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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

Hosea 3

 

 

Verse 1

1. Go yet [“again”] — Connects this command with the one in Hosea 1:2 (Zechariah 1:17; Zechariah 11:15).

Love — As Hosea 3:2 shows, practically equivalent to take a wife (Hosea 1:2); the verb is selected because the emphasis throughout is upon the love of Jehovah, and to indicate the character of the new union. By his love the prophet is to overcome the evil tendencies.

A woman — The symbolism, the form of expression, and every other consideration make it certain that this woman is Gomer. Were it another the symbolic act would suggest that Jehovah was about to select another spouse in the place of Israel, which is contrary to the thought of Hosea.

Beloved of her friend — Or simply, of another. Though she is fickle, and readily accepts the love of another, the prophet is to take her back. LXX. reads the active participle “loving,” which gives good sense; but evil for a friend is no improvement.

Adulteress — Such she had become by allowing others to bestow their love upon her. The task imposed upon the prophet was indeed great. According to the love of Jehovah toward [“even as Jehovah loveth”] the children of Israel — The prophet forgave his faithless wife because Jehovah forgave his faithless spouse, Israel; the attitude of Jehovah taught the prophet his own duty in the matter. It is undoubtedly equally true that his own domestic experience enabled Hosea to understand more completely the attitude of Jehovah to his people, an attitude of intense love, though they look to other gods — That is, the Baalim (Hosea 2:5; Hosea 2:13).

Flagons of wine — More correctly, R.V., “cakes of raisins”; literally, of (dried) grapes. These are loved not by the gods, but by the Israelites. The reference is to cakes used in connection with the sacrifices (Jeremiah 7:18), partly as offerings to the deity and partly in the feasts accompanying some of the sacrifices. Of this luxury the Israelites were fond; this fondness is used here as illustrating their love for things connected with the worship of the Baalim.


Verses 1-5

RESTORATION OF THE OUTCAST WIFE AND OF THE OUTCAST PEOPLE, Hosea 3:1-5.

In the introductory remarks to Hosea 2:2-23, it was stated that chapter iii is the natural continuation of Hosea 1:1-9; it is so, however, not in the sense that the events recorded in Hosea 3:1 ff., followed immediately upon the birth of Lo-ammi (Hosea 1:9), for in chapter 1 nothing is said about the departure of Gomer from the house of Hosea, which is presupposed in Hosea 3:1. The connecting link is easily supplied. Gomer is thought to have fled from her husband’s home, evidently to devote herself more freely to her shameful practices; Hosea 3:2 seems to imply that she had become the slave concubine of another. Impelled by love and a divine impulse the prophet proceeds to buy her back.


Verse 2

2. The command is carried out.

I bought her — The woman described in Hosea 3:1. Why he had to buy her back is not stated, nor is it quite clear. It may have been simply to avoid an altercation with the paramour, or because she had become a slave. Pusey and others suggest that the verb does not imply purchase, but refers to some arrangement on the part of the prophet to provide for the temporary maintenance — until he might restore her to wifehood — of Gomer, whom he found in destitute circumstances, though not in the possession of another. This explanation would remove the necessity of assuming that Gomer had become a slave; it would make natural also the mention of barley, which would serve as food, while the money was to supply other necessities. It is doubtful, however, that such meaning can be assigned to the verb translated I bought; it is better to retain the common rendering.

Fifteen pieces (or, shekels) of silver — A shekel of silver is equivalent to about sixty cents; the entire amount being about nine dollars.

Homer of barley — According to Ezekiel 45:11, the homer contains ten ephahs or baths (but compare Exodus 16:36); of the bath two calculations have been handed down: that of the rabbis, ascribing to it a capacity of 21.26 quarts, and that of Josephus, who makes it equivalent to 40.62 quarts. The homer would contain ten times that amount.

Half homer — Hebrews lethekh. A measure not otherwise known; Hebrew tradition makes it equivalent to a half homer. LXX. renders, “a bottle of wine,” which is accepted by some moderns as original.

Admitting the correctness of the Hebrew, Hosea would have paid one homer and a half of barley in addition to the fifteen shekels of silver. The money value of the barley it is difficult to determine. 2 Kings 7:18, helps but little, since the price stated there is not the normal price. If we assume that the ordinary rate was three seahs for one shekel, one homer and a half — forty-five seahs — would cost approximately fifteen shekels; that added to fifteen shekels paid cash would make thirty shekels — according to Exodus 21:32, the value of a slave. Why Hosea paid partly in barley and partly in cash we do not know.


