Hosea 14 – The Ten Lost Tribes

The promiss of a return is in Hosea 14.

Jerusalem_from_mt_olives1 Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity.  2 Take with you words and return to the LORD; say to him, “Take away all iniquity; accept that which is good and we will render the fruit of our lips.  3 Assyria shall not save us, we will not ride upon horses; and we will say no more, ‘Our God,’ to the work of our hands. In thee the orphan finds mercy.”

God’s call to “Return” is in the continual tense in the Hebrew. Meaning that He never gives up on this call to return to Him [Song 6:13]. However their “stumble” is over and done. They had stumbled into the worship of the work of their hands i.e. idols. It is not a permanent condition they just need to pick themselves up and start walking back.

Contrary to some teachings Hosea states that the Ten Northern Tribes will return to God. They have no real choice they will return. Up till now they are unaware that they have stumbled, because of their sin. Most of their spiritual leaders at the time of Hosea’s writing were telling the people that everything was going to be fine, and further that the LORD was with them. Only a hand full like Micaiah and Elijah were brave enough to stand up for the truth.

And the messenger who went to summon Micaiah said to him,  “Behold, the words of the prophets with one accord are favorable to the king; let your word be like the word of one of them, and speak favorably.”  But Micaiah said,  “As the LORD lives, what the LORD says to me, that I will speak.” 1 Kings 22:13-14 

And Elijah came near to all the people, and said,  “How long will you go limping with two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word.  1 Kings 18:21 

God told them that if they just stop and repent, He will forgive them all. However at the time they were trusting Assyria to save them from the Egyptians. Assyria having the greatest army of the day. With the largest amount of chariots and horses. However it was not the Egyptians that were the threat. They were on the decline. It was Assyria that was the up and coming empire, and Assyria was none to pleased with the duplicitous way that Israel was dealing with the two empires. God pleads with them to trust once more in Him. The Ten Northern Tribes were about to orphan themselves from their God, He reminded them that it is He one who takes care of the orphans.

They had thought that as long as they kept faith with The GOD of their fathers, that it would be allright if they also worshiped the other gods of the nations around them, “well that was just in case God wasn’t listening right then”, “you know just covering all the bases”. But God is a jealous god, and like a husband He expect His wife to be exclusively faithful to Him.

4 I will heal their faithlessness; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them.  5 I will be as the dew to Israel; he shall blossom as the lily, he shall strike root as the poplar;  6 his shoots shall spread out; his beauty shall be like the olive, and his fragrance like Lebanon.  7 They shall return and dwell beneath my shadow, they shall flourish as a garden; they shall blossom as the vine, their fragrance shall be like the wine of Lebanon. 

The word put here in the English as “faithlessness”, it would be better translated as “backsliding”This “backsliding” according to God is a disease that He will need to heal them on. The “healing” is in the continual tense, which means that the healing hand or God will always be on them for their condition. They will never solve the problem on their own. He is after all the Great Physician. So it is with us. Backsliding is a continual condition we will never be free of until the hand of God removes it.

In the next clause in English is “I will love them freely” is actually “I will love the freewill offering”. The freewill offering, is just that, one that is brought out of freewill or voluntarily. It is not for a designated feast day, although on a feast day one could also bring a freewill offering. The freewill offerings were not completely consumed on the altar, but rather were eaten by the worshiper. The skin went to the priests and the fat and innards were completely burned. The rest was eaten in a feast at the temple. All that was needed was an animal and some other fruits, vegetable and bread, take them to the temple and have a barbecue with God. Sometimes we get so used to the appointed feasts that we don’t think that we can just sit down and have a feast with God anytime we want to.

8 O Ephraim, what have I to do with idols? It is I who answer and look after you. I am like an evergreen cypress, from me comes your fruit.

He asked them one last time, “Why are you turning to idols?” After all it was not those false gods that had been their help. It was always the one true God that had been their help. He is the one who had fed and nurtured them.

He then compare their turning back to Him as a garden in full bloom. Where every thing is perfect and flourishing, wonderful and delightful, as the fragrance of the trees are on the warm days of spring. (Where we might refer to the birds and the bees in the Middle Eastern culture it is fragrances that indicates intimacy.)

