Intro and Chapters 1-7

    The reigns of the kings of Judah mentioned in the first verse of Hosea extend from 785-698 BC, and Jeroboam II reigned 786-746 BC. Since Hezekiah began his reign in 727 BC, Hosea must have been preaching at least until then, so it is peculiar that he doesn't mention any kings of Israel who reigned later than 746 BC. It also appears that Hosea began his prophetic activity earlier than Micah, because Micah began his activity in the days of Jotham, the successor of Uzziah. Amos, on the other hand, also began prophesying during the reign of Uzziah, but stopped during the reign of Jeroboam II. Thus his activity started near the time when Hosea began his prophesying, but Hosea continued long after Amos had finished. Only Isaiah was active during the reigns of the four kings of Judah mentioned by Hosea.

Chapter 1

Hosea is commanded to marry a prostitute, the children are given names with symbolic meanings.

    1. The word of Yahweh which came to Hosea, the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz (and) Hezekiah, kings of Judah; and in the days of Jeroboam, the son of Joash, king of Israel.
    2. (This is) the beginning of Yahweh's speaking to Hosea. And Yahweh said to Hosea, Go, take yourself a wife of harlotry and children of harlotry, for the land certainly goes whoring instead of following Yahweh.
    3. And he went and took Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.
    4. And Yahweh said to him: Call his name Jezreel,1 for in a little while I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel, and I will cause the kingdom of the house of Israel to cease.
    5. And it will come to pass in that day, that I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel.
    6. And she conceived again and bore a daughter, and he said to him: Call her name, Loruhamah,2 for I will no longer have mercy on the house of Israel, for I will truly carry them off. 3
    7. But I will have mercy on the house of Judah, and I will save them though Yahweh, their God; but I will not save them with the bow or the sword, or by war, with horses or with horsemen.
    8. And she weaned Loruhamah, and she conceived and bore a son.
    9. And he said: Call his name Loammi,4 for you are not my people, and I am not yours.
    10. And the number of the children of Israel was like the sand of the sea, which is neither measured nor counted; and it will come to pass that instead it being said to them; You are not my people, it will be said to them, The children of the living God!5
    11. And the children of Judah will be gathered, and the children of Israel with them, and they will appoint one leader for themselves, and they will go up from the earth, for great is the day of Jezreel.
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1. This was the name of the capital of Ahab. Cf. I Kings 18:45-46.
2. Meaning "no mercy."
3. The same Hebrew word can be used for "to forgive," but to translate "I will truly forgive them" does not seem to fit the context.
4. Meaning "not my people."
5. Verses 10 and 11 in the English versification are actually the first two verses of chapter 2 of Hosea in the MT.
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Chapter 2

