The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Hosea 9

Hos 9:1

DO NOT BE JUBILANT LIKE THE OTHER NATIONS: The Jews had mistakenly worshipped the gods of nature and fertility -- believing that they gave them grain and wine. This involved licentious fertility rites.

YOU LOVE THE WAGES OF A PROSTITUTE AT EVERY THRESHING FLOOR: Israel's worship of the Canaanite gods was an idolatry as well as a spiritual "adultery" (in fact, it probably involved a more literal immorality as well). For this immorality (as a prostitute), Israel expected to be "paid" with richer harvests!

Hos 9:2

THRESHING FLOORS AND WINEPRESSES WILL NOT FEED THE PEOPLE; THE NEW WINE WILL FAIL THEM: Threshing floors and wine presses were common places where ritual prostitution took place. It was through these rites that the worshippers sought to stimulate the gods to engage in sexual acts and so bestow fruitfulness on them and their land.

Hos 9:3

EPHRAIM WILL RETURN TO EGYPT: Figuratively, a return to sin and darkness: Rom 7:24; Eph 2:11,12.

AND EAT UNCLEAN FOOD IN ASSYRIA: Israel would eat unclean food in an unclean land (cp the prodigal son: Luk 15:16), because her sins had rendered her unclean in God's sight.

Hos 9:4

THE BREAD OF MOURNERS: Which was ceremonially unclean because of contact with dead bodies (Num 19:14,15,22; Deu 26:14). Such bread might be suitable for human consumption, but it was unacceptable as an offering to God.

THIS FOOD WILL BE FOR THEMSELVES: That is, it will serve a physical purpose, but will have no spiritual significance.

Hos 9:5

WHAT WILL YOU DO ON THE DAY OF YOUR APPOINTED FEASTS?: "The solemn day" (AV). The day of affliction, bereavement, death, or judgment. When those days came, they would have nothing to offer their God.

Hos 9:6

EGYPT WILL GATHER THEM, AND MEMPHIS WILL BURY THEM: After the overthrown of the Northern Kingdom, many Jews would flee to Egypt, and some would live their whole lives -- and die -- there. Memphis (near modern Cairo) was an Egyptian city famous as a burial site because of the pyramid tombs there.

THEIR TREASURES OF SILVER WILL BE TAKEN OVER BY BRIERS, AND THORNS WILL OVERRUN THEIR TENTS: Back in the Land of Israel, weeds would overgrow the Israelites' abandoned treasures, and thorns would take over their houses.

Hos 9:7

THE DAYS OF PUNISHMENT ARE COMING: "For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written" (Luk 21:22).

THE PROPHET IS CONSIDERED A FOOL: The Israelites had regarded the prophets whom the Lord had sent to them -- including Hosea -- as demented fools (2Ki 9:11; Jer 29:26,27).

Hos 9:8

This is probably Hosea's lament for himself, and his treatment at the hands of his fellow Jews.

Hos 9:9

THE DAYS OF GIBEAH: See Jdg 19: the rape and murder of the Levite's concubine. This sin had resulted in war in Israel and almost the obliteration of the tribe of Benjamin (Jdg 20). War would come again, and God would almost entirely obliterate all the Israelites for their sins.

Cp Gibeah to Gabbatha (John 19:13), the Pavement of the judge's seat, where Christ was condemned.

Hos 9:10

WHEN I FOUND ISRAEL, IT WAS LIKE FINDING GRAPES IN THE DESERT: At first, Israel was a pleasure to God: cp Isa 28:4; Jer 24:2; Mic 7:1.

WHEN I SAW YOUR FATHERS, IT WAS LIKE SEEING THE EARLY FRUIT ON THE FIG TREE: But contrast Jesus and the fig tree (Mat 21:19), which was cursed because it bore NO fruit.

BAAL PEOR: Where Israel joined with the immoral Moabite women in worshipping idols: Num 25:3.

Hos 9:11

EPHRAIM'S GLORY WILL FLY AWAY LIKE A BIRD: The glory of the Ephraimites, their numerous children, would fly away like a bird, quickly and irretrievably.

NO BIRTH, NO PREGNANCY, NO CONCEPTION: There would be few births, or even pregnancies, or even conceptions. There is a play on the name "Ephraim" here, which sounds somewhat like the Heb word meaning "twice fruitful". The Ephraimites had looked to Baal for the blessing of human fertility, but Yahweh would withhold it in judgment. Ephraim, the doubly fruitful, would become Ephraim, the completely fruitless.

Hos 9:12

EVEN IF THEY REAR CHILDREN, I WILL BEREAVE THEM OF EVERY ONE: "You will have sons and daughters but you will not keep them" (Deu 28:41.

Hos 9:13

I HAVE SEEN EPHRAIM, LIKE TYRE, PLANTED IN A PLEASANT PLACE. BUT EPHRAIM WILL BRING OUT THEIR CHILDREN TO THE SLAYER: Yahweh saw that Ephraim had been fertile in the past, comparable to the prosperity of Tyre. Yet in the future Ephraim's sons were destined to become prey to the enemy.

Hos 9:14

WOMBS THAT MISCARRY AND BREASTS THAT ARE DRY: Ephraim's hopes concerning descendants and the inability to sustain their children would be disappointed (ct Gen 49:25). This happened when the Assyrians invaded Israel, and again when the Romans invaded. On his way to the cross, Jesus foresaw this when he said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. For the time will come when you will say, 'Blessed are the barren women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed' " (Luk 23:28,29).

Hos 9:15

BECAUSE OF ALL THEIR WICKEDNESS IN GILGAL: What the Israelites did at Gilgal caused the LORD to hate them. At Gilgal the Israelites practiced the pagan fertility cult (Hos 4:15; 12:11). Gilgal was also the site of the Gibeonites' deception (Josh 9:14), Saul's coronation (1Sa 11:15--12:25), and his subsequent rejection (1Sa 15:12-34).

I WILL DRIVE THEM OUT OF MY HOUSE: The Land of Israel, the special place where Yahweh dwells (cp 2Ki 17:18,20).

Hos 9:16

THEIR ROOT IS WITHERED: Cp Mal 4:1. Because the people were not ROOTED in the truth (Eph 3:17; Col 2:7), their natural roots would wither. Likewise, the fig tree which did not yield the promised fruit was cursed by Jesus, and was dried up from the ROOT (Mar 11:20).

Hos 9:17

THEY WILL BE WANDERERS AMONG THE NATIONS: "Then the LORD will scatter you among all nations, from one end of the earth to the other" (Deu 28:64). Because they had wandered from the Lord, they would wander in the earth, like Cain whom the Lord also cursed (Gen 4:12).

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