Fr. James' Lectionary

The Lectionary is both a reading program for completing all of Holy Scripture on a one year schedule, and a daily comment on a portion of the day's reading wedded to a poem to give an added perspective on the theme.

Location: Amherst, Virginia, United States

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

A Ticket to Oblivion:Bible Commentary on Hosea 9 with text from William Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida

Daily Readings
Job 18 Exodus 6:2-30 Hosea 9 I Thessalonians 2

Daily Text: Hosea 9

A Ticket to Oblivion
Three issues inform Hosea 9: a reverse exodus, the day of reckoning, and the fate of wanderers. The first is a notable theme in Hosea’s message. Israel has forfeited her right to be known by the Lord, and has no reason for further celebration. Even those celebration rituals that she observes will do no more than feed her belly—they will be worthless spiritually for they will be like mourner’s bread. Ritually mourners are unclean and may not sacrifice to YHWH. Therefore, what they eat is also unclean. Israel’s fate is to be removed from the Lord’s land and sent back to Egypt. It is a reversal of the Exodus, a ticket to oblivion.

The day of reckoning angers Israel to such a degree that she turns on Hosea in such a hostile fashion that he finds it necessary to name her problem and reassert his role as God’s sentinel or watchman. He goes on to state that Israel is profoundly deranged as was the Levite who dismembered his concubine at Gibeah many years previously. As Hosea remembers this so will God remember. Their iniquity and their punishment is sure.

The third issue is a long view of God’s initial discovery of Israel like new fruit in a wilderness. They were his first born, the first crop of the season in the first season of bearing. But even these first ancestors betrayed God in the wilderness with Moses at Baal-peor and made themselves detestable to God. The result will be extinction as a political entity. They will stop reproducing and even those children born will be taken from them. God will depart from them and theirs will be a woeful condition. Once an oasis in a desert of nations, Israel will end in a slaughter. So hopeless is Hosea 9:14 that when he asks the Lord to give them something all he can come up with is that the birth of innocent ones will be prevented and newborns will die early at dry breasts. God has come to hate them and they will be driven from his house. No notion of hating the sin and loving the sinner here. Both sin and sinner are hated because they cannot be separated. God will totally reject them and they will become wanderers among the very nations they courted as allies. How very true this has become!

from Troilus and Cressida, III. iii. 165
William Shakespeare

What’s past, and what’s to come, is strew’d
with husks
And formless ruin of oblivion.

Collect for the Day
Father, hear the prayer we offer,
Not for ease that prayer shall be,
But for strength that we may ever
Live our lives courageously

Be our strength in hours of weakness,
In our wanderings be our guide;
Through endeavor, failure, danger,
Be for ever at our side.


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