Lectionary Calendar
Friday, July 19th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Hosea 6

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

Verses 1-11

B. An Accusation especially against the Priests and the Royal House. The untheocratic Policy of the Kingdom of Israel in seeking for Help to Assyria and Egypt is denounced

Hosea 5-7

I. Mainly against the Priests

Hosea 5:1-15

1 Hear this ye Priests,

And give ear, thou House of Israel,
And listen, thou House of the King,
Because the judgment is for you,
And you have been a snare for Mizpah,
And a net spread upon Tabor,

2 And the apostates make slaughter1 deep [are deeply sunk in slaughter],

And I am a chastening for them all.

3 I know Ephraim,

And Israel is not hidden from me;
For even now hast thou committed whoredom, Ephraim,
Israel is defiled.

4 Their deeds will not suffer2 (them)

To return to their God.
Because the spirit of whoredom is in their inward parts [their inmost heart]
And they do not know Jehovah.

5 And the pride of Israel testifies to its face,

And Israel and Ephraim will totter, through their guilt,
And Judah will totter with them.

6 With their sheep and cattle

They will go to seek Jehovah,
But will not find Him;
He hath withdrawn Himself from them.

7 They have been faithless to Jehovah,

For they begot strange children;
Now the new moon will consume them
Together with their portions.

8 Blow the horn in Gibeah,

The trumpet in Ramah!
Cry out in Beth-Aven3

“Behind thee, O Benjamin!”

9 Ephraim will become a waste

In the day of chastisement,
Among the tribes of Israel
Have I made known what is sure.

10 The princes of Judah have become

Like the removers of land-marks:
I will pour out upon them
My wrath like water.

11 Ephraim is oppressed,

Shattered by judgment,4

For it thought good
To follow idol-images.4

12 And I (am) like the moth to ephrann.

And like rottenness to the house of Judah.

13 And Ephraim saw its disease,

And Judah its wound,
And Ephraim went to Assyria,
And sent to the warlike monarch;
But he will not be able to heal for you,
And will not remove your wound.

14 For I am like the lion to Ephraim,

And like the young lion to the house of Judah,
I, I will rend and go on (rending)
Will carry away and there will be no deliverer.

15 I will go again to my place,

Until they make expiation (by suffering),
And seek my face;
In their distress they will seek me.

Hosea 6:1-2

1 “Come let us return5 to Jehovah!

For He hath torn, and will heal us,
He hath smitten and will bind us up.

2 He will revive us after two days,

On the third day He will raise us up,
That we may live before Him.

3 Let us know, follow on to know, Jehovah:

Like the dawn his coming is sure,
And He shall come like the rain for us,
Like the latter rain (which) waters the earth.”

4 What shall I do to thee, Ephraim?

What shall I do to thee, Judah?
For your love is like the morning cloud,
And like the dew, vanishing soon away.

5 Therefore I have smitten6 (them) through the Prophets,

And slain them with the words of my mouth,
And my judgment goes forth like light.6

6 For I delight in love and not sacrifice,

And in the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.

7 Yet they, like Adam, have broken the covenant,

They were faithless to me then.

8 Gilead is (like) a city of evil-doers,

Besmeared with blood.

9 And as the robber lurks,7

So (does) a band of priests.
Upon the highway they murder (those going) to Schechem,
Yea they commit wickedness.

10 In the house of Israel

I beheld an abomination, a horror:
Ephraim committed whoredom,
Israel (is) defiled.

11 For thee, also, Judah, a harvest is prepared,8

When I turn the captivity of my people.


The beginning in Hosea 5:1 (corresponding to the opening of chap. 4.) shows that the discourse here commences anew. Though connected with chap. 4, this chapter contains an accusation and threatening more definitely directed against the priests along with the king and his counsellors and princes, yet without being confined to this, for the discourse again becomes general, applying to the whole people. Along with idolatry which here again becomes prominent as the sin of Israel (especially in chap. 5) and gross sins among the people (deceit, robbery, murder, chap. 6), the conduct of the court is afterwards specially reproved, but particularly the false policy of seeking help in Assyria and Egypt (which itself presupposes the beginning of the kingdom’s decay). Chap. 6 is inseparably connected with chap. 5. But chap. 7 is also related to both of them, for a new section begins only with chap. 7. (See Introduction.) A single central and controlling idea, however, can hardly be indicated in these two chapters, or in the second part of the book generally. The discourse is too excited, moving suddenly from one thought to another, especially from accusation to threatening, and vice versa.

Hosea 5:1. Hear this, ye priests. It is doubtful whether זֹאת refers to the foregoing, but it is not improbable that it does. The solemn discourse just ended would now be applied to the hearts of those specially addressed here, and the continuation of the discourse would then be attached to it. House of the king = the royal family, or possibly those who surrounded him ordinarily. The king referred to cannot be with certainty determined. Keil conjectures Zachariah or Menahem, or both. According to 2 Kings 15:19 f. the resort to Assyria would suit Menahem better than Zachariah. For the judgment is for you. This refers specially, according to the sequel, to the Priests and the Court. [“The judgment” is that announced in the preceding chapter; the special application is made here.—M.] The rulers of the people are compared to a snare and net. The birds whom they have taken or allured to destruction, are the people. Mizpah cannot be the Mizpah strictly so called in the tribe of Benjamin, but must be= מִצְפֶּה and that= מִצְפֵּה גִלְעַד an elevated place in Gilead, perhaps identical with רָמַת מִצְפֶּה in the tribe of Dan. Tabor, on this side the Jordan, would correspond to the elevated point on the other side. These two places are probably selected as prominent points to represent the whole country; for it is not known that they were places of sacrifice. Keil conjectures that they are chosen in this image because they were places suitable for bird-catching.

