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A Chiastic Reconfiguration Of Hosea 10-11

Kuruvilla Thomas
Bangalore
Published on 11 February 2020




Hosea 10-11 Timeline
Fig. 1


Introduction

This study treats Hosea 10:9-11:7 as a "Functional Chiasmus" in order to arrive at a coherent reconfiguration of the text. Text that is arranged in the form of a functional chiasmus must be rearranged based on certain logical principles to be correctly interpreted. A functional chiasmus is a new concept; see definition here [1]. This study also contains an exegesis of the rearranged text. If you wish to skip the technicalities of a chiastic parse, you may read starting from Part 4 of the Discussion section, which has the reconfigured text.

This passage in Hosea contains the line, "Out of Egypt I called my son" (Hosea 11:1), which is quoted in Matthew 21:15 as being a prophecy about Jesus' return from Egypt. On a straight-through reading of this passage, it would appear that Matthew had plucked this verse about the Israelites out of context. But with a chiastic reconfiguration we will show more clearly that this quote applies to the Messiah.


Notes:
We will use the term "Judahite" to refer to the Israelites living in and around Jerusalem in the 1st century who primarily were of the tribe of Judah; We will try to avoid the term "Jew" to avoid the confusion it introduces.


Discussion

1. Presuppositions

We base our parse of Hosea 10:9-11:7 on the assumption that it refers to 3 periods:

  1. Exile of Israel and Judah (circa 730-600BC). The Northern tribes and the Judahites are taken into slavery.
  2. Christ's First Coming (circa 4BC). Christ is "called out of Egypt" to minister to the Judahites.
  3. The First Jewish–Roman War (circa 66AD–74AD). The Roman army destroyed Judah and Jerusalem and slaughtered its people.

2. Parsing the chiasmus

We will use the NIV Bible for this parse.

Parsing this chiasmus involves dividing portions of the text into three categories as above. We will call the period of The Exile of Israel and Judah Period 1, Christ's First Coming Period 2 and the The First Jewish–Roman War Period 3.

While the chiastic reconstructions we have seen so far have been pure prophecy, in this passage, each subunit has a comment followed by a prophecy. The comment may be a remark on the Israelites state at the time and the reason for the punishment or blessing in the prophecy.


Categorizing Hosea 10:9-11:7

Ch 10 vs 9-11 belong to Period 1. The Northern Tribes and Judah are taken into slavery for being unfaithful to their God.

Ch 10 Vs 12 belongs to Period 2. The Lord came to preach righteousness.

Ch 10 Vs 13-15 belong to Period 3. The Romans kill the Judahites with great cruelty. One of the reasons we believe that this section is about the First Jewish-Roman war is that we expect to see it in chiastic reconstructions.

Ch 11 Vs 1 belongs to Period 2. Jesus is called out of Egypt.

Ch 11 Vs 2-7 belong to Period 1. The Assyrians enslave Israel.


Original text

We color-code the chiastic units of the original text (NIV) below for easy visual identification using: red for Period 1, blue for Period 2 and green for Period 3.


Hosea 10 9 “Since the days of Gibeah, you have sinned, Israel, and there you have remained. Will not war again overtake the evildoers in Gibeah? 10 When I please, I will punish them; nations will be gathered against them to put them in bonds for their double sin. 11 Ephraim is a trained heifer that loves to thresh; so I will put a yoke on her fair neck. I will drive Ephraim, Judah must plow, and Jacob must break up the ground.
12 Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers his righteousness on you.
13 But you have planted wickedness, you have reaped evil, you have eaten the fruit of deception. Because you have depended on your own strength and on your many warriors, 14 the roar of battle will rise against your people, so that all your fortresses will be devastated— as Shalman devastated Beth Arbel on the day of battle, when mothers were dashed to the ground with their children. 15 So will it happen to you, Bethel, because your wickedness is great. When that day dawns, the king of Israel will be completely destroyed.

Hosea 11 1 “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.
2 But the more they were called, the more they went away from me. They sacrificed to the Baals and they burned incense to images. 3 It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them. 4 I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. To them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them.
5 “Will they not return to Egypt and will not Assyria rule over them because they refuse to repent? 6 A sword will flash in their cities; it will devour their false prophets and put an end to their plans. 7 My people are determined to turn from me. Even though they call me God Most High, I will by no means exalt them.



