February 20, 2011

Minor Prophets XVII: Hebrew Fighting Championship (The HFC)

Ephraim feeds on the wind; he pursues the east wind all day and multiplies lies and violence. He makes a treaty with Assyria and sends olive oil to Egypt. The LORD has a charge to bring against Judah; he will punish Jacob according to his ways and repay him according to his deeds. In the womb he grasped his brother’s heel; as a man he struggled with God. He struggled with the angel and overcame him; he wept and begged for his favor. He found him at Bethel and talked with him there the LORD God Almighty, the LORD is his name! But you must return to your God; maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always. Hosea 12:1-6

Hosea 12 uses stories from Genesis and Exodus to paint a picture of deception and deceit. We see the pattern of Israel's history firmly rooted in the sins and somewhat poor temperament of their patriarchs.

(v.1-7) Overall we see the sinfulness shown as a pattern throughout Israel’s pattern of history. This is exemplified against the current backdrop of Israel’s condition in Hosea’s time. The first recognizable Pentateuch narrative is Jacob and Esau. It is rather cryptic at first glance until reading further. Jacob/Israel (a name play) took hold of his brother’s heel in the womb. I have to assume this is a desire to be the firstborn based on the commentary referenced (McGee 653). Jacob here is compared to the Israel (geographic) of Hosea’s time. He wrestled at birth? Next we see Jacob going at it again. This time he has bitten off more than he can chew since he is grappling with the Angel of The Lord aggressively pleading favor (blessing) before her would willingly release Him. Did Jacob beat God? Would Jacob have been a great Mixed Martial Arts fighter (MMA)? No! God had Him pinned flat on his back. So how did Jacob win? He surrendered. He was cognizant enough to realize that who he was wrestling with had the power to bless him and willfully submitted to that “Wrestler” by aggressively pleading for blessing. What Hosea is doing is pleading with Israel (geographic) to do the same as Jacob/Israel did…return to God after years of deception and deceit.

The merchant uses dishonest scales and loves to defraud. Ephraim boasts, I am very rich; I have become wealthy. With all my wealth they will not find in me any iniquity or sin.” “I have been the LORD your God ever since you came out of Egypt; I will make you live in tents again, as in the days of your appointed festivals. I spoke to the prophets, gave them many visions and told parables through them.” Hosea 12:7-10

(v.7-10) The word merchant in (v.7) is actually a liberal interpretation of Canaan/Canaanite. According to the Layman’s Commentary this is meant to reflect the mercantile interests of Israel from as far back as Solomon essentially a merchant king who’s desire to build Israel fiscally extended as far as to make questionable deals and whore himself out spiritually by marrying strategically to build the empire/monarchy. This eventually led to his apostasy.

Is Gilead wicked? Its people are worthless! Do they sacrifice bulls in Gilgal? Their altars will be like piles of stones on a plowed field. Hosea 12:11
(v.12:11) This alludes to the sacrifice of bulls at Gilgal in 1 Samuel. The altars from this time would be leveled to a pile of stones (Hbw: Gallim) in the looming invasion-the high places would be destroyed. Gilgal and Gallim is a poetic alliteration/repetition of sound by Hosea to drive home a point.

Jacob fled to the country of Aram; Israel served to get a wife, and to pay for her he tended sheep. Hosea 12:12
(v.12:12) Another reference to Jacob and his labor tending sheep for Laban to gain Rachel just as his descendants would have to serve Egypt until God gain their freedom from slavery.

HFC 1: God vs. Whoever/Sin...guess who wins?

McGee, J. Vernon. "Chapters 11-12." Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee-Proverbs to Malachi. Nashville: T. Nelson, 1981. 653. Print.

Myers, Jacob Martin. "On The Fatherly Love of God." The Book of Hosea ; The Book of Joel ; The Book of Amos ; The Book of Obadiah ; The Book of Jonah . Atlanta, GA: John Knox Press, 1978. 60-61. Print.

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