The same fire that warms the righteous consumes the wicked.
As is the case with all of Hebrew Scripture, there are no chapter breaks in the scroll of the 12 Prophets in which Hosea is located. It’s important to see the text of this chapter as a continuation of the previous chapter:
“Ephraim has provoked bitter anger; and his blood will be left upon him, and his scorn Adonai will return to him.”
1 When Efrayim (doubly fruitful) spoke, reteit trembling. He nasa hu lifted himself up beYisrael in Israel, vayesham and incurred guilt baBa’al in Baal (master, lord, husband, Canaanite fertility deity) vayamot and died.
“When Ephraim spoke, trembling.” This is most likely an allusion to Jeroboam trembling before Solomon in whose court he had served prior to his rebellion and the setting up of the northern kingdom (1 Kings 11:26).
The text speaks of Ephraim (the kings of northern Israel) who exalted himself (pride) in Israel (the 10 northern tribes), in the past tense saying that he has already died as a result of his guilt in worshipping the Canaanite fertility deity Ba’al. In other words, the end of the northern kingship was predetermined by the idolatrous actions of her first king (1 Kings 12:25-33) and the subsequent actions of Ahab, who sinned in worship of Ba’al under the influence of Jezebel (1 Kings 16:31).
With regard to the pride that caused Jeroboam to engage Ba’al Rashi says:
“As soon as he assumed greatness and became guilty with Baal.”
“‘he died’ i.e., Jeroboam’s dynasty was terminated, and so was Ahab’s dynasty. Jonathan renders: When one of the house of Ephraim would speak, fear would seize the nations. They were great among Israel, but when they sinned by worshipping idols, they were slain.” -Rashi
There is strong textual evidence supporting an intrinsic link between the calf deities of Jeroboam, the calf of Sinai and the Ba’aliym (Canaanite deities). Therefore, it is inconsistent to make the claim that the tribes of the north considered the calves to be representations of YHVH. They clearly linked the calves to the false Canaanite deities the Ba’aliym. The fact that there were two calves (1 Kings 12:29) supports this polytheistic understanding, and blatantly contradicts a monotheistic Deity. Both the leaders of Israel (Sinai) [Exodus 32:4] and Jeroboam I [1 Kings 12:28] had appropriated the actions of YHVH and attributed them to other gods (calf deity of Egypt, calf deity representing Baal).
The text teaches us that humble position does not necessarily denote a godly outcome. It is true that the Scripture says “humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up” (Yaakov 4:10; 1 Peter 5:6), however, although Jeroboam was in a humble position before the Lord he had not humbled himself but had been appointed as servant to Solomon (1 Kings 11:26). Additionally Jeroboam lifted himself up (God allowed his kingship in response to Solomon’s disobedience, He did not appoint Jeroboam). His belief in his own strength over that of the Lord’s (in spite of the fact that the prophet Ahijah [1 Kings 11:26-39] had informed him that it was YHVH Who was allowing him to have dominion over the 10 northern tribes) resulted in idolatry.
Note: In this verse “Israel” is used of the 10 tribes and not all of Israel (as some foolish commentators suggest). We know this because the kings of the north beginning with Jeroboam I lifted themselves up over the 10 tribes of the north only. The sin of the southern kingdom under Solomon was the worship of Ashtoret, Molek and Chemosh (1 Kings 11:4-8) and not the worship of Ba’al (who is not mentioned in the indictment against Solomon), as is the case concerning the indictment of Israel in the present verse. Therefore, the resulting death is that of the northern kingship and the exile of the northern tribes, and not, as some erroneously suggest, the death of all Israel (all 12 tribes).
2 And now yosifu they increase lachato their sin (miss the mark of God’s glory), vayasu and they have made lahem for them maseichah cast metal icons, mikasoam from silver, kitvunam skilfully made atzabiym idols ma’aseih charashiym kuloh lahem all from the work of an engraver, to them. Heim They omeriym say zovecheiy adam “sacrifice a man (human sacrifice) agaliym yishakun kiss the calves [alt. they say ‘a man sacrifices to calves he kisses!’]”
This is a description of human sacrifices offered to man-made cast metal and silver plated idols. “They increase their sin” is an allusion to the fact that idolatry diversified and increased under the reign of Ahab and was maintained under the reigns of the pursuant kings of the north. In short the calf idol worship was merely the beginning.
