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Chapter 3

Hosea and His Wife Reunited[a] Again the Lord said to me:

Go, love a woman
    who is loved by her spouse but commits adultery;
Just as the Lord loves the Israelites,
    though they turn to other gods
    and love raisin cakes.[b]

[c]So I acquired her for myself for fifteen pieces of silver and a homer and a lethech of barley. Then I said to her:

“You will wait for me for many days;
    you will not prostitute yourself
Or belong to any man;
    I in turn will wait for you.”
[d]For the Israelites will remain many days
    without king or prince,
Without sacrifice or sacred pillar,
    without ephod or household gods.
Afterward the Israelites will turn back
    and seek the Lord, their God,
    and David, their king;[e](A)
They will come trembling to the Lord
    and to his bounty, in the last days.


  1. 3:1–5 Just as the Lord is ready to take Israel back, Hosea takes his wife back. She must undergo a period of purification, just as Israel must experience purification before the restoration of the covenant relationship.
  2. 3:1 Raisin cakes: offerings to the fertility goddess Asherah, the female counterpart of Baal, cf. Jer 7:18; 44:19; Dn 14:5–8.
  3. 3:2 Just as the Lord offered a new bride price to Israel (2:21–22), so Hosea offers a new bride price to his wife. He returns to her what he has taken away from her (2:5): “fifteen (shekels) of silver”; “a homer of barley,” a unit of dry measurement, which according to the etymology means “a mule load”; and “a lethech of barley,” which is a half-homer.
  4. 3:4 Israel will lose its political and cultic institutions. Sacred pillar: originally perhaps a phallic symbol, representing Baal. These were also used in Israelite worship (cf. notes on Gn 28:18; Ex 34:13). Ephod: an instrument used in consulting the deity (1 Sm 23:6–12; 30:7; cf. notes on Ex 28:6, 15–30). Household gods: in Hebrew, teraphim; images regarded as the tutelary deities of the household (Gn 31:19; Jgs 17:5; 18:14, 17–18).
  5. 3:5 David, their king: the king belonging to the line of David who will restore the Israelite nation (Jer 23:5; Ez 34:23, 24). The last days: a future time of transformation.