(Calvin on Hosea, part 28) Lecture Twenty-eighth. Hosea 10:10 [It is] in my desire that I should chastise them; and the people shall be gathered against them, when they shall bind themselves in their two furrows. When God says that he desires to chastise the people, he intimates that this was his purpose, as when one greatly wishes for anything; and it may be an allowable change in the sentence, if the copulative was omitted, and it be rendered thus, - It is in my desire to chastise them. But to depart from the words seems not to me necessary; I therefore take them apart as they stand, in this sense, - that God would follow his desire in chastising the people. The sentence seems indeed to be repugnant to many others, in which God declares his sorrow, when constrained to deal severely with his people, but the two statements are not discordant. Passions, we know, belong not to God; but in condescension to men's capacities, he puts on this or that character. When he seems unwilling to indict punishment, he shows with how much love he regards his own people, or with what kind and tender affection he loves them. But yet, as he has to do with perverse and irreclaimable men, he says that he will take pleasure in their destruction; and for this reason also, it is said that God will take revenge. We now then understand the meaning of the Prophet: he intimates, that the purpose which God had formed of destroying the people of Israel could not now be revoked; for this punishment was to him his highest delight. He further says, "I will chastise them, and assembled shall peoples be against them". By these words God shows that all people are in his hand, that he can arm them whenever he pleases; and this truth is everywhere taught in the Scriptures. God then so holds all people under his command, that by a hiss or a nod he can, whenever it pleases him, stir them up to war. Hence, as heedless Israel laughed at God's judgement, he now shows how effectual will be his revenge, for he will assemble all people for their destruction. And for the same purpose he adds, "When they shall have bound themselves in two furrows". By this clause the Prophet warns the Israelites, that nothing would avail them, though they fortified themselves against every danger, and though they gathered strength on every side; for all their efforts would not prevent God from executing his vengeance. When therefore they shall be bound in their two furrows, I will not on that account give over to assemble the people who shall dissipate all their fortresses. We now apprehend the design of the Prophet. He no doubt mentions two furrows, with reference to sloughing; for we shall see that the Prophet dwells on this metaphor. However much then the Israelites might join together and gather strength, it would yet be easy for God to gather people to destroy them. Some refer this sentence to the whole body of the people; for they think that the compact between the kingdom of Judah and Israel is here pointed out: but this is a mere conjecture, for history gives it no countenance. Others have found out another comment, that the Lord would punish them all together, since Judah had joined the people of Israel in worshipping the calves: so they think that the common superstition was the bond of alliance between the two kingdoms. There are others who think that the Prophet alludes to the two calves, one of which, as it is well known, was worshipped in Dan, and the other at Bethel. But all these interpretations are too refined and strained. The Prophet, I doubt not, does here simply mention the two furrows, because the people, (as godless men are wont to do,) relying on their own power, boldly and proudly despised all threatening. "Howsoever," he says, "they may join themselves together in two furrows, they shall yet effect nothing by their pride to prevent me from executing my vengeance." Let us proceed - Hosea 10:11 And Ephraim [is as] an heifer [that is] taught, [and] loveth to tread out [the corn]; but I passed over upon her fair neck: I will make Ephraim to ride; Judah shall plow, [and] Jacob shall break his clods. Some read the two words, "taught," and "loveth," separately, "melumadah" and "'ohavti"; for they think that at the beginning of the verse a reproach is conveyed, as though the Prophet had said, that Ephraim was wholly unteachable: though God had from childhood brought him up under his discipline, he yet now showed so great stubbornness, that he even ceased not to rebel against God, and went on obstinately in his own wickedness. "Ephraim then is like a trained heifer." But this meaning seems too far fetched: I therefore connect the whole together in one context, and follow what has been more approved, Ephraim is a heifer trained to love, or, that she may love, threshing; that is, Ephraim has been accustomed to love threshing. There is here an implied comparison between ploughing and threshing. There is more labour and toil, we know, in ploughing than in threshing; for the oxen are coupled together, and then they are compelled to obey, and in vain do they draw here and there, when they are joined together. But when oxen thresh, they are loose, and the labour is less toilsome and heavy. The