The Prophet Hosea: His Marriage And Message -- By: John H. Johansen

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 14:3 (Summer 1971)
Article: The Prophet Hosea: His Marriage And Message
Author: John H. Johansen

The Prophet Hosea: His Marriage And Message

John H. Johansen*

The book of Hosea is the longest of the Minor Prophets. Probably for this reason it stands in the English Bible at the first of the Twelve. Hosea was from the kingdom of Israel and according to the superscription (1:1) preached during the reigns of Jeroboam, son of Joash, king of Israel; and the reign of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. Though the reference to the kings of Judah may represent the work of a later editor, Hosea doubtless did preach during the reigns of Jeroboam II (788–747 B.C.) and some of his successors who followed him to the throne in Israel.

From the name of Hosea’s first child and its interpretation1 it seems certain that the reign of Jeroboam II had not yet come to an end. However, it is doubtful that Hosea preached later than 733 or 732 B.C. because he still refers to Gilead as Israelite territory (5:1; 6:8) which the Assyrians took in 733 B.C. There is no internal evidence in the book of Hosea that during his ministry Israel had broken with her previous ally, Assyria. Neither does the book show any reference to the Syro-Ephriamite War in which Pekah of Israel and Rezin of Damascus joined forces in an expedition against King Ahab of Judah (734 B.C.). Thus, Hosea was probably a contemporary for a time with Amos from Tekoa, who also preached in Israel, at Bethel and Samaria, during the reign of Jeroboam II. Perhaps with Robinson2 we may say that the dates 750 to 735 B.C. are as nearly correct for Hosea as historical investigation can determine.

So dissimilar are the recorded messages of Amos and Hosea that it is unlikely that they were personally acquainted or that either possessed a detailed knowledge of the work of the other. It has been fashionable, however, for some to speculate that Hosea might have heard the call of God through the impact of the fiery desert prophet from the south.3

*A graduate of Moravian College and Theological Seminary in Bethlehem, Pa., and The School of Theology, Temple University, Philadelphia, and presently pastor of The Moravian Church, Unionville, Michigan.

Of Hosea’s personal background very little is actually known. The name Hosea, meaning “salvation,” seems to have been a fairly common one in Israel. Derived from the same Hebrew root are the names of Joshua and Jesus, meaning “saviour.” We are told that the name of the prophet...

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