Hosea 3 − Commentary

Hosea Returns to his Wife

1 Then the Lord said to me again, 'Go and show your love to your wife again. You must love her although another man loves her. You must love her although she is a woman of adultery. And you must continue to love her. You must love her in the same way that the Lord loves the people of Israel. But they continue to worship other gods. And they like to offer special fruit cakes to these gods'. 2 So I bought the woman with 15 pieces of silver and nine amounts of barley. 3 Then I told her, 'You must stay at home with me for a long time. You must not be like a prostitute. You must not be too friendly with another man. And I will live with you'. 4 In the same way, the people of Israel will continue for a long time without a king or leader. They will not have sacrifices, or special stones to help them to remember God. They will not have any ephods or gods in their homes. 5 In the time to come the people of Israel will come back. Then they will look up to the Lord their God and David their king. They will come with great respect to the Lord and will receive his blessings.

The word 'love' can mean different things in the Hebrew (verse 1). It includes a love from God. It also means a love between a man and a woman. This love will mean that a man will want to look after his wife. He will want to do good things for her. God does not think about himself when he loves Israel. The things that Israel needs are important. These things must come first. The 'fruit' was given to Baal as a sacrifice. This was when the people took their crops in. Hosea did not return to Gomer because he loved her. He returned to her because God sent him. Hosea began to love her again in the same way that he loved her before. It was a parable. God was always going to love Israel.

Gomer was probably a slave and Hosea was buying her back (verse 2). But God does not buy back the same old Israel. He wants a new Israel. Hosea does not give much money for Gomer. But he now owns her. Hosea tells her that she must stay with him for a long time. She must not become a prostitute again. Hosea also says that he will not have sex with her. It is possible that this is what verse 3 means. Hosea wants to keep his wife safe. But he also wants to change her into something that is better.

In verse 4, Hosea starts to speak to Israel. Israel will have no king. Another country, perhaps Assyria, will rule Israel. The 'stone' was a place where Israel made sacrifices. These sacrifices were made to another god. Ephods were special clothes that a priest wore. This was part of a sacrifice that God liked. But, in the future, God will take away both kinds of sacrifices. Israel will return to God. This perhaps means that they will return after the exile. But it also means they will return to worship God in a true way. They will do this after they have learned much. The name 'David' means that there will be only one leader in the future. He will be like the future king. So there are three important ideas in this chapter:

  • Gomer does not deserve Hosea's love. In the same way, Israel does not deserve God's love. (This is the true Bible meaning of the word 'love'.)
  • Israel would have a period when they were true to God in a special way (they would not be able to offer sacrifices).
  • Then they would look for God. This would be a sign that they wanted to repent in a true way.