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Hosea 11


The Old Testament is a filled with a harmonious symphony of Gods dealings with His covenant people. At times the books in the Old Testament strike strong chords of justice and punishment but never without a crescendo of God’s grace as an end note. Throughout the pages of the beauty of the Hebrew Scriptures we have unique chords struck by the Minor Prophets. These prophets, although they carry the moniker of minor, strike major chords in the story of God’s love for his people. While each make similar and simultaneously unique contributions to this beautiful song of love, Hosea plays an unforgettable note that is unique and strikes at the heart of the listeners. It is this book in which we will explore this beautiful sonnet of love, betrayal, and forgiveness. Hosea is one of the most magnificent and perplexing books in the Old Testament. The first three chapters are saturated with imagery of love and betrayal. A beautiful picture of an unfailing devotion to a devotee whose same affection is not reciprocated. Even in the mist of betrayal and abandonment love patiently waits to take the object of its affection back. While the story is based on the life of Hosea it also a parallel to the experience God has had with Israel. The beautiful analogy of a husbands unfailing love for his promiscuous wife draws a picture of the God of Israel who is hurt in a similar fashion and like Hosea refuses to give up on the object of His love.

The rest of the book of Hosea offers quite of bit of difficulty. The last eleven chapters have even been referred to as, “among the most difficult in the entire Bible.” [1] It has even been compared with Job for having some of the most ‘unintelligible passages’ in the Hebrew scriptures.[2] Yet, the tragedy is that while scholars tend to avoid the difficulty found in the book of Hosea they miss out on elaborating on the intricate beauty of its message. The images found in this Prophets oracles contribute to images that live on past the Old Testament and into the new. Despite its difficulty in literary structure there is an overarching message that is indispensable for the church today. Our emphasis today will be on the eleventh chapter, although we will touch on aspects and issues all throughout the book and the rest of scripture, our scope will mostly focus on the meaning of this chapter that scholars have considered as part of the enigmatic poetic portion of Hosea.

In the following paper we will study five different dimensions of Hosea chapter eleven. The first is the historical background in which Hosea takes place. In this rich history we will see how the politics and social actions of the people of the time helped shape Hosea’s message. The second section will consist of literary structure. The fifth will emphasis the heart of the paper which is its theological concepts. We will explore chapter eleven passage by passage giving an overview of the literary type and theological message. Thirdly, we will explore the chapter’s relationship to the rest of the book of Hosea and then elaborate more on the impact of this message on the rest of Scripture. Finally, in the fourth section we will cover the immediate application in Hosea’s time and what the 21st century church could take away from it today.

Historical Background

The historical background of the Minor Prophets brings to life the message they communicated to the world around them. Details about their judgments and condemnations become more vivid with every stroke of information we can garner from the prophets themselves and socio-political climate of their time. In this background we will look at any information we have of the author himself. In this we will try to learn what information from what the book itself divulges and also analyze the text, reading in-between the lines, to see if we can learn something more about the author. Secondly we will look at the culture and political climate that created the message of the book itself. Within both of these divisions of historical background we will find a widened view of the message of Hosea

Very little information is given about the prophet himself within the book of Hosea. The prophetic career of Hosea came at the tail end of the preaching of Amos and was also a contemporary of Micah and Isaiah in Judah.[3] We know that his father’s name is Beeri but there is no hint or clue about his ancestral family. We do not know where he called home, what his early life was like, or what kind of education he had. What scholars do know they learn from circumstantial evidence. It is more than likely that he was a young adult when he started to receive prophetic messages, since he was not married and also the length of his role as a prophet alludes to the fact that he was young when he was called.[4] Hosea communicated in strange particularities in his Hebrew dialect which suggest that he was from Israel.[5] The author also shows a great familiarity with the first five book of the Old Testament and also Joshua and Judges which suggest that he received an education in the Hebrew Scriptures, as they were in his day.[6] His means of communication and the self-conscious perplexing nature of his writings also give us a clue into the high level of intelligence and his subtle manner of thinking.[7] The introduction tells us that Hosea’s ministry was during the years of Hezekiah and Jeroboam, there are indications that point to the fact that his ministry was during the last portion of Jeroboams reign (793-753 B.C.E.) which has led some to conclude that the range of Hosea’s prophetic career was around 760 to 710 B.C.E. or approximately about 50 years.[8] There is no direct information about the latter portion of Hosea’s life other than it is assumed that he fled to Judah after the fall of Israel.[9] Although we can only sketch a rough outline with a bare minimum explicit information given, we can further elaborate on probable clues into the prophets life by looking at the implicit details in-between the text.

