Outline of the Book:

I. Title Verse (1:1)
II. Hosea’s Life (1:2-3:5)
     A. Biographical Section (1:2-2:1)
     B. Poetic Section (2:2-2:23)
     C. Autobiographical Section (3:1-5)
III. Anthology of Oracles (4-14)

Outline of the Study:

I. Hosea’s Family (1:2-2:1, 3:1-5)
     A. Eccentric Prophets
     B. Marriage and Sex as a Metaphor (1:2-3)
     C. Jezreel (1:4-5)
     D. Lo-Ammi and Lo-Ruhamah (1:6-9)
     E. Hope (1:10-2:1)
     F. Reconciliation (3:1-5)
II. Poetic Section (2:2-2:23)
     A. Rebuke (2:2-13)
     B. Reconciliation (2:14-23)
III. Title Verse (1:1)

Title Verse

1:1 This is the word of the LORD which was revealed to Hosea son of Beeri during the time when Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah ruled Judah, and during the time when Jeroboam son of Joash ruled Israel.  [NET, here and elsewhere unless noted otherwise]

Paul wrote to Timothy:

2Ti 3:16 Every scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 3:17 that the person dedicated to God may be capable and equipped for every good work.

Hosea 1:1 is scripture just as is, say, John 3:16. If this is the case, we can’t afford to skip over it in our study. Instead we must ask what purpose this verse serves in scripture. There are two areas where I think it is fruitful to examine. First is context. Hosea 1:1 establishes the context of the whole book by identifying the prophet and when he prophesied. The second is the significance of history in the Bible’s theology, or more precisely, the significance of God in history in the Bible’s theology.

Current Events

"when Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah ruled Judah, and during the time when Jeroboam son of Joash ruled Israel"

Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah were kings of Judah during the second half of the 8th century BC. At this time, the Israelites were divided into two kingdoms: Israel in the North and Judah in the South. Hosea prophesied primarily to Israel in the North. It is striking that only one King of the northern kingdom is cited here: Jeroboam. Even if we limit the time period from the end of Uzziah’s reign to the beginning of Hezekiah’s, there were several kings of Israel during this period.

After Jeroboam reigned 41 years (2 Kings 14:23) he died and was succeeded by his son Zechariah (2 Kings 14:29). Zechariah reigned only six months before he was assassinated by Shallum (2 Kings 15:8, 10), who reigned for only one month before he was assassinated by Menahem (2 Kings 15:13, 14). Menahem died and was succeeded by his son Pekahiah after 10 years (2 Kings 15:17,22). Pekahiah reigned only 2 years and was assassinated by Pekah, one of his chief officers (2 Kings 15:23,25). Pekah reigned for 20 years (2 Kings 15:27), then was assassinated by Hosea (2 Kings 15:30), who was the last king of the northern kingdom and was imprisoned by Shalmaneser, king of Assyria after 9 years. (2 kings 17:1, 4).

Hosea 4:1-2, 7:7, 7:16, 13:10-11 illustrate well the horrors of the times. That the title verse of Hosea omits them perhaps is meant to slight them -- to regard them as too insigificant, or illegitimate, for mention.

Baal Worship

A significant part of the millue is worship of the Canaanite god Baal. A number of clay tablets were found in a city called Ugarit, and were impressed with cunieform writing recording myths about Baal and the other gods of his pantheon. To provide some background in this religion and to contrast it with the Biblical religion, I provide a synopsis of the myth below:

In the beginning Baal, lord of air and rain, and Yam, the dragon who ruled the waters, contended for lordship of the earth. After long debate, they went to El, the god of the gods, for him to settle the dispute. He selected Yam.

Yam, however, played the tyrant, demanding too much tribute from the gods and goddesses. So the goddess Astarte striped off her clothes and tried to seduce Yam to get him to relent. He agreed if Astarte would offer herself to him as tribute. This greatly angered Baal who issued threats and getots the goddesses of battle to fashion him weapons, and another god to fashion him some special magic weapons.

