Hosea 4

The Charge Against Israel

1 Hear the word of the LORD, you Israelites, because the LORD has a charge to bring against you who live in the land: “There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God in the land.
2 There is only cursing,[a] lying and murder, stealing and adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed.
3 Because of this the land dries up, and all who live in it waste away; the beasts of the field, the birds in the sky and the fish in the sea are swept away.
4 “But let no one bring a charge, let no one accuse another, for your people are like those who bring charges against a priest.
5 You stumble day and night, and the prophets stumble with you. So I will destroy your mother—
6 my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. “Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children.
7 The more priests there were, the more they sinned against me; they exchanged their glorious God[b] for something disgraceful.
8 They feed on the sins of my people and relish their wickedness.
9 And it will be: Like people, like priests. I will punish both of them for their ways and repay them for their deeds.
10 “They will eat but not have enough; they will engage in prostitution but not flourish, because they have deserted the LORDto give themselves
11 to prostitution; old wine and new wine take away their understanding.
12 My people consult a wooden idol, and a diviner’s rod speaks to them. A spirit of prostitution leads them astray; they are unfaithful to their God.
13 They sacrifice on the mountaintops and burn offerings on the hills, under oak, poplar and terebinth, where the shade is pleasant. Therefore your daughters turn to prostitution and your daughters-in-law to adultery.
14 “I will not punish your daughters when they turn to prostitution, nor your daughters-in-law when they commit adultery, because the men themselves consort with harlots and sacrifice with shrine prostitutes— a people without understanding will come to ruin!
15 “Though you, Israel, commit adultery, do not let Judah become guilty. “Do not go to Gilgal; do not go up to Beth Aven.[c]And do not swear, ‘As surely as the LORD lives!’
16 The Israelites are stubborn, like a stubborn heifer. How then can the LORD pasture them like lambs in a meadow?
17 Ephraim is joined to idols; leave him alone!
18 Even when their drinks are gone, they continue their prostitution; their rulers dearly love shameful ways.
19 A whirlwind will sweep them away, and their sacrifices will bring them shame.

Hosea 4 Commentary

Chapter 4

God's judgments against the sins of the people. (1-5) and of the priests. (6-11) Idolatry is reproved, and Judah is admonished. (12-19)

Verses 1-5 Hosea reproves for immorality, as well as idolatry. There was no truth, mercy, or knowledge of God in the land: it was ( 2 Kings. 21:16 ) which would desolate the country. Our sins, as separate persons, as a family, as a neighbourhood, as a nation, cause the Lord to have a controversy with us; let us submit and humble ourselves before Him, that he may not go on to destroy.

Verses 6-11 Both priests and people rejected knowledge; God will justly reject them. They forgot the law of God, neither desired nor endeavoured to retain it in mind, and to transmit the remembrance to their posterity; therefore God will justly forget them and their children. If we dishonour God with that which is our honour, it will, sooner or later, be turned into shame to us. Instead of warning the people against sin, from the consideration of the sacrifices, which showed what an offence sin was to God, since it needed an atonement, the priests encouraged the people to sin, since atonement might be made at so small an expense. It is very wicked to be pleased with the sins of others, because they may turn to our advantage. What is unlawfully gained, cannot be comfortably used. The people and the priests hardened one another in sin; therefore justly shall they share in the punishment. Sharers in sin must expect to share in ruin. Any lust harboured in the heart, in time will eat out all its strength and vigour. That is the reason why many professors grow so heavy, so dull, so dead in the way of religion. They have a liking for some secret lust, which takes away their hearts.

Verses 12-19 The people consulted images, and not the Divine word. This would lead to disorder and sin. Thus men prepare scourges for themselves, and vice is spread through a people. Let not Judah come near the idolatrous worship of Israel. For Israel was devoted to idols, and must now be let alone. When sinners cast off the easy yoke of Christ, they go on in sin till the Lord saith, Let them alone. Then they receive no more warnings, feel no more convictions: Satan takes full possession of them, and they ripen for destruction. It is a sad and sore judgment for any man to be let alone in sin. Those who are not disturbed in their sin, will be destroyed for their sin. May we be kept from this awful state; for the wrath of God, like a strong tempest, will soon hurry impenitent sinners into ruin.

