There is a modern refugee issue related to modern-day Israel. But here I want to talk about ancient refugees. This news article that Jim Davila drew attention to a few years ago argued that certain archaeological evidence showed how refugees from the fallen Northern Kingdom of Israel found a haven in Judah. Biblical scholars could already tell that was the case from the fact that the oracles of Hosea, delivered in the Kingdom of Israel just before the Assyrians brought its existence as a vassal kingdom to an end, became part of the Jewish Bible. His message of singular faithful devotion to one God alone, inspired by his own marital experience as the lens through which he viewed religion, influenced the reforms of Hezekiah and an array of Judaean prophets from that time onward.
I realize that this was Valentine’s Day weekend, and had it not been for the impeachment trial outcome this would have been posted yesterday morning. But even ahead of time I was thinking that, on a day dedicated to love, perhaps it is strange to focus on Hosea with his unclear but clearly odd marriage situation. But his story and his experience change the course of history forever and influence what becomes monotheism in Judaism and from there also Christianity and Islam.
While sharing some musical settings of words from the Song of Songs would have been more romantic for the Valentine’s Day weekend, the interpretation of that book as an allegory about God and Israel or Christ and the Church is a direct result of Hosea’s message.
And so that’s the message of the prophet for Valentine’s Day and every day, because relationships and relationship issues do not restrict themselves to one day a year. If you are unfaithful to your significant other and they are a prophet, it might not just cause them heartache. It might lead people for millennia after to rethink how they imagine God. Do you really want to be responsible for that?
Also related to biblical migration, Bible History Daily had an article on the flight of the church from Judaea to Pella. Also on the subject of ancient refugees, read how scientists have managed to trace what happened to refugees from Vesuvius.