Friday, January 8, 2016

Adesola Oladoja writes

Back Again?

So, are we back
On our track
Where we started
Before you forfeited
Our little beginnings

Like Gomer you went astray
Is it nature or your fray?
I can't but wonder
What tore us assunder
What would cost your returning?

You looked at me
Tagged me unworthy
Ostracised from your world
You treated me like blunt sword
Are we back darling?

A man's essence
Lies in his usefulness
What you want in me
Lies nowhere but here
That explains your beckoning

I would be glad
To make you sad
Turn you to your comrades
With whom you found sheltering shades
Or why?
Tell me
Are we back again
Where we started?

 "Hosea and Gomer" by Cody F. Miller


  1. The Jews ruled two neighboring states. The northern kingdom of Israel emerged as an important local power by the 9th century BCE, before falling to the Neo-Assyrian Empire in 722 BCE, while the kingdom of Judah emerged in the 8th century BCE and enjoyed a period of prosperity as a client-state of Assyria and later Babylon before a revolt against the Neo-Babylonian Empire led to its destruction in 586 BCE. According to the Book of Hosea, before Israel's destruction, the people had lost their faithfulness, kindness, and knowledge of God; swearing, deception, murder, stealing, drunkenness and sexual vice were rampant; the religious establishment was corrupt; the people had become idol worshipers; and the orgiastic cults of the fertility deities Baal and Ashtarte had become particularly prominent. (According to 2 Kings 17, human sacrifices were also being committed.) The political situation had been in turmoil for decades, since Jeroboam's revolt against the original Jewish dominion and his creation of the separate kingdom of Israel and his adoption of policies that were intended to reorient political and religious focus away from the Temple in Jerusalem, the capital of Judea, by encouraging the building of local altars, appointing priests from outside the family of the Levites, and tolerating other cults.

  2. Israel's fourth king, Elah, was murdered by Zimri, the "commander of half the king's chariots," but after a reign of only seven days he set fire to the royal palace and died in the blaze in order to avoid capture and torture at the hands of Omri, Elah's "commander of the army." Nothing is known about his lineage, but as his name is either Amorite or Arabic, he may have been a foreign mercenary. He secured a marriage alliance between his son Ahab ("Brother of the father") and the daughter of the Phoenician king Ethbaal of Tyre, Jezebel (Izevel, meaning "Where is the Prince?"," a ritual cry from ceremonies in honor of Baal during periods of the year when the god was in the underworld). (According to Josephus, she was the great-aunt of Dido, the first ruler of Carthage, who would proclaim eternal hatred between her people and the descendants of her unfaithful Trojan lover Aeneas, the founder of Rome.) Jezebel brought her own priests into Israel, and Ahab built a temple for Baal while launching a murderous purge against his foes. The religious orientation of the kings of Israel brought about domestic security but were opposed by the religious traditionalists, as led by the prophet Elijah (Eliyahu, "My God is Yahu"), who invoked a divine drought so severe that not even dew would fall. (A deliberately provocative pronouncement since Baal was responsible for rain, thunder, lightning, and dew.) After more than three years of exile and famine, Elijah demanded the execution of the priests of Baal and fled again, this time to Mt. Horeb, where Moses had received the Ten Commandments centuries ago. From there he went to Damascus to annoint Elisha ("My God is salvation") as his own successor and to provide divine support for Hazael ("God has seen") as king of Damascus and later for Jehu as king of Israel.

  3. Meanwhile, Jehoshaphat ("Jehovah has judged"), the fourth king of Judah, fortified his realm against its Omride rivals by suppressing idolatrous worship and sending out priests and Levites to instruct his people in the correct religious observances; but he also married his son Jehoram to Ahab's daughter Athaliah ("God is exalted"). When the Syrian king Hadadezer fell ill he sent Hazael, a court official, to Elisha to seek a cure; Hazael was assured by the prophet that the king would die of other means and returned to Damascus, where he suffocated Hadadezer to death and seized power. He quickly began to enlarge his territory east of the Jordan river. and Jehoshaphat and Ahab advanced to recover Ramoth-Gilead, Ahab was mortally wounded by an unaimed arrow; Jehoshaphat returned home safely but, reproached by the prophet Jehu for the alliance with Israel, resumed his former religious purification. Ahab was succeeded by his son Ahaziah; after falling from his palace roof he sent messengers to consult with the priests of Baal-Zebub, the god of prophecy, but they were met en route by Elijah, who swore that, due to his idolatry, Ahariah would never recover. Since he had no son he was succeeded by his younger brother Jehoram ("Jehovah is exalted"), who moderated his dynasty's religious policies and even gained Elisha's support against Hazael.

