The Man Who Never Stopped Loving

An EasyEnglish Commentary (2800 word vocabulary) on the Book of Hosea

Mark Kirkpatrick

Words in boxes are from the Bible.

A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.

This commentary has been through Advanced Checking.



Hosea wrote in the middle of the eighth century BC (Before Christ). He gave most of his messages to Israel, the country in the north. But some of the messages were for Judah, the country in the south. The book has many *curses and *blessings, but there are many more *curses than *blessings. If we want to understand this book, we need to understand the *covenant at Sinai. The *curses and *blessings of Hosea are connected to this *covenant. Hosea’s job was to tell his people that there was danger. God was going to make sure that Israel kept his *covenant. Hosea said that God was going to punish his people. It is the same message that many of the *prophets gave before the *exile. In most of the book, Hosea says that Israel will have death and illness. He also says that another nation will destroy Israel and take them away. When these things have happened, God will be able to *bless Israel again. It is important that we understand what these promises mean. Israel will not be able to avoid God’s anger. Israel has broken the *covenant and so the *curses are going to happen soon.

Only a few people in Israel were loyal to God at this time. More people in Judah were loyal to God. Israel was a strong and rich country. The people of Israel were good at fighting wars. Because of this, people from Israel met people from other countries. This meant that Israel knew about other peoples’ gods. They forgot the *commandments of Sinai. In the past, there was a group of kings that started with Jehu in 842 BC. This group of kings ended with the death of Jeroboam 2nd (793 - 753 BC). But, after he died, there were six more kings in Israel. It was a difficult time. Other leaders in the country killed these kings. Also, there was a war between Assyria and Israel. In 734 BC, Israel became a much smaller country. This was the beginning of the end for Israel. Then, in 722 BC, Assyria destroyed Israel.

We are not sure where Hosea gave his messages. Maybe it was in *Samaria and Bethel. None of the messages has dates. Hosea might have known Amos, who was older than he was. Amos also wrote messages to Israel. We do not know if Hosea spoke his messages to people. The message of 5:1-7 suggests that he did. We know very little about Hosea and his family. Hosea tells us very few things about himself. Chapters 1-3 have been a puzzle to people for a long time. The word ‘*prostitute’ in 1:2 can mean several things. It might mean:

·           an ordinary *prostitute.

·           a *holy *prostitute who worked in the *temple.

·           a woman who dressed like a *prostitute.

·           a person who came from a nation that had no morals.

·           a northern *Israelite.

·           a woman who was born to parents who were not married to each other.

·           a woman who was only sometimes a *prostitute.

It seems most likely that she was an ordinary *prostitute. After her marriage, Gomer was probably loyal to Hosea at first. This was while the three children were young. Later she left Hosea for another man (3:1). God told Hosea to marry a *prostitute so that his life would be a type of *parable. This *parable would say something about the relations between God and the nation of Israel.

Hosea believed that it is important to know God as a person. People have called him the Saint John of the *Old Testament (OT). Hosea does not want the peoples’ *sacrifices to be empty. This is when the person who offers the *sacrifice is not sincere. He wants their *sacrifices to help them to know God in a true way.

Chapter 1

v1 This is the message of the *Lord that came to Hosea, the son of Beeri. This message came when Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah were kings of Judah. This was during the time of Jeroboam, son of Joash, who was king of Israel.

Hosea’s wife and children

v2 The *Lord began to speak to Israel through Hosea. The *Lord said to Hosea, ‘Go, and marry a *prostitute. I want you to have children by her. The children will be like her. In the same way, my people have left me and have been *guilty of terrible *adultery’. v3 So Hosea married a woman called Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim. After this, a child began to grow in her and she gave birth to their first child, a son. v4 The *Lord said to Hosea, “Give him the name of ‘Jezreel’. This is because I will soon punish the family of Jehu. I will punish them because of the people that Jehu murdered at Jezreel. Then I will put an end to the nation of Israel. v5 And in the Valley of Jezreel I will at that time completely destroy the armies of Israel”.

v6 Gomer had a second child - this time it was a daughter. The *Lord said to Hosea, ‘Call her Lo-Ruhamah. This is because I will not show love to the people of Israel any more. I will not forget their *sins. v7 But I will show love to the people of Judah. I, the *Lord, will save them. I will not do it by war. I will not use swords or *bows and arrows. I will not use horses and people who ride horses’.

v8 After Gomer had looked after Lo-Ruhamah, a child began to grow in Gomer again. She gave birth to a son. v9 Then the *Lord said to Hosea, ‘Call him Lo-Ammi. This is because the people of Israel are not my people, and I am not their God’.

Everything in the book of Hosea is a message from God. God had the message in his mind before he gave it. Hosea did not give his own thoughts. He repeated the message that God had for Israel. The name ‘Hosea’ is like ‘Joshua’. It means ‘God is our *Saviour’.

The book has dates that give the kings of Judah. Some people may ask why it does. The book only mentions one king (Jeroboam) from Israel. This is because the message is to both Israel and Judah. The end of Israel is near, but soon the end will come to Judah too. It is possible that 1:2-9 describes things that happened to Hosea at the beginning of his work as a *prophet. It would take five or six years for all the things that are in these verses to happen.

God told Hosea to marry a woman. He knew that she would become a *prostitute. Then his experiences would become a *parable that he would act out in his life. This is because the *worship of *idols is like going to a *prostitute. The woman gave birth to three children. Perhaps the marriage was between 752 and 750 BC. This was before Jeroboam 2nd died between 747 and 745 BC.

The names of the children each have a special meaning. They are a way for God to speak to Israel. The names show that another nation will destroy the people of Israel. Hosea does not have any choice about his marriage. Later, Hosea uses the word ‘*prostitutes’ in 4:12 and 5:4. He means that Israel behaves like a *prostitute. Gomer’s children are part of a bad nation. Hosea does not suggest that Gomer gave birth to the children before she married Hosea. Jezreel, who was born first, was Hosea’s son. But it is possible that Hosea was not the father of the next two children. We cannot be sure because the book does not mention him as the father.

The name Lo-Ruhamah means ‘Not Pitied’ or ‘Not Loved’. God will no longer care about the needs of his people even if they depend on God for everything. Israel’s enemies will defeat her. But God will have *mercy on Judah because they were more true to him.

The name Lo-Ammi means ‘Not My people’. God says that his *covenant with Israel is over. In the future, he will destroy Israel.

The name Jezreel means ‘God sows’. Perhaps the name was to make people remember an event in the past. This was when Jehu killed the group of Omri kings at Jezreel. The Jehu group of kings ended with the death of Zechariah in 752 BC. This showed that God would bring an end to Israel too. The name Lo-Ammi shows that there is no mistake about what God thinks about Israel.

It was God who gave these names to Gomer’s children. These names will show what will happen to Judah and Israel in the future. God controls the direction of both Judah and Israel. This is because they are his people. The nation of Israel ended because God gave a *judgement on the people. This was because of their *sin. Hosea explains this again later in the book. But God will have *mercy on Judah because they were still God’s *covenant people.

God will make Israel a better place again

v10 In the future, the number of the people of Israel will be like the sand that is next to the sea. You cannot measure the sand or count it. Now God says to Israel, ‘You are not my people’. But the day will come when he will say to them, ‘You are the children of the living God’! v11 The people of Judah and the people of Israel will unite again. They will choose for themselves a single leader. Their nation will grow and do well in their land. The day of Jezreel will be a great day.

Chapter 2

v1 Then you will tell your brothers, ‘You are my people’. And you will tell your sisters, ‘He has shown *mercy to you’.

In chapter 1 verse 10, the message changes to a message of hope. At this time, there were about 600 000 people in Israel and Judah. But the message is about the promises that God gave to Abraham (see Genesis 13:16; 15:5; 22:17). Israel and Judah will unite again in the future. A new leader will bring his people together. God wants to bring back Israel in a way that makes it a part of Judah. The words of the promise in verse 10 are like Genesis 32:12. The word ‘future’ can mean thousands of years in the future. Jeremiah 33:22 says the same thing. Only Hosea uses the words ‘children of the living God’ in the *OT. Hosea is careful to use the word ‘leader’ (verse 11). He does not use the word ‘king’ as this was a time when Israel had war. The kings also did not obey God. The *Hebrew word for ‘unite’ can also mean a plant that comes up from the ground. It would be like a *resurrection. Jezreel, a valley, is another way of using the word Israel. The words ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters’ refer to the people of Israel. They include people from Judah. This time in the future will be a great time of *blessing for everyone.

The *Lord speaks to the people of Israel

v2 My children, argue with your mother.

Argue! This is because she is not my wife,

And I am not her husband.

Tell her to stop living like a *prostitute.

Tell her to take away from between her breasts the men that she loved.

v3 If she does not do this, I will take away all her clothes.

She will be naked like the day that she was born.

I will make her like a land that has no water. I will make her like a dry desert.

She will die because she will have no water.

v4 I will not love her children.

They are the children of a woman of *adultery.

v5 Their mother has not been loyal to her husband.

She should be ashamed of the way that her children were born.

She said, ‘I will go to the men whom I love.

They give me food and water,

Wool and cloth,

oil from trees and wine’.

v6 So I (the *Lord) will put something in the way of her (Israel’s) road.

I will use plants that hurt.

I will build a wall so that Israel cannot find her way.

v7 She will run after the men that she loves.

But she will not catch them.

She will look for them.

But she will not catch them.

Then she will say, ‘I will go back to my first husband (God).

Life was better for me when I was with him.

Life was better then than it is now’.

v8 Israel was not willing to believe that I (the *Lord) was the one who gave her grain, wine and oil.

I was the one who gave her plenty of silver and gold.

She used this silver and gold when she wanted to *worship at Baal.

v9 So I will take back my grain at the harvest.

I will take back my new wine when it is ready.

I will take back my wool and cloth.

This was what she was going to use to cover her naked body.

v10 Now I will take away her clothes.

This is why I will take away her clothes. Many men loved her. They will all see her as she is.

No one will be able to take her from my power.

v11 I (God) will stop the special times that she enjoys herself.

I will stop her holidays.

I will stop the times when she enjoys new moons.

v12 I will destroy her *grapes and her fruit trees.

She said that the men who loved her paid her with these things.

But I will destroy her gardens.

They will become like a wild forest.

Wild animals will come and eat from those plants.

v13 I will punish her for the times that she burnt *incense to Baal.

Also because she put on *jewellery.

This is why she put it on. She wanted to run after the men who loved her.

But she forgot me.

The *Lord has said this.

In this chapter, Hosea is saying things in a special way. He says that God is like a judge. This judge is going to decide things about Israel. He will decide them in a ‘court’. First, he asks his children to argue with their mother. Which children are these? The ones that understand what God wants. Their mother, Israel, is the part of Israel that does not follow God. And so God is going to make a *judgement against the children and the mother.

