Devotional Commentary on Hosea 5


This chapter begins with God speaking. Now the way He is speaking is very interesting since it is not Him alone. In fact in this chapter God and Hosea is speaking together. There is information that God has in his speaking that Hosea does not have in his. God is almost serving as a factual corrector to Hosea in His sentences. When Hosea says that something will happen in future God correct him in the same sentence telling him that evidence shows (since this is a court case of an investigative judgment) that events are already factual as well as actual. This dual performance is a very common genre in television broadcasting in Japan. Two young performers will appear together on stage side by side and then one will say a sentence which the other will complete. They are "tuned in" to one another by dealing with the same topic but every now and then the second sentence comes as a surprise since it is contrasting or correcting the optimism of the other sentence of the partner. This is what we have in this chapter. The following analysis of the times Hosea speaks and the times God speaks can be made:

Hosea speaks in 5:1; 5:2a; 5:3c; 5:4; 5:5b; 5:6; 5:7; 5:9a; 5:10a; 5:11; and 5:13.

God speaks in 5:2b; 5:3a-b; 5:5a; 5:5c; 5:8; 5:9b; 5:10b; 5:12; 5:14; 5:15. Hosea speaks eleven times and God speaks ten times. One wonders if a puppet show could best account for this kind of duet. Hosea taking on the personality of God in order to do the part of God speaking. There is a puppeteer in Japan who is using dolls and then his lips hardly move imitating the voices of the other characters in his hands or on his lap. This would probably be the setting of the presentation that we have here in this chapter. So far it is apparent that the book of Hosea is like a theatrical play with short sentences loaded with all the elements that can be found in a drama. The two main characters of the drama performance are God and Hosea and throughout the performance we get insight into their personalities and emotion. We had cases where Hosea wanted to kill his wife but God's personality was just the opposite in Hosea 3 where He wanted to meet again like a lover. One can imagine them using big winged lions on a stage performance to symbolize God as the lion and Assyria and Syria as the instruments in the hand of God for executing the investigative judgment's results.

It is an investigative judgment in type opening in Hosea 5:1. "Hear this priests, and pay attention house of Israel, and house of the king, give ear, for unto you is the judgment. For an opening you are unto Mizpah and a net spread out upon Tabor."

Jerome's translation or the reconstruction that we are using, indicates here that he read somewhat differently. He read lmzph as "speculationi". He also translated the word hyytm as "laqueus facti estis". He is very literal in his translation and our method is very close to his in this verse. Also the Septuagint or what we have available of that is showing that the reading for lmzph is different, namely, "unto Skopia". This equation of lmzph with Skopia is interesting and needs further elucidation. Calvin correctly argue that the translation cannot be "ye have been a snare instead of a beacon" [for an opening you are unto Mizpah (ours)], since the mountains of Mizpah and Tabor are well known. Calvin felt that this net was the net of the hunters who hunted wild on these mountains. We are interpreting it as a political metaphor of the expansion of the Assyrian power.

The last noun in the Hebrew text was misread by Theodotion from an Aramaic text very similar to that of the Targum Walton 1654.  The way this happened is that the letters were written continious and Theodotion's reader or himself read it wrong in the following way:

Aramaic Targum reading of the name 

Theodotion 190 CE reading           

Hosea begin in this chapter asking the priests, house of Israel and the royal palace to listen to the results of God's investigative judgment. As was done a number of times in Hosea so far presenting a court case drama (compare Hosea 4:1) he wants them to listen to the results of the investigation so far. The timing is before the exile since the king is also asked to listen and the kingship for the northern tribes only seized to exist after 721 B.C. In the year 727 BC Tiglath-Pilezer III came and took cities in the area of Zebulon and Gilead and Galilee and one can say that an "Assyrian net" was spread over mount Tabor (2 Kings 15:29). Tiglath-Pilezer III recorded that he went to Gaza at that time and replaced gods of Gaza with great imperial gods and also put a golden image of his majesty in the palace of Gaza (H. Spieckermann, Juda unter Assur in der Sargonidenzeit [Gottingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1982], 326). Mizpah of course is a short distance north of Jerusalem towards Ephraim. Calvin commented that some wants to make this judgment just some form of inner direction that they are asked to employ in order to get themselves shaped up, but that is not the case. Calvin showed that this judgment is "God's tribunal".

In verse 2 God outlined the accusation against them: "And a pit of Shittim they have made deep. And I will discipline unto them all."

In the case of Jerome he did not translate the preposition /l/ added to lklm. He also did not read "Shittim" here but some form of adjective "declinastis in profundum".

The RSV is here probably the best option and we have consulted it since the text is reading difficult here which is similar to our own and which is also the way Martin Luther understood this phrase in the original in his 1534 translation of Hosea "und eine tiefe Grube zu Schittim". The infinitive translation in the KJV as "to make slaugter" for h(myqw cannot be accepted. This is a hiphil which means that it is a causing to become deeper/to make deeper. At least in the RSV option there is some form of continuity with the previous verses. There is no agreement on the reading of this verse amongst the translations.