This brings us to the next step for the historical background, the socio-political climate of Hosea’s time. The ministry of Hosea can be divided into three eras, the early, middle, and late period. In the early era we have the prosperous reign of Jeroboam II, when Assyria was still frail.[10] The kingdom of Jeroboam II prospered under his accomplished reign, with military victories and territory expansions.[11] The first chapter of book pierces into the future when the decedents of Jehu, Jeroboam II and his children, would die, putting an end to their dynasty, this suggest that Hosea married Gomer during the time of prosperity in Israel.[12] In the reign of Jeroboam II a two class system was evident, the upper class enjoyed excess and power while the poor suffered oppression.[13] The upper class took advantage of the lower with crooked judges, high rents, and dishonest merchants but even then the bountiful crop ensured that everyone, rich and poor, was ensured a meal.[14]

This leads us to the middle division of Hosea’s prophetic career. Almost immediately after the death of the prosperous king Jeroboam II, the monarchy fell in shambles, with each succeeding king dying by assassination the government of Israel became fragile all the while the strength of Assyria cast a shadow of the demise over the tumultuous nation.[15] The power of Assyrian eventually demanded heavy taxation from Israel and compounded with stolen livestock by enemy troops, fellow countrymen robbing and killing each other, and failed crops because of a divine curse kept Israel weak and subservient. [16] The nation after Jeroboam II was but a faint memory of the prosperous one it was before.

Finally, the late period of Hosea’s leads us into the fall of Israel. Through the duplicity of the foolish Hoshea in his dealings with Assyria, while at the same time courting Egypt, lead to the invasion of Israel. [17] Although Samaria held out for two years it eventually fell to the powerful nation it tried to deceive. [18] It was the Assyrian leader, Sargon, who finalized the destruction of the capital of Samaria and according to Assyrian records 27,290 Israelites were deported to Mesopotamia. [19] Despite the disastrous fate of Israel, they still stubbornly held on to their sins and refused to turn to God. [20] It was during this last period that we close the ministry of Hosea and as mentioned before some scholars believe that he fled to Judah after the fall of Samaria.

This bring us to a close in our aerial view of the life of Hosea. Not only did we look at the life of the prophet and scratched for any bit of information about him that we could gather. Through the inside look at the prophet and the outside look at his world it will bring us closer to our focus of the paper, his writings. Specifically, we will focus on our attention on the eleventh chapter. This bring us to our next section of the paper, where we will dive into the literary understanding of the text and also get into its theological underpinnings.

Literary Type

One of the most interesting observations is that the prophetic book of Hosea is written with a tension between comedy and tragedy, it is these elements found within the book that has given scholars like Martin J. Buss the following conclusion, “Poetry in this sense indeed plays a major role in the prophecy of Hosea.” [21] Scholars have largely disagreed on whether the style of the book being written in prose or poetry but there are those that find a middle way by understanding the first three chapters to be prose and the last eleven to be poetic. [22] This leaves us with the focus of our study, Hosea chapter eleven, to be mostly in poetic form. Some of the strongest elements that comes out in Hosea’s literary style is his use of similes and metaphors as one commentary points out:

Thus, for example, God can be viewed as a jealous (2:2–13) or forgiving husband (3:1–5). On the one hand, he is a dispenser of judgment who comes against his people like a hungry moth or advancing rot (5:12), like a lion (5:14), or a trapper with his net (7:12). On the other hand, he proceeds as a father forgiving his wayward son (11:1–3) or a redeemer who tenderly cares for his liberated people (11:4; 12:9; 13:4)[23]

Conceivably, one of the most difficult aspects of the book has to do with its disjunctive arrangement leaving interpreters as early as Jerome until modern time baffled.[24] While the general meaning of Hosea is easier to understand it is individual statements that make it difficult to decipher. [25] Like we mentioned in the beginning of this article, some of the problems lie with the structuring of Hosea itself, since the author leaves out definite closing and ending statements that make it hard to know where one oracle begins and the other ends. [26] Two of the major forms that are easy to identify are the Divine Judgments and Divine Salvation speeches that are given all throughout the text. [27] It is within in this milieu of difficulty and generality that we will continue into our next section, understanding the theological message of Hosea.