‘She is not my wife’ (verse 2) is perhaps a legal way of saying something. God says that he does not want to be Israel’s husband any more. Their marriage is now over. But God does not want to end the marriage. He wants his wife to return to him. He wants his wife to change the way she behaves. But God is a judge too and will make Israel pay for her *sins. This is because they have not been true to him. He has the legal power to do this.

When Israel was born, she needed God. But when she grew up, she *worshipped false gods (verses 4-5). The men she loved were the Baals (*idols). This was as bad as a woman who is not true to her husband. God decides to punish her. He will make sure that she cannot go where she wants. Walls and other things will stop her. Then she will want to return to God.

Verse 7 She will *repent and the marriage will not end. But this idea of *repenting does not last for long. Hosea will quickly bring the people back to the idea of *judgement. Israel forgot that God gave her everything. God gave her the grain, wine and *oil. She thought that Baal gave her the silver and gold. But it was God who gave her real riches. So for the second time, God becomes like a *judge. He will take away her riches. There will be no grain and no wine. Israel will have no clothes. This happened after 748 BC. There was war between Assyria and Israel and things became difficult.

God was angry because Israel’s holidays became days of Baal (verse 11). God wanted people to rest on the *Sabbath. But this, too, became a holiday for eating (see Amos 8:5). Hosea comes back to the idea of a *prostitute. Hosea perhaps means that this is like the time in Exodus 32:2. This was when the people of Israel *worshipped the young cow in the desert. Aaron made this young cow out of gold.

The *Lord’s love for his people

v14 So I (the *Lord) will say words of love to her. I will lead her into the desert and speak kind words to her. v15 There I will give her back the *grapes that she had. I will give her Trouble Valley as a door of hope. Then she will return to me. It will be like the time that she came out of the land of Egypt. v16 Then, in the future, she will call me her husband. She will not call me her Baal any more. v17 I will never let her speak the name of Baal again. Then people will not use the Baal’s names again. v18 At that time, I and the people of Israel will make a new *covenant. I will also do this with the animals of the field and the birds of the sky. I will do it with the animals that move along the ground. I will also break Israel’s *bows and swords. There will be no more war. I will remove the things that men use to make war. My people will be able to live in safety.

v19 I (the *Lord) will make you my wife for all time. I will be true and fair. I will always love you and show *mercy. I will make you mine until the end of time. v20 I will make you into a wife that does not leave me. Then you will know the *Lord in a true way.

v21 At that time I will answer the *prayers of my people Israel. I will speak to the sky. Then rain will fall on the earth. v22 The ground will give back grain, wine and *oil. They will have an answer for Jezreel. v23 I will plant many seeds on her land. To Lo-Ruhamah, I will show *mercy. To Lo-Ammi, I will say, ‘You are my people’. And they will say to me, ‘You are my God’.

Again, Hosea says what the judge is going to do. But this time it is a message of love. The desert was the place where God and Israel ‘married’. This was where Israel needed God. God will use kind words. These are the words that a husband uses before he marries a wife. Perhaps Hosea is thinking of a time far in the future. It will be after the time that God has punished Israel. Trouble Valley (the Valley of Achor) was a place where Israel did not obey God (Joshua 7:24). It was a place where a man broke God’s *covenant. But, in the future, Israel will not need Baal any more. Israel will not *worship Baal because Israel will not know anything about him. Nobody will hear about Baal. Nobody will remember him (verse 17). People will only remember the name of God. In this future time, Israel will have two *blessings:

·           Animals will not be able to hurt the people of Israel.

·           There will be no more war.

There will be a *covenant between God and Israel. Animals will not eat crops. There will be no more *exiles. God will make Israel a good place to live in again. This is not because God will change his mind. Nor will it be because Israel will deserve this. It is because God is being true to his *covenant.

The word ‘love’ (verse 19) does not explain this idea completely. Hosea uses the special *Hebrew word ‘hesed’. This word means being true to a *covenant. Sometimes a Bible will translate this word as ‘*covenant of love’ or ‘great love’. It does not mean ‘*mercy’. This is how some other translations have it. Hosea is perhaps thinking of a time when Israel will be very different. Perhaps there will be many more people in this new Israel. God will finish the old marriage but he will bring back a new marriage. The new marriage will be fair and true. God will have *mercy on Israel. It will be for all time. In Israel, a man paid money to the father of his future wife (see 2 Samuel 3:14). In the future, God himself will pay the money for his wife (Israel). He will be the husband and father. God himself will bring the rain. Baal will not bring it. The rain will give Israel everything that the people of Israel need. Jezreel means ‘God plants’. Hosea’s children are part of this future. In the past, they did not belong to Hosea. In the future, they will belong to him.

The word ‘speak’ in verse 21 can also mean ‘sing’. Maybe God will sing a new song at this time. God promises three things:

·           Israel will be true to God alone (verse 17).

·           God will be true to Israel (verse 20).

·           The land will have much fruit (verses 18, 21, 22).

Chapter 3

Hosea returns to his wife

v1 Then the *Lord said to me again, ‘Go and show your love to your wife again. You must love her although another man loves her. You must love her although she is a woman of *adultery. And you must continue to love her. You must love her in the same way that the *Lord loves the people of Israel. But they continue to *worship other gods. And they like to offer special fruit cakes to these gods’. v2 So I bought the woman with 15 pieces of silver and nine amounts of *barley. v3 Then I told her, ‘You must stay at home with me for a long time. You must not be like a *prostitute. You must not be too friendly with another man. And I will live with you’. v4 In the same way, the people of Israel will continue for a long time without a king or leader. They will not have *sacrifices, or special stones to help them to remember God. They will not have any *ephods or gods in their homes. v5 In the time to come the people of Israel will come back. Then they will look up to the *Lord their God and David their king. They will come with great respect to the *Lord and will receive his *blessings.

The word ‘love’ can mean different things in the *Hebrew (verse 1). It includes a love from God. It also means a love between a man and a woman. This love will mean that a man will want to look after his wife. He will want to do good things for her. God does not think about himself when he loves Israel. The things that Israel needs are important. These things must come first. The ‘fruit’ was given to Baal as a *sacrifice. This was when the people took their crops in. Hosea did not return to Gomer because he loved her. He returned to her because God sent him. Hosea began to love her again in the same way that he loved her before. It was a *parable. God was always going to love Israel.

Gomer was probably a slave and Hosea was buying her back (verse 2). But God does not buy back the same old Israel. He wants a new Israel. Hosea does not give much money for Gomer. But he now owns her. Hosea tells her that she must stay with him for a long time. She must not become a *prostitute again. Hosea also says that he will not have sex with her. It is possible that this is what verse 3 means. Hosea wants to keep his wife safe. But he also wants to change her into something that is better.

In verse 4 Hosea starts to speak to Israel. Israel will have no king. Another country, perhaps Assyria, will rule Israel. The ‘stone’ was a place where Israel made *sacrifices. These *sacrifices were made to another god. *Ephods were special clothes that a *priest wore. This was part of a *sacrifice that God liked. But, in the future, God will take away both kinds of *sacrifices. Israel will return to God. This perhaps means that they will return after the *exile. But it also means they will return to *worship God in a true way. They will do this after they have learned much. The name ‘David’ means that there will be only one leader in the future. He will be like the future king. So there are three important ideas in this chapter:

·           Gomer does not deserve Hosea’s love. In the same way, Israel does not deserve God’s love. (This is the true Bible meaning of the word ‘love’.)

·           Israel would have a period when they were true to God in a special way (they would not be able to offer *sacrifices).

·           Then they would look for God. This would be a sign that they wanted to *repent in a true way.

Chapter 4

The *Lord accuses Israel

v1 People of Israel, listen to the *Lord’s message!

The *Lord will argue against the people that live in this country.

People in this country do not really know God.

They are not true to him.

They are not loyal to him.

v2 They swear, lie and kill.

They rob and are *guilty of *adultery.

There is no limit to what they do.

There is one murder after another.

v3 So the people cry.

Everything that lives is slowly dying.

All the animals and birds, and even the fish, are dying.

v4 No person should argue or say that another person is wrong.

The people are like people who bring the law against a *priest.

v5 You fall over during the day and night.

And the *prophets fall with you.

And I will destroy your mother, Israel.

v6 You are destroying my people because they do not know me.

You have refused to learn.

So I will refuse to let you be a *priest for me.

You have forgotten the law of your God, so I will forget your children.

The *Lord accuses the *priests

v7 ‘The more of you *priests that there are, the more you *sin against me.

You have exchanged your honour for me for things of shame.

v8 The *priests feed on the *sins of my people.

The *priests really enjoy their wicked ways.

v9 So the *priests are not different from the people.

I will punish both of them for their ways.

They will suffer for the wrong things that they did. I will make sure that they suffer.

v10 You people will eat your part of the *sacrifices, but you will still be hungry.

You will live like *prostitutes, but you will not have babies.

This is because you have turned away from me to follow other gods’.

A second part of the book of Hosea begins here (4:1-9:9). There are three important *sins that Hosea writes about:

·           There is no truth.

·           People are not loyal to God.

·           There is no knowledge of God.

The main idea from Hosea tells the people this. Everything that he says comes from God. The message is for everyone who lives ‘in this country’. God is taking his people to a ‘court’. The people will have to give an answer for their *sins. The first of these *sins is that the people are not ‘true’. The people do not know God. This is something that is important to Hosea. It was part of the *covenant between Israel and God. There are six *sins that break the *commandments (Exodus 20:7-15 and Deuteronomy 5:5-19).

In verse 2, to ‘swear’ can also mean a *covenant between two people where they use God’s name. ‘Lying’ means people who are not being true with each other. This could be about business. Life will slowly come to an end (verses 3 and 4). God will not let anything live. The second word for ‘die’ can also mean a woman who cannot have any children. God (verse 4) does not have one *priest that he is thinking of. He is thinking of all the *priests and *prophets in Israel. The word ‘falling’ perhaps means that they cannot see. They are weak. They ‘fall’ against each other (see Deuteronomy 28:28-29). The *priests can only blame themselves for this. Israel used to know God in a way that was part of the *covenant. But the *priests did not want to know God. They forgot him. So God will not accept them as *priests. God will forget the *priest’s children too. In the book of Hosea, the word ‘forget’ is the opposite of ‘know’. It can also mean ‘not obey’.

The *priests became rich when Jeroboam 2nd was king (verse 7). They gave help to the rich people and leaders. The *priests did not try to correct them. The *priests, too, were earning money at the *sacrifices (verse 8). The *priest could have a part of the animal *sacrifice (Leviticus 7:28-38). But it is probable that the *priests forgave people too easily. The *priests did this if the people gave them money. So the *priests lived from the people’s *sins This is what the word ‘eating’ means. But the food will not be enough.

v11 ‘My people drink wine, both old and new. So, they cannot understand anything.

v12 My people are asking a piece of wood for help.

They think that those sticks will tell them what they want to know!


Because they have run after those false gods like *prostitutes.

The people left their gods and are now not true to their God.

v13 They make *sacrifices on the tops of the mountains.

They burn *incense on the hills.

They do this under many different kinds of trees.

