisers of the com 
mandments of God ; the second points to the threatenings in 
Deut. xxviii. 39, 40, 42. The infin. constr. harboth is used as 
a substantive, and stands as a noun in the construct state before 
the following words ; so that it is not to be taken adverbially in 
the sense of many times, or often, as though used instead of 
harbeh (cf. Ewald, 280, c). On gdzdm, see at Joel i. 4. The 
juxtaposition of these two plagues is not to be understood as 
implying that they occurred simultaneously, or that the second 
was the consequence of the first ; still less are the two to be 
placed in causal connection with the drought mentioned in vers. 
7, 8. For although such combinations do take place in the 
course of nature, there is no allusion to this in the present 
instance, where Amos is simply enumerating a series of judg 
ments, through which Jehovah had already endeavoured to 
bring the people to repentance, without any regard to the time 
when they occurred. 

The same thing may be said of the fourth chastisement 
mentioned in ver. 10, " / have sent pestilence among you in the 
manner of Egypt, have slain your young men with the sword, 
together with the booty of your horses, and caused the stench of 
your camps to ascend, and that into your nose; and ye have 
not returned to me, is the saying of Jehovah" In the combina 
tion of pestilence and sword (war), the allusion to Lev. xxvi. 
25 is unmistakeable (compare Deut. xxviii. 60, where the 
rebellious are threatened with all the diseases of Egypt). 
!19 T).!?, in the manner (not in the road) of Egypt (com 
pare Isa, x. 24, 26 ; Ezek. xx. 30), because pestilence is epi 
demic in Egypt. The idea that there is any allusion to the 
pestilence with which God visited Egypt (Ex. ix. 3 sqq.), is 
overthrown by the circumstance that it is only a dreadful 
murrain that is mentioned there. The slaying of the youths 
or young men points to overthrow in war, which the Israelites 
endured most grievously in the wars with the Syrians (compare 

CHAP. iv. 11. 275 

2 Kings viii. 12, xiiL 3, 7). &? S D1D *w Dtf does not mean 
together with, or by the side of, the carrying away of your 
horses, i.e. along with the fact that your horses were carried 
away ; for *3& does not mean carrying away captive, but the 
captivity, or the whole body of captives. The words are still 
dependent upon W]?, and affirm that even the horses that had 
been taken perished, a fact which is also referred to in 2 Kings 
xiii. 7. From the slain men and animals forming the camp the 
stench ascended, and that into their noses, " as it were, as an 
azkdrdh of their sins" (Hitzig), but without their turning to 
their God. 

Ver. 11. t( I have destroyed among you, like the destruction 
of God upon Sodom and Gomorrah, and ye were like a brand 
plucked out of the fire ; and ye have not returned to me, is the 
saying of Jehovah" Proceeding from the smaller to the greater 
chastisements, Amos mentions last of all the destruction similar 
to that of Sodom and Gomorrah, i.e. the utter confusion of the 
state, by which Israel was brought to the verge of ruin, so that 
it had only been saved like a firebrand out of the fire. ^Dn 
does not refer to an earthquake, which had laid waste cities and 
hamlets, or a part of the land, say that mentioned in ch. i. 1, 
as Kimchi and others suppose ; but it denotes the desolation of 
the whole land in consequence of devastating wars, more espe 
cially the Syrian (2 Kings xiii. 4, 7), and other calamities, 
which had undermined the stability of the kingdom, as in Isa. 
i. 9. The words W D rita n?BriD3 are taken from Deut. xxix. 
22, where the complete desolation of the land, after the driving 
away of the people into exile on account of their obstinate apos 
tasy, is compared to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. 
By thus playing upon this terrible threat uttered by Moses, the 
prophet seeks to show to the people what has already happened 
to them, and what still awaits them if they do not eventually 
turn to their God. They have again been rescued from the 
threatening destruction like a firebrand out of the fire (Zech. 
iii. 2) by the deliverer whom the Lord gave to them, so that 
they escaped from the power of the Syrians (2 Kings xiii. 5). 
But inasmuch as all these chastisements have produced no fruit 
of repentance, the Lord will now proceed to judgment with His 

Ver. 12. " Therefore thus will I do to thee, Israel; because 

276 AMOS. 

I will do this to tJiee, prepare to meet thy God, Israel. Ver. 13. 
For, behold. He that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, 
and maketh known to man what is his thought; who maketh dawn, 
darkness, and goeth over the high places of the earth, Jehovah 
God of hosts is His name." The punishment which God is now 
about to inflict is introduced with Idkhen (therefore). nk$K n ^ 
cannot point back to the punishment threatened in vers. 2, 3, 
and still less to the chastisements mentioned in vers. 6-11 ; for 
lakhen koh is always used by Amos to introduce what is about to 
ensue, and any retrospective allusion to vers. 6-11 is precluded 
by the future "CTN. What Jehovah is now about to do is not 
expressed here more iratorwm, but may clearly be discerned from 
what follows. " When He has said, < This will I do to thee, 9 He 
is silent as to what He will do, in order that, whilst Israel is left 
in uncertainty as to the particular kind of punishment (which 
is all the more terrible because all kinds of things are ima 
gined), it may repent of its sins, and so avert the things which 
God threatens here" (Jerome). Instead of an announcement of 
the punishment, there follows in the words, a Because I will 
do this to thee (riNT pointing back to nb), prepare to meet thy 
God," a summons to hold themselves in readiness liqra th 
elohlm (in occursum Dei\ i.e. to stand before God thy judge. 
The meaning of this summons has been correctly explained by 
Calvin thus : "When thou seest that thou hast resorted in vain 
to all kinds of subterfuges, since thou never wilt be able to 
escape from the hand of thy judge ; see now at length that 
thou dost avert this last destruction which is hanging over 
thee." But this can only be effected " by true renewal of 
heart, in which men are dissatisfied with themselves, and sub 
mit with changed heart to God, and come as suppliants, praying 
for forgiveness." For if we judge ourselves, we shall not be 
judged by the Lord (1 Cor. xi. 31). This view is shown to be 
the correct one, by the repeated admonitions to seek the Lord 
and live (ch. v. 4, 6 ; cf. ver. 14). To give all the greater 
emphasis to this command, Amos depicts God in ver. 13 as the 
Almighty and Omniscient, who creates prosperity and adver 
sity. The predicates applied to God are to be regarded as 
explanations of T^K, prepare to meet thy God ; for it is He 
who formeth mountains, etc., i.e. the Almighty, and also He 
who maketh known to man intrriD, what man thinketh, not 

CHAP. V. AND VI. 277 

what God thinketh, since ni? = n^ is not applicable to God, 
and is only used ironically of Baal in 1 Kings xviii. 27. The 
thought is this : God is the searcher of the heart (Jer. xvii. 10 ; 
Ps. cxxxix. 2), and reveals to men by prophets the state of their 
heart, since He judges not only the outward actions, but the 
inmost emotions of the heart (cf. Heb. iv. 12). na^ "ine? 
might mean, He turns morning dawn into darkness, since 
may be construed with the accusative of that into which any 
thing is made (compare Ex. xxx. 25, and the similar thought in 
ch. v. 8, that God darkens the day into night)* But both of 
these arguments simply prove the possibility of this explana 
tion, not that it is either necessary or correct. As a rule, 
where nb y occurs, the thing into which anything is made is 
introduced with ? (cf. Gen. xii. 2 ; Ex. xxxii. 10). Here, 
therefore, ? may be omitted, simply to avoid ambiguity. For 
these reasons we agree with Calvin and others, who take the 
words as asyndeton. God makes morning-dawn and dark 
ness, which is more suitable to a description of the creative 
omnipotence of God ; and the omission of the Vav may be 
explained very simply from the oratorical character of the 
prophecy. To this there is appended the last statement : He 
passes along over the high places of the earth, i.e. He rules the 
earth with unlimited omnipotence (see at Deut. xxxii. 13), and 
manifests Himself thereby as the God of the universe, or God 
of hosts. 


The elegy, which the prophet commences in ver. 2, upon 
the fall of the daughter of Israel, forms the theme of the 
admonitory addresses in these two chapters. These addresses, 
which are divided into four parts by the admonitions, " Seek 
Jehovah, and live," in vers. 4 and 6, " Seek good" in ver. 14, 
and the two woes (hoi) in ch. v. 18 and vi. 1, have no other 
purpose than this, to impress upon the people of God the im 
possibility of averting the threatened destruction, and to take 
away from the self-secure sinners the false foundations of their 
trust, by setting the demands of God before them once more. 
In every one of these sections, therefore, the proclamation of 

278 AMOS. 

the judgment returns again, and that in a form of greater and 
greater intensity, till it reaches to the banishment of the whole 
nation, and the overthrow of Samaria and the kingdom (ch. 
v. 27, vi. 8 sqq.), 

Vers. 1-3. The Elegy. Ver. 1. "Hear ye this word, which 
I raise over you; a lamentation, house of Israel. Ver. 2. The 
virgin Israel is fallen ; she does not rise up again ; cast down 
upon her soil ; no one sets her up. Ver. 3. For thus saith the 
Lord Jehovah, The city that goes out by a thousand will retain a 
hundred, and that whicJi goes out by a hundred will retain ten, for 
the house of Israel" njn "Q nn is still further defined in the rela 
tive clause tfl 1PK as nr jp, a mournful song, lit. a lamentation or 
dirge for one who is dead (cf. 2 Sam. i. 17 ; 2 Chron. xxxv. 25). 
"1JPK is a relative pronoun, not a conjunction (for) ; and qlndh 
is an explanatory apposition : which I raise or commence as 
(or " namely ") a lamentation. " House of Israel " is synony 
mous with " house of Joseph " (ver. 6), hence Israel of the ten 
tribes. The lamentation follows in ver. 2, showing itself to be 
a song by the rhythm and by its poetical form. ?%\, to fall, 
denotes a violent death (2 Sam. i. 19, 25), and is here a figure 
used to denote the overthrow or destruction of the kingdom. 
The expression virgin Israel (an epexegetical genitive, not " of 
Israel") rests upon a poetical personification of the population 
of a city or of a kingdom, as a daughter, and wherever the 
further idea of being unconquered is added, as a virgin (see at 
Isa. xxiii. 12). Here, too, the term " virgin " is used to indi 
cate the contrast between the overthrow predicted and the 
original destination of Israel, as the people of God, to be uncon 
quered by any heathen nation whatever. The second clause 
of the verse strengthens the first. V}, to be stretched out or 
cast down, describes the fall as a violent overthrow. The third 
verse does not form part of the lamentation, but gives a brief, 
cursory vindication of it by the announcement that Israel will 
perish in war, even to a very small remnant. N re ^ ers to their 
marching out to war, and *&?, nsp is subordinated to it, as a 
more precise definition of the manner in which they marched 
out (cf. Ewald, 279, b). 

Vers. 4-12. The short, cursory explanation of the reason for 
the lamentation opened here, is followed in vers. 4 sqq. by the 
more elaborate proof, that Israel has deserved to be destroyed, 

CHAP. V. 4-6. 279 

because it has done the very opposite of what God demands of His 
people. God requires that they should seek Him, and forsake 
idolatry, in order to live (vers. 46); but Israel, on the contrary, 
turns right into unrighteousness, without fearing the almighty 
God and His judgment (vers. 7-9). This unrighteousness God 
must punish (vers. 10-12). Ver. 4. u For thus saith Jehovah 
to the house of Israel, Seek ye me, and live. Ver. 5. And seek 
not Bethel, and come not to Gilgal, and go not over to Beersheba : 
for Gilgal repays it with captivity, and Bethel comes to nought. 
Yer. 6. Seek Jehovah, and live ; that He fall not upon the house 
of Joseph like fire, and it devour, and there be none to quench 
it for Bethel" The kl in ver. 4 is co-ordinate to that in ver. 
3, " Seek me, and live," for " Seek me, so shall ye live." For 
this meaning of two imperatives, following directly the one 
upon the other, see Gesenius, 130, 2, and Ewald, 347, b. 
HNi, not merely to remain alive, not to perish, but to obtain 
possession of true life. God can only be sought, however, in 
His revelation, or in the manner in which He wishes to be 
sought and worshipped. This explains the antithesis, " Seek 
not Bethel," etc. In addition to Bethel and Gilgal (see at ch. 
iv. 4), Beersheba, which was in the southern part of Judah, 
is also mentioned here, being the place where Abraham had 
called upon the Lord (Gen. xxi. 33), and where the Lord had 
appeared to Isaac and Jacob (Gen. xxvi. 24 and xlvi. 1 ; see 
also at Gen. xxi. 31). These sacred reminiscences from the 
olden time had caused Beersheba to be made into a place of 
idolatrous worship, to which the Israelites went on pilgrimage 
beyond the border of their own kingdom ("*??) But visiting 
these idolatrous places of worship did no good, for the places 
themselves would be given up to destruction. Gilgal would 
wander into captivity (an expression used here on account of 
the similarity in the ring of ^3 and rbtf r6a). Bethel would 
become dven, that is to say, not " an idol" here, but " nothing 
ness," though there is an allusion to the change of Beth-el 
(God s house) into Beth-dven (an idol-house; see at Hos. iv. 15). 
The Judsean Beersheba is passed over in the threat, because 
the primary intention of Amos is simply to predict the destruc 
tion of the kingdom of the ten tribes. After this warning the 
prophet repeats the exhortation to seek Jehovah, and adds this 
threatening, " that Jehovah come not like fire upon the house 

280 AMOS. 

of Joseph" (tsdlach, generally construed with *al or el, cf. 
Judg. xiv. 1 9, xv. 14, 1 Sam. x. 6 ; here with an accusative, to 
fall upon a person), " and it (the fire) devour, without there 
being any to extinguish it for Bethel." Bethel, as the chief 
place of worship in Israel, is mentioned here for the kingdom 
itself, which is called the " house of Joseph," from Joseph the 
father of Ephraim, the most powerful tribe in that kingdom. 

To add force to this warning, Amos (vers. 7-9) exhibits the 
moral corruption of the Israelites, in contrast with the omnipo 
tence of Jehovah as it manifests itself in terrible judgments. 
Ver. 7. " They that change right into wormwood, and bring 
righteousness down to the earth. Ver. 8. He that maketh the 
seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into 
morning, and darkeneth day to night : that calleth to the waters 
of the sea, and poureth them over the surface of the earth ; 
Jehovah is His name. Ver. 9. Who causeth desolation to flash 
upon the strong, and desolation cometh upon the fortress" The 
sentences in vers. 7 and 8 are written without any connecting 
link. The participle in ver. 7 cannot be taken as an address, 
for it is carried on in the third person (Jiinnlchu), not in the 
second. And hahoph e khlm (who turn) cannot be in apposition 
to Beth-el, since the latter refers not to the inhabitants, but to 
the houses. As Amos is generally fond of a participial con 
struction (cf. ch. ii. 7, iv. 13), so in a spirited address he likes 
to utter the thoughts one after another without any logical 
link of connection. As a matter of fact, hahoph e khlm is con 
nected with beth-yoseph (the house of Joseph), " Seek the Lord, 
ye of the house of Joseph, who turn right into wrong ;" but 
instead of this connection, he proceeds with a simple description, 
" They are turning," etc. La dndh, wormwood, a bitter plant, 
is a figurative term denoting bitter wrong (cf. ch. vi. 12), the 
actions of men being regarded, according to Deut. xxix. 17, as 
the fruits of their state of mind. Laying righteousness on the 
ground (hinmach from nudch) answers to our "trampling 
under feet." Hitzig has correctly explained the train of 
thought in vers. 7 and 8 : " They do this, whereas Jehovah 
is the Almighty, and can bring destruction suddenly upon 
them." To show this antithesis, the article which takes the 
place of the relative is omitted from the participles oseh and 
hophekh. The description of the divine omnipotence com- 

CHAP. V. 7-9. 281 

mences with the creation of the brightly shining stars ; then 
follow manifestations of this omnipotence, which are repeated 
in the government of the world. Klmdh^ lit. the crowd, is the 
group of seven stars, the constellation of the Pleiades. K e sll^ 
the gate, according to the ancient versions the giant, is the con 
stellation of Orion. The two are mentioned together in Job 
ix. 9 and xxxviii. 31 (see Delitzsch on the latter). And He 
also turns the darkest night into morning, and darkens the 
day into night again. These words refer to the regular inter 
change of day and night ; for tsalmdveth, the shadow of death, 
i.e. thick darkness, never denotes the regularly recurring 
gloominess of night, but the appalling gloom of night (Job 
xxiv. 17), more especially of the night of death (Job iii. 5, x. 21, 
22, xxxviii. 17 ; Ps. xliv. 20), the unlighted depth of the heart 
of the earth (Job xxviii. 3), the darkness of the prison (Ps. 
cvii. 10, 14), also of wickedness (Job xii. 22, xxxiv. 22), of suf 
ferings (Job xvi. 16; Jer. xiii. 16; Ps. xxiii. 4), and of spiritual 
misery (Isa. ix. 1). Consequently the words point to the 
judicial rule of the Almighty in the world. As the Almighty 
turns the darkness of death into light, and the deepest misery 
into prosperity and health, 1 so He darkens the bright day of 
prosperity into the dark night of adversity, and calls to the 
waters of the sea to pour themselves over the earth like the 
flood, and to destroy the ungodly. The idea that by the waters 
of the sea, which pour themselves out at the call of God over 
the surface of the earth, we are to understand the moisture 
which rises from the sea and then falls upon the earth as rain, no 
more answers to the words themselves, than the idea expressed 
by Hitzig, that they refer to the water of the rivers and brooks, 
which flow out of the sea as well as into it (Eccles. i. 7). The 
words suggest the thought of terrible inundations of the earth 
by the swelling of the sea, and the allusion to the judgment of 
the flood can hardly be overlooked. This judicial act of the 
Almighty, no strong man and no fortress can defy. With the 
swiftness of lightning He causes desolation to smite the strong 
man. Bdlag, lit. micare, used in the Arabic to denote the 

1 Theodoret has given a correct explanation, though he does not quite 
exhaust the force of the words : " It is easy for Him to turn even the greatest 
dangers into happiness; for by the shadow of death he means great dangers. 
And it is also easy to bring calamity upon those who are in prosperity." 

282 AMOS- 

lighting up of the rays of the dawn, hiphil to cause to light up, 
is applied here to motion with the swiftness of lightning ; it is 
also employed in a purely metaphorical sense for the lighting 
up of the countenance (Ps. xxxix. 14 ; Job ix. 27, x. 20). In 
ver. 96 the address is continued in a descriptive form ; fcOl* has 
not a causative meaning. The two clauses of this verse point to 
the fate which awaits the Israelites who trust in their strength 
and their fortifications (ch. vi. 13). And yet they persist in 

Ver. 10. " They hate the monitor in the gate, and abhor him 
that speaketh uprightly. Ver. 11. Therefore, because ye tread 
upon the poor, and take the distribution of corn from him, ye 
have built houses of square stones, and will not dwell therein ; 
planted pleasant vineyards, and will not drink their wine. Ver. 12. 
For I know how many are your transgressions, and how great 
your sins ; oppressing the righteous, taking atonement money; and 
ye bow down the poor in the gate." However natural it may 
seem to take rprrio and D^Bn ill in ver. 10 as referring to pro 
phets, who charge the ungodly with their acts of unrighteous 
ness, as Jerome does, this explanation is precluded not only by 
basshdar (in the gate), since the gate was not the meeting-place 
of the people where the prophets were accustomed to stand, but 
the place where courts of judgment were held, and all the public 
affairs of the community discussed (see at Deut. xxi. 19) ; but 
also by the first half of ver. 11, which presupposes judicial pro 
ceedings. Mokhlach is not merely the judge who puts down 
unjust accusers, but any one who lifts up his voice in a court of 
justice against acts of injustice (as in Isa. xxix. 21). D^pri "iin, 
he who says what is blameless, i.e. what is right and true : this 
is to be taken generally, and not to be restricted to the accused 
who seeks to defend his innocence. 2yn is a stronger expres 
sion than Wb>. The punishment for this unjust oppression of 
the poor will be the withdrawal of their possessions. The CLTT. 
\ey. boshes is a dialectically different form for DDU ? from D13, 
to trample down (Rashi, Kimchi), analogous to the interchange 
of p 11 ")^ and fl np, a coat of mail, although as a rule w passes 
into D, and not D into w. For the derivation from 5$3, accord 
ing to which DtFQ would stand for win (Hitzig and Tuch on 
Gen. p. 85), is opposed both to the construction with b$ 9 and 
also to the circumstance that Wia means to delay (Ex. xxxii. 1 ; 

CHAP. V. 13. 283 

Judg. v. 28) ; and the derivation suggested by Hitzig from an 
Arabic verb, signifying to carry one s self haughtily towards 
others, is a mere loophole. Taking a gift of corn from the poor 
refers to unjust extortion on the part of the judge, who will 
only do justice to a poor man when he is paid for it. The 
main clause, which was introduced with Idkhen, is continued 
with JVTj V?? * "thus have ye built houses of square stones, and 
shall not dwell therein ;" for "ye shall not dwell in the houses 
of square stones which ye have built." The threat is taken 
from Deut. xxviii. 30, 39, and sets before them the plundering 
of the land and the banishment of the people. Houses built 
of square stones are splendid buildings (see Isa. ix. 9). The 
Teason for this threat is given in ver. 12, where reference is 
made to the multitude and magnitude of the sins, of which 
injustice in the administration of justice is again held up as the 
chief sin. The participles Tft and ^njp? are attached to the 
suffixes of E?W? and D^ntten : your sins, who oppress the 
righteous, attack him, and take atonement money, contrary to 
the express command of the law in Num. xxxv. 31, to take no 
kopher for the soul of a murderer. The judges allowed the 
rich murderer to purchase exemption from capital punishment 
by the payment of atonement money, whilst they bowed down 
the right of the poor. Observe the transition from the parti 
ciple to the third person fern., by which the prophet turns away 
with disgust from these ungodly judges. Bowing down the 
poor is a concise expression for bowing down the right of the 
poor : compare ch. ii. 7 and the warnings against this sin (Ex. 
xxiii. 6 ; Deut. xvi. 19). 

Vers. 13-17. With the new turn that all talking is useless, 
Amos repeats the admonition to seek good and hate evil, if 
they would live and obtain favour with God (vers. 13-15) ; 
and then appends the threat that deep mourning will arise on 
every hand, since God is drawing near to judgment. Ver. 13. 
" Therefore, whoever has prudence at this time is silent, for it is 
an evil time" As Idkhen (therefore) always introduces the 
threatening of divine punishment after the exposure of the sins 
(cf. vers. 11, 16, ch. vi. 7, iv. 12, iii. 11), we might be disposed 
to connect ver. 13 with the preceding verse ; but the contents 
of the verse require that it should be taken in connection with 
what follows, so that Idkhen simply denotes the close connection 


of the two turns of speech, i.e. indicates that the new command 
in vers. 14, 15 is a consequence of the previous warnings. 
Hammaskll, the prudent man, he who acts wisely, is silent. 
K s nn nV3, at a time such as this is, because it is an evil time, not 
however " a dangerous time to speak, on account of the malig 
nity of those in power," but a time of moral corruption, in 
which all speaking and warning are of no avail. It is opposed 
to the context to refer aonn njo to the future, i.e. to the time 
when God will come to punish, in which case the silence would 
be equivalent to not murmuring against God (Rashi and others). 
At the same time, love to his people, and zeal for their deliver 
ance, impel the prophet to repeat his call to them to return. 

Ver. 14. u Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live; and so 
Jehovah the God of hosts may be with you, as ye say. Ver. 1 5. 
Hate evil, and love good, and set up justice in the gate ; perhaps 
Jehovah the God of hosts will show favour to the remnant of 
Joseph" The command to seek and love good is practically 
the same as that to seek the Lord in vers. 4, 6 ; and therefore 
the promise is the same, " that ye may live." But it is only in 
fellowship with God that man has life. This truth the Israel 
ites laid hold of in a perfectly outward sense, fancying that 
they stood in fellowship with God by virtue of their outward 
connection with the covenant nation as sons of Israel or Abra 
ham (cf. John viii. 39), and that the threatened judgment 
could not reach them, but that God would deliver them in 
every time of oppression by the heathen (cf. Mic. iii. 11 ; Jer. 
vii. 10). Amos meets this delusion with the remark, " that 
Jehovah may be so with you as ye say." J3 neither means " in 
case ye do so" (Rashi, Baur), nor " in like manner as, i.e. if 
ye strive after good" (Hitzig). Neither of these meanings 
can be established, and here they are untenable, for the simple 
reason that J3 unmistakeably corresponds with the following 
"itJW3. It means nothing more than u so as ye say." The 
thought is the following : " Seek good, and not evil : then will 
Jehovah the God of the heavenly hosts be with you as a helper 
in distress, so as ye say." This implied that in their present 
condition, so long as they sought good, they ought not to com 
fort themselves with the certainty of Jehovah s help. Seeking 
good is explained in ver. 15 as loving good, and this is still 
further defined as setting up justice in the gate, i.e. maintaining 

CHAP. V. 16, 17. 285 

a righteous administration of justice at the place of judgment ; 
and to this the hope, so humiliating to carnal security, is at 
tached : perhaps God will then show favour to the remnant of 
the people. The emphasis in these words is laid as much upon 
perhaps as upon the remnant of Joseph. The expression 
"perhaps He will show favour" indicates that the measure of 
Israel s sins was full, and no deliverance could be hoped for 
if God were to proceed to act according to His righteous 
ness. The " remnant of Joseph" does not refer to " the exist 
ing condition of the ten tribes" (Ros., Hitzig). For although 
Hazael and Benhadad had conquered the whole of the land of 
Gilead in the times of Jehu and Jehoahaz, and had annihilated 
the Israelitish army with the exception of a very small remnant 
(2 Kings x. 32, 33, xiii. 3, 7), Joash and Jeroboam n. had 
recovered from the Syrians all the conquered territory, and 
restored the kingdom to its original bounds (2 Kings xiii. 23 
sqq., xiv. 26-28). Consequently Amos could not possibly de 
scribe the state of the kingdom of the ten tribes in the time of 
Jeroboam II. as " the remnant of Joseph." As the Syrians 
had not attempted any deportation, the nation of the ten tribes 
during the reign of Jeroboam was still, or was once more, all 
Israel. If, therefore, Amos merely holds out the possibility of 
the favouring of the remnant of Joseph, he thereby gives dis 
tinctly to understand, that in the approaching judgment Israel 
will perish with the exception of a remnant, which may possibly 
be preserved after the great chastisement (cf. ver. 3), just as 
Joel (iii. 5) and Isaiah (vi. 13, x. 21-23) promise only the sal 
vation of a remnant to the kingdom of Judah. 

This judgment is announced in vers. 16, 17. Ver. 16. 
" Therefore thus saith Jehovah the God of hosts, the Lord : In 
all roads lamentation! and in all streets will men say, Alas! 
alas ! and they call the husbandman to mourning, and lamenta 
tion to those skilled in lamenting. Ver. 17. And in all vine 
yards lamentation, because I go through the midst of thee, saith 
Jehovah" Ldkhen (therefore) is not connected with the ad 
monitions in vers. 14, 15, nor can it point back to the reproaches 
in vers. 7, 10-12, since they are too far off : it rather links on 
to the substance of ver. 13, which involves the thought that all 
admonition to return is fruitless, and the ungodly still persist 
in their unrighteousness, a thought which also forms the back- 

28G AMOS. 

ground of vers. 14, 15. The meaning of vers. 16, 17 is, that 
mourning and lamentation for the dead will fill both city and 
land. On every hand will there be dead to weep for, because 
Jehovah will go judging through the land. The roads and 
streets are not merely those of the capital, although these are 
primarily to be thought of, but those of all the towns in the 
kingdom. Misped is the death-wail. This is evident from the 
parallel dmar ho ho, saying, Alas, alas ! i.e. striking up the 
death-wail (cf. Jer. xxii. 18). And this death-wail will not be 
heard in all the streets of the towns only, but the husbandman 
will also be called from the field to mourn, i.e. to weep for 
one who has died in his house. The verb WJjJ, they call, 
belongs to " 5>K 1BD, they call lamentation to those skilled in 
mourning: for they call out the wordmisped to the professional 
mourners ; in other words, they send for them to strike up 
their wailing for the dead. H3 TV (those skilled in mourning) 
are the public wailing women, who were hired when a death 
occurred to sing mourning songs (compare Jer. ix. 16, Matt, 
ix. 23, and my Bibl. Archdologie, ii. p. 105). Even in all the 
vineyards, the places where rejoicing is generally looked for 
(ver. 11 ; Isa. xvi. 10), the death- wail will be heard. Ver. lib 
mentions the event which occasions the lamentation everywhere. 
*?, for (not " if") I go through the midst of thee. These words 
are easily explained from Ex. xii. 12, from which Arnos has 
taken them. Jehovah there says to Moses, " I pass through 
the land of Egypt, and smite all the first-born." And just as 
the Lord once passed through Egypt, so will He now pass 
judicially through Israel, and slay the ungodly. For Israel is 
no longer the nation of the covenant, which He passes over 
and spares (ch. vii. 8, viii. 2), but has become an Egypt, which 
He will pass through as a judge to punish it. This threat is 
carried out still further in the next two sections, commencing 
with hoi. 

Vers. 18-27. The first turn. Ver. 18. " Woe to those who 
desire the day of Jehovah ! What good is the day of Jehovah 
to you? It is darkness, and not light. Ver. 19. As if a man 
fleet/I before the lion, and the bear meets him ; and he comes into 
the house, and rests his hand upon the wall, and the snake bites 
him. Ver. 20. Alas ! is not the day of Jehovah darkness, and 
not light; and gloom, and no brightness in it?" As the Israelites 

CHAP. V. 18-20. 287 

rested their hope of deliverance from every kind of hostile 
oppression upon their outward connection with the covenant 
nation (ver. 14) ; many wished the day to come, on which 
Jehovah would judge all the heathen, and redeem Israel out of 
all distress, and exalt it to might and dominion above all 
nations, and bless it with honour and glory, applying the 
prophecy of Joel in ch. iii. without the least reserve to Israel 
as the nation of Jehovah, and without considering that, accord 
ing to Joel ii. 32, those only would be saved on the day of 
Jehovah who called upon the name of the Lord, and were 
called by the Lord, i.e. were acknowledged by the Lord as His 
own. These infatuated hopes, which confirmed the nation in 
the security of its life of sin, are met by Amos with an excla 
mation of woe upon those who long for the day of Jehovah to 
come, and with the declaration explanatory of the woe, that 
that day is darkness and not light, and will bring them nothing 
but harm and destruction, and not prosperity and salvation. 
He explains this in ver. 19 by a figure taken from life. To 
those who wish the day of Jehovah to come, the same thing 
will happen as to a man who, when fleeing from a lion, meets 
a bear, etc. The meaning is perfectly clear : whoever would 
escape one danger, falls into a second ; and whoever escapes 
this, falls into a third, and perishes therein. The serpent s bite 
in the hand is fatal. " In that day every place is full of danger 
and death ; neither in-doors nor out-of-doors is any one safe : 
for out-of-doors lions and bears prowl about, and in-doors 
snakes lie hidden, even in the holes of the walls" (C. a. Lap.). 
After this figurative indication of the sufferings and calamities 
which the day of the Lord will bring, Amos once more repeats 
in ver. 20, in a still more emphatic manner (&6n ? nonne = 
assuredly), that it will be no day of salvation, sc. to those who 
seek evil and not good, and trample justice and righteousness 
under foot (vers. 14, 15). 

This threatening judgment will not be averted by the 
Israelites, even by their feasts and sacrifices (vers. 21, 22). 
The Lord has no pleasure in the feasts which they celebrate. 
Their outward, heartless worship, does not make them into the 
people of God, who can count upon His grace. Ver. 21. " / 
hate, I despise your feasts, and do not like to smell your holy 
day*. Ver. 22. For if ye offer me burnt-offerings, and your 

288 AMOS. 

meat-offerings, I have no pleasure therein ; and the thank- 
offering of your fatted calves I do not regard. Ver. 23. Put 
away from me the noise of thy songs ; and I do not like to hear 
the playing of thy harps. Ver. 24. And let judgment roll like 
water y and righteousness like an inexhaustible stream." By the 
rejection of the opus operatum of the feasts and sacrifices, the 
roots are cut away from the false reliance of the Israelites upon 
their connection with the people of God. The combination of 
the words ^pN ^fiOB> expresses in the strongest terms the 
dislike of God to the feasts of those who were at enmity with 
Him. Chagglm are the great annual feasts ; atsdroth, the 
meetings for worship at those feasts, inasmuch as a holy meet 
ing took place at the dtsereth of the feast of Passover and feast 
of Tabernacles (see at Lev. xxiii. 36). Ridcli^ to smell, is an 
expression of satisfaction, with an allusion to the nirro !T1, which 
ascended to God from the burning sacrifice (see Lev. xxvi. 
31). Kl, in ver. 22, is explanatory : " for," not " yea." The 
observance of the feast culminated in the sacrifices. God did 
not like the feasts, because He had no pleasure in the sacrifices. 
In ver. 23a the two kinds of sacrifice, oldh and minchdh, are 
divided between the protasis and apodosis, which gives rise to a 
certain incongruity. The sentences, if written fully, would read 
thus : When ye offer me burnt-offerings and meat-offerings, 
I have no pleasure in your burnt-offerings and meat-offerings. 
To these two kinds the shelem, the health-offering or peace- 
offering, is added as a third class in ver. 226. B^ID, fattened 
things, generally mentioned along with bdqdr as one particular 
species, for fattened calves (see Isa. i. 11). In ")pn (ver. 23) 
Israel is addressed as a whole. T?.^ fan, the noise of thy songs, 
answers to the strong expression "ipn. The singing of their 
psalms is nothing more to God than a wearisome noise, which 
is to be brought to an end. Singing and playing upon harps 
formed part of the temple worship (vid. 1 Chron. xvi. 40, xxiii. 
5, and xxv.). Isaiah (Isa. i. 11 sqq.) also refuses the heartless 
sacrifice and worship of the people, who have fallen away from 
God in their hearts. It is very clear from the sentence which 
Amos pronounces here, that the worship at Bethel was an imi 
tation of the temple service at Jerusalem. If, therefore, with 
ch. vi. 1 in view, where the careless upon Mount Zion and 
in Samaria are addressed, we are warranted in assuming that 

CHAP. V. 25-27. 289 

here also the prophet has the worship in Judah in his mind as 
well ; the words apply primarily and chiefly to the worship of the 
kingdom of the ten tribes, and therefore even in that case they 
prove that, with regard to ritual, it was based upon the model 
of the temple service at Jerusalem. Because the Lord has no 
pleasure in this hypocritical worship, the judgment shall pour 
like a flood over the land. The meaning of ver. 24 is not, " Let 
justice and righteousness take the place of your sacrifices." 
Mishpdt is not the justice to be practised by men ; for " although 
Jehovah might promise that He would create righteousness in 
the nation, so that it would fill the land as it were like a flood 
(Isa. xi. 9), He only demands righteousness generally, and not 
actually in floods" (Hitzig). Still less can mishpdt uts e ddqdh 
be understood as relating to the righteousness of the gospel 
which Christ has revealed. This thought is a very far-fetched 
one here, and is only founded upon the rendering given to 7|)l, 
et revelabitur (Targ., Jerome, = ?}]!), whereas 73* comes from 
7?\ 9 to roll, to roll along. The verse is to be explained according 
to Isa. x. 22, and threatens the flooding of the land with judg 
ment and the punitive righteousness of God (Theod. Mops., 
Theodoret, Cyr., Kimchi, and others). 

Their heartless worship would not arrest the flood of divine 
judgments, since Israel had from time immemorial been ad 
dicted to idolatry. Ver. 25. " Save ye offered me sacrifices and 
gifts in the desert forty years, house of Israel? Ver. 26. 
But have ye borne the booth of your king and the pedestal of your 
images, the star of your gods, which ye made for yourselves ? 
Ver. 27. Then I will carry you beyond Damascus, saith Jehovah ; 
God of hosts is His name" The connection between these 
verses and what precedes is explained by Hengstenberg thus : 
" All this (the acts of worship enumerated in vers. 21-23) can 
no more be called a true worship, than the open idolatry in the 
wilderness. Therefore (ver. 17) as in that instance the out 
wardly idolatrous people did not tread the holy land, so now 
will the inwardly idolatrous people be driven out of the holy 
land" (Dissertations on the Pentateuch, vol. i. p. 157 transl.). 
But if this were the train of thought, the prophet would not 
have omitted all reference to the punishment of the idolatrous 
people in the wilderness. And as there is no such allusion 
here, it is more natural to take vers. 25 and 26, as Calvin does, 
VOL. i. T 

200 AMOS. 

and regard the reference to the idolatry of the people, which 
was practised even in the wilderness, as assigning a further 
reason for their exposure to punishment. 1 The question, " Have 
ye offered me sacrifices?" is equivalent to a denial, and the 
words apply to the nation as a whole, or the great mass of the 
people, individual exceptions being passed by. The forty years 
are used as a round number, to denote the time during which 
the people were sentenced to die in the wilderness after the 
rebellion at Kadesh, just as in Num. xiv. 33, 34, and Josh. v. 6, 
where this time, which actually amounted to only thirty-eight 
years, is given, as it is here, as forty years. And " the prophet 
could speak all the more naturally of forty years, since the 
germ of apostasy already existed in the great mass of the 
people, even when they still continued outwardly to maintain 
their fidelity to the God of Israel" (Hengstenberg). During 
that time even the circumcision of the children born in the 
thirty-eight years was suspended (see at Josh. v. 5-7), and the 
sacrificial worship prescribed by the law fell more and more 
into disuse, so that the generation that was sentenced to die out 
offered no more sacrifices. Z e bhdchim (slain-offerings) and min- 
chdh (meat-offerings), i.e. bleeding and bloodless sacrifices, are 
mentioned here as the two principal kinds, to denote sacrifices 
of all kinds. We cannot infer from this that the daily sacrificial 
worship was entirely suspended : in Num. xvii. 11, indeed, the 
altar-fire is actually mentioned, and the daily sacrifice assumed 
to be still in existence ; at the same time, the event there 
referred to belonged to the time immediately succeeding the 
passing of the sentence upon the people. Amos mentions the 
omission of the sacrifices, however, not as an evidence that the 
blessings which the Lord had conferred upon the people were 
not to be attributed to the sacrifices they had offered to Him, 

1 " In this place," says Calvin, " the prophet proves more clearly, that 
he is not merely reproving hypocrisy among the Israelites, or the fact that 
they only obtruded their external pomps upon the notice of God, without 
any true piety of heart, but he also condemns their departure from the 
precepts of the law. And he shows that this was not a new disease among 
the Israelitish people, since their fathers had mixed up such leaven as this 
with the worship of God from the very beginning, and had thereby cor 
rupted that worship. He therefore shows that the Israelites had always 
been addicted to superstitions, and could not be kept in any way whatever 
to the true and innate worship of God." 

