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The NIV translates Hosea 3:1:

The LORD said to me, "Go, show your love to your wife again..."

The Hebrew doesn't say "your wife", rather the indefinite "a woman":

וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֵלַי עוֹד לֵךְ אֱהַב־אִשָּׁ֔ה

This, I think, leaves open the possibility that עוֹד ("again") modifies לֵךְ ("go") rather than אֱהַב ("love"). Accordingly, ESV gives:

And the LORD said to me, "Go again, love a woman..."

Apparently it's also possible that it modifies instead וַיֹּאמֶר ("he said"). RSV:

The LORD said to me again, "Go, love a woman...."

According to the NIV this woman is to be identified with Gomer, but neither the ESV nor the RSV makes this clear.

  • How should we decide what is being done "again"?
  • Can "a woman" naturally refer to the prophet's wife?
  • Is Gomer the woman in Chapter 3?

Note: I'm interested in how this distinction affects the point being made in Chapters 1-3, but this seems to be beyond the scope of the present question.

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The most widely held view among commentators is that the woman of Hosea 3:1 is Gomer. David Allan Hubbard (TOTC) remarks:

Any other reading would break the analogy which carries the basic message of this section: the Lord of Israel will judge his idolatrous people and afterwards renew his relationship with them. To introduce a second woman would derail the entire train of thought and make wreck of the hope which the prophet would convey to Israel.

This argument from the basic message of Hosea is a strong one.

However, if the woman of Hosea 3:1 was the same as mentioned earlier, one might expect the definite article, or for Gomer to be named again, not an anarthrous אִשָּׁה (a woman).

I don't think the identity of the anarthrous אִשָּׁה in 3:1 can be decided by the placement of "again".

Douglas Stuart (Word Commentary) argues the minority view, that the woman of Hosea 3:1 is not Gomer but a second wife. This would more naturally explain the anarthrous אִשָּׁה but introduces problems (at least superficially) for understanding the basic message of Hosea.

Stuart draws attention to the distinction between אֵ֤שֶׁת זְנוּנִים֙ in 1:2 and מְנָאָ֑פֶת in 3:1.

He explains that in 1:2 זְנוּנִים֙ (prostitutions) is an abstract noun, built on the plural pattern frequently used for abstracts as an alternative to the feminine singular. Douglas argues that this refers more to a character trait than to a profession. He states:

That she is called metaphorically an אֵ֤שֶׁת זְנוּנִים֙ “prostituting woman” in 1:2 cannot be taken as a literal statement of her profession or practice. She is merely an Israelite—all of whom are “prostitutes” as the verse implies, that is, all of whom have broken Yahweh’s covenant.

In contrast, the woman Hosea marries in 3:1 is called a מְנָאָ֑פֶת, an “actual adulteress” He remarks:

His command to her concerning “prostitution” (v3) suggests that she was indeed a professional prostitute. Hosea is no longer using זנה metaphorically as was the case in chaps. 1 and 2.

Regarding his understanding of the message of chapters 1-3, he states:

Some interpreters have suggested that Hosea is buying back Gomer. In 2:21–22 [19–20], however, Yahweh does not buy back the same old Israel, but a new Israel, a remnant transformed eschatologically, an Israel he had not yet married, as it were. To assume that Gomer left and that he then bought her back from her father or someone she had married or a house of prostitution, still in her defiant adulterous state (3:1), hardly comports with the picture given in 2:18–25 [16–23].

Thus according to Stuart, the woman of 3:1 is not Gomer, but is still symbolic of God's covenant people.

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    If it’s a new woman then it does fit with the message of the gospel and of the whole book of Hosea, namely that God will love the gentiles. “Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And in the place where it was said to them, "You are not my people," it shall be said to them, "Children of the living God." And the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered together, and they shall appoint for themselves one head ‭‭Hosea‬ ‭1:10-11‬ the divorced ten tribes are reunited with God under a new covenant. Apr 23 '19 at 20:51
  • @Autodidact good point! Apr 24 '19 at 14:11
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I’m with stuart. To broaden the spectrum, let’s introduce the woman of Romans chapter seven who dies and then her husband is able to marry another woman. In the context, the law is passing away and making way for the new covenant and the “church.” The law is associated with Israel and as it passes away the church, the lamb’s bride, a new combination of both Israel and the gentiles, comes into being. Unfortunately, even with this dramatic change, where we get a new heart and a new spirit, and the baptism of the Holy Spirit, God still finds Himself courting a harlot, with His true wife actually only being a remnant, or a fraction, of the whole.

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  • Welcome to BiblicalHermaneutics.SE. Unlike other sites (e.g. Quora), StackExchange answers are meant to be factual and authoritative, something one might hope to find in a secular encyclopedia. Your answer contains mostly conjecture and opinion, not researched facts or references, and so isn't appropriate here . It also fails to directly address the original question. Please take the time to take the tour and read about how this site is different from others. Apr 26 '19 at 1:08
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Hos 1:2 And the LORD said to Hosea, Go, take to yourself a wife of harlotry and children of harlotry: for the land commits flagrant harlotry, departing from the LORD. So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim.

Hos 3:1 Go again, love a woman[Gomer] who is loved by her husband[companion], yet an adulteress, even as the LORD loves the sons of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes.”

Sorry for being overly simplistic, but this is the way I'd start. FWIW

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  • Welcome to BiblicalHermaneutics.SE. Unlike other sites (e.g. Quora), StackExchange answers are meant to be factual and authoritative, something one might hope to find in a secular encyclopedia. Your answer contains mostly conjecture and opinion, not researched facts or references, and so isn't appropriate here . It also fails to directly address the original question. Please take the time to take the tour and read about how this site is different from others. Apr 26 '19 at 1:07

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