This reflection is part of the ongoing Forest Hills Haftorah Series. The rest of the content can be found here: .

above: Hosea, painted in the 10th century!!! Kept in the Vatican Library

The 8th-century prophet Hosea might be one of the greatest poets whose works would be included in the TaNaKh. The imagery, and the metaphors he would weave together in order to draw his audience in completely was astounding and amazing.

I'll give you one example to start out.

At the end of the 5th chapter, YHWH expresses huge disappointment at the lack of Israel's loyalty. And so, in disgust, YHWH decides to withdraw from the world, thinking that when the Israelites realize what they had lost, they would change their ways in the hope of getting it back.

Here is how this plays out:

Just like the dew

(טו) אֵלֵ֤ךְ אָשׁ֙וּבָה֙ אֶל־מְקוֹמִ֔י עַ֥ד אֲשֶֽׁר־יֶאְשְׁמ֖וּ וּבִקְשׁ֣וּ פָנָ֑י בַּצַּ֥ר לָהֶ֖ם יְשַׁחֲרֻֽנְנִי׃ (א) לְכוּ֙ וְנָשׁ֣וּבָה אֶל־יְהוָ֔ה כִּ֛י ה֥וּא טָרָ֖ף וְיִרְפָּאֵ֑נוּ יַ֖ךְ וְיַחְבְּשֵֽׁנוּ׃ (ב) יְחַיֵּ֖נוּ מִיֹּמָ֑יִם בַּיּוֹם֙ הַשְּׁלִישִׁ֔י יְקִמֵ֖נוּ וְנִחְיֶ֥ה לְפָנָֽיו׃ (ג) וְנֵדְעָ֣ה נִרְדְּפָ֗ה לָדַ֙עַת֙ אֶת־יְהוָ֔ה כְּשַׁ֖חַר נָכ֣וֹן מֽוֹצָא֑וֹ וְיָב֤וֹא כַגֶּ֙שֶׁם֙ לָ֔נוּ כְּמַלְק֖וֹשׁ י֥וֹרֶה אָֽרֶץ׃ (ד) מָ֤ה אֶֽעֱשֶׂה־לְּךָ֙ אֶפְרַ֔יִם מָ֥ה אֶעֱשֶׂה־לְּךָ֖ יְהוּדָ֑ה וְחַסְדְּכֶם֙ כַּֽעֲנַן־בֹּ֔קֶר וְכַטַּ֖ל מַשְׁכִּ֥ים הֹלֵֽךְ׃ (ה) עַל־כֵּ֗ן חָצַ֙בְתִּי֙ בַּנְּבִיאִ֔ים הֲרַגְתִּ֖ים בְּאִמְרֵי־פִ֑י וּמִשְׁפָּטֶ֖יךָ א֥וֹר יֵצֵֽא׃ (ו) כִּ֛י חֶ֥סֶד חָפַ֖צְתִּי וְלֹא־זָ֑בַח וְדַ֥עַת אֱלֹהִ֖ים מֵעֹלֽוֹת׃ (ז) וְהֵ֕מָּה כְּאָדָ֖ם עָבְר֣וּ בְרִ֑ית שָׁ֖ם בָּ֥גְדוּ בִֽי׃ (ח) גִּלְעָ֕ד קִרְיַ֖ת פֹּ֣עֲלֵי אָ֑וֶן עֲקֻבָּ֖ה מִדָּֽם׃ (ט) וּכְחַכֵּ֨י אִ֜ישׁ גְּדוּדִ֗ים חֶ֚בֶר כֹּֽהֲנִ֔ים דֶּ֖רֶךְ יְרַצְּחוּ־שֶׁ֑כְמָה כִּ֥י זִמָּ֖ה עָשֽׂוּ׃ (י) בְּבֵית֙ יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל רָאִ֖יתִי שעריריה [שַׁעֲרֽוּרִיָּ֑ה] שָׁ֚ם זְנ֣וּת לְאֶפְרַ֔יִם נִטְמָ֖א יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃ (יא) גַּם־יְהוּדָ֕ה שָׁ֥ת קָצִ֖יר לָ֑ךְ בְּשׁוּבִ֖י שְׁב֥וּת עַמִּֽי׃ (פ)

(15) And I will return to My abode— Till they realize their guilt. In their distress, they will seek Me And beg for My favor!

[Israel reacts:]

“Come! Let us turn back to YHWH:

... (3) Let us know, let us pursue in order to know YHWH!

His appearance is as sure as daybreak, And He will come to us like rain, Like latter rain he shall shower the earth!”

[YHWH responds:]

(4) What can I do for you, Ephraim, What can I do for you, Judah, When your faithfulness is like morning clouds and like dew; So early gone.

Look at what's going on with the water imagery here.

Israel uses it first, eagerly looking forward to pursuing after, and then knowing YHWH once again, anticipating YHWH's appearance to be akin to the blessing of rain, which quenches and refreshes.

If you read the Hebrew, you should notice that the terms that Hosea uses should be quite evocative; For it is reminiscent of another passage in Deuteronomy 11:

If and only if

(יג) וְהָיָ֗ה אִם־שָׁמֹ֤עַ תִּשְׁמְעוּ֙ אֶל־מִצְוֺתַ֔י אֲשֶׁ֧ר אָנֹכִ֛י מְצַוֶּ֥ה אֶתְכֶ֖ם הַיּ֑וֹם לְאַהֲבָ֞ה אֶת־יְהוָ֤ה אֱלֹֽהֵיכֶם֙ וּלְעָבְד֔וֹ בְּכָל־לְבַבְכֶ֖ם וּבְכָל־נַפְשְׁכֶֽם׃ (יד) וְנָתַתִּ֧י מְטַֽר־אַרְצְכֶ֛ם בְּעִתּ֖וֹ יוֹרֶ֣ה וּמַלְק֑וֹשׁ וְאָסַפְתָּ֣ דְגָנֶ֔ךָ וְתִֽירֹשְׁךָ֖ וְיִצְהָרֶֽךָ׃

(13) If, then, you obey the commandments that I enjoin upon you this day, loving YHWH your elohim and serving Him with all your heart and with every breath, then I shall grant the rain for your land in season, the early rain and the late.

Sound familiar? The terms to keep your eyes open for are yoreh, which here in Deuteronomy refers to the early rains, as well as malkosh, the late rains. Having these rains, the right rains at the right times, was a matter of huge importance for Israel. It was never anything short of the difference between life and death.

