Devotional Commentary on Hosea 4


Hosea speaks God's Word. The remnant of [spiritual] Israel should listen that the Lord has a case with the inhabitants of the earth. "Hear a word of the Lord, sons of Israel, for a case is there unto the Lord  with the inhabitants of the earth. For there is no truth, and no kindness, and no knowledge of God on the earth" (verse 1). In the Targum the paraphrase explains this judgment of God with the inhabitants of the earth: "Receive the word of the Lord, children of Israel, for the judgment is before the Lord with the inhabitants of the earth: for there are not those who do the truth, and there are not those who speak the kindness, and there are not those that walk in the fear of the Lord on the earth".

The translation that comes the closest to the original Hebrew is the YLT. The NASB is also very close in this verse. Here in the original the "sons" bny are used but the KJV made it "children". So did also the Darby. The RSV made it the "people" of Israel. This is a very interpretative deviation from the original since the word for "people" are used in the original in verses 4, 5 and 6 as `am.

Israel must listen to the word of the Lord but the case is with the inhabitants of the earth. Some translations want to translate it as the "land" as if it is only Palestine that is under consideration here but verse 3 will show that it is a global dimension that is in mind here and not a convined space. The sea is already a boundary that is undefined, that means there is not an end although there is a beginning. John Calvin also translated it as the "inhabitants of the land". The way he understood it is that this dispute was with the people of Israel.

This is a case that the Lord has against the inhabitants of the earth meaning that there is a time when He will investigate in a judgment. The investigative judgment means that the Lord is looking at people and taking index of the stock to see if there is any good on the earth. The next question is when this investigative judgment will be or was? Is this an ongoing daily activity that God is always investigating every moment of every day? In this verse alone the time element cannot be answered fully. God looked at the earth during this investigative judgment and He could not find truth and no kindness and also no knowledge of God. We are interpreting that judgment as an investigative judgment while John Calvin understood it to be an executive judgment. John Calvin was a preteristic interpreter who attempted to explain the text at times as only applicable to the near days of Hosea's future and at the same time a presentist who attempted to operate with an textual equavalence that tries to hook the text with situations in his own day. The time of Hosea was before Confucius, Buddha, Mohammed and if this verse is applicable in that time it means that there is no truth upon the earth. There was a long history of Assyrian, Babylonian, Aramaean, Ionic, new-Hittite, and Egyptian systems of religious thinking but if this verse is applicable during Hosea's day, then none of these religions could satisfy the Lord with their concepts of "truth". It is impossible according to this verse to argue that God is open to any kind of religious system as long as they just vaguely acknowledge the existence of a God or gods for that matter. This kind of pluralism that is suggested sometimes runs against the reading of this verse. All roads lead to Rome but not all roads lead to God. In the parable of Jesus there is a narrow and wide road. All these systems since the earliest man are dealing with the same content: a dualism between good and bad that exists; degeneration of the earth, its inhabitants and bio-sphere; methods to overcome the evil and attaining the good; death and how to overcome that; structures of salvation and atonement; focusing on ontological, existential and teleological issues of human existence. However, none of these structures could satisfy God as containing truth. We are not told whether God is expecting all these qualities in a person or only one of them at least? That is to say, can a person who does not have the truth but who is kind satisfy God? Can a person with no knowledge of God but very kind satisfy the demands of God? This verse does not indicate whether all these characteristics should be in a person to qualify. In Romans 2:14-16 the future judgment of those who do not have the truth is described. If they do the things of the law they are unto themselves a law even though they do not have the law.

Calvin made a valuable contribution in this section by indicating that "we must bear in mind that the Prophets did not literally write what they delivered to the people, nor did they treat only once of those things which are now extant with us; but we in their books collected summaries and heads of those matters which they were wont to address to the people. Hosea, no doubt, very often descanted on the exile and the restoration of the people, forasmuch as he dwelt much on all the things which we have hitherto noticed. Indeed, the slowness and dullness of the people were such, that the same things were repeated daily. But, it was enough of the Prophets to make and to write down a brief summary of what they taught in their discourses" ( It was A. Weiser who said that the individual sayings in this chapter was collected together by association and he added that this is proof that Hosea did not write it (A. Weiser, page 236). It would have saved Thomas Paine some time if he had first read the commentaries of Calvin carefully on the methodology of writing by the prophets. He would have had answers to his presumed eloquent questions in the Age of Reason Part I and Part II of 1795.

God complained about the spirituality of the inhabitants of the earth that they are "Cursing, and lying and murder, and stealing and adultery. They break and blood touched upon blood" (verse 2).

There never was in the history of mankind a period that could be considered more evil than another. All these evils were there since the earliest man. What we do have here is a God who's patience ran out. If He take stock or index during an investigative judgment but do not find some who are righteous He reacts with punishment. In Genesis 6 there was an investigative judgment and the Lord only found Noah righteous. In the year 2523 BCE the flood destroyed all the dinosaurs and also mankind except the ones who were saved by the ark. We have to look at the kind of punishment that is described in the next verse to get a clue as to the dating of this investigative judgment.

Describing the status of those alive at the Second Coming of Christ taking the spiritual remnant alive and resurrected to heaven away from this earth, those on this earth shall waste away: "Therefore the earth will mourn and all who live in it shall waste away, with the beast of the field and with the birds of the heavens and also the fishes of the sea shall be taken away" (verse 3).

Starting off with the tense whether present tense, past tense or future tense, the RSV, NASB and the YLT translated it as the present tense but the Darby and KJV translated it as the future tense. The original is using the future tenses in this verse and the RSV and NASB cannot be followed here for that aspect. It becomes a crucial ingredient in the interpretation of the verse so that readers need to know this. The RSV and NASB translated it as the "fish" and not "fishes" but that could be because the translators thought that the word "fish" does not have a plural in English although the original reads a plural. The best rendering is probably the KJV and the Darby. The RSV, NASB and YLT ignores the very important tense aspect of the future that is part of prophetic speech and which is definitly in the original. See for instance the majority of Greek manuscripts since 400 CE and deep into the Middle Ages until the Reformation that also reads the future tense. The readings of the present tense for the future in the original by the translators of the RSV and NASB are done so on the basis of the fact that they are preterists who do not believe that the prophet can foretell but only that he can forthtell. The prophet cannot look forward, only backward or in his own present. That is why they want to use the present tense. Readers should be aware of this dillemma in translation. For tense problems in the prophets especially the case of past/future for the original future tense, see the conflict in the translation of Joel by Jerome using the future tense whereas Jeromes commentary on Joel is sometimes using the past tense (H. Wolff, Dodekapropheten 2 Bk. XIV/2 [Vlyun: 1969], 67-70). The reader cannot make the original saying what it does not say. Then it becomes eisegesis not exegesis. It means you are putting into God's word, words that was not meant to come from God.

