the Week of Proper 3 / Ordinary 8
Whedon's Commentary on the Bible Whedon's Commentary
by Daniel Whedon
COMMENTARY ON THE OLD TESTAMENT.
Intended for Popular Use
VOL. 9. THE MINOR PROPHETS
BY FREDERICK CARL EISELEN
Professor in Garrett Biblical Institute, Evanston, Illinois
NEW YORK: EATON & MAINS CINCINNATI: JENNINGS & GRAHAM
Copyright, 1907, by EATON & MAINS.
DURING the preparation of this commentary the author has had in mind constantly the many students of the Bible who of necessity must confine themselves to its study in the English translations. Therefore he has endeavored to furnish here a commentary which will assist these to understand as nearly as possible the thoughts which the prophets desired to express. Much has been done within recent years for a better appreciation of the Minor Prophets by such scholars as Wellhausen, Nowack, Marti, W.R. Harper, Driver, Cheyne, A.B. Davidson, W.R. Smith, G.A. Smith, Kirkpatrick, and others. To the works of these men and of others who have written in books other than commentaries and in periodicals the present writer has given closest attention, and he desires to acknowledge here his indebtedness to them for many valuable suggestions, though he may state that in no case have conclusions been adopted on the authority of any man, but simply because the facts in the case seemed to point in that direction. Because of this last-mentioned fact, and because of the popular character of this commentary, it has not been thought necessary to fill this book with many references to other books. Those acquainted with the books alluded to will see where the present writer receives help from them, while to others it would be of little interest.
In the very nature of the case, much critical material which would have its proper place in a commentary intended for experts had to be omitted here; and yet the author has sought to present to the reader, in a spirit of fairness, the critical questions involved, while trying at the same time to put forth only such conclusions as may be considered sufficiently well established to be of practical value for a clearer apprehension of prophetic teaching. In some cases the discussions might well have been more extensive, but limited space would not permit. However, the author has tried to say enough in each case to make the points clear. If he has failed in this the failure is not due to any desire to avoid difficulties or troublesome problems.
As in the other volumes of the series, the text of the so-called Authorized Version has been made the basis of the comments. In only one case has an exception been made, namely, in the divine name represented in A.V. by LORD; for it has been substituted the preferable reading of the American Revised Version, Jehovah. This form has been adopted rather than the more accurate Yahweh simply because it is more familiar to the ordinary reader, and therefore better adapted for a popular work. In many cases the more satisfactory translation of A.R.V. or of the margin has been added to that of A.V., and where accuracy demanded independent translations have also been given. Wherever the difference between A.V. and R.V. is not significant the reading of the latter has been placed in brackets without an indication of the source.
With perhaps two exceptions, the abbreviations used are self-explanatory. The exceptions are G.-K., which stands for Gesenius-Kautzsch, Hebrew Grammar, translated by Collins and Cowley; and K.B., an abbreviation for E. Schrader, Keilinschriftliche Bibliothek.
The reader of this commentary cannot be urged too strongly to acquaint himself with the introductory sections preceding the comments on the separate books. In order to understand properly any word, or verse, or section, it is important to have the broader vision of the entire book which these introductory sections are intended to give.
The author desires to take this opportunity to express to his former teacher, Professor Robert W. Rogers, of Drew Theological Seminary, his sincerest gratitude for the help and inspiration he has been to him both during his student days and since, an inspiration which is responsible to a very large extent for the turning of his attention to the field of Old Testament study.
If this commentary shall help students to a more living appreciation of the permanent value of prophetic teaching the author will feel well repaid for the labor and energy expended in the preparation of the work.
FREDERICK CARL EISELEN. Evanston, Ill.
THE author of the first book in the collection of the Minor Prophets is called “Hosea, the son of Beeri” (Hosea 1:1). The English form of the name is derived from the Greek Osee; the Hebrew, which means salvation, is identical with the original name of Joshua (Numbers 13:8; Numbers 13:16) and with that of the last king of Israel (2 Kings 17:1).
Like Amos, Hosea prophesied in the northern kingdom; he cast only side glances at Judah. Some go so far as to say that he dealt with Israel exclusively, and that all references to Judah are later additions (see pp. 35ff.). But while Amos was a stranger, sent upon a temporary mission, all indications combine to show that Hosea was a citizen of the north, bound by a sympathetic patriotism to the kingdom whose destruction he was commissioned to predict. “In every sentence,” says Ewald, “it appears that Hosea had not only visited the kingdom of Ephraim, as Amos had done, but that he is acquainted with it from the depths of his heart, and follows all its doings, aims, and fortunes with the profound feelings gendered of such a sympathy as is conceivable in the case of a native prophet only.” One cannot help but feel that the pictures of the religious, moral, social, and political situation, drawn with such vividness, force, and compassion, come from one who had lived for many years amid scenes of hopelessness and corruption, and whose heart came nigh breaking as he beheld his own countrymen throwing themselves headlong into ruin. The general tone and spirit of the prophecy point to the north as the home of Hosea with such force that further proof is not needed. It is worthy of note, however, that the localities mentioned in the book belonged almost without exception to the northern kingdom, while Judah is mentioned very rarely, Jerusalem not at all. Israel is “the land” (Hosea 1:2); the king of Israel “our king” (Hosea 7:5); it is the ruling dynasty of the north, the house of Jehu, upon which the blood of Jezreel is to be avenged (Hosea 1:4), and the kingdom of the house of Israel that is to be made to cease (Hosea 1:4). The localities mentioned most prominently are Lebanon (Hosea 14:5-7), Gilead (Hosea 6:8; Hosea 12:11), Mizpah and Tabor (Hosea 5:1), Gibeah (Hosea 5:8; Hosea 9:9; Hosea 10:9), Gilgal (Hosea 4:15; Hosea 9:15; Hosea 12:11), Jezreel (Hosea 1:4; Hosea 2:22), Ramah (Hosea 5:8), Shechem (Hosea 6:9), and particularly the sacred Beth-el (Hosea 4:15; Hosea 5:8; Hosea 10:5; Hosea 10:8; Hosea 10:15; Hosea 12:4), and the capital, Samaria (Hosea 7:1; Hosea 8:5-6; Hosea 10:5; Hosea 10:7; Hosea 13:16). We may consider it, therefore, beyond reasonable doubt that Hosea was a citizen of the northern kingdom.
Little is known of the prophet’s personal history. His father is called Beeri (Hosea 1:1). Early Jewish writers identified this Beeri with Beerah, a Reubenite prince, carried captive by Tiglath-pileser (1 Chronicles 5:6). According to an early Christian tradition he was of the tribe of Issachar, from a place called Belemoth, or Belemon. The prophet represents himself as taking a wife, named Gomer, who became the mother of several children, to whom he gave names symbolic of the destiny of his people ( chapter 1). This Gomer proved unfaithful, and left his home, but in the end was brought back by Hosea and restored to his home, though, temporarily at least, not to the full privileges of wifehood (Hosea 3:1-3). He must have prophesied for a number of years. A Jewish legend states that Hosea died in Babylon, that his body was carried to Galilee and buried in Safed, northwest of the Sea of Galilee, on the highest point in that region. According to another tradition he was a native of Gilead and was buried there; the grave of Nebi Osha (the prophet Hosea) is shown near es-Salt, the ancient Ramoth-Gilead, south of the Jabbok.
There is nothing to indicate what was the occupation of the prophet. Duhm has tried to prove that he was probably a member of the priestly class. The most important points advanced in favor of this conclusion are the frequent references (1) to the priests (chapter 4); (2) to the “law” (Hosea 4:6; Hosea 8:12); (3) the reference to unclean things (Hosea 9:3; compare Hosea 5:3; Hosea 6:10); (4) to abominations (Hosea 9:10); (5) to persecution in the “house of his God” (Hosea 9:8). Similar expressions are found only again in the prophecies of Ezekiel; and Ezekiel undoubtedly was a priest. But these few scattered references are not conclusive.