Hosea 5:2. הֶעְֶמִ ק, to make deep. Literally: they have made slaughter deep=they have sunk deep in it. Slaughter might of itself be understood as murder, but the thought is carried further. שָׁחַט is usually employed of the slaughter of beasts for sacrifice, and thus is most suitable here according to the foregoing, where the evil influence of the rulers upon the nation is spoken of, and this consisted in the idolatry which they saw them practice. But this sacrificing is intentionally called only slaying, and suggested by it. שֵׁטִים a ἁπλεγ is uncertain. The most probable explanation makes it= סֵטִים, apostates. This is then the subject of the sentence, which would be rendered: the apostates are deeply sunk in murder. Keil, with others, takes it quite differently: transgressions, more literally: deviations. He explains שַׁחְַטָה after שָׁחוּט, 1 Kings 10:16 f.: to stretch, stretch along; therefore: deviations; they have made deep to stretch out=they have carried their transgressions very far. But what a tortuous mode of expression: to stretch out deviations! [The Anglo-American Commentators generally adopt the former view, rendering: revolvers, or: apostates.—M.]

Hosea 5:3. The second half of this verse tells what God discerns in Ephraim and Israel. עַתָּה: now, at this very moment, pointing out, as an actual fact, that which at present lies open to the eye of God. [Henderson: “To express an assertion more strongly, the Hebrews put it first in the form of an affirmative, and afterwards in the form of a negative.”—M.]

Hosea 5:4. Their deeds will not allow, etc. Their works stand in the way of their returning to God; for they are not isolated things, but are the expression of their inner nature, and that is held securely by the spirit of whoredom (Hosea 4:12), as by a demoniacal power which has stifled the knowledge of God. They are therefore not free—not lords over themselves, but slaves. [The rendering adopted here is that given in the margin of the English Bible, and approved by the majority of the Expositors of Continental Europe, ancient and modern, and by Horsley among the English ones. But there he stands alone, all other Anglo American translators adopting the rendering: they will not frame their doings to return to the Lord. They have been led to this view by the mistaken notion that the other translation involved a grammatical impossibility. See Gram. Note.—M.]

Hosea 5:5. The pride of Israel according to some, denotes God, as One in whom Israel might have pride. The sense would then be that God, by his judgments testifies in the very face of Israel. But such an explanation is forced. The natural impression, on reading the words, is rather that Israel and its conduct is spoken of Therefore the words are to be taken as they stand; the pride of Israel testifies to its face, namely, when the punishment of such pride is being suffered. It will be then felt what it is to reject Jehovah in presumptuous self-reliance (Wünsche). Judah also totters with them. In Hosea 4:15 Judah is warned not to be partaker in Israel’s guilt; but this must have been done because such participation was already begun, or foreseen as about to be assumed. On the other hand in Hosea 1:7 Judah’s destiny is distinguished definitely from that of Israel. [Henderson and others account for this seeming discrepancy by assuming that this chapter was written at a period considerably subsequent to that of the utterance of the last. But the evidence of the connection between them is too strong to admit of this supposition. The solution given above is therefore probably the correct one.—M.]

Hosea 5:6. They shall go with their flocks and with their herds. The fruitlessness of Israel’s sacrifices without a mind answering to the offering, is here shown (comp. Hosea 6:6; Isaiah 1:11 ff.; Jeremiah 7:21 ff.; Psalms 40:7; Psalms 1:6 ff.).

Hosea 5:7. בָּגַד, to act faithlessly, especially of the infidelity of a wife to her husband. The proof (כִּי) of such unfaithfulness of Israel to Jehovah, the Husband, is then given. Instead of bearing children to God in covenant with Him, they had rather, by their illicit intercourse with idols, begotten strange, illegitimate children, children not belonging to the household, i.e., children whom the Lord cannot acknowledge as his own. The punishment is then announced: The new moon will devour them. “The new moon is the festal season on which sacrifices were offered, and is here employed for the sacrifices themselves. The meaning is: your festal sacrifices are so far from bringing deliverance as rather to induce your ruin” (Keil). The sentence must, at the same time, be understood in a temporal sense=the time will soon come when they will perish, as also appears clearly from Hosea 5:8. Their portions are their possessions, part of which they brought as offerings.

Hosea 5:8. The judgment is seen in the Spirit as being already inflicted. The invasion of the enemy is to be announced by the horn and the trumpet. Gibeah and Ramah were most suitable for giving signals on account of their lofty situation. Both were on the northern boundary of Benjamin. Thus Judah is already menaced (see Hosea 5:5), and Israel actually occupied. הֵרִיעַ, to raise a shout=to sound the alarm in danger. Beth-aven again=Bethel; בְּ is to be supplied. Behind thee, Benjamin. The danger which is signaled, the enemy, is coming. He is already close behind thee.

Hosea 5:9. Israel shall assuredly be destroyed, and permanently also: נֶאְֶמָנָה=enduring, that is, lasting misfortune (comp. Deuteronomy 28:59). Others make it=true, what will surely he fulfilled. [The latter view is preferable, and is approved by most expositors.—M.]

Hosea 5:10. Like the removers of landmarks. Is this to be taken literally ? It is certain that we are not to think of hostile seizures of the territory of Israel, but the tertium comp. is the curse which, according to Deuteronomy 27:17, is laid upon the removal of a neighbor’s landmark=they have done something worthy of cursing. The curse attending the removal of the landmarks must therefore regarded here as something well known. The question then arises: what is it that they have lone incurring a curse. ‘Keil and Hengstenberg think that a spiritual removal of boundaries is indicated, a subversion of the bounds of justice, lamely, by participating in the guilt of Ephraim which they did by breaking down the barriers between Jehovah and the idols. And it is true that the princes of Judah are to be regarded as in a special sense divided off as against Israel and its idolatry, by virtue of the true faith which still prevailed in Judah as contrasted with Israel. The sense would then be: The princes of Judah, by their favoring idolatry, by this transgressing of spiritual limits, have become like those who remove the land-marks of fields, and thus become subject to the curse. God’s anger will seize upon them like a full stream of water. Comp. Psalms 69:25; Psalms 79:6; Jeremiah 10:25.

Hosea 5:11-15 declare that even Assyria cannot help, and that the vanity of all help outside of God, drives Israel to Him.

Hosea 5:11. עָשׁוּק and רָצוּץ are “united also in Deuteronomy 28:33 to denote the complete subjugation of Israel under enemies in the event of apostasy from God” (Keil). צַו occurs only here and in Isaiah 28:10. In the latter case, at all events, it= מִצְוַה, command. So many here also: a human statute [“in contrast to the ordinances of God”] alluding to the worship of calves (Keil). [See Textual note.]

