The Word Made Fresh
1Again the LORD spoke to me and told me, “Go love a woman who has a lover and is an adulteress, just as the LORD loves the people Israel even though they have turned to other gods and love their raisin cakes.” 2So, I bought the woman for fifteen shekels of silver, a homer of barley and a quantity of wine. 3I told her, “You must stay with me a long time, and not play the prostitute any longer. You must not have sex with a man, not even with me.”
4“As for the Israelites, they will go for a long time without kings or other rulers, and without sacrifices or sacred poles, and without ephod or teraphim. 5Then they will return to me and seek the LORD their God and David their king. They will come, awestruck, to the LORD and the LORD’s goodness in the later times.”
1-5: The first part of Hosea, chapters 1-3, compares God’s relationship with Israel to Hosea’s relationship with an unfaithful wife. Chapter 4 will begin a new section with a different metaphor for God’s relationship to Israel. Even so, Chapter 3 is hard to understand. The difficulty has partly to do with guessing where the quotation marks begin and end, and partly to do with the implication that Hosea is marrying yet another promiscuous woman. Most scholars seem to agree that Gomer is still the woman involved. Perhaps she and Hosea were divorced for a while after the birth of their children because of her unfaithfulness, and now Hosea is being told to buy her back, though there is no explanation as to why she must be bought unless the silver, grain, and wine offered is a bridal price paid once again to her father; or represents the cost of redeeming her from an owner if she has become a slave in a prostitution ring. In any case, his separation with her is supposed to symbolize the time the Israelites were bereft of a king. The last two verses say that Israel’s dispersion will be temporary; they will be brought back to the land and once again worship the LORD in a holy kingdom ruled by a descendant of David.
God’s love for us never fails, never gives up, and never runs out.