Hosea 2 Study Notes


2:1-23 These verses elaborate on the “Not My People” oracle in 1:9-11. They open with the divorce formula in v. 2 that begins the rebuke in vv. 1-13: “She is not my wife and I am not her husband.” The forgiveness section in vv. 14-23 announces the restoration of Israel. The Lord again becomes my husband (v. 16), and Israel becomes my wife (v. 19); “No Compassion” also receives compassion, and “Not My People” becomes my people (v. 23).

2:2 Here is the first command to repent in the book (4:15; 6:1; 10:12; 12:6; 14:1-2,9), followed by alternating verses of judgment (2:3-4,6-7,9-11) and indictment (vv. 5,8,12-13). The children, representing the common people of Israel, are urged to rebuke their mother, representing Israel’s leadership. So Israel’s divorce is not the end of hope and her punishment is not the last word (vv. 3,19-20).

2:3 Israel is portrayed in utter humiliation and deprivation. Captured exiles are often depicted in antiquity as being led away naked (cp. Is 20:1-6).

2:4 The people would suffer individually because of the nation’s idolatry; therefore, they must do what they could to “rebuke” their nation (v. 2).

2:5 The nation’s lovers were other gods (idols), which she thought (lit “said”; cp. vv. 7,12) could meet her needs.

2:6-7 The purpose of God’s punishment of Israel for abandoning him (1:2) was to restore them.

2:8 The leaders had led the people to trust and seek Baal (6 times in Hs; 74 times in the OT) rather than the Lord, the true God. The Lord had not only created Israel and delivered them from Egyptian bondage but had also blessed them with the necessities of grain . . . new wine, and oil and even the luxuries of silver and gold. The verb translated recognize (lit “know”) is used sixteen times in Hosea, more than any of the Minor Prophets (v. 20; 5:4; 6:3; 8:2; 9:7; 11:3; 14:9). The Hebrew verb ba’al can mean “marry, rule over, possess” and is related to the noun “husband, lord, owner” and the name of the Canaanite god “Baal” as well as places such as Baal-peor where he was worshiped. These various terms occur 229 times in the OT. The name occurs seven times in Hosea, all but one for the Canaanite god.


Hebrew pronunciation [rah KHAM]
CSB translation love, have compassion, pity
Uses in Hosea 7
Uses in the OT 47
Focus passage Hosea 2:1,4,23

Racham derives from rechem (26x, womb), and related languages associate “womb” and “compassion.” Racham means love (Ps 18:1). Intensive verbs signify have/show compassion (Ex 33:19; Dt 13:17), pity (Hs 2:23), have pity on (Hs 1:6), or show mercy (Is 60:10). Their participle denotes compassionate (Ps 116:5), and their infinitive indicates mercy (Hab 3:2). Their passive conveys receive compassion (Hs 2:23) or find mercy (Pr 28:13). Rachamiym (40x) indicates mercy (Dt 13:17) or compassion (Is 54:7). It is merciful acts (Pr 12:10), mercies (Lm 3:22), and merciful (Gn 43:14). It suggests emotion (Gn 43:30), pity (Ps 106:46), and, in a prepositional phrase, graciously (Zch 1:16). The same words imply abundant compassion (Neh 9:31) or great . . . mercies (1Ch 21:13). Rachum (13x) means compassionate (Dt 4:31) or merciful (2Ch 30:9). Eleven times rachum occurs alongside “gracious” (chunun, Ex 34:6). Rachamaniy is compassionate woman (Lm 4:10).

2:9 The word for I will take back is essentially the same Hebrew word as “I will go back” in v. 7. If Israel did not return to her husband, the Lord, he would take back his blessings.

2:10 On expose her shame, compare v. 3; Is 47:1-3; Jr 13:22; Ezk 16:36-37; 23:29; Nah 3:5. The noun translated “shame” refers literally to a woman’s private parts. Israel’s punishment would include the disgrace of having her sins exposed for everyone to see.

2:11 In spite of Israel’s idolatry, they had continued the hypocrisy of “worship” in the Lord’s name. Outward religious activity can outlive the death of true faith.

2:12 This verse echoes v. 5 in exposing the lie Israel believed—that their blessings from the Lord (v. 8) were just payment earned from their service to idols.

2:13 The words of rebuke (vv. 1-13) conclude with the common prophetic refrain This is the Lord’s declaration. God’s promised eventual redemption and restoration in vv. 14-23 follow.

2:14-15 The word therefore commonly begins an announcement of judgment following an indictment for sin in the writings of the prophets. It is so used in vv. 6,9. But here, following the indictment in vv. 12-13, begins an announcement of salvation. Israel’s sin will not only result in judgment, but because of God’s covenant promises it will also result in salvation. The Hebrew word midbar can mean “desert” (v. 3) or wilderness. The place of judgment, “the desert,” will also be the place of salvation. Speak tenderly is literally “speak to her heart.” It occurs elsewhere of Joseph’s comforting assurance of favor and forgiveness to his brothers, who had done evil to him (Gn 50:21; cp. Gn 34:3; Jdg 19:3; Is 40:2). Although Israel had forgotten the Lord, he would carry her back to the wilderness where he would renew and restore her faith as it had been in her youth (cp. Hs 13:5). Achor means “trouble” and alludes to the trouble that Achan caused Israel (Jos 7:24-26; see Is 65:10).

2:16-20 These verses are parallel to v. 2. Although the Lord declared that Hosea’s generation was no longer his wife and he was no longer her husband, a time would come when he would renew the covenant. A converted Israel would again declare Yahweh to be her husband, and he would assure her of his permanent commitment to her as his wife.

2:16-17 The phrase the Lord’s declaration is repeated in vv. 16,21 to echo its use in v. 13 and highlight Israel’s radical change from Baal’s mistress to Yahweh’s restored wife. The Hebrew noun ba’al could mean “husband” as well as the name of the Canaanite deity (see note at v. 8; Dt 24:4). Israel’s popular religion often merged concepts and practices of Baal worship with worship of the Lord, an idolatrous practice that angered God because it defiled his name (Lv 18:21; 20:3; Ezk 20:39). In the future day of Israel’s final conversion, God would remove Israel’s promiscuity (v. 2) when he removed any reference to the Baals (the plural indicates that Baal worship occurred at various locations) from her vocabulary (Zch 13:2).

2:18 Wild animals . . . birds, and creatures alludes to Gn 1:20-25; 8:17-19 as well as Hs 2:12. The covenant refers figuratively to the peace God will bring between man and beast (Jb 5:23; Is 11:6-9; Ezk 34:25).

2:21-23 These verses are parallel to 1:3-2:1 in that they refer back to Hosea’s three children. God will respond to Israel’s cries for help and the earth’s need for rain. Jezreel generally meant bloodshed, but here it means “God plants” (cp. 1:10) and refers to Israel.