Keil and Delitzsch Commentary - Hosea 8:9 - 8:9

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Keil and Delitzsch Commentary - Hosea 8:9 - 8:9

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“For they went up to Asshur; wild ass goes alone by itself; Ephraim sued for loves. Hos 8:10. 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 כְ 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 to it those which follow, “like a wild ass going alone, Ephraim sued for loves,” do we get any suitable 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. Hithnâh, from tânâh, probably a denom. of 'ethnâh (see at Hos 2:14), to give the reward of prostitution, here in the sense of bargaining for amours, or endeavouring to secure them by presents. The kal yithnū has the same meaning in Hos 8:10. The word אֲקַבְּצֵם, to which different renderings have been given, can only have a threatening or punitive sense here; and the suffix cannot refer to בַּגֹּויִם, 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. קִבֵּץ is used in a similar sense in Hos 9:6. The more precise definition is added in the next clause, in the difficult expression וַיָּחֵלּוּ מְעָט, in which וַיָּחֵלּוּ may be taken most safely in the sense of “beginning,” as in Jdg 20:31; 2Ch 29:17, and Eze 9:6, in all of which this form occurs, and מעט as an adject. verb., connected with הֵחֵל like the adjective כֵּהֹות in 1Sa 3:2 : “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. מֶלֶךְ שָׂרִים = מֶלֶךְ מְלָכִים is a term applied to the great Assyrian king, who boasted, according to Isa 10:8, that his princes were all kings.