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4: Concluding Considerations RE Unfaithful Israel (Hosea 11:12-12:14)

 

4
Concluding Considerations
RE Unfaithful Israel
(11:12-14:8 [HB 12:1-14:9])

C. Concluding Considerations RE Unfaithful Israel (11:12-14:8 [HB 12:1-14:9])

The final section of Hosea contains further messages concerning prevailing conditions in the Northern Kingdom that necessitate Israel’s judgment. The speeches contain both oracles of the prophet and divine speeches (e.g., 12:9-11; 13:4-16; 14:4-8). It is by now a familiar pattern. The messages deal with both societal problems such as Israel’s political and business practices, and the underlying basic spiritual condition of God’s people: their abandonment of Yahweh and their self-pride. Nevertheless, although the unit begins with a condemnation, it ends on a high note of God’s consolation: granted Israel’s repentance, God’s people will be restored to His favor and blessings forevermore.

1. Her Deceitful Politics (11:12-12:1[HB 12:1-2])

Translation

11:12[12:1] Ephraim has surrounded me with lies;

the house of Israel has surrounded me with deceit.

But Judah still roams about with God;

he remains faithful to the Holy One.

12:1 Ephraim continually feeds on the wind;

he chases the east wind all day;

he multiplies lies and violence.

They make treaties with Assyria,

and send olive oil as tribute to Egypt.

Exegesis and Exposition

As this section of the book of Hosea opens, the Lord is expressing his displeasure with His people of both kingdoms. He begins with the Northern Kingdom. Israel has been a seedbed of treachery (v.1). The charge of lying has been leveled previously when the Lord condemned the royal advisors for their false relations with the king (7:3). Because of the deceptive practices that infected the Northern Kingdom at the highest levels, all Israel had become corrupt. It even affected its worship experience, for in these God’s people lie to the lord with regard to their supposed devotion (7:13). Through His prophet the Lord also had denounced Israel’s false dependence on its military strength rather than trusting in the lord (10:13).

Not only is Israel guilty of outright lies but also of deceit in all of its dealings, Israel has become a society where violence, which often leads to bloodshed, abounds (12:2,14), where dishonesty characterizes its business dealings (v.7), and in which lust for wealth accrued in whatever way it could be obtained was a way of life (vv. 8-9). Israel’s deception and fraud included its false—even pagan—religious rites (v.11) and its failure to heed the prophets whom God sent to guide and correct His people (v.10). It is small wonder, then. That God feels “surrounded” by Israel’s lies and deceit. For wherever He looked, there was only wanton debauchery.

The Lord had compared His people to a wicked city previously (11:8). Now He applies the image of the city to Himself. The metaphor portrays God as likening Himself to a besieged city. He the holy city saw all around Him the siege machinery of lies, deceit, and total apostasy. There remained nothing for Yahweh to do but to defend His holiness by striking out in judgment against His debased nation.

The Lord’s charges against His people serve to cast light on the notorious crux in Hosea 11:12b. Although many find the Lord’s words concerning Judah to be a positive report, the tenor of the context together with the subsequent charges delivered by Hosea against Judah (12:2) suggests that God’s prophet was building upon the Lord’s own indictment of the Southern Kingdom as well.1

The central issue revolves around the proper meaning of the Hebrew participle ra„d and the plural adjective qe†do‚sŒîm. The former comes from a very rare verb, which also appears in Jeremiah 2:31. There it portrays Judah’s wandering away from the Lord. On the basis of the context in Hosea a similar negative consideration would seem to be implied. Israel wanders around with regard to God. So construed the sense of the form in the accompanying clause remains to be determined. Help comes from noting how the plural form qe†do‚sŒîm is used elsewhere. Although we find it used to refer to saints (Pss. 16:3; 34:9) and angels (Job 5:1; Zech. 14:5), its significance in two other occurrences is debatable (Prov. 9:10; 30:3). Both texts have been commonly understood as pertaining to Yahweh as the Holy One, the adjective being considered a plural of majesty. Yet Proverbs 30:3 may just as well be taken as referring to holy things/matters and thus serving as a fitting parallel to “wisdom.” Proverbs 9:10, however, does seem better suited as a reference to the Holy One, although here too one could make a case for considering the knowledge of holy things/matters a fitting parallel to the fear/reverence of the Lord.

