Read through Hosea a few times, and you’ll soon pick up on how frequently Hosea’s prophecies are rooted in particular places. There are about 34 references to 20 different places in the book—a fairly dense concentration for a book of only 14 chapters! Some of them are familiar because of references in other biblical books, but others are fairly obscure to us, and we can only guess to their import by looking at the kinds of things Hosea has to say about them.
What’s interesting to me is the effect of rooting these poetic poems, which could be simply abstractions, in the concrete world of these specific places. Often that means the poem is bound to a narrative, or even a set of narratives, that comes with the location. All of this works throughout Hosea to give the book a sharp historical focus and feel, even if the specific force is lost on us as readers separated by a great distance. What’s important is to pick up on the sense of place in the poetry. When you read the book as a whole, and get beyond the strange archaic place names, the continuing cadence of places helps pull the poetry out of the sky, planting it firmly on the earth.
Here’s a list of all the places that show up in Hosea, with some brief references to what makes some of them significant. This list doesn’t include Israel, Ephraim, Judah, Assyria, or Egypt, since they are all significant enough either as places or players in the drama that I want to give them their own space. Continue reading “Location in Hosea”