Harold E. Lafferty
[31 pages; ~21,000 words.]
Hosea wrote his book after Jonah’s active period, the earliest of the writing prophets; he was contemporary with Amos, Micah, and Isaiah. His name, Hoshea, means deliverer (or salvation: Bullinger). His prophecies were written primarily to the Ten Tribes, but he also gave messages to Judah in the south.
Although the text notes that he prophesied during the reign of Jeroboam son of Joash (Jeroboam II), his ministry also was in effect through the reigns of Samaritan Kings Zechariah, Shallum, Menahem, Pekahiah, Pekah, and Hoshea. This span of time is roughly from BC 753 to BC713.
His work concerns the events preceding the fall of Samaria, an event which he does not record. His reference to it in 13:16 is a horrendous prophecy of Samaria’s termination.
Hos 1:1 The word of the LORD (YHVH) that came unto Hosea, the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash (or Jehoash), king of Israel.
The prophet’s first commandment from the LORD is to take a wife who seemingly is a prostitute – a highly symbolic act in its own right because she would be representative of the Ten Tribes’ whoredoms – for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the LORD.
But the supposition that she was, in reality, a practicing prostitute may be too harsh; she was to be a woman of the Northern Kingdom, however, and as such, was an idolatress, and therefore was regarded as a spiritual prostitute.
The two terms are used interchangeably because both indicate unfaithfulness: a prostitute is unfaithful to her husband, whereas the nation was being unfaithful to her Husband, JHVH, in being idolatrous. The next verse spells out that association.
We will later discover that he was commanded to have children by her.
Hos 1:2 The beginning of the word of the LORD by Hosea. And the LORD said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the LORD.
Note that of this woman, he is commanded to “Go, take ….” Commentators have pointed out that this act symbolized the Land departing from YHWH.
We must stress that the Law had dictated that no priest should marry a harlot. For that reason, we believe that Gomer was not a practicing fornicator as a harlot would be; she is, however, a daughter of Ephraim, and an unfaithful woman.
The wife’s name is Gomer, daughter of Diblaim. She symbolizes the nation; her children symbolize the people of the nation.
Hos 1:3 So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim; which conceived, and bare him a son.
As we know, most Hebrew names have great significance. Gomer means completion, i.e., filling up the measure of idolatry. She is designated as being the daughter of Diblaim; this word means a double cake of figs, and well symbolizes sensual pleasure.
Time has arrived for the prophet to name the child, a boy; he calls him Jezreel. It is interesting that Jezreel is pointing directly to the similarity between “Israel” (Yisrael) of verse 1, and “Jezreel” (Yizrel) of this verse.
It is a figure of speech known as Paronomasia. A f.n. in the Companion Bible gives this information: “The name [Jezreel] is prophetic of coming judgment and future mercy. Jezreel is a Homonym, having two meanings: (1) may God scatter (Jeremiah 31:10); and (2) may God sow (Zechariah 10:9). These bind up the two prophetic announcements. Jezreel, the fruitful field, has been defiled with blood (II Kings 19: 16, 25, 33; 10: 11, 14) and Israel shall be scattered and sown among the nations; but when God’s counsels are ripe, Israel shall be resown in their own land (see 2: 22, 23).”
The Former State
Hos 1:4 And the LORD said unto him, Call his name Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu, and will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel.
Here is yet another of those peculiar circumstances in which something is done by a character in order to fulfill the will of the LORD, but at the same time, the deed(s) done are according to the main actor’s own will.
In this case, Jehu had carried out the judgment of God on the house of Ahab, because it accorded with his own will; but he was (in turn) guilty of murder, because it was not executed purely according to the will of God (that is, his own personal tendency was a part of the deed; he was not merely an objective, disinterested executioner). Jehu would have disobeyed God’s will had it not suited his own interest. This is obvious because Jehu practiced Jeroboam’s idolatries, for which Ahab had been judged. (cf., Bullinger)
The end of the House of Israel was almost in view, lying not much further ahead in time (c. BC700). II Kings 18: 11, 12 details the “breaking of the bow of Israel.”
Hos 1:5 And it shall come to pass at that day, that I will break the bow (destroy the strength) of Israel in the valley of Jezreel.
Hos 1:6 And she conceived again, and bare a daughter. And God said unto him, Call her name Loruhamah: for I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel; but I will utterly take them away (meaning, will take away the kingdom which belongs to them).
His little female child bears another symbolic name: Loruhamah. It means “not compassionated,” but is rendered “not beloved” in Romans 9: 25, and “not having obtained mercy” in I Peter 2:10. In this example, we see clearly the Spirit’s interpretation of its own prophecy!
Hos 1:7 But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will save them by the LORD their God (their YHVH Elohim), and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen.
The reader is not left in the dark as to His weapon of salvation. In Revelation 19: 15, 21, it is delineated as, And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations.
It is likewise in another place said to be the weapon of choice of the Lord Jesus Christ when He appears the second time: and out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword: Revelation 1: 16.
Hos 1:8 Now when she had weaned Loruhamah, she conceived, and bare a son.
And now the prophetess bears a third child. The elapsed time for the conception and weaning of the first two children is probably at least four years; so we can perceive that the LORD is not pressed for time.
The child born is a boy: Loammi. The name means, “not My people.” It is the voice of His awful curse upon them! – an indication of YHVH’s complete disassociation from them.
Hos 1:9 Then said God, Call his name Loammi: for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God.
It is a condition which should persist for many centuries.
The prophecy of their ultimate blessing shall not be exhausted (fulfilled) until the Christ of the Second Advent has destroyed their enemies round about, and assured “peace and safety” for His people, placing His people in its position of supposed vulnerability (a susceptibility that is supposed by Gog) to the Gogian conflict. That end-time blessing is reflected in the next words of the prophet – their Restoration to their Land from all the nations of the earth. (cf., Isaiah 11:11)
The Latter State
Hos 1:10 Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be (shall become) as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God.
This is a definitive statement of immense proportion which has never been able to be said of any People, but it remains to be pronounced upon Israel of the future blessing. At the same time His refusal to recognize them as His people will be reversed.
Note that the “place” or location of the people WHEN both sentences are pronounced, is IN THEIR LAND. So it appears that that great blessing is a condition of their having “returned to Him” as He bade them in Deuteronomy 30: 2-5; Jeremiah 24: 7, q.v.
We learn over and over, that their Father does not leave His people in a state of doubt as to their future welfare for very long! This gracious promise is not intended for any other people except the Children of Israel. The time of its fulfillment lies yet in future time, but draws on apace, as the world passes into the 21st century.
However, the phrase “not My people” demands further consideration.
This verse marks the extreme contrast between the statements of verse 9 – the reversal of their relationship of one to the other, of God to His people.
It is quoted by Paul in Romans 9:25 as relating to those called out from among the Gentiles to the gospel of salvation. It does not refer to the Gentles as a community, but t0 the elect called out of the Gentiles. It is appropriated by Paul to describe the blessing of those called out; one which also shall be obtained by Israel who God had once rejected – to their being reunited with Him in great glory and honor.
This appropriation of scriptural principles such as this is thus validated as a technique of understanding God’s word, but it must always conform to scriptural principles.
The principle is again referenced by Peter, where again it is addressed to the believing Gentiles scattered abroad, Which in time past were not a people (they were Gentiles in reality), but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. 1Peter 2:10
His next words indicate the beginning movement of the bones of the Valley of Dry Bones of Ezekiel 37 – His beginning to regather them in the end time …
Hos 1:11 Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head (Rosh, or Master), and they shall come up out of the land: for great shall be the day of Jezreel.
Readers will be aware that this Rosh Who is appointed (accepted) shall be none other than David My Servant (Ezekiel 37: 25), or the LORD, Jesus Christ.
But that is a future development; their chosen head at that time was Zerubbabel. But he was only for that time. The prophecy shall be exhausted when the Branch of David spoken of by Jeremiah 23: 6 (q.v.) appears among them. As such He is King of Israel, the ultimate meaning of Rosh, or head.
These words bring His purpose to His people full circle. By their gathering together in their land (“returning unto Me”) and by His Second Coming, they obtain His mercy by recognizing Him as their returned Messiah (cf., Zechariah 12, 13; Luke 13:35). A clear secondary fulfillment is seen in the “strangers” from among the Gentiles also being gathered together in Him, blessed beyond measure, and constituted “His people.”
Hos 2:1 Say ye unto your brethren, Ammi (My people); and to your sisters, Ruhamah (pitied one).
Hos 2:2 Plead with your mother (Gomer), plead: for she is not my wife, neither am I her husband: let her therefore put away her whoredoms out of her sight, and her adulteries from between her breasts;
These words designate the divorce which He has granted His people. The word “plead” is indicative of His grappling, or contending with the woman – reasoning with her about her marriage to Him. Jeremiah later described the house of Israel and Judah in terms of His marriage to them, in Jeremiah 31: 31, 32, where God declared to them, I was an husband unto them.
This opportunity for “her” to put away her practice of idolatry must be seen as the LORD’s gracious offer of release from the destiny which He has already pronounced upon Israel; she still has time to amend her ways and return to her husband, YHVH.
The following words indicate that the Father already knows what her decision shall be, and that her destiny shall not change. If she does not change her ways, His intention now becomes crystal clear …
Hos 2:3 Lest I strip her (Israel’s Land and people together) naked, and set her as in the day that she was born, and make her as a wilderness, and set her like a dry land, and slay her with thirst.
Hos 2:4 And I will not have mercy upon her children; for they be the children of whoredoms.
These “children” are the collective individuals of the two nations.
Hos 2:5 For their mother hath played the harlot: she that conceived them hath done shamefully: for she said, I will go after my lovers, that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink.
This adulteress (the nation) was not satisfied with the provender of her rightful Husband, YHVH, but desired more of the fruits of wickedness. She therefore sought abroad for them in the practice of idolatry. Her acknowledgement of the source of her food (bread and water), her clothing (wool and flax), and her luxuries (oil and drink) as being from her heathen “lovers” (Baals, or lords) is a stink in His nostrils, and infuriates the Almighty; His retribution shall be seen as colossally hurtful to them.
Hos 2:6 Therefore, behold, I will hedge up (i.e., shut in, restrain, or entwine) thy way with thorns, and make a wall (Hebrew: a stone wall), that she shall not find her paths.
A wall blocks all means of escape from their iniquitous ways.
But the hedge of thorns refers more directly to internal difficulties – their nearly interminable contention with the very people who become infiltrators of their Land in later history, such as the PLO of today, such as Hamas in Gaza, such as Hezbollah in South Lebanon, and the Edomites (the Palestinian Authority/PLO) of Obadiah’s prophecy.
These internal barriers and challenges are explicitly described as “thorns and briers” among them in Isaiah 5:6 and 7:23 as being physical thorns and briers, a graphic indicator of the desolation and putrefaction of their once verdant land.
But in Isaiah 10: 17 and 17: 4, these symbols morph into personal adversaries of all sorts who become vehement, aggressive foes of His people, of which the Almighty asks the prophet, who would set the briers and thorns against me in battle? I would go through them, I would burn them together. Cf., Obadiah for a graphic example of the meaning of these words!
Hos 2:7 And she shall follow after (eagerly lust after) her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find them: then shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband (cf., Ezekiel 16: 8 in which the Almighty is so named); for then was it better with me than (here supply the ellipsis), than (it is) now.
Having failed to satisfy her lustful cravings in her hurtful pursuit of idolatry, Israel shall later return to the LORD; there shall she realize the wonderful security that He offers her and had provided for her. Her having diverted these gifts to Baal is noted.
Hos 2:8 For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal.
Hos 2:9 Therefore will I return (in judgment), and take away (reclaim) my corn in the time thereof, and my wine in the season thereof, and will recover my wool and my flax given to cover her nakedness.
All these necessaries and their attendant luxuries (wine) were all HIS possessions, not theirs, a condition which they failed to acknowledge in any way.
The wayward, adulterous wife shall lose her advantage and her living. Her debasement shall be unlimited, devastating, and fatal for many of her people as to temporal survival, and fatal to the spiritual welfare for all who persist in their idolatry.
Hos 2:10 And now will I discover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and none shall deliver her out of mine hand.
