When the Jews go back to God
God disinherits the Jews1There’s coming a day when you’ll call your brothers Ammi, “My People,” and your sisters Ruhamah, “Beloved.”
2Confront your mother. Tell her off.
She’s not my wife anymore.
I’m not her husband.
Tell her to stop hooking up with other men
And to stop wearing their necklaces
Dangling between her breasts.
3If she doesn’t straighten up
I’ll strip naked as the day she was born.
Then I’ll desert her, and she’ll have nothing.
She’ll become as desolate as the badlands.
And I’ll let her die of thirst.
4Then I’ll disinherit her children.
Who knows who their fathers are, anyhow.
5Their mother was a hooker.
Shameless, she got pregnant by other men.
She said, “I’m sticking with my lovers.
Why not? Look what they give me:
Olive oil, and wine.”
6I’ll box her in with thorn bushes,
And block her path with barriers.
She won’t find her way
Through my obstacle course.
7She’ll chase her lovers.
But she won’t catch up.
She’ll look for them.
But she won’t find them.
Lost, she’ll finally say to herself,
“I’ll go back to my husband.
He’s better than nothing.”
8She never realized I’m the one who gave her:
Grain, wine, olive oil,
And the gold and silver she donated to Baal.
9So, I’ll take it all back:
Grain from the spring harvest,
Wine from the summer harvest,
And the wool and flax linen
I gave to cover her naked body.
10I’ll strip her and show everyone what she’s ashamed of.
And I’ll do it right in front of her lovers.
No one will lift a finger to save her.
Day the Sabbath dies11I’ll put an end to her religious holidays.
No more seasonal festivals,
New moon celebrations,
Saturday Sabbath worship.
Jewish festivals are history.
12I’ll destroy her vineyards and fig orchards.
She thought her lovers gave them to her
As payment for services she provided.
I’ll make those crops worthless as a briar patch.
Wild animals will eat the fruit.
13I’ll punish her
For honoring Baal holidays,
incense she burned,
rings and jewelry she wore,
And lovers she hooked up with.
Then I’ll punish her
For turning her back on me, the LORD.
God reconciles with the Jews14Afterward, I’ll speak gently to her.
I’ll lead her home, through the desert,
Speaking tenderly along the way.
15I’ll give her back her vineyards
And Trouble Valley as a sign of hope.
She’ll respond like she did in the early days
When she came up out of Egypt on the Exodus.
16When that time comes,
You’ll call me “my husband”
And you won’t call me “Baal.”
17I’ll erase “Baal” from the vocabulary.
You’ll never speak the word again.
18When that day comes, I’ll secure your safety.
I’ll make a peace treaty with
Wild animals, birds, and crawling critters.
I’ll ban war and weapons of war:
Battlefield bows and swords.
You’ll finally be able to live in peace.
19You’ll become my forever wife.
I’ll treat you with goodness and justice.
I’ll show you mercy and persistent love.
20I’ll remain faithful to you
And you’ll remain devoted to me.
21The LORD says:
When that time comes,
I’ll answer when I’m called.
I’ll answer the sky when it wants rainclouds,
Then it can answer the earth when it wants rain.
22The earth will answer grain, grapes, and olives
When they want nourishment.
And everyone will say, “God planted it.”
23I’ll bring you back home
And plant you there.
I’ll show mercy to Lo-Ruhamah, “Not Loved.”
I’ll tell Lo-Ammi, “Not Mine,” that he’s mine,
And he will say, “You are my God.”
These names are a flip side of the coin from the names of Hosea’s son and daughter. Lo-Ammi, “Not Mine,” and Lo-Ruhamah, “Not Loved.” (Hosea 1:6, 9).
More literally, she’s to strip off “her adultery between her breasts.” This could refer to amulets and other cult jewelry worn in association with an idol, much like the cross represents Christianity.
Baal was a god of fertility in family, fields, and flocks. Canaanites, who were native to what is now Israel and Palestinian land, worshiped Baal. Joshua led the Jews in killing many Canaanites while the Jews reclaimed the land that the Bible says God promised to the descendants of Abraham. But Jews continued to worship Baal and other Middle Eastern gods off and on throughout Old Testament times. Some scholars say the idea behind one worship ritual was to entertain Baal by letting him watch people have sex. They did this so he would make it rain. It’s a tad gross, but some taught that the rain was Baal’s semen. So, if the sex of worshipers got Baal stimulated enough, he would make it rain in this predominately dry part of the world.
Israel lost everything in 722 BC when Assyrian invaders from what is now northern Iraq captured the land, deported the leading citizens, and annexed the land as a province of the Assyrian Empire. The northern Jewish kingdom of Israel died. Only the southern kingdom of Judah remained.
Literally, “Valley of Achor.” The Hebrew name is a wordplay linked to Joshua’s accusation of a man named Achan, in Joshua 7:25. Achan stole some objects from Jericho and was executed for it, with his family. Joshua used the word “trouble.” Achor is a Hebrew word that means to cause trouble or to do something that hurts others. The point of the wordplay: Achan caused trouble. Achan ended up in trouble—Trouble Valley. But here in Hosea, God reverses trouble, replacing it with hope. Instead of a problem causing trouble, it becomes an opportunity
This raises the question of whether Jews mixed their religion with Baal worship, and called God “Baal.” Possibly, but that might not be what Hosea means. Hebrew words behind “husband” and “Baal” can each mean “husband.” “Baal” adds a distinct sense of “master,” “lord,” and “owner.” The god Baal won’t be their master any longer. The LORD will be their loving husband.
Literally, “Jezreel,” a Hebrew word that means “God plants.” Jezreel is the name of a wide valley—a fertile farmland in northern Israel. It’s still Israel’s breadbasket today, the area where many of its crops are grown.
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