The Word Biblical Commentary delivers the best in biblical scholarship, from the leading scholars of our day who share a commitment to Scripture as divine revelation. This series emphasizes a thorough analysis of textual, linguistic, structural, and theological evidence. The result is judicious and balanced insight into the meanings of the text in the framework of biblical theology. These widely acclaimed commentaries serve as exceptional resources for the professional theologian and instructor, the seminary or university student, the working minister, and everyone concerned with building theological understanding from a solid base of biblical scholarship.
Overview of Commentary Organization
- Introduction—covers issues pertaining to the whole book, including context, date, authorship, composition, interpretive issues, purpose, and theology.
- Each section of the commentary includes:
- Pericope Bibliography—a helpful resource containing the most important works that pertain to each particular pericope.
- Translation—the author’s own translation of the biblical text, reflecting the end result of exegesis and attending to Hebrew and Greek idiomatic usage of words, phrases, and tenses, yet in reasonably good English.
- Notes—the author’s notes to the translation that address any textual variants, grammatical forms, syntactical constructions, basic meanings of words, and problems of translation.
- Form/Structure/Setting—a discussion of redaction, genre, sources, and tradition as they concern the origin of the pericope, its canonical form, and its relation to the biblical and extra-biblical contexts in order to illuminate the structure and character of the pericope. Rhetorical or compositional features important to understanding the passage are also introduced here.
- Comment—verse-by-verse interpretation of the text and dialogue with other interpreters, engaging with current opinion and scholarly research.
- Explanation—brings together all the results of the discussion in previous sections to expose the meaning and intention of the text at several levels: (1) within the context of the book itself; (2) its meaning in the OT or NT; (3) its place in the entire canon; (4) theological relevance to broader OT or NT issues.
- General Bibliography—occurring at the end of each volume, this extensive bibliographycontains all sources used anywhere in the commentary.
About the Author
Douglas Stuart is Professor of Old Testament and Chair of the Division of Biblical Studies at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He holds the B.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University. Among his earlier writings are Studies in Early Hebrew Meter, Old Testament Exegesis: A Primer for Students and Pastors, and Favorite Old Testament Passages.
Bruce M. Metzger (1914 – 2007) was a biblical scholar, textual critic, and a longtime professor at Princeton Theological Seminary. Metzger is widely considered one of the most influential New Testament scholars of the 20th century. He was a general editor of the Word Biblical Commentary (1997 - 2007).
David Allan Hubbard (1928 – 1996), former president and professor of Old Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, was a recognized biblical scholar. In addition to over 30 books, he has written numerous articles for journals, periodicals, reference works. He was a general editor of the Word Biblical Commentary (1977 - 1996).
Glenn W. Barker (d. 1984) was a general editor of the Word Biblical Commentary (1977 - 1984).
John D. W. Watts (1921 – 2013) was President of the Baptist Theological Seminary, Ruschlikon, Switzerland, and served as Professor of Old Testament at that institution, at Fuller Theological Seminary, and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. His numerous publications include commentaries on Isaiah (2 volumes), Amos, and Obadiah. He was Old Testament editor of the Word Biblical Commentary (1977 - 2011).
James W. Watts is a professor and chair of the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His teaching and research interests include biblical studies, especially the Torah/Pentateuch, ritual theories, rhetorical analysis, and comparative scriptures studies. He is a co-founder of the Iconic Books Project. He had served as the associate Old Testament editor of the Word Biblical Commentary (1997 - 2011).
Ralph P. Martin (1925-2013) was Distinguished Scholar in Residence at Fuller Theological Seminary and a New Testament Editor for the Word Biblical Commentary series. He earned the BA and MA from the University of Manchester, England, and the PhD from King's College, University of London. He was the author of numerous studies and commentaries on the New Testament, including Worship in the Early Church, the volume on Philippians in The Tyndale New Testament Commentary series. He also wrote 2 Corinthians and James in the WBC series.
