Hosea 11-13

Hosea 11:1 I... called my son out of Egypt
Another messianic allusion, the Israelites would not have suspected anything prophetic in this statement. They would certainly attribute the statement to the deliverance from Egypt in the days of Moses. Yet, the subtle suggestion is there. The Father would call his "son out of Egypt." How could the Messiah come out of Egypt? The Son of God was to be born in Bethlehem not Egypt.
But the scripture was fulfilled by virtue of Herod's wicked decree to kill all would-be successors. After the visit of the wise men to Jesus, Joseph, and Mary:
...behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.
When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt:
And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son. (Matt. 2:13-15)
Bruce R. McConkie
As Egypt had been a land of refuge for the house of Jacob anciently, so now it became a convenient and natural refuge for Jacob's King. It was a nearby Roman province, outside the jurisdiction of Herod, where more than a million Jews already dwelt. And as Israel anciently had been called out of Egypt, so now her King was to return to the Canaan of promise to perform his earthly ministry. Since Herod is believed to have died when Jesus was two or three years old, our Lord's sojourn in that land may have been as short as a few months. Presumptively it was the plan for him to spend his childhood, youth, and young manhood in Nazareth.
Hosea's prophecy, "When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt" ("#hosea 11:1Hos. 11:1), though having seeming reference to the house of Israel itself, is one of the many illustrations of prophetic utterances having dual meaning and fulfillment. (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary,1:104)
Hosea 11:2 As they called them, so they went from them: they sacrificed unto Baalim
Pronouns are a problem in the Bible. It is often difficult to identify the object or antecedent of the pronoun. Wouldn't it be easier to understand if the pronouns were changed?
"As they called them, so they went from them," would be rendered instead
"As the prophets called them, so Israel went from them."
Similarly in verse 7, the text reads:
"...though they called them to the most High, none at all would exalt him," could read
"...though the prophets called Israel to the most High, none at all would exalt Him."
Hosea 11:8 How shall I give thee up, Ephraim... mine heart is turned within me
Hosea and Isaiah were contemporaries (compare Hosea 1:1 with Isaiah 1:1). They lived in a day of wickedness and prophesied that Assyria would shortly capture the Northern Kingdom. They pronounced destruction on the Israelites. Their message was one of gloom and doom. One is left to wonder how a prophet of the Lord could stand to be so negative all the time. What a depressing message!
Yet both Hosea and Isaiah followed a similar prophetic pattern. Often, their message of destruction was followed by a promise of redemption. So often, the message is, "you shall be scattered among the nations for your wickedness, but in the last days, the Lord will gather thee together and fight your battles." The depressing message is almost always followed by a prophecy of hope.
"[Ephraim] shall not return into the land of Egypt, but the Assyrian shall be his king," (v. 5) is followed by a message of redemption:
"[In the last days] I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim... They shall walk after the Lord" (v. 9-10)
"I will not have mercy upon her children... for their mother hath played the harlot" (Hosea 2:4-5) is followed by
"[In the last days] I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say... Thou art my people." (Hosea 2:23, italics added)
"Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge" (Isa. 5:13) is followed by
"And [in the last days] he will lift up an ensign to the nations from far... and behold, they shall come with speed swiftly." (Isa. 5:26)
"O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger... I will send him against an hypocritical nation," (Isa 10:5) is followed by
"And it shall come to pass in that day, that the remnant of Israel... shall stay upon the Lord... The remnant shall return." (Isa. 10:20-21)
The pattern is repeated over and over again in prophetic writings. The gospel of doom is still a gospel of good news after all.
Hosea 11:12 Ephraim compasseth me about with lies... but Judah yet ruleth with God
Ephraim, the lead tribe of the Northern Kingdom, was more wicked than the Southern Kingdom of Judah. After the days of Solomon, they never had a completely righteous king (Jehu was the closest). Most of them were licentious, idolatrous, and just plain wicked. Mosiah asked, "how much iniquity doth one wicked king cause to be committed yea, and what great destruction!" (Mosiah 29:17) If one wicked king can cause so much iniquity and destruction, what if a series of wicked kings found distinction only by exceeding the wickedness of their predecessor?
The following chart shows the kings, whether they were wicked or righteous. Wicked kings are in red; righteous kings black. Note that the northern kingdom has only one righteous king over a 250 year period-and even he wasn't really true to the Lord.
Kings of Judah
Kings of Israel
Joram (also called Jehoram)
Azariah (also called Uzziah)
Jotham (Isaiah's contemporary)
Ahaz (Isaiah's contemporary)
Jeroboam II (Hosea's contemporary)
Hezekiah (Isaiah's contemporary)
Zechariah (Hosea's contemporary)
Northern Kingdom sacked by Assyria
Southern Kingdom sacked by Babylon
Notice all the red in the right hand column! While the Northern Kingdom of Israel was ripe for destruction, the Southern kingdom was still producing good fruit. When Hosea says, "Judah yet ruleth with God, and is faithful with the saints," it was probably during the reign of Hezekiah (Hosea 1:1), who "trusted in the Lord God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him" (2 Kgs. 18:5). Mosiah's commentary would be, "If it were possible that you could have just men to be your kings... I say unto you, if this could always be the case then it would be expedient that ye should always have kings to rule over you." (Mosiah 29:13)
Hosea 13:1 when he offended in Baal, he died
Which is worse? Physical death or spiritual death? Ask Ephraim. The Israelites died spiritually when they turned to Baal. Spiritual death is defined as "separation from the presence of the Lord" (D&C 29:41). Such a separation can be decreed by God, but in the case of the Israelites, their separation (or divorce) was self inflicted. As the Lord said, "O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself" (v. 9)
Hosea 13:2 Let the men that sacrifice kiss the calves
When the Assyrians come into the land of Israel and start destroying the cities and raping the women, what use will it be to pray to the silver calves of Baal? Will the wise men and elders "kiss the calves" then? Perhaps, they could hide behind their biggest idols and the power of Baal could protect them? It's only fair for the Lord to give their silver and golden gods a chance. Maybe they can come through in the clutch after all. The Lord is always fair; He is doing the Israelites a favor by showing them how powerless Baal worship really is.
