HOSEA, BOOK OF
HOSEA, BOOK OF, the first of the 12 books that make up the *Minor Prophets. Everything points to this book's having been produced in the kingdom of *Israel and redacted, after the fall of that state, in Judah; and this makes it a valuable source for the spiritual history of the Northern Kingdom and for the influence of its literature on the late kingdom of Judah and on Judaism. The book's northern origin may also account, at least in part, for its many textual problems. A better understanding of Hosea leads to the discovery that it is of an importance out of proportion to its size. A translation of the superscription of the book (Hos. 1:1), with the dates of the reigns – necessarily approximate but close enough – added in parentheses, reads as follows: "The word of YHWH that came to Hosea son of Beeri in the reigns of Kings Uzziah [769–734 B.C.E.], Jotham [apparently only co-regent with Uzziah], Ahaz [733–727], and Hezekiah [727–698] of Judah and of King Jeroboam son of Joash [784–746] of Israel." It is however uncertain whether the biographical material is realistic. This basic uncertainty has led to a wide variation of interpretation and thus to different conceptions of the prophet (see below).
Most of Hosea's prophecies are oracles of doom, and the ideals embodied in them are associated with historical recollections of the nation. The people of Israel have forsaken the Covenant (Hos. 8:1) by worshiping foreign deities. By being disloyal to God, the true God of morality, Israel has also removed herself from the source of morality and has become corrupt. Lack of faith in God has led Israel to seek help and relief from neighboring nations. This, in turn, has further increased Israel's immorality by exposing her to the influence of foreign religion and the kind of morality that Hebrew writers attribute to the gentiles (see, e.g., Lev. 18, 20). In the future God will punish Israel for her infidelity in the same manner as one would punish an unfaithful wife, namely, by casting her (Israel) out of her home (the Land of Israel). The nation will then be destroyed and the people will go into Exile.
In spite of all this, God's love for His people will never cease. Through punishment, God will purify Israel and lead His people to repentance. The surviving remnant of Israel will no longer worship foreign gods or seek foreign help, but will rely solely on God, Who will preserve the remainder of Israel and restore Israel to its former glory. The ideal of love is the
The book falls into two parts: A. Hosea A, chapters 1 (minus the superscription)–3; B. Hosea B, chapters 4–14.
HOSEA A (CHAPTERS 1–3)
Brief Summary of Contents
Hosea A (chapters 1–3) comprises two narrations of prophecy: (i) a heterobiographical (or third-person) one, chapters 1–2; (ii) an autobiographical (or first-person) one, chapter 3.
(i) In the heterobiographical account, Hosea is ordered by YHWH (1:2) as follows: "Go, get yourself a wife of whore-dom and children of whoredom, for the land shall surely stray from following YHWH." He marries Gomer daughter of Diblaim. She bears him a son, whom YHWH tells him to name Jezreel as a sign that YHWH will shortly "break the bow of Israel in the Valley of Jezreel" (1:5); next she bears him a daughter, whom YHWH tells him to name Lo-Ruhamah ("not-accepted," "of unacknowledged paternity") as a sign that YHWH "will no longer acknowledge the House of Israel as my own." At this point it must be stated that the names say nothing atall about the character of either the children or their mother, or about Hosea's attitude toward them or her. For that matter, they do not, in themselves, say anything about the character of Israel either, but only about YHWH's attitude toward and intentions regarding Israel. Similarly, on the birth of a third child, a second boy, YHWH says (1:9): "Name [imperative masculine singular] him Lo-Ammi ['not-my-people'], for you [plural] are not my people, and I will not be [a God] to you [plural]." The last clause has been emended to read "and I am not your [plural] God" (reading ʾEloheikhem for ʾehyeh lakhem). Now, in the first clause, the command kera (qera') shemo ("name him") in the singular, can only be addressed, as in verses 4 and 6, to Hosea. Consequently, the plural 'you's in the second and third clauses must include Hosea; i.e., they must mean: "you, Hosea, and your fellow [North] Israelites." Consequently, that is how the second person plurals in 2:3  (if correct), and 4  must likewise be understood. For everything that follows 1:9 down to the end of chapter 2 (including 2:1–3 [1:10–2:1] if original, but see further on) continues the speech of YHWH to Hosea begun in 1:9. In 2:4 ff., then, YHWH calls upon Hosea and his fellow countrymen, "the children of Israel" (2:1–2 [1:10–11]; 3:4–5), to see if they cannot shame their mother Israel, whom YHWH has already divorced, into ceasing her harlotries; for otherwise YHWH will reduce her to destitution (with 2:5 ; cf. Deut. 28:48a) and will also disown her children, "for they are [now] a harlot's brood, in that [so render ki here] their mother has played the harlot" (2:6–7 [4–5]). It is explained that the "lovers" with whom she has played the harlot are Baal (or the Baalim) and that playing the harlot with him (them) means worshiping him (them). YHWH, however, will go through with his plan of rendering her destitute. He will turn her land into desert, producing neither grain, nor wine, nor oil, nor flax, nor wool, nor figs. Thus she will be prevented from celebrating any religious season, either of YHWH (2:13 ) or of Baal (verse 15 ). Then she will turn back to YHWH (verse 9), who will comfort her and will not only restore and enhance the fertility of her stricken farmland but will render productive even the parts of her land that were always barren (like the Valley of Achor; 2:16 ff.). At no point is there any talk of taking her out of her own land into the desert, either before or after her conversion. If we-holakhtiha ha-midbar is retained unchanged, it must be translated, "I will make her walk through the desert [which her land will have become]." YHWH will, moreover, espouse her a second time, and in such a way as to insure the permanence of the new marriage for he will pay as her bride-price (the preposition be – in verses 21–22 [19–20] is "the bet of price," exactly as in the identical phrase in II Sam. 3:14) – and he will pay them to her, since she has no father – the qualities of righteousness, justice, goodness, graciousness, and loyalty, so that she will be devoted to YHWH (or rather, reading at the end – since the second person [for the third] appears wrong anyway both in verse 18  and in verses 21–22 [19–20] – u-ve-daʿat (ʾet) YHWH [for the ʾet. cf. Isa. 11:9]: he will bestow upon her as bride-price the three pairs of qualities, righteousness – justice, goodness – graciousness, and loyalty – devotion to YHWH. In non-allegorical language, of course, that means that YHWH will make a new God- and-people covenant with Israel and will obviate any occasion for dissolving it like the first by making Israel constitutionally incapable of breaking it. This idea was taken over from Hosea by Jeremiah (Jer. 31:30–33 [31–34]) and from Jeremiah by Ezekiel (Ezek. 11:19–20; 36:26–28).
