1 "Set the trumpet to your mouth. He shall come as an eagle against the house of the LORD, because they have transgressed my covenant and trespassed against my law.
2 Israel shall cry to me, 'My God, we know you.'
3 Israel has cast off the thing that is good. The enemy shall pursue him.
4 They have set up kings, but not by me. They have made princes, and I did not know it. Of their silver and their gold they have made for themselves idols, so that they may be cut off.
5 Your calf, O Samaria, has cast you off. My anger is kindled against them. How long will it be before they attain to innocence?
6 For it was also from Israel. The workman made it; therefore, it is not God. But the calf of Samaria shall be broken in pieces.
7 For they have sown the wind and they shall reap the whirlwind. It has no stalk. The bud shall yield no meal. If it yields, the strangers shall swallow it up.
8 Israel is swallowed up. Now they shall be among the Gentiles as a vessel in which there is no pleasure.
9 For they have gone up to Assyria, a wild donkey alone by himself. Ephraim has hired lovers.
10 Even though they have hired among the nations, now I will gather them, and they shall sorrow a little for the burden of the king of princes.
11 Because Ephraim has made many altars to sin, altars shall be for him to sin.
12 I have written to him the great things of my law, but they were counted as a strange thing.
13 They sacrifice flesh for the sacrifices of my offerings and eat it, but the LORD does not accept them. Now he will remember their iniquity and visit their sins. They shall return to Egypt.
14 For Israel has forgotten his Maker and builds temples, and Judah has multiplied fortified cities. But I will send a fire upon his cities, and it shall devour the palaces thereof."
John Gill's Chapter Summary:
This chapter treats of the sins and punishment of Israel for them, as the preceding; it is threatened and proclaimed that an enemy should come swiftly against them, because of their transgression of the covenant and law of God (Hosea 8:1); their hypocrisy is exposed (Hosea 8:2); they are charged with the rejection of that which is good, and therefore should be pursued by the enemy (Hosea 8:3); with setting up kings and princes without consulting the Lord (Hosea 8:4); and with making of idols, particularly the golden calves, which would be of no use to them, disappoint them, and at last be broke to pieces (Hosea 8:4-6); their seeking to their neighbors for help, and entering into alliances with them, are represented as vain and fruitless, and issuing in their ruin and destruction (Hosea 8:7-10); their sins of multiplying altars, contrary to the law of God, and in contempt of it, and offering sacrifices to the Lord, are observed; and they with a visitation from him (Hosea 8:11-13); and the chapter is concluded with some notice and Judah, the one building temples, and multiplying fenced cities, which should be by fire (Hosea 8:14).
[v.1] - From John Gill's Exposition: "It is threatened and proclaimed that an enemy should come swiftly against [Israel], because of their transgression of the covenant and law of God."
[v.2] - "Thus hypocrites confidently profess the name of God, and with a lofty air affirm that they are God's people; but God laughs to scorn all this boasting, as it is vain, and worthy of derision." —John Calvin
[v.3] - "Israel has cast off the thing that is good" - This may also be read as, "Israel has cast away good far from himself." From John Calvin's Commentary: "The Prophet, I have no doubt, simply accuses the Israelites of having receded from all justice and uprightness; and even of having driven far off everything right and just."
[v.4] - From John Calvin's Commentary: "When God instituted the priesthood, there shone forth in it the image of Christ the Mediator, whose office it is, to intercede with God that he might reconcile him to men; and then in the person of David shone forth also the kingdom of Christ. Now when the people tumultuously chose a new king for themselves without any command from God, and when they built for themselves a new temple and altar contrary to what the law prescribed, and when they divided the priesthood, was not all this a manifest corruption, a denial of religion? It is here evident that the Israelites were in both these respects apostates; for they forsook God in two ways: first, by separating from the house of David, and then by forming for themselves a strange worship, which God had not commanded in his law."
[v.5] - From John Calvin's Commentary: "[Hosea], to confirm his previous doctrine, seems to remind the Israelites again, that the cause of their destruction was not anywhere to be sought but in their wickedness, and especially because they, having forsaken the true God, had made an idol for themselves, and formed the calf to be in the place of God."
[v.6] - From John Calvin's Commentary: "This superstition [of worshiping the calf] was not derived from others, but that Israel, under the influence of no evil persuader, had devised for themselves, of their own accord, this corruption, through which they had departed from the true and pure worship of God. It is indeed true, that oxen and calves were worshiped in Egypt, and the same also might be said of other nations; but rivalship did not influence the people of Israel. What then? It cannot certainly be denied, but that they had stimulated themselves to this impious denial of God."
