Hosea 3:2-5

2. So I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver, and for an homer of barley, and an half homer of barley:

2. Et acquisivi eam mihi quindecim argenteis et uno homer (vertunt, corum, Graeci interpretes; uno coro) hordei et dimidio coro hordei.

3. And I said unto her, Thou shalt abide for me many days; thou shalt not play the harlot, and thou shalt not be for another man: so will I also be for thee.

3. Et dixi ad eam, Diebus multis sedebis mihi, non scortaberis et non eris viro (hoc est, manebis vidua vel coelebs) et ego etiam ad te (nempe, respiciam; vel, tibi spondeo me fore maritum, ubi expertus fuero tuam resipiscentiam: alii vertunt, Et ego ad te non accedam; sed videtur hoc esse nimis coactum: ideo magis arridet Hieronymi interpretatio, Ego te expectabo.)

4. For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim:

4. Quia diebus multis sedebunt filii Israel sine rege, et sine principe, et sine sacrificio, et sine statua, et sine ephod, et sine theraphim.

5. Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; and shall fear the Lord and his goodness in the latter days.

5. Postea convertentur (vel, redibunt) filii Israel et quaerent Jehovam Deum suum, et David regem suum, et timebunt ad Jehovam et ad bonitatem ejus in extermitate dierum.


These verses have been read together, for in these four the Prophet explains the vision presented to him. He says, first, that he had done what had been enjoined him by God; which was conveyed to him by a vision, or in a typical form, that by such an exhibition he might impress the minds of the people: I bought, he says, a wife for fifteen silverings, and for a corus of barley and half a corus; that is, for a corus 1 and a half. He tells us in this verse that he had bought the wife whom he was to take for a small price. By the fifteen silverings and the corus and half of barley is set forth, I have no doubt, her abject and mean condition. Servants, we know, were valued at thirty shekels of silver when hurt by an ox, (Exodus 21:32.) But the Prophet gives her for his wife fifteen silvering; which seemed a contemptible gift. But then the Lord shows, that though he would but scantily support his people in exile, they would still be dear to him, as when a husband loves his wife though he does not indulge her, when that would be inexpedient: overmuch indulgence, as it is well known, has indeed often corrupted those who have gone astray. When a husband immediately pardons an adulterous wife, and receives her with a smiling countenance, and fawningly humbles himself by laying aside his own right and authority, he acts foolishly, and by his levity ruins his wife: but when a husband forgives his wife, and yet strictly confines her within the range of duty, and restrains his own feelings, such a moderate course is very beneficial and shows no common prudence in the husband; who, though he is not cruel, is yet not carried away by foolish love. This, then is what the Prophet means, when he says, that he had given for his wife fifteen silverings and a corus and half of barley. Respectable women did not, indeed, live on barley. The Prophets then, gave to his wife, not wheat-flour, nor the fine flour of wheat, but black bread and coarse food; yea, he gave her barley as her allowance, and in a small quantity, that his wife might have but a scanty living. We now then understand the Prophet's meaning.

Some elicit a contrary sense, that the Lord would splendidly and sumptuously support the wife who had been an adulteress; but this view by no means harmonizes with the Prophet's design, as we have already seen. Besides, the words themselves lead us another way. Jerome, as his practice is, refines in allegorizing. He says, that the people were bought for fifteen silverings, because they came out of Egypt on the fifteenth day of the month; and then he says, that as the Hebrew homer contains thirty bushels, they were bought for a corus and half, which is forty-five bushels. because the law was promulgated forty-five days after. But these are puerile trifles. Let then the simple view which I have given be sufficient for us, -- that God, though he favored her, not immediately with the honor of a wife and liberal support, yet ceased not to love her. Thus we see the minds of the faithful were sustained to bear patiently their calamities; for it is an untold consolation to know that God loves us. If a testimony respecting his love moderates not our sorrows, we are very ill-natured and ungrateful.

The Prophet then more clearly proves in these words, that God loved his people, though he seemed to be alienated from them. He might have wholly destroyed them: he yet supplied them with food in their exile. The people indeed lived in the greatest straits; and all delicacies were no doubt taken from them, and their fare was very sordid and very scanty: but the Prophet forbids them to measure God's favor by the smallness of what was given them; for though God would not immediately receive into favor a wife who had been an adulteress, yet he wished her to continue his wife.

