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AWFUL CONDITION OF THE PEOPLE DUE TO A LACK OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF JEHOVAH, FOR WHICH LACK THE PRIESTS ARE RESPONSIBLE, Hosea 4:1-19.
With chapter 4 opens the second main division of the Book of Hosea (Hosea 4:4-14). No definite plan of arrangement can be traced, though fresh beginnings may be recognized in Hosea 4:1; Hosea 5:1; Hosea 9:1; Hosea 11:12 (Hosea 12:1, in the Hebrew); Hosea 13:1; Hosea 14:1. The section as a whole may be taken to represent Hosea’s teaching after the death of Jeroboam II. Throughout the first few chapters the emphasis is upon the people’s guilt. This is the predominant note in chapter 4. In the first part (Hosea 4:1-10) the moral corruption in everyday life receives special condemnation, in Hosea 4:11-19 the moral corruption seen in the religious cult. Both sections close with announcements of judgment (Hosea 4:9-10; Hosea 4:19). At the same time the prophet, accuses the priests as responsible for the lamentable conditions (especially Hosea 4:4-8); they have failed to instruct the people in the law of Jehovah.
1-3. The moral corruption in everyday life.
Hear The prophet solemnly summons Israel to listen to the accusation he brings in the name of Jehovah.
Jehovah hath a controversy Jehovah is both plaintiff and judge (Isaiah 1:2; compare Hosea 12:2; Micah 6:2). He is proceeding against the people because their life and conduct are contrary to his will. All virtue and godliness have disappeared.
Truth Truthfulness and fidelity in their transactions. The lack of it is due to the want of mercy [“goodness”] The same word is translated in Hosea 2:19, “loving-kindness”; it is used here in the same sense as there (see on Hosea 2:19). The lack of love in turn is due to the absence of the knowledge of God See on Hosea 2:20 (compare Hosea 4:6; Hosea 5:4; Hosea 6:3, etc.). Note that Hosea does not say Jehovah; truthfulness and kindness are universally recognized virtues, not confined to the worshipers of Jehovah. Hosea 4:2 shows what is found in Israel in the place of virtue.
By swearing Better, with R.V., “There is naught but swearing.”
Lying R.V., “Breaking faith” The two expressions are closely connected, oaths are taken lightly and broken easily; the two combined are almost equivalent to false swearing or perjury (Hosea 10:4), the opposite of truthfulness (Hosea 4:1). Perjury, murder, theft, and adultery, all caused by the absence of lovingkindness (Hosea 4:1), are common; the ninth, sixth, eighth, and seventh commandments are thus broken.
They break out Into acts of violence.
Blood Bloody, violent deeds ( G.-K. 124n) toucheth blood One bloody deed follows closely upon another.
3. As a result the land is suffering a terrible calamity.
Shall… mourn The Hebrew tenses might be rendered as futures announcing calamity to come (so E.V.); it is more probable, however, that the prophet is thinking of a present calamity, future judgments being announced later in the chapter. The verbs should therefore be rendered, in perfect accord with the Hebrew grammar, does mourn, does languish, are taken away. The calamity seems to be a drought, from which men and beasts suffer. The last clause shows the extent of the drought.
The sea When the large bodies of water dry up the rivers and lakes do the same; then the fishes can live no more.
Taken away Perish (Isaiah 16:10; Isaiah 60:20, etc.).
The religious leaders are chiefly responsible for the sins of the people, Hosea 4:4-8.
Hosea 4:4, as it stands now, offers considerable difficulties to the interpreter, and has been variously explained.
Yet let no man strive… reprove In 1-3 the prophet has condemned the people, in 5ff. he accuses the priests, with these facts in mind we must seek for an interpretation of 4. The verse seems to mark the transition between the two sections. It is best interpreted as the utterance of the prophet, in a sense defending the people, who are to be pitied more than blamed. The words appear to be addressed partly to the speaker himself, the prophet, as if he desired to correct the harsh judgment uttered in 1, 2, partly to the people, who in the presence of the serious calamity described in 3 would accuse one another of being responsible for it. In the latter part of 4 he begins to point out where the real trouble lies.
