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Bible Study, The Minor Prophets: Hosea 8 - 9

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Posted on CCPC's website 2022

The Minor Prophets Study Index page.

      This is a long term, in depth, wide focus study of the Minor Prophets, drawing as much from the history of their times as possible, as well as looking at the original language of the prophet.
chapter 8

      To your mouth set the trumpet. He shall come like a “kan·ne·ser” (griffon-vulture(NOT 'an eagle') against the house of YHWH, because they have “‘a·be·ru” (done away with / transgressed) covenant, and “pa·se·‘u” (rebelled / revolted) against me.

      There's a twenty three pound carrion fowl with a nine foot wingspan circling the Northern Kingdom because of the way they've acted towards GOD.

      “Li yiz'aqu 'elohay yeda'anuka Yisra'el”
      The translations are all different again. But the Hebrew seems to say:
      “To me will cry 'My God, we, Israel, know You'.”

      “za nah” (spurned / cast off) Yis ra 'el “to wb” (good / pleasant / agreeable) - “’o·w·yeb” (foe / enemy) will “yir·de·pow” (pursue / run after).

      In most translations the first two clauses about kings and princes are right on spec. The next line about making idols works. The idols don't, but the verse does.

      “za nah 'eg lek” (your calf is rejected) “so·me·ro·wn” (Samaria), my “ha rah” (burning) “'ap pi” (anger) against them “ad” (long / until) “ma tay” (how long) “lo” (not / no) “yu ke lu” “prevail / overcome / endure (be able)) “niq·qa·yon” (innocence / freedom from guilt)?

      OK, let's sort this one out. The translations are good, but the meaning is a bit fuzzy.
      Israel, and its corrupt priests, are still going through the motions of worship, and offering burnt sacrifices to GOD, even while, in verse 4, still making idols. God is wondering, through the prophet, how long HE is going to tolerate this being as angry as he is, and how long it will take His People to come to their senses and go back to a state of innocence.

      The answer is coming:

      The translations are good: a sticker that says 'Made in Israel' means it isn't from God, and their idols will be broken to pieces.
      It also implies that the nation will be as well.

      'for the wind they sow, and the storm-wind reap' and then a farming crop prediction:
      The translations are good here. If anything should ever actually grow, foreigners will get it.

      This is a prediction of the transplant peoples from other conquered lands that Assyria will send in, who, with the few remaining Jews, will become the Samaritans of the Gospel era.

      As for what will happen to the current residents of the Northern Kingdom, stay tuned:

      Israel is “nib la” (swallowed / engulfed) - they are now among the “bag go w yim” (nations (specifically- gentile nations)) like a “kik li” (utensil (such as a serving platter or drinking cup) in which is no “hep es” (delight / pleasure).

      for they have gone up to “Assur” like a “pe re” (wild ass (the same word is used to describe Ishmael in Genesis 16 : 12)) alone and by itself, “’ep·ra·yim” has “hit nu” (hired) “'a ha bim” (loves (not, per se, 'lovers').
      The implication of the statement about the 'hired loves' is something along the line of a celebrity who has a 'posse' of hangers on, as long as they are rich and famous, then after a couple of movie and TV flops, and the money runs out, they find themselves alone and the answer to a trivia question like: “whatever happened to...?”
      Which we will see in a moment.

      Yes, though they have “hit nu” (hired) the “bag go w yim” (gentile nations) now I will “’a·qab·be·sem” (gather / assemble / collect) them “way·ya·hel·lu” (shall wither / waste away (starve)) a little because of paying tribute to the 'prince of kings'.

      One of the titles of the (Neo-) Assyrian King Tiglath-Pileser III was “King of the Four Corners of the World”, and as the ruler of the Assyrian empire, with its vassal states of Babylon, Sumer, Addadia, and so on... he was, for over twenty years.

      Because “’ep·ra·yim” has many “miz·be·hot” (altars) for “la ha to” (sin (the sin offering)); they have become altars for sinning.

