Criswell Theological Review 7.1 (1993) 51-66

[Copyright 1993 by Criswell College, cited with permission;

digitally prepared for use at Gordon and Criswell Colleges and elsewhere]








Criswell College

Dallas, TX 75246





In recent years there has been an avalanche of studies which have

analyzed the way the New Testament writers cited and interpreted

the Old Testament.1 This research has been augmented significantly

by the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, where the sectarian authors

at Qumran cited OT texts believing they were experiencing the

fulfillment of prophetic texts in contemporary events. The methods

employed by NT writers and other Jewish groups in interpreting and

quoting the OT perhaps cannot be fully appreciated and understood

apart from earlier practices. As M. Fishbane has shown in his work

Biblical Interpretation In Ancient Israel,2 the practice of citing ear-

lier canonical texts may be observed in the OT itself. Fishbane has

provided a comprehensive survey of the possible ways the OT texts

may have used earlier traditions. This area of investigation has bear-

ing not only for the history and technique of exegetical methods used

by the NT writers and other Jewish interpreters, but also has im-

plications pertinent to the acceptance of biblical books as canonical


1 E.g., see WC. Kaiser, Jr., The Uses of the Old Testament in the New (Chicago:

Moody, 1985) 1; I. H. Marshall, "An Assessment of Recent Developments," in It is Writ-

ten: Scripture Citing Scripture, Essays in Honour of Barnabas Lindars, SSF; eds. D. A.

Carson and H. G. M. Williamson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988) 1-2

and R. B. Sloan, "The New Testament Use of the Old Testament" in Reclaiming the Pro-

phetic Mantle, ed. G. L. Klein (Nashville: Broadman, 1992) 129-59.

2 Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985.



Scripture.3 In this essay Hosea's use of earlier OT texts will be ana-

lyzed. The arrangement for the textual examination will proceed

along the canonical order of the texts used in Hosea. The analysis will

begin with the narrative texts used in Hosea and then analyze Hosea's

use of legal passages.4


Hosea's Use of Old Testament Narrative Texts


It has long been recognized that the prophet Hosea was very

familiar with the earlier narrative writings of the OT. Indeed, Hosea

is considered by many as the most historical of all the OT writing

prophets due to acquaintance with previously written narrative texts.5


Primeval History


Although the creation account from Genesis is not frequently dis-

cussed in prophetic literature (in comparison, say, to the Exodus), we

do find in Hos 2:18 [MT=20] an apparent dependence on the creation

account of Genesis 1. In Hos 2:18 [20] we read: "In that day I will

make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field and the birds of

the air and the creatures that move along the ground." The animals

listed in this verse occur in the same order as in Gen 1:30, a text con-

cerned with providing sustenance for the animals. Supplying animals

with food is also what is under consideration in Hos 2:18-[20]. The ref-

erence to the animals from Gen 1:30 in the restoration passage of Hos

2:18 [20] is thus a re-creation accomplished by God under the provi-

sions He promised to Israel in the new covenant.6 The reference to the

series of animals in Hos 2:18 [20], following the creation order, is a re-

turn to the harmony that existed in creation as the animal kingdom is

to be maintained.7


3 W C. Kaiser, Jr., "Inner Biblical Exegesis-as a Model for Bridging the 'Then' and

'Now' Gap: Hos 12:1-6," JETS 28 (March 1985) 34; and L. M. Eslinger, "Hosea 12:5a and

Genesis 32:29: A Study in loner Biblical Exegesis," JSOT 18 (1980) 91.

4 This is not to deny that Hosea was familiar with other portions of the OT. Kauf-

mann, for example, contends that Hosea alludes to specific texts in OT Wisdom Litera-

ture. See Y. Kaufmann, History of the Religion of Israel 4 vols. (Jerusalem: Bialik, 1956)

3. 112-113, 122 (in Hebrew).

5 Kaufmann, History, 122-23. Similarly, S. McKenzie, "Exodus Typology in Hosea,"

Res Q 22 (1979) 100; and D. R Daniels, Hosea and Salvation History (BZAW 191; Ber-

lin. New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1990) 11.

6 Wolff states that this text is the first reference to the concept of the new covenant.

H. W Wolff, Hosea (Hermeneia: Fortress, 1974) 51. He also states that the text recalls

Gen 1:30. Ibid.

7 See L E. McComiskey, "Hosea," in The Minor Prophets: An Exegetical and

Expository Commentary, ed. L E. McComiskey (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1992) 47. Another


An additional reference to the animals found in the creation ac-

count in Gen 1:30 occurs in Hos 4:3. In this passage, in response to vari-

ous covenant violations by the inhabitants of the Northern Kingdom,

the Israelites are described as being in a state of despondency. These

sins affect not only the human inhabitants of the nation, but also have

an effect on the animal world. We are told the beasts of the field and

the birds of the sky waste away as a consequence of Israel's unfaith-

fulness, while the fish of the sea disappear.8 The fact of the animals' de-

struction is further emphasized in the presentation of the animals in

a chiastic arrangement when compared with the order of Gen 1:20-24.

These animals from the three spheres of land, sky, and sea represent

the entire animal kingdom. Hosea's chiastic arrangement suggests that

the creation order is being undone or perhaps subject to reversion due

to the enormity of Israel's sin.9 We thus find a reversal of the harmony

God will establish in the restoration in Hos 2:18 [20].

