1 Ephraim feedeth on wind, and followeth after the east wind: he daily increaseth lies and desolation; and they do make a covenant with the Assyrians, and oil is carried into Egypt.
2 The LORD hath also a controversy with Judah, and will punish Jacob according to his ways; according to his doings will he recompense him.
3 He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength he had power with God:
4 Yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed: he wept, and made supplication unto him: he found him in Bethel, and there he spake with us;
5 Even the LORD God of hosts; the LORD is his memorial.
6 Therefore turn thou to thy God: keep mercy and judgment, and wait on thy God continually.
7 He is a merchant, the balances of deceit are in his hand: he loveth to oppress.
8 And Ephraim said, Yet I am become rich, I have found me out substance: in all my labours they shall find none iniquity in me that were sin.
9 And I that am the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt will yet make thee to dwell in tabernacles, as in the days of the solemn feast.
10 I have also spoken by the prophets, and I have multiplied visions, and used similitudes, by the ministry of the prophets.
11 Is there iniquity in Gilead? surely they are vanity: they sacrifice bullocks in Gilgal; yea, their altars are as heaps in the furrows of the fields.
12 And Jacob fled into the country of Syria, and Israel served for a wife, and for a wife he kept sheep.
13 And by a prophet the LORD brought Israel out of Egypt, and by a prophet was he preserved.
14 Ephraim provoked him to anger most bitterly: therefore shall he leave his blood upon him, and his reproach shall his Lord return unto him.
Ephraim feedeth on wind, and followeth after the east wind: he daily increaseth lies and desolation; and they do make a covenant with the Assyrians, and oil is carried into Egypt.
[Ephraim feedeth on wind, and followeth after the east wind] The East wind in Palestine, coming from Arabia and the far East, over large tracts of sandy waste, is parching, scorching, destructive to vegetation, oppressive to man, violent and destructive on the sea (Ps 48:7), and, by land also, having the force of the whirlwind (Job 27:21; see Jer 18:17). “The East wind carrieth him away and he departeth, and as a whirlwind hurleth him out of his place.” In leaving God and following idols, Ephraim “fed on” what is unsatisfying, and chased after what is destructive. If a hungry man were to “feed on wind,” it would be light food. If a man could overtake the East wind, it were his destruction. (NOTE: Poc.): Israel “fed on wind,” when he sought by gifts to win one who could aid him no more than the wind; “he chased the East wind,” when, in place of the gain which he sought, he received from the patron whom he had adopted, no slight loss.” Israel sought for the
scorching wind, when it could betake itself under the shadow of God.(NOTE: Cyril): “The scorching wind is the burning of calamities, and the consuming fire of affliction.”
[He increaseth lies and desolation] Unrepented sins and their punishment are, in God’s government, linked together; so that to multiply sin is, in fact, to multiply desolation. Sin and punishment are bound together, as cause and effect. Man overlooks what he does not see. Yet not the less does he “treasure up wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous Judgment of God“ (Rom 2:5).(NOTE: Poc.): “Lying” will signify false speaking, false dealing, false belief, false opinions, false worship, false pretences for color thereof, false hopes, or relying on things that will deceive. In all these kinds, was Ephraim at that time guilty, adding one sort of lying to another.”
[They do make a covenant with the Assyrians and oil is carried into Egypt] Oil was a chief product of Palestine, from where it is called “a land of oil olive” (Deut 8:8); and “oil” with balm was among its chief exports to Tyre (Ezek 27:17; see the note above at Hos 2:8). It may also include precious ointments, of which it was the basis. As an export of great value, it stands for all other presents, which Hoshea sent to So, King of Egypt. Ephraim, threatened by God, looked first to the Assyrian, then to Egypt, to strengthen itself. Having dealt falsely with God, he dealt falsely with man. First, he “made covenant with” Shalmaneser, king of “Assyria;” then, finding the tribute, the price of his help, burdensome to him, he broke that covenant, by sending to Egypt. Seeking to make friends out of God, Ephraim made the more powerful, the Assyrian, the more his enemy, by seeking the friendship of Egypt; and God executed His judgments through those, by whose
help they had hoped to escape them.
(from Barnes’ Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)