The shade under those trees is so nice!

So your daughters become like *prostitutes and your daughters-in-law run after other men.

v14 Yet I will not punish them for this.

This is because the men, too, go to be with *prostitutes.

They go and offer *sacrifices with the *temple *prostitutes.

So, these stupid people will destroy themselves’.

God cannot show his people the right way. This is because of all the wine that the people drink. It makes them stupid (verse 11). The ‘wood’ might mean an *idol. Perhaps it means a way of finding out what God wants about something. The sticks of wood would fall in a certain way (Ezekiel 21:21). There is a spirit of *prostitution. This means that another power has made the people not true to God.

The ‘tops of the mountains’ (verse 13) and ‘hills’ were places where the *priests put *altars. These were small and simple things. Perhaps there were a few trees and a kind of *idol. Perhaps they made some of the *sacrifices to God. But they made some *sacrifices to other gods. This was the same as not being true to their husbands or wives. It is possible that ‘daughters’ means women. Hosea does not mean that the women were *prostitutes. It is a way of saying that they, too, *worshipped other gods. But there were *temple *prostitutes. The men offered their *sacrifices and then had sex with them. All these things meant that the people understood very little.

The *sins that bring down Israel

v15 ‘Israel, you live like a *prostitute. But do not let Judah also become *guilty. Do not *worship at Gilgal or Beth Aven. Do not make promises there in the name of the *Lord. Do not say, “As the *Lord lives”.’ v16 Israel is like a young cow that does not go where someone tells it to go. It is not possible to feed my people. I want to take them, like young sheep, to a field where there is much grass. v17 The people of *Ephraim have become friends with *idols. Let the people go their own way! v18 After they have drunk wine, they are happy to be with *prostitutes. They do not care about their shame. v19 A strong wind will take them away. Now they cannot think any more. Their *sacrifices will bring shame on them.

Hosea’s message is sometimes the same as the message of Amos (Amos 5:5). They both do not want Israel to *worship at Gilgal or Beth Aven. Gilgal was an important place for the people of Israel. They stopped there after they crossed the river Jordan (Joshua 4:19). Beth Aven means ‘House of Trouble’. It is Hosea’s name for Bethel, which means ‘House of God’. Amos 5:5 says that, ‘ … Bethel will come to trouble’. Bethel was an important place in Israel for *worship of gods. God wanted Israel to make promises that they would keep. But, at Bethel, the people did not keep their promises. Israel refuses to obey God. Cows are animals that want to go their own way. Young sheep will follow if you lead them. This shows that Israel does not want to be a part of the *covenant any more. So, God will let them go their own way. Other *prophets have said the same thing (Isaiah 45:20; Jeremiah 2:28).

The *Hebrew is difficult in verses 18 and 19. The ‘wind’ and the ‘*prostitutes’ mean that there is no hope for Israel. It is time for God to be a judge for them.

Chapter 5

The *Lord is angry with *priests

v1 ‘Listen to this, you *priests! Be careful how you listen, people of Israel! Listen, you that belong to the family of kings! I have decided what to do with you. You have tried to catch people at Mizpah. You were like a net on the ground at Tabor. v2 The leaders were killing many people. So, I will need to punish them. v3 I know what *Ephraim is like. She cannot hide from me. She lives like a *prostitute and she is not clean. v4 The people of Israel have done bad things. This stops them from returning to their God. They are like *prostitutes. They do not know the *Lord. v5 The people of Israel are very proud. This pride shows I am right to speak badly about them. Their *sins make them fall. But Judah will fall with them. v6 They take their sheep and cows to offer as *sacrifices to the *Lord. But it does them no good. They cannot find the *Lord because he has left them. v7 They have not been true to the *Lord. Their children do not belong to him. They have times when they enjoy themselves at the New Moon. But the Moon will eat them and their fields’.

Hosea gives a message to three different groups of people. It is a strong message for everyone. God has come as a judge. No one can be free from what he has to say. There were two places called Mizpah in Israel. One was in Gilead, east of the river Jordan. The other place was Mizpah of Benjamin. The word ‘catch’ means that the leaders tried to take people away from God. They are most to blame. They have not been true to God. Tabor is a mountain. Perhaps bad things happened there.

The *Hebrew in verse 2 is not easy to understand. It might mean that the leaders took part in child *sacrifices. So, God wants to put them in prison. The idea of Israel as a *prostitute is not new (verse 3). We see it in Hosea 6:10 too. The words ‘not clean’ mean that Israel has *guilt. The job of the *priests was to know the difference between clean and dirty things. They failed in this job. It was like a *prostitute going into the *temple to do her work.

The people keep themselves away from God (verse 4). They might say that they want to know God. But they do bad things. This shows that they want to turn away from him. They have been their own judge (verse 5). They have not wanted to remember the law of Moses. They are too proud to do this. Hosea says that Judah is like Israel. Judah can fall in the same way as Israel. The *sacrifices of Israel did not follow the right laws. This was because the people did not do them in the proper way in Jerusalem. The people of Israel thought that many *sacrifices were important (see 2 Kings 3:27). They did not care about the quality. The people will try to find God but God has ‘left’ them. In 1 Samuel 15:24-29, Saul said that he *sinned when he did not destroy everything in war. Perhaps he was not sorry with all his heart. But Samuel told Saul that it was better to obey God than to offer *sacrifices. It is a good example of God leaving a person. Israel will lose its land (verse 7). This is what God has decided.

War between Judah and Israel

v8 Blow the *horn in Gibeah!

Blow the *trumpet in Ramah!

Raise the war cry at Bethaven!

Go into war, men of Benjamin!

v9 The day is coming when I am going to punish you.

There will be nothing left of *Ephraim.

People of Israel, you can be sure that this will happen.

v10 The leaders of Judah are like people who rob.

They have robbed land from Israel. So, I (God) will not be pleased with them in any way. It will be like a time when water covers the earth.

v11 *Ephraim is having a difficult time because of the attacks. Other countries have come as judges. This is because she wanted help from *idols.

v12 I (God) will destroy *Ephraim.

Like a *moth that destroys a piece of cloth.

I will destroy Judah,

like water destroys a piece of wood.

v13 *Ephraim saw that he was sick; Judah saw that he was hurt.

So, they went to Assyria for help.

They told their problems to the great king.

But that king cannot bring you health.

He cannot stop you suffering.

v14 I will attack the people of *Ephraim like a lion.

I will attack the people of Judah like a young lion.

I, the *Lord, will break them into pieces.

I will carry them away.

And no person will be able to rescue them.

v15 I will go back to my place,

Until the people can see their *guilt.

Until they come looking for me.

Perhaps they will try to find me when they are really suffering.

A new part of Hosea begins here. Most of these verses are about war. Hosea tells Israel to prepare for war. Gibeon, Ramah and Bethaven were all near Jerusalem. The war will come from the south of Israel. Because of war, these three cities were part of Israel. But they used to be a part of Judah. The people of Benjamin lived near the south of Israel. Judah would attack them first and then attack all of Israel (verse 9). Isaiah also said that Assyria would want to have all of Israel (Isaiah 7:1-8:8). Both Pekah and Hoshea, kings of Israel, lost parts of a war against Judah. But this was only the beginning of the end for Israel. This end came in 722 BC.

In verse 10, Hosea speaks against Judah. He says that they have moved special stones. These stones showed the place where Israel and Judah’s land met. Moving these stones was against the law (Deuteronomy 19:14). Judah has broken the *covenant too. Tiglath-Pileser, the Assyrian king, also took land from Israel (verse 11). Assyria has become a judge. Israel has not trusted God enough. She wanted to get help from Damascus against Assyria. But to get help from other nations was against the *covenant (Deuteronomy 28:7).

God speaks in pictures to bring his message to Israel and Judah (verse 12). It is not Tiglath-Pileser who brings terrible things to Israel. It is God. God uses the picture of a sick person (verse 13). Both Israel and Judah were sick. Both countries were looking to other countries for help. God did not like this. Judah asked Assyria for help after the Syro-Israel attack in 734 BC. Hoshea, a young king of Israel, wanted to make an agreement with Tiglath-Pileser 3rd. But other countries will not be able to help Israel. God himself will attack Judah and Israel like a lion. God is the real danger (verse 14). He is their real enemy. He used other nations to be their judge. The lion will go back to his place. God, too, will leave his people (verse 15). He will leave them when they are in ‘pain’. The ‘suffering’ and ‘*guilt’ are connected to each other. They are part of the same problem. This is a *covenant *curse. Perhaps then the people will try to find God again.

Chapter 6

The people are not true to God

v1 ‘Come, let us return to the *Lord.

He has torn us to pieces, but he will bring us health.

He has caused us pain.

But he will cover the parts that hurt us with pieces of cloth.

v2 After two days he will bring us back to life.

He will raise us up on the third day.

Then we can live near him.

v3 Let us be humble before the *Lord. Let us really try to know the *Lord.

It will be like the sun that rises at the beginning of the day.

He will come to us like the rain.

Like spring rain that brings water to the ground’.

v4 ‘*Ephraim, what should I do with you?

Judah, what should I do with you?

Your love for me is like the morning mist,

Your love is like the *dew that goes away early in the morning.

v5 This is why I have sent my *prophets to you.

I wanted to cut you in pieces.

I wanted to kill you with words.

But light will come from your decision.

v6 I want a true love.

I do not want your animal *sacrifices.

I want my people to know me;

I do not want them to bring *sacrifices.

v7 But, like Adam, they broke the *covenant that we made with each other.

They were not true to me in their country.

v8 Gilead is a city of wicked men.

There are signs of blood everywhere.

v9 There are people who rob. They hide and wait to attack someone.

In the same way, *priests wait on the road to Shechem.

They attack people who pass by.

They have done wicked things.

v10 I have seen many bad things in Israel.

*Ephraim has become like a *prostitute.

She is dirty with *sin.

v11 People of Judah, I have planned a time for you in the future. I will bring in the harvest. This is when I am going to punish you.

Many Christians know about Hosea 6:1-6. These verses are full of hope. The first three verses are like a song. Hosea has told Israel that God is going to leave them for a long time (5:15). But here, he tells them that God will bring them health. God needed to punish them. But he now chooses to change his direction. God does not say how he will bring them health. Israel’s hope is on God’s *covenant. Hosea knows that God will not completely leave Israel. God may bring Israel health in the future. But Israel knows that this future time will come.

The two or three days (verse 2) mean a time that God has decided on. He has fixed a time. It will be like a dead person coming back to life. There is a promise that God will help his people. But Israel must try to ‘know’ God. God is a person that Israel can be certain of. We can be sure that the sun will come up every day. We can be sure that it will rain. In the same way, it will always be possible to know God. Deuteronomy 32:2 says that the way that God teaches is like rain. He rules the weather too and we can learn from him. God is like a parent who has a child. But the child does not obey.

