An ethical dilemma in Hosea (part 3)

This is part of a series. I recommend starting with the first installment.

In the first part we laid out the dilemma that Hosea presents. The accounts in 2 Kings 9:6-10 and 2 Kings 10:30 when compared to a prophecy made by Hosea (1:4) suggests that God commanded an act be done, praised the act and then threatened punishment for that same act. In the last post we examined one of the claims that Jehu exceeded what God had commanded. In this post we will examine another aspect to that claim.

The second related premise is that Jehu exceeded his mandate when he killed Ahaziah the king of Judah. The AiG article suggests this when they write that Jehu “even went so far as to kill King Ahaziah of Judah”.

An article on Ligonier also makes this claim (emphasis added).

In 2 Kings 10:12–14, we read that (Jehu) put to death the relatives of King Ahaziah of Judah who were on their way to visit the king at Jezreel. Ahaziah, of course, had met a deserved end at the hands of Jehu for his own idolatry and friendship with Israel (8:25–29; 9:27–28). But the Lord never told Jehu to destroy the family and friends of Judah’s king. Jehu took things too far, showing that he was not motivated solely by a desire to accomplish God’s will with respect to Ahab’s descendants. The prophet Hosea declared that Jehu’s house would eventually fall as a punishment for this bloodshed at Jezreel (Hos. 1:4–5). (link)

It is true that we don’t have text that explicitly shows that God asked Jehu to kill Ahaziah the king of Judah. But if we examine other texts we can present a reasonable case that Jehu killing Ahaziah was right in the eyes of God as well.

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An ethical dilemma in Hosea (part 2)

This is part of a series. I recommend starting with the first installment.

In the first part we laid out the dilemma that Hosea presents. When one reads the account in 2 Kings 9:6-10 and 2 Kings 10:30 and compares that to the proclamation made by Hosea (1:4) we find God commanding an act be done, praising the act and then threatening punishment and vengeance because the act was committed.

In dealing with the moral dilemma, some commentators suggest that God condemns the house of Jehu because he exceeded what God had commanded.

In Gill’s commentary we find this general principle being described.

It may be observed, that God sometimes punishes the instruments he makes use of in doing his work; they either over doing it, exercising too much cruelty; and not doing it upon right principles, and with right views, as the kings of Assyria and Babylon, (Gill’s Exposition)

Gill is correct, God would often punish those whom He had used to execute His judgement on Israel if they went too far (cmp Isaiah 10:5-7; Jeremiah 50:11-13). The challenge here, is that while God did often punish those he used to execute his judgments, we would be hard pressed to see where he first praised their acts and rewarded them.

The theory, as it specifically applies to Jehu, goes something like this; Jehu was asked to wipe out the house of Omri. And only the house of Omri. However, in carrying out this task (2 Kings 9:22-26, 30-37), Jehu killed more people than what the Lord intended when He asked him to wipe out the royal line. Jehu also went too far when he killed the King of Judah (Ahaziah) and the followers of Baal (2 Kings 9:27-29; 10:28). The command and commendation to Jehu, from the Lord, never included these acts.

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An ethical dilemma in Hosea?

In reading through the book of Hosea, the theme, that kicks off the book, and is repeated throughout, is quite clear.

When the Lord first spoke through Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the Lord.” (Hosea 1:2)

and

My people inquire of a piece of wood, and their walking staff gives them oracles. For a spirit of whoredom has led them astray, and they have left their God to play the whore. (Hosea 4:12)

God is angered by the nation’s turning away from Him and towards idols, rejecting His call to live justly and love others (Hosea 12:6 cmp. Micah 6:8). After numerous warnings, God, through the prophet, tells the nation that He will judge them, rejecting them as His people and showing them no more compassion.

The name of each of Hosea’s children emphasize the coming judgment.

  • Jezreel represents an end to the house of Jehu & the kingdom of the house of Israel
  • Lo-ruhama represents the lack of mercy to be shown to the house of Israel
  • Lo-ammi reminds the nation that you are not my people, and I am not your God.

At the risk of missing the forest (main point) for the trees (details), there is an interesting ethical dilemma that is presented to the astute reader in the opening passages.

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