Hosea 10

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  • Hosea 10:1.
  • Masoretic Text: A flourishing vine [is] Israel; fruit [it] produces for him. According to the abundance of his fruit, he has increased altars. According to the good [things] of his land, they have goodly made pillars.

    Septuagint: A flourishing vine [is] Israel; its fruit [is] thriving. According to the abundance of his fruits, he increased altars. According to the good [things] of his land, he erected pillars.


    According to lexicographers, the Hebrew verb baqáq (a form of which here describes the vine) can convey the idea of being profuse, abundant, or luxuriant, but it may also mean being empty or waste. This has led to renderings having very different meanings. “Israel is a ravaged vine and its fruit is like it. When his fruit was plentiful, he made altars aplenty; when his land was bountiful, cult pillars abounded.” (Tanakh) “Israel is a luxuriant vine whose fruit matches its growth. The more abundant his fruit, the more altars he built; the more productive his land, the more sacred pillars he set up.” (NAB) “Israel was a spreading vine; he brought forth fruit for himself. As his fruit increased, he built more altars; as his land prospered, he adorned his sacred stones.” (NIV)

    In the Septuagint, the word corresponding to the baqáq is a compound consisting of eu (well) and kléma (branch). Apparently the participial form in the Hosea passage describes a vine flourishing with branches. Lexicographers have defined the verb as meaning “grow luxuriantly.” In the Vulgate, the term is a form of frondosus, meaning “full of leaves” or “leafy.” Accordingly, neither the Septuagint nor the Vulgate would support renderings such as “empty,” “waste,” or “ravaged.”

    The Hebrew expression used regarding the pillars is a form of yatáv, which basically means “be good,” “do good” or “make good.” For the verse in Hosea, lexicographers have suggested the meanings “to erect splendid pillars” and “dress” (“adorned,” NIV; “improved,” NRSV). The term in the Septuagint is a form of oikodoméo, meaning “to build,” “construct,” “form,” “fashion,” or “erect” (“set up,” NAB). In the Vulgate, the corresponding word (a form of exubero) denotes “abound,” a meaning also found in modern translations (“abounded,” Tanakh).

    The Masoretic Text has two word plays, which can be conveyed by using the English expressions “increase” (instead of “abundance”) and “increased” in the phrase about the altars and then “good things” and “goodly made” in the concluding phrase. In the Tanakh, the play on words is reflected in the use of “plentiful” and “aplenty” and thereafter “bountiful” and “abounded.”


    As a “vine,” Israel should have been producing good fruit in the form of justice, compassion, and an intense love for YHWH manifested through loyal adherence to his commands. (Isaiah 5:1-7) This, however, was not the case. The Masoretic Text may be understood to mean that they bore fruit for themselves and not the kind of fruit that would be expected from YHWH’s people.

    When their prosperity increased, the Israelites continued to add altars for the veneration of fertility deities and other gods and goddesses. Abundant harvests (good things from the land) caused them to become even more devoted to idolatry. They labored in fashioning pillars, probably phallic symbols of the fertility god Baal.

  • Hosea 10:2.
  • Masoretic Text: Their heart [is] slippery. Now they will suffer for their guilt. He will break their altars. He will destroy their pillars.

    Septuagint: They have divided their hearts. Now they will be exterminated. He will raze their altars. Their pillars will be troubled.

    Note: The reference in the Septuagint about the troubling of the pillars evidently is to be understood as indicating that they would be destroyed.


    The heart of Israel, the deep inner self of the people, proved to be slippery, probably meaning false, untrustworthy, or insincere. According to the Septuagint, they divided their hearts. While claiming to be God’s people, they were disloyal to him and venerated foreign deities. On account of their unfaithfulness, YHWH determined to make them accountable for their guilt, letting them experience the consequences for having rejected his commands. He would break the altars at the cultic sites and destroy the pillars, probably phallic symbols of the fertility god Baal. YHWH accomplished this through human agencies. Assyrian aggression evidently contributed to a devastation of cultic sites. (Hosea 10:5-8) After the fall of the ten-tribe kingdom, King Josiah, in fulfillment of a prophecy uttered centuries earlier, demolished altars and destroyed other appendages of idolatry in the former realm of the ten-tribe kingdom. (1 Kings 13:1, 2; 2 Kings 23:14-20; 2 Chronicles 34:3-7)

  • Hosea 10:3.
  • Masoretic Text: For now they will say, “For us [there is] no king, for we do not fear YHWH; and the king, What can he do for us?”

