Tuesday 22 January 2013

Bible Book:

"Therefore, I will now allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her." (v. 14)

Hosea 2:2-17 Tuesday 22 January 2013


Yesterday's passage set out the story ofHosea's unhappy family life; an unfaithful wife Gomer with whom hehas two sons, Jezreel and Lo-ammi and a daughter Lo-ruhamah. Here,in this next chapter, we find Hosea pleading with his children andasking them to persuade their mother to return (verses 1-2).

The anguish caused by Gomer's adultery is very real, andsometimes Hosea's reaction can appear violent in the extreme; ifshe does not return to him, he will "strip her naked and expose heras in the day she was born" (v. 3) and this punishment will extendto her children "because they are children of whoredom" (v. 4).

However, as we read through the chapter it becomes clear thatGomer's adultery may not result simply from a wanton character; itmay be that she is one of the temple prostitutes associated withthe fertility rites of the Canaanite god Baal. Hence Hosea'sdetermination to "put an end to all her mirth, her festivals, hernew moons, her sabbaths and all her appointed festivals" (v.11).

At this point we can also see how Gomer's adultery is being seento represent Israel's faithlessness. It is not simply Hosea, butthe Lord who says "I will punish her for the festival days of theBaals" when Gomer "went after her lovers and forgot me" (v. 13).The link is being made between personal and religiousunfaithfulness.

And yet, for all this, Hosea has not given up on Gomer. Heretains a yearning that she may yet return to him, just as Godlongs for God's own people to return: "Therefore, I will now allureher and bring her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her".His hope is that "she shall respond as in the days of her youth, as… when she came out of the land of Egypt" (v. 15). And "on thatday, says the Lord, you will call me 'My husband', and no longerwill you call me, 'My Baal'" (v. 16, which also contain a play onthe two Hebrew words for husband, "ish" and "ba'al").

To Ponder

  • To what extent is Hosea right to make a link between public andprivate morality, in terms of what happens in the life of hisfamily and the life of the nation?
  • How far it is helpful for us to make a similar link in terms ofour political and religious leaders today?

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