The Mercy of God both precedes Judgement and is the result of it.
Scroll of the Twelve Prophets:
The book of Hosea is the first of twelve books collected into a single scroll some time prior to the second century BCE (ref. Dead Sea Scrolls 4QXII; Sirach [Ecclesiasticus] 49:10). The orthodox Jewish order of the books within the scroll of the twelve prophets is: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah (from the period of Assyrian empire), Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah (from during the decline of the Assyrian empire), Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi (dating from the post exilic era).
Given what we know from extra-Biblical textual sources, it is likely that the twelve prophets were combined into one scroll within a century of the completion of the book of Malachi. Thus, the scroll of the twelve prophets has taken its place alongside the other canonical Jewish prophetic books of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel (Daniel is considered part of the Ketuvim [poetry books] in the Jewish canon [TaNaKH].
Author and Dating of the book of Hosea:
Regardless of the specific date of writing (be it by a scribe or by Hosea himself), Hosea prophesied sometime in the mid eighth century BCE. His ministry began in tandem with that of Amos, who threatened God’s judgement at the hands of an unnamed foreign power which Hosea identifies as Assyria (7:11; 8:9; 10:6; 11:11).
Given the kings mentioned in Hosea 1:1, Hosea would have ministered for approximately 60 years. The Talmud calls Hosea the greatest prophet of his generation (Pesachim 87a), a bold claim given that Isaiah was one of his contemporaries. Hosea is unique in that he is the only one of the writing prophets to come from the northern kingdom (10 tribes/Israel). His prophecy is addressed to the northern kingdom. However, his work references the kings of Judah as a means of dating and is therefore, most likely to have been written in the territory of Judah following the fall of the northern capital, Shomron (Samaria) (722-721 BCE) [1:7, 11; 4:15; 5:5, 10, 13; 6:4, 11; 10:11; 11:12; 12:2]. This means that Hosea’s warnings to the northern kingdom were also intended as a warning to Judah. While Judah continued to dwell in the land under the repentant king Hezekiah, the southern kingdom was eventually taken into captivity by the Babylonian empire in 586 BCE (136 years after the demise of the northern kingdom) through a succession of invasions and as a result of political intrigue. This exile, while leaving a remnant of Judah in the land, nonetheless (generally speaking) meant the fullness of the exile of the entire nation (12 tribes) and was a judgement decreed by God of seventy years (Jeremiah 29:10) which ended in 516 BCE (there are varied scholarship estimations of the dating of the Babylonian exile).
Hosea lived in the final days of the northern kingdom, during which six kings reigned within a 25 year period (2 Kings 15:8-17:41). These kings are said to have been given by God “in anger” and taken away “in wrath” (13:11). The Assyrian empire was expanding to the west and Menachem king of Israel submitted the northern kingdom to the Assyrian empire, and paid tribute (2 Kings 15:19-20). Shortly afterward in 733 BCE Assyria dismembered the northern kingdom following the murder of Pekahiah, Menachem’s son by Pekah. Leaving only the territories of Ephraim and Manasseh. Then, due to the disloyalty of Pekah’s successor Hoshea (the king), Shomron (Samaria) was captured and its people exiled from 722 - 721 BCE. This was the end of the northern kingdom, but it was not the end of Israel.
Like the scroll of the prophet Isaiah, Hosea’s ministry proclaims a message of judgement and redemption pretexted by the holiness and love of God. The rhythm of the book is consistent with the redemptive meta-narrative of the Bible as a whole. Hosea’s book is essentially a Gospel (Good News) message. One that calls out the evil deeds of those to whom the offer of redemption is given. Like the Gospel, the book of Hosea recognizes the need for labeling and rebuking sinful behavior and exposing its consequences in order to inspire its hearers to return to God and receive His redemptive sacrificial love.
Throughout the book loving discipline is followed by the offer of unmerited favor, grace, mercy, and a return to right relationship. Hosea, like all God’s prophets, demands that the wicked acknowledge and repent of their sinful lifestyles and return to God. This too is the message of the Gospel. All are offered forgiveness but only the repentant receive it. Those who present God as love but fail to convey the message of repentance, turning away from evil, are enablers of the wicked. A Gospel devoid of rebuke is a false Gospel, nothing more than a vehicle carrying souls to torment. Like Hosea we are tasked with a message that exposes wickedness and requires repentance in order to receive redemption through the sacrificial love of God.
