How often do we seek comfort from our sin behaviour rather than repenting of it? How often do we seek solace in returning to places of past sin because it appears to be a “good haven”?
As is the case with all of Hebrew Scripture, there are no chapter breaks in the scroll of the 12 Prophets in which Hosea is located. It’s important to see the text of this chapter as a continuation of the previous chapter:
“14 And Israel has forgotten, ignored, wilfully turned from their specific Maker and built temples (to false gods); Judah has become great, multiplying fenced cities. But I will send fire in his cities and devour the palaces.” -Hosea 8:14
1 Don’t tismach rejoice, Yisrael (overcome in God/the Judge), el-giyl with circling joy ka’amiym like other tribes (peoples)! Kiy For zaniyta fornicating you have mei’al gone from Eloheycha your God/Judge. Ahavta You have loved etnan the wages of a prostitute al upon kol-garenot all the threshing floors dagan of grain. 2 Goren Threshing floor vayekev and wine press lo will not yireim feed them, vetirosh and the new wine yechachesh bah will fail them/deceive them.
“For you have erred from the worship of your God; you have loved to serve idols on all, grain floors.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE Aramaic paraphrase)
The Targum understands the text to refer to the setting up of idols on the threshing floors and the attribution of fertility, both agricultural and familial, to those gods. This is consistent with the worship of Ha-Ba’al the Canaanite deity of fertility.
“‘Rejoice not, O Israel’ like the other peoples, for they did not receive a Torah, and they did not come to My lot, but you strayed from Me and lost many benefits.” -Rashi
Rashi understands the text to be an admonishment clarifying the advantage of Torah, and the losses associated with the rejecting of it.
“Don’t rejoice, Yisrael with circling joy like other tribes (peoples)!” Israel is rebuked for rejoicing in idolatrous acts and at the same time warned that her rejoicing will cease.
“For fornicating you [masculine] have gone from your God/Judge.” There is no need to debate whether this is meant literally of actual sex acts done in the worship of false gods or as a general metaphor for idolatry. Both are true. The false choice created by some of our rabbis and numerous Christian theologians only proves to show the depth to which we have sunken into Greco-Roman compartmentalization.
“For you [masculine] have loved the wages of a prostitute…” Here, Israel (northern tribes) are likened to a male temple prostitute, temple prostitution being a vocation found among those who worship false gods.
“You have loved the wages of a prostitute upon all the threshing floors of grain.” This is a metaphor denoting the fact that the northern tribes were celebrating the provision of their grain by giving glory to false gods (Baalim, Ashterot etc.)
“Threshing floor and wine press will not feed them, and the new wine will fail them/deceive them.” The references to both threshing floor (grain) and wine press (grapes, a latter harvest fruit) seem to encapsulate a range of harvest festivals beginning with the early barley harvest (Pesach, Passover, Shavuot [Pentecost], First fruits etc.) and ending with the latter harvests which coincide with the celebration of Sukkot (Dwellings). Tragically, it seems that rather than honour God in the prescribed way (Torah), the northern tribes were either syncretizing and or entirely forsaking the worship Instruction of YHVH, and instead acknowledging other gods as their providers and the means of their fertility.
“the new wine will fail them/deceive them.” This is intentionally ambiguous. The new wine will appear to be plentiful but will be scarce. On the other hand the new wine, when consumed in excess will cause clouded judgement and thus, by inference, deceive the drinker etc.
The threshing floor was not, as some erroneously claim, solely the domain of males. Women were involved in gleaning behind the men, and while the men and women slept separately during the harvest, they nonetheless often remained within close proximity to the fields for the duration.
