Hosea, the first and longest of the minor prophets, is also perhaps one of the most controversial. Hosea depicts the relationship between the Lord and Israel as that between a man and his unfaithful, adulterous wife. In order to make this image vivid, the Lord commands Hosea to marry Gomer who is a prostitute. Can there be any more disturbing picture?
Author and Date
Hosea’s ministry begins in the north, and then moves to the south after Assyria takes the northern tribes captive in 722 B.C. Thus, his overall ministry spanned from about 752-720 B.C.
- Israel’s Adultery Dramatized (1-3)
- Israel’s Adultery Detailed (4-14)
Hosea pictures the spiritual demise of Israel by comparing idolatry to adultery. After Hosea and Gomer are married, they have a child, and then Gomer runs back to prostitution. Hosea must go and buy her back. The Lord compares Gomer’s unfaithfulness to a marriage covenant as the same as Israel’s unfaithfulness to him as God. The Lord is to be their one and only God. Therefore, when the people worship other gods, they are breaking the covenant God made with them in Exodus 20-23.
A second theme in Hosea is scattering and sowing. In Hebrew the same word means both to scatter and to sow seed (jezreel). The Lord promises to scatter the people in judgment for their idolatry (1:4-5). Yet, he also promises a day when he will sow them in the promised land (3:21-23). That is, they will never again be rooted out by another nation.