1. The word of YHWH that was [directed] toward Hoshea the son of Beeri in the days of Uzziyah, Yotham, Achaz, and Hizqiyahu, kings of Yehudah, and in the days of Yarav’am the son of Yoash, King of Israel

Note that until the two houses come back together, Yehudah is not considered part of Israel. Hoshea’s name is the same as Yehoshua’s was prior to Moshe’s renaming him (Deut. 32:44), and thus bears a special connection to the name of Y’shua (Yehoshua/Yahshua) the Messiah. Beeri means “my well”, but at root, means one who explains or clarifies, indicating that he is one who interprets the “water” of YHWH’s word correctly. The kings’ names, in order, mean: Strength of YHWH, YHWH is Perfect, He has Seized, Strengthened by YHWH, A People Will Contend, and YHWH Burns.

2. (YHWH’s first time to speak through Hoshea): Now YHWH said to Hoshea, “Go, take to yourself a woman of harlotries and children of harlotries, because the Land has gone from following after YHWH to adulterously committing harlotry.”

The Land: that is, Israel. Idolatry is always considered adultery against YHWH, to whom YHWH was married at Mt. Sinai. Intimacy with anything He hates is another form of idolatry.

3. So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblayim, and she conceived and bore him a son.

Gomer means “coming to an end”, which was a prophecy (v. 4). But it also means “completing”, because through this dispersal of Israel, YHWH would bring His work in the earth to completion. Diblayim means “a pair of fig cakes”. The Aramaic translation interprets this as meaning if they did not repent they would fall like the leaves of a fig tree. The fig tree loses its leaves very rapidly once they begin to fall.

4. Then YHWH told him, “Call his name Yizre’el, because [only] a little longer and I will charge the blood of Yizre’el to the House of Yehu, and I have brought an end to the sovereignty of the House of Israel.

Israel (Yisrael in Hebrew) became Yizre'el. The similarity of the two names reminds YHWH that one day they will become Israel again. Yizre’el means “Elohim scatters”, and this is the theme of the rest of the book. In fact the Aramaic has, Call their name Scattered Ones. But it also means “Elohim sows”, and a sown seed dies only to re-emerge an bear much fruit—the meaning of the name Efrayim. Only a little longer and I will: i.e., I am very close to doing this. Charge: visit, revisit, muster, or call to account. The blood of Yizre’el: including Yizabel/Jezebel’s. The Aramaic targum says, “I will avenge the blood of the idolaters which Yehu [son of Yehoshafat] shed in Yizre’el, when he put them to death because they had worshipped Baal (cf. 2 Kings 9-10); now they themselves [Israel's kings] have turned back to go astray after the calves in Beyth El. Therefore I will account it as innocent blood upon the House of Yehu, and I will abolish kingship from the House of Israel.” I.e., I got rid of Yizabel, a foreigner who was corrupting the royal house, but now Israel herself has grown just as evil, and I almost regret having rescued you once. An end: literally, a sabbath (ceasing). The end would not actually be played out for another two centuries, but this placed a damper on the rest of its history, which encompassed one evil king after another.  

5. “And what will come about is that I will shatter Israel’s bow in the Valley of Yizre’el.”  

Bow: a symbol of power.

6. Then she became pregnant again and gave birth to a daughter, and He told him, “Call her name Lo-Ruhamah, because I will not take pity on the House of Israel again, because I will completely carry them away.

Note that this time it does not say, “She bore HIM a daughter”, as with Yizre’el the firstborn. Yizre’el was YHWH’s firstfruits; the others were only the children of the House of Efrayim. Y’shua says He sowed the sons of the Kingdom as seeds, but an enemy sowed a worthless crop in the same field. (Mat. 13:37) So soon after her marriage, she has already gone back to her harlotries. (2:4) This is a picture of Israel going after other lovers beside YHWH, and bearing fruit that is not for Him. Lo-Ruhamah means “no pity”. Not… again: the rest of the chapter makes it clear that this does not mean “never again”, but “This is the last straw; I have had it with you, and I am not going to spare you the punishment you have deserved for a long time!” Carry them away: this indeed happened through the Assyrians, who resettled those they conquered in other lands so as to be away from the land of their deities and thus made somewhat homogeneous. The LXX has, I will set Myself in array against them.

7. “However, on the House of Yehudah I will take pity, and I will deliver them through YHWH their Elohim, and not by bow or sword, battle or horses or horsemen.”

Not by bow: compare Zecharyah 4:6 and the story of Y'hoshafat (2 Chron. 20). Through YHWH: Aramaic, by the Memra [living Word] of YHWH, that is, Yahshua. (Yochanan 1:14)

8. And when she had weaned Lo-Ruhamah, she became pregnant again and gave birth to a son.

Weaned: or brought to maturity.

9. And He said, “Call his name Lo-Ammi, because you are not My people, and I do not belong to you.

Lo-Ammi means “not My people”. I.e., again, this was Gomer’s son, but not Hoshea’s.

10. [2:1 in Hebrew] “Though the number of the descendants of Israel will come to be like the sand of the sea, which is not measured or exactly counted, yet it will come about that in the place where it is said of them, ‘You are not My people’, they will be described as ‘Sons of the Living El’.

Number can also mean “tale”. Sand comes from a word meaning to writhe, dance, or whirl about, as can be observed in the shifting patterns on a sand dune. The sea often symbolizes the Gentile nations, so in addition to there being an immeasurable number of Israelites in exile (because they are lost track of in their intermingling with the Gentiles; cf. Gen. 48:16), their “story” will also be one of moving from place to place like the ever-shifting sand. Yet: Even those on whom He had no compassion can still become His children because they are related to Efrayim. (Compare Yeshayahu 65:1ff) YHWH would not lose track of one grain. (Amos 9:9) Their very own descendants will one day be reassembled like the dried-out bones of Yehezqel 37) in the same Land (as the ancient Aramaic interpretation bears out) and, as suggested by the term “place”, at the Temple Mount itself, which is often specifically nicknamed “The Place [where I have set My Name]”. The Aramaic interpretation supports this. Sons of the Living El: This claim is made in 1 Yochanan 3:1. We will not look like our fathers, but like Y’shua when we see Him. (Compare Yochanan 1:12.) This therefore identifies where we can find the House of Israel today. It is a “people” who are “called out” of every nation, kindred, tribe, and language. The exile continued long after this declaration, however. The reason is that there are two concurrent sentences. (See note on v. 11.) 

11. “Then the descendants of Yehudah and the descendants of Israel will be gathered into one, and will [together] appoint for themselves one head, and go up from the land, for great is the Day of Yizre’el!” 

Not only will this scattering be remedied, but the division between the two kingdoms will be as well. Yehezqel (Ezekiel) prophesied that the punishment of the House of Israel would be 390 years. (Yhzq. 4:5) Yirmiyahu gave more detail: “I will send for many fishers, and they will fish them out...because My eyes are on all their journeyings; they are not hidden from My presence. But neither is their guilt hidden from My eyes, so first I will recompense their iniquity and their sin double, for they have defiled my land [with idols].” (Yirm. 16:14-18) When Yahshua paid our ransom "in the fullness of time", Hosea's sentence of "no mercy" was up, and it was only a matter of informing the scattered Israelites that they could come back home. That's why He said He was sending His disciples out as “fishers of men”. (Mat. 4:19) Before long, they were celebrating because many were "returning to Yahweh from among the Gentiles". Even James, Yahshua's brother, who at first hesitated to allow these supposed Gentiles into the household, later addresses his epistle overtly "to the twelve tribes of Israel who are scattered abroad". Others could respond, which is one reason He scattered them. But if Efrayim’s seed so mixed with all nations, then many, if not most, of the people who respond to the Gospel are Gentiles only in this secondary sense. Indeed, Paul writes to the new believers as "former Gentiles" who were now equals with the Jews (the House of Yehudah) and were forming “one new man”. (1 Cor. 12:2; Eph. 2) Yet the focus on bringing Israel back to the covenant they had abandoned was lost in the push to reach every last tribe with what was turning out to be a new religion instead. They took advantage of His amnesty. Eventually all who wished to be part of the institutional church had to cut all ties to their Hebraic roots. The other side also gave an ultimatum: to believe that Bar Kochba, not Yahshua, was the Messiah or be put out of the synagogues. So the two houses became separated once again. How could this happen? Because Leviticus 26:18 also says that if Israel had not repented after 390 years (which they had not), He would increase the sentence seven times. Though individuals could return to the covenant after Yahshua renewed it (Mat. 26:28), Hoshea's other sentence--the concurrent, but longer, one of “not being a people”—would last 2,730 years! Yet in our day this is coming to an end. We have another unique open door, and no longer have to remain as loners walking with our Shepherd. He is fusing us back into being a unified group--the nation of Israel--once again! Up from the land: the Aramaic adds, of their exile. Yizre’el also pertains to the last days, because the Valley of Yizre’el is right beside the tel called Har Megiddo (Armageddon). Aramaic, Great is the day of their assembling. (Compare Yeshayahu/Isaiah 11:12-14) This is the second sowing—back in their Land. (2:23; Amos 9:11-15) But this return is not accomplished by magic; we must allow Him to do it through us if we are to be the ones who receive the promise. One head: The Aramaic adds, from the House of David. YHWH Himself will set His King in place (Yehezqel 34:23), so appointing for themselves one head has a deeper meaning. It could be rendered take for themselves a head of unity, i.e., have one mind, agreeing on all things, as Paul so often wrote. (Rom. 15:5; 2 Cor. 13:11; Phil. 1:27; 2:1ff; 1 Peter/Kefa 3:8). If this is not enough motivation, remember that unity of mind is what gives the Counterfeit Messiah his power and authority (Rev. 17:13), and we certainly do not want him to outdo the Messiah. The “head” of grain is meant to produce “one bread and one body”. (1 Cor. 10:17) Until we are united, there is no Kingdom for the King to rule over.


1. [2:3 in Hebrew] “Promise to your brothers, ‘My people’, and to your sisters, ‘Pity”.

Yizre’el is the one still being addressed here. He is Hoshea’s son, symbolizing those born of Israel’s intimacy with YHWH, that is, the first harvest of barley, whom He is now separating out. He does not fall under the curses placed on his brothers, so his responsibility is to inform his siblings who are Israel but not yet YHWH’s, that they truly belong to Him as well, and not to the church that has been co-opted by Babylon. This is the second harvest (that of the wheat). The third sibling corresponds with a third harvest, the sheep and goats judgment in Mat. 25. Pity: Aramaic, Return to My law and I will have pity.

2. “Contend against your mother! Contend, because she is not My wife, and I am not her Husband. But let her remove her harlotries from her face, and her adulteries from between her breasts, 

Contend against: strive, quarrel, argue—with a legal edge, lodge a complaint, bring a case against her, plead your case, bring a lawsuit--i.e., go to whatever extent it takes to make the one he loves see the error of her ways. Make her taste what it’s like to not have the covering she takes for granted. The verses that follow outline how just because we love someone does not mean we can let them get away with what they do wrong, or they will never come to complete maturity. There are no shortcuts. The original context of “love your neighbor as yourself” is “You shall not hate your brother in your heart; you shall certainly rebuke your fellow, and not put up with sin in him.” If we let them continue on the path to destruction, we do not really love them. When YHWH disciplines us, it means He is paying attention to us, which is much better than the alternative. Husband: the term used is actually “man”, referring to a beloved husband. Your mother: Aramaic, the congregation of Israel. She symbolizes the entirety of the people of Israel. Zech. 13 says that two thirds of His scattered sheep will be cut off, i.e., put outside the camp until they are no longer unclean (a picture of selfishness). The other third will be refined. He identifies that third as those who are truly His people (corresponding to Yizre’el here) and the way one can tell who they are is that they call on His Name, not some other name (cf. v. 16 below). Not My wife: Israel (including the Land, as per v. 3) was divorced because of her children’s rebellion, which defiled her. (Yeshayahu/Isaiah 50:1; Yirmiyahu 3:8) Harlotries… adulteries: i.e., signs of them, such as a special style of cosmetics or a bag of sweet-smelling spices to attract victims. The way to contend with her is to inform her children that their mother really is Israel, despite the make-up with which she tries to cover that fact.

