Hosea 8:9

For they are gone up to Assyria, a wild ass alone by himself: Ephraim hath hired lovers.

For they are gone up to Assyria,.... Or, "though they should go up to Assyria" {g}; to the king of Assyria, to gain his friendship, and enter into alliance with him; as, when Pal king of Assyria came against them, Menahem king of Israel went forth to meet him, and gave him a thousand talents of silver to be his confederate, and strengthen his kingdom, 2 Kings 15:19; yet this hindered not but that Israel was at length swallowed up by that people, and scattered by them among the nations; for this is not to be understood of their going captive into the land of Assyria, as the Targum interprets it:

a wild ass alone by himself; which may be applied either to the king of Assyria, and be considered as a description of him, to whom Israel went for help and friendship; who, though he took their present, and made them fair promises, yet was perfidious, unsociable, and inhuman, studied only his own advantage, and not their good: or to the Israelites that went to him, who were as sottish and stupid as the ass, and as headstrong and unruly as that, and, like it, lustful, and impetuous in their lusts; running to and fro for the satisfying of them, and taking no advice, nor suffering themselves to be controlled, and, being alone, became an easy prey to the Assyrian lion: or yet they should be as "a wild ass alone by itself" {h}; notwithstanding all the methods they took to obtain the friendship and alliance of the king of Assyria, yet they should be carried captive by him, and dwell in the captivity like a wild ass in the wilderness; and so it is to be understood here, agreeably to Job 24:5; otherwise, as Bochart {i} has proved from various writers, these creatures go in flocks:

Ephraim hath hired lovers; by giving presents to the kings of Assyria and Egypt, to be their allies and confederates, patrons and defenders,

2 Kings 15:19; who are represented as their gallants, with whom Ephraim or the ten tribes committed adultery, departing from God their Husband, and liege Lord and King, and from his true worship; see

Ezekiel 16:26. R. Elias Levita {k} observes, that some interpret the words, "Ephraim made a covenant with lovers".

{g} wle hmh yk "quamvis, etiamsi ascenderint"; so Schmidt observes it may be rendered, though he chooses to render it by "quando", "when they should go up", &c.
{h} wl ddwb arp "erunt onager, qui solitarius sibi est", Schmidt.
{i} Hierozoic. par. 1. l. 3. c. 16. col. 870.
{k} Tishbi, p. 267.