Hosea is supposed to have been of the kingdom of Israel. He lived and prophesied during a long period. The scope of his predictions appears to be, to detect, reprove, and convince the Jewish nation in general, and the Israelites in particular, of their many sins, particularly their idolatry: the corrupt state of the kingdom is also noticed. But he invites them to repentance, with promises of mercy, and gospel predictions of the future restoration of the Israelites and of the Jews, and their final conversion to Christianity.
Under a figure, is represented the shameful idolatry of the ten tribes. (1-7) The calling of the Gentiles, and the uniting Israel and Judah under the Messiah. (8-11)
Verses 1-7 Israel was prosperous, yet then Hosea boldly tells them of their sins, and foretells their destruction. Men are not to be flattered in sinful ways because they prosper in the world; nor will it last long if they go on still in their trespasses. The prophet must show Israel their sin; show it to be exceedingly hateful. Their idolatry is the sin they are here charged with. Giving that glory to any creature which is due to God alone, is an injury and affront to God; such as for a wife to take a stranger, is to her husband. The Lord, doubtless, had good reasons for giving such a command to the prophet; it would form an affecting picture of the Lord's unmerited goodness and unwearied patience, and of the perverseness and ingratitude of Israel. We should be broken and wearied with half that perverseness from others, with which we try the patience and grieve the Spirit of our God. Let us also be ready to bear any cross the Lord appoints. The prophet must show the ruin of the people, in the names given to his children. He foretells the fall of the royal family in the name of his first child: call his name Jezreel, which signifies "dispersion." He foretells God's abandoning the nation in the name of the second child; Lo-ruhamah, "not beloved," or "not having obtained mercy." God showed great mercy, but Israel abused his favours. Sin turns away the mercy of God, even from Israel, his own professing people. If pardoning mercy is denied, no other mercy can be expected. Though some, through unbelief, are broken off, yet God will have a church in this world till the end of time. Our salvation is owing to God's mercy, not to any merit of our own. That salvation is sure, of which he is the Author; and if he will work, none shall hinder.
Verses 8-11 The rejection of Israel for a time, is signified by the name of another child: call him Lo-ammi, "not my people." The Lord disowns all relation to them. We love him, because he first loved us; but our being cast out of covenant, is owing to ourselves and our folly. Mercy is remembered in the midst of wrath; the rejection, as it shall not be total, so it shall not be final. The same hand that wounded, is stretched forth to heal. Very precious promises are here given concerning the Israel of God, and they may be of use to us now. Some think that these promises will not have accomplishment in full, till the general conversion of the Jews in the latter days. Also this promise is applied to the gospel, and the bringing in both the Jews and Gentiles to it, by St. Paul, ( romans 9:25 romans 9:26 ) , and by St. ( 1 Peter. 2:10 ) Head, and willingly to commit ourselves to his guidance and government. And let us pray for the coming of the glorious day, when there shall be one Lord through all the earth.
Hosea 1:1-11 . INSCRIPTION.
Spiritual whoredom of Israel set forth by symbolical acts; Gomer taken to wife at God's command: Jezreel, Lo-ruhamah, and Lo-Ammi, the children. Yet a promise of Judah and Israel's restoration.
1. The word of the Lord that came unto Hosea--See
Jeroboam--the second; who died in the fifteenth year of Uzziah's forty-one years' reign. From his time forth all Israel's kings worshipped false gods: Zachariah ( 2 Kings 15:9 ), Menahem ( 2 Kings 15:18 ), Pekahiah ( 2 Kings 15:24 ), Pekah ( 2 Kings 15:28 ), Hoshea ( 2 Kings 17:2 ). As Israel was most flourishing externally under Jeroboam II, who recovered the possessions seized on by Syria, Hosea's prophecy of its downfall at that time was the more striking as it could not have been foreseen by mere human sagacity. Jonah the prophet had promised success to Jeroboam II from God, not for the king's merit, but from God's mercy to Israel; so the coast of Israel was restored by Jeroboam II from the entering of Hamath to the sea of the plain ( 2 Kings 14:23-27 ).
2. beginning--not of the prophet's predictions generally, but of those spoken by Hosea.
take . . . wife of whoredoms--not externally acted, but internally and in vision, as a pictorial illustration of Israel's unfaithfulness [HENGSTENBERG]. Compare Ezekiel 16:8 Ezekiel 16:15 , &c. Besides the loathsomeness of such a marriage, if an external act, it would require years for the birth of three children, which would weaken the symbol (compare Ezekiel 4:4 ). HENDERSON objects that there is no hint of the transaction being fictitious: Gomer fell into lewdness after her union with Hosea, not before; for thus only she was a fit symbol of Israel, who lapsed into spiritual whoredom after the marriage contract with God on Sinai, and made even before at the call of the patriarchs of Israel. Gomer is called "a wife of whoredoms," anticipatively.
children of whoredoms--The kingdom collectively is viewed as a mother; the individual subjects of it are spoken of as her children. "Take" being applied to both implies that they refer to the same thing viewed under different aspects. The "children" were not the prophet's own, but born of adultery, and presented to him as his [KITTO, Biblical Cyclopædia]. Rather, "children of whoredoms" means that the children, like their mother, fell into spiritual fornication. Compare "bare him a son" (see Hosea 2:4 Hosea 2:5 ). Being children of a spiritual whore, they naturally fell into her whorish ways.
