The Book of Hosea
The Book of Hosea or Hosea is a Biblical text that forms a part of the Jewish Bible Tanakh, and is included in the section of Minor Prophets. It is offered as a prophetic oracle as well as a narrative history. The content of the Book of Hosea presents events that occur in a melancholic and dark period of Israeli history, when the Northern Kingdom saw its decline during 8th century BC. At this time, the people turned away from the one true God and instead served the Canaanite god Baal. Sins such as perjury, theft, homicide and sexual debauchery reached an all-time high. In the midst of all such social chaos, Hosea declares that God will carry out his judgment and let their nation be destroyed by Assyria unless the people make amends for their sins.
The Book of Hosea starts with God commanding Hosea to take an ill-reputed, promiscuous woman as his wife. Hosea obediently carries out God’s command. The marriage here is a symbolic representation of the covenant between Yahweh and Israel. By worshipping other gods, people of Israel have broken the commandments of the covenant and have shown their unfaithfulness. Israel is thus symbolized by an adulterous woman who violates the rules of a marital relationship.
After getting married to Gomer, Hosea has a son whom he names Jezreel after the name of a valley in Israel which saw much bloodshed in the past, courtesy of the Northern Kingdom rulers. The name Jezreel signifies the meaning of “God sows”. Hosea named his son in this way so as to signify a prophecy meted out against the ruler of the Northern Kingdom, saying that they would eventually pay for their bloodied activities.
Furthermore in the Book of Hosea, the couple then has a daughter whom God commanded should be named as Lo-ruhamah. The name of Lo-ruhamah signified the meaning of “unloved” or “someone who is pitied on”. This was done to convey the message to Israel that even though Yahweh will have pity on Southern Kingdom, he won’t be merciful towards the Northern Kingdom whose destruction is imminent. Although there is speculation whether Lo-ruhamah was fathered by Hosea or any of Gomer’s extramarital lovers, it doesn’t present a significant point against Gomer’s adulterous behavior.
When Gomer has a son, he was named as Lo-ammi as per Yahweh’s command. Since the name Lo-ammi means “not mine” or “not my people”, it might be an indication that the girl child was born of an extramarital affair. The child bearing this shameful name indicated that the people of Northern Kingdom will eventually face shame as they will no longer be God’s People.
As Gomer had all of her children from her adulterous affairs, Hosea eventually divorced her and stayed apart from her. After divorce, Gomer continued in her earlier ways and soon was hardly any different from other slaves. However, Hosea still harbored amorous feelings for her. Hosea then went on to make necessary provisions to restore her moral character. The remaining portions of the book of Hosea deal with Hosea’s ideas regarding the nature of Yahweh as well as Yahweh’s relationship to Israeli people. Hosea’s poetic expressions and strong analogies can be vividly noticed throughout the book of Hosea.