Hosea 7

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  • Hosea 7:1.
  • Masoretic Text: In my [wanting] to heal Israel, the iniquity of Ephraim and the evils of Samaria are also uncovered, for they work deception. And a thief will come in, and a [robber] band will raid outside.

    Septuagint: In my [wanting] to heal Israel, the wrongdoing of Ephraim and the badness of Samaria also will be uncovered, for they have practiced falsehoods. And a thief will enter in to him, and a robber stripping in his way.


    The words regarding healing may be understood as meaning “in YHWH’s desire to heal” or in his desire to restore them to a flourishing or prosperous state. Yet, the moral condition of Ephraim (representing the ten-tribe kingdom or, collectively, the people of the realm) and Samaria (the capital and paralleling Ephraim in representing the realm or, collectively, the people thereof) made this impossible. Among the Israelites, no evidence of repentance or a desire to return to YHWH existed. Instead, iniquity or wrongdoing and all kinds of badness prevailed among them. They did not act as brothers descended from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but were deceitful in dealing with one another. The reference to a thief and a robber is usually understood as continuing the portrayal of the then-existing moral decay. This is reflected in the renderings of translations. “They practice falsehood, thieves break in, bandits plunder abroad.” (NAB) “For they have acted treacherously, with thieves breaking in and bands raiding outside.” (Tanakh)

    In the Septuagint, the word “thief” is followed by “toward him,” which suggests that the antecedent is Ephraim. This would mean that an action affecting Ephraim or the ten-tribe kingdom is involved, an action comparable to having a thief break into a home to steal or a person’s falling into the hands of a robber outside. The robber would waylay a victim, stripping him of his possessions. Accordingly, the adverse judgment to befall Ephraim would leave “him” deprived of all possessions, as if the victim of a thief and a robber.

  • Hosea 7:2.
  • Masoretic Text: And they will not speak to their heart [that] all their evil I remember. Now their practices surround them; they are before my face.

    Septuagint: That they agree like those agreeing with their heart. All their evils I have remembered. Now their intrigues have surrounded them; they have come to be before my face.

    Note: Other Septuagint manuscript evidence may be understood to mean “as those singing to their hearts.” The first part of extant Septuagint manuscript renderings is obscure. Perhaps the thought is that the people prefer their own way, being settled within themselves on the course they have chosen. They would not be like people who are troubled at heart, but like those who are in agreement with their heart, their deep inner selves.


    With few exceptions, the people of the ten-tribe kingdom gave no consideration to what YHWH thought of their wayward ways. They did not speak to their hearts, their deep inner selves, in a manner that reflected an awareness of YHWH’s memory of their evils or their debased practices. So abundant were their disgusting deeds that they were completely surrounded by them. These acts were also before YHWH’s face, not hidden from his view.

  • Hosea 7:3.
  • Masoretic Text: With their evil, they gladden a king, and, with their lies, princes.

    Septuagint: With their evils, they gladdened kings, and, with their lies, rulers.


    As evident from the verses that follow, the reference is to those plotting against kings and the lesser officials, princes, or rulers. The seditionists apparently gladdened the king by making him feel that they were his loyal supporters or friends, possibly even arranging banquets where wine flowed freely. The objective of the plotters was to catch the king off guard, facilitating their scheme to overthrow him. They likewise deceived the lesser officials, regaling them with lies that concealed sinister motivations. When a king was assassinated, the lesser officials loyal to him were also killed.

    A number of translations make the sinister aspect explicit. “In malice they make a king merry, and officials in treachery.” (Tanakh) “The Lord says, ‘People deceive the king and his officers by their evil plots.’” (GNT)

  • Hosea 7:4.
  • Masoretic Text: All of them [are] adulterers like the heated oven of a baker, [which] he will desist stirring up, from the kneading of the dough until its leavening.

    Septuagint: All [are] adulterers like a heated oven for baking, [stopping] from the flame [during] the kneading of the dough until its leavening.

    Note: It appears that a copyist error may be the reason for the Septuagint reading. In the extant Septuagint text, the word katakaúmatos, “burning,” appears, but the term that fits the context is katapaúmatos, “stopping,” which would correspond to the extant Hebrew text.


