For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2001 James Melough

1:1.  “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 (Jehoash), king of Israel.”

The opening words remind us that Hosea, like all the other writers of Scripture, was simply God’s amanuensis: he wrote what God dictated.

His name means to save, and is particularly appropriate since his prophecy was designed, not just to lead the men of Israel to repentance, but to lead the men of all generations to repent in order to escape the righteous judgment with which God must visit rebellion (sin).

“... the son of Beeri.”  Since Beeri means “my well,” and a well is one of the biblical symbols of God’s Word, Hosea’s being a son of Beeri should remind us that those who would be God’s spokesmen must also be “sons of Beeri,” i.e., diligent students of His Word, for apart from a knowledge of, and obedience to that Word, effective service is impossible.  The knowledge of Scripture, however, goes beyond familiarity with the literal language, for woven into the fabric of the literal is a transcendent spiritual meaning which can be discerned only by the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, that ministry being cut off when He is grieved or quenched, hence Paul’s warning, “Grieve not the Holy Spirit,” Eph 4:30, and “Quench not the Spirit,” 1 Th 5:19.  He is grieved when we do what He forbids; and quenched when we refuse to do what He commands.

“... in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah....” Uzziah, meaning my strength is Jehovah, was a good king during most of his long reign (c.791 to 740 BC) during which God prospered him, but in the latter years of his reign he foolishly intruded into the Temple to burn incense, for which God smote him with leprosy, see 2 Ch 26.

He was succeeded by his son Jotham meaning Jehovah is perfect, a good king whose sixteen year reign is recorded in 2 Ch 27.  His successor was his son Ahaz meaning possessor, who brought Israel to virtual ruin during his sixteen year reign by provoking the anger of God through his evil deeds, see 2 Ch 28.  He was succeeded by his son Hezekiah meaning strengthened of Jehovah, a good king whose twenty-nine year reign is described in 2 Ch 29-32, his righteous reforms securing God’s blessing and the recovery of Israel from the evil brought upon her by the wickedness of Ahaz.

Inasmuch as Judah meaning, he shall be praised, speaks of praise or worship, and since four is the biblical number that speaks of testing, the recorded activity of these four kings of Judah teaches truth relative to both the blessing and the judgment of God.  Obedience, as demonstrated in the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, and Hezekiah, brings blessing; disobedience, as set before us in the evil reign of Ahaz, brings judgment.

“... and in the days of Jeroboam (Jeroboam II), the son of Joash (Jehoash), king of Israel.”  Jeroboam, meaning let the people contend: he will multiply the people, reigned forty-one years in Israel (2 Ki 14:23), and did evil in the sight of the Lord. 

As to why Hosea, whose ministry was primarily to Israel and  in a lesser degree to Judah, should have mentioned four kings of Judah, and only one of Israel, the suggestion offered by most commentators is that God may have been indicating His disapproval of the division of the nation into Israel (the ten tribes), and Judah (Judah and Benjamin), His desire being that the twelve tribes should have been united under the sovereignty of the Davidic line of kings.

Israel seems to represent the professing, but apostate mass of the nation; and Judah, the believing remnant.  The mixture of good and evil found in the four kings of Judah therefore reminds us that that same mixture is unfortunately found also in the lives of genuine believers, the true Church; but the absence of any record of good in connection with Jeroboam declares that in God’s sight there is nothing good in the apostate travesty masquerading as the true church.  Behind its mask of religion is a mass of humanity in contention with God; and in contrast with the few who constitute the true Church, the great harlot (Re 17:1-6) numbers her devotees in billions, for it is to be remembered that following the rapture of the true Church there will be left on earth, for judgment, the great ecumenical travesty composed of every false religion on earth.

Joash means Jehovah has become man, and Jeroboam’s being his son may point to the fact that the great false church had a good origin: it began with those who had been redeemed by the death of the Lord Jesus Christ Who was “God manifest in the flesh (become man),” 1 Tim 3:16, but that first believing generation hadn’t passed away until the apostasy portrayed by Jeroboam had already set in.

1:2.  “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.”

This verse prepares us to recognize that the prophet’s marriage was to be a typological portrait of that which existed between Jehovah and Israel, as it is written, “Surely as a wife treacherously departeth from her husband, so have ye dealt treacherously with me, O house of Israel, saith the Lord,” Jer 3:20; see also Eze 16.

To understand the command, “... take unto thee a wife of whoredoms” as meaning that the prophet was to marry a woman who was a harlot, is to distort the typological picture, for Scripture makes it clear that when Israel became the wife of Jehovah it was in all the purity of her redemption from the bondage and sin of Egypt, as it is written, “Thus saith the Lord; I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness .... Israel was holiness unto the Lord,” Jer 2:2-3.  God’s command to Hosea was not to marry a harlot, but that the wife he would marry would become a harlot, as had Israel spiritually.

