corner graphic

Bible Commentaries

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

Hosea 4

 

 

Verse 1

‘Hear the word of YHWH, you children of Israel, for YHWH has a controversy (legal grounds of dispute) with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor covenant love, nor knowledge of God in the land.’

Hosea, addressing the ‘children of Israel’ (Israel is to be their mother in Hosea 4:5), commences the passage by pointing out that he has received ‘the word of YHWH’, and that it is a word that indicates that YHWH has a charge to lay against all who live in the land. Israel here indicates the northern kingdom. And the basis of the charge is rooted in the fact that there is no truth/truthfulness in the land and no compassion towards the poor and needy (chesed is love in accordance with the covenant). And underlying this is the lack of the knowledge of God in the land. Because they do not know God in all that He is, they are without truth and honesty, and without compassion. For God is the God of truth and compassion.

‘In the land.’ Such was their lack of gratitude and appreciation of what He had done that they had no knowledge of God in the very land that God had given them as an inheritance. Thus the land would mourn (Hosea 4:3), and they themselves would finally be removed from the land because they no longer deserved it.


Verses 1-3

ISRAEL’S LOVE AFFAIR WITH IDOLS AND WITH ASSYRIA IS NOW DEPICTED AND WARNINGS GIVEN OF WHAT WILL BE THE CONSEQUENCE FOR THEM, AND THIS TOGETHER WITH A REMINDER THAT IF THEY RETURN TO HIM HE CAN PROVIDE ALL THAT BAAL PROVIDES AND MORE (Hosea 4:1 to Hosea 6:3).

Having illustrated Israel’s position in terms of an adulterous and unfaithful wife, Hosea now charges Israel more directly with their sins, and warns them of what the consequences will be if they do not repent and turn back to YHWH. These words were probably mainly spoken during the earlier phases of his ministry in the times of Jeroboam II and Menahem.


Verses 1-5

YHWH’s Indictment Of Israel And Warning Of The Consequences (Hosea 4:1-5).

YHWH now charges ‘the people (children) of Israel’ with being bereft of all truth and compassion because of their lack of the knowledge of YHWH. In consequence they are breaching all the commandments, and engaging in widespread bloodshed, and the final result is that the whole land is suffering through severe drought. But they are in no position to lay charges against YHWH with respect to this, for they are disqualified as being like ‘strivers with the priests’, that is, as being like anarchists, those who reject and despise the verdicts of their own supreme court. In other words they are lawless. That is why they and the prophets to whom they listen will stumble by day and night, and Israel itself (their mother) will be destroyed.

For ‘hear the word of YHWH’ (Hosea 4:1) compare ‘hear this, O you priests, and listen you house of Israel, and give ear O house of the king --’ (Hosea 5:1). This would seem to confirm that chapter 4 is a separate oracle by itself.

Analysis of Hosea 4:1-5.

a Hear the word of YHWH, you children of Israel, for YHWH has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor covenant love, nor knowledge of God in the land (Hosea 4:1).

b There is nought but swearing and breaking faith, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery (Hosea 4:2 a).

c They break out, and blood touches blood (Hosea 4:2 b).

b Therefore will the land mourn, and every one who dwells in it will languish, with the beasts of the field and the birds of the heavens, yes, the fishes of the sea also will be taken away (Hosea 4:3).

a Yet let no man strive, nor let any man reprove, for your people are as those who strive with the priest. And you will stumble in the day, and the prophet also will stumble with you in the night, and I will destroy your mother (Hosea 4:4-5).

Note that in ‘a’ YHWH has a controversy with His people, and the land has no truth, goodness or knowledge of God, and in the parallel the people are not to strive with YHWH and they and the prophets stumble whether it be light or dark. In ‘b’ the land is full of breaches of the covenant, and in the parallel the consequence is that the land and all that is in it mourns and languishes. Centrally in ‘c’ bloodshed is widespread.


Verse 2

‘They break out, and blood collides with blood.’

Most heinously they are guilty of much bloodshed. ‘They break out’. That is they at times remove all restraint. We might say, ‘they break all bounds.’ The suggestion appears to be that every now and again groups of men are roused to violence by some slight, imagined or real, and engage in shedding the blood of their fellow-Israelites. Thus the whole land is constantly on the edge of violence. As we know they were turbulent times, with each king arising as a consequence of assassinating another (something always exacerbating dissension); with the threat of Assyria constantly on the horizon and every now and then appearing; with fierce disagreement between different political parties as to how to meet the problem posed; and with a Judah which was unwilling to enter into an alliance with them and Aram (Syria), and thus having to be put in its place. All this encouraged violence and thoughts of violence, and violence begets violence.