The apostasy of Israel recounted in symbolic fashion

    1. Say to your brethren, Ammi; and to your sisters, Ruhamah.1
    2. Contend with your mother, contend, for she is not my wife, and I am not her husband. And let her remove her whoredoms from before her face, and her adulteries from between her breasts.
    3. Lest I strip her naked and exhibit her as on the day when she was born, and make her like a desert, and make her like an arid land, and cause her to die of thirst.
    4. And I will not pity her children, for they are the children of harlotries.
    5. For their mother played the harlot; she who conceived them acted shamefully,2 for she said, I will go after my lovers, those who give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, my oil and my drinks.
    6. Therefore, behold, I will hedge up your way with thorns, and I will set up her fence, and she will not find her paths.
    7. And she will pursue her lovers, but she will not catch up with them, and she will seek them but not find (them); and she will say: I will go and return to my first husband, for it was better for me then than now.
    8. But she did not know that I gave her the grain, and the new wine, and the fresh oil, and I increased her silver and gold. They made it into Baal. 3
    9. Therefore I will return and take my grain in its time, and my new wine in its appointed time, and I will separate 4 my wool and my flax (which was) to cover her nakedness.
    10. And now, I will uncover her lewdness before the eyes of her lovers, and no man will rescue her from my hand.
    11. And I will put an end to all her joy, her celebrating, her new moons, and her Sabbaths, and all her festivals.
    12. And I will desolate her vines and her fig trees, of which she said: These are my reward which my lovers have given me. But I will make them like a forest, and the beasts of the field will devour them.
    13. And I will visit upon her the days of the Ba'alim,5 during which she burns incense to them, and wears her earrings and her jewelry, and she went after her lovers, but she forgot me, says Yahweh.
    14. Therefore, behold, I will persuade her and cause her to go into the desert, and I will speak to her heart.
    15. And I will give to her her vineyards from there, and the valley of Achor6 for a door of hope, and she will sing 7 there, as in the days of her youth, and in the day when she ascended from the land of Egypt.
    16. And it will come to pass on that day, says Yahweh, that you will call (me) Ishi,8 and no longer call me Ba'ali. 9
    17. And I will remove the names of the Ba'alim from her mouth, and they will not be remembered by their names any more.
    18. And I will make a covenant for them on that day with the beasts of the field, and with the birds of the sky, and the crawling things of the earth; and the bow, and the sword, and war I will break from off the earth; and I will cause them to lie down safely.
    19. And I will betrothe you to myself forever, and I will betrothe you to myself in righteousness and in justice, and in charity and in mercy.
    20. And I will betrothe you to myself in truth and you will know Yahweh.
    21. And it will come to pass in that day, that I will answer, says Yahweh, I will answer the heavens, and they will answer 10 the earth.
    22. And the earth will answer the grain, and the new wine, and the fine oil, and they will answer Jezreel.
    23. And I will sow her for myself in the land, and I will have mercy upon her who had not received mercy; and I will say to them who are not my people: You are my people, and they will say, My God.
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1. In the English versification, this chapter begins with what is verse 3 in the MT; thus in this chapter the verse numbers do not match the MT.
2. The way the Hebrew verb is pointed, it could either be interpreted as the Hiph'il of בוש or of יבש. In the first case the correct translation would be (as given above) "she acted shamefully." In the second case it would be "she dried up," which could also fit, because many prostitutes have become sterile from STD's. However, the LXX and the Peshitta both support the first possibility.
3. For this meaning, cf. BDB sub עשה II. 1. g.
4. Rashi says that every expression of הצלה in scripture refers to separation and setting apart. He then adduces Gen. 31:9 as his proof-text.
5. The plural form of the name of the god Baᶜal.
6. Or "Valley of Trouble." This was located west or southwest of Jericho and the name is explained in Joshua 7:24-26. It is also mentioned in Isa. 65:10 (see note to that verse).
7. The verb here is ענתה from the root ענה. Unfortunately there are at least four different verbs with the same root form. One (most common) is the meaning "to answer." Another meaning is "to bow down, be afflicted." This is the meaning chosen by the LXX and the Peshitta. Rashi believes it has the meaning here of "to dwell" and adduces Nahum 2:12 where the word מעון appears with the meaning of "den" (in "den of lions") to prove that ענה must have a value connected with "dwelling." However, ענה can also mean "to sing" (cf. BDB sub IV. ענה and Ex. 15:21), and that value appears in the KJV and is also used here.
8. The Hebrew word ᵓish means literally "man," but here is used in the sense of "husband" (cf. the use of German Mann for both "man" and "husband").
9. The Hebrew word baᶜal means literally "master, lord" and is used as the name of a pagan god which appears frequently in the OT, but it can also have the meaning of "husband." Rashi suggests that the difference between the two terms indicates that Israel will worship God out of love and no longer out of fear.
10. In the KJV the word "hear" is used instead of "answer" in all three instances. Perhaps that is influenced by the LXX.
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Chapter 3

Israel will be many years with no king, but they will eventually return and a person from the line of David will be their king.

    1. And Yahweh said to me: Go again (and) love a woman beloved by her companion, but an adulteress, like the love of Yahweh toward the children of Israel; but they turn to other gods, and love raisin cakes.1
    2. And I obtained her for myself by trade for fifteen pieces of silver, and a homer of barley, and a letech2 of barley.
    3. And I said to her, You will dwell with me for many days. You will not play the harlot, and you will not belong to (another) man, and I will certainly be yours.
    4. For the children of Israel will remain for many days with no king and no leader, and no sacrifice, and no maṣṣebah, 3 and no ephod or teraphim.4
    5. Afterward the children will return and seek Yahweh, their God, and David, their king; and they will fear Yahweh and his goodness in the latter days.
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1. The Chabad translation is "goblets of grapes," but "raisin cakes" in in accord with BDB sub אששה as well as with the LXX and the Peshitta.
2. The value of a letech is uncertain. This is a hapax legomenon. There is a tradition that a letech is equal to 1/2 homer (cf. BDB sub לתך).
3. Commonly translated as "pillar." See the explanation in the footnote to Micah 5:13.
4. This seems to indicate that they will have to be in exile without their own civil leaders and no access to the temple for a very long time. That was indeed the case for all true Israelites.
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Chapter 4

The sins of Israel include apostasy, fornication, and heavy drinking.