3. Building the reconfigured text


From this parse, it appears that Hosea 10:9-11:7 form a Functional chiasmus as below:

A1   Ch 10 vs 9-11 Period 1. Israel is taken into slavery
  B1   Ch 10 Vs 12 Period 2. The Lord will come and spread righteousness.
    X   Ch 10 Vs 13-15 Period 3. The Romans kill the Judahites with great cruelty.
  B2   Ch 11 Vs 1 Period 2. Jesus is called out of Egypt.
A2   Ch 11 Vs 2-7 Period 1. The Assyrians enslave Israel.


We now reconstruct the phrases in the right order based on the chiastic structure above and based on the ordering rules of a functional chiasmus [1].

We lead with central pivot point 'X'. The corresponding subunits (For example; subunit A1 corresponds to A2) are placed contiguously to form units (For example, A1,A2 is a unit ) so that we get a list of such units.


The sequence selected for rearrangement is:

X  [A1,A2]  [B1,B2]        (1)

Translating (1) into verse numbers, we get:

Ch 10 Vs 13-15   [Ch 10 vs 9-11, Ch 11 Vs 2-7]   [Ch 10 Vs 12, Ch 11 Vs 1]        (2)

We arrive at the reconfigured passage in the next section by rearranging the verses so they are in sequence (2).



4. Hosea 10:9-11:7 Reconfigured

The First Jewish–Roman War (circa 66AD–74AD).(Ch 10 Vs 13-15)
Chapter 10 13 But you have planted wickedness, you have reaped evil, you have eaten the fruit of deception. Because you have depended on your own strength and on your many warriors, 14 the roar of battle will rise against your people, so that all your fortresses will be devastated— as Shalman devastated Beth Arbel on the day of battle, when mothers were dashed to the ground with their children. 15 So will it happen to you, Bethel, because your wickedness is great. When that day dawns, the king of Israel will be completely destroyed.

Exile of Israel and Judah (circa 730-600BC). (Ch 10 vs 9-11, Ch 11 Vs 2-7)
Chapter 10 9 “Since the days of Gibeah, you have sinned, Israel, and there you have remained. Will not war again overtake the evildoers in Gibeah? 10 When I please, I will punish them; nations will be gathered against them to put them in bonds for their double sin. 11 Ephraim is a trained heifer that loves to thresh; so I will put a yoke on her fair neck. I will drive Ephraim, Judah must plow, and Jacob must break up the ground.

Chapter 11 2 But the more they were called, the more they went away from me. They sacrificed to the Baals and they burned incense to images. 3 It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them. 4 I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. To them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them.
5 “Will they not return to Egypt and will not Assyria rule over them because they refuse to repent? 6 A sword will flash in their cities; it will devour their false prophets and put an end to their plans. 7 My people are determined to turn from me. Even though they call me God Most High, I will by no means exalt them.


Christ's First Coming (circa 4BC). (Ch 10 Vs 12, Ch 11 Vs 1)
Chapter 10 12 Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers his righteousness on you.

Chapter 11 1 “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.



5. An exegesis of the reconfigured text.

The passage has been split into 3 sections as above for analysis.

5.1 The First Jewish–Roman War (circa 66AD–74AD).(Ch 10 Vs 13-15)

Chapter 10 13a But you have planted wickedness, you have reaped evil, you have eaten the fruit of deception.

The Pharisees led the people of Judea astray through their version of Judaism which was corrupted with Satanic ideas from Babylon. As a result, the Judahites that followed them had become a wicked people.



Chapter 10 13b Because you have depended on your own strength and on your many warriors, 14a the roar of battle will rise against your people, so that all your fortresses will be devastated—

The Judahites had successfully repulsed large armies in the past using their tactics of asymmetric warfare and they were well prepared for a long siege at Jerusalem. So they felt bold enough to revolt against the Romans and confident of facing the mighty Roman army without help from their God.

