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4: Concluding Considerations RE Unfaithful Israel (Hosea 13:1-16)

5. Her Deceitful Pride (13:1-16 [HB 14:1])

Translation

13:1 When Ephraim spoke, there was terror;

he was exalted in Israel,

but he became guilty by worshiping Baal and died.

2 Even now they persist in sin!

They make metal images for themselves,

idols that they skillfully fashion from their own silver;

all of them are nothing but the work of craftsmen!

There is a saying about them:

“Those who sacrifice to the calf idol are calf kissers!”

3 Therefore they will disappear like the morning mist,

like early morning dew that evaporates,

like chaff that is blown away from a threshing floor,

like smoke that disappears through an open window.

4 But I am the Lord your God,

who brought you out of Egypt.

Therefore, you must not acknowledge any God but me;

except me there is no Savior.

5 I cared for you in the wilderness,

in the dry desert where no water was.

6 When they were fed, they became satisfied;

when they were satisfied, they became proud;

as a result, they forgot me!

7 So I will pounce on them like a lion;

like a leopard I will lurk by the path.

8 I will attack them like a bear robbed of her cubs –

I will rip open their chests.

I will devour them there like a lion –

like a wild animal would tear them apart.

9 I will destroy you, O Israel!

Who is there to help you?

10 Where then is your king,

that he may save you in all your cities?

Where are your rulers for whom you asked, saying,

“Give me a king and princes”?

11 I granted you a king in my anger,

and I will take him away in my wrath!

12 The punishment of Ephraim has been decreed;

his punishment is being stored up for the future.

13 The labor pains of a woman will overtake him,

but the baby will lack wisdom;

when the time arrives,

he will not come out of the womb!

14 Will I deliver them from the power of Sheol? No, I will not!

Will I redeem them from death? No, I will not!

O Death, bring on your plagues!

O Sheol, bring on your destruction!

My eyes will not show any compassion!

15 Even though he flourishes like a reed plant,

a scorching east wind will come,

a wind from the Lord rising up from the desert.

As a result, his spring will dry up;

his well will become dry.

That wind will spoil all his delightful foods

in the containers in his storehouse.

13:16 (14:1) Samaria will be held guilty,

because she rebelled against her God.

They will fall by the sword,

their infants will be dashed to the ground –

their pregnant women will be ripped open.

Exegesis and Exposition

The subject matter in Chapter 13 in large measure contains material that was by now familiar to Hosea’s hearers. Nevertheless, it is presented forcefully and with some unique features in order to reemphasize the charges against God’s people. Thus Israel has been ungrateful to the Lord and gone after gods of its own choosing (vv. 1-2). God’s people have forgotten who it was that redeemed them out of Egypt and cared for them along the way to the Promised Land. In their stubborn and foolish pride, and self-satisfaction they fail to acknowledge Him and all He has done for them (vv. 4-6). Likewise, Israel has failed to recognize Yahweh as its ultimate king (vv. 9-11).

The messages are presented as coming directly from the Lord (vv. 4-14) as well as His prophet (vv. 1-3, 15-16). Overall the force of the chapter can be perceived as a coordinated judgment oracle, with each unit being closed by vivid imagery (vv. 3, 7-8, 15-16). Thus Israel’s judgment for idolatry (vv. 1-3) is presented in a series of graphic similes (v. 3). The judgment of Israel’s infidelity toward their divine Redeemer (vv. 4-6) is portrayed in a group of violent similes (vv. 7-8). A final pronouncement of judgment because of Israel’s rejection of the Lord in order to establish its own type of monarchical government with its own civic and political policies (vv. 9-14) is concluded with a simile presented in the form of a pseudo-sorites (vv. 15-16).

The opening message builds upon the previous mention of Jacob and Ephraim, and Ephraim’s coming judgment (Hos. 12:12-14). The Lord’s prophet reminds Ephraim that it always held a special place in Israel’s history. Not only did Ephraim receive Jacob’s patriarchal blessing instead of his older brother Manasseh (Gen. 48:12-20), but Jacob’s prophetic blessing (cf. that of Moses, Deut. 33:17) became realized in Ephraim’s leading role among the other tribes (e.g., Judg. 7:24-8:1). This became especially pronounced when the Ephraimite Jeroboam was crowned as Israel’s first king at the time of the division of the united kingdom. Ephraim often came to serve as metonymy for all of God’s people (e.g., Hos. 11:3) and especially for the Northern Kingdom (e.g., Hos. 8:11). The emphasis in the present context is upon that role of Ephraim, which as the particular representative of the northern ten tribes enjoyed a special prominence. Therefore, Ephraim also had a distinct responsibility.

