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the Week of Proper 9 / Ordinary 14
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Bible Commentaries
Hosea 1

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New TestamentZerr's N.T. Commentary

Verse 1

Hos 1:1. According to the compilation of the books of the Bible, Hosea is the first of the "Minor Prophets.” The term is a little misleading as it implies a difference of importance between them and the others. The Schaff-Herzog Encyclopaedia says this on the subject: "The Minor Prophets ("brief in words, mighty in meaning”), are twelve in number; viz., Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkult, Zephaniah, Hag- gai, Zechariah and Malachi. In the Hebrew canon [books accepted as being Inspired] they constitute only one book. They are called the ‘Lesser, or Minor Prophets' because their prophecies were brief, not because they were less important, than those of the four Greater Prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel.) All these writings together do not equal In length those of Isaiah. Yet Hosea exercised the prophetic office longer than any other prophet.” This verse gives the period covered by the vision of Hosea. which agrees with the statement just quoted from the reference book. The first four kings named were rulers of the 2-tribe kingdom of Judah, and the last one was a king of the 10-tribe kingdom of Israel. The captivity of the kingdom of Israel took place in the days of Hezekiah, king of Judah, and Hosea’s work extended over that period, hence he lived to see the fulfillment of some of the predictions that he made concerning that kingdom.

Verse 2

Hos 1:2. It has been seen in numerous instances that prophets have been required to do some “acting” in con-nection with their prophetic office, and Hosea is another in that class. The case is so strange that I consider it advisable to copy most of my comments on the subject given on 1Ki 20:35 : “At various times inspired men have been called upon to go through certain physical performances as a form of prediction. Some of such in-stances wil! be cited. The torn garment. 1Ki 11:29-31; the wounding of the prophet, 1Ki 20:35; the cohabiting with the wife, Isa 8:3; wearing a girdle, Jer 13:1-7; eating of filth, Eze 5:1-4; moving of household goods, Eze 12:3-7; eating a book, Rev 10:8-11. We are not told specifically why all this was done; but it was in line with the statement of Paul in Heb 1:1. It might be suggested that visible exhibitions of divine predictions are sometimes impressive where the simple wording is not.” Harlotry is compared to Idolatry and other forms of unfaithfulness all through the Bible. The Jews were so generally guilty of this spiritual adultery that the Lord wished them to be impressed with its serious-ness through seeing this kind of performance by the prophet. We know that such was His purpose in the in-structions, for they are immediately followed by the words, for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the Lord,

Verse 3

Hos 1:3. There was a specific woman and her specific name is given whom Hosea married, so that no basis exists for building up some fanciful theory about the transaction. The people of Israel were grossly guilty of idolatry and some shocking demonstration was needed to impress them with the gravity of the abomination, hence the prophet was commanded to be the in-strument of God for the performance. There is no occasion for ns to make more out of the case than the facts set forth. No personal immorality can be charged against Hosea in this situa-tion. He waB not a priest and hence the restrictions of the law against marriage to such a character would not apply to him. In Leviticus 21 the Lord forbade the priests to “take a wife that is a whore, or profane.” This very law indicates that at least. It might be expected that other men would marry such a character if they so desired. Another thing to be remem-bered, is that no intimation is in evidence that the wife of Hosea was required to continue in her former practice. There are numerous instances on record where women of immoral “pasts” have married, settled down and made good wives and mothers. Whether Gomer proved to be that bind remains to be seen; but whatever it may turn out to be, the Lord will know how to use the situation with good effect in His infinite wisdom. Hence, let the reader keep his attention focused on this most unusual and interesting life drama.

