Hos 5: "This appears in a section dealing with Israel's
intolerable wantonness, and the holiness of Yahweh (Hos 4-7). After Yahweh's
formal charge against Israel (Hos 4), the prophet now bears Yahweh's indictment
against the people and priests of the nation (Hos 5). The Deity will not
associate with sin in any sense. Therefore the prophet declares: (1) God
withdrew from the adulterous people: vv 1-7. (2) They would be abandoned to
their fate: vv 8-14. (3) Yet the door of reconciliation would be left open: v
15. The prophecy is dramatic, for it was delivered to Israel during the reign of
Jeroboam II in the north, and the line of four kings of Judah (Hos 1:1),
including the faithful Hezekiah. But sin was a festering sore in the nation,
waiting for the opportunity to burst forth in its degrading depravity. Yet the
mercy of Yahweh waited in the days of Hosea, and would return when they would
'seek Him early' (Hos 5:15). This was typically seen in the days of Hezekiah,
but will be fulfilled in 'the third day' (Hos 6:2)" (GEM).
MIZPAH... TABOR: There was an Israelite Mizpah in
Gilead (Jdg 10:17; 11:29), and a mount Tabor which stood in the Jezreel Valley
in northern Israel. These were eminent sites for hunting.
THE REBELS ARE DEEP IN SLAUGHTER: "They have made deep
the pit" (RSV) -- as though to trap men!
EPHRAIM: Ephraim had played the harlot against her
husband, the Lord, and had defiled herself by doing so (cf Lev 18:20,24; Num
5:20,27,28). Ephraim was the largest tribe in Israel and so frequently was a
synonym for the Northern Kingdom (eg, Hos 4:17). Hosea may have referred to
Ephraim here because this tribe was foremost in idolatry.
THEIR DEEDS DO NOT PERMIT THEM TO RETURN TO THEIR GOD. A
SPIRIT OF PROSTITUTION IS IN THEIR HEART: The idolatrous practices of the
Israelites -- together with the accompanying immoralities -- had ensnared them
so they could not return to their real God. The spirit of a harlot had taken
them over; they had become "sin-addicts". Consequently they did not acknowledge
ISRAEL'S ARROGANCE TESTIFIES AGAINST THEM: They sin
proudly, openly (cp Isa 3:9).
THE ISRAELITES, EVEN EPHRAIM, STUMBLE IN THEIR SIN:
With their proud noses high in the air, they frequently stumbled as they walked:
"Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall" (Pro
JUDAH ALSO STUMBLES WITH THEM: We are responsible for
others, who may follow our bad example.
WHEN THEY GO WITH THEIR FLOCKS AND HERDS TO SEEK THE LORD,
THEY WILL NOT FIND HIM; HE HAS WITHDRAWN HIMSELF FROM THEM: The guilty might
seek Yahweh, bringing their animal sacrifices to Him, but they would not find
Him because He had withdrawn from them. Whereas holiness makes fellowship with
God possible, sin and hypocrisy rule it out. He would withdraw His help and
blessing from them. He would not accept superficial, or hypocritical worship:
Psa 51:17; Jer 29:13; John 4:21,22; 2Ti 3:5.
Cp Mic 3:4: "Then they will cry out to the LORD, but he will
not answer them. At that time he will hide his face from them because of the
evil they have done."
THEY ARE UNFAITHFUL TO THE LORD; THEY GIVE BIRTH TO
ILLEGITIMATE CHILDREN: They had dealt treacherously against Yahweh by being
unfaithful to their natural and covenant responsibilities to Him. In this they
were like an unfaithful wife who had given birth to illegitimate children (as
Gomer: see Hos 1:6,8n), the natural result of unfaithfulness. Probably many
illegitimate children -- the products of unions between Israelites and temple
prostitutes -- populated the Northern Kingdom.
NOW THEIR NEW MOON FESTIVALS WILL DEVOUR THEM AND THEIR
FIELDS: Participation in apostate religious festivals would only hasten
their destruction. Prob "new moon" relates to the stargazers and monthly
prognosticators that led Israel astray (ie, Isa 47:13).
Perhaps sexually transmitted diseases were also taking their
toll on the Israelites.
Furthermore, their lands would experience destruction when
enemy invaders overran Israel (this may refer to the Assyrian invaders).
SOUND THE TRUMPET: Announcing the coming of an invader
(cp Eze 33:1-6). Throughout Israel's towns the sentries would blow alarms, at
the approach of the Assyrian armies.