In battle, Baal quickly knocked Yam senseless and then unconcious. But the gods did not give Baal the respect he now deserved as lord of the earth because he didn’t have a palace. He asked Anat to ask Asherat, the consort of El, to ask El to have a palace built for him. Asherat had a net thrown over Yam to restrain him should he recover. Baal refused to have a window in the palace for fear that Yam would revive and slip in through the window. During the house warming party, Baal sliped away and finally killed Yam and agreed to have a window in the palace.

Baal hadn’t invited Mot, spirit of death and drought to his banquet. Then he sent messangers to tell Mot to stay off earth and in his netherworld. Mot doesn’t much like this. He invites Baal to a banguet in the netherworld. Baal is afraid to go there and sends rich gifts to placate Mot. This fails, so Baal goes down. He forgets that if he eats of the food of the netherworld, he is can never return to the world of the living, and so dies. Lady Sun fetches his body for burial and all the gods lament his passing.

Meanwhile the earth was languishing without rain. Anat caught Mot when he was on earth to enjoy the air and cut him up into pieces, burned them, and buried them. That night she had a dream about rivers of honey and rain of oil. She knew Baal was alive again. Baal reclaimed his throne.

After seven years the buried pieces of Mot sprouted and joined back together. They battled, Baal, then Mot getting the upper hand. Finally, the Sun warned Mot that El will be very upset if Baal is harmed, so Mot relented. Anat, upset that mankind had not been loyal to Baal, went on a killing spree, wading through blood up to her hips until Baal placates her.

(See The Oldest Stories in the World, Theodor H. Gaster, 1952, pp. 209-229.)


Hosea 1:1 contrasts greatly with the Baal myths. The Baal myths hardly mention mankind and take place in a unspecific mythic past. Scripture, on the other hand, is concerned from beginning to end with human history. God is not just a God of history he is a God in history. He breaks into actual human history and deals with man.

So, this passage serves to anchor the book of Hosea into a concrete point in history. It provides the context for understanding the contents of the book. Further, the fact that there is an historical context is an important theological concept that runs through scripture from beginning to end.

Hosea’s Family (1:2-2:1, 3:1-5)

Eccentric Prophets

Prophets were not ordinary people. A nice way to put it is to say that they were eccentric. Consider Isaiah who went three years naked as a "sign and portent against Egypt and Cush" (Isaiah 20). Or Ezekiel, who gathered food around himself and laid on his side for over a year as a sign to Israel and Judah (Ezekiel 4ff). Or John the Baptist clad in camel’s hair and eating locusts and wild honey (Matthew 3:4).

Hosea was commanded by God to marry a wife who would be unfaithful and to give his children bizarre names. This goes beyond the mere cliche of living our faith. The names of his children were in people’s face day-in and day-out for years. The "stunt" (if you will) would have kept his message on people’s tongues more than daily sermons ever could.

Some commentators have been scandalized by the idea of God having his prophet marry such a woman (See Matthew Henry, in loc., where it is called a vision or parable). But this is quite unnecessary. If it is the calling of some to be martyrs, to be tortured and killed for the sake of the Word, then to be called to have an unfaithful wife does not seem so improbable. The fact that the name of the wife is specified in verse 1:3, Gomer bat-Diblaim, speaks against it being a mere parable. The characters in parables are usually anonymous. Nor is Hosea alone in giving his children prophetic names: Isaiah did too (Isaiah 7:3, Shear-Jashub=A Remnant Will Return; Isaiah 8:3, Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz=Quick to the Plunder, Swift to the Spoil). This suggests this bizaare behaviour is to be accepted as literally, historically, happening.

Marriage and Sex as a Metaphor

1:2 When the LORD first spoke through Hosea, he said to him, “Go marry a prostitute who will bear illegitimate children conceived through prostitution, because the nation continually commits spiritual prostitution by turning away from the LORD.”

