(Calvin on Hosea, part 2) Lecture Second Hosea 1:3,4 So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim; which conceived, and bare him a son. And the LORD said unto him, Call his name Jezreel; for yet a little [while], and I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu, and will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel. We said in yesterday's Lecture, that God ordered his Prophet to take a wife of whoredoms, but that this was not actually done; for what other effect could it have had, but to render the Prophet contemptible to all? and thus his authority would have been reduced to nothing. But God only meant to show to the Israelites by such a representation, that they vaunted themselves without reason; for they had nothing worthy of praise, but were in every way ignominious. It is then said, "Hosea went and took to himself Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim." "Gomer", means in Hebrew, to fail; and sometimes it signifies actively, to consume; and hence "Gomer" means consumption. But "Diblaim" are masses of figs, or dry figs reduced to a mass. The Greeks call them "palathas". The Cabalists say here that the wife of Hosea was called by this name, because they who are much given to wantonness at length fall into death and corruption. So consumption is the daughter of figs, for by figs they understand the sweetness of lusts. But it will be more simple to say, that this representation was exhibited to the people, that the Prophet set before them, instead of a wife, consumption, the daughter of figs; that is, that he laid before them masses of figs or "palathas", representing Gomer, which means consumption and that he adopted a similar manner with mathematicians, when they describe their figures, - "If this be so much, then that is so much." We may then thus understand the passage, that the Prophet here named for his wife the corrupt masses of figs; so that she was consumption or putrefaction, born of figs, reduced into such masses. For I still persist in the opinion I expressed yesterday, that the Prophet did not enter a brothel to take a wife to himself: for otherwise he must have begotten bastards, and not legitimate children; for, as it was said yesterday, the case with the wife and the children was the same. We now then understand the true meaning of this verse to be, that the Prophet did not marry a harlot, but only exhibited her before the eyes of the people as though she were corruption, born of putrified masses of figs. It now follows, the wife "conceived", - the imaginary one, the wife as represented and exhibited. She "conceived", he says, "and bare a son: then said Jehovah to him, Call his name Jezreel". Many render to "Jizre'el", dispersions and follow the Chaldean paraphraser. They also think that this ambiguous term contains some allusion; for as "zera'" is seed, they suppose that the Prophet indirectly glances at the vain boasting of the people; for they called themselves the chosen seed, because they had been planted by the Lord; hence the name Jezreel. But the Prophet here, according to these interpreters, exposes this folly to contempt; as though he said, "Ye are Israel; but in another respect, ye are dispersion: for as the seed is cast in various directions so the Lord will scatter you, and thus destroy and cast you away. You think yourselves to have been planted in this land, and to have a standing from which you can never be shaken or torn away; but the Lord will, with his own hand, lay hold on you to cast you away to the remotest regions of the world." This sense is what many interpreters give; nor do I deny but that the Prophet alludes to the words sowing and seed; with this I disagree not: only it seems to me that the Prophet looks farther, and intimates that they were wholly degenerate, not the true nor the genuine offspring of Abraham. There is, as we see, much affinity between the names Jezreel and Israel. How honourable is the name, Israel, it is evident from its etymology; and we also know that it was given from above to the holy father Jacob. God, then, the bestower of this name, procured by his own authority, that those called Israelites should be superior to others: and then we must remember the reason why Jacob was called Israel; for he had a contest with God, and overcame in the struggle, (Gen. 32: 28.) Hence the posterity of Abraham gloried that they were Israelites. And the prophet Isaiah also glances at this arrogance, when he says, 'Come ye who are called by the name of Israel,' (Isa. 48: 1;) as though he said, "Ye are Israelites, but only as to the title, for the reality exists not in you." Let us now return to our Hosea. "Call", he says "his name Jezreel;" as though he said, "They call themselves Israelites; but I will show, by a little change in the word, that they are degenerate and spurious, for they are Jezreelites rather than Israelites." And it appears that Jezreel wag the metropolis of the kingdom in the time of Ahab, and where also that great slaughter was made by Jehu, which is related in the tenth chapter of 2 Kings. We now perceive the meaning of the Prophet to be, that the whole kingdom had degenerated from its first beginning, and could no longer be deemed as including the race of Abraham; for the people had, by their own perfidy, fallen from that honour, and lost their first name. God then, by way of contempt, calls them Jezreelites, and not Israelites. A reason afterwards follows which confines this view, "For yet a little while, and I will visit the slaughters of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu". Here