Hosea’s Wife and Children
1 The word of the Lord that came to Hosea the son of Beeri in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel.
2 When the Lord first spoke through Hosea, the Lord said to him, “Go, take for yourself a [a]wife of prostitution and have children of [her] prostitution; for the land commits great acts of prostitution by [b]not following the Lord.” 3 So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son. 4 And the Lord said to him, “Name him Jezreel; for yet in a little while I will avenge the blood [that was shed in the Valley] of Jezreel and inflict the punishment for it on the house of [c]Jehu, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the [d]house of Israel.(A) 5 On that day I will break the bow [of the military power] of Israel in the Valley of Jezreel.”
6 Then Gomer conceived again and gave birth to a daughter. And the Lord said to Hosea, “Name her Lo-Ruhamah (not shown mercy), for I will no longer have mercy on the house of Israel, that I would ever forgive them. 7 But I will have mercy on the house of Judah and will rescue them by the Lord their God, and will [e]not rescue them by bow, sword, war, horses, or horsemen.”(B)
8 Now when Gomer had weaned Lo-Ruhamah, she conceived and gave birth to a son. 9 And the Lord said, “Name him Lo-Ammi (not my people), for you are not My people and I am not your God.”
Yet the number of the [f]sons of Israel
Shall be like the sand of the sea,
Which cannot be measured or numbered;
And in the place
Where it is said to them,
“You are not My people,”
It will be said to them,
“You are the sons of the living God.”(C)
Then the sons of Judah and the sons of Israel shall be gathered together,
And they will appoint for themselves one leader,
And they will go up from the land,
For great and glorious will be the day of [g]Jezreel.(D)
Israel’s Unfaithfulness Condemned
2 “[Hosea,] say to your brothers, ‘Ammi (you are my people),’ and to your sisters, ‘Ruhamah (you have been pitied and have obtained mercy).’
“Contend with your mother (nation); contend,
For she is not my wife and I am not her husband;
And have her remove her [marks of] prostitution from her face
And her adultery from between her breasts(E)
Or I will strip her naked
And expose her as on the day she was born,
And make her like a wilderness
And make her like a parched land
And slay her with thirst.
“Also, I will have no mercy on her children,
Because they are the children of prostitution.
“For their mother has played the prostitute;
She who conceived them has acted shamefully,
For she said, ‘I will pursue my lovers
Who give me my food and my water,
My wool and my flax, my oil and my [refreshing] drinks.’
“Therefore, behold, I [the Lord God] will hedge up her way with thorns;
And I will build a wall against her [shutting off her way] so that she cannot find her paths.
“She will [passionately] pursue her lovers, but she will not overtake them;
And she will seek them, but will not find them.
Then she will say, ‘Let me go and return to my first husband,
For it was better for me then than now!’
“For she (Israel) has not noticed nor understood nor realized that it was I [the Lord God] who gave her the grain and the new wine and the oil,
And lavished on her silver and gold,
Which they used for Baal and made into his image.
“Therefore, I will return and take back My grain at harvest time
And My new wine in its season.
I will also take away My wool and My flax
Given to cover her nakedness.
“And now I will uncover her lewdness and shame
In the sight of her lovers,
And no one will rescue her from My hand.
“I will also put an end to all her rejoicing,
Her feasts, her New Moons, her Sabbaths,
And all her festivals.
“I will destroy her vines and her fig trees
Of which she has said, ‘These are my wages
Which my lovers have given me.’
And I will make them a forest,
And the animals of the open country will devour them.
“And I will punish her for the [feast] days of the Baals,
When she used to offer sacrifices and burn incense to them
And adorn herself with her earrings and nose rings and her jewelry,
And follow her lovers, so that she forgot Me,” says the Lord.
Restoration of Israel
“Therefore, behold, I will allure Israel
And bring her into the wilderness,
And I will speak tenderly to her [to reconcile her to Me].
