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A Point-by-Point Response to
Leonard Jayawardena's Reply to Till's Rebuttal of His Solution to the Jehu Problem
by
Farrell Till
Part (1)

Leonard Jayawardena, who for brevity's sake will hereafter be referred to as LJ, has replied to my four-part rebuttal of his "solution" to the Jehu problem. That series begins here, with links after each article so that those who may so desire can easily go to the next part. In his latest attempt to resolve an obvious discrepancy in the Bible, LJ, as readers will see below, admitted that he didn't attempt to "deal with everything" I said in my rebuttals, so as I go along, I will be identifying the points that he skipped. I think readers will see that he skipped some major points because he had no plausible replies to make.

LJ may think it is appropriate to evade major points made by his debating opponent, but evasion is not my style. As I did in the four-part series linked to above, I will go through his article point by point, starting at the beginning and going through to the end. I will skip nothing. Everything that LJ said in his article, then, will be quoted with frequent interruptions to insert my replies to whatever points he made along the way. As I did in my four-part response to his previous article, I will use color coding to help readers follow who has said what. The material in his article will be printed in blue; my replies will be in black print.

Although those who read my replies will also see everything that LJ said, I am also posting his article so that he can't complain that I am not treating him fairly. It can be accessed by clicking the link in the title above.

This is written in response to Mr. Farrell Till’s (hereafter FT) rebuttal of my article entitled “Solution to the Problem” on The Secular Web. My reply will be in two parts and this is the first. My article was long enough to begin with, so I will not quote everything in FT’s very long rebuttal so as not to test the patience and endurance of the reader.

LJ's complaint about the length of my rebuttal article is rather ironic, since his "reply" that I am now answering was 129K in length, which was 21,700 words. His original article had 69K, all of which I quoted in my point-by-point reply to it, so a considerable part of my rebuttal was simply direct quotations of what he had said. Since one cannot be expected to write a point-by-point rebuttal of an article in fewer words than were in the original, LJ should not have been surprised at the length of my reply. I am sure that he would have preferred that I skip long sections of his article, as he did in answering mine, so that he could complain that I didn't reply to some of his points. Evasion, however, is not my style. As long as space is available to me, as it is on my own website, I will continue to post point-by-point replies. Because of LJ's arrogance that is rather obvious in some sections of his article, I am especially determined not to skip any sections of it in my reply.

Some parts of my article are no longer relevant because of the modification made to my exegesis of Hosea chapter 1, so I will not be replying to FT’s comments on them. As explained in the following paragraph, this modification now includes a revision to my interpretation of the key phrase “the blood of Jezreel" itself.

The constant changing of their positions on the issues under discussion is one of the joys of debating defenders of the Bible. When biblical inerrantists find that their "solutions" to discrepancies cannot withstand scrutiny, they will go back to the drawing board and then return to the debate with another solution. In effect, they say, "Well, my first solution didn't work, so what about this one?" This is exactly what LJ has been doing in the matter of the discrepancy in 2 Kings 10:30 and Hosea 1:4.

LJ claims that he isn't an inerrantist, but all through our lengthy discussion of the Jehu problem, he has certainly conducted himself as one. In his original attempt to resolve this discrepancy, he claimed that the prophet whom Yahweh had sent to Jehu didn't command him to destroy the house of Ahab but merely "prophesied" that he would, and so Jehu had acted on his own and not by divine mandate. Hence, when Hosea said that the house of Jehu would be punished "for the blood of Jezreel," he was not saying that the descendants of Jehu would be punished because their eponymous ancestor had obeyed a divine command but because he had decided on his own to destroy the house of Ahab. When LJ saw that this position was untenable, he dropped the matter and then later came back with the position that he is now trying to defend. The mere fact that he seems so determined to prove that there is no inconsistency between Hosea 1:4 and 2 Kings 10:30 shows that even if he isn't a biblical inerrantists, his sympathy is certainly on their side.

In addition, I will not be dealing with every statement in FT’s rebuttal in disagreement with my article, because the intelligent reader can judge for himself the merits of the arguments for both sides without having to be spoon-fed.

I think that "the intelligent reader" will soon see why LJ did not deal with every point in my rebuttal. He obviously had no sensible replies to many of my points, especially my frequent requests for him to cite or quote some place in the Old Testament where "blood of Jezreel" was undeniably used to mean the blood of the children of Israel whom Yahweh had allowed enemy nations to kill because of the toleration of idolatry by the Jehu dynasty, so he "dealt" with this frequent request by just ignoring it.

However if, after I have finished my reply, FT thinks I have missed out [sic] anything of importance, he can always point them out to me and I will respond.

LJ can be assured that as I go through his "rebuttal" point by point, I will certainly point out the parts that he "missed." By not dealing with all of the points in my rebuttal, LJ can later say that he wasn't being intentionally evasive but only replying to what he considered important. Anyway, I will start pointing out his evasions by requesting that he show us where the Bible ever unequivocally used "the blood of Jezreel" in the sense that he is claiming for Hosea 1:4.

The readers of my article “Solution to the Problem” will be aware that I interpreted the phrase “the blood of Jezreel” [in] Hosea 1:4 as a reference to the deaths of the children of Israel caused by their enemies as a result of divine judgment against the idolatry of the nation.

I will repeat here my request that LJ respond to a significant point that he "missed" in his reply to my rebuttal of his "solution" to the Jehu problem. In my four-part rebuttal of LJ's "solution," I challenged him several times and especially here and here and in a lengthy section here to present some kind of textual evidence that "the blood of Jezreel" in Hosea 1:4 referred not to those slaughtered in the Jezreel massacre but to "the deaths of the children of Israel" that resulted from the sponsorship of idolatry by Jehu's descendant kings. If LJ gave any such textual evidence, I failed to see it. He has instead relied on arbitrary assertion to "prove" that this was what "the blood of Jezreel" meant in the disputed text, but argumentation by assertion is a recognized logical fallacy.

When the meaning of a biblical expression is in doubt, most apologists will at least do a word study to show how the expression was used in the Bible. In a reply to Robert Turkel's attempt to show that Yahweh's command to "cut off" the uncircumcised male meant banishment and not death, as I had claimed in an article entitled Ouch!, I cited several places in the Old Testament, such as Exodus 31:14-15, Exodus 31:12-13 and Exodus 35:1-3, where "cut off" and "put to death" were used interchangeable as penalties for the same offenses. In so doing, I established to the satisfaction of any reasonable person that "cut off" was a Hebrew idiom that meant "put to death" or "kill." This is the kind of textual evidence that I have asked LJ to provide for his interpretation of the expression "blood of Jezreel," but he has yet to show us a single text where this expression was unequivocally used to mean the deaths of the children of Israel who were killed by their enemies because of the toleration of idolatry by Jehu's descendant kings. All he has done, in effect, is to argue that the expression means this because he says that it means this.

Before I leave this point, I want to remind readers that LJ's interpretation of "the blood of Jezreel" shows his belief in the ancient superstition that the gods would punish entire populations because of the "sins" of others. The theme of vicarious punishment runs throughout the Old Testament. The ten commandments, for example, warned that Yahweh was a jealous god who would visit the sins of the fathers on the children of the third and fourth generations (Ex. 20:5). Joshua 7 tells a tale about Israel's defeat in its initial attack on the city of Ai, and as this yarn was spun, the defeat resulted from the "sin" of Achan, who had kept for himself some of the booty taken in the conquest of Jericho. Not until Achan's "sin" was uncovered and his entire family and all of his livestock killed was Yahweh sufficiently satisfied to allow the Israelites to conquer Ai. Later, when the national leaders learned that the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh had built an altar east of the Jordan with intentions to sacrifice there instead of at the tabernacle, where Yahweh had commanded that all sacrifices be offered, they sent emissaries to the offending tribes to express their fear that Yahweh, as he had done in the case of Achan, might punish the entire nation because of the nefarious altar (Josh. 22:10-34). Such ignorance as this should have died long ago, but when someone like LJ indicates his belief that a god called Yahweh used the Syrians to kill Israelites because of the "sins" of kings who allowed idolatry, we know that ancient supersitition is unfortunately still alive in our enlightened times. That LJ believes such nonsense certainly doesn't instill much confidence in his claim that he has seen a meaning in Hosea 1:4 that eluded biblical scholars until he came along to tell the world that "the blood of Jezreel" in this verse didn't mean the blood of those who were killed in the massacre at Jezreel but "the deaths of the children of Israel caused by their enemies as a result of divine judgment against the idolatry of the nation." We will see that LJ provides no textual evidence to support this arbitrary iinterpretation, and so it is nothing but an assertion made by someone on a crusade to defend inerrancy in the Bible.

In that interpretation, "Jezreel" is treated as a possessive genitive (actually, in Hebrew, the "genitive" is called the "absolute," but I will be using the term genitive throughout this article for convenience as most readers would be more familiar with that term).

Maybe people in LJ's native country, Shri Lanka, would be "more familiar" with the term genitive, but I doubt that very many Americans would. Having taught English on the college level for thirty years, I learned that Americans in general are linguistically uninformed. If LJ conducted a man-on-the-street survey in a typical American city, he would soon see that not many people here are grammatically knowledgeable. This linguistic ineptness is reflected in the many grammatical mistakes that we hear in the dialogues of movies and TV programs. Since English grammar has no genitive case, I doubt that LJ would find very many Americans who could tell him how it functions in languages that do have this case. In my teaching career, I found that it wasn't at all unusual to find students who didn't know the difference in a noun and a verb, so I have no doubt that the function of the genitive case in languages that have it would be understood only by relatively few Americans.

I lay no claim to scholarship in Hebrew, but I did study it in college and later on my own, so I found myself wondering what LJ meant in his comments about "the absolute." Unless memory fails me, "absolute" nouns were the primary form of the word, which is the form of the word (in its singular state) that appears in lexicons. The "absolute" form never undergoes any change through the attachment of pronomial prefixes or suffixes or other uses. To express possession or, to use LJ's term, the "genitive," which would be parallel to saying "the angel of God" in English, the "construct" form must be used. I still have A Beginner's Handbook to Biblical Hebrew by John H. Marks and Virgil M. Rogers, a Hebrew grammar that I used in college, so I will quote what it says about the "absolute" and the "construct" so that readers can see that LJ's knowledge of Hebrew is somewhat deficient.

The Hebrew noun has two states: the absolute and the construct. The noun in the construct state is (when possible) a shortened form of the noun in its absolute state. The noun in the construct state must always be followed by a word in the absolute state or by a series of constructs; the construct never stands independently. This construct-absolute relationship corresponds in Latin to a noun modified by a genitive, e. g.,"dominus terrae." This phenomenon is best illustrated by the relation which exists between two English words joined by "of," e. g., "the word of God" (God's word). In Hebrew the substantive preceding an understood "of" is called the governing noun. The governed noun is said to be in the absolute state; the governing noun, in the construct state (Abingdon Press, 1955, p. 41, original emphasis).