Lynn Allan Losie is Associate Professor of New Testament at Azusa Pacific University. A generalist in New Testament studies, Dr. Losie teaches courses in the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, and the Pauline Epistles, as well as in the background areas of Greek, early Judaism, and the greater Hellenistic World. He has published articles on the New Testament and had served as the associate New Testament editor of the Word Biblical Commentary (1997 - 2013). Ordained as a Baptist minister, he has also served in pastoral ministry in Southern California and Oregon.
Read an Excerpt
Hosea-Jonah, Volume 31
Word Biblical Commentary
By Douglas Stuart, Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard, Glenn W. Barker, John D. W. Watts, James W. Watts, Ralph P. Martin, Lynn Allan Losie
ZONDERVANCopyright © 1988 Thomas Nelson, Inc.
All rights reserved.
The Title and the Time (1:1)
Form / Structure / Setting
The superscription functions as a title for the book—there is no other. Similar titles, containing much the same wording, are found at the outset of other prophetic books: Jer 1:1–2, Ezek 1:3, Joel 1:1, Jon 1:1, Micah 1:1, Zeph 1:1, Hag 1:1, Zech 1:1, Mai 1:1. The variations among the titles are relatively insignificant, but great enough that such titles cannot be proved to be of common origin. Nothing other than the name of Hosea's father was known, or at least thought significant enough to mention.
The Judean kings, listed first, reigned between 791 B.C. (the beginning of Uzziah's reign) and 686 B.C. (the end of Hezekiah's reign) ; Jeroboam II reigned 793–753 B.C. Since many of Hosea's prophecies can be dated confidently after 753, during the time of no less than six other Northern kings, it would seem that the mention of a single Northern king is in fact a token. Initial date / content descriptions tend not to be comprehensive in other prophetic books as well (Isa 1:1; Ezek 1:1). The compiling of Hosea's oracles was quite probably completed after 722, for an audience of Judeans who, like all orthodox Israelites (including Hosea), recognized the sole legitimacy of the Davidic—Southern—dynasty, and had little interest in dating according to the defunct northerners. Moreover, the rapid changes in leadership in the North after Jeroboam IPs death may have been confusing to many southerners of the era after Samaria's fall, and thus ignorable by the writer of 1:1.
The inclusion of Hezekiah (725–686; 715–686 as sole regent) in the southern list suggests that Hosea was, if only briefly (725–722?) a contemporary of Isaiah (cf. Isa 1:1). It must also be admitted that Hosea's prophetic ministry could have continued briefly after the death of King Hoshea and fall of the North in 722, though no specific oracle is datable to the time after 722. Hosea's interest in Judah is evident throughout the book (1:7; 2:2 [1:11]; 3:5; 4:15; 5:5, 10, 12, 13, 14; 6:4, 11; 8:14; 10:11; 12:1 [11:12]; 12:3[12:2]): all the eighth-century prophets spoke both to Judah and Israel.
The significance of the first words of the title goes beyond simply naming the book; it makes a theological statement. The book as a whole contains Yahweh's [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], his word or message. The narrative portions, the prophet's words, the divine oracles, the homiletical conclusion are all Yahweh's word. In its narrowest sense, the [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] was used almost exclusively in the prophet's speech to refer to an oracle, transmitted through the prophet to the people. In the broader sense, it is the information—the prophetic message in full—that Yahweh has provided for his people.
"Hosea" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) is a name formed according to the hiphil perfect (or conceivably the imperative; see Noth, Personennamen, 32) of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] meaning "(he) has rescued / delivered," the unexpressed subject being Yahweh (cf. the name [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), the object being the family of the child, or perhaps Israel as a whole. Most Hebrew names implicitly, and often explicitly, follow the sentence-name pattern of the ancient Near East. The full thought upon which the name is based is: "the Lord has rescued / delivered (us)." The name is found sixteen other times in the OT: Num 13:8, 16; Deut 32:44; 2 Kgs 15:30; 17:1,3,4,6; 18:1,9,10; 1 Chr 27:20, Neh 10:24, 12:32, and Jer 42:1, 43:2. In the latter three instances, the full form including the theophoric element is found: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], "Yah(weh) has rescued."
