Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, July 13th, 2024
the Week of Proper 9 / Ordinary 14
Take your personal ministry to the Next Level by helping StudyLight build churches and supporting pastors in Uganda.
Click here to join the effort!

Bible Commentaries
Hosea 1

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

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 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. By dating his prophecies by the reign of the kings of Judah, Hosea marks that God recognizes the kingdom of Judah as alone legitimate (see Introduction).

Jeroboam - the second; who died in the 15th year of Uzziah's 41 years' reign. From his time forth all Israel's kings worshipped false gods: Zachariah (2 Kings 15:9), Menahem (2 Kings 15:18), Pekahiah (2 Kings 15:24), Pekah (2 Kings 15:28), Hoshea (2 Kings 17:2). Since Israel was most flourishing externally under Jeroboam II, who recovered the possessions seized on by Syria under Hazael, Hosea's prophecy of its downfall at that time was the more striking, the less it could have been foreseen by mere human sagacity. God alone could utter such a voice of thunder out of the midst of such a cloudless sky (Pusey). Jonah the prophet had promised success to Jeroboam II from God, not for the king's merit, but from God's mercy to Israel, when "He saw that the affliction of Israel was very bitter:" so the coast of Israel was restored by Jeroboam II from the entering of Hamath (i:e., from the northern extremity near Mount Hermon, bordering on Syria, where there was the pass of Hamath into the Holy Land) to the sea of the plain, or the Dead Sea (2 Kings 14:23-27). The word of the Lord came to Hosea, not from his own mind, but from God. So Paul begins, "Paul, an apostle (not of man, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father)." (Galatians 1:1). The word was existing in God's mind as God's, first; then it came to the prophet, and became his. So "the word of God came unto John" (Luke 3:2).

Hosea - meaning salvation.

Son of Beeri - meaning my well. The prophet in his very name typified the Saviour, of whom he prophecies, the Son of the Father, from whose love, as the well-spring, salvation in Christ hath flowed. Compare Isaiah 12:3, "With joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation."

Verse 2

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.

The beginning of the word of the Lord by Hosea - or IN Hosea (Pusey). [Bª-] God first revealed Himself in Hosea, and then to others by Hosea. So in Paul's case (Galatians 1:16; Galatians 1:23).

Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms - not externally acted, but internally and in vision, as a pictorial illustration of Israel's unfaithfulness (Hengstenberg). Compare Ezekiel 16:8; Ezekiel 16:15, etc. 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 (cf. Ezekiel 4:4, etc., notes). 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. But it is plain that in the text she is supposed to have been an adulteress before the prophet takes her, whence she is called "a wife of whoredoms" - i:e., one entirely given up to whoredom-as "man of bloods" means a bloody man. Irenaeus and Augustine make her to have been unchaste before her marriage to Hosea, which marks the grace shown to her by him who so freely ignored the past, and joined her to him in holy wedlock; just as God, in electing love, chooses sinners to be joined in holy union to Him; and so joined Israel to Him, notwithstanding Israel's idolatry before her call in Egypt, and in Ur of the Chaldees (Joshua 24:14). 'Not only in visions seen and in words preached, but acts also was He (Christ) seen by the prophets. For which cause Hosea took a wife of whoredoms, prophesying by his act that the earth shall commit whoredoms, departing from the Lord, and that of such men God will be pleased to take to Himself a Church, to be sanctified by the communication of His Son, as she, too, was sanctified by the communion of the prophet. Wherefore Paul also saith, "The unbelieving woman is sanctified by her believing husband"' (Irenoeus, 4: 20, 12). Still I prefer the view which, as in the case of Ezekiel's lying on his side 390 days, regards the act as performed in internal vision, and not externally. An act revolting to a pure mind would hardly be ordained by God except in vision, which serves all the purposes of the prophecy. Herein he typified the Saviour uniting to himself what was unholy, in order to make it holy.

