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Announcement of Sin and Judgment

Hear this, you priests!
Pay attention, you Israelites![a]
Listen closely,[b] O king![c]
For judgment is about to overtake you.[d]
For you were like a trap[e] to Mizpah,[f]
like a net[g] spread out to catch Tabor.[h]
Those who revolt are knee-deep in slaughter,[i]
but I will discipline them all.[j]
I know Ephraim all too well;[k]
the evil of[l] Israel is not hidden from me.
For you have engaged in prostitution, O Ephraim;
Israel has defiled itself.[m]
Their wicked deeds do not allow them to return to their God;
for a spirit of idolatry[n] is in them,
and they do not acknowledge the Lord.
The arrogance of Israel testifies against it;
Israel and Ephraim will be overthrown[o] because[p] of their iniquity.
Even Judah will be brought down[q] with them.

The Futility of Sacrificial Ritual without Moral Obedience

Although they bring their flocks and herds[r]
to seek[s] the favor of the Lord,[t]
They will not find him—
he has withdrawn himself from them!
They have committed treason[u] against the Lord,
because they bore illegitimate children.
Soon[v] the new moon festival will devour them and their fields.

The Prophet’s Declaration of Judgment

Blow the ram’s horn in Gibeah!
Sound the trumpet in Ramah!
Sound the alarm in Beth Aven;[w]
tremble in fear,[x] O Benjamin!
Ephraim will be ruined in the day of judgment.[y]
What I am declaring[z] to the tribes of Israel will certainly take place![aa]

The Oppressors of the Helpless Will Be Oppressed

10 The princes of Judah are like those who move boundary markers.
I will pour out my rage on them like a torrential flood.[ab]
11 Ephraim will be oppressed,[ac] crushed[ad] under judgment,[ae]
because he was determined to pursue worthless idols.[af]

The Curse of the Incurable Wound

12 I will be like a moth to Ephraim,
like wood rot[ag] to the house of Judah.
13 When Ephraim saw[ah] his sickness
and Judah saw his wound,
then Ephraim turned[ai] to Assyria,
and begged[aj] its great king[ak] for help.
But he will not be able to heal you.
He cannot cure your wound![al]

The Lion Will Carry Israel Off Into Exile

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.[am]
Then they will seek me;[an]
in their distress they will earnestly seek me.