(ii) The autobiographical account (chapter 3) conveys the same message as the foregoing, and it relates that the first two features of that message – the present situation (YHWH's bounty and Israel's infidelity, 3:1), and the imminent future (Israel's inability [because of its utter destitution] to support either a government or a cult, Yahwistic or otherwise, 3:2–4) – were dramatized by the prophet and an anonymous woman, representing YHWH and Israel respectively. In contrast, the remaining two stages – Israel's repentance, 3:5a, and YHWH's renewed bounty, 3:5b – were not dramatized. (For the significance of this omission see below.)
Traditional Views of Chapters 1–3
Neither the rabbis of the talmudic period nor the medieval commentaries questioned the datings in the superscription. The former also accepted literally the divine command to Hosea to marry a prostitute. They conjectured that God had complained to Hosea, "My children have sinned," in the expectation that, as befits a prophet, Hosea would make intercession on their behalf; instead, he had suggested that God disown them and choose another people in their stead. So God
A Neo-Critical Approach
MORE INTENSE ANAYLSIS OF CHAPTERS 1–3
Y. Kaufmann rightly denies that the woman of chapter 3 is the same as that of chapter 1 or that the text says anything about Hosea's marrying her. H.L. Ginsberg's detailed treatment (Ginsberg, 1960, in bibl.) of chapter 3, which has been substantially adopted by W. Rudolph, did leave one problem without a completely satisfactory solution: namely, the problem of (3:1) YHWH ordering Hosea to "love" a not very admirable woman, and of Hosea being able to "love" her to order, just as YHWH "loves" the Israelites but they turn to other gods. Ginsberg's failure in this regard was due to his failure to take seriously enough his own observation that chapter 3 repeats the thought of chapters 1–2. For chapter 2 does not say that YHWH has been loving Israel and that latterly she has taken it into her silly head that she owes this love to the Baalim, but that YHWH has been supplying her needs – her grain, wine, oil, etc. – and that she has latterly taken it into her head that she owes these commodities to the Baalim (2:7 , 10 ). In light of all this, the verb ʾahav in 3:1 is to be taken not in the sense of "to love" but in that of "to befriend." For the correctness of this inference, the fact that ʾahav also has this sense (twice) in Deuteronomy 10:18–19 and nowhere else is striking confirmation. For it was noted above that only Deuteronomy 28:48a agrees with Hosea 2:5  – in juxtaposing nakedness and thirst, to which it should be added that the phrase "and I lavished silver and gold on her (hirbeti lah)" occurs again (mutatis mutandis) in Deut. 8:13 and in Deut. 17:17, but not anywhere else; and it will be noted further on that Hosea B likewise exhibits "deuteronomisms," and even more significant ones, to be found nowhere else outside Deuteronomy. Here, then, is how 3:1 would now be translated: "YHWH said to me further, 'Go, befriend a woman who, while befriended by a companion, sleeps with others [lit. 'commits adultery'], even as I befriend [ke-ʾahavati for ke-ʾahavat YHWH] the children of Israel but they turn to other gods.' So I befriended a woman of lust [wa-ʾohav ʾeshet ʿagavim – N.H. Torczyner]." Since Hosea here attaches no conditions to his gifts, the woman continues to engage in her profession – just as the children of Israel "turn to other gods." Next, however, in verses 2–3, he makes a formal business deal with her, in which the quid pro quo is clearly defined: for a specified consideration, consisting partly of money and partly of commodities, "you are to stay for me for a long period of time [in the actual occurrence he may have specified a maximum] without either fornicating or marrying (cf. Ginsberg, 1960, in bibl.): not even I will cohabit [loʾ ʾavoʾ probably to be restored, and at least understood] with you." That a prostitute would not agree to abstain from engaging in her gainful occupation "for a long period of time" without compensation (3:2) surely does not need to be labored. But naturally, it is only to the acting out of the negative instructions (3:3) that the prophet attaches symbolic significance; for obviously only such an abstention can signify that (3:4) "for a long period of time the children of Israel shall remain without king or official, and without altar [read mizbe'aḥ for zevaḥ] or cult pillar or ephod and teraphim." Thus the message of the second symbol is, like that of the first, something which has already been said in chapters 1–2: for the extinction of the monarchy, cf. 1:4; for the cessation of all cult, both Yahwistic and Baalistic (for of the features named, at least altars are legitimate), cf. 2:13–15 [11–13]. The prophet does not, however, explain the symbolic meaning of the payment of 3:2; because he agrees with those modern writers, even though they are still a minority, who deny that it has any.