3. “lest I strip her naked and present her as on the day she was born, making her like an uninhabited place, lay her waste like an arid land, and cause her to die of thirst.

Strip: literally, make her plain and simple. Indeed, the Land of Israel did become exactly like this description until the late 19th century when Yehudah began to come back and revive it. But the Aramaic interprets it, I will remove my Sh’kinah from her, and take away her glory. Thirst: lack of water symbolizes a paucity of teaching YHWH’s Word. (Amos 8:11) There may be many other “delicacies” available, but we need pure water to truly thrive.

4. “Moreover, I will not have pity on her children, because they are children of harlotries,

Of harlotries: Aramaic, who go astray. Compare Revelation 17’s description of Babylon as the “mother of harlots”. Her children: again, this does not include Yizre’el, who is His child as well.

5. “because their mother has been a prostitute; she who bore them has acted shamefully, because she has said, ‘Let me go after my lovers, who give me my bread and water, my wool and my linen, my oil and my refreshment!’

Acted shamefully: sounds like the word for dried up, a word play on the punishments listed in v. 3. LXX, disgraced them. My lovers: Aramaic, the nations. Wool: figuratively, whiteness, which ties her to Lavan, “the white one”. Refreshment: or drink; LXX, my necessaries.

6. “Therefore, here I am, hedging up her way with thorns. I have even closed up her wall, so that she cannot find her paths.

Closed up: Aramaic, divided off. This corresponds with the partial blindness that Paul says will come over all Israel until the fullness of Gentiles (Efrayim, the firstborn, which in Hebrew is the same as firstfruits) comes in. (Gen. 48:19; Rom. 11:25; Yirmiyahu 31:9) This is the first harvest, and that day is upon us, so we can expect to soon begin to see the other children responding to the truth about who they are as well. YHWH takes all the credit for being the one who keeps troubling her until she chooses to return. (Yeshayahu 42:22-25)

7. “Thus she will eagerly pursue her lovers, but she will not catch up with them, and she will search for them, but not find them. Then she will say, ‘Let me go so I can return to my original man, because it was better for me then than [it is] now.’

Pursue her lovers: Aramaic targum, Pursue peace with the nations. This is very timely for our day. In His mercy, YHWH never let her actually marry another, for if she did, He would never be able to take her back. (Compare Yochanan 4:18.) Original man: or primary husband. (Compare Y’shua’s parable of the Prodigal Son, which is really the same allegory; Luke 15:17)  

8. “And she did not recognize that I [was the one who] gave her the grain, new wine, fresh [glistening] oil, and I increased her silver and gold, which they fashioned into a Ba’al.

9. “Therefore I will return and take back to Myself My grain in its season, and My new wine at its appointed time, and I will reclaim My wool and linen [which I provided] to cover up her indecent exposure.

Take back My grain: Aramaic, My Memra [living Word] will return to curse the grain at the time of its harvest. Grain is a picture of His people, whom He is reclaiming from the church because it has not been a true shepherd to most of them, but only a hireling. (Yehezqel 34; Yochanan 10) New wine represents joy, and their joy is now indeed out of season: on Sunday rather than the Sabbath or Christmas instead of the feasts He prescribed. The Northern Kingdom began by keeping His feasts, but deliberately moving them to a different month. (1 Kings 12:33) They were thus out of season. They later mixed wool and linen, which He forbade (Lev. 19:19), by mixing actual pagan ways with truth. Linen comes from a plant, which is from the earth; wool represents what does not come from the earth, but from heaven (as in Qayin and Hevel’s offerings, Gen. 4), so she will have neither an earthly no heavenly covering anymore.  

10. “Now I will even expose her immodesty to the eyes of her lovers, and not a man can rescue her from My hand.

Immodesty: shamelessness, pudenda, or foolishness; LXX, her uncleanness. Rescue her from My hand: or snatch them out. Y’shua alluded to this, but turned its meaning around for those who would listen to His voice, whom He identifies as His sheep. (Yochanan 10:29)  

11. “I will also put an end to her every cause for joy, her feast, her new moon, her sabbath, and her every appointed time,

Notice that these are her feasts, not His; i.e., those she has taken on from pagan lovers or invented for herself. She chose her own Sabbath and rejected His. Her new moon: or months. They substituted the Gregorian calendar from Rome for months clearly signaled by the signpost He created in the sky. So He will remove all the joy from Sunday and from Christmas, Easter, etc. An alternative way to look at this is that, scariest of all, He does not even allow her to keep the days He has required. Because she has chosen the path of unfaithfulness, He will not even let her keep His commandments, because He does not want an appointment with someone like this.

12. “and I will ravage her vine and her fig tree, of which she has said, ‘They are my hire-price that my lovers have given to me.’ I have even transformed them into an area overgrown, and the animals of the field have devoured them.

Animals: The LXX specifies all three types of animals listed in v. 18. 

13. “Moreover, I will charge to her account the days of the Ba’als to which she burned incense, removed her rings and jewelry and went after her lovers, but forgot Me,” declares YHWH.

Removed her rings: i.e., the signs that she is married. Aramaic, like a woman who has left her husband, decking herself with earrings and her strings of pearls.

14. “Nevertheless, here I am alluring her, and have brought her into the wilderness and spoken to her heart.  

Alluring: or simply persuading; Aramaic, I will make her sbject to the law, and work miracles and mighty deeds for her, as I did in the wilderness. Have brought: He speaks prophetically. Into the wilderness: the term means “place of the word” in Hebrew-- the site, probably at Mt. Sinai again (v. 15), where the two houses of Israel will be reunited and have the Messiah appointed as their common ruler. (Rev. 12:13-17; Mark 13:14; Yeshayahu 16:1-5; Yehezqel 37:24) But simply coming back to the Word now does straighten out the crooked thoughts of our hearts.

15. “And I have given to her from there her vineyards as well as the Valley of Akhor as a doorway of hope, and there she will respond as [she did] in the days of her youth, that is, as [in] the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.

All of this humbles her, brings her rudely back to reality, and she gives up her pipe dreams and comes to realize that He’s not a cruel taskmaster, but one she actually loves after all. And she does come back. Love must often be tough. If He had not given her the more harsh, difficult treatment, she would have remained spoiled and demanding. If we really love someone, we will insist that they keep their standards high, no matter how much it hurts us to have to put them through pain & hardship, in the hopes that strong medicine does its work. Valley of Akhor: near Yericho. Doorway of hope: Heb., Petakh Tiqvah, which is also the name of the first Jewish community in modern Israel. It was first settled in 1878, expressing this hope 70 years before nationhood. The settlers intended to build it in the Valley of Akhor because of this verse, but were blocked by the Turkish sultan, so they built it seven miles east of what is now Tel Aviv, but kept the name. By 1990 the city had 144,000 people. LXX, to open her understanding, and she will be afflicted there… But the root meaning of the Hebrew word for hope is twining together as in a rope. Israelites are now so scattered and each wants to do things (even holy things) his own way. How will He ever twine us together? The answer on one level is through trouble (the meaning of Akhor). There He will provide for us a place of rest. (Yeshayahu 65:10) But the answer is also in what happened in the Valley of Akhor. Akhan, the son of Karmi (which, incidentally, means “my vineyard”), brought sin into the camp, thus bringing a curse on the entire community of Israel. (Yehoshua 7) What he brought from Yericho were a Babylonian mantle (garment), tongues of gold, and silver which were all declared off-limits and to be destroyed. Not until these were expunged (along with Akhan, his family, his flocks, and his tent) was the curse removed from the camp. So we need to know how to use this doorway of hope. The things he brought in and placed among his own things, thereby defiling them as well, represent a covering by Babylon (the system of profit and empowerment of the church that seems to brig security), tongues of gold (lovely promises of prosperity, and even the language we use, for those who want to become wealthy today learn English, so YHWH is turning us back to Hebrew), and silver (the same word for money in Hebrew, and also a symbol of blood, which most of the church began eating again when it decalred the kosher laws outdated). Tents represent religious learning. Before we can stand before our enemies, we must put away Akhan’s type of religion, his flocks, and all of these other things, for they weaken all of Israel. They must be rooted out, and everything connected with them destroyed.  

16. “And what will take place on that day,” declares YHWH, “[is that] you will call Me ‘My Husband’, and you will no longer call Me ‘My Lord’,

Lord: Ba’al, another word for husband, but with the sense of a cruel overlord. For a time He has been her husband in this sense of ownership, but without intimacy. The English word “Lord” also appears to have pagan connections, having referred originally to a deity associated with pig farmers, so it is not an appropriate title by which to call YHWH.  

17. “because I will take away the names of the Ba’als from her mouth, and they will no longer be remembered by their name.

18. “And in that day I will cut a covenant for them with the animals of the field, the birds of the sky, and the things that creep on the ground, and I will shatter the bow, the sword, and the battle from [out of] the Land, and I will allow them to lie down in security.

Covenant for them: the Aramaic targum adds, that they may be at peace with… The battle: Aramaic, warriors. Security: literally, confidence.  

19. “And I will betroth you to Myself forever; indeed, I will betroth you to Myself with righteousness, right ruling, lovingkindness, and tender mercies. 

Betroth you: Aramaic, establish you before Me. This verse is repeated not only at Israelite weddings, but when wrapping the tefillin (phylactery)-straps around one’s fingers during prayer. Once each of the patriarchs accepted Him as their Elohim, His promises to them came true.

20. “I will even betroth you to Myself in faithfulness. Then you will know YHWH.

“Know” can be a term of special intimacy as between husband and wife.

21. “And it will come about in that day [that] I will respond,” declares YHWH. “I will answer the heavens, and they will answer the earth,

Respond: LXX, hearken. Answer the heavens: Aramaic, command the heavens, and they will send down rain.

22. “and the earth will respond to the grain, the new wine, and the fresh oil, and they will testify [in response], ‘Yizre’el!’

Respond: in other words, all of these elements will work together in harmony, instead of against each other, as YHWH wants all of Israel to do. This new wine is over 3,000 years old, yet it is new to those of us who are only now offered the doorway back to it. And as Y’shua said, the old is better. (Luke 5:39)

23. “So I will sow her for Myself in the Land, and I will pity Lo-Ruhamah [No-Pity], and I will say to Lo-Ammi [Not-My-People], ‘[Now] you are My people.’ And He will say, ‘My Elohim!’”

No Pity: LXX, not loved. You are: singular here. He is speaking to one man—not just Hoshea’s son, but the reunited Israel (Ex. 24:3; Ezra 3:1; Neh. 8:1) and the restored Adam with Y’shua as its head. After with joy He brings back the sheaves sown in tears around the world (since He hated to scatter our ancestors so far, Psalm 126:6), He will plant the seed from that harvest back in their proper Land.  


1. Then YHWH told me again, “Go love a woman [who is] loved by her companion, yet is an adulteress—just like the love of YHWH toward the descendants of Israel while they turn toward other elohim and love pressed raisin cakes!

Her companion: YHWH Himself. The word actually means “one from the same flock”. Pressed raisin cakes: though there is nothing inherently wrong with raisin cakes as such, they were consistently used as an element of pagan sacrificial feasts. Raisins are grapes removed from the vine (Y’shua) and rendered waterless (free from Torah). They are dried in the sun, which is the object most often idolized by pagans. On its day the great masses worship all crowded together in churches. They are survival food, to be eaten in the wilderness (which is what the church was for in our exile, Yochanan 11:54), but they are not fullness of life. They are no longer grapes. Sometimes it is rendered, flasks of wine. The Aramaic sees it as an allegory of being forgiven like a man who makes a mistake while intoxicated, if he repents.

2. “So I bought her for Myself for [a trade of] fifteen [sheqels] of silver as well as a chomer of barley and a lethekh of barley.

