Hosea 1
Keil and Delitzsch OT Commentary


The Person of the Prophet. - Hosea, הושׁע, i.e., help, deliverance, or regarding it as abstractum pro concreto, helper, salvator, Ὠσηέ (lxx.) or Ὡσηέ (Romans 9:20), Osee (Vulg.), the son of a certain Beēri, prophesied, according to the heading to his book (Hosea 1:1), in the reigns of the kings Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah of Judah, and in that of king Jeroboam, son of Joash, of Israel; and, as the nature of his prophecies clearly proves, he prophesied not only concerning, but in, the kingdom of the ten tribes, so that we must regard him as a subject of that kingdom. This is favoured not only by the fact that his prophetic addresses are occupied throughout with the kingdom of the ten tribes, but also by the peculiar style and language of his prophecies, which have here and there an Aramaean colouring (for example, such forms as אמאסאך, Hosea 6:6; חכּי (inf.), Hosea 11:9; קימושׁ for קמּושׁ, Hosea 9:6; קאם for קם, Hosea 10:14; תּרגּלתּי, Hosea 11:3; אוכיל for אאכיל, Hosea 11:4; תּלוּא, in Hosea 11:7, יפריא for יפרה Hosea 13:15; and such words as רתת, Hosea 13:1; אהי for איּה Hosea 13:10, Hosea 13:14), and still more by the intimate acquaintance with the circumstances and localities of the northern kingdom apparent in such passages as Hosea 5:1; Hosea 6:8-9; Hosea 12:12; Hosea 14:6., which even goes so far that he calls the Israelitish kingdom "the land" in Hosea 1:2, and afterwards speaks of the king of Israel as "our king" (Hosea 7:5). On the other hand, neither the fact that he mentions the kings of Judah in the heading, to indicate the period of his prophetic labours (Hosea 1:1), nor the repeated allusions to Judah in passing (Hosea 1:7; Hosea 2:2; Hosea 4:15; Hosea 5:5, Hosea 5:10, Hosea 5:12-14; Hosea 6:4, Hosea 6:11; Hosea 8:14; Hosea 10:11; Hosea 12:1, Hosea 12:3), furnish any proof that he was a Judaean by birth, as Jahn and Maurer suppose. The allusion to the kings of Judah (Hosea 1:1), and that before king Jeroboam of Israel, may be accounted for not from any outward relation to the kingdom of Judah, but from the inward attitude which Hosea assumed towards that kingdom in common with all true prophets. As the separation of the ten tribes from the house of David was in its deepest ground apostasy from Jehovah (see the commentary on 1 Kings 12.), the prophets only recognised the legitimate rulers of the kingdom of Judah as true kings of the people of God, whose throne had the promise of permanent endurance, even though they continued to render civil obedience to the kings of the kingdom of Israel, until God Himself once more broke up the government, which he had given to the ten tribes in His anger to chastise the seed of David which had fallen away from Him (Hosea 13:11). It is from this point of view that Hosea, in the heading to his book, fixes the date of his ministry according to the reigns of the kings of Judah, of whom he gives a complete list, and whom he also places first; whereas he only mentions the name of one king of Israel, viz., the king in whose reign he commenced his prophetic course, and that not merely for the purpose of indicating the commencement of his career with greater precision, as Calvin and Hengstenberg suppose, but still more because of the importance attaching to Jeroboam II in relation to the kingdom of the ten tribes.

Before we can arrive at a correct interpretation of the prophecies of Hosea, it is necessary, as Hosea 1:1-11 and 2 clearly show, that we should determine with precision the time when he appeared, inasmuch as he not only predicted the overthrow of the house of Jehu, but the destruction of the kingdom of Israel as well. The reference to Uzziah is not sufficient for this; for during the fifty-two years' reign of this king of Judah, the state of things in the kingdom of the ten tribes was immensely altered. When Uzziah ascended the throne, the Lord had looked in mercy upon the misery of the ten tribes of Israel, and had sent them such help through Jeroboam, that, after gaining certain victories over the Syrians, he was able completely to break down their supremacy over Israel, and to restore the ancient boundaries of the kingdom (2 Kings 14:25-27). But this elevation of Israel to new power did not last long. In the thirty-seventh year of Uzziah's reign, Zechariah, the son and successor of Jeroboam, was murdered by Shallum after a reign of only six months, and with him the house of Jehu was overthrown. From this time forward, yea, even from the death of Jeroboam in the twenty-seventh year of Uzziah's reign, the kingdom advanced with rapid strides towards utter ruin. Now, if Hosea had simply indicated the time of his own labours by the reigns of the kings of Judah, since his ministry lasted till the time of Hezekiah, we might easily be led to assign its commencement to the closing years of Uzziah's reign, in which the decline of the kingdom of Israel had already begun to show itself and its ruin could be foreseen to be the probable issue. If, therefore, it was to be made apparent that the Lord does reveal future events to His servants even "before they spring forth" (Isaiah 42:9), this could only be done by indicating with great precision the time of Hosea's appearance as a prophet, i.e., by naming king Jeroboam. Jeroboam reigned contemporaneously with Uzziah for twenty-six years, and died in the twenty-seventh year of the reign of the latter, who outlived him about twenty-five years, and did not die till the second year of Pekah (see at 2 Kings 15:1, 2 Kings 15:32). It is evident from this that Hosea commenced his prophetic labours within the twenty-six years of the contemporaneous reigns of Uzziah and Jeroboam, that is to say, before the twenty-seventh year of the former, and continued to labour till a very short time before the destruction of the kingdom of the ten tribes, since he prophesied till the time of Hezekiah, in the sixth year of whose reign Samaria was conquered by Shalmanezer, and the kingdom of Israel destroyed. The fact that of all the kings of Israel Jeroboam only is mentioned, may be explained from the fact that the house of Jehu, to which he belonged, had been called to the throne by the prophet Elisha at the command of God, for the purpose of rooting out the worship of Baal from Israel, in return for which Jehu received the promise that his sons should sit upon the throne to the fourth generation (2 Kings 10:30); and Jeroboam, the great-grandson of Jehu, was the last king through whom the Lord sent any help to the ten tribes (2 Kings 14:27). In his reign the kingdom of the ten tribes reached its greatest glory. After his death a long-continued anarchy prevailed, and his son Zechariah was only able to keep possession of the throne for half a year. The kings who followed fell, one after another by conspiracies, so that the uninterrupted and regular succession to the throne ceased with the death of Jeroboam; and of the six rulers who came to the throne after his death, not one was called by God through the intervention of a prophet, and only two were able to keep possession of it for any length of time, viz., Menahem for ten years, and Pekah for twenty.

Again, the circumstance that Hosea refers repeatedly to Judah in his prophecies, by no means warrants the conclusion that he was a citizen of the kingdom of Judah. The opinion expressed by Maurer, that an Israelitish prophet would not have troubled himself about the Judeans, or would have condemned their sins less harshly, is founded upon the unscriptural assumption, that the prophets suffered themselves to be influenced in their prophecies by subjective sympathies and antipathies as mere morum magistri, whereas they simply proclaimed the truth as organs of the Spirit of God, without any regard to man at all. If Hosea had been sent out of Judah into the kingdom of Israel, like the prophet in 1 Kings 13., or the prophet Amos, this would certainly have been mentioned, at all events in the heading, just as in the case of Amos the native land of the prophet is given. But cases of this kind formed very rare exceptions to the general rule, since the prophets in Israel were still more numerous than in the kingdom of Judah. In the reign of Jeroboam the prophet Jonah was living and labouring there (2 Kings 14:25); and the death of the prophet Elisha, who had trained a great company of young men for the service of the Lord in the schools of the prophets at Gilgal, Bethel, and Jericho, had only occurred a few years before. The fact that a prophet who was born in the kingdom of the ten tribes, and laboured there, alluded in his prophecies to the kingdom of Judah, may be accounted for very simply, from the importance which this kingdom possessed in relation to Israel as a whole, both on account of the promises it had received, and also in connection with its historical development. Whilst the promises in the possession of the Davidic government of the kingdom of Judah formed a firm ground of hope for godly men in all Israel, that the Lord could not utterly and for ever cast off His people; the announcement of the judgments, which would burst upon Judah also on account of its apostasy, was intended to warn the ungodly against false trust in the gracious promises of God, and to proclaim the severity and earnestness of the judgment of God. This also explains the fact that whilst, on the one hand, Hosea makes the salvation of the ten tribes dependent upon their return to Jehovah their God and David their king (Hosea 1:7; Hosea 2:2), and warns Judah against sinning with Israel (Hosea 4:15), on the other hand, he announces to Judah also that it is plunging headlong into the very same ruin as Israel, in consequence of its sins (Hosea 5:5, Hosea 5:10., Hosea 6:4, Hosea 6:11, etc.); whereas the conclusions drawn by Ewald from these passages - namely, that at first Hosea only looked at Judah from the distance, and that it was not till a later period that he became personally acquainted with it, and not till after he had laboured for a long time in the northern part of the kingdom that he came to Judah and composed his book - are not only at variance with the fact, that as early as Hosea 2:2 the prophet proclaims indirectly the expulsion of Judah from its own land into captivity, but are founded upon the false notion, that the prophets regarded their own subjective perceptions and individual judgments as inspirations from God.