The Roman General Vespasian and his son Titus began the campaign to crush the revolt by attacking the Judahite centres surrounding Jerusalem in 67AD. A large number of Judahites in these towns fled Roman punishment to take refuge in the fortified city of Jerusalem. In 70AD, the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and they continued with mop-up operations of whatever remained of Judea, culminating in the breach of the well fortified citadel at Masada (See more historical details in our paper on the "70 weeks of Daniel"[2]).



Chapter 10 14b as Shalman devastated Beth Arbel on the day of battle, when mothers were dashed to the ground with their children. 15 So will it happen to you, Bethel, because your wickedness is great. When that day dawns, the king of Israel will be completely destroyed.

The Romans killed the Judahites with exceptional cruelty and exiled the few that remained into slavery (Shalman, here, is probably the Assyrian king Shalmaneser). Only those Judahites who believed in Christ and followed his instruction to "flee to the mountains" escaped. Since the Judahites had no king at the time of the Roman attack, the "king" here is probably the chief priest. As we have seen in other parses like Micah 4-5 [3], the leadership of the Judahites was singled out for special punishment because they led the people astray, they led the crusade to get Jesus killed and then persecuted his followers (In this passage, Bethel, which means "House of God", seems to represent Judea.).



5.2 Exile of Israel and Judah (circa 730-600BC). (Ch 10 vs 9-11, Ch 11 Vs 2-7)

Chapter 10 9 “Since the days of Gibeah, you have sinned, Israel, and there you have remained. Will not war again overtake the evildoers in Gibeah? 10 When I please, I will punish them; nations will be gathered against them to put them in bonds for their double sin. 11 Ephraim is a trained heifer that loves to thresh; so I will put a yoke on her fair neck. I will drive Ephraim, Judah must plow, and Jacob must break up the ground.

In Gibeah, the people of the tribe of Benjamin tried to sodomise a visiting Levite. They were given his concubine instead, who they raped to death. This indicates a depravity on the level of Sodom which is typically the result of forsaking their God to worship demon gods. From the days of Gibeah, Israel had maintained the same dissolute ways and so God punished them by sending them into exile and slavery. God does not ask for much from His worshippers ("For My yoke is easy and My burden is light" Matt 11:30) but Jacob and Judah had shown a love for the demanding works that are a part of serving other gods. So God allowed them to be taken into slavery in Assyria to toil in their two furrows.



Chapter 11 2 But the more they were called, the more they went away from me. They sacrificed to the Baals and they burned incense to images. 3 It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them. 4 I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. To them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them.
5 “Will they not return to Egypt and will not Assyria rule over them because they refuse to repent? 6 A sword will flash in their cities; it will devour their false prophets and put an end to their plans. 7 My people are determined to turn from me. Even though they call me God Most High, I will by no means exalt them.

The story of the Israelites is one of repeated unfaithfulness to their God for the sake of the temporal gain that worshipping other gods gave them. God had treated them like His own children but they insisted on straying. As a punishment, they were captured by the Assyrians and forced into exile and slavery.



5.3 Christ's First Coming (circa 4BC). (Ch 10 Vs 12, Ch 11 Vs 1)

Chapter 10 12 Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers his righteousness on you.

The Israelites were asked to pursue righteousness and "break up" their sinful ways. When Christ came, he taught them more about their God and the proper way to honor Him.



Chapter 11 1 “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.

God loved Israel in its early years during the time of its patriarchs. Because of this, Jesus, who was taken to to Egypt to escape Herod, was called back to Nazareth and to Judea to minister to the Judahites.




Conclusion

This paper is a chiastic reconstruction of the text which shows that the passage contains three interwoven prophetic passages. With this parse, we also show that Matthew 21:15 was not arbitrarily applying a quote about the Israelites to Jesus, and the prophetic line, "Out of Egypt I called my son" (Hosea 11:1), is more clearly a prediction about Christ.



References

[1] A Definition of Functional Chiasmus
[2] A Chiastic Reconfiguration Of "The 70 Weeks Of Daniel"
[3] A Chiastic Reconfiguration Of Micah 4 and 5










Related pages

Daniel 9
Mark 13
Luke 21
Luke 17:22-37
Functional Chiasmus