If we applied Marks' and Rogers' terms governed noun and governing noun to their English example, i. e., the word of God, then word, which would be in construct form, would be the governing noun, and God, which would be in absolute form, would be the governed noun. A discussion of these noun forms, illustrated with examples, followed on pages 41-44, but it is too long to quote. Those who may have access to this book or some other Hebrew grammar can read the description of absolute and construct nouns to see that LJ is confused about the difference in the two. [Lesson six in Rabbi Shalom Gold's on-line Hebrew grammar discusses the function of construct nouns.] In the disputed phrase, i. e., "blood of Jezreel," blood is actually a construct (governing) noun and Jezreel the absolute (governed) noun. LJ's confusion here only makes us wonder about the accuracy of his appeals to Hebrew further along in his article.

A detailed examination of the use of the expression “the blood of…” in the Bible (and the Apocrypha) has convinced me of the correctness of taking "Jezreel" as a possessive genitive, i. e., the blood belongs to a person called Jezreel and so is the own blood of Jezreel.

As noted above, LJ has it backwards. The form that makes possible in Hebrew the idea of "possession" or, to use his term, "the genitive," must always be in the construct form, and the word that follows it, i. e., the object of the understood of, must be in the absolute. Besides that, Jezreel was a place, not a person. The only "person" name Jezreel would have been the child born to Hosea's wife Gomer, and surely LJ would not argue that "the blood of Jezreel" in the disputed verse "belonged" to Gomer's child. To so argue would make Hosea 1:4 mean that Yahweh was going to avenge on the house of Jehu the blood that belonged to a child who had just been born, and that is a spin too ridiculous even to consider. To use LJ's own linguistic logic, then, we would have to say that "the blood of Jezreel" belonged to the place named Jezreel. If that is the case, what could that blood have been except the blood shed by those who were massacred at Jezreel? LJ's problem is that he has allowed his obessession to find inerrancy in Hosea 1:4 to lead him into putting a rather convoluted interpretation onto a simple phrase. If the writer of 2 Kings had never said that Jehu, in what he had done to the house of Ahab, had "done well in executing that which is right in [Yahweh's] eyes" (10:30), LJ would never have even considered that "the blood of Jezreel" in Hosea 1:4 meant anything except the blood of those who had been massacred at Jezreel, but, not wanting the two texts to be inconsistent, LJ has tied himself into verbal knots to try to make the "blood of Jezreel" refer to something besides Jehu's massacre at Jezreel. Far-fetched interpretations like his invariably result from people trying to find some way to make the Bible inerrant.

LJ's motive aside, he has shown in his comments about the "genitive" grammatical form that he doesn't understand how broad its function sometimes is. In a prepositional phrase beginning with of, the object of the preposition can be the "owner" of the noun that is modified by the prepositional phrase. For example, in a phrase like "the wealth of John Doe," the object of the preposition, i. e, John Doe, would be the owner of "the wealth." When we examine LJ's "blood of..." chart in the next section of my reply, we will see him claiming that in all "blood of..." phrases in the Old Testament, the blood "belonged" to the noun that the phrase modified, and that it was almost always a "person," but that is simply not the case. I just used an example involving the noun wealth in which the "wealth" belonged to John Doe, the object of the proposition of, but if I had written, "John Doe is a man of wealth," no one, except maybe LJ, would argue that "the man" belonged to the noun "wealth." LJ's so called "genitive" expressions can be used to denote characterization or description as in, "He is a reader of books." The meaning here is certainly not that "the reader" belongs to the books; it simply describes an activity that the person habitually engages in. These expressions can sometimes denote the source, in the sense of where the object of the preposition originates, as in "the wrath of God." Here "God" doesn't belong to "the wrath"; the phrase simply means that the wrath came from or emanated from "God." I could cite other examples, but these are sufficient to show that LJ is certainly no authority on how what he calls "the genitive" is linguistically used. I will have more to say about this when I reply to LJ's chart in the third part of my reply.

(Please see my analysis of the expression "the blood of..." later in the article.)

I will reply to that analysis in detail when I come to it in my point-by-point reply. We will see that what LJ calls the "genitive," i. e., the Hebrew equivalent of English phrases that begin with the proposition of, does not support his case.

However, I now think that the phrase “the blood of Jezeel” in Hosea 1:4 is best understood as "the death of Jezreel." Since "Jezreel" represents the kingdom of Israel in that passage, this means the destruction of the nation around 721 B.C. resulting from its idolatry, for which the house of Jehu was held responsible, as indeed were the other kings of Israel beginning from Jeroboam I, because of the part they played in the nation's idolatry.

In other words, LJ, as I pointed out above, still clings to the ancient superstition that the gods punished entire nations for "sins" committed by others, especially the rulers of the nation. He has turned to this superstition in order to have some way to show that 2 Kings 10:30 is not inconsistent with Hosea 1:4, so he apparently thinks that his god Yahweh would not have had the prophet Hosea to condemn the massacre at Jezreel and then later have the author of 2 Kings praise him for it. Hence, he has resorted to an implausible interpretation of Hosea 1:4. Jezreel in this verse, so LJ claims, did not mean the city named Jezreel; it meant "the kingdom of Israel." The name Jezreel, however, does not "represent the kingdom of Israel" just because LJ arbitrarily says that it does. I have asked him to show us other places in the Old Testament where Jezreel unequivocally meant what he is trying to make it mean in Hosea 1:4, or, in other words, I have asked him to analyze usage of this term as I analyzed "cut off" in the article referred to above in order to show that this expression was indeed often used in the Old Testament to mean kill or put to death. He has not yet analyzed Old Testament usage of Jezreel to show that it was at times used to mean "the children of Israel," and he hasn't because he can't. There are just no examples of where the name was so used; hence, LJ is asking us to believe that in just this one case, the name was used to mean something that would conveniently remove an inconsistency between 2 Kings 10:30 and Hosea 1:4. In so doing, he is ignoring a basic principle of literary interpretation that says that the meaning of words must be determined by the contexts in which they are used.What is the context of Hosea 1 that makes Jezreel in verse 4 mean the children of Israel killed by their enemies because of the toleration of idolatry by the house of Jehu? We are still waiting for LJ to answer that question.

Preliminary observations:

FT describes my article as “long and tedious.” It may be that. But that is nothing in comparison with the reams he has written, which include much that is irrelevant to the Jehu issue and much repetition.

As I explained above, my point-by-point reply to LJ's article quoted all 21,700 words in it, so at least that much of my reply consisted of what he had said. Rather than saying, as LJ did above, that I don't intend to "deal with every statement" in his article, I will post a point-by-point reply, so as I also explained above, one can hardly write a point-by-point reply that is shorter than what he is answering. As for his claim that "much" of what I have written on this subject is "irrelevant" and repetitious, I will just say that he is a fine one to talk. His article that I am now answering contains long sections that contained nothing but rehashed assertions and claims that I have already replied to. As we go along, I will be pointing out those repetitions. If he is really concerned about repetition, I will make an offer that he shouldn't be able to refuse. If he will quote to us places in the Old Testament where the name Jezreel was undeniably used to mean "the children of the kingdom of Israel," I will no longer repeat my challenge for him to analyze Old Testament usage of the name and the context of Hosea 1 to show unequivocally that it was so used in this passage.

We will see now just how eager he is to dispense with repetition.

Getting through all four parts of his rebuttal was a veritable feat of endurance.

Not nearly so much as trying to wade through his articles, which, as I point out below, made indeterminate references to my articles that complicated inserting links so that readers could check what he was referring to. He also constantly wanted to revise his articles when he saw fallacies and weaknesses in his own "arguments." Even in this article, he has already referred to parts of his previous position that "are no longer relevant because of the modification made to [his] exegesis of Hosea chapter 1." This guy started out arguing that Yahweh in 2 Kings 9:6-10 didn't give Jehu a command to massacre the house of Ahab but only prophesied that he would destroy it but later changed this "explanation" of the discrepancy to a strained interpretation of "the blood of Jezreel," which he has since modified to what he is now arguing, so if he has been wrong twice in the spin that he is trying to put onto "the blood of Jezreel," why should we believe that his latest twist is right?

His rebuttal contains many distortions and misrepresentations of what I have written, including, incredibly, even my basic solution! He misrepresents me as saying that, according to Hosea 1:4, God will both punish the house of Jehu and cause the house of Israel to cease for “the blood of Jezreel” (pp. 15-16, 18 of Part 1, pp. 9-11, 23 of Part 2 and many other places. The page numbers refer to numbers that appear when the article is printed out).

LJ's failure to quote anything that I said in the places that he referenced required me to print the articles in order to have page numbers as guideposts to find what he was referring to. Had he even used key words from my articles in his comments above, I could have used a search option to find what he was referring to--and he complained about how tedious my article was. Page numbers, which he has used through his article, are meaningless references when citing material in a website article, because nobody is going to take the time to print the article and count the pages to try to find what the citation was referring to, so I have taken the time to print the articles so that I could provide readers with links that will take them directly to the "pages" that LJ cited. So that readers can see that I didn't distort or misrepresent LJ, as he claimed above, I am going to quote the section from "pages 9-11" of Part 2, which simply restated what I had said on "pages 15-16" of Part 1. This quotation of the entire context of LJ's reference will enable readers to see for themselves that rather than "distorting" LJ's position, I was (1) explicating Hosea 1:4 to show that it definitely made two predictions rather than just one and (2) rewriting the text to show how it would have to read in order for it to mean what LJ was claiming.

Keep in mind what I said here in Part One of my reply to LJ: Hosea 1:4 obviously prophesied two different events that Yahweh would bring about: (1) the destruction of the house of Jehu and (2) the destruction of the nation of Israel. For the convenience of readers, I will quote the most relevant part in the above link.

The text in dispute contained two prophecies: (1) Yahweh would punish the house of Jehu "for the blood of Jezreel." (2) Yahweh would put an end to the house of Israel. A quick look again at the text will confirm this double prophecy.

Hosea 1:4 And Yahweh said to him [Hosea], "Name him Jezreel; for in a little while [1] I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel, and [2] I will cause the kingdom of the house of Israel to cease.

If Hosea meant what LJ is claiming, then the prophet could have used a few lessons in how to write with clarity, because the adverbial phrase "for the blood of Jezreel" is positioned to give the impression that it modified punish and not both punish and cause. If Hosea had meant that Yahweh would both punish the house of Jehu and cause the kingdom of the house of Israel to cease and that he would do both because of the blood of Jezreel, he should have positioned the disputed phrase where it would clearly indicate that it modified both predictions. The rewording below would communicate the meaning that LJ is now claiming for Hosea 1:4.

And Yahweh said to him, "Name him Jezreel; for because of the blood of Jezreel, in a little while I will punish the house of Jehu and cause the kingdom of the house of Israel to end.

Now there is no doubt that "the blood of Jezreel" was the reason for both predictions of punishment in this rewritten version of the verse, but as the phrase was actually placed in the verse, it leaves the definite impression that the blood of Jezreel was the reason only for the predicted punishment of the house of Jehu. The rest of the book of Hosea focused primarily on Baal worship in Israel, which would be Hosea's reason for Yahweh's causing the house of Israel to cease so that Yahweh could replace it with a nation in which both Judah and Israel would be reunified and worship him.

Now notice that LJ says immediately below exactly what I said above in my rewriting of Hosea 1:4 to make it mean what he is claiming.

Where on earth did I make such a statement?

Where on earth did he make such a statement? Well, what about here?

The solution is simply that there is no contradiction between 2 Kings 10:30 and Hosea 1:4 because "the blood of Jezreel" is not a reference to those killed by Jehu in Jezreel; such an interpretation does not fit the context of this phrase. Rather, Hosea 1:4-5 pronounces judgment against both the house of Jehu and the house of Israel for idolatry.