In Deuteronomy, Moses, speaking on behalf of YHWH, promises the Israelites that obedience will result in YHWH bringing forth blessings, and that these blessings will be in the form of the early and late rains.

It therefore makes sense that in Hosea's time, when the Israelites are trying to rebuild an estranged relationship, they look forward to YHWH's appearance amongst them yet again, which will be as pleasant as the late rains which are yoreh [lit. showering, but also same word for "early rains" from Deuteronomy].

Beautiful image, right?

But Hosea expects his audience to be adept at Hebrew, and so there is more going on here than meets the eye.

Take a look at this next passage from one of the prayer-poems, but you'll have to glance at the Hebrew to really get the point:


(י) כִּֽי־גָד֣וֹל אַ֭תָּה וְעֹשֵׂ֣ה נִפְלָא֑וֹת אַתָּ֖ה אֱלֹהִ֣ים לְבַדֶּֽךָ׃ (יא) ה֘וֹרֵ֤נִי יְהוָ֨ה ׀ דַּרְכֶּ֗ךָ אֲהַלֵּ֥ךְ בַּאֲמִתֶּ֑ךָ יַחֵ֥ד לְ֝בָבִ֗י לְיִרְאָ֥ה שְׁמֶֽךָ׃

(10) For You are great and perform wonders; You alone are elohim!

(11) Teach (horeini) me Your way, O YHWH! I will walk in Your truth; let my heart be undivided in reverence for Your name.

The term used here for teach is built from the same root word used for shower above; י-ר-ה. Interesting!

Here's another place where it's used:

(ח) וַיֹּרֵ֗ם אֱלֹ֫הִ֥ים חֵ֥ץ פִּתְא֑וֹם הָ֝י֗וּ מַכּוֹתָֽם׃

(8) Elohim shall shoot [the wicked-ones] with arrows, they shall be struck down suddenly!

So this is pretty neat. Yet again, another word built from the same root! (י-ר-ה). The same root is used to build (1) the early rains, (2) to instruct, (3) to shoot.

I love this idea that if you are teaching, or instructing someone, you are guiding them, helping to aim them along the straight-and-narrow path towards a worthwhile target, or goal, just as you would aim and then let fire an arrow.

What do you think the connection, if there is any, between these two and the falling of the early rains?

Let's now direct our attention back to Hosea, because with this background, we can appreciate even more what Hosea is doing here with his word-play.

The Israelites are pursuing after YHWH and look forward to his blessings, the blessings that will shower down, using the term י-ר-ה.

But they also said they were pursuing YHWH to know him!

So, while they are looking forward to his blessings showering down like rain, or for blessings that are physical and agricultural in nature, they are also looking for blessings that are intellectual. They want YHWH's instruction and guidance.

This emphasis on knowledge, or wisdom in pursuit of YHWH is consistent with Hosea elsewhere.

In fact, take a look at the capstone, the very end, to the his collected oracles:

(י) מִ֤י חָכָם֙ וְיָ֣בֵֽן אֵ֔לֶּה נָב֖וֹן וְיֵֽדָעֵ֑ם כִּֽי־יְשָׁרִ֞ים דַּרְכֵ֣י יְהוָ֗ה וְצַדִּקִים֙ יֵ֣לְכוּ בָ֔ם וּפֹשְׁעִ֖ים יִכָּ֥שְׁלוּ בָֽם׃

(10) He who is wise will consider these words. He who is prudent will take note of them.

For the paths of YHWH are smooth; The righteous can walk on them, While sinners stumble on them.

Okay, now we have to backtrack just a bit.

The purpose of the last few verses was to understand a bit of Hosea's intention below the surface in the Israelites' proclamation to pursue YHWH to know him, and to experience his blessings showering down like late rain upon them.

It's a beautiful and poetic idea!

But then we then get YHWH's response, and things do not look wonderful.

Let's look again at what YHWH says:

(ד) מָ֤ה אֶֽעֱשֶׂה־לְּךָ֙ אֶפְרַ֔יִם מָ֥ה אֶעֱשֶׂה־לְּךָ֖ יְהוּדָ֑ה וְחַסְדְּכֶם֙ כַּֽעֲנַן־בֹּ֔קֶר וְכַטַּ֖ל מַשְׁכִּ֥ים הֹלֵֽךְ׃

(4) What can I do for you, Ephraim, What can I do for you, Judah, When your faithfulness is like morning clouds and the dew; So early gone.

YHWH takes the rain-imagery of blessings used by Israel and plays with it in his response.

Israel's faithfulness, YHWH point out, is like the morning clouds and the dew.

For just a moment, we think that YHWH is being complementary. Just as Israel looks to YHWH's presence as a blessing, so too, YHWH looks to Israel's faithfulness as a blessing.

But then we get the punchline: So early gone.

In what sense is Israel's faithfulness like the morning dew? Not in any way positive or admirable; Only in that, as quick as it is to make an appearance, it will just as quickly fade away to nothingness.

In other words, when YHWH decides to withdraw from the world and Israel responds immediately by declaring her love for YHWH and desire for closeness - YHWH is not falling for it. He has seen this act before.

However, this period of separation will most certainly not be permanent. While there are moments when their relationship is fraught, Hosea reminds us, a number of times, that in the long run, YHWH and Israel's destiny is to be together, in love and in harmony.

As a counterpoint to what was shared above, here is one such passage:

Ploughland of Hope

(טז) לָכֵ֗ן הִנֵּ֤ה אָֽנֹכִי֙ מְפַתֶּ֔יהָ וְהֹֽלַכְתִּ֖יהָ הַמִּדְבָּ֑ר וְדִבַּרְתִּ֖י עַל לִבָּֽהּ׃ (יז) וְנָתַ֨תִּי לָ֤הּ אֶת־כְּרָמֶ֙יהָ֙ מִשָּׁ֔ם וְאֶת־עֵ֥מֶק עָכ֖וֹר לְפֶ֣תַח תִּקְוָ֑ה וְעָ֤נְתָה שָּׁ֙מָּה֙ כִּימֵ֣י נְעוּרֶ֔יהָ וִּכְי֖וֹם עֲלֹתָ֥הּ מֵאֶֽרֶץ־מִצְרָֽיִם׃ (ס)


(כא) וְאֵרַשְׂתִּ֥יךְ לִ֖י לְעוֹלָ֑ם וְאֵרַשְׂתִּ֥יךְ לִי֙ בְּצֶ֣דֶק וּבְמִשְׁפָּ֔ט וּבְחֶ֖סֶד וּֽבְרַחֲמִֽים׃ (כב) וְאֵרַשְׂתִּ֥יךְ לִ֖י בֶּאֱמוּנָ֑ה וְיָדַ֖עַתְּ אֶת־יְהוָֽה׃ (ס)

(16) Look!