John Calvin translated this verse in the future tense as well and so did John Wesley.

Only in the Flood in the year 2692 BCE did this happen to all the inhabitants of the earth. In the days of Hosea and after, such an event did not occur. It leads us to the understanding that we are dealing here with an eschatological unit where this event will occur at the end of time. The time when the earth will mourn is that day when the battle of the valley of Jehosaphat described in Joel and in Psalm 46 will take place. In that battle the righteous will be safely in Zion or the New Jerusalem and God the warrior will go out to face the enemy who is the rest of the inhabitants of the earth. It is at that time that this will happen and the result according to the book of Revelation 20 is that the earth shall be void and Satan will be bound for a millennium in a situation of loneliness.

The mourning of the earth is directly a result of the punishment due to the investigative judgment. If this investigative judgment is to occur at the end of time as we are suggesting here then the truth systems of Confucius, Plato, Aristotle, Buddha, Mohammed and others are not impressive for God. John Calvin thought that the prophet is here enlarging on the greatness of God's wrath (preteristically viewed by himself as the exile and its results) and that is why the fishes and animals are also mentioned. It is interesting that Calvin kept open the possibility of a second alternative interpretation (last judgment in future) to this verse by saying: "unless the Prophet, it may be, means, that though God should for a time suspend that last judgment, yet the Israelites would gain nothing, seeing that they would, by continual languar, pine away." John Wesley felt that this judgment was the "wasting armies" and that the domestic animals were killed by the armies and that the smell made the birds left the country?

( This is a bit too farfetched to be true. No matter how far interpreters are trying to stretch the meanings in a preteristic setting, we have to admit that it does not fit into history but belongs to the eschaton.

Sometimes churchboards blames a pastor and gossip around among the deacons and elders about his ministry but Hosea said: "Yet, let no man judge, and do not accuse someone, and your people are like those who judges a priest". It is an abomination to the Lord to judge or speak ill of His annointed.

Whereas verses 1-3 is dealing with the eschaton when God will judge the world, this verse returns in content to the days of Hosea and ask them not to judge anyone or accuse anybody. The simple truth is that no one should take a position of judgment over another since God is ultimately going to be the judge. The kind of judgment that is in mind here is not the earthly prerogatives of mankind in a legal judicial system but dealing with the ultimates of existence. In the end time it is God who will collect the harvest from the weed. It is His task not that of any human. When a man of God stumbles and fall the judgment from the man in the street is more severe than it would be to another fellow human being. It is like a judge who is caught in corruption. The masses are ruthless since they think that he should have known better. If the people in Hosea's day are like those who judges a priest then it means that their judgment and accusations are in the extreme. John Wesley interpreted it as to mean that there was no modesty or fear of God or man left among them, "they will contend with their teachers, reprovers, and counsellors". Similar is the reading of Calvin who felt that the prophet did not single out an individual priest here but that his attack was against the perverseness of the people in that they would not be willing to listen to reproofs. I do not think that the point is here that the people are unwilling to listen to a "priest's reproofs". It is rather that there is now a comparison between the judgment of God on the one hand and judgment of people amongst themselves as well as of priests, on the other.

Hosea explained the situation in verse 5 as follows: "And you stumble the day, and also the prophet stumble with you the night.  And I destroy your mother". Surprisingly the RSV and NASB now shifted gears and translated the past tense of the original as future. The KJV also translated in 1611 it as the future. The Darby also used the future tense here for the past forms of the verb in the original. The YLT is the closest to the original by translating this form in the past. It is also possible to translate it as the present tense since the forms for past and present are the same in the Hebrew. The Septuagint used the future tense for the first two verbs and maybe these translations were led by the Greek translation here. The fact that the Septuagint read it as such does not make it right per se. John Calvin also translated it as if it is the future. However, that future for Calvin is seen as something that would happen "shortly" as he put it in his commentary.

Someone is stumbling during the day and night. In the night time the prophet is also stumbling with this person. Who this mother is that will be destroyed is not clear. For Calvin of course with his presentistic interpretation method on the basis of textual equavalence, "mother" is seen as the Church. John Wesley had an all-inclusive meaning of "mother": "both the state, or kingdom; and the synagogues, or churches: the publick is as a mother to private persons". Wesley also employed a presentistic method of textual equavalence in his interpretation. Another way to look at it is to suggest a personification of the day and night and that the mother of the day and night is the sun. The sun will be destroyed by God in the eschaton. Calvin interpreted this section that the expression "day and night" attempts to show the totality of the time and the totality of the success of the destruction. It is for him as if the prophet wants to indicate that all from the first to the last will suffer punishment and no one will escape. The prophets in this section is not the true faithful ministers of His word but the imposters as Calvin called them. John Wesley read "this day" and Calvin mentioned that possibility but did not follow that. Jerome in his Latin Vulgate also used the future tenses to translate the verbs and so did the Greek. The Targum kept to the present tense. The Syriac is translating with a future. The Coptic is reading a future.

The reason why people in this world are destroyed is because of a lack of divine revelation (verse 6). Tragic it is for a Remnant of God to be destroyed because of a lack of knowledge of God. "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you, you have rejected the knowledge, I also reject you from being a priest to Me, and you have forgotten the law of your God. I will forget your sons, also I" verse 6.

The lack of knowledge that is in mind here is the knowledge of God. A person with the knowledge of God is likely to be selected by Him to be His priest. Such a person will not forget the law of God. To reject knowledge of God and to forget His law are two things that is not acceptable for God in the priesthood of man. Calvin said that this "law was fit to guide them". He said that "it was then as though God himself did shine forth from heaven, when he gave them his law." It is clear that the law that Calvin had correctly in mind here is the Ten Commandments. About the style of writing of Hosea, Calvin commented:

"this Prophet is in his sentences often concise, and so his transitions are various and obscure: now he speaks in his own person, then he assumes the person of God; now he turns his discourse to the people, then he speaks in the third person; now he reproves the priests, then immediately he addresses the whole people."

