Hos 1:1 The word of the LORD that came to Hosea the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel.
Hos 1:2 When the LORD began to speak by Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea: “Go, take yourself a wife of harlotry And children of harlotry, For the land has committed great harlotry By departing from the LORD.”
In the time of Hosea, Israel seems to have become very rich, powerful, and haughty. They forsake God and turn to idols. God sees this as pure adultery, so God sets in motion a plan to train up a prophet who can empathize with God. God chooses Hosea.
Hosea was unmarried man. God sets the tone for Hosea’s entire ministry by commanding Hosea to marry a prostitute. This must have been very mentally devastating to Hosea. God was using Hosea’s devastation to mirror God’s own devastation at the state of Israel. God wanted a prophet who felt how God felt, and could use that emotion to reach out to Israel. One increadibly devastating factor is that God tells Hosea to have “children of harlotry”. Hosea would have children, but most likely they were bastard children of other men.
Hos 1:3 So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.
Hos 1:4 Then the LORD said to him: “Call his name Jezreel, For in a little while I will avenge the bloodshed of Jezreel on the house of Jehu, And bring an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel.
Hos 1:5 It shall come to pass in that day That I will break the bow of Israel in the Valley of Jezreel.”
God then tells Hosea what to name his children. God starts with Jezreel, meaning “God will scatter” and couples this with a dire prophecy that God will massacre Israel. “Break the bow” was an idiom which meant “utterly defeat”. God will be exacting vengeance upon Israel. God then names Hosea’s daughter:
Hos 1:6 And she conceived again and bore a daughter. Then God said to him: “Call her name Lo-Ruhamah, For I will no longer have mercy on the house of Israel, But I will utterly take them away.
Hos 1:7 Yet I will have mercy on the house of Judah, Will save them by the LORD their God, And will not save them by bow, Nor by sword or battle, By horses or horsemen.”
Hosea’s daughter is then named “not pitied”. Her name parallels God’s lack of mercy for Israel. God states that He would “utterly take them away”. This seems to be referring to 2 Kings 17:6 when the Assyrian army takes Israel captive. God contrasts this with His treatment of Judah (south of Israel). God will show Judah mercy and Judah would not have to even fight. This seems to be referring to 2 Kings 19:35 in which God sends an angel into the Assyrian camp at night and just kills thousands of soldiers. This causes instant Assyrian retreat.
Hosea has one more child.
Hos 1:8 Now when she had weaned Lo-Ruhamah, she conceived and bore a son.
Hos 1:9 Then God said: “Call his name Lo-Ammi, For you are not My people, And I will not be your God.
This may be one of the most disturbing lines in the Bible. God tells Israel that He is no longer their God and they are no longer His people. An astute reader can feel the pain in this statement. Hosea’s son is literally named “not my people”. But God has not forgotten His promise to Abraham:
Hos 1:10 “Yet the number of the children of Israel Shall be as the sand of the sea, Which cannot be measured or numbered. And it shall come to pass In the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not My people,’ There it shall be said to them, ‘You are sons of the living God.’
God predicts a repentance from Israel. In the next few chapters God makes clear that this will only be a remnant of Israel. God is opting to a contingency plan, much like the one He offered Moses on multiple occasions.
Hos 1:11 Then the children of Judah and the children of Israel Shall be gathered together, And appoint for themselves one head; And they shall come up out of the land, For great will be the day of Jezreel!
God predicts that Israel would be rejoined to Judah. He refers back to Jezreel (“God will scatter”) and alludes to a coming harvest. God states that they would have one head, the face value meaning that Israel and Judah would reunite. But this never happens historically. Some people believe this may still happen in the future. But this interpretation seems to stretch the prophecy too thin. The Assyrian captivity, unlike the Babylonian captivity, had no general release to resettle Israel.
The book of Hosea paints a grim picture with a faint ray of hope. God feels as a husband scorned in adultery. God is angry. God is sad. God is hurt. God then rejects and abandons Israel. God declares a harsh judgment against Israel. But then also tells them one day, they will return. This is God using punishment to break an adulterous wife.