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Reply to Farrell Till's Rebuttal of "Solution to the Jehu Problem"

(Part 1)

by

Leonard Jayawardena


Editor's Note: Leonard Jayawardena has made a second attempt to defend his claim that "the blood of Jezreel" in Hosea 1:4 referred not to Jehu's massacre of the royal family of Israel, which is the only Old Testament example of significant bloodshed at Jezreel, but to the blood of the children of Israel whom the god Yahweh had allowed the Syrians to kill because of widespread idolatry that had been promoted by kings who had descended from Jehu. Jayawardena's second defense of this position is much longer than the section below, but I am posting only the part to which I have so far completed point-by-point replies. As I finish replies to additional sections, I will add those parts to Jayawarden's article. I urge readers who have the patience to wade through Jayawardena's rambling article to notice that he never met my challenge to cite just one example of where the name Jezreel was used in the figurative sense that he has arbitrarily assigned to it in his interpretation of Hosea 1:4.]


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

The readers of my article “Solution to the Problem” will be aware that I interpreted the phrase “the blood of Jezreel” 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. 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). 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. (Please see my analysis of the expression "the blood of..." later in the article.) 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.

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. Getting through all four parts of his rebuttal was a veritable feat of endurance. 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). Where on earth did I make such a statement? 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? 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.” 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:

And the Lord said unto him [Hosea], Call his [the firstborn of Gomer] name Jezre-el; for yet a little a 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. 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, 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? FT’s rebuttal contains other misinterpretations and distortions of my article, some of which I will be dealing with in my reply. FT says that he taught writing, but, for the sake of his students, I am glad that he didn’t teach comprehension! 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 …’)”!

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

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 was 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…. [p. 26,Part 2]

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]. … 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. [p. 27, Part 2]

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. [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.]

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. FT’s opinions on the beliefs reflected in these statements are totally irrelevant and a complete waste of time. What is important is whether “LJ’s silly belief” accurately reflects the position of the Bible on the issue involved. 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. 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? I request FT to desist from making such unnecessary comments, both to shorten what he writes and to avoid causing annoyance. He should know that there are people who know science much more than him but yet believe in the authenticity of the biblical miracles and prophecies, and the views expressed by the prophets, which he may consider “silly.” (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?) 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.

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. 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 …” elsewhere in the Bible renders “the massacre at Jezreel" by Jehu, etc. as a translation of the phrase “the blood of Jezreel” highly questionable.

“The blood of Jezreel” revisited

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…. [KJV]

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.

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:

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. [KJV]

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. The name of Gomer’s second child, “Lo-ruhamah,” means “Not loved or pitied” or “uncompassionated.” The Hebrew for “Lo-ruhamah” is לׂא רֻחָמָה, 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). 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. 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, the “uncompassionated” (1:6), symbolizes the idolatrous children of Israel. 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 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). 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.” 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).

All three children clearly represent the northern kingdom. 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). Jezreel, who was Hosea’s own son, represents the northern kingdom as (part of) the people of God, God’s “son.” 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). 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. Lo-ruhamah and Lo-ammi represent the nation’s broken relationship with God.

Gomer's first son is named Jezreel to signify that God will break Israel's military power in a decisive battle in the Valley of Jezreel (v. 5), which must have taken place about three years before the destruction of the northern kingdom in about 721 B.C. (Note: The fact that the fulfillment of this prophecy is not recorded in the historical books of the OT is not an objection against either this interpretation or the fulfillment of the prophecy. At Genesis 46:4, Jacob is told by God that Joseph will close his eyes at death, but this is not recorded in the later narrative, even though a description of the moment of Jacob’s death is given [Genesis 49:33-50:1]. What is important for the purpose of the discussion on the Jehu problem is the fact that Hosea uttered this prediction and how it relates to the context.) Israel's defeat in this battle will serve as a sign of the fulfillment of Hosea’s prophecy that God will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel. As pointed out at the outset, Hosea begins his prophecy with God’s declaration that the northern kingdom has departed from God by committing spiritual “whoredom” (v. 2), which firmly establishes Israel’s idolatry as the context for the following verses (v. 3 ff). Therefore, whatever meaning we assign to the phrase “the blood of Jezreel” must take that context into account. This phrase is best understood as “the death of Jezreel,” and, since Jezreel symbolizes the nation, the phrase means the destruction of the northern kingdom brought about by its idolatry, which is avenged on the house of Jehu. This destruction is the conquest and exile of Israel to Assyria about 721 B.C. This interpretation ties in well with both the preceding context, which is idolatry, the cause of Israel’s destruction, and the immediately following clause, in which the end of the northern kingdom is predicted. "Blood" in the Bible can have the meanings "death," "homicide," "murder," etc. For example, in “the blood of Asahel" (2 Samuel 3:27) and “the blood of Naboth” (2 Kings 9:26), etc., the reference is to the blood shed in the killing of the persons referred to, i.e., his homicide or murder. In Deuteronomy 22:8, "When thou buildest a new house, then thou shalt make a battlment [parapet] for thy roof, that thou bring not blood upon thine house, if any man fall from hence," the owner of the house is held responsible for the death of any one falling from the roof if it does not have a parapet.

Hosea 12:14-13:1 sheds light on 1:4:

14Ephraim provoked Him to anger most bitterly: therefore shall He leave his blood upon him, and his reproach shall his Lord return unto him.

