Hosea – Chapter 9

Crazy Prophets

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

Israel is told not to rejoice like the other nations because they received the Torah and turned their backs on it. They prefer to be “promiscuous” with idols. Since they rebelled against G-d in times of plenty, He will take away that abundance of wine and grain. They will be exiled from their land, to Egypt and Assyria. No longer will they have the opportunity to offer sacrifices to G-d because their service is not pleasing to Him. Their sacrifices are like the bread of mourners – fit for food, but not for Divine service.

What will they do when the time of the enemy attack arrives? They will be driven away by the invaders, seeking refuge in Egypt (as we see happened in Jeremiah 43). Their storehouses of silver will be filled with thorns. It’s payback time for their sins. Even some true prophets will become madmen because of the people’s sin in following “prophets” they knew to be false. The nation of the Ten Tribes sends false prophets to speak in G-d’s Name, predicting only peace, and they would try to “trip up” the real prophets, who predicted punishment.

The people are corrupt, like they were in Gibeah. (What happened in Gibeah? Rashi mentions two things. The concubine was assaulted and murdered by a mob in Judges 19, and the people rejected G-d by asking for a king in I Samuel 15). G-d will remember the people’s sins and act upon them. G-d found the Jews like grapes in the desert (which are rare and precious there) or like a ripening fig on the tree. But even in their early days, the people strayed after the idol Baal Peor (Numbers 25).

The honor of the northern kingdom will fly away from them like a bird. They will be bereaved of their children; some will die at birth, others will miscarry, while others will not conceive at all. In any case, they will not reach adulthood. The nation enjoyed their wealth and tranquility, but what did they do with it? They offered their children to idols. Hoshea says that it is better to deprive them of children altogether.

The evil of the nation is in Gilgal. (This was the first site of the Mishkan – the Tabernacle – and it was deemed a prime location for idolatry.) G-d will drive them from the Temple, where they erected an idol. They are so rebellious that G-d is giving up on them returning to Him. They will be struck by their enemies. They will not give birth and when they do, G-d will take the children away from them. G-d rejects them for rejecting Him, so let the nations have them!

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