    1. Hear the word of Yahweh, Oh children of Israel, for Yahweh has a matter of contention with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth and no charity,1 nor knowledge of God in the land.
    2. Swearing2 and lying and murder and stealing and adultery have broken forth, and there has been continual bloodshed.
    3. Therefore has the land mourned, and all who dwell there have become feeble. The beasts of the field, and the birds of the sky, and even the fish of the sea will be taken away.
    4. But let no one strive, and let no one reprove, for your people are like those who strive with a priest;
    5. And you will stumble in the day, and even the prophet will stumble with you in the night, and I will silence (even) your mother.
    6. My people were silent for lack of knowledge, for you rejected knowledge, so I will reject you from being my priest(s), and you have forgotten the instructions of your God, (so) I will forget even your children.
    7. The more they increased, the more they sinned against me. I will change their honor into dishonor.
    8. They devour the sin(s) of my people, and set their heart on their iniquity.
    9. And it shall be: as for the people, so also for the priest; and I will visit their ways upon them and their deeds I will bring back to them.
    10. And they will eat, but not be satisfied; they have been immoral and will not increase, for they have stopped obeying Yahweh.
    11. Immorality and wine and new wine take away the heart.
    12. My people inquire of their (idols of) wood, and their staff declares it to them, for the spirit of immorality has led (them) astray, and they have left their God to go whoring.
    13. They sacrifice upon the tops of mountains, and on hills they burn incense under oaks, and elm trees, because their shade is good. Therefore your daughters will commit harlotry and your daughters-in-law will commit adultery.
    14. I will not punish your daughters when they go whoring, or your daughters-in-law when they commit adultery, for they will join company with harlots, and will sacrifice with the temple prostitutes, and a people of no understanding will be thrust down.
    15. If you, Oh Israel, are immoral, let not Judah become guilty. Do not come to Gilgal, or ascend to Beth-aven, 3 nor swear (saying), As Yahweh lives!
    16. For Israel has been rebellious like a stubborn cow. Now will Yahweh pasture them like a lamb in the meadow.
    17. Ephraim is joined to idols, leave him alone.
    18. They have turned to heavy drinking. They have fornicated continually. Their rulers 4 loved dishonor.
    19. The wind has bound her up in its wings, and they will be ashamed because of their altars.
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1. I.e. "pure love of Christ."
2. This apparently refers to falsely swearing an oath. Cf. BDB sub II. אלה.
3. The name of this location could be translated as “house of idolatry.” Although there was apparently a town by that name somewhere, Hosea seems to use it as a derogatory pseudonym for Bethel, thus changing “house of God” to “house of idolatry” because the worship there had become corrupted.
4. The word here is actually "shield," but it is a metaphor (technically a metonymy) for "ruler."
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Chapter 5

Pride is added to the list of Israel’s sins, Judah is also rebuked.