Prophet then means this, - that Ephraim pretended some obedience, and yet would not take the yoke, so as to be really and in everything submissive to God. Other nations did not understand what it was to obey God; but there was some appearance of religion in Israel; they indeed professed to worship the God of Israel, they had temples among them; but the Lord derides this hypocrisy, and says, - Ephraim is like a heifer, which will not submit her neck to the yoke, but will only, for recreation's sake, pass through the threshing-floor and tread the corn, as hypocrites are wont to do; for they do not wholly repudiate every truth, but in part receive it; yet, when the Lord presses on them too much, they then fiercely resist, and show that they wish to do according to their own will. Almost the whole world exhibit, indeed, some appearance of obedience, I know not what; but they wish to make a compact with God, that he should not require more then what their pleasure may allow. When one is a slave to many vices, he desires a liberty for these to be allowed him; in other things, he will yield some obedience. We now understand the meaning of the Prophet, and see what he had in view. He then derides the hypocritical service which the Israelites rendered to God; for they were at the same time unwilling to bear the yoke, and were untameable. To the threshing they were not unwilling to come; for when God commanded anything that was easy, they either willingly performed it, or at least discharged their duty somehow in that particular; but they would not accustom themselves to slough. Since it was so, "I have passed over", he says, "upon her beautiful neck". God shows why he treated Ephraim with severity; for he was made to submit, because he was so obstinate. 'I have passed over upon the goodness of her neck;' that is, "When I saw that she had a fat neck, and that she refused the yoke, I tried, by afflictions, whether such stubbornness could be subdued." Some refer this to the teaching of the law, and say, that God had passed over upon the beautiful neck of Israel, because he had delivered his law in common to all the posterity of Abraham. But this is foreign to the context. I therefore doubt not but that the mind of the Prophet was this, - that God here declares, that it was not without reason that he had been so severe in endeavouring to tame Israel, for he saw that he could not be otherwise brought to obedience. "Since, then, Ephraim only loved the treading, I wished to correct this delusion, and ought not to have spared him. If he had been a wearied ox, or an old one broken down and emaciated, and of no strength, some consideration for him ought to have been had: but as Israel had a thick and fat neck, as he was strong enough to bear the yoke, and as he yet loved his own pleasures and refused the yoke, it was needful that he should be tamed by afflictions. I have therefore passed over upon the goodness, or the beauty, of the neck of Ephraim." But as God effected nothing in mildly chastising Israel, he now subjoins, - "I will make him to ride". Some render it, "I will ride:" but as the verb is in Hiphel, (the causative mood,) it is necessary to explain it thus, that God will make Israel to ride. But what does this mean? They who render it, "I will ride," saw that they departed from what grammar requires; but necessity forced them to this strained interpretation. Others will have "al", one to be understood, "I will make to ride on Ephraim," and they put in another word, "I will make the nations to ride on Ephraim." But the sentence will accord best with the context, if we make no change in the words of the Prophet. Nay, they who adduce the comments I have mentioned, destroy the elegance of the expression and pervert the meaning. Thus, then, does God speak, - "Since Ephraim loves treading, and the moderate punishments by which I meant to subdue him avail nothing, I will hereafter deal with him in another way: I will make him," he says, "to ride:" that is, "I will take him away, as it were, through the clouds." The Prophet alludes to the lasciviousness and intemperance of Israel; for lust had so carried away that people, that they could not walk straight, or with a steady step, but staggered here and there; as also Jeremiah says, that they were unnameable bullocks, (Jer. 31: 18.) What does God declare? 'I will make them to ride;' that is, I will deal with this people according to their disposition. There is a similar passage in Job, chap. 30; where the holy man complains that he was forcibly snatched away, that God made him to ride on the clouds. 