Session 1 | Hosea 1:1-10
Hosea 1:1 | Introducing The Prophet
The prophet Hosea carried out his ministry in the Northern Kingdom of Israel, among her 10 tribes. His ministry spanned many decades (possibly more than 70 years), and was in the times of four Judean Kings, Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. However, his ministry was in the north, during the reign of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel. The chronology of the Kings in this verse is difficult, with several interpretations given. For the purposes of our study we will not analyze those issues, but the student of history may want to do so.
I will be so bold as to give a premise for this study. Namely, that Hosea represents God in relationship to Israel, who is represented by Gomer. The children represent future generations of Israel in various stages. This premise must (and will be) questioned through the study and abandoned when necessary.
Hosea 1:2-5 | The Prophet's Wife And First Child: Jezreel
Verse 2 --
“in the beginning the Lord spoke through Hosea." Chronologically, Hosea is the first of all the prophets who have a book in the Bible.
Hosea is given the shocking instruction to take unto thee a wife of whoredoms. Are we to take this as instruction to marry a prostitute, as most do? The text certainly uses a word properly translated whoredoms, this much is undeniable. But we are also aware that prophetic Scripture is filled with figures of speech. Could it be that whoredoms refers more to idolatry than fornication? If this is the case, we do not know the wife's moral behavior, only her spiritual behavior. But one may protest that God could have easily chosen the word for idolatry if that is the meaning He intended. And indeed, this is true. However, the same verse speaks of the land that hath committed great whoredom, using the same Hebrew word, but defining it as departing If the whoredom of the land is a departure from God (i.e., idolatry), could we not say the same about the woman? Furthermore, there are many passages which substitute *whoredom for idolatry (see 2 Chron. 21:13, for example). As for me, I will refrain from claiming to know anything of the wife's sexual behaviors and see the instruction from God as one to marry a woman of the idolatrous tribes of the north*.
I have no doubt that Gomer the daughter of Diblaim is a real person, nor that such is her name. But there is symbolism in the two names. The name Gomer“to come to completion," with reference to the prophecy. Her father's name, Diblaim is related to figs, but the word was often used euphemistically of sexual pleasure, according to the Jewish sage, Rashi.
The marriage union brought forth the first son.
Verse 4 --
The son was to be named Jezreel for two stated reasons. First, the Lord was promising to avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu. Here, the name Jezreel refers to the valley in which Jehu killed Ahab, the wicked King. Jehu himself became King, but did not cleanse the land of false gods, thus defiling the Valley of Jezreel. Jeroboam (v. 1) was king of Israel and of the house of Jehu. The Lord promised to avenge the blood...upon the house of Jehu.
Second, and related, the Lord will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel. Both the house of Jehu and his entire nation would fall. There would not be another dynasty.
Verse 5 --
The bow of Israel is a figure of speech, referring to the armies of Israel. This was fulfilled in 2 Kings 18:11, with the fall of the northern kingdom.
Hosea 1:6-7 | The Prophet's Second Child: Lo-ruhammah
Verse 6 --
The second child, a daughter, is to be named Lo-ruhamah. In Hebrew, lo is the negator, at times standing alone (as no, not, neither, etc.) and at other times hyphenated, as here (as well as v. 9, and 2 Sam. 9:5). The word racham, from which ruhamah comes, means to show love (as in Rom. 9:25), or to have mercy (as here and 1 Pet. 2:10), or to be compassionate. The root word, rehem“the womb," and thus it has to do with motherly care.
God chooses this name because He promises to utterly take them away, signifying destruction.
Verse 7 --
In contrast, God promises mercy upon the house of Judah, whose salvation will come from God Himself, and not from the forces of man.
A note on vv. 6-7 together: In the short-term, God is promising to destroy the northern kingdom and to save the southern kingdom. Whether verse 7 has a longer-term prophecy cannot be discerned from this verse alone. In the short-term, the Assyrians destroyed the northern kingdom, but when they later came against the southern kingdom, the angel of the Lord went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand“salvation" poetry of verse 7 gives hint that perhaps there is more to this prophecy than its short-term outlook.
Hosea 1:8-9 | The Prophet's Third Child: Lo-ammi
Verses 8-9 -
The third child, a son, was to be named Lo-ammi, meaning not my people. Certainly this had ominous overtones, expressed clearly when God said, I will not be your God.
A note on vv. 2-5: the reader can recognize the initial prophetic implications, given allegorically, to Israel. Any student of prophecy, however, has already grown a suspicion, even an expectation, that there is more to it than the short-term view. For that, we shall wait and see, allowing the text to speak for itself when it desires.