Verse 3

‘Therefore will the land mourn, and every one who dwells in it will languish, with the beasts of the field and the birds of the heavens, yes, the fishes of the sea also will be taken away.’

The consequence of all this will be that the land itself will suffer, and everyone in it will languish, to such an extent that it will have a major effect on the wild animals, the birds, and the fish. The affecting of the fish would appear to be an indication of heavy drought. Invasions usually pass fish by (unless, of course, the invaders are partial to fish). So the problems coming on Israel will be environmental as well as man-caused.

There may well be the intention here of pointing out that the people of Israel have failed in their responsibility for watching over creation (compare Psalms 8:7-8; Genesis 1:30). Even the creatures whom they are responsible for will suffer. It is as though creation itself is being reversed because of their behaviour.


Verse 4

‘Yet let no man strive, nor let any man reprove, for your people are as those who strive with the priest.’

But none of the people of Israel will have any cause to grumble, or disagree with YHWH’s actions, or reprove Him for what He has done, because they themselves are lawless. They are like ‘priest-challengers’. In Israel the priests were the final supreme court, and to openly challenge their final decision was seen as worthy of death (see Deuteronomy 17:12-13). It was to engage in anarchism. And those who are lawless and anarchists are in no position to lay charges against anyone else at all, and especially not against God.

(Rendering ’al (not) as God (’El) instead of as the negative, although possible linguistically, does not seem likely in view of the fact that Hosea uses El elsewhere only in order to distinctively stress His power e.g. Hosea 1:10; Hosea 11:9; Hosea 11:12).


Verse 5

‘And you will stumble in the day, and the prophet also will stumble with you in the night, and I will destroy your mother.’

The final result of their behaviour will be that God will cause them to stumble, as He metes out His punishment on them, and it will be to such an extent that it will be by both day and night. Furthermore the prophets, whom they approach after work is done (therefore by night), will stumble with them and lead them astray with false prophecies. Thus both people and false prophets will be caught up in the furore. And in the end mother Israel will itself be destroyed. There will be no more Israel. There may be a hint with regard to the prophets stumbling in the night of their being in ‘spiritual darkness’. But the main emphasis is undoubtedly of the continuing nature and inescapability of the punishment.

The use of the term ‘mother’ to represent Israel as the mother of ‘the children of Israel’ (Hosea 4:1) is of course a repetition of the idea in chapters 1-2 where Israel is represented as the mother of the three children who represent the children of Israel.


Verse 6-7

‘My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.

‘Because you have rejected knowledge,

I will also reject you, that you shall be no priest to me.

Seeing you have forgotten the law of your God,

I also will forget your children.’

It is possible to see this as addressed to Israel, seen as priests to the nations (compare Isaiah 61:6), or alternately it may be seen as addressed directly to the priesthood. But even in the latter case we must remember that from YHWH’s viewpoint Israel had no distinctive priesthood, for their priests were not descended from Aaron. They were charlatans originally appointed by Jeroboam I (1 Kings 13:33). Thus as far as He was concerned the distinction between priest and people was blurred. The priests were merely ‘of the people’.

His accusation is that His people are ‘destroyed for lack of knowledge’, i.e. because they do not know YHWH as He really is (Hosea 4:1) and are ignorant of the covenant. It may be that this was being laid directly at the priests’ doors, for it was their responsibility to teach the Law, but the failure was undoubtedly partly due to the fact that the priests had been appointed by the people (through their king) rather than by God, so that the people had to share the blame. Whoever is being addressed (whether priest or people-priests) the charge is that they have culpably rejected knowledge, and especially knowledge as found in His Law, and therefore will themselves be rejected so that they can no longer serve YHWH in a priestly function, or indeed in any other way. It is always dangerous to ignore genuine truth. And because they have forgotten the Law of God, He will no longer watch over and care for ‘their children’ (either their own children or the people seen as their children). He will in return ‘forget’ them.


Verses 6-10

YHWH Attacks Both Priests And People Because They Are So Taken Up With Sin That They No Longer Heed Him (Hosea 4:6-10).

Here we may see YHWH as attacking the priests for failing to teach the people, with the result that the people too will be punished for their doings. Alternately the whole people might be being seen as ‘priests to the nations’ in accordance with Isaiah 61:6. Either way we have to recognise that the priesthood in the northern kingdom was not a legitimate one. They were not ‘sons of Aaron’ in accordance with the Law, but appointees of the king. Thus the distinction between them and the people was blurred.