What does the Almighty mean by the words, “I will discover …?”
Ezekiel 16: 37 bears directly upon this action: Behold, therefore I will gather all thy lovers, with whom thou hast taken pleasure, and all them that thou hast loved, with all them that thou hast hated; I will even gather them round about against thee, and will discover (uncover, and display openly) thy nakedness unto them, that they may see all thy nakedness.
The reference is to the peoples after whom Israel and Judah had pursued as to “religion” and customs – idolatry – the peoples who are “round about.” This phraseology pointedly nominates the remnants of Edom and the Canaanites whom they failed to eradicate, and from whom they failed to remain separate. In the end, any remnants of these alien peoples will behold the root cause of Israel’s demise – see here “nakedness,” – and realize that the Entity with Whom they have been dealing is the God of Israel, a God whose power and glory is in no way comparable to that of their “Allah.”
These corrupting influences after which they had gone astray should continue almost as a personal, living vendetta against God’s people, and finally would rise in the finality to haunt them in physical ways which Israel and Judah had not visualized – to dog their very existence, to vilify and hate them, to slay them by every means (uprisings, suicide bombers, knives, rockets, hate speech), and to make their existence nearly unbearable.
Their resolute resistance against these “discovered” enemies would place burdens upon their finances and ingenuity in the end time, as we have graphically witnessed.
Such stress upon His people would erase their joys, and effectively cancel their divine service, as witness the prophet’s next words. But they shall persist in their resistance to evil.
Hos 2:11 I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts.
These somber words firstly refer forward to the time when “the daily sacrifice shall be taken away” and her new moons and her Sabbaths are effectively abolished.
In the near term (BC604 and 70AD), her ruin should be catastrophic, and her demise complete. Her Land should be desecrated and destroyed, for she recognized not their ultimate source, thinking these and other blessings were furnished by her “lovers.”
But even after Judah’s initial moves toward Restoration to their Land in AD1918 et. seq., their troubles with these enemies became renewed; who could have forecasted that they should once more become personal and intensely nettlesome? Their neighbors “round about” had persisted in their occupation of God’s Land, and were destined to attack them from every side with great armies, striving to erase them from their Land and remove their place.
We see these troubles visibly intensifying after this manner even today, ascending toward the crescendo of the Second Coming, when the LORD shall appear to save His people: Jeremiah 23:6; 33:16: Luke 1: 71-74, q.v.
The result of all these challenges to Israel shall induce stark reality into their thinking! And shall prepare them adequately for their sudden and joyful recognition of Him as their Messiah, as He swiftly dispatches their enemies on every side, clearing His Land of the intruders and interlopers of the centuries, establishing peace and security for them as He finally places His feet upon the Mount of Olives – and His people overwhelmingly recognize Him and repent of their past denials and evil conduct.
Hos 2:12 And I will destroy her vines and her fig trees, whereof she hath said, These are my rewards that my lovers have given me: and I will make them a forest (an uninhabited, dangerous and untamed place), and the beasts of the field shall eat them.
Hos 2:13 And I will visit upon her the days of Baalim, wherein she burned incense to them, and she decked herself with her earrings and her jewels, and she went after her lovers, and forgat me, saith the LORD.
Notice the plural word, “Baalim.” These were the local images of Baal-gad, Baal-berith, Baal-Hermon, Baal-zephon and many others. Their only reward, in the finality, is the vacant, soul-less stare of a stone image (think also “Allah” of our day).
Hos 2:14 Therefore, behold, I will allure her (will “draw” her; this is the language of YHVH’s advances toward His people of this day), and bring her into the wilderness (the wilderness of the people – Ezekiel 20:35) – then conduct them back into their beloved Land) , and speak comfortably unto her.
The entirety of Ezekiel 20: 33-44 outlines many of the wonderful details of this end time salvation (both physical and spiritual) of His People – blessings which shall accrue to all His People. It is an end point which is marked by a very positive event: when I have wrought with you for my name's sake.
As such, that great blessing illustrates the faithfulness of the Father, and the necessity of His fulfilling His unilateral promise as made in Genesis 12, et seq, to Abram and His Seed.
It is a process which shall result in their knowing the LORD as their God: Ezekiel 20:44 And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when (and not until) I have wrought with you for my name's sake, not according to your wicked ways, nor according to your corrupt doings, O ye house of Israel, saith the Lord GOD.
The direct meaning of this dire sentence is that the Almighty will use the might and power of His people of the end time in mighty deliverance – but only in league with the returned LORD Jesus and His Saints – a vast, innumerable company of Immortal earthborns who are energized and motivated by the Spirit which He shall have instilled in them.
Impervious to injury or death, they go forth in legions of fierce warriors, wielding the sword of the Spirit in the abrupt, decisive and fierce execution of His will and way.
Details of their final deliverance and ultimate blessing are recorded in the prophet’s following words …
Hos 2:15 And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope (expectation of blessing): and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.
The occurrence of Achor recalls Joshua 7: 24-26 – the burial place of Achan the son of Zerah, who coveted the goodly garments and the valuable wedge of gold in the spoils of Jericho.
Achan’s name means “troubler,” oddly enough, for Joshua on this occasion utilized the meaning of his name to pronounce judgment upon Achan: “Why hast thou troubled us? The Lord shall trouble thee this day.” Achan’s “trouble” to Israel should begat “trouble” to him, in the following way …
It was the understatement of the decade! Appropriately, in a way certain to bring the point home to the remainder of Israel of that day, they brought Achan (the troubler) to the Valley of Achor (trouble) where he was destroyed by the people, his body, those of his household, his animals, and all his possessions were burned there, and an heap of stones raised over their ashes. Achor is a name related to Achan, and means “trouble.”
But why is Achor connected here with a door of hope?
Because after the expiation (amends, or redress) of Achan’s demise – and likewise, after Israel’s punishment for her whoredoms (idolatry) – their outlook immediately becomes brighter, and more filled with good prospects. The difference is that Israel’s outlook is governed by their repentant and mournful attitude as to their former iniquities …
That is the case here. The utter happiness which Israel shall enjoy in that day is similar to that felt when she was initially delivered from the slavery of Egypt, and the renewed strength and favor from YHVH, that Israel received, once Achan’s sins were disclosed and punished.
Israel’s attitude immediately shifts to that of gratitude and thankfulness for her Father’s blessings. Her vows to her husband are renewed and strengthened.
Hos 2:16 And it shall be at that day (this can only be the day of Israel’s Restoration and after their acceptance of His Messiahship), saith the LORD, that thou shalt call me Ishi (my husband; a male person, a champion); and shalt call me no more Baali (a symbolical name of YHVH – my Lord, or Master – that position being further removed and more impersonal than “husband.”)
Hos 2:17 For I will take away the names of Baalim out of her mouth, and they shall no more be remembered by their name.
Hos 2:18 And in that day will I make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven, and with the creeping things of the ground: and I will break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the earth, and will make them to lie down safely.
In this splendid blessing, her redemption comes! Along with Israel’s redemption comes a strong secondary blessing. All nature with its present pitfalls and danger is brought into a state of compatibility with mankind, as described in Isaiah 11: 6, 7, q.v.
Safety from all enemies and comfort in her own Land is promised in the end time. Her healing and restoration to His favor shall come in one day.
Hos 2:19 And I will betroth thee unto me for ever (Olam, meaning eternally here); yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies.
Hos 2:20 I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the LORD.
All these loving, intimate descriptions indicate the closest of relationships that are attainable by people with one another – or a people with their God; the language evokes an even closer relationship than does marriage, which may be simply arranged, relatively without much affection, an association of convenience, serving mostly biological ends.
Such is not the case here. The terms indicate the deepest, most devoted attachment of the Father to His people (and of them to Him) that can be imagined, one never destined to fade or become “old hat.”
Hos 2:21 And it shall come to pass in that day, I will hear, saith the LORD, I will hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth;
Hos 2:22 And the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil; and they shall hear Jezreel (the Seed of God, which He shall sow there).
The language indicates the most efficient response of all nature to its inhabitants that can be imagined – and of all the people to their Maker. In these words, the unity and the felicity of His kingdom age are expressed, and Israel’s grateful, thankful response is recorded – the “heavens” (the Almighty) and the “earth” (His people) being now in perfect accord.
Hos 2:23 And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God.
This solemn promise brings full circle the original favor which the Father showed to His people – His “wife” in one figure, and His “son” in another – both apt references to His beloved. <HEL>
Hos 3:1 Then said the LORD unto me, Go yet, love a woman beloved of her friend, yet an adulteress, according to the love of the LORD toward the children of Israel, who look to other gods, and love flagons of wine.
Note that in contrast to Gomer, who apparently had died, the prophet was not to “take” her for a wife, but was to “love” this woman. Perhaps her “friend” was Hosea himself, so that the relationship was mutual – the happiest circumstance for another marriage.
Yet she was still an adulteress, by which we believe is meant a woman of the North – an Israelite of the Ten Tribes. Her name is not made known, but her cost is specified …
Hos 3:2 So I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver (shekels), and for an homer of barley, and an half homer of barley:
The price of her purchase (dowry?) is fifteen pieces of silver; it is precisely the price of the redemption of a slave.
A “homer” is equivalent to about eight English bushels, so one and a half homers amounted in full to about 12 bushels of grain. These measures of barley were presumably over and above the price of the 15 shekels of silver.
This “purchase” of a bride may profitably be seen as relating to the price of redemption of the Redeemed of the LORD – the blood shed by the Righteous One, the LORD, Jesus Christ. Cf., I Corinthians 6: 20; 7:23; II Peter 2: 1.
Hos 3:3 And I said unto her, Thou shalt abide for me many days; thou shalt not play the harlot, and thou shalt not be for another man: so will I also be for thee.
For her to “abide” with Hosea is for her to remain faithful to him – not only to his rank as her husband, but also as to his association with the God of Israel. Their relationship was intended to remain stable and unchanging for many years. The significance of this abiding relationship is readily seen in verses 4, 5.
We believe it was tantamount to demanding that she personally abandon her idolatry and return to the LORD – that she follow the direction of her husband.
Yet the relationship did not indicate any abandonment of the displeasure of God with His people Israel of that day. This personal abiding with Hosea did not erase the condition of her people. At the same time, she represented the good fraction of the people which presumably always existed; even in their deepest throes of idolatrous practice a few would have been faithful to God.
This relationship was to be a close, vivid illustration (and earnest) of the future destiny of Israel into the distant future. Read carefully the details that follow to understand this:
The Present and Future States
Hos 3:4 For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim:
The very fabric and vitality of their culture should be absent – their lives in general, vacant, aimless, and in no wise dedicated to God’s love or devotion.
But that sordid state also should come to an abrupt end in the promise that now follows.
Its benefits are almost indescribable.
Hos 3:5 Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; and shall fear the LORD and his goodness in the latter days.
These words, “in the latter days,” are adjudged always to refer to the time of Messiah’s Second Coming – that of David their King (or perhaps it might be considered His First Coming, in the case of the Jews, for they refuse to believe that He has already come to them). The result shall be the complete reversal of their then-current attitude toward Him and joyous reception of His blessings of the end time.
It is important that Believers recognize that His People are in the midst of these precise times today! <HEL>
Verses 1 - 14
The prophet now recapitulates the conditions elaborated in verse 4 of chapter 3. He further defines His disagreement with “the inhabitants of the Land,” which means the tribe of Judah. The words spell out a true definition of the reason(s) for the People’s estrangement from Him.
Hos 4:1 Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.
The use of the word “controversy” (Hebrew, riyb) indicates a legal contest or a judicial inquiry or cause. It is far graver than a mere difference of opinion, especially in opposition to the God of Israel!
It is a contest which only He may adjudicate and settle.
God’s given reasons for this controversy are numerous, and continue …
Hos 4:2 By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood (Bullinger glosses this as “murder follows murder”).
These vile transgressions are certain to bring retribution upon them from God.
Hos 4:3 Therefore shall the land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein shall languish, with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven; yea, the fishes of the sea also shall be taken away (the latter three classes are included in the ranks of the mourners; even nature itself poetically “languishes”).