12 There's a parentheses in the Hebrew, what it means isn't exactly clear.
      I have written “rub be” (myriad) of My law, but they were considered a strange thing.

13 and 14
      The translations are in the ballpark: they steal the sacrifices, the LORD does not accept them, He remembers their sins....
      ...      it won't end well.

      The condemnation also includes the South, and for similar reasons.

Chapter 9

      Do not “tis mah” (be glad / rejoice) “yis·ra·’el”, with “gil” (joy) like the foreigners! For you have “za ni ta” (committed fornication (cheated on)) your God. You have “'a hab ta” ('physical' love (had sex)) “'et nan” (for pay / hire) “al kal” (on every) threshing floor.

      There's a bit of significance to that statement. Let's drop back to 1 Samuel 24 : 16 and following, and echoed in 1 Chronicles 21, which highlight another threshing floor that ended up being a very special place to the Jews.
      Now, the Northern Kingdom is being accused of turning one into a brothel.
      The reference in the text is intentional.

2 and 3
      The texts, except for The Living Bible, are pretty close to the Hebrew.
      The lunch menu in verse 2 includes “ta me” (impure / unclean (religiously)) things.

      Welcome to our first paraphrasing of a verse to try to clear some of the fog in it:
      The LORD will not find their wine offerings pleasing, their bread shall be as the bread of “’o·w·nim” (sorrow), and whoever eats it will be ceremonially unclean. They will eat bread to stay alive, not as something done for GOD.

      The wine “ya yin” reference here is specifically to the offering as seen in Numbers 15 and Leviticus 23, as opposed to the strong drink “se kar” offering in Numbers 28: 7, and may or may not be the same as a general drink offering “nis kow” as is seen as far back as Jacob's offering on the stone in Genesis 35 : 14.
      The 'bread of sorrow' is part of a traditional meal of condolence after a burial. A round loaf of bread is provided by the neighbors to the house and family of the deceased and is passed around the table and shared as a sign of grief, In some traditions, the Kaddish prayer from the funeral service is recited softly. Of course, we see similarities in the breaking of the bread at Passover as observed by the Lord in the Upper Room.

      What will you do in the day “mo·w·‘ed” (appointed (time) / meeting), and in the feast day of YHWH?

      The verse does not specify which feast day it is referring to. The three major feasts observed during this time were Passover, and then fifty days later Shavuot (the Feast of Weeks), and then Sukkot (Feast of Booths), these were the ones that, if at all possible, the Jews were to observe in Jerusalem. Which would be most difficult if you and your entire neighborhood had been relocated to Assur.....

      For indeed they are “ha·le·ku” (gone away / departed) “mis·sod” (devastation / destruction) - Egypt shall gather them, Memphis (ancient capital city of Egypt, south of Cairo) shall bury them, their “mah mad” (good / desirable / pleasurable things) and “le·kas·pam" (silver / money) nettles / thistles shall possess, thorns shall be in their tents.

      “ba 'u” (coming, has come) the time of “hap·pe·qud·dah” (this word has a bunch of meanings, most imply: being held to account by an authority), “ba 'u” the time of “ha·sil·lum” (reward / retribution) - “yis·ra·’el” knows it, “'e wil” (foolish / a fool) is the prophet, “me·sug·ga‘” (showing madness (insanity)) is the “'is ha·ru·ah” (the man who is spiritual) because of the “rob” (abundance) of your “‘a·wo·ne·ka” (iniquity / guilt / etc), and “we·rab·bah” (much / great) “mas·te·mah” (animosity / enmity).

      Things have gotten so bad that the prophets of GOD are seen as fools and those that lead a spiritual life are taken as insane (sounds familiar, no?), but the time is coming to 'pay the piper'.

