The Section Chap. I. -iii.
The question which here above all engages our attention, and requires to be answered, is this: Whether that which is reported in these chapters did, or did not, actually and outwardly take place. The history of the inquiries connected with this question is found most fully in Marckius's "Diatribe de uxore fornicationum," Leyden, 1696, reprinted in the Commentary on the Minor Prophets by the same author. The various views may be divided into three classes.

1. It is maintained by very many interpreters, that all the events here narrated took place actually and outwardly. This opinion was advanced with the greatest confidence by Theodoret, Cyril of Alexandria, and Augustine from among the Fathers of the Church; by most interpreters belonging to the Lutheran and Reformed Churches (e.g. Manger); most recently, by Stuck, Hofmann (Weissag u. Erf. S.206), and, to a certain extent, by Ewald also, who supposes "a free representation of an event actually experienced by the prophet."

2. Others consider it as a parabolical representation. Thus does Calvin, who expressly opposes the supposition not only of an external, but also of an internal event. He explains it thus: "When the prophet began to teach, he commenced thus: The Lord has placed me here as on a stage, that I might tell you, I have taken a wife," etc. Entirely similar was the opinion of the Chaldee Paraphrast, by whom the words, "Go," etc., are thus paraphrased: "Go and prophesy against the inhabitants of the adulterous city." Of a like purport is the view held, from among recent interpreters, by Rosenmueller, Hitzig ("that which the prophet describes as actual, is only a fiction"), Simson and others. The strange opinion of Luther, which, out of too great respect, was adopted by a few later theologians (Osiander, [Pg 185] Gerhard, Tarnovius), is only a modification of this. It is to the effect, that the prophet had only ascribed to his own chaste wife the name and works of an adulteress, and, hence, had performed with her, before the people, a kind of play. (Compare, against this view, Buddeus, de peccatis typicis in the Misc. s. t. i. p.262.) The same opinion is expressed by Umbreit: "His own wife is implicated in the general guilt, and hence she is a representative of the whole people." In opposition to this view, compare Simson's Commentary.

3. Others suppose that the prophet narrates events which took place actually, indeed, but not outwardly. This opinion was, considering the time at which it was advanced, very ably defended by Jerome in Epist. ad Pammachium, and in his commentary on chap. i.8. According to Rufinus, all those in Palestine and Egypt who respected the authority of Origen, asserted that the marriage took place only in spirit. The difficulties attaching to the first view were made especially obvious by the ridicule of the Manicheans (Faustus and Secundinus in Augustine, t. vi. p.575) on this narrative. The most accomplished Jewish scholars (Maimonides in the More Nebuch. p. ii. c.46, Abenezra, Kimchi) support this opinion. Some new arguments in defence of it have been adduced by Marckius.

Of these three views: -- actually and outwardly; neither outwardly nor actually; actually, but not outwardly, -- the second must be at once rejected. Those who hold it supply, "God has commanded me to tell you." But there is not the slightest intimation of such an ellipsis; and those interpreters have no better right to supply it in this, than in any other narrative. There is before us action, and nothing but action, without any intimation whatsoever that it is merely an invention.

But the following arguments are decisive in favour of the third, and against the first view.

1. The defenders of an outward transaction rely, in support of their view, upon the supposition, that their interpretation is most obvious and natural; -- that they are thus, as it were, in the possession of the ground, and in a position from which they can be driven only by the most cogent reasons; -- that if the transaction had been internal, it would have been necessary for the prophet to have expressly marked it as such. But precisely the reverse of all this is the case. The most obvious supposition [Pg 186] is, that the symbolical action took place in vision. If certain actions of the prophets, especially seeing, hearing, and their speaking to the Lord, etc., must be conceived of as having taken place inwardly, unless there be distinct indications of the opposite, why not the remainder also? For the former presupposes that the world in which the prophets move, is altogether different from the ordinary one; that it is not the outward, but the spiritual world. It is certainly not a matter of chance, that the seeing in the case of the prophets must be understood spiritually; and if there be a reason for this, the same reason entitles us to assert that the walking, etc., also took place inwardly only. By what right could we make any difference between the actions of others, described by the prophet, and his own? Vision and symbolical action are not opposed to each other; the former is only the genus comprehending the latter as a species. By this we do not at all mean to assert, that all the symbolical actions of the prophets took place in inward vision only. An inward transaction always lay at the foundation; but sometimes, and when it was appropriate, they embodied it in an outward representation also (1 Kings xx.35 seq., xxii.11; Jer. xix. xxviii.; and a similar remarkable instance from modern times, in Croesi Hist. Quakeriana, p.13). For this very reason, however, this argument cannot be altogether decisive by itself; but it furnishes, at least, a presumptive proof, and that by no means unimportant. If regularly and naturally the transaction be internal only, then the opposite requires to be proved in this case. If this had been admitted, no attempt would have been made elsewhere also, e.g., Is. xx., by false and forced interpretations to explain away the supposition of a merely internal transaction.