CHAP. V. 25-27. 201 

as Ephraem Syrus supposes, nor to support the> assertion that 
God does not need or wish for their worship, for which Hitzig 
appeals to Jer. vii. 22 ; but as a proof that from time imme 
morial Israel has acted faithlessly towards its God, in adducing 
which he comprehends all the different generations of the 
people in the unity of the house of Israel, because the existing 
generation resembled the contemporaries of Moses in character 
and conduct. Ver. 26 is attached in an adversative sense : 
" To me (Jehovah) ye have offered no sacrifices, but ye have 
borne," etc. The opposition between the Jehovah-worship 
which they suspended, and the idol-worship which they carried 
on, is so clearly expressed in the verbs DHl^arT and DnKSW, which 
correspond to one another, that the idea is precluded at once as 
altogether untenable, that " ver. 26 refers to either the present 
or future in the form of an inference drawn from the preced 
ing verse : therefore do ye (or shall ye) carry the hut of your 
king," etc. Moreover, the idea of the idols being carried into 
captivity, which would be the meaning of fc^J in that case, is 
utterly foreign to the prophetical range 0f thought. It is not 
those who go into captivity who carry their gods away with 
them ; but the gods of a vanquished nation are carried away 
by the conquerors (Isa. xlvi. 1). To give a correct interpreta 
tion to this difficult verse, which has been, explained in various 
ways from the very earliest times, it is necessary, above all 
things, to beat in mind the parallelism of the clauses. Whereas 
in the first half of the verse the two objects are connected 
together by the copula 1 (n^l.), the omission of both fitf and the 
copula 1 before 3313 indicates most obviously that Bp/nfrK 3312 
does not introduce a third object in addition to the two pre 
ceding ones, but rather that the intention is to define those 
objects more precisely ; from which it follows still further, that 
D33^D map and D3TO1> F> S 3 do not denote two different kinds 
of idolatry, but simply two different forms of the very same 
idolatry. The two air. \e<y. sikkuth and kiyyun are undoubtedly 
appellatives, notwithstanding the fact that the ancient versions 
have taken kiyyun as the proper name of a deity. This is 
required by the parallelism of the members ; for D3^ stands 
in the same relation to p 3 as D33ta to mao. The plural D3^, 
however, cannot be in apposition to the singular p 3 (kiyyun, 
your images), but must be a genitive governed by it : " the 


kiyyun of your images." And in the same way D33ta is the 
genitive after ni3D : " the sikkuth of your king." Sikkuth has 
been taken in an appellative sense by all the ancient translators. 
The LXX. and Symm. render it TTJV cncrjvtfv ; the Peshito, 
Jerome, and the Ar. tentorium. The Chaldee has retained 
sikkuth. The rendering adopted by Aquila, ava-Kiacr/jLos, is 
etymologically the more exact ; for sikkuth, from SJ3D, to shade, 
signifies a shade or shelter, hence a covering, a booth, and 
is not to be explained either from sdkhath, to be silent, from 
which Hitzig deduces the meaning " block," or from the Syriac 
and Chaldee word NH3D, a nail or stake, as Rosenmiiller and 
Ewald suppose. pi*3, from fi3, is related to |3, basis (Ex. xxx. 
18), and njtoo, and signifies a pedestal or framework. The 
correctness of the Masoretic pointing of the word is attested 
by the kiyyun of the Chaldee, and also by E? P?, inasmuch 
as the reading |V3, which is given in the LXX. and Syr., 
requires the singular Bf&K, which is also given in the Syriac. 
D )pi?y are images of gods, as in Num. xxxiii. 52, 2 Kings xi. 18. 
The words vK 3313 which follow are indeed also governed by 
"DriNK 3 ; but, as the omission of HK1 clearly shows, the connec 
tion is only a loose one, so that it is rather to be regarded as 
in apposition to the preceding objects in the sense of " namely, 
the star of your god;" and there is no necessity to alter the 
pointing, as Hitzig proposes, and read 3313, " a star was your 
god," although this rendering expresses the sense quite cor 
rectly. D^npx 3313 is equivalent to the star, which is your god, 
which ye worship as your god (for this use of the construct 
state, see Ges. 116, 5). By the star we have to picture to 
ourselves not a star formed by human hand as a representation 
of the god, nor an image of a god with the figure of a star upon 
its head, like those found upon the Ninevite sculptures (see 
Layard). For if this had been what Amos meant, he would 
have repeated the particle HN1 before 3313. The thought is 
therefore the following : the king whose booth, and the images 
whose stand they carried, were a star which they had made 
their god, i.e. a star-deity ("icte refers to D 3^%, not to 3313). 
This star-god, which they worshipped as their king, they had 
embodied in ts e ldmlm. The booth and the stand were the 
things used for protecting and carrying the images of the star- 
god. Sikkuth was no doubt a portable shrine, in which the 

CHAP. V. 25-27. ( J 

image of the deity was kept. Such shrines (yaol, vaicncoi) were 
used by the Egyptians, according to Herodotus (ii. 63) and 
Diodorus Sic. (i. 97) : they were " small chapels, generally 
gilded and ornamented with flowers and in other ways, in 
tended to hold a small idol when processions were made, and 
to be carried or driven about with it" (Drumann, On the Rosetta 
Inscription, p. 211). The stand on which the chapel was 
placed during these processions was called Trao-ro^optov (Dru 
mann, p. 212); the bearers were called iepa<p6poi, or Traa-ro- 
(popot, (D. p. 226). This Egyptian custom explains the prophet s 
words : "the hut of your king, and the stand of your images," 
as Hengstenberg has shown in his Dissertations on the Penta 
teuch, vol. i. p. 161), and points to Egypt as the source of the 
idolatry condemned by Amos. This is also favoured by the 
fact, that the golden calf which the Israelites worshipped at 
Sinai was an imitation of the idolatry of Egypt ; also by the 
testimony of the prophet Ezekiel (ch. xx. 7 sqq.), to the effect 
that the Israelites did not desist even in the wilderness from 
the abominations of their eyes, namely the idols of Egypt ; and 
lastly, by the circumstance that the idea of there being any 
allusion in the words to the worship of Moloch or Saturn is 
altogether irreconcilable with the Hebrew text, and cannot be 
historically sustained, 1 whereas star-worship, or at any rate the 

1 This explanation of the words is simply founded upon the rendering 
of the LXX. : Kiel ai/s/.a/Ssrg rv)v ax-w^v TOV MoAo ps xoci TO oLarpov TOV Qsov 
vftav PaiQav, rov$ TVTTQV:, ovs tTrotyirxTe eotvTotg. These translators, there 
fore, have not only rendered D33ta erroneously as MoXo x;, but have arbi 
trarily twisted the other words of the Hebrew text. For the Hebrew 
reading D33/>!3 is proved to be the original one, not only by the rov 
uv of Symm. and Theod., but also by the Max^o^c of Aquila 

and the ^OO*~1\V) of the Peshito ; and all the other ancient translators 
enter a protest against the displacing of the other words. The name 
P;<paj> ( P(p#i/), OT PtjxQuv (Acts vii. 43), however, owes its origin 
simply to the false reading of the unpointed p^ as fQ H, inasmuch as in 
the old Hebrew writing not only is 3 similar to "), but ) is also similar to gj ; 
and in 2 Sam. xxii. 12, where D^ETT^n is rendered axoros (i.e. D3K>n) 
vboiTuv, we have an example of the interchange of 3 and 1. There was no 
god Rephan or Rempha ; for the name never occurs apart from the LXX. 
The statement made in the Arabico-Coptic list of planets, edited by Ath. 
Kircher, that Suhhel (the Arabic name of Saturn) is the same as P^pa*, 
and the remark found in a Coptic MS. on the Acts of the Apostles, " Rephan 

294 AMOS. 

worship of the sun, was widely spread in Egypt from the 
very earliest times. According to the more recent investiga 
tions into the mythology of the ancient Egyptians which have 
been made by Lepsius (Transactions of the Academy of Science 
at Berlin, 1851, p. 157 sqq.), "the worship of the sun was the 
oldest kernel and most general principle of the religious belief 
of Egypt;" and this "was regarded even down to the very latest 
times as the outward culminating point of the whole system of 

deus temporis" prove nothing more than that Coptic Christians supposed 
the Rephan or Remphan, whose name occurred in their version of the Bible 
which was founded upon the LXX., to be the star Saturn as the god of 
time ; but they by no means prove that the ancient Egyptians called 
Saturn Rephan, or were acquainted with any deity of that name, since the 
occurrence of the Greek names Tx/a and 2eA^>j for sun and moon are a 
sufficient proof of the very recent origin of the list referred to. It is true 

p * 

that the Peshito has also rendered |V3 by ^O^O (|V3), by which the 
Syrians understood Saturn, as we may see from a passage of Ephraem 
Syrus, quoted by Gesenius in his Comm. on Isaiah (ii. p. 344), where this 
father, in his Sermones adv. hser. s. 8, when ridiculing the star- worshippers, 
refers to the Kevan, who devoured his own children. But no further 
evidence can be adduced in support of the correctness of this explanation 
of |Y3. The corresponding use of the Arabic Kaivan for Saturn, to which 
appeal has also been made, does not occur in any of the earlier Arabic 
writings, but has simply passed into the Arabic from the Persian ; so that 
the name and its interpretation originated with the Syrian church, passing 
thence to the Persians, and eventually reaching the Arabs through them. 
Consequently the interpretation of Kevan by Saturn has no higher worth 
than that of an exegetical conjecture, which is not elevated into a truth by 
the fact that pi3 is mentioned in the Cod. Nazar. i. p. 54, ed. Norb., in 
connection with Nebo, Bel, and Nerig (= Nergal). With the exception of 
these passages, and the gloss of a recent Arabian grammarian cited by 
Bochart, viz. " Keivan signifies Suhhel," not a single historical trace can 
be found of Kevan having been an ancient oriental name of Saturn ; so 
that the latest supporter of this hypothesis, namely Movers (JPlwnizier, i. 
p. 290), has endeavoured to prop up the arguments already mentioned in 
his own peculiar and uncritical manner, by recalling the Phoenician and 
Babylonian names, San-Choniath, Kyn-el-Adan, and others. Not even the 
Grseco-Syrian fathers make any reference to this interpretation. Theodoret 
cannot say anything more about MoXo ^ KXI Pstpdv, than that they were 
eftahav ovo^aroe. ; and Theod. Mops, has this observation on Peptpait : (petal 
Se rov tufftyopov OVT&) KXToi ryv Hfipaiav yhuTTotv. It is still very doubtful, 
therefore, whether the Alexandrian and Syrian translators of Amos really 
supposed PotfQoiv and jvs to signify Saturn ; and this interpretation, 
whether it originated with the translators named, or was first started by 

CHAP. V. 25-27. 295 

religion" (Lepsius, p. 193). The first group of deities of 
Upper and Lower Egypt consists of none but sun-gods (p. 188). 1 
Ra,i.e. Helios, is the prototype of the kings, the highest potency 
and prototype of nearly all the gods, the king of the gods, and 
he is identified with Osiris (p. 194). But from the time of 
Menes, Osiris has been worshipped in This and Abydos; whilst 
in Memphis the bull Apis was regarded as the living copy of 
Osiris (p. 191). According to Herodotus (ii. 42), Osiris and 
Isis were the only gods worshipped by the ancient Egyptians ; 
and, according to Diodorus Sic. (i. 11), the Egyptians were 
said to have had originally only two gods, Helios and Selene, 
and to have worshipped the former in Osiris, the latter in Isis. 
The Pan of Mendes appears to have also been a peculiar form 
of Osiris (cf. Diod. Sic. i. 25, and Leps. p. 175). Herodotus 
(ii. 145) speaks of this as of primeval antiquity, and reckons it 

later commentators upon these versions, arose in all probability simply from 
a combination of the Greek legend concerning Saturn, who swallowed his 
own children, and the Moloch who was worshipped with the sacrifice of 
children, and therefore might also be said to devour children ; that is 
to say, it was merely an inference drawn from the rendering of DDS/ D 
as MOAO X. But we are precluded from thinking of Moloch-worship, or 
regarding D33te, " your king," as referring to Moloch, by the simple 
circumstance that D^n^K 3313 unquestionably points to the Sabsean 
(sidereal) character of the worship condemned by Amos, whereas nothing 
is known of the sidereal nature of Moloch ; and even if the sun is to be 
regarded as the physical basis of this deity, as Miinter, Creuzer, and others 
conjecture, it is impossible to discover the slightest trace in the Old Testa 
ment of any such basis as this. 

The Alexandrian translation of this passage, which we have thus shown 
to rest upon a misinterpretation of the Hebrew text, has acquired a greater 
importance than it would otherwise possess, from the fact that the proto- 
martyr Stephen, in his address (Acts vii. 42, 43), has quoted the words of 
the prophet according to that version, simply because the departure of the 
Greek translation from the original text was of no consequence, so far as 
his object was concerned, viz. to prove to the Jews that they had always 
resisted the Holy Ghost, inasmuch as the Alex, rendering also contains 
the thought, that their fathers worshipped the arpoinx rov wpctvov. 

1 It is true, that in the first divine sphere Ra occupies the second place 
according to the Memphitic doctrine, namely, after Phtha (Hephsestos), 
and according to the Theban doctrine, Amen ("A^<w^). Mentu and Atmu 
stand at the head (Leps. p. 186) ; but the two deities, Mentu, i.e. the 
rising sun, and Atmu, i.e. the setting sun, are simply a splitting up of Ra ; 
and both Hephsestos and Amon (Amon-Rd) were placed at the head of the 
gods at a later period (Leps. pp. 187, 189). 

296 AMOS. 

among the eight so-called first gods ; and Diodorus Sic. (i. 18) 
describes it as BiafapovTws VTTO TWV AlyvTrrlcov Ti^fievov. It 
was no doubt to these Egyptian sun-gods that the star-god 
which the Israelites carried about with them in the wilderness 
belonged. This is all that can at present be determined con 
cerning it. There is not sufficient evidence to support Heng- 
stenberg s opinion, that the Egyptian Pan as the sun-god was 
the king worshipped by them. It is also impossible to establish 
the identity of the king mentioned by Amos with the D^jjS? in 
Lev. xvii. 7, since these B HWj even if they are connected with 
the goat-worship of Mendes, are not exhausted by this goat- 

The prophet therefore affirms that, during the forty years 
journey through the wilderness, Israel did not offer sacrifices 
to its true King Jehovah, but carried about with it a star made 
into a god as the king of heaven. If, then, as has already been 
observed, we understand this assertion as referring to the great 
mass of the people, like the similar passage in Isa. xliii. 23, it 
agrees with the intimations in the Pentateuch as to the attitude 
of Israel. For, beside the several grosser outbreaks of rebel 
lion against the Lord, which are the only ones recorded at all 
circumstantially there, and which show clearly enough that it 
was not devoted to its God with all its heart, we also find traces 
of open idolatry. Among these are the command in Lev. xvii., 
that every one who slaughtered a sacrificial animal was to 
bring it to the tabernacle, when taken in connection with the 
reason assigned, namely, that they were not to offer their 
sacrifices any more to the S e lrim, after which they went a 
whoring (ver. 7), and the warning in Deut. iv. 19, against 
worshipping the sun, moon, and stars, even all the host of 
heaven, from which we may infer that Moses had a reason for 
this, founded upon existing circumstances. After this further 
proof of the apostasy of Israel from its God, the judgment 
already indicated in ver. 24 is still further defined in ver. 27 
as the banishment of the people far beyond the borders of the 
land given to it by the Lord, where higldh evidently points 
back to yiggal in ver. 24. ? n ?r?P, lit. " from afar with regard 
to," i.e. so that when looked at from Damascus, the place 
showed itself afar off, i.e. according to one mode of viewing it, 
" far beyond Damascus." 

CHAP VI. 1-3. 297 

Ch. vi. The prophet utters the second woe over the care 
less heads of the nation, who were content with the existing 
state of things, who believed in no divine judgment, and who 
revelled in their riches (vers. 1-6). To these he announces 
destruction and the general overthrow of the kingdom (vers. 
711), because they act perversely, and trust in their own 
power (vers. 12-14). Ver. 1. " Woe to the secure upon Zion, 
and to the careless upon the mountain of Samaria, to the chief men 
of the first of the nations, to whom the house of Israel comes ! 
Ver. 2. Go over to Calneh, and see ; and proceed thence to 
Hamath, the great one : and go down to Gath of the Philistines : 
are they indeed better than these kingdoms ? or is their territory 
greater than your territory ? Ver. 3. Ye ivho keep the day of 
calamity far off, and bring the seat of violence near" This woe 
applies to the great men in Zion and Samaria, that is to say, 
to the chiefs of the whole of the covenant nation, because they 
were all sunk in the same godless security ; though special 
allusion is made to the corrupt leaders of the kingdom of the 
ten tribes, whose debauchery is still further depicted in what 
follows. These great men are designated in the words ^pJ 
D^ian JW&n, as the heads of the chosen people, who are known 
by name. As jn JVB &n is taken from Num. xxiv. 20, so "OpJ is 
taken from Num. i. 17, where the heads of the tribes who were 
chosen as princes of the congregation to preside over the num 
bering of the people are described as men rrit?3 tojM "IPX, who 
were defined with names, i.e. distinguished by names, that is to 
say, well-known men ; and it is used here in the same sense. 
Observe, however, with reference to D)fan JVPN"}., that in Num. 
xxiv. 20 we have not Q^2n, but simply 0^3 JW&o. Amalek is 
so called there, as being the first heathen nation which rose up 
in hostility to Israel. On the other hand, D Un i is the firstling 
of the nations, i.e. the first or most exalted of all nations. 
Israel is so called, because Jehovah had chosen it out of all 
the nations of the earth to be the people of His possession 
(Ex. xix. 5 ; cf . 2 Sam. vii. 23). In order to define with still 
greater precision the position of these princes in the congrega 
tion, Amos adds, "to whom the house of Israel cometh," namely, 
to have its affairs regulated by them as its rulers. These 
epithets were intended to remind the princes of the people of 
both kingdoms, " that they were the descendants of those tribe- 

298 AMOS. 

princes who had once been honoured to conduct the affairs of 
the chosen family, along with Moses and Aaron, and whose 
light shone forth from that better age as brilliant examples of 
what a truly theocratical character was" (Hengstenberg, Dis 
sertations^ i. p. 148). To give still greater prominence to the 
exalted calling of these princes, Amos shows in ver. 2 that 
Israel can justly be called the firstling of the nations, since it 
is not inferior either in prosperity or greatness to any of the 
powerful and prosperous heathen states. Amos names three 
great and flourishing capitals, because he is speaking to the 
great men of the capitals of the two kingdoms of Israel, and 
the condition of the whole kingdom is reflected in the circum- 


stances of the capital. Calneh ( Calno, Isa. x. 9) is the later 
Ctesiphon in the land of Shinar, or Babylonia, situated upon 
the Tigris opposite to Seleucia (see at Gen. x. 10) ; hence the 
expression ray, because men were obliged to cross over the 
river (Euphrates) in order to get there. Hamath : the capital 
of the Syrian kingdom of that name, situated upon the Orontes 
(see at Gen. x. 18 and Num. xxxiv. 8.) There was not another 
Hamath, as Hitzig supposes. The circumstance that Amos 
mentions Calneh first, whereas it was much farther to the east, 
so that Hamath was nearer to Palestine than Calneh was, may 
be explained very simply, from the fact that the enumeration 
commences with the most distant place and passes from the 
north-east to the south-west, which was in the immediate 
neighbourhood of Israel. Gatli : one of the five capitals of 
Philistia, and in David s time the capital of all Philistia (see at 
Josh. xiii. 3, 2 Sam. viii. 1). The view still defended by Baur 
namely, that Amos mentions here three cities that had either lost 
their former grandeur, or had fallen altogether, for the purpose 
of showing the self-secure princes of Israel that the same fate 
awaited Zion and Samaria is groundless and erroneous ; for 
although Calneh is spoken of in Isa. x. 9 as a city that had 
been conquered by the Assyrians, it cannot be proved that this 
was the case as early as the time of Amos, but is a simple in 
ference drawn from a false interpretation of the verse before 
us. Nor did Jeroboam II. conquer the city of Hamath on the 
Orontes, and incorporate its territory with his own kingdom 
(see at 2 Kings xiv. 25). And although the Philistian city 
Oath was conquered by Uzziah (2 Chron. xxvi. 6), we cannot 

CHAP. VI. 4-6. 299 

infer from 2 Chron. xxvi. 6, or from the fact of Gath not being 
mentioned in Amos i. 6-8, that this occurred before the time 
of Amos (see at ch. i. 8). On the other hand, the fact that it 
is placed by the side of Hamath in the passage before us, is 
rather a proof that the conquest did not take place till after 
wards. Ver. 2b states what the princes of Israel are to see in 
the cities mentioned, namely, that they are not better off (DUiCD 
denoting outward success or earthly prosperity) than these two 
kingdoms, i.e. the kingdoms of Judah and Israel, and that their 
territories are not larger than theirs. It is very evident that 
this does not apply to cities that have been destroyed. The 
double question n . . . DK requires a negative answer. Ver. 3 
assigns the reason for the woe pronounced upon the sinful 
security of the princes of Israel, by depicting the godless con 
duct of these princes ; and this is appended in the manner 
peculiar to Amos, viz. in participles. These princes fancy that 
the evil day, i.e. the day of misfortune or of judgment and 
punishment, is far away (0*^9, piel of rn: = T13 ? to be far off, 
signifies in this instance not to put far away, but to regard 
as far off) ; and they go so far as to prepare a seat or throne 
close by for wickedness and violence, which must be followed 
by judgment. ra$ B^n, to move the sitting (shebheth from 
ydsliabli) of violence near, or better still, taking shebheth in 
the sense of enthroning, as Ewald does, to move the throne of 
violence nearer, i.e. to cause violence to erect its throne nearer 
and nearer among them. 

This forgetfulness of God shows itself more especially in 
the reckless licentiousness and debauchery of these men. Ver. 
4. " They who lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves 
upon their couches, and eat lambs from the flock, and calves 
out of the fattening stall. Ver. 5. Who prattle to the tune of the 
harp ; like David, they invent string instruments. Ver. 6. Who 
drink wine out of sacrificial bowls, and anoint themselves with 
the best oils, and do not afflict themselves for the hurt of Joseph." 
They lie stretched, as it were poured out (D^rnp), upon beds 
inlaid with ivory, to feast and fill their belly with the flesh of 
the best lambs and fattened calves, to the playing of harps and 
singing, in which they take such pleasure, that they invent new 
kinds of playing and singing. The air. \ey. pdrat, to strew 
around (cf. peret in Lev. xix. 10), in Arabic to throw many 

300 AMOS. 

useless words about, to gossip, describes the singing at the 
banquets as frivolous nonsense. W v3, articles or instruments 
of singing, are not musical instruments generally, but, as we 
may see from 2 Chron. xxxiv. 12, compared with 2 Chron. 
xxix. 26, 27, and 1 Chron. xxiii. 5, the stringed instruments that 
were either invented by David (e.g. the nebel), or arranged by 
him for the sacred song of the temple, together with the pecu 
liar mode of playing them ; in other words, " the playing upon 
stringed instruments introduced by David." Consequently the 
meaning of ver. 5 is the following: As David invented stringed 
instruments in honour of his God in heaven, so do these princes 
invent playing and singing for their god, the belly. The 
meaning to invent or devise, which Baur will not allow to 2CTI, 
is established beyond all doubt by Ex. xxxi. 4. They drink 
thereby out of sacrificial bowls of wine, i.e. drink wine out of 
sacrificial bowls, nn^ with 3, as in Gen. xliv. 5. Mizraq, in 
the plural mizrdqlm and mizrdqothj from zaraq, to sprinkle, 
was the name given both to the vessels used for the sprinkling 
of the blood, and also to the bowls made use of for pouring 
the libation of wine upon the table of shew-bread (2 Chron. 
iv. 8). This word is applied by Amos to the bowls out of 
which the gluttons drank their wine ; with special reference to 
the offering of silver sacrificial bowls made by the tribe-princes 
at the consecration of the altar (Num. viL), to show that 
whereas the tribe-princes of Israel in the time of Moses mani 
fested their zeal for the service of Jehovah by presenting sacri 
ficial bowls of silver, the princes of his own time showed just 
as much zeal in their care for their god, the belly. Mizrdqlm 
does not mean " rummers, or pitchers used for mixing wine." 
Lastly, Amos refers to their anointing themselves with the 
firstling of the oils, i.e. the best oils, as a sign of unbridled 
rejoicing, inasmuch as the custom of anointing was suspended 
in time of mourning (2 Sam. xiv. 2), for the purpose of append 
ing the antithesis vH3 NT), they do not afflict or grieve them 
selves for the ruin of Israel. Shebher, breach, injury, destruction. 
Joseph signifies the people and kingdom of the ten tribes. 

Vers. 7-11. Announcement of Punishment. Ver. 7. 
" Therefore will they now go into captivity at the head of the 
captives, and the shouting of the revellers will depart? Because 
these revellers do not trouble themselves about the ruin of 

CHAP. VI 8-11. 301 

Israel, they will now be obliged to wander into captivity at the 
head of the people (of. 1 Kings xxi. 9), when the approaching 
shebher occurs. D^li E N"O is chosen with direct reference to 
D JBP n^*TI, as Jerome has observed : " Ye who are first in 
riches will be the first to bear the yoke of captivity." S e ruchim 
also points back to ver. 4, "those who are stretched upon their 
couches" that is, the revellers; and it forms a play upon 
words with mirzach. HTO signifies a loud cry, here a joyous 
cry, in Jer. xvi. 5 a cry of lamentation. 

This threat is carried out still further in vers. 8-11. Ver. 
8. " The Lord JehovaJi hath sworn by Himself, is the saying of 
Jehovah, the God of hosts : I abhor the pride of Jacob, and his 
palaces I hate; and give up the city, and the fulness thereof. 
Ver. 9. And it will come to pass, if ten men are left in a house, 
*hey shall die. Ver. 10. And when his cousin lifts him up, 
and he that burieth him, to carry out the bones out of the house, 
and saith to the one in the hindermost corner of the house, Is 
there still any one with thee ? and he says, Not one ; then will 
he say, Hush ; for the name of Jehovah is not to be invoked. 
Ver. 11. For, behold, Jehovah commandeth, and men smite the 
great house to ruins, and the small house into shivers." In order 
to show the secure debauchees the terrible severity of the judg 
ments of God, the Lord announces to His people with a solemn 
oath the rejection of the nation which is so confident in its own 
power (cf. ver. 13). The oath runs here as in ch. iv. 2, with 
this exception, that instead of tenpa we have ^^ in the same 
sense ; for the nephesh of Jehovah, His inmost being or self, is 
His holiness. 2Nn ? with the guttural softened, for 2ynD. The 
participle describes the abhorrence as a continued lasting feel 
ing, and not a merely passing emotion. 2pJ fiN|, the loftiness 
or pride of Jacob, i.e. everything of which Jacob is proud, the 
true and imaginary greatness and pride of Israel, which in 
cluded the palaces of the voluptuous great men, for which 
reason they are placed in parallelism with jp p&O. This glory 
of Israel Jehovah abhors, and He will destroy it by giving up 
the city (Samaria), and all that fills it (houses and men), to the 
enemies to be destroyed. "^pn, to give up to the enemy, as in 
Deut. xxxii. 30 and Ob. 14 ; not to surround, to which 8*60* 
is unsuitable. The words not only threaten surrounding, or 
siege, but also conquest, and (ver. 11) the destruction of the 

302 AMOS. 

city. And then, even if there are ten in one house, they will 
all perish. B^K : people, men. Ten in one house is a large 
number, which the prophet assumes as the number, to give the 
stronger emphasis to the thought that not one will escape from 
death. This thought is still further explained in ver. 10. A 
relative comes into the house to bury his deceased blood-rela 
tion. The suffix to iNKtt refers to the idea involved in Vip, a 
dead man. Dod, literally the father s brother, here any near 
relation whose duty it was to see to the burial of the dead. 
fppp for *r$?p, the burner, i.e. the burier of the dead. The 
Israelites were indeed accustomed to bury their dead, and not 
to burn the corpses. The description of the burier as m e sdreph 
(a burner) therefore supposes the occurrence of such a multi 
tude of deaths that it is impossible to bury the dead, whose 
corpses are obliged to be burned, for the purpose of preventing 
the air from being polluted by the decomposition of the corpses. 
Of course the burning did not take place at the house, as 
Hitzig erroneously infers from D pS| *0tf r6 ; for D pVJJ denotes 
the corpse here, as in Ex. xiii. 19, Josh. xxiv. 32, and 2 Kings 
xiii. 21, and not the different bones of the dead which remained 
without decomposition or burning. The burier now asks the 
last living person in the house, who has gone to the very back of 
the house in order to save his life, whether there is any one still 
with him, any one still living in the house beside himself, and 
receives the answer, DSK (adv.), "Nothing more;" whereupon 
he says to him, has, "Be still," answering to our Hush! because 
he is afraid that, if he goes on speaking, he may invoke the 
name of God, or pray for the mercy of God ; and he explains 
his words by adding, " The name of Jehovah must not be men 
tioned." It is not Amos who adds this explanation, but the 
relation. Nor does it contain "the words of one who despairs 
of any better future, and whose mind is oppressed by the weight 
of the existing evils, as if he said, Prayers would be of no use, 
for we too must die " (Livel., Ros.). T?f$ *&, " it is not to 
(may not) be mentioned," would be unsuitable as an utterance 
of despair. It rather indicates the fear lest, by the invocation 
of the name of God, the eye of God should be drawn towards 
this last remaining one, and he also should fall a victim to the 
judgment of death. This judgment the Lord accomplishes not 
merely by a pestilence which breaks out during the siege, and 

CHAP. VI. 12-14. 303 

rages all around (there is no ground for any such limitation of 
the words), but also by sword and plague during the siege and 
conquest of the town. For the reason assigned for the threat 
in ver. 11 points to the latter. *3 links the words to the main 
thought in ver. 11, or even ver. 106 : " When the Lord delivers 
up the city and all that fills it, they will all perish ; for, behold, 
He commands, orders the enemy (the nation in ver. 14), and it 
will smite in pieces the houses, great and small." The singular 
JVSn is used with indefinite generality : every house, great and 
small (cf. ch. iii. 15). 

Vers. 12-14. This judgment also, they, with their perver 
sion of all right, will be unable to avert by their foolish trust 
in their own power. Ver. 12. " Do horses indeed run upon the 
rocky or do men plough (there) with oxen, that ye turn justice 
into poison, and the fruit of righteousness into wormwood? Ver. 
13. They who rejoice over what is worthless, who say : with our 
strength we make ourselves horns ! Ver. 14. For, behold, I raise 
over you, house of Israel, is the saying of Jehovah, the God of 
hosts, a nation ; and they will oppress you from the territory of 
Hamath to the brook of the desert" To explain the threat in 
ver. 11, Amos now calls attention in ver. 12, under two different 
similes, to the perversity with which the haughty magnates of 
Israel, who turn right into bitter wrong, imagine that they can 
offer a successful resistance, or bid defiance with their own 
strength to the enemy, whom the Lord will raise up as the 
executor of His judgment. The perversion of right into its 
opposite can no more bring salvation than horses can run upon 
rocks, or any one plough upon such a soil with oxen. In the 
second question y?D2 (on the rock) is to be repeated from the 
first, as the majority of commentators suppose. But the two 
questions are not to be taken in connection with the previous 
verse in the sense of "Ye will no more be able to avert this 
destruction than horses can run upon rocks,* etc. (Chr. B. 
Mich.) They belong to what follows, and are meant to expose 
the moral perversity of the unrighteous conduct of the wicked. 
For til ttfoan, see ch. v. 7; and for tftfi, Hos. x. 4. The impar 
tial administration of justice is called the u fruit of righteous 
ness," on account of the figurative use of the terms darnel and 
wormwood. These great men, however, rejoice thereby in 
"91 *S " a nothing," or a thing which has no existence. What 

304 AMOS. 

the prophet refers to may be seen from the parallel clause, viz. 
their imaginary strength (chozeg). They rested this hope upon 
the might with which Jeroboam had smitten the Syrians, and 
restored the ancient boundaries of the kingdom. From this 
might they would take to themselves (Idqach, to take, not now 
for the first time to create, or ask of God) the horns, to thrust 
down all their foes. Horns are signs and symbols of power 
(cf. Deut. xxxiii. 17; 1 Kings xxii. 11) ; here they stand for 
the military resources, with which they fancied that they could 
conquer every foe. These delusions of God-forgetting pride 
the prophet casts down, by saying that Jehovah the God of 
hosts will raise up a nation against them, which will crush them 
down in the whole length and breadth of the kingdom. This 
nation was Assyria. Kl hinneh (for behold) is repeated from 
ver. 11 ; and the threat in ver. 14 is thereby described as 
the resumption and confirmation of the threat expressed in 
ver. 11, although the fa is connected with the perversity con 
demned in vers. 12, 13, of trusting in their own power. Ldchats, 
to oppress, to crush down. On the expression riDH NU^ as a 
standing epithet for the northern boundary of the kingdom of 
Israel, see Num. xxxiv. 8. As the southern boundary we have 
n ?"W? 5> instead of ninjjn DJ (2 Kings xiv. 25). This is not 
the willow-brook mentioned in Isa. xv. 7, the present Wady 
Sufsaf, or northern arm of the Wady el-Kerek (see Delitzsch on 
Isaiah, l.c.\ nor the JRMnokorura, the present el-Arish, which 
formed the southern boundary of Canaan, because this is con 
stantly called u the brook of Egypt " (see at Num. xxxiv. 5, 
Josh. xv. 4), but the present el-Ahsy (Alisd), the southern 
border river which separated Moab from Edorn (see at 2 Kings 
xiv. 25). 


The last part of the writings of Amos contains five visions, 
which confirm the contents of the prophetic addresses in the 
preceding part. The first four visions, however (ch. vii. and 
viii.), are distinguished from the fifth and last (ch. ix.) by the 
fact, that whereas the former all commence with the same 

CHAP. VII. 1-3. 305 

formula, " Thus hath the Lord showed me," the latter com 
mences with the words, " I saw the Lord," etc. They also 
differ in their contents, inasmuch as the former symbolize the 
judgments which have already fallen in part upon Israel, and 
in part have still to fall ; whilst the latter, on the contrary, 
proclaims the overthrow of the old theocracy, and after this 
the restoration of the fallen kingdom of God, and its ultimate 
glory. And again, of these four, the first and second (ch. vii. 
1-6) are distinguished from the third and fourth (ch. vii. 7-9, 
and viii. 1-3) by the fact, that whereas the former contain a 
promise in reply to the prophet s intercession, that Jacob shall 
be spared, in the latter any further sparing is expressly refused ; 
so that they are thus formed into two pairs, which differ from 
one another both in their contents and purpose. This differ 
ence is of importance, in relation both to the meaning and also 
to the historical bearing of the visions. It points to the con 
clusion, that the first two visions indicate universal judgments, 
whilst the third and fourth simply threaten the overthrow of 
the kingdom of Israel in the immediate future, the commence 
ment of which is represented in the fifth and last vision, and 
which is then still further depicted in its results in connection 
with the realization of the divine plan of salvation. 



