New Defender's Study Bible Notes
4:6 lack of knowledge. When people lack the knowledge of God, it is because they have rejected the knowledge already received, which could have led them to God. “Unto you that hear shall more be given” (Mark 4:24).
4:9 like people, like priest. One of the great tragedies in the long war against God has been the defection of so many religious leaders from the true Word of God, leading their people into compromise and apostasy. This, sadly, is as true in modern Christendom as in ancient Israel.
4:12 their stocks, and their staff. The stocks were idols made of wood (compare Jeremiah 2:27). The “staff” may be a divining rod, such as many have used since ancient times to “witch” for water or metals in the earth. Perhaps more likely, it is synonymous with “stock.”
4:15 Beth-aven. The town of Beth-aven (meaning “house of vanities”) had long been a center of idol worship and immorality. The northern kingdom had become enamored of it, and Hosea was warning Judah not to do the same. The same had become true of Gilgal.
4:17 Ephraim. Ephraim, as the largest and strongest of the ten tribes in the northern kingdom of Israel, is referred to as synonymous with all Israel. By this time, all ten of these tribes were so consumed by idolatry that they were beyond hope of revival. As a result, God instructed Hosea and other prophets to quit trying (compare Genesis 6:3). Their remaining burden was to call Judah to retain her faith in the true God (Hosea 4:15) rather than following Israel.