Hosea 3:2
So I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver, and for an homer of barley, and an half homer of barley:
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(2) Pieces of silver.—Shekels.

So I bought her.—Gomer was treated as no longer a wife, but requiring to be restored to such a position. The purchase of wives is still a very common practice in the East (See Henderson’s Commentary, and Deut. xxi 14.)

Half homer of barley.—Half a homer is the translation given to the Hebrew word lethekh, which occurs only in this passage. This rendering is founded on the interpretation half a cor (cor = homer), which is given in all the Greek versions except the LXX. The latter read “and a nébhel of wine,” the nébhel being probably a skin bottle of a certain liquid capacity. This pre-supposes a different Hebrew text. From 2Kings 7:1 we may infer that an ephah of barley at ordinary times would cost one shekel (comp. Amos 8:5), and since a homer contains ten ephahs, the price paid by the prophet was thirty shekels altogether. Reckoning a shekel as = two drachms (so LXX.), or 2s. 6 d., the price paid by Hosea was about £3 15s. According to Exodus 21:32, this was the compensation enacted for a slave gored to death by a bull, and is a hint of the degradation to which Gomer had sunk.

Hosea 3:2. So I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver — That is, according to the ancient custom, I paid her dower. It was usual among the Hebrews for men to purchase, or pay a consideration for, their wives, either by money or labour; thus Jacob agreed to serve Laban seven years for Rachael. And for a homer of barley, &c. — Sir John Chardin observed in the East, that, in their contracts for temporary wives, there is always the formality of a measure of corn mentioned, over and above the stipulated sum of money. — Harmer, vol. 2:513. The low price at which the prophet purchased this woman, was significative how base and of little value the Israelites were, since their apostacy from the worship of God to idolatry. Or, according to Calvin, “the parsimonious gift, a sum of money which was but half the price of a female slave, and a pittance of black barley bread, typified the hard fare which the Israelites were to expect at the hand of God in their state of exile.”

3:1-3 The dislike of men to true religion is because they love objects and forms, which allow them to indulge, instead of mortifying their lusts. How wonderful that a holy God should have good-will to those whose carnal mind is enmity against Him! Here is represented God's gracious dealings with the fallen race of mankind, that had gone from him. This is the covenant of grace he is willing to enter into with them, they must be to him a people, and he will be to them a God. They must accept the punishment of their sin, and must not return to folly. And it is a certain sign that our afflictions are means of good to us, when we are kept from being overcome by the temptations of an afflicted state.So I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver - The fifteen shekels were half the price of a common slave Exodus 21:32, and so may denote her worthlessness. The homer and half-homer of barley, or forty-five bushels, are nearly the allowance of food for a slave among the Romans, four bushels a month. Barley was the offering of one accused of adultery, and, being the food of animals, betokens that she was "like horse and mule which have no understanding." The Jews gave dowries for their wives; but she was the prophet's wife already. It was then perhaps an allowance, whereby he bought her back from her evil freedom, not to live as his wife, but to be honestly maintained, until it should be fit, completely to restore her. 2. I bought her—The price paid is too small to be a probable dowry wherewith to buy a wife from her parents; but it is just half the price of a female slave, in money, the rest of the price being made up in grain (Ex 21:32). Hosea pays this for the redemption of his wife, who has become the slave of her paramour. The price being half grain was because the latter was the allowance of food for the slave, and of the coarsest kind, not wheat, but barley. Israel, as committing sin, was the slave of sin (Joh 8:34; Ro 6:16-20; 2Pe 2:19). The low price expresses Israel's worthlessness. So I bought her; as I was commanded, I procured, or, as we read it, bought her: which exactly answers to the state of the Jews when in Egypt, tainted with Egyptian idolatry, and poor, without a portion; bought or redeemed to be affianced to God.

Fifteen pieces of silver; whatever was the exact quantity and value of these pieces we need not here curiously inquire; but note, it was half the value of a slave, Exodus 21:32, and was some 37s. 6d.