    Evidently the plotters are designated as adulterers, which can mean that they were unfaithful to the covenant obligations that bound the Israelites to YHWH as a wife is bound to her husband. It could also include their engaging in ceremonial prostitution with the wives of other men.

    These plotters were like a hot oven, the flames of which did not need to be stirred up from the time the dough is kneaded until it rises in preparation for baking. This could mean that the debased desires raging within the plotters were of such intensity that they needed no more stirring up than do the flames of a heated oven during the time the dough is rising. These improper desires were always ready to burst into flames, prompting the plotters to engage in despicable actions.

  • Hosea 7:5.
  • Masoretic Text: [In] the day of our king, the princes get sick [from] the heat of wine. He extends his hand to ridiculers.

    Septuagint: [In] the days of your kings, the rulers started to be inflamed from wine. He extended his hand with pestilent ones.


    On account of a measure of obscurity in the Masoretic Text, translators vary in their renderings. “The day they made our king sick [and] officials with the poison of wine. He gave his hand to traitors.” (Tanakh) “On the day of the festival of our king the princes become inflamed with wine, and he joins hands with the mockers.” (NIV) “On the day of our king, the princes are overcome with the heat of wine. He extends his hand among dissemblers.” (NAB)

    The Hebrew word chemáh can mean “heat,” “poison,” “rage,” or “wrath.” The meaning “poison” would indicate that the plotters poisoned the king and the princes or lesser officials. The meaning “poison,” however, would not fit the rendering of the Septuagint.

    The Septuagint uses “days” instead of “day,” and “kings” instead of “king.”


    The day of a king likely designates a special occasion when wine flowed freely and the plotters were among those on hand for the festivity. Apparently both the monarch and the lesser officials got drunk to the point of becoming sick. In his inebriated state, the king was vulnerable and foolishly extended his hand to the treacherous plotters, the pestilent ones, or the scoffers. This would have facilitated their scheme to kill him and the lesser officials. (See verse 7.)

  • Hosea 7:6.
  • Masoretic Text: For they neared [with] their heart, like an oven, their ambush. All night their baker sleeps. In the morning, it burns like a flame.

    Septuagint: For their hearts have been kindled like an oven to cause a casting down. All night Ephraim has been filled with sleep. Morning has come. The brightness has been kindled like a fire.


    Both the Masoretic Text and the Septuagint are obscure. This has resulted in varying interpretive renderings. Based on an emendation, many translators have chosen to use “anger” instead of “baker.” “For they approach their ambush with their hearts like an oven: Through the night their baker has slept; in the morning, it flares up like a blazing fire.” (Tanakh) “[T]he plotters approach with hearts like ovens. All the night their anger sleeps; in the morning it flares like a blazing fire. (NAB) “Their hearts are like an oven; they approach him with intrigue. Their passion smolders all night; in the morning it blazes like a flaming fire.” (NIV) “For they are kindled like an oven, their heart burns within them; all night their anger smolders; in the morning it blazes like a flaming fire.” (NRSV) “Their anger is a fire that smolders all night, then flares up at dawn.” (CEV)

    The reading “Ephraim” in the Septuagint may be understood to designate the men of Ephraim or the ten-tribe kingdom who schemed to overthrow the monarch.


    The next verse suggests that the reference here is to the plotters. In their heart or their deep inner self, they schemed the overthrow of the king and his loyal lesser officials. Their heart, like a hot oven, was inflamed with hostility and intent on ambushing the intended victims or, according to the reading of the Septuagint, bring about their ruin.

    If “baker” is the reading of the original Hebrew text, possibly the plotters are collectively designated as the baker, with the oven being their heart. Although the “baker” (the plotters collectively) slept at night, this did not change what was raging in their heart. The murderous scheme smoldering within the plotters would, in the morning, be ready to burst into a bright, destructive flame.

  • Hosea 7:7.
  • Masoretic Text: All of them get hot like an oven and consume their judges. All of their kings have fallen. To me, [there is] no calling [among] them.

    Septuagint: All [of them] get hot like an oven and have consumed their judges. All their kings have fallen. Not [one] among them called to me.