“Then I will give her her vineyards from there,
And make the Valley of Achor a door of hope and expectation [anticipating the time when I will restore My favor on her].
And she will sing there and respond as in the days of her youth
As in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt.(F)
“It shall come about in that day,” says the Lord,
“That you will call Me Ishi (my husband)
And will no longer call Me Baali (my [h]Baal).
“For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth,
So that they will no longer be mentioned or remembered by their names.(G)
“And in that day I will make a covenant for Israel
With the animals of the open country
And with the birds of the heavens
And with the creeping things of the ground.
And I will abolish the bow and the sword and [banish] war from the land
And will make them lie down in safety.
“And I will betroth you (Israel) to Me forever;
Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice,
In lovingkindness and loyalty, and in compassion.
“I will betroth you to Me in stability and in faithfulness.
Then you will know (recognize, appreciate) the Lord [and respond with loving faithfulness].
“It will come about in that day that I will respond,” says the Lord.
“I will respond to the heavens [which ask for rain to pour on the earth], and they will respond to the earth [which begs for the rain],
And the earth shall respond to the grain and the new wine and the oil [which beg it to bring them forth],
And they will respond to Jezreel [My Israel, who will now be restored].
“I will sow her for Myself in the land.
I will also have mercy on her who had not obtained mercy;
And I will say to those who were not My people,
‘You are My people,’
And they will say, ‘You are my God!’”(H)
Hosea’s Second Symbolic Marriage
3 Then the Lord said to me, “Go again, love a woman ([i]Gomer) who is beloved by her husband and yet is an adulteress, even as the Lord loves the [j]children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love the raisin cakes [used in the feasts in pagan worship].” 2 So I bought her for myself for [k]fifteen pieces of silver and a homer and a half of barley [the price of a common slave]. 3 And I said to her, “You shall stay with me for many days. You shall not play the prostitute nor shall you have a man; so I will also be toward you [until you have proved your faithfulness].” 4 For the sons of Israel will remain for many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or [idolatrous] pillar, and without [l]ephod or teraphim (household idols). 5 Afterward the sons of Israel will return [in deep repentance] and seek the Lord their God and [seek from the line of] David their king [the King of kings—the Messiah]; and they will come trembling to the Lord and to His goodness and blessing in the last days.(I)
God’s Controversy with Israel
4 Hear the word of the Lord, you children of Israel,
For the Lord has a [legal] case with the inhabitants of the land,
Because there is no faithfulness [no steadfast love, no dependability] or loyalty or kindness
Or knowledge of God [from personal experience with Him] in the land.
There is [false] swearing of oaths, deception (broken faith), murder, stealing, and adultery;
They employ violence, so that one [act of] bloodshed follows closely on another.
Therefore the land [continually] mourns,
And everyone who lives in it languishes [in tragic suffering]
Together with the animals of the open country and the birds of the heavens;
Even the fish of the sea disappear.
Yet let no one find fault, nor let any rebuke [others];
For your people are like those who contend with the priest.
So you will stumble in the daytime,
And the [false] prophet will also stumble with you in the night;
And I will destroy your mother (Israel).(J)
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge [of My law, where I reveal My will].
Because you [the priestly nation] have rejected knowledge,
I will also reject you from being My priest.
Since you have forgotten the law of your God,
I will also forget your children.
The more they multiplied [in numbers and increased in power], the more they sinned against Me;
I will change their glory into shame.
They (the priests) [m]feed on the sin offering of My people
And set their heart on their wickedness.(K)
And it shall be: like people, like priest [both are wicked and both will be judged];
So I will punish them for their ways
And repay them for their deeds.
They will eat, but not have enough;
They will play the prostitute, but not increase [their descendants],
Because they have stopped giving heed to the Lord.
Prostitution, wine, and new wine take away the mind and the [spiritual] understanding.
My people consult their [lifeless] wooden idol, and their [diviner’s] wand gives them oracles.
