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The Jehu Failure
by Farrell Till

2002 / January-February

A better title for Mr. Simmons’ article would be "The Jehu Failure," because his article really wasn't much of a "solution" to the Jehu problem. I commend Simmons for having the integrity to try to correct what he considers a mistake he made in an earlier article in which he took the position that inconsistent views of the Jezreel massacre were presented in 2 Kings 10:30 and Hosea 1:4, but as we will see, the new insight that Simmons thinks he has discovered is really only a strained attempt to find consistency where none exists. The opinion of Hosea regarding the massacre simply differed from the glowing approval that the writer of 2 Kings had expressed about this event.

Divergent religious views were by no means uncommon in biblical times. The prophet Jeremiah, for example, was constantly at odds with other biblical writers and the "prophets" of his generation. Leviticus and other books in the Pentateuch made frequent references to both animal and grain sacrifices that were allegedly required of the Israelites during the wilderness years after their exodus from Egypt, but Jeremiah claimed that Yahweh had not commanded sacrifices at that time.

7:21-22 Thus says Yahweh of hosts, the God of Israel: Add your burnt offerings to your sacrifices, and eat the flesh. For in the day that I brought your ancestors out of the land of Egypt, I did not speak to them or command them concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices.
Jeremiah even accused the scribes of his day of having falsified what was in the law of Yahweh.

9:8 How can you say, "We are wise, and the law of Yahweh is with us," when, in fact, the false pen of the scribes has made it into a lie?
This could conceivably have been Jeremiah's explanation for why references to sacrifices may have been in the versions of the Pentateuch that existed in his day, but whatever the truth in this matter may have been, widespread religious dissension clearly existed at this time. The book of Jeremiah tells a tale of fierce prophetic rivalry as Jeremiah railed against other prophets in Jerusalem whose prophetic rantings disagreed with his. They were, of course, lying prophets, who claimed to have "dreamed" (23:25) but hadn't really received prophetic revelations from Yahweh. Jeremiah's message was that he was right and the others were wrong. A biblical inerrantist would simply say that the others were false prophets and Jeremiah was the true one, chosen of Yahweh, but Simmons can't take this simplistic way out, because he doesn't believe that the Bible is a divine revelation and probably doesn't believe in divine revelation at all. Hence, he has to accept that, according to Jeremiah's version of events, there was considerable religious dissension in Jerusalem prior to its fall to Babylon. The reality of the time, then, was the same as it is today: the religious leaders couldn't agree on what was truth.

There are other examples of theological disagreement in the Old Testament, but the case of Jeremiah is sufficient to establish that it is not at all unlikely that one biblical writer would disagree with another's view of events in Israelite history. However, the fact that some biblical writers disagreed with others would not, in and of itself, prove that Hosea disagreed with the writer of 2 Kings, so I have the obligation to show that it is far more likely that he did disagree than that some unlikely interpretation of Hosea 1:4 removes the inconsistency. If I showed only that it was possible that Hosea disagreed with another biblical writer, I would be playing essentially the same inerrantist game that claims possible explanations of discrepancies prove that there aren't any real discrepancies.

Hosea's audience: Simmons' primary argument seemed to be that Hosea was speaking to the Israelites of his day, and so it is implausible to think that a prophet reprimanding a contemporary audience would "abruptly change horses" within the span of half a verse to condemn Jehu’s actions at Jezreel. More than anything else in his article, this statement made me wonder just how much Mr. Simmons really knows about the Bible. In modern-day events in countries that occupy the former biblical lands, we see attitudes that are based on centuries-old feuds and grudges. This seems to be a cultural defect that the people in those countries just can't rise above, so it isn't a bit surprising to see that many biblical events were rooted in similar attitudes.

The prophet Amos, for example, was a contemporary of Hosea, and his prophetic rantings were also directed to his contemporaries, but he made frequent references to events of the past that had violated the covenant that Yahweh had made with Israel after the exodus.

2:9-16 Yet I destroyed the Amorite before them [the Israelites], whose height was like the height of cedars, and who was as strong as oaks I destroyed his fruit above, and his roots beneath. Also I brought you up out of the land of Egypt, and led you forty years in the wilderness, to possess the land of the Amorite. And I raised up some of your children to be prophets and some of your youths to be Nazirites. Is it not indeed so, O people of Israel? says Yahweh. But you made the Nazirites drink wine, and commanded the prophets, saying, "You shall not prophesy."