But whether one understands this form to be referring to Yahweh or spiritual matters in Hosea 11:12, the over-all effect of the Lord’s words is best taken negatively.2 Thus Judah still wanders about with God while remaining steadfast (faithful/firm) with regard to the Holy One (or holy things/matters).3 So understood Judah is properly reproached for its inconsistent walk with God (perhaps even in its concept of the divine), while at the same time attending to traditional spiritual things relative to the worship of the Lord.

Moreover, a negative evaluation (cf. 12:2) of both Israel and Judah together is most appropriate if viewed as being delivered near the time of the end of the Northern Kingdom. Such a setting would entail the wicked king Ahaz being on the throne of the Southern Kingdom. His reign marked a distinctive turning point in the spiritual condition of Judah. For among other things it was he who replaced the central position of the bronze altar with a new altar like one he had seen in Damascus and offered sacrifices upon it. He also appropriated the panels and high stands supporting the brazen altar as well as the brass bulls supporting the Molten Sea (2 Kings 16:12-16) and furnishings from the Temple (2 Chron. 28:24). He also participated in pagan rituals to Baal (2 Chron. 28:1-4) and in sacrifices to the gods of Damascus (2 Chron. 28:22-35), and had pagan altars erected throughout Jerusalem and the cities of Judah (2 Chron. 28:24-25).4

The prophet Hosea builds upon the Lord’s previous statement in Hosea 11:12 by once again comparing Israel’s vacillating and deceitful foreign policy to the futility of pursuing matters in a wrong way (12:1). Whereas earlier Hosea likened Israel’s actions to sowing to the wind (8:7), here he accuses Israel of feeding on and chasing after the wind. It was a hot, dry east wind (Hamsin) at that. Such chasing after the wind with regard to its foreign policy could gain them nothing (cf. Eccles. 2:11). The imagery here is tantalizing in-as-much as the Hebrew participle commonly translated “feeds” is literally “shepherds” (cf. AB). The implied simile charges Israel with continually pursuing other nations much as a shepherd goes after his lost sheep (cf. Luke 15:3-7).5 Nevertheless, Israel does not realize that its policies are a lost cause. For what Israel will find is only the emptiness and futility that the pursuit of wind implies.

Not only has Israel erred in its total governmental policies by not seeking God, but currying the favor of various nations was wrong-headed in itself. Moreover, Israel went about things in the wrong way, for it dealt insincerely and dishonestly with the nations. Such included making agreements with Assyria on the one hand (cf. Hos. 5:13; 8:9) and at the same time making overtures to Egypt (cf. 2 Kings 17:3-4; Hos. 7:11). As Stuart remarks, “In internal matters, the nations multiple immorality was well documented: it can be no surprise therefore that in external matters of diplomacy, their pattern of treachery continued true to form.”6 As Hosea has previously declared, neither nation would save them. Rather, Israel’s foreign policy will deceive itself leading to the nation’s defeat and the carrying of its people into exile (cf. Hos. 9:3; 10:5-8).

Although it is Ephraim/Israel that is singled out here for rebuke, the force of the context tends to suggest that although Israel is the primary focus, there is culpability in both Israel and Judah. As Andersen and Freedman point out, “Both countries are guilty of entering non-Yahwistic covenants… . The north and south tried to curry favor with Assyria at each other’s expense. There is also indications that they played Egypt off against Assyria.”7 Certainly both Israel and Judah come into the prophet’s denunciations in the succeeding verses. This understanding likewise further underscores a consistent flow with an earlier negative appraisal of God’s people in 11:12.