Unfortunately, Ephraim had failed to live up to its calling. It had become caught up in the worship of Baal. Not only that, but Jeroboam was instrumental in the introduction of the state religion of the calves at Dan and Bethel. Not content with these, he became guilty of worshiping false gods and the idolatry that accompanied it (cf. 1 Kings 14:9-11). It was not long, therefore, that Baal became the leading pagan divinity in the Northern Kingdom, a condition that brought about the eventual demise of Israel (cf. 2 Kings 17:16-17). Thus in saying that Ephraim “died,” Hosea emphasizes the present spiritual condition that would soon lead to the collapse and “death” of the nation.

Hosea goes on to point out the prevailing sins in Ephraim that would bring about its demise (v. 2). As Hubbard observes, “What Jeroboam I had begun and Jeroboam II sponsored, the people of Samaria continued with unbridled enthusiasm (v. 2) in Hosea’s time.”1 In a touch of satire Hosea denounces the carefully crafted silver idols as “nothing but the work of craftsman!” The implication is clear. Worshiping these manmade idols is not only sheer folly but virtually the worship of one’s own self via the production of his hands. Even worse, it is sin and a clear violation of the Decalogue (Exod. 20:3-4).

The latter part of verse 2 is extremely difficult. Particularly troublesome is the reading and understanding of the Hebrew zo„be†h£e‚ áa„da„m.2 Garrett says of the text, “The relevant portion of the Hebrew text is ungrammatical, and some emending is necessary.”3 Some authorities view the passage as pointing to the picture of human sacrifice (e.g., LXX, Vulgate, NIV, REB). Others take the passage to mean that those who are making sacrifices to the calf idols can be labeled as “calf kissers” (NET; cf. ESV). In harmony with this position is the older proposal of the Hebrew scholar Kimchi (A.D. 1160-1235) to take the phrase “sacrificers of men” as a subjective genitive, hence to be understood as “the men who sacrifice kiss calves” (cf. NET, HCSB, NASB, KJV, NKJV).4 On the whole, this appears to be most faithful to the MT. As Cohen observes, it makes the saying one of bitter satire: “If so interpreted, the words express bitter scorn; here are men who bring sacrifices, but instead of offering them to God, they bring them to calves as an act of homage.”5 In any case, it is evident that the folly and sinfulness of idolatry in all its forms has aroused the justifiable displeasure and judicial wrath of God.

Therefore, Hosea goes on to prophesy that these unholy practices will soon completely vanish (v. 3). In a quartet of picturesque similes he describes their coming desolation and disappearance through the agency of His righteous judgment. Stuart expresses it well: “The four examples of disappearance—mist, dew, chaff, smoke—combine to emphasize how utterly Israel’s destruction will be accomplished by her avenging God… . When mist, dew, chaff, and smoke vanish, the result is nothingness. Israel will similarly disappear and become desolate (cf. Lev 26:31-35; Deut 28, 29).”6

As the second movement (vv. 4-8) begins Hosea records the words of the Lord. Yahweh returns to the subject of His redemption of His people from Egypt at the time of the exodus (vv. 4-6). The exodus motif constitutes one of the leading themes of the book of Hosea. It appears not only as a historical fact of God’s activity (e.g., 11:1; 12:13) but in connection with Israel’s coming judgment (e.g., 8:13; 9:3, 6; 11:5; 12:9). As well it appears in contexts dealing with the hope that one day in the future God will again call for His people and return them to the Promised Land (e.g., 2:15; 11:11).

In the present passage in Hosea the phraseology of the motif is reminiscent of the Lord’s words at Sinai when He installed the Decalogue “I, the LORD, am your God, who brought you from the land of Egypt, from the house of slavery” (Exod. 20:2; cf. Deut. 5:6-7). The force of the statement is a reminder that Israel was God’s possession (cf. Exod. 19:4-6) by right of redemption. Not only does the first commandment forbid the worship of other gods, but Israel must not even acknowledge any other so-called god. For none of these, or anything else including human undertakings, could provide deliverance for Israel. Indeed, there simply is no other Savior (Isa. 43:11).

