Hosea 5

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  • Hosea 5:1.
  • Masoretic Text: Hear this, priests, and take heed, house of Israel; and house of the king, lend ears. For to you [is] the judgment, for a snare you were to Mizpah and a net spread over Tabor.

    Septuagint: Hear these [things], priests, and take heed, house of Israel; and house of the king, give ear. For to you is the judgment, because a snare you have become to the lookout and like a net spread out upon the Itabyrion,


    Translators basically convey two very different meanings for the words “for to you is the judgment.” (1) The adverse judgment is directed against the priests, the house of Israel, and the royal house. “Hear this, O priests, pay attention, O house of Israel, O household of the king, give ear! It is you who are called to judgment.” (NAB) “Hear this, O priests! Give heed, O house of Israel! Listen, O house of the king! For the judgment pertains to you.” (NRSV) (2) Priests, the house of Israel, and the royal house were responsible to uphold justice. “Listen, you priests! Pay attention, Israel! Listen, you members of the royal family. Justice was your duty.” (CEV) “Hear this, O priests, attend, O House of Israel, and give ear, O royal house; for right conduct is your responsibility! (Tanakh) It does appear, however, that the words that follow present the reason for the judgment. This aspect would favor a rendering that warns of impending adverse judgment from YHWH.

    The name “Mizpah” denotes “lookout” or “watchtower,” and this explains the reason for the reading of the Septuagint. In the Septuagint, the usual designation for “Tabor” is “Thabor.” This makes it difficult to determine why the name “Itabyrion” appears here.


    The priests being addressed are not men of the house of Aaron, but men officiating at Dan and Bethel (the centers for calf worship in the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel) and at other sites where various deities were venerated. At times, the expression “house of Israel” denotes the representative members of the nation or those responsible for administering affairs. The serious sin with which this verse concludes does suggest that this is the case here. It does not appear that, collectively, all members of the ten-tribe kingdom would be spoken of as having become a snare to Mizpah and a net to Tabor. Seemingly, all—the priests, leading members of the realm, and the royal house—were being put on notice that YHWH’s adverse judgment would be visited upon them.

    Mizpah and Tabor may have been prominent sites for idolatrous worship. Another possibility is that the two locations were representative of the entire ten-tribe kingdom, with Mizpah being representative of the area east of the Jordan and Tabor being representative of the territory west of the Jordan. Mizpah was probably the city in Gilead located south of the Jabbok. From the valley of Jezreel, Tabor, an isolated eminence, rises to a height of well over 1,800 feet above sea level.

    The sense in which the priests, the leading members of the realm, and the royal house served as a snare and a net is not specifically stated. Probably this was by their active support of idolatry. The very ones responsible for directing the people to noble ends would thus have been guilty of making Mizpah into a snare and spreading a net over Tabor. Few Israelites escaped succumbing to the pressure to conform to the prevailing idolatrous spirit and the allurement to engage in idolatrous practices. Therefore, the coming of YHWH’s adverse judgment was a certainty.

  • Hosea 5:2.
  • Masoretic Text: And [in] slaughtering the revolters have gone deep. And I [administer] discipline to all of them.

    Septuagint: which the ones ensnaring the prey have fastened. But I [am] your discipliner.


    In the Masoretic Text, the first part of the verse is somewhat obscure. The result has been a variety of renderings, including ones based on conjectural emendations.

    “...and a pit dug deep in Shittim” (NRSV) Based on an emendation, this reading depicts means for capturing victims at a third center devoted to idolatrous worship. Similar is the paraphrase, “At the place of worship you were a treacherous pit.” (CEV)

    “In their perversity they have sunk into wickedness, and I am rejected by them all.” (NAB) This rendering basically is a rewrite of the Masoretic Text.

    The Tanakh rendering is closer to the present Masoretic Text but includes interpretive elements. “For when trappers dug deep pitfalls, I was the only reprover of them all.”

