Hosea 9 - Outline of Hosea (Book Notes menu page)
B. The LORD's case against Israel expanded (6:4-11:11)
1. Israel's Guilt and Punishment (6:4-8:14)
2. Israel's Guilt and Punishment Reiterated (9:1-11:7)
  1. The Land of Fruitfulness: Barren (9:1-10)
1. Rejoice not, O Israel, for joy, as [other] people:
for thou hast gone a whoring from thy God,
thou hast loved a reward upon every cornfloor.
2 The floor and the winepress shall not feed them,
and the new wine shall fail in her.
3 They shall not dwell in the LORD'S land;
but Ephraim shall return to Egypt,
and they shall eat unclean [things] in Assyria.
Rejoice not, O Israel... Ephraim...-
As we have seen, Hosea applies the names Israel and Ephraim synonymously to the northern kingdom, because (1) Ephraim was the largest of the ten northern tribes, and (2) Bethel, the center of idolatrous worship, was in the territory belonging to the tribe of Ephraim.
     In the chapters before us (ch. 9 - 11:7), the LORD addresses the nation with regard to the meaning of the name 'Ephraim,' which is "fruitfulness" (Gen 41:52).
Rejoice not... for thou hast gone a whoring from thy God... a reward upon every cornfloor.-
Israel would not know the joy of a bountiful harvest, which she had sought from Baal and other false gods, through participation in idolatrous fertility rites (Hos 2:5). The word 'reward' in v.1, refers to the hire of a harlot.
the floor and the winepress shall not feed them...-
There would be insufficient wine and too little grain upon the threshing floor to sustain the people.
Because they would know the removal of God's blessing (2:8,9).
They shall not dwell in the LORD's land...- Lev 25:23; Lev 18:26-28
Rather, they would be deported...
  • spiritually to Egypt (from where they had once been delivered from spiritual bondage, Hos 8:13)
  • physically to Assyria (where the heathen customs and culture would make it difficult for a good Jew to remain undefiled, eg., Dan 1:8)
4 They shall not offer wine [offerings] to the LORD,
neither shall they be pleasing unto him:
their sacrifices [shall be] unto them as the bread of mourners;
all that eat thereof shall be polluted:
for their bread for their soul shall not come into the house of the LORD.
5 What will ye do in the solemn day, and in the day of the feast of the LORD?
6 For, lo, they are gone because of destruction:
Egypt shall gather them up, Memphis shall bury them:
the pleasant [places] for their silver, nettles shall possess them:
thorns [shall be] in their tabernacles.
...their sacrifices shall be unto them as the bread of mourners...-
Exiled from the land of Israel, they would be farther still from the house where the LORD had chosen to place His name (the Temple in Jerusalem). Their sacrifices and offerings would be like the food eaten at funerals: unclean, due to its association with death (Num 19:14-16,22). It might satisfy the hunger of the body, but being unacceptable before the LORD, it would not meet the need of the soul.
What will ye do in the solemn {HB=mo'ed, appointed} day... in the day of the feast of the LORD?-
Expelled from the land, far removed from Jerusalem, they would be unable to participate in the feasts prescribed by the Law, including the three which all Israelite men were commanded to attend. (Deu 16:16; Leviticus ch. 23 describes the seven annual feasts in detail.)
For, lo, they are gone because of destruction... thorns shall be in their tabernacles {tents, dwelling places}.-
Meanwhile, back in the land, their possessions would be scavenged by foreigners, their unworked fields, buried treasures, and unoccupied homes would become overgrown with thistles and briars. Deu 28:63,64; Isa 5:4-7; Psa 107:33,34
7. The days of visitation are come, the days of recompence are come;
Israel shall know [it]:
the prophet [is] a fool, the spiritual man [is] mad,
for the multitude of thine iniquity, and the great hatred.
8 The watchman of Ephraim [was] with my God:
[but] the prophet [is] a snare of a fowler in all his ways,
[and] hatred in the house of his God.