Hos 4:4 Yet let no man strive, nor reprove another: for thy people are as they that strive with the priest.
Their waywardness is so intense and deeply-ingrained that strife about them will be useless. Their errant course is set in stone for the time.
Extreme consequences are inevitable.
Hos 4:5 Therefore shalt thou fall in the day, and the prophet also shall fall with thee in the night, and I will destroy thy mother (the entire nation). The rudders of their entire vessel are compromised, their ability to guide and counsel, decimated.
Incriminations and Threatenings
Hos 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge (specifically, the knowledge of God): because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee (the rejected One now puts forth His own rejection), that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.
Hos 4:7 As they were increased, so they sinned against me: therefore will I change their glory into shame.
Hos 4:8 They eat up the sin (Hebrew, chatta’ah, the sin-offering, which was NOT to be eaten (Leviticus 6:30), but to be offered as a whole burnt offering – all of its substance dedicated to God) of my people, and they set their heart (the Hebrew is nephesh, their innermost being) on their iniquity.
Hos 4:9 And there shall be, like people, like priest: and I will punish them for their ways, and reward them their doings.
Israel, like all other peoples, exhibits the general character of its leaders – in this case, its priests. Their conduct is morally inseparable from that of the people to whom they minister.
Hos 4:10 For they shall eat, and not have enough: they shall commit whoredom (idolatry), and shall not increase: because they have left off to take heed to the LORD.
Their ravenous appetite for transgression cannot be satiated nor filled as their attrition advances. Their spiritual “diet” is severely lacking in beneficial caloric content and quality.
Hos 4:11 Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the heart.
Their continuing idolatry (whoredoms) leads them further down the steep descent toward the inevitable condemnation of their LORD.
Instead of consulting the word of the LORD, they ask advice from other sources, consulting sticks and other inanimate objects instead of their God. They imagine receiving answers from these objects, deluded by their adulterous appetites.
Hos 4:12 My people ask counsel at their stocks (their idols, made of wood), and their staff declareth unto them (referring to their practice of divination by rods): for the spirit of whoredoms hath caused them to err, and they have gone a whoring from under their God.
The parabolic enactment of Gomer having left Hosea is reflected in their now having left their God.
Hos 4:13 They sacrifice upon the tops of the mountains, and burn incense upon the hills, under oaks and poplars and elms, because the shadow thereof is good: therefore your daughters shall commit whoredom, and your spouses shall commit adultery.
This phraseology refers to the “high places” upon which altars and groves were traditionally placed by their acolytes ... at locales thought to be nearest to their “gods” who, like YHVH, they deemed to dwell in the heavens.
Hos 4:14 I will not punish your daughters (who literally became temple-women, or literal prostitutes, in league with the mores of their neighbors’ “worship” of the “gods and goddesses” which they now adored) when they commit whoredom, nor your spouses when they commit adultery (an indication that the womens’ spouses likewise took part in such illicit conduct): for themselves are separated with whores (i.e., named with and designated as being the same as the pagan temple prostitutes, both male and female), and they sacrifice with harlots: therefore the people that doth not understand shall fall.
This additional explanatory phrase “that doth not understand” shows clearly that more than simple “knowledge” is lacking here; one may think he understands the principle of valid worship, but without understanding his knowledge is feckless. SeePsalm 119: 104; Proverbs 4: 5, 7; Proverbs 16: 16.
Therefore, such a worshipper’s support shall be utterly removed, and God’s favor detached from His people. They are left on their own. Isaiah 44: 18-20, q.v., gives a fuller description of the sordid details.
Hos 4:15 Though thou, Israel, play the harlot (a wonton woman, zanah, an harlot; a metonym for their consistent idolatry) yet let not Judah offend; and come not ye unto Gilgal, neither go ye up to Bethaven, nor swear, The LORD liveth.
Gilgal and Bethaven were worship centers both legitimate and illegitimate to the People.
They were indeed sacred places, in that, at Gilgal (“a rolling thing” and therefore exhibiting a character that now is unstable – much like the high desert chaparral of the American west which is blown capriciously by the winds of chance) the first Passover in the Land was kept (Joshua 5:10).
But later, it was at Gilgal that the people rejected JHVH as their King, and desired a human king to rule over them; they got king Saul as a result of this rebellion! I Samuel 11: 14, 15.
Still later, Jeroboam built an idolatrous temple at Gilgal, at which he commanded the people to worship instead of at the Temple in Jerusalem. Cf., Hosea 9:15.
The name Bethaven means “house of vanity,” or “house of naught.” Bethaven was their first vantage point as they viewed their new Land (Joshua 7: 2), giving the people a foretaste of the good things that lay in store for them if they continued to pursue God’s ways. Bethaven was located immediately east of Bethel and was later considered as one place with Bethel.
But now the site was wholly dedicated to the pagan gods that they worshipped. There, Jeroboam had installed golden calves as the new gods of Israel. Jeremiah 48: 13 refers directly to these calves of Jeroboam. The other location of such abomination was Dan.
Bethel (house of God) had become Bethaven (house of vanity) as a result of occurrences there (cf., I Kings 3: 1).
Hos 4:16 For Israel slideth back as a backsliding heifer (headstrong, restive, resistant to authority; is this a subtle reference to the contrary calves of Jeroboam?): now the LORD will feed them (not as recalcitrant heifers, but) as a lamb (a young ram of more than a year of age) in a large place (a place where unhindered movement is allowable; heathen lands, to which the People were later consigned on two occasions; not a good result. As such, they are entirely subdued, and sullied).
Hos 4:17 Ephraim is joined (signifying mated to, or united) to idols: let him alone.
His present intent is to allow the People’s erratic ways to go unchecked, their idolatry, for which ultimately they shall be punished – and even later, shall be redeemed and made whole.
Hos 4:18 Their drink is sour: they have committed whoredom continually: her rulers with shame do love, Give ye.
The Hebrew for “give ye” is yahab, and illustrates a figure of speech called Metallage – in which the fact of continual whoredoms (idolatry) is changed to the new thought of the rulers loving continually to command, (“Give ye) sacrifices” with, at the same time, contempt FOR the sacrifices that YHVH commanded – Bullinger footnote).
The corrupt practice of such is readily understandable, agreeing, as it surely does, with the rebellious hearts of Israel of the day.
Hos 4:19 The wind (ruach, here referencing the “spirit” of idolatry) hath bound her up in her wings, and they shall be ashamed because of their sacrifices.
In a certain sense, they have inherited the wind – the ruach – which drives them errantly, and is invisible, untouchable, insensible, which although temporally beneficial to them, is fatal when removed. <HEL 4 P>
The word of the LORD now turns even more decidedly pessimistic. He has come to a concrete decision as to their punishment … the entire society is addressed and condemned!
Hos 5:1 Hear ye this, O priests; and hearken, ye house of Israel; and give ye ear, O house of the king; for judgment is toward you, because ye have been a snare on Mizpah, and a net spread upon Tabor.
Mizpah is a watchtower; it is essentially a symbol for keeping antagonists apart (Genesis 31: 49), not bringing unity, as is used today. As a matter of passing interest, Hosea is said to have been buried at Mizpah (footnote in C. B.).
Tabor rises to a moderate (but dominating) height above its surrounding plain in the mountainous region of Samaria, affording similar warning of approaching enemies. It too may be considered a watchtower.
Both are symbolic of affording far-distant vision. But Israel has not exhibited distant vision – in no effective way visualizing the shame that it was bringing on itself; so judgment from the LORD is in order.
The prophet’s next words support this just decision.
Hos 5:2 And the revolters (the deniers of YHVH’s leadership and sovereignty) are profound to make slaughter, though I have been a rebuker of them all.
Hos 5:3 I know Ephraim, and Israel is not hid from me: for now, O Ephraim, thou committest whoredom, and Israel is defiled.
Ephraim IS “Israel;” it was also the largest of the Ten Tribes. Thus, it is often put for Israel as a whole.
Genesis 48 recounts the appointment by Jacob of Ephraim over Manasseh – the two sons born to Joseph in Egypt. They were given their separate land allotments in place of Joseph so that the favored son, Joseph, inherited a double portion from Jacob.
As such a responsible receptacle of Jacob’s grace, Ephraim (Israel) should have acted more accountably by their inheritance and their heritage. But they had not done so. Their intransigent stubbornness is clearly conveyed in Hosea’s words that follow …
Hos 5:4 They will not frame their doings to turn unto their God: for the spirit of whoredoms is in the midst of them, and they have not known the LORD.
Again, their lack of “knowledge” of God and His ways is at the root of their shame.
Hos 5:5 And the pride of Israel (indicating the Almighty One, Himself) doth testify to his face: therefore shall Israel and Ephraim fall in their iniquity; Judah also shall fall with them.
In this verse, the reader (hearer) receives the hints that not only should Israel fall because of these dire shortcomings, but so shall Judah. However, his message is not being given directly TO Judah. Their fates are common – exile and dispersion; but first and more to Israel than to Judah at the moment.
In this effective way, God withdraws His favor from them.
Hos 5:6 They shall go with their flocks and with their herds to seek the LORD; but they shall not find him; he hath withdrawn himself from them.
Hos 5:7 They have dealt treacherously against the LORD: for they have begotten strange children: now shall a month (chodesh – a new moon; thus a month, or a short time) devour them with their portions.
Their punishment draws on apace; they are here put on notice of its imminent arrival.
The next verse references Gibea. There the prophet instructs the blowing of the Shofar of alarm (cf., Joel 2:1).
That action is meant to warn Ephraim, and to bring their attention vividly to a historical event which they should remember clearly.
The transgression of Gibeah is detailed in Judges 19 – where the subject and his concubine (really she was his wife, as the text indicates) was traveling and stopped overnight in Gibeah, where a sordid tale is reenacted – retribution upon the rebellious wife of the traveler of the narrative, who had gone to his wife’s father’s house to retrieve her.
The men of Gibeah were rabidly homosexual, similar to those of Sodom, as exhibited here. These were sons of Benjamin, yet they seem to have lived in Ephraim (Israel) - outside their allotted territory (?).
Here in verse 8, the stigma of Gibeah is remembered, and Ephraim's corruption was vividly exhibited. Gibeah was the home of King Saul of Israel.
Hos 5:8 Blow ye the cornet (shofar) in Gibeah, and the trumpet in Ramah: cry aloud at Bethaven, after thee, O Benjamin.
Gibeah was a sordid, wicked city, as illustrated by the account in Judges 19.
But what significance has Ramah?
Ramah was the home of the Prophet Samuel – I Samuel 7: 17. Samuel had built an altar to the LORD at Ramah, and it had become a center of worship for Israel.
At Bethaven (meaning, the house of vanity), Jeroboam had erected one of the golden calves which he made in order to subvert Israel and restrain the people from maintaining their former ties with YHVH in Jerusalem. It as an “alternative” worship center: I Kings 12: 28-29.
All these centers of interest had become utterly corrupt at the time of this prophecy. There shall be results emanating from this condition …
Hos 5:9 Ephraim shall be desolate in the day of rebuke: among the tribes of Israel have I made known that which shall surely be.
But in his overview of conditions with Israel, Hosea is given a revelation concerning Judah as well as Israel: his condemnation of the southern Kingdom continues for several verses …
Hos 5:10 The princes of Judah were like them that remove the bound (the “landmark” of Deuteronomy 19: 14 and 27: 17, which they were commanded not to remove, or displace), therefore I will pour out my wrath upon them like water.
Hos 5:11 Ephraim is oppressed and broken in judgment, because he willingly walked after the commandment (in Hebrew, tzav, or injunction; in this case the illicit dictum of Jeroboam and succeeding kings of Israel).
Hos 5:12 Therefore will I be unto Ephraim as a moth (uselessly flitting about near the light), and to the house of Judah as rottenness (literally, as the worm of decay).
Hos 5:13 When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah saw his wound, then went Ephraim to the Assyrian, and sent to king Jareb (Assyrian inscriptions inform that Jareb was the birth name of the usurper, Sargon II of Assyria, an oppressor of Israel who was dispatched by the LORD to “cure” Israel’s malady): yet could he not heal you, nor cure you of your wound.
Note the close order of double condemnation upon both Ephraim and Judah; Hosea was a prophet of Israel, but his words impacted Judah as well.
