Return to God

About this book

Hosea wrote his book in the middle of the 8th century B.C. (Before Christ). He usually gave his messages to Israel’s people. Israel was the name of the country in the north. But some messages were for Judah’s people, the country in the south. The book has many good things and many bad things to say to the people in Israel. If we want to understand this book, we need to understand the covenant at Sinai. Sinai was the place where God gave his rules to Moses. The good things and bad things in Hosea are part of this covenant. Hosea’s job was to tell his people that there was danger. God would make sure that people in Israel obeyed the covenant. Israel’s people will have to live in the right way. It is the same message that many of the prophets gave before the exile. Hosea says that there will be death and illness in Israel. He also says that soldiers from another country will destroy their country. They will take the people in Israel away. These things will have to happen. After that, God will be able to do good things for Israel again. We must understand what these promises mean. There is no hope that God will not be angry. Israel’s people have not obeyed the covenant and so bad things will happen soon.

There were only a few people in Israel who worshipped God in the right way at this time. There were more people in Judah who obeyed God’s rules. Israel was a strong and rich country and they could often beat other countries in war. Because of this, people from Israel met people from other countries. So they knew about other people’s gods. People forgot the rules that God gave to them at Sinai. It was a time when things were not easy in Israel. Very bad leaders killed their kings. Also, Assyria and Israel were fighting each other in 734 B.C. After that, Israel became a much smaller country. This was the beginning of the end for Israel. Then, in 722 B.C., Assyria destroyed Israel.

None of Hosea’s messages have dates. We know that Hosea wrote his messages. We do not know if Hosea spoke his messages also. Hosea 5:1 may mean that he did.

We know very little about Hosea and his family. Hosea tells us only a few things about himself. We do not know for sure if Gomer really was a prostitute. There are other difficult questions with these chapters.

To know God as a person is important to Hosea. He wanted the people’s sacrifices to really mean something to God. He wanted people to obey God. If they did that, they could know God in a true way.

Chapter 1

1 This is the message that the Lord gave to Hosea, the son of Beeri. He gave this message during the time that Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah were kings of Judah. This was during the time when Jeroboam, son of Joash, was the king of Israel.

Hosea’s wife and their children

2 The Lord began to speak to Israel’s people by Hosea. The Lord said to Hosea, ‘Go, and marry a prostitute. I want you to have children by her. The children will be like her. In the same way, my people have left me and they have loved other gods.’ 3 So Hosea married a woman called Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim. After this, a child began to grow in her and she gave birth to their first child, a son. 4 The Lord said to Hosea, ‘Call him Jezreel. This is because I will soon punish the family of Jehu. I will hurt them because of the murders by Jehu at Jezreel. Then I will cause the end of the country called Israel. 5 And, in the Valley of Jezreel, I will at that time completely destroy the armies of Israel.’

6 Gomer had a second child. This time it was a daughter. The Lord said to Hosea, ‘Call her Lo-Ruhamah. This is because I will not continue to show great love to the people in Israel. I will not forget their sins. 7 But I will show love to the people in Judah. I, the Lord, will save them. I will not do it by war. I will not use weapons. I will not use horses or people who ride horses.’

8 After Gomer gave her own milk to Lo-Ruhamah, another child began to grow in Gomer. A son was born to her. 9 Then the Lord said to Hosea, ‘Call him Lo-Ammi. This is because the people in Israel are not my people. And I am not their God.’

Verses 2-5 God does not ask Hosea to marry a prostitute in the usual way that the word means. Perhaps the word means that his wife was like a prostitute. In 4:12 and 5:4, Hosea uses the word prostitute in another way. Israel is like a prostitute. Gomer’s children are also like prostitutes. They, too, are part of a bad group of people. Hosea does not mean that the children were born before Gomer’s marriage to Hosea. He does not suggest that the children were not his own. The names Lo-Ruhamah and Lo-Ammi mean No Great Love and Not My People.

10 At a future time, the number of Israel’s people will be like the sand by the sea. You cannot measure the sand or count it. Now God says to them, ‘You are not my people.’ But there will be a future day when he will say to them, ‘You are the children of the living God!’ 11 The people from Judah and the people from Israel will come together again. They will choose for themselves a single leader. And they will go out of a foreign country. The day of Jezreel will be an important day.

Chapter 2

1 Then you will tell your brothers, ‘You are my people.’ And you will tell your sisters, ‘He has shown great love to you.’

The Lord speaks to the people in Israel

2 My children, argue with your mother. Tell her that she is wrong. Tell that to her because she is not my wife. And I am not her husband. Tell her that she must stop living like a prostitute. She must take away the men that she loved from between her breasts. 3 If she does not do that, I will take away all her clothes. It will be like the day when she was born. I will leave her to die. She will die because she will have no water. I will let her stay in a dry desert. 4-5 I will not show great love to her children. They are the children of a prostitute. This prostitute does not think about what she does. She herself said, ‘I will go to the men that I love. They give me food and water, clothes and cloth, oil from trees and wine.’

6 So I (the Lord) will put something in the way of your (Israel’s people’s) road. I will use plants that hurt. I will build a wall so that she cannot find her way. 7 She will run after the men that she loves. But she will not catch them. She will look for them, but she will not catch them. Then she will say, ‘I will return to my first husband (God). Life was better for me when I was with him. Life was better then than it is now.’

Verse 2 In this chapter, Hosea is saying things in a special way. He is saying, ‘God is like a judge who will decide things about Israel’s people.’ He will decide them in a ‘court’. When he says ‘your mother’, he means all the people in Israel.

Verses 3-5 Israel is like a girl. When this girl was born, she needed God. But when she grew up, she went to other men for help. The men that she loved were the Baals (idols).