Analysis of Hosea 4:6-10.

a My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6 a).

b Because you have rejected knowledge, I will also reject you, that you shall be no priest to me (Hosea 4:6 b).

c Seeing you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children (Hosea 4:6 c).

d As they were multiplied, so they sinned against me (Hosea 4:7 a).

c I will change their glory into shame. They feed on the sin of my people, and set their heart on their iniquity (Hosea 4:7-8).

b And it will be, like people, like priest, and I will punish them for their ways, and will requite them their doings (Hosea 4:9).

a And they will eat, and not have enough, they will play the harlot, and will not increase, because they have left off taking heed to YHWH (Hosea 4:10).

Note that in ‘a’ the people are destroyed for lack of knowledge, and in the parallel they will not receive what they have hoped for because they have ceased listening to YHWH. In ‘b’ the priests will be rejected for lack of knowledge, and in the parallel the people, similarly to the priests, will be punished for their ways and doings. In ‘c’ they have forgotten the Law of God, and in the parallel they set their heart on iniquity. Centrally in ‘d the larger the population grew, the more they sinned against Him.


Verse 7

‘As they were multiplied, so they sinned against me. I will change their glory into shame.’

YHWH then draws attention to what He had done for them. He had caused them to multiply (compare Hosea 1:10), and He had given them prosperity (‘glory’). This was always seen as a sign of God’s approval. And what was the result? The more they multiplied the more they sinned against Him. Thus they turned God’s goodness into an excuse for more sin. In return therefore He would turn their glory into shame. The glory of a nation was found in its wealth and prosperity (see Isaiah 17:3-4), so that this was saying that He would destroy their wealth and render them poverty-stricken with the result that they would be ashamed, a situation certainly fulfilled in the various exiles.

Alternatively the idea may be that it was the priests who had multiplied in numbers, which had simply resulted in their sinning more, but it seems more probable that the reference is to the people as a whole. Either way their punishment would be justified.


Verse 8

‘They feed on the sin of my people, and set their heart on their iniquity.’

The ‘they’ here might suggest that the priests are in mind as a distinctive body, becoming wealthy as a result of leading the people astray (feeding on the sin of His people). And the second charge is that they themselves then also set their minds on iniquity, being therefore without excuse either way.

There is a warning in this to any who minister in God’s name, lest they use their position to obtain wealth for themselves. It is a reminder that it will then not be long before set their minds on iniquity. Wealth is a dangerous thing to possess, especially for a man of God, and many a ministry has been rendered powerless by the effects of wealth.

Alternately the ‘they’ might simply refer to Israelites as taking advantage of fellow-Israelites even though they were God’s people. Certainly all the people did at that time take advantage of the general sins of the people in order to enrich themselves. And all, apart from a few godly souls, set their hearts on iniquity. So the words could equally be seen as applying to Israelites.


Verse 9

‘And it will be, like people, like priest, and I will punish them for their ways, and will requite them their doings.’

For in the end there will be no distinction between people and priest. People and priest alike will behave badly and will be punished for their ways and requited for their doings, because they are all equally guilty.


Verse 10

‘And they will eat, and not have enough, they will play the harlot, and will not increase, because they have left off taking heed to YHWH.’

And part of their punishment will lie in the fact that when they eat they will not have enough, and when the women have relations with men they will produce no children, both factors which can result from bad conditions, or from cruel exile, whilst there are certain transferable sexual diseases which can result in infertility. And this will happen to them because they have ceased listening to, and taking notice of, YHWH. ‘Playing the harlot’ may refer either to acting as cult prostitutes, or simply to behaving loosely as a result of becoming drunk at ritual feasts and sacrifices. Alternately it may simply indicate participating in the false worship of Baal instead of the true worship of YHWH. In the latter case the ‘increase’ may then refer to their increase in wealth and fruitfulness.

Some would add the word ‘whoredom’ from Hosea 4:11 to this verse on the grounds of rhythm (there are no verse divisions in the Hebrew text). Then we would read, ‘because they have left off taking heed to YHWH to indulge in whoredom’. But ‘whoredom’ fits well into the threefold description in Hosea 4:11, whilst ‘the spirit of whoredom causing them to err’ in Hosea 4:12 parallels the idea in Hosea 4:11 in terms of whoredom ‘taking away the understanding’. Thus we feel that it should be left where it is.