    With and without interpretive elements, a number of translations have maintained the basic wording of the Masoretic Text. “The rebels are deep in slaughter.” (NIV, NJB) Die Abtrünnigen schlachten im Verborgenen (The revolters slaughter in secret). (Schlachter, German)


    The “revolters” are evidently those who rebelled against YHWH, turning their backs on him to pursue idolatry. Murder was one of the grievous sins that appears to have become common in the ten-tribe kingdom. (Hosea 4:2; 6:9) Possibly the slaughtering has reference to “murder,” and “going deep” could express the extreme depravity to which the guilty ones had sunk. If, however, the closer link is to idolatry, the phrase about “slaughtering” could point to the rebels’ “deep” or extensive involvement in “slaughtering” animals for sacrifice to lifeless deities. Also included could have been the abhorrent practice of child sacrifice. (Compare Ezekiel 23:36-39.)

    According to the reading of the Septuagint, the net spread over Tabor had been fastened by those ensnaring the prey. Those caught in the “net” would have been all who became involved in idolatrous practices. The most powerful and influential members of the ten-tribe kingdom gave full support to idolatry and so were responsible for firmly fixing the ensnaring net that kept the deluded people in the state of helpless prey.

    The Masoretic Text and the Septuagint convey the same meaning for the remainder of this verse. YHWH is the discipliner of his people. As such, he would take decisive action against the guilty ones.

  • Hosea 5:3.
  • Masoretic Text: I know Ephraim, and Israel is not concealed from me. For now you have whored, Ephraim; Israel is polluted.

    Septuagint: I have known Ephraim, and Israel is not absent from me. For now Ephraim has whored; Israel has been polluted.

    Note: In the Septuagint, the word corresponding to the Hebrew term for “hidden” or “concealed” is ápeimi, meaning “to be far away,” “far from,” or “absent.” The thought of the Greek reading appears to be that YHWH is not far away or absent so as to be unaware of what is taking place.


    Ephraim and Israel are parallel designations, with Ephraim (as the dominant tribe) representing Israel or the ten tribes of the northern kingdom. YHWH had complete knowledge about Ephraim’s or the people’s attitudes, words, and actions. Nothing about Israel was hidden from God’s penetrating vision. Through involvement in idolatry, Ephraim (the people of the ten-tribe kingdom collectively) had whored, proving unfaithful to the covenant relationship with YHWH. Instead of being clean from God’s standpoint, Israel was defiled or polluted.

  • Hosea 5:4.
  • Masoretic Text: Their practices do not permit them to return to their God, for a spirit of whoredom [is] in their midst, and YHWH they do not know.

    Septuagint: They have not given their deliberations to return to their God, for a spirit of whoredom is in them, but the Lord they have not known.

    Note: Both the Masoretic Text and the Septuagint use a form of the verb for “give,” with the Hebrew word being used in the sense of permitting or allowing. The Septuagint reading suggests that the people gave no thought to returning to their God, whereas the Masoretic Text may be understood to mean that they were unwilling to give up the God-dishonoring practices that stood in the way for their return.


    As a people, the Israelites were unwilling to change their ways. They were so steeped in their idolatrous practices and the debauchery associated therewith that they simply could not repentantly return to YHWH and conform their lives to his upright ways. A spirit of whoredom (a dominant inclination to pursue the worship of fertility gods and others deities) had taken possession of them. They did not “know” YHWH in the sense that they did not acknowledge their accountability to him and conduct themselves accordingly. They acted as if YHWH did not exist.

  • Hosea 5:5.
  • Masoretic Text: And the pride of Israel testifies to his face, and Israel and Ephraim will stumble in their iniquity; Judah also will stumble with them.

    Septuagint: And the arrogance of Israel will be humbled to his face, and Israel and Ephraim will stumble in their iniquities, and Judah will also stumble with them.

    Note: The Hebrew word kashál means “stagger,” “stumble,” or “totter.” In the Septuagint, the corresponding term asthenéo often denotes “to be weak” or “to be sick” but can also signify “to stumble” or “to fall.”


    In view of the context, the “pride,” “insolence,” or “arrogance” of Israel (collectively, the people of the ten-tribe kingdom) likely relates to their stubbornly refusing to humble themselves, turning a deaf ear to the appeals YHWH directed to them through his prophets, and giving not the slightest consideration to repentance so as to regain a proper relationship with YHWH their God. According to the reading of the Masoretic Text, this pride served as a testimony to Israel, a testimony that was right in front of their face. The expression “to his face” could also be understood to mean “against Israel,” which is the sense conveyed in numerous translations. According to the Septuagint reading, the pride of Israel would be humbled or abased before “his face” or before the people’s eyes.