This aspect is unfortunately overlooked by men like Thomas Paine in his book: The Age of Reason, Parts I and II. It is also overlooked by men who operate with the methods of historical criticism of whatever kind, since they attempt to dissect the text when any fluctuation in style, words or grammar occurs. I once heard Hermann-Joseph Stipp lecturing on the prayer of Jonah and when he came to chapter 2:4-10 he noted fluctuation between first and third persons. He immediately assumed that different authors had glossed in the accounts here. He was joking about the method of scissors and wastebasket when it comes to the text, namely that the scholar sometimes have to cut out some pieces and refit them and even cast some away in the wastebasket. After the lecture I asked him to consult the Annals of Shalmaneser III's campaigns on the Black Obelisk where the narration is in the first person until the thirty-first year. At this point the narration shifted to the third person but suddenly reverted back to the first person just to have a continuous fluctuation of persons until the end of the account (A. Kirk Grayson, "Assyria and Babylonia" Or 49/2 [1980]: 140-144, pp. 165-167). I wanted him to explain to me how scissors can cut a stone? He was honest enough that day to admit that the historical critical method does not always have all the answers. Since then he continued publishing with this method and after so many years not learning anything from this aspect I decided to recount the incident.

In verse 7 Hosea speaks of the mulitiplication of sins as their numbers increased.

The KJV and the Darby is the closest to the original in reading "as they were multiplied". The KJV, Darby and the YLT read also "so they sinned against me". The RSV and NASB interpreted in their translation "the more they multiplied the more they sinned against me". In reality what you do have here is not an increase in each person's sins, but an increase in the numbers of people sinning. It is rather an indication that as people grew up they also became partakers of a sinful habit. We do not accept the reading of the RSV and NASB. They have attained some form of glory whether military wise or otherwise but that will be turned to shame. Calvin translated it as "according to their multiplying" and he did not see it only applicable to the men nor the wealth but every kind of blessings multiplied. Calvin do think that it also includes an increase in "their power, their horses and chariots" [military]. John Wesley interpreted that they multiplied "in number, in riches, and honour".

Sin means a separation from God. Whether it is a small sin or a big sin, size does not determine the condition of man in the eyes of God. Conversion and atonement are the only conditions that could secure a relationship with God immaterial of the size of the sin. A murderer could be close to God after receiving forgiveness and complete atonement in the eyes of God and a very kind person could be rejected by God since he/she had no interest in a relation with the Almighty. The secret is the relation and conversion is the key. The sins that are applicable in this verse are sins not atoned for.

Hosea then said in verse 8 that "They shall eat the sins of my people and unto their iniquity they shall lift up their soul".

The KJV did something very unusual in this verse. Normally the KJV is fairly literal. However in this verse there is an interchange between "soul" of the original and "heart" of the KJV. The Masoretic text reads actually "his soul" but we do not give full power to the vocalization of the Masoretic text. It is possible without changing the consonants of the Masoretic text to read "their soul". The KJV, Darby, YLT, NASB and RSV all used "their". In Jerome's day there were no vowels and he also read "their" as did the Septuagint. Calvin is very literal here and our reading is close to his: "They eat, the sin of my people, and lift up to their iniquity his soul." Calvin is reading in "his soul" the Masoretic vocalization here which is also acceptable. This fluctuation in number from plural to singular says Calvin leaves us the option to choose whether the passage is only applicable to the priests or also to the people. He stated that it can also be translated: "upon their iniquity they lift up their soul". John Wesley though, interpreted the verse as solely applicable to the priests.

The priests are feeding on the sin of God's people and unto the iniquity of the people of God these people of God lifts up the soul of the priest.

The Remnant will be a problem but the preachers also (verse 9): "And it has been: like people like priest. And I will visit upon them their ways and their deeds I will return to him".

The KJV, RSV, NASB and Darby translated here the future "and it shall be". The commentary of Calvin on Hosea also read the future here. The YLT is here correctly reading the original as "and it has been". The similarity of people and priest was a given fact and serves as a precondition to the punishments that will follow. The way the KJV, RSV, NASB and Darby reads it means that in future the priest will be like the people and the people will be like the priest and God will visit them then and will return their deeds unto them. It rather seems as if God is angry at the moment of speech so that this condition is already existing or present during the time of speaking or writing. The punishment though, is future. The Septuagint and Vulgate read it as future but again that is no reason for reading it as such. The previous verse is dealing with an already existing fact that priests are feeding on the sin of God's people. Why the first part of verse 9 should now be future, is hard to understand.

The end result is that both are the same. God will visit upon their ways and their deeds God will return to the priest. The priest will be accountable for their deeds.

They will be eating a lot but not be satisfied and have habits of sleeping around (verse 10).

What it means that people are eating but not be satisfied is probably that people are eating junk food. Junk food is of the character that it does not contain enough vitamins to fulfill the needs of the body so a person feels hungry again. An interesting situation is that they will commit fornication but not multiply. This was the time before the condoms so one wonders if this has reference to the end time when condoms are freely available or to Hosea's time when they were probably in a position not to have children? Calvin pointed out that the principle in this verse is that "men are not sustained by plenty or abundance of provisions, but rather by the blessing of God". This is definitely underlying the verse. The last part of the verse is interpreted by Calvin to mean that the Lord will strike them with barrenness". Calvin correctly indicated that forsaking the Lord is the source and chief cause of all evils. Calvin then extrapolate a principle that is still employed by Calvinists in their own system of modern church-discipline: that whosoever keeps faith with God, keeps himself also under the tuition of his word, and wanders not after his own inventions. Modern Calvinists are very strict against those who are experimenting with their faith in finding new strata of fellowship. Calvin said that the problem of the Israelites was that they have shaken off the yoke of the law, but in his own day Calvin was keeping the Sunday whereas the law requires Saturday. This is an interesting anomaly in the presentation of Calvin at this point.

They will get involved in actions pertaining to woman, wine and songs, thus hedonism, a constant desire for entertainment (verse 11).

The RSV did something in this verse that the other translation did not do. Since the original manuscripts or earlier ones did not have a separation in sentences or verses it was thus legitimate to connect "znwt" as the first word in Hosea 4:11 with the previous verse and end verse 10 after "in order to obey fornication" (or) with the RSV "to cherish harlotry". We have not done that. The RSV and NASB have interpreted "will take away the heart" as "take away the understanding". It is true that alcohol has an effect on the brain's functions but it is also true that alcohol in the long run affects the heart. It is better to consider the following option: these elements, fornication and wine causes a person to give up previous loyalties and assists a person to easily get attached to new loyalties. It takes the heart away from the one to whom it legally and rightfully belong. A new relation can result because of these elements. Since Hosea used the Hebrew word for understanding in Hosea 4:14 we do not agree with the RSV and NASB to translate here "understanding". John Wesley also understood it to mean "their understanding and judgment". These actions are perceived as still in future. By forsaking the Lord (a fact that already occurred, see the past of the verb in verse 10c), the Lord is expecting in future other things to result: they will fornicate and drink and that will take away their heart or loyalty to God.


                verse 10c               verse 11

                PAST TENSE             FUTURE TENSE

 the Lord they have forsaken       fornication, wine will take away their heart

The wayward Remnant will consult wood and sticks and a spirit of fornication (ecumenism) will lead them and they will fornicate from under the gods of those whom they wish to make aliances with "from under their gods" (verse 12).

