January 25, 2012

Hosea 4

Hear the word of the Lord, oh people of Israel;
for the Lord has a controversy
with the inhabitants of the land.

There is no faithfulness or kindness,
and no knowledge of God in the land;
there is swearing, lying, killing,
stealing and committing adultery;
they break all bounds
and murder follows murder.

Therefore the land mourns
and all who dwell in it languish,
and also the beasts of the field
and the birds of the air;
even the fish of the sea
are taken away.

Yet no one contend
and let none accuse,
for with you is my contention, oh priest!

You shall stumble by day;
the prophet also shall stumble with you by night;
and I will destroy your mother.

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.
Because you have rejected knowledge,
I reject you from being a priest to me.

And since you have forgotten
the law of your God
I also will forget your children.

The more they increased, the more they sinned against me;
I will change their glory into shame.

They feed on the sins of my people;
they are greedy for their iniquity;
and it shall be: Like people, like priest.

I will punish them for their ways
and requite them for their deeds.
They shall eat, but not be satisfied;
they shall play the harlot, but not multiply
because they have forsaken the Lord
to cherish harlotry.

Wine and new wine
take away the understanding.
My people inquire of a thing of wood,
and their staff gives them oracles,
for a spirit of harlotry has led them astray
and they have left their God to play the harlot.

They sacrifice on the tops of the mountains
and make offerings upon the hills,
under oak, poplar, and terebinth,
because their shade is good.

Therefore your daughters play the harlot
and your brides commit adultery.
I will not punish your daughters
when they play the harlot,
nor your brides
when they commit adultery

for the men themselves go aside with harlots
and sacrifice with cult prostitutes;
and a people without understanding
shall come to ruin.

Though you play the harlot, oh Israel,
let not Judah become guilty.
Enter not into Gilgal,
nor go up to Bethel,
and swear not, "As the Lord lives."

Like a stubborn heifer,
Israel is stubborn;
can the Lord now feed them
like a lamb in a broad pasture?

Ephraim is joined to idols;
let him alone.
A band of drunkards, they give themselves to harlotry;
they love shame more than their glory.
A wind has wrapped them in its wings;
and they shall be ashamed because of their altars.

2 Comments:

At 8:42 PM, Blogger Random Arrow said...

A bit of a problem for me catching up on work. I’ve missed reading here.

Thanks for the comments on Luke - “sell all.”

I’m thinking that the murder upon murder and harlotry comments here in Hosea are literal descriptions of observations. And are analogy and metaphor for the murders of inward Life and the harlotry of pursuing external things. Hosea here nods to a condition of increased numbers and wealth – whatever else his knowledge of census might be across the generations. Like Amos on “fat cows.”

From prosperity to Prospero –

“Let me not,
Since I have my dukedom got
And pardon'd the deceiver, dwell
In this bare island by your spell;
...
Now I want
Spirits to enforce, art to enchant,
And my ending is despair,
Unless I be relieved by prayer,
Which pierces so that it assaults
Mercy itself and frees all faults.
As you from crimes would pardon'd be,
Let your indulgence set me free.”

This epilogue works in The Tempest because the chief antagonists recanted their treacheries and renounced and restored their unjust gains taken in subverting Prospero. Julie Taymor’s film interpretation (2010) adds some feminist features to the plot by changing Prospero into Prospera (Helen Mirren) wielding arcana and alchemical effects to catalyze the recantations and to culminate in forgiveness. With some hilarity in the magic of “art to enchant.” Reminiscent of the curses uttered by Amos and Hosea. Curses toward hopeful ends.

I’m personally having a bit of a difficult time following Prospero/Prospera in dealing forgiveness to a brood of local preachers who played the harlot to the so-called ‘prosperity gospel’ (“pay tithe – and God will owe you financial success”) with teachings that helped contribute to an increase in bankruptcies for poor and gullible, and mostly Pentecostal folk who in greed mortgaged themselves into oblivion for homes and toys. There’s a sociologist at Duke now bathing in research money to study this – though I don’t expect her findings to be as direct nor helpful as Hosea’s Prospero rage.

 
At 10:07 PM, Blogger forrest said...

Well, a few other things... "Enter not into Gilgal" is a reference to Saul, to the place where the people of Israel came to Samuel and asked for a king.

So this could be an unfavorable comment on monarchy itself.

Or, specifically, to the monarchy of the northern kingdom, Israel aka "Ephraim" -- Judah's Davidic monarchy being possibly okay, to Hosea's mind... (?)

But when he talks about ~ 'Let's not see Judah fall into this condition'

He seems to be emphasizing the prevalence of little local churches. He, or his Deuteronomicist editor, possibly both-- is really down on anybody putting up an unauthorized sacred barbecue. Why? Too many local shrines means that the power, and the revenue, of the Jerusalem Temple cult, are lessened.

Is this such a bad thing? Is it only about a priestly faction's secular power?-- or did it in fact weaken their power to restrain the populace and their rulers from unethical conduct & abuses of power?

 

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