Devotional Commentary on Hosea 6


Hosea starts this chapter with action to return to the Lord (verse 1).

Jerome came to this part and he made a different verse division than that of our current Masoretic text. There is no right or wrong in this case since in the original divisions were not that clear, we assume. He started verse one "In their distress they shall speed to me and we will turn unto the Lord." Calvin in his verse division did not follow Jerome here. Calvin made the strong point "that God never so rigidly deals with men, but that he ever leaves room for his grace."

This is a call for conversion. The prodigal son in the story of Luke 15 came to his senses and said that he will get up and go to his father. He saw his own worthlessness but he knew that his father would accept him in his house again. When Adam and Eve sinned they were drove out of the garden of Eden. (See Hosea 6:7 where the name of Adam appeared so that it is legitimate to bring the history of these two people into this verse). The punishment for sin is death and since then the human race died (firstly with an ability to longitivity) but after the worldwide flood, only between 70-100 years or sligthly more. Sickness, pain and suffering became the inevitable result of those sins and humanity ever since were torn and smitten good or bad. Death is inescapable. The solution however lies outside of humanity. He has torn does not mean that God has a bad side in Him that wants people to suffer. They brought this upon themselves. Of course there are many innocent people dying without cause by themselves. God is aware of this and will do everything in His power to make up for these people. It is not always clear to us why certain people is permitted to die but God is fully aware of the circumstances and whoever is responsible will have to deal with Him in future. Einstein has a good side in him but we have to admit that the bad side in him will have to appear one day before God answering why there are the blood of innocent women and children on his hands from Hiroshima and Nagasaki for his encouragement to president Rooseveldt to construct weapons of mass-destruction. Any sin from a person who has not repented stands under the same condemnation: eternal death. The temporary or first death is for everyone, the second death is only for those who did not repent and turn to God.

There are those who object that one cannot employ the theology of the New Testament in the Old Testament since they feel that it was not yet so well developed. The problem with such a thinking is firstly the misunderstanding that if one does not find explicit explanation of a concept in the Old Testament, then, it did not exist. The second fallacy is one of methodology. Since they are attempting to describe everything in an evolutionary pattern as if it developed from nothing to something they expect that the description in the Old Testament will be meagre and in the New Testament fully developed. They cannot see that a concept can degenerate. That means it can go from knowing everything to knowing nothing. Pluralism do just that namely that it confuses the issue to such an extend that people finally knows nothing. Concepts well known does not need explanation and thus the absence of a description only means that it is clearly understood by everyone that way and thus superflous to recount. The resurrection in the Old Testament is such a case. Scholars are trying to find it only after the origin of Zoroastrianism somewhere in the end of the Medio-Persian period but this is a phenomenological approach to religion in which again sources are the main problem. They are dealing with sources far later than the original date and leap into the abyss of absence of knowledge with "I think and therefore it is true". With the absence of data they dogmatically insist that the concept of resurrection in the Old Testament was derived from Zoroastrianism. When they see it in a verse that is dating from 730 BCE like this text then they will not accept that. They will see it as a later fabrication after the origin of Zoroastrianism. Let no one say they established their concepts objectively on facts because in the final the case is: "two men sat behind bars, the one saw mud the other one stars" (courtousy to my teacher from Helderberg College, Somerset West South Africa: Ian Hartley).

Hosea is given a Messianic window in verse 2 "From two days He will revive us and on the third day He will make us stand up and we shall live before Him."