The first three chapters tell of Hosea’s family life, an historical account that also acts as an allegory for God’s relationship with Israel. Chapter 3 is likely a sequel to Chapter 1, making chapter 2 the observation of the actions of the wayward woman Gomer. Chapters 4 through 14 detail the idolatrous practices of Israel and her adoption of Canaanite deities. Hosea calls Israel to return to HaShem (YHVH). Hosea observes that it is Israel’s failure to acknowledge God which is at the root of her suffering and spiritual darkness (4:6; 13:4). God’s relationship with Israel is one of immutable love (2:19), likened to that of husband and wife, and later compared to the relationship between Father and child (11:1-4). Israel’s disloyalty toward God is likened to the behavior of a promiscuous woman and is a metaphor for idolatrous worship (4:13-14; 5:4; 9:1). Hosea details Israel’s worship of the Baalim (masters/husband gods) of the Canaanites and their sacrificing at high places used for the worship of false gods. Israel had also been worshipping the calf deity at Shomron (Samaria) [8:5; 10:5-6; 13:2], a return to the sin at Sinai (Exodus 32).
Ultimately the message of Hosea is one of God’s love for Israel and based on His character, a story relating His inability to utterly forsake her even when He has cause.
“I will heal their waywardness and love them freely, for My anger has turned away from them.” -Hosea 14:4 (NIV)
Hosea in Jewish liturgy:
It is interesting to note that Hosea plays a special role in orthodox Jewish liturgy. Hosea 14:2-10 is read in the afternoon service of Tish’ah b’av (the ninth day of the month of Av [coincides with July and/or August], and is the major day of communal mourning in the Jewish calendar. Although a large number of disasters are said to have befallen the Jews on this day, the major commemoration is of the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem in 586 B.C.E. and 70 C.E., respectively. Central to the observance of this day is fasting) by Sephardi and Yemenite communities. On Shabbat Shuvah (Sabbath of turning/returning) between Rosh HaShanah (New Year a.k.a Yom Teruah [Day of soundings]) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), Hosea 2:1-22 is read as haftarah (completion of the Torah) for the parashah B’midbar (Num. 1:1-4:20). Additionally, Hosea 2:21-22 (19-20) is prayed while binding Tefillin shel Yad (Prayer box of the hand) to the wedding finger (fingers) on the left hand.
“I will betroth you to me in perpetuity;
I will betroth you in righteousness and justice,
in immutable love and compassion.
I will betroth you in fidelity,
and you will acknowledge YHVH.” -Hosea 2:21-22 (19-20)
Hosea Transported in to Today’s Context:
Some things worth considering…
In the midst of today’s immoral world, and given the fact that even in ancient Israel during her days of immorality there were still a remnant community who were faithful to God, what would it be like for a righteous man who has been asked by God to marry a promiscuous woman for the purpose of revealing the love of God? Then to be instructed not to divorce her (though he had cause), and further to take her back and remain faithful to her in spite of her unrepentant nature.
How would such a man be viewed by the righteous remnant community of today’s world?
Consider the difficulties faced by such an individual as a result of his obedience and devotion toward HaShem (YHVH). Some among his righteous pairs in ancient Israel may well have challenged Hosea’s choices with sound Biblical reasoning. Others among the immoral majority may have used Hosea’s choice to marry the wayward woman as an excuse to take on promiscuous partners and even become promiscuous themselves. How we view and apply the lessons of Hosea to our lives today will directly influence our walk before HaShem, for better or worse.
Remember that for all intents and purposes Hosea was marrying a woman of his own ethnic religious faith community and was therefore not becoming unequally yoked (according to Torah). The indictment issued by this prophetic work is not against Hosea but against the hypocrisy of Gomer (Israel). Many righteous people among the faith community of today marry fellow believers in good conscience only to discover that a true heart change within that person has yet to occur.
