Inductive Bible Studies,

[Copyright by W. R. HARPER, 1887.]

PREPARED BY PROFESSORS W. R. HARPER (Yale University), W. G. BALLANTINE (Oberlin Theol. Sem.), WILLIS J. BEECHER (Auburn Theol. Sem.), and G. S. BURROUGHS (Amherst College).


Twenty-Fourth  Study.—The Prophecy of Hosea.

[The material of this " study " is furnished by Professors Burroughs. It is edited by Professor Harper.]



1. The Inductive Study of the Bible is cumulative in character. Each new step involves all that has gone before. Each new step, also, adds a new element to what has gone before.

2. The Book of Hosea closes the prophecy of the northern kingdom. It is its culmination. It involves and gathers together the entire prophecy of Israel, both oral and written. But it also crowns all that has gone before with the higher revelation of the divine love.

3. The prophecy of Hosea is, for many reasons, a difficult book to grasp. But its study can be made to yield a most valuable result, if it be taken up under the guidance of the principles which have been so frequently emphasized in these " studies."


1. Read carefully, in the Revised Version, the Book of Hosea.1

(1) Does the prophecy appear connected or fragmentary? Is there any difference, in this regard, between chs. 1-3 and chs. 4-14?

(2) As compared with the Book of Amos, consider its movement and progress. Is there more or less of repetition in the thought?

(3) What are the principal thoughts of the book, as you remember them?

(a) How as to the idolatrous worship, condemned by Amos? With whatprominence is this spoken of?

(b) Are the immoralities, of which Amos spoke, brought forward by Hosea?

(c) What of the sinfulness of the separation of Israel from Judah?

(d) Hosea's treatment of the relations of Israel to other kingdoms, as compared with that of Amos?

(e) His representations of the divine judgment and of the divine love as compared with those of Amos?

(4) In reference to the style of the book as compared with Jonah and Amos,

(a) is it more or less poetical ? and

(b) what of the number, character and variety of the figures?

(5) In reference to the personality of the prophet as seen in his writing,

(a) what of the character and variety of the feelings displayed?

(b) what of his interest in the conditions of life about him?

(c) how far does this express itself in his style and in his portraiture of his times ?

2. Consider briefly the following points:

(1) Personal facts regarding the prophet:

(a) His name, with its signification, salvation, deliverance, cf. Num. 13:8,16; Deut. 32:44;2 Kgs. 15:30. Is there any indication here as to the prophet's place of birth?

(b) His nationality: Was he of the northern kingdom? What may be inferred from such expressions as "the land," 1:2; "our king," 7:5; from topographical allusions, 5:1; 6:8; 12:11; 14:5,6, etc.; from historical allusions; from intimate knowledge of Israelitish life; from his deep sympathy with the people in their sin and approaching punishment? Is there any evidence that he was not of Israel? If he was of the ten tribes, is our interest in his prophecy heightened, and why? How may we see, in this fact, an advance in prophecy in the northern kingdom, as compared with the mission of Amos? How, also, is an increased need of its utterance to be inferred from the condition of the kingdom?

(2) The Duration of the Prophet's Activity. From the title, 1:1, what conclusion do we reach as to the book? Is it the record of a brief mission, as, for example, the Book of Amos, or the summary of a lengthy prophetic ministry? Is there any evidence or support, from the title or from the contents of the book, for the opinion that the prophet, meeting with opposition and persecution, retired to the southern kingdom and there wrote the substance of his prophecy? What explanation may be given of the mention of the kings of Judah in the title, inferable from the prophet's denunciation of the separation of the kingdoms?

3. Re-read chs. 1-3.

(1) Consider in reference to these chapters the following questions: Are they a revelation of the domestic history of Hosea ? or are they, as a whole, allegorical? or are chapters 1 and 3 historical, while chapter 2 is allegorical? Which interpretation seems the more natural? What light is thrown on the subject from other prophetical books? Would the literal interpretation add force to the general teaching of the book?

