The Book of Hosea is in the old testament of the Bible. It is the first in order among what are known as the twelve Minor Prophets.
The book has a long history of formation and transmission. Much of the material, in oral form, goes back to Hosea himself. The collection of sayings and individual accounts, however, was probably done in Judah at a much later date.
The first chapter of Hosea gives a detailed description of Hosea’s family life. Hosea was directed by God to marry a prostitute, who is Gomer. Next, we hear of the couple’s children and God’s commands for their names. Again, it is questionable whether the second son or daughter born to Gomer were Hosea’s.
Chapter 2 describes a divorce.
In Chapter 3, at God’s command, Hosea seeks out Gomer once more and must buy her back, either she has sold herself into slavery for debt, or she is with a lover who demands money in order to give her up. We do not know for sure. The main and VERY IMPORTANT POINT here is that Hosea takes her back at a cost to himself. Even after this, a shallow repentance by Gomer for her actions is depicted. DOES THIS SOUND FAMILIAR?
Chapters 4-14 then go on to spell out the allegory at length in the following format:
Chapters 1-3 speaks of Hosea’s family, and the issues with Gomer.
Chapters 4-10 contain a series of oracles, or prophetic sermons, showing exactly why God is rejecting the Northern Kingdom (what the grounds are for the divorce).
Chapter 11 is God’s lament over the necessity of giving up the Northern Kingdom, which is a large part of the people of Israel, However, God promises not to give them up entirely.
– DOES GOD EVER GIVE UP? This is a very important question that Hosea is taking great lengths to clear up. Again, DOES GOD EVER GIVE UP on US? THE WORLD? YOUR ENEMIES?
In Chapter 12, the prophet pleads for Israel’s repentance.
Chapter 13 foretells the destruction of the kingdom at the hands of Assyria, because there has been no repentance.
In Chapter 14, the prophet urges Israel to seek forgiveness, and promises its restoration, while at the same time urging the utmost fidelity to God.
The entirety of the Book of Hosea can best be described as a DRAMATIC CALL TO REPENTANCE.
With all of this in mind, we will now begin with the text of Hosea.