  4. In Jehoram's fifth year Jehoshaphat's son, also named Jehoram, began a co-regency with his father and eventually succeeded him as king of Judea; to secure his reign he killed his six brothers, and he lost the rest of his family (except his youngest son) in a raid by Arabs, Philistines, and Ethiopians. The town of Libnah revolted because he "abandoned Yahweh, God of his fathers," Elijah delivered a warning, and, after a two-year struggle against a painful inflammation of the abdomen, Jehoram of Judea was followed by his only surviving relative, Ahaziah. Under the influence of his mother Athaliah and her relatives, whom he made his chief advisors,, he introduced forms of worship that offended the Yahwistic party marched to join his uncle Jehoram of Israel in an expedition to recover Ramoth-Gilead from Hazael, with disastrous effects. Defeated and wounded. Jehoram withdrew to Jezreel to recover. Ahaziah retreated all the way back to Jerusalem, but then went to Jezreel to confer with Jehoram. (Jezreel means "God sows.") During the visit Elisha commanded one of his disciples to anoint the commander of the army as king. The general, Jehu ("Jehovah is He"), shot Jehoram in the back with an arrow and had his body thrown into the field formerly owned by Naboth in reparation for its illegal theft. (In order to "have it for a garden of herbs," probably as a ceremonial garden for Baal worship, Ahab had desired a small vineyard on the hill of Jezreel, next to the palace, but Naboth had inherited it from his father and was forbidden to alienate it, according to Jewish religious law. Jezebel arranged for Naboth to be executed in a mock trial, and then Ahab seized the plot as the legal heir.) Ahaziah was wounded during his flight and died at Megiddo after only one year of rule. (Other accounts claim that he hid in Samara, the capital of Israel, but was found and killed on Jehu's orders.) Jehu then descended on the royal palace at Jezreel. Jezebel dressed herself in make-up and a formal, adorned wig, perhaps in an attempt at seduction but probably
    as an act of defiance: the queen mother, invested with all the authority of the royal house and cult, with full dignity, splendor and pride confronting a rebellious commander. (Her lavish costume perhaps led eventually to the association of cosmetics with prostitutes, "painted women.") Jehu ordered her servants to throw her from the window. Her blood splashed on the wall and horses, and Jehu trampled her corpse with his horse and chariot. He entered the palace, dined and drank, and then ordered her body to be recovered for burial, but stray dogs had devoured her except for her skull, feet, and the palms of her hands. Jehu
    ordered the execution of all the royal princes, and the next day he found seventy heads piled outside the city gate. He then proceeded to exterminate the 42 remaining relatives of Ahaziah. Jehonadab ("Jehovah is Willing") joined him in his chariot and they entered Samaria together. Though not a Jew himself, he led the puritanical sect of Rechabites and sanctioned the massacre of the worshippers of Baal; Jehu then destroyed their idols and turned their temple into a latrine, though he continued to tolerate the worship of golden calves at Dan and Bethel. But Hazael defeated his armies "throughout all of the territories of Israel" beyond the Jordan river, and Hosea attributed the Assyrian punsihment of Israel to Jehu's bloodbath.

  5. Hosea ("Salvation" or "He saves" or "He helps" -- his name may have been a contraction of a larger form that signified "YHWH helps," the original name of the post=Exodus general, Joshua) was a Biblical prophet. God ordered him to “take to yourself a wife of harlotry and have children of harlotry; for the land commits flagrant harlotry, forsaking the LORD." (Other translations refer to her as a "promiscuous woman." a "harlot," or a "whore.") So Hosea married Gomer, who bore him three children, all of whom were named by God. First was a son, Jezreel ("for yet a little while, and I will punish the house of Jehu for the bloodshed of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. On that day I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel.”) Then they bore a daughter, Lo-ruhamah ("for I will no longer have compassion on the house of Israel, that I would ever forgive them. But I will have compassion on the house of Judah and deliver them by the LORD their God, and will not deliver them by bow, sword, battle, horses or horsemen.”) Finally, another son was born, Lo-ammi ("for you are not My people and I am not your God.”) Each of the names symbolizes some aspect of Israel’s relationship with God. Jezreel was the synbolic source of much of the wickedness associated with the northern kingdom. Lo-ruhamah means “to have no pity” and refers to God's impending judgment. Lo-ammi means “not mine” and is not only an acknowledgement of Israel's harlotry but also a declaration of divine disownership.

