Reading Guide to Hosea 3

I am continuing on with my series on reading the minor prophets. See my cheat sheet for the minor prophets, Intro to HoseaHosea 1, and Hosea 2. My recommended way to use this guide is to go read Hosea 3, come back here look through the post, then basically read them side by side, reading through the verse and checking here if there is something you find confusing.

This is a short chapter, but 4 is long and I had planned to have something up yesterday, so I’ll stick with just 3 for now. It is an odd chapter, with many strange phrases and old language/measurements. Plus, James Montgomery Boice calls this the greatest chapter in the Bible. So, no pressure.

Chapter 3
First off, who are we talk about here? Is the focus on ‘again‘ as in returning to Gomer or is it another adulterous wife? Boice and the NAC tend to lean to the former, while Tyndale and WBC say no, it is a new wife. Boice argues that he is buying back one whom has left him for another, as Christ does with his blood. WBC argues that this doesn’t make sense and because in Christ we are a new creation and are a new bride in a eschatological sense. I tend to agree with this logic as well. This is in fact a second wife. However, the implications drawn from the rest of the chapter are the same.

1. Raisin Cakes – raisins were thought to be aphrodisiacs in the ANE. It is also possible that they were associated with cultic temple worship, including temple prostitutes (WBC).

2. He buys here, this would be the bride price (also leading credence to the new wife theory). In the ANE you essentially purchased your wife from her father as she was his property and will now be yours.

Female slaves typically cost about 30 shekels. So, Hosea didn’t quite have the money, as he pays 15 shekels of coins and about 15 shekels worth of barley. A homer was about 6 bushels and a lethech was about 3. Either way, the equivalent is 30 pieces of silver, the same price that was put on Christ’s life.

3. Assuming a new wife, and either an adulterous one or a prostitute (see my earlier explanation), this would be strange to her. She was purchased, but told not to have sex for many days with either him or any other men. Likewise, Hosea will abstain (so will I also be to you).

4. Sacrifice or pillar – two important items of  worship
Ephod – garment worn by priest during divination
Household gold/Teraphim – pagan items that were consulted for divination
The sacrifice and Ephod are orthodox, the pillar and teraphim are ‘abominably pagan’ (WBC). Israel was guilty of syncretism, mixing pagan and true beliefs. They will soon have neither as Hosea’s wife will be with neither him nor another.

5. Future restoration of Israel and the (new) Covenant people. Even though they have sinned and turned from Yahweh, in the end, He will accept them with love and they will seek Him and the Davidic King that is Christ on the Throne.

Commentaries
Hosea, Joel: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture (The New American Commentary)
The Minor Prophets: Hosea-Jonah (Expositional Commentary) (Volume 1)
Hosea (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries)
Hosea-Jonah, Volume 31 (Word Biblical Commentary)

Reading Guide to Hosea 2

I am continuing on with my series on reading the minor prophets. See my cheat sheet for the minor prophets, Intro to Hosea and Hosea 1. My recommended way to use this guide is to go read Hosea 2, come back here look through the post, then basically read them side by side, reading through the verse and checking here if there is something you find confusing. Note I am using the Chapter breaks that take what is verse 2:1-2 in some versions and makes it verses 1:10-11. 

Chapter 2
2. Rebuke your mother, for she has lost the right to be called wife and mother. This chapter starts of with the voice of an ‘aggrieved husband and father, speaking as plaintiff before the court at first addressing his children’ – WBC.

5. The other lovers are Baal. This continues the marriage/covenant metaphor, so Israel becomes unfaithful to Yahweh.

7. Though she seeks others, she does not find and does not get what she wants. Therefore, she decided to return (the Hebrew word implies repentance) to her original lover, the to whom she has been unfaithful.

9-13. Retribution comes, the punishment for apostasy. Israel worshiped Baal, believing their agricultural blessing came from him. The used the bounty and gold/silver that Yahweh blessed them with as offerings to him. They did not know that it was Yahweh all along. So he will take from them. He will take back the blessings. Not only that, he will curse/destroy their vineyards and fig trees. They will be exposed (no longer protected) and no one will rescue them.

14-15. In a twist, Yahweh decides he will seduce(romance) her. The valley has the meaning of punishment. Instead, He will make it a place of hope. The metaphor in these verses is that the will be as new loves, after God had brought out of Egypt and into the wilderness. They loved Yahweh, and worshiped him only.

16-21. The day of the Lord, this alludes to the future day of the Victory of Yahweh and the restoration of Israel. The will once again ‘call on the name of the Lord’. The will no longer look to Baal. There will be new covenant in that day. There will eventually be no more war or danger and the people shall rest at ease.

22-23. They will again be provided for with crops and bounty – wine and grains. Jezreel will not have the punishment connotation but will mean it’s true (Hebrew) meaning, Yahweh sows. He will restore the land to Israel. As they call on Yahweh as Lord, they will be blessed and will be His People. Therefor, ‘No Mercy’ and ‘Not My People’ will be destroyed and removed – as in they will not longer exist, because now, they He will say ‘You are my people’ and they will say ‘You are out God.’

