Continued from Chapter 26

(Hosea 1:7)

Some Christians contend that two divine personalities appear in Hosea 1:7: “But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will save them [Israel] by Y-H-V-H their God [’Eloheihem].”

The claim is made that if one should promise another that he will do a certain work by a third person, it would be quite evident that the one who promised the work is different from the one through whom he does it. Hence, the conclusion that the Lord who speaks is different from the Lord who actually delivers Israel. But this is an inconclusive argument, as it is not unusual for God to speak of Himself in the third person (e.g., Genesis 18:19; Exodus 3:12, 24:1; Numbers 19:1-2; Zechariah 1:12-17). If “the Lord their God” means, as Christians say, “the Lord their Gods,” it would have to refer to all three members of the Trinity.

Under the circumstances, then, which member of the Trinity made the promise? It must simply be God speaking about Himself in the third person. Furthermore, if we look carefully at the Hebrew text, we will discover that the particular names of God are used advisedly, as each carries a definite meaning bearing on the overall idea of the verse. Accordingly, it should be rendered: “But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will save them by means of [Myself] the Lord of Mercy [Y-H-V-H], their God of Justice [’Eloheihem].” For the divine name Y-H-V-H represents God’s quality of mercy, i.e., the God of Mercy, and ‘Elohim represents God’s quality of justice, i.e., the God of Justice.1 Not by weapons of war did God save Judah, but by using His own weapon, “an angel of the Lord,”2 to inflict punishment on Judah’s enemies.

1 See Rashi, Genesis 1:1 as based on Bereshit Rabbah 33:4 and Sifre (Parashat Va-etchannan 27 ̶ ̶ on Deuteronomy 3:24).

2 See 2 Kings 19:34-35.

© Gerald Sigal