2. No one will certainly venture to assert that a merely internal transaction would have missed its aim, since there exists a multitude of symbolical actions, in regard to which it is undeniable, and universally admitted, that they took place internally only. For the inward action, being narrated and committed to writing, retained the advantage of vividness and impressiveness over the naked representation of the same truth. Sometimes, in the case of actions concentrated into a single moment, this advantage may be still further increased by the inward transaction being represented outwardly also. But, here, just the [Pg 187] opposite would take place. We have here before us a symbolical transaction which, if it had been performed outwardly, would have continued for several years. The separation of the single events would have prevented its being taken in at a single view, and have thus deprived it of its impressiveness. But, what is still more important, the natural substratum would have occupied the attention so much more than the idea, that the latter would have been thereby altogether overlooked. The domestic affairs of the prophet would have become the subject of a large amount of tittle-tattle, and the idea would have been remembered only to give greater point to the ridicule.

3. The command of God, when considered as referring to an outward transaction, cannot be, by any means, justified. This is most glaringly obvious, if we understand this command, as several do, to mean that the prophet should beget children with an unchaste woman, and without legitimate marriage. Every one will sympathize with the indignation expressed by Buddeus (l. c. p.206) against Thomas Aquinas, who, following this view, maintains that the law of God had been, in this special case, repealed by His command. God Himself cannot set us free from His commands; they are an expression of His nature, an image of His holiness. To ascribe arbitrariness to God in this respect, would be to annihilate the idea of God, and the idea of the Law at the same time. This view, it is true, is so decidedly erroneous as to require no further refutation; but even the opinion of Buddeus and others presents insurmountable difficulties. They suppose that the prophet had married a woman who was formerly unchaste. In opposition to this, Calvin very strikingly remarks: "It seems not to be consistent with reason, that God should spontaneously have rendered His prophet contemptible; for how could he ever have appeared in public after such ignominy had been inflicted upon him? If he had married such a wife, as here described, he ought rather to have hidden himself all his lifetime than have assumed the prophetic office." In Lev. xxi.7 the law forbids the priests to take a wife that is a whore, or profane. That which, according to the letter, referred to the priests only, is applicable, in its spirit, to the prophets also, -- yea, to them in a higher degree, as will be seen immediately, when the ordinance is reduced to its idea. The latter is easily inferred from the reason stated, [Pg 188] viz., that the priests should be holy to their God. The servants of God must represent His holiness; they are, therefore, not allowed, by so close a contact with sin, to defile or desecrate themselves either inwardly or outwardly. Although the inward pollution may be prevented in individual cases by a specially effective assistance of divine grace, yet there always remains the outward pollution.

It is inconceivable that, at the very commencement of his ministry, God should have commanded to the prophet anything, the inevitable effect of which was to mar its successful execution. Several -- and especially Manger -- who felt the difficulties of this interpretation, substituted for it another, by which, as they imagined, all objections were removed. The prophet, they say, married a person who had formerly been chaste, and fell only after her marriage. This view is no doubt the correct one, as is obvious from the relation of the figure to the reality. According to ver.2, it is to be expressed figuratively that the people went a-whoring from Jehovah. The spiritual adultery presupposes that the spiritual marriage had already been concluded. Hence, the wife can be called a whoring wife, only on account of the whoredom which she practised after her marriage. This is confirmed by chap. iii.1, where the more limited expression "to commit adultery" is substituted for "to whore," which has a wider sense, and comprehends adultery also. The former unchastity of the wife would be without any meaning, yea, would be in direct contradiction to the real state of the case. For before the marriage concluded at Sinai, Israel was devoted to the Lord in faithful love; comp. Jer. ii.2: "I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, thy walking after Me in the wilderness, in a land not sown." Compare also Ezek. xvi., where Israel, before her marriage, appears as a virgo intacta. But how correct soever this view may be -- and every other view perverts the whole position -- it is, nevertheless, erroneous to suppose that thereby all difficulties are removed. All which has been urged against the former view, may be urged here also. It might have been better for the prophet to have married one who was previously unchaste, in the hope that her subsequent better life might wipe out her former shame, than one previously chaste, who was required to become unchaste, and to remain so for a long time, because, [Pg 189] otherwise, the symbolical action would have lost all its significance. The objection brought forward, that whatever is unbecoming as an outward action, is so likewise though it were only an internal action, can scarcely be meant to be in earnest. For, in this case, every one knew that the prophet was a mere type; and, with regard to his wife, this circumstance was so obvious, that mockery certainly gave way to shame and confusion. But a marriage outwardly entered into is never purely typical. It has always its significance apart from the typical import, and must be justifiable, independently of its typical character. Ridicule would, in this case, have been not only too obvious, but to a certain extent also well founded.