Hosea’s calling should not be considered an excuse for believers as a whole to marry promiscuous people (of the same faith). However, nor does it negate the very real principle that teaches a salvation offered to all, including those who seem least likely or able to receive it. In truth, even the most hardened sinner can be redeemed through Yeshua our King Messiah. A lifestyle of sin can be incinerated by the blood of our King, and a new creation made from the ashes. It is important to recognize that new actions are the evidence of a person made new in Messiah.
Hosea Chapter 1:1-2:2 (1:1-11)
1 1 A Word, Essence, Substance (Devar) of the Lord (YHVH: Mercy) which happened (hayah) to, through Hosheia (Salvation) the son of Be’eiriy (My well/spring) , during the days of UziYah (My might is YHVH), Yotam (YHVH is perfect, complete), Achaz (grasp, seize), and YechizkiYah (Hezekiah: My strength has been YHVH), kings of Y’hudah (praised), and during the days of Yarav’am (Jeroboam: quarrelling people) the son of Yoash (YHVH fire), king of Israel (Yisra: overcome, El: in God).
In the Hebrew text the opening phrasing reveals the Word of God as the substance of God’s mind present and happening to and through Hosea, whose name is salvation. The beauty here is that the Word (Ha-Davar [John 1:1]), Who is Salvation Himself, the King Messiah, is manifest in substance upon the tongue of Salvation (Hosea). This book of prophecy begins and reaches its goal with Salvation, the son of Mayiym Chayiym (living waters), Be’eiriy “My wellspring”.
The Word, Essence, Substance of God doesn’t just come to Hosea, He (the Word) happens in Hosea.
HaShem, Who is the source of Israel’s living waters has been forsaken by the majority of Israel’s people. Therefore, out of love for Israel He has sent yet another prophet to draw their attention to their spiritual dehydration which has resulted from their rejection of Him.
“For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.” -Jeremiah 2:13
“With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” -Isaiah 12:3
“On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness.” -Zechariah 13:1
Yeshua answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” -John 4:10
“On the last day of the feast, the great day, Yeshua stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Yeshua was not yet glorified.” -John 7:37-39
The kings of Judah and the king of Israel who collectively spanned the ministry of Hosea are listed as they are for a number of reasons. By listing them this way the scribe gives us an approximation of the length of Hosea’s prophetic ministry and the historical period in which the prophet lived God’s Word in the presence of the people of Israel and Judah. As previously stated Hosea ministered for approximately 60 years in the mid eighteenth century BCE. We know this because the reigns of the kings listed begin in 793 BCE and span to 686 BCE, making it possible for Hosea to have lived to be over 100 years old. It is likely that Hosea began his ministry around the age of 25 years. Hosea was a contemporary of Isaiah, Amos and Micah. Therefore, it’s good to be aware of the messages of these three prophets when considering the message of Hosea.
We note that the kings of Judah are listed first and with some detail, while the king of Israel is listed last. The prophet clearly intends that the people of Judah take the demise of the northern kingdom seriously and repent of their own wickedness and unfaithfulness toward God. The destruction of the northern kingdom was inevitable at this point in time and acted as a dire warning to Judah, lest she too fall at the hands of a foreign power (Babylon 586 BCE).
Jeroboam II died during the reign of Uzziah (2 Kings 15:8). Therefore, from the Israelite perspective the book is understood from the last period of the northern kingdom’s waning strength. Whereas from the perspective of Judah, according to the listing of the kings of Judah, the book finds its context in the slightly earlier period where Israel first began to move from a position of political strength into one of political demise. Each perspective is relevant and the Hebrew text clearly intends to make the words of the prophet poignant for both Israel (northern kingdom) and Judah.
Additionally, the names of the kings have prophetic significance past, present, future, and when reading the text according to the meaning of the names one sees the redemptive purposes of God conveyed.
NB: In order to help non Hebrew readers understand the depth of meaning within the Hebrew text the following is an allegorical [drash (comparative), remez (hint) & sod (mystery)] reading, utilizing the Hebrew meanings of words and names:
A Word essence of Mercy happened through Salvation the son of My well-spring, during the days of my might is Mercy, Mercy is perfectly complete, grasping, my strength has been Mercy, kings of praise during the days of a quarrelling people, the son of Mercy’s fire, king of those who overcome in God. (Authors Paraphrase)
The allegorical reading presents a message of fire (judgement, purification) and Salvation (overcoming in God). Therefore, the literal, literary and allegorical interpretations are convergent. This is an excellent example of how one should utilize the rabbinic method of interpretation PaRDeS (P’shat [Plain meaning], Remez [hint], Drash [comparative], Sod [mystery]). All the components of PaRDeS that proceed from the P’shat (plain meaning) must submit to the plain meaning, which is precisely what occurs here when each sub-method of interpretation is applied to the text.
