Hosea is one of the first Minor Prophets to appear in Israel. The Bible tells us that he was the son of Beeri and that he lived during the reigns of king Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah of Judah, and during the reign of Jeroboam, the son of Joash, king of Israel.
Why does this information matter? It places Hosea in the Old Testament history books during the early to mid eighth century BC, and during a time when Israel was a divided kingdom. After the death of Solomon, his son Rehoboam divided the nation into two kingdoms. Ten tribes of Israel, also called Ephraim, made up the Northern kingdom, and two tribes, Judah and Benjamin, made up the Southern kingdom. Jeroboam reigned over the Northern kingdom while Rehoboam ruled over Judah.
To solidify his power and keep the people from drifting back to Jerusalem to worship, Jeroboam built pagan worship sites in Bethel and Dan, thus leading the ten tribes of Israel into idolatry. The people loved the convenience of a nearby worship location, even if it was full of golden calves. Immorality soon followed. Before long, Israel became a blend of Jewish ritual and pagan idolatry. Times were financially prosperous in the Northern kingdom, but Israel was spiritually bankrupt.
Hosea ministered in the Northern kingdom, faithfully preaching the Word of God. However, the nation refused to repent and eventually fell to a military superpower called the Assyrians. No wonder the Minor Prophets including Hosea could be heard saying in more ways than one, “Return to the Lord your God!” (Hosea 14:1).