4. If the action had taken place only outwardly, it would have been impossible to explain the abrupt transition from the symbolical action to the mere figure, and again to the entirely naked representation as we find it here, and vice versa. In the first chapter, the symbolical action is pretty well maintained; but in the prophecy ii.1-3 (i.10-ii.1), which belongs to the same section, it is almost entirely lost sight of. As the corporeal adultery, and rejection in consequence of it, were to be the type of the spiritual adultery and rejection, so the receiving again of the wife, rejected on account of her faithlessness, but now reformed, was to typify the Lord's granting mercy to the people. But of this, not a trace is found. And yet, we are not at liberty to say that the ground of it lies in a difference betwixt the type and the thing typified, -- in the circumstance that the wife of the prophet did not reform. If there existed such a difference, the type could not have been chosen at all. The contrary appears also from ii.9 (7). -- In the whole second section, ii.4-25 (ii.2-23), regard is indeed had to the symbolical action; but in a manner so free, that it dwindles away to a mere figure, from behind which the thing itself is continually coming into view. In chap. iii. the symbolical action again acquires greater prominence. These phenomena can be accounted for, only if the transaction be viewed as an inward one. In the case of an outward transaction, the transition from the symbolical action to the figure, and from the figure to the thing itself, would not have been so easy. The substratum of the idea is, in that case, far more material, and the idea itself too closely bound to it.

[Pg 190]