8 ‘She (Israel) did not believe that I (the Lord) had given grain, wine and oil from trees to her. She thought that another God had given them to her. It was I who gave her plenty of silver and gold. She used this silver and gold when she wanted to worship Baal. 9 So I will take back my grain at the time when it is ready. I will take back my new wine when it is ready. I will take back my clothes and cloth. They were what should have covered the body. 10 Now I will take away her clothes. So all the men who loved her will see her. They will see her as she is. Nobody will be able to take her from my power. 11 I (God) will stop the special times when she enjoys herself. I will stop her religious holidays and the meals that she has at a new moon. 12 I will destroy her grapes and her fruit trees. She said that men loved her. These men paid her with those things. But I will change her gardens. They will become like a wild forest. Wild animals will come and they will eat from those plants. 13 I will punish her for the times that she burnt special plants to the god, Baal. I will punish her because she wore special stones. Then she could run after the men who loved her. But she forgot me.’ The Lord has said this.

Verse 11 Israel had holy holidays. These were special days when the people worshipped God. But God was angry because Israel’s holy holidays became days for the god, Baal. The god, Baal was an idol. God wanted people to rest on a special day. But this, too, became a holiday for special meals.

The Lord’s love for his people

14 So I (the Lord) will say words of love to her. I will lead her into the desert and I will speak kind words to her. 15 There, I will give back to her the grapes that she had. I will give her Trouble Valley. This will be a way for her to hope in me. Then she will answer me like the time that she came out of Egypt. 16 Then, at a future time, she will call me her husband. She will not call me her god, Baal again. 17 I will never let her speak the name of the god, Baal again. Then people will not use Baal’s names again. 18 At that time, I will promise to do things for Israel’s people. I will cause the animals in the fields and the birds in the sky to be their friends. I will cause the animals that move along the ground to be their friends too. I also will break the things that Israel’s people used in war. I will remove the things that men use to fight in wars. None of these things will remain in the land. My people will live in a time when people do not attack them. They will be safe.

19      I (the Lord) will make you my wife for always.

            I will be good and fair. I will always love you and I will always show mercy to you.

            I will make you mine for always.

20      I will make you a wife that follows me.

            Then you will know the Lord in a true way.

21      At that time, I will answer the sky.

            I will speak to the sky and then rain will fall on the earth.

22      The ground will give back grain, wine and oil from trees.

            They will have an answer for Jezreel.

23      I will plant many seeds on Israel’s land.

            To Lo-Ruhamah, I will show great love.

            To Lo-Ammi, I will say, ‘You are my people.’

            And they will say to me,

            ‘You are my God.’

Verse 14 The desert was the place where God first became like Israel’s husband. See verses 16, 19, 20.

Verse 15 Trouble Valley (the Valley of Achor) was a place where a man from Israel did not obey God (Joshua 7:24).

Verse 19 Again, Hosea says what the judge will do. But this time it is a message about love.

Verse 23 The names Lo-Ruhamah and Lo-Ammi mean No Great Love and Not My People. See 1:6-9.

Chapter 3

Hosea returns to his wife

1 Then the Lord said to me again, ‘Show love to a woman again. Another man loves her but you must love her. She goes after other men but you must continue to love her. You must love her in the same way that the Lord loves Israel’s people. But they continue to worship other gods. And they like to offer fruit to these gods.’ 2 So I bought the woman with 15 pieces of silver and 1.5 homers (about 330 litres or 9 bushels) of grain. 3 Then I told her, ‘You must stay at home with me for a long time. You must not be like a prostitute. You must not be too friendly with another man. So then I will live with you.’ 4 In the same way, Israel’s people will continue to live for a long time without a king or a leader. They will not have sacrifices, or stones to help them to remember God. They will not have any ephods and they will not have any gods in their homes. 5 At a future time, Israel’s people will return. Then they will look for the Lord their God and they will look for David, their king. They will come to the Lord and they will receive his gifts.

Verse 1 The word ‘love’ can mean different things in the Hebrew language. It includes a kind of love about sex. It includes a love from God. It also means a love when a man loves his wife.

Verse 4 Hosea starts to speak to Israel’s people. Israel will have no king. Another country will rule Israel. This other country will be Assyria (Hosea 11:5). The ‘stones’ were places where Israel’s people gave sacrifices. They gave these sacrifices to another god. Ephods were special clothes that the leader of the priests wore.

Chapter 4

The Lord is angry with the people in Israel

1 People in Israel, listen to the Lord’s message! The Lord will argue against the people that live in this country. ‘People in this country do not really know God. The people are never kind to other people. And they do not do what they have promised to do. 2 They hope that bad things will happen to people. They tell people things that are not true. They kill people and they rob people. They do the sin of adultery. They kill more and more people. 3 So the people cry. And everything that lives is slowly dying. All the animals and birds, and even the fish, are dying. 4 Nobody among you should argue. And nobody among you should say that another person is wrong. You people are like people who argue with a priest. 5 You fall over during the day and during the night. And the prophets fall with you. And I will destroy your mother (Israel). 6 You are destroying my people because they do not know me. You have refused to learn. So I will refuse to let you be a priest for me. You have forgotten your God’s rules, so I will forget your children.’

Verse 1 God is taking his people to a kind of court. The people will have to give an answer for their sins. The first of these sins is that the people do not love God. They do not know God.

Verse 4 God does not have one priest that he is thinking about. He is thinking about all the priests and prophets in Israel.

7 ‘The more priests that there are of you, the more you sin against me. So I will change the way that you are great into something else. You will not like what will happen to you. 8 The priests eat when the people sin. So the priests are happy when the people sin. 9 The priests are not different from the people. I will tell them both what they should do. They will have to change the things that they do. I will punish them for the wrong things that they did. 10 You people will eat your part of the sacrifices, but you will still be hungry. You will live like prostitutes, but you will not have babies. This is because you have turned away from me to follow other gods.’

Verse 7 The priests became rich when Jeroboam 2nd was king. They gave help to the rich people and leaders. They did not tell them that they were wrong.