According to the heading, Hosea held his prophetic office for about sixty or sixty-five years (viz., 27-30 years under Uzziah, 31 under Jotham and Ahaz, and 1-3 years under Hezekiah). This also agrees with the contents of his book. In Hosea 1:4, the overthrow of the house of Jehu, which occurred about eleven or twelve years after the death of Jeroboam, in the thirty-ninth year of Uzziah (2 Kings 15:10, 2 Kings 15:13), is foretold as being near at hand; and in Hosea 10:14, according to the most probable explanation of this passage, the expedition of Shalmanezer into Galilee, which occurred, according to 2 Kings 17:3, at the commencement of the reign of Hoshea, the last of the Israelitish kings, is mentioned as having already taken place, whilst a fresh invasion of the Assyrians is threatened, which cannot be any other than the expedition of Shalmanezer against king Hoshea, who had revolted from him, which ended in the capture of Samaria after a three years' siege, and the destruction of the kingdom of the ten tribes in the sixth year of Hezekiah. The reproof in Hosea 7:11, "They call to Egypt, they go to Assyria," and that in Hosea 12:1, "They do make a covenant with the Assyrians, and oil is carried into Egypt," point to the same period; for they clearly refer to the time of Hoshea, who, notwithstanding the covenant that he had made with Asshur, i.e., notwithstanding the oath of fidelity rendered to Shalmanezer, purchased the assistance of the king of Egypt by means of presents, that he might be able to shake off the Assyrian yoke. The history knows nothing of any earlier alliances between Israel and Egypt; and the supposition that, in these reproaches, the prophet has in his mind simply two political parties, viz., an Assyrian and an Egyptian, is hardly reconcilable with the words themselves; nor can it be sustained by an appeal to Isaiah 7:17., or even to Zechariah 10:9-11, at least so far as the times of Menahem are concerned. Nor is it any more possible to infer from Hosea 6:8 and Hosea 12:11, that the active ministry of the prophet did not extend beyond the reign of Jotham, on the ground that, according to these passages, Gilead and Galilee, which were conquered and depopulated by Tiglath-pileser, whom Ahaz called to his help (2 Kings 15:29), were still in the possession of Israel (Simson). For it is by no means certain that Hosea 12:11 presupposes the possession of Galilee, but the words contained in this verse might have been uttered even after the Assyrians had conquered the land to the east of the Jordan; and in that case, the book, which comprises the sum and substance of all that Hosea prophesied during a long period, must of necessity contain historical allusions to events that were already things of the past at the time when his book was prepared (Hengstenberg). On the other hand, the whole of the attitude assumed by Assyria towards Israel, according to Hosea 5:13; Hosea 10:6; Hosea 11:5, points beyond the times of Menahem and Jotham, even to the Assyrian oppression, which first began with Tiglath-pileser in the time of Ahaz. Consequently there is no ground whatever for shortening the period of our prophet's active labours. A prophetic career of sixty years is not without parallel. Even Elisha prophesied for at least fifty years (see at 2 Kings 13:20-21). This simply proves, according to the apt remark of Calvin, "how great and indomitable were the fortitude and constancy with which he was endowed by the Holy Spirit." Nothing certain is known concerning the life of the prophet;

(Note: The traditional accounts are very meagre, and altogether unsupported. According to Pseudepiphanius, De vitis prophet. c. xi., Pseudo-Doroth. De prophetis, c. i., and in a Scholion before Ephr. Syri Explan. in Hos., he sprang from Belemoth, or Belemōn, or Beelmoth, in the tribe of Issachar, and is said to have died and been buried there. On the other hand, according to a tradition current among the inhabitants of Thessalonica, found in הקבלה שׁלשׁלת, he died in Babylon. According to an Arabian legend, it was not far from Tripolis, viz., in the city of Almenia; whilst the Arabs also point out a grave, which is supposed to be his, in the land to the east of the Jordan, on the site of Ramoth Gilead; cf. Simson, der Prophet Hosea, p. 1ff.)

but his inner life lies before us in his writings, and from these we may clearly see that he had to sustain severe inward conflicts. For even if such passages as Hosea 4:4-5, and Hosea 9:7-8, contain no certain indications of the fact, that he had to contend against the most violent hostilities as well as secret plots, as Ewald supposes, the sight of the sins and abominations of his countrymen, which he had to denounce and punish, and the outburst of the divine judgments upon the kingdom thus incessantly ripening for destruction, which he had to experience, could not fail to fill his soul burning as it was for the deliverance of his people, with the deepest anguish, and to involve him in all kinds of conflicts.

2. Times of the Prophet - When Hosea was called to be a prophet, the kingdom of the ten tribes of Israel had been elevated to a position of great earthly power by Jeroboam II. Even under Joash the Lord had had compassion upon the children of Israel, and had turned to them again for the sake of His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; so that Joash had been able to recover the cities, which Hazael of Syria had conquered in the reign of his father Jehoahaz, from Benhadad the son of Hazael, and to restore them to Israel (2 Kings 8:23-25). The Lord sent still further help through Jeroboam the son of Joash. Because He had not yet spoken to root out the name of Israel under heaven, He gave them victory in war, so that they were able to conquer Damascus and Hamath again, so far as they had belonged to Judah under David and Solomon, and to restore the ancient boundaries of Israel, from the province of Hamath to the Dead Sea, according to the word of Jehovah the God of Israel, which He had spoken through His servant the prophet Jonah (2 Kings 14:25-28). But this revival of the might and greatness of Israel was only the last display of divine grace, through which the Lord sought to bring back His people from their evil ways, and lead them to repentance. For the roots of corruption, which the kingdom of Israel had within it from its very commencement, were not exterminated either by Joash or Jeroboam. These kings did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who had caused Israel to sin, any more than their predecessors (2 Kings 13:11; 2 Kings 14:24). Jehu, the founder of this dynasty, had indeed rooted out Baal from Israel; but he had not departed from the golden calves at Bethel and Dan, through the setting up of which Jeroboam the son of Nebat had led Israel into sin (2 Kings 10:28-29). Nor did his successors take any more care to walk in the law of Jehovah, the God of Israel, with all their heart. Neither the severe chastisements which the Lord inflicted upon the people and the kingdom, by delivering Israel up to the power of Hazael king of Syria and his son Benhadad, in the time of Jehu and Jehoahaz, causing it to be smitten in all its borders, and beginning to cut off Israel (2 Kings 10:32-33; 2 Kings 13:3); nor the love and grace which He manifested towards them in the reigns of Joash and Jeroboam, by liberating them from the oppression of the Syrians, and restoring the former greatness of the kingdom, - were sufficient to induce the king or the people to relinquish the worship of the calves. This sin of Jeroboam, however, although it was Jehovah who was worshipped under the symbol of the calf, was a transgression of the fundamental law of the covenant, which the Lord had made with Israel, and therefore was a formal departure from Jehovah the true God. And Jeroboam the son of Nebat was not content with simply introducing images or symbols of Jehovah, but had even banished from his kingdom the Levites, who opposed this innovation, and had taken men out of the great body of the people, who were not sons of Levi, and made them priests, and had gone so far as to change the time of celebrating the feast of tabernacles from the seventh month to the eighth (1 Kings 12:31-32), merely for the purpose of making the religious gulf which separated the two kingdoms as wide as possible, and moulding the religious institutions of his kingdom entirely according to his own caprice. Thus the worship of the people became a political institution, in direct opposition to the idea of the kingdom of God; and the sanctuary of Jehovah was changed into a king's sanctuary (Amos 12:13). But the consequences of this image-worship were even worse than these. Through the representation of the invisible and infinite God under a visible and earthly symbol, the glory of the one true God was brought down within the limits of the finite, and the God of Israel was placed on an equality with the gods of the heathen. This outward levelling was followed, with inevitable necessity, by an inward levelling also. The Jehovah worshipped under the symbol of an ox was no longer essentially different from the Baals of the heathen, by whom Israel was surrounded; but the difference was merely a formal one, consisting simply in a peculiar mode of worship, which had been prescribed in His revelation of Himself, but which could not lay the foundation of any permanently tenable party-wall. For, whilst the heathen were accustomed to extend to the national Deity of Israel the recognition which they accorded to the different Baals, as various modes of revelation of one and the same Deity; the Israelites, in their turn, were also accustomed to grant toleration to the Baals; and this speedily passed into formal worship. "Outwardly, the Jehovah-worship still continued to predominate; but inwardly, the worship of idols rose almost into exclusive supremacy. When once the boundary lines between the two religions were removed, it necessarily followed that that religion acquired the strongest spiritual force, which was most in accordance with the spirit of the nation. And from the very corruptions of human nature this was not the strict Jehovah religion, which being given by God did not bring down God to the low level of man, but sought to raise man up to its own lofty height, placing the holiness of God in the centre, and founding upon this the demand for holiness which it made upon its professors; but the voluptuous, sensual teaching of idolatry, pandering as it did to human corruption, just because it was from this it had originally sprung" (Hengstenberg's Christology). This seems to explain the fact, that whereas, according to the prophecies of Amos and Hosea, the worship of Baal still prevailed in Israel under the kings of the house of Jehu, according to the account given in the books of Kings Jehu had rooted out Baal along with the royal house of Ahab (a Kings 10:28). Jehu had merely broken down the outward supremacy of the Baal worship, and raised up the worship of Jehovah once more, under the symbols of oxen or calves, into the state-religion. But this worship of Jehovah was itself a Baal-worship, since, although it was to Jehovah that the legal sacrifices were offered, and although His name was outwardly confessed, and His feasts were observed (Hosea 2:13), yet in heart Jehovah Himself was made into a Baal, so that the people even called Him their Baal (Hosea 2:16), and observed "the days of the Baals" (Hosea 2:13).