The relationship between God and man is often compared with the relationship between man and wife in scripture. As an extension of this concept, apostacy is then likened to sexual immorality. The apostate is guilty of adultery by chasing after relationships with other gods. This metaphor extends throughout Hosea 1-3 as well as in the oracles throughout the remainder of the book

Compare with:

Exodus 34:15-16
Deuteronomy 31:16
2 Chronicles 21:13
Psalm 106:39
Jeremiah 3:1-5, 9
Ezekiel 6:9
Ezekiel 16
Ezekiel 23

For Marriage as a metaphor, see:

Isaiah 54:5-8
Isaiah 62:4-5
Jeremiah 3:14
Jeremiah 31:32


1:3 So Hosea married Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim. Then she conceived and gave birth to a son for him. 1:4 Then the LORD said to him, “Name him ‘Jezreel,’ because in a little while I will punish the dynasty of Jehu on account of the bloodshed in the valley of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of Israel. 1:5 At that time, I will destroy the military power of Israel in the valley of Jezreel.”

The first of three children, whose names were in themselves prophesies, is Jezreel. This is a reference to events that happened nearly a century prior to the reign of Jeroboam. See 2 Kings 9-10.

Through one of the company of the prophets, Elisha had Jehu annointed King of Israel (the northern kingdom) and commanded him to destroy the house of Ahab. This he did, killing Joram, the descendent of Ahab sitting on the throne, and engineering the execution of Joram’s children. For this, he was told “You have done well. You have accomplished my will and carried out my wishes with regard to Ahab’s dynasty. Therefore four generations of your descendents will rule over Israel.” (2 Kings 10:30)

However, he also executed Ahaziah, king of Judah (the southern kingdom), and murdered 42 relatives of Ahaziah (2 Kings 10:14). This opened the door for Athaliah, Ahaziah’s mother, to seize power and execute the rest of the royal family. Only Joash, a son of Ahaziah, survived of the house of David. It is probably these killings that Hosea is referring to..

"Israel’s bow" [NIV] is an idiom for Israel’s military strength. Contrast with verse 7, "I will deliver them by the LORD their God; I will not deliver them by the warrior’s bow, by sword, by military victory, by chariot horses, or by chariots". See 1 Sam. 2:4; Ps. 46:9; Jer. 49:35.

Lo-Ruhamah and Lo-Ammi

1:6 She conceived again and gave birth to a daughter. Then the Lord said to him, “Name her ‘No Pity’ (Lo-Ruhamah) because I will no longer have pity on the nation of Israel. For I will certainly not forgive their guilt. 1:7 But I will have pity on the nation of Judah. I will deliver them by the LORD their God; I will not deliver them by the warrior’s bow, by sword, by military victory, by chariot horses, or by chariots.”

1:8 When she had weaned ‘No Pity’ (Lo-Ruhamah) she conceived again and gave birth to another son. 1:9 Then the Lord said: “Name him ‘Not My People’ (Lo-Ammi), because you are not my people and I am not your God.”

Jezreel, which means "God sows", is not an unusual name, but the names of Hosea’s next two children certainly raised many eyebrows. Lo-Ruhamah means not-loved or not-pitied in Hebrew. The dictionaries and translations suggest a range of meaings for Ruhamah: mercy, compassion, tender feelings. Possible allusion to Ex 33:19?  As cruel as this name may seem, consider the terror of the message being conveyed: that God would withhold his love and forgiveness from Israel.

Contrast this with Judah, which was still in God’s graces. The salvation prophesied in verse 7 is the events of 2 Kings 18:17-19:37. Sennacharib’s army besieged Jerusalem. Egypt came to Hezekiah’s rescue, but was defeated. But then mysteriously overnight 185,000 men in the Assyrian camp died, forcing the army to withdraw. These events happened either towards the end of Hosea’s life or shortly afterwards (see Hosea 1:1).

"When she had weaned..." emphasises that this is taking place over a period of several years. Weaning took place much later in ancient societies, and modern third-world countries, than it does in modern western society. As long as three years is not unusual (cf. 2 Macabbees 7:27).

Lo-Ammi means not-my-people in Hebrew. The phrase "for you are not my people and I am not your God" contains several allusions back to the Pentateuch. Compare this with Lev. 26:12, "I will walk about among you, and I will be your God and you will be my people.", Ex. 6:7 "And I will take you to myself for a people, and I will become your God.", and Deut. 26:17-18 "Today you have declared the LORD to be your God ... And today the LORD has declared you to be his special people". Hosea turns the ancient convenant upside down.