    In this case, “all” evidently designates those in the ten-tribe kingdom who were determined to overthrow the existing rulership. Like an oven that becomes increasingly warmer, they were inflamed with ever-increasing intensity by murderous passion. They plotted against judges and brought about their downfall or death, thus “consuming” or “devouring” them. Their kings became the victims of assassination plots. Shallum killed Zechariah, the last king of Jehu’s dynasty. After ruling only a month, Shallum perished at the hands of Menahem. Menahem’s successor to the kingship, his son Pekahiah, ruled only two years. One of his adjutants or principal officers, Pekah, with the aid of 50 men, carried out a successful assassination plot and began to reign. Pekah’s twenty-year rule came to a violent end, with the assassin Hoshea seizing the throne. (2 Kings 15:10, 13, 14, 23-25, 27, 30) During this time of instability and suffering from Assyrian aggression, the people of the ten-tribe kingdom did not look to YHWH for help. The distressing circumstances and the breakdown of law and order did not move them to appeal to him in a spirit of genuine repentance.

  • Hosea 7:8.
  • Masoretic Text: Ephraim mingles himself among the peoples. Ephraim is a cake not turned.

    Septuagint: Ephraim was mingling himself among the peoples. Ephraim came to be a cake not turned.

    Note: The Greek term for “cake” is enkryphías. This is a compound consisting of “in” and “secret” or “hidden,” denoting a cake baked while concealed in the ashes. The Hebrew term ‘ugáh applies to a round, flat loaf of bread, comparable to a pancake but with a firmer texture.


    Ephraim, as elsewhere in Hosea, represents the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel. The people of the northern kingdom adopted the idolatrous practices and debased ways of other nations and formed alliances with them. During the time of Hosea’s prophesying, the ten-tribe kingdom allied itself with the Syrians, Assyrians, and Egyptians. Especially disastrous were the competing alliances with Assyria and Egypt, which led to punitive Assyrian aggression and the downfall of the ten-tribe kingdom.

    A flat loaf of bread that is not turned during the baking process will burn on the bottom and remain undone at the top, making it unfit for food. Like such bread, Ephraim had come to ruin through involvement with other nations and their ways.

  • Hosea 7:9.
  • Masoretic Text: Strangers consume his strength, and he does not know [it]. Also gray hairs are scattered on him, and he does not know [it].

    Septuagint: Strangers have consumed his strength, but he did not know [it], and gray hairs have grown on him, and he did not know [it].

    Note: Instead of “gray hairs,” the Tanakh, on the basis of Akkadian, reads “mold.” This rendering, however, does not have the support of the Septuagint.


    The reference in this verse is to Ephraim as the dominant tribe of the ten-tribe kingdom and, collectively, the people of the entire realm. The “strangers” apparently were the foreign powers with which the ten-tribe kingdom had formed alliances. These alliances required the payment of tribute and led to punitive aggression when the demands of the stronger military power were not met. During the period of Hosea’s prophesying, the strength of the ten-tribe kingdom progressively diminished, but the full awareness regarding this did not seem to have been recognized by the kings and leading men of the realm. Instead of repenting of their wayward ways and turning to YHWH for guidance and aid, they continued to form alliances that only served to weaken the ten-tribe kingdom. (2 Kings 15:19, 20, 27-30; 17:1-4; Isaiah 7:1, 2)

    Usually, gray hair is indicative of advancing age, accompanied by a reduction in vigor, and suggests that the major part of a person’s life has passed. Ephraim seemed blind to the evidence (comparable to the scattering of gray hairs) that the strength of the realm had been drained and its continuance as a kingdom would be short-lived.

  • Hosea 7:10.
  • Masoretic Text: And the pride of Israel testifies to his face, and they have not returned to YHWH their God and have not sought him in all this.

    Septuagint: And the arrogance of Israel will be humbled to his face, and they have not returned to the Lord their God and have not sought him in all these [things].

    Note: The first part of this verse is a repetition of the words in Hosea 5:5. As in Hosea 5:5, in this verse also, the Septuagint has the future tense of the word for “humble” instead of a term for “testifies.”


    Israel applies to the ten-tribe kingdom. The pride of Israel was manifest in a stubborn refusal to amend their ways despite facing dire consequences. Their prideful course had led to the progressive decline in the strength of the ten-tribe kingdom and terrible suffering from Assyrian aggression. Before the face or right in front of Israel, the unfavorable testimony was clearly in evidence. The words “to his face” could also mean that the testimony was “against Israel” and would lead to bringing upon themselves YHWH’s severest judgment. According to the reading of the Septuagint, the pride of Israel would be humbled before Israel’s face or before the people’s eyes.

