Her name was Gomer. It means “corruption.” And rightfully so; you see, Gomer was a temple prostitute. Her duty was to give the worshipers what they wanted and not to complain about it. She had been a slave to this lifestyle who knows how long. She was most likely sold into the business as a child. This was her life. To many Gomer was nothing more than a pretty face, a commodity to be used up and thrown away. At best she was a religious sacrifice unto various deities of fertility.
Diblaim, Gomer’s father had been born into one of the darkest times in Israel’s history. God’s chosen people, Israel, under the rule of Jeroboam the II, had adopted the sensual worship of Baal. Gomer was one of hundreds of temple prostitutes who may have been captured or sold into temple prostitution. A slave to false religion and debauchery she was calloused beyond her years. The priests were the ones who promoted this wickedness in the name of Jehovah. A mixed worship such as this conveniently promoted their own lusts and quenched their inner guilt as they carefully crafted the God of their fathers into their own image.
Gomer tried her best to please the priests. But no matter how much she tried to obey, it was never enough. The frequent physical and verbal abuse was almost as difficult to endure as the nights were. But, the aching in her soul for love was more than she could bear.
And so she tried to find love. She longed to be accepted for who she was … to be important to someone. Gomer felt she never could do enough. Often, she would pray and cry to Baal, hoping that he would be pleased with her service. She always felt so distant from him. Sometimes anger filled her soul because of the bondage and enslavement he caused her; she wondered if he knew her thoughts. What if he was punishing her for her anger toward him? She was plagued by guilt. No matter what she did, nothing would cause the dreadful shame to go away.
Even her name seemed to punish her. Gomer … corruption … the very sound of it was condemning. She wondered if it angered people when they found out what her name was. She was corruption. She so desperately wanted someone to accept and forgive her, but she felt she would never taste of true acceptance and love. Some of the men seemed to love her at first. They would buy her food and wine, lotions and oils. One man even gave her gold and silver jewelry. But the attention would always come to an end. The love just wouldn’t last.
Until one day … It all started just as any other evening. She was frantic – not by choice. The priests were horrible taskmasters. Men were already gathering outside. She made her way systematically through her preparations. Her hair, her face … everything had to be just perfect or she knew what the priests would do. She had long since learned to be prepared for evenings such as this one.
It was her turn. As she stepped reluctantly before the libidinous gaze of the temple gathering, something was different. There was a strange sense of caution in the crowd. She scanned the rabble as she had done so many times before and recognized most of the faces. One individual she knew was here for her and a shudder went down her spine as she recalled his rough visage.
But a new face was in the crowd. This man was obviously different from the others. He was wearing a long robe and he carried a small purse at his waist. There was a mysterious look in his eyes. His piercing gaze caught Gomer’s attention and she felt as if this stranger could read her thoughts. He had a look on his face like one she’d never seen before, it was as though he were sent there by Someone, as if he were on a mission that was greater than even he could understand.
The bidding began in the usual way. The priest was anxious to be rid of this daughter of Diblaim and to get on to the more profitable merchandise. Just when all the bids had ceased, a figure stood from the back of the courtyard. The mysterious man spoke with a voice that was clear and strong, “100 pieces of silver!” The crowd burst into an uproar. No one had ever offered so much for an harlot, it was unheard of. Someone was heard over the rumbling of the crowd, “Who would pay that for a harlot, especially for Gomer?” The insult stung, but she was accustomed to it and pretended not to hear. Another answered, “You’re not going to believe this, it’s the prophet Hosea! What does he want with a harlot?” The priest handling the auction spoke hastily trying to calm the mob, his cold grip on Gomer’s arm as he motioned to the assembly, “Well, I believe it IS Hosea, the prophet of Jehovah. Tell us, Hosea, what do you want with an harlot? Are you going to stone her as Moses commanded?” The jeering crowd erupted into a muffled cackle. The prophet was calculating in his response recognizing the pitfall. The crowd hushed to hear his answer. “This woman shall be my wife! The Lord hath said, ‘Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the LORD. So I will purchase her to me for 100 pieces of silver.”
A thousand thoughts were flooding Gomer’s mind. “The Lord wants a prophet to marry me? This man wants to marry me? Will I never have to be a prostitute again?” As she stood in silence, tears filled her eyes. It was too good to be true! No one had ever paid so much for her before. And certainly, no one had ever wanted her to stay with him. She had always been turned away by every other man as an old garment when it is soiled beyond further use. “Will he love me?” she wondered. “What kind of man would give this fortune to marry a prostitute? What kind of God would send such a man into my life? Could such a dream really come true?”
As Gomer’s mind raced, Hosea was already in action. He reached the platform with that same steady look in his eye. His hand outstretched, there was a question in his eyes, “Will you marry me as God has commanded?” It needed not to be said. Gomer was afraid she would fail as a wife, she was afraid of the unknown, her fear almost paralyzed her. But she knew she had never experienced such love before. With one last glance at the crowd she stepped toward the strange man. Quickly the prophet lifted her trembling body and covered her shame with his own robe. She felt acceptance and freedom for the first time. The joy was beyond her ability to contain as the tears rushed forth.