Keil and Delitzsch Commentary - Hosea 9:3 - 9:3

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Keil and Delitzsch Commentary - Hosea 9:3 - 9:3

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“They will not remain in the land of Jehovah: Ephraim returns to Egypt, and they will eat unclean things in the land of Asshur. Hos 9:4. 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.” 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 Hos 8:13; 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 Hos 9:6, just as in Hos 8:13, 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 Hos 9:6 is their being carried away to Assyria mentioned at all; but, on the contrary, in Hos 9:6, 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 Ephraim goes for help, and by whom it will be put to shame (Hos 5:13; Hos 10:6); and it is from the Assyrian king Salman that devastation and destruction proceed (Hos 10:14). And, lastly, it is expressly stated in Hos 11:5, 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 Deu 28:68 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 the land of Jehovah (cf. Eze 4:13). This explanation of טָמֵא is required by Hos 9:4, 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 we 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 zebhâchı̄m, or burnt-offerings and thank-offerings (shelâmı̄m, Num 15:2-15, Num 15:28-29), and could never be omitted when the first-fruits were offered (Lev 23:13, Lev 23:18). “Their sacrifices:” zibhchēhem belongs to יֶעֶרְבוּ־לֹו (shall be pleasing to Him), notwithstanding the previous segholta, because otherwise the subject to יערבו would be wanting, and there is evidently quite as little ground for supplying נִסְ'כיהֶם from the preceding clause, as Hitzig proposes, as for assuming that עָרַב 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 זבחיהם as the subject to the next clause לָהֶם ... כְּלֶחֶם, in the sense of “their sacrifices will be to them like mourners' bread,” which would give no suitable meaning; for though the sacrifices are called bread of God, they are never called the bread of men. The subject may be supplied very readily from kelechem (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 'ōnı̄m, bread of affliction, i.e., of those who mourn for the dead (cf. Deu 26:14), in other words, the bread eaten at funeral meals. This was regarded as unclean, because the corpse defiled the house, and all who came in contact with it, for seven days (Num 19:14). Their bread would resemble bread of this kind, because it had not been sanctified by the offering of 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.