Not only was Israel’s fascination with foreign gods (e.g., Baal; cf. 11:7) and idolatry a sinful violation of the law and God’s person, but these contradicted the facts of Israel’s own history. It was their deliverer, Yahweh, who alone could and did care for them during their wilderness wanderings (cf. Exod. 15:22-17:7; 40:36-38; Num. 11:4-34; 20:1-13; Deut. 2:7; Pss. 105:39-41; 107:4-6). Yet despite God’s love and provision for them, God’s people became so satisfied that they forgot who their provider really was (Ps. 106:13-39). Israel’s contentment and preoccupation with itself, which began already in the wilderness, carried on and grew progressively worse. By Hosea’s day God’s people no longer genuinely acknowledged God (cf. Hos. 4:1, 6; 5:4; 6:3; 8:2-3; 11:3; 13:4; with Isa. 29:13). As Hubbard remarks, “Self-reliance—including reliance on their self-adopted and self-sustained religion (cf. 2:13)—lay at the heart of the crime.”7

It had happened even as the Lord warned (cf. Deut. 8:10-18; 31:20). Therefore, in accordance with the warnings in the covenant God was about to punish His people (vv. 7-8; cf. Deut. 4:23-26; 8:19-20; 30:17-18). Once again the Lord’s judgment is presented in a series of violent similes. God has used the lion imagery before in depicting the violence of Israel’s coming judgment (Hos. 5:14-15). He now adds the ferocity of two more animals: a lurking leopard and a bear robbed of its cubs (cf. Prov. 17:12). Habakkuk uses the figure of the leopard by way of comparison with the dreaded Assyrian warhorses, which were “faster than leopards” (Hab. 1:8). The Assyrian military capabilities were profound. “Possessed of swift warhorses made skillful by discipline and the experience of battle, their cavalry could cover vast distances quickly in their insatiable thirst for conquest and booty… . Not alone for spoil but seemingly for the sheer sport of it they campaigned fiercely and inflicted violence on their enemies.”8

Likewise the imagery of a bear robbed of its cubs attests to the strength and passionate aggressiveness of the coming judgment. Garrett suggests a relation of this figure with the loss of God’s people: “Yahweh has been robbed of its children (the common people of Israel) by his wife (the woman Israel, that is, the royal and priestly leadership). She has made them to be children of Baal.”9 If as Garrett suggests with regard to the imagery of the leopard (see added note) there is wordplay on the phrase “I will lurk” and the name Assyria the threat takes on an added dimension. Indeed, all three images may well underscore the violence of the coming attack by the Assyrians. The viciousness of the Assyrian military is well documented in the Assyrian Annals. For example, in his eighth campaign against Elam Sennacherib boasts that he “raged like a lion” and with victory he tore apart the enemy nobility.

I cut their throats like lambs… . Like the many waters of a storm, I made (the contents of) their gullets and entrails run down upon the earth. My prancing steeds harnessed for my riding, plunged into the streams of their blood as (into) a river. The wheels of my war chariot … were bespattered with blood and filth. With the bodies of their warriors I filled the plain like grass.10

In verses 9-11 the Lord emphasizes the certainty of Israel’s coming destruction. In a strong affirmation followed by a rhetorical question the Lord declares solemnly, “I will destroy you, O Israel! Who is there to help you?” (v. 9). Israel will surely be helpless through it all. In a further rhetorical question the Lord implies that they could not count on their king (v. 10). Indeed, toward the end of the Northern Kingdom there was a series of competing local kings and even their last king Hoshea proved to be inefficient and unfit for the task. The Lord further points out the folly of His people’s clamor for a king so as to be like the surrounding nations (cf. 1 Sam. 8:4, 19-20). As Hubbard observes, “God had acceded to their begging for a king (1 Sa. 8:22). The monarchy as a whole was established in ambiguous circumstances which help to account for Yahweh’s anger; the people had brushed aside all its potential pitfalls, especially the competition it offered to God’s own kingship (1 Sa. 8:7).”11 Although the Lord acquiesced to His people’s request, their choice constituted a rejection of the theocracy and began the long road, which had brought them to the present turmoil. To be sure, God had made provision for kingship for His people, but such a one was to meet His high standards (e.g., Num. 24:17; Deut. 17:14-20). Israel now refused to acknowledge God, and turned to Baal and human leaders whether national or foreign.

