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Israel’s Apostasy


Set the trumpet to your lips!

One like a vulture is over the house of the L ord,

because they have broken my covenant,

and transgressed my law.


Israel cries to me,

“My God, we—Israel—know you!”


Israel has spurned the good;

the enemy shall pursue him.



They made kings, but not through me;

they set up princes, but without my knowledge.

With their silver and gold they made idols

for their own destruction.


Your calf is rejected, O Samaria.

My anger burns against them.

How long will they be incapable of innocence?


For it is from Israel,

an artisan made it;

it is not God.

The calf of Samaria

shall be broken to pieces.



For they sow the wind,

and they shall reap the whirlwind.

The standing grain has no heads,

it shall yield no meal;

if it were to yield,

foreigners would devour it.


Israel is swallowed up;

now they are among the nations

as a useless vessel.


For they have gone up to Assyria,

a wild ass wandering alone;

Ephraim has bargained for lovers.


Though they bargain with the nations,

I will now gather them up.

They shall soon writhe

under the burden of kings and princes.



When Ephraim multiplied altars to expiate sin,

they became to him altars for sinning.


Though I write for him the multitude of my instructions,

they are regarded as a strange thing.


Though they offer choice sacrifices,

though they eat flesh,

the L ord does not accept them.

Now he will remember their iniquity,

and punish their sins;

they shall return to Egypt.


Israel has forgotten his Maker,

and built palaces;

and Judah has multiplied fortified cities;

but I will send a fire upon his cities,

and it shall devour his strongholds.


Interpreters nearly all agree in this, that the Prophet threatens not the kingdom of Israel, but the kingdom of Judah, at the beginning of this chapter, because he names the house of God, which they take to be the temple. I indeed allow, that the Prophet has spoken already, in two places, of the kingdom of Judah, but as it were in passing. He has, it is true, introduced some reproofs and threatening, but so that the distinction was quite clear; and we see that he now goes to the kingdom of Judah, but in the second verse, he names Israel, and yet continues his discourse. To thy mouth, he says, the trumpet, etc.; and afterwards he adds, To me shall they cry, My God; we know thee, Israel. Here, certainly, the discourse is addressed to the ten tribes. I am therefore by no means induced to explain the beginning of the chapter by applying it to the kingdom of Judah: and I certainly do wonder that interpreters have mistaken in a matter so trifling; for the house of God means not only the temple, but also the whole people. As Israel retained this boast, that they were a people holy to God, and that they were his family, he says, “Put or set the trumpet to thy mouth, and proclaim the war, which is now nigh at hand; for the enemy hastens, who is to attack the house of God, that is, this holy people, who cover themselves with the name of God, and who, trusting in their election and adoption, think that they shall be free from all evils; war shall come as an eagle against this house of God.”

Had the Prophet added any thing which could be referred peculiarly to the kingdom of Judah, I should willingly accede to their opinion, who think that the house of God is the sanctuary. But let the whole context be read, and any one may easily perceive, that the Prophet speaks of Israel no less in the first verse than in the second and third. For, as it has been said, he lays down no difference, but pursues throughout his teaching or discourse in the same strain.

He says first, A trumpet to thy mouth, or, “Set to thy mouth the trumpet.” It is an exhibition, (hypotyposis;) for we know that God, in order to affect more powerfully the people, clothes his Prophets with various characters. The Prophet then is introduced here as a herald who proclaims war, or a messenger, or by whatever name you may be pleased to call him. Here then the Prophet is commanded, not to speak with his mouth, but to show by the trumpet that war was nigh, as though God himself by his trumpet declared war against Israel, which was to be carried on soon after by earthly enemies. The enemies were soon after to come, and the herald was to come in the usual manner to declare war. The Greeks call them κηρρυκες, proclaimers, we say, “Les heraux“. As these earthly kings have their proclaimers, or κηρυκες, or heralds, or messengers, who proclaim war; so the Lord sends his Prophet with the usual charge to declare war: “Go then, and let the Israelites know, not now by thy mouth, but even by thy throat, by the sound of the trumpet, that I am an enemy to them, and that I am present with a strong army to destroy them.” It is indeed certain that the Prophet did not use a trumpet; but the Lord by this representations as I have already said increased the reality of what was taught that the Israelites might perceive, that it was not in sport or in play that the Prophet threatened them, but that it was done seriously, as though they now saw the heralds who was to proclaim war; for this was not usually done except when the army is already prepared for battle.

