Hosea Article #1
An 8th century Minor Prophet
Here are two examples of New Testament scripture and one personal observation. By comparative context New Testament John and Matthew with Old Testament Hosea, we find a basic overview of or insight into the Book of Hosea:
- John 15:7 “If you abide in me and my WORDS abide in you, you shall ask what you will and it will be done (or given) unto you.”
- Matthew 6:33 “Seek [you] first the kingdom of God AND his righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.”
- JIV (Jim’s Introspective View) Anything that is given priority over God in our entirety of life is an idol!
There is much more. This series of Hosea articles with chapter by chapter and comparative context explanations will include historical and future unfulfilled prophecy parallels. When one has a good grasp of John 15:7 and Matthew 6:33, s/he finds a summary of the major focal points of Hosea. We should also recognize and distinguish that Hosea, as do other Old Testament passages, explains that God is the husband of Israel [Jeremiah 31:32]; Jesus is the husband of the New Testament church [Ephesians 5:31-32]. We will have much more on this throughout this Hosea series.
The Orthodox Church of America puts it this way in introducing Hosea:
“Almost a thousand years before the coming of the Savior, and through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the prophet foretold the end of sacrificial offerings and of the priesthood of Aaron (Hos. 3:4-5), and that the knowledge of the True God would spread through all the earth (Hos. 2:20-23). Hosea spoke also about Christ, how He would return from out of Egypt (Hos. 11:1; compare to Mt. 2:15), that He would be resurrected on the third day (Hos. 6 and especially Hos.6:2; compare with 1 Cor.15:4), and that He would conquer death (Hos.13-14. Compare 1 Cor.15:54-55).”
Whatever the case, all 12 Tribes of Israel and Judah had adopted the mindset that if they can’t see it, it must not exist. A golden calf can be observed. The reality of the God of creation is by faith. The same is true today. So-called Christians too often see a denomination or church building as the basis of their being Christian. S/he serves the church functions but confuses their intent with serving God.
Let’s first establish some common sense knowledge and understanding of the ground work for our Hosea studies. In our previous Daniel studies we explained that the first half of the book of Daniel was originally written in the commoner’s language of the time; Aramaic. The latter half of the book was written in Hebrew. The first half of Daniel is targeted to the non-Israelite. The second half was/is intended for the particular audience of the Israelites. Hosea was a prophet-designate or appointed to the 10 Israeli tribes of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. His contemporary Amos was who came from the southern Kingdom of Judah; same peoples (Israelites) but two distinctly different prophets. These are two of the twelve Minor Prophets… one to the Northern Kingdom and one to the Southern Kingdom of the former nation of Israel. Both had the same problem. The people to whom they were told to speak and warn had not kept God at the center of their lives and worship. [Go back to the top of this page and reread the passages from James 15 and Matthew 6].
The time: It was just prior to the end of the existence of the Northern Kingdom [760 B.C. to 722 B.C.]. Syria was peeling off one or two tribes of Israel at a time. The Reubenites, Gadites and half of the tribe of Manasseh were among the first to be exiled by Assyria. Hosea was either from the Tribe of Reuben or Issachar [see Adam Clarkes Commentary]. Bura [Beeri] was his father. We do not know for sure but what we do know is that he was born in the town of Belemoth inside the *territory of Issachar.
*The 2 ½ Tribes of Israel east of the Jordan River had already been exiled by Tiglath-pileser of Assyria. This dispersion caused many to flee their tribal lands. Some went to other territories in Samaria (Northern Kingdom of Israel). Most were dispersed and exiled by the Assyrians into the hinterlands of faraway places; lands that were sparsely populated. Some fled to the lands of the Tribe of Issachar.
PS: Issachar settled Finland and Estonia after years of dispersion and scattered exile from their Promised home lands. How do we know this? During World War II General Mannerheim led the Finnish army in two separate conflicts against the Soviet Union. Astonishingly, he addressed them as ‘Men of Issachar’!