(2) Study carefully ch. 1.

(a) What Bible figure, expressing the relation of God to his people, is made the basis of the prophet's representation and denunciation of the sin of Israel? Exod. 34:15; Deut. 31:16.

(b) Who is represented by the wife? Who by the children? What use is made of the names of these children? What play appears to be made upon the name Jezreel, God scattereth and God planteth? (c) What promise is to be fulfilled? Gen. 13:16; 15:5; 22:17; 26:4; 28:14; see also Exod. 4:22 and cf. 11:1. (d) What union will be effected? (e) Under whom will it be brought about? (f) Upon what is particular emphasis laid in this chapter?

(3) Study ch. 2.

(a) In what aspect is the judgment to come upon Israel here viewed?

(b) From whom had Israel received her blessings? To whom had she attributed them?

(c) To what discipline is she subjected ? What allusions are made to Israelitish history?

(d) What picture is drawn of the future reunion of Jehovah and Israel?

(e) What are to be the bonds of this perfect future relationship ?

(f) Upon what is the emphasis specially placed in this chapter?

(4) Study ch. 3.

(a) What is the symbolic picture? What the interpretation?

(b) What contrasts are drawn (v. 4) between the condition of the Jehovah worshiper and that of the Baal-worshiper?

(c) What is the meaning of "David their king "?

(d) What attribute of Jehovah is particularly emphasized (v. 5)? Is the blessing of the future to be viewed as in special relation to this divine attribute and its revelation?

(5) In conclusion, consider chs. 1-3 as a unit.

(a) Does there seem to be a decided break at the close of ch. 3, separating what precedes from the remainder of the book?

(b) Which appears to be particularly emphasized in chs. 1-3, the irreligious or the immoral condition of Israel ? Which in the following chapters of the book? Would the prophet seem to emphasize a false relation to Jehovah as the source of national corruption? cf. previous " study." Would he also seem to emphasize a true relation to Jehovah as the source of righteous living? see 2:16-20.

(c) What would seem to be the condition of the kingdom, as depicted in this section of the book? see 2:8-13. What dynasty is upon the throne? see 1:4. What, by way of contrast, appears to be the condition of the kingdom and of the government, as portrayed in the remainder of the book? What conclusion may be drawn as to the earlier date of chs. 1-3?

4. Re-read chs. 4-14.

(1) What appears to be the relation of these chapters to chs. 1-3? Is there here a fuller exposition and reiteration, under the changed and changing circumstances of a later time, of the contents of chs. 1-3? To determine this:

(a) Gather together the references to the times found in this section. What is the resulting picture? Do you discover evidence, (1) of plots, commotions, civil wars; (2) of rulers without honor; (3) of general insecurity; (4) of gross immorality; (5) of reliance upon foreign intervention; (6) of social disorganization, etc.? Compare these hints and references with the condition of affairs disclosed in "studies"' 21 and 26; see 2 Kgs. 15:8-31; 17:1-24.

(b) Notice that the denunciations of the prophet are interrupted by and close with three promissory passages, increasing in length and rising in thought, viz., 6:1-3, repentance urged and promise attached; 11:8-11, Jehovah's love, yearning and struggling in behalf of Israel; ch. 14, Jehovah's love restored to the penitent Israel.

(c) Notice also the apparent impossibility of discovering any chronological or strict logical order in these chapters.

(2) Gather the various passages in this section, chs. 4-14, as far as possible, around the principal thoughts of the book, see 1, (3), viz.,

(a) the idolatrous worship;

(b) the immoralities of Israel;

(c) the sinfulness of the separation of Israel from Judah;

(d) the relations of Israel to other kingdoms;

(e) the divine love in its manifestations and power. Does this arrangement serve to unify the section? Does it also assist in bringing out the characteristics of the prophet's expression, by separating the matter of his utterance from the manner of it.

