THE BOOK OF HOSEA

Hosea, a prophet from the Northern Kingdom, preached in his homeland, which he addresses as Israel, Jacob or, frequently, Ephraim. Hosea began his mission in a period of prosperity, the last years of Jeroboam II (783–743 B.C.). This was followed by a period of internal instability, with intrigues at the royal court leading to the assassination of several kings. Hosea witnessed the revival of Assyria, the Syro-Ephraimite war, and the numerous treaties the Israelite kings made with Egypt and Assyria to survive. Hosea’s long ministry (ca. 750–725) seems to have ended before the capture of Samaria in 722/721.

The only information the text provides us about the life of Hosea concerns his marriage. Even if we cannot reconstruct what happened exactly, the text as it now stands speaks of three moments in the relationship: first love, separation, reunion. This marriage is a symbol of the covenant between the Lord and Israel. Hosea speaks about the first love, the short period of Israel’s loyalty in the desert, which was then followed by a long history of unfaithfulness lasting until his day. Hosea accuses Israel of three crimes in particular. Instead of putting their trust in the Lord alone, the people break the covenant: (1) by counting on their own military strength, (2) by making treaties with foreign powers (Assyria and Egypt), and (3) by running after the Baals, the gods of fertility. Israel thus forgets that the Lord is its strength, its covenant partner, and giver of fertility. This unfaithful behavior will lead to Israel’s destruction by Assyria, but God’s love will have the last word. The back and forth movement from doom to salvation is typical of the Book of Hosea.

Hosea began the Old Testament tradition of describing the relation between the Lord and Israel in terms of marriage (e.g., Jer 3:1; Ez 16:23; Is 50:1). The New Testament uses the marriage imagery to describe the union between Christ and the Church (e.g., Mk 2:1920; Eph 5:25).

The Hebrew of the Book of Hosea is challenging to translate, possibly because the text is corrupt or because it is written in a nonstandard dialect of Hebrew. As a result, the English translations of the book sometimes offer very different readings of the same passage.

The book, which opens with a superscription (1:1) and ends with a final challenge (14:10), is divided into two major parts:

  1. The Prophet’s Marriage and Its Symbolism (1:23:5)
  2. Israel’s Guilt, Punishment, and Restoration (4:114:9)

CHAPTER 1

1* The word of the LORD that came to Hosea son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam, son of Joash, king of Israel.*

I. THE PROPHET’S MARRIAGE AND ITS SYMBOLISM

Marriage of Hosea and Gomer. 2When the LORD began to speak with Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea: Go, get for yourself a woman of prostitution* and children of prostitution, for the land prostitutes itself,a turning away from the LORD.

3So he went and took Gomer, daughter of Diblaim; and she conceived and bore him a son. 4Then the LORD said to him: Give him the name “Jezreel,”* for in a little while I will punish the house of Jehu for the bloodshed at Jezreel and bring to an end the kingdom of the house of Israel; 5on that day I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel.

6She conceived again and bore a daughter. The LORD said to him: Give her the name “Not-Pitied,”* for I will no longer feel pity for the house of Israel: rather, I will utterly abhor them. 7* Yet for the house of Judah I will feel pity; I will save them by the LORD, their God; but I will not save them by bow or sword, by warfare, by horses or horsemen.b

8After she weaned Not-Pitied, she conceived and bore a son. 9Then the LORD said: Give him the name “Not-My-People,”* for you are not my people, and I am not “I am” for you.

* [1:13] This section begins with Hosea’s marriage to Gomer, which symbolizes Israel’s relationship to God. Hence the symbolic names of Hosea’s children and their later renaming (1:29; 2:13). The prophet foresees God’s punishment for the unfaithful covenant partner, but knows that God’s last word is always hope (2:425).

* [1:1] This superscription is from a Judean editor, who lists the kings of Judah in the south first, even though Hosea preached in the Northern Kingdom of Israel.

* [1:2] A woman of prostitution: this does not necessarily mean that Gomer was a prostitute when Hosea married her; the verse describes the event in its final consequences. Prostitution here may refer to Gomer’s participation in the worship of other gods.

* [1:4] Give him the name “Jezreel”: the names of the three children are symbolic, and predict God’s punishment in a crescendo. These names are frequently repeated in chaps. 12. Jezreel: (lit., “God will sow”) the strategic valley in northern Israel where Jehu brought the dynasty of Omri to an end through bloodshed (2 Kgs 910). Jeroboam II was the next to the last king of the house of Jehu. The prophecy in this verse of the end of the house of Jehu was fulfilled by the murder of Zechariah, son of Jeroboam II (2 Kgs 15:810).

* [1:6] “Not-Pitied”: in Hebrew lo-ruhama.

* [1:7] Probably written by a later editor when the prophecies of Hosea circulated in the south, after the dissolution of the Northern Kingdom had occurred. The second part of the verse emphasizes the power of the Lord, who needs no human agents to fulfill the divine will. It may refer to the deliverance of Jerusalem from the siege of Sennacherib in 701 (2 Kgs 19:3537).

* [1:9] “Not-My-People”: in Hebrew lo-ammi. I am not “I am” for you: a reference to the divine name revealed to Moses, “I am” (Ex 3:14). This reversal of the relationship marks the end of the covenant (Ex 6:7).

a. [1:2] Jer 2:20, 23; Ez 23:3.

b. [1:7] Zec 4:6.

CHAPTER 2

1* The number of the Israelites

will be like the sand of the sea,

which can be neither measured nor counted.a

Instead of being told,

“You are Not-My-People,”

They will be called,

“Children of the living God.”b

2Then the people of Judah and of Israel

will gather together;

They will appoint for themselves one head

and rise up from the land;

great indeed shall be the day of Jezreel!

3Say to your brothers, “My People,”

and to your sisters, “Pitied.”

The Lord and Israel His Spouse*

4Accuse your mother, accuse!

for she is not my wife,

and I am not her husband.*

Let her remove her prostitution from her face.

her adultery from between her breasts,

5Or I will strip her naked,*

leaving her as on the day of her birth;

I will make her like the wilderness,

make her like an arid land,

and let her die of thirst.

6I will have no pity on her children,

for they are children of prostitution.

7Yes, their mother has prostituted herself;

she who conceived them has acted shamefully.

For she said, “I will go after my lovers,*

who give me my bread and my water,

my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.”c

8* Therefore, I will hedge in her way with thorns

and erect a wall against her,

so that she cannot find her paths.

9If she runs after her lovers, she will not overtake them;

if she seeks them she will not find them.

