In Christian tradition, the Old Testament Prophet Hosea is one of the twelve minor prophets. He was descended from the tribe of Issachar and was contemporary with the prophets Isaiah, Micah and Amos. Hosea’s ministry lasted for more than 60 years. He died at a very old age, ca. 820 before BC. There are grounds to believe that Hosea was Levite or a priest. Whatever the case, he was close to the Israel clergy. The Prophet himself tells about his personal tragedy – he married a woman who proved unloyal to him.
During the Assyrian invasion the prophet urged the people to withstand the invasion and maintain faith, reminding them that disasters are being sent by the Lord for moral correction of sinners. The prophet predicted the end of the Old Testament sacrifice and Aaron’s priesthood (Hosea 3:4); spread of the real acknowledgment of God (Hosea 2:20) and conversion of pagans to Christianity. Symbolic images from the Book of Hosea are commonly interpreted as prophesies of spiritual healing from the First Sin (Hosea 6); the return of Christ from Egypt (Hosea, 11: 1, Matthew 2: 15) His resurrection on the third day (Hosea 6: 3, 1 Corinthians 15: 4) and liberation from the hell and death when the mortal has been clothed with immortality. “When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, repeats the apostle Hosea’s prophesies, then the saying that is written will come true: 'Death has been swallowed up in victory.’ Where, O death, is your victory?” (1 Corinthians 15: 54–55, Hosea 13: 14) for the entry to paradise is open to everyone.”
The Prophet Hosea is traditionally depicted as a gray-haired old men wearing a blue chiton, ochrous or wine-colored himation and sandals; other color combinations are also encountered in the iconography. In his hands he holds a scroll carrying a quotation from the Book of Hosea (Hosea 14: 6) He is depicted as a younger man on a miniature of the 10th century Interpretations of the Book of the Prophets (The National Library, Turin). In iconography the Prophet Hosea is represented on the prophet tier of iconostases (the Assumption Cathedral of the Cyril of Belozersk Monastery, 1497, State Russian Museum).
The prophet Hosea is traditionally depicted as an old man wearing a blue chiton, a brown, ochrous or wine-colored himation and sandals; other color combinations are also encountered in the iconography. He is portrayed holding a scroll carrying a quotation from the book of prophets (Hosea, 14:6). He is depicted as a younger man on a miniature of the 10th century Interpretations of the Book of the Prophets (The National Library, Turin) and as an old man on the Menology of Basil II (Constantinople, 985 AD, the Vatican Library, Rome). On iconostases the prophet Hosea is traditionally portrayed in the prophets’ tiers, as for example, on the iconostasis at the Assumption Cathedral of the Cyril of Belozersk Monastery (1497, State Russian Museum).
The Prophet Hosea is commemorated on October 30th (October 17th, the old style).
Zhanna G. Belik,
Ph.D. in Art history, senior research fellow at the Andrei Rublyov Museum, custodian of the tempera painting collection.
Olga E. Savchenko,
research fellow at the Andrei Rublyov Museum.
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