Ho 3:1-5. Israel's Condition in Their Present Dispersion, Subsequent to Their Return from Babylon, Symbolized.
The prophet is to take back his wife, though unfaithful, as foretold in Ho 1:2. He purchases her from her paramour, stipulating she should wait for a long period before she should be restored to her conjugal rights. So Israel is to live for a long period without her ancient rites of religion, and yet be free from idolatry; then at last she shall acknowledge Messiah, and know Jehovah's goodness restored to her.
1. Go yet -- |Go again,| referring to Ho 1:2 [Henderson].
a woman -- purposely indefinite, for thy wife, to express the separation in which Hosea had lived from Gomer for her unfaithfulness.
beloved of her friend -- used for |her husband,| on account of the estrangement between them. She was still beloved of her husband, though an adulteress; just as God still loved Israel, though idolatrous (Jer 3:20). Hosea is told, not as in Ho 1:2, |take a wife,| but |love| her, that is, renew thy conjugal kindness to her.
who look to other gods -- that is, have done so heretofore, but henceforth (from the return from Babylon) shall do so no more (Ho 3:4).
flagons of wine -- rather, pressed cakes of dried grapes, such as were offered to idols (Jer 7:18) [Maurer].
2. I bought her -- The price paid is too small to be a probable dowry wherewith to buy a wife from her parents; but it is just half the price of a female slave, in money, the rest of the price being made up in grain (Ex 21:32). Hosea pays this for the redemption of his wife, who has become the slave of her paramour. The price being half grain was because the latter was the allowance of food for the slave, and of the coarsest kind, not wheat, but barley. Israel, as committing sin, was the slave of sin (Joh 8:34; Ro 6:16-20; 2Pe 2:19). The low price expresses Israel's worthlessness.
3. abide for me -- separate from intercourse with any other man, and remaining for me who have redeemed thee (compare De 21:13).
so will I also be for thee -- remain for thee, not taking any other consort. As Israel should long remain without serving other gods, yet separate from Jehovah; so Jehovah on His part, in this long period of estrangement, would form no marriage covenant with any other people (compare Ho 3:4). He would not immediately receive her to marriage privileges, but would test her repentance and discipline her by the long probation; still the marriage covenant would hold good, she was to be kept separated for but a time, not divorced (Isa 50:1); in God's good time she shall be restored.
4. The long period here foretold was to be one in which Israel should have no civil polity, king, or prince, no sacrifice to Jehovah, and yet no idol, or false god, no ephod, or teraphim. Exactly describing their state for the last nineteen centuries, separate from idols, yet without any legal sacrifice to Jehovah, whom they profess to worship, and without being acknowledged by Him as His Church. So Kimchi, a Jew, explains it. The ephod was worn by the high priest above the tunic and robe. It consisted of two finely wrought pieces which hung down, the one in front over the breast, the other on the back, to the middle of the thigh; joined on the shoulders by golden clasps set in onyx stones with the names of the twelve tribes, and fastened round the waist by a girdle (Ex 28:6-12). The common ephod worn by the lower priests, Levites, and any person performing sacred rites, was of linen (2Sa 6:14; 1Ch 15:27). In the breast were the Urim and Thummim by which God gave responses to the Hebrews. The latter was one of the five things which the second temple lacked, and which the first had. It, as representing the divinely constituted priesthood, is opposed to the idolatrous |teraphim,| as |sacrifice| (to Jehovah) is to |an (idolatrous) image.| |Abide| answers to |thou shalt abide for me| (Ho 3:3). Abide in solitary isolation, as a separated wife. The teraphim were tutelary household gods, in the shape of human busts, cut off at the waist (as the root of the Hebrew word implies) [Maurer], (Ge 31:19, 30-35). They were supposed to give responses to consulters (2Ki 23:24; Eze 21:21, Margin; Zec 10:2). Saul's daughter, Michal, putting one in a bed, as if it were David, proves the shape to have been that of a man.
5. Afterward -- after the long period (|many days,| Ho 3:4) has elapsed.
return -- from their idols to |their God,| from whom they had wandered.
David their king -- Israel had forsaken the worship of Jehovah at the same time that they forsook their allegiance to David's line. Their repentance towards God is therefore to be accompanied by their return to the latter. So Judah and Israel shall be one, and under |one head,| as is also foretold (Ho 1:11). That representative and antitype of David is Messiah. |David| means |the beloved.| Compare as to Messiah, Mt 3:17; Eph 1:6. Messiah is called David (Isa 55:3, 4; Jer 30:9; Eze 34:23, 24; 37:24, 25).
fear the Lord and his goodness -- that is, tremblingly flee to the Lord, to escape from the wrath to come; and to His goodness,| as manifested in Messiah, which attracts them to Him (Jer 31:12). The |fear| is not that which |hath torment| (1Jo 4:18), but reverence inspired by His goodness realized in the soul (Ps 130:4).
the latter days -- those of Messiah [Kimchi].