In a nutshell, one can say that here is a concept of restoration of humanity to God in the atonement. The plan of salvation had in mind to safe everyone (willing of course in their individual lives) in the substitutionary death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus died on Friday afternoon and they took Him off the cross before the Sabbath. He rested in the grave on Sabbath and on Sunday (the night section that in Jewish thinking is preceding the day section). He died Friday and entered the tomb before Sabbath, He was in the grave Sabbath and on Sunday morning He arose. This is thus inclusive three days that were covered. In His death everyone dies, in His staying in the grave, everyone stays and in His standing up everyone stood up. Potentially everyone is thus saved. Historically it is up to the individual choice to remain in that salvation or be cast out. In New Testament theology we live in His death, which could mean that His death revive us who are dead through sin. His resurrection makes resurrection available to us from that Sunday morning and to all believers in history. Sunday morning was the third day. Although many scholars are trying to connect any hint in the Old Testament to the influence of Zoroastrianism of the late Medio-Persian period, we do not follow that approach. Much to the dismay of Andre Lacocque, Daniel et son temps. Recherches Sur le mouvement apocalyptique juif au IIe siecle avant Jesus-Christ (Geneve, Labor et Fides, 1983), 236, the scholar Dahood found 40 places of resurrection in the Psalms. He said about Dahood: "Dahood's radical position has given rise to much vigorous protest." For Dahood's concepts see his Psalms Part I, xxxvi. In 1895 H. Gunkel wrote that nowhere in the Old Testament is there a faith in resurrection (H. Gunkel, Schöpfung und Chaos [Göttingen, 1895], 291, note 2). Lacocque commented "Thus, this faith is a quite difficult enigma for the OT scholar" (ibid.) He said that "Daniel's recourse to the idea of a partial resurrection at the end of time creates as many, if not more, difficulties as it resolves." This is his comment on Daniel 12:1. It is clearly that Jeremiah was an inspiration to Daniel here since many concepts are couched in similar vocabulary (correctly observed by Lacocque, 234). Lacocque does not want to accept a resurrection in Hosea 6:1 but he sees it as a national restoration (ibid., 237). It may be argued that the flow of information from verse 1 to verse 2 suggests that it is like a wounded soldier that is lying down only to stand up later and then live as a healed person. On the contrary, the messianic overtones in the verse are very strong so that it is legitimate to follow that line of thinking.

There is another interpretation that one should look at. As it was sometimes done, one day in prophecy was taken to mean one year (see John Carion's Chronicle [1532] in Katherine R. Firth, The Apocalyptic Tradition in Reformation Brittain 1530-1645 [Oxford University Press, 1979], 20). It reads: "Certain conventions were on the whole obeyed in the interpretation of these numbers, the most common of which was that one prophetic day could, depending on the context equal a year or a thousand years. These conventions were based on arguments from other parts of Scripture and obeyed own internal logic that could not be disregarded; any expositor who wished to be taken seriously had to support his arithmetical juggling with either quotations from Scripture or precedents from authority." What this essentially means is that for two years they would suffer and then be revived again and in the third year they will stand up. Although this is a possibility, we cancel this since the messianic connection is too strong.

Calvin in his commentary did not like this messianic attachment to the verse. He said that "this sense seems to me rather too refined". He said that "subtle speculations please at first sight but afterwards vanish". Calvin interpreted Hosea as to mean that there will be a possible delay and that the people should be patient and not be dishearted. Calvin also interpreted the year-day principle for he said: "He says, 'After a time,' that is, after a year" (refering of course to Daniel 7:25 in this verse). Further on Calvin came back to the messianic interpretation but then qualify that the point is that the delay should not make anyone weary.

In verse 3 the prophetic announcement of the Messiah is not packed away yet: "And we shall know we follow to know the Lord. His going forth is established as the daybreak, and He shall come as the rain to us, like the latter rain that wets the earth."

The succesful Messiah also will provide the Latter Rain of the Holy Spirit to the remnant.

The broad picture about God here is clear in the Bible. The coming of the Messiah was at a fixed point in time if one analyses the times described in Daniel 9:24-27. That date was established. He has a date for His second coming too and that is established as well. No-one knows the hour/day but He knows the hour/day. Do angels know the year? "His going forth is established". When John the Baptist announced the coming of Christ at Jesus' baptism in 27 CE that was established in prophecy (see Daniel 7:24-27). He will come like the rain since the early rain fell at Pentecost with the outpouring of the spirit and Peter drew the analogy through to the book of Joel with the description of the early and latter rain. The early rain wets only Palestine, the latter rain is said to wet the earth. There is thus a global outpouring of the Spirit in future. It seems as almost simultaneously with the coming of Jesus the second time, there will be again an outpouring of the Spirit, this time globally and this time like the latter rain.

