Hosea 3 - Outline of Hosea (Book Notes menu page)
Having outlined His plan (in ch. 2) to win Israel back to Himself, with a combination of His tough love (by which she would come to the end of herself), and His tender love (by which she would be won to Him in a new and everlasting relationship), the LORD now illustrates His love for Israel, through the actions of Hosea toward his unfaithful wife.
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.
go yet, love a woman beloved or her friend, yet an adulteress... -
Hosea's love for Gomer had not waned, though she had spurned his pleadings and had continued to pursue adulterous lovers. He had every right to give up on her. But the LORD instructed him to "Go yet" {ie., go again, or, continue to go} pursuing her with love.
     Some misinterpret the word "friend," reading the LORD's instruction as "Go... love a woman loved by her paramour." However, this reading does not fit Gomer's situation. She, like Israel, had pursued false lovers and their false promises. But rather than loving her, they took advantage of her, and in the end, despised her (Hos 2:10). In the passage before us, Gomer finds herself rejected by her lovers who have placed her, as merchandise, on the slave market.
      The previously mentioned misreading also does not fit the LORD's purpose, which is to illustrate His love for Israel. The true 'friend' is the one whose love is true. A better reading would be: "Go... love a woman beloved by her husband, yet an adulteress." (NASB)
according to the love of the LORD toward the children of Israel...-
Hosea's persistent love for Gomer was an illustration of God's love for His unfaithful people. Hosea loved Gomer, and had continally pleaded with her to return, even as she continually turned away, giving herself to other men... just as Israel had turned away from the LORD to give herself to false gods and their religious celebrations. These festivities are in view in the phrase "flagons of wine." In addition to the implication of drunkenness, the Hebrew word behind this phrase may also refer to 'raisin cakes' which were used in Baal worship.
2 So I bought her to me for fifteen [pieces] of silver,
and [for] an homer of barley, and an half homer of barley:
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.
So I bought her to me...-
Why didn't Hosea buy her back sooner? He had to wait until she hit bottom. She was not ready to return, until she found herself on the slave market, a broken wretch with all hope gone. Only then was she open to Hosea's intervention.
     Hosea's name, which means 'salvation,' is related to the name Joshua (meaning Jehovah is salvation), which is the Hebrew name of Jesus. (See Mat 1:21; Luk 2:29,30; Acts 4:12)
...for fifteen pieces of silver and [one and a half homers] of barley...-
The price of a slave was thirty pieces of silver (Ex 21:32). But that was a very high price for Hosea. He spent all of his cash, and bartered for the balance with a large quantity of grain (about 130 gallons of barley), perhaps all that he had in reserve.
     But Hosea's actions are "according to the love of the LORD toward the children of Israel." They picture the high price that Jesus paid, when He poured Himself out, to buy us back from the slave market of sin (Mat 13:45,46; 1Pet 1:18,19). For Him, the price was 'all that He had.' For those who hated Him, it was merely the price of a slave (Zech 11:12,13 with Mat 27:3-10).
And I said unto her, thou shalt abide for me many days;
thou shalt not be for another man: so will I also be for thee.-
At first glance, we might read this as: 'From now on, you will live with me, and I also will live with you, as husband and wife.' However, Hosea's words to Gomer do not imply that their damaged relationship would be fully restored from that moment onward, nor do they imply that Gomer's unfaithful heart would be immediately changed to cherish her husband.
     Note the italicized [bracketed] words in v.3. These were supplied by the translators, but do not appear in the Hebrew text. Without these words, the sense is: 'Thou shalt not be for a husband {HB=ish, man}; so, I also toward thee.' In other words, there would be a period of time before their husband-wife relationship would be restored.
     This period of separation illustrates the time between the LORD's payment of the price of salvation, and Israel's full restoration.
...many days...- This is a period of indeterminant length.
The LORD told Abraham that Israel would be in Egypt for 400 years (Gen 15:13).
He told Jeremiah that Judah would be captive in Babylon for 70 years, after the first Temple was destroyed (Jer 25:11,12).
But the LORD did not provide a timetable for the restoration of the nation from the dispersion that followed the crucifixion of Christ and the destruction of the second Temple. (Acts 1:6,7)
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:
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.
Observe the characteristics of this period of 'many days'...
The children of Israel shall abide many days...
Not fully restored:without a king...- loss of national sovereignty (under the dominion of gentiles, Luk 21:24).
 without a prince...- lacking a descendant of David for the throne.
 without a sacrifice...- lacking Temple worship.
Not playing the harlot:without an image...- lacking a national idol (eg., Nebuchadnezzar's image).
 without an ephod...- lacking priestly representation (see note below *).
 without teraphim...- lacking household gods (small private idols, eg., Gen 31:19,34).

* An ephod, one of the garments worn by Israel's priests, was a mark of divine authority and had a role in determining God's will and direction for the nation (Ex 28:4). Ephods were also used in cultic divination (eg., Judg 8:27; 18:17,18).
     During this period of uncertain length, the nation would lack clear discernment of God's purposes. But they would not seek direction from false gods.
Afterward {ie., when this time of waiting comes to its end}...the children of Israel...-
  • shall...return...- At the present time, Israel is back in the land, but not completely.
  • shall...seek the LORD their God and David their king...-
    They are no longer involved in idolatrous religion.
    But at the present time, they are not seeking the LORD, either.
    As a nation, they are trusting in science and technology; economics and prosperity; military might and powerful allies.
    The day will come when these confidences will fail.
    Then, they will seek the LORD (Jer 29:13).
    Then, they will also seek the LORD's 'Beloved' (the meaning of 'David') who is His anointed King. Zech 12:10-14; 13:1
  • shall...fear the LORD and His goodness.-
    They will be overcome with awe at the Person and character of the God of Israel, the 'husband' who relentlessly pursued them, and they will gladly give themselves to Him alone.
...in the latter days. - ('latter' is HB='achariyth, last, end)
This phrase has prophetic significance, referring to the specific time of Israel's restoration. Isa 2:2; Mic 4:1; Deu 4:30,31

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