Ephraim has become a rich trader (Hos 12:7-12:8)

“Ephraim was a trader.

His hands

Have false balances.

He loves to oppress people.

Ephraim has said.

‘O!

I am rich.

I have gained wealth

For myself.

In all of my gain,

No offense

Has been found

In me

That would be a sin.’”

Ephraim was a trader, which is the same word as Canaanite. In other words, Ephraim had become like a common Canaanite trader with false balances in his trades. He loved to oppress the people. However, he justified his wealth and gain by saying that that in becoming wealthy, he had not sinned. No one could find anything wrong with him.

Israel as an ungrateful child (Hos 11:1-11:4)

“When Israel was a child,

I loved him.

I called my son

Out of Egypt.

The more I called them,

The more they went from me.

They kept sacrificing

To the Baals.

They kept offering incense

To idols.

Yet it was I

Who taught Ephraim

To walk.

I took them up

In my arms.

But they did not know

That I healed them.

I led them

With cords

Of human kindness.

I led them

With the bands of love.

I was to them

Like those who lift infants

To their cheeks.

I bent down to them.

I fed them.”

When Israel was a child, Yahweh loved him. He had called his son out of Egypt. However, the more that he called them, the more that they went from him. They kept sacrificing to the Baals, offering incense to these idols. Yahweh was the one who taught Ephraim how to walk. He took him up in his arms. They did not know that he had healed them. He led them around with cords of human kindness and bands of love. He lifted them up to his cheeks. He bent down to fed them. Now instead of Israel or Ephraim as an unfaithful lover as earlier in this work, Israel and Ephraim have become ungrateful children.

The problem of Ephraim (Hos 4:17-4:19)

“Ephraim is joined

To idols.

Let him alone!

When their drinking

Is ended,

They indulge

In sexual orgies.

They love lewdness

More than their glory.

A wind has wrapped them

In its wings.

They shall be ashamed,

Because of their altars.”

The people of the Ephraim territory in the northern kingdom of Israel were stuck to their idols. Hosea wanted them to leave these idols alone. When they were not drinking heavily, they were involved with sexual orgies. They loved their lewd lifestyle more than the glory of righteousness. A wind had gotten ahold of them. They would be ashamed because of their many idol altars.

Pity for Judah (Hos 1:7-1:7)

“But I will have pity

On the house of Judah.

I will save them

By Yahweh,

Their God.

I will not save them

By bow,

Or by sword,

Or by war,

Or by horses,

Or by horsemen.”

Apparently, this was a later insertion that Yahweh was still going to have pity on the southern kingdom of Judah. Yahweh, their God, would save them, but this was Yahweh speaking. He was not going to save them by bow, sword, war, horses, or horsemen. In other words, he would not interfere, but at the same time still save the house of Judah, because he loved and pitied them.

All the lovers in one place (Ezek 16:35-16:37)

“Therefore!

O whore!

Hear the word of Yahweh!

Thus says Yahweh God!

‘Your lust

Was poured out.

Your nakedness

Was uncovered

In your prostitution activities

With your lovers.

All your idols

Were laid bare.

The blood

Of your children

That you gave them

Was poured out.

Therefore,

I will gather

All your lovers,

With whom

You took pleasure.

I will gather

All those you loved.

I will gather

All those you hated.

I will gather them

Against you

From all around.

I will uncover

Your nakedness

To them.

Thus they may see

All your nakedness.’”

Yahweh clearly called Jerusalem a whore who was going to listen to his word. Jerusalem’s lust was apparent in her nakedness. She had revealed herself with her prostitution activities with all her lovers. Her idols were laid bare. The blood of her children was poured out. Yahweh was going to gather all her lovers with whom she had pleasure. He would gather the ones that she loved and as well as those she hated from all over. Then when they were all gathered together, Yahweh was going to embarrass her by uncovering her nakedness. Thus everyone could see the naked Jerusalem.

Wisdom and incarnation (Bar 3:35-3:37)

“This is our God!

No other can be

Compared to him!

He found the whole way

To knowledge.

He gave her

To his servant

Jacob.

He gave her

To Israel

Whom he loved.

Afterward she appeared

On earth.

She lived

With humans.”

This section of Baruch indicates that wisdom became human in some sense, like an incarnation. Surely God, and not Yahweh, was the creator of the world. Thus no other god or person could compare with him. He had full knowledge of everything. He was omniscient. Thus he gave wisdom to his servant Jacob. He also gave wisdom to Israel, whom he loved. The use of both Jacob and Israel is interesting, since it implies that Jacob was a person and Israel was a name of all his descendants. Then there is the final intriguing comment about how she, wisdom, appeared on earth and lived with humans. Some Christians see this as a hint about the incarnation of Jesus. However, it should be noted that the reference is to a she, a female. Wisdom was generally seen as feminine, not masculine like Jesus. Finally, she has already appeared, so that this is not a future aspirational comment. Wisdom is already living among humans. You just have to find this personification of wisdom here on earth.

They all go to Egypt (Jer 43:4-43:7)

“So Johanan,

The son of Kareah,

With all the commanders

Of the forces,

With all the people,

Did not obey

The voice of Yahweh,

To stay in the land of Judah.

But Johanan,

The son of Kareah,

With all the commanders

Of the forces,

Took all the remnant of Judah,

Who had returned

To settle in the land of Judah

From all the nations

To which they had been driven.

This included

The men,

The women,

The children,

The princesses,

As well as everyone

Whom Nebuzaradan,

The captain of the guard,

Had left with Gedaliah,

The son of Ahikam,

The son of Shaphan.

This also included

The prophet Jeremiah

With Baruch,

The son of Neriah.

They came into the land of Egypt.

They did not obey

The voice of Yahweh.

They arrived at Tahpanhes.”

Jeremiah recounts that Johanan with all his commanders did not obey the voice of Yahweh to stay in Judah. They then took all the remnant of those people who had returned to Judah from the other countries to be with the former governor of Judah, Gedaliah. Thus they took the men, women, children, with the royal princesses and all those that the Babylonian captain Nebuzaradan had handed over to Gedaliah to take care of. This group also included Jeremiah and his secretary Baruch. They all ended up at the Egyptian border town of Tahpanhes. Interesting enough, Jeremiah, who loved Babylon, went to Egypt instead. It did not take 40 years to go from Israel to Egypt in this reverse Exodus.

The wrath of Yahweh for those going to Egypt (Jer 42:18-42:18)

“Thus says Yahweh of hosts!

The God of Israel!

‘Just as my anger,

Just as my wrath,

Was poured out

On the inhabitants

Of Jerusalem,

So my wrath

Will be poured out

On you

When you go to Egypt.

You shall become an object

Of execration,

Of horror,

Of cursing,

Of ridicule.

You shall see this place

No more.’”

Yahweh did not hold back his anger or wrath. Jeremiah says that Yahweh said that he was not going to make it easy for them. Just as he had shown his anger to the people of Jerusalem with the downfall of that city, so too he would do the same to anyone who went to Egypt. If they went to Egypt, they would become like execration, like a horror. They would be cursed at and ridiculed. They no longer would see this land that they loved so much.

The stern response of Yahweh (Jer 14:10-14:10)

“Thus says Yahweh

Concerning this people.

‘Truly they have loved to wander.

They have not restrained their feet.

Therefore Yahweh does not accept them.

Now he will remember their iniquity.

He will punish their sins.’”

Yahweh gave an unambiguous response to this sinful confession of the people. He said that they loved to wander. They had not restrained their feet. Therefore, Yahweh was not going to accept them because he was going to remember their iniquities. He was going to punish them for their sins.

The bones of the dead people (Jer 8:1-8:3)

“Says Yahweh.

‘At that time,

The bones of the kings of Judah,

The bones of its officials,

The bones of the priests,

The bones of the prophets,

The bones of the inhabitants of Jerusalem

Shall be brought out of their tombs.

They shall be spread

Before the sun,

Before the moon,

Before all the host of heaven.

They have loved these heavenly bodies.

They have served them.

They have followed them.

They have inquired after them.

They have worshiped them.

Their bones shall not be gathered.

Their bones shall not be buried.

They shall be

Like dung

On the surface of the ground.

Death shall be preferred

To life

By all the remnant

That remains of this evil family

In all the places

Where I have driven them.’

Says Yahweh of hosts.”

Yahweh, via Jeremiah, speaks in ironic terms about the bones of the people of Judah and Jerusalem. The bones of all the people, whether they were the kings, the officials, the priests, the prophets, or the inhabitants of Jerusalem, would be brought out their tombs. These bones would be spread out before the sun, the moon, and the hosts of heavens. They had followed, loved, served, and worshiped these heavenly bodies. Thus their bones would not be buried, but rather scattered on the ground like dung. People would prefer death over life. This also refers to all the remaining people of this evil family, no matter where they have been driven to. Thus Yahweh has spoken about the disgrace of the people of Judah and Jerusalem.