LJ's "solution" to the Jehu problem was posted on the secular web, so the link above will take readers to where I quoted his statement above in my reply. In the italicized part at the end of the quotation, he clearly said that Hosea 1:4-5 "pronounced judgment against both the house of Jehu and the house of Israel for idolatry, so just where did I distort or misrepresent his position?

He also said the same thing immediately below in his article that I am now replying to.

I have repeatedly said in my article, beginning from the summary of the solution, that Hosea said (a) that the house of Jehu would be punished on account of “the blood of Jezrel,” which I interpreted as the blood of the Israelites killed during the Jehu dynasty because of divine judgment for their idolatry, for which the house of Jehu was held responsible as they presided over the idolatry of the nation; and (b) that God would cause the house of Israel to cease because of their idolatry. How could anyone misunderstand that?

How could it be understood any other way except as I presented it above? LJ claims, as he just said, (1) that "the house of Jehu would be punished on account of 'the blood of Jezreel," (2) that "the blood of Jezreel" was the blood of the Israelites killed because of the allowance of idolatry during the reign of the Jehu dynasty, and (3) that God would cause the house of Israel to end because of its [Israelite] idolatry. Therefore, if Yahweh was going to punish the house of Jehu because its allowance of idolatry had caused "divine judgment" that had killed some of the Israelites and if Yahweh was going to bring the house of Israel to an end because of its idolatry, then Yahweh was going to both punish the house of Jehu and bring the house of Israel to an end because of idolatry. What then is the distinction that LJ is trying to make here? If there is a distinction, I have to admit that it is too subtle for me to see.

This meaning, however, just isn't in the verse, which clearly has Yahweh saying, "(I)n a little while [1] I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel, and [2] I will cause the kingdom of the house of Israel to cease. A clear reason is given for number 1: the house of Jehu would be punished for or because of the blood of Jezreel. However, no reason is given for why Yahweh would bring the house of Israel to an end, and that is because, as I clearly showed in Part 1 of my initial reply to LJ, the rest of the book of Hosea explained that Israel's end would come as a result of its idolatry. I have requoted above my explication of the dual prophecy in Hosea 1:4, but LJ has so far evaded it. I guess his evasion of it is part of his plan not to "deal" with everything I said in my rebuttal article.

The apparent reason for this misunderstanding is getting the antecedent wrong in the following sentence in the “Summary of the Solution” in my article:

This “blood” is avenged upon the house of Jehu because they continued and promoted the cult of calf worship introduced by Jeroboam (and so “made Israel to sin”), which was the chief cause of divine judgment on the northern kingdom by enemy nations such as Syria.

The intended antecedent of the relative pronoun “which” in the above sentence is “the cult of calf worship introduced by Jeroboam.”

I taught English on the college level for 30 years, so I think I am able to determine the antecedents of relative pronouns. In LJ's sentence, the antecedent of the relative pronoun which is actually cult; the other words in the phrase that LJ said was the antecedent serve other functions in the sentence, primarily as modifiers of the antecedent cult. As noted above, LJ's position is that Yahweh had used enemy nations like Syria to kill Israelites because of their participation in idolatry, which LJ has identified as calf worship, and he also contends that the "blood of Jezreel" was the blood of those Israelites whom Yahweh had had the Syrians kill because of their idolatry. Therefore, according to this "interpretation," when Hosea had Yahweh saying that he was going to punish the house of Jehu because of the "blood of Jezreel," he was saying that the Jehu dynasty would be punished for having promoted idolatry in the form of calf worship. If not, why not? Just where, then, have I "misunderstood" LJ's spin on Hosea 1:4?

If this is unclear, I have repeatedly mentioned in my article that idolatry is the cause of the downfall of the northern kingdom, e.g., my expansion of Hosea 1:4-5, reproduced below, so there is no excuse for misunderstanding me on this point:

Yes, LJ did "repeatedly mention" that idolatry was the cause of the downfall of the northern kingdom, but if, as he claims, the "blood of Jezreel" was the blood of the children of Israel whom Yahweh had had the Syrians kill because of the promotion of idolatry by the Jehu dynasty, then idolatry was the reason for the "punishment of the house of Jehu." If not, why not? For some reason, LJ is trying to make a distinction here that his own "interpretation" of the disputed text doesn't justify. English is not his native language, so I wonder if he knows the idiomatic meaning of the phrase "splitting hairs," which he is certainly doing by trying to make a distinction between destroying the house of Jehu for having promoted idolatry and destroying the house of Israel for having practiced idolatry. In both cases idolatry would be the reason for the punishment.

And the Lord said unto him [Hosea], Call his [the firstborn of Gomer] name Jezre-el; for yet a little a [sic] while, and I will avenge the blood of Jezre-el [the children of Israel] upon the house of Jehu [because they, as the chief patrons in Israel of the cult of calf-worship, are principally responsible for the people of Israel sinning against me by following this cult, which caused me to punish Israel by their enemies resulting in their blood being shed], and will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel [by Assyria as a judgment because they are hopelessly wedded to their idols]. And it shall come to pass at that day, that I will break the bow of Israel [crush the military power] in the valley of Jezreel.

This expansion amounts to a spoon feeding of the reader to show my interpretation of this passage, yet FT has somehow managed to misunderstand me.

LJ obviously doesn't know the difference in exegesis, explication of a text by "drawing out" what the text says, and eisegesis, the "explication" of a text by putting into it what the interpreter wants it to say. I have already replied to this "spoon-feeding" spin on the disputed text, so all I need to do here is just requote it.

I think that any person with reasonable critical-thinking skills will see immediately that most of the parenthetical comments in LJ's rewording of Hosea 1:4-5, are what he has read into the text to make it mean what he wants it to say. As I asked once before, I will ask again: Why couldn't Yahweh have inspired his chosen writers to say exactly what they meant to say? If the uninspired Leonard Jayawardena could rewrite the passage as clearly as he did above, why couldn't the prophet Hosea have written it just as clearly? Well, the answer to this question is obvious: He could have if that was what he had meant to say. The fact that he didn't write it that way should tell readers with reasonable critical-thinking skills that he didn't mean it to say that. A huge problem for LJ all through his article has been his inability to cite or quote a single passage of scripture where any biblical writer ever unequivocally used the expression "the blood of Jezreel" in the sense that LJ has been trying to twist it into meaning (Till's third rebuttal).

This is just one of several places where I asked LJ to cite or quote a single passage of scripture where any biblical writer ever unequivocally used the expression "the blood of Jezreel" in the sense that LJ has arbitrarily assigned it, but he has refused to comply with the request. I assume readers understand that he has ignored the request because he knows that there was no such usage of the phrase in the Old Testament.

The readers should consider this: How can a man incapable of properly understanding the principal thesis of his opponent, which is stated in plain language, be expected to understand a large book like the Bible....

I have now analyzed several times LJ's "spoon-feeding" version of Hosea 1:4 to show that he has read into it what he wants it to say, and in so doing, he has clearly attributed Hosea's prediction of punishment on the house of Jehu and the end of the house of Israel to just one cause, which is idolatry. In the one case, as per LJ's own rewriting of the verse, Hosea predicted that the house of Jehu would be punished "for the blood of Jezreel," which LJ arbitrarily claims was the blood of the children of Israel whom Yahweh had allowed the Syrians to kill because of the toleration of idolatry by the Jehu dynasty. In the other case, also according to LJ's rewritten version, the house of Israel would be brought to an end because... well, because of its idolatry. Now if that isn't what LJ was clearly saying in his "spoon-feeding" version, he needs to revise his rewritten version to make it say what he meant. Here are his own reasons for the punishments, which I have cut and pasted from his "spoon-feeding" version above. Notice in particular the underlined parts.

  1. I [Yahweh] will avenge the blood of Jezre-el [the children of Israel] upon the house of Jehu [because they, as the chief patrons in Israel of the cult of calf-worship, are principally responsible for the people of Israel sinning against me by following this cult, which caused me to punish Israel by their enemies resulting in their blood being shed].

  2. (A)nd [I Yahweh] will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel [by Assyria as a judgment because they are hopelessly wedded to their idols].

Clearly, LJ's rewritten version attributed both punishments to the same cause, i. e, idolatry. The house of Jehu would be punished because it as the "chief patron of the cult of calf-worship was principally responsible for the people of Israel sinning against Yahweh by following this cult," and the house of Israel would be punished because "it was hopeless wedded to its idols." In other words, both punishments were being imposed because of idolatry. If I have misunderstood LJ, as he claimed, that misundstanding resulted from his inability to write what he meant, so if he continues to think that I have misunderstood him, he needs to state his position in language that can be understood, but blaming me for understanding his position statement to mean exactly what it says isn't going to accomplish anything but convince readers that he is hardly qualified to claim that he sees meaning in a biblical passage that has eluded scholars for centuries.

[How can a man incapable of properly understanding the principal thesis of his opponent, which is stated in plain language, be expected to understand a large book like the Bible,] which requires a lifetime of diligent study and even then will reveal its message only to those who read it with complete intellectual honesty, free from all prejudice, personal agendas and axes to grind?

I began studying the Bible very seriously when I was sixteen, and I attended two Bible colleges after graduating from high school. I have continued my personal Bible studies ever since, and hardly a day has gone by that I did not study some part of the Bible. That I am now 74 years old should give LJ an idea of just how much time I have been seriously studying the Bible. I submit to readers that the many articles that I have written and posted on this website could not have been written by someone with only superficial knowledge of the Bible. I agree that "diligent study" is necessary to understand the Bible, although I doubt that a lifetime of study is necessary. If that were so, no one who is still living could claim to understand the Bible, and that would include even LJ.

As for the need of intellectual honesty, free from all prejudice, personal agendas and axes to grind, I agree with that too. Having spent 30 years teaching literature on the college level, I certainly know that intellectual honesty is needed to understand complex literature, but I doubt that LJ has that honesty and freedom from prejudice, personal agendas, and axes to grind. I will leave it to readers to decide which of us is more likely to meet LJ's own standards necessary to acquire biblical knowledge. As I said above, I attended two Bible colleges. I graduated from one of them and spent 12 years as a preacher and foreign missionary. During that time, I was a strict biblical inerrantist, but when my biblical studies--which didn't take me a lifetime--led me to see discrepancies in the Bible, I couldn't conscientiously continue in the profession that I had trained for in college, because my personal integrity wouldn't allow me to stand in the pulpit and say things that I knew were not true. At great expense to me and my family, I quit the ministry and began my teaching career. I would think that LJ could see that these were not the actions of an intellectually dishonest person, who allowed himself to be ruled by prejudice, personal agendas, and "axes" that he wanted to grind. I don't know much about LJ's personal life, except that he has been rather frantically trying to show that Hosea 1:4 is not inconsistent with 2 Kings 10:30. When his first attempt to resolve the inconsistency failed so obviously that even he had to admit that it wouldn't work, he went back to the drawing board and then returned with the interpretation that he is now trying to peddle. I wouldn't exactly call that the actions of someone who is free of prejudice, personal agendas, and axes to grind.

FT’s rebuttal contains other misinterpretations and distortions of my article, some of which I will be dealing with in my reply.

