HOSEA, his wife, and children were used as graphic living symbols of Israel in her relation to God. In Chapter I appears the account of the Lord's commanding him to take a fallen woman, Gomer by name, as his wife, who bore him a son, who was Jezreel. Her second child, a daughter, was named "Lo-ruhamah" which signified that "I (God) will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel that I should in any wise pardon them." Their third child, a son, was given the name "Lo-ammi," the significance of its name being "Ye are not my people, and I will not be your God." After this it seemed that Gomer deserted her husband and went back into the sinful life which she lived before her marriage to the prophet.

The Lord spoke again to the prophet commanding him to go and love "a woman beloved of her friend, and an adulteress." (The indication here is that this woman was none other than Gomer, his unfaithful disloyal wife). Obedient to the command of God, he
went and purchased her, paying the price of an ordinary slave, charging her "thou shalt abide for me many days; thou shalt not play the harlot and thou shalt not be any man's wife," and promising her "so will I also be toward thee." Israel's entire history through the centuries is thus graphically set forth pictorially before the people in the persons of Hosea and his wife. Terah, the father of Abraham, was an idolater (Josh. 24:2); in Egypt Israel worshipped idols (Ezek. 20:8); and during the time of the Judges and that of the monarchy both Israel and Judah engaged more or less in idolatry, by which conduct they showed their disloyalty to God; hence, spiritually speaking, they were guilty of adultery, for God was the husband of the nation of Israel (Isa. 54:4-8). At the time of the Babylonian captivity the Shekinah of Glory departed from the temple הֵיכַל which act symbolized God's giving Israel up. Here terminates the period of Israel's marital relationship with God, her husband.

With the captivity Israel entered upon the period of her widowhood (Isa. 54:4) which will continue until her Messiah
comes in glory. The seventy years of residence in Babylon with its persecutions and the curtailment of her liberties proved to be a purifying time during which every vestige of the grosser forms of idolatry was purged from the nation. During the present period, Israel, though scattered among the nations, has never been assimilated into them but has maintained her national life and independent existence, which facts are the fulfillment of the symbolic act of Hosea's wife's obeying the charge "thou shall abide for me many days; thou shalt not play the harlot, and thou shalt not be any man's wife."

In Chapter 3:4,5, Hosea, explaining the significance of his living in separation from his wife and of their waiting for the time when they will again enter the marital state, said:

כִּי יָמִים רַבִּים יֵשְׁבוּ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֵין מֶלֶךְ וְאֵין שָׂר וְאֵין זֶבַח וְאֵין מַצֵּבָה וְאֵין אֵפוֹד וּתְרָפִים׃ אַחַר יָשֻׁבוּ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וּבִקְשׁוּ אֶת־יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיהֶם וְאֵת דָּוִיד מַלְכָּם וּפָחֲדוּ אֶל־יְהוָה וְאֶל־טוּבוֹ בְּאַחֲרִית הַיָּמִים׃

"For the children of Israel shall abide many days without king, and without prince, and without sacrifice, and without pillar, and without ephod or teraphim: afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king, and shall come with fear unto the Lord and to His goodness in the latter-days."

During her present period of widowhood (from captivity to coming of the Messiah in glory), Israel has neither king nor prince; sacrifice nor pillar; ephod nor teraphim.

Here appear three pairs of opposites, which series accurately portrays her condition and explains her miserable lot during these centuries. The first member of each of these pairs presents the divine side whereas the second gives the human; hence the king is of divine appointment, since the kingdom of Israel is the kingdom of the Lord (I Chron. 28:5) and the throne upon which He sits is the
כִּסֵּא יְהוָה throne of the Lord (I Chron. 29:23). But, says the prophet, "many days" Israel shall not have a king, that is, God will not give them a king; neither shall they have a prince שָׂר, that is, a ruler of their own choice. That the word prince refers to a ruler selected by the people is seen when one notes the fact that this verse is written in Hebrew parallelism, and that the second member of the latter two pairs refers to things of human origin. Hence "prince," the second member of the first couplet, falls into the same human category as the second member of the latter two couplets.

The second couplet affirms that during this period Israel is not to have any sacrifices, that is, no acceptable system of ceremonies and worship in which God will be pleased and which he will accept.¹²

Likewise, they shall be without pillar, that is, shall not engage in idolatrous worship. That such is the meaning of the statement is clear from the fact that from the exodus onward the word
מַצֵּבָה pillar, with the exception of Ex. 24:4 and Isa. 19:19, universally refers to idolatrous worship, which is forbidden in Lev. 26:1. The captivity of the ten tribes into Assyria is attributed to a violation of this injunction (II Kgs. 17:10,11,18).

