The Israelites will possess the neighboring lands (Ob 1:19-1:21)

“Those of the Negeb

Shall possess

Mount Esau.

Those of the Shephelah,

The land of the Philistines,

Shall possess

The land of Ephraim

With the land of Samaria.

Benjamin

Shall possess Gilead.

The exiles

Of the Israelites

Who are in Halah,

Shall possess

Phoenicia

As far as Zarephath.

The exiles of Jerusalem

Who are in Sepharad

Shall possess

The towns

Of the Negeb.

Those who have been saved

Shall go up

To Mount Zion

To rule Mount Esau.

The kingdom

Shall be Yahweh’s.”

This short chapter and book ends and a new larger Israel, as their long standing enemy neighbors will no longer exist.  Israel shall rule them.  The area of the Negeb was the arid southern land that would change from the land of Edom or Mount Esau into Israel.  Israel was going to possess the Shephelah, the western area along the Mediterranean coast where the Philistines lived.  They were also going to have the land of Samaria and the territory of Ephraim, north of Judah.  The territory of Benjamin would include land on the east side of the Jordan River, the Gilead.  The exiled Israelites in Halah in the upper Mesopotamia region and those in the Phoenician town of Zarephath, as well as the exiles in Asia Minor in Shephard would all return to live in the arid southern Negeb region.  All the saved Israelites would return to Mount Zion, as Mount Esau and all of Edom would go away and be under the Israelites.

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Get rid of the idols (Hos 14:8-14:8)

“O Ephraim!

What have I to do

With idols?

It is I who answer!

I look after you.

I am

Like an evergreen cypress!

Your faithfulness

Comes from me.”

In a final nod to the territory of Ephraim, Yahweh reminded them that they should not be dealing with idols. Yahweh would take care of them. He was going to be like an evergreen cypress tree. Notice the number of allusions to trees. All their faithfulness came from Yahweh himself.

Ephraim is the bad child (Hos 13:12-13:13)

“Ephraim’s iniquity

Is bound up.

His sin is kept in store.

The pangs of childbirth

Come for him.

But he is an unwise son.

At the proper time,

He does not present himself

At the mouth of the womb.”

The iniquity of the territory of Ephraim, in the northern kingdom of Israel, has bound and tied them up. They have kept their own sins stored up. When the pangs of childbirth came for him, he was an unwise son. He failed to present himself at the mouth of the womb for childbirth. In other words, Ephraim refused to come out of the womb, a strange concept for us today.

Judah was still faithful (Hos 11:12-11:12)

“Ephraim

Has surrounded me

With lies.

The house of Israel

Has surrounded me

With deceit.

But Judah

Still walks

With God.

He is faithful

To the Holy One.”

Although the territory of Ephraim and the northern kingdom of Israel had surrounded Yahweh with lies and deceit, Judah still walked with God. Judah had remained faithful to the Holy One, Yahweh.

Against the false exterior cult (Hos 8:11-8:13)

“When Ephraim

Multiplied altars

To expiate sin,

They became to him

Altars for sinning.

Although I write

For him

The multitude

Of my instructions,

They are regarded

As a strange thing.

Although they offer

Choice sacrifices,

Yahweh does not accept them.

Although they eat

Sacrificed offerings,

Yahweh does not accept them.

Now he will remember

Their iniquity.

He will punish

Their sins.

They shall return

To Egypt.”

The territory of Ephraim, in the northern Israelite kingdom, multiplied the number of altars to ask for forgiveness of sins. In the eyes of Yahweh, they were actually altars of sinning. Yahweh had given them plenty of instructions, but they regarded them as strange sayings, ignoring them. They tried to offer choice sacrifice offerings and eat them. However, Yahweh would not accept them. Instead, he remembered their iniquity. He wanted to punish them for their sins. One of the punishments was to send them back to Egypt.