Yet this is not the only occasion Hosea indicates that he was fa-

miliar with the narrative content of the Book of Genesis. The next texts

we will examine from Genesis are from the Patriarchal Narratives.


Patriarchal Narratives

In an announcement regarding the future restoration of Israel,

Hosea states that the quantity of the reinstated nation is comparable to

the sand on the seashore: "Yet the Israelites will be like the sand on the

seashore," MyAha lOHK; lxerAW;yi-yineB; rPas;mi (mispar bene yisra'el kehol hayyam

Hos 1:10 [MT=2:1]). The language and the comparison represent a

dependency on God's promise to Abraham in Gen 15:5 and 22:17.10

The expression provides a clear example of the borrowing of a prom-

inent phrase drawn from the promise to the nation via the Patriarch

which is now applied to the future reinstalling of Israel Hosea is also

familiar with other passages from the patriarchal narratives. The next


reference to the early chapters of Genesis may occur in Hos 10:8 where in judgment

upon the high places of Aven "thorns and thistles" will grow. This is possibly an allusion

to the specific effects of sin mentioned in the curse in Gen 3:18. McComiskey, "Hosea",

and R C. Chisholm, Jr., Interpreting the Minor Prophets (Grand Rapids: Zondervan) 41.

8 Because the fish are also destroyed, Ehrlich maintains that this judgment is

more severe than the judgment the world experienced in the global flood when only

land creatures were destroyed. A B. Ehrlich, Mikra Ki-Peshuto 3 vols. (New York: KTAV;

1969) 3. 367 (in Hebrew).

9 M. Deroche, "The Reversal of Creation in Hosea," VT 31 (1981) 403.

10 See E I. Andersen and D. N. Freedman, Hosea (Anchor Bible; New York: Double-

day, 1980) 202; and C. H. Bullock, An Introduction to the Old Testament Prophetic Books

(Chicago: Moody, 1986) 99.

11 The new covenant blessing is harmonious with the Abrahamic promise as Paul

notes in Galatians 3.



discussion moves from the citing of a phrase in the Patriarchal narra-

tive to an allusion to a larger narrative context, Gen 25:11-35:22.

In Hosea 12 the prophet discusses disobedience and the threat of

divine punishment for the Northern Kingdom. To illustrate the nation's

propensity to rebel against God, Hosea suggests that Israel's obstinancy

is characteristic behavior. Even Jacob, their forefather, displayed un-

faithfulness. In Hos 12:2-4, 12 [MT=3-5, 13] we read:

The Lord has a charge to bring against Judah; he will punish Jacob ac-

cording to his ways and repay him according to his deeds. (v 2)

In the womb he grasped his brother's heel; as a man he struggled with

God. (v 3)

He struggled with the angel and overcame him; he wept and begged for

his favor. He found him at Bethel and talked with him there. (v 4)

Jacob fled to the country of Aram; Israel served to get a wife; and to pay

for her he tended sheep. (v 12)


There is good reason to suggest that these verses from Hosea 12 are

dependent on the earlier narrative account recorded in Gen 25:11-

35:22. Hos 12:3a mentions that Jacob grasped his brother by the heel.

The source for this information is surely recorded in Gen 25:21-26,

particularly Gen 25:26 where Jacob is described as holding onto the

heel of Esau as he comes from Rebekah's womb.12

The next half of v 3 mentions another defining event of Jacob's

life, the account of Jacob wrestling with God (recorded in Gen 32:22-

32). In 12:4 [MT=5] we discover with interest the comment that the be-

ing with whom Jacob wrestled was in fact an angel. Kaiser comments

on the explanation:

Now even though Genesis 32 does not mention an "angel" but simply re-

fers to a "person" (32:25) who in v 29 is identified as Elohim, there is no

reason to doubt its authenticity in this text. In fact the glossing of God

with "angel" eliminated the offensive anthropomorphism that would

otherwise portray the incorporeal God of the universe wrestling in hand

combat with a mere mortal like Jacob.13


Regardless, the occurrence of the key verb "prevailed" (lKaUy, yukal

12:4 [MT=5]) borrowed from Gen. 32:29 renders Hosea's dependency

on this Genesis narrative indisputable.14

The reference to Jacob's weeping and begging favor in Hos 12:4 [5]

is not as easy to pinpoint in the narrative account of Jacob's life found

in Genesis. Yet the clear allusion to the narrative of Genesis in the pre-


12 Daniels, Hosea and Salvation, 42-43.

13 Kaiser, "Inner Biblical Exegesis," 39-40.

14 Andersen and Freedman maintain that the use of this verb in the two passages

is the strongest verbal link between the two texts. Andersen and Freedman, Hosea, 608.



vious phrases causes us to suspect that the Genesis narrative is the

source for this more problematic phrase.15 It has been suggested that

the cause is to be found in the occurrence of the two Hebrew roots hkB

(bkh) and gH (hg) in Genesis 33. That chapter records Jacob's meeting

with Esau and the occurrence of the same two Hebrew roots found in

Hosea 12. This explanation has been advocated by Holladay, McKenzie,

and Kaiser.16 Eslinger nicely summarizes the point of Hosea's refer-

ence to the Jacob account:

