Hosea – Part 1

The book of Hosea starts with a massacre and adultery.  It must be a good book.

Currently I’m reading Hosea in my spare time during this holiday season and attempting to dive deeper into the Hebrew Prophets at the same time.  The beginning of the story grabbed my attention right away:

“When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, ‘Go, take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness.”

The story starts with a glitch.  One of my professors at APU (Bruce Baloian) reminds me constantly that glitches are important because the author is usually trying to say something important.  Why would God ask Hosea to take an adulterous wife?  I think it’s written this way for a reason, I think the author wants us to spend a moment on the absurdity of this claim.  If adultery is “frowned upon” in this country, the Ancient Near East demanded blood for such misdeeds (Leviticus 20:10).  For God to ask someone to take an adulterous wife was like bringing death into a Jewish household.

If God is the bringer of life, why would he bring death into a house?

The question is a valid one and should not be glossed over for easy theological answers found in the next verse.  The next verse, however, explains the situation more fully.  It is here that we find that Hosea is to take this wife “because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the Lord.”  If we understand the first verse, then we can understand this next sentence by asking the same question exchanging God for Israel that we asked above:

If Israel is the bringer of life, why would they bring death into their house?

The covenant that God made with Abraham was to be for all people (Genesis 17).  They are called to be the light and salt to the world.  The people that God chose to be in relationship with, the model for the entire world, had turned to Baal worship.  They were sleeping with Baal.  This is just as absurd as asking Hosea to take an adulterous wife.  God here is bringing about irony.  It is similar to the effect that Nathan had on David after he had slept with Bathsheba.  After David responded so negatively to the parable that was told, he condemned himself.  In the same way, these people hearing this first verse would have condemned themselves by their response to Hosea’s marriage.

Hopefully more posts to come on this subject in the future.


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