interpreters labour not a little, because it seems strange that God should visit the slaughter made by Jehu, which yet he had approved; nay, Jehu did nothing thoughtlessly, but knew that he was commanded to execute that vengeance. He was, therefore, God's legitimate minister; and why is what God commanded imputed to him now as a crime? This reasoning has driven some interpreters to take "bloods" here for wicked deeds in general: 'I will avenge the sins of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu.' Some say, "I will avenge the slaughter of Naboth:" but this is wholly absurd, nor can it suit the place, for, "upon the house of Jehu," is distinctly expressed; and God did not visit the slaughter on the house of Jehu, but on the house of Ahab. But they who are thus embarrassed do not consider what the Prophet has in view. For God, when he wished Jehu with his drawn sword to destroy the whole house of Ahab, had this end as his object, - that Jehu should restore pure worship, and cleanse the land from all defilements. Jehu then was stirred up by the Spirit of God, that he might re-establish God's pure worship. When a defender of religion, how did he act? He became contented with his prey. After having seized on the kingdom for himself, he confirmed idolatry and every abomination. He did not then spend his labour for God. Hence that slaughter with regard to Jehu was robbery; with regard to God it was a just revenge. this view ought to satisfy us as to the explanation of this passage; and I bring nothing but what the Holy Scripture contains. For after Jehu seemed to burn with zeal for God, he soon proved that there was nothing sincere in his heart; for he embraced all the superstitions which previously prevailed in the kingdom of Israel. In short, the reformation under Jehu was like that under Henry King of England; who, when he saw that he could not otherwise shake off the yoke of the Roman Antichrist than by some disguise, pretended great zeal for a time: he afterwards raged cruelly against all the godly, and doubled the tyranny of the Roman Pontiff: and such was Jehu. When we duly consider what was done by Henry, it was indeed an heroic velour to deliver his kingdom from the hardest of tyrannies: but yet, with regard to him, he was certainly worse than all the other vassals of the Roman Antichrist; for they who continue under that bondage, retain at least some kind of religion; but he was restrained by no shame from men, and proved himself wholly void of every fear towards God. He was a monster, and such was Jehu. Now, when the Prophet says, "I will avenge the slaughters of Jezreel" upon the house of Jehu, it is no matter of wonder. How so? For it was the highest honour to him, that God anointed him king, that he, who was of a low family, was chosen a king by the Lord. He ought then to have stretched every nerve to restore God's pure worship, and to destroy all superstitions. This he did not; on the contrary, he confirmed them. He was then a robber, and as to himself, no minister of God. The meaning of the whole then is this: "Ye are not Israelites, (there is here only an ambiguity as to the pronunciation of one letter,) but Jezreelites;" which means, "Ye are not the descendants of Jacob, but Jezreelites;" that is, "Ye are a degenerate people, and differ nothing from king Ahab. He was accursed, and under him the kingdom became accursed. Are ye changed? Is there any reformation? Since then ye are obstinate in your wickedness, though ye proudly claim the name of Jacob, ye are yet unworthy of such an honour. I therefore call you Jezreelites." And the reason is added, "For yet a little while, and I will visit the slaughters upon the house of Jehu". God now shows that the people were destitute of all glory. But they thought that the memory of all sins had been buried since the time that the house of Ahab had been cut off. "Why? I will avenge these slaughters," saith the Lord. It is customary, we know, with hypocrites, after having punished one sin, to think that all things are lawful to them, and to wish to be thus discharged before God. A thief will punish a murder, but he himself will commit many murders. He thinks himself redeemed, because he has paid God the price in punishing one man; but he lets go others, who have been his accomplices, and he himself hesitates not to commit many unjust murders. Since, then, hypocrites thus mock God, the Prophet now justly shakes off such senselessness, and says, "I will avenge these slaughters". "Do ye think it a deed worthy of praise in Jehu, to destroy and root out the house of Ahab? I indeed commanded it to be done but he turned the vengeance enjoined on him to another end." How so? Because he became a robber; for he did not punish the sins of Ahab, because he did the same himself to the end of life, and continued to do the same in his posterity, for Jeroboam was the fourth from him in the kingdom. "Since, then, Jehu did not change the condition of the country, and ye have ever been obstinate in your wickedness, I will avenge these slaughters." This is a remarkable passage; for it shows that it is not enough, nay, that it is of no moment, that a man should conduct himself honourably before men, except he possesses also an upright and sincere heart. He then who punishes evil deeds in others, ought himself to abstain from them, and to measure the same justice to himself as he does to others; for he who takes to himself a liberty to sin, and yet punishes others, provokes against himself the wrath of God. We now then perceive the true sense