Neither do the words “... and children of whoredoms,” mean that the prophet was to marry a woman who already had children as the result of a previous life of harlotry, but that some of the children she would bear would be the result of her adultery.

“... for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the Lord,” makes it clear that the adulteress which Gomer would become was what Israel had already become spiritually through her abandonment of Jehovah, and her turning to worship the Baals of the Canaanites.  No spiritual mind will have difficulty seeing in Israel’s spiritual harlotry, not only that of today’s world in general, and of the apostate professing church, but sadly also that of the true Church, for to deny that very many genuine believers give to this present evil world love, time, money, talent, etc., which belong to God, is to declare our own spiritual blindness.

1:3.  “So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim; which conceived, and bare him a son.”

Gomer means completion; and Diblaim the double fig-cake.

In becoming Hosea’s wife, Gomer fulfilled the meaning of her name, for Scripture makes it clear that the woman as a wife is the complement or completeness of the man, see Ge 2:18 where “meet,” meaning counterpart: complement: completion, is used to describe Eve as Adam’s bride; the Church as the Bride of Christ being also described as “the fulness (complement, completeness) of him (Christ) who filleth all in all,” Eph 1:23.

Her being the daughter of Diblaim the double fig cake is also significant, for Israel is portrayed in Scripture by three trees: the vine representing her as she was in the past, “a vine brought out of Egypt,” Ps 80:8; the fig representing her as she has been since AD 70 until the present, see Mt 21:19 where the cursed and withered fig tree clearly represents Israel suffering the chastisement of God; but see also Mt 24:32 where the fig tree beginning to bud again is also clearly a typological picture of her ultimate and imminent restoration, the “budding” beginning with the restoration of her autonomy in 1948, and continuing in the return of multitudes of Jews to Palestine since then till the present.

God’s chastisements are always designed to produce repentance and its attendant blessing, this truth running like a golden thread through the otherwise dark fabric of this prophecy, and the mention of Diblaim may be the oblique announcement of that truth.

“... which conceived, and bare him a son.”  Virtually every commentator has noticed the omission of “him” in verses 6 and 8 in connection with the births of the other two children born to Gomer, and have construed that omission as indicating that Hosea was not the father of those other two children.  There doesn’t appear to be any good reason to reject this conclusion, particularly since it seems to be the fulfilment of God’s declaration that Gomer would play the harlot and thus make herself a type of Israel in her spiritual harlotry against Jehovah.

1:4.  “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.”

Jezreel (known also as Esdraelon), and meaning it will be sown of God, is the name of an extremely fertile plain lying west and slightly south of Galilee, and stretching to the Mediterranean Sea; and also of a town of the same name located on the southern end of the plain.  In the context of this prophecy “... the blood of Jezreel” begins with Jezebel’s murder of Naboth so that her husband king Ahab could have Naboth’s vineyard, see 1 Kings 21. Afterwards God anointed Jehu to be king of Israel, see 2 Ki 9, and commissioned him to avenge Ahab’s murder of Naboth, which he did, slaying Joram (Jehoram) Ahab’s son who had become king of Israel following the death of his father Ahab, and casting his body into the plot of ground that had belonged to Naboth, see 2 Ki 9:24-26.  He then proceeded to slay Jezebel the wife of Ahab, in Jezreel, see 2 Ki 9:30-37, and all the family of Ahab, also in Jezreel, see 2 Ki 10:1-11, 17.  In addition he slew all the priests of Baal, see 2 Ki 10:18-28.

In spite of much good that he did, however, Jehu went beyond God’s command and slew also Ahaziah king of Judah, 2 Ki 9:27, and Ahaziah’s brethren, 2 Ki 10:13-14; and in addition it is recorded in 2 Ki 10:29 that, “... from the sins of Jeroboam ... who made Israel to sin, Jehu departed not from after them, to wit, the golden calves that were in Bethel, and that were in Dan,” and in verse 31 we read, “But Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the Lord God of Israel ... for he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam, which made Israel to sin.”  It was for all of this that God would “avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu. 

God, however, graciously taking account of Jehu’s obedience in exterminating the house of Ahab, promised him, “... thy children of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel,” 2 Ki 10:30, that promise being fulfilled in the extention of Jehu’s dynasty through the reigns of his four sons, Jehoahaz, Jehoash (Joash), Jeroboam II, and Zachariah.

We see therefore that there was terrible bloodshed  associated with Jezreel, beginning with the shedding of the blood of righteous Naboth (including that of his sons, see 2 Ki 9:26), that blood being avenged by Jehu’s slaying in the same place Ahab’s wicked wife Jezebel and all his sons.  But more blood was spilt in connection with Jezreel when Jehu, without command from God, slew Ahaziah king of Judah and his sons, and it seems that it is specifically that latter blood that is referred to here in Hosea 1:4 when God says, “I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu.”