Additional Notes

11:12 The etymology of Hebrew ra„d is a matter of dispute. Thus Keil dismisses Luther’s suggestion of a relation to Hebrew ra„da„h (to rule) and as do many others and proposes a relation with an Arabic root meaning to roam about.8Another proposal is a relation to the Hebrew verb ya„rad (to go down; cf. Vulgate).9 Several other possibilities could be brought forward including an even previously unattested root.10

11:12 Among those who view this verse in a positive light, some understand qe†do‚sŒîmas a plural of majesty (e.g., Craigie, McComiskey, and Sweeney). Many who take the negative view of the passage also favor this same understanding (e.g., Cohen, Keil, Laetsch, Stuart, Wood).11 Others who hold to the negative view consider the plural adjective to refer to the pagan gods (e.g., Andersen and Freedman, Garrett, Hubbard). In this view the parallel to the divine name in the previous line refers to the Canaanite god El.12 Achtemeier suggests a new approach in proposing that by qe†do‚sŒîm is meant faithful Levities and prophets, including Hosea himself “who were the instigators of the Deuteronomic reform in Judah in 622/1 B.C.”13

12:1 Andersen and Freedman follow the lead of some in proposing that oil was used in connection with covenant making. They go on to point out, “It would be a mistake to link the covenant exclusively with Assyria, and the oil with Egypt. Both are tied to both, and we must suppose that the oil ceremony is a part or consequence of making a covenant. As noted, both Ephraim and Judah were intriguing with both Assyria and Egypt.”14

2. Prophetic Reaction: Israel’s Deceitful Record
(12:2-6[HB 12:3-7])

Translation

12:2 The Lord also has a covenant lawsuit against Judah;

he will punish Jacob according to his ways

and repay him according to his deeds.

3 In the womb he attacked his brother;

in his manly vigor he struggled with God.

4 He struggled with an angel and prevailed;

he wept and begged for his favor.

He found God at Bethel,

and there he spoke with him!

5 As for the Lord God Almighty,

the Lord is the name by which he is remembered!

6 But you must return to your God,

by maintaining love and justice,

and by waiting for your God to return to you.

Exegesis and Exposition

Hosea begins this section with the notice that the Lord has some charges to bring against His people (cf. 4:1) including Judah. Though Ephraim was particularly in view in 11:12-12:1, here in discussing the sins of God’s people Judah is mentioned first. As Hubbard observes, “Judah’s name (cf. 11:12) is a reminder that the whole people inherited both the wicked or foolish characteristics of their common ancestor and the covenant promises which will make them one again. Jacob (vv. 2, 12) and Israel (vv. 12-13) refer to the father of both the northern and southern tribes and to all the tribes rescued from Egypt in the Exodus.”15 The following examples come from the life of the patriarch Jacob. Hosea presents them in order to point out an analogy between the character of God’s people in Hosea’s day and that of their ancestor. God’s people in Hosea’s day were behaving like Jacob the trickster. “Jacob’s trickery became legendary. Accordingly, it served as a ready symbol for the prophets to seize upon in condemning the grasping, greedy ways of contemporary society.”16 For example, Jeremiah (Jer. 9:4[3]) chides the Judahite society of his day for its deceitfulness by saying that one should not even trust his relatives, “for every brother will certainly deceive” (HCSB; MT àa„qo‚b yaàqo„b). The combining of the word brother with this particular verbal form provides a deliberate analogy with the patriarch Jacob (yaàa†qo„b).

