Hosea Chapter One




            Hosea was the son of Bee-ri and while many scholars place him fourth in the list of Minor Prophets, the sequence we’re using, others place him at the beginning.  He is called by these scholars the “first of the writing prophets” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary, p. 877).  They place him in the history of Israel before Isaiah.

            The ancient Jewish writings record his birthplace as Beth-she-mesh and of the tribe of Issachar, which would make him a citizen of the northern kingdom of Israel.  More modern scholars place Beth-she-mesh in the current Israeli administrative district of Jerusalem.  This city was as ancient Canaanite city, the site of Canaanite worship of their sun-god, thus its name which means “house of the sun” or “sun-temple”.  This city was located on the border between Judah and Dan, conquered by Joshua and given to the Levites as one of the Levitical cities.  Most seem to accept the second location as the origin of Hosea so in reality we don’t know for sure and the scripture doesn’t tell us.

            Hosea was sent to the northern kingdom of Israel, and is said to have prophesied for about 90 years.  He is quoted by both Jeremiah and Ezekiel so preceded them in time and prophesied during the reign of Jeroboam II of Israel.  This is virtually the same time as Amos and scholars also don’t agree on who was first.  Be that as it may; his prophecy is the Word of God, recorded and maintained through the providence of God for our learning.  Though we will study it in more detail the book can be divided into three basic sections, Hosea’s preparation in chapters 1-3; his message in chapters 4-13 and God’s call for Israel to repent in chapter 14.


Read Hosea 1:1-3 – God’s Call to Hosea


v.1The word of the LORD that came unto Hosea, the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel.”


            Hosea dates himself.  He prophesied during the reign of Jeroboam II in Israel and four of the kings of Judah, Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaza and Hezekiah.  He identifies himself also as Ben Beeri, or son of Beeri.  He speaks and writes “THE WORD OF THE LORD” declaring his inspiration much the same as the apostle Paul:


I Thessalonians 4:15For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.”


The authenticity of his prophesy and its inclusion in scripture is further guaranteed by the fact that he is quoted by Jesus in Matthew 2:5 and Matthew 12:7, by Paul in Romans 9:25 and Peter in I Peter 2:10 as well as other places.


v.2-3The beginning of the word of the LORD by Hosea. And the LORD said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the LORD. 3So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim; which conceived, and bare him a son.”


            At the outset of his prophecy Hosea receives some very explicit instructions from God that would probably seem quite strange to us.  He is to be God’s spokesman, God’s prophet to bring the Word of God to a reprobate nation but God tells him to go marry a harlot.  That doesn’t seem quite appropriate for a man of God, a preacher of righteousness does it?  But there is a purpose for God’s instruction.  Hosea marriage relationship was to parallel the relationship between God and his chosen people.  Their seeking after strange gods after having been chosen by God as his people is characterized as spiritual adultery. God told Moses:


Deuteronomy 31:16And the LORD said unto Moses, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers; and this people will rise up, and go a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land, whither they go to be among them, and will forsake me, and break my covenant which I have made with them.”


The same analogy is used in the writing of James in the New Testament as well:


James 4:44Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”


So Hosea takes Gomer, a woman apparently of somewhat questionable morals, as his wife and she bears him a son.


Read Hosea 1:4-9Gomer’s Children


v.4And the LORD said unto him, Call his name Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu, and will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel.”


            In addition to telling Hosea what kind of woman he was to marry, he also gives him the names to be used for his children.  The eldest was to be called Jezreel.  The significance of this name was that during the reign of the house of Jehu in Israel God was going avenge the slaughter that took place in the valley of Jezreel.  Jehu had taken over Israel by removing the descendants of Ahab.


II Kings 10:11So Jehu slew all that remained of the house of Ahab in Jezreel, and all his great men, and his kinsfolks, and his priests, until he left him none remaining.”


The Jehu dynasty was allowed to last for only four generations.


II Kings 15:12 “This was the word of the LORD which he spake unto Jehu, saying, Thy sons shall sit on the throne of Israel unto the fourth generation. And so it came to pass.”


v.55And it shall come to pass at that day, that I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel.”