2 Beginning (Techilat) a Word, Essence, Substance (Diber) of the Lord (YHVH: Mercy) in Hosheia (be’Hosheia), and said (vayomer) the Lord (YHVH: Mercy) to (el) Hosheia (Salvation), “Go (leich), take (kach) to yourself (lecha) a woman (eishet) of promiscuities, fornications (zenuniym), and children (veyaldeiy) of promiscuities, fornications (zenuniym); for (kiy) a whore, fornicator, promiscuous woman (zanoh) of whoredom (tizneh) is the land (Ha-Aretz: Israel), from ceasing to follow after (mei’achareiy) the Lord (YHVH: Mercy).”
The command to marry (legitimize) a promiscuous woman presents Hosea with an opportunity to empathize with the grief of God regarding His promiscuous wife Israel. Hosea’s marriage to the promiscuous woman is not mere allegory as some suggest. The false choice between allegory and practical reality is unnecessary (Rashi & Abravanel say that this is literal [Pes. 87a], whereas Ibn Ezra, Radak & Maimonides claim that it is a prophetic vision, this is supported by the Targum). Hosea literally marries a promiscuous woman and this reality acts as a vehicle for allegory reflecting God’s relationship to wayward Israel. This verse sets the stage for the remainder of the book.
“Techilat” is not a new beginning, as in the case of “Bereishit”, but a beginning that takes place mid journey. The Word begins in Hosea in the midst of a faltering people who having begun in God have now stepped off the path and gone after other gods. Therefore, God sends His messenger to call Israel to return to right relationship with Himself.
The imagery of the marriage between God and Israel is also seen in the works of Jeremiah and Ezekiel.
In Biblical Hebrew narrative the repetition of something denotes that it is firmly established. In this verse the Hebrew root “zanah” (fornicator, harlot, whore) is employed four times, emphasising the fact that the idolatry of Israel has exceeded even the most debauched practices of the godless. This is a tragic indictment. One that could well be levelled at the community of believers today.
Hosea is instructed to take not only a promiscuous wife but also the children who are the fruit of her promiscuity. In light of the figurative application regarding God and Israel it is important to understand and sympathise with Hosea’s appointed task and the spiritual, emotional and practical turmoil that he must certainly have experienced. He is choosing to marry (legitimize) an unrepentant fornicator and to welcome her unrepentant children, who have grown in the knowledge of sexual sin (idolatry) as seed of that same sexual sin. We see this generational sin at work in the modern world. The reality of generational sexual sin is palpable. In fact, our movie and tv screens advocate for it. This present reality reflects the idolatrous spiritual condition of today’s secular world, but more poignantly, it reflects the present syncretised condition of the body of believers. After all, the message of Hosea is to the people of God (Israel), those who claimed to have overcome in God but were in fact hypocrites, idolaters, fornicators. This was no foreign harlot Hosea was marrying, but an Israelite woman. Sadly the modern body of believers is in no position to say “Thank God we are not like the whoring nation of Israel during the time of Hosea!” To the contrary, we are. Many claim to be followers of Messiah while practicing sexual sin, superstition, idolatry, debauchery, and the list goes on. Therefore, we to must repent or suffer the discipline of God.
The land of Israel is intrinsically linked to the people and the condition of the land is therefore affected by the behaviour of the people. Therefore, when God speaks through the prophet saying that the land of Israel is full of fornication (idolatry) and the fruit thereof, He is speaking of both physical and spiritual consequences. The disease of the spirit is reflected in the sexual diseases and the death that results from them. The people are weakened by their sin and are unable to resist their enemies, as a result of the physical condition of the people the land is unfruitful and unable to provide nutrition for the people, and so the cycle of sin and death are perpetuated. All this is happening among a people who have been afforded the instruction of God and the living waters that flow from Him.