Verse 4

Hos 1:4, In Biblical times many proper names had significant meanings and they were applied to persons and places frequently to express some lesson, either of prophecy or history. The name Hosea’s son was given by the Lord, which was Jezreel, The word is defined in the lexicon as, “God will sow or scatter." It was also the name of a place where Jehu, king of Israel, committed some of his most horrible outrages, and God intended this name of Hosea’s son to be an omen of what He would do to the house Of this wicked king. The prediction was even made that the kingdom of the house of Israel would be caused to cease. And since the name assigned to this son means to sow (as seed strewn abroad) or scatter, it was a fitting symbol of the time when the kingdom would be scattered over the land of Assyria.

Verse 5

Hos 1:5. Break the bow is figurative and means that the men of the 10-tribe kingdom would not be able to with-stand the attacks of the invading forces, The fulfillment of this prophecy is recorded in 2 Kings 17 th chapter.

Verse 6

Hos 1:6. A daughter was born to the house of Hosea and the Lord named her also with a word with an appro-priate meaning. The lexicon of Strong defines Loruhamah as “not pitied.” The meaning is that Israel continued in her idolatry, even after the birth and naming of the first child, so the Lord would not change His mind concerning what was determined to be done to the nation.

Verse 7

Hos 1:7. Will have mercy upon the house of Judah. Tills may sound strange to the reader who will remem-ber that the kingdom of Judah also became corrupt and was finally exiled from her native country as well as Israel That is true, but that was not the same time when Hie Lord meant he would have mercy upon Judah, but it was at tbe same period that the ten tribes were taken captive by the Assyrians. At that time the same heathen country threatened Judah and God here promises that He will have mercy upon her then. Not save by sword nor bow means that Judali would not have to go to war to drive off the Assyrians. 2Ki 10:35-36 shows how the nation was saved by a miracle.

Verse 8

Hos 1:8. When she had weaned, etc. This is merely an incidental allusion to the rule as to the liability of con-ception after the bearing of a child. It has no particular connection with the story hut is stated for the sake of coherence.

Verse 9

Hos 1:9. Here a fact about literal Israel iH used as a symbol of a spiritual fact, The name which God gave to be used for this son means "not my people." When the nation of the Jews became corrupt, God suffered it to be taken off into a strange land. By such an event it could be said that He no longer considered the Jews as His people since they ceased to exist aa a free political people. That circum-stance is used as a symbolic prediction of the time when a Jew could not claim to belong to Gcd merely on the ground of his being a Jew. That agrees with the statement of Paul in Gala-tians 3: 28 on what it means to be In Christ. In that relationship he says, "There Is neither Jew nor Greek [Gentile], . . . for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Verse 10

Hos 1:10. This verse continues the thought that was introduced in the preceding one. Israel is used spiritually. and refers to the Gentiles who were to become God's people in the future after the kingdom of Christ was established. Apparently the Gentiles had no prospect of being a people of God at all, much less becoming a nu-merous one. But after the middle wall of partition between the Jews and Gentile was broken down, the latter showed more readiness of mind to accept the Gospel than the former, and conse-quently they produced more Christians than the Jews. And there was also a numerical fact that helped to account for the difference. The Gentiles constitute by far a larger per cent of the earth's population than the Jews. Hence, when the door was opened to them, it brought in a greater number of converts to Christ, and that would have been true even had the compara-tive willingness of the two been the same.

Verse 11

Hos 1:11. The prediction of this verse was fulfilled literally and spiritually. The former was fulfilled by the return of all the Jews from the Babylonian captivity. Israel, the 10-tribe kingdom, went into exile under the Assyrian Empire, and Judah, the 2- tribe kingdom, went into exile under the Babylonian Empire. The two events were a century apart, in the course of which time the Babylonians had taken over the Assyrian Empire with all its "holdings,” and that virtually threw all of the Jews together. When the Persians overthrew the Babylonians, they released all of the Jew's which permitted them to return to Palestine as one nation. The prediction was fulfilled spiritually when the distinction between Jew and Gentile was removed, and both were brought together under one head. Jesus is that head and His fold or kingdom is the place where God's people are together as under one shepherd (Joh 10:16).
Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Hosea 1". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/znt/hosea-1.html. 1952.
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