So, I will press you down in your place, just as a cart presses down when it is full of sheaves. Flight shall perish from the swift, and the strong shall not retain their strength, nor shall the mighty save their lives those who handle the bow shall not stand, and those who are swift of foot shall not save themselves, nor shall those who ride horses save their lives and those who are stout of heart among the mighty shall flee away naked in that day, says Yahweh.

Amos was particularly upset with the idolatrous worship at Bethel instituted by Jeroboam, the first king of Israel, but his tirade made references to sins of the past that his contemporaries were not responsible for. In the passage above, Amos reminded his readers that Yahweh had brought the Israelites out of Egypt and had destroyed the Amorites so that the Israelites could possess their land, but his kindness had been repaid by a people who caused Nazirites to break their vows and tried to silence the prophets. Although these were sins of their ancestors, Amos prophesied that Yahweh would punish his contemporaries at least partly for what they had not actually done themselves.

Right in the middle of a tirade against his contemporaries for idolatrous practices at Bethal, Amos abruptly "changed horses," which Simmons claimed that no writer would do, and brought up the past again.

5:25-27 "Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings forty years in the desert, O house of Israel? You have lifted up the shrine of your king, the pedestal of your idols, the star of your god- which you made for yourselves. Therefore I will send you into exile beyond Damascus," says Yahweh, whose name is God Almighty.
The Septuagint version of this passage, which Stephen quoted in his speech in Acts 7:42-43, states that the Israelites had worshiped the god Moloch, whom the Israelites were sternly warned in their wilderness days not to worship (Lev. 20:1-5), so the reference to "sacrifices and offerings forty years in the desert" associated the offense of worshiping Moloch with the wilderness wanderings, yet Amos prophesied that Yahweh would send his contemporaries into exile beyond Damascus .

Simmons may argue that the contemporaries of Amos also worshiped Moloch, but an examination of the text will show that Amos was upset about idolatrous practices at Bethel (3:14 4:4 5:5-6). The priest of Bethel was so disturbed by the condemnation of Amos that he reported the prophet to king Jeroboam and then tried to exile Amos to Judah.

7:10-13 Then Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, sent to King Jeroboam of Israel, saying, "Amos has conspired against you in the very center of the house of Israel the land is not able to bear all his words. For thus Amos has said, `Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel must go into exile away from his land.'" And Amaziah said to Amos, "O seer, go, flee away to the land of Judah, earn your bread there, and prophesy there but never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king's sanctuary, and it is a temple of the kingdom."
Bethel was one of the two centers of worship in the northern kingdom where Jeroboam had set up golden calves for the people to worship (1 Kings 12:28-29), and the worship of Baal later became the idolatrous scourge of Israel, which Jehu stamped out in the incident under consideration in Simmons' article (2 Kings 10:18-28). Only a couple of references to the worship of Moloch are in the books of Kings (1.11:7 and 2.23:10), so it seems very unlikely that Amos, whose prophetic rantings had focused on the idolatry at Bethel, was referring to a contemporary worship of Moloch in 5:25-27.

Like Amos, Hosea also brought up past offenses in his prophetic rantings against the religious corruption of his day. I'm convinced that Hosea's reference to "the blood of Jezreel"in 1:4 is one such reference, but since this is the point of contention between Simmons and me, I'll show by other references that bringing up the past in his condemnation of contemporary Israel wasn't at all out of character for Hosea. Judges 19 tells the story of the Levite's concubine who was raped and killed by a mob of men in Gibeah. This incident precipitated a civil war between the Benjamites in Gibeah and the other tribes of Israel (Judges 20). Hosea cited this event as an example of the wickedness that had been typical of the Israelites, and warned his contemporaries that they would be punished for their "double iniquity."

10:9-10 Since the days of Gibeah you have sinned, O Israel there they have continued. Shall not war overtake them in Gibeah? I will come against the wayward people to punish them and nations shall be gathered against them when they are punished for their double iniquity.
The incident at Gibeah had happened centuries before the time of Hosea, yet the prophet mentioned it as one of the reasons for the impending judgment of his contemporaries.