Then she will say,

“I will go back to my first husband,

for I was better off then than now.”d

10She did not know

that it was I who gave her

the grain, the wine, and the oil,

I who lavished upon her silver,

and gold, which they used for Baal,*

11Therefore I will take back my grain in its time,

and my wine in its season;

I will snatch away my wool and my flax,

which were to cover her nakedness.

12Now I will lay bare her shame

in full view of her lovers,e

and no one can deliver her out of my hand.f

13I will put an end to all her joy,

her festivals, her new moons, her sabbaths—

all her seasonal feasts.

14I will lay waste her vines and fig trees,

of which she said, “These are the fees

my lovers have given me”;

I will turn them into rank growth

and wild animals shall devour them.

15I will punish her for the days of the Baals,*

for whom she burnt incense,

When she decked herself out with her rings and her jewelry,

and went after her lovers—

but me she forgot—oracle of the LORD.g

16Therefore,* I will allure her now;

I will lead her into the wildernessh

and speak persuasively to her.

17Then I will give her the vineyards she had,

and the valley of Achor* as a door of hope.i

There she will respond as in the days of her youth,

as on the day when she came up from the land of Egypt.

18On that day—oracle of the LORD

You shall call me “My husband,”

and you shall never again call me “My baal.”*

19I will remove from her mouth the names of the Baals;

they shall no longer be mentioned by their name.

20I will make a covenant for them on that day,j

with the wild animals,

With the birds of the air,

and with the things that crawl on the ground.

Bow and sword and warfare

I will destroy from the land,

and I will give them rest in safety.

21I will betroth you to me forever:

I will betroth you to me with* justice and with judgment,

with loyalty and with compassion;

22I will betroth you to me with fidelity,

and you shall know the LORD.

23On that day I will respond—oracle of the LORD

I will respond to the heavens,

and they will respond to the earth;

24The earth will respond to the grain, and wine, and oil,

and these will respond to Jezreel.

25I will sow her for myself in the land,

and I will have pity on Not-Pitied.

I will say to Not-My-People, “You are my people,”k

and he will say, “My God!”

* [2:13] These verses abruptly reverse the tone of the judgments of 1:29 with words of hope for the covenant people: the name Jezreel is given a positive interpretation in contrast to its negative meaning in 1:4; the child named “Not-Pitied” in 1:6 is renamed “Pitied” in 2:3; the child named “Not-My-People” is renamed “My People.” The reversal of these names occurs again in 2:25.

* [2:425] The section contains three oracles of doom (vv. 46, 79, 1015), a transition (vv. 1617), and three oracles of salvation (vv. 1819, 2022, 2325).

* [2:4] The Lord speaks of Israel, still using the example of Hosea’s wife.

* [2:5] I will strip her naked: it was the husband’s responsibility to provide food and clothing for his wife (Ex 21:10) and now, because of her adultery, he takes back his support.

* [2:7] My lovers: even though Israel had experienced the Lord as the God of the desert, covenant and conquest, the people were inclined to turn to the local fertility deities, the Baals, who were believed to be responsible for agricultural success. They easily forgot that the Lord provides them with everything (v. 10; cf. Dt 7:13), and thus prostituted themselves by worshiping other gods.

* [2:8] The crop failures sent by the Lord are meant to make Israel see the folly of its ways.

* [2:10] For Baal: as an offering to Baal or to make statues of Baal.

* [2:15] The days of the Baals: feast days of the Baal cult (v. 13), or the whole period of Israel’s apostasy.

* [2:16] Therefore: this word in Hebrew normally introduces an oracle of doom; here, surprisingly, it leads to hope. Allure: as though seducing a virgin (Ex 22:1516). Ordinarily this word connotes deception (Jgs 14:15; 16:5; 1 Kgs 22:2022).

* [2:17] Valley of Achor: lit., valley of trouble (Jos 7:26). Here this valley becomes a valley of hope, a new entry into the promised land.

* [2:1819] Baal: the word means “lord, master.” It was commonly used by women of their husbands, but it is to be shunned as a title for the Lord because of its association with the fertility gods, the Baals. Many Israelites saw little if any difference between the worship of the Lord and the worship of the Baals, thereby dishonoring the true source of the land’s fertility.

* [2:2122] Betroth…with: the betrothal was the legal moment before cohabitation when the dowry was paid to the father of the bride. In this remarriage the Lord gives the bride price to Israel herself “forever.” Justice…judgment: refer to equity and fairness of conduct. The next two terms, “loyalty” (hesed), the steadfast love between the covenant partners, and “compassion,” maternal love (cf. 1:6; 2:3, 25) are characteristic of Hosea. You shall know: not an abstract but a practical knowledge which means acknowledgment of God’s will and obedience to his law (4:1; 5:4; 6:3, 6).

a. [2:1] Gn 15:5; 22:17; 32:13.

b. [2:1] Rom 9:2627.

c. [2:7] Jer 2:25.

d. [2:9] Lk 15:1718.

e. [2:12] Ez 16:37.

f. [2:12] Jn 10:29.

g. [2:15] Jer 2:32.

h. [2:16] Jer 2:27.

i. [2:17] Jos 7:2426.

j. [2:20] Gn 9:811; Ez 34:25; Jb 5:23.

k. [2:25] Rom 9:2526; 1 Pt 2:10.

CHAPTER 3

Hosea and His Wife Reunited* 1Again the LORD said to me:

Go, love a woman

who is loved by her spouse but commits adultery;

Just as the LORD loves the Israelites,

though they turn to other gods

and love raisin cakes.*

2* So I acquired her for myself for fifteen pieces of silver and a homer and a lethech of barley. 3Then I said to her:

“You will wait for me for many days;

you will not prostitute yourself

Or belong to any man;

I in turn will wait for you.”

4* For the Israelites will remain many days

without king or prince,

Without sacrifice or sacred pillar,

without ephod or household gods.

5Afterward the Israelites will turn back

and seek the LORD, their God,

and David, their king;* a

They will come trembling to the LORD

and to his bounty, in the last days.

* [3:15] Just as the Lord is ready to take Israel back, Hosea takes his wife back. She must undergo a period of purification, just as Israel must experience purification before the restoration of the covenant relationship.

* [3:1] Raisin cakes: offerings to the fertility goddess Asherah, the female counterpart of Baal, cf. Jer 7:18; 44:19; Dn 14:58.

