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Reference: Hosea


The first of the twelve Minor Prophets, as arranged in our Bibles. He prophesied for a long time, from Uzziah to Hezekiah, about 785-725 B. C.

The BOOK OF HOSEA contains properly two parts. Ho 1-3 contains a series of symbolical actions directed against the idolatries of Israel. It is disputed whether the marriage of the prophet was a real transaction, or an allegorical vision; in all probability the latter is the correct view; but in either case it illustrates the relations of the idolatrous Israel to her covenant God. Ho 4-14 is chiefly occupied with denunciations against Israel, and especially Samaria, for the worship of idols, which prevailed there. Hosea's warnings are mingled with tender and pathetic expostulations. His style is obscure, and it is difficult to fix the periods or the divisions of his various predictions. He shows a joyful faith in the coming Redeemer, and is several times quoted in the New Testament, Mt 9:13; Ro 9:25-26; 1Pe 2:10.

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salvation, the son of Beeri, and author of the book of prophecies bearing his name. He belonged to the kingdom of Israel. "His Israelitish origin is attested by the peculiar, rough, Aramaizing diction, pointing to the northern part of Palestine; by the intimate acquaintance he evinces with the localities of Ephraim (Ho 5:1; 6:8-9; 12:12; 14:6, etc.); by passages like Ho 1:2, where the kingdom is styled 'the land', and Ho 7:5, where the Israelitish king is designated as 'our' king." The period of his ministry (extending to some sixty years) is indicated in the superscription (Ho 1:1-2). He is the only prophet of Israel who has left any written prophecy.

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Placed first of the minor prophets in the canon (one collective whole "the book of the prophets," Ac 7:42), probably because of the length, vivid earnestness, and patriotism of his prophecies, as well as their resemblance to those of the greater prophets, Chronologically Jonah was before him, 862 B.C., Joel about 810 B.C., Amos 790 B.C., Hosea 784 to 722 B.C., more or less contemporary with Isaiah and Amos. Began prophesying in the last years of Jeroboam II, contemporary with Uzziah; ended at the beginning of Hezekiah's reign. The prophecies of his extant are only those portions of his public teachings which the Holy Spirit preserved, as designed for the benefit of the uuiversal church. His name means salvation. Son of Beeri, of Issachar; born in Bethshemesh.

His pictures of Israelite life, the rival factions calling in Egypt and Assyria, mostly apply to the interreign after Jeroboam's death and to the succeeding reigns, rather than to his able government. In Ho 2:8 he makes no allusion to Jehovah's restoration of Israel's coasts under Jeroboam among Jehovah's mercies to Israel. He mentions in the inscription, besides the reign of Jeroboam in Israel, the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, though his prophecies are addressed primarily to Israel and only incidentally to Judah; for all the prophets whether in Judah or Israel regarded Israel's separation from Judah, civil as well as religious, as an apostasy from God who promised the kingship 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). Eichhorn sees a Samaritanism in the masculine suffix of the second person (-ak).

STYLE AND SUBJECT. Abrupt, sententious, and unperiodic, he is the more weighty and impressive. Brevity causes obscurity, the obscurity being designed by the Spirit to call forth prayerful study. Connecting particles are few. Changes of person, and anomalies of gender, number, and construction, abound. Horsley points out the excessively local and individual tone of his prophecies. He specifies Ephraim, Mizpah, Tabor, Gilgal, Bethel or Bethaven, Jezreel, Gibeah, Ramah, Gilead, Shechem, Lebanon, Arbela. Israel's sin, chastisement, and restoration are his theme. His first prophecy announces the coming overthrow of Jehu's house, fulfilled after Jeroboam's death, which the prophecy precedes, in Zachariah, Jeroboam's son, who was the fourth and last in descent from Jehu, and conspired against by Shallum after a six months' reign (2Ki 15:12).