Hosea constantly reminded his readers that Yahweh had brought the Israelites out of Egypt.

11:1 When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. The more I called them, the more they went from me they kept sacrificing to the Baals, and offering incense to idols. Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, I took them up in my arms but they did not know that I healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with bands of love. I was to them like those who lift infants to their cheeks. I bent down to them and fed them. They shall return to the land of Egypt, and Assyria shall be their king, because they have refused to return to me.
Of course, it was the contemporary corruption in Gigal that Hosea was primarily concerned with, but he seemed unable to separate the corruption of his time from the sins of the past. In 9:10, for example, he referred to the incident at Baal-peor as just another example of Israelite rebellion against Yahweh.

Like grapes in the wilderness, I found Israel. Like the first fruit on the fig tree, in its first season, I saw your ancestors. But they came to Baal-peor, and consecrated themselves to a thing of shame, and became detestable like the thing they loved.
Baal-peor was where the Israelites in their wilderness years engaged in the orgy with Moabite/Midianite women that provoked Yahweh to kill 23,000 people (Numbers 25). The ones who participated in this orgy were punished with death, yet centuries later Hosea wagged the incident into his denunication of contemporary Israelites. If Simmons will examine this passage, he will find that Hosea was expressing Yahweh's anger at the Baal-peor incident and then in the very next verse was declaring the judgments that awaited his contemporaries for their "wickedness at Gilgal" (9:15), another center of contemporary religious corruption. It just isn't true, then, that a biblical writer railing about sin and corruption in his own era would not "switch in midstream" to the sin and corruption of another time. Biblical writers often did it.

I would need an entire article to discuss all the examples of vicarious condemnation and punishment in the Old Testament. The concept appeared early in Israelite culture when Yahweh warned that he would visit the sins of the fathers upon later generations.

Exodus 20:4-6 You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them for I Yahweh your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me....
This precept, of course, contradicted Yahweh's decree that no one should be punished for the sins of ancestors (Deut. 24:16), but that is a problem for biblical inerrantists to explain. At this point, I just want to show that the principle of vicarious punishment was imbedded in ancient Hebrew culture.

When Achan's sin of having stolen booty in the battle of Jericho was discovered, for example, his sons, his daughters, his livestock, and all of his belongings were taken with him to the valley of Achor and burned (Josh. 7:22-26). The sons and daughters and even dumb animals were punished for the sin of another. On their way out of Egypt, the Israelites were attacked by the Amalekites, and over 400 years later, Yahweh commanded Saul, the first king of Israel, to exterminate the Amalekite nation for this attack.

1 Samuel 15:2-3 Thus saith Yahweh of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.
Biblical inerrantists have desperately tried to defend the massacre of the Amalekites on the grounds that they were punished for their own wickedness, but there is nothing in this text or any biblical text to indicate that the Amalekites of Saul’s day were so "wickeded" that Yahweh had felt compelled to order their destruction. The only reason given for this command was that the Amalekites had "laid wait" for the Israelites on their way out of Egypt. Clearly, this story is presented as a case where an entire nation was punished for something that had been done by their ancestors centuries ago.

An example closer to the time of Hosea was Yahweh’s determination to punish the 6th-century Israelites for something that their ancestor king Manasseh had done a half century earlier. According to 2 Kings 21, Manasseh "shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another beside his sin wherewith he made Judah to sin, in doing that which was evil in the sight of Yahweh" (v:16). There's a bit of hyperbole in this, of course, but we will just accept that Manasseh was another rotten egg in the long line of kings that Yahweh had picked to rule Israel and Judah. If he was as bad as the biblical writers described him, why didn't Yahweh step in and punish him for committing such atrocities? Instead (if we believe the biblical record), Yahweh allowed Manasseh to die an apparently natural death after which he punished the whole nation of Israel 60 years later for what Manasseh had done, even though the nation itself had reformed. Manasseh was succeeded by his son Amon, who was assassinated by his servants (2 Kings 21:23), and then Josiah, the grandson of Manasseh, became king.

Josiah's reign was described as a righteous one. He instituted religious reforms that abolished idolatry and restored mosaic laws and ceremonies that had been neglected by his predecessors. He was described as the most righteous of all the kings who had reigned before him.