Thy people are as they that strive with the Priest If this is the original reading the suggested interpretation of 4a cannot be correct, for here the people are again severely condemned. Following the present text, Henderson and others interpret the verse as meaning that the striving among the people is ordered by Jehovah to cease since “all reproof on the part of their friends and neighbors generally would prove fruitless, seeing they had reached a degree of hardihood which was equalled by the contumacy of those who refused to obey the priest when he gave judgments in the name of the Lord (Deuteronomy 17:12).” A similar comparison is found in Hosea 5:10. Others interpret 4a as spoken by the people, who are out of patience with the prophet and desire his denunciations and rebukes to cease; for this they are condemned by the prophet in 4b. There are serious doubts, however, concerning the accuracy of the text of 4b. (1) In Hosea 4:6 the priests are addressed; 5 is most naturally interpreted as addressed to the same. If so, it is strange that in or preceding 5 the priests are not mentioned as being addressed directly. (2) In view of the fierce denunciation of the priesthood in Hosea 4:6, would it not seem strange in Hosea to demand of the people obedience to priestly instruction, and that he should consider disobedience the limit of transgression? The trouble was that the people followed the example and instruction of the priests too willingly. (3) Hosea opposed the priests more vehemently than anyone else in the nation. Is it natural to suppose that he should hold up his own prophetic attitude as the culmination of apostasy? To relieve the difficulty various emendations have been suggested, all based more or less upon the unvocalized text and upon LXX. The most acceptable of these seems that of Beck, followed by G.A. Smith and others: “For my people are as their priestlings. O priest…” Hosea 4:4 and the opening words of Hosea 4:5 would then read, “Let none find fault and none upbraid, for my people are but as their priestlings. O priest, thou shalt stumble…” This emendation requires but slight alterations in the consonantal text.
From the people (4a), for whom the prophet has great sympathy, he turns to denounce the religious leaders (4b ff.). On priestlings, see on Hosea 10:5. Marti rejects 5, 6a as “foreign to the original context,” but his reasons are not convincing.
Fall R.V., “stumble.” Not with reference to sin, but punishment; equivalent to perish (Hosea 14:1).
In the day… night Both day and night; at all times. The night is mentioned with the prophet, since dreams and night visions (Numbers 12:6; Zechariah 1:8) form a very important means of prophetic revelation; the priest’s work is chiefly in the daytime.
Prophet Not spiritually minded prophets like Amos and Hosea, nor prophets of foreign deities, but mercenary prophets, who prophesied from low, selfish motives (Micah 3:11; compare Amos 7:12; 1 Kings 22:6; Isaiah 28:7). Prophets and priests who have become misleaders shall fall together.
Thy mother In Hosea 2:2, where the Israelites are addressed, the whole nation. In Psalms 149:2, the inhabitants of Jerusalem are called children of Zion (compare 2 Samuel 20:19). In these passages the mother is the nation or city, of which the inhabitants are the children. The priests who are here addressed are the constituent parts of the priestly order; the individual priests might be called its children; thy mother is therefore probably the priestly order or guild.
Hosea 4:6 continues the condemnation of the priests.
My people are destroyed A prophetic perfect. The event is still future, but the prophet is so sure of its occurrence that he pictures it as already present. The people must suffer for their sins, though these are due largely to the neglectfulness of priest and prophet.
For lack of knowledge Of Jehovah; the secret of the people’s sinfulness. For this lack the priests are responsible (see on Hosea 2:20).
Thou The priest; the pronoun is emphatic in Hebrew.
Knowledge Has the article in Hebrew; a specific kind of knowledge, of Jehovah and his will, of which the priests were the custodians (Ezekiel 44:23).
Rejected They have failed to be guided by it and to give proper instruction in it. Jehovah can use them no longer; they shall cease to be his priests. The latter part of Hosea 4:6 repeats the thought for the sake of emphasis.
Forgotten… forget Practically equivalent to reject; for as Jehovah’s knowing has an ethical aspect (see on Amos 3:2), so his forgetting.