This inward apostasy from the Lord, notwithstanding which the people still continued to worship Him outwardly and rely upon His covenant, had of necessity a very demoralizing influence upon the national life. With the breach of the fundamental law of the covenant, viz., of the prohibition against making any likeness of Jehovah, or worshipping images made by men, more especially in consequence of the manner in which this prohibition was bound up with the divine authority of the law, all reverence not only for the holiness of the law of God, but for the holy God Himself, was undermined. Unfaithfulness towards God and His word begot faithlessness towards men. With the neglect to love God with all the heart, love to brethren also disappeared. And spiritual adultery had carnal adultery as its inevitable consequence, and that all the more because voluptuousness formed a leading trait in the character of the idolatry of Hither Asia. Hence all the bonds of love, of chastity, and of order were loosened and broken, and Hosea uttered this complaint: "There is no truthfulness, and no love, and no knowledge of God in the land. Cursing, and murder, and stealing, and adultery; they break out, and blood reaches to blood" (Hosea 4:1-2). No king of Israel could put an effectual stop to this corruption. By abolishing the worship of the calves, he would have rendered the very existence of the kingdom doubtful. For if once the religious wall of division between the kingdom of Israel and the kingdom of Judah had been removed, the political distinction would have been in danger of following. And this was really what the founder of the kingdom of the ten tribes feared (1 Kings 12:27), inasmuch as the royal family that occupied the throne had received no promise from God of permanent continuance. Founded as it was in rebellion against the royal house of David, which God Himself had chosen, it bore within itself from the very first the spirit of rebellion and revolution, and therefore the germs of internal self-destruction. Under these circumstances, even the long, and in outward respects very prosperous, reign of Jeroboam II. could not possibly heal the deep-seated evils, but only helped to increase the apostasy and immorality; since the people, whilst despising the riches of the goodness and mercy of God, looked upon their existing prosperity as simply a reward for their righteousness before God, and were therefore confirmed in their self-security and sins. And this was a delusion which false prophets loved to foster by predictions of continued prosperity (cf. Hosea 9:7). The consequence was, that when Jeroboam died, the judgments of God began to burst upon the incorrigible nation. There followed, first of all, an anarchy of eleven or twelve years; and it was not till after this that his son Zechariah succeeded in ascending the throne. But at the end of no more than six months he was murdered by Shallum, whilst he in his turn was put to death after a reign of one month by Menahem, who reigned ten years at Samaria (2 Kings 15:14, 2 Kings 15:17). In his reign the Assyrian king Phul invaded the land, and was only induced to leave it by the payment of a heavy tribute (2 Kings 15:19-20). Menahem was followed by his son Pekachiah in the fiftieth year of Uzziah's reign; but after a reign of hardly two years he was murdered by his charioteer, Pekah the son of Remaliah, who held the throne for twenty years (2 Kings 15:22-27), but who accelerated the ruin of his kingdom by forming an alliance with the king of Syria to attack the brother kingdom of Judah (Isaiah 7.). For king Ahaz, when hard pressed by Pekah and the Syrians, called to his help the Assyrian king Tiglath-pileser, who not only conquered Damascus and destroyed the Syrian kingdom, but took a portion of the kingdom of Israel, viz., the whole of the land to the east of the Jordan, and carried away its inhabitants into exile (2 Kings 15:29). Hoshea the son of Elah conspired against Pekah, and slew him in the fourth year of the reign of Ahaz; after which, an eight years' anarchy threw the kingdom into confusion, so that it was not till the twelfth year of Ahaz that Hoshea obtained possession of the throne. Very shortly afterwards, however, he came into subjection to the Assyrian king Shalmanezer, and paid him tribute. But after a time, in reliance upon the help of Egypt, he broke his oath of fealty to the king of Assyria; whereupon Shalmanezer returned, conquered the entire land, including the capital, and led Israel captive into Assyria (2 Kings 15:30; 2 Kings 17:1-6).

3. The Book of Hosea. - Called as he was at such a time as this to proclaim to his people the word of the Lord, Hosea necessarily occupied himself chiefly in bearing witness against the apostasy and corruption of Israel, and in preaching the judgment of God. The ungodliness and wickedness had become so great, that the destruction of the kingdom was inevitable; and the degenerate nation was obliged to be given up into the power of the Assyrians, the existing representatives of the heathen power of the world. But as God the Lord has no pleasure in the death of the sinner, but that he should turn and live, He would not exterminate the rebellious tribes of the people of His possession from the earth, or put them away for ever from His face, but would humble them deeply by severe and long-continued chastisement, in order that He might bring them to a consciousness of their great guilt and lead them to repentance, so that He might at length have mercy upon them once more, and save them from everlasting destruction. Consequently, even in the book of Hosea, promises go side by side with threatenings and announcements of punishment, and that not merely as the general hope of better days, kept continually before the corrected nation by the all-pitying love of Jehovah, which forgives even faithlessness, and seeks out that which has gone astray (Sims.), but in the form of a very distinct announcement of the eventual restoration of the nation, when corrected by punishment, and returning in sorrow and repentance to the Lord its God, and to David its king (Hosea 3:5) - an announcement founded upon the inviolable character of the divine covenant of grace, and rising up to the thought that the Lord will also redeem from hell and save from death, yea, will destroy both death and hell (Hosea 13:14). Because Jehovah had married Israel in His covenant of grace, but Israel, like an unfaithful wife, had broken the covenant with its God, and gone a whoring after idols, God, by virtue of the holiness of His love, must punish its unfaithfulness and apostasy. His love, however, would not destroy, but would save that which was lost. This love bursts out in the flame of holy wrath, which burns in all the threatening and reproachful addresses of Hosea. In this wrath, however, it is not the consuming fire of an Elijah that burns so brightly; on the contrary, a gentle sound of divine grace and mercy is ever heard in the midst of the flame, so that the wrath but gives expression to the deepest anguish at the perversity of the nation, which will not suffer itself to be brought to a consciousness of the fact that its salvation rests with Jehovah its God, and with Him alone, either by the severity of the divine chastisements, or by the friendliness with which God has drawn Israel to Himself as with cords of love. This anguish of love at the faithlessness of Israel so completely fills the mind of the prophet, that his rich and lively imagination shines perpetually by means of changes of figure and fresh turns of thought, to open the eyes of the sinful nation to the abyss of destruction by which it is standing, in order if possible to rescue it from ruin. The deepest sympathy gives to his words a character of excitement, so that for the most part he merely hints at the thoughts in the briefest possible manner, instead of carefully elaborating them, passing with rapid changes from one figure and simile to another, and moving forward in short sentences and oracular utterances rather than in a calmly finished address, so that his addresses are frequently obscure, and hardly intelligible.

(Note: Jerome says of him, "commaticus est et quasi per sententias loquens;" and Ewald discovers in his style "a kernel-like fulness of language, and, notwithstanding many strong figures, which indicate not only poetical boldness and originality but also the tolerably upright thought of those times, a very great tenderness and warmth of language." His diction is distinguished by many peculiar words and forms, such as נאפוּפים (Hosea 2:4), אהבוּ הבוּ (Hosea 4:18), גּהה (Hosea 5:13), שׁעריריּה (Hosea 6:1-11 :l0), הבהבים (Hosea 8:13), תּלאוּבת (Hosea 13:5); and by peculiar constructions, such as לא על (Hosea 7:16), אל־על (Hosea 11:7), מריבי כהן (Hosea 4:4), and many others.)

His book does not contain a collection of separate addresses delivered to the people, but, as is generally admitted now, a general summary of the leading thoughts contained in his public addresses. The book is divisible into two parts, viz., ch. 1-3 and 4-14, which give the kernel of his prophetic labours, the one in a more condensed, and the other in a more elaborate form. In the first part, which contains the "beginning of the word of Jehovah by Hosea" (Hosea 1:2), the prophet first of all describes, in the symbolical form of a marriage, contracted by the command of God with an adulterous woman, the spiritual adultery of the ten tribes of Israel, i.e., their falling away from Jehovah into idolatry, together with its consequences, - namely, the rejection of the rebellious tribes by the Lord, and their eventual return to God, and restoration to favour (Hosea 1:2; Hosea 2:3). He then announces, in simple prophetic words, not only the chastisements and punishments that will come from God, and bring the people to a knowledge of the ruinous consequences of their departure from God, but also the manifestations of mercy by which the Lord will secure the true conversion of those who are humbled by suffering, and their eventual blessedness through the conclusion of a covenant founded in righteousness and grace (Hosea 2:4-23); and this attitude on the part of God towards His people is then confirmed by a symbolical picture in Hosea 3:1-5.

In the second part, these truths are expanded in a still more elaborate manner; but the condemnation of the idolatry and moral corruption of Israel, and the announcement of the destruction of the kingdom of the ten tribes, predominate, - the saving prediction of the eventual restoration and blessedness of those, who come to the consciousness of the depth of their own fall, being but briefly touched upon. This part, again, cannot be divided into separate addresses, as there is an entire absence of all reliable indices, just as in the last part of Isaiah (ch. 40-66); but, like the latter, it falls into three large, unequal sections, in each of which the prophetic address advances from an accusation of the nation generally and in its several ranks, to a description of the coming punishment, and finishes up with the prospect of the ultimate rescue of the punished nation At the same time, an evident progress is discernible in the three, not indeed of the kind supposed by Ewald, namely, that the address contained in ch. 4-9:9 advances from the accusation itself to the contemplation of the punishment proved to be necessary, and then rises through further retrospective glances at the better days of old, at the destination of the church, and at the everlasting love, to brighter prospects and the firmest hopes; nor in that proposed by De Wette, viz., that the wrath becomes more and more threatening from ch. 8 onwards, and the destruction of Israel comes out more and more clearly before the reader's eye. The relation in which the three sections stand to one another is rather the following: In the first, ch. 4-6:3, the religious and moral degradation of Israel is exhibited in all its magnitude, together with the Judgment which follows upon the heels of this corruption; and at the close the conversion and salvation aimed at in this judgment are briefly indicated. In the second and much longer section, Hosea 6:4-11:11, the incorrigibility of the sinful nation, or the obstinate persistence of Israel in idolatry and unrighteousness, in spite of the warnings and chastisements of God, is first exposed and condemned (Hosea 6:4-7:16); then, secondly, the judgment to which they are liable is elaborately announced as both inevitable and terrible (Hosea 8:1-9:9); and thirdly, by pointing out the unfaithfulness which Israel has displayed towards its God from the very earliest times, the prophet shows that it has deserved nothing but destruction from off the face of the earth (9:10-11:8), and that it is only the mercy of God which will restrain the wrath, and render the restoration of Israel possible (Hosea 11:9-11). In the third section (ch. 12-14) the ripeness of Israel for judgment is confirmed by proofs drawn from its falling into Canaanitish ways, notwithstanding the long-suffering, love, and fidelity with which God has always shown Himself to be its helper and redeemer (Hosea 12:1-14, 13). To this there is appended a solemn appeal to return to the Lord; and the whole concludes with a promise, that the faithful covenant God will display the fulness of His love again to those who return to Him with a sincere confession of their guilt, and will pour upon them the riches of His blessing (Hosea 14:1-9).

