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2: Perspectives on Unfaithful Israel (Hosea 5:1-15)

2. Three Guilty Parties (5:1-7)

Translation

5:1 Hear this, you priests!

Pay attention, you Israelites!

Listen closely, O king!

For judgment is about to overtake you!

For you were like a trap to Mizpah,

like a net spread out to catch Tabor.

2 Those who revolt are knee-deep in slaughter,

but I will discipline them all.

3 I know Ephraim all too well;

the evil of Israel is not hidden from me.

For you have engaged in prostitution, O Ephraim;

Israel has defiled itself.

4 Their wicked deeds do not allow them to return to their God;

because a spirit of idolatry controls their heart,

and they do not acknowledge the Lord.

5 The arrogance of Israel testifies against it;

Israel and Ephraim will be overthrown because of their iniquity.

Even Judah will be brought down with them.

6 Although they bring their flocks and herds

to seek the favor of the Lord,

They will not find him –

he has withdrawn himself from them!

7 They have committed treason against the Lord,

because they bore illegitimate children.

Soon the new moon festival will devour them and their fields.

Exegesis and Exposition

Hosea issues another indictment of Israel’s leadership. As in 4:1 the indictment is introduced by a call to hear what the Lord has to say through his prophet Hosea. Once again the charges are directed at those most responsible for Israel’s plight—Israel’s leaders. The indictment is presented in Hosea’s familiar threefold style. Not only are the priests guilty of misleading the people and the people condemnable for willingly following the leaders of society, but even the king shares in the blame (cf. Jer. 2:26). For ultimately he had the authority and responsibility to see to it that the nation kept on a proper spiritual course.

God’s judgment is thus particularly aimed at these individuals. To underscore their culpability, the Lord alludes to two traditional places where Israel’s leadership has failed. The first is Mizpah in Benjamin, which was an important administrative and religious site in the days of Samuel (1 Sam. 7:1-14). It was there that Samuel summoned Israel’s leadership for a religious service following the return of the ark from Philistine territory. In that service the leaders were asked to confess their sin in the mishandling of God’s sacred ark.

The second place, Mount Tabor, which lay at the northeastern tip of the Jezreel Valley, was noted for its association with the famous battle in the days of the judges Deborah and Barak. It was there that some tribes failed to respond to the call to battle. Both places were thus scenes of God’s blessing that was tempered by a note of failed leadership. Even worse, both had become centers of false cult worship. The allusion to these two sites includes an implied simile. Just as these places of victory were tainted by some examples of failed leadership, so Israel’s present leaders have failed to dispel the spiritual corruption at contemporary Mizpah and Tabor. Rather than being a part of the rejoicing and an avenue of God’s blessing, Israel’s present leaders were like those who set out traps and nets to catch the prey -- in this case the Israelite populace.

The result is that these revered placed in Israelite history have become scenes of spiritual degradation. So deeply stained with sin have these historic places become that they may be described as “knee deep in slaughter.” The reference may carry a double meaning and possibly refer to the heinous crime of child sacrifice as well as metaphorically to Israel’s people as “slaughtered” victims of their leaders. Because of this, Israel’s leadership is in a real sense responsible for Israel’s present condition and may expect God’s soon severe judgment (vv. 1-2).

God warns the nation that he knows full well its sins. The most despicable of these is that of idolatry and its accompanying prostitution (v. 3). Indeed, the Scriptures remind God’s people that he is an omniscient God—One who is fully aware of all that transpires on planet earth and even knows what people are thinking (e.g., 1 Chron. 28:9; Pss. 94:11; 139:15; 147:5; Jer. 16:17; cf. Isa. 40:28; 65:24; 66:18; Ezek. 11:5; etc.). The Lord singles out Ephraim particularly for its leading role in all of this. For the importance of Ephraim’s leadership role in the Northern Kingdom is longstanding. Its very first king Jeroboam I was from Ephraim and it was he who began the worship at rival religious centers. So politically important and strong was the tribe of Ephraim that its name frequently was used to designate all Israel. Accordingly, Garrett is doubtless correct in remarking, “‘Israel’ and ‘Ephraim’ … are the corporate body, institutions, and cultural ideals that make up the northern kingdom.”1