Hosea likewise calls upon the Jacob tradition to underscore the deceitful ways of God’s people (cf. Hos. 11:12). He points out that Jacob’s trickery began in the womb where “he grasped [àa„qab] his brother’s heel” (v. 3, NIV; cf. Gen. 25:26). Then “in his manly vigor he struggled with God” (NET). The letters of the word for manhood (NET, “manly vigor”; MT /wa, áwn) form a word play on the noun that Hosea uses for deception or iniquity (áa„wen) and as a “byword for the shrine at Bethel, Beth Aven. The implied accusation is: Jacob as a man struggled with God near Bethel, the nation has rebelled against God at Beth Aven.”17

Likewise the verb that Hosea chooses for struggling (sÃa„ra„h) is significant. For Hosea goes on to mention that as a man Jacob’s struggles with God reached a climax in his encounter with “an angel” (vv. 3-4; cf. Gen. 32:22-32). There at Penuel (near Bethel) in his struggle with the angel Jacob held the angel tightly and would not let him go until he received a blessing from the angel. Thus Jacob “prevailed” over the angel by asking for a blessing. Essentially he “won” by submitting to the favor of God’s emissary. As a result his name is changed from Jacob to Israel. In Hosea’s telling of the incident it is particularly interesting to note his use of paronomasia: the Jacob (yaàa†qo‚b) of Hosea 12:2 and the àa„qab and sÃa„ra„h in verse 3 are followed by the waya„sÃo„r ál maláak in verse 4. For Hosea “juxtaposed the letters of the verbal form waya„sÃo„r with the preposition áel so as to form the consonants of the name Israel: ysÃrál. Thus in one context he has cleverly brought together both Jacob’s original name and his new one.”18

Hosea goes on to declare that Jacob’s transformation was fully accomplished at Bethel (v. 4). Jacob had met God earlier at Bethel where the provisions of the Abrahamic Covenant were promised to him (Gen. 28:16-22). In a still later encounter at Bethel (Gen. 35:9-15) God confirmed both the transmission of the Abrahamic Covenant through Jacob and his name change to Israel. Jacob at last could realize the fullness of his name Israel by submitting to God’s rule over him. Hosea’s emphasis, however, is that although God met Jacob at Bethel and fellowshipped with him there, God was virtually excluded from present day Bethel by contemporary Jacob (i.e., God’s people in Hosea’s day). For Bethel (house of God) had become Beth Aven (house of deception/iniquity). It was there that the people courted Baal and indulged in his pagan rites.

Therefore, in verses 5 and 6 Hosea urges God’s people to learn the lesson of Jacob the trickster who became Israel the channel of God’s blessing. Jacob discovered who and what God really was: Yahweh, “God Almighty.” Like Israel of old, God’s people needed to learn the lesson of submission to God. “The implication for Israel is clear: they are nothing without Yahweh, just as Jacob was nothing without Yahweh.”19 They must truly return to God and maintain His standards of covenant loyalty, love, and justice in their lives.20 In so doing they were always to put their hope and expectations in God (cf. HCSB). Theirs was to be a continuous attitude of genuine trust and reverential fear, “instead of placing your hope on yourselves and other nations!”21

Additional Notes

12:3 As noted in the exposition the verb translated as seize/grasp (NET, “attack”) has an etymological relation with the name Jacob and the deception associated with that name. It is also related to the noun for heel (àa„qe„b). Thus he who seized his brother by the heel became known as Jacob (Gen. 25:26). Two other substantives of note with regard to the Jacob narrative are associated with this root: àa„qo„b (“deceitful”) and àoqba„h (“trickery”).22 As noted in the exposition, the verb “struggle” (sÃa„ra„h) is important to the Jacob narrative (cf. Gen. 32:28[HB 29]) and for Hosea’s wordplay on Jacob’s later name Israel (yisÃa„ráe„l).23

12:4 The verbal form wayya„o„r is not the expected wayyisÃor. Nevertheless, it is generally held that the verb in question is probably to be translated “struggled” (NLT, “wrestled”). As used by Hosea it emphasizes that by struggling with God (v. 3) Hosea means that Jacob struggled with God’s angel (v. 4). In any case, McComiskey remarks that in one respect verses 3 and 4 yield a telling portrait of Jacob’s character: “With one bold sweep of his brush Hosea portrays Jacob’s character as the same in his later years as it was foreshadowed at his birth. From his birth to his early manhood Jacob strove to overcome.”24

