Bible Commentaries
Hosea 13

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-16

Hosea 13:2 . Let the men that sacrifice kiss the calves. The readings vary here. The LXX, “You must sacrifice men, for there are no more calves.” The Vulgate Latin reads, “Sacrifice the men that worship the calves.” The reading of the English is nearer the truth, and better supported by appeals to ancient customs. It is equivalent to saying, that the men who sacrificed their children had the first claim to kiss the calves. In 1 Kings 19:18, we read that God had reserved seven thousand men who had neither bowed the knee, nor kissed Baal. In Sabian worship, the hosts of heaven, being high in the firmament, the idolaters lifted up their hand, and then kissed it. Job 31:27. This custom of kissing the idol, and of kissing the hand, is named by many of the ancient writers. Cicero mentions a statue of Hercules at Agrigentum, in which the configuration of the mouth was evidently worn by the kisses of devotees. Our Dr. Smith, in his view of the manners of Italy, visited the silver statue of our lady, the holy virgin, at Loretta. The image was rather short, and one foot less than the other, which was attributed to the kisses of pilgrims and devout persons. This lady fled away a little before the arrival of the French army.

Hosea 13:7 . I will be to them as a lion, and as a leopard. These two wild beasts are most terrific to the traveller and the shepherd, and the more so as the leopard roars not like the lion, but leaps from his lurking place upon the unwary. In this manner the Lord would surprise the Israelites, when going to seek aid from Assyria.

Hosea 13:11 . I gave thee a king in mine anger. This may allude to Saul; but it may also allude to Hoshea, whose name is delicately omitted. He ascended the throne in a storm, and in his ninth year Samaria was utterly destroyed.

Hosea 13:14 . I will ransom them from the power of the grave. Of the words sheol and hades, which mostly denote the state of the dead, we have already spoken. See Job 26:4. Psalms 9:16. Isaiah 30:33. I will redeem them from death. Maveth, corruption; the former word regards the soul, the latter the body. The same ideas are resumed in Revelation 20:13-14.

Oh death, I will be thy plagues. Our version follows Junius and Montanus. The LXX have δικη σου , thy revenge; but St. Paul prefers νικη , victory. The words that follow are in unison. Mortality shall be swallowed up of life. A fine allusion to the serpent, who does not, like the beasts, masticate his food, but swallows his prey. Thus death shall be no more.

Repentance shall be hid from mine eyes. These abrupt transitions from words of mercy to those of vengeance, were probably occasioned by the arrangements of the parchments. The prophets in modesty wrote merely what they had from the Lord; and suppressed an infinity of enlargements, which arose in their own minds.


Happy was Israel’s youth; he had God for his Father, and the choicest blessings of earth for his heritage. No nation had God so near to them; no nation multiplied like the Hebrews. Their cities were built, their fields were cultivated by the heathen.

On the other hand, no nation was more ungrateful for unexampled mercies. Therefore the Lord was more angry against them, than against all the gentiles. After all means had failed to reclaim and convert them from idolatry, and the sins of the heathen, he turned upon them as a lion, and as the furious bear robbed of her whelps. This is the God with whom we have to do.

The supreme Being was provoked with their aptitude, as Ezekiel states, chap. 33:10, to charge their miseries on others. This error the Lord indignantly rebuts. Oh Israel, thou hast wickedly and wilfully destroyed thyself. Thy bent of sinning has been regardless of judgments. I have loved thee. I have done all for my vineyard that could have been done for it. Thy destruction is not of me, but wholly of thyself. Yet in me is still thy help; all is not lost. There are treasures, unsearchable treasures of grace in Christ for future years; in me is thy help. Behold that arm which is able to save to the uttermost. The power which restored the captive jews, can do every thing for his long-afflicted saints.

Oh Ephraim, incorrigible Ephraim, doomed as thou art to drink the bitter cup, and perish with thy gods; there is yet a smiling sun behind the cloud. Crime shall not abound for ever, death shall not reign eternally. I will ransom the captives from the grave, and bring them into their own land. Who will limit the Holy One of Israel? Who will set bounds to the Most High? I will supersede moral evil by righteousness, and will vanquish death by eternal life. All my promises shall be unfolded in acceptations, with a plenitude above the utmost stretch of thought. In this manner an apostle also dwells on the subject of the resurrection of the dead, with all the sublimity of argument, and an admirable exuberance of words, 1 Corinthians 15:54-58.

Rejoice then, oh my soul, though the figtree shall not blossom; for the sufferings of this present life are not worthy to be compared to the glory which shall be revealed in us, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Hosea 13". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. 1835.