Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 27: Joel, Amos, Obadiah, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at sacred-texts.com
Hosea. 1:2, Take to thee a wife, etc., Whether the marriage of the Prophet was a real transaction or not, has been a subject much controverted by the learned. Bishop Horsley, in his Introduction to his New Translation of Hosea, defends, with his usual ability, the opinion that it was a real marriage. Dr. Henderson, in his work on the Minor Prophets, takes the same view. The strongest point in favor of the opposite sentiment, that it was a kind of a parabolic representation, is the command, similar to this, which is given to the Prophet in the third chapter; and to this Calvin especially alludes. Though the latter command is similar, yet it materially differs in many circumstances; and the design of the transaction is wholly different.
The reason for what is commanded is given in both instances. The first marriage was to represent the defection of this people from God, because “by wantoning the land had grown wanton, that it did not follow Jehovah.” The second contract (for it was no marriage) was to set forth “the love of Jehovah towards the children of Israel.”
There seems to be no ground for the opinion, that the first wife, Gomer, is “the woman” mentioned in the third chapter, who, having been repudiated for her incontinence, was again to be restored. The dowry which the Prophet is said to have given for her, according to the usual manner of those times, clearly shows that it was a new engagement, and not the renewal of a former union. What Dr. Henderson states in favor of what he thinks to have been a reunion, seems to be of no force. The command, he says, is different; it is not “take,” but “love.” The evident reason for this difference is, that it was no marriage but a contract for marriage, as the sequel evidently proves: he “bought” her, she was to “abide” for him, she was not to be for another, and he promised to be for her.
The evident design of the first marriage, whether real or not, was to represent the state of the people at that time, in their idolatry, and the ruinous consequences of that idolatry. The evident design of what is recorded in the third chapter, as Calvin states at large, was to set forth the dealings of God with the people during their exile. As the latter transaction bears much the appearance of a parable, we may reasonably conclude that the first was of the same character.
It may be added, that Marckius, who wrote largely and learnedly on the Minor Prophets, maintains that “children of wantonness,” or of fornications, do not mean spurius children, but those addicted to wantonness; as in the case of the mother, who was not called a woman of fornications because of her birth, but of her lewd conduct. The children, then, were thus called prospectively; that is, with regard to what they would be. Now, if this be true as to the children, the question may be asked, Was not this also the case with the mother; that is, was she not called prospectively “a wife of fornications?” This would certainly be a corrector emblem of the state of the people, who had become idolaters, after God as it were married them, or entered into covenant with them.
Hosea. 1:6, I will take them away, In confirmation of the note on this place, the following texts are adduced: — Gen. 18:26, Gen. 50:17; Ex 23:21; Nu 14:19; Jos 24:19; Ps. 25:18, Ps. 99:8; Isa 2:9. These are all the instances in which the verb נשא is followed by ל, without an objective case: and it means invariably to forgive, and not to take away. And the last text in Isaiah has nearly the very words of this passage, ולא-תשא להם, “and forgive them not.”
Hosea. 2:11, Her new moon, etc., It is the character of poetry to use the singular number in a collective sense; her new moon, not her new moons. Several instances of this we meet with in this chapter: “her vine and her fig-tree” — “her ear-ring and her chain” — “the bird of heaven and the reptile of the earth,” — all these, though in the singular number, are to be understood as including multiplicity. Calvin retains this poetic character of the original. It would have been better if it had been retained in all translations.
Hosea 3:4, Without a statue, etc., “If I may offer a conjecture concerning the difference between these idolatrous statues and teraphim, I would say, that the statues were of large dimensions, set up in public, as objects of popular adoration, [as crucifixes, etc., in Popish countries:] the teraphim were of a smaller size, and for different purposes; kept in the most secret recesses of the temples or consecrated chapels, for magical rites, and rarely, if ever, exposed to public view.