Like the heterobiographical account, chapter 3 predicts two further stages in the history of Israel: (stage 3) Israel's repentance, 3:5a (cf. 2:9b [7b]), and (stage 4) YHWH's renewed bounty to her, 3:5b (cf. 2:16 ff.). Unlike the first two stages, however, the last two are not symbolized. This is very significant. If words mean anything, 3:1 and 3:3–4 mean that in the symbolic actions of stages 1 and 2 Hosea represents YHWH and the unnamed woman represents Israel. Evidently this is only tolerable because what is symbolized in stages 1 and 2 is not the covenant relationship between YHWH and Israel. It has been shown above that what is symbolized in stage 1 is, on the one hand, YHWH's generosity (which can even be impersonal, like that which is shown to the needy) and, on the other, Israel's liaisons with other gods, and that what is symbolized in stage 2 is the absence of any relations between Israel and YHWH (and between Israel and any other god, for that matter). Reverence, however, forbade the symbolizing, by means of scenes in which the woman and Hosea executed appropriate gestures,
For this reason alone, 1:2b – according to which Hosea is actually to take a wife and beget children (the begetting is real, 1:3ff.) of a certain description (no matter what its exact sense may be; the writer was probably not clear about it himself) in order to dramatize the fact that YHWH's "wife" and "children" answer (or are going to answer, the more natural meaning of the Hebrew) to the same description (2:4–7 [2–5]) – would have to be pronounced an unhistorical element analogous to those that are present in other third person narratives about prophets (see *Immanuel). The unclarity of the passage (in what sense was Gomer "a woman of harlotry" and in what sense were her children "children of harlotry"? Did she possess this character before her marriage or acquire it only afterward? etc.) is a feature of its legendary character. It is due to a confusion, in popular memory, of three distinct female figures: the two real but distinct women of chapters 1 and 3 and the abstraction "Israel" of chapter 2. Those scholars who construct a romance about Gomer's lapse from virtue, her expulsion from Hosea's house, her sinking into prostitution and/or slavery, and her lovingly forgiving rehabilitation are at once victims and propagators of the same confusion. There are, however, no reasons for relegating the rest of the hetero-biographical account to the realm of legend; on the contrary, it has every appearance of being basically historical.
THE BACKGROUND OF HOSEA
As Y. Kaufmann rightly stresses, the Baal worship, of which Hosea A speaks, is first one that includes festivals celebrated with festive garb and ornaments (2:15 ) and secondly something new. If Israel had been living in affluent apostasy for centuries (so the prevailing view), the prophet would hardly expect her, with such obvious confidence, to attribute the coming destitution to her having forsaken YHWH (2:9 ); she would be far more likely to conclude that she must have done something to provoke the Baalim. A third significant feature of this Baal worship (and one which escaped even Kaufmann's eye) is that (though the rank and file are going to suffer for it) it is national, or official, but not popular; for although YHWH says in 1:9 to Hosea (see above), "you [plural, i.e., the Israelites including Hosea] are not my people etc.," nobody will suppose that Hosea was personally to blame. By the same token, if YHWH calls upon the Israelites including Hosea to try to reform their mother so as not to be disowned on account of her (2:4–7 [2–5], see above), the implication is that the mass of Hosea's fellow countrymen have personally had as little to do with the Baal cult as he. When did such an extraordinary situation obtain, with a Baal cult which was brand new, which was celebrated with much festivity, but which had hardly spread beyond a narrow official, or court circle? Were it not for the chronological data in the superscription (1:1) and the threat against the House of Jehu in the text (1:4), it would be arbitrary in the extreme to think of the reign of Jeroboam son of Joash. For the Books of Kings say clearly that a temple of Baal (whose cult is sharply distinguished from the golden calves) was built by Ahab (I Kings 16:31–32), and that the temple, cult, and worshipers of Baal were destroyed by Jehu (II Kings 10:18–29); and the total silence on this head of both Kings and Amos speaks eloquently against any conjecture that Jeroboam II restored the status quo ante Jehu. However, since the chronological data in Hosea 1:1 and the reading "[House of] Jehu" in 1:4 do exist, H. Graetz, who realized – in 1875 – that chapters 1–3 speak not of a Yahwism allegedly "baalized" ever since the settlement in Canaan (so the regnant view) but of a Baalism comparable to the Baal cult of Ahab, surmised that the latter was revived by Jeroboam II. (It may be observed here that H. Graetz nevertheless realized that the author of Hosea A cannot be identical with that of Hosea B, which he dated to the reign of Pekah.) Kaufmann, however, insisted that the background can only be "the age of Jezebel" despite the aforementioned indications in 1:1 and 1:4. As regards the dating in 1:1, he regarded it as not an authentic tradition but an inaccurate surmise (its origin will be taken up below). Less satisfactory is his treatment of the phrase beit Yehuʾ ("the House of Jehu") in 1:4. He corrects it to beit Yehoram ("the House of Jehoram") and makes it refer to Jehoram son of Ahab, and he alleges support for this reading in the Septuagint. "The House of Jehoram" is, firstly, intrinsically improbable and, secondly, not supported by the Septuagint. It is intrinsically improbable because, for one thing, Jehoram seems to have given Baal worship less encouragement than Ahab (cf. II Kings 3:1–3) and, for another, whereas as has been seen, Hosea presupposes a Baal worship which is both brand-new and essentially restricted to a narrow official or court circle, by Jehoram's reign Baal worship was not brand-new (Ahab and Ahaziah between them had certainly reigned over 20 years, perhaps over 30) and – however much may be legitimately deducted from the face value of passages like I Kings 18:22, 30; 19:10, 14, 18 – it had certainly spread beyond the narrow inner circle and even beyond Samaria. The support for his conjecture of an original Yhwrm (Yehoram) for Yhw' (Yehuʾ) which Kaufmann thought he had found in the Septuagint is illusory because while the principal witnesses do read Iouda, this does not reflect a Hebrew reading Yhwdh (Yehudah), which could conceivably go back to an original Yhwrm (Yehoram; so Kaufmann), but is an inner Greek corruption of Iou (the regular rendering of יֵהוּא), which could easily be mistaken for an abbreviation of Iouda because the latter is frequently abbreviated to Iōū in manuscripts. Accordingly Ginsberg, who in 1960 (in bibl., 50, n. 1) declared in passing that he subscribed "in all essentials" to Kaufmann's views "concerning the special character and historical background" of Hosea A, published in 1967 (VTS, in bibl., 76, n. 2) an observation which solves both the problem of the origin of the impossible Yhw (Yehuʾ) of 1:4 and a number of other puzzles. This passage is only one