How "telling" and "oracles" are related is not easy to see. The definition of "oracles" and what we know now in history about that phenomenon would not exactly be what the original had in mind here. In Africa some people use a stick in a "Y" formation to point to the presence of water in the earth. The "pointing" action is then a "telling" action. There are no oracles or words yet my uncle was able to "point" to the place where the drill was supposed to be installed. Whereas the original is using here the future tense, KJV, RSV, NASB, YLT and Darby translated it as past. So did also Calvin and John Wesley. Following the line of thought of the previous verse other things will result in future because they have forsaken (past tense, verse 10c), the Lord.


verse 10c               verse 11                  verse 12


have forsaken (Lord)      fornicating, drinking         will ask his staff

                       will take away heart         wood will tell them

                                                 PAST TENSE

                                              a spirit of fornicating misled

                                                 FUTURE TENSE

                                        they will fornicate under their gods



First we need to say something about the expression "my people". This expression is explained by Calvin as a sign that God favored some people among all nations to be his heritage or own. These people are "His peculiar flock", Calvin continued. The people of God will consult wooden idols and certain sticks will be used by them to worship God. People will make an object to represent their idea or concept of God and then they will act to the object as if it is a reality. They will use an idea to represent the reality and then they will deal with the representation as if it is the reality. This is what God is expecting that will result from them forsaking the Lord (verse 10c). Since the past tense is used for verse 12c it means that a spirit of fornicating already is misleading them. The action of fornicating and drinking will take away their relationship with God. They will set up another relation with other gods. This phenomenon of an object to replace the reality I experienced also in the orient. In Japan a person was killed in a car accident on one of the corners at Nasioshiobara in the Tochigi prefecture. On the pavement of the street they have erected a statue of the person made of stone. However, when the winter came and the snow they placed a red cap on the statue's head and a scarf around its neck. They made a representation of the reality of the past and are now dealing with that representation as if it is the reality. When a person comes to this point God is not pleased with the situation. They are worshipping with the heathens under trees which is their gods and there they are participating in fornicateing, drawn away by that spirit. Fornication is condemned in scripture and that action is leading or misleading the people of God to the worship of other gods besides God Himself, and God is not pleased with that. Concerning the expression "from under their God" Calvin commented that they did not remain focussed from under the government of God but wandered off.

Symbol vs reality

The whole problem with Israel is that they made symbols of reality and treated the symbols as reality. God hates this situation. Hench his prohibition against images for worship.

Some think if they carry the Christian cross around their neck, that it would make them more "holy" than others. It certainly does not affect the non-religious buddhist young generations of Japan and South Korea who swing drunk out of a disco, cigarette in the hand, earring of the cross, swearing as far as they are walking at two o' clock in the morning in Seoul or Tokyo. Christian? The symbol is not a carrier of the reality.

To imprint an image of Christ on a condom will not make the condom more "holy" or Christ more sacriligous. The fact that Mary held Jesus in her arms, in her womb, on her breasts, kissed him, hugged him, does not make her any holier than any other mother. Unless she believed that He was indeed the Messiah that came to be atonement for all, she is no better off than any other woman.

In modern evangelical meetings some attempt to control the environment: the volume level of the speakers, the rythm, speed and tunes of the songs and music to "carry people into God's arms". This is not the way God works although there is not anything wrong with this fever of them to be assisting in the conversion of souls. This enthusiasm should be there, but it is human. Some speakers say that they can feel the Holy Spirit is moving around in the meeting at a certain point, but how do they feel it? The people who start to cry? People cried when Kim, Jung-il, the chief of staff of South Korea's father died. People cried when Hitler spoke some of his public speeches. The list can go on. It become very difficult to distinguish mass-hysteria from the working of the Spirit of God. The Spirit can work in a quiet environment as well, and these phenomena at public meetings are too hastily connected to reality and even replaced as the reality itself. Despite the fact that it is human, a lot of good come from these meetings. They do not guarantee a lasting Christian but they certainly evidenced it in some. And this is the point of Hosea: all works of man are fragile, artistically only copying, acting out, dramatizing, but God is the one who does the actual work, completing it.

In his book: The Icon Road (Japan: Kawade Shoboushingsha, 1997), Sanjiro Minamikawa visited places in the Meditterranean and brought together photos of as many icons as he could see. He visited places on the Red Sea, Greece, Italy, Paris, off the coast of the Black sea and at least three places in Russia.

The book is filled with examples that would have made Hosea very uncomfortable. On every page is an icon of Christ portraying his face: a Beatle face (1), dressed like a scottish pipe player dated to 494 (5), a long elongated face and hands similar to that of Buddha (6), a face that looks like one of my cousins (7), a death portrayal of Christ from the 15th century comparing to the death of Buddha on page 15 of the book by Giro Sugiyama, Shape of Buddha (Tokyo: Kashiwa Shobou Kabushikigaisha, 1984) (9 also 76), angry face (12), whitened face like a ghost (13),  angry face (34 also 124), two old men on thrones probably portraying God and Jesus (46-7), long elongated face (53 bottom), a face similar to one of my portuguese friends (56 on the ceiling), a face like an Australian friend who was my neigbour during my studies in the USA (61), a face similar to one of the famous black movie stars (62), dark Arabic face (73), feministic portrayal of Christ on a donkey entering Jerusalem (77), Christ's baptism with his penis shown (81), face with blond hair (97), face like an old man of 75 with white hair and beard.

It is no better with Buddha. There are angry buddhas, smiling buddhas, naked buddhas, fully dressed buddhas, reclining buddhas, overweight buddhas, well-shaped buddhas, Greek/Roman and Indian and Oriental Buddhas.

The similarities between the sculptures of Christ and Buddha makes one wonder which came first, the chicken or the egg?

What can we make of all this? It simply means that no-one knew how Christ was or how Buddha was. All the artists portrayed their own friends and loved ones as these figures and the sculptures do not become any holier than the hand who shaped them. It does not matter whether it is Buddha in the shape of Jesus or Jesus in the position of Buddha - there is no merit in them and they are only to be perceived as a well designed or poorly designed piece of art, worth preserving to demonstrate the trends in art.