12:5 The unusual verbal form àimma„nu‚ (“he [God] spoke with him”) rather than the expected àimmo‚ (see NET text note) is taken by some simply to be an alternate grammatical form.25 Kaiser, however, suggests that the form in the MT should be accepted at face value for, “It was not only Jacob the individual but also the total nation that was intended. The shift from ‘him’ to ‘us,’ from the patriarch to the nation, is at the heart of the prophet’s design.”26

12:6 The Hebrew verb qwh translated “waiting” (NET) carries with it a note of waiting with expectant hope (cf. HCSB).27 Hosea employs the derived noun tiqwa„h (hope) earlier in connection with Valley of Achor.28

3. Her Deceitful Practices (12:7-11[HB 12:8-12])

Translation

12:7 The businessmen love to cheat;

they use dishonest scales.

8 Ephraim boasts, “I am very rich!

I have become wealthy!

In all that I have done to gain my wealth,

no one can accuse me of any offense that is actually sinful.”

9 “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt;

I will make you live in tents again as in the days of old.

10 I spoke to the prophets;

I myself revealed many visions;

I spoke in parables through the prophets.”

11 Is there idolatry in Gilead?

Certainly its inhabitants will come to nothing!

Do they sacrifice bulls in Gilgal?

Surely their altars will be like stones heaped up on a plowed field!

Exegesis and Exposition

Hosea turns to a consideration of the merchants. He accuses them of dishonest business practices, including the use of untrustworthy scales (v.7). It was a travesty of the times. “In an economy that did not have standardized weights and measures, traders were often tempted to cheat by falsifying the balances and measurements, often by using improper weights and false bottoms and other ways to alter the sizes of vessels.”29 And yet these same businessmen boasted of their wealth and falsely disclaimed any wrongdoing (v. 8). Hosea’s use of imagery here presents a vivid picture of corruption. The term “businessmen” (NET) is used not only for traders and merchants but also is the word for Canaan. This term has special reference to the Phoenician coast. The Phoenicians were famous for their trading empire, which stretched across the water of the Mediterranean Sea and even beyond (cf. Zeph. 1:11).30

Hosea uses the term Canaan of the Phoenician traders as well as for the original inhabitants of the land (cf. Hos. 9:13). In a double entendre Canaan thus applies as well to the business class of Israelite society upon whose unscrupulous tactics the Northern Kingdom depended as a source of its wealth. As Stuart observes, “‘Canaan’ would appear to be a derogatory double entendre for Ephraim … Hosea declares Ephraim to be a greedy merchant, and at the same time no better than the Canaanites whose immoral culture deserved extinction (cf. Gen 15:16).”31 Hosea implies further that because not only Israel’s merchants but all Israel had become as corrupt as the people whom the earlier Hebrews displaced, contemporary Canaan (i.e., Ephraim) should expect a similar fate.

Hosea may well be employing a play on sounds here in his choice of the word for wealth (áo‚n). For he goes on to represent Ephraim as denying any offense/iniquity (ào‚n) in its dealings. Both the Lord and His prophet have applied the latter term previously to Ephraim’s sinful condition (4:8; 5:5; 7:1; 8:13; 9:7, 9). There may be a touch of satire here as well. Ephraim boasts of its wealth (áo‚n) and denies any iniquity (ào‚n), yet it has accumulated its riches through cheating and such business practices as dishonest scales. Thus áo‚n is actually ào‚n.

There is also the possibility here of a deliberate play on the Hebrew letters. For áwn also forms a general word for iniquity of all kinds (áa„wen) this term has already been employed in Hosea 6:8 with regard to the wickedness of Gilead and in contexts utilizing a disparaging name for Bethel: Beth Aven (4:15; 5:8; 10:5, 8). Accordingly, there may be an innuendo here that Israel’s wealth (áo‚n), which was gained through dishonesty and false weights is nothing more than accrued evil (áa„wen).32

