(Calvin on Hosea, part 29) Lecture Twenty-ninth. We explained yesterday the 14th verse of chap. 10, in which the Prophet denounced the vengeance of God on his people, such as they had experienced either when the country was laid waste by the army of Shalmanezar, or when some other slaughter was made. From the words, we certainly learn that a battle had been fought in Arbel, which was a town, as we have said, beyond Jordan. But the Prophet shows also how much had been the atrocity of that battle, and how grievous and dreadful would be that slaughter which he now threatens to the people, by saying that even the mother had been violently thrown upon her children. And the Prophet also shows that God's vengeance would be just, because the Israelites had provoked God by their superstitions. He then points out in the last verse the cause why the Lord would deal so severely with his people; and his manner of speaking ought to be observed. "So", he says, "shall Bethel do unto you". He might have said, 'So will God do unto you;' but he more distinctly shows that the evil, or the cause of the evil, was in themselves; "Bethel", he says, "shall do this unto you". It is certain that the war did not arise from Bethel; but as they had corrupted the worship of God by worshipping the calf, the Prophet says, that the Assyrian was not, properly speaking, the author of this slaughter, but that it was to be imputed to that corruption which had arisen in Bethel. Bethel then shall do this unto you. But he adds, "Because of wickedness - of your wickedness". Some give this explanation, "Because of the wickedness of wickedness," by which is expressed something extreme, as the genitive case is often used by the Hebrews in the place of the superlative degree; but it may be viewed as a simple repetition, "This shall be for wickedness - your wickedness, and it shall be so, that ye may not be able to transfer the blame to any other cause; for ye are yourselves the authors of all the evils." He says, in the last place, "In a morning shall the king of Israel be utterly cut off", or, by perishing shall perish. The Prophet means by these words, that the Lord would so punish the people of Israel, that it would appear plain enough, that it was not done by man or by chance; for the Lord would suddenly overturn that kingdom which had been so well fortified, which flourished so much in wealth and power. Cut off then in a morning, or in one morning, shall be the king of Israel. Some read, "as the morning," instead of, "in a morning," "kashachar", "beshachar". 'The king of Israel shall perish like the dawn;' for the dawn, we know, immediately disappears when the sun rises: the sun brings with it the full day, and then the dawn immediately passes away. But the other is the more correct reading, as it has also been more commonly received, that is, "In a morning, or in one morning, shall the king of Israel perish;" as we say in French, Cela n'est que pour un desiuner. For that proud people thought that no adversity could happen to them for many years, as they had a blind confidence in their own strength. The Prophet derides this madness, and says, that the slaughter would be sudden, that the king would in a moment be destroyed, though he thought himself well supplied with soldiers and all other defences. Now follows - Chapter 11. Hosea 11:1 When Israel [was] a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt. God here expostulates with the people of Israel for their ingratitude. The obligation of the people was twofold; for God had embraced them from the very first beginning, and when there was no merit or worthiness in them. What else, indeed, was the condition of the people when emancipated from their servile works in Egypt? They doubtless seemed then like a man half-dead or a putrid carcass; for they had no vigour remaining in them. The Lord then stretched forth his hand to the people when in so hopeless a state, drew them out, as it were, from the grave, and restored them from death into life. But the people did not acknowledge this so wonderful a favour of God, but soon after petulantly turned their back on him. What baseness was this, and how shameful the wickedness, to make such a return to the author of their life and salvation? The Prophet therefore enhances the sin and baseness of the people by this circumstance, that the Lord had loved them even from childhood; "when yet", he says, "Israel was a child, I loved him". The nativity of the people was their coming out of Egypt. The Lord had indeed made his covenant with Abraham four hundred years before; and, as we know, the patriarchs were also regarded by him as his children: but God wished his Church to be, as it were, extinguished, when he redeemed it. Hence the Scripture, when it speaks of the liberation of the people, often refers to that favour of God in the same way as of one born into the world. It is not therefore without reason that the Prophet here reminds the people that they had been loved when in childhood. The proof of this love was, that they had been brought out of Egypt. Love had preceded, as the cause is always before the effect. But the Prophet enlarges on the subject: "I loved Israel, even while he was yet a child; I called him out of Egypt"; that is, "I not only loved him when a child, but before he was born I began to love him; for the liberation from Egypt was the nativity, and my love preceded that. It then appears, that the people had been loved by me, before they came forth to the light; for Egypt was like a grave without any spark of life; and the condition this miserable people was in was worse than thousand deaths. Then by calling my people from Egypt, I sufficiently proved that my love was gratuitous before they were born." The people were hence less excusable when they returned such an unworthy recompense to God, since he had previously bestowed his free favour upon them. We now understand the meaning of the Prophet. But here arises a difficult question; for Matthew, in chap. 2, accommodates this passage to the person of Christ. They who have not been well versed in Scripture have confidently applied to Christ this place; yet the context is opposed to this. Hence it has happened, that scoffers have attempted to disturb the whole religion of Christ, as though the Evangelist had misapplied the declaration of the Prophet. They give a more suitable answer, who say that there is in this case only a comparison: as when a passage from Jeremiah is quoted in another place, when the cruelty of Herod is mentioned, who raged against all the infants of his dominion, who were under two years of age, 'Rachel, bewailing her children, would not receive consolation, because they were not,' (Jer. 31: 15.) The Evangelist says that this prophecy was fulfilled, (Matth. 2: 18.) But it is certain that the object of Jeremiah was another; but nothing prevents that that declaration should not be applied to what Matthew relates. So they understand this place. But I think that Matthew had more deeply considered the purpose of God in having Christ led into Egypt, and in his return afterwards into Judea. In the first place, it must be remembered that Christ cannot be separated from his Church, as the body will be mutilated and imperfect without a head. Whatever then happened formerly in the Church, ought at length to be fulfilled by the head. This is one thing. Then also there is no doubt, but that God in his wonderful providence intended that his Son should come forth from Egypt, that he might be a redeemer to the faithful; and thus he shows that a true, real, and perfect deliverance was at length effected, when the promised Redeemer appeared. It was then the full nativity of the Church, when Christ came forth from Egypt to redeem his Church. So in my view that comment is too frigid, which embraces the idea, that Matthew made only a comparison. For it behaves us to consider this, that God, when he formerly redeemed his people from Egypt, only showed by a certain prelude the redemption which he deferred till the coming of Christ. Hence, as the body was then brought forth from Egypt into Judea, so at length the head also came forth from Egypt: and then God fully showed him to be the true deliverer of his people. This then is the meaning. Matthew therefore most fitly accommodates this passage to Christ, that God loved his Son from his first childhood and called him from Egypt. We know at the same time that Christ is called the Son of God in a respect different from the people of Israel; for adoption made the children of Abraham the children of God, but Christ is by nature the only-begotten Son of God. But his own dignity must remain to the head, that the body may continue in its inferior state. There is then in this nothing inconsistent. But as to the charge of ingratitude, that so great a favour of God was not acknowledged, this cannot apply to the person of Christ, as we well know; nor is it necessary in this respect to refer to him; for we see from other places that every thing does not apply to Christ, which is said of David, or of the high priest, or of the posterity of David; though they were types of Christ. But there is ever a great difference between the reality and its symbols. Let us now proceed - Hosea 11:2 [As] they called them, so they went from them: they sacrificed unto Baalim, and burned incense to graven images. The Prophet now repeats the ingratitude of the people in neglecting to keep in mind their redemption. The word, "called," is here to be taken in a different sense. For God effectually called, as they say, the people, or his Son, from Egypt: he has again called by the outward voice or teaching through his Prophets. Hence, when he said before that he called his Son from Egypt, it ought to be understood, as they say, of actual liberation: but now when he says, "They have called them", it is to be understood of teaching. The name of the Prophets is not expressed; but that they are intended is plain. And the Prophet seems designedly to have said in an indefinite manner, that the people had been called, that the indignity might appear more evident, as they had been called so often and by so many, and yet had refused. Hence "they have called them". When he thus speaks, he is not to be understood as referring to one or two men, or to a few, but as including a great number