The Meaning of Hosea 4:17 Explained

Hosea 4:17

KJV: Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone.

YLT: Joined to idols is Ephraim, let him alone.

Darby: Ephraim is joined to idols: leave him alone.

ASV: Ephraim is joined to idols; let him alone.

What does Hosea 4:17 Mean?

Verse Meaning

Since Ephraim (lit. fruitful), the largest tribe in the Northern Kingdom that stood for the whole nation, had abandoned her Shepherd for idols, He called others to leave her alone also. He would abandon her to the judgment that would come inevitably from pursuing sin (cf. Romans 1:18-32). Ephraim had become incorrigible.
"By referring to the North as Ephraim Hosea reminds Israel that, as we saw in the story of Jeroboam I, it owed its very existence to Ephraim"s jealousy of Judah with its God-given institutions of the Jerusalem temple and the Davidic monarchy." [1]

Context Summary

Hosea 4:11-19 - "joined To Idols"
The prophet does not mince his words in describing the morals of his time. We are reminded of Bunyan's words: "My original and inward pollution was my plague. It was always putting itself forth in me, and I was more loathsome in my own eyes than a toad, and I thought I was in God's eyes also. Corruption bubbled up in my heart as naturally as water in a fountain, and I thought that everyone had a better heart than I." Of course in Christ "we have redemption through His blood," and that means more than forgiveness; it implies the deliverance of the soul from the love and power of evil. But if the soul of man refuses this, obstinately and persistently, a time arrives when God gives him up to reap as he has sown.
The greatest gift we can make to our generation is that of unblemished character. Sir Leslie Stephen, the brilliant agnostic, in his mature life, went back to the grave of an undergraduate, who had been his pupil and had died in early life without having distinguished himself in his studies or athletics, but had lived the Christian life with transparent simplicity and lovableness. [source]

Chapter Summary: Hosea 4

1  God denounces judgments on Israel, for their aggravated impieties and iniquities
12  He exposes the ignorance and wickedness of the priests,
13  and moral dissolution of the people,
14  he will leave their wives and daughters to commit lewdness, without present punishment
15  He warns Judah, not to imitate Israel's crimes, which are still further reproved

What do the individual words in Hosea 4:17 mean?

Joined to idols Ephraim [is] let alone him
חֲב֧וּר עֲצַבִּ֛ים אֶפְרָ֖יִם הַֽנַּֽח־ לֽוֹ

חֲב֧וּר  Joined  to 
Parse: Verb, Qal, QalPassParticiple, masculine singular construct
Root: הִתְחַבְּרוּת 
Sense: to unite, join, bind together, be joined, be coupled, be in league, heap up, have fellowship with, be compact, be a charmer.
עֲצַבִּ֛ים  idols 
Parse: Noun, masculine plural
Root: עָצָב  
Sense: idol, image.
אֶפְרָ֖יִם  Ephraim  [is] 
Parse: Proper Noun, masculine singular
Root: אֶפְרַיִם  
Sense: second son of Joseph, blessed by him and given preference over first son, Manasseh.
הַֽנַּֽח־  let  alone 
Parse: Verb, Hifil, Imperative, masculine singular
Root: מֻנָּח  
Sense: to rest.