(Calvin on Hosea, part 15) Lecture Fifteenth. Hosea 5:10 The princes of Judah were like them that remove the bound: [therefore] I will pour out my wrath upon them like water. Here the Prophet transfers the blame of all the evils which then reigned in the tribe of Judah to their princes. He says, that the people had fallen away and departed from God through their fault, and he uses a most fit similitude. We know that there is nothing certain in the possessions of men, except the boundaries of fields be fixed; for no one can otherwise keep his own. But by the metaphor of boundaries in fields, the Prophet refers to the whole political order. The meaning is, that all things were now in a state of disorder and confusion among the Jews; because their leaders who ought to have ruled the people and kept them in obedience, had destroyed the whole order of things. We now then understand what the Prophet had really in view. But it must be observed that the tribe of Judah had been hitherto kept separate, as it were by limits, as God's heritage; for Israel had become alienated. The possession of God had been diminished by the defection of Jeroboam; and he retained only one tribe and a half in his service. The Prophet says now, that the Jews had mixed with the Israelites, and had thus become themselves alienated from the Lord; for the princes themselves had taken away the boundaries, that is, they had, through indolence and other vices, destroyed all reverence for God, all care for religion, and also every concern for what was just and right: he therefore severely threatens them, "I will pour out", he says, "my wrath upon them like waters". By this metaphor, he means that God would deal much more severely with them than with the common people: "I," he says, "will with full force pour forth upon them my fury, as if it were the deluge of antiquity." The meaning is, "I will overwhelm them in my vengeance, because they have done more evil by their bad examples, than if they had been private individuals." We hence see that the corruption of the people is imputed to the princes, and therefore God's more dreadful vengeance is denounced on them. But we must bear in mind what I have before said, that the Prophet gives here metaphorically the name of boundaries to the lawful worship of God, and to whatever he had enjoined on the people, that they might be his certain possession, as fields among men are usually separated by bounds that every one may keep his own. It follows. - Hosea 5:11 Ephraim is oppressed [and] broken in judgment, because he willingly walked after the commandment. Here again the Prophet shows that the vengeance of God would be just against Israel, because they willingly followed the impious edicts of their king. The people might indeed have appeared to be excusable, since religion had not been changed by their voice, or by public consent, or by any contrivance of the many, but by the tyrannical will of the king alone: Jeroboam was not induced by superstition, but by subtile wickedness, to erect altars elsewhere, and not at Jerusalem. The people then might have appeared to be without blame; for the king alone devised this artifices to secure himself from danger. But the Prophet shows that all were implicated in the same guilt before God, because the people adopted with alacrity the impious forms of worship which the king had commanded. He therefore says, that "Ephraim is exposed to plunder, that he is broken by judgment", (or, "shall be broken," for the words may be rendered in the future tense.) That the people then were thus torn, and were also to bear in future far more grievous things, was not, as he says, because they had to suffer all these things undeservedly, for they were not innocent. - How so? Because they willingly followed the commands of their king; for the king did not force them to forsake the doctrine of the law, but every one went voluntarily after impious superstitions. Since then they willingly obeyed their king, they could not now excuse themselves, they could not object that this was done by one man, and that they were not admitted to consult with him. Their promptitude proved them to be perfidious. Some render "ho'il" to begin," and "ya'al" is often taken in this sense: but as it oftener signifies, "to be willing," the Prophet no doubt means here, that the Israelites had not been compelled by force and fear to go astray after superstitions; but that they were prompt and ready to obey, for there was in them no fear of God, no religion. If any one should now ask, whether they are excusable, who are tyrannically drawn away into superstitions, as we see to be done under the Papacy, the answer is ready, that those are not here absolved who regarded men more than God: nor is terror, as we know, a sufficient excuse, when we prefer our own life to the glory of God, and when, anxious to provide for ourselves and to avoid the cross, we deny God, or turn aside from making a confession of the right and pure faith: but the fault is rendered double, when men easily comply with any thing commanded by tyrants; for they show, that they were already fully inclined to despise God and to deny true religion. Hence the impiety of Jeroboam discovered the common ungodliness and wickedness of the whole people; for as soon as he raised his finger and bid them to worship God