The adulterous conspirators (Hos 7:3-7:4)

“By their wickedness,

They make the king glad.

They make the officials glad

By their treachery.

They are all adulterers.

They are like a heated oven,

Whose baker does not need

To stir the fire,

From the kneading

Of the dough

Until it is leavened.”

There was a conspiracy of silence. The wicked actions of many made the king happy. The officials gladly accepted treacherous talk. They were all adulterers. There was a time between the kneading or the forming of the dough until the fermentation or leavening of the bread, when the oven was at its hottest point. Thus, the baker would not have to stir the fire, because it was so hot. So too, their wicked ways made them hot.

The death of the false prophets (Jer 29:21-29:23)

“Thus says Yahweh of hosts,

The God of Israel,

Concerning Ahab,

The son of Kolaiah,

As well as Zedekiah,

The son of Maaseiah.

‘They were prophesying a lie

To you in my name.

I am going to deliver them

Into the hand

Of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.

He shall kill them

Before your eyes.

On account of them,

This curse shall be used

By all the exiles from Judah

In Babylon.

‘Yahweh makes you

Like Zedekiah,

Like Ahab,

Whom the king of Babylon

Roasted in the fire.’

Because they have

Perpetuated outrage

In Israel.

They have committed adultery

With their neighbors’ wives.

They have spoken in my name

Lying words

That I did not command them.

I am the one who knows.

I bear witness.

Says Yahweh.’”

Yahweh talked about two prophets whom King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon roasted in a fire. These two prophets were Ahab, the son of Kolaiah, and Zedekiah, the son of Maaseiah. There was a king of northern Israel in the 9th century (874-853 BCE) named King Ahab with his wife Jezebel, who had confrontations with the prophet Elijah, as found in 1 Kings, chapters 16-22. However, this Ahab is only mentioned here. Zedekiah has the same name as the current king of Judah. His father Maaseiah was also the father of the priest Zephaniah, mentioned in chapter 21. This Zedekiah is not mentioned elsewhere either. These two prophets were prophesying lies that Yahweh had not commanded, so that they deserved to be killed by the king of Babylon. We do not know exactly what lies they were telling, but they also were adulterers. They may have tried to rebel against the king. Thus their names would be a curse.

The bad situation of Jeremiah (Jer 23:9-23:10)

“My heart is crushed

Within me

Concerning the prophets.

All my bones shake.

I have become

Like a drunken man

Because of Yahweh.

I have become

Like one overcome by wine

Because of his holy words.

The land is full of adulterers.

Because of the curse,

The land mourns.

The pastures of the wilderness

Are dried up.

Their course has been evil.

Their might is not right.”

Jeremiah complains about the terrible situation he is in. His heart is crushed. His bones shake. He has become like a drunkard, overcome with wine, because of Yahweh and his words. His land is full of adulterers. His land itself mourns as the pastures have dried up. There is evil all around. No one does the right thing. Jeremiah is worried.

A lamentation about the moral corruption of Judah (Jer 9:1-9:3)

“‘O that my head were a spring of water!

O that my eyes were a fountain of tears!

Thus I might weep day and night

For the slain of my poor people!

O that I had in the desert

A traveler’s lodging place!

Thus I might leave my people!

Thus I might go away from them!

They are all adulterers.

They are a band of traitors.

They bend their tongue

Like bows.

They have grown strong in the land

Because of falsehood,

Not because of truth.

They proceed from evil to evil.

They do not know me.’

Says Yahweh.”

Jeremiah has another oracle of Yahweh that speaks out about his lament over the corruption in Judah. Yahweh wished that he had a head with a spring of water or fountain of tears in his eyes, so that he could weep all day and night for the dead people of Judah. He wished that he had a lodging place in the desert so that he could get away from his poor people. They were all adulterers and traitors. They bent their tongues like bows with all their falsehood, instead of truth. They simply went from one evil to another evil. They did not even know Yahweh. It was a terrible scene. There is a slight discrepancy of the verse numbers since this first verse in the Jerusalem Bible is the last of the preceding chapter. However, I will follow the Revised Standard edition numbering for this chapter.

The wicked ones (Isa 57:3-57:4)

“But as for you!

Come here!

You children of a sorceress!

You offspring of an adulterer!

You offspring of a whore!

Whom are you mocking?

Against whom

Do you open your mouth wide?

Against whom

Do you stick out your tongue?

Are you not

The children of transgression?

Are you not

The offspring of deceit?”

Now Third Isaiah has a tirade against the wicked Israelites. They are the children of sorceress, adulterers, and whores. What can you expect from them? They mock others. They open their mouths wide. They stick out their tongues. They are the children of transgressions and deceit. These are the illegitimate children of Israel, the apostates, those who do not follow the law, the wicked ones.

God speaks to the wicked (Ps 50:16-50:18)

“But to the wicked,

God says.

‘What right have you

To recite my statutes?

What right have you

To take my covenant on your lips?

You hate discipline!

You cast my words behind you!

You make friends with a thief,

When you see one.

You keep company

With adulterers.’”

This is one of the few times where God speaks directly to the wicked. It is usually about them. He asked them what right they had to recite his statutes. What right did they have to put the covenant on their lips? The wicked hated discipline. They put God’s word behind them. They made friends with thieves and adulterers. This is a strong direct description and rebuke of the wicked.

The wicked are against the light (Job 24:13-24:17)

There are those who rebel against the light.

They are not acquainted with its ways.

They do not stay in its paths.

The murderer rises in the dark,

In order to kill the poor and the needy.

In the night he is like a thief.

The eye of the adulterer also waits for the twilight,

Saying,

‘No eye will see me.’

He disguises his face.

In the dark they dig through houses.

By day they shut themselves up.

They do not know the light.

Deep darkness is morning to all of them.

They are friends with the terrors of deep darkness.”

This is a diatribe against the darkness. The wicked rebel against the light. They do not like the light. That is why murderers like the darkness. They are like a thief at night. They attack the poor and the needy. The adulterers think that no one will see them at night. In fact, they prefer the twilight and do not like the morning sun. Deep darkness is all around them and their terrors. Thus the common theme of darkness, black, and bad versus light and goodness.