Facts and Questions
I. The Allegory of His Marriage. An allegory is an extended parable. A parable takes a very human story and sees that their is at least one point of comparison between it and the divine drama that it is compared to. An allegory has many points of comparison. In our story Hosea is commanded to marry a woman of harlotries (pl.), which he does and she has children during their marriage, she then goes back to prostitution, and as a result he divorces her. He is then commanded to love her a second time, which he does, but he finds out she is not a whore but a worthless slave. He buys her for a trivial price2, and locks her up in his house (which as her owner he is allowed to do), he then courts her and marries her again. This represents God's relationship to Israel.
- Hosea is the longest of the minor prophets.1
- Historically he appeared at about the same time as Amos and Jonah during the reign of Jeroboam II. His book is dated by two methods in the superscription (1:1). He first date himself according to the kings of Judah of (Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah), and then according to the king of Israel during whose reign he ministered (Jeroboam the son of Joash). These two dating schemes overlap but represent two different periods of operation. The answer as to why he is dated in this odd way is not known.
- He was a native of the northern kingdom of Israel and critiqued their situation as an insider. He is a victim of their religious system (Baalism) and thus speaks from that perspective.
- His book falls into natural divisions.
Question #1: Which of Gomer's children does the text explicitly say are Hosea's?II. Sermons and Visions. This material is typical prophetic preaching.
Question #2: What does the name of each child mean? How does that meaning apply to God's dealing with Israel? Which children get their name changed? What does that mean for the future of Israel?
Question #3: What did Gomer's lovers give her as payment for her favors according to the text? (These are the same gifts Ba'al is supposed to give to his people)
Question #4: The sermons begin with a lawsuit3 between God and his people Hosea 4:1-19. Just as Hosea went to court with Gomer so God is laying out his case against Israel. Read the ten commandments (Ex. 20) and see which of them are made reference to in this opening sermon.
Question #5: Where are the places of false worship located in the Book of Hosea? What acts of worship did they do at these places?
Question #6: Read Matthew 2:15 in its context. It is a quote from Hosea 11:1 and so I want you to read the verse in its original context. Why does it look like Matthew misused this text? Read a commentary on Matthew and tell me how the author of that commentary resolved the problem.
1The minor prophets are the twelve short books after Daniel in our English Bibles. The are not minor in importance, but are merely so in length. Together they compose one scroll.
2Slaves according to the law could be redeemed for thirty shekels. At this time slaves who were not being redeemed but just being purchased went for fifty shekels.
3byr (rib) is the Hebrew word for lawsuit. It appears in the following contexts: Hos. 2:4; 4:1, 4; 12:3.