  1. Hosea 5:1 tn Heb “O house of Israel” (so NAB, NASB, NRSV); cf. NLT “all of Israel’s leaders.”
  2. Hosea 5:1 tn Heb “Use the ear”; cf. ASV “give ear.”
  3. Hosea 5:1 tn Heb “O house of the king” (so KJV); cf. NIV “O royal house.”
  4. Hosea 5:1 tn Heb “for the judgment is to you”; or “For this accusation is against you” (cf. NIV “This judgment is against you”).
  5. Hosea 5:1 sn The noun פַּח (pakh, “trap”) is used (1) literally of a bird-trap, often in similes and metaphors (Amos 3:5; Prov 7:23; Eccl 9:12), and (2) figuratively of (a) calamities and plots (Job 18:9; 22:10; Pss 91:3; 119:110; 124:7; 140:6; 141:9; 142:4; Prov 22:5; Isa 24:17-18; Jer 18:22; 48:43-44; Hos 9:8) and (b) a source of calamity (Josh 23:13; Pss 11:6; 69:23; Isa 8:14; Hos 5:1; BDB 809 s.v. פַּח).
  6. Hosea 5:1 tn Heb “you were a trap to Mizpah.”
  7. Hosea 5:1 sn The noun רֶשֶׁת (reshet, “net”) is used (1) literally of a net used to catch birds (Prov 1:17) and (2) figuratively to describe the wicked plotting to ensnare their victims (Prov 29:5; Pss 9:16; 10:9; 25:15; 31:5; 35:7; 57:7; 140:6; Job 18:8; BDB 440 s.v. רֶשֶׁת).
  8. Hosea 5:1 tn Heb “and a net spread out over Tabor.”
  9. Hosea 5:2 tc The MT reads וְשַׁחֲטָה שֵׂטִים הֶעְמִיקוּ (veshakhatah setim heʿmiqu), “and rebels have made deep the slaughter.” The BHS editors propose וְשַׁחַת הַשִּׁטִּים הֶעְמִיקוּ (veshakhat hashittim heʿmiqu), “they have made the pit of Shittim [place of idolatry] deep” (cf. NRSV, TEV, NLT; see BDB 1006 s.v. שַׁחֲטָה). This involves: (1) phonological confusion between the similar sounding consonants ת (tav) and ט (tet), (2) redivision of words to take ה (hey) as the article with הַשִּׁטִּים rather than as a feminine noun ending of וְשַׁחֲטָה, and (3) revocalization of הַשִּׁטִּים with the two dagesh forte’s. Retaining the reading of the MT is preferable Heb “and those who revolt have gone deep into slaughter” (similar KJV, NIV); cf. NASB “deep in depravity.”
  10. Hosea 5:2 tn Heb “but I am discipline to all of them”; cf. ASV “but I am a rebuker of them all.”
  11. Hosea 5:3 tn The phrase “all too well” does not appear in the Hebrew text but is supplied in the translation for clarity and stylistic reasons.
  12. Hosea 5:3 tn The phrase “the evil of” does not appear in the Hebrew text here but is implied by the metonymical (cause-effect) use of the term “Israel.” It is supplied in the translation for the sake of clarity. Cf. NCV “what they have done is not hidden from me.”
  13. Hosea 5:3 tn Or “Israel has become corrupt”; cf. NCV “has made itself unclean,” and TEV “are unfit to worship me.”
  14. Hosea 5:4 tn Heb “a spirit of harlotries”; cf. NIV “a spirit of prostitution,” and TEV “Idolatry has a powerful hold on them.” However, CEV takes this literally: “your constant craving for sex keeps you from knowing me.”
  15. Hosea 5:5 tn Heb “will stumble” (so NCV, NLT). The verb כָּשַׁל (kashal, “to stumble; to stagger; to totter”) is used figuratively to describe distress (Isa 59:10; Ps 107:12), the debilitating effects of misfortune and calamity (Isa 5:27), and toil in exile (Lam 5:13). It is often used figuratively to describe the overthrow of a people or nation through divine judgment (Isa 8:15; Jer 6:21; 50:32; Hos 4:5; 5:5; 14:2). The Niphal stem used here is also frequently used in reference to divine judgment: “be overthrown,” of nations and armies (Jer 6:15; 8:12; Dan 11:19, 33, 34, 41; BDB 505 s.v. כָּשַׁל 1.b). This figurative use of כָּשַׁל is often used in collocation with נָפַל (nafal, “to fall”; Isa 3:8; 31:3; 8:15; Jer 6:15; Dan 11:19).