In 5:2a it is Hosea speaking but in 2b it is God speaking. It seems in the interpretation of Calvin that he is believing in the executive judgment of God as an ongoing process day in and day out, year in and year out. Every calamity is probably then connected for the Christian to "God's judgment"? He said "let us then learn not to belie, by our own notions, the judgment of God". In his prayer Calvin said "but suffer thee to heal our diseases, so that we may truly repent, and be so wholly given to obey thee, as never to attempt any thing beyond the rule of thy word."

In verse 3 God is addressing the His spiritual remnant: "I, I know Ephraim and Israel is not hidden from me. For now Ephraim, you have fornicated, unclean is Israel."

Jerome's Latin Vulgate translation is very literal here and ours compare very well with his except with one case and that is the repetition of the first person in the beginning. The German translation of Martin Luther includes the word "gut" which is not in the original or in any version except if one stretch the Jewish Aramaic Targum a bit. He translated: Ich kenne Ephraim gut und Israel ist vor mir nicht verborgen; Ephraim ist nun eine Hure und Israel unrein.

Luther did not translate in verse 3c the causal particle ky י="for" or "because" = "denn". Furthermore, the hiphil active verb he read as a noun "Hure".

Concerning the reformers like Luther and others we have to say that harsh criticism is easy for someone who is sitting in his airconditioned room on a swivel chair under bright neon lights in a peaceful country with no enemies breathing down his neck. The reformers lived in difficult times and we have to respect that. Jerome in his cave had it easier than Luther in his days. The idiom goes: "You cannot judge a book by its cover nor a lover by his looks."

In 5:3a-b it is God speaking but in 5:3c-d it is Hosea speaking. Somehow there is something that Ephraim of all the tribes did in their area that offended God very much. Unless the borders were shifted, Ephraim can be found over the area of Shiloh and Beth-el. Calvin thought that Ephraim was important since the first Jeroboam came from here. But God is not impressed by honored kings or men, like we are so this idea should probably not be promoted.

There is here again a repetition of the first person: as an independent particle and as a pronominal-suffix added to the verb. God emphasized that it is He who has knowledge of the situation. He is emphasizing that the knowledge is not just coming from a human, or priest whom they criticized in those days. The knowledge is from no-one but God Himself. When we think no-one sees us, God does. And when God does not punish us immediately for our wrong, we fool ourselves that He does not see us. The timing could be after 734 BC when Ahaz was deeply involved in temple worship on the mountains and hills and Ephraim was probably the hunting ground for this. Because of these and other actions Israel is unclean. "Unclean" is really a spiritual word here indicating a contaminated relationship and especially a relationship with the Almighty.

The problem is a spiritual problem as God outlined with Hosea in verse 4: "Not will they give their deeds to return unto their God for a spirit of fornication is in their innermost and the Lord they do not know."

The later Jewish Targum elaborated and paraphrased it in this way: "They will not set their works to return to the worship of their God, for the spirit of deception is in their innermost, and the teachings from before the Lord they did not desire."

My translation and that of Jerome is almost exactly the same. Martin Luther started the verse probably very well saying that "their evil deeds does not permit them". This is the way in which the RSV has translated it. This is a very good translation. The Darby also rendered it fairly close to this. Martin Luther saw in the word bqrbm of verse 4c the meaning "in their hearts" = in ihrem Herzen. This is not in the original since the word for heart is used in the previous chapter in 4:11. Calvin was closer to the original here by translating "because a spirit of wantonness is in the midst of them".

In this verse it is Hosea speaking. After 734 BC they did not convert from their deeds and neither did Ahaz the king of Judah. They did not know the Lord and the relionship was destroyed. Israel of course made an alliance with the Aramaeans against Judah in 731 BC and they were proud of that relationship. However that relationship also demanded that their military and other civil life patterns adopted ceremonies and superstitions foreign to God. That is why they could not give up their deeds since the whole fabric of society was conveniently tied in with "soft" vices. The spirit of fornications that is in their innermost is not the physical relationships that we are thinking of today. This is spiritual "fornication" or bridging gaps with other gods, other than the only God of heaven and earth. The issue of God is not the physical lifestyle pertaining to sex but their relation with foreign gods. In this verse it is Hosea speaking and typical to his language throughout the book so far he uses this word to describe the strongest connection possibly imagined. Calvin summed this verse and chapter 4 also for that matter very nicely up in the following words: "As they had been redeemed by God's hand, as the teaching of the law had continued among them, as they had been preserved to that day through God's constant kindness, it was truly an evidence of monstrous ignorance, that they could in an instant adopt ungodly forms of worship, and embrace those corruptions which they knew were condemned in the law."

