Chapters 7 and 8 carry readers through the end of Jeroboam’s reign, as told in 2 Kings 14:23-29. These chapters also lead us through 2 Kings 15: 8-18, which covers a two-year transition of the crown to Israel’s King Menahem, whom Benjamin refers to as the Viper. The political environment described reflects historical and cultural realities.
Chapter 7 answers the last point raised in Chapter 6 – Benjamin’s need for a righteous instructor. He thinks of Jonah, but through some sad and comic episodes, Benjamin finds the Old Testament prophet Hosea.
I don’t know about you, but God often uses such roundabout paths or methods to get me where He wants me. Perhaps it reflects my stubborn mind, or the difficult ways in which I make decisions. But through each stage, He remained persistent in His efforts and calling. Do you have similar stories to share from your walk with God?
The Bible provides little background about Hosea, so much of what you read here – outside of references to this “minor” prophet’s wife – represents a novelist’s speculation based on Hosea’s namesake book and the time period.
Benjamin’s observations about Bethel’s temple district also reflect historical speculation. We do not know how many temples Jezebel’s initiatives brought about, if any. Often the sinful turns that earned the biblical phrase “evils in the sight of the Lord” started with the manipulation or desecration of the Hebrew God’s temple – or in this case, the substitute places of worship established by Israeli kings in Bethel and Dan. We have no idea how many foreign temples Jeroboam II allowed, if any. As suggested later in The Jonah Cycle, such heathen worship by the Israeli people may have taken place not in a recognized temple, but a hidden or secluded place, or a home. But with the number of deities favored by Israel’s neighbors, and the spread of such beliefs over generations among the Hebrew people, worship options most likely grew and became more recognized over time, as would their suppliers. The Book of Hosea offers insights on this.
Benjamin’s spiritual awareness blossoms with a Chapter 7 epiphany. As he escapes his owners, fear of pursuit tightens his focus… and Benjamin is charmed by the nature around him. It marks perhaps the first time Benjamin notices God’s invisible qualities, as explained in Romans 1:20.
Have you experienced such an eye-opening moment? What was it like?
Benjamin’s awakening led to his first meeting with Hosea outside a crowded, rundown refuge. The old prophet asks the lad to join him. Weary, caught off-guard, our young protagonist hesitates, his old caution dampening his new understanding. Hosea repeats his offer. This time Benjamin accepts.
Such persistence marks one of the main themes in the Bible – and one of the bedrock qualities of God. Can you share similar stories of God’s tenacity or diligence in your life?