Hosea 5:12. A moth and rottenness are symbols of destroying influences. The moth is alluded to in the same way in Isaiah 1:9; Isaiah 51:8; Psalms 39:12; both united in Job 13:28. Such influences also destroy slowly but surely: Certa Dei judicia (Calvin).

Hosea 5:13. חְָלִי and מָזוֹר, injury and wound, hardly denote religious and moral depravation (Keil); for it would scarcely have been said that Ephraim perceived this, but the judgment of God mentioned in Hosea 5:12, which according to the image there employed is not one which brings sudden ruin, but a more secret corruption, of which, indeed, moral depravation forms a part, but only as a judgment of God. That a divine judgment is intended, is clear from what is said of the vanity of help that is sought, especially in the sequel, and from the ground assigned for its insufficiency in Hosea 5:14. Assyria is here named for the first time. In the subsequent chapters the Prophet frequently recurs to the false policy of seeking help from Assyria. Only Ephraim is named because Israel is the main subject. Judah is referred to only incidentally. יָרֵב, a contender, an epithet devised by the Prophet to denote the Assyrian king.

Hosea 5:14. They can as little defend themselves from God’s judgments as they can from the attack of lions. (Comp. Hosea 13:7; Isaiah 5:29; Deuteronomy 32:39).

Hosea 5:15. The figure of the lion is continued. As the lion, without fear of being attacked, withdraws into his lair, so the Lord withdraws into heaven; none can or dare call Him to account. Until they make expiation = suffer. The suffering shall drive them to God. שַׁחֵר=seek earnestly. Comp. Hosea 2:9 and Deuteronomy 4:29-30, where comp. also the expression בִּצַר לִךָ.

Hosea 6:1. Come let us return to Jehovah. The words are plainly connected with the last words of chap. 5. where a seeking of God on the part of the people is mentioned as the aim and consequence of the divine judgment. The opinion is, therefore, the most natural (so already the LXX) that they are just the expression of that seeking, that in them Israel announces its resolve, and immediately thereafter the hope of favor on the ground of the return. The view of Keil is less suitable, that we have here an exhortation addressed by the Prophet in the name of God to the people whom God has smitten. The words are only and naturally put in the mouths of those who, punished for their sins, would return to God. [The Anglo American Commentators, generally, adopt the view here advocated. Henderson gives the additional plea that the bearing of Hosea 6:5 favors the hypothesis.—M.] For He hath torn, etc. (comp. Hosea 5:14). Strong faith. The Lord who had spoken with such threatenings, and such implacable severity, would yet give salvation (and not Assyria, 6:13). This would also be true if the words וירפּאנו, ויחבשׁנו are taken as expressing a wish, which is readily suggested by a frequent usage of ו with the future: and may He heal us, etc. (so also in the following sentences).—כי. The resolve to return would then be strengthened by the calamity which God sends. If דיחבשׁנו be taken not as expressing a wish but simply a hope the determination to return would rather be strengthened by this hope, as the healing, etc., would be the fruit of the return. [On the grammatical and logical connection of the different clauses of the first three verses, see Gram. note.—M.] An allusion to Deuteronomy 32:39 can hardly be mistaken, especially if we look to Hosea 6:2.

Hosea 6:2. He will revive us again, etc. The definite limits: two days, and: on the third day, hold out the prospect of the speedy and sure revival of Israel. “Two and three days are very short periods of time; and the linking of two numbers following the one upon the other, expresses the certainty of what is to take place within the period named, just as in the so-called number-sayings in Amos 1:3; Job 5:19; Proverbs 6:16; Proverbs 30:15; Proverbs 30:18, in which the last and greatest number expresses the highest or utmost extent of the matter dealt with” (Keil). Both the Rabbinical interpretations of these numbers (e.g., that they relate to the three captivities, the Egyptian, the Babylonish, and the Roman) and the Christian, according to which Christ’s resurrection on the third day is indicated, are naturally inadmissible. The latter is excluded even by the words themselves. Israel is the subject of discourse: “it is torn, smitten, slain”; nothing is said of the exile itself, but in general there is set forth the termination of its existence as a people through the divine judgment (which to be sure was brought to pass by means of the exile). Israel expects, in the event of conversion, to be delivered from this situation and to be restored, and that speedily. It is naturally not the awakening of the physically dead that is announced; but it is a significant fact, that such an awakening is employed to illustrate the restoration of Israel, for it may lead us to infer that such a belief lay not far from the Prophet’s mind. Comp. for our verse, Isaiah 36:19 ff. (and for the whole section, Isa 6:16–21), and especially the well-known vision in Ezekiel 37:1-14. (See further No. 4 in the Doctrinal section.) [Comp. the remarks of Delitzsch on Job 19:25 ff. in his Commentary on that book, which contain the true principle of interpretation in such cases, and substantially agree with the method approved by Schmoller here. Henderson and Cowles agree in excluding any but an historic allusion, while Horsley and Pusey maintain the allegorical interpretation, the former seeing a “no very obscure, though but an oblique, allusion to our Lord’s resurrection on the third day,” the latter repudiating any other application, and carrying out the analogy to the extreme possibilities of fanciful conjecture. The explanation of the two and three days given above is probably the true one. With it Newcome and Henderson agree. Cowles suggests an allusion to the duration of the pestilence in Israel after David’s census of the people, and thinks that besides there “may be a tacit allusion to the fact that three days is about the extent of human endurance under extreme privations and hardships.”—M.] That we may live before Him: “under his protecting shelter and favor, comp. Genesis 17:18” (Keil).

