The Book of Hosea: Chapter 2 (1)

It is always good to remember that chapters and verses in the bible were not included in the original autographs. This is an example where it could affect the context if we depend too readily on these divisions. The first verse in Hosea’s 2nd chapter is a good example of the significance of this. The passage is interlinked with 1:10-11 rather than introducing a new segment. Previously, the prophet spoke of a future reversal for the nation in Yahweh’s dealing with them. The great day of Jezreel (1:11) demonstrated the renewal of the first son of Hosea. Now, in 2:1, the same is said of the 2nd & 3rd child. In this instance, Jezreel seems to be the one addressing his siblings, Lo-Ruhamah and Lo-Ammi. The two will experience a similar reversal in their state going from being shown no compassion and not my people to receiving mercy and being transformed into “my people”. This is to be taken symbolically of the renovation of the nation since note that the prophet uses the plural “brothers and sisters”.

The Charge Against Their Mother

The following chapter is laid out in the same form as the previous beginning with exposing the harlotry of the nation followed by its promised restoration. This time, the prophet will expand on these themes and go into much more detail. V.2 begins with a call for the children to “contend” with their mother. The term itself is probably communicating acting as judges by laying a charge against her for her sins (Isaiah 3:13, Jeremiah 2:9). The children’s indictment demonstrates the severity of the unfaithfulness. Children were to honour their parents (Exodus 20:12), but in this case, they are commanded to lay the charge against her. The reason that the charge is laid is firstly that she is not my wife, and I am not her husband. The unfaithfulness of the wife (Israel) had caused a split in the marriage. This is parallel to you are not my people and I am not your God. Whether this was an official divorce of the nation to God is challenging. I’m not persuaded that there was a severing to that degree since it ends in reconciliation. The contending continues with a 2nd charge with the purpose to call for their mother to put away her harlotry from her face and her adultery from between her breasts. This is probably referring to her practicing harlotry and adultery through dressing up to draw her lovers in. This was no accidental encounter, but a dedicated act of donning the part to draw the men to her. Of course, these are references to Israel’s attraction to other gods and their unfaithfulness in harlotry and adultery (idolatry).

The prophet then writes of the threat of judgment to fall upon her by Yahweh if she doesn’t turn from her ways. She will suffer shame and she will thirst like a desert without water. Her clothes would be taken away from her so that she would be disgraced publicly, an illustrative statement of Israel for their unfaithfulness to God (Ezekiel 16:38-39). This stripping was conducted by another nation who would take away all their resources to leave them dying of thirst or being exiled into a land where they would feel the curse of being under another nation’s judgment.

Judgment & Shame Upon Her Children

In a peculiar turn, not only will the mother experience the shame and judgment that comes with her harlotry, but so will her children. This comes with a switch in the speaker from the children to Hosea as representative of Yahweh. The children, who represent the people of Israel, will find no compassion (Lo-Ruhamah) for their nation’s harlotry in their idolatrous actions against Yahweh.

In v.5, the unmerciful words of Yahweh to the nation are geared towards the acts of the mother. The children will find no compassion because of the acts of the mother. She has brought shame upon the children through her harlotry and adultery. Her actions are explicitly described as “I will go after my lovers”. But who are these lovers that she is chasing towards? As we will see, these lovers are other gods especially Baal (v.13)[1]. Her lovers are those she believes provide her food, drink and clothes. Some were life sustaining necessities (bread, water) while others were forms of luxury (wool, flax, oil and drink). These items will be repeated often in this chapter either in full or in part as gifts from her husband (Yahweh) rather than her customers.

The repercussions of her whoring are slightly different than in v.3. This time, Yahweh promises to bring judgment upon her in the form of hedging up her way with thorns and building a wall so that she can’t find her path. This is telling of Israel’s coming affliction reminiscent of Jeremiah’s laments:

He has hedged me in so that I cannot get out; He has made my chain heavy. He has blocked my ways with hewn stone; He has made my paths crooked. (Lamentations 3:7,9)

The outcome will be that she will be restricted and will no longer be able to get to go after her lovers in the form of the temple in Samaria. This perhaps through the invasion and destruction of the city when the Assyrians attacked and let them away in exile.

