HOSEA AND HIS HARLOT
Dr. Greg Smith
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
In Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements for BIB 1203-B
April 20, 2012
HOSEA AND HIS HARLOT
“CAN I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE?!? Would the WHORE who intends to be unfaithful to her husband and desires to please her flesh, despite her covenant marriage to her husband, please step forward?!” This may not be an exact quote, but it is certainly the idea God intended for his prophet, Hosea. Hosea was the man God chose to deliver a message to the northern tribes. This message would be like no other message in history. God told Hosea to take a “woman of whoredom”, named Gomer and make her his wife (Hos. 1:2). This relationship will demonstrate how all of Israel has forsaken YHWH. If this wasn’t enough, God called Hosea to father children with the harlot.
One of the primary debates surrounding the text is whether or not Gomer was a prostitute before she was married to Hosea and if she already had children. This may seem insignificant, but it has huge implications on the theology of the rest of the book. In chapters 1-3, we hear of children whom God refers to as not being of Him and children who are. There is more debate surrounding how many children were actually involved. Were there 2 different sets of children or one set whose names were changed upon the marriage and subsequent adoption by Hosea?
This paper will seek to explore these different questions. In the first section, Hosea’s marriage itself will be fleshed out. Questions will be answered and evidence given to prove that Gomer was an active prostitute when she met and married Hosea. This evidence will be given through surveying the arguments that surround the marriage. Once this basis is established, section two will delve into the theological implications this marriage brings forth. Questions addressing the biological father of the children named in chapters one and three will be explored along with several other theological high points of the book. Finally, a conclusion will be presented that summarizes the arguments and brings the paper full-circle back to the original question of Gomer’s sexual purity at the time of marriage. Hosea’s Marriage
Hosea is commanded to “take to [himself] a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom” (Hosea 1:2). The primary purpose of the book is to pronounce God’s judgment on Israel for turning their hearts to Baal. This would explain the lack of detail in Hosea’s personal story. While Hosea’s life is supposed to illustrate God’s love for Israel, it is not an exhaustive account of the prophet’s relationship to Gomer. The brevity used to highlight God’s commands in chapter one leaves a myriad of questions to be answered. The first question surrounding the marriage was Gomer’s state of harlotry at the time of marriage. One theory states that it is impossible for Hosea to have actually married an active harlot because YHWH would have never sanctioned a marriage between one of his holy prophets and a woman of ill repute. Many who hold to this theory would argue that Hosea’s marriage to Gomer was an allegory and that none of the text should be taken literally. While this theory is plausible, it is highly unlikely because most allegories have an exact parallel assigned to each character in the story. Although the relationships of Hosea and Gomer represent that of God and his people, there is not enough detail in other parts of the story to indicate this would be an allegory. Another theory claims Gomer was chaste at the time of marriage, but had harlotry in her heart. This certainly makes sense and sounds reasonable until the children are brought into the picture. When YHWH commands Hosea to take a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, the word have is not in the Hebrew text. Literally, the text reads, “Take a...
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