The Book of Hosea contains an important and little-understood parable concerning the House of Israel. God commanded, “Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the LORD.” (Hos 1:2) Israel had joined herself to foreign gods and practices, becoming unfaithful to Yahweh, who likened her practices to harlotry. As a prophetic demonstration of this, Hosea married a harlot named ‘Gomer’ representing ten-tribed Israel. Scott’s Bible Commentary says, “Gomer was an Israelite.” (IV:704, Hos. 1:2) The prophet and his harlot wife, Gomer, subsequently had three children, all of whose names were also prophetic: Jezreel (meaning “scattered”), Lo-Ruhamah (“not pitied”), and Lo-Ammi (“Not My People”). God explained the prophetic meaning of the children’s names: “I… will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel… I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel; but I will utterly take them away… ye are ‘not my people’, and I will not be your God.” (Hos. 1:4, 6, 9) In prophetic parable, God revealed that Israel would be conquered and scattered out of Palestine throughout the world.
Fortunately, Israel’s divorce and estrangement from God was not permanent. The prophet Hosea revealed that the time was coming when God would have pity on ‘not pitied’ (2:23). Israel would be remarried to Yahweh and call Him husband: “thou shalt call me Ishi [husband]; and shalt call me no more Baali… And I will betroth thee unto me for ever… I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the LORD.” (Hosea 2:16, 19, 20) This Spiritual remarriage would be through ‘Gomer’ coming to know the Lord by faith in Christ, Who was God in the flesh. (John 1:1, 18) Hosea’s prophecy of Israel’s conversion was reconfirmed by the Apostle Paul in the New Testament: “Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are ‘not my people’ [Lo-Ammi], there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God.” (Hos. 1:10, Romans 9:26) Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and the sons of the Living God are Christians. How was this fulfilled in history? Scholars have established that the people called ‘Gomer’ were the ancestors of the early European tribes called Gamir, Cimmerians, or Celts. (Appendix 3) McClintock & Strong’s Encyclopedia says that Gomer, “formed a great branch of the south-eastern population of Europe.” (III:920) In fulfillment of Hosea’s prophecies, they became the nations of “Christendom,” Christ’s Kingdom on earth, within a few short centuries after Messiah’s First Coming.
The story of Israel dispersed, lost, and later restored is beautifully told in Christ’s Parable of the Prodigal (or Lost) Son in Luke 15. The Father in the parable is God our Heavenly Father, and the two sons represent the Houses of Israel and Judah. The lost son, Israel, indeed returns and is restored to his Father, who prepares a feast representing the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. The illustrations on the opposite page graphically represent Israel lost and Israel restored.
Some confusion is caused by a non-Hebrew ‘Gomer’ mentioned in Gen. 10, but that individual lived well over a thousand years before the Gomer representing Israel of Hosea’s prophecies. Further, the tenth chapter of Genesis is a geographic representation of nations, rather than racial, and is allegorical rather than literal. We believe in taking the Bible literally whenever possible, interpreting allegorically only when a literal explanation cannot apply, such as is the case here.
It has been shown by scholars that the national relationships found in Genesis chapter ten do not fit a literal, racial interpretation. For example, well-respected scholar Dr. Henry Sayce says, “The tenth chapter of Genesis is ethnographical rather than ethnological. It does not profess to give an account of the different races of the world and to separate them one from another according to their various characteristics. It is descriptive merely, and such races of men as fell within the horizon of the writer are described from the point of view of the geographer and not of the ethnologist. The Greeks and Medes, for example, are grouped along with the Tibarenian and Moschian tribes because they all alike lived in the north; the Egyptian and the Canaanite are similarly classed together, while the Semitic Assyrian and the non-Semitic Elamite are both the children of Shem. We shall never understand the chapter rightly unless we bear in mind that its main purpose is geographical. In Hebrew, as in other Semitic languages, the relation between a mother-state to its colony, or of a town or country to its inhabitants, was expressed in a genealogical form. The inhabitants of Jerusalem were regarded as ‘the daughter of Jerusalem,’ the people of the east were ‘the children’ of the district to which they belonged.” (Dr. A. H. Sayce, Races of the Old Testament, pp. 65-66)
Dr. Sayce points out that this is the reason the South Arabian tribe of Sheba is listed twice in Genesis 10, once under the designation of Ham in verse 7, and again listed under Shem in verse 28. The tribe of Sheba originated in the south, but later spread a colony far to the north which clashed with Assyria in the days of Tiglath-Pilesar and Shalmanesar. (ibid., p. 65-66) Sayce remarks, “When, therefore, we are told that ‘Canaan begat Zidon his first-born, and Heth,’ all that is meant is that the city of Sidon, and the Hittites to whom reference is made, were alike to be found in the country called Canaan. It does not follow that there was any ethnological kinship between the Phoenician builders of Sidon and the prognathous Hittites from the north. Indeed, we know from modern research that there was none.” (ibid., p. 66)
Sayce, in fact, reproduces Egyptian drawings of both Phoenicians and Hittites, showing graphically that there was a dramatic difference in physical features (and therefore origins) between these two peoples. Similarly, Assyria, Elam, and Babylonia (Arphaxad) were called brethren, “not because the natives of them claimed descent from a common father, but because they occupied the same quarter of the world.” ( ibid., p. 66-67) Ancient races portrayed on Egyptian monuments are shown by Dr. Sayce in the box above. Clockwise from left top, are a king of the Hittites (with pigtail), Hittite soldiers, an Israelite, and a chief of Ganata or Gath, showing Phoenician-Canaanite features. (ibid.,Sayce frontispiece)