Hosea 4:12
Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
My people consult a wooden idol, and a diviner's rod speaks to them. A spirit of prostitution leads them astray; they are unfaithful to their God.

New Living Translation
They ask a piece of wood for advice! They think a stick can tell them the future! Longing after idols has made them foolish. They have played the prostitute, serving other gods and deserting their God.

English Standard Version
My people inquire of a piece of wood, and their walking staff gives them oracles. For a spirit of whoredom has led them astray, and they have left their God to play the whore.

New American Standard Bible
My people consult their wooden idol, and their diviner's wand informs them; For a spirit of harlotry has led them astray, And they have played the harlot, departing from their God.

King James Bible
My people ask counsel at their stocks, and their staff declareth unto them: for the spirit of whoredoms hath caused them to err, and they have gone a whoring from under their God.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
My people consult their wooden idols, and their divining rods inform them. For a spirit of promiscuity leads them astray; they act promiscuously in disobedience to their God.

International Standard Version
My people seek counsel from their piece of wood, and their diviner's rod speaks to them. For a spirit of prostitution causes them to go astray; in their immorality they desert their God.

NET Bible
They consult their wooden idols, and their diviner's staff answers with an oracle. The wind of prostitution blows them astray; they commit spiritual adultery against their God.

New Heart English Bible
My people consult with their wooden idol, and answer to a stick of wood. Indeed the spirit of prostitution has led them astray, and they have been unfaithful to their God.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
My people ask their wooden idols for help. A piece of wood tells them what to do. A spirit of prostitution leads them astray. They commit adultery by giving themselves to other gods.

JPS Tanakh 1917
My people ask counsel at their stock, And their staff declareth unto them; For the spirit of harlotry hath caused them to err, And they have gone astray from under their God.

New American Standard 1977
My people consult their wooden idol, and their diviner’s wand informs them;
            For a spirit of harlotry has led them astray,
            And they have played the harlot, departing from their God.

Jubilee Bible 2000
My people ask counsel of their wooden idol, and their stick declares unto them; for the spirit of whoredoms has caused them to err, and they have gone a whoring under their gods.

King James 2000 Bible
My people ask counsel of their idols of wood, and their staff advises unto them: for the spirit of harlotry has caused them to err, and they have played the harlot against their God.

American King James Version
My people ask counsel at their stocks, and their staff declares to them: for the spirit of prostitutions has caused them to err, and they have gone a whoring from under their God.

American Standard Version
My people ask counsel at their stock, and their staff declareth unto them; for the spirit of whoredom hath caused them to err, and they have played the harlot, departing from under their God.

Douay-Rheims Bible
My people have consulted their stocks, and their staff hath declared unto them: for the spirit of fornication hath deceived them, and they have committed fornication against their God.

Darby Bible Translation
My people ask counsel of their stock, and their staff declareth unto them; for the spirit of whoredoms causeth [them] to err, and they have gone a whoring from under their God:

English Revised Version
My people ask counsel at their stock, and their staff declareth unto them: for the spirit of whoredom hath caused them to err, and they have gone a whoring from under their God.

Webster's Bible Translation
My people ask counsel at their stocks, and their staff declareth to them: for the spirit of lewdness hath caused them to err, and they have gone astray from under their God.

World English Bible
My people consult with their wooden idol, and answer to a stick of wood. Indeed the spirit of prostitution has led them astray, and they have been unfaithful to their God.

Young's Literal Translation
My people at its staff asketh and its rod declareth to it, For a spirit of whoredoms hath caused to err, And they go a-whoring from under their God.
Study Bible
God's Charges against Israel
11Harlotry, wine and new wine take away the understanding. 12My people consult their wooden idol, and their diviner's wand informs them; For a spirit of harlotry has led them astray, And they have played the harlot, departing from their God. 13They offer sacrifices on the tops of the mountains And burn incense on the hills, Under oak, poplar and terebinth, Because their shade is pleasant. Therefore your daughters play the harlot And your brides commit adultery.…
Cross References
Psalm 73:27
For, behold, those who are far from You will perish; You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You.

Psalm 106:39
Thus they became unclean in their practices, And played the harlot in their deeds.