Whatever his occupation in life, Hosea was a keen observer of the present, and he reveals a remarkable familiarity with the past history and the ancient traditions of his people (Hosea 12:3-5; Hosea 11:8; Hosea 2:15; Hosea 11:1; Hosea 12:9; Hosea 12:13; Hosea 2:3; Hosea 9:10; Hosea 9:9; Hosea 10:9, and many more). The bearing of this extensive knowledge upon the questions of Pentateuchal criticism and of the place of Amos and Hosea in the religious development of Israel is discussed in connection with Amos.
If any inference may be drawn from the comparisons and images in which the book is rich it will be that Hosea, like Amos and Micah, belonged to the country rather than to the city. (1) He is familiar with wild beasts, their mode of living, and the means with which they are caught; for example, the lion, leopard, and bear (Hosea 5:14; Hosea 6:1; Hosea 11:10; Hosea 13:7-8); the wild ass (Hosea 8:9); birds (Hosea 7:11; Hosea 9:11; Hosea 11:11); snares and pits employed in trapping them (Hosea 5:1-2; Hosea 7:12; Hosea 9:8). (2) He is not a stranger to agricultural life; for example, the stubborn heifer (Hosea 4:16); the yoke, and ways of easing it (Hosea 11:4); harnessing, threshing, plowing, harrowing (Hosea 10:11 ff.); the corn floor (Hosea 9:1; Hosea 13:3), etc. (3) The imagery reflects country life; for example, he makes reference to the vine and the fig tree, and the time when their fruit is the choicest (Hosea 9:10; Hosea 10:1); the furrows of the field (Hosea 10:11-12; Hosea 12:11), the poppy (Hosea 10:4), thorns and thistles (Hosea 10:8), nettles (Hosea 9:6), reeds (Hosea 13:15), etc.
The question of Hosea’s marriage requires further discussion. Hosea 1:2-3, comes under consideration here (compare also Hosea 3:1): “When Jehovah spake at the first by Hosea, Jehovah said unto Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredom and children of whoredom; for the land doth commit great whoredom, departing from Jehovah. So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim.” This account has received various interpretations, all of which may be arranged under three heads:
I. It has been thought to mean that Hosea, at the divine command, allied himself with a woman who at the time was known to be a sinner, and that he did so with the purpose of reclaiming her. Concerning this interpretation it may be said:
1. There is no hint of such a purpose given or implied in the narrative,
2. The question may be raised, seriously and reverently, how a holy and wise God could have given such a command to his servant, whose ministry he must have desired to be efficient. Or, to put the question differently, how could Hosea have recognized the voice of God in the impulse which prompted him to marry a woman of unchaste life? Would he not rather have thrust from him such impulse as a snare and temptation? An alliance of this character would inevitably expose a prophet to well-merited contempt; for it would make the impression that he was condoning the immorality of his countrymen, which it was his mission to condemn. A.B. Davidson says on this point, “To suppose that Jehovah would have commanded his prophet to ally himself with a woman already known as of an unchaste life is absurd and monstrous.” It is an entirely different thing when afterward he seeks to reclaim the woman (Hosea 3:1), and represents his efforts to do so as due to a divine command, because she was then his wife.
3. The third and most serious objection to this interpretation is the fact that the interpretation which considers the woman already a sinner when taken to wife does not suit the symbolism. The relation between Hosea and Gomer symbolizes the relation between Jehovah and Israel. But it is the view of Hosea, as well as of all the early prophets, that Israel was pure at the beginning of her union with Jehovah, and only corrupted herself at a later period (Hosea 9:10; compare Jeremiah 2:2, etc.). In order to have consistent symbolism Gomer must have been pure when Hosea married her, and must have become corrupt, at least openly, later. The validity of these objections is generally recognized, and this interpretation has few adherents now.
II. Some interpreters have regarded the whole narrative as an allegory without any historical basis in the domestic life of the prophet. This view also is open to serious objections:
1. It is undoubtedly true that sometimes the prophets express their teaching in the form of narratives of transactions which it is not necessary to suppose actually took place (Isaiah 5:1-7; compare especially Ezekiel); but it is equally true that sometimes the prophets did perform real actions having a symbolic meaning (Isaiah 8:1; Jeremiah 28:10; 1 Kings 22:11, etc.). In the narrative of Hosea there is certainly not the slightest hint of its parabolic character; the entire narrative bears the stamp of reality, and only a literal interpretation of the story as narrated in Hosea 1:2-9; Hosea 3:1-3, seems to satisfy the demands of language. This difficulty is not removed by the theory that the transactions related were revealed to the prophet in a vision, and that therefore they impressed themselves upon his imagination as vividly as though he had actually lived through them.
2. The parabolic interpretation leaves us without a key to the prophet’s teaching. How did he come to regard Jehovah as married to Israel? Whence his conception of the intense and passionate love of Jehovah for his faithless spouse? True, the representation of the relation between a deity and his worshipers or the land of the worshipers under the figure of the marriage relation is not unknown in the religious literatures of other Semitic nations, but the ethical and spiritual conception of Hosea is as far above the conception of the surrounding peoples as the heavens are above the earth. It is certainly not without reason that Cheyne says, “He must have been prepared by personal experience to find a moral element in this conception which fitted it for the use of a prophet of Jehovah.”
3. The allegorical interpretation does not remove the moral difficulty. If the transaction was one which would have been repugnant to the moral sense, is it probable that the prophet would have chosen it as the basis of an allegory? Moreover, if the prophet had a faithful wife, is it credible that he would have exposed her to the suspicion of unchastity and infidelity, as he would have done by the use of this allegory, which certainly does not bear its allegorical character upon its face?
4. The name of the wife is strongly in favor of a literal interpretation. If the story were an allegory we would expect the wife to bear a significant name. Jezreel (Hosea 1:4), Lo-ruhamah (Hosea 1:6), and Lo-ammi (Hosea 1:9) tell their own story, but “Gomer the daughter of Diblaim” (Hosea 1:3) yields no obvious symbolical meaning. The natural inference is that it is the actual name of a woman who became the prophet’s wife.
III. The third, and most probable, view regards the narrative as a record of actual facts, and yet is different from the first interpretation in some very important respects. Gomer is thought to have been unstained when she became the wife of Hosea. This view is supported by the expression “a wife of whoredom” (Hosea 1:2). Had Hosea actually meant to say that she was already devoted to an unchaste life he would in all probability have called her “a harlot.” (On “children of whoredom” compare comment on Hosea 1:2.) The expression seems to denote a woman of unchaste disposition. The evil tendencies were within Gomer, but they had not yet manifested themselves. Hosea loved her dearly, but his love was not sufficient to prevent the outbreak. She finally abandoned him for her paramours, or perhaps for the licentious rites connected with the worship of the Baals.
As the prophet, his heart still burning with tender love for his faithless spouse, sat and pondered over his past domestic experience he came to see that even this sad occurrence was not a blind chance, but in accord with divine providence. Jehovah led him into this experience in order to teach him the lesson which he in turn was to teach Israel, and which he could not have learned as well in any other way. The significance of it all he did not know at the time of the occurrence; only gradually it dawned upon him that so far as his message to his people was concerned the unhappy alliance was the first step in his prophetic career. From the vantage point of the later revelation Hosea described the earlier experience. This interpretation gives a natural meaning to the narrative; it removes the serious moral difficulty and supplies the key to Hosea’s teaching. It would be wrong, however, to assume that Hosea was not a prophet until after all these experiences had come to him. He must have been conscious of a prophetic commission even before the birth of his firstborn, else how would he have come to give him the symbolic name? Nevertheless, the tone of the entire book shows that his own personal domestic experience was the means whereby God spake to him and supplied him with his prophetic message to Israel. Therefore Hosea is justified in calling the impulse to marry Gomer the beginning of his prophetic ministry.
