Keil and Delitzsch Commentary - Hosea 3:1 - 3:1

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Keil and Delitzsch Commentary - Hosea 3:1 - 3:1

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“And Jehovah said to me, Go again, and love a woman beloved of her companion, and committing adultery, as Jehovah loveth the children of Israel, and they turn to other gods, and love raisin-cakes.” The purely symbolical character of this divine command is evident from the nature of the command itself, but more especially from the peculiar epithet applied to the wife. עוֹד is not to be connected with וַיֹּאמֶר, in opposition to the accents, but belongs to לֵךְ, and is placed first for the sake of emphasis. Loving the woman, as the carrying out of the divine command in Hos 3:2 clearly shows, is in fact equivalent to taking a wife; and 'âhabh is chosen instead of lâqach, simply for the purpose of indicating at the very outset the nature of the union enjoined upon the prophet. The woman is characterized as beloved of her companion (friend), and committing adultery. רֵעַ denotes a friend or companion, with whom one cherishes intercourse and fellowship, never a fellow-creature generally, but simply the fellow-creature with whom one lives in the closest intimacy (Exo 20:17-18; Exo 22:25, etc.). The רֵעַ (companion) of a woman, who loves her, can only be her husband or paramour. The word is undoubtedly used in Jer 3:1, Jer 3:20, and Son 5:16, with reference to a husband, but never of a fornicator or adulterous paramour. And the second epithet employed here, viz., “committing adultery,” which forms an unmistakeable antithesis to אהבת רע, requires that it should be understood in this instance as signifying a husband; for a woman only becomes an adulteress when she is unfaithful to her loving husband, and goes with other men, but not when she gives up her beloved paramour to live with her husband only. If the epithets referred to the love shown by a paramour, by which the woman had annulled the marriage, this would necessarily have been expressed by the perfect or pluperfect. By the participles אֲהֻבַת and מְנָאֶפֶת, the love of the companion and the adultery of the wife are supposed to be continued and contemporaneous with the love which the prophet is to manifest towards the woman. This overthrows the assertion made by Kurtz, that we have before us a woman who was already married at the time when the prophet was commanded to love her, as at variance with the grammatical construction, and changing the participle into the pluperfect. For, during the time that the prophet loved the wife he had taken, the רֵעַ who displayed his love to her could only be her husband, i.e., the prophet himself, towards whom she stood in the closest intimacy, founded upon love, i.e., in the relation of marriage. The correctness of this view, that the רֵעַ is the prophet as husband, is put beyond all possibility of doubt by the explanation of the divine command which follows. As Jehovah lovers the sons of Israel, although or whilst they turn to other gods, i.e., break their marriage with Jehovah; so is the prophet to love the woman who commits adultery, or will commit adultery, notwithstanding his love, since the adultery could only take place when the prophet had shown to the woman the love commanded, i.e., had connected himself with her by marriage. The peculiar epithet applied to the woman can only be explained from the fact intended to be set forth by the symbolical act itself, and, as we have already shown at p. 22, is irreconcilable with the assumption that the command of God refers to a marriage to be really and outwardly consummated. The words כְּאַהֲבַת יי recal Deu 7:8, and וְהֵם פֹּנִים וגו Deu 31:18. The last clause, “and loving grape-cakes,” does not apply to the idols, who would be thereby represented either as lovers of grape-cakes, or as those to whom grape-cakes were offered (Hitzig), but is a continuation of פֹּנִים, indicating the reason why Israel turned to other gods. Grape or raisin cakes (on 'ăshı̄shâh, see at 2Sa 6:19) are delicacies, figuratively representing that idolatrous worship which appeals to the senses, and gratifies the carnal impulses and desires. Compare Job 20:12, where sin is figuratively described as food which is sweet as new honey in the mouth, but turns into the gall of asps in the belly. Loving grape-cakes is equivalent to indulging in sensuality. Because Israel loves this, it turns to other gods. “The solemn and strict religion of Jehovah is plain but wholesome food; whereas idolatry is relaxing food, which is only sought after by epicures and men of depraved tastes” (Hengstenberg).