I had a very busy weekend full of things I’d promised other people I’d do, so I didn’t get much chance to post this, though I did read through this chapter several times in anticipation for making this post. At first I was a little let down by this chapter. Yes, it is God’s word, but it didn’t seem at first to hold all that much information that would be useful for people today. Of course, Rabbi Akiva is quoted as saying (not exact quote, please forgive) “If you read the scripture and it doesn’t speak to you today, then dance for JOY, for God has prepared you for a day yet unseen.” His idea here is that if scripture doesn’t speak to you where you are right now in your spiritual walk, one day it will, and you’ll be glad you read it way back then.
Thankfully, though, God blessed me to find meaning even for today in this chapter, and I think it’s a rather sobering conclusion. Go with me…
The drama continues in the life and prophetic ministry of Hosea as God instructs him again regarding his wife, Gomer. This time apparently Gomer has sold herself into prostitution and Hosea is sent by God to buy his own wife back. Frankly, I don’t know what I’d do if put in a similar situation, and just thinking about being in his shoes makes me want to curl up and die. Imagine for a moment if your spouse did this and you had to buy them back (or if you are not married, picture if your dad had to buy back your mom). Not a good feeling, is it? That is but a taste of God’s despair at his people Israel’s unrepentant hearts as they worship other gods and prostitute themselves to Baal.
When we think of “prophets” in the Tanakh, we generally think of the big guys (Moses, Samuel, Elijah, Elisha, Jeremiah etc). But back in those days, there were entire groups of prophets, also called “the company of prophets” (1 Kings 22:6 speaks of 400 prophets of the LORD, and 2 Kings 2:7 speaks of a detachment of 50). And so there were hundreds of prophets which the books of Samuel and Kings record as actually prophesying. So even the so called “minor prophets” were big comparatively – hey, they got their own book in the Bible! Later in his life, Elijah had one of these companies of prophets following him, and Elijah was a prophet to the Kingdom of Israel during the divided kingdom. So it’s not hard to extrapolate that there were still other prophets of the LORD in Israel when Hosea was a prophet (maybe not as many, but at least some). Can you imagine the reaction of the other prophets when Hosea went and bought his wife back from prostitution and adultery? It must have seemed completely insane! I’m sure more than one prophet gave him some advice on seeking divorce. Wouldn’t you? And yet God does not totally reject his adulterous people and instead takes them back.
Let’s dig into the scripture of Chapter 3. It’s a short chapter (5 verses) with alot of meat. Continue reading
Hosea now begins his first outright prophecy. Chapter 1 had prophecy in it too, but I would guess that God did not have Hosea wait 3-4 years (maybe more) after taking Gomer as his wife for his children to be born before starting the rest of his ministry. More likely to me is that God told him this information in Chapter 1 and then as the children were born, God had Hosea name them appropriately while still continuing his prophetic mission, as recounted in the rest of the book. So Hosea could have spoken these words of prophecy in Chapter 2 the first day on the job, or perhaps years later. It’s hard to tell, but I would put it closer to the start. The words in Chapter 2 paint a vivid word picture of what the people of Israel were like and what God would do to them for their disobedience. So, let’s get to it.
According to the Rabbis, Hosea was of the tribe of Reuben. His father as stated in the book is Beeri and the Rabbis link that to Beerah, prince of the Reubenites who was exiled to Assyria by Tiglath-Pilneser (1 Chron. 5:6). According to Gen. Rabbah 84, he received the Torah from Elisha, and according to Rambam, from Zechariah son of Jehoiada the priest. The Rabbis also tell us that if a prophet’s father is mentioned along with the prophet, then his father too was a prophet. They attribute the verses of Isaiah 8:19-20 to Beerah, but since it was so small and not enough for a book it was appended to the book of Isaiah (Leviticus Rabbah 6:6; see Rashi to Isaiah 8:19).
Join me as we look at this first chapter in-depth. Continue reading