These were all key passages related to the overthrow of Israel. The book of Hosea provides an example of how God often asked his prophets to offer an object lesson to God’s people directly through some event in their own life (like Isaiah’s children mentioned last week). God specifically told Hosea to marry a prostitute, knowing full well that she would continue her promiscuity.
When the LORD first spoke through Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the LORD. (Hosea 1:2)
They had children, naming them according to God’s commands, as names representing what God was about to do to the nation. Gomer (Hosea’s wife) ran off to ply her trade again and God told Hosea to go and redeem (purchase) her back and bring her home. These were all intended to illustrate how God was going to deal with his wayward, promiscuous bride (the idol-worshipping nation of Israel). God would send them away to their “lovers” for a time and then redeem them and bring them back to live with him.
Micah, wrote regarding both Israel and Judah. In Micah 1:5-7, 15-16, he identifies the reason that Israel is going to be punished by God.
All this is for the transgression of Jacob and for the sins of the house of Israel. What is the transgression of Jacob? Is it not Samaria? And what is the high place of Judah? Is it not Jerusalem? Therefore I will make Samaria a heap in the open country, a place for planting vineyards, and I will pour down her stones into the valley and uncover her foundations. All her carved images shall be beaten to pieces, all her wages shall be burned with fire, and all her idols I will lay waste, for from the fee of a prostitute she gathered them, and to the fee of a prostitute they shall return…. I will again bring a conqueror to you, inhabitants of Mareshah; the glory of Israel shall come to Adullam. Make yourselves bald and cut off your hair, for the children of your delight; make yourselves as bald as the eagle, for they shall go from you into exile.
The transgression identified here is Samaria. Samaria represents the seat of government and worship in Israel and ties back to both Jeroboam and Ahab. Jeroboam was the king immediately following Solomon who took the 10 tribes of Israel and set up idols for them to worship instead of returning to Jerusalem to worship God, as God had prescribed. Ahab, a later king, then established the city of Samaria (built by his father Omri) as the palace and seat of worship in Israel. Micah prophesied that the children of the current inhabitants of Israel would be carried off into exile.
2 Kings 17:6-13, 24 describes the defeat and exile of Israel.
In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria, and he carried the Israelites away to Assyria and placed them in Halah, and on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes. And this occurred because the people of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods and walked in the customs of the nations whom the LORD drove out before the people of Israel, and in the customs that the kings of Israel had practiced. And the people of Israel did secretly against the LORD their God things that were not right. They built for themselves high places in all their towns, from watchtower to fortified city. They set up for themselves pillars and Asherim on every high hill and under every green tree, and there they made offerings on all the high places, as the nations did whom the LORD carried away before them. And they did wicked things, provoking the LORD to anger, and they served idols, of which the LORD had said to them, “You shall not do this.” Yet the LORD warned Israel and Judah by every prophet and every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways and keep my commandments and my statutes, in accordance with all the Law that I commanded your fathers, and that I sent to you by my servants the prophets.” …. And the king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the people of Israel. And they took possession of Samaria and lived in its cities.
As a side note, I’ll pick this story back up again around October, when we look at the discussion Jesus had with the Samaritan woman and Jesus’ parable of the good Samaritan. In Jesus’ day, Samaritan’s were viewed as outcasts because they represent a mixed race of Israel and Gentiles, harking back to the resettlement of Samaria by the king of Assyria.
The last thing that happened in this week’s readings after the exile of Israel was the beginning of the reign of Hezekiah in Judah. I’ll write about Hezekiah in next week’s blog.