Then in the last verse, there is the indication that there is a mystery here. There is more than the plain meaning.

9 Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; whoever is discerning, let him know them; for the ways of the LORD are right, and the upright walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them.

The apostle Paul addresses Hosea’s prophecy in Romans 9. Where he made it quite clear that Lo-ammi, or Not My People, referred to the Gentiles [Hos. 1:9-10]. This has lead to some really crazy doctrines among Gentile believers. However lets read what Paul said.

19  You will say to me then,  “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?”  20 But who are you, a man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder,  “Why have you made me thus?”  21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for beauty and another for menial use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience the vessels of wrath made for destruction,  23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for the vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory,  24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?  25 As indeed he says in Hosea,  

 “Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’ and her who was not beloved I will call ‘my beloved.’” 

26  “And in the very place where it was said to them,  ‘You are not my people,’ they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’”  Rom 9:19-26

Crazy Interprtations

Among the crazy ideas that derive from this one little verse are:

All the Gentile believers receive all the blessing and promises given to Israel. This is called Replacement Theology, for they believe that the church replaces Israel. This one has many faces but, they can believe that all believers no matter where they come from on the earth have a least one drop of Jacob’s blood. They can have some really strange ideas about where the Ten Lost Tribes have moved to over the millennia. One of these is British Israelism, a.k.a. Anglo-Israelism, they believe that some of these people made it to the British Isles. Others they think that only their tribe or group descended form these Ten Lost Tribes. However it manifest, there is just no proof that these tribes are not where the Assyrian left them. In present day Iran.

This is all ridiculous because Paul also makes it quite clear that the Gentiles are the Adopted son’s of Abraham [Gal 4:1-4]. The Gentiles remain Gentiles, for they are sons of Abraham not Jacob. For Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were not Jews but rather Armenians [Deut. 26:5].

Further Paul has only quoted half of the verse in Hosea. He has only addresses Lo-ammi. But the whole verse includes Lo-ruhamah, Not pitied. For whom He is yet to have compassion on.

. . . and I will sow him for myself in the land. And I will have pity on Not pitied, and I will say to Not my people,  ‘You are my people’; and he shall say ‘Thou art my God.’” Hos. 2:23 

So even though Lo-ammi is now clearly the Gentiles, Lo-ruhamah is still out there, needing the compassion of her God.

Romans 11 explains that the natural branches were broken off so that the Gentiles could be grafted in. However there is a warning to the Gentiles, and a restatement of the promise to the sons of Israel.

17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, a wild olive shoot, were grafted in their place to share the richness of the olive tree,  18 do not boast over the branches. If you do boast, remember it is not you that support the root, but the root that supports you. 19 You will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.”  20 That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast only through faith. So do not become proud, but stand in awe.  21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you.  22 Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you too will be cut off.  23 And even the others, if they do not persist in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again.  24 For if you have been cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these natural branches be grafted back into their own olive tree. Rom. 11:17-21

Post Script:

So where are the Ten lost Tribes of Israel? The Bible says that they were sent to Media. Present day Iran.

In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria captured Samaria, and he carried the Israelites away to Assyria, and placed them in Halah, and on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes. 2 Kings 17:6 

iran-mapMedia proper was in a triangle between the ancient place names of Ecbatana, Rhagae and Aspadana, today that is roughly the area between Tehran, Esfahan and Hamadan provinces.

Hosea predicted that the northern tribes would never return as a nation and set up their kingdom again in the Promised Land Hos 1, 6, 9. So they must come back and unite with Judah.

FYI: The New Testament mentions these tribes, Dan and Ephraim are missing Rev. 7:4-8. There are actually 13 tribes of Israel. As Levi was left without land and Josephs two son became separate tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh. However the tribes are never listed in the same order twice, and different ones are drop in these lists so the number is always 12.

Historical References to the Tribes

And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanu-el, of the tribe of Asher; she was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years from her virginity, Luke 2:36

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greeting. James 1:1

Josephus twice tells us that they are beyond the Euphrates.

