Hosea 3:1. Go yet, love a woman beloved of her friend, yet an adulteress. This action is forbidden by the law of Moses, and also by our Saviour. What then would become of the prophet’s moral character? How should two prostituted women, such as this and his former wife, be so fruitful in children? This indicates that those marriages of Hosea, as Jerome believed, were visions only, by which he endeavoured to dissuade his country from idolatry. The woman was the synagogue, her adultery was the worship of Baal; yet all adulteress as she was, she was beloved of her heavenly friend with much longsuffering and tender mercy.
Hosea 3:3. Thou shalt abide for me many days. The law allowed a full month at least, between the promise and the marriage. Deuteronomy 21:13. It was often several years. When a man betrothed a woman he usually made her some present, the acceptance of which was regarded as a promise on her part.
Hosea 3:4. The children of Israel shall abide many days without a king. This period, like “the end of the days” in Daniel 12:13, indicates the cleansing of the sanctuary in the glory of the latter day. It seems an undeviating practice of the prophets, whenever they speak of the ruin of their country, to shelter the church in Christ, her only refuge and hope. This period is not applicable to the Assyrian captivity, because they had idols, nor to the Babylonian, because in Hosea 3:5 the events are connected with the last days. The last days, mentioned in Joel 2:28, are allowed to refer to the times of the Messiah; and the last days, in Isaiah 2:2, refer to the same time. Acts 2:16.
Without a prince. In the Babylonian captivity many of the jews were princes, and others are called elders; but under the present Roman dispersion they have no civil magistrates of rank and power; nor are they numbered among the nations. Neither the christian, nor the mahommedan, nor the heathen powers have honoured them with civil dignities.
Without a sacrifice. When David offered sacrifices, after the destroying angel had stayed his hand and spared Jerusalem, fire fell from heaven and consumed the sacrifices; and this holy fire, with the testimony of prophecy, marked the place which God chose for the habitation of his glory. Therefore, whatever were the wanderings of the jews, they were not to sacrifice out of Jerusalem, unless the spirit of prophecy allowed otherwise, as on Carmel. This prophecy cannot be applied to the Babylonian captivity, for Baruch in Jerusalem then offered burnt offerings for them: chap. 1:10.
Without an image. Here criticism is much divided. The versions vary. The LXX read pillar, as in Genesis 28:18. Many of the moderns read statue. It implies however the total disuse of altars and idols; and this makes the prophecy apply with greater force to the Roman dispersion.
Without an ephod. This was a part of the priest’s linen. The ephod of the high priest is here understood, which contained the breastplate or pectoral, and the two precious stones worn one on each shoulder. That on the right shoulder is thought to be called the Urim, and that on the left the Thummim.
Without teraphim. The LXX read Urim. But it is objected that teraphim everywhere signifies an image, adored as an idol. See Genesis 31:19. 18:17. It properly signifies household gods. 17:5. Revetus suggests that the teraphim in this text might refer to the calves in Bethel and in Dan, or to Baal. But why may it not refer to the cherubim in the holy place? The Hebrews had their Urim and Thummim, illuminations and perfections in their oracles. By these stones the priest foretold future things. See on Exodus 28:30. The gentiles from the most ancient times had their teraphim, and in corrupter times their image. Now, the jews have neither urim nor teraphim; nor shall their afflictions cease till they bow in the latter day to that David, of whom the first David was but a figure.
Hosea 3:5. And David their king. This text cannot properly be applied to Zerubbabel, but to the Messiah it applies with peculiar force. Psalms 132:16. Jeremiah 30:9. Ezekiel 34:24. Acts 15:16-17. The Chaldaic also applies it in this sense. See the note in Ezekiel, as above.
The ancient Israelites being confessedly of a stubborn character, and slow in the reception of divine instruction, they required striking and interesting symbols to move their passions and inform their judgment. The interesting case of Hosea’s betrothed wife, was happily calculated to answer that end. Here we must admire the great patience of God in giving this drunken and unholy nation a second mirror of mortifying instruction, both in the case of the prophet’s first and second wife. How much do men disgrace their origin, their reason, and their Maker, by scandalous passions and wicked practices! A carnal impiety, and an attachment to bottles of wine, lead to awful issues.
The conditions of this woman’s engagement make her a striking type of Israel’s alienation. She was to abide many days out of the prophet’s house. So Israel now abode in exile; yet in hope of returning to seek the Lord, and to fear his goodness in the latter day. How strikingly then has providence accomplished this prophecy. If in Babylon many of the jews were elevated to princely honours, as Daniel and his colleagues; Nehemiah, Ezra, and Zerubbabel; if the elders attended Ezekiel, chap. 24.; then the prophecy of Jacob concerning the sceptre is accomplished in conjunction with this and the other predictions.
Above all, let sinners receive instruction. Let them see in Israel’s protracted and complicated miseries, what are the consequences of guilt. Till a few centuries back, their sufferings have been great in all the earth. Let us not obstinately resist the ministry, and set providence at defiance. God holds thunderbolts in his hand.
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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Hosea 3". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/
Second Sunday after Epiphany