Hosea 12 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Hosea 12)

Verse 1

[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.

Feedeth on wind — It is a proverbial speech; denoting his supporting himself with hopes, as unfit to sustain him as the wind is to feed us.

Increaseth lies — By making new leagues, and fortifying himself with them, against the menaces of God by his prophets.

Desolation — Which will only hasten and increase his desolation.

Oil — Not common oil for trade, but rich and precious oils, to procure friendship there too.

Verse 2

[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.

Jacob — Ephraim and Judah are of Jacob, both have corrupted themselves, and therefore I will proceed against both.

Verse 3

[3] He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength he had power with God:

He — Jacob.

Took his brother — The design of mentioning this is to mind them of that goodness which God shewed them in their father Jacob.

His strength — This strength was not of nature, but of grace. Strength received of God was well employed betimes; in it he wrestled for and obtained the blessing.

Verse 4

[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;

The angel — Called verse 3, God; and verse 5, Jehovah, Lord of hosts. He was no created angel, but the Messiah; eternal God by nature and essence, angel by office, and voluntary undertaking.

He wept — He prayed with tears from a sense of his own unworthiness, and with earnestness for the mercy he desired.

He — God.

Him — Jacob full of weariness, fears, and solicitude on his journey to Laban.

He — God.

With us — Being then in Jacob's loins.

Verse 5

[5] Even the LORD God of hosts; the LORD is his memorial.

The Lord God of hosts — He that appeared and spake, who promised the blessing and commanded the reformation at Beth-el was Jehovah, the eternal and unchangeable God; who can perform his promise, and execute his threat, who is a most terrible enemy, and most desirable friend.

The Lord — Jehovah, repeated for confirmation.

His memorial — By this he will be known.

Verse 6

[6] Therefore turn thou to thy God: keep mercy and judgment, and wait on thy God continually.

Turn — Repent, leave idols and all sins. He worshipped God alone, do you so; he cast idols out of his family, do you so too; be Jacob's children herein.

Mercy — Shew kindness to all who need it.

Judgment — Wrong none; but with justice in dealings, in judicatures; and public offices, render to every one their due.

Wait on thy God — In public worship and private duties serve and trust God alone: let not idols have either sacrifice, prayer, praise, or trust from you; and let your hope and worship, be for ever continued.

Verse 7

[7] He is a merchant, the balances of deceit are in his hand: he loveth to oppress.

A merchant — Ephraim is so far from being as Jacob, that you may account him a Canaanite, a subtle merchant.

Verse 8

[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.

I am rich — Whatever is said, yet I get what I aim at.

They shall find — Yet he hugs himself in the apprehension of close carriage of his affairs, so that no great crime can be found in him: none, that is sin, that is any great enormity.

Verse 9

[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.

From Egypt — From the time I brought thee out of it.

In tabernacles — I have given thee all these blessings and comforts, expressed proverbially in allusion to the joy which they had at the feast of tabernacles.

Verse 10

[10] I have also spoken by the prophets, and I have multiplied visions, and used similitudes, by the ministry of the prophets.

Spoken — To warn them of their danger.

Verse 11

[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.

In Gilead — Tiglah Pileser had formerly took Gilead among other towns, leading the inhabitants captive. By this the prophet minds the Ephraimites what they must expect, and doth it in this pungent question, Is there iniquity in Gilead? Is it there only? Be it, Gilead was all iniquity; Gilgal is no better.

They — They that come up to Gilgal to sacrifice, are idolaters.

In the furrows — They are for number like heaps of stones, gathered out of plowed land and laid in furrows.

Verse 12

[12] And Jacob fled into the country of Syria, and Israel served for a wife, and for a wife he kept sheep.

Fled — For fear of Esau.

Verse 13

[13] And by a prophet the LORD brought Israel out of Egypt, and by a prophet was he preserved.

A prophet — By Moses.

Israel — Your forefathers.

Preserved — In the wilderness. The aim of the prophet seems to be this, to prevent their vain pride, and boasting of their ancestors.

Verse 14

[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.

His blood — He shall bear the punishment of all his blood; his murders of the innocent, and his own guilt too.

His reproach — Which Ephraim hath cast upon the prophets, the worshippers of God, and on God; preferring idols before him.

His Lord — God who is Lord of all.