"Ephraim was a trained young heifer that loved to thresh, and I stroked her fair neck; I will harness Ephraim, Judah will plow; Jacob will harrow [break up ground] for himself" (Hosea 10:11).
In the above verse, YHVH is painting for us one of the most beautiful pictures of the two sons of Jacob working together to prepare the ground for planting. Ephraim is seen here as a young heifer that has been running wild, breaking and tearing up the ground, trampling and destroying the grass that the herd is grazing on. But at one stage she calms down and is taught by the gentle strokes of a yoke that is placed around her neck, in preparation to pull the furrowing tool. Apparently farrowing comes after the initial plowing, with the farming implement that is used being more like a disk or cultivator which breaks up the clods of ground that had already been plowed by a stronger animal, like a mature ox or bull. Thus, this young heifer would be strong enough to pull an ancient drag-like tool over the surface of the field.
Next, Judah is given the task of "putting his hands to" the tool that Ephraim (the heifer) is pulling and together they are preparing the earth for planting seed. What kind of seed have they been growing in their field until now? Skipping over verse 12, let us read verse 13 which gives a clear indication as to what the brothers' joint field has yielded. "You have plowed wickedness, you have reaped injustice, you have eaten the fruit of lies. Because you have trusted in your power and in the multitude of your warriors". While this may still be the case in our day, two thousand years ago YHVH set in motion a covenant that would restore and reverse the kind of harvest that those two had produced in the fields of the hearts of men. This is why there is a remarkable verse inserted between verse 11 (which was our opening verse) and verse 13. YHVH has not given up on them even though, as recorded in Ezekiel 36, they defiled His land with their idolatry, and thus were cast away into the nations where they continued to profane His Holy name, spreading their wicked ways under every green tree as stated in Jeremiah 2:20: “When on every high hill and under every green tree you lay down, playing the harlot”.
Yet, after all the years of idolatry and harlotry, YHVH promises Ephraim and Judah that He would turn everything around (read Ezekiel 36:22-38). “Thus says Adonai YHVH: 'It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came'” (Ezekiel 36:22).
The Biblical prophets are the ones with whom YHVH has entrusted His perfect plan. Hosea, of course, is no different. Thus, our text (10:11) continues to inform us that when the two brothers are joined in the act of "harrowing" (breaking up ground) they are, quite suddenly, addressed as "Jacob" – "Jacob will harrow for himself" (a similar transformation is recorded in Zachariah 9:13). In other words, they are now one unit, Jacob/Israel. It is at this point that they are ready to obey YHVH's word, which up until now they never heeded, nor were they able to do so. So Elohim addresses them, saying: "Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground; for it is time to seek YHVH that he may come and rain righteousness upon you".
If we are in the day in which YHVH is pouring these rains of righteousness, if this the time, let us seek Him, as urged to do by the same prophet: "Come, let us return to YHVH; for it is he who has torn, and he will heal us; he has struck down, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him. Let us know, let us press on to know YHVH; his appearing is as sure as the dawn; he will come to us like the showers, like the spring rains that water the earth" (Hosea 6:1-3).