Well did Jeremiah prophecy:
...every founder is confounded by the graven image: for his molten image is falsehood, and there is no breath in them.
They are vanity, and the work of errors: in the time of their visitation they shall perish. (Jer. 10:14-15)
Hosea 13:4 there is no savior beside me
Bruce R. McConkie
It is hoped that all those who accept Jesus as Lord and Savior know also that the Old Testament prophets and seers knew him as Jehovah, which is to say, Jehovah is the Savior of the world. The writings of Moses, as originally recorded by the great lawgiver, contained these words: "Mine Only Begotten is and shall be the Savior, for he is full of grace and truth." (Moses 1:6.) Isaiah and various of the prophets recorded the words of the Eternal Jehovah in such ways as: "I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour. . . . I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no saviour." (Isa. 43:3, 11.) "I am the Lord thy God. . . . There is no saviour beside me." (Hosea 13:4.) And there are many other such statements.
To show that the New Testament authors knew that Christ their Savior was Jehovah, the Savior of Israel, let us examine these words spoken by Jehovah to Isaiah. That holy being identifies himself as the "God of Israel, the Saviour"; announces that "Israel shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation"; says to "the seed of Jacob: . . . There is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me." Having so spoken to Israel, his chosen, he then affirms: "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else." (Isa. 45:15-22.)
That is to say, Jehovah is the Savior; come unto him, all ye ends of the earth; he "is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe." (1 Tim. 4:10.) "The Lord is God and beside him there is no Savior." (D&C 76:1.) Let all men come to him.
Having so stated, having issued the great invitation to come to him, the Lord Jehovah then says: "I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear." (Isa. 45:23.) Before Jehovah, Judge of all, shall all things bow in humble reverence; to him every tongue that speaks shall swear an allegiance that shall never end! Well and gloriously spoke the great God by the mouth of Isaiah. (The Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1978], 310-311)
Hosea 13:14 I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death
Chapter 13 begins with a discussion of Ephraim's suicidal death by Baal (v. 1). Again the early message is one of gloom and doom, "I will meet them as a bear that is bereaved of her whelps, and will rend the caul of their heart, and there will I devour them like a lion: the wild beast shall tear them" (v. 8). Why all the violence? Because of the idolatry and "iniquity of Ephraim" (v. 12). But the gospel of good news again prevails over the gospel of doom and gloom. The chapter may begin with death, but it ends with the resurrection of the body and the redemption of the soul-complete and full recovery from both physical and spiritual death.
"The atonement is the central truth of the Christian religion; all other doctrines and ideas begin in this-the great fundamental idea-the axis of all principles and theories; for, 'if Christ is not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is vain also.'" (Improvement Era, 1911, Vol. Xiv. May, 1911. No. 7)
Bruce R. McConkie
[This verse, paraphrased] is: "I Jehovah will do it," all of which brings us to Paul's like-expressed witness that Christ shall ransom and redeem and resurrect, so that it may truly be said: "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" (1 Cor. 15:55)
Wilford Woodruff
I have often thought that, to see a dead body, and to see that body laid in the grave and covered with earth, is one of the most gloomy things on earth; without the gospel it is like taking a leap in the dark. But as quick as we obtain the gospel, as soon as the spirit of man is enlightened by the inspiration of the Almighty, he can exclaim with one of old-"O grave, where is thy victory, O death, where is thy sting? The sting of death is sin, and the gift of God is eternal life, through our Lord Jesus Christ." (The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, edited by G. Homer Durham [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1969], 249)
Hosea 13:15 an east wind shall come
An "east wind" meant plague, drought, and destruction.
"The east wind is a destructive wind which originates in the east, the symbolic direction of Deity's presence. Also called 'the wind of the Lord' (Hosea 13:15), it is 'prepared' by God (Jonah 4:8) for the purpose of destroying the ungodly and unrighteous. The Lord has stated, 'If my people shall sow filthiness they shall reap the east wind, which bringeth immediate destruction' (Mosiah 7:31). Hence they are 'smitten with the east wind' (Mosiah 12:6; see also Job 27:21)." (Joseph Fielding McConkie and Donald W. Parry, A Guide to Scriptural Symbols, 45)
Hosea 13:16 Samaria shall be come desolate
Shalmaneser, the king of Assyria... besieged Samaria three years, and took it by force in the ninth year of the reign of Hoshea, and in the seventh year of Hezekiah, king of Jerusalem, and quite demolished the government of the Israelites, and transplanted all the people into Media and Persia among whom he took king Hoshea alive; and when he had removed these people out of this their land he transplanted other nations out of Cuthah, a place so called, (for there is [still] a river of that name in Persia,) into Samaria, and into the country of the Israelites. So the ten tribes of the Israelites were removed out of Judea nine hundred and forty-seven years after their forefathers were come out of the land of Egypt. (Antiquities of the Jews, Book IX, 14:1)