Hosea, Oshea, Osee, Hoshea [Hōzē'ă, Ō shē'ă, Hō shē'ă]—jehovah is help or salvation.
1. The son of Beeri and first of the so-called Minor Prophets (Hosea 1:1).
Little is known of Hosea’s history beyond what we find in his writings. He has been called the first prophet of Grace and Israel’s earliest evangelist. He was a native of the Northern Kingdom, the iniquities and idolatries of which weighed heavily on his heart. He bore the same name as that of the last king of Israel (2 Kings 15:30). In Jewish tradition, he is identified with Beerah of Reuben (1 Chron. 5:6). Christian tradition, however, relates him to the Hosea of the tribe of Isaachar.
The home tragedy overtaking him earned him the title of “The Prophet of a Sorrowful Heart.” Through the wrongs he suffered he came to realize the sins committed by Israel against God, and the long history of unfaithfulness to Him. The accounts of Hosea’s marriage, the birth of his children and his wife’s unfaithfulness and restoration make sad reading. Hosea was called to express God’s message and to manifest His character.
Gomer, his wife, was immoral; hence the word of the Lord came to him amid much personal anguish; his home life was destroyed. Society was corrupt and God’s law spurned, and Hosea came to see in his own suffering a reflection of what the sorrow of God must be, when Israel proved utterly unfaithful.
Three children were born to Hosea and Gomer:
I. Jezreel, recalling the deed of blood (2 Kings 10), and by it a knell was rung in the ears of Jeroboam. The name of this child was an omen of coming judgment.
II. Lo-ruhamah, meaning, “one who never knew a father’s love.” This expressive name pointed to a time when, no more pitied by Jehovah, Israel would be given over to her enemies.
III. Lo-ammi, signifying “one not belonging to me.” Israel had turned from a father’s love and deserved not to belong to God. Thus this third child’s name prophesied the driving out of the children of Israel from their land to exile.
Gomer, the erring wife, is received back (Hos. 3:1, 2), the price of her redemption being paid by Hosea. So the prophet was not only God’s messenger of grace—he reflected God’s character and foreshadowed ultimate redemption through the Messiah and Israel’s reestablishment as a nation.
The four lessons we learn from the broken heart and the Book of Hosea have been fully expounded by Dr. Stuart Holden:
Anguish quickens apprehension.
Iniquity inspires moral indignation.
Suffering begets sympathy.
The divine character sanctifies human conduct.
3. The son of Azaziah and prince of Ephraim in David’s reign (1 Chron. 27:20).
4. A son of Elah, the last king of the Northern Kingdom (2 Kings 15:30).
5. A chief under Nehemiah who with others signed the covenant (Neh. 10:23).
Hosea is called Osee in the New Testament copy from the LXX.