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 Cyclopaedia'). Rather, "children of whoredoms" means that the children, like their mother, fell spiritual fornication. Compare Hosea 1:3, "bare him a son" (see Hosea 2:4-5). Being children of a spiritual whore, they naturally fell into her whorish ways.

For land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the Lord - literally, from after [ mee'achªreey (H310)] the Lord. Our calling is to follow hard after the Lord (Psalms 63:8), "forgetting the things behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before" (Philippians 3:13). To turn aside from following after our Divine Husband and Lord is spiritual adultery.

Verse 3

So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim; which conceived, and bare him a son.

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 Proverbs 6:27; Proverbs 6:29, as to an adulteress; Job 31:9; Job 31:12.

Verse 4

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.

Call his name Jezreel - i:e., God will scatter (cf. Zechariah 10:9, "I will sow them among the people"). The similarity in sound of Jezreel to Israel (which was originally pronounced Yisrael) marks the connection between the sin and its punishment. They who had been by God's grant "princes with God" (so Israel means) shall be now by God's sentence, "scattered by God" (Jezreel). It was the royal city of Ahab and his successors, in the tribe of Issachar. Here Jehu exercised his greatest cruelties on the house of Ahab and Ahaziah king of Judah (2 Kings 9:16; 2 Kings 9:25; 2 Kings 9:33; 2 Kings 10:11; 2 Kings 10:14; 2 Kings 10:17).

For yet a little while, and I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu. Sir H. Rawlinson and Dr. Hincks separately deciphered the name 'Jahua [Yaahu'], son of Khumri' as one who paid tribute for his throne to the King of Assyria, in the cuneiform inscriptions upon the black obelisk in the British Museum. This prophecy, given in the reign of Jeroboam II, was fulfilled in the slaughter, by the conspirator Shallum, of Zachariah, the great-grandson of Jehu, the fourth and last from that monarch (2 Kings 15:8-12). Zachariah reigned only six months. The prophecy of Hosea was a fresh proclamation of the word of the Lord, originally spoken to Jehu himself, 2 Kings 10:30, "Thy children of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel." That Jehu sent tribute to the King of Assyria, to secure to himself the throne which God had given him, falls in with his character and his half belief, using all means, human or divine, to establish his own end. In one and the same spirit he destroyed the Baal worshippers as adherents of Ahab, retained the calf-worship, courted the ascetic Jonadab son of Rechab, spoke of the death of Jehoram as the fulfillment of prophecy, and sought help from the King of Assyria (Pusey). Though Jehu shed the blood of the house of Ahab in external obedience to God's command, yet because his motive was only regard to his own political ends, as was proved by his adherence to Jeroboam's sin in worshipping the golden calves, while he was rewarded temporarily for his measure of external obedience, the blood which he so shed to further his own ambition, and not from the pure principle of obedience to God, was counted as sin to him, and was ultimately visited with judgment on his descendants.

Verse 5

And it shall come to pass at that day, that I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel.

I will break the bow of Israel - the prowess (Jeremiah 49:35: cf. Genesis 49:24, "His bow abode in strength").

In the valley of Jezreel - afterward called ( Jdt 1:8 ) the great plain of Esdraelon, extending ten miles in breadth, and in length from the Mediterranean, near Mount Carmel, to the Jordan, which it reaches through two arms between the mountains of Gilboa, Little Hermon, and Tabor. From south to north it extends from the mountains of Ephraim to those of Galilee. It was the great battlefield of Palestine (Judges 6:33; 1 Samuel 29:1). In the same plain where Jehu affected such zeal in avenging the innocent blood shed by Ahab on his guilty seed, God was about to break the might of Israel. Hosea lived to see his own, prophecy fulfilled when Shalman or Shalmaneser "spoiled Betharbel in the day of battle" on the same plain, "dashing the mother in pieces upon her own children" Hosea 10:14).

Verse 6

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.

Call her name Lo-ruhamah - i:e., Not an object of mercy or gracious favour. The Hebrew word is intensive, and expresses the tender yearnings of the inmost soul over one deeply beloved.