'God,' he says, 'made me to ride,' (he uses there the same word.) What does it mean? Even that the Lord had forcibly carried him here and there. So also the Prophet says here, - "Israel is delicate, and, at the same time, I see so much voluptuousness in his nature, that he cannot take the yoke; nothing then remains for him but to ride on the clouds. But what sort of riding will this be? Such as that, when the people shall be carried away into exile; since they cannot rest quietly in the land of Canaan, since they cannot enjoy the blessings of God, they shall ride, that is, they shall quickly be taken away into a far country." We now then see how God dealt with Israel, when he saw what his disposition required; for he could not be constrained to obedience in his own land; it was then necessary to remove him elsewhere, as it was done. He afterwards subjoins, "Judah shall plough, Jacob shall harrow for himself"; that is, the remaining portion of the people shall remain in their afflictions. These punishments were indeed grievous, when considered in themselves; but it was far easier and more tolerable for Judah to plough and to harrow among his people, than if he had to ride. Judah then suffered grievous losses, and the Lord chastised him also with afflictions; but this punishment, as I have said, was much less than the other. It was the same as when an ox, drawn out of the stall, is led into the field, and is forced to endure his daily labour; his toil is indeed heavy and grievous; but the ox at least lives after his work, and refreshes himself by his rest during the night. He also undergoes some toil by harrowing, and grows weary; but he returns to the stall; and then his master is not so cruel, but that he grants his ox some indulgence. We hence see the purport of this comparison, that Judah shall plough, and that Jacob, that is, the remaining part of the people, shall harrow; which means, that the rest of the people shall break the clods, - for to harrow among the Latins is to break the clods - but that the Lord will make Ephraim to ride. This, I doubt not, is the genuine sense of the passage; but I leave to others their own free judgement. It now follows - Hosea 10:12 Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for [it is] time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you. He exhorts here the Israelites to repentance; though it seems not a simple and bare exhortation, but rather a protestation; as though the Lord had said, that he had hitherto laboured in vain as to the people of Israel, because they had ever continued obstinate. For it immediately follows - Hosea 10:13 Ye have plowed wickedness, ye have reaped iniquity; ye have eaten the fruit of lies: because thou didst trust in thy way, in the multitude of thy mighty men. The reason is here found, why I thought that the Prophet did not simply exhort the people, but rather charged them with obduracy for not growing better, though often admonished. He then relates how much God had previously done to restore the people to a sound mind; for it had been his constant teaching, "Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap, in proportion, kindness", or according to the proportion of kindness; "plough a ploughing for yourselves; it is the time to seek the Lord". Though then the people heard these words daily, and had their ears almost stunned by them, they did not yet change for the better, nor made themselves pliable; nay, as it were with a fixed purpose, they ploughed, he says, ungodliness, they reaped iniquity; they therefore did eat the fruit of falsehood, for they sustained just punishments, or satiated themselves with falsehood and treachery. We now apprehend the meaning of the Prophet: I will come to particulars. "Sow for yourselves righteousness". He shows that the salvation of this people had not been neglected by God; for he had tried whether they were healable. The remedy was, that the people were to know that God would be pacified towards them, if they devoted themselves to righteousness. The Lord offered his favour: "Return only to me; for as soon as the seed of righteousness shall be sown by you, the harvest shall be prepared, a reward shall be laid up for you; ye shall then reap fruit according to your kindness." But if any one asks, whether it be in the power of men to sow righteousness, the answer is ready, and that is that the Prophet explains not here how far the ability of men extends, but requires what they ought to do. For whence is it that so many of God's curses often overwhelm us, except that we sow seed similar to the produce? that is, God repays us what we have deserved. This then is what the Prophet shows, when he says, "Sow for yourselves righteousness:" he shows that it was their fault, if the Lord did not cherish them kindly and bountifully, and in a paternal manner; it was because their impiety suffered him not. And the Prophet only speaks of the duties of the second table, as also the Prophets do, when they exhort men to repentance: they often begin with the second table of the law, because the perverseness of men with regard to this is more palpable, and they can thereby be more easily convicted. But what he afterwards subjoins, "niru nir", "plough the ploughing", is not, I confess, in its proper place; but there is in this nothing inconsistent: for after having exhorted them to plough, he now adds, that they were like uncultivated and desert fields, so that it was not right to sow the seed until they had been prepared. The Prophet then ought, according to the order of nature, to have begun with ploughing; but he simply said what he wished to convey, that the Israelites received not the fruit they desired, because they had only sown unrighteousness. If they now wished to be dealt with more kindly, he shows the remedy, which is to sow righteousness. If