The silver mentioned tells us that idols other than the calves of Bethel and Dan (made of gold ref. 1 Kings 12:28) were being made.
Sadly, human sacrifice to false gods was not alien to Israel (2 Kings 17:17; 23:10; Eze. 20:26; Mic. 6:7).
“Kiss the calves” This is an allusion to worship of the two calf deities of Bethel and Dan. A “kiss” is a symbolic act of intimacy, homage, submission (Psalms 2:12; 1 Kings 19:18).
“Those who sacrifice man may kiss the calves The priests of Molech say to Israel, “Whoever sacrifices his son to the idol is worthy of kissing the calf” for he has offered him a precious gift. So did our Sages explain this in Sanhedrin (63b), and it fits the wording of the verse better than Jonathan’s translation.” -Rashi
“Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.” -1 Kings 19:18 NIV
3 Lachein Therefore, yihu they have become ka’anan-boker like a morning cloud vechatal and like night mist (dew) mashkiym holeich and leave early, kemotz like chaff yesoeir driven by the storm winds migoren from the threshing floor, ucheashan and like smoke meiarubah from a chimney.
Each of the examples given here are short lived, they appear and are gone soon after. The inference is that the northern kingdom and its kingship, will, historically speaking, be brief.
4 Ve’Anochiy And I Am YHVH the Lord Eloheycha your God/Judge, meieretz mitzrayim from the land of Egypt (double distress); veilohiym zulatiy lo and no gods but Me teida did you know umoshiya nor any other saviour.
YHVH reminds Ephraim (northern tribes) that He is her God and Judge, and has been from before she existed as a people. He has been with Israel from her bondage in Egypt and is the One Who delivered her from her captivity.
“no gods but Me” is in response to the false claim of Jeroboam I, who pointed out the calf idols and said “Behold your gods, Israel, that brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” (1 Kings 12:28).
5 Aniy I yedatiycha yes I knew you bamidbar in the desert be’eretz taluvot in the land of drought.
YHVH was present, in the cloud of the presence, in provision of quail and manna, in provision of water, leading Israel through her desert journey, and continuing to do so even after she had rebelled against Him (Numbers 13 & 14).
6 Kemariytam Because of their pasture, vayisbau they became full, shaveu they were satisfied [alt. they became fully filled], vayarom and exalted with pride libam in their inner being (heart); al-kein shecheichuniy Therefore they’ve forgotten Me.
Due to God’s provision and care Israel became comfortable, full, “well grazed”. Rather than give glory to God for their comfort as their forefather Abraham had done, Israel instead turned to other gods and appropriated God’s gifts naming them as evidence of the provision of false gods.
7 Vaehiy And I will become lahem to them kemo like shachal a lion; kenamer like a leopard I al-derech I will lie in wait in the way, ashur observing.
YHVH previously depicted as the Shepherd of Israel (4:16) is now seen as a Lion Who, like a leopard, a bear, and other predatory wild animals, attacks the sheep and rips them apart (cf. Jeremiah 5:6).
God is pictured figuratively as a Lion throughout Hebrew Scripture. YHVH as Lion is both a terrifying and comforting use of imagery. When Israel sins He comes as a Lion of discipline (Hosea 13:7-8), and when Israel repents He comes as a Lion of fierce protection and comfort (Hosea 11:10-11).
“A lion has roared! Who will not fear?
The Lord God has spoken! Who can do anything but prophesy?” -Amos 3:8 NASB
“I yes, I will lie in wait in the way, (Ashur) observing.” The Lord will not only attack in discipline, He will lie in wait even as Israel is taken into exile. The Hebrew “ashur” observe is identical in spelling to the proper noun of the Empire. Thus, HaShem will ashur (observe) them on the way to Ashur.
“by the way I will lurk Heb. אָשּׁוּר. Every instance of אָשּׁוּר in Scripture is punctuated with a “dagesh,” but this one is “weak,” since it is not a place name but it means, “I will lurk and ambush.” Comp. (Num. 24:17) “I see him (אֲשּׁוּרֶנוּ) but not near.” -Rashi
Both the king of Assyria and Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon are referred to as lions scattering the sheep of Israel:
“Israel is a scattered [a]flock, the lions have driven them away. The first one who devoured him was the king of Assyria, and this last one who has gnawed his bones is Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon.” -Jeremiah 50:17 NASB
8 Efgesheim I will encounter them kidov like a bear shakul bereaved of her cubs, ve’ekra and tear open segor the enclosure libam of their inner being (hearts); veocheleim I will eat them sham there kelaviy like a lioness, chayat hasadeh a beast of the land tevake’eim that tears them to pieces.