2 Kings 23:25 And like unto him [Josiah] was there no king before him, that turned to Yahweh with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses neither after him arose there any like him.
If Josiah was more righteous then all the kings before and after him, that would have necessarily included David, who was described as a man after Yahweh's own heart (1 Sam. 13:14), who "did what was right in the sight of Yahweh, and did not turn aside from anything that he commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite" (1 Kings 15:5). Despite the unusual righteousness of Josiah, Yahweh, according to the perspective of the historian who recorded Josiah's reign, still carried a grudge against Judah because of the sins of Manasseh, who had been dead for over 30 years, and while heaping praise on Josiah, the writer switched from the present to the past and said that Yahweh would punish the whole nation of Judah for the sins of the long-dead Manasseh.

Verses 26-27 Notwithstanding Yahweh turned not from the fierceness of his great wrath, wherewith his anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations that Manasseh had provoked him withal. And Yahweh said, I will remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel, and will cast off this city Jerusalem which I have chosen, and the house of which I said, My name shall be there.
This, then, is an example in reverse of what Simmons said that the prophet Hosea would not have done. While telling of the exceptional righteous of a king, the writer "abruptly changed horses" to pronounce judgment on Judah for something a king had done in the past. That would be no different from Hosea's pronouncing judgment on Israel and then in "midstream" switching to include also a pronouncement of judgment on the people for what Jehu had done. To his way of thinking, it would have been entirely appropriate for Yahweh to punish Israel for something that an ancestor king had done.

Simmons talked about what English teachers would say about the flow of Hosea's ideas in the disputed text, but he failed to consider that English teachers today do not think the way people did in ancient, superstitious time. The idea of vicarious punishment is morally repugnant to us today, but it wasn't in biblical times. We think today in terms of the separation of religion and state, but this would have been an idea completely incomprehensible to people in biblical times. They saw the hands of their gods in every human activity. Fortuitous circumstances were attributed to the favor of the gods and misfortune was blamed on the displeasure of the gods. In the inscription on the Moabite Stone, king Mesha said that "Omri [an Israelite king] had oppressed Moab many days, for Chemosh [the Moabite god] was angry with the land," but later he told of victories that Chemosh had given him (D. Winton Thomas, Documents from Old Testament Times, pp. 196-197). If the name Chemosh were changed to Yahweh, the inscription on the Moabite Stone would read like a page out of the Bible, which also attributed good fortune to having pleased the national god and bad fortune to having displeased him.

Judges 7-9 The Israelites did what was evil in the sight of Yahweh, forgetting Yahweh their God, and worshiping the Baals and the Asherahs. Therefore the anger of Yahweh was kindled against Israel, and he sold them into the hand of King Cushan-rishathaim of Aram-naharaim and the Israelites served Cushan-rishathaim eight years. But when the Israelites cried out to Yahweh, Yahweh raised up a deliverer for the Israelites, who delivered them, Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother.
This passage is just one of many that show the same primitive belief. The people of biblical times could not conceive of bad things happening and good things happening just because both bad things and good things are bound to happen to people over time. They saw the bad as the result of having displeased their gods and the good as having pleased their gods. Hence, when good fortune befell the Israelites, they thought that they were living right, but when misfortune happened, they thought that someone had "done that which was evil in the sight of Yahweh." An interesting study would be to count the number of times this statement appears in the Old Testament.

Although the Old Testament is by no means inerrant, some of it was apparently based on actual historical events. It's just the writers' interpretations of those events that is a bit hard for rational people to swallow. Extrabiblical records, for example, mentioned Ahab, the Israelite king whose reign was recorded in 1 Kings 16-22, so there is undoubtedly some basis in fact for what the Bible says about him. Chapter 21 tells the story of Ahab's desire to acquire the vineyard owned by Naboth, which resulted in his wife Jezebel's plot to murder Naboth. For this offense committed by Jezebel, Yahweh sent Elijah the prophet to condemn Ahab (another example of vicarious judgment).

