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Bible Commentaries
Hosea 3

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

Then said the LORD unto me, Go yet, love a woman beloved of her friend, yet an adulteress, according to the love of the LORD toward the children of Israel, who look to other gods, and love flagons of wine.

The prophet is to take back his wife, though unfaithful, as foretold (Hosea 1:2). He purchases her from her paramour, stipulating she should wait for a long period, living on coarse fare, and kept apart as a slave, before she should be restored to her full conjugal rights. So Israel is to live for a long period without her ancient rites of religion, and yet be free from idolatry; then at last she shall acknowledge Messiah, and know Yahweh's goodness restored to her.

Go yet - `Go again,' referring to Hosea 1:2 (Henderson). The wife 'whom he had taken and raised from her degradation as a whorish woman' to be his wife, had fallen into impurity again, and was now living with another man in adultery. Hosea is told, not as in the first instance to take her, but to show active love toward her-to love her. She was still his wife, though unfaithful.

A woman. Purposely indefinite, instead of saying thy wife, to express the separation in which Hosea had lived from Gomer for her unfaithfulness. Beloved of her friend, yet an adulteress. Used for 'her husband,' on account of the estrangement between them. Hosea loved her still, though she was separated from him for adultery. God commands him to take her to a second time: she was already beloved of her husband, now he is actively to show his love, to her by restoring her to be his wife ones more. 'Fretful, wayward, jealous, ungovernable as are mostly those recovered from such sins as hers, the prophet, in his anxious, watchful charge of her, was a striking picture of the forbearing loving-kindness of God to us amid our provocations' (Pusey); and primarily of His loving-kindness to Israel, whom He is hereafter to restore to union with Him once more, after her shameful unfaithfulness to Him notwithstanding His great grace shown to her. Comer was still beloved of her husband, though an adulteress; just as God still loved Israel, though idolatrous [ reea` (H7453), neighbour or friend, the same word as 'husband'-margin, friend]. (Jeremiah 3:20, "As a wife treacherously departeth from her husband, so have ye, deals treacherously with me, O, house of Israel.") The word implies that Gomer's husband had been her truest and most tender friend, so that there was no excuse for her conjugal infidelity: Christ is at once the Husband and the Friend (Song of Solomon 5:16; John 11:5; John 11:11; John 13:23; John 15:14-15) and the truest Neighbour of His people (Luke 10:36-37). Hosea is told, not as in Hosea 1:2, "take a wife," but "love" her - i:e., renew thy conjugal kindness to her.

According to the love of the Lord toward the children of Israel, who look to other gods - i:e., have done so heretofore, and are doing so now, but henceforth (from the return from Babylon) shall do so no more (Hosea 3:4). God was loving them all the time that they were looking to other gods. Though an adulteress, Gomer was yet beloved of her friend. Such is the love of God, which still yearns over His people, even when fallen a second time, and by His marvelous grace finally turns them to Himself.

And love flagons of wine - rather, pressed cakes of dried grapes, such as were offered to idols (Jeremiah 7:18). (Maurer.)

Verse 2

So I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver, and for an homer of barley, and an half homer of barley:

So I bought her. The price paid is too small to be a probable dowry wherewith to buy a wife from her parents; but it is just half the price of a female slave in money, the rest of the, price being made up in grain (Exodus 21:32, "thirty shekels of silver"). Hosea pays this for the redemption of his wife who has become the slave of her paramont. The price being half grain was because the latter was the allowance of food for the slave, and of the coarsest kind, not wheat, but barley, which was the offering of one accused of adultery; and being the food of beasts, implies that she had degraded herself beneath her true human dignity as allied with God, to be as the horse and mule which have no understanding. Israel, as committing sin, was the slave of sin (John 8:34; Romans 6:16-20; 2 Peter 2:19, "While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants (slaves) of corruption; for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage"). The low price expresses Israel's worthlessness.

Verse 3

And I said unto her, Thou shalt abide for me many days; thou shalt not play the harlot, and thou shalt not be for another man: so will I also be for thee.

And I said unto her, Thou shalt abide for me - solitary and sequestered, separate from contact with any other man, and remaining for me who have redeemed thee (cf. the case of the captive woman whom her Israelite master desired to make his wife, and who for a month was to remain in his house for him, but separate from him, bewailing her captivity, and was then to become his wife, Deuteronomy 21:13). literally, sit waiting for me: cf. Jeremiah 3:2; Exodus 24:1.

Thou shall not be for another man. Omit another, not being in the Hebrew: "Thou shalt not be for man:" not only not for any paramour, but not even for thine own husband. As Israel has been for ages, free from idolatry, yet not restored to union with the Lord.