Calvin, for some reason, was very careful not to apply this passage to Christ and His times. Whenever such an interpretation was evident in a verse he would use the words: "but this is too refined an exposition, and it is enough for us to keep close to the design of the Prophet." It is in this approach of Calvin that we differ with him. It is true that one should keep close as possible to the text as to what it meant to the people first preached to, but when there are future tenses in the speech that points to clearly identifyable events in the history of the Bible later, then there is no need to think that it is too "refined" a thinking. Peter was not "refined" in his application of the reception of the Holy Spirit on Pentacost when he found legitimization for it in the book of Joel. Will we then ignore the application and consider our comments as too refined if we also interpret Joel that way? I do not think so. At any rate Calvin was not consistent in this rule of his as we have indicated above in Hosea 6:2. Calvin indicated that the word mlqws was understood to mean the "latter rain" that ripened the corn.

In verse 4, Hosea depicted God in agony about His remnant: their goodness is shortlived. "What shall I do with you Ephraim, what shall I do with you Judah for your goodness is like the cloud of morning and as dew that is early, that disappears."

Back in Hosea's day God is then again speaking. Hosea has recounted the eschatological events of the plan of salvation and the second coming and this must have had the effect of them responding positively. God went to His place and said that they will seek Him. They probably did as we can see from this verse and His reaction is one of thinking. There was thus a period of "licking wounds" but God is concerned that they are not genuine in there approach. This last part is also the understanding of Calvin in his commentary of this verse "they had ... only the appearance of goodness".

Calvin in this verse express his understanding that the prophet address his message to the whole body of Israel "but at the same time, as there was some remnant seed, they mingled, as I have said, recumb on his mercy, and thus patiently submit to his rod and continue in his fear." It is interesting that although Calvin does his best in trying to find the historical connection to the event in Hosea's day he nevertheless ended up very vague.

Many prophets were false and God has cut with them any relationship in verse 5: "Therefore I have cut with prophets, I have slain them with words of my mouth. And my judgment goes out like light."

In my translation we have done the same as the NIV and that is to read the kaph at the end of judgments wmsptyk not as a pronominal suffix added to the noun but as a preposition that is supposed to be connected to the next word or noun "light" or )wr. This procedure is legitimate since the original was written with all consonants connected. Word dividers was by way of dots and when these dots are not clear, copyists made mistakes. In this way we do not change the text but only the division of the word, which is a late construct. In fact this is the way it is read by the Septuagint and also the Syriac and Targum. This Masoretic divider of the word is then not accepted. Jerome did something strange here. He read a double kaph in his reading at least in his translation: et iudicia tua quasi ux egredientur = "and your judgments go out like light". He read the text as follows in the Hebrew: wmsptyk k)wr yz). Compare our suggestion of wmspty k)wr yz) with the current Masoretic reading of wmsptyk )wr yz). However, one must point out again that the Latin manuscripts also displays at times variants for the Vulgate of Jerome, so that it is not always possible on first glance (without the critical edition) to ascertain whether Jerome in fact read it that way. Nearly all the manuscripts that we have of the Vulgate dates between the six and the fifteenth centuries CE. This is nearly two hundred years after he wrote the text. The big issue is when there are many different readings: how do you decide which variant is the correct one and which one is a later fabrication? The oldest manuscript is not always the correct one and to use the norm of the majority reading can be also misleading since the similarities can be due to cross-mutation. No matter how objective the scientist runs down the corridors of time with these manuscripts, he/she ends in the sixth century and must make a subjective, opinionated "leap of faith" over the "abyss of absent-data" to the non-existent "original text". This is the same in textual criticism of the Syriac text, Coptic text, and Septuagint. At one point everyone "jumps" since there is no data but suggestions, no facts but plausibility.

