Hosea 10


‘Israel was a spreading vine; he brought forth fruit for himself. As his fruit increased, he built more altars; as his land prospered, he adorned his sacred stones. Their heart is deceitful, and now they must bear their guilt. The LORD will demolish their altars and destroy their sacred stones.’ Hosea 10:1-2

Here again, we read that the figure of Israel is described as a luxuriant vine yielding fruit, John 15:1, but the fruit becomes evil.

They were supposed to bring fruit which honoured God, however, they brought fruit which honoured their idols. As their fruit increased, they built more altars, instead of destroying them as God commanded, Exodus 23:24 / 1 Kings 14:23.

They must pay for their guilt because of their divided loyalty between God and their idols and so, God was going to demolish their idol altars and destroyed their sacred stones, 2 Kings 17:9.

‘Then they will say, “We have no king because we did not revere the LORD. But even if we had a king, what could he do for us?” They make many promises, take false oaths and make agreements; therefore lawsuits spring up like poisonous weeds in a ploughed field. The people who live in Samaria fear for the calf-idol of Beth Aven. Its people will mourn over it, and so will its idolatrous priests, those who had rejoiced over its splendour, because it is taken from them into exile. It will be carried to Assyria as tribute for the great king. Ephraim will be disgraced; Israel will be ashamed of its foreign alliances. Samaria’s king will be destroyed, swept away like a twig on the surface of the waters. The high places of wickedness will be destroyed—it is the sin of Israel. Thorns and thistles will grow up and cover their altars. Then they will say to the mountains, “Cover us!” and to the hills, “Fall on us!” Hosea 10:3-8

Here we read of the people lamenting over the destruction of their idolatry. They would have no physical king whilst in exile because they didn’t honour or fear God. The point is, if they had honoured and feared God, they wouldn’t need a physical king in the first place, as God was their King.

The kings on earth would keep their covenants only if it benefitted them and they made false promises, only to keep themselves right with the people. They have become like poisonous weeds, Deuteronomy 29:18, in a ploughed field.

The calf-idol of Beth Aven will be taken to Assyria as a spoil of war and the idolatrous priests would mourn over their destruction. The golden calf idol will also be carried into captivity as spoil.

Butler, in his commentary, says the following.

‘But this idol, this calf-god thing, will be carried off helplessly into captivity with Israel, as a present to the great warrior king of Assyria. Israel and her calf-god will be disgraced and then the advice and programs which Israel thought were so politically and religiously wise will appear foolish to Israel at that time.’

The ‘great king’ or ‘King Jareb’ as the KJV has it, is a reference not to a specific king but a general reference to the kings of Assyria. Samaria’s king will perish like a twig on the surface of water, Hosea 8:7-8. The people would be shamed because they believed the false prophets who were proclaiming peace when there wasn’t any peace.

The high places of Aven will be destroyed, these were the places where they practised their idolatry and debauchery. God destroyed their idols through the conquest of the Assyrians, and later the Southern Kingdom by the Babylonians. Because God destroyed everything they trusted in, they would rather die instead of go into captivity.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘These very words were used by Jesus in Luke 23:30, and by the prophet in Revelation 6:16, as a statement of the terror that shall accompany the final judgment.’

‘Since the days of Gibeah, you have sinned, Israel, and there you have remained. Will not war again overtake the evildoers in Gibeah? When I please, I will punish them; nations will be gathered against them to put them in bonds for their double sin. Ephraim is a trained heifer that loves to thresh; so I will put a yoke on her fair neck. I will drive Ephraim, Judah must plow, and Jacob must break up the ground.’ Hosea 10:9-11

Israel has sinned since the days of Gibeah, Hosea 9:9, Gibeah was the scene of brutalities given in Judges 19-20. They had many victories over their enemies but they couldn’t conquer their own sinfulness and as a result, God was going to punish them.

Threshing the grain was easy to work with a heifer because the heifer ate the grain as it went along, Deuteronomy 25:4. Now, Israel is going to be taken from the easy work to plough in the field of captivity. Assyria would become their yoke.

‘Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unploughed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, until he comes and showers his righteousness on you. But you have planted wickedness, you have reaped evil, you have eaten the fruit of deception. Because you have depended on your own strength and on your many warriors, the roar of battle will rise against your people, so that all your fortresses will be devastated—as Shalman devastated Beth Arbel on the day of battle, when mothers were dashed to the ground with their children. So will it happen to you, Bethel, because your wickedness is great. When that day dawns, the king of Israel will be completely destroyed.’ Hosea 10:12-15

Israel are now encouraged to seek the Lord, 2 Peter 3:9, they are encouraged to sow righteousness and reap the fruit of love. In contrast to reaping the fruit to love, Israel had planted wickedness and so, they will reap evil.

Without God, their own strength and their best soldiers couldn’t stand against the warrior soldiers of the Assyrian Empire. They are warned of war, where mothers and children will be killed.

Shalman and Beth Arbel are both unknown places, however, some scholars believe Shalman is short for Shalmaneser, 2 Kings 17:6, but this doesn’t seem to fit in with any of the Shalmanesers. Others say he was the Moabite king, Salamanu.

Because of their great wickedness, at the dawn of day, they will lose their king. God brought an end to their early kings when the Northern and Southern kingdoms were taken into captivity.

Go To Hosea 11