MENU

Where the world comes to study the Bible

2: Perspectives on Unfaithful Israel (Hosea 4:1-19)

Perspectives on Unfaithful Israel
(4:1-14:8)

Having provided via his own marriage situation a visible symbolic portrayal of Israel’s failed relationship with God as well as a prophetic sketch of what lay ahead for God’s wayward people, Hosea records several oracles that detail God’s specific charges against Israel.

A. Opening Complaints against Israel (4:1-7:16)

This section features a series of threefold messages (4:1-5:15), which culminate with Hosea’s prophetic advice in the light of God’s genuine concern for his people.

1. A Threefold Indictment (4:1-19)

Translation

4:1 Hear the word of the Lord, you Israelites!

For the Lord has a covenant lawsuit against the people of Israel.

For there is neither faithfulness nor loyalty in the land,

nor do they acknowledge God.

2 There is only cursing, lying, murder, stealing, and adultery.

They resort to violence and bloodshed.

3 Therefore the land will mourn,

and all its inhabitants will perish.

The wild animals, the birds of the sky,

and even the fish in the sea will perish.

4 Do not let anyone accuse or contend against anyone else:

for my case is against you priests!

5 You stumble day and night,

and the false prophets stumble with you;

You have destroyed your own people!

6 You have destroyed my people

by failing to acknowledge me!

Because you refuse to acknowledge me,

I will reject you as my priests.

Because you reject the law of your God,

I will reject your descendants.

7 The more the priests increased in numbers,

the more they rebelled against me.

They have turned their glorious calling

into a shameful disgrace!

8 They feed on the sin offerings of my people;

their appetites long for their iniquity!

9 I will deal with the people and priests together:

I will punish them both for their ways,

and I will repay them for their deeds.

10 They will eat, but not be satisfied;

they will engage in prostitution, but not increase in numbers;

because they have abandoned the Lord

by pursuing other gods.

11 Old and new wine

take away the understanding of my people.

12 They consult their wooden idols,

and their diviner’s staff answers with an oracle.

The wind of prostitution blows them astray;

they commit spiritual adultery against their God.

13 They sacrifice on the mountaintops,

and burn offerings on the hills;

they sacrifice under oak, poplar, and terebinth,

because their shade is so pleasant.

As a result, your daughters have become cult prostitutes,

and your daughters-in-law commit adultery!

14 I will not punish your daughters when they commit prostitution,

nor your daughters-in-law when they commit adultery.

For the men consort with harlots,

they sacrifice with temple prostitutes.

It is true: “A people that lacks understanding will come to ruin!”

15 Although you, O Israel, commit adultery,

do not let Judah become guilty!

Do not journey to Gilgal!

Do not go up to Beth Aven!

Do not swear, “As surely as the Lord lives!”

16 Israel has rebelled like a stubborn heifer!

Soon the Lord will put them out to pasture

like a lamb in a broad field!

17 Ephraim has attached himself to idols;

Do not go near him!

18 They consume their alcohol,

then engage in cult prostitution;

they dearly love their shameful behavior.

19 A whirlwind has wrapped them in its wings;

they will be brought to shame because of their idolatrous worship.

Exegesis and Exposition

Hosea’s opening complaints against Israel begin with a threefold indictment: priests, prophets, and people are all guilty of violating God’s spiritual standards for holy living. This section falls neatly into three parts: an opening call to hear the basic charges against Israel (vv. 1-3); a rehearsal of Israel’s idolatrous behavior (vv. 4-14); and a concluding warning concerning of Israel’s spiritual activities (vv. 15-19).

In the first portion Hosea lists those spiritual violations that have blossomed into widespread social degradation and open violence. Hosea begins with a familiar prophetic convention: a call for his audience to hear what the prophet has to say (cf. Isa. 1:10; Jer. 7:2; Ezek. 18:12; Amos 4:1; Mic. 6:1; etc.). That call is a serious one, for Hosea is about to deliver what God has empowered him to speak. What he will say, then, does not come from his own personal opinions or emotions but from the Lord himself. It is therefore of utmost significance. In doing so Hosea lists two further reasons for summoning the people to listen: (1) God has a charge involving Israel’s violation of its basic covenant with the Lord, which (2) is demonstrated in Israel’s threefold conduct before the Lord. Israel is charged with infidelity, disloyalty, and a virtual failure to know God in their lives. In short, all the while they feign allegiance to Yahweh, their conduct betrays a bent to view him on their own terms, not his. Rather than truly acknowledging God, they are playing God in their own lives.

