The assassinations of the Israelite kings (Hos 7:5-7:7)

“On the day of our king,

The officials

Became sick

With the heat of wine.

He stretched out his hand

With mockers.

They are kindled

Like an oven.

Their hearts

Burn with intrigue.

All night,

Their anger smolders.

In the morning,

It blazes

Like a flaming fire.

All of them are hot

As an oven.

They devour their rulers.

All their kings have fallen.

None of them calls upon me.”

Yahweh was upset about the northern Israelite kingdom. Even at the enthronement of the king, some conspirators, drunk with wine, were plotting an overthrow of the new king. This intrigue burned in their hearts. Finally, this smoldering anger would blaze into a flaming fire. They devoured their own rulers. Many kings had fallen. Thus, one of the wicked deeds of the northern kingdom of Israel was their various assassination plots that changed kings. At least 7 kings were murdered in this northern territory. King Pekah (737-732 BCE) had murdered King Pekahiah (7378-737 BCE), the son of King Menahem (743-738 BC). However, the worst crime of all was that no one called on Yahweh for help.

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The false alliance with Assyria (Hos 5:13-5:14)

“Ephraim saw

His sickness.

Judah saw

His wound.

Then Ephraim

Went to Assyria.

He sent

To the great king.

But he is not able

To cure you.

He was not able

To heal your wound.

I will be

Like a lion

To Ephraim.

I will be

Like a young lion

To the house of Judah.

I myself

Will tear.

I will go away.

I will carry off.

None shall rescue.”

Ephraim and Judah saw that they were not in a good place, since they were sick and wounded. King Tiglath-pileser III of Assyria had taken over the northern half of Israel. Then the king of Israel, King Pekah (737-732 BCE) made an alliance with the king of Aram, the area around Damascus, or southern Syria. However, this did not help. Therefore, Yahweh was going to be a lion against Ephraim, and a young lion against Judah. Meanwhile, Yahweh was going to tear himself away. He was not going to rescue them.

The title of Hosea (Hos 1:1-1:1)

“The word of Yahweh

Came to Hosea,

The son of Beeri.

This was in the days

Of King Uzziah,

Of King Jotham,

Of King Ahaz,

Of King Hezekiah,

Kings of Judah.

This was in the days

Of King Jeroboam.

The son of Joash,

The king of Israel.”

Hosea was a prophet during the last days of the kingdom of Israel in the 8th century BCE. He also was the earliest Israelite written prophet that we know of. This work of Hosea is considered the first of the 12 minor prophets. In a classic prophetic phrase, the word of Yahweh came to Hosea, the son of Beeri, who may have been a prophet himself. At that time, the kings of Judah were King Uzziah (781-740 BCE), King Jotham (740-736 BCE), King Ahaz (736-716 BCE), and King Hezekiah (716-687 BCE), spanning nearly 100 years. Meanwhile, the king of Israel mentioned here was only King Jeroboam II (783-743 BCE), the son of King Joash (798-783 BCE). That would eliminate all the Judean kings after King Uzziah. The last 4 kings of Israel were King Menahem, (743-738 BCE), King Pekahiah (738-737 BCE), King Pekah (737-732 BCE), and King Hoshea (732-724 BCE), but they were not mentioned here.

The first defeat (Isa 9:1-9:1)

“There will be no gloom

For those who are in anguish.

In the former time,

He brought into contempt

The land of Zebulun

With the land of Naphtali.

But in the latter time

He will make glorious

The way of the sea,

The land beyond the Jordan,

Galilee of the nations.”

Isaiah indicates that the first defeat was to be in the northern tribe territories of Zebulun and Naphtali, which were closer to Syria around the Sea of Galilee. Perhaps, this is the invasion of the Assyrian King Tiglath-pileser III (745-727 BCE) when King Pekah (737-732 BCE) was the king of Israel. King Tiglath-pileser III captured the northern territory of Israel, including all of Naphtali, as in 2 Kings, chapter 15. He was the first to displace the Israelites since he took captives from these northern cities and brought them to Assyria, probably around 732 BCE. Isaiah speaks of it as a former time. As for the latter time, “The Way of the Sea” was the name of Assyria province set up in what later will be called Galilee in Naphtali. The land on the other side of the Jordan River will also be taken.

