Hosea 3
Pulpit Commentary
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.
Verse 1. - The general meaning of this verse is well given in the Chaldee Targum: "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." The word mr is in contrast with 'techillath, as the second part of Jehovah's continued discourse. It is erroneously and, contrary to the accents, constructed with "said" by Kimchi and others (Ewald considers it admissible, Umbreit preferable). Kimchi's comment on this verse is: "After the prophet finished his words of consolation, he returns to words of censure, turning to the men of his own time. And it is the custom of the prophets to intermingle reproofs with consolations in their discourses. But he says yet (again), because he had already commanded him to marry a wife of whoredoms, and now he speaks to him another parable." This time he does not employ the ordinary and usual word "take," but "love." plainly implying that he had already married her, so that her unfaithfulness took place in wedlock; or rather indicating the object of the union. Beloved of her friend, yet an adulteress. Her friend or companion is

(1) her lawful husband, but contemporaneously and continuously with her husband's love to her are her adulteries with others, as is implied by the participles.

(2) רֵע, being indefinite as not having article or suffix, is understood by some to be an acquaintance or lover, and preferred, as a milder term, to מְאַהֵב. 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 ether gods."

(3) The LXX. has γυναῖκα ἀγαπῶσαν πονηρά, having probably read אֹהֶבֶת רַע. And love flagons of wine (margin, grapes). The term ashishe, according to Rashi and Aben Ezra, means "bowls," that is, "bowls of wine" (literally, "of grapes"). They probably connected the word with the root shesh, six, a sextorius, and hence any other wine-vessel. The Septuagint, however, renders the word πέμματα μετὰ σταφίδος, "cakes with dried grapes." This meaning is to be preferred, whether we derive the word from אִשַׁשׁ, to press together, or from אֵשׁ, fire; according to the former and correct derivation, the sense being cakes of grapes pressed together; according to the latter, cakes baked with fire. Gesenius differentiates the word from צִמּוּק, dried grapes, but not pressed together into a cake, and from דְּבֵלַה, figs pressed together into a cake. 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-worship.
So I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver, and for an homer of barley, and an half homer of barley:
Verse 2. - So I bought (acquired) her to me for fifteen pieces of silver, and for an homer of barley and an half-homer (margin, lethech) of barley. In narrating the prophet's compliance with the Divine command, the word אֶכְּרֶהָis connected by Aben Ezra with וֶכַר in the sense of making acquaintance with; but it is more correctly referred by Kimchi to כָרָה with daghesh euphonic in the caph as in יִקְּרֵך shall meet thee. "The daghesh of the caph is for euphony as in miqdush, and the root is כַרה (Kimchi). The meaning is then simply and naturally traced as follows: to dig, obtain by digging, acquire. The price paid for the acquisition in this case was either the purchase money paid to the parents of the bride, as to Laban in the case of Rachel and Leah by Jacob, or the marriage present paid (mohar) to the bride herself. Another view represents the prophet paying the price to the woman's husband to whom she had been unfaithful, and who in consequence resigned her for so small a sum. It remains for us to attend to the amount thus paid. Fifteen pieces of silver or shekels would be about one pound fifteen shillings, or one pound seventeen and six-pence; while the price of the barley would he somewhere about the same. There were fifty or sixty shekels in a mana, Greek mina, and Latin ulna; while the maneh was cue-sixtieth of a talent (kikteer); and thus three thousand or three thousand six hundred shekels in a talent. The homer, the largest of the Hebrew dry measures, contained one cor or ten ephahs ( = ten baths of liquids = ten Attic μέδιμνοι), and the half-homer or lethec (haemi-coros in LXX.) was half a cop or five ephahs. These fifteen ephahs, at a shekel each - for under extraordinary circumstances (2 Kings 7:1) we read of" two measures of barley for a shekel" - would be equivalent to one pound fifteen or seventeen shillings and sixpence. Both together - the silver and the barley - would amount to thirty shekels, or three pounds and ten or fifteen shillings. Why this exact amount? and why such particularity in the reckoning? By turning to Exodus 21:32 we learn that thirty shekels were the estimated value of a manservant or maidservant; for it is there stated that "if the ox shall push a manservant or a maidservant, he shall give unto their master thirty shekels of silver." The price paid by the prophet partly in money and partly in kind was exactly the price of an ordinary maidservant. The barley (שְׂעֹרִים, 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 kern 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.
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.
