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When Yahweh began to speak with Hosea, Yahweh said to Hosea,
“Go, take for yourself a wife of prostitution
and have children of prostitution;
for the land commits great adultery,
forsaking Yahweh.” Bible

“Go, take for yourself a wife of prostitution and have children of prostitution.” The Hebrew text is brief and powerful, but it can make meaning unclear. A “wife of prostitution” is a prostitute, and given the situation that Israel was in, given over to the worship of Baal and other pagan gods, it is quite possible that this prostitute was a temple prostitute in one of the pagan temples. In the Old Testament God often required prophets to act out the lesson that God wanted to show to the people. In this case, Israel had abandoned her legitimate “husband” (she had made a covenant to be faithful at Sinai; Exod. 24:3-8), and had gone after other gods, and God used the example of Hosea to show Israel how they were behaving.

The meaning of the phrase “children of prostitution” is not exactly clear. Grammatically, it can mean have children by Gomer, the prostitute, or it can mean have children who will become prostitutes themselves, or it can mean both those things, and some scholars suggest that Hosea was to marry Gomer who already had children through her prostitution. However, because Hosea could not determine what his children would grow up to do, the most likely meaning is “have children by the prostitute” (cp. CJB; NJB; GWN).

“the land commits great adultery.” In this case, “the land” is put by metonymy for the people who live on the land, but as we know from so many other scriptures, when the people of the land sin, the land itself is affected (see commentary on Lev. 18:25).


Commentary for: Hosea 1:2