And the children of Yehudah and the children of Yisrael shall be gathered together, and they shall appoint themselves one head, and shall go up from the land; for great shall be the day of Yizrael.
Is this passage speaking of Mashiach or some other type of leader? Where should one place this passage in the prophetic timeline? What is happening in this passage? The answers to these questions and other questions will depend largely upon how one understands this passage. Let's dig into the nuts and bolts of this passage a little to see if we can increase our understanding of it, thus, increasing our understanding of what is coming in the future.
The first question we would like to examine concerns of whom this passage is speaking. The "head" which the children of Yehudah and the children of Yisrael appoint for themselves comes from the Hebrew word ראש - "rosh," which means begin or head. This does not seem to be a king, but rather some other type of head of state such as a prime minister or president. Typically, a king is not appointed, but rather inherits his position from his father before him. In our modern world, a president or prime minister would normally be thought of as being elected by the people of the nation in which he serves.
Therefore, one might conclude this word does not seem to be pointing to the coming Mashiach. Next, let us examine how this leader is selected to see if this confirms this conclusion.
The word "appoint" from the above passage comes from the Hebrew word שום - "sum" (pronounced as soom), which means to place, as in "appoint." We see this very thing happening in the following passage.
Shemot (Exodus) 18:21
"Moreover you shall provide out of all the people able men, such as fear Elohim, men of truth, hating unjust gain; and place such over them, to be princes of thousands, princes of hundreds, princes of fifties, and princes of tens.
The word "place" in this passage is the same word שום "sum." Some have suggested the word שום"sum" in Hoshea 1:11 means this leader is elected. However, there is nothing in the context of Scripture to suggest such a process. While this could be true, it is not necessarily true, as we are not told how this "head" is selected, only that he is placed over both nations, making them one nation. This seems to be the point of the passage, the two nations becoming one nation.
Since we are not told in this passage how this "head" is selected, this does not help us much in determining whether this person is Mashiach or not. Next, we will look at the activity of this leader to see if this can help us determine if this may or may not be Mashiach.