5. When the transaction is viewed as an outward one, insurmountable difficulties are presented by the third chapter; and the argument drawn from this would, in itself, be quite sufficient to settle the question: "Then the Lord said unto me. Go again, love a woman beloved of her friend and an adulteress." Interpreters who have adopted that view, find themselves here in no little embarrassment. Several suppose that the woman, whom the prophet is here commanded to love, is his former wife, Gomer, -- with her he should get reconciled. But this is quite out of the question. In opposition to it, there is, first, the indefinite signification by [Hebrew: awh]; then, in ver.2, there is the purchase of the woman, -- which supposes that she had not yet been in the possession of the husband; and, further, the words, "beloved of her friend, and an adulteress," can, according to a sound interpretation, mean only, "who, although she is beloved by her faithful husband, will yet commit adultery;" so that, if it be referred to the reunion with Gomer, we should be compelled to suppose that, after being received again, she again became unfaithful, -- and in favour of this opinion, no corresponding feature can be pointed out in the thing typified. Lastly, -- The word "love" cannot mean "love again," "restitue amoris signa." For the love of the prophet to his wife must correspond with the love of God to the people of Israel. That this love, however, cannot be limited to the love which God will show to the Congregation after her conversion, is seen from the additional clause, "And they turn themselves to other gods, and love grape-cakes." Hence it appears that the love of God continues even during the unfaithfulness, and consequently, also, the love of the prophet, by which it is typified. -- Equally untenable is the other opinion, that the prophet is here called upon, by his entering into a new marriage, to prefigure the relation of God to the Covenant-people a second time. In that case, it is supposed either that Gomer had been rejected, because she would not return, or that she had died. In either case, however, she would not have been chosen by God to be a type of the people of Israel. The ground of this choice can be no other than the correspondence with the antitype. But this would be wanting just in the most important point. If the ungodly part of the nation were not to be deprived of all hope, nor the pious of all consolation, it was of special importance to [Pg 191] point out that even the rejected congregation would receive mercy; that the Lo-Ruhamah should be the Ruhamah. Just the reverse of all this, however, would, according to this view, have been typified. Two different women would, quite naturally, suggest the thought of two different nations. Moreover, the non-conversion of Gomer would be in direct opposition to the prophet's own expressions. There cannot be any doubt, that her relation to the prophet still lies at the foundation of the description in ii.4 seqq. For they are her three children whose former names, announcing disaster, are changed, in ver.25 (23), into such as are significant of salvation. In vers.4-6 (2-4) the whole relation, as previously described, is presupposed. But now, she who, in ver.9 (7), says, "I will go and return to my first husband, for then was it better with me than now," is the same who said in ver.7 (5), "I will go after my lovers that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax." To the same result we are also led by the showing of mercy to her children, announced in the first section, ii.1-3 (i.10-ii.1), where the prophet alludes to their names; and still more distinctly in the second section; compare ver.25 (23). But now, the showing of mercy to the children cannot be conceived of without the conversion of the mother, and mercy being subsequently shown to her also. As they are to be rejected on account of the unfaithfulness of the mother (compare ii.6 [4], and, specially, the [Hebrew: ki] at the commencement of ver.7), so the ground of their being received into favour can only be the faithfulness of the mother. Being begotten in adultery, they stand in connection with the prophet only through the mother; as soon as he has rejected the mother, he has nothing further to do with them. -- The supposition that Gomer had died, is evidently the result of an embarrassment which finds itself compelled to invent such fictions. -- Finally, -- Several interpreters, after the example of Augustine, suppose that no marriage at all is here spoken of, but only a certain kindness which the prophet should manifest to some woman, in order to encourage her conversion. But this opinion is contradicted by these circumstances: -- that the prophet's love towards the woman must necessarily be of the same extent, and of the same nature, as the love of God towards the people of Israel, since the [Hebrew: ahb] and the [Hebrew: kahbt] exactly correspond with each other; that only conjugal love is suitable to [Pg 192] the image; that this view falls, of itself, to the ground when [Hebrew: re] is referred to the prophet, as it must be; that, in such circumstances, no satisfactory account can be given of the purchase of the woman, etc. To all these suppositions there is, moreover, the common objection that, according to them, no account can be given of the omission of very important circumstances which the prophet leaves to his hearers and readers to supply from the preceding symbolical action. Two things only are pointed out, viz., the appropriation of the woman by the prophet, ver.2, and the course which he pursues for her reformation, ver.3. Every intervening circumstance -- the criminal, long-continued unfaithfulness of the wife -- is passed over in silence. If we suppose an outward action, this circumstance cannot be accounted for. For we are not at liberty to draw, from the first case, any inference bearing upon the second. The latter would again have required a complete account. But if we suppose an inward transaction, everything is easily explained. The question as to whether it was Gomer, or some other person, does not come up at all. If Gomer was only an ideal person, that which applied to her was equally applicable to the second ideal wife of the prophet; since both typified the same thing, and without having an independent existence of their own, came into consideration as types only. Thus, very naturally, the second description was supplemented from the first, and the prophet was allowed abruptly to point out those circumstances only which were of special importance in the case before him.

6. If the whole be viewed as an outward transaction, there arises a difficulty, by no means inconsiderable, as regards the children mentioned in chap. i. These had been begotten in adultery. Even although the mother did reform, they could yet never be considered by the prophet as, in the full sense, his own. There would then arise a great difference between the type and the thing typified. But if we suppose a transaction merely inward, this difficulty vanishes. The physical impossibility then no longer comes into consideration. That which is possible in the thing typified, viz., that those who formerly were not children of God, become children of God, is transferred to the type. In point of fact, the mother does not exist beside, and apart from, the children; she stands related to them as the whole to the parts; and hence it is, that in ii.25 (23), the [Pg 193] mother and children are imperceptibly blended in the prophet's description.

