Table of Contents
- An argument against using the relationship between Israel and God as a guide for human marriages goes like this:
- 1. God Himself describes the relationship as a marriage.
- 2. The covenant is between ONE nation, not between individuals.
- 3. You cannot divorce someone you are not married to
- 4. Hosea was called to demonstrate God’s relationship to Israel
An argument against using the relationship between Israel and God as a guide for human marriages goes like this:
It is impossible to compare God’s relationship with Israel to the marriage between a husband and wife.
1. Marriage is one husband and one wife
2. Israel is a nation of millions of people with one God.
This argument is has the following problems.
1. God Himself describes the relationship as a marriage.
For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called.
Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion:
Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem, Thus says the Lord, I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride, how you followed me in the wilderness, in a land not sown.
not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord.
2. The covenant is between ONE nation, not between individuals.
The covenant that God made with Israel was made with the nation of Israel, not individual members of Israel. So in this sense it is a relationship between just two parties.
Deu 7:6 ESV “For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.
When Israel as a nation followed the Lord He blessed them. When Israel as a nation forsook the Lord He cursed them. This does not mean that when the nation of Israel followed the Lord there were no unrighteous people among them (eg Absalom). Nor does it mean that there were no righteous people among Israel when the nation forsook the Lord (eg Elijah). God, in His own wisdom, assessed the spiritual state of the nation as a whole and responded accordingly. A good indicator of the spiritual state of the nation was the spiritual state of the king who ruled the nation at the time.
3. You cannot divorce someone you are not married to
It is not possible divorce someone you were not married to (or betrothed to under Jewish law). So when God declares that He divorced Israel it is a clear indication that He was once married to her.
Jer 3:8 ESV She saw that for all the adulteries of that faithless one, Israel, I had sent her away with a decree of divorce. Yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but she too went and played the whore.
4. Hosea was called to demonstrate God’s relationship to Israel
1. The first division should probably be subdivided into three separate poems, each originating in a distinct aim, and each after its own fashion attempting to express the idolatry of Israel by imagery borrowed from the matrimonial relation.Easton’s Bible Dictionary:
The book may be divided into two parts, the first containing Hos. 1 – 3, and symbolically representing the idolatry of Israel under imagery borrowed from the matrimonial relation. The figures of marriage and adultery are common in the Old Testament writings to represent the spiritual relations between Jehovah and the people of Israel.
Fausset’s Bible Dictionary:
On his marriage to Gomer, Henderson thinks that there is no hint of its being in vision, and that she fell into lewdness after her union with Hosea, thus fitly symbolizing Israel who lapsed into spiritual whoredom after the marriage contract with God on Sinai.
1. The Hebrew word ‘baal’ means ‘master’ not ‘married’
It is correct that the word can be translated as ‘master’ or ‘owner’. The reason why multiple translations translate it as ‘married’ is because that is ALSO a valid choice. In fact it is the only choice in many verses such as Ex 21.3, De 22.22, De 24.1, Pro 30.23, Is 54.1, Is 62.4 and Mal 2.11.
Also, the decision by the ESV translators to use ‘master’ in Jer 3.14 does not mean that Israel was not ‘married’ to the Lord since a ‘husband’ and a ‘master’ were both appropriate words to use to describe a husband in the OT. The way to determine the best word to use is to look at the context.
God clearly describes His covenant relationship with Israel as a marriage. That ‘marriage’ was between two parties – God and the nation of Israel. God blessed or cursed the nation of Israel based upon the spiritual state of the nation as a whole.