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.

The son of Hosea is called Jezreel (Hos 1:3-1:5)

“Gomer conceived.

She bore him a son.

Yahweh said to him,

‘Name him Jezreel!

In a little while,

I will punish

The house of Jehu

For the blood of Jezreel.

I will put an end

To the kingdom

Of the house of Israel.

On that day,

I will break

The bow of Israel

In the valley of Jezreel.’”

Gomer then conceived and bore a son. Yahweh, spoke directly to Hosea. He told him to name his son, Jezreel, meaning that God sows. All the children of this union between Hosea and Gomer will have symbolic prophetic names. In a little while, Yahweh was going to punish the house of Jehu, who had been king nearly a century earlier in 841-814 BCE. The current king of Israel, King Jeroboam II (783-743 BCE) was a descendant of King Jehu. Jezreel was also the name of the royal palace where King Jehu had killed the descendants of King Omri (885-874 BCE). The dynasty of King Jehu actually ended with the son of King Jeroboam II, King Zachariah in 743 BCE, after the death of King Jeroboam. Yahweh also said that the house of Israel would come to an end, which it did in 724 BCE. Thus, Yahweh was going to break the bow of Israel in Jezreel, the northern royal palace. Jezreel was also the name of the valley of Megiddo. The so-called history of the northern Israelite kings, especially King Jehu, can be found in 2 Kings, chapters 9-10.

No pity (Ezek 7:8-7:9)

“Soon now,

I will pour out

My wrath

Upon you.

I will spend

My anger

Against you.

I will judge you

According to your ways.

I will punish you

For all your abominations.

My eye

Will not spare you.

I will have no pity.

I will punish you

According to your ways,

While your abominations

Are among you.

Then you shall know

That it is I,

Yahweh,

Who strikes.”

This is exactly the same as the opening verses of this chapter. Yahweh’s anger was going to be let loose on them. He was going to judge them according to their ways. He was going to punish them for their abominations. He would not spare them. He would not have pity on them. By punishing them for their evil ways, they would come to recognize that Yahweh was in charge. He was the God Yahweh who was striking them. They better not forget this.

The end of the land of Israel is near (Ezek 7:1-7:4)

“The word of Yahweh

Came to me.

‘You!

O son of man!

Thus says Yahweh God

To the land of Israel!

An end!

The end has come

Upon the four corners

Of the land.

Now the end is

Upon you.

I will let loose

My anger

Upon you.

I will judge you

According to your ways.

I will punish you

For all your abominations.

My eye

Will not spare you.

I will have no pity.

I will punish you

For your ways,

While your abominations

Are among you.

Then you shall know

That I am Yahweh.’”

The word of Yahweh came to Ezekiel, the son of man. Yahweh in this oracle told Ezekiel that the end of the land of Israel was coming soon. His anger was going to be let loose on them. He was going to judge them according to their ways. He was going to punish them for their abominations. He would not spare them. He would not have pity on them. By punishing them for their evil ways, they would come to recognize that Yahweh was in charge. He was the God Yahweh.

A reminder for Israel (Bar 4:5-4:8)

“Take courage!

My people!

You perpetuate

Israel’s name!

It was not

For destruction

That you were sold

To the nations.

But you were handed over

To your enemies

Because you angered

God.

You provoked the one

Who made you!

You sacrificed to demons,

Not to God!

You forgot

The everlasting God,

Who brought you up!

You grieved Jerusalem,

Who reared you.”

This reminder for Israel was for the people to have courage, since they were going to perpetuate the name of Israel. These Israelites had been sold to various nations, not to destroy them, but to punish them. They had been handed over to their enemies, because they had angered God. They had provoked their creator by sacrificing to demons, and not God. They had forgotten their everlasting God who brought them up. There was no mention of the name of Yahweh here. They had grieved Jerusalem, the city that had reared them. Once again there is a personification of Jerusalem that can feel pain.

The punishment of Babylon (Jer 50:18-50:18)

“Therefore,

Thus says Yahweh of hosts!

The God of Israel!

I am going to punish

The king of Babylon

With his land,

Just as I punished

The king of Assyria.”

Yahweh, the God of Israel, was going to punish the king of Babylon and his country just as he had punished the king of Assyria and his country. The Assyrians had captured Israel in 724 BCE, while the Babylonians had captured Judah in 587 BCE. The Assyrian Empire fell apart in 599 BCE just as the Babylonian Empire was increasing, while the Babylonian Empire fell apart in 539 BCE.

Punishment for Egypt (Jer 46:25-46:26)

“Yahweh of hosts,

The God of Israel,

Said.

‘See!

I am bringing punishment

Upon Amon of Thebes,

Egypt,

Her gods,

As well as her kings.

I am bringing punishment

Upon Pharaoh,

As well as those

Who trust in him.

I will hand them over

To those who seek their life.

I will hand them over

To King Nebuchadnezzar

Of Babylon

And his officers.

Afterward Egypt

Shall be inhabited

As in the days of old.’

Says Yahweh.”

Yahweh of hosts, the God of Israel said that he was going to bring punishment to Thebes, a large ancient city on the lower Nile River. Yahweh was going to punish Amon, a major god in Egypt with one of the world’s largest temples. Besides that, the punishment would extend to all of Egypt with its gods and kings. Even those who trusted in the Pharaoh would be punished. Yahweh was going to hand them over to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and his officers, who were after their lives. Finally, Egypt would be restored like in the old days.