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

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

Verses 1-11

Hos 6:1-11


TEXT: Hosea 6:1-11

Hosea 6:1 Come,H1980 and let us returnH7725 untoH413 the LORD:H3068 forH3588 heH1931 hath torn,H2963 and he will healH7495 us; he hath smitten,H5221 and he will bind us up.H2280

Hosea 6:2 After two daysH4480 H3117 will he reviveH2421 us: in the thirdH7992 dayH3117 he will raise us up,H6965 and we shall liveH2421 in his sight.H6440

Hosea 6:3 Then shall we know,H3045 if we follow onH7291 to knowH3045 (H853) the LORD:H3068 his going forthH4161 is preparedH3559 as the morning;H7837 and he shall comeH935 unto us as the rain,H1653 as the latterH4456 and former rainH3138 unto the earth.H776

Hosea 6:1-3 COME, AND LET US RETURN UNTO JEHOVAH . . . AFTER TWO DAYS . . . ON THE THIRD DAY HE WILL RAISE US UP . . . LET US FOLLOW ON TO KNOW JEHOVAH . . . These three verses should, if we can follow context at all, be a part of the preceding chapter, They should never have been put into another chapter, and thus separated contextually. God has spoken of His withdrawal from the nation of Israel; He is going to leave them to their choice which has been sin. But He leaves the door of repentance open. And Hosea appeals to the people, as one of them, to return to God through that door which God has left open. Hosea’s words here are some of the most tender and beautiful words found in the Bible. God wounds in order that He may heal! God chastens in order that He may bless! K & D says, “As the endurance of punishment impels to seek the Lord (ch. Hosea 6), so the motive to return to the Lord is founded upon the knowledge of the fact that the Lord can, and will, heal the wounds which He inflicts,” Every child of God “has need of endurance, so that you may do the will of God and receive what is promised” (Hebrews 10:36). We have discussed the matter of chastening earlier in this work so we will not go into it in detail here. Suffice it so say that one of the greatest lessons to be learned from the Old Testament prophets is that God chastens like a loving Father in order to bless the penitent and to punish the impenitent.

Zerr: Hosea 6:1. This verse may be considered both as an exhortation and a predction. The Lord through his prophet exhorts the people to come to themselves and the prophet sees them doing so. See the comments on the last clause of Hosea 5:15. Hosea 6:2. The numerals are used figuratively, meaning that he (the Lord) would punish them for a while, then receive them back again. This is one form of prediction that indicates the captivity and the return. Hosea 6:3. If we follow on to know the Lord is a fundamental principle of the Bible. Following the Lord effectively always includes the interest sufficient to learn about Him. It was taught by Jesus in Matthew 11:29 where he says for men to "learn of him." But no one can truly learn what he should of the Lord unless he is a faithful follower of Him. Latter and former ["early”] rain. The significance of this expression will be better appreciated by remembering that the rainfall in Palestine was periodical. Also, that the latter rain came before the former or "early” rain with reference to the production of crops. I shall quote from Smith’s Bible Dictionary on this subject: “Raitu In the Bible ‘early rain* signifies the rain of the autumn, Deuteronomy 11:14, and ’latter rain’ the rain of spring. Proverbs IS; 15. For six months in the year, from May to October, no rain falls, the whole land becomes dry, parched and brown. The autumnal rains are eagerly looked for, to prepare the earth for the reception of the seed. These, the early rains, commence about the latter end of October, continuing through November and December. January and February are the coldest months, and snow falls, sometimes to the depth of a foot or more, at Jerusalem, but it does not lie long; it is very seldom seen along the coast and in the low plains. Rain continues to Call more or less during the month of March; it is very rare In April." Since the falling of these rains in their proper seasons meant much to the production of crops, the phrase is used to signify the blessings in general coining from the Lord.

Two and three days are very short periods of time. The phrase used here in Hosea 6:2 expresses the certainty of what is to take place within a short period of time. It is a short time, a time known only to God, but a time definitely established and determined by the omniscience of God. Just as certainly as the Perfectly-Righteous and Perfectly-Just God punishes sin, so He will certainly save those who repent. This is Hosea’s main intent in these words. Thus the primary audience is Israel, the northern kingdom. Whether “on the third day he will raise us up,” refers to the resurrection) of Jesus Christ (cf. Luke 24:44-46) in either a symbolic or allegorical way, or not, we cannot say dogmatically. However, in the light of Hosea 11:1 (cf. Matthew 2:15) and other such passages, we take the position that this phrase is a prophecy of the Messiah’s resurrection. At least it probably refers to the conversion of “spiritual Israel” (the church) to the Lord its God, through faith in the redemptive death and resurrection of the Messiah. This is one of those prophecies with double emphasis (see our notes on Interpreting the Prophets).

