Hosea 3:4

For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim:

For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince,.... Without any form of civil government, either regal or without any civil magistrate, either superior or subordinate, of their own; being subject to the kings and princes of other nations, as the ten tribes were from their captivity by Shalmaneser, to the coming of Christ, which was about seven hundred years; and from that time the tribes of Judah and Benjamin have had no kings and princes among them, for the space of nineteen hundred years, which may very well be called "many days". This answers to the harlot's abiding for the prophet many days, in the parable:

and without a sacrifice; the daily sacrifice, which has ceased as long as before observed; and any other sacrifice of slain beasts, as the passover lamb, &c.; the Jews not thinking it lawful to offer sacrifice in a strange land, or any where but upon the altar in Jerusalem; and to this day have no such sacrifices among them, though they have no notion of the abrogation of them, as the Christians have; but so it is ordered in Providence, that they should be without them, being kept out of their own land, that this and other prophecies might be fulfilled:

and without an image, or "statue": such as were made for Baal, or as were the calves at Dan and Bethel; and though the people of Israel were very subject to idolatry, and set up images and statues for worship before their captivities, yet since have nothing of image worship among them, but strictly observe the command.

and without an ephod; a linen garment wore by the high priests under the law, to which the breastplate was fastened, which had in it the Urim and Thummim; and which were wanting in the second temple, and have been ever since; so that these people have been so long without this way and means of inquiry of God about future things, see Ezra 2:63, this may be put for the whole priesthood, now ceased in a proper sense; and so the Septuagint render it, "without a priesthood"; so that the Jews are without any form of government, civil or ecclesiastical; they have neither princely nor priestly power: "and without teraphim"; which some understand to be the same with the Urim and Thummim; and so the Septuagint render it, "without manifestations"; by which they are thought to mean the Urim, which according to them so signifies: but the word is generally thought to design some little images or idols, like the penates or household gods of the Romans, which were consulted about future things; and so the Jews commonly understand it, and some describe them thus {g},

"what are the "teraphim?" they slay the firstborn of a man, cut off his head, and pickle it with salt and oil, and inscribe on a plate of gold the name of an unclean spirit, and put that under his tongue; then they place it in a wall, and light candles before it, and pray unto it, and it talks with them.''

But now, according to this prophecy, the Jews in their captivity should have no way and means of knowing future things, either in a lawful or unlawful manner; see Psalms 74:9. How the whole of this prophecy is now fulfilled in them, hear what they themselves say, particularly Kimchi;

"these are the days of the captivity in which we now are at this day; we have no king nor prince out of Israel; for we are in the power of the nations, and of their kings and princes; and have no sacrifice for God, nor image for idols; no "ephod" for God, that declares future things; and no "teraphim" for idolatry, which show things to come, according to the mind of those that believe in them;''

and so Jarchi

"without a sacrifice in the sanctuary in Judah; without an image of Baal in Samaria, for the kings of Israel; without an ephod of Urim and Thummim, that declares hidden things; and "teraphim" made for a time to speak of, and show things that are secret;''

and to the same purpose Aben Ezra. The Targum is,

"without a king of the house of David, and without a ruler over Israel; without sacrifice for acceptance in Jerusalem; and without a high place in Samaria; and without an ephod, and him that shows;''

i.e. what shall come to pass. The Syriac version renders the last clause, "without one that offers incense"; and the Arabic version, "without one that teaches".

{g} Pirke Eliezer, c. 36. fol. 40. 1.