Hosea Ch 5
This chapter is subtitled “Judgment Against Israel” and it certainly is exactly that. Through the prophet Hosea, The Lord lambasts the various tribes, particularly Ephraim.
Jacob (that is Israel) had 12 sons and you might think that each of these sons gave rise to the 12 tribes of Israel. Not quite! Jacob elevated his grandsons, Mannasseh and Ephraim, to full tribe status alongside his other sons. “Why?, I hear you ask.
I’m no biblical scholar but I’ll take a punt. Jacob’s 12 sons were from 4 different “wives” – well 2 wives, Leah and Rachel, and one of each of their slaves (handmaidens, concubines or what you will.) The biblical account is clear that Rachel was Jacob’s favourite wife but she had trouble conceiving so Jacob explored several other possibilities. It is fairly obvious that Joseph, the first son to come eventually from Rachel would have been his favourite but certainly not the eldest. Hence, Jacob split what would have been the tribe descended from Joseph into two separate but fully accredited tribes descended from Joseph’s sons Ephraim and Mannasseh. Sort of doubled up on the inheritance for Joseph’s lot.
“A baker’s dozen”, I hear you cry. Doesn’t that make 13 tribes of Israel?
No! Well..er, yes.. maybe. The Bible is such an interesting book when you look into it. The tribe of Levi were assigned to the duties of priests to serve all of the other tribes and as such they were not allowed to own land. So, maybe yes, 13 tribes but only 12 nations were formed in the promised land.
Now if even the tribe of Ephraim, the favoured grandson from the favoured son of the favoured wife was getting mixed up in immorality, then things must have been pretty bad and God was not happy! Also, Ephraim seems to be a sort of nickname for the Northern Kingdom although Manasseh had a much bigger land holding. Similarly, Judah became symbolic of the Southern kingdom. The tribes are seen here forming various alliances with non-Jewish nations around them. Of course we see The Lord threatening his people with misery because of their lack of trust in Him, and history played out the destruction of the entire kingdom, taken away in slavery. Lesson#1: Pay attention to God and his laws rather than trying to shore up aspects of your life with reliance on your own plans.
“Martha my dear”, I can almost hear Jesus singing these words. Her sister, Mary chose to sit down and listen to Jesus rather than getting involved in the household chores. Martha called for Jesus to back her up and chide Mary for not helping but, perhaps surprisingly, he didn’t. I think there is a bit of a balancing act going on here because Jesus also urged us to have a servant mentality. However, busy work for God is not always what God wants, as in this case. Lesson#2: see lesson #1.