|The Book of Hosea|
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Go to Bible: Hosea 1
“in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah.” Hosea’s ministry lasted 50 years, say from 770 BC to 720 BC, although those dates could be moved forward or backward. Uzziah (also called Azariah) started his sole reign over Judah about 775 BC, and Hezekiah ended his reign in Judah about 697 BC. Jeroboam II of Israel reigned as sole king from about 790 BC to 760 BC. Jeroboam was the last powerful king of Israel before it was conquered by Assyria, and that is likely why Hosea does not mention any other king of Israel besides Jeroboam.(top)
“Go, take for yourself a wife of prostitution and have children of prostitution.” The Hebrew text is brief and powerful, but that can make its meaning unclear. A “wife of prostitution” is a prostitute, and given the situation that Israel was in, given over to the worship of Baal and other pagan gods, it is quite possible that this prostitute was a temple prostitute in one of the pagan temples. In the Old Testament God often required prophets to act out the lesson that God wanted to show to the people. In this case, Israel had abandoned her legitimate “husband” (she had made a covenant to be faithful at Sinai; Exod. 24:3-8), and had gone after other gods, and God used the example of Hosea to show Israel how they were behaving.
The meaning of the phrase “children of prostitution” is not exactly clear. Grammatically, it can mean have children by Gomer, the prostitute, or it can mean have children who will become prostitutes themselves, or it can mean both those things, and some scholars suggest that Hosea was to marry Gomer who already had children through her prostitution. However, because Hosea could not determine what his children would grow up to do, the most likely meaning is “have children by the prostitute” (cp. CJB; NJB; GWN).
“the land commits great adultery.” In this case, “the land” is put by metonymy for the people who live on the land, but as we know from so many other scriptures, when the people of the land sin, the land itself is affected (see commentary on Lev. 18:25).(top)
“Gomer.” The name means “completion; ripeness.” As symbolic of the country of Israel, she was the completeness of sensuality and thus wickedness. It seems that Gomer ran away from Hosea and became the lover/slave of another man, and Hosea had to buy her back, and Gomer’s life as symbolic of Israel continued (Hos. 3:1-5).
“Diblaim.” Hosea 1:3 is the only occurrence of the name Diblaim in the Bible, and it means something like “Double fig-cakes” or “Twin fig-cakes.” The name is an obvious reference to sensuality, and shows that Gomer’s mother was a prostitute like Gomer was. The pair, Diblaim then Gomer, the prostitute and the daughter of a prostitute, are symbolic of Israel, which was wicked and increasing in wickedness until that wickedness was complete and ripe for God’s judgment. Indeed, Israel incurred that judgment at the hands of the Assyrians who carried Israel away and replaced the people with pagans from other countries Assyria had conquered. “Diblaim” also is likely to be a pointed reference and reminder of Israel’s idolatrous sin in that her name, “Double fig-cake,” reminds Israel of their idolatry and that they loved the raisin-cakes that were offered as a food offering to some of their idol-gods (Hos. 3:1). Typically in food offerings, some of it was burned for the gods and the rest eaten by the priests or people.(top)
“Jezreel.” The name has a double meaning that God uses very effectively in Hosea 1. Here it refers to scattering; that God would scatter Israel, but in Hosea 1:11 it refers to the “gathering” that follows the sowing (see commentary on Hosea 1:11).(top)
|Hos 1:5||- (top)|
“Lo–Ruhamah.” The Hebrew word Ruhamah means “compassion, pity, mercy, love.” The Hebrew word “lo” means “no,” and thus “Lo-Ruhamah” was a name that meant “No compassion” or “No mercy” or No love” (the English versions differ in their translation depending on what the translator felt was being emphasized in the context). Probably “mercy,” with its technical sense of withholding merited judgment” is not the best, while “no love” may be too broad. It seems “No compassion” or “No pity” is most fitting in the context. However, in Hosea 9:15 God says that He no longer loves Israel,(top)
“I will have compassion on the house of Judah.” God had compassion on Judah and saved them from the Assyrians by a miracle (2 Kings 19:32-35). But Judah continued to sin and so God did not save them from the Babylonians. Nebuchadnezzar carried the people captive to Babylon and burned down Jerusalem and the Temple (2 Kings 24-25).(top)
|Hos 1:8||- (top)|
“Lo–Ammi.” The Hebrew word Am means “people” and Ammi is the possessive, “my people.” The Hebrew word “lo” means “no,” and thus “Lo-Ammi” was a name that meant “Not my people.” The people of the country of Israel (the ten northern tribes) had sinned so greatly and for so long that God rejected them as His people. Nevertheless, He will in the future regather them and give them their inheritance in the land of Israel. [For more on the ten lost tribes of Israel being regathered in the Millennial Kingdom, see commentary on Jer. 32:37].
“and I will not be your God.” The Hebrew is more literally, “and I will not be yours.” Although many translations add the word “God” for clarity, some scholars suggest that it should not be supplied here. God is still the God of Israel in reality, and so what the text is saying is that from a practical and experiential sense God will no longer be Israel’s God. But we know from many verses of scripture that Israel will eventually be regathered and God will be their God again (see commentary on Hos. 1:11).(top)
|Hos 1:10||- (top)|
“Jezreel.” The name has a double meaning that God uses very effectively in Hosea 1. It refers to the act of sowing, which involves both scattering, the scattering of seed, and the planting of seed by means of scattering it on the ground, and by extension, also the act of gathering. So Jezreel can mean “to scatter” or “to plant” depending on the context.
In Hosea 1:4, God uses “Jezreel” with the meaning of “scatter,” because Israel was about to be scattered by the Assyrians. During the reign of Hoshea, the last king of Israel, the Assyrians conquered Israel and carried the people away captive and scattered them in different places around the Assyrian Empire (cp. 2 Kings 17:6). However, in Hosea 1:11 God used “Jezreel” to refer to God’s “sowing” or planting Israel in its own land, bringing it back from captivity. There are many verses that prophesy Israel’s return to the land of Israel, the Promised Land and Hosea 1:11 is one of them. [For more information on Israel’s return to the Promised Land, see commentary on Jeremiah 32:37].
“flourish in the land.” The Hebrew text is unclear, and one of the common translations, “go up from the land” does not fit the context or the many other prophecies about the restoration of Israel. J. Andrew Dearman writes, “The verb may be used here in an agricultural sense, however, as in ‘growing up’ or ‘increasing/flourishing’ (Deut. 29:23 [MT22]), rather than in its more common geographical sense of departing” (J. Andrew Dearman, The Book of Hosea, NICOT, p. 105-106). Other similar translations include the CEB, GWN, NET, NIRV, NLT, cp. NRSV.(top)