One of the best ways to illustrate the problems inherent in an adopted and imported religion, is to look at the role of Buddhism in Asia. It demonstrates how self-deception can lead them to no understanding in the consequences of their imported religion. All asians are praying to their ancestors at some times of the year. They visit their grave sites and bring flowers and pray to them. Some also pray to Buddha. Many Japanese are Buddhists and if one asks them the question if Buddha will not be angry if they pray to the ancestors and not to him, the answer can be different case by case but mostly they think that it does not matter since all the ancestors are in the Buddha heaven. At least that is what they thought since childhood and maybe their parents also. However, it is exactly at this point that the problem is vexing for them, especially if one points out to them the following facts: Buddhism came to Japan in 538 CE, to Korea in 333 CE and in China ca. 140 CE. It was around 450 BCE that Buddha received his mission and the origin of the "Buddha heaven" could only be from 450 BCE for Indians, 140 CE for Chinese, 333 CE for Koreans and 538 CE for Buddhists. In Japan they pray to the ancestors between 15th September and the 23rd of September. They all think that they are praying to all their ancestors but here is the problem: taking into account the above information, there was no "Buddha-heaven" for Japanese before 538 CE. They have never thought of this situation before. It simply means that there are two sets of ancestors: one set who adhere to Buddhism and who would be in their thinking automatically be found in the Buddha-heaven and another set who are not. This idea or concept confronted them for the first time in their lives. They had no answer for this. Asking them which ancestor they want to join one day, the one in the Buddha heaven or the other ancestor without a Buddha heaven, was a shocking choice for them. I have not asked my students yet, but there are times in the year when they bring some food to the ancestors. To bring the ancestors Japanese sushi is definitely going to be a problem since Buddha is an Indian and they are probably eating curry and rice? What if no-one in "Buddha-heaven" eat any Japanese food?

These are problems that one can find in a modern inherited religion of which the adherents just accepted the words of others without self-investigation, without analysis by themselves, blindly just following the customs and habits of their parents without really knowing the full reasons for everything.

Many Israelites who participated in Baal religion went through the same process. They never thought of all the implications pertaining to their concepts in their religion.

God then provided the punishment forseen in verse 5: "And answer the pride of Israel in his face: and Israel and Ephraim shall stumble in their iniquity. Judah also stumbled with them."

Jerome did translate the future tense as such in this verse namely "shall stumble" = ruent. My reading is such here since we are trying to keep to the tenses whenever there is a fluctuation. In our interpretation this is crucial since there is a fluctuation of personalities speaking at this point so that this information in the future is not God but Hosea speaking. It is better to keep the future. It seems as if Martin Luther is translating with an idiomatic translation method since he use the equavalence for "in his face" as "against" = wider Israel. The object of the sentence "his pride" in the original is changed in Luther's dynamic translation to "his pride". The danger in our perspective with this kind of translation is that some aspects may be introduced in the translation that was not intended in the original or some aspects that were supposed to be understood in the original do not reach the target reader. For that sake we strive to be painfully literal and leave it to the reader to make his/her own conclusions. As far as the tenses are concerned verse 5b and 5c are not the same in the original. Verse 5b is using the future tense but 5c is using the past. Luther translated both 5b and 5c as the future tense. I begin to suspect that there is some reason to this fluctuation and that we should rather honor it than try to use the old grammatical rules of "one for the other".Since we are dealing here with legal matters and a court scene is not to be ruled out, evidence is of the utmost importance in a courtcase, as well as the aspects of timing. It makes a heap of difference whether something is found to be factual or whether something is assumed to will happen/result. I am following the rule that past tense indicates factuality and future tense indicates probability when it is dealing with humans but also factuality when it is dealing with the divine. Calvin translated the first part in 5a with a future tense: "testify then shall the pride of Israel in his face". I have not done that in our translation. Later when Calvin continued on this verse he suggested that the other meaning for the word 'nh is "to be humbled" so that the sentence can read "the pride of Israel shall then be humbled before his face". He argues that it is the conviction of God in His judgment that will humble them. Some scholars became so confused in the interchange of tenses in this verse that they suggested that 5c should be considered a gloss that dropped into the Bible and that it is better to delete it again. Nothing can be further from the truth. God said to Hosea the prophet: "answer the pride of Israel in his face". God is instructing in verse 5a the prophet to speak. In 5b the prophet spoke by saying in future tenses: "and Israel and Ephraim shall stumble in their iniquity". In verse 5c God is speaking directly informing or correcting the misunderstanding of the prophet by saying that they are already stumbling and that Judah now also stumbled with them. In verse 3 it is God speaking of a fact in the past "now". The investigative judgment found in verse 4 that this condition is not likely to change and in verse 5 God instructed the prophet to speak to Israel in his face. The prophet spoke using future tenses but God's words follow reiterating the past tense. In the next verse the prophet continues his speech in the future tense holding out the probability that they might seek the Lord but also the fact (past tense) that He has withdrawn from them. Judah stumbled during the time of Ahaz in 731 BC and also Ephraim stumbled during that time. As Ephraim and Israel will increase their sins they would also stumble in 727 BC and then majorly again in 721 BC. Calvin raises an important issue here that is worth elaborating on. He said that in the previous chapters there are promises that Judah shall be saved by his God, not by the sword, nor by the bow. How is it then that here Judah is said to be part of the scheme of punishment? Calvin's answer is that the previous chapters did not speak of those who degenerate but only those "who worshipped God aright". I agree that it is not an ethnic issue, it is a spiritual one. The Lord will then withdrew from them as Hosea pointed out in verse 6: "With their flocks and with their herds they shall go to seek the Lord and not will they find Him. He has withdrawn from them."