Commentaries
Hosea, Joel: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture (The New American Commentary)
The Minor Prophets: Hosea-Jonah (Expositional Commentary) (Volume 1)
Hosea (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries)
Hosea-Jonah, Volume 31 (Word Biblical Commentary)

Reading Guide to Hosea 1

I am continuing on with my series on reading the minor prophets. See my cheat sheet for the minor prophets and my Intro to Hosea. My reccomended way to use this guide is to go read Hosea 1, come back here look through the post, then basically read them side by side, reading through the verse and checking here if there is something you find confusing. Note I am using the Chapter breaks that take what is verse 2:1-2 in some versions and makes it verses 1:10-11. 

Chapter 1
2. Many variants exist here for the whom he is told to marry. Version will say promiscuous, adulterous or possible unfaithful, or as in the ESV, wife of whoredom, or you’ll see prostitute. The word in the Hebrew means promiscuous. The NAC helpfully points out, that there is very little difference in a promiscuous woman and prostitute in these times. Women had no way to work or make money to support themselves, so either she is promiscuous and lives off the support and ‘gifts of her lovers’, or she is directly paid to have sex. Either way, she is breaking covenant vows as well as receiving money for sex. WBC takes this as symbolism, in that all are promiscuous, living in unfaithful company. This is why the children are likewise called promiscuous. I tend to agree with the NAC that he married an ‘immoral woman’. One who was known to be promiscuous before the marriage and one Hosea may have suspected would be so after marriage as well.
The children obviously are not prostitutes, but, if not symbolic, they are possible out of wedlock, or likely, at least for the second two, illegitimate children of other men, during her marriage to Hosea.

4. Jezreel was a place and valley that may have stuck in the minds of Israelite as a place where there was bloodshed. Specifically that which Jehu was commanded to do in Kings. Why would his house then be punished? NAC translate the sentence to be – God will bring the bloodshed of Jezreel to the house of Jehu. Not necessarily for what Jehu did, but what he and his household failed to learn from the commands and actions.

6. While Jezreel doesn’t necessarily mean anything (possibly God sows), the second child is given a name of meaning. The name Lo-Ruhamah means ‘no compassion/mercy. ‘

7. Judah will be saved from destruction, but not through soldiers or war, for some as of yet unspecified reason.

8. Not sure why we are given this detail. Children were typically weaned at roughly three years old. This is perhaps to give us an understanding of the length of time of the prophecy.

9. The third child is also given a symbolic mean. Lo-Ammi means ‘not my children.’

10-11. Seems to contradict the oracle of the third child. Not my children, then assurance of the children. This actually follows many prophets actions in that there will be immediate punishment, followed by restoration with God as the covenant people. This is a reminder of that covenant and promise of future blessings. Instead of Jezreel meaning the coming destruction, as in v. 4, it will be remembered due to a ‘Day of the Lord’ type event where enemies of Israel are destroyed, either literally or metaphorically. That is, it will go from having a name like ‘Pearl Harbor’ to being ‘Normandy/D-Day.’

Commentaries
Hosea, Joel: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture (The New American Commentary)
The Minor Prophets: Hosea-Jonah (Expositional Commentary) (Volume 1)
Hosea (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries)
Hosea-Jonah, Volume 31 (Word Biblical Commentary)

Reading Hosea

Well, it’s come to my attention that a ‘readers guide’ is actually something different than I was use the term to mean. For that reason, I shall no longer refer to my little series on the Minor Prophets as such. Instead, I will now call them a ‘reading guide’.

On that note, I want to introduce Hosea. Douglas Stuart, writing the commentary for the Word Biblical Commentary, says ‘With the possible exception of the book of Job, no other OT book contains as high a proportion of textual problems as does Hosea’, similarly the New American Commentary starts off with ‘ Hosea is not an easy book.’ Also, James Boice calls Hosea the ‘second greatest story ever told.’ So, I figure as a pretend theologian with no knowledge of Hebrew, I’d weight in. Actually, this is just my attempt to continue on my idea of trying to make the minor prophets easier to understand. See my previous posts – Reading the Minor Prophets and my Cheat Sheet to the  Minor Prophets.

Intro to Hosea
We have in the text when Hosea claims to have prophesied ‘during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaze, and Hezikiah, kings of Judah.’ This would be roughly 50 years, from 760 B.C. until 710 B.C. Hosea is called to marry a prostitute. This seems unlikely, and many scholars do not take this approach. Some view her description as meaning someone who will become a harlot. That is to say that she will betray Hosea. A minority opinion is that she is not a prostitute at all, but however, she is someone whom will become an adulteress. That is, Hosea was commanded to marry someone whom he knew would eventually be unfaithful.

Either way Hosea marries Gomar, whom is a representative of Israel. That is because Israel is a prostitute, and adulteress before Yahweh. She claims to be with him, but instead wonders and looks to find solace and protection in others. Israel was not faithful to Yahweh, she hedged her bets and worshiped other gods, in synchronicism, because she did not believe. Hosea is called upon to show Israel, in vivid example, what it is they are actually doing in their relationship with Yahweh.

Commentaries
Hosea, Joel: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture (The New American Commentary)
The Minor Prophets: Hosea-Jonah (Expositional Commentary) (Volume 1)
Hosea (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries)
Hosea-Jonah, Volume 31 (Word Biblical Commentary)