Verse 3

3. Gomer cannot be immediately restored to her full privileges as wife.

Abide — Remain inactive; in what sense the latter part of the verse states.

For me — As my possession.

Many days — Until the prophet shall feel assured that he may safely restore her to her full privileges.

Shalt not play the harlot — Living, in seclusion, she is to discontinue her shameful career. Not be for another man [“any man’s wife”] — The preceding expression points to the cessation of illegitimate intercourse, but even the legitimate conjugal intercourse is not to be resumed for a while.

So will I also be for [“toward”] thee — He will abstain from all intercourse and yet remain loyal to Gomer during the probationary period. That this is the meaning seems evident, though a slight alteration may have to be made to get it from the original.

For the prophet’s purpose it is not necessary to describe further his domestic experience; he turns immediately, Hosea 3:4, to the application of the experience described in Hosea 3:3. As the reclaimed Gomer must pass through a probationary period, in which, she is compelled to abstain even from legitimate pleasures before she is restored to complete favor, so Israel must pass through a long period of seclusion, when she will be deprived of all her religious and civil institutions, before she can enjoy the blessings of Jehovah pictured in Hosea 2:15 ff.

Children of Israel — The northern kingdom, to which Hosea primarily addresses himself.

Abide — Remain inactive so far as national activities are concerned. The things enumerated are those thought essential to the nation’s life; their withdrawal will be a serious loss.

King — The secular as well as the religious head of the nation.

Prince — During the period of the monarchy the term designates all civil and military officers, not only members of the royal family.

Sacrifice — In the popular conception bringing of sacrifices covered almost all religious requirements; the inability to bring them would appear a very serious loss to the people. For the prophet’s estimate see Hosea 6:6. This threat seems to imply the expectation of an exile; in a foreign and unclean land sacrifices might not be offered (Hosea 9:4). Image [“pillar”] — See on Micah 5:13.

Ephod — This term seems to be used in the Old Testament with two distinct meanings. In Exodus 28:6-14, is described the high priest’s ephod or garment; in many passages this is the meaning of the word. There are other passages, however, where this meaning seems unsuitable; for example, Judges 8:24-27. The root meaning of the word is generally thought to be to cover, to overlay. From this it has been inferred that in some passages the ephod is an image of Jehovah overlaid with silver and gold (Judges 8:24-27; Judges 17:5; 1 Samuel 21:10; 1 Samuel 23:6, etc.). This would give acceptable sense here. Whatever its exact form, it was undoubtedly something used in connection with the consulting of the oracle. (See article “Ephod” in Hastings’s Dictionary of the Bible.) The statement does not necessarily imply that Hosea regarded the ephod as valuable, or that he considered its removal a serious loss. He puts himself in the place of the people; they would consider the loss of all these things a serious calamity.

Teraphim — Another uncertain word. That they were idols is clear from Genesis 31:19; Genesis 31:30; Genesis 35:2-4; Judges 17:5, etc. Sometimes they must have been of considerable size (1 Samuel 19:13-16). It is generally thought that they were household gods, and as such they have been compared with the Roman lares and penates. Whether they can be regarded as household deities exclusively must remain uncertain in view of Ezekiel 21:21. That they were the images of ancestors and that they prove the prevalence of ancestor worship in Israel is more than can be naturally inferred from the Old Testament references. Dr. Foote, after careful investigation, concludes that the ephod is a pouch used in connection with the giving of oracles, while the teraphim are the lots used for determining the oracles.


Verse 5

5. The judgment will bring the people to their senses and prepare them for intimate fellowship with Jehovah.

Afterward — After the judgment has exercised its salutary effect.

Return, and seek — Not necessarily from exile. The construction is the same as that in Hosea 2:9, where R.V. renders “take back”; here equivalent to seek again — Cured from apostasy, they will return from following the Baalim and seek Jehovah. Him, and him alone, will they recognize as their God.

David their king — See Introduction, p. 34.

Shall fear [“come with fear unto”] Jehovah — The same verb is translated “shall thrill,” that is, with joyous emotion, in Isaiah 60:5 (compare Jeremiah 33:9; Hosea 11:11); that seems to be the thought here: they will approach Jehovah trembling with joyful anticipation, though a sense of fear is not absent when they think of their former sinfulness.

His goodness — As manifested in the restoration of the gifts withdrawn, in his readiness to forgive, and in the pouring out of countless blessings in which the Messianic age abounds (Hosea 2:21-22; Amos 9:11 ff.; Jeremiah 31:11-13, etc.).

In the latter days — See on Micah 4:1.

 


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Hosea 3:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/hosea-3.html. 1874-1909.

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