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Bible Study, The Minor Prophets: Hosea 1 - 3

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Posted on CCPC's website 2022

The Minor Prophets Study Index page.

      This is a long term, in depth, wide focus study of the Minor Prophets, drawing as much from the history of their times as possible, as well as looking at the original language of the prophet.

      Which, in this case, includes Old Testament Prophet-like sayings such as: “For the wind they sow, and the whirlwind reap.” - Hosea 8:7

Hosea Background:
     His name means “he saves” or “he helps” and is based on a form of the Hebrew name of Joshua, “Yehoshua”, but nothing else is known of him before he comes into subject matter of his book. From the text, it is reasonable to guess that he lived in Israel after the kingdom split in two.
     We have no idea who actually wrote the story, or collected the sayings and poetry of Hosea and combined them as one, which we'll see in the study.
     The book was written somewhere in the middle to late eighth century BC (750 - 720) by the names of the kings listed in 1:1 (although there are no firm dates on those reigns). When the Northern Kingdom of Israel was falling apart. His narrative ends before the kingdom does when the Assyrians capture it in two phases: most of the kingdom in 733 and the region of Samaria in 720.

Chapter One

     The “de bar” (utterance / speech) of the YHWH (Yahweh / Lord) came to...
     The four kings of Judah include three kings that are often listed as 'good', and one, Ahaz, that was 'bad'. As for the listed king of Israel, Jeroboam, son of Jehoash, which would make Hosea's king one Jerohoam II, he was a bad king for forty years.

     The verse uses the proper name of God, the Tetragrammaton “YHWH” (Lord of Lords), but the message is something that is strange to us.....
     Hosea is told to take a wife of “ze·nu·nim” (can mean a prostitute, but also refers to general promiscuity (a non-virgin)) and have children, because the land had done the same thing with God.

     “way·ye·lek” (So he went).....
     The book is in third person. Whoever wrote it is talking about Hosea and his adventures, not as if it is Hosea that is writing “and I went and married”.
     ... “way·yiq·qah” (acquired / took) Gomer (her name is the same in Hebrew and English) who was the daughter of Diblaim. (the word means 'two fig cakes', perhaps he was a baker). She has a son.

4 and 5
     The Lord tells Hosea (again, this is in the third person) to name the boy Jezreel “God sows”...

“Why does that name sound familiar?” Tangent:
     When dealing with the Minor Prophets, we have to shift gears in the Geography department to go back and look at things with their Hebrew names instead of their Greek/Latin names. Such is the case here where a given well known feature has well known Hebrew, and Greek, and now even Arabic names, and had had a well known event happen there.
     In some cases the Hebrew name's location in the current world is not certain, but that is not the case when you're looking for this valley.
     Perhaps second to the Jordan Valley for mentions in Biblical History, the Jezreel Valley also known as Esdraelon / Marj ibn Amira, where several major battles have been fought over the years such as in September of 1918 during WWI, and the area was also involved in the American Zion Commonwealth, and has a name with a lot more meaning in the NT, as the Valley of Megiddo. AKA: Armageddon.
     “oh, that's why it sounded familiar
end tangent

     ....“me at” (in a little while (by God's timeline)) “u·pa· qad·ti” (I will visit, 'justice' is implied (NOTE: 'avenge' (punish/revenge) is “na qam” in Hebrew) the “de me et” (shed blood) of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu, and will bring an end to the kingdom of Israel.
     And will break the bow of Israel in the Valley of Jezreel.

     This appears to be a reference to when Jehu killed the previous king, who by all accounts was a 'bad king', and had been anointed by Elisha to be the next king. Yet then Jehu instigated the wholesale massacre of the family, and even distant relatives of the previous King, in 2 Kings 9 and 10. Yes, he did eliminate a great deal of Baal worship, but then he tolerated some idol worship in his kingdom, see 10: 29. Jehu also sent tribute to the Assyrian empire for military support against another enemy where he and his delegation are depicted bringing gifts to Shalmaneser III. So, in the end, Jehu was really no better than the king he replaced.

     A daughter was born and named Lo-ruhamah, the name means “no mercy”, and the Lord will have no more mercy on the house of Israel (Northern Kingdom) and will “na so es sa” (completely remove (the meaning of the words repeats for emphasis)) them.

     And yet on the house of “ye·hu·dah” (Judah, the southern kingdom) “a ra hem” (I will have mercy) and “we·ho·wo·sa·tim” (will save them) by YHWH their God, and not by bow, sword, battle, or horses and horsemen.
     not trusting in swords and horses... there's a song about that, or rather a Psalm (20)

     Gomer weaned the girl and had a boy.