Hosea's father, Beeri ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), had a name that meant approximately "my wellspring," probably a hypocoristicon for "Yahweh is my wellspring." Wolff's suggestion that this name is "a simple expression of the parents' joy at the birth of a child" and should be translated "my Spring!" or "O Spring!" fails to recognize the sentence pattern implicit in such names.
The title of the book does not mention that Hosea is a "prophet" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). Only later books (Hab 1:1, Hag 1:1, Zech 1:1) include the word [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] in the superscription.
The accession year of Hezekiah, the last mentioned in the list of Judean kings, is uncertain. 2 Kgs 18:1 suggests that the year is 729 B.C., while 2 Kgs 18:13 would seem to imply 715 B.C. Because of the possibility of a coregency between Hezekiah and Ahaz, and because numbers are notoriously subject to corruption in textual transmission, the options for resolution are numerous. The writer of 1:1 is most likely, in our judgment, presuming an occasion at or about 725.
God gave his word at a time and place. It was a revelation delivered in history and substantially historical in its content. It was not, however, limited solely to one time and place. Just as later Judeans, to whom Hosea did not actually preach, revered and preserved his preaching, we recognize in it God's timeless message about the sanctity of his covenant, hardly limited to the days of certain ancient kings. It is our spiritual heritage, as the church is the true Israel (Gal 3:29).CHAPTER 2
The Children's Names Presage Judgment (1:2-9)
Form / Structure / Setting
1:2b–9 is clearly a literary unit. The passage records four separate commands given by Yahweh to Hosea. The commands are stylistically similar; each begins with an imperative and is followed by "D ("because"). In the case of the latter three commands, the style is quite precise. The command, [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ("name ...") is followed by [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ("because") and an explanatory clause which identifies the reason for the naming with a judgment warning, of which the name is symbolic. Vv 5 and 7 represent expansions on the basic pattern, with v 7, the promise to Judah, being somewhat parenthetical to the main concerns of the passage, though neither irrelevant nor disruptive. Such asides, part of skillful preaching to general audiences, are found throughout the prophetic books.
Vv 5 and 7 express an important aspect of Hosea's inspired message: Israel, for its rebellion against Yahweh, must be conquered (by the Assyrians) whereas Judah will escape military conquest by grace of Yahweh's intervention. The basic historical pattern of the sequence of Yahweh's judgment is thus established. Israel, more thoroughly corrupted by syncretism, will fall first. And Judah? For the time being, Judah is safe from such severe punishment, though nevertheless dependent on Yahweh's grace for deliverance. Nothing is implied about the distant future of Judah (cf. 6:11). Judah is not here called unequivocally pleasing to Yahweh; she is merely not at the moment the object of Yahweh's wrath.
The pericope ends at v 9. The following pericope, beginning at 2:1 [1:10], deals with new concerns: the restoration of Israel, cleansed from sin and reunited.
The form of such a passage as 1:2–9 is not easy to classify exactly. It functions metaphorically / allegorically since its ultimate focus is the relation- ship of Yahweh to Israel, not Hosea to Gomer and her children. But it is genuine history (mentorabile, as Wolff [10–11] terms it).
Dramatic prophetic activities of this type are not uncommon in the OT (cf. Isa 8:1–4; Jer 27). Divine command to perform a symbolic act is followed by divine explanation of the act's symbolic importance. The act itself is then done in obedience to the command and in service of the symbolism. In the case of 1:2–9, the marriage account has all three of these: command, explanation, act. The three other instances, i.e., the naming of the children, are technically elliptical in that no mention of the fulfillment of the act itself is given. This is simply assumed, since naming a child is so easily accomplished that describing the process would add no impact and indeed, be needlessly redundant.