The experience of Hosea in thus recognizing at a later time the hand of God in events already past is not absolutely unique, for it often happens that God’s instruments act under his direction without being conscious that they are thus guided; only at a later time their eyes are opened so that they see the reality of the divine providence. Some, still seeing a moral difficulty, may ask why it is that God should lay this heavy burden upon his servant. In reply it may be said that it appears to be a universal law of this sin-stricken world that God makes perfect through suffering; that redemption is wrought out through sacrifice. But the preparation of Hosea for his mission to Israel in accord with this law is something entirely different from giving a command that would outrage the prophet’s moral sense and expose him to the scorn of his countrymen.
The Time of Hosea.
The title of the book (Hosea 1:1) gives as the time of Hosea’s activity “the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and the days of Jeroboam, the son of Joash, king of Israel.” If this title could be followed implicitly the date of Hosea would be fixed during the latter half of the eighth century B.C. The accuracy of the title has been questioned, however, and it is now generally thought that it is not Hosea’s, and that it has not reached us in the form given to it by its author. On the first point Adam Clarke wrote, “I think the first verse to be a title to this book added by the compiler of his prophecies”; and again, “It is therefore very probable that the title is not Hosea’s, but some ancient transcriber’s.” The modern view is based upon the following considerations: 1. Internal evidence shows that chapters 1-3 belong to the later years of Jeroboam II, and that, on the whole, 4-14 belong to the troubled period subsequent to his death; this being so, it would seem strange that the later date (Uzziah to Hezekiah) should be given before the earlier (Jeroboam), and that no reference should be made to the kings following Jeroboam who were contemporaries of the kings of Judah mentioned. 2. Hosea was a citizen of Israel (p. 9), he spoke and wrote in and for the northern kingdom. Is it not strange that in dating the book he should give preference to the kings of Judah, mentioning only one king of Israel, and him in the last place? 3. It is, to say the least, extremely doubtful that any of the prophecies in the book date from a period after 734; that is, from the greater part of the reign of Ahaz and the whole of Hezekiah’s. In 734 Tiglath-pileser III deported to Assyria the inhabitants of the trans-Jordanic territory (2 Kings 15:29; K.B., ii, p. 33), but no mention is made in Hosea of any judgment already suffered by Gilead; it is referred to as an integral part of the northern kingdom (Hosea 6:8; Hosea 12:11; compare Hosea 5:1). In 734 Assyria was an enemy of Israel; during the succeeding years it claimed sovereignty over the latter; in the book of Hosea, Assyria is nowhere regarded as an actual enemy in the present or in the immediate past, but as a worthless and dangerous ally (Hosea 5:13; Hosea 7:11; Hosea 8:9; Hosea 12:1; Hosea 14:3). Again, the book says nothing of the invasion of Judah by Israel and Damascus, which took place in 735-734. This was an important event in Hebrew history, and if it had already taken place the silence of Hosea, so familiar with every occurrence in the nation’s history, would seem almost inexplicable. In these and other respects the conditions reflected in 4-14 are those existing in Israel subsequent to the death of Jeroboam II down to about 735; they are inconsistent with the period after 734.
While these considerations may fall short of actual demonstration, they cannot be disregarded, and practically all modern commentators are agreed that they are sufficiently weighty to forbid the acceptance of the testimony of the title as decisive in determining the date of Hosea’s activity. The original title may have contained simply the note, “in the days of Jeroboam, the son of Joash, king of Israel,” and may have been intended only for chapters 1-3. When a title had to be found for the entire book by the collector of the Minor Prophets, then, in order to indicate that the second part of the book belonged to a later period, the other chronological notes were added, perhaps to indicate at the same time that Hosea was, approximately at least, a contemporary of Isaiah and Micah (Isaiah 1:1; Micah 1:1). In 721 the northern kingdom disappeared, while Judah maintained itself for many years more; the restoration centered around Jerusalem, and the postexilic community considered itself the descendant of Judah; therefore it was perfectly natural that in dating the book precedence should be given to the kings of Judah. At any rate, it may be safe to conclude that, so far as we have any record, Hosea’s activity ceased about 735.
It began probably after the close of the prophetic career of Amos 1:0. The title points in that direction, whatever the value of its testimony. 2. The country, as described in 1-3, the earliest portion, was in a prosperous condition, which would make these chapters at least as late as Amos 3:0. The judgment as announced even in 1-3 appears to be more imminent than is represented by Amos 4:0. Internal evidence places it beyond doubt that 4-14 belong to a later period than the time of Amos. These chapters contain clear indications of the state of anarchy and misrule into which the northern kingdom fell upon Jeroboam’s death (Hosea 7:7; Hosea 8:3-4; Hosea 10:3-4; Hosea 13:10-11, etc.). We may not be far wrong if we place the beginning of Hosea’s ministry at about 750 and his activity between 750 and 735. Hosea may have heard Amos; it is probable that he at least knew of him and of his work, though there are few traces of the earlier prophet’s influence in Hosea’s teaching (compare Hosea 4:15, with Amos 5:5; Hosea 8:14, with Amos 1:4).
For a picture of the political, social, moral, and religious conditions in Israel during the first years of Hosea’s ministry the reader may turn to the Introduction to Amos. The conditions described there continued to the close of Jeroboam’s reign, only some of the vices became more aggravated from year to year (Hosea 4:1 ff., Hosea 4:11 ff.; Hosea 7:1 ff., etc.). With the death of Jeroboam political conditions changed. The reign of this king had been a long one, marked by successes without and prosperity within; but the dynasty of Jehu, of which Jeroboam II was the fourth ruler, did not satisfy the eighth century prophets, though it had been placed upon the throne with the sanction and aid of the prophetic order (2 Kings 9:10). The luxury, selfishness, oppression of the poor, and kindred vices, growing out of the prosperity, were denounced in stern tones by Amos, and even he announced the overthrow of the “house of Jeroboam” (Hosea 7:9). Almost the first words in the Book of Hosea announce judgment upon this dynasty (Hosea 1:4-5; reference is to 2 Kings 10:11). The threat was fulfilled shortly after the death of Jeroboam. Party spirit, no longer held in cheek by a strong hand, broke out, and his son and successor, Zechariah, was slain in a conspiracy after a reign of only six months. With him the dynasty of Jehu came to an end. There followed a period of anarchy, of which Hosea supplies a vivid picture (Hosea 7:3-7; Hosea 8:4). Kings came forward in rapid succession; the external policy was one of weakness and vacillation. Shallum, the murderer of Zechariah, after one month was overthrown by Menahem. He, to strengthen his position, bought the support of Tiglath-pileser III (2 Kings 15:19-20; compare Hosea 8:9-10). At the same time, or shortly after, another party was seeking help from Egypt (Hosea 12:1). Menahem died a natural death, and was succeeded by his son, Pekahiah, who after two years was assassinated by Pekah (2 Kings 15:25). The new king entered into an alliance with Rezin of Damascus, and together they invaded Judah (2 Kings 16:6; Isaiah 7:1-3). Pekah was deposed and murdered by Hoshea (2 Kings 15:30), with the connivance and support of the Assyrian king ( K.B., ii, p. 33), in 734, and Hoshea became the last king of the northern kingdom. Little needs to be added to what is said in connection with Amos concerning the moral and religious situation. At the time of Hosea the excesses had become even more marked. The latter sums up his indictments in one word, whoredom. Israel, the spouse of Jehovah, had proved faithless to her husband. The evidences of her unfaithfulness were seen in the sphere of religion, of ethics, and of politics, and the sins provoking the anger of Jehovah and his prophet center around these three heads. The Israelites were without the knowledge of Jehovah (Hosea 5:6; Hosea 5:4, etc.); as a result they were ignorant concerning the real requirements of Jehovah, and their worship was not acceptable to him. Nominally they paid homage to Jehovah (Hosea 5:6; Hosea 6:6 ff.); in reality they honored the Baals (see on Hosea 2:5). This illegitimate worship called forth Hosea’s severest and most persistent condemnation (Hosea 2:2 ff; Hosea 4:11 ff; Hosea 8:4 ff; Hosea 9:10; Hosea 10:1 ff; Hosea 13:1 ff; Hosea 14:1-3). In the sphere of ethics their lack of the knowledge of Jehovah resulted in conduct absolutely contrary to the demands of Jehovah; immoralities, crimes, and vices of every description were practiced openly and in defiance of all prophetic exhortations (Hosea 4:1-2; Hosea 4:6 ff., Hosea 4:13; Hosea 4:18; Hosea 6:8-9; Hosea 7:1-7; Hosea 10:4; Hosea 10:9; Hosea 10:12 ff.). In the sphere of politics the faithlessness manifested itself in a twofold manner: (1) in rebellion against all legitimate authority, and assassinations of various kings and princes (Hosea 7:1-7; Hosea 8:4; Hosea 13:10-11), and (2) in dependence upon human defenses (Hosea 8:14; Hosea 10:13; Hosea 14:3) and in foreign alliances (Hosea 5:13; Hosea 7:8; Hosea 7:11-13; Hosea 8:9; Hosea 12:1; Hosea 14:3; compare Hosea 7:16; Hosea 8:13; Hosea 9:3 ff; Hosea 10:6; Hosea 11:11) rather than in the power of Jehovah.