1When Ephraim spake trembling he exalted himself in Israel; but when he offended in Baal, he died. 2And now they sin more and more, and have made them molten images of their silver, and idols according to their own understanding, all of it the work of the craftmen: they say of them, Let the men that sacrifice kiss the calves.[KJV]

"Ephraim" is used as a synonym for the northern kingdom, which in spite of the many warnings God sent her by the prophets (Hosea 12:10-13), provoked God most bitterly by their idols; therefore the responsibility for the destruction of the nation by the hands of Assyria will be its own (cf. Ezekiel 33:1-9). The New English Bible renders this verse exactly the way I understand it: “Ephraim has given bitter provocation; therefore his Lord will make him answerable for his own death….” Young’s Literal Translation: “Ephraim hath provoked most bitterly, And his blood on himself he leaveth, And his reproach turn back to him doth his Lord!” The rendering of the NEB is, of course, an interpretation, but it is the correct one. (Since in Part 3 of his rebuttal FT claims, citing three translations, that “blood” in Hosea 12:14 refers to the blood shed by Israelites in murders, not to Ephraim’s own blood, I have given conclusive proof later in this article that “his blood” can only refer to Ephraim’s own blood.) The first part of 13:1 is rendered variously in different translations. If the KJV translation cited above is correct, then Hosea refers to the prominent status the tribe of Ephraim had in the united kingdom, which is the reason why that tribe’s name came to be used as a synonym for the northern kingdom after the division of the united kingdom, and says that when the northern kingdom sinned through idolatry, it “died.” Why does Hosea speak of Israel's death in the past tense? The most probable meaning is that Israel was as good as dead when it turned to idolatry! When Abimelech, king of Gerar, took Serah, Abraham's wife, "God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man's wife" (Genesis 20:3). The NIV brings out the meaning correctly: "...God...said to [Abimelech], 'You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken....'" Though Abimelech was not yet dead, God spoke as if he was already dead because that would be his certain fate if he did not give Sarah back to Abraham. Genesis 2:16-17, too, may provide a further illustration: "And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (KJV). Of course, Adam did not die the same day that he disobeyed God's command (Genesis 5:5). Compare with 1 Kings 2:36-37: "Now the king [Solomon] sent and called for Shemei and said to him, 'Build for yourself a house in Jerusalem and live there, and do not go out from there to any place. For it will happen on the day you go out and cross over the brook Kidron, you will know for certain that you shall surely die; your blood shall be on your own head'" (NASB). But, three years later, two slaves of Shemei rant off to Achish, king of Gath, and Shemei went to Gath and brought back the slaves from Gath. When Solomon heard this, he summoned Shemei and said to him, "Did I not make you swear by the Lord and solemnly warn you, saying, 'You will know for certain that on the day you depart and go anywhere, you shall surely die?'" (1 Kings 2:39-42). Obviously, it took Shemei a number of days to go to Gath and bring back his slaves and he did not die the same day he left Jerusalem.

The fact that the sin of the nation resulted in its death is further confirmed in the following passage, which speaks of Israel’s restoration:

The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up, his sin is kept in store. The pangs of childbirth come for him, but he is an unwise son; for now he does not present himself at the mouth of the womb. Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol? Shall I redeem them from Death? O Death, where are your plagues? O Sheol, where is your destruction? Compassion is hid from my eyes. [Hosea 13:12-14, RSV; cf. 1 Corinthians 15:54-55]

In the vision of the valley of bones in Ezekiel 37, the lands of exile of the people of both houses of Israel are compared to “graves,” out of which they will be brought and placed in their own land (vv. 12-14).

Why is the “blood of Jezreel,” or the destruction of the nation Israel, avenged upon the house of Jehu? The reigning king at the time this dire prophecy was pronounced was Jeroboam, who was of the house of Jehu. The prophecy was fulfilled in the time of King Zechariah, Jehu’s great-great-grandson (2 Kings 15:10). Like all the other kings before and after them, the kings of the house of Jehu presided over the idolatry of the nation. In my article I showed in detail how the OT writers held the royal family responsible for Israel sinning against God by following the sins of Jeroboam. The OT writers held the kings of Israel responsible for the eventual destruction of the nation because of the part they played in the nation’s idolatry. Hence, all the kings were in fact accountable for the “blood of Jezreel.” Note that when the prophet Ahijah told the wife of Jeroboam 1 that “[God] shall give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, who did sin, and who made Israel to sin" (1 Kings 14:16), he was clearly implying Jeroboam’s “bloodguilt” for the future destruction of the nation. The idea that a person can be held responsible for the blood of another person, even though that person did not intentionally kill the other, is not foreign to the Bible. See Deuteronomy 22:8, quoted above, and Ezekiel 33:1-9, quoted later in this article. In spite of the large number of biblical texts I adduced showing how the OT writers held the royal family of Israel chiefly responsible for Israel’s idolatry, FT just glosses over it by saying that the kings of Israel simply “allowed” it. Even a superficial reader of the Bible will see the central role the Hebrew kings played in religion in both the southern and the northern kingdom and that they did more than just “allow” it. The biblical passages I quoted in the article clearly hold the kings of Israel responsible for Israel sinning against God through idolatry, leaving no room for dispute on this matter. Note in particular the following passages:

1And the word of the Lord came to Jehu the son of Hanani against Baasha, saying, 2“Since I exalted you out of the dust and made you leader over my people Israel, and you have walked in the way of Jeroboam, and have made my people Israel to sin, provoking me to anger with their sins, 3behold I will utterly sweep away Baasha and his house, and I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat." [1 Kings 16:1-3, RSV]

8In the twenty-sixth year of Asa king of Judah, Elah the son of Baasha began to reign over Israel in Tirzah, and reigned two years. 9But his servant Zimri, commander of half his chariots, conspired against him. When he was at Tirzah, drinking himself drunk in the house of Arza, who was over the household in Tirzah, 10Zimri came in and struck him down and killed him, in the twenty-seventh year of Asa king of Judah, and reigned in his stead.

11When he began to reign, as soon as he had seated himself on his throne, he killed all the house of Baasha; he did not leave him a single male of his kinsmen or his friends. 12Thus Zimri destroyed all the house of Baasha, according to the word of the Lord, which he spoke against Baasha by Jehu the prophet, 13for all the sins of Baasha and the sins of Elah his son which they sinned, and which they made Israel to sin, provoking the Lord God of Israel to anger with their idols. [1 Kings 16:8-13, RSV]

The clear position of the biblical writers is that through what FT says the kings of Israel just “allowed” “they made Israel to sin.” Period. Note also that the writer sees the destruction of the house of Baasha by Zimri as a judgment of God “for all the sins of Baasha, and the sins of Elah his son which they sinned, and which they made Israel to sin, provoking the Lord God of Israel to anger with their idols.” “Provoking the Lord God of Israel to anger with their [Israel’s] idols” eventually resulted in the death of the nation, “the blood of Jezreel,” which Hosea said would be avenged on the house of Jehu, because, they too, like all the kings of Israel, made Israel to sin with idols. Jezreel represented the people of Israel as God's own son (Hosea 11:1), so it was most appropriate that he should have avenged "the blood of Jezreel" rather than "the blood of Lo-ruhamah" or "the blood of Lo-ammi," both of whom were bastards.

The beginning of the end of the kingdom started with an invasion of Israel by Tiglath-pileser III of Assyria (called “Pul” in 2 Kings 15:19), to whom King Menahem paid tribute (2 Kings 15:19). From that time onward Israel became a vassal state until the kingdom was brought to an end by King Shalmaneser V (2 Kings 17:3-6). No less than six kings (following Jeroboam II) reigned during a period of 25 years until the fall of the kingdom in about 721 B.C. Of these four were murdered by their successors while in office (Zechariah, Shallum, Pekahiah and Pekah), and one was captured in battle (Hoshea). Only one (Menahem) was succeeded on the throne by his son. No divine mercy was shown to Israel after the reign of Jeroboam, as Hosea predicted. Even the limited victory of King Pekah of Israel against Ahaz, king of Judah, is explained as being due to God being angry with Judah for their idolatry (2 Chronicles 28:5-9), not because God wished to succor Israel.

It may be asked how the destruction of the nation of Israel could be avenged on her kings before the event. In the case of the murder of a person, the blood of the victim is avenged upon the murderer/s after the commission of the murder. But we are here dealing with a nation, not a person, though symbolized by a person, and, if the kings were individually and collectively responsible for the eventual death of the nation, the only time when they could be punished for their sin was while they were yet living! They could not have been punished after the destruction of the nation because all the kings had ceased to exist by that time except the last-reigning king.

The fact that the juxtaposition of the judgment of the royal house and the judgment of the nation for idolatry in Hosea 1:4-5 follows a pattern also found in 1 Kings 14:14-16 and Amos 7:8-11 favors an interpretation that sees idolatry as the reason for both judgments in Hosea 1:4-5 and as well as the particular construction I have placed on the phrase “the blood of Jezreel.” This juxtaposition in the three passages is shown in the table below (RSV used throughout):

 1 Kings 14:14-16Hosea 1:4Amos 7:11
Judgment of the royal house[T]he Lord will raise up for himself a king over Israel, who shall cut off the house of Jeroboam today.I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel…Jeroboam shall die by the sword…
Judgement of the nationAnd henceforth the Lord will smite Israel…. And he will give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, which he sinned and which he made Israel to sin....and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel....and Israel must go into exile away from his land.

What appears in Amos 7:11 is Amaziah the priest’s report to king Jeroboam of Amos’s prophecy against the royal house and the nation in 7:8-9, but it is an accurate report and I have used it above, rather than Amos’s version, to maintain the symmetry of the table. Observe the following:

  1. The fact that idolatry is indisputably the reason for the two judgments in 1 Kings 14:14-16 and Amos 7:11, and the judgment of the nation in Hosea 1:4 gives rise to the strong presumption that the royal house is judged for the same basic reason in Hosea 1:4, in which the judgment of the royal family is coupled with the judgment of the nation as in the other two passages. This presumption is strengthened by the preceding context of Hosea 1:4, which is the idolatry of the nation.

  2. Is idolatry the only connecting thread between the judgment of the royal house and the judgment of the nation in these three passages or is there more to the juxtaposition of these two judgments? Note that in all three passages the eventual end of the northern kingdom is in view. In 1 Kings we are plainly told that Jeroboam I is responsible for Israel’s apostasy and its final consequence: exile, and, presumably, that is the ground for the judgment of the royal house itself. In Hosea we are told that “the blood of Jezreel” is the ground for the judgment of the royal house. We have seen that “the blood of Jezreel” can certainly be interpreted to mean the “death of Jezreel,” i.e., the destruction of the northern kingdom. Interpreted thus, we have an exact parallel to 1 Kings 14:14-16 in Hosea 1:4, with the latter passage being explicit as to the reason for the judgment of the royal house. If, as the prophets claimed, they made their prophetic utterances by the power of God, the predictions in these three passsages emanate from the same divine source and so we would expect the juxtaposition of the judgment of the royal house and the nation found in these passages to signal that they are parallels to one another in their basic meaning.

