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17 Ephraim[a] is bound to idols,
    let him alone!
18 [b]When their drinking is over,
    they give themselves to prostitution;(A)
    they love shame more than their honor.
19 A wind[c] has bound them up in its wings;(B)
    they shall be ashamed because of their altars.(C)

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  1. 4:17 Ephraim: the name of one of the sons of Joseph, son of Jacob (Gn 41:52), also used to designate one of the tribes living in the heartland of the Northern Kingdom. Hosea often uses the name Ephraim to refer to the whole Northern Kingdom of Israel. During the latter part of his ministry, after the Assyrians occupied Galilee, Ephraim was all that remained of Israel.
  2. 4:18 Cf. v. 11.
  3. 4:19 A wind: (Heb. ruah), a metaphor for Israel’s addiction to the Baal cult, which is nothing but wind, a “spirit (ruah) of prostitution” (v. 12).