8 Again, there is little agreement between the translations.
      “so peh” ...

Watching the Watchers tangent:
      “We” are being watched. By GOD, of course, and by ... others.
      There's verses in the OT, implied in Genesis 6, mentioned in Daniel 4: 13, as well as the Book of Jubilees four, which details the early days of Enoch, whose own book we'll get to in a minute:

Jubilees 4 : 15 And in the second week of the tenth jubilee Mahalalel took unto him to wife DinaH, the daughter of Barakiel the daughter of his father's brother, and she bare him a son in the third week in the sixth year, and he called his name Jared, for in his days the malakim of YAHWEH descended on the earth, those who are named the Watchers, that they should instruct the children of men, and that they should do judgment and uprightness on the earth.

22 And he testified to the Watchers, who had sinned with the daughters of men...

      Jubilees 8: 3 and 4 are particularly fascinating in our current study:

“And he found a writing which former (generations) had carved on the rock, and he read what was thereon, and he transcribed it and sinned owing to it; for it contained the teaching of the Watchers in accordance with which they used to observe the omens of the sun and moon and stars in all the signs of heaven.
And he wrote it down and said nothing regarding it; for he was afraid to speak to Noah about it lest he should be angry with him on account of it.”
A Jubilee time out in the tangent:
      While the Book of Jubilees, also called “Little Genesis” and “Divisions” is known from multiple fragmentary copies from the Dead Sea Scrolls, and a complete copy in the Ethiopian Orthodox Bible and the Beta Israel Torah in Ethiopia, there is no other claim that it is canonical. And from up here in the press box, the Desk agrees with that.
      However, the fact that it was important enough for the Qumran community to have included at least a dozen copies of it, more than any other known text, in their secret library suggests that they thought it worth preserving. And, as an ancient book, it is interesting.
End time out

      The most common explanation, which is also something of the most reasonable explanation also includes another idea from Daniel, that at least the angelic prince Michael has the unenviable job of protecting Israel, as seen in 12 : 1. Also, from Job 1 : 6 we learn that the various heavenly beings come in and answer to GOD from time to time. We also know from passages like Hebrews 13 that angels wander around the Earth to sponge off the locals.
      So it would appear that there are some angels, and others, do what the passages in Enoch 6 and following suggest, that they 'watch' what's going on down here, and report back to God.

      This is one of the odder roles that the various beings alluded to in scripture occupy. While it is evident that they ARE there, and that they are doing SOMETHING, and in some way CAN interact with humans, the precise details are left out. Which means it is ripe for speculation, and you don't have to go very far to find it. And, for the most part, we avoid overmuch speculation in our studies here, so, having said all that, we now return you to Hosea 9 : 8 already in progress....
End tangent

      “so peh” (those that watch / spies / watchmen) of “’ep·ra·yim” is with my GOD, the “na bi” (prophet) a “pah” (trap / snare) of a “'ya·qo·wos” (bird hunter / fowler) in all his ways, “mas·te·mah” (animosity / enmity) in the house of his GOD.

      The reference to the wild bird hunter may be part of the problem with the translation of this verse. “back in the day” hunters would use various types of laid snares, such as loops of string that could be suddenly pulled tight around an animal's foot, nets that would spring over and trap them, and deadfalls that could be remotely triggered to kill game with blunt force. To lure an animal into their trap, they'd use bait such as grain or perhaps meat or even fresh water to get the animal into the area of the trap, and then patiently wait for the moment to activate the trap.
      Hosea is implying that somebody in Israel no longer appreciates the job of the prophet and, instead, sets a snare for...
      .... for, well, whatever comes along. Possibly including the prophet.

      “he‘·mi·qu-” (they are profoundly / deeply) “si·he·tu” (corrupted / spoiled - decayed (as a dead body) / destroyed) as in the time of Gibbah....

