on Hosea 3 :4
Many days without a king - Hitherto this prophecy has been literally fulfilled. Since the destruction of the temple by the Romans they have neither had king nor prince, nor any civil government of their own, but have lived in different nations of the earth as mere exiles. They have neither priests nor sacrifices nor urim nor thummim; no prophet, no oracle, no communication of any kind from God.
Without an image ephod - teraphim - The Septuagint read, Ουδε ουσης θυσιας, ουδε οντος θυσιαστηριου, ουδε ἱερατειας, ουδε δηλων: "Without a sacrifice, without an altar, without a priesthood, and without oracles;" that is, the urim and thummim. The Vulgate, Arabic, and Syriac read nearly the same. Instead of מצבה matstsebah, an image, they have evidently read מזבח mizbeach, an altar; the letters of these words being very similar, and easily mistaken for each other. But instead of either, one, if not two, of Kennicott's MSS. has מנחה minchah, an oblation.
What is called image may signify any kind of pillar, such as God forbade them to erect Leviticus 26:1, lest it should be an incitement to idolatry.
The ephod was the high priest's garment of ceremony; the teraphim were some kind of amulets, telesms, or idolatrous images; the urim and thummim belonged to the breastplate, which was attached to the ephod.
Instead of teraphim some would read seraphim, changing the ת tau into ש sin; these are an order of the celestial hierarchy. In short, all the time that the Israelites were in captivity in Babylon, they seem to have been as wholly without forms of idolatrous worship as they were without the worship of God; and this may be what the prophet designs: they were totally without any kind of public worship, whether true or false. As well without images and teraphim, as they were without sacrifice and ephod, though still idolaters in their hearts. They were in a state of the most miserable darkness, which was to continue many days; and it has continued now nearly eighteen hundred years, and must continue yet longer, till they acknowledge him as their Savior whom they crucified as a blasphemer.
on Hosea 3 :4
For the children of Israel shall abide many days - The condition described is one in which there should be no civil polity, none of the special temple-service, nor yet the idolatry, which they had hitherto combined with it or substituted for it. "King and prince" include both higher and lower governors. Judah had "kings" before the captivity, and a sort of "prince" in her governors after it. Judah remained still a polity, although without the glory of her kings, until she rejected Christ. Israel ceased to have any civil government at all. "Sacrifice" was the center of worship before Christ. It was that part of their service, which, above all, foreshadowed His love, His atonement and sacrifice, and the reconciliation of God by His blood, whose merits it pleaded. "Images," were, "contrariwise," the center of idolatry, the visible form of the beings, whom they worshipped instead of God. The "ephod" was the holy garment which the high priest wore, with the names of the twelve tribes and the Urim and Thummim, over his heart, and by which he inquired of God. The "Teraphim" were idolatrous means of divination.
So then, "for many days," a long, long period, "the children of Israel" should "abide," in a manner waiting for God, as the wife waited for her husband, kept apart under His care, yet not acknowledged by Him; not following after idolatries, yet cut off from the sacrificial worship which He had appointed for forgiveness of sins, through faith in the Sacrifice yet to be offered, cut off also from the appointed means of consulting Him and knowing His will. Into this state the ten tribes were brought upon their captivity, and (those only excepted who joined the two tribes or have been converted to the Gospel,) they have ever since remained in it.' Into that same condition the two tribes were brought, after that, by "killing the Son, they had filled up the measure of their father's" sins; and the second temple, which His presence had hallowed, was destroyed by the Romans, in that condition they have ever since remained; free from idolatry, and in a state of waiting for God, yet looking in vain for a Messiah, since they had not and would not receive Him who came unto them; praying to God; yet without sacrifice for sin; not owned by God, yet kept distinct and apart by His providence, for a future yet to be revealed. "No one of their own nation has been able to gather them together or to become their king."
Julian the Apostate attempted in vain to rebuild their temple, God interposing by miracles to hinder the effort which challenged His Omnipotence. David's temporal kingdom has perished and his line is lost, because Shiloh, the peace-maker, is come. The typical priesthood ceased, in presence of the true "priest after the order of Melchisedek." The line of Aaron is forgotten, unknown, and cannot be recovered. So hopelessly are their genealogies confused, that they themselves conceive it to be one of the offices of their Messiah to disentangle them. Sacrifice, the center of their religion, has ceased and become unlawful. Still their characteristic has been to wait. Their prayer as to the Christ has been, "may He soon be revealed." Eighteen centuries have flowed by. "Their eyes have failed with looking" for God's promise, from where it is not to be found. Nothing has changed this character, in the mass of the people.
Oppressed, released, favored; despised, or aggrandised; in East or West; hating Christians, loving to blaspheme Christ, forced (as they would remain Jews,) to explain away the prophecies which speak of Him, deprived of the sacrifices which, to their forefathers, spoke of Him and His atonement; still, as a mass, they blindly wait for Him, the true knowledge of whom, His offices, His priesthood, and His kingdom, they have laid aside. Anti God has been "toward them." He has preserved them from mingling with idolaters or Muslims. Oppression has not extinguished them, favor has not bribed them. He has kept them from abandoning their mangled worship, or the Scriptures which they understand not, and whose true meaning they believe not; they have fed on the raisinhusks of a barren ritual and unspiritual legalism since the Holy Spirit they have grieved away. Yet they exist still, a monument to "us," of God's abiding wrath on sin, as Lot's wife was to them, encrusted, stiff, lifeless, only that we know that "the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live."
True it is, that idolatry was not the immediate cause of the final punishment of the two, as it was of the ten tribes. But the words of the prophecy go beyond the first and immediate occasion of it. The sin, which God condemned by Hosea, was alienation from Himself. He loved them, and "They turned to other gods." The outward idolatry was but a fruit and a symbol of the inward. The temptation to idolatry was not simply, nor chiefly, to have a visible symbol to worship, but the hope to obtain from the beings so symbolized, or from their worship, what God refused or forbade. It was a rejection of God, choosing His rival. "The adulteress soul is whoever, forsaking the Creator, loveth the creature." The rejection of our Lord was moreover the crowning act of apostasy, which set the seal on all former rejection of God. And when the sinful soul or nation is punished at last, God punishes not only the last act, which draws down the stroke, but all the former accumulated sins, which culminated in it. So then they who "despised the Bridegroom, who came from heaven to seek the love of His own in faith, and, forsaking Him, gave themselves over to the Scribes and Pharisees who slew Him, that the inheritance, i. e., God's people, "might be" theirs," having the same principle of sin as the ten tribes, were included in their sentence.
on Hosea 3 :4