So will I also be for thee - remain for thee, not taking any other consort. As Israel should long remain without serving other gods, yet separate from Yahweh, so Yahweh on His part, in this long period of estrangement, would form no marriage-covenant with any other people (cf. Hosea 3:4). The Hebrew means so will I also be TOWARD thee [ 'eeleyhaa (H413)]. God would have a secret care toward Israel, while not taking her into close communion; thereby Israel has been still preserved as a nation, though scattered for ages among all peoples, and has not been allowed to fall into utter irreligion. He would not immediately receive her to marriage-privileges, but would test her repentance, and discipline her by the long probation; still the marriage-covenant would hold good-she was to be kept separated for but a time, not divorced (Isaiah 50:1 "Where is the bill of your mother's divorcement, whom I have put away?" (not divorced): in God's good time she shall be restored.

Verse 4

For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim:

For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king ... without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim. The long period here foretold was to be one in which Israel should have no civil polity, king, or prince, no sacrifice to Yahweh, and yet no idol or false god, no ephod nor teraphim. Exactly describing the state of the Jews for the last 18 centuries, and of the ten tribes of Israel since the Assyrian captivity, seven centuries earlier: separate from idols, yet without any legal sacrifice to Yahweh, whom they profess to worship, and without being acknowledged by Him as His Church. So Kimchi, a Jew, explains it. Judah, though no longer retaining her independent "king" and polity, had a government and "a prince," after her return from Babylon, until she rejected and crucified Christ. Then, having fallen substantially into the same sin as the ten tribes, by putting away God from her, and giving the heart to the creature (which is the root-principle of idolatry), she was doomed to the same judgment. Every effort to restore her has been as yet vain. God, by a miraculous interposition, checked the apostate Julian in the vain attempt to rebuild the temple at Jerusalem for the Jews. Since David's line is now lost, none but Messiah, whose genealogy from David is accurately known, can be the Prince of David's line who is to sit on the throne in restored Israel. The ephod was worn by the high priest above the tunic and robe. It consisted of two finely-worked pieces which hung down, the one in front over the breast, the other on the back, to the middle of the thigh; joined on the shoulders by golden clasps set in two onyx stones, with the names of the twelve tribes, six on one and six on the other and fastened round the waist by a girdle (Exodus 28:6-12). The high priest was thus to "bear their names before the Lord upon his two shoulders for a memorial." The common ephod worn by the lower priests, Levites, and any person performing sacred rites (as, for instance. David when dancing before the ark), was of linen (2 Samuel 6:14; 1 Chronicles 15:27). In the breast were the Urim (lights) and Thummim (perfections), by which God gave responses to the Hebrews. The latter was one of the five things which the second temple wanted, and which the first had. It, as representing the divinely constituted priesthood, is opposed to the idolatrous "teraphim" as "sacrifice" (to Yahweh) is to "an (idolatrous) image."

"Abide" answers to "thou shalt abide for me" (Hosea 3:3). Abide in solitary isolation, as a separated wife. The teraphim ( tªraapiym (H8655) were tutelary' household gods, in the shape of human busts, cut off at the waist (as the root of the Hebrew word [taarap, to cut off] implies). (Maurer.) (Genesis 31:19; Genesis 31:30-35.) They were supposed to give responses to consulters (2 Kings 23:24; margin, Ezekiel 21:21; Zechariah 10:2 "The idols (teraphim) have spoken vanity"). Saul's daughter, Michal, putting one in a bed, as if it were David, proves the shape to have been that of a man.

Verse 5

Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; and shall fear the LORD and his goodness in the latter days.

Afterward - after the long period ("many days," Hosea 3:4) has elapsed.

Shall the children of Israel return - from their idols to "their God," from whom they had wandered. It shall not be their conversion merely, but their reverting to the God whose people they formerly were.

And seek. The Hebrew is intensive. As formerly she diligently sought after her idols (Hosea 2:7), so now shah she seek diligently after the Lord her God.

And seek the Lord their God, and David their king. Israel had forsaken the worship of Yahweh at the same time that they forsook their allegiance to David's line. Their repentance toward God is therefore to be accompanied by their return to the latter. So Judah and Israel shall be one, and under "one head, as is also foretold, Hosea 1:11. That representative and antitype of David is Messiah. All the older Jews interpreted this of Messiah. Compare Schoettgen, 'Horae, Hebraicae,' tom. 2, on this passage. "David" means The beloved. Compare as to Messiah, Matthew 3:17; Ephesians 1:6. Messiah is called David (Isaiah 55:3-4; Jeremiah 30:9, "They shall serve the Lord their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up unto them;" Ezekiel 34:23-24; Ezekiel 37:24-25).

And shall fear the Lord and his goodness - literally, 'shall fear TOWARD the Lord and TOWARD His goodness' - i:e., trembingly flee to the Lord, to escape from the wrath to come; and to "His goodness," as manifested in Messiah, which attracts them to Him (Jeremiah 31:12), The "fear," is not that slavish fear which "hath torment" (1 John 4:18), and which makes men flee from the sin-hating God, but the fear of losing Him, which makes them flee to Him, and reverence inspired by His goodness realized in the soul (Psalms 130:4). Though fearing because of past unfaithfulness, they are attracted to Him and to His goodness by their fear of being any longer without Him.

