The Bible Says What? ‘God told Hosea to take a wife of whoredom’

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

The Bible Says What? ‘God told Hosea to take a wife of whoredom’

Rabbi Alexandra Wright takes a controversial topic from Torah and looks at a Liberal Jewish view

Torah scroll (Photo by Tanner Mardis on Unsplash)
Torah scroll (Photo by Tanner Mardis on Unsplash)

‘From there I will give her back her vineyards and make the Valley of Disturbance the Door of Hope.’ (Hosea 2:17).

Hosea, the first of the 12 ‘minor’ prophets in the Hebrew Bible preached to the northern kingdom of Israel in the 8th century BCE.

Israel had lost her outlying lands to Assyria. Hosea scorned appeals to Egypt ad Assyria and the people’s faithless wandering. The most difficult part lies in the imagery the prophet employs of God and Israel.God is a wronged husband, Israel an adulterous wife; God has sent her away because of her ‘whorings’. He strips her naked and exposes her as on the day she was born. 

In an extraordinary rhetorical device, this God tells Hosea himself to take a wife of ‘whoredom’ and to beget children of ‘whoredom’. And Hosea’s marital experience becomes a mirror of God’s own experience with Israel. His wife is named Gomer (‘finished’), his children Lo ruhamah (‘not accepted’) and Lo Ammi (‘not my people’). 

And yet, despite the brutal imagery, there is also a compelling message of reconciliation and love. 

The 40 years in the wilderness are seen as a time of courtship between God and Israel, the place where God entices His people and speaks tenderly to their heart. 

It is the above verse that speaks to us painfully now, as we witness events taking place throughout Israel and the Palestinian territories of Gaza and the West Bank.

 Israel and Palestine may be unable to embrace the words of love in Hosea but, at some point, we can hope leaders will embrace the prophet’s vision of righteousness and justice, goodness and mercy and the Valley of Disturbance will become the Door of Hope.

  •  Alexandra Wright is Senior Rabbi at The Liberal Jewish Synagogue

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: