Hosea’s Israel

The following is a snapshot of Isreal in Hosea’s times:

Economically a great change had taken place during the reign of Jeroboam II (785-745 B.C.). The cities had grown in wealth and fostered a small class of rich landowners, merchants, and creditors.        Now this type of class can only rise if PEACE is a preexisting condition.  However, the vast majority of the urban population was made up of poor artisans, craftsmen, and laborers who were frequently exploited or even enslaved by the rich. In the country indigent farmers were often compelled to sell their holdings to the rich and migrate to the cities. The upper classes were favored by the rulers and judges.

Religiously, during Hosea’s lifetime, the kings of the Northern Kingdom, their aristocratic supporters, and the priests had led the people away from the Law of God, as given in the Pentateuch.  It is thought that they readily adopted the ways of their neighbors and worshiped their neighbors’ gods in place of the God of Israel. For this reason Hosea denounced idolatry as the “spirit of harlotry.”  Forsaking the worship of God, they worshipped other gods, especially Baal, the Canaanite fertility god. Homicide, perjury, theft, and sexual sin were prevalent.

Politically, too, the times were turbulent. Tiglathpileser III of Assyria threatened the Northern kingdom. Internally, vast dynastic changes were taking place despite the external danger. In 2 decades, six kings ascended the throne of Israel. In this state of political chaos the rulers of Israel and Judea made alliances, at times with Assyria and at other times with its powerful rival, Egypt. In 722 B.C. the Northern Kingdom of Israel came to an end and passed out of history.  Assyria captured Samaria, the capital of the Northern Kingdom, in 722 BC. All the members of the upper classes and many of the ordinary people were taken captive and carried off to live as prisoners of war.

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