For a spirit of prostitution has led them astray [morally and spiritually],
And they have played the prostitute, withdrawing themselves from their God.
They sacrifice on the tops of the mountains
And burn incense on the hills,
Under oaks, poplars, and terebinths,
Because the shade is pleasant there.
Therefore your daughters play the prostitute
And your brides commit adultery.
I will not punish your daughters when they play the prostitute
Or your brides when they commit adultery,
For the men themselves slip away with prostitutes,
And they offer sacrifices with temple prostitutes [who give their bodies in honor of the idol].
So the people without understanding [stumble and fall and] come to ruin.
Though you, Israel, play the prostitute [by worshiping idols],
Do not let Judah become guilty [of the same thing];
And do not go to Gilgal [where idols are worshiped],
Or go up to [n]Beth-aven (House of Wickedness),
Nor swear [oaths in idolatrous worship, saying],
“As the Lord lives!”
For Israel is stubborn,
Like a stubborn heifer.
Can the Lord now pasture them
Like a lamb in a large field?
Ephraim is joined to idols,
So let him alone [to suffer the consequences].
When their liquor is gone [and their drinking parties are over],
They habitually go to play the prostitute;
Ephraim’s rulers continue to dearly love shame [more than her glory which is the Lord, Israel’s God].
The wind [of God’s relentless wrath] has wrapped up Israel in its wings,
And [in captivity] they will be ashamed because of their sacrifices [to calves, to sun, to moon, to stars, and to pagan gods].
The People’s Apostasy Rebuked
5 Hear this and pay close attention, O priests!
Give heed, O house of Israel!
Listen, O house of the king!
For the [pronounced] judgment pertains to you and is meant for you to hear,
Because you have been a snare at Mizpah
And a net spread out over Tabor (military strongholds on either side of the Jordan River).
The revolters have gone deep into depravity,
But I [the Lord God] will chastise them all.
I know Ephraim, and Israel is not hidden from Me;
For now, O Ephraim, you have played the prostitute and have worshiped idols;
Israel has defiled itself.
Their [immoral] practices will not permit them
To return to their God,
For the spirit of prostitution is within them
And they do not know the Lord [they do not recognize, appreciate, heed or cherish Him].
But the pride and self-reliance of Israel testifies against him.
Therefore Israel, and [especially] [o]Ephraim, stumble and fall in their wickedness and guilt;
[p]Judah also has stumbled with them.
They will go with their flocks and with their herds
To seek the Lord [diligently searching for Him], but they will not find Him;
He has withdrawn from them [refusing to hear the prayers of the unrepentant].
They have dealt treacherously against the Lord,
For they have borne illegitimate (pagan) children.
Now the [q]New Moon will devour them along with their land [bringing judgment and captivity].
Blow the horn in Gibeah,
The trumpet in Ramah [the lofty hills on Benjamin’s northern border].
Sound the alarm at Beth-aven:
“Behind you and coming after you [is the enemy], O Benjamin [be on guard]!”
Ephraim will become a desolation in the day of rebuke;
Among the tribes of Israel I declare what is certain.
The princes of Judah are like those who [r]move a boundary marker;
I will pour out My wrath on them like [an unrestrained flood of] water.(L)
Ephraim is oppressed; he is broken and crushed by [divine] judgment,
Because he was determined to follow man’s command [s](vanities, filth, secular precepts).
Therefore I am like a moth to Ephraim
And like dry rot to the house of Judah [in My judgment against them].
When Ephraim saw his sickness,
And Judah his wound,
Then Ephraim went to Assyria [instead of the Lord]
And sent to [Assyria’s] great King Jareb [for help].
But he cannot heal you
Nor will he cure you of your wound [received in judgment].
For I will be like a lion to Ephraim
And like a young lion to the house of Judah.
I, even I, will tear to pieces and go on [tearing];
I will carry off [the prey] and there will be no one to rescue them.