The knowledge of Jehovah which Hosea exhorts his fellow countrymen to zealously strive for is an experiential knowledge of the heart as well as the head. It is the knowledge of which John the apostles writes, “And by this we may be sure that we know him, if we keep his commandments” (1 John 2:3 ff). If Israel knows her God practically, by keeping His commandments, then forgiveness and blessing is sure to follow such knowledge. Again this reminds us of the apostle John, “. . . if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). God is faithful; let us be faithful. Indeed, the faithfulness of God, as demonstrated in His mighty miracles witnessed and recorded in history, is motive enough to inspire us to faithfulness. This is what Hosea is inferring when He says, “his going forth is sure as the morning, etc.” This is the refrain running throughout all the prophets as they attempt to direct the attention of the people back in history to God’s dealings with their forefathers—God is faithful; let us be faithful. This is the primary reason for the coming of Jesus Christ, to confirm once for all, the faithfulness of God (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:20; Hebrews 6:17-18). The Lord will rise upon Israel like the morning dawn (cf. Malachi 4:2; Luke 1:78; Ephesians 5:14; 2 Peter 1:19). As surely as the dawn follows the night (cf. Jeremiah 33:20; Jeremiah 33:25) according to divine government, so surely will blessing follow repentance. As surely as the rain, falling from heaven, nourishes the earth and produces fruitfulness, (Isaiah 55:10-13), so will the “going forth” of the Lord to bless a penitent people produce fruitfulness. The “latter rain” is the rain which usually comes in Palestine just before harvest-time.

Hosea 6:4 O Ephraim,H669 whatH4100 shall I doH6213 unto thee? O Judah,H3063 whatH4100 shall I doH6213 unto thee? for your goodnessH2617 is as a morningH1242 cloud,H6051 and as the earlyH7925 dewH2919 it goeth away.H1980

Hosea 6:4 O EPHRAIM, WHAT SHALL I DO UNTO THEE? . . . FOR YOUR GOODNESS IS AS A MORNING CLOUD . . . Contrasted with the unchangeable character of God and the absolute certainty of His promises, is the fickleness of Israel. Anyone who has lived on the seacoast or in low-lying areas will appreciate the figure of speech in Hosea 6:4. The early morning mists and fallen dew are quickly “burned off” by the hot sun; the mists vaporize and vanish. This is like the righteousness and love of Israel. It comes and goes. It appears for a short time, sporadically, then vaporizes and vanishes when the sun of tribulation or materialism bears down (cf. Matthew 13:20-21). The same figurative use of the word “dew” is to be found in Hosea 13:3. While the same prophet uses “dew” (Hosea 14:5) as a simile to express the refreshing salvation of Jehovah. Usage such as this should make Bible scholars cautious about insisting that a word must always have the same interpretation throughout the Bible! So, Hosea, speaking for God, says, “O, Israel, what else can I do to you to bring you to repentance? I have tried all kinds of chastisement to bring you back to trust in Me. All that is left is obliteration.”

Zerr: Hosea 6:4. The Lord frequently uses expressions that are common to man (Romans 6:19), in order to convey the thought to the ones involved. A human parent who was “at the end of his efforts" with his wayward children would likely speak in the manner of the first half of this verse. The reference to the dew or early cloud is to compare the instability or laek of permanence in the character of God’s children.

Hosea 6:5 ThereforeH5921 H3651 have I hewedH2672 them by the prophets;H5030 I have slainH2026 them by the wordsH561 of my mouth:H6310 and thy judgmentsH4941 are as the lightH216 that goeth forth.H3318

Hosea 6:5 THEREFORE HAVE I HEWED THEM BY THE PROPHETS . . . Because of their fickleness God had sent prophet-preachers to the nation. Through them God had “hewed” or carved the nation; He had worked it like a piece of carving wood, trying to shape it into a holy nation according to its true calling. But because the people would not be “hewn” the messages of the prophets “slew” them. In other words, their messages pronounced salvation upon the penitent but inevitable judgment upon the impenitent. The nation, for the most part, chose the sentence of death pronounced by the prophetic message. God’s call to repentance or judgment is always plain, forthright, unambiguous and bright as “light.” There can be no excuses by any man that God’s wrath is not revealed (cf. Romans 1:18 ff; John 3:16-21).

Zerr: Hosea 6:5. Sawed them by the prophets is figurative and means that when God decreed to punish his people he would warn them about it by the voice of the prophets. See Jeremiah 1:10 and Ezekiel 43:3 for similar statements, and note the marginal reading at the latter place. Thy is a pronoun that stands for the wayward people of God, and their judgments are described to be as fickle as their goodness is in Hosea 6:4.

