Hosea 1:1 The word of the LORD that came to Hosea son of Beeri during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and during the reign of Jeroboam son of Jehoash king of Israel:
Hosea 1:2 When the LORD began to speak through Hosea, the LORD said to him, “Go, take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness, because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the LORD.”
“Go, take to yourself an adulterous wife” – Many interpreters take this marriage to be symbolic, rather than factual. Others avoid the obvious problems by inferring that Gomer became promiscuous after her marriage to Hosea, and the the prophet is now looking back and interpreting this as within God’s providential will.
“Children of unfaithfulness” – That these were children who were to be born to Gomer, rather than had already been born to her (out of wedlock and of an unknown father), is suggested by the following verse.
Hosea 1:3 So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.
Hosea 1:4 Then the LORD said to Hosea, “Call him Jezreel, because I will soon punish the house of Jehu for the massacre at Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of Israel.
I will…punish the house of Jehu for the massacre at Jezreel – Cf. 2 King 9:7f, where we are told that it was God who instructed Jehu to ‘strike down the house of Ahab’. This is seen by Steve Chalke as ‘just one example’ of the diversity of (and disagreement between) the various books that make up the Bible.
NBC explains: ‘Although Jehu was authorized to wipe out the house of Ahab, he went beyond his brief. His motives were influenced by self-interest, and he failed ultimately to control Baal worship.’
Similarly, but more fully, Hubbard (TOTC) says, ‘Though Jehu’s accession to the throne had been blessed by Elisha, even to the sanctioning of bloodshed to accomplish it (2 Kgs 9:1–10), it is obvious that Jehu (c. 841–814 BC) and his descendants had overplayed their hand: (1) their zeal for bloodshed exceeded all bounds; (2) the ambition of Jehu outstripped any sense of divine commission; (3) his rule, though retarding the Baal worship, which had been sponsored by Ahab and Jezebel, did little to bring a return to the worship of God which Omri’s dynasty had compromised (885–874 BC); and (4) in short, as the prophet-historian who recounted his story in Kings put it: ‘Jehu did not turn aside from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin, the golden calves that were in Bethel, and in Dan … But Jehu was not careful to walk in the law of the Lord the God of Israel with all his heart’ (2 Kgs 10:29, 31). The political, spiritual and social chaos recounted in Amos and Hosea is ample testimony to the justice of this verdict.’
Hosea 1:5 In that day I will break Israel’s bow in the Valley of Jezreel.”
Hosea 1:6 Gomer conceived again and gave birth to a daughter. Then the LORD said to Hosea, “Call her Lo-Ruhamah, for I will no longer show love to the house of Israel, that I should at all forgive them.
Hosea 1:7 Yet I will show love to the house of Judah; and I will save them–not by bow, sword or battle, or by horses and horsemen, but by the LORD their God.”
Hosea 1:8 After she had weaned Lo-Ruhamah, Gomer had another son.
Hosea 1:9 Then the LORD said, “Call him Lo-Ammi, for you are not my people, and I am not your God.
Hosea 1:10 “Yet the Israelites will be like the sand on the seashore, which cannot be measured or counted. In the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’ 11 The people of Judah and the people of Israel will be reunited, and they will appoint one leader and will come up out of the land, for great will be the day of Jezreel.
This passage is taken by some (e.g. Ryle, in Coming Events and Present Duties) to predict the gathering and conversion of national Israel in the last days. But Paul applies this to both Jews and Gentiles, Rom 9:24f.
Commenting on vv10-11, Calvin says, ‘[F]or so long a time has passed away since their [the sons of Israel] exile, and dejected and broken, they dwell at this day in mountains and in other desert places; at least many of them are in the mountains of Armenia, some are in Media and Chaldea; in short, throughout the whole of the East. And since there has been no restoration of this people, it is certain that this prophecy ought not to be restricted to seed according to the flesh. For there was a prescribed time for the Jews, when the Lord purposed to restore them to their country; and, at the end of seventy years, a free return was granted them by Cyrus. Then Hosea speaks not here of the kingdom of Israel, but of the Church, which was to be restored by a return, composed both of Jews and of Gentiles.’