Hosea 2 − Commentary

1 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 Old Testament. 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

2 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.

3 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.

4 I will not love her children.

They are the children of a woman of adultery.

5 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'.

6 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.

7 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'.

8 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.

9 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.

10 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.

11 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.

12 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.

13 I will punish her for the times that she burned 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

14 So I (the Lord) will say words of love to her. I will lead her into the desert and speak kind words to her. 15 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. 16 Then, in the future, she will call me her husband. She will not call me her Baal any more. 17 I will never let her speak the name of Baal again. Then people will not use the Baal's names again. 18 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.

19 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. 20 I will make you into a wife that does not leave me. Then you will know the Lord in a true way.

21 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. 22 The ground will give back grain, wine and oil. They will have an answer for Jezreel. 23 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).