January 28, 2011

Minor Prophets I: Whoring After Other Gods

Last year I went through a 150 posts that spanned the entire Old Testament but I did not go into depth in any one portion unless it had profound theological implications for the entire scope of the Bible or God's revelation/progressive revelation of his Son. That is about to change. I would like to delve into one of the more neglected portions of Scripture: The Minor Prophets. Hopefully the study I will do over the next few months will shed brighter light on an often misunderstood or misinterpreted area of the Old Testament.

So, what are the dates for the kings' reigns listed in Hosea 1:1 and why do we care? Come along an find out.

This is the superscription portion of Hosea. Like other prophetic books Hosea begins with a notation that anchors the ministry of the prophet in history. As was the case in most dating in the Bible it was done in terms of a king’s reign. Because of this it was usually easy to get a ball park estimate of when books were written or when characters within said books had their day in the light of history. As for the dates of reigns for specific kings in v.1 we must do a little hunting. The text is quite a-matter-of-fact but pinpointing a set of specific of dates proves evasive. Text referenced: (Myers 8, Chisholm 21). Dates varied by source.

Southern Kingdom-Kings of Judah (96 yr period/ Min: 27 overlap)

Reign of Uzziah (783-742 BC approx. our text is 792-740 BC)
Reign of Jotham (750-735 BC approx. our text is 750-731 BC)
Reign of Ahaz (735-715 BC approx. our text is 735-715 BC)
Reign of Hezekiah (715-687 BC approx. our text is 716-686 BC)

Northern Kingdom-King of Israel

Reign of Jeroboam II (793-753 BC)

We see a prophetic ministry for Hosea that was at least 27 years based on the latest and earliest reigns of the Kings of Judah. We should also note a case of quick succession of thrones in the south also as opposed to a rather solid single reign in the North. When we look specifically at the dates we can see a parallel in Scripture in another subscription: Isaiah’s:

The vision concerning Judah and Jerusalem that Isaiah son of Amoz saw during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. Isaiah 1:1

Hosea and Isaiah were contemporaries and their ministries overlapped. It is also worth noting that Jeroboam II was the last of the great kings of the north before the fall of the north in 721-720 B.C. that was comparable to Judean Kings and that is probably why he is the only king of the north mentioned and the end date of his reign stops 59 years premature of the southern kings (Myers 8). These dates are significant because Hosea was a prophet in the northern kingdom of Israel. So the prophecies that Hosea spoke and lived out were of pending judgment that waited “just around the corner” for Israel who had a idolatrous/adulterous relationship with polytheistic “gods”. In short: They were “whoring” or prostituting themselves to other gods.

Myers, Jacob Martin. "Introduction." The Book of Hosea ; The Book of Joel ; The Book of Amos ; The Book of Obadiah ; The Book of Jonah . Atlanta, GA: John Knox Press, 1978. 8. Print.


Don and Shelly said...

Andy, I'm glad that you're tackling this. Speaking just for myself, the prior teaching in this area has been anorexic at best. Looking forward to the next post.

Andy Pierson said...

I highly recommend getting the book:

Plowshares and Pruning Hooks by D. Brent Sandy

If folks intend to truly try to grasp the langauge, wordage, liguistics, imagery etc in the prophets. Otherwise people often come away from the prophets with the wrong ideas. We must always look for two things in any passage of Scripture. Man's fallen condition and we need to ask ourselves, "where is Jesus in this?"

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