corruptly, all joyfully followed the impious edict. There was an occasion then offered to them; but the evil dwelt before in their hearts; for they were not so inclined and prompt to obey God. We now then see what the Prophet had in view. He says that God would justly punish all the Israelites, yea, even all the common people; for though Jeroboam alone had commanded them to worship God corruptly, yet all of them willingly embraced what he wished to be done: and thus it became manifest that they had in them no fear of God. We now see how vain is the excuse of those who say that they ought to obey kings, and at the same time forsake the word of God: for what does the Prophet reprove here, but that the Israelites had been too submissive to their king? "But this in itself was worthy of praise." True, when the king commanded nothing contrary to God's word; but when he perverted God's worship, when he set up corrupt superstitions, then the people ought to have firmly resisted him: but as they were too pliant, nay, willingly allowed themselves to be drawn away from the true worship of God, the Prophet says here, that they had no reason to complain, that they were too sharply and too severely chastised by the Lord. It follows - Hosea 5:12 Therefore [will] I be unto Ephraim as a moth, and to the house of Judah as rottenness. God now denounces punishment in common on the two kingdoms; but he speaks not as before, he says not that his fury would be like a deluge, to overwhelm and drown the people. What then? He compares himself to little worms which gnaw wood and consume cloths; or he compares himself to rottenness; for, as we have said, the second word is to be so taken, as "rakav" is properly rottenness, and is derived from "rakav", to rot;" it is then rottenness or putrescence. But as I have said, some would render it, "a grub;" and there is a probable reason for this, because he first mentioned moth; and these two, moth and grub, would be more suitable to each other, than moth and rottenness. However, the meaning of the Prophet is by no means obscure, and that is, that the Lord would by a slow corrosion consume both the people; that though he would not by one onset destroy them, yet they would pine away until they became wholly rotten. This is the meaning. But we must observe why the Prophet used this metaphor. It was, that the Israelites and the Jews might understand, that though the Lord would in some measure withhold his hand from resting heavily upon them, and that though he would spare them, yet they would not be safe, because they would by little and little feel a slow decay, that would consume them. And the Lord meant in this way to turn the people to repentance; but he effected nothing: for such was their hardness, that they felt not this slow decay; as those who are stupid are not moved, except they feel a most grievous pain; they think that they are doing well, and they struggle against their own disease: many such we see. Hence the Prophet here reminds them, that though the Lord should not openly fulminate against the Israelites and the Jews, they yet in vain flattered themselves, because the Lord would be to them a moth and a worm; that is, that however gradually he might consume them, they would yet be greatly deceived, if they did not perceive that they had to do with him. The chief instruction is, that God does not always punish men in the same way; for he deals with them differently, either to promote their salvation, or to render them in this way more inexcusable. Hence God sometimes pours forth his severity, and at another time he slowly chastises us. But whatever may be the way, we are reminded that we ought not to sleep, whenever the Lord awakens us; nor should we wait until he appears as a lion or a bear, until he devours us, until he rages against us in dreadful fury. We are then reminded that there is no reason why we should wait for this; but that when God consumes us by degrees, it ought instantly to occur to us, that though the moth and the worm are but very small insects, hardly seen by the eyes, yet a hard and firm tree is consumed by these little worms, or by its own cariousness; and that cloths are consumed with putridity, when once the moth enters into them; we see valuable furniture perishing. Since it is so, there is no reason for men to be secure when God shows any sign of his wrath, though he pours not forth his horrible vengeance, but is as a hidden putrefaction. We now perceive what Hosea means in this verse. It now follows - Hosea 5:13 When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah [saw] his wound, then went Ephraim to the Assyrian, and sent to king Jareb: yet could he not heal you, nor cure you of your wound. Here the Lord complains that he had in vain chastised the Israelites by the usual means, for they thought that they had remedies ready for themselves, and turned their minds to vain hopes. This is usually done by most men; for when the Lord deals mildly with us, we perceive not his hand, but think that what evils happen to us come by chance. Then, as if we had nothing to do with God, we seek remedies, and turn our minds and thoughts to other quarters. This then is what God now reproves in the Jews and the Israelites: "Ephraim", he says, "saw his disease, and Judah his wound". What then did he do? "Ephraim went to Assyria", he