Hosea 13 − Commentary

Final Judgement on Israel

1 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.

2 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 idolsidols in the shape of young cows!

3 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.

4 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.

5 I cared for you in the desert.

This was when you were in a hot dry land.

6 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.

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

I will be like an animal waiting by the road.

8 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.

9 I will destroy you, people of Israel.

There will be no one to help you.

10 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.

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

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

12 Ephraim's guilt has been stored.

His sins have been written down.

13 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!

14 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.

15 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.

16 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.