Because of Ephraim’s leading role in sponsoring spiritual and physical prostitution, all Israel has become infected with this spiritual disease. Due to this rampant sin, God’s people are left with no real knowledge of Yahweh. Certainly it cannot worship foreign pagan gods such as Baal and still acknowledge Yahweh as he deserves to be worshiped—the only true God (cf. Matt. 6:24). Quite the contrary, they have become arrogant, self-serving and entrenched in their harlotry as their activities clearly demonstrate. Therefore, Ephraim and all Israel with it must face the Lord’s judgment. Sadly, even Judah and the Southern Kingdom will be carried away along with them. Rather than learning the lesson that God will surely deal with sin even in his own people as demonstrated in his dealing with the Northern Kingdom, Judah will also ultimately come to ruin due to its infatuation with paganism (vv. 4-5).

Hosea concludes this short oracle (vv. 6-7) by telling the people that mere religiosity will avail them nothing. Pure and undefiled spirituality cannot coexist in syncretistic worship with pagan rituals. For that which was practiced in false rituals demonstrates that there is no real knowledge, devotion, or commitment to Yahweh. Indeed, he will not brook any compromise of his essential being and glory (cf. Deut. 5:7-10; 6:4, 13-15; Isa. 42:8; 45:5-6; Matt. 4:10). Accordingly, to go on mechanistically observing the sacrificial system without real heartfelt devotion as though the Lord was to be placated by or satisfied with their observances is both meaningless and useless. Without real repentance God’s people cannot find God let alone achieve his favor.

In a brilliant metaphor Hosea points out that Mother Israel’s religious heart has given birth to illegitimate spiritual children—those who worship Baal and other gods rather than Yahweh. God warns his people that their spiritual abuses will prove to be their undoing. This is symbolized in their misuse of the new moon festivals, which had because of Israel’s apostasy and debased religiosity become abominations to the Lord (cf. Isa. 1:13; Hos. 2:11). The new moon festivals were meant to emphasize a new dedication to Yahweh. The sin offering together with the burnt, meal, and drink offerings were designed to speak directly of the people’s commitment to the Lord. The burnt offering was to symbolize their dedication to the Lord, while the meal offering reminded God’s people that heartfelt service to the Lord was the natural outflow of true dedication. The drink offering was to be the capstone of spiritual expression—a life poured out in a fruitful, joyous, and consecrated life before the Lord.

It is no accident that the Apostle Paul could draw upon the imagery of these offerings to portray his consecration and commitment to God (Phil. 2:12-18). Were Paul to die in the Roman prison from which he is writing, his death would be merely a joyous drink offering to their dedicated sacrifice (= the burnt offering) and priestly service (= the meal offering), which the Philippians’ faith had evidenced. Accordingly, he could rejoice and urges them, too, to rejoice. Theirs had been a sacrificial faith and loving service. What would be more appropriate than for Paul to crown that consecration with the drink offering of his life?

Such was not the case with Hosea’s Israel, however. Their sacrifices had become a sham, a mockery, and even pure hypocrisy. Therefore, their sin would prove to be their undoing via God’s judgment. Rather than achieving God’s blessing, they have committed themselves to his chastisement. Even their crops and fields would be affected. What would be “new” would not be the new moon festivals but the nation’s demise together with the devouring of their fields at the hands of foreign invaders.2

Additional Notes

5:1 The NET’s translations “you Israelites” and “O king” are ad sensum renderings of the MT’s “O house of Israel” and “O house of the king” respectively. The emphasis on the culpability of Israel’s leadership, however, suggests that Garrett is probably correct in holding that the term “house of Israel” more than likely refers especially to the leaders of Israelite society—“The landed middle and upper classes.”3 Thus construed, Hosea’s threefold call to hear involves priests, Israelite leadership, and the royal house including the king.

5:1 The words “trap” and “net” designate terms most commonly associated with devices designed to catch birds. As the NET note further emphasizes, both terms are at times used figuratively, especially to designate those who employed nefarious means to ensnare others so as to take advantage of them.

