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The Refusal to go to Hashem for Help - Based on Meam Loez Commentary on Hoshea 7:8-16

"Ephraim, he has mingled himself among the peoples; Ephraim became a cake not turned." - Hoshea 7:8

Having admonished the people for their abominations, Hoshea now identifies the cause. Ephraim's depravity is due to the fact that "he has mingled himself among the peoples." They assimilated into the nations and learned from their deeds. Such evil traits were absent from Israel originally.

Some explain: Though Ephraim became "mingled... among the peoples," nonetheless, Ephraim will be "like a cake not turned." The Jewish people will not only fail to win the love of the native peoples, they will draw their hatred and contempt. In the eyes of the others, the Jews will be "like a cake not turned." Half dough and half scorched, the cake is of no use to anyone.

What is more, the native peoples will be envious of Jewish wealth. Similarly we find that Isaac was told, "Go from us; for you are much mightier than we are" (Genesis 26:16).

"Though the pride of Israel is humbled (testifies) to his face, yet they have not turned back to the Lord their G-d, nor have they sought Him, for all that." - Hoshea 7:10

The people degenerated so far that they failed to repent even in the face of suffering and distress. "Though the pride of Israel is humbled to his face; yet they have not turned back to the Lord their G-d." They remained arrogant throughout.

"Ephraim has become like a silly dove without heart (understanding); they call to Egypt, they go to Assyria." - Hoshea 7:11

The tribe of Ephraim sought help from Assyria and Egypt (2 Kings 15), but in doing so, failed to realized that this would work to Israel's detriment. They did not rely on G-d's help; and so fell into the net which G-d spread out to trap them.

What is more, "they go to Assyria," instead of turning to the true source of help, "the Lord their G-d" (ibid).

Some say that "like a silly dove" (Hoshea 7:11) alludes to the dove which Noah dispatched from the Ark (Genesis 8). She visited the Garden of Eden, enjoyed great well-being there, and then returned with prey in her beak. Faithful to her mission, she did not linger to enjoy the delights. The same is true of the Jewish people. Though the nations shower them with promised of abundant well-being, they are not swayed for long. They do not forsake the mitzvot.

"As they go, I will spread My net upon them; I will bring them down as the birds of heaven; I will chastise them, as their assembly did (let) hear." - Hoshea 7:12

A subtle interpretation says that the scripture alludes to those who seek justice in gentile courts of law. As they go "there for judgment, "I will spread My net upon them." This interpretation conforms with the following teaching of the Sages. If one refuses to accept the verdict of a Beit Din (a Jewish Court), and instead seeks justice in gentile courts, in the end that person will fall into their traps. They will come to take everything away by force of arms.

"Woe to them for wandering away from Me; destruction to them for having transgressed against Me; I would redeem them but they have spoken lies against Me." - Hoshea 7:13

Alas! "I would" - I had it in My heart - to "redeem them, but they have spoken lies against Me." As the scripture said, "And the children of Israel did impute things that were not right to the Lord their God..." (2 Kings 17:9). They said that I do not know, nor do I oversee their deeds, whether they do good or evil. Therefore, I did not extend My supervision over them, and I "hid My face from them, and they were (will be) devoured (Deuteronomy 31:17).

"And they have not cried out to Me in (with) their heart, though they wail upon their beds; they assemble for (debauch over) corn and wine; they rebel against Me." - Hoshea 7:14

The prophet (Hoshea) complains that the people are steeped in excessive eating and drinking. "They wail" and protest their exile and troubles. They complain even when still lying "upon their beds." But "they have not cried out to Me in their heart." They have not asked Me to "redeem them" (Hoshea 7:13) and bring them deliverance.

"They have not cried out to Me in their heart" - they do not protest the things that concern Me. Rather, they continue to "wail" a great deal over "corn and wine." At the same time, "they rebel against Me."

"Though I have braced and strengthened their arms, yet do they devise evil against Me." - Hoshea 7:15

Some say that Hoshea recalls here Israel's good times, when G-d "braced" them by teaching them His mitzvot. He was towards them as a father who afflicts and rebukes his son in order to guide him on the upright path.

The Almighty "strengthened their arms" over their enemies at the time of Yehoshua's conquest of the land. But "they devise evil against Me." They ascribed all their success to the "power" and "might" of their "hand" (Deuteronomy 8:17), not to G-d, Who had acted on their behalf.

"They turn back, (but) not upwards (to no avail); they have become like a slack bow; their princes will fall by the sword for the raging of their tongue; this will be (the result of) their derision in the land of Egypt." - Hoshea 7:16

"They turn back, but not upwards," toward G-d on high. For they want to distort their way.

Therefore, "their princes will fall by the sword for the raging of their tongue" uttering heresy. Their kings would die by the sword because of their "derision." In this they resembled the "derision in the land of Egypt." There, too, the people were scornful of those who adhered to the Torah.

The prophet (Hoshea) reproves the people for having forsaken G-d. They do not even mention Him. What is more, they invented false and malicious views about G-d and His ways. Thus they claimed that He did not extend His supervision over the world, and the land was subject to the rule of chance.

The prophet also says: In times of trouble they would cry out to Me for deliverance, but it was not a full cry from the heart (Hoshea 7:14). They would wail against famine, and "rebel against Me" even then (ibid).

Jeremiah reproved them for the same offenses; as it says, "For they have turned their back to Me, and not their face; but in the time of their trouble, they will say: Arise, and save us" (Jeremiah 2:27).

Because they denied Divine Providence, therefore will I also pay them back, measure for measure. They will turn back to the level of slaves. Like "a slack bow" that does not draw back truly, and so the arrow drops, you will also drop back to your original condition of being slaves "in the land of Egypt."

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