Hence he adds, I said to her, For many days shalt thou tarry for me, and thou shalt not become wanton, and thou shalt not be for any man, that is, 'Thou shalt remain a widow; for it is for this reason that I still retain thee, to find out whether thou wilt sincerely repent. I would not indeed be too easy towards thee, lest I should by indulgence corrupt thee: I shall see what thy conduct will be: you must in the meantime continue a widow.' This, then was God's small favor which remained for the people, even a sort of widowhood. God might, indeed, as we have said, have utterly destroyed his people: but he mitigated his wrath and only punished them with exile, and in the meantime, proved that he was not forgetful of his banished people. Though then he only bestowed some scanty allowance, he yet did not wholly deprive them of food, nor suffer them to perish through want. This treatment then in reality is set forth by this representation, that the Prophet had bidden his wife to remain single.

He says, And I also shall be for thee: why does he say, I also? A wife, already joined to her husband, has no right to pledge her faith to another. Then the Prophet shows that Israel was held bound by the Lord, that they might not seek another connection, for his faith was pledged to them. Hence he says, I also shall be for thee; that is, 'I pledge my faith to thee, or, I subscribe myself as thy husband: but another time must be looked for; I yet defer my favor, and suspend it until thou givest proof of true repentance.' "I also", he says, "shall be for thee"; that is, 'Thou shalt not be a widow in vain, if thou complainest that wrong is done to thee, because I forbid thee to marry any one else, I also bind myself in turn to thee.' Now then is evident the mutual compact between God and his people, so that the people, though a state of widowhood be full of sorrows ought not yet to succumb to grief, but to keep themselves exclusively for God, till the time of their full and complete deliverance, because he says, that he will remain true to his pledge. "I will then be thine: though at present, I admit thee not into the honor of wives, I will not yet wholly repudiate thee."

But how does this view harmonize with the first prediction, according to which God seems to have divorced his people? Their concurrence may be easily explained. The Prophet indeed said, that the body of the people would be alienated from God: but here he addresses the faithful only. Lest then the minds of those who were healable should despond, the Prophet sets before them this comfort which I have mentioned, -- that though they were to continue, as it were, single, yet the Lord would remain, as it were, bound to them, so as not to adopt another people and reject them. But we shall presently see that this prediction regards in common the Gentiles as well as the Jews and Israelites.

He afterwards adds, For many days shall the children of Israel abide. He says, for many days, that they might prepare themselves for long endurance, and be not dispirited through weariness, though the Lord should not soon free them from their calamities. "Though then your exile should be long, still cherish," he says, "strong hope in your hearts; for so long a trial must necessarily be made of your repentance; as you have very often pretended to return to the Lord, and soon after your hypocrisy was discovered; and then ye became hardened in your wilful obstinacy: it is therefore necessary that the Lord should subdue you by a long chastisement." Hence he says, The children of Israel shall abide without a king and without a prince.

But it may still be further asked, What is the number of the days of which the Prophet speaks, for the definite number is not stated here; and we know that the exile appointed for the Jews was seventy years? (Jeremiah 29:10.) But the Prophet seems here to extend his prediction farther, even to the time of Christ. To this I answer, that here he refers simply to the seventy years; though, at the same time, we must remember that those who returned not from exile were supported by this promise, and hoped in the promised Mediator: but the Prophet goes not beyond that number, afterwards prefixed by Jeremiah. It is not to be wondered at, that the Prophet had not computed the years and days; for the time of the captivity, that is, of the last captivity, was not yet come. Shortly after, indeed, four tribes were led away, and then the ten, and the whole kingdom of Israel was destroyed: but the last ruin of the whole people was not yet so near. It was therefore not necessary to compute then the years; but he speaks of a long time indefinitely, and speaks of the children of Israel and says, They shall abide without a king and without a prince: and inasmuch as they placed their trust in their king, and thought themselves happy in having this one distinction, a powerful king, he says, They shall abide without a king, without a prince. He now explains their widowhood without similitudes: hence he says, They shall be without a king and a prince, that is, there shall be among them no kind of civil government; they shall be like a mutilated body without a head; and so it happened to them in their miserable dispersion.

And without a sacrifice, he says, and without a statue. The Hebrews take hbum, metsabe, often in a bad sense, though it means generally a statue, as a monument over a grave is called hbum, metsabe,: but the Prophet seems to speak here of idols, for he afterwards adds, Myprt "teraphim"; and teraphim were no doubt images, (Genesis 31:19-30,) which the superstitious used while worshipping their fictitious gods, as we read in many places. The king of Babylon is said to have consulted the teraphim; and it is said that Rachel stole the teraphim, and shortly after Laban calls the teraphim his gods. But the Hebrews talk idly when they say that these images were made of a constellation, and that they afterwards uttered words: but all this has been invented, and we know what liberty they take in devising fables. The meaning is, that God would take away from the people of Israel all civil order, and then all sacred rites and ceremonies, that they might abide as a widow, and at the same time know, that they were not utterly rejected by God without hope of reconciliation.

