As part of a men’s Bible study on the minor prophets, Hosea is first, I have started enjoying the Hebrew text in Hosea 1-3. We will have guide books to direct discussion (my copy of the 2 book series on the minor prophets is on order). But below might be something that will most likely not be discussed. I am not totally comfortable with any translation but here’s the CSB, Christian Standard Bible:
Then the LORD said to me, “Go again; show love to a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, just as the LORD loves the Israelites though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes.” Hosea 3:1
It is interesting that the word “again” is not translated as part of the first clause [The KJV missed it altogether]: “Then the Lord
AGAIN said to me…” The reason is the accent or tone (The prepositive disjunctive tonal יְחיִב). The word order is “And the Lord said unto me again Go…”. Prepositive means we flip the 2 words: GO AGAIN. Which means the Masoretes that came up with the accents read this: “And the Lord said unto me ‘Go again…’.” The accents or tones are NOT inspired but I think most translators are comfortable with their understanding …and so am I. The Contemporary English Version is incorrect:
Once again the Lord spoke to me. And this time he said, “Hosea, fall in love with an unfaithful woman[a] who has a lover. Hosea 3:1 [CEV]
Is there a difference? If God were to instruct Hosea a second time to marry Gomer, this would suggest his reluctance, even repulsion, with the idea as something sinful since he knew of her past.
If the word again belongs with the word “Go” we are led to interpret this to mean Hosea took her back after they were wed and had 3 children together, and that she left him again (Hosea 1:2) for her paramours.
Woman or Wife
But should the word “woman” be translated “wife”? Hebrew has one word for both! The NIV suggests: “Go, show your love to your wife again…”
A Hint-A Friend
Here’s a hint: the word “friend,” is translated (I think incorrectly) in the CSB “another man.” The word more correctly means “husband” because it references an intimate friendship. This can only be her husband or paramour—not just “another man.”
Go yet, love a woman beloved of her friend,… [KJV]
But the next word ‘AND’ by some scholars is saying that Gomer has two intimates, her husband AND her paramour.
If so, the phrase in the CSB which reads “woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress,” might better translate “a woman who is both beloved by her husband and [yet – KJV] an adulteress.” And since this whole lesson for Hosea is a lesson in God’s burden for unfaithful Israel this fits best.
God’s heart ached beyond our ability to describe it …let alone feel it …that is everyone but one man, Hosea, whom God instructed to reunite with his unfaithful spouse and live the trauma the Divine heart was living.
Oh, “raison cakes”? Is this for real!! Yes, in our culture it might be caviar. She was living the life giving herself to rich dudes that lavished attention on her. But was this Hosea’s wife or Israel or both?
Husband vs Master
Hosea 2:16 [NIV] reads “In that day,” declares the LORD, “you will call me ‘my husband’; you will no longer call me ‘my master.’” The difference between master and husband in the Jewish culture of the time is pivotal to an understanding of the message of this prophecy for our time. Ask any married woman what this means! But looking into the culture brings us to a sacred promise: betrothal.
A man betroths (takes) a woman in Ancient Israel, Jezreel—never the reverse. ..And there is a reason. The word carries an old nuance meaning to pay for or take possession of.
Then David sent messengers to say to Ish-bosheth son of Saul, “Give me back my wife, Michal. I was engaged to her for the price of a hundred Philistine foreskins.” 2 Samuel 3:14
Thus Baali or my master takes on a double meaning. Israel worshipped Baal but this brought Israel, like Gomer, into bondage, the sole possession of a cruel master. God’s betrothal meant He purchased Israel as Hosea purchased Gomer back for a price.
I will take you to be my wife forever. I will take you to be my wife in righteousness, justice, love, and compassion. Hosea 2:19
The price of justice and love was Calvary!
P.S. Oh, I think the word “declares” instead of “saith” or “says” is contextually significant as well. No one will agree with me but the Hebrew word is warm and private, personal and secretive. It is a message to the heart not front page news script. Take this for what it seems worth to you, but it fits Hosea 2:19. Our betrothal to Christ is a revelation of His compassion given to us individually in the secrecy of a faith that hears that still small voice of love.
But then I will win her back once again.I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly there to her [Hebrew: to her heart]. Hosea 2:14 NLT
Hosea’s marriage becomes a tale of God’s romance with Israel—and dare I say, the Church. It was a rocky and emotionally painful relationship for both because, in psychological terms, Gomer and Israel—and dare I say the Church—is searching for love without a self identity that accepts it. They have lost their way, spiritually.
A relationship with Baal as her master—and Baal must have a modern interpretation for the Church (Matthew 6:24; Revelation 3:17-18)—was temptingly attractive despite the fact she knew (in her words: Hosea 2:7), “ I will go back to my husband…, for then I was better off than now.”
There is much here to research about the heart of God and the relationship He longs for with us. These first three chapters are but the introduction….