Law of thy God Parallel with knowledge in the first part. The law supplies the knowledge. That written laws existed in Hosea’s time is beyond doubt (Hosea 8:12); but the term law (Hebrews torah) in prophetic literature is not limited to written law or to law in the narrow sense of that term; frequently it is synonymous with word (Isaiah 1:10; Isaiah 2:3), where in margin R.V. it is rendered “teaching,” or “instruction.” Like many theological terms, the word has a history, and in the course of that history it did not retain at all times the same meaning. In the postexilic period it became the technical term for the Five Books of Moses, or Pentateuch. From the occurrence of the word in various Old Testament books it has been assumed that this fact in itself proves conclusively the existence of the Pentateuch in complete written form at the time these books were written. If law and Pentateuch were always identical this would be valid reasoning, but there are many passages throughout the Old Testament in which the word does not refer to the Pentateuch. The noun comes probably though this is questioned by some from a verb to throw, that is, arrows; it is used also of the casting of lots. The casting of lots was one primitive way of determining the will of the deity (Ezekiel 21:21). From this usage of the verb the noun received its primary significance: every kind of instruction received from the deity by the casting of the lot. When a higher stage of communion with God was attained the noun came to denote every revelation received from God by prophet or priest, whatever the means of communication. When these expressions of the divine will were collected and put in writing, at first probably in small collections, the separate items and the entire collection were called Torah Law. At this stage the term came to be restricted to legal requirements. Only in a more advanced stage, when it was seen that practically all Hebrew law was contained in the Pentateuch, the term was employed to designate that group of books. (Compare Journal of Biblical Literature, xxiv, part i, pp. 1-16.) The significance of the word in any given passage must be determined very largely from the context. Here it is used of written law as well as of instruction otherwise received and given.
Thy children The individual members of the priestly guild (Hosea 4:5).
7. They The priests. Were increased [“multiplied”] Not only in numbers, but also in wealth and prosperity, sharing in the glories of the successful reign of Jeroboam II.
They sinned against me Prosperity led to moral and religious corruption among the people; the priests instead of stemming the tide of worldliness were carried away by it, and rather encouraged it (Hosea 4:8; compare Micah 3:11).
Change their glory into shame From their honorable position as representatives of Jehovah they will be cast into shame and degradation. In Hosea 4:5-6 the description of sin is followed by announcement of judgment; this is also the order in Hosea 4:7 and gives acceptable sense; emendations therefore seem unnecessary. It should be noted, however, that Targum and Peshitto appear to have read “they have changed” instead of “I will change.” That would be an additional description of the priests’ corruption; they have exchanged the glory which was theirs as priests of the true God for the degrading position of priests of the Baalim not in name, perhaps, but in deed. Ancient Jewish tradition recognizes this as a more accurate text but goes further, declaring that “their glory” was originally “my glory”; that is, they have exchanged the glory of Jehovah for the shameful service of the Baalim. All three readings give satisfactory sense; and in view of the conflicting testimony it may be impossible to say with certainty which is the original.
Hosea 4:8 continues the condemnation of the priests. Their holy office they use for selfish and mean ends.
They eat up the sin of my people Better, with R.V., “They feed on the sin of my people.” It is not necessary to translate sin offering for “sin”; and the question whether sin offering, in the technical sense of the term, was known in the days of Hosea cannot be determined from this passage; it is quite possible that it did exist. In a general sense all offerings may be called sin offerings. The thought is that “the more the people sin the more merrily thrive the priests”; for they receive a share of nearly all the offerings (1 Samuel 2:13-17).
They (the priests) set their heart Literally every one his heart. The expression means to cherish a longing for, and thus to encourage (Deuteronomy 24:15; Psalms 24:4).
Their The people’s.
9, 10. The judgment to fall upon priest and people alike.
And there [“it”] shall be, like people, like priest Priest and people shall perish alike. The fact that the former enjoys in his official capacity special nearness to Jehovah will not save him. This interpretation, which brings out the meaning of the Hebrew most naturally, is preferable to that which sees in these words a summing up of the preceding accusations and makes the next clause the beginning of the threat. Having made the general announcement of judgment, the prophet proceeds to describe in detail its character.
Them Hebrew, singular, the priest, that is, the priestly class, so throughout this section. The corrupt priests will be dealt with according to their deserts. The retribution is according to the lex talionis; the unholy greed will be punished with insufficiency of food (Leviticus 26:16; Micah 6:14).
They shall… not have enough Referring back to Hosea 4:8.
Commit whoredom To be understood not as in chapters 1-3 in a symbolic sense, but as in Hosea 4:11; Hosea 4:13-14, literally. This interpretation is supported by the character of the judgment threatened.
They… shall not increase They will be cursed with childlessness. Jehovah will withdraw his blessings because they, probably both priest and people, have left off to take [“taking”] heed Had no regard for Jehovah or for his will.
11. Whoredom The juxtaposition of the word with wine shows that it is to be interpreted literally.
Wine… new wine The former is a general term; on the latter see on Joel 1:5; Joel 1:10. Heart [“understanding”] See on Joel 2:12. The weakening of the understanding manifests itself in the conduct described in the following verses.