Vers. 1-6. The first two visions. Vers. 1-3. THE LO 
CUSTS. Ver. 1. " Thus the Lord Jehovah showed me; and, 
behold, He formed locusts in the beginning of the springing up of 
the second crop ; and, behold, it was a second crop after the king s 
mowing. Ver. 2. And it came to pass, when they had finished 
eating the vegetable of the land, I said, Lord Jehovah, forgive, I 
pray : how can Jacob stand ? for he is small. Ver. 3. Jehovah 
repented of this : It shall not take place, saith Jehovah" The 
formula, " Thus the Lord Jehovah showed me," is common 
to this and the three following visions (vers. 4, 7, and ch. 
viii. 1), with this trifling difference, that in the third (ver. 7) 
the subject (the Lord Jehovah) is omitted, and Adondi (the 
Lord) is inserted instead, after v hinneh (and behold). ^Nin 
denotes seeing with the eyes of the mind a visionary seeing. 
VOL. I. U 

306 AMOS. 

These visions are not merely pictures of a judgment which was 
ever threatening, and drawing nearer and nearer (Baur) ; still 
less are they merely poetical fictions, or forms of drapery 
selected arbitrarily, for the purpose of clothing the prophet s 
thoughts ; but they are inward intuitions, produced by the 
Spirit of God, which set forth the punitive judgments of God. 
Koli (ita, thus) points to what follows, and v e hinneh (and 
behold) introduces the thing seen. Amos sees the Lord form 
locusts. Baur proposes to alter "flti 1 (forming) into "W (forms), 
but without any reason, and without observing that in all three 
visions of this chapter hinneli is followed by a participle (top 
in ver. 4, and 3jtt in ver. 7), and that the Adondi which stands 
before SjH in ver. 7 shows very clearly that this noun is simply 
omitted in ver. 1, because 9 Adondi Y hovdh has immediately 
preceded it. *?J (a poetical form for naa, analogous to HP for 
rnp, and contracted into nia in Nah. iii. 17) signifies locusts, 

the only question being, whether this meaning is derived from 

2^ = < *W> to cut, or from nna \*y~ 9 to creep forth (out of 

the earth). The fixing of the time has an important bearing 
upon the meaning of the vision : viz. " at the beginning of 
the springing up of the second crop (of grass) ;" especially 
when taken in connection with the explanation, " after the 
mowings of the king." These definitions cannot be merely 
intended as outward chronological data. For, in the first place, 
nothing is known of the existence of any right or prerogative 
on the part of the kings of Israel, to have the early crop in 
the meadow land throughout the country mown for the support 
of their horses and mules (1 Kings xviii. 5), so that their 
subjects could only get the second crop for their own cattle. 
Moreover, if the second crop, " after the king s mowings," 
were to be interpreted literally in this manner, it would de 
cidedly weaken the significance of the vision. For if the locusts 
did not appear till after the king had got in the hay for the 
supply of his own mews, and so only devoured the second crop 
of grass as it grew, this plague would fall upon the people 
alone, and not at all upon the king. But such an exemption of 
the king from the judgment is evidently at variance with the 
meaning of this and the following visions. Consequently the 
definition of the time must be interpreted spiritually, in accord- 

CHAP. VII. 4-6. 307 

ance with the idea of the vision. The king, who has had the 
early grass mown, is Jehovah ; and the mowing of the grass 
denotes the judgments which Jehovah has already executed 
upon Israel. The growing of the second crop is a figurative 
representation of the prosperity which flourished again after 
those judgments ; in actual fact, therefore, it denotes the time 
when the dawn had risen again for Israel (ch. iv. 13). Then 
the locusts came and devoured all the vegetables of the earth. 
pixn y&y is not the second crop ; for 2j?y does not mean 
grass, but vegetables, the plants of the field (see at Gen. i. 11). 
Yers. 2 and 3 require that this meaning should be retained. 
When the locusts had already eaten the vegetables of the earth, 
the prophet interceded, and the Lord interposed with deliver 
ance. This intercession would have been too late after the 
consumption of the second crop. On the other hand, when the 
vegetables had been consumed, there was still reason to fear 
that the consumption of the second crop of grass would follow ; 
and this is averted at the prophet s intercession. TiTi for W, 
as in 1 Sam. xvii. 48, Jer. xxxvii. 11, etc. Nrnpp, pray for 
give, sc. the guilt of the people (cf. Num. xiv. 19). Eip^ ""ft, 
how ( qualis) can Jacob (the nation of Israel) stand (not 
arise), since it is small ? |bij, small, i.e. so poor in sources and 
means of help, that it cannot endure this stroke ; not " so 
crushed already, that a very light calamity would destroy it" 
(Rosenimiller). For ^ DHJ, see Ex. xxxii. 14. nNT (this) 
refers to the destruction of the people indicated in D^PJ * ; and 
nxf is also to be supplied as the subject to n^nn fc6. 

Vers. 4-6. THE DEVOURING FIRE. Ver. 4. " Thus the 
Lord Jehovah showed me : and, behold, the Lord Jehovah called 
to punish ivith fire ; and it devoured the great flood, and devoured 
the portion. Ver. 5. And I said, Lord Jehovah, leave off, I 
pray : how can Jacob stand ? for it is small. Ver. 6. Jehovah 
repented of this ; this also shall not take place, said the Lord 
Jehovah." That the all-devouring fire represents a much 
severer judgment than that depicted under the figure of the 
locusts, is generally acknowledged, and needs no proof. But 
the more precise meaning of this judgment is open to dispute, 
and depends upon the explanation of the fourth verse. The 
object to top is P 3 3^, and ^ is to be taken as an infinitive, 

308 AMOS. 

as in Isa. iii. 13 : He called to strive (i.e. to judge or punish) 
with fire. There is no necessity to supply ministros suos here. 
The expression is a concise one, for " He called to the fire to 
punish with fire" (for the expression and the fact, compare Isa. 
Ixvi. 16). This fire devoured the great flood. T e hom rabbdh 
is used in Gen. vii. 11 and Isa. li. 10, etc., to denote the un 
fathomable ocean ; and in Gen. i. 2 fhom is the term applied 
to the immense flood which surrounded and covered the globe 
at the beginning of the creation. "taff!, as distinguished from 
paaton, signifies an action in progress, or still incomplete (Hitzig). 
The meaning therefore is, " it also devoured (began to devour) 
etli-liacheleq ;" i.e. not the field, for a field does not form at all 
a fitting antithesis to the ocean ; and still less " the land," for 
cheleq never bears this meaning ; but the inheritance or portion, 
namely, that of Jehovah (Deut. xxxii. 9), i.e. Israel. Conse 
quently t e hom rabbdh cannot, of course, signify the ocean as 
such. For the idea of the fire falling upon the ocean, and 
consuming it, and then beginning to consume the land of Israel, 
by which the ocean was bounded (Hitzig), would be too mon 
strous ; nor is it justified by the simple remark, that " it was 
as if the last great conflagration (2 Pet. iii. 10) had begun" 
(Schmieder). As the fire is not earthly fire, but the fire of the 
wrath of God, and therefore a figurative representation of the 
judgment of destruction ; and as hacheleq (the portion) is not 
the land^f Israel, but according to Deuteronomy (I.e.) Israel, 
or the people of Jehovah ; so t e hom rabbdh is not the ocean, but 
the heathen world, the great sea of nations, in their rebellion 
against the kingdom of God. The world of nature in a state 
of agitation is a frequent symbol in the Scriptures for the 
agitated heathen world (e.g. Ps. xlvi. 3, xciii. 3, 4). On the 
latter passage, Delitzsch has the following apt remark : " The 
stormy sea is a figurative representation of the whole heathen 
world, in its estrangement from God, and enmity against Him, 
or the human race outside the true church of God ; and the 
rivers are figurative representations of the kingdoms of the 
world, e.g. the Nile of the Egyptian (Jer. xlvi. 7, 8), the 
Euphrates of the Assyrian (Isa. viii. 7, 8), or more precisely 
still, the arrow-swift Tigris of the Assyrian, and the winding 
Euphrates of the Babylonian (Isa. xxvii. 1)." This symbolism 
lies at the foundation of the vision seen by the prophet. The 

CHAP. VII. 4-6. 309 

world of nations, in its rebellion against Jehovah, the Lord 
and King of the world, appears as a great flood, like the chaos 
at the beginning of the creation, o* the flood which poured out 
its waves upon the globe in the time of Noah. Upon this 
flood of nations does fire from the Lord fall down and consume 
them ; and after consuming them, it begins to devour the in 
heritance of Jehovah, the nation of Israel also. The prophet 
then prays to the Lord to spare it, because Jacob would in 
evitably perish in this conflagration ; and the Lord gives the 
promise that " this shall not take place," so that Israel is 
plucked like a firebrand out of the fire (ch. iv. 11). 

If we inquire now into the historical bearing of these two 
visions, so much is a priori clear, namely, that both of them 
not only indicate judgments already past, but also refer to the 
future, since no fire had hitherto burned upon the surface of the 
globe, which had consumed the world of nations and threatened 
to annihilate Israel. If therefore there is an element of truth in 
the explanation given by Grotius to the first vision, " After the 
fields had been shorn by Benhadad (2 Kings xiii. 3), and after 
the damage which was then sustained, the condition of Israel 
began to flourish once more during the reign of Jeroboam the 
son of Joash, as we see from 2 Kings xiv. 15," according to 
which the locusts would refer to the invasion on the part of the 
Assyrians in the time of Pul ; this application is much too 
limited, neither exhausting the contents of the first vision, nor 
suiting in the smallest degree the figure of the fire. The 
" mowing of the king " (ver. 1) denotes rather all the judg 
ments which the Lord had hitherto poured out upon Israel, 
embracing everything that the prophet mentions in ch. iv. 
6-10. The locusts are a figurative representation of the judg 
ments that still await the covenant nation, and will destroy it 
even to a small remnant, which will be saved through the 
prayers of the righteous. The vision of the fire has a similar 
scope, embracing all the past and all the future ; but this also 
indicates the judgments that fall upon the heathen world, and 
will only receive its ultimate fulfilment in the destruction of 
everything that is ungodly upon the face of the earth, when 
the Lord comes in fire to strive with all flesh (Isa. Ixvi. 15, 16), 
and to burn up the earth and all that is therein, on the day of 
judgment and perdition of ungodly men (2 Pet. iii. 7, 10-13). 

310 AMOS. 

The removal of the two judgments, however, by Jehovah in 
consequence of the intercession of the prophet, shows that these 
judgments are not intended to effect the utter annihilation of 
the nation of God, but simply its refinement and the rooting 
out of the sinners from the midst of it, and that, in consequence 
of the sparing mercy of God, a holy remnant of the nation of 
God will be left. The next two visions refer simply to the 
judgment which awaits the kingdom of the ten tribes in the 
immediate future. 

Yers. 7-9. THE THIRD VISION. Ver. 7. " Thus he showed 
me : and, behold, the Lord stood upon a wall made with a plumb- 
line, and a plumb-line in His hand. Ver. 8. And Jehovah said 
to me, What seest thou, Amos ? And I said, A plumb-line. 
And the Lord said, Behold, I put a plumb-line in the midst of 
my people Israel: I shall pass by it no more. Ver. 9. And the 
sacrificial heights of Isaac are laid waste, and the holy things of 
Israel destroyed; and I rise up against the house of Jeroboam 
with the sword." The word ^JN, which only occurs here, 
denotes, according to the dialects and the Rabbins, tin or 
lead, here a plumb-line. Chomath andkh is a wall built with a 
plumb-line, i.e. a perpendicular wall, a wall built with mechani 
cal correctness and solidity. Upon this wall Amos sees the 
Lord standing. The wall built with a plumb-line is a figura 
tive representation of the kingdom of God in Israel, as a firm 
and well -constructed building. He holds in His hand a 
plumb-line. The question addressed to the prophet, "What 
does he see ? " is asked for the simple purpose of following up 
his answer with an explanation of the symbol, as in Jer. i. 11, 13, 
since the plumb-line was used for different purposes, namely, 
not only for building, but partly also for pulling buildings down 
(compare 2 Kings xxi. 13; Isa. xxxiv. 11). Jehovah will lay it 
b e qerebh amml, to the midst of His people, and not merely to 
an outward portion of it, in order to destroy this building. He 
will no longer spare as He has done hitherto, ? "i?V, to pass 
by any one without taking any notice of him, without looking 
upon his guilt or punishing him ; hence, to spare, the opposite 
of rnps "W in ch. v. 17. The destruction will fall upon the 
idolatrous sanctuaries of the land, the bdmoth (see at 1 Kings 
iii. 2), i.e. the altars of the high places, and the temples at 

CHAP. VII. 10-17. 311 

Bethel, at Dan (see at 1 Kings xii. 29), and at Gilgal (see ch. 
iv. 4). Isaac (pPffc^, a softened form for prw, used here and at 
ver. 16, as in Jer. xxxiii. 26) is mentioned here instead of Jacob, 
and the name is used as a synonym for Israel of the ten tribes. 
Even the house of Jeroboam, the reigning royal family, is to 
perish with the sword (?if E as in Isa. xxxi. 2). Jeroboam 
is mentioned as the existing representative of the monarchy, 
and the words are not to be restricted to the overthrow of 
his dynasty, but announce the destruction of the Tsraelitish 
monarchy, which actually was annihilated when this dynasty 
was overthrown (see p. 41). The destruction of the sacred 
places and the overthrow of the monarchy involve the dis 
solution of the kingdom. Thus does Amos himself interpret 
his own words in vers. 11 and 17. 


The daring announcement of the overthrow of the royal 
family excites the wrath of the high priest at Bethel, so that 
he relates the affair to the king, to induce him to proceed 
against the troublesome prophet (vers. 10 and 11), and then 
calls upon Amos himself to leave Bethel (vers. 12 and 13). 
That this attempt to drive Amos out of Bethel was occasioned 
by his prophecy in vers. 7-10, is evident from what Amaziah 
say s to the king concerning the words of Amos. " The priest 
of Bethel " (Kohen Beth-el) is the high priest at the sanctuary 
of the golden calf at Bethel. He accused the prophet to the 
king of having made a conspiracy (qdshar ; cf. 1 Kings xv. 27, 
etc.) against the king, and that " in the midst of the house of 
Israel," i.e. in the centre of the kingdom of Israel namely 
at Bethel, the religious centre of the kingdom through all 
his sayings, which the land could not bear. To establish this 
charge, he states (in ver. 11) that Amos has foretold the death 
of Jeroboam by the sword, and the carrying away of the 
people out of the land. Amos had really said this. The fact 
that in ver. 9 Jeroboam is named, and not the house of 
Jeroboam, makes no difference ; for the head of the house is 
naturally included in the house itself. And the carrying away 
of the people out of the land was not only implied in the 
announcement of the devastation of the sanctuaries of the 
kingdom (ver. 9), which presupposes the conquest of the land 

312 AMOS. 

by foes ; but Amos had actually predicted it in so many words 
(ch. y. 27). And Amaziah naturally gave the substance of 
all the prophet s addresses, instead of simply confining himself 
to the last. There is no reason, therefore, to think of inten 
tional slander. 

Vers. 12, 13. The king appears to have commenced no 
proceedings against the prophet in consequence of this de 
nunciation, probably because he did not regard the affair as 
one of so much danger. Amaziah therefore endeavours to 
persuade the prophet to leave the country. " Seer, go, and flee 
into the land of Judah" l^ftfc, i.e. withdraw thyself by flight 
from the punishment which threatens thee. " There eat thy 
bread, and there mayst thou prophesy :" i.e. in Judah thou 
mayst earn thy bread by prophesying without any interruption. 
It is evident from the answer given by Amos in ver. 14, that 
this is the meaning of the words : " But in Bethel thou shalt no 
longer prophesy, for it is a king s sanctuary (i.e. a sanctuary 
founded by the king ; 1 Kings xii. 28), and beth mamldkhdh" 
house of the kingdom, i.e. a royal capital (cf. 1 Sam. xxvii. 5), 
namely, as being the principal seat of the worship which the 
king has established for his kingdom. There no one could be 
allowed to prophesy against the king. 

Vers. 14, 15. Amos first of all repudiates the insinuation 
that he practises prophesying as a calling or profession, by 
which he gets his living. " / am no prophet" sc. by profes 
sion, " and no prophefs son" i.e. not a pupil or member of the 
prophets schools, one who has been trained to prophesy (on 
these schools, see the comm. on 1 Sam. xix. 24) ; but (according 
to my proper calling) a boqer, lit. a herdsman of oxen (from 
bdqdr) ; then in a broader sense, a herdsman who tends the 
sheep (|fc&), a shepherd ; and a boles shiqmlm, i.e. one who 
plucks sycamores or mulberry-figs, and lives upon them. The 
a-TT. \ey. boles is a denom. from the Arabic name for the mul 
berry-fig, and signifies to gather mulberry-figs and live upon 
them ; like crvKatpiv and aTrocrvKa^eiv, i.e. according to Hesych. 
ra crvica rpayew, to eat figs. The rendering of the LXX. 
fcvi&v, Vulg. vellicans, points to the fact that it was a common 
custom to nip or scratch the mulberry-figs, in order to make 
them ripen (see Theophr. Hist, plant, iv. 2 ; Plin. Hist. nat. 
13, 14; and Bochart, Hieroz. i. 384, or p. 406 ed. Ros.) ; but 

CHAP. VII. 16, 17. 313 

this cannot be shown to be the true meaning of boles. And 
even if the idea of nipping were implied in the word boles, it 
would by no means follow that the possession of a mulberry 
plantation was what was intended, as many commentators have 
inferred ; for " the words contain an allusion to the eating of 
bread referred to in ver. 12, and the fruit is mentioned here 
as the ordinary food of the shepherds, who lived at the pasture 
grounds, and to whom bread may have been a rarity" (Hitzig). 
From this calling, which afforded him a livelihood, the Lord 
had called him away to prophesy to His people Israel ; so that 
whoever forbade him to do so, set himself in opposition to the 
Lord God. 

Vers. 16, 17. In return for this rebellion against Jehovah, 
Amos foretels to the priest the punishment which will fall 
upon him when the judgment shall come upon Israel, meeting 
his words, " Thou sayst, Thou shall not prophesy" with the keen 
retort, " Thus saith Jehovah? 5 T9 ?, to drip, applied to prophesy 
ing here and at Mic. ii. 6, 11, and Ezek. xxi. 2, 7, is taken 
from Deut. xxxii. 2, " My teaching shall drip as the rain/ etc. 
Isaac (yischdq) for Israel, as in ver. 9. The punishment is thus 
described in ver. 17 : " Thy wife will be a harlot in the city," 
i.e. at the taking of the city she will become a harlot through 
violation. His children would also be slain by the foe, and his 
landed possession assigned to others, namely, to the fresh settlers 
in the land. He himself, viz. the priest, would die in an un 
clean land, that is to say, in the land of the Gentiles, in other 
words, would be carried away captive, and that with the whole 
nation, the carrying away of which is repeated by Amos in the 
words which the priest had reported to the king (ver. 11), as 
a sign that what he has prophesied will assuredly stand. 


Under the symbol of a basket filled with ripe fruit, the 
Lord shows the prophet that Israel is ripe for judgment (vers. 
1-3) ; whereupon Amos, explaining the meaning of this 
vision, announces to the unrighteous magnates of the nation 
the changing of their joyful feasts into days of mourning, as 
the punishment from God for their unrighteousness (vers. 
4-]0), and sets before them a time when those who now 

314 AMOS. 

despise the word of God will sigh in vain in their extremity 
for a word of the Lord (vers. 11-14). 

Vers. 1-3. Vision of a BASKET OF RIPE FRUIT. Ver. 1. 

" Tims did the Lord Jehovah show me : and behold a basket with 
ripe fruit. Ver. 2. And He said, What seest thou, Amos? And 

1 saidy A basket :of ripe fruit. Then Jehovah said to me, The 
end is come to my people Israel; I will not pass by them any 
more. Ver. 3. And the songs of the palace will yell in that day, 
is the saying of the Lord Jehovah: corpses in multitude; in every 
place hath He cast them forth ; Hush ! " 2v3 from 3P2, to lay 
hold of, to grasp, lit. a receiver, here a basket (of basket-work), 
in Jer. v. 27 a bird-cage. T.i? : summer-fruit (see at 2 Sam. 
xvi. 1) ; in Isa. xvi. 9, xxviii. 4, the gathering of fruit, hence 
ripe fruit. The basket of ripe fruit (qayits) is thus explained 
by the Lord : the end (gets) is come to my people (cf. Ezek 
vii. 6). Consequently the basket of ripe fruit is a figurative 
representation of the nation that is now ripe for judgment, 
although gets, the end, does not denote its ripeness for judg 
ment, but its destruction, and the word gets is simply chosen 
to form a paronomasia with gayits. til P^pis &O as in ch. vii. 8, 
All the joy shall be turned into mourning. The thought is 
not that the temple-singing to the praise of God (ch. v. 23) 
would be turned into yelling, but that the songs of joy (ch. vi. 5; 

2 Sam. xix. 36) would be turned into yells, i.e. into sounds of 
lamentation (cf. ver. 10 and 1 Mace. ix. 41), namely, because 
of the multitude of the dead which lay upon the ground on 
every side. T?^ 1 "? is not impersonal, in the sense of " which 
men are no longer able to bury on account of their great num 
ber, and therefore cast away in quiet places on every side ; " 
but Jehovah is to be regarded as the subject, viz. which God 
has laid prostrate, or cast to the ground on every side. For 
the adverbial use of DH cannot be established. The word is an 
interjection here, as in ch. vi. 10 ; and the exclamation, Hush ! 
is not a sign of gloomy despair, but an admonition to bow 
beneath the overwhelming severity of the judgment of God, as 
in Zeph. i. 7 (cf. Hab. ii. 20 and Zech. ii. 17). 

Vers. 4-10. To this vision the prophet attaches the last 
admonition to the rich and powerful men of the nation, to 
observe the threatening of the Lord before it is too late, im- 

CHAP. VIII. 4-8. 315 

pressing upon them the terrible severity of the judgment. 
Ver. 4. " Hear this, ye that gape for the poor, and to destroy 
the meek of the earth, Ver. 5. Saying, When is the new moon 
over, that we may sell corn? and the sabbath, that we may 
open wheat, to make the ephah small, and the shekel great, and 
to falsify the scale of deceit ? Ver. 6. To buy the poor for silver, 
and the needy for a pair of shoes, and the refuse of the corn will 
we sell" The persons addressed are the Jtotf D^DX& n, i.e. not 
those who snort at the poor man, to frighten him away from 
any further pursuit of his rights (Baur), but, according to ch. 
ii. 6, 7, those who greedily pant for the poor man, who try to 
swallow him (Hitzig). This is affirmed in the second clause of 
the verse, in which D^axb 5 is to be repeated in thought before 
JV2CV}7 : they gape to destroy the quiet in the land Qn&r\13y = 
0^ JJJ in ch. ii. 7), " namely by grasping all property for them 
selves, Job xxii. 8, Isa. v. 8 " (Hitzig). Vers. 5 and 6 show 
how they expect to accomplish their purpose. Like covetous 
usurers, they cannot even wait for the end of the feast-days to 
pursue their trade still further. Chodesh, the new moon, was a 
holiday on which all trade was suspended, just as it was on the 
Sabbath (see at Num. xxviii. 1 1 and 2 Kings iv. 23). "HP T^n, 
to sell corn, as in Gen. xli. 57. "to nns, to open up corn, i.e. to 
open the granaries (cf. Gen. xli. 56). In doing so, they wanted 
to cheat the poor by small measure (ephah), and by making 
the shekel great, i.e. by increasing the price, which was to be 
weighed out to them ; also by false scales ^ivveth, to pervert, 
or falsify the scale of deceit, i.e. the scale used for cheating), 
and by bad corn (mappal, waste or refuse) ; that in this way 
they might make the poor man so poor, that he would either be 
obliged to sell himself to them from want and distress (Lev. 
xxv. 39), or be handed over to the creditor by the court of 
justice, because he was no longer able to pay for a pair of 
shoes, i.e. the very smallest debt (cf. ch. ii. 6). 

Such wickedness as this would be severely punished by the 
Lord. Ver. 7. " Jehovah hath sworn by the pride of Jacob, 
Verily I will not forget all their deeds for ever. Ver. 8. Shall 
the earth not tremble for this, and every inhabitant upon it mourn? 
and all of it rises like the Nile, and heaves and sinks like the 
Nile of Egypt: The pride of Jacob is Jehovah, as in Hos. 
v. 5 and vii. 10. Jehovah swears by the pride of Jacob, as He 

316 AMOS. 

does by His holiness in ch. iv. 2, or by His soul in ch. vi. 8, 
i.e. as He who is the pride and glory of Israel : i.e. as truly as 
He is so, will He and must He punish such acts as these. By 
overlooking such sins, or leaving them unpunished, He would 
deny His glory in Israel. H3^ ? to forget a sin, i.e. to leave it 
unpunished. In ver. 8 the negative question is an expression 
denoting strong assurance. " For this " is generally supposed 
to refer to the sins ; but this is a mistake, as the previous v-erse 
alludes not to the sins themselves, but to the punishment of them ; 
and the solemn oath of Jehovah does not contain so subordi 
nate and casual a thought, that we can pass over ver. 7, and 
take HNt ?% as referring back to vers. 4-6. It rather refers to 
the substance of the oath, i.e. to the punishment of the sins 
which the Lord announces with a solemn oath. This will be 
so terrible that the earth will quake, and be resolved, as it were, 
into its primeval condition of chaos. Rdgaz, to tremble, or, 
when applied to the earth, to quake, does not mean to shudder, 
or to be shocked, as Rosenmiiller explains it after Jer. ii. 12. 
Still less can the idea of the earth rearing and rising up in a 
stormy manner to cast them off, which Hitzig supports, be 
proved to be a biblical idea from Isa. xxiv. 20. The thought 
is rather that, under the weight of the judgment, the earth will 
quake, and all its inhabitants will be thrown into mourning, as 
we may clearly see from the parallel passage in ch. ix. 5. In 
ver. Sb this figure is carried out still further, and the whole 
earth is represented as being turned into a sea, heaving and 
falling in a tempestuous manner, just as in the case of the 
flood, n^p, the totality of the earth, the entire globe, will rise, 
and swell and fall like waters lashed into a storm. This rising 
and falling of the earth is compared to the rising and sinking 
of the Nile. According to the parallel passage in ch. ix. 5, i&O 
is a defective form for ">^13, just as 7Q is for /^ in Job xl. 20, 
and it is still further defined by the expression E^V? "^?, 
which follows. All the ancient versions have taken it as "MN"!, 
and many of the Hebrew codd. (in Kennicott and De Rossi) 
have this reading. Nigrash, to be excited, a term applied to 
the stormy sea (Isa. Ivii. 20). n ij^ is a softened form for 
nyip^3 ? as is shown by n ^i?^ in ch. ix. 5. 

Ver. 9. " And it will come to pass on that day, is the saying 
of the Lord Jehovah, I cause the sun to set at noon, and make it 

CHAP. VIII. 9-14. 317 

dark to the earth in clear day. Ver. 10. And turn your feasts 
into mourning, and all your songs into lamentation : and bring 
mourning clothes upon all loins, and baldness upon every head ; 
and make it like mourning for an only one, and the end thereof 
like a bitter day" The effect of the divine judgment upon 
the Israelites is depicted here. Just as the wicked overturn 
the moral order of the universe, so will the Lord, with His 
judgment, break through the order of nature, cause the sun to 
go down at noon, and envelope the earth in darkness in clear 
day. The words of the ninth verse are not founded upon the 
idea of an eclipse of the sun, though Michaelis and Hitzig not 
only assume that they are, but actually attempt to determine 
the time of its occurrence. An eclipse of the sun is not the 
setting of the sun (Nis). But to any man the sun sets at noon, 
when he is suddenly snatched away by death, in the very midst 
of his life. And this also applies to a nation when it is sud 
denly destroyed in the midst of its earthly prosperity. But it 
has a still wider application. When the Lord shall come to 
judgment, at a time when the w r orld, in its self-security, looketh 
not for Him (cf. Matt. xxiv. 37 sqq.), this earth s sun will set 
at noon, and the earth be covered with darkness in bright day 
light. And every judgment that falls upon an ungodly people 
or kingdom, as the ages roll away, is a harbinger of the approach 
of the final judgment. Ver. 10. When the judgment shall 
burst upon Israel, then will all the joyous feasts give way to 
mourning and lamentation (compare ver. 3 and ch. v. 16; Hos. 
ii. 13). On the shaving of a bald place as a sign of mourning, 
see Isa. iii. 24. This mourning will be very deep, like the 
mourning for the death of an only son (cf. Jer. vi. 26 and Zech. 
xii. 10). The suffix in nw? (I make it) does not refer to *?1X 
(mourning), but to all that has been previously mentioned as 
done upon that day, to their weeping and lamenting (Hitzig). 
n (Pn^, the end thereof, namely, of this mourning and lamenta 
tion, will be a bitter day (3 is caph verit. ; see at Joel i. 15). 
This implies that the judgment will not be a passing one, but 
will continue. 

Vers. 11-14. And at that time the light and comfort of the 
word of God will also fail them. Ver. 11. " Behold, days come, 
is the saying of the Lord Jehovah, that I send a hungering into 
the land, not a hungering for bread nor a thirst for ivater, but to 

318 AMOS. 

hear the words of Jehovah. Ver. 12. And they will reel from 
sea to sea ; and from the north, and even to the east, they sweep 
round to seek the word of Jehovah, and will not find it" The 
bitterness of the time of punishment is increased by the fact 
that the Lord will then withdraw His word from them, i.e. the 
light of His revelation. They who will not now hear His word, 
as proclaimed by the prophets, will then cherish the greatest 
longing for it. Such hunger and thirst will be awakened by 
the distress and affliction that will come upon them. The 
intensity of this desire is depicted in ver. 12. They reel QFb 
as in ch. iv. 8) from the sea to the sea ; that is to say, not " from 
the Dead Sea in the east to the Mediterranean in the west," for 
Joel ii. 20 and Zech. xiv. 8 are not cases in point, as the two 
seas are defined there by distinct epithets ; but as in Ps. Ixxii. 8 
and Zech. ix. 10, according to which the meaning is, from the 
sea to where the sea occurs again, at the other end of the world, 
" the sea being taken as the boundary of the earth" (Hupfeld). 
The other clause, " from the north even to the east," contains 
an abridged expression for " from north to south and from west 
to east," i.e. to every quarter of the globe. 

Ver. 13. " In that day will the fair virgins and the youny 
men faint for thirst. Ver. 14. They who swear by the guilt of 
Samaria, and say, By the life of thy God, Dan ! and by the 
life of the way to Beersheba ; and will fall, and not rise again." 
Those who now stand in all the fullest and freshest vigour of 
life, will succumb to this hunger and thirst. The virgins and 
young men are individualized, as comprising that portion of 
the nation which possessed the vigorous fulness of youth. *tf, 
to be enveloped in night, to sink into a swoon, hithp. to hide 
one s self, to faint away. D jDtpan refers to the young men and 
virgins ; and inasmuch as they represent the most vigorous 
portion of the nation, to the nation as a whole. If the strongest 
succumb to the thirst, how much more the weak ! Ashmath 
Shom e ron, the guilt of Samaria, is the golden calf at Bethel, 
the principal idol of the kingdom of Israel, which is named 
after the capital Samaria (compare Deut. ix. 21, " the sin of 
Israel"), not the Asherah which was still standing in Samaria 
in the reign of Jehoahaz (2 Kings xiii. 6) ; for apart from the 
question whether it was there in the time of Jeroboam, this is 
at variance with the second clause, in which the manner of 

CHAP. IX. 319 

their swearing is given, namely, by the life of the god at Dan, 
that is to say, the golden calf that was there ; so that the guilt 
of Samaria can only have been the golden calf at Bethel, the 
national sanctuary of the ten tribes (cf. ch. iv. 4, v. 5). The 
way to Beersheba is mentioned, instead of the worship, for the 
sake of which the pilgrimage to Beersheba was made. This 
worship, again, was not a purely heathen worship, but an idola 
trous worship of Jehovah (see ch. v. 5). The fulfilment of 
these threats commenced with the destruction of the kingdom 
of Israel, and the carrying away of the ten tribes into exile in 
Assyria, and continues to this day in the case of that portion of 
the Israelitish nation which is still looking for the Messiah, the 
prophet promised by Moses, and looking in vain, because they 
will not hearken to the preaching of the gospel concerning the 
Messiah, who appeared as Jesus. 


The prophet sees the Lord standing by the altar, and giving 
command to overthrow the temple, that the whole nation may 
be buried beneath the ruins (ver. 1). Should any one escape, 
the Lord will pursue him everywhere, and overtake and destroy 
him (vers. 2-4) ; for He is the Almighty God, and the Judge 
of the world (vers. 5 and 6) ; and Israel has become like the 
heathen, so that it deserves no sparing. Nevertheless it shall 
not be utterly destroyed, but simply sifted, and the sinful mass 
be slain (vers. 7-10). Then will the fallen tabernacle of David 
be raised up again, and the kingdom of God be glorified by the 
reception of all nations (ver. 12), and richly blessed with the 
fulness of the gifts of divine grace (vers. 13, 14), and never 
destroyed again (ver. 15). As the chapter gives the final 
development of the judgment threatened in the preceding one, 
so is it also closely attached in form to ch. vii. and viii., com 
mencing with a vision just as they do. But whilst the preced 
ing visions simply indicate the judgment which is to fall upon 
the sinful nation, and are introduced with the words, " The Lord 
showed me" (ch. vii. 1, 4, 7, viii. 1), this closing vision shows the 
Lord engaged in the execution of the judgment, and commences 
accordingly with the words, " I saw the Lord standing," etc. 

320 AMOS. 

Ver. 1. " / saw the Lord standing by the altar; and He said, 
Smite the top, that the thresholds may tremble, and smash them 
upon the head of all of them ; and I will slay their remnant with 
the sword: a fugitive of them shall not flee ; and an escaped one 
of them shall not escape" The correct and full interpretation 
not only of this verse, but of the whole chapter, depends upon 
the answer to be given to the question, what altar we are to 
understand by hammizbetich. Ewald, Hitzig, Hofmann, and 
Baur follow Cyril in thinking of the temple at Bethel, because, 
as Hitzig says, this vision attaches itself in an explanatory 
manner to the close of ch. viii. 14, and because, according to 
Hofmann, " if the word of the prophet in general was directed 
against the kingdom, the royal house and the sanctuary of the 
ten tribes, the article before hammizbeach points to the altar of 
the sanctuary in the kingdom of Israel, to the altar at Bethel, 
against which he has already prophesied in a perfectly similar 
manner in ch. iii. 14." But there is no ground whatever for 
the assertion that our vision contains simply an explanation of 
ch. viii. 14. The connection with ch. viii. is altogether not so 
close, that the object of the prophecy in the one chapter must 
of necessity cover that of the other. And it is quite incorrect 
to say that the word of the prophet throughout is directed 
simply against the kingdom of the ten tribes, or that, although 
Amos does indeed reprove the sins of Judah as well as those of 
Israel, he proclaims destruction to the kingdom of Jeroboam 
alone. As early as ch. ii. 5 he announces desolation to Judah 
by fire, and the burning of the palaces of Jerusalem ; and in 
ch. vi. 1, again, he gives utterance to a woe upon the self-secure 
in Zion, as well as upon the careless ones in Samaria. And 
lastly, it is evident from vers. 8-10 of the present chapter, that 
the sinful kingdom which is to be destroyed from the face of 
the earth is not merely the kingdom of the ten tribes, but the 
kingdoms of Judah and Israel, which are embraced in one. 
For although it is stated immediately afterwards that the Lord 
will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, but will shake the 
house of Israel among all nations, the house of Jacob cannot 
mean the kingdom of Judah, and the house of Israel the kingdom 
of the ten tribes, because such a contrast between Judah and 
Israel makes the thought too lame, and the antithesis between 
the destruction of the sinful kingdom and the utter destruction 

CHAP. IX. 1. 821 

of the nation is quite obliterated. Amos does not generally 
draw such a distinction between the house of Jacob and the 
house of Israel, as that the first represents Judah, and the 
second the ten tribes ; but he uses the two epithets as synony 
mous, as we may see from a comparison of ch. vi. 8 with ch. 
vi. 14, where the rejection of the pride of Israel and the hating 
of its palaces (ver. 8) are practically interpreted by the raising up 
of a nation which oppresses the house of Israel in all its borders 
(ver. 14). And so also in the chapter before us, the " house of 
Israel " (ver. 9) is identical with " Israel " and the " children 
of Israel" (7), whom God brought up out of Egypt. But God 
brought up out of Egypt not the ten tribes, but the twelve. 
And consequently it is decidedly incorrect to restrict the con 
tents of vers. 1-10 to the kingdom of the ten tribes. And if 
this be the case, we cannot possibly understand by hammizbedch 
in ver. 1 the altar of Bethel, especially seeing that not only 
does Amos foretel the visitation or destruction of the altars of 
Bethel in ch. iii. 14, and therefore recognises not one altar only 
in Bethel, but a plurality of altars, but that he also speaks in 
ch. vii. 9 of the desolation of the high places and sanctuaries of 
Israel, and in ch. viii. 14 places the sanctuary at Dan on a par 
with that at Bethel ; so that there was not any one altar in the 
kingdom of the ten tribes, which could be called hammizbeach, 
the altar par excellence, inasmuch as it possessed from the very 
beginning two sanctuaries of equal dignity (viz. at Bethel and 
Dan). Hammizbedch, therefore, both here and at Ezek. ix. 2, 
is the altar of burnt-offering in the temple at Jerusalem, the 
sanctuary of the whole of the covenant nation, to which even 
the ten tribes still belonged, in spite of their having fallen 
away from the house of David. So long as the Lord still con 
tinued to send prophets to the ten tribes, so long did they pass 
as still forming part of the people of God, and so long also was 
the temple at Jerusalem the divinely appointed sanctuary and 
the throne of Jehovah, from which both blessings and punish 
ment issued for them. The Lord roars from Zion, and from 
Zion He utters His voice (ch. i. 2), not only upon the nations 
who have shown hostility to Judah or Israel, but also upon 
Judah and Israel, on account of their departure from His law 
(ch. ii. 4 and 6 sqq.). 

