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Translation of Texts
in Hosea and Isaiah
Items 23, 23A, 13
HOSEA 7:13 and HOSEA 13:1-2 with ISAIAH 8:19
23) Hosea 7:13
Walking in the Light and Keeping Your Eyes Open Ch. 4, *1 Excursion.
Here is one more example of the divine poignancy, that tenderness which invites, as in Matthew 23:37ff., Luke 19:42ff., and yet faces at once the eventual and coming nature of a discipline that the love and mercy of God would most willingly have spared. The textual and contextual grounds for this example being translated in such a way, appear below.
MERCY AND JUDGMENT,
SOFT CLAY and BRITTLE POTS
In Hosea 7, in fact, 7:1 and 7:13, you have in both cases a present tense optative. A word of clarification is needed here. In Hebrew, the basic concepts in the two major tenses are perfect and imperfect, or completed or uncompleted. The latter can involve many aspects in terms of their concepts: for example, present, future and various conditional aspects, or as here the optative. The essence is the mode of conception.
One prefers above to say
'present' tense, lest the 'imperfect' name which Hebrew uses for this tense,
might suggest the English or Latin imperfect tense, which indicates continuity
in the past. This is not so in the Hebrew division between these two tenses.
It is DONE or NOT YET DONE, finished or unfinished in THOUGHT. Those are the basic options. If you call one tense in Hebrew 'imperfect' as is customary, then you need to realise that it is simply negating the ‘perfect’ concept, diverse from that.
As to the latter, the perfect tense in Hebrew, it is in a special sense, such as in Greek you have, where the concept of completion can be related to perfection, in that it is the end of the road to whatever it is. Im- perfect then, the ‘imperfect tense’ in Hebrew is one which means im-complete, that is not yet done, if done it will be at all. So is it here in 7:13.
What then is the context in this 'imperfect' verbal case, this indication of non-completion so that the redemption did not occur ? The context in this case is not at all simply what God is doing NOW, since it is not being done! On the contrary, this blessed opening to mercy is being withdrawn; it is INCOMPLETE, so that the action in view did not reach its fulfilment. It is NOT what He has done.
Nor is it what He will do, for the reflection is on the failure of this thing at the present time, and the results of this. It is rather indicative of the willingness of God which has been shown, just as Jeremiah 18 makes it so exceedingly clear, even when judgment is on the threshold: a divine preparedness to engage in the healing of this people. It does not however transpire. Instead, as Jeremiah 19 makes clear so soon after the action of Jeremiah 18: the inveterate and chronic failure of the people to receive His mercy, this now transforms the situation. What had been not merely on offer, but was in fact a CONTINUING and UNCOMPLETED movement towards mercy, is now to be halted.
God will not ALWAYS STRIVE with man (Isaiah 57:15-16). Man’s spirit would fail before Him. He is limited. There is an end (cf. Proverbs 1!).
What then now ? As we see, now judgment sets in, as if a man with cancer should be shown a way out by immediate cessation of smoking, but still refuse to stop, in which the case the disease migrates.
It is thus here as in Hosea 7:1, an indication to the willingness that God had, as in Jeremiah 18:7-8: at that INSTANT that there is the change from the evil, to remedy and remove the judgment; but alas, it is not so here. Israel is NOT healed, so that the rest of the chapter, as in 7:13 reflects this lugubrious and mournful fact in the face of the often protested divine exhortation to return to Him, and invitation to mercy.
Thus in Hosea 7:13, - §"Though I would redeem them" as the ASV and Keil and Delitzsch, respectively, have, and correctly point out - it is not perfect or completed tense at all! It is the 'imperfect'. The AV rendering "redeemed them" is not what is there. A difficulty is not met by changing the base, but by exploring what it in fact provides: and here what is left and meets all the demands of the context fully, is the optative, which does no violence to the text and gives sustained meaning to the point as in 7:1.
In 7:1, the AV joins the rest, correctly, "I would have healed Israel!" This is the theme of the chapter, and in 7:14 we see the explication of the negative result in the face of the divinely positive entreaty and willingness. "They did not cry out to Me with their heart." THAT is where they went wrong so that the divine willingness does not reach its completion in their pardon.
Hosea 7:15 further details the past, where though the Lord disciplined them (exactly as in Amos 4), yet evil was still actively being plotted in their hearts. The thought is extreme. It is almost as if in the very preparation of the medical team for surgery, the patient bites the forefinger of a major surgeon, requiring stitches. It breaks its own mercy.
Hosea 7:16 then proceeds to generalise the case: they return (indeed, as might be protested by them), but it is not to the Most High. They are inveterately devious like a crooked bow. Thus 8:1 announces, in a transition precisely as in that between Jeremiah 18 and 19, the blowing of the trumpet and the onset of judgment.
As to this mode of divine willingness, aborted by rejection: You even see it said of Babylon, that eventual paragon of parasitic infestation with spiritual pollutions: Thus Jeremiah 51:9 also provides this word:
"We would have healed Babylon, but she is not healed. Forsake her and let us go,
everyone to his own country; for her judgment reaches to heaven."
Jeremiah appointed as spokesman in the Lord's name concerning the nations (Jeremiah 1:5,9), is not unaware of the divine mercy! Nineveh itself, in its ferocity and cruelty, was for a time delivered through the preaching of Jonah, though that prophet was much upset by the delay in divine judgment; and here even Babylon, acme of evil frenzies in false religion, was to be envisaged for a mercy she would not receive. The Lord remonstrated with that prophet concerning the enormous suffering which would have been involved and the wonder of the situation where now it is not only avoidable, but to be AVOIDED!
This is the desirable thing altogether! Yet the truth will not bend, and if the mercy IS rejected in the end, then the judgment like that on a student who WILL not respond to the teacher's offer of extra time before the examination, is as inveterate as the refusal.