The allusion to Shalmaneser's expedition against Israel as past, i.e. the first inroad against Hoshea whose reign began only four years before Hezekiah's, accords with the inscription which extends his prophesying to the reign of Hezekiah (2Ki 17:1,3; 18:9). He declares throughout that a return to Jehovah is the only remedy for the evils existing and impending: the calf worship at Bethel, established by Jeroboam, must be given up (Ho 8:5-6; 10:5; 13:2); unrighteousness toward men, the necessary consequence of impiety towards God, must cease, or sacrifices are worthless (Ho 4:2; 6:6, based on Samuel's original maxim, 1Sa 15:22). The Pentateuch is the foundation of his prophecies.

Here as there God's past favors to Israel are made the incentive to loving obedience (Ho 2:8; 11:1; 12:9; 13:4, compare Ex 20:2). Literal fornication and adultery follow close upon spiritual (Ho 4:12-14). Assyria, the great northern power, which Israel foolishly regards as her friend to save her from her acknowledged calamities, Hosea foresees will be her destroyer (Ho 5:13; 7:11; 8:9; 12:1; 14:3; 3:4; 10:6; 11:11). Political makeshifts to remedy moral corruption only hasten the disaster which they seek to avert; when the church leans on the world in her distress, instead of turning to God, the world the instrument of her sin is made the instrument of her punishment.

Hosea is driven by the nation's evils, present and in prospect, to cling the more closely to God. Amidst his rugged abruptness soft and exquisite touches occur, where God's lovingkindness, balmy as the morning sun and genial as the rain, stands in contrast to Israel's goodness, evanescent as the cloud and the early dew (Ho 6:3-4; compare also Ho 13:3; 14:5-7).

DIVISIONS. There are two leading ones: Hosea 1-3; Hosea 4-14. Hosea 1; Hosea 2; and Hosea 3 form three separate cantos or parts, for Hosea 1-3 are more prose than poetry. Probably Hosea himself under the Spirit combined his scattered prophecies into one collection. Hosea 4-14, are an expansion of Hosea 3. On his marriage to Gomer, Henderson thinks that there is no hint of its being in vision, and that she fell into lewdness after her union with Hosea, thus fitly symbolizing Israel who lapsed into spiritual whoredom after the marriage contract with God on Sinai. (See GOMER.) But an act revolting to a pure mind would hardly be ordained by God save in vision, which serves all the purposes of a vivid and as it were acted prophecy. So the command to Ezekiel (Ho 4:4-15).

Moreover it would require years for the birth of three children, which would weaken the force of the symbol. In order effectively to teach others Hosea must experimentally realize it himself (Ho 12:10). Gomer, daughter of Diblaim, was probably one associated with the lascivious rites of the prevalent idolatries. Hosea's union in vision with such an one in spite of his natural repugnance would vividly impress the people with God's amazing love in uniting Himself to so polluted a nation. Hosea's taking her back after adultery (Hosea 3), at the price of a slave, marks Israel's extreme degradation and Jehovah's unchangeable love yet about to restore her. The truth expressed by prophetic act in vision was Israel's idolatry (spiritual impurity, "a wife of whoredoms") before her call in Egypt and in Ur of the Chaldees (Jos 24:14) as well as after it.

So also the Saviour took out of an unholy world the church, that He might unite her in holiness to Himself. No more remarkable prophecy exists of Israel's anomalous and extraordinary state for thousands of years, and of her future restoration, than Ho 3:4-5; "Israel shall abide many days without a king (which they so craved for originally), without a sacrifice (which their law requires as essential to their religion), without an image ... ephod ... teraphim (which they were in Hosea's days so mad after). Afterward shall Israel return and seek the Lord their God, and David their king ... in the latter days." But first must come her spiritual probation in the wilderness of trial (Ho 2:14) and her return to the Egypt of affliction (Ho 8:13; 9:3), not literal "Egypt" (Ho 11:5).

New Testament references: Ho 11:1 = Mt 2:15; Ho 6:6 = Mt 9:13; 12:7; Ho 1:10; 2 = Ro 9:25-26; Ho 13:14 = 1Co 15:55; Ho 1:9-10; 2:23 = 1Pe 2:10; Ho 10:8 = Lu 23:30; Re 6:16; Ho 6:2 = 1Co 15:4; Ho 14:2 = Heb 13:15. The later prophets also stamp with their inspired sanction Hosea's prophecies, which they quote. Compare Ho 1:11 with Isa 11:12-13; Ho 4:3 with Zep 1:3; Ho 4:6 with Isa 5:13; Ho 7:10 with Isa 9:12-13; Ho 10:12 with Jer 4:3. (See OSHEA.)

