Ho 1:1-11. Inscription.
Spiritual whoredom of Israel set forth by symbolical acts; Gomer taken to wife at God's command: Jezreel, Lo-ruhamah, and Lo-Ammi, the children. Yet a promise of Judah and Israel's restoration.
1. The word of the Lord that came unto Hosea -- See Introduction.
Jeroboam -- the second; who died in the fifteenth year of Uzziah's forty-one years' reign. From his time forth all Israel's kings worshipped false gods: Zachariah (2Ki 15:9), Menahem (2Ki 15:18), Pekahiah (2Ki 15:24), Pekah (2Ki 15:28), Hoshea (2Ki 17:2). As Israel was most flourishing externally under Jeroboam II, who recovered the possessions seized on by Syria, Hosea's prophecy of its downfall at that time was the more striking as it could not have been foreseen by mere human sagacity. Jonah the prophet had promised success to Jeroboam II from God, not for the king's merit, but from God's mercy to Israel; so the coast of Israel was restored by Jeroboam II from the entering of Hamath to the sea of the plain (2Ki 14:23-27).
2. beginning -- not of the prophet's predictions generally, but of those spoken by Hosea.
take ... wife of whoredoms -- not externally acted, but internally and in vision, as a pictorial illustration of Israel's unfaithfulness [Hengstenberg]. Compare Eze 16:8, 15, &c. Besides the loathsomeness of such a marriage, if an external act, it would require years for the birth of three children, which would weaken the symbol (compare Eze 4:4). Henderson objects that there is no hint of the transaction being fictitious: Gomer fell into lewdness after her union with Hosea, not before; for thus only she was a fit symbol of Israel, who lapsed into spiritual whoredom after the marriage contract with God on Sinai, and made even before at the call of the patriarchs of Israel. Gomer is called |a wife of whoredoms,| anticipatively.
children of whoredoms -- The kingdom collectively is viewed as a mother; the individual subjects of it are spoken of as her children. |Take| being applied to both implies that they refer to the same thing viewed under different aspects. The |children| were not the prophet's own, but born of adultery, and presented to him as his [Kitto, Biblical Cyclopædia]. Rather, |children of whoredoms| means that the children, like their mother, fell into spiritual fornication. Compare |bare him a son| (see Ho 2:4, 5). Being children of a spiritual whore, they naturally fell into her whorish ways.
3. Gomer ... daughter of Diblaim -- symbolical names; literally, |completion, daughter of grape cakes|; the dual expressing the double layers in which these dainties were baked. So, one completely given up to sensuality. Maurer explains |Gomer| as literally, |a burning coal.| Compare Pr 6:27, 29, as to an adulteress; Job 31:9, 12.
4. Jezreel -- that is, |God will scatter| (compare Zec 10:9). It was the royal city of Ahab and his successors, in the tribe of Issachar. Here Jehu exercised his greatest cruelties (2Ki 9:16, 25, 33; 10:11, 14, 17). There is in the name an allusion to |Israel| by a play of letters and sounds.
5. bow -- the prowess (Jer 49:35; compare Ge 49:24).
valley of Jezreel -- afterwards called Esdraelon, extending ten miles in breadth, and in length from Jordan to the Mediterranean near Mount Carmel, the great battlefield of Palestine (Jud 6:33; 1Sa 29:1).
6. Lo-ruhamah -- that is, |not an object of mercy or gracious favor.|
take ... away -- Israel, as a kingdom, was never restored from Assyria, as Judah was from Babylon after seventy years. Maurer translates according to the primary meaning, |No more will I have mercy on the house of Israel, so as to pardon them.|
7. Judah is only incidentally mentioned to form a contrast to Israel.
by the Lord their God -- more emphatic than |by Myself|; by that Jehovah (Me) whom they worship as their God, whereas ye despise Him.
not ... by bow -- on which ye Israelites rely (Ho 1:5, |the bow of Israel|); Jeroboam II was famous as a warrior (2Ki 14:25). Yet it was not by their warlike power Jehovah would save Judah (1Sa 17:47; Ps 20:7). The deliverance of Jerusalem from Sennacherib (2Ki 19:35), and the restoration from Babylon, are herein predicted.
8. weaned -- said to complete the symbolical picture, not having any special signification as to Israel [Henderson]. Israel was bereft of all the privileges which were as needful to them as milk is to infants (compare Ps 131:2; 1Pe 2:2) [Vatablus]. Israel was not suddenly, but gradually cast off; God bore with them with long-suffering, until they were incurable [Calvin]. But as it is not God, but Gomer who weans Lo-ruhamah, the weaning may imply the lust of Gomer, who was hardly weaned when she is again pregnant [Manger].
9. Lo-Ammi -- once |My people,| but henceforth not so (Eze 16:8). The intervals between the marriage and the successive births of the three children, imply that three successive generations are intended. Jezreel, the first child, represents the dynasty of Jeroboam I and his successors, ending with Jehu's shedding the blood of Jeroboam's line in Jezreel; it was there that Jezebel was slain, in vengeance for Naboth's blood shed in the same Jezreel (1Ki 16:1; 2Ki 9:21, 30). The scenes of Jezreel were to be enacted over again on Jehu's degenerate race. At Jezreel Assyria routed Israel [Jerome]. The child's name associates past sins, intermediate punishments, and final overthrow. Lo-ruhamah (|not pitied|), the second child, is a daughter, representing the effeminate period which followed the overthrow of the first dynasty, when Israel was at once abject and impious. Lo-Ammi (|not my people|), the third child, a son, represents the vigorous dynasty (2Ki 14:25) of Jeroboam II; but, as prosperity did not bring with it revived piety, they were still not God's people.
10. Literally fulfilled in part at the return from Babylon, in which many Israelites joined with Judah. Spiritually, the believing seed of Jacob or Israel, Gentiles as well as Jews, numerous |as the sand| (Ge 32:12); the Gentiles, once not God's people, becoming His |sons| (Joh 1:12; Ro 9:25, 26; 1Pe 2:10; 1Jo 3:1). To be fulfilled in its literal fulness hereafter in Israel's restoration (Ro 11:26).
the living God -- opposed to their dead idols.
11. Judah ... Israel ... together -- (Isa 11:12, 13; Jer 3:18; Eze 34:23; 37:16-24).
one head -- Zerubbabel typically; Christ antitypically, under whom alone Israel and Judah are joined, the |Head| of the Church (Eph 1:22; 5:23), and of the hereafter united kingdom of Judah and Israel (Jer 34:5, 6; Eze 34:23). Though |appointed| by the Father (Ps 2:6), Christ is in another sense |appointed| as their Head by His people, when they accept and embrace Him as such.
out of the land -- of the Gentiles among whom they sojourn.
the day of Jezreel -- |The day of one| is the time of God's special visitation of him, either in wrath or in mercy. Here |Jezreel| is in a different sense from that in Ho 1:4, |God will sow,| not |God will scatter|; they shall be the seed of God, planted by God again in their own land (Jer 24:6; 31:28; 32:41; Am 9:15).