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Wednesday, September 27th, 2023
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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Bible Commentaries
Hosea 13

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

Verses 1-16

2. The Judgment of God’s Anger

Hosea 13:0

1 When Ephraim spoke, there was trembling;1

He exalted himself in Israel,
Then he transgressed through Baal and died.

2 And now they continue to sin,

They made for themselves idols of their silver,
Images according to their understanding [as they pleased],
All of them the work of artificers;
To them men who sacrifice2 are speaking (in prayer),

They kiss the calves.

3 Therefore will they be like the morning cloud,

And like the dew, which soon passes away,
Like chaff which is whirled3 out of the threshing-floor,

And like smoke from a window.

4 And (yet) I am Jehovah, thy God,

From the land of Egypt,
And thou dost not know a God besides me,
And there is no Saviour except me.

5 I knew thee in the desert,

In the land of droughts.

6 According to their pasture [as they fed] they were satisfied,

They were satisfied, and their heart was uplifted,
Therefore they forgot me.

7 And (so) I became4 as a lion to them,

And as a leopard I lurked in the path.

8 I will attack them like a bear 5 robbed of her whelps,

And rend the inclosure of their heart,
I will devour them then like a lioness;
The wild beast of the field shall rend them.

9 It has destroyed thee,6 Israel,

That thou (hast been) against me, against thy Help.

10 Where7 then is thy king,

And he (who) will help thee in all thy cities?
And thy judgest8 of whom thou saidst:

“Give me a king and princes?”

11 I give thee a king in my anger,

And will take him away in my wrath.

12 Ephraim’s guilt is bound up,

His sin is treasured away.

13 The pains of a travailing woman shall come upon him:

(But) he is an unwise son;
Because at the (right) time9 he would not enter the opening of the womb.

14 Should I redeem them from the hand of hell?

Should I free them from death?
Where are thy plagues, O death?
Where is thy destruction, O hell?
Repentance shall be hidden from my eyes.

15 For (though) among (his) brethren he may be fruitful,10

An east wind will come,
A breath of Jehovah rising from the desert,
And his spring shall dry up and his fountain be parched;
He [Assyria] shall plunder the treasure of all the costly vessels.


Hosea 13:1. When Ephraim spoke, etc. An allusion to the high respect paid to Israel. נָשָׂא here is intransitive [comp. Psalms 89:10; Nahum 1:5.] The reference is to the unrighteous desire for predominance cherished by Ephraim, which led at to the schism from the House of David. But internal declension was immediately connected with this. The worship of Baal evidently began really the calf-worship according to the view of the Prophet. He cannot allow it to be maintained the latter was the worship of Jehovah. And died: They died spiritually, and then outward that ruin comes also. [This view of the whole is verse approved by Henderson, Pusey, and most recent Expositors.—M.]

Hosea 13:2. All their former transgressions were continued. לָהֶם הֵם אֹמְרִים. This is difficult. זֹבְהי אָדָם is not=who sacrifice men, for human sacrifices were not offered in the calf-worship, but=those among men who sacrifice, according to the analogy of אֶבְיוֹנֵי אָדָם (Isaiah 29:19). Keil renders: of them they say (those of the men that sacrifice); they kiss the calves. But this is linguistically harsh, for “they kiss calves” would be oratio obliqua, and לָהֶם would mean: of them, namely, of the images. It is besides unnatural. To whom should the offerers “say” that they kiss the calves? They certainly perform such actions, and it is that is the conduct here rebuked, but their saying that they do so is a very remote idea. We are therefore obliged to take אֹמְרִים here absolutely as it is nowhere else employed=speak in prayer. This is just the thought that is suitable here. It had been previously said that these images are purely the work of men themselves, and yet—how cutting is the reproof!—they speak with these very works of their hands, they kiss them, as though they were flesh and blood.

Hosea 13:3. The punishment of this is swift destruction. As to the figures of the morning cloud and the early dew, see on Hosea 6:4. Here there are added other comparisons; the usual one of chaff, and, besides, that of smoke, which escaped by the windows since there were no chimneys.

Hosea 13:4-5. As contrasted with Israel’s idolatry Jehovah points again to what he had done for Israel long ago, at first with the same words as those employed in Hosea 12:10, but afterwards more fully. I knew thee, with the accessory notions of love and compassion.

Hosea 13:6. The goodness of God is abused. According to their pasture, i.e., in the land given them by God. The complaint rests upon Deuteronomy 8:11 ff. (comp. also Hos 31:20; Hos 32:15 ff.). That against which they were there warned, has been done.

Hosea 13:7-8 therefore describe the punishment, in accordance with the figure of the pasture, in which Israel is the flock. The flock will be rent as by wild beasts (comp. also, Hosea 5:14). וֶאְהִֶי, and I became to them: the punishment had already begun and would be continued. The inclosure of their heart = their breast.