11-14. The religious corruption. In Hosea 4:1-2 the prophet emphasizes moral corruption, here religious impurities, though the latter are not and cannot be separated entirely from the former. The section begins with what may be a proverb expressing the thought that sin blinds the spiritual faculties (Isaiah 5:12; compare Joel 1:5).
12. Stocks Literally, wood, or tree. May refer (1), as in Habakkuk 2:19; Jeremiah 2:27; Jeremiah 10:8, to idolatrous images; or (2) to images thought to represent Jehovah, such as the calves at Beth-el and Dan (Hosea 8:4-5); or (3) to tree cult, which survived for some time in Israel (Hosea 4:13; compare Isaiah 1:29-31) and which is not unknown to-day (S.I. Curtis, Primitive Semitic Religions To-day, pp. 90ff.); or (4) to rabdomancy (see next clause), practiced among the Semites, the Scythians, the Germans, and other ancient nations. (3) is the most probable.
Ask counsel Consult through the oracle the divine will concerning proposed undertakings. The oracle of Jehovah alone was legitimate and was frequently consulted (2 Samuel 2:1; Judges 1:1); but the contemporaries of Hosea were using illegitimate means.
Their staff declareth unto them Upon staves they depend for divine direction. Marti sees here also a reference to tree cult; the staff he takes to mean a small sacred tree or the branch of a tree. Most commentators think that the prophet has in mind rabdomancy. Cyril of Alexandria calls this practice an invention of the Chaldeans; he describes the method of procedure as follows: Two staves were held upright, and while incantations were murmured over them they were allowed to fall; the oracle was determined from the direction in which the staves fell, whether forward or backward, to the right or to the left (Ezekiel 21:21). These practices are inspired by the spirit of whoredoms The impulse to practice whoredom which had taken possession of the people (Zechariah 13:2). 12b reads literally, They have played the harlot from under their God; they played the harlot, and thus freed themselves from the control of Jehovah. The expression is not quite the same as that in Hosea 1:2. In this verse also, as in 11, 13, 14, the expression might, perhaps, be understood in a literal sense, the immoralities and the spiritual apostasy were closely connected, but many commentators interpret Hosea 4:12 as referring to spiritual whoredom.
Hosea 4:13 describes in greater detail the religious corruption.
Tops of the mountains… hills Natural or artificial elevations were favorite spots for the erection of altars and sanctuaries; hence the designation high place for the local sanctuaries (Amos 7:9; 1 Samuel 9:12, etc. See article “High Place” in Hastings’s Dictionary of the Bible).
Burn incense See on Hosea 2:13. Oaks… poplars… elms [“terebinths”] Probably a survival of tree worship, though the next clause would seem to indicate that the places under these trees were selected on account of the shade (see on Hosea 4:12 and reference there). The trees mentioned are the most stately in Palestine, and would therefore receive special attention. The oaks flourished especially east of the Jordan, where they are still found. Tristram describes one thirty-seven feet in circumference with foliage having a circumference of ninety-one yards. The terebinth is frequently mentioned as a sacred tree. It grows in Palestine to a height of fifteen to twenty feet. Now the tree is comparatively rare west of the Jordan; there are still fine specimens in the territory of Moab. The poplar, literally, white tree, is mentioned only twice in the Old Testament, here and in Genesis 30:37. Some commentators identify it with the storax tree, chiefly because of the similarity between the Hebrew and the Arabic names. An objection to the view that this is the tree in the mind of Hosea is the fact that the storax is “nothing more than a very bushy shrub, rarely more than twelve feet in height, and neither from its size nor from its form would it be selected as a tree under the shadow of which sacrifices or incense might be offered.” More likely the prophet has in mind the white poplar, which Tristram says he saw in various parts of Galilee, of the Lebanon, and of Mount Hermon.
The shadow thereof is good The shade made these spots desirable; if the prophet thinks of tree cult, the thought may be implied that from these trees went out special virtue and power.