I shall speak coaxingly to her and lead her through the wilderness, and speak to her tenderly. (17) I will give her her vineyards, and the Valley of Achor as a Ploughland of Hope!

There she shall respond as in the days of her youth, When she came up from the land of Egypt.


(21) And I will espouse you forever: I will espouse you with righteousness and justice, And with goodness and mercy, (22) And I will espouse you with faithfulness; Then you shall know YHWH!

For me, a number of Hosea's passages never get old; I can just read them over and over and over again.

(Awhile back, we spoke a little more at length on the above, in our discussion called Holy Matrimony. Here is the link: )

Like many of our prophets of yore, the collected oracles of Hosea continuously sway from one of these two extremes to the other - A love and a closeness that seems to have an intensity that can withstand any hardship one moment, and then frustration and heartbreak the next. And Hosea's poetic toolbox, from which he will pull out such a wide gamut of images to portray this drama, is huge.

In his 12th chapter, which will be chanted in many prayer-spaces this sabbath, we know right from the start that this is one of those moment where things are not looking good:

(ג) וְרִ֥יב לַֽיהוָ֖ה עִם־יְהוּדָ֑ה וְלִפְקֹ֤ד עַֽל־יַעֲקֹב֙ כִּדְרָכָ֔יו כְּמַעֲלָלָ֖יו יָשִׁ֥יב לֽוֹ׃

(3) YHWH has a lawsuit against Judah, to make a reckoning with Jacob for his ways; In accordance with his deeds, he will pay repay him.

Uh oh. Another lawsuit.

Unfortunately for our ancestors, YHWH had to bring many of these against Israel and Judah over the years. (We spoke the covenant lawsuits at length previously; see our limmud aptly titled The Lawsuit, found here: ).

What happens next though, is in my opinion, one of the most interesting passages in all of Hosea's oracles, and maybe even throughout the literary prophets generally.

We get a retelling of some of the defining moments in our dear forefather Jacob's life.

But the way in which Hosea reflects on Jacob's life, as well as the differences in

details, are worth paying special attention to.

But it is so brief, so if you blink, you miss it!

Here is the passage in full:


(ד) בַּבֶּ֖טֶן עָקַ֣ב אֶת־אָחִ֑יו וּבְאוֹנ֖וֹ שָׂרָ֥ה אֶת־אֱלֹהִֽים׃ (ה) וָיָּ֤שַׂר אֶל־מַלְאָךְ֙ וַיֻּכָ֔ל בָּכָ֖ה וַיִּתְחַנֶּן־ל֑וֹ בֵּֽית־אֵל֙ יִמְצָאֶ֔נּוּ וְשָׁ֖ם יְדַבֵּ֥ר עִמָּֽנוּ׃ (ו) וַֽיהוָ֖ה אֱלֹהֵ֣י הַצְּבָא֑וֹת יְהוָ֖ה זִכְרֽוֹ׃

(4) In the womb he deceived his brother;

Grown to manhood, he strove with elohim, (5) He strove with an angel and prevailed— The other had to weep and implore him.

At Bethel [Jacob] would find him, There to speak with him.

below: Check out this really neat rendition from the Byzantine era!

If you're familiar with the stories of Jacob as they are told in the book of Genesis, how interesting is this?

First of all, note the Hebrew term for deceived. As we saw above, Hosea is playing word-games.

Here is the entry in the Gesenius Lexicon:

(1) to be behind, to come from behind, hence עָקִב heel ...
(2) denom. from עָקֵב to take hold of any one’s heel. Hos_12:4, בַּבֶּטֶן עָקַב אֶת־מָחִיו “in the womb he took his brother by the heel,” compare אָחַז בְּעָקֵב Gen_25:26. Especially to throw any one down, to trip one up. Hence-
(3) to supplant, to circumvent, to defraud, Gen_27:36 Jer_9:3.
Piel, to hold back, to retard, Job_37:4.
Derivatives, עָקֵב-עָקְבָה, and the pr.n. יַעֲקֹב, יַעֲקֹבָה, עַקּוּב.

Note how in the second entry, Gesenius quotes our very verse as support that one of the definitions of ahkav is take hold of the heel. And in fact, Gesenius has much to rely on, for clearly Hosea is recollecting the following:


(כד) וַיִּמְלְא֥וּ יָמֶ֖יהָ לָלֶ֑דֶת וְהִנֵּ֥ה תוֹמִ֖ם בְּבִטְנָֽהּ׃ (כה) וַיֵּצֵ֤א הָרִאשׁוֹן֙ אַדְמוֹנִ֔י כֻּלּ֖וֹ כְּאַדֶּ֣רֶת שֵׂעָ֑ר וַיִּקְרְא֥וּ שְׁמ֖וֹ עֵשָֽׂו׃ (כו) וְאַֽחֲרֵי־כֵ֞ן יָצָ֣א אָחִ֗יו וְיָד֤וֹ אֹחֶ֙זֶת֙ בַּעֲקֵ֣ב עֵשָׂ֔ו וַיִּקְרָ֥א שְׁמ֖וֹ יַעֲקֹ֑ב וְיִצְחָ֛ק בֶּן־שִׁשִּׁ֥ים שָׁנָ֖ה בְּלֶ֥דֶת אֹתָֽם׃

(24) When [Rebecca's] time to give birth was at hand, look! There were twins in her womb!

(25) The first one emerged red, like a hairy mantle all over; so they named him Esau.

(26) Then his brother emerged, holding on to the heel (ahkeiv) of Esau; so they named him Jacob (ya'akov).

Makes sense. The name Ya'akov, or Jacob, comes from the fact that Jacob emerged from the womb holding onto the heel (ahkeiv) of his brother.

But then later on in the story of the lives of these two brothers, Esau would further play around with Jacob's name after learning Jacob had swindled him out of the blessing his father had intended to give to Esau:

(לו) וַיֹּ֡אמֶר הֲכִי֩ קָרָ֨א שְׁמ֜וֹ יַעֲקֹ֗ב וַֽיַּעְקְבֵ֙נִי֙ זֶ֣ה פַעֲמַ֔יִם אֶת־בְּכֹרָתִ֣י לָקָ֔ח וְהִנֵּ֥ה עַתָּ֖ה לָקַ֣ח בִּרְכָתִ֑י וַיֹּאמַ֕ר הֲלֹא־אָצַ֥לְתָּ לִּ֖י בְּרָכָֽה׃

(36) [Esau] said, “Was he, then, named Jacob that he might supplant (ya'ahkveini) me these two times?