The visioji in this verse is founded upon the idea that the 

VOL, I. X 

322 AMOS. 

whole nation is assembled before the Lord at the threshold of 
the temple, so that it is buried under the ruins of the falling 
building, in consequence of the blow upon the top, which 
shatters the temple to its very foundations. The Lord appears 
at the altar, because here at the sacrificial place of the nation 
the sins of Israel are heaped up, that He may execute judg 
ment upon the nation there, by 3JU, standing at (not upon) 
the altar, as in 1 Kings xiii. 1. He gives commandment to 
smite the top. The person who is to do this is not mentioned ; 
but it was no doubt an angel, probably the nwsn ^EH, who 
brought the pestilence as a punishment at the numbering of the 
people in the time of David (2 Sam. xxiv. 15, 16), who smote 
the army of the Assyrian king Sennacherib before Jerusalem 
(2 Kings xix. 35), and who also slew the first-born of Egypt 
(Ex. xii. 13, 23) ; whereas in Ezek. ix. 2, 7, He is represented 
as accomplishing the judgment of destruction by means of six 
angels. Hakkaphtor, the knob or top ; in Ex. xxv. 31, 33 sqq., 
an ornament upon the shaft and branches of the golden candle 
stick. Here it is an ornament at the top of the columns, and 
not " the lintel of the door," or " the pinnacle of the temple with 
its ornaments." For the latter explanation of kaphtor, which 
cannot be philological ly sustained, by no means follows from 
the fact that the antithesis to the kaphtor is formed by the 
sipplm, or thresholds of the door. The knob and threshold 
simply express the contrast between the loftiest summit and 
the lowest base, without at all warranting the conclusion that 
saph denotes the base of the pillar which culminated in a knob, 
or kapJitor, the top of the door which rested upon a threshold. 
The description is not architectural, but rhetorical, the separate 
portions of the whole being individualized, for the purpose of 
expressing the thought that the building was to be shattered to 
pieces in summo usque ad imum, a capite ad calcem. Would 
we bring out more clearly the idea which lies at the foundation 
of the rhetorical mode of expression, we have only to think of 
the capital of the pillars Jachin and Boaz, and that with 
special reference to their significance, as symbolizing the sta 
bility of the temple. The smiting of these pillars, so that they 
fall to the ground, individualizes the destruction of the temple, 
without there being any necessity in consequence to think of 
these pillars as supporting the roof of the temple hall. The 

CHAP. ix. i. 323 

rhetorical character of the expression comes out clearly again 
in what follows, " and smash them to pieces, i.e. lay them in 
ruins upon the head of all," l where the plural suffix attached 
to DiTC? (with the toneless suffix for DJJVn ; see Ewald, 253, a) 
cannot possibly be taken as referring to the singular liakkaplitor, 
nor even to hassipplm alone, but must refer to the two nouns 
hakkaphtor and hassippim. The reference to hassipplm could 
no doubt be grammatically sustained ; but so far as the sense is 
concerned, it is inadmissible, inasmuch as when a building falls 
to the ground in consequence of its having been laid in ruins 
by a blow from above, the thresholds of the entrance could not 
possibly fall upon the heads of the men who were standing in 
front of it. The command has throughout a symbolical mean 
ing, and has no literal reference to the destruction of the temple. 
The temple symbolizes the kingdom of God, which the Lord 
had founded in Israel ; and as being the centre of that kingdom, 
it stands here for the kingdom itself. In the temple, as the 
dwelling-place of the name of Jehovah, i.e. of the gracious 
presence of God, the idolatrous nation beheld an indestructible 
pledge of the lasting continuance of the kingdom. But this 
support to their false trust is taken away from it by the an 
nouncement that the Lord will lay the temple in ruins. The 
destruction of the temple represents the destruction of the king 
dom of God embodied in the temple, with which indeed the 
earthly temple would of necessity fall to the ground. No one 
will escape this judgment. This is affirmed in the words which 
follow: And their last, their remnant ( acharlth, as in ch. iv. 2), 
I will slay with the sword; as to the meaning of which Cocceius 
has correctly observed, that the magnitude of the slaughter is 
increased exclusione fugientium et eorum, qui videbantur effugisse. 
The apparent discrepancy in the statement, that they will all 
be crushed to pieces by the ruins, and yet there will be fugitives 
and persons who have escaped, is removed at once if we bear in 
mind that the intention of the prophet is to cut off every loop 
hole for carnal security, and that the meaning of the words is 
simply this : " And even if any should succeed in fleeing and 

1 Luther s rendering, " for their avarice shall come upon the head of all 
of them," in which he follows the Vulgate, arose from Di?V2 being con 
founded with 

324 AMOS. 

escaping, God will pursue them with the sword, and slay them " 
(see Hengstenberg, Christology, ou this passage). 

The thought is still further expanded in vers. 2-6. Ver. 2. 
u If they break through into hell, my hand will take them thence ; 
and if they climb up to heaven, thence will I fetch them down. 
Ver. 3. And if they hide themselves upon the top .of Carmel, I 
will trace them, and fetch them thence ; and if they conceal them 
selves from before mine eyes in the bottom of the sea, thence do I 
command the serpent, and it biteth them. Ver. 4. And if they 
go into captivity before their enemies, I will command the sword 
thence, and it slayeth them ; and I direct my eye upon them for 
evil, and not for good" The imperfects, with DK ? are to be 
taken as futures. They do not assume what is impossible as 
merely hypothetical, in the sense of " if they should hide them 
selves ;" but set forth what was no doubt in actual fact an 
impossible case, as though it were possible, in order to cut off 
every escape. For the cases mentioned in vers. 3a and 4a might 
really occur. Hiding upon Carmel and going into captivity 
belong to the sphere of possibility and of actual occurrence. 
In order to individualize the thought, that escape from the 
punishing arm of the Almighty is impossible, the prophet 
opposes the most extreme spaces of the world to one another, 
starting from heaven and hell, as the loftiest height and deepest 
depth of the universe, in doing which he has in all probability 
Ps. cxxxix. 7, 8 floating before his mind. He commences with 
the height, which a man cannot possibly climb, and the depth, 
to which he cannot descend, to show that escape is impossible, 
"inn, to break through, with 3, to make a hole into anything 
(Ezek. viii. 8, xii. 5, 7). According to the Hebrew view, 
Sheol was deep in the interior of the earth. The head of 
Carmel is mentioned (see at Josh. xix. 26). The reference is 
not to the many caves in this promontory, which afford shelter 
to fugitives ; for they are not found upon the head of Carmel, 
but for the most part on the western side (see v. Raumer, Pal. 
p. 44). The emphasis lies rather upon the head, as a height 
overgrown with trees, which. ^ if not very high (about 1800 
feet ; see at 1 Kings xviii. lb /? yet, in comparison with the sea 
over which it rises, might appear to be of a very considerable 
height ; in addition to which, the situation of Carmel, on &e 
extreme western border of the kingdom of Israel, might also 

CHAP. IX. 5, 6. 

be taken into consideration. " Whoever hides himself there, 
must assuredly know of no other place of security in the whole 
of the land besides. And if there is no longer any security 
there, there is nothing left but the sea." But even the deep 
sea-bottom will not shelter from the vengeance of God. God 
commands the serpent, or summons the serpent to bite him. 
Ndchdsh, here the water-serpent, called elsewhere livydthan or 
tannin (Isa. xxvii. 1), a sea-monster, which was popularly sup 
posed to be extremely dangerous, but which cannot be more 
exactly defined. Even by going into captivity, they will not 
be protected from the sword. <l ?^?, not into captivity, but in 
statu captivitatis : even if they should be among those who were 
wandering into captivity, where men are generally sure of their 
lives (see Lam. i. 5). For God has fixed His eye upon them, 
i.e. has taken them under His special superintendence (cf. Jer. 
xxxix. 12) ; not, however, to shelter, to protect, and to bless, 
but njnp, for evil, i.e. to punish them. " The people of the 
Lord remain, under all circumstances, the object of special 
attention. They are more richly blessed than the world, but 
they are also more severely punished" (Hengstenberg). 

To strengthen this threat, Amos proceeds, in vers. 5, 6, to 
describe Jehovah as the Lord of heaven and earth, who sends 
judgments upon the earth with omnipotent power. Ver. 5. 
u And the Lord Jehovah of hosts, who toucheth the earth, and it 
melteth, and all the inhabitants thereupon mourn ; and the whole 
of it riseth like the Nile, and sinketh like the Nile of Egypt. 
Ver. 6. Who buildeth His stories in heaven, and His vault, over 
the earth hath He founded it; who calleth to the waters of the 
sea, and poureth them out over the earth: Jehovah is His name" 
This description of God, who rules with omnipotence, is ap 
pended, as in ch. iv. 13 and v. 8, without any link of connection 
whatever. We must not render it, " The Lord Jehovah of 
hosts is He who toucheth the earth ," but we must supply the 
connecting thought, " And He who thus directeth His eye upon 
you is the Lord Jehovah of hosts, who toucheth the earth, and 
it melteth." The melting or dissolving of the earth is, accord 
ing to Ps. xlvi. 7, an effect produced by the Lord, who makes 
His voice heard in judgments, or " the destructive effect of the 
judgments of God, whose instruments the conquerors are" 
(Hengstenberg), when nations reel and kingdoms totter. The 

326 AMOS. 

Lord therefore touches the earth, so that it melts, when Pie 
dissolves the stability of the earth by great judgments (cf. Ps. 
Ixxv. 4). " Israel could not fail to test the truth of these words 
by painful experience, when the wild hordes of Assyria poured 
themselves over the western parts of Asia" (Hengstenberg). 
The following words, depicting the dissolution of the earth, are 
repeated, with very inconsiderable alterations, from ch. viii. 8 : 
we have merely the omission of n f"U?l, and the kal ""Wi?^ sub 
stituted for the niphal njjBO. In ver. 6 there is evidently an 
allusion to the flood. God, who is enthroned in heaven, in the 
cloud-towers built above the circle of the earth, possesses the 
power to pour the waves of the sea over the earth by His 
simple word. Madloth is synonymous with Hi pj? in Ps. civ. 3 : 
upper rooms, lit. places to which one has to ascend. Agudddh, 
an arch or vault : that which is called rdqla, the firmament, in 
other places. The heaven, in which God builds His stories, is 
the heaven of clouds ; and the vault, according to Gen. i. 7, 
is the firmament of heaven, which divided the water above the 
firmament from the water beneath it. Consequently the upper 
rooms of God are the waters above the firmament, in or out of 
which God builds His stories (Ps. civ. 3), i.e. the cloud-tower 
above the horizon of the earth, which is raised above it like a 
vault. Out of this cloud-castle the rain pours down (Ps. civ. 
13) ; and out of its open windows the waters of the flood 
poured down, and overflowed the earth (Gen. vii. 11). When 
God calls to the waters of the sea, they pour themselves over 
the surface of the earth. The waves of the sea are a figurative 
representation of the agitated multitude of nations, or of the 
powers of the world, which pour their waves over the kingdom 
of God (see at ch. vii. 4). 

The Lord will pour out these floods upon sinful Israel, 
because it stands nearer to Him than the heathen do. Ver. 7. 
"Are ye not like the sons of the Cushites to me, ye sons of Israel? 
is the saying of Jehovah. Have I not brought Israel up out of 
the land of Egypt, and the Philistines out of Caphtor, and Aram 
out of Kir T With these words the prophet tears away from 
the sinful nation the last support of its carnal security, namely, 
reliance upon its election as the nation of God, which the Lord 
has practically confirmed by leading Israel up out of Egypt. 
Their election as the people of Jehovah was unquestionably a 

CHAP. IX. 8-10. 327 

pledge that the Lord would not cast off His people, or suffer 
them to be destroyed by the heathen. But what the apostle 
says of circumcision in Kom. ii. 25 applied to this election also, 
namely, that it was of benefit to none but those who kept the 
law. It afforded a certainty of divine protection simply to those 
who proved themselves to be the children of Israel by their walk 
and conduct, and who faithfully adhered to the Lord. To the 
rebellious it was of no avail. Idolaters had become like the 
heathen. The Cushites are mentioned, not so much as being 
descendants of the accursed Ham, as on account of the black 
ness of their skin, which was regarded as a symbol of spiritual 
blackness (cf. Jer. xiii. 23). The expression " sons (children) 
of the Cushites" is used with reference to the title " sons 
(children) of Israel," the honourable name of the covenant 
nation. For degenerate Israel, the leading up out of Egypt had 
no higher signification than the leading up of the Philistines and 
Syrians out of their former dwelling-places into the lands which 
they at present inhabited. These two peoples are mentioned by 
way of example : the Philistines, because they were despised by 
the Israelites, as being uncircumcised ; the Syrians, with an 
allusion to the threat in ch. i. 5, that they should wander into 
exile to Kir. On the fact that the Philistines sprang from 
Caphtor, see the comm. on Gen. x. 14. 

Election, therefore, will not save sinful Israel from destruc 
tion. After Amos has thus cut off all hope of deliverance from 
the ungodly, he repeats, in his own words in vers. 8 sqq., the 
threat already exhibited symbolically in ver. 1. Ver. 8. " Be 
hold, the eyes of the Lord Jehovah are against the sinful kingdom, 
and I destroy it from off the face of the earth ; except that I shall 
not utterly destroy the house of Jacob : is the saying of Jehovah. 
Yer. 9. For, behold, I command, and shake the house of Israel 
among all nations, as (corn) is shaken in a sieve, and not even a 
little grain falls to the ground. Ver. 10. All the sinners of my 
people will die by the sword, who say, The evil ivill not overtake 
or come to MS." The sinful kingdom is Israel ; not merely the 
kingdom of the ten tribes however, but all Israel, the kingdom 
of the ten tribes along with Judah, the house of Jacob or Israel, 
which is identical with the sons of Israel, who had become like 
the Cushites, although Amos had chiefly the people and king 
dom of the ten tribes in his mind. Bammamldkhdh, not upon 

328 AMOS. 

the kingdom, but against the kingdom. The directing of the 
eye upon an object is expressed by 7JJ (ver. 4) or ^ (cf. Ps. 
xxxiv. 16) ; whereas 3 is used in relation to the object upon 
which anger rests (Ps. xxxiv. 17). Because the Lord had 
turned His eye towards the sinful kingdom, He must extermi 
nate it, a fate with which Moses had already threatened the 
nation in Deut. vi. 15. Nevertheless (*3 DSK ? "only that," 
introducing the limitation, as in Num. xiii. 28, Deut. xv. 4) 
the house of Jacob, the covenant nation, shall not be utterly 
destroyed. The " house of Jacob" is opposed to the " sinful 
nation ; " not, however, so that the antithesis simply lies in the 
kingdom and people (regnnm delebo, non populum), or that the 
u house of Jacob" signifies the kingdom of Judah as distin 
guished from the kingdom of the ten tribes, for the " house of 
Jacob" is perfectly equivalent to the "house of Israel" (ver. 9). 
The house of Jacob is not to be utterly destroyed, but simply 
to be shaken, as it were, in a sieve. The antithesis lies in the 
predicate nxttnn, the sinful kingdom. So far as Israel, as a 
kingdom and people, is sinful, it is to be destroyed from off 
the face of the earth. But there is always a divine kernel in 
the nation, by virtue of its divine election, a holy seed out of 
which the Lord will form a new and holy people and kingdom 
of God. Consequently the destruction will not be a total one, 
a TO^K TO ^n. The reason for this is introduced by kl (for) 
in ver. 9. The Lord will shake Israel among the nations, as 
corn is shaken in a sieve ; so that the chaff flies away, and the 
dust and dirt fall to the ground, and only the good grains are 
left in the sieve. Such a sieve are the nations of the world, 
through which Israel is purified from its chaff, i.e. from its un 
godly members. Ts e ror, generally a bundle; here, according 
to its etymology, that which is compact or firm, i.e. solid grain 
as distinguished from loose chaff. In 2 Sam. xvii. 13 it is 
used in a similar sense to denote a hard piece of clay or a stone 
in a building. Not a single grain will fall to the ground, that 
is to say, not a good man will be lost (cf. 1 Sam. xxvi. 20). 
The self-secure sinners, however, who rely upon their outward 
connection with the nation of God (compare ver. 7 and ch. 
iii. 2), or upon their zeal in the outward forms of worship (ch. 
v. 21 sqq.), and fancy that the judgment cannot touch them 
i??, to come to meet a person round about him, i.e. to 

CHAP. IX. 11, 12. 329 

come upon him from every side), will all perish by the sword. 
This threat is repeated at the close, without any formal link of 
connection with ver. 9, not only to prevent any abuse of the 
foregoing modification of the judgment, but also to remove this 
apparent discrepancy, that whereas in vers. 1-4 it is stated that 
not one will escape the judgment, according to ver. 8&, the 
nation of Israel is not to be utterly destroyed. In order to 
anticipate the frivolity of the ungodly, who always flatter them 
selves with the hope of escaping when there is a threatening of 
any general calamity, the prophet first of all cuts off all possi 
bilities whatever in vers. 1-4, without mentioning the excep 
tions; and it is not till afterwards that the promise is introduced 
that the house of Israel shall not be utterly annihilated, whereby 
the general threat is limited to sinners, and the prospect of 
deliverance and preservation through the mercy of God is 
opened to the righteous. The historical realization or fulfil 
ment of this threat took place, so far as Israel of the ten tribes 
was concerned, when their kingdom was destroyed by the 
Assyrians, and in the case of Judah, at the overthrow of the 
kingdom and temple by the Chaldeans ; and the shaking of 
Israel in the sieve is still being fulfilled upon the Jews who are 
dispersed among all nations. 

Vers. 11-15. THE KINGDOM OF GOD SET UP. Since 
God, as the unchangeable One, cannot utterly destroy His 
chosen people, and abolish or reverse His purpose of salvation, 
after destroying the sinful kingdom, He will set up the new 
and genuine kingdom of God. Ver. 11. " On that day will I 
set up the fallen hut of David, and wall up their rents ; and what 
is destroyed thereof I will set up, and build it as in the days of 
eternity. Ver. 12. That they may take possession of the remnant 
of JEdom, and all the nations upon which my name shall be called, 
is the saying of Jehovah, who doeth such things" " In that day," 
i.e. when the judgment has fallen upon the sinful kingdom, 
and all the sinners of the people of Jehovah are destroyed. 
Sukkdh, a hut, indicates, by way of contrast to bayith, the house 
or palace which David built for himself upon Zion (2 Sam. v. 
11), a degenerate condition of the royal house of David. This 
is placed beyond all doubt by the predicate nopheleth, fallen 
down. As the stately palace supplies a figurative representa- 

330 AMOS. 

tion of the greatness and might of the kingdom, so does the 
fallen hut, which is full of rents and near to destruction, sym 
bolize the utter ruin of the kingdom. If the family of David 
no longer dwells in a palace, but in a miserable fallen hut, its 
regal sway must have come to an end. The figure of the stem 
of Jesse that is hewn down, in Isa. xi. 1, is related to this ; 
except that the former denotes the decline of the Davidic 
dynasty, whereas the fallen hut represents the fall of the king 
dom. There is no need to prove, however, that this does not 
apply to the decay of the Davidic house by the side of the 
great power of Jeroboam (Hitzig, Hofmann), least of all under 
Uzziah, in whose reign the kingdom of Judah reached the 
summit of its earthly power and glory. The kingdom of David 
first became a hut when the kingdom of Judah was overcome 
by the Chaldeans, an event which is included in the prediction 
contained in vers. 1 sqq., and hinted at even in ch. ii. 5. But 
this hut the Lord will raise up again from its fallen condition. 
This raising up is still further defined in the three following 
clauses : " I wall up their rents" (pirtsehen). The plural suffix 
can only be explained from the fact that sukkdh actually refers 
to the kingdom of God, which was divided into two kingdoms 
(" these kingdoms," ch. vi. 2), and that the house of Israel, 
which was not to be utterly destroyed (ver. 8), consisted of the 
remnant of the people of the two kingdoms, or the /c\oytf of 
the twelve tribes ; so that in the expression frwa Wttl there 
is an allusion to the fact that the now divided nation would 
one day be united again under the one king David, as Hosea 
(ch. ii. 2, iii. 5) and Ezekiel (ch. xxxvii. 22) distinctly prophesy. 
The correctness of this explanation of the plural suffix is con 
firmed by vnbin in the second clause, the suffix of which refers 
to David, under whom the destroyed kingdom would rise into 
new power. And whilst these two clauses depict the restora 
tion of the kingdom from its fallen condition, in the third 
clause its further preservation is foretold, nja does not mean 
to " build " here, but to finish building, to carry on, enlarge, 
and beautify the building. The words D?iV ^3 (an abbreviated 
comparison for "as it was in the days of the olden time") point 
back to the promise in 2 Sam. vii. 11, 12, 16, that God would 
build a house for David, would raise up his seed after him, 
and firmly establish his throne for ever, that his house and his 

CHAP. IX. 11, 12. 331 

kingdom should endure for ever before Him, upon which the 
whole of the promise before us is founded. The days of the 
rule of David and of his son Solomon are called " days of eter 
nity," i.e. of the remotest past (compare Mic. vii. 14), to show 
that a long period would intervene between that time and the 
predicted restoration. The rule of David had already received 
a considerable blow through the falling away of the ten tribes. 
And it would fall still deeper in the future ; but, according to 
the promise in 2 Sam. vii., it would not utterly perish, but 
would be raised up again from its fallen condition. It is not 
expressly stated that this will take place through a shoot from 
its own stem ; but that is implied in the fact itself. The 
kingdom of David could only be raised up again through an 
offshoot from David s family. And that this can be no other 
than the Messiah, was unanimously acknowledged by the earlier 
Jews, who even formed a name for the Messiah out of this 
passage, viz. D^S3 "U, filiu-s cadentium, He who had sprung 
from a fallen hut (see the proofs in Hengstenberg s Chris- 
tology, vol. i. p. 386 transl.). The kingdom of David is set up 
in order that they (the sons of Israel, who have been proved 
to be corn by the sifting, ver. 9) may take possession of the 
remnant of Edom and all the nations, etc. The Edomites 
had been brought into subjection by David, who had taken 
possession of their land. At a late period, when the hut of 
David was beginning to fall, they had recovered their freedom 
again. This does not suffice, however, to explain the allusion 
to Edom here ; for David had also brought the Philistines, the 
Moabites, the Ammonites, and the Aramaeans into subjection to 
his sceptre, all of them nations who had afterwards recovered 
their freedom, and to whom Amos foretels the coming judg 
ment in ch. i. The reason why Edom alone is mentioned by 
name must be sought for, therefore, in the peculiar attitude 
which Edom assumed towards the people of God, namely, in 
the fact " that whilst they were related to the Judaeans, they 
were of all nations the most hostile to them " ( Rosen miiller). 
On this very ground Obadiah predicted that judgment would 
come upon the Edomites, and that the remnant of Esau would 
be captured by the house of Jacob. Amos speaks here of the 
" remnant of Edom," not because Amaziah recovered only a 
portion of Edom to the kingdom (2 Kings xiv. 7), as Hitzig 

332 AMOS. 

supposes, but with an allusion to the threat in ch. i. 12, that 
Edom would be destroyed with the exception of a remnant. 
The " remnant of Edom" consists of those who are saved in the 
judgments that fall upon Edom. This also applies to D^arr?3. 
Even of these nations, only those are taken by Israel, i.e. incor 
porated into the restored kingdom of David, the Messianic 
kingdom, upon whom the name of Jehovah is called ; that is 
to say, not those who were first brought under the dominion of 
the nation in the time of David (Hitzig, Baur, and Hofmann), 
but those to whom He shall have revealed His divine nature, 
and manifested Himself as a God and Saviour (compare Isa. 
Ixiii. 19, Jer. xiv. 9, and the remarks on Deut. xxviii. 10), so 
that this expression is practically the same as &p njrp 
(whom Jehovah shall call) in Joel iii. 5. The perfect 
acquires the sense of the futurum exactum from the leading 
sentence, as in Deut. xxviii. 10 (see Ewald, 346, e). ^Bh."., to 
take possession of, is chosen with reference to the prophecy of 
Balaam (Num. xxiv. 18), that Edorn should be the possession 
of Israel (see the eomm. on this passage). Consequently the 
taking possession referred to here will be of a very different 
character from the subjugation of Edom and other nations to 
David. It will make the nations into citizens of the kingdom 
of God, to whom the Lord manifests Himself as their God, 
pouring upon them all the blessings of His covenant of grace 
(see Isa. Ivi. 6-8). To strengthen this promise, U1 " DfcO 
(" saith Jehovah, that doeth this ") is appended. He who says 
this is the Lord, who will also accomplish it (see Jer, xxxiii. 2). 
The explanation given above is also in harmony with the 
use made by James of our prophecy in Acts xv. 16, 17, where 
he derives from vers. 11 and 12 a prophetic testimony to the 
fact that Gentiles who became believers were to be received 
into the kingdom of God without circumcision. It is true that 
at first sight James appears to quote the words of the prophet 
simply as a prophetic declaration in support of the fact related 
by Peter, namely, that by giving His Holy Spirit to believers 
from among the Gentiles as well as to believers from among 
the Jews, without making any distinction between Jews and 
Gentiles, God had taken out of the Gentiles a people eVl TO> 
ovofia-n avrovj " upon His name " (compare Acts xv. 14 with 
Acts xv. 8, 9). But as both James and Peter recognise in 

CHAP. IX. 11, 12. 333 

this fact a practical declaration on the part of God that circum 
cision was not a necessary prerequisite to the reception of the 
Gentiles into the kingdom of Christ, while James follows up the 
allusion to this fact with the prophecy of Amos, introducing it 
with the words, " and to this agree the words of the prophets," 
there can be no doubt that James also quotes the words of the 
prophet with the intention of adducing evidence out of the Old 
Testament in support of the reception of the Gentiles into the 
kingdom of God without circumcision. But this proof is not 
furnished by the statement of the prophet, " through its silence 
as to the condition required by those who were pharisaically 
disposed " (Hengstenberg) ; and still less by the fact that it 
declares in the most striking way " what significance there was 
in the typical kingdom of David, as a prophecy of the relation 
in which the human race, outside the limits of Israel, would 
stand to the kingdom of Christ" (Hofmann, Schriftbeweis, ii. 2, 
pp. 84, 85). For the passage would contain nothing extraordinary 
concerning the typical significance possessed by the kingdom 
of David in relation to the kingdom of Christ, if, as Hofmann 
says (p. 84), the prophet, instead of enumerating all the nations 
which once belonged to the kingdom of David, simply mentions 
Edom by name, and describes all the others as the nations which 
have been subject like Edom to the name of Jehovah. The 
demonstrative force of the prophet s statement is to be found, 
no doubt, as Hofmann admits, in the words N JjpJ "i$K P$iT&| 
D.T7JJ DB\ But if these words affirmed nothing more than 
what Hofmann finds in them namely, that all the nations sub 
dued by David were subjected to the name of Jehovah ; or, as 
he says at p. 83, u made up, in connection with Israel, the king 
dom of Jehovah and His anointed, without being circumcised, 
or being obliged to obey the law of Israel" their demonstrative 
force would simply lie in what they do not affirm, namely, in the 
fact that they say nothing whatever about circumcision being a 
condition of the reception of the Gentiles. The circumstance 
that the heathen nations which David brought into subjection to 
his kingdom were made tributary to himself and subject to the 
name of Jehovah, might indeed be typical of the fact that the 
kingdom of the second David would also spread over the Gen 
tiles ; but, according to this explanation, it would affirm nothing 
at all as to the internal relation of the Gentiles to Israel in the 

334 AMOS. 

new kingdom of God. The Apostle James, however, quotes 
the words of Amos as decisive on the point ii dispute, which the 
apostles were considering, because in the words, " all the nations 
upon whom my name is called," he finds a prediction of what 
Peter has just related, namely, that the Lord has taken out of 
the heathen a people " upon His name," that is to say, because 
he understands by the calling of the name of the Lord upon the 
Gentiles the communication of the Holy Ghost to the Gentiles. 1 
To the setting up of the kingdom and its outward extension 
the prophet appends its inward glorification, foretelling the 
richest blessing of the land (ver. 13) and of the nation (ver. 14), 
and lastly, the eternal duration of the kingdom (ver. 15). Ver. 
13. " Beholdy days come) is the saying of Jehovah, that the plough 
man reaches to the reaper, and the treader of grapes to the sower 
of seed ; and the mountains drip new wine, and all the hills melt 
away. Ver. 14. And I reverse the captivity of my people Israel, 
and they build the waste cities, and dwell, and plant vineyards, 
and drink the wine thereof ; and make gardens, and eat the fruit 
thereof. Ver. 15. And I plant them in their land, and they shall 
no more be torn up out of their land which I have given them, saith 
Jehovah thy God." In the new kingdom of God the people of 
the Lord will enjoy the blessing, which Moses promised to 
Israel when faithful to the covenant. This blessing will be 
poured upon the land in which the kingdom is set up. Ver. 
13a is formed after the promise in Lev. xxvi. 5, " Your thresh 
ing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach 
unto the sowing-time ; " but Amos transfers the action to the 

1 Moreover, James (or Luke) quotes the words of Amos according to the 
LXX., even in their deviations from the Hebrew text, in the words 
CLV l*VjTjjo-<yff/i> ol KXTot^oiTroi Tvv oLvOpuKuv fts (for which Luke has 
, according to Cod. Al.), which rest upon an interchange of 

sBhiK IBH" with DHS nn^ IBHT \ytb ; because the thought 

upon which it turned was not thereby altered, inasmuch as the possession 
of the Gentiles, of which the prophet is speaking, is the spiritual sway of 
the people of the Lord, which can only extend over those who seek the 
Lord and His kingdom. The other deviations from the original text and 
from the LXX. (compare Acts xv. 16 with Amos ix. 11) may be ex 
plained on the ground that the apostle is quoting from memory, and that 
he alters tv r>5 qfttpoi txtivvj (ivatvrviau into ^era ravroc. otvowTptyci) xett 
civoix.o?>oftwa, to give greater clearness to the allusion contained in the pro 
phecy to the Messianic tunes. 

CHAP. IX. 13-15. 335 

persons employed, and says, " The ploughman will reach to the 
reaper." Even while the one is engaged in ploughing the 
land for the sowing, the other will already be able to cut ripe 
corn; so quickly will the corn grow and ripen. And the 
treading of the grapes will last to the sowing-time, so abundant 
will the vintage be. The second half of the verse is taken 
from Joel iv. 18 ; and according to this passage, the melting of 
the hills is to be understood as dissolving into streams of milk, 
new wine, and honey, in which the prophet had the description 
of the promised land as a land flowing with milk and honey 
(Ex. iii. 8, etc.) floating before his mind. In the land so 
blessed will Israel enjoy unbroken peace, and delight itself in 
the fruits of its inheritance. On rpQ^ DK 31K>, see the exposi 
tion of Hos. vi. 11. That this phrase is not used here to denote 
the return of the people from captivity, but the turning of mis 
fortune and misery into prosperity and salvation, is evident 
from the context ; for Israel cannot be brought back out of 
captivity after it has already taken possession of the Gentiles 
(ver. 12). The thought of ver. 14, as attached to ver. 13, is 
the following : As the land of Israel, i.e. the territory of the 
re-erected kingdom of David, will no more be smitten with the 
curse of drought and failing crops with which the rebellious are 
threatened, but will receive the blessing of the greatest fertility, 
so will the people, i.e. the citizens of this kingdom, be no more 
visited with calamity and judgment, but enjoy the rich benefi 
cent fruits of their labour in blessed and unbroken peace. This 
thought is individualized with a retrospective glance at the 
punishment with which the sinners are threatened in ch. v. 11, 
namely, as building waste cities, and dwelling therein, and as 
drinking the wine of the vineyards that have been planted ; 
not building houses for others any more, as was threatened in 
ch. v. 11, after Deut. xxviii. 30, 39 ; and lastly, as laying out 
gardens, and eating the fruit thereof, without its being con 
sumed by strangers (Deut. xxviii. 33). This blessing will 
endure for ever (ver. 15). Their being planted in their land 
denotes, not the settling of the people in their land once more, 
but their firm and lasting establishment and fortification therein. 
The Lord will make Israel, i.e. His rescued people, into a plan 
tation that will never be torn up again, but strikes firm roots, 
sends forth blossom, and produces fruit. The words point back 

336 AMOS. 

to 2 Sam. vii. 10, and declare that the firm planting of Israel 
which was begun by David will be completed with the raising up 
of the fallen hut of David, inasmuch as no further driving away 
of the nation into captivity will occur, but the people of the Lord 
will dwell for ever in the land which their God has given them. 
Compare Jer. xxiv. 6. This promise is sealed by vtf " "ipN. 

We have not to seek for the realization of this promise 
in the return of Israel from its captivity to Palestine under 
Zerubbabel and Ezra; for this was no planting of Israel to 
dwell for ever in the land, nor was it a setting up of the fallen 
hut of David. Nor have we to transfer the fulfilment to the 
future, and think of a time when the Jews, who have been con 
verted to their God and Saviour Jesus Christ, will one day be 
led back to Palestine. For, as we have already observed at 
Joel iii. 18, Canaan and Israel are types of the kingdom of 
God and of the church of the Lord. The raising up of the 
fallen hut of David commenced with the coming of Christ 
and the founding of the Christian church by the apostles ; and 
the possession of Edom and all the other nations upon whom 
the Lord reveals His name, took its rise in the reception of the 
Gentiles into the kingdom of heaven set up by Christ. The 
founding and building of this kingdom continue through all 
the ages of the Christian church, and will be completed when 
the fulness of the Gentiles shall one day enter into the kingdom 
of God, and the still unbelieving Israel shall have been converted 
to Christ. The land which will flow with streams of divine 
blessing is not Palestine, but the domain of the Christian 
church, or the earth, so far as it has received the blessings of 
Christianity. The people which cultivates this land is the 
Christian church, so far as it stands in living faith, and pro 
duces fruits of the Holy Ghost. The blessing foretold by the 
prophet is indeed visible at present in only a very small 
measure, because Christendom is not yet so pervaded by the 
Spirit of the Lord, as that it forms a holy people of God. In 
many respects it still resembles Israel, which the Lord will 
have to sift by means of judgments. This sifting will be first 
brought to an end through the judgment upon all nations, 
which will attend the second coming of Christ. Then will 
the earth become a Canaan, where the Lord will dwell in His 
glorified kingdom in the midst of His sanctified people. 



IS to the person and circumstances of Obadiah, nothing 
certain is known, since the heading to his prophecy 
simply contains the name n^a y, i-e. servant, wor 
shipper of Jehovah ( O/3Stov al. ^4/38iou, sc. opao-is, 
LXX.), and does not even mention his father s name. The 
name Obadiah frequently occurs in its earlier form ObadydJiu. 
This was the name of a pious governor of the palace under 
king Ahab (1 Kings xviii. 3 sqq.), of a prince of Judah under 
Jehoshaphat (2 Chron. xvii. 7), of a brave Gadite under David 
(1 Chron. xii. 9), of a Benjamite (1 Chron. viii. 38), -of an 
Issacharite (1 Chron. vii. 3), of a Zebulunite (1 Chron. xxvii. 
19), of several Levites (1 Chron. ix. 16, 44 ; 2 Chron. xxxiv. 
12), and of different men after the captivity (1 Chron. iii. 21 ; 
Ezra viii. 9 ; Neh. x. 6). The traditional accounts of our pro 
phet in the rabbins and fathers, some of whom identify him 
with Ahab s pious commander of the castle, others with the 
third captain sent by Ahaziah against Elisha (2 Kings i. 13), 
whilst others again make him an Edomitish proselyte (see 
Carpzov, Introd. p. 332 sqq., and Delitzsch, de Plabacuci vita 
atque estate, pp. 60, 61), are quite worthless, and evidently 
false, and have merely originated in the desire to know some 
thing more about him than the simple name (see C. P. Caspari, 
Der Proph. Ob. pp. 2, 3). 

