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Bible Commentaries
Hosea 9

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-17



Verses 1-17:

Verse 1 warns Israel against rejoicing over her league made with Assyria. For there is no real success to be gained by alliance with heathen practices, Job 3:22. She is accused of a continual trapping after, a "whoring after", false gods. She had come to worship and trust in false gods, offering bribes to them for corn, or filled threshing floors, but her expectations were in vain. As a reward for worshipping heathen gods, Israel hoped for prosperity in vain.

Verse 2 prophecies that crops will fail to feed Israel; And new wines, to afford joy, will simply not be available. All the crops of grain and grapes shall disappoint Israel’s expectations in her whoring course of behavior, Hosea 2:9; Hosea 2:12.

Verse 3 advises that Ephraim shall not dwell in her own land, Deuteronomy 30:20, but be forced to go down into Egypt, or into Assyria, similar to Egypt, and suffer for the ties of alliance she had made with heathen rulers and heathen idols and temples; It was a sore trial, as described Daniel 1:8. Ephraim had lived like heathens, about heathen altars, and must now go in judgment, to live among them. They shall now be forced to eat unclean things among the heathen, Ezekiel 4:13; 2 Kings 17:6.

Verse 4 explains that no offering Israel attempts to make in captivity will be accepted of the Lord. He was full of her lawlessness and ingratitude to Him, Exodus 30:9; Leviticus 23:13. Their pretended sacrifices would be offensive to Him, as bread of mourners which was unclean, Deuteronomy 26:14; Jeremiah 16:7; Ezekiel 24:17; Bread touched by mourners, or from the house of the dead, was polluted and could not be offered to God, neither could sacrifices in a foreign land, Numbers 19:14.

Verse 5 inquires, not for information, but for forceful thought, just what they think they will do in a foreign heathen land on solemn days and festival times God had provided for them alone. To be exiled, excluded, or expelled from making ordinary sacrifices was a grave blow to Israel’s pride. But also to be deprived of feasts of joy, was a double loss, an heavy chastening, Hebrews 12:5-9.

Verse 6 explains that devastation and destruction shall come to their once glorious land, as they languish in Egypt, like exile and captivity to the Assyrians and Babylonians. Many of the tribe of Ephraim were also to go to their tombs in Egypt, not Palestine, Jeremiah 8:2; Ezekiel 29:5. Memphis was well known for her necrology, preparation for burial of bodies, for their exchange price is silver. She was also noted for the seat of idolatry and worship of Apis, Jerobam’s calf. Nettles should grow over their former fields and residences in Palestine where they had forsaken the law of their God for idols and heathen worship and adulterous standards of low morals and ethics, Isaiah 34:13. Growth of thorns and nettles signified complete desolation.

Verse 7 announces the arrival of those days of desolation, as days of vengeance from the Lord, Isaiah 10:3. False prophets, who had prophesied lies of prosperity, were about to be exposed as fools, convicted of folly, though they prophesy ever so madly, with feigned sincerity, pretending inspiration, prophesying false things not given from the Lord, Lamentations 2:14; Ezekiel 13:3; Micah 3:11. It is those who mock the true prophets who become fools, Isaiah 9:9. Those who hated God’s prophets and the law were the fools, Luke 19:1.

Verse 8 explains that Ephraim was once God’s watchman and witness with true prophets, witnessing for Him among the heathen nations, but has now become an object of hatred, a cause of apostasy, as her prophets embraced, endorsed, and condoned idolatry with its immorality, Jeremiah 6:17; Jeremiah 31:6; Ezekiel 3:17; Ezekiel 33:7. They thus caused hatred and contempt for the house of their God, referring to, the system of worship and service Moses established, by God’s direction in the wilderness, Hebrews 3:1-6.

Verse 9 charges them with immersing themselves deeply with corruption, similar to their corruption of Gibeah, in the days of Benjamin, when sodomy, adultery, fornication and murder came to be sanctioned, without disturbance, Judges 13:22; Genesis 19:4-5.