First he took away my birthright and now he has taken away my blessing!”

This is yet one more reason to try to work on reading these works in the Hebrew if possible. They are abounding with puns; When Hosea reflects back on the moment of birth of Jacob and Esau, he clearly has all of the above on mind, which the Hebrew allows for.

On one hand, Hosea is speaking about the moment of birth, when Jacob is literally grabbing ahold of the heel of Esau; But on the other time, he is portraying YHWH as being furious with the deception of Jacob's descendants, the Israelite people, as they continue living up to the precedence set by the trickster Jacob, all that time ago.

below: If the picture didn't include the names, is there anyway to identify who is who?

Hosea would then go on to speak of another defining moment in Jacob's life, the Divine Wrestling-match.

Let's see this moment in Genesis, one of the most mysterious and evocative of all of our ancient texts:

What a night!

(כג) וַיָּ֣קָם ׀ בַּלַּ֣יְלָה ה֗וּא וַיִּקַּ֞ח אֶת־שְׁתֵּ֤י נָשָׁיו֙ וְאֶת־שְׁתֵּ֣י שִׁפְחֹתָ֔יו וְאֶת־אַחַ֥ד עָשָׂ֖ר יְלָדָ֑יו וַֽיַּעֲבֹ֔ר אֵ֖ת מַעֲבַ֥ר יַבֹּֽק׃ (כד) וַיִּקָּחֵ֔ם וַיַּֽעֲבִרֵ֖ם אֶת־הַנָּ֑חַל וַֽיַּעֲבֵ֖ר אֶת־אֲשֶׁר־לוֹ׃ (כה) וַיִּוָּתֵ֥ר יַעֲקֹ֖ב לְבַדּ֑וֹ וַיֵּאָבֵ֥ק אִישׁ֙ עִמּ֔וֹ עַ֖ד עֲל֥וֹת הַשָּֽׁחַר׃ (כו) וַיַּ֗רְא כִּ֣י לֹ֤א יָכֹל֙ ל֔וֹ וַיִּגַּ֖ע בְּכַף־יְרֵכ֑וֹ וַתֵּ֙קַע֙ כַּף־יֶ֣רֶךְ יַעֲקֹ֔ב בְּהֵֽאָבְק֖וֹ עִמּֽוֹ׃ (כז) וַיֹּ֣אמֶר שַׁלְּחֵ֔נִי כִּ֥י עָלָ֖ה הַשָּׁ֑חַר וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙ לֹ֣א אֲשַֽׁלֵּחֲךָ֔ כִּ֖י אִם־בֵּרַכְתָּֽנִי׃ (כח) וַיֹּ֥אמֶר אֵלָ֖יו מַה־שְּׁמֶ֑ךָ וַיֹּ֖אמֶר יַעֲקֹֽב׃ (כט) וַיֹּ֗אמֶר לֹ֤א יַעֲקֹב֙ יֵאָמֵ֥ר עוֹד֙ שִׁמְךָ֔ כִּ֖י אִם־יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל כִּֽי־שָׂרִ֧יתָ עִם־אֱלֹהִ֛ים וְעִם־אֲנָשִׁ֖ים וַתּוּכָֽל׃ (ל) וַיִּשְׁאַ֣ל יַעֲקֹ֗ב וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙ הַגִּֽידָה־נָּ֣א שְׁמֶ֔ךָ וַיֹּ֕אמֶר לָ֥מָּה זֶּ֖ה תִּשְׁאַ֣ל לִשְׁמִ֑י וַיְבָ֥רֶךְ אֹת֖וֹ שָֽׁם׃ (לא) וַיִּקְרָ֧א יַעֲקֹ֛ב שֵׁ֥ם הַמָּק֖וֹם פְּנִיאֵ֑ל כִּֽי־רָאִ֤יתִי אֱלֹהִים֙ פָּנִ֣ים אֶל־פָּנִ֔ים וַתִּנָּצֵ֖ל נַפְשִֽׁי׃

(23) That same night [Jacob] arose, and taking his two wives, his two maidservants, and his eleven children, he crossed the ford of the Jabbok. (24) After taking them across the stream, he sent across all his possessions.

(25) So Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the break of dawn.


(27) Then he said, “Let me go, for dawn is breaking.”

But he answered, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.”

(28) Said the other, “What is your name?”

He replied, “Jacob.”

(29) Said he, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven (sah-ri-tah) with elohim and with men, and have prevailed.”

(30) Jacob asked, “Pray tell me your name.” But he said, “You must not ask my name!” And he took leave of him there.

(31) So Jacob named the place Peniel, meaning, “I have seen elohim face to face, yet my life has been preserved!"

There is no way we would be able to do this utterly perplexing passage justice this time around, so it is most definitely worth taking note of and coming back to. In this case, I'm mostly interested in one question.

With whom did Jacob wrestle? Read it again carefully, keeping this question in mind. What do you think?

Well, first we are told explicitly that it is a man. But this will soon be undermined. When this "man" gives Jacob a blessing, he says "You have striven with elohim and with men, and have prevailed!" Well, we know when Jacob has striven with men. He has striven with Esau, he has striven with Laban; But when did he ever strive with elohim?

Then finally, Jacob names the place Peni-el, which literally means my-face-is-el. And why does he name it this? For I have seen elohim face-to-face!

And so, it seems like Jacob is now thinking of this mysterious being as elohim.

So what is elohim then?

Perhaps Genesis 1 comes to mind:

(א) בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית בָּרָ֣א אֱלֹהִ֑ים אֵ֥ת הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם וְאֵ֥ת הָאָֽרֶץ׃ (ב) וְהָאָ֗רֶץ הָיְתָ֥ה תֹ֙הוּ֙ וָבֹ֔הוּ וְחֹ֖שֶׁךְ עַל־פְּנֵ֣י תְה֑וֹם וְר֣וּחַ אֱלֹהִ֔ים מְרַחֶ֖פֶת עַל־פְּנֵ֥י הַמָּֽיִם׃ (ג) וַיֹּ֥אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֖ים יְהִ֣י א֑וֹר וַֽיְהִי־אֽוֹר׃

(1) When Elohim began to create heaven and earth— (2) the earth being unformed and void, with darkness over the surface of the deep and a wind from Elohim sweeping over the water— (3) Elohim said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.