of this sentence, "I will avenge the slaughters of Jezreel", to be this, that he would avenge the slaughters made in the valley of Jezreel on the house of Jehu. It is added "and I will abolish the kingdom of the house of Israel". The house of Israel he calls that which had separated from the family of David, as though he said, "This is a separated house." God had indeed joined the whole people together, and they became one body. It was torn asunder under Jeroboam. This was God's dreadful judgement; for it was the same as if the people, like a torn body, had been cut into two parts. But God, however, had hitherto preserved these two parts, as though they were but one body, and would have become the Redeemer of both people, had not a base defection followed. And the Israelites having become, as it were, putrified, so as now to be no part of his chosen people, our Prophet, by way of contempt and reproach, rightly calls them the house of Israel. It now follows - Hosea 1:5 And it shall come to pass at that day, that I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel. This verse was intentionally added; for the Israelites were so inflated with their present good fortune, that they laughed at the judgement denounced. They indeed knew that they were well furnished with arms, and men, and money; in short, they thought themselves in every way unassailable. Hence the Prophet declares, that all this could not prevent God from punishing them. "Ye are," he says, "inflated with pride; ye set up your velour against God, thinking yourselves strong in arms and in power; and because ye are military men, ye think that God can do nothing; and yet your bows cannot restrain his hand from destroying you. But when he says, "I will break the bow", he mentions a part for the whole; for under one sort he comprehends every kind of arms. But as to what the Prophet had in view, we see that his only object was to break down their false confidence; for the Israelites thought that they should not be exposed to the destruction which Hosea had predicted; for they were dazzled with their own power, and thought themselves beyond the reach of any danger, while they were so well fortified on every side. Hence the Prophet says, that all their fortresses would be nothing against God; for "in that day", when the ripe time for vengeance shall come, the Lord will break all their bows, he will tear in pieces all their arms, and reduce to nothing their power. We are here warned ever to take heed, lest any thing should lead us to a torpid state when God threatens us. Though we may have strength, though fortune (so to speak) may smile on us, though, in a word, the whole world should combine to secure our safety, yet there is no reason why we should felicitate ourselves, when God declares himself opposed to and angry with us. Why so? Because, as he can preserve us when unarmed whenever he pleases, so he can spoil us of all our arms, and reduce our power to nothing. Let this verse then come to our minds whenever God terrifies us by his threatening; and what it teaches us is, that he can take away all the defences in which we vainly trust. Now, as Jezreel was the metropolis of the kingdom, the Prophet distinctly mentions the place, "I will break in pieces the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel"; that is, the Lord sees what sort of fortress there is in Samaria, in Jezreel; but he will make an end of you there, in the very midst of the land. Ye think that you have there a place of safety and a firm position; but the Lord will bring you to nothing even in the valley of Jezreel. It follows - Hosea 1:6 And she conceived again, and bare a daughter. And [God] said unto him, Call her name Loruhamah: for I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel; but I will utterly take them away. The Prophet shows in this verse that things were become worse and worse in the kingdom of Israel, that they sinned, keeping within no limits, that they rushed headlong into the extremes of impiety. He has already told us, by calling them Jezreelites, that they were from the beginning rejected and degenerate; as though he said, "Your origin has nothing commendable in it; ye think yourselves to be very eminent, because ye derive your descent from holy Jacob; but ye are spurious children, born of a harlot: a brothel is not the house of Abraham, nor is the house of Abraham a brothel. Ye are then the offspring of debauchery." But he now goes farther and says, that as time advanced, they had ever been falling into a worse state; for this word, Loruchamah, is a more disgraceful name than Jezreel: and the Lord also denounces here his vengeance more openly, when he says, "I will no more add to pursue with mercy the house of Israel". "Racham" means to pity, and also to love: but this second meaning is derived from the other; for "racham" is not simply to love, but to show gratuitous favour. By calling the daughter, then, Lo-ruchamah, God intimates that his favour was now taken away from the people. We know, indeed, that the people had been freely chosen; for if the cause of adoption be inquired for, it must be said to have been the mere mercy and goodness of God. Now then God, in repudiating the people, says, "Ye are like a daughter whom her father casts away and disowns, because he deems her unworthy of his favour." We now, then, comprehend the design of the Prophet; for, after having shown the Israelites to have been from the beginning spurious, and not the true children of Abraham, he now adds, that, in course of time, they had become so corrupt, that