Hosea 12

DateVersionReading Plan
@November 3, 2023ESV (2016)ESV Prophets Plan 2023


  • The Lord’s Love
  • The Lord’s Indictment of Israel and Judah


The chapter opens with how “Ephraim feeds on the wind and pursues the east wind all day long.” Ephraim fed on the wind in the sense that he depended on the Assyrians and Egypt for survival through treaties.

In Hos. 12:2-6, the Lord declares an indictment against Judah and Jacob (Israel) and that He will punish and repay according to their ways. The Lord recounts how Jacob took his brother, Esau, by the heel and later that he “strove with God” (Hos. 12:3). This alludes to Jacob’s wrestling with God and being renamed “Israel” (Gen. 32:28). Jacob “met God at Bethel” (Hos. 12:4), referring to the events of Gen. 28:10-22, where God passes the promises He made with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. Hosea extends this into an address and command of the people, that by the help of their God, they are to 1) return, 2) hold fast to love and justice and 3) wait continually for your God (Hos. 10:6).

In Hos. 12:7-9, Ephraim is depicted as a cunning merchant, in “whose hands are false balances” (Hos. 12:7). He thought himself to be immune from detection and that his iniquity would be hidden by his labors. Ephraim understood their material prosperity as a result of divine blessing. Following a stereotypical way of thinking, they equated blessing with righteousness and suffering with sin. God confronts this with identifying Himself as the LORD and their God and that He will make them again dwell in tents “as in the days of the appointed feast.” (Hos. 12:9). He would cause them to live in the wilderness again, in tents, as during the Feast of Tabernacles.

In the remaining verses (Hos. 12:10-14), God tells of how He spoke through the prophets and “multiplied visions” (Hos. 12:10). However, this was all in vain because the people did not listen. Gilead and Gilgal, the two parts of the Northern Kingdom, divided by the Jordan, will be brought to nothing because of their idolatry. God had led Israel out of servitude in Egypt by Moses the prophet, but now Ephraim “has given bitter provocation” and God will “repay him for his disgraceful deeds.” (Hos. 12:14).


The Lord indicted Judah and Israel for their iniquity and would punish them according to their ways. In this chapter, God recounts Jacob’s beginnings; how he took his brother’s heel in the womb and later wrestled with God. Jacob met God at Bethel where God passed on him the promise He had made to Abraham and Isaac. All of this to frame Hosea’s plea for the people to return by the help of their God, to hold fast to love and justice and wait continually for their God (Hos. 12:6).

Important to see here is how Hosea identified God’s role in helping the people in their return. He understood clearly that they would not be able to achieve it on their own. It was by leading themselves that they became steeped in idolatry and iniquity. Thus would be only by the Lord’s help that they could return.

It is through His help and guidance that we are drawn to Him. Our salvation comes by a faith entirely initiated by Him, by a grace not of our doing lest any man should boast. We also need His help daily in refreshing our hearts of His goodness and keeping us on a kingdom trajectory. Such a wonderful reminder today to see the Lord as our Helper and to echo the words of the psalmist:

From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

Ps. 121:1-2:

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