The Use of Marriage and Family Metaphors in the Prophecy of Hosea

Original Research

The Use of Marriage and Family Metaphors in the Prophecy of Hosea 

Philip Igbo

Nsukka Journal of Religion and Cultural Studies | Vol 11, No 1 | © 2023 Philip Igbo | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0

Submitted: 15 March 2023 | Published: 28 July 2023


About the author(s)

Philip Igbo, a Lecturer at Spiritan International School of Theology, Attakwu, Enugu State, Nigeria

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One of the remarkable features of the book of Hosea is the use of the marriage metaphor. Hosea is the first Hebrew prophet to employ the marriage metaphor to portray God’s covenant relationship with Israel, one in which Israel became unfaithful. Hosea is a prophet of divine love. He portrays God as a lover who is betrayed by the infidelity of his beloved people (Israel). Hosea portrays Israel’s idolatry and syncretism with the Canaanite religion as adultery. Marital infidelity in any culture has always been frowned at. But if we analyze the Hosean text in the light of modern-day understanding, we cannot but say that the punishment meted out to Gomer by her aggrieved husband is rather too harsh. She is subjected to enforced seclusion, deprived of food and clothing, and stripped naked to shame and humiliate her. This is an expression of violence against women. Unfortunately, in biblical times, such a behaviour seemed to have been allowed towards women who were found to be guilty of adultery. While we must interpret this passage in the light of the culture of the time it was written, the text does not in any way justify any kind of marital violence against women.


Marriage, Infidelity, Adultery, Idolatry, Hosea, Gomer