“Thus, since it appears that both the statue and the teraphim of Hosea were impliments of idolatry, no doubt can remain, that the ephod, which is mentioned between the two, is to be understood of the idolatrous ephod, not that which belonged to the holy vestments of the high priest. As it is put between the statue and the teraphim, it may seem, that it may be connected with either: connected with the statue, it will denote the robe with which the idol was clothed: connected with the teraphim, the ephod of the priest of the teraphim. And in this connection (to which, indeed, the structure of the sentence in the original seems to point in preference) I would choose to take it. For thus we shall have idolatry described by the three principal features in its external appearance, — the statue, the public object of popular adoration, — the teraphim, the images of the more secret rites of incantation, — and the sorcerer, or heirophant, conduction the ceremonies, and propounding to the consultors of the oracle the answers he pretended to receive, represented by the ephod, the most remarkable of his robes of office.” — Bishop Horsely
Hosea 4:8, To iniquity they lift up the heart of each, Probably the words are not correctly rendered according to the exposition given by Calvin. As he explains As to iniquity, would be perhaps the best rendering; for his comment is, “that the priests lifted up the soul of each by relieving their consciences by soothing words of flattery.” However true this may have been, yet the meaning of this sentence is, I believe, what I have stated in a note. The rendering I have given removes the anomalies of persons which Calvin notices. The persons who did eat or feed on the sin of the people were evidently the priests, and they were those who raised or lifted up the heart or mind of the people. The affix, their, to iniquity, refers to the priests, and the affix, his, to the heart or mind, refers to the people, and ought to be rendered, their, in our language. Some copies have their appended to the word, נפשם; but this, I have no doubt, has been an attempt, as in other instances, to correct what appeared to be an anomaly. Dr. Henderson renders the line, “And long for their iniquity,” and adds in a note, that נשא נפש, to lift up the animal soul for anything, means to lust after it, long or have a strong desire for it. It has no doubt this meaning; but it means also, to raise up, or guide, or direct the soul, including the mind, the attention, and affections, to an object. The phrase is included, with all its accompaniments, the verb, an objective case, and the proposition אל or אלי, in the following sentence, נפשי אשא אליך יהוה, ‘To thee, Jehovah, my soul I lift up,’ Ps 25:1. See Ps 86:4
Hosea 4:18, Putrid is become their drink, Newcome reads, “He is gone after their wine,” that is, of idols. But this rendering cannot be admitted, as it gives a sense to סר which it nowhere has. Horsley renders thus, — “Their strong drink is vapid;” and has this note, — The allusion is to libations made with wine grown dead or turning sour. The image represents the want of all spirit of piety in their acts of worship, and the unacceptableness of such worship before God: which is alleged as a reason for the determination expressed in the preceding clause, to give Ephraim up to his own ways. “Leave him to himself,” says God to the Prophet, “his pretended devotions are all false and hypocritical, I desire none of them.” Henderson’s rendering is new, but seems unsuitable to the text, — “When their carousal is over, they indulge in lewdness.” What appears to comport best with the words and with the context, is what is given by Dathius, “compotationes eos seduxerunt,” — drinkings have seduced them. He takes סר in a causative sense. Then the literal version of סר סבאם would be, “Turned them aside, or seduced them, has their strong drink.” Drunkenness was ascribed to them in verse 11. If this be the meaning, then we have in this verse three of the prevailing sins of the people — drunkenness — fornication, that is idolatry — and bribery.
With regard to the remaining portion of the verse, both Newcome and Henderson have taken such liberties in clipping and in changing the order of the words, that their versions are wholly inadmissible. Where there is a meaning, and a striking one too, this liberty is by no means to be allowed. Horsley’s version substantially agrees with that of Calvin; and it is this, “Given up to lasciviousness, greedy of gain, (O shame!) are her great men.” The parethetic expression, “O shame!” had been previously suggested by Drusius. “For a long time,” says the Bishop, “I thought myself original and single in this way of rendering: but I have the satisfaction to find, that the learned Drusius was before me in it. He renders thus,’ — Scortando scortati sunt, amant date (O dedecus) protedctores ejus.’” This is certainly a very literal rendering of the original, —
אהבו הבו קלזן מגניה
Wantoning they have become wanton,
‘Bring ye,’ (O shame!) do her protectors love.
