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Bible Commentary

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Hosea 7

Hos 7:1

WHENEVER I WOULD RESTORE THE FORTUNES OF MY PEOPLE, WHENEVER I WOULD HEAL ISRAEL, THE SINS OF EPHRAIM ARE EXPOSED AND THE CRIMES OF SAMARIA REVEALED: Yahweh longed to heal Israel, but when He thought about doing so, new evidences of her sins presented themselves. The prophets He sent to them were mainly ineffective in stemming the tide of rebellion. Most people's reaction to their messages was rejection and further heart-hardening.

Hos 7:2

THEIR SINS ENGULF THEM: Their evil deeds surrounded them like a wall, so they were constantly before His eyes. They reminded Him of their sins whenever He looked in their direction.

Hos 7:3

THEY DELIGHT THE KING WITH THEIR WICKEDNESS, THE PRINCES WITH THEIR LIES: Their political leaders rejoiced in the wickedness of the people because that made it easier for them to get away with sinning. These leaders, of course, should have opposed all forms of ungodliness since they were Yahweh's representatives on earth.

Hos 7:4

THEY ARE ALL ADULTERERS, BURNING LIKE AN OVEN WHOSE FIRE THE BAKER NEED NOT STIR FROM THE KNEADING OF THE DOUGH TILL IT RISES: Their burning heat of passion -- to commit adultery -- was so high, that it was like an oven that did not need to be tended or stoked from night until morning, but burned on its own.

Or, alternatively, "it rises" refers to the adding of the leaven -- which itself is a symbol of sin, introduced slyly or secretly (cp Mat 16:6; 1Co 5:6-8).

Hos 7:5

ON THE DAY OF THE FESTIVAL OF OUR KING THE PRINCES BECOME INFLAMED WITH WINE, AND HE JOINS HANDS WITH THE MOCKERS: The political leaders became drunk on a particular festive occasions that honored the king. The king himself joined in scoffing what was holy.

WINE: The AV has "bottles [actually, skins] of wine". They are not content with glasses, but must resort to whole bottles of wine!

Hos 7:6

THEIR HEARTS ARE LIKE AN OVEN; THEY APPROACH HIM WITH INTRIGUE. THEIR PASSION SMOLDERS ALL NIGHT; IN THE MORNING IT BLAZES LIKE A FLAMING FIRE: The princes eagerly plotted to overthrow the king. Their anger with him smoldered for a long time and was not obvious to him, like a fire hidden in an oven (cp v 4), but at the proper time it flared up and consumed him and his supporters. Hosea saw this happen four times. Shallum assassinated Zechariah, Menahem assassinated Shallum, Pekah assassinated Pekahiah, and Hoshea assassinated Pekah (2Ki 15:10,14,25,30).

Hos 7:8

EPHRAIM MIXES WITH THE NATIONS: Ephraim had mixed itself with the pagan nations (cp Psa 106:35), like unleavened dough mixed with leaven. She had done this by making alliances with neighbor nations as well as by importing heathen customs and pagan gods into Israel. Hoshea's "foreign policy" illustrates this confusion. In 732 BC, Hoshea, after killing Pekah, suddenly shifted from alliance with Egypt, Philistia, and Aram to alliance with Assyria. A few years later he broke that alliance, and coming virtually full circle, again sought alliance with Egypt.

EPHRAIM IS A FLAT CAKE NOT TURNED OVER: Ephraim was similar to a pancake that the cook had not turned over, all burnt and black on one side and soggy and runny on the other. In other words, she was only half baked, worthless, not what God intended or what could nourish others. She was crusty toward Yahweh but soft toward other nations.

"In the East it is the custom to heat the hearth, then sweep carefully the portion heated, put the cake upon it, and cover it with ashes and embers. In a little time the cake is turned. It is then covered again, and this process is continued several times, until the cake is found to be sufficiently baked. Ephraim has many representatives at this hour: (1) The man who lives for pleasure alone is a cake not turned. One side of his nature is unduly baked, the other is entirely neglected. Pleasure has its uses, but pleasure as a business is a very poor business indeed. There are many such persons, both in the lower and in the higher grades of society. The man who lives for pleasure is dead while he liveth. He is a wretched parasite; he is a reproach to his species. One side of his nature is burnt to a crust by the fires of unholy desire; the other side of his nature is raw dough. Both are worthless. (2) The man who lives for business alone is a cake not turned. Business is good. Even though it be honourable, and the methods of its pursuit unobjectionable, the man who lives for this life alone loses this life as well as the life that is to come. The man to whom this world is a god is a wretched idolater. This life is never truly lived except it is used for the good of others and for the glory of God. If a man lives for business alone, one side of his nature is scorched by the friction of the world's cares, and the other is raw dough. (3) A man who lives for culture alone is a cake not turned. No man can claim the honours of culture, portions of whose nature lie fallow. A true culture sweeps across every faculty. Man has earthward, manward, and Godward relations. If lacking in any of these directions, it is a partial, defective, and unauthoritative culture. Tried by this true standard many claimants for the honour of culture will be found wanting. That is not true culture which fails to cultivate the nobler, the Diviner elements of the soul. (4) A man who is half-hearted in religion is a cake not turned. Ephraim, though proud and haughty as a tribe, had been lacking in moral backbone, in loyalty, in consecration, in the service of God. There are such professors of religion today. A half-and-half man is a failure always and everywhere. Today Jesus Christ calls for men with one heart, and that heart on fire with His love. We want no unturned cakes. We want men with convictions. It is said of some men that they are very pious Godward, and very crooked manward. That is a severe criticism when it is true. That is not Christ's model man. He is symmetrical: he is baked through and through. Christ alone can make such men" (BI).