So elohim is clearly the term where, in English, many people would say "God," right?

Well, in the above case, yes.

But how about this one?

(א) מִזְמ֗וֹר לְאָ֫סָ֥ף אֱ‍ֽלֹהִ֗ים נִצָּ֥ב בַּעֲדַת־אֵ֑ל בְּקֶ֖רֶב אֱלֹהִ֣ים יִשְׁפֹּֽט׃ (ב) עַד־מָתַ֥י תִּשְׁפְּטוּ־עָ֑וֶל וּפְנֵ֥י רְ֝שָׁעִ֗ים תִּשְׂאוּ־סֶֽלָה׃ (ג) שִׁפְטוּ־דַ֥ל וְיָת֑וֹם עָנִ֖י וָרָ֣שׁ הַצְדִּֽיקוּ׃ (ד) פַּלְּטוּ־דַ֥ל וְאֶבְי֑וֹן מִיַּ֖ד רְשָׁעִ֣ים הַצִּֽילוּ׃ (ה) לֹ֤א יָֽדְע֨וּ ׀ וְלֹ֥א יָבִ֗ינוּ בַּחֲשֵׁכָ֥ה יִתְהַלָּ֑כוּ יִ֝מּ֗וֹטוּ כָּל־מ֥וֹסְדֵי אָֽרֶץ׃ (ו) אֲ‍ֽנִי־אָ֭מַרְתִּי אֱלֹהִ֣ים אַתֶּ֑ם וּבְנֵ֖י עֶלְי֣וֹן כֻּלְּכֶֽם׃ (ז) אָ֭כֵן כְּאָדָ֣ם תְּמוּת֑וּן וּכְאַחַ֖ד הַשָּׂרִ֣ים תִּפֹּֽלוּ׃ (ח) קוּמָ֣ה אֱ֭לֹהִים שָׁפְטָ֣ה הָאָ֑רֶץ כִּֽי־אַתָּ֥ה תִ֝נְחַ֗ל בְּכָל־הַגּוֹיִֽם׃

Elohim stands in the assembly-of-El; amongst elohim, he pronounces judgment.


(6) I had taken you for elohim! Sons of the Most High, all of you!;

(7) but you shall die as men do, fall like any prince.

If this psalm seems quite unintelligible, well, that's because it kind of is.

x is standing in the midst of x, saying, 'I thought you were x!' Huh???

But here's something so fascinating. This prayer-poem comes from a large section in the book of Psalms called the Elohist Psalter. This refers to a section where, for some strange reason, YHWH's proper name - YHWH - which is so abundant basically everywhere else, just kind of disappears.

And so the theory goes like this: Psalms 42-83 was included in the book of Psalms as a package, which came from a place where, for whatever the reason, the custom was to replace writing the name of YHWH with the term elohim.

But the way this prayer-poem is probably supposed to be heard or read, and maybe was originally written, would be like this:

YHWH stands in the assembly-of-El. Amongst elohim, pronounces judgement.

And so now, what comes out is that YHWH is distinct from this other group called elohim. And then at the end of the prayer-poem, it is YHWH who says to this group, I had thought that you were elohim, but now I see that you are mere mortals!

So elohim does not only refer to YHWH-Almighty; It can even refer to immortal beings who are appointed to act as judges of the earth. Or, perhaps we might call them, gods, though with a lower-case g so as to distinguish them from the idea of One All-Powerful Creator-God. (I.e., distinct from YHWH.)

So now back to Jacob... With whom was he wrestling? Well, it seems from Jacob's last statement, I saw elohim face-to-face and lived! - that it is a divine being. YHWH? Another "god?" Not so sure.

But then why did the narrator introduce this "being" to us by saying that "a man" wrestled with Jacob?

Maybe we were seeing him from Jacob's eyes. I.e., when the struggle began, this was a human adversary of flesh-and-blood, for all Jacob knew; And it was only by way of the struggle that Jacob would come to realize that there was something more going on.

Let's now turn back to how Hosea describes this moment:

(ד) בַּבֶּ֖טֶן עָקַ֣ב אֶת־אָחִ֑יו וּבְאוֹנ֖וֹ שָׂרָ֥ה אֶת־אֱלֹהִֽים׃ (ה) וָיָּ֤שַׂר אֶל־מַלְאָךְ֙ וַיֻּכָ֔ל בָּכָ֖ה וַיִּתְחַנֶּן־ל֑וֹ בֵּֽית־אֵל֙ יִמְצָאֶ֔נּוּ וְשָׁ֖ם יְדַבֵּ֥ר עִמָּֽנוּ׃

Grown to manhood, he strove with elohim, (5) He strove with a messenger/angel and prevailed— The other had to weep and implore him.

What Hosea seems to be doing here is eliminating at least some of the ambiguity. While "elohim" could refer to YHWH-himself, that is most definitely not whom Jacob is wrestling with. It is a malakh, which could be a messenger, or divine being much lower on the totem-pole than YHWH.

For some reason, it is important to Hosea to make this point as he walks us through some of Jacob's life. Why do you think that might be?

We get one more line from Hosea about the life of Jacob. And what's interesting is that it will serve to complicate, completely, what we just finished discussing with regard to the midnight wrestling-match!

Here it is with the previous verse we just finished discussing:

(ד) בַּבֶּ֖טֶן עָקַ֣ב אֶת־אָחִ֑יו וּבְאוֹנ֖וֹ שָׂרָ֥ה אֶת־אֱלֹהִֽים׃ (ה) וָיָּ֤שַׂר אֶל־מַלְאָךְ֙ וַיֻּכָ֔ל בָּכָ֖ה וַיִּתְחַנֶּן־ל֑וֹ בֵּֽית־אֵל֙ יִמְצָאֶ֔נּוּ וְשָׁ֖ם יְדַבֵּ֥ר עִמָּֽנוּ׃

Grown to manhood, he strove with a divine being, (5) He strove with an angel and prevailed— The other had to weep and implore him. At Bethel [Jacob] would meet him, There to commune with him.

Bethel was a place of huge importance for Jacob. He encountered YHWH there multiple times; Offering sacrifices, receiving blessings, and experiencing communion.

