Devotional Commentary on Hosea 13


Ephraim became rich and wealthy. They became rich and strong and when they spoke everyone in Israel was trembling. He shall offend in Baal and therefore he shall die. There was a time when Ephraim was very powerful but due to its interest in the Baal religion, they shall die. The strong interest in Phoenician religion will be their downfall. "When Ephraim spoke he lifted up trembling in Israel and he shall offend in Baal and he shall die." (verse 1).

Silver was used by them to make idols for themselves. They made calves and brought sacrifices and said: "Sacrifices of Adam shall kiss the calves" (verse 2).

The later Jewish Targum translated with interpretation and paraphrasing: "And now they have multiplied to that which are sins and they made to them the casting from their silver like that which is similar to themselves, making truly images of all of them to them. They themselves are below the lying prophets sacrifizing to the work of the hands of the man: treasuring the oxen to the sheep."

Verse 2 reads: "And now they shall increase to sin and they shall make to them images of their silver. According to their understanding idols. All of it the work of artisans. To them they said: sacrifices of Adam shall kiss the calves."

They made for themselves images of silver. Hosea said that they made according to their understanding idols. All of it was the work of artisans. It appears as if they made these idols according to their understanding. The calves could refer to those made by Jeroboam I and placed in Beth-el and Dan. Their understanding was that sacrifices of Adam shall kiss these calves. Sacrifices on the altars in honor of these idols [an idol of Adam?] shall kiss these golden calves that were made long ago by Jeroboam I. Especially in the Egyptian religion it was believed that the dead and the gods need food. They inhabit houses, and needed to be fed at all times. Food were placed in tombs but there was also feeding in the temple. After the New Kingdom period it was believed that after the god and the royal ancestors had partaken of the daily offering, that the owner of the statue, whether alive or dead would enjoy and benefit from this sustenance (see Rosalie David, A Guide to Religious Ritual at Abydos [England: Aris & Phillips Ltd., 1981], 3). To ensure that the ancestors do get their meals, they made at certain periods statuettes and models of servants brewing and carrying food and these were sealed in the tomb. It sounds thus that the calves (gods placed their by Jeroboam I) would be kissed by daily sacrifices that people would bring to the Adam idol? Most translations are opting for a translation here of "man" for Adam but it is unlikely to this reader that Hosea will use the word Adam in two different meanings in his book since there are other ways to express the same concept? It is easy to understand how sacrifices "kiss" the calf gods, what we need to clarify is why it is "sacrifices of Adam"?

If one looks at the flood accounts in the Sumerian tradition (1700 BCE), the Atrahasis Flood account (1500 BCE), the Genesis account (pre-1450 BCE) and the Gilgamesh account (650 BCE), especially on the aspect pertaining to the offering scene one notices differences as to the reaction of the gods: In the Sumerian, Atrahasis and the Masoretic Text of Genesis it is stated that the gods/God sniffed "his smell" line 211 of the Sumerian text; "sniffed the fragrant smell" line 34 of the Atrahasis; "sniffed his clean smell" Genesis 8:20-21; but nothing is said in the Gilgamesh Epic of 650 BCE (Van Wyk, "Ancient Accounts of Early Earth History," in Archaeology of the Bible and Text in the Tel [Berrien Center, Michigan: Louis Hester Publications, 1996), 38-56, especially 54-56. Of course the Gilgamesh was later than Hosea by nearly 80 years. The Atrahasis reads that the gods sniffed = e-re-sa (line 34) the fragrant smell and came to the smoke = qatrini (line 41). For the Egyptians the temple was seen as a living entity that could be brought to life by magic with its statues, reliefs, and inscriptions. By the ritual known as the "opening of the mouth" the priests would ritually open the mouths of the figures represented in the temple and the temple then became a "living body" of the god who was the "lord" of the temple. Now it is clear how this verse is saying that the sacrifices will kiss the calf gods. Not only can they smell the fragrant smell but also they became living bodies that could be kissed.

Hosea said that their future shall be "as the morning mist and as dew that pass away. As chaff that is driven from the floor and as smoke from the chimney." (verse 3). Temporality in extreme.

God is very special and in Egypt He displayed Himself vividly in the past and certainly God is different than any other human created god. "And I am the Lord your God from the land of Egypt and a God different to me you shall not know and a savior there is not without me."

The God that is speaking to them here is the same as the covenantal God of Moses in Exodus 3 "I am what I am" when he was 80 years old in 1450 BCE. He is the only God that took an interest in the people of Israel and who saved them from that foreign working conditions. They were saved from unpaid overtime, underpaid, child labor, harsh working conditions.

