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Old Testament | Hosea | Summary



  • Hosea marries an unfaithful woman named Gomer, and their children have symbolic names, including "Not My People."
  • The "lovers" that Israel has cheated on Yahweh with are the foreign gods they have worshipped, especially the Canaanite god Baal.
  • Because of Israel's violence, corruption, faithlessness, and worship of idols, it will be swallowed up by other nations (7–8).
  • Israel was once like a beloved son (11:1). Now the people of Israel will become "wanderers among the nations" (9:17).
  • If they renounce their reliance on foreign nations and idolatry, God will "heal their disloyalty" and "love them freely" (14:4).


Hosea is best remembered for the prophet's symbolic marriage to an adulterous woman (a "wife of whoredom"). A major question for readers has been whether a prophet would actually have entered such a scandalous marriage just to illustrate Israel's unfaithfulness. However, the central metaphor of marital infidelity defines Hosea's messages against the kingdom of Israel throughout the book. At times the rhetoric of this metaphor becomes truly shocking, as when Yahweh declares that the promiscuous woman will be stripped naked and publicly shamed for her affairs (2:3, 10). As offensive as this image certainly is, the ultimate point of this metaphor in Hosea is that Yahweh desires reunification with wayward Israel in spite of the people's many mistakes.

In Hosea, Israel's principal crime against Yahweh is the worship of other deities, particularly the Canaanite god Baal (2:8; 13:1). Hosea refers to a plurality of "Baals" rather than a singular deity, reflecting the worship of multiple local deities identified by the name/title Baal (literally, "lord") throughout the region. A striking statement in Hosea 2:16 suggests that some were blending the identity of these Baal deities with Yahweh. Hosea also specifically rebukes the worship of calf idols in the shrines at Samaria (8:5–6) and Bethel (10:5). The heretical religious practices Hosea condemns are understood by the prophet to coincide with pervasive moral depravity. Forceful rhetoric about all these failings is meant to persuade Israel toward repentance.

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