    The Israelites had experienced bitter consequences from abandoning YHWH and adopting the idolatrous practices of other peoples and looking to militarily stronger nations for protection. Nevertheless, the painful consequences did not move them to heed YHWH’s pleas, conveyed through his prophets, for them to repent and change their ways. They refused to return to him repentantly and gave no consideration to seeking him as the One who could restore them to their past prosperity and protect them from falling victim to aggressive powers. The distressing and weak state in which the Israelites found themselves did not cause them to reflect seriously on their course and seek to regain an approved relationship with their God.

  • Hosea 7:11.
  • Masoretic Text: And Ephraim was like an [easily] deceived dove, without heart. Egypt they called; to Assyria they went.

    Septuagint: And Ephraim was like a foolish dove, not having heart. Egypt he called; to the Assyrians they went.


    Unlike most birds, doves tend not to be wary and, therefore, are easily ensnared. By forming alliances with stronger military powers, Ephraim or the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel was ensnared like an easily deceived dove. Instead of benefiting from the alliances, the kingdom suffered from a serious drain on its resources and repeated military invasions. In being “without heart” or “not having heart,” Ephraim is depicted as lacking good sense.

    The historical account preserved in 2 Kings and extant Assyrian records provide details about Israelite involvement with Assyria and Egypt. In order to secure Assyrian support, King Menahem paid a tribute of a thousand silver talents to Pul (Tiglath-pileser III). (2 Kings 15:19, 20) According to extant Assyrian records, Tiglath-pileser III constituted Hoshea as king after the overthrow of Pekah and received tribute. (2 Kings 15:30) Hoshea, however, wanted to free himself from Assyrian control and appealed to Egypt for help. He refused to pay tribute to Tiglath-pileser’s successor, Shalmaneser V. This led to a punitive Assyian campaign against the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel, which terminated in the capture of the capital Samaria and the exile of the survivors. (2 Kings 17:3-6) Thus, Ephraim’s calling to Egypt and going to Assyria proved to be a deadly entanglement.

  • Hosea 7:12.

    Masoretic Text: As they go, I will spread my net over them. I will bring them down like the birds of the skies. I will discipline them according to the report to their congregation.

    Septuagint: Whenever they shall go, I will throw my net over them. I will bring them down like the birds of the sky. I will discipline them according to the report of their distress.

    Note: In the Septuagint, the report pertains to the distress to be experienced by the disobedient people. If the initial Hebrew letter is read as a sadhe, not as an ayin, the meaning would be “distress” and not “congregation.”


    The people of the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel, as represented by their leaders, had proved to be like an easily deceived or senseless dove. As they would go to ally themselves with the Assyrians, YHWH would spread his net over them. He did so by letting the people become ruinously ensnared through their involvement with Assyria. Israel would face the same deadly consequences as birds brought down when caught in a net.

    At the time YHWH concluded his covenant with the Israelites, he, through Moses, revealed the serious consequences for disobedience. This evidently was the report to the congregation, that is, the congregation of Israel. The previously announced discipline included humiliating military defeat and its accompanying suffering, loss of their land, and exile. (Leviticus 26:14-17; Deuteronomy 28:49-57, 63-68)

  • Hosea 7:13.
  • Masoretic Text: Woe to them, for they strayed from me. Ruin to them, for they rebelled against me. And I wanted to redeem them, but they have spoken lies against me.

    Septuagint: Woe to them, for they have turned away from me. Wretched they are, for they have been impious toward me. Although I redeemed them, they have spoken lies against me.

    Note: The Septuagint rendering points to the then-existing wretched state and not to a future ruin. Also, the redemption is spoken of as a past event, probably referring to the deliverance from Egypt.


    The expression of woe directed to the people of the ten-tribe kingdom for having strayed from YHWH portended dire consequences. Their turning away from him included adopting idolatrous practices and looking to the military strength of other nations for aid and protection. Because the Israelites had revolted from adhering to YHWH’s commands, they would face ruin or, according to the reading of the Septuagint, found themselves in a miserable state. The payment of tribute and devastation from invading armies had left the ten-tribe kingdom in a wretched condition. The ruin that then lay ahead was the end of the ten-tribe kingdom and the exile of the survivors.

