Study of Hosea - Chapter 9

Chapter 9

Chapter 9 of the Book of Hosea is announcing Israel's coming punishment for their sins. Some of the themes such as pride, spiritual prostitution, and idol worship from previous chapters are discussed again in this chapter and follow with additional themes related to recognizing our darkness and sin, adhering to correction, submitting in repentance, and honoring God with the gifts He gives us. This chapter also shows the results of choosing our own path and rejecting the Lord.


Do not rejoice, O Israel, with exultation as do the [pagan] peoples, for you have played the prostitute, turning away from your God. You have loved prostitutes’ earnings on every threshing floor [attributing the harvest to the Baals instead of to God]. 2 The threshing floor and the wine press will no longer feed them, and the new wine will fail them [because they failed to honor the God who provides]. 3 They will not remain in the land of the Lord, But Ephraim will return to [another] Egypt [in bondage] and they will eat [ceremonially] unclean food in Assyria. They will not pour out drink offerings of wine to the Lord; Their sacrifices will not please Him. Their bread will be like mourners’ bread [eaten at funerals]; All who eat it will be [ceremonially] unclean, for their bread will be for themselves; It will not enter the house of the Lord [to be consecrated]. 5 What will you do on the day of the appointed festival and on the day of the feast of the Lord [when you are in exile]? 6 For behold, they will go away because of devastation and destruction; Egypt will gather them up, Memphis will bury them. Weeds will take over their treasures of silver; Thorns will grow in their tents. 7 The days of punishment have come; The days of retribution are at hand; Let Israel know this! The prophet is [considered] a fool; The man [of God] who is inspired is [treated as if] demented, Because of the abundance of your wickedness and guilt, and because your deep antagonism [toward God and the prophets] is so great. 8 Ephraim was a watchman with my God, a [true] prophet [to warn the nation]; But the snare of a bird catcher was laid in all his paths. And there is only deep hostility in the house of his God (the land of Israel). 9 They have deeply corrupted (perverted) themselves as in the days of Gibeah. The Lord will remember their wickedness and guilt; He will punish their sins. 10 I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness [an unexpected and refreshing delight]; I saw your fathers (ancestors) as the first ripe fruit on the fig tree in its first season, but they came to Baal-Peor and consecrated themselves to shamefulness [the worship of Baal], And [because of their spiritual and physical adultery] they became as detestable and loathsome as the thing they loved. 11 As for Ephraim, their glory will fly away like a bird; No birth, no pregnancy, and [because of their impurity] no conception. 12 Even though they bring up their children, Yet I will bereave them until not one is left. Indeed, woe (judgment is coming) to them when I look away and withdraw [My blessing] from them! 13 Ephraim, as I have seen, is planted in a pleasant [and prosperous] meadow like Tyre; But Ephraim will bring out his children to the executioner [for slaughter]. 14 Give them [the punishment they deserve], O Lord! What will You give? Give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts. 15 All their wickedness [says the Lord] is focused in Gilgal; Indeed, I came to hate them there! Because of the wickedness of their [idolatrous] practices I will drive them out of My house (the land of Israel)! I will love them no longer; All their princes are rebels. 16 Ephraim is stricken, their root is dried up, they will bear no fruit. Even though they give birth, I will slay the precious children of their womb. 17 My God will reject them and cast them away because they did not listen to Him; And they will be wanderers (fugitives) among the nations.


Verse 1-4: The people of Israel had been rejoicing in their period of prosperity but the Lord tells them not to rejoice anymore. Because of their spiritual and physical prostitution their provisions and blessings will be taken from them. They will return to the captivity and be cut off from the Lord. They will no longer give offerings to the Lord and He will not accept any sacrifices they make to Him. Instead, they will eat unclean food, be unclean, and not be accepted into the house of the Lord.

Verse 5-8: The time of punishment for their sins has come. They will be led into captivity, devastation, and destruction. Weeds and thorns will grow over what little they will have left. Because of their sins and wickedness, they consider the prophet of the Lord a fool and crazy. The people laid out traps to harm the prophet due to their hostility against the prophesies he spoke against them.

Verse 9-10: The people of Israel have corrupted themselves again like they did in Gibeah so the Lord will not forget their sins and will punish them instead. Israel was like grapes found in the desert and their ancestors were like the first fruits of a harvest. However, when they arrived in Baal-Peor (Moab) they began worshipping the pagan god Baal. The Lord detested them because of this adultery against them.

Verse 11-17: Ephraim’s prominence would leave them (or taken away). They would no longer be blessed in their numbers and progeny due to their sins and wickedness. They were once prosperous (like Tyre) but they will now be barren. They will not bear or rear any more children and those that they have will be taken from them. The sins the people committed were worse in Gilgal so the Lord hates them and will drive them out of His house. Because they rejected Him, He will reject them and cast them away to be wanderers without a home. 