In verse 4, there is a change in who is speaking. In the first three verses of this chapter, it is the *priests who are speaking. They say that they want to go back to God. But they do not say that they have done anything wrong. They just want God to be good to them. So, God asks them what he should do (verse 4). He asks questions like this in 11:8-9. He has tried everything. When the people of Israel were rich, they forgot him. When they were poor, they turned to other gods. They do not want to follow God’s *covenant completely (verse 4). God does not enjoy punishing his people.

The ‘words’ (verse 5) are the *covenants. In Deuteronomy 33:9 the ‘word’ and the ‘*covenant’ mean the same thing. In the same way, ‘cut in pieces’ means God’s *curses. It means, too, that God needed to kill some of the *Israelites.

God does not say that he wants to forget the system of *sacrifices (verse 6). The people thought that *worship meant *sacrifices. They thought that they had to make these *sacrifices often. But God knows that the people are not really thinking about him when they offer *sacrifices. God wanted much more than this. He wanted them to be loyal. (The *Hebrew word is ‘hesed’). This is not the same as *mercy! They were breaking God’s *covenant when they were not loyal to each other. He wanted them to ‘know God’. But the people wanted to do the least that they could do. Their *sacrifices were too easy. In Matthew 9:13, Jesus asked the *Pharisees to learn what this verse meant. The *Pharisees made the same mistake that the *Israelites had made 750 years before.

In verse 7, the word ‘*covenant’ appears for only the second time in the book of Hosea. We cannot be certain what the name ‘Adam’ means. It might mean a city. It might mean that Israel has looked on the *covenant as if it was dirt. (The *Hebrew word for dirt is ‘adam’.)

Gilead (verse 8) might be the city of Ramoth-Gilead. It is possible that Hosea was thinking of murders that had happened at Gilead. We do not know about these murders. Perhaps he was thinking of 2 Kings 15:25. This was when Pekah and ‘50 men of Gilead’ killed Pekahiah.

Shechem (verse 9) was an important city. We do not know the event that Hosea was thinking of. Perhaps *priests were killing people there. Perhaps the *priests were killing other *priests. The meaning, however, is that the *priests were guilty of murder because they led people away from God.

Verse 10 is very like 5:3b. Israel’s *prostitution is clear for everyone to see. But verse 11a finishes with a warning. There is a harvest for Judah. God will bring his *judgement.

Israel is like a hot oven

v11b I want very much to bring back the good times of my people!’

Chapter 7

v1 I want to heal my people Israel!

Then people will know that *Ephraim has *sinned.

Then people will know about the wicked things in *Samaria.

The people of Israel do false things.

Israel is full of people who rob houses.

They also rob people in the streets.

v2 They do not know that I (God) will remember their wicked ways.

The *sins they did are everywhere to see.

I can see these *sins clearly.

v3 Their evil ways make their king happy.

Their wrong ways make their leaders happy too.

v4 They are all people who practise *adultery.

They burn like an oven.

The baker does not watch the oven.

So the fire gets hotter.

This is while the bread is rising.

v5 On holidays for the king, the leaders drink too much.

The wine makes them do things in a silly way.

The king does the same thing as the people.

They all do foolish things.

v6 These people’s hearts are like an oven.

They are planning things against the king.

During the night, their anger becomes hotter.

And in the morning, it becomes a very hot fire.

v7 All of these people are hot like an oven.

They kill their leaders.

Kings lose their power.

Nobody comes to me for help.

A new part of the book of Hosea begins here. God wants to *bless Israel in the future. He wants them to be rich. This message is for both Israel and Judah. But Hosea also continues to write about the *sins of Israel. God wanted to be good to Israel. But he could not be good when people robbed from houses (verse 1). And there are many other *sins. People do not think that these *sins matter. God does not say that he wants judges to take more people to the courts. He wants people to really mean their *sacrifices.

God is watching everything that goes on (verse 2). He sees everything. He remembers things for thousands of years (Psalm 105:8). When he looks at the people of Israel, he sees their *sins. He does not see people. It is probable that this is what verse 2 means. Hosea does not say which king he is thinking of (verse 3). Perhaps it was Hoshea, the son of Elah (732-723 BC). Hoshea and his leaders did not want to know about God’s rule. They took power in a wicked way.

In verses 4-7, Hosea uses a picture of a baker to say several things. The meaning is not clear. Perhaps the picture means that the baker went to sleep. This was when his oven was too hot. Then the bread burnt. Bakers made bread in large ovens. They were round. They had a large door on the top of them. The bakers made a fire inside them. They shut the door. The bread then cooked for a long time. The leaders of Israel were like this bread. They did not care when the people’s *sins were very ‘hot’. These *sins were destroying people but the leaders did not care. God did not want this. The leaders were hot because they drank too much wine (verse 5). The wine that they drank made them do silly things. They wanted to be friendly with people who did not believe in God. Perhaps the leaders were friendly with other people who did evil things. The leaders never stopped thinking about evil things (verse 6). In the night, the oven became cool. But in the morning, someone made sure that the oven became hot again. The leaders of Israel were like the oven. It is only at night that they stopped thinking of evil things. The leaders have killed other leaders (verse 7). They came to power because they have killed kings. There was only one king, Menahem, that the leaders did not kill. This was after the death of Jeroboam 2nd. Israel was burning in its anger. There was nothing to stop it.

Israel does not know that people will destroy her

v8 God says, ‘*Ephraim mixes with other countries.

*Ephraim is like a cake that someone did not cook on both sides.

v9 The people of Ephraim do not realise that mixing with foreign people makes my people weaker.

Israel is like an old man with grey hair.

But he does not notice this.

v10 Israel is proud of herself.

This is something that I do not like about her.

But even although the people had many troubles,

they still did not go back to the *Lord their God.

They did not search for him.

v11 *Ephraim is like a stupid *dove,

a *dove that does not understand anything.

The people looked to Egypt for help.

The people went to Assyria for help.

v12 When they do this, I will throw my net over them.

I will catch them like birds as they go by.

When I hear them coming together in the air,

I will catch them.

v13 It will be very bad for them,

because they have left me.

They refused to obey me. So I will destroy them.

I wanted to save them.

But they speak lies about me.

v14 They do not call out to me with their hearts.

But they cry on their beds.

When they pray for grain and wine, they cut themselves.

They have turned against me.

v15 I trained them and made them strong.

But they make evil plans against me.

v16 They turn to false gods.

They are like a *bow that does not work.

Their leaders are very proud.

They will die by the sword

because of the way that they insult me.

Then the people of Egypt will laugh at them’.

In these verses, Hosea uses more pictures to say things. He continues to use the picture of an oven (verse 8). The people are like bread. They are burnt on one side. This is the side that looks to other countries for help. The other side is not cooked. This is the side that should look to God for help. At this time, Assyria became more powerful. So, Israel needed other countries to help her. Israel went to Egypt, Syria-Damascus and Philistia. Israel hoped that these countries would help to defend her. She did not want to hope in God. In 732 BC, Hoshea, after he had killed Pekah, travelled to Egypt, Philistia and then to Aram-Damascus. He tried to get their help. He then put his hope in Assyria. Then, after a few years, he changed and went back to Egypt. This is what ‘mixing’ means (verse 9). The bread became flat (verse 8). It was not strong. War had made Israel become old (verse 9). She had to pay too much money to other countries. She was now poor. She would die soon.

Verse 10 is like 5:5a: ‘The people of Israel are very proud’. They ask, ‘Who needs God? Why should we go to him?’ Israel wants to stay away from God’s *covenant. God thinks Israel is like a *dove (verse 11). *Doves are stupid birds. They do not fly away from danger. It was easy for other countries to use their power against Israel. Egypt and Assyria could not help Israel.

Hosea continues to use the *dove picture in verse 12. God will catch the *doves in his net. This means that he will bring his *judgement. As Israel flies to other nations, God will catch them. They were wrong to look for help from other countries. Also, they changed the countries that they looked to. God needs to punish them. Then he will take them to a prison.

The people of Israel have said false things about God (verse 13). They have made promises to God through their *covenants. But they have not kept the promises for a long time.

It is probable that the ‘beds’ (verse 14) were part of a meal. The meal was part of a *sacrifice when the *Israelites rested near the *altar (see Isaiah 57:7; Amos 2:8). This was when the people cried and cut themselves.

Israel is like a child that a parent cannot punish (verse 15). The laws said that a child like this should die. Israel was breaking the laws. The people were making *sacrifices at Bethel and *sacrifices to Baal. These were the ‘false gods’ (verse 16) and they were making Israel weak. The *bow is not strong. It will not send arrows very far. It has very little use. So, other nations will be able to attack Israel easily. Egypt will not be able to help Israel. Egypt will enjoy seeing Israel so weak.

Chapter 8

God is angry with Israel because she prays to *idols

v1 Put a *trumpet to your lips and warn people!

An *eagle is over the *Lord’s house,

because the people of Israel have broken my *covenant.

They have not kept my laws.

v2 Israel calls out to me. She says, ‘We in Israel know you’.

v3 But Israel refused the good things that I gave.

So the enemy will follow her.

v4 My people chose kings, but they did not ask me for help.

My people chose leaders, but they did not choose men that I knew.

Israel used her silver and gold to make *idols for herself.

I will destroy them because of this.

v5 I do not like the gold *bull that the people of *Samaria *worship.

I am very angry with the people of Israel.

It will take a long time for them to be without *sin.

v6 A worker from Israel made that young cow.

It is not a god at all!

I will break *Samaria’s *bull into pieces.

v7 The people of Israel did a stupid thing - it was like trying to plant the wind.

But they will only get troubles - they will receive a very strong wind in return.

The wheat in the field will grow, but it will not produce any flour.

If the wheat grew, then foreigners would eat it.

v8 Israel has become like any other nation.

She is like something that nobody wants.

v9 Israel has gone to Assyria for help.

She is like a wild animal that walks without any direction.

The people of Israel have sold themselves to other countries.

They wanted to love these countries.

v10 They have sold themselves to other nations.

But I will bring the people of Israel together.

There will be a time when they stop appointing kings or leaders.

v11 *Ephraim has built more and more *altars.

But these *altars have become places where Ephraim *sins.

v12 I gave the people of Israel all my *commandments.

But they act as if those *commandments do not mean anything to them.

v13 Israel loves *sacrifices.

She offers meat in these *sacrifices and then they eat it.

The *Lord does not accept these *sacrifices.

He remembers their *guilt.

And he will punish their *sins.

They must return to Egypt.

v14 Israel built houses for kings.

But she forgot the person who made Israel!

Judah made her towns strong.

But I will send fire on the cities of Judah.

And this fire will destroy these strong towns!

A new part of the book of Hosea begins here. The chapter is about how God wants to forget Israel. Hosea describes Israel’s *sin. Then, at the end of the chapter, Hosea describes God’s *judgement. God is going to kill Israel (verse 1). He will do this in war (verse 3). Deuteronomy 28:49 says, ‘God will bring a nation against you from far away, like an *eagle…’ In 5:14, God is like a young lion that also wants to kill. There is a good reason why God wants to do this. Israel has broken God’s *covenant and God’s laws.

