Hosea 4

The Word Made Fresh

1Hear the LORD’s word, Israel.
The LORD has a complaint against the people of the land.
They are not faithful, nor are they loyal.        
They know nothing about the God of the land.
2There is much swearing, lying, murder, stealing, and adultery.
Bloodshed is rampant.
3The land grieves and all its inhabitants are becoming weak.
Even the wild animals and birds
and the fish of the sea are dying.
4Stop arguing with and accusing one another,
because my argument is with you and your priests.
5You will stumble in broad daylight
and your prophets will stumble with you at night,
and I will contend with your mother.
6My people are wasted because of their ignorance
and because you have rejected knowledge.
So, I reject you as my priests.
And since you have forgotten the law of your God
I will also forget your children.
7The more there were the more they sinned against me,
exchanging their glory for shame.
8They feed on my people’s sinfulness
and relish their iniquity.
9Therefore, it will go for the people as for the priests –
they will be punished for their sins and repaid for their doings.
10They shall eat, but not be satisfied.
They can behave as prostitutes, but not have children
because they have forsaken the LORD
and have devoted themselves to prostitution.

11Wine, especially new wine, takes away understanding.
12My people consult pieces of wood,
and appeal to divining sticks to give them oracles.
It is because they are being led by a spirit of betrayal
and, like prostitutes, have forsaken their God.
13They make sacrifices on the mountaintops
and bring offerings to the hills
and place them under oaks, and poplars, and terebinths
where there is good shade for them.
That is why your daughters become prostitutes.
That is why your daughters-in-law commit adultery.
14But I will not punish your daughters when they act like prostitutes
or your daughters-in-law when they commit adultery
because the men themselves hook up with prostitutes
and sacrifice with temple prostitutes.
And that is why a people with no understanding are ruined.

15But although you are prostituted, Israel,
do not allow Judah to become guilty of such a thing.
Don’t enter Gilgal or go up to Beth-Aven,
and do not make oaths, saying, “As the LORD lives.”
16Israel is like a stubborn heifer;
how can the LORD feed them like lambs in a large pasture?

17Ephraim clings to idols; leave him alone.
18After they drink they engage in sexual pleasures.
They love shameful ways
more than ways that would glorify them.
19The wind will encircle them
and their sacrifices will be their shame.


1-3: A renewed indictment against the kingdom of Israel, with a list of grievances from swearing (taking God’s name in vain?) to adultery. The sin of the people is nullifying the fruitfulness and the productivity of the land.

4-6: The priests and prophets are held responsible because they have not taught the people. “Your mother” in verse 5 is a reference to the kingdom of Israel; “your children” in verse 6 is a reference to the population that will be dispersed when the kingdom is conquered by Assyria.

7-10: The priests have become no better than the people and will be likewise punished.

11-14: The people, women and men alike, have “played the whore;” that is, they have worshiped idols and consulted mediums.

15-16: God implores them not to take their pagan excesses into the southern kingdom of Judah.

17-19: Sexual promiscuity is the overriding charge against them. I suppose that means either the pagan religions are fertility cults that use temple prostitutes, or their going after other gods is labeled adultery and unfaithfulness.


God will abide foolishness up to a point; and then we must bear the results. But God is always waiting on the sidelines like a coach watching us play the game of life.