God would now utterly disown them, and would no longer deem them as his house. He, therefore, charges them with something more grievous than before, by saying, 'Call this daughter Lo-ruchamah;' for she was born after Jezreel. Here he describes by degrees the state of the people, that it continually degenerated. Though they were at the beginning depraved; but they were now, after the lapse of some time, utterly unworthy of God's favour. "I will no more add", he says, "to pursue with favour the house of Israel". God here shows what constant forbearance he had exercised towards this people. "I will no more add", he says; as though the Lord had said, "I do not now sally forth at the first heat of wrath to take vengeance on you, as passionate men are wont to do, who seize the sword as soon as any affront is given; I become not so suddenly hot with anger. I have, therefore, hitherto borne with you; but now your obstinacy is intolerable; I will not then bear with you any more." The Prophet, as we see, evidently intimates that the Israelites had very long abused the Lord's mercy, while he spared them, so that now the ripe time of vengeance had come; for the Lord had, for many years showed his favour to them, though they never ceased at any time to seek destruction to themselves. Hence we learn, as stated yesterday, that the Prophet's vehemence was not hasty: for God had before given warnings, more than sufficient, to the Israelites; he had also forgiven them many sins; he had borne with them until the state of things proved that they were altogether incurable. Since, then, the forbearance of God produced no effect on them, it was necessary to come to this last remedy, that the Lord should, as it were, with a drawn sword, appear as a judge to take vengeance. He afterwards says, "ki naso esa lahem". This sentence is variously explained. Some think that the verb is derived from the root "nasah", with a final "he"; which means "to forget", as though it was said "By forgetting, I will forget them;" and the sense is not unsuitable. The Chaldean paraphraser wholly departs from this meaning, for he renders the clause, "By sparing, I will spare them." There is no reason for this; for God, as the context clearly shows, does not yet promise pardon to them; this meaning, then, cannot stand. They come nearer to the design of the Prophet who thus translate, "I will bring to them," that is, the enemy; for "nasa" signifies to take, and also to bring into the middle. But I prefer embracing their opinion who consider that "lahem" is placed here for "otam"; for the servile letter "lamed", has often the same meaning with the particle "et", which is prefixed to an objective case. Then the rendering is, literally given, "For, by taking away, I will take them away:" and the Hebrews often use this mode of speaking, and the sense is plainer, "By taking away, I will take them away." Some render the passage, "I will burn them;" but this explanation is rather harsh. I am satisfied with the meaning, to take, but I understand it in the sense of taking away. Then it is, "By taking away, I will take them away." And this is what the following verse confirms; for when the Prophet speaks of the house of Judah, the Lord says, "With mercy will I follow the house of Judah, and will save them." The Prophet sets "to save" and "to take away" in opposition the one to the other. We may then learn by the context what he meant by these words, and that is, that Israel had hitherto stood through the Lord's mercy; as though he said, "How has it happened that ye continue as yet alive? Do you think yourselves to be safe through your own valour? Nay, my mercy has hitherto preserved you. Now, then, when I shall withdraw my favour from you, your ruin will be inevitable; you must necessarily perish, and be brought to nothing: for as I have hitherto preserved you, so I will utterly tear you away and destroy you." A profitable lesson may be farther gathered from this passage, and that is, that hypocrites deceive themselves when they boast of the present favour of God, and, at the same time, exult without any fear against him; for as God for a time spares and tolerates them, so he can justly destroy and reduce them to nothing. But the next verse must be also joined. Hosea 1:7 But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will save them by the LORD their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen. This verse sufficiently proves what I said yesterday, that the Prophet was specifically appointed to the kingdom of Israel; for he seems here to speak favourably of the Jews, who yet, we know, had been severely and deservedly reproved by their own teachers. For what does Isaiah say, after having spoken of the dreadful corruptions which then prevailed in the kingdom of Israel? 