Keil and Delitzsch Commentary - Hosea 3:2 - 3:2

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Keil and Delitzsch Commentary - Hosea 3:2 - 3:2

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“And I acquired her for myself for fifteen pieces of silver, and a homer of barley, and a lethech of barley.” אֶכְּרֶהָ, with dagesh lene or dirimens (Ewald, §28, b), from kârâh, to dig, to procure by digging, then generally to acquire (see at Deu 2:6), or obtain by trading (Job 6:27; 40:30). Fifteen keseph are fifteen shekels of silver; the word shekel being frequently omitted in statements as to amount (compare Ges. §120, 4, Anm. 2). According to Eze 45:11, the homer contained ten baths or ephahs, and a lethech (ἡμίκορος, lxx) was a half homer. Consequently the prophet gave fifteen shekels of silver and fifteen ephahs of barley; and it is a very natural supposition, especially if we refer to 2Ki 7:1; 2Ki 16:18, that at that time an ephah of barley was worth a shekel, in which case the whole price would just amount to the sum for which, according to Exo 21:32, it was possible to purchase a slave, and was paid half in money and half in barley. The reason for the latter it is impossible to determine with certainty. The price generally, for which the prophet obtained the wife, was probably intended to indicate the servile condition out of which Jehovah purchased Israel to be His people; and the circumstance that the prophet gave no more for the wife than the amount at which a slave could be obtained, according to Ecc. 21:32 and Zec 11:12, and that this amount was not even paid in money, but half of it in barley - a kind of food so generally despised throughout antiquity (vile hordeum; see at Num 5:15) - was intended to depict still more strikingly the deeply depressed condition of the woman. The price paid, moreover, is not to be regarded as purchase money, for which the wife was obtained from her parents; for it cannot be shown that the custom of purchasing a bride from her parents had any existence among the Israelites (see my Bibl. Archäologie, ii. §109, 1). It was rather the marriage present (mōhar), which a bridegroom gave, not to the parents, but to the bride herself, as soon as her consent had been obtained. If, therefore, the woman was satisfied with fifteen shekels and fifteen ephahs of barley, she must have been in a state of very deep distress.