Oracle about the Shiloh River and the Euphrates River (Isa 8:5-8:8)

“Yahweh spoke to me again.

‘Because this people have refused                 

The waters of Shiloh

That flow gently,

They melt in fear

Before King Rezin

With the son of Remaliah.

Therefore Yahweh is

Bringing up against them

The mighty flood waters of the river,

The king of Assyria

With all his glory.

It will rise above all its channels.

It will overflow all its banks.

It will sweep on into Judah,

As a flood pouring over it.

It will reach up to the neck.

Its outspread wings

Will fill the breadth of your land.’”

Again Yahweh spoke directly to Isaiah. The Israelites had refused the gentle waters of the Shiloh River that flowed into Jerusalem from Shiloh in the Ephraim territory. They were afraid of the attack from King Rezin of Syria and the son of Remaliah, King Pekah of Samaria. Thus Yahweh, the Lord, had to bring in a substitute to fight from the mighty flood waters of the great river, the Euphrates River. The king of Assyria with all his glory represented this mighty Euphrates River. King Ahaz had made a treaty with him. Thus this powerful river would rise above its channels and banks. It would even sweep into Judah with its flooding waters that would reach up to the neck. This river will spread its wings until it filled up the whole land. Here was the double edged sword. King Ahaz invited the King of Assyria for protection against the northern invaders, but he wanted something in return for that protection that might be Judah itself.

The future demise of Syria and Ephraim (Isa 7:7-7:9)

“Therefore thus says Yahweh God.

‘It shall not stand.

It shall not come to pass.

The head of Syria is Damascus.

The head of Damascus is King Rezin.

Within sixty-five years,

Ephraim will be shattered.

They will no longer be a people.

The head of Ephraim is Samaria.

The head of Samaria is

The son of Remaliah.

If you do not stand firm in faith,

You shall not stand at all.’”

Yahweh then proclaimed that the 2 invaders from the north would not be successful since they would be wiped out. The capital of Syria was in Damascus where King Rezin (792-732 BCE) ruled. The capital of the northern Israelite kingdom of Ephraim was at Samaria, where the son of Remaliah, King Pekah was in charge. Within 65 years, Ephraim would be wiped out. Syria was also going to fall. All that King Ahaz had to do was to remain strong in his faith. If he did not, he too would fall.

The message of Yahweh for King Ahaz (Isa 7:4-7:6)

“Say to King Ahaz.

‘Take heed!

Be quiet!

Do not fear!

Do not let your heart be faint               

Because of these

Two smoldering stumps of firebrands,

Because of the fierce anger

Of King Rezin from Syria,

Because of the son of Remaliah.

Syria with Ephraim,

The son of Remaliah,

Has plotted evil

Against you.

Saying.

‘Let us go up against Judah!

Let us cut off Jerusalem!

Let us conquer it for ourselves!

Let us make the son of Tabeel king in it.’”

The message of Yahweh for King Ahaz via Isaiah was to take heed and be quiet. King Ahaz had nothing to fear, so that he should not be faint hearted. Two firebrands from Syria and Ephraim had plotted together. King Rezin of Syria (792-732 BCE) and the son of Remaliah from Ephraim or northern Israel were coming after him. The unnamed Ephraim son of Remaliah was King Pekah (742-432 BCE), who had been a captain in the king’s army before he killed King Pekahiah and took over. The two of them were going to attack Judah and isolate Jerusalem. They were going to conquer this territory and put their own king of Judah in charge, who was the son of Tabeel. Actually Tabeel is a region on the other northern side of the Jordan River. We do not know much else about this king that never took the throne. Nevertheless, Yahweh via Isaiah wanted to let the King of Judah know what was happening.