The way it is worded in the Hebrew makes another allusion too:

k,l; hy<h]a,Aal ykinœa;w

"I am not your God", woud be better translated "And I am not I AM to them". The same word used here is used in the famous I AM passage of Exodus 3:14.


1:10 However, in the future the number of the people of Israel will be like the sand of the sea which can be neither measured nor numbered. Although it was said to them, “You are not my people,” it will be said to them, “You are children of the living God!”

1:11 Then the people of Judah and the people of Israel will be gathered together. They will appoint for themselves one leader, and will flourish in the land. Certainly, the day of Jezreel will be great! 2:1 Then you will call your brother, “My People” (Ammi)! You will call your sister, “Pity” (Ruhamah)!

In both instances of the terrible names of his children, there is also a message of hope accompanying. Here, we are told that in the long run, Israel will flourish, and be called "sons of the living God", "my people", and "my loved one". Note that the naming of both "not" children is accompanied by a note of hope.

The reference to being like the sand on the seashore is an allusion to the ancient promise to Abraham (Genesis 22:17, et al). Sonship is another metaphor, like marriage, for the ideal relationship with God. See Genesis 6:4 (perhaps), and Deuteronomy 8:5, 14:1.

Israel was split into two kingdoms after the death of Solomon. Judah was ruled by a descendant of David, but Israel, centered around Ephraim, had many dynasties. Hosea is looking forward to them being united into one again.

Just like the the names of his brother and sister are turned around, so is Jezreel’s, although he name doesn’t get changed, just reinterpreted. The Hebrew behind his name beings "God Plants". As a result of this "planting" by God, Israel "will come up out of the land" (translated as "flourish" by NET) like a plant sprouts up from a seed (Cf. Gen 40:10 where a blossom "goes up"). The land in question is not the lands of their exile, but the land of Israel. The image of planting probably refers to the return from exile: God takes them from exile and plants them back in the land of Israel where they will grow into single great nation under one leader. The "one leader" is thus not refering to some specific person but rather to the office: there would not be two kings as their was in Hosea’s day.

Is the "one leader" a messianic prophecy? It has been terpreted as such since the time of the early church (See Excerpts of Theodotus (ANF Volume VIII) (IV), although this Theodotus was a heretic). Also, "The Doctrine of the Millennium—Part I: The Righteous Government of the Millennium, John F. Walvoord" (BIBSAC), and "Day of the Lord" (Anchor).

I don’t think Hosea or his audience would have understood it as messianic. When Ezra and Nehemiah were leading the return from Exile, they likely saw themselves as planting the Israelites back into the land. None the less, it is easy to see in Jesus a deeper, more spiritual, fulfillment of the idea of reunification under a single leader, and so this passage can be viewed as a sort of prototype for Christ’s role.

Hosea 2:1 is somewhat enigmatic. It is not attached to the following verses as it is a voice of hope while the following verses are a rebuke against the mother. Instead, it contains a reversal of the names of Hosea’s second and third child, literally, "Say of your brother(s), `Ammi,’ and of your sister(s), `Ruhamah.’"   The nouns have traditionally been parsed as plural, but this is difficult to make sense of.  The LXX (ancient Greek translation) and the NET have parsed them as singular.  Regardless, God is reversing the previous curse symbolized by Hosea’s children’s names.



3:1 The LORD said to me, “Go, show love to your wife again, even though she loves another man and continually commits adultery. Likewise, the LORD loves the Israelites although they turn to other gods and love to offer raisin cakes to idols.” 3:2 So I paid fifteen shekels of silver and about seven bushels of barley to purchase her. 3:3 Then I told her, “You must live with me many days; you must not commit adultery or have sexual intercourse with another man, and I also will wait for you.”

