Relationships – Hosea and Gomer

When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, “Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord.” So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.
Then the Lord said to Hosea, “Call him Jezreel, because I will soon punish the house of Jehu for the massacre at Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of Israel. In that day I will break Israel’s bow in the Valley of Jezreel.”
Gomer conceived again and gave birth to a daughter. Then the Lord said to Hosea, “Call her Lo-Ruhamah (which means “not loved”), for I will no longer show love to Israel, that I should at all forgive them. Yet I will show love to Judah; and I will save them—not by bow, sword or battle, or by horses and horsemen, but I, the Lord their God, will save them.”
After she had weaned Lo-Ruhamah, Gomer had another son. Then the Lord said, “Call him Lo-Ammi (which means “not my people”), for you are not my people, and I am not your God.
“Yet the Israelites will be like the sand on the seashore, which cannot be measured or counted. In the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ they will be called ‘children of the living God.’ The people of Judah and the people of Israel will come together; they will appoint one leader and will come up out of the land, for great will be the day of Jezreel.

  • Hosea 1:2-11

The Lord said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.”
So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and about a homer and a lethek of barley. Then I told her, “You are to live with me many days; you must not be a prostitute or be intimate with any man, and I will behave the same way toward you.”
For the Israelites will live many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred stones, without ephod or household gods. Afterward the Israelites will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king. They will come trembling to the Lord and to his blessings in the last days.

  • Hosea 3:1-5

A Quote

[Hosea 1, 3]: Interpretive Challenges. That the faithless wife, Gomer, is symbolic of faithless Israel is without doubt; but other questions remain. First, some suggest that the marital scenes in chapters 1—3 should be taken only as allegory. However, there is nothing in the narrative, presented in simple prose, which would even remotely question its literal occurrence. Much of its impact would be lost if not literal. When non-literal elements within the book are introduced, they are prefaced with ‘saw’ (5:13; 9:10, 13), the normal Hebraic means of introducing non-literal scenes. Furthermore, there is no account of a prophet ever making himself the subject of an allegory or parable.
“Second, what are the moral implications of God’s command for Hosea to marry a prostitute? It appears best to see Gomer as chaste at the time of marriage to Hosea, only later having become an immoral woman. The words ‘take yourself a wife of harlotry’ are to be understood proleptically, i.e., looking to the future. An immoral woman could not serve as a picture of Israel coming out of Egypt (2:15; 9:10) who then later wandered away from God (11:1). Chapter 3 describes Hosea taking back his wife, who had been rejected because of adultery—a rejection that was unjustifiable if Hosea had married a prostitute with full knowledge of her character.
“A third question arises about the relationship between chapter 1 and chapter 3 and whether the woman of chapter 3 is Gomer or another woman. There are a number of factors which suggest that the woman of chapter 3 is Gomer. In 1:2, God’s command is to ‘go, take;’ in 3:1, however, His command is to ‘go again, love,’ suggesting that Hosea’s love was to be renewed to the same woman. Furthermore, within the analogy of chapter 1, Gomer represents Israel. As God renews His love toward faithless Israel, so Hosea is to renew his love toward faithless Gomer. For Hosea 3 to denote a different woman would confuse the analogy.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary

What Do We Know about their Relationship?

Hosea married Gomer and had three children through her.  The children were named to signify how Israel had turned from God and God’s response for this betrayal.

While Rev. MacArthur argues that Gomer may not have been unfaithful beforehand, we might easily see that she had a wandering eye.  She was a woman of unfaithful character, even if Rev. MacArthur is right in his interpretation.

Regaining Gomer in Hosea 3 came at a price.  He had to pay the price to redeem her.

What Can We Infer about their Relationship?

We might infer that Gomer was unfaithful from the beginning.  Rev. MacArthur characterizes the Israelites as being “chaste” coming out of Egypt, but they had made a golden calf to worship before Moses could descend from Mount Sinai with the tablets of stone.  In their slavery and beforehand, we might infer that they dabbled with the local religion of the Egyptians.  Thus, to carry this inference into the analogy that Hosea makes by marrying Gomer, Gomer might have slept around beforehand, stayed true to Hosea through the birth of the three children, and then prostituted herself afterwards.

The price, based on inflation over a few thousand years is hard to estimate, but the price was probably well over $6,000-7,000, just in the silver alone.  There is a modern shekel worth considerably less, but most experts put the price of the ancient shekel in range of $400-500 per shekel of silver.

In What Ways Can We Fill in the Gaps about their Relationship?

Rev. MacArthur argues away a few gap fillers about alternate wives and whether this was literal or a figurative illustration.  It is quite a burden on Hosea to suffer this indignity for God to make His point, but the point needed to be made.  Consider how God felt when Israel was so horribly unfaithful.

And Hosea 3 ends with “for a time …”  A logical gap filler at this point was that even after Hosea had paid a price to redeem Gomer, she eventually returned to her unfaithfulness.  “Forever” is never implied here.

What Can We Learn from this Relationship?

When we read the entire book of Hosea, we see the picture that Hosea presents to Israel.  They have sinned.  God is angry.  Punishment is coming, but God will pay a great price.  A remnant will be redeemed and returned.  Since the northern tribes have yet to return, it will probably be during the millennium reign of Jesus.  The “for a time” may well be that thousand years.

But beyond that literal interpretation, Hosea speaks to us in that as we turn from God and sin, God still loves us.  God paid the price to redeem us in that Jesus died on the cross for our sins.  We cannot save ourselves.  We must simply trust in the redemptive power of the price Jesus paid for us.  God loves us and He wants us to love Him in return.

What Have We Learned thus far?

We have learned to:

  • Own our own mistakes and not blame others.
  • Be faithful to God, and worship properly, in the proper spirit.
  • Go to God in prayer, especially before any major decisions.
  • Do not show favoritism among family members, but always go to God.
  • Forgiveness is extremely important for none of us are perfect except for God.
  • Beyond physical love, there are other expressions of love, and respect is very important.
  • A relationship requires maintenance, nurturing, and an acceptance of the roles.
  • Be humble and listen to wise advice, and even wait when necessary.
  • At times, we must be bold and trust God, and we must obey.
  • And to love, love, and love.
  • Be trustworthy.  Trust is required.
  • And don’t worry.  God has this situation, and He has us in the palm of His hand.
  • And remember to forgive others and confess our sins.
  • And never go against what God instructs us to do.
  • And truly believe that God can show you mercy and accept the mercy offered.  Yet remember that it is indeed mercy.
  • Not blindly trust our buddies from our youth as advisors and there may be emotional ties that make their advice sound better than it is.
  • Understand that good cannot compromise with evil.

A Closing Prayer

We look to You for guidance.  We thank You for loving us, for sending Your Son to pay the redemptive price for us so that we could return to You.  Help us to always keep that in mind, that Your Son loved us enough to die for us.  Thank You also that He rose from the dead and sits at Your right hand to intercede for us.
In Thy Name we pray,

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.


Add yours →

  1. Beautifully put, thank you Mark.

    Liked by 1 person

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