The writing of Obadiah contains but one single prophecy 
concerning the relation in which Edom stood to the people of 
God. It commences with the proclamation of the destruction 
with which the Lord has determined to visit the Edomites, who 
rely upon the impregnability of their rocky seat (vers. 1-9) ; 
and then depict^ as the cause of the divine judgment which 

VOL. I. T 

338 OBAD1AH. 

will thus suddenly burst upon the haughty people, the evil 
which it did to Jacob, the covenant nation, when Judah and 
Jerusalem had been taken by heathen nations, who not only 
plundered them, but shamefully desecrated the mountain of 
Zion (vers. 10-14). For this the Edomites and all nations 
will receive retribution, even to their utter destruction in the 
approaching day of the Lord (vers. 15, 16). But upon Mount 
Zion there will be delivered ones, and the mountain will be 
holy. The house of Jacob will take possession of the settle 
ment of the Gentiles, and, in common with Israel, will destroy 
the Edomites, and extend its territory on all sides (vers. 17-19). 
That portion of the nation which has been scattered about in 
heathen lands will return to their enlarged fatherland (ver. 20). 
Upon Mount Zion will saviours arise to judge Edbm, and the 
kingdom will then be the Lord s (ver. 21). This brief state 
ment of the contents is sufficient to show that Obadiah s pro 
phecy does not consist of a mere word of threatening directed 
against Edom, or treat of so special a theme as that his clidzon 
could be compared to Ahijah s n e b/mdh, and Yehdi s (Iddo s) 
chdzoth against Jeroboam I. (2 Chron. ix. 29) ; but that 
Obadiah takes the general attitude of Edbm towards the 
people of Jehovah as the groundwork of his prophecy, regards 
the judgment upon Edom as one feature in the universal 
judgment upon all nations (cf. vers. 15, 16), proclaims in the 
destruction of the power of Edom the overthrow of the power 
of all nations hostile to God, and in the final elevation and re- 
establishment of Israel in the holy land foretels the completion 
of the sovereignty of Jehovah, i.e. of the kingdom of God, as 
dominion over all nations ; so that we may say with Hengsten- 
berg, that "Obadiah makes the judgment upon the Gentiles 
and the restoration of Israel the leading object of his prophetic 
painting." Through this universal standpoint, from which 
Edom is taken as a representative of the ungodly power of the 
world, Obadiah rises far above the utterances of the earlier 
prophets contained in the historical books of the Old Testa 
ment, and stands on a level with the prophets, who composed 
prophetic writings of their own for posterity, as well as for their 
own age ; so that, notwithstanding the small space occupied by 
his prophecy, it has very properly had a place assigned it in the 
prophetic literature. At the same time, we cannot agree with 


Hengstenberg, who gives the following interpretation to this 
view of the attitude of Edom towards the people of God, 
namely, that Obadrah simply adduces Edom as an- example of 
what he has to say with regard to the heathen world, with its 
enmity against God, and as to the form which the relation 
between Israel and the heathen world would eventually assume, 
and therefore that his prophecy simply individualizes the thought 
of the universal dominion of the kingdom of God which would 
follow the deepest degradation of the people of God, the fullest 
and truest realization of which dominion is to be sought for in 
Christ, and that the germ of his prophecy is contained in Joel 
iii. 19, where Edom is introduced as an individualized example 
and type of the heathen world with its hostility to God, which 
is to be judged by the Lord after the judgment upon Judah. 
For, apart from the fact that Obadiah does not presuppose 
Joel, but vice versa, as we shall presently see, this mode of 
idealizing our prophecy cannot be reconciled with its concrete 
character and expression, or raised into a truth by any ana 
logies in prophetic literature. All the prophecies are occasioned 
by distinct concrete relations and circumstances belonging to 
the age from which they spring. And even those which are 
occupied with the remote and remotest future, like Isa. xl.-lxvi. 
for example, form no real exception to this rule. Joel would 
not have mentioned Edom as the representation of the heathen 
world with its hostility to God (iii. 19), and Obadiah would not 
have predicted the destruction of Edom, if the Edomites had 
not displayed their implacable hatred to the people of God on 
one particular occasion in the most conspicuous manner. It is 
only in this way that we can. understand the contents of the 
whole of Obadiah s prophecy, more especially the relation in 
which the third section (vers. 17-21) stands to the first two, 
and explain them without force. 

The time of the prophet is so much a matter of dispute, 
that some regard him as the oldest of the twelve minor pro 
phets, whilst others place him in the time of the captivity, and 
Hitzig even assigns him to the year 312 B.C., when prophecy 
had long been extinct. (For the different views, see my 
Lelirbucli der Einleitung, 88.) That Obadiah does not be 
long to the prophets of the captivity, or to those after the 
captivity, but to the earlier prophets, may be generally inferred 


from the position of his book in the collection of the twelve 
minor prophets ; for although the collection is not strictly 
chronological, yet it is so arranged as a whole, that the writings 
of the captivity and the times after the captivity occupy the 
last places, whereas Obadiah stands among older prophets. 
More precise information may be obtained from the contents 
of Ms prophecy, more especially from the relation in which it 
stands on the one hand to the prophecy of Jeremiah (xlix. 722) 
concerning Edom, and on the other hand to the prophecy 
of Joel. Obadiah so thoroughly coincides with these in a 
number of characteristic thoughts and expressions, that the one 
must have known the other. If w r e examine, first of all, the 
relation which exists between Obadiah and Jeremiah (I.e.), 
there can be no doubt, (and since the thorough investigations 
of Caspari (p. 5 sqq.) it has been admitted by every one with 
the exception of Hitzig,) that Obadiah did not use Jeremiah, 
but that Jeremiah read and made use of Obadiah. This might 
indeed be conjectured from the peculiar characteristic of Jere 
miah, namely, that he leans throughout upon the utterances of 
the earlier prophets, and reproduces their thoughts, figures, and 
w r ords (see A. Kueper, Jeremias librorum ss. interpres atque 
mndexj 1837). Thus, for example, nearly all his prophecies 
against foreign nations are founded upon utterances of the 
earlier prophets : that against the Philistines (Jer. xlvii.) upon 
Isaiah s prophecy against that people (Isa. xiv. 28-32) ; that 
against the Moabites (Jer. xlviii.) upon that of Isaiah in ch. 
xv. xvi. ; that against the Ammonites (Jer. xlix. 1-6) upon 
the prophecy of Amos against the same (Amos i. 13-15) ; that 
against Damascus (Jer. xlix. 23-27) upon that of Amos against 
this kingdom (Amos i. 3-5) ; and lastly, that against Babylon 
(Jer. 1. li.) upon the prophecy of Isaiah against Babylon in 
Isa. xiii.-xiv. 23. To this we may add, (1) that the pro 
phecy of Jeremiah against Edom contains a number of expres 
sions peculiar to himself and characteristic of his style, not a 
single one of which is to be found in Obadiah, whilst nothing 
is met with elsewhere in Jeremiah of that which is common to 
Obadiah and him (for the proofs of this, see Caspari, pp. 7, 8); 
and (2) that what is common to the two prophets not only 
forms an outwardly connected passage in Obadiah, whereas in 
Jeremiah it occurs in several unconnected passages of his pro- 


phecy (compare Obad. 1-8 with Jer. xlix. 7, 9, 10, 14-16), 
but, as the exposition will show, that in Obadiah it is more 
closely connected and apparently more original than in Jere 
miah. But if it be a fact, as this unquestionably proves, that 
Obadiah s prophecy is more original, and therefore older, than 
that of Jeremiah, Obadiah cannot have prophesied after the 
destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans, but must have 
prophesied before it, since Jeremiah s prophecy against Edom 
belongs to the fourth year of Jehoiakim (see Caspari, p. 14 
sqq., and Graf s Jeremias, pp. 558-9, compared with p. 506). 

The central section of Obadiah s prophecy (vers. 10-16) 
does not appear to harmonize with this result, inasmuch as the 
cause of the judgment with which the Edomites are threatened 
in vers. 1-9 is said to be their rejoicing over Judah and Jeru 
salem at the time of their calamity, when foreigners entered 
into his gates, and cast the lot upon Jerusalem ; and they are 
charged not only with looking upon the destruction of the 
brother nation with contemptuous pleasure, but with taking 
part themselves in the plundering of Judah, and murdering 
the fugitives, or giving them up to their enemies. These re 
proaches unquestionably presuppose a conquest of Jerusalem 
by foreign nations ; but whether it is the destruction of Jeru 
salem by the Chaldeans, is by no means so certain as many 
commentators imagine. It is true that Caspari observes (p. 18), 
that " every one who reads these verses would naturally sup 
pose that they refer to that catastrophe, and to the hostilities 
shown by the Edomites to the Judaeans on that occasion, to 
which those prophets who lived after the destruction of Jeru 
salem, viz. Jeremiah (Lam. iv. 21, 22), Ezekiel (ch. xxxv.), and 
the author of Ps. cxxxvii., refer to some extent in almost the 
same words in which Obadiah speaks of them." But of the 
passages cited, Lam. iv. 21, 22 cannot be taken into account at 
all, since it simply contains the thought that the cup (of afflic 
tion) will also reach to the daughter of Edom ; and that she 
will be intoxicated and stripped, and that Jehovah will punish 
her guilt. The other two are no doubt similar. The Psalmist 
in Ps. cxxxvii. utters this prayer in ver. 7 : " Remember, 
Jehovah, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem, who 
say, Strip, strip (i.e. demolish) even to the foundation thereof;" 
and Ezekiel threatens Edom with everlasting desolation, because 


it has cherished everlasting enmity, and given up the sons of 
Israel to the sword, YP.-ty *"$? D T^ n ^ ( ver> 5)> because it has 
said, The two nations (Judah and Israel) shall be mine, we will 
take possession of them (ver. 10) ; because it has cherished 
hatred toward the sons of Israel, and spoken blasphemy against 
the mountains of Israel, and said they are laid waste, they are 
given to us for food (ver. 12) ; because it has taken pleasure in 
the desolation of the inheritance of the house of Israel (ver. 15). 
There is a most unambiguous allusion here to the desolating of 
Judah and the destruction of Jerusalem, and to the hostilities 
which the Edomites displayed when this calamity fell upon 
Judah. On the other hand, Obadiah does not hint at the 
destruction of Jerusalem in a single word. He neither speaks 
of the everlasting enmity of Edom, nor of the fact that it wanted 
to get possession of Judah and Israel for itself, but simply 
of the hostile behaviour of the Edomites towards the brother 
nation Judah, when enemies forced their way into Jerusalem 
and plundered its treasures, and the sons of Judah perished. 
Consequently Obadiah has before his eyes simply the conquest 
and plundering of Jerusalem by foreign, i.e. heathen foes, but 
not the destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans. Even 
Caspari is obliged to admit, that there is no necessity to under 
stand most (or more correctly " any") of the separate expres 
sions of Obadiah as referring to the destruction of Jerusalem 
by the Chaldeans ; but, in his opinion, -this allusion is required 
by "what is said in vers. 11-14 when taken all together, 
inasmuch as the prophet there describes the day of Jerusalem 
by the strongest possible names, following one upon another, as 
the day of his people s rejection, the day of their distress (twice), 
and the day of their calamity (three times)." But even this we 
cannot regard as w r ell established, since neither i"J Qi 11 nor 
iTS Di* designates the calamitous day as a day of rejection; and 
D*13N D^ cannot possibly denote the utter destruction of all the 
Judseans, but simply affirms that -the sons of Judah perished 
en masse. The other epithets, "i^> ^ n l?> do not enable us 
to define more precisely the nature of the calamity which befel 
Judah at that time ; and the crowding together of these ex 
pressions simply shows that the calamity was a very great one, 
and not that Jerusalem was destroyed and the kingdom of 
Judah dissolved. 


But before the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, 
it was several times taken and plundered by foes : viz. (1) by 
Shishak king of Egypt in the fifth year of Rehoboam (1 Kings 
xiv. 25, 26 ; 2 Chron. xii. 2 sqq.) ; (2) by the Philistines and 
Arabians in the time of Jehoram (2 Chron. xxi. 16, 17) ; (3) 
by the Israelitish king Joash in the reign of Amaziah (2 Kings 
xiv. 13, 14; 2 -Chron. xxv. 23, 24) ; (4) by the Chaldeans in 
the time of Jehoiakim (2 Kings xxiv. 1 sqq. ; 2 Chron. xxxvi. 
6, 7) ; and (5) by the Chaldeans again in the reign of Jehoi- 
achin (2 Kings xxiv. 10 sqq. ; 2 Chron. xxxvi. 10). Of these 
different conquests, the first can have no bearing upon the 
question before us, inasmuch as in the time of Rehoboam the 
Edomites were subject to the kingdom of Judah, and therefore 
could not have attempted to do what Obadiah says they did ; 
nor can the two Babylonian conquests under Jehoiakim and 
Jehoiachin, inasmuch as, according to the relation in which 
Obadiah stood to Jeremiah, as shown above, he must have 
prophesied before they occurred ; nor can the conquest in the 
reign of Amaziah, because Obadiah describes the enemies as 
zdrlm and nokhrlm (strangers and foreigners), which clearly 
points to Gentile nations (compare Joel iii. 1 7 ; Lam. v. 2 ; 
Deut. xvii. 15), and does not apply to the citizens of the king 
dom of the ten tribes. Consequently there only remains the 
taking of Jerusalem by the Philistines and Arabians in the 
time of Jeho r am ; and the relation in which Obadiah stood to 
Joel clearly points to this. 

There is so remarkable a coincidence between vers. 10-18 
of Obadiah and ch. ii. 32 and ch. iii. of Joel, in a very large 
number of words, expressions, and thoughts, considering the 
smallness of the two passages, and especially of that of Oba 
diah, that the dependence of one upon the other must be uni 
versally acknowledged. 1 But this dependence is not to be 
sought for on the side of Obadiah, as Caspari and others sup 
pose ; for the fact that Joel bears the stamp of originality in a 
greater degree than any other prophet, and the circumstance 

1 Compare n p^ *pn DDnp in Ob. 10 with JTW "J3 DJpno in Joel 
iii. 19 ; {nfa VT 1 D^ ; W ^JJI in Ob. 11 with ^-ifa VT 1 W~^[<1 i n J e ^ "* *> 
mn>~Dr iVljpa in Ob. 15 and ^N-o aiB* ^3 ibid, with 
OV anp a (Joel iii. 14, compare" i. 15, ii. l, and iii. 12, 

344 OB ADI AH. 

that we meet with references to him in not a few of the later 
prophets from Amos onwards, furnish no evidence that will 
bear a moment s test. " The originality of Joel," as Delitzsch 
observes, " is no disproof of his dependence ; for, on the one 
hand, the reproduction of certain elements from Obadiah s 
prophecy does not in the least invalidate his originality, inas 
much as the reproduction is itself original ; and, on the other 
hand, not one of the prophets with whom we are acquainted 
(not even Isaiah) is so original as that the prophecies of his 
predecessors are not echoed by him, just as Obadiah, even if 
he were original in relation to Joel, had the prophecies of 
Balaam as his original, and imitates them in several passages 
(compare Num. xxiv. 21, 18, 19 with Ob. 4, 18, 19)." But 
the fact that Joel rests upon Obadiah is proved in the most 
decisive manner by the expression in Joel ii. 32, " as the Lord 
hath said," where the foregoing thought, which is common both 
to Joel and. Obadiah, viz. "in Mount Zion . . . shall be ph e letdh" 
(see Ob. 17), is described as a well-known word of the Lord. 
Now Joel can only have taken this from Obadiah, for it occurs 
nowhere else ; and the idea suggested by Ewald, that it is 
derived from an older oracle that has been lost, would only be 
feasible if the later date of Obadiah, or his dependence upon 
Joel, could be demonstrated by conclusive arguments, which is 
not the case. 

A correct determination of the relation in which Obadiah 
stood to Joel, especially if we compare the prophecies of Amos, 
who also alludes to Joel (compare Joel iii. 16 with Amos i. 2, and 
Joel iii. 18 with Amos ix. 13), leads with the greatest proba 
bility to the conclusion that Obadiah reproaches the Edomites 
with the hostility which they displayed when Judah and Jeru 
salem were plundered by the Philistines and Arabians in the 
time of Jehoram. In the reign of Jehoram the Edomites 
threw off the Judaean supremacy (compare 2 Kings viii. 20- 
22, and 2 Chron. xxi. 8-10) ; and in connection with this 
rebellion, they appear to have planned a great massacre upon 

SB) and D ^in D ?* y v* in Joel m - 4 7 P S 
nt^D rvnn and tshp rrrri in Ob. 17 with np^a irnn D^Bfcn l| :M |i s >*~"irQ 

in Joel ii . 32, and Vl p bfe W nrvni in Joel iii. 17 ; and lastly, rrtrp 
*12n in Ob. 18 and Joel iii. 8. 


the Judaeans, who were in their land at the time (compare 
Joel iii. 19 with Amos i. 11). Libnah also fell away from 
Judah at the same time (2 Kings viii. 22 ; 2 Chron. xxi. 10), 
and Philistines and Arabians penetrated victoriously into 
Judah. This expedition of the Philistines and (Petraean) 
Arabians against Jerusalem was not merely "a passing raid 
on the part of certain of the neighbouring nations who had 
been made tributary by Jehoshaphat (2 Chron. xvii. 11), and 
had rebelled in the time of Jehoram," as Caspari says; but 
these hordes continued their ravages in the most cruel manner 
in Judah and Jerusalem. According to 2 Chron. xxi. 17, they 
burst into the land, forced their way into Jerusalem, plundered 
the royal palace, and carried away the children and wives of 
the king, so that only the youngest son, Jehoahaz or Ahaziah, 
was left behind. We also learn from Joel iii. 5 that they took 
away gold, silver, and jewels from the temple ; and from Joel 
iii. 3, 6, that they carried on the vilest trade with the men 
and women of Judah, and sold the captives to the Greeks, 
and that, as we see from Amos i. 6, 9, through the medium 
of the Phoenicians and Edomites. This agrees perfectly with 
Ob. 10-14. For, according to this passage also, the Edomites 
themselves were not the enemies who conquered Jerusalem and 
plundered its treasures, but simply accomplices, who rejoiced 
in the doings of the enemy (vers. 11 sqq.), held carousals 
with them upon the holy mountain Zion (ver. 16), and sought, 
partly by rapine and partly by slaying or capturing the fugi 
tive Judaeans (ver. 14), to get as much gain as possible out of 
Judah s misfortune. We must therefore regard this event, 
as Hofmann and Delitzsch have done, as the occasion of 
Obadiah s prophecy, and that all the more, because the his 
torical allusions which it contains can thereby be satisfactorily 
explained; whereas the other attempts at solving the difficulties, 
when we look at the thing more closely, prove to be either 
altogether untenable, or such as will not apply throughout. 

Thus, for example, Ewald and Graf (on Jer. xlix. 7 sqq.) 
have endeavoured to reconcile the fact that Jeremiah had read 
the first part of Obadiah as early as the fourth year of Jehoi- 
akim, and had made use of it in his prophecy, with the opinion 
that vers. 10-16 (Ob.) refer to the Chaldean conquest and 
destruction of Jerusalem, by the hypothesis that the first part 


of Obadiah, as we possess it, was founded upon an earlier 
prophecy, which was adopted by the later editor of our book, 
and incorporated in his writings, and which had also been made 
use of by Jeremiah. In support of this hypothesis, the circum 
stance has been adduced, that -Jeremiah s references to Obadiah 
only extend to ver. 9, that the introductory words in Obadiah, 
" Thus saith the Lord Jehovah concerning Edom," do not stand 
in a close connection with what follows immediately after and 
thus appear to have been added at a later period, and that the 
rare word tiphlatst e khd (Jer. xlix. 16), which is not met with 
anywhere else in Jeremiah, is wanting in Obadiah. But the 
first phenomenon may be explained very simply, from the fact 
that the remaining portion of Obadiah (vers. .10-21) furnished 
nothing which Jeremiah could make use of for his object, and 
that we have an analogy in the relation between Jer. xlviii. and 
Isaiah s prophecy concerning Moab (Isa. xv. xvi.), where in just 
the same manner certain portions, viz. Isa. xvi. 1-5, have not 
been made use of at all. Again, the want of any closer logical 
connection between the introduction, "Thus hath the Lord said 
with regard to Edom," and what follows, " We have heard 
rumour from Jehovah," arises from the circumstance that these 
introductory words do not apply exclusively to what follows 
immediately after, but belong to the whole of Obadiah s 
prophecy (see at ver. 1). Moreover, these words could not 
have been wanting even in the supposed earlier or original 
prophecy, inasmuch as what follows would be unintelligible 
without them, since the name Edom, to which the suffixes and 
addresses in vers. lc- apply, would be altogether wanting. 
And lastly, the word tiphlatst e khd, which is otherwise strange 
to Jeremiah, proves nothing in favour of an earlier source, 
which both Obadiah and Jeremiah employed ; nor can we see 
any sufficient reason for its omission when the earlier oracle 
was adopted. The other arguments adduced in support of this 
hypothesis are entirely without significance, if not absolutely 
erroneous. The fact that from ver. 10 onwards, where Jere 
miah ceases to make use of our prophecy, the connection 
between Obadiah and Joel commences, of which there is not 
the slightest trace in vers. 1-9, has its natural foundation in 
the contents of the two parts of Obadiah. The announcement 
of the judgment upon the Edomites in Ob. 1-9 could not be 


made use of by Joel, because, with the exception of the casual 
allusion in ch. iii. 19, he does not treat of the judgment upon 
Edom at all. The contents of Ob. 19 also show the reason 
why no allusion whatever is made in these verses to Israel and 
Jerusalem. The judgment predicted here was not to be exe 
cuted by either Israel or Judah, but by the nations. Grafs 
assertion, that ver. 7 contains an allusion to totally different cir 
cumstances from those referred to in vers. 10 sqq., as the verses 
mentioned relate to altogether disproportionate things, is de 
cidedly incorrect. So also is Ewald s opinion, that half our 
present Obadiah, viz. vers. 1-10, and vers. 17 a and 18, "clearly 
points to an earlier prophet in contents, language, and colour." 
Caspari has already replied to this as follows : " We confess, on 
the contrary, that we can discover no difference in colour and 
language between vers. 1-9 and 10-21. The latter has its a?raf 
\e<yo/jLeva and its rare words just like the former (compare V?D ^an 
ver. 3, V03 ver. 6, Vxo ver. 6, ito? ver. 7, tejj ver. 9, in the first 
paragraph ; and i">?5 ver. 12, njrpBVi ver. 13, p"?.2> ver. 14, W? 
ver. 16, in the second) ; and precisely the same liveliness and 
boldness which distinguished the first part of the prophecy, 
prevail in the second also. Not a single later word, nor a 
single form of more recent date, is met with to indicate the 
later origin of the second part." Moreover, it is impossible to 
discover any well-established analogy in the prophetical writings 
of the Old Testament to support this hypothesis. 

The attempt made by Caspari, Hengstenberg, and others, 
to reconcile the opinion, that Obadiah alludes in vers. 11 sqq. 
to the Chaldean destruction of Jerusalem, with the fact that 
Jeremiah has made use of our book of Obadiah in his prophecy 
against Edom, which was uttered in the reign of Jehoiakim, 
by the assumption that Obadiah is not describing something 
that has already happened, but giving a prophetic picture of the 
future, is wrecked on the wording of the verses in question. 
When Obadiah threatens Edom with shame and destruction on 
account of its wickedness towards its brother Jacob (ver. 10), 
and then describes this wickedness in preterites " On the day 
of thy standing opposite when strangers had come into his gates 
and cast the lot upon Jerusalem" (ver. 11) ; and, " As ye have 
drunk upon my holy mountain, so will all the heathen drink," 
etc. (ver. 16) no one would understand these preterites as used 


prophetically, i.e. as referring to what was not to take place 
till a far distant future, except on the most conclusive grounds. 
Such grounds, however, some imagine that they can find in 
vers. 12-14, where the prophet warns the Edomites not to 
rejoice over their brother nation s day of calamity, or take 
part in the destruction of Judah. Hengstenberg and Caspari 
follow Theodoret, Michaelis, and others, in the opinion that 
Obadiah is predicting the destruction of Jerusalem, and that 
ver. 11 can only be interpreted prophetically, and cannot be 
taken as referring to an ideal past. For, as Caspari adds 
(p. 29), " I might very well be able to warn a person against an 
act, even though he were just about to perform it, and I were 
perfectly certain that he would perform it notwithstanding, and 
my warning would be fruitless, and though I merely warned 
him, that he might not perform it without warning ; but to 
warn a person against an act which he has already performed 
would be a most marvellous thing, even though the warning 
were only given in the spirit and with the deed standing out 
as a present thing." No doubt it is perfectly true that " such 
a warning after the deed was done would be quite out of place," 
if it had reference merely to one isolated act, a repetition of 
which was not to be expected. But if the act already per 
formed was but one single outbreak of a prevailing disposition, 
and might be repeated on every fresh occasion, and possibly 
had already shown itself more than once, a warning against 
such an act could neither be regarded as out of place, nor as 
particularly striking, even after the thing had been done. The 
warnings in vers. 12-14, therefore, do not compel us to interpret 
the preterites in vers. 11 and 16 prophetically, as relating to 
some future deed. Moreover, "the repeated warnings against 
so wicked a deed were simply the drapery in which the prophet 
clothed the prediction of the certain coming of the day of 
Jehovah, which would put an end to the manifestation of such 
a disposition on the part of Edom" (Delitzsch). There is still 
less ground for the further remark of Caspari, that the allusions 
to Joel in Obadiah s description of the day of calamity (not 
"of the destruction") of Jerusalem, unquestionably preclude 
the supposition that he was an eye-witness of that event, and 
require the hypothesis that he wrote either before or a long 
time afterwards. For these allusions are not of such a nature 


that Obadiah simply repeats and still further develops what 
Joel had already prophesied before him, but, on the contrary, 
of such a nature that Joel had Obadiah before his mind, and 
has expanded certain features of his prophecy still further in 
ch. iii. 3-6. The description of the hostilities of the Edomites 
towards Israel, Obadiah could not possibly take from either 
Joel, or Amos ix. 12, or the sayings of Balaam in Num. xxiv. 
18, 19, as Caspari supposes ; because neither of these prophets 
has depicted them any more fully, but can only have drawn 
it from his own experience, and from what he himself had 
seen, so that his prophecy is thereby proved to be the original, 
as compared with that of Joel and Amos. 

All this leads to the conclusion, that we must regard 
Obadiah as older than Joel, and fix upon the reign of Joram 
as the date of his ministry, but without thereby giving him 
" an isolated position ;" for, according to the most correct 
chronological arrangement of their respective dates, Joel pro 
phesied at the most twenty years after him, and Hosea and 
Amos commenced their labours only about seventy-five years 
later. The calamitous event which burst upon Judah and 
Jerusalem, and gave occasion for Obacliah s prophecy, took 
place in the latter part of Joram s eight years reign. Conse 
quently Obadiah cannot have uttered his prophecy, and com 
mitted it to writing, very long before Jehoram s death. At the 
same time, it cannot have been at a later period ; because, on 
the one hand, it produces the unquestionable impression, that 
the hostilities practised by the Edomites were still kept in the 
most lively remembrance ; and on the other hand, it contains 
no hint of that idolatrous worship to which the ruthless Atha- 
liah endeavoured to give the pre-eminence in Judah, after the 
one year s reign of Ahaziah, who succeeded Joram. For the 
commentaries on Obadiah, see my Lehrbuch der Einleitung, 




The prophecy of O badiah, which is- headed the clidzon, 
visio (see at Isa. i>. 1), is divisible into three sections : vers. 
1-9, 10-16, and 17-21. In the first section the prophet pro 

EDOM S RUIN, setting forth, in the first place, the purpose 
of God to make Edom small through the medium of hostile 
nations, and to hurl it down from the impregnable heights of 
its rocky castles (vers. 1-4) ; and then depicting, in lively 
colours, how it will be plundered by enemies, forsaken and 
deceived by allies and friends, and perish in helplessness and 
impotence (vers. 5-9). Ver. 1 contains, in addition to the brief 
heading, the introduction to the prophecy, which gives in a 
brief form the substance of the first section : " Thus hath the 
Lord Jehovah spoken of Edom, A report have we heard from 
Jehovah, and a messenger is sent among the nations : Up, and let 
us arise against it in battle." The first clause, DftK? . . . "1EK nb ? 
does not harmonize with what follows, inasmuch as we should 
expect it to be followed with a declaration made by Jehovah 
Himself, instead of which there follow simply tidings heard 
from Jehovah. The difficulty cannot be removed by assuming 
that these introductory words are spurious, or were added by a 
later prophet (Eichhorn, Ewald, and others) ; for the interpo 
lator could not fail to observe the incongruity of these words 
just as well as Obadiah. Moreover,. QVi&6 could not be omitted 
from the opening, because it is required not only by the suffix 
in n^V (against her), but also by the direct addresses in vers. 2 
sqq. Nor is the assumption that the prophet suddenly altered 
the construction any more satisfactory, or that the declaration 
of Jehovah announced in W ">EN n*3 (" thus saith the Lord") 
commences in ver. 2, and that the words from njnp to the end 
of the verse form an explanatory parenthesis to W ">K na. 
For such an alteration of the construction at the very be- 

VER. 1. 351 

ginning of the address is hardly conceivable ; and the paren 
thetical explanation of the last three clauses of ver. 1 is at 
variance with their contents, which do not form by any means 
a subordinate thought, but rather the main thought of the 
following address. No other course remains, therefore, than 
to take these introductory words by themselves, as Michaelis, 
Maurer, and Caspari have done, in which case ION ro does not 
announce the actual words of Jehovah in the stricter sense, but 
is simply meant to affirm that the prophet uttered what follows 
jussu Jehovce, or divinitus moniius, so that ns ro is really 
equivalent to "EH IK^K " l ? 5 !? n .t * n Isa. xvi. 13, as Theodoret has 
explained it. Cri*K?5?, not " to Edom," but with reference to, or 
of, Edom. On the occurrence of Y e hoi dh after AdOndi, see 
the comm. on Gen. ii. 4. What Obadiah saw as a word of the 
Lord was the tidings heard from the Lord, and the divine 
message sent to the nations to rise up for war against Edom. 
The plural ^DB? (we have heard) is communicative. The 
prophet includes himself in the nation (Israel), which has heard 
the tidings in him and through him. This implies that the 
tidings were of the greatest interest to Israel, and would afford 
it consolation. Jeremiah (xlix. 14) has removed the pregnant 
character of the expression, by introducing the singular *1?|B|* 
(I have heard). The next clause, " and an ambassador," etc., 
might be taken, as it has been by Luther, as a statement of the 
import of the news, namely, that a messenger had been sent ; 
inasmuch as in Hebrew a sentence is frequently co-ordinated 
with the preceding one by Vav cop., when it ought really to be 
subordinated to it so far as the sense is concerned, from a simple 
preference for the parallelism of the clauses. But the address 
gains in force, if we take the clause as a co-ordinate one, just 
as it reads, viz. as a declaration of the steps already taken by 
the Lord for carrying out the resolution which had been heard 
of by report. In this case the substance of the report is not 
given till the last clause of the verse ; the summons of the 
ambassador sent among the nations, " to rise up for war against 
Edom," indicating at the same time the substance of the report 
which Israel has heard. The perfect shulldch with qdmets in the 
pause, which is changed by Jeremiah into the less appropriate 
passive participle kal, corresponds to 1^2^, and expresses in 
prophetic form the certainty of the accomplishment of the 


purpose of God. The sending of the messenger (tsir as in Isa. 
xviii. 2) among the nations (n as in Judg. vi. 35) is an assur 
ance that the nations will rise up at the instigation of Jehovah 
to war against Edom (compare Isa. xiii. 17 ; Jer. li. 1, 11). 
The plural ndqumdh (let us rise up), in the words of the 
messenger, may be explained on the simple ground that the 
messenger speaks in the name of the sender. The sender is 
Jehovah, who will also rise up along with the nations for war 
against Edom, placing Himself at their head as leader and 
commander (compare Joel ii. 11 ; Isa. xiii. 4, 5). nvtf, against 
Edom, construed as a land or kingdom, gener. fcem. The fact 
that it is the nations generally that are here summoned to make 
war upon Edom, and not any one nation in particular, points 
at once to the fact that Edom is regarded as a type of the 
power of the world, and its hostility to God, the destruction of 
which is here foretold. 

Vers. 2-4. The Lord threatens Edom with war, because 
He has determined to reduce and humble the nation, which 
now, with its proud confidence in its lofty rocky towers, regards 
itself as invincible. Ver. 2. " Behold, I have made tliee small 
among the nations ; thou art greatly despised. Ver. 3. The pride 
of thy heart hath deceived thee; thou that dwellest in rocky castles, 
upon its lofty seat ; that saith in its heart. Who will cast me down 
to the ground^ Ver. 4. If thou buildest high like the eagle, and 
if thy nest were placed among stars, thence ivill 1 cast thee down, 
is the saying of Jehovah" Ver. 2 is correctly attached in Jere 
miah (ver. 15) by *3, inasmuch as it contains the reason for 
the attack upon Edom. By hinneh (behold), which points to 
the fact itself, the humiliation of Edom is vividly presented to 
the mind. The perfect ndthattl " describes the resolution of 
Jehovah as one whose fulfilment is as certain as if it had 
already occurred" (Caspari). What Jehovah says really takes 
place. |bj5 refers to the number of the people. The participle 
^Ta is perfectly appropriate, as expressing the ideal present, 
i.e. the present which follows the T? PP- When the Lord 
has made Edom small, it will be very much despised. It is 
only through an incorrect interpretation of the historical present 
that Hitzig could possibly be led to regard the participle as 
unsuitable, and to give the preference to Jeremiah s D*]5J2 ^T3. 
Ver. 3 contains a consequence which follows from ver. 2. Edom 

VEBS. 2-14. 353 

will be unable to avert this fate : its lofty rocky castles will not 
preserve it from the overthrow which has been decreed by the 
Lord, and which He will carry out through the medium of the 
nations. Edom has therefore been deceived by its proud reliance 
upon these rocky towers, ^3b>, with the connecting sound * 
attached to the construct state (see at Gen. xxxi. 39), is a voca 
tive. yta tin are rocky towers, though the primary meaning 
of tin is open to dispute. The word is derived from the root 
njn, which is not used in Hebrew (like ^Vi? from n yp), and is 
found not only here and in the parallel passage of Jeremiah, 
but also in the Song of Sol. ii. 14, where it occurs in parallelism 
with "inp, which points to the meaning refugium, i.e. asylum. 
This meaning has also been confirmed by A. Schultens (Anim- 
adv. ad Jes. xix. 17) and by Michaelis (Thes. s.v. Jes.), from 


the Arabic Irs^s*., confugit, and Wu=L, refugium. 1 In the 

expression ifi?t? Ei">P the 3 is to be considered as still retain 
ing its force from tin onwards (cf. Isa. xxviii. 7 ; Job xv. 3, 
etc). The emphasis rests upon high ; and hence the abstract 
noun mdrom, height, instead of the adjective. The Edomites 
inhabited the mountains of Seir, which have not yet been 
carefully explored in detail. They are on the eastern side of 
the Ghor (or Arabah), stretching from the deep rocky valley 
of the Ahsy, which opens into the southern extremity of the 
Dead Sea, and extending as far as ^Ela on the Red Sea, and 
consist of mighty rocks of granite and porphyry, covered with 
fresh vegetation, which terminate in the west, towards the 
deeply intersected sand-sea of the Ghor and Arabah, in steep 
and lofty walls of sandstone. The mountains are hardly acces 
sible, therefore, on the western side ; whereas on the east they 

1 The renderings adopted on the authority of the ancient versions, such 
as clefts of the rock, scissurse, jagged rocks, fissures (oV/, LXX.), caves, 
which are derived either from the supposed connection between njn and 

npn, and the Arabic ^^-, fidit, laceravit, or from the Arabic ^>->, 

antrum (with the letters transposed), have far less to sustain them. For 
the meanings assigned to these Arabic words are not the primary meanings, 
but derivative ones. The former signifies literally propulit, the latter 

S ^ i 

confugit, iv. effecit ut ad rem conjugeret ; and ^&?j* means refugium^ 

VOL. I. Z 


are gradually lost in the broad sandy desert of Arabia, without 
any perceptible fall (see Burckhardt in v. Eaumer s Pal. pp. 
83-4, 86 ; and Robinson s Palestine, ii. p. 551 sqq.). They also 
abound in clefts, with both natural and artificial caves ; and 
hence its earliest inhabitants were Horites, i.e. dwellers in 
caves ; and even the Edomites dwelt in caves, at least to some 
extent. 1 The capital, Sela (Petra), in the Wady Musa, of 
whose glory at one time there are proofs still to be found in 
innumerable remains of tombs, temples, and other buildings, 
was shut in both upon the east and west by rocky walls, which 
present an endless variety of bright lively colours, from the 
deepest crimson to the softest pale red, and sometimes passing 
into orange and yellow ; whilst on the north and south it was 
so encircled by hills and heights, that it could only be reached 
by climbing through very difficult mountain passes and defiles 
(see Burckhardt, Syr. p. 703 ; Robinson, Pal. ii. p. 573 ; and 
Hitter, Erdk. xiv. p. 1103) ; and Pliny calls it oppidum circum- 
datum montibus inaccessis. Compare Strabo, xvi. 779 ; and for 
the different roads to Petra, Ritter, p. 997 sqq. Ver. 4 shows 
the worthlessness of this reliance of the Edomites. The object 
to i^n, viz. ^31?, does not follow till the second clause : If 
thou makest thy nest high like the eagle, which builds its nest 
upon the loftiest jagged rocks (Job xxxix. 27, 28). This 
thought is hyperbolically intensified in the second clause : if 
thy nest had been placed among stars. && is not an infinitive, 
but a passive participle, as in the primary passage, Num. xxiv. 
21, which Obadiah had before his mind, and in 1 Sam. ix. 24, 
2 Sam. xiii. 32 ; but 1j>i? is nevertheless to be taken as an accu 
sative of the object, after the analogy of the construction of 
passives c. accus. obj. (see Ges. 143, /, a.) 

Vers. 5-7. The prophet sees this overthrow of Edom from 
its lofty height as something that has already happened, and 
he now depicts the utter devastation of Edom through the 
medium of the enemies whom Jehovah has summoned against 
it. Ver. 5. " If thieves had come to thee, if robbers by niylit, 

1 Jerome observes on ver. 6 : " And indeed . . . throughout the whole 
of the southern region of the Idumseans, from Eleutheropolis to Petra and 
Hala (for this is a possession of Esau), there are small dwellings in caves; 
and on account of the great heat of the sun, since it is e southern pro 
vince, subterranean huts are used." 

