Hos 7:11-12 Ephraim is like a dove, silly and without sense, calling to Egypt, going to Assyria. As they go, I will spread over them my net; I will bring them down like birds of the heavens; I will discipline them according to the report made to their congregation.
The dove is often associated with hope and peace. We draw this image from the passage in Genesis where Noah sends the dove and it returns with the olive branch (Gen 8:11). Another passage of hope where the dove is a powerful symbol is found in Mt 3:16 when Jesus is baptized and John saw “the Spirit of God descending like a dove.” Doves are notoriously easy going creatures. A bit noisy and messy perhaps, but they don’t mind people very much and they seem to thrive in most environments. This also makes them easy to capture and thus seemingly silly. In this passage Hosea specifically mentions the attempt made by Samaria to court Egypt to support them against Assyria. Israel was already paying tributes to Assyria. The tribute worked something like a tax, but in reality it was a bribe to keep the brutal Assyrians from plundering by force. Either way it was against God’s will for Israel to pay other nations for their own security. Israel wanted to try to work a better deal so they began courting Egypt. In about 725 BC Hoshea, king of Israel refused to pay the tribute to Assyria and sent a message to Pharaoh asking for help. Shalmaneser, the king of Assyria, discovered Hoshea’s plan. He captured Hoshea and imprisoned him. For three years he assaulted Israel until finally Samaria and all of the territories of the Northern Kingdom were subdued. In 722 BC the conquest was complete. God promised Israel would be captured like doves and that was a perfect description because, like doves captured in a net, the people were gathered up and removed from their homeland as exiles. 2 Ki 17 provides a complete and detailed report of the fall of Israel, the capture of King Hoshea, the exiling of the people, and the reasons why God allowed Israel to be punished – exactly as Hosea prophesied.