Bible Commentaries
Hosea 5

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-15




Verses 1-15:

Verse 1 calls upon the priests and house of Israel, house of the king, to give heed to certain pending Divine judgment that is about to fall upon them, because their behavior had been like high hill and mountain hunters of Mizpah and Tabor who set entrapment snares and nets to trap their prey, birds and beasts. For Israel had become snared into idolatry, adultery, and injustice, by her own priests, princes, and kings. While they were supposed to be watchers and guardians of God’s laws and worship, they had become breakers and desecraters of it, much as recounted Mark 7:1-13.

Verse 2 explains that their rulers and priests had made profound their reasons to slaughter (not sacrifice) many animals as they offered them before idol gods, even golden gods, in Dan and Bethel, to keep their people from returning to Jerusalem where David ruled. They thus "deeply corrupted" themselves, Hosea 9:9; Isaiah 31:6. The rulers argued the people into accepting these slaughters before idols as a matter of humanitarian expediency, Isaiah 29:15. All this happened in spite of God’s warnings and rebukes, through His law and the prophets, whom if men hear not, they would not though one arose from the dead, Exodus 20:1-4; Luke 16:31.

Verse 3 asserts that He knows Ephraim, the foremost of the ten Northern tribes of Israel. For 40 years Ephraim, with Manasseh and Benjamin, its two dependent or weaker tribes, held preeminence in the whole nation of Israel. But she is now foremost and preeminent in the advocacy and practice of idolatry. And neither Ephraim nor Israel in all their cunning idolatrous devices shall escape judgment for their disobedience and idolatry, for God knows their deeds, Revelation 2:9; Revelation 2:13; Revelation 2:19. Even now, continually, Ephraim is charged with living on in practice of whoredoms, thinking they are hidden from God’s judgment, Ecclesiastes 12:14. Though these sins were open and naked to God and the public.

Verse 4 further explains that the people are so enslaved in the deeds of idolatry, as a wine growing in a frame, that they do not even have a desire, a frame of mind, to turn from their evil practices. They resisted the spirit and word of God, desiring to hold to their whoredoms more, Isaiah 63:10; Ezekiel 16:43; Acts 7:51; Proverbs 29:1.

Verse 5 charges that Israel’s pride, which goes before destruction, in their ignoring God’s warnings, is all the blushing testimony needed against them for Divine judgment to fall justly upon them, Hosea 7:10; Jeremiah 13:17; Isaiah 3:9; Proverbs 16:18. The fall of Israel and Ephraim, the Northern kingdom of Israel, is therefore announced as certain, to be followed by Judah, the Southern kingdom as well, because she too, had now gone after idolatry, in willful disregard for and defiance of the very law her temple was to uphold, Exodus 20:1-4; Amos 7:7.

Verse 6 details how they shall later go forth, wander, with their flocks and herds, to seek the Lord, but shall not find Him. For He would not hear or heed their prayers until they had been chastised in a foreign land. He withdrew His fellowship from them, because of their sins, leaving them to reap their judgment, but not without warning, Proverbs 1:28; Isaiah 1:15; Jeremiah 7:16; Jeremiah 11:11; Jeremiah 11:14; Ezekiel 8:18; Micah 3:4; John 7:34.

Verse 7 gives the valid reason for this judgment. It was because of Israel’s treachery; Married to God, she became a carnal sensual, willful, religious harlot. She had begotten strange (heathen) children, broken their marriage contract with God, given their sons and daughters in marriage, soul and body, to heathen, idol gods, Deuteronomy 25:5. This judgment was to fall quickly, in one month, with all they had, when it began, Zechariah 11:1; Isaiah 57:6; Jeremiah 10:16.

Verse 8 calls upon Hosea to "blow the coronet in Gibeath", and "the trumpet in Ramah." These were musical instruments used to herald the coming of marching armies and enemies, in times of war, and on solemn occasions. Both cities were in the territory of Benjamin, Isaiah 10:29. The coronet was made of the curved horn of animals and used chiefly by shepherds, while the trumpet was made of brass or silver, a straight instrument, and used primarily on solemn, formal occasions, Hosea 8:1; Joel 2:1.

