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Bible Commentaries
Hosea 9

Dr. Constable's Expository NotesConstable's Expository Notes

Verses 1-2

The Lord told Israel not to rejoice like other nations at the prospect of an abundant harvest; that would not be her privilege. He promised to remove her grain and wine. These were threatened curses for covenant unfaithfulness (cf. Deuteronomy 28:30; Deuteronomy 28:38-42; Deuteronomy 28:51). Her unfaithfulness to Him had precluded further blessing. She had credited Baal with providing the blessings that she enjoyed rather than Yahweh. The prophet envisioned Israel as a harlot committing adultery on a threshing floor by worshipping idols there. Threshing floors and wine presses were common places where ritual prostitution took place. It was through these rites that the worshippers sought to stimulate the gods to engage in sex and so bestow fruitfulness on them and their land.

Verses 1-6

The result: termination of festivals 9:1-6

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.]

Verses 1-9

Israel’s sorrow 9:1-9

Israel would sorrow greatly because of her sins. Description of her sorrow precedes the explanation for it.

Verse 3

Israel would not remain in the Promised Land but would go into captivity (cf. Deuteronomy 11:8-21). Assyria, likened here to Egypt (cf. Hosea 7:16; Hosea 8:13; Hosea 11:5), would be the place the Israelites would eat unclean food (i.e., no longer be independent; 2 Kings 17:6; Ezekiel 4:13; Amos 7:17). She would eat defiled food in a defiled land because she had defiled herself with sin.

"The place of their captivity was first called ’Egypt’ (cf. Hosea 8:13) in order to show its general character; then Assyria was named as the actual place the people would be taken to (cf. Hosea 11:5)." [Note: Wood, "Hosea," p. 204.]

"Egypt" is a metonymy for exile because it was the original place of Israel’s captivity (cf. Deuteronomy 28:68).

Verse 4

Opportunities for legitimate worship would end in exile since Israel had corrupted legitimate worship in the land. Drink offerings of wine, which accompanied certain sacrifices, would cease (cf. Numbers 15:1-12), and sacrifices offered there would be unacceptable to Yahweh. They would be similar to the bread that mourners ate, namely, ceremonially unclean because of contact with dead bodies (cf. Numbers 19:14-15; Numbers 19:22). Such bread might be suitable for human consumption, but it was unacceptable as an offering to God. Cultic celebration would give way to disease and death.

Verse 5

Consequently the Israelites would have nothing to offer the Lord when their annual feasts rolled around. These feasts centered on offerings to the Lord, but those offerings would be unacceptable in exile.

Verse 6

The Israelites would leave their land because of the destruction Yahweh would send. Egypt and Memphis, as two undertakers, would bury the exiles. Memphis (near modern Cairo) was an Egyptian city famous as a burial site because of the pyramid tombs there. Back in the land weeds would overgrow the Israelites’ abandoned treasures, and thorns would take over their houses (cf. Deuteronomy 28:36-46).

Verse 7

Israel was to know that the days of her punishment and retribution were imminent because the nation’s iniquity was fat and its hostility to the Lord was great. Another reason for her judgment was that the Israelites had regarded the prophets whom the Lord had sent to them as demented fools (cf. 2 Kings 9:11; Jeremiah 29:26-27). This probably included Hosea.

"The prophet represents Yahweh as saying that the captivity was a payment for the sin of the nation. One of the primary themes of this prophecy is the stark truth that sin demands requital, and Israel was soon to know that by experience. The present respite from national calamity was not to last forever." [Note: McComiskey, p. 144.]

Verses 7-9

The cause: opposition to prophets 9:7-9

Verse 8

Ephraim tried to function as a prophet of God warning others of approaching danger. But Ephraim had tried to snare the prophets God had sent the people like a hunter catches birds in a net. Thus there was nothing but hostility in the land of Israel between the Ephraimites and the true prophets of Yahweh. Ephraim saw nothing as a prophet and criticized the prophets for preaching what they saw, namely, coming judgment.

Verse 9

The Israelites had delved deep into depravity, as when the men of Gibeah raped and murdered the visiting Levite’s concubine (Judges 19). This was another occasion in which the Israelites punished one of their own rather than protecting her. The Lord would remember their iniquities and punish their sins. This sin had resulted in war in Israel and almost the obliteration of the tribe of Benjamin (Judges 20). War would come again, and God would almost entirely obliterate all the Israelites for their sins.