Hosea 13:9. It has destroyed thee, O Israel, that thou wert against me, thy Help. The second clause gives the cause of the first. בְּ is then to be taken in the sense of “against;” that thou against me, against thy help. According to the sequel the special reference is to the falling away from the House of David. [So Ewald, Keil, and most of the recent Continental Expositors agree in adopting the above explanation. Pusey and Noyes among the Anglo-Americans also prefer it. The others generally hold to the rendering of the E. V. The two chief objections against the latter view are that it demands a very roundabout rendering of שִׁחֶתְךָ, and that the second בְּ is most naturally to be taken in the same sense as the first, and therefore cannot be a Beth essentiæ.—M.]

Hosea 13:10. Israel had indeed a king, but not one who could help them, or defend their cities (against Assyria). And thy judges, probably=the princes who surround the king, “the ministers and counsellors appointed by the king, who along with him exercise the highest judicial and executive authority.” Give me a king and princes; not without allusion to the request of the people in the time of Samuel. On the case of Jeroboam, they repeated this ancient demand, at that time reproved by the Lord, in a still more sinful way.

Hosea 13:11. I give thee a king in my anger, not: I gave thee, because the expression is not to be limited to the elevation of Jeroboam, but refers generally to the kings of Israel. When they separated from the House of David and set up their own kings, God punished them, because in doing so “they forsook his worship, and gave themselves over to the power of their ungodly kings.” And will take him away. This refers not merely to the dethronement of one king by another, but to the kingdom generally, which God would overthrow in his anger. The anger of God stands therefore at the beginning and at the end; giving kings and taking them away, are both an evidence of his displeasure.

Hosea 13:12 shows that the taking away of the king is inevitable: “servata sunt ad vindictam omnia peccata eorum” [Henderson: “The metaphors are here borrowed from the custom of tying up money in bags and depositing it in some secret place in order that it might be preserved. The certainty of punishment is the idea conveyed by them. Comp., for the former, Job 14:17; for the latter, Deuteronomy 32:34; Job 21:19.”—M.]

Hosea 13:13 describes the punishment under the image of birth-pangs, in which, however, the pains of the mother are not so much thought of as the pressure which the child must suffer. And yet, though there is distress in child-birth, it does not tend to destruction, but to birth, to a new life. So also here. But death does follow if the child is not pressed out into the vagina in consequence of the labor, so as to come into the world alive: So is it with Israel. Under God’s judgment they put off a return to Him, and will not be born again; that judgment must therefore be their destruction.

Hosea 13:14, according to the common view, introduces a promise without any preparation. Yet, though we cannot be surprised at the occurrence of sudden transition in our Prophet, a promise is evidently quite unsuitable. We would from the foregoing words rather expect a mention of the punishment reserved for their guilt, or a description of their pains. It would then be surprising if a promise were introduced; and the fact is that threatening is here unmistakably becoming stronger, until Hosea 14:1. To be sure, if Hosea 13:14 be regarded as a promise, Hosea 13:15 must bear the same character, as they are connected by “for.” But the change would be only the more violent, taking place in one and the same verse, and Keil only imports his notion into the passage, when he, for this reason, makes a distinction, and refers the beginning of the verse to those who walk in the footsteps of the faith, etc., of their progenitor, and the rest to Ephraim who had become changed into Canaan [a merchant]. But, besides, the second part of Hosea 13:15 manifestly presupposes the beginning of the same verse, the image of the blasting wind presupposing that of the fruit-bearing, or the former is chosen with direct reference to the latter; the judgment is regarded as a devastation by scorching wind, because Israel is conceived of as a fruitful field. Under any other view members of a verse, which are connected in meaning, would be sundered. If therefore Hosea 13:15 throughout is nothing but threatening, its beginning with “for” argues the same character for Hosea 13:14. The beginning of Hosea 13:14 is then to be explained as a question, though without the particle of interrogation: From the hand of hell should I deliver them? The second member contains an energetic negative response. Nay, even death and hell are summoned and charged to inflict and execute the judgment upon them. אֱהְי as in Hosea 13:10 =where (see farther in the Doctrinal Section, No. 4).

נֹחַם: either repentance or compassion. The former is most suitable: it is not to be supposed that I repent of this threatening, that I recall it.

Hosea 13:15. כִּי הוּא וְג׳ alludes, with a play upon the name Ephraim (יַפְרִיא and אֶפְרָאִים), to their fruitfulness, in order to represent the judgment as a scorching wind destroying that fertility. He will spoil. “He,” i.e., the enemy presented under the image of the parching wind, Assyria. The treasure of all precious vessels, is to be sought especially in the chief city, Samaria, which is named immediately hereafter.