  6. His name may also have been a signal to Hosea that this child was not his progeny. As God said, “For their mother has played the harlot; she who conceived them has acted shamefully for she said, ‘I will go after my lovers, who give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.’ Therefore, behold, I will hedge up her way with thorns, and I will build a wall against her so that she cannot find her paths. She will pursue her lovers, but she will not overtake them; and she will seek them, but will not find them. Then she will say, ‘I will go back to my first husband, for it was better for me then than now!’ For she does not know that it was I who gave her the grain, the new wine and the oil, and lavished on her silver and gold, which they used for Baal Therefore, I will take back My grain at harvest time and My new wine in its season. I will also take away My wool and My flax given to cover her nakedness. and then I will uncover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and no one will rescue her out of My hand. I will also put an end to all her gaiety, her feasts, her new moons, her Sabbaths and all her festal assemblies. I will destroy her vines and fig trees, of which she said, ‘These are my wages which my lovers have given me’ and I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field will devour them. I will punish her for the days of the Baals when she used to offer sacrifices to them and adorn herself with her earrings and jewelry, and follow her lovers, so that she forgot Me.... Therefore, behold, I will allure her, bring her into the wilderness and speak kindly to her. Then I will give her her vineyards from there, and the valley of Achor as a door of hope and she will sing there as in the days of her youth, as in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt. It will come about in that day ... that you will call Me Ishi and will no longer call Me Baali. For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, so that they will be mentioned by their names no more. In that day I will also make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, the birds of the sky and the creeping things of the ground and I will abolish the bow, the sword and war from the land, and will make them lie down in safety. I will betroth you to Me forever; yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, in loving kindness and in compassion, and I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the LORD. It will come about in that day that I will respond ... to the heavens, and they will respond to the earth, and the earth will respond to the grain, to the new wine and to the oil, and they will respond to Jezreel. I will sow her for Myself in the land I will also have compassion on her who had not obtained compassion, and I will say to those who were not My people, ‘You are My people!’ and they will say, ‘You are my God!’”

  7. The couple separated and Gomer consorted with a man who was unable to support her, but Hosea secretly continued to provide her with her basic needs. Eventually he realized that his continued support merely enabled her to maintain her adulterous lifestyle and he stopped, whereupon Gomer’s lover sold her into slavery, but God told Hosea, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by her husband, yet an adulteress, even as the LORD loves the sons of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes.” So Hosea bought Gomer for 15 shekels of silver and a homer and a half of barley; since Exodus 21:32 set the value of a maidservant at 30 shekels, this price indicates how severely Gomer's value had diminished. Then Hosea told her, "You shall stay with me for many days. You shall not play the harlot, nor shall you have a man; so I will also be toward you." (As God explained, "For the sons of Israel will remain for many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar and without ephod or household idols. Afterward the sons of Israel will return and seek the LORD their God and David their king; and they will come trembling to the LORD and to His goodness in the last days.")

  8. Aside from being an exposition on Israel's punishment and redemption, the story is also sometimes seen as a prophetic reference to the eventual union between the "lost tribes of Israel" with the descendants of Japheth's eldest son Gomer, the father of Riphath, Togarmah, and Ashkenaz (perhaps Ashkuz in the original Hebrew, but the letter waw was accidentally miscopied as the similar-looking letter nun). Children of Ashkenaz were originally identified as the Scythians (Assyrian "Ishkuza") and much later (in the 11th century) with the Germans. In 1498 Annio da Viterbo published fraudulent Babylonian records that said Comerus Gallus (i.e. Gomer son of Japheth) had settled in Comera (modern Italy) in the 10th year of Nimrod, following the dispersion of peoples, and that Tuiscon, the fourth son of Noah, ruled in Germany/Scythia; he was later identified as Ashkenaz. According to tractate Yoma, in the Talmud, Gomer was the ancestor of the Gomermians (modern Germans). In Hebrew. Gomer is widely considered to refer to the Cimmerians (Akkadian "Gimirru," "complete") from the Eurasian steppes whose king Teushpa was defeated by Assarhadon of Assyria sometime between 681 and 668 BCE. In ca 200 BCE the Cimbri settled in Denmark and were identified as a Cimmerian (or Germanic or Celtic) tribe and connected with the Welsh, who called themselves the Cymri (probably from the Brythonic word *Combrogos ("fellow countryman") and sometimes called their language "Gomeraeg." Various ancient writers claimed Gomer as the ancestor of the Cappadocians or the neighboring Galatians (and therefore of the Gauls and Celts). The Irish trace themselves back to Gomer's soh Ibath, son of Gomer (thought to be a form of Riphath). Armenian and Georgian chronicles list Gomer's son Togarmah as the ancestor of both peoples, who respectibely inhabited the lands between the Black and Caspian Seas and between Mounts Elbrus and Ararat; the Khazars identified Togarmah as the ancestor of the Turkic-speaking peoples.


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