    Septuagint: Because now they will say, “For us [there] is no king, for we have not feared the Lord. But the king, what could he do for us?”


    Israel’s acknowledgment about not having a king may be variously understood. Possible meanings include: (1) The Israelites did not have a king who met their needs and expectations. (2) The king was not an independent monarch but was subservient to Assyria. (2 Kings 15:19, 20; 17:3) (3) Because the Assyrian monarch had imprisoned Hoshea, the people had no acting king. (2 Kings 17:4) (4) The Assyrian conquest of Samaria brought an end to the ten-tribe kingdom, leaving the survivors without an Israelite king. (2 Kings 17:5, 6) (5) On account of the Assyrian threat, the Israelites might as well say that they had no king because they could not depend on him for aid. (6) The Israelites had no king with a rightful claim to rulership on the basis of YHWH’s will. (7) The people did not accord their ruler the kind of recognition customarily granted to kings, as evident from the fact that four of them (Zechariah, Shallum, Pekahiah and Pekah) were assassinated. (2 Kings 15:8-10; 13-15, 23-25, 30) (8) The Israelites had rejected YHWH as their king, for they refused to manifest a reverential fear. (Compare Isaiah 33:22.)

    Translators generally have chosen punctuation that presents the failure to fear YHWH as the reason for the expression about not having a king. The punctuation of the Tanakh, however, conveys a different meaning: “Truly, now they say, ‘We have no king; for, since we do not fear the LORD, What can a king do to us?’”

    The majority of the Israelites in the ten-tribe kingdom did not have a wholesome fear or reverential regard for YHWH. This was evident from their failure to shun idolatry and their lack of compassion for the poor and afflicted ones in their midst. (Amos 2:6-8; 8:4-6) The undesirable situation in which the people found themselves on account of the Assyrian threat was the direct result of their disregard for YHWH.

    Apparently, in view of the grave danger Assyrian dominance posed, an Israelite king would have been helpless. The question about a king implied that he would be unable to provide the needed aid and protection for his subjects. This thought has been paraphrased as follows: “But what could a king do for us anyway?” (GNT, Second Edition) “But what’s the difference? What could a king do for us anyway?” (NLT)

  • Hosea 10:4.
  • Masoretic Text: They speak words, oaths of worthlessness, [when] cutting a covenant. And judgment will sprout like a poisonous plant in the furrows of a field.

    Septuagint: Speaking words, deceptive pretexts, he will establish a covenant. Judgment will sprout like weed[s] in a barren field.


    The Hebrew idiom for “conclude a covenant” is “cut a covenant,” referring to the means by which a covenant was established or ratified. Sacrificial victims were cut in two, after which the parties to the covenant or agreement would pass between the pieces. (Compare Genesis 15:9-17; Jeremiah 34:18.) This implied that persons violating the terms of the covenant or agreement would be deserving of the fate of the sacrificial victims.

    Translators generally have rendered this verse as a separate thought. The Septuagint reading, however, would allow for it to be an answer to the question, What can a king do for us? In the New American Bible, the verse is worded as an answer to this question. “Since they do not fear the LORD, what can the king do for them? Nothing but make promises, swear false oaths, and make alliances.”


    Apparently with particular reference to agreements or covenants, the words the responsible Israelite parties spoke were untrustworthy. The men in ruling positions made oath-bound promises when concluding covenants or forming alliances with foreign powers, but evidently they did not intend to live up to their agreements. Their “oaths” were worthless or made with deceptive pretexts. A historical example of this was King Hoshea’s breaking his agreement with the Assyrian monarch and seeking an alliance with Egypt. (2 Kings 17:3, 4) Because the spoken word, even when backed by an oath, could not be trusted, the Israelites in the ten-tribe kingdom could not expect fair judgment or justice from those acting in a judicial capacity. The kind of judgment the judges rendered was comparable to poisonous plants or noxious weeds sprouting in furrows or on uncultivated land.

  • Hosea 10:5.
  • Masoretic Text: Those dwelling in Samaria fear for the calf of Beth-aven, for its people and its priests mourn over it; they [once] rejoiced over its glory, but [it] has departed from it.