So how has all this come about? The text is clear, it is the result of a people “ceasing to follow after the Lord”.
Why is the body of believers in such disarray today? Are we not guilty of this same cycle of perdition. If so, how have we arrived here? The same way Israel did, by turning away from devotion to God. We have made our religious practice just another app on our home screens, and we wonder why the world is turning to custard.
Rav Shaul (Paul) illuminates the abhorrent reality of Hosea’s experience when he writes to the early believers at Corinth:
“Don’t you realize that your bodies are actually members of Messiah? Should a man take his body, which is part of Messiah, and join it to a prostitute? Never!” -1 Corinthians 6:15
To say that God’s instruction to Hosea contradicts His Word is a lie. While it was forbidden for a priest to take a promiscuous woman as a wife, it was not a sin for a prophet to take a once promiscuous woman to wife. It was in fact an opportunity for that woman to be redeemed through the sacred unity of godly marriage. However, any subsequent act of adultery by that same woman was punishable by death. Hosea’s long suffering was to reflect the fact that in spite of Israel’s continued adulteries (idolatries) God had shown patience and great mercy toward her.
Allegorical Reading continued:
When a Word essence of Mercy in Salvation began to speak through Salvation, He said “Go, take to yourself a woman of promiscuous lifestyle and the children who are the fruit of her promiscuity, for the land of Israel is like a whore of whoring because they stopped following after Mercy. (Authors Paraphrase)
3 So he (Hosea: Salvation) went and took the certain, specific, definite (et) Gomer (complete, perfect, end, goal) the daughter (bat) of Divlayim (multiple pressed figs), and she conceived and bore him (lo) a son (ben).
It is worth noting that Gomer means “perfect, goal etc.” and that we can understand this to convey the idea that Salvation (Hosea, a figure for Messiah) sees the yet to be redeemed Israel (Gomer) as perfect outside of time and space, in the sense that he knows she will eventually repent through discipline and receive the atoning work of God. This reflects the meta-narrative of God’s redemptive purpose which finds its ultimate fullness in the redemptive work of Messiah Yeshua’s substitutionary sacrifice and the eternal covering blood of God.
We also note that Gomer is the daughter of sweet and abundant provision. The fig is the fruit of the tree which symbolises the seat of Israel’s teachers and commentators. This means that Gomer (Israel) is without excuse because she has been brought up in the ways of God’s Torah instruction and in the fruitfulness of godly life but has chosen to reject good instruction and turn aside to other gods.
The Hebrew “lo (him)” referring to Hosea is omitted in verses 6 and 9, making it more than likely that the two subsequent children were the progeny of adulterous relationships with other Israelite men, relationships entered into by Gomer while she was married to Hosea.
Allegorical Reading continued:
Salvation went and took a chosen woman Whom He saw perfect, in spite of her sinful lifestyle, she was the daughter of the abundant sweet fruit of the land, and she conceived and bore him a son. (Authors Paraphrase)
4 And the Lord (YHVH: Mercy) said to him (Hosea: Salvation), “Name him Yizre’el (sown by God); for in a little while I will visit, reckon, punish, care for (ufakadtiy) the (et) shed blood (demeiy) of Yizre’el (sown by God) upon (al) the house (beit) of Yeihu (YHVH is He), and I will cause to cease (vehishbatiy) the kingdom (mamlechut) of the house (beit) of Israel (the northern kingdom, Yisra: overcome, El: God). 5 And it will happen (v’hayah) in that day (be’yom) of the him (hahu) that I will break into pieces (veshavartiy) the (et) bow, (keshet) of Israel (Yisra: overcome, El: God) in the Valley (be’eimek) of Yizre’el (sown by God).”
The literal historical outworking of this prophecy sees the just punishing of Yeihu for the blood his house shed and the demise of the northern kingdom at the hand of the Assyrian Empire. Subsequently (136 years later) Judah also went into exile, however a remnant of Judah remained in Judea throughout the Babylonian exile. The allusion to the valley of Yizre’el (a plain in central Israel and a city on its perimeter [Joshua 17:16]) likely refers to the events described in 1 Kings 21:1-24; 2 Kings 9:21-35 (The demise of Jezebel [Baal exalts]).
