The Literary Structure Of Hosea 4–8 -- By: Charles H. Silva

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 164:655 (Jul 2007)
Article: The Literary Structure Of Hosea 4–8
Author: Charles H. Silva

The Literary Structure Of Hosea 4–8

Charles H. Silva

Charles H. Silva is Pastor, Horizon Christian Church, Branson, Missouri.

This is the third article in a four-part series “A Literary Analysis of the Book of Hosea.”

While the divisions within Hosea 4–14 are difficult to discern,1 the chapters do reveal a distinct threefold structural arrangement (4:1–6:3; 6:4–11:11; 11:12–14:8).2 These three lengthy sections—cycles D, E, and F—are primarily

collections of Hosea’s individual prophetic oracles.3 Most are messages of judgment that exhibit a cyclical interplay between announcements of Israel’s sin and God’s impending judgment.4

This repetitive interplay serves the rhetorical purpose of intensifying two facts: (a) the people of Israel were guilty of violating the stipulations of the Lord’s covenant,5 and (b) as a consequence, judgment was unavoidable—the curses stated in the Mosaic Covenant were about to be released.

Also of note is the fact that each of these cycles concludes with restoration. Cycle D includes prophetic judgment oracles (4:1–5:15a), God’s promise of restoration (5:15b), and an exhortation to repent (6:1–3).6 Cycle E includes prophetic judgment oracles (6:4–11:7) and concludes with the Lord’s promise to restore Israel, based solely on His divine compassion and grace (11:8–11). Cycle F includes prophetic judgment oracles (11:12–13:16), an exhortation to repent (14:1–3), and a final all-encompassing salvation oracle (14:4–8; cf. 3:5), in which the Lord promised to love His wayward people and to restore them to their land and to His manifold blessings.

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