The days of visitation are come... Israel shall know it...-
Over many years, the LORD had warned the nation of the consequences of their sin. Though they had disregarded His Word, He had been gracious and longsuffering, sending His prophets to warn them again and again. Still, they paid no attention. Now, He was about to visit {HB=paqad, attend to, look after, pay attention to} giving them the recompense {reward, retribution} of which He had been speaking. (See the word 'visit' in Jer 23:2.)
The prophet is a fool, the spiritual man is mad...-
Two types of prophets are in view in these verses:
  • False prophets -
    • a fool...- Eze 13:3
    • a snare...- Lam 2:14
      The false prophets were highly regarded because they said what the people and their rulers wanted to hear. By their lying words, they laid traps to seduce and destroy those who heard them.
  • True prophets -
    • the spiritual man (ie., sent by God's Spirit) -
      Such prophets are regarded as mad (ie., insane) by unbelievers. Examples: a young prophet commissioned by the prophet Elisha (2Kin 9:11); the prophet Jeremiah (Jer 29:26,27).
    • the watchman... with my God -
      (ie., a man appointed by God, to hear His Word and warn of judgment.)
      eg., Ezekiel, Eze 3:17; 33:7).
      Such prophets are regarded with animosity {ie., hatred} by the religious leadership (Jer 6:17-19).
...for the multitude of thine iniquity and the great hatred.-
Israel's error in rejecting God's prophets and accepting false prophets was because of:
  • iniquity {perversity, love of evil} - Because the priests, rulers, false prophets and people refused His warnings, the LORD gave them over to the confusion of their own way. Eze 14:6-10; cp. Rom 1:28-32; 2The 2:10-12
  • hatred {animosity} toward God and His Truth. cp. John 3:19,20
...Israel shall know it.-
Though they had long listened to lies and refused the truth, when the judgment came upon them as foretold, they would be able to discern which prophets had spoken for God.
9 They have deeply corrupted [themselves], as in the days of Gibeah:
[therefore] he will remember their iniquity, he will visit their sins.
10 I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness;
I saw your fathers as the firstripe in the fig tree at her first time:
[but] they went to Baalpeor, and separated themselves unto [that] shame;
and [their] abominations were according as they loved.
...deeply corrupted... as in the days of Gibeah...-
The reference is to a sordid account, recorded in Judges ch. 19-21. A traveling Levite and his concubine stopped for the night in Gibeah, where the bisexual men of the place raped and murdered the woman. This incident represented depravity not seen in Israel, since their bondage in Egypt (Judg 19:30). But since 'the days of Gibeah,' the nation had permeated itself with such corruption. How could the LORD do anything but visit judgment upon their sins? Yet, He mourns for their wandering hearts.
I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness...-
Israel had been, to Him, like an unexpected source of refreshment and delight, in a barren land.
I saw your fathers as the firstripe in the fig tree at her first time.-
At Israel's beginning, the tenderness of the LORD's relationship, with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, had been exquisitely delicious. The picture of first-ripe figs and tender grapes speaks of mutual love (Song 2:13).
but they went to Baalpeor... their abominations were according as they loved.-
But Israel had exchanged the LORD's love for the shameful perversions of idolatrous worship, in which they had previously engaged at Baalpeor. As they had done in Moses' day (Num 25:1-3), so they were doing in Hosea's day (Hos 4:13).
2. Israel's Guilt and Punishment Reiterated (9:1-11:7)
a. The Land of Fruitfulness: Barren (9:1-10)
b. The Children of Fruitfulness: Bereaved (9:11-17)
11. [As for] Ephraim, their glory shall fly away like a bird,
from the birth, and from the womb, and from the conception.
12 Though they bring up their children,
yet will I bereave them, [that there shall] not [be] a man [left]:
yea, woe also to them when I depart from them!
13 Ephraim, as I saw Tyrus, [is] planted in a pleasant place:
but Ephraim shall bring forth his children to the murderer.