It is asked, why "ephod" is mentioned; for the priesthood continued among the tribe of Judah, and the ephod, it is well known, was a part of the sacerdotal dress. To this I answer, that when Jeroboam introduced false worship, he employed this artifice -- to make religion among the Israelites nearly like true religion in its outward form: for it seems to have been his purpose that it should vary as little as possible from the legitimate worship of God: hence he said,

'It is grievous and troublesome to you to go up to Jerusalem; then let us worship God here,' (1 Kings 12:28.)

But he pretended to change nothing; he would not appear to be an apostate, departing from the only true God. What then? "God may be worshipped without trouble by us here; for I will build temples in several places, and also erect altars: what hinders that sacrifices should not be offered to God in many places?" There is therefore no doubt but that he made his altars according to the form of the true altar, and also added the ephod and various ceremonies, that the Israelites might think that they still continued in the true worship of God.

But it follows, Afterwards shall the children of Israel return and seek Jehovah their God, and David their king. Here the Prophet shows by the fruit of their chastisement, that the Israelites had no reason to murmur or clamour against God, as though he treated them with too much severity; for if he had stretched out his hand to them immediately, there would have been in them no repentance: but when thoroughly cleansed by long correction, they would then truly and sincerely confess their God. We then see that this comfort is set forth as arising from the fruit of chastisement, that the Israelites might patiently bear the temporary wrath of God. Afterwards, he says, they shall return; as though he said, "They are now led away headlong into their impiety, and they can by no means be restrained except by this long endurance of evils."

They shall therefore return, and then will they seek Jehovah their God. The name of the only true God is set here in opposition, as before, to all Baalim. The Israelites, indeed, professed to worship God; but Baalim, we know, were at the same time in high esteem among them, who were so many gods, and had crept into the place of God, and extinguished his pure worship: hence the Prophet says not simply, They shall seek God, but they shall "seek Jehovah their God". And there is here an implied reproof in the word Myhla"Elohehem"; for it intimates that they were drawn aside into ungodly superstitions, that they were without the true God, that no knowledge of him existed among them; though God had offered himself to them, yea, had familiarly held intercourse with them, and brought them up as it were in his bosom, as a father his own children. Hence the Prophet indirectly upbraids them for this great wickedness when he says, They shall seek their God. And who is this God? He is even Jehovah. They had hitherto formed for themselves vain gods: and though, he says, they had been deluded by their own devices, they shall now know the only true God, who from the beginning revealed himself to them even as their God. He afterwards adds a second clause respecting King David: but I cannot now finish the subject.


Grant, Almighty God, that as thou often dost justly hide thy face from us, so that on every side we see nothing but evidences of thy dreadful judgment, -- O grant, that we, with minds raised above the scene of this world, may at the same time cherish the hope which thou constantly settest before us, so that we may feel fully persuaded that we are loved by thee, however severely thou mayest chastise us and may this consolation so support and sustain our souls, that patiently enduring whatever chastisements thou mayest lay upon us, we may ever hold fast the reconciliation which thou hast promised to us in Christ thy Son. Amen.

Lecture Ninth

We have now to consider the second clause, respecting King David. The Prophet tells us, that when the Israelites shall be moved with the desire of seeking God, they shall also seek David their king. They had, as it is well known, departed from their allegiance to him; though God had set David over the whole people for this end, -- that they might all be happy under his power and dominion, and remain safe and secure, as though they beheld God with their own eyes; for David was, as it were, the angel of God. Then the revolt of the people, or of the ten tribes, was like a renunciation of the living God. The Lord said to Samuel,

'Thee have they not despised, but rather me,'
(1 Samuel 8:7:)

this must have been much more the case with regard to David, whom Samuel, by God's command, had anointed, and whom the Lord had honored with so many bright commendations; they could not have cast away his yoke, without openly rejecting, as it were, God himself. Hence Hosea, speaking of the people's repentance, does not, without reasons distinctly mention this, that they shall return to David their king: for they could not sincerely and from the heart seek God, without subjecting themselves to that lawful authority to which they had been bound, not by men, nor by chance, but by God's command.

It is indeed true that David was then dead; but Hosea sets forth here, in the person of one man, that everlasting kingdom, which the Jews knew would endure as the sun and moon: for well known to them all was this remarkable promise,

'As long as the sun and moon shall shine in heaven, they shall be faithful witnesses to me, that the throne of David shall continue,' (Psalm 72:5,18.)

Hence, after the death of David, the Prophet shows here that his kingdom would be forever, for he survived in his children; and, as it evidently appears, they commonly called their Messiah the son of David. We must now of necessity come to Christ: for Israel could not seek their king, David, who had been long dead; but were to seek that King whom God had promised from the posterity of David. This prophecy, then, no doubt extends to Christ: and it is evident that the only hope of the people being gathered was this, that God had testified that he would give a Redeemer.

