Hosea 6 − Commentary

The People are not True to God

1 '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.

2 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.

3 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'.

4 ' 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.

5 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.

6 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.

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

They were not true to me in their country.

8 Gilead is a city of wicked men.

There are signs of blood everywhere.

9 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.

10 I have seen many bad things in Israel. Ephraim has become like a prostitute.

She is dirty with sin.

11 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

verse11b: I want very much to bring back the good times of my people!'