5:1 Hear this, O priests! Give heed, O house of Israel! Hearken, O house of the king! For the judgment pertains to you; for you have been a snare at Mizpah, and a net spread upon Tabor. 2 And they have made deep the pit of Shittim; but I will chastise all of them. Hos 5:1-2
The poetry comes three sets of triplets. God addresses His complaints to three groups.
- The Priests
- The house of Israel
- The house of the King
The cause of all this apostasy is laid upon the priests first, then the people, and lastly the king. It is usual to start with the king and work down to the people, but here God address the priest first and foremost. It is they who have not corrected the people. It is they who have not corrected the king. They have lead the people away from the One True God for profit. It is the spiritual leaders that have taught the people to commit all this apostasy. They are the ones who have taught the people that they do not have to keep their faith pure. It is all right in their eyes to worship both the one true God along with Baal, Ashtaroth etc. They taught hat ever the people want, and what ever the king wants, will be fine. We are all open minded. We are accepting of all things spiritual.
God is not as accepting as his priest have let the people think. He calls them out, saying that they are, a snare, a net, and a pit to the people. All forms of hunting wild animals. They are insnaring the people as if they were wild animals.
The snare, net, and pit our set in three places.
Mizpah means watchtower, the text is ambiguous as to where this particular watchtower was. the context is only that it was in Israel and not Judah.
Tabor, 1886 ft high at the eastern end of the valley of Jezreel
Shittim was city east of the Jordan river in Moab, now modern Jordan. Both Moses and Joshua camped there [Num 25; Jos. 2, 3]. It is at Shittim that the people learned of temple prostitution from the Moabites, and yoked themselves to Baal Peor.
3 I know Ephraim, and Israel is not hid from me; for now, O Ephraim, you have played the harlot, Israel is defiled. 4 Their deeds do not permit them to return to their God. For the spirit of harlotry is within them, and they know not the LORD. Hos 5:3-4
They are condemned for three things,
- They hid from God,
- Played the harlot and
- Are defiled
Just as Adam hid from God in the garden [Gen 3]. When God comes calling we know that we have done wrong. No matter how much or how long we have fooled ourselves with the idea that we are OK. We know that deep in our hearts we are wicked. We do what we want to do not what the Lord requires of us.
5 The pride of Israel testifies to his face; Ephraim shall stumble in his guilt; Judah also shall stumble with them. 6 With their flocks and herds they shall go to seek the LORD, but they will not find him; he has withdrawn from them. 7 They have dealt faithlessly with the LORD; for they have borne alien children. Now the new moon shall devour them with their fields. Hos 5:5-7
FYI: Ephraim and Israel, There is some disagreement among scholars as to Ephraim and Israel, many believe that they are synonymous terms, others think that for a short time Ephraim was its own separate nation. Hosea seems at times to address them as separate and at other times as the same nation. Anyone who has ever tried to make a chronology of the Hebrew kings, runs into the problem that the kings of Israel or the Northern Kingdom overlap, if only for the reason that they are using different calendars. (see: A Chronology of the Hebrew Kings, by Edwin R Thiele.)
They have alien children. Meaning that they have not keep their symbolic marriage to God pure. They have not raised their children in the faith handed down from Abraham to Moses. The people have become strangers rather than God’s people.
The new moon devouring their fields has two possible interpretations. One is that the judgment will come with in a month, the other is that they were worshiping the moon as part of their taking on pagan ideas.
Ephraim is oppressed, crushed in judgment, because he was determined to go after vanity. Hos. 5:11
No one is quite sure what the word put here as “vanity” actually means. Some say “tzaw” is the name of a moon goddess, others that it means “word” or “precept”, and still others that it is just a exclamation of disgust. It is only use in three places.
For it is precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little.” Is. 28:10
Therefore the word of the LORD will be to them precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little; that they may go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken. Is. 28:13
It seems to mean the Ephraim has gone after empty words. Or that the moon goddess’ words are empty.
