Hosea, Rightly Divided & Verse-by-Verse
Session 12 | Hosea 8:11-10:15
Hosea 8:11-10:15 | Israel’s Religious Sins
Hosea 8:11-9:9 | Israel’s Religious Sins, Part 1
God begins by speaking of the many altars to sin that had been built by Ephraim (the “stand in” figure for Israel), saying that because he had built these that Altars shall be unto him sin. Both the first and the second use of sin have the same word, but the second is used figuratively. Using a modern proverb, we could understand this to mean, “you made your bed, now sleep in it.”
Sadly, Ephraim ignored the great things of my law and counted these things as a strange thing (v. 12). In a sense, this reckoning as a strange thing is to be taken literally since the Northern Kingdom constitutionally alienated Israel from the Torah in creating its new form of religious Judaism.
Note also in verse 12 that God says, I have written...the great things of my law. This is a declared heavenly authorship of the Torah. This is also significant in the area of study called “Higher Criticism,” which was led by religious liberals and ascribed the written Torah to a time after the destruction of Jerusalem by Babylon, yet here God speaks of it as having been written in the days of Hosea. Rather than amend their date for the writing of the Torah, adherents of higher criticism simply move the dates of other books, like Hosea, until they create enough lies to make their theory work. In doing so, they remove the trustworthy nature of Scripture.
When the Lord ill visit their sins, as promised in verse 13, then they shall return to Egypt. It is my interpretation that return to Egypt is used metaphorically, not referring to Egypt as a location but rather as a situation of bondage and sojourn.
In verse 14 God speaks of Israel rather than Ephraim (as in vv. 11-13), giving further evidence that they are interchangeable. He also brings Judah into the discussion, reminding them that both places will ultimately be destroyed. Whether the Lord is speaking in the short term or in eschatological terms is uncertain. The context favors the shorter term, but the fire favors the eschatological term.
Returning to discuss Israel alone, the Lord chastises them for whoring from thy God in 9:1, speaking figuratively of Israel’s departure from God to other gods. The nation loved a reward upon every cornfloor (v. 1). This is likely a reference to a love of making money in any way you can get it, though most modern translations relate the reward to “a prostitute’s wages” (ESV) or something similar. By 9:2 it is clear that no reward of any kind will be forthcoming.
Verses 3-9 give specifics for the days of visitation (v. 7), that is, the Lord’s punishment. This is the punishment that is the destruction through Assyria and the subsequent scattering of the tribes worldwide. In verse 8, the watchman is the true watchman of God, but the prophet is a false prophet. The sin of the days of Gibeah is a reference to Joshua 19:15 and following, implying that the sin of the tribes has been ongoing for a very long time.
Hosea 9:10-10:15 | Israel’s Sins, Part 2
These “part 1” and “part 2” sections are segmented because both carry a pattern of expressing the sins followed by a comment on Gibeah as a conclusion (Hos. 9:9 and 10:9-15). Because of this, let’s start with learning about Gibeah. It as at Gibeah that a righteous stranger came to find lodging. First, he came to Ramah, but finding no lodging he stayed in the city until met by a man from Ephraim, who took him into Gibeah and gave him lodging and provisions. But as they were there, a very similar incident as took place in Sodom took place again. This time the concubine of the traveler was offered, and abused all night long, then given back to the traveler at dawn. The traveler divided her, together with her bones, into twelve pieces, and sent her into all the coasts of Israel (Judges 19:29). The incident became “proverbial” in Israel for the worst of all sins (see Jdg. 19:30).
The Lord ends both sections with a reminder about this proverbial time of sin, which no doubt became emblematic of Israel’s sinful environment.
In 9:10 the Lord says that He originally found Israel like grapes in the wilderness (i.e.: a blessing to discover). Yet, they went to Baal-peor, and separated themselves unto that shame. This is likely a reference to a well-known incident.
In verses 9:11-14 the sins of Ephraim are given comparisons, and in verse 15 it is stated that all their wickedness is in Gilgal: for there I hated them. This is in reference to their original rejection of God and setting up of their first “fake Temple.”
Verses 9:16-17 give more comparisons, and the curse that they shall be wanderers among the nations, not lost, but wandering. This is so proverbial that there is even a plant that was once commonly called a Wandering Jew (Tradescantia Fluminensis).
Whereas once they were like grapes in the wilderness (9:10) they are now an empty vine (10:1). The remaining verses in this segment (through verse 8) speak of the temporal punishment of the nation, which shall soon be carried unto Assyria for a present to king Jareb (v. 6 - see note on Hos. 5:13 for King Jareb). Verses 9-15 refer to Gibeah and the foundations and starting places to their sin, with a strong call to repentance.