If LJ points out "other misinterpretations and distortions" of his article, I will apologize for them, but if analysis of those alleged distortions indicate that I properly interpreted what he wrote in his article, perhaps he will be willing to apologize to me.

FT says that he taught writing, but, for the sake of his students, I am glad that he didn’t teach comprehension!

Oh, I did teach "comprehension," because I also taught American literature on the college level for thirty years. I think that those years of experience, along with the many college courses in literary interpretation that I had taken to prepare for my second career, not even to mention my having studied hermeneutics in Bible college, have given me some ability to read and understand literature. A basic principal of literary interpretation that I learned is that the words in a text are to be understood literally unless there are compelling reasons to assign figurative meaning. For example, when the psalmist said that Yahweh was his "rock and fortress" (Ps. 18:2), we know that he was using rock and fortress figurative, because the literal meanings of these words would have the psalmist absurdly saying that he through that his god Yahweh was made of minerals. LJ's spin on "the blood of Jezreel" in Hosea 1:4, however, puts a figurative meaning of the word Jezreel for no other reason except to make this verse consistent with 2 Kings 10:30, but a desire for inerrancy in a text is not a recognized literary reason to asssign figurative meaning to words. The fact that LJ cannot cite a single example of where the name Jezreel was unequivocally used to mean "the blood of the children of Israel" is a clear indication that his spin on Hosea 1:4 is based on nothing except his desire to have this verse be consistent with 2 Kings 10:30.

This basic principle of interpretation is not just something that Farrell Till has made up; it is a widely recognized principle of sound hermeneutics. A Christian website "Introduction to Biblical Heremeneutics" stated this principle as its "golden rule of interpretation."

Principle #1: The Literal Interpretation Principle

We take the Bible at face value. We generally take everyday things in life as literal or at face value. This is a common sense approach. Even symbols and allegories in the Bible are based on the literal meaning of the scripture; thus the literal meaning is foundational to any symbolic or allegorical meaning.

The golden rule of interpretation is: “When the plain sense of the scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense.” Therefore, take every word at its primary, usual, meaning, unless the facts of the immediate context, studied in the light of related passages and fundamental truths, clearly indicate otherwise.

I couldn't estimate how many times I heard or read in books this principle of interpretation in both Bible-college classes and the courses that I took in literary interpretation, so it is a recognized basic principle of literary interpretation. I doubt, however, that LJ will be able to find any authority in literary interpretation who would say that a desire to have inerrancy in a text is a legitimate reason to assign figurative or symbolic meanings to words, so if he persists in claiming that Jezreel was used figuratively to mean children of Israel in Hosea 1:4, then the burden is on him to show compelling reasons to assign figurative meaning to it. I am not going to relent on this demand until LJ responds to it.

He even quotes me inaccurately and inserts “sic” within brackets after his own error! He may be the only writer in the history of mankind to have done this! In p.11 of my article, I wrote, “(Compare the above with 2 Kings 10:30: ‘Because thou hast done well …’)." But in p. 2 of Part 4, FT quotes me as follows: “(Compare the above with the deferred punishment are [sic] found in 2 Kings 10:30: ‘Because thou hast done well …’)”!

This mistake happened, because I originally quoted the statement according to how his source page on the secular web had copied when I imported it to my html program. When I learned that the mistake had resulted from a computer glinch and not from the way he had written it, I immediately corrected it. The link above will confirm that the change was made. As readers can see, LJ has spent and continues to spend further along much of his time trying to find fault with me, so I consider his comment above just a reflection of his frustration with me personally because he has no sensible replies to my rebuttal arguments.

At times, he loses sight of the object of this discussion, and cannot resist mentioning his own ignorant opinions, such as the following statements:

I consider this statement to be just another reflection of LJ's inability to respond sensibly to my rebuttal arguments. Just whose opinions are "ignorant," those of mine that are based on recognizably sound principles of interpretation, or LJ's, which are based on a desire for Hosea 1:4 to be consistent with 2 Kings 10:30?

LJ obviously objects to my using sic to mark his mistakes, so I will point out here that the sics below have been inserted where he mispunctuated material that he was quoting from my rebuttals as examples of my "ignorant opinions."

Till:
The people of that time thought that national misfortune was the result of their god’s displeasure with the nation, so when calamities like droughts, famines, military setbacks, etc. happened, the prophets always looked for something to blame it on. Idolatrous practices were an easy target to blame, but that the prophets were simply interpreting contemporary events through the superstitious beliefs of their time is evident in statements like…. [sic] (p. 26, Part 2) [sic]

LJ complained that I distorted and misrepresented him, but the ellipsis ending the quotation above so truncated my statement that the point I was making about ancient superstition was distorted. The italicized lines below were cut from the my original statement.

Till:
(T)hat the prophets were simply interpreting contemporary events through the superstitious beliefs of their time when they affixed such blame is evident in statements like the writer's explanation for why Yahweh didn't destroy the northern kingdom during the reign of Jehoahaz of Israel, who didn't depart from the first Jeroboam's sin of worshiping the golden calves.

Why did LJ leave off the italicized part that I have now reinserted? I suspect that he cut it off because he knew that he had no sensible explanation for why if Yahweh was so angry at Jehu's dynasty for its promotion of the cult of calf worship, he didn't destroy the northern kingdom right away, during the reign of Jehu's son Jehoahaz--who had continued the cult of calf worship begun by Jeroboam--rather than waiting for three more generations of the Jehu dynasty to reign. What was the reason that was given for Yahweh's allowing Jehoahaz's reign to continue? That answer was also in the part of my quotation that LJ truncated.

Till:
2 Kings 13:22 Now King Hazael of Aram oppressed Israel all the days of Jehoahaz. 23 But Yahweh was gracious to them and had compassion on them; he turned toward them, because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and would not destroy them; nor has he banished them from his presence until now.

Throughout human history, kingdoms have arisen, flourished, declined, and fallen for various complex social and political reasons. In biblical times, superstition also flourished, so to the minds of biblical prophets, nothing happened just because it happened. The idea expressed in the English idom "shit happens" was inconceivable to their minds. They believed that the hand of their god was involved in every little piddling event; hence, if a kingdom suffered defeat or conquest during the reign of a king who promoted idolatry, biblical writers saw this calamity as punishment from their god for the practice of idolatry. On the other hand, if nothing of serious consequence happened during the reign of a king who promoted idolatry, the prophets believed that their god had to have had some reason for letting this sin go unpunished. In the case of Jehoahaz, who had continued the idolatrous practices begun by Jeroboam (2 Kings 13:1-2), Yahweh would not destroy his kingdom "because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." In the cases of corrupt Judean kings like Abijam (1 Kings 15:1-4) and Jehoram (2 Kings 8:18-19), the writer(s) of Kings thought that Yahweh allowed their kingdoms to continue for the sake of David, who had been promised that he would have a lamp in Jerusalem forever (1 Kings 11:36). In the course of political events, however, both the northern and southern kingdoms fell to conquests, Israel to Assyria (2 Kings 17:1-18) and Judah to Babylon (2 Kings 24:10-17). When these conquests occurred, it seemed that Yahweh no longer wanted to potect Israel "because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob" and no longer wanted to keep a lamp for David in Jerusalem, but the prophets needed something to blame these national calamities on, so they picked the house of Jehu to blame for the fall of the northern kingdom and the wickedness of king Manasseh (2 Kings 23:26-27; 2 Kings 24:3-4). Excuses--they always had excuses to explain national calamities.

This is the kind of silliness that LJ is trying to defend, and so that is why he truncated my argument. Had he addressed the totality of the argument, he would have had to confront the problem of why Yahweh wouldn't punish Israel for idolatry condoned by kings Jehoahaz (2 Kings 13:1-2), Joash (2 Kings 13:10-12), and Jeroboam II (2 Kings 14:23-27), because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jocob, but then, suddenly, along came king Zechariah , and Yahweh no longer cared about his covenant with the patriarchs, so he brought the house of Jehu to an end (2 Kings 15:8-12). The only explanation that LJ could give for this inconsistency in the way his god Yahweh deals with mankind would be that he had promised Jehu that his descendants to the fourth generation would sit on the throne of Israel as a reward for Jehu's having done well in destroying the house of Ahab (2 Kings 10:30), but that would merely raise the question of why Yahweh would have ordered the destruction of the house of Ahab and then replaced it with a dynasty that Yahweh knew would promote the same cult worship that had prompted him to order the massacre of the house of Ahab. Just why would the omniscient Yahweh,who presumably can see into the future, have promised Jehu that his sons to the fourth generation would sit on the throne of Israel if he had known that Jehu's descendants would be just as idolatrous? Trying to make sense of the Bible will quickly become an exercise in futility for those who undertake to defend it as the inspired "word of God," so I suspect that LJ wants to avoid issues like this that expose the silliness of his belief that the Bible was divinely inspired.

Now here are the remaining quotations from my rebuttal articles, which LJ thinks are just expressions of my "ignorant opinions."

Till:
That people living in our more enlightened times would believe such nonsense is almost too incomprehensible to imagine, but LJ's acceptance at face value of what Old Testament writers claimed had caused the fall of the nations is evidence that some today actually believe such silliness.…

My analysis above of the reigns of Jehu’s dynasty and the excuse-making of the author of 2 Kings shows just how silly LJ’s belief is. The nation of Israel ended because of changes in military power that no longer enabled it to resist invasions [and God had nothing to do with it]... [sic] He claims that he isn’t a biblical inerrantist, but he seems willing to grab any straw in sight to keep from admitting that the Bible contains discrepancies and downright silliness.[sic] [p. 27, Part 2] [sic]

If LJ thinks that rejecting the notion that gods are responsible for the rise and fall of nations is an "ignorant opinion," all I can say is that he has my sympathy, which I extend to all people who let their lives be ruled by superstitions. If he will present some verifiable evidence that gods do indeed cause nations to rise and fall, I will gladly apologize to him. He must understand, however, that the mere "ignorant opinions" of biblical writers who thought that their god controlled the destinies of nations is not verifiable evidence.

Here now is LJ's final quotation of my "ignorant opinions."

Till:
LJ says that he is not a biblical inerrantist, but he seems to think that ever [sic] scripture that he cites should be considered historically accurate. To believe, however, that everything happened as the author(s) of 1 Kings claimed is to accept naively a superstitious view of history. [sic] [p. 26, Part 4; translation: If the biblical statements cited by LJ are taken at their face value, ignoring the drivel I have written, they support (some aspect of) the solution proposed by him.]

LJ's italicized "translation" of my "ignorant opinion" is rather ironic, because if the "biblical statement" in Hosea 1:4 is taken at face value, it will in no way "support" what he is proposing as a solution to the Jehu problem. As already noticed several times, this verse says, "Call his [the son of Hosea] name Jezreel, for yet a little while, and I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu, and will cause the kingdom of the house of Israel to cease." To see the "blood of Jezreel" as a reference to the massacre at Jezreel is to "take at face value" the expression and especially so since it is used as the reason for taking vengence on a house or dynasty begun by the person who had perpetrated a bloody massacre in the city named Jezreel, which is what the name was most likely referring to. This name appears 36 times in the Old Testament and except for the one time that it was used as the name of Gomer's son and the two times that it represented conditions that would bring about the restoration of a unified kingdom (a meaning that I will explicate later), it always referred either to the city or the valley in which the city was located. The only "blood of Jezreel" on biblical record was shed during Jehu's massacre of the royal family, so to interpret the "blood of Jezreel" to mean the blood of those killed in Jehu's massacre is to take the expression at its "face value." When LJ tries to put a figurative spin on the word for no reason except to eliminate a biblical discrepancy, he is the one who is not taking the expression "blood of Jezreel" at its face value.

