The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Hosea 8

Hos 8:1

Hos 8: "The day of judgment thundered against the evil generation in the days of Hosea. The ecclesia had warped its responsibility, and were facing inevitable punishment because Yahweh is just, and will not forsake His holiness, even though the people did (vv 1-4). Apostasy must be dealt with, so that Yahweh is seen to be holy. The nation had allowed a compromise religion to occur: Jeroboam had set up calves at Bethel and Dan when he returned to Israel from Egypt (1Ki 12:28,29). This religion was supported by the government ultimately set up in Samaria. This probably reflected the Egyptian environment conveyed through Jeroboam (1Ki 11:40). The Egyptians worshipped the calf or ox by the name Apis at Memphis and Mnevis, at On (Heliopolis). There was thus an admixture of truth and error in the worship of the northern kingdom, as in 2Ki 17:33. To the spiritual influence of Egypt they consistently turned (Hos 8:13; 9:3,6). But there would unavoidably come the judgment of Yahweh against the brotherhood of Israel. Even the claim by the ecclesia that they upheld Yahweh's honour (Hos 8:2) was answered by the divine statement that the people were hypocritical (v 3). Their religious devotions (v 13) were unacceptable to God, because there was no true response. It was merely a stage appearance. The final v of the ch says it all!" (GEM).

PUT THE TRUMPET TO YOUR LIPS: The blowing of the "shophar" announced that an invader was coming (cp Hos 5:8; Eze 33:6).

AN EAGLE IS OVER THE HOUSE OF THE LORD: Israel's enemy would swoop down on the nation as an eagle attacking its prey (cf Deu 28:49; cf, more generally, Hos 5:14).

Hos 8:2

O MY GOD, WE ACKNOWLEDGE YOU: "Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!' " (Mat 7:22,23). The Israelites claimed that they acknowledged (knew) the authority of their God, but their transgressions and rebellion proved that they did not (Hos 4:1,6; 5:4). Also cp Isa 29:13; Jer 22:9; Luk 6:46.

Hos 8:3

BUT ISRAEL HAS REJECTED WHAT IS GOOD: Yahweh's moral and ethical requirements.

AN ENEMY WILL PURSUE HIM: Cp Deu 28:45: God's curses will pursue them and overtake them.

Hos 8:4

THEY SET UP KINGS WITHOUT MY CONSENT: No king of Israel, after the invasion, was ever anointed by God.

Hos 8:5

THROW OUT YOUR CALF-IDOL: "Thy calf hath cast thee off" (AV) is incorrect. Either Israel is being commanded, once again, to throw out the idol. Or, alternatively, it is Yahweh who has rejected the calf-idol that had come to mark Israelite worship since Jeroboam I first set up images of calves in Dan and Bethel (1Ki 12:28-30).

Hos 8:6

A CRAFTSMAN HAS MADE IT; IT IS NOT GOD: The simplest and most conclusive proof against any form of idolatry: the "god" has been made by man, not the other way around (Isa 40:18-20; 44:9-20)! When Jeroboam I originally presented these idols to the people of Israel, he said, "Behold your gods, O Israel" (1Ki 12:28; cp Exo 32:4).

IT WILL BE BROKEN IN PIECES: Thus demonstrating the impotence of the idols themselves.

Hos 8:7

THEY SOW THE WIND AND REAP THE WHIRLWIND: Israel had sown the wind, something foolish and worthless (cp Job 7:7; Prov 11:29; Ecc 1:14,17), namely idolatry. Sowing the "wind" of vanities (idols) will yield the "whirlwind" of Divine judgment! "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life" (Gal 6:7,8).

THE STALK HAS NO HEAD; IT WILL PRODUCE NO FLOUR: The "whirlwind" from God will destroy their crops.

WERE IT TO YIELD GRAIN, FOREIGNERS WOULD SWALLOW IT UP: And even if the "whirlwind" of God does not destroy all their crops, then alien marauders will take anything that is left.

Hos 8:8

ISRAEL IS SWALLOWED UP: The nation would be swallowed up, as when someone eats grain (v 7). Israel would become a part of the nations having gone into captivity, and thus having lost its own sovereignty and even its identity.

NOW SHE IS AMONG THE NATIONS LIKE A WORTHLESS THING: "A vessel wherein is no pleasure" (AV). Like an earthenware pot that no one wants because it is broken (cp Jer 22:28; 48:38; 2Ti 2:20).

Hos 8:9

FOR THEY HAVE GONE UP TO ASSYRIA: Ephraim, or Israel, had made treaties with Assyria to help protect her from her enemies (Hos 7:11), but the Assyrians would turn and devour Israel.

WILD DONKEY: Wild donkeys were notorious for their willfulness and vanity and lust, and for being difficult to control (Jer 2:24; Job 39:5-8).

EPHRAIM HAS SOLD HERSELF TO LOVERS: Ephraim was also like a harlot, but even worse in that she paid others to love her rather than receiving pay from them (cp Hos 2:5; Jer 2:23-25). This was a bitter experience for Yahweh -- since He had promised to care for the nation because He loved her.

Hos 8:10

MIGHTY KING: Heb "melek sarim" = "king of princes". Sig the king of the Assyrian Empire, the very king to whom the Israelites appealed for protection (cp Hos 10:6; Isa 10:8).

Hos 8:11

THOUGH EPHRAIM BUILT MANY ALTARS FOR SIN OFFERINGS, THESE HAVE BECOME ALTARS FOR SINNING: In rebellion against Yahweh's covenant the Israelites had also built many altars. They built them to offer many sin offerings, but since God had not authorized these altars they became places for sinning rather than places for being forgiven.

Hos 8:12

I WROTE FOR THEM THE MANY THINGS OF MY LAW, BUT THEY REGARDED THEM AS SOMETHING ALIEN: The king should have written out a copy of the law and studied it daily (Deu 17:18); then he would have be able to teach the people faithfully. King Jeroboam is being reproved because of the way in which he dismissed those "great things" (AV) which the law contained.

Hos 8:13

THEY WILL RETURN TO EGYPT: He would send them back to Egypt where they used to live as slaves before He redeemed them in the Exodus (Hos 9:3). Perhaps many Israelites fled there, as a result of the Assyrian depredations. Others were carried captive to Assyria, which for all practical purposes was but another "Egypt" (Hos 11:5; Deu 28:68). Since they would not live "free" with their God, they would be sold into "slavery" to Sin (cp Rom 6)!

Hos 8:14

ISRAEL HAS FORGOTTEN HIS MAKER AND BUILT PALACES; JUDAS HAS FORTIFIED MANY TOWNS. BUT I WILL SEND FIRE UPON THEIR CITIES THAT WILL CONSUME THEIR FORTRESSES: Both Israel and Judah had forgotten that Yahweh had made her what she had become. Instead of continuing to trust and obey Him, the people had put their confidence in their own ability to provide for themselves. This attitude of self-reliance manifested itself in their building palaces and fortified cites as places of prominence and protection.

Palaces and fortified cites are not wrong in themselves, but in this context, set against remembering Yahweh, they were expressions of self-trust.

As judgment the Lord would burn down their palaces and fortified cities. He would remove the objects of their confidence and teach the people their personal inadequacy. Tiglath-Pileser III did this when he destroyed Samaria and the other Israelites cities, and Sennacherib did it when he attacked all the fortified cities of Judah (2Ki 17:6; 18:13).

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