The Controversy With Yahudah: Haftarah Vayishlach Reflections

captivity

Hebrew Vision News Exclusive

by Miykael Qorbanyahu aka The End Time Scribe

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 And יהוה has a controversy with Yahuḏah, to punish Ya‛aqoḇ according to his ways, to repay him according to his deeds.

Hoshea 12.2

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Sade Adu’s 1988 song Love is Stonger Than Pride is a tear jerking ballad about the pain of being betrayed and heart broken by one who was thought to be an intimate lover and friend. In the song she beautifully, but hauntingly sings the words

I won’t pretend that I intend to stop living/I won’t pretend I’m good at forgiving/but I can’t hate you/although I have tried/aaahhahmmm/I still really really love you/love is stronger than pride/I still really really love you/mmmmmm…

And while many of us are able to relate to the words and emotion of this powerful track, either from being on the receiving end of experiencing the pain, or the one who caused it by delivering a trust-ending blow to another, none of us can even fathom the amount of heartache and anguish that the nation of Israel has caused the One with Whom we are to be in an eternal covenant, YHWH, the Elohim of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

This week’s haftarah, from Vayishlach, like last week’s haftarah, is again found in the scroll of the prophet Hoshea. And again, like last week’s reading from the prophet, Hoshea’s prophetic utterances present a clear and undying demonstration of YHWH’s love for Israel, which is marked by the repeated times that we as a people have been reconciled to Him as His bride, despite the many, many infidelities that we have committed against our Redeemer.

For Hoshea, his marital experience to Gomer afforded him an empathetic connection to the symbolic emotional state of YHWH in relation to His covenanted alliance with Israel. The most striking element of Hoseha’s prophecy is his metaphorical allusion to the relationship between YHWH and Israel as that of a marriage between a husband and wife. According to Abraham Joshua Heschel’s work The Prophets Voume 1, Hoshea’s bleeding heart and emotional instability as a result of his wife adulteries was

no symbolic representation of real facts, no act of recreating or repeating events in the history of Israel or experiences in the inner life of [Elohim]. Its meaning was not objective, inherent in the marriage, but subjective, evocative. Only by living through his own life what the divine consort of Israel experienced, was the prophet able to attain sympathy for the divine situation. The marriage was a lesson, an illustration, rather than a symbol or sacrament. Its purpose was not to demonstrate  divine attitudes to the people, but to educate Hoshea himself in the understanding of divine sensibility. 

The tragic disturbance in the relationship between [Elohim] and Israel must have determined decisively his attitude and outlook. Hoshea, who again and again emphasized the unchanging devotion of [Elohim] to Israel, was not simply an advocate of the people. His mind was powerfully affected by the embitterment of [Elohim], echoed in his own sympathetic experience[1].

For YHWH, the clearest expression of His love being stronger than pride has been repeatedly demonstrated to His bride, Zion, by the fact that in spite of our repeated adulterous rendezvous with other elohim, or teraphim, YHWH has sought our hearts to again be the sole location for His Presence’s occupancy. Most faithfully, YHWH has continuously redeemed Israel from our habitual abandonment of spiritual, moral, political and national indiscretions. Even today, Israel in our captivity refuses to accept the bond of our covenant and have chosen instead to run with reckless abandon to other lovers who paradoxically have no love or allegiance towards us. In fact, the love that YHWH has for us so far confounds the bounds of our human capacity to endure suffering that the Messianic Writings of Shaul of Tarsus tells us that

Trustworthy is the word: for if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him. If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also shall deny us. If we are not trustworthy, He remains trustworthy, it is impossible for Him to deny Himself.

2 Timothy 3.11-13

This is because it is by design that when YHWH looks into our hearts, he desires to see Himself, being that we are made in His very image and likeness. Not only that, but it is also the promises which He made with our forefathers to which He is faithful in keeping, that nothing will ever separate the seed of Israel, His bride, from the love that YHWH has for us. The prophet Jeremiah, in facts, tells us that

Thus said יהוה, who gives the sun for a light by day, and the laws of the moon and the stars for a light by night, who stirs up the sea, and its waves roar – יהוה of hosts is His Name: If these laws vanish from before Me, declares יהוה, then the seed of Yisra’ĕl shall also cease from being a nation before Me forever. Thus said יהוה, If the heavens above could be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I would also cast off all the seed of Yisra’ĕl for all that they have done, declares יהוה. 

Jeremiah 31.35-37

How great and awesome and unfailing is our heavenly Consort’s love for us!

For Yahudah, however, the controversy that our Bridegroom, YHWH, has with us is that of our faithlessness to the covenant which our ancestors entered into with Him on Mount Sinai for all time. This faithlessness includes doubt, idolatry, rebellion and disobedience, immorality, witchcraft, preachcraft, deceit, lust and adultery, envy, hate and murder, and an overarching rejection of the atonement that YHWH has provided for us in the form of His Mashiyach, Yahoshua ben Yoseph.

As a result of our national apostasy, we have functioned in the spirit of harlotry and have abandoned the Lover of our Souls who has provided for us everything we need for life and reverence, through the knowledge of Him who called us to esteem and uprightness (II Kepha 1.3). Consequently, this rejection of the true knowledge of the Lover of our Souls, has caused that we too to experience rejection by being cast off, divorced if you will, from the only Presence and Land that was prepared to afford us the greatest source to reflect the Light of Life.

In light of our rejection of knowledge, it is interesting to note that in the Hebraic idiom the word knowledge (ידע/yada) implies not only an intellectual perception of a matter, but according Heschel, it connotes the idea of an

inner appropriation, [a] feeling, a reception into the soul. It involves both [an] intellectual and an emotional act…An analysis of the usage of the verb in Biblical Hebrew leads to the conclusion that it often, though not always, denotes an act involving concern, inner engagement, dedication, or attachment to a person. It also means to have sympathy, pity, or affection for someone…It is, however, likely that the sense in which it is used [in reference to Adam knowing his wife] refers to a total relationship, emotional as well as sexual[2].