Theological Message


For the theological message we will evaluate the eleventh chapter of Hosea stanza by stanza taking in each theological gold mine in bit by bit. The whole chapter will be broken up into five different stanzas as is broken down within the English Standard Version. [28] Even though some Bible commentators have typically ended the chapters thought in verse eleven, the verse numerical system awkwardly ads verse twelve which is what we will consider.[29] In the first two verses we have text that is pregnant with meaning.

In the first verse alone we have God using a different metaphor than before, that of a husband loving an unfaithful wife, instead now we have a metaphor of a father and son relationship. [30],[31] The image of youth is first makes its appearance in Hosea and later on the imagery is borrowed by Jeremiah, although being youthful could have multiple meanings in this case it just seems to reference the youth of Israel without any special added meaning. [32] One scholar has even pointed out a unique attribute in Hosea where God adopts Israel but because of their continual disobedience goes on to disown them as ‘not my People’ going from the ‘I am’ to the ‘I am not’ reversing his divine name. [33] The hope of salvation was originally founded on love and so will the future salvation of Israel, as we will see further ahead. [34] In this paternal metaphor there are even overtones of God’s authority as mentioned by Dennis McCarthy, “a love which is seen in reverential fear, in loyalty, and in obedience—a love which can be commanded.”[35]

In the second verse of the first stanza we have a description of the rebellion where God describes, “more they were called, the more they went away.”[36] Here we have a rebellion growing not only in its own propensity but also to God’s calling, in other words, the more God called the more the his people moved away from him. [37] There also appears to be an ironic interaction where a positive affirmation of calling them as a son made the son rebel even more by meeting the positive call with a negative reaction, namely running away. [38] The second portion of that verse tells us in what manner they turned from God, namely the “sacrificing to the Baals and burning offerings to idols worship of Baal.” [39] This gives us a small glimpse at the continual apostasy of Israel that could be dated back to the Exodus in Baal Peor. [40] It is in turning to other gods that they have ignored God’s call and turned away from Him.

Hosea 11:3-4

In the second stanza and third verse of the chapter, the analogy of the adopted son is continued. Now we have God teaching his adopted son to walk, deepening the analogy of a tender father bending over and tenderly holding the child by the arms as he learns to walk, alluding to Israel walking out of Egypt. [41] Another possible meaning of the text could also be a picture of God walking in front of His son as his protector.[42] Despite all this tender love and affection Israel did not recognize God’s loving act, more precisely stated, “they did not know that I healed them.”[43] The word ‘know’ here is used within the context of ignoring the obvious and the refusal to acknowledge God’s goodness.[44] The reference here to healing could allude to the experience at the waters of Marah where God said, “I am the LORD who heals you.” [45] This seems likely if we believe that the author is keeping to the allusions to the Exodus.

The analogy in the fourth verse changes from that of a father son relationship to that of a farmer livestock one. [46] God is the gentle leader of the ox who leads Israel to the promised land all the while feeding him along the way. [47] This image of farmer and livestock communicate God’s control and Israel’s servitude, but with the chords of love it is not one of abuse and force but one of gentle guiding and leading one.[48], [49] The feeding of Israel leaves the reader to recall how God provided food through manna and quail as they wandered the desert for forty years. [50]


In the next stanza we have a judgment scene. The first couple verses have shown a tirelessly merciful God trying to woo his people but after neglect and obstinate behavior God is now ready to show His judgment. Instead of returning to Egypt where they originally came from now God is going to give them a wilderness experience with Assyria. This is an obvious punishment to return to captivity as a punishment for refusing to return but also so that His people could reflect on their sins.[51] It was at the exodus of Egypt that Israel found its inception and now return to captivity is a sense of destruction, a de-creation. [52] Yet, this de-creation is not meant to be a complete destruction as we will see later on but an opportunity for a new beginning. [53]