Sadly one popular “Christian” study Bible compares the prostitution and fornication of the northern tribes (Hosea 9:1-2) with the story of Ruth (3:2-3), inferring that it was common practice for prostitutes to be entertained by the entirely male harvesting crew. This is abhorrent nonsense better suited to playground ignorance than it is to sound Biblical interpretation. In the account of Ruth, Ruth acts in righteous purity, as does Boaz, and the context denotes an exception to common practice. While it may be true to say that during her periods of sin as a nation Israel did entertain prostitutes on the threshing floors, paying them with grain (Rashi, on Genesis Rabbah 57:4), when Israel acted righteously there was no such illicit sexual practice among them. Shame on those who say otherwise.
This metaphorical language continues to emphasise the fact that it is YHVH Who provides, and therefore, He will not continue to do so as long as His people are attributing His provision to other gods. To bless and enable perpetual sin action is to curse. Therefore, HaShem does not bless in these circumstances, rather He allows the curse to manifest so that the result of the discipline which follows will be blessing.
3 Lo yeishevu They will not remain be’eretz in the land of the LORD YHVH (Mercy),
Veshav Efrayim (doubly fruitful) Ephraim will turn back to Mitzrayim Egypt (double distress), uveashur and in Assyria tame yochelu they will eat unclean things.
“They will not remain in the land of the LORD.” This is an explicit statement connecting Ha-Aretz (the Land of Israel) to YHVH Himself. He is the One Who established Tziyon (Isaiah 14:32). The prophets are describing a temporary condition when they say that Israel “will not remain in the land.” After all, the redemptive narrative always begins and bears the fruit of Mercy:
“What answer shall be given to the envoys of that goy nation? ‘The Lord YHVH Mercy, has established Tziyon, and in her His afflicted people will find refuge.’” -Isaiah 14:32
Neither Hosea 9:3 nor any other Scripture, imply that God will not honour His covenant with Abram, Isaac and Jacob, concerning the giving of the land to the people of Israel. To say so is to impugn God’s character. After all, the covenant that initiated the giving of the land to Abram and was then reaffirmed to Isaac and Jacob (Ex. 6:8; 33:1; Lev. 26:42; Deut. 1:8 etc. etc.) was made while Abram was unconscious (Genesis 15), meaning that YHVH alone is bound to fully fill it. Abram’s role was simply one of agreeing to receive YHVH by faith.
“Efrayim (doubly fruitful) Ephraim will turn back to Mitzrayim Egypt (double distress), and in Assyria they will eat unclean things.” The kings of the north, who bear the name “doubly fruitful” will become “doubly distressed”, being exiled to both Egypt and Assyria, the nations whose strength they sought for protection. By trusting in the strength of human beings, governments, false gods, the kings of the north became subject to those things they trusted in rather than accepting their position as heirs to God’s kingdom. Therefore, they would suffer along side the idolatrous nations that surrounded them. All human beings are subjects of God’s Kingdom, but only those who receive adoption as sons and daughters through the King Messiah Yeshua will dwell in God’s Kingdom forever.
“And they will eat unclean things.” The food consumed by these nations did not reflect the kashrut of Torah instruction. Nor was it offered according to YHVH in keeping with Torah guidelines, but was instead offered to false gods. Thus, even that food which might have been permissible for Israel to eat while in exile, was defiled based on its association with false gods. In addition this might be seen as a metaphor for the consumption of false ideals, philosophies and religious beliefs.
Iben Ezra makes an interesting connection between the first clause “They will not remain in the land of the LORD” and the last “And they will eat unclean things.” He rightly understands that this is not to be a permanent state for Israel:
“They shall not sit, neither shall they eat of the unclean thing; for they shall eat in the land of the LORD;” -Iben Ezra, on Hosea 9:3
In short, they will not eat again of clean things until that day they return to the Lord and thus, to the land of the Lord, Ha-Aretz Yisrael (the land of Israel).
4 Lo They don’t yisechu pour out drink offerings la-YHVH yayin of wine to the Lord (Mercy), velo and don’t ye’ervu-lo exchange with Him their zivcheiyhem sacrifices.
kelechem Like the bread oniym of mourners lahem to them kol-ochelayv all who eat yitamau are unclean, defiled, polluted; kiy-lachmam for their bread lenafsham is for their soul, lo yavo it will not come into beit YHVH the house of the Lord (Mercy).
