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Bible Commentaries
Hosea 8

Dr. Constable's Expository NotesConstable's Expository Notes

Verses 4-14

1. Israel’s ingratitude and rebellion 6:4-8:14

Two oracles of judgment compose this section. Each one begins by referring to Israel’s breach of covenant (Hosea 6:7; Hosea 8:1), and each one contains a reference to Egypt near the end (Hosea 7:16; Hosea 8:13).

Accusations involving ingratitude 6:4-7:16

The Lord accused the Israelites of being ungrateful for His many blessings in the past and therefore being disloyal to Him and His covenant with them. The section primarily enumerates and illustrates these accusations, but it closes with an announcement of coming judgment (Hosea 7:12-13; Hosea 7:16).


Accusations involving rebellion ch. 8

Judgment would also come on Israel because God’s people had rebelled against Yahweh. In the previous section (Hosea 6:4 to Hosea 7:16), accusations were more common than promises of judgment. In this one judgment becomes more prominent, though accusations continue.

Verse 1

The Lord commanded Hosea to announce coming judgment by telling him to put a trumpet to his lips. The blowing of the shophar announced that an invader was coming (cf. Hosea 5:8). Israel’s enemy would swoop down on the nation as an eagle attacking its prey (cf. Hosea 5:14; Deuteronomy 28:49). The "house of the LORD" refers to the people of Israel, His household. The reason for this judgment was Israel’s transgression (overstepping) of Yahweh’s covenant (the Mosaic Covenant) and the nation’s rebellion against His Law (the Mosaic Law; cf. Hosea 7:13).

Verses 1-7

Making idols 8:1-7

Verse 2

The Israelites claimed that they acknowledged (knew) the authority of their God, but their transgressions and rebellion proved that they did not (cf. Hosea 4:1; Hosea 4:6; Hosea 5:4). Their knowledge of Him was only historical and traditional (cf. John 8:33).

Verse 3

Because Israel had rejected the good (i.e., the Lord’s moral and ethical requirements), an enemy would pursue him (cf. Deuteronomy 28:45).

Verse 4

One example of Israel’s rebellion was the setting up of kings and other leaders without consulting Yahweh.

"Yahweh alone determines who can be king either by charismatic gifts or by direct revelation through a prophet. He gives kings to the nations (e.g., 1 Kings 19:15-16); they do not decide who their kings will be. . . . The king was Yahweh’s representative or regent, not the people’s choice." [Note: Stuart, p. 131.]

The making of idols was another example of rebellion. The result of this rebellion was that God would cut Israel off (separate Israel from its land and people).

Verse 5

The Lord rejected the calf idol that had come to mark Israelite worship since Jeroboam I first set up images of calves at Dan and Bethel (1 Kings 12:28-30). "He" refers to Yahweh (cf. Hosea 1:7; Hosea 2:23; Hosea 4:6; Hosea 4:10; Hosea 4:12; Hosea 8:13), and "Samaria" again represents the whole Northern Kingdom, by metonymy. Hosea spoke to the people about Yahweh in the third person here. The Lord also said His anger burned against the Israelites because of this idolatry. He despaired that they persisted in uncleanness by asking rhetorically how long they would be incapable of innocence (purity).

Verse 6

From Israel, of all people, had come the pagan idol. A human craftsman had fashioned it, so the idol was not the true God (cf. Isaiah 40:18-20; Isaiah 44:9-20). When Jeroboam I originally presented these idols to the people of Israel, he said, "Behold your gods, O Israel" (1 Kings 12:28; cf. Exodus 32:4). These idols, represented here as the calf of Samaria, would be broken to pieces, demonstrating the impotence of the gods.

Verse 7

Normally farmers sowed seed and reaped grain, but Israel had sowed the wind, something foolish and worthless (cf. Job 7:7; Proverbs 11:29; Ecclesiastes 1:14; Ecclesiastes 1:17), namely, idolatry. Consequently instead of reaping something beneficial and nourishing he would reap a whirlwind, something equally vain but also destructive. Sowing the wind and reaping the whirlwind may have been a proverb in Israel. [Note: Dyer, p. 732.] The literal seed the Israelites sowed would grow up but not produce any grain, only bare stalks without heads. If the land did yield some grain, strangers would confiscate it and the Israelites would not benefit from it.