Let's just look at the first example:

A Midnight Visitor

(י) וַיֵּצֵ֥א יַעֲקֹ֖ב מִבְּאֵ֣ר שָׁ֑בַע וַיֵּ֖לֶךְ חָרָֽנָה׃ (יא) וַיִּפְגַּ֨ע בַּמָּק֜וֹם וַיָּ֤לֶן שָׁם֙ כִּי־בָ֣א הַשֶּׁ֔מֶשׁ וַיִּקַּח֙ מֵאַבְנֵ֣י הַמָּק֔וֹם וַיָּ֖שֶׂם מְרַֽאֲשֹׁתָ֑יו וַיִּשְׁכַּ֖ב בַּמָּק֥וֹם הַהֽוּא׃ (יב) וַֽיַּחֲלֹ֗ם וְהִנֵּ֤ה סֻלָּם֙ מֻצָּ֣ב אַ֔רְצָה וְרֹאשׁ֖וֹ מַגִּ֣יעַ הַשָּׁמָ֑יְמָה וְהִנֵּה֙ מַלְאֲכֵ֣י אֱלֹהִ֔ים עֹלִ֥ים וְיֹרְדִ֖ים בּֽוֹ׃ (יג) וְהִנֵּ֨ה יְהוָ֜ה נִצָּ֣ב עָלָיו֮ וַיֹּאמַר֒ אֲנִ֣י יְהוָ֗ה אֱלֹהֵי֙ אַבְרָהָ֣ם אָבִ֔יךָ וֵאלֹהֵ֖י יִצְחָ֑ק הָאָ֗רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֤ר אַתָּה֙ שֹׁכֵ֣ב עָלֶ֔יהָ לְךָ֥ אֶתְּנֶ֖נָּה וּלְזַרְעֶֽךָ׃ (יד) וְהָיָ֤ה זַרְעֲךָ֙ כַּעֲפַ֣ר הָאָ֔רֶץ וּפָרַצְתָּ֛ יָ֥מָּה וָקֵ֖דְמָה וְצָפֹ֣נָה וָנֶ֑גְבָּה וְנִבְרֲכ֥וּ בְךָ֛ כָּל־מִשְׁפְּחֹ֥ת הָאֲדָמָ֖ה וּבְזַרְעֶֽךָ׃ (טו) וְהִנֵּ֨ה אָנֹכִ֜י עִמָּ֗ךְ וּשְׁמַרְתִּ֙יךָ֙ בְּכֹ֣ל אֲשֶׁר־תֵּלֵ֔ךְ וַהֲשִׁ֣בֹתִ֔יךָ אֶל־הָאֲדָמָ֖ה הַזֹּ֑את כִּ֚י לֹ֣א אֶֽעֱזָבְךָ֔ עַ֚ד אֲשֶׁ֣ר אִם־עָשִׂ֔יתִי אֵ֥ת אֲשֶׁר־דִּבַּ֖רְתִּי לָֽךְ׃ (טז) וַיִּיקַ֣ץ יַעֲקֹב֮ מִשְּׁנָתוֹ֒ וַיֹּ֕אמֶר אָכֵן֙ יֵ֣שׁ יְהוָ֔ה בַּמָּק֖וֹם הַזֶּ֑ה וְאָנֹכִ֖י לֹ֥א יָדָֽעְתִּי׃ (יז) וַיִּירָא֙ וַיֹּאמַ֔ר מַה־נּוֹרָ֖א הַמָּק֣וֹם הַזֶּ֑ה אֵ֣ין זֶ֗ה כִּ֚י אִם־בֵּ֣ית אֱלֹהִ֔ים וְזֶ֖ה שַׁ֥עַר הַשָּׁמָֽיִם׃ (יח) וַיַּשְׁכֵּ֨ם יַעֲקֹ֜ב בַּבֹּ֗קֶר וַיִּקַּ֤ח אֶת־הָאֶ֙בֶן֙ אֲשֶׁר־שָׂ֣ם מְרַֽאֲשֹׁתָ֔יו וַיָּ֥שֶׂם אֹתָ֖הּ מַצֵּבָ֑ה וַיִּצֹ֥ק שֶׁ֖מֶן עַל־רֹאשָֽׁהּ׃ (יט) וַיִּקְרָ֛א אֶת־שֵֽׁם־הַמָּק֥וֹם הַה֖וּא בֵּֽית־אֵ֑ל וְאוּלָ֛ם ל֥וּז שֵׁם־הָעִ֖יר לָרִאשֹׁנָֽה׃

(10) Jacob left Beer-sheba, and set out for Haran. (11) He came upon a certain place and stopped there for the night, for the sun had set.


(12) He had a dream; a stairway was set on the ground and its top reached to the sky, and angels of elohim were going up and down on it.

(13) And YHWH was standing beside him and He said,

“I am YHWH, the elohim of your father Abraham and the elohim of Isaac!


(16) Jacob awoke from his sleep and said,

“Surely YHWH is present in this place, and I did not know it!”

(17) Shaken, he said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the House-of-Elohim, and that is the gateway to heaven!”

(18) Early in the morning, Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. (19) He named that site House-of-El (Beith-El); but previously the name of the city had been Luz.

So how does this frustrate everything?

Well, remember our question above - With whom was Jacob wrestling!

We just finished saying that Hosea takes pains to make it clear that it was not with THE elohim, i.e., YHWH-of-Legions himself; But it was the other kind, elohim with a lower-case "e", a divine messenger or something.

But whoever it was, it was someone that Hosea says Jacob communed with at Beith-El.

But wait a second, according to the book of Genesis, Jacob communed with YHWH at Beith-El! So isn't Hosea's logic self-defeating? How can he say that it was not YHWH with whom he wrestled, but whoever it was, was who he met at Beith-El, and we know it was YHWH at Beith-El!

These are all worthwhile questions.

Personally, I think the way we would have to answer such difficulties is to conclude that the stories that Hosea inherited about our forefather Jacob are at least slightly different than the version that would end up being preserved in the book of Genesis as we have them.

So perhaps Hosea learned of Jacob wrestling with a divine being, or an elohim at some point, triumphing over it completely and reducing it to tears, and then encountering it again at Beith-El. And this divine-being was not YHWH himself, but perhaps a messenger of his, or some other being unrelated entirely.

While in Genesis, it is most definitely YHWH whom Jacob encounters at Beith-El, though not necessarily YHWH who fought him at night - and whoever it was that did fight, might have been bested, but not to the point that it was brought to tears.

Of course, another very likely possibility is that Hosea is speaking poetically and loosely, and it would be a mistake to conclude any of the above.

Whatever the explanation, instances like this in the TaNaKh are fascinating; When two different authors are reflecting on the same event, but from different perspectives, or remembering different details. Comparing the two and thinking about which seems more likely to be the original, and how/why it was changed over time, or why it is presented differently is always a fun thought-experiment.