“They don’t pour out drink offerings of wine to the Lord (Mercy), and don’t exchange with Him their sacrifices.” The key here is not the offerings themselves but the One to Whom they should be offered. It is inferred by the earlier indictments of this prophetic work, that Israel was making offerings, but to false gods, and not to the God of Israel, or, if they were offering to Him it was in syncretism with idolatrous practice (calf idols, Ba’alim etc.) and not unto Him alone.
The wine offerings (Lev. 23:13; Num. 15:5, 7, 10; 28:14 etc.) commanded in Torah were to be offered at the place appointed by God (Deut. 12; 16; 26:2: Mt Zion, Jerusalem) once Israel entered the land. Therefore, all the offerings of the north were apostate offerings which could not be said to be offered to YHVH even in those cases where His Name was invoked.
“Like the bread of mourners to them all who eat are unclean, defiled, polluted” In the same way that bread which has been in the house where someone has died is considered ritually unclean (Num. 19:14; Deut. 26:14; Jer. 16:7), the food and offerings of the northern tribes are considered unclean and associated with death, a reflection of their soul condition.
“for their bread is for their soul, it will not come into the house of the Lord.” The bread defiled by dead bodies can be eaten by mourners already defiled but cannot be brought into the House of the Lord. Therefore, the tribes of the north have disqualified themselves from God’s presence (temporarily).
The bread in question is made with yeast and therefore cannot be presented as show bread in the House of the LORD. The Show bread was to be unleavened, in fact no yeast was to be offered on the altar of the LORD or brought inside the Holy place of either Mishkan (Tent of Meeting) or Ha-heyichal (The Temple). The exception concerning the wave offering of the first fruits does not compromise this Torah requirement because it is waved before the LORD, and neither offered on the altar nor brought into the Temple.
Yeast always represents sin in Hebrew Scripture. In fact, yeast represents sin in all Scripture, including the New Testament (written in Greek by Jews, thinking as Jews and using Hebrew symbolism accordingly). Therefore, the metaphorical meaning of the present text illuminates the fact that intentional and perpetual sin is not allowed to cohabitate with the godly in the presence of the Holy God of Israel.
They have sought bread for themselves and have kept it from the House of the Lord (Temple), and as a result their priests have not been feed, those Levites (of the north) left to find other employment, had abandoned the teaching and passing on of Torah so that the spiritual condition of the people deteriorated due to their own neglecting of God’s Instruction.
5 Mah What ta’asu will you accomplish leyom on the day of moeid an appointed time (festival), uleyom and on the day of chag a feast of YHVH (Mercy) the Lord?
This rhetorical question is posed almost sardonically by the prophet. “If you’ve defiled the Lord’s appointed times “moadim” with idolatry, and have defiled yourselves with the bread of the dead, what do you think will result, other than your demise?”
6 Kiy-hineih For behold, now, pay attention, halechu they will walk mishod from destruction; Mitzrayim Egypt (double distress) tekabetzem will assemble them, Mof Memphis (haven of good) tekaberem will bury them. Machmad The delight lechaspam of their silver kimos yirasheim will be possessed by thistles, choach be’oholeiyhem thorns in their tents.
“They will walk from destruction…” This means that based on the impending destruction from Assyria, the people were already leaving for other lands, in particular, they were returning to Egypt as a “good haven” (the meaning of Memphis).
“Egypt will assemble them, Memphis (haven of good) will bury them.” Those who flee to Egypt for help, trusting in Egypt rather than in YHVH, will perish in the city they saw as a “good haven” (Memphis). This is in part a reminder of the consequences which God had previously warned the nation of in Deuteronomy 28.
