Monday, April 11, 2011

Hosea 1: 1-5

Hosea's Wife and Children
1The word of the LORD which came to Hosea the son of Beeri, during the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and during the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel.

2When the LORD first spoke through Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea, "Go, take to yourself a wife of harlotry and have children of harlotry; for the land commits flagrant harlotry, forsaking the LORD."

3So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.

4And the LORD said to him, "Name him Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will punish the house of Jehu for the bloodshed of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel.

5"On that day I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel."

I'm so excited to be starting this book with you today! If you have read writing on my family blog, you know that I am a huge fan of analogies--reading them, creating them, etc. That God would see fit to use a couple's life as a real-life analogy for part of the story of Israel just has me fascinated and riveted. I hope you will agree, and that you will see and understand better the life of Israel at this point through the eyes of a relationship that is all-too-common in our contemporary society.

Hosea opens with when the word of the Lord came upon him and during the reigns of which kings he prophesied. Most commentary suggests that Hosea is a native of Israel (perhaps, Samaria). His knowledge of nation is noteworthy, and that he prophesies during the reigns of northern and southern kingdom kings is also.

"...Go, take to yourself a wife of harlotry...." vs. 2

Nothing like starting off with some issues in interpretation. The NASB translation says, "When the Lord first spoke through Hosea...." telling the reader of when God called upon Hosea. Did God really tell Hosea to take, to marry, a prostitute? Jewish translators tend to think of the book of Hosea as completely allegorical. There is not a literal 'wife of harlotry', only the wayward state of Israel that is being referred. Though God has mysterious and unique plans, it would not seem in His character to create a relationship that He abhors, just to illustrate His point to Israel.

My study Bible suggests that the language has nothing in it to say this wasn't the relationship. But, when did Hosea take Gomer? It seems most plausible to me, having now read some commentary, that Hosea had married Gomer prior to his calling by God. At some point, however, she does become the 'wife of harlotry', and God is commanding Hosea to take her back.

As far as the analogy, which also supports the view of a sanctified marriage at the beginning, Gomer first represents Israel as the love of God's heart, completely devoted and adoring. With the corrupt nature of Israel's kings during this time and the rampant idol worship (please remember everything we learned in Amos!), Israel had broken God's heart in such a way that it would not be completely repairable. Gomer's forgetting of her first love would bring severe trauma in her relationship with Hosea; likewise, is the relationship between Israel and God.

"...For the land commits flagrant harlotry, forsaking the Lord." (vs 2)

In verse 3, Gomer is mentioned by name as "the daughter of Diblaim." Interestingly, Diblaim in Hebrew means "two cakes." [Strong's] Definitely suggests something about Gomer's line. Gomer has a son, and the Lord pronounces a name upon him: Jezreel, meaning "God will scatter."

The story of Jezreel [the city sharing in the name of Gomer's son] requires us to study a story in II Kings (9-10:28), featuring Jehu, the son of Jehoshaphat. Oh, what a story!! I'm highlighting, here. A servant of the prophet, Elisha, came to Jehu with a flask of oil and God's word to christen him king of Israel:

"'You shall strike the house of Ahab your master, that I may avenge the blood of My servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of the LORD, at the hand of Jezebel.'"
--II Kings 9:7

At Jezreel, Jehu would kill King Joram of Israel, the son of Ahab. Azahiah, King of Judah, was also present, but was chased down by Jehu's men and mortally wounded by bow and arrow. Jehu then found Jezebel, and he and his men "threw her down" (vs. 33), and, fulfilling Elijah's prophecy [I Kings 21:23], dogs ate her but for a few bones. Finally, still at Jezreel, 70 of the sons/house of Ahab were beheaded and handed over to Jehu at his command. Thus, the word of God was completely fulfilled--and then some.

"So Jehu killed all who remained of the house of Ahab in Jezreel, and all his great men and his acquaintances and his priests, until he left him without a survivor."
--II Kings 10:11

Jehu didn't stop when he should have. He murdered ALL of Ahab's officials, which was beyond the scope of God's plan. For this reason is the punishment given that is referred to in Hosea 1:4--a precursor event to the "end to the kingdom of the house of Israel" in its exile to Assyria in 722 B.C. Israel would be scattered, thus the prophecy made known through the naming of Gomer's son. God's long-term plan for Israel would involve the valley of Jezreel, at which He would "break the bow"--a flashback to the bow and arrows of Jehu--of the nation. The great battlefield of, in the Hebrew, Har-Magedon, would be fought in the valley. Even in that scattering, a chosen people will remain:

"When I scatter them among the peoples,
They will remember Me in far countries,
And they with their children will live and come back."
--Zechariah 10:9

More children for Gomer, and more messages from God in their naming.... 'Til next Wednesday!

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Next week: Hosea 1: 6-11

Note: I read from the New American Standard Bible translation,
specifically, The MacArthur Study Bible (NASB).
I will quote other sources if used in a post.

I also use
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
(with notes from the King James Version).