A progression of sorts is evident in these verses. The formal structure is built from four separate sequences of the pattern: (a) "(Yahweh) said ... "; (b) "Go name ..."; (c) "Because (ki) ..."; (d) the interpretation. It has often been argued that each successive use of the pattern (v 4, v 6, v 9) is increasingly stylized and brief ("economical in expression" in the words of Mays, 22) in comparison to its predecessor. This is not an entirely satisfactory description of the data, especially because it assumes that vv 5 and 7 are unoriginal to the context, an assumption we doubt (see above). Moreover, it would be a mistake to substitute quantity for quality, ignoring the reality of ellipsis (that which is unexpressed can be as significant as that which is said, especially in the context of a repetitive pattern). Finally, one must note that the hearts of two of the patterns (the command and the interpretation) are roughly of equal length in the case of the marriage and the naming of "Not My People" (Lo-Ammi). Even v 9, which at first glance seems to constitute a noticeably shorter instance of the basic four-part pattern, is not really different. Here the relative brevity is mainly a function of the particular parallelistic turn of phrase employed by Hosea. What could be added to increase the clarity or force of the statement, "You are not mine / my people; I am not your 'Ahyeh' / 'Yahweh'"?
In the case of the marriage to Gomer, the symbolism is of necessity spelled out. The naming of Jezreel is structured likewise. The naming sequence of "No Compassion" (Lo-Ruhamah) could also be ambiguous; the focus of the lack of mercy must be made clear. But "Not My People" is virtually free of ambiguity. The name requires by way of interpretation only the wording in the name itself.
The four instances of the pattern do not so much constitute a progression in a particular direction or of a particular style, as they are repetitive of a single direction and style. The issue in each is a broken relationship; Yahweh and his people are at odds, estranged.
The entire pericope is prose. There is no full poetry in these verses, though a few elements that could be called "poetical" are present: occasional parallelisms, paronomasia and figura etymologica, chiasm (v 7). Otherwise the language is patently prosaic, as the difficulty in arranging the verses stichometrically in both BHK and BHS illustrates. There is enjambment, uneven line-length between supposedly parallel lines, little economy of expression, no syntactical reversals, and no parallelism between entire lines (cola or hemistichs). Hosea, like the prophets in general, is capable of elegant prose or poetry; this is the former.
It is possible, though ultimately unprovable, that T.2–9 describes events that took place at the outset of Hosea's prophetic ministry. His marriage to Gomer may have coincided with the first occasion of his appearance as a prophet of Yahweh. It is entirely possible that these events transpired in the last years of the reign of Jeroboam II, who died in 753 B.C. The six-month reign of his son and successor Zechariah (d. 752 B.C.), technically the last scion of the Jehu dynasty, would represent a terminus ad quem for the naming of Jezreel, the first child, since by any later date the dynasty would already have ceased to exist and the prediction of its destruction at "Jezreel" would be meaningless.
Excerpted from Hosea-Jonah, Volume 31 by Douglas Stuart, Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard, Glenn W. Barker, John D. W. Watts, James W. Watts, Ralph P. Martin, Lynn Allan Losie. Copyright © 1988 Thomas Nelson, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of ZONDERVAN.