“The Lord will send you back in ships to Egypt on a journey I said you should never make again. There you will offer yourselves for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but no one will buy you.” -Deuteronomy 28:68 (NIV)
How often do we seek comfort from our sin behaviour rather than repenting of it? How often do we seek solace in returning to places of past sin because it appears to be a “good haven”?
“The delight of their silver will be possessed by thistles, thorns in their tents.” The silver they had delighted in in the Land of Israel, which they had perhaps hidden intending to return for it, would be overgrown by thistles. As they travel into exile, be it to Egypt or to Assyria, while they dwell in tents on the journey they will suffer the torments of the wild (thorns). The Aramaic Targum Yonatan understands the Hebrew choach to represent wild beasts of the wilderness.
7 Bau yemeiy hapekudah Days have come of the visitation, bau yemeiy hashilum days have come of retribution; yeideu make it known to Yisrael! Eviyl hanaviy The prophet is a fool, meshuga iysh haruach a man of the spirit, al because rov there is a multitude avonecha of your perverseness, iniquity, verabah masteimah and great is your animosity.
“Days have come of the visitation, days have come of retribution;” The just punishment of the northern tribes is at hand. Israel will receive the wages of sin, just as she had received the wages of a prostitute.
“make it known to Israel! ‘The prophet is a fool, a man of the spirit’, because there is a multitude of your perverseness, iniquity, and great is your animosity.” In 2 Kings 9:11 the companions of Yehu (Jehu) call the prophet sent to him by Elisha “ham’shuga” the fool, crazy person. The inference here seems to be that the prophet of God, considered a fool by the wicked, is in fact foolish to believe that such a wicked group of people would repent, given their intentional perversity and constant animosity toward God.
In the following verse Ephraim (Israel’s kings) is referred to as watchman and prophet, but is clearly apostate in both roles and therefore not “a man of the Spirit”. This eliminates Ephraim as a candidate for prophet in the present verse.
8 Tzopeh Efrayim Ephraim was a watchman im-Elohay with my God, naviy a prophet;
pach yakosh a snare of a bird catcher al-kol-derachayv upon all his ways,
masteimah there is animosity beveit Elohayv in the house of his Judge (God).
Ephraim, representing the kings of the northern tribes, was to watch over the tribes of the north and with God, given the opportunity to have prophetic voice and godly influence.
“a snare of a bird catcher upon all his ways, there is animosity in the house of his Judge (God).” However, the kings of the north instead kept watch against those who sought to worship God in Jerusalem and appointed their own false prophets who were not men “of the Spirit”. In doing so Ephraim ensnared himself and in showing animosity toward the House of the LORD, received animosity from the house of his Judge (God).
We note that YHVH is Named as “Elohayv” in the latter clause which denotes judgement against Ephraim (the northern kings).
Kimchi, Yarchi and Rashi all claim that this refers to the murder of Zechariah by Joash, recorded in 2 Chronicles 24:17-27. But this is not the case. Joash was a king of Judah and not of the northern tribes.
9 Hemiyku-shicheitu They’ve become deeply corrupted, kiymeiy like the days hagivah of the Gibeah (hill); yizkor remembering avonam their perversity yifkod He will number, punish chatotam their sin, uncleanses.
“They’ve become deeply corrupted, like the days of the Gibeah…” The Hebrew shachat (corrupt) is the same word used of Israel’s idolatry concerning the golden calf of Sinai (Ex. 32:7; Deut. 9:12; 32:5).
“Gibeah” may refer to Gibeah of Benjamin (Judges 19) and the abhorrent actions of that tribe regarding the concubine/wife of a Levite from Ephraim. Alternatively it may refer to Gibeah of Saul (1 Samuel 15) where Israel rebelled against the words of the prophet Samuel and demanded a king like those who ruled the other nations.