In 12:3, Hosea makes formal announcement of Yahweh's dispute with con-

temporary Israel. This formal dispute was Hosea's way of engaging Israel

in a confrontation with Yahweh, just as long before the messenger had

struggled with Jacob and prevailed. . . . Just as Jacob had wept and sup-

plicated to Esau (Hos 12:5ab, Gen 33:4, 10) after submitting to God and the

malak, so Hosea suggests, Israel should do likewise.17


The analogy is meaningful only if we assume that the character of the

nation was consistent with the behavior of its ancestry.18 The audi-

ence would be reminded of the Patriarch's "character defect"19 which

they inherited and which they now unmistakably exhibit. We now

move from discussion of Hosea's use of narrative from the Book of

Genesis to other narratives from the Torah, specifically the narratives

recording the Exodus and wanderings from the Books of Exodus and



Exodus-Wanderings Narrative


The records of the Exodus from Egypt and the wanderings of the

Israelites in the desert were clearly accounts known to Hosea as evi-

denced by his frequent reference to these salient events.

In the first chapter of Hosea, where God directs the prophet to

marry a wife of harlotry (1:2), the children born to the union are given

names which forecast the impending punishment which God is about


15 Thus reasons McKenzie. See S. L. McKenzie, "The Jacob Tradition in Hosea xii

4-5," VT 36 (1986) 314-16. For the amazing number of verbal correlations between Ho-

sea 12 and the Genesis account, see Fishbane, Biblical Interpretation, 378.

16 W. L. Holladay, "Chiasmus, The Key to Hosea XII 3-6," VT 16 (1956) 56; S. L.

McKenzie, "The Jacob Tradition in Hosea xii 4-5," VT 36 (1986) 314-16; and Kaiser,

"Inner Biblical Exegesis; 40. See Kaiser's helpful charts on 40-41 for a comparison of

the Hosea and Genesis accounts.

17 Eslinger, "Hosea 12:5a and Genesis 32:29," 94-95.

18 D. Kimchi, Miqra'ot Gedalot, 5 vols. (Jerusalem: Eshkol, 1976) 4. 300a (in He-

brew); Kaiser, "Inner Biblical Exegesis," 44-45; McKenzie, "The Jacob Tradition; 317;

and Fishbane, Biblical Interpretation 376-377, 422-23, 426.

19 Holladay, "Chiasmus; 63.



to bring upon the nation. God tells the prophet the reason he is to name

the third child Lo-Ammi is because "you are not my people, and I am

not your god," Mk,lA hy,h;x, xlo ykinoxAv; (we'anoki lo' 'ehyeh, 1:9). The state-

ment is clearly a reversal of God's declaration of what was to com-

mence in a special way at the Exodus: "I will take you as my own

people, and I will be your God," Myhiloxle Mk,lA ytyyihAv; (wehayiti lakem

le'lohim, Exod 6:7).20 More precisely, the last phrase in Hos 1:9,

Mk,lA hy,h;x, xlo, "I am not your people," is a wordplay21 on Exod 3:14

where God discloses his name to Moses in commissioning Moses to be

his emissary before Pharaoh. The negation of the phrase in Hosea in-

dicates that Israel's special relationship with God has been abrogated.

Stuart explains the Hosean reference in light of Exod 3:14:


Yahweh himself refers here to the first person form of the name, harking

back to the ancient original use of the first person from Exod 3:14. Why?

Because the first person form was that associated with the tradition of

initiation of the covenant. Yahweh was withdrawing the very covenant he

so dramatically initiated via the revelation of his name and is using the

same form of the name he used to Moses.22


The meaning of the name implied that upon his deliverance of the

Israelites at the Exodus God would henceforth preside with the Israel-

ites. Hosea's negating of the name, however, indicated that the Israel-

ites' rebellion against God will bring this special relationship to an end.

Sanchez-Centina illustrates the significance of the phrase in his trans-

lation: "I am not I-AM for you."23

Explicit references to the Exodus deliverance include Hos 2:15,

(MT=17); 12:9, (MT=10), 13, (MT=14); 13:4; and possibly 11:1.24 Pas-

sages such as Hos 12:9 and 13:4 include the phrase "I am the Lord thy

God from the land of Egypt" and thus clearly allude to the Exodus.

Other passages such as Hos 8:13; 9:3; and 11:5 assume the Exodus or

at least Israel's enslavement in Egypt as these passages threaten a re-


20 The statement expresses the essence of the covenant relationship. G. Von Hans-

Jurgen Zobel, "Hosea und das Deuteronomium," TLZ 110 (1985) 16.

21 Andersen-Freedman, Hosea, 197-99; F: C. Fensham, "The Marriage Metaphor in

Hosea," JNSL 12 (1984) 76.

22 D Stuart, Hosea-Jonah (Waco: Word, 1987) 33. Hartom and Cassuto also recog-

nize that many maintain this formula in Hosea to be a reference to the account of Exo-

dus 3. A S. Hartom and M D Cassuto, "Minor Prophets," in Torah, Prophets, Writing

(Jerusalem: Yavneh Publishing House, 1973) 10 (in Hebrew).

23 E. Sanchez-Centina, "Hermeneutics and Context: The Exodus," in Conflict and

Context: Hermeneutics in the Americas, eds. M. L. Branson and C. R Padilla (Grand

Rapids: Eerdmans, 1983) 170. Similarly, Bullock, Prophetic Books, 99.