The imagery of the bear is ambiguous. HaShem comes as a bear bereaved of her cubs. Israel are His cubs, and at the same time are the abductors of His cubs (leading their own children astray) [cf. 2 Sam. 17:8; 2 Kings 2:24; Pr. 17:12].
Rashi rightly observes that HaShem is bereaved in the loss of His children the people of Israel and in the need for the disciplining of them.
“as a bereaving bear Heb. שַׁכּוּל. Like שּׁוֹכֵל, as you say חָנּוּן, gracious, and רַחוּם, merciful, so שַּׁכּוּל, i.e., entirely attired with bereavements and ready to bereave people.” -Rashi
“tear open the enclosure of their inner being (hearts)” This denotes the “heart surgery” that will be required in order to fix Israel’s disobedient heart of stone and make it a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 11:19). The heart is the core being and the centre of consciousness. Note that the Hebrew libam (hearts) is plural and that the text says “their”. Therefore the present text denotes God’s intention to open and convert the heart of rebellion at the centre of His people.
“And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh,” -Ezekiel 11:19 NASB
The Targum Yonatan supports this understanding:
“My word shall meet them as a bear bereaved, and I will break the wickedness of their hearts…'' -Targum Yonatan
9 Shichetcha It is to your own destruction, Yisrael (overcome in God) Israel, kiy-viy ve’ezrecha that you are against Me, against your help.
God would help Israel, but she has turned her back on Him. The northern kingdom will suffer the consequences of their own sin and therefore, “your own destruction”. The destruction that is coming is a direct consequence of Israel’s poor political decisions and abhorrent worship practices (sacrificing children to false gods). Israel has weakened herself. God will simply pull back His hand of protection and Israel’s discipline will be the fruit of her actions. As I have previously stated, sin, among other things, is self-harm.
Now, as always, our help is in YHVH, and not of our own strength.
10 Ehiy Where is malkecha your king, eifo where? Veyoshiyacha And who will save you bechol-areycha in all your cities? Veshofeteycha And your judges/rulers, asher to whom amarta you said, “tenah-liy melech Give me a king vesariym and princes”?
“Where is your king?” This can be understood as a rhetorical question relating to the withdrawing of YHVH’s (King of Israel) hand. It may refer to the death of Israel’s (the northern kingdom) last king. The former is the most likely given the follow up question “And who will save you?” In short, “Without Me (YHVH) Who will save you?”
And where are “your judges?” God is Israel’s Judge. Israel had asked both God and her human judges and rulers for a king like the other nations (1 Sam. 8:5, 20), however, here the text is referring to the request of the northern tribes for a king other than the king of Judah (1 Kings 12:26).
“I will be, where is your king? Heb. אֱהִי מַלְכְּךָ אֵפוֹא. Jonathan renders: Where is your king? But I say that it is unnecessary to interpret it other than its apparent meaning. I will be standing from afar to see where your king is, for I will make Myself see what your end will be, where your saviour is.” -Rashi
11 Eten-lecha I gave you melekh a king beapiy while My nostrils flared (fierce anger), ve’ekach and snatched him away be’evratiy in the excess of My wrath.
The monarchy of the northern kingdom is considered apostate and rebellious by God Who had allowed it in His anger against Solomon’s sin but did not appoint its kings (1 Kings 12:16). Additionally the first king of all 12 tribes of Israel was given as a response to rebellion against God and that same king Saul likewise rebelled and was taken away by God (killed by the Philistines) [1 Sam. 8:7].
12 Tzarur Bound up avon is the perversity of Efrayim; tzefunah chatato His hidden sin (missing the mark of God’s glory).
The sin of Ephraim is more than a simple missing of the mark, it is intentional and perpetual perversity. It is bound up, kept for a time of punishment. Additionally, the depravity of Ephraim has bound him up. Perversity binds the one who practices it. It comes back upon the sinner. The fornicator contracts a deadly sexually transmitted disease, the murderer is killed by the relative of his victim, the liar tells so many lies that when he speaks the truth he is not believed to his hurt and so on.
