Does apocalyptic symbolism apply to the use of "the heaven, the earth, the wine, the corn and the oil" in Hosea's prophesy in Hosea 2:21-22?

“And in that day I will answer, declares the Lord, I will answer the heavens, and they shall answer the earth, and the earth shall answer the grain, the wine, and the oil, and they shall answer Jezreel (Hosea 2:21-22 ESV)

The symbol of apocalypse contains strong political connotations linked to eschatological expectations viz-viz the faith in a divine intervention on the course of history. If Hosea 2 is not apocalyptic but simply metaphorical, what will be the right interpretation of: "I will answer the heavens, and they shall answer the earth . . ."?

  • Please edit your question to include a definition of what you mean by "apocalyptic symbolism". Thanks.
    – Ruminator
    Nov 18, 2018 at 17:14

1 Answer 1


Most interpreters make a distinction between Bible symbols (which are very common) and apocalyptic symbols in the Bible (which are rare). While making such a distinction, the two overlap and so a sharp line of distinction cannot be drawn. The two inform each other.

The extent of apocalyptic Biblical literature (opinions vary) usually include the Book of Revelation, the visions of Daniel and the visions of Zechariah. Some might also include Eze 38 & 39 and a few other passages (eg extract of Joel). This is on the basis that apocalyptic visions are usually quite fantastic and involve more than simple personification and metaphor. However, definitions vary. Apocalyptic literature also usually involves the future and climactic events in highly symbolic form.

If this is your definition, then Hosea 2 is not apocalyptic but simply metaphorical.

However, some would include (almost) any prophecy of the end of the world as apocalyptic such as those in Matt 24, Mark 13 Luke 21and 2 Thess 2. Under this definition, Hosea 2 is still not apocalyptic.

Hosea 2:21-23 is a prophecy about Israel's restoration and should not be separated from the rest of the (earlier) chapter. The prophecy is relatively straight-forward to understand and relatively uncontroversial. It is based on the covenant promises in places such as Deut 28 & 29 and Lev 26. No symbolism is involved except the phrase "I will plant her" which is common metaphor for Israel as God's bride. See also Eze 23, Zech 2:7, 10, Isa 62:5, Jer 2;1, 2, Isa 47:1-3, Jer 2:32, Eze 16, Nah 3:4, 5, Gal 4:21-31 where the Bible uses women as metaphors for God's faithful or unfaithful people.

The use of "heaven ... earth ... grain ... oil" responding to each other is a simple farming expression of farming prosperity under the blessing of God. Such is often used as part of the blessings and curses on the land for Israel's faithfulness and rebellion as described in Deut 28 & 29 and Lev 26.

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