At this point Hosea cites the Lord’s declaration that He is still the same Lord who redeemed His people out of Egypt and led them into the wilderness (v. 9). He will again bring Israel into a “wilderness” where they will once more “live in tents.” It is a statement of Yahweh’s soon coming judgment when the people will go into exile and may well again become tent dwellers (cf. Hos. 9:6-7). God goes on to remind the people that He had often spoken through His prophets to whom He revealed Himself in words and visions, and through whom He spoke in parables to Israel (v. 10). This doubtless underscores the fact of Hosea’s abundant use of figurative language throughout his prophecy. As Garrett remarks, “Ancient oracles often were enigmatic or esoteric, and ‘parables’ here almost implies ‘riddles.’ Yahweh’s point is that he has been warning the people, albeit sometimes in a puzzling form, but they are too stubborn and too obtuse to receive the warnings.”33

Verse 11 with its use of question statement format phrased in third person address could be understood as the Lord’s continuing speech (e.g., Keil) or the words of His prophet (e.g., Hubbard). On the whole it is perhaps best to consider that these words are a continuance of the divine speech giving examples of previous prophetic utterances derived ultimately from the Lord.34

The Lord’s questions are rhetorical in nature. The first implies that there is wickedness and idolatry in Gilead, a fact that has been established earlier (6:8). The NET (see text note) is justified in rendering the Hebrew noun áa„wen as idolatry in lieu of the parallel with the statement of the paganistic rites carried on at Gilgal. Moreover, this noun that has already been used to designate the syncretistic worship rituals in Bethel that earned for the city the name Beth Aven. As Garrett observes, “The Israelites, once again, have all the bad qualities of Jacob (the áa„wen of ‘Beth Aven,’ the footprints of blood at Gilead) but none of the grace (the vision at Bethel, the meeting of the angel at Peniel). In that condition they are ‘nothing.’”35

Likewise the answer to the second rhetorical question is also an implied “yes,” for Gilgal has already been condemned for its syncretistic pagan rituals (4:15) and for its general prevailing wickedness (9:15). Gilead and Gilgal also “represent the two facets of Israel’s guilt: Gilead represents her social wrongs and Gilgal her idolatry.”36 Both are therefore slated for judgment. Gilead will be reduced to nothingness; Gilgal will have its altars so demolished that they become like heaps of stones on the plowed fields. The imagery is that of a farmer plowing the field. As he does so, he casts aside the many rocks that dot the landscape of the area and throws them into the furrows of the field, from where they will be carried off to its edges. Andersen and Freedman may be correct in suggesting that there is a deliberate pun in the occurrence of the names Gilead and Gilgal together with the word for heaps of stones (gallîm).37 Whether or not this is a designed pun, the assonance in the grouping of Gilead, Gilgal, and gallîm is striking and would doubtless be caught by the listening ears of Hosea’s hearers.

Additional Notes

12:7 BDB (488-489) links the term Canaan with a concept of merchant to the Phoenicians’ long-standing reputation as traders in the Mediterranean and Near Eastern worlds.

12:8 Whether or not the Hebrew noun for wealth (áo‚n) is viewed as a parody on áa„wen,

the accumulated wealth of the people and the nation is ill-gotten (ào‚n).

4. Prophetic Reaction: God’s Dealing with Deceitful Israel (12:12-14[HB 12:13-15])

Translation

12:12 Jacob fled to the country of Aram,

then Israel worked to acquire a wife;

he tended sheep to pay for her.

13 The Lord brought Israel out of Egypt by a prophet,

and due to a prophet Israel was preserved alive.

14 But Ephraim bitterly provoked him to anger;

so he will hold him accountable for the blood he has shed,

his Lord will repay him for the contempt he has shown.