Bought: literally, bargained for. If a half-sheqel is the tax paid by each person for the Temple, this is 30 half-sheqels of silver, possibly the thirty pieces paid when Y’shua was betrayed, which YHWH used to build Himself a true Temple of living stones. Chomer: 100 omers, symbolic of the world.  Lethekh: thought to be a half a chomer, or five eyfoth. Thus the total amount of barley would be 15 eyfoth as well. A chomer of barley is valued at 50 sheqels (Lev. 27:16), and also the value of a man at his prime. (27:3) Silver is symbolic of blood and redemption, and the Aramaic interprets the fifteen here as referring to the day the Israelites were redeemed from Egypt (the 15th of Aviv), but the barley as representing the omer of the offering from the produce of barley (which was brought to the Temple as firstfruits). Y’shua’s resurrection was on the first day of the barley harvest. Barley is Israel’s first crop. The total value of the barley here would be 75 sheqels, which is five times the value of the silver. Not only redemption, but fruitfulness and a mature man are what make His bride ready.

3. “But I told her, ‘You must sit [and wait] for Me [for] many days. You may neither act as a prostitute nor come to belong to [any] man, and I will be the same way toward you.

I.e., He put a freeze on their relationship. It is also as if He has no bride during this time. He only has had isolated body parts all often going in their own direction.

4. “Because for many days the descendants of Israel will remain without a king, without a prince, without [sacrificial] slaughter, without a standing stone, without an efod, and without trafim.

Y’shua purchased us back for YHWH, but we would remain in exile until our sentence was up. We would neither be a unified nation, nor worship idols as such, nor have a priesthood or Temple-based worship of YHWH, but would be on a sort of probation in His custody, being held in reserve for Him. Standing stone: Aramaic, cult pillar.  Trafim: LXX, manifestations; Aramaic, interpreters. But the word is based on “healing”. We were only partially healed, and even our conceptions of the prince (Messiah) were skewed. In short, we were neither pagan nor were we Israel.

5. “After [that], the descendants of Israel will return and intently seek YHWH their Elohim and David their King, and they will stand in awe of YHWH and His beneficial favor in the latter days.”

Return: or repent. Intently seek: as compared to having to be bargained for, i.e., persuaded or bribed into following Him, as we often were lured into spiritual pursuits through the church’s advertising gimmicks. We will find Him when we seek with all our heart. (Yirm. 29:13) David: the Aramaic clarifies that this really means the anointed Son of David (the Messiah). Compare Yehezqel 34:23-24; 37:24, which are explained in Yochanan 10:16. Stand in awe: or fear—not be afraid of Him, but be afraid of being outside of His direct care again. His beneficial favor: or, His doing things right. Latter days: Aram., in the end of days. The embryonic stages of this are already upon us!


1. Listen to the word of YHWH, [you] descendants of Israel! Because YHWH has a case against the inhabitants of the Land, because there is no trustworthiness, no kindness, and no knowledge of Elohim in the Land.

Trustworthiness: truth, stability, certainty, building up, faithfulness, what lasts or stands up. Kindness: mercy or courtesy; i.e., treating each other rightly, giving each his due. Knowledge: from an insider’s view, intimately. These three are inseparable; we cannot say web know YHWH if we are unfaithful to our brothers. (1 Yoch. 4:20) If any of these is lacking, YHWH still has a case against us. We cannot be faithful to YHWH if our main focus is faithfulness to anything else. (Mat. 6:24) Israel will not come back together in our generation if we are still loyal to conflicting causes. He is mercifully offering to “settle out of court”, but we must sign the contract before He will dismiss the case; the repair of these breaches in the wall is the form this repentance must take.

2. “Cursing and deceit, murder, robbery, and adultery have broken all bounds, and blood has run up against blood.

Broken all bounds: mushroomed out of control, refused to be restrained. The same term is used of sheep breaking out of a sheepfold in Micha 2:13. They are free (v. 16), but unprotected, and the neighborhood is not safe.

3. “Because of this the Land will mourn, and all who dwell in it will languish among the animals of the field and the birds of the sky, and even the fish of the sea will be removed,

4. “until [one] man no longer argues with or judges [another] man, since your people are like those who argue with a priest.

No longer argues or judges: Aramaic, They say, “The scribe shall not teach, and the prophet shall not admonish”, so your people argue with your teachers. They cannot teach, because the students all think they know it all. Arguing with a priest: a presumptuous act, since the term itself means an officiator, and they were also given the final say in matters of interpretation of Torah. (Deut. 17:9-13)

5. “So today you will stumble, and even the prophet will stumble with you at night, and I will dumbfound your mother.

Prophet: Aramaic, false prophet. Yet for centuries even true prophets were partially blind to who they were.

6. “My people are rendered silent due to the lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I will also reject you as My priest. You have also forgotten your Elohim’s instruction; I Myself will also forget your children.

Are rendered silent: Aramaic, have become stupid, i.e., in a stupor.  

7. “To the same extent as they increased [in wealth], they sinned against Me; I will change their reputation into [one of] dishonor.

8. “They feed on the sin of My people, and they sustain their passion for perversity.

Aramaic, The priests have committed desecration by eating the sin-offerings of My people, so as to add sins to their own guilt. They are feeding the enemy’s power rather than strengthening YHWH’s influence in Israel’s communal life. Contrast Daniel’s prayer (Dan. 10:12ff).

9. “So it will be the same for the priest as for the people: I will both call them to account for their ways, and bring recompense on them for their practices.

The same: What affects one part of Israel affects the whole nation. (Compare Yirm. 45:5.) Aramaic: Just as they made the layman like the priest to desecrate My holy sacrifices, so I will profane their glory and make what is precious contemptible.

10. “When they eat they will not be full; when they commit adultery, they will not break through, because they have quit giving heed to YHWH.

Break through: or increase, but having children is seldom the intent of adultery. Rather, they will not fully enjoy their pleasure; it will not satisfy them. Aramaic, they shall take wives and not beget children. Quit giving heed: or loosened the guard.

11. “Whoredom, wine, and freshly-pressed wine carry a heart away.

12. “My people seek counsel at their tree, and their diviner’s wand will make it known, because the spirit of whoredoms has made them stagger, and they have [gone out] from beneath their Elohim [to] commit adultery.

Seek counsel: yet it belongs to YHWH alone. (Prov. 8:14) It was idolatry that originally caused the split in Israel, but YHWH used bad advice as the last straw. Their tree: i.e., their wooden groves around idolatrous worship-sites. Make it known: Aramaic, interpret for it (the tree or wooden image). Out from beneath their Elohim: out from under His protective wings; alt., have gone whoring after others in place of Him.

13. “They slaughter [sacrifices] on the mountaintops, and burn incense on the hills, under oak or white poplar or elm, because its shade is pleasant. That is why your daughters will be [cult] prostitutes and your brides will commit adultery.

Pleasant: Aram., extensive. Adultery: or idolatry. Your daughters: the Aramaic adds, whom you have from the daughters of the nations. Brides: or daughters-in-law.

14. “I will not bring punishment on your daughters because they [become] cult prostitutes or on your brides when they commit adultery, because [the men] themselves go off with prostitutes and slaughter sacrifices with the dedicated [to pagan temples], and an undiscerning people will be pushed aside.

Go off: literally, divide or separate. I.e., they have divided interests. Undiscerning: or indiscreet, without understanding, which in Hebrew means the ability to tell the difference or distinguish between, as contrasted with wisdom, which is more the skill that comes from the combination of knowledge and understanding. Pushed aside: or trampled, the only alternative to gaining understanding. For a time, He released us, not caring anymore, having removed the kindness of correction. (Prov. 3:12) We must be faithful stewards of what is another’s if we want to recover our Land, our place in YHWH’s covenant, and have Him stop ignoring our children, this is the prerequisite.

15. “Though you are acting as a prostitute, O Israel, you must not cause Yehudah to become guilty, and do not come to the Gilgal or go up to Beyth Aven or swear, ‘[As] YHWH lives’,

The Gilgal: Literally, place of rolling, a dwelling place of prophets in northern Israel about four miles (7 km.) from Shiloh and Bethel. (Strong) Beyth Aven: House of vanity, a town east of Bethel. Note the contrast between Israel and Yehudah.

16. “because Israel is as stubborn as a headstrong heifer. [So] now YHWH will pasture them like a lamb in a roomy place.

A headstrong heifer: compare Deut. 32:15.

17. “Efrayim is allied with [tortuously-shaped] idols; let him lie [there].

Allied with idols: Aramaic, addicted to idolatry.

18. “What they imbibe has turned [sour]; they have forced [people] into prostitution [so they can] commit fornication; her defenders have an appetite for dishonor. Allow [it to happen].

19. “The wind has pressed hard against her with her wings, and they will be ashamed because of their [sacrificial] slaughters.

Wind: or spirit. Aramaic, the deeds of their lords are not right, just as it is impossible to gather wind in the fold of a garment.


1. “Hear this, O priests! Listen, O House of Israel! And cup your ears, O household of the king, because the sentence is your own, since you have become a snare to Mitzpah and a net spread out over Tavor,

The sentence is your own: Aramaic, Is it not your responsibility to know judgment? Jewish tradition says the priests could not do their duty because the people, prevented by their king, could not bring the sacrifices, so the corrupt leadership bore the brunt of the blame.Mitzpah: the place of the watchtower Yaaqov set up to keep Lavan at a distance. (Gen. 31:49) There was another Binyamite town with this name, whose ruler was named Y’shua. (Nech. 3:19) It is also mentioned in a story in Judges 19-20 that seems to provide some background for this chapter. Gedalyah, whose unjust death is still mourned in Israel, was killed there by Yishmael. (Yirmiyahu 41) Tavor: a round, isolated mountain in the middle of the Plain of Yizre’el very close to Natzereth.  

2. “and those who defect have gone deep to bring about a slaughter, but I am chastising them all.

Who defect: or rebel; LXX, they who hunt the prey.

3. “I know Efrayim [well] and Israel has not been hidden from Me, because now you have provoked adultery, O Efrayim, and Israel has been defiled.

Compare Yirmiyahu 16:17. Hidden from Me: The story of Adam and Chavvah is replayed here on a larger scale. They, too, had expected something back from their idolatry, which they did not receive, at least in the way they expected.

4. “Their practices will not allow them to return to their Elohim, because a spirit of adultery is in their midst, and they have not been intimate with YHWH,

Their practices will not allow them: LXX, they have not framed their counsels to…

5. “so Israel’s pride is a witness in his face, so Israel (that is, Efrayim) will be tripped up by their crookedness; Yehudah has also stumbled along with them.

Is a witness: will answer, or will be humbled. Efrayim: shorthand for the Northern Kingdom, since the king who received the kingdom when most was taken from Shlomo’s son was from the tribe of Efrayim. Efrayim’s greed has also affected Yehudah, and defiled her as well.

6. “With their flocks and herds they will go to [intently] seek YHWH, but they will not find [Him]; He has withdrawn from them.

Withdrawn: Aramaic, removed His sh’kinah (dwelling presence).

7. “They have been treacherous against YHWH, because they have given birth to an outsider’s children; now a New Moon will consume them along with their possessions.

Outsider’s children: those born after Efrayim started “mixing himself with the peoples” (7:8) were now Gentiles themselves; they knew nothing of what it meant to be YHWH’s covenant people. Yevamoth 17a regards them as pagans. A New Moon will consume: Aram., Month by month I will bring nations against them who will plunder the produce of their Land; LXX, the cankerworm will devour. New Moon: or simply, renewal—perhaps the misunderstanding of the Renewed Covenant that has taken the church on so many rabbit trails.

8. “Sound a shofar in Giv’ah, and a trumpet in Ramah! Give the signal, Beyth-Aven; after you, Binyamin!