Hosea 5:1, A net expanded over Tabor, Striking are the words of Bishop Horsley in connection with this passage, — “The toils and nets are whatever, in the external form of idolatry, was calculated to captivate the minds of men; magnificent temples, stately altars, images richly adorned, the gaiety of festivals, the pomp, and in many instances, even the horror of public rites.”
Hosea 6:5, Thy judgments, etc., Henderson thinks that judgments here are to be viewed in the sense of punishments, and that “thy judgments” mean those alluded to and deserved by Ephraim. That this mode of speaking is not unusual in Hebrew, is no doubt true. But the word here used, commonly rendered judgments, is one of very wide meaning. It signifies not only the sentence pronounced on the criminal, but also the sentence pronounced by God as to what is right or wrong. The latter is very frequently its meaning. Moses speaks of statutes and judgments, משפטים, which the Israelites were to “do,” or observe and keep, (De 4:14.) The Psalmist prays God to teach him his judgments, (Ps 119:108.) Hence precepts, as Horsley renders it, suitably express the meaning. Then “thy” means given to thee, revealed and communicated to thee. The expression, “thy judgments,” admits then no doubt of either of these two meanings. The question is, which of the two is the most suitable to the rest of the sentence, and to the context? To compare inflicted judgments to light going forth, appears not certainly very appropriate; but when the clear teaching of God’s word as to what is right, and just, and equitable, is compared to out-spreading light, there is a striking suitableness. And then the context seems to favor this view.
Hosea 6:9, By consent, etc., Newcome, Horsley, and others, render the line thus, “A company of priests murder in the way to Shechem,” taking שכמה, a shoulder, taken figuratively for consent, as the name of a place. But by this rendering they change the order of the words: דרך, the way, is before the verb to murder, and cannot be construed “in the way to Shechem.” Besides, the following line confirms the rendering of Calvin; for what they are said to do is זמה, a device, a conceived wickedness, or a concerted scheme, which seems to imply a consent.
Hosea 6:11, Judah also did set a plant for thee There is much difference in the meaning attached to this line. The foregoing is certainly its most literal rendering, except that for “plant” some would substitute “harvest:” but the word means both. In all other versions there is something that seems forced. Some then disjoin the next line from this, and connect it with the first verse of the following chapter, and mainly because they cannot see its meaning as connected with this. Now it appears to me, that by this arrangement a confusion is introduced. It must be borne in mind that this section commences in verse 4, in which both Ephraim and Judah are mentioned: but, in the next chapter, Israel or Ephraim is alone spoken of throughout. Hence, to begin the next chapter by introducing Judah, which is evidently meant by “my people,” while the whole chapter refers only to Ephraim, is certainly not to produce order, but rather disorder. The connection of the line with the preceding one is, in my view, made sufficiently clear by Calvin, — that while God was restoring, or endeavoring to restore, the captivity, the dispersed state of his people, (for many of them were taken captives by the neighboring nations long before their final captivity,) — while God was doing this, Judah was engaged in setting the plant of idolatry in the land; and he is said to do this “for thee,” that is, for Ephraim, to further as it were, and assist Ephraim in his idolatry.
The Prophet is supposed to allude to what is recorded in 2Ch 28. And there we see Jewish captives restored, and Ahaz, the king of Judah, was at the same time introducing idolatry into the land: he was making, as it were, a large plantation; for he made “molten images,” and “sacrificed to the gods of Damascus.”
