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The metaphor of marriage in Hosea and Jeremiah

At the beginning of two important books in the section of the Bible known as “Prophets” there’s a metaphor that describes the relationship between God and the people of Israel. The comprehension of this metaphor is essential in order to understand God’s anger and subsequent punishments upon both the Northern Kingdom and then the Judaic one.

The first prophet is Hosea, whose names means “save” (imperative). Let’s see what he had to say-

“For their mother has played the harlot;She who conceived them has acted shamefully. For she said, ‘I will go after my lovers, who give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.”(Hosea  2:5 NASB)

“כִּי זָנְתָה אִמָּם הֹבִישָׁה הוֹרָתָם:  כִּי אָמְרָה אֵלְכָה אַחֲרֵי מְאַהֲבַי נֹתְנֵי לַחְמִי וּמֵימַי צַמְרִי וּפִשְׁתִּי, שַׁמְנִי וְשִׁקּוּיָי”











Since God felt that his wife was acting like a harlot – meaning that she was unfaithful to Him – He decided to punish the people. The metaphor is of marriage; God is the husband and the father and the people of Israel (here meaning the Northern Kingdom) are the wife and the mother. The lovers are the other nations or gods that the mother has decided to follow. Here the metaphor of marriage focusses on betrayal in the relationship.

Two centuries later we read about another prophet with the same metaphor, but now the focus has changed. Let’s take a look at Jeremiah’s words for the people of Judah -

” … Thus says the Lord, “I remember concerning you the devotion of your youth, the love of your betrothals, your following after Me in the wilderness, Through a land not sown.”(Jeremiah 2:2)

“…כֹּה אָמַר יְהוָה זָכַרְתִּי לָךְ חֶסֶד נְעוּרַיִךְ אַהֲבַת כְּלוּלֹתָיִךְ–לֶכְתֵּךְ אַחֲרַי בַּמִּדְבָּר, בְּאֶרֶץ לֹא זְרוּעָה.”

The words of Jeremiah describe the time when the marriage began, in the wilderness, filled with difficulties and obstacles. Here God remembered those days, days He yearned for, since the days of Jeremiah are days without love.

This marriage failed.  It may have been because of the passing of time, or perhaps because of the betrayal of the Israelites and the new covenant that was established after the exile with God, which we discussed in our Webinar about Ezekiel 18. 


Betrayal-bəgîdāh – בְּגִידָה

Marriage-niśśû’în – נִשּׂוּאִין

Love-’ahăvāh – אַהֲבָה

Relationship-qešer – קֶשֶׁר

Failure-kiššālôn – כִּשָּׁלוֹן


One Response to The metaphor of marriage in Hosea and Jeremiah

  1. Nonhlanhla Gama says:

    Wow!!! I would like to read the additions about the book of Esther because she is a sister I always looked up to. God bless you!

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