King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Hosea 4

God’s judgments against the sins of the people. (1-5) and of the priests. (6-11) Idolatry is reproved, and Judah is admonished. (12-19)

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God’s judgments against the sins of the people

1 Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.

2 By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood.

3 Therefore shall the land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein shall languish, with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven; yea, the fishes of the sea also shall be taken away.

4 Yet let no man strive, nor reprove another: for thy people are as they that strive with the priest.

5 Therefore shalt thou fall in the day, and the prophet also shall fall with thee in the night, and I will destroy thy mother.

and of the priests

6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.

7 As they were increased, so they sinned against me: therefore will I change their glory into shame.

8 They eat up the sin of my people, and they set their heart on their iniquity.

9 And there shall be, like people, like priest: and I will punish them for their ways, and reward them their doings.

10 For they shall eat, and not have enough: they shall commit whoredom, and shall not increase: because they have left off to take heed to the LORD.

11 Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the heart.

Idolatry is reproved, and Judah is admonished

12 My people ask counsel at their stocks, and their staff declareth unto them: for the spirit of whoredoms hath caused them to err, and they have gone a whoring from under their God.

13 They sacrifice upon the tops of the mountains, and burn incense upon the hills, under oaks and poplars and elms, because the shadow thereof is good: therefore your daughters shall commit whoredom, and your spouses shall commit adultery.

14 I will not punish your daughters when they commit whoredom, nor your spouses when they commit adultery: for themselves are separated with whores, and they sacrifice with harlots: therefore the people that doth not understand shall fall.

15 Though thou, Israel, play the harlot, yet let not Judah offend; and come not ye unto Gilgal, neither go ye up to Bethaven, nor swear, The LORD liveth.

16 For Israel slideth back as a backsliding heifer: now the LORD will feed them as a lamb in a large place.

17 Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone.

18 Their drink is sour: they have committed whoredom continually: her rulers with shame do love, Give ye.

19 The wind hath bound her up in her wings, and they shall be ashamed because of their sacrifices.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Israel. They are chiefly addressed, (Chal. S. Jer. C.) or what follows to v. 15, regards all. W. — Judgment. Heb. “a trial.” — Mercy. The want of humanity and of practical knowledge is urged. C. — The knowledge of God includes the observance of the commandments. 1 Jo. ii. 4. W. — This science alone is requisite. Jer. ix. 3. Is. v. 13. Blind leaders prove their own and other’s ruin.

Ver. 2. Blood. The successors of Jeroboam II. were mostly murdered. C. — Incestuous marriages take place. H.

Ver. 3. Together. The waters shall be dried up, or infected. C. — When the people are taken away, beasts will not long remain. Jer. ix. 10. Soph. i. 2. H.

Ver. 4. Judge, &c. As if he would say: It is in vain to strive with them, or reprove them, they are so obstinate in evil. Ch. — Priest. Such must be slain. Deut. xvii. 12. C. — Sept. “my people are like a priest contradicted,” (H.) or degraded. Theod.

Ver. 5. Prophet, both true and false. — Night of tribulation. Heb. and Sept. “I have compared thy mother to the night.”

Ver. 6. Silent. Sept. “like those who had,” &c. — Knowledge. Jeroboam I. had appointed unlawful priests, and some of the house of Aaron went over to him, and were excluded from officiating at Jerusalem, after the captivity. 1 K. xii. 31. Ezec. xliv. 10. Knowledge is always expected of priests. Deut. xvii. 8. Mal. ii. 7. Gratian. dist. 38. c. omnes. C. — When the power of sacrificing is withdrawn, all spiritual functions cease, as sacrifice belongs properly to a priest. W.

Ver. 7. Me. A father rejoices in a numerous offspring. But my people take occasion to offend me the more they increase. C.

Ver. 8. Sins: victims. W. — Iniquity; or “they seek for support in their propitiatory offerings,” and lull the people asleep in their sins. The priests of the golden calf imitated the sacred rites of Moses. It would have been too difficult to make the people change altogether.

Ver. 9. Priest. They are equally dissolute, and shall meet the like punishment. — Devices, or thoughts. C. — Cogitatio mali operis p├Žnas luet. S. Jer.

Ver. 10. Ceased. Heb. “increased.” They have no children living. C. — Sept. “let them not succeed.”

Ver. 11. Understanding. Lit. “heart.” H. — Some sins darken reason more than others; but none so much as spiritual fornication. W.

Ver. 12. Staff. It was customary to use this mode of divination, (Ezec. xxi. 21.) and likewise incense. v. 13. — Oak. These terms are variously rendered as the trees and stones mentioned in Scripture, will probably never be ascertained.

Ver. 14. Visit. This is the most dreadful of God’s judgments. He permits those who offend him to receive discontent from their own families. — Effeminate, like the Galli, &c. (S. Jer.) and votaries of Priapus. 3 K. xv. 11. Heb. “the consecrated women.” Sept. “initiated,” to honour a lewd idol by prostitution. C. — Beaten. Sept. “adhere to a harlot. But thou, Israel, be not ignorant, and Juda go,” &c. H.

Ver. 15. Offend. It was more culpable for Juda to commit idolatry (as they had the temple, &c. of the true God) than for Israel, whom Jeroboam hindered from going to Jerusalem, after he had set up his golden calves. W. — Galgal and Bethaven. Places where idols were worshipped. Bethel, which signifies the house of God, is called by the prophet Bethaven, that is the house of vanity, from Jeroboam’s golden calf which was worshipped there. Ch. — Galgal was on the confines of the two kingdoms, and always venerated by the Jews. Idols had been there in ancient times, and probably a sort of oracle. Judg. iii. 19. If Israel be thus abandoned, let not Juda imitate them. C. — Lord. Profane not this sacred name by giving it to idols. Theod. — Use not this expression, since you do not worship me. S. Jer.

Ver. 16. Wanton. Sept. “stung,” or rendered furious. Thus Israel gives way to ungovernable passions. The people shall be led into captivity, and have room to range about.

Ver. 17. Partaker. Heb. “tied to abominations.” — Alone. His case is desperate. C. — Sept. “he has placed stumbling-blocks for himself.” H.

Ver. 18. Separated from that allowed to God’s people. Deut. xii. 12. Heb. “insipid,” or spoiled. Chal. “their princes have sought after banquets.” Sept. “He has provoked (surpassed) the Chanaanites.” These two have not read as we do. — They. Heb. “their shields (chiefs) have loved shame:” dissolute practices, or “presents,” which are disgraceful. C. — Sept. “They have loved shame by her rage. (19) A whirlwind shall whistle in,” &c. H.

Ver. 19. Wings. They shall be quickly removed hence. C.