Hosea Intro

The prophet Hosea spoke to the northern kingdom of Israel in the turbulent period of the 8


century BC. Following the death of Jeroboam II, Israel had six different kings in just over twenty years; four were assassinated and the last was forcibly removed from the throne. The rising empire of Assyria invaded Israel, and by 722 BC had completely conquered the nation and carried off much of its population into exile.

Israel had made the mistake of identifying the


with Baal, a Canaanite nature god. This identification may have begun innocently enough, since


simply means “master.” But by the time of Hosea, the people were visiting shrine prostitutes, and had adopted the magical practices of fertility cults. Hosea repeatedly denounces this corrupted worship as spiritual prostitution. He also condemns the nation’s foolish foreign intrigues, its rejection of the moral law, and its callous greed. The people dismissed Hosea’s warnings, however, and simply mocked him.

The book is structured into two main parts. The shorter first part tells how God commanded Hosea to marry the unfaithful woman Gomer. She is symbolic of Israel’s wavering faithfulness to the


. The prophet’s own life thus provided a picture of God’s intentions toward wayward Israel. The longer second part contains oracles delivered during the decline after King Jeroboam, alternating hope and doom as Hosea both threatens and pleads with the kingdom of Israel in the last years before its exile.


Hosea 1

1 The word of theLordthat came to Hosea son of Beeri during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and during the reign of Jeroboam son of Jehoashking of Israel:

Hosea’s Wife and Children

2 When theLordbegan to speak through Hosea, theLordsaid to him, “Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to theLord.”

3 So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.

4 Then theLordsaid to Hosea, “Call him Jezreel, because I will soon punish the house of Jehu for the massacre at Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of Israel.

5 In that day I will break Israel’s bow in the Valley of Jezreel.”

6 Gomer conceived again and gave birth to a daughter. Then theLordsaid to Hosea, “Call her Lo-Ruhamah (which means “not loved”), for I will no longer show love to Israel, that I should at all forgive them.

7 Yet I will show love to Judah; and I will save them—not by bow, sword or battle, or by horses and horsemen, but I, theLordtheir God, will save them.”

8 After she had weaned Lo-Ruhamah, Gomer had another son.

9 Then theLordsaid, “Call him Lo-Ammi (which means “not my people”), for you are not my people, and I am not your God.

10 “Yet the Israelites will be like the sand on the seashore, which cannot be measured or counted. In the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ they will be called ‘children of the living God.’

11 The people of Judah and the people of Israel will come together; they will appoint one leader and will come up out of the land, for great will be the day of Jezreel.



Hosea 2

1 “Say of your brothers, ‘My people,’ and of your sisters, ‘My loved one.’

Israel Punished and Restored

2 “Rebuke your mother, rebuke her,

for she is not my wife,

and I am not her husband.

Let her remove the adulterous look from her face

and the unfaithfulness from between her breasts.

3 Otherwise I will strip her naked

and make her as bare as on the day she was born;

I will make her like a desert,

turn her into a parched land,

and slay her with thirst.

4 I will not show my love to her children,

because they are the children of adultery.

5 Their mother has been unfaithful

and has conceived them in disgrace.

She said, ‘I will go after my lovers,

who give me my food and my water,

my wool and my linen, my olive oil and my drink.’

6 Therefore I will block her path with thornbushes;

I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way.

7 She will chase after her lovers but not catch them;

she will look for them but not find them.

Then she will say,

‘I will go back to my husband as at first,

for then I was better off than now.’

8 She has not acknowledged that I was the one

who gave her the grain, the new wine and oil,

who lavished on her the silver and gold—

which they used for Baal.

9 “Therefore I will take away my grain when it ripens,

and my new wine when it is ready.

I will take back my wool and my linen,

intended to cover her naked body.

10 So now I will expose her lewdness

before the eyes of her lovers;

no one will take her out of my hands.

11 I will stop all her celebrations:

her yearly festivals, her New Moons,

her Sabbath days—all her appointed festivals.

12 I will ruin her vines and her fig trees,

which she said were her pay from her lovers;

I will make them a thicket,

and wild animals will devour them.

13 I will punish her for the days

she burned incense to the Baals;

she decked herself with rings and jewelry,

and went after her lovers,

but me she forgot,”

declares theLord.

14 “Therefore I am now going to allure her;

I will lead her into the wilderness

and speak tenderly to her.

