Plant the wind, harvest the tornado
Israel did it their way1Blow the ram’s horn now.
An enemy has descended like an eagle
On the House of the LORD.
2Israel screams out their prayer:
“My God, we’re your people,
Devoted to you.”
3But the fact is this:
People of Israel didn’t want to behave.
Now enemies are hunting them down.
4They picked their own kings
Without asking me.
They appointed their officials
Without my approval.
They collected their silver and gold
And molded them into idols
That will be the death of them.
Another gold calf or two5That calf idol they put in Samaria
Was a terrible thing to do.
I hate that they did it and now I wonder
Will they ever learn not to sin?
6God doesn’t live in an idol
Made by human hands.
The Samarian calf won’t last forever,
It’ll break and splinter to pieces.
Plant trouble, harvest the end of your world7Plant a crop of wind,
Harvest a tornado.
The grain you plant
Won’t produce any kernels.
Even if it did,
Invaders would eat it.
8Israel is gone, the people scattered,
Assimilated into foreign nations.
They’re useless to me there,
Worthless as a cracked pot.
9Israel is like a jackass
That lost its herd.
They run to Assyria
To buy some company.
10They’re out and about
Making deals with nations.
But I’ll bring them back home for judgment.
Where they’ll suffer under foreign kings and rulers.
11Ephraim built altars everywhere,
But altars they built to get rid of sins
Became altars they built for sinning.
12I wrote laws to guide their lives
But they act like they can’t read it.
Eating God’s sacrifice13They offer me prime cut sacrificial meat,
But then they eat it themselves.
The LORD is not okay with that.
Now is the day he’ll remind them of their sin
For now is the time he’ll punish them.
Then they can go back to Egypt.
14Israel forgot the God who created them.
They busied themselves building palaces.
Judah built cities protected with walls.
But I’ll rain down fire upon them
And lap up their walls in the flames.
Early Jewish scholars associated the eagle with King Nebuchadnezzar, of Babylon. His army leveled the Jerusalem Temple in 586 BC, along with the rest of Jerusalem. Jewish survivors were deported to the Babylonian Empire, headquartered in the capital city of Babylon, in what is now southern Iraq. This passage is tough to interpret. Some scholars say the Hebrew words in this verse have been messed with—“corrupted” is the scholarly term. They say the verse makes more sense if God is the one coming like an eagle to punish the Jews.
The northern Jewish nation of Israel didn’t want their people worshiping in Jerusalem, capital of the southern Jewish nation of Judah. The first northern king, Rehoboam, didn’t want the kingdoms to reunite because if they did, he’d be out of a job. God gave David’s family the dynasty rights to rule, Rehoboam wasn’t a relative. He was a rebel who launched the coup that split the nation. He ordered two gold-covered calf idols. He put one in Bethel and the other at Dan (1 Kings 12:28-30).
Bible writers sometimes used “wind” as a symbol of foolish behavior (Ecclesiastes 1:14, 17; Proverbs 11:29). If Hosea had that in mind, the verse might have meant something like this: “Plant your seeds of foolishness, harvest a disaster.”
King Hoshea in 732 BC 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 (see possible link in 8:13).
“Ephraim” is another name for the Northern Jewish nation of Israel. It was the dominate tribe. The first northern king came from Ephraim. It’s a tribe located at the center of what had been the united nation of Israel, before the split. Ephraim’s southern border was just half a day’s walk north of Jerusalem.
Hosea might have meant, “I brought you out of slavery in Egypt, and now I’m sending you back as rejects.” In that case, Egypt might have been a metaphor for Assyria or Babylon, where most exiled Jews went. Or Hosea might have meant, “I’m kicking you out of your country and you’ll get exiled into Egypt.” Some did flee to Egypt. One group took the prophet Jeremiah with them (Jeremiah 43). And that’s the last we hear of him in the Bible.
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