24 See McKenzie, "Exodus Typology," 100-108.



turn to Egypt.25 Hoffman has noted well the significance of the abun-

dant reference to the Exodus-wanderings theme in the Book of Hosea

in reference to the hope motif in Hos 2:14-15 [MT=16-17]:


The new eternal covenant (ii 14-15), which is depicted using some escha-

tological motifs, is believed to begin with a renewal of the exodus events;

the wandering in the desert and the possession of the good land "like the

days of her youth and as in the day when she came up out of the land of

Egypt" (ii 15) are preconditions for the renewal of the covenant between

God and his people. Hosea considered the historical exodus a constitutive

event upon which the covenant was established in the past, and without

which no future renewal of the covenant, after it has been nullified by the

people, is possible. Thus the exodus is considered here a typological event,

rather than a mere unique historical one.26


The numerous references to the Exodus in the Book of Hosea indicate

that for Israel to be God's people again and for Yahweh to become

"God-for-them" (Exod 3:14) a new exodus would have to take place.

The nation, on the other hand, would have to "go back to the wilder-

ness, to reject Baal and all divine-political powers (Israel's lovers), and

commit itself once more to Yahweh."27

An additional reference to the period of wilderness wanderings in

Hosea occurs in the reference to the Israelites "devoting themselves to

shame" at Baal-Peor (Hos 9:10 from Num 25:1-5). The shameful ac-

tions of the nation on that occasion involved fornication with the Mo-

abite women which led to idolatry. This act of infidelity is to be

contrasted with God's gracious action toward the Israelites (Hos 9:10)

in sovereignly choosing them for himself. As in the case in the wilder-

ness they now have an obligation to covenant faithfulness in response

to God's gracious work on the nation's behalf.28 And yet, then as now,

they, like their ancestors before them, are failing to uphold and honor

the covenant commands. Stuart comments on the significance of Ho-

sea's use of the Baal-Peor reference in Hosea 9: "The Baal-Peor incident

represented a rejection of Yahwism in favor of idolatrous Baal worship,

accompanied by marriage infidelity, in defiance of the Sinai covenant.

This automatically broke the covenant with Yahweh (Exod 23:32-33;


25 See Y. Hoffman, "A North Israelite Typological Myth and a Judean Historical

Tradition: The Exodus in Hosea and Amos," VT 39 (1989) 170-73; J. Day, "Prophecy; in

It is Written: Scripture Citing Scripture. Essays in Honour of Barnabas Lindars, SSF;

eds. D. A Carson and H. G. M. Williamson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,

1988) 46; and Sanchez-Centina, "Hermeneutics and Context." 170.

26 Hoffman "The Exodus in Hosea and Amos; 171.

27 Sanchez-Centina, "Hermeneutics and Context," 170.

28 Daniels, Hosea and Salvation, 69-70. See also Fishbane, Biblical Interpreta-

tion, 398.



Deut 17:2, etc.) as the golden bull incident of Exod 32 almost did."29

Moreover, the reference to this incident may also function as a warning

to Israel. Just as the sin at Baal-Peor brought on a display of God's

wrath, the Israelites of Hosea's day can expect the same.30

Thus the Exodus-Wanderings motif serves as a model or type for

God's dealing with the Israelites in the future, whether for discipline

or deliverance. We now turn to three additional illustrations of Hosea's

use of narrative texts from Joshua, Judges, and Kings.



In Hosea 2 we have noted how the prophet turns from oracles of

judgement upon the nation of Israel to a promise of future deliverance

and the establishment of a new covenant. Within this promise oracle

we read how the Lord promises to restore the nation by bringing her

into the wilderness and promises to give her vineyards and the "valley

of Achor" as a valley of hope (Hos 2:14-15 [MT=16-17]). The phrase

"valley of Achor" (2:15 [17]) is undoubtedly a reference to Joshua 7 as

the location of the punishment of Achan's sin. Achan's transgression in-

volved taking the material goods from Jericho which God had placed

under the ban. This type of hubris Hosea announces will not happen

under the new covenant as the nation will be characterized by obedi-

ence through the enablement given her by God. This is indicated by

the transformation of this very Valley of Achor, formerly the place best

known for the location of Israel's high-handed disobedience, into a

"door of hope" (hvAq;Ti Htap,l;, lepetah tiqwa).31 The change of names sug-

gests the renewal of the covenant.32 Andersen and Freedman further

comment on the broader significance of Hosea's use of the canonical

events in Hos 2:14-15 [16-17]: "Yahweh has in mind nothing less than

a recapitulatio of the Exodus, Wandering and Settlement. The refer-

ences to 'the land of Egypt' and 'the Valley of Achor' in v 17 suggest the

time span, though they appear in reverse historical order."33



Another reference to an earlier biblical narrative passage is the

mentioning of "the days of Gibeah" in Hos 9:8.34 The citation of the


29 Stuart, Hosea-Jonah, 151.

30 Chisholm, The Minor Prophets, 40.

31 See Fishbane, Biblical Interpretation, 361; and Daniels, Hosea and Salvation,


32 W. A VanGemeren, Interpreting the Prophetic Word (Grand Rapids: Zondervan,

1990) 118.

