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Bible Commentaries
Hosea 1

Ellicott's Commentary for English ReadersEllicott's Commentary

Verse 1

(1) In the days of Uzziah.—On the historical questions involved in this verse, see Introduction.

Verse 2

(2) The beginning of the word . . .—More correctly, In the beginning when the Lord spoke to Hosea, the Lord said . . .

Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms.—How are we to interpret the prophet’s marriage to the licentious Gomer? Is it an historic occurrence, the only too real tragedy of the author’s personal experience, employed for the purpose of illustration? (Comp. the domestic incident, Isaiah 8:1-4.) Or is this opening chapter a merely allegorical representation, designed to exhibit in vivid colours the terrible moral condition of Israel? (Comp. the symbolic actions described in Jeremiah 25:15-29; Ezekiel 4:4-6; and perhaps Isaiah 20:1-3.) Able writers have advocated each of these opposed theories; but in our opinion the balance of evidence inclines to the former view, which regards the events as historic. The further question arises, Was Gomer guilty before or after the marriage? The former supposition involves the harshness of conceiving such a marriage as the result of a Divine command; but the latter supposition admits of a satisfactory interpretation. The wickedness which after marriage revealed itself to the prophet’s agonised heart was transfigured to the inspired seer into an emblem of his nation’s wrong to Jehovah. In the light of this great idea, the prophet’s past came before him in changed aspect. As he reflected on the marvellous symbolic adaptation of this episode to the terrible spiritual needs of his fellow-countrymen, which he was called by God to supply, the Divine purpose which shaped his sorrowful career became interpreted to his glowing consciousness as a Divine command—“Go, take unto thyself a wife of whoredoms.” He had suffered acutely, but the agony was part of God’s arrangement, and the very love that was repeatedly outraged proves ultimately to have been suggested by a Divine monition.

Children of whoredoms.—Children of Hosea’s marriage. The whole result of his family history was included in this divinely ordered plan.

Verse 3

(3) Gomer the daughter of Diblaim.—Gomer means complete, or perfect, but whether in external beauty or in wickedness of character is not easy to determine.

Verse 4

(4) Jezreel means “God shall sow.” The prophet had already discovered the faithlessness of his spouse, and that his married life was symbolic of his nation’s history. Observe the resemblance in sound between Jezreel and Israel, and the historic associations of the former. It was the name of a very fertile plain in the tribe of Issachar, which was many times the scene of terrible struggles (Judges 4:13; Judges 6:33; Judges 7:1; 1 Samuel 29:1). It was also the name of a town associated with the guilt of Ahab and Jezebel in bringing about the murder of Naboth (1 Kings 21:0), and with the final extinction of Ahab’s house by Jehu (2 Kings 9:21; 2 Kings 10:11).

Verse 5

(5) I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel.—Jehu was to be punished for the assassination of Ahab’s descendants. Though the destruction of the house of Ahab was divinely appointed, its value was neutralised by Jehu’s tolerance of the calf-worship.

Verse 6

(6) Lo-ruhamah.—“Unloved,” or, perhaps, “unpitied.” The prophet’s growing despondency about his country’s future is revealed in her name. The rest of the verse is best rendered—For I will no longer have pity on the house of Israel, that I should indeed forgive them.

Verse 7

(7) Will save them . . .—We may consider this verse to have been literally fulfilled in the destruction of Sennacherib’s army. The prophetic outlook anticipates the fact that when Judah is captive and exiled, her restoration by the divine hand would take the form of mercy and forgiveness. (Comp. Psalms 76:0, Isaiah 40:1-2.)

Verse 9

(9) Closes the chapter in the Hebrew text. The episode above described is, in some particulars, the model for Ezekiel 16:0. Gomer’s child Lo ‘Ammi (not my people), is type of utter and final repudiation.

Verse 10

(10) An abrupt transition from dark presage to bright anticipation. The covenant-blessings promised to Abraham shall yet be realised.

Verse 11

(11) Shall come up out of the land.—Better, shall go up out of, &c., a phrase frequently occurring in Scripture, to denote the marching forth to war. Israel shall then be united. The envy of Israel and Judah shall cease. (Isaiah 11:12-13; Ezekiel 34:24; Ezekiel 37:24). A world-wide dominion shall be established under the restored theocracy. Under the word “land,” no reference is made by the prophet to exile, either in Babylon, Assyria, or Egypt, but Palestine is evidently meant. Then the true Israel, having chosen their true king, shall demonstrate the greatness of the day of Jezreel. The brothers and sisters will then drop the curse involved in their names, and recognise the Divine proprietorship of Jehovah and the abundance of His pity.

Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Hosea 1". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ebc/hosea-1.html. 1905.
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