I will utterly take them away. Israel, as a kingdom, was never restored from Assyria, as Judah was from Babylon after 70 years. Maurer translates, according to a common meaning (see margin), 'no more will I have mercy on the house of Israel, so as to pardon them.' Pusey renders [ naaso' (H5375)] 'esaa' (H5375) laahem (H3807a), literally, taking away, I will take away from, or with regard to them-namely, everything: their guilty conscience would supply the awful ellipsis. God specifies not what He will take away, but dwells on the taking away as what He is about utterly and completely to do.

Verse 7

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.

But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah. Judah is only incidentally mentioned, to form a contrast to Israel.

And will save them by the Lord their God - more emphatic than 'by myself;' by that Yahweh (me) whom they worship as "their God," whereas ye despise him.

Not ... by bow - on which ye Israelites rely (Hosea 1:5, "the bow of Israel"). Jeroboam II was famous as a warrior (2 Kings 14:25). Yet it was not by their warlike power Yahweh would save Judah (1 Samuel 17:47; Psalms 20:7; Psalms 44:6, "I will not trust in my bow, neither shall my sword save me. But thou hast saved us from our enemies"). The miraculous deliverance of Jerusalem from Sennacherib (2 Kings 19:35), and the restoration from Babylon, are herein predicted. Judah governed by kings of David's line, and having the true worship of God, the temple, and the sacrifices, was to experience a mercy which was denied to Israel, as being founded and governed in apostasy from God. Not one of their kings that did not follow the sin of Jeroboam. the worship of the symbol of God, the calves, and some of them had also fallen into the grossest idolatry, Baal worship, etc.

Verse 8

Now when she had weaned Loruhamah, she conceived, and bare a son.

Now, when she had weaned Lo-ruhamah - said to complete the symbolical picture, not having any special signification as to Israel (Henderson). Or it may imply that Israel was bereft of all the privileges which were as needful to them as milk is to infants (cf. Psalms 131:2, "I have ... quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother;" 1 Peter 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 has hardly weaned when she is again pregnant (Manger). But Oriental women do not wean their children until they are two or even three years old. Therefore I prefer considering this period as marking an interval between the two stages of punishment of Israel.

Verse 9

Then said God, Call his name Loammi: for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God.

Call his name Lo-ammi - once "my people," but henceforth not so (Ezekiel 16:8, "I sware unto thee and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord God, and thou becamest mine"). 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 the Jezreelite Naboth's blood shed in the same Jezreel (1 Kings 21:1; 2 Kings 9:21; 2 Kings 9:30). The scenes of Jezreel were to be enacted over again on Jehu's degenerate race. At Jezreel the Assyrian. Shalmaneser 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 (2 Kings 14:25) of Jeroboam II; but, as prosperity did not bring with it revived piety, they were still not God's people. Therefore both his house and his kingdom fell with him. So little is temporal prosperity to be recorded as a certain proof of God's favour, or of permanence and stability. For another view (Pusey's) see Remarks.

I will not be your God - literally, 'I will not be for you' (by my Providence), or 'to you' by love (Pusey).

Verse 10

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.

Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be ... numbered.

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, shall be numerous "as the sand" (Genesis 32:12, "I will make thy seed (Jacob's) as the sand of the sea").

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 - the Gentiles, once not God's people, becoming His "sons" by adoption and grace through faith (John 1:12; Galatians 3:26; Romans 9:25-26, "As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved (Paul's rendering of Lo-ruhamah). And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God; 1 Peter 2:10, "Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy (Peter's rendering of Lo-ruhamah), but now have obtained mercy. Both love and mercy are included in the Hebrew, Ruhamah; 1 John 3:1). To be fulfilled in its literal fullness hereafter in Israel's restoration (Romans 11:26, "All Israel shall be saved").

The living God - opposed to their dead idols.

Verse 11

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.