Interpretation and Explanation

This chapter of Hosea is a continuation of the Lord pronouncing His judgement against the people of Israel and of their impending destruction. The people prostituted themselves on every threshing floor. A threshing floor is a large flat surface that was used to break down grain to separate wheat from chaff. This is a symbolic description of how Israel sought provision from foreign nations and false Gods instead of attributing it to the Lord. The Lord continues to say that the threshing floors the people prostituted themselves on will no longer provide food for them and wine will no longer be produced. The grain produced on a threshing floor is used to make bread to feed the people. Wine, unlike water, was typically reserved for the wealthy and used in celebrations and religious ceremonies.  As such, is considered precious and a blessing. In these verses the Lord is metaphorically saying that both their provision/sustenance and their abundant blessings would be taken from them. To add insult to injury, this will come at the hands of the very nations they prostituted themselves to obtain it from (ouch!). As we’ve discussed in previous chapters in this study, spiritual prostitution is when in our attempts at self-reliance we turn away from the Lord and seek provision elsewhere. This is essentially rejecting the Lord under the premise that we don’t need Him. This is a foolish thought and behavior, but how often do we find ourselves committing this? How often do we choose to step outside of His will, make decisions, and do things to get what we want in our own way instead of trusting the Lord to provide? In today’s society we have become accustomed to instant gratification and no longer understand patience and proper timing. When we purchase something online, we can get free overnight shipping. Gone are the days of snail-mail. When we want something that we cannot afford, we use credit to over-leverage ourselves and take on too much debt. When we are unhappy with our spouses, we cheat or divorce instead of working on the marriage since there is always “another option”. Now, I’m not saying overnight shipping is a bad thing (I love Amazon Prime), nor am I saying taking on debt is bad or there are no justifiable reasons for divorce. However, issues arise when things in our live get difficult or just inconvenient or when we become impatient while waiting instead of seeking the Lord, His will, and trusting in Him to provide for us. When we follow our own way without consulting the Lord, we open ourselves up to situations and circumstances that the Lord did not intend for us.

Matthew 6:33 – “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you”

As a result of their rejection of the Lord, Israel was taken back into captivity by Egypt and Assyria. They would no longer have feasts and festivals. The little silver (resources) they have will be consumed by weeds – meaning it won’t grow or multiply. Thorns will grow in their tents – meaning the homes they will be living out of in their captivity will be painful instead of peaceful. Their sacrifices won’t please the Lord and they will not give Him any offerings. The bread they have will only be eaten by them. Because they got their bread [provision] as a result of their sins and prostitution it is unclean, so even if they tried to appease the Lord with their sacrifices to Him, He would not honor them. They also would not give offerings of wine to the Lord – because they would have no offerings to give. Sacrifices, such as tithes, are things we return to the Lord to honor Him. Offerings are a portion of the excess blessing and abundance the Lord provides above our basic provisions (bread) that we give to further honor Him. In these passages the Lord is saying that not only will he not accept their sacrifices (because it was obtained through sin), but He would also take away their blessing so they would not have anything in excess of what they need to survive and thus would have nothing to offer Him. When we go our own way that outside of His will, He doesn’t honor us or what we return and He hinders us from thriving.  This doesn’t mean that all difficult seasons we go through in life are a result of some sin we’ve committed. Sometimes we go through difficult seasons because the Lord is working something in us so that we may grow. However, in everything we do we should first consult Him so we can know if we are on the right path and If we are going through a difficult season, we should reflect and seek God to determine if it is the result of sin or if it’s because the Lord has something else in mind.

Proverbs 16:9 – “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps”

Psalm 111:10 - “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!”

Lamentations 3:4 – “Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the Lord!”

2 Peter 3:14 – “Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace”

The people of Israel had returned to their old sinful ways like what occurred in Gibeah. The biblical narrative of Gibeah in Judges 9-21 tells of the tribe of Benjamin who attacked a Levite traveler in attempts to rape both him and his concubine but ended up with just the concubine which resulted in her death. The Levite brought this case to the remaining tribes of Israel which led to the tribe of Benjamin being almost entirely destroyed, except for 600 people. In addition to their sins, the people of Israel rejected correction. They treated the Lord as an enemy by mocking His prophets as crazy fools and actively seeking ways to harm them. Israel was once considered by the Lord as the one nation that stood out as righteous among the other nations of the world. However, when they arrived in the nations they conquered, they began following their shameful customs and worshipping foreign gods– which were detestable to the Lord. As the Lord forewarned Israel in Deuteronomy 8, they would be destroyed if this occurred which is exactly what happened to them. In their pride, the Israelites attempted self-reliance, were led astray, fell into sin and then both forgot to honor the Lord and rejected those He sent. This example of Israel shows how quickly we can be corrupted and led astray when we are to proud or impatient to trust the Lord and instead choose to go our own way. Eventually, we can’t tell right from wrong or light from darkness. This is especially true of our society today. We have reached the point where we have become so accustomed to and normalize sin that we falsely believe it’s acceptable. Then when people speak up against the sins we commit and encourage us to return to the Lord, they are considered “Crazy Christians” for following beliefs that are “outdated” and are often chastised by society for not agreeing with the sins that have been normalized. This is a very bad and dangerous place for us to be in. As we’ve seen with Israel, this mindset, behavior, and rejection of the Lord will only lead to destruction.

