Hosea 1 − Commentary

1 This is the message of the Lord that came to Hosea, the son of Beeri. This message came when Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah were kings of Judah. This was during the time of Jeroboam, son of Joash, who was king of Israel.

Hosea's Wife and Children

2 The Lord began to speak to Israel through Hosea. The Lord said to Hosea, 'Go, and marry a prostitute. I want you to have children by her. The children will be like her. In the same way, my people have left me and have been guilty of terrible adultery'. 3 So Hosea married a woman called Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim. After this, a child began to grow in her and she gave birth to their first child, a son. 4 The Lord said to Hosea, "Give him the name of 'Jezreel'. This is because I will soon punish the family of Jehu. I will punish them because of the people that Jehu murdered at Jezreel. Then I will put an end to the nation of Israel. 5 And in the Valley of Jezreel I will at that time completely destroy the armies of Israel".

6 Gomer had a second child − this time it was a daughter. The Lord said to Hosea, 'Call her Lo-Ruhamah. This is because I will not show love to the people of Israel any more. I will not forget their sins. 7 But I will show love to the people of Judah. I, the Lord, will save them. I will not do it by war. I will not use swords or bows and arrows. I will not use horses and people who ride horses'.

8 After Gomer had looked after Lo-Ruhamah, a child began to grow in Gomer again. She gave birth to a son. 9 Then the Lord said to Hosea, 'Call him Lo-Ammi. This is because the people of Israel are not my people, and I am not their God'.

Everything in the book of Hosea is a message from God. God had the message in his mind before he gave it. Hosea did not give his own thoughts. He repeated the message that God had for Israel. The name 'Hosea' is like 'Joshua'. It means 'God is our Saviour'.

The book has dates that give the kings of Judah. Some people may ask why it does. The book only mentions one king (Jeroboam) from Israel. This is because the message is to both Israel and Judah. The end of Israel is near, but soon the end will come to Judah too. It is possible that 1:2-9 describes things that happened to Hosea at the beginning of his work as a prophet. It would take five or six years for all the things that are in these verses to happen.

God told Hosea to marry a woman. He knew that she would become a prostitute. Then his experiences would become a parable that he would act out in his life. This is because worshipping idols is like going to a prostitute. The woman gave birth to three children. Perhaps the marriage was between 752 and 750 BC. This was before Jeroboam 2nd died between 747 and 745 BC.

The names of the children each have a special meaning. They are a way for God to speak to Israel. The names show that another nation will destroy the people of Israel. Hosea does not have any choice about his marriage. Later, Hosea uses the word ' prostitutes' in 4:12 and 5:4. He means that Israel behaves like a prostitute. Gomer's children are part of a bad nation. Hosea does not suggest that Gomer gave birth to the children before she married Hosea. Jezreel, who was born first, was Hosea's son. But it is possible that Hosea was not the father of the next two children. We cannot be sure because the book does not mention him as the father.

The name Lo-Ruhamah means 'Not Pitied' or 'Not Loved'. God will no longer care about the needs of his people even if they depend on God for everything. Israel's enemies will defeat her. But God will have mercy on Judah because they were more faithful to him.

The name Lo-Ammi means 'Not My people'. God says that his covenant with Israel is over. In the future, he will destroy Israel.

The name Jezreel means 'God sows'. Perhaps the name was to make people remember an event in the past. This was when Jehu killed the group of Omri kings at Jezreel. The Jehu group of kings ended with the death of Zechariah in 752 BC. This showed that God would bring an end to Israel too. The name Lo-Ammi shows that there is no mistake about what God thinks about Israel.

It was God who gave these names to Gomer's children. These names will show what will happen to Judah and Israel in the future. God controls the direction of both Judah and Israel. This is because they are his people. The nation of Israel ended because God gave a judgement on the people. This was because of their sin. Hosea explains this again later in the book. But God will have mercy on Judah because they were still God's covenant people.

God will Make Israel a Better Place Again

10 In the future, the number of the people of Israel will be like the sand that is next to the sea. You cannot measure the sand or count it. Now God says to Israel, 'You are not my people'. But the day will come when he will say to them, 'You are the children of the living God'! 11 The people of Judah and the people of Israel will unite again. They will choose for themselves a single leader. Their nation will grow and do well in their land. The day of Jezreel will be a great day.