It was pointed out above that Hosea is the author of the idea of a new covenant with a built-in guarantee against Israel's giving YHWH cause to renounce it like the first one, namely, a change in Israel's nature. The other important innovation of this man is, of course, the husband-and-wife allegory. It is therefore very notable that, as noted, the first man to employ this allegory employs it only for the purpose of contrasting the wife with the children. It was the unique situation near the beginning of Ahab's reign, when a limited circle at the top actually worshiped the Tyrian Baal – in other words, the need for inventing a wife allegory in order to contrast the wife with the children – that gave birth to the wife allegory. To be sure, there was all along a factor favorable to the birth of such an allegory, namely the doctrine of YHWH's jealousy and His insistence that His covenant partner Israel worship no other gods beside Him. This, however, was heavily outweighed by
JUDAHITE INTERPOLATIONS IN HOSEA A
Thus the importance of Hosea A alone amply justifies the labors of the Judahite literati who preserved the remarkable monument of Israelite prophecy called the Book of Hosea. Whereas the beginning of 1:1, "The word of YHWH that came to Hosea son of Beeri," is doubtless old and reliable (cf. "Hosea" – twice – in verse 2), the rest of it is a late combination of the datings in Isaiah 1:1 and Amos 1:1. The former was probably suggested by the fact that the Book of Hosea contains (from Hos. 5:13 on), like the Book of Isaiah (from 7:17 on), numerous references to Assyria; the latter, by the fact that the Book of Hosea, like the Book of Amos, is addressed primarily in Israel to Israel. The resulting synchronism is very imperfect: a prophetic activity which extended beyond the reign of Uzziah through those of Jotham and Ahaz into that of Hezekiah, would also have extended beyond the reign of Jeroboam son of Joash through those of Zechariah, Shallum, Menahem, Pekahiah, and Pekah into that of Hoshea. In some scholars' chronologies, Hezekiah's accession even postdates the fall of Samaria. Likewise obviously secondary are 1:7, 2:2a [1:11a], and 3:5ac. Hosea, c. 870–865, had no occasion to add 1:7 after 1:6, since he shows by 2:16  that by 1:6 he does not preclude YHWH's later taking the House of Israel itself back into favor. The disintegration of the House of Israel, which took place in the second half of the eighth century, lay beyond his horizon. To the author of verse 7, in contrast, it was a historical fact; to his contemporaries, an assurance that the same fate would not befall the House of Judah was a vital necessity. It is fascinating to speculate whether 1:7b reflects the glossator's adherence to the view of Isaiah that Judah must not attempt to regain her independence by means of military alliances but must wait for YHWH to do the job Himself. At any rate, a dating in the age of Hezekiah for the other two interpolations as well is favored by Isaiah's expectation of a revitalized Davidic Empire that would include Israel and by possible practical attempts in that direction on the part of Hezekiah (cf. II Chron. 30). Short Judahite glosses, recognizable as such by their isolation (no reference to Judah for long stretches before and after) and mostly by their hypermetrism as well, are also scattered over B, and some of them will be pointed out. It was desired to make the message of the revered prophet of the north relevant in the late kingdom of Judah (and its post-Exilic successor) by including Judah in the rebukes directed against Ephraim (which are not the same thing as an outright repudiation like 1:6). In the entire Book of Hosea, the only passage in which the name Judah is not either part of a gloss or a misinterpretation of an abbreviation which was intended to represent Israel is the one in 5:10, where Judah is condemned for aggression against Israel (see below).
HOSEA B, OR DEUTERO-HOSEA, OR SECOND HOSEA, CHAPTERS 4–14
There is a characteristic word that keeps recurring in these chapters: the name Ephraim as an alternative to Israel, or the House of Israel, or the Israelites (Bene Yisraʾel), as in Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Deutero-Zechariah. This usage is of course unknown to Hosea A, in the reign of Ahab, but it is unknown even to Amos, in the reign of Jeroboam II (784–748). No wonder, then, that Hosea already knows of the assassinations of the two ephemeral kings Zechariah and Shallum in the year 747. Now, Shallum's assassin and successor was Menahem (747/6–737/6), whose coming under Assyrian suzerainty (which took place in 738) is related to II Kings 15:19 in a formulation which is at least compatible with the view that the protection of the Assyrian king Tiglath-Pileser III had actually been solicited by the former. This fact is stressed by H. Tadmor, who compares with it not only Hosea 5:13 (and 14:4) but also 7:11; 12:2; for he surmises, quite plausibly, that since Assyria – Menahem's first choice – was unable to respond immediately, Menahem tried Egypt and oscillated between the two until one of them – Assyria – did respond in 738. One might also call attention to the title melekh yarev which is bestowed upon the king of Assyria on the first occasion on which Ephraim's solicitation of him is mentioned, 5:13, and repeated in 10:6: in light of the foregoing, perhaps it is to be translated, after Isaiah 51:22 ("Thus said your Lord YHWH, your God who champions [yariv] his people"), something
Differences from Hosea A in Form and Content
Hosea B falls into three sections marked by three distinctive openings: Hosea B–a, 4:1–7; 13, 15–16; Hosea B–b, 8:1–2; 7:14; 8:3–13; 13:15–14:1; and Hosea B–c, 14:2–4; 13:14; 14:6–10. The opening of B–a (4:1–3) reads as follows: (1) "Listen to the word of YHWH, O House of Israel; for YHWH has a lawsuit against all the inhabitants of the land. For there is no honesty, no goodness, no mindfulness of God. (2) Swearing and breaking faith, and murder, and stealing, and adultery are rampant, and crime overtakes crime. (3) For this the earth shall wither; and all that dwell on it, of beasts of the field and of birds of the air, shall shrivel, and the fish of the sea shall perish as well." (Verse 3 is a conventional cosmic touch which is not meant seriously; cf. Zeph. 1:2–3.) In 4:4–8, the prophet singles out for reproof the priests, and in 5:1–2 the priests, the prophets (read neviʾe yisraʾel for bet yisraʾel in 5:1), and the royal household, not as being worse than the masses but for failing to check the corruption of the masses. Obviously, such a blanket denunciation of the entire population negates the original raison d'être of the wife allegory, the need to distinguish the upper crust as the true culprit by means of the figure of the mother, from the masses who are, naturally, represented as children. The author is consistent; he employs only pure children metaphors: (1) 5:7, "They have been faithless to YHWH, have become to him like strange children [read ke-vanim zarim hayu lo]; therefore a destroyer shall consume [read yokhal mashhit] their portions [i.e., in their father's bounty or at their father's table]." (2) 9:15, 17 (9:16 belongs between verses 11 and 12); (verse 15, YHWH speaking) "For [read ʿal] their wickedness at Gilgal-it was there that, for their evil doings, I disowned [as in Mal. 1:3] them-I will drive them out of my house [like an embittered father]. No more will I accept them [as in wa-ʾohav, Mal. 1:2b; in Mal. 1:2a, the verb means "to favor"] they are all, MT is an inept recollection of Isa. 1:23] rebels." (verse 17, the prophet speaking) "My God rejects them, and they shall wander homeless among the nations." A Hebrew pun which Hosea indulges in twice (4:12b; 9:1 [read zenunim or zenut for ʾetnan]), that between zenut/zenunim, "fornication" and zanah min, "to stray away from [one's God]," has misled some investigators into treating those examples of the wife metaphor; but that is very superficial. 