Sometimes the Lord makes unqualified declaration of His final determination of an event, which may or may not occur immediately (in Hezekiah's case, it was delayed for the nation); and then it is done. Sometimes there is presented the result of their ways, and in that case, at that instant there is change, the case is remedied. When the situation, known before time to God (Isaiah 46), reaches its consummation before Him, then the judgment is inalienable, as in highly dramatic form is exhibited in Ezekiel 18:12-20.
"The word of the Lord came again to me, saying:
'Son of man, when a
land sins against Me by persistent unfaithfulness,
I will stretch out My hand against it; I will cut off its supply of bread, send famine on it,
and cut off man and beast from it.
"Even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it,
they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness,' says the Lord God.
'If I cause wild
beasts to pass through the land, and they empty it,
and make it so desolate that no man may pass through because of the beasts,
even though these three men were in it, as I live,' says the Lord God,
'they would deliver neither sons nor daughters;
only they would be delivered, and the land would be desolate.
'Or if I bring a sword on that land, and say, "Sword, go through the land," and I cut off man and beast from it, even though these three men were in it, as I live,' says the Lord God, 'they would deliver neither sons nor daughters, but only they themselves would be delivered.
'Or if I send a
pestilence into that land and pour out My fury on it in blood,
and cut off from it man and beast, even though Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, as I live,'
says the Lord God, 'they would deliver neither son nor daughter;
they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness.' "
The case is as in Jeremiah 19, in the negative case; just as Jeremiah 18 has the positive one, when the result being wrought, the putative destruction is dismissed, and blessing ensues instead.
In Jeremiah 18, there is the illustration of the softer clay still being formed on the potter's wheel. Marred, it is malleable, and the potter reforms and reformulates until it is put right. So the Lord can indeed change the marred, the prophet shows, making the point to the people from the mouth of the Lord.
In Jeremiah 19, however, there is simply a finished piece of pottery. The now brittle pot is simply broken into pieces: inveterate and shaped, it stands for no change, and is dashed to the ground, a symbol of the certainty which now faces Israel, of judgment which the prophet proceeds to delineate.
Facts are never fudged, but mercy may be shown; and where it is breached with high-minded hostility, rejected with low desire, fought against and there is no relenting, where the hand of God is hated or His will and word despised, as in Proverbs 1, then reality, undismissible, continues, and the sheer magnificence of mercy is lost.
Such is the position, as is repeatedly, after the manner of a father, to be found in the Bible:
that divine desire, that
that quest, that seeking for
that desire to deliver,
whether the lost in Israel,
or anywhere else,
with this prophet or that,
as instrument for speech,
in this situation or that,
for the world (John 3:16) in
or for a city, as in the case of Jonah with Nineveh.
What then do we find ? The divine rebuke to Jonah, in which the suffering which judgment would have levied is set before the disquieted prophet, as the Lord delightedly averts the disasters otherwise impending on Nineveh, sums it up with that proper relish which constantly and consistently rejoices the heart as one reads the word of God. Truncation of this cone is like seeking to abolish the last10,000 feet of Everest; but it is rather as if to abolish the heights of the divine mercy.
Prominent over all judgment, not to remove it but to distance it and to deliver from it, is this tempering tenderness, this divine and zealous love, this readiness to pay costs and redeem; and if in judgment mode, when the time comes, the truth is painful, yet mercy shut out does not distort the truth, but is the way to its non-sacrificial implementation. Neither truth nor mercy changes; but in all truth, there is a time when mercy is complete and only judgment remains (cf. Proverbs 1).
That is the position: God SO loves, has NO pleasure in the death of the wicked, would have ALL come to repentance and a knowledge of the truth (John 3:16, Ezekiel 33:11 and I Timothy 2), so that these verses in Hosea 7 are of the utmost interest.
You see the PRINCIPLE involved in the very story of Hosea, the prophet almost incredibly called to marry a harlot, who at that becomes unfaithful, till he has to redeem her to free her from her marital follies. The message is clear: GOD took a sinful people to make them His own, they strayed, and His redemption alone can avail for the deliverance of ANY of them.
Nor is this world different, the unchanging God being no respecter of persons, and whether it be the Old Covenant or the New (as Hebrews so pointedly shows), it is ONE eternal redemption made available for ANY, and it is not enough that the Messiah brings the chosen of Israel back to the Lord, but rather is His field in extending form, with the same gospel, passion and provision, that of being a light also to the Gentiles.
Indeed, in Isaiah 65:13ff., we see that this movement of the same mercy from the same God with the same Gospel in the New Covenant is such that until Israel repents, it becomes more like a curse than a blessing, and the inheritance of divine joy in the Lord moves to those who receive it, namely in this case, Gentilic peoples. It is this fact that Paul so greatly emphasises when he speaks of Isaiah's 'boldness', in declaring that to those who did not seek Him, yet in prodigious mercy the Lord has come with His mercy, even to the Gentiles (cf. Romans 10:19-21). When at last much of Israel DOES come to this same Messiah, it is as if blindness had been removed, and then as in Zechariah 12:10ff., there is a massive concentration on repentance which occupies several verses in the writings of that prophet.
GOD does not change; the OLIVE TREE (in Romans 11), wherein lay Israel, which was cut off like a branch, into which the Gentile believers then came, it is one and the same, rooted and grounded in the same God with the same name, nature and principles, concentrated in Ezekiel 33:11 in general terms, and expanded most explicitly in John 3:16, I Timothy 2, Colossians 1:19ff., to show just the same attitude. It is one whether to those formally rather than functionally within His covenant, as Israel strayed, or to those called to it, but slipping, as the world strays.
He would bring all, but finds His own, where neither merit nor grace, superiority nor personability, neither charm nor goodness is relevant, for at this level, all fail utterly and entirely before the God of truth and brilliance of purity. Even the human will is irrelevant (John 1:12, Romans 9:16), as far as man's basic exercise of it is concerned, being polluted past function. It is not however irrelevant to God, though it is past its own control; and He who knows all things, and would have all, CITES this same PREFERENCE for darkness as the controverting phenomenon (John 3:19).