Hos 5:14 For I will be unto Ephraim as a lion, and as a young lion to the house of Judah: I, even I, will tear and go away; I will take away, and none shall rescue him.
Hos 5:15 I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early.
The exasperation of YHVH is clearly evident in these words. He is so disgusted with the behavior of His people that He leaves them on their own for a long season. He well knows, however, that in future time, they shall willingly seek Him and His counsel in humble repentance.
But this event, as borne out by historical outworking, will be a long time in coming to His People. The details of its accomplishment are poignantly recorded in Zechariah 12 and 13. In this detailed account of that yet future time, it is assured that their (Israel’s) redemption cannot ensue until they acknowledge their offense. Zechariah’s prophetic words forecast this particular event. <HEL 4P>
Immediately, their response of the future is recorded. It is the letter-perfect fulfillment of the last verse, above.
Hos 6:1 Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up.
The next words of the text inherently support our belief that the LORD here forecasts from the prophet’s day, at least two millennia of separation of His People from Himself.
A thousand years with the Lord is as a “day” (II Peter 3:8), so on that basis, the prophet is here indicating that after two thousand YEARS, He “will revive us.”
Historical outworking has proven this accurate!
Alert Believers realize that in our day (2018) the return of Israel has been in progress with great impetus since 1947-48 – a period of 70 years – and that the events of these days are leading directly to the complete revivification of His people.
They are now on the cusp of that event, for their recent history is absolutely rife with fulfilled prophecies, a hugely significant one of which includes their emergence from the Valley of Dry Bones, and their new constitution as “an exceeding great army” as in Ezekiel 37:10.
Hos 6:2 After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live (be resurrected from the nations of their dispersal, foreshadowed by Daniel 12: 2,3, at that time being opened to the possibility of life everlasting – a benefit which could not be attained by the Law of Moses): in his sight.
For the nation to “live” in His sight is for them to receive a new lease on life in their own Land – a sure and certain tenure sanctioned by the Almighty, which cannot in future time be attenuated or restricted in any fashion or by any power or force.
In Ezekiel 38: 8, 11, 14 this condition is thrice described as their dwelling “safely” (the Hebrew word translated “safely” is betach – a place of refuge, assurance, and confidence, all assured by the Word of God (the LORD, Jesus Christ) in their land.
This condition leads to a joyously sober realization of their inherent security from their enemies.
At this stage in their Restoration, their Proximal Islamic enemies shall have been entirely destroyed – immobilized for eternity – and no longer be any threat to their polity.
With the LORD Jesus Christ having then ascended the Throne of His father David, and being in complete control of His people and Land, there remains no possibility of any invader gaining any success against them – a fact which at that time is imminently to be tested by the Gogian host which even at that time is a-building, and preparing to come against the new King and His nascent Kingdom.
In that day, their “knowledge,” or realization of His protection, is SURE, in contradistinction to their relationship to him in the prophet’s day.
Hos 6:3 Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.
It is the dawn of Zion’s Glad Morning. It is a day described by Isaiah 35: 10; Isaiah 51: 3, 11. The prophecy of Joel 2:23 evokes this blessed time of abundance of rainfall upon the dry and thirsty Land – a harbinger of the most profuse divine blessing of His people conveyed by His Spirit upon them as a nation.
Incrimination and Threatening
Hosea 6: 4 – 13: 8
The literary structure of the designated text is illustrated by Bullinger: he defines this structure as Extended Alternation.
Hosea 6:4 Divine Forbearance
6: 5 to 10: 15 Incorrigibility
11: 7 to 7 Contrasted Conduct
11: 8 – 11 Divine Forbearance
11: 3 to 12: 14 Incorrigibility
13: 1 – 8 Contrasted Conduct
The prophet’s attention is abruptly turned back to the then-present day.
His attitude of despair as to their state is readily apparent in the following words:
Hos 6:4 O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee? for your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away.
All readers know the capricious character of a “morning cloud,” which forms and dissipates almost as a whim of nature, its feathery wisps consolidating and dispersing in response to the unstable and uncontrollable breath of the strong currents of air aloft, shifting its shape and dissipating its form in blind ways which cannot be predicted.
The same blind caprice is operative upon the condensation of water (the dew of the herbs) which evaporates quickly from the grass of the fields as the sun rises and brings the heat of the day. Like the cloud, it is here now – and gone in a few moments.
Therefore, He has seen fit to oppress His people by certain seemingly capricious means – to instruct them in His ways by obvious means, which should have been heeded by them.
Hosea 6: 5 to 10: 15
Hos 6:5 Therefore have I hewed them (tried to shape them) by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of my mouth (when they refused to respond): and thy judgments are as the light that goeth forth (shining brightly for all to see).
These pervasive, revealing judgments, as light, should have produced the objects of His desire – mercy, and lovingkindness, not requiring their sacrifices – and the true understanding of Him and His programmes for them. But they did not.
Hos 6:6 For I desired mercy (Hebrew, chesed, or lovingkindness), and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.
The Master invoked this passage when confronted by the Pharisees: Matthew 9: 13, and 12: 7, q.v., illustrating its practical application to those blind servants.
Hos 6:7 But they like men (Hebrew, adam, or fleshly, raw mankind) have transgressed the covenant: there have they dealt treacherously against me.
His oppressive instructions have not taken their desired effect; His people have not responded as they should have done. They have responded “like men,” that is, mere men – not like the elect servants of God.
The prophet’s next words must be taken at face value – an excoriating condemnation of His people of the day, of both Israel and Judah …
Hos 6:8 Gilead (Ramoth-Gilead (?) which was a priestly city and one of refuge) is a city of them that work iniquity, and is polluted (contaminated) with blood (Hebrew, dam, the life fluid, which, when shed, brings death).
Hos 6:9 And as troops of robbers wait for a man, so the company of priests murder in the way by consent: for they commit lewdness.
Hos 6:10 I have seen an horrible thing in the house of Israel: there is the whoredom of Ephraim, Israel is defiled.
Hos 6:11 Also, O Judah, he hath set an harvest for thee, when I returned the captivity of my people.
The sense of these last two verses seems to bear upon the near-term destinies of the two people: Israel (the Ten) and Judah (the Tw0). The “harvest” is a time of reckoning or judgment for Israel. It shall be also a time of healing and of salvation for Judah at its return to the Land.
Verse 10 indicates the “defilement “of Israel, which resulted in her dispersion into Assyria of the nations – and her subsequent “lost” condition.
Israel was never returned to her place by any repatriation or resettlement in the Land.
But not so with Judah. She was also soon conquered, and her people deported to Babylon – to a single destination – from which she was later returned.
However, when her Messiah appeared in Judah, born at the appointed time and place, being manifested to them by miracles and signs and wonders, putting forward His life in the prescribed way, dying as prophesied, and rising from the dead as well as ascending to the heavens in their sight, that generation had no excuse for the blindness it exhibited.
As a result, Judah was conquered and devoured a second time, their Temple destroyed again, and their people dispersed – this time into all nations – but their “captivity” was here designated to “return” – an unparalleled event to which present-day Believers have been eyewitnesses.
The prophet does not here address the details of the events of the Return, or events subsequent to this second regathering of his people. <HEL 4P>
Now the prophet makes clear the willingness of the LORD to heal His people, but their evil response is consistently and persistently against Him, making reconciliation impossible on His terms.
Hos 7:1 When I would have healed Israel, then the iniquity of Ephraim was discovered, and the wickedness of Samaria: for they commit falsehood; and the thief cometh in, and the troop of robbers spoileth without.
The nation is being spoiled within by thieves coming inside, and by other robbers who threaten, but remain without. The entire household is therefore at great hazard.
Hos 7:2 And they consider not in their hearts that I remember all their wickedness: now their own doings have beset them about; they are before my face.
Hos 7:3 They make the king (who as their leader, is their partisan in evil) glad with their wickedness, and the princes with their lies.
Hos 7:4 They are all adulterers, as an oven heated by the baker, who ceaseth from raising (or “rising,” as from sleep; that is to say, after the baker has reached a rest-point in his night’s work, he lies down to rest without a care until time to arise; during the interim, the yeast has time to “leaven” the dough, making it “rise”) after he hath kneaded the dough, until it be leavened. See verse 6.
Hos 7:5 In the day of our king the princes have made him sick with bottles of wine; he stretched out his hand with scorners.
Hos 7:6 For they have made ready their heart like an oven, whiles they lie in wait: their baker sleepeth all the night; in the morning it burneth as a flaming fire. The people are set upon an evil course of dedicated intent, just as the fireman lights an oven, pre-heating it to operating temperature and getting it ready for their workday.
Hos 7:7 They are all hot as an oven, and have devoured their judges; all their kings are fallen: there is none among them that calleth unto me.
These kings were of the two houses of Omri and of Jehu: of these, Bullinger enumerates these as having been slain (to have “fallen”): Nadab, Zimri, Tabul, Jehoram, Zechariah, Shallum, Pekahiah, and Pekah (see C. B. f.n. on this verse).
Hos 7:8 Ephraim, he hath mixed himself (similar to the way yeast or leaven permeates dough, making it “rise,” Ephraim’s evil permeates the people) among the people; Ephraim is a cake not turned (a People unchanged, or not converted, as a pancake which, being “unturned,” is burned on one side and moist on the other, making it inedible, or unacceptable to Him).
Ephraim’s adverse behavior has become mixed (as yeast pervades dough) with all the people; they are saturated by Ephraim’s influence toward evil.
Hos 7:9 Strangers have devoured his strength, and he knoweth it not: yea, gray hairs are here and there upon him, yet he knoweth not.
The picture drawn here seems to be that of an old man with salt-and-pepper hair (gray hairs) – implying a degree of senility or madness of which the subject is completely unaware.
The effect of this derangement is devastating to him, and at the same time, unrealized by him. The nation has been set on its irreversible course. Their “return” to the LORD is refused by them ...
Hos 7:10 And the pride of Israel testifieth to his face: and they do not return to the LORD their God, nor seek him for all this.
Hos 7:11 Ephraim also is like a silly dove (indicating them as innocent, unaware, and even oblivious) without heart: they call to Egypt, they go to Assyria.
Hos 7:12 When they shall go, I will spread my net upon them (put a snare or net before them to restrain or redirect them); I will bring them down as the fowls of the heaven; I will chastise them, as their congregation hath heard.
Hos 7:13 Woe unto them! for they have fled from me: destruction unto them! because they have transgressed against me: though I have redeemed them, yet they have spoken lies against me.
Hos 7:14 And they have not cried unto me with their heart, when they howled upon their beds: they assemble themselves for corn and wine, and they rebel against me.
Hos 7:15 Though I have bound and strengthened their arms, yet do they imagine mischief against me.
Hos 7:16 They return, but not to the most High: they are like a deceitful bow (indicating a pretended loyalty, but insincere as a bowman’s deflected shot intended to miss the mark): their princes shall fall by the sword for the rage of their tongue: this shall be their derision in the land of Egypt.
The deceitful bow is an interesting simile. This has been taken as a bow that is defective, not allowing Israel, who did not have God in their life, to “shoot straight.” This could be a component of the figure.
Our reason for the meaning as stated above is because the Hebrew word for "deceitful" is remiyah, meaning remissness or treachery – deceitfulness, all of which seem to put the responsibility on the archer's use of the bow – aiming wide, or short of the mark. It is tantamount to their consistent claim that they loved God and did serve Him, all the while serving the idols which they had put in their high places. The guile, slack, and slothfulness of the archer seem to be more where the prophet's emphasis lies, and not a defective weapon. <HEL I28>
Hos 8:1 Set the trumpet to thy mouth (indicating an occasion for alarm). He (an ellipsis is necessary here: “He (it: the approaching, threatening judgment of Ephraim …) shall come as an eagle against the house of the LORD, because they have transgressed my covenant (the Law), and trespassed against my law.
The eagle is a raptor, equipped with sharp talons and a rapacious, curved beak designed to rip and tear apart. Its prey seldom escapes its claws. The fatal, fearsome nature of Assyria is here represented. Such shall be the character of Ephraim’s coming judgment as the vicious kings of Assyria continue to threaten her.
