Then the Lord said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by her husband, yet an adulteress, even as the Lord loves the sons of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes.”
So I bought her for myself for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a half of barley. Then I said to her, “You shall stay with me for many days. You shall not play the harlot, nor shall you have a man; so I will also be toward you.”
For the sons of Israel will remain for many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar and without ephod or household idols. Afterward the sons of Israel will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king; and they will come trembling to the Lord and to His goodness in the last days.
The world is bright and wonderful in the arms of love. Hosea loved his wife, even though she was sleeping with other men, just as God loved Israel, even though they insisted on worshipping other deities. Fifteen shekels of silver was about six ounces of silver, while a homer and a half of barley was about 430 pounds. The raison cakes, in this context, referred to the food used during the worship of other gods, such as Asherah.
Despite the fact that his wife had been and seemingly continued to be with other men, Hosea was instructed to buy her back. He told her that she had to remain with him after that and that she could not continue behaving or living as a prostitute. In the same way, Israel would no longer have contact with those things that were part of their idolatrous relationships. That is, as Gomer must turn from other men, Israel must turn away from other deities: from their idols, ephods and pillars. Then, they would finally remain faithful to God.
There was not a sense here that Gomer had repented, any more than there was a sense that Israel had repented. Instead, they were being forced into a process that would lead them to repentance: Gomer exiled from her lovers and Israel exiled from her land. Both exiles would lead to restoration. God punishes us, not to destroy us, but to transform us, to restore us, and to make us lovely and wonderful once more.