With the words of the prophets the Lord have "cut" them and admonished them. His judgment went out like light. This is not the lightflash that people remembered at Hiroshima or the CNN version of the missile deployment during the US-Iraqi war in 1993. Judgment went out like light is also not the thunder of the agricultural year in Palestine. Like a light brings vision in the darkness, so was his judgment by the prophets a map for them. God does not cut with military action, He cuts with the prophets' preaching. He uses their words to slain them.

Calvin kept to the Masoretic text rendering and translated: "thy judgments are light that goes forth".

Were the prophets unkind without knowledge of God just fulfilling their bare minimum requirements for worship not to be suspected by any human? (verse 6): "For kindness I desired and not sacrifice, and a knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings."

It is possible to be so liturgically wrapped up that one does not see the need to share kindness. There are times that religion are in need of funds and those funds are coming in from the worshippers. Then there are times of economic pressure when some worshippers are struggling to give and some are even in need of some food or clothing. For the priests to be anxiously collecting without a sense of kindness, is not what God had in mind. The priests always had something to eat since these sacrifices were eaten after the meat was fried. In Leviticus 22:10ff. it is explained that only priests are to eat these offerings. The temple area had the potential to be a real steak-house. In such a situation you had overweight priests who are drowsy after eating too much and thus do not pay attention to their own appearance or to those around them. Good food available always was a kind of security that robbed them of their kindness. They had a good knowledge of burnt offerings. They could easily assess what was acceptable for the temple and what not but God complains here that they do not have a knowledge of God. They are busy for God without God. This is a danger in modern society too that we can be so occupied and knowledgeable how to carry out business for God that we do not know Him whom we are working for. A knowledge of God is not just a superficial romanticism of Him. It is more than that. It is an understanding of the plan of salvation. It is even more than that. It is an understanding of the Urzeit and Endzeit, the beginning of everything and the end of everything. It is an understanding of the rebellion in heaven, Creation, history, plan of salvation, the coming of the Messiah, the purpose of humanity on earth, the eschaton, restoration of everlasting happiness. The knowledge is not just some sophistication left for the informed to joke about but it is words enacted. The word moves the person to action of some kind, internal and mostly external. The actions are leading the person back to the word again for another set of actions again. The brain is happy but humble. It is in conversation to God always. When this happens, God cannot sit still on His throne. He exitingly gets out of His throne to watch the human drama. And just the thought of that makes the brain smile with happiness. This is the secret power that can move mountains.

Calvin commented on this verse that Jesus quoted this verse twice in his dealings with the religious classes of His day. First in Matthew 9 and secondly in Matthew 12. Calvin said that "hypocrites suppose that God is rightly worshipped when they use many ceremonies." Calvin showed that "sacrifices never pleased God thrugh their own or intrinsic value, as if they have any worth in them". Calvin's comments is worth to quote at lenghth here: "My design was, when I appointed the sacrifices and the whole legal worship, to lead you so to myself, that there might be nothing carnal or earthly in your sacrificing; but ye have corrupted the whole law; you have been perverse interpreters; for sacrifices have been nothing else among you but mockery as if it were a satisfaction to me to have an ox or a ram killed. You have then transgressed my covenant; and it is nothing that the people say to me, that they have diligently performed the outward ceremonies, for such a worship is not in the least valued by me."

They were like Adam and broke the covenant with God (verse 7). It does not say Augustinian peccatum originale or original sin is the reason they are all unfaithful to God. It says: "And they, like Adam have broken the covenant. There they were unfaithful to me."