15 There I will give her back her vineyards,

and will make the Valley of Achora door of hope.

There she will respondas in the days of her youth,

as in the day she came up out of Egypt.

16 “In that day,” declares theLord,

“you will call me ‘my husband’;

you will no longer call me ‘my master.’

17 I will remove the names of the Baals from her lips;

no longer will their names be invoked.

18 In that day I will make a covenant for them

with the beasts of the field, the birds in the sky

and the creatures that move along the ground.

Bow and sword and battle

I will abolish from the land,

so that all may lie down in safety.

19 I will betroth you to me forever;

I will betroth you inrighteousness and justice,

inlove and compassion.

20 I will betroth you in faithfulness,

and you will acknowledge theLord.

21 “In that day I will respond,”

declares theLord—

“I will respond to the skies,

and they will respond to the earth;

22 and the earth will respond to the grain,

the new wine and the olive oil,

and they will respond to Jezreel.

23 I will plant her for myself in the land;

I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one.’

I will say to those called ‘Not my people,’ ‘You are my people’;

and they will say, ‘You are my God.’ ”



Hosea 3

Hosea’s Reconciliation With His Wife

1 TheLordsaid to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as theLordloves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.”

2 So I bought her for fifteen shekelsof silver and about a homer and a lethekof barley.

3 Then I told her, “You are to live with me many days; you must not be a prostitute or be intimate with any man, and I will behave the same way toward you.”

4 For the Israelites will live many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred stones, without ephod or household gods.

5 Afterward the Israelites will return and seek theLordtheir God and David their king. They will come trembling to theLordand to his blessings in the last days.



Hosea 4

The Charge Against Israel

1 Hear the word of theLord, you Israelites,

because theLordhas a charge to bring

against you who live in the land:

“There is no faithfulness, no love,

no acknowledgment of God in the land.

2 There is only cursing,lying and murder,

stealing and adultery;

they break all bounds,

and bloodshed follows bloodshed.

3 Because of this the land dries up,

and all who live in it waste away;

the beasts of the field, the birds in the sky

and the fish in the sea are swept away.

4 “But let no one bring a charge,

let no one accuse another,

for your people are like those

who bring charges against a priest.

5 You stumble day and night,

and the prophets stumble with you.

So I will destroy your mother—

6 my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.

“Because you have rejected knowledge,

I also reject you as my priests;

because you have ignored the law of your God,

I also will ignore your children.

7 The more priests there were,

the more they sinned against me;

they exchanged their glorious Godfor something disgraceful.

8 They feed on the sins of my people

and relish their wickedness.

9 And it will be: Like people, like priests.

I will punish both of them for their ways

and repay them for their deeds.

10 “They will eat but not have enough;

they will engage in prostitution but not flourish,

because they have deserted theLord

to give themselves

11 to prostitution;

old wine and new wine

take away their understanding.

12 My people consult a wooden idol,

and a diviner’s rod speaks to them.

A spirit of prostitution leads them astray;

they are unfaithful to their God.

13 They sacrifice on the mountaintops

and burn offerings on the hills,

under oak, poplar and terebinth,

where the shade is pleasant.

Therefore your daughters turn to prostitution

and your daughters-in-law to adultery.

14 “I will not punish your daughters

when they turn to prostitution,

nor your daughters-in-law

when they commit adultery,

because the men themselves consort with harlots

and sacrifice with shrine prostitutes—

a people without understanding will come to ruin!

15 “Though you, Israel, commit adultery,

do not let Judah become guilty.

“Do not go to Gilgal;

do not go up to Beth Aven.

And do not swear, ‘As surely as theLordlives!’

16 The Israelites are stubborn,

like a stubborn heifer.

How then can theLordpasture them

like lambs in a meadow?

17 Ephraim is joined to idols;

leave him alone!

18 Even when their drinks are gone,

they continue their prostitution;

their rulers dearly love shameful ways.

19 A whirlwind will sweep them away,

and their sacrifices will bring them shame.



Hosea 5

Judgment Against Israel

1 “Hear this, you priests!

Pay attention, you Israelites!

Listen, royal house!

This judgment is against you:

You have been a snare at Mizpah,

a net spread out on Tabor.

2 The rebels are knee-deep in slaughter.

I will discipline all of them.

3 I know all about Ephraim;

Israel is not hidden from me.

