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Literature / Book of Hosea

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One of the books of the Minor Prophets from the Old Testament. Here a prophet named Hosea is called by God to marry a prostitute to serve as an example for His concern and faithful love to His unfaithful people Israel.

Structure of the book:

  • Hosea is called to marry a prostitute (Hosea chapter 1)
  • God speaks against unfaithful Israel (Hosea chapter 2)
  • Hosea redeems his wife (Hosea chapter 3)
  • The threefold accusation and call to repent (Hosea chapters 4 to 7)
  • The alternating lament of the Lord and Hosea (Hosea chapters 8 to 14)

This book provides examples of:

  • Arranged Marriage: Hosea's marriage to Gomer, which was arranged by God for the purpose of showing Israel a particular message He wanted to tell them.
  • Burning with Anger/Evil Is Burning Hot: Hosea 7:6-7, speaking about the people of Israel:
    For they are kindled like an oven.
    Their heart burns within them;
    their anger smolders all night;
    in the morning it blazes like a flaming fire.
    They are all hot as an oven,
    and they devour their judges.
    All their kings have fallen,
    and none of them calls to Me.
  • Cub Cues Protective Parent: God says in Hosea 13:8 (NET Bible), concerning Israel: "I will attack them like a bear robbed of her cubs – I will rip open their chests."
  • Decadent Court: Hosea 7:3-4, speaking about Israel's monarchy:
    They make the king glad with their wickedness,
    and the princes with their lies.
    They are all adulterers,
    like an oven heated by a baker,
    who ceases stirring the fire
    after kneading the dough until it is leavened.
  • Elite Man–Courtesan Romance: God tells Hosea to go marry a prostitute. But she's not the heart-of-gold type and soon starts cheating on him. So he's angry with her for a while and throws her out, but then God tells him to go and woo her back. It's all a big metaphor for God's relationship with Israel.
  • Foreshadowing: Hosea 11:1, where God says "Out of Egypt I have called My son," which contextually is referring to God delivering His people Israel out of Egypt, is interpreted by Christians as a prophecy of God calling Jesus Christ out of Egypt to return to the land of Judea when King Herod the Great, who wanted to kill Him, had died.
  • Frivolous Lawsuit: "They make many promises, take false oaths and make agreements; therefore lawsuits spring up like poisonous weeds in a plowed field." (Hosea 10:4, NIV 2011 edition)
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: "From the power of Sheol I will rescue them, from death I will redeem them. Death, where are your plagues? Sheol, where is your destruction? My eyes will remain closed to your pleas for compassion." (Hosea 13:14, International Standard Version)
  • Hookers and Blow:
    • Mentioned by God about Israel in Hosea 4:10-11:
    They shall eat, but not be satisfied;
    they shall play the whore, but not multiply,
    because they have forsaken the LORD
    to cherish whoredom, wine, and new wine,
    which take away the understanding. (English Standard Version)
    • Also in Hosea 4:18 (NET Bible): "They consume their alcohol, then engage in cult prostitution; they dearly love their shameful behavior."
  • Human Sacrifice: Mentioned in Hosea 13:2 about Ephraim (Israel):
    Now they sin more and more; they make idols for themselves from their silver, cleverly fashioned images, all of them the work of craftsmen. It is said of these people, "They offer human sacrifice and kiss the calf-idols." (NIV 1984 edition)
  • I Can Change My Beloved: Deconstructed. Hosea takes a known prostitute as his wife (see above), and tries to make a respectable wife out of her, but she just won't give up her wanton ways, just as God has taken Israel unto Himself as a wife and yet Israel persists in her rebellious idolatry.
  • I Have No Son!: Two of Gomer's children, Lo-Ruhamah and Lo-Ammi, are symbols of God disregarding the northern kingdom of Israel as being His people or His children at the time they were born and living.
  • Magical Abortion: A curse that God would put upon the women of the kingdom of Israel, according to Hosea 9:14, is a miscarrying womb and dry breasts.
  • Meaningful Name: Two of Gomer's children, which were most likely fathered out of wedlock, are given the names Lo-Ruhamah (No Mercy) and Lo-Ammi (Not My People) as a sign to Israel that God will no longer show them any mercy and that He will not consider them His people anymore.
  • My Girl Is a Slut: Zig-Zagged. Gomer whores herself to other men, which is understandably considered a bad thing, but Hosea is instructed to remain faithful to her to symbolize God's love to Israel.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: With the first child named Jezreel, God says that He is ready to pay back for all the blood Jehu son of Jehoshaphat had shed in Jezreel, recounting his Knight Templar ways regarding the massacre of King Ahab's royal family in 2nd Kings chapters 9 and 10.
  • Polyamory: An alternate reading of the book suggests that God had Hosea marry another woman besides Gomer, with Hosea being an example of God and his two wives being an example of both Judah and Israel.
  • Property Line: "The princes of Judah are like those who move boundary markers. I will pour out my rage on them like a torrential flood!" (Hosea 5:10, NET Bible)
  • Satellite Character: Gomer, if you stop to think about it. Seriously, God could have had Hosea adopt a rebellious, kleptomaniacal Street Urchin as his son, and not much of His message would have been changed.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: God to the people of Israel in Hosea 5:15:
    I will go. I will return to my place
    until they admit their guilt and seek my face.
    In their distress they will earnestly seek me. (Evangelical Heritage Version)
  • Shameful Strip: God tells Israel, personified as Gomer, in Hosea 2:2-3 to put away her harlotry and her adultery, or He will "strip her naked and leave her as in the day that she was born."
  • Son of a Whore: Two of Gomer's children, Lo-Ruhamah and Lo-Ammi, are most likely conceived with other men being their fathers, since there's no mention of Hosea being responsible for their conception.
  • Sterility Plague: "They will eat but not be satisfied; they will have sex like prostitutes, but they will not have children, because they have rejected the LORD to devote themselves to false religious practices." (Hosea 4:10-11, Common English Bible)
  • Traumatic C-Section: God to Israel in Hosea 13:16:
    Samaria shall bear her guilt,
    because she has rebelled against her God;
    they shall fall by the sword;
    their little ones shall be dashed in pieces,
    and their pregnant women ripped open. (English Standard Version)
  • Where Is Your X Now?: God to Israel in Hosea 13:10-11:
    Where now is your king,
    to save you in all your cities?
    Where are all your rulers—
    those of whom you said,
    “Give me a king and princes”?
    I gave you a king in my anger,
    and I took him away in my wrath. (English Standard Version)
  • Words Can Break My Bones: God says this to Israel in Hosea 6:4-5:
    "What can I do with you, Ephraim?
    What can I do with you, Judah?
    Your love is like the morning mist,
    like the early dew that disappears.
    Therefore I cut you in pieces with my prophets,
    I killed you with the words of my mouth;
    my judgments flashed like lightning upon you." (NIV 1984 edition)
  • Would Hurt a Child: God says in Hosea 9:16, that "even though they [the people of Israel] give birth, I will put to death their much-loved little ones."