Jezreel’s bloody past, however, foreshadows what is yet to be in a day now surely not far off, for it is in that same valley of Jezreel that the terrible conflict of Armageddon meaning hill of slaughter will occur, see Re 16:13-16.  (There is no place known specifically as Armageddon, but most commentators are agreed that the reference is to a place in the vicinity of Megiddo, or to the wider area known as the plain of Jezreel, known also as Esdraelon).

“... and will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel.”  The direct fulfillment of this came in 721 BC when the Assyrian captivity of Israel began, but it points also to that which brought Jewish autonomy to an end in AD 70, both of these earlier destructions of Israel foreshadowing the far more terrible destruction that will come in the great tribulation.

Ironside, pointing out the dispensational aspect of the chain of events that began with Jezebel’s murder of Naboth, writes, “Israel, according to Isa 5, is Jehovah’s vineyard.  Of Israel therefore the vineyard of Jezreel speaks. They were ‘sown of God’ in the land of Canaan to be Jehovah’s portion.  But they hired false witnesses against the Lord of the vineyard, the Righteous One, who would not give to the enemy His rightful inheritance.  By wicked hands they slew the Husbandman, and claimed the vineyard as their own.  Because of this the Gentile oppressor was permitted to overturn the kingdom, and power was transferred to the nations.  The awful prayer, ‘His blood be on us, and on our children!’ has been terribly answered, as the antitypical blood of Jezreel witnesses.  In the very place where they slew the Lord of glory their blood has been poured out as wine bursting from the winepress, and they have been devoured by the dogs - the unclean Gentiles.”

1:5.  “And it shall come to pass at that day, that I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel.”

The breaking of the bow of Israel is a poetic synonym for the cutting off of Israel, and continues to point to the Assyrian captivity of Israel, to the Diaspora of AD 70, and also to the now imminent Tribulation judgments.

1:6.  “And she conceived again, and bare a daughter.  And God said unto him, Call her name Lo-ruhamah not shown mercy: for I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel; but I will utterly take them away.”

As noted above, the absence of “him” after “bare” has led many to conclude that this daughter had been begotten through adultery, and if correct, continues to emphasize that the Israel represented by Gomer, had been guilty of spiritual adultery against Jehovah her Husband.  As this daughter therefore was the fruit of adultery, so was the spiritual fruit resulting from Israel’s having given to the Baals of Canaan the love and worship which belonged to Jehovah.  That fruit, their idolatry, provoked His righteous anger, and impelled Him to withdraw the mercy He had so freely bestowed upon the ungrateful nation; and with His mercy withdrawn, she became the prey of her enemies who proceeded to destroy her: that destruction coming then in the form of the Assyrain captivity for Israel, the Babylonian a few years later for Judah, those judgments being the precursors of that which overtook a later generation of the same thankless adulterous nation in AD 70, all of them pointing to the destruction that will bring misery and death to all except a small believing remnant of that same nation and of the Gentiles in the coming Tribulation.

We are missing the message, however, if we fail to see that Israel’s history is but the prewritten history of the professing church, for she has followed all too faithfully in Israel’s idolatrous footsteps, the equivalent of that nation’s worship of the gods of Canaan being Christendom’s worship of money, pleasure, ease, education, and all the other worthless things that result in rejection of God and His kingdom.  The judgments of the Assyrian captivity for Israel, the Babylonian for Judah, and the terrible slaughter and scattering of the nation by Rome in AD 70, are all foreshadowings of the dreadful judgments that will ravish the earth in the coming Tribulation, bringing death to billions of Jews and Gentiles alike through war, famine, and plague worse than any the world has ever known.

The contemplation of these national and global judgments, however, shouldn’t cause us to forget that every day God’s judgment overtakes thousands as Death stalks silently through the earth sweeping the unbelieving into hell to await the dread final judgment of the great white throne that will result in their being cast, body, soul, and spirit, into the eternal torment of the lake of fire.  If the men and women of this present evil age don’t see in Hosea’s warnings to Israel and Judah God’s warning to them to flee from the wrath to come, then they are reading them with blinded eyes and darkened minds, the end result being that they, like foolish Israel and Judah will find themselves suddenly overtaken by irrevocable and eternal judgment.

1:7.  “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.”

Judah’s day of grace had not yet ended, for she hadn’t yet abandoned God, as had her evil sister Israel, hence His assurance that she was still the object of His protecting care.