Between chapter 1 and chapter 3, Hosea and his wife were separated and divorced. She had evidently wound up in slavery (there weren’t many options for a single woman to support herself beyond family or husband). At God’s bidding Hosea buys her back and is reconciled to her. The important thing to note her is that Hosea does truely love her


3:4 For the Israelites must live many days without a king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred fertility pillar, without ephod or idols. 3:5 Afterward, the Israelites will turn and seek the Lord their God and their Davidic king. Then they will submit to the Lord in fear and receive his blessings in the future.

Here, Hosea relates his reconciliation to his wife to God’s future reconciliation to Israel. Note how the parallel of redemption (or purchase) goes further than Hosea himself is even aware of, in that ultimately God purchased Israel and us on the cross.

It is difficult indeed to understand how God could love a sinner and die for us on the cross, but Hosea got some inkling of the love involved that enabled him to reconcile to her in spite of her unfaithfulness.

Obscure Phrases

Chapter 3 contains a few obscure phrases that might be worth looking at.

Raisin Cakes

NIV is paraphrases this by saying "Sacred Raisin Cakes". "Sacred" is not actually in the Hebrew text, but rather "raisin cakes of grapes". The context of the verse suggest that they may possibly be related to the "other gods", but this is by no means certain. Other passages mentioning raisins do not associated them with a religious context, but rather as a basic foodstuff (Isaiah 16:7 -- where it is a word play or pun, Solomon 2:5, 2 Sam 6:19, 1 Chron. 16:3). Many commentaries and Bible dictionaries associate raison cakes with aphrodisiacs and pagan fertility rites, but the basis of this claim seems to be limited to the Song of Solomon sited above, where it is simply a food substance meant to help Solomon recover from his faintness, and the present passage in Hosea, where it certainly does seem to be associated with some pagan rite, much like the cakes of bread made for the "Queen of Heaven", presumably a consort of Baal, in Jeremiah 7:18. But to associate then with fertility rites specifically is going beyond the evidence.

Live With   (NIV)

The NIV note suggests "wait for" as an alternative translation. The Hebrew word always means to "inhabit, dwell, live, stay, i.e., be in a a place for any period of time, usually implying a longer amount of time". bv'y: (Dictionary of Biblical Languages: Hebrew).

Last Days   (NIV)

The phrase "in the last days" dictates that we are right to understand the redemption in a messianic sense, and not just as the return of Israel from the Babylonian exile. Although there was an end to the exile under the Persians, there was no Davidic king until Jesus.

Poetic Section


Hosea 2:2-13


Consider the first and last verse of this passage. In verse 2, it is clearly Hosea addressing his children regarding his wife. In verse 13, it is clearly God taking about Israel, culminating in "says the LORD". The fascinating thing is, there is not a point in between where we can say the prior verses are Hosea speaking and the later verses are God speaking. Instead there is a gradual transmogrification. In verse 2, Hosea is speaking literally of his wife, but we already know that this relationship is also a metaphor for God’s relationship with Israel. If you try to read the whole passage as Hosea speaking, then his statements become more and more hyperbolic and "over the top".

Verse 2

2:2 Plead earnestly with your mother
(for she is not my wife, and I am not her husband),
so that she might put an end to her adulterous lifestyle,
and turn away from her sexually immoral behavior.

Hosea and his wife have evidently divorced. Some commentors suggest only a separation is involved here, but that reads too much of 21st century culture onto ancient Israelite practices. Even here, Hosea is expressing some hope of repentance on her part. (Note the use of parallelism between pairs of lines, typical of Hebrew poetry. This second line often restates, expands or contrasts the first line.)

Verse 3

2:3 Otherwise, I will strip her naked,
and expose her like she was when she was born.
I will turn her land into a wilderness
and make her country a parched land,
so that I might kill her with thirst.

Hosea is angry with his wife. The actions he is threatening here are "over the top", hyperbolic in nature: it is a poem after all. I doubt he intends to literally abuse his wife in this matter. Rather, these words have their fulfilment in what happens to her subsequently to their divorce. She looses everything (metaphorically and literally stripped naked) and winds up in slavery. There is some irony in the image of stripping her naked as a punishment given the sexual nature of her offence.