The first member of the third couplet is an ephod, which Israel shall lack during this period of widowhood. As is well known to Bible students, the ephod was part of the paraphernalia of the High Priest to which were attached the Urim and Thummin. At various times God revealed His will in Israel through it (see I Sam. 23:9-12; 30:7,8). The second member of this last couplet is "teraphim." The teraphim³ was an image which was used by the heathen as an object of worship and also as a means of receiving communications from heathen gods. In the degenerate days of the judges, when every man did that which was right in his own eyes, Micah, an Ephraimite (Judg. 17:5) had "a house of gods, and he made an ephod, and teraphim." Of course, such gross idolatry was forbidden of God; therefore during this period under consideration, God has purged out this evil abominable practice.

The gist of the message set forth in these three couplets may be expressed in the language of another: "the first speaks plainly of a king; the second of the sacrifice, with which, of course, is bound up the idea of
priesthood; and in this last we have a reference to the revealing of the mind of God which is more properly connected with the prophetic office." That the above interpretation is not one patent to Christians is seen by an examination of Kimchi's comment on the expression "many days." "These are the days of this present captivity, in which we are in the power of the Gentiles, and in the power of their kings and princes, and we are 'without a sacrifice and without an image,' i.e., without a sacrifice to God and without an image to false gods; and 'without an ephod and without teraphim.' i.e., without an ephod to God, by means of which we could foretell the future as with the Urim and Thummin; and without teraphim to false gods. This is the present condition of all the children of Israel in this present captivity"* (Baron).

The period of widowhood is brought to a close "in the latter days" when the children of Israel shall return, "seek the Lord their God, and David their king, and shall come with fear unto the Lord and to His goodness." The statement that Israel shall return and shall seek the Lord her God assumes that she has departed from Him during this period, and that she has been out of fellowship with Him. This assumption is confirmed by various statements from the prophets. The message of Azariah, the son of Obed, to King Asa of Judah states clearly the principles underlying God's rejection or setting Israel aside, and of their return to Him.

וַעֲזַרְיָהוּ בֶּן־עוֹדֵד הָיְתָה עָלָיו רוּחַ אֱלֹהִים׃ וַיֵּצֵא לִפְנֵי אָסָא וַיֹּאמֶר לוֹ שְׁמָעוּנִי אָסָא וְכָל־יְהוּדָה וּבִנְיָמִן יְהוָה עִמָּכֶם בִּהְיוֹתְכֶם עִמּוֹ וְאִם־תִּדְרְשֻׁהוּ יִמָּצֵא לָכֶם וְאִם־תַּעַזְבֻהוּ יַעֲזֹב אֶתְכֶם׃ וְיָמִים רַבִּים לְיִשְׂרָאֵל לְלֹא אֱלֹהֵי אֱמֶת וּלְלֹא כֹּהֵן מוֹרֶה וּלְלֹא תוֹרָה׃ וַיָּשָׁב בַּצַּר לוֹ עַל־יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וַיְבַקְשֻׁהוּ וַיִּמָּצֵא לָהֶם׃ וּבָעִתִּים הָהֵם אֵין שָׁלוֹם לַיּוֹצֵא וְלַבָּא כִּי מְהוּמֹת רַבּוֹת עַל כָּל־יֹשְׁבֵי הָאֲרָצוֹת׃ וְכֻתְּתוּ גוֹי־בְּגוֹי וְעִיר בְּעִיר כִּי־אֱלֹהִים הֲמָמָם בְּכָל־צָרָה׃ וְאַתֶּם חִזְקוּ וְאַל־יִרְפּוּ יְדֵיכֶם כִּי יֵשׁ שָׂכָר לִפְעֻלַּתְכֶם׃

"And the spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded; and he went out to meet Asa, and said unto him: Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin: the Lord is with you, while ye are with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you. Now for a long season Israel was without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law: but when in their distress they turned unto the Lord, the God of Israel, and sought him, he was found of them. And in those times there was no peace to him that went out, nor to him that came in; but great vexations were upon all the inhabitants of the lands. And they were broken in pieces, nation against nation, and city against city; for God did vex them with all adversity. But be ye strong, and let not your hands be slack; for your work shall be rewarded" (II Chron. 15:1-7).

At various times in her history Israel has forsaken God Who, in turn, gave her up; hence she was "without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law: but when in their distress they turned unto the Lord, the God of Israel, and sought him, he was found of them." The period referred to by "many days" is the longest period during which she has been without God, and, thank God, it will be the last one, for at the termination of this period she will seek the Lord earnestly with all her heart and find Him (Jer. 29:13). For predictions of her national repentance and her turning to God at the termination of this period, see Isa. 53:1-9, Jer. 3:21-25, Zech. 12:10-14.

