Church Education Trust

Church and the Bible

TMP028 Hosea

The Minor Prophets


Key Word.

"Return". This word is used 15 times in the book of Hosea.

Key Verse.

"Return of Israel, to the Lord your God,your sins have been your downfall!" ch.14:1.

Key Theme.

How God "Restores" the backslidder into fellowship with Himself.

1.Book Outline. 

Chapter 1:1-3:5. Israel`s Infidelity Illustrated. ch.1:1-3:5.

a. Historical Setting. ch.1:1.

b. Marriage & Hoses`s children. ch.1:2-9.

c. A future day of Hope. ch.1:10-12.

d. Israel, the adulterous

e. The blessing of

f.  Gomer loved again. ch.3:1-3.

g. Israel`s future return to God. ch.3:4-5.

Chapter 4:1-14:9 Israel`s Indictment, Punishment & Restoration.

A.Israel`s Indictement. ch.4:1-7:16.

a. A general indictememnt of the people. ch.4:1-4.

b. Sins of the Priests. ch.4:5-11a.

c. Sins of the people. ch.4:11b-19.

d. A warning to the priests, people & king. ch.5:1-7.

e. A warning to Ephraim & Judah. ch.5:8-15.

f. Words of Repentant Israel. ch.6:1-3.

g. Continued indictement of the people. ch. 6:4-11.

h. A runious domestic policy. ch.7:1-7.

i. A fatal foreign policy. ch.7:8-16.

B. Isreal`s punishment. ch. 8:1-10:15.

a. Warning of approaching judgement. ch.8:1-14.

b. Assyrian captivity soon to come.ch9:1-9.

c. The fleeting glory of Israel. ch.9:10-17.

d. Guilt & coming captivity. ch.10:1-8.

e. Sin & punishment. ch.10:9-15.

C.Israel`s restoration. ch.11:1-14:9.

a. God`s love and Israel`s rebellion. ch.11:1-9.

b. Restoration in the last days. ch.11:8-11.

c. The folly of Israel. ch.11:12-12:14.

d. Isreal`s fall into sin. ch.13: 1-16.

e. Isreal`s repentance and God`s blessing. ch.14:1-9.

2.Historical Background.

The prophet Hosea served God as His special servant during the days preceeding the fall of the Northern kingdom which was ruled by King Jeroboam 2 ( 793-753 B.C.  2 kings 14:23f) ,he was a strong ruler who led his kingdom with a strong hand.

Jeroboam had established the boundaries of the Northeern Kingdom to approximately the same size as the kingdom that was ruled by David and Solomon. So Jeroboam had quite a high degree of influence along the Mediterranean coast line whereas his counterpart Uzziah who was king of the Southern kingdom had also extended his boundaries to the South making Israel and Judah influencial and powerful in that particular region.

Jeroboam 2 became king of the Northern Kingdom, Judah had been cintinually attacked by Assyria to the East and by Syria to the North. Israel has been defeated and humiliated and its armies deplited. According to 2 Kings 13:7 the Israeli armies had been destroyed. The nation began to recover from that state during the reigh of Jerobaom`s father Jehoash.

According to 2 Kings 13:25 Jehoash had defeated the Syrians on three different occasions. Because of this Jeroboam built upon his father`s sucesses, Hosea`s generation knew nothing of the oppression that Jeroboam`s father had to cope with, for they lived at the end of Jeroboam`s reign.

During Hosea`s lifetime he would have enjoyed the safety of a nation at peace, political stability and economic sucess. In  second Chronicles 26:10, there is a picture of abundant provision, every thing seems to be flourishing, building activity flourished and generally people became quite wealthy and wanted for nothing. Hosea 8:14.

The nation was experiencing a deep sense of pride and achievement caused by the very favourable and pleasing conditions. But as always prosperity seldom brings people closer to God, if anything it leads mankind into a sense of self dependance.

This was certainly true if the lifestyle of the Israelities is to be examined, with wealth came laxed moral and wrong societial behaviour. In all societies men and women who simply live to accumulate wealth, more than often cause poverty through their actions.

