Hosea’s imagery

If you know anything about the prophet Hosea, it is that he married a prostitute (I blogged about that a year ago). His marriage to an unfaithful woman was to be a picture of Yahweh’s covenant relationship with an unfaithful people. I once heard Os Guinness say that in the Bible, the more open the recipients were to the message, the more direct it was (and vice versa). So whereas Moses talked to God face-to-face, the prophets spoke of locusts and lions (Joel and Amos respectively) and Jesus spoke in parables (Matthew 13:10-15).

In addition to the main Israel-as-prostitute image, Hosea paints lots of other vivid pictures to describe the relationship between Yahweh and His people, which I tried to reproduce in story form. I’m not sure if I succeeded, but take a look below (readers on RSS may have to click through to the post to enjoy WordPress’s fantastic new photo carousel feature):

Two observations:

  • Much of the imagery used derives from flora and fauna, natural phenomena (mist, rain) and human relationships. Hosea’s original audience could easily relate to all of these.
  • I didn’t expect the intensity of the savage beast imagery used of God. Especially since He was talking to His own people, not some godless pagans with no prior divine revelation.



Since getting text from images can be a little tricky, here are the scripture references (I didn’t use all of them in the panels):

The prophet’s past: Israel was like…
9:10 Grapes in the desert or early figs
10:1 A lush vine bearing fruit
The prophet’s present: Israel and her leaders are like…
4:16 A stubborn heifer
5:1 A snare and a net
5:10 Those who move boundary stones (Deut 19:14)
6:4 Morning mist, early dew
6:9 Marauders lying in ambush
7:4, 6-7 An oven
7:8 A flat cake not turned over
7:9 An old man who doesn’t know it
7:11 A senseless and easily deceived dove
7:16 A faulty bow
8:7 Those who sow wind and reap the whirlwind
8:8 A useless/discarded vessel
8:9 A wild donkey
9:16 A blighted plant, withered root, yields no fruit
10:11 A trained heifer
11:11 Birds, doves
12:1 One who feeds on the wind
13:13 A child refusing birth
The prophet’s future (judgement): Israel and her leaders will be like…
2:3 A desert, parched land
10:7 A twig floating on water
13:3 Morning mist, early dew, chaff, smoke
The prophet’s future (restoration): Israel will be like…
4:5 A blossoming lily, cedar of Lebanon
14:6 A splendid olive tree, fragrant (cedar of) Lebanon
14:7 Flourishing grain, blossoming vine, famous wine
The prophet’s view of God
5:12 A moth and rot
5:14 A lion
6:3 Rain
7:12 Bird hunter
11:1, 3 Parent
11:3 Healer
11:4 Caretaker
11:10 Lion
13:7 Lion, leopard
13:8 Bear robbed of her cubs, lion, wild beast
14:5 Dew
14:8 Evergreen cypress/pine/ juniper

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