Ish is the Hebrew word for “husband” in Hosea 2:2, 16. The word ba’al in the Hebrew Scriptures can also be translated “husband” (as well as “lord,” “owner,” or “master”), though this term usually refers to the Canaanite fertility god Baal (ba’al does occur in Hosea 2:16, “master”). Remarkably, in Isaiah and Jeremiah, this word is also used to describe God as the husband of His people, Israel. Though we never pray to ba’al, we do pray to the God who is the ideal husband, the one who provides for and protects His people and who refuses to divorce us no matter how unfaithful we may be. In the New Testament Jesus is presented as the bridegroom and the church as his bride.
“On that day she will call me her Ish,” declares Yahweh.
“She will no longer call me her master.
— Hosea 2:16
GOD REVEALS HIS NAME IN SCRIPTURE
HOSEA 1; 2:5–7, 16, 19–20; 3:1
Open your personal Bible translation and read the same passage. Make note where God calls Himself ISH.
2 When Yahweh first spoke to Hosea, Yahweh told him, “Marry a prostitute, and have children with that prostitute. The people in this land have acted like prostitutes and abandoned Yahweh.”
She said, ‘I’ll chase after my lovers. They will give me food and water, wool and linen, olive oil and wine.’
“That is why I will block her way with thornbushes and build a wall so that she can’t get through.
She will run after her lovers, but she won’t catch them. She will search for them, but she won’t find them. Then she will say, ‘I’ll go back to my first husband.
Things were better for me than they are now.’
“On that day she will call me her Ish,” declares Yahweh. “She will no longer call me her master.
“Israel, I will make you my wife forever. I will be honest and faithful to you. I will show you my love and compassion.
20 I will be true to you, my wife. Then you will know Yahweh.”
Then Yahweh told me, “Love your wife again, even though she is loved by others and has committed adultery. Love her as I, Yahweh, love the Israelites, even though they have turned to other gods.
Understanding the Name
God’s passionate love for Israel is reflected in the Hebrew word Ish (EESH), meaning “husband.” When it is applied to God in the Hebrew Scriptures, it symbolizes the ideal relationship between God and Israel. God is the perfect husband — loving, forgiving, and faithful, providing for and protecting His people. This metaphor of monogamous marriage between God and His people is strengthened in the New Testament, which reveals Jesus as the loving, sacrificial bridegroom of the church. Our destiny, our greatest purpose as God’s people, is to become His bride.
Connecting to the Name
1.Why would God tell Hosea to marry a woman who would break his heart and make a fool of him?
2.Put yourself in Hosea’s place and imagine what you would feel like if your spouse were a prostitute or a philanderer. Now think about how God feels when His people stray from Him. How do you think God responds to unfaithfulness?
3.What kind of love is expressed in these verses?
4.What encouragement for your own life can you take from the story of Hosea and Gomer?
5.What encouragement can you take for the church?
6.Have you settled for a relationship that keeps God at arm’s length? In what ways could you lower your guard and start responding to Him, believing that He is your ideal husband?
Praying A PASSAGE with God’s Name
Praise God because He has revealed Himself as a husband of unlimited compassion. Focus on the name Ish, Husband, as you read Isaiah 54:5–7.
Your husband is your maker...
“Yahweh has called you as if you were
a wife who was abandoned and in grief,
a wife who married young and was rejected,” says your Elohim.
“I abandoned you for one brief moment,
but I will bring you back with unlimited compassion.
PRAYING THE NAME ISH FOR MYSELF
Look up and read: Hosea 2:16
Warnings against idol worship can be found throughout Scripture. It’s easy to think of idols as foreign objects, and ones that could be easily recognized. But, just by looking at the history of the Israelites, it seems like idols have always been insidious in nature, ready to slip into our lives without our notice. Humble yourself before God, your Ish, and ask Him to show you if there are any idols present in your life.
Promises from Ish
“Israel, I will make you my wife forever.
I will be honest and faithful to you.
I will show you My love and compassion.
Then I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of Heaven, dressed like a bride ready for her husband.
FOR DEEPER STUDY
Read the following passages, considering the name ISH and how its meaning relates to the context of the passage.
Song of Songs 8:6–7 Isaiah 62:4–5 Jeremiah 3:14, 20 Ephesians 5:25–30
Excerpted with permission from Praying the Names of God for 52 Weeks by Ann Spangler, copyright Ann Spangler.
* * *
What does it mean to you that God is the ideal Husband? Does that bring you comfort? What kind of love does the story of Hosea and Gomer show you personally? Come share your thoughts with us. We want to hear from you about God as a Husband! ~ Devotionals Daily