Why is the valley of Achor said to be a door of hope in Hosea 2:15? By Jack Kettler
“And I will give her, her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.” (Hosea 2:15)
Hosea prophesied during the latter half of the eighth century B.C. (753–722). The time period was a very difficult time in Israel’s history. The setting is right before the Northern Kingdom went into exile.
Hosea’s addressees were the Northern Kingdom. Israel is mentioned numerous times in the book. The burden of Hosea’s prophecy was to see Israel repent and turn back to God.
The reader learns about Hosea’s family in chapter 1:1-3:5. God ordered Hosea to marry an adulterous wife. It is recorded that his wife Gomer was a “whore” in Hosea 1:3. Hosea’s children were each given a symbolic name representative of the ominous prophetic message. Warnings and promises for Israel are covered in chapters 4:1-14:9.
Hosea describes Israel’s unfaithfulness. God uses this symbolism to say that Israel is like a licentious wife. However, Israel’s unfaithfulness is not enough to deplete God’s redeeming love. Israel remained God’s chosen people.
In Hosea 2:15, the valley of Achor is mentioned and historically means trouble. So how can Hosea now say it is a door of hope?
The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges answers this question:
“15. I will give her, her vineyards from thence] So soon as she has left the wilderness (‘from thence’), Jehovah will restore to her the vineyards which he had taken away (Hosea 2:12).”
“the valley of Achor for a door of hope] Whereas the first Israelites had to call their first encampment after crossing the Jordan the valley of Achor or ‘Troubling’ (Joshua 7:26), their descendants shall find the same spot a starting point for a career of success. Another prophet praises the same valley for its fertility (Isaiah 65:10).”
“she shall sing there] Or, ‘thereupon’. Alluding to the songs of Moses and Miriam in Exodus 15:1 (see Hosea 2:21, where, as St Jerome with Jewish writers points out, the same verb is used of Miriam’s ‘answering’ the song of Moses). But antiphonal singing is not suitable here, and much less in Hosea 2:23-23 (where A. V. arbitrarily alters the rendering of the verb). Render, she shall respond there Theod. ἀποκριθήσεται, Aq. ὑπακούσει, which however St Jerome explains, ‘præcinentibus respondebit concinens’. The heart of Israel shall be softened, and she shall be responsive to the divine call, as in ‘the days of her youth’ (comp. Jeremiah 2:2), when she came out of Egypt.” (1)
Isaiah describes the blessings God will bestow upon Israel in the valley of Achor.
“And Sharon shall be a fold of flocks, and the valley of Achor a place for the herds to lie down in, for my people that have sought me.” (Isaiah 65:10)
Matthew Poole's Commentary agrees and further elaborates:
“And I, reconciled to her, will give her, her vineyards; will both settle her, and abundantly enrich her with blessings, as the phrase implieth.
“From thence; either from the place of their exile and sufferings, or from the time of their hearkening to the Lord speaking to them in their distresses and sorrows; or if it refer to Hosea 2:12, it is a promise to comfort them under that threat which swept away the blessings of vines mid fig trees in their own land, and here is a promise of vineyards to them from the time of their repentance, and from the place where they are captives.”
“The valley of Achor; which was a large, fruitful, and pleasant valley near Jericho, and on the very entrance into the land of Canaan, where after forty years’ travels and sorrows Israel first set foot on a country such as they expected.”
“For a door of hope: as that valley was a door of hope to Israel then, by that Israel saw that he should enjoy the Promised Land; so, would God deal with repenting Israel in the times here pointed at.”
“She shall sing praises to their God for his mercies, and sing forth their own joys too, and answer each other, sing in responses, as the word signifieth.”
“As in the days of her youth: as that age is most jocund, and expresseth it by singing, so shall it be as renewed youth to Israel, full of blessings from God, and full of praises to God.”