33 Andersen and Freedman, Hosea, 269.

34 The phrase also occurs in Hos 10:9.



phrase is for the purpose of establishing a comparison between Ho-

sea's day with the wickedness of the period of the Judges. The phrase

"days of Gibeah" is a reference to the rape of the Levite's concubine

which led to her death (Judges 19).35 The treacherous deed remained

in the memory of the people as a premier example of a deed of deca-

dence.36 The fact that the people of Hosea's day have committed sins

comparable to this atrocious event in Israel's past indicates the depth

of depravity to which the nation had sunk.37 The fact that this atro-

cious event almost led to the annihilation of one of the Israelite tribes

may also serve as a warning of the extreme consequences Israel will

soon face for its apostasy.38



Another clear reference to an OT narrative text is found in Hos 1:4

in connection with the explanation for Hosea's naming his first son

Jezreel. The stated reason for this name is that God "will soon punish

the house of Jehu for the massacre of Jezreel." The king of Israel during

Hosea's time was Jeroboam II (Hos 1:1) of the dynasty of Jehu. The dy-

nasty had been established at Jezreel by the overthrow of Joram. Simi-

lar to the example above regarding the "Valley of Achor," Hosea refers

to a location to evoke the memory of the deed with which the location

became associated.39 The events of Jezreel to which Hosea alludes are

recorded in such passages as 1 Kgs 19:16-17, and 2 Kgs 9:14-37.40

In conclusion, we have clearly observed that the prophet Hosea

in the eighth century B.C. was well acquainted with earlier biblical

narratives of Israel's history. We will next address the legal passages

with which Hosea was familiar. As Hebrew legal texts are recorded in

narrative contexts, it is proper that we been with the Decalogue,

which not only begins with the historical prologue referring to God's


35 This interpretation is advocated by Jewish Medieval commentators such as Ibn

Ezra and D. Kimchi. See Miqra'ot Gedalot 4. 296b.

36 Hartom and Cassuto, Minor Prophets, 29.

37 M. H. Segal, Introduction to the Bible, 2 vols. (Jerusalem: Kiryat-Sepher, 1977)

1. 447 (in Hebrew).

38 See Andersen and Freedman, Hosea, 535.

39 Similarly, Gilgal and Bethel, associated with the occupation of the land in Is-

rael's early history, are mentioned in conjunction with the sinfulness of the nation

which will result in being expelled from the land. See Chisholm, Minor Prophets, 31.

40 Kaufmann believes the reference to bloodshed should be specifically under-

stood as referring to the bloodshed of Naboth by Ahab. This sin includes the sin of idol-

atry. Kaufmann, Toledot, 6-7, 98; and Segal, Introduction, 1. 451. Similarly, see Andersen

and Freedman, Hosea, 176. Another reference to an OT narrative may be in Hos 13:10

in reference to the Israelites request for a king in 1 Samuel 8. E.g., see VanGemeren,

Prophetic Word, 115.



delivering the nation from slavery in Egypt but also occurs at the be-

ginning of the legal tradition.41


Hosea's Use of Legal Texts


It is abundantly clear that Hosea and his audience were aware of

the existence and authority of the written law. This impression is dis-

cernible in such statements as: "because the people have broken my

covenant and rebelled against 'my law'" (ytirAOT, torati [8:1]), and "I

wrote for them the many things of 'my law' (ytirAOT), but they regarded

them as something alien" [8:12]). The existence of written law is also

presumed in Hos 4:6: "Because you have rejected knowledge, I also re-

ject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God

(j~yh,lox< traOT, torat 'eloheyka), I also will ignore your children."42


Laws from Exodus and Leviticus

But Hosea cites explicit commands of the Mosaic law. Most nota-

ble is the citation of and allusion to the Decalogue.43 For example, vi-

olation of the second commandment44 is assumed in the context of the

most distinctive component of the Book of Hosea, that of Hosea's mar-

riage to Gomer, an adulterous woman (Hos 1:2). This marriage depicts

Israel's unfaithfulness to Yahweh. The whole point of the lesson is

without meaning unless it is understood that idolatry is a violation of

prescribed law. As Sanchez-Centina has well stated: "In fact, we could

regard Hosea as a long commentary on the prologue and the first two

words of the Decalogue. . . . It is beyond question that the second com-

mandment receives its deepest force in Hosea's ministry."45 A passage


41 In Hos 12:9 and 13:4 the phrase "I am the Lord your God from the land of Egypt"

alludes to the narrative of Exodus but also reiterates the language of the prologue of the

Ten Commandments. The Exodus event should be viewed as the "starting point of the

covenant between Yahweh and Israel." See Hoffman, "The Exodus in Hosea and Amos,"


42 Segal, Introduction, 1. 447; and Kaufmann, Toledot, 6-7. 112-13.

43 One could also mention in this context the prologue of the "Ten Words" which fo-

cuses on the action of the LORD bringing the nation out of Egypt. This was discussed in

the previous section on Hosea's use of narrative texts in reference to Hosea's mentioning

of the Exodus event. We see the prologue statement specifically in Hos 12:10 and 13:4.

See Meir Weiss, "The Decalogue in Prophetic Literature," in The Ten Commandments in

History and Tradition, ed. Ben-Zion Segal (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1990) 72-73; and

Sanchez-Centina, "Hermeneutics and Context," 170.

44 Or the first commandment if Exod 20:2-6 is understood as one commandment.

For discussion of the different traditions of enumerating the Ten Commandments, see

J. H. Sailhamer, The Pentateuch as Narrative (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992) 283-87,

esp. 283.