He was also to "cry aloud at Beth-aven," a town in Benjamin, east of Bethel, near AI, Hosea 4:15; Joshua 7:2. The "cry" was to sound an alarm of the coming enemy after them, as they were to flee, because of their sins. Benjamin is here used to represent the southern kingdom of Judah, as in v. 5. The term "after thee" means "close upon you," Judges 5:14.

Verse 9 restates certain desolation upon Ephraim and the northern kingdom of Israel’s ten tribes because they had not accepted His rebuke to turn from their idolatries, Exodus 20:1-5; Psalms 115:1-9.

Verse 10 charges that the prince-rulers of Judah, of the southern kingdom of Israel, are described as anarchists against the very law of God they were entrusted to guard and administer, removing ancient ancestral landmarks of their neighbors; But princes of Judah had removed landmarks of worship between God and Baal, Deuteronomy 19:14; Deuteronomy 27:17; Job 24:2; Proverbs 22:28; Proverbs 23:10. Ahaz and his countries or princes of Judah set aside the ancient ordinances of the law, removing the bases, the laver, and the sea, replacing them with an idolatrous altar, made by Uriah the priest, after a pattern in Damascus; Then he burned his children in sacrifice in Hinnom, an abominable heathen practice, 2 Kings 16:10-18; 2 Chronicles 18:3. For such God’s anger was to fall, Jeremiah 10:25.

Verse 11 warns of oppression or heavy calamity and a certain crushing judgment about to befall Ephraim and the northern ten tribes of Israel, because they had walked after, pursued the statutes of Jeroboam, to worship the calves, willingly, of their own will or volition, to practice whoredoms of the heathen order of worship, which he adopted, 1 Kings 7:28; Micah 6:16; 2 Kings 10:28-33.

Verse 12 foretells the kind of personal suffering that is to come upon them, within and without. "Moth and rottenness" are destructive powers. The moth eats clothes without, while rottenness eats flesh and wood, from within. Slowly but surely each does its destructive work, Job 13:28; Psalms 39:11; Isaiah 1:9. Even so the sinner has foes, trouble, within and without. A guilty conscience, monitor of the soul, keeps from peace within, like a gnawing worm, and judgment for wrong falls without; Ephraim is the garment, eaten by moths, and Judah is the body eaten by rottenness, in her bones, skeletal support, Proverbs 12:4.

Verse 13 relates that Ephraim, upon seeing her sickness or weakness, and Judah upon seeing her wound, Jeremiah 30:12, Ephraim, following false gods, turned to the heathen Assyrian king Jereb for healing of sickness and curing of her wounds; She sought help and healing from another spiritually sick nation. Sick people don’t seek other sick people to make them well, do they? Yet, note Israel and Judah’s behavior, Isaiah 1:6; Jeremiah 30:12. They did not seek counsel from God for their calamity, but from Assyria, 2 Kings 15:19; 2 Kings 17:3; Assyria saw their wickedness and weakness and pounced upon them as his prey; Thus Assyria became God’s avenger of Israel’s sins, Judges 6:32; 2 Kings 16:7-8; 2 Chronicles 28:16-21.

Verse 14 describes further the manner of coming judgment on Ephraim. It was to be "as a lion" (a black, older, roaring lion) and as a "young lion" an emblem of strength and ferociousness. They can no more protect themselves from God’s judgment than from vicious, ferocious attacking lions. God asserts, "I, even I will tear and go away," like a lion that stalks back to his lair with his prey, after a satisfying meal. The idea is that God was to use Assyria to judge both Judah and Israel, while He withdrew His protection because of their willful, presumptuous sins, Psalms 50:22.

Verse 15 announces that God will rest or abide the time when Israel and Judah acknowledge their offense and seek His face or favor. It is the image of the lion, leisurely returning to his cover, after having taken his prey. There He awaits their suffering as a penalty for guilt, their "loathing" themselves in "self-accusation" for their sins that brought them into captivity again, Ezekiel 36:31. There, in heaven their creator, husband, and sustainer awaits His lover’s repentance and return and confession of her wrong, Proverbs 24:26; Psalms 119:147; Psalms 78:34. They will one day seek Him earnestly and urgently and find Him, Deuteronomy 4:29-30; 2 Chronicles 7:14.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Hosea 5". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. 1985.