Israel says that she ‘calls out’ to God (verse 2). She says that she wants God’s help. They needed food. They wanted God to look after them. They thought that God would always be able to help them. But Israel has shown that they did not want God. They should know that Assyria will win the war because of this.

Hosea now describes Israel’s *sins. They wanted to choose their kings. But it is God alone who chooses kings (verse 4). It is God who gives kings to countries (see 1 Kings 19:15-16). It was a big mistake when Israel decided to choose her own kings.

The other big *sin of Israel was that she made *idols. But the *Israelites will destroy themselves with these *idols. God does not want to know about the ‘gold *bull’ of *Samaria. King Jeroboam 1st built this *bull (1 Kings 12:26-30). He was trying to copy the *bull that Aaron had built (Exodus 32). Some people say that this animal was not an *idol. They say that the animal was not trying to copy a god. The people that made the animal made it into something else. But Exodus 32:4 says that people looked at it as if it was a god. After many years, people forgot that the animal was not a god. It slowly became one.

Because of this, God is ‘angry’ with Israel (verse 5). We do not know what the *idol looked like. Perhaps it was a person with the head of a *bull. Perhaps it was a young *bull. It is probable that the *idol was wooden. But a person cannot see God. Hosea says that this *idol of a cow or *bull is really nothing (verse 6). God will destroy this *bull easily. The people were breaking the *commandment in Exodus 20:4-6.

Hosea then uses another picture (verse 7). The ‘wind’ and the ‘very strong wind’ are Israel’s enemies. It is like the *curse of Deuteronomy 28:38, ‘You will sow much seed in the field. But there will be very little harvest’. The *Israelites will receive what they deserve. The phrase about the wind might have another meaning. Perhaps Hosea means that the people are behaving without any purpose. They do not know which way to go (see Job 7:7). The ‘very strong wind’ comes and makes this worse. God will make sure that their wheat will not produce anything. The enemy (Assyria) will get what Israel has worked for. Lamentations 2:5 says, ‘God is like an enemy; he has eaten Israel’. Israel will stop being anything. Nobody will be able to use her (verse 8).

In 732 BC, Hoshea, when he became king, went to Assyria for help. He wanted to stop Tiglath-Pileser 3rd from ruling Israel (verse 9). But Israel is like an animal. She does not know where she is going. She is alone (see Job 24:5) and lost. But God will find her and then he will punish her.

Verse 10 is describing the time when a foreign nation will control Israel. Israel will have to pay large taxes. (This happened when Hoshea was king of Israel.) They will not be free.

God hated the *altars in the North (verse 11). There were too many. The *covenant said that there should only be one *altar. It was Jeroboam 1st who built all these *altars (1 Kings 12:26-33). He wanted to stop people going to Jerusalem. But then it became easy for people to *worship in wrong ways. The *altars became places where people ate and drank too much. They became a place to *sin.

The people also did not want to know about the law (verse 12). The *priests and the *prophets did not tell the people about the law. So, the people did not think that the law was important.

The people made *sacrifices but the people were not clean to God (verse 13). They were not sorry for their *sin. So, God would send them back to Egypt. This does not mean that God will actually send them to Egypt. It means that they will go into *exile somewhere. Israel wanted to put their hope in ‘houses for kings’. But God is going to burn these places. He will send an army to destroy Israel’s hopes.

Chapter 9

Hosea tells Israel that God will punish her

v1 People of Israel, do not be happy.

Do not shout for joy like the other nations!

You were like a *prostitute and left your God.

You are like a *prostitute whom someone has paid.

You have done this on the floors where people work with grain.

v2 But soon you will not have enough grain or wine.

You will not be able to feed on them. There will be no more new wine.

v3 You will not stay in the *Lord’s land.

You will have to go back to Egypt.

In Assyria, you will have to eat food that you should not eat.

v4 The people of Israel will not be able to offer wine to the *Lord.

Their *sacrifices will not make God happy.

People eat special bread when other people die. Their *sacrifices will be like that bread.

Whoever eats this bread will not be clean.

This food will only be for themselves.

It will not come into the house of the *Lord.

v5 The people of Israel will not be able to enjoy special days,

the special times when people remember God.

v6 Perhaps Assyria will not destroy you.

But Egypt will take the people in war.

Memphis will bury them. Weeds will grow over their silver.

Weeds will grow over the places where they live.

v7 The time has come when I am going to punish you.

The time has come when you will have to pay.

You will have to pay for what you have done.

Israel should know about this!

You have so many *sins. You are so angry with me.

This is why you think that the *prophet is a stupid person.

You think that he has God’s Spirit but that he is crazy.

v8 God has sent me as a *prophet to make sure that *Ephraim knows things.

But people try to say bad things about me in the places where I go.

And people do not like a *prophet in the *house of God.

v9 They have done some terrible *sins.

They were like the *sins that Israel did at Gibeah.

The *Lord will remember their wicked ways.

He will punish them for their *sins.

It is Hosea who now has a message for Israel. In chapter 8, it was God who had the message. But the two things are almost the same. It is probable that Hosea gave this message in 730 - 720 BC. Assyria now ruled over much of Israel. Israel (the *prostitute) loves to receive money. It is probable that this means grain (see Deuteronomy 23:18). Israel was happy at these special times. But it was happy for the wrong reasons. Israel thought that God was Baal. They thought that God should *bless the grain in the same way. Also, *prostitutes visited the floors where people worked with the grain. This was where men stayed at night so that nobody would rob anything. But Hosea says that soon Israel will have very little food (verse 2). This period of little food may come in different ways. Hosea is clear that Israel is going into *exile (verse 3). The people thought that they were going to have the land for a long time. They were very wrong! Other countries were going to rule them.

When this happens the people will not be able to have their *sacrifices (verse 4). The wine was something that the *priests offered on the *altar. When people died, their family ate special bread. This showed that they were sad. They could not bring this bread into God’s house. When they are in *exile they will not be able to eat this bread. The ‘special days’ were probably in the autumn (the period after the summer). This was when they brought in the plants from the fields.

It is not possible to run away from *exile (verse 6). It is certain that Egypt will win in any war. Memphis was where they buried many people. Weeds will grow over these places. Their money will not help them. The people are so full of *sins that they think terrible things about Hosea and other *prophets. They think that he is a fool whom people cannot be serious about. People also thought that Jeremiah was crazy (Jeremiah 29:26). But it is God whom they think terrible things about.

Hosea is like someone who watches out for the enemy (verse 8). But the people themselves could not see the enemy. The time to punish Israel has now come (verse 9). Gibeah was a place where wicked *sins took place (Judges 19-21). God remembered these *sins. In the same way, he will remember Israel’s *sins. He will punish the people of Israel by sending them to Assyria.

Israel destroys herself by her *worship of *idols

v10 I found Israel.

It was as if I found *grapes in the desert.

I saw your fathers.

It was as if I found early fruit on a *fig tree.

But then they came to Baal-Peor.

They began to *worship that terrible *idol.

They became like the *idol that they loved so much.

v11 *Ephraim is great. But she will fly away like a bird.

There will be no birth; no times when women are pregnant (going to have a baby);

no times when babies begin to grow.

v12 But even if the people of Israel have children,

they will die.

There will be none left.

I will leave them.

They will have nothing but trouble.

v13 I can see that *Ephraim is leading his children into a trap.

*Ephraim is bringing his children to something that kills.

v14 *Lord, I am going to ask you to do bad things to these people.

Make it impossible for their women to have babies!

Make it impossible for their breasts to give milk to their babies!

v15 God says, ‘Because of all their wicked ways that began in Gilgal,

I began to hate them there.

I will tell them that they must leave my land.

I will not love them any more.

Their leaders have turned against me.

v16 The people of *Ephraim are like plants that people have knocked down.

Their roots do not have any water.

Their plants will have no fruit. They will have no children.

Even if they have children, I will kill their precious children.

v17 My God will refuse to accept them.

This is because they have not obeyed him.

They will have to wander in different countries’.

A new part of the book of Hosea now begins. God is speaking. He talks about the past. He is talking to someone else about Israel. He thinks that he might be travelling (verse 10). He finds *grapes when he needed to drink. This did not happen very often. But it was like finding Israel. Israel is special. *Figs that came early were also very special (see Isaiah 28:4). But then Israel came to Baal-Peor (Numbers 25:1-5). Things went wrong here. Men from Israel had sex with women from Moab and from Midian and Midianite women. This was part of the *sacrifice to other gods. The men hoped that they would have better crops. But God said that it was like *worship of Baal. It broke the *covenant.

For a time, Israel was great (verse 11). She won many wars. But these good times cannot stay with Israel. She will be sick. The people will not be able to have children. There will be a *curse on their bodies (Deuteronomy 28:18). Even if there are children, God will stay away from them (verse 12). He does not say how they will die. But Israel can be sure that this will happen.

Verse 13 is also about death. One of the *curses was about parents who loved their children. These parents will kill and eat their own children (Leviticus 26:29). This verse may mean that something, perhaps an enemy, will kill the people’s children.

Verse 14 is like verse 11. But it is Hosea who is speaking. It is a *prayer. Hosea *prays for something that God wants. Hosea knows that God wants it. In the past, God wanted the ‘*blessings of breasts’ (Genesis 49:25). These were much more happy words. But these *blessings will end.

In verse 15, God speaks again. The *sin at Baal-Peor happened in the past. But the *sin at Gilgal was happening now. Gilgal was across the Jordan River from Baal-Peor. It was an important place where people *worshipped other gods. Amos also said bad things about Gilgal (Amos 4:4; 5:5). God was very angry about Gilgal. He wanted to stop the things that happened there. It was a place where kings sometimes went. Saul started to be king there (1 Samuel 11:15). It was also where Saul broke the *covenant (1 Samuel 15:21-23). God’s house is Israel. The leaders of Israel have helped the country to *sin. God’s *covenant says that the people cannot stay in the land if they *sin (Leviticus 26:32-35).

Verse 16 continues the idea of death. Israel used to have much fruit (Genesis 41:52). But now Israel will have no fruit. God is now plain about who will kill Israel’s children (Israel’s fruit). It is God himself. There will be no mistake. God will make sure that these things happen.

Verse 17 is about the *exile. God will take the people away from their own country. This is because they have not listened to him. In the past, they knew who they were. But now they will be without a home. They will be like Cain (Genesis 4:12).

Chapter 10

The riches of Israel lead to her *worship of *idols

v1 Israel is like a *vine that grows plenty of fruit.

But Israel became rich,

and so she built more *altars.

Her land became better and better.

This meant that she could build special stones. She built stones that she could *worship.

v2 Israel’s heart is false.

But now she must accept that she is *guilty.

The *Lord will destroy her *altars.

He will destroy her special stones.

v3 These people will soon say, ‘We have no king,

because we did not *worship the *Lord in a true way.

But even if we had a king, he could do nothing for us’.

v4 They make many promises. But they are only telling lies.

They make agreements with other countries.

People argue with each other in the courts.