If God counted the number of hairs on our globe of 6 billion people, then surely He is able to know each one and in corporate what Israel did in the desert, in the land of wilderness (verse 5).

They were led into the wilderness and instead of taking a shortcut to Israel they had to wander a long distance around Sinai. It is not always clear from the sources of Moses as to why they had to wander all these years but here Hosea is supplying a hint. "Loneliness" God wanted them to detach from nations to purify them from any cultural backsliding to heathen practices. It took them one generation to be purified enough in their God to enter Canaan. They were lonely during these years. He knows them according to His shepherding of them (see the next verse).

"According to the shepherding of them.  And they will be filled. They were filled. And their heart shall be exalted. Therefore they have forgotton me." (verse 6).

To understand this sentence one must also read the previous verse. I knew you in the desert. [I knew you] in the land of loneliness. [I knew] according to the shepherding of them. [I knew] they will be filled (at that time in 1450 BCE they were complaining and was not filled). [I knew] they were filled (presently before 723 BCE and that they are now rich). [I knew] their heart shall be exalted (back in the wilderness God saw ahead this day). [I knew] that is the reason why they have forgotten me. It might seem like a complicated sentence but this is a technique here that Hosea tries to fluctuate between two events: the wilderness experience in 1450 BCE and the current state of affairs after 727 BCE. His attempt is to show that the same covenant God is operating here in both events. Either he is using a technique or the fact that he is an old man makes him fluctuate between two experiences at the same time. That is why he is saying that "they will be filled" and "they were filled" in the same line. The first people who will be filled as an action that is not completed yet, are the people in the days of Hosea ca. 723 BCE. The people who were filled are those Israelites during the wandering years of 1450-1410 BCE. The phrase "and their heart shall be exalted" refers to the situation of people repenting in future in the days of Hosea but the phrase "therefore they have forgotton me" refers back to the situation in 1450-1410 BCE. There is no need to follow the editors of the BHS in the lower register that the phrase "they were filled" was added due to dittography. If that is the case, these editors have to be consistent and also cut out "therefore they have forgotton me" since this is a negative statement following a positive statement in "and their heart shall be exalted". We have emphasized so many times in this commentary that these editors were not only inconsistent in their suggestions but also misleading. It is best to delete the lower register of the BHS for the book of Hosea.

Because of their sins God will be to them as a lion and a leopard on the way to Assur (verse 7).

God cannot tolerate this kind of behavior. In the executive judgment God will be the Lion of the tribe of Judah or the Warrior God who will fight the last battle of the extinction of evil. God said that He will be unto the people of Ephraim as a lion and as a leopard on the way to Assur. Hosea probably heard from people who travelled to Assur and back that there are leopards on the way. God is speaking here and said that He will treat them fiercely. In the next verse and also before we have commented on the god as a lion to his/her enemies in the theology of the Sumerians.

Verse 8 continues the executive judgment awaiting them in the eschaton: "And I will confront them like a bear bereaved, and I will tear the cover of their heart and I will eat them there like a lion. A wild beast of the field shall tear them."

The God of the executive judgment will confront Ephraim like a bear bereaved. He will tear the cover of their heart and eat them there like a lion. The images are like a zoo with wild and hungry animals.

We have indicated before that in the time of Jacob when he was 63 years old in 2004 BCE (the year in which the Elamites ransacked Ur), there originated an execration text of Iddin-Dagan written in Sumerian which describes the god Ninisinna, daughter of An as a raging storm, who "rends the flesh of the enemy" (line 4); "lion-paw, sharp knife, claws constantly dripping blood" (line 6); "lion, leopard, rising from its lair, that makes the foe tremble" (line 17). This theology of the god as a lion against his/her enemies was well know to the Sumerians of that day. This text contains eschatological lingua that we find in the prophets often, namely that the heaven tremble and the earth quake. See text 8 in O.R. Gurney and S.N. Kramer, Sumerian Literary Texts in the Ashmolean Museum. Oxford Editions of Cuneiform Texts Vol. V. (Oxford: At the Clarendon Press, 1976), 20-23.

The people of the land is destroyed by the wayward Israel for God is eager to help the faithful remnant. (verse 9). Sin has colateral damages and consequences.

"Israel destroyed you for it is in me in helping you." (verse 9).

This sentence is very difficult as it is written in the original but can be understood in the way we have translated it. This is a very literal translation and we did not have to leave out anything (the second preposition /b/ for example). The meaning is that Israel destroyed the people of God but it is in God to help them. The comparison is here between the character of Israel and the character of God. In Israel it is to destroy but in God it is to help. Compare here the rumor that went around that God just want to destroy in Hosea 12:7. This verse must be seen in conjunction with the next verse that lashes out against the monarchy. Hosea is following in the theology of the Old Testament that God was to be their king and that the monarchy was permitted not originally in the plan of God for Israel. Help is of course in God.

