1 "Hear this, O priests, and listen, house of Israel, and give ear, O house of the king, for judgment is toward you because you have been a snare on Mizpah and a net spread upon Tabor.
2 And the revolters are profound to make slaughter, though I have been a rebuker of them all.
3 I know Ephraim, and Israel is not hid from me. For now, O Ephraim, you are guilty of lewdness, and Israel is defiled.
4 They will not frame their doings to turn to their God, for the spirit of lewdness is in the midst of them and they have not known the LORD.
5 And the pride of Israel testifies to his face; therefore, Israel and Ephraim shall fall in their iniquity. Judah shall also fall with them.
6 They shall go with their flocks and with their herds to seek the LORD, but they shall not find him. He has withdrawn himself from them.
7 They have dealt treacherously against the LORD, for they have begotten strange children. Now a month shall devour them with their portions.
8 Blow the horn in Gibeah and the trumpet in Ramah. Cry aloud at Beth-aven, after you, O Benjamin.
9 Ephraim shall be desolate in the day of rebuke. Among the tribes of Israel I have made known that which shall surely be.
10 The princes of Judah were like those who remove the bound; therefore, I will pour out my wrath upon them like water.
11 Ephraim is oppressed and broken in judgment because he willingly walked after the commandment.
12 Therefore, I will be to Ephraim as a moth and to the house of Judah as rottenness.
13 When Ephraim saw his sickness and Judah saw his wound, Ephraim went to the Assyrian and sent to king Jareb. Yet he could not heal you, nor cure you of your wound.
14 For I will be to Ephraim as a lion, and as a young lion to the house of Judah. I, even I, will tear and go away. I will take away, and no one shall rescue him.
15 I will go and return to my place until they acknowledge their offense and seek my face. In their affliction they will seek me early."
John Gill's Chapter Summary:
The design of this chapter is to expose the sins of Israel and of Judah, and to declare the judgment of God upon them for them. Men of all ranks in Israel are summoned to attend to the charge brought against then, and the sentence on them (Hosea 5:1). The charge exhibited is, that they were guilty of sin, hating men to the slaughter of idolatrous sacrifices, though they had been sufficiently rebuked and corrected (Hosea 5:1-2); of both corporeal and spiritual adultery, whereby they were defiled, and which was well known to the Lord (Hosea 5:3); of obstinate persistence in impenitence, owing to the efficacy of an unclean spirit in them, and their lack of the knowledge of God (Hosea 5:4); of open pride, which stared them in the face, and for which they fell into calamities, and Judah with them, and should not be able with all their sacrifices to find favor with God, who had withdrawn himself from them (Hosea 5:5-6); also of treacherous dealing with the Lord by their spiritual adultery, and begetting strange children (Hosea 5:7); next their punishment is denounced, of which notice was to be given them by the sound of the trumpet, as an alarm of war, or as calling for mourning (Hosea 5:8); since Ephraim would become desolate, of which notification had been made among the tribes (Hosea 5:9); and wrath would be poured out in great abundance on the princes of Judah, who were very wicked men (Hosea 5:10); and Ephraim would be oppressed and broken by the judgment of God, who would be as a moth to them, and also rottenness to Judah, because they followed the commandments of men (Hosea 5:11-12); and, what was still more provoking, when they were sensible of their calamities and distresses, they did not seek help from the Lord, but from men who could do them no good; and therefore he threatens to be as a devouring lion to them (Hosea 5:13-14); and yet the chapter concludes with a promise of the conversion of these people, after the Lord had dealt with them in an angry manner (Hosea 5:15).
[v.1] - From John Calvin's Commentary: "The Lord here upholds his word against all degrees of men, and shows that both kings and priests must be brought down from their eminence, so that they may obey the word. Indeed, we must bear in mind... that though the whole people had sinned, yet kings and priests are here in a special manner reproved, because they deserved a heavier punishment, inasmuch as by their depraved examples they had corrupted the whole people."
[v.2a] - The general idea behind this verse is that, "the Israelites were so obstinate in their superstitions, that they perversely despised all counsels, all admonitions, and even that they petulantly resisted every instruction" (John Calvin). When the verse says they "make slaughter," the idea is that they multiplied their sacrifices in a manner that was not according to God's command, but rather according to their own devices and in a great show of false devotion. Therefore, their sacrifices were contemptibly called killings, or slaughter.