VJ:RS. 5-7. 3o5 

alas, how art thou destroyed ! would they not steal their suffi 
ciency f If vine-dressers had come to thee, would they not leave 
gleanings ? Ver. 6. How have the things of Esau been explored, 
his hidden treasures desired! Ver. 7. Even to the border have 
all the men of thy covenant sent thee : the men of thy peace have 
deceived thee, overpowered thee. Tliey make thy bread a ivound 
under thee. There is no understanding in him" In order to 
exhibit the more vividly the complete clearing out of Edom, 
Obadiah supposes two cases of plundering in which there is 
still something left (ver. 5), and then shows that the enemies 
in Edom will act much worse than this. EX with the perfect 
supposes a case to have already occurred, when, although it 
does not as yet exist in reality, it does so in imagination. 0^23 
are common thieves, and nW HIE* robbers by night, who carry 
off another s property by force. With this second expression, 
the verb *I? W3 must be repeated. " To thee," i.e. to do thee 
harm ; it is actually equivalent to- " upon thee." The follow 
ing words Hjn 11 ^^ ^K cannot form the apodosis to the two pre 
vious clauses, because nidmethdh is too strong a term for the 
injury inflicted by thieves or robbers, but chiefly because the 
following expression W to?V. Kvn is irreconcilable with such an 
explanation, the thought that thieves steal D^ being quite 
opposed to nidmdh, or being destroyed. The clause " how art 
thou destroyed " must rather be taken as pointing far beyond 
the contents of vers. 5c and 6. It is more fully explained in 
ver. 9, and is thereby proved to be a thought thrown in paren 
thetically, with which the prophet anticipates the principal fact 
in his lively description, in the form of an exclamation of amaze 
ment. The apodosis to J im ganndbliim (if robbers, etc.) follows 
in the words " do they not steal" (= they surely steal) day yam, 
i.e. their sufficiency (see Delitzsch on Isa. xl. 16); that is to 
say, as much as they need, or can use, or find lying open before 
them. The picture of the grape-gatherers says the same thing. 
They also do not take away all, even to the very last, but leave 
some gleanings behind, not only if they fear God, according to 
Lev. xix. 10, Deut. xxiv. 21, as Hitzig supposes, but even if 
they do not trouble themselves about God s commandments at 
all, because many a bunch escapes their notice which is only 
discovered on careful gleaning. Edom, on the contrary, is 
completely cleared out. In ver. 6 the address to Edom passes 

3 515 O BADIAH. 

over into words concerning him. TO is construed as a collective 
with the plural. TK is a question of amazement. Chdphas, 
to search through, to explore (cf. Zeph. i. 12, 13). Badh 
(nibh u), to beg, to ask; here in the nipJtal to be desired. 
Matspon, air. Xey. from tsdphan, does not mean a secret place, 
but a hidden thing or treasure (ra K/cpvp/j,eva CLVTOV, LXX.). 
Obadiah mentions the plundering first, because Petra, the 
capital of Edom, was a great emporium of the Syrio-Arabian 
trade, where many valuables were stored (vid. Diod. Sic. xix. 
95), and because with the loss of these riches the prosperity 
and power of Edom were destroyed. 1 Ver. 7. In the midst of 
this calamity Edom will be forsaken and betrayed by its allies, 
and will also be unable to procure any deliverance for itself 
by its own understanding. The allies send Edom even to the 
border. The meaning of this is not that they will not receive 
the Edomitish fugitives, but drive them back to the frontier, so 
that they fall into the hands of the enemy (Hitzig and others) ; 
for the suffix ^J cannot refer to the small number of fugitives 
from Edom who have escaped the massacre, but applies to Edom 
as a nation. The latter seeks for help and support from their 
allies, namely, through the medium of ambassadors whom it 
sends to them. But the ambassadors, and in their persons the 
Edomites themselves, are sent back to the frontier by all the 
allies, because they will not entangle themselves in the fate of 
Edom. Sending to the frontier, however, is not to be under 
stood as signifying that the allies " send their troops with them 
as far as the frontier, and then order them to turn back," 
as Michaelis supposes; for "if the allies were unwilling to 
help, they would hardly call out the army to march as far as 
the frontier" (Hitzig). Nor is this implied either in *prw or 
^ tpn ; for shilledch means to send away, to dismiss, and both 
here and in Gen. xii. 20 to send across the frontier. This 
was a deception of the expectation of the Edomites, although 
the words " have deceived thee" belong, strictly speaking, to 
what follows, and not to the conduct of the allies. 

1 Jeremiah (ch. xlix. 9) has greatly altered the words of Obadiah, 
dropping the comparison of the enemy to thieves and grape-gatherers, and 
representing the enemy as being themselves grape-gatherers who leave no 
gleaning, and thieves who waste till they have enough ; and thereby con 
siderably weakening the poetical picture. 

VERS. 5-7. 357 

an expression taken from Ps. xli. 10, both here and in Jer. 
xxxviii. 22 (cf. xx. 10), the men or people with whom thou 
didst live in peace, are probably neighbouring Arabian tribes, 
who had made commercial treaties with the Edomites. They 
deceived, or rather overpowered, Edom. ^3* is the practical 
explanation and more precise definition of ^K^n. Brut the 
answer to the question whether the overpowering was carried 
out by cunning and deception (Jer. xx. 10, xxxviii. 22), or by 
open violence (Gen. xxxii. 26 ; Ps. cxxix. 2), depends upon the 
explanation given to the next sentence, about which there are 
great diversities of opinion, partly on account of the different 
explanations given of 1^?, and partly on account of the 
different renderings given to "to. The latter occurs in Hos. 
v. 13 and Jer. xxx. 13 in the sense of a festering wound or 
abscess, and the rabbinical commentators and lexicographers 
have retained this meaning in the passage before us. On the 
other hand, the older translators have here eveSpa (LXX.), 

NJj?fi, offence, GKavSaXov (Chald.), }j]iOjQ, insidice (Syr.), Aq. 

and Symm. o-^Secryiio? and em Secm, Vulg. insidice ; and hence 
the modern rendering, they lay a snare, or place a trap under 
thee. But this rendering cannot be vindicated etymologically, 
since zur (= zdrar) does not mean to bind, but to press together 
or squeeze out. Nor can the form mdzor be taken as a con 
traction of nfzOrdli, as Hitzig supposes, since this is derived 
from zdrdh, to strew or scatter. And no weight is to be 
attached to the opinion of Aquila with his literal translation, 
for the simple reason that his rendering of Hos. v. 13 is 
decidedly false. Ewald and Hitzig prefer the rendering 
" net ;" but this, again, cannot be sustained either from the 
expression m zdrdh hdreshet/i in Prov. i. 17 (Hitzig), or from 
the Syriac rrfzar, extendit (Ges. Addid. ad thes. p. 96). The 
only meaning that can be sustained is abscess or wound. We 
must therefore adhere to the rendering, " they make thy bread 
a wound under thee." For the proposal to take lachm khd (thy 
bread) as a second genitive dependent upon anshg (the men), 
is not only opposed to the accents and the parallelism of the 
members, according to which anshg slfldmekhd (the men of thy 
peace) must conclude the second clause, just as anshe (frlthekhd 
(the men of thy covenant) closes the first ; but it is altogether 


unexampled, and the expression anshe lachm kM is itself unheard 
of. For this reason we must not even supply anshe to lack- 
m klid from the previous sentence, or make " the men of thy 
bread" the subject, notwithstanding the fact that the LXX., 
the Chald., the Syr., and Jerome have adopted this as the 
meaning. Still less can lachm e khd stand in the place of v3N 
SJDTO (they that eat thy bread), as some suppose. Lachm e k/td 
can only be the first object to ydslmu, and consequently the 
subject of the previous clause still continues in force : they 
who befriended thee make thy bread, i.e. the bread which they 
ate from thee or with thee, not " the bread which thou seekest 
from them" (Hitzig), into a wound under thee, i.e. an occasion 
for destroying thee. We have not to think of common meals 
of hospitality here, as Rashi, Rosenmuller, and others do ; but 
the words are to be taken figuratively, after the analogy of 
Ps. xli. 10, which floated before the prophet s mind, " He that 
eateth bread with me hath lifted up the heel against me," as 
denoting conspiracies on the part of those who were allied to 
Edom, and drew their own sustenance from it, the rich trading 
nation, to destroy that very nation which was now oppressed 
by its foes. The only difficulty is in the word T^?> under 
thee, inasmuch as the meaning "without thy knowledge" 
(clam te), which Vatablus and Drusius adopt, cannot be sus 
tained, and least of all from 2 Sam. iii. 12. We must connect 
T^nri closely with "to, in this sense, that the wound is inflicted 
upon the lower part of the body, to express its dangerous nature, 
inasmuch as wounds upon which one sits or lies are hard to heal. 
Consequently ^ v3J (they prevail against thee) is to be under 
stood as denoting conquest, not by an unexpected attack or 
open violence, but by cunning and deceit, or by secret treachery. 
The last clause, W njun PK, does not give the reason why 
the thing described was to happen to the Edomites (Chald., 
Theod.) ; nor is it to be connected with mdzor as a relative 
clause (Hitzig), or as explanatory of T^nn, " to thee, without 
thy perceiving it, or before thou perceivest it" (Luther and 
L. de Dieu). The very change from the second person to 
the third (ia) is a proof that it introduces an independent 
statement, namely, that in consequence of the calamity which 
thus bursts upon the Edomites, they lose their wonted discern 
ment, and neither know what to do nor how to help them- 

VERS. 8, 9. 359 

selves (Maurer and Caspar!). This thought is expanded still 
further in vers. 8, 9. 

Yer. 8. " Does it not come to pass in that day, is the saying 
of Jehovah, that I destroy the ivise men out of Edom, and dis 
cernment from the mountains of Esau? Ver. 9. And thy heroes 
despair , Teman, that every one may be cut off by murder from 
the mountains of Esau" In order to give up the Edomites to 
destruction at that time, the Lord will take away discernment 
from their wise men, so that even they will not be able to help 
them. The destruction of the wise men is not to be under 
stood as signifying that the wise men will all be slain, or slain 
before any others, but simply that they will be destroyed as 
wise men by the withdrawal or destruction of their wisdom. 
This meaning is sustained, not only by the fact that in the 
second clause t e bhundh only is mentioned as that which is to be 
destroyed, but also by the parallel passages, Jer. xlix. 7, Isa. 
xix. 11, xxix. 14. Jeremiah mentions here the wisdom of the 
Temanites in particular. That they were celebrated for their 
wisdom, is evident not only from this passage, but also from 
the fact that Eliphaz, the chief opponent of Job in argument, 
was a Temanite (Job ii. 1, etc.). With this withdrawal of 
wisdom and discernment, even the brave warriors lose their 
courage. The heroes are dismayed (chattu), or fall into 
despair. Tentdn, which the Chaldee has rendered incorrectly 
as an appellative, viz. inhabitant of the south (ddrdma), is a 
proper name of the southern district of Idumsea (see at Amos 
i. 12), so called from Teman, a son of Eliphaz and grandson 
of Esau (Gen. xxxvi. 11, 1.5). Gibborekhd (thy heroes), with 
the masculine suffix, the people inhabiting the district being 
addressed under the name of the district itself. God inflicts 
this upon Edom with the intention (l e maan, to this end) that 
all the Edomites should be cut off. Miqqdtel, from the mur 
dering, by murder (compare Gen. ix. 11, where min occurs 
after yikkdreth in this sense); not " without conflict/ as Ewald 
renders it, for qetel signifies slaying, and not conflict. The 
thought of connecting miqqdtel witli what follows cannot for 
a moment be entertained (vid. LXX., Syr., Vulg.). It is 
opposed not only by the authority of the Masoretic punctuation, 
but still more decisively by the fact, that the stronger and more 
special word (qetef) cannot precede the weaker and more gene- 


ral one (chdmds), and that the murder of certain fugitives is 
placed first in the list of crimes committed by Edom upon the 
Israelites (vers. 10-14). 

is their wickedness towards the brother nation Jacob (vers. 10 
and 11), which is still further exhibited in vers. 12-14 in the 
form of a warning, accompanied by an announcement of 
righteous retribution in the day of the Lord upon all nations 
(vers. 15, 16). Ver. 10. "For the wickedness towards thy 
brother Jacob shame will cover thee, and thou wilt be cut off for 
ever. Ver. 11. In the day that thou stoodest opposite, in the day 
when enemies carried away his goods, and strangers came into his 
gates, and cast the lot upon Jerusalem, then even thou (wast) 
like one of them." Chdmas dchlkhd, wickedness, violent wrong 
towards (upon) thy brother (genit. obj. as in Joel iii. 19, Gen. 
xvi. 5, etc.). Drusius has already pointed out the peculiar 
emphasis on these words. Wrong, or violence, is all the more 
reprehensible, when it is committed against a brother. The 
fraternal relation in which Edom stood towards Judah is still 
more sharply defined by the name Jacob, since Esau and 
Jacob were twin brothers. The consciousness that the Israel 
ites were their brethren, ought to have impelled the Edomites 
to render helpful support to the oppressed Judseans. Instead 
of this, they not only revelled with scornful and malignant 
pleasure in the misfortune of the brother nation, but endea 
voured to increase it still further by rendering active support to 
the enemy. This hostile behaviour of Edom arose from envy 
at the election of Israel, like the hatred of Esau towards Jacob 
(Gen. xxvii. 41), which was transmitted to his descendants, and 
came out openly in the time of Moses, in the unbrotherly 
refusal to allow the Israelites to pass in a peaceable manner 
through their land (Num. xx.). On the other hand, the Israel 
ites are always commanded in the law to preserve a friendly 
and brotherly attitude towards Edom (Deut. ii. 4, 5) ; and in 
Deut. xxiii. 7 it is enjoined upon them not to abhor the Edomite, 
because he is their brother, npn ^jpDri (as in Mic. vii. 10), 
shame will cover thee, i.e. come upon thee in full measure, 
namely, the shame of everlasting destruction, as the following 
explanatory clause clearly shows. 1 w ^^ ^ av consec -y 

VERS. 10. 11. 3fil 

with the tone upon the penultima, contrary to the rule (cf. Ges. 
49, 3 ; Ewald, 234, b and c). In the more precise account 
of Edom s sins given in ver. 11, the last clause does not answer 
exactly to the first. After the words " in the day that thou 
stoodest opposite," we should expect the apodosis " thou didst 
this or that." But Obadiah is led away from the sentence 
which he has already begun, by the enumeration of hostilities 
displayed towards Judah by its enemies, so that he observes 
with regard to Edom s behaviour : Then even thou wast as one 
of them, that is to say, thou didst act just like the enemy. 
"uarp 1py ? to stand opposite (compare Ps. xxxviii. 12), used here 
to denote a hostile intention, as in 2 Sam. xviii. 13. They 
showed this at first by looking on with pleasure at the misfor 
tunes of the Judaaans (ver. 12), still more by stretching out 
their hand after their possessions (ver. 13), but most of all by 
taking part in the conflict with Judah (ver. 14). In the 
clauses which follow, the day when Edom acted thus is de 
scribed as a day on which Judah had fallen into the power of 
hostile nations, who carried off its possessions, and disposed of 
Jerusalem as their booty. Zdrlm and nokhrim are synony 
mous epithets applied to heathen foes, niic> generally denotes 
the carrying away of captives ; but it is sometimes applied to 
booty in cattle and goods, or treasures (1 Chron. v. 21; 2 Chron. 
xiv. 14, xxi. 17). ^n is not used here either for the army, or 
for the strength, i.e. the kernel of the nation, but, as i? s n in 
ver. 13 clearly shows, for its possessions, as in Isa. viii. 4, x. 14, 
Ezek. xxvi. 12, etc. VW, his (Judah s) gates, used rhetori 
cally for his cities. Lastly, Jerusalem is also mentioned as the 
capital, upon which the enemies cast lots. The three clauses 
form a climax : first, the carrying away of Judah s possessions, 
that is to say, probably those of the open country ; then the 
forcing of a way into the cities ; and lastly, arbitrary pro 
ceedings both in and with the capital. <Tjll VP (perf. kal of 
VP = nT ? not piel for VP*, because the Yod prcef. of the imper 
fect piel is never dropped in verbs S D), to cast the lot upon 
booty (things) and prisoners, to divide them among them (com 
pare Joel iii. 3 and Nah. iii. 10). Caspari, Hitzig, and others 
understand it here as in Joel iii. 3, as denoting the distribution 
of the captive inhabitants of Jerusalem, and found upon this 
one of their leadmg arguments, that the description given here 


refers to the destruction of Jerusalem, which Obadiah either 
foresaw in the Spirit, or depicts as something already ex 
perienced. But this by no means follows from the fact that 
in Joel we have W instead of WKTP> since it is generally 
acknowledged that, when the prophets made use of their pre 
decessors, they frequently modified their expressions, or gave 
them a different turn. But if we look at our passage simply 
as it stands, there is not the slightest indication that Jerusalem 
is mentioned in the place of the people. As fen nut? does not 
express the carrying away of the inhabitants, there is not a 
single syllable which refers to the carrying away captive of 
either the whole nation or the whole of the population of Jeru 
salem. On the contrary, in ver. 13 we read of the perishing 
of the children of Judah, and in ver. 14 of fugitives of Judah, 
and those that have escaped. From this it is very obvious that 
Obadiah had simply a conquest of Jerusalem in his eye, when 
part of the population was slain in battle and part taken cap 
tive, and the possessions of the city were plundered; so that the 
casting of the lot upon Jerusalem has reference not only to the 
prisoners, but also to the things taken as plunder in the city, 
which the conquerors divided among them, nnx D3, even thou, 
the brother of Jacob, art like one of them, makest common 
cause with the enemy. The verb | " 1 ^\ <l i7j thou wast, is omitted, 
to bring the event before the mind as something even then 
occurring. For this reason Obadiah also clothes the further 
description of the hostilities of the Edomites in the form of a 
warning against such conduct. 

Ver. 12. lt And look not at the day of thy brother on the day 
of his misfortune ; and rejoice not over the sons of Judah in the 
day of their perishing, and do not enlarge thy mouth in the day 
of the distress. Ver. 13. Come not into the gate of my people 
in the day of their calamity ; thou also look not at his misfortune 
in the day of his calamity, and stretch not out thy hand to his 
possession in the day of his calamity : Ver. 14. Nor stand in the 
cross-road, to destroy his fugitives, nor deliver up his escaped ones 
in the day of distress" This warning cannot be satisfactorily 
explained either " on the assumption that the prophet is here 
foretelling the future destruction of Judah and Jerusalem " 
(Caspari), or " on the supposition that he is merely depicting 
an event that has already past" (Hitzig). If the taking and 

VEKS. 12-14. 363 

plundering of Jerusalem were an accomplished fact, whether in 
idea or in reality, as it is shown to be by the perfects *N3 and FP 
in ver. 11, Obadiah could not in that case warn the Edomites 
against rejoicing over it, or even taking part therein. Hence 
Drusius, Rosenmuller, and others, take the verbs in vers. 12-14 
as futures of the past: "Thou shouldest not have seen, shouldest 
not have rejoiced," etc. But this is opposed to the grammar, ^x 
followed by the so- called fut. apoc. is jussive, and cannot stand 
for the pluperf. conjunct. And Maurer s suggestion is just as 
untenable, namely, that yom in ver. 11 denotes the day of the 
capture of Jerusalem, and in vers. 12, 13 the period after 
this day ; since the identity of 1*]Og Di 1 (the day of thy 
standing) in ver. 11 with T^N DV in ver. 12 strikes the eye at 
once. The warning in vers. 12-14 is only intelligible on the 
supposition, that Obadiah has not any particular conquest 
and plundering of Jerusalem in his mind, whether a future 
one or one that has already occurred, but regards this as an 
event that not only has already taken place, but will take place 
again : that is to say, on the assumption that he rises from 
the particular historical event to the idea which it embodied, 
and that, starting from this, he sees in the existing case all sub 
sequent cases of a similar kind. From this ideal standpoint he 
could warn Edom of what it had already done, and designate 
the disastrous day which had come upon Judah and Jerusalem 
by different expressions as a day of the greatest calamity ; for 
what Edom had done, and what had befallen Judah, were types 
of the future development of the fate of Judah and of the 
attitude of Edom towards it, which go on fulfilling themselves 
more and more until the day of the Lord upon all nations, 
upon the near approach of which Obadiah founds his warning 
in ver. 15. The warning proceeds in vers. 12-14 from the 
general to the particular, or from the lower to the higher. 
Obadiah warns the Edomites, as Hitzig says, " not to rejoice in 
Judah s troubles (ver. 12), nor to make common cause with 
the conquerors (ver. 13), nor to outdo and complete the work of 
the enemy (ver. 14)." By the cop. Fat?, which stands at the 
head of all the three clauses in ver. 12, the warning addressed 
to the Edomites, against such conduct as this, is linked on to 
what they had already done. The three clauses of ver. 12 contain 
a warning in a graduated form against malicious pleasure. nan 


with 3, to look at anything with pleasure, to take delight in it, 
affirms less than 3 np^ ? to rejoice, to proclaim one s joy without 
reserve. HQ THiin, to make the mouth large, is stronger still, 
like i"iD:i Wp, to boast, to do great things with the mouth, equi 
valent to /V na ^rnrij to make the mouth broad, to stretch it 
open, over (against) a person (Ps. xxxv. 21 ; Isa. Ivii. 4), a 
gesture indicating contempt and derision. The object of their 
malicious pleasure mentioned in the first clause is yom dchlkhd, 
the day of thy brother, i.e. the day upon which something 
strange happened to him, namely, what is mentioned in ver. 11. 
Yom does not of itself signify the disastrous day, or day of ruin, 
either here or anywhere else ; but it always receives the more 
precise definition from the context. If we were to adopt the 
rendering " disastrous day," it would give rise to a pure tauto 
logy when taken in connection with what follows. The expres 
sion dchikhd (of thy brother) justifies the warning. 1"O3 D^a is 
not in apposition to T?N tri 3, but, according to the parallelism 
of the clauses, it is a statement of time. "133, UTT. Xey. = "133 
(Job xxxi. 3), fortuna aliena, a strange, i.e. hostile fate, not 
" rejection " (Hitzig, Caspari, and others). The expression 
DnnN Di s , the day of their (Judah s sons) perishing, is stronger 
still ; although the perishing (^abJwd) of the sons of Judah 
cannot denote the destruction of the whole nation, since the 
following word tsdrdhy calamity, is much too weak to admit of 
this. Even the word Ttf, which occurs three times in ver. 13, 
does not signify destruction, but (from the root UK, to fall 
heavily, to load) simply pressure, a burden, then weight of 
suffering, distress, misfortune (see Delitzsch on Job xviii. 12). 
In ver. 13 Obadiah warns against taking part in the plundering 
of Jerusalem. The gate of my people : for the city in which 
the people dwell, the capital (see Mic. i. 9). Look not thou 
also, a brother nation, upon his calamity, as enemies do, i.e. do 
not delight thyself thereat, nor snatch at his possessions. The 
form tishlachndhy for which we should expect tishlach, is not yet 
satisfactorily explained (for the different attempts that have 
been made to explain it, see Caspari). The passages in which 
ndh is appended to the third pers. fern, sing., to distinguish it 
from the second person, do not help us to explain it. Ewald and 
Olshausen would therefore alter the text, and read T HjKfa. 
But T is not absolutely necessary, since it is omitted in 2 Sam. 

VERS. 15, IS. 365 

vi. 6, xxii. 17, or Ps. xvlii. 17, where sMlacJi occurs in the sense 
of stretching out the hand, i^n, his possessions. On the fact 
itself, compare Joel iv. 5. The prominence given to the day 
of misfortune at the end of every sentence is very emphatic ; 
il inasmuch as the selection of the time of a brother s calamity, 
as that in which to rage against him with such cunning and 
malicious pleasure, was doubly culpable" (Ewald). In ver. 14 
the warning proceeds to the worst crime of all, their seizing 
upon the Judgean fugitives, for the purpose of murdering them 
or delivering them up to the enemy. Pereq signifies here the 
place where the roads break or divide, the cross-road. In Nah. 
iii. 1 , the only other place in which it occurs, it signifies tearing 
in pieces, violence. Ilisglr, to deliver up (lit. concludendum 
tradidit), is generally construed with (Deut. xxiii. 16) or 
Ta (Ps. xxxi. 9 ; 1 Sam. xxiii. 11). Here it is written abso 
lutely with the same meaning : not " to apprehend, or so over 
power that there is no escape left" (Hitzig). This would affirm 
too little after the preceding rp")3n, and cannot be demonstrated 
from Job xi. 10, where Jiisgir means to keep in custody. 

This warning is supported in ver. 15 by an announcement 
of the day of the Lord, in which Edom and all the enemies of 
Israel will receive just retribution for their sins against Israel. 
Ver. 15. " For the day of Jehovah is near upon all nations. 
As thou hast done, it will be done to thee ; what thou hast per 
formed returns upon thy head. Ver. 16. For as ye have drunken 
upon my holy mountain, all nations will drink continually, and 
drink and swallow, and will be as those, that were not" *3 (for) 
connects what follows with the warnings in vers. 12-14, but not 
also, or exclusively, with vers. 10, 11, as Kosenmiiller and others 
suppose, for vers. 12-14 are not inserted parenthetically. " The 
day of Jehovah" has been explained at Joel i. 15. The 
expression was first formed by Obadiah, not by Joel ; and Joel, 
Isaiah, and the prophets that follow, adopted it from Obadiab. 
The primary meaning is not the day of judgment, but the day 
on which Jehovah reveals His majesty and omnipotence in a 
glorious manner, to overthrow all ungodly powers, and to com 
plete His kingdom. It was this which gave rise to the idea of 
the day of judgment and retribution which predominates in the 
prophetic announcements, but which simply forms one side of 
the revelation okthe glory of God, as our passage at once shows ; 


inasmuch as it describes Jehovah as not only judging all nations 
and rewarding them according to their deeds (cf. vers. 156, 16), 
but as providing deliverance upon Zion (ver. 17), and setting 
up His kingdom (ver. 21). The retribution will correspond to 
the actions of Edom and of the nations. For W vPji, compare 
Joel iii. 4, 7, where (vers. 2-7) the evil deeds of the nations, 
what they have done against the people of God, are described. 
In ver. 16 Obadiah simply mentions as the greatest crime the 
desecration of the holy mountain by drinking carousals, for 
which all nations are to drink the intoxicating cup of the wrath 
of God till they are utterly destroyed. In sh e thithem (ye have 
drunk) it is not the Judceans who are addressed, as many com 
mentators, from Ab. Ezra to Ewald and Meier, suppose, but 
the Edomites. This is required not only by the parallelism of 
Drrnt? nt?K3 (as ye have drunk) and rw ictes (as thou hast 
done), but also by the actual wording and context. BJVni? "1K N3 
"in 7JJ cannot mean " as ye who are upon my holy mountain 
have drunk ;" and in the announcement of the retribution 
which all nations will receive for the evil they have done to 
Judah, it is impossible that either the Judaaans should be 
addressed, or a parallel drawn between their conduct and that 
of the nations. Moreover, throughout the whole of the pro 
phecy Edom only is addressed, and never Judah. Mount Zion 
is called " my holy mountain," because Jehovah was there 
enthroned in His sanctuary. The verb shdthdh is used in the 
two clauses in different senses : viz. sh tMthem, of the drinking 
carousals which the Edomites held upon Zion, like yislitu in 
Joel iii. 3 ; and shdthu, in the apodosis, of the drinking of the 
intoxicating goblet (cf. Isa. li. 17 ; Jer. xxv. 15, xlix. 12, etc.), 
as the expression " they shall be as though they had not been" 
clearly shows. At the same time, w r e cannot infer from the 
words " all nations will drink," that all nations would succeed 
in taking Zion and abusing it, but that they would have to 
taste all the bitterness of their crime ; for it is not stated that 
they are to drink upon Mount Zion. The fact that the anti 
thesis to DOW is not ViKfa ("ye will drink") but tnan 73 wtr, 
does not compel us to generalize sh e thlt/iem, and regard all 
nations as addressed implicite in the Edomites. The difficulty 
arising from this antithesis cannot be satisfactorily removed by 
the remark of Caspar!, that in consequence of the allusion to 

17-2L 367 

the day of the Lord upon all nations in ver. 15, the judgment 
upon all nations and that upon the Edomites were thought of 
as inseparably connected, or that this induced Obadiah to place 
opposite to the sins of the Edomites, not their own punishment, 
but the punishment of all nations, more especially as, according 
to ver. 11, it must necessarily be assumed that the foreign 
nations participated in the sin of Edom. For tint leaves the 
question unanswered, how Obadiah came to speak at all (ver. 
15) of the day of the Lord upon all nations. The circumstance 
that, according to ver. 11, heathen nations had plundered Jeru 
salem, and committed crimes like those for which Edom is con 
demned in vers. 12-14, does not lead directly to the day of 
judgment upon all nations, but simply to a judgment upon 
Edom and the nations which had committed like sins. The 
difficulty is only removed by the assumption that Obadiah 
regarded Edom as a type of the nations that had risen up in 
hostility to the Lord and Hit people, and were judged by the 
Lord in consequence, so that what he says of Edom applies to 
all nations which assume the same or a similar attitude towards 
the people of God. From this point of view he could, without 
reserve, extend to all nations the retribution which would fall 
upon Edom for its sins. They should drink tdmld^ IJK. not at 
once, as Ewald has rendered it in opposition to the usage of die 
language, but u continually." This does not mean, however, 
that " there will be no time in which there will not be one of 
the nations drinking the intoxicating cup, and being destroyed 
by drinking thereof ; or that the nations will come in turn, and 
therefore in a long immeasurable series, one after the other, to 
drink the cup of intoxication/ as Caspari supposes, but u con 
tinually, so that the turn never passes from the heathen to 
Judah, Isa. li. 22, 23" (Hitzig). This drinking is more pre- 
riirljr defined as drinking and swallowing (J8/, in Syriac, to 
devour or swallow, hence ifr, a throat, so called from the act of 
swallowing, Prov. xxiii. 2), t>. drinking in full draughts ; and 
the effect, " they will be like such as have not been, have never 
existed" (cf. Job x. 19), i.e. they will be utterly destroyed as 

UPON ZION. The prophecy advances from the judgment upon 

3t>8 OBADIAH. 

all the heathen to the completion of the kingdom of God by 
the raising up of Israel to world-wide dominion. While the 
judgment is falling upon all the heathen nations, Mount Zion 
will be an asylum for those who are delivered. Judah and 
Israel will capture the possessions of the nations, destroy Edom, 
and extend its borders on every side (vers. 1719). The Israel 
ites scattered among the nations will return into their enlarged 
inheritances, and upon Zion will saviours arise, to judge Edom, 
and the kingdom will then be the Lord s (vers. 20, 21). 
This promise is appended as an antithesis to the proclamation 
of judgment in ver. 16. Ver. 17. " But upon Mount Zion will 
be that which has been saved, and it will be a sanctuary, and the 
house of Jacob will take possession of their possessions" Upon 
Mount Zion, which the Edomites have now desecrated by 
drinking carousals, there will then, when the nations are obliged 
to drink the cup of intoxication even to their utter destruction, 
be p e letdh, that which has escaped, i.e. the multitude of those 
who have been rescued and preserved throughout the judgment. 
See the explanation of this at Joel ii. 32, where this thought is 
still further expounded. Mount Zion is the seat of the king 
dom of Jehovah (cf. ver. 21). There the Lord is enthroned 
(Joel iii. 17), and His rescued people with Him. And it 
(Mount Zion) will be qodesh, a sanctuary, i.e. inviolable ; the 
heathen will no more dare to tread it and defile it (Joel iii. 17). 
It follows from this, that the rescued crowd upon it will also be 
a holy people ("a holy seed," Isa. vi. 13). This sanctified 
people of the Lord, the house of Jacob, will capture the posses 
sions of their foes. The suffix attached to DjTtjnto is supposed 
by many to refer to 3pj rv? : those of the house of Jacob, i.e. 
the rescued Israelites, will take their former possessions once 
more. This view cannot be overthrown by the simple remark 
that ydrash cannot mean to take possession again ; for that 
meaning might be given to it by the context, as, for example, 
in Deut. xxx. 5. But it is a decisive objection to it, that 
neither in what precedes nor in what follows is there any refer 
ence to Israel as having been carried away. The penetration 
of foes into the gates of Jerusalem, the plundering of the city, 
and the casting of lots upon the booty and the prisoners (ver. 
11), do not involve the carrying away of the whole nation into 
exile ; and the gdluth of the sons of Israel and Jerusalem in 

VER. 18. 369 

ver. 20 is clearly distinguished from the " house of Jacob " in 
ver. 18. And since we have first of all (vers. 18, 19) an an 
nouncement of the conquest of Edom by the house of Jacob, 
and the capture of the mountains of Esau, of Philistia, etc., by 
the inhabitants of the south-land, i.e. by Judseans ; and then 
in ver. 20 the possession of the south-land is promised to the 
galutli (captivity) ; this gdluth can only have been a small frag 
ment of the nation, and therefore the carrying away can only 
have extended to a number of prisoners of war, whilst the 
kernel of the nation had remained in the land, i.e. in its own 
possessions. The objection offered to this, namely, that if we 
refer the suffix in mordshehem (their possessions) to kdl-haggoyim 
(all nations), Judah would have to take possession of all nations, 
which is quite incredible and even at variance with vers. 19, 20, 
inasmuch as the only enemies land mentioned there (ver. 19) 
is the territory of the Edomites and Philistines, whilst the 
other countries or portions of country mentioned there are not 
enemies land at all. For there is no incredibility in the taking 
of the land of all nations by Judah, except on the assumption 
that Judah merely denotes the posterity or remnant of the 
citizens of the earthly kingdom of Judah. But this is not 
what Obadiah says. He does not mention Judah, but the 
house of Jacob, and means thereby not the natural Israel, but 
the people of God, who are eventually to obtain the dominion 
of the world. The discrepancy between ver. lib and ver. 19 
is not greater than that between town in ver. 16a and WW\ 
D^iarr?:) in ver. 166, and disappears if we only recognise the 
fact that Edom and the Philistines are simply mentioned in 
ver. 19 as types of the heathen world in its hostility to God. 
We therefore regard the application of the expression mord 
shehem to the possessions of the heathen nations as the only 
correct one, and that all the more because the *Bh^. in ver. 19 
is very clearly seen to be a more exact explanation of the WTl. 
in ver. 176. In ver. 17 Obadiah gives, in a few brief words, 
the sum and substance of the salvation which awaits the people 
of the Lord in the future. This salvation is unfolded still 
further in what follows, and first of all in vers. 18, 19, by a 
fuller exposition of the thought expressed in ver. 176. 