A sword is the representation from which the destruction will come. The sword here is a poetic expression of the Assyrian army coming in like windy whirlwind with swords coming to destroy the cities of Samaria. [54] The cities are mentioned because they have become gated examples of Israel’s self-reliance and just as the cities will be destroyed so will the self-reliance of God’s stubborn people be obliterated.[55] The gates that describe the protection of the cities were normally two gates with sockets in stones that were buried deep underground, while these gates would have been of wood in the inside the outer portion would have been supported by iron, these strong fortified gates would have been locked by placing them in the stone sockets that were mentioned before. [56] It was these fickle man-made structures that Israel relied so heavily on for its own security but only to their own destruction.

The people of Israel were also notoriously willing to listen to wrong counsel. They listened to diviners which contributed to their turning from God and in effect their own destruction.[57] Even God’s longsuffering nature has its limits and eventually his mercy will turn to judgment, although His children will call out for mercy, God will not hold back his divine spanking.[58] Instead of turning to God the people of Israel call out to the ‘Most High’ which seems to be an indication that they were still calling out to Baal for help, the irony here is showed that while God called Israel they called for Baal, then God sits back and lets Israel learn the lesson that no false god could hear or help, it is only the God of Israel who can save them. [59], [60] This powerful lesson was meant to teach Israel the difference between illusion and reality, the contrast between made up gods and the God of the universe, in their ignoring the reality of the only true God and their turning to a false non-existing god, they have suffered the consequences of calling out for help and it falling on deaf ears, ears that they have made, instead of trusting in the One who made their ears, even all ears so that they can hear His call.


The picture in the next stanza is the beautiful portrait of the nature of God, even in His judgment. Even though God has destined Israel to receive divine punishment He does not feel at ease about the decision. The commentator Hans Walter Wolff even goes as far as to say, “God is pictured struggling with himself.” [61] This has lead scholars such as David J. Dull and William A. Beardslee to believe that God is questioning himself. [62] Yet given what we know about the nature of God and his ability to be omniscient, this even would not have caught God by surprise, so it is more than likely just the experience that pains God not an internal self-questioning. After all, as other scholars how pointed out, how can God make a definitive statement about his action beforehand then question himself immediately after, this is a rhetorical question in which there really is no answer, not a question of God doubting himself.[63] Over and over again we have a picture of God anguishing over the inevitable and non-negotiable nature of divine punishment but if punishment were not necessary there would be no reason to anguish but it is this very reason we have this picture of pain that God communicates. [64]

In the midst of all this pain and destruction there is a ray of hope. Although the destruction of Israel is an inevitable fate of the nation God gives us an insight into their future by telling us that this destruction will not be complete. It is this divine revelation of love that prompts a Bible commentator to so eloquently describe God’s actions, “God does not want the people he loves to become a mere footnote in world history.” [65] The same fate that had fallen on other cities previously before Israel, the fate of total destruction, is something that would not happen to the nation of Israel. [66] In this stanza we have the fullness of God’s character revealed where we see divine judgment holding hands with divine grace, although judgment is a necessary reaction to sin, it is God’s love that makes divine mercy necessary also.


In the last stanza, a simile of lion representing God’s authority is used. [67] This is a distinction from previous metaphors of God as a Husband, or a Father. This roar of a lion is not a sound of a coming destruction for Israel but a sign of its restoration, the roar which in most cases would be disorienting is now actually used to call Israel back. [68] The doves returning is supposed to contrast other images where Israel is compared to a silly dove, now this dove is an apprehensive animal returning back to its king.[69] The two important takeaways from this passage is that God calls with a powerful authoritative voice not to destroy but to call his people home and secondly the stubborn people of Israel will no longer ignore the call of God but will now return to God in humility. [70] This ultimate return is not just one from Assyrian but the west is mentioned, giving a picture of Israel returning home from wherever they maybe. [71] The final verse communicates two things, the first one is clear the second has two alternative translations. The lies that Ephraim has taken part of is not entirely clear but taking previous passages into account it could be the false ideology and apostasy that they have adopted in the past that they have surrounded themselves with that that has filled them with deceit.[72] The second portion of verse twelve could mean that Judah has stayed faithful to God or it could also be translated as, “and Judah still wanders with deity, and is faithful with the holy gods.”[73] The second reading makes more sense in the light of the fact that Judah was following in the footsteps of Israel, just like Amos had pointed out in the past. This final decree could be directed at readers from Judah to warn them by looking at the example of what will happen to Israel.