This division of the book differs, indeed, from all the attempts that have previously been made; but it has the warrant of its correctness in the three times repeated promise (Hosea 6:1-3; Hosea 9:9-11, and Hosea 14:2-9), by which each of the supposed sections is rounded off. And within these sections we also meet with pauses, by which they are broken up into smaller groups, resembling strophes, although this further grouping of the prophet's words is not formed into uniform strophes.

(Note: All attempts that have been made to break up the book into different prophecies, belonging to different periods, are wrecked upon the contents of the book itself; single sections being obliged to be made into prophetic addresses, or declared to be such, and the period of their origin being merely determined by arbitrary conjectures and assumptions, or by fanciful interpretations, e.g., as that of the chōdesh, or new moon, in Hosea 5:7, which is supposed to refer to the reign of Shallum, who only reigned one month.)

For further remarks on this point, see the Exposition.

From what has been said, it clearly follows that Hosea himself wrote out the quintessence of his prophecies, as a witness of the Lord against the degenerate nation, at the close of his prophetic career, and in the book which bears his name. The preservation of this book, on the destruction of the kingdom of the ten tribes, may be explained very simply from the fact that, on account of the intercourse carried on between the prophets of the Lord in the two kingdoms, it found its way to Judah soon after the time of its composition, and was there spread abroad in the circle of the prophets, and so preserved. We find, for example, that Jeremiah has used it again and again in his prophecies (compare Aug. Kueper, Jeremias librorum ss. interpres atque vindex. Berol. 1837 p. 67 seq.). For the exegetical writings on Hosea, see my Lehrbuch der Einleitung, p. 275.

I. Israel's Adultery - Hosea 1-3

On the ground of the relation hinted at even in the Pentateuch (Exodus 34:15-16; Leviticus 17:7; Leviticus 20:5-6; Numbers 14:33; Deuteronomy 32:16-21), and still further developed in the Song of Solomon and Psalm 45, where the gracious bond existing between the Lord and the nation of His choice is represented under the figure of a marriage, which Jehovah had contracted with Israel, the falling away of the ten tribes of Israel from Jehovah into idolatry is exhibited as whoredom and adultery, in the following manner. In the first section (Hosea 1:2-2:3), God commands the prophet to marry a wife of whoredoms with children of whoredoms, and gives names to the children born to the prophet by this wife, which indicate the fruits of idolatry, viz., the rejection and putting away of Israel on the part of God (Hosea 1:2-9), with the appended promise of the eventual restoration to favour of the nation thus put away (Hosea 2:1-3). In the second section (Hosea 2:4-23), the Lord announces that He will put an end to the whoredom, i.e., to the idolatry of Israel, and by means of judgments will awaken in it a longing to return to Him (Hosea 2:4-15), that He will thereupon lead the people once more through the wilderness, and, by the renewal of His covenant mercies and blessings, will betroth Himself to it for ever in righteousness, mercy, and truth (Hosea 2:16-23). In the third section (Hosea 3:1-5) the prophet is commanded to love once more a wife beloved of her husband, but one who had committed adultery; and after having secured her, to put her into such a position that it will be impossible for her to carry on her whoredom any longer. And the explanation given is, that the Israelites will sit for a long time without a king, without sacrifice, and without divine worship, but that they will afterwards return, will seek Jehovah their God, and David their king, and will rejoice in the goodness of the Lord at the end of the days. Consequently the falling away of the ten tribes from the Lord, their expulsion into exile, and the restoration of those who come to a knowledge of their sin - in other words, the guilt and punishment of Israel, and its restoration to favour - form the common theme of all three sections, and that in the following manner: In the first, the sin, the punishment, and the eventual restoration of Israel, are depicted symbolically in all their magnitude; in the second, the guilt and punishment, and also the restoration and renewal of the relation of grace, are still further explained in simple prophetic words; whilst in the third, this announcement is visibly set forth in a new symbolical act.

In both the first and third sections, the prophet's announcement is embodied in a symbolical act; and the question arises here, Whether the marriage of the prophet with an adulterous woman, which is twice commanded by God, is to be regarded as a marriage that was actually consummated, or merely as an internal occurrence, or as a parabolical representation.

(Note: Compare on this point the fuller discussion of the question by John Marck, Diatribe de muliere fornicationum, Lugd. B. 1696, reprinted in his Comment. in 12 proph. min., ed. Pfaff. 1734, p. 214ff.; and Hengstenberg's Christology, i. p. 177ff., translation, in which, after a historical survey of the different views that have been expressed, he defends the opinion that the occurrence was real, but not outward; whilst Kurtz (Die Ehe des Propheten Hosea, 1859) has entered the lists in defence of the assumption that it was a marriage actually and outwardly consummated.)

The supporters of a marriage outwardly consummated lay the principal stress upon the simple words of the text. The words of Hosea 1:2, "Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms," and of Hosea 1:3, "So he went and took Gomer ... which conceived," etc., are so definite and so free from ambiguity, that it is impossible, they think, to take them with a good conscience in any other sense than an outward and historical one. But since even Kurtz, who has thrown the argument into this form, feels obliged to admit, with reference to some of the symbolical actions of the prophets, e.g., Jeremiah 25:15. and Zechariah 11, that they were not actually and outwardly performed, it is obvious that the mere words are not sufficient of themselves to decide the question priori, whether such an action took place in the objective outer world, or only inwardly, in the spiritual intuition of the prophet himself.

(Note: It is true that Kurtz endeavours to deprive this concession of all its force, by setting up the canon, that of all the symbolical actions of the prophets the following alone cannot be interpreted as implying either an outward performance or outward experience; viz., (1) those in which the narration itself expressly indicates a visionary basis or a parabolical fiction, and (2) those in which the thing described is physically impossible without the intervention of a miracle. But apart from the arbitrary nature of this second canon, which is apparent from the fact that the prophets both performed and experienced miracles, the symbolical actions recorded in Jeremiah 25 and Zechariah 11 do not fall under either the first or second of these canons. Such a journey as the one which Jeremiah is commanded to take (Jeremiah 25), viz., to the kings of Egypt, of the Philistines, the Phoenicians, the Arabians, the Edomites, the Ammonites, the Syrians, of Media, Elam, and Babylon, cannot be pronounced an absolute impossibility, however improbable it may be. Still less can the taking of two shepherds' staves, to which the prophet gives the symbolical names Beauty and Bands, or the slaying of three wicked shepherds in one month (Zechariah 11), be said to be physically impossible, notwithstanding the assertion of Kurtz, in which he twists the fact so clearly expressed in the biblical text, viz., that "a staff Beauty does not lie within the sphere of physically outward existence, any more than a staff Bands.")