it was so, that they were already filled with wickedness, he shows that they were like a field overgrown with briers and thorns. When therefore a field has long remained uncultivated, thorns and thistles and other noxious herbs grow there, and a double ploughing will be necessary, and this double labour is called Novation; and Jeremiah speaks of the same thing, when he shows that the people had grown hardened in their wickedness, and that they could not bear any fruit until the thorns were torn up by the roots, and until they had been well cleansed from the vices in which they had become fixed; and hence he says, - 'Plough again your fallow-ground,' (Jer. 4: 3.) "And it is the time for seeking Jehovah, until he come". Here the Prophet offers a hope of pardon to the people, to encourage them to repent: for we know that when men are called back to God, they are torpid and even faint in their minds, until they are assured that God will be propitious to them; and this is what we have treated of more fully in another place. The Prophet now handles the same truth, that it is the time for seeking the Lord. He indeed uses the word "'ot", which means a seasonable time. It is then the time for seeking the Lord; as though he said, "The way of salvation is not yet closed against you; for the Lord invites you to himself, and he is of his own self inclined to mercy." This is one thing. We are, however, at the same time, taught that there ought to be no delay; for such tardiness will cost them dear, if they despise so kind an invitation of God, and go on in their own obstinacy. It is then the time for seeking Jehovah; as Isaiah also says 'Seek the Lord while he may be found, call on him while he is nigh: Behold, now is the time of good-pleasure; behold, now is the day of salvation,' (Isa. 55: 6.) So also in this place, the Prophet testifies that God will be easily entreated, if Israel returned to the right way; but that, if they continued obstinately in their sins, this time would not be perpetual; for the door would be shut, and the people would cry in vain, after having neglected this seasonable invitation, and abused the patience of God. "It is then the time", he says, "for seeking the Lord", until he come. This last clause is a confirmation of the former; for the Prophet here expressly declares that it would not be useless labour for Israel to begin to seek God - 'He will come to you.' He at the same time warns them not to be too hasty in their expectations; for though God may receive us into favour, he does not yet immediately deliver us from all punishments or evils. We must, then, patiently wait until the fruit of reconciliation appears. We hence see that both points are here wisely handled by the Prophet; for he would have Israel to hasten with deep concern, and not to delay long the time of repentance, and also to remain quiet, if God did not immediately show himself propitious, and show tokens of his favour; the Prophet wished, in this case, the people to be patient. "And rain righteousness upon you". The word "yarah" means indeed "to teach," and also "to throw;" but as the word "moreh", derived from this verbs as it is well known, means the rain, I could not explain it here otherwise than "he will rain righteousness upon you." What, indeed, could the teaching of righteousness mean? For the Prophet alludes to the harvest; and the people might say, "Are we sure of provision, if we seek God?" "Certainly," he says; "he will come - he will come to you, and will rain righteousness, or the fruit of righteousness, upon you." In short, the Prophet here shows, that whenever God is sought sincerely and from the heart by sinners, he comes forth to meet them, and shows himself kind and merciful. But as he had spoken of ploughing and sowing, the fruit or the harvest was now to be mentioned; that he might therefore hold forth a promise that they who had sown righteousness would not lose their expense and toil, he says, the Lord will rain upon you the fruit of righteousness. Now follows the other verse, which, as I have said, completes the passage, "Ye have ploughed ungodliness, iniquity have ye reaped: ye have eaten the fruit of falsehood". The Prophet shows that the people had in vain been daily admonished, and so kindly and sweetly allured by the Lord; for they had not only slighted wholesome warnings, but had, in their perverse wickedness, abandoned themselves to a contrary course: "ye have ploughed", he says, "impiety"; God has exhorted you to sow righteousness, - what have ye sown? Impiety; and then ye have reaped iniquity. Some think that the punishments which the people had to bear are pointed out here; as though the Prophet had said, "God has returned to you such a produce as was suitable to your sowing; ye are therefore satiated with falsehood - that is, with your own false confidence." But he seems rather to pursue the same strain of thought, and to say, that they had ploughed impiety - that is, that they had been from the beginning ungodly; and then, that they had reaped iniquity - that is, that they had continued their wickedness to the very harvest, and laid up their fruit as it were in a storehouse, that they might satiate themselves with