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Table of Contents
Author's Preface xi
Editorial Preface xiii
General Bibliography xxv
General Introduction xxxi
Prophetic Dependency on Pentateuchal Blessings and Curses xxxi
The Canonical Order of Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah and Jonah xlii
Hosea and the Covenant 6
The Basic Message of Hosea 7
Form, Structure, and Style 8
The Isolation of Poetry in Hosea 9
The Historical Setting 9
Hosea the Prophet and His Family 11
Hosea's Audience 12
The Text of Hosea 13
Unity and Integrity 14
Assumptions about Dates 15
Some Notable Vocabulary 16
Pericope Divisions in Hosea 17
Translation and Commentary
The Title and the Time (1:1) 20
The Children's Names Presage Judgment (1:2-9) 22
Israel's Restoration in Jezreel's Great Day (2:1-3 [1:10-2:1]) 35
Divorce Proceedings with a Surprise Ending (2:4-17 [2-15]) 41
Images of Restoration (2:18-25 [16-23]) 55
Israel Loved and Therefore Chastened (3:1-5) 62
Yahweh's Case against Israel (4:1-19) 69
An Unclean People Summoned to Judgment (5:1-7) 87
Wrath, Return, Restoration (5:8-7: la-y) 96
Ephraim Mixed Up among the Nations (7:la5-16) 114
Israel Reaps the Storm for Its Sin (8:1-14) 126
From Festival Days to Punishment Days (9:1-9) 138
Ephraim Rejected, Exiled, Unloved (9:10-17) 148
The End of Cult, King, and Capital (10:1-8) 156
War against the Wicked Ones (10:9-15) 165
Israel in and out of Egypt (11:1-11) 173
Israel a Deceiver (12:1 [11.12]-13:1) 178
"I Will Destroy You, Israel" (13:2-14:1 [13:16]) 198
A Promise for the Remnant That Will Return (14:2-9 [1-8]) 210
Challenge to the Wise Reader (14:10 ) 218
Joel's Era 224
Joel's Message 228
Joel and the Covenant 228
Joel and Yahweh's Sovereignty 229
Judah and Jerusalem 229
The Democratization of the Spirit 229
The General Nature of the Distress 230
The Day of Yahweh 230
Eschatology and Silence on judah's Sins 231
The Identity of the Invaders 232
The Text of Joel 234
Previous Scholarship in Joel 234
Translation and Commentary
A Simple Title (1:1) 236
A Call to Lament (1:2-20) 236
Excursus: Literal or Figurative Locusts? 241
Sounding the Alarm in Zion (2:1-17) 246
Restoration and the Outpouring of the Spirit (2:18-3:5 [2:18-32]) 254
Judgment against Israel's Enemies (4:1-21 [3:1-21]) 262
Amos' Era 283
The Man Amos 284
Amos' Style 285
The Structure of the Book 286
Amos' Message 288
Amos and the Covenant 288
History in Amos 289
Amos and Yahweh's Sovereignty 289
The Foreign Nations 290
Amos the Geographer 290
Amos and Economics 291
Judicial Corruption 291
Idolatry and Immorality 292
The Unity of North and South 293
Previous Research on Amos 294
Translation and Commentary
The Title and the Time (1:1) 296
Yahweh the Lion Sends Desolation (1:2) 299
Judgment for International and Israelite Atrocities (1:3-2:16) 302
Covenantal Accountability (3:1-2) 320
A List of Inseparables (3:3-8) 322
The Annihilation of the Opulent (3:9-4:3) 326
Past Punishments Only a Sampling (4:4-13) 333
A Lament for Fallen Israel (5:1-17) 340
The Woeful Day of Yahweh (5:18-27) 351
The First Shall Be First (6:1-7) 356
Complete Defeat to Come (6:8-14) 361
Visions of Doom and an Official Response (7:1-8:3) 366
Hypocrisy: Punishments Fitting the Crime (8:4-14) 380
No Escape from the Almighty's Wrath (9:1-10) 388
Restoration, Rebuilding, Replanting (9:11-15) 395 234
Past Scholarship on Obadiah 402
Edom in Biblical History 404
Prophetic Oracles against Foreign Nations 405
The Message 408
Translation and Commentary Edom and the Future of Israel (1-21) 408
Jonah the Prophet 431
Date and Setting 432
Message and Purpose 434
Form and Structure 435
Unity and Integrity 438
Sources for the Story 442
The Importance of Jonah 4:2 443
Translation and Commentary
Jonah Rebels against Yahweh's Revelation (1:1-3) 443
Storm and Sacrifice at Sea (1:4-16) 453
Jonah Rescued by Yahweh's Grace (2:1-11) 467
A Second Beginning (3:1-3a) 480
Preaching and Repentance at Nineveh (3:3b-10) 483
Excursus: The Sign of Jonah (Matt 12:39-41; Luke 11:29-32) 496
God Teaches Jonah about Anger and Compassion (4:1-11) 497