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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible
Hosea 1

 

 

Introduction

CHAP. I.

Hosea, to shew God's judgment for spiritual whoredom, taketh Gomer, and hath by her Jezreel, Lo-ruhamah, and Lo-ammi. The restoration of Judah and Israel.

Before Christ 786.


Verse 1

Hosea 1:1. The word of the Lord that came unto Hosea, the son of Beeri Hosea signifies a saviour, and Beeri—of a well. Calmet observes, that if Hosea prophesied in the reign of all these princes, he must have lived a very long time; for there are one hundred and twelve years from the beginning of Uzziah's to the end of Hezekiah's reign; add, if you please, twenty or twenty-five years, which might be the age of Hosea when he began to prophesy, and this will make a hundred and thirty-two or a hundred and thirty-seven. And if we were to take ten years from Uzziah, and as many from Hezekiah, during which Hosea might not have prophesied, there will still remain a hundred and twelve or a hundred and seventeen years.


Verse 2

Hosea 1:2. Take unto thee a wife of whoredoms That is, a woman, who, before her marriage, had lived an impure life, but who afterward should retire from all bad conversation, and whose children should be legitimate, notwithstanding that, by reason of the blemish which their mother had contracted by her former life, they were called the children of whoredoms. This prostitute woman, and the children to be born of her, were a figure, and a kind of real prophecy, which described the idolatry and infidelity of Samaria and the ten tribes, formerly the Lord's spouse, but afterwards become adulterous and corrupt. God gives these children the names of Jezreel, Loruhamah, or without mercy, and Lo-ammi, or thou art no longer my people; to shew, 1. That God was going to retaliate upon the house of Jehu, king of Israel, the sins which he had committed at Jezreel, when he came to the kingdom of the ten tribes. 2. That the Lord would treat his idolatrous and sinful people without mercy; and lastly, That he would reject them, and no more look upon them as his people. Many interpreters, offended at the irregularity of Hosea's marriage with a woman of a bad life, have thought this relation to be only a parable: that the prophet called the wife whom he had taken a prostitute, with a design only of awakening the attention of the Israelites; or that all this passed only in a vision, without the prophet's coming to the execution of it. But the whole sequel of Hosea's narration sufficiently shews, that this marriage was real, though figurative as to the things which it described, and which were to be afterwards performed. This is the opinion of St. Basil, Theodoret, St. Augustin, and many good interpreters. Dr. Pococke observes, "Seeing each opinion [that for the literal interpretation, and that for the figurative] is backed by great authority, and the maintainers thereof will not yield to one another's reasons; it must be still left to the considerate reader to use his own judgment; only with this caution, that he conceive nothing unworthy of God, or unworthy his holy prophet, nor draw from the words any unfavourable and unhandsome conclusions." See Pococke on Hosea. Besides, God was able to make ample compensation to the prophet in the course of eternity for any sufferings or reproaches which he might endure in consequence of this marriage.


Verse 3

Hosea 1:3. So he went He said not, This is a hard saying, who can hear it? He does not reason, but comply: he does not dispute, but obey.


Verse 4

Hosea 1:4. Call his name Jezreel For the honourable name of Israel is too good for this people. Call them therefore Jezreel, a people devoted to dispersion, and such as I will scatter unto the four winds of heaven, as the seedsman scattereth his seed.

For yet a little while And yet this little while was a long while, through God's gracious forbearance. Bad as this people were, they should not perish without repeated wanting.


Verse 5

Hosea 1:5. That I will break the bow of Israel, &c.— St. Jerome says, the Israelites were overthrown by the Assyrians in a pitched battle in the plain of Jezrael or Jezreel. But of any such battle we have no mention in history, sacred or profane. But Tiglath-pileser took several of the principal cities in that plain, in the reign of Pekah. And afterwards, in the reign of Hoshea, Samaria was taken by Shalmanazer after a siege of three years; and this put an end to the kingdom of the ten tribes; 2 Kings 15:29; 2 Kings 17:5-6. And the taking of these cities successively, and at last of the capital itself, was "a breaking of the bow of Israel," a demolition of the whole military strength of the kingdom, "in the valley of Jezreel," where all those cities were situated. For the breaking of the bow was a natural image for the overthrow of military strength in general, at a time when the bow and arrow was one of the principal weapons.

Although the valley of Jezreel is here to be understood literally of the tract of country so named, yet perhaps there is an indirect allusion to the mystical import of the name. This being the finest spot of the whole land of promise, the name, the vale of Jezreel, describes it as the property of the holy seed, by whom it is at last to be possessed. So that, in the very terms of the denunciation against the kingdom of Israel, an oblique promise is contained of the restoration of the converted Israelites. The Israel which possessed it, in the time of this prophesy, were not the rightful owners of the soil. It is part of the domain of the Jezrael, or Jezreel, for whom it is reserved.


Verse 6

Hosea 1:6. For I will no more have mercy, &c.— For I will no more cherish with tenderness the house of Israel, insomuch as to be perpetually forgiving them. Bishop Horsley.