            It was also in the plain of Jezreel that God would destroy much of the kingdom of Israel:


II Kings 15:29In the days of Pekah king of Israel came Tig-lath-pi-le-ser king of Assyria, and took I-jon, and A-bel-beth-ma-a-chah, and Ja-no-ah, and Ke-desh, and Ha-zor, and Gil-e-ad, and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali, and carried them captive to Assyria.”


The valley of Jezreel, also called the plain of Esdraelon is the location of much of the warfare that ended in the result described in II Kings 15:29.  It is also the location of Armageddon in the false doctrines of many denominations.


v.6And she conceived again, and bare a daughter. And God said unto him, Call her name Lo-ru-ha-mah: for I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel; but I will utterly take them away.”


            The meaning given to the name Lo-ru-ha-math is “not favored” and I guess that would be putting it very mildly.  God gave the daughter of Hosea and Gomer the name because he not only will no longer favor Israel but will have no mercy for Israel.  This name is also translated “not beloved” or “not having obtained mercy” and again reflects God’s rejection of Israel as his people. He will destroy their nation and cause them to be led away captive never to be returned again to their God given homeland.


II Kings 17:6In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria, and placed them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.”


II Kings 17:23Until the LORD removed Israel out of his sight, as he had said by all his servants the prophets. So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day.



v.7But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will save them by the LORD their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen.”


            Judah, however, would continue to receive God’s mercy.  He will preserve them as the remnant of his chosen people to carry out his purpose.  God would deliver them himself.  He would not use the bow, sword or any other instruments of war.  They would not be victorious in battle nor would they survive because they had the means to overcome those that came against them.  God would intervene to preserve them and he did.  When the Assyrian army of Sennacherib came against Jerusalem we find:


II Kings 19:34-35 “For I will defend this city, to save it, for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake.  And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the LORD went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.”


v.8-9Now when she had weaned Loruhamah, she conceived, and bare a son. 9Then said God, Call his name Loammi: for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God.”


            The second son of Gomer, a son whom some commentators consider to have been born as a result of her harlotry, not the child of Hosea, is named Lo-am-mi.  This name means “not my people”.  Israel had rejected God for idols.  God had warned them repeatedly, punished them, took them back when they repented and made them prosper again.  But they just continued to ignore his law, refuse his commandments and live the lives of the pagan peoples around them.  Now God will no longer be their God, he has abandoned them and does the same thing to the same kind of people today.  Paul describes this kind of a situation in Romans the first chapter using these words:


Romans 1:24-25Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: 25Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.” v.28And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 29Being filled with all unrighteousness,…”


Read Hosea 1:10-11Judah and Israel will be Restored


v.10Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God.”


            Now the prophesy shifts from physical Israel to spiritual Israel.  Just as was promised to Abraham, Isaac and then finally Jacob or Israel.  When Jacob prayed to God for deliverance from Esau we find these words:


Genesis 32:12And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.”


By the means of Judah, the remnant of Israel that remains God will still accomplish his purpose of bringing a Saviour into the world.  The spiritual children of Jacob will indeed be numbered as the “SAND OF THE SEA.”  They would be the sons of God:


John 1:12But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:”


And while these people would begin with the remnant of the sons of Israel; God’s grace and mercy would be extended, literally, to all men “AS MANY AS RECEIVED HIM.”


I Peter 2:9-10But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: 10Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.”


v.11Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head, and they shall come up out of the land: for great shall be the day of Jezreel.”


            When the mercy of God is extended to all people then the descendants of physical Israel, where ever they may be, whatever tribe they may have been a part of, can be restored to God’s grace.


Isaiah 11:12-13And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. 13The envy also of Ephraim shall depart, and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off: Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim.”


This prophecy speaks of a restoration of the relationship between Ephraim, representing the northern kingdom of Israel and Judah, representing the southern kingdom and so it will be in the spiritual kingdom of Israel ruled by the Son of God.  This union of all men is also prophesied in:


Ezekiel 34:23 And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd.”


Under the rule of the Messiah, Jesus the Christ, all Israel will be reunited and will include all men who choose to obey God.  The Holy Spirit emphasizes through the pen of the Apostle Paul that, first of all; the Son of God is their head:


Colossians 1:18And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.”


And then that spiritual Israel will indeed include all men, proof of which we can see today in churches of Christ around the world.


Galatians 3:27-29 “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. 29And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”


William L. Schwegler, Sunset church of Christ, Shreveport, LA; August 31, 2008