Reading Hosea.1

by admin on November 16, 2014

Reflections for 2 November 2014
Hosea 1:1-11

Hosea is first in the book of Minor Prophets. The Twelve.

The Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach (2nd Cent BCE apocryphal book)
“May the bones of the twelve prophets//revive from where they lie,
For they comforted the people of Jacob//and delivered them with confident hope.”

Hosea was prophet to Israel in mid-8th Century BCE. He stood against the policies of King Jeroboam ben Joash (786-746). Hosea’s criticism focused on alliance with Assyrian Empire which began in reign of King Jehu ben Nimshi, who was Jeroboam’s great-grandfather. (842-815). Jehu came to power in a coup against King Omri, supported by both Elijah and Elisha (1Kings 19; 2 Kings 9-10).

Israel’s alliance with Assyria throughout Jehu’s dynasty played key role in ensuring Israel’s power and prosperity. (She was puppet kingdom for the super power Assyrians) Earlier Israel’s political aspirations (economic, too) were aligned with kingdom of Aram but shifted as political fortunes moved towards Assyria.

With the assassination of Jeroboam’s son, Zechariah, in 746, Israel shifted back to Aram (2 Kings 15-20; Isaiah 7-8). Upshot Assyria destroyed both Aram and Israel, 734 and 721, respectively.

Hosea was heavily involved in debate concerning Israel’s future and he severely criticized Jeroboam’s alliance with Assyria. He viewed this political alliance as a definitive rejection of Yahweh and argued that Israel’s relationship with Assyria and their other trading partner, Egypt, should be viewed as idolatry. Hosea indicted both eh priestly class and monarchy by failing to teach the true knowledge of God.

Hosea as prophet uses his own marriage to Gomer bat Diblaim as symbol of Israel’s abandonment of Yahweh in the pursuit of other gods. He portrays his kids as symbols of the broken relationship between Yahweh and Israel.

Frist son is Jezreel site where Jehu killed Joram ben Ahab and his mother Jezebel. (2 Kings 9).

Daughter Lo Ruhamah No Mercy Yahweh’s lack of mercy for Israel.

Second son Lo Ammi Not my People Yahweh’s rejection of Israel.

Hosea charges of adultery against Gomer draws on the Canaanite tradition of rain god Baal who marries Astarte and ensures the fertility of the earth/creation. Hosea argues for an alternative narrative that Yahweh is Lord of creation and that Israel must return to her god is she wants a future. In addition, politically, Hosea asserts that relationship with Aram is more beneficial.

Hosea bolsters his argument by appealing to Exodus narrative (as foundational) and Jacob’s close association with Aram where he marries Rachel.

1:1 Superscription: historical context. Israelite king: Jeroboam (786-746).
Judean kings: Uzziah (783-742); Jotham (742-735); Ahaz (735-715); Hezekiah (715-686).
These references to Judean kings suggest that Hosea may have fled Israel and completed his prophetic oracles / book in Judah.

Major body of the book Appeal for Israel’s return to Yahweh.

Vv1-11 ⇒ Narrator’s report of Gods instructions to Hosea to marry a harlot and give their children symbolic names.

Hosea’s speeches: 2:1-14:8.
2:1-3:5 Hosea’s appeal to his children for their mother’s return
4:1-19 Yahweh’s charge against Israel: she has abandoned me.
5:1-13:16 Specification of the charges.
14:1-8 Appeal for Israel’s return.
14:9 Concluding exhortation concerning God’s righteousness.

• Historical context. Yahweh is at work in the historical movement of real people. Intimately involved in human events.

• Imagination. Marriage as metaphor passion, intimacy. Husband-wife; Parent-rebelling child.
Other pictures in Hosea: farmer, hiker, bird catcher, physician, bear robber of her cubs

• Emotion. Because of his own heart wrenching experience with his family, Hosea is able to describe the anguish in the heart of God like no other Old Testament prophet. Abraham Heschel: Amos dwells on what God has done….Hosea dwells on what God has felt for Israel. The pain in the heart of God is like a parent who has invested decades in child rearing only to have that kid turn out to be a rebel.

Alternative Narrative. To inspire hope one must have, articulate and believe in the truth of another view of reality.


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