Hosea 4.1-19 is a prophecy where Israel is “subpoenaed” to appear before Yehovah to hear charges that are going to be brought against them for their idolatry, thefts, murders, lies, and adulteries.
v 1…”Listen to the word of the Lord, O sons of Israel, for the Lord has a case against the inhabitants of the land (these are Yom ha Din terms, or “day of judgment”, in a court or lawsuit against Israel), because there is no truth (emet) or kindness (chessed/mercy), or knowledge (da’at meaning knowledge of God in Torah) in the land.
v 2…There is swearing (false oaths), deception, murder, stealing, and adultery. They breakout (from the restraints of the Torah) so that bloodshed follows bloodshed (like a stream there was so much).
v 3…Therefore the Lord mourns (because nothing is growing on the land because of the devastations, drought or enemies he has brought) and everyone who lives in it languishes (is weak from hunger, disease, or wounds) along with the beasts of the field and the birds of the sky; and also the fish of the sea disappear (all of these creatures are for the benefit of man, and when they are removed it is a punishment).
v 4…Yet let no one find fault, and let none offer reproof (Yehovah is dealing with this, so Hosea, or anyone, is restrained from reproving the people); for your people are like those who contend with the priest (they were the teachers and the people rejected instruction from the Torah, and if they rejected the priests they will reject the prophets; they won’t listen).
v 5…So you will stumble by day, and the prophet (false) also will stumble with you by night (fall into the same calamities), and I will destroy your mother (the whole nation).
v 6…My people (as a whole) are destroyed for the lack of the knowledge (Hebrew “ha da’at” meaning the Torah), because you have rejected the knowledge (of the Torah-Isa 5.24), I also will reject you from being my priest (Exo 19.6), since you have forgotten the law (Torah) of your God, I also will forget your children (stripped of the status of being a priestly nation for a time).
v 7…The more they multiplied (in population and wealth), the more they sinned against me; I will change their glory into shame (from great to reproach).
v 8…They feed on the sin (offering) of my people (they took their korbanot and pay without rebuking them), and direct their desire toward iniquity (the priests were drawn to the sins of the people instead of stopping it).
v 9…And it will be, like people, like priest; so I will punish them (the priests and the people) for their ways, and repay them for their deeds.
v 10…And they will eat, but not have enough (their greed was insatiable); they will play the harlot (in idolatry), but not increase because they have stopped giving heed to the Lord (their idols can’t help them).
v 11…Harlotry, wine, and new wine take away the heart (understanding).
v 12…My people consult (ask counsel from) their wooden idol, and their wand (rod for divination) informs them (depending on how it is interpreted); for a spirit of harlotry has led them astray (instead of consulting the Urim v’ Thummim or consulting the prophets, they turned to idols and occult practices), and they have played the harlot from under their God (Hebrew “tachat” meaning subjection; this term is used when Israel was “at the foot” of Mount Sinai-Exo 19.17).
v 13…They offer sacrifices on the tops of the mountains (Yehovah said only in Jerusalem/Temple) and burn incense on the hills (only to be done in Jerusalem/Temple), under the oak, poplar, and terebinth, because their shade is pleasant (for their feasts). Therefore your daughters play the harlot, and your brides commit adultery (following the example of their fathers and husbands in Baal and Asherah worship).
v 14…I will not punish your daughters when they play the harlot or your brides when they commit adultery (only), for themselves (the fathers and husbands) go apart with harlots and offer sacrifices with temple prostitutes (set a bad example); so the people without understanding are ruined (being dull of hearing, they will be thrust down).
v 15…Though you, Israel, play the harlot, do not let Judah become guilty (don’t let Judah follow your example); also do not go to Gilgal or go up to Beth-aven (another name for Bethel instead of “house of God”; it became known as Beth-aven or “house of evil”) and take an oath: “As the Lord (Yehovah) lives (don’t invoke Yehovah in your idolatrous practices; they were mixing true worship with false)!”
v 16… Since Israel is stubborn like a stubborn heifer (unbroken will), can the Lord now pasture them like a lamb in a large place (no, because they were untamed)?
v 17…Ephraim is joined (linked) to idols; let him alone (abandon him for a time because he won’t listen).
v 18…Their drink is sour (in their stomach, lost its flavor and color, degenerated too far-Isa 28.1), they play the harlot continually; their shields (rulers) dearly love shame (because they got rich perverting justice through bribes).
v 19…The wind (of Yehovah’s wrath, the enemy like a whirlwind) wraps them in its wings (“kanaf” or corners) and they will be ashamed because of their sacrifices (they expected help from their idols to whom they offered sacrifices, but this will be the cause of their destruction).