Isaiah 44:19
No one recalls, nor is there knowledge or understanding to say, "I have burned half of it in the fire and also have baked bread over its coals. I roast meat and eat it. Then I make the rest of it into an abomination, I fall down before a block of wood!"

Isaiah 44:20
He feeds on ashes; a deceived heart has turned him aside. And he cannot deliver himself, nor say, "Is there not a lie in my right hand?"

Jeremiah 2:27
Who say to a tree, 'You are my father,' And to a stone, 'You gave me birth.' For they have turned their back to Me, And not their face; But in the time of their trouble they will say, 'Arise and save us.'

Hosea 5:4
Their deeds will not allow them To return to their God. For a spirit of harlotry is within them, And they do not know the LORD.

Hosea 9:1
Do not rejoice, O Israel, with exultation like the nations! For you have played the harlot, forsaking your God. You have loved harlots' earnings on every threshing floor.

Hosea 14:3
"Assyria will not save us, We will not ride on horses; Nor will we say again, 'Our god,' To the work of our hands; For in You the orphan finds mercy."
Treasury of Scripture

My people ask counsel at their stocks, and their staff declares to them: for the spirit of prostitutions has caused them to err, and they have gone a whoring from under their God.

ask.

Jeremiah 2:27 Saying to a stock, You are my father; and to a stone, You have brought …

Jeremiah 10:8 But they are altogether brutish and foolish: the stock is a doctrine …

Ezekiel 21:21 For the king of Babylon stood at the parting of the way, at the head …

Habakkuk 2:19 Woe to him that said to the wood, Awake; to the dumb stone, Arise, …

for.

Hosea 5:4 They will not frame their doings to turn to their God: for the spirit …

Isaiah 44:18-20 They have not known nor understood: for he has shut their eyes, that …

Micah 2:11 If a man walking in the spirit and falsehood do lie, saying, I will …

2 Thessalonians 2:9-11 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power …

gone.

Hosea 9:1 Rejoice not, O Israel, for joy, as other people: for you have gone …

Leviticus 17:7 And they shall no more offer their sacrifices to devils, after whom …

Leviticus 20:5 Then I will set my face against that man, and against his family, …

Numbers 15:39 And it shall be to you for a fringe, that you may look on it, and …

Deuteronomy 31:16 And the LORD said to Moses, Behold, you shall sleep with your fathers; …

2 Chronicles 21:13 But have walked in the way of the kings of Israel, and have made …

Psalm 73:27 For, see, they that are far from you shall perish: you have destroyed …

Jeremiah 3:1-3 They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become …

Ezekiel 16:1-63 Again the word of the LORD came to me, saying…

Ezekiel 23:1-49 The word of the LORD came again to me, saying…

(12) Their stocks.--Blocks of wood fashioned into idols (Heb., his wood, the collective singular being maintained).

Their staff.--Cyril regarded this as referring to divinations by means of rods (????????????), which were placed upright, and after the repetition of incantations, allowed to fall, the forecast of the future being interpreted from the manner in which they fell. But perhaps the "staff" may refer, like the "stocks," to the idol itself. The Canaanite goddess Asherah was worshipped under this form.