I will go away and return to My place [on high]
Until they acknowledge their offense and bear their guilt and seek My face;
In their distress they will earnestly seek Me, saying,
The Response to God’s Rebuke
6 “Come and let us return [in repentance] to the Lord,
For He has torn us, but He will heal us;
He has wounded us, but He will bandage us.
“After two days He will revive us;
On the third day He will raise us up
That we may live before Him.(M)
“So let us know and become personally acquainted with Him; let us press on to know and understand fully the [greatness of the] Lord [to honor, heed, and deeply cherish Him].
His appearing is prepared and is as certain as the dawn,
And He will come to us [in salvation] like the [heavy] rain,
Like the spring rain watering the earth.”
The Reply of the Lord
O Ephraim, what shall I do with you?
O Judah, what shall I do with you?
For your [wavering] loyalty and kindness are [transient] like the morning cloud
And like the dew that goes away early.
Therefore, I have hewn them in pieces by [the words of] the prophets;
I have slain them by the words of My mouth;
My judgments [pronounced upon them by the prophets] are like the light that shines forth [obvious to all].
For I desire and delight in [steadfast] loyalty [faithfulness in the covenant relationship], rather than sacrifice,
And in the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.(N)
But they, like Adam, have transgressed the covenant;
There they have dealt treacherously against Me.
Gilead is a city of wrongdoers;
It is tracked with bloody footprints.
And as bands of robbers [lie in] wait for a man,
So a band of priests murder on the road toward [t]Shechem [covering their crimes in that city of refuge];
Certainly they have committed crimes and outrages.
I have seen a horrible thing [sins of every kind] in the house of Israel!
Ephraim’s prostitution (idolatry) is there; Israel has defiled itself.
Also, O Judah, there is a harvest [of divine judgment] appointed for you,
When I restore the fortunes of My people [who have been slaves to the misery of sin].
7 When I would heal Israel,
The sin (guilt) of Ephraim is uncovered,
And the wickedness of [u]Samaria,
Because they practice false dealing;
The thief enters,
Bandits ravage and raid outside.
But they do not consider in their hearts (minds)
That I remember [always] all their wickedness.
Now their deeds surround and entangle them;
They are before My face.
They make the king glad with their wickedness,
And the princes with their lies.
They are all adulterers;
Like the heat of an oven
When the baker ceases to stir the fire, [their passion smolders]
From the kneading of the dough until it is leavened.
On the [special] day of our king, the princes became sick with the heat of wine;
The king stretched out his hand [in association] with scoffers (lawless people).
As they approach their plotting,
Their mind burns [with intrigue] like an oven [while they lie in wait].
Their anger smolders all night;
In the morning it blazes like a flaming fire.
They are all hot like an oven
And they consume their judges (rulers);
All their kings have fallen.
There is no one among them who calls to Me.
Ephraim mixes himself with the [Gentile] nations [seeking favor with one country, then another];
Ephraim is a cake not turned [worthless; ready to be thrown away].
Strangers have devoured his strength,
Yet he does not know it;
Gray hairs are sprinkled on him,
Yet he does not know.
Though the pride of Israel testifies against him,
Yet they do not return [in repentance] to the Lord their God,
Nor seek nor search for nor desire Him [as essential] in spite of all this.
Ephraim also is like a silly dove, without heart or good sense;
They call to Egypt [for help], they go to Assyria.
When they go, I will spread My net over them;
I will bring them down like birds of the heavens [into Assyrian captivity].
I will chastise them in accordance with the proclamation (prophecy) to their congregation.(O)
Woe (judgment is coming) to them, for they have wandered away from Me!
Devastation is theirs, because they have rebelled and trespassed against Me!
I would redeem them, but they speak lies against Me.
They do not cry out to Me from their heart
When they wail on their beds [in unbelieving despair];
For the sake of grain and new wine they [v]assemble themselves [as if worshiping Baal];
They rebel against Me.
Although I trained and strengthened their arms [for victory over their enemies],
Yet they devise evil against Me.