The statement given by Ezekiel in Chapter 21:25-27 confirms the interpretation of this passage: "And thou, 0 deadly wounded wicked one, the prince of Israel, whose day is come, in the time of the iniquity of the end, thus saith the Lord God: Remove the mitre, and take off the crown; this
shall be no more the same; exalt that which is low, and abase that which is high. I will overturn, overturn, overturn it: this also shall be no more, until he come whose right it is; and I will give it him." Ezekiel in the form of a command announced the deposing of both the priesthood and the regal line in the following words: "Remove the mitre and take off the crown." The expression "this shall be no more the same" means that the order existing prior to that time shall be discontinued. The next statement, "Exalt that which is low, and abase that which is high," though in the form of a command, in reality is but another way of saying, "If ye exalt that which is low and abase that which is high," and forms the condition to which the following words are the conclusion, "I will overturn, overturn, overturn it." These words assert to the "deadly wounded wicked one, the prince of Israel, whose day is come in the time of the iniquity of the end" that whatever efforts are made at a revolution to overthrow any existing order or to establish a certain program in Israel will be unsuccessful, for God will bring to nought every effort of man to re-establish the priesthood and royal line. For there is to be no such thing "until he come whose right it is, and I will give it him."

When He comes "Whose right it is," Israel's sorrow and long night will be turned into joy and the bright, glorious day--"a morning without clouds" (II Sam. 23:4). He will ascend the throne of David (Isa. 9:6,7) which is the throne of the Lord (I Chron. 29:23), and His reign will endure forever, and His throne as the sun before Me (Lord) (Psa. 89:36,37). The kings of the Davidic line sat upon the throne of the Lord as substitutes, functioning as rulers of the chosen race, the kingdom of God in their day, and in their imperfect way occupying the time "until He come Whose right it is" (cf. Gen. 49:10). None of them could claim an absolute inherent right to the throne of David, the throne of God, because they were imperfect, sinful men; but the Child Whose birth Isaiah predicts (Isa. 9:6,7 (5,6) and Who is named "Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" is the Only One Who can rightfully claim it and sit thereon, because He is the God-Man, God manifest in the flesh; hence He has an absolute right to the throne of the Lord. At that time the Lord shall be King over all the earth (Zech. 14:9) and there shall be no more curse (v. 11). When King Messiah reigns, according to this passage and many others, "the children of Israel shall return, and seek the Lord their God" from Whom they have during these long centuries turned away. Furthermore, they will seek David their king. This prediction of their seeking David simply refers to the return of the ten Northern tribes who turned away from the house of David (I Kings 12:16), the expression "David their king" referring to the Messiah, Who is, humanly speaking, a descendant of David. Furthermore, they will "come with fear unto the Lord and to His goodness in the latter days." This statement repeats the prediction that Israel shall in penitence return to God and, in her turning to God, she comes unto His goodness, i.e., the blessings of a material nature and likewise spiritual which He will bestow upon her (cf. Hos. 2:8).

The analysis of this prediction sets forth very graphically the crooked and uneven path over which Israel has journeyed and will in the future travel.

HOSEA 5:14-6:3 (5:15-6:4)

In this passage of Scripture are presented most of the various experiences of Israel in relation to Messiah, beginning with her rejection of God and her disobedience until she in genuine repentance returns to the Lord, and the Messiah returns a second time to make her a blessing in the world. In 5:9 appears a definite prediction of the desolation, on account of her sins, which, according to the historical evidence, was fulfilled in the downfall of the ten tribes which occurred in 722 B.C. In the next verse likewise appears a prediction concerning the judgment of God which would be poured out upon the kingdom of Judah for their "removing the land mark" which prediction probably referred, not to literal land marks, but to the people's ceasing to worship God alone and their following the Baal worship of the Northern kingdom. Verse 11 reiterates the overwhelming threatening judgment. In verse 12 God in a figure predicts the threatened judgment of Judah. Verse 13 presents the futility of the efforts on the part of Israel and Judah to obtain aid from Assyria.

כִּי אָנֹכִי כַשַּׁחַל לְאֶפְרַיִם וְכַכְּפִיר לְבֵית יְהוּדָה אֲנִי אֲנִי אֶטְרֹף וְאֵלֵךְ אֶשָּׂא וְאֵין מַצִּיל׃

"For I will be unto Ephraim as a lion, and as a young lion to the house of Judah: I, even I, will tear and go away; I will carry off, and there shall be none to deliver."

