The prostitution of Israel (Hos 4:10-4:12)

“They shall eat,

But not be satisfied.

They shall play the prostitute,

But not multiply.

They have forsaken

Yahweh

To cherish prostitution.

Wine,

With new wine,

Takes away

Understanding.

My people consult

A piece of wood.

Their divining rod

Gives them oracles.

A spirit of prostitution

Has led them astray.

They have left

Their God

To play the prostitute.”

These northern Israelites would eat, but not be satisfied or full. They played the prostitute. They did not increase or multiply. They have cherished prostitution rather than Yahweh. All kinds of wine, new and old, take away understanding. Thus, the Israelite people consult with pieces of wood, the wooden idol gods. Their oracles or sayings come from their magical divining rods or sticks. This concept of prostitution has led them astray. They have left God to be prostitutes to other gods. Obviously, this was an allusion to the prostitution fertility rites and the fact that they were turning to other wooden idol gods, rather than being faithful to Yahweh.

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The end of idolatry (Isa 17:7-17:8)

“On that day

People will regard their Maker.

Their eyes will look

To the Holy One of Israel.

They will not have regard

For the altars,

The work of their own hands.

They will not look

To what their own fingers have made,

Either the sacred poles

Or the altars of incense.”

The end of idolatry and the turning to the Holy One of Israel will take place on this day of destruction. On that day, they will turn away from the altars that they made with their own hands. They will not look at the idols that they made with their own fingers.   They will turn away from the sacred or holy poles or sticks, like totem poles, and the altars with incense on them. Idolatry will become a thing of the past.

Wise sayings (Eccl 12:11-12:12)

“The sayings of the wise are like goads.

They are like nails firmly fixed.

These collected sayings were given

By one shepherd.

My child!

Beware of anything beyond these.

Many books have no end.

Much study is a weariness of the flesh.”

These wise sayings of Qoheleth were like goads that were sticks used to prod cattle and other animals to make them move. These goads were a stimulus to our mind. Thus we have the saying to goad them on. These collected sayings are like sharp nails. Here we have the allusion to the sayings of a shepherd, something that followers of Jesus will emphasis in the New Testament. Then this writer warns the readers about adding more proverbs. He warned that many books never have an end. He also remarked that a lot of study can make people weary. So watch out for too much time spent studying.