of men, doing this everywhere. Even thus now have they called them; that is, this people have been called, not once or twice, but constantly; and God has not only sent one messenger or preacher to call them, but there have been many Prophets, one after the other, often thus employed, and yet without any benefit. We now perceive what the Prophet meant. "They have called them", he says, "so they went away from their presence". The particle so, "ken", is introduced here to enliven the description; for the Prophet points out, as by the fingers how wickedly they conspired to execute their own counsels, as if they wished purposely to show in an open manner their contempt. "So they went away"; when the Prophets called them to one course, they proceeded in an opposite one. We then see, that to point out thus their conduct was not superfluous, when he says, that they in this manner went away: and then he says, "from their face". Here he shows that the people sought hiding-places and shunned the light. We may indeed conclude from these words, that so great was the perverseness of the people, that they not only wished to be alienated from God, but also that they would have nothing to do with the Prophets. It is indeed a proof of extreme wickedness, when instruction itself is a weariness, and ministers cannot be endured; and no doubt the Prophet meant to set forth this sin of the people. He afterwards says, that they "sacrificed unto Baalim", and burnt incense to graven images. In the former clause, he shows the contumacy of the Israelites, that they deigned not to give ear to God's servants. He now adds, that they made incense to graven images and also offered worship to their idols. By Baalim, as it has been already stated, the Prophet means the inferior gods. For no such stupidity prevailed among the people as not to think that there is some chief deity; nay, even profane Gentiles confessed that there is some supreme God. But they called their advocates Baalim, as we see to be the case at this day under the Papacy, this same office is transferred to the dead; they are to procure for men the favour of God. The Papists then have no grounds for seeking an evasion by words; for the very same superstition prevails at this time among them, as prevailed formerly among Gentiles and the people of Israel. Here the Prophet enhances the wickedness of the people; for they not only contemptuously neglected every instruction in religion, but also openly perverted the whole worship of God, and abandoned themselves to all abominations, so as to burn incense to their own idols. Let us go on - Hosea 11:3 I taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by their arms; but they knew not that I healed them. Here again God amplifies the sin of the people, by saying, that by no kindness, even for a long time, could they be allured, or turned, or reformed, or reduced to a sound mind. It was surely enough that the people of Israeli who had been brought by the hand of God from the grave to the light of life, should have repudiated every instruction; it was a great and an atrocious sin; but now God goes on farther, and says, that he had not ceased to show his love to them, and yet had attained nothing by his perseverance; for the wickedness and depravity of the people were incurable. Hence he says, "I have led Ephraim on foot". Some are of opinion that it is a nouns from "regel", foot, and it seems the most suitable. For otherwise there will be a change of a letter, which grammarians do not allow in the beginning of a word; for "tau", in this case would be put instead of "he"; and put so as if it was of frequent occurrence in Hebrew; but no such instance can be adduced. So they who are skilful in the language think that for this reason it is a noun, and with them I agree. They, however, who regard it as a verb, give this view, - "I have led him on foot, "tirgalti"; that is, as a child who cannot yet walk with a firm foot, is by degrees accustomed to do so, and the nurse, or the father, or the mother, who lead him, have a regard for his infancy; so also have I led Israel, as much as his feet could bear. But the other version is less obscure, and that is, "My walking on foot" was for him; that is, I humbled myself as mothers are wont to do; and hence he says, that he had carried the people on his shoulders; and we shall presently see the same comparison used. And Moses says in Deut. chap. 32, that the people had been carried on God's wings, or that God had expanded his wings like the eagle who flies over her young ones. With regard to the matter itself the meaning of the Prophet is not obscure; for he means, that this people had been treated by God in a paternal and indulgent manner; and also, that the perseverance of the Lord in continuing to bestow his blessings on them had been without any fruit. He afterwards adds, "To carry on his arms". Some render the expression, "kacham", "He carried them," as if the verb were in the past tense; and they consider the word, Moses, to be understood. But it is God who speaks here. Some think it to be an infinitive - "To carry," as when one carries another on his shoulders; and this seems to be the most suitable exposition. There is in the sense no ambiguity; for the design of the Prophet is what I have already stated, which is to show that this people were most wicked in not obeying God, since they had been so kindly treated by Him. For what could they have expected more than what God had done for them? As he also says by Isaiah, 'What, my vine, ought I to have done more than what I have done?' So also in this place, "My walking has been on foot with Ephraim"; and for this end, "to carry them", as when one carries another in his arms. 