That knowledge is essential to our connection and attachment to YHWH is the central theme of Hoshea’s prophecy. For it is the knowledge of Elohim that both informs and conforms our being into the ideal consort of our heavenly Bridegroom. This is because, for Hoshea, having the knowledge of Elohim itself is equated with having love for Elohim. As the ideal bride of any groom would be one who is well aware of his dispositions and expectations, so too does Hoshea convey that very principle when he states,

But I am יהוה your Elohim since the land of Mitsrayim, and an Elohim besides Me you shall not know, for there is no Saviour besides Me.

Hoshea 13.4

With this in mind, Hoshea utilizes the graphic description of Israel’s faithlessness to YHWH in the form of adultery to evoke a most painful and gut wrenching response. By comparing idolatry to adultery, it provides the recipients of the prophecy with a direct and personalized reference point to sympathize with Elohim in light of our betrayal against the Lover of our souls. This is because the intimacy of a married couple is to serve as an allegory to the relationship that we, as Israel, are to establish with our heavenly Consort. Of this, Shaul writes in his letter to the Ephesians,

Wives, subject yourselves to your own husbands, as to the Master. Because the husband is head of the wife, as also the Messiah is head of the assembly, and He is Saviour of the body. But as the assembly is subject to Messiah, so also let the wives be to their own husbands in every respect. Husbands, love your wives, as Messiah also did love the assembly and gave Himself for it, in order to set it apart and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word, in order to present it to Himself a splendid assembly, not having spot or wrinkle or any of this sort, but that it might be set-apart and blameless. In this way husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but feeds and cherishes it, as also the Master does the assembly. Because we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This secret is great, but I speak concerning Messiah and the assembly. However, you too, everyone, let each one love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she fears her husband.

Ephesians 5.22-33

In light of this, for Israel, our focus is the conversion of souls through sincere repentance and the reconciliation of our relationship with YHWH through the Mediator and kinsman Redeemer, Yahoshua ben Yoseph ha Mashiyach. For it is through this bond that we are able to be restored to the Most High and are made to appear as pleasurable in His eyes due to being washed clean in the blood of the Lamb which prepares us to be as a spotless bride (Revelation 7.13-17) before Him. As it is the expectancy of a spouse for his beloved to forsake all others to have the sole and exclusive position of the apple of their eye, so too is it YHWH’s desire for us to reject any tempter or paramour, whether spiritually, morally or politically, so that His Being is once again found as the only true Love in our hearts. It is then that we will nationally receive the promises of grain, wine and oil in the land promised to our forefathers, which are symbols of the spiritual blessings we will receive due to our faithfulness to the covenant. The secret of these elements are best described by the words of our kinsman Redeemer when he tells His taught ones that

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Aḏam and drink His blood, you possess no life in yourselves. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood possesses everlasting life, and I shall raise him up in the last day. For My flesh is truly food, and My blood is truly drink. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood stays in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me shall live because of Me. This is the bread which came down out of the heaven, not as your fathers ate the manna and died. He who eats this bread shall live forever.

John 6.53-58

From these words we are able to ascertain that the grain is symbolic of the everlasting life and provisions that we will receive from becoming one flesh in intimate covenant relationship with our Redeemer; the wine represents the forgiveness, atonement and redemption that we internalize and allow to intoxicate us in the Spirit and unity of our beloved One; the oil is the demonstration of the anointing and suggests the intended Messianic reality of national Israel as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation that we will become when we observe and vigilantly guard the covenants of promise.

Herein lies the mystery of unity with the Most High: our intimate attachment in spirit, mind, emotion and body; the complete embrace of the intangible Shekinah of YHWH as the one and only true Lover of our souls in Spirit and in Truth.

As for our present captivity and exile, which is a type of legal get, or bill of divorce from our Bridegroom, it can be amended and overturned when we return to our first love and diligently seek to love and respect Him with all of our heart, soul and strength. This Hoshea well knows and informs the forsake bride of YHWH as he encourages her to return to her beloved One who seeks our return and full embrace, as he prophesies

Therefore, see, I am alluring her, and shall lead her into the wilderness, and shall speak to her heart, and give to her vineyards from there, and the Valley of Aḵor as a door of expectation. And there she shall respond as in the days of her youth, as in the day when she came up from the land of Mitsrayim. And it shall be, in that day, declares יהוה, that you call Me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer call Me ‘My Ba‛al.’ And I shall remove the names of the Ba‛als from her mouth, and they shall no more be remembered by their name. And in that day I shall make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, and with the birds of the heavens, and with the creeping creatures of the ground, when bow, and sword, and battle I break from the earth. And I shall make them lie down in safety. And I shall take you as a bride unto Me forever, and take you as a bride unto Me in righteousness, and in right-ruling, and kindness and compassion. And I shall take you as a bride unto Me in trustworthiness, and you shall know יהוה. And it shall be in that day that I answer, declares יהוה, that I answer the heavens, and they answer the earth, and the earth answer the grain and the new wine and the oil, and they answer Yizre‛ĕl. And I shall sow her for Myself in the earth, and I shall have compassion on her who had not obtained compassion. And I shall say to those who were not My people, ‘You are My people,’ while they say, My Elohim!

Hoshea 2.14-23

Selah.

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[1] Heschel, Abraham J. The Prophets: An Introduction. Volume 1. Harper Touchbooks – 1962. Page 56

[2] ibid. page 57, 58

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