Hosea 6:3. Let us know, pursue the knowledge of Jehovah. Keil rightly makes the verse parallel with Hosea 6:1, as a further appeal. The expression נִרְדְּפָה especially indicates an appeal, or, according to our view, a self-exhortation. The zeal and earnestness of the return is thus presented. “Know” must be taken in the sense of Hosea 4:1; Hosea 4:6. Jehovah had become an unknown, a strange God to the (idolatrous) people. Such knowledge has thus a practical aim, to acknowledge, to serve Him. The following words declare what is hoped for as the fruit of that knowledge: His coming forth is sure like the dawn, etc. Jehovah will appear bringing salvation. This is set forth under the figures of the daybreak and a fertilizing rain. The appearing of Jehovah is denoted as a rising by the image of the dawn (יַצַא, usually employed of the sun). The transition from night to day is set forth. Comp. Isaiah 58:8. And He will come as the rain for us, etc., i.e., reviving and refreshing. “In Deuteronomy 11:14 (comp. Deuteronomy 28:12 and Leviticus 26:4-5), the rain, or the early and latter rain, is mentioned among the blessings which the Lord will bestow upon his people if they shall serve Him with the whole heart. This promise the Lord will so fulfill in the case of his newly-revived people, that He himself will refresh them like a fertilizing rain” (Keil).

Hosea 6:4. What shall I do to thee, Ephraim? It is common to break off the discourse here, wrongly, with Hosea 6:3. It is supposed that there is here a first section containing a promise, to which the promise in chaps. 11. and 14. correspond, and that a new section begins in Hosea 6:4 with a new objurgatory discourse (Keil). But, in the first place, Hosea 6:1-3 do not really contain a promise of the Prophet, or of God through the Prophet, but only a hope of the people themselves. And, in the second place, Hosea 6:4 is too closely connected with the preceding (not as a promise of God attached to the foregoing), according to Luther’s translation: how will I do thee good, etc. ? For עשׂה does not mean: to do good, and חַסְדְּכֶם is not=the mercy which I will show you, and, especially, the comparison of God’s favor to the morning cloud and the vanishing dew would be unsuitable. The words rather contain a bitter complaint of Israel’s inconstancy, and that suggested just by the preceding words. A good and joyful feeling was there expressed. If Israel only had now such a feeling as was expressed in the words which the Prophet puts in their mouth, all would be well! But Israel is as inconstant as God is constant. Its goodness is as the morning cloud and the swiftly vanishing dew. Both the dew and the morning cloud are figures of evanescence. The dew has an allusion to the rain, with which Jehovah is compared by way of contrast; and the morning cloud disappearing so soon, points back to the dawn which surely brings the day. חסד, love, is naturally, on account of God’s complaint against the inconstancy of the people, to be understood of love towards God. Yet it may also be taken generally, and made to include man’s love to his neighbor as well. What shall I do to thee?=how shall I further punish thee? Then follows what God would yet do.

Hosea 6:5. Therefore—because the character of Israel was such as was described in Hosea 6:4. The words of my mouth is parallel to the Prophets, because the latter proclaimed God’s purposes; and the חצב was performed by the prophets just so far as they uttered the words of God. הָצַב, to hew out or off. The figure is that of hard stone or wood to which, by hewing, the right shape is given, and obdurate Israel is conceived of as having been subjected to such treatment for its good through the objurgations of the prophets. Similarly Luther after Jerome: to plane off.—The expression of the second member is stronger still: I slew them. A slaying influence is ascribed to God’s word. He gives to the prophets to announce death and ruin. In the words that follow we are probably to change the reading, and translate=and my judgment (goes forth) as light. [See Textual note.—M.] The image may have been chosen with reference to Hosea 6:4 : Since your love is like the morning cloud and the dew, vanishing quickly, when the sun rises, I will make such a sun rise as you do not wish. The judgment is here compared to a sunrise, which is elsewhere rather an image of a gracious visitation (comp. Hosea 6:3), perhaps in the sense that judgment reveals sins, the works of darkness, in their true light (comp. Ephesians 5:13).

Hosea 6:6 and the following ones confirm more definitely what is said in Hosea 6:5. What God wishes is love and the knowledge of God. The knowledge of God (=piety here) goes back to the essential idea of חֶסֶד as embracing in its general sense, love to God and man, though the latter here preponderates. In this sense Jesus cites it in Matthew 9:13; Matthew 12:7. On the meaning, comp. No. 5 in the Doctrinal and Ethical section.

Hosea 6:7. Yet the conduct of the people is just the opposite of what God desires. But they, like Adam, have broken the covenant. The reference is to Ephraim and Judah, not to the priests. And, therefore, כְּאָדָם does not express a contrast to these=ordinary men. It would rather indicate a contrast to Ephraim and Judah as the people of God. But this thought is quite remote. Viewing the passage without prejudice, the usual explanation is seen to be the most natural: like Adam Allusion is thus made to Genesis 3:0. Adam’s sin was the violation of a covenant: for with the command laid upon Adam, God entered into a relation with him, which, in accordance with the analogies of later agreements made with mankind, might be called a covenant. Such covenant-breaking is a בגד, a breach of fidelity. Then they were unfaithful to Me, as it were, pointing with the finger to the well known places of idolatrous worship, e.g., Bethel. Israel’s position, therefore, is one of apostasy from God. Israel contradicts its destiny, which was, to be God’s people. In fact, the verse expresses the want of that one thing which God desires, the want of the “knowledge of God.” Being a condition of intimacy with God, it is lost in apostasy from Him. Therefore, also, there is no חֶסֶו Hosea 6:8 ff. [Newcome, Pusey, and Cowles prefer the interpretation that understands Adam to be meant. Henderson rejects it, and prefers the rendering: they (are) like men (who) break a covenant. To this it might be objected, first, that this, which is in any case, a paraphrase, is not the natural translation of the words. If it were the author’s meaning, every reader, contemporary with him or otherwise, would have mistaken it, on the first view, at least. In the second place, such a periphrastic expression would be a very feeble, as well as unusual, way of conveying the notion that they had broken God’s covenant, in marked contrast to the directness of the charge in the second member of the verse. He objects to the other view that nowhere is there mention made of God’s entering into a covenant with Adam. But this objection is not valid if it appears that the transaction in which God and Adam were the parties was really of the nature of a covenant. And that term “is a concise and correct mode of asserting a plain Scriptural fact, namely, that God made to Adam a promise suspended upon a condition, and attached to disobedience a certain penalty. This is what in Scriptural language is meant by a covenant.” (Hodge, Systematic Theology, vol. 2. p. 117.) His other objection is trivial, that with the exception of three doubtful passages, of which the present is one, Adam is not used in the Old Testament after the first chapter of Genesis (he probably meant the fifth) as a proper name, nor is any reference made to our first parents. The nearest parallel to our passage is Job 31:33 : if I have concealed my transgression like Adam; of the correctness of which rendering there can be no reasonable doubt. Comp. Delitzsch on that passage in his Commentary on Job.—M.].

