Hosea 8

God Will Raise Up the Assyrians to Attack Israel

Sound the alarm!
Heb “A horn unto your gums!”; NAB “A trumpet to your lips!”

An eagle
Or perhaps “A vulture.” Some identify the species indicated by the Hebrew term נֶשֶׁר (nesher) as the griffon vulture (cf. NEB, NRSV).
looms over the temple of the Lord!
For they have broken their covenant with me,
Heb “my covenant” (so NAB, NIV, NRSV); TEV “the covenant I made with them.”

and have rebelled against my law.
Israel cries out to me,
“My God, we acknowledge you!”
But Israel has rejected what is morally good;
so an enemy will pursue him.

The Political and Cultic Sin of Israel

They enthroned kings without my consent!
Heb “but without me”; NCV “without asking my permission”; CEV “without consulting me.”

They appointed princes without my approval!
Heb “but I did not know”; NRSV “but without my knowledge.”

They made idols out of their silver and gold,
but they will be destroyed!
Heb “in order to be cut off.” The text gives the impression that they made the idols for this purpose, but the language is ironic and sarcastic, bringing out the futility of their efforts. One could paraphrase, “they made idols…but only so that they might be destroyed.” Though they had other plans for the idols, God’s judgment would bring their intentions to naught.

O Samaria, he has rejected your calf idol!
My anger burns against them!
They will not survive much longer without being punished,
Heb “How long will they be able to be free from punishment?” This rhetorical question affirms that Israel will not survive much longer until God punishes it.

even though they are Israelites!
That idol was made by a workman – it is not God!
The calf idol of Samaria will be broken to bits.

The Fertility Cultists Will Become Infertile

They sow the wind,
and so they will reap the whirlwind!
The stalk does not have any standing grain;
it will not produce any flour.
Even if it were to yield grain,
foreigners would swallow it all up.
Israel will be swallowed up among the nations;
they will be like a worthless piece of pottery.

The Willful Donkey and the Wanton Harlot

They have gone up to Assyria,
like a wild donkey that wanders off.
Ephraim has hired prostitutes as lovers.
Or “has hired herself out to lovers”; cf. NIV “has sold herself to lovers.”

10  Even though they have hired lovers among the nations,
Or “they have hired themselves out to lovers”; cf. NASB “they hire allies among the nations.”

I will soon gather them together for judgment.
The Piel stem of קָבַץ (qavats) is often used in a positive sense, meaning “to regather” a dispersed people (HALOT 1063 s.v. קבץ 3.a; BDB 868 s.v. קָבַץ 1.α). However, in Hosea 8:10 it is used in a negative sense, meaning “to assemble (people) for judgment” (e.g., Ezek 20:34; Hos 9:6; HALOT 1063 s.v. 3.e.i). Cf. JPS “I will hold them fast” (in judgment, see the parallel in 9:6).

The vav consecutive + preterite וַיָּחֵלּוּ (vayyakhellu, Hiphil preterite 3rd person common plural from חָלַל, khalal, “to begin”]) denotes temporal subordination to the preceding clause: “then…” (so NLT); cf. TEV, CEV “Soon.”
they will begin to waste away
under the oppression of a mighty king.
Heb “a king of princes” (cf. KJV, NASB); TEV “the emperor of Assyria.”

Sacrifices Ineffective without Moral Obedience

11  Although Ephraim has built many altars for sin offerings,
these have become altars for sinning!
12  I spelled out my law for him in great detail,
but they regard it as something totally unknown
Heb “foreign” or “alien”; NASB, NRSV “as a strange thing.”
to them!
13  They offer up sacrificial gifts to me,
and eat the meat,
but the Lord does not accept their sacrifices.
Heb “does not accept them”; the referent (their sacrifices) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

Soon he will remember their wrongdoing,
he will punish their sins,
and they will return to Egypt.
14  Israel has forgotten his Maker and built royal palaces,
and Judah has built many fortified cities.
But I will send fire on their cities;
it will consume their royal citadels.
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