Sexual Immorality, violence, and disregard for the truth are the downfall of Israel. The religious leaders of Israel have been chosen for their task by Divine Providence and they have responsibility for how Israel behaves. This applies even when the religious conceptions to which they are attached are based on idolatrous sources. Judah is warned not to go in the pathway of Ephraim. Sin brings its own punishment and in some degree is itself punishment.
The Book of Hosea
Chapter Four with Brit-Am Commentary:
[Hosea 4:1] HEAR THE WORD OF THE LORD, YE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL: FOR
THE LORD HATH A CONTROVERSY WITH THE INHABITANTS OF THE LAND, BECAUSE THERE IS
NO TRUTH, NOR MERCY, NOR KNOWLEDGE OF GOD IN THE LAND.
Truth, mercy, and knowledge of God are intertwined with each other. Seek the truth, own up to the truth, and you will obtain knowledge of God. Mercy will be shown unto you and you will be enabled to show mercy to others.
[Hosea 4:2] BY SWEARING, AND LYING, AND KILLING, AND STEALING, AND COMMITTING
ADULTERY, THEY BREAK OUT, AND BLOOD TOUCHETH BLOOD.
So-called "free love" is not merciful and not loving. It results in violence and dishonesty.
Northern Israelites always had an
inclination to violence and immorality. So did Judah in its own way but over the centuries Judah developed faults of their own alongside obvious virtues.
[Hosea 4:3] THEREFORE SHALL THE LAND MOURN, AND EVERY ONE THAT DWELLETH
THEREIN SHALL LANGUISH, WITH THE BEASTS OF THE FIELD, AND WITH THE FOWLS OF
HEAVEN; YEA, THE FISHES OF THE SEA ALSO SHALL BE TAKEN AWAY.
Perhaps this is referring to future ecological disasters that as a result of our sins may well affect maritime creatures?
Our sins are destroying the ecological system of the Oceans and watersystems, as well as the forests and fields, and destroying the atmosphere.
[Hosea 4:4] YET LET NO MAN STRIVE, NOR REPROVE ANOTHER: FOR THY PEOPLE ARE AS
THEY THAT STRIVE WITH THE PRIEST.
[Hosea 4:5] THEREFORE SHALT THOU FALL IN THE DAY, AND THE PROPHET ALSO SHALL
FALL WITH THEE IN THE NIGHT, AND I WILL DESTROY THY MOTHER.
[Hosea 4:6] MY PEOPLE ARE DESTROYED FOR LACK OF KNOWLEDGE: BECAUSE THOU HAST
REJECTED KNOWLEDGE, I WILL ALSO REJECT THEE, THAT THOU SHALT BE NO PRIEST TO ME:
SEEING THOU HAST FORGOTTEN THE LAW OF THY GOD, I WILL ALSO FORGET THY
The Hebrew implies, "I will
you from [continuing to] officiate [as a priest] for me" and it is seemingly
addressed to all the people of northern Israel. This shows that they had been
intended to play a role as being in some way ministers of the Divine Purpose on
a national level.
Professor Zeev Wiseman ["Olam HaTanaach"] understands the Hebrew as saying that because of the religious leaders the people have gone astray.
It is the religious leaders who determine the moral standards of the people. The concept is that religious leaders ("Cohens", "priests") even if they officiate at a false religion have a duty towards the people.
It is as if they have been chosen by God and will have to give an account. Their responsibility is greater. In a sense anyone who teaches religion and what is connected to it is a religious leader and so are we. Religious leaders have a duty to strive to know the truth and to lead the people in the right path.
[Hosea 4:7] AS THEY WERE INCREASED, SO THEY SINNED AGAINST ME: THEREFORE WILL I
CHANGE THEIR GLORY INTO SHAME.
They were increased and they had
[Hosea 4:8] THEY EAT UP THE SIN OF MY PEOPLE, AND THEY SET THEIR HEART ON THEIR
[Hosea 4:9] AND THERE SHALL BE, LIKE PEOPLE, LIKE PRIEST: AND I WILL PUNISH
THEM FOR THEIR WAYS, AND REWARD THEM THEIR DOINGS.
The punishment comes as a result of actions as pointed out by Professor Zeev Wiseman.