These things are like weeds in a field that someone will plough.

They have poison.

v5 The people who live in *Samaria will be afraid.

They will cry because their *idol at Bethaven, a young cow, has gone.

Their *priests, who *worship *idols, will cry too.

They were very happy with their beautiful *idol.

But now someone will carry the *idol away into *exile.

v6 Assyria will carry the *idol away.

It will be a gift for the king of Assyria.

The people of *Ephraim will feel very sad.

They will be ashamed that they brought *worship to their wooden *idol.

v7 God will destroy *Samaria and *Samaria’s king.

He (the king) will be like a piece of wood that water carries away.

v8 God will destroy these high places of Aven.

These are places where Israel has *sinned.

Weeds will grow on their *altars. Then the people will say to the mountains, ‘Hide us!’

They will say to the hills, ‘Fall on us!’

God gave Israel many things but she did not use them in the correct way. She made many *altars. And she made them pretty. They also had special stones that they thought would bring them *blessings of food. But this was against the law (Deuteronomy 12:1-14; Exodus 23:24). The people only wanted to live for themselves. They thought that God was pleased with their *worship. But their *altars and stones were now a way to different gods. They were not being loyal to God (verse 2). Someone needed to tell them how wrong they were. In Deuteronomy 29:18, God said, ‘Make sure of this. There must be no man or woman … whose heart turns away from God…to *worship the gods of those countries’. So God says that he will break these *altars. It will be like a war. Amos 3:14 says that the *altars will ‘fall to the ground’. There will be no *altars after God has finished.

Hosea says that the time of kings will have to end (verse 3). Kings joined in the *worship of other gods. They will not be able to stop the *exile of Israel. God will punish Israel through the loss of their king. In 1 Samuel 8, the people asked for a king. But soon the king will not be able to do anything for Israel. The kings talked a lot (verse 4). But it did not mean anything. The kings made agreements with other countries. These agreements meant that Israel would pay tax to a foreign country. This would protect Israel from other countries in return. But this did not help Israel. The king needed to help people when they disagreed in the courts. But the kings accepted money from people. This was wrong. It is not only the king that does these things. Other people do them too.

Verse 5 says that people *worshipped at Bethaven (see 8:5). They *worshipped a gold *bull. Perhaps it was Amos who gave Bethaven this name (Amos 5:5). Bethaven means ‘house of evil things’. Other people gave this name to Bethel. The name meant bad things. It was because they did not *worship God but did evil things. But God did not want these things (Exodus 20:4-5). It was against the law. The people’s crying will be like people who are crying about dead people. Their *idol will also go into *exile. The power of the *idol will also go. Verse 6 continues the thoughts of verse 5. Assyria will take the *idol away. They will do this when they win the war. If only Israel was not so stupid. If only they could understand what God wanted (Deuteronomy 32:28, 29). But Israel has decided not to obey God.

*Samaria is another way of saying Israel (verse 7). Hosea means other cities also. Assyria destroyed *Samaria in 722 BC. No one built the city again. The king will not be able to do anything about this. He will have no help. The enemy put Hoshea in prison in 723 BC (2 Kings 17:4). Israel had taken land from the people of Canaan in war. These were the ‘high places’. Sometimes they were on hills with trees. There were hundreds of these places (1 Kings 14:23). But weeds will grow on these places. This is a way of saying that nothing will live there. Isaiah 32:13 has the same idea. Terrible things will happen to Israel. People will want to run away from this. But when they cannot do this, they will want to die. They preferred death to life in *exile.

Israel will pay for her *sin

v9 Israel, you have *sinned since the time of Gibeah.

You have continued to *sin since then.

But war came to those wicked people of Gibeah.

v10 I (God) will punish these people who do not follow me.

Nations will join together to attack them.

They will put the people of Israel in prison because of their terrible *sins.

v11 *Ephraim is like a young cow that someone has taught.

She is like a cow that loves to walk on grain.

But I decided to put a *yoke on her beautiful neck.

I wanted to guide her so that she could work hard.

I wanted Judah to break up the ground.

Jacob, too, must break up the ground.

v12 If you sow good things, you will bring in a harvest of true love.

Break up the ground that you have not ploughed.

Because it is time for you to look for the *Lord.

When he comes, he will make good things fall on you like rain!

v13 But you planted wicked things.

These plants have grown and they have brought you evil things.

You have eaten the fruit that your lies have brought you.

You put your hope in your own power and in your soldiers.

v14 So the noise of war will come to your people.

Your enemies will destroy your strong places.

It will be like the time that King Shalman destroyed the city of Betharbel in war.

At that time, people killed mothers with their children.

v15 The same thing will happen to you at Bethel,

because you did so many wicked things.

When that day begins, I will destroy the king of Israel.

In verse 9, Hosea writes again about what he said in 9:9. There were some terrible *sins at the ‘time of Gibeah’. It was where some wicked men tried to have sex with another man. They then had sex with a woman. Israel wanted to bring these men for *judgement. But the leaders of the men refused to do this (see Judges 19-21). Israel was not able to rise above these *sins. They stayed in these *sins. War then came to the people of Gibeah. In the same way, war will come to the people of Israel now. Everyone in the North will be part of it. God is getting ready to make sure that Israel pays for her *sins (verse 10). He is preparing other countries so that they can attack Israel. It will be like the time when people came together against Benjamin (Judges 20:11, 14). At that time, the people wanted to make sure that they kept the *covenant. It was important to keep God’s law. Israel must now be in pain twice for her *sins (see Isaiah 40:2). Leviticus 26:18 says that God will punish Israel for her *sins ‘seven times over’.

A new part of this chapter begins in verse 11. Hosea uses words in a special way to describe Israel. She is like a young cow. Her work was quite easy. The picture is of a cow that is pulling a special tool over corn. This tool separates the corn from the grain that the farmer does not want. The cow prefers pulling a plough. Because she can eat the corn whenever she wants (see Deuteronomy 25:4). Israel was like this in her early years. But God had something else for Israel. He wanted her to break up the ground. They should do this work together. Her ‘field’ was to obey God. The word ‘Jacob’ means both Israel and Judah. God is telling Israel again about one of the first people that he chose to follow him. Jacob obeyed God.

Verse 12 is a famous verse. Many people have written songs about it. God looks back at Israel’s past but he also looks to the future. God wants Israel to be true to him. This is what he really wanted in his *covenant. He wanted people to know him in the best way, like Jacob. The *Hebrew word for ‘true love’ is ‘hesed’ which means a love that never stops. This can be a love for another person or for God. The same thought is in 2:19 and 6:6. God wants Israel to look for him. He does not want *prayers that do not mean anything. When Israel does this, he can *bless her. But Israel has not done any of this (verse 13). Instead, Israel has eaten very bad things. She has done the opposite of the things in verse 12. She has put her hope in her army. Deuteronomy 28:52 says that Israel’s walls ‘will fall down’. Israel’s hope in her walls is so silly.

Israel is going to hear the sounds of war (verse 14). She will be afraid. Her walls are strong (Deuteronomy 28:52) but they will not help Israel. We do not know about the events at Betharbel. We also do not know about Shalman. But terrible things happened in war in those days. Armies did not listen to what people said about what they did (see Amos 1:13). The Assyrians took King Hoshea in war (verse 15). They put him in prison (2 Kings 17:4). Everything that Hosea said would happen came true.

Chapter 11

Israel has forgotten the *Lord

v1 ‘I, (the *Lord), loved Israel when he was a child.

I called my son out of Egypt.

v2 But the more I called to Israel,

the more they turned away from me.

My people gave *sacrifices to Baal.

They burned *incense

and offered this to *idols.

v3 But it was I who taught *Ephraim to walk!

I took my people up in my arms!

It was I who healed her.

But she did not realise this.

v4 I led her with love and kind words.

I lifted the *yoke from her neck.

I bent down to feed her.

v5 The people of Israel refuse to *repent.

So they must return to Egypt.

Assyria will rule over them.

v6 Swords will swing in their cities. People will break their city gates.

Their plans will come to nothing.

v7 My people are trying hard to turn away from me.

But even if they call to God above,

he will not listen to them.

In chapter 11, God looks to the past in Israel’s life. In verse 1, God remembers what has happened to Israel when she was a child. God spoke to Moses when he began his journey to Egypt. God said, ‘Israel is my first son … let my son go’ (Exodus 4:22-23). It is when Israel became free. There are other places in the *Old Testament where God describes himself as a father (Isaiah 1:2; Jeremiah 3:19). The word ‘call’ in verse 1 can mean different things in the *OT. It can mean that God wanted to bring the people of Israel together. The life of Jesus did this completely.

But Israel did not want to listen to God’s call (verse 2). She showed this by her *worship of the Baals and of other false gods. Israel chose new *idols. They broke the first rule of the *covenant. This was, ‘You will have no other gods but me’ (Exodus 20:3).

In verse 3, there is a beautiful picture of a father. Israel was like a small child whom God helped to walk. It was God who did this. Israel could not see that. When the people of Israel grew up, they did not want to live like true sons.

In verse 4, the picture changes a little. It is not clear what the verse means. Perhaps the verse means that God is like a farmer. He wants to be sure that his animals are well. He wants to be sure that they have enough food. This is the same way that God fed Israel in the desert (Exodus 16).

But in verse 5 the idea changes. Hosea tells Israel about *exile again. The word ‘Egypt’ means the enemy. Assyria is the country that will take them into *exile. Israel will not be a nation on its own. In 5:13 and 10:6 Hosea called the king of Assyria a ‘great king’. Soon this king will make sure that Israel cannot choose where she lives. Israel did not thank God for what he had done for her. This was her *sin.

Assyria will win against Israel in a war (verse 6). The people of Israel will not be safe. The walls of their cities will come down. The sword of the enemy will become the sword of God. He uses the sword to keep his *covenant. The people will find it difficult to live without God. They will not want to turn away from him (verse 7). Then they will want to come back to God. But he will not listen. It will be too late.

The *Lord does not want to destroy Israel

v8 *Ephraim, I do not want to forget about you.

I do not want to give you to someone else.

I do not want to make you like Admah.

I do not want to make you like Zeboiim.

My heart will not let me do it!

My love for you is too strong.

v9 I will not punish you in my anger.

I will not destroy *Ephraim again,

because I am God and not a man.

I am the *Holy One and I am with you.

I will not show my anger.

v10 I will make a loud noise like a lion.

Then my children will come and follow me.

When I make a loud noise,

my children will come from the west.

They will come with fear.

v11 They will be like birds from Egypt.

They will be like birds from Assyria.

They will come with fear.

But I will bring them back to their homes again.

I, the *Lord, have spoken.

In verse 8 there is a change in ideas. Again, there is hope for Israel. In *exile, Israel will turn back to God. God is a God of *mercy. He does not want to punish Israel too much. He could never let other nations win against Israel. Admah and Zeboiim were cities that were near Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 10:19). God destroyed Admah and Zeboiim when he destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:24-25). This was when he was very angry. But God says that he will change his mind.