They turn, but they do not turn upward to the Most High.
They are like a poorly crafted bow [that misses the mark];
Their princes shall fall by the sword
Because of the insolence of their tongue.
This will be cause for their mockery and disdain in the land of Egypt.
- Hosea 1:2 Some scholars interpret this to mean that Gomer was chaste at the time of the marriage, but later became an adulteress. As such, she symbolizes the future unfaithfulness of Israel.
- Hosea 1:2 Lit forsaking.
- Hosea 1:4 Jehu murdered Ahab’s sons in order to seize the throne of Israel.
- Hosea 1:4 I.e. Israel, the Northern Kingdom, which included ten of the original tribes of Israel. Samaria was the capital city.
- Hosea 1:7 Isaiah also made this prophecy (Is 31:8, 9) and both he and Hosea lived to see its fulfillment (Is 37:36). See also 2 Kin 19:35-37.
- Hosea 1:10 In general, sons (children) of Israel or Israel or Israelites refers to all the people (males and females) of the various tribes descended from the twelve sons (Gen 35:23-26) of Jacob (later renamed Israel by God). In verses about things such as warfare or circumcision, sons of Israel or Israel or Israelites usually refers only to the males. Tribes of ancient people were identified by the name of their founding ancestor. Therefore, this same general rule applies to individual tribal groups, e.g., sons of Reuben, Reuben, Reubenites, and so throughout.
- Hosea 1:11 The spiritually reborn Israel, the people whom the Lord has chosen and blessed.
- Hosea 2:16 This was a loaded term meaning “owner,” “lord,” or “husband,” and as “lord” it also became a word for pagan gods. Some or perhaps most of the idolatry in which Israel engaged probably were attempts to represent the true God as an idol, such as a Baal.
- Hosea 3:1 The ambiguous wording might be interpreted as referring to a different woman, but this time Hosea is told only to love her, not to take, i.e. marry her. Also, the application of the symbolism to God’s relationship with Israel seems to depend upon the woman’s being Gomer. The purpose of the ambiguities probably is to reflect the emotional estrangement between Hosea and Gomer and the contempt that she deserved for her behavior. Matthew’s anonymous reference to Bathsheba literally as “wife of Uriah” (Matt 1:6).
- Hosea 3:1 See note 1:10.
- Hosea 3:2 Hosea bought Gomer back after she had become a slave. The silver and barley together totaled about thirty pieces of silver. See Ex 21:7, 32; 2 Kin 7:1, 16, 18.
- Hosea 3:4 A garment worn by priests when seeking divine counsel.
- Hosea 4:8 As the people increased their rebellious behavior, they offered more sacrifices to atone for their sins, implying a greater portion of food for the priests. See Lev 7:7, 8.
- Hosea 4:15 A contemptuous reference to Bethel (House of God, the place of Jacob’s dream, Gen 28:10-19), noted for idolatry.
- Hosea 5:5 Ephraim was the most dominant of the ten tribes in the Kingdom of Israel, and this and other economic factors led to Ephraim becoming a synonym for the entire Northern Kingdom.
- Hosea 5:5 The Southern Kingdom or Kingdom of Judah consisted primarily of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. After the united kingdom divided, Judah continued to be ruled by the kings of the Davidic line. Jerusalem was the capital city of Judah.
- Hosea 5:7 Instead of a celebration, judgment would occur at the time of the New Moon Festival; 2:11.
- Hosea 5:10 I.e. like an official changing the laws of what is right and what is wrong by changing the legal standards.
- Hosea 5:11 “Vanities” is the rendering of The Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament); “filth,” the rendering of the DSS.
- Hosea 6:9 Shechem was the first capital city of the Kingdom of Israel.
- Hosea 7:1 Samaria became the capital city of the Kingdom of Israel (the ten northern tribes) during the reign of King Omri (see 1 Kin 16:24).
- Hosea 7:14 Or with Greek and many ancient mss gash themselves.