Verse 7

Hosea 1:7. But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah This difference in the divine dispensation was owing to the enormous crimes of the Israelites, and to the singular piety of Hezekiah. Judah was saved in a miraculous manner from the sword of the Assyrians. It was not by bow, nor by sword, &c. but by the immediate and miraculous intervention of the Lord, who destroyed the Assyrian army in one night. See 2 Kings 19:35.


Verse 10

Hosea 1:10. Yet the number, &c.— Though God casts off the ten tribes, yet he will in due time supply their loss by bringing in great numbers of true Israelites into the church, not only of the Jews, but also of the Gentiles; and making them who before were strangers to the covenant of promise fellow-heirs with the Jews. The prophet plainly refers to the final restoration and admission of the Jews into the church of Christ. For these expressions are too magnificent to be understood of any thing but the final rescue of the Jews from the power of Antichrist in the latter ages, by the incarnate God destroying the enemy with the brightness of his coming; of which the destruction of Sennacherib's army in the days of Hezekiah might be a type, but it was nothing more. It may seem, perhaps, that the prophesy points at some deliverance peculiar to the house of Judah, in which the ten tribes will have no share; such as the overthrow of Sennacherib actually was; whereas the destruction of Antichrist will be an universal blessing. But, in the different treatment of the house of Judah and the house of Israel, we see the prophesy hitherto remarkably verified. After the excision of the kingdom of the ten tribes, Judah, though occasionally visited with severe judgments, continued, however, to be cherished with God's love, till they rejected our Lord. Then Judah became Lo-ammi, but still continues to be visibly an object of God's peculiar providence, preserved as a distinct race for gracious purposes of mercy. Perhaps in the last ages the converts of the house of Judah will be the principal objects of Antichrist's malice. Their deliverance may be first wrought, and through them the blessing may be extended to their brethren of the ten tribes, and ultimately to the whole world. This order of things the subsequent prophesy seems to point out.

And it shall come to pass, that in the place, &c.— That is, at Jerusalem, or at least in Judaea, where this prophesy was delivered, and where the execution of the sentence took place. There, in that very place, they, to whom it was said, Ye are no people of mine, shall be called children of the living God. This must relate to the natural Israel of the house of Judah; for to them it was said, "Ye are no people of mine." And since they are to be acknowledged again as the children of the living God, in the same place where this sentence was pronounced and executed, the prophesy clearly promises their restoration to their own land.


Verse 11

Hosea 1:11. And appoint themselves one head The Lord Jesus Christ shall become the chief and the king of his church, composed of Judah and Israel, of Jews and Gentiles. This is the primary intention of the prophesy; which, however, (as we observed above,) secondarily may refer to the restoration of the Jews from Babylon, and their reunion under one head. We have seen on the fourth verse the meaning of the Word Jezreel. There was a still farther prediction comprehended under it, which regarded the future and remote state of the Jews. The two Hebrew words זרה zerah, to disperse, and זרע zerang. to sow, in order to multiply and gather, are in found nearly the same; and either of them may compound the word Israel or Jezreel. As therefore the prophet declared the dispersion of Israel, when their bow or strength was broken in the valley of Jezreel, so here he comforts them with a promise, implied in another sense of the same name, of their being gathered from the captivity, and increasing like the seed of God. The latter words of this verse, For great, &c. are rendered in the Chaldee, For great is the day of the gathering of Israel: Jarchi, to render the allusion plainer, translates them, Great is the day of gathering the seed of Israel; which Kimchi explains thus: "Israel was typified in the child Jezreel, because God scattered them in his anger, as זרע zerang—seed, among the Gentiles; and again, he called Jezreel the seed of God, because in the time of salvation they shall be sown in their own land." This is similar to the prophet's own explanation, chap. Hosea 2:22-23. See Chandler's Defence, and Houbigant.

And they shall come up out of the land And come up from the earth. That is, from all parts of the earth to Jerusalem. Jerusalem being situated upon an eminence, and in the heart of a mountainous region, which rose greatly above the general level of the country to a great distance on all sides, the sacred writers always speak of persons going to Jerusalem, as going up.

Great shall be the day of Jezreel Great and happy shall be the day, when the holy seed of both branches of the natural Israel shall be publicly acknowledged of their God; united under one head, their king Messiah; and restored to the possession of the promised land, and to a situation of high pre-eminence among the kingdoms of the earth. Bishop Horsley.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, The prophet opens his book with an account of his name and parentage. He was called Hosea, the same as Jesus or Joshua, a Saviour, the great business of his ministry being to promote the salvation of his people. His father's name is mentioned; but of what tribe or place he was is not said.

He prophesied during the reigns of four kings of Judah, and their cotemporaries who ruled in Israel, though but one of them is mentioned. Perhaps their lives were so bad, that their very names were odious.