     God said to name him “Lo-ammi” for 'you are not my people' and 'I will not be your God'.

     In this verse we see a restatement of the promise to Abraham in Genesis 12: 1... but looking down instead of up, as with Jacob in Genesis 32. An image David used in Psalm 139, and is mentioned by Isaiah in chapter 10. And as is mentioned in the apocryphal Ecclesiasticus 1:2:
“Who can number the sand of the sea, and the drops of rain, and the days of eternity?”
     The image is later used in Romans 9 as well, and could be where a certain beach-going angel stands in Revelation 12.

     The sons of Judah and Israel shall be gathered and appoint for themselves a leader, for great will be the day of Jezreel. (period, the punctuation here will be important in a minute)

     This prophecy is fascinating.
     Some would say that it came to pass with one of the later Jewish rebellions against the Seleucid empire with the rebellion led by Judah (Judas) Maccabeus who did have some success, and made overtures to the infant Roman Republic with a treaty. However, they were soon crushed when Rome didn't live up to their obligations even though they usually supported anybody who was fighting the Seleucids and especially king Demetrius, who had some history with Rome. The King send an army of over 20,000, and it was a bad end for the Maccabees.
     Others would point to the Jewish Revolt against Rome and the bad end of Jerusalem in 70 under Titus, which concluded with the siege of Masada and the bad end to the thousand or so defenders holding the mountain top fortress a couple of years later.

Chapter Two

     The message continues.
     “im ru” (the word is a command: say / speak) to your brothers, (comma) “ammi” (My People) - (hyphen) and to your sisters, (comma) “ru ha mah” (have compassion / affection (even: love) is shown)
     It appears that he is to address Israel, once again, as his family, in spite of their behavior.

     Remember, the names of the children were “not my people” and “no mercy”, these are different words. It is worth noting here that this phrase is a command, what they are 'to say' is coming. While it seems to 'belong' with the next verse, some translations, including the Living Bible and several others place it with chapter one, after the period on the sentence about the Jezreel valley. From up here in the press box, it seems to stand alone as a buffer between chapters one and two because, remember, in the original language, there were no chapters and verses.

     This is what the brothers and sisters are to do.

     “ri bu” (complain to / quarrel with / strive against / etc) your mother, “ribu” (repeated, the word even includes the idea of a 'legal complaint') for she is not “is ti” (my woman (wife), nor am I “i sah” (her man (husband))- “we ta ser” ('let her' come out of / turn aside / depart) “ze nu ne ha” (fornication / prostitution) “mip pa neh” (from her presence / face), and her “we·na·'a·pu·pe·ha” (adultery) from between her breasts- ...

3 and 4
     lest “ap si ten nah” (I strip her) “a rum mah” (naked), “we his sag ti ha” (and exhibit (expose) her) “ke yo wm” (the day) “hiw wa le dah” (she was born)....

     ”naked as the day you were born” Yes, this is where that expression comes from. Although there are similar expressions in Ezekiel 16, as well as Job 1, and a line in Ecclesiastes 5 and elsewhere. Hosea specifically uses exactly that phrase.

     ... and make her a wilderness, a desert, and “wa ha mit ti ha” (kill / execute) her with thirst.
     And on her children- not have mercy for the sons of fornication / prostitution they are

     For “za·ne·tah” (acts like a harlot / plays the prostitute) 'their mother' “ho bi sah” (means: ashamed / confounded / disappointed) who conceived them “ki” (because) she said ' “'e·le·kah ’a·ha·r ” (I will proceed / follow behind / after) my lovers, who give me “lah mi' (food (besides just bread)) and water and wool and linen (implying all clothing and bedding) and oil and drink.

     Therefore, behold I will “sak” (raise a hedge / fence) in your way of “bas si rim” (thorns (also hooks)) and “we·ga·dar·ti” (enclose) her so she 'can not find her pathway'.

7“we·rid·de·pah” (she will pursue / chase after) her lovers, but not overtake them and “u·biq·sa·tam” (she will seek them) but not find them, and she will say 'I will go back to my husband' - first for it was “to wb” (agreeable / better) for me then than it is now.

     For she “lo ya·de·‘ah” (did not perceive / know / discern) that I “na·tat·ti” (gave / granted) grain and new wine and oil and “we ke sep” (silver, also: money) and “hir be ti” (increased / multiplied) “we za hab” (gold, also: precious metals), 'which' “'a su” (fashioned / prepared) for Baal.

     Therefore I will return, and take away “de·ga·ni” (my wheat / grain) in its time, and “we·ti·ro·wo·si” (my new wine) in its season “we·his·sal·tî” (and will take back) my wool and my linen given to cover her nakedness.