Contents and Outline of the Book.
The Book of Hosea contains the substance of the prophet’s earnest and persistent appeals by which he sought to bring the faithless nation back to its divine Master. It falls naturally into two well-marked divisions, chapters 1-3 and 4-14. The first division sets forth the prophet’s marriage (pp. 11ff.) and gives the “moral of the story,” Jehovah’s love and Israel’s faithlessness. Hosea 1:2-9; Hosea 3:1-3, contain the story, and Hosea 1:10 to Hosea 2:23; Hosea 3:4-5, the exposition. “In chapters 1-3 the prophet has abstracted from his prophetic speeches and career the essential conception of his teaching and set it as a kind of program at the head of his book.” The second division, chapters 4-14, differs widely from the first and has sometimes been called the “Second Book of Hosea .” It contains not a verbatim report, but only the substance of the prophet’s discourses. A careful study will show that Cheyne is probably correct when he says, “We cannot suppose that Hosea delivered any part of this book in its present form; it can only be a reproduction by the prophet himself of the main points of his discourses, partly imaginative, partly on the basis of notes.” It is impossible to trace in this second division a definite plan of arrangement, though fresh beginnings may be noted in Hosea 4:1; Hosea 5:1; Hosea 9:1; Hosea 11:12; Hosea 13:1; Hosea 14:1. Various attempts have been made to subdivide the chapters according to the ideas emphasized in the separate sections. Of these attempts two may be mentioned. Ewald made three subdivisions: (1) Hosea 4:1 to Hosea 6:11 a, The Arraignment; (2) Hosea 6:11-9, The Punishment; (3) Hosea 9:10 to Hosea 14:9, Retrospect of the earlier history, exhortation and comfort. Similarly Kirkpatrick: (1) 4-8, Israel’s Guilt; (2) Hosea 9:1 to Hosea 11:11, Israel’s Doom; (3) Hosea 11:12 to Hosea 14:9, Retrospect and Prospect. Neither these nor any of the other attempts can be called entirely successful. The prophet from beginning to end has in mind the hopeless condition of his people; he exhorts, laments, warns, pleads, denounces, promises in fact, uses every possible method of persuasion in order that he may win the people back to a pure and acceptable service of God.
The contents of the book may be sketched briefly as follows: Following the title (Hosea 1:1) the prophet relates how, at the divine command, he took in marriage “a wife of whoredom,” Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim (Hosea 1:2-3). By her he had three children, to whom he gave symbolic names: Jezreel, symbolizing the overthrow of the house of Jehu (Hosea 1:4-5); Lo-ruhamah, announcing that Jehovah will no more have mercy upon Israel (Hosea 1:6-7); Lo-ammi, symbolizing the utter rejection of Israel by Jehovah (Hosea 1:8-9).
The next three verses (Hosea 1:10 to Hosea 2:1; see general remarks on Hosea 1:10 to Hosea 2:1) contain a promise of glorious restoration. Jehovah will again have mercy upon Israel, which will once more be called “the people of Jehovah”, and the reunited north and south, under one leader, will triumph over all enemies.
Before considering the contents of Hosea 2:2-23, it will be necessary to mention the contents of Hosea 3:1-3, for these verses attach themselves naturally and logically to Hosea 1:2-9. Hosea 3:1, is the continuation of the story of Hosea’s domestic life. He is told to go and love “a woman beloved of her friend, and an adulteress.” This woman can be no other than Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim (Hosea 1:3).
Lo-ammi (Hosea 1:9) suggests the step in the domestic drama which is left unrecorded. The woman left her home to give herself more unreservedly to her shameful practices; and she seems to have become the slave concubine of another. Hosea, impelled by love and a divine impulse, brings her back, though for a while he does not restore her to the full privileges of wifehood (Hosea 3:1-3).
The application of this domestic tragedy is contained in Hosea 2:2-23; Hosea 3:4-5. The historical persons in Hosea 1:2-9; Hosea 3:1-3 the prophet, his wife, and their children become allegorical figures: Israel is the adulterous wife, Jehovah the deceived but still loving husband, the individual Israelites the children. Some of the latter have remained free from the sins of the mother; to these Jehovah addresses himself (Hosea 2:2), pleading with them to attempt the conversion of the faithless mother and wife. The prophecy opens with a description of Israel’s whoredom (Hosea 2:2-5), which is followed by an announcement of the evil consequences of the faithlessness, first in figurative (Hosea 2:6-7), then in literal language (Hosea 2:9-13). The whole is followed by the delineation of the efforts on the part of Jehovah to win back the faithless wife, and of the glories awaiting her when she comes to her senses. Israel will be restored to the intimate fellowship with Jehovah enjoyed in the beginning (Hosea 2:14-17), peace undisturbed by man or beast will reign (Hosea 2:18); once more Jehovah will enter into marriage relation with Israel, but the new union will be more permanent and spiritual (Hosea 2:19-20). Another feature of the future blessedness will be the extreme fertility of the soil (Hosea 2:21-22); Israel will be permanently established in the promised land, cured forever from running after other gods (Hosea 2:23). Hosea 3:4, is parallel in thought with Hosea 2:14-15. Hosea 3:5, introduces a new feature in the final blessedness, the advent of the Messianic King. With this sublime promise the first division closes.
The second division, chapters 4-14, opens with a solemn summons to Israel to hear the indictment brought by Jehovah. Religiously and morally the people are hopelessly corrupt (chapter 4). In the first part of the chapter (Hosea 4:1-10) the prophet emphasizes the moral corruption in everyday life; in the rest (Hosea 4:10-19), the immoral practices connected with the religious cult. Both sections close (Hosea 4:9-10; Hosea 4:19) with announcements of judgment. In connection with the general condemnation the prophet accuses the priests of being chiefly responsible for the lamentable condition (especially Hosea 4:4-8). They have failed to instruct the people in the “law of Jehovah.”
