Should they continue to mourn (Zech 7:2-7:3)

“Now the people of Bethel

Had sent Sharezer

And Regem-melech,

With their men,

To entreat

The favor of Yahweh.

They were to

Ask the priests

Of the house of Yahweh of hosts,

With the prophets,

‘Should I mourn?

Should I practice abstinence

In the fifth month,

As I have done

For so many years?’”

The people of Bethel, from the old northern kingdom of Israel sent a couple of representatives to Jerusalem.  The two men were Sharezer and Regem-melech, both with Assyrian sounding names.  They had come to Jerusalem to find favor with Yahweh.  Thus, they went to his priests and prophets.  They wanted to know if they still had to mourn and abstain in the 5th month of the year as they had done for many years.  Apparently, the 5th month was when the Jerusalem Temple was destroyed in 587 BCE.  Was the time of mourning for the old Temple over?

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Amos was told to leave Israel (Am 7:11-7:13)

“Thus Amos has said.

‘Jeroboam shall die

By the sword!

Israel must go

Into exile

Away from his land!’

Amaziah said

To Amos.

‘O seer!

Go!

Flee away

To the land

Of Judah!

Earn your bread there!

Prophesy there!

But never again prophesy

At Bethel!

It is the king’s sanctuary.

It is a temple

Of the kingdom.’”

Amos had said that King Jeroboam II would die by the sword. Amos had also said that Israel would go into exile. Thus, Amaziah, the main priest at Bethel, told Amos to go back to Judah. There he could earn his keep and prophesize. However, he was to never again prophesize at Bethel, since that was the king’s sanctuary, the temple for the northern kingdom of Israel. This northern priest wanted Amos to go south to Judah, since he did not like what Amos was saying.

Lack of rain (Am 4:7-4:8)

“‘I also withheld

The rain

From you,

When there were

Still three months

To the harvest.

I would send rain

On one city.

But I would send no rain

On another city.

One field would be rained on,

While the field

On which it did not rain

Withered.

Two

Or three towns

Wandered to one town

To drink water.

However,

They were not satisfied.

Yet you did not

Return to me.’

Says Yahweh.”

Amos has another oracle of Yahweh that indicated the lack of rain. Yahweh did not give any rain for 3 months prior to the harvest. He would send rain to one city, but not to another city. One field would have rain, but the field next to it would not have any rain. Thus, the arid field would wither and die. A couple of towns would go to another town to get water to drink, but they were not satisfied. Despite all this lack of rain, the people of the northern kingdom of Israel did not return to Yahweh.

The future destruction of Israel (Am 3:13-3:15)

“‘Hear!

Testify

Against the house of Jacob!’

Says Yahweh God!

The God of hosts!

‘On the day

That I punish Israel

For its transgressions,

I will punish

The altars of Bethel.

The horns of the altar

Shall be cut off.

They shall fall

To the ground.

I will tear down

The winter house,

As well as the summer house.

The houses of ivory

Shall perish.

The great houses

Shall come to an end.’

Says Yahweh.”

Amos has this oracle of Yahweh, the God of many hosts or heavenly armies, about the future destruction of the northern kingdom of Israel. Yahweh wanted them to hear and testify against the house of Jacob. On the day that he was going to punish them, he was going to destroy the altars at Bethel, the holy shrine, with its altar horns. He also was going to tear down the many great houses in Israel, including the winter and summer homes of the officials of the northern kingdom, even the ivory houses.

The death of Ephraim (Hos 13:1-13:1)

“When Ephraim spoke,

There was trembling.

He was exalted

In Israel.

But he incurred guilt

Through Baal.

Thus,

He died.”

People used to tremble when the territory and people of Ephraim spoke. Among the people of the northern kingdom of Israel, Ephraim was exalted. However, Ephraim incurred guilt with their sacrificial altars to Baal. Thus, Ephraim, like Israel, died. This statement assumes the Assyrian capture of the northern kingdom.

The defiled prostitution (Hos 6:10-6:10)

“In the house of Israel,

I have seen a horrible thing.

Ephraim’s prostitution

Is there.

Israel is defiled.”

The house of Israel has committed a terrible thing. They have allowed the prostitution of Ephraim to continue. Thus, the northern kingdom of Israel has defiled itself, with their false worship of other gods.

The desolation of Ephraim (Hos 5:9-5:9)

“Ephraim shall become

A desolation,

In the day of punishment.

Among the tribes of Israel,

I declare what is sure.”

Ephraim would be wiped out, a desolation, at the time of punishment during the Syrian-Assyrian war in 2 Kings, chapter 15. Yahweh was going to single out Ephraim among the various tribes of the northern kingdom of Israel.