A similar assault upon Judah of Habakkuk’s day is described in Habakkuk 1: 6-9, where other terrible figures are introduced: the prophet writes …
Habakkuk 1:6 For, lo, I raise up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, which shall march through the breadth of the land, to possess the dwelling places that are not theirs. 7 They are terrible and dreadful: their judgment and their dignity shall proceed of themselves. 8 Their horses also are swifter than the leopards, and are more fierce than the evening wolves: and their horsemen shall spread themselves, and their horsemen shall come from far; they shall fly as the eagle that hasteth to eat. 9 They shall come all for violence: their faces shall sup up as the east wind, and they shall gather the captivity as the sand.
Eagles are introduced into this narrative as in Hosea.
This reference to the east wind (ruach) evokes the phenomenon in Israel now known as khamsin, the hot, oppressive, stifling east wind off the deserts of Jordan and Saudi Arabia, which brings high temperatures, and fine airborne silt (representing pollution) into the land, dulling all colors, limiting visibility and sapping the life of all green plants, dehydrating and wilting them almost immediately. The horsemen, the eagles, and the east wind do not bode well for Ephraim.
Hos 8:2 Israel shall cry unto me, My God, we know thee.
But this plea, in light of Ephraim’s obvious rebellion against Him, shall be as ineffective as the cry of some who stand before the Judge of all the Earth in the end time, cited in Matthew.
Matthew 7:20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. 21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? (These are clearly saying, My God, we know thee) 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
“I never knew YOU.” It is a dreadful prospect for those whose faith has been misdirected to their own ends – to “works” instead of faith; the former is in these words shown insusceptible to salvation.
In their arrogance, the Pharisees claimed to have a “lock” on the ultimate understanding of God’s word. In their rituals and practices, they excluded nearly everyone else. Sadly, this leaven persists today within the brotherhood. Even the Pharisees’ name is said to indicate exclusivity. In Jesus’ day, He excoriated them and their practice of outward righteousness, calling them “whited sepulchers” on more than one occasion, accusing them of being full of dead men’s bones. Matthew 23: 27.
Hos 8:3 Israel hath cast off the thing that is good: the enemy shall pursue him.
The Hebrew of this verse contains gems of understanding that we must consider. The first phrase in Hebrew is Yishrael zanach tob, which may be translated "Israel has cast off the Gracious One." It is a far more meaningful translation than that given in the text because it reveals exactly Who has been “cast off;” it is their heavenly Father and His laws.
Hosea later returns to this form of words in 14: 2 with these phrases: Hosea 14:2 - Take with you words, and turn to the LORD: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips. The Hebrew word is again, tob, the overall meaning of the phrase being, ultimately, “receive us Thou Giver of Grace” – indicating the Almighty Himself – for, notice carefully the next phrase: “so will we render [to Him] the calves of our lips.” Here, prayer is indicated as a sacrifice of the lips ...
These words closely associate the Giver of Grace with God as Acceptor of those sacrifices of prayer and confession described as “the calves (sacrifices) of our lips.”
The Apostle Peter brings these principles home in the text of …
1Peter 2:5 - Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. 7 Unto you therefore which believe He is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the Stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, 8 And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. 9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: 10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
Those spiritual sacrifices include prayer – earnest, heartfelt, profound expressions of thanksgiving, praise, and adulation, which His children are required to offer … without ceasing, in I Thessalonians 5: 17, 18: In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
These godly sacrifices are set in stark contrast to their physical sacrifices to their idols of gold, silver, and wood which Jeroboam and others had commissioned.
Hos 8:4 They have set up kings, but not by me (the spurious kings including Shallum, Menahem, and Pekah): they have made princes, and I knew it not: of their silver and their gold have they made them idols, that they may be cut off.
Now the Almighty’s words assume the identity that Ephraim has attributed to the golden calves of Jeroboam, directly crediting those idols with an actual ability to “cast off” Ephraim – a rhetorical technique with turns errant Ephraim’s words directly against them!
Hos 8:5 Thy calf, O Samaria, hath cast thee off (had forsaken them, given that it could have done so; in other words, the faith that they had in those idols was a vapor); mine anger is kindled against them (Ephraim): how long will it be ere they attain to innocency?
Hos 8:6 For from Israel was it also (Israel was the idols’ manufacturer, their creator): the workman made it; therefore it is not God: but the calf of Samaria shall be broken in pieces.
Hos 8:7 For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind: it hath no stalk: the bud shall yield no meal: if so be it yield, the strangers shall swallow it up.
Hos 8:8 Israel is swallowed up: now shall they be among the Gentiles (scattered) as a vessel wherein is no pleasure.
Hos 8:9 For they are gone up to Assyria, a wild ass (cf., Isaiah 1:3) alone by himself: Ephraim hath hired lovers.
Hos 8:10 Yea, though they have hired among the nations (Hebrew, goy, or Gentiles, who are Israel’s “lovers”) now will I gather them, and they shall sorrow a little (the Hebrew accents indicate that we should render this “and, ere long, they will be writhing under the burden” – Bullinger) for the burden of the king of princes.
Hos 8:11 Because Ephraim hath made many altars to sin, altars shall be unto him to sin.
Hos 8:12 I have written to him the great things of My law (the Almighty is stressing that His law is HIS law, not Moses’ law, for Moses was but the conveyor of it), but they were counted as a strange thing.
Ephraim was conducting itself as if it had never heard God’s law!
Hos 8:13 They sacrifice flesh for the sacrifices of mine offerings, and eat it; but the LORD accepteth them not; now will he remember their iniquity, and visit their sins: they shall return to Egypt.
The narrative of Jeremiah 7:21-23 explains that Ephraim was treating the sacrificial flesh as in the days prior to the giving of the Law of Moses. When they had exited Egypt, their sacrifices were not forbidden to be consumed; only after the giving of the Law were these not to be consumed.
Returning “to Egypt” is here used as a metonym for their future dispersion to the nations – to exile – as initially in Egypt.
Hos 8:14 For Israel hath forgotten his Maker, and buildeth temples; and Judah hath multiplied fenced cities: but I will send a fire upon his cities, and it shall devour the palaces thereof.
The inferences of this verse are that Israel’s multiplication of “temples” (high places, groves, ashera) was a denial of God’s sovereignty.
Its proliferation of fenced (fortified) cities was a denial of God’s protection for them; they were striving to provide their own defenses. The Almighty’s “fire” is more than sufficient to destroy all these. <HEL 4P>
Israel (Judah) now shall be seen to have a multitude of reasons for dejection and extreme sadness. That condition is a direct result of their practice of overt idolatry.
Hos 9:1 Rejoice not, O Israel, for joy, as other people: for thou hast gone a whoring (into idolatry) from thy God, thou hast loved a reward (the price of harlotry or idolatry) upon every cornfloor.
Hos 9:2 The floor (the threshing-floor) and the winepress shall not feed them, and the new wine shall fail in her.
Hos 9:3 They shall not dwell in the LORD'S land; but Ephraim shall return to Egypt, and they shall eat unclean things in Assyria.
The allusion here is to the unclean (non-kosher) practice of Assyria – their universal practice of not draining the blood from animals slain for food as well as consuming all the forbidden fats of caul and suet, which the Hebrews were not permitted to consume. The resultant practice was actually to drink the blood of such animals. – a practice strictly forbidden to Israel. Leviticus 17: 14; 19: 26.
Hos 9:4 They shall not offer wine offerings (generically, these are drink offerings) to the LORD, neither shall they be pleasing unto him: their sacrifices shall be unto them as the bread of mourners (the Hebrew word for mourners is aven, meaning “nothingness, trouble, vanity”); all that eat thereof shall be polluted: for their bread for their soul (food that is necessary, and acceptable to satisfy their natural hunger, but such that) shall not come into the house of the LORD (not be accepted of Him as a sacrifice).
A short discussion of the phrase, “bread of mourners” is necessary. We did not understand this reference on first notice of it (and are not yet certain that we do comprehend its full implications.
But it involves sacrifices which are unacceptable for offering before the LORD, because of their association with evil, or sin – attained as a result of their idolatry, but typified by death.
Hosea’s words in this verse make that fact evident: that idolatrous Ephraim’s wine offerings are offerings which, he says, “neither shall they be pleasing unto him” but shall be “as the bread of mourners.”
The certain meaning is that these were unacceptable to the LORD as a sacrifice.
But there is a further implication: “all that eat thereof shall be polluted (or, defiled – that is, ceremonially unclean).”
Upon investigation, we find that it is not a simple subject of discussion.
First, let’s seek a clearer rendering of the words …
The Septuagint version of this verse reads:
4 They have not offered wine to the Lord, neither have their sacrifices been sweet to him (i.e., not acceptable), but as the bread of mourning to them; all that eat them shall be defiled; for their bread for their soul shall not enter into the house of the Lord. [Septuagint]it
The reading seems to be much the same as the A.V. text.
The Revised Standard Version is similar:
4 They shall not pour libations of wine to the LORD; and they shall not please him with their sacrifices. Their bread shall be like mourners' bread; all who eat of it shall be defiled; for their bread shall be for their hunger only; it shall not come to the house of the LORD. RSV.
Our question must be, What is “mourner’s bread,” and why is it acceptable “for their hunger,” or for their natural consumption, but not acceptable sacrifice to YHVH?
We may find a clue in the account of Rachel’s death, and of Benjamin’s birth, in Genesis 35:18 - And it came to pass, as her soul (Hebrew, nephesh – herself) was in departing, (for she (Rachel) died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin.
Benoni means “son of my sorrow.” It expressed Rachel’s depressing view of her son’s birth as associated with her own demise.
But the child’s father Jacob changed his son’s name to Benjamin, which means “son of my right hand.”
The subject of this reference is death – the death of Rachel.
Her death would result in mourning, the Hebrew word for which is aven, meaning “nothingness, trouble, vanity.” It speaks of the finality of death, and of its subject’s dissolution in the dust of the earth as resultant from all human and animal demise.
It is thusly a cause for mourning, as in Jacob’s case here. A dearly held component of his life has been taken away for the remainder of his life.
Under the Law of Moses, a person or any physical object which came into contact with a dead person was ceremonially defiled for seven days. He or she could be cleansed only by the waters of separation – a remedy described in detail in Numbers 19; a ritual which involved the ashes of a red heifer.
The many examples of ceremonial contamination by dead bodies, or graves, or even being in a tent when a person who was being cared for there expired, is covered in the text of that important chapter.
In our understanding, washing by the waters of separation in the prescribed ritual, removed every stigma attached to the washed object, whether it be a living person or a physical object.
Numbers 31:23 allowed even the booty of warfare to be cleansed by fire if the captured object could withstand fire, but otherwise that persons, for example, be cleansed by purification of the waters of separation.
These rituals had to do with sin – or condemnation of ritual uncleanness – such as that experienced by near proximity at the moment of a person’s death, as in Rachel’s case, or even foreign persons brought into the camp of Israel as in Numbers 31.
This discussion was made necessary by the statement in verse 3, regarding Ephraim’s future captivity: They shall not dwell in the LORD'S land; but Ephraim shall return to Egypt, and they shall eat unclean things in Assyria.
As a result, the entire people were deemed “unclean” by the LORD, separated from Him and from His land. Their ceremonial contamination in that case was pervasive – global.
As a result, they were unable to offer any acceptable sacrifices to the LORD, being in that condition. Even their sacrifices were condemned by the principle presented here: the bread of mourning, or aven – nothingness, trouble, vanity.
In that state of coming exile in which this condition should be prevalent, they were cut off from the vital “waters of separation,” the only means of reconciliation which was open to such transgressors. In this sense, their plight was hopeless, just as the Almighty intended, as dire punishment for their great transgression.
This almost chance reference to the bread of mourners should have been an awful warning to Ephraim, its overtones indicating their pervasive and final condemnation in their pursuit of the filthy practices of idolatry in which they were then engrossed. But it had no seeming effect upon them.
The result would lead to deep, searching questions:
Hos 9:5 What will ye do in the solemn day, and in the day of the feast of the LORD?
