THE BIBLE CONSISTENT 4
126, 2009 May)
Bible critics claim that the book of Hosea and New Testament reference
to it, has the following errors:
Hosea married a prostitute, which contravened the
Law of Moses;
Hosea condemns Jehu for "the blood of Jezreel",
contradicting II Kings where the massacre is approved;
Israelites would return to Egypt — but didn't;
Israelites would worship God again but didn't;
New Testament quotes Hosea 11:1 out of context.
Let us investigate:
After King Solomon died, Israel's twelve tribes split into two kingdoms
— Israel the northern kingdom and Judah the southern. Israel's capital
was Samaria, and Judah's Jerusalem.
Hosea was a prophet in the northern kingdom in the reigns of Kings
Uzziah to Hezekiah. (Hosea 1:1) (See Table 2) Hosea's ministry lasted
approximately 755-715 BC
Israel, at the time, was full of adultery, thievery and bloodshed.
(9:9) Its religion was as evil as prostitution (4:1-15; 7:2) and
centred on calf-idols (8:5-6) set up 150 years earlier. (I Kings
Therefore the country's destruction was imminent:
The roar of
battle will rise against your people, so that all your
fortresses will be devastated — as Shalman devastated Beth Arbel on the
day of battle, when mothers were dashed to the ground with their
"Shalman" is Shalmanezer (King of Assyria) who attacked Gilead (east
Israel) around 740 BC and destroyed the town of Beth Arbel. Hosea is
saying this was a foretaste of what's coming.
National destruction did come in 722 BC; Assyria conquered Israel and
deported the population. (II Kings 17:1-23)
Judah was guilty too. Judah tolerated the same evils as Israel and
would also be destroyed. (4:15; 5:5, 10-14; 6:4, 11; 8:14)
RETURN TO EGYPT
Critics query 8:13-9:3 that Israel (also called "Ephraim") would
"return to Egypt". Assyria exiled the Israelites to Mesopotamia, not to
The answer is both: "Even if they escape from destruction, Egypt will
gather them..." (9:3, 6) What happened is many Israelites fled to Judah
and integrated with the Jews. When Judah was destroyed in 586 BC the
survivors moved to Egypt. (II Kings 25:26)
Of the Israelites in Mesopotamia some probably went to Egypt as
soldiers and camp-followers around 670 BC when Assyria conquered Egypt.
Besides predicting the near future Hosea also predicted the distant
future when Israel is restored, in the following verses:
These distant predictions do not distinguish Israel from Judah because
both nations would reunite as one people:
The people of
Israel and the people of Judah will be gathered together,
and they will appoint for themselves one head… (1:11)
For the Israelites will live many days without a king or prince…
Afterward the Israelites will return and seek the LORD their God and
David their king. They will come trembing to the LORD and to his
blessings in the last days. (3:4)
"David their king" means a royal descendant of David. (2:14-23;
11:1-11) The New Testament genealogies show this person is Jesus.
"The last days" commenced (or had commenced) at Pentecost (Acts
2:14-17) fifty days after Jesus' crucifixion.
2 Kings of Israel & Judah
When the LORD
began to speak through Hosea, the LORD said to him, "Go,
take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness,
because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the
LORD." So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and
bore him a son. (1:2-3)
The Law of Moses forbade priests to marry prostitutes or divorcees.
(Leviticus 21:7) But Hosea was not a priest. Furthermore, Gomer became
"adulterous" after the marriage when she bore three "children of
unfaithfulness". Verse 2 was therefore a prediction Gomer would be
The Hosea/Gomer marriage pictured the relationship between Israel and
God. God is compared to a husband (2:19), Israel to a wife. As Gomer
betrayed Hosea by prostitution, so Israel betrayed God by worshipping
idols. (2:8,13; 4:12) The following words fit both Gomer and Israel:
Plead with your
mother, plead — for she is not my wife, and I am not
her husband. (2:2)
Hosea divorced Gomer and God "divorced" Israel.