LJ also conveniently truncated the last quotation above, this time without even inserting an ellipsis where the omission occurred. Here is the rest of the statement.

Knowing what had already happened when the books of Kings were written, the author(s) interpreted the fates of Israelite kings according to their superstitious belief that Yahweh had controlled their destinies. Jeroboam had enjoyed a long reign and had died a natural death, so this was seen as Yahweh's will. Jeroboam's son Nadab, however, had been assassinated by Baasha after a reign of only two years, so the writer(s) interpreted this as Yahweh's doings. Then Baasha, in turn, was assassinated by Zemri after only two years, so the writer(s) also saw this as a judgment from Yahweh for Baasha's having allowed Jeroboam's golden-calf shrines to remain at Bethel and Dan. Hindsight made it rather easy for the author(s) to apply their ancient superstitions to the reigns of these kings, but it apparently hasn't occurred to LJ that Yahweh was rather inconsistent in allowing the king who had instituted golden-calf worship to live a long life and die a natural death while later limiting his successor son to just a two-year reign before orchestrating his assassination and then allowing his assassin Baasha to reign for 24 years (1 Kings 15:33), die a natural death (16:6), orchestrate the assassination of Baasha's son Elah after just a two-year reign (16:8,10), and so on. LJ believes all of this? If so, common sense must not exist in his world.

This is a fly in the ointment of LJ's solution that he obviously doesn't want to address, because if he tries to explain it, he will have to cite 2 Kings 10:30, which says that Yahweh promised Jehu that he would let his sons to the fourth generation reign in Israel, but why did he promise this? The same verse says that he did so because he was pleased with Jehu's destruction of the house of Ahab. Why would this have pleased Yahweh? Well, the house of Ahab perpetrated the worship of idols, but if promoting the worship of idols had so provoked Yahweh to anger at the house of Ahab, why would he have promised to let four generations of the house of Jehu reign in Israel when he, in his omniscient, would have known that these generations would continue to allow the same kind of idol worship that had been promoted by the house of Ahab? It doesn't make any sense.

I am just trying to get LJ to confront the inconsistent silliness of the position that he is trying to defend. It uses a highly unlikely interpretation of "the blood of Jezreel" to resolve a discrepancy, but in so doing just creates another inconsistency.

The objective of this discussion is to determine whether there is a contradiction between 2 Kings 10:30 and Hosea 1:4. If statements X, Y and Z in the Bible help us to resolve the apparent contradiction between these two passages, then that is all that matters as far as this discussion is concerned.

To have a point here, LJ must show us something besides his mere arbitrary assertion that statements X, Y, and Z in the Bible mean what he says they do, and he has yet to do that. He doesn't seem to realize that, in the case at hand, "the blood of Jezreel" doesn't mean the blood of the children of Israel killed by the Assyrians just because he says that it does. Besides that little annoyance in his solution to the Jehu discrepancy, he is confronted with the problem of finding plausible value in a solution that simply creates another problem. Why would Yahweh have ordered the destruction of the house of Ahab and then allowed descendants of the man who destroyed the house of Ahab to promote for four generation the same kind of idolatry that had led him to commission Jehu to destroy the house of Ahab, and why would the omniscient, infinitely benevolent Yahweh have made a governmental change like this knowing that the dynasty that he had selected to replace the idolatrous house of Ahab would be no improvement over the other one and would eventually cause him to destroy the entire northern kingdom? Bible defenders like LJ apparently never think about absurdities like this in their belief that the Bible was inspired by an omniscient deity.

FT’s opinions on the beliefs reflected in these statements are totally irrelevant and a complete waste of time.

I suppose that LJ expects us to think that his opinions in these matter are totally relevant and a valuable investment of our time. The fact is that this "reply" that I am now answering point by point was so evasive and downright ridiculous in places that I seriously considered just ignoring it, but I finally decided to answer it in minute detail to relegate it to the trash heap where it belongs. However, unless LJ replies in kind to this rebuttal and produces textual evidence to support his claim that "the blood of Jezreel" in Hosea 1:4 meant the blood of the children of Israel who had been killed by the Assyrians, I will waste no more time on an entirely arbitrary position.

What is important is whether “LJ’s silly belief” accurately reflects the position of the Bible on the issue involved.

We are waiting for LJ to show us reasonable textual evidence that his spin on "the blood of Jezreel" does accurately reflect the position of the Bible. I suspect that most readers are astute enough to know that if LJ had any such evidence, he would have produced it long ago.

Let us say, for example, that the Bible contains a statement that the moon is made of cheese. If this helps to resolve an alleged contradiction between two or more biblical passages, the question of the absurdity of this statement is irrelevant to the issue of the alleged contradiction as long as that it is the Bible’s teaching consistently. Whether this statement is borne out by the facts of science is the subject of a separate discussion.

Let's suppose that biblical text A said that the moon is made of cheese but text B said that it was made of wood, and to try to harmonize these two texts, LJ should argue that the word wood in the one text was being used symbolically to mean cheese, but he could give no textual evidence that this meaning was intended. We would then have a better parallel to what LJ has been trying to do in the matter of "the blood of Jezreel" in Hosea 1:4. Furthermore, if the Bible did say that the moon is made of cheese, why would LJ want to invest hours of his time arguing that this statement is consistent with all other biblical passages? That is a perplexing situation that LJ, who says that he is a biblical errantist, has yet to explain.

It is regrettable that FT has to be told the basics of a discussion of this nature. Or is it that he is trying to introduce red herrings in the hope that they would in some way weaken the force of my arguments in the mind of the reader?

There has been no force in LJ's arguments to "weaken," because he has argued by assertion and resisted all efforts to get him to cite some kind of textual proof that "the blood of Jezreel" in Hosea 1:4 was used figuratively to mean the blood of the children of Israel whom the Assyrians had killed. As for my "introduc[ing] red herrings," LJ has repeatedly indicated his belief that Yahweh destroyed the northern kingdom because of the promotion of idolatry by the Jehu dynasty, so that has become a key element in his "solution." To point out the absurdity of believing that ancient superstitions were instrumental in the destruction of a kingdom is certainly not a red herring. It is regrettable that LJ has to be told the basics of a discussion of this nature.

I request FT to desist from making such unnecessary comments, both to shorten what he writes and to avoid causing annoyance.

Both to shorten what he writes and to avoid annoyance, I request that LJ desist in repeating a "solution" to a descrepancy that has only his personal opinion to support it.

He should know that there are people who know science much more than him [sic] but yet believe in the authenticity of the biblical miracles and prophecies, and the views expressed by the prophets, which he may consider “silly.”

LJ made snide comments about my background in teaching writing, so I can't resist pointing out here that he apparently doesn't know when to use the nominative case of pronouns. His sentence above was saying that "there are people who know science much more than he does, but yet believe...." Hence, he needed the nomination form [he] of the third-person singular pronoun rather than the objective [him]. He is certainly right about people with backgrounds in science who still believe in the authenticity of biblical miracles and prophecies, but there are also people with scientific backgrounds who believe in the authenticity of Hindu miracles and prophecies. The same is true of Mormonism and Islam and most other religions. Since LJ lives in Shri Lanka, he is probably aware of the myth in the Ramayana about a bridge that monkeys built between India and Shri Lanka so that prince Ram could cross it to rescue his wife Sita, who had been kidnapped by Ravana, the demon king of Lanka. This myth recently became politically controversial when the government of India wanted to dredge a channel in the shallow water between India and Shri Lanka so that ships could save time going between western and eastern India without having to circle around Shri Lanka. This project, however, faced political opposition from believers in the historicity of Hindu myths, who thought that the land ridge in shallow water under the channel was the remains of the bridge built by the monkeys. To get legal approval of the project, officials filed a brief with the supreme court of India in which the government contended that the myth about this land bridge should not be interpreted literally. The result was a religious furor that caused rioting in which two people were killed. To restore calm, the government withdrew its brief.

Since LJ is such a firm Bible believer, I suspect that he would not think that the myth about this monkey bridge is an actual historical event, but I also suspect that if he researched the matter, he would find people with scientific backgrounds who do believe that the event really happened. This should enable him to understand that truth in religious stories cannot be established by appealing to scientifically educated people who believe them.

(By the way, are we really living in “more enlightened times”? If so, how do you explain many people believing in such scientifically impossible nonsense as evolution?)

Evolution is "scientifically impossible nonsense"? Worldwide, the scientific community, regardless of geographical location or dominant religion in the respective countries, accept evolution as the most probable explanation for the origin of species, so I have a suggestion for LJ. Instead of trying to establish the truth of religious nonsense, why doesn't he devote his time to writing a scientific refutation of evolution that can withstand the scrutiny of peer approval that all scientifically sound treatises must be subjected to? After he has done this and has had his refutation supplant evolution in the worldwide scientific community, he can look forward to going down in scientific history with such notables as Galileo, Copernicus, Newton, Einstein, and such like. Meanwhile, he may want to consider that the present-day rejection of the theory of evolution is just one more example of how religion has tended to reject scientific discoveries, such as Copernicus's theory of heliocentrism, when they conflicted with prevailing religious beliefs. Just as controversial scientific discoveries like heliocentrism eventually came to be accepted even by organized religions, so evolution will someday overcome the ridicule of creationists, and its opponents like LJ will be viewed by history as negatively as we now consider those who ignorantly opposed Copernicus and Galileo.

Further, such unproved and unprovable theories such as the Documentary Hypothesis, which FT has embraced, have no place in a discussion on Bible contradictions, in which every statement in the Bible should be taken at its face value, e.g., the laws of the Pentateuch are attributed in the Pentateuch itself (and elsewhere in the Bible) to Moses and so we accept that at least when considering whether an alleged Bible contradiction is real. However, I am in agreement with the Documentary Hypothesis at least to the extent that the Pentateuch in its entirety was not written by Moses, and there is nothing either in the Pentateuch or in the rest of the Bible which requires us to believe that the Pentateuch in its entirety was written by Moses.

So if LJ agrees with the Documentary Hypothesis, why drag it into this discussion?

I will begin my reply with my current exegesis of the relevant passages in Hosea’s book and FT’s “explications” of the same, as I understand them, for comparison. Some of his "explications," including those dealing with verses central to the Jehu issue, are vague and hence difficult to respond to.

Now we know why LJ didn't respond to some of my rebuttal points. He found them "difficult to respond to." If, however, he doesn't understand my explications of passages in Hosea, I will be glad to explain them further. All he has to do is ask.

In this article I present further objections to the interpretation of “the blood of Jezrel" as the massacre at Jezreel by Jehu. The first one of these objections, which begins about one third of the way through the article, demonstrates that the usage of the expression “the blood of …” [sic] elsewhere in the Bible renders “the massacre at Jezreel" by Jehu, etc. as a translation of the phrase “the blood of Jezreel” highly questionable.

Nothing is questionable just because LJ says that it is, so we will expect him to explain just why we should not accept the "face value" meaning of the expression "blood of Jezreel."