God compares them to Adam. They have broken the covenant as Adam did in the garden of Eden. The Fall of Man in paradise is described in the first chapters of Genesis. It was the subject of discussion by many great interpreters through the centuries:

Augustine (fifth century), Hugo Grotius (1602), Salianus (1619), Josef Vondel (1664), John Milton, Ellen White (1890) and many others (see the descriptions of it in W.A.P. Smit, Van Pascha tot Noah. Part III [Zwolle, N.V. Uitgevers-maatschappij, W.E.J. Tjeenk Wellink, 1962]). The sin of Adam was one deed but many sins: pride, unfaithful to God's word, disobedience, love for his wife, selfjustification, corruption of posterity, curiosity. There is a 8-9th century manuscript that is called the Caedmonian Genesis (op.cit. Watson Kirkcornell, The Celestial Cycle, 31-32) that explains that Satan first tried to tempt Adam but Genesis, Vondel and White are quiet about this. Grotius mentioned this in 1601 in his Sacra in quibus Adamus exul tragoedia alliorumque eiusdem generis carminem cumulus consecrata Franciae prinipi (Gravenhage, 1601). As punishment they were sent out of the Garden and a flaming sword was put at the eastern end of it Genesis 3:21. Hugo Grotius interpreted the flaming sword as a paradise fire (see lines 2000-2019 and 2015-2016 of his work). Josef Vondel and Ellen White (Patriarchs and Prophets 59) do not mention anything about a paradise fire. Augustine said that Adam fell due to his solomonic love for his wife. That was also the view of Jacobus Sallianus in his Annales Ecclesiastici Veteris Testamenti etc. Tamus primum (Paris, 1619), 144, 150. Ellen White said in the Victorian Age that "Love, thankfulness, faithfulness to the creator - were all overtaken by a love for Eve" (Patriarchs and Prophets, 56). At any rate a full understanding of the fall in paradise must be preceded by a full understanding of the rebellion and fall from heaven by Lucifer. This motif received attention in The Book of the Secrets of Enoch XXV 4-5. It is nearly the same concepts that one finds in Isaiah 14:12-14. The rebellion in heaven motif also interested Origen in De principius I.v.5 and Homilae in Numeros XII.4. Jerome was interested in it in Commentariorum in Ezechielen Liber IX, 28. Ambrose had an interest in it in Psalmun David CXVIII Expositio VII.7. There is the Vita Adae et Evae xii-xvii edited by Z.S.A. Wells in Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha by Charles. It can be found in Augustine's De Civitate Dei XV, chapter 23 (II 172-7). The Rabbinic ideas can be found in Louis Ginzberg, The Legends of the Jews. Translated by Henrietta Szold (Philadelphia, 1909-1938), Volume I, 62-64. There is Siegmund Feyerabend in Theatrum diabolum (Frankfurt, 1569) fols. 26ff.; Heinrich Heppe, Reformed Dogmatics, set out and illustrated from the sources, ed. Ernst Bizer, translated by G.T. Thomson (1950), 216ff.; Thomas Heywood, The Hierarchy of the Blessed Angells (1635), 341. For the Renaissance scholars see E. Catherine Dumme, The Concept of Ingratitude in Renaissance English Moral Philosophy (Washington, DC: 1946). There is of course John Milton, Josef Vondel's Lucifer of 1654. Yet, despite all these men's occupation with those Old Testament strata dealing with this issue, it is interesting to see in commentaries and papers how this very theme is browsed over as non-existent and not important. Without this issue in heaven, the plan of salvation makes no sense. Evil and its origin is what prompt the plan of salvation. That does not make evil good. Evil is not just an experiment by God. It is not willed by God. It is permitted in the sense that a space is given for it to exist since no-one is for God just a computer which does everything in strict patterns. Even evil is given the freedom to exist. However, when the drama is fully unfold to all parties involved then there is the wrapping up of the situations in the eschaton and punishment alloted in the proper place.

Calvin did not like the interpretation of Adam here. He did not fully qualify why he does not accept this rendering. He suggested the interpretation to be "they showed themselves to be men in violating the covenant." The translation in the Septuagint is also "man" for that is the meaning of Adam. Jerome of course translated it as "Adam".