Shofar,(silver) trumpets, signal: traditional ways of spreading the news that the new moon (v. 7) has been sighted. Giv’ah, Ramah, Beyth-Aven: towns on high hills north of Yerushalayim and the most important ones in the tribal land of Binyamin. Yerushalayim is where the official word of the new moon must originate. Its watchmen would be able to see the signal in Yerushalayim, and pass it on to the other tribes. Ramah was where Shmuel the prophet was from, and the Aramaic takes this as a punishment for not listening to him. Judgment must also begin with the House of YHWH. The Temple is actually partly in Binyamin’s territory as well. Giv’ah can generically simply mean a hill, and ramah a height, any of which would be places from which to relay signals to the next hill. These trumpet-calls also signal a call to war. Aven is the root of the first name Rachel gave to Binyamin (Ben-Oni). It seems Binyamin here is in a way set apart from both of the two Houses. When Yaaqov thought Yoseyf was dead, Binyamin became the most beloved and best-protected. Yehudah made an oath to protect him (perhaps the context for 4:15), but he was actually a son of Rachel, and so is closely tied to the northern Kingdom. In fact, his tribal land sits on the border between the two kingdoms and is a special fulcrum between them, possibly being where many Messianic “Jews” come from, or perhaps representing Orthodox Jews, the “last hope” of Yehudah in terms of Torah observance.  

9. “Efrayim will become an appalling horror in the day of chastening. Among the tribes of Israel I have made known what is sure [to take place].

10. “Yehudah’s rulers have become like those who displace a boundary-marker; on them I will pour out my overflowing fury like water.

Rabbinic Jews have been doing this ever since Paul’s time. Indeed, Paul was from the tribe of Binyamin, perhaps one reason he felt so strongly about defending the boundary YHWH had made through the Messiah against those who would insist that all who came into the community of YHWH had to convert to Judaism (the form by which one tribe interpreted the Torah). This was, according to Mark Nanos, the major issue in his writing the Epistle to the Galatians.

11. “Efrayim is oppressed and crushed in the court system, because he has deliberately walked [away from] following after the commandment.

Court system: LXX, he trod justice underfoot; how can there be justice when a whole nation forsakes its root principles? From following the commandment: Aram., after the money of falsehood. 

12. “So I am like the moth to Efrayim, and like dry rot to the House of Yehudah.

I: Aramaic, My Memra [living Word]. Moth… dry rot: LXX, consternation… , a goad. A moth represents an enemy in that it goes after our covering and tries to put holes in it.

13. “When Efrayim recognized his sickness and Yehudah his wound, then Efrayim went toward Ashur and sent [messengers] to the king of quarrels [for help], but he was unable to help, nor could he cure you of your wound,

14. “because I am like the fierce lion to Efrayim, and like the young lion to the House of Yehudah: I Myself will tear to pieces and walk off; I will carry [them] away with no one to rescue [them].

Fierce lion: LXX, panther. Young lion: a whelp, just a bit older than a cub, when it is learning to hunt. Just as with Adam and Chavvah, the punishment is different for the two, and specially suited to each.  

15. “I am going to leave; I will go back to My place until [such a time] as they acknowledge their guilt. When they are in dire straits, they will look for Me in earnest.”

Leave: Aram., remove My sh’kinah. Compare Yeshayahu 1:15; Judges 19:28. Look for Me: especially, early in the morning. Related to the shakharith prayers (at the time approaching dawn), which are largely about the return of the whole House of Israel. Yehudah has been praying them all along, but they are largely about Efrayim. Now Efrayim has taken them up, which is a sign that this acknowledgement of our ancestral guilt is reaching a critical threshold. Part of the repentance is fixing what our ancestors broke. As the parable of the prodigal son shows, if we start back to our Father, He will run to meet us.


1. Come, let us return to YHWH, because He has torn, but He will heal us; He will strike, but He will bandage us up.

Torn…strike: He has done these to us, but the main reason He can heal is that He has also done this to the Messiah, our innocent substitute. (Yeshayahu 53:4) After we have suffered for a while, He will repair us, make us stable, strong, and well-founded. (1 Kefa/Peter 5:10) 

2. He will bring us back to life after two days; on the third day He will raise us up, and we will be alive in His presence!

After two days: Psalm 90 says a day is like a thousand years. 2,000 years after Y’shua was stricken, YHWH’s anger is departing from Efrayim. The third day is the Messianic Kingdom. But it literally says, from a pair of days, perhaps owing to two of His feast days. Y’shua was also raised up on the third day as the firstfruits of His whole harvest.

3. So let’s know—let’s ardently press on to know YHWH! His coming out is as sure as the dawn, and He will come to us like the rain—like the latter and the former [rains]—onto the land.

Press on: literally, chase after. While He also says to be still and know that He is, and to relax in trusting Him, He will only be found by us if we search with our whole hearts. (Yimiyahu 29:13) His coming out is as sure as the dawn: or possibly, As sure as the dawn [we will] find Him. (The LXX supports this.) Latter rains: the spring rains which mature the crops in Israel. Former rains: literally, pouring rains, which follow hard on the heels of the fall festivals. But the word is also used (even more commonly) for “teach” or “instruct”, and is related to the word Torah. In fact, in Yoel 2:23, the word for “teacher” is used for “former rain”, and in the same sentence the parallel phrase “Teacher of Righteousness” is what YHWH says He will send. This is the one the Qumran sect described as the priestly Messiah, and is alluded to in Yochanan 11:28.

4. “O Efrayim, what can I do for you? O Yehudah, what can I do for you, when your faithfulness is like the morning fog and goes away like the early-rising mist?

Faithfulness: or virtue. Goes away: Aramaic, vanishes. It is here one minute, gone the next.

5. “Therefore I have chopped them down by the prophets; I have killed them with the utterances of My mouth, so your legal rulings might be a light that [shines] forth,

Chopped them: or, hewn; Aramaic, warned them; LXX, mown down your prophets. Killed: Aram., brought killers against. Your legal rulings… a light: or, My judgment [is] like a light. Yet, like those who did not come up to the assembly of Israel (Judges 21), they chose to stay in the darkness. (Compare Zech. 14:16-18 and the outer darkness during the Kingdom of which Y’shua spoke in several parables.)

6. “because faithfulness is what I wanted, and not [sacrificial] slaughter, and knowledge of Elohim more than ascending offerings!

Faithfulness: or mercy, courtesy. And not: a Hebrew idiom paralleling the “more than” in the next phrase. It does not mean He has changed His mind about what He commanded, but that His intent is to engender faithfulness (or mercy, lovingkindness) so that the sacrifices are not necessary. Y’shua quoted this verse to make His point in Mat. 9:13; 12:7. Compare YHWH’s words to King Sha’ul in 1 Shmuel 15:22, and Y’shua’s comparison of “drawing-near” offerings to our obligations to our fellow men (Mark 7:11). Also, He would rather we repent than that He have to slaughter us; He prefers to have mercy on us. Knowledge of: or intimacy with.

7. “Yet [even] they, just like Adam, have transgressed [the] covenant; they have acted treacherously against Me there!

Adam: or, perhaps, [all] humanity; Aramaic, like the former generations. The word for treacherously is the root for the word “garment” in Hebrew, for it was not until after Adam transgressed that he tried to clothe or cloak himself, for he felt the need to cover his guilt. Covenant: This includes the rulings of the prophets that clarify it. (v. 5)

8. “Gil’ad is a town of troublemakers, slippery from blood [tracked in by their feet],

9. “and just like marauding bands [of raiders] waiting in ambush for a man, a league of priests commit murder on the way to Sh’khem, since they have made mischievous plans.

As kings were blamed in the last chapter, now priests are reprimanded as well. On the way to Sh’khem: or, on the road by consent, for Sh’khem means “shoulder”, and by consenting to another’s sins, we “shoulder” the responsibility, being complicit to the sin. Like the watchmen on the wall (Yehezqel 33), the priests are among those most responsible for the welfare of Israel. Y’shua’s parable of the Samaritan who helped the man ambushed on the road by raiders (Luke 10:30ff) is an allusion to this verse, which also refers to the Northern Kingdom, of which Samaria (Shomron) was the capital. Sh’khem (Gk. Sykhar) is the first place outside Yehudah to which Y’shua went looking for the Lost Sheep of the House of Israel. (Yochanan 4) And like the second son in His parable who said he would not obey but ended up doing so (Mat. 21:28ff), the Samaritans ended up more responsive to Him, the man who descended and was wounded, than the priests and Levites did, though, called to take the place of the firstborn in Israel, they were coming down from Yerushalayim and were therefore meant to be serving their fellow Israelites. Thus, in this sense, they were murderers due to their neglect. They showed that they were But he proved more of an Israelite than they though they looked down on him as a half-breed. If we choose wisdom, our paths will be safe. (Prov. 3:19-23)  

10. “I have seen a horrifying thing among the House of Israel: there Efrayim has prostitution; Israel has defiled herself.

11. “Yehudah, too! A harvest-time is appointed for you when I turn back the captives of My people.”

A harvest-time: here, a both a negative “cutting off” and positive fruitfulness. When the “Fullness of the Gentiles” (Efrayim, the Northern Kingdom, according to Gen. 48:19) come back in, all Israel will be rescued. (Rom. 11:25) LXX, begin to gather grapes for yourself.


1. “When I wanted to heal Israel, then the twistedness of Efrayim was uncovered, along with the wickedness of Shomron, because they have committed fraud. While the thief comes inside, a marauding band makes a raid outside.

YHWH had set aside a time to heal Israel, but they revealed their true motives. This is the theme of the whole chapter. Shomron: Samaria, the capital of the Northern Kingdom. It means “chief watchman”. When the leaders have no integrity, the whole nation becomes corrupt.

2. “And they fail to consider in their innermost hearts that I remember all their wickedness. Now that their own practices have encircled them [hemming them in], they have come face to face with Me.

They assume He will have mercy; they speak of His grace as an excuse to go on sinning. But grace is not for those who reject His instruction (Torah). This approach to Him is what cost them their healing at that juncture. Thus he doubled their sentence. (Yirm. 16:18) After that, they began to respond, but again let Israel be co-opted by the nations’ interests, and their sentence was increased to seven times. (Lev. 26:24) Today, that sentence is up. We have another opening to respond correctly. Let us not waste it.

3. “They make a king glad with their wickedness, and princes with their deceptions.

4. “They are all adulterers, like an oven heated by a baker who stops stirring [the fire] after the dough has been kneaded until it is leavened.

Y’shua compared the Kingdom to leaven that permeates the whole lump of dough (Mat. 13:33), but there comes a time to stop the dough from rising, and this is accomplished by heating it. But if there is only a little heat, it makes it rise further (the reason many cooks set dough in the sun while it rises). It must be stoked to higher heat, or it will lose its shape and never stop being leavened. At a certain point the called-out community was no longer meant to keep growing, but to contract again back to the Land once the message of amnesty and the right to return reached all the lost sheep of the House of Israel. The Aramaic targum says they will go into exile because they hastened to fulfill their evil designs, and did not remember the miracles and mighty deeds done for them when they were brought up out of Egypt, the time the dough was kneaded before it was leavened.

5. “[On] a day of our king [whom] the princes have made sick with the raging of wine; he has dragged out his hand along with [arrogant] scorners,

6. “because they have brought their heart near like an oven while they lie in wait [to ambush]. Their baker sleeps all night; in the morning he starts burning [it] like a flaming fire.

If the bread is cooked at high heat after it has risen too far, it only bakes the crust solid and does not cook the inside well at all. Once Israel was fully given over to idolatry, it was too late to try to stop it; any attempt at this point only galvanizes its rebellion. Since the sin brought in was not burned out by the Torah, the lukewarm religiousness that remained only let the lawlessness fester. The church that it mushroomed into became unified in its Sunday worship, and when confronted about it now, it has this protective crust of tradition to hide behind.  

7. “They are all hot like an oven, and they devour their judges; all their kings have fallen; not one among them calls to Me.

Compare Daniel 3:22. Devour their judges: made them as corrupt as anyone else. Aramaic, with their lying tongues they pronounce their judges guilty.

8. “Efrayim is mixing himself [in] among the peoples; Efrayim is a cake not turned over.