In this prediction God compares Himself to a lion in His bringing judgment upon Ephraim and to a young lion in His punishment of Judah. As stated above, God fulfilled the threatened judgment when He acted as a lion to Ephraim in His overruling the political policy of Assyria, and in His causing her to invade and to crush the kingdom of Israel in 722 B.C. Likewise, He was as a young lion to the house of Judah when He by His over-ruling providence caused Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, to crush the southern kingdom and to take the captives into Babylonian exile, which calamity occurred in the period 606 to 585 B.C. In these two judgments God was simply fulfilling the threat "I, even I, will tear and go away; I will carry off and there shall be none to deliver." The tearing of Judah was not a fatal death blow, humanly speaking, as was the tearing of Ephraim, for, in the former case, God brought back the willing exiles--approximately 50,000--after seventy years, and re-established the nation. Just at the time of the downfall of the nation and its captivity God, left Israel, as is seen in (Ezek. 9-11). But though Judah was reorganized after the exile, God did not dwell in her midst as He had done prior to the national overthrow. The final tearing of the nation, limb from limb, as it were, came in the disaster of 66 to 70 A.D. At this latter time God forsook Judah, going away and leaving her to her own fate. From that day until the present Israel has been scattered among the nations and has suffered untold persecution, though earnest, sincere hearts within the nation have pled for the Lord to return and to restore it to its place of supremacy above the nations. The facts that God restored the nation after the overthrow and Babylonian exile, and that in 66-70 A.D. completely annihilated her national existence, scattering her among the nations and refusing to hear her earnest petitions for nineteen hundred years (cf. Isa. 59:1-8) prove overwhelmingly two things: firstly, that the sin which caused the latter disaster was more heinous in God's sight than that which caused the former one; and, secondly, that this sin has never been repented of, for when she repents God will forgive and place her in her rightful place among the nations (Jer. 3:11-25). That God thus deals with Israel is clearly seen from the facts concerning Achan's sin (Josh. 7), which are as follows: Achan's sin in seizing the forbidden spoil; Israel's defeat at Ai because of the disrupted fellowship with God, which fellowship was broken by the sin; the national renunciation and removal of the sin; and the restoration to fellowship with God and complete victory over her enemies.

A glance at the centuries immediately preceding the overthrow in 70 A.D. reveals no such gross sins as idolatry and immorality, which sins precipitated the disaster of 606 B.C.; but, on the other hand, such a glance at the history of those times reveals many sterling and excellent qualities of the nation. Among the sins of the nation during those centuries there is none which, according to the author's judgment, would justify such an over-whelming disaster and age-long rejection such as Israel has and
is experiencing. There is one event, however, which had within it the potentialities of such a calamity. If a mistake was made in the disposition of the same, the punishment of God upon the nation would bring such conditions as have prevailed for the past 1900 years, namely, the rejection of the entire nation and their dispersion throughout the world. This event is none other than the rejection on the part of the nation of King Messiah Whom God sends to bless it. The rejection of Him by the nation is a sin of such magnitude and gravity as to justify the humiliating national overthrow and subsequent dispersion among the nations. In vain the historian searches for any event in this period of time, the acceptance or rejection of which carried with it consequences of such far-reaching results comparable to the case of the acceptance or rejection of the Messiah. This supposition seems to the author to promise a working hypothesis at least for explaining the national calamity and overthrow since, according to Gen. 49:10, the ruling power was to remain in the tribe of Judah until Shiloh, who is none other than the Messiah, shall come. Since the national overthrow came in the year 70 of the common era when Titus, the Roman general, captured Jerusalem, and since the Messiah was scheduled to come before that event, the proof afforded by these conditions is all but positive that it was the rejection of King Messiah by the nation that brought on this national calamity.

Therefore though Hosea does not state in so many words that the rejection of Messiah by the nation is the cause of the national overthrow, it is presupposed or implied by his language, for every result must have an efficient cause, there being no other adequate reason for the result except her rejection of Him (Hos. 5:14(15).

אֵלֵךְ אָשׁוּבָה אֶל־מְקוֹמִי עַד אֲשֶׁר יֶאְשְׁמוּ וּבִקְשׁוּ פָנָי בַּצַּר לָהֶם יְשַׁחֲרֻנְנִי׃

"I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face."

These words imply that the Lord has come to the nation, has torn it, and has gone back to the place of His abode, namely, the heaven of heavens (Psa. 115:16). The period of the Lord's absence after tearing the nation is to the present time approximately nineteen centuries. This period of their dispersion will be brought to a close when "in their affliction they will seek me earnestly."