     Now I will uncover “nab·lu·tah” (her immodesty / shamelessness) in the sight of her lovers, and no one “yas·si·len·nah” (shall rescue / deliver her) from my hand.

     and “we his·bat·ti” (I will cease and desist) all her “me·so·w·sah” (rejoicing / exhultation / mirth) “hag gah” (festivals / feasts), her new moons, “we·sab·bat·ta” (her sabbaths) and all her appointed times and places (festivals).

     "wa·ha·sim·mo·tî" (I will make desolate / destroy) her 'grape' vines and her fig trees, of which she has boasted '"et nah" (my reward / wages) those are what her lovers have given her', so I (God) will transform them into a thicket (implying a wild forest), and the wild animals shall eat them.

     And I will punish her for the days of Baal...

"Baal? Who, or what, was Baal?" focus
     It is important to put this in context. But first, we need to clear up how the name of the local pagan god, or rather, the gods that are all riding the same bus in most of these discussions is spelled and pronounced. To correctly write the name, which is also a title in English, it would be better served to spell it “Ba'al”, which encourages the pronunciation as two syllables, more like “Bah-ahl”. So to refer to the later Canaanite god his name would be Ba'al Rapi'uma. His influence spread through sea trade to the west where a fertility god called Ba'al Hammon was worshiped about 500 BC. Which is why the text in Hosea refers to Ba'al as a plural (as is coming up in verse 16), there was simply more than one of them.
     The word in the original Hebrew and the local Cannanite languages it came out of simply means 'lord' or 'owner' depending on the context. There is also no single Ba'al. While the god worshiped throughout the ancient Israel, Syria, and Lebanon has some overall similarities as the god of storms and rain, which in the Middle East, brings you under the general topic of fertility. Ba'al (as a title) under his local name of Hadad (Adad) was the ranking god in the ancient city of Ugarit on the Mediterranean coast of today's Syria north of the modern city of Latakia. Just how ancient is Ugarit? There is evidence of the area being inhabited since the Stone Age and some fortifications may date to some 6000 years BC. Ugarit was in the area that the Hittites fought the Egyptians over during the reign of Ramesses II in 1274 BC.
     The epic story called the Ba'al Cycle tells of how Ba'al battles, and betrays, various rival gods, to become the ruler under an elder and more powerful overall ruling god El (who seldom bothered with the world of men), who allows him to build a palace suitable for a ruler. Then Ba'al Hadad, for some reason, threatens and then attacks the god of death, Mot, who defeats and kills Ba'al. Ba'al's sister retaliates against Mot and brutally defeats him and revives Ba'al. Who later returns to his throne.
     The Cycle has some differences between the various versions that have been found, and between translations of those versions, but the highlights are the same.
     It is the Canaanite Ba'al who claimed the 450 prophets that had a bad day on Mount Carmel in 1 Kings 18.

     So while the name “Ba'al” was used in Numbers for one of the local gods encountered during the invasion. When Joshua made his great speech in Joshua 24, he did not mention any of the pagan idols by name, and Ba'al isn't seen as a major player in the drama until the time of the Judges, namely chapter 2 of that book.

     Also, the 'online encyclopedia's linking Ba'al to both Zeus and the Egyptian god Set (Seth) is borderline nonsense. While they do share some attributes, it is like saying Bill Clinton and Winston Churchill are related because they both drank adult beverages, were left handed, and had an interest in 'other women' while serving in a high office. From the archaeological record, it is more likely that the fertility god that became Ba'al originated to the East with the earlier cultures of Sumer and Akkadia and any 'cross pollenization' was incidental between cultures.
End Focus
And now, we rejoin Hosea chapter 2, verse 13, already in progress.

     .... to which she “tac tir” (burned incense / offering) “la hem” (to them (the Hebrew word is plural)) she “wat ta ad” (ornamented) herself “niz mah” (ear AND nose rings) and jewels, “wat te lek” (walked after / pursued) her lovers, but me “sa·ke·hah” (forgot / ignored), says YHWH.

     Therefore, behold, I will “me·pat·te·ha” (seduce / allure) and lead her into the wilderness, and “we·dib·bar·ti” (speak) to her in her “lib bah” (heart).

     And I “we·na·tat·ti” (will bestow / give) her vineyards there, and the Valley of Achor (a canyon north of Jericho mentioned in Joshue 7 as where an Israeli warrior named Achan came to a bad end, and offsets a western valley in Isaiah 65.) as an entrance of “tiq·wah” (hope / expectation) and “we·'a·ne·tah” (she shall 'utter tunefully'), as in the days of her youth, as the time/day when she came up from the land of Egypt.