5:1-2 Hosea’s threefold call to Israel’s leadership is accompanied by a twofold reason for doing so introduced by the Hebrew particle : (1) judgment is coming (2) because of their failure to maintain vital religion, which has enmeshed all Israelite society in their spiritual rebellion (cf. vv. 3-5).

5:2 The first line of v. 2 is a notorious crux (see NET note). In following the text of MT the NET translation underscores the depth of Israel’s spiritual rebellion (cf. NASB, NIV, NKJV). Some (e.g., Andersen and Freedman; Hubbard) have suggested that Hosea’s remarks point to the despicable practice of child sacrifice.4 Some translations (e.g., NRSV, REB) depend on minor emendations to the Hebrew text (see NET text note) so as to find in addition to Mizpah and Mount Tabor a third time honored location—Shittim (cf. NLT, “acacia grove”). Thus construed there are three locations of spiritual significance where Israel’s rebellion manifested itself. Thus Sweeney points out, “Each of these sites can be considered a snare or trap for Israel: … All of these sites were important to the formation of the Israelite nation, including its monarchy, its identity as a united people, and its priesthood. Hosea roundly criticizes all three throughout the balance of his oracles.”5

Although the proposed emendation yields good sense and would provide yet another example of Hosea’s literary style in presenting things in groups of three, one always hesitate to tamper with the existing MT.6 Commendable sense can certainly be made of the MT as demonstrated by the NET. Note also the decision of McComiskey who after a careful examination of the problem translates the line in question, “And through slaughter they sink ever deeper into acts of rebellion.” 7

5:3 For Hosea’s use of the theme of Israelite infidelity/spiritual harlotry see (4:10-18; 5:3-4; 6:10; 7:4; 8:4-6, 9; 9:1, 10, 15; 11:2, 7; 12:11; cf. 2:2-13). The term “defiled” to refer to idolatry, hence spiritual infidelity, is attested elsewhere in the OT (e.g., Jer. 2:7).

5:4 Due to Israel’s spiritual infidelity and social corruption, Hosea often speaks of the need of repentance (e.g., 2:14; 3:5; 6:6-7; 7:8-10; 14:4).

5:4-5 Some (e.g., Sweeney) have found in Hosea’s words a hint of the divorce procedure (cf. Deut. 24:1-4), the thought being that Israel’s spiritual harlotry has caused God to divorce his “wife” Israel. Yet as Stuart notes, the situation appears to be that “Israel’s citizens are kept away from Yahweh by their own deeds.”8 Laetsch adds, “So deeply had the people become enmeshed in the toils of idolatry that they never gave a thought to returning to the true worship”9 and Achtemeier observes, “The Israelites had become enslaved to their sin and have no possibility of returning by their own power to a faithful and loving relationship with God.”10 The point is that Israel is deeply involved in its own spiritual harlotry and has become arrogantly proud of it.11 Thus Achtemeier remarks, “Though helpless in sin, Israel does not recognize its own corruption and takes great pride in its syncretistic and lavish worship (v. 5), flocking to the high places to offer multitudinous sacrifices (v.6).”12

5:6 God’s withdrawal has occasioned many suggestions. Thus Sweeney suggests that God has withdrawn himself from his apostate wife via divorce proceedings.13 Achtemeier, however, holds that God may simply be leaving them “to their fate, abandoning them to the death that is inevitable when the God of life is absent (v. 7).”14 God’s withdrawing of himself may be viewed as his absenting himself from Israel’s sacrifices because of their feigned attempts at worshiping him.

5:7 Sweeney holds that the reference to illegitimate children indicates that there is an allusion here to the situation with Gomer in 1:2-2:2: “Because she is described as a harlot, the posterity of the children is implicitly in question.”15 Chisholm suggests that the reference could also be to illegitimate children born as a result of religious prostitution.16 The reference is more than likely, however, to spiritual illegitimacy as practiced by the devotees of Baal. The Israelites had not only practiced spiritual harlotry but taught their children to do so likewise.