Hos 9:6 For, lo, they are gone because of destruction: Egypt shall gather them up (the subtle meaning is to rake them up for manure, or for burning; they often shall not even be given a decent burial – per Bullinger), Memphis (the capital of Lower Egypt; near Cairo today) shall bury them (in exile): the pleasant places for their silver (the places of their most valuable and dearest possessions), nettles shall possess them: thorns shall be in their tabernacles (in their tents).
The clear message for her future is that His people shall be at extreme hazard among the nations, to be vilified and insulted by all, and their God dishonored, He and they suffering the direst degradation and poverty. In the immediate future as well as in the end time, their State would be infested with adversity of various sorts: in the near term, physical thorns and briers of neglect; but in the far term, thorns and briers of a different sort – nettlesome contaminants who would be actual peoples who had come in from the outer perimeters – the nations round about – to take charge of their lands and properties. Isaiah 10:7; 27:4; Ezekiel 2:6.
Hos 9:7 The days of visitation are come, the days of recompence are come; Israel shall know it (in the sense of experiencing it): the (false) prophet is a fool, the spiritual man (in whom God’s Spirit had formerly dwelt) is mad, for the multitude of thine iniquity, and the great hatred.
At this juncture the prophet is given a series of contrasts between what Israel had been and what Israel should become. A short commentary by him appears with each … firstly:
Hos 9:8 The watchman (a term indicating a true prophet: Isaiah 21: 6-11) of Ephraim was with my God (it was so in Joshua’s day): but the prophet is (has now become) a snare of a fowler in all his ways, and hatred in the house of his God (this is in distinct contrast to Hosea’s God).
Hos 9:9 They have deeply corrupted themselves, as in the days of Gibeah (the people would have a common knowledge of the events of Judges 19: 15 et seq – the lascivious demands of the “gays” of Gibeah for the visiting man to be brought out to them; think also the identical demands of the men of Sodom upon Lot as to his angelic visitors): therefore he will remember their iniquity, he will visit their sins.
Now we encounter a second extreme contrast: Israel’s lands which at first bore choice fruits, but do so no longer because of their idolatry.
The next verse is a study in these contrasts ...
Hos 9:10 I found Israel like grapes (i.e. wild, uncultivated fruits growing profusely of themselves) in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the firstripe in the fig tree at her first time (as goodly fruits): but they went to Baalpeor, and separated themselves unto that shame; and their abominations were according as they loved.
Hos 9:11 As for Ephraim, their glory shall fly away like a bird, from the birth, and from the womb, and from the conception (the distinct meaning here is that conception and birth are to be reduced to none – and the implication is that no righteous ones shall be brought forth among their children). This is a third point of contrast between what Ephraim was and what it had become.
Hos 9:12 Though they bring up their children, yet will I bereave them, that there shall not be a man left: yea, woe also to them when I depart from them!
This is a fourth point of contrast between the former Ephraim and the latter one.
Hos 9:13 Ephraim, as I saw Tyrus, is planted in a pleasant place: but Ephraim shall bring forth his children to the murderer.
This is a fifth point of contrast; Ephraim of “a pleasant place” has become extremely corrupt.
Hos 9:14 Give them, O LORD: what wilt thou give? give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts.
Hos 9:15 All their wickedness is in Gilgal: for there I hated them: for the wickedness of their doings I will drive them out of mine house, I will love them no more: all their princes are revolters.
The fifteenth verse requires some further elaboration. The prophet’s reference to (the) Gilgal sets the stage for the remainder of the verse. The word Gilgal is derived from Strong’s H1536, where it means (the) rolling thing. It recalls the wind-driven (therefore having a fluid, uncertain destination) high desert chaparral, which when mature and dry, assumes the shape of a sphere – easy for the wind to “roll” across the desert sands; it indeed then breaks off at the stem and is driven relentlessly by the caprice of the wind.
The definition is apt, for Gilgal was the place where Israel’s instability originated: God was rejected here as King of Israel; here Saul was chosen by men to replace Him; and here Saul received his first AND second messages of rejection! See I Samuel 13: 4-15 and I Samuel 15: 12-33. Also recall our comments on Hosea 4: 15, above. See Hosea 12: 11 in context.
There is a contrast here, too (number six) in that Gilgal had begun on an high plane of service and dedication to YHVH; but with time, its institutions were corrupted and its destiny made subservient to evil, by unfaithful men such as Saul the Benjamite, whose popularity with the people overrode even the faithfulness of the Prophet Samuel, who also lived there.
These examples of the inherently fleshly entropy (degradation) of Israel have grave consequences:
Hos 9:16 Ephraim is smitten, their root is dried up (recall the chaparral) , they shall bear no fruit: yea, though they bring forth, yet will I slay even the beloved fruit of their womb.
Hos 9:17 My God will cast them away, because they did not hearken unto him: and they shall be wanderers among the nations.
Again, recall the aimless journey of the wind-driven chaparral. For a graphic description of this terrible destiny, see Deuteronomy 28: 64-68. Ephraim could not claim that it had not been duly warned of the consequences of idolatrous wanderings.
Hosea Chapter 9 in Septuagint
9:1 Rejoice not, O Israel, neither make merry, as other nations: for thou hast gone a-whoring from thy God; thou hast loved gifts upon every threshing-floor. 2 The threshing-floor and wine-press knew them not, and the wine disappointed them. 3 They dwelt not in the Lord’s land: Ephraim dwelt in Egypt, and they shall eat unclean things among the Assyrians. 4 They have not offered wine to the Lord, neither have their sacrifices been sweet to him, but as the bread of mourning to them; all that eat them shall be defiled; for their bread for their soul shall not enter into the house of the Lord.
5 What will ye do in the day of the general assembly, and in the day of the feast of the Lord? 6 Therefore, behold, they go forth from the trouble of Egypt, and Memphis shall receive them, and Machmas shall bury them: as for their silver, destruction shall inherit it; thorns shall be in their tents.
7 The days of vengeance are come, the days of thy recompense are come; and Israel shall be afflicted as the prophet that is mad, as a man deranged: by reason of the multitude of thine iniquities thy madness has abounded. 8 The watchman of Ephraim was with God: the prophet is a crooked snare in all his ways: they have established madness in the house of God. 9 They have corrupted themselves according to the days of the hill: he will remember their iniquities, he will take vengeance on their sins.
10 I found Israel as grapes in the wilderness, and I saw their fathers as an early watchman in a fig-tree: they went in to Beel-phegor, and were shamefully estranged, and the abominable became as the beloved. 11 Ephraim has flown away as a bird; their glories from the birth, and the travail, and the conception. 12 For even if they should rear their children, yet shall they be utterly bereaved: wherefore also there is woe to them, though my flesh is of them. 13 Ephraim, even as I saw, gave their children for a prey; yea, Ephraim was ready to bring out his children to slaughter.
14 Give them, O Lord: what wilt thou give them? a miscarrying womb, and dry breasts. 15 All their wickedness is in Galgal: for there I hated them: because of the wickedness of their practices, I will cast them out of my house, I will not love them any more: all their princes are disobedient. 16 Ephraim is sick, he is dried up at his roots, he shall in no wise any more bear fruit: wherefore even if they should beget children, I will kill the desired fruit of their womb. 17 God shall reject them, because they have not hearkened to him: and they shall be wanderers among the nations. ##
As a result of all the above, Israel has attained a firmly adverse status in God’s mind.
Hos 10:1 Israel is an empty vine, he bringeth forth fruit unto himself: according to the multitude of his fruit he hath increased the altars; according to the goodness of his land they have made goodly images.
In referring to Israel as an “empty vine,” YHVH is recalling that His own personal vineyard – Israel – has been allowed to lie fallow and untended as noted by another prophet: Isaiah 5:7 - For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.
Israel’s fruit is only that which appears by neglect – by fallow default – and is not the result of godly cultivation. As he descended more deeply into idolatry, so he increased his altars; supported by the increase of the land, his wealth increased as did his corruption. “Goodly” images – images that fed their indulgencies – were thus multiplied by them.
Hos 10:2 Their heart is divided (cf., verse 10 – the “two furrows,” or Ephraim’s ambivalence. It is significant that Ephraim – Strong’s H669 – means double fruit); now shall they be found faulty: he shall break down their altars, he shall spoil their images.
Ephraim’s “divided” heart is reminiscent of an earlier time, when Ahab troubled Israel, and Elijah brought a godly decision before the people when challenged by the prophets of Baal – one of the same gods which now threatened the sovereignty of the God of Israel: 1Kings 18:21 - And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.
The outcome of Ephraim’s errancy was certain – that Ephraim shall be found in God’s eyes, “faulty,” and their images and altars be destroyed by His designated invaders.
Hos 10:3 For now they shall say, We have no king, because we feared not the LORD; what then should a king do to us?
This is the same thinking that had originally deposed the Almighty from His rightful throne over them in the days of Samuel; they did not recognize YHVH as their king. This was a condition that was displeasing to them; they had no king – that is, an appointed earthly monarch – and longed to be like the nations round about them.
It is the perverse desire which has long given trouble and adversity to God’s people when they dwelt in the Land with His benevolent protection. Cf., Ezekiel 36: 17.
Hos 10:4 They have spoken words, swearing falsely in making a covenant: thus judgment springeth up as hemlock in the furrows of the field.
The word translated “hemlock” here is rosh, or head, and probably should be “poppy” as it features a prominent head, the contents of which, like hemlock, are poisonous (the source of opium); this would better fit the reference to a “furrow” and would not likely bring to mind the hemlock tree – a conifer, which grows on rocky hillsides and in lush forests.
The meaning of this sentence is that even Ephraim’s judgment and its “religious” (idolatrous) affiliations are poisonous to the people, and shall certainly cause their demise as surely as opium.
There may also be a shaded reference here to opium as an agent for an altered state of consciousness as applied to idolatrous worship. The Middle Eastern peoples are notorious for their use of other such materials – such as hashish (a derivative of cannabis) – for inducing altered states of consciousness. But the authors of the Wikipedia article, “Assassins” denies that hashish was used by assassins because being a mind-altering substance, it is outlawed by Islam.
Nevertheless, it is notable that news reports claim that many of the suicide bombers that are active in our own day are sent to their fates while under the influence of one of several such mind-altering substances which are given them in an attempt to lessen their dread of dying.
Hos 10:5 The inhabitants of Samaria shall fear because of the calves of Bethaven: for the people thereof shall mourn over it, and the priests thereof (these are Chemarim, that is, idolatrous priests; the term is really “black ones” from kamar – to be black, or wearing black cassocks, as the priests of Baal were wont to wear) that rejoiced on it, for the glory thereof, because it is departed from it.
Here is another occurrence of that word, “aven,” as in Beth-aven, which means “house of vanity.” Bethaven is the location of the calf that Jeroboam placed in Bethel’s vicinity; the other location was in Dan. These alternative “worship” sites effectively prevented the Ephraimites from returning to worship at the Temple of God in Jerusalem and coming under the influence of the priests of God who were located there.
But these calves and their worship also prevented the People from offering ANY acceptable sacrifices. They should have feared (the effect of) these calves of Bethaven for leading them away from the God of Jacob.
As despicable as were these calves, when the overthrow of Ephraim came, their citizens would mourn their loss and the misfortune of the priests who presided at those sites of idol worship. Thus, is spelled out clearly the gross ignorance of their ways before God – their dearth of knowledge of the LORD and His ways and laws.
Hos 10:6 It shall be also carried unto Assyria for a present to king Jareb: Ephraim shall receive shame, and Israel shall be ashamed of his own counsel.
It seems apparent that these calves of Jeroboam would, in the coming overthrow of Ephraim, be carried to Assyria as a gift to the king Jareb.
An historical note of interest: Bullinger cites Professor Sayce as being of the opinion that Jareb was the birth name of the usurper, Sargon II, the successor of Shalamanezer. Shalamanezer did not take Samaria, but his successor did, as learned from Assyrian inscriptions. Therefore, Jareb (aka Sargon II) would receive the calves of Jeroboam as gifts.
The final result would be that Israel should be “ashamed” of Jeroboam’s counsel, whether the people admitted the fact or not.
This principle is closely allied with the reference to the “thinning” of Jacob in Isaiah 17:4 – an event which some today have mistaken as a yet future prophecy.
