The Canaanite religion was a fertility cult and they worshiped the nature god who was supposed to help their wellbeing and give them good harvests. The Israelites departed from the true God, and followed the Canaanite religion expecting good harvests by including temple prostitution during their worship services (Hosea 9:1). Since God decided to make the land of Canaan to be “the land of the Lord” (9:3), unbelieving people had to be taken away, because Jerusalem and Israel was to be a city and a land of saints. So the Lord allowed the Israelites to be taken to Assyria as captives where they would have to live in a state similar to their former bondage in Egypt, having to eat unclean animals and live like the other people (9:3). In captivity in Assyria, they would not be allowed to worship the true God (9:4) nor celebrate the Lord’s feasts (9:5). And their houses back home would be empty and covered with weeds (9:6).
They still would not acknowledge God as their Creator and Sustainer, but did recognize that the day of recompense and judgment had come. However, they still loved the deceptive teachings of false prophets (9:7).
Hosea was the watchman of Israel, but he was hated by the priests of the golden calf worshipers, and snares were placed in all his ways (9:8). As the wicked people of Gibeah abused the Levite’s concubine (Judges 19), that’s how abominable and corrupted the whole of northern Israel was.
The spiritual condition of Israel during their stay in the wilderness was like the first fruits of grapes and early figs. However, at the end of their 40 years in the wilderness they began worshipping Baal-peor (9:10). The glory of Israel would fly away like a bird (9:11a). God would have to teach the people of Israel that He was the true Sustainer, not Baal. So God prevented the increase of births and cattle. Only then they would realize that there are no continued blessings when their Sustainer and Guardian departs from them (9:11b-12).
The prophet Hosea knew that the destruction of Samaria and the captivity of northern Israel were unavoidable. At the time of deportation of the people of Israel to Assyria, their babies would be killed by the Assyrian murderers (9:13b). So Hosea requested that God would prevent mothers from having children before the day of invasion and deportation.
Help us, Lord, that we may learn from the history of Israel and recognize that You are our Creator and Sustainer all the time.
Yoshitaka Kobayashi, Ph.D.