4:12b does not say "she [personified Israel] has strayed from her husband" or "has played the harlot with lovers," because the text says not a syllable about idolatry (see below). What it does say is, "For a lecherous impulse [literally, a spirit of fornication (zenunim)] has made them stray, so that they have strayed from submission to [wa-yiznu mitaḥat] their God" – a statement which is very much in place in a pericope whose one theme is (drink and) fornication – literal, not figurative (see below) – and which opens with (4:10) "… for they have forsaken YHWH to practice (11) fornication" and concludes with (5:4) "Their habits do not let them turn
Contents of the Individual Sections
B–a, 4:1–7:13, 15–16. The formal opening of this section (4:1–3) has already been quoted. It is no accident that for all its length it contains no allusion whatsoever to idolatry; for neither is there a word about it in all of chapters 4–7 except in the received text of 4:17, and that is corrupt. (The initial phrase is to be emended to ḥever ʿogevim, "a band of lechers"; on the whole of 4:17–18, see Ginsberg, in; VTS, 1967, in bibl.) As against its reticence about what is not named in the formal opening, B–a is outspoken about ethical evils of the sort that are enumerated in the formal opening: murder (6:8–9), theft and robbery (7:1b), treachery (6:7), including the special variety of treachery toward kings (7:3–4, 6–7), and – at some length and repeatedly – lasciviousness, sometimes coupled with drunkenness (4:10b–19; 5:4; 6:10). Against attempts to interpret this libertinism in whole or in part as a figure of speech for idolatry, see Ginsberg, in: VTS (1967), 74–77, where only a couple of details need to be corrected, mainly the following: Hosea 4:10b–12 (the first word) is to be rendered, "(10b) For they have forsaken YHWH to practice (11) fornication. New grain [for yyn, read dgn] and new wine (12) deprive my people (11) of its reason." For the starkly anatomic-erotic import of what follows in the text, see Ginsberg, ibid. As the parallels 7:14 (which is to be read after 8:2, and in which yitgoraru means "they fornicate") and 9:1–3 (read zenut or zenunim for ʾetnan) show, the proverbially merry seasons of the new grain and the new wine (Ps. 4:8) were for many of Deutero-Hosea's contemporaries seasons of sexual license; and this debauchery also went on in the neighborhood of the sanctuaries, where inviting prostitutes to the sacrificial banquets (Ps. 4:8 middle) was a feature of the festivity rather than of the ritual. At any rate, the prophet's fulminations are aimed at the depravity of this dalliance, not at its alleged rituality; and he begs the rakes to have at least the decency to keep away from YHWH's sanctuaries and to stop professing YHWH (4:10b–15, with the last clause of 15 to be interpreted in light of Isa. 45:23bb; 48:1ba; Jer. 4:2a; 12:16). The only thing these four chapters score besides Ephraim's moral corruption is his religio-political imbecility. The moral rot in Ephraim has not gone unpunished; Ephraim is weak, his pride has been humbled before his very eyes. How does he try to appease YHWH? Not by turning over a new leaf, but by trying to soothe YHWH with the smell of burning cattle fat, 5:5–6 (minus 5:b b, which is a Judahite gloss). This is spelled out in 5:8–7:8. The "Judah" in 5:10 is the only one in the entire 14 chapters of the traditional "Book of Hosea" that is not either part of a gloss or a scribal misinterpretation as Yehudah of an original Y that should have been read Yisraʾel. The gist of 5:8–7:8, then, is this: Ephraim is weak and helpless. Judah has encroached upon its territory. Judah's action was inexcusable, and it will yet feel YHWH's wrath; but for Ephraim's helplessness Ephraim itself is to blame. For a justification of the following translation, see Ginsberg, in: VTS, 1967. "(5:11) Ephraim is wronged, defrauded in judgment,/because he was a fool and followed delusion// (5:12). For it is I who am like corrosion to Ephraim,/like rot to the House of Israel(!)// (5:13) Yet when Ephraim saw his sickness, Israel (!) his sore,/Ephraim went to Assyria, and sent missions to a patron king" (yarev = yariv [Isa. 51:22], as explained above). The text then goes on to predict that when Ephraim has learned the hard way that Assyria cannot heal it, it will turn to YHWH with very commendable resolutions (6:3b) to embrace mindfulness of YHWH; but it is a foregone conclusion that although Ephraim-Israel (this correction must be made in 6:4) can be trusted to continue to bring his sacrifices, which leave YHWH cold, his mindfulness of (or devotion to) God, which is the same thing as goodness (ḥesed), will not last. Goodness, or mindfulness of God, is the one thing that would move YHWH without fail to heal Ephraim but covenant breaking is rife in Adam, evildoing and lawlessness in Gilead, murder at Shechem, and shame in "Bet Israel" (corrupt for Beth-El, which was contaminated by "Israel" at the end of the verse), where Ephraim has whored and Israel been defiled. 6:11a is of course one of those interpolated Judahite clauses, hypermetric and with no organic connection with its environment. Then comes this: (6:11b) "Whenever I would make my people whole again,/ (7:1) whenever I would heal Israel, Ephraim's guilt appears/and Samaria's wickedness. For they act faithlessly/(clause missing); a thief sneaks into the house, and bandits raid outside." Since, therefore, on the one hand, this concluding passage about the things that inhibit YHWH from healing as limited to Israel, Ephraim, and Samaria, with never a word about Judah and Jerusalem, and since the immediately preceding list of illustrations of cure-repelling ḥesed- lessness is likewise limited to places like Adam and Gilead with nary a Beth-Lehem or a Hebron; and since, on the other hand, Judah is represented in 5:8–11 as, in contrast to Ephraim, disgustingly healthy and since, so far from soliciting Assyrian protection, it was probably at this time heading an anti-Assyrian coalition under its King Azariah-Uzziah (see H. Tadmor), to reject, under such circumstances, the above view of the "Judahs" in 5:12, 13, 14; 6:4 (misinterpretations of abbreviated "Israel") and of Judah clause 6:11a (an interpolation) is not a philological judgment but an act of faith (or deception). It is worth considering whether the famous crux ליהודה בישראלin II Kings 14:28 may not represent a completion of an original לי meaning לישראל and בי a corrupt dittogram of לי. Within Hosea B–a, Ephraim's stupid disloyalty in seeking from others than YHWH a cure for its YHWH-inflicted woes is stressed again in 7:8ff., and the prophet returns to this theme in B–b.