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The name of the prophet Hosea, though distinguished by the English translators, is identical with that of the last king of Israel and with the original name of Joshua; in these cases it appears in the English Version as Hoshea. Hosea, the son of Beeri, is the only prophet, among those whose writings have survived, who was himself a native of the Northern Kingdom. The main subject of the prophecy of Amos is the Northern Kingdom, but Amos himself was a native of the South; so also were Isaiah and Micah, and these two prophets, though they included the Northern Kingdom in their denunciations, devoted themselves mainly to Judah.

Hosea's prophetic career extended from shortly before the fall of the house of Jerohoam ii. (c. b.c. 746) to shortly before the outbreak of the Syro-Ephraimitish war in b.c. 735

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Nothing is related of the ancestors of the prophet Hosea. (whose name is identical with Hoshea) except that he was the son of Beeri. He prophesied in the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and of Jeroboam king of Israel. He is especially occupied with the moral condition of the people, principally of Israel, and the judgements that would follow. Israel is treated as in rebellion from the commencement. The prophecy divides itself thus: Hosea 1- Hosea 3 give God's purposes respecting Israel; and in Hosea 4

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(salvation), son of Beeri, and first of the minor prophets. Probably the life, or rather the prophetic career, of Hosea extended from B.C. 784 to 723, a period of fifty-nine years. The prophecies of Hosea were delivered in the kingdom of Israel. Jeroboam II was on the throne, and Israel was at the height of its earthly splendor. Nothing is known of the prophet's life excepting what may be gained from his book.


HOSEA, son of Beeri, the first of the minor prophets. He is generally considered as a native and inhabitant of the kingdom of Israel, and is supposed to have begun to prophesy about B.C. 800. He exercised his office sixty years; but it is not known at what periods his different prophecies now remaining were delivered. Most of them are directed against the people of Israel, whom he reproves and threatens for their idolatry and wickedness, and exhorts to repentance, with the greatest earnestness, as the only means of averting the evils impending over their country. The principal predictions contained in this book, are the captivity and dispersion of the kingdom of Israel; the deliverance of Judah from Sennacherib; the present state of the Jews; their future restoration, and union with the Gentiles in the kingdom of the Messiah; the call of our Saviour out of Egypt, and his resurrection on the third day. The style of Hosea is peculiarly obscure; it is sententious, concise, and abrupt; the transitions of persons are sudden; and the connexive and adversative particles are frequently omitted. The prophecies are in one continued series, without any distinction as to the times when they were delivered, or the different subjects to which they relate. They are not so clear and detailed, as the predictions of those prophets who lived in succeeding ages. When, however, we have surmounted these difficulties, we shall see abundant reason to admire the force and energy with which this prophet writes, and the boldness of the figures and similitudes which he uses.

2. HOSEA, or HOSHEA, son of Elah, was the last king of Israel. Having conspired against Pekah, son of Remaliah, king of Israel, he killed him, A.M. 3265; B.C. 739. However, the elders of the land seem to have taken the government into their hands; for Hoshea was not in possession of the kingdom till nine years after, 2Ki 15:30; 17:1. Hoshea did evil in the sight of the Lord, but not equal to the kings of Israel who preceded him; that is, say the Jewish doctors, he did not restrain his subjects from going to Jerusalem to worship, if they would; whereas, the kings of Israel, his predecessors, had forbidden it, and had placed guards on the road to prevent it. Salmaneser, king of Assyria, being informed that Hoshea meditated a revolt, and had concerted measures with So, king of Egypt, to shake off the Assyrian yoke, marched against him, and besieged Samaria. After a siege of three years, in the ninth year of Hoshea's reign, the city was taken, and was reduced to a heap of ruins, A.M. 3282. The king of Assyria removed the Israelites of the ten tribes to countries beyond the Euphrates, and thus terminated the kingdom of the ten tribes.

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