Here is the divinely listed negating action as before the mind of the eternal God who has known before all time who are His: it is this which brings man, even in the face of such love, justice and mercy in godly company, to his own requital. It is God who says so continually, whether in the Old Testament prophets, in Paul or in the words of the Messiah.
also The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 4, SMR
Appendix B, Great Execrations, Greater
Chs. 7, 9
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IRONY OF HOSEA
Much may be learned both of the closed mind and the open door, yes and the call of Christ, from Hosea. Our special interest today is to be found in the translation of Hosea 13:2, a fascinating, not to say intriguing matter, in which one can only agree in the main with some of the old Hebrew assessments and that of Jerome, Cyril and Theodoret. However, there is a spread on the subject, one most illuminating, and it seems good to investigate, knowing this, that the nearer we get to the text, the better prepared we are for the test. The word of God is for action.
Hosea is one of the most stridently tender and poignantly penetrating prophecies in the Old Testament. It is one to awaken not only the sleeping, but those dead in slumber. When, after all, centuries of folly, hypocrisy and pride of life have led through disobedience and rebellion to the revocation of blessing and the axe for asininity, it is time to awaken. At the purely political, but indirectly national level, Churchill had something for the British. At the spiritual level, the Lord had something of Israel.
Hosea 12 advises us in this way of the situation:
"Ephraim feeds on the wind,
And pursues the east wind;
He daily increases lies and desolation.
Also they make a covenant with the Assyrians,
And oil is carried to Egypt.
"The Lord also brings a charge against Judah,
And will punish Jacob according to his ways;
According to his deeds He will recompense him."
Hosea 12:7 makes that charge more particular in terms of cunning and oppression. Chapter 1 has already metaphorically expressed the basic charge, which is adultery of the nation; and since this involves understanding, we need only consult both commonsense and what is written to realise that the 'lovers' are other sources of trust, other grounds for living, other motivations to move and other gods to embrace. This is shown over Hosea 2:4--15. In the following verse we see the Lord as the husband of the nation, bringing her back to Himself, and in verse 17, the exclusion shows what was meant by the inclusion.
Thus, "I will take from her mouth the names of the Baals, and they shall be remembered by their names no more." Baals were 'lords' or recognised local deities, bound in a band of varieties from place to place, often associated with morals like those of Sodom and sometimes with sacrifice of mankind. A naturalistic basis made their religious aspects veiled in evil, misunderstanding and vice.
God then used Hosea in marrying a harlot, as a symbol for His own 'marrying' of Israel, so that the harlot's reversion to promiscuity becomes a spiritual program to show the same of Israel, mingling with alien gods of nature, instead of the Creator of the universe, and the Lord of life. The Lord then had Hosea redeem her, buy her back, symbol of His plan for the fallen people of Israel, each one sought out.
Many are the facets and features of the Lord's ways of reaching and teaching the alienated heart and mind of Israel, shown in this book of Hosea, and the matter is summed up in this regard, in Hosea 12:10, where we are shown the enduring love of God, its practical focus and its intensity:
"I have also spoken by the prophets, and have multiplied visions:
I have given parables through the witness of the prophets."
Multiplied have been the calls of mercy, to purity, to restoration; and multiple have been their dismissals! Many have been the images to explicate reality, reach imagination, alert the people. The Lord has been energetic and diversified in method, singular in message.
It is in this context that we approach the translation of Hose 13:2. The preceding verse in this matter also deserves attention, to give more contextual flavour.
First, let us consider the translation to be given, and then see the reasons.
"When Ephraim spoke, there was trembling: He exalted himself in Israel.
"Now they sin more and more,
and have made for themselves moulded images, idols of their silver,
according to their skill: all of it the work of craftsmen.
"They say of them, 'Let the sacrificers of mankind kiss the calves!' "
Keil in his Old Testament Commentary, wrought with Delitzsch also, favours with reason the translation of the first line. However his understanding of its import is different. To him the trembling results from the force, power and prestige of an uplifted Israel. It is then that his exaltation is noted.
This however would be, while not dissimilar to some of the actions of Ephraim, far from biblical ground of being exalted in Israel by DIVINE measure!
To understand this, it is first necessary to realise that Ephraim had very fertile land, and it is even used as a synonym for Israel (as distinct from the kingdom of Judah, which resulted in the division of the 10 tribes from Judah and Benjamin, after Solomon's rule, in that of Rehoboam). This is seen in Isaiah 7:2, 5, 9, 17. Samaria of course, here mentioned, was the capital of the entire northern kingdom called more often, "Israel".
Ephraim as a tribe had been itself leader enough! Judges 8:1 shows the chaffing at lacking a prominent place in a conflict; and again, the early pitching of the tabernacle was at Shiloh, in the territory of Ephraim. You see a rather rancorous seeming reaction of eminence and assurance likewise, in Judges 12:1ff..
However it is as a nation designated under this name, as a handle, that we find the usage in Hosea, the topic of which is not specialised to tribes, but to the two nations (Hosea 1:1).
You see, in fact, even an alternation between referring to the nation as 'Israel' and 'Ephraim' in this very prophecy, at Hosea 11:1-3. "When ISRAEL was a child, I loved him ... " the Lord declares.
He proceeds in a little,
"I taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by their arms;
but they did not know that I healed them. I drew them with gentle cords, with bands of love,
and I was to them as those who take the yoke from their neck. I stooped and fed them."
Here you see the real way in which Ephraim was exalted. He did it by receiving from the Exalted One, the tenderness of His service, the stoop of His grace and the lovingkindness of His compassion. At such a time, when Ephraim spoke, there was trembling. That was the nature of the relationship through which Ephraim was exalted, seen as from his genesis; and it was before the haughteur and self-willed aggrandisements and furies, flurries and worries took hold in the tender soil, like vast weeds.
Again, in Jeremiah 31, you see the Lord referring again in tender terms to Ephraim, as if this sinning segment of mankind, so dear to Him in His historic placarding to all the world of His power and His ways, and His scope for salvation amidst them, and again, Ephraim exalts himself by humbling himself, by baring his heart. For it remains true: "The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit." It is always true this, that "Blessed are the meek, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven"! (Matthew 5). God does not change, nor do His ways (Habakkuk 3:6).
Thus it is not that when Ephraim spoke, as in Hosea 13:1, OTHERS trembled, so that he exalted himself in Israel. Far from this is the case. In fact, God resists the proud (James 4:6 cf. Proverbs 3:34), but gives more grace to the lowly. Keil, whose works are usually so delightful in erudition, therefore, though presenting the Hebrew well, does not present its meaning well. The Authorised Version in this instance, however does! It is well that it is so.
Let us see moreover in Jeremiah 31:16-21, the extent to which it is the TREMBLING character of Ephraim's speech, known to God in its reality, is the strength of his placement!
"Thus says the Lord:
'Refrain your voice from weeping,
And your eyes from tears;
For your work shall be rewarded, says the Lord,
And they shall come back from the land of the enemy.
'There is hope in your future, says the Lord,
That your children shall come back to their own border.
'I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself:
"You have chastised me, and I was chastised,
Like an untrained bull;
Restore me, and I will return,
For You are the Lord my God.
Surely, after my turning, I repented;
And after I was instructed, I struck myself on the thigh;
I was ashamed, yes, even humiliated,
Because I bore the reproach of my youth."
'Is Ephraim My dear son?
Is he a pleasant child?
For though I spoke against him,
I earnestly remember him still;
Therefore My heart yearns for him;
I will surely have mercy on him, says the Lord.' "
It immediately proceeds to show Ephraim the ways of stability and godly strength, culminating in the revelation of the Messiah to come! (Jeremiah 31:21-22), that phenomenon in which the Lord is to change all things, something immediately confirmed in Jeremiah 31:31ff., with the very interstices of the New Covenant to come! (see further, Tender Times for Timely Truth Ch. 1).
Here is the strength, and it is necessary to humble oneself that one may be moved upwards in due time: it is the former, not the latter, which forms the pertinent contrast to Ephraim in former times, and the debased state in which, in the time of Hosea, he was to be found. The nation had NOT been exalted, but humbled, because the day when he spoke, and trembled, has long past.
Now he speaks amiss: indeed, in Hosea 8:3-14, we find these words concerning its debasement, its glorying where glory was not to be found!
"Israel has rejected the good;
The enemy will pursue him.
"They set up kings, but not by Me;
They made princes, but I did not acknowledge them.
From their silver and gold
They made idols for themselves—
That they might be cut off.
"Your calf is rejected, O Samaria!
My anger is aroused against them—
How long until they attain to innocence?
For from Israel is even this:
A workman made it, and it is not God;
But the calf of Samaria shall be broken to pieces.
"They sow the wind,
And reap the whirlwind.
The stalk has no bud;
It shall never produce meal.
If it should produce,
Aliens would swallow it up.
"Israel is swallowed up;
Now they are among the Gentiles
Like a vessel in which is no pleasure.
For they have gone up to Assyria,
Like a wild donkey alone by itself;
Ephraim has hired lovers.
Yes, though they have hired among the nations,
Now I will gather them;
And they shall sorrow a little,
Because of the burden of the king of princes.
"Because Ephraim has made many altars for sin,
They have become for him altars for sinning.
"I have written for him the great things of My law,
But they were considered a strange thing.
For the sacrifices of My offerings they sacrifice flesh and eat it,
But the Lord does not accept them.
"Now He will remember their iniquity and punish their sins.
They shall return to Egypt.
For Israel has forgotten his Maker,
And has built temples ... "
Thus when Ephraim spoke tremblingly, this figure of Israel, he exalted himself in his land; but now! Baal worship, most devoid of fear of the Lord, has brought him down, degraded his very nationhood to the ground, providing ground for condemnation.
The Stupendous Outrage
"Now they sin more and more,
and have made for themselves moulded images, idols of their silver,
according to their skill: all of it the work of craftsmen.
"They say of them, 'Let the sacrificers of mankind kiss the calves!' "
The rendering of the first part of this verse occasions no challenge. The theme of accelerating, rampant and ramifying sin is not uncommon, and is the 'normal and natural' prelude to disaster, to which alas, Israel in its ways found with abundance but no felicity.
Indeed, so like the current Gentile world is the Israel of that ancient day, that we find they even receive this denunciation: "Because Ephraim has made many altars to sin, they have become for him altars for sinning."
Altars for sin ? In this case, 'high places' for worshipping God in their own non-appointed way would become one way of allowing intoxication with the naturalistic fallacies and religions which surrounded them, each one according to his art, or even a city according to its wish. This is the aggregative, the synthetic field for religious reality from God, PLUS man's ways, cultures, morals, if such they may be called.
Thus in Jeremiah 2:27-30 we have these elemental charges from the Lord to His people. What have they been doing ? it has been things like these:
"Saying to a tree, ‘You are my father,’
And to a stone, ‘You gave birth to me.’
For they have turned their back to Me, and not their face.
But in the time of their trouble
They will say, ‘Arise and save us.’
"But where are your gods that you have made for yourselves?
Let them arise,
If they can save you in the time of your trouble;
For according to the number of your cities
Are your gods, O Judah.
Thus the Lord asks:
"Why will you plead with Me?
You all have transgressed against Me."
His remonstrance tingles on the air:
"In vain I have chastened your children;
They received no correction.
Your sword has devoured your prophets
Like a destroying lion."
Cities have city-gods, like local Baals, that territorial sink for sin which produces like giant weeds, the altars for abominable things, perversions and deaths, as collective infamies breed. When one protests, when a prophet speaks to correct them, from the Lord, it is as when Jehoash slew Zechariah, son of Jehoiada, who had nurtured him. And why did the king act in such heinour hauteur ? It was because of his lust for change.
They use the sword, they 'devour' the prophets like a destroying lion. It becomes like some autocratic land, like Russia, which for so long has slain so many who dared to criticise, in so many sometimes original but always insatiable ways.
This sort of movement we see in II Chronicles 24:17-22:
"Now after the death of Jehoiada the leaders of Judah came and bowed down to the king. And the king listened to them.
"Therefore they left the house of the Lord God of their fathers, and served wooden images and idols; and wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem because of their trespass.
"Yet He sent prophets to them, to bring them back to the Lord; and they testified against them, but they would not listen.
"Then the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, who stood above the people, and said to them,
'Thus says God:
"Why do you transgress the commandments of the Lord,
so that you cannot prosper?
Because you have forsaken the Lord, He also has forsaken you."
"So they conspired against him, and at the command of the king they stoned him with stones in the court of the house of the Lord. Thus Joash the king did not remember the kindness which Jehoiada his father had done to him, but killed his son; and as he died, he said, 'The Lord look on it, and repay!' "
It is in such a development, over the centuries moving like a aeroplane laden with atomic bombs, set upon yielding doors in the bomb-bay, in the midst of it, that Hosea speaks. What new thing, then, have they devised ? what fresh synthesis, laden with the weight of hell has come to afflict their people ?
'New' ? It is not necessarily a genuine novelty, but may be merely a digression from truth, an impression from the rampaging passions of murder, religiously dressed, with pagan concepts of appeasing the gods by slaughter of children, as with Moloch, or in general of mankind, which could also occur with Baal. Indeed, they even import it into scorching substitutes in high places of synthesis, where with the very name of God, they might indulge in such unprincipled works.
The Lord countered their folly with such words as these (Jeremiah 19:5):
"They have built also the high places of Baal,
to burn their sons with fire
for burnt offerings unto Baal,
which I did not commanded, nor speak it,
neither came it into My mind ... "
High places, synthetic religiosity! Murder plus sacrilege plus blasphemy plus tragic distortion of the tenderness due to the child, what an array for judgment; and if a practice, what a thrust for the overthrow of a people!
Now we revert to the translation of Hosea 13:2. We come to the last segment,
"They say of them, 'Let the sacrificers of mankind kiss the calves!' "
Kissing the calves refers to the use of a calf as a symbol for the Lord, perhaps after the style of Aaron's colossal evil, when as a leader of Israel out of the literal slavery in Egypt, by the mighty power of God, he yielded and made a golden calf, so that they could say of it, that this was had led them out of Egypt.
Since such an animal could be sacred in significance in Egypt, this was a synthesis of the things of the Lord with Egyptian power and culture, which God had overthrown, withering their false gods with a literally devastating scorn!
Therefore, when later such things as religiously devised calves were used, there was a ridiculous recidivism, a yearning for the days of slavery if followed to its end, and a mockery of the power that had saved them! How many modern nations are now doing just the same, and are the USA and even Australia coming into this field even now ?
In ancient Israel, what had been exposed as fiction and vapidity, man-religion for the heart of man, in the defeat of Pharaoh's harsh rule over the people of Israel, mere slaves, had thus been brought into the realm of the God who provides, like an imported boil. It was an affront to history, to their escape, that escapade, that miracle chapter in history, but most of all to Him who had rescued them in one of the most scintillating actions of all time, systematic, verbally explicit, wrought in food and water to provide for millions for years, involving not only escape but escapade, not merely deliverance but triumph.
To CONTINUE such practices was of course an action of systematic rebellion, concocted impudence, deliberate duress in the relationship of the people with God, like a divorcee insisting on using the signature of his wife on dud cheques, when the relationship was a mockery! Such was Samaria, with its golden calves. KISSING the calves became an expression of tenderness amidst perversity, worship amidst idolatry, spiritual promiscuity amid rebellion, adorned with sentiment, outrageous in infelicity, a holy hypocrisy.
Thus the charge is that those who deal thus with mankind, that they even SLAY them, in the field of religion, outrageous, inhuman, atrocity-makers, covenant breakers, murderers in the realm of the divine, 'SACRIFERS OF MANKIND', then come and aggravate their spiritual crimes. How do they, how can they make things worse after religiously drafted murders ? It is in this way.
Theythen make such a pseudo-sanctified folly of it, that they DARE, even dare to mix their faiths and beliefs and ways with the Lord, and at that, with Himself under the idolatrous guise of a calf, and at that, a calf which looks back to the hideous defilement of giving an Egyptian cult figure, cattle, to the work of the Lord, and at that, doing this when the Lord had just led them out of that culture, and at that, led them out of the slavery which had soiled their spirits, crushed their hearts and riddled their race with ruin.
Moreover, being so callous, they KISS the calf, as if there is to be no end to the mismatches, to the mischiefs, to the perversions and diversions which could be found, as if folly were an art form and the architecture of religion were made an innovative affront to its object, even to the Author of the human race, of 'mankind'.
What more of provocation is POSSIBLE!
This then is the result of sinning more and more, earlier in Hosea 13:2, and here is the climax to it
THEREFORE, the LORD indicates, they will become like the morning cloud and early dew - it just passes with time; and like chaff blown off, like chimney smoke (Hosea 13:3). There comes a time when calamity can be kind, and an interruption of hideous practices by blight can be the only redress to reality.
The Translation and the Application
The above translation, as we find in the Pulpit Commentary, is the kind made by Jerome, Theodoret, Cyril and many of the older Hebrews. This is scarcely surprising. However Keil on this occasion, in the Old Testament Commentary of Keil and Delitzsch, prefers to render it, that the SACRIFICERS AMONG MANKIND kissed the calves.
The Hebrew actually says, sacrificers of men, a participle, those who slay, with an object, men. This is the object of the verbal form and of the sacrifice: mankind!
The term is actually the most generic MAN (transliterated adam). Firstly, however, why should we speak of MAN, in the generic, when it is a sub-section of Israel which is involved ? What is the point of dealing with the human race when the criminal actions are of a highly specialised segment of it, engaging in select impudence against their King in the Covenant ?
When however it is realised that we are not referring to those who sacrifice among men, but those who sacrifice in the very realm of MANKIND, religious man-killers, that the topic is the horrendous and inhuman practice denounced in Psalm 106:37-38 concerning religious killing of their children, then the incredible presumption and folly of it, contrary to the very testimony of truth as in Genesis 22, requires the use of the more categorical 'adam', for mankind! This is the point. So far from being pointless, or blunting the point, it IS the point. The term used applies the principle in view roundly.
Secondly, why make it complex, when if the Lord had intended us to understand the preposition, 'among' to be inserted before 'men', He could have inspired its use when He spoke to Hosea! If we want to make ourselves clear and the means are at hand, what sort of communication fails to use them and enables a blur which most simply rendered is 'sacrificers of men', when it is meant that those who sacrifice AMONG men are in view ? This is implicitly to address negatively the expressive power of the Lord, when all His words are pure, seven times refined; and when this 'interpretation' is merely gratuitous.
Thirdly, this is a crescendo in judgment, and to refer to A GENERAL GROUP, 'sacrificers' some of whom do well, some very evilly, when the accusation is against a SPECIAL GROUP, those who do it wantonly, is strangely lacking in application. Do you charge the good and the bad, the sacrificers among men, and then deal with the kissing of the calves by them, when only some of the group first noted, are astray in sacrifice at all ? What would be the point of that ? Does the barrister refer to the women of the city, when only one has murdered! or to the women of the world when an alley incident occurs in a broken home ?
Even if he did, would he refer to the women of the world, the workers among women, when seeking to select a special case ? The very term 'workers' carries rather a special sense, and is not readily impressed for service as such, with some highly particular sin. SO too the term 'those who sacrifice among men' has to be moved into evil alignment for the charge to have pith and point, and it tends to do the exact opposite, like an harassment in the argument, instead of a help.
It is a general term, and with the normal Old Covenant background, one formally a good one. It is the act rather than the object of sacrifice which is then in view, and that whether done well or evilly, as humble obeisance or arrogant obfuscation and obtrusion.
If it be said that it is assumed that we are dealing with the evil, so be it: but do we then choose a generic term to lessen as far as may be, and to give an extenuating sense to what is specific in its wickedness ? Why ? It is counter-productive as WELL as not specifically indicated in the text, when most simply by the mere use of a short preposition, it could have been made clear. Do we INCLUDE the word 'among', because it is conceivable, when it is not there, and when what is actually there is eminently clear!
To do such appears actually to add to the word of God. It is to assume that what is not there MUST be imported when it has not been inserted, and to add to what is there with the utmost simplicity and clarity: and this, for reasons which CANNOT be simply to render what is written. It is an adventure into the superfluous, addition without warrant. We must not however add to His words, lest He rebuke us, and then ? it is possible then to be found a liar, says the proverb (Proverbs 30:6).
Thus the trend of such an addition is to add a point, as well as to lose all point. The point is the utterly atrocious and outrageous addition of sin to sin, impudent, rampaging, ruinous, with vast and soon stated result from the Lord, to meet this extravaganza of evil. Without addition, this is found in the hideous and harrowing slaughter of men in the very name of God and in the very domain of religion, with the very hypocritical addition of kissing, and at that, kissing an emblem of that very Egyptian culture from which, in devastating exhibition of its helpless deceits, He had performed the wonders of the Exodus!
It is one thing in pagan worship to enter the category of those who make animal sacrifices as a prelude to that of Christ, group one; it is quite another to become a man-slayer, man-sacrificer, or in this case particularly, to gain title to the post of child-murderer for sacrifice, group two. The term 'those who sacrifice,' with the addition of a preposition, 'among' includes both kinds, the atrocious and the ardent and ordered: as it stands, it refers only to those who by 'kissing the calf' reach a climax of ethical catastrophe, starting at z and ending at z minus!
Confronting what after all is a NATION in which group one is as frequent as the day, involving a thing ordered and part of their very life in the ways of God, with such a term as this, in order to ridicule and shame their other actions, would be like saying this: You are a people who do not steal, and yet you have pagan worship. Slippage from good things in life, many, into some one folly is so common as to be almost a proverb. What would have final impact in the charge, in that! It is adding sin to sin not slipping into sin which is the thrust of the passage, and indeed its phrasing.
Thus, it is no reference to those who sacrifice among men, with a calf-kiss as an additive, that we find here, as if this potentially lawful body is suddenly seen with one evil, or a composite body were suddenly to be seen in differential in what follows. We do not need to feed into the text such additives of ambiguity or such features of imagination. Indeed, we have then no reason for the expansion to the 'human race' (in the term selected in the text) of the already too general concept of what is either good or bad, depending on the nature and purpose of the sacrifice.
Such a muddle would only limit the application of the finale, almost as if a climax in peroration were to become a single indictment.
Who then are in view, and who are those who engage in such a multitude of emotional, spiritual and perverse sins as kissing the calf - the second feature of the charge in this sentence ? Why is it not those so tender that they offer human sacrifice! Yes, with all their religiosity, another of their exploits is this: that they slay men, and do it as part of their religion! Put in the sequence of the text: They even associate with the idolatrous worship of the Lord who perform such ethical enormities, unnatural vices, such heinous crimes.
Following then the text with fidelity and not assuming what is not there in an additive exercise - one not in principle to be considered unless there is contextual constraint for it, in this case lacking , with rather the opposite is in view: what do we find ? In this adding sin to sin depiction which the Lord has just announced in judgment, in Hosea 13:1-2, what follows in the final sentence ?
