Hosea – Chapter 13

Lions, Bears and Labor Pains

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

Yeravam (Jeroboam), the first king of northern nation of the Ten Tribes, criticized Shlomo (Solomon) sincerely, for the sake of G-d. He did this with great trepidation because Shlomo was a powerful king, but because he did so, he merited a kingdom of his own. However, he soon turned to idolatry and his dynasty was cut short. The dynasty of Yehu continues to sin, making idols of their own and encouraging the worst behavior, up to and including human sacrifices. Therefore, they will be swept away like a cloud that dissipates. (The chapter uses several other similes to describe the manner in which they will evaporate.)

G-d took the Jews out of Egypt. He is the only One they should know; no one can save them but Him. He took care of them in the wilderness and satisfied their needs when they entered the land. But when they became satisfied, they also became full of themselves and forgot G-d. Because they forgot Him, He will let them fall into their enemies’ hands. G-d will meet the nation like a bear or a lion; they will be destroyed. The people rejected G-d and requested a human king; where is that king now? Let him save them from their enemies! G-d gave them the king in the first place (even though He was displeased with the request) and now, in His anger, He is taking away the king.

The sins of the nation are before G-d and He will punish them with troubles as sharp as labor pains. If they were wise, they would quickly return to G-d rather than remain in their sins. G-d is the only One Who could save them from death but now He is the One Who will bring these tragedies upon them. He will not regret His actions. The wind (referring to the invading army) will come up from the east; they will plunder the nation.

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