There is not a man anywhere who is completely true (verse 9). But God is not like this. He will be true to the love that he has shown to Israel in the past. This is the only place in Hosea where we see the word ‘*holy’. We see the word 26 times in Isaiah. God is different from men. He acts in different ways. This is not a promise for the people who are living with Hosea. It is a promise for the children of these people. God’s ‘anger’ is the right attitude for him to show. This is when the people have done wrong things. But, because he loved them, he wanted them to *repent. Then he could forgive them.

In the future, Israel will return to God (verse 10). Then they will be able to return from *exile. God himself will tell everyone when this moment comes. He will make sure that everyone hears. Perhaps the lion means that God is calling people to hear his *judgement (Amos 1:2, Joel 3:16). The west means the islands of the sea. It also means the land near the sea.

Israel will hurry home (verse 11). Birds can travel fast. Hosea uses the picture of a bird in a good way. (In 7:11 the *dove meant that Israel was silly.) The people will ‘fly’ back to their homes. Nothing will stop them. The promise of 2:25 will happen - ‘I will plant many seeds in the land’. But Israel’s true return will only happen because of Christ. He begins and finishes the new *covenant.

Israel and Judah are both *guilty

v12 *Ephraim has surrounded me with lies.

Israel has told me false things.

And Judah has not obeyed God.

She has not been true to the *Holy One.

Chapter 12

v1 There is much that the people of Israel do from morning to night.

But it has no worth. They tell lies and they destroy things.

Israel makes an agreement with Assyria.

Then she carries her *olive oil to Egypt.

v2 The *Lord says, ‘I want to bring Israel to a court.

I must punish Jacob because of his bad ways.

I must punish Israel because of the things that she has done.

v3 Her *ancestor Jacob held on to his brother’s foot.

He did this when they were both inside their mother’s body.

When Jacob was a man, he fought with God.

v4 He struggled against an *angel and he won.

He cried and asked for *blessings.

He met God at Bethel. God spoke with him there.

v5 This was the *Lord God *Almighty.

The *Lord is his name.

v6 So you must return to your God.

You must be loyal to God. You must be fair in the courts.

You must be patient. Wait for God to do what he wants.

v7 Business people use false ways to weigh things.

They cheat people to get their money.

v8 Israel says, “We are rich! We are now wealthy!

Because we are rich, people will not find any *sin in us”.

v9 But I am the *Lord your God.

I brought you out of Egypt

I will make you live in tents again.

This was when you had special days of *worship.

v10 I spoke to the *prophets. I gave them many *visions.

I told *parables so that they could teach my lessons to the people.

v11 The people of Gilead are wicked.

They are not worth anything.

They make *sacrifices of *bulls in Gilgal.

Their *altars will become like stones in a field that is ploughed.

v12 Our *ancestor Jacob ran away to the land of Aram.

He worked there so that he could get a wife.

He looked after sheep so that he could pay for her.

v13 The *Lord used a *prophet to bring the people of Israel out of Egypt.

He used a *prophet to keep them safe.

v14 The people of *Ephraim have made the *Lord very angry.

Israel killed many people. So, I will punish her for the wrong things that she has done. She will know that the *Lord will think very badly about her’.

God is sad because Israel says false things (11:12). Israel is like an army that surrounds a city. Her ‘swords’ are false. We have the same idea in Psalm 118:18. The writer thinks that other bad countries are all round him.

The *Hebrew language is not clear in 11:12b. Perhaps it means that Judah, too, was false with God. Judah had true *priests. She had true kings too. But she also went against God. But the *Hebrew language might mean the opposite of this. God has an interest in all the people of God.

God promised to keep Israel safe (verse 1). But Israel looked to other countries so that she could be safe. The *Hebrew language uses the word ‘wind’. This means something that has no value (see Ecclesiastes 1:6, 14). Israel looked to Assyria and Egypt. The *olive oil was a gift to Egypt. But these plans did not mean anything.

God wants to bring both Israel and Judah to a court (verse 2). Then God will hear about the bad things that the two countries have done. Here Hosea goes back to the time of Genesis. Israel is now not like the country that it used to be at that time. But God has plans to *bless Israel too.

God remembers three important moments in *Jacob’s life (verse 3).

·           His birth.

·           God speaking at Bethel.

·           The struggle at Peniel.

*Jacob was the *ancestor of Israel. The story of Jacob’s name comes from Genesis 25:21-26. God told people about Jacob before Jacob was born. God said what would happen when Jacob was inside his mother. Jacob’s struggle with God was another important part of Israel’s past (Genesis 32:22-31). This story shows that Israel could still receive a *blessing from God. They only needed to call to him. God gave Jacob another name - Israel. But God’s name is more important. The things that he wants for Israel are much more important, too.

In Genesis, the story says that Jacob fought with a man (verse 4). But it is clear that it was an *angel. It does not say that Jacob cried in the Genesis story. We learn this here. Genesis 35:1-10 tells us how Jacob met God at Bethel. God tells Jacob about the change of name again. Bethel was a place where Israel *worshipped *idols.

Hosea wants to bring the story of Jacob and Israel together (verse 5). The new name for Jacob was part of a new plan for Israel. God was the God of both Jacob and Israel. Israel is nothing without God.

This is why Hosea tells Israel to return to God (verse 6). Israel has a great God. They can follow him. The *Hebrew word for love is ‘hesed’. This is a way to love that Israel can hold onto. Hosea says that there is hope for Israel. God has decided what he is going to do with Israel.

But it continues to be important to obey God. It will help Israel. The *Hebrew word for ‘business people’ is Canaan (verse 7). The people of Canaan were often false in their ways. Hosea says that Israel is worse than Canaan. The business people wanted people to get less than they should. Amos says the same thing (Amos 8:4-6). Israel was not fair to poor people. Israel puts her hope in her money (verse 8). God told Israel that she should not be proud about her money (Deuteronomy 8:17-19). But it was not possible to pay money to God to take away their *guilt. Their money has no worth. It is not enough to make God happy. Israel did not become powerful on her own (verse 9). God began the history of Israel. God will take away their homes and they will have no money again. God is speaking a word of *judgement. The ‘special days’ might include a meal called the Meal of Huts (see Leviticus 23:39). This meal was a time for the people to remember their journey in the desert.

God told the people again and again about many things (verse 10). These were things that he wanted them to do. Moses was a very important *prophet. He was a guide for all other *prophets. God used many different ways to speak. He made sure that people heard through *visions and *parables. It was the work of *prophets to repeat the messages from God.

In verse 11, Hosea is perhaps thinking of a murder in Gilead (see 6:8). The city of Gilead was a place where many terrible things happened. It is possible that Assyria had destroyed Gilead at this time. That is why the city would not be worth anything. Gilgal was another place where bad things happened. There was *worship of *idols in Gilead and Gilgal.

Jacob ran away from Esau (verse 12). The story is in Genesis 28. Jacob received a wife as a payment for his work. His work was keeping sheep. In the same way, Moses looked after the people of Israel (verse 13). Moses kept these people after they left Egypt. Hosea says that the people have left the person who looked after them (God). God now brings his *judgement (verse 14). Israel has chosen not to listen to God. So, God needs to punish Israel. There is no way that God can forget Israel’s *guilt. God must now pay back to Israel because they broke the *covenant.

Chapter 13

Final *judgement on Israel

v1 *Ephraim made himself very important in Israel.

*Ephraim spoke and people shook with fear.

But the people *sinned because they *worshipped Baal.

And because of this, they died.

v2 Now the people of Israel *sin more and more.

They make *idols for themselves from their silver.

They are clever in the way that they make these *idols.

And then they say, ‘Offer *sacrifices to them!’

They kiss those *idols - *idols in the shape of young cows!

v3 That is why those people will soon go away.

They will be like the morning cloud.

They will be like the *dew that goes away early in the morning.

The people of Israel will be like seed that a wind blows from the floor.

They will be like smoke that goes out of a window.

v4 The *Lord says, ‘I am the *Lord your God who led you out of Egypt.

You do not know any other God except me.

I alone am your *Saviour.

v5 I cared for you in the desert.

This was when you were in a hot dry land.

v6 I gave food to the people of Israel.

They ate that food. They became full and satisfied.

They became proud and then they forgot me.

v7 That is why I will be like a lion to them.

I will be like an animal waiting by the road.

v8 I will attack them like a bear that has lost her children.

I will break the people of Israel into pieces.

I will eat them like a lion.

I will tear them apart as a wild animal does.

The end is near for Israel (verse 1). *Ephraim became a powerful group in earlier times. There were strong leaders from this group. Joshua was one of them. But *Ephraim became full of *guilt. *Sin and death go together (Romans 6:23). God will use death as a way to punish Israel.

Jeroboam 1st made young cows of gold in Bethel and Dan (verse 2). Then he said, ‘Here are your gods’ (1 Kings 12:28). But it was the *Israelites who made the *idols. The people *worshipped the things that they made. Verse 2b is not clear. The people kiss the animals. Perhaps Hosea is saying that the people are very silly. The verse may also mean that they are offering *sacrifices of people.

Hosea gives pictures of what the people are like (verse 3). These are things that do not stay for long. Israel will go quickly. God will make sure that the world will forget Israel (Deuteronomy 32:26). She will not be a nation any more.

God begins to speak again (verse 4). He says that he does not change. The people cannot know these other gods. It is impossible. He tells them again about the Sinai *covenant. It is God himself whom the people must know. The other gods are not there.

It was in the *desert that God remembered his *covenant (verse 5). He gave the people what they needed (Exodus 16). It was God who fed them. Israel was like a child. She needed a father to stay alive. God gave them everything that they needed in the desert (verse 6). But they forgot him. This was not a surprise. God said that this would happen (Deuteronomy 8:14). There are other places in Deuteronomy like this (6:11-14; 11:15-16). There was always a danger that the people would become proud.

Hosea now uses another picture (verses 7-8). God will be like an animal. God said earlier that he would ‘send animals against you’ (Leviticus 26:22). There are other places where God uses the same picture. He uses animals as pictures of *judgement (Isaiah 5:29-30; 7:18; 56:9). God will surprise Israel when he attacks her. It will be a strong attack. Assyria will be like these animals. Perhaps Assyria will be ready to attack Israel soon. This attack by animals will hurt her. It will kill people too. Israel has broken the *covenant and God will be very angry.

No one can stop God from being angry with Israel.

v9 I will destroy you, people of Israel.

There will be no one to help you.

v10 No one can find your king. He cannot help you.

No one can find your leaders.

In the past, you asked for a king and leaders.

v11 I was angry, so I gave you a king.

And when I became very angry, I took him away.

v12 *Ephraim’s *guilt has been stored.

His *sins have been written down.

v13 God has offered the people new birth.

But they are like a child who does not want to be born.

They are so silly! They are silly not to want this!

v14 I wanted to save these people from the power of the grave.

I wanted to save them from death.

Death, I do not know where your diseases are.

Grave, I do not know where your power to destroy is.

