Hosea 11


vs. 1-4  - Jehovah enumerates the benefits conferred on Israel all along

            from the time of their departure out of Egypt. But parallel with this

            enumeration runs the history of Israel’s ingratitude.



v. 1 - “my son” - This sonship was solemnly ratified by the giving of the Law

            at Sinai; and the condition clearly stated that, in the event of their

            preserving  the knowledge of God, fulfilling His Law, and doing His

            will, they would at all times enjoy Divine protection, defense, and

            blessing, while from generation to generation they were addressed by

            that honorable title. 


The Lord promised “Know therefore that the Lord thy God, He is God, the

FAITHFUL GOD, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love

Him and keep His commandments to a THOUSAND GENERATIONS”

(Deuteronomy 7:9)  (I wonder if you or I come from a line that fears the Lord

the Lord that goes back a thousand generations?  Will you or I be the one

who breaks that connection? CY – 2009)


            (Contrast America’s departure from God with 9/11 and that suggestion

            by religious leaders Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson and how



            CY – 2009)


The words of this verse are applied by St. Matthew to the sojourn of Jesus in

Egypt. The older interpreters refer the first part of the verse to Israel and the

second part typically to the history of Messiah’s childhood, in whom that of

Israel reached its completeness.


vs. 2 – “As they called them, so they went from them: they sacrificed unto

            Baalim, and burned incense to graven images” - Adverting to His own

            call mentioned in the first verse, God here refers to the many subsequent

            calls which He addressed to them through His servants the prophets and

            other messengers.  Instead of appreciating the invitations and admonitions of

            the prophets of God, they showed their utter insensibility and thanklessness,      

            turning away from them in contempt and scorn. Nay, the more the messengers

            of God called them, the more they turned a deaf ear to those who were their

            truest friends and best advisers until “there was no remedy”(II Chronicles

            36:14-16). Pursuing their idolatrous practices, they sacrificed to Baal,

            and burned incense to their images of wood, stone or precious metal?


Compare Isaiah 5:1-7 and Jeremiah 2:1-13


v. 3 – “I taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by their alms; but

they knew not that I healed them” - This picture of God’s guiding and

guarding care of Ephraim is very touching and tender. It is that of an

affectionate parent or tender nurse teaching a child to walk by leading-strings;

taking it up in the arms when stumbling or making a false step; and

in case it fell curing the wound. Thus, nurse-like, God taught Ephraim, His

wayward perverse child, to use his feet (so the original word imports), all

the while lending considerate help and seasonable aid. He took them by the

hand to guide them, that they might not stray; He took them in His arms to

hold them up, that they might not stumble and to help them over any

obstacle that might lie in the way; and when, left to themselves during a

short season, and in order to test their strength, they did stumble and fall,

He healed their hurt. And yet they did not apprehend nor appreciate God’s

gracious design and dealings with them in thus guiding and guarding them,

and in healing their diseases both temporal and spiritual. There is, perhaps,

an allusion to Exodus 15:26, I will put none of these diseases upon

thee which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that

healeth thee.” This promise, it will be remembered, was vouchsafed

immediately after the bitter waters of Marah had been sweetened by the

tree which, according to Divine direction, had been cast therein. Thus

Kimchi: And they have not acknowledged that I healed them of every

sickness and every affliction, as he said, ‘I will put none of these diseases

upon thee.’ The reference is rather to all those evidences of His love which

God manifested to them during their forty years’ wandering in the

wilderness; or perhaps to His guidance of them by His Law throughout

their entire history. Rashi remarks that “they knew it very well, but

dissembled [literally, ‘trod it down with the heel,’ equivalent to

‘despised’] and acted as they did not know”


v. 4 – “I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love” - This

verse contains a further representation of Jehovah’s fatherly guidance of

Israel. The cords of a man are such as parents use in leading weak or

young children. Bands of  love qualify more closely the preceding

expression, “cords of a man,” and are the opposite of those which men

employ in taming or breaking wild and unmanageable animals.


“And I was to them as they that take off the yoke. The word herim does

not mean “to lift up on” and so “impose a yoke,” as some think, nor “to take

away the yoke,” but “to lift it up.” The figure is that of a humane and

compassionate husbandman raising upwards or pushing backwards the yoke

over the cheeks or dewlaps of the ox, that it may not press too heavily upon

him or hinder him while eating.  By loosening the yoke and lifting it up off

the neck upon the cheeks affords not only temporary rest and ease, but also

allows an occasional mouthful or more of food, or even abundant provender,

to the animal which toils in the yoke while plowing or at other work; so Jehovah

extended to Israel, notwithstanding their frequent acts of unfaithfulness, His

sparing mercy and tender compassions, supplying them in abundant measure

with all that they needed for the sustenance and even comforts of life. Thus

their sin in turning aside to other gods, which were no gods, in quest of larger

benefits and more liberal support and succor, was all the more inexcusable.


vs. 5-7  - Describe the severe chastisement Israel incurred by ingratitude for,

            and contempt of, the Divine love.


v. 5 – “He shall not return into the land of Egypt, but the Assyrian

shall be his king, because they refused to return”  -  These words sound

like an announcement that the season of Divine grace, so long extended to

that sin-laden people, had at length expired; and that on account of their

stubborn and ungrateful rebellion against Jehovah they would be forced,

to go into exile and become subject to the monarch of Assyriaa harder

and worse lot awaited them because of their impenitence and refusal

to return to Jehovah!


v. 6 – “And the sword shall abide on his cities, and shall consume

            his branches, and devour them


because of their own counsels -  The cause of all their calamitous invasions,

which city gates barred and bolted could not shut out, was their evil counsels in

departing from the Lord, as Kimchi correctly explains: “All this comes upon them

in consequence of their evil counsel, because they have forsaken my service to

serve other gods.”


v. 7  - “And my people are bent to backsliding from me” - This first

clause of the verse is very expressive, every word almost having an

emphasis of its own. With all their sinfulness and shortcomings, Israel was

still the people of God — my people; they were guilty of the sin of

backsliding, and of backsliding from God, the best of benefactors and their

chief good. Nor was it occasionally and after long intervals of time that

they backslided; it was their habit, their tendency.