The reference to Isaiah 7:3, and Isaiah 8:3-4, as analogous cases, does apparently strengthen the conclusion that the occurrence was an outward one; but on closer examination, the similarity between the two passages in Isaiah and the one under consideration is outweighed by the differences that exist between them. It is true that Isaiah gave his two sons names with symbolical meanings, and that in all probability by divine command; but nothing is said about his having married his wife by the command of God, nor is the birth of the first-named son ever mentioned at all. Consequently, all that can be inferred from Isaiah is, that the symbolical names of the children of the prophet Hosea furnish no evidence against the outward reality of the marriage in question. Again, the objection, that the command to marry a wife of whoredoms, if understood as referring to an outward act, would be opposed to the divine holiness, and the divine command, that priests should not marry a harlot, cannot be taken as decisive. For what applied to priests cannot be transferred without reserve to prophets; and the remark, which is quite correct in itself, that God as the Holy One could not command an immoral act, does not touch the case, but simply rests upon a misapprehension of the divine command, viz., upon the idea that God commanded the prophet to beget children with an immoral person without a lawful marriage, or that the "children of whoredom," whom Hosea was to take along with the "wife of whoredom," were the three children whom she bare to him (Hosea 1:3, Hosea 1:6, Hosea 1:8); in which case either the children begotten by the prophet are designated as "children of whoredom," or the wife continued her adulterous habits even after the prophet had married her, and bare to the prophet illegitimate children. But neither of these assumptions has any foundation in the text. The divine command, "Take thee a wife of whoredom, and children of whoredom," neither implies that the wife whom the prophet was to marry was living at that time in virgin chastity, and was called a wife of whoredom simply to indicate that, as the prophet's lawful wife, she would fall into adultery; nor even that the children of whoredom whom the prophet was to take along with the wife of whoredom are the three children whose birth is recorded in Hosea 1:3, Hosea 1:6, Hosea 1:8. The meaning is rather that the prophet is to take, along with the wife, the children whom she already had, and whom she had born as a harlot before her marriage with the prophet. If, therefore, we assume that the prophet was commanded to take this woman and her children, for the purpose, as Jerome has explained it, of rescuing the woman from her sinful course, and bringing up her neglected children under paternal discipline and care; such a command as this would be by no means at variance with the holiness of God, but would rather correspond to the compassionate love of God, which accepts the lost sinner, and seeks to save him. And, as Kurtz has well shown, it cannot be objected to this, that by such a command and the prophet's obedience on his first entering upon his office, all the beneficial effects of that office would inevitably be frustrated. For if it were a well-known fact, that the woman whom the prophet married had hitherto been leading a profligate life, and if the prophet declared freely and openly that he had taken her as his wife for that very reason, and with this intention, according to the command of God; the marriage, the shame of which the prophet had taken upon himself in obedience to the command of God, and in self-denying love to his people, would be a practical and constant sermon to the nation, which might rather promote than hinder the carrying out of his official work. For he did with this woman what Jehovah was doing with Israel, to reveal to the nation its own sin in so impressive a manner, that it could not fail to recognise it in all its glaring and damnable character. But however satisfactorily the divine command could be vindicated on the supposition that this was its design, we cannot found any argument upon this in favour of the outward reality of the prophet's marriage, for the simple reason that the supposed object is neither expressed nor hinted at in the text. According to the distinct meaning of the words, the prophet was to take a "wife of whoredom," for the simple purpose of begetting children by her, whose significant names were to set before the people the disastrous fruits of their spiritual whoredom. The behaviour of the woman after the marriage is no more the point in question than the children of whoredom whom the prophet was to take along with the woman; whereas this is what we should necessarily expect, if the object of the marriage commanded had been the reformation of the woman herself and of her illegitimate children. The very fact that, according to the distinct meaning of the words, there was no other object for the marriage than to beget children, who should receive significant names, renders the assumption of a real marriage, i.e., of a marriage outwardly contracted and consummated, very improbable.

And this supposition becomes absolutely untenable in the case of Hosea 3:1-5, where Jehovah says to the prophet (Hosea 3:1), "Go again, love a woman beloved by the husband, and committing adultery;" and the prophet, in order to fulfil the divine command, purchases the woman for a certain price (Hosea 3:2). The indefinite expression 'issâh, a wife, instead of thy wife, or at any rate the wife, and still more the purchase of the woman, are quite sufficient of themselves to overthrow the opinion, that the prophet is here directed to seek out once more his former wife Gomer, who has been unfaithful, and has run away, and to be reconciled to her again. Ewald therefore observes, and Kurtz supports the assertion, that the pronoun in "I bought her to me," according to the simple meaning of the words, cannot refer to any adulteress you please who had left her husband, but must refer to one already known, and therefore points back to Hosea 1:1-11. But with such paralogisms as these we may insert all kinds of things in the text of Scripture. The suffix in ואכּרה, "I bought her" (Hosea 1:2), simply refers to the "woman beloved of her friend" mentioned in Hosea 1:1, and does not prove in the remotest degree, that the "woman beloved of her friend, yet an adulteress," is the same person as the Gomer mentioned in Hosea 1:1-11. The indefiniteness of 'issâh without the article, is neither removed by the fact that, in the further course of the narrative, this (indefinite) woman is referred to again, nor by the examples adduced by Kurtz, viz., יקּח־לב in Hosea 4:11, and הלך אחרי־צו in Hosea 5:11, since any linguist knows that these are examples of a totally different kind. The perfectly indefinite אשּׁה receives, no doubt, a more precise definition from the predicates אהסבת רע וּמנאפת, so that we cannot understand it as meaning any adulteress whatever; but it receives no such definition as would refer back to Hosea 1:1-11. A woman beloved of her friend, i.e., of her husband, and committing adultery, is a woman who, although beloved by her husband, or notwithstanding the love shown to her by her husband, commits adultery. Through the participles אהבת and מנאפת, the love of the friend (or husband), and the adultery of the wife, are represented as contemporaneous, in precisely the same manner as in the explanatory clauses which follow: "as Jehovah loveth the children of Israel, and they turn to other gods!" If the 'isshâh thus defined had been the Gomer mentioned in Hosea 1:1-11, the divine command would necessarily have been thus expressed: either, "Go, and love again the wife beloved by her husband, who has committed adultery;" or, "Love again thy wife, who is still loved by her husband, although she has committed adultery." But it is quite as evident that this thought cannot be contained in the words of the text, as that out of two co-ordinate participles it is impossible that the one should have the force of the future or present, and the other that of the pluperfect. Nevertheless, Kurtz has undertaken to prove the possibility of the impossible. He observes, first of all, that we are not justified, of course, in giving to "love" the meaning "love again," as Hofmann does, because the husband has never ceased to love his wife, in spite of her adultery; but for all that, the explanation, restitue amoris signa (restore the pledges of affection), is the only intelligible one; since it cannot be the love itself, but only the manifestation of love, that is here referred to. But the idea of "again" cannot be smuggled into the text by any such arbitrary distinction as this. There is nothing in the text to the effect that the husband had not ceased to love his wife, in spite of her adultery; and this is simply an inference drawn from Hosea 2:11, through the identification of the prophet with Jehovah, and the tacit assumption that the prophet had withdrawn from Gomer the expressions of his love, of all which there is not a single syllable in Hosea 1:1-11. This assumption, and the inference drawn from it, would only be admissible, if the identity of the woman, beloved by her husband and committing adultery, with the prophet's wife Gomer, were an established fact. But so long as this is not proved, the argument merely moves in a circle, assuming the thing to be demonstrated as already proved. But even granting that "love" were equivalent to "love again," or "manifest thy love again to a woman beloved of her husband, and committing adultery," this could not mean the same things as "go to thy former wife, and prove to her by word and deed the continuance of thy love," so long as, according to the simplest rules of logic, "a wife" is not equivalent to "thy wife." And according to sound logical rules, the identity of the 'isshâh in Hosea 3:1 and the Gomer of Hosea 1:3 cannot be inferred from the fact that the expression used in Hosea 3:1, is, "Go love a woman," and not "Go take a wife," or from the fact that in Hosea 1:2 the woman is simply called a shore, not an adulteress, whereas in Hosea 3:1 she is described as an adulteress, not as a whore. The words "love a woman," as distinguished from "take a wife," may indeed be understood, apart from the connection with Hosea 1:2, as implying that the conclusion of a marriage is alluded to; but they can never denote "the restoration of a marriage bond that had existed before," as Kurtz supposes. And the distinction between Hosea 1:2, where the woman is described as "a woman of whoredom," and Hosea 3:1, where she is called "an adulteress," points far more to a distinction between Gomer and the adulterous woman, than to their identity.

But Hosea 3:2, "I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver," etc., points even more than Hosea 3:1 to a difference between the women in Hosea 1:1-11 and Hosea 3:1-5. The verb kârâh, to purchase or acquire by trading, presupposes that the woman had not yet been in the prophet's possession. The only way in which Kurtz is able to evade this conclusion, is by taking the fifteen pieces of silver mentioned in Hosea 3:2, not as the price paid by the prophet to purchase the woman as his wife, but in total disregard of ואמר אליה, in Hosea 3:3, as the cost of her maintenance, which the prophet gave to the woman for the period of her detention, during which she was to sit, and not go with any man. But the arbitrary nature of this explanation is apparent at once. According to the reading of the words, the prophet bought the woman to himself for fifteen pieces of silver and an ephah and a half of barley, i.e., bought her to be his wife, and then said to her, "Thou shalt sit for me many days; thou shalt not play the harlot," etc. There is not only not a word in Hosea 3:1-5 about his having assigned her the amount stated for her maintenance; but it cannot be inferred from Hosea 2:9, Hosea 2:11, because there it is not the prophet's wife who is referred to, but Israel personified as a harlot and adulteress. And that what is there affirmed concerning Israel cannot be applied without reserve to explain the symbolical description in Hosea 3:1-5, is evident from the simple fact, that the conduct of Jehovah towards Israel is very differently described in ch. 2, from the course which the prophet is said to have observed towards his wife in Hosea 3:3. In Hosea 2:7, the adulterous woman (Israel) says, "I will go and return to my former husband, for then was it better with me than now;" and Jehovah replies to this (Hosea 2:8-9), "Because she has not discovered that I gave her corn and new wine, etc.; therefore will I return, and take away my corn from her in the season thereof, and my wine," etc. On the other hand, according to the view adopted by Kurtz, the prophet took his wife back again because she felt remorse, and assigned her the necessary maintenance for many days.

From all this it follows, that by the woman spoken of in Hosea 3:1-5, we cannot understand the wife Gomer mentioned in Hosea 1:1-11. The "wife beloved of the companion (i.e., of her husband), and committing adultery," is a different person from the daughter of Diblathaim, by whom the prophet had three children (Hosea 1:1-11). If, then, the prophet really contracted and consummated the marriage commanded by God, we must adopt the explanation already favoured by the earlier commentators, viz., that in the interval between Hosea 1:1-11 and Hosea 3:1-5 Gomer had either died, or been put away by her husband because she would not repent. But we are only warranted in adopting such a solution as this, provided that the assumption of a marriage consummated outwardly either has been or can be conclusively established. And as this is not the case, we are not at liberty to supply things at which the text does not even remotely hint. If, then, in accordance with the text, we must understand the divine commands in Hosea 1:1-11 and Hosea 3:1-5 as relating to two successive marriages on the part of the prophet with unchaste women, every probability is swept away that the command of God and its execution by the prophet fall within the sphere of external reality. For even if, in case of need, the first command, as explained above, could be vindicated as worthy of God, the same vindication would not apply to the command to contract a second marriage of a similar kind. The very end which God is supposed to have had in view in the command to contract such a marriage as this, could only be attained by one marriage. But if Hosea had no sooner dissolved the first marriage, than he proceeded to conclude a second with a person in still worse odour, no one would ever have believed that he did this also in obedience to the command of God. And the divine command itself to contract this second marriage, if it was intended to be actually consummated, would be quite irreconcilable with the holiness of God. For even if God could command a man to marry a harlot, for the purpose of rescuing her from her life of sin and reforming her, it would certainly be at variance with the divine holiness, to command the prophet to marry a person who had either broken the marriage vow already, or who would break it, notwithstanding her husband's love; since God, as the Holy One, cannot possibly sanction adultery.

