Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, July 17th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Hosea 11

Dr. Constable's Expository NotesConstable's Expository Notes

Verses 4-7

A. More messages on coming judgment 6:4-11:7

The subject of Israel’s ingratitude is particularly prominent in these messages. Each of the two major messages of judgment ends with a reference to Israel returning to Egypt (Hosea 8:13; Hosea 11:5). The message on restoration that follows these two (Hosea 11:8-11) refers to the Israelites returning from Egypt (Hosea 11:11).

Verses 4-11


This section of the book contains another series of messages that deal, first, with the judgment coming on Israel and, second, the restoration that will follow. There are three major addresses in this section each introduced by a direct address (Hosea 6:4; Hosea 9:1; Hosea 11:8).

Verses 1-7

2. Israel’s inevitable judgment 9:1-11:7

This section of prophecies continues to record accusations against Israel, but the emphasis on the inevitability of coming judgment increases. Also in contrast to chapter 8, this section is not a speech by Yahweh but one that Hosea delivered about Him. [Note: See Charles H. Silva, "The Literary Structure of Hosea 9-14," Bibliotheca Sacra 164:656 (October-December 2007):435-53, for a literary analysis of this section of Hosea.]

Verse 1

The Lord reminded His people that when Israel was in its early days as a nation, like a youth, He loved the nation (cf. Exodus 4:22-23). As often, loving refers to choosing (cf. Genesis 12:2-3). God chose Israel for special blessing among the world’s nations and in this sense loved him. He called and led His "son" Israel out of bondage in Egypt (cf. Deuteronomy 14:1; Deuteronomy 32:6; Isaiah 1:2-20; Jeremiah 3:19; Jeremiah 3:22; Jeremiah 4:22; Jeremiah 31:9; Jeremiah 31:20).

"We need not find the slightest difficulty in Israel’s being called Jehovah’s son and not His wife. In a book of so many brief and normally unconnected oracles, with their wealth of metaphors and pictorial imagery, it is worse than pedantic to see a contradiction." [Note: Ellison, p. 143.]

Matthew wrote that Jesus Christ fulfilled this verse (Matthew 2:15). Jesus did so in that as the Son of God in another sense God the Father called and led Him out of Egypt when He was a child. Matthew did not mean that Hosea had Jesus Christ in mind or predicted His exodus from Egypt when he wrote but that Jesus’ experience corresponded to what Hosea had written about Israel. He saw the experience of Jesus as analogous to that of Israel. Jesus’ experience completed the full meaning of Hosea’s statement and in this sense fulfilled it. [Note: See Dyer, pp. 733-34, for several comparisons and contrasts between the history of Israel and the history of Jesus Christ.]

"This is a reference not only to the exodus of Israel from Egypt but also to the fact that all of God’s dealings with Israel were based upon the love that He would show in calling His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, back from the comparative safety of Egypt in order that He might suffer and die to accomplish His great redemptive work." [Note: The New Scofield . . ., p. 925.]

Verses 1-4

Proof of rebelliousness 11:1-4

Verses 1-7

Israel’s rebelliousness 11:1-7

Again this section, which is all divine speech, begins with a reference to something in Israel’s history to contrast the past with the present (cf. Hosea 9:10; Hosea 10:1; Hosea 10:9).

"The passage at its outset has similarities to the form of the legal complaint made by parents against a rebellious child (Deuteronomy 21:18-21; cf. Isaiah 1:2-20 where hope is held out that the child [Israel] may yet repent and receive compassion rather than death)." [Note: Stuart, p. 175]

Verse 2

God continued to call the Israelites after they left Egypt. He did so through His prophets. But the more the prophets appealed to the people to follow the Lord, the more the people turned aside from following Him. They kept sacrificing to Baal and kept burning incense to idols (cf. Judges 2:11-13).

Verse 3

Israel demonstrated this ungrateful apostasy even though it was Yahweh who taught His son Israel to walk (behave, cf. Deuteronomy 1:31; Isaiah 1:2), provided tender loving care, and healed him when he needed restoration.

Verse 4

The restraints that the Lord had placed on Israel in its youth were cords of love designed to protect and preserve the people rather than robbing them of freedom. The Lord freed them from oppressive bondage and made special provision to feed them. The image of a loving herdsman taking care of his animal is in view here. Often a cattleman would lift the yolk from an ox’s shoulders so when it bent over to eat it would not slide down over its face and impede its feeding. [Note: Wood, "Hosea," pp. 212-13.]

Verse 5

Because Israel refused to return (Heb. shub) to Yahweh after so many appeals by His prophets (Hosea 11:2), He would return (Heb. shub) the nation to captivity. Yet the place of exile would not be Egypt but Assyria. In other messages Hosea identified Egypt as the place of Israel’s future exile (cf. Hosea 8:13; Hosea 9:3; Hosea 9:6), but here it becomes clear that He was only using Egypt as a metaphor for a place of captivity. Assyria would be the geographical location of Israel’s exile. Thus "Egypt" is an atbash for Assyria (cf. Hosea 4:15).

Verses 5-7

Punishment for rebelliousness 11:5-7

Verse 6

Enemy soldiers would swarm around Israel’s cities and break down the gate bars that secured them against foreign attack. They would consume the Israelites because of the decisions the Israelites had made to depart from the Lord (cf. Micah 6:16). These were the result, in part, of false prophets’ advice. Yahweh had fed His people (Hosea 11:4), but now the sword would feed on them (cf. Isaiah 1:19-20).