Then shall the children of Judah and the childern of Israel be gathered together - (Isaiah 11:12-13, "He shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah ... Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim; Jeremiah 3:18; Ezekiel 37:16-24, wherein the stick of Ephraim was joined to the stick of Judah, and God saith, I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel, and one king shall be king to them all").

And appoint themselves one head - Zerubbabel typically; Christ antitypically, under whom alone Israel and Judah are joined, the "Head" of the Church (Ephesians 1:22; Ephesians 5:23), and of the hereafter united kingdom of Judah and Israel (Jeremiah 23:5-6; Ezekiel 34:23). Though "appointed" by the Father (Psalms 2:6), Christ is in another sense "appointed" as their Head by His people, when they accept and embrace Him as such.

And they shall come up out of the land - of the Gentiles, among whom they sojourn. The phrase "come up" refers to the moral elevation of the land of promise, as compared with all other lands. So Isaiah 2:2-3, "The mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains ... and many people shall ... say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob."

For great shall be 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, Hosea 1:4, "God will sow," not "God will scatter;" great shall be the day when they shall be the seed of God, planted by God again in their own land (Jeremiah 24:6; Jeremiah 31:28; Jeremiah 32:41; Amos 9:15).


(1) God in this chapter sets forth the apostasy of the Israelite kingdom of the ten tribes, not only by word, but by action, which is more impressive than words. The prophet Hosea, is directed to take, in vision, a wife of whoredoms, and thus to have, as his children, children of whoredoms, as a vivid pictorial representation of God's grace to Israel, in having joined her to Him originally, when she was naturally impure, in order that He might make her pure in holy communion with Himself. Herein we have an affecting image of the Lord's unmerited grace toward us, in that, "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). The Church, whom He hath espoused to Himself, is composed of those who originally were all alike defiled with corruption, and estranged from their rightful Lord and Head; but He, with marvelous and gratuitous love, deigns, out of such impure elements, to mould a church, to become, in communion with Him, a bride without spot or wrinkle (Ephesians 5:25-32).

(2) The wife so taken by the prophet in vision bare him a son, whose name was called, by the direction of God, "Jezreel" - that is, God will scatter. Hereby God intimated that, as formerly His covenant-people were rightly called Israel-that is, Princes with God-by the might of faith and prayer, so now, because of their unfaithfulness, they should become that which Jezreel, the name of their royal city, means, scattered by God. As the mother Gomer, whose name implies complete devotion to sensuality, represents man in his natural carnality the call of God, so the children represent the awful tendency of man, even when in outward communion with God, to prove unfaithful to Him, and therefore the consequent rejection of the false professor by God. The Lord bears our provocations and inconsistencies with exceeding long-suffering. We should be wearied out with half the ingratitude and perverseness from others with which we try the patience and grieve the gracious Spirit of God. Yet there is a judicial limit even to God's long-suffering. And as in the case of Israel, so in the case of all who long abuse great spiritual privileges-God will cast them out from His presence at last, and punish with the heavier stripes in proportion to the greater degree of knowledge of His will which once they enjoyed.

(3) God, moreover, declared that He would avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu (Hosea 1:4). At first sight it may seem strange that God should punish for what He Himself had commanded to be done. But let us remember, when God commands, He requires that He should be obeyed, not merely in the outward act, but also in the inward motion. Jehu had obeyed God's command in the outward act of shedding the blood of Ahab's doomed race, and received a present reward accordingly. But in the inward motive which God requires, a complete surrender of man's will to God's will, Jehu was utterly wanting. So long as his so-called "zeal for the Lord" (2 Kings 10:16) coincided with his own personal ambition, so long he obeyed God; but when false political expediency required, as he thought, that he should disregard God's will, by worshipping the golden calves, he did not hesitate to do the very sin for which the divine judgment had been inflicted by the hands of himself on the house of Jeroboam. By his disobedience in this case he plainly showed that he would have disobeyed in the other case also, had it been contrary to his own impetuous will and selfish ambition. Let us hence learn that if we do the will of God merely for the sake of our own ends, and not from the pure principle of obedience, we are not pleasing God, but pleasing ourselves; and however prosperous we he for a time, in the end must pay an awful penalty for virtual disobedience.