    Septuagint: For the calf of the house of On, the inhabitants of Samaria will sojourn, for its people have mourned for it; and as they have provoked him, they will rejoice over his glory, for it has departed from him.


    The Hebrew term here translated “calf” is plural and feminine gender, but the Septuagint uses the masculine form for “calf.”

    As in Hosea 4:15 and 5:8, the Septuagint reading for Beth-aven is “house of On.” This is because “Beth” means “house” and a different vowel pointing changes “aven” to “On.”

    The Hebrew verb gur basically means to “sojourn” or “dwell as an alien.” In this context, the word is generally understood to mean “fear.” The Septuagint reading reflects the usual significance but does not convey anything meaningful.

    Although “rejoice” is the basic meaning of the Hebrew word gil, it does not seem to fit the context well, which pertains to the loss of the golden calf or calves. The Septuagint also has a term for “rejoice.” In an effort to convey something meaningful, translators have either added words or emended the text. “Indeed, its people and priestlings, whose joy it once was, mourn over it for the glory that is departed from it.” (Tanakh) “Its people will mourn over it, and so will its idolatrous priests, those who had rejoiced over its splendor, because it is taken from them into exile.” (NIV) “The people mourn for it and its priests wail over it, because the glory has departed from it.” (NAB) “Its people shall mourn for it, and its idolatrous priests shall wail over it, over its glory that has departed from it.” (NRSV) “The idol there was the pride of the priests.” (CEV)

    The Septuagint makes no mention of priests but refers to the people as having “provoked him.” Although the reading of the Masoretic Text and the rendering of the Septuagint are obscure, both indicate that the loss of the “calves” or “calf” would give rise to mourning.


    The Syriac and the Septuagint use the singular “calf.” If the Masoretic Text preserves the original reading, possibly more than one representation of a calf occupied the site. The name “Beth-aven” may be defined as “house of iniquity,” “house of deception,” “house of hurtfulness,” “house of disaster,” “house of nothingness,” or “house of trouble.” It appears that, in this context, the place is a designation for Bethel (“house of God”). Upon becoming a center for calf worship, Bethel ceased to be a “house of God” and was transformed into “Beth-aven,” a place of hurtfulness, iniquity, deception, nothingness, disaster or trouble.

    The representation of a calf that Jeroboam set up at Bethel is referred to as being of gold, likely meaning an overlaying of gold. (1 Kings 12:28) The Assyrians would have regarded the image as valuable and as representing the god of the Israelites. Their seizure of the calf would therefore have been a symbolic act, indicating that they had triumphed over the “god” of Israel.
    Those dwelling in Samaria could be either the inhabitants of the capital or all of the Israelites in the ten-tribe kingdom (represented by the capital Samaria). Because of the serious threat from the Assyrians, the people would have feared that they would seize the calf. If the fear of the Israelites is to be understood as following the Assyrian seizure of the calf, the reference may be to their being afraid of what would happen to them because of having been deprived of their idol.

    The loss of the calf would have caused the people to mourn. The idolatrous priests would likewise have had reason for sadness, as they would no longer have a splendid visible representation for their cultic ceremonies. Perhaps the “rejoicing” of the priests, if the term represents the original reading, may be understood of their past rejoicing, the pride they may have taken in their impressive idol. Upon its being seized by the Assyrians, the image would lose its “glory.” No longer would it occupy the principal place at the cultic site. The Assyrians may even have broken it to pieces for easier transport. (Compare 2 Kings 24:13; 25:13.)

  • Hosea 10:6.
  • Masoretic Text: Also with him to Assyria it will be carried away [as] a gift to a king, Jareb. Ephraim will receive shame, and Israel will be ashamed of his counsel.

    Septuagint: And it for the Assyrians having been bound, they carried [it] away [as] tribute to King Jarim. As a gift, Ephraim will receive, and Israel will be ashamed in his counsel.


    As in 5:13, the Septuagint reads “Jarim” and the expression in the Masoretic Text can be transliterated as “Jareb.” (NASB, 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” (CEV, NAB), “patron king” (Tanakh; a footnote on 5:13 links the designation with a verb meaning “to champion, uphold the case 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 Septuagint reading about Ephraim’s receiving a gift is obscure. The people did not receive anything upon forcibly parting with the calf.