5:7 Although Andersen and Freedman, and Sweeney allow the possibility that the Hebrew noun h£o„desŒ may better be read as h£a„da„sŒ, hence a “new person” (or “someone else, i.e., a foreigner or strange god) will eat the sacrifices, the unemended text makes perfectly good sense as indicating the misuse of the new moon festivals will occasion Israel’s self-destruction. God’s judgment will soon be brought to bear upon those sinful activities.

3. A Threefold Alarm (5:8-15)

Translation

5:8 Blow the ram’s horn in Gibeah!

Sound the trumpet in Ramah!

Sound the alarm in Beth Aven!

Tremble in fear, O Benjamin!

9 Ephraim will be ruined in the day of judgment!

What I am declaring to the tribes of Israel will certainly take place!

10 The princes of Judah are like those who move boundary markers.

I will pour out my rage on them like a torrential flood!

11 Ephraim will be oppressed, crushed under judgment,

because he was determined to pursue worthless idols.

12 I will be like a moth to Ephraim,

like wood rot to the house of Judah.

13 When Ephraim saw his sickness

and Judah saw his wound,

then Ephraim turned to Assyria,

and begged its great king for help.

But he will not be able to heal you!

He cannot cure your wound!

14 I will be like a lion to Ephraim,

like a young lion to the house of Judah.

I myself will tear them to pieces,

then I will carry them off, and no one will be able to rescue them!

15 Then I will return again to my lair

until they have suffered their punishment.

Then they will seek me;

in their distress they will earnestly seek me.

Exegesis and Exposition

Hosea begins this section with another call to attention and action. His instruction to “blow the ram’s horn” (or shofar) is particularly a propos. The shofar could be sounded for many reasons. “It was used from earliest times as a signal to battle (e.g., Judg 3:27; 6:34) or as a signal of imminent danger (e.g., Hos 5:8; 8:1; Amos 3:6). The sŒo‚pa„r had both sacred and secular uses.”17 Hosea’s charge contains a calculated double entendre: not only is danger imminent but there is a play on the closing thought of the last section—the New Moon festival. For among the many religious days when the shofar was to be blown (e.g., the Day of Atonement, Lev. 25:9; Pentecost, 2 Chron. 15:4) was the New Moon festival (Ps. 81:3). Hosea has already condemned Israel’s hypocrisy on this latter occasion (Hos. 5:7) and warned the people that such degradation of the Lord’s service would ultimately destroy them. Now the sounding of the shofar was to be understood not only as a call to assembly but as a warning that the danger of God’s judgment lay close at hand.

Hosea’s warning call most likely reflects the unsettled conditions that prevailed in the mid-eighth century B.C. and following. This period stands in stark contrast to the earlier part of that century, which under Jeroboam II of the Northern Kingdom and Uzziah in the south enjoyed an era of prosperity unparalleled since the days of Solomon both economically and politically. Together these kings claimed much the same territorial dimension as did the founder of the United Kingdom. Unfortunately, this high water mark of prosperity for the twin kingdoms would not long endure. In the north, with the death of Jeroboam II in 752 B.C. kings of lesser ability, who often vied with one another for local, if not national, supremacy, ruled the kingdom. Jeroboam’s son Zechariah reigned only six months before being assassinated by Shallum, who in turned reigned but one month before being killed by Menahem. The latter’s ten year reign (751-742 B.C.) was characterized by spiritual weakness and subservience to the rising power of Assyria.

Meanwhile in Assyria a usurper now occupied the throne as Tiglath-pileser III (2 Kings 16:6), also called Pulu (or Pul, 2 Kings 15:19). His reign (745-727 B.C.) marked the beginning of a new day in the ancient Near East, when Assyrian resurgence would blossom into the mighty Neo-Assyrian Empire (745-612 B.C.). When in 743 B.C. Tiglath-pileser’s armies ravaged much of Syria, Menahem and Israel paid him a heavy tribute to keep him from engulfing the Northern Kingdom (2 Kings 15:19-20).

Israel’s difficulties in the face of Assyrian aggression were compounded by its internal squabbling. Although Menahem ruled from Tirzah, a strong rival named Pekah ruled in Gilead. Pekah’s strength was such that after Menahem’s death, he was able to overthrow Pekahiah, Menahem’s son and successor, and claim sole rulership of all Israel (740-732 B.C.) Pekah’s independent rule was faced with a growing Assyrian menace. For Tiglath-pileser III began a second western campaign in 734 B.C. to break-up a western anti-Assyrian coalition. Among the chief dissidents were the Aramean king Rezin and Pekah of Israel. By 732 B.C. the Assyrian thrusts not only brought about the surrender of Damascus but also reduced the entire west to vassalage.