(4) Hosea foretold that the kingdom of Israel would ere long "cease" to exist (Hosea 1:4). Yet at the time Israel was (4) Hosea foretold that the kingdom of Israel would ere long "cease" to exist (Hosea 1:4). Yet at the time Israel was in a state of prosperity, under Jeroboam II, such as it had not enjoyed since the days of Solomon. Through God's tender pity for Israel in her affliction by the Syrians; Jeroboam was permitted to recover all the territory that had been lost to Israel, and even to gain possession of Damascus. So entirely independent of mere human sagacity and foresight was the prophet's prediction. No material prosperity is a guarantee of safety to that people whose stability rests not on the moral basis of the fear of God and obedience to His laws. Where the will of God is regarded, there, even amidst outward trials, there is a pledge of final prosperity. Where God is set at nought, and men proudly rely on temporal resources as securing them from evil, there they are on the verge of an awful downfall.

(5) Three successive stages are marked in God's judgments on Israel, by the three children born in succession to the prophet by his wife, according to the vision. As "Jezreel" marks the period when, under Jeroboam II, the nation was seemingly in the robustness of masculine strength, but was doomed to have that strength scattered by the Lord, so "Lo-ruhamah" corresponds to the period which followed of woman-like weakness, when law and government had no power to establish the throne and kingdom, and the God who yearns with fatherly pity over His children doomed Israel to exclusion from His tender pity and love. Finally, the people having been "weaned" (Hosea 1:8) from the milk of the Word, and from all their former rich privileges, were to be "not the Lord's people," the last awful stage in their doom, marked by the name of the third child, Lo-ammi. How terrible is the case of that people, or that individual, who, after chastisements, remains still unchanged, and is therefore given up to eat the fruit of his own way! Such a one may temporally prosper for a time; but spiritually God seals his speedily coming doom forever with that sentence, "Ye are not my people, and I will not be your God."

(6) In lovely contrast to this stands the promise, "I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will save them by the Lord their God" (Hosea 1:7). God saves His people, not by their own efforts or powers, but by Himself, and by the Saviour, one with Himself whom the love of the Father provided. Judah's deliverance from the mighty hosts of Sennacherib, "without bow or sword, horses or horsemen," is a vivid type of the spiritual deliverance which is wholly effected by the Lord for us, and in which we must be content, if saved at all, to be simply recipients of his grace.

(7) Though then excluded from the favour of God, Israel also was not always to be so. God remembers mercy amidst wrath; and the same hand which wounded was also to heal. In Gospel times there has been spiritually a restoration of Israel, as well as of Judah, in the "remnant according to the election of grace," who through faith in Jesus Christ inherit the heavenly Canaan. This church of the election shall at last, when complete, be "the sand" (Hosea 1:10), a multitude which no man can number (Revelation 7:9). But besides the spiritual restoration, Hosea, in common with all the prophets, promises also a national restoration, when Judah and Israel, united as one nation, shall "come up out of" all the several lands of their exile (Hosea 1:11), and shall gladly "appoint themselves as their one Head" Him who in God's eternal decree has been appointed as His King of Israel upon His holy hill of Zion, (Psalms 2:1-12.) That shall be "the great day of Jezreel," when He who hath "scattered" Israel shall gather and "plant them upon their own land" (Amos 9:15). Let us see that, as "sons of the living God" by the spirit of adoption, we "live by the faith of the Son of God," even while we are still in the flesh. And let us look joyfully for that great day when "God shall sow" - that is, shall give the full increase of the falling into the ground of that One Divine Seed-corn which died in order that He might bring forth much fruit! (John 12:24.)

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Hosea 1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/hosea-1.html. 1871-8.
Ads FreeProfile