Verse 8

The prophet looked ahead to the time of Israel’s judgment. The nation would be swallowed up, as when someone eats grain (Hosea 8:7). Israel would become a part of the nations having gone into captivity and lost its own sovereignty and even its identity. It would be like an earthenware pot that no one wanted because it was broken (cf. Jeremiah 22:28; Jeremiah 48:38).

Verses 8-10

Making treaties 8:8-10

Verse 9

Ephraim (Israel) had made treaties with Assyria to help protect her from her enemies (cf. Hosea 7:11), but the Assyrians would turn and devour Israel. Wild donkeys were notorious for their willfulness and being difficult to control (cf. Jeremiah 2:24), and so was Israel. Ephraim was also like a harlot but even worse in that she paid others to love her rather than receiving pay from them (cf. Hosea 2:5; Jeremiah 2:23-25). Yahweh had promised to care for the nation because He loved her.

Verse 10

Hiring allies among the pagan nations by making treaties with them would not work. Yahweh Himself would gather them up to judge them. He would use as His instrument of judgment "the king of princes," namely, the king of the Assyrian Empire, the very king to whom the Israelites appealed for protection (cf. Hosea 10:6; Isaiah 10:8). The result would be the diminution of the nation of Israel.

Verse 11

In rebellion against Yahweh’s covenant the Israelites had also built many altars (Deuteronomy 12). They built them to offer many sin offerings, but since God had not authorized these altars they became places for sinning rather than places for worshipping. More altars simply meant more sinning.

Verses 11-14

Making altars, palaces, and fortified cities 8:11-14

Verse 12

Yahweh had been very specific about His demands in the Mosaic Covenant, but the Israelites treated them as something foreign to their lives. Ironically they had treated God’s laws as foreign, but they had imported foreign idols and practices and followed them. "Ten thousand precepts" looks at the abundant detail that God had provided His people so they would know just what to do, not at the literal number of His commands.

Verse 13

They offered the sacrifices prescribed in the Law, but the Lord looked at them only as meat; they had no sacrificial value to Him. The Hebrew word basar, translated "meat," is in the emphatic position before the verb. God regarded the sacrifices only as meat. He took no delight in these sacrifices because the people mixed them with rebellion. Consequently He would call them into judgment for their sins and punish them. He would send them back to Egypt where they used to live as slaves before He redeemed them in the Exodus (cf. Hosea 9:3). The Lord meant that He would send them to an Egypt-like place, which Assyria proved to be (cf. Hosea 11:5; Deuteronomy 28:68). [Note: See McComiskey, p. 117.]

"In the deliverance from Egyptian bondage Israel had experienced God’s grace. Having spurned that grace, she would return to slavery." [Note: Chisholm, "Hosea," p. 1397.]

Verse 14

Both Israel and Judah had forgotten that Yahweh had made her what she had become. Instead of continuing to trust and obey Him, the people had put their confidence in their own ability to provide for themselves. This attitude of self-reliance manifested itself in building palaces and fortified cites as places of prominence and protection. Palaces and fortified cites are not wrong in themselves, but in this context, set against remembering Yahweh, they were expressions of self-trust. As judgment the Lord would burn down their palaces and fortified cities. He would remove the objects of their confidence and teach the people their personal inadequacy. Tiglath-Pileser III did this when he destroyed Samaria and the other Israelites cities, and Sennacherib did it when he attacked all the fortified cities of Judah (2 Kings 17:6; 2 Kings 18:13).

To summarize, five types of sin stand out in this section as reasons for Israel’s punishment. Israel had usurped Yahweh’s sovereign authority to lead the nation (Hosea 8:4) and had worshipped idols (Hosea 8:4-6). Israel depended on foreign treaties rather than God (Hosea 8:9-10) and had adopted and perpetuated a corrupt cult (system of worship, Hosea 8:5-6; Hosea 8:11; Hosea 8:13). And Israel arrogantly disregarded Yahweh’s Law (Hosea 8:1-3; Hosea 8:5; Hosea 8:12; Hosea 8:14).

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Hosea 8". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/hosea-8.html. 2012.
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