Symbolic actions and their representation

1. Hosea took a harlot as wife.

The Lord told Hosea to take a wife of whoredom and take children of whoredoms. (1:2) There are several meanings to it:

(a) The Israelites “hath committed great whoredom, departing from the Lord”. (1:2) This means that the Israelites worshipped idols instead of the Lord their God.

(b) “She is not my wife, neither am I her husband”. (2:2)

  • Her infidelity disqualifies her as wife. She still follows after her lovers as her breadwinner. (2:5) The Israelites worship Baal with the treasure given them by the Lord. (2:8) They think that their wealth is the blessing from Baal. (2:12-13)

  • When Israel receives attack, she seeks help from Egypt or Assyria, not from the Lord.

(c) The Lord will still betroth the harlot. (2:19) The harlot will call her husband “Ishi” (my husband) and not “Baali” (Baal, my lord) anymore. Israel will once again worship the Lord instead of Baal. The Lord will love and heal Israel; Israel will return to the Lord again and forsake idols. (14:4-8) The Lord will be the king of Israel. (13:9-10)

2. Call Hosea’s son “Jezreel”.

The Lord asked Hosea to take a wife of whoredom, who bore him a son. The Lord told him to call the son “Jezreel”, meaning the Lord “will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu” very soon and destroy the kingdom of the house of Israel. The Lord “will also break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel”. (1:2-5)

This prophesy came about during the reign of Jeroboam II king of Israel. Elisha prophesied that Jehu would smite the house of Ahab. (II Kings 9:1-10) Jehu became Israel’s king and killed Joram king of Judah in Jezreel. (9:14-26) Jehu killed Ahaziah king of Israel and his children, Ahab’s 70 sons and his wife Jezebel. The Lord once prophesied the death of Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel. (I Kings 21:20-24) The Lord promised to keep Jehu to the 4th generation. Jeroboam is the 3rd generation. Jeroboam’s son Zachariah reigned 6 months and was smitten by Shallum. (II Kings 15:8-12) Shallum began to reign in the 39th year of Uzziah. (15:13) So, the above prophesy of Hosea was fulfilled in the year of Uzziah king of Judah.

3. Call Hosea’s daughter “Loruhamah”.

Hosea’s wife bore him a daughter. The Lord told him to call her name “Loruhamah”, meaning the Lord “will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel but take them away.” (1:6)

This prophesy seemingly refers to the invasion of Samaria by the Assyrians in 722 B.C. The Assyrians then capture the Israelites to Syria. There are other places in this book that mention the occurrence of this historical event:

  • An enemy shall come against Israel. (8:1-3)

  • The king of Israel shall be cut off. (10:7)

  • A tumult shall arise and the king of Israel shall be cut off. (10:14-15)

  • The Assyrian shall be king. (11:5)

  • An enemy shall come from the east and spoil the treasure of Samaria and the city shall be desolate. The people of Samaria shall fall by the sword. (13:15-16)

4. Call Hosea’s 2nd son “Loammi”.

Hosea’s wife bore him another son. The Lord told him to call the son “Loammi”, meaning “ye are not my people and I will not be your God”. (1:8)

The Israelites are “the children of whoredoms”. (2:4)

The Lord kept complaining that Israel worshipped idols instead of the Lord. She built altars in high places.

5. The Lord told Hosea to love an adulteress. (3:1)

It represents “the love of the Lord toward the children of Israel, who look to other gods.” (3:1). Israel will eventually return to the Lord and seek him. (3:5)

6. Hosea’s brethren “Ammi” and sisters “Ruhamah”. (2:1)

(a) From “Loammi” to “Ammi”.

“Not my people” becomes “my people”. The Lord “will say to them which were not my people, ‘Thou art my people’; and they shall say, ‘Thou art my God.’ ” (2:23)

(b) From “Loruhamah” to “Ruhamah”.