GIBEAH... RAMAH... BETH AVEN: ""This verse describes an
invasion of the territory of Benjamin from the south, i.e., from Judah. The
enemy is portrayed as advancing along the main mountain road from Jerusalem
through Bethel and thereafter into the heart of Ephraim. Gibeah, only three
miles north of Jerusalem, is the first to be attacked; then Ramah, five miles
north of Jerusalem; and finally Bethel, eleven miles north of Jerusalem, on the
northern border of Benjamin" (Stuart, cited in Const).
I PROCLAIM WHAT IS CERTAIN: No longer is this
punishment conditional; it has become an absolute guarantee! It would surely
happen: cp Lev 26:32-35.
JUDAH'S LEADERS ARE LIKE THOSE WHO MOVE BOUNDARY
STONES: The removal of property markers, to defraud one's brethren (Deu
19:14; 27:17; Job 24:2; Pro 22:28; 23:10), symbolizes also the removal of
spiritual landmarks and traditions. the leaders of Judah had moved the
boundaries between right and wrong, true and false religion, and the true God
INTENT ON PURSUING IDOLS: Ephraim would experience
crushing judgment by an enemy invader because he determined to follow false gods
rather than divine commands (Deu 4:3; 6:14; 8:19; 28:14,33; Jer 2:5; Mic 6:16).
The human command in view is probably Jeroboam I's institution of calf worship
at altars in Bethel and Dan (1Ki 12:27-30).
I AM LIKE A MOTH TO EPHRAIM: Yahweh would consume the
Northern Kingdom as a moth eats cloth -- silently and slowly, but surely (Isa
50:9; 51:8; Job 13:28). The moth is a symbol of destruction of things much
larger and stronger than itself (cp Job 4:19; 27:18; Mat 6:19,20; Luk
LIKE ROT: Long duration, and inward decay, as in the
eating away of a great tree -- until it topples, all at once, with a great
Cp Pro 12:4: "A disgraceful wife is like decay in his
EPHRAIM TURNED TO ASSYRIA, AND SENT TO THE GREAT KING FOR
HELP: Both Israel and Judah appealed to the king of Assyria for help, but he
was unable to save them. King Ahab of Judah did this (2Ki 16:5-9), and so did
King Menahem of Israel (2Ki 15:19,20) and King Hoshea of Israel (cf 2Ki 17:3).
Rather than assisting, the Assyrians attacked both nations.
I WILL BE LIKE A LION TO EPHRAIM: In ct the moth and
the rot (v 12), the lion's judgment is swift -- destroying and carrying away and
devouring in a moment! And it was so: 2Ki 17:6,20.
THEN I WILL GO BACK TO MY PLACE UNTIL THEY ADMIT THEIR
GUILT: God would withdraw Himself from them, until they repented.
IN THEIR MISERY THEY WILL EARNESTLY SEEK ME:
"Earnestly" is "early" in AV. The "early" or "earnest" seeking of Yahweh is
discerned in the next chapter. This last statement provides a transition, from
the messages of judgment in Hos 4; 5 to the promises of restoration in Hos
"Losses and adversities are frequently the means which the
great Shepherd uses to fetch home His wandering sheep; like fierce dogs they
worry the wanderers back to the fold. There is no making lions tame if they are
too well fed; they must be brought down from their great strength, and their
stomachs must be lowered, and then they will submit to the tamer's hand; and
often have we seen the believer rendered obedient to the Lord's will by scarcity
of bread and hard labour. When rich and increased in goods many believers carry
their heads much too loftily, and speak exceeding boastfully. Like David, they
flatter themselves, 'My mountain standeth fast; I shall never be moved.' When
the believer groweth wealthy, is in good repute, hath good health, and a happy
family, he too often admits Mr Fleshly Security to feast at his table, and then
if he be a true child of God there is a rod preparing for him. Wait awhile, and
it may be you will see his substance melt away as a dream. There goes a portion
of his estate -- how soon the acres change hands. That debt, that dishonoured
bill -- how fast his losses roll in, where will they end? It is a blessed sign
of divine life if -- when these embarrassments occur one after another -- he
begins to be distressed about his backslidings, and betakes himself to his God.
Blessed are the waves that wash the mariner upon the rock of salvation! Losses
in business are often sanctified to our soul's enriching. If the chosen soul
will not come to the Lord full-handed, it shall come empty. If God, in His
grace, findeth no other means of making us honour Him among men, He will cast us
into the deep; if we fail to honour Him on the pinnacle of riches, He will bring
us into the valley of poverty. Yet faint not, heir of sorrow, when thou art thus
rebuked, rather recognize the loving hand which chastens, and say, 'I will
arise, and go unto my Father' [Luk 15:18]" (CHS).