Jerome's translation and ours are remarkably the same here. It is very clear that this old Christian was a very good translator keeping faithfully to the original as far as possible in Hosea. Luther introduces adverbial particles here that is not in the original, namely, "als" = "when". He also introduces a causal particle "denn" = "because" where there is none in the original for the last sentence since he wants to connect all the sentences relationally.

In this verse it is Hosea speaking. The men of Judah who will lose their wives to Samaria in 731 BC would be going around with their flocks and herds since that is the only way they could follow their wives. In desperation for these circumstances they would seek the Lord and they would not be able to find Him. God has withdrawn from them. This is the inevitable result when God withdrawn from man. Man collapsed. Nothing works out and nothing will. Conversion is the only way to get recharged and activated again. Calvin gave a very interesting explanation here: the people use to bring their flocks to the temple for sacrifices in order to approach God. But God will not be there this time when they bring it. Calvin said that "every one who separates the outward sacrifice from its design, brings nothing but what is profane".

Their spiritual fall in relationship with God led to behavioral problems and it is outlined by God to them in Hosea 7: "In the Lord they have mistrusted for sons of foreigners they carry. Now New moons shall eat them, their portions."

The Old Latin translated that what shall eat them is rust: "now shall rust devour them" = nunc devorabit eos rubigo (Pierre Sabbathier 1743: 897 for the original). This was in 190 CE but then in 389 CE Jerome translated it more literally: "now shall a month devour them". This is the form of the Vulgate from later manuscripts A M S O C Φ Σ L Λ all dating between 750-960 CE as reconstructed by Weber in his modern edition of the Vulgate.

The later Jewish Targum rendered a paraphrase expressing their understanding: "Now there are over them nations month upon month and they devour the fruit of their land".

Jerome's translation differ only in one respect from ours in that he read only "moons" = mensis and not "New moons". Here is an interesting situation with Luther. Whereas he can be found very often introducing all kinds of adverbial and causal particles that is not in the original or changing a copulative to an adverbial or causal particle, we now find him translating a causal particle ky = "for" as a copulative "and" = und. Calvin complained about reading "new moon". He rather opted for the translation of "a month", namely a short and fixed time.

The Targum is reading a double translation of a single entry of the word for month and fruits since the same word is used in the original for both meanings.

Hosea is speaking in this verse. It is not that to bear a foreigner they are mistrusting the Lord. This is definitely not the meaning of the verse. It must be seen in context. The Lord is not saying that it is wrong for an Israelite to carry the son of another foreign nation and if there is such a marriage then the person is mistrusting the Lord. It is not an ethnic issue but a religious and spiritual one. They have already fornicated around in their relationship with other gods and already mistrusted the Lord for the evidence of that is the fact that they are carrying the sons of foreigners strongly connected to these pagan religions. And strongly connected it really is since the next part of the verse states that the New Moon ritual of the foreign religion will expect them to pay large portions of their harvests and income for their temples. Let it be very clear on this point. It is possible to misunderstood the verse as an ethnic super-race prooftext. But misunderstanding it definitely is. It is not only the physical aspects of fornication that is under the hammer here. Again it must be emphasized that it is the relationship between them and God that is in jeopardy that is the cause of the problem. This attendance at other religions and cultic practices is what Hosea means under "fornicating around". Not everybody carrying a foreigner was mistrusting the Lord. Only those that were strongly connected to these cultic practices. Calvin did not like the interpretation that they had taken wives from heathen nations. He rather saw it as a similarity to an alienated person from God's relationship. The sons were now also alienated in his view. In our view it could be very true that they were carrying foreigners' children but that in itself is not the issue, it is only evidence of a spiritual alienation that precedes it. With the women and children in Samaria transported in 731 BC it was inevitable that all kinds of relations would result. Thus they were carrying the children of foreigners since to Samaria also Aramaeans were transported. These were forced attempts of cultural integration. They came as punishment for the spiritual depravity of the king of Judah and the people of Israel.