Gomer, after the divorce, became a slave but Hosea later bought her
back. (3:1-2) Similarly God would take Israel back — eventually. (3:4;
Hosea foretold punishment for the "blood of Jezreel":
…for yet a
little while, and I will punish the house of Jehu for the
blood of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of
Israel. (Hosea 1:4)
Jezreel is the town where Jehu, a military commander, began
exterminating the royal "house" of Israel to make himself king. Whereas
Hosea condemns the massacre, II Kings 10:30 praises it:
And the LORD
said to Jehu, "Because you have done well in carrying out
what is right in my eyes, and have done to the house of Ahab according
to all that was in my heart, your sons of the fourth generation shall
sit on the throne of Israel."
Ahab was king prior to Jehu. The "contradiction" whereby Hosea condemns
but II Kings praises the "blood of Jezreel" has sparked much debate.
One commentator explains:
predicted that the family of Israel's King Ahab would be
destroyed because of their wickedness (I Kings 21:20-22) but Jehu went
too far in carrying out God's command (II Kings 10:1-11).
However, when Jehu was anointed to be Israel's next King he was told:
And you shall
strike down the house of Ahab your master…the whole house
of Ahab shall perish; and I will cut off from Ahab every male, bond or
free, in Israel. (II Kings 9:7-9)
If Jehu went "too far", then how so?
The "blood of Jezreel" does not mean at or in Jezreel because the
killing started near Jezreel and widened out. Here's a summary:
King Ahaziah (Judah) visits King Joram (Israel) at
Jezreel (II Kings 9:14-16);
Ahaziah and Joram ride out to meet Jehu and are
enters Jezreel and has Queen Jezebel killed
guardians of 70 of Joram's sons in Samaria
behead them and send the heads to Jezreel (10:1-10);
slays the rest of "the house of Ahab in
Jezreel, all his great men…familiar friends, and…priests…" (10:11);
Forty-two "kinsmen" of Ahaziah visiting Israel are
slaughtered between Jezreel and Samaria (10:12-14);
Samaria all of Ahab's remaining family killed
priests of Baal in Samaria killed. (10:18-27).
Notice Jehu not only wiped out the "house of Israel" but also much
the royal family of Judah — King Ahaziah and 42 "kinsmen".
Ahaziah's mother, Queen Athaliah, then extended the slaughter of
Judah's royal family to Jerusalem:
Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she
arose and destroyed all the royal family [of Judah]. (11:1)
Hosea 1:4 — "I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel"
— condemns the extermination of Judah's royal family that began near
That additional extermination threatened to discredit predictions that
David's dynasty would last forever. (II Samuel 7) And if David's
dynasty ended then the future Messiah (Christ) who would descend from
David could never come. Hosea himself stressed the importance of
David's lineage when predicting, "the Israelites shall return and
seek…David their king…" (3:4)
Fortunately one baby boy survived the slaughter and ascended Judah's
throne. (II Kings 11)
Another version of the "contradiction" is based on II Kings 10:29-31:
But Jehu did
not turn aside from the sins of Jeroboam…the golden calves
that were in Bethel and in Dan. The LORD said to Jehu, "Because you
have done well in carrying out what I consider right, and in accordance
with all that was in my heart have dealt with the house of Ahab, your
sons of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel."
But Jehu was not careful
to follow the law of the LORD the God of
Israel with all his heart; he did not turn from the sins of Jeroboam...
One critic argues:
…the praise of
Jehu in doing all that was right in Yahweh's sight in
the matter of the house of Ahab was sandwiched between two statements
that Jehu had done wrong by not abolishing the worship of the golden
If Yahweh had
considered that Jehu had "exceeded" his command…who
can believe that the writer of this text would not have taken notice of
However, 10:29-31 criticises what Jehu did wrong and right for Israel.
In that immediate context what he did wrong for Judah was not relevant.