    Although YHWH would have wanted to redeem the Israelites, restoring them to their formerly prosperous and secure condition, they were unresponsive to his appeals through his prophets. Or, according to the Septuagint reading, they did not act appreciatively respecting YHWH’s past deliverance of the people from Egypt. Instead, they spoke lies against him. By seeking the aid of other nations, they misrepresented YHWH and declared that he could not help or protect them.

  • Hosea 7:14.
  • Masoretic Text: And they did not cry out to me with their heart when they wailed on their beds. For grain and wine, they dwell as aliens. They depart from me.

    Septuagint: And they did not cry out to me [with] their hearts but howled on their beds. For grain and wine, they have gashed themselves. They were disciplined by me.


    The Hebrew verb gur basically means to “sojourn” or “dwell as an alien.” For Hosea 7:14, the Brown-Driver-Briggs lexicon lists as a possible meaning “they assemble themselves,” and this significance is found in many translations. “For the sake of grain and new wine they assemble themselves.” (NASB) “They gather together for grain and new wine.” (NIV) “They assemble themselves for grain and new wine.” (NJB)

    Other translators have chosen to follow the reading of the Septuagint. “For wheat and wine they lacerated themselves.” (NAB) “[T]hey gash themselves for grain and wine.” (NRSV) Interpretive paraphrases include: “They have rejected me for Baal and slashed themselves, in the hope that Baal will bless their crops.” (CEV) “They cut themselves, begging foreign gods for crops and prosperity.” (NLT)

    On the basis of Hosea 4:11 and the Aramaic gar/yegur, meaning “to commit adultery,” the Tanakh reads: “They debauch over new grain and new wine.”

    Another meaning that has been suggested for the Hebrew word is “excite themselves.” F. E. Schlachter, in his German translation, has adopted this significance.

    The reading of the Septuagint, “they were disciplined by me,” appears to be a rendering of “and I disciplined” in the next verse of the Masoretic Text. This means that the extant Septuagint text has no words corresponding to the Hebrew, “They depart from me.”


    Upon finding themselves in distressing circumstances, the Israelites would cry out to YHWH. This outcry was insincere. No change had taken place in the heart, the deep inner self. The people did not repent of their wayward ways and choose to follow YHWH’s commands. Their outcry, while in bed, was a mere wailing or howling about their miserable state.

    The Septuagint reading indicates that the Israelites engaged in a practice forbidden by God’s law. (Leviticus 19:28; Deuteronomy 14:1, 2) In an attempt to get a hearing from their gods, idolaters lacerated themselves. (1 Kings 18:28)

    If the Hebrew verb gur is original and is to be understood in its usual sense, the thought may be that the Israelites had made themselves resident aliens with reference to YHWH, turning to the fertility deities to secure for them grain and wine and engaging in debased rituals that included ceremonial prostitution.

    The Masoretic Text calls attention to the fact that the Israelites had abandoned YHWH. These words are missing in the Septuagint, which apparently continues with a rendering of the initial part of the next verse of the Masoretic Text. According to the reading of the Septuagint, the people’s distressing circumstances were the consequence of YHWH’s discipline or chastisement.

  • Hosea 7:15.
  • Masoretic Text: And I disciplined [them]. I strengthened their arms, and against me they thought out evil.

    Septuagint: I strengthened their arms, and against me they thought out evils.


    Translators commonly link the disciplining or training with “arms.” “Though I trained and strengthened their arms.” (NAB) “It was I who trained and strengthened their arms.” (NRSV) “I braced, I strengthened their arms.” (Tanakh)

    A number of translations do not use “arms” in their renderings but convey two separate aspects. “I trained them and strengthened them.” (NIV) “I taught them what they know, and I made them strong.” (CEV) “Even though I was the one who brought them up and made them strong.” (GNT)

    Modern German translations that retain “arm” and express two separate thoughts include the following: Ich lehre sie Zucht und stärke ihren Arm. (I teach them discipline and strengthen their arm.) (l984 revision of Luther’s translation) Und ich, ich wies sie zurecht, ich stärkte ihre Arme. (And I, I reproved them; I strengthened their arms.) (revised Elberfelder)

    In the Septuagint, the reference to disciplining or training (verse 14 in Rahlf’s printed text) does not apply to the arms. Moreover, the Masoretic Text does not link the phrases about disciplining and strengthening with the conjunction “and.” Therefore, the preferable rendering appears to be to separate the disciplining from the strengthening.