says, "and sent to king Jareb", that is, "They returned not to me, but thought that they had remedies in their own hand; and thus vain became the labour which I have taken to correct them." This is the meaning. He says that Ephraim had seen his disease, and Judah his wound: but it is not right so to take this, as if they well considered the causes of these; for the ungodly are blind to the causes of evils, and only attend to their present grief. They are like intemperate men, who, when disease seizes them, feel heat, feel pain in the head, and other symptoms, at the same time there is no concern for the disease, neither do they inquire how they procured these pains for themselves, that they might seek fit remedies. So "Ephraim knew his disease", but at the same time overlooked the cause of his disease, and was only affected by his present pain. So also "Judah knew his wound"; but he understood not that he was struck and wounded by the hand of God; but was only affected with his pain, like brute beasts who feel the stroke and sigh, while they have, in the meantime, neither reason nor judgment to understand whence, or for what cause the evil has come to them. In a word, the Prophet here condemns this brutish stupidity in both people; for they did not so far profit under God's rod as to return to him, but, on the contrary, they sought other remedies; because stupor had taken such hold on their minds, that they did not consider that they were chastised by God, and that this was done for just reasons. As then no such thing came to their mind, but they only felt themselves ill and grieved as brutes do, they went to the Assyrian, and sent to king Jareb. The Prophet seems here to inveigh only against the ten tribes; but though he expressly speaks of the kingdom of Israel, there is no doubt but that he accused also the Jews in common with them. Why then does he name only Ephraim? Even because the beginning of this evil commenced in the kingdom of Israel: for they were the first who went to the king of Assur, that they might, by his help, resist their neighbors, the Syrians: the Jews afterwards followed their example. Since then the Israelites afforded a precedent to the Jews to send for aids of this kind, the Prophet expressly confines his discourse to them. But there is no doubt, as I have already said, but that the accusation was common. We now perceive what the Prophet meant: "Ephraim", he says, "saw his disease, and Judah his wound"; that is, "Though I have, like a moth and a worm, consumed the kingdom of Israel as well as the kingdom of Judah, and they have felt themselves to be, as it were, decaying, and though their disease ought to have led them to repentance, they have yet turned their thoughts elsewhere; they have even supposed that they could be made whole by seeking a remedy either from the Assyrians or some others: thus it happened that they hastened to Assyria, and sought help from king Jareb." We then see, in short, that the stupidity and hardness of the people are here reproved, because they were not turned by these evils to repentance. Some think Jareb to have been a city in Assyria; but there is no ground for this conjecture. Others suppose that Jareb was a neighboring king to the Assyrian, and was sent to when the Assyrian, from a friend and a confederate, became an enemy, and invaded the kingdom of Israel; but this conjecture also has no solid grounds. It may have been the proper name of a man, and I prefer so to take it. For it seemed not necessary for the Prophet to speak here of many auxiliaries; but after the manner of the Hebrews, he repeats the same thing twice. Some render it, "to revenge;" because they sent for that king, even the Assyrian, as a revenger. But this exposition also is forced. More simple appears to me what I have already said, that they sent for the Assyrian, that is, for king Jareb. Then it follows, "Yet could he not heal you, nor will he cure you of your wound". Here God declares that whatever the Israelites might seek would be in vain. "Ye think," he says, "that you can escape my hand by these remedies; but your folly will at length betray itself, for he will avail you nothing; that is, king Jareb will not heal you." In this clause the Prophet shows, that unless we immediately return to God, when he warns us by his scourges, it will be in vain for us to look here and there for remedies: for in this world many allurements come in our way; but when we hope for any relief, the Lord will at length show that we have been deluded. There is, then, but one remedy, - to go directly to God; and this is what the Prophet means, and this is the application of the present doctrine. He had said before that Ephraim had felt his disease and Judah his wounds; that is, "I have led them thus far, that they have acknowledged themselves to be ill; but they have not gone on as they ought to have done, so as to return to me: on the contrary, they have turned aside to king Jareb and to other delusions." Then it follows, "But these remedies have turned ant rather for harm to you; they certainly have not profited you." A confirmation of this sentence follows - Hosea 5:14 For I [will be] unto Ephraim as a lion, and as a young lion to the house of Judah: I, [even] I, will tear and go away; I will take away, and none shall rescue [him]. As I have said, the Prophet