"the sins of the house of Ephraim are treasured up; they are reserved to punish all their offences;'' -Targum Yonatan
"the sins of the house of Ephraim are treasured up; they are reserved to punish all their offences;'' -Job 14:17 NASB
13 Chevleiy The (umbilical) cord yoledah of childbirth yavou will wrap (come) around (on) lo him; hu-vein lo chacham He is not a wise son (brain oxygen starved at birth), kiy for eit-lo ya’amod it is not the time to remain, bemishbar in the breaking forth baniym of children [alt. the time for hesitation is not at the moment of birth].
First and foremost this is an analogy concerning new birth. Israel has been offered numerous opportunities to repent and be delivered into a new season of favour in right standing with God, but has instead resisted to her own hurt.
The analogy speaks of a child who knows that it’s time to break forth from the womb but instead twists itself into a breech position and in doing so strangles itself on its own umbilical cord, starving itself of oxygen and impairing its cognitive development. In these circumstances the father of ancient Israel must come and forcibly move the baby into birthing position or cut open the mother performing a C-section delivery. In both cases there is great suffering as a consequence but the baby’s life is saved.
Therefore, YHVH is explaining to His wayward people that they have placed themselves in a position where they are unable to see the predicament they have put themselves in, nor are they able to deliver themselves.
"distress and trouble shall come upon them, as pains on a woman with child; he is not wise to know my fear:'' -Targum Yonatan
14 Miyad From the hand of sheol (the place of the departed) efdeim shall I ransom them? Mimavet From death egaleim I will redeem them! Ehiy Where are they? Devareycha Your plagues mavet Death, Ehiy Where are they? katavecha Of your destruction Sheol (the place of the departed), nocham repent! Yisateir It shall be concealed (covered) from mei’eiynay My eyes.
“From the hand of sheol (the place of the departed) shall I ransom them?” The question is rhetorical, the answer is “Of course yes, I will ransom them!”, in fact the answer is given in the proceeding phrase.
Note: Sheol is NOT the grave (kever). Sheol is the holding place of the departed. Nor are Biblical Israelites (Jews) buried under the earth. Therefore, kever (grave) in Biblical Hebrew means an above ground interment in either a tomb or by piling large rocks over the body above ground. Numerous false theologies regarding death and the afterlife can be avoided by this one simple piece of basic Hebrew understanding.
“From death I will redeem them!” This is a promise, the answer to the previous question. YHVH will redeem Israel from death, not natural death (although He has often delivered Israel this way) but from eternal death. We know that at the time of Israel’s exile to Assyria many died, therefore, HaShem is not alluding to the temporal death of the body but to the eternal death of the soul/spirit, the neshama (transcendent consciousness). Hosea is prophesying the redemption that comes through Yeshua the King Messiah, through His atoning/covering blood and His resurrection living. The fullness of this promise culminating in the salvation of all the remnant of Israel (Romans 11:25-27).
“Where are they? Your plagues Death, Where are they? Of your destruction Sheol (the place of the departed), repent! It shall be concealed (covered) from My eyes.”
How does God conceal death? By covering it. Kippur, to cover, atone for. The beginning of the verse explains that the concealing of death will come about through “ransom” and “redemption”. Therefore, the covering and concealment of death from the eyes of HaShem will be made possible through vicarious sacrifice, a kaparah (atonement, sacrifice, reconciliation) that puts death to death permanently. Those who have met Yeshua the King Messiah know that He performed that atoning sacrifice by giving His sinless body into the hands of God and died on the Roman cross, rising again on the third day according to Scripture and thus offering redemption through the ransom He paid, perpetually to the Jew first, and also to the nations in perpetuity unto the judgement and life everlasting (Romans 1:16).
It is this verse that Rav Shaul is quoting in 1 Corinthians 15:55:
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?” (NIV)
“I am He Who would ransom them from the clutches of the grave and redeem them from death…” -Rashi
15 Kiy For hu he bein among achiym brothers and sisters yafriy is fruitful, yavo kadiym ruach an east wind will come, YHVH (Mercy) The Lord mimidbar from the wilderness oleh comes up; ve’yeivosh mekoro and his fountain will become dry veyecherav and dried up ma’yano his spring; hu yishseh he will plunder otzar the treasure kol-keliy chemdah of all the precious vessels.
