I am continuing on with my series on reading the minor prophets. See my cheat sheet for the minor prophets, Intro to Hosea, Hosea 1, and Hosea 2. My recommended way to use this guide is to go read Hosea 3, come back here look through the post, then basically read them side by side, reading through the verse and checking here if there is something you find confusing.
This is a short chapter, but 4 is long and I had planned to have something up yesterday, so I’ll stick with just 3 for now. It is an odd chapter, with many strange phrases and old language/measurements. Plus, James Montgomery Boice calls this the greatest chapter in the Bible. So, no pressure.
First off, who are we talk about here? Is the focus on ‘again‘ as in returning to Gomer or is it another adulterous wife? Boice and the NAC tend to lean to the former, while Tyndale and WBC say no, it is a new wife. Boice argues that he is buying back one whom has left him for another, as Christ does with his blood. WBC argues that this doesn’t make sense and because in Christ we are a new creation and are a new bride in a eschatological sense. I tend to agree with this logic as well. This is in fact a second wife. However, the implications drawn from the rest of the chapter are the same.
1. Raisin Cakes – raisins were thought to be aphrodisiacs in the ANE. It is also possible that they were associated with cultic temple worship, including temple prostitutes (WBC).
2. He buys here, this would be the bride price (also leading credence to the new wife theory). In the ANE you essentially purchased your wife from her father as she was his property and will now be yours.
Female slaves typically cost about 30 shekels. So, Hosea didn’t quite have the money, as he pays 15 shekels of coins and about 15 shekels worth of barley. A homer was about 6 bushels and a lethech was about 3. Either way, the equivalent is 30 pieces of silver, the same price that was put on Christ’s life.
3. Assuming a new wife, and either an adulterous one or a prostitute (see my earlier explanation), this would be strange to her. She was purchased, but told not to have sex for many days with either him or any other men. Likewise, Hosea will abstain (so will I also be to you).
4. Sacrifice or pillar – two important items of worship
Ephod – garment worn by priest during divination
Household gold/Teraphim – pagan items that were consulted for divination
The sacrifice and Ephod are orthodox, the pillar and teraphim are ‘abominably pagan’ (WBC). Israel was guilty of syncretism, mixing pagan and true beliefs. They will soon have neither as Hosea’s wife will be with neither him nor another.
5. Future restoration of Israel and the (new) Covenant people. Even though they have sinned and turned from Yahweh, in the end, He will accept them with love and they will seek Him and the Davidic King that is Christ on the Throne.
Hosea, Joel: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture (The New American Commentary)
The Minor Prophets: Hosea-Jonah (Expositional Commentary) (Volume 1)
Hosea (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries)
Hosea-Jonah, Volume 31 (Word Biblical Commentary)