I. THE PROPHET’S MARRIAGE AND ITS SYMBOLISM
Marriage of Hosea and Gomer. 2When the LORD began to speak with Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea: Go, get for yourself a woman of prostitution* and children of prostitution, for the land prostitutes itself,a turning away from the LORD.
3So he went and took Gomer, daughter of Diblaim; and she conceived and bore him a son. 4Then the LORD said to him: Give him the name “Jezreel,”* for in a little while I will punish the house of Jehu for the bloodshed at Jezreel and bring to an end the kingdom of the house of Israel; 5on that day I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel.
6She conceived again and bore a daughter. The LORD said to him: Give her the name “Not-Pitied,”* for I will no longer feel pity for the house of Israel: rather, I will utterly abhor them. 7* Yet for the house of Judah I will feel pity; I will save them by the LORD, their God; but I will not save them by bow or sword, by warfare, by horses or horsemen.b
8After she weaned Not-Pitied, she conceived and bore a son. 9Then the LORD said: Give him the name “Not-My-People,”* for you are not my people, and I am not “I am” for you.
* [1:1–3] This section begins with Hosea’s marriage to Gomer, which symbolizes Israel’s relationship to God. Hence the symbolic names of Hosea’s children and their later renaming (1:2–9; 2:1–3). The prophet foresees God’s punishment for the unfaithful covenant partner, but knows that God’s last word is always hope (2:4–25).
* [1:1] This superscription is from a Judean editor, who lists the kings of Judah in the south first, even though Hosea preached in the Northern Kingdom of Israel.
* [1:2] A woman of prostitution: this does not necessarily mean that Gomer was a prostitute when Hosea married her; the verse describes the event in its final consequences. Prostitution here may refer to Gomer’s participation in the worship of other gods.
* [1:4] Give him the name “Jezreel”: the names of the three children are symbolic, and predict God’s punishment in a crescendo. These names are frequently repeated in chaps. 1–2. Jezreel: (lit., “God will sow”) the strategic valley in northern Israel where Jehu brought the dynasty of Omri to an end through bloodshed (2 Kgs 9–10). Jeroboam II was the next to the last king of the house of Jehu. The prophecy in this verse of the end of the house of Jehu was fulfilled by the murder of Zechariah, son of Jeroboam II (2 Kgs 15:8–10).
* [1:6] “Not-Pitied”: in Hebrew lo-ruhama.
* [1:7] Probably written by a later editor when the prophecies of Hosea circulated in the south, after the dissolution of the Northern Kingdom had occurred. The second part of the verse emphasizes the power of the Lord, who needs no human agents to fulfill the divine will. It may refer to the deliverance of Jerusalem from the siege of Sennacherib in 701 (2 Kgs 19:35–37).
* [1:9] “Not-My-People”: in Hebrew lo-ammi. I am not “I am” for you: a reference to the divine name revealed to Moses, “I am” (Ex 3:14). This reversal of the relationship marks the end of the covenant (Ex 6:7).