“The blood of Jezreel” revisited:

At this point, LJ began recycling his previous interpretations of passages in the book of Hosea, all of which have already been answered, so as I go through them again, I should point out here that biblical scholars generally recognize that the Hebrew text of this book has been so badly preserved and disrupted with unauthentic interpolations that it is at times barely intelligible. The Jewish Encyclopedia addressed the problem of interpolations in Hosea.

The authenticity of Hosea's prophecies is evidenced by their eminently individualistic and subjective character, consistently maintained throughout. Various additions, however, seem to have crept into the original text. The enumeration of the four kings of Judah—Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah—is certainly spurious, Hosea being thereby made a contemporary of Isaiah. In the text itself, also, there appear various distinct interpolations. The passage i. 7, indeed, seems to be a Judaic addition, referring to the saving of Jerusalem from the hands of the Assyrians by Hezekiah in 701 B.C. It has been objected that Judah was really less guilty in comparison with Israel, and could therefore be set up as a contrast, implying not a delay of judgment, but an intensification of it.

Eerdmans Bible Dictionary, although recognizing that some defend the authenticity of this entire book, noted that "(t)extual corruption, perhaps introduced by Judahite scribes, has long been blamed for difficulties in translating [chapters considered to be interpolations]" (1987, pp. 504-505). In quoting these or any other sources on the book of Hosea, I don't intend to imply that their conclusions are definitive. I simply want readers to understand further along--when we are evaluating LJ's speculative arguments--that he is basing many of his key points on dubious interpretations of passages in Hosea that are generally recognized to be spurious. Those who want to study the problem of interpolations in the book of Hosea can consult Bible versions like the NAB, RSV, JPS, Jerusalem, and Moffatt's, among others, which rearrange verses, omit sections, or insert footnotes to identify passages thought to be unauthentic insertions.

Later, in places where LJ bases in whole or in part dubious interpretations on suspected redactions, I will point out that he cannot assign a meaning to Hosea 1:4, which is generally accepted as an authentic text, on the basis of what someone else said in passages that were not written by the prophet Hosea. Needless to say, that is an unsound approach to literary interpretation.

Hosea 1:1-3 reads

1The word of the Lord that came unto Hosea, the son of Be-eri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel. 2The beginning of the word of the Lord by Hosea. And the Lord said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the Lord. 3So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim…. [sic] [KJV] [sic]

Hosea’s ministry began with God commanding him to take a “wife of whoredoms” and have “children of whoredoms” by her to symbolize the fact that the northern kingdom had departed from God and committed idolatry. We will do well to firmly bear in mind this fact because whatever is said in the following verses about this significant family that Hosea was to have must concern the idolatry of the nation. Hosea married Gomer, a woman who turned out to be an unfaithful wife—hence a “wife of whoredoms.” Hosea represented God and Gomer represented the kingdom of Israel viewed as a mother (the individual subjects of the kingdom being her children), whose infidelity symbolically represented the fact that the kingdom had departed from God and committed “whoredom” spiritually. Israel was God’s wife (Ezekiel 16:8), and so to forsake God and go after other gods was spiritual harlotry (or adultery) (Exodus 16:8; Deuteronomy 31:16). The Hebrew word translated “whoredoms” does not necessarily mean that Gomer was or became a prostitute, because the verb form from which this word is derived (zânâh) is used in some places in the OT to mean “to commit adultery” (Judges 19:2) or simply to mean “to fornicate” (Deuteronomy 22:21). Compare with Hosea 2:2, where Gomer’s “adulteries” are parallel to her “whoredoms,” just as “neither am I her husband” is parallel to “she is not my wife.” Even if Gomer engaged in prostitution after marrying Hosea, we need not identify this, as some do, with the ritual prostitution carried on in connection with Baal worship, because what is pertinent to this enacted prophecy is Gomer’s unfaithfulness to Hosea, which in turn symbolizes Israel’s unfaithfulness to God, her husband.

LJ, who has complained that my replies are too long and tedious, has wasted a lot of space here covering ground that has already been plowed. Throughout my replies to LJ's first defense of his new "solution" to the Jehu problem, I agreed that the relationship between Hosea and his wife Gomer symbolically represented Israel's infidelity to Yahweh through its idolatry. Readers can check here to see that I clearly agreed with LJ on this view of the book of Hosea.

Hosea's ministry began with God commanding him to take a "wife of whoredoms" and have "children of whoredoms" by her. This was to symbolically represent the fact that the northern kingdom, represented by Gomer, had departed from the true God and committed "whoredom" spiritually (Hosea 1:2).

Yes, that was clearly Hosea's view, and it was because of this symbolic "whoredom" that he thought that Yahweh was going to "cause the kingdom of the house of Israel to end," but the first half of the prophecy was that Yahweh would punish the house of Jehu "for the blood of Jezreel." As I showed here, the phrase "for the blood of Jezreel" is placed within the sentence so that it can modify only the first prediction, i. e., punishment of the house of Jehu. If my explication is incorrect, LJ must show where it went wrong, as I have shown where his erred.

Those who click the last link above will be taken to just one of the places where I urged LJ to address the placement of "for the blood of Jezreel" in Hosea 1:4. I have repeatedly pointed out that there were two predictions in Hosea 1:4: (1) Yahweh would punish the house of Jehu "for the blood of Jezreel." (2) Yahweh would cause the house of Israel to end. As I showed in the quotation above from LJ's first article on this issue, he has said that "Hosea 1:4-5 pronounces judgment against both the house of Jehu and the house of Israel for idolatry." It is therefore incumbent on him to address the placement of "the blood of Jezreel" to show that it applied to or, as we would say in English, modified both predictions in this verse. I have contended that it referred to or modified only the first prediction, i. e., punishment of the house of Jehu.

Gomer gave birth to three children, the last two of whom were evidently not Hosea’s—hence “children of whoredoms,” i.e., adultery (v. 2), as we learn from Hosea 1:3-9:

In his original article on his latest spin on Hosea 1:4, LJ brought up here his belief that Hosea was the father of only Gomer's first child. The link just given will take readers to my comments on this speculation where they can see that the actual parentage of Gomer's children has no relevance to whether "the blood of Jezreel" meant the blood of the children of Israel who had been killed by the Assyrians. However, since he tried below to make some dubious point on this assumption I will address it.

3...[Gomer] conceived and bare him a son. 4And the Lord said unto him, Call his name Jezreel: for yet a little while, and I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu, and will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel. 5And it shall come to pass at that day, that I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel. 6And she conceived again, and bare a daughter. And God said unto him, Call her name Lo-ruhamah: for I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel; but I will utterly take them away. 7But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will save them by the Lord their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen. 8Now when she had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she conceived, and bare a son. 9Then said God, Call his name Lo-ammi: for ye are not My people, and I will not be your God. [sic] [KJV] [sic]

Note that, in the case of Jezreel’s birth, it is said that Gomer "bore him [Hosea] a son” (v. 3), whereas the other two children, viz. Lo-ruha-mah and Lo-ammi, she conceived and simply “bore” (“him” omitted). This suggests that the second and the third child were not Hosea’s, which is confirmed by the etymological meanings of their names.

This is really stretching to find a point, because there are numerous examples of births in the Old Testament, which simply stated that So-And-So conceived and bore a son or daughter without specifically saying that the mother had borne the child to "him" [her husband].

Genesis 4:1 Now the man knew his wife Eve, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, "I have produced a man with the help of Yahweh." 2 Next she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a tiller of the ground.

Genesis 4:17 Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch; and he built a city, and named it Enoch after his son Enoch.

Genesis 29:32 Leah conceived and bore a son, and she named him Reuben....

Genesis 3:21 Afterwards she [Leah] bore a daughter, and named her Dinah.

Genesis 38:3 She conceived and bore a son; and he named him Er. 4 Again she conceived and bore a son whom she named Onan. 5 Yet again she bore a son, and she named him Shelah.

Exodus 2:2 The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw that he was a fine baby, she hid him three months.

Judges 13:24 The woman bore a son, and named him Samson. The boy grew, and Yahweh blessed him.

1 Samuel 2:21 And Yahweh took note of Hannah; she conceived and bore three sons and two daughters.

I could quote other examples, but these are sufficient to show that LJ has a tendency to see implications in the Bible that aren't really there. If he is wrong in a rather simple biblical matter like this, we certainly can't have much confidence in the complex, unlikely spin that he has put onto Hosea 1:4.

The name of Gomer’s second child, “Lo-ruhamah,” means “Not loved or pitied” or “uncompassionated.”

Yes, it does. So what? How does the definition of this name make "the blood of Jezreel" in Hosea 1:4 mean the blood of the children of Israel who had been killed by the Assyrians?

The Hebrew for “Lo-ruhamah” is לׂארֻחָמָה, from לׂא (particle meaning “not”) and רָחַם, a verb meaning “to compassionate,” “to have pity,” such pity as a father has for his children (Psalm 103:13, where the same Hebrew verb is used).

I suspect that LJ is appealing to Hebrew in order to make readers believe that he is knowledgeable enough in this language to see nuances that elude most readers, but we have already seen above that he doesn't understand the functions of "absolute" and "construct" nouns in Hebrew. Furthermore, his use of the Hebrew alphabet doesn't indicate any special expertise in the original language, because doing this is as simple as knowing how to copy the proper codes. I was able to spell the name לא רחמה in the Hebrew alphabet here by just finding on the internet html codes for the Hebraic characters and then copying them into this article; therefore, readers should not assume that because LJ is spelling words with the original alphabet, he must be an authority in Hebrew. That would be an assumption not justified by LJ's mere appeal to the Hebrew text, because a popular ploy of biblicists is to imply in their defenses of the Bible that those poor, ignoramuses who reject the Bible would know better if they just knew the biblical languages well enough to see the nuances that biblical "apologists" can see in the original languages.

God describes himself as the merciful God of the covenant (Exodus 33:19; 34:6; Deuteronomy 13:17—same or related Hebrew words used in these verses), the one who loves Israel with parental love. The naming thus represents a reversal of the mercy or compassion that God had earlier shown Israel. As Hosea would not have filial love for Lo-ruhamah as she was not his child, so God would not have “pity” upon the house of Israel as they were not his children spiritually because of their idolatry.

We just saw LJ unjustifiably conclude that Hosea wasn't the actual father of Lo-ruhamah, because the text did not say that Gomer bore her second child to "him," and now we see LJ grabbing another straw to try to make the text say that "Hosea would not have filial love for Lo-ruhamah" because she was not his child. He reached this incorrect conclusion from a misunderstanding of the word מחר [mercy], which he thinks referred only to compassion or mercy that resulted from parental love, but this is just another example of a linguistic conclusion that he reached after only superficially investigating how this word was used in the Old Testament. It was often used to indicate human compassion or mercy toward those who were not the offspring of the one showing mercy. The word מחר or its derivatives in the original text, where it referred to the compassion or mercy of conquerers, are shown by italicized print.

Jeremiah 6:22 Thus says Yahweh: See, a people is coming from the land of the north, a great nation is stirring from the farthest parts of the earth. 23 They grasp the bow and the javelin, they are cruel and have no mercy, their sound is like the roaring sea; they ride on horses, equipped like a warrior for battle, against you, O daughter Zion!

