“Therefore (because the woman says this), behold, thus will I hedge up thy way with thorns, and wall up a wall, and she shall not find her paths.” The hedging up of the way, strengthened by the similar figure of the building of a wall to cut off the way, denotes her transportation into a situation in which she could no longer continue her adultery with the idols. The reference is to distress and tribulation (compare Hos 5:15 with Deu 4:30; Job 3:23; Job 19:8; Lam 3:7), especially the distress and anguish of exile, in which, although Israel was in the midst of idolatrous nations, and therefore had even more outward opportunity to practise idolatry, it learned the worthlessness of all trust in idols, and their utter inability to help, and was thus impelled to reflect and turn to the Lord, who smites and heals (Hos 6:1).
This thought is carried out still further in Hos 2:7 : “And she will pursue her lovers, and not overtake them; and seek them, and not find them: and will say, I will go and return to my first husband, for it was better with me then than now.” Distress at first increases their zeal in idolatry, but it soon brings them to see that the idols afford no help. The failure to reach or find the lovers, who are sought with zeal (riddēph, piel in an intensive sense, to pursue eagerly), denotes the failure to secure what is sought from them, viz., the anticipated deliverance from the calamity, which the living God has sent as a punishment. This sad experience awakens the desire to return to the faithful covenant God, and the acknowledgment that prosperity and all good things are to be found in vital fellowship with Him.
The thought that God will fill the idolatrous nation with disgust at its coquetry with strange gods, by taking away all its possessions, and thus putting to shame its delusive fancy that the possessions which it enjoyed really came from the idols, is still further expanded in the second strophe, commencing with the eighth verse. Hos 2:8. “And she knows not that I have given her the corn, and the must, and the oil, and have multiplied silver to her, and gold, which they have used for Baal.” Corn, must, and oil are specified with the definite article as being the fruits of the land, which Israel received from year to year. These possessions were the foundation of the nation's wealth, through which gold and silver were multiplied. Ignorance of the fact that Jehovah was the giver of these blessings, was a sin. That Jehovah had given the land to His people, was impressed upon the minds of the people for all time, together with the recollection of the mighty acts of the Lord, by the manner in which Israel had been put in possession of Canaan; and not only had Moses again and again reminded the Israelites most solemnly that it was He who gave rain to the land, and multiplied and blessed its fruitfulness and its fruits (compare, for example, Deu 7:13; Deu 11:14-15), but this was also perpetually called to their remembrance by the law concerning the offering of the first-fruits at the feasts. The words ‛âsū labba‛al are to be taken as a relative clause without 'asher, though not in the sense of “which they have made into Baal,” i.e., out of which they have made Baal-images (Chald., Rabb., Hitzig, Ewald, and others); for even though עָשָׂה לְ occurs in this sense in Isa 44:17, the article, which is wanting in Isaiah, and also in Gen 12:2 and Exo 32:10, precludes such an explanation here, apart from the fact that habba‛al cannot stand by itself for a statue of Baal. Here עָשָׂה לְ has rather the general meaning “apply to anything,” just as in 2Ch 24:7, where it occurs in a perfectly similar train of thought. This use of the word may be obtained from the meaning “to prepare for anything,” whereas the meaning “to offer,” which Gesenius adopts (“which they have offered to Baal”), is untenable, since עָשָׂה simply denotes the preparation of the sacrifice for the altar, which is out of the question in the case of silver and gold. They had applied their gold and silver to Baal, however, not merely by using them for the preparation of idols, but by employing them in the maintenance and extension of the worship of Baal, or even by regarding them as gifts of Baal, and thus confirming themselves in the zealous worship of that god. By habba'al we are not simply to understand the Canaanitish or Phoenician Baal in the stricter sense of the word, whose worship Jehu had exterminated from Israel, though not entirely, as is evident from the allusion to an Asherah in Samaria in the reign of Jehoahaz (2Ki 13:6); but Baal is a general expression for all idols, including the golden calves, which are called other gods in 1Ki 14:9, and compared to actual idols.