As for FT’s objections against my use of Amos 7:11 in support of my solution in the earlier article, they are so frivolous that they do not deserve comment in this section, and I have relegated my comments to the section headed “Miscellaneous” at the end of this article. Please see under “Frivolous objections.”

In FT’s exegesis, “Jezreel” in Hosea 1:4 symbolizes the following two things:

  1. “Yahweh’s command to name Hosea’s son Jezreel was intended as a gesture of recognition that God and not Baal ‘sows’ the seeds of fertility that caused the birth of Hosea’s son” (p. 9, Part 1). He further says in Part 2, “I have shown beyond reasonable doubt that the name of Gomer’s first son did not represent ‘the children of Israel’ but rather the source of Gomer’s fertility."

  2. “[T]he name Jezreel, given to Gomer’s son, was clearly intended to recall ‘the blood of Jezreel’ for which Yahweh intended to punish the house of Jehu, because the prophet said that the house of Jehu would be punished for the blood of Jezreel.” FT understands “the blood of Jezeel” variously as “the bloodshed at Jezeel” (p. 8, Part 1), “the blood that Jehu shed at Jezreel,” (p. 9, Part 1), “the murders that Jehu committed in the valley of Jezreel” (p. 10, Part 1).

Among the objections that may be urged against FT’s exegesis are the following:

  1. To begin with, quite apart from the question of whether the above interpretations of “the blood of Jezreel” fit the context in which this phrase occurs, there is the more fundamental question of whether these meanings are linguistically possible for this phrase. Specifically, the issue is, Does the usage of the expression “the blood of…” elsewhere in the Bible permit such meanings as “the bloodshed at Jezreel,” “the murders Jehu committed in the valley of Jezreel,” “massacre at Jezreel,” etc. for “the blood of Jezreel”? Many, including Christian apologists and some Bible translators (judging from the translations cited by FT), take for granted that this phrase can have these meanings, and the time has now come to look at this basic issue.

    In the phrase “the blood of Jezreel,” “blood” and “Jezreel” are both concrete nouns. The genitive construction “the blood of …” occurs 69 times in the OT, in 63 times out of which the genitive phrase (technically, the absolute in Hebrew, but for convenience I will be using the term genitive throughout as mentioned at the outset of this article) contains a concrete noun or concrete nouns. All the occurrences of the expression “the blood of …” in the OT having a concrete noun/s in the genitive phrase are set out in the table below:

    Scripture referencePhrase in YLTScripture referencePhrase in YLT
    Gen. 4:11the blood of thy brother 2 Sam.1:22 the blood of the wounded
    Gen. 49:11the blood of the grapes2 Sam. 3:27the blood of Asahel
    Ex. 23:18the blood of My sacrifice2 Sam. 3:28 the blood of Abner
    Ex. 29:12the blood of the bullock2 Sam. 16:8the blood of the house of Saul
    Ex. 30:10the blood of the sin-offering

    2 Sam. 23:17

    the blood of the men
    Ex. 34:25the blood of My sacrifice

    1 Kg. 21:19

    the blood of Naboth
    Lev. 4:5the blood of the bullock1 Kg. 22:35the blood of the wound
    Lev. 4:7the blood of the bullock2 Kg. 9:27 the blood of My servants
    Lev. 4:16the blood of the bullock2 Kg. 9:27the blood of all the servants of Jehovah
    Lev. 4:25the blood of the sin-offering2 Kg. 9:26 the blood of Naboth
    Lev. 4:34the blood of the sin-offering 2 Kg. 9:26the blood of his sons
    Lev. 5:9the blood of the sin-offering 2 Kg. 16:13the blood of the peace-offerings
    Lev. 7:14the blood of the peace-offerings 2 Kg. 16:15 the blood of the burnt-offering
    Lev. 7:33the blood of the peace-offerings1 Ch.11:19the blood of these men
    Lev. 14:6the blood of the slaughtered bird2 Ch. 24:25the blood of the sons of Jehoiada the priest
    Lev. 14:14the blood of the guilt-offeringPs. 50:13 the blood of he-goats
    Lev. 14:17the blood of the guilt-offering Ps. 58:10 the blood of the wicked
    Lev. 14:25the blood of the guilt offeringPs. 68:23 the blood of enemies
    Lev. 14:28the blood of the guilt-offering Ps. 79:10the blood of Thy servants
    Lev. 14:51the blood of the slaughtered birdPs. 106:38the blood of their sons and of their daughters
    Lev. 14:52the blood of the birdPr. 28:17the blood of a soul
    Lev. 15:14the blood of the bullock Is. 1:11the blood of bullocks
    Lev. 16:15the blood of the bullock Is. 4:4 the blood of Jerusalem
    Lev. 16:18the blood of the bullock Is. 34:6blood of lambs and he-goats
    Lev. 17:14blood of any fleshIs. 66:3 the blood of a sow
    Lev. 19:16the blood of thy neighbour Jr. 2:34the blood of innocent needy souls
    Num. 23:24blood of pierced ones Lam. 4:13 the blood of the righteous
    Num. 35:33the blood of him that sheddeth itEzek. 16:36 the blood of thy sons
    Deut. 12:27 the blood of thy sacrifices Ezek. 39:18 blood of princes of the earth
    Deut. 32:14the blood of the grapeEzek. 45:19 the blood of the sin offering
    Deut. 32:42the blood of the pierced and captiveHos. 1:4the blood of Jezreel
    Deut. 32:43the blood of His servants  

    (The genitive contains an abstract noun in the following six phrases: “the blood of the covenant” [Exodus 24:8], “the blood of her cleansing” [Leviticus 12:4, 5], “the blood of war” [1 Kings 2:5 bis] and “the blood of thy covenant” [Zechariah 9:11].)