“No mercy” becomes “have mercy”. The Lord “will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy”. (2:23)

Sins of Israel

1. commit adultery, meaning worshipping Baal and idols (2:2,4,5,8,13; 3:1,3; 4:2,12-19; 5:3,4; 6:10; 8:4-6,11-14;
    9:1,10; 10:1-2,5,8; 11:2; 12:11; 13:1,2)

2. ignore/forget/reject God’s law and commandments (4:1,6,10; 8:1,12; 9:17)

  • swearing, lying, killing, stealing, committing adultery (4:2; 5:2; 6:8; 7:1-4; 10:13; 11:12; 12:1,7,8)
  • backslide from God (背離神) (4:16; 11:7)
  • begotten strange children (5:7)

3. priests sin (4:7-8; 5:1; 6:9; 10:5)

4. rulers/kings sin (4:18; 5:1; 7:3-7,16; 9:15)

5. deal treacherously against God, meaning broke covenant (5:7; 6:7; 7:13-16; 10:4)

6. pride, not return to God and seek Him (5:5; 7:10,16; 10:13; 11:7; 13:6,16)

7. seek help from Assyria (5:13; 7:11; 8:9; 12:1)

8. seek help from Egypt (7:11,16; 12:1)

9. set up kings and princes by themselves (8:4)


Penalty of Israel

  • The Lord will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu. (1:4)
  • He will destroy the kingdom of the house of Israel. (1:4)
  • He will have no mercy upon the house of Israel. (1:6; 2:4)

  • He will not be their God. (1:8)

  • He will keep Israel from finding her lovers so that she will return to her husband. (2:6-7)  
  • He will take away from Israel food and clothing, discover her nakedness and cease all her feasts and destroy all her trees. (2:9-12)
  • Israel shall be without a king and a prince, a sacrifice and an image, an ephod and teraphim (家中的神像). (3:3-4)
  • The land shall mourn and everyone shall languish (衰微). (4:3)
  • People and the prophets shall fall. Israel shall have no priest and be rejected and forgotten by the Lord.    (4:5-6)
  • He will change their glory into shame. They shall lack food and descendants. (4:10)
  • The rulers shall be ashamed. (4:19)
  • They shall receive judgment. They shall fall. They shall not find the Lord. (5:1,5,6)
  • Israel shall be desolate. They shall be oppressed and broken. (5:9,11)
  • The Lord will tear Ephraim as a lion. (5:14) [ Note: Ephraim was the largest tribe in Israel and so, frequently, was a synonym for the Northern Kingdom. (Dr. Constable's Notes on Hosea, 2010 Edition,  www.soniclight.com/constable/notes) ]
  • When Ephraim calls to Egypt and Assyria, the Lord will spread a net upon her. (7:11-12)
  • Their princes shall fall by the sword. This shall be their derision (譏笑) in the land of Egypt. (7:16)
  • An enemy shall pursue Israel. (8:3)
  • The calf of Samaria shall be broken in pieces. They shall reap whirlwind and yield no meal. Any yield shall be swallowed up by the strangers. They shall be among the Gentiles. (8:6-8)
  • Ephraim shall return to Egypt. (8:13)
  • The Lord will send fire upon the cities of Judah and devour the palaces. (8:14)
  • They shall not have crops and wine. They shall not dwell in the Lord’s land. Ephraim shall return to Egypt. They shall eat unclean things in Assyria. They shall not make offerings to the Lord. Egypt shall gather them and Memphis shall bury them. (9:2-6)
  • The days of recompense (報應) are coming. (9:7)
  • Ephraim’s glory shall fly away. They will have no children. (9:11-14)

  • The Lord will drive them out of his house. They shall bear no fruit. He will slay the beloved fruit of their womb. He will cast them away. They shall be wanderers among the nations. (9:15-17)  