This threefold charge against Israel betrays Israel’s genuinely desperate spiritual condition. Rather than reproducing God’s attributes of truth and faithfulness, God’s people were false and unfaithful. Because truth is an unalterable attribute of God’s perfection, which is reflected in his self-consistency in thought and actions, it can be expected that his words are altogether true (cf. 2 Sam. 7:28; Pss. 31:5; 57:3). Because they are true they may be counted on as a reliable guide and standard for living before him (Ps. 119:151, 160).

This quality is also felt in God’s faithfulness. Indeed, the same Hebrew word is often translated “faithful,” as rendered here in the NET. As such it likewise expresses God’s character as one of moral integrity. This has been demonstrated to Israel often in God’s dealings with them (e.g., Exod. 34:5-7). Moreover, God’s character can be seen in his lovingkindness toward Israel (cf. Isa. 63:7; Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2). Indeed, “God’s love (h£esed) is repeatedly praised by the writers of Scripture. It is an “unfailing love” (Ps. 36:7)—one that is better than life itself (Ps. 63:3). Because it is an everlasting love (Jer. 31:3), God’s people may always call upon him with confidence in all circumstances (Ps. 86:1-7).”1 In light of all of this, it is small wonder, then, that truth/faithfulness and loyalty/lovingkindness “frequently appear together to express a secure and faithful relationship.”2

Quite obviously since the Israelites have not appropriated these qualities and reproduced them in their lives, it demonstrates that they have no real commitment to God. Nor do they truly know him in a living, experiential knowledge of him. As Fretheim points out, “To know God is to be in a right relationship with him, with characteristics of love, trust, respect, and open communication.”3 Indeed, a firm reverential trust in God constitutes the basic foundation and fountain of true knowledge (Prov. 1:7; 9:10). Israel had been schooled in the knowledge of God and his standards as well as his goodness, but alas, they demonstrated no trace of them in their lives. Had they truly known him, it would have been reflected in their appropriation of God’s covenant standards for their lives. Therefore, they must face the consequences of their own actions (cf. Isa. 5:13).

Having rehearsed these spiritual charges against Israel, Hosea goes on to list the specific crimes of which his people are guilty (v. 2). Each of these is a direct violation of the Decalogue.4 The list begins with cursing or false swearing in God’s name, a violation of the third commandment (Exod. 20:7; Deut. 5:11). This crime doubtless in principle assumes the violation of the core of the first table of the law. For God’s very name represented his matchless character and reputation. An individual who violates that sacred name in such fashion has set himself apart from God in his lifestyle and perhaps even abandoned him so as to play God in his own life.

Such a condition easily leads to lying or the false testimony that is condemned in the ninth commandment (Exod. 20:16; Deut. 5:20; cf. Lev. 19:11). More than a court or legal situation is involved, however, for malicious gossip or the attributing of false motives to someone so as to steal away his dignity or reputation is equally condemnable. Indeed, lying is sin (Exod. 23:1-3; Deut. 22:13-21).

All of this betrays a sin-hardened heart that was abroad in Israelite society. It was a condition that fostered all sorts of crimes including murder, condemned in the sixth commandment (Exod. 20:13; Deut. 5:17), stealing, condemned in the eighth commandment (Exod. 20:15; Deut 5:19), and adultery, a violation of the seventh commandment (Exod. 20:14; Deut. 5:18). In a sense the stealing, which is sandwiched between murder and adultery in Hosea’s listing, can be felt in these two crimes as well. For murder is the stealing of the life of a person who is created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26; James 3:9) and whose life has been granted to him by God (cf. Lev. 17:10-16). Further, it is an affront to God’s sovereignty and will (cf. Gen. 9:5-6).