For another example, check out the book Judges chapters 4 and 5. In chapter 4, we read in prose about a major Israelite-Canaanite war, between Barak of Ephraim and Sisera of the Canaanites on Mount Tebor. Then in chapter 5, we get Deborah's utterly epic poem about the events, one of the greatest pieces of literature in the whole TaNaKh. (That's saying a lot!)

Another example is the Revelation at Sinai/Horeb, told in Exodus 19-20, and then recalled by Moses in Deuteronomy 5. There are some fascinating choices Moses makes in how he remembers what had occurred.

And there are many more examples where these came from!

For the end, I want to switch gears and look at something that Hosea says in his last chapter:


(א) תֶּאְשַׁם֙ שֹֽׁמְר֔וֹן כִּ֥י מָרְתָ֖ה בֵּֽאלֹהֶ֑יהָ בַּחֶ֣רֶב יִפֹּ֔לוּ עֹלְלֵיהֶ֣ם יְרֻטָּ֔שׁוּ וְהָרִיּוֹתָ֖יו יְבֻקָּֽעוּ׃ (פ) (ב) שׁ֚וּבָה יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל עַ֖ד יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֑יךָ כִּ֥י כָשַׁ֖לְתָּ בַּעֲוֺנֶֽךָ׃ (ג) קְח֤וּ עִמָּכֶם֙ דְּבָרִ֔ים וְשׁ֖וּבוּ אֶל־יְהוָ֑ה אִמְר֣וּ אֵלָ֗יו כָּל־תִּשָּׂ֤א עָוֺן֙ וְקַח־ט֔וֹב וּֽנְשַׁלְּמָ֥ה פָרִ֖ים שְׂפָתֵֽינוּ׃ (ד) אַשּׁ֣וּר ׀ לֹ֣א יוֹשִׁיעֵ֗נוּ עַל־סוּס֙ לֹ֣א נִרְכָּ֔ב וְלֹא־נֹ֥אמַר ע֛וֹד אֱלֹהֵ֖ינוּ לְמַעֲשֵׂ֣ה יָדֵ֑ינוּ אֲשֶׁר־בְּךָ֖ יְרֻחַ֥ם יָתֽוֹם׃ (ה) אֶרְפָּא֙ מְשׁ֣וּבָתָ֔ם אֹהֲבֵ֖ם נְדָבָ֑ה כִּ֛י שָׁ֥ב אַפִּ֖י מִמֶּֽנּוּ׃ (ו) אֶהְיֶ֤ה כַטַּל֙ לְיִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל יִפְרַ֖ח כַּשּֽׁוֹשַׁנָּ֑ה וְיַ֥ךְ שָׁרָשָׁ֖יו כַּלְּבָנֽוֹן׃ (ז) יֵֽלְכוּ֙ יֹֽנְקוֹתָ֔יו וִיהִ֥י כַזַּ֖יִת הוֹד֑וֹ וְרֵ֥יחַֽ ל֖וֹ כַּלְּבָנֽוֹן׃ (ח) יָשֻׁ֙בוּ֙ יֹשְׁבֵ֣י בְצִלּ֔וֹ יְחַיּ֥וּ דָגָ֖ן וְיִפְרְח֣וּ כַגָּ֑פֶן זִכְר֖וֹ כְּיֵ֥ין לְבָנֽוֹן׃ (ס)

(2) Return, O Israel, to YHWH your elohim, for you have fallen because of your sin! (3) Take words with you And return to YHWH! Say to Him:

“Forgive all guilt And accept what is good!


(4) Assyria shall not save us, No more will we ride on steeds; Nor ever again will we call our handiwork our god, since in You alone orphans find pity!”

(5) I will heal their affliction, Generously will I take them back in love; For My anger has turned away from them.

(6) I will be to Israel like dew; He shall blossom like the lily, He shall strike root like a Lebanon tree. (7) His boughs shall spread out far, His beauty shall be like the olive tree’s, His fragrance like that of Lebanon. (8) They who sit in his shade shall be revived: They shall bring to life new grain, They shall blossom like the vine; His scent shall be like the wine of Lebanon.

What a wonderful hope with which to bring his oracles to an end!

Note how here, Hosea is basically undoing all the negativity we saw in chapter 12 above. For what was one of the major reasons behind YHWH's lawsuit? Well, we saw that YHWH was upset that Israel's faithfulness was never deeply rooted; It faded away like morning dew.

But this is what YHWH says just before mentioning the lawsuit to begin with:

(א) סְבָבֻ֤נִי בְכַ֙חַשׁ֙ אֶפְרַ֔יִם וּבְמִרְמָ֖ה בֵּ֣ית יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וִֽיהוּדָ֗ה עֹ֥ד רָד֙ עִם־אֵ֔ל וְעִם־קְדוֹשִׁ֖ים נֶאֱמָֽן׃ (ב) אֶפְרַ֜יִם רֹעֶ֥ה ר֙וּחַ֙ וְרֹדֵ֣ף קָדִ֔ים כָּל־הַיּ֕וֹם כָּזָ֥ב וָשֹׁ֖ד יַרְבֶּ֑ה וּבְרִית֙ עִם־אַשּׁ֣וּר יִכְרֹ֔תוּ וְשֶׁ֖מֶן לְמִצְרַ֥יִם יוּבָֽל׃

(1) Ephraim surrounds Me with deceit, The House of Israel with guile!


(2) Ephraim tends the wind And pursues the gale; He is forever adding Illusion to calamity.

Now they make a covenant with Assyria, Now oil is carried to Egypt!

According to Hosea, YHWH is furious that Israel is making a covenant with Assyria! What this means is that Israel would submit herself to Assyrian control, becoming a vassal state, showing fealty by such actions as paying tribute.

But there is only one reason a nation would do such a thing; Fear. Be it fear of Assyria, or fear of other nations that maybe Assyria would then help Israel against.

But here's what would other Hosea about this; If Israel is putting their faith in the might of Assyria, then in whom is she not putting her faith?

If you read enough of the Histories included in the TaNaKh, you'll see that this is an ongoing refrain.

During Hosea's own lifetime, there came a moment when Northern-Israel was in conflict with Southern-Judah. Israel became united with King Rezin of Aram, and they both mustered their troops to march southward to war.

And how did King Ahaz of Judah respond?

