Hosea 3

The chapter is brief, and so should my notes be. Is God telling Hosea to be a serial monogamist, seeking out a replacement for Gomer? Is God just sending Hosea back to Gomer, even though she is proven promiscuous and greedy?

Sure, the misogynist patriarchal reading is easy. The sins are as much in the reader as in the writer.

Perhaps the second verse just points out how cheap and easy it is to reconcile with the unfaithful spouse, who has already shown her character. Recall the old Marx Brothers vaudeville routine: ‘Would you sleep with me for a dollar? No! Would you sleep with me for a million dollars? Maybe… How about $50? What kind of woman do you think I am! We’ve already identified what type of woman, and now we are haggling about your price.’

We are uncomfortable with the social assumptions in the argument, but again, this is not moral advice for marital reconciliation. This is a mashal, a parable of prophecy, describing the shape of things to come.

Even when the woman is bought, or bought back, by the husband, nobody gets any sex with anybody. This is a house, not a home, with enough food to survive, but none of the joy of living to eat, celebrating communion with one another and a wider creation.

Finally, again, Hosea offers a crumb of hope that this hard time of living without a temple or sacrifice, monarchy, nation, religion, will pass. The implication is of a new David, a new Temple, a new nation. Did Hosea promise it, or the later editors in exile, or during restoration? Does it matter to you?

So much for brevity – I hit 300 words anyhow!

Hosea Chapter 3

1 The LORD said to me again, ‘Go, love a woman who has a lover and is an adulteress, just as the LORD loves the people of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes.’

2 So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer of barley and a measure of wine.*

3 And I said to her, ‘You must remain as mine for many days; you shall not play the whore, you shall not have intercourse with a man, nor I with you. ’

4 For the Israelites shall remain many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or pillar, without ephod or teraphim.

5 Afterwards the Israelites shall return and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; they shall come in awe to the LORD and to his goodness in the latter days.