1 Kings 21:21-24 " I will bring disaster on you I will consume you, and will cut off from Ahab every male, bond or free, in Israel and I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha son of Ahijah, because you have provoked me to anger and have caused Israel to sin." Also concerning Jezebel Yahweh said, `The dogs shall eat Jezebel within the bounds of Jezreel.' Anyone belonging to Ahab who dies in the city the dogs shall eat and anyone of his who dies in the open country the birds of the air shall eat."
A parenthetical statement followed in which Ahab was described as the worst of the Israelite kings, because he had done evil in the sight of Yahweh by worshiping idols as the Amorites, whom Yahweh had driven out of the land, had done. Ahab eventually died in battle (1 Kings 22:37), but the judgment that Elijah pronounced upon him wasn't carried out, so one wonders why, if Ahab was so extremely wicked, Yahweh didn't kill him on the spot after he had condemned him through the prophet Elijah. The answer probably lies in how the writer of 1 Kings interpreted what may have actually happened . Ahab was an actual historical character, who died when he died, and the writer was no doubt aware of the time of Ahab's death, so he couldn't record his death before it had actually happened without running the risk of having the inaccuracy of his account exposed. He could, however, interpret the events in a way that would not have been questioned by his contemporaries.

That interpretation was simply that Yahweh didn’t carry out the judgment against Ahab, because Ahab expressed anguish and repentance when he heard the judgment.

1 Kings 21:28-29 When Ahab heard those words [of Elijah], he tore his clothes and put sackcloth over his bare flesh he fasted, lay in the sackcloth, and went about dejectedly. Then the word of Yahweh came to Elijah the Tishbite: "Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the disaster in his days but in his son's days I will bring the disaster on his house."
The writer of 1 Kings was probably aware of two historical facts: (1) Ahab's death did not occur at a time close to the Naboth incident. (2) Jehu became king of Israel by massacring the family of Ahab's son Jehoram of Israel. These events had to be interpreted in terms of how the people of that day thought, so the writer simply reported that because Ahab had repented, Yahweh postponed the punishment until Ahab's son was king. Since Jehu had killed the entire royal family of Israel, including even servants, the writer told the story as if the grisly deed were something that Yahweh had commanded in punishment for the sins of a king who was already dead at the time. No one at that time would have thought it at all unusual that an evil king had "done that which was right in Yahweh's sight" by repenting, and so Yahweh had delayed the punishment pronounced upon his "house" until the evil king's son was on the throne. This way, the writer killed two birds with one stone and gave his readers what would have seemed to them to be a sensible explanation for why Yahweh didn't punish Ahab at the time of the heinous murder of Naboth and why Jehu had come to power in a coup d'etat against the royal family of Israel. It was all the will of Yahweh.

This is exactly how the writer explained Jerusalem's fall to the Babylonians. Although king Josiah had been more righteous than any king before him, Yahweh punished the entire nation for atrocities that had been committed by Manasseh a half century before Josiah's reign. I have already noted above where the writer interrupted his praise of Josiah's righteous reign to say that, nevertheless, Yahweh wouldn't turn the fierceness of his great wrathaway from Judah because of what Manasseh had done. To make sure his readers got this message, the writer repeated it when he reported Nebuchadnezzar's siege of Jerusalem.

2 Kings 24:3 Surely this came upon Judah at the command of Yahweh, to remove them out of his sight, for the sins of Manasseh, for all that he had committed, and also for the innocent blood that he had shed for he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, and Yahweh was not willing to pardon.
The writer needed an explanation for why the chosen people of Yahweh had been taken into captivity, and so he found one by blaming it on the wickedness of Manesseh.

The foundation of Simmons' argument is therefore flawed. Biblical writers would not only "change horses in midstream" while ranting against the religious corruption of their time but, as we have seen, quite often did make such midstream changes. They saw blaming the adversity of their own times on the misdeeds of their predecessors as a perfectly sensible way to interpret their world. If Simmons is going to find harmony in 2 Kings 10:30 and Hosea 1:4, then, he is going to have to do more than simply argue that Hosea's rage against the religious corruption of his time would not have let him bring up past offenses in the same context. Biblical records simply do not support that argument.

This takes care of Simmons' Problem 1, so I'll reply to as many of his other problems as space permits and answer in the next issue any that I can't get to now.