1. Apostasy from Jehovah, which appears here also as Israel’s chief sin, brought death upon them: they died (Hosea 13:1). This conception sounds the depths of the subject. Outwardly regarded, they lived long, even after they gave themselves up to the worship of Baal (just like a fruitful tree, Hosea 13:15), but in truth inwardly they were dead. For true life consists in union with Jehovah: idols can give no life. Israel owed its life to Jehovah alone (Hosea 13:4). Therefore, Hosea 13:9 : “It has destroyed thee that thou hast been against me, thy help.” What God had done for Israel from the beginning is here again (Hosea 13:4-5) made prominent, and the deliverance from Egypt with the leading through the Desert appear again as the fundamental act of mercy, for through them Israel became “living.” Their present conduct towards God was a base and ungrateful ignoring of those deeds in the presumption of a prosperity which they owed to their God (Hosea 13:6). A people who are inwardly dead cannot long outwardly survive. That God whom they had forgotten and from whom they had turned away, would and must at last show them that He had not forgotten them (Hosea 13:12) by destroying them without sparing. This is indeed the only means of bringing them to life. For that and that alone is designed by God in their case; see Hosea 14:0. This must ever be kept in view if we are to understand the threatenings aright, which are reproduced here in a peculiarly intensified form: Hosea 13:7-8, Hosea 13:12 to Hosea 14:1. But how true and striking is such a description seen to be, when we remember that this divine judgment is executed by the invasion of a foreign conqueror! With what can his attack be better compared than with the attack of devouring beasts, or, after another image, with a scorching wind that destroys everything in its course? How often has that been repeated in the history of the nations!

2. The whole (temporal) kingdom was a divine system of punishment and chastening. At the request of the people, He granted them a king, but with the expression of his displeasure at their desire because it proceeded from unbelief and vanity, and with the declaration that they would lose their freedom by its realization. But, at the same time, this kingdom of Israel might become a blessing if it with its king would obey God. Nay, God, by establishing the throne of David in Zion, even connected the most precious promises with this kingdom, if the king were entirely one with God and should gather about him a nation obedient to God. But the people with their king followed more and more decidedly a course opposed to God by separating (in the kingdom of the Ten Tribes) from the house with which God had connected his promises, and so forsaking the king which God had given them, they must therefore be punished by having this self-erected kingdom taken away, and the punishment is all the greater that they shall never return to a state of freedom, but must lie under the much viler bondage of foreign rulers until they return to the king whom God had promised to raise up from the House of David.

3. The passage in Hosea 13:14 is and remains difficult, and, although in the light of the context we cannot regard it as containing a promise, yet the view which regards it as such is in so far to be respected as the beginning of the verse especially, taken by itself, makes it appear natural. For this reason, probably, the LXX. translate in this sense, and the Apostle Paul, freely following them, cites these words (in connection with Isaiah 25:8; 1 Corinthians 15:55), in the sense of a challenge indeed, but in the same with the implication that death and hell should reveal their impotence, and therefore in the sense of a promise. But this will not compel us to explain the words otherwise than as the context requires, and we find this in accord path any but the simply mechanical theory of inspiration. But it is still to be kept in mind that in one passage the possibility of a redemption from death and hell is presupposed even if its accomplishment is refused by the threatening. But it corresponds with the character of the New Testament that it has changed the threatening into a promise. While the Old Testament summons death and the underworld to execute judgment upon their servants, the New Testament rather shows them conquered and powerless, so much so that they must even yield up the prey which they already have, and so far Paul had internal justification to convert the Old Testament threatening into a promise, or rather into a pæan of triumph, and thus in the Spirit chose the true course. For the view of Hosea 13:14 as containing a promise, we may cite further the beautiful remarks of Rieger: “Outward ruin becomes to many a path upon which they rush suddenly down to death and hell, and with their hardened hearts they prefer to be lost beyond redemption in death and hell rather than turn to God with contrite hearts, and yield themselves up to trust in Him. Therefore God’s promise comprehends the whole ruin, the whole abyss of destruction into which the sinner rushes, so as to subdue proud unbelief by the promised redemption from death and hell, and make men driven to extremity well disposed towards God. O, that all to whom sin has become their destruction would allow themselves to be rescued by this hand offered them at the brink of death and hell, especially as we can behold more fully in the New Testament the victory which God has given us through Christ Jesus, and thus more easily gain its consolation.”


Hosea 13:1. Gerlach: Pride comes before a fall. See how the sins of pride and false worship lead to spiritual and eternal death! With sin there came not only guilt but also the seeds of death, and so the heart and life-blood are consumed. On the other hand, with the new righteousness comes new life into dead souls.

[Fausset: Sin separates from God, the true life of the soul. Let all professors of religion ever remember this, that sin, habitual or unatoned for, and spiritual life cannot coexist in the same individual (Romans 8:6).—M.]