Ephraim, you have now turned to prostitution;

Israel is corrupt.

4 “Their deeds do not permit them

to return to their God.

A spirit of prostitution is in their heart;

they do not acknowledge theLord.

5 Israel’s arrogance testifies against them;

the Israelites, even Ephraim, stumble in their sin;

Judah also stumbles with them.

6 When they go with their flocks and herds

to seek theLord,

they will not find him;

he has withdrawn himself from them.

7 They are unfaithful to theLord;

they give birth to illegitimate children.

When they celebrate their New Moon feasts,

he will devourtheir fields.

8 “Sound the trumpet in Gibeah,

the horn in Ramah.

Raise the battle cry in Beth Aven;

lead on, Benjamin.

9 Ephraim will be laid waste

on the day of reckoning.

Among the tribes of Israel

I proclaim what is certain.

10 Judah’s leaders are like those

who move boundary stones.

I will pour out my wrath on them

like a flood of water.

11 Ephraim is oppressed,

trampled in judgment,

intent on pursuing idols.

12 I am like a moth to Ephraim,

like rot to the people of Judah.

13 “When Ephraim saw his sickness,

and Judah his sores,

then Ephraim turned to Assyria,

and sent to the great king for help.

But he is not able to cure you,

not able to heal your sores.

14 For I will be like a lion to Ephraim,

like a great lion to Judah.

I will tear them to pieces and go away;

I will carry them off, with no one to rescue them.

15 Then I will return to my lair

until they have borne their guilt

and seek my face—

in their misery

they will earnestly seek me.”



Hosea 6

Israel Unrepentant

1 “Come, let us return to theLord.

He has torn us to pieces

but he will heal us;

he has injured us

but he will bind up our wounds.

2 After two days he will revive us;

on the third day he will restore us,

that we may live in his presence.

3 Let us acknowledge theLord;

let us press on to acknowledge him.

As surely as the sun rises,

he will appear;

he will come to us like the winter rains,

like the spring rains that water the earth.”

4 “What can I do with you, Ephraim?

What can I do with you, Judah?

Your love is like the morning mist,

like the early dew that disappears.

5 Therefore I cut you in pieces with my prophets,

I killed you with the words of my mouth—

then my judgments go forth like the sun.

6 For I desire mercy, not sacrifice,

and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.

7 As at Adam,they have broken the covenant;

they were unfaithful to me there.

8 Gilead is a city of evildoers,

stained with footprints of blood.

9 As marauders lie in ambush for a victim,

so do bands of priests;

they murder on the road to Shechem,

carrying out their wicked schemes.

10 I have seen a horrible thing in Israel:

There Ephraim is given to prostitution,

Israel is defiled.

11 “Also for you, Judah,

a harvest is appointed.

“Whenever I would restore the fortunes of my people,



Hosea 7

1 whenever I would heal Israel,

the sins of Ephraim are exposed

and the crimes of Samaria revealed.

They practice deceit,

thieves break into houses,

bandits rob in the streets;

2 but they do not realize

that I remember all their evil deeds.

Their sins engulf them;

they are always before me.

3 “They delight the king with their wickedness,

the princes with their lies.

4 They are all adulterers,

burning like an oven

whose fire the baker need not stir

from the kneading of the dough till it rises.

5 On the day of the festival of our king

the princes become inflamed with wine,

and he joins hands with the mockers.

6 Their hearts are like an oven;

they approach him with intrigue.

Their passion smolders all night;

in the morning it blazes like a flaming fire.

7 All of them are hot as an oven;

they devour their rulers.

All their kings fall,

and none of them calls on me.

8 “Ephraim mixes with the nations;

Ephraim is a flat loaf not turned over.

9 Foreigners sap his strength,

but he does not realize it.

His hair is sprinkled with gray,

but he does not notice.

10 Israel’s arrogance testifies against him,

but despite all this

he does not return to theLordhis God

or search for him.

11 “Ephraim is like a dove,

easily deceived and senseless—

now calling to Egypt,

now turning to Assyria.

12 When they go, I will throw my net over them;

I will pull them down like the birds in the sky.

When I hear them flocking together,

I will catch them.

13 Woe to them,

because they have strayed from me!

Destruction to them,

because they have rebelled against me!

I long to redeem them

but they speak about me falsely.