Efrayim: the Aramaic targum comes right and says this is the House of Israel. Mixing himself: mingling so that the two are confused, indistinguishable from one another; we thus became Gentiles. Not turned over: Aramaic, eaten before it is turned. We celebrated who we were without paying the price. Thus we were “half-baked”. YHWH wants Israel to be a light to the nations, but we didn’t let Him finish making us mature before we exposed our pearls to the nations, and they trampled them underfoot. Now that we have the rest of the Gospel—that Y’shua came to restore all the tribes of Israel--we are being put back on the griddle so the light they “eat of” will be something holy. It is time to be mature, not children.

9. “Strangers have devoured his wealth, yet he does not recognize [this]; gray hairs are also sprinkled over him, but he does not know it.

Wealth: our being a light to the nations and the Kingdom with the name Israel. Since Efrayim had already made himself a stranger to YHWH, he no longer recognizes what is foreign. We cut deals with the Greek mindset and it consumed our identity, sapped our energy, and used up our glad tidings. Gray hairs: Aramaic, weakness. Israel thinks it is still attractive to other lovers. Yaaqov spoke of looking in the mirror of the Torah and forgetting our natural face—who we really are (Israelites). Here, they are not even looking in a mirror! Yet he is mature, meant to be a leader to the world, not taken advantage of by it.

10. “Israel’s pride is a witness in his face, yet amid all this they do not return to YHWH their Elohim, nor [even] ask about Him.

Pride: In Psalm 47, the Pride of Yaaqov means the Land of Israel. Now the Land is back in place, and is often in the forefront of the news media, yet most of the lost sheep of Israel are not getting the message that this means it is time to start turning back and preparing ourselves to be holy enough to live in it again. The remnant of Israel (its excellency, another way to render “pride” here) is also now coming to light befor ethe eyes of the rest of Israel that is still in the church or the world system. Ask about Him: or, seek Him.

11. “Efrayim has become like a naïve dove with no understanding. They have called to the Egyptians [for help, but] they had gone off to Ashur.

Naïve: or, open-minded, easily persuaded, silly, flitting back and forth aimlessly. They have been seduced by the idea that alliances with these great nations can benefit them. Aramaic, a senseless dove whose young have been taken away. Understanding: literally, heart.

12. “Whenever they go, I will spread My net over them; like the fowls of the sky I will bring them down. I will discipline them as a proclamation to their congregation.

Proclamation: or summons; literally, something to be heard. Bring them down: Aramaic, make them migrate. As a proclamation to their congregation: i.e., make an example of the; LXX, I will chasten them with the rumor of their coming affliction.

13. “Woe to them, because they have strayed from Me; devastation to them, because they have rebelled against Me! Though I wish to ransom them, they have spoken lies against Me,

Devastation to them: LXX, They are cowards. He would have brought the Kingdom to us long ago if we had only had the right attitude. (See Mat. 11:14; 23:37.) We kept saying things about Him that He never said; now that we have more light once again, we need to start telling the truth about Him and living it, and then He can start negotiations again.

14. “and have not cried out to Me from their innermost heart, because they want to howl on their beds about grain. They gather wine for themselves, but turn against Me. 

Have not cried…howl: Aramaic, they do not pray before Me; therefore they wail… They gather: LXX, they pined for oil and wine; Aram., because of the abundance of grain and wine which they have gathered, they rebel.

15. “Although I have intensely instructed them and strengthened their arms, they devise mischief against Me.

Devise mischief against Me: I.e., they use the training He gave them to His enemies’ advantage; alt., consider Me to be evil. The trials He uses to make us strong and ready for bigger responsibilities are regarded as ill-intentioned cruelty. So He postpones the redemption.  

16. “[When] they turn back, [it is] not upward; they have become like a slack bow. Their princes will fall by the sword due to the defiance of their tongues. [For] this they will be laughed to scorn in the land of Egypt.” 

Turned back (repented), but not upward; they did not take it to the highest level. A slack (or deceptive) bow will shoot, but not hit its target. Without the proper tension, it cannot be aimed rightly. Though we thought we were repenting toward YHWH, what we really were crying for was material provisions to benefit ourselves. Classic paganism is to appease a deity only enough to keep him off their backs and to get whatever they can from him in the process. How can He accept them back when this is the true state of their hearts? Defiance: or indignance; LXX, unbridled state; their rulings were based on their own hearts, not His instruction.  


1. A shofar to your palate! Like a bird of prey [I am swooping down] upon the House of YHWH on account of their crossing the boundaries of My covenant, and [because] they have rebelled against My Torah.

Judgment begins with the House of YHWH. The Aramaic interprets this swooping bird (eagle or vulture) as a king that will besiege the Sanctuary. Crossing the boundaries: the same word for being a Hebrew; the word here for rebelling also means trespassing. Once we have become Hebrews, if we cross back over, as reprobates (making forays back into what we came out of), we profane ourselves, making ourselves common again instead of holy (set apart for a special purpose). That is the theme of this chapter. Crossing back is to “un-hebraicize” ourselves, like those in the days of the Maccabees who had actually had operations to reverse their circumcision so they could compete in Greek games without seeming out of place.  

2. To Me Israel will cry out for help: “My Elohim, we have come to know You!”

 Aramaic: “Now we know that we have no other eloah besides You; deliver us, for we are Your people!”

3. Israel has rejected what is beneficial; the enemy will put him to flight.

Rejected: or cast off. (Compare v. 5) I.e., He will not listen, because they are hypocrites. LXX, they have pursued an enemy.

4. They have set kings in place, but not from Me. They have set princes in place, but I have not recognized [them]. Their silver and their gold have produced idols for them, in order that they may be cut off.

It had been His will to eventually give Israel a king, but they demanded to be like the other nations, racing ahead of His timing. The Northern Kingdom, having YHWH’s mandate only for its first king, continued this same practice.

5. Oh, Shomron! Your bull-calf has cast you off! My anger has grown hot against them; how long will they fail to attain [true] guiltlessness?

Fail to attain guiltlessness: or to reach childlike clarity, innocence, or the state of being clearly distinct (i.e., holy). LXX, be unable to purge themselves. They are still trying to see how much they can get away with, but is that a relationship? We cannot just be “saved” without changing. Your bull-calf: partly a reference to the two golden calves Yaravam had set up as alternative worship sites. A few years ago a picture appeared symbolizing the European Union, utilizing imagery from Greco-Roman mythology of a woman riding the back of a bull. It correlates with the vision in Revelation 17:7, 16 of the harlot riding the Beast which then bucks her off when he has used her. A bull also often represents commercial prosperity, with which we have too often become entangled. Pagan society does not really love YHWH’s people, even if they try to be part of its system.

6. Because even this is from Israel. The craftsman made it; it is not Elohim! Because the calf of Shomron will become splinters,

Will become splinters: LXX, was a deceiver.

7. because [if] they sow the wind, they will reap the whirlwind! He has not even a stalk [of standing grain]; what has grown will produce no flour. If it should [happen to] produce, foreigners will swallow it up.

Wind: LXX, blighted seed. Not even a stalk: LXX, a sheaf of grain will not be enough to make meal.  

8. Israel [herself] has been swallowed up! Now they have come to be among the Gentiles, like a tool without a purpose,

Among the Gentiles: They wanted to be just like the other nations of the world, rather than His special treasure. Tool without a purpose: or vessel in which there is no pleasure; an unacceptable utensil. YHWH does not need more ordinary tools; He has plenty, but since Israel made herself common (v. 10), He has no one to do the unique job He created her for, and she is useless for anything else.

9. because they themselves have gone up [to] Assyria. A wild donkey isolated to himself, Efrayim has hired paramours.

Wild donkey: Heb., pere, a word play on para (fruitful), the root for Efrayim’s name. Though once fruitful, he has become like Yishmael. (Gen. 16:12) Though a son of Avraham, he was undomesticated, not having the Torah. Aramaic, rebellious. Hired paramours: LXX, been strengthened against himself; they loved bribes.

10. Also, since they have hired [them from] among the nations, I will now gather them out, and they will become common, too few to carry the burden of the King of Princes.

Also since: or perhaps, even though… I will [re]gather them. The Aramaic interpretation takes this view on the condition that they set the fear of YHWH in their hearts and become even a little bit wiser. This reading does have a later reference, and is valid also, since Scripture’s ambiguities allow YHWH to make both happen, but the meaning for Hoshea’s contemporaries was purely negative. Gather them out: like the fruitless stalks of grain in v. 7. Become common, too few: or, begin to diminish again, i.e., become ordinary again instead of holy. To carry the burden: or too small to carry the King, i.e., ”falling short of His glory”, a vessel no longer fit for His service. This is the background for Romans 3:23. Our sins render us no longer fit for the holiest purposes until cleaned again. LXX, they shall cease a little to anoint kings and princes.

11. Since Efrayim has multiplied altars for [the purpose of] sin [offerings], they will become for him altars to sin [upon].

To sin upon: Aramaic, a snare.  

12. Though I write for Him ever so many things [about] My Torah, they are considered like a foreign thing.

Ever so many things: or, myriads of things; alt., great things. The more holy (set apart) we become, the more He teaches us, and the more things we realize we can no longer do, because we realize they are foreign to His way of thinking. But for many years the Church has considered the “Old Testament” a foreign thing, a thing of the past, something that just doesn’t fit with its culture of liberal grace. But if we are far away from Him, which of the two has been the one to leave?  

13. In My permissiveness, they slaughter and eat sacrifices, [but] YHWH does not accept them. Now He will remember their guilt, and call them to account for their missing of the target: they will go back to Egypt,

In My permissiveness: i.e., during the grace period offered while the Master was gone (Luke 12:45); or, as gifts ascribed to Me. Call them to account: It is one thing for Him to let many things slide when we are children, but when we are mature it is time to act that way. Back to Egypt: Though they were aiming for Assyria, they will end up at the target chosen by YHWH instead. If they do not appreciate His removing them from slavery, but prefer Gentile ways, why should He keep them from going back? Paul speaks of YHWH turning these “re-uncircumcised” ones over to a reprobate mind (Rom. 2:26), because they were no longer thinking like Israelites. Just being moral is not enough. Wrong moral definitions can actually keep us from obeying Torah. The meaning of Egypt in Hebrew is a place of distress, and they were certainly returned there, if not literally to Egypt.

14. because Israel has forgotten his Maker, and [has begun] building palaces, and Yehudah has caused inaccessible cities to multiply. But I have caused a fire to be sent upon his cities, and it has consumed her citadels.

Inaccessible cities: Y’shua accused Yehudah of tying heavy burdens on people and not lifting a finger to help them carry them. (Mat. 23:4) He contrasted His light burden (still a burden!) with theirs. But one day Yehudah will cease to oppress Efrayim. (Yeshayahu 11:13) Citadels: LXX, foundations.


1. O Israel, do not rejoice with gladness as the peoples [do], because you have played the prostitute, [going] away from your Elohim. You have had an appetite for a hire-price on every grain threshing floor.

With gladness: or, in a circle; toward the age. Other nations may be thoughtlessly merry, but Israel has cause for fear, for she has been cheating on her Elohim. A hire-price: i.e., a harlot’s fee, for they would place shrines to idols at the very places where they threshed grain, thus giving the idols credit for feeding them. It is supposed to be a place of separating the grain (i.e., making it holier), but “grain” here means “increase” and is related to Efrayim’s “multiplying like fish” (Gen. 48:16). Fish have been a symbol of Christianity, which is where Efrayim has increased, but has also become a place mixed with idolatry. Threshing floor: at root, a smooth place.

2. The threshing floor and the wine press will not nourish them, and the freshly-pressed wine in her will be disappointing.

Will be disappointing: Aramaic, will not supply their need. Freshly-pressed wine: or new wine, often a symbol of the New Covenant, but to those who seek it only for the treasure they can gain from it, it will prove elusive. The way it has now come to be defined fails us, because they have tried to take the laws out of it, and we cannot have a kingdom without laws, land, or a king.  

3. They will not dwell in YHWH’s Land; rather, YHWH will return Efrayim to Egypt, and shall eat unclean things in Ashur.  

In Ashur (Assyria): that is, during their exile there.