He then says, As an eagle against the house of Jehovah We have already said what the Prophet means by the house of Jehovah, even that people who thought that they would be exempt from every evil, because they had been adopted by the Lord. Hence the Israelites called themselves God’s household; and though under this cover, they impiously and profanely abandoned themselves to every kind of turpitude, yet they thought that they were on the best of terms with God himself. “There shall come,” he says, “a common ruin to you all; this boasting shall not prevent me from taking vengeance at last on your sins.” But he adds As an eagle, that the Israelites might not think that there was to be a long delay; for the impious procrastinate, when they see any danger at hand. Hence, that the Israelites might not continue torpid in their vices, the Prophet says, that the destruction of which he spoke would be like the eagle; for in a moment the eagle goes over an immense distance, and we wonder when we see it over our heads, though a little before it did not appear. So also the Prophet says, that destruction, though not yet seen, was however nigh at hand, that being smitten with terror, though now late, yet as the Lord was thus urging them, they might return to him.


Grant, Almighty God, that since thou continues daily to restore us to thyself, both by scourges and by thy word, though we cease not to go astray after sinful desires, — O grant, that by the direction of thy Spirit, we may at length so return to thee, that we may never afterwards fall away, but be preserved in pure and true obedience, and thus constantly continue in the pure worship of thy majesty and in true, obedience, that after this life past, we may at last reach that blessed rest, which is reserved for us in heaven, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Lecture Twenty-first

We were not able yesterday to complete the first verse of the eighth chapter. It then remains for us to consider the latter clause, in which the Prophet expresses the cause of the war which he had previously proclaimed by God’s command. He says, that the Israelites had transgressed the covenant of the Lord, and conducted themselves perfidiously against his law. He repeats the same thing twice, for the covenant and the law are synonymous; only the word, law, in my view, is added as explanatory, as though he had said, that they had violated the covenant of the Lord, which had been sanctioned or sealed by the law. God then had made a covenant with Israel, which he designed to be comprehended in the tables. Since then it was not unknown to the Israelites what they owed to God, they were covenant-breakers. It was then the doubling of their crime, as the Prophet shows, that they had not fallen through mistake when they transgressed the covenant of the Lord, for they had been more than sufficiently taught by the law what faith and what purity the Lord required of them: at the same time, the covenant which the Lord so openly made with them was yet neglected. It follows —

Hosea 8:2-3

2. Israel shall cry unto me, My God, we know thee.

2. Mihi clamabunt, Deus mi, novimus te, Israel. 5151     The construction of this versed is anomalous, there being a mixture of numbers, not uncommon in this book. The original is the following: —
   לי יזעקו אלהי ידענוך ישראל

   The literal rendering is this: —

   “To me they will cry, My God, we have known thee, Israel.”

   If we take the future as expressive of a continued act, as it is often to be taken, and consider “my God” as the expression of each one includes in “they,” or accommodate it to “They,” and say “our God,” and if we regard “Israel” to be in apposition with “we,” as some critics think and very justly, then we have the following appropriate rendering: —

   “To me they cry, Our God; we, Israel, have known thee.”

    — Ed.

3. Israel hath cast off the thing that is good: the enemy shall pursue him.

3. Deseruit Israel bonum (vel, abominatus est, repulit, vel, recessit procul a bono:) hostis persequetur eum.


By the Prophet saying, To me shall they cry, some understand that the Israelites are blamed for not fleeing to God; and they thus explain the Prophet’s words, “They ought to have cried to me.” It seems to others to be an exhortation, “Let the Israelites now cry to me.” But I take the words simply as they are, that is that God here again touches the dissimulation of the Israelites, They will cry to me, We know thee; and to this the ready answer is Israel has cast away good far from himself; the enemy shall pursue him I thus join together the two verses; for in the former the Lord relates what they would do, and what the Israelites had already begun to do; and in the latter verse he shows that their labour would be in vain, because they ever cherished wickedness in their hearts, and falsely pretended the name of God, as it has been previously observed, even in their prayers. Israel, then will cry to me, My God, we know thee. Thus hypocrites confidently profess the name of God, and with a lofty air affirm that they are God’s people; but God laughs to scorn all this boasting, as it is vain, and worthy of derision. They will then cry to me; and then he imitates their cries, My God, we know thee When hypocrites, as if they were the friends of God, cover themselves with his shadow, and profess to act under his guardianship, and also boast at the same time of their knowledge of true doctrine, and boast of faith and of the worship of God; be it so, he says, that these cries are uttered by their mouths, yet facts speak differently, and reprove and expose their hypocrisy. We now then see how these two verses are connected together, and what is the Prophet’s object.

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