Lo-ammi was the second son and third child of the prophet Hosea and his wife, Gomer. In Hebrew, Lo-ammi means “not my people.” By God’s command, the prophetic name was given to the boy to signify that the Lord was rejecting the people of Israel in their sinful state. God gives the reason for the name: “Because these people are not mine, and I am not their God” (Hosea 1:9, CEV).
During the reigns of Uzziah in Judah and Jeroboam II in Israel, God called Hosea to minister as a prophet to the northern kingdom of Israel. The Lord commissioned Hosea to lay bare Israel’s widespread sins of idolatry and abandonment of God and to call his fellow countrymen to repent and return. In a perplexing analogy involving the prophet’s marriage and family, the book of Hosea portrays Israel’s broken and later restored covenant with God.
Many of God’s prophets were called to do far more than preach a message. In Hosea’s case, God commanded the prophet to find a wife among the immoral young women of Israel: “When the LORD began to speak through Hosea, the LORD said to him, ‘Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the LORD’” (Hosea 1:2).
Hosea, a loving husband, represented the Lord God. His adulterous wife, Gomer, portrayed the wayward nation of Israel: “The LORD said to me [Hosea], ‘Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the LORD loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes’” (Hosea 3:1).
Hosea’s three children were assigned names by the Lord to symbolize God’s divine judgments against the nation of Israel. His first child, a boy, was named Jezreel after the Valley of Jezreel. This beautiful area was the scene of many significant and violent battles in Israel’s history. The boy’s name is a reminder of Israel’s bloodguilt as a nation. Overzealous violence and bloodshed had disfigured the nation’s beauty.
Lo-ruhamah, a daughter, was Hosea’s second child. The root of her name, Ruhamah, describes God’s tender mercy and compassion. However, by adding the negative prefix Lo-, the meaning is reversed to “no mercy,” signaling the withdrawal of God’s love, mercy, and compassion from Israel.
The name of Hosea’s last child, Lo-ammi, conveys the most severe message of judgment. The Lord’s statement, “I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God” (Exodus 6:7), lies at the heart of God’s covenant with Israel. More than any other expression, it defines Israel’s identity (Leviticus 26:12; 2 Samuel 7:24; Jeremiah 30:22; Ezekiel 36:28). The devastating message in Lo-ammi’s name (“not my people”) was that Israel had utterly broken its covenant with the Lord, and the Lord disowned them. Because of Israel’s rebellion, the nation would be treated as any other pagan nation. Within a few years of Hosea’s prophecy, the Assyrians destroyed Israel and took most of its inhabitants captive.
The Lord’s heart, like Hosea’s, was shattered by His “wife’s” unfaithfulness. Behaving as an adulterous woman, God’s people had been grossly unfaithful. But the Lord still longed to restore the broken relationship. After announcing His renunciation of them, God assured His people that He would redeem and restore them (Hosea 2:14–23). Immediately after the curse of Lo-ammi, the Lord shows mercy: “Yet the Israelites will be like the sand on the seashore, which cannot be measured or counted. In the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ they will be called ‘children of the living God’” (Hosea 1:10). Using a reversal in the meanings of the children’s names, God demonstrated the retraction of His judgments and promised the renewal of His covenant with Israel (Hosea 1:10 – 2:1; 2:14 – 3:5).
Once again, through Hosea, God expressed His undying love and compassion for His people, despite their ongoing rebellion. Like no other prophetic book, Hosea vividly paints a picture of the heart of God—both broken and abounding in love—for His people.