4. They will not pour out wine [as a libation] to YHWH, nor will they be pleasing to Him. Their [sacrificial] slaughters [will be] like the bread of sorrows to them. All who eat it will become ritually defiled, because their bread is for themselves; it will not come into the House of YHWH.

Be pleasing to Him: or, be accepted by Him. Bread of sorrows: or, mourners’ food. For themselves: Here is the key to the symbolism of ritual uncleanness; it represents that which is done only for self. Without community, this bread is not kosher for His altar. As “one bread” (1 Cor. 10:17), we partake of one another, but here the bread is not the Messiah; it has soured.

5. What will you do for the day of appointment and for the day of YHWH’s festival?

I.e., How will you make it to your mandatory appointments if you are in exile?

6. Because, look! They are gone on account of [the] devastation! Egypt will gather them up [and take them away]; Mof will bury them [en masse]. Weeds will seize possession of the things they took pleasure in for their silver; there will be bramble-bushes in their tents.

The devastation: Aramaic, plunderers. The pilgrim festivals and sacrifices are gone because the Temple is gone, fallen to the attack of foreigners. Egypt will gather them up: They were absorbed into Christopaganism, and bore its children (many new denominations which carry on their mother’s spiritual deadness), so there is no fruit unto Israel. Mof: Memphis, a capital of Lower Egypt located on the western bank of the Nile about 9 miles (15 km) south of Cairo. Things they took pleasure in: Aramaic, houses of silver. The securities that were put in the place of the awesome things YHWH gave us will actually hurt us. (For example, Christmas is the time with the highest suicide rate.) It is a struggle for the kingdom to grow: weeds and thorns are in the way, just as in Eden. So we need to reverse this downward progression.

7. The days of her reckoning have come; the days of full payback have arrived. Israel will recognize [that] the prophet is [acting the] fool; the spiritual man has gone mad over the extent of your perversity and your intense animosity.

Reckoning: calling to account, and consequent punishment. LXX, Israel shall be afflicted … like a man deranged. I.e., there is no more time to make things right. If we do not do so now while we are free to, we will find ourselves still searching for oil when the Bridegroom arrives. (Mat. 25)

8. The one who spies on Efrayim is with my Elohim; the prophet is the one who lays the baited trap on every one of his roads. [There is a scouring] animosity in the House of his Elohim.

YHWH is the one watching for ways to set traps for Efrayim so they will stop straying away.  

9. They have gone deep and brought corruption, as in the days of Giv’ah. He will remember their guilt; He will call them to account [for] their sin.

Days of Giv’ah: Probably an allusion to the events in Judges 19-21, which seem to be returned to over and over in Hoshea. They did not learn the lesson YHWH had already taught them there. They all partook of a piece of the defiled bread (v. 4), and began devouring one another (Gal. 5:15) as they done there, and the bitterness has spread like cancer, and is also their attitude toward YHWH for what He has allowed to happen to them. So like the concubine in Judges, He has divided them up and is ready to scatter them.  

10. I found Efrayim like grapes in the wilderness; at first their fathers appeared to Me [to be] like the first-ripe fruits of a fig tree. [But then] they came to Ba’al-Pe’or and consecrated themselves to a shameful thing, and they became [as] detestable as that which they loved.

Grapes in the wilderness: reminiscent of the great cluster brought back to Moshe from the Valley of Eshqol. (Numbers 13) He had great delight in them at first, like one who finds luscious fruit when very hungry. Ba’al-Pe’or: Where Bilaam had the Moavites seduce Israel into idolatrous orgies. Consecrated themselves: the same word as that of becoming a Nazirite; LXX, were shamefully estranged; Aramaic, attached themselves.

11. Efrayim is like a bird; their honor will fly itself away from the birthing, from the womb, and from conception.

LXX, Efrayim has flown away like a bird. Honor: or glory, importance, authority.

12. Even if they [manage to] rear their children to [the heights of] greatness, still I will bereave [so that] not a man [will be left], because, alas indeed for them when I turn away from them!

Lit., I will bereave them of a man. On the mystical level, this means there will be no unity, and they will no longer bear YHWH’s image, and what use is left for Israel if we do not? We only withhold the birthpangs of the Messiah.

13. Efrayim is as I saw Tzur—planted in a pleasant pasture, but Efrayim will bring forth his children for the killer. 

As I saw Tzur: Aramaic, When the congregation of Israel fulfills the law it is like Tzur in her prosperity and ease. But “the ruler of Tzur (Tyre)” is symbolic of Heylel (Lucifer, Yehezqel 28), described there in the same terms as the Bride of Messiah in Revelation 21, who replaces the first bride as Hadassah (Esther) did Queen Vashti, thrilling the heart of the king. Yet Efrayim is doing no better than killing their sons for the worship of idols.

14. Give to them, YHWH! What can You give? Give them a miscarrying womb and dried-up breasts!

The church’s attempts to reform have still not allowed her to escape paganism.

15. All their wickedness is in Gilgal, because there I came to hate them. On account of the wickedness of their practices I will expel them from My house. I will not add any more love to them; all their rulers are rebels.

Gilgal: where Shmuel the prophet was staying when Sha'ul (who was from Giv’ah) was to be made king, and where Sha'ul then disobeyed YHWH, forfeiting his kingdom. Love them: Aramaic, pity them.

16. Efrayim has been made to receive a blow; their root has been dried up. They will fail to produce offspring. Even if they should give birth [to a great extent], I will cause the beloved of their womb to perish.

Made to receive a blow: LXX, is sick. Beloved: their cherished offspring; Aramaic, choice ones.

17. My Elohim will repudiate them, because they did not obey Him, and they will become wanderers [chased about] among the nations. 

Since they wandered from Him, He will make them wander in the wilderness again, pursued again by Pharaoh. If we draw near to Him, He draws near to us; if we forsake Him, He forsakes us. Israel as a whole will all be rescued one day, but before that time, individual Israelites can perish if they repudiate their connection to Him.


1. Israel is a luxuriant vine; his fruit becomes just like him. In keeping with the abundance of his fruitfulness, he has multiplied altars; the richer his land, the more elaborate they have made their standing stones.  

Luxuriant: While it is an innate characteristic of Efrayim to be fruitful,and it is borne out by the context, still this term can also mean worthless, empty, rendered void; Aramaic, ravaged. Both were true from YHWH’s perspective, for the fruitfulness was being wasted on idols. Altars: understood to be pagan ones, but many were actually directed to the worship of YHWH. But once the Temple had been built, they were not to build altars anywhere else. (Compare Yehoshua 22:29) Hence, in YHWH’s eyes, they were as evil as if they were pagan. And in fact they became so. Standing stones: cult pillars placed beside pagan worship centers. They were actually phallic symbols, and they marked the place of a pagan temple. Stylized forms appeared as obelisks in Egypt and at the Vatican. When Constantine mandated that everyone in the Roman Empire must become a Christian, many temples were turned into churches, and the tall pillars placed on top for added visibility; we know them today as steeples.

2. Their heart is divided; now they will be held guilty. He will shear off [the tops of] their altars; He will violently destroy their standing stones.

Their heart is divided: This is what makes the difference in why He will no longer show them mercy. Notice that “heart “ is singular, when speaking of a plural group. This is the problem: their hearts are not united. This is why they were multiplying altars. Some even hired Levites as private priests. (Judges 19)

3. Because now they will say, “We have no king, since we did not fear YHWH; so what could a king do for us?”

They actually did have a king, but had no respect for him, because once they flouted the highest authority, what difference did it make if they had a figurehead? We gave up on even trying to get back to where we had been. In a similar way, many say in effect, “We cannot keep the whole Torah, so why bother trying to keep any of it?”

4. They have voiced promises, making an empty oath; he cut a covenant, so justice springs up like a poisonous weed in the furrows of the field.

Poisonous weed: Aramaic, I will bring, like the poison of venomous serpents, judgment for their falsehood on the boundaries of their fields (failing to leave gleanings for the poor). But the field belonged to YHWH (1 Cor. 3:9ff) since they had made an agreement. He takes our word seriously, even if we do not, so since they had given consent, He kept making His crops spring up where He wanted them, though they had set the field in order a different way.

5. For the female calves of Beyth-Aven will the inhabitants of Shomron [freeze with] fear, because its people will lament over them, along with those who grew emotionally agitated and rejoiced over its importance, because it has gone away from them.

Beyth-Aven: “house of vanity”, an epithet YHWH uses for Beyth-El, where Yarav’am set one of his alternative worship sites, since He did not want His name over such a site. The other altar, at Dan, has been rediscovered and partially reconstructed by archaeologists. It is as if every ancient spirit is being called upon for the final showdown with YHWH. Those who grew emotionally agitated: or, its pagan priests; LXX, as they provoked him.

6. It, too, will be carried away into Ashur, a tribute to the patron king. Efrayim will receive a shameful thing, and Israel will be ashamed because of his own advice.

Tribute: his robbery of its gold is facetiously described as a gift, but, following Y’shua’s advice to “render to Caesar what is Caesar’s”, we can only admit that what was idolatrous belonged to the emperor whose torch would be passed to Babylon, that quintessential kingdom of paganism. Patron king: or king of contention, or possibly simply a proper name, King Yarev.

7. Shomron is cut down; her king is like a twig on the surface of the water.

A twig: or possibly, foam. The Aramaic interprets it as meaning Shomron is ashamed of him.

8. Also to be annihilated are the cultic platforms of Aven, by which Israel misses the target; thornbush and thistles [are what] will ascend on their altars, and they will say to the mountains, “Cover us up!” and to the hills, “Fall on us!”

Ascend: a play on the typical description of how one would approach an altar. Cover us up: or conceal us. Y’shua quoted this last passage on His way to His death (Luke 23:30), and Rev. 6:16 places its time frame in the last days of this age when the great day of YHWH’s wrath comes. So we can deduce that this will still be going on in some manner among some of the people of the Northern Kingdom in the days ahead as Y’shua prepares to return.

9. Since the days of Giv’ah you have been sinning, O Israel. There they persisted; the battle against the sons of injustice has not [yet] overtaken them at Giv’ah.

Days of Giv’ah: probably another allusion to the event in Judges 19-21 where all of Israel united against the tribe of Binyamon—and lost, but rallied again and decimated them, bring chaos to Israel, their only unity being in the act of all but annihilating another tribe. LXX, from the time the hills came into existence. The Aramaic targum interprets this as meaning they were not worthy to again have a king established at Giv’ah as before (for it was King Sha’ul’s hometown). 

10. When I wish, then I will chastise them, and the peoples will be gathered together against them [to take them away] while they are harnessing themselves to both of their perversities.

Both perversities: or two [causes of] guilt, i.e., either the altars and standing stones of v. 1 or the two golden calves Yarav’am had set up at Dan and Beyth-El. Also compare Yirmiyahu 2:13, where two errors are brought to the charge of YHWH’s people: forsaking Him and establishing our own inferior ways.

11. Thus Efrayim is a heifer that is being trained, loving to tread out [grain]. But I have overtaken the beauty of her neck. I will [mount up and] make Efrayim to be ridden; Yehudah will plow, and Yaaqov will [intensely] break up the clods for him.  
Heifer being trained: i.e., having been harnessed to the two golden heifer-calves like a younger cow being trained to plow by an older one. All Efrayim was doing was learning the ways of the pagan nations. Alt., a trained heifer, i.e., one that no longer needs to wear a yoke, but he is eating the grain as he goes, including the poisonous weeds. Thus YHWH would rein him in again. Make Efrayim to be ridden: or make him pull the plow. Nations that conquered others would often harness the heifers and oxen of those they conquered and ride them. LXX, I will mount Efrayim, I will pass over Yehudah in silence; Yaaqov shall prevail against him.

12. Sow to righteousness for yourselves; reap for the mouth of lovingkindness. Break up your tillable soil, because it is time to resort to YHWH, until He comes and rains down righteousness for you.