“For he among brothers and sisters is fruitful” This refers to Ephraim and is the literal meaning of his name. Ephraim was prophesied to be fruitful (Gen. 48:10-20), and became a powerful tribe (Judges 8:1-3; 12:1-7; 1 Sam. 1:1-4). Prominent leaders such as Joshua (Josh. 24:30) and Jeroboam (1 Kings 11:26) came from Ephraim and the tribe was subsequently named for the 10 tribes of the north.
“An east wind will come” This refers specifically to the wind of the Assyrian empire wielded by God as a sword of discipline (Hosea 5:13, 7:11, 8:9; 2 Kings 17:3).
The Targum supports this understanding:
"now will I bring against him a king strong as a burning wind;''-Targum Yonatan
The king of Babylon is also referred to as a violent wind in Jeremiah 4:11.
The “east wind” is used as a metaphor for false knowledge (Job 15:2), imminent onslaught (Isaiah 27:21), a scattering force (Jeremiah 18:17), it is a wind of discipline wielded by YHVH for the purpose of returning His people to Himself.
“The Lord from the wilderness comes up;” The Lord is in control of all that is about to happen, He is wielding the winds of Assyria and Babylon.
"by the word of the Lord, through the way of the wilderness shall he come up;'' -Targum Yonatan
“And his fountain will become dry and dried up his spring” This is a metaphor for the drying up of Israel’s access to the living waters of YHVH poured out on the faithful among His people.
The LORD is the fountain of Israel, who have access to His waters through repentance and return.
“Lord, the hope of Israel, All who abandon You will be put to shame. Those who turn away on earth will be written down, Because they have forsaken the fountain of living water, that is the Lord.” -Jeremiah 17:13 NASB
It is also a metaphor denoting the reduction of progeny over the period of exile (cf. Deut. 33:28). Israel (the sons of Jacob) are called the “fountain of Jacob” in Scripture (Psalms 68:26).
The fear of the Lord is also called a fountain (Prov. 14:27). Therefore, this is an indication that Israel’s fear of God has dried up and resulted in Israel’s discipline.
“He will plunder the treasure of all the precious vessels.” This does not concern the vessels of the Temple which were taken away over 100 years later by Nebuchadnezzar (2 Chronicles 36:7). Rather it refers to vessels associated with the worship of false gods, removed by the Assyrians when they invaded the northern territories of Israel.
“he shall destroy the house of his treasures, and shall lay waste the city of his kingdom; he shall spoil the treasuries, all vessels of desire.'' -Targum Yonatan
16 [14:1] Tesham Shomeron (guardian mountain) Samaria will pay for her guilt (offense), kiy Because maretah she rebelled beiloheyah against her God. Bacherev In the sword yipolu they will fall oleleiyhem their infants yerutashu dashed to pieces vehariyotayv and their pregnant women yevukau will be ripped apart.
Samaria was the head/capital of Ephraim (Isaiah 7:9) which was besieged for three years by Shalmaneser king of Assyria (the east wind); and eventually conquered and its inhabitants taken into exile (2 Kings 17:5) [Assyria invaded in 734 BCE then conquered and exiled its residents between 722 and 721 BCE]. Samaria was a hot bed of idolatry and vile sacrificial practices to false deities, a beacon of pagan worship. God would give a foreign idolater the strength to topple it and destroy its altars. Samaria’s guilt would come upon her own head because she rebelled against her God to her own harm.
1  Shuvah Return, Yisrael, ad to YHVH the Lord Eloheycha your God/Judge, kiy for chashalta you have stumbled ba’avonecha in your depravity.
"return to the fear of the Lord.'' -Targum Yonatan
“to the Lord your God One taught in the name of Rabbi Meir: Return, O Israel, while He is still יהוה, with the Divine Attribute of Mercy; otherwise, He is אֶלֹהֶיךָ with the Divine Attribute of Justice, before the defense becomes the prosecution. [from Pesikta d’Rav Kahana, p. 164a]” -Rashi
YHVH continues to offer a hand of mercy and calls Israel to return to Him and turn away from her depravity. The rhythm of Mercy, judgement and the fruit of judgement Mercy, continues just as it does in the words of Hosea’s contemporaries (Isaiah, Amos, Micah).