11 ‘My people cannot understand anything because they drink too much old wine and new wine. And they have wrong sex. 12 My people are asking a piece of wood for help. They want those sticks to tell them what they want to know! They think that those sticks can do that. That is because they have followed those false gods like prostitutes. So my people have stopped worshipping their God. 13 They give sacrifices on the tops of the mountains. They burn incense on the hills. They do this under many different kinds of trees. The shade under those trees is very nice. So your daughters become like prostitutes. Also your son’s wives do the sin of adultery. 14 Your daughters are prostitutes. Your son’s wives do the sin of adultery. But I will not punish them. I will not do it because the men, too, go to be with prostitutes. And they offer sacrifices with prostitutes. So these silly people will cause their own death.’

Verse 12 The ‘wood’ might mean an idol. Perhaps it means a way to find out what God wants about something. The sticks of wood would fall in a certain way (Ezekiel 21:21).

The sins that will cause God to punish the people in Israel

15 ‘Israel’s people, you live like a prostitute. But do not let Judah’s people also do wrong things. Do not worship at Gilgal or at Beth Aven. Do not say promises there in the name of the Lord. Do not say, “As the Lord lives”. 16 Israel’s people are like a young cow. This young cow does not let you lead it. It is not possible to feed my people. A farmer takes young sheep to a field where there is much grass. I want to be kind to my people as the farmer is kind to those young sheep. 17 The people in Israel have become friends with idols. Let them go their own way. 18 After they have drunk wine, they are happy to be with prostitutes. They do not think about what people will say about them. 19 A wind will take them away. Now they cannot think any longer. Their sacrifices will cause people to think bad things about them.’

Verse 15 Hosea’s message is sometimes the same as Amos’s message (Amos 5:5). Neither of them want Israel’s people to worship at Gilgal or at Beth Aven. Gilgal was an important place for Israel’s people. They stopped there after they crossed the river Jordan (Joshua 4:19). Beth Aven means ‘House of Very Bad Things’. It is Hosea’s name for Bethel, which means ‘House of God’.

Verse 19 God does not want to wait. It is time for God to judge them.

Chapter 5

1 ‘Listen to this, you priests! Be careful how you listen, people in Israel! Listen, you that belong to the family of kings! I (God) have decided what to do with you. You have tried to catch people at Mizpah. You were like a net on the ground at Tabor. 2 The people who will not obey me have killed very many people. So I will tell them all that they should not have done it. And I will punish them. 3 I know what the people from Ephraim are like. They cannot hide from me. They live like a prostitute and they have become very bad. 4 Israel’s people have done bad things. This makes it impossible for them to return to their God. They are like prostitutes. They do not know the Lord. 5 Israel’s people think that they are too good. This is something that has made me angry with them. Their sins cause them to fall. But Judah’s people will fall with them. 6 They take their sheep and cows to offer as sacrifices to the Lord. But it does not help them. They cannot find the Lord because he has left them. 7 They have not obeyed the Lord. Their children are not his. They have times when they enjoy themselves at the beginning of every month. But at the beginning of the month I will destroy their fields and they themselves will die.’

Verse 1 There were two places called Mizpah in Israel. One place was in Gilead, east of the river Jordan. The other place was Mizpah in Benjamin’s country. The word ‘catch’ means that the leaders tried to take people away from God. Tabor is a mountain. Perhaps bad things happened there.

Verse 6 Israel’s people thought that many sacrifices were important. The people will try to find God, but God has left them.

Judah and Israel will fight each other in a war

8        ‘Make a noise with the horn in Gibeah!

            Make a noise with the trumpet in Ramah!

            Shout about war at Beth Aven!

            Go into war, men in Benjamin’s family!

9        The day will happen. Then I will tell them that they are wrong.

            None of Ephraim’s people will still be alive.

            People in Israel, you can be sure that this will happen.

10 The leaders of Judah are like people who rob. They have robbed land. So I (God) will punish them very much because I am so angry with them.

11 Israel’s people are in trouble because people attack them. Other countries have come as judges. This is because Israel’s people wanted help from idols.

12      I (God) will destroy Israel,

            as an insect destroys a piece of cloth.

            I will destroy Judah,

            as water destroys a piece of wood.

13      Ephraim’s people saw that they were like a sick man.

            Judah’s people saw that they were like a man with wounds.

            So they went to Assyria for help.

            They told their problems to King Jareb,

            but that king cannot bring you health.

            He cannot stop you hurting.

14      I will attack Ephraim’s people like a lion.

            I will attack Judah’s people like a young lion.

            I, the Lord, will break them into pieces.

            I will carry them away.

            And no person will be able to save them.

15      At a future time, the people will see that they have done something wrong.

            I will return to my place until then.

            Then they will come to look for me.

            They will try to find me when their troubles are very bad.’

Verse 8 A new part of Hosea’s book begins here. Very many of these verses are about war. Hosea tells Israel’s people that they should prepare for war.

Gibeah, Ramah and Beth Aven were all near Jerusalem. The war will come from the south of Israel. The people from Benjamin’s family lived near the south of Israel.

Verse 10 Hosea has bad things to say about Judah’s leaders. He says that they have moved special things. These things showed people where one person’s land and another person’s land met. To move those things was against God’s rules (Deuteronomy 19:14).

Verse 13 Perhaps King Jareb was Tiglath-pileser 3rd. We cannot be sure. Judah’s people asked Assyria for help after Syria and Israel attacked them in 734 B.C.

Chapter 6

The people do not obey God

1        ‘Come. We should return to the Lord.

            He attacked us, but he will bring us health.

            He has caused us pain.

            But he will help us.

            People cover, with pieces of cloth, the parts that hurt other people.

            And he will be like someone who does that for us.

2        After two days, he will cause us to live again.

            He will raise us up on the third day.

            Then we can live near him.

3        We should try to know the Lord. We can be sure that he will come.

            It will be like the sun when it rises at the beginning of the day.

            He will come to us like the rain.

            It will be like spring rain. It will bring water to the ground.’

4        ‘Israel’s people, I do not know what I should do with you.

            Judah’s people, I do not know what I should do with you.

            You soon stop loving me. You are like the morning cloud.

            Your love is like the low cloud that goes away early in the morning.

5        That is why I have sent my prophets to you.

            I wanted to cut you in pieces.

            I wanted to kill you with words.

            I will judge you. Then things will become clear.

6        I will judge you because I want you to love in the right way.

            I do not want your sacrifices of animals.

            I want my people to know me.

            I do not want them to bring sacrifices.

7        But like Adam, the people did not obey the covenant.

            They did not do in their country what they had promised to me.

8        Gilead is a city of men who do very bad things.

            People have killed each other.

9        There are people who rob. They hide and they wait to attack someone.

            In the same way, priests wait on the road to Shechem.

            They attack people who pass by.

            They have done very bad things.

10      Yes, I have seen many bad things in Israel.

            Ephraim’s people are like a prostitute.

            This prostitute is very bad.

11      People in Judah, I have made a special time for you.

            I will bring in the crops. At that time, I will tell you what you should do.

            But I wanted very much to cause the good times again for my people!’ God says.

Verse 1 Israel’s people can hope in God. He will not forget them. God had to tell Israel’s people that they were wrong. But he now chooses to say different words.

Verse 2 The two or three days mean a time that God has decided about. He has chosen a time. It will be like a dead person who lives again.

Verse 5 The ‘words’ are the covenants. In Deuteronomy 33:9, the ‘word’ and the ‘covenant’ mean the same thing.

Verse 7 We do not know for sure what the name ‘Adam’ means. It might mean a city. It might mean that Israel’s people have thought about the covenant like dirt.

Verse 9 Shechem was an important city. We do not know the event that Hosea was thinking about.

Chapter 7

1        ‘When I wanted to give health to my people, they did very many wrong things!

            Samaria is full of people who do not say true things.

            It is full of people who rob from houses.

            They also rob people in the streets.

2        They do not know that I (God) will remember their sins.

            The sins that they did are everywhere to see.

            I can see these sins in a clear way.

3        The very bad things that they do make their king happy.

            The very bad things that they do make their leaders happy too.

4        They are all bad and they do not obey me.

            A baker takes flour to make bread.

            He starts to cook the bread.

            The bread rises. But the baker does not make the fire hotter.

            Israel’s people are like a baker who is always making his fire hotter.

5        On holidays for the king, the leaders drink too much wine.

            The wine causes them to do things in a silly way.

            The king has become a friend of bad people. Those people think that good things are silly.

6        The people decide to do secret things.

            They are very angry. So they feel that their hearts are like an oven.

            It is like the time when they were cooking bread.

            During the night, they became angrier.

            And in the morning, there was a fire.

7        They were so angry that they killed their leaders.

            They killed their kings.

            All of their kings fell.

            Nobody prays to me for help.’

Verse 2 God sees everything. He remembers things for thousands of years (Psalm 105:8). When he looks at Israel’s people, he sees their sins. He does not only see people.

Verse 4 Hosea uses an example of a baker to say several things. Bakers were men who made bread in large ovens (places that people cook food in). The ovens were round. They had a large door on the top of them. The baker made a fire inside it. Then he shut the door. The bread then cooked for a long time. The leaders in Israel were like this bread. They became leaders because they were so angry.

Verse 6 The leaders never stop thinking about very bad things. In the night, the oven became cool. But in the morning, someone made sure that the oven became hot again. The leaders of Israel are like the oven. It is only at night that they stop thinking about very bad things.

Israel’s people do not know that other people will kill them

8        ‘Israel’s people mix themselves with people from other countries.

            Israel is like a cake that someone did not cook on both sides.

9        People in Israel mix themselves with foreign people.

            Israel’s people do not know that this makes my people weaker.

            Israel is like an old man with grey hair.

            He does not know how old and weak he is now.

10      Israel’s people think that they are very important.

            This is something that makes me angry with them.

            The people had many troubles.

            But even then they did not return to the Lord their God.

            The people did not look to him for help.

11      Ephraim is like a silly dove (a bird),

            a dove that does not understand anything.

            The people looked to Egypt for help.

            The people went to Assyria for help.

12      When they do that, I will throw my net over them.

            I will catch them like birds as they go by.

            I will tell them about the bad things that they have done.

            And I will punish them.

13      It will be very bad for them.

            They have left me. They refused to obey me.

            So they will die.

            I wanted to redeem them.

            But they do not say true things about me.

14      They do not pray to me from deep inside themselves.

            But they cry on their beds.

            When they pray for grain and wine, they cut themselves.

            They have left me.

15      I taught them and I made them strong.

            But they have decided to do very bad things against me.

16      They have returned to false gods.

            They are like a weapon that does not work.

            Their leaders think that they are very important.

            They will die quickly.

            Then the people in Egypt will think that they are silly.’

Verse 8 Hosea continues to use the example of an oven. At this time, Assyria became more powerful. So, Israel’s people needed other countries to help them. They went to Egypt, Syria-Damascus and Philistia. They did not want to hope in God.

Verse 11 God says that Israel’s people are like doves. Doves are silly birds. It was easy for other countries to fight against Israel.

Verse 14 Perhaps the ‘beds’ were part of a meal. The meal was part of a sacrifice when the Israelites rested near the altar. (See Isaiah 57:7; Amos 2:8.) And then they cried and they cut themselves.

Chapter 8

God does not like Israel’s people because they pray to idols

1        ‘People must know about what will happen! Make sure that they do know.

            The enemy will come down like an eagle.

            They will come on to the Lord’s people

            because the Lord’s people have not obeyed my covenant.

            They have not obeyed the things that I taught them.

2        Israel’s people shout out to me. They say, “We in Israel know you.”

3        But they refused what is good.

            So the enemy will run after them.

4        My people chose kings, but they did not ask me for help.

            My people chose leaders. But they did not choose men that I knew.

            The people used their silver and gold to make idols for themselves.

            I will cause their enemies to kill them because of this.

5        I do not like the gold bull that the people in Samaria worship.

            I am very angry with the people in Israel.

            It will be a long time before they are without sin.

6        A worker from Israel made that idol.

            It is not God.

            I will break Samaria’s bull into pieces.

7        Israel’s people did a silly thing.

            It was like a man who is trying to plant the wind.

