Keil and Delitzsch Commentary - Hosea 3:4 - 3:4

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Keil and Delitzsch Commentary - Hosea 3:4 - 3:4

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“For the sons of Israel will sit for many days without a king, and without a prince, and without slain-offering, and without monument, and without ephod and teraphim.” The explanation of the figure is introduced with כִּי, 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 omission of אֵין before תְּרָפִים, so as to form one pair, whilst the rest are simply arranged one after another by the repetition of אֵין before every one. As king and prince go together, so also do slain-offering and memorial. King and prince are the upholders of civil government; whilst slain-offering and memorial represent the nation's worship and religion. מַצֵּבָה, monument, is connected with idolatrous worship. The “monuments” were consecrated to Baal (Exo 23:24), and the erection of them was for that reason prohibited even in the law (Lev 26:1; Deu 16:22 : see at 1Ki 14:23); but they were widely spread in the kingdom of Israel (2Ki 3:2; 2Ki 10:26-28; 2Ki 17:10), and they were also erected in Judah under idolatrous kings (1Ki 14:23; 2Ki 18:4; 2Ki 23:14; 2Ch 14:2; 2Ch 31:1). The ephod 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 ephod, 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 (1Sa 23:9; 1Sa 30:7); and for the same purpose it was imitated in an idolatrous manner (Jdg 17:5; Jdg 18:5). 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. Archäol. §90). The prophet mentions 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 Hos 1:4), 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 the idolaters, the distress and misery into which they were then plunged filled them with abhorrence of idolatry (see at Hos 2:7).

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 without a monarchy, without Jehovah-worship, and without a priesthood. For it is evident that by Israel the ten tribes are intended, not only from the close connection between this prophecy and Hos 1:1-11, where Israel is expressly distinguished from Judah (Hos 1:7), but also from the prospect held out in Hos 3:5, 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 Judah also is presupposed in Hos 1:7, Hos 1:11, 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 (2Ch 15:2-4). The prophet Azariah predicted this to the kingdom of Judah in a manner which furnishes an unmistakeably support to Hosea's prophecy.