According to Hosea 12:7, Isaiah 5:8 and Amos 8:5-6, the wealthy became wealthy through dishonest gain, the strong took advantage of the weak, the orphans and widows were oppressed, the legal system only helped those who were able to pay.

So the Isreali society was experiencing economic development at the price of sacrificing their social, moral, just and honest teachings that were past down to them from former generations. Their religious aspirations were not much better. In an earlier generation led by Knig Omri, he introduced Ba`al worship to the children of Israel (1 kings 16:29-33), although 2 KIngs 10:29-28 suggests that Ba`al worship had been done away with, it is certain that there were still traces of  it about and still practices by the children of Israel in their calf worship ceremonies at Bethel and Dan.

This is why Hosea speaks out against idolatry which he refers to as the worship of Ba`al in chapter 2:8, 11:2 and 13:1, it would seem that the children of Israel had many rites of Ba`al worship included in their worship. According to chapter 4:10-18, cult rites such as cult prostitution was still practiced. Images of Asherah were still built as fogul points of worship on many hill tops.(2 kings 17:7-12).

During Amos`s ministry the people had taken little note of his preaching against the sin of Idolatry, now Hosea followed in Amos`s foot steps, speaking out against the evils of that day, he warned them of judgement, if they would not heed God`s message of hope and forgiveness.

Soon after the death of king Jeroboam the 2nd., Israel as a nation began to decline, his sucessor was king Zechariah ( 753 B.C.- 2 Kings 15:8-12), he was killed after reigning for only six months by Shallum who in turn was killed by Menahem after ruling for only 30 days. (2 Kings 15:13-15).

Menahem 752-742 B.C.(2 Kings 15:17-22) ruled for ten years, his son Pekahiah acceded to the throne 720-740 (2 Kings 5:23-26. He in turn was killed by Pekah who reigned for the next twenty years until 732 B.C. (2 Kings 15:27). His reign was marred by the crushing invasion of Tiglah Peleser 111 of Assyria in 733 B.C., then the next Assyrian king Shalmahesser v, crushed Samaria and finally carried away the Isrealite people into captivity and the nation of Isreal was no more.


Hosea was the author of this first book in the series which is best known as the "Minor Prophets", Hosea`s father was Beeri and the first verse of Hosea`s writtings clearly states that Hosea was the author of this precious document. There have been those who have thought that Hosea could not possibly have been the author of this book. Those few critical scholars cast doubt on the authenticity of the two classes of text that they suggest can be seen from the text.

The first criticism that they make has to do with all the passages which refer to Judah ( ch.4:15,5:5,10,12-14, 6:4-11). the critics assume that if Hosea was a citizen of Israel, there would be no reason for him to refer to a neighbouring nation as often as he does.

At the same time some of the critics siggest that not every mention of Judah can be considered as out of order. Their objection is based on dating, but this arguement cannot be substantiated. If they can recieve some of the references to Judah in the book as viable there is no reason to suppose that they should not be able to accept the rest.

Secondly, there is a difference of opinion in liberal and critical circles concerning the make up of the salvation sections.(ch.11:8-11, 14:2-9). the suggestion is made that the tone of those passsages is contrary to the tone of other passages in the book. There is no reason why Hosea shouldnot include those passages of scripture which on the outside seem contrasting and at the same time be part of the one book. 

Some of the book`s fiercest critics seem unable to grasp the very basic fact that the first three chapters of the book sound out the salvation story.(1:10-11, 2:14-23, 3:5) and because of this there is what might seem to be a contrasting message.

There is no doubt that Hosea was called to be a prophet to the Northern Lingdom of Israel. The main part of Hosea`s message is clearly directed toward Israel while he occasionaly makes reference to Judah, he also refers to the ruler in Samaria as "our king" (ch.7:5), also he uses a number of Aramaism sshowing that he is living and serving the Lord in an Aramaic speaking state of Syria which was the Northern neighbour of Israel. So Hosea was a prophet called to the Northern Kingdom at a time of national confusion and strife.