I will not be sorry for these people any more.

v15 Israel grows well among her brothers.

But a strong east wind will come.

It will blow in from the desert.

Then Israel’s wells will become dry.

The water that comes from the ground will stop.

The wind will take everything away that has value.

v16 The people of *Samaria must know about their *guilt.

Because they turned against their God,

their people will fall by the sword.

Their enemies will throw the children of *Samaria onto the ground.

Their enemies will tear pregnant women (women who are going to have a baby) apart.

God wants to destroy Israel very much (verse 9). Jeremiah 4:7 describes an animal as ‘something that destroys nations’. This was Babylon. Here it is God himself who destroys. God tells the people again that no one else can help them. The *Israelites hoped that someone would come to help them. They wanted help against Assyria. Perhaps Hosea is writing in about 725 BC (verse 10). Shalmaneser 5th (of Assyria) put Hoshea, the king, in prison at this time (2 Kings 17:4). The Assyrians probably also took the king’s family and the important leaders. After this, Israel had no leaders to help her.

In the time of Samuel, the people asked for a king (1 Samuel 8:5, 20). They chose Jeroboam 1st (verse 11). They preferred him to Rehoboam. But God has never looked at the kings of Israel in a kind way. There were 20 of them. But God thought that they were all very bad. And now it was a time to end this. God remembers *sins if people are not sorry (verse 12). He counts *sins. He remembers *sins for many years. God now needs to pay back to Israel for these *sins.

Hosea now gives us a picture of a child that is not born (verse 13). The child is not clever because it is not ready to come into the world. The child will die. Perhaps, if Israel becomes like a child, God will *bless Israel again.

Verse 14 is not clear. Hosea says that there is no hope for Israel. The verse is about *judgement. God closes his eyes to what will happen to Israel. Hosea says that God will punish Israel. The grave is the place where dead people go. Soon it will have many people from Israel.

Hosea uses another picture of a plant (verse 15). Perhaps the east wind is Assyria. Assyrian armies will take away everything that Israel has. Deuteronomy 28:12 says that the sky will open for Israel. God will send the rain for Israel’s fields. But Assyria will make sure that Israel has no food.

*Samaria was the important city of Israel (verse 16). It was where Hoshea, the king, lived. This is why Assyria wanted to attack it. They will show no *mercy. 2 Kings 15:16 and Amos 1:13 are other verses which show how armies attack people. They took babies that were inside women. They tore them out. The pain of Israel was to begin.

Chapter 14

God calls to Israel to return to him

v1 Return to the *Lord your God, people of Israel.

Your *sin has made you fall.

v2 Think about the things that you will say.

And return to the *Lord.

Say to him, ‘Take away our *sin.

Accept the good things that we are doing.

Then we can offer you our *worship with our lips.

v3 Assyria cannot save us.

We will not look for horses to ride.

We will never again say to our *idols that they are our God.

Because you are someone who shows *mercy to children who have no parents’.

The ideas of the last chapter of Hosea are like the ideas we have seen already. Hosea tells the people to *repent (verse 1). Perhaps he is thinking of the people when they will be in *exile. There they will have more time to think about their *sins. Israel has fallen and the time of *exile has begun. Israel needs to find the right words to say (verse 2). In the past, an *Israelite had to bring a *sacrifice to God for *sin. This was part of the system of *sacrifices. But *sacrifices have no value if someone does not *repent. Instead, they must mean what they say. They must say and do the right things. God will forgive their *sin. Then he can forget it.

The *prayer where the people *repent continues in verse 3. The people understand that there is no hope in Assyria, horses or *idols. Instead, they will want to put their hope in God’s *covenant. They used to get their horses from Egypt. They needed horses to fight. They made their *idols themselves. Israel will want to *repent in a true way. They will want to stop these *sins. We remember the story of Hosea’s children in the last line of this verse (see 1:6).

Promise of new life

v4 The *Lord says, ‘I will heal them. I will forget that they left me.

I will give them much love.

I am not angry with them any more.

v5 I will be like the *dew to the people of Israel.

They will become like flowers.

They will be like the tall trees of Lebanon.

These trees will have long roots.

v6 They will become alive with new branches.

They will be beautiful like *olive trees.

They will smell like the tall trees of Lebanon.

v7 The people of Israel will live again in the shade.

They will grow well like grain.

They will grow well like a *vine.

They will be famous like the wine of Lebanon.

v8 ‘*Ephraim, I do not want to see any more *idols.

I will answer their *prayers. I will care for them.

I am like a tree that is always green.

Your fruit comes from me’.

v9 A wise person understands these things.

A clever person learns about these things.

The ways of the *Lord are right.

Good people will live by these ways.

But people who *sin will fall.

God himself speaks in verse 4. He makes promises to Israel. They will not need to be afraid of God. They will not need to think about God’s anger. Isaiah 54:6-8 gives another picture that is like this. Israel is like a wife coming back to her husband. Israel cannot buy God’s love. Instead of anger, God will bring Israel many more *blessings. These *blessings will come with water and plants (verse 5). God told Joseph that this *dew would come from the sky (Deuteronomy 33:13). Water is a picture of new life in much of the *OT. The new Israel will be pretty, like the flowers (see Matthew 6:28, 29). There was always enough water on Lebanon’s hills. The trees were able to grow well. Israel, too, will be able to be strong in the *Lord. The *olive tree was a good place for shade (verse 6). It was also good for fruit. Lebanon was a good place to smell trees. Ezekiel, too, uses the picture of new growth on a tree to mean a new start for Israel (Ezekiel 17:22). God will *bless Israel through the land. In the future, it will be God who protects Israel (verse 7). God will provide shade for Israel. Then Israel can be safe. Many of the psalms use the same picture of shade (Psalms 17:8; 91:1). Israel herself is like a tree. Other people will find shelter in her shade. Hosea uses the picture of Lebanon again. Its wine was good. In the past, Israel tried very hard to get these *blessings. He will give them even greater *blessings instead.

Again, God asks Israel to throw away her *idols (verse 8). Perhaps if she does not, God will not *bless them. All good things come from God. He is like a tree - a tree of life. The people of Israel can be free through him. He always has enough to give.

Hosea finishes his book by writing about a wise person (verse 9). The ways of God are right. A silly person would not listen. There will be trouble for people who do not obey. But a clever person will keep the laws of the *Lord (Psalm 18:22). He will choose the right way. Israel’s true return will only happen in Christ. We see this return in four different ways:

·           When Cyrus let the *Jews return to Israel.

·           In the birth of Christ.

·           In the growth of the church.

·           In the Second Coming of Christ.

This will be the final time that all these things will happen. This is what ‘in Christ’ means.

Word List

adultery ~ when someone has sex with a person who is not their husband or wife.

almighty ~ has the power to beat all his enemies.

altar ~ a table for burning animals and other gifts as a *sacrifice to God or false gods.

ancestor ~ any person from your family that has lived in the past.

angel ~ a servant from God who brings messages from heaven.

barley ~ a type of grain.

bless ~ to call for good things to happen; to call something or someone *holy.

blessings ~ the good things that God does for us.

bow ~ a thing to shoot arrows with.

bull ~ a male cow.

Christians ~ people that follow and believe all about Jesus Christ.

commandment ~ a rule that God gave.

covenant ~ an agreement between two people. A promise that God makes.

curse ~ to use bad words. To wish evil things upon someone.

desert ~ a wild place where no people live, because it is very dry.

dew ~ water in the air that becomes water on the ground at night.

dove ~ a type of bird.

eagle ~ a type of bird.

ephod ~ beautiful bag worn by the chief *priest.

Ephraim ~ he was the grandson of Jacob. Then it became a name that people used for the Northern *Kingdom.

exile ~ the time when an enemy took Israel out of their land.

fig ~ a type of fruit.

forgiveness ~ to show pity and not to remember bad things; to set free from wrong things that we do.

grape ~ a type of fruit that is used to make wine.

guilt, guilty ~ when we have done wrong things.

heaven ~ the place where God lives and rules.

Hebrew ~ the language that the *Jews spoke.

holy ~ what God is like; different and better.

horn ~ a musical instrument; you use your mouth to blow into it.

house of God ~ a special building for the *worship of God. The *Jews had one in Jerusalem for the *worship of the true God.

idol ~ a thing that someone made out of wood, stone or metal. People pray to it.

incense ~ the smoke from a plant that makes a sweet smell.

Israelite ~ a *Jewish person (see Jew).

Jacob ~ a son of Isaac.

jewellery ~ things that people wear to make them more beautiful.

Jewish ~ a word that describes a *Jew or anything to do with a *Jew.

Jews ~ people who were born from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their children.

judge ~ a person who decides what is right or wrong.

judgement ~ when God says what is good or bad.

kingdom ~ a kingdom is where a king rules. God is the King of all *Christians and all *Christians are in his Kingdom.

lord ~ one who rules or is a master. God is the Lord who rules everyone.

mercy ~ help to those that need something; the love that God has for us.

moth ~ a type of insect.

oil ~ something that a fruit makes; used in cooking.

Old Testament ~ the first part of the Bible, which the writers wrote before the life of Jesus.

olive ~ a type of fruit used in cooking.

OT ~ see Old Testament.

parable ~ a story that explains what a person is teaching.

Pharisees ~ a group of *Jews that thought that they kept all God’s rules. They did not like the things that Jesus taught. They thought that they did not do any wrong things. So, they thought that they were very important and clever.

prayers ~ the words that people say when they talk to God.

pray ~ talk to God.

priest ~ a man that gave gifts and burned animals as a *sacrifice to God.

prophet ~ person who spoke for God a long time ago.

prostitute ~ a woman that a man pays for sex.

prostitution ~ to buy or to sell sex.

repent ~ to turn from *sin to God’s ways.

resurrection ~ to come alive again.

sabbath ~ a day of rest in which the people must not work.

sacrifice ~ something that people offered to God. To ask God’s (or a false god’s) *forgiveness by killing an animal.

Samaria ~ another name for Israel or the capital of Israel.

saviour ~ someone who will bring us back to God from the bad things that we have done.

sin ~ when people do things against God.

temple ~ the special building in Jerusalem where *Jews went to praise God.

trumpet ~ a musical instrument; you use your mouth to blow into it.

vine ~ a plant that *grapes grow on.

vision ~ something like a dream that God used to speak to people.

worship ~ what we should do when we are with God; giving thanks to God.

yoke ~ a wooden thing that you put over the neck of animals. Its purpose was to let the animal pull something.

Book List

Douglas Stuart ~ Hosea – Jonah ~ Word Biblical Commentary

William Barclay ~ Twelve Prophets Vol. 1 ~ Daily Study Bible

Elizabeth Achtemeier ~ Minor Prophets 1 ~ New International Biblical Commentary

Hosea ~ D. A. Hubbard ~ Tyndale Commentary

New Bible Commentary Revised ~ D. Guthrie, J. A. Motyer, A. M. Stibbs, D. J. Wiseman


© 1997-2002, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words).

July 2002

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