"Psalm 23," John August Swanson. Used by permission from the artist.
Image © by John August Swanson. Artwork held in the Luther Seminary Fine Arts Collection, St. Paul, Minn.
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Hosea 11:1-9 Commentary
by Margaret Odell
This poem of YHWH’s anguished love for the beloved child Israel stands as one of the most poignant testimonies to divine love in the Old Testament, if not in the entire Bible.
Quite possibly the earliest expression of God’s love in the Bible, it is also the most passionate, as it portrays God’s heart in conflict with his plans, his compassion averting his anger. When Israel was still in Egypt, God loved him and called him his son; yet from this very beginning, Ephraim has turned away to other lords (ba?alîm, Hosea 11:2). Metaphors of YHWH as father and shepherd explore the full range of God’s love and care, which Israel has spurned. The metaphors appeal to the audience’s sympathy, evoking an identification with God’s hurt. Under any other human covenantal arrangement of the time, such rebellion would spell certain doom. Faced with such a prospect, YHWH is moved to question what he is about to do. The questions push him to a new conclusion about his identity, as well as the enduring nature of his love.
Hosea’s exploration of divine love has its beginnings in a fraught political context, in which Israel’s bid ...
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Summer 2020 Readings
2020-21 Readings (Year 3)
The narrative lectionary is a four-year cycle of readings. Read more.
NL Podcast 380: Hosea
November 10, 2019
Podcast on the Narrative Lectionary readings for Nov. 10, 2019, (Hosea) featuring Profs. Rolf Jacobson, Craig Koester, and Kathryn Schifferdecker. Recorded at Luther Seminary, Saint Paul, Minn., for Working Preacher.