Now that we have covered the passage that was our main focus we need to understand its context within the book. This context will also help us understand patterns and meanings within the text. We will also not limit ourselves to the context of the book of Hosea itself but all the Scriptures as a whole. This will give us an idea of how books previously influenced Hosea and how Hosea also influenced books after it, like books in the New Testament. We will look at this passage by understanding it from concentric circles of context going out all the way to the whole of the Bible.

Contributions to Book of Hosea

The eleventh chapter of Hosea has been referred to as, “a kerygmatic unit, and it is introduced by a title that sums up its message.”[74] It has even been assumed that because this chapter fits and is summed up so nicely of the rest of the book, it is more than likely the work of a redactor. [75] The three sections of eleven even echo previous patterns found in the sixth chapter, where you have Gods watchfulness and Israel’s setback (6:5-6;11:1-4), then a picture of God’s inner struggle over punishing his people (6:4; 11:8), finally the hope of a possible new future (6:1-3; 11:10-11). [76] It is often believed that the eleventh chapter gives us a beginning of closure for the book since there are clear message of restoration, however this does not seem entirely clear since from the very beginning in (1:7) we have promises of restoration. [77] What is clear is that apart from the prose portion of Hosea this poetic passage does show a sort of a turning point of hope in the midst of chaos for Israel, where the wayward people will be punished but not destroyed, there is hope for even those that wander from God. In other sections of the prose (2:16-17) it has been noted that, “These salvation sayings show the same emphasis…” giving us a picture of the poetry repeating similar patterns that are found in the prose.[78] Other images that are used in Hosea 11 are also used in other passages of the book, such as the image of the fostering farmer (9:10) and the parent like guardian (13:4-5). [79] It is important to note again that this chapter is a microcosm of what the macro message of Hosea portrays.

Contributions to the rest of Scriptures

Hosea takes several images from the previous books written in the Old Testament. One of the ones that is drawn from most heavily is that of Exodus with multiple references to Egypt (11:1, 5) and unmistakable imagery taking from the event of the Exodus where God leads them out of Egypt feds and heals Israel (11:1, 3-4) and all these show a heavy dependence of the previous historical narrative portion of Scripture. [80] All this imagery is used to form a prophetic law suit that also draws heavily on the text book for prophetic law suits, Deuteronomy, which is the legal background, it also shaped much of the complaints God has against Israel. [81] These two books have the biggest influence on Hosea that were sacred documents available to him.

In the New Testament the author of the gospel of Matthew clearly quotes Hosea by applying the verse to Jesus (2:15). [82] Two things have puzzled scholars, was Matthew doing a disservice to the text of Hosea or was Matthew using a Midrash type of exegesis and was reading something back into the text that was not originally there, justifying it theologically.[83] In order for the later to be case one would have to appeal to sensus plenior, in which appeals to the fact that prophets at times would write and say things with a fuller meaning even they were not aware of. [84] The intentional nature of the quotation also seems to be directly quoted from the Hebrew translation as opposed to the Septuagint, since the later reading of ‘children’ as opposed to ‘child’ would render the fulfillment an awkward placement of typology.[85] When looked at through the lens of typology it is important to note that although Hosea may have not understood the ultimate fulfillment of his own words. He knew that his words transcended his own time, and finally the deliberate shift in metaphor from husband to father and Israel shifting from wife to son seems to be a deliberate move; understanding this all within this context will also help us understand that this is still safely within the exegetical confines of typological prophecy. [86]


The application of this text to the immediate community would have been one of warning and guidance. Israel and their inability to be grateful for the goodness of God, shut them out of His grace but not entirely. Even in the midst of rebellion God still loved Israel, just like a mother or father would love their child, even in the midst of prodigal lifestyle. It is in this text that we learn three things. First of all, that God has been good from the very beginning. Just like Israel was treated with goodness from the beginning so are we. Second of all, we can wear out God’s mercy and that would make divine punishment inevitable. While some would like to consider God as a senile Grandfather in the sky that does not punish his grandchildren, this is a picture that is completely absent from Scripture. This type of neglect would more so lead us to conclude that God is an irresponsible parent as opposed to a loving father. Even within God’s lament over punishment in Israel do we see that this is not something that is avoidable but inevitable when we go astray.

Luckily this picture of God does not end there. The final and third thing we can learn is that even when we are in the midst of God’s punishing hand we can see rays of sunshine. Hope is not lost even when we are in the midst of the chaos that we ourselves have caused. Mercy is not neglected and withheld, even in the midst of punishment. This gives us the most brilliant and luminous picture of God’s love than other portions of Scripture. God does not want to give us up and lose us but He hopes that punishment will lead us back to him. This could apply to the struggling Christian today, regardless of where you have been, or how far you have wandered from God. There is still a message of hope waiting for you because mercy extends beyond the storm of punishment. When we return in humility we encounter that reality that punishment was not an end to itself but just an opportunity to open our eyes to a new beginning. This is only possible by the all-powerful nature of the love God.


We have taken a look at the historical backdrop that shaped Hosea and his message. We learned important aspects of his life and socio-political aspects of his time that all played vital roles in understanding the message of Hosea. Then we looked at the literary type that makes up the book of Hosea in order for us to better understand how we should interpret the book. All this played quintessential roles in the exegesis of the text. We finally arrived to heart of the paper by trying to understand the meaning of the text, once the important backdrop had already been laid down. This exegesis of the passage we took one stanza at a time. This opened up a picture of God where Mercy and Judgment are held in balance to each other, not only do we see God’s love neglected but then punishment fall on Israel only to be accepted back, paved by the mercy of God and his inability to want to fully let go of His people.

This lead us to a pan out view of the passage and its contributions not only to the book of Hosea itself but also other books within Scripture. This helped us see an over-arching theme of God trying to make things work with his stubborn people in the Old Testament previous to Hosea. It also helped us peek into God’s future plan by allowing us to see its influence on the Gospel writers, specifically Matthew. How Matthew as an author could not help but see Jesus and the fulfillment of Israel and applied the first verse to refer to a Jesus as a typology. Then we walked away from the abstract and tried to apply this passage to our lives. Focusing on the nature of God’s love even in punishment it was only used as a tool to help those that have wandered from God, are in the midst of the consequences of their actions, and in the pit hopeless because of it. God will not abandon His children but will call them back to them once they have learned their lesson in the midst of the consequences of sin. The best summary that could be given to Hosea eleven is the ever controversial statement, “Love wins.”

Works Citied

Buss, Martin J. “Tragedy and Comedy in Hosea.” Edited by J. Cheryl Exum. Semeia 32 (1984).

Garrett, Duane A. Hosea, Joel. Vol. 19A. The New American Commentary. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1997.

Holt, Else Kragelund. Prophesying the Past: The Use of Israel’s History in the Book of Hosea. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995.

Hubbard, David A. Hosea: An Introduction and Commentary. Vol. 24. Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1989.

Janzen, J. Gerald. “Metaphor and Reality in Hosea 11.” Edited by William A. Beardslee and David J. Lull. Semeia 24 (1982).

Keefe, Alice A. Woman’s Body and the Social Body in Hosea. Vol. 338. Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2001.

Longman, Tremper, III, and Raymond B. Dillard. An Introduction to the Old Testament. Second Edition. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2007.

Matthews, Victor Harold, Mark W. Chavalas, and John H. Walton. The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament. Electronic ed. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000.