B–b, 8:1–2; 7:14; 8:3–13:13. As a preliminary, it may be noted in passing that 8:1–2; 7–14 obviously served as a model for Isaiah 58:1–4. The above themes of B–a are not dropped but added to in B–b. 8:4b has the first mention of idolatry, the making of images of silver and gold; primarily, "the calf of Samaria" (verses 5 and 6) is meant. This designation is puzzling: Does it mean that the image had been transferred (during the Judahite threat to Bethel, 5:8–10?) to Samaria, though it was still occasionally called "the calf of Bethel" (10:5, where Beth-Aven is the cacophony which is usually substituted for Bethel in this book) on account of its origin? An elaborate Baal cult like that of Hosea A evidently no longer exists. The sin of Baal-Peor in the days of Moses is mentioned in 9:10; and 13:1, which employs the simple "Baal," is unclear but definitely refers to the past (Baal-Peor or Ahab's Baal), since the following verse says "And now they sin again" and specifies abuses other than Baal. In 11:2, where a lone offering to beʿalim is stated to be a current practice, the parallelism to pesilim ("carved images") shows that the word, if correctly transmitted, can only signify false gods in general as suggested by Y. Kaufmann; but in view of 8:5, 6; 10:5; 13:2, there can be little doubt that beʿalim is miswritten for ʿagalim ("calves"). A special kind of unacceptable worship is the cult of Beth-El or El-Beth-El, the numen of Bethel (12:5–6), who was regarded by the (north) Israelites as their national tutelary angel (cf. Jer. 48:13). Whether or not the rearrangements of Ginsberg (in bibl., 1961) are acceptable, he shows the meaning of the individual clauses in 12:1–14. (Attributing these meanings to the clauses but leaving their order unchanged results in a picture of a prophet who talks sense but is afflicted with a sort of St. Vitus' dance in his speech. Even that is preferable to one of the conventional insipid jumbles.) 12:1–14 adds up to the following argument (whose author evidently knew the very traditions about Jacob that are preserved in Genesis, but just as evidently takes liberties with them for his own purposes): Ephraim is full on the one hand of false dealing (1a, 8–9) and on the other of incredible self-deception (2, 12). His progenitor Israel-Jacob was just like him (the Yehudah in verse 3 is another of those wrong completions of the initial Y of Yisraʾel. Yaʿakov (Yaʿaqov) in verse 3 and ʿakav (ʿaqav) … sarah in verse 4 constitute a chiasmus). On the one hand he defrauded his brother; on the other he adopted as his guardian and quasi-god an angel, Beth-El, who was no match even for Jacob himself. One ought not in any case to invoke any being among YHWH's hosts but only the God of Hosts Himself (verse 6). Jacob paid for his stupidity. His guardian was not able to save him from the necessity of fleeing into exile, where he endured such poverty that he had to indenture himself to watch flocks in order to earn a wife (13–14). Angels have never done Israel any good even as YHWH's messengers. The messenger through whom YHWH brought Israel up from Egypt was a prophet; through a prophet, Israel was effectively guarded (14). So also now, only YHWH will restore Israel's security, and again through prophets (10–11; "Let you dwell in your tents [read beʾohalekha]" is to be interpreted in light of II Kings 13:5); but he must learn to cultivate goodness and justice, and to put his trust in his God (not in Egypt, Assyria, or the cults of Bethel, Gilead, and Gilgal); in other words, he must give up his twin vices of rascality and impracticality! This dwelling on patriarchal and Mosaic history (also early premonarchic, 10:9, 10ba) is characteristic of Hosea B–b. The pertinent passages are concentrated between 9:10 and 13:5, and the first of them reads as follows: (9:10) "I found Israel/like grapes in a desert; I regarded your fathers/as early ripe figs in a parched land. But they/when they came to Baal-Peor/turned aside to shame. Then they became as detested/as they had been loved." (Of the 12 letters following kbkwrh, the first 6 are to be emended to btlʾbh – cf. the parallelism in 13:5 – and the other 6 are to be omitted as a misunderstood correction of a dittogram of rʾyty. "Parched land" is the meaning of sundry derivatives of the Arabic laʾaba "to be thirsty" – Ibn Janaḥ, Ibn Ezra, Kimḥi on 13:5.) As can be seen from the Jahwistic-Elohistic (JE) account in Numbers 25:1–5, the Baal-Peor episode began with fornication with the Moabite women, and this led to an acceptance of their invitation to the feast of meat from animals sacrificed to their god Baal-Peor (a reversal of the usual respective roles of the sexes at such affairs, Hos. 4:14). After what has already been noted of this man's strong view on illicit sex, it is obvious that it is not by chance that he cites just the first phase of the Baal-Peor episode as the cause of YHWH's revulsion of feeling. It is no doubt because tradition knew of no incident of sexual immorality on the desert wanderings