Therefore Because of the conditions described in 11-13a; it introduces the reference to punishment in 14; 13b is a subordinate clause; 13b and 14a might be translated, “Therefore, though your daughters play the harlot… commit adultery, I will not punish your daughters.…” This removes the difficulty felt by some commentators concerning the loose connection between 13a and 13b. The pronominal suffixes of the second person in 13b and 14a are peculiar, since the persons addressed there are in 14b referred to in the third person. Marti proposes to change all the suffixes into the third person. To do this, or to change the third into the second, would result in a smoother reading. Commit whoredom [“play the harlot”] The context makes it clear that the immoralities are those connected with the religious cult; they had crept from the Canaanitish religion into that of Israel. Originally there was probably behind the giving up of chastity in honor of the deity the desire to offer the most precious possession, but this motive was soon forgotten. In the worship of Jehovah these practices were out of place; and had the people known him they would have understood that they were an abomination to him.
Spouses R.V., “brides”; margin, “daughters-in-law”; designation of a young wife; here in general, wives.
14. Their shameful acts cannot be justified, but Jehovah knows that the chief fault is not with them; therefore the heaviest punishment will not fall upon the daughters and wives, but upon those leading them astray by their wicked example. Themselves [“they”] The fathers and husbands. Harlots [“prostitutes”] Literally, the consecrated ones (Deuteronomy 23:17-18); that is, women who are consecrated or consecrate themselves to a life of shame in honor of the deity. (See article “Harlot” in Hastings’s Dictionary of the Bible.) On the solemn occasion of sacrifice licentiousness is permitted to have full sway. The rest of the verse is, according to the English translations, an announcement of judgment; because of their corrupt condition the unthinking people shall be overthrown. It is preferable, however, to regard the words as expressing the result of the wickedness of the fathers and husbands, who would be looked upon as leaders; “And so the people that does not consider goes to its ruin.”
That doth not understand Those who do not think for themselves. Daughters are apt to imitate the fathers, wives the husbands.
Shall fall Or, go to ruin. Not through a judgment to come; their present immoralities are their ruin.
Hosea 4:16 continues the description of the corrupt condition. Between 14 and 16 stands a verse containing an appeal to Judah to take warning, and abstain from Israel’s transgressions. The originality of this verse is questioned by many on the same grounds as those mentioned in connection with Hosea 1:7. Others question the originality of 15a, referring 15b to Israel (compare Amos 4:4; Amos 5:5); but if any is denied to Hosea it should probably be the whole verse. As the verse stands at present the thought is that, if Israel is determined to continue in its apostasy, Judah ought to refuse to participate in its corrupt practices.
Play the harlot If original, the context favors a literal interpretation; if secondary, it is quite likely that spiritual harlotry is meant.
Offend Better, with R.V. margin, “become guilty,” by participating in the whoredom. Whether spiritual or physical, this was committed at the sanctuaries (13, 14); therefore Judah is admonished to remain away from them.
Gilgal See on Amos 4:4.
Beth-aven The name of a place southeast of Beth-el (Joshua 7:2; 1 Samuel 13:5); but Amos 4:4; Amos 5:5, make it more than probable that the prophet is thinking of Beth-el, the chief sanctuary of the northern kingdom. Its name means house of God; it is such no longer; therefore the prophet substitutes the other name meaning, house of vanity, or wickedness. On Beth-el see Amos 3:14. Nor swear, [“As”]
Jehovah liveth The common formula of an oath (Deuteronomy 6:13; Deuteronomy 10:20; 1 Samuel 14:39, etc.). To swear by the name of Jehovah is ordered in Deuteronomy; it is hardly likely, therefore, that the words of Hosea are to be understood as an attempt to abolish the formula entirely. What the prophet does deprecate are the oaths sworn by Jehovah in connection with the corrupt practices at Beth-el and Gilgal (Amos 8:14). What under normal conditions would be perfectly proper, under present conditions has become an abomination. Chiefly in view of Amos 5:5; Amos 8:14, several commentators suggest that Beer-sheba, the third sanctuary mentioned by Amos, was either read here originally or, at least, implied: “Nor swear at Beer-sheba, As Jehovah liveth.”
Hosea 4:16 does not connect with 15, but with 14, unless 15a is omitted and 15b is understood as addressed to Israel; at any rate, 16 continues the description of Israel’s depravity.
For Better, verily, surely (G.-K., 148d).
Israel slideth back as a backsliding heifer R.V., “Israel hath behaved himself stubbornly, like a stubborn heifer”; or simply, Israel is stubborn, like a stubborn heifer. Israel absolutely refuses to submit to the divine purpose (Deuteronomy 32:15).