Mays, James Luther. “Response to Janzen: ‘Metaphor and Reality in Hosea 11.’” Edited by William A. Beardslee and David J. Lull. Semeia 24 (1982).

Morris, Gerald. Prophecy, Poetry, and Hosea. Vol. 219. Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1996.

Patterson, Richard D., and Andrew E. Hill. Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, Vol 10: Minor Prophets, Hosea–Malachi. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2008.

Smith, Gary V. Hosea, Amos, Micah. The NIV Application Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 2001.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001.

Weems, Renita J. “Gomer: Victim of Violence or Victim of Metaphor?” Edited by Katie Geneva Cannon and Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza. Semeia 47 (1989).


Dimension of Approach

When approaching this passage, I tried my best to be able to suspend my judgment. Although doing this is not entirely possible, I tried to allow the text to speak for itself without allowing input of commentaries or previous ideas of the passage to influence my thinking. I did this by reading this passage several times for about week straight. I read it and became familiar with it enough where I could outline the thought for though by memory without referencing the text itself. It was this first step that I took that I hope helped me allow the text to speak for itself as opposed to inputting either my ideas in or that of a commentator.

The second aspect I tried to make myself aware about is that not all commentaries agree with me on the history and compilation of the Old Testament. Whether it is my conservative background and influence when I first came into Christianity or whether this is something I have just been fully convinced of, it makes me uncomfortable taking into consideration multiple authors of a text unless there is an indication of the text clueing us into this process happening. The whole concept of multiple source theory (JEPD) brings me back to my freshmen college years where a Professor devastated my young faith into thinking that the Old Testament was not reliable and this theory is one that he used as his main argument. Ever since then I have looked for writings or arguments that prove the opposite.

Although I would like to think of myself as someone who holds a high view of scripture I was open to see what the scholars would say that would challenge my view. I have come to conclusion that there is no view without it tension and I am open to being challenged to see what view seems to prevail the best in the light of the evidence. At times my faith in the infallible nature of Scripture is challenged on a particular passage but it is the overall tenor of scripture that convinces me that this view is still the most meaningful one. In the end I hope that I approached Hosea eleven in honesty and respect because that is what I feel God would expect from me.

[1] Tremper Longman III and Raymond B. Dillard, An Introduction to the Old Testament, Second Edition. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2007), 397.

[2] Tremper Longman III and Raymond B. Dillard, An Introduction to the Old Testament, Second Edition. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2007), 397.

[3] Gary V. Smith, Hosea, Amos, Micah, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 2001), 24.

[4] Smith, Hosea, Amos, Micah, 27.

[5] Ibid., 27.

[6] Duane A. Garrett, Hosea, Joel, vol. 19A, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1997), 22.

[7] Ibid., 22.

[8] Ibid., 22.

[9] Smith, Hosea, Amos, Micah, 25.

[10] Ibid., 24.

[11] Garrett, Hosea, Joel, vol. 19A, 23.

[12] Smith, Hosea, Amos, Micah, 24.

[13] Garrett, Hosea, Joel, vol. 19A, 23.

[14] Smith, Hosea, Amos, Micah, 26.

[15] Garrett, Hosea, Joel, vol. 19A, 23.

[16] Smith, Hosea, Amos, Micah, 26.

[17] Garrett, Hosea, Joel, vol. 19A, 24.

[18] Ibid., 24.

[19] Ibid., 24.

[20] Smith, Hosea, Amos, Micah, 26.

[21] Martin J. Buss, “Tragedy and Comedy in Hosea,” ed. J. Cheryl Exum, Semeia 32 (1984): 71.

[22] Richard D. Patterson and Andrew E. Hill, Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, Vol 10: Minor Prophets, Hosea–Malachi (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2008), 6.

[23] Patterson and Hill, Vol 10: Minor Prophets, Hosea–Malachi, 6.

[24] Gerald Morris, Prophecy, Poetry, and Hosea, vol. 219, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1996), 103.

[25] Buss, “Tragedy and Comedy in Hosea,” 75.

[26] Longman III and Dillard, 397.

[27] David A. Hubbard, Hosea: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 24, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1989), 38.

[28] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Ho 11:1–12.