    The phrases in the table above can be analyzed into five categories in terms of meaning as follows (the number of occurrences of phrases of each category indicated in parenthesis with Hosea 1:4 disregarded):

    1. Human life: “the blood of thy neighbour" (Lev. 19:16), “the blood of the men” (2 Sam. 23:17) and “the blood of these men” (1 Ch. 11:19). In Genesis 9:4, 5 and Leviticus 17:14, “blood” is identified with the life of a human or an animal. This is clearly the meaning in Leviticus 19:16: “…neither shalt thou stand against the blood [i.e., the life] of thy neighbour….” (3)

    2. The blood of humans shed when killed, usually with murder implied, e.g., “the blood of His servants” (Deut. 32:43), “the blood of Naboth” (1 Kg. 21:19). In “the blood of Asahel" in 2 Sam. 3:27, the meaning is simply “the blood of Asahel shed when he was killed,” as the killing of Asahel by Abner was technically not a murder (see 1 Kg. 2:5). In “the blood of him that sheddeth it” (Num. 35:33), too, there is no murder implied. (24)

    3. Simple reference to human blood: “the blood of the wound” (1 Kg. 22:35) and “the blood of Jerusalem” (Is. 4:4). The latter is a reference to the menstrual blood of Jerusalem personified as a woman and is significant for the reason explained below. (2)

    4. The blood of animals killed, almost always in sacrifice, e.g., “the blood of the bullock” (Lev. 4:5). (31)

    5. “Blood” used figuratively for grape juice (Gen. 49:11 and Deut. 32:42). (2)

    Observe the following from the above table. Disregarding Hosea 1:4,

    1. When the referent of the genitive is a person, the blood always belongs/belonged to the referent, i.e., the reference is always to the own blood of the referent. (28 times)

    2. When the genitive is a proper noun, like “Jezreel,” the referent is always a person and the expression always refers to the own blood of the referent of the genitive: “the blood of Asahel” (2 Sam. 3:27), “the blood of Abner” (2 Sam. 3:28), “the blood of Naboth” (1 Kg. 21:19; 2 Kg. 9:26) and “the blood of Jerusalem” (Is. 4:4). These five cases are a subset of (i) above.

    Therefore, we would expect, based on (i) and (ii) above, that Jezreel in “the blood of Jezreel” is a person and that the reference is to the own blood of Jezreel. What clinches the matter is that in “the blood of Jerusalem” in Isaiah 4:4, which affords an exact parallel phrase to “the blood of Jezreel,” Jerusalem is a woman personifying the city of that name (hence a person) and the blood is the menstrual blood of that woman, as explained below, and so is her own blood. Thus in the only other instance in the Bible in which the expression “the blood of …” has a place name in the genitive, like “Jezreel,’’ the referent is a person, and not a geographical location (i.e., the meaning is not “the blood shed at Jerusalem”), which deals a mortal blow to the interpretation of “the blood of Jezreel” as “the blood shed at Jezreel.”

    When the genitive noun or nouns refer to animals, the reference is again always to the own blood of the animals killed, e.g., “the blood of the bullock” (Exodus 29:12). The blood in the “blood of the grapes” (Genesis 49:11) and “the blood of the grape” (Deuteronomy 32:42) figuratively refers to the juice the grapes contained and is thus its/their own “blood,” i.e., before the juice was extracted from the grapes, the juice was a part of the grapes. This leaves us with only “the blood of the wound” (1 Kings 22:35), which would mean “the blood flowing from the wound.” The genitive in this case could be considered a genitive of source as the wound is the source of the blood. In this one instance only then, out of the 62 times (disregarding Hosea 1:4) in which blood is in a construct state with a concrete noun/s in the OT, do we see the genitive not being possessive or partitive as the “the blood of the wound” belongs to the wounded person and not to the wound. Still, the relationship between the head noun and the genitive in the expression “the blood of the wound” is close, because a wound would naturally be expected to produce blood. Do we see such a close relationship between the two nouns in the phrase “the blood of Jezreel” if this is interpreted to mean “the blood shed in Jezreel” by Jehu? “The blood shed in Jezreel” carries with it no necessary implication that the blood belongs to or is a part of Jezreel in any sense, for if Jehu had massacred some non-Jezreelites who happened to be in Jezreel at the time, that blood could still have been called or included in “the blood shed in Jezreel” by Jehu. If the blood shed in Jezreel by Jehu could be called “the blood of Jezreel,” then, by the same token, the food eaten by Jehu in Jezreel could be called “the food of Jezreel." Similarly, if Jehu defecated in Jezreel after his massacre there, the excrement deposited in Jezreel by Jehu could be called “the shit of Jezreel”! If not, why not?