Israel in her affliction will realize her utter dependence upon God, and having none other upon whom to lean will turn to God with all of her heart. This period of her dispersion ends with the period which Jeremiah called "the time of Jacob's trouble" (Jer. 30:6,7). In the midst of her affliction there will be universal mourning as Zechariah said in Chapter 12:10f. Then shall they say:

לְכוּ וְנָשׁוּבָה אֶל־יְהוָה כִּי הוּא טָרָף וְיִרְפָּאֵנוּ יַךְ וְיַחְבְּשֵׁנוּ׃ יְחַיֵּנוּ מִיֹּמָיִם בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁלִישִׁי יְקִמֵנוּ וְנִחְיֶה לְפָנָיו׃ וְנֵדְעָה נִרְדְּפָה לָדַעַת אֶת־יְהוָה כְּשַׁחַר נָכוֹן מֹצָאוֹ וְיָבוֹא כַגֶּשֶׁם לָנוּ כְּמַלְקוֹשׁ יוֹרֶה אָרֶץ׃

"Come, and let us return unto Jehovah; for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days will he revive us: on the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live before him. And let us know, let us follow on to know the Lord: his going forth is sure as the morning; and he will come unto us as the rain, as the latter rain that watereth the earth" (Hos. 6:1-3).

Verse 1, quoted above, is the prophet's call to the generation of the nation living at the time of Jacob's trouble to return unto God Who has smitten but Who will heal. This repentance is the subject of Jeremiah 3:21-25. When Israel returns to the Lord then He, Whom she has rejected, "will come unto us (the repentant generation at that time) as the rain, the latter rain that watereth the earth."

Therefore in this passage there is implied, as stated above, Israel's rejection of her Messiah; but His rejection of her, His returning to His place in glory, her long night of rejection, her distress in the end time, her repentance and her returning to God, and Messiah's return are clearly stated.


¹ A glance at the liturgies that are in use in Russia and Eastern Europe confirms the interpretation of this prophecy as given above. In connection with certain sacrificial regulations found in Leviticus and the Mishna, there appears the following prayer: "Lord, Lord of the universe, thou hast commanded us to offer a continual sacrifice in its appointed seasons, and that the priests should stand in their services and the Levites in their ministry, and Israel in their appointed place. But now, through our iniquity the temple is destroyed, a continual sacrifice has ceased, and we have neither priest in his service or Levite in his ministry ... therefore, let it please Thee, Oh Lord, our God, and the God of our fathers, that the words of our lips (by which is meant the repetition of the portions of Scripture where sacrifices are commanded), may be esteemed ... and acceptable before Thee, as if we had offered continual sacrifice and as if we stood in our appointed position." After reading the Mishna in connection with the sprinkling and pouring of the blood of various sin offerings, there likewise appears this prayer: "May it please thee, 0 Lord our God, and the God of our Fathers, that if I am guilty of a sin for which I ought to bring a sin offering, that this ritual may be acceptable before thee as if I had brought a sin offering" (Baron). The only offering for sin which Israel can bring is that which it set forth in Isa. 53 as will be seen in Chapter XVIII.

² A superficial view of this statement might lead one to conclude that it is contradictory to the historical record which states that the temple service was resumed after the Babylonian captivity until the destruction of same in the year 70 A.D. by Titus. Such a conclusion is erroneous, for the Shekinah of Glory had departed from the temple and God did not look upon the continuance of the ceremonies as in former days; but had regard only for the individuals whose hearts were right toward Him.

Since the destruction of Jerusalem 70 A.D. there has not been carried on any national worship; in private, however, and in synagogues throughout the diaspora a limited service has been substituted for the original. Hence since they have no sacrifice, and since "the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh atonement by reason of the life," Israel, (let it be said with the deepest concern and sympathy) is without sacrifice and atonement, i.e., without access to God and eternal life. [For a full discussion of the necessity of atonement see Chapter XVIII.]

³ One may argue that since the word "teraphim" in Gen. 31:32 refers to a single idol which Rachel stole from her father, and since it is in the plural number and is used as a synonym for the expression "thy gods," the latter expression though plural in form is singular in meaning. Superficial reasoning would argue thus, but, when it is known that the word teraphim occurs only in the plural number
as the word "faces," the logic breaks down. Teraphim may be used for one image or for a thousand.

* "Rabbi David Kimchi was born in Narbonne in 1160 and died about 1235. So great was his fame that the Jews applied to him by a play on words a talmudic saying (Aboth III. 17) adapted to mean, 'No Kimchi, no understanding of the Scriptures!'"

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