45 Sanchez-Centina, "Hermeneutics and Context," 169-70.



that not only assumes that idolatry is a clear transgression of law, but

also contains an explicit reference to the Decalogue, is Hos 3:1: "The

LORD said to me, 'Go, show your love to your wife again, though she

is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the LORD loves

the Israelites, though they "turn to other gods" (MyriHexE Myhilox<-lx, MyniP,

ponim 'el-'elohim 'aherim) and love the sacred raisin cakes.'" The use

of the phrase "other gods" in Hos 3:1 instead of the expected "Baal" or

"Baals" is to align the violation with the expressed commandment

"have no other gods" (Exod 20:3), and would have been thus under-

stood by the audience.46

The most extended reference to the Decalogue in Hosea surely

comes from Hos 4:2. Here the prophet refers to the sins of the northern

Kingdom through a serial listing of several of the Ten Commandments.

These transgressions include lying (wHeKa, kahes),47 murder (sixth com-

mandment), stealing (eighth commandment), and adultery (seventh

commandment).48 Other passages in Hosea which refer to a violation of

one or more of the Ten Commandments include Hos 6:9 (murder), Hos

7:1 (false witness and stealing), and Hos 7:4 (adultery).

In other Hosean contexts we may assume that legal texts from

Exodus and Leviticus form the background for Hosea's statements and

are thus assumed authoritative by the prophet and his audience. In

Hos 1:2-9, as we have observed, God commands the prophet to take a

harlot as his wife to emblematize and to evince the spiritual harlotry

of the Israelites. It may be presumed that a legal text such as Exod

34:15-16 is understood to be the logical background which evokes the

extreme measure. The passage reads: "Be careful not to make a treaty

with those who live in the land; for when they prostitute themselves

to their god and sacrifice to them, they will invite you and you will eat

their sacrifices. And when you choose some of their daughters as wives

for your sons and those daughters prostitute themselves to their god,

they will lead your sons to do the same.'" The key word, "to prostitute'"

(hnAzA, zana), is used three times in this passage to describe the character

of Israel's offense which results from an alliance with the pagan

Canaanites.49 The word is used metaphorically to indicate Israel's

covenant disloyalty to Yahweh in violation of the first commandment.


46 Weiss, "The Decalogue," 72-73.

47 This is explicitly banned in Lev 19:11. Some suggest the phrase to be equivalent

to "bearing false witness." See Deroche, "The Reversal," 402.

48 The deviation of order is to be explained as an illustration of accepted literary

license. Thus Weiss, "The Decalogue," 68. Day sees five commandments mentioned here

("Prophecy," 39). Stuart sees six infractions (Hosea- Jonah, 75-76).

49 Fensham, "The Marriage Metaphor," 76. "Prostitution" is also the term used to re-

fer to a violation of a treaty agreement among nations. See Stuart, Hosea-Jonah, 27.



Hosea's teaching on the nation's spiritual adultery is clearly dependent

upon such a concept.

In addition, it is also possible that Lev 19:29, which contains a

prohibition forbidding the Israelites' daughters from falling into har-

lotry, lies behind the reference to the land being guilty of adultery

(Hos 1:2). If harlotry is committed by the Israelites, the land will "fall

into prostitution" and be filled with wickedness according to Lev

19:29. Thus Hosea's notion that the commission of adultery by Israel

results in the land being guilty of adultery (Cr,xAhA hn,z;Ti hnozA yKi, ki zanoh

tizneh ha'ares [Hos 1:2]) is a concept clearly borrowed from Lev 19:29

(Cr,xAhA hn,z;ti xlov;, welo' tizneh ha'ares).50


Hosea's Use of Deuteronomy


Hosea appears to be aware of the book of Deuteronomy in its en-

tirety. This awareness may be demonstrated not only through the com-

mon themes prevalent in each work but also by the borrowing of

technical legal phraseology on the part of Hosea. John Day has noted

a number of the parallel themes, including the condemnation of the

syncretistic worship on the high places (Deut 12:2; Hos 4:13), idols

being crafted by men's hands (Deut 4:28; Hos 14:3 [MT=4]), the love

of Yahweh being the motive for bringing the people out of Egypt (Deut

7:7-8; Hos 11:1), the people of Israel as the son(s) of God (Deut 14:1;

Hos 11:1), and the reference to Moses as God's prophet (Deut 18:15, 18;

Hos 12:13 [MT=14]).51 To these may be added the concept of Israel's

covenant relationship with God and the return to the promised land

motif (Deut 30:1-10; Hos 14:1-4 [MT=2-5]).52

Perhaps more striking than these conceptual parallels are the

specific technical expressions of Hosea which were used in Deuter-

onomy. In Hos 2:2-13 [MT=4-15] we see Hosea describing his rela-

tionship with Gomer using the technical language of the Mosaic

legislation of divorce from Deut 24:1-4. Fishbane nicely explains Ho-

sea's use of Deut 24:1-4 in this passage:


50 For an excellent discussion of the concept of the land being guilty of adultery in

the context of Canaanite religion, see Wolff, Hosea, 15.

