Study of Hosea - Chapter 3

Although Chapter 3 of Hosea is brief in comparison to some other chapters, it provides an illustration of the love of God for His people and the price He is willing to pay to redeem us as well as an allusion to the sacrifice Jesus would later make on Calvary. This chapter also provides an example of how a relationship built on love should look and the steps to building a proper relationship.

Chapter 3


1 Then the Lord said to me, “Go and love your wife again, even though she commits adultery with another lover. This will illustrate that the Lord still loves Israel, even though the people have turned to other gods and love to worship them.”2 So I bought her back for fifteen pieces of silver and five bushels of barley and a measure of wine[*]. 3 Then I said to her, “You must live in my house for many days and stop your prostitution. During this time, you will not have sexual relations with anyone, not even with me.”This shows that Israel will go a long time without a king or prince, and without sacrifices, sacred pillars, priests, or even idols! 5 But afterward the people will return and devote themselves to the Lord their God and to David’s descendant, their king. In the last days, they will tremble in awe of the Lord and of his goodness.

Note[*]:  New Living Translation selected here. Some translations include a measure of wine whereas some do not.



The Lord instructs Hosea to retrieve his wife from the house of another man. This is to symbolize God’s love for his people and what He is willing to do to reconcile them to himself despite their sins. Hosea follows the Lord’s instructions and purchases his wife back to him. Hosea and his wife then spend time together but are not intimate for a time. Likewise, Israel will not have an intimate relationship with God for a time. After this period has passed, the people will seek and return to the Lord and then He will bless them.


Contextual Background

Hosea had to purchase his wife back from another man. This implies she was considered property or a slave at this point. There were three primary ways a person could end up a slave: being born to parents who were slaves, being conquered by another nation, or being sold into slavery to pay off a debt. The Bible makes no mention of Hosea being conquered and subjugated so it is likely that his wife went into slavery as a result of debt. The total amount that Hosea paid to redeem his wife was equivalent to six months wages of the average person but was half the average price of a slave. 


Interpretation and Explanation

Some time has passed between Chapters 1 and where Chapter 3 picks up. In Chapter 1 Hosea marries the prostitute Gomer and they have children. In Chapter 2 she is still committing adultery and prostitution. By Chapter 3 she has been sold into slavery, most likely for a debt, and Hosea must pay to get her back. Since these chapters span a large amount of time, I can’t help but wondering how many years Hosea loved his wife, provided for her, and was patient with her despite her serial adultery and rejection of his love. How did he feel through all of this and how does God feel when we continue in our sins and reject Him? We know that Homer and Gomer’s marriage is a living illustration of the relationship between God and His people. In Chapter 2, verse 5 we saw the Israelites had prostituted themselves to false gods and foreign nations for provisions of food, water, fine linens, oils, and wine. They were not satisfied with what the Lord provided and they did not recognize that all of their blessings came from Him. In this same way, it can be interpreted from the scripture that Gomer had a desire for the niceties of life and sold herself to get them. However, this lack of contentment led to her incurring debt to fill her desires which led to her becoming property. Although the Israelites may not have incurred physical debt as a nation, they incurred spiritual debt as a result of their sins. Because of this, a price had to be paid for both Gomer and the Israelites to be redeemed. However, God shows us through Hosea what He is willing to pay the price, whatever it costs, to reconcile us to Him out of love for us.

The Israelites had turned away from the Lord and had instead turned to worshiping other gods. Worse yet, the people loved worshiping these other gods, so not only did they reject God but they were happy to continue their lives without Him – despite all that He had done for them. Talk about insult to injury! However, God makes the choice to love His people despite their sins and despite them reveling in their sins. How great is His love for us! Even when we reject Him and find ourselves in trouble because of our own sins and choices He chooses to love us and He goes out of His way to bring us back to Him.

Matthew 18:12-14 - “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13 And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14 In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.”


Love is a choice – God makes this clear in His choosing to love us despite our sins and rejection of Him. Love is also not easy and it often costs the one who chooses to love wholly and fully. For Hosea, not only did it cost him years of mental and emotional pain but it also cost him 15 pieces of silver, 5 bushels of barley, and some wine. This was prophetic foreshadowing of the Last Supper, crucifixion, and the price that the Lord would pay to redeem us through Jesus. We undoubtedly cause the Lord to grieve due to our sins (Genesis 6:6, Ephesians 4:30). Jesus was betrayed by Judas for 30 pieces of silver (Matthew 26:14), Jesus stated the bread symbolized His body that would be broken, and the wine symbolized the New Covenant in His blood (Matthew 26:26-28). It’s no mere coincidence that Jesus was betrayed for 30 pieces of silver – the price of a slave. Jesus tells us in John 8:34 that we are slaves to sin but He sets us free.  The Bible doesn’t tell us specifically what kind of bread was eaten at the Last Supper. However, this meal occurred during the Festival of Unleavened Bread and historically the bread eaten at this festival was Matzo/Matzah which was made from wheat, spelt, barley, rye or oat. Also, in the feeding of the 5000 in John 6:9 there were 5 barley loaves. Therefore, the price Hosea paid to redeem His wife mirrors the price the Lord later paid to redeem his bride/people.

After Hosea redeemed his wife, they lived in communion but were not intimate for some time. Similarly, at this time Israel no longer knew the Lord and were unclean. They had to go through a season of cleansing and getting to know the Lord again (building a relationship), free from distractions before they could be intimate with Him again (Hosea 3:4 –“without kings, sacrifices, sacred pillars, priests, idols”). Prior to Jesus, intimacy with God or being in the fullness of His presence only occurred in the tabernacle through sacrifices under the leadership of kings and priests. Therefore, for a time during their exile the people of Israel would not have the national leadership or spiritual leadership they were accustomed to due to the leadership failing them in the ways of the Lord. Because of this, the Lord would minister to His people directly. After the period of cleansing then the people would return to Him and devote themselves to Him (Hosea 3:5). This shows us that the Lord indeed washes and cleanses us through Jesus but it is not instantaneous. It is a process and an example of how a marital relationship should be. After Hosea redeemed his wife, they spent time building their relationship before they were intimate. The Lord also showed this with His people so we are supposed to follow this example. Intimacy comes after relationship, not before. In John 13:3-18, after the price was paid (silver, bread, wine), Jesus spent time cleansing His disciples’ feet. This shows us that cleansing from God is a process, not instantaneous, and it only occurs through a relationship with Jesus. Salvation is instantaneous when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, but cleansing and relationship-building is a process.  The disciples had already been washed through their relationship with Jesus so only their feet needed to be cleaned (John 13:10). As an aside, this also points to Ephesians 6:15 regarding “feet with preparation of the Gospel of Peace”. Jesus was anointing and cleansing their feet in preparation of their upcoming journeys to share the Gospel and He reiterated this in John 14:27 – “Peace I leave with you; My Peace I give you.”. As with Hosea and Gomer, the Israelites, and the Disciples, once we have been cleansed and have a relationship with Jesus then we are prepared for the path of our lives that God leads us through. 

God shows us through Hosea, Gomer, and the Israelites that a relationship is established and love is shown by serving the one you love.

John 13:14-17 – “14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”

In this passage, Jesus was essentially saying (paraphrased), “Ego, status, or position doesn’t matter. None of you are greater than I am but yet I showed you love by serving you so you must also do the same for others”. If we look a little deeper at Jesus’ example with His disciples, as well as God’s example with the Israelites, and Hosea with Gomer’s we notice that building a relationship is one-on-one; no leaders, religion, sacrifice, distractions, etc. It is about learning to love the other person and showing them that you love them. Sometimes we get upset with God for removing things and people from our lives or for our seasons in the wilderness. However, He does this to get our attention so that we may draw back to Him and build a relationship. It is only after this that we experience intimacy with the Lord and all that He truly has in store for us – relationship and marriage before intimacy and intimacy before blessing. It is also during the relationship-building process that we learn to trust God and He determines if He can trust us. This is shown when the disciples were separated from Jesus – no religious leaders, teachers, kings, or sacrifices. They were left to reflect on their relationship with Jesus while He was still serving them by leaving to prepare a place for them (John 14:1-4). They were learning to trust Him and His word and promises to them. You build trust when you are building the relationship but before intimacy; and trust is realized when the one you love proves and remains faithful while they are away. Even when God seems far away, He is always working behind the scenes to prove His love to us. This was true for the Israelite in their exile, it was true for the disciples when Jesus was crucified, and it is true for us today.

After the process of cleansing and building a relationship of trust comes the intimacy with God which leads to awe of His glory and goodness (Hosea 3:5). In the relationship building process of the Israelites, they had to trust the promises of the Lord while remaining obedient and faithful to Him. Then he proved His love and faithfulness by fulfilling His promises and restoring and unifying His kingdom (Israel and Judah) after Babylonian captivity. Intimacy with the Lord was again established with the unification of his people and the rebuilding of the Temple. Intimacy with Hosea and Gomer was reestablished after they were reunified in their relationship built on love. Intimacy for the disciples was established when Jesus had risen and given them the Holy Spirit as He had promised.  He validated their trust in Him by remaining faithful to His word and promises. In both situations, the Israelites and disciples devoted themselves to the Lord and their king from the line of David (Jesus) as the Lord had said in Hosea 3:5. Intimacy, both spiritually and physically, is confirmation of a covenant. Jesus’ confirmation of the new covenant would only occur after the price was paid and He returned from the grave to give us the Holy Spirit. Because we have received the Holy Spirit in us as proof of what Jesus did on Calvary, we can now have an intimate and direct relationship with our Heavenly Father. 

Once the covenant has been confirmed and we have an intimate relationship with the Lord then we receive His blessings and goodness that leaves us in awe. Many times in our human relationships as well as our relationship with God we want to skip steps and rush the process. We want the benefits of a marriage without committing to a marriage. We want the blessings of God but we don’t want the relationship with Him. That is not how love is supposed to be and it’s not how we should treat each other nor our Father. Relationship before marriage, marriage before intimacy, and intimacy before blessings. We cannot skip steps. The Israelites went through the process and they received blessings, prosperity, and favor over their nation. The disciples went through the process and they received the Holy Spirit, joy, power, and authority (John 16:22-24, Acts 1:8). The Israelites were in awe of their blessings and the disciples and people were in awe of all that came with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2). For those that the Lord loves and who return His love in faithfulness, after the covenant and intimate relationship He showers us with gifts just as a groom showers His wife with wedding gifts. I know I want to live a life in awe of God and what He does through it. How about you?

Chapter 3 of Hosea shows us how much God truly loves us and the sacrifices He makes to bring us to Him. It shows us how we are to love Him and each other in return and the proper process to build a relationship. It also shows us that God has both an order and a plan to all things for his people then and for us now. What he said to the Israelites then is what He is saying to us now. We must seek Him, love Him as He loves us, love each other as He loves us, and live according to His word and example. Only then can we live the life of fullness and awe that He intends for us.


Key Points and Application

  • God loves us despite our sins and He redeems us even while we are in sin. This does not give us freedom to continue in our sin but it instead gives us freedom in knowing that our sins will not separate us from His love. It illustrates the depth of His love for us – a love that we should reciprocate and not take for granted.
  • When we choose God and accept Jesus into our hearts we start the process of building a relationship. In this process he cleanses us, serves us, and provides for us while we learn to love and serve Him in return.
  • God is holy so we must be cleansed before we can have an intimate relationship with Him but in His love He serves and cleanses us of our sins, pain, and baggage.
  • Building a relationship and being cleansed are both processes. They are not instantaneous and cannot be rushed.
  • After we commit and devote ourselves to Him then the relationship becomes intimate and blessings follow.
  • We cannot and will not experience the fullness of His glory, goodness, and subsequent blessings until after we have built the relationship and fully committed ourselves to Him. God is a God of order (1 Corinthians 14:33) so we must go through the process and steps of building the relationship in the order and manner in which He lays out. We cannot skip steps and we should not try to. We cannot experience the fullness of his goodness any other way, but when we remain faithful and trust the process we will be in awe of Him – for who He is as well as what He does.

God shows us here what true love looks like. His love for us is truly reckless despite us often rejecting His love. Let's challenge ourselves to be better and do better. Let's make the choice to love God and each other just as recklessly as God loves us.