Moreover, as Stuart observes, “The whole history of the kingship had been a manifestation of God’s anger/fury. Israel’s kings had been chosen without God’s consent (cf. 8:4) and the kingship itself had now been abolished by God as a portent of the coming national disaster (cf. Deut 28:36).”12 Indeed, as Samuel had warned long ago, kingship as conceived and directed by the people had proven to be a disastrous failure (cf. 1 Sam. 8:10-17)—one that they themselves would come to regret: “If you continue to do evil, both you and your king will be swept away” (1 Sam. 12:25). The Lord’s words bear an ominous echo of Samuel’s warning. Israel’s stood on the threshold of national disaster and no king or leader could save them. God Himself was about to bring down the curtain on the Northern Kingdom (v. 11).

The Lord now reaffirms His intention to punish His people (v. 12-14). He points out that Israel’s sin has been stored up for the future (v. 12). That future is now an imminent one. Already in the Song of Moses, part of God’s covenant with His people, Moses lamented the folly of the people of his day. It was a condition that failed to discern where their foolishness was leading them. They were already turning away from the Lord their deliverer and helper in order to pursue their own sinful ways (Deut. 32:28-30). Accordingly, even then their sin had been “stored up” and “sealed up in my storehouses” waiting the day of impending judgment (cf. Deut. 28:34-35). Because Israel’s sin has long been accumulating, in accordance with the provisions of the covenant its punishment is certain—it “has been decreed” (Hos. 13:12; NET). The rendering of the NET here is ad sensum.

The familiar imagery of the pains of a woman in labor to depict judgment now follows (v. 13; cf. Isa. 13:6-9; Jer. 4:31; 13:20-21; 49:23-25; Mic. 4:9-10; 1 Thess. 5:2-3). The Lord, however, uses it to depict a strange anomaly in the birth process. Israel is likened both to a mother in labor and to a child who stubbornly refuses to go through with delivery but stays in the womb. Although the change of metaphor from a birthing mother to the child about to be born is abrupt and unusual, such complex metaphors are not without precedent in Hosea.13 Oestreich sees in the metaphor of the unwilling baby

“a strange and absurd idea.” He goes on to give several reasons why such imagery “can be called absurd. First, naturally the unborn son has no way of deciding whether he will be born or not… . Second, the son that does not want to be born denies his own existence” and … “the birth of a son is normally an occasion of great joy.”14 Thus the image of the unwise son expresses the foolishness of Israel, which necessitates Israel’s punishment.

Indeed, Israel is foolish. It has chosen to ignore the fact that its accumulated and stored-up sins would surely one day come in for judgment. Although in this very late hour there yet might be hope for divine forgiveness based upon genuine repentance and return to the Lord, God’s people nevertheless go on in their own stubborn ways. They are like the unwise son who delayed or refused to submit to the birthing process.15 God’s people faced imminent death. They endangered not only themselves individually but the nation itself.

Verse 14 is capable of being understood either positively (cf. Hos. 11:8-9) as a message of hope (cf. LXX, AB, HCSB, KJV, NKJV, NASB, NIV) or negatively (cf. 2:10) in terms of certain judgment (NET, NLT). Those translations that render the first two lines as rhetorical questions imply a negative answer and the next two lines as open questions, which are climaxed by a statement of God’s withholding of His compassion may also imply a negative position (cf. ESV, NRSV, NJB, REB).16 Because the surrounding verses deal with the certainty of imminent judgment and disaster for Israel, the rendering of the NET and others who assume the negative position appears to be both justified and the more likely interpretation.

It should be pointed out that Paul applies the text in a positive light. Doubtless building upon the LXX and the direction of the Holy Spirit, Paul declares that with the resurrection of Christ there is victory over death for the believers (1 Cor. 15:54-58). “In Christ’s resurrection, the ransom and redemption that God intended for Israel (Ho. 13:14a) have been fulfilled. The backs of Sheol and death have been broken.”17 Nevertheless two things must be kept in mind. (1) The contexts of 1 Corinthians 15 and Hosea 13 are different. (2) New Testament meanings are not to be superimposed upon Old Testament texts. Certainly Hosea 13:14 can now be read in accordance with the further light of the sure hope of the resurrection given in 1 Corinthians 15:54-58, but the primary significance and meaning of both texts in their contexts must be retained. One may say, however, that Hosea 13:14 is now “fuller” but not claim that it is fulfilled (filled up and exhausted) by Paul’s words.18

Hosea responds to the Lord’s words concerning Ephraim’s judgment. He does so by once again employing a pseudo-sorites. Likening Ephraim to a flourishing reed plant, He warns the people that a scorching east wind (Hamsin or Sirocco) was about to come, which would dry up the plant’s life-giving water (v. 15). The imagery of Ephraim being compared to a fruit plant is in keeping with Jacob’s blessing of Ephraim’s father Joseph: “Joseph is a fruitful bough near a spring whose branches climb over the wall” (Gen. 49:22). Yet even though son Ephraim should flourish for a little while, Assyrians from the east were already on the move.19 When that happens, all of Israel’s goods and treasures will be plundered and carried off.

