Introduction to Hosea
Hosea is the first in the list of Minor Prophets, so-called mainly because their inspired books are shorter than those of the Major Prophets. Hosea probably was not the first of these prophets chronologically. More likely Amos, Obadiah, or Jonah was first. Hosea evidently was placed first among the Minor Prophets because his book was the longest of these. Because of the sad experiences in his own personal life, Hosea has occasionally been called “the broken-hearted prophet,” just as Jeremiah has been called “the weeping prophet.”
The name Hosea in the Hebrew was very similar to that of “Joshua,” meaning, “Jehovah is Salvation.” Hosea was almost unique among the writing prophets because he both lived in the northern kingdom of Israel and directed his prophecy mostly against Israel. He warned against the coming Assyrian invasion of Israel, just as Jeremiah later warned Judah about Babylon. His prophecies against Israel were all during the forty-one year reign of Jeroboam II in Israel (II Kings 14:23; Hosea 1:1). Hosea was concerned also about Judah, of course, and mentioned that his ministry coincided with the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah in Judah. Some think Hosea resided in Judah in his later years when it began to be dangerous for him to remain in Israel.
Hosea’s prophecy centers largely about the divinely inspired parallel between Hosea’s love for his unfaithful wife Gomer and Jehovah’s love for unfaithful Israel. In connection with his prophecies concerning Israel, a number of remarkable fulfillments in the long-range experiences of Israel (Hosea 3:4,5) have verified the supernatural nature of these prophecies.