God uses the word 'Adultery' for indulging in idolatry in the verse below Jeremiah 3:8-9:

ח וָאֵרֶא, כִּי עַל-כָּל-אֹדוֹת אֲשֶׁר נִאֲפָה מְשֻׁבָה יִשְׂרָאֵל, שִׁלַּחְתִּיהָ, וָאֶתֵּן אֶת-סֵפֶר כְּרִיתֻתֶיהָ אֵלֶיהָ; וְלֹא יָרְאָה בֹּגֵדָה יְהוּדָה, אֲחוֹתָהּ--וַתֵּלֶךְ, וַתִּזֶן גַּם-הִיא. וְהָיָה מִקֹּל זְנוּתָהּ, וַתֶּחֱנַף אֶת-הָאָרֶץ; וַתִּנְאַף אֶת-הָאֶבֶן, וְאֶת-הָעֵץ.

emphasis added to show Adultery with Idols

8 And I saw, when, forasmuch as backsliding Israel had committed adultery, I had put her away and given her a bill of divorcement, that yet treacherous Judah her sister feared not; but she also went and played the harlot;

9 and it came to pass through the lightness of her harlotry, that the land was polluted, and she committed adultery with stones and with stocks;

Why such a strange word or rather unusual euphemism was used for breaking the covenant, Hence wanted to know the significance of using this particular word?

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    -1 You are asking to explain the fact that the word "adultery" is meant as a euphemism for idolatry, but have not explained how you know that to be so. – Double AA Mar 6 '13 at 7:51
  • ; but she also went and played the harlot; – knowit Mar 6 '13 at 8:31
  • @DoubleAA morever the context is clearly idolatry – knowit Mar 6 '13 at 8:35
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    Though I haven't looked this up this passage seems to be saying that God divorced the kingdom of Israel which would explain their current exile but not the kingdom of Judah which played the harlots as well but was not divorced in this verse. – rosends Mar 6 '13 at 11:46
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    You want to know why the downvote? Because this is another instance of you taking prophecies that are meant to motivate repentance and reading into them that the Jews have been rejected. – Seth J Mar 10 '13 at 3:23

Elaborating on what @Dan mentioned in a comment, it is indeed a very common metaphor to depict the relationship between G-d and Israel as a relationship between a husband and his wife.

Indeed, in the Aseres haDibros (The 10 Commandments), the 2nd commandment on the first Tablet is idolatry, and the 2nd commandment on the 2nd Tablet is adultery.

There are, of course, more explicit connections - both in the prophets (the verse you quoted here, and in a different question of divorce, and the entire Shir haShirim [Song of Songs] is based on that allegory as well) and in Rabbinical literature, - Talmud and the midrashim.

It seems on a basec level, one of the reasons for the parallel is that both relationships are classically a model of giving and receiving, that is built on trust and experience, so the nature of the relationship is somewhat similar.

I am sure there are other deeper explanations, but I hope this is a good frist steip in your research.

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Maybe I'm just paraphrasing GT's answer.

  1. As stated, Knesset Israel (the Israeli Nation) is compared to a woman (see Shir Hashirim) and G-d to her husband.

  2. The only source of [spiritual and material] שפע (profusion?) of a woman comes from her husband (in Judaism) through her close [intimate] relationship with him.

  3. Sometimes a woman feels an urge to have an additional/alternative source. In humans, it is called adultery.

  4. The very same idea lays in idolatry - the wish to be influenced by sources other than G-d Himself.

So, while unapplicable to a single person, for the entire nation, adultery and idolatry serve the same goal - the urge to replace G-d as our only source of שפע. This is the reason they are figuratively used almost interchangeably in prophecies concerning the fate of the Jewish people.

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