Hosea declares that the reason for the coming destructive east wind (i.e., the Assyrian army) is that it is now time for Israel to pay—to suffer the results of its guilt (v. 16). Although the name Samaria probably serves as a synecdoche for all Israel (cf. Hos. 8:5-6; 10:5), Samaria was nonetheless especially culpable. For the spiritual slide of the Northern Kingdom was fostered by decisions made in its capital city. Therefore, the demise of Samaria is particularly singled out (cf. 7:1; 10:7). Israel’s capital will pay a heavy price for its role in Israel’s demise. The description of the death of its citizens is one of unspeakable horrors. It is told once more in Hosea’s threefold style: people slain by the sword (cf. Hos. 7:16; 11:6), infants dashed mercilessly to the ground (cf. Isa. 13:16; Nah. 3:10), and pregnant women slashed open (cf. Hos. 10:14; Amos 1:13). As Garrett remarks, “What Yahweh had declared figuratively, the death of mother and child, Hosea now speaks of literally… . The metaphor of Lady Israel and her three children, Jezreel, Lo-Ruhamah, and Lo-Ammi, has reached its denouement in a slaughter that is anything but literary and symbolic.”20

Additional Notes

13:1-2 Hubbard preserves well the degrading effects of Jeroboam’s introduction of the calf worship to the further sins of Israel associated with false deities, especially Baal: “Hosea’s wrath against the calves (cf. 8:5-6; 10:5, 7; 13:2) is to be explained in part by the fact that they always threatened to misrepresent God and lead the people into paganism even when the name of Baal was not specifically invoked.”21

13:2 The NET properly renders the Hebrew noun masse„ka„h in terms of a metal image. The following “idols” (àa†s£abbîm) is a more general term (cf. Hos. 14:8 [HB 14:9]). It is interesting to note that Hosea uses it primarily in connection with idols made of silver and gold together with the mention of the “calf idol” (NET).

13:2 The NLT similarly understands the saying as relating to calf kissing, but renders the key words of the text quite freely, “Sacrifice to these,” they cry, “and kiss the calf idols!”

13:3 Although the image of smoke disappearing from a room when a window is open is understandable as it stands, “window” may perhaps be metonymy for chimney (cf. NLT).

13:5 The NET follows the lead of the LXX, Syriac, and most English versions in reading the Hebrew “I knew you” as a verb that allows the meaning “I fed/pastured you.” So understood, the verbal phrase refers to the Lord’s shepherding care of His people during the wilderness and accords well with the following possible image of a well-fed sheep (v. 6). Certainly the image of God as a shepherd is a prominent theme in the Old Testament and would not be out of place here. This alternate reading indicates a simple interchange between the letters “d” and “r,” which were often a source of textual confusion.22 Nevertheless, the MT is defensible either as a reminder of Israel’s status as the bride of Yahweh (cf. Hos. 2:3-11; Jer. 2:2-3) or as the Lord’s intimate knowledge of and attention to His people during their wilderness trek.23 As such it forms another link with the important theme of knowledge in Hosea. Words such as know, knowledge, and acknowledge occur repeatedly throughout the book (e.g., 2:8, 20; 4:16; 5:3-4; 6:3, 6; 8:2-4; 9:7; 11:3; 14:9).

13:5 The image of Israel’s plight in a waterless land recalls the historical incident of where Moses obtained water from the smitten rock (Num. 20:1-11). The Hebrew hapax legomenon (twbalt) has been traditionally linked with a Semitic cognate implying drought (cf. ESV, HCSB). The NET (see text note) renders ad sensum depicting the fact that there was no water readily available.

