Hosea 12

God's Case against Jacob's Heirs

1 Ephraim chases[a] the wind and pursues the east wind. He continually multiplies lies and violence. He makes a covenant with Assyria, and olive oil is carried to Egypt.
2 The Lord also has a dispute with Judah. He is about to punish Jacob according to his ways; He will repay him based on his actions.
3 In the womb he grasped his brother's heel,[b] and as an adult he wrestled with God.[c]
4 Jacob struggled with the Angel and prevailed; he wept and sought His favor. He found him[d] at Bethel, and there He spoke with him.[e][f]
5 Yahweh is the God of Hosts; Yahweh is His name.
6 But you must return to your God. Maintain love and justice, and always put your hope in God.
7 A merchant loves to extort with dishonest scales in his hands.
8 But Ephraim says: "How rich I have become; I made it all myself. In all my earnings, no one can find any crime in me that I can be punished for!"[g]

Judgment on Apostate Israel

9 I have been the Lord your God ever since[h] the land of Egypt. I will make you live in tents again, as in the festival days.
10 I spoke through the prophets and granted many visions; I gave parables through the prophets.
11 Since Gilead is full of evil, they will certainly come to nothing. They sacrifice bulls in Gilgal; even their altars will be like heaps of rocks on the furrows of a field.

Further Indictment of Jacob's Heirs

12 Jacob fled to the land of Aram. Israel worked to earn a wife; he tended flocks for a wife.[i]
13 The Lord brought Israel from Egypt by a prophet, and Israel was tended by a prophet.
14 Ephraim has provoked bitter anger, so his Lord will leave his bloodguilt on him and repay him for his contempt.

Hosea 12 Commentary

Chapter 12

Judah and Israel reminded of the Divine favours. (1-6) The provocations of Israel. (7-14)

Verses 1-6 Ephraim feeds himself with vain hopes of help from man, when he is at enmity with God. The Jews vainly thought to secure the Egyptians by a present of the produce of their country. Judah is contended with also. God sees the sin of his own people, and will reckon with them for it. They are put in mind of what Jacob did, and what God did for him. When his faith upon the Divine promise prevailed above his fears, then by his strength he had power with God. He is Jehovah, the same that was, and is, and is to come. What was a revelation of God to one, is his memorial to many, to all generations. Then let those who have gone from God, be turned to him. Turn thou to the Lord, by repentance and faith, as thy God. Let those that are converted to him, walk with him in all holy conversation and godliness. Let us wrestle with Him for promised blessings, determined not to give over till we prevail; and let us seek Him in his ordinances.

Verses 7-14 Ephraim became a merchant: the word also signifies a Canaanite. They carried on trade upon Canaanitish principles, covetously and with fraud and deceit. Thus they became rich, and falsely supposed that Providence favoured them. But shameful sins shall have shameful punishments. Let them remember, not only what a mighty prince Jacob was with God, but what a servant he was to Laban. The benefits we have had from the word of God, make our sin and folly the worse, if we put any slight upon that word. We had better follow the hardest labour in poverty, than grow rich by sin. We may form a judgment of our own conduct, by comparing it with that of ancient believers in the like circumstances. Whoever despises the message of God, will perish. May we all hear his word with humble, obedient faith.

Footnotes 9

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO HOSEA 12

This chapter contains complaints and charges both against Israel and Judah, and threatens them with punishment in case they repent not, which they are exhorted to: and first Ephraim is charged with idolatry, vain confidence in, and alliances with, foreign nations, Ho 12:1; and then the Lord declares he has a controversy with Judah, and will punish the inhabitants of it for their sins, Ho 12:2; which are aggravated by their being the descendants of so great a man as Jacob, who got the advantage of his elder brother, had much power with God, and received favours from him, and they also, Ho 12:3-5; and therefore are exhorted to turn to God, wait on him, and do that which is right and good, Ho 12:6. Ephraim is again in his turn charged with fraudulent dealing in trade, and with oppression, and the love of it; and yet pretended he got riches by his own labour, without wronging any, Ho 12:7,8; nevertheless, the Lord promises them public ordinances of worship, and joy in them, and the ministry of his prophets, Ho 12:9,10; though for the present they were guilty of gross idolatry, Ho 12:11; which is aggravated by the raising of Jacob their progenitor from a low estate, and the wonderful preservation of him, and the bringing of them out of Egypt, Ho 12:12,13; and the chapter is closed with observing Ephraim's bitter provocation of God, for which his reproach should return unto him, and his blood be left upon him, Ho 12:14.

Hosea 12 Commentaries