We read at Hosea 3: 1-2 ( NRSVCE) of the Lord's direction to him to marry a woman:

The Lord said to me again, “Go, love a woman who has a lover and is an adulteress, just as the Lord loves the people of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes.” So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer of barley and a measure of wine.”

But the same verses of NIV read like this:

The Lord said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes. So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and about a homer and a lethek of barley.”

While the NRSVCE depicts Gomer, who would later become Hosea's wife, as a stranger, NIV pictures her as his own former wife , who had deserted him for another man. Of course, there is a lot of symbolic meaning to the whole incident. My question therefore is: How does the Catholic Church explain the difference of marital status in respect of Gomer, the woman whom Prophet Hosea was ordered to marry, as narrated in different versions of the Old Testament?

  • 99% of your questions are related to the understanding of Catholicism. Please start your questions with the phrase : According to Catholicism! This will avoid much misunderstanding.
    – Ken Graham
    Jan 18, 2021 at 7:18
  • Well, I hope it does not create a stereotype. Jan 19, 2021 at 4:51
  • It simply makes things clearer for newcomers.
    – Ken Graham
    Jan 20, 2021 at 8:30

2 Answers 2


As I understand the verse: “Go, love a woman who has a lover and is an adulteress..." It says there, "adulteress" and so she was married. The question is, "To whom?" The answer is to Hosea.

In Good News Translation it says, "The Lord said to me, "Go again and show your love for a woman who is committing adultery with a lover." It says, "AGAIN," which means she was with Hosea and therefore his wife who was an adulteress.

So, what we can learn from this is we should use a Bible translation, which is easier for us to understand. I also struggled understanding God's word because of the Bible translation I was using. Good News Translation (GNT) is just about right (for me, with the Lord's guidance).

  • Thanks. But my focus is not on what is a good translation and what is not. NRSVCE may have stuck to the original while NIV may have added the ``former-wife identity ' to Gomer to show that Hosea did not marry a public adulteress . After all, he had to `buy 'her which hints at his having had no legal marital rights on her before the purchase. . – Jan 19, 2021 at 5:45

I would recommend comparing Hosea 3 to Hosea 1:2-3. The infidelity of Hosea's wife, Gomer, will act as a symbol and reflection of the infidelity of the Lord's bride, Israel. The point is that Hosea was instructed to marry a loose woman. As the Oxford Bible Commentary points out, chapter 3 is a reference back to chapter 1. In chapter 3 the Lord is encouraging Hosea to love Gomer even though she has been unfaithful to him. Various translations get at the same point by including the word "again" in the verse (link). The bridal price referenced in 3:2 is admittedly confusing, but the basic theme is quite clear.

In chapter 1 Gomer was an unmarried, loose woman. In chapter 3 she is Hosea's wife and has committed adultery. This is the simplest explanation.

See also Gomer: Bible, and Is the Woman in Hosea 3 Gomer?

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