The latter days - those of Messiah (Kimchi).


(1) This short chapter contains one of the most explicit prophecies respecting Israel contained in the Bible-part of which prophecy is being fulfilled before our eyes, part remains to be fulfilled. The marvelous grace of God to His ancient people is vividly set forth by the direction to Hosea to exercise active love again toward one who had been originally unworthy of his love, yet raised to be his wife and beloved, and who notwithstanding had again played the harlot to the true friend and husband who had loved her throughout. Hosea's love to Gomer was to be exercised even after her fall, in order that at last he might raise her from her fallen state to become his forever. So the love of God was toward Israel even while she was looking to other gods and loving the sweets of carnal indulgence (Hosea 3:1). All gratifications outside of God are like the cakes of raisins eaten by idolaters-luscious, indeed, at first, but dry, and so sure soon to cloy the taste, and become loathsome and hurtful. The Jews, and not only they, but all whosoever seek justification outside of Jesus Christ, are leaving the true vine, the source of all spiritual life, for legal observances and their own righteousness, which, however for a time they may please the flesh, are dry and lifeless as far as the spirit and soul are concerned.

(2) The price which Hosea paid to redeem his erring wife from her paramour was the price usually paid for a slave, equivalent to 30 pieces of silver, the very price at which Messiah was sold by Judas the traitor to His murderers. Christ was sold as a slave to redeem the Church, who, in her natural state of carnality and alienation from God, was worthless as a slave: Israel's degradation beneath the level of man is marked by the food which was her appointed portion in her separation from God-barley the food of beasts. Yet it was for one so vile that the Lord still bore such love, that to reclaim her to Himself, He paid the price of His precious blood.

(3) Still, though the Lord has the most yearning love toward Israel, she must undergo a long preparatory discipline, in which she is to be kept as one no longer indeed wedded to idolatry, but not yet admitted to full communion with Him, for whom therefore she must long wait. Never could anything but divine inspiration have suggested a picture of Israel's state for 2,500 years, and of Judah's state for the last eighteen centuries, so exact to the letter as this. Their prayer continually has been, May Messiah be soon revealed! Their eyes have failed for waiting so long in vain. They, whose former besetting sin was idolatry and lying divination, have, in strict consonance with the prophecy, which was so contrary to what was to be expected from their previous character, remained for ages loathing idols, and "without an image and teraphim" (Hosea 3:4). They, of whose religion sacrifice was an essential part, have remained "without a sacrifice and without an ephod" all that time.

The line of the Aaronic priesthood is long forgotten and lost. Scattered through all peoples "without a king, and without a prince," they have yet remained a definitely marked and distinct people, being for God, and yet not enjoying full communion with Him, much less with any other object of worship. God is also for them (Hosea 3:3), seeing that nothing except a special divine agency interposing in their behoof could have prevented their nationality becoming fused into the several nationalities among whom they are scattered, according to the analogy of all other peoples so circumstanced. Israel is indeed, in her present and past state, an unanswerable witness for the truth of Scripture against the infidel and sceptic. Since a modern divine truly describes their state, 'Oppression has not extinguished them: favour has not bribed them. God has kept them from abandoning their mangled worship, or the Scriptures which they understand not, and whose true meaning they believe not: they have fed on the raisin husks of a barren ritual and unspiritual legalism, since the Holy Spirit they have grieved away' (Pusey).

(4) But the very peculiarity of their state, and of their nationality and worship of God, preserved under such anomalous circumstances, is the strongest pledge of assurance that, as the prophecy of their present and past isolation amidst dispersion has been so extraordinarily fulfilled, so also will the prophecy of their coming restoration to the Lord their God, and the Son of David their King, be fulfilled. It is for this end evidently that they are kept so distinct from all the peoples, waiting continually for Messiah to come and sit upon the throne of His father David, and reign over the house of Jacob forever (Luke 1:42-43). Then shall the goodness of the Lord toward them melt them into penitent love toward Him who has so marvelously covered over their past unfaithfulness, and into fear of ever more displeasing Him again and losing His favour (Hosea 3:5). The same holds good in the case of the spiritual Israel, the Church, and of every true believer. The marvelous way whereby the Lord, through chastening discipline, has led us to Himself, and His gratuitous goodness, notwithstanding all our past unfaithfulness, will form a constraining bond of love binding us to our God and our Saviour indissolubly. We shall ever be receiving fresh revelations of that goodness which rejoices to impart itself to His people, and this shall be the chief happiness of the true Israel of God forever.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Hosea 3". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/hosea-3.html. 1871-8.
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