The priests of one of these orthodox churches (104-5) are walking through the street with their white robes and golden decorations and soldiers in white uniforms are carrying a silver and gold plated domelike shrine on a pedestal while people are anxious to see or touch it. In similar vein the buddhist festivals are celebrated with the same effect upon the people here in the orient. A lady is kissing a silverplated box in an orthodox church while others are waiting in line.

The orthodox church on page 110 is so overdecorated that to be blind would be a blessing if one has to worship in that church every week. There is no difference between the inside of this church and some of the buddhist temples here in the orient. On 117 the pulpit is turned around to face the icons instead of the people.

In a wedding ceremony (129) the brides are holding in their hands icons of Maria and the child while the men are holding icons of Jesus. They do not touch it directly since it is wrapped in a white cloth.

Men with long white beards and dressed in long over-decorated garments are walking outside the church while the public are in the background watching the spectacular (137). The garments reminded me of Harry Anderson's Bible Story pictures that I used to read as a child portraying the high priest of Israel. Here nearly every priest is a high priest. Their headwear has round and oval shaped icons of Jesus in them. On both sides one and one in front. Their long garments are embroided with crosses, flowers to the extreme. Long white beards are the fashion. Around their necks they are wearing overdecorated scarfs. The three domes of the church each has a cross on it and the little dome outside the front door also has a cross. It is as if one cross is not enough. Every leg of the cross has its own cross. Crosses in multiplication. The cross is meant to be a concept in the mind of the believer, not a wooden, golden, silver, object on a roof, or on your clothes or around your neck. Orthodox Jewish movements have also misunderstood the same principle regarding the Law that was and is supposed to be engraved upon the mind of the worshipper not on a piece of leather, metal, paper in a small box bound around your head and your arms. There is no difference in the misunderstanding here between some Jewish religious groups and the Law of God and some Christian groups and the cross.

They are outside but they are walking on embroided carpets. The public is not standing on embroided carpets, they are not wearing any of these embroided garments so the focus is over there in the theater of religious display. The priests are getting a "kick" out of this "lime light" episode but this katharsis is no different than the craving of a modern movie star or stage performer in the arts for the cameras of the mass media. When religion separates itself from the public it becomes a frenzy only for the initiated. A cult.

There are more than 14 ways or gestures in which the hands of Buddha are portrayed by artists through the centuries. At times the gestures compares with that of Christ and at other times only with a different finger in a particular position. The positions of Buddha's hands can be seen in the book: Kasuo Nagakaka, Japanese Sculptures of Buddha (Tokyo: Sekibutsjiteng, 1975), 360-361 on page ??????. Mostly Buddha touch with his thumb the pointing finger or middle finger. Christ touch in these icons with his thumb his second finger next to the smallest. The right hand of Buddha in Nagakaka no. 6 and the right hand of Christ in the icon of Minamikawa page 30 are nearly the same except that the fingers are different as indicated above. The hands in the icon of Jesus in Minamikawa page 33 resembles those of Buddha in Nagakaka no. 14. The right hand of the icon of Jesus on the ceiling of the chapel of Minamikawa page 56-7 resembles that of Buddha in Nagakaka no. 7.  In another book, Giro Sugiyama, Shape of Buddha (Tokyo: Kashiwa Shobou Kabushikigaisha, 1984) 104-105 there are 10 ways in which the hands of Buddha are portrayed: praying hands (1 = Nagakaka no. 12); all fingers clutched together in between each other into a unified fist (2); upside down with thumbs touching (4 = Nagakaka no. 2); with palms shown to the viewer and thumb and finger of each hand touching as if to portray two coins (6 = Nagakaka no. 4);  pointer finger of left hand pushed under and into the clutch fist of the right hand (3 = Nagakaka no. 1); right hand is thumb and pointer touching and looks like a rabbit while the left hand is the same with pointer and thumb towards the stomach (5 = Nagakaka no. 5); two fists are made but the pointer touch the thumb (7 = Nagakaka no. 14?); left hand is down and right hand is up (8 = Nagakaka nos. 9 and 8 respectively); the middle and fourth finger are slightly bend to the inside while other fingers are straight with hand up or the right hand and the left hand is holding some kind of a ball the size of an egg (9 = Nagakaka no. 7 especially for the right hand); the right hand is pointing to the floor and the left hand is horizontal on the stomach (10 = Nagakaka no. 13).

There cannot be any holiness in this kind of cult and neither are there. Holiness does not recide in objects or people or places. It is eternal, invisible, freely available as a presence to anyone at any time whoever asks for it. With people drawing so much attention to themselves with the drapery, holy dances, gestures, staffs or crosses or icons or other shining objects, God has to find another way to talk to the masses. You don't have to dress like Jesus in order to speak to the people, just dress as they do in everyday life. In every generation as they do. Meet the people where they are, do not expect them to always come to you.

What Hosea is seeing is a period of feministic involvement in the ministry of outside religions (verse 13). "They will sacrifice on the tops of the mountains and will burn on the hills, under oak, and poplar and terebinth, for good is the shade. Therefore your daughters shall fornicate and your daughters-in-law shall adulturate."

The people of God will sacrifice on the tops of the mountains and burn on the hills under various kinds of trees. It is interesting that Buddhism and many other religions prefer the top of hills and mountains for their cultic space. The temple must be high so that the approach is upward to the god. In the Egyptian temples they built it with levels rising until one reaches the sanctuary. They reason is that the sense of awe and oppressiveness was increased the nearer the god is approached (Rosalie David, A Guide to Religious Ritual at Abydos [England: Aris & Phillips Ltd, 1981], 2). The Assyrians and Babylonians erected temples and palaces on artificial platforms. A flight of steps lead up to the elevation. Whereas the outside and inside of Mesopotamian temples were important for effect, in Egypt it was only the outside which was impressive with the massive pylons. Inside it was plain with the height slowly decreasing as one walks deeper into the temple. In the time of Assurnasirpal II (883-859 BCE) examples of the holy tree was very common but in the time of Shalmaneser III it was limited. Only one example is known from this king (Erika Bleibtreu, Die Flora der neuassyrischen Reliefs [Wien: Verlag des Institutes fur Orientalistik der Universitat Wien, 1980], 75). It appears to this researcher that the holy tree was a Phoenician influence and during the days of Shalmaneser III Phoenician influence were restricted. From the time of Adadnirari III (810-783 BCE) comes only one example of a holy tree. His successors only created one example of a holy tree (ibid., 77). During the time of Tiglathpileser III the sacred tree was used in historical war scenes. This was an example of the connection between religion and history (ibid., 92). Tiglathpileser also built a palace out of Sederwood which stresses the importance of wood to this Assyrian ruler (Hermann Weidhaas, "Der Bit Hilani," ZA [nf] 11 [1939]: 108ff.). Since the men will be involved in these cultic activities under the trees the women will fornicate. It could be that the militant theology of the Assyrians contained some cultic actions for the soldiers under the trees which influenced also Israel. In Deuteronomy 12:2 it is said that all the places where people worship their gods, be it mountains, hills and under trees, should be torn down. If the men or soldiers are giving up their loyalty to other cultic gods and ceremonies, then the "mothers of Israel" or spouses are prone to easily transfer their loyalty too.