V.7 not only shows that she will be isolated (hedge of thorns & walled in), but she will pursue her lovers but will not overtake them, she will seek them but not find them. This demonstrates that her lovers have truly won her immoral affections since she is taking desperate steps to be with them. This is not so for her first husband who is there as a means of material dependency rather than desire. When her lovers were providing for her in the form of bread, water, wool, flax and oil, she had all the luxuries of life and could live a life without commitment rather than a life in covenant relationship provided by the first husband, Hosea. The nation of Israel had sought to gain from other nations through covenants with them which meant also bringing in the worship of their gods. When the Assyrian invasion occurs, they will look back at the days when they worshipped Yahweh exclusively and long for those days.

Yahweh, metaphorically as the husband of Israel, is the rich husband who lavishes gifts upon his wife out of love, only for her to think they come from her lovers. Not only had those commodities from v.5 been provided by Yahweh, but He also showered them with gold and silver. Their prosperity didn’t come from these other gods or nations, but by the grace of their God. This almost certainly demonstrates that they’d used the precious commodities to build their centers of worship to Baal. They literally made Baal idols with the gold and silver that Yahweh provided.

Sentence for Unrecognized Blessings

Vs. 9-13 begin a series of the removal of blessings that were unacknowledged by the nation that had enjoyed the covenant blessings of Yahweh. During their time of exile, while the desire of Israel will be to go back to Yahweh, the first husband, to receive the comfort of her goods (v.7), the Lord has a different plan. Not only will He no longer provide for her, but He will also take back what was given to her! Yahweh will prevent the harvest to come (or have the Assyrians take possession of their fields) and take away the joy of new wine. They will recognize when these things have been taken away that it was not Baal who provided these blessings. She will no longer have wool as a covering and will be left exposed in her nakedness and ashamed. It is clear in v.10 that the Northern Kingdom will be put to open shame for all the nations to see. She who was prosperous and mighty, rich and beautiful, will be brought down and all that she has will be taken away. Her idols and her covenants with other nations will be made void and no one will come to rescue Israel.

V.11 demonstrates a crucial factor in her judgment in that her gaiety (mirth) will be taken away from her. That which causes her to rejoice (Heb masos) will no longer exist for the great nation. The times of public parties and festivals will cease. Of course, we are speaking in terms of Israel rather than Gomer. Those festivals which were given to them by Yahweh, their husband, would not avail them any longer. It is Yahweh who will bring these things to an end. This utterance was also clearly prophesied by Jeremiah (7:34; 16:8-9) and obviously Amos (5:21; 8:10) who not only declares a ceasing of joy, but that their festivals and songs will be transformed into a time of mourning and lament. The people who were familiar with these celebratory events will enter days of complete darkness and sorrow. Whether these celebrations were the taking away of God’s blessing in these legitimate festivals or sexually perverse religious observances to Baal (mingling or pagan transformation of God’s festivals), we are unsure.

Yahweh blessed the northern kingdom not only with bread, water, flax and wool, but also with an abundance of vines and fig trees. The fertility of the land was a payment from their lovers, or at least this is what they believed. However, the fruitfulness of the land would come to an end with losing their agricultural blessings through the beasts of the field devouring them. This is an obvious allusion to the economic downturn brought on by the Assyrians. These being the product of their unfaithfulness and receiving the reversal of the covenant blessing (Leviticus 26:6,22).

The pinnacle summation of the judgment against the covenant nation is found in v.13. The consequences of their actions of betrayal not only fall upon their way of life, such as the cultivation of their land, their festivals and their prosperity, but it will come upon the nation personally. God will punish her! The days of Baal are obviously the time they worshipped the pagan deity both in the past and in the present even though God called them out of it (11:2). The incense that should have been offered to Yahweh (Leviticus 1:9) was given to another god. Instead of adorning herself with the ephod to offer worship, she dressed for her lover (Baal) with nose rings and jewelry. The most heinous of them all was that they’d forget Him. While the worship of Yahweh was still present, the pure and undefiled attention that He deserved was given to another. The Lord Jesus left us a similar teaching in that No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (Matthew 6:24).

[1] Deerman points out that perhaps these lovers are not only Canaanite deities but possibly Israel’s looking for goods and favours from Egypt and Assyria (P. 112)

[2] NASB has “speak kindly to her” whereas the NKJV reads: “speak comfort to her” but a more literal rendition is to speak to the heart.


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