And when they were there, God signified to the prophet that the king of Babylon was about making an expedition against the Egyptians, and commanded him to foretell to the people that Egypt should be taken, and the king of Babylon should slay some of them and, should take others captive, and bring them to Babylon; which things came to pass accordingly; for on the fifth year after the destruction of Jerusalem, which was the twenty-third of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, he made an expedition against Celesyria; and when he had possessed himself of it, he made war against the Ammonites and Moabites; and when he had brought all these nations under subjection, he fell upon Egypt, in order to overthrow it; and he slew the king that then reigned and set up another; and he took those Jews that were there captives, and led them away to Babylon. And such was the end of the nation of the Hebrews, as it hath been delivered down to us, it having twice gone beyond Euphrates; for the people of the ten tribes were carried out of Samaria by the Assyrians, in the days of king Hoshea; after which the people of the two tribes that remained after Jerusalem was taken [were carried away] by Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon and Chaldea. Now as to Shalmanezer, he removed the Israelites out of their country, and placed therein the nation of the Cutheans, who had formerly belonged to the inner parts of Persia and Media, but were then called Samaritans, by taking the name of the country to which they were removed; but the king of Babylon, who brought out the two tribes, placed no other nation in their country, by which means all Judea and Jerusalem, and the temple, continued to be a desert for seventy years; but the entire interval of time which passed from the captivity of the Israelites, to the carrying away of the two tribes, proved to be a hundred and thirty years, six months, and ten days.  Antiquities of the Jews – Book 10, chapter 9, section 7.

In a speech that Agrippa gave which was intended to prevent the Jews going to war with the Romans. He also states that they are beyond the Euphrates, and could be called upon in war to come to the aid of Judah.

Where then are those people whom you are to have for your auxiliaries? Must they come from the parts of the world that are uninhabited? for all that are in the habitable earth are [under the] Romans. Unless any of you extend his hopes as far as beyond the Euphrates, and suppose that those of your own nation that dwell in Adiabene will come to your assistance; but certainly these will not embarrass themselves with an unjustifiable war, nor, if they should follow such ill advice, will the Parthians permit them so to do; for it is their concern to maintain the truce that is between them and the Romans, and they will be supposed to break the covenants between them, if any under their government march against the Romans. The Wars Of The Jews, Book 2, CHAPTER 16, section 4.

Jerome, who spent twenty years with the Jews of Palestine, says in his Commentary On Hoshea,

“Unto this day the Ten Tribes are subject unto the king of the Persians, nor has their captivity ever been loosed.” Jerome’s Commentary on Hos. 6

Jerome’s comment was the last historical record of them. It is however hard to conceive that there has been any great migration without some notice in some history books. There is some evidence that a few moved out along the silk road to trade. But no sign of any great migration.  So they must still be to a large extent in Iran, formerly called Persia.

Speculation

It seems that when Messiah returns, and these are in no particular order.

He will punish all apostate believers [Luke 12:42-48].

The rest of us get a light beating [Luke 12:42-48].

The Church of Rome will cease to be [Rev. 18:2].

At some point in all of this the Ten Lost Tribes will be brought back in [Hos, 2:1].

Iran seems to be destined for a Great Awakening.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA19 You will say to me then,  “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?”  20 But who are you, a man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder,  “Why have you made me thus?”  21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for beauty and another for menial use?  22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience the vessels of wrath made for destruction,  23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for the vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory,  24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?  25 As indeed he says in Hosea,

“Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’ and her who was not beloved I will call ‘my beloved.’”  26  “And in the very place where it was said to them,  ‘You are not my people,’ they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’” 

And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel:  “Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved;  28 for the Lord will execute his sentence upon the earth with rigor and dispatch.”  29 And as Isaiah predicted, 

“If the Lord of hosts had not left us children, we would have fared like Sodom and been made like Gomorrah.”

30  What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, righteousness through faith;  31 but that Israel who pursued the righteousness which is based on law did not succeed in fulfilling that law.  32 Why? Because they did not pursue it through faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone,  33 as it is written,

“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone that will make men stumble, a rock that will make them fall; and he who believes in him will not be put to shame.”  Rom 9:19-33

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