Verse 11

‘Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the understanding.’

Israel are here described as being lacking in understanding both because of their whoredom and licentiousness, and because they indulge themselves in abundance of wine, each of which is a consequence of their religious activities. Illicit sex and drink are thus dulling their minds and preventing them from thinking straightly.

Some would bring ‘my people’ from being the first words in Hosea 4:12 to being the last words in Hosea 4:11. The Hebrew text can be read either way (it has no punctuation). We would then read ‘whoredom and wine and new wine take away the understanding of My people’. Hosea 4:12 would then read ‘They ask counsel at their tree --’. It makes no difference to the overall sense.


Verses 11-19

Strong Wine and Illicit Sex Have Turned The People’s Minds So That They Look To Bits Of Wood Concerning Their Future And Play The Harlot On The Tops Of Mountains And Under Sacred Trees Rather Than Looking To YHWH (Hosea 4:11-19).

The strong wine and illicit sex which are a part of their religious activities have taken away their understanding, so that their minds are befuddled and they seek to pieces of wood for their divination, and to the tops of mountains and under sacred trees for their worship. YHWH therefore intends to punish Israel for their ways and forbids them any longer to use His Name, a consequence of which will be that they will be put to shame for the behaviour.

Analysis of Hosea 4:11-19.

a Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the understanding (Hosea 4:11).

b My people ask counsel at their tree, and their staff makes declaration to them, for the spirit of whoredom has caused them to err, and they have played the harlot, departing from under their God (Hosea 4:12).

c They sacrifice on the tops of the mountains, and burn incense on the hills, under oaks and poplars and terebinths, because its shadow is good. Therefore your daughters play the harlot, and your brides commit adultery (Hosea 4:13).

d I will not punish your daughters when they play the harlot, nor your brides when they commit adultery, for the men themselves go apart with harlots, and they sacrifice with the prostitutes, and the people who do not understand will be overthrown (Hosea 4:14).

c Though you, Israel, play the harlot, yet let Judah not offend, and do not come to Gilgal, nor go you up to Beth-aven, nor swear, “As YHWH lives” (Hosea 4:15).

b For Israel has behaved himself stubbornly, like a stubborn heifer. Will YHWH now feed them as a lamb in a large place? Ephraim is joined to idols, let him alone (Hosea 4:16-17).

a Their drink has become sour, they play the harlot continually, her shields dearly love shame, the wind has wrapped her up in its wings, and they will be put to shame because of their sacrifices (Hosea 4:18-19).

Note that in ‘a’ lasciviousness and wine have taken away their understanding, and in the parallel their drink has become soured, and their behaviour will cause them to be ashamed. In ‘b’ seek to wooden things and spiritual harlotry, and in the parallel they have behaved stubbornly and are joined to idols. In ‘c’ they sacrifice in high places and commit spiritual harlotry, and in the parallel they are seen as playing the harlot and Judah are therefore not to go to Gilgal or Bethaven to sacrifice with them. Centrally in ‘d’ the overthrow of the people is determined because of their illicit sexual and religious behaviour.


Verse 12

‘My people ask counsel at their piece of wood (tree, timber), and their staff makes declaration to them, for the spirit of whoredom has caused them to err, and they have played the harlot, departing from under their God.’

The result of their behaviour is that they foolishly seek counsel from pieces of wood carved into idols, or alternatively from sacred trees (Hosea 4:13), and look to their staffs to divine for them. This latter probably involved holding a rod vertically and spinning it, or holding two or more rods vertically, and then letting go of them, reading the future from the way in which they fell (called rhabdomancy). The idea is that they prefer this to hearing YHWH’s word through His prophets, while using it as a substitute for the Urim and Thummim in the Temple, which was the God-ordained mean of consultation. And they do this because the spirit of licentiousness within them has caused them to err, turning their minds to folly. The idea may well be that evil spirits have therefore taken possession of them (compare Deuteronomy 32:17; 1 Kings 22:22), or it could merely be indicating the driving force of their sexual urges which can make men think foolishly and do foolish things. And the consequence is that they have committed spiritual adultery, and probably literal adultery with sacred prostitutes or willing drunken worshippers of the opposite sex, thereby departing from being under YHWH’s control through the covenant. They are flouting all YHWH’s requirements.


Verse 13

‘They sacrifice on the tops of the mountains, and burn incense on the hills, under oaks and poplars and terebinths, because its shadow is good. Therefore your daughters play the harlot, and your brides commit adultery.’