8 Blow the horn in Gibe-ah, the trumpet in Ramah. Sound the alarm at Beth-aven; tremble, O Benjamin! 9 Ephraim shall become a desolation in the day of punishment; among the tribes of Israel I declare what is sure. 10 The princes of Judah have become like those who remove the landmark; upon them I will pour out my wrath like water. 11 Ephraim is oppressed, crushed in judgment, because he was determined to go after vanity. 12 Therefore I am like a moth to Ephraim, and like dry rot to the house of Judah. Hos 5:8-12
Blow the horn (shofar) in Gibeah. Gibeah is in Benjamin. Sound the trumpet (silver trumpet) in Ramah. Ramah is also in Benjamin. Both towns are in the Southern Kingdom of Judah.
The shofar is the horn that is sounded for battle, it was used to warn of approaching enemies, and to organize troop movements. Just as bugles and trumpets have been used for centuries by all armies, until W.W.II and their walkie talkies. The silver trumpets were in the temple and were sounded at the crowning of kings and the New Year, and the New Month. They were used in battle at the walls of Jericho.
The alarm has been sounded in the Southern kingdom that the Northern kingdom is about to be taken.
Ephraim is about to be a “desolation” would better have been translated as “astonished” or “speechless.”
Those that remove landmarks are thieves. These are spiritual thieves they have removed the markers that are the Laws of God. The rules are there to protect the people, to mark what belongs to the people, the priests, the king and to God. These markers are gone from their memory. Their lives are stolen, their national deterioration is so great they don’t even know it. They have become happy and content in their paganism. All the two nation possess is to be eaten by moths and dry rot.
13 When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah his wound, then Ephraim went to Assyria, and sent to the great king. But he is not able to cure you or heal your wound. 14 For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, and like a young lion to the house of Judah. I, even I, will rend and go away, I will carry off, and none shall rescue. Hos 5:13-14
Historically, Ephraim turned to the king of Assyria (Shalmaneser) for help. But after a few short years they contacted the Egyptians and when Shalmaneser V king of Assyria heard of the disloyalty he conquered and then deport the people to other parts of his empire, and repopulated the area with peoples from Mesopotamia [2 Kings 17-18].
FYI: From this point on the 10 tribes of the Northern Kingdom are lost to history.
God how present himself not as a hunter with a snare, net, and pit, but rather a lion that will punished them. Lions who do not recognize a lioness will eat her cubs even if in fact they are his. God does not recognize these people as His. The idea that it is God who tears and rips comes from Deuteronomy.
“‘See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand. Deut. 32:39
It is not Assyria but the Lion of the tribe of Judah that will cause it all to happen [Gen. 49:9; Rev. 5:5]. The day of reckoning has come. It is He that has torn and ripped them, and sent them away. To return to the right relationship, they must acknowledge that what their ancestor did was wrong. They themselves must stop the idolatry. They have to break this generational curse.
15 I will return again to my place, until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face, and in their distress they seek me, saying, Hos 5:15
6:1 “Come, let us return to the LORD; for he has torn, that he may heal us; he has stricken, and he will bind us up. 2 After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him. 3 Let us know, let us press on to know the LORD; his going forth is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.” Hos 6:1-3
The Christian church believes that it can get away with the same sin of unfaithful mixing. That our whoredom will be overlooked. We can have these pagan holidays as long as we rename them Christmas, Easter, etc.
For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. Rom. 11:21
After he has torn and ripped He will return again to His place, this is an interesting turn of phrase. If the Lion is returning to His place he therefor must have “come down”. This “coming down” is used throughout the Bible as Judgment. Here the phrase is only alluded to but not openly stated. God “came down” and told Noah to build the ark. God “came down” and saw the Towel of Babel. God “came down” and saw Sodom and Gomorrah. God “came down” as looked at Jerusalem and sent Babylon to destroy it. Messiah said he would “come down” and judge Jerusalem for not knowing Him. Within a generation Jerusalem was gone, completely destroyed by the Romans.
. . . and dash you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another in you; because you did not know the time of your visitation.” Luke 19:44
The phrase of After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, seems to indicate that this will be a short judgment. However the ten lost tribes have been lost now for over 2500 years, and Judah was in Babylon for 70 years.