The Lord wants a shofar or trumpet sound in Gibeah, the horn in Ramah and shouting in Beth-Aven (verse 8).

The Targum ran away with this text in a long elaboration of biblical exegesis: "The prophets, I lift them up. Your voice is like the shofar. They prophecy of their coming over them a small nation upon that reign of Saul which is in Gabaa just as with the trumpet. they said that they will come over their king with their ministry over that which they did not receive, to the words of Samuel that is of Rama announcing over them loudly the slaves of the war who are deceiving in my words and they turn to follow after from what is firm of my worship and not do they serve before me in the sanctuary that is in the land of the tribe of Benjamin."

Jerome of course translated šwpr = bucina and ssrh = tuba. Other than that my translation corresponds to his. Luther added some exclamations "ja" in his translation that is not in the original. Calvin mixed the verbal actions in this verse as follows: "shout with the trumpet in Gibeah, blow the hornet in Ramah and sound the horn in Beth-aven". We notice in his translation that there is a shift in the actions at the end of the verse to the front. "Shout" at the end moved to the front of the verse. Other changes also occurred. This is a very unusual reading in Calvin. With Luther one can expect these translations to occur but not with Calvin.

God is commanding the blowing of the shofar as He did back in history. Beth-Aven was just behind Benjamin's territory in the territory of Ephraim. It was Beth-el. Gibeah is of course in the territory of Benjamin. The blowing of the horn or shofar has many meanings. During the fall of Jericho event in 1410 BC the seven priests that marched around the city had seven shofars. It is employed in the execution of punishment in a judgment scene like that of Jericho. In that event they had to shout after the blowing of the shofar (Joshua 6:20). Benjamin is to shout "Beth-Aven" which is behind Benjamin. It is definitely a day of reckoning that is in mind here in similar pattern as that which was on the day of reckoning for Jericho in 1410 BC.

Itis possible that the vision here is beyond the earthly trouble to come in the prophet's day and includes the final Hell event after the millennium: "Ephraim shall be unto waste on the day of reckoning. In the tribes of Israel I made known what faith is." (verse 9).

My translation corresponds remarkably again with that of Jerome and there is no intention originally to do that. Jerome translated the word of God with utmost care. Luther translated here again with extra particles to serve a dependent clause "denn" = "for" and an adverbial particle of time "wenn" = "when" and a causal particle "davor" = "therefore". This is not in the original and it is better not to translate this way. It creates simulations of sets of information that are sometimes better kept apart. The last part of the verse he translated: "Therefore I have faithfully warned the tribes of Israel".

In 5:9a it is Hosea speaking and in 5:9b it is God speaking. This interpretation is contrary to the one favored by Calvin. This suggestion was extant in the days of Calvin and he mentioned it in his commentary on Hosea at this verse. He understood the word "I made known what faith is" as "this is the last denunciation which shall be fixed and unalterable". He said that Hosea claims that he has done his job and that it is now not his fault if they reject God. We are translating the word n)mnh here with the same meaning as b)mwntw in Habakkuk 2:4 "and the righteous shall live in his faith". Verse 9a is seen by us as the words of the prophet but verse 9b is seen as that of God. The prophet expects terrible punishments to follow, or God is talking about the absolute finality of punishment of evil at the time of the Hell event in the eschaton. God recalls all His revelations to Israel and how He has given them the plan of salvation in the sanctuary message. All the people of Israel know what faith unto salvation is.

God is thinking of an executive judgment in wide terms here (verse 10). "Princes of Judah have become like those who remove a border. On them I will pour like water My wrath."

Without any original consultation my final translation corresponds remarkably with that of Jerome. Martin Luther read the second sentence in connection with the first one and translated the second sentence as a dependent clause of reason "therefore" = darum.

Hosea is speaking in 5:10a and in 5:10b God is speaking. In God's investigative judgment He has found that the princes of Judah has become loose in their border concepts so that they now also freely join with Israel in their sins. God is using the future tense to indicate that a future punishment is also install for them. The judgment includes many princes and the exile is really a local judgment just punishing the end of the evil assembly-line, not all who are really involved in the evil. It may be that God is actually thinking of the executive judgment event after the future millennium in the eschaton which will involve many princes and kings, in fact, all evil over the wide spectrum.

In verse 11 God indicated that judgment is crushed in Ephraim "for he intends to go after the command". They just want military excursions and violence related to that.

Jerome's translation ranks first of all translations so far in this chapter. Martin Luther translated sw as "Nichtigen" = "the nobodies" instead of my translation "command".

What is read as deception by the Targum Walton 1654 is read as slippery by the Syriac Leiden Gelston 1980. Two letters are transposed in order in these two translations namely sharaq (Syriac) shaqar (Targum). The word means actually dirty or filthy and Jerome's rendering is correct here. The Syriac read the word shwy' as the result of a wrong division of the verse. The Targum translator read it as shw' which in both cases illustrates a mishearing of the Hebrew by the copyist of that Hebrew that underlies the Targum and the Syriac.   