[29] Patterson and Hill, Vol 10: Minor Prophets, Hosea–Malachi, 9.

[30] Smith, Hosea, Amos, Micah, 160.

[31] Else Kragelund Holt, Prophesying the Past: The Use of Israel’s History in the Book of Hosea (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995), 58.

[32] Ibid., 59–60.

[33] Alice A. Keefe, Woman’s Body and the Social Body in Hosea, vol. 338, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2001), 208–209.

[34] Grace I. Emmerson, Hosea: An Israelite Prophet in Judean Perspective, vol. 28, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1984), 43.

[35] Renita J. Weems, “Gomer: Victim of Violence or Victim of Metaphor?,” ed. Katie Geneva Cannon and Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza, Semeia 47 (1989): 99.

[36] English Standard Version, Ho 11:2.

[37] Morris, Prophecy, Poetry, and Hosea, vol. 219, 61.

[38] Buss, “Tragedy and Comedy in Hosea,” 76.

[39] English Standard Version, Ho 11:2.

[40] Garrett, Hosea, Joel, vol. 19A, 223.

[41] Ibid., 223.

[42] David A. Hubbard, Hosea: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 24, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1989), 198.

[43] English Standard Version, Ho 11:3.

[44] Hubbard, Hosea: An Introduction and Commentary, 199.

[45] Patterson and Hill, Vol 10: Minor Prophets, Hosea–Malachi, 67.

[46] Smith, Hosea, Amos, Micah, 161.

[47] Garrett, Hosea, Joel, vol. 19A, 224.

[48] Smith, Hosea, Amos, Micah, 161.

[49] Ibid., 161.

[50] Ibid., 161.

[51] Morris, Prophecy, Poetry, and Hosea, vol. 219, 87–88.

[52] Keefe, Woman’s Body and the Social Body in Hosea, vol. 338, 209.

[53] Buss, “Tragedy and Comedy in Hosea,” 76.

[54] Garrett, Hosea, Joel, vol. 19A, 226.

[55] Hubbard, Hosea: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 24, 201.

[56] Victor Harold Matthews, Mark W. Chavalas, and John H. Walton, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament, electronic ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), Ho 11:6.

[57] Hubbard, Hosea: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 24, 202.

[58] Smith, Hosea, Amos, Micah, 162.

[59] Hubbard, Hosea: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 24, 203.

[60] Hubbard, Hosea: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 24, 203.

[61] J. Gerald Janzen, “Metaphor and Reality in Hosea 11,” ed. William A. Beardslee and David J. Lull, Semeia 24 (1982): 9.

[62] Ibid., 10.

[63] James Luther Mays, “Response to Janzen: ‘Metaphor and Reality in Hosea 11,’” ed. William A. Beardslee and David J. Lull, Semeia 24 (1982): 48.

[64] Weems, “Gomer: Victim of Violence or Victim of Metaphor?,” 98.

[65] Smith, Hosea, Amos, Micah, 163.

[66] Garrett, Hosea, Joel, vol. 19A, 229.

[67] Hubbard, Hosea: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 24, 207.

[68] Garrett, Hosea, Joel, vol. 19A, 229.

[69] Hubbard, Hosea: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 24, 207.

[70] Smith, Hosea, Amos, Micah, 163.

[71] Garrett, Hosea, Joel, vol. 19A, 229.

[72] Ibid., 229.

[73] Ibid., 230.

[74] Holt, Prophesying the Past: The Use of Israel’s History in the Book of Hosea, 59.

[75] Ibid., 58.

[76] Smith, Hosea, Amos, Micah, 160.

[77] Garrett, Hosea, Joel, vol. 19A, 37.

[78] Emmerson, Hosea: An Israelite Prophet in Judean Perspective, vol. 28, 43.

[79] David A. Hubbard, Hosea: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 24, 43.

[80] Garrett, Hosea, Joel, vol. 19A, 223.

[81] Hubbard, Hosea: An Introduction and Commentary, 196.

[82] Ibid, 51.

[83] Garrett, Hosea, Joel, vol. 19A, 220.

[84] Ibid., 221.

[85] Ibid., 220.

[86] Ibid., 222.

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