Ver. 18. " And the house of Jacob will be a fire, and the 
house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble. And 
VOL. I. 2 A 


they will burn among them, and consume them, and there will not 
be one left to the house of Esau, for Jehovah hath spoken." This 
verse not only resumes the discussion of the retribution, so that 
it corresponds to ver. 15, but it also affirms, as an appendix to 
ver. 17, that Edom is to be utterly destroyed. By the "house 
of Jacob" Judah is intended, as the co-ordination of the house 
of Joseph, i.e. of the ten tribes, clearly shows. The assump 
tion that " house of Jacob" signifies all Israel, in connection 
with which that portion is also especially mentioned, which 
might be supposed to be excluded (Kosenmuller, Hengstenberg, 
and others), is at variance with such passages as Isa. xlvi. 3, 
"the house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of 
Israel," where the reason assigned for the co-ordination is not 
applicable. Obadiah uses the name Jacob for Judah, because 
ever since the division of the kingdoms Judah alone has repre 
sented the people of God, the ten tribes having fallen away from 
the kingdom of God for a time. In the future, however, Judah 
and Israel are to be united again (vid. Hos. ii. 2 ; Ezek. xxxvii. 
16; Jer. xxxi. 18), and unitedly to attack and overcome their 
foes (Isa. xi. 13, 14). Obadiah distinctly mentions the house 
of Joseph, i.e. of the ten tribes, in this passage and in this 
alone, for the purpose of guarding against the idea that the ten 
tribes are to be shut out from the future salvation. For the 
figure of the flame of fire which consumes stubble, see Isa. v. 
24 and x. 17. For the expression, " for Jehovah hath spoken," 
compare Joel iii. 8 

After the destruction of its foes the nation of God will take 
possession of their land, and extend its territory to every region 
under heaven. Ver. 19. "And those towards the south will 
take possession of the mountains of Esau ; and those in the low 
land, of the Philistines : and they will take possession of the 
fields of Ephraim, and the fields of Samaria ; and Benjamin 
(will take possession) of Gilead. Ver. 20. And the captives of 
this army of the sons of Israel (will take possession) of what 
Canaanites there are as far as Zarephath ; and the prisoners 
of Jerusalem that are in Sepharad will take possession of the 
cities of the south" In "m ren^ the expression " nra rargl in 
ver. lib is more precisely defined, and the house of Jacob, i.e. 
the kingdom of Judah, is divided into the Negeb, the Shephelah, 
and Benjamin, to each of which a special district is assigned, 

VERS. 19, 20. 371 

of which it will take possession, the countries being mentioned 
in the place of their inhabitants. The negebh, or southern land 
of Judah (see the comm. on Josh. xv. 21), i.e. the inhabitants 
thereof, will take possession of the mountains of Esau, and 
therefore extend their territory eastwards ; whilst those of the 
lowland (sli e pheldh; see at Josh. xv. 33), on the Mediterranean, 
will seize upon the Philistines, that is to say, upon their land, 
and therefore spread out towards the west. The subject to the 
second *Bnj1 is not mentioned, and must be determined from the 
context : viz. the men of Judah, with the exception of the inha 
bitants of the Negeb and Shephelah already mentioned, that is 
to say, strictly speaking, those of the mountains of Judah, the 
original stock of the land of Judah (Josh. xv. 48-60). Others 
would leave hannegebh and hassh e pheldh still in force as subjects; 
so that the thought expressed would be this : The inhabitants of 
the south land and of the lowland will also take possession in 
addition to this of the fields of Ephraim and Samaria. But not 
only is the parallelism of the clauses, according to which one 
particular portion of territory is assigned to each part, utterly de 
stroyed, but according to this view the principal part of Judah is 
entirely passed over without any perceptible reason. Sddeh, fields, 
used rhetorically for land or territory. Along with Ephraim 
the land, Samaria the capital is especially mentioned, just as 
we frequently find Jerusalem along with Judah. In the last 
clause ^Knj (shall take possession of) is to be repeated after 
Benjamin. From the taking of the territories of the kingdom 
of the ten tribes by Judah and Benjamin, we are not to infer 
that the territory of the ten tribes was either compared to an 
enemy s land, or thought of as depopulated; but the thought 
is simply this : Judah and Benjamin, the two tribes, which 
formed the kingdom of God in the time of Obadiah, will 
extend their territory to all the four quarters of the globe, and 
take possession of all Canaan beyond its former boundaries. 
Hengstenberg has rightly shown that we have here simply an 
individualizing description of the promise in Gen. xxviii. 14, 
" thy seed will be as the dust of the ground ; and thou breakest 
out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south," 
etc. ; i.e. that on the ground of this promise Obadiah predicts 
the future restoration of the kingdom of God, and its extension 
beyond the borders of Canaan. In this he looks away from 


the ten tribes, because in his esteem the kingdom of Judah 
alone constituted the kingdom or people of God. But he has 
shown clearly enough in ver. 18 that he does not regard them 
as enemies of Judah, or as separated from the kingdom of God, 
but as being once more united to Judah as the people of God. 
And being thus incorporated again into the people of God, he 
thinks of them as dwelling with them upon the soil of Judah, 
so that they are included in the population of the four districts 
of this kingdom. For this reason, no other places of abode are 
assigned to the Ephraimites and Gileadites. The idea that 
they are to be transplanted altogether to heathen territory, 
rests upon a misapprehension of the true facts of the case, and 
has no support whatever in ver. 20. " The sons of Israel " in 
ver. 20 cannot be the ten tribes, as Hengstenberg supposes, 
because the other portion of the covenant nation mentioned 
along with them would in that case be described as Judah, not 
as Jerusalem. " The sons of Israel " answer to the " Jacob " 
in ver. 10, and the " house of Jacob " in ver. 17, in connection 
with which special prominence is given to Jerusalem in ver. 11, 
and to Mount Zion in ver. 17 ; so that it is the Judseans who 
are referred to, not, however, as distinguished from the ten 
tribes, but as the people of God, with whom the house of Jacob 
is once more united. In connection with the gdluth (captivity) 
of the sons of Israel, the gdluth of Jerusalem is also mentioned, 
like the sons of Judah and the sons of Jerusalem in Joel iii. 6, 
of whom Joel affirms, with a glance at Obadiah, that the 
Phoenicians and Philistines have sold them to the sons of 
Javan. These citizens of Judah and Jerusalem, who have 
been taken prisoners in war, are called by Obadiah the gdluth 
of the sons of Israel and Jerusalem, the people of God being 
here designated by the name of their tribe-father Jacob or 
Israel. That we should understand by the "sons of Israel" 
Judah, as the tribe or kernel of the covenant nation, is required 
by the actual progress apparent in ver. 20 in relation to ver. 19. 
After Obadiah had foretold to the house of Jacob in vers. 
176-19 that it would take possession of the land of their 
enemies, and spread beyond the borders of Canaan, the question 
still remained to be answered, What would become of the 
prisoners, and those who had been carried away captive, accord 
ing to vers. 11 and 14? This is explained in ver. 20. The 

VERS. 19, 20. 373 

carrying away of the sons of Israel is restricted to a portion of 
the nation by the words, " the captivity of this host " (hachel- 
hazzeh) ; no such carrying away of the nation as such had 
taken place at that time as that which afterwards occurred at 
the destruction of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. The 


enemies who had conquered Jerusalem had contented them 
selves with carrying away those who fell into their hands. The 
expression hachel-hazzeh points to this host which had been 
carried away captive. 7n ? which the LXX. and some of the 
Rabbins have taken as a verbal noun, 17 ap^fi^ initium^ is a 
defective form of ^n, an army (2 Kings xviii. 7; Isa. xxxvi. 2), 
like pn for P^n in Prov. v. 20, xvii. 23, xxi. 14, and is not to 
be identified with ?n, the trench of a fortification. The two 
clauses in ver. 20 have only one verb, which renders the 
meaning of fl-^-f ... 3 "1W ambiguous. The Chaldee (accord 
ing to our editions, though not according to Kimchi s account) 
and the Masoretes (by placing athnach under s e phdrdd), also 
Eashi and others, take B^SH3 *\w$ as in apposition to the sub 
ject : those prisoners of the sons of Israel who are among the 
Canaanites to Zarephath. And the parallelism to "n^?? "^^ 
appears to favour this ; but it is decidedly negatived by the 
absence of 3 before D^JttD. 33 l^K can only mean, " who are 
Canaanites." But this, when taken as in apposition to B* \33, 
gives no sustainable meaning. For the sons of Israel could 
only be called Canaanites when they had adopted the nature of 
Canaan. And any who had done this could look for no share 
in the salvation of the Lord, and no return to the land of the 
Lord. We must therefore take D*OJtt3 ic^tf as the object, and 
supply the verb *W~ from the first clauses of the preceding verse. 
Obadiah first of all expresses the verb twice, then omits it in 
the next two clauses (ver. ISd and 20a), and inserts it again in 
the last clause (ver. 206). The meaning is, that the army of 
these sons of Israel, who have been carried away captive, will 
take possession of what Canaanites there are as far as Zarephath^ 
i.e. the Phoenician city of Sarepta, the present Surafend, between 
Tyre and Sidon on the sea-coast (see comm. on 1 Kings xvii. 9). 
The capture of the land of the enemy presupposes a return to 
the fatherland. The exiles of Jerusalem shall take possession 
of the south country, the inhabitants of which have pushed 
forward into E^om. T}$D3 (in Sepharad) is difficult, and has 


never yet been satisfactorily explained, as the word does not 
occur again. The rendering Spain, which we find in the 
Chaldee and Syriac, is probably only an inference drawn from 
Joel iii. 6 ; and the Jewish rendering Bosphorus, which is cited 
by Jerome, is simply founded upon the similarity in the name. 
The supposed connection between this name and the fPaRaD, 
or f!parda } mentioned in the great arrow-headed inscription of 
Nakshi Kustam in a list of names of tribes between Katpadhuka 
(Cappadocia) and Yund (Ionia), in which Sylv. de Sacy imagined 
that he had found our Sepharad, has apparently more to favour 
it, since the resemblance is very great. But if fparda is the 
Persian form for Sardis (2dp$L$ or JapSet?), which was written 
ftvarda in the native (Lydian) tongue, as Lassen maintains, 
Sepharad cannot be the same as parda, inasmuch as the 
Hebrews did not receive the name TiBD through the Persians ; 
and the native Qvarda, apart from the fact that it is merely 
postulated, would be written TDD in Hebrew. To this we may 
add, that the impossibility of proving that Sardis was ever used 
for Lydia, precludes our rendering f!parda by Sardis. It is 
much more natural to connect the name with ^TrdpTrj (Sparta) 
and StirapTiaTai (1 Mace. xiv. 16, 20, 23, xii. 2, 5, 6), and 
assume that the Hebrews had heard the name from the Phoe 
nicians in connection with Javan, as the name of a land in the 
far west. 1 The cities of the south country stand in antithesis 
to the Canaanites as far as Zarephath in the north ; and these 
two regions are mentioned synecdochically for all the countries 
round about Canaan, like " the breaking forth of Israel on the 
right hand and on the left, that its seed may inherit the 
Gentiles," which is promised in Isa. liv. 3. The description 
is rounded off by the closing reference to the south country, in 
which it returns to the point whence it started. 

With the taking of the lands of the Gentiles, the full dis- 

1 The appellative rendering lv "biounropK (Hendewerk and Maurer) is 
certainly to be rejected; and Ewald s conjecture, D"lp, "a place three 
hours journey from Acco," in support of which he refers to Niebuhr, R. iii. 
p. 269, is a very thoughtless one. For Niebuhr there mentions the village 
of Serfati as the abode of the prophet Elijah, and refers to Maundrell, who 
calls the village Sarphan, Serephat, and Serepta, in which every thoughtful 
reader must recognise the biblical Zarephath, and the present village of 

VER. 21. 375 

play of salvation begins in Zion. Ver. 21. " And saviours 
go up on Mount Zion to judge the mountains of Esau ; and the 
kingdom ivill be Jehovah s." rvjJ followed by 3 does not mean 
to go up to a place, but to climb to the top of (Deut. v. 5; Ps. 
xxiv. 3 ; Jer. iv. 29, v. 10), or into (Jer. ix. 20). Consequently 
there is no allusion in WJ to the return from exile. Going up 
to the top of Mount Zion simply means, that at the time when 
Israel captures the possessions of the heathen, Mount Zion will 
receive and have saviours who will judge Edom. And as the 
mountains of Esau represent the heathen world, so Mount 
Zion, as the seat of the Old Testament kingdom of God, is the 
type of the kingdom of God in its fully developed form. DTBno, 
which is written defectively DW lD in some of the ancient MSS., 
and has consequently been rendered incorrectly a-eo-wcr pivot, 
and avaacotyfAevoi, by the LXX., Aq., Theod., and the Syriac, 
signifies salvatores, deliverers, saviours. The expression is se 
lected with an allusion to the olden time, in which Jehovah 
saved His people by judges out of the power of their enemies 
(Judg. ii. 16, iii. 9, 15, etc.). " The D^Bno are heroes, resem 
bling the judges, who are to defend and deliver Mount Zion 
and its inhabitants, when they are threatened and oppressed by 
enemies" (Caspari). The object of their activity, however, is 
not Israel, but Edom, the representative of all the enemies of 
Israel. The mountains of Esau are mentioned instead of the 
people, partly on account of the antithesis to the mountain of 
Zion, and partly also to express the thought of supremacy not 
only over the people, but over the land of the heathen also. 
Shdphat is not to be restricted in this case to the judging or 
settling of disputes, but includes the conduct of the govern 
ment, the exercise of dominion in its fullest extent, so that the 
" judging of the mountains of Esau" expresses the dominion 
of the people of God over the heathen world. Under the 
saviours, as Hengstenberg has correctly observed, the Saviour 
par excellence is concealed. This is not brought prominently 
out, nor is it even distinctly affirmed ; but it is assumed as self- 
evident, from the history of the olden time, that the saviours 
are raised up by Jehovah for His people. The following and 
concluding thought, that the kingdom will be Jehovah s, i.e. 
that Jehovah will show Himself to the whole world as King of 
the world, and Euler in His kingdom, and will be acknow- 


ledged by the nations of the earth, either voluntarily or by 
constraint, rests upon this assumption. God was indeed King 
already, not as the Almighty Ruler of the universe, for this is 
not referred to here, but as King in Israel, over which His 
kingdom did extend. But this His royal sway was not acknow 
ledged by the heathen world, and could not be, more especially 
when He had to deliver Israel up to the power of its enemies, 
on account of its sins. This acknowledgment, however, He 
would secure for Himself, by the destruction of the heathen 
power in the overthrow of Edom, and by the exaltation of 
His people to dominion over all nations. Through this mighty 
saving act He will establish His kingdom over the whole earth 
(cf. Joel iii. 21 ; Mic. iv. 7 ; Isa. xxiv. 23). " The coming of 
this kingdom began with Christ, and looks for its complete 
fulfilment in Him" (Hengstenberg). 

If now, in conclusion, we cast another glance at the fulfil 
ment of our whole prophecy; the fulfilment of that destruction 
by the nations, with which the Edomites are threatened (vers. 
1-9), commenced in the Chaldean period. For although no 
express historical evidence exists as to the subjugation of the 
Edomites by Nebuchadnezzar, since Josephus (Ant. x. 9, 7) 
says nothing about the Edomites, who dwelt between the 
Moabites and Egypt, in the account which he gives of Nebu 
chadnezzar s expedition against Egypt, five years after the 
destruction of Jerusalem, in which he subdued the Ammonites 
and Moabites ; the devastation of Edom by the Chaldeans may 
unquestionably be inferred from Jer. xlix. 7 sqq. and Ezek. 
xxxv., when compared with Jer. xxv. 9, 21, and Mai. i. 3. In 
Jer. xxv. 21 the Edomites are mentioned among the nations 
round about Judah, whom the Lord would deliver up into the 
hand of His servant Nebuchadnezzar (Jer. xxv. 9), and to whom 
Jeremiah was to present the cup of the wine of wrath from the 
hand of Jehovah ; and they are placed between the Philistines 
and the Moabites. And according to Mai. i. 3, Jehovah made 
the mountains of Esau into a wilderness ; and this can only 
refer to the desolation of the land of Edom by the Chaldeans 
(see at Mai. i. 3). It is true, that at that time the Edomites 
could still think of rebuilding their ruins ; but the threat of 
Malachi, " If they build, I shall pull down, saith the Lord," 
was subsequently fulfilled, although no accounts have been 

VER. 21. 377 

handed down as to the fate of Edom in the time of Alexander 
the Great and his successors. The destruction of the Edomites 
as a nation was commenced by the Maccabees. After Judas 
Maccabeus had defeated them several times (1 Mace. v. 3 and 
65 ; Jos. Ant. xii. 18, 1), John Hyrcanus subdued them 
entirely about 129 B.C., and compelled them to submit to cir 
cumcision, and observe the Mosaic law (Jos. Ant. xiii. 9, 1), 
whilst Alexander Jannaeus also subjugated the last of the 
Edomites (xiii. 15, 4). And the loss of their national inde 
pendence, which they thereby sustained, was followed by utter 
destruction at the hands of the Romans. To punish them for 
the cruelties which they had practised in Jerusalem in con 
nection with the Zelots, immediately before the siege of that 
city by the Romans (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, iv. 5, 1, 2), 
Simon the Gerasene devastated their land in a fearful manner 
( Wars of the Jews^ iv. 9, 7) ; whilst the Idumasans in Jeru 
salem, who took the side of Simon (v. 6, 1), were slain by the 
Romans along with the Jews. The few Edomites who still 
remained were lost among the Arabs ; so that the Edomitish 
people was " cut off for ever" (ver. 10) by the Romans, and 
its very name disappeared from the earth. Passing on to the 
rest of the prophecy, Edom filled up the measure of its sins 
against its brother nation Israel, against which Obadiah warns 
it in vers. 1214, at the taking and destruction of Jerusalem 
by the Chaldeans (vid. Ezek. xxxv. 5, 10 ; Ps. cxxxvii. 7 ; Lam. 
iv. 22). The fulfilment of the threat in ver. 18 we cannot 
find, however, in the subjugation of the Edomites by the Mac- 
cabseans, and the devastating expedition of Simon the Gerasene, 
as Caspari and others do, although it is apparently favoured 
by the statement in Ezek. xxv. 14, that Jehovah would fulfil 
His vengeance upon Edom by the hand of His people Israel. 
For even if this prophecy of Ezekiel may have been fulfilled 
in the events just mentioned, we are precluded from under 
standing Ob. 18, and the parallel passages, Amos ix. 11. 12, 
and Num. xxiv. 18, as referring to the same events, by the 
fact that the destruction of Edom, and the capture of Seir by 
Israel, are to proceed, according to Num. xxiv. 18, from the 
Ruler to arise out of Jacob (the Messiah), and that they were 
to take place, according to Amos ix. 11, 12, in connection with 
the raising up of the fallen hut of David, and according to 


Obadiah, in the day of Jehovah, along with and after the 
judgment upon all nations. Consequently the fulfilment of 
vers. 17-21 can only belong to the Messianic times, and that 
in such a way that it commenced with the founding of the 
kingdom of Christ on the earth, advances with its extension 
among all nations, and will terminate in a complete fulfilment 
at the second coming of our Lord. 



| HE PKOPHET. We know from 2 Kings xiv. 25 
that Jonah the son of Amittai was born in 
Gath-Hepher, in the tribe of Zebulon, which 
was, according to Jewish tradition as given by 
Jerome, " hand grandis viculus Geth" to the north of Nazareth, 
on the road from Sephoris to Tiberias, on the site of the present 
village of Meshad (see at Josh. xix. 13) ; that he lived in the 
reign of Jeroboam n., and foretold to this king the success of 
his arms in his war with the Syrians, for the restoration of the 
ancient boundaries of the kingdom ; and that this prophecy 
was fulfilled. From the book before us we learn that the same 
Jonah (for this is evident from the fact that the name of the 
father is also the same) received a command from the Lord to 
go to Nineveh, and announce the destruction of that city on 
account of its sins. This mission to Nineveh evidently falls 
later than the prophecy in favour of Jeroboam ; but although 
it is quite possible that it is to be assigned to the time of 
Menahem, during the period of the first invasion of Israel by 
the Assyrians, this is by no means so probable as many have 
assumed. For, inasmuch as Menahem began to reign fifty- 
three years after the commencement of the reign of Jeroboam, 
and the war between Jeroboam and the Syrians took place not 
in the closing years, but in the very first years of his reign, 
since it was only the continuation and conclusion of the suc 
cessful struggle which his father had already begun with these 
enemies of Israel ; Jonah must have been a very old man when 
he was entrusted with his mission to Nineveh, if it did not take 
place till after the invasion of Israel by Pul. Nothing is 
known of the circumstances of Jonah s life apart from these 
biblical notices. "The Jewish tradition mentioned by Jerome 


380 JONAH. 

in the Procem. to Jonah, to the effect that Jonah was the son 
of the widow at Zarephath, whom Elijah restored to life 
(1 Kings xvii. 17-24), which has been still further expounded 
by Ps. Epiph. and Ps. Doroth. (see Carpzov, Introd. ii. pp. 
346-7), is proved to be nothing more than a Jewish Hagada, 
founded upon the name "son of Amittai" (LXX. vlov Apadi\ 
and has just as much historical evidence to support it as the 
tradition concerning the prophet s grave, which is pointed out 
in Meshad of Galilee, and also in Nineveh in Assyria, for the 
simple reason adduced by Jerome (I.e.) : matre postea dicente 
ad ewn : nunc cognovi, quia vir Dei es tu, et verbum Dei in ore tuo 
est veritas ; et ob lianc causam etiam ipsum puerum sic vocatum, 
Amatlii enim in nostra lingua veritatem sonat. 

2. THE BOOK OF JONAH resembles, in contents and form, 
the narratives concerning the prophets in the historical books 
of the Old Testament, e.g. the history of Elijah and Elisha 
(1 Kings xvii.-xix. ; 2 Kings ii. 4-6), rather than the writings 
of the minor prophets. It contains no prophetic words con 
cerning Nineveh, but relates in simple prose the sending of 
Jonah to that city to foretel its destruction ; the behaviour of 
the prophet on receiving this divine command ; his attempt to 
escape from it by flight to Tarshish ; the way in which this 
sin was expiated ; and lastly, when the command of God had 
been obeyed, not only the successful result of his preaching of 
repentance, but also his murmuring at the sparing of Nineveh 
in consequence of the repentance of its inhabitants, and the 
reproof administered by God to the murmuring prophet. If, 
then, notwithstanding this, the compilers of the canon have 
placed the book among the minor prophets, this can only have 
been done because they were firmly convinced that the prophet 
Jonah was the author. And, indeed, the objections offered to 
the genuineness of the book, apart from doctrinal reasons for 
disputing its historical truth and credibility, and the proofs 
adduced of its having a much later origin, are extremely trivial, 
and destitute of any conclusive force. It is said that, apart 
from the miraculous portion, the narrative is wanting in clear 
ness and perspicuity. " The author," says Hitzig, " leaps over 
the long and wearisome journey to Nineveh, says nothing 
about Jonah s subsequent fate, or about his previous abode, or 


the spot where he was cast upon the land, or the name of the 
Assyrian king ; in brief, he omits all the more minute details 
which are necessarily connected with a true history." But the 
assertion that completeness in all external circumstances, which 
would serve to gratify curiosity rather than to help to an un 
derstanding of the main facts of the case, is indispensable to 
the truth of any historical narrative, is one which might expose 
the whole of the historical writings of antiquity to criticism, but 
can never shake their truth. There is not a single one of the 
ancient historians in whose works such completeness as this can 
be found : and still less do the biblical historians aim at com 
municating such things as have no close connection with the 
main object of their narrative, or with the religious significance 
of the facts themselves. Proofs of the later origin of the book 
have also been sought for in the language employed, and in 
the circumstance that Jonah s prayer in ch. ii. 3-10 contains 
so many reminiscences from the Psalms, that Ph. D. Burk 
has called it prcestantissimum exemplwn psalterii recte appli- 
cati. But the so-called Aramaisms, such as T ipn to throw 
(ch. i. 4, 5, 12, etc.), the interchange of nrap with rw 
(ch. i. 5), H2O to determine, to appoint (ch. ii. 1, iv. 6 sqq.), 
"inn in the supposed sense of rowing (ch. i. 13), n$ynn to 
remember (ch. i. 6), and the forms n&?3 (ch. i. 7), ^03 (ch. 
i. 12), and $ for "igte (ch. iv. 10), belong either to the speech 
of Galilee or the language of ordinary intercourse, and are 
very far from being proofs of a later age, since it cannot be 
proved with certainty that any one of these words was unknown 
in the early Hebrew usage, and $ for "1B>K occurs as early as 
Judg. v. 7, vi. 17, and even ^ in Song of Sol. i. 6, viii. 12, whilst 
in the book before us it is only in the sayings of the persons acting 
(ch. i. 7, 12), or of God (ch. iv. 10), that it is used. The only 
non-Hebraic word, viz. &VB, which is used in the sense of com 
mand, and applied to the edict of the king of Assyria, was heard 
by Jonah in Nineveh, where it was used as a technical term, 
and was transferred by him. The reminiscences which occur in 
Jonah s prayer are all taken from the Psalms of David or his 
contemporaries, which were generally known in Israel long be 
fore the prophet s day. 1 Lastly, the statement in ch. iii. 3, that 

1 They are the following : ver. 3a is formed from Ps. xviii. 7 and cxx. 1 ; 
ver. 46 is taken literally from Ps. xlii. 8 ; ver. 5a from Ps. xxxi. 23, whilst 

382 JONAH. 

" Nineveh was an exceeding great city," neither proves that 
Nineveh had already been destroyed at the time when this was 
written, nor that the greatness of Nineveh was unknown to the 
contemporaries of Jonah, though there would be nothing sur 
prising in the latter, as in all probability very few Israelites 
had seen Nineveh at that time. HJVn is the synchronistic im 
perfect, just as in Gen. i. 2. Nineveh was a great city of 
three days journey when Jonah reached it, i.e. he found it so, 
as Staeudlin observes, and even De Wette admits. 

The doctrinal objections to the miraculous contents of the 
book appear to be much more weighty ; since it is undeniable 
that, if they were of the character represented by the opponents, 
this would entirely preclude the possibility of its having been 
composed by the prophet Jonah, and prove that it had origi 
nated in a mythical legend. "The whole narrative," says Hitzig 
in his prolegomena to the book of Jonah, " is miraculous and 
fabulous. But nothing is impossible with God. Hence Jonah 
lives in the belly of the fish without being suffocated ; hence 
the Qlqdyon springs up during the night to such a height that 
it overshadows a man in a sitting posture. As Jehovah bends 
everything in the world to His own purposes at pleasure, the 
marvellous coincidences had nothing in them to astonish the 
author. The lot falls upon the right man ; the tempest rises 
most opportunely, and is allayed at the proper time ; and the 
fish is ready at hand to swallow Jonah, and vomit him out again. 
So, again, the tree is ready to sprout up, the worm to kill it, 
and the burning wind to make its loss perceptible." But the 
coarse view of God and of divine providence apparent in all this, 
which borders very closely upon atheism, by no means proves 
that the contents of the book are fabulous, but simply that the 
history of Jonah cannot be vindicated, still less understood, 
without the acknowledgment of a living God, and of His activity 
in the sphere of natural and human life. 1 The book of Jonah 

ver. 5& recals Ps. v. 8 ; ver. 6a is formed from Ps. Ixix. 2 and xviii. 5 ; 
ver. 8a from Ps. cxlii. 4 or cxliii. 4, whilst ver. 8& recals Ps. xviii. 7 and 
Ixxxviii. 3 ; ver. 9a is formed after Ps. xxxi. 7 ; and ver. 10 resembles Ps. 
xlii. 5 and Ps. 1. 14, 23. 

1 The offence taken at the miracles in the book originated with the 
heathen. Even to Lucian they apparently presented an occasion for ridi 
cule (see Verse, Idstor. lib. i. 30 sq., ed. Bipont). With regard to the three 


records miraculous occurrences ; but even the two most striking 
miracles, the three days imprisonment in the belly of the sea- 
fish, and the growth of a Qlqdyon to a sufficient height to over 
shadow a sitting man, have analogies in nature, which make 
the possibility of these miracles at least conceivable (see the 
comm. on ch. ii. 1 and iv. 6). The repentance of the Nine- 
vites in consequence of the prophet s preaching, although an 
unusual and extraordinary occurrence, was not a miracle in the 
strict sense of the word. At the same time, the possibility of 
this miracle by no means proves its reality or historical truth. 
This can only be correctly discerned and rightly estimated, from 
the important bearing of Jonah s mission to Nineveh and of his 
conduct in relation to this mission upon the position of Israel 
in the divine plan of salvation in relation to the Gentile world. 
The mission of Jonah was a fact of symbolical and typical im 
portance) which was intended not only to enlighten Israel as to the 
position of the Gentile world in relation to the kingdom of God, 
but also to typify the future adoption of such of the heathen, as 
should observe the word of God, into the fellowship of the salvation 
prepared in Israel for all nations. 

As the time drew nigh when Israel was to be given up into 
the power of the Gentiles, and trodden down by them, on account 
of its stiff-necked apostasy from the Lord its God, it was very 
natural for the self-righteous mind of Israel to regard the Gen 
tiles as simply enemies of the people and kingdom of God, and 
not only to deny their capacity for salvation, but also to inter 
pret the prophetic announcement of the judgment coming upon 

days imprisonment in the belly of the fish, and on the Qiqayon, Augustine 
in his Epist. 102 A says, "I have heard this kind of inquiry ridiculed by 
pagans with great laughter ;" and Theophylact also says, " Jonah is there- 
fore swallowed by a whale, and the prophet remains in it three days and the 
same number of nights ; which appears to be beyond the power of the 
hearers to believe, chiefly of those who come to this history fresh from the 
schools of the Greeks and their wise teaching." This ridicule first found 
admission into the Christian church, when the rise of deism, naturalism, and 
rationalism caused a denial of the miracles and inspiration of the Scriptures 
to be exalted into an axiom of free inquiry. From this time forward a 
multitude of marvellous hypotheses and trivial ideas concerning the book of 
Jonah have been brought out, which P. Friedrichsen has collected and dis 
cussed in a most un spiritual manner in his Kritische Uebersicht der verschif- 
denen Ansichten vondem Buche Jona. 

384 JONAH. 

the Gentiles as signifying that they were destined to utter 
destruction. The object of Jonah s mission to Nineveh was to 
combat in the most energetic manner, and practically to over 
throw, a delusion which had a seeming support in the election 
of Israel to be the vehicle of salvation, and which stimulated the 
inclination to pharisaical reliance upon an outward connection 
with the chosen nation and a lineal descent from Abraham. 
Whereas other prophets proclaimed in words the position of 
the Gentiles with regard to Israel in the nearer and more 
remote future, and predicted not only the surrender of Israel to 
the power of the Gentiles, but also the future conversion of the 
heathen to the living God, and their reception into the kingdom 
of God, the prophet Jonah was entrusted with the commission 
to proclaim the position of Israel in relation to the Gentile 
world in a symbolico-typical manner, and to exhibit both figu 
ratively and typically not only the susceptibility of the heathen 
for divine grace, but also the conduct of Israel with regard to 
the design of God to show favour to the Gentiles, and the con 
sequences of their conduct. The susceptibility of the Gentiles 
for the salvation revealed in Israel is clearly and visibly depicted 
in the behaviour of the Gentile sailors, viz. in the fact that 
they fear the God of heaven and earth, call upon Him, present 
sacrifice to Him, and make vows; and still more in the deep 
impression produced by the preaching of Jonah in Nineveh, 
and the fact that the whole population of the great city, with 
the king at their head, repent in sackcloth and ashes. The 
attitude of Israel towards the design of God to show mercy to 
the Gentiles and grant them salvation, is depicted in the way 
in which Jonah acts, when he receives the divine command, 
and when he goes to carry it out. Jonah tries to escape from 
the command to proclaim the word of God in Nineveh by flight 
to Tarshish, because he is displeased with the display of divine 
mercy to the great heathen world, and because, according to 
ch. iv. 2, he is afraid lest the preaching of repentance should 
avert from Nineveh the destruction with which it is threatened. 
In this state of mind on the part of the prophet, there are re 
flected the feelings and the general state of mind of the Israel- 
itish nation towards the Gentiles. According to his natural 
man, Jonah shares in this, and is thereby fitted to be the repre 
sentative of Israel in its pride at its own election. At the same 


time, it is only in this state of mind that the old man, which 
rebels against the divine command, comes sharply out, whereas 
his better /hears the word of God, and is moved within ; so that 
we cannot place him in the category of the false prophets, who 
prophesy from their own hearts. When the captain wakes him 
up in the storm upon the sea, and the lot shows that he is guilty, 
he confesses his fault, and directs the sailors to cast him into 
the sea, because it is on his account that the great storm has 
come upon them (ch. i. 10-12). The infliction of this punish 
ment, which falls upon him on account of his obstinate resistance 
to the will of God, typifies that rejection and banishment from 
the face of God which Israel will assuredly bring upon itself 
by its obstinate resistance to the divine call. But Jonah, when 
cast into the sea, is swallowed up by a great fish ; and when he 
prays to the Lord in the fish s belly, he is vomited upon the 
land unhurt. This miracle has also a symbolical meaning for 
Israel. It shows that if the carnal nation, with its ungodly 
mind, should turn to the Lord even in the last extremity, it will 
be raised up again by a divine miracle from destruction to new 
ness of life. And lastly, the manner in which God reproves the 
prophet, when he is angry because Nineveh has been spared 
(ch. iv.), is intended to set forth as in a mirror before all Israel 
the greatness of the divine compassion, which embraces all 
mankind, in order that it may reflect upon it and lay it to 

But this by no means exhausts the deeper meaning of the 
history of Jonah. It extends still further, and culminates in 
the typical character of Jonah s three days imprisonment in 
the belly of the fish, upon which Christ threw some light when 
He said, " As Jonah was three days and three nights in the 
whale s belly, so shall the Son of man be three days and three 
nights in the heart of the earth" (Matt. xii. 40). The clue to 
the meaning of this type, i.e. to the divinely-appointed connec 
tion between the typical occurrence and its antitype, is to be 
found in the answer which Jesus gave to Philip and Andrew 
when they told Him, a short time before His death, that there 
were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at 
the feast who desired to see Jesus. This answer consists of 
two distinct statements, viz. (John xii. 23, 24) : u The time is 
come that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily, 

38(5 JONAH. 

I say unto you, Except the grain of wheat fall into the earth, 
and die, it abideth alone : but if it die, it bringeth forth much 
fruit;" and (ver. 32), "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, 
will draw all men unto me." This answer of Jesus intimates 
that the time to admit the Gentiles has not yet come ; but the 
words, " the hour is come," etc., also contain the explanation, 
that " the Gentiles have only to wait patiently a little longer, 
since their union with Christ, with which the address concludes 
(ver. 32), is directly connected with the glorification of the 
Son of man" (Hengstenberg on John xii. 20). This assertion 
of the Lord, that His death and glorification are necessary in 
order that He may draw all men, even the heathen, to Him 
self, or that by His death He may abolish the wall of partition 
by which the Gentiles were shut out of the kingdom of God, 
at which He had already hinted in John x. 15, 16, teaches us 
that the history of Jonah is to be regarded as an important 
and significant link in the chain of development of the divine 
plan of salvation. When Assyria was assuming the form of a 
world-conquering power, and the giving up of Israel into the 
hands of the Gentiles was about to commence, Jehovah sent 
His prophet to Nineveh, to preach to this great capital of the 
imperial kingdom His omnipotence, righteousness, and grace. 
For although the giving up of Israel was inflicted upon it as 
a punishment for its idolatry, yet, according to the purpose of 
God, it was also intended to prepare the way for the spread of 
the kingdom of God over all nations. The Gentiles were to 
learn to fear the living God of heaven and earth, not only as a 
preparation for the deliverance of Israel out of their hands after 
it had been refined by the punishment, but also that they might 
themselves be convinced of the worthlessness of their idols, and 
learn to seek salvation from the God of Israel. But whilst this 
brings out distinctly to the light the deep inward connection 
between the mission of Jonah to Nineveh and the divine plan of 
salvation, the typical character of that connection is first made 
perfectly clear from what Jonah himself passed through. For 
whereas the punishment, which he brought upon himself through 
his resistance to the divine command, contained this lesson, that 
Israel in its natural nationality must perish in order that out 
of the old sinful nature there may arise a new people of God, 
which, being dead to the law, may serve the Lord in the will- 


ingness of the spirit, God also appointed the mortal anguish 
and the deliverance of Jonah as- a type of the death and resur 
rection of Jesus Christ to be the Saviour of the whole world. 
As Jonah the servant of God is given up to death that he may 
successfully accomplish the work committed to him, namely, to 
proclaim to the Ninevites the judgment and mercy of the God 
of heaven and earth ; so must the Son of God be buried in the 
earth like a grain of wheat, that He may bring forth fruit for 
the whole world. The resemblance between the two is appa 
rent in this. But Jonah deserved the punishment of death ; 
Christ, on the contrary, suffered as the innocent One for the 
sins of mankind, and went voluntarily to death as One who 
had life in Himself to accomplish His Father s will. In this 
difference the inequality appears; and in this the type falls 
back behind the antitype, and typifies the reality but imper 
fectly. But even in this difference we may perceive a certain 
resemblance between Jonah and Christ which must not be 
overlooked. Jonah died according to his natural man on 
account of the sin, which was common to- himself and his 
nation; Christ died for the sin of His people, which He had 
taken upon Himself, to make expiation for it ; but He also 
died as a member of the nation, from which He had sprung 
according to the flesh, when He was made under the law, that 
He might rise again as the Saviour of all nations. 

This symbolical and typical significance of the mission of 
the prophet Jonah precludes the assumption that the account 
in his book is a myth or a parabolical fiction, or simply the 
description of a symbolical transaction which the prophet ex 
perienced in spirit only. And the contents of the book are at 
variance with all these assumptions, even with the last. When 
the prophets are commanded to carry out symbolical transac 
tions, they do so without repugnance. But Jonah seeks to 
avoid executing the command of God by flight, and is punished 
in consequence. This is at variance with the character of a 
purely symbolical action, and proves- that the book relates his 
torical facts. It is true that the sending of Jonah to Nineveh 


had not its real purpose within itself; that is to say, that it 
was not intended to effect the conversion of the Ninevites to 
the living God, but simply to bring to light the truth that even 
the Gentiles were capable of receiving divine truth, and to 

388 JONAH. 

exhibit the possibility of their eventual reception into the king 
dom of God. But this truth could not have been brought to 
the consciousness of the Israelites in a more impressive manner 
than by Jonah s really travelling to Nineveh to proclaim the 
destruction of that city on account of its wickedness, and see 
ing the proclamation followed by the results recorded in our 
book. Still less could the importance of this truth, so far as 
Israel was concerned, be exhibited in a merely symbolical 
transaction. If the intended flight of the prophet to Tarshish 
and his misfortune upon the sea were not historical facts, they 
could only be mythical or parabolical fictions. But though 
myths may very well embody religious ideas, and parables set 
forth prophetical truths, they cannot be types of future facts 
in the history of salvation. If the three days confinement of 
Jonah in the belly of the fish really had the typical significance 
which Christ attributes to it in Matt. xii. 39 sqq. and Luke xi. 
29 sqq., it can neither be a myth or dream, nor a parable, nor 
merely a visionary occurrence experienced by the prophet ; but 
must have had as much objective reality as the facts of the 
death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. 1 

But if it follows from what has been said, that our book 
contains facts of a symbolico-typical meaning from the life of 
the prophet Jonah, there is no tenable ground left for dis 
puting the authorship of the prophet himself. At the same 
time, the fact that Jonah was the author is not in itself enough 
to explain the admission of the book among the writings of the 
minor prophets. This place the book received, not because it 
related historical events that had happened to the prophet 
Jonah, but because these events were practical prophecies. 
Marck saw this, and has the following apt remark upon this 
point : " The writing is to a great extent historical, but 
so that in the history itself there is hidden the mystery of 
a very great prophecy ; and he proves himself to be a true 

1 Compare also the critical examination of the more recent views 
that have been published against the historical character of the book of 
Jonah, and the negative and positive vindication of the historical view, in 
Havernick s Handbuch der Einkitung in d. A. T. ii. 2, p. 326 sqq. ; and 
the discussions on the symbolical character of the book by Hengstenberg 
( Christnlogy, vol. i. p. 404 sqq. translation), and K. H. Sack in his Christlichs 
Apologetik, p. 343 sqq., ed. 2. 