that he came to believe that Israel was free from serious blame until it came to Baal-Peor in Transjordan. The basic idea that Israel's innocence lasted through the desert period is of course borrowed by Jeremiah 2:2ff., but because Jeremiah is speaking in the aftermath of the Manasseh apostasy he stresses just the cultic aspect: Israel worshiped YHWH single-heartedly in the harsh desert, but although YHWH rewarded it (zakharti lakh, "I remembered in your favor," Jer. 2:2) for this loyalty by making it inviolable (Jer. 2:3), it exchanged Him for other gods just amid the plenty of "the country of farm land" (ereẓ hakarmel, Jer. 2:7). This interest in pre-conquest history is itself an Ephraimite though not an exclusively Deutero-Hosean, contribution to the culture of post-eighth-century Judah. It would seem that in Judah the centrality of the David-and-Zion ideology had, by the middle of the eighth century, pushed the traditions about the Patriarchs and the age of Moses to the periphery of theological interest. Amos mentions the bare facts of the exodus and the 40 years' sojourn in the wilderness, but does not allude to persons or incidents of that age; and about the Patriarchs he is completely silent. Isaiah actually alludes to the crossing of the Reed Sea (Isa. 11:15 [from we-henifon]-16), but that is all. The apparent allusion to Abraham in Isaiah 29:22a is a corruption, because the only accurate translation of the half verse as it stands would be, "Assuredly thus said YHWH to the House of Jacob which redeemed Abraham" (other renderings take liberties with syntax). ʾAvraham would seem to be miswritten for ʾavotam, which yields the sense "to the House of Jacob whose forefathers He [i.e., YHWH] redeemed." Of course there are as references to Abraham, Isaac,
The booklet Micah 6–7 ends with the self assuring meditation, "You (O YHWH) maintain the enduring kindness/that You promised on oath//to our fathers Abraham and Jacob/in the days of old" (7:20). That this is not an atypical early Judahite writing but a typical Ephraimite one is (1) suggested by the accusation (6:16), "Yet you have observed (wa-tishmor, so also others) the laws of Omri and all the practices of the House of Ahab and have walked in their counsels…," which would most naturally be addressed to one of the Omrids' successors the Jehuids, and is (2) practically demonstrated by the prayer (7:14): "Oh, shepherd with your staff Your people, Your very own flock. May they who dwell isolated [or, reading midbar, in a wilderness], in a scrub by farm land, graze Bashan and Gilead as in days of yore." The speaker's people are evidently still occupying Cisjordan but he complains that it is but "a scrub" compared with the neighboring "farm land" Bashan and Gilead which he prays may be restored to Israel. The whole suggests the earlier years of Jeroboam II, before he reconquered Transjordan. It is a pity the name of this countryman and contemporary of Jonah son of Amittai of Gath-Hepher (II Kings 14:25) has not been preserved. The reason why his little book was combined with the prophecies of Micah (meaning "who is like [YHWH]?" may have been the concluding paragraph. 7:18ff., which begins with the words miʾel kamokha ("who is a God like you?").
"Second Hosea" (Hosea B) is a man of pathos. He tells us how an irate YHWH banishes his unworthy children from His table (5:7) and His house (9:15) declaring, "I will drive them out of My house! I no longer accept them! They are all rebels!" The prophet's denunciations are unsparing (all sorts of wickedness are universal; priests, prophets, and court are complaisant; only this one prophet rebukes, 4:1–5:2). Ephraim is at once a swindler and a fool – just like his sainted forebear Jacob 12:1–14, as interpreted above, and his threats are blood-curdling (sterility, miscarriage, infant mortality, early death, 9:11, 16, 12–13; crop failure and mass emigration, 9:2–6; brutal, all-destructive civil war, 10:14; massacre of the population of Samaria, 14:1; the sword shall devour Israel's flesh and bones, 11:6; his very sources shall dry up, 13:15). Yet in 12:1–14 (interpreted above) he pleads with Israel (not without hope as in chapter 6) to give up his odd combination of faults and be saved. In his tender moments he is sentimental. YHWH adopted Israel as His son when it was an infant (11:1); He fondled and pampered it (11:3–4). It is shockingly unfilial (11:2), Let the sword devour it! (verse 6). How can YHWH go through with his fell design (11:8): "How can I give you up, O Ephraim?/How surrender you, O Israel?/How can I make you like Admah,/Render you like Zeboiim [On Admah… Zeboiim for the usual Sodom… Gomorrah, see below]. I have had a change of heart,/All My tenderness is stirred. (9) I will not act on my wrath,/not proceed with Ephraim's destruction. For I am God, not man,/Holy Being, not flesh" (reading kadosh (qadosh) we-loʾ vasar instead of the received last five words). There is therefore nothing surprising about the beautifully tender conclusion B–c.
