IV The prophet shews their numerous sins, and the judgments consequent upon them, ver. 1-19.
Verse 2. Break out - As waters that swell above all banks. Toucheth blood - Slaughters are multiplied; so that the end of one is the beginning of another.
Verse 3. Shall languish - Shall pine away. With the beasts of the field - God punishes man in cutting off what was made for man's benefit; and 'tis probable the tamer cattle were starved for want of grass or fodder, all being consumed by the wasting armies. The tamer either were killed by enemies, or offended with stench, forsook the country, or were devoured by birds of prey. Taken away - Whether by drying up the waters, or by corrupting them with blood and carcasses.
Verse 4. Let no man strive - They are so hardened, it is to no purpose to warn them any more. As they that strive - There is no modesty, or fear of God or man left among them, they will contend with their teachers, reprovers, and counsellors.
Verse 5. Therefore - The prophet turns his speech to the people, thou O Israel; he speaks to them as to one person. Fall - Stumble, and fall, and be broken. This day - Very suddenly; your fall shall be no longer delayed. The prophet - Prophesied lies. In the night - In the darkest calamities. Thy mother - Both the state, or kingdom; and the synagogues, or churches: the publick is as a mother to private persons, so all shall be destroyed.
Verse 6. Destroyed - Many were already cut off by Pul king of Assyria, and many destroyed by the bloody tyranny of Menahem. Of knowledge - Of God, his law, his providence, his holy nature, his hatred of sin and power to punish it. Because thou - The prophet now turns from the people to the priests, to whom he speaks as to one person. Rejected knowledge - Art and wilt be ignorant. Seeing thou - O Israel, and you O priests, you have broken all the precepts of it. Thy children - The people of Israel, the whole kingdom of the ten tribes.
Verse 7. As they - Kings, priests, and people. Were increased - In number, in riches, and honour. So they sinned - Sin grew with their wealth and honour. Their glory - They turned all that in which they might glory above others, into sin. I will turn it into their dishonour.
Verse 8. They - The priests who minister to the idols. The sin - Probably by sin is meant sin-offering, in which the priest had his share. And they - Covetous, luxurious, idolatrous priests.
Verse 10. Not have enough - They shall not be nourished, nor satisfied with what they eat. Shall not increase - They shall not hereby increase the number of their children, either the women shall not bear, or the children shall not live.
Verse 11. Take away the heart - Deprive men of their understanding and judgment.
Verse 13. Good - Convenient for the sacrificers. Shall commit whoredom - Shall dishonour themselves, and their families, with fornicators.
Verse 14. Nor your spouses - I will give them up to their own hearts. For themselves - The husband and fathers are examples to their wives and daughters. Therefore the people - The sottish ignorant people, that know not God. Shall fall - Be utterly ruined.
Verse 15. Offend - Commit like sins. Gilgal - Gilgal was chosen by Jeroboam, or by succeeding idolaters for the solemn worship of their idols. Beth-aven - Beth-el, where Jacob lodged, who called it Beth-el, the house of God; but when Jeroboam made it the place for his calf-worship, it became Beth-aven, the house of vanity or iniquity. Nor swear - This is a part put for the whole worship of God, which the prophet warns them not to blend with their idolatries.
Verse 16. Israel - The ten tribes. As a back-sliding heifer - Which when grown lusty, and wanton, will neither endure the yoke nor be confined in her allowed pastures. In a largeplace - In a largeplace or wilderness, where is no rest, safety or provision; such shall be the condition of the ten tribes.
Verse 17. Ephraim - The children of Ephraim were numerous and potent, and here put for the whole ten tribes. Let him alone - He is obstinate, as such, throw him up.
Verse 18. Their drink - Their wine is corrupt and hurtful. Continually - Without ceasing from Jeroboam's time to this day. Give ye - Beside there is shameful oppression and bribery among them.
Verse 19. The wind - The whirlwind of wrath from God hath seized this old adulteress, and carried some of her children away already. They shall be ashamed - What they made their confidence, shall be their shame.