Gomer was the unfaithful wife of Hosea, one of the so-called Minor Prophets. His name means “salvation.” Details about his life and death are scant. He was the son of Beeri and lived in the Northern Kingdom during the rule of Jeroboam II, around 786 B.C.-746 B.C. This historical period saw the decline of the covenant between God and the Israelites. The Jews, having broken God's commandments and violated the terms of his covenant with them, are collectively depicted in the book of Hosea as a harlot.
“And the Lord said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the Lord” (Hosea 1:2). Some scholars suggest that the command of God to Hosea was symbolic, and many Jews have a problem with the idea that God would order a devoted follower to take a prostitute for a wife. But Hosea used the travails of his relationship with his wife as a mirror and metaphor to prophesy about the relationship between God and the Jews at that juncture of history.
Their Marriage Produces Three Children
Gomer, daughter of Diblaim and, possibly, a prostitute, married Hosea. She bore three children in succession. The firstborn was a boy, and God commanded Hosea to name him Jezreel. The second child was a girl; Hosea called her Loruhamah. The third child was another boy, named Lo-ammi. The children's names are significant because they symbolize the Lord's relationship with the children of Israel and, in another way, the travails of the marital life of Hosea and Gomer.
Gomer Leaves the Marriage
Some scholars have asserted that Gomer was not a harlot before her marriage to Hosea (although some sources assert that she may have been and that Hosea was her client). one possible explanation for the passage “…take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms…” is the foretelling of what was to come; that is, that Gomer would become unfaithful after marriage. Just as Israel broke her covenant with God, Gomer broke hers with Hosea.
The Children's Names Have Meaning
The naming of Gomer's and Hosea's children is significant in a historical context. The first child was named Jezreel, a valley in which the kings of the Northern Kingdom had caused much bloodshed. The Northern Kingdom's retribution was coming, and God would not show pity. Loruhamah's name means “no pity” or “she is not pitied.” The name Lo-ammi means “not mine” or “not my people.” It was a terrible name with which to saddle a child, yet taken symbolically, it could be said that God wanted the Northern Kingdom to bear the shame of no longer being claimed by the Divine.
Accusations of Infidelity Cause Divorce
Hosea sent Gomer away, saying, “And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find them: then shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better with me than now” (Hosea 2:7). While this mirrors Israel's departure from the covenant with God, it also suggests that Hosea had split from Gomer for good.
Hosea Pays to Get Gomer Back
Gomer may have been living with a lover who demanded money for her release, or perhaps she had become a slave to pay a debt. Whatever the reason, she was not free to return to Hosea. He had to purchase her to get her back. He abstained from sexual relations with her for some time.
Again, symbolically, the return of Hosea's wife mirrored God taking back the Israelites, but not until they had floundered without a ruler for some time (punishment, some might say, for a harlot's bad behavior, or divine retribution for Israel's worship of false gods). However, just as Gomer returned to Hosea, so, too, did Israel again receive God's favor.