Fathers and their first born.

Signpost for Sunday 28 July 2013: Hosea 1:2-10; Colossians 2:6-15 (16-19); Luke 11:1-13.

I read earlier this week that the betting odds for the Royal baby’s name were George 5/2, James 5/2 and Hashtag 500/1.

I’m pretty sure you could have made an 8th century BC fortune betting on what Hosea was going to call his first born son (v 4). You could have scooped up again betting on the names of his other two children as well (v6 and 9). Poor kids. Poor old Hosea. He has an arranged marriage, as it were, to a prostitute. Although some scholars reckon she wasn’t. Well not when they got married anyway and probably not in the strictest sense. Once again we have the Jewish spin on the way they see their naughty neighbours. Scholars reckon the word ‘harlot’ in Hebrew could apply to any woman in the northern kingdom who might have worshipped Ba’al. She would have been forced to have her first sexual union with a priest to ensure her fertility before marriage. Therefore, the non-idol worshiping Jews considered her a harlot.

Other commentators say that Gomer (v 3) wasn’t a prostitute when Hosea married her – just a woman who turned out to be unfaithful afterwards.

The truth of the matter is that we’re looking at what even conservative scholars recognise as a poetic account of Israel’s unfaithfulness to YHWH. It’s a tale of unconditional love of course because Hosea never gives up on Gomer and YHWH doesn’t give up on the people of the covenant completely. But that doesn’t mean she and they can’t make you very angry along the way.

Luke 11 is a dad’s tale too. The Lord’s prayer, which turns up in another gospel too (Matt. 6:9-13), is the one where we tend to think it’s Jesus introducing everyone to the idea of calling YHWH daddy. Well, it’s not quite like that. In Aramaic the word he uses is certainly an familial term but don’t forget Exodus 4: 22. It’s quite clearly Dad to the rescue.

On the other hand, when we come to Colossians, let’s remember that Paul was writing this letter at the request of Epaphras, who was the pastor of the church in Colosse. I think it’s a letter written in a spirit of ‘wait till your Father hears about this’.

Paul

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