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

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

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Notwithstanding the outburst of the divine judgments, the people prove themselves to be incorrigible in their sins. Hos 4:4. “Only let no man reason, and let no man punish; yet thy people are like priest-strivers.” אַךְ is to be explained from the tacit antithesis, that with much depravity there would be much to punish; but this would be useless. The first clause contains a desperatae nequitiae argumentum. The notion that the second 'ı̄sh is to be taken as an object, is decidedly to be rejected, since it cannot be defended either from the expression אִישׁ בְּאִישׁ in Isa 3:5, or by referring to Amo 2:15, 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 עַם signifies the nation, and not an individual. וְעַמְּךָ 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 expression, priest-disputers, equivalent to quarrellers with the priest, an analogous expression to boundary-movers in Hos 5:10, may be explained, as Luther, and Grotius, and others suppose, from the law laid down in Deu 17:12-13, 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 resembled those who are described in the law as rebels against the priest (Hengstenberg, Dissertations on Pentateuch, vol. 1. p. 112, translation). The suffix “thy nation” does not refer to the prophet, but to the sons of Israel, the sum total of whom constituted their nation, which is directly addressed in the following verse.