* [3:2] Just as the Lord offered a new bride price to Israel (2:2122), so Hosea offers a new bride price to his wife. He returns to her what he has taken away from her (2:5): “fifteen (shekels) of silver”; “a homer of barley,” a unit of dry measurement, which according to the etymology means “a mule load”; and “a lethech of barley,” which is a half-homer.

* [3:4] Israel will lose its political and cultic institutions. Sacred pillar: originally perhaps a phallic symbol, representing Baal. These were also used in Israelite worship (cf. notes on Gn 28:18; Ex 34:13). Ephod: an instrument used in consulting the deity (1 Sm 23:612; 30:7; cf. notes on Ex 28:6, 1530). Household gods: in Hebrew, teraphim; images regarded as the tutelary deities of the household (Gn 31:19; Jgs 17:5; 18:14, 1718).

* [3:5] David, their king: the king belonging to the line of David who will restore the Israelite nation (Jer 23:5; Ez 34:23, 24). The last days: a future time of transformation.

a. [3:5] Jer 30:9; Ez 34:23.

II. ISRAEL’S GUILT, PUNISHMENT, AND RESTORATION

CHAPTER 4

Indictment of Israel*

1Hear the word of the LORD, Israelites,

for the LORD has a dispute

with the inhabitants of the land:a

There is no fidelity, no loyalty,

no knowledge of God in the land.

2Swearing, lying, murder,

stealing and adultery break out;*

bloodshed follows bloodshed.b

3Therefore the land dries up,

and everything that dwells in it languishes:

The beasts of the field,

the birds of the air,

and even the fish of the sea perish.c

Guilt of Priest and of People

4But let no one accuse, let no one rebuke;

with you is my dispute, priest!*

5You will stumble in the day,

and the prophet will stumble with you at night;

I will make an end of your mother.*

6My people are ruined for lack of knowledge!

Since you have rejected knowledge,

I will reject you from serving as my priest;

Since you have forgotten the law of your God,

I will also forget your children.

7The more they multiplied, the more they sinned against me,

I will change their glory* into shame.d

8They feed on the sin of my people,

and are greedy for their iniquity.*

9Like people, like priest:e

I will punish them for their ways,

and repay them for their deeds.

10They will eat but not be satisfied,f

they will promote prostitution* but not increase,

Because they have abandoned the LORD,

devoting themselves

11to prostitution.

Aged wine and new wine

take away understanding.g

12My people consult their piece of wood,*

and their wand makes pronouncements for them,

For the spirit of prostitution has led them astray;

they prostitute themselves, forsaking their God.

13On the mountaintops they offer sacrifice

and on the hills they burn incense,

Beneath oak and poplar and terebinth,

because of their pleasant shade.*

Therefore your daughters prostitute themselves,

and your daughters-in-law commit adultery.

14I will not punish your daughters for their prostitution,

nor your daughters-in-law for their adultery,

Because the men themselves consort with prostitutes,

and with temple women* they offer sacrifice!

Thus a people without understanding comes to ruin.

15Though you prostitute yourself, Israel,

do not let Judah become guilty!

Do not come to Gilgal,*

do not go up to Beth-aven,h

do not swear, “As the Lord lives!”i

16For like a stubborn cow,

Israel is stubborn;

Will the LORD now pasture them,

like lambs in a broad meadow?

17Ephraim* is bound to idols,

let him alone!

18* When their drinking is over,

they give themselves to prostitution;j

they love shame more than their honor.

19A wind* has bound them up in its wings;k

they shall be ashamed because of their altars.l

* [4:13] The introduction to the oracles (chaps. 411) which begin with “Hear the word of the Lord” (4:1) and end with “oracle of the Lord” (11:11).

* [4:2] Similar to the decalogue (Ex 20:117; cf. Jer 7:9).

* [4:46] Hosea is particularly severe with the priests in the Northern Kingdom who had led the way in the general apostasy from God’s law. The prophets here associated with the priests (v. 5) were doubtless cult prophets; cf. Jer 2:8; 4:910; 6:1314; 23:940.

* [4:5] Your mother: the one who gave life to the priest, understood here as an extension of the punishment to his whole family (Am 7:17), or “mother” taken as a metaphor for the community of Israel, of which the priest is a member (Hos 2:4).

* [4:7] Their glory: possibly connoting “their children.” See 9:11: Is 22:24. Or “Glory” may refer to the Lord in contrast to Ba’al. The Hebrew word for shame, bosheth, is often substituted for Ba’al in biblical names. See Ishbaal (Heb. Ishbosheth, 2 Sm 2:8, 10, 12, 15) and Meribaal (Heb. Mephibosheth, 2 Sm 9:6, 1013).

* [4:8] The priest receives part of the sacrifice (Lv 6:19; 7:7).

* [4:1011] Prostitution: often a synonym for idolatry. The covenant bond was symbolized as the relationship between husband and wife (see chaps. 12). Thus, abandoning the Lord for a foreign god was called prostitution or adultery.

* [4:12] Piece of wood: a derogatory term for an idol. Wand: a sacred wooden object, perhaps some kind of staff, used for divination.

* [4:13] The shrines on the “high places” typically had an altar, a grove of trees, and a stone pillar representing a god (Dt 12:2; Jer 2:20).

* [4:14] Temple women: plural of Heb. qedesha; the exact import of the term is disputed. See notes on Gn 38:21 and Dt 23:1819.

* [4:15] Gilgal: close to Jericho (Jos 4:1920; 5:29). Beth-aven: (lit., “house of iniquity”) Hosea’s derogatory term for the sanctuary of Bethel (lit., “house of God”), the major shrine of the Northern Kingdom (10:5, 8; cf. Am 5:5). As the Lord lives: a legitimate oath formula (1 Sm 26:10, 16), but unacceptable here because Israel is guilty of religious syncretism and the idolatrous worship of other gods.

* [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.

* [4:18] Cf. v. 11.

* [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).

a. [4:1] Is 3:1015; Mi 6:15.

b. [4:2] Ex 20:1317.

c. [4:3] Is 24:47; Zep 1:23.

d. [4:7] Jer 2:11; Ps 106:20.

e. [4:9] Is 24:2.

f. [4:10] Mi 6:14.

g. [4:11] Is 28:7.

h. [4:15] Am 4:4.

i. [4:15] Am 8:14.

j. [4:18] Am 2:8.

k. [4:19] Jer 4:1112.

l. [4:19] Is 1:29.

CHAPTER 5

Guilt of the Religious and Political Leaders

1Hear this, priests,

Pay attention, house of Israel,

Household of the king, give ear!a

For you are responsible for judgment.*

But you have been a snare at Mizpah,*

a net spread upon Tabor,

2a pit dug deep in Shittim.