    How about “the bloodshed at Jezreel,” “bloodshed of Jezreel” (NKJV), or “the massacre at Jezreel”(NIV). Can these meanings be derived from “the blood of Jezreel”? Note that both “bloodshed” and “massacre” are abstract nouns, which take the place of “blood,” a concrete noun. The substitution of “murder” or “massacre” for “blood” in the expression “the blood of …” is certainly possible in the OT in certain instances, e.g., “the blood of Naboth” can be paraphrased as “the murder of Naboth” in 1 Kings 21:19 and 2 Kings 9:26, because in those verses the phrase means “the blood of Naboth shed in his murder.” Note 2 Kings 9:26: “As surely as I saw yesterday the blood of Naboth and the blood of his sons—says the Lord—I will requite you on this plot of ground.” And “the blood of all the servants of the Lord” in 2 Kings 9:7 can be paraphrased as “the massacre of all the servants of the Lord.” But in both these cases the murder or the massacre is still of the person or persons denoted by the genitive. The victim of “the murder of Naboth” is Naboth and the victims of “the massacre of all the servants of the Lord” are “all the servants of the Lord.” Similarly, “the blood of Jezeel” can be paraphrased as “the death, homicide or murder of Jezreel,” in which case Jezeel must necessarily be a person, not a physical place, as a physical place cannot die or be killed. “The massacre of Jezreel” is not possible because you cannot massacre one person. “The massacre of Jezreel” in the sense of “the massacre that took place at Jezreel” is not possible because, as we have seen above, “the massacre of Jezreel” can only mean the massacre of the person called Jezreel. “The massacre at Jezreel” is another way of saying “the massacre of Jezreel” in the sense of the last sentence and is not possible for the same reason. “Bloodshed” is possible as a paraphrase of blood in Hosea 4:2 (bis), which reads in the Young’s Literal Translation thus: “Swearing, and lying, and murdering, And stealing, and committing adultery--have increased, And blood against blood hath touched.” The NASB and NIV render the last clause, "bloodshed follows bloodshed.” The RSV’s rendering is “murder follows murder.” However, if anyone thinks that this possibility of paraphrasing “blood” in Hosea 4:2 as “bloodshed” justifies the construction “bloodshed of Jezreel,” he is mistaken. “Blood” in this verse, as everywhere else in the Bible, is a concrete noun and it has an implied possessive genitive here. The iteral meaning would be “blood [of innocent persons shed in murder] toucheth blood [of innocent persons shed in murder].” In “the blood of Jezreel,” the blood belongs to a person called Jezreel, and you cannot substitute “bloodshed” for “blood” in “the blood of Jezreel” to obtain the meaning “the shedding of blood in Jezreel.”

    “The blood of Jezreel” could conceivably be regarded as a short form for “the blood of the inhabitants of Jezreel.” The blood belongs to Jezreel because the blood belongs to the inhabitants who in turn “belong” to the city. But even this would not work because then, by the same token, the ears of the inhabitants of Jezreel could be called “the ears of Jezreel,” the noses of the inhabitants of Jezreel could be called “the noses of Jezreel,” etc. Anyway, this point is academic as neither FT nor any one else I know of understands “the blood of Jezreel” that way. This would not an option for FT anyway because such a definition of “the blood of Jezreel” would restrict the reference only to the Jezreelites killed by Jehu and even FT, for all his ingenuity, would not be able to extend the “the blood of Jezreel” to include Jehu’s killings elsewhere (see below “How FT handles my ‘very simple and basic objection’ to ‘the blood of Jezreel’ being a reference to Jehu’s massacre at Jezreel”).

    From the foregoing discussion, the reader can see that we are left with only one possibility for the meaning of “the blood of Jezreel” in Hosea 1:4: it means the blood belonging to a person called Jezreel and so is the own blood of Jezreel. This meaning perfectly fits the context of “the blood of Jezreel,” because that phrase immediately follows God’s instruction to Hosea to name Gomer’s first child, who is a person, Jezreel. The phrase may be translated the "homicide of Jezeel" if the idea is that the house of Jehu had a part in the killing of Jezreel through the idolatry of the nation they presided over.

    I also searched the Apocrypha, also called "the Deuterocanonicals," which were written in Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic, for the phrase "blood of..." and the following are the results: "the blood of grapes" (1 Maccabees 3:32); "the blood of John their brother" (1 Maccabees 9:38); "the blood of their brother" (1 Maccabees 9:42); "the blood of the slain" (2 Maccabees 12:16); "the blood of thy soul" (Sirach 33:31); and "the blood of the grape" (Sirach 50:16). As can be observed, the genitive is always possessive or partitive in these phrases.