Exegesis and Exposition

Hosea applies the Lord’s words concerning His redemption of His people out of Egypt and continued revelation of Himself through His prophets to two cases from Israel’s historic past (vv. 12-13). Jacob worked many years laboring hard to acquire his favored wife Rachel by tending sheep (Gen. 29:14-30:43). Jacob and his descendants one day found themselves in Egypt. After several centuries passed, the latter part of which was marked by hard labor for the Hebrews, Yahweh, the Good Shepherd, led His people out of Egypt by His under-shepherd Moses (Exod. 12:1-36; Deut. 26:5-8). Jacob worked many years for his wife in exchange for hard labor as a shepherd for his oppressive father-in-law. Yahweh obtained His “bride” (cf. the imagery of Jer. 2:1-3; Hos. 2:14-15) by redeeming her from an oppressive Pharaoh and his people..

God’s people, however, have not proven to be grateful for God’s leading whether directly or through His prophets (v. 14). In a far greater way than the earlier Hebrews who complained and quarreled with Moses (e.g., Exod. 17:1-3), and even questioned his leadership (e.g., Exod. 32:1; Num. 12:1-2), post-Solomonic Israel rejected the Lord. The result has been not only the religious syncretism and the debauchery that accompanied the observance of Israel’s pagan rites, but also a general moral collapse of the nation. Immorality, dishonesty, and greed were now woven through the fabric of Israelite society. Indeed, it was a reprobate and bloody people among whom God’s contemporary earthly representative, the prophet Hosea, ministered.

Israel had come to the point of no return. Hopelessly apostate and thoroughly wicked as a nation, it was now time that the Lord must judge His people. Israel demonstrated its contempt by rejecting Him and His standards, and by choosing to create its own religiosity and charting its own course of life. Therefore, the rewards of such decisions and such conduct would soon earn their proper reward (cf. Prov. 22:8; 26:27; 28:10; Eccles. 10:8; Gal. 6:7). It may be as Craigie suggests: “The final word of judgment is a word spoken in grief. Though beyond the coming disaster words of grace would be heard once again, the judgmental word would soon be experienced in Israel in all its terrible reality.”38

Additional Notes

12:12-14 Much as he had begun the section (vv. 3-4) in 12:12-14 Hosea comes back to the mention of Jacob’s life and actions. Not only does the consideration of Jacob bookend the entire unit, but as Andersen and Freedman demonstrate, there is a definite correspondence between verses 2 and 14 not only in structure and vocabulary “in the fact that the former is followed by the first installment of the Jacob material (vv. 4-5[NET, 3-4]), while the latter follows the second installment (vv. 13-14[NET, 12-13]).”39

12:14 It is significant that Hosea chooses the Hebrew noun for master here rather than the divine name Yahweh. Israel was about to learn in a hard way that the Lord was its real master, not Baal (a name that also can carry with it the idea of master or husband).


1 Translations that take a positive approach in addition to the NET include the KJV, NKJV, NLT, and NRSV. Those that favor a negative understanding include the NASB, NIV, and REB.

2 If a possible play on Hosea 11:9 where Yahweh applies the terms áe„land qa„do‚sŒ (God, Holy One) to Himself is given full weight, this would tend to favor the identification of qe†do‚m in Hosea 11:12 as the “Holy One” (i.e., Yahweh).

3 For the juxtaposition of coordinate clauses implying continuity of setting or contemporary circumstances, see Waltke and O’Connor, Hebrew Syntax, 651.

4 In a similar vein but with differing emphases, note the remarks of A. Cohen, Twelve Prophets, 45.

5 The Hebrew phrase all day is an idiom for continual or continuous activity.

6 Stuart, Hosea-Jonah, 190.

7 Andersen and Freedman, Hosea, 605.

8 Keil, Minor Prophets, 1:144-145.

9 Wolff, Hosea, 205.

10 See further, Andersen and Freedman, Hosea, 602-603. A relation to Akkadian rada„du(“pursue,” “drive away”) is a less likely possibility. See further, Erica Reiner and Martha T. Roth, CAD “R,” Vol. 14 (Chicago: Oriental Institute, 1999), 58-59.

11 If one allows full weight to a possible play on Hosea 11:9 where Yahweh applies the terms áe„land qa„do‚sŒ to Himself, this would tend to favor the identification of qe†do‚sŒîm as referring to the “Holy One” (i.e., Yahweh).