Verse 7

The Israelites’ resolve to abandon Yahweh was firm. In spite of the prophets’ appeals to return to Him, none of them exalted the Lord by doing so. The Hebrew text of the last part of Hosea 11:7 is very difficult to understand. The NIV translators thought it meant God refused to hear the desperate cry of His people.

Verse 8

The Lord asked four rhetorical questions that reveal how hard it was for Him to turn Israel over to an enemy for punishment. They are strong expressions of divine emotion, specifically, love for His chosen people. Admah and Zeboiim were cities that God annihilated along with Sodom and Gomorrah (cf. Genesis 10:19; Genesis 14:2; Genesis 14:8; Deuteronomy 29:23). God could not bring Himself to deal with the cities of Israel as He had with those towns. He would not totally destroy them. His heart of judgment was turned upside down into a heart of compassion. All His compassion flamed up in Him as judgment emotions had done before.

"Israel will not be completely ’overturned’ as the cities mentioned here; rather, there will be an ’overturning,’ that is, a change, in Yahweh’s heart." [Note: Wolff, p. 201.]

Verses 8-11

B. Another assurance of restoration 11:8-11

As previously, a series of messages assuring Israel’s judgment (Hosea 6:4 to Hosea 11:7) ends with assurance of future restoration. God would definitely bring devastating judgment on Israel, but His compassion for the nation and His promises to the patriarchs required final blessing after the discipline (cf. Deuteronomy 4:25-31).

"These verses are like a window into the heart of God. They show that his love for his people is a love that will never let them go." [Note: Ibid.," p. 214.]

Verse 9

God did not change His mind about bringing judgment on Israel, but He promised not to apply the full measure of His wrath or to destroy Ephraim again in the future. He would show restraint because He is God, not a man who forgets His promises, is arbitrary in His passions, and might be vindictive in His anger (cf. 1 Samuel 15:29). He was the Holy One in the midst of the Israelites, so He would be completely fair with His people. He would not descend on them with unbridled wrath.

"Some theologians argue that God does not possess emotions. Of course, to make such an assertion they must dismiss as anthropopathic the many biblical texts that attribute emotions to God. Hosea 11:9 demonstrates that this view of God’s nature is erroneous and unbiblical. God, like human beings whom he made in his image, is capable of a wide range of emotions, but God, unlike human beings, expresses his emotions in perfect balance. The distinction between God and human beings does not lie in some supposed absence of divine emotion, but in God’s ability to control his emotions and express them appropriately." [Note: Chisholm, Handbook on . . ., p. 362.]

Verse 10

In the future the Israelites would follow the Lord (cf. Hosea 11:2; Hosea 11:5). He would again announce His intentions like a roaring lion (cf. Hosea 5:14; Hosea 13:7; Amos 1:2; Amos 3:8). However this time it would not be as a lion about to devour its prey but as a lion leading its cubs to safety. The Israelites would follow Him trembling from the west (cf. Hosea 3:5; Exodus 19:16).

Since Assyria lay to Israel’s east, it seems that this reference to regathering from the west does not refer to return from Assyrian captivity. Apparently it refers to return from another worldwide dispersion. Presently the Israelites live dispersed all over the world. This verse then probably alludes to a still future restoration from our perspective in history. It may refer to the restoration that Antichrist will encourage (Daniel 9:27), but it probably refers to the streaming of Israel back into the land following Jesus Christ’s return to the earth (cf. Isaiah 11:11-12).

Verse 11

The idea of a universal return finds support in the references here to return from both Egypt (the symbolic place of exile) and Assyria (the literal place; cf. Zechariah 10:10-11). Yahweh promised to settle the Israelites in their houses, namely, in the places that they formerly left, in the land of Israel. The Israelites had been as silly as pigeons seeking foreign alliances (Hosea 7:11), but now they would return as vulnerable and as swift as doves to the land (cf. Psalms 55:6-7; Isaiah 60:8).

An introductory accusation and announcement of judgment 11:12-12:2


A tone of exhortation and instruction marks this fifth and last collection of messages.

Verse 12

This is Hosea 11:1 of chapter 12 in the Hebrew Bible. The Lord complained that Ephraim (Israel) had consistently lied and tried to deceive Him. He described Himself as surrounded and under attack by His own people. Wherever He looked all He saw was cheaters. Deception (Heb. mirmah, unfaithfulness) had also marked Israel’s ancestor, Jacob (cf. Hosea 12:3-4; Hosea 12:12; Genesis 27:35). But the kingdom of Judah had also been unruly (Heb. rud, wayward) in its relationship with the Holy One (cf. Hosea 11:9) who is faithful. Yahweh was always faithful to His covenant promises even though these groups of His people had wandered from Him and sought out Baals and foreign allies. Both kingdoms had been unfaithful to the covenant the Lord had made with them.

Verses 12-14

1. The deceitfulness of Israel 11:12-12:14

Several comparisons of Israel and the patriarch Jacob point out the deceitfulness of the Northern Kingdom in this apparent mosaic of messages. Israel had cheated on its covenant with Yahweh. The form of the passage is again that of a lawsuit in which the Lord brought charges against Israel (the rib oracle) and concluded by announcing its doom.

Verses 12-16

A. Judgment for unfaithfulness 11:12-13:16

Hosea again established Israel’s guilt and predicted her punishment. Israel’s unfaithfulness to God receives special emphasis (cf. ch. 3).

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Hosea 11". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/hosea-11.html. 2012.
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