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Hosea 11:1-9 – God’s Parental Dilemma


Hosea promises that God, the loving parent, will not abandon the children of Israel.


Hosea--especially through the use of his own children's names (see chapter 1)--had promised God's judgment of the people. Now, Hosea promises that God, the loving parent, will not abandon the children of Israel. Using heartrending language, Hosea depicts God as the one who "taught Ephraim to walk," who held the child Israel "in my arms," and "bent down to them and fed them" (11:3-4). In spite of the children having rejected their parent, God asks, "How can I give you up, Ephraim?" (11:8). "My heart recoils within me….I will not execute my fierce anger; I will not again destroy Ephraim" (11:8-9).

Hosea 11:1-9

God’s Compassion Despite Israel’s Ingratitude

11When Israel was a child, I loved him,
   and out of Egypt I called my son.
2 The more I* called them,
   the more they went from me;*
they kept sacrificing to the Baals,
   and offering incense to idols.

3 Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk,
   I took them up in my* arms;
   but they did not know that I healed them.
4 I led them with cords of human kindness,
   with bands of love.
I was to them like those
   who lift infants to their cheeks.*
   I bent down to them and fed them.

5 They shall return to the land of Egypt,
   and Assyria shall be their king,
   because they have refused to return to me.
6 The sword rages in their cities,
   it consumes their oracle-priests,
   and devours because of their schemes.
7 My people are bent on turning away from me.
   To the Most High they call,
   but he does not raise them up at all.*

8 How can I give you up, Ephraim?
   How can I hand you over, O Israel?
How can I make you like Admah?
   How can I treat you like Zeboiim?
My heart recoils within me;
   my compassion grows warm and tender.
9 I will not execute my fierce anger;
   I will not again destroy Ephraim;
for I am God and no mortal,
   the Holy One in your midst,
   and I will not come in wrath.*

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