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Under the figure of a wife proving false to her marriage vows, and bearing children that would follow her example, the prophet represents the shameful idolatry of the ten tribes, which provoked God to cast them of. The whole passage is information by action instead of words. This names of the children are all emblematical. The first is intended to put Israel in mind of their unrepented guilt, and the acts of cruelty committed in their palace of Jezreel, (1 Kings 21:1.) The second and third, signifying not finding mercy, and not my people, denote that, in consequence of their guilt, they were to be rejected of God, Hosea 1:1-9. God promises, however, to repair the loss to his Church by calling in the Gentiles, Hosea 1:10; and by uniting all the children of God under one head, the Messiah, in the latter days, Hosea 1:11.
Hosea, the son of Beeri - See the preceding account of this prophet.
In the days of Uzziah, etc. - If we suppose, says Bp. Newcome, that Hosea prophesied during the course of sixty-six years, and place him from the year 790 before Christ to the year 724, he will have exercised his office eight years in the reign of Jeroboam the second, thirty-three years in the reign of Uzziah, the whole reigns of Jotham and Ahaz, and three years in the reign of Hezekiah; but will not have survived the taking of Samaria. But see the preceding account of this prophet.
I think the first verse to be a title to this book added by the compiler of his prophecies, and that it relates more to facts which took place in those reigns, and had been predicted by Hosea, who would only be said to have prophesied under an those kings. by his predictions, which were consecutively fulfilled under them. By those, though dead, he continued to speak. The prophet‘s work properly begins at Hosea 1:2; hence called, “The beginning of the word of the Lord by Hosea.”
A wife of whoredoms - That is, says Newcome, a wife from among the Israelites, who were remarkable for spiritual fornication, or idolatry. God calls himself the husband of Israel; and this chosen nation owed him the fidelity of a wife. See Exodus 34:15; Deuteronomy 31:16; Judges 2:17; Isaiah 54:5; Jeremiah 3:14; Jeremiah 31:32, Ezekiel 16:17; Ezekiel 23:5, Ezekiel 23:27; Hosea 2, Hosea 5:1-15; Revelation 17:1, Revelation 17:2. He therefore says, with indignation, Go join thyself in marriage to one of those who have committed fornication against me, and raise up children who, by the power of example, will themselves swerve to idolatry. See Hosea 5:7. And thus show them that they are radically depraved.
He went and took Gomer - All this appears to be a real transaction, though having a typical meaning. If he took an Israelite, he must necessarily have taken an idolatress, one who had worshipped the calves of Jeroboam at Dan or at Bethel.
Call his name Jezreel - יזרעאל that is, God will disperse. This seems to intimate that a dispersion or sowing of Israel shall take place; which happened under Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, 2 Kings 17:5, 2 Kings 17:6. But the word refers also to the name of a city, where Jehu slew Jezebel and all the children of Ahab. 2 Kings 9:10, 2 Kings 9:36; 2 Kings 10:6.
This was one of those prophetic names which we so often meet with in the Scriptures; e.g. Japheth Abraham, Israel, Judah, Joshua, Zerubbabel, Solomon, Sheer-jashub, etc.
The blood of Jezreel - Not Jehu‘s vengeance on Ahab‘s family, but his acts of cruelty while he resided at Jezreel, a city in the tribe of Issachar, Joshua 19:18, where the kings of Israel had a palace, 1 Kings 21:1.
Will cause to cease the kingdom - Either relating to the cutting off of the kingdom of Israel by the Assyrians, see 1 Kings 21:6, or to the ceasing of the kingdom of Israel from the house of Jehu, 2 Kings 10:30, and which was fulfilled, 2 Kings 15:10. - Newcome.
In the valley of Jezreel - This also is supposed to relate either to some signal defeat of the Israelites by the Assyrians, which took place in the valley of Jezreel; or to the death of Zechariah, the fourth lineal descendant of Jehu, which may have happened here. See 2 Kings 15:10. - Newcome.
Call her Lo-ruhamah - לא רהמה, “Not having obtained mercy.” This also was a prophetic or typical name; and the reason of its imposition is immediately given:
For I will no more have mercy - כי לא אושיף עיד ארחם (ki lo osiph od arachem), “For I will no more add to have mercy upon the house of Israel.” This refers to the total destruction of that kingdom.
But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah - I will spare them as a kingdom after Israel has been carried away into captivity by the Assyrians.
And will save them by the Lord their God - Remarkably fulfilled in the supernatural defeat of the army of the Assyrians, see 2 Kings 19:35; and so they were saved not by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, nor by horses, nor by horsemen. The former expression may mean, not in war by horses, i.e., yoked to war chariots, nor by horsemen - nor by cavalry, however efficient such troops might have then been deemed.
Call his name Lo-ammi - לא עמי (Lo-(ammi), “Not my people;” for which the reason is immediately given:
Ye are not my people, and I will not be your God - The word God is not added here by any of the ancient versions or MSS.; and yet the construction absolutely requires it, as Houbigant properly observes, who thinks the present reading לא אהיה לכם (lo eheyeh lachem), “I will not be to you,” a corruption of the word אלחיכם (eloheychem), “your God.” It is strange that no various reading occurs on this verse in any MS. yet discovered. In two of the oldest of mine there is a blank of half a line left after the last word; and so it is in the Masoretic Bibles, though the sense is not complete; for it is evidently continued in the following verse. Probably God refers to the words, Exodus 3:14: אהיה אשר אהיה I am that I am. I am, אהיה (eheyeh), - I shall be, hath sent me unto you. I will not be your (eheyeh), i.e., I will not be your God.
Yet the number of the children of Israel - God had promised that the children of Israel should be as the sand of the sea. See Genesis 32:12; Romans 9:25, Romans 9:26. And though for their iniquities he had thinned and scattered them, yet the spirit and design of his promise and covenant shall be fulfilled. An Israel there shall be. In the place of the reprobated people, who were now no longer his people, there shall be found an Israel that shall be the children of the living God. See the above scriptures, and 1 Peter 2:10. This must mean either the Israelites after their conversion to Christianity, or even the Gentiles themselves converted to God, and now become the true Israel.
The children of Judah and the Children of Israel - After the return from Babylon, the distinction between Israel and Judah was entirely destroyed; and those of them that did return were all included under one denomination, Jews; and the one head may refer to Zerubbabel their leader, and afterwards under Ezra and Nehemiah. In the more extensive view of the prophet the one Head may mean Jesus Christ, under whom the true Israel, Jews and Gentiles, shall be finally gathered together; so that there shall be one flock, and one Shepherd over that flock.
They shall come up out of the land - Assyria and Chaldea in particular; but also from the various places of their dispersions in general.
Great shall be the day of Jezreel - He alludes to the meaning of the word, the seed of God. God who has dispersed - sown, them in different lands, shall gather them together; and that day of God‘s power shall be great and glorious. It was a wonderful seed time in the Divine justice; it shall then be a wonderful harvest in the Divine mercy. He sowed them among the nations in his wrath; he shall reap them and gather them in his bounty.