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The Prophet Hosea

The Prophet Hosea

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Published by glennpease
A. B. DAVIDSON D.D., LL.D., Litt.D.

Professor of Hebrew, New College, Edinburgh
A. B. DAVIDSON D.D., LL.D., Litt.D.

Professor of Hebrew, New College, Edinburgh

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Published by: glennpease on Aug 03, 2013
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THE PROPHET HOSEAA. B. DAVIDSO D.D., LL.D., Litt.D.Professor of Hebrew, ew College, EdinburghTHERE are several points of interest in the personand work of Hosea. First, he was a prophet of the northern kingdom : we may say , the only prophetof the northern kingdom who has left any writtenprophecy. The great prophets of Israel, Elijah andElisha, lived before written prophecy began. Unlesswe accept the theory of Hitzig and some other critics,that the two chapters numbered xv. and xvi. in ourpresent book of Isaiah form a fragment of the pro-phecies of Jonah, who was a prophet of the orth, wepossess nothing of his ; for the book that goes by hisname is not prophecy but narrative, and makes no pre-tension to be v/ritten by him ; and is, to all appearance,a very great deal later than his day. Amos, thoughhis prophetic career, so far as we know it, was confinedto the orth, was a native of Judaea ; and he lookedon the conditions of human life in the orth with astranger's eye, and estimated them from a stranger'spoint of view. Perhaps the pictures which he drawsare all the sharper in their outlines on this account,and the figures bolder and more energetic, and thecolours laid on with a more vigorous and determinedhand. At least his sketches of the magnates of Israeland of the women of Samaria are by no friendlypencil. The artist is one of the people, and his sub- ject is an effeminate and dissolute aristocracy ; and wemay be sure no pains was taken to tone down the pic-ture or throw any shade^over its hideousness. But82
• THE PROPHET HOSEA 83Hosea was a native of that evil northern land himself.He had grown up familiar with all the forms of its life :however evil they might seem to him, they could notstrike him as strange. And as even the forms of wickedness which mark a people's history spring fromcharacteristics of the people's mind and position whichare not evil, these must have been shared by the pro-phet ; and if he could not sympathize with the evilwrought by his countrymen, he could see whence itarose, and judge it more leniently, and condemn it lessseverely .It is cause for special thankfulness that Scripturehas preserved to us this book, the product of anorthern mind, the testimony borne to itself bythe northern kingdom. The books of Kings andChronicles are late, and pass lightly over the affairs of the kingdom of the Ten Tribes : their view is general ;and, as was right, condemnatory. And we are apt, inour hasty and superficial manner, to conclude that,because this kingdom is condemned as upon the wholebad, therefore it was wholly bad, and to forget thatmoral uniformity is nowhere seen ; that there is astruggle everywhere between the good and the evil,and that only after a conflict of many generations is theone or the other victorious. The designs of Providence /in the erection of this kingdom form a very profoundproblem. Favoured in its origin by prophets, Ahijahand Shemaiah ; fostered and purified by the greatest ^prophetic geniuses of the Hebrew people, Elijah andElisha ; preached to by Amos, a direct messenger fromGod, and its sins condemned, but with only a condem-nation by inference for itself ; at last assailed by Hosea,one of its own children, and the chief est and first of itssins declared to be the sin of its ever having come intoexistence — these things form a riddle difficult to solve.
84 THE PROPHET HOSEAHad Providence, in permitting its rise, other designs ?! and the prophets, in promoting the secession, otherhopes ? And might the kingdom have had a greatdestiny, and played a great part in the history of salva-'' \ tion, if Jeroboam the son of ebat had understood theprinciples of God's kingdom ? We see the possibilitiesof things only when these are possibilities no more.When our life is spent, or irrevocably lowered, we seethe meaning of living, and exclaim, What this life of ours might have been ! By the time Hosea came uponthe scene, the energies of Israel were exhausted ; hisyouthful powers had been wasted ; there was no destinyawaiting him now ; he was prematurely old : " Strangershave devoured his strength, and he knoweth it not :yea, grey hairs are here and there upon him, yet heknoweth it not " (chap. vii. 9). ot in years, but invital power, he was old ; and, like others in that state,he could not be made to feel it.Yet we cannot help a certain sympathy for that/ northern kingdom. It embodied in its origin a pro-*^ i test, strong and strange for that time and that Eastern^ i land, against political despotism, even if we should notgo the length of regarding the movement as a protestagainst religious innovation and centralization, and anappeal to the conservative spirit to return to old forms — a view certainly not that of Hosea. o doubt thebreak occurred where there had always been a weak-ness. A crack in the political unity ran across thecountry, from the Mediterranean to the Jordan, be-tween the boundaries of Ephraim and Benjamin. Inthe Song of Deborah we observe all the northerntribes acting together, both east and west of the Jor-dan ; but no allusion is made to any of the tribes southof Ephraim. The secession of the northern confeder-ation was, however, none the less a bold and decisive

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