High places, (raised sites, especially in the hills), were ever a feature of Canaanite religion and Baal worship, and Israel had been under instructions to destroy them (Numbers 33:52). Furthermore Israel had been warned against such high places lest they come under God’s anger (Leviticus 26:30). The tops of mountains were seen by idolaters as being nearest to the gods, which made them a favourite place for erecting high places. There they sacrificed and burned incense to their gods. Another favourite site for such high places was under green trees whose branches offered shade from the burning heat, those being selected which had widespread branches and thick foliage, of which examples are here given. They provided the ‘feel-good factor’, and were also seen as containing ‘life’ as demonstrated by their greenness. The specific identity of the trees is not certain.

The consequence of this worship was that the young Israelite women were introduced to illicit sex as a part of the religious ritual, with their young unmarried women acting like prostitutes, and their newly wed brides committing adultery. As a result the purity of the young women of Israel had become a thing of the past.

‘Because its shadow is good,’ possibly a satirical indication that that is all the good that they can expect from it. It would not be what was in the mind of the worshippers. They probably thought in terms of its protectiveness (compare Psalms 91:1).


Verse 14

‘I will not punish your daughters when they play the harlot, nor your brides when they commit adultery, for the men themselves go apart with harlots, and they sacrifice with the prostitutes, and the people who do not understand will be overthrown.’

YHWH then pointed out that He would not punish the young women for their behaviour because they were only following the example of their elders. For their men-folk also went apart with cult prostitutes or drunken female worshippers, and offered sacrifices with prostitutes instead of with and on behalf of their wives. This would have brought up short those in Israel who blamed the young women of Israel for their licentiousness, and yet excused their men-folk who were equally guilty. And at the bottom of this all this perverse sexual behaviour lay a lack of understanding of the will of YHWH. They had persuaded themselves that they were encouraging nature to become fertile as a result of ‘sympathetic magic’ by which nature would follow heir example, and failed to recognise how much they were debasing themselves and dishonouring child-bearing. Thus this people who ‘do not understand’ (compare Hosea 4:11), partly because they are licentious and drunk, will be ‘overthrown’. They will receive what is due to them from YHWH at the hands of their enemies.


Verse 15

‘Though you, Israel, play the harlot, yet let Judah not offend, and do not come to Gilgal, nor go you up to Beth-aven, nor swear, “As YHWH lives”.’

Within the prophet’s heart was always a fear that Judah would go in the same way as Israel, whilst his hope was that if Judah remained solidly behind YHWH it would be a constant encouragement to him in the face of Israel’s coming demise. As a result he always had one eye on Judah. For while Judah survived, the demise of Israel would not seem quite so bad, for it would mean that the worship of YHWH still continued. That is why, in an aside, he prays in his heart that Judah may not follow in the same way as Israel.

Some see the call not to come up to Gilgal and Bethaven as addressed to the people of Israel, on the grounds that Judah would not be seen by Hosea as yet being in a state where they could not use the name of YHWH in oaths. But it may well be that ‘as YHWH lives’ had become a feature of the worship at Gilgal and Bethel so that Judah were simply being called on not to do it at Gilgal and Bethaven in idolatrous company. For certainly what follows appears to be addressed to Judah, warning them not to play the harlot like Israel was doing. The idea here then is that they were not to play the harlot like Israel by joint participation with them in these ways. This would suggest that many worshippers from Judah had taken to coming to enjoy the feasts at Gilgal and Bethel, which were not too distant from their border, a fact which would have grieved Hosea’s faithful heart and would explain his constant ‘off the cuff’ references to Judah. Gilgal and Bethaven were centres of syncretistic worship, and were thus to be seen as to be avoided because of their idolatry, whilst swearing ‘as YHWH lives’ was to be avoided in such company. This was why the call came to any who would hear to avoid all three, the two sanctuaries and swearing by YHWH. Gilgal was in the mountains of Ephraim, unless we see it as the sanctuary first set up by Joshua in the Jordan valley, and Bethaven (‘house of trouble’) was probably a satirical name for Bethel (‘house of God’), which was also in the mountains. They were easily accessible to northern Judah.


Verse 16

‘For Israel has behaved himself stubbornly, like a stubborn heifer. Will YHWH then feed them as a lamb in a large place?’