Hosea is speaking in this verse. It seems as if the allies commanded Ephraim to go forward in a military operation against an enemy that is definitely not Assyria (see 5:13). It is probable that the command to resist came from Assyria and that the enemies were the Syro-Aramaeans. J. A. Soggin suggested that from verse 12 there are the results of the Syro-Ephraemitic war described (J. A. Soggin, "Hosea und die Aussenpolitik Israels," BZAW 150 Fs. George Fohrer [1980]: 131-1369).The evidence that I have from that war do give some understanding as to what is described in the next verses.

In verse 12 the Lord says that He is like a moth and rotteness to them (verse 12). "And I am like a moth to Ephraim, and like rottenness to the house of Judah."

Here Martin Luther is very literal in his translation. This year is the memorial year of Luther and his Reformation push-drive. What an irony that while some are thinking of celebrating him, others are thinking of moving back to the Catholic Church he ran from!

God is speaking in this verse. It is very understandable that the period between 731-727 BC would be a period of disaster. Without the women at home the Judaean houses would be like rottenness. If there is not a woman in the house, the storeplaces for food is filled with moths. 200 000 women and children were transferred to Samaria. The character of a moth is that it is attracted to light. Ephraim is the candle that attracted all the squatters and refugees and separated love ones from their husbands in Judah on their way to Samaria. The result is that all the food in storage in the coolers of Judah will rotten.

Is it possible that the faithful are punished now in history for corrective discipline but the evil will be reserved for the eschaton? God permits them to be destroyed like a moth a cloth or rottenness in food (verse 12).

God says that Ephraim shall see his sickness and they will go to Assyria to sent to king Jareb who is not able to cure them or heal them (verse 13).

Instead of translating the name of the king in this verse, Jerome translated "unto the king of the utmost" = ad regem ultorem. Jerome's text was not divided into separate words so that the division had to be made by him. He divided the letters here differently than the Masoretic text but still read the letters of the Masoretic text. Martin Luther connected all these sentences and employed causal particles = als = "when" and the adversative = aber = "but" for the copulatives = "and" in the original. He translated that "when Ephraim felt...then they....But he cannot". This form of connection are syntactically not original and is on a second level interpretative.

Hosea is speaking in this verse giving the information as God gave it to him. As a result of some blow in a military operation, Ephraim and Judah will seek help from Assyria in future. This means that the crushing action of 5:11 is not the exile by the Assyrians. You do not seek help from the enemy. In the history of Israel and Judah in this period such help was seeked by Ahaz the king of Judah from Tiglath-Pilezer III in 727 BC. The wound was probably the blow he got and after-effects of it he suffered of the Aramaean war of 731 BC. Ephraim became involved when thousands of daughters of Judah were settled in Samaria at that time.This is especially a relational wound that would built ties where there were none before and create emotional pain where there was none. The king Jareb is an interesting reading and it may be that Tiglath-Pilezer III or some of his high-officials were also called locally by that name. It could even be an abbreviation for some king in the Umwelt at that time. The closest I can think of is the name of a later Assyrian king with the name of Sennacherib in which the phonics of the last section of the name "cherub" and "Jareb" shows resemblance. Unless the prophet attempts to predicts here two sets of seeking help from Assyria: the first one with Tiglath-Pilezer III in 727 BC "shall turn to Assyria"; and the second one later with king Sennacherib (after 707 and 705 BC) "sent to king Jareb". There is still another possibility, substantiated by Hosea 7:11c-d.  Sheshonk V of Egypt was the ruler during this time and he reigned until 730 BC. His throne name was '3-pr-R(. It is possible that in the cross-cultural exchange of phonics, the local people of Palestine interchanged some of the consonants so that the /r/ and /p/ were interchanged. That would lead to a form similar to "Jareb". A gutteral is followed by an interchanged /r/ and then a voiceless bilabial-plosive /p/ for the voiced bilabial-plosive /b/ in Egyptian phonics. In modern cross-cultural phenomena this kind of event was very possible. It would mean that Ahaz suffered in 731 BC from the Aramaean onslaught and then called for help from Assyria and the "king Jareb" which is a local kakophonia of the throne name for Sheshonk V. This explanation seems to be the most plausible under these circumstances. The role of acoustic creativity in the creation of new word forms is very clear to me during my years of English teaching in South Korea. I would say the word "circle" and the student at the New Start English Institute in Taerung, spelled it as "circil". I would say "umbrella" and a boy in the Middle School in Seoul wrote "umblella" due to the fact that the /r/ and /l/ are interchanged very often both in writing and phonics of their own language. In a number of loanwords from English into Korean, the population say what they hear, canonized that verbalization and create a spelling that fit that phonics and then go one step further and canonize that spelling. Dictionary entrances indicate that "restaurant" became "resut'orang"; "liberalism" became "riborollijum"; "love letter" became "robu ret'o". In Japanese adoption of English words the same happened: "tower" became "tawa"; "helicopter" became "herikoputa"; "coffee" became "kohi"; "robot" became "robotto"; "elevator" became "erebeta" (this is a case of /l/ = /r/ and /v/ = /b/ interchange in Japanese); "Christmas" became "kurisumasu"; "butter" became "bata"; "sauce" became "sosu"; "milk" became "miruku". Personal names of English foreigners underwent the same spelling changes in Japanese: "Bell" became "Beru"; "John" became "Jon"; "Mary" became "Meari"; "Steve" became "Sutibu". It is possible that the gutteral preceding the /p/ in the name of Sheshonk V was very close acoustically to an /r/ sound so that it could have caused the interchange of the consonants /p/ and /r/ in order in the Semitic equavalent in Palestine. It may be objected by someone that the rest of the verse does not speak about a plural "they" but a singular "he" but then again the verse does not say that he turned to the king of Assyria and the king Jareb. Only one king is mentioned. At any rate neither Egypt or Assyria came to the rescue.