(3) Make special studies of the following passages:

(a) Ch. 6:1-3. Do you find the prophet here pointing out the way of salvation? Is there a comparison between the certainty of the revelation of the divine grace and the regularity of natural phenomena? What is the condition of the people? How rapidly will the divine omnipotence act? Of what sort is the resurrection referred to and the life into which it will bring Israel? cf. also 13:14.

(b) Ch. 11:8-11. Consider this in connection with verses 1-7, the child, taught of the father to walk, because of his rebelliousness, delivered over to punishment. How is the father's grief portrayed, together with his restoring power? How is the coming captivity represented in terms of that in Egypt?

(c) Ch. 14. Analyze as follows:

(1) the prophetic exhortation, 1:2a;

(2) Ephraim's penitence before Jehovah, 2b, 3;

(3) Jehovah's response, 4-7;

(4) Ephraim, 8a;

(5) Jehovah, 8b;

(6) Ephraim, 8c;

(7) Jehovah, 8d;

(8) the prophetic exhortation, v. 9.2


1. The Style of Hosea.

(1) How would you characterize it?

(a) Clear or obscure, and why?

(b) Easy or difficult of understanding, and why? (c) Rough or smooth, classic or rude, connected or disjointed? Give examples.

(2) What is the general character of his imagery?

(3) From your general knowledge of the style of the O. T. prophets, what comparisons would you make, both in the way of similarity and contrast?

2. Comparison with Amos.

(1) Which is predominant in Amos, the moral or religious element? Which in Hosea?

(2) Compare their views of God. What is the center of the conception of God which Amos presents? What of that which Hosea presents?

(3) What progress in prophecy does a comparison of the two books suggest?

3. The Legislation of Israel as Mirrored in Hosea.3

(1) What appears to be the position of the prophet regarding the Mosaic covenant? the law? the priesthood?

(2) What passages seem clearly to contain references to the legislation and history found in the Pentateuch?

(3) What parallelisms in thought do you find between the prophet and the Pentateuch, e. g., the divine love in relation to Israel, Deut. 6:4-9; 7:6-11; 10:12,13,15; 11:1; 19:9; 23:5; 30:6-20; also Exod. 34:15; Deut. 31:16, etc.

4. Progress in Messianic Prophecy.

(1) Gather together the elements of the Messianic prophecy of Hosea; arrange the statements made under the following heads:

(a) the divine favor characteristic of the Messianic period;

(b) the entire people of God united under the headship of David;

(c) the numbers of these regathered peoples of God vastly multiplied.

(2) Compare with the prophecy found in Amos; unify.

(3) Show the relation of the history of the northern kingdom to this unfolding prophecy; e. g.,

(a) the suffering already existing as the result of their sin;

(b) the foreseen punishment of the imminent exile.

(4) Note the two-fold character of the prophecy:

(a) judgment upon hostile and heathen nations;

(b) restoration of Israel.

(5) Consider the foundation of this prophecy, the divine justice and the divine love.


1) Recalling the cautions, already given, regarding the use of helping literature, see Delitzsch, "O. T. History of Redemption,"? 54, The Ephraimite Prophet of Love; von Orelli, " . T. Prophecy," pp. 228-244; Briggs, "Messianic Prophecy," pp. 164-179; Ewald, " Prophets of 0. T.," vol. i., pp. 210304; W. R. Smith, "The Prophets of Israel," Lect. iv.; W. H. Green, "Moses and the Prophets," pp. 155-169, 255-353; Geikie, "Hours with the Bible, vol. iv., pp. 248-270; Cambridge Bible for Schools, " Hosea," T. K. Cheyne: Keil and Delitzsch, Minor Prophets, " Hosea," C. F. Keil; Lange's Com., "Hosea," O. Schmoller and J. F. McCurdy.

2) See Briggs, " Messianic Prophecy," pp. 176-178.

3) See also the previous study as regards the law of the northern kingdom.