There are two Biblical Gomers. One is the oldest son of Jepheth, son of Noah, born after the flood. Three of his six brothers are identified as founders of great nations: the Medes (Madai) who ruled with Persia around the time of Achashverosh of Purim fame; Greece (Yavan) and tent dwelling tribes in the Arabian Peninsula (Meshech).
Gomer is identified in the Talmud as the ancestor of “Germamia” who were dispersed widely, from Armenia and Assyria in the Near East, through to the Welsh in the west who travelled from that area.
The other Gomer was a woman who came from Diblaim, a town on the east bank of the Jordan. God tells Hosea, the prophet of Israel, to marry her and have children with her.
The motive for this was to show the Israelites that the prophet has married a woman who has fallen into morally compromised ways, to reflect on how the people of Israel have strayed away from God.
The name of the prostitute is sexually suggestive. The Talmudic sage Rav said: “Gomer means ‘to finish’, as everyone finished (i.e. had sexual intercourse) with her.”
Gomer and the prophet Hosea had three children together, each named after another message from God to Israel. The first is a boy, Jez-reel, signifying the end of Israelite mil-itary domination over northern Israel. The second is a daughter, Lo-Ruhama, signifying how God is replacing pity with forgiveness for the Judean kingdom.
Two years later, Gomer gives birth to Lo-Ammi, signifying that God no longer identifies Himself with the Kingdom of Israel.
Ultimately, the children of Israel accept the God of Israel in eternal betrothal.
The three verses of betrothal in Hosea are recited when winding the tefillin straps on to the hand.
- Ariel Abel is rabbi of the Liverpool Old Hebrew Congregation