            But they will only get troubles.

            They will get back something that is like a very strong wind.

            The plants in the field will grow, but they will not give any food.

            If the plants did grow, then foreign people would eat them.

8        Israel has become like the other countries.

            It is like a pot that someone has broken.

            Nobody can use it.

9        Israel’s rulers have gone to Assyria for help.

            They are like a wild animal that walks without any direction.

            The people in Ephraim have sold themselves to other countries.

            They wanted to love those countries.

10      They will try to get friends among those countries. But I will bring Israel’s people together.

            They will feel some pain.

            This pain will come from a foreign king.

11      Israel’s people built more and more altars.

            They built them so that God would not see their sin.

            But they have used those places to sin even more!

12      I gave all my rules to Israel’s people.

            But they look at those rules as if they were strange.

13      Israel’s people love sacrifices.

            They offer meat in those sacrifices and then they eat it.

            The Lord does not accept these sacrifices.

            He remembers their sins.

            And he will punish them for their sins.

            They will have to return to Egypt.

14      Israel’s people built houses for kings.

            But I made Israel and they forgot me!

            Judah’s people have made their towns strong.

            But I will send fire on the cities in Judah.

            And the fire will destroy those strong towns!’

Verse 1 An eagle is a big, dangerous bird.

Verse 11 God did not like the altars in the North. There were too many of them. The covenant said that there should be only one altar. It was Jeroboam 1st who put in all these altars. He also put idols where some of these altars were (1 Kings 12:26-33). The altars became places where people ate too much. And they drank too much at those places, too. They became places to sin.

Verses 12, 13 ‘I gave all my rules to Israel’s people.’ ‘He remembers their sins.’ God is still speaking about himself in verse 13.

Chapter 9

God will tell the people in Israel what they must do

1        People in Israel, do not be happy at special times as the people in foreign countries do!

            You were like a prostitute and you left your God.

            You are like a prostitute because men pay her to have sex.

            She loves the money that they give to her.

            And you loved all the grain that people gave to you.

            So you have worshipped false gods on the floors where people work with grain.

2        But soon you will not have enough grain or wine.

            There will be no more wine.

3        You will not stay in the Lord’s country.

            You will have to return to Egypt.

            In Assyria, you will have to eat food that you should not eat.

4        Israel’s people will not be able to offer wine to the Lord.

            Their sacrifices will not make God happy.

            People eat special bread when other people die. Their sacrifices will be like that bread.

            Whoever eats that bread will not be holy.

            This food will be only for themselves.

            It will not come into the temple of the Lord.

5        Israel’s people will not be able to enjoy special days.

            Those are the special days when people remember God.

6        Perhaps Assyria will not destroy your country.

            But Egypt will take the people in war.

            People in Memphis will bury them. Weeds will grow over their silver.

            Weeds will grow over the places where they live.

7        The time is now. Now I will tell you what you must do.

            Now is the time when I will have to hurt you.

            I will have to hurt you because of what you have done.

            And Israel’s people will know it!

            You do very many sins. You are very angry with me.

            So you think that I am a silly person.

            You think that I have God’s Spirit. But I am crazy, you think.

8        God has sent me as a prophet to make sure that Israel’s people know things.

            But people try to say bad things about me in the places where I go.

            And people do not like a prophet in the house of God.

9        They have done some very bad sins.

            They were like the sins that Israel’s people did at Gibeah.

            The Lord will remember their very bad sins.

            He will punish them for their sins.

Verse 1 Israel’s people were happy at these special times. But they were happy for the wrong reasons. They thought that God was the god, Baal. They thought that God should bless the grain. They wanted God to do things in the same way as the god, Baal. Also, prostitutes visited the floors where people worked with the grain. Men stayed there at night so that nobody would rob anything.

Verse 5 Maybe the ‘special days’ were in the autumn. This was when people brought in the plants from the fields.

Verse 9 Gibeah is where very bad things happened. See Judges chapters 19 and 20.

The people in Israel will cause God to punish them by their worship of idols

10      ‘I found Israel.

            It was like when someone finds grapes in the desert.

            I saw your ancestors.

            It was like when someone finds fruit on a fig tree before the usual time.

            But then they came to the god, Baal-Peor.

            They began to worship that very bad idol.

            They became like the idol that they loved very much.

11      Israel is great. But this special time will finish.

            It will be like a bird.

            There will be no more times when babies grow inside women.

            There will be no more times when women give birth to babies.

            There will be no more children.

12      But even if Israel’s people have children,

            the children will die.

            I will cause that to happen.

            There will be none still alive.

            I will leave them. They will have nothing but trouble.

13      Lord, I can see that Ephraim’s people are going to a difficult place.

            They are going to someone who will kill them.

14      Lord, give to these people the things that you want to give to them.

            Make it impossible for their women to have babies!

            Make it impossible for their breasts to give milk to their babies!

15      They started to do all their very bad things at Gilgal.

            It was there that I began not to like them in any way.

            I will tell them that they must leave my country.

            I will not love them any longer.

            Their leaders have not obeyed me.

16      Ephraim’s people are in bad trouble.

            They are like a plant that has no water.

            This plant will have no fruit.

            They will have no children.

            Even if they have children, I (God) will kill the children.

            They think that these children are very important.

17      My God will refuse to accept them.

            That is because they have not obeyed him.

            They will have to travel from place to place in different countries.’

Verse 10 Israel’s people came to Baal-Peor (Numbers 25:1-5). Bad things happened there. Men from Israel had sex with women from Moab and Midian. A fig is a kind of fruit.

Verse 15 Gilgal was across the Jordan River from the god, Baal-Peor. It was an important place where people worshipped other gods. Amos also said bad things about Gilgal (Amos 4:4; 5:5). God was very angry about Gilgal. He wanted to stop the things that happened there.

Chapter 10

Because the people were rich, that caused them to worship idols

1        ‘Israel is like a vine that has plenty of fruit.

            But Israel became more and more rich,

            and so the people built more altars.

            Their land became better and better.

            So they could build special stones that they could worship.