    Israel (the ten northern tribes) and Ephraim (the dominant tribe of the ten-tribe kingdom and often representing the entire realm) would, on account of their iniquities (their flagrant violations of God’s commands), stagger, weaken, or stumble. Theirs would prove to be a serious crash. This did occur when the Assyrian forces invaded and devastated the territory of the ten-tribe kingdom. Judah also experienced stumbling, as the Assyrians wreaked havoc in the two-tribe kingdom. (2 Kings 15:19, 20, 29; 16:7-18; 17:3-6; 18:13-15)

  • Hosea 5:6.
  • Masoretic Text: With their flock and with their herd, they will go to seek YHWH, but they will not find [him]. He has withdrawn from them.

    Septuagint: With sheep and calves, they will go to seek the Lord and definitely not find him, for he has turned away from them.


    While the Septuagint rendering is “sheep,” the term in the Masoretic Text denotes “flock,” including both sheep and goats. Similarly, the Septuagint has the more specific term “calves,” whereas the corresponding word in the Masoretic Text means “herd” or “cattle.”

    The two distinct words for “not” in the Septuagint express intensity and denote “by no means,” “absolutely not,” or “definitely not.”


    The ones seeking YHWH are not specifically identified. Both the people of the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah could be included. Based on the immediate antecedent in the previous verse, however, the reference would be to the people of Judah. This would also agree with the later statement (Hosea 7:10) that the people of Israel had not sought YHWH.

    Like the Israelites in the ten-tribe kingdom, the people of the two-tribe kingdom of Judah had seriously failed to live up to their covenant obligations. YHWH, therefore, could not look with any favor upon their offerings. Although the people came with sheep, goats, and cattle to present as sacrifices at the temple in Jerusalem, this was but an empty ritual. Their attempt to “seek” YHWH, wanting his help, favor, and protection, was insincere. It was not accompanied by conduct that he approved. (Isaiah 1:11-17) As a result, he would remain hidden to them or impossible for them to find. YHWH would simply not be there for them in their time of need. As he had withdrawn or turned aside from the people, they would be left without his aid, blessing, and protection.

  • Hosea 5:7.
  • Masoretic Text: Against YHWH they have acted treacherously, for they have borne alien sons. Now the new moon will consume them with their portions.

    Septuagint: For they have forsaken the Lord, for alien children have been born to them. Now blight will consume them and their portions.


    The reading of the Masoretic Text is obscure, requiring the introduction of interpretive elements in an effort to convey something meaningful. The Hebrew word chódesh means either “new moon” or “month,” and the Hebrew term chéleq denotes “portion,” “share” (Genesis 14:24; Deuteronomy 18:8; 1 Samuel 30:24), or a “tract” or portion of land, particularly a hereditary possession. (Joshua 18:5-9) In the Septuagint, the corresponding term for chéleq is kléros, meaning “share,” “portion,” “inheritance,” or “tract” of land.

    Based on the meanings “month” and “tract” of land, a number of translations interpretively render the second part of the verse as meaning that the lands or possessions of the people would be destroyed within a short time. “So now they and their lands will soon be destroyed.” (GNT) Darum werden sie in kürzester Zeit vernichtet— mit allem, was ihnen gehört. (Therefore, they will soon be destroyed—with everything that belongs to them.) (German, Hoffnung für alle)

    If, however, the meanings “new moon” and “portion” (as a “portion” of food) are retained, a very different significance is possible. Ihre Opferfeiern am Neumondstag bringen ihnen nicht Erntesegen, sondern Vernichtung, ihnen und ihren Feldern! (Their sacrificial festivals on the day of the new moon do not bring them a harvest blessing, but destruction, to them and their fields!) (German, Gute Nachricht Bibel)

    Instead of “new moon” or “month,” the Septuagint reads erysíbe, meaning “blight” or “mildew.” It appears that the German Einheitsübersetzung somewhat follows the rendering of the Septuagint. Nun frisst ein glühender Wind ihren ererbten Besitz. (Now a scorching wind consumes their inherited possession.)

