Hosea's Two Wives

Many years ago we were visiting a church and the Sunday school began a series on the book of Hosea. We were able to add some comments as to the idea that the ten northern tribes did not disappear forever as is commonly taught by showing the promises in the last few verses of chapter one. The promises show that they would one day be called "Sons of the living God" or Christians and move to new lands mostly toward the north west as shown by the archeological record.

We really did not intend to get into a discussion of plural marriage at any church. During the week before the class progressed to chapter three I needed to check the scripture a little closer. The teacher in the class had made a parting comment about Gomer, Hosea's wife of whoredom, who ran away and had to be bought back. It was one of those studies I had not gotten around to yet. Where did the scripture say Gomer ran away?

Hosea 3:1
Then said Yahweh to me, Go yet, love a woman beloved of her friend, yet an adulteress, according to the love of Yahweh toward the children of Israel, who look to other gods, and love flagons of wine.

I began by asking where the idea that Gomer ran away was found. They based it all on chapter three, verse one. That really does not make sense especially when you consider the phrase, "beloved of her friend". At some point they asked us for our explanation so we said that it sounded more like God had told Hosea to go and marry a friend of Gomer's. Well as you might imagine that evoked anger and even fear. A few times I have been amazed at the response from people. The response was immediate and you could feel the tension. The man who reacted with anger began a tirade while the teacher began trying to reassure everyone that Gomer had really just run away. I don't really remember my response other than maybe, "Wow, new ideas can be dangerous."

The truth of the matter is that we do not really know that Hosea was even single when God told him to take Gomer? Regardless there is a good reason why I believe that God told Hosea to marry two women. The entire book is prophecy and the intention is to show how God was about to punish his two wives. Hosea is primarily about the ten northern tribes, the house of Israel for their punishment was to be more severe.

Originally Israel, after they left Egypt, was a united group of twelve, really thirteen tribes as Joseph was split into two tribes. After Solomon died the nation split into two with the ten northern tribes breaking away and becoming known as the house of Israel. The southern two tribes became known as the house of Judah. Together scripture still referred to them as Israel, but they were two separate nations and God then considered them both his wives.

Ezekiel 23:2, 4
2 Son of man, there were two women, the daughters of one mother:
4 And the names of them were Aholah the elder, and Aholibah her sister: and they were mine, and they bore sons and daughters. Thus were their names; Samaria is Aholah, and Jerusalem Aholibah.

You should really read the entire chapter, but verse two shows that God considered that as the nation split into two the two nations were considered as two women. Verse four shows that the two women bore children for God as his wives. God then identified them, Samaria was the capital city of the northern ten tribes while the house of Judah remained at Jerusalem. By the way, it was shortly after this split that we find the first instance of the word Jew in scripture. It is a poor translation for Judah who was at that time fighting with the house of Israel. Thus one can say that the first time the word Jew is found in scripture they, actually Judah, were fighting against Israel. It is one way I use to show that the word Jew does not ever include all twelve tribes of Israel. In the new testament it can include anyone living at Judea, descendant of Jacob/Israel or not which makes it hard sometimes to understand who is being discussed.

All of the above is to show that the idea of Hosea taking two wives fits in with what was actually happening and about to happen. The primary prophecy was that the house of Israel was about to be divorced by God and sent into the Assyrian captivity. This captivity actually included almost all of the house of Judah as well, both wives were to a degree involved. Only Jerusalem and a few surrounding towns were left behind. Jerusalem had a real attitude problem after this as they felt self justified since they were left behind. Remember though that those taken were not with out hope. They were never to be allowed to return to their old land, but they were given hope that one day they would be remarried to God as the last few verses of chapter one of Hosea promises.

So God had Hosea marry two women, but it was not the act of marrying two women that makes the prophecy. They were just the props for the prophecy.

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