In addition to the literal historic fulfilment of the prophecy there are the far reaching Messianic implications and the seeding of Messiah into time and space followed by the dispersion and return of Israel (the Jewish people) and the coming of God’s kingdom.
The name Yizre’el means “Seeded by God” and conveys both judgement and redemption. Seed is scattered and so the tribes of the north will be scattered in judgement against their idolatry. In addition a son seeded by God will bring both retribution and redemption to Israel as a whole (born of Judah), making the seeding a means of salvation.
This, Hosea’s firstborn son to Gomer is according to the previous verse “his” (Hosea’s) son, that is, of his seed. It is important to recognise that the name of this son denotes direct connection to God in a figurative sense and that this one seeded by God (Yizre’el) is a figure for justice and restoration. This son is a figure for One yet future (at the time of Hosea’s prophecy) seeded by God through the Jewish people, Who will put an end to apostate faith and break Israel into pieces, eventually sending all Israel into exile and then returning all the tribes of Israel to Judea where Israel in her entirety now known as Y’hudiym (Jews) will be reconciled to God through Him. This is why a distinction is made later in Hosea’s prophecy between the northern kingdom (Israel) and Y’hudah (Judah). Messiah will be seeded in Judah in the line of David.
We note that an end is to be put to the northern kingdom (Israel) but not to Israel/Jacob/Judah as a whole. This is of the utmost importance given the misuse of this text by the satanic “Continuationist” (Supersessionist, Replacement etc.) ideology of many modern Christian scholars and practitioners.
As alluded to in my commentary of the previous verse, there is no indication that the subsequent two children (v.6, v.9) were of Hosea’s seed, possibly denoting their illegitimacy.
“In that day” is an ambiguous phrase referring to the day, days, time period of God’s work of redemption and judgement through the One seeded by YHVH (Yizre’el), who is a figure for the King Messiah Yeshua, the only human being born of a woman to be directly seeded of God (Yizre’el).
Allegorical Reading continued:
And Mercy said to Salvation, “Name your son ‘Sown by the Judge’”; for in a little while I will require blood for the shed blood of he who I have sown from the house of the one who pretends that I AM his God, and I will put an end to the hypocritical kingdom of the house of those who claim to overcome in Me but do not. And it will come to pass that in the day of Him (Messiah) I will break into pieces the strength of those who claim to overcome in Me but do not, in the valley of the One Whom I have sown. (Authors Paraphrase)
6 Then she (Gomer) conceived again and gave birth to a daughter. And He (YHVH) said to him (Hosea), “Call, declare (kera) her name (shemah) Lo-ruchamah (no mercy, love, compassion, tenderness), for I will no longer have mercy (arachem) on the house of Israel (Yisra: overcome, El: God), nor (kiy) will I lift them up, carry them (naso), take them away (esa).
As mentioned previously Gomer conceived again but it is not said that she conceived by “him” Hosea. It is possible that lo-ruchamah was the daughter of another man (another Israelite).
We note that while the firstborn son was “named” the daughter and the subsequent son are “Declared by name”. In other words, the firstborn son is named without proclamation, whereas the children of judgement are declared as a warning to all who have ears to hear. This reflects the nature of Messiah’s (Yizre’el) first earthly ministry and the present declaration that warns our people in order to redeem all Israel (ethnic, religious, chosen) through Yeshua upon His return (Rom. 11:25-27).
“I will no longer have mercy” is directed toward the apostate among Israel. We must remember that in every generation Israel and Judah had a faithful remnant who served God, or else where did the prophets come from?
“Nor will I lift them up” is a statement of deep love and beautiful saving irony. God will give of Himself, not lifting up Israel but lifting up His Son the King Messiah Who is of her, seeded by Him, making the King Messiah (Yizre’el, Yeshua) to become accursed and hanging on a tree for the sake of Israel’s sins. Therefore, “He Who was without sin became a sin offering for us” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Allegorical Reading continued:
Then the one perfect in Salvation conceived again and gave birth to a daughter. Mercy instructed Salvation to call the daughter “No Mercy” for Mercy said “I will no longer have mercy on those who claim to overcome in Me but have instead rejected Me. Nor will I lift them up, or help them escape the fruit of their own wickedness.” (Authors Paraphrase)
7 And on the (ve’et) house (beit) of Y’hudah (praised) I will have mercy (arachem) and save (ve’hoshatiym) them in the Lord (Ba’YHVH: Mercy) the Judge (Elohim: God), and will not save them (oshiyeim) by bow, (be’keshet) or sword (uvecherev), or battle (uvemilchamah), by horses (be’sosiym), or horsemen (uve’farashiym).”