Verses 12-14. - The first of these verses exhibits the private life of the people as depraved by sin and folly; the second their public life as degraded by idolatry and lewdness; while the third points to the corresponding chastisement and its cause. My people ask counsel at their stocks (literally, wood), and their staff declareth unto them. Rashi explains "stocks," or literally, "wood," to mean "a graven image made out of wood;" while Aben Ezra prefaces his exposition of this by an observation which serves well as a link of connection between the eleventh and twelfth verses. It is as follows: "The sign that they are in reality without heart, is that my people turn to ask counsel of its stocks and wood." Kimchi not inaptly remarks, "They are like the blind man to whom his staff points out the way in which he should go." The stupidity of idolatry and the sin of divination are here combined. By the "wood" is meant an idol carved out of wood; while the staff may likewise have an image carved at the top for idolatrous purposes, or it may denote mode of divination by a staff which by the way it fell determined their course. Theophylaet explains this method of divination as follows: "They set up two rods, and muttered some verses and enchantments; and then the rods falling through the influence of demons, they considered how they fell, whether forward or backward, to the right or the left, and so gave answers to the foolish people, using the fall of the rods for signs." Cyril, who attributes the invention of rabdomancy to the Chaldeans, gives the same account of this method of divination. Herodotus mentions a mode of divination prevalent among the Scythians by means of willow rods; and Tacitus informs us that the Germans divined by a rod cut from a fruit-bearing tree. "They (the Germans) cut a twig from a fruit tree, and divide it into small pieces, which, distinguished by certain marks, are thrown promiscuously on a white garment. Then the priest or 'the canton, it' the occasion be public - if private, the master of the family - after an invocation of the gods, with his eyes lifted up to heaven, thrice takes out each piece, and as they come up, interprets their signification according to the marks fixed upon them." The sin and folly of any people consulting an idol of wood about the success or otherwise of an undertaking, or deciding whether by a species of teraphim or staff divination, is sufficiently obvious. But the great aggravation of Israel's sin arose from the circumstance not obscurely hinted by the possessive "my" attached to "people." That a people like Israel, whom God had chosen from among the nations of the earth and distinguished by special tokens of Divine favor, and to whom he had given the ephod with the truly oracular Urim and Thummim, should forsake him and the means he had given them of knowing his will, and turn aside to gods of wood, evinced at once stupidity unaccountable and sin inexcusable. "The prophet," says Calvin, "calls here the Israelites the people of God, not to honor them, but rather to increase their sin; for the more heinous was the perfidy of the people, that, having been chosen, they had afterwards forsaken their heavenly Father.... Now this people, that ought to be mine, consult their own wood, and their staff answers them!" For the spirit of whoredoms hath caused them to err, and they have gone a-whoring from under their God. In this part of the verse the prophet attempts to account for the extreme folly and heinous sin of Israel, as described in the first clause. It was an evil spirit, some demoniac power, that had inspired them with an insuperable fondness for idolatry, which in prophetic language is spiritual adultery. The consequence was a sad departure from the true God and a sinful wandering away from his worship, notwithstanding his amazing condescension and love by which he placed himself in the relation of a husband towards them. My people ask counsel at their stocks,.... Or "at his wood" (a), or stick; his wooden image, as the Targum; their wooden gods, their idols made of wood, mere stocks and blocks, without life or sense, and much less reason and understanding, and still less divinity. Reference is here had either to the matter of which an idol was made, being the trunk of a tree, or a block of wood; as the poet (b) introduces Priapus saying, "olim truncus eram ficulnus, inutile lignum": or to sticks of wood themselves, without being put into any form or shape; for so it is reported (c), that the ancient idolaters used to receive for gods, with great veneration, trees or pieces of wood, having the bark taken off; particularly the Carians worshipped for Diana a piece of wood, not hewed, squared, or planed (d): though the first seems rather to be the sense here; and either was extremely foolish. And yet such was the stupidity of this people, whom God had formerly chose for his people and had distinguished them by his favours from others, and they had professed themselves to be his people, and as yet were not utterly cast off, as to forsake him and his divine oracles, and all methods of knowing his will; as to ask counsel of such wooden deities in matters of moment and difficulty, what should be done by them, or concerning things to come.

And their staff declareth unto them; what methods are to be taken by them in the present case, or what shall come to pass, as they fancy; that is, either their idol, made of a staff or stick of wood, or a little image carried on a staff; such as probably were the teraphim they consulted, instead of the Urim and Thummim; and imagined they declared to them what they should do, or what would befall them. Kimchi's father interprets it of the false prophets on whom they depended, and whose declarations they received as oracles. Perhaps some respect is had to a sort of divination used among the Heathens by rods and staves, called "rhabdomancy", which the Jews had learnt of them; like that by arrows used by Nebuchadnezzar, Ezekiel 21:21. This was performed by setting up a stick or staff, and as that fell, so they judged and determined what was to be done. The manner, according to Theophylact on the place, was this,

"they set up two rods, and muttered some verses and enchantments; and then the rods falling through the influence of demons, they considered how they fell, whether forward or backward, to the right or the left; and so gave answers to the foolish people, using the fall of the rods for signs.''