(ה) אָ֣ז יַעֲלֶ֣ה רְצִ֣ין מֶֽלֶךְ־אֲ֠רָם וּפֶ֨קַח בֶּן־רְמַלְיָ֧הוּ מֶֽלֶךְ־יִשְׂרָאֵ֛ל יְרוּשָׁלִַ֖ם לַמִּלְחָמָ֑ה וַיָּצֻ֙רוּ֙ עַל־אָחָ֔ז וְלֹ֥א יָכְל֖וּ לְהִלָּחֵֽם׃ (ו) בָּעֵ֣ת הַהִ֗יא הֵ֠שִׁיב רְצִ֨ין מֶֽלֶךְ־אֲרָ֤ם אֶת־אֵילַת֙ לַֽאֲרָ֔ם וַיְנַשֵּׁ֥ל אֶת־הַיְהוּדִ֖ים מֵֽאֵיל֑וֹת וארמים [וַֽאֲדוֹמִים֙] בָּ֣אוּ אֵילַ֔ת וַיֵּ֣שְׁבוּ שָׁ֔ם עַ֖ד הַיּ֥וֹם הַזֶּֽה׃ (פ) (ז) וַיִּשְׁלַ֨ח אָחָ֜ז מַלְאָכִ֗ים אֶל־תִּ֠גְלַת פְּלֶ֤סֶר מֶֽלֶךְ־אַשּׁוּר֙ לֵאמֹ֔ר עַבְדְּךָ֥ וּבִנְךָ֖ אָ֑נִי עֲלֵ֨ה וְהוֹשִׁעֵ֜נִי מִכַּ֣ף מֶֽלֶךְ־אֲרָ֗ם וּמִכַּף֙ מֶ֣לֶךְ יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל הַקּוֹמִ֖ים עָלָֽי׃

(5) Then King Rezin of Aram and King Pekah son of Remaliah of Israel advanced on Jerusalem for battle. They besieged Ahaz, but could not overcome [him].


(7) Ahaz sent messengers to King Tiglath-pileser of Assyria to say, “I am your servant and your son; come and deliver me from the hands of the king of Aram and from the hands of the king of Israel, who are attacking me.” (8) Ahaz took the gold and silver that were on hand in the House of YHWH and in the treasuries of the royal palace and sent them as a gift to the king of Assyria.

Actions such as this, in the prophets' eyes, was a disgrace.

And so in Hosea 12, when Israel would approach YHWH so soon after seeking Assyrian help, and now piously professing loyalty to YHWH, he didn't buy it.

But in chapter 14, YHWH does buy it. Why?

Well, look back at what Israel says in appealing to YHWH to become a part of her life once again:

Assyria shall not save us, No more will we ride on steeds; Nor ever again will we call our handiwork our god, since in You alone orphans find pity!

Not only is Israel turning to YHWH, but she is explicitly abandoning any and all faith she once placed in Assyria. She is acting repentant.

This, YHWH needed to hear. For the loyalty that YHWH is deserving of is such a one that could not be shared.

Remember Elijah's exhortation on Mount Carmel: (We saw this at length in our A Divine Showdown. Here's the link: .)

(כא) וַיִּגַּ֨שׁ אֵלִיָּ֜הוּ אֶל־כָּל־הָעָ֗ם וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙ עַד־מָתַ֞י אַתֶּ֣ם פֹּסְחִים֮ עַל־שְׁתֵּ֣י הַסְּעִפִּים֒ אִם־יְהוָ֤ה הָֽאֱלֹהִים֙ לְכ֣וּ אַחֲרָ֔יו וְאִם־הַבַּ֖עַל לְכ֣וּ אַחֲרָ֑יו וְלֹֽא־עָנ֥וּ הָעָ֛ם אֹת֖וֹ דָּבָֽר׃

(21) Elijah approached all the people and said,

“How long will you keep hopping between two opinions? If YHWH is Elohim, follow Him!; and if Baal, follow him!”

Any figure or thing that Israel would turn to for salvation, for deliverance - if it was anything other than YHWH - would be akin to idolatry in the prophets' eyes. And as we see in Elijah, to try to do so as well as placing hope in YHWH was not much better.

And so only in chapter 14, when Israel says "Good riddance!" to Assyria, could YHWH respond favorably and come back "From his place."

And how does YHWH express that he will indeed look favorably upon Israel once again?

I will be to Israel like dew;

He shall blossom like the lily, He shall strike root like a Lebanon tree.

After chapter 12, the first thought in our minds upon hearing YHWH being to Israel as dew should be; Uh-oh. For we know what Hosea means by this; Dew lasts but a moment, in the early morning, then quickly fades away to nothing. Will YHWH do the same?

No! Just as Israel hoped in chapter 12, this is now dew in the favorable sense once again! The kind that will enable Israel to blossom like the lily, striking roots as deep and as mighty and as impenetrable as the Great Lebanons!

My personal take-away from this is that, well, YHWH is utterly repulsed by any traces of idolatry, or disunity of loyalty. We might profess complete devotion one moment, but if we are doing so while also keeping other gods on the side, then we are not making enough room for YHWH, making it impossible for him to receive our invitation for him to be in our lives.

He wants, and deserves, our full heart.

Which, really, they should have known as early as Moses!:

(כט) וּבִקַּשְׁתֶּ֥ם מִשָּׁ֛ם אֶת־יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֶ֖יךָ וּמָצָ֑אתָ כִּ֣י תִדְרְשֶׁ֔נּוּ בְּכָל־לְבָבְךָ֖ וּבְכָל־נַפְשֶֽׁךָ׃

(29) But if you search from there for YHWH your elohim, you will find Him, if only you seek Him with all your heart and with every breath!

This is most definitely a tall order. How can we seek out YHWH with our complete hearts???

I think the answer to this might be very different from one person to the next, and I'm still trying to figure it out myself. But I do believe that by virtue of Moses encouraging us to do this, that it therefore follows that it is possible and reasonable. And by doing so, we will find YHWH! No ifs, ands, or buts about it.

For the Israelites, it meant letting go of the faith they had gotten used to placing in Assyria. For each of us, it would be something different. But whatever it is, most of us probably have something, or somethings, which is putting up a fight for the devotion that we owe to YHWH alone.

Here's a question I'll be asking myself in light of this reflection, and perhaps you will want to think about it along with me:

What, in my life, is taking up too much space, such that YHWH feels I have not cared enough to make room for him? And what step can I take to start rectifying this? What can I do to invite YHWH in completely, giving him the opportunity to rain his showers of blessings that the Israelites hoped for, as well as to provide that morning dew, which he so clearly wants to do, if only I let him?