Jeremiah 21:7 Afterward, says Yahweh, I will give King Zedekiah of Judah, and his servants, and the people in this city--those who survive the pestilence, sword, and famine--into the hands of King Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon, into the hands of their enemies, into the hands of those who seek their lives. He shall strike them down with the edge of the sword; he shall not pity them, or spare them, or have compassion.

Jeremiah 50:41 Look, a people is coming from the north; a mighty nation and many kings are stirring from the farthest parts of the earth. 42 They wield bow and spear, they are cruel and have no mercy.

1 Kings 8:48 (I)f they repent with all their heart and soul in the land of their enemies, who took them captive, and pray to you toward their land, which you gave to their ancestors, the city that you have chosen, and the house that I have built for your name; 49 then hear in heaven your dwelling place their prayer and their plea, maintain their cause 50 and forgive your people who have sinned against you, and all their transgressions that they have committed against you; and grant them compassion in the sight of their captors, so that they may have compassion on them.

Isaiah 13:17 See, I am stirring up the Medes against them, who have no regard for silver and do not delight in gold. 18 Their bows will slaughter the young men; they will have no mercy on the fruit of the womb; their eyes will not pity children.

I could cite other examples, but these are sufficient to show that LJ is wrong again in a point that he tried to base on perceived nuances in the original Hebrew text. Common sense should have told him that mercy or compassion is not just something that a parent shows to his/her own offspring. The way LJ has reasoned in trying to make this dubious point, a man who marries a widow with children could not show felial love or compassion toward her children because they are not his own offspring, or parents who adopt children would not be able to show felial love or compassion toward them. That is such an erroneous position that nothing more needs to be said about it. Accordingly, as we continue, readers should be wary of the many appeals that LJ tried to make to the Hebrew text.

Compare with Hosea 2:4: “And I [God] will not have mercy [Heb. רָחַם] upon her [Mother Israel’s] children; for they be the children of whoredoms.” This verse clearly establishes the fact that Lo-ruhumah [sic], the “uncompassionated” (1:6), symbolizes the idolatrous children of Israel.

I stated rather clearly in my rebuttals of LJ's first attempt to defend his present spin on Hosea 1:4 that I agreed that Gomer symbolized Israel's idolatrous unfaithfulness and that Lo-ruhamah represented the idolatrous children of Israel. Here is what I said the first time LJ raised this point.

Hosea's ministry began with God commanding him to take a "wife of whoredoms" and have "children of whoredoms" by her. This was to symbolically represent the fact that the northern kingdom, represented by Gomer, had departed from the true God and committed "whoredom" spiritually (Hosea 1:2).

Yes, that was clearly Hosea's view, and it was because of this symbolic "whoredom" that he thought that Yahweh was going to "cause the kingdom of the house of Israel to end," but the first half of the prophecy was that Yahweh would punish the house of Jehu "for the blood of Jezreel." As I showed here, the phrase "for the blood of Jezreel" is placed within the sentence so that it can modify only the first prediction, i. e., punishment of the house of Jehu. If my explication is incorrect, LJ must show where it went wrong, as I have shown where his erred.

Israel was God's wife (Ezekiel 16:8), and so to forsake God and go after idols was spiritual harlotry (Exodus 34:15-16; Deuteronomy 31:16).

Yes, Hosea obviously thought this, but as I have shown above, after Hosea had said that Yahweh would punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel, he predicted that Yahweh would also cause the kingdom of the house of Israel to end, and from there, he went on to explain that Israel's abandonment of Yahwism for the worship of other gods, especially Baalism, was why Yahweh was going to cause the kingdom of the house of Israel to end. LJ is trying to make the "blood of Jezreel" apply to both parts of the prophecy, but as I showed earlier, this phrase was placed within the sentence where it would modify only the first part of the prophecy, which was that Yahweh would punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel. LJ is trying to put a broader application onto the phrase than what Hosea likely intended.

Twice in the section quoted above, I repeated my argument that the placement of "for the blood of Jezreel" in the sentence makes it apply only to punishment of the house of Jehu. By claiming that the "blood of Jezreel" meant the children of Israel who had been killed by the Assyrians because of their practice of idolatry, LJ has made idolatry the reason for both predictions in Hosea 1:4. He is arguing, in effect, that Yahweh was going to punish the house of Jehu because of its promotion of idolatry, and he was going to bring the house of Israel to an end because of it practice of idolatry. He makes the reasons for both punishments two peas in the same pod, but he has yet to explicate Hosea 1:4 or 4:2 or any other text in Hosea to show that the northern kingdom's entrenchment in idolatry would somehow make "the blood of Jezreel" mean the blood of the children of Israel whom the Syrians had killed. In other words, he rejects the face-value meaning of "the blood of Jezreel" for no reason except to eliminate a biblical discrepancy, but as I have repeatedly explained, a desire to have inerrancy in a text is never a justifiable reason for assigning figurative meaning to it.

This divine decision not to show any more mercy to the nation is repeated by Amos, who was Hosea’s contemporary: “Then said the Lord, Behold, I will set a plumbline in the midst of My people Israel: I will not again pass by them any more…” (Amos 7:8); “The end is come upon My people of Israel; I will not again pass by them any more” (8:2). Here you see two contemporary prophets of God in complete agreement.

In the statement above, LJ twice begged the question of the Bible's divine inspiration. He called the decision not to show any more mercy to the nation [of Israel] a "divine decision," and he called Hosea and Amos "two contemporary prophets of God," but whether this was a "divine decision" and whether Hosea and Amos were "prophets of God" or whether they were just two contemporary mystics who simply thought that they were speaking for God has yet to be definitively determined. LJ must understand that I will not let him simply assume points that are crucial to his spin on Hosea 1:4. That is why I have refused to allow him just to assume that "the blood of Jezreel" meant the blood of the children of Israel who had been killed by the Assyrians. If it did mean this, there would be something in the context to so indicate. LJ is the one claiming that the expression meant something different from what the face-value language of the text indicates, so it is his responsibility to show us the contextual markers that give it the meaning he is claiming.

As for the rantings of Hosea and Amos against idolatry of their time and their warnings of serious consequences that would result from this practice, there was nothing at all unique about this. I can't think of a single prophet who didn't have some axe to grind about religious matters in the nations of Israel and Judah. Jeremiah raved against idolatry (1:16; 2:26-28; 5:7,19; 7:17-18; and many other times too numerous to cite), and so did Isaiah (2:8; 10:10-11; 57:5; etc.), and Ezekiel 6:5; 8:10; 14:3-5; etc.). Prophets who ranted and raved about idolatry in the land were as common as dirt in biblical times, and those who check the links just given will see that the prophets constantly warned the people that their idolatry would bring dire consequences from Yahweh.

In contrast, God “will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will save them by the Lord their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen” (Hosea 1:7), which was fulfilled in the miraculous deliverance of Jerusalem from Sennacherib’s siege in the days of King Hezekiah (2 Kings 19 and Isaiah 37).

Hosea 1:7-11 through 2:1 is one of the most likely interpolations to the prophet's original text. As noted above, biblical scholars consider the Hebrew text of Hosea corrupted with various interpolations made probably by Judahite scribes after the fall of the northern kingdom. The survival of the book of Hosea after the conquest of Israel makes it likely that the scroll was taken into Judah; otherwise, it would probably have been lost in the Assyrian captivity from which the nation of Israel never recovered. The prophet Hosea railed against the moral and religious corruption in the northern kingdom and predicted that its ungodliness, especially as it was manifested in the practice of idolatry, would cause Yahweh to bring the nation to an end. In the present text, however, praise of Judah is mixed with condemnations of the northern kingdom. Since many of these praises of Judah seem to interrupt the continuity of the text, they are considered redactions to Hosea's original version, which were added by Judean scribes who wanted to contrast Yahweh's anger at Israel with what they perceived as his benevolent protection of Judah. The contrast would have been the way that these scribes, in effect, said, "Ha, ha, Yahweh favors us more than he did you." If Hosea 1:7 alluded to a deliverance from Sennacherib's siege during the reign of Hezekiah, the scribe who interpolated it into the text would have had the retrospective advantage of hindsight, so until he can unequivocally prove that this prediction was in Hosea's original text, LJ shouldn't try to make too much of this verse.

For the sake of argument, let's just assume that this verse is authentic. If so, the mercy that Hosea foresaw that God would have on the house of Judah was short-lived, because it too fell to foreign invasion (2 Kings 25:1-6) and never again existed as a separate kingdom. Hosea also predicted in 1:7, as I noted in an earlier rebuttal, that the northern and southern kingdoms (Israel and Judah) would be reunited under one head, but that didn't happen, a fact that doesn't seem to bother LJ. He wets his pants over an event that can be construed as a prophecy fulfillment, but he winks and goes on when confronted with an obvious prophecy failure.

The fact that Israel fell to Assyrian invasion and Judah survived for another century had nothing to do with the babble of Hebrew prophets. The rise and fall of nations happen in the normal course of things, so if a prophet predicts that a nation will fall, this prophecy is bound to be fulfilled eventually. If, for example, I chose a specific nation--England, France, Italy, or the United States--and predicted that it will someday cease to exist as a nation, this prophecy would eventually be fulfilled, because all nations will eventually lose their present identities. LJ's problem is the same as that of many Bible believers, who read "prophecies" that are often worded as vaguely as modern-day horoscopes, find events in the past that could conceivably be fulfillments, and then sit in slack-jawed awe at the amazing accuracy of biblical prophecies.

The name of the third child, Lo-ammi, means, “Not My People.” In this instance the fact that the third child is not Hosea’s is clearly brought out in the etymological meaning of the name. As Lo-ammi was not Hosea’s child, so the house of Israel was now not God’s people because of the infidelity of their “mother.”

LJ seems to have trouble recognizing that no one is denying that Hosea was one of many Hebrew prophets who raved against idolatry and predicted that it would bring rejection by Yahweh and doom upon the people of Israel and Judah. LJ just made a point above about Hosea's prediction of doom for the northern kingdom (Israel) but salvation for the southern kingdom (Judah). Hosea claimed that the word of Yahweh had come to him in the days of kings Uzziah, Ahaz, and Hezekiah of Judah and Jeroboam II of Israel (1:1). Jeroboam's reign ended in 747 BC, and no other kings of Israel were named as the monarchs of Israel during his prophetic ministry, so there is an implication here that Hosea did not live past the reign of Jeroboam II. Likewise, Hosea made no reference to Israel's conquest by Assyria in 722 BC, a national disaster that the prophet would surely have mentioned had he still been living at the time, because he could have cited it as fulfillment of his prophecies against Israel. We can safely assume, then, that an interval of at least 25 years passed between Hosea's final days and the so-called fulfillment of his prophecies via Israel's national destruction by the Assyrian conquest. In other words, Yahweh again took his good sweet time in fulfilling Hosea's prophecy.

LJ may argue that my chronology is wrong, because the same verse cited above also named four Judean Kings--Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah--who had reigned during his prophetic ministry, but as noted above, this part of the verse is almost certainly an interpolation added by Judean scribes, because the dates of these Judean reigns ranged from 783 BC to 687 BC a period much too long to give serious consideration to the possibility that Hosea's prophetic ministry had spanned almost 100 years. Even if this part of the verse is interpreted to mean that the word of Yahweh had come to Hosea in the final days of Uzziah's reign until the beginning of Hezekiah's, that would still create chronological problems. The northern kingdom was conquered by Assyria in 722 BC, and Hezekiah's reign didn't begin until 715 BC, which would have been seven years after Israel fell to Assyria. How likely is it that Hosea, who predicted over and over that Israel's idolatry was going to bring about its downfall, would have still been alive and prophesying after the Assyria conquest but made no reference to an event that he would have seen as the fulfillment of his prophecies?