Hosea 6:8. Gilead might be taken here as the name of a city. But it never occurs as such, only as the name of a district on the east of the Jordan. It must therefore be assumed that the name of the district is applied here to the chief city, Mizpah. Or we might remain by the notion of the district, and the expression would then be a comparison=All Gilead is, as it were, a city of evil-doers, as full of them as a city is of men.—עָקֵב .עַקֻבָּה is a foot-mark, therefore: tracked with blood, full of bloody tracks. Here murderous actions are indicated without being definitely named.

Hosea 6:9. But the most shameful transactions occur in the west of the Jordan. Even priests act like robbers. גְּדוּד is a predatory band, a band of freebooters or robbers, therefore אִישׁ גְּדוּדּים=a companion of such bands, a robber. Like the lurking of robbers = as robbers lurk, so lurk a company of priests, they murder on the way to Shechem. Travellers are surprised by them on the way to Shechem. Shechem was a City of Refuge. Perhaps those are meant who sought refuge there. The priests are by many thought to be residents of Shechem. But Shechem was a Levitical, not a sacerdotal, city. The expression would then refer not to those dwelling within the city, but to those without, who fall upon persons going to Shechem. Bethel was rather the seat of the priests. Keil therefore supposes: “The way to Shechem is mentioned as a place of murders and bloody deeds, because the road to Bethel, the principal seat of worship belonging to the ten tribes, from Samaria the capital, and in fact from the northern part of the kingdom generally, lay through this city. Pilgrims to the feasts for the most part took this road; and the priests, who were taken from the dregs of the people, appear to have lain in wait for them, to rob, or, in case of resistance, to murder.” More strictly speaking, it must have been done on the return from Bethel to Shechem. The allusion is evidently to a definite event unknown to us. The same remark applies to the following words. כִּי is climactic. זִמָּה=shame, perhaps, unchastity. [This word does not mean shame or dishonor. It is primarily a device or plan either evil or good (comp. Job 17:11), though usually the former. The next meaning is wickedness; then specially a crime resulting from unchastity. For the connection between the two meanings see Leviticus 18:11.—M.]

Hosea 6:10. The consequences of the preceding. Probably both corporeal and spiritual whoredom are included.

Hosea 6:11. A threatening is appended against Judah also. “Judah also” is guilty. The harvest is as elsewhere an image of judgment, a cutting down (comp. also Isaiah 28:24 ff.) When I shall turn the captivity of my people. This appears, on the contrary, to refer to a deliverance, and therefore to be a promise. But it must be remembered that the judgment has for its aim the deliverance of God’s people (עַמּי) as a whole. But such deliverance is effected only through the judgment that falls upon the several parts first upon Israel and then upon Judah. The meaning therefore is, when Israel, the Ten Tribes, shall have received its punishment and been restored, Judah also will be punished. [This paraphrase of the passage does not agree with historical fact, and must therefore be rejected. The true view seems to be that of Keil: “שׁוּב שְׁבוּת never means: to bring back the captives, but in every passage where it occurs simply: to turn the captivity and that in the figurative sense of restitutio in integrum. ‘My people,’ i.e., the people of Jehovah is not Israel of the Ten Tribes but the covenant nation as a whole. Consequently ‘the captivity of my people’ is the misery into which Israel (of the twelve tribes) had been brought through its apostasy from God, not the Assyrian or Babylonian Exile, but the misery brought about by the sins of the people. God could avert this only by judgments, through which the ungodly were destroyed and the penitent converted. Consequently the following is the thought which we obtain from the verse: When God shall come to punish that He may root out ungodliness, and restore his people to their true destiny, Judah will also be visited with the judgment.”—] The whole is, not to be regarded as a promise, or the harvest as a harvest of joy. Nor is it necessary to attract the second hemistich of Hosea 6:11 to the first verse of chap. 7. (e.g., Meier).


1. Prophetic rebuke does not merely not spare rulers and kings: it is specially directed against them. This follows from the conviction of the high vocation the monarchy had to fulfill. It is the bearer of the magisterial office, and as such must administer and guard the divine law, and must therefore care both for the purity of God’s worship and the administration of justice. And if it neglects or directly violates its obligation, despises the divine law, and even introduces idolatry, perverts justice, exercises injustice or leaves it unpunished, it becomes recreant to God, from whom it receives its authority, and incurs his punishment. This, the Prophet, as God’s messenger, announces, and his voice is therefore at first a voice of warning in order to bring it back to the true path. But the Prophet arraigns not merely neglect or violation of the obligations entailed by the office a such, but also the personal conduct of the bearers of the office, with a due appreciation of the influence which they exercise by word and still more by deed, in virtue of their high position.

2. “In all inroads of sin and corruption we are to look not merely at the outward work, but at the power of darkness, the spirit, that lies behind as their most dexterous and astute controlling influence, which will maintain most craftily its right and cause; comp. Hosea 6:4” (Rieger).