Now I will discipline them all.

3I know Ephraim,

and Israel is not hidden from me:

Now, Ephraim, you have practiced prostitution,

Israel is defiled.

4Their deeds do not allow them

to return to their God;b

For the spirit of prostitution is in them,

and they do not know the LORD.

5The arrogance of Israel bears witness against him;

Israel and Ephraim stumble because of their iniquity,

and Judah stumbles with them.

6With their flocks and herds they will go

to seek the LORD, but will not find him;c

he has withdrawn from them.

7They have betrayed the LORD,

for they have borne illegitimate children;

Now the new moon* will devour them

together with their fields.

Political Upheavals*

8Blow the ram’s horn in Gibeah,

the trumpet in Ramah!

Sound the alarm in Beth-aven:d

“Look behind you, Benjamin!”*

9Ephraim shall become a wasteland

on the day of punishment:

Among the tribes of Israel

I announce what is sure to be.

10The princes of Judah have become

like those who move a boundary line;* e

Upon them I will pour out

my wrath like water.

11Ephraim is oppressed, crushed by judgment,

for he has willingly gone after filth!*

12I am like a moth for Ephraim,f

like rot for the house of Judah.

13When Ephraim saw his infirmity,

and Judah his sore,

Ephraim went to Assyria,

and sent to the great king.* g

But he cannot heal you,

nor take away your sore.

14For I am like a lion to Ephraim,

like a young lion to the house of Judah;h

It is I who tear the prey and depart,

I carry it away and no one can save it.i

Insincere Conversion

15I will go back to my place

until they make reparation

and seek my presence.

In their affliction, they shall look for me.j

* [5:1] For you…judgment: possibly “for you are called to judgment.”

* [5:12] Mizpah: several places bear this name; the best known is in Benjamin (1 Sm 7:6, 16; 10:17). Perhaps this is a wordplay on mishpat, “justice,” “judgment.” Tabor: the mountain that dominates the valley of Jezreel. Shittim: in Transjordan, where Israel committed its first act of idolatry with the Baal of Peor (9:10; cf. Nm 25). At these three places the leaders had misled the people by an idolatrous cult or by an abuse of justice.

* [5:7] New moon: normally a feast day of joy (2:13), but, because of infidelity, it will be a day of destruction.

* [5:814] This passage describes political and military conflict between Judah and Israel. Perhaps some allusion is made to the Syro-Ephraimite war of 735–734 B.C., when a coalition of Arameans and Israelites attempted to dethrone the king of Judah (2 Kgs 16:5; Is 7:19). Judah repulsed the attempt with the aid of Assyria, and the latter devastated both Aram and Israel.

* [5:8] A vision of invasion, from Gibeah and Ramah in northern Judah, into Israel.

* [5:10] Move a boundary line: invasion by Judah (v. 8) is compared to a case of social injustice (Dt 19:14; 27:17; Prv 23:1011).

* [5:11] Filth: Ephraim’s reliance on foreign nations and their gods.

* [5:13] Ephraim went…king: in 738 the Israelite king Menahem had to pay tribute to the Assyrian king Tiglath-pileser III, whose vassal he became (2 Kgs 15:1920). Under the threat of the Syro-Ephraimite invasion King Ahaz of Judah also submitted to Tiglath-pileser (2 Kgs 16:79). Great king: Heb. melek-yarev; may be a proper name: King Yarev, but unknown; or “the defender king”: irony about the great king of Assyria (see note on 10:6).

a. [5:1] Mi 3:1.

b. [5:4] Jer 13:23.

c. [5:6] Is 55:6; Jer 29:13; Am 5:46; 8:12; Jn 7:34.

d. [5:8] Jer 4:5; Jl 2:1.

e. [5:10] Dt 19:14; 27:17.

f. [5:12] Is 50:9.

g. [5:13] 2 Kgs 15:1920; 16:79.

h. [5:14] Is 5:29; Am 1:2; 3:12.

i. [5:14] Dt 32:39.

j. [5:15] Jer 29:13; Ps 78:34.

CHAPTER 6

1“Come, let us return to the LORD,a

For it is he who has torn, but he will heal us;

he has struck down, but he will bind our wounds.

2He will revive us after two days;

on the third day* he will raise us up,b

to live in his presence.

3Let us know, let us strive to know the LORD;

as certain as the dawn is his coming.

He will come to us like the rain,

like spring rain that waters the earth.”c

4What can I do with you, Ephraim?

What can I do with you, Judah?

Your loyalty is like morning mist,

like the dew that disappears early.

5For this reason I struck them down through the prophets,

I killed them by the words of my mouth;* d

my judgment shines forth like the light.

6For it is loyalty that I desire, not sacrifice,

and knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.e

Further Crimes of Israel

7But they, at Adam,* violated the covenant;

there they betrayed me.

8Gilead* is a city of evildoers,

tracked with blood.

9Like brigands lying in wait

is the band of priests.

They murder on the road to Shechem,*

indeed they commit a monstrous crime.

10In the house of Israel I have seen a horrible thing:

there is found Ephraim’s prostitution,

Israel is defiled.

11For you also, Judah,

a harvest* has been appointed!

* [6:2] After two days; on the third day: presumptuous Israel expects that soon God will renew them (cf. Ez 37).

* [6:5] The word of God proclaimed by the prophets is effective, it accomplished what it promised: punishment.

* [6:7] At Adam: the violation of the covenant at Adam is mentioned nowhere else in the Bible. The place Adam, the location of which is unknown, may be referred to in Jos 3:16.

* [6:8] Gilead: city in Transjordan (Gn 31:4648; 2 Kgs 15:25).

* [6:9] Shechem: an important ancient religious and political center (Jos 24).

* [6:11] Harvest: God’s judgment, when Judah will reap what it has sown.

a. [6:1] Lam 3:40.

b. [6:2] Lk 24:7, 46; 1 Cor 15:4.

c. [6:3] Dt 11:14; Ps 72:6.

d. [6:5] Is 11:4; 49:2; Jer 5:14; Heb 4:1213.

e. [6:6] 1 Sm 15:22; Am 5:2224; Mi 6:68; Eccl 4:17; Mt 9:13; 12:7.

CHAPTER 7

When I would have restored the fortunes of my people,

1when I would have healed Israel,

The guilt of Ephraim was revealed,

the wickedness of Samaria:

They practiced falsehood.

Thieves break in,

bandits roam outside.

