Session 8 | Hosea 4:12-19
Hosea 4:12-14 | Charge Against The People
Verse 12 --
Rather than going to legitimate priests, the people were resorting to various forms of divination such as their stocks (idols, or sacred pillars) and their staff (diving rods). This was called a spirit of whoredoms, where gone a whoring from under their God was a reference to their idolatry.
One should take extreme care at the source of our answers. It has been proven that the human mind is so susceptible to the powers of suggestion that patients have even been healed by placebos. See, for example, the history of Dr. Franz Mesmer, from whom we get the phrase mesmerized.
Verse 13 --
Further poetic description of the idolatry of Israel. As through the book, the references to whoredom and adultery may be physical and literal but are certainly also a reference to the spiritual idolatry of the nation. Because there is such an emphasis on the women, one wonders if Israel was not devoid of male leadership.
Verse 14 --
This verse seems to confirm the thought of a void of male leadership. First, God declares, almost oddly, that He will not punish your daughters...Nor your spouses. Why would God not punish the guilty? The answer seems embedded in the next phrase, For themselves are separated with whores, and they sacrifice with harlots. The two pronouns (themselves and they) are masculine, and not a reference to the daughters nor the spouses.
It looks like God says that He will not punish the ladies because the husbands are separated with whores, etc. Thus, it is the men who are to blame, the women just following suit.
In the end, the people that doth not understand shall fall. And, of course, it is Israel more than any nation that was responsible to understand.
Hosea 4:15-19 | Condemnation On Specific Locations
Verses 15-16 --
In verses 15-16 the Lord speaks directly to Israel (the northern kingdom), warning that Judah should not come into the same guilt.
Israel is told to come not ye unto Gilgal“Plymouth Rock" kind of location, a place to go and remember the wonderful events of another day. But by Hosea's day Gilgal had become a place of Idolatry and rejection of God (see Hos. 9:15).
They were also instructed to stay away from Beth-aven. This is a pejorative name for Bethel. It was at Bethel that God first met with Abram, but the site was desecrated by Jeroboam of Israel when he set up the religious structure of the northern kingdom (see 1 Kings 12:28-33).
Thus, two places that were once places of meeting with God had now been desecrated and it would do the people no good to go and proclaim, The LORD liveth“call on Me and I will not answer thee."
Verse 16 is more poetic than literal and should be taken in a negative sense. Israel is related to a backsliding heifer but will be fed as a lamb in a large place. That is, she will only have the food of a lamb, and one in a sparsely vegetated and unprotected open range such as would be dangerous for a lamb.
Verses 17-19 --
Verses 17-19 is all in reference to Ephraim, the largest of the tribes of the northern kingdom. Likely the part is in reference to the whole, and the reference is to the territory more than the tribe“the heartland has become polluted." As goes the heartland, so goes the full nation. The “heartland" is accused of being joined to idols (v. 17) and having committed whoredom continually (v. 18). Poetically speaking, Their drink is sour (v. 18).
The second portion of verse 18 is open to interpretation. However, it looks like the accusation is that Ephraim's rulers with shame do love to put for the instruction, Give ye. Bullinger puts this down as a figure of speech, Mattalage, in which one subject is substituted for another. Here, The subject of Ephraim and her idolatry is substituted for the rulers and their commands. Thus,“the rulers of the heartland love to shout forth their orders for the people to give more sacrifice to the idols."
Verse 19 concludes with a somewhat cryptic but no-doubt condemnatory verse about the wind having bound her up in her wings, resulting in shame because of their sacrifices.