                   T H E      F A C T         THE PROBABILITY

verse 10c              verse 12c                verse 14

PAST TENSE             PAST TENSE              FUTURE TENSE

have forsaken (Lord)  a spirit of fornication     men shall sacrifice (mountains)

                      is misleading them       men shall offer (on hills)

                                               girls shall fornication

                                             married girls shall adulturate


If we are to think of a timing for this event then it is probably the best to go to the life of King Ahaz (736-716 BC). As king of Judah during his days there were pagan temples on the mountains and hills. 2 Chronicles 28:4 relates that Ahaz worshipped on the hills, under every shady tree he offered sacrifices and burned incense. North of Schehem was the city of Samaria and that is where 200 000 woman and children were taken after the Syrian war in 731 BC. Aramaeans were also transported to Samaria from Sepharvaim. Albright and others maintained that they worshipped there Adrammelech, a form of the god Hadad, but this is not sure (Davis, page 196, footnote 126). The period after this war would have resulted in intermarraige and also in princes of Judah who are anxious to move the borders of Judah? Suddenly strong ties existed between the area of Samaria and Judah on a physical relation level. While the grandmothers and grandfathers were in Judah still, the children and grandchildren were north of Ephraim in Samaria.

Hosea then speaks of Women Ordination, a concept that is foreign to God's Revelation but welcomed in outside religions. The females will sacrifice in the sanctuary (verse 14). "I will not visit upon your daughters for they will fornicate, and upon  your daughters-in-law for they will adulturate, for they (men) with fornicators will go aside and with the sanctuary girls will they sacrifice. And a people without understanding shall perish."

Jerome in the Latin Vulgate translate that they "offered sacrifice with the effeminate" = et cum effeminatis sacrificabant.

Since the men will be going to the sanctuaries of these other nations and spent time with the temple girls, therefore their wives and daughters will also fornicate around.

There is reason to think that the Deir Alla inscription might give us more understanding in the role of women in the religious cults. If one places Combination I = i(d) next to Combination II = ii(a) top + ii(b) bottom so that lines 14 of Combination I is in line with line 10 of Combination II, the results are startling. With the prominent features in the text, the definite line, the broad margin and the scratch at the bottom one can rearrange the pieces. There are word connections that helps one to reconstruct a story. To just consult the results of J. Hoftijzer and G. van der Kooij, Aramaic Texts from Deir Alla (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1976) is a good start but the puzzle needs to be reassembled again. It is not progress to just merely rely on their results. The last has not been said about this inscription. In this inscription the way we have assembled it the prophet named Bileam received a vision and he wept about it. His uncle took him to an assembly. He prepares a meal or offering for El. Wailingly he devours the dinner and from fragment viii(b) combined with fragments xii(e) from left to right followed by v(c) followed by xii(c) and viii(d) a line can be reconstructed that reads:

"...he completes the mixoffering from El along with which he is withdrawn..."

ywn.w?pr [------]yn.w[------]s?.nlh.[]t.ntq.------[--]


"[from] trembling be freed [...oil] of olives along with which [he drinks] from the wine/strong drink. Excited he eats [for the Saddayi]n...they came in crowds..........................why do you weep? and wailingly he devours.........he will open to profane......which they all together conceal (themselves) the satiation of the loved ones....




What is interesting is that at times it seems as if eschatological jargon is weaved into the whole text in bits and pieces. It even seems that true prophecy is mixed with this cult which could have been quotations from the true prophets misused as lingua for this cult. Wine was definitely part of the cult since they are said to "they drank wine and the aggrievers listens to exhortations" = ?tyw.?mr.wqbn.?mw.nwsr. (see Combination I at i(d) line 7 if our calculation is correct).

If we return to the words of Hosea he said that a people without understanding shall perish. Hosea 4:14 proofs that fornication is not the issue. The issue is that the men will be dealing with religious practices foreign and unacceptable to God. It is a religious issue not a lifestyle issue. If they are without a knowledge of God (the true God) they will perish. To stop fornication in life is to gain knowledge of God. The two are related. The issue here is the knowledge of God and that is why God will not visit those that fornicate. He is sharp against the men if they are going to the temples. As we have seen in our analysis these actions will result since they have forsaken their Lord. The inevitable result is that the family will disintegrate and a people without understanding of God shall perish (compare verse 6 "my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge" and also in verse 1d where it states that the key issue is "and without a knowledge of God". God's point in this verse is that it is useless to reform the women when the men are leading the way in disloyal relationships. The key issue is: there is no knowlege of God (1d); they have forsaken the Lord (10c); a spirit of fornication is misleading them (12c); and now God is brainstorming with a  checklist of possible deeds that will inevitably result from the course of action of the men. The men will go to other cultic practices and the women will fornicate around at home. The family destroyed. Calvin had the same idea when he said: "He then who worships not God, shall have at home an adulterous wife, and filthy strumpets as his daughters, boldly playing the wanton, and he shall have also adulterous daughters-in-law". It is interesting that Calvin employed the book of Romans 1 here where Paul said: "as men have transferred the glory of God to dead things, so God also gave them up to a reprobate mind." The "go aside" action is rightly indicated by Calvin to be an action of "dividing" or "separating themselves from God." Historically it is clear that now that the woman and children were transferred to Samaria north of Ephraim that these relationships would be inevitable but God is saying that this is not the issue for him. It is the men who are already worshipping in these pagan temples. It is the actions of king Ahaz that brought the Syrian war and it is the Syrian war that brought about the separation of the woman and children from Judah and the key issue now is why must God deal with wrong practices by these woman in that area that was to happen anyway. The original actions of the men was the bone of contention for God.

Calvin concluded this verse with a prayer that is indeed worth quoting in full: "Grant, Almighty God, that inasmuch as we are so disposed and inclined to all kinds of errors, to so many and so various forms of superstitions, and as Satan also ceases not to lay in wait for us, and spreads before us his many snares, - O grant, that we may be so preserved in obedience to thee by the teaching of thy word, that we may never turn here and there, either to the right hand or to the left, but continue in that pure worship, which thou hast prescribed, so that we may plainly testify that thou art indeed our Father by continuing under the protection of thy only-begotten Son, whom thou hast given to be our pastor and ruler to the end. Amen."