    The invading military force would transport the golden calf to Assyria, where it would be presented as a gift or as tribute to the monarch. Ephraim, as elsewhere in Hosea, represents the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel. The loss of the calf would have been a reason for shame. It proved that the worship associated therewith had not benefited the people.

    Israel’s counsel may refer to the formulation of the plan to get out from under subservience to Assyria by soliciting aid from Egypt. (2 Kings 17:3, 4) This counsel failed in achieving the desired objective. Assyria commenced punitive action and conquered Samaria, bringing an end to the ten-tribe kingdom. (2 Kings 17:5, 6) Israel, therefore, had reason to be greatly ashamed on account of the horrific consequences from the bad counsel.

  • Hosea 10:7.
  • Masoretic Text: Cut off [will be] Samaria, her king like a twig upon the surface of the waters.

    Septuagint: Samaria has cast off her king like a stick upon the surface of the water.


    According to the reading of the Septuagint, the people of Samaria or the Israelites generally had rejected their king, treating him like a worthless stick floating on the surface of water. This could refer to any of one of the four kings (Zechariah, Shallum, Pekahiah and Pekah) who were assassinated. (2 Kings 15:10, 14, 25, 30)

    In the Masoretic Text, there is no conjunction between “Samaria” and “her king,” and the participial form of the Hebrew word for “cut off” is not directly linked to Samaria. Numerous translators have added the conjunction “and” or chosen renderings that refer both to Samaria and its king. “Samaria and its king will float away like a twig on the surface of the waters.” (NIV) “Samaria will be cut off with her king like a stick on the surface of the water.” (NASB) “Samaria will be cut off, and its king will disappear like a chip of wood on an ocean wave.” (NLT) “Israel will be destroyed; its king will be like a chip of wood floating on the water.” (NCV) “Samaria and its king will be lost like a piece of wood on the water.” (NLB) “Samaria and her king float away, like a twig on the water.” (NJB) Samaria wird vernichtet, sein König gleicht einem abgebrochenen Zweig auf dem Wasser. (Samaria will be destroyed, its king is like a broken-off branch on the water.) (Einheitsübersetzung, German)

    Other translators render the verse as applying only to the king. “Samaria’s monarchy is vanishing like foam upon water.” (Tanakh) “The king of Samaria shall disappear, like foam upon the waters.” (NAB) “Like a twig in a stream, the king of Samaria will be swept away.” (CEV) “Samaria’s king shall perish like a chip on the face of the waters.” (NRSV) “As for Samaria, her king is cut off, as foam upon the water.” (Margolis) “Their king will be carried off, like a chip of wood on water.” (GNT, Second Edition)

    In this context, there is uncertainty about the significance of the form of the Hebrew word (qétseph) that has been translated “twig,” “foam,” and “chip.” The Brown-Driver-Briggs lexicon gives “splinter” as a probable meaning.


    The monarchy is linked to the capital. Therefore, the overthrow of Samaria meant that no king would continue reigning there. Apparently the pathetic demise of the king is likened to the fate of worthless debris carried away by moving water.

  • Hosea 10:8
  • Masoretic Text: And the high places of Aven will be destroyed—the sin of Israel. Thorn and thistle will overgrow their altars. And they will say to the mountains, “Cover us,” and to the hills, “Fall upon us.”

    Septuagint: And the shrines of On will be removed—the sins of Israel. Thorns and thistles will overgrow their altars. And they will say to the mountains, “Cover us,” and to the hills, “Fall upon us.”

    Note: The vowel pointing of the Masoretic Text accounts for Aven. A different vowel pointing would correspond to On, which is the reading of the Septuagint.


    The high places were cultic sites, where the Israelites engaged in debased idolatrous practices, including ceremonial prostitution, drunkenness, and child sacrifice. (2 Kings 17:16, 17; Amos 2:7, 8) As locations for committing serious sins, the high places proved to be sin.

    Aven appears to be an abbreviated form of Beth-aven, the name Hosea used with apparent reference to Bethel. (See comments on 10:5.)

    In the fulfillment of the prophetic words, the Assyrians devastated the territory of the ten-tribe kingdom, including the high places. As a result, the neglected altars would have become overgrown with thorny plants and thistles.