St. Jerome and some others believe Hosea to be the oldest of the Minor Prophets whose writings are in our possession. He was witness to the first captivity of four of the ten norther tribes who were exiled by King Tiglath-pileser (745-727 B.C.), and the eventual extinction of the kingdom of *Samaria by King Shalmaneser V (727-721 B.C.) in 721 B.C. Shalamaneser died before the complete exiling of the Shalamaneser. His successor son is Sargon II.
*This is the Northern Kingdom of Israel…Samaria was their capital.
Now that we know the time period within which Hosea prophesied let’s see who some of his contemporaries were. To begin with Amos plus *Jonah “of the whale” bible historical event were contemporaries of Hosea. Other contemporaries of Hosea include Micah, Isaiah, and possibly Joel (contested), and Obadiah.
*JIV NOTE: We can view the life of Jonah as one of inaction, sea action; knee action; reaction, then action. Due to the Assyrians initially overrunning and exiling the Tribes of the Northern Kingdom in the lifetime of Jonah, Amos, and Hosea, Jonah had no love affair with the people of Nineveh, Assyria. They were hated enemies. No wonder he did not want to go there.
According to 1:1, “The Word of Jehovah that was to Hosea, the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam II, the son of Joash, king of Israel.” [Literal Translation of the Holy Bible]
Hosea is the only prophet who came from the northern kingdom. Recall that he is either from the Tribes of Issachar of Reuben. Both were northern tribes. Other prophets ministered or prophesied to these ten northern Tribes of Israel but did not come from within them. A hundred plus years earlier, Elijah and Elisha witnessed to the northern kingdom but also to little avail.
JIV NOTE: The Northern Kingdom under Jeroboam II was at the zenith or apex of its power and prosperity when Hosea prophesied against it. Might we look at the world today and specifically the USA March 2020? We are/were at the zenith of our power and prosperity when the CoVid 19 coronavirus took us to our knees. Similarities? Time will prove one way or another but the thought that a simple flu bug can do what military powers have never been able to accomplish…total submission to the bug, not a person or political sphere.
In comparison to Hosea, we might also consider that the Americas were established as a place for freedom of worship. We have since prostituted ourselves to other global issues, governments, wars, and much more that redirect our focus from God Bless America to God bless me. Why should he bless us? We have deserted him, not the other way around. We must return to God so that he can return to us with blessings of his choice. [cf. James 4:8]. Religious we certainly are. Drawing closer to God?
Hosea is the person GOD specifically instructed to take as a wife, a woman of prostitution. On the surface this sounds like everything we know or have been taught per the New Testament about what is and constitutes adultery. We are told in his book that it is to exemplify or embody the condition of the Kingdom of Israel; i.e. 10 northern Tribes of Israel in their relationship to the God of Israel.
There are four major schools of thought per this relationship of Hosea/Gomer marriage and the marriage relationship of God and Israel.
- The entirety of Hosea is just an allegory just as were Jesus’ parables
- The wife (Gomer) and life of Hosea took is likened unto Israel and God. She was faithful and obedient but later became a prostitute just as Israel left its first love…God.
- Gomer was already a prostitute. Hosea purchased then repurchased her from slavery to be his wife. The three children she had are from Hosea.
- Gomer had her three children in her adultery with others. Hosea named them and took them in as his own.
Chapters 1-3 overview:
The character of Gomer: For those who have suggested Hosea bible history to be merely an allegory of the relation between God and Israel. The Hosea writings are realistic and actual recorded history. They MUST be taken literally. Among the latter, some insist that Gomer was faithful at first and later became unfaithful, others that she was unfaithful even before the marriage. This is about 750 to 760 years before the birth of Jesus.
Chapters 1, 2, & 3 are all about Hosea’s family situation, challenges, struggles, and both with his wife and with his people of the Kingdom of Israel. A good note to understand as we close Article #1: God (Hosea), Gomer (Israel as a northern kingdom), Hosea’s (Gomer’s) children represent individuals within the Tribes of the North.