[b-hebrew] The meaning of "the blood of Jezreel" in Hosea 1:4

Leonard Jayawardena leonardj at live.com
Fri Aug 8 01:20:02 EDT 2008

In my last post I showed that "the blood of Jezreel" refers to the death or destruction of Israel resulting from her idolatray--rather than Jehu's massacre at Jezeeel--for which the royal house is held responsible because of the part they played in the idolatry of the nation.
The fact that the juxtaposition of the predictions of punishment of the royal house and of the nation for idolatry in Hosea 1:4-5 follows a pattern also found in 1 Kings 14:14-16 and Amos 7:8-9, 11 favors an interpretation that sees idolatry as the reason for both punishments in Hosea 1:4-5 and as well as the particular construction I have placed on the phrase “the blood of Jezreel.” 
Note the following:
1. The fact that idolatry is indisputably the reason for the two punishments in 1 Kings 14:14-16 and Amos 7:8-9, 11, and the punishment of the nation in Hosea 1:4 gives rise to the strong presumption that the royal house is to be punished for the same basic reason in Hosea 1:4, in which the punishment of the royal family is coupled with the punishment of the nation as in the other two passages. This presumption is strengthened by the preceding context of Hosea 1:4, which is the idolatry of the nation.
2. Is idolatry the only connecting thread between the punishment of the royal house and of the nation in these three passages or is there more to the juxtaposition of these two punishments (or judgments)? Note that in all three passages the eventual end of the northern kingdom is in view. In 1 Kings we are plainly told that Jeroboam I is responsible for Israel’s apostasy and its final consequence: exile, and, presumably, that is the ground for the future punishment of the royal house itself. In Hosea we are told that “the blood of Jezreel” is the ground for the punishment of the royal house. We have seen that “the blood of Jezreel” can be interpreted to mean the “death of Jezreel,” i.e., the destruction of the northern kingdom. Interpreted thus, we have an exact parallel to 1 Kings 14:14-16 in Hosea 1:4, with the latter passage being explicit as to the reason for the judgment of the royal house. 
To those who are still not convinced that "the blood of Jezreel" does not refer to Jehu's massacre at Jezreel, I offer the following very simple and basic objection (and there are others).  A list of all those of the house of Ahab killed by Jehu according to 2 Kings 9-10 is given below: 
1. King Joram, son of Ahab, who was killed near the property of Naboth in Jezreel (2 Kings 9:21-26). 
2. King Ahaziah of Judah, who was shot at the ascent of Gur and died in Megiddo (2 Kings 9:27). Ahaziah was a nephew of king Joram (2 Kings 8:24-26). 
3. Jezebel, wife of Ahab and mother of king Joram, who was killed in Jezreel (2 Kings 9:30-37). 
4. The seventy sons of Ahab, who were killed in Samaria and whose heads were brought to Jehu in Jezreel (2 Kings 10:1-8). 
5. All that remained of the house of Ahab in Jezreel," who were slain by Jehu following d. above (2 Kings 10:11). 
6. Forty-two relatives of king Ahaziah of Judah, who came down to visit the royal family of Israel and were slaughtered in Beth-eked (2 Kings 10:12-14). 
7. "All that remained to Ahab in Samaria," who were wiped out by Jehu "according to the word of the Lord which he spoke to Elijah" (2 Kings 10:17). 
If Hosea is pronouncing judgment upon the house of Jehu for any killings carried out by him during his reign, then it is for destroying the house of Ahab, to which 1.-7. above relate. The reader will note, however, that out of the seven, only 1., 3., and 5. involve blood-spilling in Jezreel. The number of Jehu's victims of the house of Ahab outside of Jezreel at least equals--in fact probably exceeds--that in Jezreel. Therefore, it would be very inaccurate to refer to the massacre of the house of Ahab by Jehu as "the blood of Jezreel," wouldn't it?  Why single out the blood spilt in Jezreel? If Hosea was condemning the house of Jehu for the destruction of the house of Ahab by Jehu, he could have simply had God say "I will punish the house of Jehu for his destruction of the house of Ahab," which would have been far more accurate. Indeed, "the house of X" is the usual expression used in the Bible when referring to the destruction of the family and relatives of the Hebrew kings (see, for example, 1 Kings 13:34; 15:29; 16:12; 2 Chronicles 21:7; 22:10). Alternatively, Hosea could have had God say "I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel, the ascent of Gur, Samaria, and Beth-eked"! 
Leonard Jayawardena
Sri Lanka
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