"great is repentance, for it brings a man to the throne of glory;'' -Talmud Bavliy Yoma, fol. 86. 1.
Rashi understands this as a warning to the southern kingdom of Judah (& Benjamin):
“Return, O Israel You, who are in the land of Judah, lest what happens to Samaria happens to you. Therefore, the topics are juxtaposed. This can be compared to a king against whom a province rebelled. The king sent a general and commanded him to destroy it. That general was expert and deliberate. He said to them, “Take for yourselves days (sic); otherwise, I will do to you as I have done to such-and-such a province and to its allies, and to such-and-such a prefecture and to its allies.” Therefore it says, “Samaria shall be accounted guilty,” and then Scripture says: “Return, O Israel.” As is found in Sifrei in the section commencing. (Num. 25:1), “And Israel abode in Shittim.” -Rashi
2  Kechu Take imachem with you devariym words, essences, things veshuvu and return el-YHVH to the Lord. Imru Say to Him, “Eilayv away kol-tisa avon take all depravity away vekach-tov and receive good uneshalemah and a covenant of peace, wholeness, wellbeing pariym sefateiynu fruit [calves] of our lips.
The text uses “devariym” (words, essence, things) rather than ketuviym (written words) or Torah (Instruction) because God is admonishing Israel to carry and walk in His living Word that is His written Word in action, the Word not only the Torah but of the prophets and writings, the right action of faith in Him, Halakhah (the way we walk). Yeshua the King Messiah is revealed as the Living Word (Davar) Essence of the Universe Who is both Author and Goal of the TaNaKH (Bible) [John 1; Romans 10:4]. We note that only in the Word is Israel able to return to YHVH (Mercy).
“Say to Him, “take all depravity away and receive good and a covenant of peace, wholeness, wellbeing fruit [calves] of our lips.” This is an instruction to the people to ask God to take away all their iniquity through a covenant that brings peace. This is a reference to the blood sacrifice of Yeshua the King Messiah and the covenant of peace that His shed blood establishes. Only by receiving it can Israel be saved from the rightful punishment for her sin. We note that this covenant becomes an act of worship that overflows from her lips, that is, the testimony of salvation through Yeshua the King Messiah. This is why the ambiguity occurs in the Hebrew text. The Hebrew prym can mean either the plural of fruit peri or of calf par. This is because the author of the prophetic work is conveying the Divine Word of God indicating both sacrifice and the testimony of that same sacrifice as it is heard on the lips of those who receive it. The ambiguity therefore, conveys an intended convergent meaning.
“and teach [us the] good [way] Heb. וְקַח-טוֹב. And teach us the good way. Another explanation: The few good deeds in our hands take in Your hand and judge us accordingly. And so does David say (Psalms 17:2): “Let my sentence come forth from before You, may Your eyes behold the right.” Another explanation: And accept good And accept confession from us, as it is said (Psalms 92:2): “It is good to confess to the Lord.
and let us render [for] bulls that we should have sacrificed before you, let us render them with the placation of the words of our lips.” -Rashi
3  Ashur (a step) Assyria lo yoshiyeinu will not save us, al-sus lo nirkav on horses we will not ride; velo-nomar and nor will we say od again, ‘eloheiynu Our god’ lema’aseih To the work yadeiynu of our hands; asher-becha For in You yerucham there is mercy, compassion for yatom the fatherless.”
These words continue the proposed confession of repentant Israel at a future time post exile. Assyria to whom the northern kings had turned would not only not save them but would in fact conquer and subjugate them.
“Assyria shall not save us Say this also before Him, “We no longer seek the aid of man, neither from Assyria nor from Egypt.” -Rashi
“nor will we say again, ‘Our god’ To the work of our hands” Part of Israel’s repentance involves turning their backs on all false idols. I am reminded of the son of a Hindu High Priest who came to faith in our community and was being immersed (tevilah) in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. He excitedly answered my question to him, “Do you choose to worship of the God of Israel alone, do you forsake the worship of all other Gods? Do you acknowledge that Yeshua the King Messiah is Imanu with us El God?” his response was a resounding “I do!”