The next four chapters (5-8) belong together, though not necessarily forming one discourse. They present a detailed description of the manner in which corruption penetrated the entire public life and affected the state from the highest to the lowest. Mingled with the pictures of corruption are exhortations, warnings, and threats of inevitable destruction. Of the four chapters, Hosea 5:0 falls naturally into two parts: Hosea 5:1-7, in which the emphasis is pre-eminently, though not exclusively, upon Israel’s guilt, and Hosea 5:8-15, which deal primarily with judgment; the time of mercy is past. The words are directed against the priests, the people, and the king with his courtiers. The civil and ecclesiastical leaders are chiefly to blame, but the whole nation must suffer the consequences. In Hosea 5:15, is expressed the hope that Israel will yet “seek Jehovah.” This hope will be realized; the people will return. The prophet places in the mouths of the Israelites words of mutual exhortation to “return unto Jehovah” (Hosea 6:1-3), but they return without real heartfelt repentance. There is not one expression of sorrow for wrongdoing, only anxiety to escape the distress and punishment. For this reason Jehovah is not favorably impressed with the supplication, as his reply (Hosea 6:4 to Hosea 8:14) shows. It is almost impossible to recognize any distinct break throughout this reply. The whole is a severe condemnation of the people’s attitude toward Jehovah. Hosea 6:4 may be regarded as the direct reply. He perceives that the sentiments expressed in Hosea 6:1-3 do not come from a truly penitent heart. But if all he has done has failed to lead to repentance, what can he do? From this question he passes immediately to point out the people’s utter misconception of the divine commands (6), and to delineate their sinful career; the corruption seems incurable (Hosea 6:7-11 a). With Hosea 6:11 b commences a new picture of the moral degradation and the resulting anarchy. The mercy of Jehovah manifesting itself in his willingness to remove the distress had no salutary effect. Gradually their wrongs have completely surrounded them, so that escape is impossible; even repentance seems to be out of the question (Hosea 7:1-2). While some details in the interpretation of Hosea 7:3-7 are uncertain the general drift of the prophet’s argument is clear. He describes in vivid colors the corruption of the whole nation, from the king down, and points out that the existing anarchy is the inevitable result of the same: corruption, adultery, drunkenness, conspiracy, assassination everywhere; not one redeeming feature. Jehovah alone could heal the disease, but no one calls upon him (Hosea 7:7). Instead, Israel has mingled with the “nations,” there to learn wisdom and to find help (Hosea 7:8). Disaster has been the result (Hosea 7:9-10), but still it persists; hither and thither it turns, like a silly dove (Hosea 7:11), unaware that it is becoming entangled in a net from which there can be no escape (12). Jehovah at one time had high expectations for his children. What a disappointment they have become (Hosea 7:13-16 a)! Judgment is now inevitable; rapidly it is approaching (Hosea 7:16 to Hosea 8:3). In Hosea 8:4, the prophet renews his attack upon Israel; the political revolutions are in reality rebellion against Jehovah (Hosea 8:4); the idolatry is an abomination to him (Hosea 8:4-6); they must reap what they have sown (Hosea 8:7); appeals to foreign nations will not save them (8-10). Once more he condemns the religious practices, then the section closes with a threat of judgment (Hosea 8:11-14).
A new beginning is marked in Hosea 9:1. The prophet beholds the rejoicing of the people at the time of harvest, perhaps at a joyous religious feast. Such rejoicing was perfectly natural, but verse 1 implies that the celebration, though nominally in recognition of Jehovah’s goodness, was in reality in honor of the Baalim. This the prophet cannot endure. He warns the people not to be too exuberant (1), for the occasions of rejoicing will soon cease. On account of their apostasy Jehovah will withdraw his blessings (2); yea, they will be carried into exile (3), where, upon an unclean land, joyful feasts can no longer be celebrated (4, 5); their own land will become a wilderness (6). After announcing the impending doom the prophet points out once more the spiritual and moral apostasy responsible for the judgment (7-9).
Three times in chapters 9-11 (Hosea 9:10; Hosea 10:9; Hosea 11:1) Hosea reverts to the early history of Israel to show how loving had been the divine care and how persistent Israel’s rebellion and apostasy. In the beginning Israel appeared to Jehovah as a desirable fruit (Hosea 9:10), but ere long contact with the Canaanitish religion caused contamination, and Israel became an abomination in the sight of Jehovah (10); therefore awful judgments will come (Hosea 9:11-17).
Once more Hosea reverts to Israel’s guilt in Hosea 10:0. Under the figure of a luxuriant vine the prophet describes Israel’s prosperity; steadily it increased, but instead of producing good grapes it produced bitter grapes. The greater the prosperity the more flagrant the religious and moral corruption (Hosea 10:1-2). For this reason altars, idols, pillars shall be broken down, the calves of Samaria shall be carried into Assyria, priests and people shall mourn in consternation (Hosea 10:3-6), even the king shall be cut off (Hosea 10:7); the high places shall be destroyed, thorns and thistles shall grow over them; in terror the people shall cry for the mountains and hills to fall upon them (Hosea 10:8).
A new presentation of Israel’s guilt begins with Hosea 10:9. In the very beginning a great crime darkened their history, and from that moment on they have stubbornly resisted every and all efforts to lead them into a higher and purer life (Hosea 10:9); therefore death and destruction are awaiting them (Hosea 10:10-11). The announcement of judgment is interrupted by an exhortation to repentance (Hosea 10:12) which, however, immediately changes again into a threat (Hosea 10:13-15). In Hosea 11:1, the prophet turns once more to the beginning of Israel’s history. He points out how great, strong, and tender has been the divine love (Hosea 11:1-2; Hosea 11:4), and how ungrateful the favored people (Hosea 11:3; Hosea 11:7). Hence justice must have its way (Hosea 11:5-6). Yet the divine compassion goes out for the prodigal (Hosea 11:8); the judgment will be tempered by mercy, and after it has served its disciplinary purpose Israel will be restored to divine favor (Hosea 11:9-11).
Hosea 11:12 (Hosea 12:1, in the Hebrew), begins a new series of indictments. Hosea 12:0 also is one of peculiar difficulties. The interpretation of details is by no means certain. The general thought seems to be that Israel the whole nation has played false with Jehovah in making covenants with foreign nations (Hosea 11:12; Hosea 12:1). Therefore the anger of Jehovah is aroused (Hosea 12:2). Three incidents in the history of the patriarch Jacob are mentioned, to bring out more distinctly the contrast between the ancestor so anxious for the divine blessing and the descendants so indifferent to Jehovah (Hosea 12:3-5). If only they would truly turn to the God of Jacob he would have mercy upon them (Hosea 12:6).
Israel’s, that is, the people’s, sole ambition has been to accumulate wealth, and shameful have been the means by which they have sought to attain it (Hosea 12:7); they glory in their success (Hosea 12:8), but it shall avail them nothing, for Jehovah is about to drive Israel back into the desert (Hosea 12:9). Persistent have been the efforts on the part of Jehovah to prevent the judgment (10); therefore no one can be blamed but the people (Hosea 12:11). By a comparison of the experiences of the nation with those of Jacob in Aram the prophet seeks to show what great things Jehovah has done for the people, and how the divine love was met with persistent ingratitude and provocation; in view of this the sentence must stand (Hosea 12:12-14).
Apparently a new discourse begins with Hosea 13:1. It opens with a reference to the history of the tribe of Ephraim. In the beginning it occupied a position of prominence in the nation; when it apostatized from Jehovah it signed its own death warrant (1). With this warning example before them the Israelites should have learned their lesson, but they failed to do so; they persisted in shameless idolatry; therefore they will vanish like the chaff before the whirlwind (Hosea 13:2-3). Their attitude seems unintelligible, since the God whom they thus reject is the God who has led them from the time of the Exodus; but the more Jehovah has prospered them the more arrogant they have become, the more forgetful of him. Therefore he will devour them like a lion, wild beasts shall tear them (4-8). The destruction of Israel is now inevitable; no one can help; even Jehovah can no longer show mercy (Hosea 13:9-14). The discourse closes with a threat of utter destruction (Hosea 13:15-16).
Hosea 14:0 is permeated by a spirit different from that of the preceding chapters; denunciation gives place to promise. The prophet exhorts Israel to return to Jehovah in deep humility and sorrow for sin (Hosea 14:1-2 a); he puts into the mouth of the people words expressive of the deepest repentance, and of earnest determination to be forever loyal to Jehovah (Hosea 14:2-3). To this persistent cry Jehovah responds that he will graciously pardon and will shower upon the God-fearing people blessings hitherto unknown (Hosea 14:4-8).