    1. Hear this, Oh priests, and hearken, Oh house of Israel, and give ear Oh house of the king, for the judgment against you, because you were a snare to Mizpah,1 and a net spread upon Tabor.2
    2. And those who rebelled have gone deep into slaughter;3 and I (will bring) chastisement to all of them.
    3. I knew Ephraim, and Israel was not hidden from me, for now you have committed adultery, Oh Ephraim, (and) Israel has become unclean.
    4. They do not leave their doings to return to their God, for the spirit of whoredoms is in their midst, and they do not know Yahweh.
    5. And the pride of Israel will testify against them,4 and Israel and Ephraim will stumble in their iniquity, (and) even Judah has stumbled with them.
    6. They will go with their flocks and cattle to seek Yahweh, but they will not find (him). He has withdrawn from them.
    7. They have betrayed Yahweh, for they have begotten foreign5 children. Now a new moon6 will devour them with their inheritances.
    8. Sound a trumpet7 in Gibeah, a clarion in Ramah; shout in Beth-aven; After you, Oh Benjamin!
    9. Ephraim will become desolate in the day of rebuke. Among the tribes of Israel I have made known what is true.
    10. The leaders of Judah were like those who move back the boundary markers. I will pour out upon them my wrath like water.
    11. Ephraim is oppressed and crushed in judgment,8 because he was willing to go after a (false? foreign?) precept. 9
    12. But I am like a moth to Ephraim, and like rottenness to the house of Judah.
    13. And Ephraim has seen his sickness, and Judah his wound, then Ephraim went to Assyria,10 and (Judah) 11 sent to king Yarev;12 but he is not able to heal you, and he will not remove the wound from you.
    14. For I am like a lion to Ephraim, and I am like a young lion to the house of Judah. I will tear apart and I will go away. I will carry (it) away and none can rescue (it).
    15. I will go (and) I will return to my place, until they bear their punishment and seek my face. In their desperation they will earnestly seek me.
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1. There was more than one town called Mizpah, but this one is probably east of the Jordan, and the one associated with Jacob (Gen. 31:23-49).
2. Tabor is a mountain where Israel was delivered by Barak (Judges 4), but it was also probably the Mount of Transfiguration.
3. Cf. BDB sub שׂוט.
4. For this use of the verb ענה see BDB sub I. ענה, (section 3. a.).
5. The word zarim refers to people not of the household of God, therefore the children in this case are not the children of foreigners who may be proselytes to the Israelite religion, but rather foreigners who are of other religions, and in that manner the Israelites have betrayed Yahweh.
6. The KJV and Chabad translation use the word "month" for hodesh, and that is normally an acceptable translation, but hodesh is from a root meaning "new" and therefore primarily refers to the new moon. For that reason, one wonders whether this is also a reference to the pagan rituals of the new moon. Some modern translations go so far as to translate hodesh as New Moon Festival, or something similar (cf. New International Version and the NET Bible).
7. The word here is shofar, and as we saw in Amos 3:6, during the 8th century BC it was still associated with war, and would therefore strike fear in the hearts of the inhabitants.
8. Cf. Deut. 28:33.
9. The word here, tsav is dubious. The LXX translates "and he went after vanities." The Peshitta follows the LXX in that.
10. Hoshea, the last king of the northern kingdom, i.e. Israel, reigned from 732-723 BC and was carried off to Assyria according to II Kings 17:4.
11. Judah must be the intended subject of this clause, because the verse begins by comparing the actions of Israel (Ephraim) and Judah, therefore it stands to reason that the writer intended to conclude the verse with a comparison of the actions of both parties. Furthermore, it is known that the king of Judah sent a bribe to the Assyrian king, while no such action is known for the kings of Israel.
12. According to the KJV and a few modern translations, he sent to “king Jareb/Yarev." The Hebrew here is questionable. It is written 'el melech yarev, but no king named Yarev (KJV Jareb) is known, and the usual formula for the Assyrian king is "the Great King." This may be obtained by moving one Hebrew letter from the beginning of Yarev back to the end of "king." Thus 'el malchi rav, which would then give us "to my great king." Therefore many translations use "great king," however, the problem is compounded by the fact that the same writing occurs again in Hosea 10:6. That may explain why the Chabad translation uses the phrase "to the king of Yarev," seeing Yarev as a place rather than a name. But this is also not known from ancient sources. LXX further complicates the issue by translating "king Jarim." The Peshitta translates ܘܫܕܪ ܠܘܬ ܡܠܟܐ ܕܝܪܒ "he sent to the king of Yareb.” Ultimately, the best solution to this problem is to assume that since it appears twice in Hosea's writings, it must have been intentional. And since the OT prophets often liked to use puns or word-plays, and since the form yarev is also the jussive form of ryb meaning “to strive, contend,” then he probably meant to give the Assyrian king a name with this play on words, “and he sent to King He-Will-Contend,” signifying (according to Rashi) that King Ahaz of Judah, when the sent his message with a bribe to Tiglath-pileser, expected the Assyrian king to contend against Rezin of Syria and Pekah of Israel in his stead (II Kings 16:8).
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Chapter 6

Israel and Judah are urged to return to Yahweh, a knowledge of God is more important than sacrifices.

