“I Will Betroth Thee unto Me in
Using the similitude of a faithful husband and an adulterous wife, Hosea
describes the relationship between the Lord and Israel.
Because of his love for his people, the Lord continues to invite Israel to
repent and return to him.
A study of this lesson will help us understand that the Lord is loving and
merciful and will forgive us when we repent and return to him.
Scripture references for study: Hosea 1–3;
Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked
to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window.
Lesson 34 Handout (PDF)
Hosea lived during the reign of the Israelite king Jeroboam II. It
was under his reign that Israel reached its greatest size.
Conditions during this period:
Hosea's mission: about 760-720 B.C.
The northern kingdom of Israel was taken captive in Assyria in about 721 B.C.
The prophet Hosea: "Hosea gives a more intimate
view of his personal affairs in his writing than any of the other prophets
except Jeremiah. He is a man who suffered many hardships to keep the Lord's
commandments. His writing is highly emotional and less objective than the
writing of his contemporaries." (Duane S. Crowther in Prophets
& Prophecies of the Old Testament, p271)
According to scholars this book has suffered in the process of
transmission and is generally regarded as being more corrupt than any other
Old Testament book. This does not seem to take away from its basic
Source for the information in this section: Prophets & Prophecies of the Old
The leaders had become rich, haughty and proud.
The middle class was disappearing. The rich were foreclosing mortgages
on small landowners and taking their properties.
The numbers of poor were increasing and they were becoming increasingly
oppressed. It became a common practice for parents to sell their
children as slaves in payment of debts.
Worship had degenerated. Pagan rites and idolatry were still common
Hosea Describes The Relationship Between The Lord And
WHAT IS A SIMILITUDE?
The book of Hosea compares the Lord's relationship with Israel (and the
Church today) and the relationship between a husband and a wife.
The dictionary provides the following definitions (Random House Webster's
College Dictionary 1996, p1248):
A person or thing that is like or the counterpart of another.
A likening or comparison; a simile, parable, or allegory.
One of the most frequently used similitudes in the scriptures describes
the Lord as bridegroom (or husband) and his covenant people as the bride
The first three chapters of Hosea use this similitude, comparing Israel's
idol worship to adultery.
The prophet Hosea represents the Lord as the husband and Gomer represents
Israel as the wife.
HOSEA 1:2-3. Hosea takes Gomer as wife.
HOSEA 2:5,13. Gomer plays the harlot.
WHAT DOES THIS COMPARISON TEACH ABOUT THE LEVEL OF COMMITMENT AND DEVOTION
THE LORD EXPECTS FROM US?
Throughout the history of the world, marriage has been the most sacred
of institutions. Almost all civilizations have condemned infidelity
and unfaithfulness between marriage partners. Our relationship with
the Lord should be no different. Indulging in the ways of the world
is similar to the unfaithfulness of a marriage partner. The Lord
wants us to be as faithful to him and his commandments.
Elder: Bruce R. McConkie: "In a spiritual sense,
to emphasize how serious it is, the damning sin of idolatry is called adultery.
When the Lord's people forsake him and worship false gods, their infidelity
to Jehovah is described as whoredoms and adultery. (Jer. 3: 8-9; Hos. 1:2;
3:1.) By forsaking the Lord, his people are unfaithful to their covenant
vows, vows made to him who symbolically is their Husband." (Mormon
HOSEA 2:8-9. Hosea to return and take away Gomer's goods.
IN WHAT WAY WAS ANCIENT ISRAEL COMPARABLE TO GOMER?
In this similitude, Gomer was unfaithful to Hosea. How many times
did Israel turn from devotion to the Lord to the worship of idols and commandment
WHO OR WHAT WERE ISRAEL'S "LOVERS" OR THE THINGS THAT CAUSED THE PEOPLE
TO TURN FROM THE LORD?
Idols or other gods.
Practices of the world.
WHAT THINGS MAY BECOME OUR "LOVERS" AND DIVERT US FROM OUR DEDICATION TO
FOLLOWING THE SAVIOR?
We may not be so much different from ancient Israel. The same kinds
of things may become our seducers and "lovers" if we are not diligent. We may not actually believe in idols and false gods, but there are those
who allow their possessions to become their gods. Many get so caught
up in the pursuit of goods that they are led away from devotion to the
Lord. Through the media, the practices of the world are made to look
inviting and lure many away from keeping the commandments.
