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Hosea was the first of the twelve minor prophets of the Hebrew Bible and the Old Testament. He lived during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, the kings of Judah, and Jeroboam, the king of Israel (c. 740-630 BC).From Biblical scholarship it is concluded that most of Hosea's prophecies were delivered in Israel since his prophetic addresses are preoccupied with the kingdom of the ten tribes. Also such an inference is emphasized by the particular style and language of his prophecies, which are scattered with an Aramaean coloring; and still more by the intimate acquaintance with the circumstances and localities of the northern kingdom. He even goes so far as to address the Israelite kingdom as "the land" (Hosea 1:2), and the king of Israel as "our king" (Hosea 7:5). It is speculated that Hosea, after having failed in vain to appeal to his countrymen, retired to Judah where his prophecies were written down.
The theme of the Book of Hosea is the prophecy of God's unchanging love for Israel. God used Hosea as a dramatist too since God's prophecy was seen in Hosea's life. Accordingly, God instructed Hosea to marry a whore, Gomer, the daughter of Giblaim. She bore him two sons, Jezreel and Loammi, and one daughter, Lo-ruhamah. The marriage relationship between Hosea and Gomer is understood to be symbolic of the relationship which existed between God and Israel; Hosea representing God and Gomer Israel. In the theme of Hosea's book Israel is depicted prophetically as Jehovah's adulterous wife because of her sins of idolatry in connection with Canaanite paganism and fertility cults. Israel, the prophet warned, would shortly be put away, but eventually be purified and restored. Even the names of the three offspring of this union are symbolic of Hosea's major prophecies: Jezreel, the dynasty of Jehu which was to be extirpated; Lo-ruhamah, "not shown mercy," a prophecy of the Assyrian captivity; and Loammi, "not my people," a temporary rejection of Israel. Some hold that Gomer was also unfaithful to Hosea; there was a separation, but finally Hosea takes her back, the latter action symbolizing Jehovah's restoration of Israel.
In the aggadah, Hosea is listed as a contemporary of Isaiah, Amos, and Micah, but his is seen as being greater since he taught his people how to pray. A.G.H.
Unger, Merrill F., Unger's Bible Dictionary, Chicago,
Moody Press, 1966, pp. 501-502
Bowker, John, The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, New York, Oxford University Press, 1997, p. 443
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