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by John Gill
INTRODUCTION TO HOSEA
This book, in the Hebrew Bibles, at least in some copies, is called "Sopher Hosea", the Book of Hoses; and, in the Vulgate Latin and Arabic versions, "the Prophecy of Hoses": and, in the Syriac version, "the Prophecy of Hoses the Prophet". It is the first of the twelve lesser prophets, so called, not because they were of less value, credit, and authority, than the other prophets; but because of their smallness in bulk; and which, as Kimchi says, upon the authority of their Rabbins, were put together in one book, that no one of them might be lost, because of their smallness; and Josephus a reckons them but as one book; and they are quoted in the New Testament under the name of the Book of the Prophets b. This prophet was one of them, and therefore placed here; though, as Kimchi, in his preface to this book, and R. David Ganz c, observe, his prophecy was before the prophecy of Isaiah; and yet he was not the first of these minor prophets, as to order of time; not only Jonah, but Joel and Amos, were before him; and so they are placed by some writers; according to Mr. Whiston d, he began to prophesy about the year of the world 3196 A.M. and 808 B.C. Mr. Bedford e places him in 804 B.C. His name is the same with Joshua and Jesus, and signifies a saviour; and he was not only, as all the true prophets of the Lord and faithful ministers of the word are, the means and instruments in the hand of God of saving people; but he was a type of Christ the Saviour, as well as prophesied concerning him, and salvation by him. Of his parentage, and the time of his prophesying, see Hosea 1:1, by which it appears that he lived in several reigns, and to a very great age. He chiefly prophesied against the ten tribes of Israel; reproved them for their sins; exhorted them to repentance; threatened them with destruction in case of impenitence; and comforted the truly godly with the promise of the Messiah, and of the happy state of the church in the latter day. His style, is short and concise; in some places sententious, and without connection, obscure and difficult of interpretation; and in others very pathetic and moving. Of the divine inspiration and authority of this book there is no room to doubt; since passages out of it are quoted and referred to by Christ and his apostles; by Christ himself, Matthew 9:13 1 Peter 2:10 There are some things said of the descent, death, and burial of this prophet, not to be depended on. Pseudo Epiphanius f and Isidorus g say he was of the tribe of Issachar, and born in Belomoth or Bethlemoth; and that he died in peace, and was buried in his own country; but, according to a tradition of the Jews h, he died in Babylon, and was buried in Tzapheth, a city in upper Galilee; but all this is uncertain, and not very probable, and is of no importance to be known.
a Contr. Apion. l. 1. c. 8. b Acts vii. 42. c Tzemach David, fol. 12. 2. d Chronological Tables, cent. 7. e Scripture Chronology, B. 6. ch. 2. p. 645. f De Prophet. Vit. &c. c. 11. g De Vita & Mort. Sanct. c. 41.
the Fifth Week after Easter