    In view of what was to befall the Israelites at the hands of the ruthless Assyrians, they would desperately wish to escape the horrors of war. If it were possible, they would prefer to have the mountains and hills bury them in order not to experience the dire consequences from fierce military action.

  • Hosea 10:9.
  • Masoretic Text: From the days of Gibeah you have sinned, Israel. There they took their stand. Did not war overtake them at Gibeah, [war] upon the sons of unrighteousness?

    Septuagint: From when [there were] the hills, Israel has sinned. There they stood. Will not war positively overtake them on the hill, [war] upon the children of iniquity?

    Note: As in 9:9, the Septuagint renders “Gibeah” according to the meaning “hill(s).” The reading “Gibeah” of the Masoretic Text is preferable. To convey a meaning in the Septuagint, a verb needs to be added in the first phrase, and this phrase could be understood as meaning “from long ago.” The second occurrence of the word for “hill” does not fit the context as well as does the proper name “Gibeah.” With the reading “hill,” the verb for “will overtake” could mean that war would reach the sinful Israelites.

    In the Septuagint, the use of two different words for “not” serves to intensify the negative and may be understood as meaning “definitely not,” “positively not,” or “absolutely not.”

    The obscurity of this verse has led to a variety of renderings. Numerous translators have rendered the last phrase as a question, but not all have chosen the same tense. It appears that, among the various renderings, a question in the past tense best fits the context. “Did not war overtake the evildoers in Gibeah?” (NIV) “Was it not right that the wicked men of Gibeah were attacked?” (NLT)


    During the time judges administered affairs, Gibeah became infamous because of a shocking sex crime. A mob of men from the city intended to rape a Levite who, with his concubine and servant, was planning to stay overnight in the home of a hospitable old man. In apparent desperation, the Levite turned his concubine over to the men. They so abused her all night that she died in the morning. (Judges 19:12-28)

    Those who then “stood” or “took their stand” are not identified. The reference could be to the Benjamites who, in response to the request of the representatives from the other tribes, refused to hand over the guilty ones for deserved punishment and prepared for military action against their fellow Israelites. (Judges 20:12-14)

    Two attempts to defeat the Benjamites failed. In the third attempt, however, the other tribes of Israel prevailed, destroyed Gibeah and nearly exterminated the entire tribe of Benjamin. (Judges 20:17-21:3) Historically, war did overtake the “sons of unrighteousness,” the perpetrators of the sex crime in Gibeah. Therefore, when the last phrase is rendered as a question, the answer would be that war did indeed reach them. This answer would then suggest that, similarly, the sinful people of the ten-tribe kingdom would not escape war, which would be an expression of divine judgment against them.

  • Hosea 10:10.
  • Masoretic Text: In my desire, I will also chastise them, and peoples will be gathered against them, binding them for their two iniquities.

    Septuagint: He came to discipline them, and peoples will be gathered against them to discipline them for their two iniquities.


    Translators have variously rendered this verse. In the Tanakh, the verse is rearranged, connected to the words of the previous verse, and the “harnessing” or “binding” is linked to the portrayal of a heifer (verse 11). “Shall they not be overtaken by a war upon scoundrels as peoples gather against them? When I chose [them], I broke them in, harnessing them for two furrows.”

    Other translators have taken fewer liberties in an effort to convey a meaningful thought. “When I please, I will punish them; nations will be gathered against them to put them in bonds for their double sin.” (NIV) “I will come against the wayward people to punish them; and nations shall be gathered against them when they are punished for their double iniquity.” (NRSV; in part, this follows closer to the LXX reading) “When it is My desire, I will chastise them; and the peoples will be gathered against them when they are bound for their double guilt.” (NASB)

    Some have understood this verse as applying to what happened in Gibeah. This significance is reflected in translations using the past tense. “Against the wanton people I came and I chastised them; I gathered troops against them when I chastised them for their two crimes.” (NAB) According to this rendering, the “wanton people” would be the perpetrators of the shocking sex crime in Gibeah of Benjamin. The “troops gathered against them” would then be the other tribes of Israel to whom the Benjamites refused to surrender the guilty men for punishment. The two crimes could be (1) the flagrant refusal to be hospitable to the Levite and, instead, wanting to rape him and (2) the abuse of his concubine. (Compare Ezekiel 16:49, where Sodom is also revealed to have been a place where no help was provided to those in need.) Or, the abuse of the concubine could be regarded as two iniquities—rape and murder. The Septuagint, however, does not support using the past tense. Its reading definitely points to a future development.

