Hosea 14:5-7 NIV

5 I will be like the dew to Israel; he will blossom like a lily. Like a cedar of Lebanon, he will send down his roots; 6 his young shoots will grow. His splendor will be like an olive tree, his fragrance like a cedar of Lebanon. 7 People will dwell again in his shade; they will flourish like the grain, they will blossom like the vine—Israel’s fame will be like the wine of Lebanon.

In the Song of Songs, the imagery of dew symbolizes freshness ('hours of dawn' in 5:2), Sensuality and Intimacy ('dripping with myrrh' in 5:13), Beauty (often connected to 'lilies' as in 7:2)

The lily, a symbol of purity and beauty, is mentioned eight times in 2:1-2, 4:5, 5:13, 6:2-3 and 7:2-3, contributing to the theme of natural grace and elegance throughout the text.

The majestic Cedar of Lebanon is celebrated in 1:17 and 5:15, with verse 4:11 alluding to its fragrance, enriching the sensory experience depicted in the poem.

While olive tree and grain are not explicitly mentioned, the splendor of Solomon, often depicted in the Song of Songs, suggests the presence of them, an emblem of peace, prosperity and abundance.

The vine and vineyard imagery, found in 2:13, 2:15 and 7:12, conveys themes of fertility, growth and intimacy.

References to the "Wine of Lebanon" in 1:2, 1:4, 4:10, 5:1 and 7:9 evoke sensations of delight and fragrance.


Both Dan Fefferman and Anne present a compelling argument whether the prophet Hosea was aware of the Song of Songs. Let's explore this topic in more depth.

Initially, it is the word "Lilies" that prompted me to ask this question. "Lilies" are referenced in the Bible only in four occasions;

  1. As sculptures in the Holy Temple (1 Kings 7:19, 7:22, 7:26, 2 Chronicle 4:5), initiated by Solomon apparently, as there is no reference to God instructing of lily sculptures in the temple.
  2. In the Song of Songs (2:1-2, 2:16, 4:5, 5:13, 6:2-3, 7:2).
  3. In Hosea 14:5.
  4. In Matthew 6:28-29 and Luke 12:27, in which Jesus claimed that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like lilies.

If "Lilies" symbolize Solomon, could it be possible Hosea 14:5-7 serves as a reminiscence of Solomon's era? While the Song of Songs may have been written or edited at a later time, as part of the Canon, it would have been widely known among the public, possibly transmitted orally as a song.

Moreover, God instructed Hosea to love a promiscuous woman, a theme central to the Book of Hosea, which focuses on God's faithful love. Therefore, it would be fitting if the conclusion of Hosea, hinted at a renewal of the loving relationship between God and Israel, reminiscent of the intimate connection portrayed in the Song of Songs.

Please note that the Addendum is not intended as a conclusion, and all other analyses are welcome.

  • Consider the possibility that the reverse is true; that Song of Solomon is set (e.g.) in the crisis of the Babylonian exile, and nostalgically echoes Hosea. Commented Mar 15 at 9:53
  • Can I ask what you mean by "echo"? Like, do they have similar themes? Language? Imagery? Symbolism? Or, does it imply a direct influence or intentional reference by the author of Hosea to the Song of Songs?
    – Jason_
    Commented Mar 15 at 11:00
  • 1
    @Jason_ - It is about if Hosea 14:5-7 is influenced by the themes in Song of Songs Commented Mar 15 at 20:55
  • @StephenDisraeli - The Babylonian exile appears to have resulted in two distinct outcomes. The majority who stayed in exile seem to have adapted to their new lives, likely losing their connection to God along the way. Conversely, those who returned from exile, as depicted in the Book of Ezra, transformed into a law-abiding community. It is hard to imagine that this environment could foster an atmosphere akin to the intimacy and passion portrayed in the Song of Songs. Commented Mar 16 at 3:48
  • Your added edit to the Q is really good and puts the case more clearly. If I have spare time later today (questionable) I shall add an edit to my answer, acknowledging this.
    – Anne
    Commented Mar 16 at 10:32

2 Answers 2


The answer depends largely on whether or not Hosea interpreted the Song of Songs to be an allegory of God's love for Israel. Jews have often understood it that way. But we also have to wonder whether Hosea would have known the Song at all, since he prophesied more than a century prior to the Babylonian exile. According to Britannica:

The book in its present form postdates the Babylonian Exile (5th century BC onward), but the poems that it preserves date from about the 10th century BC, the period of the Davidic monarchy. The book, whose author is unknown (Solomon’s name is a later addition), is a collection of love poems spoken alternately by a man and a woman.

We need to think about these early love poems more closely. Were they, too, understood allegorically, as the later book was? More to our point, did they circulate widely enough for Hosea for have known them? After all, during this period, we have no evidence of their being read outside of the Temple, and perhaps a few very wealthy homes that had the resources to have them copied or purchased. If Hosea knew them through oral tradition, we have no way of confirming this.