    In an attempt to sway the readers by appealing to authority, FT lists no less than 25 translations, all of which he claims support his interpretation of “the blood of Jezreel.” The Hebrew for this phrase is אֶת־דְּמֵייִזְרְעֶאל, which is literally “blood of Jezreel” (אֶת being the accusative particle), and 15 out of the 25 translations sensibly render this phrase as “the blood of Jezreel.” The other 10, which support FT, are not translations but interpretations! The Hebrew for the phrase “the blood of Naboth” is אֶת־דְּמֵינָבוֹת (2 Kings 9:26). The same Hebrew word for “blood” (דָּם) is in the construct state in both phrases (דְּמֵי), yet the NIV, for example, translates the latter as “the blood of Naboth,” but the former as “the massacre at Jezreel.” There is nothing in the text to require that “translation.” Further, as we have seen above, “the massacre at Jezreel” as a translation of the phrase “the blood of Jezreel” is of questionable legitimacy. When a translator becomes an interpreter, his authority is no greater than FT’s or mine, so I am sorry to say that FT achieved nothing by going into all that trouble to list those translations! After listing the 25 translations, FT writes, “… LJ essentially claims that all of the scholars who worked on these translations were wrong, because Hosea was not referring to the massacre that Jehu committed at Jezreel.” The reader will see from my analysis above of the use of the expression “the blood of…” in the Bible that the 10 "scholars" who translated “the blood of Jezreel” to refer to the massacre at Jezreel are in all probability wrong. Scholarship should be appealed to only for purely technical matters, not for interpretation. An example for the legitimate use of translations in argument is provided by James 1:17, which reads in Greek, ρασα δοσις αγαθη και παν δωρημα τελειον ανωθεν εστιν καταβαινων απο του πατρος των φωτων… (breathing marks and accents omitted). These words can be translated in two ways depending on whether you take the words εστιν καταβαινων as a verb (εστιν) and a participle (καταβαινων) in separate clauses, or take the verb and the participle together as a periphrastic construction. If former, the translation is “Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the father of lights…” (NASB). If latter, the translation is “Every good gift and every perfect gift comes down from above, from the Father of lights…” (Darby Translation). Of all the translations I have seen, only Darby renders this verse periphrastically, but the Greek permits this translation and so if FT prefers the periphrastic construction, he can quite legitimately appeal to Darby Translation, even if it be in a minority.

    “The blood of Jerusalem" in Isaiah 4:4 was mentioned above. Let us now look at it in detail. The relevant passage reads

    And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem: When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the [or a] spirit of judgment, and by the [or a] spirit of burning. (Isaiah 4:3-4, KJV)

    According to Leviticus 15:19ff, the menstrual blood of a woman made her ceremonially unclean for seven days. If a woman had a discharge of blood for many days at a time other than her monthly period or had a discharge that continued beyond the period, she was considered unclean as long she had the discharge. In both cases, anyone who touched the woman or anything she lay on or sat on became ceremonially unclean until the evening, and had to wash his or her clothes and bathe in water. The discharge of blood during childbirth, too, made a woman ceremonial unclean, and she had to be cleansed from her issue of blood (Leviticus 12). It is blood that caused ceremonial uncleanness which is in view in the expression “the blood of Jerusalem,” in which blood symbolizes spiritual uncleanness. In this passage, “Jerusalem”—and its synonym “Zion”—is a woman personifying the city of Jerusalem. Note that “the blood of Jerusalem” is parallel to “the filth [LXX: ρυπος] of the daughters of Zion” and “purge” is parallel to “wash away.” "The filth of the daughters of Zion” is the menstrual blood of the women of Jerusalem, and “the blood of Jerusalem” is the menstrual blood of their mother: Jerusalem (cf. Lamentations 1:8-9). This blood is a symbol of the spiritual filth of the inhabitants of the city, from which they will be purified by the Lord in their day of salvation with, from the perspective of the NT, the water of the word of God (Ephesians 5:26) and the fire of affliction and adversity. In water baptism, the physical dirt on the body is washed away as a symbol of the removal of sins, the spiritual dirt (see Acts 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21: “the removal of dirt [Gr. ρυπος] from the flesh”). Purifying fire is also mentioned in the book of Isaiah in 1:25: “I will also turn My hand against you [the inhabitants of Judah], and I will smelt away your dross as with lye, and I will remove all your alloy” (NASB); and 48:10: “Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction” (NASB). Because Israel sinned against the Lord, he handed the nation over to plunderers and burned him with the flame of war, but Israel did not lay it to heart (Isaiah 42:24-25). See also Malachi 3:1-4. Jerusalem was a type of the eternal dwelling place of the people of God, “the mother of us all” (Galatians 4:26).

    The book of Lamentations, which contains a series of Lamentations on the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C., compares Jerusalem to a menstruous woman: “Jerusalem has sinned greatly, and so has become unclean. All who honored her despise her, for they have seen her nakedness; she herself groans and turns away. Her filthiness clung to her skirts...” (1:8-9, NIV). “[U]nclean” translates the Hebrew word נִידָה. Lamentations 1:17 says that “Jerusalem has become an unclean thing [Heb. נִדָּה] among them [her neighbors].” נִידָה in Lam. 1:8 is equivalent to נִדָּה in Lam. 1:17 (BDB), the latter of which is used to refer to the ceremonial uncleanness resulting especially from menstruation (e.g., Ezekiel 18:6). “[F]ilthiness” translates the Hebrew word טֻמְאָה, which also occurs in 2 Samuel 11:4: “Now she [Bathsheba] was purifying herself from her uncleanness [resulting from menstruation].”

