Haftorah This Week
Welcome to Haftorah This Week, the place where you will find thoughts and
reflections by CLAL faculty and associates on this week's Haftorah.
Hosea lived in the northern kingdom, (in this Haftarah, also called Ephraim and Israel)
in the 8th century B.C.E. He speaks to an Israelite population which has become seduced by
its material successes and power:
A traitor who uses false balances, who loves to overreach, Ephraim thinks, "Ah, I
have become rich/I have gotten power! All my gains do not amount to an offense which is
real guilt." (Hosea 12:8-9)
Religious narrative becomes exponentially powerful when the story of an individual in
some way reflects the story of a people. Hosea uses the power of the story as he compares
the deceitfulness of the northern kingdom to the deceitfulness of their ancestor Jacob.
Just as "the Lord once indited Judah and punished Jacob for his conduct, requited
him for his deeds. In the womb he tried to supplant his brethren" (Hosea 12:3-4), so
will God punish the northern kingdom of Israel for its conduct.
Hosea is not without compassion, however. As Jacob was able to confront his
deceitfulness, his conscience, the part of himself which perhaps surfaced in the form of
the midnight messenger/angel, so can Israel, the people, face itself honestly and change.
You must return to your God! Practice goodness and justice and constantly trust in your
God. (Hosea 12:7)
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