Hosea’s use of the Old Testament (Hosea 12)

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Illustration: Artistic impression of the prophet Hosea

Hosea was one of Israel’s first prophets whose message was put into writing. Nevertheless Hosea’s message, like those of Israel’s other “writing prophets”, cannot be understood in isolation from the law and the books of Joshua and Judges, books to which Hosea often alluded. For example, he used other Old Testament accounts as follows:

  • The promises to Abraham await their final fulfilment (Hosea 1:10 cf. Genesis 22:17)
  • God’s dealings with Jacob are applicable and relevant for his descendants (Genesis 25:25-26, 28:11-16, 29:16-30, 32:24-27, Hosea 12:2-4, 12)
  • Israel’s bondage in Egypt was a type or representation of her coming bondage to the Assyrians (Hosea 8:13, 9:3, 6)
  • The exodus was a sign of God’s great mercy and compassion (Hosea 11:1, 13:4-6), but also an event that soon would be reversed in Israel’s exile and captivity (10:5-8, 11:1-5). This event would be repeated in the nation’s restauration under the Davidic king (1:11, 2:15, 3:5, 11:11, 12:9)
  • The Ten Commandments were the fundamental rules by which the nation was to live and by which she would be judged (Exodus 20:1-17, Hosea 4:1-2, 13:4)
  • God’s covenant with Israel (Hosea 8:1-3, 12) was a source of great blessings (2:8, 18-23, 13:4, 14:4-8) but would also bring curses on those who broke it (4:6, 8:1-10 cf. Deuteronomy 28)
  • Israel’s tendency towards apostasy was reflected in the people’s idolatry during their period of desert wandering and continuing into Hosea’s day (Hosea 9:10, 13:4-6)
  • The city of Gilead was a notable example of wickedness in the past (Judges 19:12-30) and in Hosea’s day as well (Hosea 10:9)
  • Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim (locations uncertain) were notorious examples of God’s judgement (Deuteronomy 29:23, Hosea 11:8)

Hosea’s allusions to Genesis through Judges are highly significant. First, they help to establish the fact that these books had already been written by the time of Hosea, in the eighth century B.C. (Many scholars consider these books to be from the sixth century B.C. and even later.) Second, Hosea’s construal of these books helps to understand early Biblical interpretation, which in turn gives us a better understanding of how the New Testament interprets the Old.


 

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