    1. Come, let us return to Yahweh, for he has torn and will heal us; he smites and binds us up.
    2. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up and we will live in his presence.
    3. And let us know, let us (earnestly) strive to know Yahweh. Like the dawn, his going forth is set, and he will come to us like rain; like the late rain1 waters the earth.
    4. What will I do for you Ephraim? What will I do for you Judah? For your charity2 is like a morning cloud and the dew which pass away early.
    5. Therefore I have hewn the prophets to pieces; I have slain them with the words of my mouth. So will your judgments come from light?
    6. For I have desired charity3 and not sacrifices; and a knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.
    7. But they, like men,4 transgressed the covenant; there they betrayed me.
    8. Gilead is a city of workers of iniquity; (it is) tracked with blood.
    9. And as a man of the marauding bands lies in wait, (so) a band of priests commit murder beside the road, for they have devised a plot.
    10. In the house of Israel I have seen a horrible thing. There is harlotry in Ephraim; Israel has become polluted.
    11. Also Judah, he has set a harvest for you when I reverse the backsliding of my people.
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1. This is the spring rain of March and April. It is the “late” rain because it is at the end of the rainy season, which begins in the late fall – usually in November. This word, yoreh, can also be a noun meaning “early rain.” Hence the translation in the KJV and the LXX. But it seems to me that we must see it as a verb (present participle) in this sentence with “earth” as the object. Rashi also treated it as a verbal form.
2. As elsewhere in the prophets, the word here is hesed and does not mean alms, but rather the charity defined in the Book of Mormon (Moroni 7:47) as the pure love of Christ (=Yahweh).
3. Concerning hesed see the footnote to verse 4.
4. One could also translate this phrase as “like Adam.”
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Chapter 7

Yahweh rebukes Israel for seeking help from Egypt and Assyria instead of turning to their God.

    1. When I would have healed Israel, then the iniquity of Ephraim was revealed, and the evils of Samaria;1 for they worked deceit, and a thief comes, (and) a band raids from the outside.
    2. But they do not say in their heart (that) I remember all their evil. Now their deeds surround them, (for) they were before my face.
    3. With their evil they make (their) king rejoice, and the princes with their lies.
    4. They all commit adultery like the burning oven of a baker. He who arouses2 (them is like one who) ceases to knead the dough until it is leavened.3
    5. In the day of our king the princes made (him) ill from the heat of the wine; he stretched out his hand (to) the scorners. 4
    6. For like a portable stove,5 they brought their hearts to their intrigue. All night their baker sleeps. (In) the morning he burns like a flaming fire.
    7. They are all heated like an oven, and they have devoured their judges. All their kings have fallen. Not one of them calls to me.
    8. Ephraim mingles with the people. Ephraim was a pita that was not turned over.6
    9. Strangers consumed his strength, but he did not know it. Also, gray hairs are scattered upon him, but he does not know it.
    10. And the pride of Israel testify against them, but they have not returned to Yahweh, their God; and they have not sought him in any of this.
    11. Ephraim has been like a silly dove with no mind.7 They have called upon Egypt. They have gone to Assyria.
    12. When they go, I spread my net over them; like a bird of the sky I bring them down. I chastise them while listening to their congregation.8
    13. Woe to them, for they have wandered away from me. May devastation befall them, for they have transgressed against me, and I would redeem them, but they have spoken lies against me.
    14. And they did not cry out to me with their heart; when they wail upon their beds because of the grain and new wine, they cut themselves9 (and) they turn away from me.
    15. But I chastened (them). I strengthened their arms, but they (still) think evil concerning me.
    16. Will they return? No. Because they were like a deceitful bow, their leaders will fall by the sword, from the fury of their tongues. This is their scorn in the land of Egypt.
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1. The terms “Israel,” “Ephraim,” and “Samaria” all refer to the Northern Kingdom of Israel.
2. This word is uncertain.
3. I suspect that this refers to the fact that once lascivious ideas take root, they continue to inflame a person until he (or she) finally acts upon the desires that have developed.
4. There is a suggestion in the footnotes of the BHS that the phrase משך ידו should instead be read as מסך יינו so that the phrase “he stretched out his hand to the scorners” would then become “he mixed his wine with the scorners.” That would seem to fit the context better.
5. Concerning the translation of תנור as a portable stove, cf. BDB sub תנור.
6. Since it was not turned over, it was not finished baking.
7. Lit. “heart,” but this is also a designation for the mind in biblical Hebrew.
8. One could also argue that 'edah was the OT word for “church.” Cf. the footnote to Jer. 6:18.
9. In Hebrew (as in Syriac) the letters for “r” and “d” can be confused, therefore there is a suggestion in both the footnotes of the BHS and in the BDB (sub גדד hithpo'el) that the word התגוררו in the text be read instead as התגודדו, and that allows a reading of either “they cut themselves” or “they gather.” Cf. the same word in Jer. 5:7.
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