     And it shall be in that day that YHWH says, that you will call me “'i si” (my husband) and no longer call me “ba' li” (my master).

     The difference here is telling. Once Israel returns to God, He will think of them once again as His People.

     “wa·ha·si·ro·ti” (for I will cause to be removed) “se·mo·wt” (names (the word is plural)) “hab·be·'a·lim” (of the Ba'als) “mip pi ha” (from her mouth). Paraphrase: “and they shall not be remembered any more”.

     As we saw in our focus, the names of the individual local gods have all but been forgotten, and many of them have been assigned space in the larger dormitory of “Baal”, and it is even now misspelled in most places.

     And I will make a “be rit” (agreement / covenant) with them in that “bay yo wm” (time / day) with the 'wild beasts of the field', and the birds of the air, and with the “we re mes” (things that creep) “ha·’a·da·mah” (on the ground). And bow, and sword, and battle will I “es bo wr” (break 'in pieces' / wreck) “min” (off / from) the earth, and make them lie down “la be tah” (securely / security).

     “we·’e·ras·tik” ('and I will be' engaged / betrothed 'with you') to Me forever - “we 'e ras tik” (the phrase is repeated) to Me “be se dek” (righteousness / justness), and “u·be·mis·pat” (justice (legal implications)), “u·be·he·sed” (goodness / kindness), and compassion.

     “we·’e·ras·tik” (betroth (again)) to Me in “be·’e·mu·nah” (firmness, steadfastness, fidelity). “we·ya·da·‘at et YHWH.” (And you shall know ....)

     'And it shall come to pass' “bay yo wm” (time / day) that “'e 'e nah” (I will answer), 'YHWH says', “'e 'e nah” “has·sa·ma·yim” (the heavens) and they shall answer “ha 'a res” (the earth 'living world'),

     And the earth shall answer with “had da gan” (grain (especially cereal grains), the 1611 says 'corn' / as in maize, which was unknown in the Old World prior to Columbus), freshly made /new wine, and with (olive) oil, and they shall “ya 'a nu” (respond as a witness / testify) Jezreel,

     “u·ze·ra‘·ti·ha” (scatter seed) for Myself on the earth- and “we·ri·ham·ti” (have compassion) not “ra ha mah” (had compassion) - and I will say to 'not my people', my people you are - and you shall say my God.

Chapter 3

     And YHWH said to me again, “lek” (go) “'ehab” (love) a “'is sah” (woman) “'a hu bat” (who is loved) by “re a'” (another) “u·me·na·’a·pet” (is committing adultery), just like the love of YHWH, for “be ne” (the sons) of “yis·ra·’el”, and they look to other gods, and love the “’a·si·se ‘a·na·bim” (ceremonial cakes made with raisins).

     There's a bit of dark humor here. The implication is that they left GOD to go do this other stuff because they had better desserts at their feasts. It reminds you of how fickle and easily persuaded some people are today.

     “wa·’ek·ke·re·ha” (so I bargained for her) for myself for 15 “a sars” (shekel) of silver, and a 'homer and a half' of barley.

     At the time, a shekel was about a third of an ounce (11 grams) of silver, and a homer was a measure of volume equal to roughly 50 gallons (227 liters).

     And I said to her, you shall remain with me 'a long time', not “tiz ni” (be a harlot), nor shall you have 'another' man, so I shall be to you.

     For 'a long time' the sons of Israel shall be without “me lek” (a king), or “sar” (a prince), without “ze bah” (sacrifice) or “mas·se·bah” ('personal' monument), and without ephod (priestly garment), or “u·te·ra·pim” (teraphim (home shrine, may or may not be pagan)) -

     afterward, the sons of Israel shall return and seek their god YHWH, and David their king, “u·ppa·ha·du” (and they shall revere) YHWH and His “tu bow” (goodness / good things) in “hay ya mim” (end times)

End study 1 - 3

Selected Sources for this chapter:
Gomer, daughter of Diblaim: Midrash and Aggadah:
Jewish Women's Archive

The Jezreel Valley:
Also known as: Campus Legionis, Esdraelon, Esdraelon Valley, Plain of Megiddo, Plains of Megiddo, Great Plain, Great Plain of Esdraelon, Great Plain of Megiddo, Merj ibn-'Amir, Plain of Megiddo, “The Valley,” Valley of Megiddon

The Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III at the:


Sources used throughout entire study:
Bible Hub Interlinear pages: We'll change this link as we change books.

the Geneva Bible downloadable

the 1611 KJV

The Minor Prophets Study Index page.

NOTE: The Bible Study Lesson presented above is posted as a reference document to begin a conversation of the topic. And that's it. Please accept it at such.

With the assistance and cooperation of The Media Desk.