Some critics have questioned Hosea`s writtings especially the dating of his ministry. his ministry can be dated through the list of kings that are found in his writtings. Hosea lists four maun kings of Judah, Uzziah, Jothan, Ahaz and Hezekiah. Only once does he mention a king who ruled in Israel (Jeroboam 11). Many have thought that because of the listing of so many kings from Judah that to suggest that Hosea was a prophet to Israel would be somewhat misguided.

In fact if the list of kings is carefully examined it would seem to indicated that what Hosea is recognising the Davidic line which was ruling in Judah aa the only legitimate one. God`s promise to to David wa sthat his posterity would reign for ever (2 Sam.7:12-13). So the kings of Israel who were not descendants of David or heir to the promises of God are not mentioned.

If the book of Hosea is carefully examined one can see a few factors that help in the dating of the document. Many of the prophecies were not given at the same time. For example, prophecy concerning Hosea`a marriage must have been given to him before Jerobaom the second`s death, for in chapter 1:4 Hosea refered to the coming vengence on the house of Jehu. Jerobaom was a member of the house of Jehu and it is clear that God wanted to bring judgement on this house because of their evil and sin.

That vengence came with the assassination of Jeroboam`s son Zechariah six months after he began to reign. (2 kings 15:8-12). In the writtings of Hosea there are other passages which refer to the deaths and assassinations of other kings as through they had already happened. (ch.7:3,16, 8:4). This can only mean that these passages must have been written after the deaths of those kings who are mentioned in the previous passsages.

As well as this ther are references to Assyria (5:13,8,9,12:1) which point to the time of Menahem, who did not negotiate with Tigla-pileser 111. (2kings 15:19-29). In chapter 7:11, there is a reference to Israel dealing with Egypt and Assyria which would suggest that it was written about the time Egypt was pitted by Israel against Assyria.

Hosea lived until the reign of Hezekiah (728-686 BC) and because he made no reference at all to Samaria`s fall to the Assyrians in 722 BC would indicate that his writtings were completed before that great historical event. There is no doubt that Hosea lived to see the fall of the Northern Kingdom, he makes no mention about being made captive so we can conclude that he remained in the land.

Concerning his subsequent ministry we have no record, it is possible that his ministry lasted from about 753 until 710 BC.If Hosea`s ministry is to be assessed he must be seen as a man who was called to sound tha call to Israel to repent. If repentance was not forth coming then he was to proclaim God`s wrath on the nation.

4.Hosea`s Marriage.

In the first chapter of the book we read that God commands Hosea to marry "an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness." So he married Gomer, who bore him three children, they were called Jezereel, Lo-Ruama and Lo-Ammi. In chapter three, God commands Hosea to love a woman who was an adultress and was cherished by other men.

There are a number of views concerning this strange marriage between the prophet of the most high God and an adulteress.

a. A Hypothetical Marriage.

Some other critics have thought that the story concerning Hosea's marriage to an adulteress woman never really happened historically, they concluded that Hosea had some kind of vision or dream which was given so that Hosea could explain how God actually saw the children of Israel and their unfaithfulness to Him.

This view was held by many medieval Jews.The arguement against a literal historical marriage of a prophet to such a woman is backed up by the teaching of Moses that is found in Lev.21:7 which clearly forbids the marriage of a priest to such a woman. Also the opinion is mutted that the use of symbolic litrature. (1:2,4,6,9).

The suggestion is also made, that if Hosea was to literallry marry such a woman his ministry would never have been taken seriously; also the message that he recieved after the birth of each of his children would have been too far apart in time to be meaningful in relationship one toward the other. If we examine the evidence against such a view there are a number of arguements that seem to have a firm foundation.

Firstly,Hosea's writting style gives no indication of symbolism being intended,also GOMER as part of the God given message is not presented symbolically. We see that the factual materials concerning the background of GOMER would not be needed if the story was only fiction and symbolic.

Gomer is called the daughter of DIBLAIM, which seems very factual and real also read in Hosea's writtings that his wife's last child born immediately after her second child was weaned,it is also mentioned that they had two sons and one daughter coupled with that their names are given. These type of facts that are given relate more to an historical happening as opposed to something that is only symbolic.

b.Literal marriage"GOMER unchaste."

It would seem that GOMER may have been a temple prostitute, there are at least three arguements for this theory.

  1. God's command to Hosea was simple and plain,"Go take yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness". chapter 1:2.
  2. The word of command "take" has not only association with the taking of an adulterous wife but also the taking of children of unfaithfulness.Therefore GOMER must have been a prostitute at the same time in order to have such children.
  3. So far as the ethics of such a marriage is concerned the levitical law which was given by Moses concerned priests and not prophets.

In the first of these arguements the word translated "adulterous woman" is translated from the Hebrew word, ( eset zenunim), if God had intended Hosea to marry a harlot, surely He would have used the word (Zonah) but in fact this word is not used.

It is reasonable to suggest that if (eset znunim) is used describe an adulterous wife so to the children of unfaithfulness must carry a similar meaning.Taking this to its logical conclusion if the "adulter`s wife" has already practiced prostitution,then because the words used to describe GOMER and her children,her children must be seen as those who have committed adultry, but we know from the passage that they were too young for that.

Therefore the term "adulterous wife" must signify a weakness in the children`s character, there may have been a tendency to want an adulterous relationship but it may also  suggest that up until that time Corner had not committed the sin of adultery.

That could also link up with the thought of "children of unfaithfulness", the children could quite easily "inherit the weaknesses of the mother and therefore be classified in a similar way.

In the second arguement we see that GOMER had given birth to three children,then Hosea is commanded to marry her. There is no reason to believe that GOMER was an adulterous
before she married Hosea.There is just no factual evidence to support such a theory.

The third arguement suggests that only priests were prohibited from marrying woman such as GOMER, but to propound this arguement is to totally misunderstand the Holiness of God. It is sure that "YAHWEH "would not let any of His children into such a relationship.In fact that would be to suscribe sin to the hand of God.

God sanctioned marriage as some Holy and sacred and so this arguement falls to pieces the light of the Biblical teaching concerning the Holiness of the Almighty. Another view that is commonly held is that the book of Hosea especially this section concerning (eset znunim) or an "adulterous wife" is really describing spiritual adultry of Isreal as opposed to something  physical. Gomer became unchaste because she gave alligence to false gods and so in a word she became a spiritual adultress in relationship to the word of God.This view bye-passes the ethical difficulties.

On the other hand we still have to come to the point of realisation that God ordered Hosea to marry an adulterous woman, (eset zenunim) ,and this word cannot be translated Spiritual Adultry.

The conclusion that any logical thinker must come to with regard to the facts contained in this book is that here we have a literal marriage which has an historical foundation. Hosea the prophet actually married COMER the adulterous. The view that Gomer was chaste before her marriage to Hosea is possible, it would seem that sometime after their marriage she entered into an adulterous relationship with another man.This is the interpretation which seems to be generally accepted.

Some have argued that for them to produce three children and for Gomer to part company from Hosea,then for Hosea to be reunited to her would in fact take a long  period of time. On the other hand 7-8 years might be enough for all of these things to happen.Which ever arguement is true,God spoke deeply into Hosea's heart so that his ministry became very effective.


The centeral theme in this book concerns God's promises and covenants to Isreal which infact were comepletely ignored by them.Those covenant promises were originally given to Moses on mount Sinai.

The covenants and promises of God were an expression of His love to Israel but the children of Isreal failed to see this and they fell away and lived in Idolatry and sin. In Hosea's ministry, he continually described Isreal`s sin (4:129:l9,6:4-l1) also he highlighted the love and patience of God toward Isreal (11:1-4,14:1-9) also God's willingness to recieve Israel back again is an important part of the teaching of' this book.

Hosea's adulterous wife is used as an example of sreal's adulterous ways toward God.The prophet also reveals that God`s patience will at some time come to an end and Israel will be judged, that judgement would be carried out in the form of an invading nation's victory over the Israeli forces. (Ch.4:3, 5: 1-15).

There is also a note of hope and consolation for Israel if she repents from her evil ways (6:1-3).So Hosea's theology built around inter related themes.

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