The Rebuke of the Lord Continued.

THE MORAL CORRUPTION OF ISRAEL. V. 1. When I would have healed Israel, when the Lord attempted to remove their corruption, then the iniquity of Ephraim was discovered, it became known openly, and the wickedness of Samaria; for they commit falsehood, so that intercourse became impossible because no man could trust the other; and the thief cometh in, and the troop of robbers spoileth without, so that no traveler was sure of his life. V. 2. And they consider not in their hearts that I remember all their wickedness, that it is known and recorded in the book of God's remembrances; now their own doings have beset them about, like mountains hedging them in on every hand; they are before My face, making it impossible to ignore them. V. 3. They, the criminals of every type, make the king glad with their wickedness and the princes with their lies, a fact which shows that the highest ranks of the people were infested with the corruption. V. 4. They are all adulterers, the spiritual and moral condition of the entire people being the very lowest, as an oven heated by the baker, who ceaseth from raising, that is, from heating the oven further, after he hath kneaded the dough, until it be leavened. The adulterous and idolatrous lust of the people was inflamed to such an extent that it was like a baker's oven which was already at such an extreme heat that he could omit adding more fuel while the fermentation of his bread was finished. V. 5. In the day of our king, his birthday or the day of his inauguration, the princes have made him sick with bottles of wine, or, "the princes became ill with the heat of the wine"; he stretched out his hand with scorners, accepting their company with a ready spirit, making them his boon companions, so that everything which men hold sacred was dragged in the dust. V. 6. For they have made ready their heart like an oven whiles they lie in wait, that is, as men bring fuel for an oven, so they have brought their hearts into their cunning; their baker sleepeth all the night; in the morning it burneth as a flaming fire. The baker is the ringleader, who inspires passion, who starts the conspiracy; the night provides a time of rest, so that the passion of idolatry, which burns throughout, may break forth with new strength and fierceness after the interval. When the evil thoughts of their hearts have fully matured, when they find time and opportunity for the execution of their plans, then they carry them out with eagerness. V. 7. They are all hot as an oven, aflame with the various passions to which they have yielded themselves, and have devoured their judges, their magistrates; all their kings are fallen, the references probably being to the time when the last kings of Israel, Zechariah, Shallum, Menahem, Pekahiah, and Pekah, followed one another in quick succession. There is none among them that calleth unto Me; for even the great calamities in which they found themselves did not cause them to repent. V. 8. Ephraim, he hath mixed himself among the people, by entering into friendships with heathen nations, adopting their ways and serving their idols. Ephraim is a cake not turned, like a pancake burned on the lower side, while the upper side is not yet done. The entire cake is then not fit for eating. V. 9. Strangers have devoured his strength, partly on account of the wars waged against Israel, partly as a consequence of the heathen ways which had been adopted in the northern kingdom, and he knoweth it not, he was not even aware of his unfortunate condition; yea, gray hairs are here and there upon him, signs of the approaching national dissolution; yet he knoweth not, being blind to all evidences of the inevitable end. V. 10. And the pride of Israel testifieth to his face, cp. chap. 5, 5, and they do not return to the Lord, their God, nor seek Him for all this. The situation was like that of which also other prophets complain when they state that the people have become hardened to the chastising hand of the Lord. Cp. Is. 9, 13; Jer. 5, 3.

HYPOCRISY REBUKED. V. 11. Ephraim also is like a silly dove without heart, one which is too simple to notice the snare of the fowler. They call to Egypt, they go to Assyria, not realizing that the very nations whose help they invoked would prove their undoing. V. 12. When they shall go, when their embassies are dispatched to seek the aid of the great foreign nations, I will spread My net upon them, using the foreigners as His instruments to carry out His punishment upon them; I will bring them down as the fowls of the heaven, dragging them down into the net of the exile; I will chastise them, as their congregation hath heard, in accordance with His repeated proclamations concerning their doom. V. 13. Woe unto them! For they have fled from Me, forsaking the one Rock of their salvation. Destruction unto them! because they have transgressed against Me, they have rebelled and thereby forsaken Him, who is the only One who could and would help them. Though I have redeemed them, from the bondage of Egypt and from all other enemies, yet they have spoken lies against Me, by both words and actions, in seeking help elsewhere. V. 14. And they have not cried unto Me with their heart, for whatever praying they did was performed in hypocrisy, when they howled upon their beds, with cries of sleepless anguish, after the usual manner of their kind, resorting to extremes in order to make an impression; they assemble themselves for corn and wine, their one thought and object being to fill their stomachs with the best products of the land, and they rebel against Me, they have forsaken Him and, at the same time, turn against Him with open hostility. V. 15. Though I have bound and strengthened their arms, teaching them where to get and how to use their strength, yet do they imagine mischief against Me, by their idolatry and rebellion. V. 16. They return, but not to the Most High, or, "upwards," with their faces turned to His power alone; they are like a deceitful bow, whose string has lost its tenseness and cannot carry the arrow to its mark. Their princes shall fall by the sword for the rage of their tongue, on account of their proud boasting concerning the aid of Egypt; this shall be their derision in the land of Egypt, for the Egyptians themselves ridiculed them on account of the weakness revealed in their overthrow. That is ever the result of man's turning to men for help, for the very ones upon whom he depended for assistance will jeer at his fall. God is the only One in whom we may safely place all our trust.