Adultery is the stealing of another’s moral dignity and purity, and is a violation of the sanctity of marriage. Its spiritual cousin is idolatry. Unfortunately both problems greatly colored and characterized Israelite society. It is small wonder, then, that the land was filled with overt acts of violence. By placing adultery last in his list of Israel’s violations of the Decalogue Hosea reemphasizes the underlying spiritual vacuum of Israelite society. Its placement forms a fitting closure to God’s complaints against Israel.5 Moreover, by his situating a catalogue of spiritual violations that Israel has committed ahead of the overt crimes that so characterized Israelite society, Hosea anticipates that which Jesus would later emphasize: external sins first begin internally within the depths of one’s heart (Matt. 5:25-28). Indeed, a low regard for God’s person, character, teachings, and will can easily prepare the soil of one’s innermost being for the seeds of motives that blossom into the flowers of violations against the standards of God and society.

After cataloguing the prevailing crimes of Israelite society, Hosea warns his hearers of the dire consequences of their conduct (v.3). Because they have committed spiritual adultery by their devotion to Baal, the Canaanite storm god who supposedly brought them the much needed rain for their crops (a violation of the first commandment), God will demonstrate to them just who it is that is in command of the natural world. Have they forgotten the demonstration of God’s authority through the ministry of Elijah (1 Kings 17-18)? They will soon understand that Baal is powerless.

Land is here personified as a mourner who has witnessed the perishing of those who depended on it. Indeed, all life will suffer—men, animals, birds, and water creatures. As Sweeney points out, “By employing such language, Hosea conveys the necessary inter-relationship between human actions and the state of the natural world, i.e. the role of humans to maintain the world of creation (cf. Gen 1:26). If human beings fail to maintain the proper order of their lives, the entire world of creation suffers.”6

Even more than this is implied, however, for God’s people have turned their back on earth’s Creator, in whose image they have been created and to whom they are to be committed (cf. Exod. 20:2-6; Deut. 5:7; Matt. 19:19), and whose standards are to be stewarded in their individual and corporate lives (cf. Isa. 1:1-4). Sadly, Jeremiah would later lay the same charge against Judah (Jer. 2:12-13; 3:1-5).

Hosea next turns to condemn Israel for its idolatrous behavior (vv. 4-14). He points out first of all those most responsible for Israel’s degraded condition: the priests and prophets who have misled their own people (vv. 4-5). Particular responsibility lay with the priests. They who were custodians of vital religion and the basic covenant with God had themselves failed to acknowledge God’s primacy in their lives. Moreover, they had twisted the law of God to their own benefit (vv. 6-8). Although the priests were allowed to eat of the sin offering as part of their sustenance (Lev. 6:24-30), by their avarice and hypocrisy in terms of proper religion they have “turned their glorious calling into a shameful disgrace” (v. 7). Basically, they have rejected God and made a mockery of the sacrificial system. Therefore, the Lord will reject them as priests.

Because the people willingly followed the priests in their apostasy and degraded lifestyle, God will punish Israelite society in general, priests, prophets, and people alike. Indeed, all Israel stood guilty of not only deserting God in their feigned faith in him and in the desecration of his standards, but they have entered into the idolatrous worship of other so-called gods and practiced the debased religious rites associated with them (vv. 9-10). This was especially true of their worship of Baal. Rather than receiving the expected benefits of worshiping him, while going through the motions of Yahweh in their unfelt observance of the sacrificial system and supposed obedience to the law, they will find that their syncretism had failed. For the religious practices that they had chosen could not achieve what they promised. Only the Lord can bestow true blessings to his people, including the life-giving rain they expected Baal to provide.

In verses 11-13 Hosea points to additional specific sins in Israel’s worship experience. The pursuit of religious prostitution and the imbibing of wine have laid hold of the people’s mind to such an extent that they could no longer reason correctly. Instead of having a heart for God and his true worship and genuine concern for the Lord, they have become enamored with wooden idols and diviners staffs. The practice of cultic prostitution is but symptomatic of their spiritual adultery in abandoning Yahweh for other false gods. In that regard they have set up worship centers on tree-lined hills. Rather than being a symbolic avenue of blessing (cf. vv. 1-3; Hos. 14:5-7; with Ps. 52:8) from the One (Hos. 14:8) who alone can provide life and vitality (Isa. 65:22; Rev. 22:2), the tree has been utilized in the making of wooden idols and as places of spiritual adultery.

