Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
The word of the LORD that came unto Hosea, the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel.
THE BOOK OF HOSEA Commentary by A. R. Faussett
The first of the twelve minor prophets in the order of the canon (called "minor," not as less in point of inspired authority, but simply in point of size). The twelve are first mentioned by Jesus, the son of Sirach (Ecclesiasticus 49:10). St. Stephen, in Ac 7:42 (in referring to Am 5:27), quotes them as forming one collective body of writings, "the book of the prophets." So Jerome and Melito, the first Greek father who has left us a catalogue of these books. The collection of the sacred books is by Jewish tradition attributed to the great synagogue of learned scribes formed by Ezra. Many think Nehemiah completed this collection by adding to the books already in the canon those of his own times. Malachi, the last in the series, probably aided him in determining with infallible authority what books were entitled to be ranked in the inspired canon. The chronological order differs from the canonical. Joel, about 810 B.C.; Jonah, about 810 B.C., or, as others, first, 862 B.C.; Amos, about 790 B.C.; Hosea, about 784 B.C. Hosea, the contemporary of Isaiah, Micah, and Amos, seems to have entered on his prophetical office in the last years of Jeroboam (contemporary in part with Uzziah), and to have ended it in the beginning of Hezekiah's reign, 722 B.C., that is, about sixty years in all, from 784 B.C. to 722 B.C. The prophets, however, were not uninterruptedly engaged in prophesying. Considerable intervals elapsed, though their office as divinely commissioned public teachers was never wholly laid aside. The Book of Hosea which we have constitutes only that portion of his public teachings which the Holy Spirit saw fit to preserve for the benefit of the Church. The cause of his being placed first of the twelve was, probably, the length, the vivid earnestness, and patriotism of his prophecies, as well as their closer resemblance to those of the greater prophets. His style is abrupt, sententious, and unrounded; the connecting particles are few; there are changes of person, and anomalies of gender, number, and construction. His name means Salvation. He was son of Beeri, of the tribe of Issachar, born in Beth-shemesh [Jerome]. His mention, in the inscription, of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, is no proof that he belonged to Judah: for the prophets in Israel regarded its separation from Judah, civil as well as religious, as an apostasy from God, who promised the dominion of the theocracy to the line of David. Hence Elijah in Israel took twelve stones to represent Judah, as well as Israel (1Ki 18:31). Hence Hosea dates from Judah's kings, as well as from Jeroboam of Israel, though he belonged to Israel, with whose sins and fate his book is chiefly occupied. He, however, makes incidental references to Judah. His first prophecy foretells the overthrow of Jehu's house, fulfilled on the death of Jeroboam, Jehu's great-grandson (2Ki 15:12), in Zachariah, Jeroboam's son, the fourth and last from Jehu, conspired against by Shallum. This first prediction was doubtless in Jeroboam's life, as Zachariah, his son, was only suffered to reign six months; thus the inscription is verified that "the word of the Lord came unto him in the days of Jeroboam" (Ho 1:1). Again, in Ho 10:14, Shalmaneser's expedition against Israel is alluded to as past, that is, the first inroad against King Hoshea, who began to reign in the twelfth year of Ahaz; so that as Ahaz' whole reign was sixteen years, the prophecy seems to have been given about the beginning of Hezekiah's reign. Thus the inscription is confirmed that the exercise of his prophetical functions was of such a protracted duration.
Hosea (Ho 11:1) is quoted in Mt 2:15; also Ho 6:6 in Mt 9:13; 12:7; compare Ro 9:25, 26, quoting Ho 1:10; 2:1, 23; 1Co 15:55, quoting Ho 13:14; 1Pe 2:10, quoting Ho 1:9, 10; 2:23. Messianic references are not frequent; but the predictions of the future conversion of Israel to the Lord their God, and David their king, and of the fulfilment of the promise to Abraham that his spiritual seed should be as the sand of the sea (Ho 1:10; 3:5), clearly refer to the New Testament dispensation.