First, we find that there IS a class of sacrificers, we are not moving inchoately in the realm of the entirety, good and bad of such persons, but into the class in view. It is those who are sacrificers of the human, almost a religious oxymoron, an outrage in the very phrasing. This is something about which the Lord was and is on record as detesting, as noted above from Jeremiah. Religious sacrifice in the HUMAN RACE! It did not even come into His mind (Jeremiah 19:5-6). There is the significance of the term for man deployed: it is an outrage against the race.
Secondly, these who so act, dare to have other religious exercises at all, as if murder were inadequate for their follies. They sin more and more, like incessant waves in motion.
The waves moreover mount to the heavens.
Thirdly, when they do, in noxious contrast with the pure love of God, who sends and gives, and does not require such things from man the rebel (as so eloquently shown with Abraham who, willing to sacrifice Isaac, even if it meant the lad's arising from the dead, was shown not only not to do so, but the alternative of God, that ram caught in the thicket, a foreshadowing of Christ, caught amongst criminals), engage in religious activities, what is their way then ? What do they add to calamitous mischaracterisation of the love of God in such sacrifices ? They provide a doubly hideous caricature, contortion and distortion.
What is that ? They KISS the calves, they embrace with emotion and fealty the idolatrous, they move to a depraved naturalism, and an alien depiction, they merge with Egyptian follies and cast behind their backs the salvation of God, while yet mouthing it. Sin having human blood on its hands, having insulted God with what Psalm 49 declares systematically useless and hopeless in its presentation of the truth of redemption, must follow up neological murder by psychological excesses, adoration of heart! Here is the very shambles of ruin, irrevocable sin in a setting ready for insatiable lust. If it be not physical, then it is at least spiritual.
It is like Romanism, in this*1, that the idolatrous bread is merged with the purity of God, that the cultural use of sacred emblems is merged with what must have no image made of it, that the murder of Christ is to be sanctified by priests, who allege that they are performing what happened at Calvary, and that this is the most sacred of rites, its bread symbol becoming worthy of the uttermost in the realms of devotion, of worship.
It is no less like ecumenicity and liberalism, merging with the cultural objects of the land, while daring still to mention the name of the Lord, their spiritual fidgets and imperial prototypes emerging without ostensible sanctity, as if the mere massed multitude of men made the mercies of God in their own image, and the concurrence of phrases among rebels, made the word of God!
Is not Isaiah 8:20 as relevant as ever ? There is the word of God and that of man, and if you do not speak in accord with what He says, then there is no light in you.
You can neither makes gods nor the word of God: it is God Himself who, the I AM, refuses to have such mergers, as you see not only in the Exodus in the error of Aaron, but in Galatians 1, and II Corinthians 11, where the christs being formed were forged in the fires of human imagination, so that those making them are called false apostles. We have them today. There are many false christs, just as Christ foretold in Matthew 24:24, and many false apostles you purvey them.
Yes, this sort of combination worship could be even associated with sodomy as you see in II Kings 23:7, when the godly Josiah removed their booths from the very TEMPLE precincts. This reminds of those, whether Anglican or Uniting, who are enabling, allowing, forwarding or endorsing the use of the offices of the church by those, pastors or other, who are practising homosexuals, or engaged in biblically defined perversity. The fact that these, among many others, cannot enter the kingdom of heaven, not because sinners, but because they remain in the category of rebellion, rather than that of repentance with humility before the word, ways and witness of God: this is ignored.
But Paul does not ignore it in I Corinthians 5:11-12, 6:9-11, I Timothy 1:10.
Returning to Hosea's day, then, who are those who engage in such a multitude of evils ? Why is it not those so tender, so synthetic, so godless in contrivance and heedless in arrogance that they kiss an idol of vast historic debasement, one of the signals of ruin for Israel (Exodus 32:1-30), which caused vast deaths and suffering when it happened, and was to be followed by their catastrophic faith-failure, when they actually refused to enter the promised land! (cf. Hebrews 4:1-2, I Corinthians 10).
What we actually find then in Hosea 13:2 becomes like a chant, or possibly even an inducement: Sacrificers of men, they kiss the calves!
firstly because of the actual word of God,
not including what is suggested
and not requiring its invention or insertion of the preposition;
secondly because God could have inserted it
if the simple meaning were not intended, and did not;
thirdly because of the comparatively bathetic result if this fact is ignored;
fourthly because of the intensive procedure to climax immediately
before the announcement of divine judgment which the text as given directly provides;
fifthly because the preceding context is stressing
the adding of sin to sin in a cyclotronic sort of style which this exhibits in detail;
sixthly because this rendering is the most simple, direct and has ancient testimony
from eminent scholars among the Greeks and ancient ones of the Hebrews;
seventhly because of the use of the generic term for man, not a specific one,
when the specific is in view; but above all,
eighthly, because the translation given is not only the literal rendering
but one totally immersed in all that precedes and set
in every aspect with refined delicacy and robust force, ending in utter judgment:
for all these reasons, this is the translation given.
And what a testimony it has to multiplying religions and syntheses and sacrificial additives, not satisfied with Calvary, whether in physical or mental terms, and what a warning it brings!
Moreover, in Hosea, the book of contrasts, not least there is some verses later shown the way GOD will handle it: what is the right way (13:14). It is not in the sacrifice of mankind, that category, sinners for sin, so that alters for sin become altars for sinning as Hosea puts it. Rather as always, the Lord insists that it is HE HIMSELF, none other, in His own purity, power and plan, without aid from the afflicted, support from the condemned, but out of sheer mercy and divine love, who will pardon sin. This He will do to the uttermost, removing the ultimate results, so that both death and destruction are made away, as old accounts, by godly payment. It is HIS OWN payment that will do it (as in Romans 3:23ff., Ephesians 2:1-10 in the New Testament).
It is HIMSELF indeed who will pay, and NOTHING will turn Him from this decision, inflexible in kind, immiscible in its purity, decisive in its provision. "Pity is hidden from My eyes." That is, as in Hebrews 5:7, the extremity of cost, He will bear, though it astound the world, cover the depths and anoint the skies with light. This is the open door of Christ, given whether to closed or peering minds; and this is the call, invariant in essence and the beauty of divine power and love, the fundamentals of His own free mercy, from that day to this, yes and from the very beginning, from the protevangelion.
Such is the message in this very same chapter of Hosea, so that you get the contrast -Hosea is a book of contrasts, of virgin and prostitute, of godly marriage and promiscuity, of mercy and ingratitude, of enormous love and sinful enormity. What then is THIS contrast ? It is that -
between the depth of iniquity in those who slay mankind
(thus including children as part of the race, as for Psalm 106,
which speaks of offering them as sacrifices to idols, as of a worm infection),
and the height of divinity's desire, in the sacrifice of HIMSELF.
I WILL BE... He says, death's plagues and the grave's destruction! (Hosea 13:14). This is precisely what Christ says, as seen in Matthew 20:28, and Paul indites in Galatians 3, what is declared in Romans 3, 5, 8 as in I Corinthians 15.
That, God translated into action. That is an excellent translation!
*1 See SMR pp. 1032-1088H, esp. pp. 1086ff..
13) Isaiah 8:19
There is no other God, or way or salvation (Isaiah 45:22, 41:29-42:1, 43:10-11, 66:2, Acts 4:11-12). When God the Creator speaks, it is man who must hear, not speak! If he speaks, it is to reject or receive. Playing with words is mere fatuity.
As to God, as He is, so He speaks, not regionally, not tribally, not with favouritism, not with changing ideas, not with short cuts, not with equivocation, not with sensuous appeal or for pride and pomp: not for the actions of man, but to His own mercy, He calls. There is no other, only vacuity and noise. All competitors for man's attention are gross violations of truth, evidence, verification, validity and idols (Psalm 96:1-5).
As Isaiah puts it in 8:19ff.:
"And when they shall say to you,
'Seek to them that have familiar spirits, and to wizards that peep, and that mutter' :
should not a people seek their God? should they seek on behalf of the living to the dead?
"To the law and to the testimony:
if they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. "
Why seek for dead things where the living is required ? Is it not as in the tomb when the disciples were told by the angel,
"Why do you seek for the living among the dead ? He is not here, but is risen" (Luke 24:5-6)!
There is a derisory, a derogatory splendour in both the invitation and exhortation to seek to their God, and the negative, NOT to seek to the dead on behalf of the living.
Then this same challenge was uttered in the face of the divine incursion into history to the Cross, encapsulated in the format of man as the Christ, offering Himself as the living, before Abraham was, and the living, after death came, rising in precisely three days from the dead in a world of space-time dimensions, where these we inhabit, to these He came, and these He overcame on our own behalf!
Here then Christ came, in the most staggering wonderful act of all time, its motives singular, its performance perfect, its naturalness such as only the supernatural God could achieve in the world He made, its results its testimony. Here was the climacteric event, for which all else panted and longed, where judgment is covered, death's sting is removed and the victory of hell is quashed, by the living God for the living who seek Him and for all who find Him where He MAY be found! (Isaiah 55). .
Earlier, to Israel, it was in the same principle; here put by God into salient practice! Always the same, the Lord presents life, just as He made it in the first place, and life must seek life, even His! That is the point, not some opposite desecration of truth and witless substitute for thought.
What else ? Otherwise life would be stranded, in His image but without His presence. He however has made it easier, having come; but man is where he is, and needs to come, and seek the living in life, not in the dead prognostications of varied insulations from God, often masquerading as if they related to Him in ways other than those of rebellion!
In Christ, God was present and accessible direct. The word was divine, final, the way was as declared, immediate. It is no different now. What then does God say in the Bible, that book of verity, verification and unique validity ? He declares Himself, His salvation, His redemption, alone given from Himself, in the One sent to do it, in His Word equal with Himself, who is the Redeemer, issuing from Himself, in glorious trinitarian majesty, to redeem! (cf. Isaiah 48:16).
As the ONLY GOD is saviour and redeemer, and Christ is in Himself, Saviour and Redeemer, paying in the coin of His own life (Isaiah 53:6,8,11), He is God, who alone is and does this; so that just as the same applies to Him as Creator (cf. Isaiah 43:10-11, 53:1-12, 44:24, 45:18,21-22, 46:9-10, Colossians 1:15). He is by name, nature and standing, God.
Should not a people seek to the living ? should they then seek to the dead on behalf of the living! How ludicrous!
Creation, accordingly, prior to His incarnation, it is what that eternal Word of God wrought (cf. Proverbs 8, John 1:1, Colossians 1:15, John 1:1-3); and the Creator is God, and there is no other! The word become flesh is declared definitively as deity, just as the Lord has declared Himself in written words (Hebrews 1) for so long. He, the living, the revealing, the expressive and the expressing is to be sought, not some dead invention of flesh, some demi-god or idolatrous construction of mind, spirit or society.
This is the emphatic, dramatic, direly direct and re-iterated biblical message: there is none in heaven like God! (Psalm 89:6, Jeremiah 10:6, Isaiah 46:9). Creation, salvation, HE ALONE performs. From Him comes the earth, from Him man, from Him his salvation! God is one, and Christ is His eternal expression, in the heavens, sent to earth, accomplishing the Gospel in Himself, sending forth the Spirit from the Father (John 15-16, 17:1-3, 8:58, 5:19-23, Isaiah 48:16). That, it is God!
There, in this living One, it is there that people should seek, not to the dead! It is this living water that is to be found, not the dead and desultory dead waters of brackish philosophy and confounded culture!