'Come,' he says, 'into the house of Judah, they at least continue as yet pure: there,' he says, 'all the tables are full of vomiting; they are drunken; there reigns also the contempt of God and all impiety,' (Isa. 28: 8.) We see then that the Jews were not a virtuous people, of whom the Prophet has spoken so honourably. For though the exterior worship of God continued at Jerusalem, and the temple, at least under Uzziah and Jotham, was free from every superstition, and also under king Hezekiah; yet the morals of the people, we know, were very corrupt. Avarice, and cruelty, and every kind of fraud, reigned there, and also filthy lusts. The conduct, then, of that people was nothing better than that of the Israelites. Why, then, does the Prophet dignify them with so great an honour as to exempt them from God's vengeance? Because he had an eye to the people to whom he was appointed a Prophet. He therefore institutes a comparison. He interferes not with the Jews, for he knew that they had faithful pastors who reproved their sins; but he continued among his own hearers. But this comparison served, in an especial manner, to touch the hearts of the people of Israel; for the Prophet, we know, made this reference particularly for this end, to condemn fictitious worship. He now sets the worship at Jerusalem in opposition to all those superstitions which Jeroboam first introduced, which Ahab increased, and all their posterity followed. Hence he says, "I will show favour" to the house of Judas. That we may better understand the mind of the Prophet, it may be well to repeat what we said yesterday: - The kingdom of Judah was then miserably wasted. The kingdom of Israel had ten tribes, the kingdom of Judah only one and a half, and it was also diminished by many slaughters; yea, the Israelites had spoiled the temple of the Lord, and had taken all the gold and silver they found there. The Jews, then, had been reduced to a very low state, they hardly dared to mutter; but the Israelites, as our Prophet will hereafter tell us, were like beasts well fed. Since, then, they despised the Jews, who seemed despicable in the eyes of the world, the Prophet beats down this vain confidence, and says, "With mercy will I follow the house of Judah". "The house of Judah seems now to be almost nothing, for they are few in number, nor are they very strong, and wealth abounds not among them as among you; but with them shall dwell my favour, and I will take it away from you." It after arts follows, "And I will save them by Jehovah their God". Salvation is here set in opposition to the destruction which the Prophet mentioned in the last verse. But Hosea shows that salvation depends not in the least either on arms or on any of the intervenients, as they say, of this world; but has its foundation only on God's favour. "I will save them", he says - why? "because my favour will I show them". This connection ought to be carefully noticed. Where the Lord's favour is, there is life. 'Thou art our God, then we shall never perish,' as it is written in the first chapter of Habakkuk. Hence the Prophet here connects salvation with God's gratuitous favour; for we cannot continue safe, but as long as God is propitious to us. He has, on the other hand, declared that it would be all over with the Israelites as soon as God would take away from them his favour. But he says, "By Jehovah their God". An antithesis is to be understood here between the false gods and Jehovah, who was the God of the house of Judah. It is the same as though the Prophet said, "Ye indeed profess the name of God, but ye worship the devil and not God: for ye have nothing to do with Jehovah, with the God who is the creator and maker of heaven and earth; for he dwells in his own temple; he pledged his faith to David, when he commanded him to build a temple for him on mount Zion; he dwells there between the cherubim, as the Prophets invariably declare: but the true God is become exiled from you." We hence see how he condemns here all the worship which the Israelites then so highly valued. Why did he do so? Because it was not acceptable to God. And this passage deserves to be noticed, for we see how stupid men are in this respect. When once they are persuaded that they worship God, they are seized by some fascination of Satan so as to become delighted with all their own dotages, as we see to be the case at this day with the Papists, who are not only insane, but doubly frantic. If any one reproves them and says, that they worship not the true God, they are instantly on fire - "What! does not God accept our worship?" But the Prophet here shows by one word that Jehovah is not in any place, except where he is rightly worshipped according to the rule of his word. I will save them, he says - How? "By Jehovah their God"; and God himself speaks: He might have said, "I will save them by myself;" but it was not without reason that he used this circuitous mode of speaking; it was to show the Israelites that they had no reason to think that God would be propitious to them. How so? Because God had chosen an habitation for himself on mount Zion and in Jerusalem. A fuller declaration afterwards follows, "I will save them neither by the bow, nor by the sword, nor by war, nor by horses, nor by horsemen". But this clause, by God's favour, I will explain tomorrow. Prayer. Grant, Almighty God, that as we were from our beginning lost, when thou wert pleased to extend to us thy hand, and to restore us to salvation for the sake of thy Son; and that as we continue even daily to run headlong to our own ruin, - O grant that we may not, by sinning so often, so provoke at length thy displeasure as to cause thee to take away from us the mercy which thou hast hitherto exercised towards us, and through which thou hast adopted us: but by thy Spirit destroy the wickedness of our heart, and restore us to a sound mind, that we may ever cleave to thee with a true and sincere heart, that being fortified by thy defence, we may continue safe even amidst all kinds of danger, until at length thou gatherest us into that blessed rest, which has been prepared for us in heaven by our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. Calvin on Hosea (continued in part 3...) --------------------------------------------------- file: pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-04: cvhos-02.txt .