When we turn to God in Messiah we are in one sense taking a wedding vow, “I cleave to You alone, forsaking all others…”
“For in You there is mercy, compassion for the fatherless.” An acknowledgement that only the Greatest of father’s the Creator of the universe can truly understand and gift compassion for the fatherless.
4  Erpa I will heal, repair meshuvatam their turning away, ohaveim I will love them nedavah freely, voluntarily, kiy Because shav afiy turned away is My flaring nostril (anger) mimenu from them.
“I will heal, repair their turning away” This is a certain promise. YHVH will heal, repair, cure Israel of her turning away. In short, turning away from God is an illness that leads to death. Through His Son the King Messiah He has provided the cure for that illness and with it wholeness and eternal life.
“I will love them freely, voluntarily” The Calvinists avoid this verse because it describes free will as an attribute of God and is therefore one of many Scriptures that refute their false supposition. In fact, without free will there is no love, only mindless robotic subjugation.
“Because turned away is My flaring nostril (anger) from them.”
God will yet turn away His wrath from His people because His purpose has always been to discipline them unto repentance and restoration.
“I will remedy their backsliding Said the prophet: So has the Holy Spirit said to me. After they say this before Me, I will remedy their backsliding, and I will love them with My charitable spirit. Although they do not deserve the love, I will love them charitably since My wrath has turned away from them.” -Rashi
5  Eyeh It will be chatal like night mist (dew) leYisrael to Israel; kashoshanah He will blossom like the lily, veyach And he will cast forth sharashayv his roots kalevanon like Lebanon (whiteness from lavan).
“It will be like night mist (dew) to Israel” Here, it’s the wrath of God that will disperse like the dew. This is the counterpoint to Ephraim’s temporal reign and Israel’s (northern tribes) fading prosperity in the land (v.3).
“He will blossom like the lily, and he will cast forth his roots kalevanon like Lebanon (whiteness, from lavan).” Whiteness, purity, is multiplied here (Lilly [white] & Lebanon [whiteness]). This is an allusion to the purity that will blossom and put down roots as a result of the salvation that comes through Yeshua the King Messiah from YHVH the Deliverer of Israel.
"they shall dwell in the strength of their land, as a tree of Lebanon, which sends forth its branch.'' -Targum Yonatan
There is also a picture of strength such as that of the strong well rooted trees of the northern region (not the modern state of Lebanon).
“and it shall strike I.e. the dew shall strike its roots and cause them to prosper like the Lebanon like the roots of the trees of the Lebanon, which are large.” -Rashi
6  Yeilechu And he will send out yonekotayv his young branches, vihiy like chazayit an olive tree hodo in its beauty, vereiyach lo and his aroma kalevanon like Lebanon (whiteness).
"they shall multiply or increase with sons and daughters:'' -Targum Yonatan
When Israel returns to HaShem through the King Messiah, he will send out his branches like an olive tree and his aroma will draw the nations to the purity (Lebanon/whiteness) of Messiah in him. This has a correlation to the olive tree imagery of Rav Shaul (Romans 11).
“Its branches shall go forth Sons and daughters shall increase and it shall be Their beauty shall be like the beauty of the menorah of the Temple, and their fragrance like the fragrance of the incense.” -Rashi
7  Yashuvu yosheveiy They shall return and dwell vetzilo in His shadow yechayu they will revive dagan grain veyifrechu and sprout forth chagafen like a grape vine. Zichro keyeiyn His remembrance, memorial like wine levanon of Lebanon.
“They shall return and dwell in His shadow” This is a reference to God and is also seen by our ancient Jewish forebears as a reference to the King Messiah. Therefore, acknowledging an intrinsic link between the two.
"and they shall be gathered out of the midst of their captivity, they shall dwell under the shadow of their Messiah;'' -Targum Yonatan
“they will revive grain and sprout forth like a grape vine. His remembrance, memorial like wine of Lebanon.” Redeemed Israel (chosen, ethnic, religious, empirical) will be revived in Messiah and produce fruit, the fruit that Ephraim should have produced but did not. The true King will be of Judah and will be the Vine Who breaks forth and spreads in righteousness. His Name/Remembrance will be like whiteness/purity, the strength of the trees of Lebanon (the northern mountain ranges of ancient Israel).