God said that that He [Christ] will be their king. They will be saved in all their cities around the globe of the earth. (verse 10).

The message probably to the remnant or faithful ones are that God will be their king. He will save them in their cities. The people were under the impression that the judges gave them a king and princes but God is saying that He did that in His anger (see the next verse).

Just like it is in our days, people think that rulers are coming from the people or from the regime or from parties but God said: "I gave you a king in my anger and I will take in my wrath" (verse 11).

"And your judges which you said: You gave me a king and princes.I gave you a king in my anger and I will take in my wrath."

When the true remnant offends God by being wayward and securalized, then God is angry and He set up rulers for them taking them in more disasters and then later He takes away these rulers and in the eschaton the wrath of God will take care of all evil in the executive judgment including the wayward remnant that did not repent as He tried until the end.

The monarchy was permitted by God but is not according to His will. He is the King of the faithful and as long as He is their King they do not need another. God will take in His wrath.

Ephraim sin is bound up and hidden (verse 12).

The iniquity of Ephraim is thus hidden and like a bag that is bound up.

"The sorrow of one that carry shall come upon him. He is a son not wise. For a time he shall not stand in the breaking of sons" (verse 13).

The same pain and suffering that someone has in carrying something will be the future for Ephraim. They were very rich at this stage and it was hard for them to imagine that they will have to do the work of servants. They are thus not wise. For a time they will not stand in the breaking of sons meaning in our understanding that they were training young servants to work very hard and for a time they will be the servants instead of being served.

The God of salvation is the one who saves from the grave: "From the hand of sheol I will save them, from death I will redeem them. 'I am' will be your words death. I will be destroying you, sheol. Sympathy shall be hidden from my eyes" (verse 14).

Here is a personification of death and the grave. It is fitting in the light of the Great Controversy them of a Rebellion in Heaven motif that death is personified. Lucifer the fallen angel who became Satan is an entity who was once the most beautiful of all angels. Several epic dramas by Grotius, Vondel, Milton, Ellen White and others were written to explain the complexity of the fall of this angel of darkness. All of these creations were derived from texts in the Bible like that in Isaiah 14:12ff. Hosea lived during the same time as Isaiah and this chapter of Isaiah and its content was in all probability common knowledge to Hosea. We have indicated before that if a motif was common knowledge in the ancient times, it was not expected to spell it out in detail. The epics of modern times (Grotius in Adammus Exul of 1601, Joseph Vondel in Lucifer of 1654, Salianus in Bellorminium - Disputationem Roberti Bellormini Tomum Quartus [Keulen: 1619], John Milton in Paradise Lost, Ellen White in Patriarchs and Prophets) and other works of the late Middle-Ages like the commentaries of Jesuit scholars (the Spanish Jesuit Suarez in De Angelis Lile VIII c.13.95); the thomistic school (Cornelius a Lapide in Commentarii in Sacram Scriptorum Part VI.229b, edited in 1860 as a commentary on Isaiah 14:12-15); the Franciscan school (John Duns Scotus in Philosophia Naturalis [1265?-1308?] see HTML at and also HTML at and the Middle-Age document Vita Adae et Evae xii-xvii (edited by S.A. Wells in Apogrypha and Pseudepigrapha edited by Charles) all are attempts to enlighten the modern age about a theme that is not fully understood any more since the detail is not common knowledge. There was no need for Hosea to refresh the memory of the people on this theme and Isaiah also did it but in bypassing. In the Ancient Near Eastern Literature this theme was also found. Parts of the detail can be seen in the Late Egyptian story of the Shipwrecked sailor. The island and the snakes comments reminds one of the Paradise and incidents there as described in Genesis 3. This story is dating to the days of the Judges in the period of the Philistines. Trudy Dothan gave a description of the emergence of the Philistines in Israel between 1191 until 1085 BCE (see Van Wyk, "Archaeology of the Philistines" in Archaeology in the Bible and Text in the Tel [Berrien Center, Michigan: Louis Hester Publications, 1996], 180-200, especially 189). Another example is the Legend of the Worm dating to the seventh century BCE from the archvies of Ashurbanipal. The same motif and outcry against it creator is seen in this story (it was published by Thompson but an English version of it can be seen in ANET by Pritchard). The modern attempts to circumvent around the talking snake in the paradise as been a myth should go to the tomb of Thutmosis III and see on the walls of the burial chamber the snakes with feet and wings to fly. In our analysis Thutmosis III was the pharoah of the Exodus and Moses wrote Genesis so that those motifs are time related. Thutmosis III died that night in 1450 BCE and something strange happened that night at the fourth hour since the painter of that section in the burial chamber came back and removed the deities and the ankh from their original position. Another hand was asked to paint over it upon the bottom register. There were many inconsistencies in this tomb as far as the funeral process is concerned. In fact the mummy of the person was proved by Chicago University to be that of a man nearly 40 years younger than his historical years. Did Thutmosis III drowned in the Nile and was this his eldest son who died the previous night when he gave his permission for the Israelites to move? Is that why there are so many irregularities in the tomb of Thutmosis III? His general Amenemheb made a very interesting comment: "[King Thutmosis III] went aloft to heaven, being united with Aton, the limbs of the god (i.e. king) being merged with the one who made him. When the morning brightened, the sun ('itn) came into being (hpr) and the heavens shone...Amenhotep II was established upon the throne of his father" (op. cit. Van Wyk, "Dilemmas and Directions in Exodus Dating: Towards a Synchronization of the Pharaohs with Biblical Chronology," in Archaeology in the Bible and Text in the Tel [Berrien Center, Michigan: Louis Hester Publications, 1996], 114-128, especially 127). At any rate, the close connection to Moses and the Exodus is not difficult to ascertain in the Bible and chronology and those snakes in Thutmosis III's burial chamber with their feet and wings are personifications similar to the situation in Genesis 3 and the snake in Paradise.