When Tiglath-pileser died in 727 B.C., the next king of Israel Hoshea found opportunity to forego sending tribute to Shalmaneser V (727-722 B.C.) and sought help from a certain So, King of Egypt (2 Kings 17:3-4) 18. The plan backfired and soon Samaria was attacked and after a three-year siege, the Israelite capital fell and its citizens were deported (2 Kings 17:5-6).

If Israel’s position was tenuous by 732 B.C., Judah’s was scarcely little better. After the death of Uzziah in 740 B.C., kings of lesser ability came to the throne. Particularly detrimental to Judah’s spiritual state was Ahaz (736-716 B.C.). Although he attempted to pursue Judah’s political independence by courting Assyria’s favor, as the Chronicler would later point out, the Assyrian king gave Ahaz “more trouble than support” (2 Chron. 28:20). Sadly, Ahaz’s infatuation with Assyrian and foreign culture further advanced his already apostate heart and paved the way for the growing spiritual callousness that would one day necessitate God’s judgment upon the Southern Kingdom.

It is to this latter period that most interpreters point as to the setting for this portion of Hosea’s prophecy. Particularly reference is often made to the Syro-Ephraimite war (735 B.C.; cf. 2 Kings 15:29-30; 16:5-9; Isa. 7:1-16). In accordance with this theory when the Aramean king Rezin and the Israelite king Pekah attempted to take Jerusalem, Ahaz appealed to the Assyrian king Tiglath-pileser III for help.19 When Tiglath-pileser defeated this coalition, Ahaz saw an opportunity to expand Judah’s territory northward. Yet, this explanation scarcely fits the context well. For although the text likens Judah to those “who move boundary markers” (v. 10), it is Ephraim/Israel that is condemned for turning to Assyria for help (v. 13). Furthermore, the Scriptures indicate that at the time of the Syro-Ephraimite war Judah was too weak to mount such an attack.

Although the mid to late eighth century B.C. likely marks the setting for Hosea’s prophecy here, it is probably best not to look for any specific historical event. Rather, the reference in verse 13 may simply point to long-standing general Israelite foreign policy together with the prevailing spiritual and moral degeneracy in the Northern Kingdom. Nor was the situation in Judah much better. Accordingly, God warned his people of his impending judgment in the form of foreign invasion (vv. 8-11).

Hosea’s similes in verse 12 are again quite meaningful. In a strange if not grotesque simile Yahweh ‘s coming judgment is likened to two destructive forces: moth rust (or rot). Just as moths eat away clothing and dry rot causes gradual deterioration, so God’s slow but certain judgment of Israel is unnoticed by his unconcerned people. It is Israel’s sinful idolatry and moral deterioration that is the cause for its demise. Because these are eating away the spiritual fiber of Israel, they are ensuring God’s certain judgment. So intent are the Lord’s people on their own way that they do not notice the degradation of their sinful practices. Yet all the while they are under God’s scrutiny and condemnation—a condition that will eventuate in their destruction (v. 12).

In their political weakness both kingdoms have submitted to the “great king” of Assyria (cf. Hos. 10:6) Thus Hoshea paid tribute to Shalmaneser V (2 Kings 17:3), as did Ahaz to Tiglath-pileser III (2 Kings 16:7-9). Hezekiah would later do the same thing to Sennacherib (2 Kings 18:13-16). Ephraim is more specifically in view here, for it was its idolatry that made it weak. The problem was thus an internal one—its spiritual relationship with Yahweh. Had they turned to Him rather than submitting to an external power, things could have been far different. Rather than being the means of their continued existence and well being, their misjudgment will prove to bring God’s judgment against His people (v. 13).