12 Andersen and Freedman (Hosea, 603) suggests that El is a collective term meaning “gods.”

13 Achtemeier, Minor Prophets, 1:97.

14 Andersen and Freedman, Hosea, 605. See further, D. J. McCarthy, “Hosea xii:2: Covenant By Oil,” VT 14 (1964):215-221; Wolff, Hosea, 211 and Jean-Georges Heintz, “Osée xii 2b á la lumière d’un vase d’albâtre de l’époque de Salmanaser III (Djézirêh) et le rituel d’alliance Assyrien. Une hypothèse de lecture,” VT 51 (2001): 466-480.

15 Hubbard, Hosea, 202; cf. Keil, Minor Prophets, 1:146; Laetsch, Minor Prophets, 96.

16 Patterson, “The Trickster,” JETS 42 (1999): 390.

17 Garrett, Hosea, Joel, 237.

18 Patterson, “The Trickster,” 392.

19 Stuart, Hosea-Jonah, 192.

20 See the Additional Notes on 2:19-20; 6:4, 6.

21 Laetsch, Minor Prophets, 97.

22 A second homographic root àqb is known in Northwest Semitic, which conveys the meaning “watch/protect.” “For example, it is attested in names dating to the patriarchal era at Tell Mari (e.g. ya-ah£-qu-b-el, “may God protect”) so that … this root would form a more logical basis for Isaac’s naming of his son.” Patterson, “Trickster,” 391. See further Kenneth Kitchen, The Bible in Its World (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1977), 68; H. B. Huffmon, Amorite Personal Names in the Mari Tablets (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1965), 203-204.

23 Whether the significance of the ancient name Israel bears a relation to the verb sÃa„ra„h (“struggle”) or to sÃa„ra„r is uncertain and debated. Both, however, appear to be denominative verbs from the noun sÃar (“prince/ruler”). See further, Patterson, “Trickster,” 391-392.

24 McComiskey, “Hosea,” 201.

25 See for example, Stuart, Hosea-Jonah, 187; see also the discussion in Andersen and Freedman, Hosea, 614-615.

26 Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., “Inner Biblical Exegesis as a Model for Bridging the ‘Then’ and ‘Now’ Gap: HOS 12:1-6,” JETS 28 (1985): 41-42.

27 For a discussion of the possibilities of the transformation of Hosea’s Northern Kingdom much as Jacob became Israel, see Bart J. Kort, “Jacob, comme prototype d’Israel in Osée,” BTFT 63 (2003): 156-170.

28 See the additional note on Hosea 2:15.

29 Walton, Matthews & Chavalas, Bible Background Commentary, 759.

30 See further Donald Harden, The Phoenicians (New York: Praeger, 1963), 157-171; D. R. AP-Thomas, “The Phoenicians,” in Peoples of Old Testament Times, ed., D. J. Wiseman (Oxford: Clarendon, 1973), 275-281; William A. Ward, “Phoenicians,” in Peoples of the Old Testament World, eds., Alfred J. Hoerth, Gerald L. Mattingly & Edwin M. Yamauchi (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994), 183-206.

31 Stuart, Hosea-Jonah, 192.

32 See further Eugene E. Carpenter and Michael A. Grisanti, “áa„wen,” NIDOTTE, 1:309-315.

33 Garrett, Hosea, Joel, 243. McComiskey (“Hosea,” 206) suggests that Hosea’s earlier use of Canaan to describe the business and ethical tactics of the merchants and people of the Northern Kingdom is “itself one of the similitudes of which Hosea speaks here.”

34 See further, Sweeney, Twelve Prophets, 1:125.

35 Garrett, Hosea, Joel, 244; see also the added note to Hosea 12:8.

36 McComiskey, “Hosea,” 210.

37 Andersen and Freedman, Hosea, 620.

38 Craigie, Twelve Prophets, 1:78.

39 Andersen and Freedman, Hosea, 623.