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The New Oxford Annotated Bible New Revised Standard Study Bible that provides essential scholarship and guidance for Bible readers.

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Commentary on Hosea

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4.1–14.9 : The prophetic speeches of Hosea indict Israel for unfaithfulness and announce the divine judgment, while offering hope of eventual restoration.

The boundaries between individual speech units in the remainder of the book are unclear. This may in part reflect the style of the prophet and may in part be due to later editorial rearrangement.

4.1–12.1 : The Lord has an indictment against Israel.

4.1 :

Hear the word of the Lord, an introduction in the prophetic style, which serves both the immediate speech and the remainder of the book. Israel, the primary referent here is the Northern Kingdom (also known as Ephraim) but, like all of Hosea's prophecies, after 722 the prophecy is transmitted in Judah; so the address is also to Israel in its broader sense. Indictment is a legal term: On God's behalf, the prophet files suit against the people for breach of covenant. Faithfulness, loyalty (steadfast love), and knowledge of God are major theological terms in Hosea ( 2.19–20; 4.6; 5.4,7; 6.3,6; 10.12; 11.3–4,12b; 12.6 ).

2 :

Swearing …, a full five of the Ten Commandments are listed (Ex 20.7,13–16; Deut 5.11,17–20 ).

3 :

See 2.21n.

4.4–19 : An indictment of corrupt religious practices.

4–8 :

The corruption issues from the priests.

4 :

Legally, there are no grounds for a counterclaim against God.

5–6 :

The phrases destroy your mother and forget your children build on the foundation of 1.2–3.5 .

7 :

The morethe more, for a similar formulation, see 11.2 .

8 :

They feed, the priests depend on the sacrificial system for food. Since more sins require more sacrifices, Hosea accuses the priests of a debased relationship in their role in the process of atonement.

9–14 :

The corruption, detailed here in terms of drunkenness, sexual activity, and divination, spreads from priests to the rest of Ephraimite society.

10 :

Human fertility, also part of the divine blessing (Gen 1.28 ), is affected by human unfaithfulness.

12 :

Piece of wood, divining rod, the exact referents are unknown. Trees or wooden symbols were associated with the worship of Asherah, a Canaanite goddess.

13 :

A reference to high‐place sanctuaries and their sacred groves (Deut 12.2 ). Their shade, note the contrast between this shade and that of 14.7 .

14 :

The term temple prostitutes simply means “sacred women,” i.e., female cultic officials, a feature in Canaanite but not orthodox Israelite practice.

15–19 :

An admonishment to Judah: Do not let the contamination spread to you.

15 :

Gilgal, Bethaven (i.e., Bethel; Am 5.5 ), the northern shrines closest to Judah. Bethaven (lit. “house of worthlessness”) is a pejorative name for Bethel (“house of God”).

16 :

Stubborn heifer, see 10.11 .

17 :

Ephraim was the name for the region surrounding Samaria. Though often used as a general term for the Northern Kingdom, its use here and Hosea's preference for it over Israel in the rest of the book could reflect a changed political situation. Israel gradually lost its territory in Transjordan, Galilee, and Jezreel in this period; in the end Ephraim was all that remained.

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