'They yet,' he says, 'did not know that I healed them;' that is, "Neither the beginning of my goodness, nor its continued exercise, avails anything with them. When I brought them forth from Egypt, I restored the dead to life; this kindness has been blotted out. Again, in the desert I testified, in various ways, that I was their best and most indulgent Father: I have in this instance also lost all my labour." How so? "Because my favour has been in no way acknowledged by this perverse and foolish people." We now then see what the Prophet meant: and he continues the same subject in the next verse. Hosea 11:4 I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love: and I was to them as they that take off the yoke on their jaws, and I laid meat unto them. The Prophet states, first, that this people had not been severely dealt with, as either slaves, or oxen, or asses, are wont to be treated. He had said before, that the people of Israel were like a heifer, which shakes off the yoke, and in wantonness loves only the treading of cor. But though the perverseness of the people was so great, yet God shows here that he had not used extreme rigour: "I have drawn him", he says, "with human cords and lovely bands". By the cords of man, he means humane government. "I have not," he says, "treated you as slaves, but dealt with you as with children; and I have not regarded you as cattle, I have not driven you into a stall; but I have only drawn you with lovely bands." The sum of the whole is, that the government which God had laid on the people was a certain and singular token of his paternal favour, so that the people could not complain of too much rigour, as if God had considered their disposition, and had used a hard wedge (as the common proverb is) for a hard knot; for if God had dealt thus with the people, they could have objected, and said, that they had not been kindly drawn by him, and that it was no wonder if they did not obey, since they had been so roughly treated. "But there is no ground for them," the Lord says, "to allege that I have used severity: for I could not have dealt more kindly with them, I have drawn them with human cords; I have not otherwise governed them than as a father his own children; I have been bountiful towards them. I indeed wished to do them good, and, as it was right, required obedience from them. I have at the same time laid on them a yoke, not servile, nor such as is wont to be laid on brute animals; but I was content with paternal discipline." Since then such kindness had no influence over them, is it not right to conclude that their wickedness is irreclaimable and extreme? He then adds "I have been to them like those who raise up the yoke upon the cheeks". "I have not laden you," he says, "with too heavy burdens, as oxen and other beasts are wont to be burdened; but I have raised up the yoke upon the cheeks. I have chosen rather to bear the yoke myself, and to ease these ungodly and wicked men of their burden." And God does not in vain allege this, for we know that when he uses his power, and vindicates his authority, he does this not to burden the people, as earthly kings are wont to do; but he bears the burden which he lays on men. It is no wonder then that he says now, that he had "lifted the yoke upon the cheeks" of his people, like one who wishes not to burden his ox, but bears up the yoke himself with his own hands, lest the ox should faint through weariness. He afterwards adds, "And I have made them to eat in quietness, or", "I have brought meat to them." Some think the verb "'owchil" to be in the future tense, and that "'owchil" is put for "'e'echil"; that is, I will cause them to eat; and that the future is to be resolved into the past: and it is certain that the word "'at" means tranquil sometimes. Then it will be, "I have caused them quietly to eat." But another exposition is more commonly received; as the word "'at" is derived from "natah", to raise, it is the same as though the Prophet had said, that meat had been brought to them. God then does here in various ways enhance the ingratitude and wickedness of the people, because they had not acknowledged his paternal kindness, when he had himself so kindly set forth his favour before their eyes; "I have", he says, "extended meat to them"; that is, "I have not thrown it on the ground, nor placed it too high for them; they have not toiled in getting it; but I have, as it were, brought it with mine own hand and set it before them, that they might eat without any trouble." In short, God declares that he had tried in every way to find out, whether there was any meekness or docility