Verse 3. - Thou shalt abide for me many days; thou shalt not play the harlot, and thou shall not be for another man. The prophet imposes certain restrictions of a very stringent character on his wife; he places her in a state of isolation; her past excesses and his purpose of effecting her reformation necessitate such measures, however strict and severe or even harsh they may appear. She is not to be admitted into full fellowship with her husband, nor is she to be allowed the possibility of intercourse with others. From friend, that is, husband and lovers, she is shut out; all sexual connection, whether illicit or legitimate, is peremptorily cut off. The clause, "thou shalt abide [or, 'sit still'] for me," denotes an attitude of waiting, not necessarily in sorrow, like the captive maiden who before marriage with her captor bewailed her parents for the period of a month, but in patient expectation of her husband's fortune and favor, though in seclusion from him, as also exclusion of all others. During this long period of "many days" she is not only debarred the society of her lawful partner, but forbidden either to play the harlot with several or to attach herself to a single paramour. Jerome directs attention to the fact that the word "another" has no place in the original text; otherwise it would imply that she was prohibited from intercourse with any other than her husband, while the real meaning makes the prohibition absolute and inclusive even of conjugal connection with her husband. So will I also be for thee. The Hebrew expositors, Aben Ezra and Kimchi, repeat the negative flora the preceding clause and translate, "Nor shall I even come to you," that is, for marital society. This is not necessary to bring out the true sense, which is that, as she was to be restrained from intercourse with any and every other man, so he himself also would abstain from intercourse with her. "And also I will be for [unto] thee [i.e. thy husband] to preserve conjugal fidelity to thee, but hold aloof from thee during thy detention." 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. Kimchi's comment mounts to pretty much the same, as does also that of Aben Ezra. The explanation of the former is, "I said to her, After thou hast committed adultery against me, thy punishment shall be that thou shalt abide in widowhood of life many days; and the meaning of 'for me' is, thou shalt be called by my name and not by another man's; thou shalt say, I am the wife of such a one, and thou shelf not play the harlot with others, and also thou shalt not be the wife of any other man than myself." Aben Ezra makes mention of another interpretation of the verse, to the effect, "If ye shall return to me, I also will return to you." With this the Chaldee Targum is in accord, which represents God as commanding the prophet to say, "O congregation of Israel, your sins have been the cause of your exile for many days; ye shall devote yourselves to my service, and not go astray nor worship idols, and I also will have compassion upon you." Maurer considers the expression היאל־אי equivalent to היעִם אי, viz. remhabere cum muliere; but to this linguistic usage is opposed. Umbreit renders the phrase, "and I will only be for thee;" this, however, partakes more of the nature of a promise than of a punishment, and is not quite, therefore, in accord with the context. Ewald: "And yet I am kind to thee [i.e. love thee];" this is a rather trivial, as also ill-supported idea. Calvin's exposition is pretty much the same as we have given, and is the following: "I also shall be for thee; that is, I pledge my faith to thee, or I subscribe myself as thy husband: but another time must be looked for; I yet defer my favor, and suspend it until thou givest proof of true repentance. I also shall be for thee; that is, thou shalt not be a widow in vain; if thou complainest that wrong is done to thee, because I forbid thee to marry any one else, I also bind myself in turn to thee."
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:
Verse 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; of all civil and ecclesiastical relations and privileges as they had been long enjoyed. Without a king of their own nationality to sit upon the throne, or a prince of their own race as heir apparent to the kingdom, or princes as the great officers of state; without offering by sacrifice to Jehovah, or statue by way of memorial to Baal; without means of ascertaining the will of Heaven in relation to the future by the Urim and Thummim of the high-priestly ephod, only the more than questionable means of soothsaying by the teraphim; - the children of Israel were to be left. And what attaches special importance to this remarkable passage is the undeniable tact that these predictions were uttered, not only before the dissolution of the monarchy and the cessation of sacrifices, but at a time when no human sagacity could foresee and no human power foretell the future abstention of the Hebrew race from idol-worship so long practiced, and from heathenish divination resorted to from such an early period of their history. Rashi, in his comment, has the following: "I said to her, Many days shalt thou abide for me; thou shalt not go a-whoring after other gods; for if thou shalt play the harlot, thy sons shall remain many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice in the sanctuary in Judah, and without a statue of Baal in Samaria of the kings of Israel, and without an ephod with Urim and Thummim which declared to them secrets, and without teraphim; they are images that are made with the observation of one hour composed for the purpose, and which speak of themselves and declare secrets; and so Jonathan has translated, "Neither will there be an ephod nor one to give a response.'" Similarly Aben Ezra: "Without king, nor is there any objection from the Chasmoneans, for they were not of the children of Judah... without sacrifice to Jehovah nor statue to Baal, without ephod to Jehovah and without teraphim to the worshippers of