on Hosea 3 :1
Go ye, love a woman - This is a different command from that mentioned in the first chapter. That denoted the infidelity of the kingdom of Israel, and God's divorce of them. He gave them up to their enemies, and caused them to be carried into captivity. The woman mentioned here represents one who was a lawful wife joining herself to a paramour; then divorced by her husband; afterwards repenting, and desirous to be joined to her spouse; ceasing from her adulterous commerce, but not yet reconciled to him. This was the state and disposition of the Jews under the Babylonish captivity. Though separated from their own idols, they continued separated from their God. He is still represented as having affectionate feelings towards them; awaiting their full repentance and contrition, in order to renew the marriage covenant. These things are pointed out by the symbolical actions of the prophet.
Beloved of her friend - Or, a lover of evil; or, loving another: for the Hebrew words אהבת רע mean one who loves evil or a friend: because רע signifies a friend, or evil, according as it is pointed. The former seems to be its best sense here; רע rea is a friend; רע ra is evil.
According to the love of the Lord - This woman, who had proved false to her husband, was still beloved by him, though he could not acknowledge her; as the Israelites were beloved by the Lord, while they were looking after other gods. The flagons of wine were probably such as were used for libations, or drunk in idol feasts. Others think that the words should be translated cakes of dried grapes, sweet cakes, consecrated wafers.
on Hosea 3 :1
Go yet, love a woman, beloved of her friend, yet an adulteress - This woman is the same Gomer, whom the prophet had before been bidden to take, and whom, (it appears from this verse) had forsaken him, and was living in adultery with another man. The "friend" is the husband himself, the prophet. The word "friend" expresses, that the husband of Gomer treated her, not harshly, but mildly and tenderly so that her faithlessness was the more aggravated sin. "Friend or neighbor" too is the word chosen by our Lord to express His own love, the love of the good Samaritan, who, not being akin, became "neighbor to Him who fell among thieves," and had mercy upon him. Gomer is called "a woman," in order to describe the state of separation, in which she was living. Yet God bids the prophet to "love her," i. e., show active love to her, not, as before, to "take" her, for she was already and still his with, although unfaithful. He is now bidden to buy her back, with the price and allowance of food, as of a worthless slave, and so to keep her apart, on coarse food, abstaining from her former sins, but without the privileges of marriage, yet with the hope of being, in the end, restored to be altogether his wife. This prophecy is a sequel to the former, and so relates to Israel, after the coming of Christ, in which the former prophecy ends.
According to the love of the Lord toward the children of Israel - The prophet is directed to frame his life, so as to depict at once the ingratitude of Israel or the sinful soul, and the abiding, persevering, love of God. The woman, whom God commands him to love, he had loved before her fall; he was now to love her after her fall, and amid her fall, in order to rescue her from abiding in it. His love was to outlive her's, that he might win her at last to him. Such, God says, "is the love of the Lord for Israel." He loved her, before she fell, for the woman was "beloved of her friend, and yet an adulteress." He loved her after she fell, and while persevering in her adultery. For God explains His command to the prophet still to love her, by the words, "according to the love of the Lord toward the children of Israel, while they look to other gods, literally, and they are looking." The words express a contemporary circumstance. God was loving them and looking upon them; and they, all the while, were looking to other gods.
Love flagons of wine - Literally, "of grapes," or perhaps, more probably, "cakes of grapes," i. e., dried raisins. Cakes were used in idolatry Jeremiah 7:18; Jeremiah 44:19. The "wine" would betoken the excess common in idolatry, and the bereavement of understanding: the cakes denote the sweetness and lusciousness, yet still the dryness, of any gratification out of God, which is preferred to Him. Israel despised and rejected the true Vine, Jesus Christ, the source of all the works of grace and righteousness, and "loved the dried cakes," the observances of the law, which, apart from Him, were dry and worthless.
on Hosea 3 :1
3:1 Of her friend - Her husband. An adulteress - Either already tainted, or that certainly will be tainted with that vice. According to the love - Let this be the emblem of my love to the children of Israel. And love - Love the feasts of their idols, where they drink wine to excess.