Hosea marries a used woman
“Find a prostitute and marry her”1The LORD spoke to a man named Hosea, son of Beeri. God spoke to him during the reigns of Judah’s kings: Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. Israel’s king was Jeroboam, son of Joash.
2The first thing the LORD said to Hosea was, “I want you to find a prostitute and marry her. Then raise the prostitute’s children. Here’s why I want you to do this. The people of your land are unfaithful. They’ve left the LORD.”
It’s a boy3So, Hosea married Gomer, Diblaim’s daughter. She gave birth to a boy.
4The LORD told Hosea, “Name the boy Jezreel. Do it because I’m going to punish King Jehu’s family for the murders they committed in Jezreel. I’m going to put an end to that family dynasty.” 5In the Jezreel Valley, I’ll destroy Israel’s ability to make war.
It’s a girl6Gomer got pregnant again and had a daughter. The LORD told Hosea, “Name the girl, Lo-Ruhamah, ‘Not Loved.’ Do this because I’m done showing mercy to Israel. I’m not going to forgive them this time.
7Judah is different. I’ll show them mercy. I’m the LORD their God, and I’ll save them. But I’m not going to do it with swords and bows or horses and cavalry or by going to war.
It’s a boy8After Gomer weaned Lo-Ruhamah off breast milk, she got pregnant again and had another son.
9The LORD told Hosea, “Name him Lo-Ammi, ‘Not Mine.’ Do it because Israel isn’t my people anymore and I’m not their God.
Israel will be great again10But there’s coming a day when Israel’s population will explode. You won’t be able to count them all. It’ll be like counting grains of sand on the beach. I’m here now saying ‘You’re not my people.’ But one day in this place others will say this about Israel: ‘They are children of the true God.’
11People of the two nations of Judah and Israel will unite. They’ll select one leader and become a powerful people. That will be great day in Jezreel.
Hosea ministered in the northern Jewish kingdom of Israel from about 750-722 BC. Assyrian invaders from what is now northern Iraq overran the kingdom in 722 BC, dissolved the government, deported the leading citizens who survived the war, and annexed the land as a new province of the empire. The empire was unable to capture Jerusalem.
It’s unclear if the woman, Gomer (verse 3), made a living with sex or treated it as a hobby. The Hebrew word, zenunim, can refer to a hooker or to someone who sleeps around, flirts with bedroom eyes, or reaches under the dinner table to grab the thigh of another person’s spouse. Hosea could have married a hooker, flirter, or grabber. Whatever Gomer was it wasn’t monogamous.
Uh, really? God told a devoted prophet to marry a woman with a Bad Girl reputation, which was practiced and well-deserved. Long before the birth of Christ and Christianity, Jewish scholars debated Hosea’s marriage. Some said the marriage was just part of his vision. God often spoke in dreams, called visions of the night. Others said, no, Hosea literally married a prostitute or perhaps just a Loosie Goosy who liked guys a little too much. Either way, the marriage was a metaphor to reflect the Jewish people’s spiritual infidelity. As a nation, Israel had taken a vow of devotion to one God: “You can’t have any gods but me” (Exodus 20:3). But they started sleeping around with other gods. In some religions, the sex was literal. Worshipers had sex with shrine prostitutes and priests, as a worship ritual.
We’re left to guess whether this child or any that follow belonged to Hosea.
“Jezreel” means “God plants.” Jezreel is the name of a wide valley—fertile farmland in northern Israel.
Jehu was an Israelite commander of a chariot corps a century earlier. He led a coup against King Ahab’s son and successor, King Jeroboam. Jehu killed the king and the king’s infamous mother, Jezebel. Then he ordered all the men in the family—70 of them—executed. He ordered their heads piled up at the front gate of Jezreel—a royal getaway retreat. He killed the king’s family, friends, and public officials as well. And then he declared himself king, the first of a new family dynasty.
Lo-Ruhamah, is Hebrew for “Not Loved.”
Lo-Ammi, is Hebrew for “Not Mine.”
What does “a great day for Jezreel” mean? Here’s one of many educated guesses. The Jezreel Valley was famous for two things: battles and farming—which Hosea may have used as metaphors. God would plant a garden of Jews by bringing the exiles of Babylon back to their homeland. And they would become a military might. Napoleon called the sprawling valley the “perfect battlefield.” Gideon fought Midianites there. Deborah’s army defeated an invading chariot corps. Jezreel was the ancient version of our “Gettysburg” or “Pearl Harbor” or “Omaha Beach.” The valley, even today, is Israel’s breadbasket of primo farmland. Jezreel, once infamous for the murder of Ahab’s family dynasty, would become part of a respected and powerful nation.
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