3. Rieger: “So long as man under divine chastisement, supposes that he can find help and mitigate his misfortunes by trust in the creatures, he wanders off as though in a trackless wilderness, from the living fountain, and might preclude himself from the most essential self-humbling, the knowledge of his guilt. But when God presses upon him with his hand and he has no deliverer then is quickened in his heart a little seed implanted there before by God’s good hand; and thus the love of God is like a man who has sown seed in his land; he goes away to his place, and depends on that which the seed will produce it time and after the rough winter.” Most beautiful is the believing assurance with which the Prophet makes the chastened express their hope of favor if they should return to God. (This same hope is expressed in Deuteronomy 32:29.) Thus restoration after past destruction is hoped for, and the blessedness of this restoration is further and happily described by comparing the returning favor of God to the rising dawn and the descending rain of harvest, as beneficent and refreshing as the one, as fertilizing and fraught with as rich blessings as the other, it spreads its influence. Such a visitation of mercy was most fully vouchsafed through the Messiah; He was the Day-star from on high; in Him came to us the Son of God in the flesh to diffuse upon us the Holy Spirit like fertilizing rain. He brings, therefore, the true healing for the bruised, the true binding up of the wounds for the smitten, the true reviving for the slain—all under the condition (presupposed by the Prophet) of a penitent returning to God. That the Prophet himself, in putting these words into the mouths of the penitent, thought of the Messiah, can not be maintained. We must apply here also canon laid down at chaps 1–2. that the fulfillment took place under the Messiah, but in another and higher sense than the Prophet fancied, that the words inspired by the Spirit of God had a further range than the Prophet knew. The “revival” and the “upraising” imply primarily a restoration of Israel, and we have in Ezekiel 37:1-14 the completed picture of which our short sentence affords the outlines. But if the true restoration of God’s people has been and is now being accomplished only through Christ, we can go a step further, and show that the revival, proceeding from Him, which is essentially a partaking in a new spiritual life, finds its completion only in the awakening even from corporeal death to the enjoyment of eternal life, of those who have been spiritually quickened by Him. If we, therefore, from the stand-point of the New Testament, find in the words of our Prophet here an allusion to this, we are not really so far wrong as might seem. Nay, as the Prophet certainly speaks of a reviving in a spiritual sense, so he must take that image from an actual revival of the dead, as he took the preceding ones in Hosea 6:1 from the binding and healing of a wound, and this idea cannot be so remote from his language, even if we can say no more (Isaiah in Isaiah 26:19 evidently goes further). As regards the specification of time: on the third day, which so naturally suggests Christ’s resurrection,—the coincidence is certainly not accidental so far as the resurrection on the third day is to be regarded as a rising in “a very brief space of time.” He was, indeed, to die, but not to remain in the state of the dead any longer than was necessary, so to speak, in order to make his death an indubitable fact; rather, as the “First Fruits,” He should be soonest brought out of death by the mighty working of the Father, and it would thus be shown how completely God’s wrath, borne by Him, was quenched, and God’s favor restored. On the third day the sun of mercy thus rose even here. And upon this revival of the Messiah on the third day, is conditioned the revival of sinners, proceeding from Him, in time and eternity. We must, therefore, regard this passage of prophecy as at least significant from a New Testament stand-point, nor do we err if we say, that there is here contained more than the Prophet could conceive; it is a divine word resembling a seed of corn which does not simply represent what it actually is (even the most precious stone does no more than this), but conceals in itself something else far higher, the germ which it enfolds.

4.Hosea 6:5. There is expressed here a clear consciousness of the aim and lofty position of prophecy. It is above all not something inciDeutal, but is embraced organically in the divine economy. Its special mission is fulfilled when the people of God forget their calling, and disregarding the voice of their own conscience, no longer seize the true path, and, having already inwardly apostatized, attain only to weak resolves, which are never fulfilled (Hosea 6:4). Then God appears before his people, and sends them the prophets, who are, so to speak, a conscience standing outside of them. Through them He speaks the “words of his mouth” and rebukes his people. He announces through them his judgment; their words of rebuke themselves are a punishment to the people, at all events, a punishment by words before the punishment by deeds is sent, but yet essentially identical with it, inasmuch as it was intended to produce deep sorrow, to touch the inner man, and to bring painfully to the consciousness criminal apostasy from God, and has thus the same aim as actual punishment has. Thus the sending of the prophets appears in one passage as a punishment; therefore also the expression which speaks of God’s hewing and slaying through them is employed, and there is conjoined with it in one line the “rising of judgment like the sun,” which may be understood of the efficiency of the prophets themselves. It is declared in such passages as Hosea 12:11 that prophecy had in itself a more general significance, as it effected God’s revelation to the people, and brought Him into close relations with them, and was, in so far, an element of his dispensation of mercy. And, apart from this, as Hosea directly shows, it had not only a legal but also an evangelical aspect by its vocation as proclaiming God’s faithfulness, in virtue of which He had not rejected his people but had destined for them a great deliverance. Here, however, it is occupied with the race for which it was specially designed, and for them it preached punishment by holding up before them the law they had so contemptuously violated; it became a chastening rod through the Word, and it was to hold out to the people the prospect of the future salvation only through the medium of punishment, and must as its main duty “cut to pieces” and “slay.” The preaching of the New Covenant has, on the other hand, as its main duty, an evangelical mission, which must never be ignored. But still it cannot dispense with the preaching of the Law. It must, even there, recur to that as its next duty; for the Law is the true παιδαγωγὸς εἰς Χριστόν.

The worthlessness of sacrifice as a mere opus operatum is most distinctly emphasized by prophecy in opposition to the false esteem in which it was held, which was a token of religious and moral ruin, going hand in hand with an empty service forms and outward works. Sacrifice, in general was, as it seems, regarded as a good because a religious work, even when it was not performed in the strict legal manner, but was associated with calf and idol-worship, and therefore with a transgression of the Law (as in our context it is not legal sacrifice that is spoken of the address being to the kingdom of the ten tribes). In this they wishes to honor Jehovah, or pretended to do so. Comp. Hosea 6:6. In that passage the worthlessness of the outward sacrifice, which was only in form a seeking of Jehovah, and could not be a seeking from the heart (Hos 6:15), is strongly expressed. Comp. Micah 6:8; Isaiah 1:11-17; Psalms 40:7; Psalms 40:9; Ps. 1:8 ff.; Psalms 51:18 ff.; 1 Samuel 15:22.

To infer, however, from this polemic of prophecy against the opus operatum of sacrifice (sacrifice to an idol is to the Prophet only slaughter), that it values sacrifice in itself but little, and stands as to the Law, etc., upon a freer stand-point, is assuredly wrong. If the prophets were the stern guardians of the Law, and especially of the worship of Jehovah, and directed their rebukes against every depreciation of the law and every apostasy from Johavath, and if they also placed the ceremonial clement in worship in contrast to the ethical and internal, they did so because the latter was absent, and because it alone gave to sacrifice its real worth. And in our passage it is not to be overlooked that Hosea turns first to the sacrifices of the ten tribes, to the places of unlawful sacrifice, and denounces them as worthless, not merely on account of the absence of the inner qualities, but because he saw the people engaged in a course of conduct illegal and therefore displeasing to God, rejects their sacrifices and therefore so much the more opposes to these the inner qualities, and amongst these, the knowledge of God, which would lead back to God and thereby also to the legal worship of Jehovah with its sacrifices. On the relation of the sacrificial service to the future time of salvation, see on chap. 14

5.Hosea 6:7. “They have, like Adam, broken the covenant.” The passage is important as being the only, but a clear, reference to the Fall in the Old Testament. This is presented as a transgression of the Covenant, and God is therefore conceived of as standing to the first man in a covenantrelation. Adam’s sin appears, therefore, to the Prophet, not as something trifling, but as a great transgression, just as Paul speaks of it in the Epistle to the Romans, though there is nothing said of the consequences of this sin upon mankind. And while this transgression is thought of as a (the first) violation of the covenant, there is also ascribed to it a significance as influencing the destiny of the world.