idols, which Laban called his gods." It is a matter of much consequence that some of the ablest of the Jewish expositors realize these predictions as applicable to their own case and the existing circumstances of their nation. Thus Kimchi, in commenting on this verse, says, "These are the days of the exile in which we are this day, and we have neither king nor prince of Israel, for we are in the power of the Gentiles, and in the power of their kings and princes... no sacrifice to God and no statue for worshippers of idols... and no ephod which shall declare future things by Urim and Thummim, and no teraphim for idolaters which declare the future according to the notion of those who believe in them; and thus we are this day in this exile, all the children of Israel;" he then cites the Targum of Jonathan in confirmation of his sentiments. For the ephod, comp. Exodus 28:6-14, from which we learn that it was "a short cloak, covering shoulders and breast, wrought with colors and gold, formed of two halves connected by two shoulder-pieces, on each of which was an onyx engraved with six names of tribes, and held together round the waist by a girdle of the same material;" it was part of the high priest's attire. The teraphim - from the Arabic tarifa, to live comfortably, and turfator, a comfortable life, were the household gods and domestic oracles, like the Roman penates, and deriving the name from being thought the givers and guardians of a comfortable life, חֶרֶפ. They were images in human form and stature, either graven of wood or stone (pesel), or molten out of precious metal (mas-sekhah). The first mention of them is in Genesis 31:19, and the name occurs fifteen times in the Old Testament. They appear to have been of Syrian or Chaldean origin. Aben Ezra says of them, "What appears to me most probable is that they had a human form and were made for the purpose of receiving supernal power, nor can I explain it further." The two principal species of offerings were the זבח, or bloody sacrifice, and the מנחה, or unbloody oblation. The former comprehended those entirely burnt on the altar, עֹלָח rad. עלה, to ascend, from going up entirely in the altar-smoke; and חלב, or those of which only the fat was burnt. According to the object of the offerer, they were chattah, sin offering, pointing to expiation or pardon for something done demanding punishment; or asham, trespass offering, implying satisfaction and acceptance, or something undone demanding amends; and shelamim, peace offerings.
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.
Verse 5. - Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord theft God, and David their king. The note of time in the beginning of ver. 5 is explained by Rashi to signify "after the days of the Captivity;" and by Kimchi as follows: "This will take place at the end of the days, near the time of salvation, when the children of Israel shall return in repentance." Though not comprehended in the symbolic representation that precedes, this statement is necessary to complete it. The future of Israel is the burden of this promise; the blessedness of that future is its brightness. 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. Contemporaneous with their sorrow for the sins of the past was their serious seeking of the Lord their God and submission to David their king. Their revolt from the Davidic dynasty in the days of Rehoboam was immediately followed by the idolatry of the calves which Jeroboam set up at Dan and Bethel. The reversal of this course is symptomatic of their complete recovery. The patriarch David was long dead and buried, and his sepulcher was in Palestine at the time when the prophet wrote; one, 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 Ezekiel 37:24). Again in Jeremiah (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." We can by no means concur with those who refer this promise to Zerubbabel as a later occupant of the Davidic throne; and just as little with those who, like Wunsche, hold that the prophet has no particular period and no particular person in view, but presents the prospect of a happy and blissful future when Israel would return to the pure worship of Jehovah and enjoy his gracious protection, and when the national prosperity would equal or even far surpass that under the glorious reign of David himself. The best Jewish authorities are quoted in favor of the same; thus Rabbi Tanchum says, "He (the prophet) understands the son of David, occupying his place, from his lineage, walking in his way, by whom his name shall endure and his kingdom be preserved." The Chaldee Targum translates in the same sense: "They shall seek the worship of Jehovah their God, and obey Messiah, the Son of David, their king." So Aben Ezra says that "David their king is this Messiah, Like 'My servant David shall be their prince forever' (Ezekiel 37:25)." The well-known idiom of one idea expressed by two verbs, so that the rendering of the clause would be "They shall again seek the Lord their God, and David their king," if applied here, as undoubtedly it might, would weaken the sense, and so be unsuitable to the context. And shall fear (literally, come with trembling to) the Lord and his goodness in the latter days. The comment of Kimchi on the first part of this clause is as follows: "They shall tremble and be afraid of him when they return to him, and shall with repentance wait for the goodness of redemption on which they have trusted." A somewhat different meaning is assigned to the words by Aben Ezra: "They shall return in haste, when the end (i.e. the time of redemption) comes to their own land with hasty course suddenly." His goodness is taken by some in a concrete sense, as signifying the blessings which he bestows and the good gifts which he imparts; and by others in the abstract, as the Divine goodness or majesty, to which Israel resorts for the pardon of sin and the gracious acceptance of their petitions and answer of their prayers.

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