B–c, 14:2–4; 13:14; 14:6–10. The prophet instructs Israel how to turn back to its God YHWH: Bespeak His forgiveness and promise that you will cease to delude yourself with hopes in Egypt, Assyria, and fetishes. YHWH's reply is that of a father who has disowned but still loves his children. The characteristic phrase is, "I will love them of My own impulse" (14:5), i.e., with unmerited love. The verses that follow are elusive as regards the individual phrases, but the gist of them is unquestionably that they promise Ephraim a blessed future. (For an attempt to restore verse 9, see Paul in: Lives, 28 (1969), 53, n. 44.) It is from this "Hosea" that Jeremiah learned that Ephraim-Israel is YHWH's son (Jer. 31:8 ), and that though He has disowned him He cannot help loving him and will surely rehabilitate him (Jer. 31:19 ). It must be repeated that Hosea A – quite apart from never using the term "Ephraim" – is rather unemotional. He does not say that YHWH cannot bring himself to execute the threatened punishment, never pleads with Israel to convert (he merely predicts that she will), and does not speak at all of YHWH's love either with reference to the past, present, or to the future (it has been explained that ʾahav in 3:1 means "to befriend"); he merely says that YHWH will again accept (we-riḥamti 2:25 ) Israel, because she will quite certainly repent. In Hosea B, ʾahav means merely "to accept or recognize" in 9:15, 11:1, but ʾahavah does mean "love" in 11:4 referring to the past, and the verb ʾahav apparently doesmean "to love" in 14:5.
THE BOOK OF HOSEA AND DEUTERONOMY
In the body of this article various debts which the later prophecy and religion of Judah owed, partly to the Book of Hosea alone and partly to the Book of Hosea and other writings, have
That Deuteronomy, which was published in 622, should owe something to the Book of Hosea is not so surprising, since it has been demonstrated in the body of this article that Jeremiah,
[Harold Louis Ginsberg]
In the Aggadah
Hosea prophesied concerning Israel for 90 years (PR 33:90). His father Beeri, too, was a prophet, but only two verses of his prophecies are preserved in the Book of Isaiah (Isa. 8:19–20; Lev. R. 6:6). A contemporary of Isaiah, Amos, and Micah, Hosea was the greatest of them (Pes. 87a), for he not only induced his people to repent but he also taught them how to pray (PR 44:23). He was the first prophet to proclaim the greatness of repentance, teaching that it reaches the Throne of Glory (Hos. 14:2). His ancestor Reuben was rewarded for having repented of his hostile behavior toward Joseph (Gen. R. 84:19). Most Midrashim about Hosea center around the command God gave him to marry a harlot, and beget children of harlotry (Hos. 1:2). Her name Gomer daughter of Diblaim signified that "all satisfied (gomerim) their lust" on her and she was the daughter of a woman of "ill-fame" (dibbah). When God spoke to the prophet about the sins of Israel, expecting him to excuse or defend his people, Hosea countered by telling God to choose another people. It was then that Hosea was commanded to take Gomer to wife. When, after a time, God asked him to follow the example of Moses, who parted from his wife as soon as he was called to prophecy, Hosea replied that he could not send his wife away since she had borne him children, whereupon God said to him: "If thou, whose wife is a harlot and whose children are the children of harlotry and thou knowest not whether they are thine or not, canst not separate from her, how then can I separate Myself from Israel, from My children, the children of My elected ones, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob?" As soon as he realized his sin, Hosea entreated God to pardon him, whereupon he was told: "Instead of asking mercy for thyself, ask mercy for Israel against whom I have decreed three decrees because of you." Thereupon Hosea prayed as he was bidden and the impending threefold doom was averted (Pes. 87a–b). In connection with this incident the rabbis teach that Hosea held a position midway between Moses and Balaam, neither loving nor hating Israel (Num. R. 2:17). According to one opinion, the merits of the fathers (*Zekhut Avot) ceased in Hosea's time (Lev. R. 36:6).
IN THE BIBLE: COMMENTARIES: E. Sellin (1929, Ger.); H.W. Wolff, Kommentar zum Buch Hosea (1961); J.M. Ward (1966, Eng.); W. Rudolph (1966, Ger.). STUDIES: Graetz, Gesch, 2 (1875), 93ff., 213ff.; N.H. Torczyner, in: Devir, 2 (1924), 85; H. Tadmor, in: M. Haran (ed.), Sefer ha-Yovel le-Y. Kaufmann (1960), 84–88 (Hebrew section); idem, in: Scripta Hierosolymitana, 8 (1961), 232–71; Y. Kaufmann, Toledot, 1 (1960), 93–146, 319; H.L. Ginsberg, in: M. Haran (ed.), Y. Kaufmann Jubilee Volume (1960), 50–69 (English section); idem, in: JBL, 80 (1961), 339–47; idem, in: Fourth World Congress of Jewish Studies, 1 (1967), 91–93; idem, in: VT Supplement, 16 (1967), 73–82; E.M. Good, in: VT, 16 (1966), 137–51; idem, in: Svensk exegetisk aˇrsbok, 31 (1966), 21ff.; S.M. Paul, in: VT, 18 (1968), 114–20; M.J. Buss, in: BZAW, 111 (1969); H.M. Kodesh, in: Beth Mikra, 42 n. 3 (1970), 264–97. STUDIES ILLUSTRATING PRINCIPLES IN ARTICLE: G.R. Driver, in: Textus, 1 (1960), 112–31; 4 (1964). IN THE AGGADAH: Ginzberg, Leg´ends, 4 (1913), 260f.; 6 (1928), 355f. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: M. Smith, Palestinian Parties and Politics that Shaped the Old Testament (1971); M. Astour, in: JAOS, 91 (1971), 383–89; H.W. Wolff, Hosea (Hermeneia; 1974); F. Andersen and D. Freedman, Hosea (AB; 1980); H.L. Ginsberg, The Israelian Heritage of Judaism (1982); B. Levine, in: AJS Review, 12 (1987), 143–57; S.D. Sperling, in: JANES, 19 (1989), 149–59; idem, The Original Torah (1998), 61–74; D. Stuart, Hosea-Jonah (Word; 1987), 2–220; M. Weinfeld, Deuteronomy 1–11 (AB; 1991), 44–50; C. Seow, in: ABD, 3:291–97; E. Goodfriend, in: ABD, 5:505–9; K. van der Toorn, in: ABD, 5:510–13; R. Weems, Battered Love: Marriage, Sex, and Violence in the Hebrew Prophets (1995); M. Sweeney, Twelve Prophets, vol. 1 (Berit Olam; 2000).
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