Why Prophets Got Stoned to Death

Hear the word of the Lord, O people of Israel;

for the Lord has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land.

There is no faithfulness or kindness,

and no knowledge of God in the land; 2 there is swearing, lying, killing, stealing, and committing adultery;

they break all bounds and murder follows murder. 3 Therefore the land mourns,

and all who dwell in it languish,

and also the beasts of the field,

and the birds of the air;

and even the fish of the sea are taken away. 4 Yet let no one contend,

and let none accuse,

for with you is my contention, O priest. 5 You shall stumble by day,

the prophet also shall stumble with you by night;

and I will destroy your mother. 6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge;

because you have rejected knowledge,

I reject you from being a priest to me.

And since you have forgotten the law of your God,

I also will forget your children. 7 The more they increased,

the more they sinned against me;

I will change their glory into shame. 8 They feed on the sin of my people;

they are greedy for their iniquity. 9 And it shall be like people, like priest;

I will punish them for their ways,

and requite them for their deeds. 10 They shall eat, but not be satisfied;

they shall play the harlot, but not multiply;

because they have forsaken the Lord

to cherish harlotry. 11 Wine and new wine

take away the understanding. 12 My people inquire of a thing of wood,

and their staff gives them oracles.

For a spirit of harlotry has led them astray,

and they have left their God to play the harlot. 13 They sacrifice on the tops of the mountains,

and make offerings upon the hills,

under oak, poplar, and terebinth,

because their shade is good.

Therefore your daughters play the harlot,

and your brides commit adultery. 14 I will not punish your daughters when they play the harlot,

nor your brides when they commit adultery;

for the men themselves go aside with harlots,

and sacrifice with cult prostitutes,

and a people without understanding shall come to ruin. – Hosea 4:1-14

Note that in ancient Israel, the people had no more access to the political power to choose a priest than we do today. (Indeed, we have more.) Yet still, somehow, Hosea saw the people as more or less having the priests they deserved. He didn’t excuse the bad priest. It’s just that he also didn’t excuse the people either.

“Oh, but back *then* it was really true that the whole people, not just the priestly class, bore responsibility for the rank corruption in the people of God. But today it’s totally different. If Hosea said a thing like that today, he’d be roundly and rightly slammed for ‘blaming the victim’. It’s different with us. We’re special.”


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