The word of the LORD that came unto Hosea, the son of Beeri, in the days a
of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, [and] Hezekiah, b
kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel.
The Argument - After the ten tribes had fallen away from God by the wicked and subtle counsel of Jeroboam, the son of Neba, and instead of his true service commanded by his word, worshipped him according to their own imaginings and traditions of men, giving themselves to most vile idolatry and superstition, the Lord from time to time sent them Prophets to call them to repentance. But they grew even worse and worse, and still abused God's benefits. Therefore now when their prosperity was at the highest under Jeroboam, the son of Joash, God sent Hosea and Amos to the Israelites (as he did at the same time send Isaiah and Micah to those of Judah) to condemn them for their ingratitude. And whereas they thought themselves to be greatly in the favour of God, and to be his people, the Prophet calls them bastards and children born in adultery: and therefore shows them that God would take away their kingdom, and give them to the Assyrians to be led away captives. Thus Hosea faithfully executed his office for the space of seventy years, though they remained still in their vices and wickedness and derided the Prophets, and condemned God's judgments. And because they would neither be discouraged with threatening only, nor should they flatter themselves by the sweetness of God's promises, he sets before them the two principal parts of the Law, which are the promise of salvation, and the doctrine of life. For the first part he directs the faithful to the Messiah, by whom alone they would have true deliverance: and for the second, he uses threatenings and menaces to bring them from their wicked manners and vices: and this is the chief scope of all the Prophets, either by God's promises to allure them to be godly, or else by threatenings of his judgments to scare them from vice. And even though the whole Law contains these two points, yet the Prophets moreover note distinctly both the time of God's judgments and the manner.
(a) Also called Azariah, who being a leper was disposed from his kingdom.
(b) So that it may be gathered by the reign of these four kings that he preached about eighty years.