A reproof of Ephraim, Judah, and Jacob, 1, 2. By former favors he exhorts to repentance, 3-6. Ephraim's sins provoke God, 7-14.
1 Ephraim feeds on wind and follows after the east wind. He daily multiplies lies and desolation. They make a covenant with the Assyrians, and oil is carried into Egypt.
2 The LORD also has a controversy with Judah and will punish Jacob according to his ways. According to his doings he will recompense him.
3 He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength he had power with God.
4 He even had power over the angel and prevailed. He wept and made supplication to him. He found [God] in Beth-el, and there [God] spoke with us,
5 Even the LORD God of hosts, the LORD is his memorial.
6 Therefore, turn to your God. Keep mercy and judgment and wait on your God continually.
7 He is a merchant. The balances of deceit are in his hand. He loves to oppress.
8 And Ephraim said, "Yet I have become rich. I have found substance for myself. In all my labors they shall find no iniquity in me that is sin."
9 "And I am the LORD your God from the land of Egypt. I will yet make you to dwell in tabernacles, as in the days of the solemn feast.
10 I have also spoken by the prophets and I have multiplied visions. I used similitudes by the ministry of the prophets.
11 Is there iniquity in Gilead? Surely they are vanity. They sacrifice bulls in Gilgal. Even their altars are as heaps in the furrows of the fields.
12 And Jacob fled into the country of Syria. And Israel served to get a wife, and for a wife he kept sheep.
13 And by a prophet the LORD brought Israel out of Egypt, and by a prophet he was preserved.
14 Ephraim provoked him to anger most bitterly; therefore, he will leave his blood upon him, and his Lord will return his reproach to him."
Matthew Henry Commentary - Hosea, Chapter 12[➚]
John Gill's Chapter Summary:
This chapter contains complaints and charges both against Israel and Judah, and threatens them with punishment in case they do not repent, which they are exhorted to: and first Ephraim is charged with idolatry and vain confidence in, and alliances with, foreign nations (verse 1); and then the Lord declares he has a controversy with Judah, and will punish the inhabitants of it for their sins (verse 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 favors from him, and they also (verses 3-5); and therefore are exhorted to turn to God, wait on him, and do that which is right and good (verse 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 labor, without wronging any (verses 7-8); nevertheless, the Lord promises them public ordinances of worship, and joy in them, and the ministry of his prophets (verses 9-10); though for the present they were guilty of gross idolatry (verse 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 (verses 12-13); and the chapter is closed with observing Ephraim's bitter provocation of God, for which his reproach should return to him, and his blood be left upon him (verse 14).
[v.1] - "and oil is carried into Egypt" - This may also be read as, "and they carried their oil into Egypt." That is, the oil was sent to Egypt as a gift in exchange for support.
[v.2] - "According to his doings he will recompense him" - Reference, Psalm 62:12; Proverbs 24:12; Isaiah 3:11, 59:18; Matthew 16:27; Romans 2:6; Galatians 6:7.
[v.3] - "He took his brother by the heel in the womb" - Reference, Genesis 25:24-26.
[v.4a] - "He even had power over the angel, and prevailed" - Reference, Genesis 32:24-28.
[v.4b] - "He found [God] in Beth-el" - Reference, Genesis 28:10-22.
[v.4c] - "spoke with us" - Though God actually spoke to Jacob, or rather Israel, the message was not only delivered to Israel (the man) alone, but also to the descendants of Israel, that is, all Israelites—which then implies to the universal Church of God.
[v.4d] - Text in square brackets added for implied meaning. This was added to clarify any possible confusion with the obscure pronouns originally used. Originally, the same pronoun (e.g., he, him) was used to refer to two different persons.
[v.6] - This verse is a call to repentance. Furthermore, it is a call to sound living by the observance of God's holy law. The overall message in this verse is this: "Repent of your sins and turn to God, waiting on, hoping in, trusting in Him as your Lord and Savior, and live a life according to His holy law." This verse gives an intimation of the Ten Commandments. There is an exhortation to keep mercy and judgment, that is, observe the second tablet, the fifth through the tenth commandment. In other words, "love your neighbor as yourself" (Leviticus 19:18). Then there is a charge to wait on God, that is, observe the first tablet, the first four commandments. In other words, "love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might" (Deuteronomy 6:5). Christ used a very similar message to answer the lawyer as to which was the greatest commandment in the law. "Jesus said to him, '"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind." This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments'" (Matthew 22:37-40; see also Mark 12:29-31 and Luke 10:26-28). John Calvin offers some very good comments to further explain the message behind this verse. He said, "We [in this verse] see that repentance is nothing else but a reformation of the whole life according to the law of God. For God has explained his will in his law; and as much as we depart or deviate from it, so much we depart from the Lord. But when we turn to God, the true proof is, when we amend our life according to his law, and begin with worshiping him spiritually, the main part of which worship is faith, from which proceeds prayer; and when, in addition to this, we act kindly and justly towards our neighbors, and abstain from all injuries, frauds, robberies, and all kinds of wickedness. This is the true evidence of repentance."
[v.7] - "The balances of deceit are in his hand" - Reference, Leviticus 19:36; Deuteronomy 25:15; Proverbs 11:1.
[v.12a] - "And Jacob fled into the country of Syria" - Reference, Genesis 27:42-43.
[v.12b] - "And Israel served to get a wife, and for a wife he kept sheep" - Reference, Genesis 29:18-28.
[v.13] - Reference, Exodus 12:50-51, 13:3-4.