Or, as the Targum,Hosea 3:2
So I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of
Or, "fifteen shekels", which was about one pound seventeen shillings and six pence of our money, reckoning a shekel at two shillings and six pence; though some make it to be but two shillings and four pence; this was but half the price of a servant, ( Exodus 21:32 ) , and alludes to the dowry which men used to give to women at their marriage; see ( 1 Samuel 18:25 ) . The word here used has the signification of digging; hence the Vulgate Latin version renders it, "I dug her"; and the abettors and defenders of it think it refers to the digging, or boring the ears of a servant that chose to continue with his master, ( Exodus 21:6 ) , but the word is used in the sense of buying, ( Genesis 1:5 ) ( Deuteronomy 2:6 ) , and so Jarchi says it has the sense of merchandise or bargaining; and in the sea coasts he observes, that they call (hrykm) , a purchase, (hryk) . Perhaps the word is better rendered by the Septuagint and Arabic versions, "hired"; and <arabic> "cara" in the Arabic language signifies "to hire"; so it is used in ( Acts 28:30 ) . So with the Turks, as Monsieur Thevenot F6 observes, a letter out of beasts to hire is called "moucre" or "moukir", which comes from the Arabic word "kira", he says, which signifies to let or hire; and is here fitly used of a harlot. The Jews have many whims and fancies about these fifteen pieces of silver. The Targum, and Pesikta in Jarchi, take them to respect the fifteenth day of Nisan, on which the Israelites were redeemed out of Egypt; according to Aben Ezra, they design the fifteen kings of Judah, from Rehoboam to the captivity, reckoning the sons of Josiah as one, being brethren; according to others, in Kimchi, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the twelve tribes; and, according to Abarbinel, the fifteen prophets that prophesied of the redemption: and for an homer of barley, and an half homer of barley;
a "homer" held ten "ephahs", and a "lethec", or "half homer", five "ephahs", or so many bushels, these making the number fifteen: again, according to Saadiah, they design Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, and the twelve tribes; and, according to Aben Ezra, the number of the high priests in the kingdom of Judah and Jerusalem, a homer making thirty seahs, and a half homer fifteen, in all forty five; but according to others, in Kimchi, these design the forty five days between the coming of the Israelites out of Egypt and their receiving the law: but, leaving these fancies, as the number of shekels given for her was but a low price, and shows what an estimate was made of her; and barley being the coarsest of grain, and bread made of it, that of the worst sort, which the poorer people eat; may be expressive of the captive, servile, mean, and abject state of the people of Israel, from the time of their captivity to their conversion to Christ, as is after more fully explained.
F6 Travels, part 2. B. 1. ch. 3. p. 11.