    The opening words of the Septuagint could be understood to mean that YHWH came to execute judgment, and the means by which this judgment would be executed is next identified as the peoples who would be gathered against the Israelites.


    The people of the ten-tribe kingdom proved to be unfaithful to YHWH. Seemingly for this reason, his desire was to discipline or chastise them. The means for doing so would be other peoples, evidently their military forces. Whereas the enemy invasions led to a tremendous loss of life, not all of the Israelites perished. Possibly the “harnessing” or “binding” refers to the survivors who would be bound as captives and taken into exile. The Contemporary English Version makes this thought explicit: “Now I have decided to send nations to attack and put you in chains.”

    The context does not identify the two iniquities, errors, or sins. They could be (1) the revolt against the royal house of David and (2) the institution of calf worship. (1 Kings 12:16-20, 26-33; 2 Chronicles 13:5-9) Another possibility is that the two sins were (1) forsaking YHWH and (2) adopting calf worship. (Compare Jeremiah 2:13.) Jeroboam established two centers for calf worship, one at Dan and the other at Bethel, and this is yet another possible reason for the mention of two iniquities.

  • Hosea 10:11.
  • Masoretic Text: And Ephraim [is] a trained heifer loving to thresh. And I passed over her fair neck. I will make Ephraim to be ridden; Judah will plow; Jacob will harrow for himself.

    Septuagint: Ephraim [is] a heifer trained to love strife, but I will come upon the fairest [part] of her neck. I will put [a yoke] upon Ephraim and will ignore Judah. Jacob will strengthen himself against him.

    Note: The Septuagint differs considerably from the Masoretic Text. It appears that Ephraim is depicted as a heifer trained in resisting, but YHWH would put a yoke on the fair neck and bring Ephraim into a state of submission. Whereas Judah would be ignored or passed over in silence (perhaps meaning left without divine help), Jacob (probably representing the ten-tribe kingdom) would attain a position of superior strength. Historically, this did occur during the time of Hosea’s prophesying. King Pekah formed an alliance with the Syrian king Rezin, and administered a humiliating defeat on the kingdom of Judah. Pekah and Rezin even threatened to unseat Ahaz, the king of Judah, replacing him with the son of Tabeel, likely a foreigner not in the royal line of David. (2 Chronicles 28:5-14; Isaiah 7:1-6)


    Ephraim, as the dominant tribe, represents the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel. Apparently with reference to the time when the kingdom found itself in a strong and prosperous state, Ephraim was like a heifer that enjoyed threshing. This agricultural operation was comparatively easy and permitted the heifer to feed on the grain. (Compare Deuteronomy 25:4.) In expression of his judgment against the people for their unfaithfulness, however, YHWH would effect a change.

    The expression about passing over the neck has been translated to convey two basic meanings. (1) The neck of the threshing heifer was unencumbered by a yoke. “I spared her fair neck.” (NRSV) (2) A yoke would be placed upon the neck. “I decided to put a yoke on her beautiful neck and to harness her for harder work.” (GNT, Second Edition) “I placed a yoke upon her sleek neck.” (Tanakh)

    The “riding” of Ephraim is probably to be understood of being placed in a position of humiliating submission. Translators have variously rendered the Hebrew word for “ride.” “I will drive Ephraim.” (NIV) “I will make Ephraim do advance plowing.” (Tanakh) “I will make Ephraim break the ground.” (NRSV) “Ephraim was to be harnessed.” (NAB) Historically, the reference likely is to the consequences from Israel’s coming, by YHWH’s permission, under the heavy Assyrian yoke, which eventually led to the devastation of the land and the exile of the surviving Israelites.

    Judah’s plowing evidently is descriptive of hard labor without any rewards. This also pointed to a future punitive judgment for unfaithfulness.

    Jacob could either represent the people of the ten-tribe kingdom or all the tribes. They would be forced to harrow, breaking up the clods. This would signify performing slavish labor without any refreshing benefits. Foreign oppression and humiliating military defeats brought “Jacob” into such an undesirable situation.

