The Book Of Hosea

From: Holman Bible Dictionary, Electronic Version, Parson Technology, Used By Permission

HOSEA (Hoh see' uh) Personal name meaning, "salvation." In Hebrew the name is the same as that of Joshua's original name (Num. 13:16; Deut. 32:44) and of the last king of Israel (2 Kings 17:1), who lived at the same time as the prophet. English translators have often chosen to spell the prophet's name Hosea to distinguish him from the others, whose names they spell, Hoshea.

The prophet's name "Hosea" appears in the Bible only at Hosea 1:1, 2; Romans 9:25. Assyria's rise to power posed a constant threat to Israel's national existence. Hosea's name symbolized the pressing need for national deliverance. His message pointed the nation to the deliverer (Hos. 13:4).

The Book The two broad divisions of the Book of Hosea are: (1) Hosea's Marriage, Hosea 1-3; and (2) Hosea's Messages, Hosea 4-14. A pattern of judgment followed by hope recurs in each of the first three chapters. The dominant theme of the book is love (covenant fidelity), God's unrelenting love for His wayward people and Israel's unreliable love for God.

The Prophet Hosea was from the Northern Kingdom of Israel. His familiarity with place names, religious practices, and political conditions in Israel suggests that he was a native. Hosea preached judgment with a broken heart.

Placement of Hosea's ministry in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah indicates that he was a contemporary of Isaiah. Hosea's ministry continued from the last days of Jeroboam II to near the end of the Northern Kingdom (approximately 750-725 B.C.).

Hosea's prophetic ministry included the period of Near Eastern history when Assyria emerged as a new world empire under the capable leadership of Tiglath-pileser III (745-727 B.C.). Hosea rebuked efforts at alliance with Assyria and Egypt as the means to national security. He witnessed the political chaos in Israel following the death of Jeroboam II. Four of the last six kings to sit on Israel's throne were assassinated. Hosea had the unenviable task of presiding over the death of his beloved nation, but he held out hope of national revival based on radical repentance (Hos. 14).

The Marriage Hosea's marriage and family life dominate chapters 1-3 and surface from time to time in the remainder of the book. References to Hosea's family serve as prophetic symbolism of God and His family Israel. God ordered Hosea to take a wife of harlotry and have children of harlotry "for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the Lord" (Hos. 1:2). Primary interest is not in Hosea and his family, but in God and His family. The interpretation of Hosea as normal literal leads us to believe the Hosea's marriage as an actual marriage to a cult prostitute. A loving man with a loving heart for his wife, and his people.

The Theology At the heart of Hosea's theology was the relationship between God and Israel. Yahweh alone was Israel's God. Israel was Yahweh's elect people. Hosea presented Yahweh as a faithful husband and Israel as an unfaithful wife. Hosea's stress is not upon righteousness and justice, but the knowledge of God and loyal love. God's love for Israel would not permit Him to give up on them in spite of their infidelity and lack of knowledge. Hope for Israel's future lay in their repentance and God's forgiveness and love that made Him willing to restore their relationship.