14 Give them, O LORD: what wilt thou give?
give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts.
As for Ephraim, their glory shall fly away...-
Ephraim's glory, as the largest tribe, was in the number of children. Her children were a gift from the LORD (Psa 127:3). But now, as judgment fell, she would be bereft of her children. Their birth rate would drop, while the rate of attrition increased.
Ephraim, as I saw Tyrus, is planted in a pleasant place...-
In the Hebrew text, the first half of v.13 is difficult. The word translated 'Tyrus' means 'rock' or 'flint' and can also connote 'distress due to an adversary' (like the English idiom: 'between a rock and a hard place').
Consider these alternate translations:
  • "Ephraim! when I have looked to the rock, Is planted in comeliness, And Ephraim is to bring out unto a slayer his sons." [YLT]
    In other words, when they were following the LORD, their Rock, He blessed them and caused them to flourish. But now that they had turned from Him, the fruit of Ephraim (their children) were no longer under His blessing and protection.
  • "Ephraim, as I saw him, was a Tyre planted in a beautiful place; but Ephraim shall bring forth his children to the slayer." [Darby]
    In other words, as God originally blessed Ephraim they were well situated, strong and secure (like Tyre, or like a rock). But under God's judgment for their sin, they would be bereaved of their children.
  • "Ephraim's sons, as I have seen, are destined for a prey, Ephraim must lead forth his sons to slaughter." [RSV, the word 'prey' is as rendered in the GK Septuagint]
    This translation also fits the context well. The prophet has 'seen' the future of Ephraim.
    Their previously fruitful rate of birth would only provide victims for the murderer.
Give them, O LORD: what wilt thou give? ...a miscarrying womb...-
Hosea, overwhelmed with the plight of his people, prays for them with compassion. It would be better to be childless than to raise children to be murdered (Luk 23:29).
15 All their wickedness [is] in Gilgal: for there I hated them:
for the wickedness of their doings I will drive them out of mine house,
I will love them no more: all their princes [are] revolters.
16 Ephraim is smitten, their root is dried up, they shall bear no fruit:
yea, though they bring forth, yet will I slay [even] the beloved [fruit] of their womb.
17 My God will cast them away, because they did not hearken unto him:
and they shall be wanderers among the nations.
All their wickedness is in Gilgal...-
The evil, for which they were coming under judgment, had been in evidence, in years past, in the place called Gilgal.
  • At Gilgal, Israel had reaffirmed the covenant with the LORD (c.1450 BC). -
    As Israel entered into the promised land following their Exodus from Egypt, it was at Gilgal {meaning 'a rolling'}, that they had renewed the neglected sign of the covenant, by symbolically rolling away the sinful flesh with the rite of circumcision. (Josh 4:19; 5:2-10)
  • At Gilgal, Israel had dethroned the LORD,
    because they desired a king like the other nations (c.1050 BC). 1Sam 8:7,8; 11:14,15
  • At Gilgal, king Saul, in an exercise of self-will, disobeyed God's Word
    and took upon himself the role reserved for a priest. 1Sam 13:8-14
  • At Gilgal, the people joined king Saul in willful disobedience
    of the LORD's command (c.1035 BC). 1Sam 15:1-23
  • At Gilgal, the northern kingdom created one of several centers of idolatrous worship,
    under king Jeroboam I (c.931 BC) and perpetuated by his successors.
    Amos 4:4,5; Hos 4:15 (who was writing c.730 BC)
...I will drive them out of mine house {ie., from His land, v.3}, I will love them no more...-
The LORD would expel them, like an unfaithful wife with her illegitimate children, born of adultery (Hos 2:2-4). The same word for 'drive out' is used of the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden (Gen 3:24).
Ephraim is smitten... they shall bear no fruit... though they bring forth, yet will I slay (v.11,12)...
...because they did not hearken unto Him, and they shall be wanderers among the nations.- Lev 26:27-33

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