Exegesis example (Hosea 4:1-3)
I am hoping to have a word study chapter Hosea 4:1-3. Could you
provide me with an example of your exegetical work on these passages.
I am using the Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Lexicon and the "Lexical
Aids to the Old Testament" of the New American Standard Bible, which
is derived from Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Harris,
Archer, Waltke: editors) and Old Testament Word Studies (William
The text is:
1 Listen to the word of the LORD, O sons of Israel, for the LORD has a
case against the inhabitants of the land, because there is no
faithfulness or kindness or knowledge of God in the land.
2 There is swearing, deception, murder, stealing and adultery. They
employ violence, so that bloodshed follows bloodshed.
3 Therefore the land mourns, and everyone who lives in it languishes
along with the beasts of the field and the birds of the sky, and also
the fish of the sea disappear.
(Hosea 4:1-3, NAS,Update).
This section starts off with the word "shimu," (from "shema,"
H8085). Shimu (2per. masc. pl.) is in the imperative form which makes
it the command "hear!" This word does not merely mean "hear" but "pay
attention," "regard," and "obey." It is the first word of the most
recited Hebrew prayer, the Sh'ma, which begins in Duet 6:4 "Hear, O
Israel! The LORD our God, the LORD is one." Jesus alluded to the Sh'ma
in Matt 22:36-38 as being the foremost commandment of the Law.
The next word of note is the word "debar" (H1697). It means "word"
here. But this is not any "word" but the "word of YHWH." Here we see
the concept of the Logos (Jn 1:1) in the Hebrew Scriptures! See
Ezekiel 37:4 for this same type of idea. The "word of YHWH" is
associated as closely with God as God Himself. So the first three
words of Hos. 4:1 meant to be taken serious.
The next portion tells us that God has a legal dispute with the sons
of Israel. The Hebrew word "riyb" (H7379) means strife, dispute,
quarrel, contest (personal or legal), feud, a lawsuit, litigation, and
plea. Its primary meaning seems to be in regards to legal
disputes. Other meanings appear derived from this one way or
another. Thus, God appears to be bringing a lawsuit against Israel and
the inhabitants of the Promised Land. The dispute God has with Israel
is that they have failed to keep the Covenant made at Sinai (Ex 19
ff). Because Israel broke this Covenant God had a right to nullify
that Covenant if He desired. So here is the justification for God
creating the new and different covenant (see Jer 31:31-34). Israel,
like an adulterous wife, is subject to divorcement. But God does not
divorce Israel but creates a new and different covenant which the
Gentiles presently enjoy and which Israel will at some point also come
God then spells out His case against Israel and the inhabitants of the
Promised Land. He says that there is no truth (emeth, H571),
mercy-lovingkindness (checed, H2617), and knowledge (daath,
H1847). Before each of these words is the phrase "there does not
exist" (en, H369). The Hebrew really emphasis the non-existence of
these things in Israel - literally it says: "there does not exist
truth, and there does not exist mercy, and there does not exist
knowledge of God in the land."
These three words are quite important in the Hebrew Scriptures and
establish the foundation of God's covenants with men. Emeth (H571) has
firmness and stability as its rudimentary meaning. The meanings of
faithfulness, sureness, and truth derive from this. It is the primary
word in Hebrew for "truth." Truth is closely identified with God's
nature. Thus, we, created in God's image, are to reflect this
nature. The Gospel of John and John's epistles really develops this
idea. Take a concordance and look up every occurrence of "truth" in
The next word, checed (H2617) is one of the most important words on
all of the Hebrew Scriptures. It means goodness, loving-kindness,
mercifulness, and kindness. God uses this word when He spoke to Moses
on Mt. Sinai at the giving of the Law: "Then the LORD passed by in
front of [Moses] and proclaimed, the LORD, the LORD God, compassionate
and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness (checed)
and truth (emeth); who keeps lovingkindness (checed) for thousands,
who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin" (Exodus 34:6-7a). Note
that emeth is also used here. Love is a covenant word (see I Jn
4:8,16) and is closely associated with the forgiveness of sins. This
word is also used in Hosea in 2:19; 6:4,6; 10:12; and 12:6.
Finally the Lord says that daath (knowledge) of God does not exist
with them. Daath means knowledge, insight, intelligence,
understanding, wisdom, and cunning. This word is also used for moral
cognition (see Gen 2:9,17). The "knowledge of God" along with the
"fear of the Lord" describes the proper relationship between God and
man (see Isa 11:2; 58:2; Jer 22:16; Jer 22:15,16; Hos 4:1,2,6;
6:6). Why does knowledge of God not exist in Israel? Israel was given
much information about God. They were given the Law and God sent many
prophets to them. Yet God says that they lack knowledge of Him. Jesus
explains it well:
11 Jesus answered them, "To you it has been granted to know the
mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been
12 For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an
abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken
away from him.
13 Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they
do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they
14 In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which
says, 'You will keep on hearing, but will not understand; you will
keep on seeing, but will not perceive;
15 for the heart of this people has become dull, with their ears they
scarcely hear, and they have closed their eyes, otherwise they would
see with their eyes, hear with their ears, and understand with their
heart and return, and I would heal them.'
16 But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears,
because they hear.
17 For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men
desired to see what you see, and did not see it and to hear what you
hear, and did not hear it."
The Lord then tells what does exist in Israel: "swearing, deception,
murder, stealing and adultery. They employ violence, so that bloodshed
follows bloodshed." The Hebrew verb "alah" (H422) translated here as
"swearing" means to swear a solemn oath or to curse. I don't think the
meaning here is "saying cuss words." Rather, all of these items are
violations of the Sinai Covenant. They represent the third, ninth,
sixth, eighth, and seventh commandments of Exodus 20. Remember that
God is following court protocol here. All of His legal papers are
filed with the court and He has itemized the specific violations in
His court brief. Parats (H6555), translated here as "violence" has as
its primary meaning as "to break through" or "make a breach." The BDB
Lexicon states that this word means "use violence" In Hos 4:2. The
idea is to make a breach in peace.
As a result of the violations of the Covenant "the land mourns and
everyone who lives in it languishes." This follows the curses that God
pronounced would come upon the people and land if the Sinai covenant
was violate. Specifically the creatures that live in all the elements
of the land (air, earth, water) suffer. The word translated as
"disappear" here is the Hebrew word acaph (H622). It primarily means
to gather or collect. A derived meaning is to remove, to take away,
perish, and to destroy. The BDB Lexicon indicates that in Hos 4:3 it
means "to be taken away, removed, perish." Thus, they die.
This case the Lord has against Israel brings to mind parable of the
unmerciful servant in Matt 18:23-35. There the servant did not show
the mercy he was shown. Israel did not reflect the nature of God and
show the mercy they were shown. In fact, they, like the unmerciful
servant in the parable, exhibited the opposite of what was expected of