- The name Hosea means “he has helped” or "he has saved.”
- He was the son of Beeri, meaning “my well.”
- There is no other biblical information about Hosea or his family apart from this book.
- His name cannot be linked to any geographic area. Scholars assume he lived in Samaria, capital of the northern kingdom.
- He began his prophetic ministry before the death of Jeroboam II.
- He might have preached for 30-40 years.
- Scholars don’t know if he was active in 722 BCE, when Israel fell to Assyria.
- There is no reaction from Hosea about being told to marry a woman of harlotry.
- Hosea’s wife’s name was Gomer.
- Gomer was the daughter of Diblaim, of whom nothing is known other than that the name is possibly of foreign origin.
- There is no way of knowing whether Gomer was already a common prostitute, a temple prostitute, or if she became a prostitute after they were married. What is known is that Hosea was obedient, and he entered into a legal marriage with her.
- Immediately they had a son.
- God named the son, Jezreel. It means, “God sows,” but it represents the place where much blood had been shed. Jezebel had Naboth murdered in Jezreel. Jehu slew Joram and brought an end to the Omri dynasty in Jezreel. The Valley of Jezreel was synonymous with bloodshed.
- Hosea interpreted his son’s name to indicate it would only be a short time before that bloodshed would be visited upon Israel. (This actually happened. Within six months after the death of Jeroboam II, his son was assassinated, thus bringing the Jehu dynasty to an end. See 2 Kings 15:8-12)
- Hosea’s second child was a daughter.
- God named her “Not Pitied” because he would no longer show mercy to Israel.
- The third child was another son.
- God named him “Not my People” to indicate he had severed all obligations to the nation. (It would be interesting to know how these children were treated, considering their unusual names!)
- “You are not my people; and I am not yours,” indicated the end of the relationship between God and his people in Hosea’s day. It was not intended to be a permanent end to the relationship between God and the Israelites, based on the promises made to Abraham.
- The fact that Hosea’s three children speak to their “brothers and sisters” might indicate that Gomer had additional children.
- In the book, these three children act as mediators (metaphorically speaking) between God and the nation, pleading with them to put away their fornications.
- Hosea’s words, “you are not my wife, and I am not your husband,” constitute a formal divorce.
- Divorce, however, is not the main issue. The scene is meant to be corrective; he still loves her. But the adultery must stop. (Interestingly, the punishment for adultery was stoning. This is never mentioned, possibly because it does not work within the metaphor for Israel.)
- It was a husband’s duty to provide clothing for his wife. The threat of rendering her naked indicates he has revoked her marital rights.
- Nakedness symbolizes extreme want and shame. For a nation to be naked suggests their basic needs will not be met and that they will perish. (Israel did perish in 722.)
- Taking away material benefits and punishing for wrongdoing were attempts to get Gomer (and Israel) to return. (Whenever things got tough, the nation did return, but it was out of greed, not repentance. Nonetheless, the Lord spoke to their hearts and they did respond.)
- Upon their return, a new marriage (new covenant) would take place.
- Then the names of Hosea’s three children would be dramatically overturned.
- In the meantime, Gomer left Hosea for another man.
- God instructed Hosea to “go and love” her, despite her unfaithfulness. (Allegory for God loving Israel despite their going after other gods.) (Some scholars think this was a second wife, since Gomer is not named.)
- Hosea had to buy her back from her lover – fifteen shekels and a “homer and lethech” of barley (suggests considerable haggling to get her back). A homer was about eleven bushels; a lethech was about five and a half bushels. Barley was not as valuable as wheat and often used as feed in times of plenty. The fact that Hosea paid in barley probably indicates he was not a wealthy man.
- Gomer was to dwell with him for many days, and not to engage in any more promiscuous activity.
- Just as Gomer let go of her lovers, so Israel will let go of their idolatry.
- There are many additional family images throughout Hosea’s message.
- Hosea sees sin not as disobedience to God’s commands, but as an affront to God’s love.
- The covenant was rooted in God’s love for his people (just like a marriage).
- Despite the glaring words of death and destruction, Hosea ended his message with a whisper, as he pleaded for Israel to return to God, who waits with open arms.
- There is no information regarding the death of Hosea.
Achtemeier, Elizabeth. "Minor Prophets I." New International Biblical Commentary. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1996.
Craigie, Peter. "Twelve Prophets." Daily Study Bible Series. Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press, 1984.
Davies, G.I. "Hosea." The New Century Bible Commentary. Sheffield, England: Sheffield Academic Press, 1992.
Stuart, Douglas. "Hosea-Jonah." Word Biblical Commentary. Dallas, TX: Word Books, 1987.
Wolff, Hans Walter. "Hosea." Hermeneia. Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press. Translated by Gary Stansell, 1974.