Instead, it was a short-term prophecy for that time, which should establish, by its coming to pass in short order, the bona fides, or credentials of Isaiah as a prophet of God.
Hos 10:7 As for Samaria, her king is cut off as the foam upon the water.
This image evokes the foam which is generated in water by extreme turbulence. It forms upon the water and is blown about willy-nilly upon the surface; as such it makes a prominent showing but is useless.
Hos 10:8 The high places also of Aven (Strong’s H206, here meaning idolatry; see comments on 9:4, above, where the word is H205 in Strong’s and has the same meaning), the sin of Israel, shall be destroyed: the thorn and the thistle shall come up on their altars; and they shall say to the mountains, Cover us; and to the hills, Fall on us.
Is Ephraim’s distress so great that it brings their death-wish? It would seem so.
Hos 10:9 O Israel, thou hast sinned from the days of Gibeah (note previous references above in 5: 8 and 9: 9): there they stood: the battle in Gibeah against the children of iniquity did not overtake them (the meaning is to “reach” them or to “overtake them” with benefit or instruction; they did not perceive its significance nor heed its warnings).
Hos 10:10 It is in my desire that I should chastise them; and the people shall be gathered against them, when they shall bind themselves in their two furrows.
The “two furrows” are indicative of the ambivalence of Ephraim – following God in name only, but actually serving their idols. It is an interesting figure of speech as it relates to the agricultural analogy made of their idolatrous profession, beginning in verse 1.
Hos 10:11 And Ephraim is as an heifer that is taught (trained to the yoke), and loveth to tread out the corn; but I passed over upon (Bullinger glosses this as “I put a yoke upon”) her fair neck: I will make Ephraim to ride; Judah shall plow, and Jacob shall break his clods.
References to agriculture continue. Judah’s “plowing” results in Jacob’s “clods;” those clods need cultivation, or breaking up and smoothing, in making way for planting seeds. This process is referred to in the farming industry as “cultivation” in the limited sense of breaking up the newly plowed ground and smoothing it for planting – the next process to which the prophet refers in this simile. A future time will eventuate in these conditions, but the prospect is not on the immediate horizon for His People.
So now the next stage (sowing) of the process is evoked. His admonition is to sow righteous seeds and to reap in mercy – both qualities in which Ephraim has shown itself severely lacking.
Yet, His insistence is that Ephraim “sow in righteousness,” and “reap in mercy.”
Hos 10:12 Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground (breaking fallow ground results in “clods”): for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.
The final element needed after planting is rainwater to nourish the crop. They are admonished to ask for righteousness to “rain” upon them. But it shall not. Their production of “wickedness” results in further “iniquity.”
The resultant fruit is the product of lies, one of which is that the worship of idols is acceptable. It is therefore referred to as “thy way,” and not God’s.
Hos 10:13 Ye have plowed wickedness (the word for “plowed” is an homonym – having two different meanings – and along with plowing, also involves planting), ye have reaped iniquity; ye have eaten the fruit of lies: because thou didst trust in thy way, in the multitude of thy mighty men.
This verse thus comprehends every aspect of the production of food and its benefits: plowing is followed by sowing; then reaping, and then consuming the produce. But their “way” was of their own direction, and not God’s prescribed way. The consequence shall be trouble – tumult, spoil, and desecration.
Hos 10:14 Therefore shall a tumult arise among thy people, and all thy fortresses shall be spoiled, as Shalman spoiled Betharbel in the day of battle: the mother was dashed in pieces upon her children.
Hos 10:15 So shall Bethel (i.e., their idolatrous pursuits employed at Bethel) do unto you because of your great wickedness: in a morning shall the king of Israel utterly be cut off.
In this statement, their calf-worship at Bethel is attributed as being the source of the evil that should befall Ephraim. The fall of her king and her polity should occur in perhaps one day. <HEL>
The Almighty here recalls earlier times of trust and happiness, as a young child upon his parents, in great love and tenderness. It was so when He called Israel out of Egypt; but it has not been so ever since.
Hos 11:1 When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.
Hos 11:2 As they (“they” are those who called: God’s false prophets) called them (Israel’s people), so they (Israel) went from them (departed from the true prophets of God and their godly teachings): (In what way did they so?) they sacrificed unto Baalim, and burned incense to graven images.
Hos 11:3 I taught Ephraim also to go (the meaning of “to go” is to WALK, as a child is trained to walk in the paths the parents instruct them) , taking them by their arms; but they knew not that I healed them.
Hos 11:4 I drew them with cords of a man (as a loving father, not the cords of a taskmaster), with bands of love: and I was to them as they that take off the yoke on their jaws (this speaks of the bands which hold the yoke to the neck – of loosing the reins and bridles which restrain, giving them relief from labor), and I laid meat unto them (or, gave them provender).
Israel’s lack of a right response to His loving care will result in captivity – but this time not in Egypt, but in Assyria.
Hos 11:5 He shall not return into the land of Egypt, but the Assyrian shall be his king, because they refused to return (refused to return to God’s ways).
Hos 11:6 And the sword shall abide on his cities, and shall consume his branches (his progeny), and devour them, because of their own counsels.
These counsels were historically those of the rebellious Jeroboam, who set up the calves of Bethel and Dan to be Israel’s gods.
Hos 11:7 And my people are bent to backsliding from me: though they (“they” being, here, the true prophets of God who ministered to their deaf ears, including Hosea) called them to the most High, none at all would exalt him.
Hos 11:8 How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? how shall I deliver thee, Israel? how shall I make thee as Admah? how shall I set thee as Zeboim? mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together.
In Genesis 10: 12, these places (Admah and Zeboim) are named alongside Sodom and Gomorrah. Nothing is known of them except this inference as to their wickedness.
Hos 11:9 I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim: for I am God, and not man; the Holy One in the midst of thee: and I will not enter into the city (will not come against the city in His fury, which should be fatal to them; instead, He has commissioned Assyria to execute their punishment, from which they shall finally be delivered in the end time).
Accordingly, the end result shall be Israel’s recovery and reconstitution in His Land, fulfilling the promise made to Abraham in Genesis 12, et seq. The result shall be that He shall call them as with a lion’s roar from the west (From Europe? After the Holocaust?) Are some of Israel still hidden and abiding there, to be called forth during the kingdom age when He shall forcibly gather His people into their Promised Land – when the Lion of Judah reigns? Yes ... it is so: multitudes of the Jews of Spain, for example, being faced by “conversion” (to the Catholic Church) or death (or exile), did “convert” to Catholicism and became crypto-Jews, secretly practicing their faith while professing membership in the Church. Many of these are coming forward in Spain today, and making Aliyah to Israel.
One result is certain: they SHALL walk “after the LORD” in that day ... ALL of them!
Hos 11:10 They shall walk after the LORD: he shall roar like a lion: when he shall roar, then the children shall tremble (and return to Him) from the west.
As He often does, the Almighty seems here to leap forward to the end time in earnest, and reveal the final destiny of Ephraim, returning humbly (trembling, and as a dove, but also perhaps overcome with emotion and extreme gratitude at His salvation?) to its Land.
Hos 11:11 They shall tremble as a bird out of Egypt, and as a dove out of the land of Assyria: and I will place them in their houses, saith the LORD.
Ezekiel 28: 25, 26 furnish the student with pertinent details of this blessed time, when Israel shall be greatly blessed by Him in ways which they themselves cannot manage on their own. That passage reads ... Ezekiel 28:25 Thus saith the Lord GOD; When I shall have gathered the house of Israel from the people among whom they are scattered, and shall be sanctified in them in the sight of the heathen, then shall they dwell in their land that I have given to my servant Jacob. 26 And they shall dwell safely therein, and shall build houses, and plant vineyards; yea, they shall dwell with confidence, when I have executed judgments upon all those that despise them round about them; and they shall know that I am the LORD their God.
This summary revelation as to Israel’s future is truly extraordinary! It covers the entire field of the Jews’ second recovery and their reinstatement in God’s sight under the Christ of the Second Advent.
This information begs each Believer to believe that He has begun to deliver them into their Land today from the nations of their dispersion ... that His angelic execution of His end time Plan of Recovery for them has indeed “placed” them there purposefully and intentionally, to His glory.
To deny this fact is to deny our Father His due measure of glory for having accomplished this great and meaningful task of The Recovery of His People.
But that final day was not in view at that present time and is not so at this date; Ephraim is yet astray from His ways – and largely has not “returned” to Him.
Hos 11:12 Ephraim compasseth me about with lies, and the house of Israel with deceit: but Judah yet ruleth with God, and is faithful with the saints.
Here is another great contrast between Israel as it was, and Judah as IT was, in that day. Judah still remained nominally faithful to Him; but Israel was headed for its swift demise at the hand of Assyria.
Note: This will explain why the font size from this point on down is not adjusted to 16 point as above. The larger a file becomes the more unstable it becomes in this (free) service. If anyone wishes to copy these commentaries, he should do so in rich text format, copy it to a Word file, and then changed the type size to that desired. We are sorry for any inconvenience and intend to correct this deficit in future is it becomes possible. Editor.
The prophet recapitulates the well-known evils of Ephraim. “Feeding on wind” is vacuous and profitless. The literal meaning is that Ephraim seeks foreign alliances to resist Assyria, but that these will be worthless to her.
But there are other implications; the following of the east wind adds insult to their injury and emphasizes that no effective assistance will be available from such alliances. It is a pointed reference to a wel- known phenomenon in Israel, even today.
The east wind in Israel is known as kahmsin; it is the steady, persistent, dry breezes blowing westward off the Jordanian and Saudi deserts, bringing not only extremely dry conditions but billows of fine sands which, being airborne, obscures distant vision and causes a dismal graying of the entire landscape. Its effect is that it desiccates the vineyards and orchards. It sucks the sparse moisture from the topsoil and starves all vegetation of its supply of water. It quickly evaporates waters from seas and lakes, adding to the problems of drought. It is devastating to all agriculture if it lasts more than a week or so.
Hos 12:1 Ephraim feedeth on wind (ruach), and followeth after the east wind (meaning that its course of conduct is as destructive to the nation spiritually as is kahmsin to its fields and forests): he daily increaseth lies and desolation; and they do make a covenant with the Assyrians, and oil is carried into Egypt (as payment – to obtain assistance from Egypt).
But His “controversy” extends southward from Ephraim as well … it reaches to Judah.
Hos 12:2 The LORD hath also a controversy with Judah, and will punish Jacob according to his ways; according to his doings will he recompense him.
The name Jacob is used as indicative of Isaac’s natural seed; Israel is used of his spiritual seed. The man Jacob wrestled with the angel in Genesis 32, and prevailed, according to the text of verse 25: “And when He (the angel) saw that He prevailed not against him (Jacob), He touched the hollow of Jacob’s thigh” and the joint was injured (put “out of joint”). Jacob did not win the wrestling match outrightly, but would not let go of the angel until he received a blessing. At this point, the angel changed Jacob’s name to Israel. Israel means “God commands.”
Jacob means contender. He was aptly so-called, for he had contended with Esau in the womb, and having succeeded, had gotten his name, Jacob.
He had contended over the birthright and had won it from Esau.
He had contended for Isaac’s blessing and had succeeded.
He had contended with Laban (that is, with men) and had succeeded.
Now he contends with an angel of the LORD and fails to win the contest (although he held out until he received a blessing).
His name change to Israel (God commands) indicated to him that God is really in complete control – the lesson of dependence upon God that he needed to learn: that Jacob does not command; God does.
Hos 12:3 He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength (in his mature life) he had power with God (by wrestling with the angel of God, he showed the same aggressive, grasping nature as when he caught Esau’s heel as they were being born):
Hos 12:4 Yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed: he wept, and made supplication unto him: he found him in Bethel (cf., Genesis 28), and there he spake with us;
There is a remarkable contrast here. Bethel was the site of Jacob’s dream of the stairway (ladder) between the earth and heaven. There God gave Jacob great promises. It was also near Bethel that Jacob wrestled the angel. But now the character of that place has changed to its polar opposite: it is the seat of the obscenities of idolatry – a main idolatrous “worship” center for all Ephraim.