    YHWH’s discipline could refer to the training he provided to the Israelites by means of the Mosaic law and the activity of his prophets. It could also apply to the discipline or correction the people experienced from YHWH’s withdrawing his care and protection because of their unfaithfulness. That discipline included suffering resulting from enemy invasions.

    The arm is representative of power. YHWH’s strengthening of the arms would indicate his restoring the power of the ten-tribe kingdom. This did happen during the reign of Jeroboam II. (2 Kings 14:25-28) Although the people of the ten-tribe kingdom benefited, this did not move them to reject idolatry and repentantly to return to YHWH. Their thoughts were evil toward their God, for they refused to recognize him as their Benefactor and continued to pursue the veneration of other gods.

  • Hosea 7:16.
  • Masoretic Text: They do not turn upward. They are like a treacherous bow. Their princes will fall by the sword because of the insolence of their tongue. This [will be to] their mockery in the land of Egypt.

    Septuagint: They returned to nothing. They became like a bent bow. Their rulers will fall by the sword because of the foolishness of their tongue. This [will be to] their contempt in the land of Egypt.


    The Septuagint reading “bent” or “stretched” with reference to the bow may have arisen from reading the Hebrew word as a form of rum (lift up) instead of ramáh (deceive, beguile, deal treacherously).

    The obscurity of the Masoretic Text and possible other meanings for the words have given rise to various renderings.

    “They do not turn to the Most High; they are like a faulty bow. Their leaders will fall by the sword because of their insolent words. For this they will be ridiculed in the land of Egypt.” (NIV) Neither the Masoretic Text nor the Septuagint include the words “the Most High.” While the Masoretic Text, by implication, may be thus understood, this would not fit the reading of the Septuagint. The ridicule of Egypt is represented as being on account of the death of the Israelite leaders. An interpretive paraphrase conveys the same basic meaning. “They look everywhere except to heaven, to the Most High. They are like a crooked bow that always misses its target. Their leaders will be killed by their enemies because of their insolence toward me. Then the people of Egypt will laugh at them.” (NLT)

    “They have again become useless, like a treacherous bow. Their princes shall fall by the sword because of the insolence of their tongues; thus they shall be mocked in the land of Egypt.” (NAB) While this rendering conveys the same sense about the mocking, the opening part of the verse seems to fit better with the Septuagint reading, “returned to nothing.”

    “They come back; they have been of no use, like a slack bow. Their officers shall fall by the sword, because of the stammering of their tongues. Such shall be [the results of] their jabbering in the land of Egypt.” (Tanakh) This rendering represents the death of the officers as being on account of the talk in Egypt (with implied reference to gain the support of Egypt to get free from the Assyrian yoke), which is referred to as both “stammering” and “jabbering” because of being in a foreign tongue. In this case, the meaning “stammering” is derived from a linkage with Arabic.


    Both the reading of the Masoretic Text and the rendering of the Septuagint indicate that the Israelites did not return to YHWH. The significance of “not upward” may be that the people’s thoughts were not directed to YHWH in his exalted dwelling place. According to the Septuagint, there was no return to anything beneficial and so no improvement in the attitude and conduct of the Israelites.

    A defective bow is useless, as it cannot be aimed properly. The people, in having departed from YHWH, proved to be like a slack bow.

    Faithlessly, the leading men of the ten-tribe kingdom had looked to alliances with foreign powers for help and protection. Their words were an insult to YHWH, the only dependable source in times of need. For having made themselves guilty of such foolishness, the rulers would perish by the sword. This could refer to the sword of assassins or the sword of war during Assyrian military action. (2 Kings 15:8-14, 25, 30; 17:3-6)

    The mocking in the land of Egypt may be understood as resulting from the death of the leaders and the end of the ten-tribe kingdom. Possibly this alludes to an element of malicious glee. The Israelites had been liberated from Egypt centuries earlier, but, because of experiencing military defeat, they would be humiliated and once again find themselves in a state of slavery.