Hosea 12 - Outline of Hosea (Menu page)
C. The LORD's case against Israel concluded (11:12-14:9)
1. A concluding indictment (11:12-13:16)
  1. Israel's self-confidence is self-deception: In Jacob's weakness, the LORD was strong (11:12-12:14)
[This section includes the last verse of chapter 11, which is copied here, for convenience.]
11:12 Ephraim compasseth me about with lies, and the house of Israel with deceit:
but Judah yet ruleth with God, and is faithful with the saints.
12:1. Ephraim feedeth on wind, and followeth after the east wind:
he daily increaseth lies and desolation;
and they do make a covenant with the Assyrians, and oil is carried into Egypt.
2 The LORD hath also a controversy with Judah,
and will punish Jacob according to his ways; according to his doings will he recompense him.
Ephraim compasseth me about with lies {hypocrisy}... deceit {treachery}... lies {falsehood} and desolation {violence}...-
Four different words are used to describe their relationship toward the LORD, toward their countrymen, and also toward the surrounding nations. Hos 7:16; Psa 78:36; Isa 29:13; 59:3-4
Ephraim feedeth on wind (Hos 8:7-9)... they do make a covenant with... Assyrians... Egypt...-
They trusted in their alliances with other nations. But their covenants were futile, because their own lies invalidated them. Having made a treaty with one nation, they undermined it by seeking alliance with another. (2Kin 15:19; 17:4-6; Isa 30:6,7)
but Judah yet ruleth with God...-
In comparison to the northern kingdom, Judah was still relatively faithful to God. But the same hypocrisy which infected Israel was on the increase in Judah. Therefore, Hosea says: "the LORD hath also a controversy with Judah." That is, He was already pleading His case against them, as He was doing with Israel (Hos 4:1). They were also deceiving themselves by placing confidence in their own strength and in alliances with other nations and their gods.
He will punish Jacob... according to his ways... will He recompense him.-
The twelve tribes, which comprised Israel and Judah, were all descended from Jacob. Both Israel and Judah would reap a bitter harvest, according to that which they were sowing. Hos 10:11-14
     It did not have to be this way. The ways of the sons of Jacob, who were head strong to follow their own devices, were very different from the ways of their father, Jacob, who in weakness was made strong. (cf. 2Cor 12:9,10)
3 He took his brother by the heel in the womb,
and by his strength he had power with God:
4 Yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed:
he wept, and made supplication unto him:
he found him [in] Bethel, and there he spake with us;
5 Even the LORD God of hosts; the LORD [is] his memorial.
6 Therefore turn thou to thy God:
keep mercy and judgment, and wait on thy God continually.
He {ie., Jacob}...-
  • ...in the weakness of an infant in the womb, won a birthright (in accord with God's purpose). Gen 25:21-26,31; Rom 9:10-13
  • ...in his strength {ie., when he had reached manhood} through the weakness of prevailing prayer, obtained a covenant relationship with the One who had revealed Himself at Bethel (Gen 32:24-28).
         It is important to see that Jacob prevailed and had strength with God because "he wept, and made supplication to Him." In v.3,4, the two words translated 'power' are rooted in the HB word 'sar,' meaning 'prince.' This power was not innate within him. Rather, it was given to him, by the One who gave him a new name: Israel {'a prince with God'}, because he prevailed {HB=yakol, 'overcame'} in prayer. Jacob knowing his own weakness, believed, with all his being, that the One to whom he clung in prayer, could deliver him out of his troubles. He overcame, not in his own strength, but through trusting the One who has all power. (cf. 1Joh 5:4,5; Rev 3:21; 12:11).
Who is this One, who was the strength of Jacob?
Even the LORD God of hosts... Therefore turn thou to thy God...-
God identifies Himself with His 'memorial name' (Ex 3:14,15), as the God of the covenant made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It was He, the everliving God of Israel and His everlasting covenant with their fathers, that they had disregarded. Yet, again, He invites them to turn from themselves, like Jacob, to find their strength in Him.
7. [He is] a merchant, the balances of deceit [are] in his hand: he loveth to oppress.
8 And Ephraim said, Yet I am become rich, I have found me out substance:
[in] all my labours they shall find none iniquity in me that [were] sin.
But, rather than turning to the LORD, the nation was self-confident in their self-sufficiency. They thought their own labors and their cunning business sense had made them rich. Though their business dealings were characterized by deceit and extortion {HB='ashaq, oppress, extort, violate}, they could not see their own corruption, and considered their prosperity as evidence of God's blessing.
9 And I [that am] the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt will yet make thee to dwell in tabernacles,
as in the days of the solemn feast.
10 I have also spoken by the prophets,
and I have multiplied visions, and used similitudes, by the ministry of the prophets.
11 [Is there] iniquity [in] Gilead?
surely they are vanity: they sacrifice bullocks in Gilgal;
yea, their altars [are] as heaps in the furrows of the fields.
...I... the LORD thy God... will yet make thee to dwell in tabernacles...-
They were willfully ignorant that the LORD had brought them out of Egypt and established them in the land... and that He would also dis-establish them, and make them to dwell again in tents (temporary shelters, as opposed to permanent dwellings), not only at the annual feast of Tabernacles, but year round.
I have... spoken... I have multiplied visions...-
They were deaf and blind to the message of God's Word, delivered by His prophets.
Yet, they were exceedingly religious, bringing their vain sacrifices to empty idols and multiplying their altars everywhere.
  • Is there iniquity {HB='aven, trouble, wickedness, idolatry} in Gilead? - The name 'Gilead' is applied to the region to the east of Jordan, where two and a half tribes settled at the end of the Exodus from Egypt. This region was part of the northern kingdom. The name may come from the Hebrew word 'Gal-ed,' meaning 'a heap of witness' (Gen 31:46-49). There were other similar heaps of witness raised in this area, after the conquest of the land, to affirm the covenant relationship of Israel with the LORD (eg., Josh 22:34; 24:19-27). But the nation had forgotten.
In contrast to their vain self-confidence, Jacob, in his weakness, was made strong by clinging to the LORD...
12 And Jacob fled into the country of Syria,
and Israel served for a wife, and for a wife he kept [sheep].
13 And by a prophet the LORD brought Israel out of Egypt,
and by a prophet was he preserved.
...Jacob... served for a wife... for a wife he kept sheep...-
In the lowly position of a servant, a mere shepherd (in contrast to those who were cunning businessmen), Jacob humbled himself under the deceitful hand of his uncle Laban, to receive a wife. The LORD, in His strength, brought him out of Syria back to the land.
...by a prophet the LORD brought Israel out of Egypt...-
As God had dealt with Jacob, the man, so he had dealt with the nation which was descended from him. When they humbled themselves to obey God's Word through the prophet (Moses), the LORD preserved them and brought them out of Egypt into the land of promise.
But the nation, to which Hosea spoke, had not humbled themselves to submit to God's Word.
14 Ephraim provoked [him] to anger most bitterly:
therefore shall he leave his blood upon him,
and his reproach shall his Lord return unto him.
Israel had provoked the LORD to anger when they turned to false gods (Deu 4:25,26). But the nation had added "bitternesses" {the word is plural} by their eager pursuit of idols and their obstinate refusal to heed His Word (2Kin 17:7-18).
Therefore, in contrast to Jacob and the nation that followed Moses, Ephraim would not be delivered...

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