2Yet they do not call to mind

that I remember all their wickedness.a

Now their crimes surround them,

present to my sight.b

Israel’s Domestic Politics*

3With their wickedness they make the king rejoice,

the princes too, with their treacherous deeds.

4They are all adulterers,*

like a blazing oven,

Which the baker quits stoking,

after the dough’s kneading until its rising.

5On the day of our king,

they made the princes sick with poisoned wine;

he extended his hand to the scoffers.

6For they draw near in ambush

with their hearts like an oven.

All the night their anger sleeps;

in the morning it flares like a blazing fire.

7They are all heated like ovens,

and consume their rulers.

All their kings have fallen;

none of them calls upon me.

Israel’s Foreign Politics

8Ephraim is mixed with the nations,*

Ephraim is an unturned cake.

9Strangers have consumed his strength,

but he does not know it;c

Gray hairs are strewn on his head,

but he takes no notice of it.

10The arrogance of Israel bears witness against him;

yet they do not return to the LORD, their God,

nor seek him, despite all this.d

11Ephraim is like a dove,

silly and senseless;

They call upon Egypt,

they go to Assyria.

12When they go I will spread my net around them,

like birds in the air I will bring them down.e

I will chastise them when I hear of their assembly.

13Woe to them, for they have strayed from me!

Ruin to them, for they have rebelled against me!

Though I wished to redeem them,

they spoke lies against me.

14They have not cried to me from their hearts

when they wailed upon their beds;

For wheat and wine they lacerated themselves;*

they rebelled against me.

15Though I trained and strengthened their arms,

yet they devised evil against me.

16They have again become useless,

they have been like a treacherous bow.f

Their princes shall fall by the sword

because of the insolence of their tongues;

thus they shall be mocked in the land of Egypt.

* [7:37] This passage perhaps refers to a conspiracy at the royal court. Between the death of Jeroboam II (743 B.C.) and the fall of Samaria (722/721), nearly all the kings were murdered (2 Kgs 15:10, 14, 25, 30).

* [7:4] Adulterers: the unfaithful nobles who kill the king. Their passion is compared to the fire of the oven. The point of the metaphor is that, like this oven whose fire is always ready to blaze up again, the conspirators are always ready for rebellion.

* [7:8] Is mixed with the nations: the people reject exclusive allegiance to the Lord, and they now try to find their salvation in alliances with foreign nations. An unturned cake: burnt on one side, but not baked at all on the other, and thus worthless.

* [7:14] Lacerated themselves: a ritual to obtain a good harvest from Baal (2:710; 1 Kgs 18:28; Jer 16:6; 41:5). This practice was forbidden (Lv 19:28; Dt 14:1).

a. [7:2] Ps 10:11.

b. [7:2] Prv 5:2122.

c. [7:9] Jer 5:3; Rev 3:17.

d. [7:10] Is 9:12; Am 4:6.

e. [7:12] Ez 12:13; 32:3.

f. [7:16] Ps 78:57.

CHAPTER 8

Corruption of Cult, Domestic and Foreign Politics

1Put the trumpet to your lips!a

One like an eagle* is over the house of the LORD!

Because they have violated my covenant,

and rebelled against my law,

2They cry out to me,

“My God! We know you!”

3But Israel has rejected what is good;

the enemy* shall pursue him.

4* They made kings, but not by my authority;

they established princes, but without my knowledge.

With their silver and gold

they made idols for themselves,

to their own destruction.

5He has rejected your calf,* Samaria!b

My wrath is kindled against them;

How long will they be incapable of innocence

in Israel?

6An artisan made it,

it is no god at all.c

The calf of Samaria

will be dashed to pieces.

7When they sow the wind,

they will reap the whirlwind;d

The stalk of grain that forms no head

can yield no flour;

Even if it could,

strangers would swallow it.

8Israel is swallowed up;

now they are among the nations,

like a useless vessel.

9For they went up to Assyria—*

a wild ass off on its own—

Ephraim bargained for lovers.e

10Even though they bargain with the nations,

I will now gather them* together;

They will soon succumb

under the burden of king and princes.

11* When Ephraim made many altars to expiate sin,

they became altars for sinning.

12Though I write for him my many instructions,

they are considered like a stranger’s.

13They love sacrifice,

they sacrifice meat and eat it,

but the LORD is not pleased with them.f

Now he will remember their guilt

and punish their sins;g

they shall return to Egypt.* h

14Israel has forgotten his makeri

and has built palaces.

Judah, too, has fortified many cities,

but I will send fire upon his cities,

to devour their strongholds.j

* [8:1] Eagle: perhaps an image for Tiglath-pileser III of Assyria, who overran the land of Israel in 733 B.C. (Jer 48:40; 49:22; Ez 17:3).

* [8:3] Enemy: Assyria.

* [8:4] Hosea is not against the monarchy, but against the conspiracies at the royal court (see note on 7:37). The king should be chosen by God (1 Kgs 19:1516).

* [8:5] Calf: a cultic object introduced by Jeroboam I after the separation of the Northern Kingdom from the Southern Kingdom (1 Kgs 12:2630; cf. Ex 32).

* [8:9] They went up to Assyria: a reference to the politics of appealing to Assyria (cf. 5:13; 7:11). There is a play on the Hebrew word for “wild ass” (pere) and “Ephraim.”

* [8:10] I will now gather them: for judgment and for deportation.

* [8:11] The altars had become places of self-serving worship (cf. v. 13).

* [8:13] Return to Egypt: to punish their violation of the covenant they will experience a reversal of the exodus.

a. [8:1] Jl 2:1.

b. [8:5] 1 Kgs 12:28.

c. [8:6] Ex 20:4; 34:17; Is 40:1920; 44:920; Jer 10:116.

d. [8:7] Jb 4:8; Prv 22:8; 2 Cor 9:6; Gal 6:78.

e. [8:9] Ez 16:3234.

f. [8:13] Am 5:22.

g. [8:13] Jer 14:10.

h. [8:13] Dt 28:68.

i. [8:14] Dt 32:15, 18; Is 51:13.

j. [8:14] Am 1:7, 10, 12, 14; 2:2, 5.

CHAPTER 9

From Days of Celebration to Days of Punishment

1Do not rejoice, Israel,

do not exult like the nations!

For you have prostituted yourself, abandoning your God,

loving a prostitute’s fee

upon every threshing floor.*

2Threshing floor and wine press will not nourish them,

the new wine will fail them.

3They will not dwell in the LORD’s land;

Ephraim will return to Egypt,

and in Assyria they will eat unclean food.