An homer: this measure might be about fourteen bushels; so the whole will, for her diet, amount to twenty-one bushels, no great provision for her diet; and it is

barley in both places, the meanest kind of provision, and suited to a low condition, Judges 7:13 Ezekiel 4:9,12: all this the fuller to set forth Israel’s indigence and ingratitude to God, and God’s bounty to Israel.

So I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver,.... Or, "fifteen shekels", which was about one pound seventeen shillings and six pence of our money, reckoning a shekel at two shillings and six pence; though some make it to be but two shillings and four pence; this was but half the price of a servant, Exodus 21:32, and alludes to the dowry which men used to give to women at their marriage; see 1 Samuel 18:25. The word here used has the signification of digging; hence the Vulgate Latin version renders it, "I dug her"; and the abettors and defenders of it think it refers to the digging, or boring the ears of a servant that chose to continue with his master, Exodus 21:6, but the word is used in the sense of buying, Genesis 1:5, and so Jarchi says it has the sense of merchandise or bargaining; and in the sea coasts he observes, that they call a purchase, Perhaps the word is better rendered by the Septuagint and Arabic versions, "hired"; and "cara" in the Arabic language signifies "to hire"; so it is used in Acts 28:30. So with the Turks, as Monsieur Thevenot (f) observes, a letter out of beasts to hire is called "moucre" or "moukir", which comes from the Arabic word "kira", he says, which signifies to let or hire; and is here fitly used of a harlot. The Jews have many whims and fancies about these fifteen pieces of silver. The Targum, and Pesikta in Jarchi, take them to respect the fifteenth day of Nisan, on which the Israelites were redeemed out of Egypt; according to Aben Ezra, they design the fifteen kings of Judah, from Rehoboam to the captivity, reckoning the sons of Josiah as one, being brethren; according to others, in Kimchi, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the twelve tribes; and, according to Abarbinel, the fifteen prophets that prophesied of the redemption:

and for an homer of barley, and an half homer of barley; a "homer" held ten "ephahs", and a "lethec", or "half homer", five "ephahs", or so many bushels, these making the number fifteen: again, according to Saadiah, they design Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, and the twelve tribes; and, according to Aben Ezra, the number of the high priests in the kingdom of Judah and Jerusalem, a homer making thirty seahs, and a half homer fifteen, in all forty five; but according to others, in Kimchi, these design the forty five days between the coming of the Israelites out of Egypt and their receiving the law: but, leaving these fancies, as the number of shekels given for her was but a low price, and shows what an estimate was made of her; and barley being the coarsest of grain, and bread made of it, that of the worst sort, which the poorer people eat; may be expressive of the captive, servile, mean, and abject state of the people of Israel, from the time of their captivity to their conversion to Christ, as is after more fully explained.

(f) Travels, part 2. B. 1. ch. 3. p. 11.

So {c} I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver, and for an homer of barley, and an half homer of barley:

(c) Yet I loved her and paid a small portion for her, lest she would have perceived the greatness of my love, and abused me, and not been under duty: for fifteen pieces of silver was but half the price of a slave; Ex 21:32.

