Keil and Delitzsch Commentary - Hosea 9:7 - 9:7

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Keil and Delitzsch Commentary - Hosea 9:7 - 9:7

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“The days of visitation are come, the days of retribution 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. Hos 9:8. 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. Hos 9:9. They have acted most corruptly, as in the days of Gibeah: He remembers their iniquity, visits their sins.” The perfects in Hos 9:7 are prophetic. The time of visitation and retribution is approaching. Then will Israel learn that its prophets, who only predicted prosperity and good (Eze 13:10), were infatuated fools. אֱוִיל וגו introduces, without kı̄, what Israel will experience, as in Hos 7:2; Amo 5:12. It does not follow, from the use of the expression 'ı̄sh rūăch, that the reference is to true prophets. 'Ish rūăch (a man of spirit) is synonymous with the 'ı̄sh hōlēkh rūăch (a man walking in the spirit) mentioned in Mic 2:11 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 rūăch sheqer (“a lying spirit,” 1Ki 22:22). The words which follow, viz., “a fool is the prophet,” etc., which cannot possibly mean, that men have treated, despised, and persecuted the prophets as fools and madmen, are a decisive proof that the expression does not refer to true prophets. עַל רֹב עֲוֹנְךָ is attached to the principal clauses, הַשִּׁלֻּם ... בָּאוּ. The punishment and retribution occur because of the greatness of the guilt of Israel. In וְרַבָּה the preposition עַל continues in force, but as a conjunction: “and because the enmity is great” (cf. Ewald, §351, a). Mastēmâh, enmity, not merely against their fellow-men generally, but principally against God and His servants the true prophets. This is sustained by facts in Hos 9:8. The first clause, which is a difficult one and has been interpreted in very different ways, “spying is Ephraim עִם אֱלֹהַי” (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 punishment 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 relation in which the prophets stood to Jehovah. The Lord did indeed appoint prophets as watchmen to His people (Eze 3:17); but He does take His own stand upon the watch-tower with them. Tsâphâh 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 2:1, and not their looking out for help; and עִם אֱלֹהַי 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 אֱלֹהָיו, a reading which is indeed met with in some codices, but is only a worthless conjecture. עִם 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. נָבִיא 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. Hostility 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 (Amo 7:10-17) furnishes a practical example. Israel has thereby fallen as deeply into abomination and sins as in the days of Gibeah, i.e., as at 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. 19ff., 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. Hos 8:13).