Verse 9 stands by itself as an epilogue to the whole book. Whoever desires to become wise and prudent, let him become acquainted with the oracles of Hosea; from them he may learn that Jehovah’s ways are right, and that the destiny of men is determined by their attitude toward the divine will.
THE TITLE THE PERSON AND TIME OF THE AUTHOR Hosea 1:1.
A. HOSEA’S DOMESTIC EXPERIENCE AN ILLUSTRATION OF JEHOVAH’S LOVE AND ISRAEL’S FAITHLESSNESS Hosea 1:2 to Hosea 3:5.
I. HOSEA’S WIFE AND CHILDREN, Hosea 1:2-9; Hosea 3:1-3
1. The marriage of Hosea and the birth of Jezreel, Hosea 1:2-5
2. The birth of Lo-ruhamah, Hosea 1:6-7
3. The birth of Lo-ammi, Hosea 1:8-9
4. The restoration of the outcast wife, Hosea 3:1-3
II. APPLICATION OF THE ACTS AND NAMES MENTIONED IN Hosea 1:2-9; Hosea 3:1-3; Hosea 1:10 to Hosea 2:23; Hosea 3:4-5
1. Promise of a glorious restoration Hosea 1:10 to Hosea 2:1
2. The faithlessness of Israel Hosea 2:2-5
3. The evil consequences and the punishment of Israel’s faithlessness Hosea 2:6-13
4. The disciplinary effect of the Judgment, and the future exaltation of Israel Hosea 2:14-23; Hosea 3:4-5
(1) Restoration of Israel to intimate fellowship with Jehovah Hosea 2:14-17
(2) Permanent peace, undisturbed by man or beastHosea 2:18; Hosea 2:18
(3) The new betrothal in righteousness Hosea 2:19-20
(4) Extreme fertility of the soil Hosea 2:21-22
(5) Israel’s re-establishment and loyaltyHosea 2:23; Hosea 2:23
(6) The judgment and the subsequent Messianic age Hosea 3:4,
5 B. HOSEA’S PROPHETIC DISCOURSES. Hosea 4:1 to Hosea 14:9.
I. AWFUL CONDITION OF THE PEOPLE DUE TO THE LACK OF KNOWLEDGE OF JEHOVAH, FOR WHICH LACK THE PRIESTS ARE RESPONSIBLE Hosea 4:1-19
1. The moral corruption in everyday life Hosea 4:1-10
(1) The moral corruption of the people Hosea 4:1-3
(2) The responsibility of the religious leaders Hosea 4:4-8
(3) The judgment upon priest and people, Hosea 4:9-10
2. The moral corruption connected with the religious cult Hosea 4:11-19
(1) The religious corruption of the people Hosea 4:11-14
(2) The inevitableness of judgment Hosea 4:15-19
II. THE UTTER CORRUPTION OF ISRAEL THE INEVITABLE DOOM Hosea 5:1 to Hosea 8:14
1. Rebuke of Israel’s apostasy The time of mercy is past Hosea 5:1-15
(1) Rebuke of Israel’s apostasyHosea 5:1-7; Hosea 5:1-7
(2) The time of mercy is pastHosea 5:8-15; Hosea 5:8-15. Israel’s superficial repentance and Jehovah’s reply Hosea 6:1-11 a
(1) The people’s return to Jehovah Hosea 6:1-3
(2) Jehovah’s reply: Superficial repentance not acceptable to Jehovah The corruption is incurable Hosea 6:4-11 a
3. New picture of the moral degradation The resulting anarchy and destruction Hosea 6:11 to Hosea 8:3
(1) The divine mercy and the people’s obstinacy Hosea 6:11 to Hosea 7:2
(2) The present state of anarchy Hosea 7:3-7
(3) Israel, blinded by her folly, rushes headlong to destruction Hosea 7:8-16 a
( 4) Imminence of a hostile invasion Hosea 7:16 to Hosea 8:3.
(5) Israel’s political and religious practices an abomination to Jehovah Hosea 8:4-14
III. THE PRESENT REJOICING CONTRASTED WITH THE DESPAIR OF THE EXILE Hosea 9:1-9
IV. SERIES OF RETROSPECTS SHOWING THE UTTER CORRUPTION OF ISRAEL Hosea 9:10 to Hosea 11:11
1. Israel, apostate and rebellious from time immemorial, doomed to destruction Hosea 9:10-17
2. Israel’s guilt and punishment Hosea 10:1-8
3. Israel’s history one continuous crime; Israel’s destiny death and destruction Hosea 10:9-15
4. The father’s love for the prodigal son Hosea 11:1-11
V. A NEW SERIES OF INDICTMENTS Hosea 11:12 to Hosea 12:14
1. Condemnation of Israel’s faithlessness; exhortation to repentance Hosea 11:12 to Hosea 12:6
2. Israel’s unholy ambition and bitter disappointment Hosea 12:7-14
VI. ISRAEL’S GLORY TURNED TO SHAME Hosea 13:1-16
1. Israel’s apostasy its own death warrant Hosea 13:1-3
2. Love Ingratitude Doom Hosea 13:4-8
3. Utter destruction the just punishment for Israel’s guilt Hosea 13:9-16
VII. ISRAEL’S REPENTANCE GOD’S PARDON Hosea 14:1-8
1. Israel’s penitent plea Hosea 14:1-3
2. The divine pardon and benediction Hosea 14:4-8
The Epilogue Exhortation to study the Book of Hosea Hosea 14:9
Teaching of the Book of Hosea.
It remains now to present the essential points in the conception and teaching of Hosea. The message of Hosea was comprehensive, touching upon the social and political as well as upon the moral and religious situation, and yet the principles underlying his discourses are few and easily discovered.
1. Fundamental in the teaching of the prophet is his conception of the nature and character of Jehovah. A lack of the knowledge of Jehovah he considers responsible for the corruption of Israel; to impart a correct knowledge is the prophet’s earnest desire. (1) Like Amos, Hosea was a monotheist. There is but one God, and he is the God of Israel (Hosea 2:5 ff; Hosea 8:4 ff; Hosea 13:2; Hosea 14:3). True, these passages might be interpreted as implying only that Hosea conceived Jehovah to be the one God of Israel, saying nothing about the gods of the other nations. But the manner in which he speaks of Jehovah using the other nations to carry out his purpose (Hosea 8:1 ff., Hosea 8:13; Hosea 9:3) makes it clear that Hosea believes the power and sovereignty of Jehovah to extend over other nations (see also on Hosea 9:2). (2) If Jehovah is the only true God, the maker of heaven and earth, the determiner of the destinies of nations, it follows that he is a God of supreme power, of omnipotence. There are, however, no passages in Hosea such as are found in Amos (Hosea 4:13; Hosea 5:8-9, etc.) calling attention to this omnipotence; Hosea assumes it. (3) A more important question was how Jehovah would use this power in dealing with Israel and the other nations. Here again Hosea agrees with Amos in portraying Jehovah as a holy and righteous God, the use of whose power is determined by ethical considerations. The Israelites in the days of Hosea and Amos seemed to think that, since Jehovah had chosen them, he would stand by them whatever their attitude and conduct. Both prophets seek to remove this misconception; they teach that Jehovah deals with the nations of the earth, Israel included, according to their attitude toward him; sin he would always punish, even in Israel; righteousness alone could win his favor (Hosea 11:9; Hosea 8:13). (4) A fourth, and perhaps the distinguishing, element in Hosea’s conception of Jehovah is the thought that God is love.
