A wife of whoredoms - That is, says Newcome, a wife from among the Israelites, who were remarkable for spiritual fornication, or idolatry. God calls himself the husband of Israel; and this chosen nation owed him the fidelity of a wife. See Exodus 34:15; Deuteronomy 31:16; Judges 2:17; Isaiah 54:5; Jeremiah 3:14; Jeremiah 31:32, Ezekiel 16:17; Ezekiel 23:5, Ezekiel 23:27; Hosea 2, Hosea 5:1-15; Revelation 17:1, Revelation 17:2. He therefore says, with indignation, Go join thyself in marriage to one of those who have committed fornication against me, and raise up children who, by the power of example, will themselves swerve to idolatry. See Hosea 5:7. And thus show them that they are radically depraved.
The beginning of the word of the Lord by Hosea or in Hosea - God first revealed Himself and His mysteries to the prophet‘s soul, by His secret inspiration, and then declared, through him, to others, what He had deposited in him. God enlightened him, and then others through the light in him.
And the Lord said unto Hosea - For this thing was to be done by Hosea alone, because God had commanded it, not by others of their own mind. To Isaiah God first revealed Himself, as sitting in the temple, adored by the Seraphim: to Ezekiel God first appeared, as enthroned above the cherubim in the holy of holies; to Jeremiah God announced that, ere yet he was born, He had sanctified him for this office: to Hosea He enjoined, as the beginning of his prophetic office, an act contrary to man‘s natural feelings, yet one, by which he became an image of the Redeemer, uniting to Himself what was unholy, in order to make it holy.
Go take unto thee - Since Hosea prophesied some eighty years, he must now have been in early youth, holy, pure, as became a prophet of God. Being called thus early, he had doubtless been formed by God as a chosen instrument of His will, and had, like Samuel, from his first childhood, been trained in true piety and holiness. Yet he was to unite unto him, so long as she lived, one greatly defiled, in order to win her thereby to purity and holiness; herein, a little likeness of our Blessed Lord, who, in the Virgin‘s womb, to save us, espoused our flesh, in us sinful, in Him all-holy, without motion to sin; and, further, espoused the Church, formed of us who, “whether Jews or Gentiles,” were all under sin, aliens from God and gone away from Him, “serving divers lusts and passions Ephesians 5:27, to make it a glorious Church, without spot or wrinkle.”
A wife of whoredoms - i. e., take as a wife, one who up to that time had again and again been guilty of that sin. So “men of bloods” Psalm 5:6 are “men given up to bloodshedding;” and our Lord was “a Man of Sorrows Isaiah 53:3, not occasional only, but manifold and continual, throughout His whole life. She must, then, amid the manifold corruption of Israel, have been repeatedly guilty of that sin, perhaps as an idolatress, thinking of it to be in honor of their foul gods (see the Hosea 4:13, note; Hosea 4:14, note). She was not like those degraded ones, who cease to bear children; still she must have manifoldly sinned. So much the greater was the obedience of the prophet. Nor could any other woman so shadow forth the manifold defilements of the human race, whose nature our incarnate Lord vouchsafed to unite in His own person to the perfect holiness of the divine nature.
And children of whoredoms - For they shared the disgrace of their mother, although born in lawful marriage. The sins of parents descend also, in a mysterious way, on their children, Sin is contagious, and, unless the entail is cut off by grace, hereditary. The mother thus far portrays man‘s revolts, before his union with God; the children, our forsaking of God, after we have been made His children. The forefathers of Israel, God tells them, “served other gods, on the other side of the flood” Joshua 24:14, (i. e., in Ur of the Chaldees, from where God called Abraham) “and in Egypt.” It was out of such defilement, that God took her Ezekiel 23:3, Ezekiel 23:8, and He says, “Thou becamest Mine” Ezekiel 16:8. whom He maketh His, He maketh pure; and of her, not such as she was in herself by nature, but as such as He made her, He says, “I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals when thou wentest after Me, in the wilderness” Jeremiah 2:2. But she soon fell away; and thenceforth there were among them (as there are now among Christians,) “the children of God, the children of the promise, and the children of whoredoms, or of the devil.”
For the land - This is the reason why God commands Hosea to do this thing, in order to shadow out their foulness and God‘s mercy. What no man would dare to do Jeremiah 3:1, except at God‘s bidding, God in a manner doth, restoring to union with Himself those who had gone away from Him. “The land,” i. e., Israel, and indirectly, Judah also, and, more widely yet, the whole earth.
Departing from - Literally, “from after the Lord.” Our whole life should be Philemon 3:13, forgetting the things which are behind, to follow after Him, whom here we can never fully attain unto, God in His Infinite Perfection, yet so as, with our whole heart, “fully to follow after Him.” To depart from the Creator and to serve the creature, is adultery; as the Psalmist says, “Thou hast destroyed all them, that go a whoring from Thee” Psalm 73:27. He who seeks anything out of God, turns from following Him, and takes to him something else as his god, is unfaithful, and spiritually an adulterer and idolater. For he is an adulterer, who becomes another‘s than God‘s.