We now then see what the Prophet had in view: the Israelites had become degenerate; and, by their perfidy, they ceased to be the true and genuine people of God, as long as they continued alienated from the family of David. The Prophet, speaking of their full restoration, now joins David with God; for they could not be restored to the body of the Church, without uniting with the Jews in honoring one and the same head. But we must, at the same time, remember, that the king, whom the Prophet mentions, is not David, who had been long dead, but his son, to whom the perpetuity of his kingdom had been promised.

This doctrine is especially useful to us; for it shows that God is not to be sought except in Christ the mediator. Whosoever, then, forsakes Christ, forsakes God himself; for as John says,

'He who has not the Son, has not the Father,' (1 John 2:23.)

And the thing itself proves this; for God dwells in light inaccessible; how great, then is the distance between us and him? Except Christ, then, presents himself to us as a middle person, how can we come to God? But then only we begin really to seek God, when we turn our eyes to Christ, who willingly offers himself to us. This is the only way of seeking God aright.

Some, with more refinement, contend, that Christ is Jehovah, because the Prophet says, that he is to be sought not otherwise than as God is. By the word, seeking, the Prophet indeed means, that the Israelites bad no other way of being safe and secure than by fleeing under the guardianship and protection of their legitimate king, whom they knew to have been divinely ordained for them. This, then, would not be sufficient to confute the Jews. I take the passage in a simpler way, as meaning, that they would seek their God in the person of the king, whose hand and efforts God intended to employ in the preservation of the people.

It further follows, And they shall fear Jehovah and his goodness in the last day". The verb dxp, peched, means sometimes; to dread, to be frightened as they are who are so terrified as to lose all courage. But in this place it is to be taken in a good sense, to fear, as it appears evident from the context. Then he says, They shall fear God and his goodness. The Israelites had before shaken off the yoke of God: for it was a proof of wanton contempt in them to build a new temple; to devise, at their own will, a new religion; and, in a word, to allow themselves an unbridled licentiousness. Hence he says, They shall hereafter begin to fear God, and shall continue in his service.

And he adds, and his goodness; by which he means that God would not be dreaded by them, but that he would sweetly allure them to himself, that they might obey him spontaneously and freely, and even joyfully: and doubtless God does then only make us really to fear him, when he gives us a taste of his goodness. For God's majesty strikes terror into us; and we, in the meantime, seek hiding places; and were it possible for us to withdraw from him, each of us would do so gladly; but it is not to worship God with due honor, when we flee away from him. It is then a sense of his goodness that leads us reverentially to fear him. 'With thee,' says David, 'is forgiveness, that thou mayest be feared,' (Psalm 130:4:) for except men know God to be ready to be at peace with them, and feel assured that he will be propitious to them, no one will seek him, no one will fear him, for without knowing this, we could not but wish his glory to be abolished and extinguished, and that he should be without authority, lest he should become our judge. But every one who has tasted of God's goodness, so orders himself as to obey God.

What the Prophet then means when he says, They shall then fear God, is this, that they shall understand that they were miserable as long as they were alienated from him, and that true happiness is to submit to his authority.

But further, this goodness is to be referred to Christ. Some take wbwj thubu, for glory, as in Exodus 33; but the connection of this passage requires the word to be taken in its proper sense. And God's goodness, we know, is so exhibited to us in Christ, that not a particle of it is to be sought for anywhere else: for from this fountain must we draw whatever refers to our salvation and happiness of life. Let us then know that God cannot from the heart be worshipped by us, except when we behold him in the person of his Son, and know him to be a kind Father to us: hence John says,

'He who honors not the Son, honors not the Father,'
(John 5:23.)

Lastly, he adds, In the extremity of days; for the Prophet wished again to remind the Israelites of what he had said before, -- that they had need of long affliction, by which God would by degrees reform them. He then shows that their perverseness was such, that they would not soon be brought into a right mind; but that this would be in the extremity of days. At the same time he relieves the minds of the godly, that they might not, through weariness, grow faint: for though they were not at first to taste of God s goodness, the Prophet reminds them that there was no reason to despair, because the Lord would manifest his goodness in the extremity of days. We may add, that this extremity of days had its beginning at the return of the people. When liberty was granted to the Jews to return to their own country, it was the extremity or fulness of days, of which the Prophet speaks. But a continued series from the people's return to the coming of Christ, must at the same time be understood; for the Lord then performed more fully what he declares here by his Prophet. Hence everywhere in Scripture, especially in the New Testament, the manifestation of Christ is placed in the last times. This chapter is now explained. The fourth now follows.

1 A Hebrew measure, containing 30 bushels, the load of a camel. --Ed.