Hosea 6:1. Würt. Summ.: Preachers should rebuke the sins of rulers as well as those of subjects, so that they bear not the guilt of the souls that are lost, whose blood God will require at their hands.

Hosea 6:2. Great zeal, even though it be in the cause of religion, is not the chief thing. It is of itself mere bigotry and has no merit, but is rather to be rejected if it is against the truth.

[Matthew Henry: Those that have apostatized from the truths of God are often the most subtle and barbarous persecutors of those that still adhere to them.—M.]

Hosea 6:4. The longer thou continuest in sin the more difficult is the return. He who commits sin is the servant of sin. At first he will not return, at last he cannot. The heart is hardened. The spirit of whoredom: not single sins that are committed, but an evil spirit rising up and taking possession of the soul. The more men sin against God, the more they lose the knowledge of Him, and the more difficult it is for them to return; and so the chastisement of God must be more severe to bring them back to Him.

Hosea 6:5. God spares not even his own, when they sin.

Starke: He who mingles with the ungodly will be punished with them.

[Pusey: In the presence of God there is needed no other witness against the sinner than his own conscience.—M.]

Hosea 6:6. Starke: God will not be slighted with the outward appearance of godliness. In distress men should indeed seek God, though not in hypocrisy, but in sincerity. Our most acceptable sacrifice to God, is the surrender of ourselves, body and soul, to Him.

Hosea 6:7. Würt. Summ.: Godless parents usually bring up godless children, whom God regards not as his, but as strange children, children of whoredom. They shall suffer a like punishment with their parents. But God will require their blood at the hands of their parents, from whom a heavy reckoning will be demanded. Therefore bring up your children in the chastening and admonition of the Lord, and they will not be strange children, but God’s, and heirs of eternal life.

Hosea 6:9. Starke: In time of war men should not be troubled so much about the cruelty and tyranny of their enemies, as they should lament and bewail their sins.

Hosea 6:10. Pfaff Bibelwerk: God has set firm bounds even to the great ones of this earth, and prescribed to them laws which they must observe. But when they remove these limits God pours out his wrath upon them like water.

Hengstenberg: If those are cursed who remove a neighbor’s landmarks, how much more they who remove those of God!

[Scott: When princes break down the fence of the divine law by their edicts, decisions, or examples, they open the flood-gates of God’s wrath: and when subjects willingly obey ungodly and persecuting statutes, they may expect to be given up to grievous exactions and oppressions; for God will disregard the interests, liberty, and security of those who disregard his honor and renounce his service.—M.]

Hosea 6:12. Luther: There is nothing more delicate than a moth. One can scarcely touch it without killing it, and yet it eats through cloth, and so destroys our clothing. And the wood-worm eats little by little through the hardest wood. So the wrath of God is despised by the ungodly, as though it were without power; yet whatever contends with it must come to destruction, and cannot be restored to its former condition by any might or influence. We are thus warned not to live on in such security, but to fear the Lord and walk in all his ways. All strength and force without this, will not defend us from his wrath.

[Pusey: So God visits the soul with different distresses, bodily or spiritual. He impairs, little by little, health of body or fineness of understanding; or He withdraws grace or spiritual strength, or allows lukewarmness or distaste for the things of God to creep over the soul. These are the gnawings of the moth, overlooked by the sinner, if he persevere in carelessness as to his conscience, yet bringing in the end entire decay of health, of understanding, of heart, of mind, unless God interfere by the mightier mercy of some heavy chastisement, to awaken him.—M.]

Hosea 6:13. Seek not thy consolation in the world, when the consequences of sin make themselves felt. It helps thee indeed, but only to drag thee completely into its power, and to certain ruin. If men would have the wounds of sin healed, they must hasten to the true Physician, and not to false ones, whose help is of no avail.
[Matthew Henry: Those who neglect God and seek to creatures for help shall certainly be disappointed; that depend upon them for support, will find them not foundations but broken reeds; that depend upon them for supply will find them not fountains but broken cisterns; that depend upon them for comfort and a cure will find them miserable comforters and physicians of no value.—M.]

Hosea 6:14. Starke: Those who have an angry God, concern themselves to no purpose about resisting their enemies or other misfortunes.

Hosea 6:15. [Matthew Henry: When men begin to complain more of their sins than of their afflictions, there begin to be some hopes of them. And this is that which God requires of us when we are under his correcting hand, that we own ourselves to be in fault, and to be justly corrected.—M.]

Chap. 6. Hosea 6:1. The language of the repenting sinner. How often does it come so late as this! But O that it would always come! How much must intervene before it comes (much use of the Lord’s chastening rod)! but how great also is the gain! Alas that it is so hard for men to decide so! but what a blessed decision it is!—M.]

Hosea 6:2. God revives us not only that we may live before Him, i.e., to his glory and service, but also live in the enjoyment of his presence and blessing.

Hosea 6:3. Delay is more disastrous in nothing than in turning to God. [Pusey: We know in order to follow: we follow in order to know. Light prepares the way for love. Love opens the mind for new love. The gifts of God are interwoven. They multiply and reproduce each other, until we come to the perfect state of eternity.—M.]

Hosea 6:4. Transient heats in religion do not accomplish the work which steadfastness must crown.

[Matthew Henry: God never destroys sinners till He sees there is no other way with them.—M.]

Hosea 6:5. Cramer: The Law is the ministry which, through the letter, kills. He, therefore, who is not slain and does not die to sin, cannot be made alive through the voice of the Gospel.