           From a site in Israel, namely Ain Samiya, North East of Ramallah is an example from Tomb 204a dating to MBI or 2250-2000 BCE/1950-1750 BCE of a snake standing on its tail (Marie-Henriette Gates, "Casting Tiamat into another sphere: Sources for the `Ain Samiya Goblet," Levant 18 (1986): 751. See also W. Dever, BASOR 237 (1980): 354 and S. Richard, BASOR 237 (1980): 54. In fact its head has human characteristics. This coincides with the birth of Abraham 2231 BCE Again, it is not to be postulated that the Hebrew tradition "borrowed" its information from the Umwelt. One should not allow parallellomania to jeopardize the reality of the phenomena of the Bible. This approach is normative and not eclectic as is conventional today. From the Ur III ruler, Amar-suen's 7th year, 2040 BCE comes another example of a walking snake. JS 4=AUCT 1:492. This tablet is in the Horn Museum at Andrews University. This snake also seems to have arms. From the period after the death of Joseph in 1880 BCE, comes two cuneiform examples that is kept in the Horn Museum at Andrews University. They are dating to the 1st (1749/48 BCE) and 23rd (1727/6 BCE) years of the reign of Samsuiluna, the son of the famous Hammurabi, the law codifier. JUCT IV=AS 7 texts 62 and 72 on pages 98 and 108. Still later examples can be seen from the time of the Babylonian ruler Nabuplamiddina and Nebuchadnezar I during the time of the Philistines. Der alte Orient 19 (1919):12.


Our modern scholars are evasive of the Rebellion in Heaven theme and, in fact, in a mode of quietism. Even Walther Eichrodt (idem, Theology of the Old Testament Vol. 2 [London: SCM Press LTD, 1967]), stands in this commentary under review for his attempts to speak of Satan in typical artificial hegelianism: an earlier absence of the figure (206), a creation of it by the Hebrew concept and an importation of the figure into literature and a later usage of that figure by prophecy. If Eichrodt describes Satan in these terms, he is no better than K. Marti (whom he rejected, op.cit. 206, footnote 1) who suggested that Satan is psychologically the personified voice of a bad conscience. In both cases Satan is a human creation. In our understanding there is no growth of the concept regarding Satan. It is rather the opposite: absence of description means full understanding so that only half a word or hint is necessary. A full description of Satan and his actions means just the opposite of what Eichrodt understood in the passages of the Old Testament regarding Satan: it means the absence of understanding by the common people which made explanation and elaboration necessary. Eichrodt describes how people later connected evil with Satan by the fourth century! Newspapers report today things that are not common knowledge and they elaborate in their descriptions of it if people lack any knowledge of it. However, if they discuss things of common knowledge, they use a small space and only rhetorically hint to the event in a sarcastic or humoristic way. It is the same with the process the Word of God was written.

