Friday of Week 14

Hosea 14.2-10; Psalm 50; Matthew 10.16-23

Ephraim’ is another of the prophet’s metaphorical names for the people of Israel. Ephraim was the second son born to Joseph, the son of Israel [Genesis 30.22-24], during his sojourn in Egypt. [41.50-52] Joseph’s portion of his father Jacob’s (Israel) bequeathal was divided between these two sons (Ephraim and Manasseh); centuries later, when the ten northern tribes rebelled against the reign of King David’s grandson Rehoboam [I Kings 12.16] it was the tribe of Ephraim who led them; by Hosea’s time Ephraim had become a common name for the whole of the northern kingdom. [cf Jeremiah 31.9]

In 722 Israel was invaded by the Assyrians and from that time it essentially disappears as a nation. [I Chronicles 5.26; II Kings 17.5-6] Assyrian cuneiform states that 27,900 Israelites were taken captive from Samaria. The land of Israel was re-populated with peoples conquered by the Assyrians. [II Kings 17.24] Some of these people married Israelites, and their descendants became known as Samaritans, despised by New Testament times because of their mixed-racial ancestry and their rejection of the Jerusalem Temple. [John 4.1-42; Luke 9.51-56; 10.29-37]

Did Hosea live to see the Assyrian invasion and the dispersal of the Israelite population? It would appear that he did not. He certainly, though, was witness to the consequence of an apparently secure but decadent society being overrun by rapid social and religious disintegration. Yet for all that, Hosea never loses hope. The God in whose name he speaks promises to ‘heal their disloyalty’, to ‘love them with all my heart.’

Posted in Daily Reflection.