Hosea 11


‘When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. But the more they were called, the more they went away from me. They sacrificed to the Baals and they burned incense to images. It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. To them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them.’ Hosea 11:1-4

God’s Love For Israel

In this chapter, Hosea recalls the love that God has for His people despite their sins. We see the ultimate victory of love over sin.

God’s past love for Israel is remembered, Israel was God’s son, Deuteronomy 32:6 / Deuteronomy 32:18 / Isaiah 63:16 / Isaiah 64:8 / Jeremiah 3:19 / Malachi 1:6 Malachi 2:10.

Here the relationship is shown as parent and child, the child turning further away from the parent who loves him. God first called Israel as His son out of Egyptian captivity, Exodus 4:22-23 / Matthew 2:14-15, however, Israel turned to worthless idols and the nations around them.

It appears the more God taught His people, the further away from Him they went. They didn’t know it was God who healed them.

Butler, in his commentary, says the following.

‘I eased all their burdens as a farmer pushes back the yoke upon his oxen, so they may eat their food in comfort, I even fed them manna from heaven, food for which they did not work.’

God led them with cords of kindness and ties of love. He carried them and blessed them with food along the road, so that they may live and grow.

‘Will they not return to Egypt and will not Assyria rule over them because they refuse to repent? A sword will flash in their cities; it will devour their false prophets and put an end to their plans. My people are determined to turn from me. Even though they call me God Most High, I will by no means exalt them.’ Hosea 11:5-7

Despite God’s love for His people, they need to be punished for their sinfulness.

Back in Hosea 8:13 and Hosea 9:3, returning to Egypt was used figuratively for returning to bondage. Here, it is to be taken literally. Israel will have to return to slavery, in Assyria and Assyria will be their king.

Smith, is his New English Bible rendition, gives the following interpretation.

‘If they want Egypt, then Egypt they shall have. But it shall not be the old literal Egypt, but rather another bondage in which Assyria shall be their king.’

Because Israel refused to repent, they are going to reap the consequences of their sinfulness. Their cities will be destroyed, their false prophets will be devoured and all their plans will come to an end when the Assyrians take them into captivity.

When the Assyrians finally arrive, God’s people would cry out to Him for help, but He will not listen to them.

‘How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? How can I treat you like Admah? How can I make you like Zeboyim? My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused. I will not carry out my fierce anger, nor will I devastate Ephraim again. For I am God, and not a man—the Holy One among you. I will not come against their cities. They will follow the LORD; he will roar like a lion. When he roars, his children will come trembling from the west. They will come from Egypt, trembling like sparrows, from Assyria, fluttering like doves. I will settle them in their homes,” declares the LORD. Ephraim has surrounded me with lies, Israel with deceit. And Judah is unruly against God, even against the faithful Holy One. Ephraim has surrounded me with lies, Israel with deceit. And Judah is unruly against God, even against the faithful Holy One.’ Hosea 11:8-13

Here we read that God’s love is reaffirmed, even though Israel will have to be punished., God won’t give up on them. Admah and Zeboyim were two of the four cities of the plain that was destroyed by God during the time of Abraham, Genesis 14:8 / Genesis 19:24-25, the other two cities were Sodom and Gomorrah, Deuteronomy 29:23.

God loved His people as any child yearns for their child, regardless of their rebellion. God isn’t going to give up on His people, despite their sinfulness, Romans 3:21-26.

Butler, in his commentary, says the following, concerning verse 10.

‘This verse is positively Messianic and noted that the roaring lion as a figure of the Lord is like those of Joel 3:16-17 and Amos 1:2, which is, of course, ‘A sending forth of the gospel from Jerusalem to all those who will hear and become sons of the covenant in the Messianic age’.’

We also read of the restoration of Israel, a remnant will return to their homes.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Nothing is said here of their returning to Palestine.’ The dwelling in ‘their houses’ is used as a metaphor for the blessings in the kingdom of Christ. This mercy of God which the prophet foresees is fulfilled in Christ. The physical facts of the situation force this interpretation, because Assyria no longer exists and we cannot take the ‘return from Assyria’ as figurative, and the entering into their houses as literal.’

Note that the NIV uses the words, ‘Judah is unruly, even against the faithful Holy One’. The KJV uses the words, ‘Judah yet ruleth with God, and is faithful with the saints.’ The two different versions appear to conflict with each other, however, the KJV appears to be more accurate.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Ephraim had cast off the rule of God, the kings and priests whom He had appointed, so that his whole kingdom and polity was without God and against Him. In contrast with this, Judah, amid all His sins, was outwardly faithful.’

Because of their faithfulness, God would allow Judah to continue, however, Judah eventually went into Babylonian captivity in 586 B.C. because of their idolatry.

Go To Hosea 12