In vivid terms Hosea then points out that Israel was like a stubborn heifer which digs its feet in and refuses to follow its owners, even when dragged with ropes. In the same way Israel has, as it were, dug in its feet firmly against YHWH and the requirements of His covenant. It refuses to respond to His call. And Hosea points out that this being so, they cannot expect YHWH to feed them like a lamb in an expansive pasture. This latter picture may well have been one popularly taught at the sanctuaries mentioned with the idea that YHWH would do precisely that. So Judah is being warned not to be deceived by the claims made by the sanctuaries.

Alternately we may translate as ‘YHWH will feed them as a lamb in a large place’, the idea being that YHWH will break their stubbornness by sending them like unresisting lambs to Sheol (the underworld), for who can resist death? Compare in this regard Psalms 49:14, ‘like sheep they are laid in Sheol, death will pasture them --.’


Verse 17

‘Ephraim is joined to idols, let him alone.’

Indeed all are to recognise that Ephraim (Israel) is conjoined with idols (like mistresses to their lovers, or men bound by a covenant) and is therefore to be avoided. It is to be left alone. Alternately the word ‘conjoined’ can have a magical significance and may signify ‘bound by enchantment’. The command to ‘let him alone’ comes as something of a shock. The prophets would be expected to call for the uniting of Israel and Judah. But now Israel are seen as having gone so far along the downward path, that they are to be avoided at all costs.

This is his first use of the term ‘Ephraim’ which will from now on become a regular feature of the prophecy. It is not always easy to distinguish between Hosea’s use of ‘Israel’ (always used up to this point) and his use of ‘Ephraim’ (the largest and most influential tribe in northern Israel). There are a number of places where the names appear simply to signify the same thing (e.g. Hosea 5:3; Hosea 5:9 and often), but at other times the impression given is that Ephraim represents a distinction in Israel (e.g. Hosea 5:5), possibly what is most sinful in Israel. It may further be that we are to see that once the Assyrians had decimated Israel (2 Kings 15:29), the mountains of Ephraim were almost all that was left to Israel, clustered around Samaria, with the result that what remained of Israel became known as Ephraim (the largest of the tribes of ancient Israel along with Judah) and sank into ever worse behaviour (Hosea 5:11-14; Hosea 6:4; Hosea 6:10; Hosea 7:1; Hosea 7:8; Hosea 7:11; etc). Compare Isaiah 7:2; etc. But the usage is regularly wider than that. Thus the significance of the term must always be decided in context, and in many cases either interpretation will be possible.


Verse 18-19

‘Their drink has become sour, they play the harlot continually, her rulers dearly love shame, the wind has wrapped her up in its wings, and they will be put to shame because of their sacrifices.’

Hosea now provides the reasons why Israel are to be avoided. The first reason is because their drink has become sour, not literally, but because of their disobedience and unfaithfulness to YHWH. Drinking was a major part of their feasts as they ‘drank before YHWH’ (compare Exodus 24:11). But now it is no longer to be seen as religiously satisfying, or as a contribution to spiritual blessing as they join in worship, but is to be seen as ‘sour’, and as bringing judgment and condemnation on those who partake. We can compare how Paul warned that to drink of the wine at the Lord’s Supper would bring judgment on those whose hearts were not right and who treated it casually (1 Corinthians 11:27-29).

The second reason is because they constantly ‘play the harlot’ by lusting after the Baalim. By doing so they demonstrate their unfaithfulness to YHWH, even if they do introduce Him and His Name (‘as YHWH lives’) into their rituals. Thus they are unacceptable to Him.

The third reason is because ‘her shields (i.e. her rulers/defenders) dearly love shame.’ The thought is that even the leadership, and those responsible for their wellbeing and protection, lust after shameful things rather than after YHWH. They love what is shameful. Note the change from ‘they’ to ‘her’, the former representing the children of Israel, the latter Israel as an entity (their mother - Hosea 4:5). Hosea regularly changes from singular to plural and back again when speaking of Israel, even in the same context.

The fourth reason is because, as a result of their false sacrifices offered at the high places, Israel has been ‘wrapped up in the wings of the wind’, that is, are finding and will find that the winds of destruction are blowing heavily upon them, and will eventually carry them away from their land. Depending on the date of this prophecy they had already experienced something of this (or would soon) when part of their land had been turned into an Assyrian province, with many taken into exile (2 Kings 15:29). One day it would happen to them all (2 Kings 17:5 ff.).

Some, however would translate as ‘spirit’ instead of ‘wind’ (compare Hosea 4:12) with the idea being that they are borne along by ‘the spirit of licentiousness’ (whoredom).

 


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Hosea 4:4". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/hosea-4.html. 2013.

Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology