Avraham ben Yaakov
KNOW YOUR BIBLE
HOSEA CHAPTER 9
Chapter 9 v 1 begins a new prophecy, the first section of which is contained in vv 1-9, followed, after a break, by a longer second section (PARSHAH SETHUMAH) running continuously from ch 9 v 10 until ch 10 v 8. The conventional chapter break at 10:1 is arbitrary, interrupts the continuity of the sense of the prophecy, and does not correspond to the section breaks in the hand-written Hebrew scroll.
Section 1: Vv 1-9:
V 1: "Rejoice not, O Israel, for joy as other people." The true joy of Israel is not like that of other nations that did not receive the Torah and did not fall to God's lot - but now that Israel has gone astray from God they have lost much good (Rashi). Israel goes around like a harlot seeking sustenance and help from the nations instead of depending on God.
V 2: As a punishment, their granaries and wine-vats will not sustain them.
V 3: Instead of dwelling in their own promised land, they will go into exile in Egypt and Assyria .
V 4: Instead of offering pure sacrifices in God's Temple , they will eat impure food in exile - for they eat only for their own gratification: this is not the way to bring sacrifices to God.
V 5: What will you do on the day appointed for His vengeance - the day of God's "feast", i.e. when He slaughters the people?
V 6: Prophecy of the exile that will ensue when destructive invaders enter the land.
V 7: After having been flawed with a lack of DA'AS (knowledge, Godly awareness), the people will learn to know God's righteousness through the tribulations of exile, which is the payment for their sins. Then they will see that the false prophets on whom they relied for comfort were fools and madmen (Metzudas David).
V 8: Ephraim has his own "watcher", the false prophet who prophesied in the name of their idol, who is nothing but a snare into whose trap the people will fall (Metzudas David).
V 9: The sin of Ephraim was rooted in Giv'ah - alluding to the scandal of the Concubine in Giv'ah (where the tribes of Israel initially failed in their campaign against Benjamin owing to the presence of Michah's idol, Judges ch 19), or alternatively this alludes to the people's request for a king made to Samuel at Giv'ath Shaul (Rashi).
Section 2 of the prophecy: Chapter 9 v 10 - Chapter 10 v 8:
Ch 9 V 10: God originally chose Israel because they were like refreshing grapes in a wilderness or the luscious first fruits of the fig tree - the founding fathers and the generation of the Exodus were unique in the wilderness of the nations. However, already during the forty years of wandering in the wilderness, the people sinned with the Moabite women who caused them to become attached to their god, Baal Pe'or (Numbers ch 25).
V 11-14: The prophet prefers that the people should flit away like a bird and stop procreating: either they should have stillborn children, or abort their embryos, or not even conceive, as this would be better than raising children only to see them killed by their enemies, because Ephraim has become like the haughty Tyre
V 15: The prophet prays that their children should die young as the pain over the death of a child is less than that over the death of an adult (Rashi).
"All their evil is in Gilgal." The people sinned greatly with idolatrous altars in Gilgal (which was in the territory of Ephraim ) because the Sanctuary had originally been in Gilgal and the later idolatrous prophets told the people that it was a propitious place for sacrifice (Rashi).
Vv 16-17: Ephraim is smitten and dried at the roots, and cannot produce fruits - future generations - because God has rejected them owing to their disobedience, as a result they must go into exile. [Students of Hebrew may wish to consider whether allusions to the founder of Islam are embedded in Hosea 9:6 and 16.]
Verses 1-8 are the direct continuation of the parshah that began in ch 9 v 10.
V 1: Having earlier compared Israel to grapes in the wilderness ( 9:10 ) and having prophesied the terrible fate awaiting their fruits - their children - Hosea now complains that Israel is an empty vine - because their very fruitfulness and prosperity caused them to sin.
V 2: "Their heart is divided." i.e. from God: this is why they will be found guilty.
V 3: When the troubles of exile strike, they will realize that they have no king, because the king in whom they trusted to go ahead of them and fight their battles proved unable to help them (Rashi).
V 4: They talk indiscriminately, swearing falsely and striking covenants with the nations, and just retribution will therefore sprout like bitter hemlock in a field (Metzudas David).
V 5-7: The inhabitants of Shomron will succumb to panic over the idolatrous calves of Beith-Aven (=Beith El, where Jeraboam set up his altar). This is a prophecy of how the Assyrian king Phul was to take away with him the golden calves of Beith El when he took the tribes of Reuven, Gad and Menasheh into exile (I Chronicles 5:26).
V 8: The ultimate retribution will be the destruction of the idolatrous altars of Israel , causing them to ask the very mountains and hills to cover them in their shame.
A new prophecy starts at verse 9, which is the beginning of a PARSHAH PETHUHAH. This prophecy runs until 13:11 with a pause at ch 12 v 1, which begins a new PARSHAH SETHUMAH.
Ch 10 v 9: "More than in the days of Giv'ah have you sinned O Israel ." Rashi explains this as a reference to the sin of the Concubine in Giv'ah (Judges ch 19ff), where the presence of Michah's idol prevented the tribes of Israel from succeeding against Benjamin. ".there they STOOD" - i.e. the people STAYED with the same evil trait of idolatry (Rashi). We thus see Michah's idol to be the root of Ephraim's fall.
V 10: "According to My desire, I constantly chastised them in the time between one judge and another and I gave them over into the hands of their enemies" (Rashi).
V 11: "Ephraim is like a cow that has to be trained to work and draw the yoke and plow, but she prefers to thresh the harvested crops in order to eat while doing so. God taught them Torah and mitzvoth, but they want the reward without practicing" (Metzudas David).
V 12: "Sow for yourselves with righteousness, reap according to kindness.".The prophet yearns for the people to WORK so as to earn the promised goodness. "Rabbi Elazar said: The practice of kindness [going beyond the letter of the law] is greater than righteousness and charity [in strict accordance with the law and no more], as it is written, Sow for yourselves with righteousness, reap according to kindness. If a person sows, he may or may not eat, but when a person reaps, he will definitely eat. The reward for charity is only according to the degree of kindness with which it is practiced" (Succah 49b).
V 13: Despite the call of the Torah to good deeds, the people are like a stubborn cow that has plowed nothing but wickedness, as a result of which they will eat the fruits of their deception, having put their faith and trust in their own might - "MY power and the strength of MY hand" (Deut. 8:17).
V 14-15: The coming doom is all the result of the idolatry of Beith El.
MAY GOD SPEEDILY REDEEM US AND BRING US UP TO OUR LAND AND REBUILD OUR HOLY TEMPLE QUICKLY IN OUR DAYS. AMEN.
BACK TO KNOW YOUR BIBLE HOMEPAGE
By Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum
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