2        Their minds are not honest.

            But now they must understand that they have done wrong things.

            The Lord will destroy their altars.

            He will destroy their special stones.

3        Soon these people will say, “We have no king.

            We do not worship the Lord in a true way.

            But if we had a king, he could not do anything for us.”

4        They promise to do many things. But what they say is not true.

            They agree about things with other countries.

            People do not agree with each other in courts.

            These things are like weeds that have poison.

            Weeds that are growing in a field will soon grow into plants.

5        The people who live in Samaria will be afraid.

            They will cry because their idol at Beth Aven has gone.

            Their very bad priests will cry too.

            They were very happy with their beautiful idol.

            But now someone will carry the idol away.

6        Assyria’s people will carry the idol away.

            It will be a gift for the king of Assyria.

            Ephraim’s people will feel very sad.

            They will be very sorry that they worshipped their idol.

7        God will destroy Samaria and he will kill Samaria’s king.

            He (the king) will be like a piece of wood that water carries away.

8        God will destroy these high places at Aven.

            These are places where Israel’s people have sinned.

            Weeds will grow on their altars.

            Then the people will say to the mountains, “Hide us!”

            They will say to the hills, “Fall on us!” ’, God says.

Verse 1 A vine is a plant that grapes grow on.

Verse 5 People worshipped at Beth Aven. They worshipped a gold bull. Beth Aven was Hosea’s name for Bethel. Beth Aven means ‘House of Very Bad Things’. Bethel means ‘House of God’.

Verse 6 Assyria will take the idol away when they win the war.

Verse 7 King Hoshea was put in a prison in 723 B.C. (2 Kings 17:4).

Assyria destroyed Samaria in 722 B.C. Nobody built it again.

God will punish the people in Israel because of their sin

9        ‘Israel’s people, you have sinned since the time of Gibeah.

            You have continued to sin since then.

            But those very bad people at Gibeah had a war.

10      I (God) will punish these very bad people.

            Countries will join together to attack them.

            They will put the people from Israel in prisons because of their very bad sins.

11      Ephraim’s people are like a young cow that someone has taught.

            They are like a cow that loves to walk on grain.

            But I decided to be like someone who puts a yoke on the cow’s beautiful neck.

            I wanted to show Ephraim’s people the right way

            so they could work hard.

            I wanted Judah’s people to be like a farmer who breaks up the ground.

            Jacob’s people, too, must be like that.

12      If a farmer plants good plants, those plants will grow.

            A farmer may have some ground that he has not used for more than a year.

            He should dig that ground to make it not so hard.

            You should be like that farmer.

            You should start to do the right things and the good things.

            Then the Lord will show his love to you.

            Do these things because it is time for you to look for the Lord.

            When he comes, he will cause good to things come down on you like rain!

13      But you are like someone who planted very bad things.

            Bad plants grow.

            And you are in trouble.

            You have said things that are not true. So you have had the results of this.

            But you believed that you could help yourselves.

            And you believed that your soldiers would help you.

            That is why bad things have happened to you.

14      Your people will hear the noise of war.

            Your enemies will destroy your strong places.

            It will be like the time that King Shalman destroyed Betharbel city in war.

            At that time, people killed mothers with their children.

15      The same thing will happen to you at Bethel.

            That is because you did so many very bad things.

            When that day begins, the king of Israel will die.’

Verse 9 Hosea writes again about what he said in 9:9. Israel’s people sinned very badly at the time of Gibeah. They were not able to stop doing this sin.

Verse 11 God wanted people to know him in the best way, like Jacob.

Verse 12 The Hebrew word for ‘love’ means a love that never stops. This can be a love for another person or for God. The same thought is in 6:6.

Verse 14 We do not know about the events at Betharbel. We also do not know about Shalman. But very bad things happened in war then.

Chapter 11

The people in Israel have forgotten the Lord

1        ‘Israel is like a man. I, (the Lord), loved him when he was a child.

            I brought him out of Egypt as my son.

2        But the more I spoke to him,

            the more he turned away from me.

            My people gave sacrifices to the god, Baal.

            They burned incense and they offered this to idols.

3        But it was I who taught this child to walk!

            I took my people up in my arms!

            I gave them health.

            But they did not know this.

4        I led them with love and with kind words.

            I was like a person who let them be free.

            I bent down to feed them.

5        Israel’s people refuse to return to me.

            So they must return to Egypt.

            Assyria will rule over them.

6        Their cities will have war.

            People will break down the city gates.

            Their strong places will not help them.

7        My people are trying very much not to obey me.

            They will shout to God above.

            But I will not listen to them.’

Verse 5 The word ‘Egypt’ means the enemy.

The Lord does not want to destroy Israel

8        ‘Ephraim, I do not want to forget about you.

            I do not want to give you to someone else.

            I do not want to make you like Admah.

            I do not want to make you like Zeboiim.

            My love for you will not let me do it!

            My love for you is too strong.

9        I will not punish you any longer.

            This is even when I am angry.

            I will not destroy Israel again.

            This is because I am God and not a man.

            I am the Holy God and I am with you.

            I will not show you that I am angry.

10      I will make a loud sound like a lion.

            I will make a loud sound and my children will come.

            They will follow me.

            My children will come from the west.

            They will be afraid when they come.

11      They will be like birds from Egypt.

            They will be like birds from Assyria.

            They will be afraid.

            I will bring them back to their homes again.

            I, the Lord, have spoken.’

Verse 8 Admah and Zeboiim were cities that were near Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 10:19). God destroyed Admah and Zeboiim when he destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:24-25). That was when he was very angry.

The Lord is against the people in Israel

12      Israel’s people say things that are not true.

            Those things are all round me.

            Israel’s people have not told me true things.

            But Judah’s people have not obeyed God.

            I, the Holy God, always do what I have promised to do.

            But Judah’s people do not obey me.

Chapter 12

1        There is much that the people in Israel do from morning to night.

            But it has no value and it destroys things.

            The people also do not say true things.

            Israel’s rulers and Assyria’s rulers come together to agree about things.