“its fragrance shall be like the wine of Lebanon Jonathan renders: Like the remembrance of the blasts of the trumpets over the old wine poured for libations in the Temple. For they would blow the trumpets over the libations when the Levites would recite the song.” -Rashi
8  Efrayim, mah-liy od says what more have I to do la’atzabiym with idols? Aniy I aniytiy I answer va’ashurenu and watch over you. Aniy kivrosh I am like a juniper ra’anan luxuriant, green. Mimeniy From Me peryecha your fruit nimtza is attained.
"they of the house of Israel shall say, ‘what is it to us to serve idols anymore?’ ‘I by my Word will receive the prayer of Israel, and will have mercy on him:’'' -Targum Yonatan
Redeemed Ephraim (kings and tribes of the north) who will come under the kingship of Judah over all Israel, will say “What more do I have to do with idols?” In short, “I’m forever done with idolatry!”
“Ephraim will say, ‘What more do I need to follow the images?’ And they will turn away from idolatry. I will answer him I will answer him from his trouble.” -Rashi
“I, yes, I answer and watch over you.” YHVH will answer redeemed Ephraim in her repentance and say “I hear and answer you with mercy and protection!”
“I am like a juniper luxuriant, green. From Me your fruit is attained.” This is the only instance in the Tanakh where God is figuratively compared to a tree and it is not a cedar but a juniper (a fruit bearing evergreen tree). We note that the fruit of redeemed Ephraim is not of Ephraim but of God. Ephraim in her sinful state bore fruit of destruction but through the King Messiah she has been created anew to bear the fruit of God’s character.
“Therefore if anyone be in Messiah, he is a new creation: the old has gone; behold, pay attention, all things have become new.” -2 Corinthians 5:17 (Author’s translation)
Our righteousness is in God and not of ourselves. Our right actions proceed from the Spirit of God in us through the King Messiah Yeshua.
9  Miy Who chacham is wise, veyavein let him understand, discern, consider eileh these things; Navon understand, ve’yeida’eim and they will know, comprehend. Kiy For yeshariym straight, right darcheiy are the ways YHVH of the Lord (Mercy), vetzadikiym and the righteous ones yeilechu will walk vam in them, ufoshe’iym and rebels, transgressors yikashelu shall stumble vam in them.
This final challenge is issued to all who have ears to hear. It is much like the former challenge of HaShem to the tribes of Israel as they entered the land:
15 “See, I have set before you today life and good, and death and evil. 16 What I am commanding you today is to love Adonai your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His mitzvot, statutes and ordinances. Then you will live and multiply, and Adonai your God will bless you in the land you are going in to possess. 17 But if your heart turns away and you do not listen, but are drawn away and bow down to other gods and worship them, 18 I tell you today that you will certainly perish! You will not prolong your days on the land, where you are about to cross over the Jordan to go in to possess. 19 “I call the heavens and the earth to witness about you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Therefore choose life so that you and your descendants may live, 20 by loving Adonai your God, listening to His voice, and clinging to Him. For He is your life and the length of your days, that you may dwell on the land that Adonai swore to your fathers—to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob—to give them.” -D’varim (Deuteronomy) 30:15-20 TLV
“Who is wise and will understand these Who among you is wise and will ponder to put his heart to all these and return to Me?” -Rashi
“Who is wise, let him understand, discern, consider these things; understand, and they will know, comprehend.” Only those who take the time to pause and consider these things will gain the understanding required to act on the warning of God in repentance. Today many pass on information they have no real knowledge of, spreading rumours and falsehoods on social media, email, message boards and the like without bothering to consider, discern, investigate and learn the truth of a mater. We would do well to take pause here and allow the Spirit of God to expose our hearts, and with sober judgement to access the state of our being and repent.
“For straight, right are the ways YHVH of the Lord (Mercy), and the righteous ones will walk in them, and rebels, transgressors shall stumble in them.” To the wicked the Instruction/Ways of YHVH (the Torah) are an indictment that condemns them to death, but that same Way/Instruction (Torah) points the righteous to its Goal Yeshua (Romans 10:4). How does one know that he is redeemed? The evidence of Messiah in us is seen in our halakhah (the way we walk), “For straight, right are the ways of Mercy (YHVH), and the righteous ones will walk in them!”
The same fire that warms the righteous consumes the wicked.
Copyright 2021 Yaakov Brown
Spiritual leader of Beth Melekh Community, Auckland, Aotearoa, N.Z.