The application is to spiritual Israel by Hosea in verse 15. They should not let Judah trespass, they should not enter Gilgal or ascend Beth Aven or swear 'living is the Lord' (verse 15).

There are at least two different forms of private Greek translations by Aquila dating originally to 130 CE but which survived in the following way:

(GAquila130reconSYRO-HEXAPLA616reconCODEX AMBROS.ORIGENES-HEXAPLA=FIELD1875). It means the Greek of Aquila dating to 130 CE reconstructed from the Syro-Hexapla dating to 616 as reconstructed from the codex Ambrosianus but which is really a reconstruction of the Greek Hexapla of Origen as edited by Field in 1875.

Greek Private Edition's English Translation Aquila 1

If a fornicator you are Israel, may you not offend Judah, [may you not lead Galgal, and may you not go up] unto the house of unprofitableness and may you not swear: Living is the Lord. There are four forms of Symmachus (originally 170 CE) and three froms of Theodotion Greek translations (originally 190 CE).


In this verse we have the unfortunate situation that there are no less than four Symmachusses, three Theodotions and two Aquilas. The sources that are available are not unison on what they actually read. The information is scanty and conflicting. If one follows the Codex Ambrosianus then Aquila read very close to the consonantal text of the Masoretic tradition. If one follows Codex 86 then Aquila read a para-biblical text that was by mistake regarded to be the original and which was used by the Greek of the fifth centuries CE and also by Jerome. Talking about Jerome: since Hosea 2:20 we do not have any longer the oldest text s dating to 450 CE available and must rely on copies three hundred years later. We are not sure whether these copies between 750-960 CE should be seen as a pseudo-Jerome and not the original Jerome since there is a strong connection between the Greek of the fifth century and these Latin manuscripts in the variants that they are sharing. The Greek of the fifth century CE used a para-biblical text with a Qumrannic character as their Vorlage that resulted in many variants from the original. Why would Jerome who objected against the problems of the Septuagint of his day, used the same manuscript to end up with the same variants? It does not make sense especially considering his vehement debate with Augustine. Contrary to Codex Ambrosianus which predates the manuscripts of 750-960 CE, these Latin manuscripts indicate that Jerome read a Hebrew Vorlage similar to that which Codex 86, also a copy of the Syro-hexapla just like Codex Ambrosianus, is claiming that Aquila read.  

Though the translations all translated the future tenses of the previous verses as past tense, they now translate the past tense as a present tense. The conditional particle "if" used in the original is translated by the KJV, YLT, RSV, Darby and NASB as "though". They want to make the sentence presentistic as a fact in the days of Hosea. We do keep to the conditional particle and translate the sentence as a condition. It is a condition since the previous actions that were describe in the previous verses were probability (future tenses) not necessarily fact (past tense). The results did not necessarily occurred yet and that is why God is saying that if they are fornicating (which He predicted they will if they follow through with their course of action) then they must not mislead Judah. The Vulgate also translated the conditional particle )m = "if" as si but the Septuagint skip over it. This important aspect is part of the dilemmas in the translations so far. Since the future tenses of the verbs in verses 11-14 were translated as past tense by the KJV, RSV, NASB, YLT and Darby they have to translate the past tense as a present tense in verse 15 and ignore the conditional particle )m. In our translation we do not need to ignore the condition since we have discovered that the future tenses are used anyway for these actions in verses 11-14 and thus a conditional sentence is but just a continuation of the previous line of presentation. Since everything from verse 11 is probability not fact therefore the conditional (a probability mood) is perfectly appropriate in our line of thinking for verse 15. Not so with the KJV, RSV, NASB, YLT and Darby. Since the actions in verses 11-14 are viewed as facts by the scholars of these translations, therefore the reappearing of one of the actions from verses 11-14 (fornicating in verse 15) cannot appear as a condition or probability in verse 15 when it was a fact before in verses 11-14! The solution: ignore the original and ignore the conditional particle. We do not follow this line of interpretation or translation. This is the unfortunate role of preteristic thinking in the translation process. It is carrying into the text something that is not there in the original.

The admonition here must be put into context. The men (see previous verse) who are fornicating, they are asked not to influence Judah also to follow them to these foreign temples. When they are participating in these cultic actions in another cultic space than that acceptable to God then God does not want to hear from their mouths that the Lord is living. We are not sure whether Gilgal and Beth Aven were the good places where the evil men should not come to or whether God is instructing the evil men not to go to these evil places? John Wesley indicated that these places were used by Jeroboam for his worship of idols. Calf worship was at Beth-aven

 ( They are not to influence Judah with there habits.


               FACT                            PROBABILITY

verse 1c


there is no knowledge of God

verse 10c                                        verse 11

PAST TENSE                                   FUTURE TENSE

the Lord they have forsaken                 fornicating, wine will taken away

                                                 their heart

                                                 verse 12a-b

                                                 FUTURE TENSE

                                                 will ask their staff

                                                 wood will tell them

verse 12c                                        verse 12d

PAST TENSE                                   FUTURE TENSE

a spirit of fornication is misleading the  they will fornicate from under their                                                 


                                                 verse 13

                                                 FUTURE TENSE

                                           men shall sacrifice (mountains)                                                

men shall offer (on hills)

                                                 girls shall fornicate

                                             married girls shall adulturate

                                                 verse 15

                                              CONDITIONAL )m = "if"

                                      If fornicating   you are then do not                                                      let Judah tresspass.


The unfortunate situation in the preteristic translation process is that verses 11, 12d and 14d-e conflicts with the conditional particle )m = "if" in verse 15a. The scholars of the other translations had to ignore it. Jerome kept the conditional particle in the Latin Vulgate since he did not translate everything in the previous verses in a preteristic understanding as if it was a given fact in the days of Hosea.                           It is true that in the narratives of the Bible it can be shown that the tenses are sometimes intertwined and that a future can be a past and a past a future but here we are not dealing with the genre narratives. We are dealing with the genre prophetic literature, prophetic poetry and prophetic narratives. This pericope proofs that tenses in the prophetic literature is not just something that can be overlooked. It can cause a major lopsidedness in the understanding and interpretation if that is done. Everyone is familiar with the fact that the grammatical position can go both ways at times in the other genres of the Old Testament but we reiterate here that in the prophetic literature the situation "one for the other" (future tense = past tense, past tense = future tense) is discouraged.

Spiritual Israel is stubborn like a heifer (verse 16). The Lord wish to feed them like a lamb (verse 16). 