This reference is first to the temporal salvation of Judah during the Assyrian Empire but does not negate the later exile of Judah due to her sin (Babylonian exile 586 BCE). It is also a prophetic allusion to the fact that salvation Himself (Yeshua, Yizre’el) will come through the line of David of the tribe of Judah. Therefore, “Not by might or by power but by My Spirit says the Lord Who goes warring.” (Zechariah 4:6)
Allegorical Reading continued:
“And upon the house of praise I will have mercy and save them in Mercy the Judge, and will not save them by the strength of temporal things.” (Authors Paraphrase)
8 When she (Gomer) had weaned Lo-ruchamah (no mercy, love, compassion, tenderness), she conceived and gave birth to a son. 9 And He (YHVH) said to him (Hosea), “Call, declare (kera) his name (shemo) Lo-amiy (not My people), because you are not My people, and I (ve’anochiy) have not existed (lo Ehyeh) to you (lachem).”
Once again this child is not attributed to the seed of Hosea and is likely the progeny of an adulterous relationship with another Israelite.
NB: “Ehyeh asher Eyeh” is “I AM that I AM”, “I Exist for I Exist”. Therefore, when the Hebrew text of Hosea records HaShem’s words as “lo Eyeh lachem” it translates literally as “I don’t exist to you” rather than the popular English mistranslation “I am not your God”.
YHVH has never ceased to be Israel’s God.
Allegorical Reading continued:
When the one perfect in Salvation had weaned no mercy, she conceived again and gave birth to a son. Mercy instructed Salvation to call the son “’Not my people’ because you are not My people, I don’t exist to you”. (Authors Paraphrase)
I cannot emphasize enough the fact that God’s declaration “You are not My people” (Hosea 1:9) is not Him denying His people but an observation of their denial of Him. It is the inverse of the fact that the statement “He is our God” does not mean He belongs to us but that we belong to Him. The former is idolatry, the latter is, right relationship.
2:1 [1:10] And it will happen (ve’hayah) that the number (mispar)
of the children of Israel (beneiy Yisrael)
Will be like the sand (kechol) of the body of water (hayam),
Which cannot be measured (yimad) or counted, recorded (yisafeir);
And it will happen (ve’hayah) in the place (bimkum: the temple mount, hamakum)
Where it is said to them,
“Lo-amiy Not My people,”
It will be said to them,
“Beneiy El-Chay Children of the God of life.”
Almost as if in the same breath that issued the disappointment of God at the rejection shown Him by His people, He issues the promise born of His deep love for them.
In the first verse of the second chapter God immediately reverses the name and fate of His people Israel. Where He had said that He would put an end to her He now numbers her offspring as the sands of the waters. Where He had said “Not My people” He now says “Children of the God of Life!”
How is this possible? Through the seeded One (Yiz’re’el). Those who once chose to put an end to themselves through sin will repent and be numbered exponentially, and those who chose not to be called the people of God will repent and through the seeded One become Children of the God (Judge) of Life.
The God of Israel is God of Merciful Judgement. We know Him as Adonai (YHVH: Merciful) Elohim (Judge). His Mercy precedes His judgement. Put another way “Mercy triumphs over judgement”. (Yaakov [James] 2:13)
The rhythm of mercy, judgement, mercy fulfilled is the rhythm of all Scripture, the redemptive story of God and His creation.
