Hosea 9 − Commentary

Hosea Tells Israel that God will Punish Her

1 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.

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

You will not be able to feed on them. There will nit be enough new wine.

3 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.

4 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.

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

the special times when people remember God.

6 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.

7 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.

8 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.

9 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

10 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.

11 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.

12 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.

13 I can see that Ephraim is leading his children into a trap. Ephraim is bringing his children to something that kills.

14 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!

15 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.

16 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.

17 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).