While the rebellion against God’s Kingship is wicked and a root of further rebellion, it seems more likely that Gibeah of Benjamin is meant because a process of descent into deep corruption resulting in vile sin is inferred by the context and qualifying language. It was said of the vile nature of the sin in Gibeah Benjamin, “Such a thing has never been seen or done, not since the day the Israelites came up out of Egypt.” Some liken the sin of the men of Benjamin (Judges 19) to that of the men of Sodom (Genesis 19). This adds weight to my interpretation. The subject of Egyptian bondage is poignant, making sense of the correlation between the then present depravity of the northern tribes and the historical depravity of Benjamin at Gibeah (Judges 19).
“22 While they were enjoying themselves, some of the wicked men of the city surrounded the house. Pounding on the door, they shouted to the old man who owned the house, “Bring out the man who came to your house so we can have sex with him.” 23 The owner of the house went outside and said to them, “No, my friends, don’t be so vile. Since this man is my guest, don’t do this outrageous thing. 24 Look, here is my virgin daughter, and his concubine. I will bring them out to you now, and you can use them and do to them whatever you wish. But as for this man, don’t do such an outrageous thing.” 25 But the men would not listen to him. So the man took his concubine and sent her outside to them, and they raped her and abused her throughout the night, and at dawn they let her go. 26 At daybreak the woman went back to the house where her master was staying, fell down at the door and lay there until daylight. 27 When her master got up in the morning and opened the door of the house and stepped out to continue on his way, there lay his concubine, fallen in the doorway of the house, with her hands on the threshold. 28 He said to her, “Get up; let’s go.” But there was no answer. Then the man put her on his donkey and set out for home. 29 When he reached home, he took a knife and cut up his concubine, limb by limb, into twelve parts and sent them into all the areas of Israel. 30 Everyone who saw it was saying to one another, “Such a thing has never been seen or done, not since the day the Israelites came up out of Egypt. Just imagine! We must do something! So speak up!” -Judges 19:22-30 (NIV)
“remembering their perversity He will number, punish their sin, uncleanses.” HaShem chooses to cover sin that is repented of through blood, but does not cover unrepentant sin and thus “remembers” it unto just punishment. He “numbers” it as a debt against godly morality.
We note that the Hebrew avon means perversity, premeditated perversion that exceeds basic sin, and that excessive types of sin are numbered according to the degree to which they miss the mark chata set by God’s holy standard (Torah).
It’s not true to say that all sin is the same. It’s true that “all have sinned” and that any sin great or small separates us from God’s holiness, but, this concerns the salvation of the person (neshama) unto eternal life and does not negate degrees of sin within time and space. Within time and space murder is worse than stealing but both are sin that separate us from God’s holiness. Within time and space the consequences of these sins differ, as do the commanded punishments for them.
1. "Now if someone murders a person, that one must be put to death." -Leviticus 24:17
2. "If someone steals an ox or a sheep and slaughters it or sells it, he shall pay five oxen for the ox and four sheep for the sheep." -Exodus 22:1
10 Ka’anaviym Like grapes bamidbar (in-from-thing/word/essence) in the wilderness matzatiy I found Yisrael; kevikurah like the first ripe fruit vite’einah on the fig tree bereishiytah in the beginning raiytiy I saw avoteichem your fathers heimah who ba’u came to Ba’al-peor (Master, Husband, Lord of a gap, cleft) vayinazeru and separated themselves laboshet unto shame, vayihyu and they became shikutziym as detestable abominations (idols) keohovam according to their loving.
“Like grapes in the wilderness I found Yisrael; like the first ripe fruit on the fig tree in the beginning…” Grapes are rare in the desert, as are figs. The delight of finding such fruit is incredible, overwhelming, redemptive, satisfying. This was how the choosing of Israel as a people began in HaShem’s sight. However, this was soon turned to heartbreak as a result of Israel’s unfaithfulness.
