The Book of Haggai

 

Why the Lord demanded that His prophets solicit prostitutes just to make a bad simile isn't explored. Perhaps He'd misplaced His sock puppets.

Hosea is the first of the twelve "minor prophets" that make up the back of the Old Testament Bible. (Don't let "minor prophets" throw you, by the way. At first I thought it was a catty dig from some die-hard Old Testament fanbase posting insults on internet forums: "Hosea totally sold out after his first prophecy!" "It's not about being a divine conduit for the will of God anymore! It's about the money." Alas, it's not nearly so interesting; it just means the prophecies are shorter.)

The Book of Hosea chronicles the story of — spoiler — the prophet Hosea. According to Hosea, the Lord God comes to him with explicit instructions that he marry a prostitute. No, really. Hosea speedily complies and shacks up with the prostitute Gomer (presumably unrelated to the Pyle family), who—in a move uncommon to the profession—spits out a shitload of kids. Hosea does his best with his new-car-smell harlot wife, buying her lots of nice things and making love to her with regularity. Despite Hosea's sex-and-purchase-based love strategy, though, she continues to harlot around like it's going out of style.

Following several decades of faithless marriage between Hosea and village bicycle Gomer, God reveals his reason for demanding all the hooker-sex in the first place. The union, it turns out, makes for a perfect metaphor for the Lord's relationship to Israel. In forsaking their covenant by exploring other religions (golden calves, Ba'al and whatnot), Isreal is like the faithless whore Gomer, and God the exasperated spouse. You hussy, Israel.

Why the Lord felt it necessary to demand His prophets solicit prostitutes simply to make a bad simile about false gods isn't explored with any conviction. Perhaps He'd misplaced His sock puppets. Either way, the remainder of the Book of Hosea has God continuing—and continuing, and, believe me, continuing—His argument about the whole Isreal-whore thing. God hammers His point home, then through the drywall, then out into the other room. Cliff's Notes version: The Lord will sell us into captivity for our idolatrous, sinning ways. He will punish us with judgment for our wicked disloyalty. He will take back everything he gave us, strip us naked, lay waste to our fig trees and watch as we die of thirst.* Will God laugh with his hands atop his hips while we die? He doesn't say, but judging from the tone here: most probably yes.

If I had to sum up the Book of Hosea in a nutshell: watch your back, Israel. God's a good damn cop, and you just pushed Him too far.

* But that's not all! If you worship false gods now, the Lord will also suffocate your children and grind their skulls to powder at no extra cost!

 

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