Superstock/© 2003 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, NY/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

The prophet Hosea writes his biblical book while his unfaithful wife, Gomer, heads out the door, in this painting by the 20th-century German artist Eugen Spiro. In the Book of Hosea, which was written in the eighth century B.C.E., God gives his prophet a strange order: “Go, take for yourself a wife of whoredom” (Hosea 1:2). For Hosea, Gomer’s unfaithfulness provides an apt metaphor for Israel’s own failure to be true to One God. By introducing the marriage metaphor, Hosea not only transformed how Israel was portrayed, however, but also God—who came to be seen not just as Sovereign Lord, but also as an angry, jealous, yet ultimately loving husband who simply wanted to get his wife (Israel) back.