Even Israel’s precious daughters and daughters-in-law have been pressed into the debauchery of prostitution in the name of worship. Rather than condemning primarily the young ladies caught up in this heinous practice, however, the Lord lays the principle blame upon those men who have sponsored such conduct. It is Israel’s men who are most to blame, for they not only engage in prostitution in general, but have turned the women into such sin by falsely associating it with religious experience.

Accordingly, Israelite society has become so debased that its judgment is certain and not far off in coming. What a travesty! It was a madness born of sheer stupidity and selfish lust. In this situation Hosea finds the old proverb to be true: “A people that lacks understanding will come to ruin!” (v. 14b). Indeed, rather than being an avenue of true wisdom (Prov. 3:18) Israel’s trees have become a source of ignorance and lack of genuine spiritual understanding.

Therefore, Hosea concludes his oracle with a strong and stern warning of the consequences of Israel’s spiritual adulteries (vv. 15-19). He has already indicated that hope for the kingdom of God’s people lay in the Davidic line (Hos. 3:5). Because that was resident in the Southern Kingdom, Hosea issues a plea to Judah that it not follow in the pernicious ways of its sister Israel (v. 15). In accordance with Hosea’s literary style, the plea is a threefold one. First, Judah is urged not to go to Gilgal, which had been a place of spiritual victory (cf. Josh. 5:7-12), but as Garrett points out: “It went from being a shrine for pilgrims to a center of apostasy and by the eighth century not only Hosea but Amos as well was counseling people to stay away from there (Amos 4:4; 5:5).”7

A second plea deals with Bethel, here called Beth Aven. The latter name is clearly a pun intended to convey what this sacred site, so important to Israel’s history had become (e.g., Gen. 28:11-18; 36:13).8 Indeed, Bethel (house of God) was so apostatized that it might properly be called Beth Aven (house of iniquity/deception). The third plea deals with the misappropriation of sacred oaths, which if properly rendered would be acceptable (cf. 1 Sam. 20:3). Such oaths would be most inappropriate, however, if uttered in either of these cult sites or offered insincerely (cf. Jer. 5:2).

Judah is warned further against any close spiritual association with Israel (vv. 16-17). Not only is proper companionship in general an important matter (cf. 1 Cor. 15:33), but it is especially true in the spiritual realm (e.g. Lam. 2:14; Matt. 24:23-24). The Northern Kingdom had been misled from its inception in the religious system initiated by Jeroboam I (1 Kings 12:25-33). Israel’s spiritual condition had only grown worse with its succeeding kings (e.g., 1 Kings 16:29-33) with the result that by Hosea’s day all hope of its spiritual reclamation was gone (2 Kings 17:7-17, 21-23).9

Therefore, Hosea brings his oracle to a close with a stinging conclusion. Israel stands entrapped in the winds of spiritual adultery and religious prostitution as well as its idolatry. Because their shameful cult prostitution had become a source of pervading passion (v. 18), “they will be brought to shame” (cf. Hos. 10:5-6).

Hosea’s words of denunciation and warning remain ever applicable. God’s people of all ages and lands can causally follow their religious traditions and confessions yet fail to acknowledge the primacy of God in their everyday lives. Although Christians may not be allured into the trap of formal idolatry and religious prostitution, they can allow things other than the Lord to have such prominence that they virtually become a passion akin to idolatry. Thus the Apostle John warns, “Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts” (1 John 5:21, NLT).

Christian leaders are especially to be warned. No less than the priests and prophets of the Old Testament, they have a responsibility to God to deliver his word faithfully and represent him in all that they do (cf. Heb. 13:7, 17). Not only should the church be instructed by Hosea’s words, but nations, too, should take warning. If God would judge his own people Israel, for such sins are repeated and have become rampant in any society, that nation may also face God’s certain judgment (cf. Heb. 12:25-27).