Break up…soil: LXX, light for yourselves the light of knowledge. Compare the command to break up fallow ground in Yirmiyahu (Jer.) 4:3, so the word sown by the Son of Man can grow. Resort to: or frequent, tread a well-worn path to Him, perhaps a word-play on the imagery of plowing and treading out grain. Rains down righteousness: the former rains in the fall, just after the harvest, are the driving rains, and they are called the “teacher of righteousness” in Yoel 2:23. However, He does not wish to send the driving rain against us; if we made our own hearts pliable, He would not have to. (1 Cor. 11:31)

13. You have plowed wickedness; you have reaped violent deeds of injustice. You have eaten the insufficient fruit of leanness because you trusted in your way, in the abundance of your mighty [warriors].

Plowed: LXX, passed over in silence. Reaped violent deeds: YHWH said He would be as enthusiastic about this as He is about blessing us when we love Him. (Deut. 28:63)

14. So an uproar will arise among your countrymen, and all your fortified cities will be devastated, like Shalman’s destruction of Beyth-Arb’el in the day of battle; the mother was dashed in pieces over her children.

Shalman: “fire-worshipper”, a shortened version of the name of Shalmaneser, king of Assyria. Beyth-Arb’el: “Place of Elohim’s ambush”. LXX, as Solomon departed out of the house of Yarav’am.

15. He [will certainly] do the same to you, Beyth-El, due to the presence of your evil of evils. At dawn the king of Israel will be utterly cut off.

Beyth-El: This is literal poetic justice, considering its juxtaposition with Beyth-Arb’el, which simply adds one syllable.


1. When Israel was a youth, then I loved him; I called him out of Egypt to be My son.

2. They called to them, and accordingly they walked away from their presence; they make [them] slaughter [sacrifices] to Ba’als, and burn incense to carved images.

They called: Aramaic, I sent My prophets to teach them, but they went astray from them.

3. I even taught Efrayim to walk, taking them up by his arms, but they did not know that I was [the one] healing them.

Healing them: Aramaic, caring for them.

4. I drew them along with human cords, with bands of love; I became to them as those who raise a yoke on their jaws, and I held out to them an offer to feed them.

Human cords: or, pangs of Adam, which reminds us of the birthpangs of the Messiah, when the “one new man”, the second Adam, comes to completion (having begun as Y’shua, the head, forged the way). Bands of love: Aramaic, strong love. Raise a yoke on their jaws: i.e., to allow a hard-working animal to eat or have some relief from his labor; Aramaic, like a farmer who lightens the burden of the oxen, and loosens the bridle. LXX, striking another on the cheek; I will have respect to them.

5. He will not return to the land of Egypt; rather, the Assyrian is the one [who will be] his king, because they adamantly refused to repent.

6. The sword will whirl around in his cities, and will bring his isolated ones to an end, and consume them by means of the plans they themselves devised.

Isolated ones: or possibly, diviner-priests. “The one who separates himself is seeking his own lusts, and breaks out against all effective knowledge.” (Prov. 18:1)

7. Moreover, My people are sticking to their turning away from Me. Though they call out to the Elohim on high, all of them alike fail to lift Him up.

Sticking to: or, clinging to; Aramaic, undecided about returning to My law. Lift Him up: Aram., walk erect.

8. How can I give you up, Efrayim, [or] hand you over, Israel? How can I let you [become] like Admah, [or] treat you like Tzev’oyim? My heart is turned back against Me; all of My compassions alike have grown warm and tender.

Admah and Tzev’oyim: cities that were allied with S’dom and Ghamorah (Gen.14), and thus utterly destroyed with them, even their land still being unusable (Deut. 29:23). The LXX has more of a positive sense that He will indeed make them like this, being in a quandary over how to deal with them.

9. I will not carry out the fierce burning of My anger. I will not come back to ruin Efrayim, because I [Myself] am El, and not a man among you is holy; I will not enter the city.

Not come back: LXX, not abandon Efrayim to be utterly destroyed. I.e., He will not carry out the full extent of His plans, coming back to “finish him off”, since “He remembers that we are but dust.” (Ps. 103:14) Not a man …is holy: Alt., I am El, and not a man, the Holy One in your midst. Not enter the city: i.e., because no one could survive the intensity of His presence, since every one was unclean; Aramaic, never exchange Yerushalayim for another city. 

10. After YHWH they will walk; He will roar like a lion. When He roars, sons will come trembling from the west.  

Like a lion: is it Yehudah He uses to call us? That is certainly the case through Y’shua, the Lion of the Tribe of Yehudah. Trembling: LXX, be amazed. The west: or, the sea, an idiom for the Gentile world. The Aramaic targum takes this as the return of the exiles. 

11. “They will come trembling like a small bird from Egypt, and like a dove from the land of Ashur, and I will allow them to dwell in their houses”, declares YHWH.

Come trembling: Aram., like a bird that comes openly. Allow them to dwell: LXX, restore them to their houses.

12. [LXX; 12:1 in Hebrew] Efrayim surrounds Me with disappointment, and the house of Israel with crafty deceit, but Yehudah still roams with El, and is faithful with the holy things.

Roams: As anyone who has traveled with YHWH knows that, while His path is for the upright, the trail is rarely straight. We cannot tell where we are going, so we cannot make plans; the point is to stick with YHWH. He told our ancestors to collect things from the Egyptians. This made us prepared, but Moshe had no plan for how to get to the Promised Land. He followed the cloud, and all we could do was wander until we got there, but there were adventures at each turn that we never could have foreseen. Disappointment: or lies, particularly failure to do what one promised. Faithful: Thus someone from Yehudah (i.e., Yeshua) can serve as a kinsman redeemer for Efrayim, still having his feet firmly planted within the covenant.


1. [2 in Heb.] Efrayim feeds on wind and chases after the east wind. All day he multiplies falsehood and violence; they will cut a covenant with Assyria, and [they cause] oil to be taken into Egypt.

Wind: or spirit. One of the characteristics of Efrayim, as housed in the church, has been to spiritualize Scripture, including the salvation which for Israel will one day be a very physical thing as well. Holiness cannot be something only in one’s heart; we either live it out or we do not have it in any practical way. The spiritual realm is not meant to be separated from the physical, or we are simply hypocrites with no substance; we are malnourished. Efrayim is trying to put YHWH in a box, having it all figured out, so that we can then relax and do what we want. For all of Yehudah’s flaws (v. 2), it, in contrast with Efrayim, has focused on walking (11:12) Chases after the east wind: or, persecutes the ancient spirit (pursuing it with hostility). The church has often been guilty of persecuting those who follow the Torah, though Yeshua commanded us to keep it. The east wind is also what brought many of the plagues into Egypt. It caused the blight in Pharaoh’s dream, and it formed the path through the Reed Sea. Cut a covenant: trying to find a visible security, when YHWH has called us to trust Him. We were trying to catch something that would come back and bite us; Assyria ended up being what did us in as a nation.

2. YHWH also has a case against Yehudah, and will bring punishment upon Yaaqov according to his ways; He will repay him according to his [bad] habits.

Yaaqov: here equated with the southern kingdom of Yehudah in particular. They do not have it all together either, but at least they are still walking with YHWH. (11:12)  

3. In the womb he took his brother by the heel, and contended successfully with Elohim.

4. Indeed, he prevailed in regard to the messenger, and overcame; he shed tears, and pleaded with Him to show favor. At Beyth-El he encountered us, and there he spoke with us--

By treating his brother badly, as necessary as it may have been at that time to preserve the integrity of Yitzhaq’s household, and by fighting the will of YHWH Himself, Yaaqov incurred consequences that Yehudah, by identifying with Yaaqov, is now responsible to deal with. (By taking on the name Israel again, we also need to know what we are getting into. The deceptiveness and arrogance that we share with Yaaqov must eventually be dealt with. The blessing that came from all of this far outweighs the issues we have to answer for--for Moshe also argued with YHWH and made Him change His mind, with positive results--but we still have his limp, which reminds us that our walk is not perfect.) Us: Elohim as both the messenger and the One who sent Him:

5. that is, YHWH the Elohim of armies; YHWH is how He is [to be] remembered.

6. So you must return to your Elohim; preserve mercy and right legal rulings, and place your eager expectation constantly toward your Elohim.

Right legal rulings: or justice/judgment, i.e., not getting away with what we should not. As with Zakkai (Luke 19), our salvation must include a return to these. Eager expectation: at root, the term means “binding together”—of ourselves as members of His one body, and of justice and mercy, the opposite sides that work together when in true balance: 

7. [Yaaqov is] a merchant; misleading balances are in his hand; he loves to oppress [by extortion].

Misleading balances: false scales or deceitful measures. The justice of v. 6 is diametrically opposed to the condition Yaaqov was in. Psalm 62 ties trusting in oppression to get us our wealth with going up on the scales—that is, being outweighed even by worthless things. In our day we must look at the church as well as rabbinic Judaism to see what this means. Both weigh things by the wrong measures, defining wrongly what the true wealth is (Rev. 3:17-20), and thus deceiving themselves into being able to claim what is not really true:

8. Yet Efrayim was saying, “Nonetheless, I have become rich! I have acquired wealth for myself! [In] all that I have worked for, they will detect no guilt that is punishable.”

Even if he earned all this wealth honestly, still, as Mammon, it was a rival to YHWH (see 13:6):

9. But I am YHWH, your Elohim since the land of Egypt. I will again make you dwell in tents, as in the days of the appointed [feast].

Again make you dwell in tents: in the wilderness during the time of Yaaqov’s trouble, when all Israel will be reunited prior to re-entering the Land. (Dan. 11:41; Rev. 12:13-17; Mk. 13:14; Yehezq. 37:24; Yeshayahu 16:1-5) I.e., He will remove us from all this wealth gained in our exile and bring us back to where we were really meant to be as a people set apart unto Him. In tents: symbolizes both study of Torah and a people at war, when we do not build our own houses, and those concerned with wealth stay home and are thus not counted among the numbers of Israel. The root word for tent means clear or easy to distinguish. Being in tents also reminds us of the wilderness wanderings, and thus we will become more like what pleased YHWH about Yehudah (11:12), and through it find a way to again walk with YHWH. Appointed feast: chiefly referring to Passover, when YHWH brought Israel out “by armies” in a camp that looked like Pharaoh’s war camp, and was thus it was easy to tell that they were set apart unto a particular purpose. He brought them out to a place where they could see who they really were, and where they learned Torah, which define what mercy and justice are. By guarding these and by having proper measures we can find our way back to that place of truly being Israel again. But another appointed feast is Sukkoth, in which Israel is commanded to dwell in temporary shelters, specifically because YHWH had Israel dwell in temporary shelters when they came out of Egypt. (Lev. 23:42-43) Thus tents are included in this category, for that is what they lived in then. Temporary shelters bespeak the fact that we value where we are going more highly than being settled and satisfied in our exile.

10. I have also spoken through the prophets. I Myself have even caused [prophetic] visions to multiply, and am using comparisons via the hand of the prophets.

11. If Gil’ad is perverse, then they have [indeed] come to nothing. In Gilgal they have slaughtered bulls; in addition, their altars are like heaps [of stones] in the furrows of the field.

Gil’ad and Gilgal were two of the most idolatrous places in Israel at this time.

12. [13 in Heb.]  So Yaaqov fled [to the] field of Aram, and for a wife Israel labored for another, and for a wife he kept watch.

Kept watch: spent cold, sleepless nights watching over Lavan’s sheep. (Gen. 31:38-41)  When he left, he came back to Gil'ad (mentioned in v. 11) and Lavan (the "other" for whom he had worked) caught up with him there and they heaped up stones as a witness to their treaty.  That may be why this verse is juxtaposed with the previous one, despite the seeming change of topic.

13. Both by a prophet did YHWH bring Israel up from Egypt, and by a prophet He was watched over.  

Watched over: or guarded, but this parallels Yaaqov’s keeping watch in v. 12 (the same Hebrew word).

14. Efrayim has provoked [Me] to anger most bitterly, so He will leave his blood on him, and allow his disgrace to return to him.