Hosea’s historical perspective: Simmons’ point wasn’t too clear here, but the best I could tell, he was arguing that Hosea would have been familiar with "Jehu’s history" and therefore would not have challenged the conduct of a national hero to whom Yahweh himself had given "the thumbs up for his zeal in his religious cleansing of Israel," but Simmons is begging the very question in dispute: would one biblical writer have disagreed with another? He may as well have argued that Jeremiah would have been familiar with the history of the wilderness years of the Israelites and would therefore not have claimed that Yahweh had given them no commands concerning burnt-offerings and sacrifices when he brought them out of Egypt. The fact is that this is exactly what biblical inerrantists argue in trying to explain what Jeremiah really meant. Their argument is that he couldn't have meant what he clearly said, because if he did, that would conflict with other passages in the Bible. Now Simmons is arguing the same thing in the matter of Hosea’s condemnation of the "blood of Jezreel."

Wherefore art thou, Jehu? Simmons claimed that Hosea 1:4 could not have been a condemnation of the massacre at Jezreel, because "Jehu, the man, is not mentioned once in the entire book of Hosea." Hosea didn't refer to Corzi or Moses or Phinehas either, who were leading characters in the incident at Baal-peor, which he referred to in 9:1, but does this mean that Hosea was not condemning the orgy that occurred on this occasion (Num. 25)? He didn't mention Moses or Aaron or any of the central characters in the exodus when he referred to it in 11:1-3, so does this mean that Yahweh’s "calling [his] son out of Egypt" was not a reference to the exodus? He didn't mention the Levite or his concubine or the "old man" or the rapist mob, who were all central characters in the incident at Gibeah referred to in 10:9. I could fill a page with examples of biblical references to incidents that did not specifically name the participants in them. Hosea did, however, make a clear reference to "the blood of Jezreel," and one would have to strain common sense to the breaking point to argue that this was not a reference to Jehu’s massacre of the royal family of Israel at Jezreel.

The house of Jehu: Simmons argued that Hosea lived in the time of Jehu’s great-grandson Zachariah, so the term "house of Jehu" referred to Zachariah and not Jehu, so Hosea was really saying that Zachariah and all in his "house" were going to be destroyed. Actually Zachariah was the great-great grandson of Jehu, but that isn't the biggest problem in this quibble. If Simmons doesn't know that house in the sense that Hosea used it in this passage referred to a lineage or dynasty that was begun by the person who gave the "house" its name, then he needs to inform himself on the usage of very basic biblical expressions. Jehu didn't massacre king Ahab and his family. He massacred the family of Ahab's son Jehoram, but the biblical writer said that in so doing, Jehu had killed "the house of Ahab" (2 Kings 10:11). Jeroboam died an apparently natural death (1 Kings 14:20), but when Baasha killed Jeroboam's son Nadab, seized the throne, and then massacred Nadab's family, the writer referred to this as killing "all the house of Jeroboam" and "leaving to the house of Jeroboam not one that breathed" (15:29). In 1 Kings 14:8, the prophet Ahijah made reference to the part of the kingdom that had been torn from the "house of David." At this time, David was dead, and Rehoboam was the actual descendant of David at the time when the united kingdom was divided between him and Jeroboam, so Ahijah's intended meaning was obviously that the northern part of the kingdom had been taken away from the dynasty that was begun by David. Hence, when Hosea said that the blood of Jezreel would be avenged on the "house of Jezreel," he meant that all descendants of the person named Jehu, the eponymous ancestor of this "house," would be punished and not just the great-great grandson Zachariah.

The remaining problems: I dislike having to carry this discussion over into another issue, but the two remaining "problems" that Simmons saw in my position in this matter cannot be discussed in the short space remaining below, so I will devote a couple of pages in the next issue to his final two points.

Much of Simmons' confusion about Hosea 1:4 would probably dissipate if he just realized that biblical "historians" tried to reconcile the realities of what actually happened around them with the ingrained belief that the hand of Yahweh was involved in all the affairs of his "chosen people," so when prophets or writers were confronted with the cognitive dissonance of a reality that seemed in obvious conflict with the chosen-people belief of the ancient Israelites, they had to find some kind of explanation for the apparent contradiction. As noted earlier, the writer(s) of the books of Kings solved the problem of the Babylonian captivity by "explaining" that Yahweh couldn't forgive the Judeans, despite the exceptional righteousness of Josiah, because Manasseh had been so evil that he had to punish the whole nation. In the next issue, we will see a similar problem that confronted Hosea, who blamed contemporary troubles on Jehu.

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