  16. Hosea 5:5 tn Or “in” (so NAB, NIV, NRSV).
  17. Hosea 5:5 tn Heb “will stumble” (so NCV). The term כָּשַׁל (kashal) appeared in the preceding line (Niphal “be overthrown”) and now appears here (Qal “will stumble”). The repetition of כָּשַׁל emphasizes that a similar fate will befall Judah because it failed to learn its lesson from God’s judgment on Israel. The verb כָּשַׁל (“to stumble”) does not describe the moral stumbling of Judah but the effect of God’s judgment (Isa 8:15; Jer 6:21; 50:32; Hos 4:5; 5:5; 14:2) and the toil of exile (Lam 5:13).
  18. Hosea 5:6 sn The terms flocks and herds are used figuratively for animal sacrifices (metonymy of association). Hosea describes the futility of seeking God’s favor with mere ritual sacrifice without the prerequisite moral obedience (e.g., 1 Sam 15:24; Pss 50:6-8; 51:17-18; Isa 1:12; Mic 6:6-8).
  19. Hosea 5:6 tn Heb “they go out to seek the Lord”; cf. NCV “to worship the Lord,” NLT “to offer sacrifices to the Lord.”
  20. Hosea 5:6 tn Heb “the Lord”; the phrase “the favor of” does not appear in Hebrew here but is supplied for the sake of clarity. It is implied by the metonymical (cause-effect) reference to the Lord, the source of favor and forgiveness.
  21. Hosea 5:7 tn Heb “dealt treacherously against” (so KJV, NASB); cf. NRSV “dealt faithlessly,” NLT “betrayed the honor of.”
  22. Hosea 5:7 tn The particle עַתָּה (ʿattah) often refers to the imminent or the impending future: “very soon” (BDB 774 s.v. עַתָּה 1.b). In Hosea it normally introduces imminent judgment (Hos 2:12; 4:16; 5:7; 8:8, 13; 10:2).
  23. Hosea 5:8 sn See the note on the place name Beth Aven in 4:15.
  24. Hosea 5:8 tc The MT reads the anomalous אַחֲרֶיךָ בִּנְיָמִין (ʾakharekha binyamin, “behind you, O Benjamin”), a reading followed by many English versions. The LXX reads ἐξέστη (exestē) which might reflect an alternate textual tradition of הַחֲרִדוּ בִּנְיָמִין (hakharidu binyamin, “Tremble in fear, O Benjamin”); the verb form would be a Hiphil imperative second person masculine plural from חָרַד (kharad, “to tremble, be terrified”; BDB 353 s.v. חָרַד). For discussion of this textual problem, see D. Barthélemy, ed., Preliminary and Interim Report on the Hebrew Old Testament Text Project, 5:236.
  25. Hosea 5:9 tn Heb “day of rebuke” (so KJV, NASB); cf. NCV, NRSV, TEV, NLT “day of punishment.”
  26. Hosea 5:9 tn The verb הוֹדַעְתִּי (hodaʿti, Hiphil perfect first person common singular from יָדַע, yadaʿ; Qal: “to know,” Hiphil: “to make known, declare”) here functions as (1) an instantaneous perfect, representing an action being performed at the same instant that the speaker utters the statement (e.g., Gen 14:22; Deut 8:19; 26:3; 2 Sam 17:11; 19:30; Ps 143:6); or (2) an epistolary perfect, representing a situation in past time from the viewpoint of the recipient of the message but in present time from the viewpoint of the writer (e.g., 1 Kgs 15:19; 2 Chr 2:12). For functions of the perfect tense (suffix-conjugation), see IBHS 486-90 §30.5.1.
  27. Hosea 5:9 tn The substantival use of the Niphal participle נֶאֱמָנָה (neʾemanah, “that which is sure”) refers to an event that will occur in the future (BDB 52 s.v. אָמַן 2).
  28. Hosea 5:10 tn Heb “like water” (so KJV, NAB, NRSV); cf. NLT “like a waterfall.” The term מַיִם (mayim, “water”) often refers to literal floodwater (Gen 7:7, 10; 8:3, 7-9; Isa 54:9) and figuratively describes the Lord’s judgment that totally destroys the wicked (BDB 566 s.v. מַי 4.k).
