Hosea 4:13-19

Hosea 4:13 (KJB)

They sacrifice upon the tops of the mountains, and burn incense upon the hills, under oaks and poplars and elms, because the shadow thereof is good: therefore your daughters shall commit whoredom, and your spouses shall commit adultery.


Instead of sacrificing in the temple according to the law of Moses, they made for themselves groves in the high mountains after the form of the pagans.  Isaiah 57:7 (KJV) Upon a lofty and high mountain hast thou set thy bed: even thither wentest thou up to offer sacrifice.  They would offer the sacrifice of incense upon the hills which was another pagan sacrifice method.  They would choose the finest places on the mountains where they could sacrifice under the oaks and other thick trees.  Ezekiel 20:28 (KJV) For when I had brought them into the land, for the which I lifted up mine hand to give it to them, then they saw every high hill, and all the thick trees, and they offered there their sacrifices, and there they presented the provocation of their offering: there also they made their sweet savour, and poured out there their drink offerings.  They did this to remain cool and not bear the heat of the day as they sacrificed.  Since they had decided to offer pagan sacrifices to false gods, they would now pay a penalty.  Just as they had played the harlot with God, their daughters will become harlots and their wives will commit adultery which are two things which will show the spiritual condition of Israel at this time.  Just as Gomer played the harlot from Hosea, their wives will suffer the same thing thus bringing shame upon all their families.


Hosea 4:14 (KJB)

I will not punish your daughters when they commit whoredom, nor your spouses when they commit adultery: for themselves are separated with whores, and they sacrifice with harlots: therefore the people that doth not understand shall fall.


Then God is stating that he will not punish the daughters or the wives for committing acts of whoredom.  This does not mean that God endorsed this lifestyle but since they refused to obey the Law of God, they would now be given a visual lesson as to what they had become in the sight of God.  As their wives and daughters became whores and adulterers, that is what Israel had become before God.  Then God points out that the men and husbands themselves had taken up with whores and they had also partaken in the pagan feasts which is represented by the fact of the sacrifices with harlots.  Those who do not see the picture that God is giving them will fall, that is, they will die in their sins and be judged for their actions.  Before that happens, they will be taken into captivity by pagan nations and scattered especially the northern ten tribes.


Hosea 4:15 (KJB)

Though thou, Israel, play the harlot, yet let not Judah offend; and come not ye unto Gilgal, neither go ye up to Beth-aven, nor swear, The LORD liveth.


What God had stated was the actions of the ten northern tribes and he was speaking to Judah that they would not follow in the ways of the ten northern tribes.  In Judah was the temple which was saved from the idolatry of the northern ten tribes.  Gilgal was the place where the twelve stones of remembrance were placed in the Jordan and where circumcision was restored and the Passover kept.  Later in time, Gilgal was chosen by Jeroboam for a place to continue their idolatry and here God is telling Judah not to go up to Gilgal and learn from their idolatry.   Beth-aven which is Bethel was the place where Jacob had the visions of angels and of God but Jeroboam had made it a place where they worshipped a calf and as a result the name was changed to Beth-avert which means house of iniquity or vanity.  Then it speaks of those who would swear by the Lord God as one who would have one believe that they had worshipped the LORD alone but they had done it in name only as they claimed the living God for themselves and yet went to Gilgal and Beth-aven.  Zephaniah 1:5 (KJV) And them that worship the host of heaven upon the housetops; and them that worship and that swear by the LORD, and that swear by Malcham;  In other words, they were playing both sides of the spectrum, on one hand they would pretend to be of the LORD and the other they were committing spiritual harlotry with their friends.


Hosea 4:16 (KJB)

For Israel slideth back as a backsliding heifer: now the LORD will feed them as a lamb in a large place.


The term “backsliding” is found twelve times in the Bible but it is only found in two books, Jeremiah and Hosea.  It is a term which is applied to Israel as a country and is never attached to the true believer.  To backslide as Israel did, was to go from the true worship of the LORD backwards to the worship of false gods and idols.  The backsliding heifer will not be brought under the yoke of spiritual leadership by the LORD.  It goes beyond all bounds and refuses to do any service.  Then the LORD speaks about feeding them as a lamb in a large place.  This is referring to the fact that they will go into captivity and will be subject to a pagan country ruling over them.  Instead of them being like an untamed heifer, they will become like timid little sheep who will finally turn back to the LORD but the ten tribes will not be restored to the land as Judah would be after their captivity.


Hosea 4:17 (KJB)

Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone.


Ephraim was a part of the ten tribes.  Ephraim was one of the two sons of Joseph.  They had taken upon themselves a serious commitment to idolatry.  The word “joined” carries with it the meaning of “an alliance or joined together.”  They had made an alliance with the idols of the land.  Here God is basically saying that to leave them alone, which is the words of an abandonment.  Since they wanted the idols, they were now on their own and this was a lesson to Judah that they were not to become like them and were to be abandoned as long as they continued to be idolatrous.


Hosea 4:18 (KJB)

Their drink is sour: they have committed whoredom continually: her rulers with shame do love, Give ye.


The word “sour” carries with it the idea of “turning aside.”  They were turning after idols so much as one drinks water or wine.  Instead of the sweet wine of the grapes of Israel, the drink they had turned sour with the idolatry and they drank iniquity like water.  They had continually committed whoredom from their pagan feasts to their pagan worship, their entire day was filled with idolatry and the turning away from God.   The rulers who should have been the protectors of the people have accepted idolatry as a way of life.  They were corrupt themselves and probably took bribes and went with whores thus adulterating their marriages.  As goes the leadership, so goes the people.  The rulers did not see shame as a thing to be despised but to be embraced as they continued to crave more and more idolatry along with the pagan benefits.  This is what happens when you walk in darkness, you do not see the evil ways that you are steeped in.


Hosea 4:19 (KJB)

The wind hath bound her up in her wings, and they shall be ashamed because of their sacrifices.


The wind binding her up in her wings speaks to the fact that as swift as the wind comes the judgment of God will come just as fast when the northern ten tribes will be taken into captivity in 721 B.C.  They had sacrificed in idolatry to the calves, the moon, the sun, the stars and every way which was opposed to the sacrifice to the real God.  Once they are taken into captivity, they will realize what they have done and how they turned aside from the true God and will become ashamed for their actions and for the idolatries they partook in which was against the Law of God.  Psalm 97:7 (KJV) Confounded be all they that serve graven images, that boast themselves of idols: worship him, all ye gods.  They will eventually come to their senses but it will be too late since the northern kingdom would not be restored to the land anymore.