CHAP. I. 1-3. 

prophet quite as much by his own fate as he does by his 

For the exegetical literature on the book of Jonah, see my 
Lehrbuch der Einleitung, p. 291. 



Jonah tries to avoid fulfilling the command of God, to 
preach repentance to the great city Nineveh, by a rapid flight 
to the sea, for the purpose of sailing to Tarshish (vers. 1-3) ; 
but a terrible storm, which threatens to destroy the ship, brings 
his sin to light (vers. 410) ; and when the lot singles him out 
as the culprit, he confesses that he is guilty; and in accordance 
with the sentence which he pronounces upon himself, is cast into 
the sea (vers. 11-16). 

Vers. 1-3. The narrative commences with W, as Ruth (i. 1), 
1 Samuel (i. 1), and others do. This was the standing formula 
with which historical events were linked on to one another, 
inasmuch as every occurrence follows another in chronological 
sequence ; so that the Vav (and) simply attaches to a series of 
events, which are assumed as well known, and by no means 
warrants the assumption that the narrative which follows is 
merely a fragment of a larger work (see at Josh. i. 1). The 
word of the Lord which came to Jonah was this : " Arise, go to 
Nineveh, the great city, and preach against it" /V does not 
stand for b (ch. in. 2), but retains its proper meaning, against, 
indicating the threatening nature of the preaching, as the 
explanatory clause which follows clearly shows. The connec 
tion in ch. iii. 2 is a different one. Nineveh, the capital of the 
Assyrian kingdom, and the residence of the great kings of 
Assyria, which was built by Nimrod according to Gen. x. 11, 
and by Ninos, the mythical founder of the Assyrian empire, 
according to the Greek and Roman authors, is repeatedly called 
" the great city" in this book (ch. iii. 2, 3, iv. 11), and its size 

390 JONAH. 

is given as three -days journey (ch. lii. 3). This agrees with 
the statements of classical writers, according to whom Nlvos, 
Ninus, as Greeks and Romans call it, was the largest city in 
the world at that time. According to Strabo (xvi. 1, 3), it was 
much larger than Babylon, and was situated in a plain, Arov- 
pias, of Assyria, i.e. on the left bank of the Tigris. According 
to Ctesias (in Diod. ii. 3), its circumference was as much as 
480 stadia, i.e. twelve geographical miles ; whereas, according 
to Strabo, the circumference of the wall of Babylon was not 
more than 365 stadia. These statements have been confirmed 
by modern excavations upon -the spot. The conclusion to which 
recent discoveries lead is, .that the name Nineveh was used 
in two senses : first, for one particular city ; and secondly, 
for a complex of four large primeval cities (including Nineveh 
proper), the circumvallation of which is still traceable, and a 
number of small dwelling-places, castles, etc., the mounds (Tell) 
of which cover the land. This Nineveh, in the broader sense, 
is bounded on three sides by rivers viz. on the north-west by 
the Khosr, on the west by the Tigris, and on the south-west by 
the Gazr Su and the Upper or Great Zab and on the fourth 
side by mountains, which ascend from the rocky plateau ; and 
it was fortified artificially all round on the river-sides with dams, 
sluices for inundating the land, and canals, and on the land 
side with ramparts and castles, as we may still see from the 
heaps of ruins. It formed a trapezium, the sharp angles of 
which lay towards the north and south, the long sides being 
formed by the Tigris and the mountains. The average length 
is about twenty-five English miles ; the average breadth fifteen. 
The four large cities were situated on the edge of the trapezium, 
Nineveh proper (including the ruins of Kouyunjik, Nebbi 
Yunas, and Ninua) being at the north-western corner, by the 
Tigris ; the city, which was evidently the later capital (Nimrud), 
and which Rawlinson, Jones, and Oppert suppose to have been 
Calah, at the south-western corner, between Tigris and Zab ; 
a third large city, which is now without a name, and has been 
explored least of all, but within the circumference of which the 
village of Selamiyeh now stands, on the Tigris itself, from three 
to six English miles to the north of Nimrud ; and lastly, the 
citadel and temple-mass, which is now named Khorsabad, and 
is said to be called Dur-Sargina in the inscriptions, from the 

CHAP. I. 1-3. 391 

palace built there by Sargon, on the Khosr, pretty near to the 
north-eastern corner (compare M. v. Niebuhr, Geschichte Assurs, 
p. 274 sqq., with the ground-plan of the city of Nineveh, p. 284). 
But although we may see from this that Nineveh could very 
justly be called the great city, Jonah does not apply this epithet 
to it with the intention of pointing out to his countrymen its 
majestic size, but, as the expression g e doldh lelohim in ch. iii. 3 
clearly shows, and as we may see still rruore clearly from ch. iv. 
11, with reference to the importance which Nineveh had, both 
in the eye of God, and with regard to the divine commission 
which he had received, as the capital of the Gentile world, quce 
propter tot animarum multitudinem Deo euros erat (Michaelis). 
Jonah was to preach against this great Gentile city, because its 
wickedness had come before Jehovah, i.e. because the report or 
the tidings of its great corruption had penetrated to God in 
heaven (cf. Gen. xviii. 21 ; 1 Sam. v. 12). Ver. 3. Jonah sets 
out upon his journey ; not to Nineveh, however, but to flee to 
Tarshish, i.e. Tartessus, a Phoenician port in Spain (see at Gen. 
x. 4 and Isa. xxiii. 1), "from the face of Jehovah" i.e. away 
from the presence of the Lord, out of the land of Israel, where 
Jehovah dwelt in the temple, and manifested His presence (cf. 
Gen. iv. 16) ; not to hide himself from the omnipresent God, 
but to withdraw from the service of Jehovah, the God-King of 
Israel. 1 The motive for this flight was not fear of the difficulty 
of carrying out the command of God, but, as Jonah himself says 
in ch. iv. 2, anxiety lest the compassion of God should spare the 
sinful city in the event of its repenting. He had no wish to 
co-operate in this ; and that not merely because " he knew, by 
inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that the repentance of the Gen 
tiles would be the ruin of the Jews, and, as a lover of his country, 
was actuated not so much by envy of the salvation of Nineveh, 
as by unwillingness that his own people should perish," as 
Jerome supposes, but also because he really grudged salvation 

1 Marck has already correctly observed, that " this must not be under 
stood as flight from the being and knowledge of God, lest we should 
attribute to the great prophet gross ignorance of the omnipresence and 
omniscience of God ; but as departure from the land of Canaan, the 
gracious seat of God, outside which he thought, that possibly, at any rate 
at that time, the gift and office of a prophet would not be conferred upon 

392 JONAH. 

to the Gentiles, and feared lest their conversion to the living 
God should infringe upon the privileges of Israel above the 
Gentile world, and put an end to its election as the nation of 
God. 1 He therefore betook himself to Yapho, i.e. Joppa, the 
port on the Mediterranean Sea (vid. comm. on Josh. xix. 46), 
and there found a ship which was going to Tarshish ; and 
having paid the s e khdrdh, the hire of the ship, i.e. the fare for 
the passage, embarked " to go with them (i.e. the sailors) to 

Vers. 4-10. Jonah s foolish hope of being able to escape 
from the Lord was disappointed. " Jehovah threw a great wind 
(i.e. a violent wind) upon the sea. 19 A mighty tempest ("W?, 
rendered appropriately /c\vSa>v by the LXX.) arose, so that 
" the ship thought to be dashed to pieces" i.e. to be wrecked 
(3$n used of inanimate things, equivalent to "was very nearly" 
wrecked). In this danger the seamen (malldch, a denom. of 
me.lachj the salt flood) cried for help, "every one to his god." 
They were heathen, and probably for the most part Phoenicians, 
but from different places, and therefore worshippers of different 
gods. But as the storm did not abate, they also resorted to 

1 Luther has already deduced this, the only true reason, from ch. iv., in 
his Commentary on the Prophet Jonah: "Because Jonah was sorry that 
God was so kind, he would rather not preach, yea, would rather die, than 
that the grace of God, which was to be the peculiar privilege of the people 
of Israel, should be communicated to the Gentiles also, who had neither 
the word of God, nor the laws of Moses, nor the worship of God, nor 
prophets, nor anything else, but rather strove against God, and His word, 
and His people." But in order to guard against a false estimate of the" 
prophet, on account of these " carnal, Jewish thoughts of God," Luther 
directs attention to the fact that " the apostles also held at first the carnal 
opinion that the kingdom of Christ was to be an outward one; and even 
afterwards, when they understood that it was to be a spiritual one, they 
thought that it was to embrace only the Jews, and therefore preached 
the gospel to the Jews only (Acts viii.), until God enlightened them by a 
vision from heaven to Peter (Acts x.), and by the public calling of Paul 
and Barnabas (Acts xiii.), and by wonders and signs ; and it was at last 
resolved by a general council (Acts xv.), that God would also show mercy 
to the Gentiles, and that He was the God of the Gentiles also. For it was 
very hard for the Jews to believe that there were any other people outside 
Israel who helped to form the people of God, because the sayings of the 
Scripture stop there and speak of Israel and Abraham s seed ; and the 
word of God, the worship of God, the laws and the holy prophets, were with 
them alone." 

CHAP. I. 4-10. 393 

such means of safety as they had at command. They " threw 
the wares in the ship into the sea, to procure relief to themselves" 
(Drv^D ^pr6 as in Ex. xviii. 22 and 1 Kings xii. 10). The 
suffix refers to the persons, not to the things. By throwing 
the goods overboard, they hoped to preserve the ship from sink 
ing beneath the swelling waves, and thereby to lighten, i.e. 
diminish for themselves the danger of destruction which was 
so burdensome to them. " But Jonah had gone down into the 
lower room of the ship, and had there fallen fast asleep ;" not, 
however, just at the time of the greatest danger, but before the 
wind had risen into a dangerous storm. The sentence is to be 
rendered as a circumstantial one in the pluperfect. Yark e the 
hass e phlndh (analogous to yarTfthe habbayith in Amos vi. 10) is 
the innermost part of the vessel, i.e. the lower room of the ship. 
S e phmdh 9 which only occurs here, and is used in the place of 
n>JX, is the usual word for a ship in Arabic and Aramaean. 
Nirdam: used for deep sleep, as in Judg. iv. 21. This act of 
Jonah s is regarded by most commentators as a sign of an evil 
conscience. Marck supposes that he had lain down to sleep, 
hoping the better to escape either the dangers of sea and air, 
or the hand of God ; others, that he had thrown himself down 
in despair, and being utterly exhausted and giving himself up 
for lost, had fallen asleep ; or as Theodoret expresses it, being 
troubled with the gnawings of conscience and overpowered 
with mourning, he had sought comfort in sleep and fallen into 
a deep sleep. Jerome, on the other hand, expresses the idea 
that the words indicate " security of mind" on the part of the 
prophet : " he is not disturbed by the storm and the surround 
ing dangers, but has the same composed mind in the^alm, or 
with shipwreck at hand;" and whilst the rest are calling upon 
their gods, and casting their things overboard, " he is so calm, 
and feels so safe with his tranquil mind, that he goes down to 
the interior of the ship and enjoys a most placid sleep." The 
truth probably lies between these two views. It was not an 
evil conscience, or despair occasioned by the threatening danger, 
which induced him to lie down to sleep ; nor was it his fearless 
composure in the midst of the dangers of the storm, but the 
careless self-security with which he had embarked on the ship to 
flee from God, without considering that the hand of God could 
reach him even on the sea, and punish him for his disobedi- 

394 JONAH. 

ence. This security is apparent in his subsequent conduct. 
Ver. 6. When the danger was at its height, the upper-steersman, 
or ship s captain (rabh hachobhel, the chief of the ship s gover 
nors ; chobhel with the article is a collective noun, and a denom. 
from chebhel, a ship s cable, hence the one who manages, steers, 
or guides the ship), wakes him with the words, "How canst 
tlwu sleep soundly ? A rise, and call upon thy God ; perhaps God 
(haelohim with the article, ( the true God ) will think of us, 
that we may not perish" The meaning of niftyn* is disputed. 
As J"CT is used in Jer. v. 28 in the sense of shinino- (viz. of 

~ T O V 

fat), Calvin and others (last of all, Hitzig) have maintained 
that the hithpael has the meaning, shown himself shining, i.e. 
bright (propitious) ; whilst others, including Jerome, prefer 
the meaning think again, which is apparently better supported 
than the former, not only by the Chaldee, but also by the 
nouns ninety (Job xii. 5) and pn^y (P s . cxlvi. 4). God s think 
ing of a person involves the idea of active assistance. For the 
thought itself, compare Ps. xl. 18. The fact that Jonah obeyed 
this awakening call is passed over as self-evident ; and in ver. 7 
the narrative proceeds to relate, that as the storm had not 
abated in the meantime, the sailors, firmly believing that some 
one in the ship had committed a crime which had excited the 
anger of God that was manifesting itself in the storm, had 
recourse to the lot to find out the culprit, "E^ = ^ "igfca 
(ver. 8), as V is the vulgar, and in conversation the usual con 
traction for "it?K : " on account of whom " O^K3, in this that 
= because, or followed by ?, on account of), njin, the mis 
fortune (as in Amos iii. 6), namely, the storm which is 
threatening destruction. The lot fell upon Jonah. "The 
fugitive is taken by lot, not from any virtue in lots themselves, 
least of all the lots of heathen, but by the will of Him who 
governs uncertain lots" (Jerome). 

When Jonah had been singled out by the lot as the culprit, 
the sailors called upon him to confess his guilt, asking him 
at the same time about his country, his occupation, and his 
parentage. The repetition of the question, on whose account 
this calamity had befallen them, which is omitted in the LXX. 
(Vatic.), the Soncin. prophets, and Cod. 195 of Kennicott, is 
found in the margin in Cod. 384, and is regarded by Grimm 
and Hitzig as a marginal gloss that has crept into the text. 

CHAP. i. i-io. 395 

It is not superfluous, however ; still less does it occasion any 
confusion ; on the contrary, it is quite in order. The sailors 
wanted thereby to induce Jonah to confess with his own mouth 
that he was guilty, now that the lot had fallen upon him, and 
to disclose his crime (Eos. and others). As an indirect appeal 
to confess his crime, it prepares the way for the further inquiries 
as to his occupation, etc. They inquired about his occupation, 
because it might be a disreputable one, and one which excited 
the wrath of the gods ; also about his parentage, and especially 
about the land and people from which he sprang, that they 
might be able to pronounce a safe sentence upon his crime. 
Ver. 9. Jonah begins by answering the last question, saying 
that he was " a Hebrew" the name by which the Israelites 
designated themselves in contradistinction to other nations, and 
by which other nations designated them (see at Gen. xiv. 13, 
and my Lelirbuch der Einleitung, 9, Anm. 2), and that he 
worshipped " the God of heaven, who created the sea and the dry" 
(i.e. the land). ^ has been rendered correctly by the LXX. 
cre/3oyLtat, colo, revereor; and does not mean, "I am afraid of 
Jehovah, against whom I have sinned" (Abarbanel). By the 
statement, " I fear," etc., he had no intention of describing 
himself as a righteous or innocent man (Hitzig), but simply 
meant to indicate his relation to God, namely, that he adored 
the living God who created the whole earth and, as Creator, 
governed the world. For he admits directly after, that he has 
sinned against this God, by telling them, as we may see from 
ver. 10, of his flight from Jehovah. He had not told them 
this as soon as he embarked in the ship, as Hitzig supposes, 
but does so now for the first time when they ask about his 
people, his country, etc., as we may see most unmistakeably 
from ver. 10&. In ver. 9 Jonah s statement is not given com 
pletely ; but the principal fact, viz. that he was a Hebrew and 
worshipped Jehovah, is followed immediately by the account 
of the impression which this acknowledgment made upon the 
heathen sailors ; and the confession of his sin is mentioned 
afterwards as a supplement, to assign the reason for the great 
fear which came upon the sailors in consequence. ^^V DN-rnD, 
What hast thou done ! is not a question as to the nature of his 
sin, but an exclamation of horror at his flight from Jehovah, 
the God of heaven and earth, as the following explanatory 

396 JONAH. 

clauses W WT "3 clearly show. The great fear which came 
upon the heathen seamen at this confession of Jonah may be 
fully explained from the dangerous situation in which they 
found themselves, since the storm preached the omnipotence of 
God more powerfully than words could possibly do. 

Vers. 11-16. Fearing as they did in the storm the wrath 
of God on account of Jonah s sin, they now asked what they 
should do, that the storm might abate, "for the sea continued 
to rage" pn^, to set itself, to come to a state of repose ; or 
with ?yp, to desist from a person, ^in, as in Gen. viii. 5, etc., 
expressive of the continuance of an action. With their fear of 
the Almighty God, whom Jonah worshipped, they did not dare 
to inflict a punishment upon the prophet, simply according to 
their own judgment. As a worshipper of Jehovah, he should 
pronounce his own sentence, or let it be pronounced by his 
God. Jonah replies in ver. 12, " Cast me into the sea; for I 
know that for my sake this great storm is (come) upon you" 
As Jerome says, " He does not refuse, or prevaricate, or deny ; 
but, having made confession concerning his flight, he willingly 
endures the punishment, desiring to perish, and not let others 
perish on his account." Jonah confesses that he has deserved 
to die for his rebellion against God, and that the wrath of God 
which has manifested itself in the storm can only be appeased 
by his death. He pronounces this sentence, not by virtue of 
any prophetic inspiration, but as a believing Israelite who is 
well acquainted with the severity of the justice of the holy 
God, both from the law and from the history of his nation. 
Ver. 13. But the men (the seamen) do not venture to carry 
out this sentence at once. They try once more to reach the 
land and escape from the storm, which is threatening them 
with destruction, without so serious a sacrifice. Vtrin^ lit. they 
broke through, sc. through the waves, to bring (the ship) back 
to the land, i.e. they tried to reach the land by rowing and 
steering. Chdthar does not mean to row, still less to twist or 
turn round (Hitzig), but to break through ; here to break 
through the waves, to try to overcome them, to which the irape- 
ftiaCpvTO of the LXX. points. As they could not accomplish 
this, however, because the sea continued to rage against them 
(Dn^ lyb, was raging against them), they prayed thus to 
Jehovah : " We beseech Thee, let us not (NjK = W"5>K) perish 

CHAP. I. 17-11. 10. 307 

for the sake of the soul of this man (^??, lit. for the soul, as in 
2 Sam. xiv. 7 after Deut. xix. 21), and lay not upon us innocent 
blood" that is to say, not " do not let us destroy an innocent 
man in the person of this man" (Hitzig), but, according to 
Deut. xxi. 8, " do not impute his death to us, if we cast him 
into the sea, as bloodguiltiness deserving death ;" "for Thou, 
Jehovah, hast done as it pleased Thee" namely, inasmuch as, 
by sending the storm and determining the lot, Thou hast so 
ordained that we must cast him into the sea as guilty, in order 
to expiate Thy wrath. They offer this prayer, not because 
they have no true conception of the guilt of Jonah, who is 
not a murderer or blasphemer, inasmuch as, according to their 
notions, he is not a sinner deserving death (Hitzig), but because 
they regard Jonah as a prophet or servant of the Almighty 
God, upon whom, from fear of his God, they do not venture 
to lay their hand. "We see, therefore, that although they 
had never enjoyed the teaching of the law, they had been so 
taught by nature, that they knew very well that the blood of 
man was dear to God, and precious in His sight" (Calvin). 
Vers. 15, 16. After they had prayed thus, they cast Jonah 
into the sea, and " the sea stood still (ceased) from its raging" 
The sudden cessation of the storm showed that the bad weather 
had come entirely on Jonah s account, and that the sailors had 
not shed innocent blood by casting him into the sea. In this 
sudden change in the weather, the arm of the holy God was 
so suddenly manifested, that the sailors "feared Jehovah with 
great fear, and offered sacrifice to Jehovah" not after they 
landed, but immediately, on board the ship " and voiced vows" 
i.e. vowed that they would offer Him still further sacrifices on 
their safe arrival at their destination. 

JONAH S DELIVERANCE. CHAP. i. 17-n. 10 (HEB. CHAP. n.). 

When Jonah had been cast into the sea by the appoint 
ment of God, he was swallowed up by a great fish (ch. i. 17), 
in whose belly he spent three days and nights, and offered an 
earnest prayer to God (ch. ii. 1-9) ; whereupon, by command 
of Jehovah, the fish vomited him out upon the land (ver. 10). 

398 JONAH. 

Ch. i. 17 (Heb. ii. 1). "And Jehovah appointed a great fish 
to swallow up Jonah" H3E does not mean to create, but to 
determine, to appoint. The thought is this : Jehovah ordained 
that a great fish should swallow him. The great fish (LXX. 
ACT}?, cf. Matt. xii. 40), which is not more precisely defined, 
was not a whale, because this is extremely rare in the Mediter 
ranean, and has too small a throat to swallow a man, but a 
large shark or sea-dog, canis carcharias, or squalus carcharias 
L., which is very common in the Mediterranean, and has so 
large a throat, that it can swallow a living man whole. 1 The 
miracle consisted therefore, not so much in the fact that Jonah 
was swallowed alive, as in the fact that he was kept alive for 
three days in the shark s belly, and then vomited unhurt upon 
the land. The three days and three nights are not to be re 
garded as fully three times twenty hours, but are to be inter 
preted according to Hebrew usage, as signifying that Jonah 
was vomited up again on the third day after he had been swal 
lowed (compare Esth. iv. 16 with v. 1 and Tob. iii. 12, 13, 
according to the Lutheran text). 

Ch. ii. 1-9. "Jonah prayed to Jehovah his God out of the 
fistis belly" The prayer which follows (vers. 29) is not a 

1 The squalus carcharias L., the true shark, Requin, or rather Requiem, 
reaches, according to Cuvier, the length of 25 feet, and according to Oken 
the length of four fathoms, and has about 400 lance-shaped teeth in its 
jaw, arranged in six rows, which the animal can either elevate or depress, 
as they are simply fixed in cells in the skin. It is common in the Medi 
terranean, where it generally remains in deep water, and is very voracious, 
swallowing everything that comes in its way plaice, seals, and tunny- 
fish, with which it sometimes gets into the fishermen s net on the coast of 
Sardinia, and is caught. As many as a dozen undigested tunny-fish have 
been found in a shark weighing three or four hundredweight ; in one a 
whole horse was found, and its weight was estimated at fifteen hundred 
weight. Rondelet (Oken, p. 58) says that he saw one on the western 
coast of France, through whose throat a fat man could very easily have 
passed. Oken also mentions a fact, which is more elaborately described in 
M tiller s Vollstandiges Natur-system des Ritters Carl v. Linne (Th. iii. p. 
268), namely, that in the year 1758 a sailor fell overboard from a frigate, 
in very stormy weather, into the Mediterranean Sea, and was immediately 
taken into the jaws of a sea-dog (carcharias), and disappeared. The 
captain, however, ordered a gun, which was standing on the deck, to be 
discharged at the shark, and the cannon-ball struck it, so that it vomited 
up again the sailor that it had swallowed, who was then taken up alive, 
mid very little hurt, into the boat that had been, lowered for his rescue. 

CHAP. II. 2. 399 

petition for deliverance, but thanksgiving and praise for deli 
verance already received. It by no means follows from this, 
however, that Jonah did not utter this prayer till after he had 
been vomited upon the land, and that ver. 10 ought to be in 
serted before ver. 2 ; but, as the earlier commentators have 
shown, the fact is rather this, that when Jonah had been swal 
lowed by the fish, and found that he was preserved alive in the 
fish s belly, he regarded this as a pledge of his deliverance, for 
which he praised the Lord. Luther also observes, that " he 
did not actually utter these very words with his mouth, and 
arrange them in this orderly manner, in the belly of the fish ; 
but that he here shows what the state of his mind was, and 
what thoughts he had when he was engaged in this conflict 
with death." The expression "his God" (W&K) must not be 
overlooked. He prayed not only to Jehovah, as the heathen 
sailors also did (ch. i. 14), but to Jehovah as his God, from 
whom he had tried to escape, and whom he now addresses 
again as his God when in peril of death. " He shows his faith 
by adoring Him as his God" (Burk). The prayer consists for 
the most part of reminiscences of passages in the Psalms, which 
were so exactly suited to Jonah s circumstances, that he could 
not have expressed his thoughts and feelings any better in 
words of his own. It is by no means so "atomically com 
pounded from passages in the Psalms" that there is any ground 
for pronouncing it " a later production which has been attributed 
to Jonah," as Knobel and De Wette do ; but it is the simple and 
natural utterance of a man versed in the Holy Scripture and 
living in the word of God, and is in perfect accordance with the 
prophet s circumstances and the state of his mind. Commencing 
with the confession, that the Lord has heard his crying to Him 
in distress (ver. 2), Jonah depicts in two strophes (vers. 3 and 4, 
5-7) the distress into which he had been brought, and the 
deliverance out of that destruction which appeared inevitable, 
and closes in vers. 8, 9 with a vow of thanksgiving for the 
deliverance which he had received. 

Ver. 2. / cried to Jehovah out of my distress, and He heard me ; 
Oat of the womb of hell I cried: Thou heardest my 
voice ! 

The first clause recals to mind Ps. xviii. 7 and cxx. 1 ; but 

400 JONAH. 

it also shows itself to be an original reproduction of the ex 
pression v i?) which expresses the prophet s situation in a 
more pointed manner than ^~~>? in Ps. xviii. and ^ n ^"l?? in 
Ps. cxx. The distress is still more minutely defined in the 
second hemistich by the expression ^W? !??> " out of the womb 
of the nether world." As a throat or swallow is ascribed to 
sh e ol in Isa. v. 14, so here it is spoken of as having a JB3, or 
belly. This is not to be taken as referring to the belly of the 
shark, as Jerome supposes. The expression is a poetical figure 
used to denote the danger of death, from which there is appa 
rently no escape ; like the encompassing with snares of death 
in Ps. xviii. 5, and the bringing up of the soul out of sheol 
in Ps. xxx. 3. In the last clause the words pass over very 
appropriately into an address to Jehovah, which is brought 
out into still greater prominence by the omission of the copula 

Ver. 3. Thou castedst me into the deep, into the heart of 

the seas, 

And the stream surrounded me; 
A II Thy billows and Thy waves went over me. 
4. Then I said, I am thrust away from Thine eyes, 
Yet I will look again to Thy holy temple. 

The more minute description of the peril of death is attached 
by Vav consec., to express not sequence in time, but sequence 
of thought. Jehovah cast him into the depth of the sea, because 
the seamen were merely the executors of the punishment in 
flicted upon him by Jehovah. M e tsuldh, the deep, is defined 
by " the heart of the seas" as the deepest abyss of the ocean. 
The plural yammlm (seas) is used here with distinct significance, 
instead of the singular, " into the heart of the sea" (yam) in 
Ex. xv. 8, to express the idea of the boundless ocean (see 
Dietrich, Alhandlung zur hebr. Grammatik, pp. 16, 17). The 
next clauses are circumstantial clauses, and mean, so that the 
current of the sea surrounded me, and all the billows and waves 
of the sea, which Jehovah had raised into a storm, went over 
me. Ndhdr, a river or stream, is the streaming or current of 
the sea, as in Ps. xxiv. 2. The words of the second hemistich 
are a reminiscence of Ps. xlii. 8. What the Korahite singer of 
that psalm had experienced spiritually, viz. that one wave of 

CHAP. II. 5-7. 401 

trouble after another swept over him, that had the prophet 
literally experienced. Jonah " does not say, The waves and the 
billows of the sea went over me; but Thy waves and Thy billows, 
because he felt in his conscience that the sea with its waves and 
billows was the servant of God and of His wrath, to punish 
sin" (Luther). Ver. 4 contains the apodosis to ver. 3a: 
" When Thou castedst me into the deep, then I said (sc. in my 
heart, i.e. then I thought) that I was banished from the sphere 
of Thine eyes, i.e. of Thy protection and care." These words 
are formed from a reminiscence of Ps. xxxi. 23, W"]^ being 
substituted for the ^ro? of the psalm. The second hemistich is 
attached adversatively. ?]K, which there is no necessity to alter 
into "=IN = ^K, as Hitzig supposes, introduces the antithesis in 
an energetic manner, like 15? elsewhere, in the sense of never 
theless, as in Isa. xiv. 15, Ps. xlix. 16, Job xiii. 15 (cf. Ewald, 
354, a). The thought that it is all over with him is met by 
the confidence of faith that he will still look to the holy temple 
of the Lord, that is to say, will once more approach the pre 
sence of the Lord, to worship before Him in His temple, an 
assurance which recals Ps. v. 8. 

The thought that by the grace of the Lord he has been 
once more miraculously delivered out of the gates of death, 
and brought to the light of the world, is carried out still further 
in the following strophe, in entirely new turns of thought. 

Ver. 5. Waiers surrounded me even to the soul: the flood encom 
passed me, 
Sea-grass was wound round my head. 

6. / went down to the foundations of the mountains ; 
The earthy its bolts ivere behind me for ever : 

Then raisedst Thou, my life out of the pit, Jehovah 
my God. 

7. When my soul fainted within me> 1 thought of Jehovah ; 
A nd my prayer came to Thee into Thy holy temple. 

This strophe opens, like the last, with a description of the 
peril of death, to set forth still more perfectly the thought of 
miraculous deliverance which filled the prophet s mind. The 
first clause of the fifth verse recals to mind Ps. xviii. 5 and Ixix. 
2 ; the words " the waters pressed (1N2) even to the soul" (Ps. 
Ixix. 2) being simply strengthened by t| ^D3X after Ps. xviii. 5. 

VOL. I. 2O 

402 JONAH. 

The waters of the sea girt him round about, reaching even to 
the soul, so that it appeared to be all over with his life. T e hom 9 
the unfathomable flood of the ocean, surrounded him. Suph, 
sedge, i.e. sea-grass, which grows at the bottom of the sea, was 
bound about his head ; so that he had sunk to the very bottom. 
This thought is expressed still more distinctly in ver. 6a. "^Vp 
d s "}n ? the ends of the mountains" (from qdtsabh, to cut off, that 
which is cut off, then the place where anything is cut off), are 
their foundations and roots, which lie in the depths of the earth, 
reaching even to the foundation of the sea (cf. Ps. xviii. 16). 
When he sank into the deep, the earth shut its bolts behind 
him (P.Nn is placed at the head absolutely). The figure of 
bolts of the earth that were shut behind Jonah, which we only 
meet with here pJtt from the phrase *iya rtan "JD, to shut the 
door behind a person : Gen. vii. 16 ; 2 Kings iv. 4, 5, 33 ; 
Isa. xxvi. 20), has an analogy in the idea which occurs in Job 
xxxviii. 10, of bolts and doors of the ocean. The bolts of the 
sea are the walls of the sea-basin, which set bounds to the sea, 
that it cannot pass over. Consequently the bolts of the earth 
can only be such barriers as restrain the land from spreading 
over the sea. These barriers are the weight and force of the 


waves, which prevent the land from encroaching on the sea. 
This weight of the waves, or of the great masses of water, which 
pressed upon Jonah when he had sunk to the bottom of the 
sea, shut or bolted against him the way back to the earth (the 
land), just as the bolts that are drawn before the door of a 
house fasten up the entrance into it ; so that the reference is 
neither to " the rocks jutting out above the water, which pre 
vented any one from ascending from the sea to the land," nor 
" densissima terrce compages, qua abyssus tecta Jonam in hac con- 
stitutum occludebat" (Marck). Out of this grave the Lord 
" brought up his life." Shachath is rendered <$>0opd, corruptio, 
by the early translators (LXX., Chald., Syr., Vulg.) ; and this 
rendering, which many of the more modern translators entirely 
reject, is unquestionably the correct one in Job xvii. 14, where 
the meaning " pit" is quite unsuitable. But it is by no means 
warranted in the present instance. The similarity of thought 
to Ps. xxx. 4 points rather to the meaning pit = cavern or grave, 
as in Ps. xxx. 10, where shachath is used interchangeably with 
"N3 and ?iNE> in ver. 4 as being perfectly synonymous. Ver. la 

CHAP. II. 8, 0. 403 

is formed after Ps. cxlii. 4 or cxliii. 4, except that ^ aJ is used 
instead of *nn, because Jonah is not speaking of the covering of 
the spirit with faintness, but of the plunging of the life into night 
and the darkness of death by drowning in the water, *)Eyrin, lit. 
to veil or cover one s self, hence to sink into night and faint- 
ness, to pine away. v?> upon or in me, inasmuch as the /, as 
a person, embraces the soul or life (cf. Ps. xlii. 5). When his 
soul was about to sink into the night of death, he thought of 
Jehovah in prayer, and his prayer reached to God in His holy 
temple, where Jehovah is enthroned as God and King of His 
people (Ps. xviii. 7, Ixxxviii. 3). 

But when prayer reaches to God, then He helps and also 
saves. This awakens confidence in the Lord, and impels to 
praise and thanksgiving. These thoughts form the last strophe, 
with which the Psalm of thanksgiving is appropriately closed. 

Ver. 8. They ivho Jwld to false vanities 

Forsake their own mercy. 

9. But I will sacrifice to Thee with the call of thanksgiving. 
I will pay what I have vowed. 
Salvation is with Jehovah. 

In order to express the thought emphatically, that salvation and 
deliverance are only to be hoped for from Jehovah the living 
God, Jonah points to the idolaters, who forfeit their mercy. 
KwHbn Dn^ p is a reminiscence of Ps. xxxi. 7. KwHbft, 
worthless vanities, are all things which man makes into idols or 
objects of trust, &Yjn are, according to Deut. xxxii. 21, false 
gods or idols. Shdmar y to keep, or, when applied to false gods, 
to keep to them or reverence them ; in Hos. iv. 10 it is also 
applied to Jehovah. CnDH signifies neither pietatem suam nor 
gratiam a Deo ipsis exhibitam^ nor " all the grace and love 
which they might receive" (Hitzig) ; but refers to God Himself, 
as He whose government is pure grace (vid. Gen. xxiv. 27), 
and might become the grace even of the idolatrous. Jonah, 
on the contrary, like all the righteous, would sacrifice to the 
Lord b e qol toddh, " with the voice, or cry, of thanksgiving," i.e. 
would offer his sacrifices with a prayer of sincere thanksgiving 
(cf. Ps. xlii. 5), and pay the vow which he had made in his 
distress (cf. Ps. 1. 14, 23). These utterances are founded upon 
the hope that his deliverance will be effected (Hitzig) ; and this 

404 JONAH. 

hope is based upon the fact that "salvation is Jehovah s," i.e. 
is in His power, so that He only can grant salvation. 

Ver. 10. " Then Jelwvali spake to the fish, and it vomited 
Jonah upon the dry land." The nature of God s speaking, or 
commanding, may be inferred from the words 131 Nj?.Jl. Cyril 
explains the thought correctly thus: "The whale is again 
impelled by a certain divine and secret power of God, being 
moved to that which seems good to Him." The land upon 
which Jonah was vomited was, of course, the coast of Palestine, 
probably the country near Joppa. According to ver. 1, this 
took place on the third day after he had been swallowed by the 
fish. On the prophetico-typical character of the miracle, see 
the remarks at p. 385 sqq. 


After Jonah had been punished for his disobedience, and 
miraculously delivered from death by the mercy of God, he 
obeyed the renewed command of Jehovah, and preached to the 
city of Nineveh that it would be destroyed within forty days 
on account of its sins (vers. 1-4). But the Ninevites believed 
in God, and repented in sackcloth and ashes, to avert the 
threatened destruction (vers. 5-9); and the Lord spared the 
city (ver. 10). 

Vers. 14. The word of the Lord came to Jonah the 
second time, to go to Nineveh and proclaim to that city what 
Jehovah would say to him. HNnjp : that which is called out, 
the proclamation, TO Kijpvyfjia (LXX.). Jonah now obeyed 
the word of Jehovah. But Nineveh was a great city to God 
(lelohlm\ id. it was regarded by God as a great city. This 
remark points to the motive for sparing it (cf. ch. iv. 11), in 
case its inhabitants hearkened to the word of God. Its great 
ness amounted to " a three days walk." This is usually sup 
posed to refer to the circumference of the city, by which the 
size of a city is generally determined. But the statement in 
ver. 4, that " Jonah began to enter into the city the walk of a 
day," i.e. a day s journey, is apparently at variance with this. 
Hence Hitzig has come to the conclusion that the diameter or 

CHAP. III. 1-4. 405 

length of the city is intended, and that, as the walk of a day 
in ver. 4 evidently points to the walk of three days in ver. 3, 
the latter must also be understood as referring to the length of 
Nineveh. But according to Diod. ii. 3 the length of the city 
was 150 stadia, and Herodotus (v. 53) gives just this number 
of stadia as a day s journey. Hence Jonah would not have