[v.2b] - "I have been a rebuker" - This is most likely God declaring that he is the rebuker through the words of his prophets (thus the quotation is not broken up in the chapter), though some offer a second view that it is Hosea speaking in place of God as his prophet. Either way, the Iraelites rejected the rebuking, thinking that it was too bitter or too harsh for them. "Reproofs are not easily endured by men." —John Calvin
[v.3] - "Let us then learn not to [disguise or contradict], by our own notions, the judgment of God; and when he reproves us by his word, let us not delude ourselves by our own fancies; for those who harden themselves in such a state of security gain nothing. God sees more keenly than men. Let use then, beware of spreading a veil over our sins, for God's eyes penetrate through all such excuses." —John Calvin
[v.4] - "They will not frame their doings to turn to their God" - This may also be read as, "They will not apply their endeavors to turn to their God." In other words, they had no inclination, they had no thought, care, or concern, to repent of their superstitions and sins and turn to their God.
[v.5] - From John Calvin's Commentary: "God needed no other witness to convict Israel than their own pride; and we know that when any one becomes hardened, he thinks that there is to be no judgment, and has no thought of rendering an account to God, for his pride takes away every fear." And then concerning the mention of Judah, to whom God had promised safety, "the Prophet speaks here not of those Jews who continued in true and pure religion, but of those who had with the Israelites alienated themselves from the only true God, and joined in their superstitions. He then refers here to the degenerate and not to the faithful Jews; for to all who worshiped God aright, salvation had been already promised."
[v.6] - The Israelites here believed that as long as they had their sacrifices, they were secure from God's judgment. "The true and lawful consecration is by the word; and by the word we are guided to faith in Christ, we are guided to repentance: when these are neglected and disregarded, and men securely trust in their sacrifices, they do nothing but mock God." —John Calvin
[v.7a] - "They have dealt treacherously against the LORD" - This may also be read as, "They have been unfaithful to the LORD."
[v.7b] - "for they have begotten strange children" - That is, they led their children to also be unfaithful to God.
[v.8] - This blowing of the horn is an alarm of war. Hosea is acting as a herald to cause alarm with the Israelites, showing that God's threats are not in vain. "The truth itself ought indeed to storm not only our ears, but also our hearts, and be more powerful than any trumpet: but we yet see how unconcerned we are." —John Calvin
[v.9] - "Among the tribes of Israel I have made known that which shall surely be" - This may also be read as, "Among the tribes of Israel I have made known the truth."
[v.10] - "like water" - From John Gill's Exposition: "Like a flood of water, which overflows the banks, or breaks them down, and carries all before it; or like the flood of water that came upon the earth, and carried off the world of the ungodly."
[v.11] - From John Calvin's Commentary: "The people might indeed have appeared to be excusable, since religion had not been changed by their voice, or by public consent, or by any contrivance of the many, but by the tyrannical will of the king alone... The people then might have appeared to be without blame; for the king alone devised this artifices to secure himself from danger. But the Prophet shows that all were implicated in the same guilt before God, because the people adopted with alacrity the impious forms of worship which the king had commanded."
[v.12] - The idea behind this verse is that the people would be slowly consumed like a moth to a cloth and pine away until they become wholly rotten. To contrast with the deluge mentioned in verse 10, we can see that God can either pour out His wrath or choose to slowly chastise us. Either way, the design is to bring us to repentance. "We are reminded that we ought not to sleep, whenever the Lord awakens us; nor should we wait until he appears as a lion or a bear, until he devours us, until he rages against us in dreadful fury." —John Calvin
[v.13] - From John Calvin's Commentary: "Here the Lord complains that he had in vain chastised the Israelites by the usual means, for they thought that they had remedies ready for themselves, and turned their minds to vain hopes. This is usually done by most men; for when the Lord deals mildly with us, we perceive not his hand, but think that what evils happen to us come by chance. Then, as if we had nothing to do with God, we seek remedies, and turn our minds and thoughts to other quarters." It is in vain to seek remedy for the pains of our sins from anywhere other than God, and that by repentance, that is, turning from our sins and wholly trusting in Christ our Redeemer, Lord, and Savior.
[v.14] - When the slow chastisements do not break our obstinancy, God then will be to us as a lion. Instead of a slow consumption as with a moth, He then turns to quick, utter consumption. Reference, Deuteronomy 4:24; Job 10:16; Lamentations 3:10; Hebrews 12:29.
[v.15] - On the surface this verse is alluding to the exile of the people into Chaldea. "I will go and return to my place, until..." In other words, God will withdraw Himself from the Israelites and the Jews, that is, when they go into exile, to give them time to repent. But the overall message in this verse is to show that we are to repent of our sins and turn to God. We must acknowledge our offense, our sin, and we must seek God. "If we confess our sins, [God] is faithful and just to forgive our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1st John 1:9). "Men never of their own accord turn themselves to God, but by his hidden influence." —John Calvin