Sep 12, 2010

Gomer in Hosea

Any student of the Book of Hosea knows that there is a lot of discussion about Gomer's "activities" before and after God tells Hosea to marry her. While such discussions are necessary and helpful, J. Andrew Dearman gives a helpful reminder in his brand new commentary on Hosea

"In summary, Gomer's form(s) of sexual infidelity could include one or more
acts of commercial prostitution, adultery, ritual copulation to enhance fertility, and possible sex to play a sacred vow. Her sexual practices may have been influenced by syncretistic forms of Yahwism or some of the Canaanite cults. Her harlotry, however, is primarily not about her but about Israel. This is the important matter for understanding the claims of the book. Once this issue is acknowledged, it is better also to acknowledge the difficulty of moving behind the metaphorical use of sexual terms and to remain reticent, rather than to define more specifically Gomer's sexual practices. To concentrate on the person of Gomer rather than the people of Israel is to miss the forest because of attention to a symbolic tree."

J. Andrew Dearman, The Book of Hosea, NICOT, ed. Robert L. Hubbard Jr (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010), 367.

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