  29. Hosea 5:11 tn The verb עָשַׁק (ʿashaq, “to oppress”) may refer to (1) oppressing the poor and defenseless (BDB 798 s.v. עָשַׁק 1), or more likely to (2) oppression of one nation by another as the judgment of God (Deut 28:29, 33; 1 Chr 16:21; Pss 105:14; 119:121, 122; Isa 52:4; Jer 50:33; Hos 5:11; BDB 798 s.v. 2). The Qal passive participles עָשׁוּק (ʿashuq, “oppressed”) and רְצוּץ (retsuts, “crushed”) might refer to a present situation (so KJV, RSV, NASB, NIV, NRSV); however, the context suggests that they refer to a future situation (so NLT). When a participle is used in reference to the future, it often denotes an imminent future situation and may be rendered, “about to” (e.g., Gen 6:17; 15:14; 20:3; 37:30; 41:25; 49:29; Exod 9:17-18; Deut 28:31; 1 Sam 3:11; 1 Kgs 2:2; 20:22; 2 Kgs 7:2). For functions of the participle, see IBHS 627-28 §37.6f.
  30. Hosea 5:11 sn The term רְצוּץ (retsuts, “crushed”) is a metaphor for weakness (e.g., 2 Kgs 18:21; Isa 36:6; 42:3) and oppression (e.g., Deut 28:33; 1 Sam 12:3, 4; Amos 4:1; Isa 58:6). Here it is used as a figure to describe the devastating effects of the Lord’s judgment.
  31. Hosea 5:11 tn Heb “crushed of judgment” (רְצוּץ מִשְׁפָּט, retsuts mishpat). The second term is a genitive of cause (“crushed because of judgment” or “crushed under judgment”) rather than respect (“crushed in judgment,” as in many English versions).
  32. Hosea 5:11 tn The meaning of the Hebrew term translated “worthless idols” is uncertain; cf. KJV “the commandment,” NASB “man’s command,” NAB “filth,” and NRSV “vanity.”
  33. Hosea 5:12 tn The noun רָקָב (raqav, “rottenness, decay”) refers to wood rot caused by the ravages of worms (BDB 955 s.v. רָקָב); cf. NLT “dry rot.” The related noun רִקָּבוֹן (riqqavon) refers to “rotten wood” (Job 41:27).
  34. Hosea 5:13 tn Hosea employs three preterites (vayyiqtol forms) in verse 13a-b to describe a past-time situation.
  35. Hosea 5:13 tn Heb “went to” (so NAB, NRSV, TEV); cf. CEV “asked help from.”
  36. Hosea 5:13 tn Heb “sent to” (so KJV, NIV, NRSV).
  37. Hosea 5:13 tc The MT reads מֶלֶךְ יָרֵב (melekh yarev, “a contentious king”). This is translated as a proper name (“king Jareb”) by KJV, ASV, and NASB. However, the stative adjective יָרֵב (“contentious”) is somewhat awkward. The words should be redivided as an archaic genitive-construct מַלְכִּי רָב (malki rav, “great king”; cf. NAB, NIV, NRSV, NLT), which preserves the old genitive hireq yod ending. This is the equivalent of the Assyrian royal epithet sarru rabbu (“the great king”). See also the tc note on the same phrase in 10:6.
  38. Hosea 5:13 tn Heb “your wound will not depart from you.”sn Hosea personifies Ephraim’s “wound” as if it could depart from the sickly Ephraim (see the formal equivalent rendering in the preceding tn). Ephraim’s sinful action in relying upon an Assyrian treaty for protection will not dispense with its problems.
  39. Hosea 5:15 tn The verb יֶאְשְׁמוּ (yeʾshemu, Qal imperfect third person masculine plural from אָשַׁם, ʾasham, “to be guilty”) means “to bear their punishment” (Ps 34:22, 23 HT [34:21, 22 ET]; Prov 30:10; Isa 24:6; Jer 2:3; Hos 5:15; 10:2; 14:1; Zech 11:5; Ezek 6:6; BDB 79 s.v. אָשַׁם 3). Many English versions translate this as “admit their guilt” (NIV, NLT) or “acknowledge their guilt” (NASB, NRSV), but cf. NAB “pay for their guilt,” and TEV “have suffered enough for their sins.”
  40. Hosea 5:15 tn Heb “seek my face” (so KJV, NASB, NIV, NRSV); cf. NAB “seek my presence.”