Hosea 6:6 ForH3588 I desiredH2654 mercy,H2617 and notH3808 sacrifice;H2077 and the knowledgeH1847 of GodH430 more than burnt offerings.H4480 H5930

Hosea 6:6 FOR I DESIRE GOODNESS, AND NOT SACRIFICE . . . This verse does not mean, of course, that God wanted the Jews at this time to cease all Mosaic sacrifices and offerings. Indeed, to the last man of them the prophets insisted that the people return to the law of Moses (cf. our Special Study eight, pages 91–92). What God is protesting as to Israel’s sacrificing is the faithless, heartless manner in which they were being done. The people who were offering the sacrifices were not doing it because they had faith in Jehovah—there was no love in their hearts for God. Their offerings were abominable, revolting, sickening to the heart of God. What God wanted was faith and love to accompany the sacrifices; without this they were vain, useless—even worse than useless (cf. 1 Samuel 15:22; Isaiah 1:11-17; Micah 6:8; Psalms 50:8 ff; Psalms 51:15-17 etc.).

Zerr: Hosea 6:6. This verse is quoted by Jesus in Matthew 12:7, and applied to the cruel and hypocritical Jews of His time. The statement has been perverted by false teaehers who wish to avoid a strict adherence to the New Testament teaching. They make it mean that Jesus is not as particular in having the "doctrinal” points observed as he is in "practical" religion. But that use of the passage does violence to the authority of Christ. The remark was made concerning the selfrighteous and grasping leaders among the Jews, who would oppress the poor to obtain gain, then think to come to the altar with a part of the possessions they had extorted from the poor, and try to make it right before the Lord by making a sacrifice. Under those circumstances the Lord would not want their sacrifices, but rather that they show mercy to the people whom they had defrauded. It will again be appropriate for the reader to see the note offered at Isaiah 1:10.

Hosea 6:7 But theyH1992 like menH120 have transgressedH5674 the covenant:H1285 thereH8033 have they dealt treacherouslyH898 against me.

Hosea 6:7 BUT THEY LIKE ADAM HAVE TRANSGRESSED THE COVENANT . . . God’s first covenant was with Adam, and, subsequently to all mankind as represented in Adam. The promise was life from God; the provision was perfect obedience; the penalty of failure was death. This covenant with Adam expressed its promises and threatenings in visible signs—the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Man (Adam) fell (“transgressed the covenant”) and God, by His great mercy and love, provided a way of salvation apart from man’s personal obligation to sinless obedience as the condition of life. God covered man’s sin by grace; but man had to appropriate that grace by faith in God and faithful obedience to whatever covenant conditions or dispensation for this grace God imposed at whatever time in history man found himself to be living. Before Moses God administered His covenant of grace through patriarchal-sacrificial mediation. After Moses God dispensed His grace through the Levitical mediation. Both of these dispensations necessitated faith, without which they brought inevitable judgment. Each was a different dispensation (or administration) of the one, overall, covenant of grace begun by God in Genesis 3:15 when man fell from the covenant of perfect obedience. Each dispensation had conditions dictated by God to be kept according to the free moral choice of man. Each dispensation was but a foreshadow, figure, prophecy of that final full and complete dispensation of God’s covenant of grace to be realized in the atoning work of Jesus Christ when God interposed Himself (cf. Hebrews 6:17; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21). In Christ God discharged all man’s responsibility to sinlessness in His own Person. But, in order for man to appropriate this imputed righteousness so freely administered by the covenant of grace, man must respond to the covenant in faith, love and obedience. This Adam did not do; and this the nation of Israel did not do. The question of the moment, however, is, are we responding in faith and love and obedience to the covenant of grace which God so abundantly and certainly revealed in Christ Jesus which is now administered in the conditions recorded in the New Testament?!

Zerr: Hosea 6:7. The lexicon of Strong defines men as follows: "Ruddy, i. e., a human being (an individual, or the species, mankind, etc.)” In most Bibles the marginal reading gives the rendering "like Adam,” In Job 31:33 the text says, "as Adam," and the margin at that place says, “after the manner of men.” The thought in the verse is that Israel had followed the trend of mankind in general instead of conducting themselves as the servants of God. There means, with reference to the covenant; there is where they had dealt treacherously against Him.

Hosea 6:8 GileadH1568 is a cityH7151 of them that workH6466 iniquity,H205 and is pollutedH6121 with blood.H4480 H1818

Hosea 6:8 GILEAD IS A CITY OF THEM THAT WORK INIQUITY . . . Gilead, as a city, is not mentioned in the Old Testament. It is the name of a district standing for the whole territory of the land of the northern kingdom east of the Jordan river. This was probably the “bad lands” of Israel—a rendezvous for robbers and murders.