Hosea 13:4. Pfaff. Biblewerk: Since God has showered down upon us so many blessings from our youth up, and since all that we have we owe to his goodness, it is vile ingratitude to rely, not upon Him, but upon human power, false worship, and the like. We have only one God and Redeemer. Besides Him we must know no other.

[Matthew Henry: It is a happy ignorance not to know that which we are not to meddle with. Whatever we take for our God we expect to have for our Saviour, that is, to make us happy here and hereafter. As where we have protection we owe allegiance, so where we have salvation, and hope for it, we owe adoration.”—M.]

Hosea 13:6. Pfaff. Bibelwerk: So is it with the ungodly. They misuse God’s blessings and become secure, forgetting the gracious Giver, when they should rather erect an imperishable monument to Him in their souls. See thou, too, O my soul! whether thou art thankful to thy Saviour, whether thou dost bring home to thyself rightly and constantly the blessings which God has given thee, both temporal and spiritual, whether thou dost praise and live for the gracious Giver with mouth and heart and a holy walk.

[Pusey: They who follow God for Himself, things of this sort are not called their pasture, but the Word of God is their pasture, according to Deuteronomy 8:3. In like way, let all think themselves blamed, who attend the altar of Christ not for the love of the sacraments [ordinances] which they celebrate, but only to live of the altar.—M.]

Hosea 13:9. It is the conduct of men towards God which determines their woe or weal. God alone is our true Help; therefore everything that resists Him must be lost; and there is no greater folly than to rise up against Him.

Pfaff. Bibelwerk: God is guilty of no man’s destruction, but only man himself.

Hosea 13:11. Pfaff. Bibelwerk: It is a great callamity to a country when the Lord gives it a prince in his anger that he may be the instrument of his vengeance.

[Fausset: God often punishes men by giving them their wish.—M.]

Hosea 13:12. God can and would remit our sins; but He can also retain them, and must do so as long as we remain impenitent; and as long as God retains them all hope of being freed from them is vain.

Hosea 13:14. So far can the love of God be changed into wrath that He, to whom it were easy to save, does not do so, but delivers over to death and destruction, nay, even, as it were, invokes the powers of destruction to execute his wrath, without his repenting or recalling his purpose. Even in this God has assuredly purposes of salvation. He punishes so severely only to open the eyes, when and since all other means have failed. [See the Exegetical and Doctrinal Remarks.—M.]

Hosea 13:15. When God withdraws his hand all prosperity disappears, and that often suddenly, before men are aware.

[Matthew Henry: See the folly of those that lay up their treasures on earth, that lay it up in pleasant vessels, vessels of desire, so the word is, on which they set their affections, and in which they place their comfort and satisfaction.

Pusey: Such are ungodly greatness and prosperity. While they are fairest in show their life-fountains are drying up—M.].


[1]Ver. l. רְתֵת, ἅπ. λεγ.= רֶטֶט [Jeremiah 49:24. Targ. רְתִיתָא.—M.]

[2][Hosea 13:2.—זֹבְחֵי אָדָם. This construction is to be explained on the principle laid down by Ewald, § 287 g, that the subordinate word in the construct may sometimes denote the individual or individuals of the class denoted by the principal word. For an example of the same construction in addition to the one given in the exposition, see Micah 5:4, נְסִיּכֵי אָדָםט, those of men that are anointed.—M.]

[3][Hosea 13:3.—יְסֹער. See Green, § 92 b—M.]

[4][Hosea 13:7.—יָאֶהי. ו is inferential, Green, § 287, 1.—M.]

[5][Hosea 13:8.—דֹּב here means the female bear, and yet, being of the common gender, it may be joined with a part, masculine. Comp. Psalms 144:14 for a parallel case—M.]

[6][Hosea 13:9.—שִׁחֶתְךָ. We have here the third sing. Piel. There is no ground for assuming a substantive: destruction, as Henderson does.—M.]

Hosea 13:10; Hosea 13:10.—אֱהִי. A particle of interrogation. It is dialectical, and occurs only here and in Hosea 13:14. It is = אַיֵּה: where, and is strengthened by אֵפוֹא = tandem, ποτέ when then?

[8][Hosea 13:10.—Supply אֱהִי before שֹׁפְטֶיךָ.

[9][Hosea 13:13.—עֵת must be taken here adverbially: at the (right) time.—M.]

[10][Hosea 13:15.—יַפְרִיא A ἅπ. λεγ. The form פָרָא is supposed, with probable correctness, to have been chosen instead of the usual פָּרָה, in order to conform to אֶפְרָאִים, of which it is the root.—M.]

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Hosea 13". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/hosea-13.html. 1857-84.
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