Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, June 16th, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Hosea 5

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-15

Shall we begin tonight with chapter 5.

In chapter 5, Hosea the prophet speaks for the Lord unto the priests and unto the princes of Israel, unto the house of the king.

Hear ye this, O priests; hearken, you house of Israel; give ear, house of the king; for judgment is toward you, because you have been a snare on Mizpah, and have spread a net upon Tabor ( Hsa Hosea 5:1 ).

Now Tabor is a mountain that is very prominent in the area of the Galilee. It is easy to spot because it a round domed mountain. Constantine's mother Helena felt that that was the spot were Jesus was transfigured and so they built some churches of transfiguration on top of Tabor. But from scriptural evidence, inasmuch as Jesus went into a high mountain apart, it probably wasn't Tabor because it isn't really very high and it's not apart; it's right in the center of things. He was probably transfigured on Mount Hermon. Now Mizpah was one of the peaks at Mount Hermon. Tabor in the middle of the country, that is of Samaria, and Mizpah up in the northern end near Lebanon.

According to tradition, when the Northern Kingdom established the Northern Empire, Jeroboam was quite concerned about the people returning to Jerusalem to worship. And so he instituted the calf worship in the Northern Kingdom and he set up centers of worship in Bethel and in Dan. And his fear was that if they continued to go back to Jerusalem for the feast, that their hearts might be again united with the king of Judah. So he sought to keep them from returning. Now, they say that there were men who would stand on Tabor and stand on Mizpah to watch to see if anyone was returning to Jerusalem during the feast period, in order that they might fall upon them and destroy them. So they would set a snare or a trap for those who might be going down to Jerusalem to worship.

That's one view. The other, which I feel is probably more legitimate, because there's several objections to that. Number one, you can get to Jerusalem without being seen from Tabor quite easily. If you were going through the Jordan valley, there's no way they would see you from Tabor. And actually, again, from the area of the northern Galilee you couldn't really tell too much from Mount Mizpah. The other is that this was a great area for hawking, for bird snaring. And the picture is these fellows setting their bird snares, the fowlers who were setting their bird snares, those that were hawking in these areas. And so it becomes a picture of these who have spread their snare on Mizpah and their net was spread upon Tabor.

The revolters [he said] are profound to make slaughter ( Hsa Hosea 5:2 ),

When they offer their sacrifices unto the gods in the Northern Kingdom they would do it with great flare. Again, trying to make a big deal out of it so all of the people would be in awe. So that is what is meant by "profound to make slaughter."

Though [the Lord said,] I've been the rebuker of them all. I know Ephraim [the major tribe of the Northern Kingdom] and Israel is not hid from me: for now, O Ephraim, you are committing whoredom, and Israel is defiled. They will not frame their doings to turn unto their God: for the spirit of whoredoms is in the midst of them, and they have not known the LORD. The pride of Israel doth testify to his face: therefore shall Israel and Ephraim fall in their iniquity; and Judah also shall fall with them ( Hsa Hosea 5:2-5 ).

So, because they had turned from God and were worshiping these false gods, that was always considered by God as whoredom. "You've gone away from the true and the living God. You're worshiping Baal or you're worshiping the other idols," and God looked upon that as spiritual adultery, as whoredom. And because of it, they are going to fall. And here's a prediction of the fall, not only of the Northern Kingdom of Israel but also the Southern Kingdom of Judah.

Now they shall go with their flocks and with their herds to seek the LORD; but they shall not find him; for he has withdrawn himself from them ( Hsa Hosea 5:7 ).

Though they tried to return to God with a lot of sacrifices and all, God said, "I've withdrawn from them. They won't find me."

They have dealt treacherously against the LORD: for they have begotten strange children: now shall a month devour them with their portions. Blow the cornet in Gibeah, the trumpet in Ramah: cry aloud at Bethaven, after thee, O Benjamin. For Ephraim shall be desolate in the day of rebuke: among the tribes of Israel have I made known that which shall surely be ( Hsa Hosea 5:7-9 ).

So God declares that, "I declare to you what's gonna surely come to pass."

The princes of Judah like them that remove the boundaries: therefore I will pour out my wrath upon them like water ( Hsa Hosea 5:10 ).

Now, when the Northern Kingdom was going to fall, Judah, rather than mourning over the fact that the Northern Kingdom had fallen, looked upon it eagerly as an opportunity to expand its boundaries. Inasmuch as Assyria is attacking from the north and all, if Israel falls to Assyria then Judah was looking at it as an opportunity to expand its borders. And so the Lord rebukes them for this attitude. Rather than mourning and lamenting over the fact that the Northern Kingdom had fallen, they were eager for the opportunity to expand their borders.

therefore [the Lord declares] I will also pour out my wrath upon them like water. Ephraim is oppressed and broken in judgment, because they willingly walked after the commandment. Therefore will I be unto Ephraim as a moth, [that is, eating it] and unto the house of Judah as rottenness. When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah saw his wound, then went Ephraim to the Assyrian, and sent to king Jareb: yet could he not heal you, nor cure you of your wound. For I will be unto Ephraim as a lion, and a young lion to the house of Judah: I, even I, will tear and go away; I will take away, and none shall rescue him. I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offense, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early ( Hsa Hosea 5:10-15 ).

Now, the Lord is here speaking of how that they turn to the arm of flesh for help. In the time of their calamity, rather than really turning to God, they turn to the Assyrians and looking for the arm of flesh to help them. On the way out this evening, I was talking with my son in-laws; we were riding together in the car. And I was remarking to him as we were talking about the book of Acts and the work of the Holy Spirit in the early church, I was remarking how tragic it is that the church has sought to substitute the wisdom of man for the work of the Holy Spirit. For the day that we felt that we no longer needed that dynamic work of the Spirit to guide and to direct the affairs of the church, and having gone to seminary and gotten our degrees we feel that we now have the capacity, we have the understanding. After all, don't we have a minor in sociology and don't we understand human behavior and don't we know how to manipulate people? And the church has trusted in the wisdom and the abilities of man rather than in the work and in the power of the Holy Spirit, and that is why the church is so weak today.

Looking to the arm of flesh, looking to the abilities of the flesh to do the work of the Spirit. This was the sin of Ephraim. Looking to the arm of flesh, looking to Assyria for help when ultimately Assyria would be the rod that God would use to punish Ephraim. Now, in verse Hosea 5:15 the Lord said that He was going to go and return to His place. You're not gonna find me, I'm just gonna leave them until they acknowledge their offense. Until they actually acknowledge, "We are wrong. We have turned our backs against God. We have broken the covenant of God. We've transgressed His law." God said, "I'm not... I'm just gonna return to My place until they come to this acknowledgment and they begin to seek My face. In their affliction they will seek Me early." Talking really of the Great Tribulation, the time of Jacob's trouble, when they will be afflicted they will then seek the Lord. "In their affliction they will seek Me early."

Now it is extremely unfortunate that they placed the chapter break here. They should have place the chapter break maybe at the end of verse Hosea 5:3 . And chapter 6 probably should have started there, because we have in our minds that crazy tendency when we come to a chapter to say, "Well, that's the end of that chapter, now we've got a whole new thought or something." But it's carried right on through.

God has said, "I'm going to return and turn to My place, till they acknowledge their offense, they seek My face, and in their affliction they seek Me early."


Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Hosea 5". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/hosea-5.html. 2014.
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