The Rest of The Story -

God’s Messengers and
The Beginning of the End

Hosea 1:1-9, Hosea speaks to specific kings.
2 Kings 9:1-17, 20-27, 30-13, Jezreel
2 Kings 10:1-14, 18-19, 24-31, Jehu’s Excesses
Hosea 4:1-3, 12-19, Idolatry in Israel
Hosea 3:1-5, 2:14-23, Unfaithfulness and Love

More of The Rest of the Story

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Hosea 1:1-9, Hosea speaks to specific kings. (1/7/13)

In the Jewish and Christian Bible, it can be difficult to understand what’s going on between God’s prophets and the kings of Israel and Judah. The books of 1 Samuel through 2 Kings cover this historical period in chronological order, more-or-less from a political point of view. Then 1 and 2 Chronicles cover the same historical period, also in chronological order, more-or-less from the point of view of the religious establishment. Several other books intervene, including some history and books like Psalms and Proverbs, and then you come to the books of the prophets, who cover the same historical period again, from God’s point of view. To make matters worse, the books of the prophets are not arranged in chronological order, often not even within a single book.

Another problem with reading about the kings and prophets is that it can be really, really confusing. There are kings of Judah, kings of Israel, and kings of Israel (yes – two different Israels! the united kingdom and the northern kingdom). There are two kings named Jeroboam. There are two kings named Jehoash, and just for good measure, both are also called Joash. There are two Ahaziahs and two Jehoahazes. There's a king Jehu and a prophet Jehu. All the names look alike AND they are unpronounceable! (Unless, of course, you grew up on a Bible that had all the names marked for pronunciation, as I did. Believe me, people are really impressed if you can read that stuff out loud in Sunday School.)

As we resume “The Rest of The Story,” we’re going to look at three case studies in enough detail that we can learn to recognize the problem of who each prophet was preaching to and how to get hints at the solution. Of course, sometimes even scholars don’t know the solution; no system is perfect.

Hosea was one of the early prophets, and in Hosea 1:1 he tells us exactly when he preached: when Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah were the kings of Judah, and when Jeroboam son of Jehoash was king of Israel. Hosea has three children, named Jezreel (the site of Jehu’s murders); Lo-Ruhamah (Not-Pitied or Not-Loved); and Lo-Ammi (Not-My-People). Who are these kings, why did they merit a prophet, and why did Hosea give his children such inauspicious names? Tune in tomorrow.

2 Kings 9:1-17, 20-27, 30-13, Jezreel (1/8/13)

In order to see why Hosea named his first child “Jezreel,” we have to looks at 2 King 9 and 10. Unless you have a photographic memory, in which case you just turn to the right page in your Bible, there are various ways to figure this out:
Option 1 is far preferable, so if you have been in this email Bible study for this long without getting a study edition of a translation that is new to you, this would be a good week to fix that. Or download a regular Bible from e-sword, which will allow you to search for Jezreel electronically. Of course, you’ll also get some extraneous stuff, because other events took place at Jezreel over the course of the centuries.

When we finally get to 2 Kings 9, we find that a soldier named Jehu is anointed to be the new king over Israel, with the commission to kill “every man and boy” in the family of King Ahab, whose grandson Joram or Jehoram is currently on the throne. Jehu kills not only Joram, but also Joram’s cousin, King Ahaziah of Judah, and Joram’s mother, the dowager Queen Jezebel. Jehu is the great-grandfather of Hosea’s contemporary, King Jeroboam of Israel.

This passage is also the origin of the expression, “drives like Jehu,” which means recklessly and too fast. Don’t say you never learn anything useful in this study.

2 Kings 10:1-14, 18-19, 24-31, Jehu’s Excesses (1/9/13)

You’ve no doubt heard of “plausible deniability.” The Hebrew word rosh means head. Exactly as in English, head can mean either “the item on top of your neck” or “the leader of a group.” At least one commentary suggests that Jehu might have used this ambiguity in giving his directions, and that he wasn’t really as surprised to get body parts as he makes out.

Jehu’s commission was to wipe out the men and boys in the family of King Ahab of Israel. Yesterday we saw that he also killed the king of Judah and the queen mother of Israel. Today we see that he went on to kill 42 relatives of the king of Judah; a number of other relatives, friends, officials, and priests of Ahab; and a large number of the priests of Baal.

I used to have a boss who, when leading a meeting with lots of ideas and little agreement, would summarize by saying, “There’s a lot of energy around” whichever idea seemed to be the most popular or feasible. Then he’d appoint a subcommittee to think some more about the problem. There isn’t much agreement about why Jezreel was such a problem that Hosea was told to name his first child after it, especially considering 1 Kings 10:30. Nevertheless, there is “energy” around the idea that Jehu greatly exceed his authority in killing King Ahaziah of Judah and his relatives, not to mention the leading men, priests, etc., of Israel. Jehu’s dynasty lasted only four generations.

Hosea 4:1-3, 12-19, Idolatry in Israel (1/10/13)

As the founder goes, so goes the dynasty. Jehu founded his dynasty in bloodshed, and now Hosea laments to Jehu’s great-grandson Jeroboam that “violence is everywhere.”

That’s not what God and Hosea are most concerned about, however. Remember that God told Hosea to marry a prostitute? Today we see why. Israel is steeped in idolatry, which throughout the Old Testament is figuratively considered to be prostitution against Israel’s rightful husband, God. The Canaanite religions were in large part fertility religions, and literal cult prostitution was a major form of worship. God argues, reasonably enough, that he has no reason to punish the women for unfaithfulness to their husbands, when they are merely following the example of their husbands’ unfaithfulness to God.

Hosea 3:1-5, 2:14-23, Unfaithfulness and Love (1/11/13)

Anyone who says that the God shows more love in the New Testament than in the Old Testament has never read the book of Hosea. I tell you, folks, the parable of God’s love for Israel that is told in the story of Hosea’s love for Gomer brings tears to my eyes whenever I read it. Gomer left him, but he didn’t just take her back, he bought her back. That’s how God loves us.

More of The Rest of the Story
Week 1. Beginning of Life As We Know It
Week 1. More on the Beginning of Life As We Know It
Week 2. God Builds a Nation – Abraham … But Not Lot
Week 2. God Builds a Nation – Isaac…But not Ishmael or the sons of Keturah
Week 2. God Builds a Nation – Jacob…But not Esau
Week 3. Joseph Preserves Two Nations
Week 4. Deliverance
Week 4. More on Deliverance
Week 5. New Commands and a New Covenant
Week 6. Wandering
Week 6. More on the Wandering
Week 7. The Battle Begins
Week 8. A Few Good Men...and Women
Week 9. The Faith of a Foreign Woman
Week 10. Standing Tall, Falling Hard
Week 11. From Shepherd to King
Week 12. The Trials of a King
Week 13. The King Who Had It All
Week 14. A Kingdom Torn in Two
Weeks 15 and 16. God's Messengers and The Beginning of the End
Week 17. The Kingdoms' Fall
Jeremiah, Prophet of the Exile
Story 19. The Return Home
Apocalyptic writings in the Old Testament
Story 21. Rebuilding the Walls
Story 22. The Birth of the King
Story 23. Jesus’ Ministry Begins
Story 24. No Ordinary Man
Story 25. Jesus, the Son of God
Story 26. The Hour of Darkness
Story 27. The Resurrection
Story 28. New Beginnings
James, Brother of the Lord
John and Jude
Story 31. The End of Time

Copyright 2013 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved. This page has been prepared for the web site by RPB.

Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the Bible-study participants.  Thanks to the Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers for their support and enthusiasm.  All errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.

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