(Note: This objection to the outward consummation of the prophet's marriage cannot be deprived of its force by the remark made by the older Rivetus, to the effect that "things which are dishonourable in themselves, cannot be honourable in vision, or when merely imaginary." For there is an essential difference between a merely symbolical representation, and the actual performance of anything. The instruction given to a prophet to set forth a sin in a symbolical form, for the purpose of impressing upon the hearts of the people its abominable character, and the punishment it deserved, is not at variance with the holiness of God; whereas the command to commit a sin would be. God, as the Holy One, cannot abolish the laws of morality, or command anything actually immoral, without contradicting Himself, or denying His own nature.)

Consequently no other course is left to us, than the picture to ourselves Hosea's marriages as internal events, i.e., as merely carried out in that inward and spiritual intuition in which the word of God was addressed to him; and this removes all the difficulties that beset the assumption of marriages contracted in outward reality. In occurrences which merely happened to a prophet in spiritual intercourse with God, not only would all reflections as to their being worthy or not worthy of God be absent, when the prophet related them to the people, for the purpose of impressing their meaning upon their hearts, inasmuch as it was simply their significance, which came into consideration and was to be laid to heart; but this would also be the case with the other difficulties to which the external view is exposed - such, for example, as the questions, why the prophet was to take not only a woman of whoredom, but children of whoredom also, when they are never referred to again in the course of the narrative; or what became of Gomer, whether she was dead, or had been put away, when the prophet was commanded the second time to love an adulterous woman - since the sign falls back behind the thing signified.

But if, according to this, we must regard the marriages enjoined upon the prophet as simply facts of inward experience, which took place in his own spiritual intuition, we must not set them down as nothing more than parables which he related to the people, or as poetical fictions, since such assumptions as these are at variance with the words themselves, and reduce the statement, "God said to Hosea," to an unmeaning rhetorical phrase. The inward experience has quite as much reality and truth as the outward; whereas a parable or a poetical fiction has simply a certain truth, so far as the subjective imagination is concerned, but no reality.

The word of the LORD that came unto 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.
Hosea 1:1 contains the heading to the whole of the book of Hosea, the contents of which have already been discussed in the Introduction, and defended against the objections that have been raised, so that there is no tenable ground for refusing to admit its integrity and genuineness. The techillath dibber-Yehōvâh with which Hosea 1:2 introduces the prophecy, necessarily presupposes a heading announcing the period of the prophet's ministry; and the "twisted, un-Hebrew expression," which Hitzig properly finds to be so objectionable in the translation, "in the days of Jeroboam, etc., was the commencement of Jehovah's speaking," etc., does not prove that the heading is spurious, but simply that Hitzig's construction is false, i.e., that techillath dibber-Yehōvâh is not in apposition to Hosea 1:1, but the heading in Hosea 1:1 contains an independent statement; whilst the notice as to time, with which Hosea 1:2 opens, does not belong to the heading of the whole book, but simply to the prophecy which follows in Hosea 1-3.

The beginning of the word of the LORD by Hosea. And the LORD said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the LORD.
For the purpose of depicting before the eyes of the sinful people the judgment to which Israel has exposed itself through its apostasy from the Lord, Hosea is to marry a prostitute, and beget children by her, whose names are so appointed by Jehovah as to point out the evil fruits of the departure from God. Hosea 1:2. "At first, when Jehovah spake to Hosea, Jehovah said to him, God, take thee a wife of whoredom, and children of whoredom; for whoring the land whoreth away from Jehovah." The marriage which the prophet is commanded to contract, is to set forth the fact that the kingdom of Israel has fallen away from the Lord its God, and is sunken in idolatry. Hosea is to commence his prophetic labours by exhibiting this fact. תּחלּת דּבּר יי: literally, "at the commencement of 'Jehovah spake,'" i.e., at the commencement of Jehovah's speaking (dibber is not an infinitive, but a perfect, and techillath an accusative of time (Ges. 118, 2); and through the constructive the following clause is subordinated to techillath as a substantive idea: see Ges. 123, 3, Anm. 1; Ewald, 332, c.). דּבּר with ב, not to speak to a person, or through any one (ב is not equals אל), but to speak with (lit., in) a person, expressive of the inwardness or urgency of the speaking (cf. Numbers 12:6, Numbers 12:8; Habakkuk 2:1; Zechariah 1:9, etc.). "Take to thyself:" i.e., marry (a wife). אשׁת זנוּנים is stronger than זונה. A woman of whoredom, is a woman whose business or means of livelihood consists in prostitution. Along with the woman, Hosea is to take children of prostitution as well. The meaning of this is, of course, not that he is first of all to take the woman, and then beget children of prostitution by her, which would require that the two objects should be connected with קח per zeugma, in the sense of "accipe uxorem et suscipe ex ea liberos" (Drus.), or "sume tibi uxorem forn. et fac tibi filios forn." (Vulg.). The children begotten by the prophet from a married harlot-wife, could not be called yaldē zenūnı̄m, since they were not illegitimate children, but legitimate children of the prophet himself; nor is the assumption, that the three children born by the woman, according to Hosea 1:3, Hosea 1:6, Hosea 1:8, were born in adultery, and that the prophet was not their father, in harmony with Hosea 1:3, "he took Gomer, and she conceived and bare him a son." Nor can this mode of escaping from the difficulty, which is quite at variance with the text, be vindicated by an appeal to the connection between the figure and the fact. For though this connection "necessarily requires that both the children and the mother should stand in the same relation of estrangement from the lawful husband and father," as Hengstenberg argues; it neither requires that we should assume that the mother had been a chaste virgin before her marriage to the prophet, nor that the children whom she bare to her husband were begotten in adultery, and merely palmed off upon the prophet as his own. The marriage which the prophet was to contract, was simply intended to symbolize the relation already existing between Jehovah and Israel, and not the way in which it had come into existence. The "wife of whoredoms" does not represent the nation of Israel in its virgin state at the conclusion of the covenant at Sinai, but the nation of the ten tribes in its relation to Jehovah at the time of the prophet himself, when the nation, considered as a whole, had become a wife of whoredom, and in its several members resembled children of whoredom. The reference to the children of whoredom, along with the wife of whoredom, indicates unquestionably priori, that the divine command did not contemplate an actual and outward marriage, but simply a symbolical representation of the relation in which the idolatrous Israelites were then standing to the Lord their God. The explanatory clause, "for the land whoreth," etc., clearly points to this. הארץ, "the land," for the population of the land (cf. Hosea 4:1). זנה מאחרי יי, to whore from Jehovah, i.e., to fall away from Him (see at Hosea 4:12).

So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim; which conceived, and bare him a son.
"And he went and took Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim; and she conceived, and bare him a son." Gomer does indeed occur in Genesis 10:2-3, as the name of a people; but we never meet with it as the name of either a man or a woman, and judging from the analogy of the names of her children, it is chosen with reference to the meaning of the word itself. Gomer signifies perfection, completion in a passive sense, and is not meant to indicate destruction or death (Chald. Marck), but the fact that the woman was thoroughly perfected in her whoredom, or that she had gone to the furthest length in prostitution. Diblaim, also, does not occur again as a proper name, except in the names of Moabitish places in Numbers 33:46 (‛Almon-diblathaim) and Jeremiah 48:22 (Beth-diblathaim); it is formed from debhēlâh, like the form 'Ephraim, and in the sense of debhēlı̄m, fig-cakes. "Daughter of fig-cakes," equivalent to liking fig-cakes, in the same sense as "loving grape-cakes" in Hosea 3:1, viz., deliciis dedita.

(Note: This is essentially the interpretation given by Jerome: "Therefore is a wife taken out of Israel by Hosea, as the type of the Lord and Saviour, viz., one accomplished in fornication, and a perfect daughter of pleasure (filia voluptatis), which seems so sweet and pleasant to those who enjoy it.")

The symbolical interpretation of these names is not affected by the fact that they are not explained, like those of the children in Hosea 1:4., since this may be accounted for very simply from the circumstance, that the woman does not now receive the names for the first time, but that she had them at the time when the prophet married her.

