Okay, this Bible 911 about Hosea is my background study for the 9:11 post. If you are new, I am looking at every book that has 9 chapters and then focusing on the eleventh verse. When I did Amos, I realized how little I knew about that book, so I did a background study. Now on to Hosea.
The timeframe is very important for this book. There are several prophets who prophesied at the same time and were led to write very similar things. Hosea started writing during the reign of Uzziah and ended in the time of Hezekiah, just like Isaiah. Both of these great prophets called for repentance, spoke out about Assyria, and had Messianic visions.
These are the kings of the southern kingdom of Judah, think Jerusalem and south along the Dead Sea. “Right” does not mean that they did not have problems, I am glad the Father is so gracious.
- Uzziah did right (2 Kings 15, he is also known as Azariah)
- Jotham did right
- Ahaz did evil
- Hezekiah did right like David (2 Kings 18)
The northern kingdom of Israel (Samaria); think north of Jerusalem on both sides of the Jordan and all-around Lake Galilee. None of these kings did right; well maybe Jehu. This is where Elijah and Elisha worked for the Lord.
- Zechariah (2 Kings 15, he was the last of Jehu’s family to rule Israel. See verse 12.)
- Hoshea (2 Kings 17) He was the last king of Israel. Assyria was the Lord’s instrument for punishment, and they deported all the tribes and replaced them with various people groups including Babylonians. They became known as Samaritans.
Gomer is Hosea’s wife. After reading several articles, I think it would be right to refer to her as a “trophy wife”. Hosea 1 – 3 tells the story. She has three children, and it is possible they are not all Hosea’s (more on the names later). She is unfaithful and leaves Hosea. In 3:2 Hosea pays for her again, I will refer to this as a second “bride’s price” like what he did in chapter 1 when he first married her. So, either she sold herself or her father married her off again.
A thought I had here is the timeline for chapters 1 – 3; when did all of this happen? Given that this is a picture of an unfaithful Israel, it would seem right to believe that chapters 4 -14 happened during and after the marriage.
Prostitution and Adultery
This is the major theme of Hosea. Israel has left Jehovah and gone after other gods. In the NIV this idea is stated more than sixteen times. 4:12 and 5:4 talk about the spirit of prostitution that has affected the people of God.
Hosea and Isaiah are contemporaries. Both had a mission and part of that was to be witnesses and signs to the two kingdoms. Their missions extended into their families; a very visible part was the names God instructed them to give the children. Hosea’s three children are mentioned in 1: 4 Jezreel is a son; 1:6 Lo-Ruhamah is a daughter; 1:8 Lo-Ammi is a son. I have to wonder who took care of the children when Gomer left. Isaiah had a very different family. His wife is called a prophetess and she bore two sons- 7: 3 Shear-Jashub and 8: 3 Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz. 8:18 refers to the family as symbols in Israel (NIV).
Children are a major theme in Hosea. The 9:11 verse highlights this, but it is not the only one to talk about children.
This nation rose to world power during the lives of these prophets. They were the main nation that Israel prostituted itself to. Nineveh was the main city and was the focus for other prophets- Jonah and Nahum. The field commander of Assyria called his king the “great king” in Isaiah 36: 4 +13; this idea is repeated in Hosea 5:13, 10:6, and 8:10.
Egypt is frequently mentioned in the same verse as Assyria. They are seen to be a false help for Israel.
Deals much with history–
- Massacre at Jezreel 1:4 by Jehu. See 2 Kings 10:11, it seems that Jehu went too far in carrying out his instructions 2 Kings 9.
- Gibeah 5:8, 9:9, and 10:9. Judges 19, they sinned, and the other tribes of Israel destroyed Benjamin for the rape of the concubine.
- Gave them a king 13:11; this could reference Saul or more specifically Jeroboam (for the north). He had a promise from God if he did right.
- Gilead- 6:8, 12:11 a city of wicked men. This is on the east bank.
- Gilgal- 4:15, 9:15, 12:11 wrong sacrifices. This is where Joshua circumcised the young men when they entered the land.
- Jacob in Aram 12:12
- Moses the shepherd in 12: 13
- Admah and Zeboyim 11:8 These are cities overthrown with Sodom and Gomorrah
Ephraim is the second-born son of Joseph. He was born in Egypt and has an Egyptian mother. Jacob blessed him to be over his brother Manasseh and get a bigger inheritance from Joseph. (See Tribes of Israel-Ephraim.) In Hosea, he is first mentioned in Chapter 4, he is lost to idols, and is talked about in every chapter, thereafter. In Chapter 14 he returns to God and remembers where his strength comes from. I suggest you use a search tool and follow his story through Hosea, it is very telling. The NIV has 32 passages with him in it. He is paired with Judah (another son who was elevated in status by Jacob) several times. It is easy to see that Ephraim is being used in place of Israel in representing the northern kingdom. That actually is shallow because I also see other things he is standing for-the tribe and someone who is still divided about God. The most telling statement about him is 7:11 where he compared to a dove who is easy to deceive. (A note. Manasseh got two sections of land, one on the east bank and one on the west.)
These are random thoughts and comparisons; I am sure I missed some good ones.
- 12:9 sounds like Amos 9: 11
- 11:11 sounds like Amos 9:15
- The Day, referring to a day of judgment, like in Isaiah. It is said several times, especially at 10:15.
- 10:4 and 8 sound like Matthew 13:24 the Parable of the Weeds.
- The name Hosea is used in Romans 9:25 and in his book, nowhere else.
- The Bible is unique in that it talks about the shortcomings of some very important characters. Lot was willing to let his daughter suffer abuse (angels guarded them) and then is abused by them. Judges 19 tells a tale of sexual abuse by a city that is defended by a tribe. Absalom uses ten of his father’s concubines (wives). Hosea’s tale is special because the wife leaves and then is redeemed by her husband.
- Baal Peor-9:10b, this is found in Numbers 25.
Prophets of God are an amazing group of people. God loves His people but not all have the same mission, so some have higher levels of responsibility. According to talents, gifts, and callings, He expects more from some people, true prophets of God fall into the higher levels. Jeremiah had to walk hundreds of miles to bury and then retrieve a belt. Elijah had to face 850 false prophets and people who doubted God. Ezekiel had a special diet for a year and had to dig through the city wall. Jonah hated the Assyrians and a whale had to bring him back.
I think Hosea may have been the prophet that really mirrored the heart and actions of the Father and Jesus the most. He had to marry (pay a dowry) a beautiful woman he knew would cheat on him, and then purchase her again after she left him. God first purchased Israel when He freed them from Egypt.
Jesus in the Story
The task of buying back the unfaithful wife fell on Jesus. Hosea’s purchase speaks of Israel and Judah. The price Jesus gave was for all unfaithful mankind. His broken body and shed blood are the only things that could restore fellowship with the Father as Adam and Eve had in the Garden.
Homework-Find the meanings of the names of the children of Hosea and Isaiah. Now find how they would be symbols (a Bible 911) for a nation that is ignoring their God.