    In the following commentary portion, a highly interpretive explanation (involving “new moon” and “portion”) is presented.


    The people of both the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah had acted treacherously, forsaking YHWH and adopting idolatrous practices. In view of what follows, however, the reference may more specifically apply to the Israelites in the northern realm. Instead of instructing their children to be devoted to YHWH, idolatrous parents obviously failed to do so. Therefore, YHWH could not acknowledge these “sons” or “children” as being his. They did not “know” or recognize him as their God and so proved to be alien sons or children. In this respect, these children were just like the offspring of non-Israelite peoples who had never been in a covenant relationship with YHWH.

    He could not have looked approvingly upon any observance of a new moon festival. The people’s doing so and engaging in joyous feasting would have merited YHWH’s adverse judgment, for it was not done to his praise and honor. Thus, instead of their consuming their portions on the day of the new moon with benefit to themselves, their God-dishonoring observance would bring upon them God’s consuming wrath. They and their portions would be consumed at the time for the execution of divine judgment.

  • Hosea 5:8.
  • Masoretic Text: Blow a horn in Gibeah, a trumpet in Ramah. Raise a battle cry at Beth-aven; after you, Benjamin.

    Septuagint: Trumpet a trumpet upon the hills; sound upon the heights. Herald in the house of On. Benjamin became confounded.


    The Hebrew may also be understood as follows: Blow a horn on the hill, a trumpet on the height. Raise a battle cry at Beth-aven; after you, Benjamin.

    The Septuagint does not render Gibeah and Ramah as place names, but the Vulgate does. Like the Vulgate, other translations commonly use the place names.


    The “horn” or shofar was a ram’s-horn trumpet. Other “trumpets” were fashioned from metal and consisted of a mouthpiece and a narrow tube that flared out at the end. In times of war, both the “horn” and the “trumpet” served as signaling instruments.

    Ancient Ramah has been linked to a site five miles north of Jerusalem and two miles north of what is believed to be the location of ancient Gibeah. Beth-aven (as in Hosea 4:15, which see for comments) probably was Bethel, the center of calf worship situated on the border of the territory of Benjamin.

    Hosea provides no indication about the time and circumstances involving the various locations he mentions. If the ancient cities have been correctly identified, they are listed from south to north. This would suggest that the military action started in the south and moved northward. During the reign of King Ahaz of Judah, Syrian and Israelite forces joined in an attack against the two-tribe kingdom, administering a humiliating defeat but not succeeding in capturing Jerusalem and removing Ahaz as king. (2 Kings 16:5; 2 Chronicles 28:5-7; Isaiah 7:1-7) Possibly the reference in Hosea alludes to a Judean counteroffensive against the invaders. The blowing of the horn and the trumpet and the raising of a battle cry would then have been part of the counteroffensive in the territory of Benjamin.

    The words “after Benjamin” may be understood to mean that the invading forces were advancing to or through the territory of that tribe. This would agree with the Septuagint reading about Benjamin being “confounded” or “astonished.”

  • Hosea 5:9.
  • Masoretic Text: In the day of reproof, Ephraim will become a waste. Among the tribes of Israel, I make known what is trustworthy.

    Septuagint: In the days of reproof, Ephraim has become a devastation. Among the tribes of Israel, I have shown trustworthy things.

    Note: Besides “in,” “into,” “by,” “among,” and “with,” the Hebrew preposition be can denote “against.” This meaning is found in a number of translations. “Against the tribes of Israel I announce what is sure to be.” (NAB) “Against the tribes of Israel I proclaim certainties.” (Tanakh) The corresponding preposition en (found in the LXX), however, is not used to express the meaning “against.”


    The “day of reproof” evidently denotes the time YHWH would take punitive action against Ephraim, the dominant tribe of the ten-tribe kingdom and commonly representing the entire realm. On account of the unfaithfulness of “Ephraim,” YHWH used the Assyrians as his instrument to inflict severe punishment. That punishment included the devastation of the territory of the ten-tribe kingdom during the Assyrian invasions and the exile of the surviving Israelites.