14 They do not cry out to me from their hearts

but wail on their beds.

They slash themselves,appealing to their gods

for grain and new wine,

but they turn away from me.

15 I trained them and strengthened their arms,

but they plot evil against me.

16 They do not turn to the Most High;

they are like a faulty bow.

Their leaders will fall by the sword

because of their insolent words.

For this they will be ridiculed

in the land of Egypt.



Hosea 8

Israel to Reap the Whirlwind

1 “Put the trumpet to your lips!

An eagle is over the house of theLord

because the people have broken my covenant

and rebelled against my law.

2 Israel cries out to me,

‘Our God, we acknowledge you!’

3 But Israel has rejected what is good;

an enemy will pursue him.

4 They set up kings without my consent;

they choose princes without my approval.

With their silver and gold

they make idols for themselves

to their own destruction.

5 Samaria, throw out your calf-idol!

My anger burns against them.

How long will they be incapable of purity?

6 They are from Israel!

This calf—a metalworker has made it;

it is not God.

It will be broken in pieces,

that calf of Samaria.

7 “They sow the wind

and reap the whirlwind.

The stalk has no head;

it will produce no flour.

Were it to yield grain,

foreigners would swallow it up.

8 Israel is swallowed up;

now she is among the nations

like something no one wants.

9 For they have gone up to Assyria

like a wild donkey wandering alone.

Ephraim has sold herself to lovers.

10 Although they have sold themselves among the nations,

I will now gather them together.

They will begin to waste away

under the oppression of the mighty king.

11 “Though Ephraim built many altars for sin offerings,

these have become altars for sinning.

12 I wrote for them the many things of my law,

but they regarded them as something foreign.

13 Though they offer sacrifices as gifts to me,

and though they eat the meat,

theLordis not pleased with them.

Now he will remember their wickedness

and punish their sins:

They will return to Egypt.

14 Israel has forgotten their Maker

and built palaces;

Judah has fortified many towns.

But I will send fire on their cities

that will consume their fortresses.”



Hosea 9

Punishment for Israel

1 Do not rejoice, Israel;

do not be jubilant like the other nations.

For you have been unfaithful to your God;

you love the wages of a prostitute

at every threshing floor.

2 Threshing floors and winepresses will not feed the people;

the new wine will fail them.

3 They will not remain in theLord’s land;

Ephraim will return to Egypt

and eat unclean food in Assyria.

4 They will not pour out wine offerings to theLord,

nor will their sacrifices please him.

Such sacrifices will be to them like the bread of mourners;

all who eat them will be unclean.

This food will be for themselves;

it will not come into the temple of theLord.

5 What will you do on the day of your appointed festivals,

on the feast days of theLord?

6 Even if they escape from destruction,

Egypt will gather them,

and Memphis will bury them.

Their treasures of silver will be taken over by briers,

and thorns will overrun their tents.

7 The days of punishment are coming,

the days of reckoning are at hand.

Let Israel know this.

Because your sins are so many

and your hostility so great,

the prophet is considered a fool,

the inspired person a maniac.

8 The prophet, along with my God,

is the watchman over Ephraim,

yet snares await him on all his paths,

and hostility in the house of his God.

9 They have sunk deep into corruption,

as in the days of Gibeah.

God will remember their wickedness

and punish them for their sins.

10 “When I found Israel,

it was like finding grapes in the desert;

when I saw your ancestors,

it was like seeing the early fruit on the fig tree.

But when they came to Baal Peor,

they consecrated themselves to that shameful idol

and became as vile as the thing they loved.

11 Ephraim’s glory will fly away like a bird—

no birth, no pregnancy, no conception.

12 Even if they rear children,

I will bereave them of every one.

Woe to them

when I turn away from them!

13 I have seen Ephraim, like Tyre,

planted in a pleasant place.

But Ephraim will bring out

their children to the slayer.”

14 Give them,Lord—

what will you give them?

Give them wombs that miscarry

and breasts that are dry.

15 “Because of all their wickedness in Gilgal,

I hated them there.

Because of their sinful deeds,

I will drive them out of my house.

I will no longer love them;

all their leaders are rebellious.

16 Ephraim is blighted,

their root is withered,

they yield no fruit.

Even if they bear children,

I will slay their cherished offspring.”

17 My God will reject them

because they have not obeyed him;

they will be wanderers among the nations.