In contrast with the idea that a short time, judgment is coming, is this indication that it will take some time.
4 What shall I do with you, O Ephraim? What shall I do with you, O Judah? Your love is like a morning cloud, like the dew that goes early away. 5 Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets, I have slain them by the words of my mouth, and my judgment goes forth as the light. 6 For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God, rather than burnt offerings. Hos 6:4-6
Even though we are warned we never seem to be ready. His going fourth is always anticipated. Even the Jews of the first century knew Messiah was coming. They just didn’t think this itinerant rabbi from Nazareth was him. He did not meet up with their grandiose expectations of a kingdom where the Jews ruled the earth. Instead He brought a kingdom that was partly corrupted and did not rule the kingdoms of the world [Luke 15]. (See Also: The Kingdom Parables)
Your love is like a morning cloud, like the dew that goes early away.
Nice poetic way of saying that the peoples love is fleeting and unreliable. Morning clouds promise rain but never deliver. Their love for their God is transitory, not deep and abiding.
I have slain them by the words of my mouth, and my judgment goes forth as the light.
God often threatens His people with death. His anger and judgment is often compared to a sword or fire coming from His mouth or the mouths of His prophets.
Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of hosts: “Because they have spoken this word, behold, I am making my words in your mouth a fire, and this people wood, and the fire shall devour them. Jer. 5:14
And if any one would harm them, fire pours out from their mouth and consumes their foes; if any one would harm them, thus he is doomed to be killed. Rev. 11:5 [c.f. Is. 11:4; Jer. 23:29; Heb. 4:12; Rev. 1:16.]
For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God, rather than burnt offerings.
We humans often fall into the mistaken idea that we can do something for our own salvation. We just want to make our good works out weigh our wickedness. We want to cut a deal with God. And there are plenty of so called spiritual leaders that will feed on this desire. They will invent all kinds of things a person must do and pay for, to assure our salvation. None of it is in the Bible. No penance, no sacrifice, no payment is required, just steadfast love, and time spent with our God.
7 But at Adam they transgressed the covenant; there they dealt faithlessly with me. 8 Gilead is a city of evildoers, tracked with blood. 9 As robbers lie in wait for a man, so the priests are banded together; they murder on the way to Shechem, yea, they commit villainy. 10 In the house of Israel I have seen a horrible thing; Ephraim’s harlotry is there, Israel is defiled.
11 For you also, O Judah, a harvest is appointed.
When I would restore the fortunes of my people, Hos. 5:7-11
The saddest words in the whole Bible are when God was walking in the Garden and called out, “Adam where are you?” [Gen. 3:9]. We have been hiding from God ever since. We hide because we are ashamed of our nakedness, the nakedness that was exposed because of our infidelity. We listened to the serpent rather than our God. This same trick of the serpent has worked time and time again. It comes to a people who do not know their God, because they will not listen. We seek spiritual leaders who tell us what we want to hear. We do not want to learn the difficult things of God which are left buried in His Word. We just keep telling ourselves that God is Love. But His Word tell us that He is also wrathful, jealous, and just.
The priests are compared to highwaymen. They are robbing the people. People who are on the road to finding God are misdirected and lead into greater sin. Shechem was a city of priest and a city of refuge [Jos. 20:7; 21:21].
Their calf worship is more than God can bear. They have priests that tell them all this mixing of one faith with another is right and good. You can love Christ and Santa Claus. [see also Pagan Origin of Christmas]
For if some one comes and preaches another Jesus than the one we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you submit to it readily enough. 2 Cor. 11:4
This same judgment is also coming to Judah, for her sins are the same. We know from history and the Bible that 120-130 years later the Babylonia Empire deported them all to Mesopotamia for 70 years.
Finally there is a promise that God will again come for His people. That He will not leave them forever.
In the last 100 years Judah has come back to their land. They became an independent nation in 1948. They gained control of Jerusalem in 1967, yet they still do not control the temple mount nor have the ten lost tribes shown up. But we will watch.