President Spencer W. Kimball: "Modern idols
or false gods can take such forms as clothes, homes, businesses, machines,
automobiles, pleasure boats, and numerous other material deflectors from
the path to godhood. What difference does it make that the item concerned
is not shaped like an idol? Brigham Young said: 'I would as soon see a
man worshipping a little god made of brass or of wood as to see him worshipping
his property'." (Miracle of Forgiveness, p40-41)
Consider what President Spencer W. Kimball said about one practice of the
world: "We have become a world of Sabbath
breakers. On the Sabbath the lakes are full of boats, the beaches are crowded,
the shows have their best attendance, the golf links are dotted with players.
The Sabbath is the preferred day for rodeos, conventions, family picnics;
and ball games are played on the sacred day. Even the 'stranger that is
within thy gates' is pressed into service. 'Business as usual' is the slogan
for many, and our holy day has become a holiday. And because so many people
treat the day as a holiday numerous others cater to the wants of the fun-lovers
and money-makers." (Miracle of Forgiveness, p46)
TO WHOM DID THE ADULTEROUS WIFE GIVE CREDIT FOR HER FOOD AND CLOTHING?
"...my lovers, that give me my bread and my water, my
wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink" (Hosea 2:5).
USING THIS COMPARISON, TO WHOM DID THE ISRAELITES ATTRIBUTE THE FRUITFUL
LAND IN WHICH THEY LIVED?
Their false gods and idols.
HOW DO PEOPLE TODAY GIVE CREDIT TO FALSE GODS FOR THE BLESSINGS THEY RECEIVE?
In the United States today we hear much about the prosperous circumstances
of the country. Where is the credit for this prosperity given? Politicians, technology, free enterprise, or any number of other factors. Though some of these
things may be elements of our prosperity, consider the words of the Lord to
Nephi, "And inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments,
ye shall prosper, and shall be led to a land of promise; yea, even a land which
I have prepared for you; yea, a land which is choice above all other lands" (1 Nephi 2:20).
Individuals often credit themselves or luck for their blessings. True blessings come only from the Lord and we often see people, even
some of the Saints, giving credit for their blessings to themselves or something
Consider the attitude of the husband towards his unfaithful wife:
HOW DID THE HUSBAND REMIND HIS WIFE THAT HE--NOT HER LOVERS--SUPPLIED HER
WITH FOOD, WATER, AND OTHER POSSESSIONS?
He said that he would return and take away her corn, wine, wool, and flax.
This was certainly prophetic in regards to ancient Israel and Judah. Through their unfaithfulness to the Lord, they lost their blessings and
The same is true for us today. Consider the words of Mormon to those
of us who live in America, "For behold,
this is a land which is choice above all other lands; wherefore he that
doth possess it shall serve God or shall be swept off; for it is the everlasting
decree of God. And it is not until the fulness of iniquity among the children
of the land, that they are swept off" (Ether 2:12).
HOW CAN WE SHOW OUR APPRECIATION TO THE LORD FOR THE BLESSINGS HE GIVES
Mormon's words hold the key, "serve God." We do that by
keeping the commandments and reaching out in service to others by sharing
the gospel, doing work for the dead, and assisting those less fortunate.
We all know how important it is to be grateful and to
be appreciated. I have married children who have children. We did our best to teach them to live righteously
and keep the commandments. They demonstrate to me their gratitude
and appreciation when I see them trying to live right and follow the counsel
we gave them. This is what the Lord wants from us. We are his children and we demonstrate our gratitude to him by the way
we live our lives.
The husband promised his wife if she would return to him, "And
I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me
in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving kindness, and in mercies"
In Hosea 2:6-13, we
see that the husband is not pleased with the wife's actions:
"I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make
a wall, that she shall not find her paths" (v6).
"I return, and take away my corn in the time thereof,
and my wine in the season thereof, and will recover my wool and my flax"
"I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her
feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts"
"I will destroy her vines and her fig trees, whereof
she hath said, These are my rewards that my lovers have given me"
Consider his attitude as shown in
"Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring
her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her" (v14).
"And I will give her her vineyards from thence,
and the valley of Achor for a door of hope" (v15).
"And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea,
I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving
kindness, and in mercies" (v19).
Even though the wife had been unfaithful, the husband still loved her and
wanted her to come back to him. Likewise, the Lord still loves his
people who have gone astray, and he wants them to turn again unto him.
In Hosea 3:1-2, the husband purchased his wife from her lover, "So
I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver, and for an homer of barley,
and an half homer of barley" (v2).
WHAT DOES THE LORD PROMISE HIS PEOPLE IF THEY WILL REPENT AND RETURN TO
HOSEA 2:20, 23.
