The most precise name for the Old Testament is the TANAKH
The word TANAKH is an acronym for the first letter of each of the three sections of Hebrew Scripture
Torah —> Law(instruction)
- first 5 books of the Old Testament
- attributed to Moses
- Greek word —–>Pentateuch —-> 5 books
Neviim —–> Prophets
- lives of the prophets and their messages
Ketuvim —–> Writings
- psalms, wisdom writings, narratives
Neviim is where we find Hosea
- contemporaneous with Isaiah Amos and Micah
Hosea was the greatest of the four prophets of his time, and he taught Amos, who in turn taught Isaiah, who taught Micah…(*)
- After the death of Solomon in about 931 BC the nation of Israel was torn in two. Hosea would live through the reigns of many kings, many of which were assassinated.
- At the start of Hosea’s ministry, Uzziah was King over Judah to the South and Jaroboam II was King of the North.
- It was in this northern kingdom and against this kingdom that Hosea will prophesy to from about 755-722 BC
- In order to maintain his power and the separation of Israel, Jaroboam discouraged his people in the northern kingdom from visiting Jerusalem to offer sacrifices to God in the southern kingdom
Jeroboam then thought to himself: ‘Now the Davidic dynasty could regain the kingdom. If these people go up to offer sacrifices in the LORD’s temple in Jerusalem,40 their loyalty could shift to their former master King Rehoboam of Judah. They might kill me and return to King Rehoboam of Judah.’ After the king had consulted with his advisers, he made two golden calves. Then he said to the people, ‘It is too much trouble for you to go up to Jerusalem. Look, Israel, here are your gods who brought you up from the land of Egypt.’ He put one in Bethel and the other in Dan. This caused Israel to sin; the people went to Bethel and Dan to worship the calves. He built temples on the high places and appointed as priests people who were not Levites. Jeroboam inaugurated a festival on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, like the festival celebrated in Judah. On the altar in Bethel he offered sacrifices to the calves he had made. In Bethel he also appointed priests for the high places he had made.
A Prophet from Judah Visits Bethel On the fifteenth day of the eighth month (a date he had arbitrarily chosen) Jeroboam offered sacrifices on the altar he had made in Bethel. He inaugurated a festival for the Israelites and went up to the altar to offer sacrifices.
- It is this national apostasy and the pleading with agricultural Canaanite gods instigated by Jaroboam and continued by the rulers following him that Hosea would prophesy against.
In regard to the sins of the Northern Kingdom:
I will punish her for the festival dayswhen she burned incense to the Baal idols; she adorned herself with earrings and jewelry,and went after her lovers, but she forgot me! says the LORD.
I have seen a disgusting thing in the temple of Israel: there Ephraim practices temple prostitution and Judah defiles itself.
They consult their wooden idols, and their diviner’s staff answers with an oracle.The wind of prostitution blows them astray; they commit spiritual adultery against their God. They sacrifice on the mountaintops, and burn offerings on the hills; they sacrifice under oak, poplar, and terebinth, because their shade is so pleasant. As a result, your daughters have become cult prostitutes,and your daughters-in-law commit adultery! I will not punish your daughters when they commit prostitution,nor your daughters-in-law when they commit adultery. For the men consort with harlots, they sacrifice with temple prostitutes.It is true: A people that lacks understanding will come to ruin!
The Lord’s Covenant Lawsuit against the Nation Israel Hear the word of the LORD, you Israelites! For the LORD has a covenant lawsuit against the people of Israel. For there is neither faithfulness nor loyalty in the land, nor do they acknowledge God. There is only cursing, lying, murder, stealing, and adultery.They resort to violence and bloodshed.
- At the beginning of Hosea’s ministry both the Northern and Southern Kingdom were flourishing with wealth and military prosperity. However, the Kingdom of Assyria was likewise growing and expanding.
Agricultural Fertility Withdrawn from Israel She has refused to acknowledge that I was the one who gave her the grain, the new wine, and the olive oil; and that it was I who lavished on her the silver and gold which they used in worshiping Baal! Therefore, I will take back my grain during the harvest time and my new wine when it ripens; I will take away my wool and my flax which I had provided in order to clothe her.
Otherwise, I will strip her naked,and expose her like she was when she was born. I will turn her land into a wilderness and make her country a parched land,
so that I might kill her with thirst.
For their mother has committed adultery; she who conceived them has acted shamefully. For she said, ‘I will seek out my lovers; they are the ones who give me my bread and my water, my wool, my flax, my olive oil, and my wine.
Then she will pursue her lovers, but she will not catch them;
she will seek them, but she will not find them. Then she will say, ‘I will go back to my husband, because I was better off then than I am now.’
- In 734 BC the Northern Kingdom is occupied by Assyria
- Israel attempted to throw off Assyria’s occupation in 722 BC
- Assyria fulfilled Hosea’s prophecy by defeating Israel’s capital, Samaria
- The people are deported and brought into captivity
- Judah would also likewise become a vassal state in the Assyrian Empire during Hosea’s ministry
- God’s intention of their imminent captivity by refusing to obey him is predicted and declared throughout Hosea’s work.
