About Jesus Steve Sweetman
Commentary On The Book Of Hosea
This commentary is based
on the 1984 edition of the New International Bible.
Chapter titles in this commentary correspond to that in the NIV
Bible that makes for easy comparison.
"Hosea", or in Hebrew, "Hoshea" means salvation and
is basically the same Hebrew word that is translated as Joshua in Hebrew
and Jesus in Greek.
After King Solomon died Israel
had a civil war and was divided into the northern kingdom and the
southern kingdom. This split
took place in 922 B.C.. For the most part, the northern kingdom, also
called Israel, had ten tribes, and the southern kingdom, also called Judah, had two tribes. This is
somewhat of a simplification because there were some families that
migrated from the north to the south and vise versa.
This means that there are not ten lost tribes of Israel
as some suggest. There were
some of the ten tribes from the north in the south, and some of the two
tribes from the south in the north.
Amos was a prophet that
came from the southern kingdom to prophesy to the north.
Hosea, however, was a resident of the northern kingdom.
He was prophesying to his own people.
Hosea and Amos prophesied
around 750 B.C. to 720 B.C.. During
this time the northern kingdom of Israel
was very prosperous, very wealthy with great military strength.
They were also very religious, but very unholy.
Both the north and the south were at the height of their national
history. They have never
been this successful and great since.
The problem for both the north and the south was that both
strayed from their God and adopted pagan practices, something they were
specifically told not to do by God in the Law of Moses, and something
they covenanted with God not to do.
Along with these pagan practices were unjust government, unjust
courts, poor treatment of the needy, and an arrogance concerning their
humanistic existence. I
believe you can compare both the south and the north to western
civilization today. Western
civilization as I write these words in 2012 is fast approaching in many
ways what life was like in Israel
back in Hosea's day. Therefore
what the Lord says to the northern
Prior to the civil war in
is under pressure to day to conform with the rest of the world, to make
treaties, and to ally themselves with their neighbors.
This will eventually bring judgment on her as is seen in the book
of Revelation. The same
applies to the church. We
are under great pressure to comply, to ally ourselves with the world,
which we are doing. We will
be judged for this folly. This is why the books of Amos and Hosea are so
very important to both
The book of Hosea is
divided into two sections. Chapters
1 to 3 are personal and are concerned with Hosea's marriage to a
prostitute. Chapters 4
through 14 concerns Hosea's message to the northern kingdom.
We will see that God told
Hosea to marry a prostitute and have children with her for the sole
reason that this marriage would be symbolic of
The concept of marriage between one man and one woman is seen throughout the Bible. I believe this marriage is symbolic of the relationship[ between God and His people. The intimacy found in marriage is symbolic of an intimacy we should have with our God. I believe that God put men and woman together in marriage for the purpose of helping us understand how our relationship with God should be. Yet as our marriage relationships are a product of the fall of Adam and Eve, so is our relationship with God.
Many people have a hard
time believing that God would actually tell a man to marry such a woman.
We cannot take this as something He'd tell many other men.
This is an isolated event for a specific prophetic purpose.
Calvin actually allegorized this and believed that this was not a
real historical event. Luther
couldn't believe God would tell Hosea to marry a prostitute so he said
that she wasn't a prostitute when they got married.
I believe the text says otherwise.
Origin, one of the early church fathers, believed that if a text
does not make sense to you, you must allegorize it.
This teaching has been passed down throughout church history and
as far as I am concerned is not right. You take the text as literal as
Hosea and Amos both
prophesied around the same time to the northern kingdom of Israel. It seems to me that Amos'
message was directed to
One of the biggest
need to give a brief history of Assyria because in both Amos and Hosea
has evolved into present day
605 B. C. Assyria had declined and was taken over by Babylon, one of their arch-rivals for centuries.
So, in our study of Hosea and Amos, we need to understand that Assyria wasn't modern day Syria. Assyria's control was much broader, spreading over much of the middle east, from Iran to the east, Turkey to the north west, Cyprus to the far west, Egypt to the south.
than any other Old Testament book, the book of Hosea has technical
difficulties in the process of translating the text from Hebrew to
English. For this reason, if you study Hosea by using more than
one version of the Bible, you will certainly see differences in
translations. So be forewarned.
Wife And Children (ch. 1:1 - 11)
Most of the kings
mentioned in verse 1 are kings in the southern kingdom, not the northern
kingdom. Many can't
understand why southern kings are listed when the prophecies here are to
the northern kingdom. These
kings are mentioned in the book of Isaiah as well, so we know that
Isaiah prophesied around the same time. I
don't think anyone can give the real reason to why these southern kings
are mentioned here.
Verse 2 sets the stage
for the whole book of Hosea. God
told Hosea early in his ministry that he should marry a prostitute.
The text clearly states that this lady was a prostitute.
So I disagree with Luther who says that this woman was not a
prostitute when Hosea took her as his wife.
We also need to note the nature of Hosea's soon to be family.
Verse 1 says, "go take yourself and adulterous wife and
children of unfaithfulness". The
part about the children of unfaithfulness means one of two things, or
both. His new wife would
already have children born from her adulterous affairs, or, some
children born after the marriage might well have been born from
adulterous affairs. My guess
is that both of these scenarios are true.
I'm sure that Hosea might
have been shocked when he heard God's request for him to marry a
prostitute. He might have
even questioned if he heard from the Lord in the first place.
Obviously Hosea heard from the Lord, but more importantly, he
obeyed the Lord, even in this strange request.
The reason God gave Hosea
for his marriage to a prostitute was that
Note the words
"children of adultery" in verse 2.