51 J. Day, "Pre-Deuteronomic Allusions to the Covenant in Hosea and Psalm lxxviii,"

VT 36 (1986) 8. See also E R McCurley, Jr., "The Home of Deuteronomy Revisited: A

Methodological Analysis of the Northern Theory," in A Light unto My Path: Old Testa-

ment Studies in Honor of Jacob M. Myers (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1976)

305; and M. Weinfeld, "The Emergence of the Deuteronomic Movement: The Historical

Antecedents," in Vas Deuteronomium; Entstehung, Gestalt und Botschaft, ed. N. Lohfink

(Leuven: University Press, 1985) 89.

52 Weinfeld, "The Emergency of the Deuteronomic Movement; 88.



Hosea speaks of a sexually promiscuous wife who follows (hklx) other

lovers and is divorced, but who subsequently decides to return (hkvwxv) to

her first husband (NOwxrh ywyx; cf. Nvwxrh...wyx, Deut 24:1, 4) who then

decides himself to return to her (bvwx) and to be reconciled in remarriage.

In addition, this legal theme is allegorized both in Jeremiah's discourse

and in Hos 2:4-15 [2-13] in terms of God's relationship to apostate Israel

who follows the Canaanite gods, and in both texts marriage and sexual

promiscuity are metonyms for the covenantal bond and infidelity.53

Another example of Hosea's use of Deuteronomy is illustrated in

Hos 5:15-6:1 where the prophet borrows the language from Deut

4:29-30. The text from Hosea reads: then I will go back to my place

until they admit their guilt. And they will seek my face; in their misery

(Mh,lA rc.aBa, bassar lahem) they will earnestly seek me." This is clearly

based on the Deuteronomy passage: "But if from there you seek the LORD your

God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your

soul. When you are in distress (Mh,lA rcaBa) and all these things have happened to

you, then in later days you will return to the LORD your God and obey him."54

A final example of Hosea's borrowing of technical Deuteronomic

terminology comes in Hos 9:3- 4. Once again Fishbane notes Hosea's de-

pendence on Deut 26:14 and other Pentateuchal laws:

The ideological background of Hos 9:4 may be approximately stated on

the basis of known Pentateuchal sources and ideas. Thus, in connection

with an old law preserved in Deut 26:14, a celebrant, upon bringing his

tithe to the shrine, declares that he has neither eaten of it when in

mourning (ynxb), nor disposed of it while impure, nor donated it to the

dead: for such would have defiled the new grain. In this regard, one may

recall that in the Holiness Code priests are prohibited the use of sancta

(which include tithes) when they are in a state of defilement (Lev 22:3-

16); and, comparably, Num 19:11, 14-16 indicates that everything in an

Israelite mourner's tent is impure, as well as anyone who comes into

it. ...The force of this analogical argument, and his use of the technical

term Mynvx, suggests that the people will be defiled by the food that they

will eat in exile. In a word, because of the ritual aberrations, the exis-

tence of the people of Ephraim in Egypt and Assyria will be comparable

to that of contaminated mourners.

In this manner, the prophet Hosea has exegetically reinterpreted Is-

rael's life in exile in terms of mourners' food. The textual transformation

is aggadic. For Hosea has not in any way reinterpreted the particular laws

of mourners' food. Nor was that the intent. As in Hag 2:11-14, the aggadic

rhetoric in Hos 9:4 does not exist for the sake of the priestly law, that is,


53 Fishbane, Biblical Interpretation, 311.

54 See M Weinfeld, "The Emergence of the Deuteronomic Movement; 88; and

Stuart, Hosea-Jonah, 106.



for the sake of its legal exegesis. Rather, the aggadic exegesis exists solely

for its own rhetorical sake, and the law functions as the particular occa-

sion for the rhetorical-exegetical enterprise which results, not more.55


Other examples of Hosea's borrowing of language from Deuter-

onomy include the occurrence of the phrase lxerAW;y yneB; rPas;mi. This

phrase is cited in Deut 32:8 in reference to the number of the Israel-

ites in relation to the other nations in Hos 1:10 [MT=2:1],56 the refer-

ence to the Israelites being gathered (CBaq;ni, niqbas) in Hos 1:11

[MT =2:2] from Deut 30:3, the sin of "turning" to other gods (Mynip

MyriHexE Myhilox<-lx,) in Hos 3:1 from Deut 31:18, 20, the forbidden prac-

tice of moving boundary stones (lvbg ygysmk) in Hos 5:10 from Deut

27:17, the reference of returning from exile (tUbw;, sebut) in Hos 6:11

from Deut 30:3,57 the use of enemies "pursuing" (Jdr) the Israelites in

Deut 30:7 in Hos 8:3,58 the prohibition against making idols according

to the pattern in Hos 13:2 from Deut 4:16-18,59 the use of the identical

verbs (Hkw / fbW skh / sb') expressing the idea of eating to one's fill

and forgetting about God in Hos 13:6 from Deut 8:12-14,60 and the

Deuteronomic expression forbidding the worship of idols in Hos 14:8

[MT=9] and Deut 29:16-28.61


Cursings and Blessings (Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 28)

A section of Mosaic law from which the Israelite prophets

drew heavily is the promised cursings and blessings in Leviticus

26 and Deuteronomy 28.62 Hosea, in particular, made frequent refer-

ence to the cursings of the Mosaic Code.63 Franklyn has nicely broken

down the order of the many references of the Leviticus 26 cursings in


5:2b //26:18,28 (the guilty will be chastised)

4:5,5:5b //26:37 (the unfaithful will stumble)

11:6,13:16 //26:25 (the vengeful sword will destroy)


55 Fishbane, Biblical Interpretation, 299-300. Cassuto and Hartom (Minor Proph-

ets, 28) note that the passage is based on the prohibition expressed in Deut 24:16.