[Hosea 4:10] FOR THEY SHALL EAT, AND NOT HAVE ENOUGH: THEY SHALL COMMIT
WHOREDOM, AND SHALL NOT INCREASE: BECAUSE THEY HAVE LEFT OFF TO TAKE HEED TO THE
[Hosea 4:11] WHOREDOM AND WINE AND NEW WINE TAKE AWAY THE HEART.
[Hosea 4:12] MY PEOPLE ASK COUNSEL AT THEIR STOCKS, AND THEIR STAFF DECLARETH
UNTO THEM: FOR THE SPIRIT OF WHOREDOMS HATH CAUSED THEM TO ERR, AND THEY HAVE
GONE A WHORING FROM UNDER THEIR GOD.
"MY PEOPLE ASK COUNSEL AT THEIR STOCKS"
[Hosea 4:12]: The Hebrew says, "My people will inquire of their tree" or "from
their wood." : "and their stick tells them."
According to Herodotus, The Scythians
used sticks for divining purposes. The exiled Israelites became identified with
[Hosea 4:13] THEY SACRIFICE UPON THE TOPS OF THE MOUNTAINS, AND BURN INCENSE
UPON THE HILLS, UNDER OAKS AND POPLARS AND ELMS, BECAUSE THE SHADOW THEREOF IS
GOOD: THEREFORE YOUR DAUGHTERS SHALL COMMIT WHOREDOM, AND YOUR SPOUSES SHALL
[Hosea 4:14] I WILL NOT PUNISH YOUR DAUGHTERS WHEN THEY COMMIT WHOREDOM, NOR
YOUR SPOUSES WHEN THEY COMMIT ADULTERY: FOR THEMSELVES ARE SEPARATED WITH
WHORES, AND THEY SACRIFICE WITH HARLOTS: THEREFORE THE PEOPLE THAT DOTH NOT
UNDERSTAND SHALL FALL.
Zeev Wiseman points out that the father is commanded not to give his daughter over to whoredom,
"DO NOT PROSTITUTE THY DAUGHTER, TO CAUSE HER TO BE A WHORE; LEST THE LAND FALL TO WHOREDOM, AND THE LAND BECOME FULL OF WICKEDNESS"[Leviticus 19:29]. From this verse we learn the prohibition against sex before marriage.
Both the male and female are commanded to abstain. Nevertheless the emphasis in Hebraic thought appears to be on the male more than on the female whereas with Arabs and most other peoples the emphasis of blame when transgressions occur is placed on the female.
[Hosea 4:15] THOUGH THOU, ISRAEL, PLAY THE HARLOT, YET LET NOT JUDAH OFFEND; AND
COME NOT YE UNTO GILGAL, NEITHER GO YE UP TO BETHAVEN, NOR SWEAR, THE LORD
Judah is being spoken of here and warned not to follow after the bad example of northern "Israel". Judah is told not to swear by the name of the Living God and not go to places in "Israel" where idolatry is practised.
is near Bethel. Besides Bethel the mountain silhouettes form the name of God
(as seen from a satellite) and to the north they form the name of Ephraim.
For a picture of this phenomenon see:
TESTIMONY IN ROCK
was also a name given on old maps to the region formerly belonging to the
Batavians in Holland around The Hague and Rotterdam.
[Hosea 4:16] FOR ISRAEL SLIDETH BACK AS A BACKSLIDING HEIFER: NOW THE LORD
WILL FEED THEM AS A LAMB IN A LARGE PLACE.
[Hosea 4:17] EPHRAIM IS JOINED TO IDOLS: LET HIM ALONE.
"Ephraim is joined to idols" in Hebrew,
Ephraim " which has a double meaning also implying "Ephraim is a union of
idols." The Rabbis (Midrash Tanchuma) said that the verse hinted at Ephraim being unified even
though they were idolaters and by virtue of this unity (says the Sages) he is
still formidable, "LET HIM ALONE."
[Hosea 4:18] THEIR DRINK IS SOUR: THEY HAVE COMMITTED WHOREDOM CONTINUALLY: HER
RULERS WITH SHAME DO LOVE, GIVE YE.
[Hosea 4:19] THE WIND HATH BOUND HER UP IN HER WINGS, AND THEY SHALL BE ASHAMED
BECAUSE OF THEIR SACRIFICES.