They can can know the Lord.
He will have mercy upon them.
He will once again call them his people.
WHY IS THIS PROMISE IMPORTANT?
It means we still have a chance. If the opportunity to repent and
receive the forgiveness of the Lord ceased to exist, what would be the
purpose of even living? What would be the reason for seeking to do
good? We would be eternally damned. How grateful we should be that we
can repent and have our sins forgiven.
It is important to note in the culture of this time and place that
women were often considered property and could be bought and sold.
"And I said unto her, Thou shalt abide for me
many days; thou shalt not play the harlot, and thou shalt not be for another
man: so will I also be for thee." (Hosea
WHAT DID THE HUSBAND REQUIRE OF HIS WIFE AFTER HE PURCHASED HER?
To be faithful and true to him only.
WHAT DID HE PROMISE HER?
He would be devoted to her.
Consider these verses:
"Take heed therefore unto yourselves,
and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers,
to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood."
"Forasmuch as ye know that
ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from
your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with
the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without
spot." (1 Peter 1:18-19)
Like the unfaithful wife in Hosea, we have also been purchased if we are
willing to repent and live faithfully. Rather than having been purchased
by silver, barley, and homer, a much greater price has been paid, the infinite
and eternal sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
The Lord Continues To Invite Israel To Repent &
Return To Him
Throughout the book of Hosea, the Lord reproves the Israelites for great sins. Through Hosea, the Lord describes the captivity and destruction
that will result from Israel's wickedness. He invites Israel to repent
and return to him. Israel will be rewarded according to its faithfulness.
HOSEA 11:4. The Lord raises the yoke.
"I will punish them for their ways, and reward
them their doings" (Hosea 4:9).
"Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy;
break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come
and rain righteousness upon you. Ye have plowed wickedness, ye have reaped
iniquity; ye have eaten the fruit of lies: because thou didst trust in
thy way, in the multitude of thy mighty men" (Hosea 10:12-13).
Wickedness brings judgment. Righteousness brings blessings. These effects are both earthly and eternal. President Benson said:
are free to choose, but we are not free to alter the consequences of those
choices" (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p382).
"And by a prophet the
LORD brought Israel out of Egypt." (Hosea 12:13)
"This is an agricultural simile, and refers to
the custom of raising the yoke from the neck and cheeks of the oxen so
that they can more readily eat their food. Henderson says: 'The ol, yoke,
not only included the piece of wood on the neck by which the animal was
fastened to the pole, but also the whole of the harness about the head
which was connected with it. The yokes used in the East are very heavy,
and press so much upon the animals that they are unable to bend their necks'."
(Old Testament Student Manual 2:108)
WHAT DO WE LEARN ABOUT THE LORD'S FEELINGS FOR HIS PEOPLE THROUGH THIS COMPARISON?
Again, we see a demonstration of the Lord's love through his Atonement
for the sins of the people. Without his sacrifice we would be bound
by an eternal yoke and unable to feast on the things of eternal life.
Consider what the Lord has to say about his yoke, "Come
unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart:
and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden
is light" (Matthew 11:28-30).
Hosea's final words: "Who is wise, and he
shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the
ways of the LORD are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors
shall fall therein" (Hosea 14:9).
The Lord reminded the Israelites how their ancestors were delivered out
of captivity in Egypt. He also did this in
Hosea 11:1 and
WHAT MIGHT THIS BE A SIMILITUDE OF?
"I will ransom them from the
power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy
plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from
mine eyes." (Hosea 13:14)
As the Lord delivered Israel from bondage in Egypt, so he will deliver
all who come unto him from sin and death.
HOSEA 14:4-7. The
Lord's promise to Israel if they repent..
Gospel Doctrine Notebook
- The book of Hosea reminds us of the importance of being faithful to the
commandments of the Lord. We are also reminded that if we sin, there
is still a chance for us to be restored to our former blessings. If we repent and strive to live faithfully, we can still be redeemed through
the atonement. What a wonderful blessing! It gives each of us hope.
- Record your thoughts on Hosea's comparison of Israel to the unfaithful
wife. How might these principle apply to your life?
Resources Used In This Lesson
Mormon Doctrine by Bruce R. McConkie.
Old Testament Student Manual - Religion 302.
Prophets & Prophecies of the Old Testament by Duane S. Crowther.
Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson.
The Miracle of Forgiveness by Spencer W. Kimball.
Gospel Doctrine Class
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Changes last made on:
14 August 2014