Verse 10 recounts how God had been delighted to choose Ephraim and Israel as His watchmen and witnesses in Egypt. It was like the sweetness of the first-ripe grapes, or early figs, known as the very best to quench thirst and hunger in the wilderness. Once their fathers were faithful to their calling, Isaiah 28:4; Jeremiah 24:2; Micah 7:1. But they went to Baalpeor and there their young girls prostituted themselves in moral shame, giving themselves to heathen sexual orgies, before the Moabite idol, followed by God’s anger and judgment, Numbers 25:1-18; Jeremiah 11:13. Those who embraced this idolatry were shown to be as abominable and despised of God as the heathen themselves, Deuteronomy 7:26; Psalms 115:8.

Verse 11 recounts a curse upon the children of Israel. The name Ephraim means "fruitfulness", but because of her debauching, degrading, idolatrous sexual orgies, God sent sterility among the Ephraimites, so that children which were considered a glory to their parents, would cease to be born among those who had engaged in the shameful pursuit of idolatry, Genesis 41:52. Like a bird that is here one moment, and flown away the next, conceptions and many births would cease among the tribe of Ephraim, and in Israel.

Verse 12 continues to announce their judgment. Though they bare children, God would "bereave them" take them from man in death, while they were yet young, Job 27:14. Let it be noted that God’s withdrawn mercy comes to be a source of evil judgment, 1 Samuel 4:21; 1 Samuel 28:15-16. When the care of God departs from one’s physical life, it is serious, but when His Spirit departs from striving with ones soul, it is an eternal tragedy, beyond description. His spirit does not always bear and plead with erring men, Genesis 6:5; Proverbs 29:1; Hebrews 4:7. How awful, how tragic, how forlorn it is when God has departed from a person or a family and Ichabod may be written over their door. Only those hardened in their wickedness would have God depart from them, Deuteronomy 31:17; Matthew 8:34.

Verse 13 further asserts that Ephraim, like Tyrus, a royal city, was located or planted in a pleasant, fruitful, or desirable location, but the children she brought forth would be like grass or fodder for the oven, to be destroyed by the murderer, Ezekiel 26, 27, 28; Her children shall only be brought up to be slain, though she exists in a fruitful place. Her sins have caused it, Hosea 13:16.

Verse 14 sounds an imprecatory cry, a cry for just judgment for their insolent attitude toward their law and their God. Hosea deliberates with God regarding a meaningful retribution for Ephraim and Israel’s sins. He calls upon God to give them the compassion of a barren womb, considered by Israel as a curse itself, rather than children born only to die prematurely or to be murdered, Job 3:3; Jeremiah 20:14; Luke 23:29. Even miscarriage would seem a blessing in comparison with the horrors of war which Hosea foresaw for his rebellious, idolatrous people.

Verse 15 describes God’s hatred of them because of their specific wickedness in Gilgal, former school of the young prophets, where they had rejected God’s judges and chosen themselves a king, 1 Samuel 8:7; 1 Samuel 9:14-15. He threatened to drive them out of his house, (order of divine worship) and love them no more, because all their princes or rulers were "revolters." They hated Him and "put out" as a divorced woman is put out of her house, and as Esau lost his heritage, Malachi 1:3.

Verse 16 again describes the smiting of Ephraim by blasting mildew, like a smitten tree, with withered roots, unable to bear fruit. Even if Israel bore fruit, God threatened to slay it, even the fruit of the womb of their bodies, in all Ephraim, as withered grass, Psalms 102:4. Though the word Ephraim means "fruitful", the name, when "smitten" of God, becomes unfruitful, unproductive.

Verse 17 concludes "my God," God of Hosea, not theirs, not Ephraim’s God any longer, will "cast them" away, as unfit for use or any Divine honor to Him, banishing them, as forewarned, among the heathen nations, Deuteronomy 28:65; Romans 11:20-21. There they shall be vagabonds among the nations, 2 Kings 15:29; 1 Chronicles 5:26.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Hosea 9". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/hosea-9.html. 1985.
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