“your fathers who came to Ba’al-peor (Master, Husband, Lord of a gap, cleft) and separated themselves unto shame, and they became as detestable abominations (idols) according to their loving.” This is an allusion to the sin of Israel described in Numbers 25 (ref. Deut. 4:3-4), where they allowed themselves to be seduced by the women of Moab and entered into idolatry. Rashi interprets the last line of this verse as “when they loved the daughters of Moab.” The “fathers” is a reference to the forebears of Israel who left Egypt and not to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
In using this reference to Israel’s past sin the prophet is also reminding the righteous remnant of the way that HaShem dealt with that sin:
“Your eyes have seen what the Lord has done in the case of Baal-peor, for all the men who followed Baal-peor, the Lord your God has destroyed [a]them from among you. 4 But you who clung to the Lord your God are alive today, every one of you.” -Deuteronomy 4:3-4 (NASB)
It is no coincidence that Ba’al-peor means Lord of a gap. Nor is it a coincidence that the next phrase says “and separated”. The god of the gap is the one who acted to separate itself (angelic being) from YHVH and thus tempted humanity to do the same. His name is Ha-Satan (the accuser), the Serpent of Genesis.
11 Efrayim, kaof like a bird yitofeif will fly away, kevodam so will be their glories mileidah from birth umibeten and from the womb umeiheirayin and from conception!
“Ephraim like a bird that flies away” A trained bird that leaves its master behind and seeks sustenance elsewhere.
“their glories from birth and from the womb and from conception.” The glories of a husband and wife are their children. Due to Ephraim’s sin the children of the northern tribes will die at each point of development. Some at birth, some during gestation, and some the moment they are conceived. This is a consequence of the abuse suffered by the body when sexual sin spreads disease and repeated intentional abortions leave damage that makes carrying a child to full term impossible. It is chilling to read this regression of baby deaths in light of the modern (legal) practice of abortions from conception (day after pill) up to birth (now allowed for through legislation introduced by governing bodies in many western countries including my own). In one sense this text written more than two and a half thousand years ago is an indictment against all abortions, past, present and future.
12 Kiy For im-yegadelu though they attempt to bring up et-beneiyhem their children, veshikaltiym and I will cause them to miscarry, meiadam from a man (their humanity) kiy-gam-oiy likewise also alas, woe. Besuriy meihem When I depart from them!
This does not mean that HaShem murders babies and children but that He allows human beings to exercise their freewill in sinning against their own bodies. Therefore, God is in control and the cause of the miscarriages is man’s rejection of God and His Instruction. God does not force Himself upon His wife Israel. If she refuses Him, He leaves like a gentleman. And when a gentleman leaves, there is room in the house for an abusive man to enter. Thus, “Woe, when I depart from them.”
13 Efrayim, ka’asher-raiytiy whom I have seen, leTzor in Tyre (a rock) shetulah is transplanted venaveh in a pasture; ve’efrayim But Ephraim lehotziy will bring forth el-horeig banayv his children for murder.
Tyre was an ancient Phoenician port city to the north of Israel. It is the fourth largest city in modern Lebanon (approx. 15km north of Akko on the Mediterranean coast). Ancient Tyre controlled area bordering ancient Israel, and was often but not always a friend of Israel. It’s noteworthy that the allotment of land to the tribe of Asher (recorded in Joshua 13:1-22:34) included a third of the latter Phoenician kingdom.
Tyre was wealthy and comfortable at the time of Hosea’s prophecy, and Ephraim (Israel’s kings) may have traded there. However, the kings of the north will be transplanted into a pasture where their children will be raised only to be murdered by their enemies and the overlords of their impending exile.
The text may also be alluding to the fact that Tyre, situated in a good location by the sea, with abundant wealth, being well fortified, seemed secure from all enemies like Ephraim (kings of the north representing the ten tribes of the northern kingdom of Israel). However, Tyre would first be conquered by Nebuchadnezzar (573 BCE), and then by Alexander (332 BCE) and thus meet its doom and the slaughter of its children. In the same way Ephraim (the northern kingdom), would meet her destruction at the hand of the Assyrians (732 BCE).