13:7 Garrett suggests a possible wordplay in the verbal phrase “I will lurk” (áa„sŒu‚r) and the name of Assyria áasŒsŒu‚r.24 Not only does the consonantal text bear a resemblance (r?a) but when pronounced, they could sound very much alike. So viewed, Assyria could be either the subject of its clause, “Assyria will be like a leopard on the path” or “[I will be] like a leopard on the way to Assyria.” In any case, an underlying reference to Assyria as the Lord’s agent of judgment may well be intended in the wordplay. Assyria was, of course, the conqueror of the Northern Kingdom in 722/21 B.C.

13:9 This verse bristles with difficulties, chief of which is the understanding of the MT (see NET text note). Particularly troublesome is the force of the third person verb sŒih£ete†ka„, “He destroyed you” or as a prophetic perfect, “He will destroy you.” Some translations follow the lead of the BHS suggested reading of a first singular verb here, “I will destroy you” (NET, AB, HCSB, NRSV). Others view the construction in a passive sense, “you are destroyed” (NIV; cf. similarly, NLT). Yet the MT is not impossible if the subject is found in the preceding “wild animal” (v. 8), hence “it will destroy you, O Israel.”

13:9 The following kî-bî be†àeze†ka„ is also troublesome. It seems simplest to view the particle kî-bî in an adversative sense, “yet in me” and the following be†àeze†ka as standing in predicate position, “[is] your help.” In a similar fashion but with slightly different emphasis of the particle, note the reading of the ESV, “for you are against me, against your helper.”25

13:10 Most translations follow the lead of the LXX in rendering the Hebrew áe†hî as áayye„h (“where”; cf. also v. 14). Thus Andersen and Freedman remark, “The sense of the lines is combinatory: ‘Where are your king and judges who were to bring you victory in all your cities?’”26

13:11 The Hebrew verb áetten has been understood as a preterit (“I gave”; cf. NET, AB, ESV, NLT), a present tense (“I give/keep giving”; McComiskey), a present perfect (“I have been giving”; Laetsch), or future tense (“I will give”; Vulgate). Garrett follows the reading of the Vulgate and suggests that the sense of the Lord’s answer is ironic and means that, “God will indeed send them a king but not the king they expect. The king God will send is the ruler of Assyria, who comes as their conqueror.”27

13:12 The NET properly points out that the image is one of a scroll that has been sealed for safekeeping. Thus the record of Israel’s sins has been written down and is safely stored up waiting the Lord’s retrieval.28

13:13 Hezekiah applies the image of delayed childbirth in describing Judah’s impotence during the Assyrian siege of Jerusalem. Therefore, he asks Isaiah to intercede with God for Jerusalem’s deliverance (2 Kings 19:3-5).

13:14 Sheol, as here, can refer to the state of death or the grave (e.g., Gen. 37:35; Job 7:9; 14:13; Ps. 88:3). In other texts it refers to the abode of the wicked (e.g., Ps. 49:13; Isa. 14:11). That Sheol is not as commonly taught the common receptacle of all disembodied spirits or that there is a double compartment in Hades with a gulf standing between good and evil spirits, can be demonstrated by the many Old Testament texts, which assert that the Old Testament believer expected to go to be with God at death (e.g., Pss. 49:15 [16]; 73:23-26).29

13:15 The text and interpretation of this verse are admittedly difficult. The MT reads: “He flourishes [as a son of brothers].” Thus some English versions translate: “Although he may flourish among his brothers” (cf. KJV, ESV, NIV, NLT; McComiskey, Sweeney).30 Although the extant MT text may be defended as being in keeping with Jacob’s blessing, Hosea has earlier used the images of Israel’s fruitfulness (Hos. 10:1) and the east wind as symbolizing Assyria (12:1). A play on the consonants ápr may thus be envisioned: “Even though he [Ephraim; áephra„im] may flourish [yprá]”.31 The NET reflects a common tendency to translate ad sensum (cf. NRSV) in accordance with the constraints of the context and imagery, and the word brothers (áah£îm) as reeds (áah£u‚) thus taking the final –m of áah£îm with the verb in order to form the participle maprîá (“flourishes”) and translates: “Even though he flourishes like a reed plant.”32

13:16 Hosea’s description of Samaria’s invasion is reminiscent of Elisha’s prophecy of Hazael’s coming savage atrocities against God’s people (2 Kings 8:12).