    To the tribes of Israel in both kingdoms, YHWH revealed what is trustworthy. Through his prophets he announced the warning of impending calamity on account of the people’s unfaithfulness. Upon seeing YHWH’s word fulfilled, the people who had disregarded the dependable message proclaimed by the prophets would have been forced to recognize that it had indeed been trustworthy.

  • Hosea 5:10.
  • Masoretic Text: The princes of Judah have become like those who move back a boundary. Upon them, I will pour out my rage like water.

    Septuagint: The rulers of Judah have become like those who change boundaries. Upon them, I will pour out my assault like water.


    The Hebrew word for “water” is plural, suggesting an abundance of water. In the Septuagint, however, “water” is singular.

    The Greek word corresponding to the Hebrew term for “fury” or “rage” is hórmema, which expression can mean “assault,” “attack,” “impulse,” “onrush,” and “violent onset or rush.”


    God’s law to Israel specifically prohibited the moving of boundary marks, as that would have meant stealing another person’s land. (Deuteronomy 19:14; 27:17) Judean princes or rulers in Hosea’s time, however, were corrupt. They attained their base objectives through lawless means comparable to the moving back of a boundary. This did not escape the notice of YHWH who, through Hosea, announced that these rulers would be submitted to the full brunt of his fury. His wrath would flow against them just as when an abundance of water is poured out.

  • Hosea 5:11.
  • Masoretic Text: Ephraim is oppressed; crushed [in] judgment, for he undertook to go after the commandment.

    Septuagint: Ephraim has oppressed his opponent. He has trampled judgment, for he started to go after vanities.


    Most translations represent Ephraim as being oppressed and deprived of his rights and not (as does the Septuagint) as being the oppressor and the one trampling judgment. Examples are: “Ephraim is defrauded, robbed of redress.” (Tanakh) “Ephraim is oppressed, crushed in judgment.” (NRSV) “Ephraim is oppressed, trampled in judgment.” (NIV)

    Other translations represent the judgment as being from God on account of idolatry—“broken by my judgment because they are determined to worship idols.” (NLT)

    The New American Bible uses a question that is followed by a negative response. “Is Ephraim maltreated, his rights violated? No, he has willingly gone after filth!”


    The marked difference in the reading of the Masoretic Text and the rendering of the Septuagint makes any explanation of this verse conjectural.

    If Ephraim, the dominant tribe of the northern kingdom of Israel and representing the entire realm, is the oppressor and the one trampling upon judgment or justice, the identify of the opponent would need to be established. Historically, in the time of Hosea, Ephraim fought against the two-tribe kingdom of Judah. The Greek word meaning “oppress” (katadynasteúo) can also be defined as “prevail over,” “conquer,” “exploit,” and “dominate.” Based on the record preserved in 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles, “Ephraim” did triumph over the kingdom of Judah, administering a humiliating defeat. (2 Kings 16:5; 2 Chronicles 28:5-15; Isaiah 7:1)

    In the realm of the ten-tribe kingdom, injustices were common. Especially the rights of the disadvantaged were repeatedly trampled upon. (Amos 2:6-8; 8:4-6)

    Both the Septuagint and the Targum are in agreement that “Ephraim” went after “vanities.” This is probably to be understood of the pursuit of worthless idols. (Compare Jeremiah 2:5; 10:14, 15; 16:19; 51:17, 18.) In this case, numerous translators have departed from the reading of the Masoretic Text. Instead of “commandment,” they use “idols” (NIV), “filth” (NAB), “useless idols” (CEV), and “futility” (Tanakh).

    The reading of the Masoretic Text represents “Ephraim” as the one oppressed. Historically, this did occur when the ten-tribe kingdom came under Assyrian control and experienced repeated Assyrian invasions, terminating in the conquest of the capital Samaria and the exile of the surviving Israelites. (2 Kings 15:19, 20, 29; 17:4-6; 1 Chronicles 5:4-6, 26) Under foreign domination, the people would definitely have had their rights trampled upon.