This might imply that this woman already had children from
adulterous relationships. It
also would imply that she would continue to have children from other
men, even while married to Hosea, and really, that was part of God's
plan. This is what God
wanted Hosea to understand, that even when being married to him, his
wife would be uniting herself with other men, as
God had Hosea marry a
woman that would be unfaithful to him so he would understand the
situation of the northern kingdom from God's standpoint.
He would preach God's message with great conviction.
The message would be a burden to him, like it is with all
prophets, and like it is to God Himself.
One thing we should note
about God's strange request to Hosea in marrying a prostitute is that
this is the only request of its kind in all of the Bible.
Some take one event such as this and build something of it more
than what should be built. Just
because God told one person in history, that we know of, to marry such a
woman, doesn't mean you should do the same.
This is a hermeneutical principle.
What God says to one particular individual person may not apply
to all, and probably doesn't.
When it comes to
"adultery" in this verse, and throughout Hosea, we need to
understand adultery in two ways. First
and foremost is the spiritual adultery that the northern kingdom, and
the southern kingdom as well, found themselves in.
As I've already mentioned, Israel
left their God, and united themselves with false gods, which is
"spiritual adultery". This
union with other gods led them to physical adultery.
Part of the religion of Baal was sexual union with other people
other than one's spouse. Pretty
well all of
Verse 3 tells us the name
of Hosea's wife. Her name
was Gomer, and the text says that she bore Hosea a son.
In verse 4 God tells
Hosea to call his son Jezreel. The
name "Jezreel" means "to sow" as in "to scatter
seed". God would
scatter the northern kingdom as one scatters seed when planting a
We need to understand
that the naming of these children that we see in chapter one is
prophetic. The meaning of
the names tell us how God feels about the northern kingdom.
Jezreel was both a valley
and a city in the valley. This
is also known as the
We see "Jehu"
mentioned in verse 4. He was
a king of the northern kingdom and he and his sons after him ruled the
northern kingdom for close to a hundred years.
He was a very violent man and fought his way to the top, thus the
reason for God's judgment as seen in verse 4.
We see here that the
birth of sons and daughters to Hosea's new family was part of the
prophetic significance of his family.
In one real sense of the word, this family was a prophetic
message in itself.
God said in verse 4 that
He would put an end to
Verse 5 states that God
would "break Israel's bow in the
Another battle will take
place in this same valley, in the Battle of Armageddon at the end of
this age for basically the same reason.
Although it was a miracle of God that
Verse 6 tells us the name
of the next child born to Hosea and Gomer.
Her name was Lo Ruhamah, meaning, "not loved by a
reason for this name is clear. God
says that should be the girl's name because He is no longer going to
and forgive her. He will
and send its people away into obscurity.
Again, the naming of this girl plays into the meaning to Hosea's
prophetic marriage and ministry, that are linked together in one.
We need to take God at
His word here If He says
that He will no longer love and forgive
In verse 7 we see the
northern kingdom of
The reason why God would
judge the south and restore them, and still love them through it all is
because it was through the south that the Messianic Kingdom and Messiah
would come. Jesus came
through the lineage of David, and, at the end of this age, Jesus will
sit on what the Bible calls, "David's throne" in Jerusalem, where He will rule for one thousand years.
David himself, is
prophetic of Jesus.
David himself, is
prophetic of Jesus.
Concerning God winning
this battle with the south, without using any kind of military, the
story is told for us in 2 Kings 19:35 -37 and 2 Chronicles 32:20-23.
In 701 B.C.
Verses 8 and 9 state that
the third child born into Hosea's family was a boy who was to be named
Lo Ammi, which means, "not my people".
Again, we see the prophetic nature of the birth of this third
child. No longer would the
northern kingdom be God's people. His
people would flow through the southern kingdom, even though they would
be judged and exiled as well.
The chapter will end with
verses 10 and 11 on a positive note.
God says that the day will come when
Note in verse 10 where it
says, "in the place where it was said you are not my people, they
will be called sons of the living God".
This is a somewhat controversial passage.
Some believe the following. In the
In Romans 9:24 to 26 Paul
quotes verse 10. It is clear
that those who were once not God's people and are now His people are
Gentiles according to the context of Romans 9.
Peter, in 1 Peter 2:10 says something similar.
Paul and Peter both interpret Hosea's words here as being
prophetic of the day when God would make Israel
as numerous as the sand on the seashore by allowing Gentiles into the
family of God. Thos who believe in "Replacement Theology"
point his passage out. They
say that this Old Testament passage predicts that the nature of God's
family will change from national
Note in verse 10 the
phrase "the sons of the living God".
This is more of a New Testament term than an Old Testament term,
and for good reason. That
which is predicted to happen here in verses 10 and 11 is in New
Verse 11 states that in
the day of restoration, both Israel, that's the north, and Judah, that's the south, will be reunited.
This tells you that there are no lost tribes of Israel. The point here is that all
12 tribes of Israel
will be united into one nation. This
one identity, as I've already stated, will come through the lineage of
the southern kingdom. The
northern kingdom as a national identity
will never recover, but the tribes in the north will, and they do that,
through the southern
Notice the one leader
spoken of here. That is the
Lord Jesus Christ. Note that
Note the term "the
day of Jezreel" in verse 11. I
believe this is a reference to the Battle of Armageddon that takes place
It is both interesting
and curious to me that in verse 10 and 11 "those who weren't God's
people would become His people" is squeezed into prophecies that to
me are directed to Israel
alone. As I said earlier,
Paul equates these people to be Gentiles in Romans 9.
Some ultra-Jewish type Christians struggle with Paul on many
counts, and this is one such count.
Some of these people don't even believe Paul's writings are
canonical, should be in the inspired Bible.
However we want to understand what verses 10 and 11really mean,
we can't ignore what Paul says in Romans 9.
If there is a portion of Scripture that doesn't seem to fit our
theology, then our theology isn't perfect.
We must struggle our way through the problem until we have it