HOSEA, BOOK OF.
The contents of the book may be summarized as follows:
- Part i., ch. i.-iii.—Two symbolical actions: (a) At the command of Yhwh, Hosea takes to wife an adulterous woman, as a symbol of the people of Israel, who have deserted their God and must be punished for their desertion, but who will be restored to Yhwh's favor after a time of probation. (b) At the further command of Yhwh, Hosea is once more married to his former, unfaithful wife, as a symbol of the enduring love of Yhwh for His people in spite of their faithlessness.
- Part ii., ch. iv.-xiv.—Hosea's prophetic sermon on the sinful and idolatrous people of Israel. Announcement of the ruin that shall overtake Israel, now become morally and religiously degraded through the fault of its priests (iv. 1-14). To this is added a warning to Judah (iv. 15-18). Judgment is pronounced on the priests and the rulers who have led the people into sin, bringing upon them the inevitable punishment (v. 1-7). Description of the ruin that shall come upon Ephraim and Judah, which even the Assyrian king will not be able to turn away: Hosea in a vision anticipates its coming (v. 8-15). The exhortation to repentance (vi. 1-3); Yhwh's answer censuring the inconstancy of the people (vi. 4-7); the moral degradation of Israel, and especially of its priests (vi. 8-11); the rulers are made responsible for the sins of the people, because they rejoice therein instead of preventing them, and because, despite the national distress, they continue in their spirit of revelry and revolt (vii.1-16). Renewed announcement of judgment upon Israel for its impiety, its idolatry, and its leagues with foreign nations; the punishment to be in the form of exile, into which the Israelites shall be led in spite of their fenced cities (viii. 1-14). In the distant land of exile they shall eat the bread of mourners, instead of rejoicing like the heathen over rich harvests and vintages (ix. 1-6), as a punishment for disregarding the warnings of the Prophets, who were persecuted even in the house of God (ix. 7-9). As they turned from Yhwh in the wilderness, so they must now go into exile because of their idolatry, since Yhwh will cast them away (ix. 10-17). Their ingratitude for Yhwh's love, as shown in their idolatry, must be punished by the destruction of the altars and images of Samaria (x. 1-8). Israel's sins in general, prevalent among the people from olden times, deserve bitter punishment (x. 9-15). In spite of Yhwh's loving care, they have ever been faithless to Him (xi. 1-7); therefore punishment will not be delayed: it will not, however, destroy, but purge them, leaving a remnant, Yhwh's infinite pity overcoming His anger (xi. 8-11). An examination of Israel's early history shows that Israel, as well as Judah, has always been faithless to Yhwh, its guilt being all the heavier in view of Yhwh's loving care (xii. 1-15). Because of Israel's idolatry Yhwh must destroy Israel's power and glory (xiii. 1-11); the sins of the people demand pitiless punishment, which, however, will not utterly destroy them (xiii. 12-xiv. 1). An appeal to Israel to return to Yhwh, and a promise of forgiveness to the repentant people (xiv. 2-10).
The nature of Hosea's prophecies shows that he appeared at a time when the kingdom of Israel, which reached the zenith of its power under Jeroboam II. (782-741
The authenticity of Hosea's prophecies is evidenced by their eminently individualistic and subjective character, consistently maintained throughout. Various additions, however, seem to have crept into the original text. The enumeration of the four kings of Judah—Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah—is certainly spurious, Hosea being thereby made a contemporary of Isaiah. In the text itself, also, there appear various distinct interpolations. The passage i. 7, indeed, seems to be a Judaic addition, referring to the saving of Jerusalem from the hands of the Assyrians by Hezekiah in 701
And, again, since Hosea's descriptions of the future contain no allusion to a Messianic king of David's line, speaking merely of
The other alleged interpolations, also, are somewhat doubtful. For instance, the expression "David, their king" (iii. 5a) finds its parallel in the repetition of "
Amos and Hosea elevated the religion of Israel to the altitude of ethical monotheism, being the first to emphasize again and again the moral side of
- F. Hitzig, Die Zwölf Kleinen Propheten Erklärt (No. 1 of Kurzgefasstes Exegetisches Handbuch zum A. T.), 4th ed., by H. Steiner, Leipsic, 1881;
- C. F. Keil, Biblischer Commentar über die Zwölf Kleinen Propheten (in the Keil and Delitzsch series of Bible commentaries) ib. 1881;
- Orelli, Ezechiel und die Zwölf Kleinen Propheten (vol. v. of Kurzgefasster Commentar zu den Schriften, des A. und N. T.), Nördlingen, 1888;
- Wellhausen, Die Kleinen Propheten Uebersetzt mit Noten, in Skizzen und Vorarbeiten, No. 5, Berlin, 1892;
- Nowack, in Nowack's Handkommentar zum A. T. iii. 4, Göttingen, 1897;
- Simson, Der Prophet Hosea, Uebersetzt und Erklärt, Hamburg and Gotha, 1851;
- A. Wünsche, Der Prophet Hosea Uebersetzt und Erklärt mit Benutzung der Targumim und der Jüdischen Ausleger Raschi, Aben Esra und David Kimchi, Leipsic, 1868;
- Töttermann, Die Weissagung Hoseas bis zur Ersten Assyrischen Deportation, i.-vi. 3, Helsingfors, 1879;
- Nowack, Der Prophet Hosea, Berlin, 1880;
- T. K. Cheyne, Hosea, with Notes and Introduction, Cambridge, 1884 (reprinted 1889);
- F. F. P. Valeton, Amos en Hosea, Nimeguen, 1894;
- De Visser, Hosea, de Man des Geestes, Utrecht, 1886;
- Houtsma, in Theologisch Tijdschrift, 1875, p. 55;
- Oort, ib. 1890, pp. 345 et seq., 480 et seq.;
- J. Bachmann, Alttestamentliche Untersuchungen, ch. i.-vii., Berlin, 1894;
- Billeb, Die Wichtigsten Sätze der Alttestamentlichen Kritik vom Standpunkt der Propheten Hosea und Amos aus Betrachtet, Halle, 1893;
- Patterson, The Septuaginta Text of Hosea Compared with the Masoretic Text, in Hebraica, vii. 190 et seq.;
- P. Ruben, Critical Remarks upon Some Passages of the Old Testament, iv.-xi., London, 1896.