Corruption was so deeply seated in Israel, that the idle mass gave no response

to the voice of the prophets urging them upwards – “none at all would exalt



vs. 8-9 - How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? how shall I deliver thee, Israel?

            how shall I make thee as Admah? how shall I set thee as Zeboim?

            mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together.

            I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to

            destroy Ephraim: for I am God, and not man; the Holy One in the

            midst of thee: and I will not enter into the city.



(Adman and Zeboim were cities of the plain in the Jordan Circle destroyed

with Sodom and Gommorrah  because of their sin and perverted life style –

Deuteronomy 29:23)


These verses pave the way for transition to promise. Although the

Israelites on account of such conduct had merited complete annihilation,

yet Jehovah, for His love and mercy’s sake, substitutes grace for justice,

and will not destroy them from off the face of the earth.


“Mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together” –

Though Israel had been as guilty and deserving of wrath as these, God

expresses strong reluctance to deliver them over into the hands and power of

their enemies, or to give them up to destruction. His heart revolted at the thought,

and turned aside from the fierceness of His anger, though so fully deserved, into

the direction of mercy; a new turn was given to His feelings in the direction of compassion.


“I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to destroy

Ephraim:  for I am God, and not man; the Holy One in the midst of thee

and I will not enter into the city”


A reason is here assigned for the exercise of the Divine commiseration just

expressed; this reason is God’s covenant of everlasting love. He is God, and

must be measured by a Divine standard — not man, implacable and

revengeful; though His people’s provocation had been grievous, God was in

the midst of them as their God, long-suffering and steadfast to His covenant

of love and purposes of mercy. He would not enter into the city as an enemy,

and for the purpose of utter destruction, as He had entered into the cities of

the plain for their entire and final ruin;


v. 10 – “He shall roar like a lion” - Calling his people to return, the Lord roars

as a lion, to denote at once the loudness of the call, and the awful majesty of

the Lord when thus calling His people to return.  The roaring of the lion may

signify His terrible judgments on Israel’s enemies, when He calls his people

home from the lands of their dispersion. (the latter days) - The result would be

a speedy return of His children from the lands of the West — the countries round or

beyond the Mediterranean (America is also in the west – CY – 2009)


v. 11 – “They shall tremble as a bird out of Egypt, and as a dove out of the

            land of Assyria: and I will place them in their houses, saith the

            LORD.” - The trembling here is eager haste, or precipitate agitation, in

            which they would hurry home, and that from west and east and south —

             from west as we infer from v. 10, from Assyria in the east and Egypt in

            the south. They would thus hurry as a bird home to its nest in the greenwood;

            as a dove no longer a silly dove, (ch. 7:11)  but flying home to its window.



v. 12 – “Ephraim compasseth me about with lies, and the house of

Israel with deceit: but Judah yet ruleth with God, and is faithful with

the saints” -  The first clause sets forth the faithlessness and insincerity of

Israel, and that in contrast with Judah. Thus understood, the verse properly

belongs to the present chapter. But others understand the last clause

differently, and deny the contrast, viz. “Judah is yet defiant towards God

and towards the All-Holy One, who is faithful.”


Strange, passing strange, it is that men thus impose on themselves, or

attempt to deceive God! “They did flatter him with their mouth,” says the

psalmist, “and they lied unto him with their tongues.” (Psalm 78:36)  And

if this is the conduct men venture on in relation to God, how much more likely

they are to compass their fellow-men with lies, or overreach them by deceit! If

they carry their deceit into the sacred exercises of religion and the solemn

services of the sanctuary, how much more may we expect to find

fraudulent transactions and deceitful dealings in their intercourse with





                                    ADDITIONAL NOTES



v. 4 - GOD’S LOVE IS RESTORATIVE. In spite of all God’s love and

care, we run into the way of danger through our own frowardness or folly.

We stumble and fall, getting many a sore bruise and severe knock. Yet God

in His love restores us; He heals us. As the child, when hurt, runs to the

parent for sympathy — to the mother to kiss the wound and make it well; so,

when unhappily we have strayed from the way, and got bruised and hurt

and painfully wounded through our own willfulness, we are encouraged to

return to God, and He will heal us.


v. 12 - It redounded to the honor of Judah that in the day of Israel’s defection

they persevered in the way of truth, and maintained the true worship of

Jehovah. It is recorded to the credit of those Sardians who remained

faithful in a corrupt place and a degenerate age, “Thou hast a few names

even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk

with me in white: for they are worthy.” – Revelation 3:4









When we serve God we reign with him. It is righteousness that exalts a

nation (Proverbs 14:34) and elevates an individual. To serve God is our

highest glory, and to enjoy Him our greatest happiness. To serve God is

the most honorable service; hence our blessed Lord has made us kings as

 well as priests unto God. (Revelation 1:6)  Luther, commenting on this

verse, speaks of certain errorists “not venturing to embrace the true doctrine

for fear their rule should be lost. So is it with many people; they are afraid

of the loss of their rule if they should entertain the true ways of God’s worship;

they think that the true ways of God’s worship cannot consist with their rule

and power, and therefore they had rather retain them and let the true

worship of God go.”




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