    The phrase about going “after the commandment” (if the original reading) must, according to the context, be regarded as a sinful act. It serves to explain the reason for Ephraim’s being oppressed. Therefore, the “commandment” would have to be one originating from a human source and violating God’s law. This could refer to the royal endorsement of calf worship at the cities of Dan and Bethel. Jeroboam, the first monarch of the ten-tribe kingdom, did tell his subjects: “You have been going up to Jerusalem long enough. This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!” (1 Kings 12:28, Tanakh) The word of the king generally would have been regarded as having the force of a commandment. (Ecclesiastes 8:4)

  • Hosea 5:12.
  • Masoretic Text: And I [am] like a moth to Ephraim, and like rottenness to the house of Judah.

    Septuagint: And I [am] like trouble to Ephraim, and like a goad to the house of Judah.


    The Hebrew term ‘ash has commonly been defined as meaning “moth,” which is also the significance of the Latin term tinea (additionally, applying to any “gnawing worm”) appearing in the Vulgate. A 2001 revision of Koehler’s work, however, provides the definition “pus,” and this is the rendering (Eiter) found in some modern German translations. (Revised Elberfelder; Einheitsübersetzung) The Septuagint reading taraché does not agree with either definition of the Hebrew word. The Greek term can mean “trouble,” “disturbance,” “tumult,” “vexation,” “rebellion,” “commotion,” “riot,” and “disquietude.”

    Both the Hebrew word raqáv and the Latin term (in the Vulgate) putredo mean “rottenness” or “decay.” In the Septuagint, though, the corresponding term kéntron denotes “goad,” “prod,” or “sting.”

    Based on the Septuagint rendering, YHWH was the one who brought trouble upon Ephraim and, like a goad, pricked the house of Judah. This would have been by allowing them to experience oppression from foreign powers on account of their unfaithfulness.


    “Ephraim” represents the northern ten-tribe kingdom of Israel, and the house of Judah represents the southern two-tribe kingdom.

    By what he permitted to befall the ten-tribe kingdom, YHWH proved to be like a moth to Ephraim. This apparently denotes a moth in the destructive larval stage when, for example, it feeds on a woolen garment. Progressively, the garment is ruined. Likewise, the adverse judgments YHWH allowed to befall the Israelites from the Assyrians progressively weakened the realm, finally leading to the destruction of the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel.

    The rottenness may refer to damage to wood from worms or grubs. In this case also, the damage to wood is progressive. Because of unfaithfulness, the house of Judah, by divine permission, was subjected to enemy invasions that progressively led to its decline and terminated in the end of the kingdom of Judah and the exile of many of the survivors.

  • Hosea 5:13.
  • Masoretic Text: And Ephraim saw his illness and Judah his sore. And Ephraim went to Assyria and sent to a king, Jareb, and he will not be able to heal you nor cure your sore.

    Septuagint: And Ephraim saw his illness and Judah his pain, and Ephraim went to the Assyrians and sent ambassadors to King Jarim, and he was not able to heal you, and pain will definitely not cease for you.


    The Septuagint reads “Jarim,” and the Masoretic Text can be transliterated as “Jareb.” (NASB, NJB, Luther 1984 revised [German], revised Elberfelder [German]) No Assyrian monarch, however, is known to have been so named. Numerous translations have chosen to render the Hebrew designation according to possible meanings, resulting in a variety of renderings—“great king” (NAB), “mighty king” (CEV), “patron king” (Tanakh; a footnote links the designation with a verb meaning “to champion, uphold the cause of”), “a king who will contend” (NRSV, footnote, but “great king” in the main text), and “King Contentious.” (Margolis) The term in the Vulgate is a form of ultor, meaning “revenger” or “avenger.” A 2001 revision of Koehler’s work indicates that the meaning “the Great One” is based on a linkage with Ugaritic. The other suggested meaning is “King Squabbler.” The Brown-Driver-Briggs lexicon of 1906 suggests “one who contends” as a possible meaning.

    The use of the two distinct words for “not” in the Septuagint serve to intensify and convey the meaning of “absolutely not,” “by no means,” and “definitely not.”


