1 Ephraim feedeth on wind, and followeth after the east wind: he continually multiplieth lies and desolation; and they make a covenant with Assyria, and oil is carried into Egypt. 2 Jehovah hath also a controversy with Judah, and will punish Jacob according to his ways; according to his doings will he recompense him.
Lest, however, the Judeans believe they are exempt from punishment for sin, they too will be brought to court by God for judgment.
3 In the womb he took his brother by the heel; and in his manhood he had power with God: 4 yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed; he wept, and made supplication unto him: he found him at Beth-el, and there he spake with us,
The name “Jacob” means “manipulator, deceiver, trickster”. Here that name describes the attitudes of his descendents as well. Of particular interest here is the chiastic structure of these verses:
A-In the womb Jacob supplanted his brother.The point: that Jacob’s descendents too can learn to be right with God and man if they will but repent.
B- In Adulthood he strove with God.
B’- He Strove with God and prevailed.
A’- He wept and sought his brother’s favor.
5 even Jehovah, the God of hosts; Jehovah is his memorial name. 6 Therefore turn thou to thy God: keep kindness and justice, and wait for thy God continually.
Struggle with God makes one righteous -- or destroys.
7 He is a trafficker, the balances of deceit are in his hand: he loveth to oppress. 8 And Ephraim said, Surely I am become rich, I have found me wealth: in all my labors they shall find in me no iniquity that were sin. 9 But I am Jehovah thy God from the land of Egypt; I will yet again make thee to dwell in tents, as in the days of the solemn feast.
Ephraim is a merchant who is so greedy that he will do anything for profit. Still, if they repent they will be restored.
10 I have also spoken unto the prophets, and I have multiplied visions; and by the ministry of the prophets have I used similitudes.
God’s message. Curiously the word translated “similitudes” or “parables” is also a word that means “ruin”. Ruin comes to those who reject the parables spoken by the prophets and the truths those parables represent.
11 Is Gilead iniquity? they are altogether false; in Gilgal they sacrifice bullocks; yea, their altars are as heaps in the furrows of the field. 12 And Jacob fled into the field of Aram, and Israel served for a wife, and for a wife he kept sheep.
Ephraim flees to foreign powers just as she flees to foreign gods.
13 And by a prophet Jehovah brought Israel up out of Egypt, and by a prophet was he preserved. 14 Ephraim hath provoked to anger most bitterly: therefore shall his blood be left upon him, and his reproach shall his Lord return unto him.
This is known as a “bride rescue” story. See the many examples in many world literatures.
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