Additional Notes

4:1 The familiar prophetic call motif, “Hear the word of the Lord,” heads several of Hosea’s literary units (e.g., 5:1, 8; 8:1; 10:12; 14:1).

4:1 The NET translation “covenant lawsuit” is in harmony with those scholars10 and translations (e.g., NASB, NLT), which suggest that the prophet’s presentation is in the form of a lawsuit that God is bringing against his people. This position is not universally favored, however. To the contrary, see Garrett (108-109); Hubbard (96), Andersen and Freedman (331-333), and Sweeney (41-43). As Sweeney (42) points out, “The existence of a clearly defined covenant lawsuit speech is increasingly questioned by scholars, however, in that no standard literary structure or terminology is apparent throughout all of the various examples of the form that have been put forward, and there are great difficulties in portraying YHWH as both plaintiff and judge in a legal proceeding.”11

4:2 Cursing … adultery. In addition to the violations of the Ten Commandments listed here, Stuart suggests a sixth by repointing the Hebrew consonants <md (bloodshed) so as to read a homographic root “idols.” Thus he finds a violation of the second commandment prohibiting idolatry. The natural flow of the text as well as the emphasis of the verb pa„ra„s£u‚ (burst forth) suggests a condition that results from the violation of God’s standards. Thus Israelite society bursts all bounds in its violations of the commandments of God so that bloodshed follows quite naturally (cf. Ezek. 18:10-13).12

4:3 The land will mourn. In describing effects of a massive locusts invasion the prophet Joel employs the same imagery (Joel 1:10-12, 17). Hosea’s prophetic warning of God’s future judgment is reminiscent of Isaiah’s prediction of a similar condition in eschatological times (Isa. 24:1-5).

4:3 Wild animals … birds … fish. Hosea may intend an allusion to the creation account here. If so, the Lord will reverse his creative work. Zephaniah likewise pictures a future judgment in similar fashion (Zeph. 1:2-3). Hosea envisions a total devastation including the land and its inhabitants, man and animals, as well as the birds of the sky and the aquatic creatures. As McComiskey correctly points out, such conditions are representative of the effects of breaking the Mosaic legal stipulations: “All these wrongs relate directly or indirectly to the decalogue, the normative expression of Yahweh’s will for the nation.”13

4:4-5 Once again Hosea’s propensity to write in groups of three (cf. 4:13, 15) surfaces. His addressees are three: priests, prophets, and people. Because the priests and prophets have led the people into a spiritual apostasy in which for all practical purposes they no longer truly acknowledge God (vv. 1, 6), they have failed to do their sacred duty properly. Because of this the nation faces God’s destruction. As noted by the NET, the MT literally reads, “I will destroy your mother.” The reference to Israel as “mother” doubtless continues the metaphor of portraying the relation between Hosea’s wife Gomer, the mother of his three children, and Israel (cf. 2:2). Although the NET provides a good ad sensum rendition of the context and is built upon some textual evidence, the MT is to be preferred both as the more difficult reading and that which best preserves Hosea’s metaphorical approach.

4:6 The theme of destruction continues not only nationally (v. 5) but individually. Thus the Israelite people themselves will be destroyed. Since the people have followed the priests in their virtual failure to acknowledge God, he will reject them as his priests. Moreover, by failing to put God first in their lives, they have violated the Lord’s holy law, the Torah. So entrenched is their apostasy that the priests’ descendants will be cut off from service, for they will show themselves to be tainted by the same sins.

4:7 Turned … into a shameful disgrace. The NET follows the lead of the traditional Masoretic emendation (Tiqqune Sopherim), a reading also attested in the Peshitta and the Targum and followed by some English versions (e.g., NIV, NJB, NLT, NRSV). The MT, however, reads: “I will exchange their glory,” a reading followed by the LXX, Vulgate, and several English versions (e.g., KJV, NKJV, NASB, REB). The latter rendering understands the verb as predicting a judgment against the priests. Their present honored position will be exposed for the disgrace that it is and will be dealt with accordingly. So construed the pattern in which accusation against the priests is followed by a statement of the Lord’s coming judgment against them. The same pattern appears in verses 8-9.