    Ephraim (representative of the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel or, collectively, the people of the realm), upon recognizing his sickly or weakened condition, turned to powerful Assyria for help. Historically, this could relate to the time of Menahem or Hoshea. When Assyria invaded the ten-tribe kingdom, King Menahem made an agreement with the king of Assyria for his aid in securing the kingship. (2 Kings 15:19, 20) Later, during the rule of Pekah who had seized the throne after killing Menahem’s successor Pekahiah, Hoshea conspired against Pekah, assassinated him, and usurped the throne. (2 Kings 15:30) In order to secure his position as monarch, however, Hoshea seems to have solicited the aid of Tiglath-pileser III. An Assyrian inscription specifically relates to developments in the ten-tribe kingdom and the role of Tiglath-pileser III. The inscription states: “They overthrew their king Pekah (Pa-qa-ha) and I placed Hoshea (A-ú-si-’) as king over them.”

    YHWH’s word, through Hosea, was that the Assyrian monarch would not provide a cure for the ailing realm that had previously been ravaged by Assyrian invasions. This was unerringly fulfilled. During the reign of Shalmaneser V, the successor of Tiglath-pileser III, Hoshea decided to refuse paying the demanded annual tribute and turned to Egypt for aid against Assyria. In retaliation, Shalmaneser V invaded the ten-tribe kingdom, placed Hoshea in confinement, and began the siege of Samaria. With the fall of Samaria after a three-year siege, the ten-tribe kingdom came to an end. (2 King 17:3-6; 18:9-12)

    The focus of this verse basically is “Ephraim,” giving rise to the conjecture that “Judah” should be emended to read “Israel.” Such an emendation, though, would not have any support from the Septuagint nor the Vulgate and so would have little to commend it. The first half of this verse apparently parallels the preceding verse, and the same parallel of Israel and Judah is found in verse 14. Both “Ephraim” and “Judah” became painfully aware of their serious plight, and both failed in seeking the only dependable source of aid, YHWH, and enlisted the help of Assyria, to their injury. (2 Kings 16:7-9)

  • Hosea 5:14.
  • Masoretic Text: For I am like a lion to Ephraim and like a young lion to the house of Judah. I, I will rend and depart. I will carry away, and [there will be no] rescuing.

    Septuagint: For I am like a panther to Ephraim and like a lion to the house of Judah, and I will snatch away and depart, and take away, and no one will [perform any] rescuing.


    YHWH would permit unfaithful Ephraim (representative of the northern ten-tribe kingdom of Israel) and the disloyal house of Judah (representative of the southern two-tribe kingdom) to experience ruthless, beastly treatment from invading enemy forces. In this way, he would prove to be like a ferocious lion. The result would be a vicious tearing to pieces. Upon the departure of the invaders, only the tragic evidence of violent deadly struggles and devastation would remain. Humiliated survivors would be forcibly dragged into exile, comparable to the manner in which a lion drags away parts of the kill. No hope would there be for any kind of rescue from or mitigation of the beastly assault and its horrific consequences.

  • Hosea 5:15.
  • Masoretic Text: I will depart. I will return to my place until they [finish bearing their] guilt and seek my face. In their distress, they will look for me.

    Septuagint: I will depart and return to my place until they be removed [from sight], and they will seek my face. In their distress, they will eagerly seek me, saying:


    The Hebrew word ’ashám basically means “be guilty” or “offend,” but the context requires another significance. Translators convey the sense as being “pay for their guilt” (NAB) or “acknowledge” (NRSV), “admit” (NIV), or “realize” (Tanakh) their guilt. In view of other prophecies indicating the passage of a specific period, “bear” or “pay for” appears to be the preferable significance. (Compare Jeremiah 24:4-6; 25:8-14; 29:4-14; Daniel 9:2.)

    In the Septuagint, the word rendered “seek” in the second occurrence is a form of the verb orthrízo. This term basically signifies “rise early” and, in this context, is understood to mean “seek,” especially doing so eagerly.


    On account of the people’s unfaithfulness, YHWH would withdraw his help and protection. His presence would cease to be with the people. In this way, he would depart from them, returning to his “place,” the invisible realm. After the period of corrective punishment ended, the people would seek YHWH’s face or YHWH himself, changing their wayward course and repentantly desiring a good relationship with him. Their distressing circumstances would have a beneficial effect, making them realize the seriousness of their sins and motivating them to want to return to YHWH.