It is generally agreed that the deliverance mentioned here was that of 701 BC, recorded in 2 Ki 19:35, when the Lord, during the night, caused 185,000 of the Assyrians encamped against Jerusalem to die in their sleep, so that the survivors withdrew without Israel’s having to lift a sword.  The same Divine power that delivered Judah out of the hand of Assyria would have been available to Israel, but she in her folly had forfeited Jehovah’s protection by forsaking Him for Baal, and seeking aid from Egypt and other nations which were as powerless to defend her as had been Assyria to destroy Judah.

He is a wise man who heeds the command given in Pr 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own underestanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths,” and relative to the wisdom which seeks those paths it is written, “Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace,” Pr 3:17.  Nothing but blessing attends submission to God’s will, and nothing but misery and ruin result from rebellion against it, for His will is “good, and  acceptable, and perfect,” Ro 12:2, as He makes “all things work together for good to them that love God,” Ro 8:28.

1:8.  “Now when she had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she conceived, and bare a son.”

Many scholars, noting this second absence of “him (Hosea)” after “bare,” as also in verse six, have concluded that this third child was also the product of adultery, and see in it the continued emphasis on Israel’s spiritual adultery against Jehovah.

1:9.  “Then said God, Call his name Lo-ammi: for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God.”

Lo-ammi means not my people, and in having Hosea so name this son God continues to declare His anger against the nation’s great sin, and His rejection of Israel as His people.  It is a fearful thing when a man or a nation exhausts God’s patience so that they become the objects of His wrath rather than His blessing.  Foolish Israel, however, ignored the warning, as do the men of the world today relative to His warning concerning their souls, “My spirit shall not always strive with man,” Ge 6:3, and the further warning, “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy,” Pr 29:1.  As judgment overtook an Israel that had ignored God’s warning, so will eternal judgment the man who sins away his day of grace and passes over that invisible line which separates God’s mercy from His wrath.

1:10.  “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.”

These last two verses of chapter one are the first two verses of chapter two in the Hebrew bible, but that is a matter of little significance.  What is important is that even in the execution of judgment God remembers mercy, and here He looks from the generation that He must destroy because they would not repent and seek His mercy, to another generation of that same people, the believing remnant that will emerge alive out of the Tribulation to be the new believing Israel that will enjoy in the Millennium the fulness of the blessings promised to Abraham in Ge 22:17, “... I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall posess the gate of his enemies.”

It is instructive to note that in Genesis Abraham’s seed was to be multiplied “as the stars ... and as the sand,” the stars representing his spiritual seed, i.e., all believers; and the sand, his literal physical descendants.  In this present verse, however, only the sand is mentioned, so that the reference is to those Israelites, the believing remnant, who will pass alive out of the great Tribulation into the millennial kingdom. (It is to be noted that all, Gentiles as well as Jews, who pass out of the Tribulation into the millennial earth, will be believers; but with the multiplication of their descendants, the population in the Millennium will consist of unbelievers also, for the children born in the Millennium, like those of every age, will be born sinners requiring a new spiritual birth to fit them for the eternal state that will continue after the Millennium will have run its course).  That rebellious generation portrayed by Lo-ammi, of which God said, “Ye are not my people,” will yet be replaced by the believing generation which, in the Millennium, will be called “the sons of the living God.”

1:11.  “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.”

In the Millennium Israel will no longer be divided into Israel and Judah.  As a nation united again, they will be unanimous in their acceptance of a literal descendant of David as their king, the government in the Millennium being again theocratic as in the days of David and Solomon who reigned as God’s regents.  That literal physical descendant of David will also rule from Jerusalem as Christ’s regent in the Millennium, while the Lord Himself, with us and the resurrected believers of all the ages, will be ruling from the heavenly Jerusalem, which, it seems, will be poised over the millennial earth, but not actually descending to earth until the new heavens and earth that will follow the Millennium.  That the king ruling from the earthly Jerusalem in the Millennium will not be the Lord Jesus Christ is certified by the fact that that king will have literal sons, and will offer sacrifices, i.e., he will worship, something Christ does not do for He is God, see Ezk 46.

“... and they shall come up out of the land,” doesn’t seem to relate to the regathering of Israel into the land in the Millennium, for clearly they are seen here as already in the land.  The explanation that seems most satisfactory is that that believing remnant, regathered into the land, will multiply exceedingly like seed sown and sprouting up out of the ground, see, for example, Jer 31:27; Ho 2:23, and Zec 10:9 where God speaks of sowing His earthly people as seed, that sowing resulting in their increase just as the sowing of literal seed produces increase of it.  The final clause, “for great shall be the day of Jezreel,” in the present context, seems to support this interpretation, “great” being used here obviously in a good sense of multiplication.  Paul, in fact, refers to these verses in Ro 9:25-26, “As he saith also in Osee (Hosea), I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved.  And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God.”

[Hosea 2]


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough