The false alliance with Assyria (Hos 5:13-5:14)

“Ephraim saw

His sickness.

Judah saw

His wound.

Then Ephraim

Went to Assyria.

He sent

To the great king.

But he is not able

To cure you.

He was not able

To heal your wound.

I will be

Like a lion

To Ephraim.

I will be

Like a young lion

To the house of Judah.

I myself

Will tear.

I will go away.

I will carry off.

None shall rescue.”

Ephraim and Judah saw that they were not in a good place, since they were sick and wounded. King Tiglath-pileser III of Assyria had taken over the northern half of Israel. Then the king of Israel, King Pekah (737-732 BCE) made an alliance with the king of Aram, the area around Damascus, or southern Syria. However, this did not help. Therefore, Yahweh was going to be a lion against Ephraim, and a young lion against Judah. Meanwhile, Yahweh was going to tear himself away. He was not going to rescue them.

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The allegory of the young lion (Ezek 19:1-19:4)

“As for you!

Raise up

A lamentation

For the princes of Israel!

Say!

‘What a lioness

Was your mother

Among lions!

She lay down

Among young lions,

Rearing her cubs.

She raised up

One of her cubs.

He became

A young lion.

He learned

To catch prey.

He devoured humans.

The nations sounded

An alarm

Against him.

He was caught

In their pit.

They brought him

With hooks

To the land of Egypt.”

Now Ezekiel has an allegorical poetic lamentation for the officials and princes of Israel. There was a lioness mother who took care of her cubs. Apparently this is an allusion to Judah, the lioness. One of them became a young lion who learned how to catch prey. In fact, he devoured some humans. Other countries got upset. They then caught him in a pit. They hooked him and brought him to Egypt. Who is this young lion that was brought to Egypt? This may be a reference to King Jehoahaz (609 BCE) who was captured, after the death of his father, King Josiah (640-609 BCE).

Protection from my enemies (Ps 17:7-17:12)

“From my adversaries

Who are at your right hand!

Guard me as the apple of your eye!

Hide me in the shadow of your wings!

Hide me from the wicked who despoil me!

Hide me from my deadly enemies who surround me!

They close their hearts to pity.

With their mouths

They speak arrogantly.

They track me down.

Now they surround me!

They want to cast me to the ground.

They are like a lion eager to tear.

They are like a young lion lurking in ambush.”

Now the psalmist is explicit. He wanted to be the apple of God’s eye. He wanted to be hidden in the shadow of his wings. He wanted protection from the wicked and deadly enemies who surrounded him. The enemies had no pity as they were arrogant. They had tracked him down and surrounded him. They were about to leap at him like a young lion lurking in an ambush.