Hos 7:9

FOREIGNERS SAP HIS STRENGTH, BUT HE DOES NOT REALIZE IT: Foreign alliances had sapped Ephraim's strength rather than adding to it, but the Israelites were ignorant of this. They thought they were as strong as ever. Tribute payments to allies constantly drained the nation's wealth and weakened its economy (2Ki 15:19,20; 17:3).

HIS HAIR IS SPRINKLED WITH GRAY, BUT HE DOES NOT NOTICE: Israel was unaware of its real condition, as when a person's hair becomes gray but he does not notice it. Others can sense the approach of death, but he does not. Israel was dying in the late 730s and early 720s, but its own people did not know it.

Hos 7:11

EPHRAIM IS LIKE A DOVE, EASILY DECEIVED AND SENSELESS: Ephraim was behaving like a dove, a bird proverbial for its supposed silliness and naive nature (cf Matt 10:16). It turned every which way except back to its God (cp Isa 9:13).

NOW CALLING TO EGYPT, NOW TURNING TO ASSYRIA: Expediency and human wisdom marked by vacillation had guided Israel's foreign policy for years rather than the will of God. This was "bird-brained" diplomacy -- desperate, confused and inconsistent. Emissaries had fluttered off to Egypt (2Ki 17:3,4) and Assyrian (2Ki 15:29; cp Isa 8:6,7) seeking aid without realizing the danger that these nations posed (cp Hos 11:11). (Were birds used to carry diplomatic messages?) Finally, because Israel turned from Assyria to Egypt for help against Assyria, Assyria destroyed the Northern Kingdom.

Hos 7:13

THEY HAVE STRAYED FROM ME: Or "fled", as KJV. The frantic, fluttering, flight of a frightened bird: v 11; Pro 27:8; Isa 16:2. Similar to sheep straying from their Shepherd.

I LONG TO REDEEM THEM: His desire was to redeem them from destruction, but that desire was abortive -- because of their persistent indifference to His offers of help.

BUT THEY SPEAK LIES AGAINST ME: That is why they made foreign treaties: to defend themselves since they thought Yahweh would or could not. The God of the Exodus was unchanged in His will, but because of Israel's lies there will be no "exodus" from the Assyrian danger.

Hos 7:14

BUT WAIL UPON THEIR BEDS: In cries of anguish, but not cries to Yahweh for help. When the people cried out, it was not in prayer to God but out of self-pity over their miserable condition. These tears did not impress Him.

THEY GATHER TOGETHER FOR GRAIN AND NEW WINE BUT TURN AWAY FROM ME: They assembled (or slashed themselves, as in NIV mg) to obtain food and drink from their idols. Crying out, wailing, and slashing oneself were all aspects of the Canaanite worship style that the Israelites adopted (cp 1Ki 18:28). They turned away from Yahweh, the only one who could provide their needs, like stubborn and rebellious children.

Hos 7:15

I TRAINED THEM AND STRENGTHENED THEM, BUT THEY PLOT EVIL AGAINST ME: It was Yahweh who had taught His people how to be strong. He had also made them strong militarily (cp idea, Eze 30:24,25), ie, during Jeroboam II's reign (2Ki 14:25-28). Yet they had used what He had given them to sin against Him (cp Gen 50:20). They treated Him as their enemy. This was further evidence of their ingratitude.

Hos 7:16

THEY DO NOT TURN TO THE MOST HIGH; THEY ARE LIKE A FAULTY BOW: They had looked around to other nations for help, but they had not turned their hearts and eyes to heaven to seek the Lord's help. They had become like a warped bow in Yahweh's hands, which sent arrows at something other than the intended target. Rather than shooting His enemies, they shot their own leaders and slew them (eg, Zechariah, Shallum, Pekahiah, and Pekah).

THEIR INSOLENT WORDS: In the days of Jeroboam II the Israelites had also boasted insolently about not needing Yahweh to the Egyptians.

FOR THIS THEY WILL BE RIDICULED IN THE LAND OF EGYPT: But the Egyptians, their treaty partner on several occasions, would deride them for their weakness.

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