Jezreel is the Hebrew word that means “God sows” or “God will scatter.” Jezreel is the name of both a great valley in Israel as well as an ancient Israelite city within the valley. The valley is mentioned as early as the time Israel entered the promised land under the leadership of Joshua (Joshua 17:16) and was located within the boundaries of the Tribe of Issachar (Joshua 19:18).
The city of Jezreel is said to be built as a fortress in the 9th-century BC possibly during the reign of King Omri. It is where king Ahab set up his palace during his reign (1 Kings 21:1). It is also where his evil wife Jezebel was killed as recompense for her many murders and sins (2 Kings 9:36-37).
The name Jezreel is also used symbolically by Hosea for his oldest son to describe what God would do to the nation of Israel during that time (Hosea 1:4). By that time, the nation of Israel had turned away from God for many years and had sinned greatly despite being warned of their evil doings. To demonstrate to Israel what they had done to Him, God told his prophet Hosea to marry a woman of whoredoms (Hosea 1:2). God did this to show His people that He was a faithful husband to them, while they were an unfaithful wife to Him. The story also shows that while God’s people Israel were not faithful, when they repented, God would take them back because He loved them.
The first child born to Hosea through his unfaithful wife, Gomer, was named Jezreel. The Bible says, “And the Lord said unto him, Call his name Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu, and will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel. And it shall come to pass at that day, that I will break the bow of Israel, in the valley of Jezreel” (Hosea 1:4-5).
Naming his son Jezreel was in reference to what had happened in Jezreel with the judgement given to the house of Israel there by the hand of king Jehu (2 Kings 9:31-37; 10:1-28). While Jehu was right in executing judgement on Israel, he was not righteous in his heart (2 Kings 10:31). Thus, God would show mercy and justice also to Israel. This story was a symbol that just as as Israel was punished, they were not to be cast away away forever.
As the name Jezreel implies, God would both scatter Israel as a consequence of their rebellion, but when they sought Him, He would restore them. “Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up” (Hosea 6:1).
The lesson of the name Jezreel is for God’s people, that He allows sorrows to bring us greater joy in knowing Him. “And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the Lord. And it shall come to pass in that day, I will hear, saith the Lord, I will hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth; And the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil; and they shall hear Jezreel. And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God” (Hosea 2:19-23).
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