4:8 The NET properly understands the Hebrew noun here not as “sin” but “sin offerings.” This Hebrew noun carries both meanings. As Garrett rightly observes with regard to the sin offering, “Instead of being a means of confession and grace, it had become a means of permissiveness for the people and of gluttony for the priests.” 14 Stuart adds, “Profit has become the interest of the priesthood rather than service to God, and indulgence has become the posture of the nation rather than purity of worship and deeds.”15

4:10-12 The translation of verse 10 is a notorious problem and crux interpretum, and therefore has occasioned many suggested solutions.16 Particularly difficult is the problem of the last lisŒmo„r. Because it is an infinitive and most often translated “to keep/guard,” one would naturally expect an object to follow it. Thus the NET translation is achieved by taking the first word of verse 11 with verse 10 (cf. NIV, NJB, NRSV, REV). Among those versions that retain the final infinitive of verse 10 without including material from the following verse, one may note the ad sensum rendering of the HCSB: “For they have abandoned their devotion to the LORD.” Alternatively, the closing infinitive may be viewed nominally as gerund, which is to be understood as belonging to the beginning in verse 11.17 Then, by following the lead of the NET, which understands the first word of verse 12 to belong with verse 11, one achieves the most satisfying solution to the whole problem: “The keeping of prostitution/harlotry, and old and new wine, have taken away the heart/mind of my people.” Thus construed Hosea may be viewed as presenting a picturesque contrast. On the one hand God’s people have abandoned Yahweh, while on the other, they have maintained their adulterous practices, which like an overindulgence of wine can take away the mind’s proper reasoning power as well as the people’s heart for God.

4:11-14 The theme of prostitution/adultery both provides a literary hook with verses 4-10 and also serves to bookend this section (cf. vv. 11, 14). Wood provides another prominent theme featuring not only wooden idols (v. 12) but the trees that serve as sites where the sacred prostitution is carried out.18

4:13 Mountaintops … hills. Similar language dealing with Israel’s fascination with and participation in Canaanite religious fertility rites is used elsewhere in the OT (e.g., Deut. 12:2; 1 Kings 14:23; 2 Kings 17:10; Jer. 2:20; 3:6). Stuart suggests that “many of the sacrifices offered at these ‘high places’ were probably dedicated syncretistically to Yahweh, whatever other Baal-Asherah overtones may have attended the worship.”19 Hosea’s penchant for threes occurs again in the words oak, poplar, and terebinth.

4:14 Andersen and Freedman note that the closing sentence “is part of a wisdom saying.”20 To be noted also in the saying is the noun “people,” which provides further linkage with several of the earlier verses in the chapter (vv. 6, 9, 12).

4:15 Prostitution/adultery once again forms the literary hook with the previous section. Hosea will single out Bethel (house of God) as Beth Aven (house of iniquity/deception) also in 5:8 and 10:5. The latter reference clearly points to the calf worship established by Jeroboam I (1 Kings 12:29-30). “Gilgal had been a center for prophetic instruction. Now, however, it had apparently become a center for false worship.”21 Although Jeroboam may have intended these places as alternative sites of worship for the convenience of his Northern Kingdom constituents, “The golden claves he caused to be erected … were probably not intended to be construed as pagan images per se but representations of animals on whose back stood the invisible god, unseen by the eye of the worshiper. Similar practices involving the worship of the Canaanite god Baal Hadad are well documented in the literature and art of Ugarit. It was inevitable that religious confusion and apostasy would soon set in.”22

4:16 Building on the thought of the calf worship at Beth Aven, Hosea produces another pun. By worshiping the calf at Bethel/Beth Aven Israel has demonstrated a lack of spiritual insight. By abandoning Yahweh it has once again shown itself to be a “stubborn heifer.” As Garrett remarks, “A stubborn heifer was a cow that refused to go where her owner led (cf. Jer 31:18). The stubbornness of the people made it impossible for God to give them peace and prosperity.”23 Yahweh warns that the heifer will soon have no access to religious cultic sites but be put out to pasture (i.e., sent into captivity) “like a lamb in a broad field.” Alternatively, Stuart suggests that the Hebrew term underlying “broad field” is a “synecdoche for the ‘Afterworld,’ Sheol (cf. Ps 49:15 [14]),” hence a term meaning death.24