      OK, who's Gibeah? It's not a who, it's a 'what'. And something of a 'when'.
      Better known at the Benjamite War from Judges chapters 19 to 21, it involves one of the ugliest incidents in the period involving a man from another tribe and his girlfriend, and a mob of locals with ill intent that results in the death of the woman. Later the outside tribes punish Benjamin in an invasion killing many of the men, and later a different city was massacred, which resulted in the small tribe being even smaller, as it remained for the rest of its history.
      The echoes in the story that reflect the account of Lot in his house are not accidental.

      ... He will remember their “‘a·wo·nam” (perversity / iniquity), He will punish their sins.

      Like wild grapes I found yis·ra·’el, as the “ke·bik·ku·rah” (first figs / first fruits) of the “bit 'e nah” (fig tree) in the beginning of its season / first season - I saw your “’a·bo·w·te·kem” (ancestors / forefathers) but they went to “ba 'al pe·‘o·wr” (this version of Ba'al was the local deity in Moab, he was something of both a fertility god and one dedicated to sensuality) and “way·yin·na·ze·ru” (separated / consecrated themselves) “lab·bo·set” (shame / shamefulness) they became “siq·qu·sim” “abominable / detestable thing” like the thing they loved.

      Some of the practices associated with this particular Ba'al were considered an abomination by other pagans. See link below to

      The translations do OK.
      The verse seems to reference the glory of the nation and their hope for the future given the way they're going. In short: there isn't any.

      Yes, though they grow “be·ne·hem” (children / descendants), “we·sik·kal·tim” (cause bereavement (profound mourning)) “me 'a dam” ('to a' man), “ki gam” (Yes, indeed) 'woe to them when I depart from them'.

      The Lord is saying that even though they do have children, they will mourn as if they had died.
      It is within reason that the Assyrians took the younger people as slaves (or worse as we see in the next verse), and left the others there to work until they died.

      First half of verse in translations is on point. Tyre was a Phoenician city on the Mediterranean coast, now south of Beirut. One of the oldest continuously inhabited locations in the region, it was ancient even at the time of Hosea.

      So “’ep·ra·yim” “le·ho·w·si” (bring out / send out / etc) to “ho reg” (murder / slaughter / destroy) “ba naw” (children / descendants).

      'give them YHWH, what will you give them?'
      It is phrased as a question. Then comes the answer which explains the mourning in the previous verses:
      Give them a womb “mas·kil” (childless / miscarrying) and “we se·da·yim” (breasts) dry.

      A couple of points here: if they don't have children, they cannot be carried off by the invaders or old as slaves to them, or sacrificed to pagan idols.

      All “ra·‘e·tam” (wickedness / evil (as a malignancy)) in Gilgal, for I “se·na·tim” (hate / hated) them because of the “ro a'” (evil / bad quality) “ma·‘al·le·hem” (practices / acts / deeds). “mib be ti” (house) “’a·ga·re·sem” (expel / divorce / evict (implies 'by force')), no more “’a·ha·ba·tam” (love 'for them') - their rulers / princes are “so·re·rim” (stubborn / rebellious)

      Gilgal is mentioned as it was in chapter 4. The ancient settlement was the first place occupied by Israel west of the Jordan. The line about the princes implies a 'strong willed' child.

      The translations are good here, even picking up the “precious ones of their womb”.

      GOD will “yim·’a·sem” (despise / reject / refuse) because they did not obey Him, and they shall be “no·de·dim” (strays / wanderers / movers) “bag·go·w·yim” (foreign nations).

      And here we can stand back and point to our Special Feature looking for the “Lost Tribes of Israel”

Selected Sources for this chapter:

Meal of Condolence in Judaism


Mourner's Kaddish

The Book of Jubilees from the Dead Sea Scrolls:
“An error in translation”

The Book of Jubilees

Some Ba'al silliness, no really....:”Baal-Peor”

The Minor Prophets Study Index page.

NOTE: The Bible Study Lesson presented above is posted as a reference document to begin a conversation of the topic. And that's it. Please accept it at such.

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