    FT’s interpretation is that “the purging of ‘the blood of Jerusalem’ in Isaiah 4:4 represented a removal of the bloodguilt of Jerusalem, so once again we see ‘the blood of …’ being used in reference to the place where blood had been shed” (emphasis his). Therefore, he thinks that the expression “the blood of Jerusalem” is parallel to “the blood of Jezreel” in Hosea 1:4 (p. 20 of Part 2). How so? The way FT understands it, “the blood of Jezreel” means the blood shed at the place called Jezreel, but “the blood of Jerusalem” means “the bloodguilt of Jerusalem.” “The bloodguilt of Jerusalem” can only mean the bloodguilt of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for, obviously, a geographical place called Jerusalem cannot have bloodguilt! When Hosea says, “[T]he land hath committed whoredom” (1:2), by “the land” he must refer to the people of Israel, who are represented by “the land” on which they lived. The land as such cannot sin! Similarly, “the bloodguilt of Jerusalem” can only mean the bloodguilt of the inhabitants of Jerusalem incurred through murders committed presumably in that city, but not necessarily. Therefore, even on FT’s understanding of “the blood of Jerusalem,” which I do not think is the right one, that phrase is not a parallel to FT’s understanding of “the blood of Jezreel.” For “the blood of Jerusalem” to be a parallel to “the blood of Jezreel,” as FT understands it, “the blood of Jerusalem” must mean “the blood shed in Jerusalem” either by Jerusalemites or non-Jerusalemites. At any rate, FT’s substitution of “bloodguilt” for “blood” in the phrase “the blood of Jerusalem” (Heb. דְּמֵ יְרוּשָׁלַם) is arbitrary and gratuitous. “The blood of Jerusalem” and “the bloodguilt of Jerusalem” are not the same thing. To be sure, “blood” is sometimes used in the Bible with the bloodguilt of someone implied, e.g., “the blood of Naboth” as used in 2 Kings 9:26 implies the bloodguilt of Ahab for the murder of Naboth, but “the blood of Naboth” and “the bloodguilt of Naboth” are not the same thing. “[B]lood” is used in Deuteronomy 21:8-9 with the connotation of “bloodguilt,” which reads in the KJV, “Be merciful, O Lord, unto thy people Israel, whom Thou hast redeemed, and lay not innocent blood unto Thy people of Israel’s charge. And the blood shall be forgiven them. So shalt thou put away the guilt of innocent blood from among you …." The NASB’s rendition of v. 8b, “And the bloodguiltiness shall be forgiven them,” is correct as a paraphrase and means “the bloodguiltiness of the inhabitants of the city in which the murder was committed shall be forgiven.” The original meaning of the text, however, is “And [the guilt arising from the shedding of] the blood [of the innocent person] shall be forgiven them [the inhabitants of the city].” The implied genitive of “blood” is “(of) the innocent person killed,” and, if we substituted “bloodguilt” for “blood,” we would get “the bloodguilt of the innocent person killed,” which is not the intended meaning of the text. In Isaiah 4:4, “blood” has an expressed genitive: “(of) Jerusalem.” Nowhere in the Bible can “bloodguilt” be ever substituted for “blood” in the expression “the blood of …,” and, if FT disagrees with me, I challenge him to prove me wrong. If, as FT claims, “the blood of Jezreel” refers to the blood shed in Jezreel and “the blood of Jerusalem” means the “bloodguilt of Jerusalem,” then these are unique cases of the use of the expression “the blood of …” with no parallels elsewhere in the Bible for either. Need I say that it is very poor exegesis? (See below “Proof that ‘his blood’ in Hosea 12:14 refers to Ephraim’s own blood” for more on this topic.)

  2. Now to the second objection. In FT’s exegesis, Jezreel symbolizes two different things. I showed in my article that when a child, like Jezreel, who is to serve as a sign is given a name, that name always signifies some one aspect of God’s dealings with the nation of Israel. Isaiah’s sons Shearjashubsheh (Isaiah 7:3, cf. 10:20-23), Mahershalalhashbaz (8:1-4), and Immanuel (7:10-16, cf.8:5-10), all symbolize some one thing that God was going to do for Israel. (Immanuel was apparently born to a virgin who became Isaiah's wife and so Isaiah was the foster father of the child, much as Joseph was the foster father of Jesus.) In the book of Hosea itself, Lo-ruhamah and Lo-ammi, both half-siblings of Jezreel, each symbolizes again one thing. If Jezreel signified two different things, he would be the odd man out.

  3. Any interpretation that sees significance in the etymological meaning of Jezreel in Hosea 1:4 plainly ignores the fact that the text itself provides no support for it. An analysis of 1:4-5 reveals the following structure (Young’s Literal Translation used):

    And Jehovah saith unto him, Call his name Jezreel for yet a little (1) and I have charged the blood of Jezreel on the house of Jehu
    (2) and have caused to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel
    (3) and it hath come to pass in that day that I have broken the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel

    The conjunction “for” (Heb. כִּי []) denotes that the reason/s for the naming of the first child as “Jezreel" is\are to be sought in the clauses in (1) to (3) above. (Note: The same conjunction occurs in Hosea 1:2: “Go take to yourself a wife of harlotry … for [Heb. כִּי] the land commits great harlotry….”) The reader will note that the etymological meaning of Jezreel (“God sows”) is not one of them. And that is why I abandoned the etymological explanation for the name given in my article (“God scatters”). It is not until Hosea 2:22-23 is reached that the etymological meaning of the name (“God sows”) emerges in relation to Israel’s restoration. The name “Jezreel” refers to a geographical location in which a decisive battle is to take place, which is mentioned in the immediately following context (1:5), and so it is not necessary to see any significance in the etymological meaning of the name in Hosea 1:2-5.

    Editor's Note: There is much more to LJ's article, which I will add to this part as I complete my replies to those additional sections. Readers can go here to begin reading my point-by-point replies to his second attempt to try to prove that "the blood of Jezreel" in Hosea 1:4 was not referring to Jehu's massacre at Jezreel but to the blood of the children of Israel whom Yahweh had allowed the Syrians to kill because of his anger over idolatry that had been promoted by the kings of the Jehu dynasty.]

 


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