Now Jehovah will feed them as a lamb in a large place Understood commonly as a threat. “As Israel would not submit to the yoke of the divine law, it should have what it desired. God would feed it like a lamb which, being in a wide field, becomes a prey of the wolves and wild beasts” (Keil). Similarly Delitzsch, “Jehovah will find means to make the obstinate heifer which will not wear the yoke quiet as a lamb; and the heifer which will not plow the fields of its own country shall roam like a tame lamb the wide plains of strangers.” A serious objection to this rendering is that large place everywhere else is a symbol of prosperity (Isaiah 30:23; Psalms 18:19; Psalms 31:8, etc.). The difficulty disappears if the clause is translated as a rhetorical question or exclamation: “(This being so) shall now Jehovah feed them as a lamb in a large place?” Answer, Certainly not. Or, as Cheyne renders with some freedom, “Israel is a stubborn heifer; how then should it expect to be treated kindly as a lamb?”
What its treatment shall be is stated in Hosea 4:17. Marti omits the words entirely; Hosea 4:17 he abbreviates; in 18a he alters the text so that 16, 17, 18a read, “For Israel hath behaved himself stubbornly, like a stubborn heifer; Ephraim is joined to idols, a company of drunkards.” These changes are unwarranted.
Ephraim Israel. Ephraim was the most prominent tribe of the north (Hosea 13:1).
Joined to idols Is so bound up with its idols that it cannot give them up (Isaiah 44:11). Nominally Israel retained Jehovah worship, but it appropriated so many heathen elements that to Hosea it appeared to be idolatry.
Let him alone The speaker is Jehovah (compare Hosea 4:12; Hosea 4:14); the one addressed can only be the prophet, not Judah; he is to leave Israel to its fate, since nothing can be done with or for it (2 Samuel 16:11; 2 Kings 23:18). LXX. offers a text which may be rendered either “which (the idols) he (Ephraim) made for himself stumbling-blocks,” or simply, “he made for himself stumbling-blocks.” Whether this represents the original it is difficult to say, the present Hebrew text gives good sense.
Hosea 4:18 is obscure; here, as elsewhere in 15-19, the correctness of the Hebrew text is open to question. The uncertainty is increased by the conflicting testimony of the ancient versions. Assuming that the Hebrew text is correct, the following appears to be the most probable interpretation:
Their drink is sour Certainly an incorrect translation.
Drink appears to be used in the sense of drinking, carousing (1 Samuel 1:14; 1 Samuel 25:37). The verb means is finished, is passed (1 Samuel 15:32); therefore R.V. margin is nearer the truth, “Their carouse is over.” The first two clauses of Hosea 4:18 are thrown together without conjunction, due to the deep emotion of the prophet. The connection must be supplied and may be indicated thus: “When their carousing is over they play the harlot”; that is, when they grow weary of one form of sin they immediately plunge into another.
They have committed whoredom continually The verb form describes a common practice, and would better be reproduced in the English by the present tense; so R.V., “they play the harlot continually.”
But this does not reproduce fully the force of the original. The emphasis is not upon the continuation, but upon the eagerness with which the immoralities are practiced; a better rendering would be, “they indulge in whoredom.”
Her rulers with shame do love, Give ye R.V., “her rulers dearly love shame”; margin, “they are given up to love (impure love); her rulers are a shame,” while possible, is not so good. In the Hebrew three letters seem to be accidentally repeated; if they are omitted the text reads, “her rulers love shame”; a slight emendation would give the more emphatic reading of R.V.
Rulers Literally, shields (Psalms 47:9); the office of the rulers was to guard and shield the people. This they neglected to do; all they cared for were the shameful practices.
The section closes with an announcement of judgment, in Hosea 4:19.
The wind hath bound [“wrapped”] her up in her [“its”] wings The tense is the so-called prophetic perfect; the event is still future but imminent, and the prophet is sure of its occurrence. The figure expresses the suddenness and violence with which Israel will be swept away (Isaiah 59:19).
They shall be ashamed [“put to shame”] because of their sacrifices Sacrifices, with an unusual plural ending in Hebrew, would stand for the religious cult in general; its corruption (11ff.) is the cause of the nation’s overthrow. Neither the margin, “their altars shall be put to shame” nor LXX., “they shall be put to shame because of their altars,” is as good. Hosea 4:18-19 contain several linguistic peculiarities; the freedom in the use of the pronouns is unusual, and it is quite possible that the text of 11-19 has not been handed down in its original purity.
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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Hosea 4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26