Hosea 9:8, The watchmen of Ephraim, etc. The objection to this, because Ephraim is not in construction in the original with watchman, is not valid; for the latter word is a participle, and used as a personal noun, as is often the case in Hebrew. Literally, it is, “He who watcheth Ephraim.” The rendering of Henderson is far-fetched, and irrelevant, as there is nothing in the context which justifies it. It is this, — “Ephraim expecteth help from my God.” To translate צזפה, “expecteth help,” is without any example. The references, Ps. 5:3, Lam. 4:17, do not bear out the meaning. Besides, the common usage in Hebrew is, when a participle is employed as a verb to express the present time, the auxiliary verb being understood, that it follows the nominative case, and does not precede it as here. It is quite clear that the “watchman” and “the Prophet” is the same, and that he is described “as a snare of the fowler in all his ways.” The only difficulty is in the words, ען-אלהי, “with my God.” If not construed with Prophet, as I have proposed in my note, it may be appended to the first line, and עם may be rendered “before,” or, “in the presence of,” as in 1Sa 2:21, where it is said that Samuel grew עם-יהוה, “before Jehovah.” Grotius suggests that עם here may be taken for people; and so it may, for the punctuists alone have made it especially a preposition. Then it would be, “the people of my God,” a designation of Ephraim according to God’s adoption and their own profession, notwithstanding their idolatry. The meaning still would be nearly the same, for the false prophet, as well as the people, professed God’s name, and claimed to be a Prophet before God: and by this means especially were the people deluded. Satan is never so dangerous as when he pretends to be an angel of light — a servant of God, and an advocate of idolatry — a Prophet in the presence of God, and a fowler to catch men, and to draw them into superstition.
Hosea 10:4, Judgment grows up, etc. Though I gave in a note a view of this sentence different from that of Calvin, yet on looking on the original, I find that the order of the words favors his view. Rendered according to the order of the words it is this, —
And germinate like wormwood does judgment on the furrows of the field.
By Judgment Calvin means religious conduct; I take it to be the administration of justice; but Dr. Henderson, with Grotius and others, considers it to be punishment, inflicted on the people, which seems not suitable either to the comparison or to the context. Newcome’s explanation is, “In these times of confusion, judgment has changed its nature, and has become destructive.” The passage in Am 6:12, seems to determine the meaning here. “Judicium hic accipio pro impia gubernatione principum Israelis, maximè in jure dicendo: quae judicia, cum deberent esse salutaria et grata, acerba et amara fiunt et hominibus perniciosa.” — Rivetus, quoted by Poole.
Hosea 10:9, There they stood. It ought, perhaps, to be, “There they have stood, (steterunt;”) that is, they have continued the same, perverse and corrupt. Horsley says, “They stood;” that is, the Israelites set themselves in array for the attack: which, in this connection, seems to have no meaning. Henderson considers the Gibeonites to be meant, “There they remain,” that is, the same in character as at this day: but this view, no less than the former, seems foreign to the context.
In the next line Newcome and Boothroyd, with several others, following the conjecture of Hobigant, without the countenance of any MS., guided only by a hint given in the Septuagint, make a considerable alteration. They separate the end of the ninth verse, and join it to the beginning of the tenth. The dismembered line and the newly-formed one are thus given, —
“Did not the war overtake them in Gilbeah?
I came against the sons of iniquity and chastised them.”
The first word in verse 10 is changed; באתי is put for באותי. Both Horsley and Henderson very justly reject this emendation.
Hosea 10:15, Thus shall Bethel do to you, Horsley gives the same rendering. Newcome, on the mere authority of the Septuagint, changes the whole sentence, “Thus shall it be done unto you, O house of Israel.” No less frigid and inconsistent with the words in Hebrew is the version of Henderson, “Thus shall he act towards you at Bethel.” The comment of Calvin shows the remarkably striking import of this sentence.
Hosea 11:7, To him on high they call them, etc. Rivetus, as quoted in Poole’s Syn., gives a very different rendering of this clause. In commenting on the Vulgate, which has this version — “Jugum autem impontur eis simul, quod non auferetur — but a yoke will be laid on them together, which shall not be taken away,” Rivetus says, that nothing opposes this meaning, except that the Hebrews say that על here does not mean a yoke, but the high one, that is, God. But the same word, without the ו, which it commonly has, when it means a yoke, occurs in verse 4: and there seems to be a allusion here to what is said there; as there is in the verb יקרא to what is expressed in verse 2. The yoke is considered to be that of captivity. God called them by his prophets to himself, as it is said in the second verse; they turned away from God, yet God continued his kindness, and when they were distressed, he raised up the yoke, that is, relieved them: but now, they being bent on defection, he threatens them with subjugation to a foreign power, and withdraws every hope of relief. Taking this view, we might render the words thus, —
Therefore to the yoke he will call them together;
He will not raise it up;
Or, as Rivetus proposes,
None will raise it up.
