Hosea wrote in the middle of the eighth century BC (Before Christ). He gave most of his messages to Israel, the country in the north. But some of the messages were for Judah, the country in the south. The book has many *curses and *blessings, but there are many more *curses than *blessings. If we want to understand this book, we need to understand the *covenant at Sinai. The *curses and *blessings of Hosea are connected to this *covenant. Hosea’s job was to tell his people that there was danger. God was going to make sure that Israel kept his *covenant. Hosea said that God was going to punish his people. It is the same message that many of the *prophets gave before the *exile. In most of the book, Hosea says that Israel will have death and illness. He also says that another nation will destroy Israel and take them away. When these things have happened, God will be able to *bless Israel again. It is important that we understand what these promises mean. Israel will not be able to avoid God’s anger. Israel has broken the *covenant and so the *curses are going to happen soon.
Only a few people in Israel were loyal to God at this time. More people in Judah were loyal to God. Israel was a strong and rich country. The people of Israel were good at fighting wars. Because of this, people from Israel met people from other countries. This meant that Israel knew about other peoples’ gods. They forgot the *commandments of Sinai. In the past, there was a group of kings that started with Jehu in 842 BC. This group of kings ended with the death of Jeroboam 2nd (793 – 753 BC). But, after he died, there were six more kings in Israel. It was a difficult time. Other leaders in the country killed these kings. Also, there was a war between Assyria and Israel. In 734 BC, Israel became a much smaller country. This was the beginning of the end for Israel. Then, in 722 BC, Assyria destroyed Israel.
We are not sure where Hosea gave his messages. Maybe it was in *Samaria and Bethel. None of the messages has dates. Hosea might have known Amos, who was older than he was. Amos also wrote messages to Israel. We do not know if Hosea spoke his messages to people. The message of 5:1-7 suggests that he did. We know very little about Hosea and his family. Hosea tells us very few things about himself. Chapters 1-3 have been a puzzle to people for a long time. The word ‘*prostitute’ in 1:2 can mean several things. It might mean:
· an ordinary *prostitute.
· a *holy *prostitute who worked in the *temple.
· a woman who dressed like a *prostitute.
· a person who came from a nation that had no morals.
· a northern *Israelite.
· a woman who was born to parents who were not married to each other.
· a woman who was only sometimes a *prostitute.
It seems most likely that she was an ordinary *prostitute. After her marriage, Gomer was probably loyal to Hosea at first. This was while the three children were young. Later she left Hosea for another man (3:1). God told Hosea to marry a *prostitute so that his life would be a type of *parable. This *parable would say something about the relations between God and the nation of Israel.
Hosea believed that it is important to know God as a person. People have called him the Saint John of the *Old Testament (OT). Hosea does not want the peoples’ *sacrifices to be empty. This is when the person who offers the *sacrifice is not sincere. He wants their *sacrifices to help them to know God in a true way.