Torah Study Notes 5-11-13

May 11, 2013
p. 917 – Haftarah
The disloyalty of Hosea’s wife is a metaphor for Israel’s disloyalty to God. The connecting Torah portion is in the Book of Numbers.
2:1 The Torah reading is a census and this appears to forbid one – “not to be measured or counted.” This may refer to the inherent inaccuracy of surveys – where more are being born while some die. He is saying that Israel will survive despite the Syrian invasion. He wants to change the names of the children from in implication of disloyalty to one of loyalty. Note that Hosea was likely from a family of prophets – who played that role in ancient societies. CL: This seems to be poetic or idiomatic. Does it warrant analysis beyond the metaphor? PG: Yes in the sense that they are under attack and need to be given hope. DC: Why does verse two appear here before verse three – to which the first verse connects? PG: Not really sure. This is uniquely a Northern text – which undoubtedly contains regionalisms. An ice cream soda is called a “cabinet” in Rhode Island. CL: The Hebrew for my people is “ammi” a common name in Revolutionary War times and notably of the painter Ammi Phillips.
2:4 The metaphor extended. This would appear to be ripe for a feminist interpretation. The Woman’s Commentary does not include Haftarah. AF: To whom is Hosea speaking? This seems a bit sophisticated for the farmers at the market. PG: This is written as scripture several hundred years after the events – about 450 – to a literary audience. Or for us today.
2:7 The worship of other gods is materialistic but Hosea/God claims he gave her everything. There is no recital of love in what he has given her. Since God is speaking it is even more jumbled – like a fevered dream. But the wife is clearly a metaphor for the people of Israel. ML: Why would the redactors use this metaphor? Were the Israeli people on the verge of apostasy at the time? PG: Prophets were preserved because they were right. Syria did overrun the Kingdom. In 740 they are in full bloom but gone as state twenty years later.
But what impelled Hosea to marry this woman? LL: Or God to select this people? He went out of his way to build a metaphor? Was he trying to rescue her? Israel was rescued.
2:16 All’s well that ends well. The last two lines are recited when one dons the tefillin in the morning. Consider Working Girl with Melanie Griffin where someone who is apparently unsuitable succeeds. See verse 16 “That is when I will entice her to Me, lead her to the wilderness and speak to her heart.”

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