12 Ephraim feeds on the wind
and pursues the east wind all day long;
they multiply falsehood and violence;
they make a covenant with Assyria,
and oil is carried to Egypt.
The Lord’s Indictment of Israel and Judah
The LORD has an indictment against Judah
and will punish Jacob according to his ways;
he will repay him according to his deeds.
In the womb he took his brother by the heel,
and in his manhood he strove with God.
He strove with the angel and prevailed;
he wept and sought his favor.
He met God at Bethel,
and there God spoke with us—
the LORD, the God of hosts,
the LORD is his memorial name:
“So you, by the help of your God, return,
hold fast to love and justice,
and wait continually for your God.”
A merchant, in whose hands are false balances,
he loves to oppress.
Ephraim has said, “Ah, but I am rich;
I have found wealth for myself;
in all my labors they cannot find in me iniquity or sin.”
I am the LORD your God
from the land of Egypt;
I will again make you dwell in tents,
as in the days of the appointed feast.
I spoke to the prophets;
it was I who multiplied visions,
and through the prophets gave parables.
If there is iniquity in Gilead,
they shall surely come to nothing:
in Gilgal they sacrifice bulls;
their altars also are like stone heaps
on the furrows of the field.
Jacob fled to the land of Aram;
there Israel served for a wife,
and for a wife he guarded sheep.
By a prophet the LORD brought Israel up from Egypt,
and by a prophet he was guarded.
Ephraim has given bitter provocation;
so his Lord will leave his bloodguilt on him
and will repay him for his disgraceful deeds.
Hosea 12 Commentary
by Hank Workman
From the womb he was contentious. Wrestling with his brother it would become a standard for his life. Jacob would be the second twin birthed but as God had given a word of his placement, he would be over his brother Esau. Even from birth, he was grabbing Esau’s heel as he came into this world. It was like his first breath as a child marked his life for the type of child, man and ultimately patriarch of Israel he would become. Through deceit, he stole the blessing and inheritance from his brother. When the gig was up, he ran to the furthest place in hopes of sustaining his life. Jacob married and settled in another land where he began his incredible lineage. But in time the Spirit of God prompted him to return to his homeland. The problem was he faced his brother whom many years could have simmered that hatred. On the eve of his arrival, he wrestled once again. This time it was with the Lord. Through tears and hardship, Jacob surrendered his life and the outcome he could do nothing about. He sought God’s favor and held tightly to Him in that physical wrestling match, never to be the same when dawn broke.
The story of Jacob is referenced through Hosea as the Lord reminds the people of their hard-heartedness and determination to make their own decisions. Much like Jacob, they are following in their ancestor’s footsteps. As Jacob was brought to his knees that starry night on the edge of the river, so they would be as well. But the rest of the story of Jacob’s life would also bring a hope to the people as God blessed Jacob over and over again. His love ran deep and did so for them. Although they were so self-absorbed in every aspect of their lives, brokenness would lead them home.
God had to break this strong-willed child Jacob through hardship and heartache. God was doing the same with His people as a whole. And God does the same today. The reminder of Jacob’s story was a challenge to wrestle with Him for His ultimate blessing. Even in their own selfishness, God would prevail. He would meet them where they were and grapple with them but the challenge was to cling to Him and not let go until His blessing came.
“What are you waiting for? Return to your God! Commit yourself in love, in justice! Wait for your God, and don’t give up on him – ever!”Hosea 12:1 The Message
God loves us enough to wrestle us to the ground. He loves us enough to allow heartache and hardship to mark our days when we’ve strayed from him. He loves us enough to do whatever it takes to break the selfishness and self-absorption of our mindset. He did this with Jacob. He did it with the people of Israel. And He may be doing it with you at this juncture of your life.
Hosea 12 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
“It is interesting to note that today medicine and psychology have said that probably the most important period of a man’s life is when he is in the womb, because even in the womb character is being formed as well as the human body. This little fellow Jacob began to reveal something in the womb—he revealed that he wanted to be the firstborn. Although Esau beat him out, Jacob wanted to be the firstborn. I do not know how to explain it other than to say that it was in his heart from the very beginning. He wrestled at his birth, and God had to wrestle with him later on in his life at Peniel to bring him to submission so that He would be able to bless him.”J. Vernon McGee
The book of Hosea is all about rebellion and restoration. But, before restoration can occur, there must be submission. This is a theme Jacob understood well. His life was full of deceit and struggle. He struggled at birth with Esau. He struggled with Laban in Genesis 31. Right before his reunification and breakthrough with his brother, Esau, he would encounter the greatest struggle of his life. He wrestled with God.
Though his hip was struck out of socket, he would not let go of the Lord. Just like he had once grasped at his brother’s heel, he now clung to the living God. There was nothing else he could do!
And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. 25 When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 26 Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”Genesis 32:24-26 ESV
Initially, Jacob didn’t want anything from God. It was this man (most likely Jesus) who instigated this wrestling match. God wanted something from Jacob, and He was prepared to take it by force if necessary. The story is a beautiful metaphor for the human condition that wrestles with God and honestly many times believes it can win. In the end, God will have His way and we will be forced to acknowledge His greatness just as Jacob did.
“Hosea draws a lesson from the life of Jacob, the father of the nation. Jacob’s greedy, self-reliant, and deceitful character was evident from birth when he grabbed the heel of his brother Esau (Gen 25:26). The climactic event in Jacob’s spiritual growth was his wrestling match with God the night before he was reunited with his brother. Jacob acknowledged his dependence on God, begged for divine favor, and received a blessing.”Nelson’s Commentary