The KJV followed Calvin in translating "men". The Darby, RSV, YLT, NASB and NIV (the last two left both possibilities open) are all translating it as "Adam". The majority reading does not make it necessarily right, but it follows from the context that Adam could have been in mind here. There is thus a comparison here of the sin-episode with Adam and the sin-episode with the people in the days of Hosea.

God says that Gilead is a district that is doing wickedness and is slippery from blood (verse 8).

This area was captured by Tiglath-Pilezer in 743 BCE (II Kings 15:29). The people were deported to Assyria. It is maybe in this area that havoc came after 743 BCE. Many foreign strange elements came in the area and this area became a place for killings.

Calvin interpreted this city of Gilead as one of the cities of refuge where someone could have fled and found safety under the wing of the Levites. He said that this city was occupied by Levites and priests. He translated the last part as "possessed by blood". In this way he has neglected the simple meaning of the mem-preposition = "from" in his translation.

Even the priests worked together as gangsters to motivate these robbers to overpower the tourists and take their possessions: "And as bandits ambush a man, company of priests. They kill the way to Shechem. For shameful they have done" (verse 9).

Just as bandits kill a man so the priests also would stop a person and interrogate him. The road to Shechem became very dangerous. This action is shameful. We know that in 731 BCE many women and children were deported to Shechem. Since the men will go on that road to see their wives, this would be the right spot for the priest to corner the men on the road for tokens for their cults and themselves. It was part of their fundraising schemes in those days.

Calvin did not translate "Shechem" as the name of the city but he has translated it as "with consent". This interpretation of his is strained since he took the phrase shechem echad in Zephaniah 3 as meaning "with one consent" and are now carrying that meaning into this verse in Hosea, not realizing that it is here the city name. He even added: "For they who think that the name of a place is intended are much mistaken". Calvin forgot that Shechem featured prominently in the history of Judah in this time as the Chronicles of Israel and Judah is indicating. Jerome also translated the same as in our translation, namely, Sychem. The Septuagint also translated it as a city name.

The KJV followed the interpretation of Calvin very strictly and translated "by consent". The Darby, RSV, YLT, NASB and NIV translated it as a city name.

God said that He saw very bad things with the remnant in Israel fornicating unto Ephraim (verse 10).

In the previous chapter the problem was Ephraim which tempted Judah and now the problem is that Israel is making relations with Ephraim and one can assume especially the issue of spiritual fornicating with other gods at the cultic centers in Ephraim. Because of this Israel is unclean. An unclean person stands in need of ritual cleansing or atonement. (See the article by Koot van Wyk, "Kuntillet 'Ajrud: A Case for Critical Revision" in International Journal of Research in Social Sciences and Humanities Vol. 7, Issue No. IV, Oct-Dec 2017: 62-99 for the situation in the days of Jeremiah but which was a continuation all the way since Solomon.)

In verse 11 Hosea said that God indicated that a harvest is appointed unto them: "Also Judah, appointed is a harvest to thee, in My turning back the captivity of my people". The wayward at the end of Time during the time of the Church of Laodicea will also have a Latter Rain experience and a large harvest of people returning and coming to the Lord before the Second Coming.

A harvest here do not refer to some agricultural benefit but rather that there will be a return of the captives back from Shechem to Judah some time after 731 BCE.

Calvin translated this verse as: "Judah also has set a plantation for thee." He contends that the verb is in the third person. He rejected other translations which wants to make it a second person: "Also Judah, you have set for yourself an harvest".

This is the way the Septuagint is reading it. It reads it as a perfect middle second person singular. We are translating it as a passive voice and not as an active. Jerome translated it as "sed et Iuda pone messem tibi cum" which is very near to my own rendering.

The KJV followed Calvin here strictly in translating the active voice third person singular. The passive voice is translated by the Darby, RSV, YLT, and NIV.


Dear God

Thank you for Your final Harvest at the Latter Rain that may give many of our wayward relatives an opportunity to return to You before You come to take us home. We pray in Jesus Name, Amen.