1 Hubbard, Hosea, 215.

2 See the suggested pointings of the Hebrew consonant proposed emendations in BHS.

3 Garrett, Hosea, Joel, 249. See also the discussion of the Hebrew text in Andersen and Freedman, Hosea, 632.

4 See Keil, Minor Prophets, 1:154.

5 Cohen, Twelve Prophets, 49.

6 Stuart, Hosea-Jonah, 202, 203.

7 Hubbard, Hosea, 217.

8 Patterson, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, 137.

9 Garrett, Hosea, Joel, 259.

10 Luckenbill, ARA, 2:127. See further, the note on Hosea 10:14.

11 Hubbard, Hosea, 219.

12 Stuart, Hosea-Jonah, 206.

13 See the added note to Hosea 11:4. See further John L. McKenzie, “Divine Passion in Osee,” CBQ (1955): 296-297.

14 Oestreich, “Absurd Similes,” 121, 122.

15 The issue is not ultimately simply physical. Whether or not the baby is mispositioned in the womb, the point is what the image conveys—the urgency of the times.

16 Alternatively, one could view the rhetorical questions positively and the following two open questions as taunts (so Garrett, Hosea, Joel, 264-265). This understanding, however, is difficult to reconcile with the concluding line giving God’s statement that He would not show compassion. Thus Chisholm (Minor Prophets, 46) remarks, “The last line of verse 14 states that God would have no compassion upon His people. Not until chapter 14, however, does the transition to a message of salvation occur.” The commentaries are likewise divided as to the intent of Hosea 13:14, some favoring the positive position (e.g., Andersen and Freedman, Garrett, Keil, Laetsch, McComiskey, and Wood) and some the negative (e.g., Achtemeier, Chisholm, Cohen, Hubbard, and Stuart).

17 Hubbard, Hosea, 222-223.

18 Contra Laetsch, Minor Prophets, 106.

19 Francis Landy, (“In the Wilderness of Speech: Problems of Metaphor in Hosea,” in Biblical Interpretation [Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1995], 53) sees in the metaphor of the east wind and the wilderness “an obvious reversal: the spirit of YHWH that normally gives life brings death.”

20 Garrett, Hosea, Joel, 268.

21 Hubbard, Hosea, 214.

22 For details, see Ernst Würthwein, Text of the Old Testament, 106.

23 Thus Sweeney (Twelve Prophets, 1:131) remarks, “The verse expresses the tradition of YHWH’s marriage to the bride Israel in the wilderness (cf. Jer 2:2-3) in that YHWH the husband ‘knew’ Israel the bride.”

24 Garrett, Hosea, Joel, 259.

25 Note also McComiskey (“Hosea,” 219) who takes the verb passively and the preposition b with áezre†ka„ as a beth essentiae and translates, “that [you are] against me, your help.”

26 Andersen and Freedman, Hosea, 636.

27 Garrett, Hosea, Joel, 261. Garrett goes on to suggest that God also will “remove the sitting Israelite king from his throne.”

28 See further, Andersen and Freedman, Hosea, 638. Garrett (Hosea, Joel, 262, 263) takes a different approach by relating the passage to the later scroll vision of Zechariah 5:5-11. Although the suggested analogy is interesting, it is more likely that the Lord’s message is related to covenant stipulations and that “the loss of the kingship, the reduction of the land and the investing of Samaria are only the beginnings of the full punishments known from Lev 26, Deut 4 and Deut 28-32” (Stuart, Hosea-Jonah, 206). Equally unlikely is Garrett’s suggestion (263) of a reference to 2 Samuel 20:3 where women are sequestered “so that they might not have sexual relations with men.” Wood (“Hosea,” 7:206) suggests that, “The implication is that punishment of this kind was to precede the captivity to Assyria and that the captivity itself would climax it.”

29 See the incisive studies of A. Heidel, The Gilgamesh Epic and Old Testament Parallels (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1963), 173-223; W. G. T. Shedd. Dogmatic Theology, 3 vols (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, [n.d.] ), 2:591-640; J. Lightfoot, A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica, 4 vols. (Grand Rapids: Baker, reprint ed. 1979), 3:167-172.

30 In an interesting twist, Wood (“Hosea,” 7:222) understands brothers as neighbors, that is, Israel’s neighboring peoples.

31 See also Hosea 8:7-9 where Ephraim’s sowing to the wind and chasing after Assyria like a wild donkey (pereá) are portrayed.

32 See NET text note. See further Stuart, Hosea-Jonah, 207-208; Garrett, Hosea, Joel, 266; Cohen, Twelve Prophets, 51-52; Mays, Hosea, 179; Wolff, Hosea, 122.