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HOSEA (c. 784-725 B.C.E.).

First of the minor prophets. He lived in the turbulent idolatrous northern Kingdom of Israel when it was at the height of its power under the rule of Jeroboam II. Hosea’s prophecies thunder against moral, religious, and political evils as offenses against God. He predicted the doom of Israel as punishment for its idol worship and social injustice. Yet he loved his people and saw visions of its restoration after the punishment. Then a reconciliation between Israel and God would come about, arising out of God’s love of Israel and all humanity. Hosea’s all-consuming ideal is love; in striking phrases he compares God to a loving father and faithful husband.

Hosea’s words (2:21-22) are recited by the observant Jew when he puts on his tefillin, or phylacteries, each morning. As he winds the thong of the hand phylactery three times around his middle finger, he pledges himself anew to the three-fold ideal first pronounced by Hosea.

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