56 See W Kuhigk, Nordwestsemitische Studien Zum Hoseabuch (Rome: Biblical

Institute Press) 36.

57 McComiskey, "Hosea," 100.

58 Ibid, 121. This occurs also in Lev 26:36. See below.

59 P. N. Franklyn, "Oracular Cursing in Hosea 13," HAR 11 (1987) 78.

60 Weinfeld, "The Emergence of the Deuteronomic Movement," 89. Stuart (Hosea-

Jonah, 204) maintains that the verse also reflects Deut 31:2.

61 For the latter reference, see McComiskey, "Hosea," 236.

62 See Stuart, Hosea-Jonah, xxxiii-xlii, for the types of covenant curses and bless-

ing from Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 found in prophetic literature.

63 Kaufmann, Toledot, 6-7. 106.

64 Franklyn, "Oracular Cursing," 73.



5:14,13:7-8 //26:22 (the wild animals will ravage)

4:10,13:6 //26:26 (the food will not satisfy)

To these should be added the following list of curses from Leviticus

26 and Deuteronomy 28:

8:3 // Lev 26:36 (the use of the enemy pursing)

9:11,16 // Deut 28:18 (the barrenness of the womb)

9:17 // Deut 28:40, 64 (the wandering of the nation)

8: 1 // Deut 28:49 (the reference to rw,n,, neser)

8:3 // Deut 28:25, 31, 48, 53, 55, 57, 68 (falling to the enemy)65

9: 15-17 // Deut 28:62-64 (diminution of the population)66




It should be apparent that the prophet Hosea in delivering his mes-

sage to the Northern Kingdom of Israel in the eighth century B.C. made

frequent reference to earlier biblical texts which we know to be part

of OT Scripture. In addressing the Northern Kingdom, Hosea pointed

out that the nation was guilty of breaking various laws which involve

violation of one's relationship to God and violation of one's relationship

to his fellow man. They had indeed breached the covenant, having bro-

ken God's law, and could justly expect God's judgment. This frequent

reference to the Mosaic law illustrates Hosea's familiarity with the Mo-

saic tradition.67 Stuart may in fact be correct when he states that "there

is no passage in the book that does not have the Mosaic scriptures as its

basis."68 Given the fact that the prophet cites the earlier tradition as

having authority, we may be confident in assuming that the literature

had long been accepted as canonical as it would take time for writings

to take on an elevated theological status.69

Yet Hosea, in using the previously written canonical passages,

does not only quote the law as a warning of coming judgment. Hosea,

as most of the writing prophets, also offers hope to the nation. In

doing so he again bases his understanding on the canon of revealed


65 McComiskey, "Hosea," 121.

66 Both passages not only refer to the diminution of the populace but also employ

the word fmw to express the admonition for obedience. McComiskey, "Hosea," 157.

67 Fensham, "The Marriage Metaphor," 76.

68 D. Stuart, "The Old Testament Prophets' Self Understanding of Their Prophecy,"

Themelios 6 (1980/1981) 11.

69 It makes more sense to understand Hosea referring to established legal tradition

in calling the nation back to obedience than in accepting critical scholarship which would

view much of the canon and particularly the Pentateuch as coming from a later time. Note

the circular reasoning of those who assume that Deuteronomy, for example, must have

borrowed from Hosea. See Hoffman, "The Exodus in Hosea and Amos," 170-73.



Scripture.70 It perhaps should be mentioned that the Hoseanic escha-

tological texts have as their background covenantal promises made to

Israel by the Patriarchs. The promises made to Israel in Israel's cove-

nants were the basis for the confidence of future blessings.71 The new

Exodus and the new Creation particularly are motifs Hosea evokes to

signify Israel's covenant renewal and restoration.72 The restoration

of the nation will only be accomplished by divine sovereignty, an

attribute of God pre-eminently displayed in the Creation and in the

Exodus. Whereas, on the one hand the prophet refers to the Law to

cite violation of the covenant, on the other hand he refers to God's gra-

cious acts like the Creation and the Exodus as a basis of hope for the

future of the nation.73 As God had worked in Israel's behalf in the

past, thus he would do in like manner in the future.

The Hosean citations from previously written Scripture indicate

that the texts were already accepted by the Jews as canonical Scripture

in the eighth century B.C. and were thus binding on the Israelite's every-

day life. Moreover, the reference to these texts and themes demon-

strates the prophet's use of preexisting Scripture, whether warning of

judgment or assurance of salvation. Hosea's use of the OT serves as a

forerunner to the manner in which his Jewish descendants in the Dead

Sea Scrolls and in the NT understood the fulfillment of OT Scripture.


70 The future salvation of Israel is a hope based on the covenant between Yahweh

and Israel that gave birth to the people of God and to its aspirations for the future. E. H.

Maly, "Messianism in Osee," CBQ 19 (1957) 213.

71 Ibid.

72 VanGemeren, Prophetic Word, 115, 118.

73 Similarly, see McKenzie, "Exodus Typology," 100-101.



This material is cited with gracious permission from:

The Criswell College

4010 Gaston Ave.

Dallas, TX 75246

Please report any errors to Ted Hildebrandt at: