Hosea and Gomer: Two Tormented Souls

Posted on June 6, 2019

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By David Ettinger

This is a fictional telling of the Biblical account.

In his 42 years, Hosea had never been to the Samaritan slave market.

And now, as he snaked his way through its crowded streets, he felt dirty, contaminated, unholy. Oh Gomer, he cried silently over his fallen wife, how could your path have possibly led you to this place?

Feeling overcome, Hosea found an empty stool near a food vendor’s stall and sat. He needed time to regain his wits – and to think back 10 years to when this tragedy all began.

It had been a particularly trying day for the-then 32-year-old prophet. “Hear the word of the LORD, you Israelites,” he boomed in the courtyards of the temple of Samaria, the capital of Israel’s northern kingdom. “The LORD has a charge to bring against you who live in the land: ‘There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God in the land. There is only cursing, lying and murder, stealing and adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed.”[1]

The Israelites scurried like insects when the thunderous prophet hurled the Lord’s condemnation at them, running as fast as they could to flee his voracious denunciations. As Hosea left the pagan temple, he felt the burden and loneliness of God’s call upon him. He needed time with God, and retreated to the hills just outside his home, the place where he could pour his heart out to the Lord and receive comfort in return.

“Oh Lord, the weight you have placed on me his heavy. Though I honor your call, Lord, I so desire your peace.”

“Hosea,” the Lord answered within the quiet of the prophet’s soul, “take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness, because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the LORD.”[2]

The prophet froze, dumbfounded by what he had just heard. He waited to hear more, but the Lord was silent. God had made His will clear. It took a day for Hosea to comprehend what the Lord had told him, but knew that obedience must supersede his confusion. Two days later, he visited a neighbor, a farmer by the name of Diblaim. He had often approached the prophet, pleading with him to marry his beautiful daughter, Gomer. “I know she is somewhat simple and unsteady, but is she not beautiful, man of God?” Diblaim touted, trying to make the sale. “She will provide you with sons – many of them.”

Diblaim was right about one thing – at age 17, Gomer was indeed beautiful. Arrangements were made that week and a betrothal was entered into. Over the next year, Hosea and Gomer spent most evenings together getting to know each other. Gomer was rather simple, but also youthful, warm, and full of life. And against every instinct he had, knowing what lay ahead, Hosea fell in love with her.

The first year of marriage was wonderful. The second was more challenging. “Husband,” Gomer said to him one night, “why do the people hate you as they do?”

“I speak the truth to them, and they do not want to hear it.”

“Must you always speak so?”

“I must speak whatever the Lord tells me to speak.”

“But …”

“What is wrong, Gomer? Why such questions. You know that I have been called by God for such a mission.”

“I know, dear husband, but it is just that the people have started to ridicule me in the marketplace.”

“Who, Gomer? Who dares insult you?”

“No one I can identify. I hear their taunts from a distance.”

“Nonetheless, Gomer. I cannot stop speaking the word of the Lord. Perhaps Hoglah can begin doing the shopping for us. She is a reliable servant; we can certainly depend on her.”

“But husband, I love going to the marketplace.”

Over the next few months, the situation worsened. “Hosea,” Gomer would complain, “I do not understand this God of yours at all. Does He want to make my life miserable? Does He take joy in tormenting me?”

Hosea tried explaining, but Gomer did not want to hear. In the third year of their marriage, Gomer became pregnant. The couple’s first child was a boy. “The Lord has commanded me to name him Jezreel,” Hosea proclaimed.

“What sort of name is this?” Gomer objected. “It is the name of a city. It defies logic.”

“Nonetheless, my love, God has a purpose. The child’s name symbolizes Israel’s sin.”

Gomer still did not understand. During their fourth year of marriage, the couple was drifting further and further apart. Disturbing rumors were beginning to circulate about Gomer. She had been seen entering another man’s home while Hosea preached. He buried the words deep in his consciousness.

In their fifth year of marriage, Gomer again became pregnant. The couple welcomed a beautiful girl to their family. “The Lord has ordained that we call her Lo-Ruhamah,” Hosea declared.

“Lo-Ruhamah?” Gomer puzzled. “ ‘Not loved?’ But this is preposterous, my husband. Look at her, Hosea? How can you name this precious child ‘Not Loved?’ ”

Hosea knew an explanation would be futile.

By year six, the marriage was all but dead, and yet the prophet still loved his straying wife. Year seven saw the birth of a third child. “The Lord has named him Lo-Ammi, for, says the Lord to Israel, ‘you are not my people, and I am not your God.’ ”[3]

Gomer’s eyes were cold and unblinking. “Nor is your God my God, Hosea.”

Gomer came to detest her husband and his God. In the eighth year, Hosea returned home one day and was greeted by their servant. “Sir,” Hoglah said, tears streaming. “Gomer is gone.”

“What do you mean?”

“She told me she is leaving and will never return to you. That life with you …”

“Please, Hoglah, feel free to speak.”

“That life with you is unbearable.”

Hosea sat down, overcome. “But perhaps,” Hoglah ventured, “it is for the best.”

“How can say such a thing, Hoglah?”

“Well, sir, I mean, you know what she has been like.”

“What are you talking about, Hoglah?”

“Oh sir! You have blinded yourself to the truth. Could you not see that though your oldest child bears a striking resemblance to you, your two youngest look nothing like you? Have you never noticed that, sir?”

Yes, he knew it, and knew it well. The next year was misery for Hosea, his only solace being Hoglah, who served as a mother to the children. He had no idea what he would have done without her.

Then, two years following Gomer’s departure, Hosea heard a knock on the door. It was a woman. “Sir,” she said nervously. “I come with news of your wife.”

“Who are you?”

“The daughter of the last man she lived with.”

Hosea shuddered and invited her in. “Your wife has been living with us for a month as a servant.”

“Where?”

“In Jezreel.”

“Before that, she had been serving as a shrine prostitute in the temple …”

Hosea felt his soul shatter. “One day, she begged my father – a frequent visitor to the temple – to take her away from such a life. She offered to become a servant in our house. My father agreed, but, sadly, she proved inept and we could no longer keep her. My father suggested she return home. The morning she left us, I asked her where she was going.”

“What did she say?”

“She told me that she was the wife of the prophet Hosea – which shocked me – but that you would never accept her back.” Hosea was on the verge of tears. “She told me that she would offer herself in the Samaria slave market to anyone who would have her. She desired to be taken far from Israel.”

That night, Hosea prayed, and God responded. “Hosea,” God told him, “go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the LORD loves the Israelites.”[4]

Now in the slave market as the bidding began, Hosea looked up at Gomer, the first time he had seen her in 24 months. She looked far older than her 27 years.

Hosea was the only bidder. “I will give fifteen shekels of silver and fifteen shekels worth of barley for this woman.”

Hosea looked at Gomer and she at him. She trembled and looked away. The transaction was made. Gomer stood alone, near naked and shivering in the cold. Hosea’s heart pounded as he approached her. Gomer still could not look at him. Hosea removed his outer garment and placed it around her. “Let us go home, Gomer.”

His arm cradling her ever so tenderly, he accompanied his trembling bride back to their home and children. It would take years to heal, he knew, but was certain they would do so. Eventually.

They would overcome the terrible adultery that had crushed them both.

They would overcome with love …

Hosea’s love for Gomer …

Gomer’s reborn love for the husband who redeemed her …

God’s love for these two tormented souls.


[1] Hosea 4:1-2

[2] Hosea 1:2

[3] Hosea 1:8

[4] Hosea 3:1

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