Applying Hosea’s outburst as a metaphor to God, we are can picture this in a more literal sense: the Israelites led away into captivity with only the clothes on their backs (if even that much!) and the effects of their sins on the land (cf. Hosea 4:1-3).

Similarly, in the "desert" lines, Hosea does not intend to murder his wife. He is speaking metaphorically. The metaphor represents here social standing after the divorce and Israel’s standing in captivity. Life as she knew it is gone.

Verse 4

2:4 I will have no pity on her children,
because they are children conceived in adultery.

As part of the dramatic flair of this poem, Hosea switches from speaking to his children about his wife, to speaking to us about his children. Hosea is angry.

This verse and the next make it clear that Hosea is not the father of the children (although verse 1:3 may suggest that he is the father of Jezreel, no such implication is attached to the others). God is going to do the same to Israel and Judah, allowing them to be taken captive by the Assyrians and Babylonians, respectively.

Verse 5

2:5 For their mother has committed adultery;
she who conceived them has acted shamefully.
For she said, “I will seek out my lovers;
they are the ones who give me my bread and my water,
my wool, my flax, my olive oil, and my wine.

Hosea’s wife imagines that she can get all she needs from her lovers. Similarly Israel is attributing her riches to Baal instead of God.

Verse 6

2:6 Therefore, I will soon fence her in with thorns;
I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way.

Hosea’s threats her are obviously not literal: he did not build a literal jail to hold his wife in. Instead, by cutting off her access to his support, she is forced to rely only on her lovers. Then she will find how free she really is as a slave to her sins. The same applies when we transfer the metaphor to God. He will withdraw from Israel, turning his back on them, and they will suddenly find themselves lost in many senses of the word. In captivity in Assyria and Babylonia, they will be literally walled in.

Verse 7

2:7 Then she will pursue her lovers, but she will not catch them;
she will seek them, but she will not find them.
Then she will say,
“I will go back to my husband,
because I was better off then than I am now.”

The thought is continued. Without Hosea, she must now rely fully on her lovers and she finds how faithful they really are. Similary for Israel. Without God, they plead with their gods in vain.

The second half of the verse seems more of a hope than a prophecy. Remember, this passage is poetry, and not a straight forward narrative. Gomer never returns to Hosea freely, but must be bought. The same is true for Israel and God. Ultimately Jesus had to die on the cross for our sins to redeem us.

Verse 8

2:8 Yet until now she has refused to acknowledge that I was the one
who gave her the grain, the new wine, and the olive oil;
and that it was I who lavished on her the silver and gold—
which they used in worshiping Baal!

Hosea was the one who truely supported his wife, her lovers were using that support for Baal. She thought she was getting wealth from them, but in reality, they were taking from her. Note that this verse works equally well as a literal saying of Yahweh, without any metaphorical understanding. Israel was dedicating and sacrificing its produce and riches to Baal instead of to Yahweh alone.

Verses 9-12

2:9 Therefore, I will take back my grain during the harvest time
and my new wine when it ripens;
I will take away my wool and my flax
which I had provided in order to clothe her.
2:10 Soon I will expose her lewd nakedness in front of her lovers,
and no one will be able to rescue her from me!
2:11 I will put an end to all her celebration:
her annual religious festivals,
monthly new moon celebrations,
and weekly Sabbath festivities—
all her appointed festivals.
2:12 I will destroy her vines and fig trees,
of which she said, “These are my wages for prostitution
that my lovers gave to me!”
I will turn her cultivated vines and fig trees into an uncultivated thicket,
so that wild animals will devour them.

Now the balance of the metaphorical parallels swings to the side of God speaking of Israel being the more literal rendering, although Hosea divorcing Gomer certainly had the effect of crushing her "party" lifestyle (to use an modern cultural term). In chapter 3, we learn that Gomer had been reduced to slavery.

Verse 13

2:13 “I will punish her for the festival days
when she burned incense to the Baal idols;
she adorned herself with earrings and jewelry,
and went after her lovers,
but she forgot me!” says the LORD.

While most of verses 9-12 could still be read as "over the top" proclaimations of Hosea, this verse is clearly the proclaimation of God concerning Israel going after the Baals, and only by the metaphor, concerning Gomer going after her adulterous lovers. It even culminates an an explicit "says the LORD".


Hosea 2:14-23

In this part of the poem, Hosea and Gomer are no longer in view. The marriage metaphor is still used, but everything is God speaking about Israel. We cannot map any details of Hosea’s relationship with Gomer on to this passage metaphorically or symbolically.


2:14 However, in the future I will allure her;
I will lead her back into the wilderness,
and speak tenderly to her.
2:15 From there I will give back her vineyards to her,
and turn the “Valley of Trouble” into an “Opportunity for Hope.”
There she will sing as she did when she was young,
when she came up from the land of Egypt.

Like the names are turned around, so is the imagine of the desert from the days of Moses. Instead of being a punishment as it was then, it is the site of God courting Israel. Although Hosea and Gomer are not explicitly in view here, the language of the relationship of man and woman is still used to represent the relationship of God and Israel. That the desert where God will reestablish his relationship with Israel is an allusion to the wilderness of Moses’ fame is made clear by the explicit citation of Egypt in verse 15.

The Valley of Achor got its name in Joshua 7:24-26 as the site where Achan was stoned and buried. Achan had stolen some of the devoted things that were supposed to be destroyed along with Jericho, which resulted in 36 Israelites getting killed (Joshua 6-7). In memory of this event, the valley was called the Valley of Trouble (Achor is Trouble in Hebrew). Here we see the name reversal theme again. Instead of Valley of Trouble, it will be a Door of Hope. Isaiah 65:10 sounds a similar idea.

The Hebrew word behind "sing", hn[ , can have a variety of meanings. It frequently means to sing, as in 1 Samuel 18:7 where the women sang how "Saul has slain his thousands,/ and David his tens of thousands." Or it can mean respond as in Exodus 19:8 where all the people respond "We will do everything the LORD has said", but even there, it’s all the people speaking, or perhaps chanting, in unison, and thus takes on at least some musical qualities. It can also mean to answer a question (Job 19:7). It is the same verb as used in verses 21-22. Any of the definitions might fit here, so it is really a judgement call how to translate this sentence.


2:16 “At that time,” declares the LORD,
“you will call, ‘My husband’;
you will never again call me, ‘My master.’
2:17 For I will remove the names of the Baal idols from your lips,
so that you will never again utter their names!”

In Hebrew, the word translated "master" is "baal", the same as the Canaanite god. There is archeological evidence that some Israelites worshipped Yahweh along side of Baal, or even as Baal, and even with a female consort goddess. Instead of seeing Yahweh as that barbarous god, the Israelites will one day have an intimate relationship with Yahweh, analogous to the relationship of husband and wife. This syncretism with Baal worship will disappear.

Ishi==my husband
Baali==my master


2:18 “At that time I will make a covenant for them with the wild animals,
the birds of the air, and the creatures that crawl on the ground.
I will abolish the warrior’s bow and sword
—that is, every weapon of warfare—from the land,
and I will allow them to live securely.”

The timeframe in view hear is certainly eschatological.

Compare this with passages from Isaiah:

Isaiah 11:6-9
Isaiah 65:25
Isaiah 2:4

The idea behind this imagery is a return to Eden, or at least an Eden-like existence, at the end of history.


2:19 I will commit myself to you forever;
I will commit myself to you in righteousness and justice,
in steadfast love and tender compassion.
2:20 I will commit myself to you in faithfulness,
then you will acknowledge the LORD.”

Here, the Book of Hosea generalizes the marriage metaphor from Hosea’s marriage in particular to marriage in general. This betrothal is escatological in scope, as it is eternal, unlike the current situation where Israel, and later, Judah, are going into captivity in a sort of separation/divorce from God.