confirms this truth, that Israel had recourse in vain to false physicians, when they left God. How so? Because the whole world, were it to favor us, could not yet help us, against the will of God and his opposing power. But God here declares that he would be adverse to the Israelites; as though he said, "Provide human aids as much as you please; but will the Assyrian be superior to me in power? Can he hinder me from pursuing you as I have determined?" Thus God shows that he would deal in a new and different manner with the Israelites and the Jews: "I will not," he says, "be any longer like a moth and a worm; I shall come like a lion to you, with an open mouth to devour you: now let the Assyrian king come forth, when I shall thus go armed against you; can he put any hindrance in my way, that I should not execute my vengeance, as it shall seem good to me?" We now then perceive the design of the Prophet. He had said, that God would punish the Israelites and the Jews, by consuming them by degrees, that there might be more time for repentance: but he says that this would be useless, for they would not think that it was done seriously. They would therefore deceive themselves with vain fallacies. What would then at last remain? Even this, "I will," he says, "put on a new form and go to battle: I will be to you as a lion and a young lion; I will rage against you as a fierce wild beast: your grievance shall not now be from moths and worms; but you shall have an open and dreadful contest with the lion and the young lion. What then will the Assyrian king avail you?" And this place teaches, that men, when they attempt to oppose vain helps to the wrath of God, gain only this, that they more and more provoke and inflame his wrath against themselves. After God has first gnawed, he will at length devour; after he has pricked, he will deeply wound; after he has struck, he will wholly destroy. All this we bring on ourselves by our perverse attempts, when we try to seek escapes for ourselves. Except, then, we would willingly kindle God's displeasure, that he may appear as a lion and rage against us with the whole force of his wrath, let us take heed, that we deceive not ourselves by vain reliefs. He therefore says, "I, I will take away", or, "tear," or, "tear in pieces;" for "taraf" properly means this, and it agrees better with the rest of the context. "I will then, as lions and young lions are wont to do, tear in pieces, limb from limb, the whole people." Then he says, I will "go away" as a lion, who, after he has enjoyed his prey, departs a conqueror with more courage being not put to flight, for he is moved by no fear. So also the Prophet says, "Let the Assyrian king come, he will not constrain me to retreat, nor will he rescue the spoil from me: and when I shall be satiated with your destruction, I shall not then have any fear on account of the Assyrian king, that I should stealthily flee away, as foxes are wont to do; I will not craftily contend; but I will go forth openly, my violence will be sufficient to put him to flight: I will thus depart of my own accord; for your subsidies will occasion me no fear. I will tabs away, he says, and none shall rescue." We now comprehend the whole meaning of the Prophet. Hosea 5:15 I will go [and] return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early. The word "shachar" signifies the morning: hence the verb means, "to seek early," or, "to rise early," as men do when they apply themselves diligently to anything: but in many places of Scripture it is taken simply in the sense of seeking; and this simple meaning seems most suitable to this place, "They will seek me in their tribulation". God here declares, that after having been dreadfully fierce against both the kingdoms of Judah and Israel, he would for a time rest quietly and wait from heaven what they would do. He then adds, "They will at length return to a sane mind: when they shall perceive the finishing part, they will then, having lost their perverseness, acknowledge their sins and be truly humbled." This is the meaning. The mode of speaking seems apparently strange, when God says, that he will go away; for he neither so hides himself in heaven, that he neglects human affairs, nor withdraws his hand, but that he sustains the world by the continued exercise of his power, nor even takes away his Spirit from men, especially when he would lead them to repentance; for men never of their own accord turn themselves to God, but by his hidden influence. What then does he mean by this, "I will go and return to my place?" Why, indeed, he speaks here of the external state of the people: then the meaning is, "After the two kingdoms shall be cut off, I will then for a time hide my face from both the people; and they will think that I care not for their salvation; they will think that they are far removed from me." We hence see that the Prophet here only refers to what would be the external condition of the people; and then we also see, that these forms of speech are accommodated to the perceptions of men. So God also himself speaks in Isaiah 18, though for a different purpose; yet the Prophet expresses there in reality the same thing; 'I will rest,' he says, 'and I will wait in my tabernacle.' What was that rest of God, and what was his tabernacle? Why, when God exercised his judgments, we are then constrained to feel his presence, and when he kindly favors us and exhibits the kindness of a Father, he then really shows himself propitious to us: but when he neither visits us for our sins, nor gives us tokens of his favor, he seems to withdraw himself from us, and to show no regard for our life. We now then understand that the Prophet speaks of the time of exile; as though he said, "After God shall execute against you his extreme judgment, and ye shall be liken away into exile, God will then forsake you, as if he in no way regarded you, but were unmindful of you; for he will leave you there to rest, even in Chaldea and Assyria; and then he will not send forth any light of salvation. God therefore will be as it were idle in heaven." This is one thing. But the Prophet shows at the same time the final issue, that is, that they will afterwards return to the Lord; and that this is also the purpose of God he affirms, "Till they acknowledge", he says, "that they have sinned". For it is the beginning of healing, when men consider the cause of their disease. He had said before that Israel saw his disease, but not in a right way; for the origin of the disease was hid from him, and continued as yet hid. But now the Prophet distinctly shows that it is to seek God, when people acknowledge and confess their sins. This word continually occurs in Scripture when sacrifices are spoken of. Hence men are said then to sin, when they go forth before God, making a true confession, when they acknowledge their guilt and pray for pardon. So also in this place he says, "Until they confess that they have sinned I will for a time hide myself." And he adds, "They will seek my face". This is the second thing in attaining salvation - to seek the face of God: for we are reconciled to God, we know, by repentance and faith; not that repentance procures pardon for us, but because it is necessarily required; it is a cause, as they say, which is indispensable. The first step then towards healing, as we have already said, is to be touched with grief, when we perceive that we have provoked the wrath of God, and when thus our sins displease us. But he who is thus become in himself a sinner, that is, who begins to be his own judge, ought afterwards to add this second thing - to seek the face of God, that is, to present himself a suppliant before God, and to ask for pardon; and this arises from faith. It is then to repentance that the word "'asham" belongs, which is to "acknowledge sin:" and to "seek the face of God," properly belongs to faith. Now let us see what is the application of this doctrine as to both people. When the Israelites and the Jews lived in exile, it was of great benefit for them to have this testified, that God was hiding his face for a time, that he might afford them time to repent; this is one thing. Now when men considerately attend to this, that they are to seek God, that they may repent, they are encouraged; and this is the sharpest goad to rouse men, that they may no longer be torpid in their vices: and this is what the Prophet meant. When the Lord shall banish into exile both the Jews and the Israelites, let them not think that though for a time he will seem to cast them away they are wholly deserted; for as yet a convenient time for repentance will be given them. He afterwards describes the way of reconciliations that is, that they shall acknowledge that they have sinned, and then that they shall seek the face of God. And at the same time he makes known the fruit of affliction, and says, "Where affliction shall be to them, then they will seek me". The Prophet here shows, that exile, though very bitter to Israel, would yet be useful; as when a physician gives a bitter draughts or is compelled to use strong medicine to cure an inveterate disease; so the Prophet shows that this punishment would be useful to the people, and even pleasant, however bitter it might be for a time. How so? For they will return to the Lord; and he says distinctly, "They will seek me". He includes in this expression both faith and repentance; for he separates not the two clauses as before, but shows generally that the end of affliction would be, that the people would turn themselves to God. With respect to the expression, "to seek early," I have said already that I do not approve of that meaning; for neither the Israelites nor the Jews, sought God early, but were with difficulty at lasts after a long period, and a long series of seventy years, led to repentance. What sort of seeking early was this? I do not then approve of rendering the word, 'They shall seek me early;' but, as I have said the simple idea of "seeking" is more suitable. Prayer. Grant, Almighty God, that as we continue to kindle often thy wrath against us by our innumerable sins, - O grant, that when thou warnest and wouldest restore us to the right way, we may at least be pliant, and without delay attend to the scourges of thy hand, and not wait for extreme severity, but timely repent; and that we may truly and from the heart seek thee, let us not put on false repentance, but strive to devote ourselves wholly to thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Calvin on Hosea (continued in part 16...) --------------------------------------------------- file: pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-04: cvhos-15.txt .