Hosea 3



This short chapter contains two sections, of which the first, comprising

vs. 1-3, is a symbolic representation; and the second, consisting of vs. 4

and 5, gives the explanation. The prophet bestows his affections on a

worthless wife, who, notwithstanding his tender love to her, proves utterly

unfaithful and lives in adultery. He does not cast her off, but, in order to

reclaim her and bring her to repentance, he places her in a position of

restraint, where she is obliged to renounce all intercourse with her

paramours. Thus it was with Israel. They had had multiplied experience of

God’s loving-kindness and tender mercies, but in spite of all His benefits,

great and manifold, they were alike ungrateful and unfaithful. The

remainder of the chapter foretells the long and sorrowful abandonment of

Israel, as though forgotten by God and forsaken by man; and closes with

an outlook into the far-off future, when Israel’s correction would issue in

their conversion, so that they would return to the Lord their God and

David their king in the latter days.


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v. 1 - “Go, utter a prophecy against the house of Israel, who are like a

woman very dear to her husband, and who, though she is unfaithful to him,

is nevertheless so greatly loved by him that he is unwilling to put her away.

Such is the love of the Lord towards Israel; but they turn aside to the idols

of the nations.”


Her unfaithfulness took place in wedlock – “an adultress


The contrast was realized in Jehovah’s love for Israel, notwithstanding their

spiritual adultery in worshipping other gods.  According to the love of the

Lord toward the children of Israel who look (turn) to other gods. Two

expressions in this clause recall, if they do not actually reflect, the words of

two older Scriptures; thus in Deuteronomy 7:8 we read, “Because the Lord

loved you;” and in Deuteronomy 31:18, “They are turned unto other gods.”


love flagons of wine” – the Septuagint renders the word “cakes with

dried grapes” – these raisin cakes were regarded as luxuries and used

as delicacies; hence a fondness for such indicated a proneness to sensual

indulgence, and figuratively the sensuous service belonging to idol-



v. 2 – “So I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver, and for an

            homer of barley, and an half homer of barley”



The price paid by the prophet partly in money and partly in kind was

exactly the price of an ordinary maidservant. The barley (μyri[Oc], plural,

equivalent to “grains of barley”) may hint the woman’s unchastity, as it

was the offering for a woman suspected of adultery (Numbers 5.) The low

estate of the person purchased is a legitimate inference from all this. The wife,

for whom such a paltry sum should be paid, and paid in such a way, or to

whom such a petty gift would be offered, must be supposed to be in a condition

of deep depression or in circumstances of great distress. Thus the sum paid by

the prophet for his partner symbolizes the servile state of Israel when

Jehovah chose them for his peculiar people.


v. 3 – The prophet places his wife in a state of isolation – from friend, that is

            husband and lovers, she is shut out; all sexual connection, whether

            illicit or legitimate, is peremptorily cut off!


Thus separated from both lovers and husband, Israel would for many a long

day suspend her worship of idols, and be at the same time shut out from her

covenant relation to Jehovah.


v. 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 teraphim” - For a long series of years

they were thus doomed to be without civil polity, or ecclesiastical

privilege, or prophetic intimations. More particularly they were to remain

without royal rule, or princely power, or priestly function, or prophetic

instruction. As the prophet’s wife was neither to be, strictly speaking, her

husband’s nor yet belong to another man; so Israel, as represented by her,

was destined to be deprived of independent self-government and princely

sovereignty; of Divine service, whether allowed as by sacrifice — the

central part of Hebrew worship — or disallowed as by statue; of oracular

responses, whether lawful as by the ephod or unlawful as by teraphim.

There was thus an entire breaking up of Church and state as they had

long existed.


v. 5 – “Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the

Lord their God, and David their king” - “This will take place at the end of

the days, near the time of salvation, when the children of Israel shall return in

repentance.”  It comprises three items — the reversal of their previous career,

their loving return to the Lord their God, and their cordial reception of David

their king therefore, in the Davidic line, a descendant from, and dynastic

representative of, the patriarch must be meant. That this was Messiah there

can be no reasonable doubt; parallel passages in the other prophets prove

this; for example: “I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed

them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their

shepherd. And I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David a prince

among them” (Ezekiel 34:23, 25; comp. also 37:24). Again in Jeremiah 30:9)

we read to the same purpose, “They shall serve the Lord their God, and David

their king, whom I will raise up unto them. ‘My servant David shall be their

prince forever’ (Ezekiel 37:25).  And shall fear (literally, come with trembling to)



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                                                ADDITIONAL NOTES




UNREQUITED. The prophet’s treatment of the woman whom he was to

take or had taken to be his wife evinced extreme forbearance and

exceeding tenderness. He loved her before her fall, — this was natural

enough; he loved her during and notwithstanding her fall, — this was not

to be expected; he continued to love her after her fall, — this is contrary to

all the ordinary feelings and instincts of humanity. This continued affection

was designed, as it was calculated, to win her back from the error and evil

of her ways. But where is the man who under ordinary circumstances

would act so? Where is the husband that would treat a worthless wife with

such mildness and compassion? But what man cannot find in his heart to

do, what man cannot bring himself to do, God does in his treatment of

Israel and in his dealings with sinners in general; For my thoughts are not

your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the

heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways,

and my thoughts than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:8-9 -Notwithstanding all

God’s love to His people Israel, from the very commencement of their national

existence they showed a special proneness to apostasy, readily and recklessly

turning aside to idolatrous worship; yet God’s love continued through it all,

and outlived it all.



old commentator, “is much privation — six ‘withouts:


  • ‘without a king;’
  • ‘without a prince;’
  • ‘without a sacrifice;’
  • ‘without an image;’
  • ‘without an ephod;’
  • ‘without teraphim;’


but the last verse makes up for all: ‘They shall return, and seek the Lord

their God, and David their king.’ These ‘withouts’ show the wonderfully

confused estate that Israel was to be in for many days, many years, both in

regard of their civil and of their religious estate.” They had corrupted their

way, setting up idols in Dan the place of judgment, and in Bethel the house

of God; and that corruption now ends in confusion of both their civil and

religious estate. They had combined the ordinances of God with their own

devices, that is, the sacrifice and ephod with the image and the teraphim;



v. 5 - If they will be for God to serve him, He will be for them to save them.

Let them renounce and abjure all rivals with God for the throne in the heart

and devote themselves entirely to Him, and Him only, and He will be to

them a God all-sufficient. If we be faithful and constant to God in a way of duty,

and will never leave nor forsake Him, He will be so to us in a way of mercy,

and will never leave nor forsake us.”