Not only is this a literal rendering, but it fits in remarkably with the following as well as with the previous context. The exclamation which follows naturally flows from this denunciation of judgment. The version of Newcome is somewhat like this, but not so literal nor so suitable to the context, —
And though they call on him together because of the yoke,
he will not raise it.
Hos. 11:10, 11, After Jehovah shall they walk, etc Calvin differs from most, if not from all, commentators, as to the meaning of these two verses. It is said that Jehovah “will roar as a lion.” This roaring will cause trembling, — to whom? Most say, to the children of Israel; but Calvin says, to their enemies. But in order to avoid the evident incongruity of applying trembling to the Israelites, the meaning of hastening has been given to the verb חרד, which it is said to have only here and in 2Ki 4:13, its general import being that of trembling or shaking with fear. The Septuagint favors this latter idea, εκστησονται — shall be astounded; and “children from the west” is rendered τεκνα ὐδατων — children of the waters, or, according to another copy, ὑιοι θαλασσης — sons of the sea. The Israelites were not thus designated, but their enemies. But no doubt the last clause has occasioned this mistake, which, according to our version, is, “I will place them in their houses;” which may be rendered, “I will cause them to sit still on (that is, the top of roof of) their houses:” for it is not in, but on, על. The flat roofs of the east were places to which people in fear would likely betake themselves.
Bishop Horsley has here a beautiful disquisition on the progress of the Gospel; he takes roaring for preaching, a singular notion. “The roaring,” he says, “is unquestionably the sound of the Gospel. Jehovah himself shall roar: the should shall begin to be uttered by the voice of the incarnate God himself. The first effect shall be, that children shall come fluttering from the west, a new race of children, converts of the Gentiles, chiefly from the western quarters of the world; — afterwards the natural Israel shall hurry from all the regions of their dispersion, and be settled in their own dwellings,” etc., etc. Though all this is very fine, it has nothing to do with this passage. Speaking of this roaring being applied to the preaching of the Gospel, Calvin says, “This and the like are refinements of which I think the Prophet never thought.
Hosea 11:12, But Judah as yet rules with his God, etc. Notwithstanding what modern critics have said on this verse, the rendering of Calvin, which as to the first line is adopted by Horsley, seems to most natural, and the most literal. Newcome mangles the whole text, assisted by the Septuagint, the Syriac, and Arabic versions, and the Vulgate. Henderson, following Dathius, Boothroyd, and others, affixes a new idea to רד, supported, as they say, by the following texts: Jer. 2:31, Gen. 27:40, Ps. 55:2. There are no other examples, except that the word occurs, as it is thought, in the form of a noun in Lam. 1:7, Lam. 3:19. Now, in none of these places is there anything decisive in favor of the meaning attached in the following version, —
“And as for Judah he is still inconstant with God.”
It is said that the word includes the ideas of being unfaithful, rebelling, wandering at large. Much stronger and clearer examples must be adduced before this meaning can be received. It is always suspicious when anything doubtful or far-fetched is brought forward to explain a text. The meaning of ruling with or before God, as explained by Calvin and by others, such as Rivetus, seems quite satisfactory, and obviates the difficulty felt by Dathius and others, and which obviously induced them to seek a new interpretation.
With regard to the other line, And together with the saints he is faithful, I find no improvement, but otherwise.
Newcome’s version of the whole verse is this, —
“Ephraim hath compassed me about with falsehood,
And the house of Israel and of Judah with deceit;
But hereafter they shall come down a people of God,
Even a faithful people of saints.”