On the other hand the phrasing “Efrayim, whom I have seen in Tyre is transplanted in a pasture…” may simply mean that at that time, due to the proximity of the northern tribes to the Phoenician border, it may be that the kings of the north had stock in the lower part of the area governed by Tyre’s rulers.
Rashi sees the text as referring to the sacrificing of children to idols:
“Ephraim, as I saw Tyre in its tranquility, enjoying royalty and wealth more than all the provinces, so did I see Ephraim, planted in a dwelling place. But Ephraim what recompense did he recompense Me? He occupied himself with taking his children out to the slayer, to slaughter them in worship of the idols. So did Jonathan translate.” -Rashi
“they of the house of Ephraim have sinned in slaying their children to the service of idols;'” -Targum Yonatan
Once again, the prophet Hosea, speaking in the Spirit of God, is simply stating the fact that Ephraim is guilty of the deaths of her own children. God is not to blame.
14 Tein-lahem YHVH Give to them, Lord (Mercy)--mah what titein will You give? Tein-lahem Give them rechem mashkil a barren womb veshadayim and breasts tzomekiym dried up.
This appears harsh but is rather a statement of mercy in response to a rhetorical question concerning the vile behaviour of the northern kings.
YHVH denotes Mercy. Therefore, we could read “Give to them Mercy”. What would be the merciful thing to give in the case of children who are being raised to idolatry? The merciful thing would be barrenness.
“The prophet prays that they should die when young, for the mourning for a child is not as bad as the mourning for an adult. Therefore, if it is impossible that they die from birth, from the womb, or from conception, for it was already decreed from the Creation of the world, (Gen. 3:l6) “And to your husband shall be your longing,” give them quickly in their childhood what you say to give to them after a time, for You said, “For, if they raise their children. I will bereave them.” [from Pesikta Rabbathi 45:3]” -Rashi
For it is better not to raise children at all, than to raise them unto sin, idolatry, self-destruction and death everlasting.
15 Kol All ra’atam their evil bagilgal is in Gilgal (rolling, wheel); kiy for sham there seneitiym I hated them! Al roa Upon the wickedness ma’aleiyhem of their practices mibeiytiy from My house agaresheim I will expel them! Lo oseif ahavatam I will no longer increase love to them; kol-sareiyhem All their princes sore’iym are revolters, rebels.
“Gilgal” is thought to be the same as Gibeath-haaraloth, the location where Joshua renewed the covenant of circumcision (Joshua 5:3), following which the Passover was celebrated for the first time in the promised land (5:10). It was to Gilgal that the ark of the covenant was returned each day after the children of Israel paraded it around Jericho (Joshua 6:11). It’s where the Gibeonites made their treaty with Israel (9:3).
Samuel the prophet made Gilgal one of the three places where he held circuit court (1 Samuel 7:14).It was at Gilgal that Samuel killed Agag the king of the Amalekites (1 Samuel 15:33).
Saul was both crowned and rejected as king at Gilgal (1 Samuel 11:14, 15).
Both Hosea and Amos refer to Gilgal as a centre for idolatry (Hosea 4:15; 9:15; 12:11; Amos 4:4; 5:5).
Elisha made Gilgal his headquarters for a time (2 Kings 2:1; 4:38). Gilgal also known as Beit Gilgal (Nehemiah 12:29).
Speaking of Gilgal Rashi says:
“There they worshipped idols to a great extent (on high places, absent in mss.). Since the Mishkan (Tent of meeting) was there first, the prophets of Baal would tell them that was a choice site, and it belonged to the kings of Israel.” -Rashi on Hosea 9:15
“there I hated them!” can also be read “made a foe of them”. Hate here is the counterpoint to love. The language means to emphasise the fact that what Israel had done was abhorrent because they had made a place that was once a location of the Mishkan (Tent of Meeting: the portable Temple) into a place of heinous idolatry and desecration. Hate therefore, is not too strong a word for the just response of God to their vile sin.