The words “ye are not My people, and I will not be your God” are a reversal of what God says to Israel in Exodus 6:7: “And I will take you to Me for a people, and I will be to you a God…,” thus representing a break in the covenant relationship between God and Israel (see also Jeremiah 7:23).

Jeremiah 7:23 says, "But this command I gave them, 'Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people; and walk only in the way that I command you, so that it may be well with you.'" I assume that LJ's reason for citing these verses was to support his premise that the Israelites of Hosea's day were responsible for having been rejected by God. That, however, was not a revolutionary belief. In the age of superstition and even today, all people tend to believe that they are favored by their gods, a belief that is reflected in the United States by the custom of singing "America the Beautiful" and "God Bless America" at public events like ball games. The idea expressed in the second of these songs is conveyed also in the thousands of God Bless America bumperstickers on American cars. Whenever national calamities like earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, droughts, famines, plagues, and conquests by foreign invaders happen, as they inevitably do, those who believe that their nations are favored by the gods cope with the resulting cognitive dissonance by rationalizing that they are to blame for whatever tragedy has befallen them, because they had done something to displease their gods. Sodom and Gomorrah, if they ever existed, were possibly destroyed by "fire and brimstone" from volcanic eruption, which would have happened only by the natural events that cause volcanoes, but to the superstitious minds of those who wrote the Bible, this disaster had happened because the people living there were "wicked." As already noted above, when the Israelites suffered defeat in their initial attack on Ai, this was attributed to God's anger at a man named Achan for having kept some of the spoils of victory at Jericho for himself (Joshua 7). Even when hurricane Katrina devastated the gulf coast of the United States, many fundamentalist preachers attributed this to the wrath of God against immorality in such places as New Orleans. There was nothing at all unique, then, about Hosea's thinking that idolatrous practices in Israel were going to bring Yahweh's wrath down on his "chosen people." That national calamities happen because of God's anger was an ancient superstitious belief, which still survives in modern, more enlightened times.

LJ may quibble that it doesn't matter whether Yahweh really punished nations. What matters is whether biblical writers were consistent in what they said about divine punishments, so if the prophet Hosea said that Yahweh would punish the house of Jehu for its promotion of idolatry, that claim would not be inconsistent with the prevailing belief of the time that Yahweh determined the fate of both nations and individuals. To have a point, however, LJ must prove that in saying that Yahweh would punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel, Hosea meant for "the blood of Jezreel" to be understood as the blood of the children of Israel whom Yahweh had caused the Syrians to kill because of the promotion of idolatry by the house of Jehu. Needless to say, LJ hasn't even come close to proving that this was what Hosea meant. As I have repeatedly said, the most likely meaning of Hosea's statement is that "the blood of Jezreel" meant exactly what the face-value meaning of the words convey, i. e., the blood of those whom Jehu massacred at Jezreel. This makes Hosea's statement mean nothing more than an expression of belief that Jehu's actions at Jezreel were morally wrong, and so Yahweh was going to punish his descendants for that atrocity, a prophetic view that would be completely consistent with the belief that Yahweh sometimes punished people for the "sins" of their ancestors. The only reason why LJ won't accept this likely meaning of the statement is that he doesn't want Hosea 1:4 to be inconsistent with 2 Kings 10:30.

All three children clearly represent the northern kingdom.

Yes, they did, but how does that prove that "the blood of Jezreel" in Hosea 1:4 meant the blood of the children of Israel who had been killed by the Assyrians? I have urged LJ over and over to cite just one example of where "the blood of Jezreel" was unequivocally used in the Old Testament to mean what he claims that it means in this verse. He hasn't complied with that request yet, and he hasn't because he can't.

The northern Israelites were part of the people whom God called out from Egypt, “loved” and called his “son” (Hosea 11:1; Exodus 4:22).

Yes, if the exodus ever happened--and many doubt that it did--they were, but in what way does this prove or even remotely indicate that "the blood of Jezreel" in Hosea 1:4 meant the children of Israel who had been killed by the Assyrians. We are looking for textual evidence not unsupported conjecture.

Jezreel, who was Hosea’s own son, represents the northern kingdom as (part of) the people of God, God’s “son.”

Yes, he did, but in what way does that prove that "the blood of Jezreel" did not mean the blood of those whom Jehu had massacred at Jezreel?

God declared that he would no longer show mercy to the nation and disowned it sometime in the latter part of the long reign of Jeroboam II, after God had “saved Israel by the hand of Jeroboam the son of Joash” (2 Kings 14:27, cf. Hosea 1:1).

Let's look at how LJ reasons. First, he assumed that if a biblical writer said that "God had declared that he would no longer show mercy to the nation of Israel," then God did indeed declare this. The possibility that the writer had merely thought this doesn't even occur to LJ. He says that he isn't a biblical inerrantist, but he certainly acts like one. To see further flaws in LJ's logic, let's read his "proof text" (2 Kings 14:27) in its broader context. Notice in particular the italicized parts.

2 Kings 14:23 In the fifteenth year of King Amaziah son of Joash of Judah, King Jeroboam son of Joash of Israel began to reign in Samaria; he reigned forty-one years. 24 He did what was evil in the sight of Yahweh; he did not depart from all the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he caused Israel to sin. 25 He restored the border of Israel from Lebo-hamath as far as the Sea of the Arabah, according to the word of Yahweh, the God of Israel, which he spoke by his servant Jonah son of Amittai, the prophet, who was from Gath-hepher. 26 For Yahweh saw that the distress of Israel was very bitter; there was no one left, bond or free, and no one to help Israel. 27 But had not said that he would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven, so he saved them by the hand of Jeroboam son of Joash.

LJ has previously said here and here and other places too numerous to cite that the sin of Jeroboam was presumably the reason why Yahweh was going to bring the kingdom of Israel to an end. I certainly don't deny that biblical writers put the blame on Jeroboam I for the downfall of northern kings and eventually the kingdom itself. That theme runs throughout the books of Kings.

1 Kings 13:33 Even after this event Jeroboam did not turn from his evil way, but made priests for the high places again from among all the people; any who wanted to be priests he consecrated for the high places. 34 This matter became sin to the house of Jeroboam, so as to cut it off and to destroy it from the face of the earth.

Kings 14:5 But Yahweh said to Ahijah [the prophet], "The wife of Jeroboam is coming to inquire of you concerning her son; for he is sick. Thus and thus you shall say to her." When she came, she pretended to be another woman. 6 But when Ahijah heard the sound of her feet, as she came in at the door, he said, "Come in, wife of Jeroboam; why do you pretend to be another? For I am charged with heavy tidings for you. 7 Go, tell Jeroboam, 'Thus says Yahweh, the God of Israel: Because I exalted you from among the people, made you leader over my people Israel, 8 and tore the kingdom away from the house of David to give it to you; yet you have not been like my servant David, who kept my commandments and followed me with all his heart, doing only that which was right in my sight, 9 but you have done evil above all those who were before you and have gone and made for yourself other gods, and cast images, provoking me to anger, and have thrust me behind your back; 10 therefore, I will bring evil upon the house of Jeroboam. I will cut off from Jeroboam every male, both bond and free in Israel, and will consume the house of Jeroboam, just as one burns up dung until it is all gone. 11 Anyone belonging to Jeroboam who dies in the city, the dogs shall eat; and anyone who dies in the open country, the birds of the air shall eat; for Yahweh has spoken.'

There are various other passages containing prophetic rantings against the idolatry of Jeroboam, but these are sufficient to show that biblical writers and prophets considered Jeroboam the epitome of evil. Even though they made him the scapegoat for national calamities and the eventual fall of the northern kingdom, the inscrutable Yahweh for reasons known only to him allowed Jeroboam to reign for 22 years and apparently die from natural causes (2 Kings 14:19-20). His succesor kings in Israel didn't always fare so well. His son Nadab reigned for only two years (1 Kings 15:25) and was then assassinated, ostensibly because he had followed in the "sins of Jeroboam" (1 Kings 15:26-30). Baasha, his assassin, reigned for 24 years (1 Kings 15:33), also "walked in the way of Jeroboam" (1 Kings 15:34), but apparently died a natural death after a long reign (1 Kings 16:5-7). Baasha's son Elah succeeded him and reigned for just two years (1 Kings 16:8) before he was assassinated, ostensibly as fulfillment of Yahweh's promise to destroy the house of Baasha for "walking in the way of Jeroboam" (1 Kings 16:1-4,11-13).

So it went throughout the history of the northern kingdom. Kings "walked in the way of Jeroboam," but sometimes the inscrutable Yahweh allowed them to enjoy long reigns, as had Jeroboam who had installed calf worship in the kingdom, but others like Nadab and Elah had only short reigns, which were followed by a 26-year reign by Omri, who also "walked in the way of Jeroboam" but died an apparently natural death (1 Kings 16:23-28). If the kings reigned for only a short time, the biblical "historians" attributed this to punishment from Yahweh because of their idolatry, but if kings enjoyed long reigns, despite their promotion of idolatry, the writers attributed this to some reason that Yahweh had had, such as the claim in LJ's "proof text" ( 2 Kings 14:27) that Israel was allowed to continue as a nation, despite the promotion of idolatry by its king Jeroboam II, because "Yahweh had said that he would not blot out the name of Israel from under heaven." When Israel did cease to exist as a nation after the Assyrian conquest in 722 BC, the fact that Yahweh had said that he would not blot out the name of Israel from under heaven," for some reason presumably known only to the inscrutable Yahweh, did not keep it from happening.

Common sense should tell intelligent people that the god Yahweh had had nothing at all to do with the survival or fall of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. The biblical claims that he did were nothing but the interpretation of political events by writers who superstitiously believed that good and bad fortunes were both determined by their god. LJ's appeal above to 2 Kings 14:27 does nothing at all to support his case. It simply shows that he is just as superstitious as the biblical writers who thought that their god Yahweh was pulling political strings to control the destinies of Israel and Judah.

Apparently, the morality of the nation had hit rock bottom during the reign of Jeroboam and their sins had reached their full measure, as evidenced in the book of Hosea and Amos, Hosea’s contemporary, which sealed the fate of the nation.

I need do nothing here but refer readers to my comments immediately above. Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, et al thought that public morality had "hit rock bottom." To be a prophet in those days, necessitated ranting and raving about religious and political situations that were personally offensive to the ranters. Prophets of bilbical times were the counterparts of modern-day preachers who see immorality in social practices that they personally dislike.

Lo-ruhamah and Lo-ammi represent the nation’s broken relationship with God.

That is apparently what the prophet intended them to symbolize. Now let's hope that LJ will explain to us just why the intended symbolism of Lo-ruhamah and Lo-ammi in any way proves that Hosea intended "the blood of Jezreel" to mean the blood of the children of Israel who had been killed by the Assyrians.

To keep my replies to LJ's endless assumptions manageable, I will stop here and continue in Part Two.

 


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