This thought colors all of Hosea’s teaching. A favorite expression of Hosea is “loving-kindness” (see on Hosea 2:19). This element is not completely absent from Amos, though the latter never uses the former’s favorite word; nevertheless, to Amos Jehovah is primarily the God of righteousness. Amos thinks of him principally as king and judge, Hosea as husband and father, with a love such as a husband may feel for his wife, and such as a father may treasure for his son. In chapters 1-3 the sin of Israel is represented as “whoredom” (Hosea 1:2; Hosea 2:5; Hosea 2:8); but God has not forsaken his erring spouse, he loves her as much as ever, and by the manifestation of his love he will win her back into permanent heart union (Hosea 2:19-20). The greater part of chapters 4-14 presents a different picture. Jehovah is the father, Israel is the prodigal son; the loving father seeks earnestly to save the wanderer (Hosea 11:1; Hosea 11:8; compare Hosea 6:4).
2 . Closely connected with and dependent upon Hosea’s conception of Jehovah’s character is his conception of Israel’s relation to Jehovah and of the service acceptable to him. (1) Hosea from beginning to end holds fast to the conviction that Israel is in a peculiar sense the people of Jehovah. It has become such through the choice of Jehovah, and the union was cemented by a national covenant, made at the very beginning of Israel’s history, that is, at the time of the Exodus (Hosea 9:10; Hosea 11:1-4; Hosea 12:9; Hosea 13:4). The intimacy of this covenant relation is described under the two figures of marriage (chapters 1-3) and filial relation (Hosea 11:1; compare Exodus 4:22). A covenant always involves mutual obligations. The obligation taken upon himself by Jehovah was to look after the temporal and spiritual needs of the people; this Jehovah has carefully done throughout Israel’s entire history. He has supplied the temporal wants (Hosea 2:8; Hosea 10:1-11; Hosea 12:8; Hosea 13:4-6), and he has done his best to supply their spiritual needs. By the voice of living prophecy and the words of law he has sought to teach and direct them (Hosea 11:1-4; Hosea 7:15; Hosea 8:12; Hosea 12:10). But, alas! Israel has “transgressed” the covenant (Hosea 6:7; Hosea 8:1). Its obligations may be summed up in one word, “faithfulness”; that is, loyalty to the husband, obedience to the father. Israel’s transgression also may be summed up in one word, “faithlessness”; the wife followed after paramours (Hosea 2:5); the son disregarded the will of the father as revealed by the prophets and in the law. Passages such as Hosea 4:1; Hosea 6:6; Hosea 10:12; Hosea 12:6, call attention to the principal requirements, obedience to which was Israel’s duty. Every one of these has been willfully transgressed by the nation from the beginning of its history (Hosea 9:10; Hosea 10:9) until the prophet’s days (Hosea 10:9; Hosea 13:2). (For a fuller discussion of the evidences of Israel’s faithlessness see p. 19.) Israel having thus persistently disregarded the covenant, Jehovah is compelled to set it aside. “I will drive them out of my house; I will love them no more” (Hosea 9:15; compare Hosea 2:9 ff.). (2) Concerning the service of Jehovah the common eighth century conception seems to have been that the bringing of offerings and sacrifices met all religious requirements. As a result the service of God came to be regarded as a purely external and formal thing. Against this misapprehension Hosea boldly raised his voice: “I desire goodness and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6; compare Hosea 5:6). The ceremonial was only a means to an end, and therefore secondary; even at its best it could never take the place of pure and undefiled religion; if it ever displaced the weightier matters it became an abomination. In order to secure the divine approbation it must be backed by a right spirit and a pure life. This principle needed to be emphasized by Hosea the more strongly because in his days the ceremonial was far from being at its best; the religious celebrations were accompanied by all manner of excesses (Hosea 4:12 ff; Hosea 6:7 ff.). It were better to abolish the sacrifice than to practice these things in the name of religion. Still worse, true Jehovah worship was unknown; it had become mixed with Canaanitish elements; in reality it was a worship of the Baalim, the gods of the Canaanites (Hosea 2:5 ff; Hosea 4:12 ff; Hosea 8:4 ff; Hosea 9:9; Hosea 13:2). Such insult Jehovah could not endure (Hosea 2:12-13).
The question has been raised, sometimes, whether Hosea condemned as such the calf worship and the worship at the local shrines; in other words, whether Hosea taught that the worship in the temple at Jerusalem was the only legitimate form of worship. This question cannot be answered dogmatically. Since the calf worship and the worship at the other local sanctuaries were utterly corrupt, it is quite possible that the prophet condemned them simply on account of the accompanying corrupt practices, just as Isaiah (Isaiah 1:15) condemned prayer not because he was opposed to prayer, but because the hands lifted up in prayer were stained with blood. On the other hand, a prophet with the keen spiritual insight of Hosea might well go beyond preceding prophets and condemn practices which before were considered perfectly legitimate. Statements such as those contained in Hosea 8:5, and Hosea 10:5, certainly indicate that the prophet has a low estimate of the “calves” at Bethel and Dan; his estimate of the entire ceremonial is clearly expressed in Hosea 6:6; surely his conception of the essential religious requirements is not very different from that expressed in Micah 6:8.
3 . Other characteristic points in the prophet’s teaching are connected with his promises of restoration. Judgment had become inevitable; the religious, moral, and political apostasy of Israel made it incumbent upon Jehovah to vindicate himself in order that true religion might not be lost to the world. But Jehovah’s love is unquenchable; in wrath he will remember mercy. The nation must die, but it will live again. Hosea, like the other prophets, pictures the restoration in the brightest colors. (1) Amos had described the era subsequent to the restoration as one of extreme fertility and prosperity (Amos 9:13); Hosea expresses a similar hope (Hosea 2:21-22; Hosea 14:5-8), but this temporal prosperity is not the supreme goal of our prophet’s aspirations. More important to him is the re-establishment of a fellowship of life and love with Jehovah, a fellowship that will make it possible for the divine purpose concerning Israel to be completely realized (Hosea 2:14; Hosea 2:19-20; Hosea 14:1-3; compare Hosea 6:1-3). (2) Another truth emphasized by Hosea more than by Amos is the necessity of sincere, heartfelt repentance as a condition of restoration. “Hosea may be accurately styled the first preacher of repentance, yet so thoroughly did he deal with this subject of eternal interest to the human heart that between him and ourselves almost no teacher has increased the insight with which it has been examined or the passion with which it ought to be enforced.” But whereas with us repentance, as, indeed, every religious experience, is individual, with the prophet it was national. The individual element in religion did not receive proper emphasis until more than a century and a half after the time of Hosea. Nevertheless all essential elements of the New Testament conception of repentance are found in the Book of Hosea. To Hosea repentance implied the recognition that all sin was committed against God, a deep sorrow for wrongdoing, and an earnest determination to live henceforth in a manner acceptable to God (Hosea 14:1-3). Sham repentance Jehovah despises (Hosea 6:4 ff.). (3) When Hosea describes the glories of the future he confines himself to the fortunes of the chosen people. Some of the prophets expect the subjugation of the outside nations by the redeemed Israel, some their destruction by Jehovah himself, others anticipate their conversion. Hosea is silent concerning their destiny. (4) Another feature demanding attention is the personal element in his Messianic hope. Amos, without referring to an individual Messianic king, had announced that the future glory would center around the dynasty of David (Hosea 9:11); Hosea declared that the north and the south would be reunited under “one head” (Hosea 1:11), and again, “They shall seek… David their king” (Hosea 3:5). That these passages refer to the establishment of the Messianic kingdom cannot be doubted; but commentators are not agreed as to whether the prophet had in mind a person, a second David (Jeremiah 30:9; Ezekiel 24:23-24; Ezekiel 37:24-25), or whether “David” is equivalent to “house (dynasty) of David” (Amos 9:11). The references are perhaps not numerous enough to put the interpretation beyond question, yet it would seem that the personal view is more natural. If so, Hosea is the first prophet to mention the ideal ruler the Messianic King in whom center the hopes and anticipations of future generations. The designation David may imply an allusion to the character of this king. In the words of Kirkpatrick, “David must mean not merely a prince of David’s line, but a second David, one who corresponds to David as the man after God’s own heart, and who, as is plain from the position he occupies, is to be Jehovah’s true representative.”