The first and third chapters are in prose, the rest of the book is rhythmical.
Ho 1:1-11. Inscription.
Spiritual whoredom of Israel set forth by symbolical acts; Gomer taken to wife at God's command: Jezreel, Lo-ruhamah, and Lo-Ammi, the children. Yet a promise of Judah and Israel's restoration.
1. The word of the Lord that came unto Hosea—See Introduction.
Jeroboam—the second; who died in the fifteenth year of Uzziah's forty-one years' reign. From his time forth all Israel's kings worshipped false gods: Zachariah (2Ki 15:9), Menahem (2Ki 15:18), Pekahiah (2Ki 15:24), Pekah (2Ki 15:28), Hoshea (2Ki 17:2). As Israel was most flourishing externally under Jeroboam II, who recovered the possessions seized on by Syria, Hosea's prophecy of its downfall at that time was the more striking as it could not have been foreseen by mere human sagacity. Jonah the prophet had promised success to Jeroboam II from God, not for the king's merit, but from God's mercy to Israel; so the coast of Israel was restored by Jeroboam II from the entering of Hamath to the sea of the plain (2Ki 14:23-27).
The beginning of the word of the LORD by Hosea. And the LORD said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the LORD.
2. beginning—not of the prophet's predictions generally, but of those spoken by Hosea.
take … wife of whoredoms—not externally acted, but internally and in vision, as a pictorial illustration of Israel's unfaithfulness [Hengstenberg]. Compare Eze 16:8, 15, &c. Besides the loathsomeness of such a marriage, if an external act, it would require years for the birth of three children, which would weaken the symbol (compare Eze 4:4). Henderson objects that there is no hint of the transaction being fictitious: Gomer fell into lewdness after her union with Hosea, not before; for thus only she was a fit symbol of Israel, who lapsed into spiritual whoredom after the marriage contract with God on Sinai, and made even before at the call of the patriarchs of Israel. Gomer is called "a wife of whoredoms," anticipatively.
children of whoredoms—The kingdom collectively is viewed as a mother; the individual subjects of it are spoken of as her children. "Take" being applied to both implies that they refer to the same thing viewed under different aspects. The "children" were not the prophet's own, but born of adultery, and presented to him as his [Kitto, Biblical Cyclopædia]. Rather, "children of whoredoms" means that the children, like their mother, fell into spiritual fornication. Compare "bare him a son" (see Ho 2:4, 5). Being children of a spiritual whore, they naturally fell into her whorish ways.
So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim; which conceived, and bare him a son.
3. Gomer … daughter of Diblaim—symbolical names; literally, "completion, daughter of grape cakes"; the dual expressing the double layers in which these dainties were baked. So, one completely given up to sensuality. Maurer explains "Gomer" as literally, "a burning coal." Compare Pr 6:27, 29, as to an adulteress; Job 31:9, 12.
And the LORD said unto him, Call his name Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu, and will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel.
4. Jezreel—that is, "God will scatter" (compare Zec 10:9). It was the royal city of Ahab and his successors, in the tribe of Issachar. Here Jehu exercised his greatest cruelties (2Ki 9:16, 25, 33; 10:11, 14, 17). There is in the name an allusion to "Israel" by a play of letters and sounds.
And it shall come to pass at that day, that I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel.
5. bow—the prowess (Jer 49:35; compare Ge 49:24).
valley of Jezreel—afterwards called Esdraelon, extending ten miles in breadth, and in length from Jordan to the Mediterranean near Mount Carmel, the great battlefield of Palestine (Jud 6:33; 1Sa 29:1).
And she conceived again, and bare a daughter. And God said unto him, Call her name Loruhamah: for I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel; but I will utterly take them away.