And the LORD said unto him, Call his name Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu, and will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel.
"And Jehovah said to him, Call his name Jezreel; for yet a little, and I visit the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu, and put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel." The prophet is directed by God as to the names to be given to his children, because the children, as the fruit of the marriage, as well as the marriage itself, are instructive signs for the idolatrous Israel of the ten tribes. The first son is named Jezreel, after the fruitful plain of Jezreel on the north side of the Kishon (see at Joshua 17:16); not, however, with any reference to the appellative meaning of the name, viz., "God sows," which is first of all alluded to in the announcement of salvation in Hosea 2:24-25, but, as the explanation which follows clearly shows, on account of the historical importance which this plain possessed for Israel, and that not merely as the place where the last penal judgment of God was executed in the kingdom of Israel, as Hengstenberg supposes, but on account of the blood-guiltiness of Jezreel, i.e., because Israel had there contracted such blood-guiltiness as was now speedily to be avenged upon the house of Jehu. At the city of Jezreel, which stood in this plain, Ahab had previously filled up the measure of his sin by the ruthless murder of Naboth, and had thus brought upon himself that blood-guiltiness for which he had been threatened with the extermination of all his house (1 Kings 21:19.). Then, in order to avenge the blood of all His servants the prophets, which Ahab and Jezebel had shed, the Lord directed Elisha to anoint Jehu king, with a commission to destroy the whole of Ahab's house (2 Kings 9:1.). Jehu obeyed this command. Not only did he slay the son of Ahab, viz., king Koram, and cause his body to be thrown upon the portion of land belonging to Naboth the Jezreelite, appealing at the same time to the word of the Lord (2 Kings 9:21-26), but he also executed the divine judgment upon Jezebel, upon the seventy sons of Ahab, and upon all the rest of the house of Ahab (2 Kings 9:30-10:17), and received the following promise from Jehovah in consequence: "Because thou hast done well in executing that which is right in mine eyes, because thou hast done to the house of Ahab according to all that was in mine heart, sons of thine of the fourth generation shall sit upon the throne of Israel" (2 Kings 10:30). It is evident from this that the blood-guiltiness of Jezreel, which was to be avenged upon the house of Jehu, is not to be sought for in the fact that Jehu had there exterminated the house of Ahab; nor, as Hitzig supposes, in the fact that he had not contented himself with slaying Joram and Jezebel, but had also put Ahaziah of Judah and his brethren to death (2 Kings 9:27; 2 Kings 10:14), and directed the massacre described in 2 Kings 10:11. For an act which God praises, and for which He gives a promise to the performer, cannot be in itself an act of blood-guiltiness. And the slaughter of Ahaziah and his brethren by Jehu, though not expressly commanded, is not actually blamed in the historical account, because the royal family of Judah had been drawn into the ungodliness of the house of Ahab, through its connection by marriage with that dynasty; and Ahaziah and his brethren, as the sons of Athaliah, a daughter of Ahab, belonged both in descent and disposition to the house of Ahab (2 Kings 8:18, 2 Kings 8:26-27), so that, according to divine appointment, they were to perish with it. Many expositors, therefore, understand by "the blood of Jezreel," simply the many acts of unrighteousness and cruelty which the descendants of Jehu had committed in Jezreel, or "the grievous sins of all kinds committed in the palace, the city, and the nation generally, which were to be expiated by blood, and demanded as it were the punishment of bloodshed" (Marck). But we have no warrant for generalizing the idea of demē in this way; more especially as the assumption upon which the explanation is founded, viz., that Jezreel was the royal residence of the kings of the house of Jehu, not only cannot be sustained, but is at variance with 2 Kings 15:8, 2 Kings 15:13, where Samaria is unquestionably described as the royal residence in the times of Jeroboam II and his son Zechariah. The blood-guiltinesses (demē) at Jezreel can only be those which Jehu contracted at Jezreel, viz., the deeds of blood recorded in 2 Kings 9 and 10, by which Jehu opened the way for himself to the throne, since there are no others mentioned.

The apparent discrepancy, however, that whereas the extermination of the royal family of Ahab by Jehu is commended by God in the second book of Kings, and Jehu is promised the possession of the throne even to the fourth generation of this sons in consequence, in the passage before us the very same act is charged against him as an act of blood-guiltiness that has to be punished, may be solved very simply by distinguishing between the act in itself, and the motive by which Jehu was instigated. In itself, i.e., regarded as the fulfilment of the divine command, the extermination of the family of Ahab was an act by which Jehu could not render himself criminal. But even things desired or commanded by God may becomes crimes in the case of the performer of them, when he is not simply carrying out the Lord's will as the servant of God, but suffers himself to be actuated by evil and selfish motives, that is to say, when he abuses the divine command, and makes it the mere cloak for the lusts of his own evil heart. That Jehu was actuated by such motives as this, is evident enough from the verdict of the historian in 2 Kings 10:29, 2 Kings 10:31, that Jehu did indeed exterminate Baal out of Israel, but that he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, from the golden calves at Bethel and Dan, to walk in the law of Jehovah the God of Israel with all his heart. "The massacre, therefore," as Calvin has very correctly affirmed, "was a crime so far as Jehu was concerned, but with God it was righteous vengeance." Even if Jehu did not make use of the divine command as a mere pretext for carrying out the plans of his own ambitious heart, the massacre itself became an act of blood-guiltiness that called for vengeance, from the fact that he did not take heed to walk in the law of God with all his heart, but continued the worship of the calves, that fundamental sin of all the kings of the ten tribes. For this reason, the possession of the throne was only promised to him with a restriction to sons of the fourth generation. On the other hand, it is no argument against this, that "the act referred to cannot be regarded as the chief crime of Jehu and his house," or that "the bloody act, to which the house of Jehu owed its elevation, never appears elsewhere as the cause of the catastrophe which befall this houses; but in the case of all the members of his family, the only sin to which prominence is given in the books of Kings, is that they did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam (2 Kings 13:2, 2 Kings 13:11; 2 Kings 14:24; 2 Kings 15:9)" (Hengstenberg). For even though this sin in connection with religion may be the only one mentioned in the books of Kings, according to the plan of the author of those books, and though this may really have been the principal act of sin; it was through that sin that the bloody deeds of Jehu became such a crime as cried to heaven for vengeance, like the sin of Ahab, and such an one also as Hosea could describe as the blood-guiltiness of Jezreel, which the Lord would avenge upon the house of Jehu at Jezreel, since the object in this case was not to enumerate all the sins of Israel, and the fact that the apostasy of the ten tribes, which is condemned in the book of Kings as the sin of Jeroboam, is represented here under the image of whoredom, shows very clearly that the evil root alone is indicated, out of which all the sins sprang that rendered the kingdom ripe for destruction. Consequently, it is not merely the fall of the existing dynasty which is threatened here, but also the suppression of the kingdom of Israel. The "kingdom of the house of Israel" is obviously not the sovereignty of the house of Jehu in Israel, but the regal sovereignty in Israel. And to this the Lord will put an end מעט, i.e., in a short time. The extermination of the house of Jehu occurred not long after the death of Jeroboam, when his son was murdered in connection with Shallum's conspiracy (2 Kings 15:8.). And the strength of the kingdom was also paralyzed when the house of Jehu fell, although fifty years elapsed before its complete destruction. For of the five kings who followed Zechariah, only one, viz., Menahem, died a natural death, and was succeeded by his son. The rest were all dethroned and murdered by conspirators, so that the overthrow of the house of Jehu may very well be called "the beginning of the end, the commencement of the process of decomposition" (Hengstenberg: compare the remarks on 2 Kings 15:10.).

And it shall come to pass at that day, that I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel.
"And it cometh to pass in that day, that I break in pieces the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel." The indication of time, "in that day," refers not to the overthrow of the house of Jehu, but to the breaking up of the kingdom of Israel, by which it was followed. The bow of Israel, i.e., its might (for the bow, as the principal weapon employed in war, is a synecdochical epithet, used to denote the whole of the military force upon which the continued existence of the kingdom depended (Jeremiah 49:35), and is also a symbol of strength generally; vid., Genesis 49:24; 1 Samuel 2:4), is to be broken to pieces in the valley of Jezreel. The paronomasia between Israel and Jezreel is here unmistakeable. And here again Jezreel is not introduced with any allusion to its appellative signification, i.e., so that the mention of the name itself is intended to indicate the dispersion or breaking up of the nation, but simply with reference to its natural character, as the great plain in which, from time immemorial, even down to the most recent period, all the great battles have been fought for the possession of the land (cf. v. Raumer, Pal. pp. 40, 41). The nation which the Lord had appointed to be the instrument of His judgment is not mentioned here. But the fulfilment shows that the Assyrians are intended, although the brief historical account given in the books of Kings does not notice the place in which the Assyrians gained the decisive victory over Israel; and the statement made by Jerome, to the effect that it was in the valley of Jezreel, is probably simply an inference drawn from this passage.

With the name of the first child, Jezreel, the prophet had, as it were with a single stroke, set before the king and the kingdom generally the destruction that awaited them. In order, however, to give further keenness to this threat, and cut off every hope of deliverance, he now announces two other births. 1 Samuel 2:6. "And she conceived again, and bare a daughter. And He (Jehovah) said to him, Call her name Unfavoured; for I will no more favour the house of Israel, that I should forgive them." The second birth is a female one, not in order to symbolize a more degenerate race, or the greater need of help on the part of the nation, but to get a name answering to the idea, and to set forth, under the figure of sons and daughters, the totality of the nation, both men and women. Lō' ruchâmâh, lit., she is not favoured; for ruchâmâh is hardly a participle with the מ dropped, since לא is never found in close connection with the participle (Ewald, 320, c.), but rather the third pers. perf. fem. in the pausal form. The child receives this name to indicate that the Lord will not continue (אוסיך) to show compassion towards the rebellious nation, as He hitherto has done, even under Jeroboam II((2 Kings 13:23). For the purpose of strengthening לא ארחם, the clause כּי נשׂא וגו is added. This can hardly be understood in any other way than in the sense of נשׂא עון ל, viz., to take away sin or guilt, i.e., to forgive it (cf. Genesis 18:24, Genesis 18:26, etc.). The explanation, "I will take away from them, sc. everything" (Hengstenberg), has no tenable support in Hosea 5:14, because there the object to be supplied is contained in the context, and here this is not the case.