The Jews take this to be forbid by that negative precept, Deuteronomy 18:10, "there shall not be found among you any that useth divination". So Jarchi and Baal Hatturim on that text explain a diviner by one that holds his staff; and the former adds and says, shall I go, or shall I not go? as it is said, "my people ask counsel at their stocks", &c.; the manner of which they thus describe (e),

"when they are about to go on a journey, they inquire before they set out, i.e. whether it will be prosperous or not; and the diviner takes a branch of a tree, and takes off the bark on one side, and leaves it on the other, and then throws it out of his hand; if, when it falls, the bark is uppermost, he says, this is a man; then he casts it again, and if the white is uppermost, this is a woman; to a man, and after that a woman, this is a good sign, and he goes his journey, or does what be desires to do: but if the white appears first, and after that the bark, then he says, to a woman, and after that a man, and he forbears (that is, to go on his journey, or do what he desired): but if the bark is uppermost in both (throws), or the white uppermost in both, to a man after a man, and a woman after a woman, then his journey (as to the success of it) is between both; and so they say they do in the land of Slavonia.''

And from the Slavonians, Grotius says, the Germans took this way of divination, of which Tacitus (f) gives an account; and it seems by him that the Chaldeans also had it, from whom the Jews might have it. This way of divination by the staff is a little differently given in Hascuni: (g) the diviner measures his staff with his finger, or with his hand; one time he says, I will go; another time, I will not go; but if it happens, at the end of the staff, I will not go, he goes not.

For the spirit of whoredom hath caused them to err; a violent inclination and bias of mind to idolatry, which is spiritual adultery, and a strong affection for it, stirred up by an evil spirit, the devil; which so wrought upon them, and influenced them, as to cause them to wander from the true God, and his worship, as follows:

and they have gone a whoring from under their God; or

"erred from the worship of their God,''

as the Targum; from the true God, who stood in the relation of a husband to them; but, led by a spirit of error, they departed from him, and committed spiritual adultery, that is, idolatry; which is explained and enlarged upon in the next verse.

(a) "in ligno suo", V. L. Montanus, Calvin; "liguum suum", Pagninus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. (b) Horat. Sermon. l. 1. Satyr. 8. (c) Alexand. ab Alex. Genial. Dier. l. 6. c. 26. (d) Arnobius adv. Gentes, l. 6. p. 232. (e) Moses Kotsensis praecept. neg. 52. (f) De Moribus German. c. 10. (g) Apud Drusium in Deuteronomy 18.10. 12. Instances of their understanding ("heart") being "taken away."

stocks—wooden idols (Jer 2:27; Hab 2:19).

staff—alluding to divination by rods (see on [1119]Eze 21:21, 22). The diviner, says Rosenmuller, threw a rod from him, which was stripped of its bark on one side, not on the other: if the bare side turned uppermost, it was a good omen; if the side with the bark, it was a bad omen. The Arabs used two rods, the one marked God bids, the other, God forbids; whichever came out first, in drawing them out of a case, gave the omen for, or against, an undertaking.

declareth—that is, is consulted to inform them of future events.

spirit of whoredoms—a general disposition on the part of all towards idolatry (Ho 5:4).

err—go astray from the true God.

from under their God—They have gone away from God under whom they were, as a wife is under the dominion of her husband.4:12-19 The people consulted images, and not the Divine word. This would lead to disorder and sin. Thus men prepare scourges for themselves, and vice is spread through a people. Let not Judah come near the idolatrous worship of Israel. For Israel was devoted to idols, and must now be let alone. When sinners cast off the easy yoke of Christ, they go on in sin till the Lord saith, Let them alone. Then they receive no more warnings, feel no more convictions: Satan takes full possession of them, and they ripen for destruction. It is a sad and sore judgment for any man to be let alone in sin. Those who are not disturbed in their sin, will be destroyed for their sin. May we be kept from this awful state; for the wrath of God, like a strong tempest, will soon hurry impenitent sinners into ruin.
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OT Prophets: Hosea 4:12 My people consult with their wooden idol (Ho Hs Hos.) Christian Bible Study Resources, Dictionary, Concordance and Search Tools
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