This is the expression of a farmer who is well acquainted with the actions of livestock. The question is here how the Lord can be their Shepherd if they are stubborn like a heifer. How can He feed them in a broad open space when they are refractory and untractable. A stubborn heifer cannot be given freedom in an open space. This is the lesson of liberty. Liberty and responsibility goes together. The more the person is demonstrating responsibility the more the person becomes free. A fighting for liberty is actually a captivation to violence. A stubborn heifer is a problem to the owner and to the society. The listening lamb is free to go wherever he wants since he is listening to the voice of the owner. If Israel is irresponsible how can the Lord give them freedom?

Ephraim is said to be joined to idols (verse 17).

Ephraim is friends with those who are part of the cults of other nations. They participate in the processions and activities of those cults. God wants to leave them alone.

In the Phoenician inscription of Azitawadda col. II lines 17-19 and col. III line 1 we learn that he said that he built a city, named it Azitawadda and let Baal stay in it. He also offered to all the images as he said:

                     Phoenician Text of Azitawadda

Column II line 19-III line 1

      "And I brought offering to all the images"

      wyld zb? lkl hmskt

      TKSmh lKl xbz dlyW

We have dealt with this inscription of Azitawadda in Hosea 2:13 commenting on the next three lines in col. III lines 1-3 how he had set times in which he brought various offerings and it is said that Baal blessed the "day" (not days) of Azitawadda. If Ephraim was involved with images then it means that they were also expected to bring offerings at certain times of the year and to participate in those cultic festivities.

This situation of Israel is a common phenomenon in all religions through the centuries. Even Christianity is not barred from the idol of "impressiveness". When there is a separation between the clergy and the laity (the pastor and the member in the church) then the pastor or priest can easily be caught up (even innocently) in a setting arranged by groups or organizers who's intention is to leave a display of awe, wonder, admiration, respect. There are specific seats assigned to the audience and the dignitaries, special clothes to identify the who is who among the masses. There are barriers to keep people from coming closer and police or deacons watching that the barriers are honored. The stage is colorful, shiny, glittering, to make the event even more exciting. This is true in Buddhism and also in Christianity. Even in Judaism this is not absent and a good example of this is the beautiful synagogue in Jerusalem across the hills west of the Jaffa gate. The whole design of every religion is that someone over there is doing something for himself or us that is more holy than what we are doing here where we are standing. Have we ever thought that the holiness of God can be standing next to us instead of their where we think He is? Many examples of this majestic display can be seen in churches of every denomination whether protestant or orthodox in all its forms (catholic, Russian orthodox, Greek orthodox, Armenian, Coptic). In the catholic tradition a good example is from an engraving that is exhibited in the Vatican library currently and that dates to 1578. The purpose of the picture is written in the top register at the top of the picture. It is the inside of the sistene chapel and on the left the pope is sitting on his throne and the artist is standing at the back what seems like a balcony (but one cannot see the balcony). The papal see and all other dignitaries are inside the most holy area. There is a barrier and a group of people can be found in that area. Another barrier keeps the people in a third division. What is the purpose of the artist or engraver? The latin reads: MAIESTATISPONTIFICIADVMINCAPELLA

"The majesty of the pope while in chapel". This is what impressed the engraver the most during that event of 1578. This is what he remembered or wanted to remember. Was it the love of God? Was it the salvation of his soul? The pictures of Jesus carrying the cross in the upper left corner are small and vaguely presented not because they are the prime focus but because they are part of this total event. The pope and the paintings at the front of the church are in equal distance from what appears to be an altar in the center of the picture. The pope sits on his throne at number 4 of the engraving. This artist was inspired but inspired by the awe of order, classifications, honor, human designs in the same way as Japanese reporters of the NHK television broadcasting network reported recently on the Australian Olympics of 2000. The camera and artist is trying to catch the spirit of the moment and it is exactly this spirit that is an idol to humanity. This engraver of 1578 was so detached from the event and the clergy that he focussed on the human glory and majesty and no space is given to God or what God meant to him.

The picture can be found on the internet at:

It is not sure if the person will arrive at the same picture but access to the Vatican Library exhibition can be obtained from Try to search [Armenian manuscripts] and that will lead you to the library.

Any human from whatever denomination or religion who approaches God through a chain of command or dignitaries is bound to remember the concrete and forget the abstract. They go back to society bubbling over about the glittering aspects of the event which is soon surplanted by other glittering events in daily life and the person is back to where he/she started in the first place. There is a strong horizontal relationship but the vertical is never attained this way. This is how man is "joined to idols".

They are hedonistically inclined with a wine woman and song mentality (verse 18). "Drunk is their army. They fornicate the fornicator. Her shields dearly love shame".

It seems as if the military participated in the cults of the other nations. Their army is drunk and they fornicate the fornicator. The shields of the army is said to love shame meaning that the soldiers are participating in these cults and are thus participating in the shame that goes with it.

Hosea then explained that wind means an army and this interpretation is also solid and sound in Adventist prophetic interpretation. The Targum understood the same: "The works of their nobles are not re-established just as a wind in wings that is not able to fortify. Now shall come over them an enemy and he shall confuse them from the letter of their altars."

A wind in prophecy sometimes indicate a powerful army or force or empire that can swiftly and quickly come and take another country (verse 19).  Here is a prophecy of another army that will come with speed like wings and wrapped them up. This is also the way that John Wesley understood it to be when he commented: "the whirlwind of wrath from God hath seized this old adulteress, and carried some of her children away already". The sacrifices would not have helped them in their course of action. It could be a reference to the Syrian war of Rezin and Pekah that came as result of Ahaz's worshipping of pagan religions on mountains and hills described in 2 Chronicles 28:4. As punishment God sent the Aramaean army to kill many and carry many woman and children away. Calvin commented here on the use of the past tense in the first part of the verse and then made an apology that "the past tense is to be taken for the future". He understood this to mean a natural storm would come up. Wesley's interpretation in this verse was better than that of Calvin. We have already indicated elsewhere that the principle of "one for the other" that Calvin is mentioning here, should not be followed for the prophets in order for us to separate fact from probability. There is hardly a military operation today that do not in one way or another call upon God or gods to protect them. They do it with various ceremonies and other actions. Sometimes under the name of patriotism the intention transcends the human sphere and it is as if a sacred and holy domain is entered. This can be just as much a substitution of our own idea for God as reality.


Dear God

Hosea had the unfortunate task to addressing his wayward spiritual remnant in his own day but also looking down the corridors of time even to the end of days after 1798. What was evil for them is evil for us and we pray for your involvement in everything we do. Accept our consecration. Amen.