Henderson’s is the following, —
“Ephraim hath encompassed me with falsehood,
And the house of Israel with deceit;
And as for Judah, he is still inconstant with God,
Even with the faithful holy ones.”
So various become versions, when once a license is taken with the text, or with the current meaning of the words. Junius and Tremelius agree with Calvin, except as to time, the past tense is adopted. The last two lines are thus given, —
“Quando Jehudah adhuc dominabatur cum Deo forti,
Et cum sanctis fidelis erat.”
The whole verse, according to this version, is as follows, —
“Surround me did the Ephraimites with falsehood,
And with guile, the house of Israel;
When Judah as yet ruled with God,
And with the saints was faithful.”
By referring to past times, the objection as to the condition of Judah, he being at that time much given to superstition and idolatry, though still adhering to the outward form of true worship, is to a great extent removed. But the remarks of Calvin on this point seem sufficient.
Hosea 12:8, In all my labors, etc. Newcome’s version is very different, he having been led astray, as usual, by the Septuagint, —
“All his labors shall not be found profitable unto him,
For the iniquity wherewith he hath sinned.”
Horsley’s rendering is nearly as far from the Original as this — “All my labors procured not for me what may expiate iniquity.” Henderson’s version is a paraphrase, but materially agrees with that of Calvin, —
“In none of my labors am I chargeable with guilt.”
What he considers the literal rendering is this — “With respect to all my efforts, they shall not find attaching to me iniquity which is sin.” Perhaps the words may admit of a still more literal rendering — “All my labors shall not be found to be an iniquity to me, that is a sin.”
Hosea 12:11, Is there iniquity in Gilead? There is considerable difficulty connected with this passage, and, indeed, with the whole of this chapter, from the eighth verse to the end. The main drift is evidently what is stated by Calvin, and in this most commentators agree. It was clearly the design of the Prophet, in alluding to Jacob and his history, to prove the ingratitude and to beat down the pride of Ephraim. But still, to connect the whole together in a continuous narrative, is no easy task. On this very line there is a great variety. Grotius reads, “Si in Galaade idolum fuit;” Junius and Tremelius, “An in Gilhade iniquitas?” Horsley, “Was there idolatry in Gilead?” Newcome, “Verily, in Gilead there is iniquity;” and Henderson, “Verily, Gilead is iniquitous.”
It appears that Gilead was at this time destroyed; for what is said in 2Ki 15:29, was evidently previous to the time of Hosea. It is there stated that the king of Assyria had taken Gilead, with other cities, and carried the inhabitants captive to Assyria. 79 The reference, then, to Gilead, must have been to its former state. Gilgal being still in the possession of Israel, its state at that time is described. This shows that Grotius and Horsley are more correct than Calvin, Newcome, and Henderson. Gilead is evidently introduced as an instance of the effects of idolatry, and the folly of Israel is exposed in continuing the same idolatry at Gilgal. That I may attempt to exhibit the whole passage from verse eighth to the end, in a connected form, I submit to the reader the following version, —
8. Canaan is he! 80
In his hand are the balances of deceit;
He loves to oppress:
9. Yet Ephraim says, “Surely I am become rich,
I have found substance for myself;
In all my labors they will not find against me
An iniquity that is a sin.”
10. But I, Jehovah, thy God from the land of Egypt,
Will yet make thee to dwell in tents,
As in the days of meeting: 81
11. Thus have I spoken by the prophets,
When I had visions multiplied,
And by the prophets showed similitudes.
12. If Gilead has been iniquitous, (literally, iniquity;)
Surely vain have they become in Gilgal;
They sacrifice oxen, yea their altars
Are like the heaps on the furrows of the field.
13. When Jacob fled to the land of Aram,
Then Israel served for a wife,
And for a wife he kept sheep;
By a prophet also did Jehovah bring Israel from Egypt,
And by a prophet was he preserved.
14. Yet Ephraim has caused the bitterest provocation:
But his blood on himself shalt be left,
And his reproach will his Lord return to him.