Integrity of the Book.
Only a very general discussion of the question is possible in this connection; for details the student must turn to the comments on the doubtful passages. Whenever the grounds for questioning originality seem sufficiently weighty the subject receives due consideration, and the probable conclusion is stated; silence indicates that the doubts appear unwarranted. Not many years ago the discussion of the integrity of Hosea’s prophecy would have occupied little space, because then very few, if any, passages were denied to the prophet. With the advance in critical study the difficulties have increased, and especially since the publication of the commentaries by Wellhausen and Nowack, and the more recent works of Marti and Harper. The last one mentioned enumerates as “the more important of the additions and glosses” the following: Hosea 1:1; Hosea 1:7; Hosea 1:9 to Hosea 2:1; Hosea 2:2 b, Hosea 2:4; Hosea 2:6-7; Hosea 2:10; Hosea 2:14-16; Hosea 2:18-23; Hosea 3:5; Hosea 6:11 a, b; Hosea 7:4; Hosea 8:1 b, Hosea 8:8 b, Hosea 8:10-14; Hosea 9:9; Hosea 10:3-4; Hosea 10:10; Hosea 10:14 b; Hosea 11:8 b, Hosea 11:9 a, Hosea 11:10 b, Hosea 11:11-12 b; Hosea 12:12-13; Hosea 12:12-13, Hosea 14:1-9. Marti considers as secondary (1) all the references to Judah in Hosea 1:1; Hosea 1:7; Hosea 1:10; Hosea 4:15; Hosea 5:5; Hosea 5:10; Hosea 5:12-14; Hosea 6:4; Hosea 6:11; Hosea 8:14; Hosea 10:11; Hosea 11:12 b; Hosea 12:2 a; (2) all promises of restoration, Hosea 1:9 to Hosea 2:1; Hosea 2:13-23, Hosea 3:1-5; Hosea 5:15 to Hosea 6:3; Hosea 6:5 b; Hosea 11:10-11; Hosea 14:1-9. Besides, he recognizes the presence of a large number of smaller additions and glosses. The lists of these two commentators indicate to what extent textual criticism denies to Hosea passages now found in the book bearing his name. Apart from words and sentences of minor importance the secondary elements are grouped by Harper as follows: 1. References to Judah. 2. Passages picturing the glories of the future. Concerning the first group the reader is directed especially to the comments on Hosea 1:7; Hosea 4:15; Hosea 5:5. The objections raised against the second group are by no means convincing. The subject is discussed in the introductory remarks to Hosea 2:14-23. The passages under this head are said (1) to be unsuitable for Hosea’s situation; (2) to interrupt in an unnatural manner his threats and announcements of judgment; and (3) to be contrary to Hosea’s point of view. That Hosea’s time demanded messages of warning and judgment is undoubtedly true, and such messages he did deliver; that promises of future glory might be a proper incentive for the people to change their conduct for the better is equally true. It should be noted that these promises are not unconditional; their fulfillment presupposes repentance and return to God on the part of the people. Why such promises should be unsuitable in the days of Hosea, or contrary to the prophet’s point of view, cannot easily be seen. 3. The third group includes, according to Harper, “phrases and sentences of a technical, archaeological, or historical character, inserted by way of expansion and explanation.” Among others he mentions, “because the shadow thereof is good” (Hosea 4:13); “with their flocks and with their herds” (Hosea 5:6); “as in the days of Gibeah” (Hosea 9:9); “for the glory thereof, for it is departed from it” (Hosea 10:5). 4. The fourth group includes miscellaneous glosses and interpolations for which, perhaps, no special motive may be discovered; for example, “that they may be cut off” (Hosea 8:4); “how long will it be ere they attain to innocency?” (Hosea 8:5); Hosea 8:10-14, entire; “with my God” (Hosea 9:8), etc. Each of these and similar cases must be examined on its own merits, and whenever it is thought necessary this is done in the commentary. In general it may be said that the reasons advanced against the originality of these verses and phrases are threefold: (1) They might be omitted without disturbing the thought; (2) the poetic meter requires their omission; (3) their connection with the context is not clear; sometimes they even seem to contradict the context. Of these (1) cannot be considered conclusive; (2) will be convincing only to those who believe that the prophetic discourses were arranged originally in the exact metrical and strophical form advocated by President Harper. Those who adhere to a different metrical system may retain some of the passages rejected by him and suggest other textual alterations as their system may demand. There are those, however, who are not convinced that the metrical and strophical arrangement suggested by President Harper is correct, nor do they consider it proven that the discourses of the Hebrew prophets were originally in strictly poetic form. When, for instance, the same author says (p. clxix) that “the analogy of other ancient literature should have suggested long ago the probability that Israel’s early prophetic literature was poetry,” and then gives as illustrations the Gilgamesh epic of the Babylonians and the Homeric poems of Greece, he seems to have overlooked the fact that these are literary compositions of an entirely different character from the discourses of the Hebrew prophets. The additional statement that in view of the fact that these pieces were spoken rather than sung we might expect “a much larger freedom in form” and “a greater variety,” and that this “occasions the chief difference between prophetic poetry and psalm poetry,” would perhaps meet the case, provided it carries with it the recognition of sufficient freedom in form; but if such freedom is granted changes in the text for the sake of meter become unnecessary, or, at least, few in number.
That there is in the prophetic books much more poetry than was formerly supposed, and that this recognition is of great value to textual criticism, is not doubted; but that in our present state of uncertainty a hypothetical metrical system may be used as an ultimate criterion by the textual student may be seriously doubted; and one may be justified in refusing to accept passages as secondary which upon this ground alone are denied to Hosea. (3) In view of the statements below even abruptness in transition cannot be regarded as proving conclusively the presence of interpolations. The case against originality may be stronger when actual contradiction exists; but sometimes apparent, contradictions are due to the failure to understand and interpret a passage correctly; a correct interpretation often removes the difficulties.
For these reasons one cannot help but feel that the most recent textual criticism has denied to Hosea more passages than the facts warrant.
The abruptness in transition and apparent lack of logical connection, which exist in Hosea in a more marked degree than in any other Old Testament book, deserve additional consideration. These phenomena are to be accounted for in large part by (1) the corruption of the text; (2) Hosea’s peculiar style; (3) the fact that the book does not contain a verbatim reproduction of the discourses, and (4) the fact that the separate utterances are arranged neither in chronological nor in logical order. (3) has already been touched upon (p. 20). If the statement made there is correct, we can readily see how these notes and summaries might have been collected without regard for the logical connection between the separate oracles (4); in fact, there may never have been such connection. That the text of Hosea has suffered in transmission (1) cannot be doubted. Even A.B. Davidson feels compelled to say, “A multitude of passages are corrupt, some incurably.” Again and again commentators must confess that the translation and interpretation of certain passages are in doubt, and this in many cases is due to corruption of the text (compare Hosea 4:4; Hosea 7:3-7; Hosea 11:7; Hosea 11:12; Hosea 12:1 ff., and many more). (2) The style of Hosea has long been recognized as being different from that of any other Old Testament writer. Jerome spoke of it as “consisting of short clauses”; Dr. Pusey describes it aptly in the words, “Each verse forms a whole by itself, like one heavy toll in a funeral knell”; and to this Cheyne adds, “Even the fetters of grammar are almost too much for Hosea’s vehement feeling.” The last quotation indicates the cause of the abruptness and disconnectedness. Hosea was a man with a sensitive nature; his emotions were stirred profoundly; he could not deliver a stately and dignified discourse; the truths burned in his heart; and in sympathy and anguish he poured out his heart, without any attempt to indicate the logical connection between separate utterances; this the hearers might easily supply.