Israel loves its bad boy reputation
Israel is a land of bandits1When I restore Israel
And give them back what they lost,
Their evil behavior and sins will disappear.
But for now, the people are bandits at heart
And thieves in action.
2They don’t seem to get it.
I take notes on their bad behavior.
And my notebook is finally full.
I’ve got it all right here in front of me.
3Your kings love being bad.
Your officials brag about lying.
Bad boy kings4These people are a bunch of adulterers.
Their lust holds a fire like a baker’s oven.
They don’t need to stir up flames
While waiting for the dough to rise.
5They set aside days to get staggering drunk.
Kings and officials, so plastered and wasted,
They welcome and party with critics they hate.
6Their enemies carry fire inside them,
Like an oven with hearts on the coal.
At night, anger fades to a smolder,
But in daylight, it’ll burst into flame.
7These people grow hot as an oven,
Till leaping flames ambush the rulers.
They kill Israel’s kings, one after the other,
And no one calls out my name.
Israel’s flaky politics8Ephraim made a mess among the nations.
Like a pancake not flipped.
9Foreigners steal his thunder and strength,
And he doesn’t have a clue.
He’s growing old and gray-haired now
And he doesn’t have a mirror of a clue.
10Israel’s pride is proof of their sin.
They refuse to go back
To the LORD their God,
And won’t even glance in his direction.
11Ephraim has grown dumb as a dove,
Without any sense of direction.
One day they’re allied with Egypt,
The next day they flip to Assyria.
12They take off like birds of the air.
But I’ll bring them down with a net.
Then I’ll give them the punishment they deserve
For all the harm they have done.
Israel destined to die13Too bad for them. It’s a shame they left me.
Now they’re rebels, destined to die.
How could I save them, as much as I’d like to,
When they refuse to stop lying about me?
14They don’t pray to me
With love in their hearts.
They just wail and cry in their beds.
They’ll cut themselves in desperation
When they beg for grain and wine.
Yet they’re stubborn as ever against me.
15I made them strong.
I taught them to fight.
Yet they plotted and schemed to oppose me.
16So, they’ll go back into slavery.
Their bows won’t save them.
And their officials will die by the sword
For words they have spoken in rage.
But in Egypt there are happy sounds
Of laughter and jokes about Jews.
Heads up. There’s a measure of educated guessing that goes in trying to interpret some Bible chapters. More so than normal in Hosea 7. We can get a sense of this quickly by comparing Bible versions. We’d like to know more than we can, and the curiosity is good. But there’s a limit to scholarly interpretation of odd words and odd combinations of words written perhaps some 2,700 years ago. It might be hard to live in the Land of I Don’t Know. But it’s an honest place to hang our hat from time to time.
It’s not clear who the subject is in this verse. Some versions make the people the subject, as in: Kings love seeing how evil the people are.
There may not be a sexual pun going in the Hebrew, but it’s hard to miss in English: adulterers hot with lust don’t need to worry about keeping the fire going while waiting for the dough to rise. Come on, now. We’re left to wonder if Hosea intended this as a way of expressing how spiritually unfaithful the kings and leaders were at the time. God was the last thing on their minds.
Scholars take this mystifying verse in various directions, all of which seemed to be guesses. Examples: The kings and officials are drinking with atheists or infidels. They’re making treaties with non-Jews. They’re getting drunk with enemies who ridicule and insult them. They welcomed traitors. Whatever they’re doing, it’s not good to God.
There were over 40 kings and one queen in Israel and Judah. Fifteen were murdered. In Israel alone, there were 19 kings. Seven were assassinated and replaced by the person who killed them.
It’s unclear what Hosea is talking about. However, Israel did make a mess of the politics. Concerned about their safety, they skipped God. They went straight to making alliances with foreigners. King Hoshea in 732 BC bailed on his alliance with several neighbors: Egypt, Philistia, and Damascus. He jumped into a treaty with Assyria, bad guy terrorists of the ancient Middle East. They impaled captives and bragged about it with stone engravings on their palace walls (now in the British Museum). A few years later, he bailed on Assyria and asked Egypt to take them back into the alliance. That could seem more than mixed up. It might be flaky.
People who worshiped Baal, a popular god of fertility in family, flock, and field, sometimes cut themselves to get his attention (1 Kings 18:28). Or in this case they might have been cutting themselves to express to God their desperation, much like some people do today when they fast and pray.
- Sorry, there are currently no questions for this chapter.