7. We are led to the idea of a mere inward transaction by the symbolical names of the first wife, and of her father. On the other hand, if such a symbolical signification could not be proved, this might be used as an argument for the literal interpretation, -- although, indeed, it would be only a single argument which would be obliged to yield to other counter-arguments. For it may well be conceived that the prophet, in order to give to the inward transaction more of the appearance of an outward one, should have chosen names usual at that time; just as, in a similar manner, poetry would not be satisfied with invented names used only in certain formulas and proverbs, but makes use of names which would not, at once, be recognised by every one as mere fictions. -- [Hebrew: gmr] can only mean "completion" in the passive sense. For Segolate-forms in o are only used to express passive and intransitive notions, and the verb [Hebrew: gmr] is found in the signification "to be completed," in Ps. vii.10, xii.2. The sense in which the woman, the type of the Israelitish people, is called completion, -- i.e., one who, in her whoredom, had proceeded to the highest pitch, -- is so obvious from the context, as to render nugatory the argument which Maurer (p.360) has drawn from the omission of express statements on this point, in order thereby to recommend his own interpretation, which is altogether opposed to the laws of the language. A significant proper name can, in any case, convey only an allusion; but such an allusion was here quite sufficient, inasmuch as the mention of the wife's whoredom had preceded. Compare, moreover, Zech. v.5-11, where the thought, that Israel had filled up the measure of their sins, is represented by a woman sitting in an Ephah. Hofmann explains the name Gomer by "end," "utmost ruin:" "By luxury, Israel has become wanton, and hence it must come to an end, to utter ruin." But this interpretation is at variance with the context, from which it must necessarily be derived; for it is not the punishment, but the guilt which is spoken of in the context. [Hebrew: gmr], "Completion" (compare the [Hebrew: gmir], "perfectus," "absolutus," in Ezra vii.12), is equivalent to [Hebrew: awt znvniM], "a wife of whoredom." The [Hebrew: bt dbliM] can only mean, "daughter of the two fig-cakes," = filia deliciarum = deliciis [Pg 194] dedita. The word "daughter" serves to indicate every relation of dependence and submission: Gesenius, Thesaurus, p.220. Fig-cakes were considered as one of the greatest dainties; compare Faber on Harmar. i. p.320 ff. Sensuality was the ground of the Israelites' apostasy from the severe and strict religion of Jehovah to the idolatry of their neighbours, which was soft, sensual, and licentious. The occasion which had called it forth with their neighbours was one which rendered them favourably disposed towards it. The masculine form can offer no difficulty as to the derivation from [Hebrew: dblh], "fig-cake;" for the masculine form of the plural occurs also in 1 Sam. xxv.18; 1 Chron. xii.40. As little difficulty can arise from the Dual form, which may be explained from the circumstance that fig-cakes commonly consisted of a double layer of figs, or of double cakes (Hesych. [Greek: palathe] -- which Greek word is a corruption of the Hebrew [Hebrew: dblh] -- [Greek: he ton sukon epallelos thesis]), and the Dual is used in reference to objects which are commonly conceived of as a whole, consisting of two parts, even when several of them are spoken of. That this explanation of the Dual is correct, is proved from the circumstance, that it occurs also as the name of a Moabitish town, Beth-Dibhlathaim, Jer. xlviii.22, and Dibhlathaim, Num. xxxiii.46, which, probably, was famous for its fig-cakes. -- There existed another special reason for the prophet's choosing the Dual in the masculine form, viz., that there was the analogy of other proper names of men -- as Ephraim, etc. -- in its favour; and such an analogy was required, -- for, otherwise, the name would not have been, as it was intended to be, a riddle. Our whole exposition, however, which was already in substance, although without proper foundation and justification, advanced by Jerome, is raised above the condition of a mere hypothesis, by its being compared with chap. iii. There, the words, "They turn themselves to other gods, and love grape-cakes," are a mere paraphrasis of "Gomer Bath Dibhlaim." It scarcely needs to be remarked, that the difference betwixt grape-cakes and fig-cakes does not here come into consideration at all, inasmuch as both belonged to the choicest dainties; and it is as evident, that "to love," and "to be the daughter of," express the same idea. But if thus the symbolical signification of the name be established, the correctness of the supposition of a merely internal transaction is established [Pg 195] at the same time. The symbolical names of the children alone could not have furnished a sufficient foundation for this supposition. Against this an appeal might, with the most perfectpropriety, have been made to Shear-Jashub, and Maher-shalal-hash-baz, neither of whom can, by any means, have been an ideal person. The prophet gave them these names; but the matter is quite different in the case of the wife, who already had her name when the prophet took her. All that we can grant to Hofmann is, that such a providential coincidence was possible; but probable it could be, only if other decisive arguments favoured the view of the transaction having been an outward one. If the name were not symbolical -- if it belonged to the real wife of the prophet, it cannot be easily explained, why he did not afterwards mention the name of his second wife also, but content himself with the general term, "a wife."