That Jehu exceeded his instructions by killing David's lineage the
writer implied earlier:
promised to maintain a lamp for David and his descendants
forever. (II Kings 8:19)
A confounding factor in reconciling the "contradiction" is that the two
royal families were intertwined:
Omri — Ahab+Jezebel — Joram
Jehoshaphat — Jehoram+Athaliah — Ahaziah
(II Kings 3:1-2; 8:16-18;
King Ahaziah's mother, Athaliah, was a daughter of Ahab and a
granddaughter of Omri. (II Kings 8:25-27) Athaliah was not necessarily
Jezebel's daughter, however, since Ahab was a polygamist.
Ahaziah we're told, "…was son-in-law to the house of Ahab." (II Kings
Ahaziah was a grandson of Ahab but could be "son in law to the "house
of Ahab" if he:
Married a sister of his mother, making Ahab his
father in law;
Married a daughter of Joram making Joram his
father in law.
Neither marriage would put Ahaziah in the "house of Ahab" since his
wife would enter the "House of Judah". Also paternal descent (i.e.
Ahaziah from Jehoram and Jehoshaphat) is what counts not maternal
descent. When Jehu exterminated the "house of Ahab" he killed all males
not all females.
ARCHAEOLOGY and HISTORY
Most geographical locations and some characters in Hosea and II Kings
have archaeological confirmation:
David, Ahab and Joram are mentioned on the Tel Dan Stele discovered
1993/1994 in Israel. Shalmaneser is standard history. Omri is mentioned
on the Moabite Stone, Jehu on the Black Obelisk, and Jezebel is named
on a seal found in the 1960s.
The ten tribes of Israel vanished from history after Assyria deported
them. But before the deportation many Israelites fled to Judah and
integrated with the Jews. In that way the two peoples became one.
As mentioned previously a reunited Israel and Judah would serve "David"
in "the last days". "David" as determined from the genealogies in Luke
and Matthew turned out to be Jesus Christ.
Hosea 6:1-2 suggests Israel's return to God involves a 3-day period:
After two days
he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up,
that we may live before him.
The New Testament, as most people know, teaches salvation based on
three days when Jesus was crucified and resurrected.
The New Testament quotes or paraphrases (*) nine verses from Hosea:
9:25, 26; I Peter 2:10
23:30; Revelation 6:16
A problem is Hosea 11:1 — "When Israel was a child, I loved him, and
out of Egypt I called my son."
Matthew says Joseph and Mary took Jesus to Egypt and:
This was to
fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the
prophet, "Out of Egypt I have called my son." (Matthew 2:15)
this statement as a reference to the Israelite Exodus
from Egypt. If Matthew had not applied this statement to Jesus, no one
would have thought it referred to anything but the Israelite Exodus.
First, note that Matthew does not say "this fulfilled", but "this was
to fulfill" or "that it might be fulfilled". In other words Jesus
leaving Egypt was the start of the fulfillment of something bigger.
Second, we need to consider that Christianity has many parallels
to Old Testament history, including a "new covenant", a "heavenly
Jerusalem", a "prophet like Moses", a new "priesthood", etc. The New
Testament gives dozens of parallels. Matthew quotes 11:1 to indicate
that the Exodus too has a counterpart in Christianity. The Christian
"Exodus" begins with Jesus literally leaving Egypt, and continues when
people leave "Egypt" metaphorically by renouncing idolatry and other
evils and become Christians.
Third, Hosea mentions Israel's Exodus from Egypt and future return to
God, both events, several times. (Hosea 2:14-23; 11:1-11;
12:13/13:4/14:4) By quoting 11:1 "Out of Egypt I called my son" Matthew
implies Israel's return to God had started, began with Jesus, and is
like a new Exodus.
The accusation that Matthew quoted out of context is due to skeptics
lacking background knowedge that Matthew assumes his readers have.
Every healthy infant can walk, but the biochemistry of how thoughts
move legs remains obscure despite centuries of science. The Bible too
is simple in essentials but also amazingly complex. It's as if the
Bible's author is a master logician who included lots of intricate
logic so that readers might recognize their limitations and learn
humility. The contradictions therefore are illusory, the Bible is
consistent, and the critics are wrong.