4They will not pour libations of wine to the LORD,

and their sacrifices will not please him.

Their bread will be like mourners’ bread,* a

that makes unclean all who eat of it;

Their food will be for their own appetites;

it cannot enter the house of the LORD.

5What will you do on the festival day,

the day of the LORD’s feast?*

6* When they flee from the devastation,

Egypt will gather them, Memphis will bury them.

Weeds will overgrow their silver treasures,

and thorns, their tents.

7They have come, the days of punishment!

they have come, the days of recompense!

Let Israel know it!

“The prophet is a fool,b

the man of the spirit is mad!”

Because your iniquity is great,

great, too, is your hostility.

8* The watchman of Ephraim, the people of my God, is the prophet;c

yet a fowler’s snare is on all his ways,

hostility in the house of his God.

9They have sunk to the depths of corruption,

as in the days of Gibeah;* d

God will remember their iniquity

and punish their sins.

From Former Glory to a History of Corruption

10Like grapes in the desert,

I found Israel;

Like the first fruits of the fig tree, its first to ripen,e

I looked on your ancestors.

But when they came to Baal-peor* f

and consecrated themselves to the Shameful One,

they became as abhorrent as the thing they loved.

11Ephraim is like a bird:

their glory flies away—

no birth, no pregnancy, no conception.g

12Even though they bring up their children,

I will make them childless, until no one is left.

Indeed, woe to them

when I turn away from them!

13Ephraim, as I saw, was a tree

planted in a meadow;

But now Ephraim will bring out

his children to the slaughterer!

14Give them, LORD!

give them what?

Give them a miscarrying womb,

and dry breasts!h

15All their misfortune began in Gilgal;*

yes, there I rejected them.

Because of their wicked deeds

I will drive them out of my house.

I will love them no longer;

all their princes are rebels.

16* Ephraim is stricken,

their root is dried up;i

they will bear no fruit.j

Were they to bear children,

I would slay the beloved of their womb.

17My God will disown them

because they have not listened to him;

they will be wanderers among the nations.k

* [9:1] Threshing floor: an allusion to harvest festivals in honor of Baal, to whom the Israelites had attributed the fertility of the land; cf. 2:7.

* [9:4] Mourners’ bread: bread eaten at funeral rites (Dt 26:14). The presence of a corpse also made all food prepared in that house unclean (Jer 16:57).

* [9:5] The LORD’s feast: probably the important autumn feast of Booths, the most important of the Israelite public celebrations (Lv 23:34).

* [9:6] Instead of gathering for celebration (v. 5), they will be gathered for death. Memphis: known for the monumental pyramid tombs. Silver treasures: the silver statues of Baal (8:4).

* [9:8] Prophets, like Hosea himself, are called to be sentinels for Israel, warning Israel of God’s coming wrath (see Ez 3:17; 33:7), but often meet rejection.

* [9:9] The days of Gibeah: the precise allusion is not clear. Perhaps it is a reference to the outrage committed at Gibeah in the days of the judges (Jgs 1921), or to questions surrounding Saul’s kingship at Gibeah (1 Sm 10:26; 14:2; 22:6).

* [9:10] Baal-peor: where the Israelites consecrated themselves for the first time to Baal (Nm 25; see note on Hos 5:12). Baal is here called the Shameful One.

* [9:15] Gilgal: possibly a reference to Saul’s disobedience to Samuel (1 Sm 13:714; 15), or to the idolatry practiced in that place (see note on Hos 4:15).

* [9:16] Wordplay on the Hebrew word for “fruit” (peri) and Ephraim (see note on 8:9). The whole passage (vv. 1017) presents a reversal of Ephraim’s name (Gn 41:52). He will have no fruit, a condition which will result in extinction.

a. [9:4] Dt 26:14.

b. [9:7] 2 Kgs 9:11; Jn 10:20.

c. [9:8] Jer 6:17; Ez 3:17; 33:2, 6, 7.

d. [9:9] Jgs 1921.

e. [9:10] Is 28:4; Jer 2:2.

f. [9:10] Nm 25.

g. [9:11] Dt 28:18.

h. [9:14] Jb 3:1112; Lk 23:29.

i. [9:16] Am 2:9.

j. [9:16] Mt 21:19.

k. [9:17] Gn 4:12, 14; Dt 28:6465.

CHAPTER 10

Destruction of Idolatrous Cultic Objects

1a Israel is a luxuriant vine

whose fruit matches its growth.

The more abundant his fruit,

the more altars he built;

The more productive his land,

the more sacred pillars* he set up.

2Their heart is false!

Now they will pay for their guilt:

God will break down their altars

and destroy their sacred pillars.

3For now they will say,

“We have no king!*

Since we do not fear the LORD,

the king—what could he do for us?”

4They make promises,

swear false oaths, and make covenants,

While lawsuits sprout

like poisonous weeds* in the furrows of a field!

5The inhabitants of Samaria are afraid

for the calf of Beth-aven;*

Its people mourn for it

and its idolatrous priests wail over it,

—over its glory which has departed from it.b

6It too will be carried to Assyria,

as an offering to the great king.* c

Ephraim will be put to shame,

Israel will be shamed by his schemes.

7Samaria and her king will disappear,

like a twig upon the waters.

8The high places of Aven* will be destroyed,

the sin of Israel;

thorns and thistles will overgrow their altars.

Then they will cry out to the mountains, “Cover us!”

and to the hills, “Fall upon us!”d

War Because of Israel’s Wickedness

9Since the days of Gibeahe

you have sinned, Israel.

There they took their stand;

will war not reach them in Gibeah?

Against a perverse people

10I came and I chastised them;

Peoples will be gathered against them

when I bind them to their two crimes.*

11Ephraim was a trained heifer,

that loved to thresh;

I myself laid a yoke

upon her beautiful neck;

I will make Ephraim break ground, Judah must plow,

Jacob must harrow for himself:

12“Sow for yourselves justice,

reap the reward of loyalty;

Break up for yourselves a new field,f

for it is time to seek the LORD,

till he comes and rains justice upon you.”g

13But you have plowed wickedness,

reaped perversity,

and eaten the fruit of falsehood.

Because you have trusted in your own power,

and in your many warriors,h

14The clamor of war shall break out among your people

and all your fortresses shall be ravaged

As Salman ravaged Beth-arbel* on the day of war,

smashing mothers along with their children.i

15So it will be done to you, Bethel,

because of your utter wickedness:

At dawn* the king of Israel

will utterly disappear.

* [10:1] Sacred pillars: see note on 3:4.

* [10:3] No king: the instability of the monarchy (7:37) and its vassalage to foreign kings (7:816) render the monarchy ineffective. The kings do the opposite of what they are supposed to do (10:4).

* [10:4] Lawsuits…like poisonous weeds: the administration of justice, which should have been the mainstay of the people, has in corrupt hands become another instrument of oppression; cf. Am 6:12.

* [10:5] The calf of Beth-aven: see note on 4:15.

* [10:6] The great king: a title used by the Assyrian kings. See also note on 5:13.

* [10:8] Aven: wickedness, first of all at Bethel (v. 5), but also at all the high places.

* [10:10] Two crimes: the allusion is not clear; a possible reference is the outrage described in Jgs 19.

* [10:14] As Salman ravaged Beth-arbel: perhaps Salamanu, king of Moab, mentioned in an inscription of Tiglath-pileser III, after an invasion in Gilead (Transjordan), where there was a Beth-arbel, close to present Irbid.

* [10:15] At dawn: normally the moment of God’s victory over Israel’s enemies, and thus his salvation (Is 17:14; Ps 46:6). Here it is a reversal of this expectation.

a. [10:1] Is 5:17.

b. [10:5] 1 Sm 4:2122.

c. [10:6] Am 5:27.

d. [10:8] Is 2:10, 19; Lk 23:30; Rev 6:16.

e. [10:9] Jgs 1921.

f. [10:12] Jer 4:3.

g. [10:12] Is 45:8; Jl 2:23.

h. [10:13] Is 31:1.

i. [10:14] Ps 137:9; Am 1:13.

CHAPTER 11

The Disappointment of a Parent

1* When Israel was a child I loved him,a

out of Egypt* I called my son.b

2The more I called them,

the farther they went from me,

Sacrificing to the Baals

and burning incense to idols.

3Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk,

who took them in my arms;c

but they did not know that I cared for them.

4I drew them with human cords,

with bands of love;*

I fostered them like those

who raise an infant to their cheeks;

I bent down to feed them.d

5He shall return to the land of Egypt,e

Assyria shall be his king,

because they have refused to repent.

6The sword shall rage in his cities:

it shall destroy his diviners,

and devour them because of their schemings.

7My people have their mind set on apostasy;

though they call on God in unison,

he shall not raise them up.

But Love Is Stronger and Restores

8How could I give you up, Ephraim,

or deliver you up, Israel?

How could I treat you as Admah,

or make you like Zeboiim?* f

My heart is overwhelmed,

my pity is stirred.

9I will not give vent to my blazing anger,

I will not destroy Ephraim again;

For I am God and not a man,g

the Holy One present among you;

I will not come in wrath.

10They shall follow the LORD,

who roars like a lion;h

When he roars,

his children shall come frightened from the west,

11Out of Egypt they shall come trembling, like birds,

like doves, from the land of Assyria;

And I will resettle them in their homes,

oracle of the LORD.

* [11:13] After the image of husband-wife (chaps. 13), Hosea uses the image of parent-child (Ex 4:22; Is 1:2; Jer 3:19).

* [11:1] Out of Egypt: Hosea dates the real beginning of Israel from the time of the exodus. Mt 2:15 applies this text to the return of Jesus from Egypt.

* [11:4] I drew them…with bands of love: perhaps a reversal of the yoke imagery of the previous chapter, i.e., not forcing them like draft animals, but drawing them with kindness and affection.

* [11:8] Admah…Zeboiim: cities in the vicinity of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gn 14:2, 8) and destroyed with them (Gn 19:2425; Dt 29:22).

a. [11:1] Dt 7:8; 10:15; Jer 2:19.

b. [11:1] Ex 4:22; Mt 2:15.

c. [11:3] Dt 1:31; 8:5.

d. [11:4] Dt 8:16.

e. [11:5] Dt 17:16.

f. [11:8] Dt 29:22.

g. [11:9] Nm 23:19; Is 31:3; Ez 28:2.

h. [11:10] Jl 4:16; Am 1:2; Jer 25:30.

CHAPTER 12

Infidelity of Israel*

1Ephraim has surrounded me with lies,

the house of Israel, with deceit;

Judah still wanders about with gods,

and is faithful to holy ones.*

2* Ephraim shepherds the wind,

and pursues the east wind all day long.

He multiplies lies and violence:

They make a covenant with Assyria,

and oil is carried to Egypt.

3The LORD has a dispute with Judah,

and will punish Jacob* for his conduct,

and repay him for his deeds.

4In the womb he supplanted his brother,a

and in his vigor he contended with a divine being;

5He contended with an angel and prevailed,b

he wept and entreated him.

At Bethel he met with him,

and there he spoke with him.c

6The LORD is the God of hosts,

the LORD is his name!d

7You must return to your God.

Maintain loyalty and justice

and always hope in your God.

8A merchant who holds a false balance,

he loves to extort!

9Ephraim has said,

“How rich I have become;

I have made a fortune!”e

All his gain will not suffice

for the guilt of his sin.

10I the LORD have been your God,

since the land of Egypt;f

I will again have you live in tents,

as on feast days.

11I spoke to the prophets,

I granted many visions,g

and through the prophets I told parables.

12In Gilead is falsehood, they have come to nothing;

in Gilgal they sacrifice bulls,

But their altars are like heaps of stonesh

in the furrows of the field.

13Jacob fled to the land of Aram,

and Israel served for a wife;

for a wife he tended sheep.i

14But by a prophet* the LORD brought Israel out of Egypt,

and by a prophet Israel was tended.j

15Ephraim has aroused bitter anger,

so his Lord shall cast his bloodguilt upon him

and repay him for his scorn.

* [12:115] This chapter draws a parallel between the history of Israel and events in the life of Jacob-Israel, the ancestor.

* [12:1] An attack on the idolatry of both kingdoms, Israel and Judah. Holy ones: subordinate gods, members of the divine council.

* [12:2] Hosea frequently condemns the alliances with Assyria and Egypt, the two world powers (7:816).

* [12:3] Jacob: whose name was changed to Israel (Gn 35:10).

* [12:14] A prophet: Moses.

a. [12:4] Gn 25:26; 27:3536.

b. [12:5] Gn 32:2530.

c. [12:5] Gn 28:1219; 35:15.

d. [12:6] Ex 3:15; Am 4:13.

e. [12:9] Rev 3:17.

f. [12:10] Ex 20:2.

g. [12:11] Ps 74:9.

h. [12:12] Gn 31:4554; Jos 45.

i. [12:13] Gn 28:5; 29:1530; 30:31.

j. [12:14] Ex 3:710; Dt 18:18.