His blood: possibly bloodguilt; compare Yehezq’El (Ezekiel) 16:6, where Yerushalayim’s blood is washed off, and 11:12 above which shows that Yehudah (where Yerushalayim is) was counted less guilty than Efrayim, though YHWH had a quarrel with Yehudah too (v. 2).  


1. When Efrayim spoke [with] trembling, he was a support in Israel, but when he [began to] transgress in [regard to] Ba’al, he [began to] die.

Was a support: or, was exalted. At that time, the only thing he feared was YHWH. Why did it change? Because through our words we open and close doors in the spiritual realm. When one converts to a new religion, he learns new words specific to that religion in another language. Even if we thought we were still worshipping Him, when YHWH began to be called “God”, credit was actually going to another deity, named Ba’al-Gad, or “Lord of Luck”.  

2. And now they are adding to their sin [more and more], and have made for themselves a cast image from their silver—[vexing] idols according to their skill, all the work of craftsmen. They say, “Let the men who make sacrifices kiss calves!”

Their skill: or, their own understanding. (Compare Prov.3:5) In this case, many individuals were making their own miniature models of the two golden calves Yarav’am had set up, crafting them according to their own liking. We later ended up making crucifixes that looked like a particular Greek general. Instead, we should “kiss the son” (Psalm 2:12).  

3. Therefore they will become like the morning clouds, and like the early dew that goes away, like chaff driven off a threshing-floor by a storm-wind, and like smoke from the chimney.

I.e., they will not last long. Compare Yaaqov (James)’s words about the rich. (Yaaqov 1:11)

4. But I Myself am YHWH, your Elohim since the land of Egypt, and you shall be intimately acquainted with no elohim save only Me, because except for Me there is no Savior.

5. I became intimately acquainted with you in the wilderness, in the land of flame-dry drought.

6. When they [were given] pasture, they were satisfied with it; they were satisfied, and their heart was lifted up. That is why they have forgotten Me.

Given pasture…satisfied: they had eaten their fill. Heart: the ancient Egyptians, by whom the Israelites were very much influenced, regarded the stomach as the seat of intelligence, and is related to what motivates us—i.e., what we want. There is something to this. Dan Hurley, in a Psychology Today article called “Your Backup Brain”, writes that the enteral (gastrointestinal) nervous system can operate independently of the brain and “sends signals north to the brain that directly affect feelings of sadness or stress, even influence memory, learning, and decision-making”. Neurohormones in our gut can affect how our brain processes emotions, and the types of foods we take in can even limit how melancholy we can get. Israel was thus indeed “thinking with their belly”. Bellies full, they no longer felt any twinge of guilt at what they were doing. British entertainer Jerome K. Jerome said, “People who have tried it tell me that a clear conscience makes you very…content, but a full stomach does the business quite as well, and it is cheaper and more easily obtained!” It is not by accident that one of the first changes people make when taking on a Torah lifestyle is to change their diet. When we stop eating blood, it can make us less animal-like, able to stop to think before responding rather than being as hot-headed. Forgotten: or ignored, misplaced the value of. YHWH risked much by bringing Israel from the constant dependence on Him in the wilderness to a Land full of plenty. They became comfortable, and thought they no longer needed Him, or at least took Him for granted. (Compare Prov. 30:8.) They traded the intimate knowledge of Him for a fragmented approach that, like the forbidden tree in the Garden, seeks to have His attributes independent of a relationship with Him. He does not want us to stop with being “like” Him; He wants us to know Him intimately, and sometimes that means just enjoying His presence, which goes far beyond the sum of its parts.  

7. So I will become like a fierce lion to them; I will lie in wait for them by the path like a leopard.

8. I will meet them like a bear robbed of her cubs, and I will tear away the encasement of their heart. Then, like a great lion, I will devour them there; the animal of the field will rip them to pieces.

Animal: literally, living thing. Yeshua said the field represents the world (Mat. 13:38), so we could say the life of the world is what divided Efrayim in many directions. Y’shua said the cares of this world would make us miss what He has for us. (Luke 21:34) Also, compare His warning about casting our pearls before swine. (Mat. 7:6)

9. O Israel, you have been ruined, because your help is in Me.

10. Where is your king now, or [anyone] in any of your cities who will rescue you? And [where are] your judges, of whom you said, ‘Give me a king and princes’?

11. I will give you a king in My anger, and take him away when My fury overflows.

12. Efrayim’s perversity is tied shut; his sin is hidden from being discovered.

Rachel hid her idols; her descendants must repair this breach by confession and repentance.

13. The pangs of a woman giving birth will come to him; he is an unwise son, because he should not endure long in the [place where] children break forth.

Being “born again” is just entering the initial gates; it is the kindergarten of our return to YHWH. It may be comfortable, safe, and warm (v. 6), but there is no maturity in it. So He will put more pressure on us like a mother giving birth, so that the baby will not die where there is no air. At every stage we need to continue to be unsatisfied, so we can keep progressing, for Israel cannot be fully restored until we reach maturity in all our Father’s characteristics (Eph. 4:13): holiness, righteousness, and judgment as well as mercy.

14. From She’ol’s hand I will ransom them; I will redeem them from death. Where are your plagues now? O She’ol, where is your destruction now? Regret will be hidden from My eyes.

Regret: or comfort, pity, consolation.

15. Though he is fruitful among his brothers, an east wind will come; the wind of YHWH is coming up from the wilderness. Then his source of life will become ashamed, and his wellspring will be dried up. He will plunder the treasurehouse of all desirable articles.

An east wind: what blighted the crops in Pharaoh’s dream. (Gen. 41:23) But “an east wind” also means “an ancient spirit” and it comes from the wilderness, where we had the greatest intimacy with YHWH in our history. Efrayim’s name means “doubly fruitful”, and indeed he has gained wealth commensurate with his name. But it has made us wander from Him, and like everything natural, it has its limits and after a point can no longer deliver anything worthwhile. So He will take away all that is unnecessary and bring us back into the wilderness again so we might realize what is truly important. (2:14; Yehezq’El 20:35) Those who refuse this option will face a grim alternative:

16. Shomron will be held guilty, because she has rebelled against her Elohim; they will fall by the sword. Their babies will be dashed to pieces, and their pregnant women ripped open.

Be held guilty: or, become desolate. Both would be the case.


1. Return, O Israel, to YHWH your Elohim, because you have stumbled in your perversity!

2. Take words with you and return to YHWH. Say to Him, “Take it all away (perversity) and lay hold of [what is] agreeable, as we repay [with] the bulls of our lips.

Words: Not excuses, but His own words of instruction so that He can be sure we understand why what we did was wrong. What destroys more relationships (whether between spouses or nations) is poor communication, so it helps to repeat His words back to Him to show that, despite many distractions and the opinions in our own heads, we really heard what He said. The context is our seeing idols as our Savior, so we can bring back His words that say He is the rock of our deliverance. (e.g., Ex. 20:1-3; Deut. 32:3ff) Take…away: the word order in Hebrew seems to imply that if we “all take away our perversity” and make restitution, YHWH may accept what little of value we have left. Bulls of our lips: the words mentioned earlier in the verse. With no temple intact and being in exile, this is all Efrayim has available to bring to YHWH as an acceptable sacrifice. (Compare Rom. 12:1-2.) It is far from ideal, but we are in such a position that it is all we have to offer. Yet still, a bull represents the best we have, so when we come saying, “I am wrong”, we cannot bring cheap or worthless things that cost us little. Lay hold of: or accept. At Hanukkah (the time of rededication) in 2010, this translator was part of a contingent of Israelites, mostly from the Northern Kingdom, who went back to the site of one of Yaravam’s altars (Dan) and verbally renounced this error of our ancestors using these very verses. May this small-scale repentance have farther-reaching effects for all Israel so that its intent may be realized!

3. “Ashur will not save us. We will not ride on a horse, nor shall we any longer call the work of our hands ‘our elohim’; You are the one in whom the fatherless finds compassion.”

A horse: paralleling Ashur (Assyria), this is one of the things Israel tended to trust in (for military security) instead of YHWH. Fatherless: the Northern Kingdom in particular, who until now had forgotten who our ancestors were. (Compare Mal’akhi 4:5-6.)

4. I will heal their apostasy; I will love them freely, because My anger has turned back from him.

Freely: or willingly.

5. I will become like the dew to Israel; he will blossom like the lily, and send out his roots like Levanon.

Dew: a gentle, not harsh, watering. The root word for “dew” means “to cover over”. Lily: possibly narcissus or daffodil; a six-petalled flower sometimes called the “rose of Sharon”, though it is not a rose.

6. His shoots will go forth, and his splendor will become like an olive tree, and his scent like Levanon to Him.

Shoots will go forth: Since this is speaking of Efrayim, it is an allusion to Yaaqov’s promise that Yoseyf’s branches would stride across a wall. (Gen. 49:22) Splendor: majesty or vigor. The scent of Levanon would be the pleasant fragrance of cedar trees, from which King Shlomoh built the interior of YHWH’s sanctuary, the place of intimacy designed by David, the man after His own heart, so this is the aroma of the golden age when all of Israel is united.

7. Those who dwell under his shade will come back; they will cause the grain to revive and spread like the vine. They will be remembered like the [effervescent] wine of Levanon.

Under his shade: benefiting from the ways of Israel. Since the whole passage is addressed to Israel, these others may be the “companions” of the House of Israel. (Yehezqel 37:16) Come back: to the Land, and to the Hebraic heritage. Spread: reminiscent of Yaaqov’s blessing on Yosef (Gen. 49:22), the ancestor of the Northern Kingdom. Y’shua called himself a vine. (Yoch. 15)

8. Efrayim [says], “What do I have to do with idols anymore?” I have answered him and looked after him. I am like a flourishing cypress tree; your fruit has been attained from Me.

Idols: with the nuance of “tortured”; the most salient example that comes to mind is the crucifix. YHWH is a living tree to us; why do we need a dead one that focuses our attention on a death that has been overridden? He will treat the House of Yoseyf as if we had never gone astray, so why should He even want a reminder that He had to redeem us? (Zkh. 10:6) Flourishing: luxuriant, ever-fresh, or green. There is no need for cut-down trees to be in our homes anymore! Cypress: not the type that grows in American swamps, but the tall, narrow evergreen that grows in the Land of Israel and is seen quite commonly in southern California, which has much the same climate. Fruit has been attained from Me: anything worthwhile that we have accomplished has been His gift and at root His doing. (Eph. 2:8-10)

9. Who is wise and will understand these things? [Who is] discerning and will recognize them? Because the ways of YHWH are straightforward, and the righteous will walk in them, but those who rebel will stumble over them.

Who is wise: and anyone who asks can be. (Yaaqov/James 1:5) These things: the restoration and return of the House of Israel, and what it takes to bring it about. Straightforward: level, correct, straight, fitting, proper, upright—not crooked in any way. Rebel: revolt or overstep, i.e., leaving the path through either carelessness or willfulness. The rebels are still affected by the Torah; they still receive a warning, which means they can still be redeemed. Those who are wholly wicked will simply ignore it.
 INTRODUCTION:  Hoshea prophesied around the eighth century B.C., after the division of the Kingdom into Israel and Yehudah. His own life story, as recounted here, is an allegory about the Northern Kingdom, often known as Efrayim for short, because its first king (Yarav’am, but not the same one mentioned in 1:1), who led the secession from Yehudah, was from that tribe. In actuality, it was Yehudah that seceded, because the other tribes all gave Rehav’am (son of Shlomo) an opening to improve upon his father’s treatment of their laborers, but he refused. YHWH said the kingdom was being torn from him; only David’s throne remained to him, along with one additional tribe. 
Chapter 1            Chapter 8

Chapter 2            Chapter 9

Chapter 3            Chapter 10

Chapter 4            Chapter 11

Chapter 5            Chapter 12

Chapter 6            Chapter 13

Chapter 7            Chapter 14
12:13-14:10 is a haftarah 
(companion passage) to 
Torah Portion VaYetze'
2:1-22 is a haftarah 
(companion passage) to 
Torah Portion B'Midbar
14:1-9 is a haftarah 
(companion passage) to 
Torah Portion HaAzinu