  • Hosea 10:12.
  • Masoretic Text: Sow for yourselves in righteousness. Reap according to loyalty. Till for yourselves untilled ground. And the time to seek YHWH [is] until he will come and rain righteousness on you.

    Septuagint: Sow for yourselves in righteousness. Reap [the] fruit of life. Light for yourselves the light of knowledge. Seek the Lord until the fruit of righteousness comes to you.

    Note: Although the reading of the Septuagint differs somewhat from the Masoretic Text, the basic thoughts are similar. According to the reading of the Septuagint, the fruitage from sowing in righteousness would be life, apparently a longer and more meaningful life. The light needed for illumination would be the light of knowledge, primarily the knowledge of YHWH as manifested by conduct harmonizing with his revealed will. Seeking YHWH, wanting his approval and guidance, should continue until he bestows upon the seekers the “fruit of righteousness” or the rewards for laudable conduct.


    By living upright lives in attitude, word, and action, the Israelites would be heeding the directive to sow righteousness or to “sow in righteousness,” that is, in the realm of righteousness. The fruitage from such sowing would be according to loyalty, graciousness, kindness or mercy. (Regarding the significance of chésed, the Hebrew word that can mean “loyalty,” see 4:1.) This may be understood to mean that the ones sowing would become the recipients of YHWH’s abiding loyalty or kindness, which would be evident in his loving care and guidance.

    For the Israelites to till uncultivated ground evidently refers to their preparing themselves to be receptive to YHWH’s guidance, ridding themselves of everything that would hinder the production of good fruit in the form of commendable conduct and actions. It was then a time to seek YHWH, wanting to be recognized by him as approved and to share in the blessings to be bestowed at his coming for judgment. He would then rain righteousness on all whom he found in an approved condition. This likely refers to YHWH’s upholding his righteousness and acting in keeping with his promise to bless those who live in harmony with his commands. The outpouring of blessings would be abundant, comparable to a refreshing downpour of rain.

  • Hosea 10:13.
  • Masoretic Text: You have plowed wickedness. You have reaped iniquity. You have eaten the fruit of falsehood, for you have trusted in your way, in the multitude of your warriors.

    Septuagint: Why have you ignored impiety and reaped its iniquities? You have eaten deceptive fruit, for you have trusted in your chariots, in the abundance of your strength.


    The Septuagint rendering for the first part of this verse is a question, calling upon the Israelites to answer why they had chosen a course that did not benefit them. They had ignored ungodliness, passing it over in silence instead of taking a firm stand against it. This led to a harvest of iniquities, that is, all manner of injurious, debased, corrupt, and unjust practices.

    The Masoretic Text makes no mention of chariots, as does the Septuagint. A number of translations either follow the reading of the Septuagint or call attention to it in footnotes. “Because you have trusted in your chariots.” (NAB, Tanakh, footnote)


    Plowing transforms uncultivated soil into a field suitable for sowing. The Israelites, however, did not make the desirable changes that plowing effects and which would have been a major step in producing good fruitage. Instead, wickedness characterized their cultivation process, and this only produced iniquity, injustice, or moral decay. The fruit of their reaping and from which they drew their strength proved to be nourishment of falsehood, for it deluded them. The Israelites considered themselves in a safe position, relying on lifeless deities and military might. They abandoned YHWH as the dependable source of aid, guidance, and protection and chose their own ways—idolatrous practices and forming alliances. The “warriors” in whom they trusted for protection would have included the “valiant men” from other nations with whom they had made alliances.

  • Hosea 10:14.
  • Masoretic Text: And an uproar will arise among your people, and all of your fortified cities will be devastated, like Shalman’s devastation of Beth-arbel in the day of war; a mother upon [her] sons was dashed [to the ground].

    Septuagint: And destruction will arise among your people, and all your walled places will be destroyed. As [in the time of] the ruler Salaman out of the house of Jerobaal, in the days of war, they dashed [to the ground] a mother upon [her] children.


    Neither Shalman (Salaman) nor Beth-arbel can be identified with any degree of certainty. All identifications are merely conjectures.

    Perhaps Shalman is an abbreviation for Shalmaneser. Even among those who have offered this suggestion, there is no general agreement about which Shalmaneser it might be. One possibility is the Assyrian monarch who undertook punitive action against Israelite king Hoshea. (2 Kings 17:3, 4)

    An inscription of Assyrian monarch Tiglath-pileser III mentions the Moabite king Salamanu. Footnotes in a number of translations mention this Moabite king as a possible identification for Shalman. (CEV, NAB, TOB [French])

    A footnote in the Tanakh suggests that the reference may be to Shallum. (2 Kings 15:10) Although no atrocities are ascribed to Shallum against women and children upon his assassinating Zechariah and seizing the throne, Menahem, the next usurper, did make himself guilty of such brutality. (2 Kings 15:16)

    One common suggestion is that Beth-arbel may have been a city in Gilead. The Septuagint rendering of the Hebrew Beth-arbel is according to the meaning of the Hebrew “Beth” (house) and a seeming transliteration of “arbel” (Jerobaal or, based on other Septuagint manuscript evidence, Jeroboam).


    The “uproar” among the people likely designates the tumult resulting from ruthless military action. In the Septuagint, the reference is to destruction. In the fulfillment, the Assyrian punitive campaign devastated the ten-tribe kingdom. The invaders destroyed fortified cities and ruthlessly killed women and children.

    In this case, “mother” may be a collective singular, referring to all the mothers who would perish. Hosea’s mentioning Shalman as an example of what lay ahead for the Israelites suggests that this ruler’s brutal action must have been in the people’s recent memory. The sons or children may have been killed first, possibly by being dashed against rocks. Afterwards, the “mother” perished in the same gruesome way on top of her sons or children.

  • Hosea 10:15.
  • Masoretic Text: Thus he will do to you, Bethel, because of the evil, your evil. In [the morning] twilight being cut off, [yes] cut off, the king of Israel will be.

    Septuagint: Thus I will do to you, house of Israel, from the face of your evils. [At] dawn they were cast out; the king of Israel was cast out.


    The opening words of the Masoretic Text have been rendered either as meaning the calamity to befall Bethel or the adverse judgment to be experienced by the Israelites on account of Bethel (with apparent reference to the city’s being a center of calf worship). The reason for the difference is that the third person verb is regarded as meaning “he will do” or as having Bethel as the subject (Bethel will do). Examples are: “So shall it be done to you, Bethel.” (NAB) “Thus will it happen to you, O Bethel.” (NIV) “Thus it shall be done to you, O Bethel.” (NRSV) “So shall Bethel do unto you.” (Darby) “So Bethel will do to you.” (NJB) “This is what Bethel has done to you.” (Tanakh)

    According to the rendering of the Septuagint, YHWH is the one who acts against the Israelites. The people of the entire ten-tribe kingdom experienced the severe judgment YHWH executed by means of the Assyrians, and so the Septuagint rendering “house of Israel” fits the historical context better. The expression “from the face of your evils” apparently is to be understood to mean “on account of your evils.”

    The repetition of the Hebrew word for “evil” (ra’) denotes evil to the superlative degree. This is reflected in the renderings of various translations—“utter wickedness” (NAB), “great wickedness” (NRSV), and “horrible wickedness” (Tanakh).

    In the Masoretic Text, the infinitive form of the word for “cut off” (damáh) is followed by the verb form of “cut off,” the repetition signifying “surely cut off.” Although the Septuagint repeats the verb (aporrípto) meaning “cast out,” “throw away,” “reject,” or “abandon,” the significance differs from the Masoretic Text.


    The preferable meaning of the Masoretic Text may be to consider “he” or YHWH as the One taking the action. Just as Beth-arbel experienced the horrors of war, so Bethel would not escape a similar fate. YHWH would permit this destruction to come upon Bethel on account of its great evil, evidently all the debased practices associated with calf worship.

    Both the Masoretic Text and the Septuagint indicate that the king would come to his end. Perhaps the Hebrew text is to be understood as meaning that swiftly and unexpectedly, as in the brief time between morning twilight and sunrise, the king would be “cut off” or destroyed. The Septuagint reading may mean that the Israelites of the ten-tribe kingdom found themselves “cast out” from their land quickly and unexpectedly, and the king had been forcibly deprived of his position. So certain was this that it could be spoken of as an accomplished fact.