Verse 2. - So I bought (acquired) her to me for fifteen pieces of silver, and for an homer of barley and an half-homer (margin, lethech) of barley. In narrating the prophet's compliance with the Divine command, the word אֶכְּרֶהָis connected by Aben Ezra with וֶכַר in the sense of making acquaintance with; but it is more correctly referred by Kimchi to כָרָה with daghesh euphonic in the caph as in יִקְּרֵך shall meet thee. "The daghesh of the caph is for euphony as in miqdush, and the root is כַרה (Kimchi). The meaning is then simply and naturally traced as follows: to dig, obtain by digging, acquire. The price paid for the acquisition in this case was either the purchase money paid to the parents of the bride, as to Laban in the case of Rachel and Leah by Jacob, or the marriage present paid (mohar) to the bride herself. Another view represents the prophet paying the price to the woman's husband to whom she had been unfaithful, and who in consequence resigned her for so small a sum. It remains for us to attend to the amount thus paid. Fifteen pieces of silver or shekels would be about one pound fifteen shillings, or one pound seventeen and six-pence; while the price of the barley would he somewhere about the same. There were fifty or sixty shekels in a mana, Greek mina, and Latin ulna; while the maneh was cue-sixtieth of a talent (kikteer); and thus three thousand or three thousand six hundred shekels in a talent. The homer, the largest of the Hebrew dry measures, contained one cor or ten ephahs ( = ten baths of liquids = ten Attic μέδιμνοι), and the half-homer or lethec (haemi-coros in LXX.) was half a cop or five ephahs. These fifteen ephahs, at a shekel each - for under extraordinary circumstances (2 Kings 7:1) we read of" two measures of barley for a shekel" - would be equivalent to one pound fifteen or seventeen shillings and sixpence. Both together - the silver and the barley - would amount to thirty shekels, or three pounds and ten or fifteen shillings. Why this exact amount? and why such particularity in the reckoning? By turning to Exodus 21:32 we learn that thirty shekels were the estimated value of a manservant or maidservant; for it is there stated that "if the ox shall push a manservant or a maidservant, he shall give unto their master thirty shekels of silver." The price paid by the prophet partly in money and partly in kind was exactly the price of an ordinary maidservant. The barley (שְׂעֹרִים, plural, equivalent to "grains of barley") may hint the woman's unchastity, as it was the offering for a woman suspected of adultery (Numbers 5.) The low estate of the person purchased is a legitimate inference kern all this. The wife, for whom such a paltry sum should be paid, and paid in such a way, or to whom such a petty gift would be offered, must be supposed to be in a condition of deep depression or in circumstances of great distress. Thus the sum paid by the prophet for his partner symbolizes the servile state of Israel when Jehovah chose them for his peculiar people. Hosea 3:2"And I acquired her for myself for fifteen pieces of silver, and a homer of barley, and a lethech of barley." אכּרה, with dagesh lene or dirimens (Ewald, 28, b), from kârâh, to dig, to procure by digging, then generally to acquire (see at Deuteronomy 2:6), or obtain by trading (Job 6:27; Job 40:30). Fifteen keseph are fifteen shekels of silver; the word shekel being frequently omitted in statements as to amount (compare Ges. 120, 4, Anm. 2). According to Ezekiel 45:11, the homer contained ten baths or ephahs, and a lethech (ἡμίκορος, lxx) was a half homer. Consequently the prophet gave fifteen shekels of silver and fifteen ephahs of barley; and it is a very natural supposition, especially if we refer to 2 Kings 7:1; 2 Kings 16:18, that at that time an ephah of barley was worth a shekel, in which case the whole price would just amount to the sum for which, according to Exodus 21:32, it was possible to purchase a slave, and was paid half in money and half in barley. The reason for the latter it is impossible to determine with certainty. The price generally, for which the prophet obtained the wife, was probably intended to indicate the servile condition out of which Jehovah purchased Israel to be His people; and the circumstance that the prophet gave no more for the wife than the amount at which a slave could be obtained, according to Ecclesiastes 21:32 and Zechariah 11:12, and that this amount was not even paid in money, but half of it in barley - a kind of food so generally despised throughout antiquity (vile hordeum; see at Numbers 5:15) - was intended to depict still more strikingly the deeply depressed condition of the woman. The price paid, moreover, is not to be regarded as purchase money, for which the wife was obtained from her parents; for it cannot be shown that the custom of purchasing a bride from her parents had any existence among the Israelites (see my Bibl. Archologie, ii. 109, 1). It was rather the marriage present (mōhar), which a bridegroom gave, not to the parents, but to the bride herself, as soon as her consent had been obtained. If, therefore, the woman was satisfied with fifteen shekels and fifteen ephahs of barley, she must have been in a state of very deep distress.
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