We have reason to believe that the metathesis in letters happened for the same reason as it happened later in the history of Israel when the Jewish readers read the name of Tirhaka differently than the Egyptian readers. The letters for the name of Tirhaka is written in four letters on his belt. Two letters are at the top and two are at the bottom. Reading it from right to left in a horizontal direction resulted in the consonantal text of the Masoretic tradition reading. Reading it from right to left in a vertical direction resulted in the Egyptian scarab form and reading (see K. van Wyk, "Black Presence in Israel in the days of Isaiah: Tirhaka the Ethiopian" in Archaeology in the Bible and Text in the Tel [Berrien Center, Michigan: Louis Hester Publications, 1996], 292-293). Our understanding is that the same thing happened with the name of Sheshonk V in that the consonantal text of the Masoretic Tradition is the Hebrew reading of the Egyptian name in a horizontal order while the Egyptian way was in a vertical order resulting in the position of the /r/ and /p/ differently.





The name of Tirhaka written on his belt


              R  T            

              Q  H





                            r    t

                    q    h              




Direction of the reading in Egyptian:

                3        1                           r             t

           4       2                    q      h


Direction of the reading in Semitic:

                2        1                     r                   t

           4       3                    q            h


The forms of the above Egyptian letters of the bottom line is written in the reverse position. 

In 2 Kings 19:9 it was read by the Hebrews as Tirhaka. However, the Septuagint is spelling the name as Θαρακα which in essence means that the /h/ preceded the /r/ in Greek but follows it in Hebrew. In the above examples it shows that the Hebrews read the letters of the belt in the Semitic direction and the Greek translators read it in the Egyptian direction. Of course Egyptian direction of reading can be any direction horizontal or vertical. The Hebrew reader thus read it Tirhaka instead of Taharka the way it was read in the scarabs. It probably also demonstrates that the Hebrew of the consonantal text of the Masoretic tradition is more reliable than the Greek translation of the Middle Ages represented in Rahlfs 1935. The Hebrew authors had an actual view of the belt which caused the misreading which the Greek translators did not have later. The Greek translators could rely only on the scarab information.

Let me assume that the letters on the belt of the Egyptian Pharaoh Sheshonk V were also represented by Egyptian phonics with pr represented not with the scarab-sign but spelled out alphabetically with signs:  h P R in the full form as:  

            A h P R @   =  '3-pr-Rc          

Let us further assume that these letters were arranged almost the same as that of king Tirhaka in 710-664 BCE on his belt in the following way:


The name of Sheshonk V supposedly written on his belt




              R     h   A

              @      P





                            r    h     a

                    r    p              





Direction of the reading in Egyptian:

                4        2     1                   r    h   a

           5       3                    r    p


Result of the reading the Egyptian way:



Direction of the reading in Semitic:

                3       2    1                     r    h   a

           5       4                    r    p


Result of the reading the Semitic way:  Jereb or Yereb.

In verse14 God is like a lion unto Ephraim the same as Christ will be in the Executive Judgment resulting in the Hell event in the eschaton after the millennium. "For I am like a lion to Ephraim and like a great lion to the house of Judah. I, I, I will tear them and I will go, I will carry and no one to save" The difference here is that in the executive judgment the punishment only affects the evil in finality. His remnant is correctively disciplined.

Jerome kept to the repetition of the first person particles as "I, I" = ego ego. There is a third one as a suffix to the verb. The last part of this verse Martin Luther added some idiomatic German in order to interpret in his translation: "I carry them away, and no one can save them" = "ich schleppe sie weg, und niemand kann sie retten".