2nd, The first revelation of God's will to Hosea, was a fearful threatening against a rebellious people, under the figure of a man taking a wife of whoredoms. In the names of the children born of this marriage, the prophet is commissioned to foretel the approaching ruin of that devoted people.

1. In the name of the first son, who is called Jezreel, God shews Jeroboam the destruction determined against his family, and the cause of it. Jezreel signifies the seed of God, or scattered of God; and this is explained, for yet a little while, in a few years, under his son Jeconiah, and I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu; the blood of Ahab, and his sons and relations, which Jehu shed; for though the action was right, and God commended it, 2 Kings 10:30 yet the temper with which Jehu did it was evil, intending not God's glory, but the gratification of his own pride, ambition, and cruelty, as afterwards evidently appeared; for though he pretended zeal for God when he seized the throne, he still kept the calves in Dan and Bethel. Thus many of the good works of pride and self-righteousness become evil from the temper with which they are done, and bring down a curse instead of a blessing. And I will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel, in the family of Jehu, as was soon fulfilled, 2 Kings 15:8-10. Or this may relate to the destruction of the ten tribes by Salmaneser, 2 Kings 17:6-23. And it shall come to pass at that day, that I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel; which may refer to Menahem's slaughter of Shallum, 2 Kings 15:14-16 or to some battle fought there with Salmaneser, before he subdued the country, 2 Kings 17:6. See the Annotations. Note; They who depart from God weaken their own arms; and sin brings certain ruin in its train.

2. In the name of the second child, Lo-ruhamah, God foretels his entire rejection of the whole nation. The word signifies without mercy; intimating, as the prophet from God explains it, that God would have no more mercy on the Israelites, but would utterly take them away, as was done by the king of Assyria, 2 Kings 17. Woe to the sinner with whom God's mercies are at an end!

3. A promise of mercy is made to the house of Judah, which had preserved the true worship of God. I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will save them by the Lord their God, not by any human power or weapons; which may refer to the deliverance of the Jews from Sennacherib's army, 2 Kings 19:35 or rather to the greater salvation which the Lord Jesus should accomplish, subduing all the spiritual foes of his faithful people, and by his own arm making them more than conquerors. Note; (1.) All our salvation comes not from any merit in us, but the mere mercy of our God. (2.) They who cleave to God as their God, shall find that he will own them in the day of trouble, and interpose for their rescue.

3rdly, The decree gone forth against this wicked nation is confirmed in the name of a son, the third child, called Lo-ammi, after Lo-ruhamah was weaned; which may signify the patience of God for a while bearing with them; or that first captivity, when many of Gilead and Galilee were carried away by Tiglath-pileser, 2 Kings 15:29.

1. God rejects Israel from being his people, as the name Lo-ammi signifies, Ye are no longer my people; have cast off my government and worship: and I will not be your God, to bless, protect, and save you. Note; (1.) They who revolt from God, are justly rejected by him. (2.) Many claim a relation to God in name, whose works deny him, and whom he will therefore disown.

2. In wrath God remembers mercy; and a gracious promise is made of their restoration. He that wounds, is willing to heal. Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; which prophesy, whatever primary respect it might have to the return of the Israelites from their captivity with their brethren; or whatever ground of comfort it might afford to the pious captives there; yet we are assured, Romans 9:24-26 was to have its glorious accomplishment when Jews and Gentiles should be converted to the faith of Christ; as was eminently the case, when, by the preaching of the gospel at the first, multitudes were added to the church; and daily we observe the innumerable host increasing, till the fulness of the Gentiles shall be come in at the last day, and so all Israel shall be saved. 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; adopted into the family, and admitted to all the great and distinguished privileges of the children of God. Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together; which some interpret of the union of these divided kingdoms, on their return from Babylon; but it rather respects the times of the gospel, when Galileans, Samaritans, and Jews, converted by the preaching of Christ and his apostles, were joined in one Christian church, and the Gentiles afterwards incorporated therein. But particular respect is had to the times when the Jews shall be collected from their present dispersion, and be universally turned to the Lord, and appoint themselves one head, the Divine Messiah, to whom they shall be gathered at the last, willingly submitting themselves to his blessed government: and they shall come up out of the land, or the earth, collected from all parts of it; or as experiencing a kind of resurrection from the state of misery, like death, in which they lay, for great shall be the day of Jezreel; after all the afflictions that they have endured, their latter end shall be full of glory. Note; (1.) Every believer is distinguished with the eminent dignity of being a child of the living God; and, however he may be despised of men, is glorious in the eyes of the Most High and Most Holy, and, persevering in faith and love and holy obedience, shall be acknowledged by him in the last great day. (2.) The people of God have Christ for their living head, deriving from him all vital influence; yielding themselves up to him, to be directed and governed; and through him maintaining mutual communion with each other, being all one in Christ Jesus. (3.) They who have Christ for their head, must come up from the earth, and set their affections on things above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God.

 


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Bibliography Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Hosea 1:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/hosea-1.html. 1801-1803.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, November 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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