Prior to Hosea, there are no references to Israel as God's wife in the Hebrew Bible. According to a study at Biblegateway.com, later such references include:

  • God’s marriage covenant with Israel Eze 16:8-14. See also Jer 31:32; Eze 16:59-60

  • God as Israel’s husband Isa 54:5, Joel 1:8

  • Israel’s early devotion: Jer 2:2 See also Eze 16:43

  • The breakdown of God’s marriage to Israel: Jer 3:20 See also Jer 2:32; Eze 16:32-34

  • The renewal of God’s marriage to Israel: God calls his bride to return Jer 3:12-14; See also Isa 54:6-8

  • The renewed relationship Isa 62:4-5 See also Jer 31:31-33; Eze 16:62

Regarding the metaphors mentioned in the OP, there are used frequently throughout the OT. We also have a chicken-and-egg issue with regard to the which came first, the Song or the other OT literature that uses metaphors such as olive trees, cedars of Lebanon, lilies, etc. Some commentators have indeed seen in them a borrowing by Hosea from the Song. However, the idea that Hosea would have been familiar enough with the Song to be influenced cannot be sustained with certainty.

Conclusion: It is highly unlikely that Hosea had a copy of Song of Songs in its present form, and even the love poems that the Song contains are not known to have circulated widely enough for him to have been influenced by them. Thus, the linkage between Hosea and the Song does not rest on solid ground, and must be considered speculative at best. Although there are certainly earlier written examples expressing God's love for and covenant with Israel, Hosea should be credited as the first writer to develop this theme in terms of a martial relationship.

  • +1. Great information! I'd be curious to know how circulated Song of Songs was to know how unlikely Hosea was to have had, read, or heard it.
    – Jason_
    Commented Mar 15 at 20:36
  • Love your views. I have edited my question to delve deeper into the topic. Could you please review it again? Commented Mar 16 at 3:10

Given that Hosea wrote his prophecy long after king Solomon had died, and that what is sometimes called "The Song of Solomon" (Song of Songs) is poetic literature, it's questionable whether he 'imported' some of its themes. The time gap, the radically different history of the nation of Israel in Hosea's era, and the prophetic nature of his writing may warrant caution.

An excellent commentary on the book of Hosea goes into those verses. The author uses his own translation (being a Hebrew scholar). I will first quote his observations on my initial caution.

"There are parts of the book of Hosea that certainly date from the days of Jeroboam. So we may reckon that Hosea's ministry lasted from about 760 to 723, a period of 37 years. His ministry in northern Israel would have been brought to an end by the time of the fall of Samaria (723)...

At different times in the story of Israel, the nation had different enemies. When Israel first invaded Canaan the main enemy was the Philistines. The days of Solomon were relatively peaceful... Hosea bears witness to a very decadent society in the last half century of the nation's existence. Loose living abounded... The leadership of the nation was corrupt. The underlying cause of all of this was corrupt religion. People worshipped the 'Baals' ...the various fertility cults had come back into Israel in Hosea's days." Hosea, Michael Eaton, pp.12-13, Christian Focus, 1996

This is so far removed from the era when Song of Songs was penned, the purpose of that poetry being totally different to Hosea's warning of God's judgments, the only connection seems to be familiarity with Hebraic language, phraseology, and understanding of symbolism.

Here is what the author says about the verses in question:

Hosea give encouraging promises in the name of God (14:4-8). God draws us with cords of love, winning us to himself with promises of what he will do for us if we turn to him. He promises that he will heal them [of their apostasy]... His anger is turned away. There will be nothing in his heart for them except love. No recriminations about their past will rise up to haunt them. It is true for us also. If we come to God through the blood of Jesus, in this way God will heal our sinful ways. He does it freely, generously. We do not have to 'deserve' it. It is more than forgiveness that he offers. He heals the actual sin itself. He works in our lives so that the power of sin is steadily and increasingly broken. He will remove his chastening anger. He promises that he will refresh them.

5 I shall be like dew to Israel... In the dry seasons of Israel, winds blew in from the Mediterranean Sea and brought heavy dew. It kept the vegetation fresh and green. So the ones who turn to Yahweh will experience the winds of affection blowing in from the sea of God's love, keeping them fresh and virile, steady and strong.

5 ...he will blossom like the lily and put down his roots like the crocus of Lebanon... 6 his beauty like the olive tree and his fragrance like olive of Lebanon... 7 They will return and lie in its shade... grain to flourish, they will blossom like the vine. Its fragrance will be like the vine of Lebanon. It is a beautiful picture of poise, spreading influence, strength and freshness. God will give the fruitfulness. There will be fertility in God in more than one sense." (Ibid. pp.196-197)

The author nowhere mentions Solomon, or the Song of Songs. However the theme of God's faithful love is massively important here, with illustrations akin to some things in the Song of Songs, so it's not surprising that the reader of both parts of those Hebrew scriptures could see some similarities.

  • Why do you presume Hosea would be familiar with the Song? Do you have evidence that it was widely read? The prophets clearly knew the Torah - at least its main commandments - but I see no evidence that they had read the wisdom literature. Commented Mar 15 at 16:27
  • @DanFefferman Fair point; I shall amend that bit. Though, even if the Song was not widely read, that's no reason to assume that Hosea would not have read it. I don't see anything in Hosea's writing to suggest he was making any link; it's the OP who thinks that's possible. With hindsight, looking back from our day, some might make that link. I personally don't.
    – Anne
    Commented Mar 15 at 16:42
  • +1. Good read. I also think that the best we can say is that there are common themes.
    – Jason_
    Commented Mar 15 at 20:34
  • Thanks and appreciate your answer. I have edited my question to delve deeper into the topic. Could you please review it again? Commented Mar 16 at 3:11
  • @VincentWong Your added edit to the Q is really good and puts the case more clearly. If I have spare time later today (questionable) I shall add an edit to my answer, acknowledging this.
    – Anne
    Commented Mar 16 at 10:34

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