I think the juxtaposition of righteousness, justice, love, and compassion are significant. They are arrainged in poetic, parallel lines. In Hebrew poetry, such parallel lines often expand and explain each other, idea for idea, phrase for phrase, or even word for word. Obviously, the words righteousness and justice are related to each other as legal concepts and are attributes of God, i.e., God is rigteous and just. Love and Compassion are also attributes of God, more specifically, his feelings toward Israel. His compassion mediates his justice so that he is willing to forgive. His love mediates his righteousness so that Israel can be counted as righteous too, ie, be forgiven.

Verse 20’s parallelism parallels the actions of God (I) and Israel (You). God is the active one, doing the betrothing, and is faithful. All that is demanded of Israel is acknowledgement of God. There is an interesting wordplay here in the Hebrew that is significant in this betrothal metaphor. The word for "acknowledge" is the same word used elsewhere in scripture as a ephemism for sexual relations: not that literal sexual relations with God are meant, but that the intimacy of sexual relations of a husband and life are a metaphor for the intimate relationship between God and Israel (just like prosititution is a metaphor for idolatry)


2:21 “At that time, I will willingly respond,” declares the LORD.
“I will respond to the sky,
and the sky will respond to the ground;
2:22 then the ground will respond to the grain, the new wine, and the olive oil;
and they will respond to ‘God Plants’ (Jezreel)!

There is a causual chain implicit here. God causes the sky to rain on the earth from which grow the sources of grain, new wine, and oil for Israel, symbolized by Jezreel, a name which means "God plants". Israel’s needs are provided by the earth, whose needs are provided by the sky and God is behind the whole thing.

The word for respond here is the same one translated sing above. Either translation is legitimate, and given Hosea’s frequent use of double meanings, we probably shouldn’t labour too hard in choosing either-or reading. Instead we should see this verse as a celebration of nature working in harmony with God and Man, in contrast to the current situation, described in 4:3,

4:3 Therefore the land will mourn,
and all its inhabitants will perish.
The wild animals, the birds of the sky,
and even the fish in the sea will perish.


2:23 Then I will plant her as my own in the land.
I will have pity on ‘No Pity’ (Lo-Ruhamah).
I will say to ‘Not My People’ (Lo-Ammi), ‘You are my people!’
And he will say, ‘You are my God!’”

This verse is a statement of the reversal of the names of the children. Jezreel, meaning God plants, refers to God planting Israel in the land instead of alluding to past horrors and sins in the Valley of Jezreel. To Hosea’s immediate audience, these words may have been somewhat enigmatic. To Israel in the Assyrian and Babylonian exiles, they became rich in meaning and hope: hope that Israel would once again be planted in the land of Israel.

The people not pitied by God (lo-ruhama in Hebrew) now become pitied and the people not God’s people (lo-ammi -- not my people) become his people and Him their God (an allusion to various passages in the Pentateuch again. See note on Lo-Ruhamah and Lo-Ammi above).

Romans 9:23-26

9:23 And what if he is willing to make known the wealth of his glory on the objects of mercy that he has prepared beforehand for glory— 9:24 even us, whom he has called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? 9:25 As he also says in Hosea:

I will call those who were not my people, My people, and I will call her who was unloved, My beloved.’”
9:26And in the very place where it was said to them, You are not my people,
there they will be called
sons of the living God.’”

Paul quotes Hosea 1:10, 2:23 in his letter to the Romans. The quote of 2:23 inverts the order and changes the wording of the second clause to make it grammatically parallel to the first ("I will call her ’my loved one’" instead of "I will show my love to"). No change to the meaning is caused by this paraphrase. It would seem to be typical of quoting a passage from memory. It is perhaps influenced by Hosea 2:1. The quote of Hosea 1:10 is word for word the same as the LXX translation.

Paul has reapplied this passage in different context here. In the Old Testament passage, Hosea is speaking specifically about Israel. They are the "Not My People" and "Not My Loved One" (keep in mind the Hebrew term is broader in meaning than love or pity). Paul applies this reversal of status to everyone. If the Jews, after breaking the covenant and becoming unloved can be forgiven and become the people of God again, then so can the Gentiles, for we all, Jews and Gentiles alike, were once not God’s people, but through Jesus Christ we all can become God’s people and Loved By God.