In Israel’s sin we see our own sin and our desperate need to repent and be restored to right relationship with God. As Messiah followers we cannot afford to sit in judgement of Israel but must instead ask God to judge us and in sober self-examination, by His Spirit, allow Him to cleanse us of that which defiles Him in us (Imanu El) as our Groom, our Husband to be. We open ourselves to Him in the knowledge that “through one sacrifice Messiah has made perfect (Gomer) those who are being made holy (sanctification through discipline: Gomer in transition).” (Hebrews 10:14)
Allegorical Reading continued:
“And it will happen that the children of those who truly overcome in God will be as immeasurable as the sand of every body of water on earth. And it will happen that on the temple mount where I declared you ‘Not My people’ you will be declared ‘Children of the God of Life’”. (Authors Paraphrase)
2:2 [1:11] And gathered (ve’nikbetzu) shall be the children (beneiy) of Y’hudah (praised) and the children (beneiy) of Israel (Yisra: overcome, El: God), they will be gathered together (yachdav), And they will appoint, ordain, permanently fix (vesamu) to themselves (lahem) a Head, First, Leader (Rosh) Who is One (Echad: a complex unity) and they will ascend (ve’alu) from the land (min-ha-aretz: Israel),
For (kiy) great (gadol) is the day (yom) of Yizre’el (the sowing of God).
Many of our modern commentators claim that this prophecy was never fulfilled, and in part they are right, but not in full. This prophecy began its fulfilment at the first coming of the King Messiah Yeshua (Whom, in the first century CE, tens of thousands of Jews/Israelis received and followed as the ordain Son of David and High Priest over all peoples), and will reach its fullness at the end of days when on His return we Jews (all the tribes of ethnic, religious, chosen Israel) will look upon the One Whom we have pierced and mourn in repentance, receiving Him as the means of our redemption and restoration to right relationship with El Elohay Yisrael (Zechariah 12:10; John 19:37).
“They will appoint to themselves a Head Who is One” means, “They will submit themselves to the authority of the Head Who is One”. “The Head Who is One” is God the Father and His King Messiah Imanu El (God with us) Yeshua, in the power of the unified Spirit of God. We need not make the false choice between this representing God or the King Messiah. God is One.
A local Chabad Rebbee says, “I’m okay with you believing Yeshua is the Messiah, but I am not okay with you believing Yeshua is a manifestation of God.” To which I respond, “If Yeshua is the Messiah, and we know that the Messiah will not lie concerning either Himself or the nature of God, then Yeshua is also God with us, for Yeshua says of Himself ‘I and the Father are Echad’, and when called ‘My Lord and My God’ by His disciple, Yeshua does not rebuke His disciple (T’oma) but says, ‘Because you have seen you have believed’. Therefore, if as you say, it is okay to believe that Yeshua is the Messiah, it is also okay to believe what Yeshua says of Himself. Thus, your statement both contradicts itself while also agreeing that Yeshua is Imanu (with us) El (God), according to the prophet Yishayahu (Isaiah)!”
“They will ascend from the land”. To date Israel has returned in part to our land physically speaking. However, because over 7 million Jews still live outside of the land of Israel it is not true to say that the prophecy in question has been fully filled as yet. Therefore, this is ultimately a reference to all the tribes of Israel ascending from their various allotments of land to celebrate HaShem in the later days at the redemption of our people through Yeshua our King Messiah. “Land” may also refer to the land of our exile [to sin] and correlate to Isaiah 11:16. Regardless, this speaks of the unity of our people in Messiah and the perpetual day called the Olam Haba (world to come) when God will manifestly dwell with us and us with Him forever. In one sense this day began before the creation of the world and again with the first coming of our King Messiah Yeshua.
See Ezekiel 37:15-28 for another prophecy regarding the reunification of Israel’s tribes under the reign of David (the Messiah) in the Olam Haba (world to come).
Allegorical Reading continued:
And the children of praise will be gathered and the children of those who truly overcome in God will also be gathered, the two gathered together in praise and overcoming, and they will appoint over, submit themselves to the Head Who is One, the King Messiah under God, and they will ascend from all parts of the land of Israel to go up to the LORD of Mercy, for great will be the day that brings to perfection all that the Judge of the Universe has seeded. (Authors Paraphrase)
The first eleven verses of the book of Hosea reveal the whole of God’s redemptive purpose. These verses, which act as an overview to the remainder of the book, conclude with the goal. That being the appointment of the King Messiah and His rule over all Israel. This wonderful outcome made great through the seeding of Elohim (God and Judge).
The Mercy of God both precedes Judgement and is the result of it.
Copyright 2021 Yaakov Brown
Spiritual leader of Beth Melekh Community, Auckland, Aotearoa, N.Z.