Against the Philistines (Am 1:6-1:8)

“Thus says Yahweh.

‘For three transgressions

Of Gaza,

And for four,

I will not revoke

The punishment.

Because they carried

Into exile

Entire communities,

To hand them over

To Edom.

So,

I will send a fire

On the wall of Gaza.

It shall devour

Its strongholds.

I will cut off

The inhabitants

From Ashdod.

I will cut off

The one who holds

The scepter

From Ashkelon.

I will turn my hand

Against Ekron.

The remnant

Of the Philistines

Shall perish.’

Says Yahweh

God.”

The Philistines had 5 major cities along the Mediterranean coast, west of Judah. The only city not mentioned here was Gath that had been wiped out by the Syrian King Hazael. Otherwise, Yahweh was going to punish the other 4 cities. Gaza was cited as the worst, since the numbering iniquities were about 3 and 4 things, just like the numerical Proverbs, chapter 30. Yahweh was not going to revoke his punishment against them. They were involved in the slave trade with Edom that sent whole communities into exile. Although fire would come to Gaza, Yahweh reminded them that Ashdod, Ashkelon, and Ekron would also suffer. All the remaining Philistines would perish or die. This was clearly an oracle of Yahweh.

A gracious God (Joel 2:13-2:14)

“Return to Yahweh!

Your God!

He is gracious!

He is merciful!

He is slow to anger!

He is abounding

In steadfast love!

He relents

From punishing.

Who knows

Whether he will not turn?

Who knows

Whether he will not relent?

Leave a blessing

Behind him!

Leave a grain offering!

Leave a drink offering

For Yahweh!

Your God!”

Joel continued with the same theme. They should return to Yahweh. Joel used the ancient words about God as gracious and merciful, since Yahweh was slow to get angry. He was abounding in steadfast love. He did not punish easily. Will he return? Will he relent? Your best shot was to leave a blessing, like a grain or drink offering for Yahweh, their God. Clearly, Joel was tied to the Temple, since he considered the grain and drink offering as a blessing.

The role of the prophet (Hos 9:8-9:9)

“The prophet is

A sentinel

For my God

Over Ephraim.

Yet a fowler’s snare

Is on all his ways.

Hostility is

In the house

Of his God.

They have deeply

Corrupted themselves,

As in the days of Gibeah.

He will remember

Their iniquity.

He will punish

Their sins.’”

Hosea said that the prophet should be a sentinel or watchman for God over the territory of Ephraim. However, the bird hunter or fowler had set snares for them. There was so much hostility in the house of God. They simply corrupted themselves too much. It was like in the days of Gibeah, as found in the situation over the concubine at Gibeah, in Judges, chapters 19-21. Then Hosea repeated what he had said in the preceding chapter that Yahweh would remember their iniquity, so that he would punish them for their sins.

Against the false exterior cult (Hos 8:11-8:13)

“When Ephraim

Multiplied altars

To expiate sin,

They became to him

Altars for sinning.

Although I write

For him

The multitude

Of my instructions,

They are regarded

As a strange thing.

Although they offer

Choice sacrifices,

Yahweh does not accept them.

Although they eat

Sacrificed offerings,

Yahweh does not accept them.

Now he will remember

Their iniquity.

He will punish

Their sins.

They shall return

To Egypt.”

The territory of Ephraim, in the northern Israelite kingdom, multiplied the number of altars to ask for forgiveness of sins. In the eyes of Yahweh, they were actually altars of sinning. Yahweh had given them plenty of instructions, but they regarded them as strange sayings, ignoring them. They tried to offer choice sacrifice offerings and eat them. However, Yahweh would not accept them. Instead, he remembered their iniquity. He wanted to punish them for their sins. One of the punishments was to send them back to Egypt.

The false leaders of Israel (Hos 5:1-5:2)

“Hear this!

O priests!

Give heed!

O house of Israel!

Listen!

O house of the king!

The judgment

Pertains to you.

You have been a snare

at Mizpah.

You have spread

A net

Upon Tabor.

You have dug

A deep pit

In Shittim.

But I will punish

All of them.”

Yahweh, via Hosea, spoke to all the people of Israel. He told the priests to listen. He wanted the people of Israel and the royal household to listen also. This judgement pertained to all of them. They had been a snare at Mizpah, the Transjordan city, north of Jerusalem. They had also spread their net over Tabor, Mount Tabor, where there was an idol sanctuary also. They had dug a deep pit at Shittim, where there was religious intermarriage. Yahweh was going to punish them for these anti-Yahweh activities.

Both men and women are guilty of adultery (Hos 4:14-4:14)

“I will not punish

Your daughters,

When they play the prostitute.

I will not punish

Your daughter-in-law,

When they commit adultery.

The men themselves

Go aside with prostitutes.

They sacrifice

With temple prostitutes.

Thus,

A people

Without understanding

Comes to ruin.”

Yahweh, via Hosea, was not going to punish their daughters or daughters-in-law for their prostitution and adultery. The main reason was that the men themselves were committing adultery with prostitutes. They were going to the temple prostitutes of these gods. These Israelites had become a people without any understanding.

The sinfulness of Israel (Hos 4:7-4:9)

“The more they increased,

The more they sinned

Against me.

They changed

Their glory

Into shame.

They feed

On the sin

Of my people.

They are greedy

For their iniquity.

It shall be

Like people,

Like priests.

I will punish them

For their ways.

I will repay them

For their deeds.”

Once again, Yahweh, via Hosea, reminded the people of the northern kingdom of Israel that the more that they grew larger, the more that they sinned against him, Yahweh. They had changed their glory into shame. Their food was sin itself. They were greedy for iniquity. Both the priests and the people shared the blame, so that Yahweh was going to punish them both together. He was going to repay them for their sinful deeds.