Zerr: Hosea 6:8. Gilead is a word of various significance in the Bible, usually refering to an extensive region of the land of the Jews. But it sometimes refers to a city and it is so used in this verse. The inhabitants of that city were sinners to a special degree and hence are mentioned in this specific manner. The particular evil of which they were guilty was murder.

Hosea 6:9 And as troops of robbersH1416 waitH2442 for a man,H376 so the companyH2267 of priestsH3548 murderH7523 in the wayH1870 by consent:H7926 forH3588 they commitH6213 lewdness.H2154

Hosea 6:9 . . . TROOPS OF ROBBERS WAIT FOR A MAN, SO THE COMPANY OF PRIESTS MURDER . . . Gangs of apostate priests were robbing and killing and fleeing to these “bad lands” and using Levitical cities as sanctuaries. These criminals were finding protection by using sacred cities of refuge in which to hide. This verse indicates they were guilty also of unnatural and perverted acts of sexuality (“lewdness”). All such behavior was a natural consequence of Israel’s accommodation of the pagan, heathen idolatry of neighboring nations. Moral breakdown always follows rejection of God’s eternal truth!

Zerr: Hosea 6:9. Single or individual acts of lawlessness are bad enough, but when men conspire to commit sin as a group it Is much worse. That is what these Jews were doing, and they are likened to troops of robbers. Even the priests acted “in a body" or as the company of priests, and they did so by consent which means a conspiracy. Lewdness is an indefinite translation of the original in this place. The Hebrew is ZAMMAH and Strong defines it, "A plan, especially a bad one.” Hence the word is meant as an additional expression showing the spirit of conspiracy in which the priests acted. Lewdness, in its usual sense, is bad. and these people were guilty of that: but it was not the particular evil in the mind of the Lord here.

Hosea 6:10 I have seenH7200 an horrible thingH8186 in the houseH1004 of Israel:H3478 thereH8033 is the whoredomH2184 of Ephraim,H669 IsraelH3478 is defiled.H2930

Hosea 6:10 . . . WHOREDOM IS FOUND IN EPHRAIM, ISRAEL IS DEFILED. Undoubtedly this is a reference to both physical whoredom (cf. Hosea (cf. Hosea 4:2; Hosea 4:13) and idolatry which is called spiritual whoredom (cf. Hosea 5:3-4; Hosea 14:8, etc.). To “defile” is to contaminate or pollute. This is what Israel had done. She was contaminated with moral rottenness. She had made herself unacceptable to the holy, righteous, loving God by refusing Him and doing everything within her power to despise Him.

Zerr: Hosea 6:10. Both fleshly and spiritual whoredom were practiced in the Jewish nation, but the latter is evidently what the Lord has especially in mind here. Ephraim and Israel are named separately, because the capital of the latter was located in the possessions of the former.

Hosea 6:11 Also,H1571 O Judah,H3063 he hath setH7896 an harvestH7105 for thee, when I returnedH7725 the captivityH7622 of my people.H5971

Hosea 6:11 ALSO, O JUDAH, THERE IS A HARVEST APPOINTED FOR THEE . . . Judah has disregarded the exhortation of Hosea in chapter Hosea 4:17, “Ephraim is joined to idols, let him alone.” The southern kingdom has allowed itself to become defiled by idolatry also. Therefore, when God comes to judge and punish the covenant people (beginning with the northern kingdom, Israel), in order to purge them of this defilement and bring them back to their true destiny, Judah also will be judged and chastened by captivity. This verse has nothing at all to say as to when God will “bring back the captivity” of His people; the when has to be determined from other passages, which announce the exile of both Israel and Judah, and the eventual restoration of those who are converted to Jehovah (and it includes “all the nations”). Thus we must conclude that the complete “bringing back the captivity” of God’s covenant people finds its ultimate fulfillment in the establishment of the Messianic kingdom (the church on Pentecost) when all nations will “come up to Jerusalem.” The captivities of both Israel and Judah was the START of God’s plan of restoration! This is what is meant in this verse.

Zerr: Hosea 6:11. A passing notice is given frequently to Judah (the 2-tribe kingdom), but the main subject of this book is the affairs of Israel (the 10 tribe kingdom). In the present verse a wide space of time is covered. The prophet sees into the future when Judah, like Israel, will be sent into captivity for idolatry, hut afterwards be returned t,o the home land,


1. What do Hosea 6:1-3 of this chapter tell about the character of God?

2. What is the primary meaning of “after two . . . three days” in this context?

3. Could these “three” days have reference to Christ’s resurrection? How?

4. What does Hosea mean by “knowing” the Lord?

5. How were the people “hewn” by the prophets?

6. Does this chapter teach that the prophets preached cessation of sacrifices?

7. How did Adam transgress God’s covenant?

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Hosea 6". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/hosea-6.html.
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