God commands Hosea to love an adulterous woman who already has a lover. Whether this is a second woman or just a rehash of the Gomer story is not clear. Either way, it’s another woman who is an adulterous prostitute who doesn’t say anything, which for the Minor Prophets is pretty much par for the course. Hosea buys the woman for some silver, barley and wine, but tells her that they must first be celibate for a while. It’s a symbol of how God will ignore Israel until they want to be with him, thus making Hosea the patron saint of pick-up artists.
Some people believe that this is a story about Hosea reconciling with Gomer after she left him for another man. Depending on one’s point of view, it’s a Lifetime movie or an episode of Jerry Springer. There is also a contentious debate over whether any of this actually happened. Some commentators believe that it is all true, with Hosea’s relationship (or relationships) embodying a profound connection between the human and the divine. Others, however, contend that Hosea’s love life is symbolic or a mystical vision--after all, this is the Holy Bible, not the casual encounters section of Craigslist.