Cross References 50

  • 1. S Job 10:2; S Jeremiah 2:9
  • 2. Joel 1:2,14
  • 3. S Proverbs 24:2
  • 4. S Proverbs 10:21; S Isaiah 1:3; Jeremiah 7:28; S Hosea 2:20
  • 5. S Jeremiah 51:5
  • 6. Isaiah 59:3; Hosea 7:3; Hosea 10:4; Hosea 11:12
  • 7. Hosea 5:2; Hosea 6:9
  • 8. Hosea 7:1
  • 9. S Jeremiah 9:2
  • 10. S 2 Kings 21:16; S Isaiah 1:15; S Ezekiel 22:2,9; Hosea 5:2; Hosea 10:13
  • 11. S Jeremiah 4:28
  • 12. S Isaiah 15:6; S Isaiah 33:9
  • 13. S Jeremiah 4:25; S Jeremiah 9:10; S Ezekiel 38:20; Zephaniah 1:3
  • 14. Deuteronomy 17:12; S Ezekiel 3:26
  • 15. S Ezekiel 7:19; S Ezekiel 14:7
  • 16. S Hosea 2:2
  • 17. S Proverbs 10:21; S Isaiah 1:3; S Hosea 2:13; Malachi 2:7-8
  • 18. Hosea 8:1,12
  • 19. Habakkuk 2:16
  • 20. Hosea 9:11; Hosea 10:1,6; Hosea 13:6
  • 21. S Isaiah 56:11; Hosea 14:1; Micah 3:11
  • 22. S Isaiah 24:2
  • 23. Jeremiah 5:31; Hosea 8:13; Hosea 9:9,15; Hosea 10:10; Hosea 12:2
  • 24. S Leviticus 26:26; S Isaiah 55:2; Micah 6:14
  • 25. S Ezekiel 22:9
  • 26. Hosea 7:14; Hosea 9:17
  • 27. ver 14; Hosea 5:4
  • 28. S Leviticus 10:9; S 1 Samuel 25:36
  • 29. S Proverbs 20:1
  • 30. Jeremiah 2:27
  • 31. Habakkuk 2:19
  • 32. S Numbers 15:39
  • 33. S Isaiah 44:20
  • 34. S Psalms 73:27
  • 35. S Isaiah 1:29
  • 36. S Jeremiah 3:6; Hosea 10:8; Hosea 11:2
  • 37. Jeremiah 2:20; Amos 7:17
  • 38. Hosea 2:13
  • 39. S ver 11
  • 40. S Genesis 38:21; Hosea 9:10
  • 41. S Proverbs 10:21
  • 42. ver 19
  • 43. Hosea 9:15; Hosea 12:11; Amos 4:4; Amos 5:5
  • 44. S Joshua 7:2; S Hosea 5:8
  • 45. S Jeremiah 4:2
  • 46. S Exodus 32:9
  • 47. S Jeremiah 31:18
  • 48. Isaiah 5:17; Isaiah 7:25
  • 49. Hosea 12:1; Hosea 13:15
  • 50. ver 13-14; Isaiah 1:29

Footnotes 3

  • [a]. That is, to pronounce a curse on
  • [b]. Syriac (see also an ancient Hebrew scribal tradition); Masoretic Text "me;" / "I will exchange their glory"
  • [c]. "Beth Aven" means "house of wickedness" (a derogatory name for Bethel, which means "house of God" ).

Chapter Summary


This chapter contains a new sermon or prophecy, delivered in proper and express words, without types and figures, as before; in which the people of Israel are summoned to appear at the tribunal of God, to hear the charge brought against them, and the sentence to be pronounced upon them, and which would be executed. They are charged with sins of omission and commission; with want of truth and mercy to men, and with ignorance of God; with swearing, lying, murder, theft, and adultery, Ho 4:1,2, the punishment threatened is the sword, famine, and pestilence; which should affect the whole land, and all creatures in it, men, beasts, fowls, and fishes, Ho 4:3, then the priests and false prophets are threatened with falling into calamities along with the people, and with rejection from their office, and forgetfulness of their posterity, and a taking away their glory from them, because of their striving with the true prophets; their rejection of knowledge; forgetfulness of the law of God; covetousness, adultery, and drunkenness, Ho 4:4-11, then the discourse is turned to the people again, who are charged with divination and idolatry, which is spiritual adultery; and therefore, by way of retaliation, their wives and daughters would be left to commit adultery and fornication, Ho 4:12-14, and the chapter is concluded with advice to Israel not to tempt Judah to sin; or to Judah not to do the like, after the example of Israel, who were backsliders, idolaters, left of God and alone; guilty of bribery, and the like shameful things, and would be suddenly filled with shame, Ho 4:15-19.

Hosea 4 Commentaries

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