Hosea 5


‘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. The rebels are knee-deep in slaughter. I will discipline all of them. I know all about Ephraim; Israel is not hidden from me. Ephraim, you have now turned to prostitution; Israel is corrupt. “Their deeds do not permit them to return to their God. A spirit of prostitution is in their heart; they do not acknowledge the LORD. Israel’s arrogance testifies against them; the Israelites, even Ephraim, stumble in their sin; Judah also stumbles with them. When they go with their flocks and herds to seek the LORD, they will not find him; he has withdrawn himself from them. They are unfaithful to the LORD; they give birth to illegitimate children. When they celebrate their New Moon feasts, he will devour their fields.’ Hosea 5:1-7

Judgment Against Israel

Here we have God speaking in another court scene, passing judgment on Israel. The priests and kings were meant to be leaders of the people.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘All efforts to classify these evil religious leaders as being, in any sense, priests of God, are frustrated in the fact of their being, 1. illegitimate, not belonging to the tribe of Levi, from which alone it was lawful for God’s priests to be ordained, 2. imported from Sidon by Jezebel, enemies of God by definition, and devoted utterly to the old Bull-god of the Sidonians and Canaanites and 3. constantly engaged in the promulgation of the licentious rites deeply rooted in their inherent paganism.’

Although the religious leaders encouraged the people to follow after false religions, the people were still held accountable for following them, they too, like the leaders should have known better.

They worshipped the Baal gods on the two mountains of Mizpah, Judges 10:17, and Tabor, Judges 4:6. Because they rebelled against God, He was going to discipline them, they were going to be taken into captivity.

God knows Ephraim, He knows what is going on, He can see this harlotry, their idolatrous behaviour, he knows their hearts and their arrogance and so, He will judge them.

Israel and Judah will stumble and although Judah was warned not to follow the wickedness practices of those in the Northern Kingdom, Hosea says that they too would fall and go into captivity.

Despite going with their sacrifices, that is, their flock and herds, to the altar in order to perform the required rites of the law, their hearts were still far from the Lord.

God has now withdrawn from Israel and the verdict is, that they are guilty. God handed them over to the destruction of the Assyrians and Babylonians. As a result of their apostasy and idolatry, their children followed in their parent’s footsteps and they knew nothing of God and His ways, Hosea 4:6.

Smith, in his commentary, says the following.

‘According to Hosea, return for Israel is now no longer a human possibility. He also elaborated the basic reasons why this was true.

1. Sin robs a man of his faculty for God and of the strength of will to obey God.

2. The whole fabric of the nation’s social, economic, political, and religious life was interwoven with the lustful indulgences of paganism.

3. There was no longer any true knowledge of God among the people. Without that knowledge, it was impossible to achieve either any communion with God or any kind of human conduct consistent with the terms of their ancient covenant with Jehovah.

The New Moon feasts were a time when sacrifices were to be offered, 1 Samuel 20:6 / 1 Samuel 20:29 / Isaiah 1:13-14. Some commentators suggest this is a reference to the imminent invasion of Tiglath-Pileser which took place at this time in their history, 2 Kings 15:29.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Biblical scholars are uncertain as to whether this means in the time of the new moon, meaning in a very short period of time their judgment will fall, or if it means the licentious worship associated with their feasts of the new moon would be the cancer that would devour them.’

‘Sound the trumpet in Gibeah, the horn in Ramah. Raise the battle cry in Beth Aven; lead on, Benjamin. Ephraim will be laid waste on the day of reckoning. Among the tribes of Israel I proclaim what is certain. Judah’s leaders are like those who move boundary stones. I will pour out my wrath on them like a flood of water. Ephraim is oppressed, trampled in judgment, intent on pursuing idols. I am like a moth to Ephraim, like rot to the people of Judah. “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. 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. 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 5:8-15

Here we read of the preparation of the people for the announcement of punishment. The trumpets were blown to alert the people of an invasion.

McKeating, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Israel and Syria, who were old enemies decided to make common cause against Assyria. They tried to force Judah to join; and, when Judah under king Ahaz resisted, they attacked Judah and besieged Jerusalem. Judah in desperation appealed to the Assyrians, who were only too ready to intervene. In the end, Syria, Israel, and Judah were all losers, 2 Kings 16:5-9 / Isaiah 7.’

As Gibeah and Ramah are located in the land of the Northern Kingdom, this tells us that the invasion was coming upon them first. Because Benjamin were to ‘lead on’, this implies that the Northern Kingdom had already been invaded, and Judah was at this time threatened.

Ephraim will be laid waste because they turned from God and His ways, Deuteronomy 31:16-30. Judah had become thieves, stealing other people’s lands, in terms of moving the boundaries stones, Deuteronomy 19:14 / Deuteronomy 27:17 / 2 Kings 16:10-18 / 2 Chronicles 28:3, they had followed the commanded of men rather than the commandments of God, Isaiah 28:10 / Isaiah 28:13 / Mark 7:1-9.

A three-fold judgment is mentioned.

1. Moth and rottenness. This is a picture of slow destruction, Isaiah 51:8.

When Ephraim saw his sickness and Judah his sores, there was absolutely nothing they could do, there was no cure. In a state of desperation for help, Ephraim went to Assyria to try and make an alliance with them, the very same nation that would eventually take them into captivity.

Notice they would turn to the ‘great king’, or ‘King Jareb’ as the KJV has it. The word ‘Jareb’ means ‘warrior’ or ‘great king’ but this isn’t speaking of a specific king of Assyria, this is used as a title that was commonly used to refer to all kings of Assyria as great kings, 2 Kings 5:15.

2. God as a Lion. This is a picture of strong, devouring destruction.

God was going to use the nation of Assyria to discipline both Israel and Judah.

3. God withdraws. This is a picture of God withdrawing from His people.

When the Assyrians came, there was no one to help them, God wasn’t going to save them.

God wasn’t going to do anything and He was going to leave them in captivity until Israel fully repented.

Go To Hosea 6