Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏹️

Osee, Gomer and their children, engraving by Hans Holbein, 1547

Now when she had weaned Loruhamah, she conceived, and bare a son. Then said God, Call his name Loammi: for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God.
Hosea 1:8-9

As well as marrying an active prostitute who continues her trade well into the marriage, Hosea is instructed to name his children according to God's sense of justice and His desire to make known what is to occur. The names of the three children tell a story. Hosea and Gomer's first son is named Jezreel, which means scattered. This describes the break up of the kingdom into two parts.1 Their daughter is Lo-ruhamah, meaning 'no mercy' and the second son is named Lo-ammi, meaning 'not my people'. This is a message to the nation of Israel: because you scattered I offer no mercy, and you are no longer my people. Israel fell to Assyria some thirty years later.

Domestically, the prophesy of Israel's downfall would be uttered aloud each time Hosea or Gomer called their children to dinner. There is a dark humour to such a scenario, but it also reminds us that this is a teaching story. Hosea is writing of God and Israel through the metaphor of domesticity. God is the husband, Israel the wife, and the children are the inevitable victims, the collateral damage of the broken marriage.

Our own domestic arrangements can often reflect the societies we live in. Abusive husbands are a product of the patriarchy, where man is considered superior to woman; contempt in our relationships arises through a system we call democracy, where it is acceptable to insult and mock your opponent; and too often children, considered as products of a marriage, possessions of the parents, grow up with no autonomy to a life of anxiety and depression. Our homes may be a microcosm of the body politic.

1 Jezreel also refers to the valley of Jezreel, where the upstart king Jehu slaughtered all the descendants of Ahab, thus establishing the line that put the current king, Jeroboam II, on the throne, and dragged Israel down into the sinful, disobedient nation it was at the time of Hosea.