Hosea (active 750-722 B.C.) was the first of the twelve Minor Prophets of the kingdom of Israel. He called on the people to repent its sins of apostasy and warned of the judgment to come from God around the fall of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. His writings form the first of the Old Testament books of these Minor Prophets.
Hosea was the son of Beeri and apparently belonged to the upper classes whom God uses to portray a message of repentance to his people.
Hosea denounces the worship of gods other than Jehovah, metaphorically comparing Israel's abandonment of Jehovah to a woman being unfaithful to her husband. Most references in the Bible to adultery are about this type of national adultery.
Hosea's unfaithful wife Gomer becomes a metaphor for the relationship of Yahweh and his unfaithful people, Israel, and the eventual reconciliation of Hosea and Gomer is treated as a prophecy for the eventual reconciliation between Yahweh and Israel. The apostasy of the people, having turned away from God, and served both the calves of Jeroboam (Hosea 8:4-6) and Baal(Hosea 2), which would then include becoming subject to a Canaanite god who loved to oppress the people.
Context of the Testament
To understand these ideas of serving calves you need to understand what the golden calf was and how it would bring in the nature of a Canaanite god relationship. The Asuras of northern India centuries before and the Canaanite are of the same ilk, for the words both mean merchants, traffickers e.g. commerce. The tav was a door to Abraham but the Asuras and and Canaanite type social systems, like the Corban of the Pharisees, blocked the way of faith and makes the word of God to none effect. The traveling merchants of the earth in Revelation 18 includes "slaves, and souls of men". Their tactics and systems makes men merchandise according to Peter and even curse children making them a surety for debt. The New Testament gives us many warnings about being again entangle in a yoke of bondage.
Scholars are often at odds with one another because they are less than honest in their interpretations of Hosea and Gomer's relationship. The Targum of the Minor Prophets uses the imagery of harlots and adultery but does not mention Gomer nor the marriage. The school of thought coming from Antioch and writers like Eusebius treated Gomer's adultery as literal. While, Cyril of Alexandria fueled the debate by taking the literal approach, generally Alexandrian school of thought pressed the metaphor and the allegory as confirmed by Origen and Jerome. Jerome, as usual, seemed to attempt to mediate between these two schools of thought.
Some will argue the proleptic approach that Gomer was sexually pure before marrying Hosea but by Christ's own words adultery is an act of the heart and who is truly pure without being filled with the Holy Spirit.
Again, most of the mention of adultery in the Bible is national adultery not sexual. The metaphor of adultery as spiritual unfaithfulness and for idolatry  is common in the Testaments. Even Peter tells us that we will commit that form of adultery with our own covetous practices.
Could God as the great designer and maker of prophets designed the allegorical nature of Hosea's own life to prepare him for the task that was to come? Could the scholars be wrong and right with their endless vain arguments but never becoming aware of the whole truth?
Hosea was not always an old and wise prophet. He was a young man and made choices based on limited knowledge and understanding. But God sees a man in time and knows what is the wisest steps he can and is willing to take. Gomer may not have always been a harlot and may have only been a harlot in her heart. God designed as as man and woman not just as a whim but because all the lessons of life can be learned in the realm and challenges of that relationship.
Even though the people thought that they knew the truth and maybe even believed they were still faithful Hosea would make it clear that they were not.
Hosea was burdened with telling the people that they were under a strong delusion. Because the people commonly want to think they were faithful while they are actually workers of iniquity Hosea uses his own life to break the ice rather than merely attacking the delusion of the people.
As a prophet he would know that the great battle of mankind between forgiveness and hate, mercy and judgment, begin with the individual like repentance is the changing of one mind at a time.
“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” ~ Leo Tolstoy
The lessons that Hosea would bring to the nation first had to be learned within his own heart. Our curses may become our blessings if we learn the forgiveness and patience of Christ.
Many of the debates of scholars are the result of the fact they refuse to see the consistent messages of the prophets and their own unfaithfulness in their life responses to the clear messages of both Old and New testaments.
The book as a biography of Hosea is irrelevant but meant to carry a message as his life is an allegory of hope in the face of certain error and condemnation. If we do not understand the metaphor of altars of clay and stone, the purpose of the golden calf and why it is contrary to the wisdom and way of God, the national wisdom of the sacrifice of the Red Heifer.
The messages of the testaments about the government and the way of God should lead the people away from depends upon a central governmental power from they constitutional advise in Deuteronomy 17 to 1 Samuel 8 we see God prophecy the fate of a nation when the people choose to have a king or executive power centralized in a ruler or ruling class. Clearly the people will become subject and the government they create will take and take and take until the people cry out but the culmination is that God will not hear their cries.
The first three chapters of Hosea opens the door to a allegorical approach expressing the power of God's creating force in an analogy between Hosea and his family and the nation of Israel. The metaphor of the strange command given to Hosea was its symbolism expressing the cause and effect with in a nation and eventually the hope when they come to repentance.
Outline of the Book of Hosea
- Chapters 1–2; Account of Hosea's marriage with Gomer biographically which is a metaphor for the relationship with YHWH and Israel.
- Chapter 3; Account of Hosea's marriage autobiographically. This is possibly a marriage to different women
- Chapters 4–14:9/14:10; Oracle judging Israel, Ephraim in particular, for not living up to the covenant.
Early non Bible authors
Athenagoras of Athens | Methodius of Olympus | The Gospel of Thomas |
Hippolytus of Rome | Justin the Martyr | Jerome | Augustine of Hippo |
Epistle of Mathetes |
Philo Judaeus or Philo of Alexandria and The Allegories of the Sacred Laws
People in the Bible
Paul the Apostle | Melchizedek | Moses | Cain | Caesar | Herod | Jesus |
John the Baptist | Nimrod | Abraham | Essenes |
Buddha | Celsus | Constantine | Eusebius | Marcus Tullius Cicero | Augustine of Canterbury |
Ambrose | Lady Godiva | Plutarch | Polybius | Seneca | Tacitus | Vespian | Manichaeism | John Wycliffe |
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“To know the world, first know yourself. To change the world, first change yourself.” ~ Anonymous
“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
- Hosea 12:7 ¶ [He is] a merchant, the balances of deceit [are] in his hand: he loveth to oppress.
- Galatians 5:1 ¶ Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
- The Targum of the Minor Prophets, Kevin Catchart, (Wilmington: Michael Glazier, 1989),29.
- Matthew 5:28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
- Leviticus 17:7, 20:5, Numbers 15:39, Judges 2:17, 1 Chronicles 5:25
- Exodus 14:15-16, Judges 8:27, 33, 2 Chronicles 21:11-13).
- 2 Peter 2:14 Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children:
- 2 Timothy 3:7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
- Matthew 19:4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made [them] at the beginning made them male and female,
- Hosea 4:1 ¶ Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because [there is] no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.