The name Hosea in the Bible
The names Hosea and Hoshea are really the same, but for some reason people have chosen to pronounce the name of the prophet Hosea slightly different than the name of the others of the same name (perhaps out of reverence; perhaps Hosea's father had a speech impediment, we don't know). That difference is preserved in the Masoretic symbols but not in the letters of the name. Hosea would be spelled הושׂע (see the dot over the w-shaped letter) or even הוסע, but it isn't. The name is always spelled הושׁע; Hoshea.
Besides the prophet Hosea, the son of Beeri, there are four Hosheas mentioned in the Bible:
- First of all there is Hoshea the son of Nun, whom Moses renamed Joshua (Numbers 13:16).
- Then there is a chief of Ephraim named Hoshea (1 Chronicles 27:20).
- The last king of Israel is called Hoshea (2 Kings 15:30).
- And among the signers of the covenant of Ezra is also a Hoshea (Nehemiah 10:23).
The name Hosea occurs a mere one time in the Greek New Testament. In Romans 9:25-26, Paul quotes from Hosea 1:10 and 2:23 and properly refers to the original author: Ωσηε, Osee (which, incidentally, makes Hosea the last name in an alphabetically arranged Greek dictionary of the New Testament).
Etymology of the name Hosea
The name Hoshea comes from the root ישע (yasha), meaning to be saved, delivered:
Where the ה (he) at the beginning of the name comes from is hard to establish. It maybe the definite article, The Salvation, suggesting that even though there are other salvations, this is the right one. It may be a remnant of הו (ho), which is a kind of exclamation like 'alas!' or 'aye!'. It is used only once in the Bible and that in a negative way, in Amos 5:16. But perhaps it can also be used positively. That way the name Hoshea would mean: Yo! Saved!
Most likely, the name Hosea was derived of the feminine noun תשועה (teshua), meaning salvation or deliverance, and the letter he was substituted for the taw.
For the meaning of the name Hosea, NOBSE Study Bible Name List and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names both read Salvation.