Hosea 13:2, Who sacrifices men, etc. Henderson, after mentioning several authors for and against this rendering, strengthens his own, which agrees with our common version, by referring to a rule of syntax laid down by Gesenius; but that rule refers to adjectives and to passive participles, according to the instances given, and not to participles, as in the present case, in an active form. The words here are literally “the sacrificers of men,” which certainly can never mean the men who sacrifice. The words are not in apposition but in regimine. We have in De 18:3, הזבח זבחי, “the sacrificers of the sacrifice,” a phrase similar to the present.
Hosea 13:14, From the power of the grave would I redeem thee, etc. The conditional form is adopted by Grotius and others, but disapproved by Horsley, Newcome, and Henderson. When we consider what precedes this verse, and what follows it, the condition seems the most suitable. Then the expression, “repentance is hid from my eyes,” appears more consistent with a threatening than with a promise, especially as the threatening is continued in the next verse. To repent of evil, and not of good, is the phrase usually found in the Old Testament. It is true that Paul makes use of the expression with regard to the gifts of God, (Ro 11:29,) but the context here seems to favor the other notion.
Hosea 14:2, Bring good. Horsley reads, “Accept the good;” Newcome, “Let us receive good;” Henderson, “Graciously receive us.” 82 The words are וקח-טוב, literally, “and receive,” or “bring good.” The verb means simply to “take’” but then it is used to express taking for one’s self in the sense of receiving, and taking for another in the sense of bringing. Naaman said to Elisha, קח נא ברכה, “Take,” or “receive, I pray, a blessing,” 2Ki 5:15; and Jacob said to Joseph, קחם-נא אלי, “Take,” or “bring them, I pray, to me,” Ge 48:9. See also Ge 15:9; 2Ki 2:20. So the meaning may be either that given by Horsley or by Calvin; and as the latter is more consonant with this passage, and does not blend in sense, as the former does, with the next clause in the verse, it ought to be preferred. But the Bishop’s note must be added, — “Take away all iniquity, i.e., Take away entirely the sinful principle within us. Take away the carnal heart of the old Adam. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. And then, when we are thus begotten again unto holiness by thy Spirit, accept the good, accept as good, what, so regenerate, we shall be enabled to perform.” All this is perfectly true; but the former part is not an explanation of the text; for to take away sin does not mean the renewal of the heart, but the forgiveness of sin. Though they be two gracious acts which go together, they are yet wholly separate and distinct; and to confound them may lead to serious mistakes.
The same verb is used at the beginning of the verse, Take, or bring with you words. As they were to bring words of confession and prayer, so God is solicited to bring good; and to bring good very suitably follows the taking away of iniquity; and then follows the gratitude that is required.
"Do ye think there was more iniquity in the Gileadites, that are already carried away captive, than in you? Surely the rest of Israel is in the same case; they all lie open to the same judgement. ... They sacrifice to their idols in Gilgal also." — Bishop Hall, quoted by Scott.
"God says to the Prophet, Instead of turning to me and keeping to the works of charity and justice, he is a mere heathen huckster. Thou hast miscalled him Jacob; he is Canaan; not Jacob, the godly, the heir of the promise; [but] Canaan, the cheat, the sone of the curse." — Bishop Horsely.
This refers to the meeting or assembling of the people in the wilderness to the tabernacle. The tabernacle was called אחל מוער, the tabernacle of meeting, the very word used here. See Exod. 25:22, Exod. 30:36. But if מוער יטי designate the days of the annual feast of the tabernacles, yet they must be viewed here, as Scott says, with reference only to the manner in which they lived in the wilderness.
The Doctor says, that Horsely is wrong in his philogy in this instance, and adds, that מוכ is used adverbially. No instance is given; and it is difficult to find one. Let it be adduced, and then the philogical accurateness of this rendering shall be allowed. The fact is, that in Hebrew very few words of this kind are taken adverbially: the language deals very sparingly in adverbs. — Ed