CHAPTER 13

The Death of Ephraim

1When Ephraim spoke there was terror;

he was exalted in Israel;*

but he became guilty through Baal and died.

2Now they continue to sin,

making for themselves molten images,

Silver idols according to their skill,a

all of them the work of artisans.

“To these, offer sacrifice,” they say.

People kiss calves!* b

3Therefore, they will be like a morning cloud

or like the dew that vanishes with the dawn,

Like chaff storm-driven from the threshing floorc

or like smoke out of the window.

4I, the LORD, am your God,

since the land of Egypt;* d

Gods apart from me you do not know;

there is no savior but me.e

5I fed you in the wilderness,

in the parched land.

6When I fed them, they were satisfied;

when satisfied, they became proud,

therefore they forgot me.

7So, I will be like a lion to them,

like a leopard by the road I will keep watch.

8f I will attack them like a bear robbed of its young,

and tear their hearts from their breasts;

I will devour them on the spot like a lion,

as a wild animal would rip them open.

9* I destroy you, Israel!

who is there to help you?

10Where now is your king,

that he may rescue you?

And all your princes,

that they may defend you?

Of whom you said,

“Give me a king and princes”?g

11I give you a king in my anger,

and I take him away in my wrath.*

12The guilt of Ephraim is wrapped up,

his sin is stored away.

13* The birth pangs will come for him,h

but this is an unwise child,

Who, when it is time, does not present himself

at the mouth of the womb.i

14* Shall I deliver them from the power of Sheol?

shall I redeem them from death?

Where are your plagues, O death!

where is your sting, Sheol!j

Compassion is hidden from my eyes.

15Though Ephraim* may flourish among his brothers,

an east windk will come, a wind from the LORD,

rising from the wilderness,

That will dry up his spring,

and leave his fountain dry.

It will loot his treasury

of every precious thing.

* [13:1] Exalted in Israel: Ephraim enjoyed a privileged position in Israel (Gn 48:1419).

* [13:2] Kiss calves: apparently a reference to a ritual gesture associated with the worship of Baal represented as a calf (1 Kgs 19:18).

* [13:4] I, the LORD…land of Egypt: according to 1 Kgs 12:28, Jeroboam introduced the calves used in the worship at the sanctuaries in Bethel and Dan with the words: “Here are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.”

* [13:910] Only God can save Israel, not the king, whom Israel had requested from the Lord (1 Sm 8:19).

* [13:11] I give you a king…in my wrath: the Lord punished the people of the Northern Kingdom by giving them kings who were soon deposed (see notes on 7:37 and 8:4).

* [13:13] Ephraim will die along with its stored-up sin, just as a mother dies along with a child that she cannot deliver.

* [13:14] God calls upon “death” and “Sheol” to send their auxiliaries, “plagues” and “sting,” to punish Israel (Hb 3:5; Ps 91:6). Paul uses this text in a different way to speak about the victory over death (1 Cor 15:5455).

* [13:15] Although “Ephraim” is not explicitly mentioned in the text (the Hebrew text has the word “he”), the wordplay with the Hebrew word for “flourish” (yaphrî’) suggests the use of “Ephraim” in the translation. Wind: possibly Assyria.

a. [13:2] Is 40:1920; 44:920.

b. [13:2] 1 Kgs 19:18.

c. [13:3] Is 17:13; Zep 2:2; Ps 1:4.

d. [13:4] Ex 20:2.

e. [13:4] Is 43:11.

f. [13:8] 2 Sm 17:8.

g. [13:10] 1 Sm 8:5.

h. [13:13] Is 26:1718; Jer 6:24; 22:23.

i. [13:13] Is 37:3.

j. [13:14] 1 Cor 15:55.

k. [13:15] Ez 19:12.

CHAPTER 14

1Samaria* has become guilty,

for she has rebelled against her God.

They shall fall by the sword,

their infants shall be dashed to pieces,a

their pregnant women shall be ripped open.b

Sincere Conversion and New Life

2Return, Israel, to the LORD, your God;

you have stumbled because of your iniquity.

3Take with you words,

and return to the LORD;

Say to him, “Forgive all iniquity,

and take what is good.

Let us offer the fruit of our lips.c

4* Assyria will not save us,

nor will we mount horses;d

We will never again say, ‘Our god,’

to the work of our hands;

for in you the orphan finds compassion.”e

5I will heal their apostasy,

I will love them freely;

for my anger is turned away from them.

6I will be like the dew for Israel:f

he will blossom like the lily;

He will strike root like the Lebanon cedar,

7and his shoots will go forth.g

His splendor will be like the olive tree

and his fragrance like Lebanon cedar.h

8Again they will live in his shade;

they will raise grain,

They will blossom like the vine,

and his renown will be like the wine of Lebanon.

9Ephraim! What more have I to do with idols?i

I have humbled him, but I will take note of him.

I am like a verdant cypress tree.*

From me fruit will be found for you!

Epilogue

10* Who is wise enough to understand these things?j

Who is intelligent enough to know them?

Straight are the paths of the LORD,k

the just walk in them,l

but sinners stumble in them.

* [14:1] Samaria: the capital of the Northern Kingdom will fall; this is the punishment predicted for Ephraim, the Northern Kingdom.

* [14:4] These good intentions promise a reversal of Israel’s sins: no more reliance on “Assyria,” i.e., on foreign alliances (see notes on 8:9 and 12:2), on “horses,” i.e., on human power (10:13), and on idolatry (8:46; 13:2). Israel will trust in the Lord alone.

* [14:9] Verdant cypress tree: the symbol of lasting life, the opposite of the sacred trees of the Baal cult (4:13). The Lord provides the “fruit” (peri) to Israel (2:7, 10), another instance of the wordplay on Ephraim (see notes on 9:16 and 13:15).

* [14:10] A challenge to the reader in the style of the wisdom literature.

a. [14:1] Ps 137:9.

b. [14:1] Am 1:13.

c. [14:3] Heb 13:15.

d. [14:4] Is 31:1.

e. [14:4] Lam 5:3.

f. [14:6] Is 26:19.

g. [14:7] Is 27:6.

h. [14:7] Sg 4:11.

i. [14:9] 2 Cor 6:16.

j. [14:10] Ps 107:43; Jer 9:11; Eccl 8:1.

k. [14:10] Dt 32:4.

l. [14:10] Dt 8:6; 11:22; Mi 6:8.