For the purpose of depicting before the eyes of the sinful people the judgment to which Israel has exposed itself through its apostasy from the Lord, Hosea is to marry a prostitute, and beget children by her, whose names are so appointed by Jehovah as to point out the evil fruits of the departure from God. Hos 1:2. “At first, when Jehovah spake to Hosea, Jehovah said to him, God, take thee a wife of whoredom, and children of whoredom; for whoring the land whoreth away from Jehovah.” The marriage which the prophet is commanded to contract, is to set forth the fact that the kingdom of Israel has fallen away from the Lord its God, and is sunken in idolatry. Hosea is to commence his prophetic labours by exhibiting this fact. תְּחִלַּת דִּבֶּר יי: literally, “at the commencement of 'Jehovah spake,'” i.e., at the commencement of Jehovah's speaking (dibber is not an infinitive, but a perfect, and techillath an accusative of time (Ges. §118, 2); and through the constructive the following clause is subordinated to techillath as a substantive idea: see Ges. §123, 3, Anm. 1; Ewald, §332, c.). דִּבֶּר with בְ, not to speak to a person, or through any one (בְ is not = אֶל), but to speak with (lit., in) a person, expressive of the inwardness or urgency of the speaking (cf. Num 12:6, Num 12:8; Hab 2:1; Zec 1:9, etc.). “Take to thyself:” i.e., marry (a wife). אֵשֶׁת זְנוּנִים is stronger than זוֹנָה. A woman of whoredom, is a woman whose business or means of livelihood consists in prostitution. Along with the woman, Hosea is to take children of prostitution as well. The meaning of this is, of course, not that he is first of all to take the woman, and then beget children of prostitution by her, which would require that the two objects should be connected with קַח per zeugma, in the sense of “accipe uxorem et suscipe ex ea liberos” (Drus.), or “sume tibi uxorem forn. et fac tibi filios forn.” (Vulg.). The children begotten by the prophet from a married harlot-wife, could not be called yaldē zenūnı̄m, since they were not illegitimate children, but legitimate children of the prophet himself; nor is the assumption, that the three children born by the woman, according to Hos 1:3, Hos 1:6, Hos 1:8, were born in adultery, and that the prophet was not their father, in harmony with Hos 1:3, “he took Gomer, and she conceived and bare him a son.” Nor can this mode of escaping from the difficulty, which is quite at variance with the text, be vindicated by an appeal to the connection between the figure and the fact. For though this connection “necessarily requires that both the children and the mother should stand in the same relation of estrangement from the lawful husband and father,” as Hengstenberg argues; it neither requires that we should assume that the mother had been a chaste virgin before her marriage to the prophet, nor that the children whom she bare to her husband were begotten in adultery, and merely palmed off upon the prophet as his own. The marriage which the prophet was to contract, was simply intended to symbolize the relation already existing between Jehovah and Israel, and not the way in which it had come into existence. The “wife of whoredoms” does not represent the nation of Israel in its virgin state at the conclusion of the covenant at Sinai, but the nation of the ten tribes in its relation to Jehovah at the time of the prophet himself, when the nation, considered as a whole, had become a wife of whoredom, and in its several members resembled children of whoredom. The reference to the children of whoredom, along with the wife of whoredom, indicates unquestionably à priori, that the divine command did not contemplate an actual and outward marriage, but simply a symbolical representation of the relation in which the idolatrous Israelites were then standing to the Lord their God. The explanatory clause, “for the land whoreth,” etc., clearly points to this. הָאָרֶץ, “the land,” for the population of the land (cf. Hos 4:1). זָנָה מֵאַחֲרֵי יי, to whore from Jehovah, i.e., to fall away from Him (see at Hos 4:12).