4:18 Hosea again mentions the Israelites association with drinking and prostitution (cf. v. 11). These two are linked together in order of their employment: first the drinking and then when the drinks are gone, the participants turn to sex. The Qere reading of Ezekiel 23:42 links drunkenness with sexual orgies (vv. 43-44). The last line of the MT is notoriously difficult and has occasioned many proposed solutions. Particularly troublesome is the last word (lit. her shields). The NET has apparently interpreted these shields as a synecdoche for what they represent, that is their shameful sexual behavior. It may be that decorative or ornamental shields were used in connection with the rites of the sacred prostitution so that the word is to be literally understood.

4:19 Sweeney points out that the Hebrew biqna„pe‚ha„ (NET, her wings) more than likely is to be understood as “her skirts”: “The meaning ’her skirts’ is clear from the sexual imagery of the preceding verse (cf. Isa 8:8; Ezek 16:8; Ruth 3:9; cf. Deut 23:1 [NRSV: 22:30]; 27:20).”25 However, one views verses 18 and 19, it is clear that Israel’s sin of idolatrous worship will lead to their destruction like disaster born of a whirlwind (cf. Prov. 1:27; Hos. 8:7).


1 Richard D. Patterson, “Singing the New Song: An Examination of Psalms 33, 96, 98 and 149,” BibSac 164 (2007): 416-434.

2 Sweeney, Twelve Prophets, 1:44.

3 Terence E. Fretheim, “ud,” NIDOTTE, 2:413.

4 See the helpful study by Carl J. Bosma, “Creation in Jeopardy: A Warning to Priests (Hos 4:1-3),” CTJ 34 (1999): 64 –116.

5 As U. Cassuto (“The Prophet Hosea and the Books of the Pentateuch,” in Biblical and Oriental Studies [Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1973], 1:89) suggests, the placing of adultery last in the sequence is deliberate: “It is permissible to suppose that he may have done this intentionally, in order to mention, at the end of his theme, the sin of adultery, Israel’s principle sin according to Hosea’s outlook.”

6 Sweeney, Twelve Prophets 1:45; see further, Bosma, “Creation in Jeopardy,” 64-116.

7 Garrett, Hosea, Joel, 136.

8 For details of Jacob’s encounter with the angel of God and his subsequence name change, see Richard D. Patterson, “The Old Testament Use of an Archetype: The Trickster,” JETS 42 (1999): 385-394.7

9 For details see Patterson and Austel, “1 & 2 Kings,” 4:249.

10 E.g., Wolff, 66; Stuart, 72-87.

11 For the theory of covenant lawsuits in the OT, see further K. Nielsen, Yahweh as Prosecutor and Judge. JSOTsup.9 (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 1978).

12 See the translation by A. Cohen in The Twelve Prophets, Soncino Books of the Bible (New York: Soncino Press, 1985), 14.

13 McComiskey, “Hosea,” 57.

14 Garrett, Hosea, Joel, 120.

15 Stuart, Hosea-Jonah, 79.

16 See Andersen and Freedman, Hosea, 363-364.

17 The use of the Hebrew infinitive construct in nominal fashion is well established. See, for example the excellent discussion in Bruce K. Waltke and M. O’Conner, An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 1990), 601-603, 605-606.

18 To the contrary, see Frédéric Gangloff, “A l’ombre des Déesses-arbres? (Os 4:12-14),” BN 106 (2001): 13-20. Gangloff decides that these verses relate to the worship of the goddess Asherah, but disallows any reference to sacred prostitution.

19 Stuart, Hosea-Jonah, 82.

20 Andersen and Freedman, Hosea, 371.

21 Leon J. Wood, “Hosea,” EBC, ed., Frank E. Gaebelein (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1985), 7:188.

22 Patterson and Austel, “1 & 2 Kings,” 4:188.

23 Garrett, Hosea, Joel, 137.

24 Stuart, Hosea-Jonah, 85.

25 Sweeney, The Twelve Prophets, 1:51.