Hosea 7

The Word Made Fresh

1When I heal Israel, Ephraim’s sins are revealed
as well as the wickedness of Samaria.
They cheat and lie and steal and raid as bandits.
2They don’t realize that I remember their wickedness.
They are surrounded by their deeds which they do to my face.
3Their sinful behavior gladdens the king,
and their unfaithfulness gladdens the officials.
4All of them commit adultery. They behave like fiery ovens,
whose baker has no need to stir the coals
from the time they knead the dough until it is leavened.
5On the day of the king’s festival the leaders became sick with wine,
and they were joined by those who engage in mockery.
6They are heated like an oven, their hearts burning inside them.
All night their anger grows, and flames erupt in the morning.
7They are all hot as an oven and they devour their rulers.
Their kings have fallen because none of them calls on me.
8Ephraim consorts with the nations –
they are like a flat cake left unturned.
9His strength is devoured by foreigners, but he is unaware of it.
His hair is sprinkled with gray, but he doesn’t notice it.
10Israel’s pride accuses him,
but he doesn’t seek after and return to the LORD his God.
11Ephraim has turned into a silly dove without any sense.
He calls upon Egypt, then goes to Assyria.
12But as they go I cast my net over them to capture them like birds.
I will discipline them according to the reports made about them.
13Woe are they because they left me!
They will suffer much harm because they turned against me.
I wish to redeem them, but they tell lies about me.
14They don’t call out to me about their heartfelt weeping on their beds.
They injure themselves for grain and wine, and rebel against me.
15I trained them and strengthened their arms,
but they only plan wickedness against me.
16They invest in things that bring no profit,
and like a broken bow they have become defective.
Their officials will fall to the sword because of their rage.
That will be the result of their insolence in the land of Egypt.


1-7: God continues making charges against Israel. Whenever God was ready to heed their pleas and heal them, their corrupt behavior would come forth. The primary charge is twofold: they worship pagan gods, the reference to them being “like the fiery ovens” is perhaps a description of the sexual frenzy the fertility cults engender; and they turn their backs on God — “none of them calls on me,” God complains.

8-10: Now Hosea takes up the attack. Ephraim (Israel, the northern kingdom, Hosea’s home) is guilty of intermarriage with foreigners. They are an unturned cake, baked on one side but not the other so that it is unpalatable. Their strength is fading like an old man’s (“his hair is sprinkled with gray”).

11-16: God speaks again, comparing Israel to a dove that flits hither and yon, a colorful metaphor for Israel seeking first an alliance with Egypt, then with Assyria. Again, we find a reference to their refusal to call on God and their refusal to end their affair with fertility cults (verse 14). God “trained them and strengthened their arms,” but they have turned away.


Over and over again, the Bible makes it clear that God stands ready to forgive us if we will turn from our wayward paths; but at some point God will say “enough is enough,” and leave us to suffer the results of our foolishness.