  • He shall break down their altars and destroy their images. (10:2)
  • The calves of Bethaven (伯亞文) shall be carried to Assyria. The king shall be cut off. The high places of Aven (伯亞文) shall be destroyed. (10:5-8)
  • A tumult shall arise. All her fortresses shall be spoiled. The king of Israel shall be cut off. (10:14-15)
  • Israel shall not return to the land of Egypt, but the Assyrian shall be his king. The sword shall devour them. (11:5-6)
  • The Lord shall punish and recompense (報應) Judah. (12:2)
  • The Lord shall return his reproach unto Ephraim. (12:14)
  • Ephraim’s images shall pass away as the smoke. (13:3)
  • The Lord will tear them as a lion, leopard and bear. (13:7-8)
  • An east wind shall dry the spring and fountain of Israel. An enemy shall spoil the treasure of Samaria. People shall fall by the sword. (13:15-16)

Historic background of Israel with the invasion of Assyria

Shallum reigned 1 month in Samaria and was smitten by Menahem (米拿現). Menahem reigned 10 years. Pul (普勒) king of Assyria came against Samaria. Menahem gave him money and he turned back. Pekahiah (比加轄) reigned after his father for 2 years. His captain Pekah (比加) conspired against him and smote him. Pekah (比加) reigned 20 years.

In the days of Pekah, Tiglathpileser (提革拉毗列色) king of Assyria came and took many cities and carried people captive to Assyria. Hoshea (何細亞) conspired against Pekah and smote him and reigned in the 20th year of Jotham king of Judah (the 4th year of Ahaz, since Jotham reigned 16 years only as stated below). (II Kings 15:17-31)

Jotham reigned 16 years and his son Ahaz reigned in the 17th year of Pekah. Ahaz reigned 16 years. (II Kings 15:32-16:1)

During the reign of Hoshea, Shalmaneser (撒縵以色) king of Assyria came up against him. Hoshea became his servant and gave him presents. But the king of Assyria found conspiracy in Hoshea (何細亞背叛), for he had sent messengers to So (梭) king of Egypt and he brought no present to the king of Assyria as he had done year by year.

Therefore, the king of Assyria shut him up and bound him in prison. Then the king of Assyria came up throughout all the land and went up to Samaria and besieged it 3 years. In the 9th year of Hoshea(the 12th year of Ahaz), the king of Assyria took Samaria and carried Israel away into Assyria and placed them in Halah (哈臘) and Habor by the river of Gozan (歌散的哈博河邊) and in the cities of the Medes (米底亞人). Hoshea has reigned Israel for 9 years. (II Kings 17:1-6)

Words of promise and encouragement

  • The children of Israel will multiply. They will be God’s people and sons of living God. They will be gathered and have a head. (1:9-11)
  • They will be God’s people and receive mercy. (2:1)
  • God will give vineyards; they will sing; God will be their husband; God will make a covenant with them; they will lie down safely; God will betroth them as wife forever; they shall know the Lord; they will obtain mercy and be God’s people. (2:14-23)
  • They shall return and seek the Lord and fear him. (3:1-5)
  • The Lord will feed them. (4:16)
  • They will seek the Lord. (5:15)
  • They shall return to the Lord; he will raise them up and they shall live. (6:1-3)
  • The Lord will make Ephraim to ride and Judah to plow; the Lord will rain righteousness. (10:11-12)
  • The Lord shall repent and not destroy Ephraim; they shall walk after the Lord; he will place them in their houses. (11:8-11)
  • Judah will rule with God. (11:12)
  • Turn to God; keep mercy and judgment; wait on God. (12:5-6)
  • The Lord will make them dwell in tabernacles. (12:9)
  • They shall know no god but the Lord as the only savior. (13:4)
  • The Lord is their help; he will be their king. (13:9-10)
  • The Lord will ransom them from the power of the grave. (13:14)
  • Hosea exhorts Israel to return to the Lord and take away all their iniquity. (14:1-3)
  • The Lord will heal their backsliding; they shall return and revive and bear fruit. (14:4-8)
  • The wise shall understand the ways of the Lord; the just shall walk in them. (14:9)