treachery. The Prophet, I think, speaks in this sense; but let there be a free choice. I only show what seems to me most suitable. For it follows then, "For thou hast trusted in thine own way, in the multitude of thy valiant ones". Here the Prophet points out the chief spring-head of all sins; for the Israelites, trusting in their own counsels, gave no ear to the word of God: and then, being fortified by their own strength, they dreaded not his judgements, nor fled to his pledged protection to defend them. This pride is not then named here by the Prophet without reason as the chief source of all sins. For when one distrusts his own wisdom, or is afraid, being conscious of his weakness, he can be easily subdued; but when pride possesses man's minds so that he thinks himself wise, nothing will then prevail with him, neither counsel nor instruction. It is the same when any one greatly extols his own strength, and is inflated with pride, he cannot be made tractable, were he admonished a hundred times. The Prophet then defines here the falsehood, the impiety, and the iniquity of which he had been speaking. For though the people sinned in various ways, the fountain and root was in this lie or falsehood, that they were wont to set up their own strength in opposition to God, and thought themselves so endued with wisdom, that they had no need of teachers. Since, then, the people were so blinded with their own pride, the Prophet shows here that it was this lie with which they had satiated themselves. It follows - Hosea 10:14,15 Therefore shall a tumult arise among thy people, and all thy fortresses shall be spoiled, as Shalman spoiled Betharbel in the day of battle: the mother was dashed in pieces upon [her] children. So shall Bethel do unto you because of your great wickedness: in a morning shall the king of Israel utterly be cut off. The Prophet here denounces punishment, having before exposed to view the sins of the people, and sufficiently proved them guilty, who by subterfuges avoided judgement. He now adds, that God would be a just avenger. "A tumult then shall arise among thy people". Thou hast hitherto satiated thyself with falsehood; for hope in thine own courage has inebriated thee, and also a false notion of wisdom; but the Lord will suddenly stir up tumults among thy people; that is, a tumult shall in one moment arise on every side. He intimates that its progress would not be slow, but that the tumult would be each as would confound things from one corner of the land to the other. "A tumult" then, or perdition, "shall arise among thy people"; for the word "sha'on" means perdition or destruction; but I prefer "tumult," as the verb, "k'am" seems to require. "Every one of thy fortresses," he says, "shall be demolished." He shows that whatever strength the people had would be weak and wholly useless, when the Lord had begun to raise a tumult; for this tumult would reduce to ruin all their fortified cities. He then adds an instance, which some refer to Shalmanezar. He only mentions Shaman; and Shalmanezar is indeed a compound name; but it is not known whether the Prophet had put down here his name in its simple form, Shaman: and then he mentions Betharbel, a city, referred to in some parts of Scripture, which was, with respect to Judea, beyond Jordan. If we receive this opinion, it seems that the Prophet wished to revive the memory of a recent slaughter, "Ye know what lately happened to you when Shalmanezar marched with so much cruelty through your country, when he laid waste your villages and towns and cities, and ye especially know how fierce the battle was in Betharbel, when a carnage was made, when mothers were violently thrown on their children, when the enemy spared neither sex nor age, which in the worst wars is a most cruel thing." Such, then, may have been the meaning of the Prophet. But others think that he relates a history, which is nowhere else to be told. However this may be, it appears that the Prophet spake of some slaughter which was in his day well known. Then the report of it was common enough, whether it was a slaughter made by Shalmanezar, or any other, of which there is no express mention found. We no see the meaning of the Prophet; but we cannot finish to-day. Prayer. Grant, Almighty God, that as we remain yet in our own wickedness, though often warned and sweetly invited by thee, and as thou prevailest not with us by thy daily instruction, - O grant, that we may, in a spirit of meekness, at length turn to thy service, and fight against the hardness and obstinacy of our flesh, till we render ourselves submissive to thee, and not wait until thou puttest forth thy hand against us, or at least so profit under thy chastisements, as not to constrain thee to execute extreme vengeance against us, but to repent without delay; and that we may indeed, without hypocrisy, plough under thy yoke, and so enjoy thy special blessings, that thou mayest show thyself to us not only as our Lord, but also as our Father, full of mercy and kindness, through Christ our Lord. Amen. Calvin on Hosea (continued in part 29...) --------------------------------------------------- file: pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-04: cvhos-28.txt .