8. A main argument against the literal interpretation is further furnished by iii.2. The verse is commonly translated: "And then I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver, and an homer of barley, and a lethech of barley;" and is explained from the custom prevalent in the East of purchasing wives from their parents. But it is very doubtful whether the verb [Hebrew: krh] has the signification "to purchase." There is no necessity for deviating from the common signification "to dig," in Deut. ii.6: "And water also ye shall dig from them for money, and drink" (compare Exod. xxi.33); the existing wells were not sufficient for so great a multitude, compare Gen. xxvi.19, 21, 22. To this philological reason, we must further add, that the circumstance would be here altogether destitute of significance, while every other feature in the description is full of meaning. We base our interpretation upon the supposition, already sufficiently established by J. D. Michaelis, that the whole purchase-money amounted to thirty shekels, of which the prophet paid one-half in money, and the other half in the value of money. According to Ezek. xlv.11, the homer contained ten ephahs, and a lethech was the half of an homer. We have thus fifteen pieces of silver, and also fifteen ephahs; and the supposition is very probable that, at that time, an ephah of barley cost a shekel, -- the more so, as according to 2 Kings vii.1, 16, 18, in the time of a declining famine, and only relative cheapness, two-thirds of an ephah of barley cost a shekel. We are unable [Pg 196] to say with certainty, why one-half was paid in money, and the other half in natural productions; but a reason certainly exists, as no other feature is without significance. Perhaps it was determined by custom, that the sum by which servants were purchased was paid after this manner. The lowness of their condition was thereby indicated; for barley, vile hordeum, was, in all antiquity, very little esteemed. Upon this estimate of it was based its use at the jealousy offering (Num. v.11 seqq.; compare Baehr's Symb. ii. S.445), and the symbolical use of the barley-bread in Judg. vii.13. The statement of the sum leads us, involuntarily, to think of slaves or servants. It is the same sum which was commonly given for a man-servant, or a maid-servant, as is expressly mentioned in Exod. xxi.32; compare the remarks on Zech. xi.12. And this opinion is confirmed by the use of [Hebrew: vakrh]. The ears of a servant who was bound to his master to perpetual obedience, were bored; compare Exod. xxxi.5, 6; Deut. xv.17, where it is added: "And also unto thy maid-servant thou shalt do likewise." In conformity with the custom of omitting the special members of the body, in expressions frequently occurring, it is said simply "to bore." The meaning then is: I made her my slave. It was not a free woman, then, whom the prophet desired in marriage, but a servant, whom he was obliged, previous to marriage, to redeem from servitude; who was therefore under a double obligation to him, and over whom he had a double claim. The reference to the thing to be typified is quite apparent. It was not a free, independent people whom the Lord chose, but a people whom He was obliged first to redeem from vile servitude, before He entered into a nearer relation to them. This redemption appears, throughout, as a ransoming from the house of bondage, -- and the wonderful dealings of the Lord, as the price which He paid. Compare, e.g., Deut. vii.8: "But because the Lord loved you, and because He kept His oath which He had sworn to your fathers, He has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed thee ([Hebrew: vipdK]) from the house of bondmen ([Hebrew: mbit ebdiM]), from the hand of Pharaoh, king of Egypt." See also Deut. ix.26. It is upon this redemption that the exhortation to the people is founded -- that, as the Lord's servants, they should serve Him alone; comp., e.g., the introduction to the Decalogue. Thus, we have here also a feature so evidently typical, [Pg 197] so plainly transferred from the thing typified to the type, that we cannot any longer think of an outward transaction. This argument, however, is, in the main point, quite independent of the philological interpretation of [Hebrew: krh]. Even if it be translated "I bought her to me," the circumstance, notwithstanding, always remains, that the wife was redeemed from slavery, unless there be a denial of the connection of the sum mentioned with Exod. xxi.32, and Zech. xi.12, where the thirty pieces of silver likewise appear as the estimate of a servant's value; and this circumstance evidently suggests the inward character of the transaction.

The first germs of the representation of God's relation to Israel under the figure of marriage, are found so early as in the Pentateuch, Exod. xxxiv.15, 16; Lev. xx.5, 6, xvii.7; Num. xiv.33 -- where idolatry, and apostasy from the Lord in general, are represented as whoredom -- Deut. xxxii.16, 21; compare the author's Dissertations on the Genuineness of the Pent. vol. i. p.107 ff.; and commentary on the Song of Solomon, S.261. But it was only through the Song of Solomon that it became quite a common thing to represent the higher love under the figure of the lower. It is not through accident that this representation appears so prominent just in Hosea, where it not only pervades the first three chapters, but returns continually in the second part also. Hosea, being one of the oldest prophets, was specially called to fit, as a new link, into the Song of Solomon, which was the last link in the chain of Sacred Literature. There are, moreover, in the details, other undeniable references to the Song of Solomon, which coincide with this connection with it, as regards the fundamental idea. The basis, however, for this whole figurative representation is Gen. ii.24, where marriage appears as the most intimate of all earthly relations of love, and must, for this very reason, have a character of absolute exclusiveness.

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