Reading The Minor Prophets
‘Trinity on Church’ UC Kitchener
Daily Monday to Saturday
WEEK 2 - Friday
November 09, 2018
Stay with the leap today in voice and identity. We are addressed as if we are Jezreel. We get a message to our younger sister and brother, now called my people and beloved, rather than ‘not-loved’ and ‘not-my-people’. We are told to plead with our mother Gomer (a.k.a. Judah and/or Israel) to stop promiscuity with other nations and their gods, lest a jealous Yahweh punish her.
Verse 3 is the worst of the oracle, apparently promoting or justifying domestic violence against an unfaithful spouse. At best, it proposes that Yahweh as husband will withdraw material support and kick the unfaithful wife nation out to fend for herself, since she has turned to others for material comforts. That infidelity has led to divided nations in the next generations.
The wife sought creature comforts and luxury goods through relationships with other nations and gods – and Yahweh, will block her way home. There follow today a long list of threats, before a long list of promises. If the people became faithful, with better discipline and inextricably, in better religious and ethical behaviour, Yahweh would resume being a good husband.
The diction of ‘Baal’, or fertility god, reduces moral goods to material goods. We focus all our energy, and measure all our efforts, against productivity. Doesn’t that sound familiar to you in late capitalism? Me to. Incidentally, the polemics accuse ‘baalism’ of cruelty to the weak, and orgies among the rich.
The diction of ‘God’, ‘Yahweh’, ‘Elohim’, ‘Jehovah’, promote other penultimate and ultimate goods, including justice, equity, mercy, grace, forgiveness, loyalty, integrity, authenticity, and so on. This is not an exercise in ‘comparative religion’ and the unchallenged human right of an individual to choose one.
Take your time today to relish the vision of peace and security as Hosea presents it late in chapter 2. How different is that from the visions promoted by our consumer culture? Traditionally, we have focused on distributive justice to name the contrast – but in this century, what do you imagine?
Hosea Chapter 2
1 Say to your brother,* Ammi,* and to your sister,* Ruhamah.*
2 Plead with your mother, plead— for she is not my wife, and I am not her husband— that she put away her whoring from her face, and her adultery from between her breasts,
3 or I will strip her naked and expose her as in the day she was born, and make her like a wilderness, and turn her into a parched land, and kill her with thirst.
4 Upon her children also I will have no pity, because they are children of whoredom.
5 For their mother has played the whore; she who conceived them has acted shamefully. For she said, ‘I will go after my lovers; they give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.’
6 Therefore I will hedge her* way with thorns; and I will build a wall against her, so that she cannot find her paths.
7 She shall pursue her lovers, but not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find them. Then she shall say, ‘I will go and return to my first husband, for it was better with me then than now.’
8 She did not know that it was I who gave her the grain, the wine, and the oil, and who lavished upon her silver and gold that they used for Baal.
9 Therefore I will take back my grain in its time, and my wine in its season; and I will take away my wool and my flax, which were to cover her nakedness.
10 Now I will uncover her shame in the sight of her lovers, and no one shall rescue her out of my hand.
11 I will put an end to all her mirth, her festivals, her new moons, her sabbaths, and all her appointed festivals.
12 I will lay waste her vines and her fig trees, of which she said, ‘These are my pay, which my lovers have given me.’ I will make them a forest, and the wild animals shall devour them.
13 I will punish her for the festival days of the Baals, when she offered incense to them and decked herself with her ring and jewellery, and went after her lovers, and forgot me, says the LORD.
14 Therefore, I will now persuade her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her.
15 From there I will give her her vineyards, and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she shall respond as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt.
16 On that day, says the LORD, you will call me, ‘My husband’, and no longer will you call me, ‘My Baal’.*
17 For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be mentioned by name no more.
18 I will make for you* a covenant on that day with the wild animals, the birds of the air, and the creeping things of the ground; and I will abolish* the bow, the sword, and war from the land; and I will make you lie down in safety.
19 And I will take you for my wife for ever; I will take you for my wife in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love, and in mercy.
20 I will take you for my wife in faithfulness; and you shall know the LORD.
21 On that day I will answer, says the LORD, I will answer the heavens and they shall answer the earth;
22 and the earth shall answer the grain, the wine, and the oil, and they shall answer Jezreel;*
23 and I will sow him* for myself in the land. And I will have pity on Lo-ruhamah,* and I will say to Lo-ammi,* ‘You are my people’; and he shall say, ‘You are my God.’