Israel Turns to Assyria and Egypt for Help Ephraim has been like a dove, easily deceived and lacking discernment.They called to Egypt for help; they turned to Assyria for protection. I will throw my bird net over them while they are flying, I will bring them down like birds in the sky; I will discipline them when I hear them flocking together.
Israel Has Turned Away from the Lord Woe to them! For they have fled from me! Destruction to them! For they have rebelled against me! I want to deliver them, but they have lied to me
Israel has forgotten his Maker and built royal palaces, and Judah has built many fortified cities. But I will send fire on their cities; it will consume their royal citadels.
The Lion Will Carry Israel Off Into Exile I will be like a lion to Ephraim, like a young lion to the house of Judah. I myself will tear them to pieces, then I will carry them off, and no one will be able to rescue them!
The Political and Cultic Sin of Israel They enthroned kings without my consent! They appointed princes without my approval! They made idols out of their silver and gold, but they will be destroyed! O Samaria, he has rejected your calf idol! My anger burns against them! They will not survive much longer without being punished, even though they are Israelites! That idol was made by a workman — it is not God! The calf idol of Samaria will be broken to bits.
- The book of Hosea opens with a startling command.
Symbols of Sin and Judgment: The Prostitute and Her Children When the LORD first spoke through Hosea, he said to him, ‘Go marry a prostitute who will bear illegitimate children conceived through prostitution, because the nation continually commits spiritual prostitution by turning away from the LORD.’
- The narrative parallels Hosea’s love and faithfulness to his adulterous and fleeing wife Gomer with God’s love and faithfulness towards his adulterous and fleeing wife, Israel.
- Hosea was told to continually love and pursue his wife despite her repetitive unfaithfulness.
An Illustration of God’s Love for Idolatrous Israel The LORD said to me, ‘Go, show love to your wife again, even though she loves another man and continually commits adultery. Likewise, the LORD loves the Israelites although they turn to other gods and love to offer raisin cakes to idols.’ So I paid fifteen shekels of silver and about seven bushels of barley to purchase her.
- Hosea had three children with Gomer.
- Each child was given a progressively sinister name and would become like a walking prophecy
- Jezreel ——> given as declaration against massacre at Jezreel (a place in the valley)
- Lo-ruhamah ——> “not pitied” indicates that although God would still take pity on the Southern Kingdom of Judah, God’s wrath on the Northern Kingdom was imminent and he would “certainly take them away.”
- Lo-ammi ——> “not my people”
- Yet even after God’s rebukes, we find a recursive hope on God’s part throughout Hosea to restore Israel as Hosea restored his wife.
The Divine Dilemma: Judgment or Mercy? How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I surrender you, O Israel? How can I treat you like Admah? How can I make you like Zeboiim? I have had a change of heart! All my tender compassions are aroused! I cannot carry out my fierce anger! I cannot totally destroy Ephraim! Because I am God, and not man — the Holy One among you — I will not come in wrath! God Will Restore the Exiles to Israel He will roar like a lion, and they will follow the LORD; when he roars, his children will come trembling from the west. They will return in fear and trembling like birds from Egypt,like doves from Assyria,and I will settle them in their homes,’ declares the LORD.
1) J. Leithart, A House for My Name: A Survey of the Old Testament, p.157, Canon Press, 2000.
2) Dr. Thomas L. Constable, Notes on Hosea, p.1, 2010 Edition. Dr. Constable’s notes are available to be viewed as a free online PDF document here: http://www.soniclight.com/constable/notes/pdf/hosea.pdf
3-B) Apologetics Study Bible p.1294, 2007.
4) 2 Kings 14:25-28; 2 Chron. 26:2, 6-15.
5) 2 Kings 15:29
6) Ibid. Constable
7) 2 Kings 17:1-6; 18:10-12.
8) 2 Kings 16:5-10
8-B) The Apologetics Study Bible p.1295, 2007. Footnote 1:2 lists four primary competing theories and offers a brief critique of each.
9) Footnote excised
10) Hosea 1:4
11) 2 Kings 10:11
12) The “House of Omri” is an Assyrian name for the Kingdom or house of Israel referring back to king Omri of Israel. The father of the northern king Ahab (whom Jehu killed and followed in ascendency after the Jezreel massacre).
13) E.M. Baiklock and R. K. Harrison, The New International dictionary of Biblical Archaeology (Grand Rapids Zondervan, 1983), 409. This obelisk was found in the biblical city of Calah and is widely held to be our earliest existing depiction of an Israelite.
14) Henry Jackson Flanders, Jr., Robert Wilson Crapps, David Anthony Smith. People of the Covenant: An Introduction to the Old Testament Third Edition p. 314. Oxford University Press 1988, New York Oxford.
15) Footnote excised.
16) Hosea 1:6
17) Apologetics Study Bible, p. 1295, Footnote c. 2007.
18) Footnote excised