            They carry their olive oil to Egypt.

2        The Lord says,

            ‘I want to take Judah’s people to a court.

            I will punish Jacob’s family for the way that they have lived.

            I will punish them for the things that they have done.

3        Their ancestor Jacob held on to his brother’s foot.

            He did that when they were both inside their mother’s body.

            When Jacob was a man, he fought with God.

4        Jacob fought against the angel and Jacob won.

            He cried and he asked for blessings.

            He met God at Bethel. God spoke with him there.

5        This was the Lord God Almighty.

            The Lord is his name.

6        So you must return to your God.

            You must love each other. You must be fair in your rules.

            You must be patient. And you must wait for your God to do what he wants.

7        There are people in business who are not fair.

            They are not fair when they measure food and other things.

8        Ephraim’s people say, “We are rich! We are now very rich!

            Because we are rich, people will not find any sin in us.”

9        But I am the Lord your God.

            I brought you out of Egypt.

            I will make sure that you live in tents again.

            It will be like the time when you had religious holidays.

10      I spoke to the prophets. I gave them many visions.

            I told parables so that they could teach my lessons to the people’, God is saying.

11      The people in Gilead are very bad.

            They are not worth anything.

            There are many very bad idols in Gilead.

            These idols are not worth anything.

            They gave animals as sacrifices at Gilgal.

            Their altars will become like stones in a field.

12      Our ancestor Jacob ran away to the country called Aram.

            He worked there so that he could get a wife.

            He kept sheep safe so that he could pay for her.

13      The Lord used a prophet to bring Israel’s people out of Egypt.

            He used a prophet to keep them safe.

14      Ephraim’s people have made the Lord very angry.

            They have killed many people.

            So I will punish them.

            This is because of the wrong things that they have done.

            They will know that the Lord will think very badly about them.

Verse 1 God promised to keep Israel safe. But Israel’s people looked to other countries so that they could be safe. The Hebrew uses the word ‘wind’. This means something that has no value (see Ecclesiastes 1:6, 14). People burned oil to give them light.

Verse 3 This is a true story about Jacob’s name. We can read it in Genesis 25:21-26.

Verse 10 A vision is something like a dream but you might not be asleep. A parable is a kind of story that means something.

Verse 11 Hosea is perhaps thinking about a murder in Gilead (see 6:8). Gilead was a city where many bad things happened. It is possible that Assyria had destroyed Gilead at this time. That is why the city would not be worth anything.

Chapter 13

The Lord is angry with the people in Israel

1        In past times, when Ephraim spoke, other people in Israel were afraid.

            People thought that Israel was important.

            But the people sinned by their worship of the god, Baal.

            And because of that, they died.

2        Now the people in Israel sin more and more.

            They make idols for themselves from their metals.

            They are clever in the way that they make these idols.

            And then they say, ‘Offer sacrifices to them!’

            It is silly to kiss idols!

            They are idols in the shape of animals!

3        That is why those people will soon go away.

            They will be like the cloud in the morning.

            They will be like the low cloud that goes away early in the morning.

            Israel’s people will be like seed that a wind blows from the floor.

            They will be like smoke that goes out of a window.

4        The Lord says,

            ‘I am the Lord your God who led you out of Egypt.

            You do not know any other God except me.

            I only am the person who can redeem you.

5        I did not forget you in the desert.

            That was when you were in a hot dry country.

6        I gave food to Israel’s people.

            They ate that food. They became full and they really liked the food.

            They began to think that they were important.

            And they forgot me.

7        That is why I will be like a lion to them.

            I will be like a lion that is waiting by the road.

8        I will attack them like an animal that has lost her children.

            I will break Israel’s people into pieces.

            I will eat them like an animal.

            I will break them in pieces like an animal.

9        I will destroy you, Israel.

            There will be nobody to help you.

10      Nobody can find your king. He cannot help you.

            Nobody can find your leaders.

            In past times, you asked for a king and leaders.

11      I was angry, so I gave you a king.

            And when I became very angry, I took him away.

12      I have written about Ephraim’s people’s guilt and sin.

            I will keep the words that I wrote in a safe place.

13      Ephraim’s people will be in pain like a woman who is having a baby.

            They are very silly!

            They are like a child inside a woman.

            It is time for the child to come out.

            But the child does not come out at the right time.

14      I will redeem these people. People will not have to bury them.

            I will redeem them from death.

            Death, your illnesses have gone.

            Death, you cannot kill any longer.

            I will not be sorry for this people any longer.

15      Israel was like a plant that grew well among other plants.

            But a strong east wind will come.

            It will blow in from the desert.

            Then Israel’s wells will become dry.

            The water that comes from the ground will stop.

            The wind will take everything away that has value.

16      Samaria will become like an empty country.

            They are guilty because they did not obey their God.

            Their people will die in war.

            Their enemies will throw Samaria’s children to the ground.

            Their enemies will break women into pieces.

            These are women who have babies inside them.’

Verse 4 God gave Israel’s people what they needed (Exodus chapter 16). It was God who fed them. Israel’s people were like a child. The child needed a father to keep it alive. God gave them everything that they needed in the desert. But they forgot him.

Verse 14 Paul, in 1 Corinthians 15:55, uses part of this verse. He uses it to write about resurrection. Paul did not think about death in a bad way.

Chapter 14

New life for Israel’s people

1        Return to the Lord your God, Israel’s people.

            Your sin has destroyed you.

2        Think about the things that you will say.

            And return to the Lord.

            Say to him, ‘Forgive all our sins.

            Accept the good things that we are doing.

            We will praise you with our lips.

3        Assyria cannot save us.

            Our war horses cannot keep us away from trouble.

            We will never again say to idols that they are our God.

            Our hands had made those idols.

            But you are someone who shows great love.

            You show great love to children who have no parents.’

4        The Lord says, ‘They left me. But I will forgive them for that.

            I will love them very much.

            I am not angry with them now.

5        I will be like the rain in the morning to Israel’s people.

            They will become like flowers.

            They will be like the tall trees in Lebanon.

