Haftarah for Bemidbar

Hosea 2:1-22

G-d told Hoshea that the Jews would be as numerous as the sands of the sea and instead of “not My nation,” they will be called “the children of the living G-d.” In the Messianic era, both the dispersed of Judah and the “lost” ten tribes will be gathered together in Israel under one ruler (Moshiah, the Messiah). Great will be the day of Jezreel. (In this chapter, G-d refers to the three names of Hoshea’s children, which were negative signs in the last chapter. Here, He reverses them into good things. The root of Jezreel is to sow or to plant. The idea is that the Jews will be gathered from the lands in which they had been “planted.”) Tell your brothers “ami,” “My nation” and tell your sisters “ruchama,” “mercy.” (These are the opposites of Lo-Ami and Lo-Ruchama, “not My nation” and “no mercy,” respectively.)

G-d says your “mother” is not His “wife” and He is not her “husband.” Let her remove her make-up and her lovers from between her breasts. (We have seen throughout Tanach that the marital relationship is a metaphor for the relationship between G-d and Israel, the lovers are idols and breasts are Torah. In short, G-d tells Israel to give up their idols.) If the wife in this metaphor (Israel) doesn’t do this, He will strip her bare as the day she was born and leave her to perish in the desert. (Compare this with Ezekiel chapter 16.) He will have no pity on her children because they are not His children, but the children of her affairs. She chose to go after her lovers, thinking they were the ones who provided all her needs. (Of course, they were wrong in this assumption; it was G-d.) G-d will close off her path with thorns. She will try to return to her lovers until she realizes it is futile. Eventually she will realize that she actually had it good when she was married and she will plan to return to her husband.

Because Israel refused to recognize that it was G-d providing her needs, He will take back the corn, wine and cloth He had given them, so they will have neither food nor clothes. He will expose her shame to her lovers and no man can save her. (Rashi says “no man” refers to the Forefathers – even their merits will be insufficient to save Israel from this punishment.) G-d will cut short all occasions of rejoicing – Sabbaths, festivals and New Moons. He will uproot the fruit trees that they credited idols with providing. He will punish them as He punished the idols they served. Therefore, G-d will lead her (i.e., them) into the desert, where they will contemplate things and realize how good they had it with Him. Then He will comfort them and provide them with vineyards (referring to leadership, according to Rashi, quoting the Targum Yonasan). G-d will open a “door of hope” (“Petach Tikva”) from their troubles and they will return to their more grateful days, as when they were a young nation.

The day will come when Israel once again calls G-d “my Husband” (an expression of love), rather than “my Master” (an expression of fear). The nation will no longer even mention the names of the idols they once mistakenly served. G-d will make a pact with all the creatures of the Earth, so that they will no longer be harmful, and He will end war. G-d and Israel will “renew their vows,” forever this time. They will be wed through righteousness, justice, kindness, mercy and faith, recognizing G-d.

Excerpted from The OU’s Nach Yomi