The methodological problem with Eichrodt is that he collected the pericopes for a specific topic in the theology of the Old Testament in the text, compared the physical size of the description in each pericope, dileneated large ones and small ones, and then connected the size and quantity of the description with the quantity of understanding and importance in the thoughts of the writers of the Old Testament. This connection of size and thought is not scientific. With this understanding, we feel that the Theology of the Old Testament of Walther Eichrodt stands in great need of revision. Scholars try their best to connect the imagery of Isaiah 14 with the king of Tyre or Babylon. The unfortunate thing is that there are dimensions that are beyond the human sphere. It cannot fit into a mere human frame. The Great Controversy in Heaven theme or the Rebellion in Heaven Motif is just as real to the Bible as is the Exodus out of Egypt or God's revelation to man. The whole plan of salvation revolves around this theme and it is a waste of precious time to ignore this aspect in either or both the Old Testament and New Testament. (See Koot van Wyk, "Ellen White, John Milton, and the Dutch Poets: Fall of Man Narrative Parallels. Sahmyook Theological Review 4 [1996]: 174-182).




1. Nineteenth century descriptions of this motif

           Ellen White wrote a book called The Great Controversy in which she vividly described the great conflict in heaven and the origin of evil, suffering and death.

2. Seventeenth century epic descriptions of this motif

           The English poet and dramatist, John Milton, the Dutch poet and dramatist, Joost van Vondel and Hugo Grotius dealt all with this motif. Also commentaries like those of John Trapp, Edward Leigh, Miles Smith, John Salkeld, Joseph Beaumont, Andreini and Thomas Heywood considered this theme.

3. Middle Age theologians and this motif

           Suarez, Thomas Acquinas, Ambrose, Duns Scotus, Augustine and Jerome, all dealt with this theme.

4. Patrology and the rebellion in heaven motif

           Early Church fathers like Tertullian, Hippolitus and Origen also considered the rebellion in heaven motif.

5. New Testament prooftexts for the rebellion in heaven

           Isolated references brought together from Luke 10:18, Revelation 9:1 and Jude 1 could be helpful to explain this motif better.

6. Old Testament prooftexts for this motif

           In the Old Testament this motif can be found in Isaiah 14:13-14, Genesis 3, Ezekiel 28:18, Daniel 8:11.Isaiah 14:13-14


When one looks at this reference, it is clear that it was the original intention of Lucifer to question the Creator and ascend to heaven to be above the stars and God (vv. 13b). In verse 13e where Satan is describing that he wants to sit on the mountain in the North, he is already cast down to earth, because his desire is to set his throne on the mountain in the North. Here it is not his desire to ascend above God, but he wants to ascend above the clouds (verse 14a). What this verse is telling us, is that in the process of being demoted, Satan did not loose his original desires for self-exaltation.


 In Hosea Sheol has a hand, that of Lucifer who became Satan. The wages of sin is death and everyone dies because of the sin of Adam. Salvation and redemption attempts at first to save everyone from eternal death and then in the eschaton God will come and resurrect everyone, and his faithful to eternal life. Redemption in this verse of Hosea lies fully in the power of God. God has power over death and in this day that redemption was still seen as an action in future. The personification of death will acknowledge the power of God and say the name of the covenant God "I am". God will not have any sympathy at that moment in time. It shall be hidden from his eyes.

The escathon is spelled out here. The harvest of the Spirit shall be fruitful. "The east shall come" meaning that many from the Orient is going to respond positive to the worldwide evangelism of the Latter Rain outpouring? Perhaps?

The wrath of God will come from the desert which is either south or far East. Water resources will be dried up. A warmer planet is predicted for the end-time. Then with plaques all over the world the Lord will plunder the treasure and all the pleasant vessels.

"For he shall be fruitful between brothers, the east shall come. A wind of the Lord coming up from the desert. And it will dry up his spring and it will dry up his well. He shall plunder the treasure and all the pleasant vessels." (verse 15).

All hedonistic places will be shaken. What is pleasant to man will be plundered.

Death shall be fruitful between brothers. Lucifer or Satan that is the essence of this personification shall be fruitful or successful. The east shall come meaning that the Lord will come from the East. A wind of the Lord shall come from the east (the desert). He will dry up all water around him. He shall plunder the treasure and all the pleasant vessels. This verse has all the elements in to be taken eschatological but some of the aspects could be indicative of the conquest by the Assyrian forces and the Babylonian forces. The treasures of Israel and Judah were carried away and the vessels of the temples taken. We must remember that Hosea is writing or let it be written as a man of over 80 years old. His manner of speech is mixed with punishment and dreams of redemption.


Dear God

We cannot miss the end-time hand of Hosea and Your clear message to the remnant here. May we enjoy the favor of the Lord instead of His coming wrath. In Jesus Name. Amen.