“Upon the wickedness of their practices from My house I will expel them!” Due to the depths of depravity that the northern tribes had sunk, they will be removed from the land, expelled from the House of God. Ironic, given that they had wilfully rejected the temple cult and had instead set up their own places of worship to false gods in the north. Not to mention their fowl syncretism when likening HaShem to the calf idols of Bethel and Dan. The northern tribes had removed themselves from God. Now, He simply gives them a push on their way out of the land. Their exile is the result of their sin.
“I will no longer increase love toward them” This simply means, that like a spurned husband, God will not continue to chase after a woman who refuses to return to Him.
“All their princes are rebels.” Alludes to the fact that the rebellious kings of the north have born rebellious children and that they perpetuated rebellion against YHVH and His moral law.
16 Hukan Struck down is Efrayim, sharesham their root yaveish dried up, periy val-ya’asun gam also hardly fruiting. Kiy For though they will yeileidun bring forth children, vehematiy yet I will kill machamadiy the precious ones vitenam in their womb.
The striking down of Ephraim, while it inevitably refers to the tribes of the north in a general sense, nonetheless specifically denotes the end of the kingship of the north. Thus, “Their root dried up…”
Any potential progeny will die in the womb. “I will kill them” like “I will cause them” (v.12), alludes to God’s control over the ordered universe and simply conveys the idea that God has allowed them to make their own sinful choices and suffer the natural consequences of those choices.
17 Yim’aseim He has cast them off, rejected them Elohay My Judge/God, kiy for lo shameu lo they have not listened, received, comprehended Him; veyihyu And they have become nodediym retreating wanderers bagoyim in the nations.
God has cast off the kings of the north and rejected them. He has cast off the particular wicked generation of Hosea’s day and has sent them into exile. He has not cast off or rejected all Israel forever (as some fools suggest). If that were true we would have to remove large portions of Scripture which promise to the contrary that God will never perpetually forsake Israel whom He has chosen as a people for Himself. Israel, like Judah, is first and foremost an ethnic noun referring to the person Jacob and his blood descendants who are now known as Jews (Y’hudiym) and continue to find their place in God’s redemptive purposes for all humanity through Yeshua the promised King Messiah of the Jews.
“27 Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of mankind and the seed of animals. 28 And just as I have watched over them to uproot them, tear them down, ruin, destroy, and bring disaster on them, so I will watch over them to build and to plant them,” declares the Lord.
29 “In those days they will no longer say,
‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes,
[m]But it is the children’s teeth that have become blunt.’
30 But everyone will die for his own wrongdoing; each person who eats the sour grapes, his own teeth will become blunt.
31 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant which I made with their fathers on the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. 33 “For this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord: “I will put My law within them and write it on their heart; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34 They will not teach again, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their wrongdoing, and their sin I will no longer remember.”
35 This is what the Lord says,
He who gives the sun for light by day
And the [n]fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night,
Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar--
The Lord of armies is His name:
36 “If [o]this fixed order departs
From Me,” declares the Lord,
“Then the descendants of Israel also will cease
To be a nation before Me [p]forever.”
37 This is what the Lord says:
“If the heavens above can be measured
And the foundations of the earth searched out below,
Then I will also reject all the descendants of Israel
For everything that they have done,” declares the Lord.
38 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when the city will be rebuilt for the Lord from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate. 39 The measuring line will go out farther straight ahead, to the hill Gareb; then it will turn to Goah. 40 And the entire valley of the dead bodies and of the ashes, and all the fields as far as the brook Kidron to the corner of the Horse Gate toward the east, shall be holy to the Lord; it will not be uprooted or overthrown ever again.” -Yermiyahu (Jeremiah 31:27-40 (NASB)
The only “spiritual Jew” is an ethnic Jew, the only “Israel of God” are Jews who are redeemed through Yeshua.
Copyright 2021 Yaakov Brown
Spiritual leader of Beth Melekh Community, Auckland, Aotearoa, N.Z.