God is speaking in this verse. The suffering that Ephraim is going to suffer during the Syrian war and its after-effects between 731-727 BC are but just "a lion" in comparison what Judah is going to suffer when God will be like a "great lion". We have already indicated that the history of king Ahaz of Judah indicated that Ephraim was very much wrapped up in these events since it is through and nearly on his territory that the women and children were transported and it is on its territory that many of the pagan temples were. I once saw a news clipping in South Africa in the Kruger National Park where two drunk Chinese tourists got out of their car to film the lions. One of them were attacked and the other friend managed to return to the car and all he could do is to film the last moments of his friend being torn and carried with no one to save. God is comparing his actions to a lion. A most unusual syntactical phenomenon here is the repetition of the first person three times: two times as an independent particle and one time as a suffix added to the verb. It is as if God is saying that they should not attempt to look for other explanations for these events but redirect the results of the actions to Himself. The lion was a favored symbol on the thrones of both Egyptians and Assyrians. God did not want them to get attached to a mere political explanation of the prophecy but to see the spiritual aspect behind it. It is He who did what He predicted.

Thre is of course the Theology of the judgment of the gods as a lion in Sumerian.

In their book Sumerian Literary Texts in the Ashmolean Museum by S.N. Kramer and O.R. Gurney there is an example of execration texts of the enemies of Iddin-Dagan. The description of the aspects of holy Ninisinna, the daughter of An reads that she is "Queen whose 'tempest', like a raging storm, makes heaven tremble (?), makes the earth quake, [line 4] Whose [lifted awsome] face, like Gibil, rends the flesh of the enemy". There is then a long description and in line 11 follows "Howling storm, roaring lion, that cuts off the neck of the enemy, [line 12] raging storm that gnashes (its) teeth in (?) its (?).... In line 17 follows "Lion, leopard, rising from its lair, that makes the foe tremble, [line 18] that like a 'noble' snare lies (in wait) for the evil-doer, [line 19] Queen whose melam is awesome,  born of An, [line 20] Who cares for the righteous, who keeps an eye on the assembly". This is execration text 8 in that book. It illustrates that the gods of the Sumerians were regarded in the days of Jacob as a raging lion in judgment but also taking care of the righteous. What is also important in that text is the wish of the worshipper that the enemy shall not carry the god's name. In line 56 it reads: "Oh your name, Nini[sinna], Oh your name]". In Hosea the covenant name of God as He revealed himself to Moses is of importance. In our understanding with all nations dispersing and originating from Noah in 2692 BCE, true religion with its concepts as one can find in Hosea was supplanted in time after the flood with pantheistic natural religions like the descriptions of the execrations texts of the Sumerians. In our understanding this imagery was known to Noah and these traditions  of the true religion became borrowed elements in the Sumerian and other religions originating later. Eschatological descriptions of the judgment of God was known to Noah, and experienced by him. Remnants of those experiences can be found in texts like the one above in the Ashmolean Museum. Hosea was not the first one to "invent" eschatological lingua and neither was the Jewish religion unfamiliar with it before his time.

God in His foreknowledge already see that this executive punishment will be corrective with positive results. It is thus not the executive judgment of the evil in Hell that is outlined here.

"I will go, I will return unto my place until they agree and they seek my face. In distress to them shall they speed to me" (verse 15).

Again the translation of Jerome in this verse is remarkably literal and corresponds very close to that of our own. Martin Luther translated idiomatic here "I want to go again to my place" = "Ich will wieder an meinem Ort gehen".

God is speaking in this verse. In this verse we learn that God has a place that He calls "my place". There is hints in the Old Testament about the place of God, namely that He sits on a throne. In the New Testament the place of God is also a throne and Jesus goes to the righthand of God the Father. In John 14:1-3 Jesus promised to go to His Father and He will prepare a place for the redeemed. He will built the new Jerusalem which will come down from heaven in the eschaton (see Revelation 20). In the Middle Ages the Jewish Rabbis reasoned that since God is Almighty, He is everywhere. Since He is everywhere there is not a place that He is not. Before creation, God had to spiral Himself in to create a space where He is not and in that space He created the earth. This idea is called the doctrine of the Tsimtsum. For God to be absent He had to humble Himself and shrink Himself so that He can make a space for Himself and a space for others. God does not need these logical scientific laws to operate His own creation. God can defy science and scientific laws and still create so that human logic does not need to try to work out how God created. After all, we are still standing with our feet on the earth and know nothing beyond Mars so how can we determine what happened in heaven distant away from us with certainty unless God reveals it to us in His Word?


Dear God

We realize now that corrective 'executive judgment punishments' on us as faithful is just a heartfelt corrective discipline by You as our dear Father in Heaven. If that is what it takes, give it to us, but do not let us slip out of Your hand. Amen.