1* The number of the Israelites
will be like the sand of the sea,
which can be neither measured nor counted.a
Instead of being told,
“You are Not-My-People,”
They will be called,
“Children of the living God.”b
2Then the people of Judah and of Israel
will gather together;
They will appoint for themselves one head
and rise up from the land;
great indeed shall be the day of Jezreel!
3Say to your brothers, “My People,”
and to your sisters, “Pitied.”
The Lord and Israel His Spouse*
4Accuse your mother, accuse!
for she is not my wife,
and I am not her husband.*
Let her remove her prostitution from her face.
her adultery from between her breasts,
5Or I will strip her naked,*
leaving her as on the day of her birth;
I will make her like the wilderness,
make her like an arid land,
and let her die of thirst.
6I will have no pity on her children,
for they are children of prostitution.
7Yes, their mother has prostituted herself;
she who conceived them has acted shamefully.
For she said, “I will go after my lovers,*
who give me my bread and my water,
my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.”c
8* Therefore, I will hedge in her way with thorns
and erect a wall against her,
so that she cannot find her paths.
9If she runs after her lovers, she will not overtake them;
if she seeks them she will not find them.
Then she will say,
“I will go back to my first husband,
for I was better off then than now.”d
10She did not know
that it was I who gave her
the grain, the wine, and the oil,
I who lavished upon her silver,
and gold, which they used for Baal,*
11Therefore I will take back my grain in its time,
and my wine in its season;
I will snatch away my wool and my flax,
which were to cover her nakedness.
12Now I will lay bare her shame
in full view of her lovers,e
and no one can deliver her out of my hand.f
13I will put an end to all her joy,
her festivals, her new moons, her sabbaths—
all her seasonal feasts.
14I will lay waste her vines and fig trees,
of which she said, “These are the fees
my lovers have given me”;
I will turn them into rank growth
and wild animals shall devour them.
15I will punish her for the days of the Baals,*
for whom she burnt incense,
When she decked herself out with her rings and her jewelry,
and went after her lovers—
but me she forgot—oracle of the LORD.g
16Therefore,* I will allure her now;
I will lead her into the wildernessh
and speak persuasively to her.
17Then I will give her the vineyards she had,
and the valley of Achor* as a door of hope.i
There she will respond as in the days of her youth,
as on the day when she came up from the land of Egypt.
18On that day—oracle of the LORD—
You shall call me “My husband,”
and you shall never again call me “My baal.”*
19I will remove from her mouth the names of the Baals;
they shall no longer be mentioned by their name.
20I will make a covenant for them on that day,j
with the wild animals,
With the birds of the air,
and with the things that crawl on the ground.
Bow and sword and warfare
I will destroy from the land,
and I will give them rest in safety.
21I will betroth you to me forever:
I will betroth you to me with* justice and with judgment,
with loyalty and with compassion;
22I will betroth you to me with fidelity,
and you shall know the LORD.
23On that day I will respond—oracle of the LORD—
I will respond to the heavens,
and they will respond to the earth;
24The earth will respond to the grain, and wine, and oil,
and these will respond to Jezreel.
25I will sow her for myself in the land,
and I will have pity on Not-Pitied.
I will say to Not-My-People, “You are my people,”k
and he will say, “My God!”
* [2:1–3] These verses abruptly reverse the tone of the judgments of 1:2–9 with words of hope for the covenant people: the name Jezreel is given a positive interpretation in contrast to its negative meaning in 1:4; the child named “Not-Pitied” in 1:6 is renamed “Pitied” in 2:3; the child named “Not-My-People” is renamed “My People.” The reversal of these names occurs again in 2:25.
* [2:4–25] The section contains three oracles of doom (vv. 4–6, 7–9, 10–15), a transition (vv. 16–17), and three oracles of salvation (vv. 18–19, 20–22, 23–25).
* [2:4] The Lord speaks of Israel, still using the example of Hosea’s wife.
* [2:5] I will strip her naked: it was the husband’s responsibility to provide food and clothing for his wife (Ex 21:10) and now, because of her adultery, he takes back his support.
* [2:7] My lovers: even though Israel had experienced the Lord as the God of the desert, covenant and conquest, the people were inclined to turn to the local fertility deities, the Baals, who were believed to be responsible for agricultural success. They easily forgot that the Lord provides them with everything (v. 10; cf. Dt 7:13), and thus prostituted themselves by worshiping other gods.
* [2:8] The crop failures sent by the Lord are meant to make Israel see the folly of its ways.
* [2:10] For Baal: as an offering to Baal or to make statues of Baal.
* [2:15] The days of the Baals: feast days of the Baal cult (v. 13), or the whole period of Israel’s apostasy.
* [2:16] Therefore: this word in Hebrew normally introduces an oracle of doom; here, surprisingly, it leads to hope. Allure: as though seducing a virgin (Ex 22:15–16). Ordinarily this word connotes deception (Jgs 14:15; 16:5; 1 Kgs 22:20–22).
* [2:17] Valley of Achor: lit., valley of trouble (Jos 7:26). Here this valley becomes a valley of hope, a new entry into the promised land.
* [2:18–19] Baal: the word means “lord, master.” It was commonly used by women of their husbands, but it is to be shunned as a title for the Lord because of its association with the fertility gods, the Baals. Many Israelites saw little if any difference between the worship of the Lord and the worship of the Baals, thereby dishonoring the true source of the land’s fertility.
* [2:21–22] Betroth…with: the betrothal was the legal moment before cohabitation when the dowry was paid to the father of the bride. In this remarriage the Lord gives the bride price to Israel herself “forever.” Justice…judgment: refer to equity and fairness of conduct. The next two terms, “loyalty” (hesed), the steadfast love between the covenant partners, and “compassion,” maternal love (cf. 1:6; 2:3, 25) are characteristic of Hosea. You shall know: not an abstract but a practical knowledge which means acknowledgment of God’s will and obedience to his law (4:1; 5:4; 6:3, 6).
a. [2:1] Gn 15:5; 22:17; 32:13.
j. [2:20] Gn 9:8–11; Ez 34:25; Jb 5:23.