Hos 12:5 Even the LORD (YHVH) God (Elohim) of hosts; the LORD (YHVH) is his memorial (i.e., His memorial name).
Certain requirements will now be expected of His people …
Hos 12:6 Therefore turn thou to thy God: keep mercy and judgment, and wait on thy God continually.
Hos 12:7 He (Ephraim) is a merchant, the balances of deceit (a dishonest weighing scale) are in his hand: he loveth to oppress.
Hos 12:8 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.
But the Almighty also has words which need to be heard: He proclaims His sovereignty; He has mighty promises to re-state to them.
Hos 12:9 And I that am the LORD thy God from (the time of their residence in) the land of Egypt will yet make thee to dwell in tabernacles, as in the days of the solemn feast.
Refer to Revelation 21: 3, where reference is made to the “tabernacle” which shall be with them in that ultimate time of blessing – the Kingdom age; in a real sense, the LORD Jesus, as the regnal occupant of that Tabernacle (Temple) is said to be “tabernacling” with them in that day. Ezekiel 27:27.
Hos 12:10 I have also spoken by the prophets, and I have multiplied visions, and used similitudes, by the ministry of the prophets.
There has been no dearth of instructions from God; the only insufficiency of action has been the unresponsiveness of His people.
Hos 12:11 Is there iniquity in Gilead? Surely they are vanity: they sacrifice bullocks in Gilgal; yea, their altars are as heaps (worthless as clods because the sacrificial offering is a sham) in the furrows of the fields.
The picture here is of an uncultivated field – one not prepared to accept seeds of His planting. It was Ephraim’s condition precisely.
YHVH now introduces a contrast to the picture … showing the faithfulness of Jacob when seeking a wife … note carefully that, in contrast to Esau his brother, he heeded the counsel of his father, going to seek a wife from among his mother’s relatives – the best chance he had for a successful selection of a wife at the time. Genesis 28: 1, 2.
Hos 12:12 And Jacob fled into the country of Syria, and Israel served for a wife, and for a wife he kept sheep.
Hos 12:13 And by a prophet (the Prophet Moses) the LORD brought Israel out of Egypt, and by a prophet was he preserved.
In these words, the LORD points Ephraim back toward His prophets repeatedly. But the northern kingdom still provoked Him to anger, refusing to hear their genuine prophets ….
Hos. 12: 14 Ephraim (in the person, primarily, of Jeroboam) provoked him to anger most bitterly: therefore shall he leave his blood (his blood-guiltiness) upon him, and his reproach shall his Lord return unto him.
The spiritual necessity for humility is now stressed to Ephraim … and arrogance forbidden.
Hos 13:1 When Ephraim spake trembling (i.e., in a repentant, fearful mood), he exalted himself in Israel; but when he offended in Baal, he died.
Hos 13:2 And now they sin more and more, and have made them molten images of their silver, and idols according to their own understanding, all of it the work of the craftsmen: they say of them, Let the men that sacrifice kiss the calves.
Kissing the idols was prevalent in all idolatrous cultures. The practice has spilled over to the “church” of today, in the practice of kissing the statues of “saints” and angels – and of kissing the pope’s ring.
It is manifested in other ways as well. Every hour of the day in Bethlehem, at the Orthodox Church of the Nativity, a visitor to the designated (supposed) site of Jesus’ birth, witnesses hundreds of “the faithful” lying prone to kiss the great bronze star that supposedly marks the exact location of the infant Jesus’ delivery.
The inconsistency and offensiveness of these actions are remarkable; how can a once-enlightened people as Ephraim had been blessed to have been, have descended to such depths?
Hos 13:3 Therefore they shall be as the morning cloud (wispy, transient, fleeting), and as the early dew that passeth away (vaporous, transient, quickly passing away), as the chaff that is driven with the whirlwind out of the floor (being dissipated by the capricious winds), and as the smoke out of the chimney (which evaporates and fades to nothing).
All these elements are desperately meaningless and are fatal distractions to Ephraim. They should have minded the grave set of values that they were first given.
Hos 13:4 Yet I am the LORD thy God from (the days of) the land of Egypt, and thou shalt know no god but me: for there is no saviour beside me.
Hos 13:5 I did know thee in the wilderness, in the land of great drought.
Hos 13:6 According to their pasture, so were they filled; they were filled, and their heart was exalted; therefore have they forgotten me.
Hos 13:7 Therefore I will be unto them as a lion: as a leopard by the way will I observe them:
Hos 13:8 I will meet them as a bear that is bereaved of her whelps and will rend the caul (literally meaning the pericardial sac – a fatal wound) of their heart, and there will I devour them like a lion: the wild beast shall tear them.
The ferocity and bestiality of the coming Assyrian horde shall be clearly evident in all these symbols of His fury toward them.
Yet, He genially extends to them a gracious invitation to return to Him.
Invitation to Return, and Revolt
Hos 13:9 O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help.
The implication is that although Israel destroyed itself, it cannot heal itself; that assistance remains for their Father to provide; but their repentance will be required, and their willingness to accept Him and His ways being shown as apparent to Him.
Hos 13:10 I will be thy king: where is any other that may save thee in all thy cities? and thy judges of whom thou saidst, Give me a king and princes?
This was the historic error which was made by all Israel when they desired of Samuel an human monarch – and received Saul of Benjamin, a disastrous ruler over God’s people. Saul, as the next words record, was given them in His anger, and was removed from the throne in His wrath. But so were several of their more recent kings …
Hos 13:11 I gave thee a king in mine anger, and took him away in my wrath.
Considering Israel’s recent history of that time, this statement could not be more apropos: as Bullinger points out, Zachariah was murdered by Shallum; Shallum was killed by Menahem; Pekahiah by Pekah; and Pekah by Hoshea!
Hos 13:12 The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up (as in a closed bag: it is sealed, made certain by their response to Him); his sin is hid (the punishment for his sin is reserved for him).
Hos 13:13 The sorrows of a travailing woman shall come upon him: he is an unwise son; for he should not stay long in the place of the breaking forth of children (in the place of being born; an imminent birth cannot be retarded or delayed; it cannot be “put on hold”).
The Almighty’s invitation to bring them again to Him continues; His grace is offered still.
Hos 13:14 I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance (His repentance – that is, He cannot be turned away from – made to repent of – these promises) shall be hid from mine eyes.
Note the clear, reinforcing echo of this principle as voiced by the Apostle Paul, in 1Corinthinas 15:55 - O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? Death and the grave are personified (poetically) as being entirely defeated by His developing Plan, a Plan which was brought to its full conclusion by the righteous life, the obedience, the sacrifice, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ!
Hos 13:15 Though he be fruitful among his brethren, an east wind shall come, the wind of the LORD shall come up from the wilderness, and his spring shall become dry, and his fountain shall be dried up: he shall spoil the treasure of all pleasant vessels.
The very produce of the Land is at hazard of destruction. Even the stored foods are destined for ruin by the east wind – utilized as symbol for their numerous foreign alliances with heathen nations round about. And so the nation and its people become dry, dessicated, ineffective of His service, condemned to destruction for a great while.
Hos 13:16 Samaria shall become desolate; for she hath rebelled against her God: they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up.
Here is noted the violent ferocity of the coming Assyrian horde. Monuments show clearly that Assyria often took prisoners away with great hooks installed through their jaws, these being in turn attached to rings, and the rings attached by strong cords to stout hawsers borne in their march by the prisoners, and led by a slave-master wielding whips and maces.
These processions of miserable, accursed ones moved on foot everywhere they were escorted – often hundreds of miles across steamy deserts and malaria-infested swamps, over mountains and across vast plains, to their fate of forced labor in the fields or mines of their enemies until their agonal deaths.
It should be the time of Jacob’s thinning, as referenced in Isaiah 17: 4. <HEL 4P>
As is the consistent practice of the Almighty, even in light of chapter after chapter of excoriating condemnation of His people for their wickedness, in the finality He reminds that that their final end shall be glorious – that His name may be glorified.
It is a consistent feature of His repeated warnings of their gross errancy from His ways; HOPE is always offered as a final option – and the certainty of their ultimate destiny – because of the holiness of His name. He has made promises to their forefathers … and these SHALL be honored, in spite of their national and personal temporary shortcomings!
Despite their temporary wanderings out of His Way, His promise of eventual salvation is assured.
This result is always said to be true not for their sakes, but for His holy name’s sake.
The promises that He made to Abram, to Isaac, to Jacob and to David were unilateral promises, depending not upon these faithful men’s approval or acceptance, but depending upon their God’s integrity and holiness.
Despite their shortcomings they shall be redeemed in the end! But that result is dependent upon their “turning to the LORD” as in verse 4, and their imploring prayers for His mercy.
Hos 14:1 O Israel, return unto the LORD thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity.
As their forfeiture to severe punishment by Him is because of THEIR iniquity, so shall be their redemption – by THEIR turning to the LORD … and we fortunate, living ones of this day, are beholding the initial phases of this blessed time!
Hos 14:2 Take with you words, and turn to the LORD: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips (acceptable prayer).
Bullinger’s notes are relevant here: he points out that in the word “graciously,” eminent Hebrew scholars recognize the phrase, “O Gracious One” as a title for Messiah – the absolutely essential means of their “turning away” from evil and “turning to” (returning to) their Father.
The phrase “so will we render” is directly referenced in the words of Hebrews 13: 15: where the writer of that epistle admonishes the identical approach by contemporary Believers, to Him … By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.
These words equate the effectual fervent prayers of His people with the sacrifices (the sacrificial calves) under the Law, and clearly illustrate the repentive, contritional journey back to His favor that would be necessary for them to follow!
Hos 14:3 Asshur (i.e., Assyria) shall not save us; we will not ride upon horses: neither will we say any more to the work of our hands (their stone and wood idols), Ye are our gods: for in thee (i.e., only in God) the fatherless findeth mercy.
Hos 14:4 I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him.
We believe His quality of love for his son, Israel, is here spoken with some degree of chastisement for their global lack of love for Him and His ways. If they loved Him they should have obeyed His laws and precepts; but more favorable times are ahead …
Hos 14:5 I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon.
Think of the Tiger Lily, which grows profusely at the scent of an adequate supply of water. Its natural growth becomes exponential and profuse in such circumstances. So shall become their spiritual expansion, given their acceptance of the water of life as provided by Him!
With such an appropriate response, their growth becomes HIS growth as expressed in them:
Hos 14:6 His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, and his smell as Lebanon.
Hos 14:7 They that dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall revive as the corn, and grow as the vine: the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon.
The result shall be a firmly vigorous and determined turning away from their former waywardness and iniquity. They shall renounce strongly their former ways and practices; they shall adopt the will of the Father of Israel in all things.
The firmly faithful resolution of their renewed approach to Him is illustrated in the prophet’s next words …
Hos 14:8 Ephraim shall say, What have I to do any more with idols? I have heard Him (the Almighty), and observed Him: I am like a green fir tree. From me is thy fruit found.
Hos 14:9 Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the LORD are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein.
This entire 14th chapter of Hosea contains the saga of their Restoration – not only to their Land (as is referenced in Micah 5:3 – “the remnant of his brethren shall return unto the (land of the) children of Israel”), but to His eternal favor – the ultimate resolution of which is expressed above in these words: I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him. Hosea 14:4.
Thus His People complete the full cycle: from having resident over them His freely given favor to abject failure, to their long dark period of abandonment, to their physical return to Him, followed by His response of “saving them from their enemies,” and finally to His renewed acceptance of them without reservation – all motivated by His faithfulness to His sworn promises to their fathers.
How blessed are all the People of the Book – ultimately both natural and spiritual, – to see and understand the enormity of these grand provisions, and to appreciate the awe-inspiring concept of the fullness of His Mercy!
And like those whose saga is recounted in these precious words of the Prophet Hosea, to have been transported into His divinely provided, sublime process of eternal deliverance, illustrated by the lofty, inspired words of the writer to the Hebrews …
Hebrews 12:18 For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, 19 And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard entreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more: 20 (For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart: 21 And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:) 22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.
<HEL 4P, edited 7Q, 9Q> ~21,500 words.
This concludes a verse by verse consideration of these writings of Hosea. NB. This commentary is a dynamic document and is subject to editing if new information becomes available. Editor