New American Bible (Revised Edition)
Hosea and His Wife Reunited[a] 1 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]
2 [c]So I acquired her for myself for fifteen pieces of silver and a homer and a lethech of barley. 3 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.”
4 [d]For the Israelites will remain many days
without king or prince,
Without sacrifice or sacred pillar,
without ephod or household gods.
5 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 3:2 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.
- 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).
- 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.