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Bible Commentaries
Hosea 12

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-14

HOSEA - CHAPTER 12

LAMENT OF JEHOVAH AGAINST EPHRAIM CONTINUED

Verses 1-14:

Verse 1 describes the vain behavior of Ephraim as eating or grazing on the East Wind, dry and empty air, Hosea 8:7; Proverbs 15:14; Isaiah 44:20. The East Wind was dry, fierce, violent, oppressive and destructive, a figure of destruction that headstrong sinners bring upon themselves, Job 27:21. Daily, continually, Ephraim kept lying, increasing her lies and violence, multiplying just grounds for her pending captivity punishment. They gave gifts to and entered alliances of idolatry with Assyria, as their oil (olive oil) was carried into Egypt, to secure her alliance, a type of their coming bondage, Job 15:2; Isaiah 30:16; Isaiah 57:9; 2 Kings 17:4; Ezekiel 17:17; Deuteronomy 8:8.

Verse 2 announces God’s controversy against Judah also for she had fallen into idolatry under Ahaz, Hosea 4:1; Micah 6:2; 2 Kings 16:3; 2 Kings 16:10-16. He will also punish Jacob, the ten northern tribes, who had gone farther into idolatry than Judah, the southern kingdom of Israel. Therefore the measure of judgment for guilt was not so strong against Judah as against Ephraim, Jacob, or Israel, of the ten northern tribes. Let it be understood however that both kingdoms were to be punished in Assyria and Babylonian captivity for their sins of idolatry.

Verses 3 continues recounting their heritage through Jacob, their forefather, who wrestled against odds, and to prevail, even from his mother’s womb. He secured the birthright and the blessing with deceit. He wrestled in the womb, and as an adult, he wrestled with man and with God and prevailed in prayer. Since Jacob was their forefather, they should imitate his good, not his bad qualities. He took hold of the heel of his brother in the womb. for good, and at Bethel he met God, and at the Jabbok, where he wrestled with God, for good; So should they emulate his example, Genesis 25:26; Genesis 32:24-29.

Verse 4 explains that Jacob had power over the angel and prevailed at the Jabbok, suggesting that angels are divine servants still, to those who call upon God for help and guidance, Hebrews 1:4; Hebrews 5:7; Psalms 34:7. Jacob’s joint was out, he was crippled in wrestling with the angel, Jacob would not let him go until he had blessed Jacob, because of the weeping and intercession of Jacob. That "he found him" in Bethel, seems to indicate that Jacob was found of the Lord and His angel in Bethel, and the angel had watched over him all the years since, Genesis 28:12-19; Genesis 35:9-10; Genesis 35:15. When God spoke to Jacob His message was also for Israel, His seed.

Verse 5 certifies that the Lord God of hosts, meaning "constant care", was Jacob’s memorial, Exodus 3:15. By it He is ever to be distinguished and remembered, Psalms 135:13. He desires to show mercy more than justice, but His holiness prevents His sanction of moral, ethical, and spiritual anarchy, even among His chosen people. He is the caring God, forever, Hebrews 13:8; Revelation 1:4; Revelation 1:8.

Verse 6 admonishes Ephraim, now feeding on east wind, v. 1, to repent of her idolatry and law-breaking behavior and turn to the God of hosts, who cares for Jacob, Hosea 14:1; Micah 6:8. They are called upon to keep or guard mercy and judgment, as guardians and custodians of all the law of Moses, and to wait on God continually, without ceasing or interruption, as trusted watchmen. They were to turn to God, from their wanderings and sins, and pray and seek His fellowship as Jacob did, Isaiah 10:2. They were to produce fruits of repentance to be right with God, Matthew 3:8.

Verse 7 describes Jacob, in Ephraim and Israel, as a deceitful, fraudulent, dishonest merchant who misuses the scales in his own favor, while buying and selling, Isaiah 23:11. He received carnal pleasure in oppressing his customers, by dishonest weights and measures. Ephraim acted like an heathen, a Canaanite, unlike a true Israelite, to whom the Canaanites were a reproach, Ezekiel 16:3. Their sin of fraud was an abomination to God and a breach of the Golden Rule Principle, Proverbs 20:10; Matthew 7:12. Men whose trade is based on deceit, cheating, do not show mercy or deal in justice.

Verse 8 recounts how Ephraim contended that her riches and prosperity were evidence of God’s sanction of her sins, what she was doing, Ecclesiastes 8:11-13; Matthew 5:45. Worst of all, she was so blinded by her own sins of lawbreaking and idolatry that she denied even breaking God’s law, Exodus 20:1-5; Zechariah 11:5; 2 Corinthians 4:3-4. Even God’s people may yet take this self-sufficient and self­righteous attitude, in their prosperity, Revelation 3:17-19; 1 Timothy 6:17-19.

In Verse 9 God reminds them that He has been their guide, source of defense, and giver of their prosperity, from Egypt’s bondage, through wilderness wanderings, in the deserts and in tents. He also pledges that after their coming bondage He will cause them to dwell again in tabernacles, as in the days of the solemn feasts that have now been displaced by idolatrous worship, Nehemiah 8:17; Leviticus 23:42-43; Zechariah 14:16.

Verse 10 declares that God has spoken by the prophets, by visions, and dreams to them, to cause them to understand and follow His call, Ezekiel 3:14, yet, they rebelled, Numbers 12:6; Numbers 12:8; Joel 2:28; Hebrews 1:1-3; 2 Kings 17:13-14. Though He left no stone unturned in seeking to restore them.

Verse 11 rhetorically asks, "is there iniquity in Gilead?" which means "there is iniquity in Gilead, isn’t it?" Would you not agree? Surely there was, for it was there that the "school of the prophets" was once held to give them instructions in matters of and obedience to the law; multiplied slaughters were received by the priests who coveted the meat sacrifices at Gilgal, Proverbs 28:22-23; Proverbs 10:22. But they were vain, empty in meaning, as idols were before their altars. Here where scenes of solemn services were once offered to God, Ephraim and Israel now engage in worship of empty form, without any grief for their sins, Joshua 2:9.

Verse 12 reports the flight of Israel into Syria, as a fugitive servant, as Jacob had fled from Esau, Genesis 30:31; 1 Samuel 17:20. But he did not marry an idolatress. His honest work in poverty was a reproof of Israel’s shame as she was now about to take flight into that same area, not as a free people, but as an idolatrous slave people, because of her sins, Genesis 28:5; Deuteronomy 26:5; Genesis 29:20; Genesis 29:28 describes how Israel in Jacob, kept sheep in Syria, as a price for a wife he loved, who was not an idolator, though in an idolatrous land. Jacob’s devotion among idolators, without compromise, is a rebuke to present Ephraim and Israel.

Verse 13 affirms that by a prophet (Moses) the shepherd-like caring Lord brought Israel out of Egypt, and by that same prophet, He preserved them. They thus had a God-fearing heritage, if only they would respect it, Exodus 12:50-51; Exodus 13:3; Numbers 12:6; Deuteronomy 18:15-18; Psalms 77:20; Isaiah 63:11; Micah 6:4.

Verse 14 concludes that Ephraim has provoked God to very bitter anger, by her repeated, continual, insolent arrogance against Him and His law, so that heavy judgment is God’s Divine decree upon her. Though men turn from and reject God’s dominion over them, they still belong to God, are God’s property, by right of creation and His daily provision for them; And He does not give up His rights to them, Ezekiel 18:4-5; Acts 17:26-31.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Hosea 12". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/hosea-12.html. 1985.
 
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