[v.7] - "For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind" - From John Calvin's Commentary: "Though they differ nothing from the true worshipers of God in outward appearance, they yet sow nothing but wind; for when the Israelites offered their sacrifices in the temple, they no doubt conformed to the rule of the law, but at the same time came short of obedience to God. There was no faith in their services: it was then wind; that is, they had nothing but a windy and an empty show, though the outward aspect of their service differed nothing from the true and legitimate worship of God. They then sow the wind and reap the whirlwind." It then follows that whatever they sow, namely, their counsels, judgments, intents, purposes, etc., will yield no fruit, and even if they do reap anything, "the strangers shall swallow it up."
[v.8] - From Matthew Henry's Commentary: "Israel is swallowed up, devoured by strangers, their land eaten up, and themselves too, and, being impoverished, they have quite lost their credit and reputation, like a merchant that has become a bankrupt, so that they are among the Gentiles as a vessel wherein is no pleasure, a vessel of dishonor (2nd Timothy 2:20), a despised broken vessel (Jeremiah 22:28). None of their neighbors have any value for them, nor care to have anything to do with them. Note, Those who have professed religion, if they degenerate and grow profane, are of all men the most contemptible. If the salt has lost its savor, it is fit for nothing but to be trodden under foot of men. Or [this verse] denotes their dispersion and captivity among the Gentiles; they shall be among them poor and prisoners; and who has pleasure in such?"
[v.9-10] - From John Calvin's Commentary: "Here again the Prophet derides all the labor the people had undertaken to exempt themselves from punishment. For though hypocrites dare not openly and avowedly to fight against God, yet they seek vain subterfuges, by which they may elude him. So the Israelites ceased not to weary themselves to escape the judgment of God; and this folly, or rather madness, the Prophet exposes to scorn."
[v.11a] - "made many altars to sin" - This may also be read as, "made many altars for the purpose of sinning."
[v.11b] - From John Calvin's Commentary: "It is then no superfluous repetition, when the Prophet says, that altars were multiplied in order to sin; and then, that altars would be for sin: for in the second clause, he speaks of the punishment which God would inflict on superstitious men. In the first clause, he shows that their good intentions were frivolous, and that they were greatly deceived, when at their pleasure they devised for themselves various forms of worship. This is one thing. Then it follows, 'There shall then be to them altars to sin;' as they would not willingly repent, nor embrace salutary admonitions, God would at last really show how much he valued what they called their good intentions; for now a dreadful vengeance was at hand, which would prove to them, that in increasing altars, they did nothing else but increase sins."
[v.12] - From John Calvin's Commentary: "The Prophet shows here briefly, how we ought to judge of divine worship, and thus intends to cut off the handle from all devices by which men usually deceive themselves, and form disguises, when at any time they are reproved. For he sets the law of God and the rule it prescribes, in opposition to all the inventions of men. Men think God unjust, except he receives as good and legitimate whatever they imagine to be so; but God, as it is said in another place, prefers obedience to all sacrifices. Hence the Prophet now declares, that all the superstitions, which then prevailed among the people of Israel, were condemned before God; for they obeyed not the law, but had spurious and perverted modes of worship, which they had invented for themselves."
[v.13a] - "They sacrifice" - From John Gill's Exposition: "These sacrifices, which, according to the law, should [have been] given to God when they offered them, they did not give them to him, they took them for themselves, and ate them; they were carnal offerings, and offered with a carnal mind, without faith and piety, without any regard to the glory of God, but merely for the sake of [self upkeep]."
[v.13b] - "They shall return to Egypt" - From John Gill's Exposition: "Either [they shall] flee [to Egypt] for refuge, many of them it seems did, when the king of Assyria entered their land, and besieged Samaria; where they lived miserably, as in exile, and were there buried, and never returned to their own land any more (see Hosea 9:3, 6; Deuteronomy 28:68); or they should be carried captive into Assyria, where they should be in a similar state of bondage as their fathers were in Egypt."
[v.14] - From John Calvin's Commentary: "When men turn away their minds from God, and rely on perishable things, a fatal destruction will at last follow; for the Lord will frustrate the hope of those who thus deprive him of his honor."