Hosea 12:12

And Jacob fled into the country of Syria, and Israel served for a wife, and for a wife he kept sheep.

And Jacob fled into the country of Syria,.... Or, "field of Syria" {m}; the same with Padanaram; for "Padan", in the Arabic language, as Bochart has shown, signifies a field; and "Aram" is Syria, and is the word here used. This is to be understood of Jacob's fleeing thither for fear of his brother Esau, the history of which is had in

Genesis 28:1; though some interpret this of his fleeing from Laban out of the field of Syria into Gilead, Genesis 31:21; and so make it to be introduced as an aggravation of the sin of the inhabitants of Gilead, that that place, which had been a refuge and sanctuary to their ancestor in his distress, should be defiled with idolatry; but the words will not bear such a construction, and the following seem to militate against it:

and Israel served for a wife, and for a wife he kept sheep; and so the last clause is supplied by the Targum, Jarchi, and Kimchi: this was after his flight into Syria, and before he fled from Laban, whom he served seven years for Rachel; and then served him by keeping his sheep seven years more for the same: though it may be understood of his two wives, thus; he served seven years for a wife, for Rachel intentionally, but eventually it was for Leah; and then he kept sheep seven years more for his other wife Rachel; the history of this is in Genesis 29:1. This is mentioned to show the meanness of Jacob the ancestor of the Israelites, from whom they had their original and name; he was a fugitive in the land of Syria; there he was a Syrian ready to perish, a very poor man, obliged to serve and keep sheep for a wife, having no dowry to give; and this is observed here to bring, down the pride of Israel, who boasted of their descent, which is weak and foolish for any to do; and to show the goodness of God to Jacob, and to them, in raising him and them from so low an estate and condition to such eminency and greatness as they were; and to upbraid their ingratitude to the God of their fathers, and of their mercies, whom they had revolted from, and turned to idols.

{m} Mra hdv "agrum Aram", Montanus; "in agrum Syriae", Vatablus, Drusius, Rivet, Schmidt.