Hosea’s use of similes continues in the graphic figure of a voracious lion, which will consume its prey (v. 14). Thus God will one day violently judge His people—both Northern and Southern Kingdoms—and carry their people into captivity and exile. “The imagery is particularly pertinent in the present context as the Assyrian kings frequently portrayed themselves in palaces’ reliefs as hunters of lions, all the better to demonstrate their courage, prowess, and strength. Instead, YHWH claims the role of lion which none can overcome.”20 Continuing the imagery of a lion, Yahweh represents Himself as withdrawing to His abode much as a lion to his lair after an attack (v. 15). The Lord had previously been shown to withdraw Himself from Israel’s polluted sacrifices and idolatrous worship festivals (v. 6). All the while the Israelites have been experiencing an advancing spiritual deterioration without realizing it (v. 12) that will bring God out of His abode to enact His judgment against them (v. 14). He will then withdraw Himself to await their repentance and return to Him (v. 15).

When God’s people realize that turning in dependence on other powers, be they political (v. 13) or so-called gods (v. 11) for help is useless, and they have suffered the just consequences of their actions, they will seek earnestly the Lord’s sovereignty over them. As Keil observes, “As the lion withdraws into its cave, so will the Lord withdraw into His own place, viz. heaven, and deprive the Israelites of His gracious, helpful presence, until they repent, i.e. not only feel themselves guilty, but feel the guilt by bearing the punishment. Suffering punishment awakens the need of mercy, and impels them to seek the face of the Lord.”21

Additional Notes

5:8 Hosea once again employs his literary style of writing in groups of three. The three cities mentioned here were situated in the southern portion of Israel and are listed in a south to north orientation. Therefore, this together with Hosea’s reference to the moving of boundary stones (v. 10) has been interpreted as reflecting a Judahite invasion in connection with the Syro-Ephramite war. Unfortunately for this seemingly otherwise logical hypothesis, no evidence exists historically of such an aggressive move by Judah so that, “the standard interpretation of this text as incrimination of Judah for territorial aggrandizement is not a good fit with what we know of the history of the period or with this context.”22

The fourth line of verse 8 is beset with uncertainties both as to the reading of the text and the understanding of its words. The NET follows the LXX in translating. “Tremble in fear, O Benjamin,” while the MT reads the enigmatic “Behind/after you, O Benjamin,” (cf. HCSB, KJV). The Hebrew phrase contains most likely another allusion to the battle at the time of Deborah and Barak (Judg. 5:14). In that battle “contingents from Benjamin, Ephraim and west bank Manasseh made up the rescue force that perhaps would follow a second assault.”23 Just as Ephraim followed after Benjamin in that early battle formation, so all the Northern Kingdom will be devastated from south to north: up through Benjamin via Giba, Ramah, and Bethel to the limits of the north. The south to north orientation could indicate a military threat from the south. Certainly this was the source of earlier conflicts between Israel and Judah (cf. 1 Kings 15:16-22). Yet, as we have noted above, Judah was scarcely in a position to launch an attack at the time of the Syro-Ephramite war. Therefore, the proximity of these cities may simply indicate that all Israel will suffer foreign invasion.

5:9 In accordance with the textual allusion to a past situation in the days of the Judges, the reference to the tribes of Israel in connection with Ephraim must mean that all Israel is intended. Moreover, what Hosea was declaring (see NET text note) was an established certainty. The root meaning of the verb employed here carries the sense of security and permanence, hence fidelity and even true faith. From this root comes the noun áe†mu‚na„h, which is often translated faith or faithfulness. Thus it is used of the faithfulness of God himself (Pss. 36:5; 40:10; Lam. 3:23) and of the necessity of the believer to be faithful in his life and service to God (2 Chron. 19:8-9). From the biblical standpoint, true faith means faithfulness in one’s life. The root has come down to believers in all ages in the sense of “Amen.”

5:10 Rather than indicating an act of military aggression, Hosea’s simile in which he likens the leaders of Judah to those “who move boundary markers,” probably indicates that corruption in Judah is also rampant. Judah’s leadership is little better than common thieves. Indeed, Ahaz’s moving of the time-honored altar in the Jerusalem Temple precincts and the substituting of a pagan one in its place was an act of robbery against God as well as one of impiety. Ahaz’s other acts of spiritual infidelity are well documented in 2 Chronicles 28:1-4, 22-25. Doubtless degradation in the royal house was reflected in various unethical acts among Judah’s elite.