And she conceived again, and bare a daughter. And God said unto him, Call her name Loruhamah: for I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel; but I will utterly take them away.
But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will save them by the LORD their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen.
"And I will favour the house of Judah, and save them through Jehovah their God; and I will not save them through bow, and sword, and war, through horses and through horsemen." By a reference to the opposite lot awaiting Judah, all false trust in the mercy of God is taken away from the Israelites. From the fact that deliverance is promised to the kingdom of Judah through Jehovah its God, Israel is to learn that Jehovah is no longer its own God, but that He has dissolved His covenant with the idolatrous race. The expression, "through Jehovah their God," instead of the pronoun "through me" (as, for example, in Genesis 19:24), is introduced with special emphasis, to show that Jehovah only extends His almighty help to those who acknowledge and worship Him as their God.

(Note: "The antithesis is to be preserved here between false gods and Jehovah, who was the God of the house of Judah. For it is just as if the prophet had said: Ye do indeed put forward the name of God; but ye worship the devil, and not God. For ye have no part in Jehovah, i.e., in that God who is the Creator of heaven and earth. For He dwells in His temple; He has bound up His faith with David," etc. - Calvin.)

And what follows, viz., "I will not save them by bow," etc., also serves to sharpen the punishment with which the Israelites are threatened; for it not only implies that the Lord does not stand in need of weapons of war and military force, in order to help and save, but that these earthly resources, on which Israel relied (Hosea 10:13), could afford no defence or deliverance from the enemies who would come upon it. Milchâmâh, "war," in connection with bow and sword, does not stand for weapons of war, but "embraces everything belonging to war - the skill of the commanders, the bravery of heroes, the strength of the army itself, and so forth" (Hengstenberg). Horses and horsemen are specially mentioned, because they constituted the main strength of an army at that time. Lastly, whilst the threat against Israel, and the promise made to Judah, refer primarily, as Hosea 2:1-3 clearly show, to the time immediately approaching, when the judgment was to burst upon the kingdom of the ten tribes, that is to say, to that attack upon Israel and Judah on the part of the imperial power of Assyria, to which Israel succumbed, whilst Judah was miraculously delivered (2 Kings 19; Isaiah 37:1); it has also a meaning which applies to all times, namely, that whoever forsakes the living God, will fall into destruction, and cannot reckon upon the mercy of God in the time of need.

Now when she had weaned Loruhamah, she conceived, and bare a son.
"And she weaned Unfavoured, and conceived, and bare a son. And He said, Call his name Not-my-people; for ye are not my people, and I will not be yours." If weaning is mentioned not merely for the sake of varying the expression, but with a deliberate meaning, it certainly cannot indicate the continued patience of God with the rebellious nation, as Calvin supposes, but rather implies the uninterrupted succession of the calamities set forth by the names of the children. As soon as the Lord ceases to compassionate the rebellious tribes, the state of rejection ensues, so that they are no longer "my people," and Jehovah belongs to them no more. In the last clause, the words pass with emphasis into the second person, or direct address, "I will not be to you," i.e., will no more belong to you (cf. Psalm 118:6; Exodus 19:5; Ezekiel 16:8). We need not supply 'Elohim here, and we may not weaken לא אהיה לכם into "no more help you, or come to your aid." For the fulfilment, see 2 Kings 17:18.

Then said God, Call his name Loammi: for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God.
Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God.
(Heb. Bib. Hosea 2:1-3). To the symbolical action, which depicts the judgment that falls blow after blow upon the ten tribes, issuing in the destruction of the kingdom, and the banishment of its inhabitants, there is now appended, quite abruptly, the saving announcement of the final restoration of those who turn to the Lord.

(Note: The division adopted in the Hebrew text, where these verses are separated from the preceding ones, and joined to the next verse, is opposed to the general arrangement of the prophetic proclamations, which always begin with reproving the sins, then describe the punishment or judgment, and close with the announcement of salvation. The division adopted by the lxx and Vulg., and followed by Luther (and Eng. ver.: Tr.), in which these two verses form part of the first chapter, and the new chapter is made to commence with Hosea 1:3 (of the Hebrew), on account of its similarity to Hosea 1:4, is still more unsuitable, since this severs the close connection between the subject-matter of Hosea 1:2 and that of Hosea 1:3 in the most unnatural way.)

Hosea 1:10

(Heb. Bib. Hosea 2:1). "And the number of the sons of Israel will be as the sand of the sea, which is not measured and not counted; and it will come to pass at the place where men say to them, Ye are not my people, it will be said to them, Sons of the living God." It might appear as though the promise made to the patriarchs, of the innumerable increase of Israel, were abolished by the rejection of the ten tribes of Israel predicted here. But this appearance, which might confirm the ungodly in their false security, is met by the proclamation of salvation, which we must connect by means of a "nevertheless" with the preceding announcement of punishment. The almost verbal agreement between this announcement of salvation and the patriarchal promises, more especially in Genesis 22:17 and Genesis 32:13, does indeed naturally suggest the idea, that by the "sons of Israel," whose innumerable increase is here predicted, we are to understand all the descendants of Jacob or of Israel as a whole. But if we notice the second clause, according to which those who are called "not-my-people" will then be called "sons of the living God;" and still more, if we observe the distinction drawn between the sons of Israel and the sons of Judah in Genesis 32:11, this idea is proved to be quite untenable, since the "sons of Israel" can only be the ten tribes. We must assume, therefore, that the prophet had in his mind only one portion of the entire nation, namely, the one with which alone he was here concerned, and that he proclaims that, even with regard to this, the promise in question will one day be fulfilled. In what way, is stated in the second clause. At the place where (בּלמקום אשׁר does not mean "instead of" or "in the place of," as the Latin loco does; cf. Leviticus 4:24, Leviticus 4:33; Jeremiah 22:12; Ezekiel 21:35; Nehemiah 4:14) men called them Lō'-‛ammı̄, they shall be called sons of the living God. This place must be either Palestine, where their rejection was declared by means of this name, or the land of exile, where this name became an actual truth. The correctness of the latter view, which is the one given in the Chaldee, is proved by Genesis 32:11, where their coming up out of the land of exile is spoken of, from which it is evident that the change is to take place in exile. Jehovah is called El chai, the living God, in opposition to the idols which idolatrous Israel had made for itself; and "sons of the living God" expresses the thought, that Israel would come again into the right relation to the true God, and reach the goal of its divine calling. For the whole nation was called and elevated into the position of sons of Jehovah, through its reception into the covenant with the Lord (compare Deuteronomy 14:1; Deuteronomy 32:19, with Exodus 4:22).

Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head, and they shall come up out of the land: for great shall be the day of Jezreel.
The restoration of Israel will be followed by its return to the Lord. Hosea 1:11. "And the sons of Judah and the sons of Israel gather together, and appoint themselves one head, and come up out of the land; for great is the day of Jezreel." The gathering together, i.e., the union of Judah and Israel, presupposes that Judah will find itself in the same situation as Israel; that is to say, that it will also be rejected by the Lord. The object of the union is to appoint themselves one head, and go up out of the land. The words of the two clauses recal to mind the departure of the twelve tribes of Israel out of Egypt. The expression, to appoint themselves a head, which resembles Numbers 14:4, where the rebellious congregation is about to appoint itself a head to return to Egypt, points back to Moses; and the phrase, "going up out of the land," is borrowed from Exodus 1:10, which also serves to explain הארץ with the definite article. The correctness of this view is placed beyond all doubt by Exodus 2:14-15, where the restoration of rejected Israel is compared to leading it through the desert to Canaan; and a parallel is drawn between it and the leading up out of Egypt in the olden time. It is true that the banishment of the sons of Israel out of Canaan is not predicted disertis verbis in what precedes; but it followed as clearly as possible from the banishment into the land of their enemies, with which even Moses had threatened the people in the case of continued apostasy (Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28). Moses had, in fact, already described the banishment of rebellious Israel among the heathen in so many words, as carrying them back into Egypt (Deuteronomy 28:68), and had thereby intimated that Egypt was the type of the heathen world, in the midst of which Israel was to be scattered abroad. On the basis of these threatenings of the law, Hosea also threatens ungodly Ephraim with a return to Egypt in Hosea 8:13 and Hosea 9:3. And just as in these passages Egypt is a type of the heathen lands, into which Israel is to be driven away on account of its apostasy from the Lord; so, in the passage before us, Canaan, to which Israel is to be led up out of Egypt, is a type of the land of the Lord, and the guidance of them to Canaan a figurative representation of the reunion of Israel with its God, and of its reinstatement in the full enjoyment of the blessings of salvation, which are shadowed forth in the fruits and productions of Canaan. (For further remarks, see Hosea 2:14, Hosea 2:15.) Another point to be noticed is the use of the word 'echâd, one (single) head, i.e., one prince or king. The division of the nation into two kingdoms is to cease; and the house of Israel is to turn again to Jehovah, and to its king David (Hosea 3:5). The reason assigned for this promise, in the words "for great is (will be) the day of Jezreel," causes not little difficulty; and this cannot be removed by giving a different meaning to the name Jezreel, on the ground of vv. 24, 25, from that which it has in Hosea 1:4-5. The day of Jezreel can only be the day on which the might of Israel was broken in the valley of Jezreel, and the kingdom of the house of Israel was brought to an end (Hosea 1:4). This day is called great, i.e., important, glorious, because of its effects and consequences in relation to Israel. The destruction of the might of the ten tribes, the cessation of their kingdom, and their expulsion into exile, form the turning-point, through which the conversion of the rebellious to the Lord, and their reunion with Judah, are rendered possible. The appellative meaning of יזרעאל, to which there was no allusion at all in Hosea 1:4-5, is still kept in the background to a great extent even here, and only so far slightly hinted at, that in the results which follow to the nation, from the judgment poured out upon Israel in Jezreel, the valley of Jezreel becomes a place in which God sows seed for the renovation of Israel.

Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch [1857-78].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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