Deuteronomy 8:19-20 – “If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed. 20 Like the nations the Lord destroyed before you, so you will be destroyed for not obeying the Lord your God.”

Matthew 6:22-23 – “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”

Ezekiel 33:4 – “then if anyone hears the trumpet but does not heed the warning and the sword comes and takes their life, their blood will be on their own head.”

Proverbs 12:1 - Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, But he who hates correction is stupid.”

Proverbs 15:32 – “Those who disregard discipline despise themselves, but the one who heeds correction gains understanding.”

Proverbs 3:12 – “For the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.”

2 Timothy 3:16-17 – “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

Proverbs 16:18 – “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”

The Lord indicates that Israel’s sins were focused in Gilgal. Historically, Gilgal was the home of many of the Lord’s prophets. It was also a place that was consecrated for the Lord and was used as a place of worship. However, Israel had now turned this holy place that was originally for the Lord into detestable place of worship and sacrifices to foreign gods – resulting in the Lord hating them and removing them from His land altogether. This speaks to how we should keep holy the things that the Lord separates as holy, including ourselves, lest He takes them away. This also applies to us using the gifts He gives us for Him and to help others, not for selfish gain or to be used contrary to the Word. The tribe of Ephraim (meaning fruitful) was the leading tribe among Israel which is why they are typically called out directly in scripture. As the name implies, the tribe of Ephraim was known for being fruitful in having many children. In this passage, the Lord says that because of their sins and impurity, they will no longer be fruitful. They will no longer have children and will be barren. Any children they have will be taken from them. They were once a prosperous tribe but they wouldn’t be anymore. Instead, they would be wanderers throughout the land with no home of their own. These verses should not be mistaken to cause us to believe the Lord is punishing us if we are unable to conceive or if we lose our children. These verses should also not be mistaken to cause us to believe the Lord is punishing us be poor or homeless. This scripture is showing that when we reject the Lord, we also reject His love, mercy, and blessings. When this happens, He humbles us by taking away the very blessings and things that we may be known for, celebrated for, or recognized by. These are the things that we take for granted and in our pride, we falsely believe that we obtained on our own. This can also be for things the Lord gives us that we pervert and use contrary to His desires. Ephraim, being known for its fruitfulness, gave into wickedness and sin and then raised generations of children in this lifestyle of sin. Therefore, the Lord took away the recognition of being “fruitful” and instead made them barren. Ephraim was also known to be prosperous and wealthy, like the nation of Tyre. However, they used their prosperity to fulfill their sinful desires and to sacrifice to pagan gods. As such, the Lord took away their prosperity and caused them to wander without a home. For us today, this can be anything from a job, a home, possessions, people, or anything else. The Lord pays us back in measure to what we give Him and others, whether good or bad. When we bless Him, he blesses us, but when we curse and reject Him, he in turn curses and rejects us. We have to do better. We cannot be so naïve and prideful to think that we are where we are or have what we have because of our own efforts. We also cannot and should not pervert what the Lord gives us for our own sinful desires. Our lives our not our own and neither are the things the Lord gives us. It all belongs to Him. He spiritually “leases” these things to us for our enjoyment. However, He always has the right to repossess them.

2 Corinthians 7:1 – “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”

Deuteronomy 7:6 – “For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth.”

Leviticus 19:2 - "Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them: "You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.”

1 Peter 4:10 – “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms”

Deuteronomy 12:14 – “Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it.”

Haggai 2:8 – “The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the Lord of hosts.”

Job 41:11 – “Who has first given to me, that I should repay him? Whatever is under the whole heaven is mine.”

Key Points and Application

  • We must set aside pride and self-reliance. Instead, we must seek the Lord and trust in Him. When we choose to go our own way or trust in anyone before the Lord, we will always be led astray and incur the unintended consequences. However, when we consult the Lord and walk in the path that He lays out for us we can be secure in knowing that regardless of what happens it will all work out for our good and His glory.
  • We must seek Him first, trust the process, and not rush His will.
  • When we are corrected by the Spirit, regardless of how He delivers the Word and message to us, we are to humbly submit and repent. We should not reject it nor harm the messenger. When we do this, we reject the Lord and choose to live in darkness. Eventually we confuse darkness for light and when this occurs, we are in a very dark and dangerous place to be.
  • We must honor the Lord with who we are, the lives we live, and the blessings He gives to us. Everything belongs to Him and he always reserves the right to take it all back.