            These trees will be very strong in the ground.

6        They will become alive with new branches.

            They will be beautiful like olive trees.

            They will have a smell like the tall trees in Lebanon.

7        Israel’s people will live again in a shade.

            They will grow well like grain.

            They will grow well like a vine.

            They will be famous like the wine from Lebanon.

8        Ephraim’s people, I do not want to see any more idols.

            I will answer the people’s prayers. I will show an interest in them.

            I (God) am like a tree that is always green.

            Your fruit comes from me.’

9        A wise person understands these things.

            A wise person learns about these things.

            The things that the Lord does are correct.

            Good people will live because of these things.

            But sinners will be like someone who falls down because of these things.

Verse 4 God promises things to Israel’s people. They will not have to be afraid of God. He will stop being angry. Isaiah 54:6-8 gives us another idea that is like this. Israel is like a wife who is returning to her husband. Israel’s people cannot buy God’s love. God can be angry, but instead he will bring Israel’s people many more blessings. These blessings will include water and plants.

Verses 6-7 The olive tree was a good place for shade (verse 6). It was also good for fruit. Lebanon was a good place for the smell of trees. Ezekiel uses the idea of a small tree to mean a new start for Israel (Ezekiel 17:22). God will bless Israel’s people by the land. He will keep them safe too. It will be God’s shade that they will live in. Sometimes the Book of Psalms uses the same idea of shade (Psalms 17:8; 91:1).

Verse 9 The way that God does things is right. A silly person would not listen. There will be trouble for people who do not obey. But a wise person will obey the Lord (Psalm 18:22). He will choose to do the right things.

Word List

when someone has sex with a person who is not their husband or wife.
able to beat all his enemies; stronger than everyone else; the Lord of everything; all-powerful.
special table for people to burn animals or other gifts which they offer to their god.
ancestors are people years ago that your parents were born to.
an angel is a very good person from God’s home; angels bring messages from God. Many Bible students say, ‘Sometimes people saw Christ on earth before he came to Bethlehem as a baby. That is what happened to Jacob.’
600 B.C. means ‘the year that was 600 years before Jesus came to earth’, and so on.
to say or to do good things for a person.
a good thing that God does for us.
male cow.
place where a judge works. He says who is right or wrong.
when people agree something together; when God and a person or people agree to a special thing.
plants that a farmer plants for food.
a wild place where no people live, because it is very dry.
a big, dangerous bird.
ephods were special clothes that the leader of the priests wore.
the grandson of Jacob. Then it became a name for the country in the north of Israel.
the time when the Jews were away from their own country.
family here includes anyone who was born from his sons.
a kind of fruit.
to stop being angry with another person who has done bad things.
a hard seed that you can eat; or you can make it into bread.
a kind of fruit that people use to make wine.
when someone has done wrong things.
a guilty person has done wrong things.
the language that the Jews spoke and wrote.
what God is like; different and better than all other things; all good with nothing bad in it; a thing that God has; separate from sin, clean.
you use your mouth to make loud music with a horn.
a thing that people make out of wood, stone or metal. It is like a man or a god. People worship it and they pray to it. But nobody should do this.
something that gives a nice smell when it burns; the Jews used it to show love to God in the temple in Jerusalem. But some people used it to show love to other gods.
people who live in Israel, family of Jacob.
another name for Israel, the people or the country. (Jacob was Abraham’s grandson.)
a person who is born from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their children.
to say about other people whether they are good or not; to say what is fair; or to punish; or a person who does that.
a big, wild animal (like a cat) that can kill a man; a big wild cat that kills other animals and eats them.
the special name that God gave for himself to the Jews in the Old Testament.
to be kind when you do not have to be kind.
something that is like a big bag with small holes in it; people use it to catch fish or birds.
Old Testament
the first part of the Bible, which the writers wrote before the life of Jesus.
a tree with small fruits (or the fruits themselves) that people used to make oil. They burned the oil to give them light. They used it in other ways too.
a thing with a door that people cook food in.
a kind of story that means something.
to say how good a person is; to tell God how great he is.
the words that people say when they talk to God.
a man that God chose to do a special work for him. The priests worked in the temple. But there were priests for other gods too.
a person who hears God’s words, and tells them to other people; a person who spoke God’s words. Some prophets wrote books in the Bible.
a woman who sells her body to men for sex.
to hurt someone for the wrong things that they have done. For example, a person who has robbed another person must go to a prison.
when someone pays the price to let a person in the prison go free; to get back by money; to get back or to bring back from a dangerous place.
religious holiday
a special holiday when people worship God.
to become alive again.
when you put an animal on the altar to offer it to God or to a false god.
a white metal that shines and is very valuable.
when a person does bad things against God or against other people.
a person who does bad things against God or against other people.
a building where people praise God.
a home or a building that people have made from animal skins; a place to live in that people have made out of cloth. You can move a tent-house to different places.
you use your mouth to make loud music with a trumpet.
a plant that grapes grow on.
something like a dream but you might not be asleep.
things that people use to help them to fight other people.
a drink that has alcohol in it; people make it from small, sweet fruit called grapes. You can use it as medicine.
when we understand God’s word; wise people know what to do; they know what is good and right; and they do it.
to give thanks to God; to tell God that he is very great; to show God that we love him very much; to tell someone that they are very great and that you love them.
a place in someone’s body where someone or something has hurt them.
a piece of wood that you put over the neck of animals. Then they can pull things along.

Book List

Douglas Stuart ~ Hosea – Jonah ~ Word Biblical Commentary

William Barclay ~ Twelve Prophets Vol. 1 ~ Daily Study Bible

Elizabeth Achtemeier ~ Minor Prophets 1 ~ New International Biblical Commentary

Hosea ~ D. A. Hubbard ~ Tyndale Commentary

New Bible Commentary Revised ~ D. Guthrie, J. A. Motyer, A. M. Stibbs, D. J. Wiseman


© Wycliffe Associates (UK), 1997-2009

This version published December 2009

The translated Bible text has been through Advanced Checking.