PART II., Hosea 4-14. A series of addresses which give a summary of Hosea's prophetic teaching. The period presupposed seems to be the time of anarchy which followed the death of Jeroboam II (c. 743 B.C.). But there is no reason to suppose that the sections are arranged in chronological order. In Hosea 4-8 Israel's guilt is emphasized, in Hosea 9:1 to Hosea 11:11 the punishment, and in Hosea 11:12 both lines of thought are continued, the whole being rounded off with a brighter picture (Hosea 14). As, however, the oracles are essentially independent it is best to treat them separately. The text is in places very corrupt.
The Utter Corruption of the Nation Traced to Irreligion. (The text of Hosea 4:15-19 is hopelessly corrupt. Marti regards Hosea 4:3 as an insertion and Hosea 4:5-6 a as foreign to their present context.) The complete lack of knowledge of God in the land (cf. Hosea 4:6, Hosea 5:4; Hosea 6:3) has, as its inevitable consequence, widespread moral corruption yet let none reprove, for the people is as the priestling and the prophet as the priest (Hosea 4:4 emended). In the present text an apostrophe to the priesthood follows, which is denounced for its profligacy, and profanation of the sacred office. Punishment shall overtake both the priesthood and the misguided people, who are the victims (Hosea 4:5-11). A vivid and terrible picture follows of the immoral worship, and its devastating effects on morals generally (Hosea 4:12-14). In the present corrupt text of Hosea 4:15 ff. Judah is warned not to follow Israel's evil example, and the consequences of obstinate idolatry and shameless sin are set forth.
Hosea 4:2. swearing and breaking faith belong together, i.e. false swearing. blood toucheth blood: i.e. one act of bloodshed quickly follows another.
Hosea 4:4. The last clause requires correction. Marti's has been given above. Others read, but my striving is with thee, O priest (wĕ? immekhâ rî bî ha-kohen), thus leading to the address in Hosea 4:5 f.
Hosea 4:5. thy mother: i.e. either the society to which thou belongest, or the nation. Marti (omitting Hosea 4:5 and Hosea 4:6 a; note, second person in Hosea 4:5 f. changes to third in Hosea 4:6) reads Hosea 4:6 b, Because they have rejected knowledge I also reject them from being my priests, and (because) they have forgotten the law of their God, I also will forget their children.
Hosea 4:7. I will change: read with Targ. and Pesh. they changed.
Hosea 4:8. sin: i.e. according to the older interpretation, sin-offering. In order to multiply such offerings the priests encouraged the people to sin. But by sin the cultus generally may be meant; the priests for their own purposes encouraged the people's delusion that by multiplying offerings they were pleasing Yahweh (cf. Hosea 8:11; Amos 4:4).
Hosea 4:12. stock: render tree; staff should perhaps be twig. The tree-cultus (p. 100) practised in old Israel may be referred to (cf. Genesis 12:6; Deuteronomy 11:30, etc., and the frequent reference to high places on every hill and under every green tree). This tree-cultus is referred to in Hosea 4:13; oaks and terebinths were specially sacred. Through them oracles were sought, and near the sacred trees sacrifices were offered, and the rites of sacred prostitution practised. burn incense: render offer sacrifice.
Hosea 4:18. Render: their carousal over, they indulge in harlotry.
Hosea 4:19. A figure for exile: the Assyrian tempest shall sweep them away.