Verse 10

In the early days of Israel’s history in the wilderness, the Lord took great delight in His people, as one rejoices to find grapes in a desert or the first figs of the season. However, when they came to Baal-Peor, where they worshipped Baal and committed ritual sex with the Moabite and Midianite women (Numbers 25), they became as detestable to Yahweh as the idols they loved. This first instance of Baal worship set the pattern of Israel’s idolatry that followed in the land and resulted in her present judgment.

Verses 10-14

Diminished fruitfulness 9:10-14

"The gloomy, foreboding atmosphere of Hosea 9:1-9 changes now to one of pathos. The words here are at once tender and loving." [Note: McComiskey, p. 148.]

Verses 10-17

Israel’s humiliation 9:10-17

This section is one in a series that looks back on Israel’s previous history, and its reflective mood colors its prophecies (cf. Hosea 10:1-15; Hosea 11:1-7).

"Divine speech and prophetic speech combine in this passage to pronounce upon the disobedient Israelites the fulfillment of the curses for disobedience contained in the Mosaic covenant. Here for the first time Hosea himself calls down the wrath of God upon his own compatriots (Hosea 9:14; Hosea 9:17). He is thus both announcer and imprecator of punishment." [Note: Stuart, p. 155.]

Verse 11

The glory of the Ephraimites, their numerous children, would fly away like a bird, quickly and irretrievably. There would be few births, or even pregnancies, or even conceptions. There is a play on the name "Ephraim" here, which sounds somewhat like the Hebrew word meaning "twice fruitful." The Ephraimites had looked to Baal for the blessing of human fertility, but Yahweh would withhold it in judgment. Ephraim, the doubly fruitful, would become Ephraim, the completely fruitless.

Verse 12

Most of the children born would die prematurely, and few of them would remain, probably because of the coming invasion (cf. Deuteronomy 32:25). When Yahweh withdrew His protection from His people their doom would be great. He would no longer multiply the nation.

Verse 13

Yahweh saw that Ephraim had been fertile in the past, comparable to the prosperity of Tyre. Yet in the future Ephraim’s sons were destined to become prey to the enemy. Ephraim’s punishment would be similar to Tyre’s.

Verse 14

Hosea called on Yahweh, after reflecting on her punishments, to disappoint Ephraim’s hopes concerning descendants and the inability to sustain their children. The combination of "womb" and "breasts" is a pairing that describes human fruitfulness (cf. Genesis 49:25).

Verse 15

What the Israelites did at Gilgal caused the Lord to hate them. This is covenant terminology meaning He opposed them; personal emotion is not the main point. At Gilgal the Israelites practiced the pagan fertility cult (cf. Hosea 4:15; Hosea 12:11). Gilgal epitomized the syncretistic worship of Hosea’s day. Yahweh would drive His people out of the land, as He had expelled Adam and Eve and the Canaanites, because they had sinned and had adopted the ways of sinners. He would love (choose to bless) them no more, as He had in the past, because all their leaders rebelled against Him.

Even though God loves (chooses) all the elect (Ephesians 1:4), He has a special affection for those who comply with His will (cf. John 15:14). The Israelites had stopped being compliant and had been rebellious.

Verses 15-17

Expulsion from the land 9:15-17

"The previous section (Hosea 9:10-14) began with a tender expression of Yahweh’s love. This section (Hosea 9:15-17) begins with an affirmation of his hatred. The previous section looked back to the wilderness; this section looks back to Gilgal. Hosea views God as acting in history; thus historical events and the geographical sites where they occurred become vehicles of divine truth. The events of the exodus from Egypt spoke volumes about God, as did the events that took place in the wilderness and at Gilgal. To Hosea God’s response to the people at those places forever remains as crystallized truth about the nature of God." [Note: Ibid., p. 154.]

Verse 16

The Lord had stricken the very roots of the nation so it would dry up and bear no fruit (cf. Malachi 4:1). This probably refers to human barrenness, agricultural unfruitfulness, and animal infertility. Even though the people bore children that were precious to them, the Lord would slay them.

Verse 17

Hosea’s God would cast the Ephraimites out of the land because they proved unresponsive to Him (cf. Deuteronomy 28:62-64). They would end up wandering among the other nations of the world. Because they had wandered from the Lord, they would wander in the earth, like Cain whom the Lord also cursed (cf. Genesis 4:12).

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Hosea 9". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/hosea-9.html. 2012.
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