“When she came up out of the land of Egypt: this passage explains the former; their youth is a time somewhat like the time of their coming out of Egypt, their mercies now like the mercies of that time, and their joys and songs shall be like too. However, these things were fulfilled to the type, whose repentance and return to God is not very eminent, they are all fully made good to antitype Israel, the church of Christ, in spiritual blessings, chiefly here intended.” (2)
Barnes' Notes on the Bible in greater detail explains the Messianic blessings that will be poured out upon the faithful of Israel:
“And I will give her, her vineyards from thence - God's mercies are not only in word, but indeed. He not only speaks to her heart, but he restores to her what He had taken from her. He promises, not only to reverse His sentence, but that He would make the sorrow itself the source of the joy. He says, I will give her back her vineyards “thence,” i. e., from the wilderness itself; as elsewhere, He says, “The wilderness shall be a fruitful field” Isaiah 32:15. Desolation shall be the means of her restored inheritance and joy in God. Through fire and drought are the new flagons dried and prepared, into which the new wine of the Gospel is poured.”
“And the valley of Achor for a door of hope - (Literally, “troubling”). As, at the first taking possession of the promised land, Israel learned through the transgression and punishment of Achan, to stand in awe of God, and thenceforth, all went well with them, when they had wholly freed themselves from the accursed thing, so to them shall “sorrow be turned into joy, and hope dawn there, where there had been despair.” “Therefore, only had they to endure chastisements, that through them they might attain blessings.” It was through the punishment of those who “troubled” the true “Israel,” the destruction of Jerusalem, that to the Apostles and the rest who believed, the hope of victory over the whole world was opened. “Hope.” The word more fully means, a “patient, enduring longing.” To each returning soul, “the valley of trouble,” or the lowliness of repentance, becometh a door of patient longing, not in itself, but because “God giveth” it to be so; a longing which “reacheth on, awaiteth on,” entering within the veil, and bound first to the Throne of God. But then only, when none of the “accursed thing” Joshua 7:11-15 cleaveth to it, when it has no reserves with God, and retains nothing for itself, which God hath condemned.”
“And she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth - The song is a responsive song, choir answering choir, each stirring up the other to praise, and praise echoing praise, as Israel did after the deliverance at the Red Sea. "Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the Lord. I will sing unto the Lord, for He hath triumphed gloriously. And Miriam the prophetess the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel, and all the women went out after her. And Miriam answered them, sing ye to the Lord, for He hath triumphed gloriously" Exodus 15:1, Exodus 15:20-21. So the Seraphim sing one to another, holy, holy, holy Isaiah 6:3; so Paul exhorts Christians "to admonish one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in their hearts to the Lord" Colossians 3:16; so the Jewish psalmody passed into the Christian Church, and the blessed in heaven, having on the Cross passed the troublesome sea of this world, "sing the new song of Moses and of the Lamb" Revelation 15:3.”
“She shall sing there - Where? There, where he “allureth” her, where He leadeth her, where He “speaketh to her heart,” where He in worketh in her that hope. There, shall she sing, there, give praise and thanks.”
“As in the days of her youth - Her “youth” is explained, in what follows, to be “the days when she came up out of the land of Egypt,” when she was first born to the knowledge of her God, when the past idolatries had been forgiven and cut off; and she had all the freshness of new life, and had not yet wasted it by rebellion and sin. Then God first called “Israel, My firstborn son. My son, My firstborn” Exodus 4:22. “She came up” into the land which God chose, out of Egypt, since we “go up” to God and to things above; as, on the other hand, the prophet says, “Woe to those who go down to Egypt” Isaiah 31:1, for the aids of this world; and the man who was wounded, the picture of the human race, was “going down from Jerusalem to Jericho” (Luke 10:30; see the note above at Hosea 1:11).” (3)
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)
1. Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges, by, by T. K. Cheyne, Hosea, (Cambridge University Press, 1898), e-Sword version.
2. Matthew Poole's Commentary on the Holy Bible, Hosea, Vol. 2, (Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson Publishers, 1985) p. 855-856.
3. Albert Barnes, THE AGES DIGITAL LIBRARYCOMMENTARY, Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, Hosea, Vol. 10 p. 52.
Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of books defending the Reformed Faith. Books can be ordered online at: https://www.amazon.com/Books-Jack-Kettler/s?rh=n%3A283155%2Cp_27%3AJack+Kettler