[Pusey: God’s past loving kindness, his pains (so to speak), his solicitations, the drawings of his grace, the tender mercies of his austere chastisements, will, in the day of judgment, stand out as clear as the light, and leave the sinner confounded, without excuse. In this life also God’s judgments are as a light which goeth forth, enlightening not the sinner who perishes, but others, in the darkness of ignorance, on whom they burst with a sudden blaze of light.]

Hosea 6:6. Würt. Summ.: The means by which we become partakers of the mercy of God, are not our works and desert, but the true knowledge of God and faith in Christ which works by love, in which God has more delight and satisfaction than in all outward works. And this is the sum of the whole Christian religion, that we believe in the name of the Son of God and have love toward one another.

Hosea 6:7. Pfaff. Bibelwerk. Beware of transgressing, by presumptuous sin, the covenant which thou hast made with thy God. He is a great God and not a man, with whom thou hast entered into obligations.

[Pusey: There, He does not say, where. But Israel and every sinner in Israel know full well, where. God points out to the conscience of sinners the place and the time, the very spot, where they offended Him. …The sinner’s conscience and memory fills up the word there. It sees the whole landscape of its sins around.—M.]

Hosea 6:10. Pfaff. Bibelwerk: Woe to the land, the city, or the church, where God sees nothing but abominations and sins!

Hosea 6:11. Each one reaps what he has sown. If thou dost become partaker in other men’s sins, thou wilt meet with their punishment. If the captivity of God’s people is certain, so is also deliverance But, on the other hand also, the promise presupposes the threatening: no deliverance without judgment upon sin; salvation comes, but only after a long and dark night. 


Hosea 5:2; Hosea 5:2.—שַׁהֲטָה is probably the Inf. Piel from שָׁחַט. [It is the inf. absol. with ה paragogic. The regular form would be שָׁחָטָה, but the Kamets-Hhatuph is changed to Patach. See Green, Gr., § 119, 3. Its construction with the finite verb follows a peculiar idiom, common in Hebrew. The literal translation is: they have made deep to slaughter. Comp. Isaiah 31:6. Ewald, comparing with Hosea 9:9, holds that our word is a false reading for שׁחתה, but there is no reason why the Prophet should not have used both expressions.—M.]

[2][Hosea 5:4.—E. V. and most Anglo-American expositors adopt another construction in the first hemistich, rendering: they will not frame their doings. Horsley, with the best Continental critics, prefers the rendering which is given in the margin of E. V. and adopted by Schmoller. Pusey is undecided, and indeed it is difficult to determine which is the true view; for no importance is to be attached to the objection of Henderson, that יִתְּנוּ would require an object expressed if the construction last referred to were the correct one.—M.]

Hosea 5:8; Hosea 5:8.—Before בֵּית אָוֶן supply בְּ.

Hosea 5:11; Hosea 5:11.—רְצוּץ is in the construct, state before מִשְׁפָט. It is not=broken, harassed in law, which is unsuitable here, but we have a genitivus efficient is, and משׁפט=judgment, as in Hosea 5:1 : crushed by judgment. On the combination הוֹשִׁיל הָלַךְ, see Ewald, § 285, 6. The words are coördinate. [See Green, § 269. This construction is frequent in Hosea; comp. Hosea 1:6; Hosea 6:4—M.] Fürst takes צַו in our passage= צִוּוּן, a pillar, especially a fingerpost. He, however, has the conjecture that= צוֹא, צוֹאָה filth, dirt, and this= שִׁקּוּצִים, גִּלּוּלִים, idols, and would then take דואיל from יאל, to be foolish (of which the Niphal occurs)=he was foolish, and followed after filth (filthy idol-worship). A further conjecture is that it may be an Ephraimitish mode of writing שָׁו (Job 15:31) =nothing, vanity. LXX.: ὀπίσω τῶν ματαίων.

[5][Chap. 6 Hosea 5:1-3.—The true construction of the various sentences in these verses is probably as follows: The first line of Hosea 5:1 contains an exhortation, the remainder of that and the following verse consisting of arguments in support of it; and the first line of Hosea 5:3 contains a parallel exhortation, followed in the remainder of the verse, by parallel arguments. A glance at the verses in their connection will show the appropriateness of this general view. That the opposite is true of the construction adopted in E. V. and by the English expositors generally, according to which the opening of Hosea 5:3 is regarded as a continuation of the reasons for returning, is evident both from the unfitness of that line as an argument, and from the consideration that all the pleas adduced in all three verses are drawn from expectations of favor from God Himself. The form of the Heb. pret. (with ה paragogic) here employed, also confirms this view. But there is no need of holding, according to the view preferred by Schmoller, that any of the intermediate verbs introduce an exhortation. This both weakens the force of the array of pleas successively adduced and mars the regular and beautiful structure of the section. נָשׁוּבָה (Hosea 5:1), נֵדְעָה and נִרְדְּפָה, (Hosea 5:3), therefore, being paragogic futures (Green, §§ 97, 1, 264), are cohortatives, and the only cohortatives in the section.—M]

Hosea 5:5; Hosea 5:5.—The object of חָצַבְתִּי is to be supplied by anticipation from הֲרַגִתִּים. Instead of אוֹר וּמִשְׁפָּטֶיךָ, the punctation and division of the words is probably to be changed according to the ancient versions, and וּמִשְׁפָּטִי כְאוֹר to be read. The Masoretic reading is encumbered with too many difficulties.

Hosea 5:9; Hosea 5:9.—חַכֵּי is for חַכֵּה = דַכּוֹת [constr. inf. Piel, equivalent to a participial noun. It is an imitation of the Chaldee. Henderson conjectures that the form is for מְהַכּי, Piel. Part.—שֶׁכְמָה. The translation of E. V.: by consent, has arisen from the Targum rendering, כְּתַף הַד: one shoulder. This view is now almost altogether abandoned—M.]

Hosea 5:11; Hosea 5:11.—שָׁת is used impersonally, being equivalent to a passive sense [one sets, prepares a harvest=a harvest is prepared.—M.]

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Hosea 6". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/hosea-6.html. 1857-84.
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