6. Lo-ruhamah—that is, "not an object of mercy or gracious favor."
take … away—Israel, as a kingdom, was never restored from Assyria, as Judah was from Babylon after seventy years. Maurer translates according to the primary meaning, "No more will I have mercy on the house of Israel, so as to pardon them."
But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will save them by the LORD their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen.
7. Judah is only incidentally mentioned to form a contrast to Israel.
by the Lord their God—more emphatic than "by Myself"; by that Jehovah (Me) whom they worship as their God, whereas ye despise Him.
not … by bow—on which ye Israelites rely (Ho 1:5, "the bow of Israel"); Jeroboam II was famous as a warrior (2Ki 14:25). Yet it was not by their warlike power Jehovah would save Judah (1Sa 17:47; Ps 20:7). The deliverance of Jerusalem from Sennacherib (2Ki 19:35), and the restoration from Babylon, are herein predicted.
Now when she had weaned Loruhamah, she conceived, and bare a son.
8. weaned—said to complete the symbolical picture, not having any special signification as to Israel [Henderson]. Israel was bereft of all the privileges which were as needful to them as milk is to infants (compare Ps 131:2; 1Pe 2:2) [Vatablus]. Israel was not suddenly, but gradually cast off; God bore with them with long-suffering, until they were incurable [Calvin]. But as it is not God, but Gomer who weans Lo-ruhamah, the weaning may imply the lust of Gomer, who was hardly weaned when she is again pregnant [Manger].
Then said God, Call his name Loammi: for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God.
9. Lo-Ammi—once "My people," but henceforth not so (Eze 16:8). The intervals between the marriage and the successive births of the three children, imply that three successive generations are intended. Jezreel, the first child, represents the dynasty of Jeroboam I and his successors, ending with Jehu's shedding the blood of Jeroboam's line in Jezreel; it was there that Jezebel was slain, in vengeance for Naboth's blood shed in the same Jezreel (1Ki 16:1; 2Ki 9:21, 30). The scenes of Jezreel were to be enacted over again on Jehu's degenerate race. At Jezreel Assyria routed Israel [Jerome]. The child's name associates past sins, intermediate punishments, and final overthrow. Lo-ruhamah ("not pitied"), the second child, is a daughter, representing the effeminate period which followed the overthrow of the first dynasty, when Israel was at once abject and impious. Lo-Ammi ("not my people"), the third child, a son, represents the vigorous dynasty (2Ki 14:25) of Jeroboam II; but, as prosperity did not bring with it revived piety, they were still not God's people.
Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God.
10. Literally fulfilled in part at the return from Babylon, in which many Israelites joined with Judah. Spiritually, the believing seed of Jacob or Israel, Gentiles as well as Jews, numerous "as the sand" (Ge 32:12); the Gentiles, once not God's people, becoming His "sons" (Joh 1:12; Ro 9:25, 26; 1Pe 2:10; 1Jo 3:1). To be fulfilled in its literal fulness hereafter in Israel's restoration (Ro 11:26).
the living God—opposed to their dead idols.
Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head, and they shall come up out of the land: for great shall be the day of Jezreel.
11. Judah … Israel … together—(Isa 11:12, 13; Jer 3:18; Eze 34:23; 37:16-24).
one head—Zerubbabel typically; Christ antitypically, under whom alone Israel and Judah are joined, the "Head" of the Church (Eph 1:22; 5:23), and of the hereafter united kingdom of Judah and Israel (Jer 34:5, 6; Eze 34:23). Though "appointed" by the Father (Ps 2:6), Christ is in another sense "appointed" as their Head by His people, when they accept and embrace Him as such.
out of the land—of the Gentiles among whom they sojourn.
the day of Jezreel—"The day of one" is the time of God's special visitation of him, either in wrath or in mercy. Here "Jezreel" is in a different sense from that in Ho 1:4, "God will sow," not "God will scatter"; they shall be the seed of God, planted by God again in their own land (Jer 24:6; 31:28; 32:41; Am 9:15).