5:10 In a further simile Hosea compares God’s coming judgment to a “torrential flood” (NET). Although the Hebrew word usually means simply water, the comparison with the pouring out of water to an overflowing judgment is both meaningful and in accordance with scriptural prophecies (e.g., Isa. 8:6-7; Jer. 47:2).

5:11 Verse 11 contains several problems. In parallel with the thought that in the coming judgment Ephraim will suffer oppression, the second line may be understood as “crushed under judgment” (NET), the word judgment being viewed as a genitive of cause (see NET text note). A more direct parallel would be simply to translate the two lines: “Ephraim is oppressed; justice is crushed.” In either case God’s people are being warned of the drastic results of God’s judgment upon them.

The closing line is troubled with the problem of how to understand the enigmatic s£a„w. Most commonly the noun here is emended in some fashion to mean enemy or vanity (see BHS text note). Andersen and Freedman understand the word as filth.24 Either of the last two suggestions may point to Israel’s worship of idols. The noun could also be viewed as a biform of sŒa„wá meaning that which is worthless (cf. LXX), hence “worthless idols” (NET).


1 Garrett, Hosea, Joel, 144.

2 See the note on 2:11.

3 Garrett, Hosea, Joel, 141.

4 Andersen and Freedman, Hosea, 380; Hubbard, Hosea, 114.

5 Sweeney, Twelve Prophets, 1:55. See further, Garrett, Hosea, Joel, 42-43; Stuart, Hosea-Jonah, 88-89.

6 For an approach respecting the primacy of the MT, see Ernst Würthwein, The Text of the Old Testament, 111-119.

7 McComiskey, “Hosea,” 74, 75-76.

8 Stuart, Hosea-Jonah, 93.

9 Laetsch, Minor Prophets, 51.

10 Elizabeth Achtemeier, Minor Prophets , NIBC (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1996), 1:45.

11 Stuart (Hosea-Jonah, 93) finds in the reference to Israel’s arrogance testifying against it a further note of a legal nature. See also Hubbard, Hosea, 115; Andersen and Freedman, Hosea, 392.

12 Achtemeier, Minor Prophets, 1:45-46. It is of interest to note that the LXX renders the line here, “The pride/insolence of Israel shall be humbled to his face.”

13 Sweeney, Twelve Prophets, 1:57-58.

14 Achtemeier, Minor Prophets, 1:46.

15 Sweeney, Twelve Prophets, 1:58.

16 Chisholm, Minor Prophets, 31, 32.

17 Patterson, “Joel,” 7:246.

18 For the problem of the identification of So, see my remarks in Giving The Sense, 196-197

19 The theory of the time of the Syro-Ephraimite war as the background for Hos. 5:8-6:6 (for some, even to Hos. 7:16) is attributable to the suggestion of Albrecht Alt, “Hosea 5:8-6:6. Ein Krieg und seine Folgen in prophetischer Beleuchtung,” in Kleine Schriften zur Geschichte des Volkes Israel (München: Beck, 1953), 163-187. Sweeney (Twelve Prophets, 1:62) follows a better path in suggesting that “Hos 5:8-7:16 must be read in relation to the debate concerning Israel’s foreign relations that must have taken place in Israel late in the reign of Jeroboam and during the reign of Zechariah.”

20 Sweeney, Twelve Prophets, 68.

21 Carl Friedrich Keil, The Twelve Minor Prophets, Trans. James Martin (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1954), 1:93-94. Theo. Laetsch (The Minor Prophets [St. Louis: Concordia, 1956], 55) adds, “To effect such a return was the very purpose He had in mind when He wounded and tore them to such an extent that human aid was of no avail.”

22 Garrett, Hosea, Joel, 151-52.

23 Richard D. Patterson, “The Song of Deborah,” in Tradition and Testament: Essays in Honor of Charles Lee Feinberg, eds., John S. and Paul D. Feinberg (Chicago: Moody, 1981), 144.

24 Andersen and Freedman, Hosea, 410.