in the people of Israel, and that he had ill bestowed all his blessings; for this people were blind to favours so kind, to such as clearly proved, that God had in every way showed himself to be a Father. It follows - Hosea 11:5 He shall not return into the land of Egypt, but the Assyrian shall be his king, because they refused to return. Here the Prophet denounces a new punishment, that the people in vain hoped that Egypt would be a place of refuge or an asylum to them; for the Lord would draw them away to another quarter. For the Israelites had cherished this hope, that if by any chance the Assyrians should be too powerful for them, there would yet be a suitable refuge for them in Egypt among their friends, with whom they had made a treaty. Since, then, they promised themselves a hospitable exile in Egypt, the Prophet here exposes their vain confidence: "This their expectation," he says, "that they shall find a way open to Egypt, shall disappoint the people: it is shut up," he says, "They shall not return to the land of Egypt, but the Assyrian shall be their king". By saying, that the Assyrian shall rule over them, he means that the people would become exiles under the Assyrians, which indeed happened. He then anticipates here all the vain hopes by which the people deceived themselves, and by which they hardened themselves against all the threatening of God. "There is no reason for them," he says, "to look towards Egypt; for the Lord will not allow them to go there; for he will draw them to Assyria." He afterwards gives the reason, "Because they have been unwilling", he says, "to return". This "return" is to be taken in another sense: but there is here a striking similarity in the words. They thought that there would be to them a free passage into Egypt; and yet they had been unwilling to pass over unto God, when he had so often called them. The Prophet therefore says that a return into Egypt was now denied them, inasmuch as they had been unwilling to return to God. The import of what is said is, that when men perversely resist God, they in vain hope for any free movements either to this or that quarter; for the Lord will hold them tied and bound. As it is wont to be done to wild beasts, who, when they show too much ferocity, are shut up in cages or bound with chains, or as it is usually done to frantic men, who are bound with strong bands; so also the Lord does with obstinate men; he binds them fast, so that they cannot move a finger. This, then, is the meaning of the Prophet. There is, at the same time, to be understood, an implied comparison between the former bondage they endured in Egypt, and the new bondage which awaited them. They had known of what sort was the hospitality of Egypt, and yet so great a blindness possessed their minds, that they wished to return there. Their fathers had been kindly enough received; but their posterity were grievously burdened; nay, they were not far from being entirely destroyed. What madness was this, to wish of themselves to return to Egypt, when they knew how great was the ferociousness and cruelty of the Egyptians? But as I have said, something more grievous awaited them; they were not worthy to return to Egypt. To return there would have been indeed a dreadful calamity; but the Lord would not, however open a way for them to go there; for he would force them to pass to another country; yea, they were to be by force dragged away by their conquerors into Assyria. The drift of the whole is, that though the people had been cruelly treated in Egypt, there was now drawing nigh a more grievous tyranny; for the Assyrians would double the injuries, and the violence, and all kinds of wrongs and reproaches, which had been exercised against this people. Some think that it was added for consolation, that God, though greatly provoked by the people, was yet unwilling to lead them again into Egypt, lest the former redemption should be made void; but that a middle course was prepared by which he would chastise the ungrateful and yet retain them as his peculiar possession. But I have already shown what I mostly approve. At the same time, whichever view is taken, we see how grievous and severe was the denunciation of the Prophet. Prayer. Grant, Almighty God, that as thou hast deigned to choose us before the foundations of the world were laid, and included us in thy free adoption when we were the children of wrath and doomed to utter ruin, and afterwards embraced us even from the womb, and hast at length favoured us with a clearer proof of thy love, in calling us by thy gospel into a union and communion with thy only-begotten Son, - O grant, that we may not be unmindful of so many and so singular benefits, but respond to thy holy calling, and labour to devote ourselves wholly to thee, and labour, not for one day, but for the whole time designed for us here, both to live and to die according to thy good pleasure, so that we may glorify thee to the end, through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. Calvin on Hosea (continued in part 30...) --------------------------------------------------- file: pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-04: cvhos-29.txt .