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This book stands first in order among the "Minor Prophets." "The probable cause of the location of Hosea may be the thoroughly national character of his oracles, their length, their earnest tone, and vivid representations." This was the longest of the prophetic books written before the Captivity. Hosea prophesied in a dark and melancholy period of Israel's history, the period of Israel's decline and fall. Their sins had brought upon them great national disasters. "Their homicides and fornication, their perjury and theft, their idolatry and impiety, are censured and satirized with a faithful severity." He was a contemporary of Isaiah.
The book may be divided into two parts, the first containing Hos. 1 - 3, and symbolically representing the idolatry of Israel under imagery borrowed from the matrimonial relation. The figures of marriage and adultery are common in the Old Testament writings to represent the spiritual relations between Jehovah and the people of Israel. Here we see the apostasy of Israel and their punishment, with their future repentance, forgiveness, and restoration.
The second part, containing Hos. 4 - 14, is a summary of Hosea's discourses, filled with denunciations, threatenings, exhortations, promises, and revelations of mercy.
Quotations from Hosea are found in Mat_2:15; Mat_9:15; Mat_12:7; Rom_9:25, Rom_9:26. There are, in addition, various allusions to it in other places (Luk_23:30; Rev_6:16, compare Hos_10:8; Rom_9:25, Rom_9:26; 1Pe_2:10, compare Hos_1:10, etc.).
As regards the style of this writer, it has been said that "each verse forms a whole for itself, like one heavy toll in a funeral knell." "Inversions (Hos_7:8; Hos_9:11, Hos_9:13; Hos_12:8), anacolutha (Hos_9:6; Hos_12:8, etc.), ellipses (Hos_9:4; Hos_13:9, etc.), paranomasias, and plays upon words, are very characteristic of Hosea (Hos_8:7; Hos_9:15; Hos_10:5; Hos_11:5; Hos_12:11)."