3. Gomer . . . daughter of Diblaim--symbolical names; literally, "completion, daughter of grape cakes"; the dual expressing the double layers in which these dainties were baked. So, one completely given up to sensuality. MAURER explains "Gomer" as literally, "a burning coal." Compare Proverbs 6:27 Proverbs 6:29 , as to an adulteress; Job 31:9 Job 31:12 .
4. Jezreel--that is, "God will scatter" (compare Zechariah 10:9 ). It was the royal city of Ahab and his successors, in the tribe of Issachar. Here Jehu exercised his greatest cruelties ( 2 Kings 9:16 2 Kings 9:25 2 Kings 9:33 , 2 Kings 10:11 2 Kings 10:14 2 Kings 10:17 ). There is in the name an allusion to "Israel" by a play of letters and sounds.
5. bow--the prowess ( Jeremiah 49:35 ; compare Genesis 49:24 ).
valley of Jezreel--afterwards called Esdraelon, extending ten miles in breadth, and in length from Jordan to the Mediterranean near Mount Carmel, the great battlefield of Palestine ( Judges 6:33 , 1 Samuel 29:1 ).
6. Lo-ruhamah--that is, "not an object of mercy or gracious favor."
take . . . away--Israel, as a kingdom, was never restored from Assyria, as Judah was from Babylon after seventy years. MAURER translates according to the primary meaning, "No more will I have mercy on the house of Israel, so as to pardon them."
7. Judah is only incidentally mentioned to form a contrast to Israel.
by the Lord their God--more emphatic than "by Myself"; by that Jehovah (Me) whom they worship as their God, whereas ye despise Him.
not . . . by bow--on which ye Israelites rely ( Hosea 1:5 , "the bow of Israel"); Jeroboam II was famous as a warrior ( 2 Kings 14:25 ). Yet it was not by their warlike power Jehovah would save Judah ( 1 Samuel 17:47 , Psalms 20:7 ). The deliverance of Jerusalem from Sennacherib ( 2 Kings 19:35 ), and the restoration from Babylon, are herein predicted.
8. weaned--said to complete the symbolical picture, not having any special signification as to Israel [HENDERSON]. Israel was bereft of all the privileges which were as needful to them as milk is to infants (compare Psalms 131:2 , 1 Peter 2:2 ) [VATABLUS]. Israel was not suddenly, but gradually cast off; God bore with them with long-suffering, until they were incurable [CALVIN]. But as it is not God, but Gomer who weans Lo-ruhamah, the weaning may imply the lust of Gomer, who was hardly weaned when she is again pregnant [MANGER].
9. Lo-Ammi--once "My people," but henceforth not so ( Ezekiel 16:8 ). The intervals between the marriage and the successive births of the three children, imply that three successive generations are intended. Jezreel, the first child, represents the dynasty of Jeroboam I and his successors, ending with Jehu's shedding the blood of Jeroboam's line in Jezreel; it was there that Jezebel was slain, in vengeance for Naboth's blood shed in the same Jezreel ( 1 Kings 16:1 , 2 Kings 9:21 2 Kings 9:30 ). The scenes of Jezreel were to be enacted over again on Jehu's degenerate race. At Jezreel Assyria routed Israel [JEROME]. The child's name associates past sins, intermediate punishments, and final overthrow. Lo-ruhamah ("not pitied"), the second child, is a daughter, representing the effeminate period which followed the overthrow of the first dynasty, when Israel was at once abject and impious. Lo-Ammi ("not my people"), the third child, a son, represents the vigorous dynasty ( 2 Kings 14:25 ) of Jeroboam II; but, as prosperity did not bring with it revived piety, they were still not God's people.
10. Literally fulfilled in part at the return from Babylon, in which many Israelites joined with Judah. Spiritually, the believing seed of Jacob or Israel, Gentiles as well as Jews, numerous "as the sand" ( Genesis 32:12 ); the Gentiles, once not God's people, becoming His "sons" ( John 1:12 , Romans 9:25 Romans 9:26 , 1 Peter 2:10 , 1 John 3:1 ). To be fulfilled in its literal fulness hereafter in Israel's restoration ( Romans 11:26 ).
the living God--opposed to their dead idols.
11. Judah . . . Israel . . . together--( Isaiah 11:12 Isaiah 11:13 , Jeremiah 3:18 , Ezekiel 34:23 , 37:16-24 ).
one head--Zerubbabel typically; Christ antitypically, under whom alone Israel and Judah are joined, the "Head" of the Church ( Ephesians 1:22 , 5:23 ), and of the hereafter united kingdom of Judah and Israel ( Jeremiah 34:5 Jeremiah 34:6 , Ezekiel 34:23 ). Though "appointed" by the Father ( Psalms 2:6 ), Christ is in another sense "appointed" as their Head by His people, when they accept and embrace Him as such.
out of the land--of the Gentiles among whom they sojourn.
the day of Jezreel--"The day of one" is the time of God's special visitation of him, either in wrath or in mercy. Here "Jezreel" is in a different sense from that in Hosea 1:4 , "God will sow," not "God will scatter"; they shall be the seed of God, planted by God again in their own land ( Jeremiah 24:6 , 31:28 , 32:41 , Amos 9:15 ).