Hosea was roughly contemporary with Isaiah, but living in Israel, the northern kingdom. He is the only native of the northern kingdom whose writing survives in scripture[6 p.5]. He felt that God was calling him to marry a prostitute, have children with her, and give them strange names. She continued to work as a prostitute, and his pain was a sign of God's pain when his people worship other gods. His insistence that God experiences pain and anger refutes the idea that God is impassive[7 p.50]. This is consistent with Hosea's prophetic focus on relationship with God and fidelity, unlike Amos who focuses on righteousness and justice[6 p.12].
Hosea uses a number of analogies from human relationships to illustrate God's relationship with his people: a couple (chapters 1–3), a father and son (11:1–4), and a mother and her child (11:8).[7 p.52]
Hosea's prophecy is about God's mercy and is characterised by acting out the message. The text shifts frequently between first and third person[6 p.6]. Compare Hosea 3 with Hosea 1:2. Some commentators say that Chapter 3 looks like an editorial addition, both in content and style: it uses different vocabulary—"gods" rather than "Baalim"; also the phrase "David their king" is like other "D" interjections promoting the Southern kingdom, as is the phrase "seek the Lord their God". However, Gottwald[1 p.359] says the text is "mostly written down by the prophet or at his dictation". Unfortunately for those not reading the original text, the prophecy uses a lot of puns and word-play which are lost in translation[6 p.7].
The first verse tells us that the prophecy began in the reign of Uzziah, cf. Isaiah 1:1. The prophet foretold (1:4) and then experienced the imposition of direct rule from Assyria of most of the Northern kingdom (Samaria escaped) under Tiglath-Pilezer III in the years 734–732 BCE[2 p.16f].
© David Billin 2002–2022