Hosea 4 – Israel’s Immorality & Introduction to Great Empires

Back then they called them empires and dynasties, but today they are called governments.   Yet, I wouldn’t call the United States an empire anymore or even a government, because empires/government are organized and that no longer exists here.  We have idiots running our country.

What do you expect though when only approximately one-third, at most, of the American population is going to go to heaven?  In 1963, 90% of the American population said they were Christians.

In 2012, 70% of the American population said they were Christians.  Yet, more than half of them are Post-Christians, meaning they say they believe in Jesus, but manipulate the Bible so they can feel safe sinning.

People that believe in Jesus but don’t walk His way are no better off than those that don’t believe:

“Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matt 7:21).

A true Christian is born-again and they are the only ones going to heaven:

“Jesus answered and said unto him: Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (Jn 3:3).

So I have to say that those, or most of those, that are a part of the White House will not have a happy ending.  I truly wish they would all repent, even Obama, but if they don’t at least we won’t have to deal with them anymore.

Anyway, back to the great empires, I would like to look at…

Hosea 4
Israel’s Immorality

1 Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.

A scythed chariot was a war chariot with one or more blades mounted on both ends of the axle.

The scythed chariot was pulled by a team of four horses and manned by a crew of up to three men, one driver and two warriors. Theoretically the scythed chariot would plow through infantry lines, cutting combatants in half or at least opening gaps in the line which could be exploited.

It was difficult to get horses to charge into the tight phalanx formation of the Greek/Macedonian hoplites (infantry). The scythed chariot avoided this inherent problem for cavalry, by the scythe cutting into the formation, even when the horses avoided the men.

“A controversy” – this is a technical term in Hebrew for a “lawsuit.”  As the Lord’s spokesman, Hosea brought charges against unfaithful, covenant breaking Israel (cf. v. 4; Isa 3:13; Jer 2:9; Mic 6:2).

“Truth” – loyalty to the covenant Lord (Josh 24:14) and right dealing with men (Prov 3:3).

2 By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood.

“Swearing…adultery” – the sins detailed (paralleled in Jer 7:9) transgress the ten commandments (see Ex 20:13-16; Deut 5:17-20).

“Blood toucheth blood” – includes (1) murder, (2) the assassination following the death of Jeroboam II when three kings reigned in one year (2 Kgs 15:10-14) and (3) human sacrifice (Ps 106:38; Eze 16:20-21, 23:37).  Where God is not acknowledged, moral uprightness disappears.

3 Therefore shall the land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein shall languish, with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven; yea, the fishes of the sea also shall be taken away.

“Land mourn” – God’s judgment on man’s sin affects all living things in man’s world.

4 Yet let no man strive, nor reprove another: for thy people are as they that strive with the priest.

4:4-9 – an indictment against the priests whose duty was to be guardians of God’s law and to furnish religious instruction (see Deut 31:9-13, 33:10; 2 Chr 17:8-0; Ezra 7:6, 10; Jer 18:18).

Hosea warned the priests not to lodge charges against the people for bringing God’s judgment down on the nation, for they themselves were guilty, and the people could also bring charges against them – as Hosea proceeded to do.

5 Therefore shalt thou fall in the day, and the prophet also shall fall with thee in the night, and I will destroy thy mother.

Constantine XI, last emperor of Byzantium

6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.

“Destroyed for lack of knowledge” – partly because the priests had failed to teach God’s word to the people.

“Law of thy God’ – Israel’s source of life, which the priests should have been faithfully promoting.

Just like in the church today, most of them don’t teach the truth or if they do they don’t teach it all and the end will be a very said day for them. Matt 7:20-22

7 As they were increased, so they sinned against me: therefore will I change their glory into shame.

8 They eat up the sin of my people, and they set their heart on their iniquity.

“Eat up the sin” – priests devoured the sacrifices, profiting from the continuation of the sin rather than helping to cure it.

That’s what the Catholics do.

9 And there shall be, like people, like priest: and I will punish them for their ways, and reward them their doings.

“Like people, like priest” – without exception, all would be punished for their sins.

10 For they shall eat, and not have enough: they shall commit whoredom, and shall not increase: because they have left off to take heed to the LORD.

Carthage is a suburb of Tunis, Tunisia, with a population of 20,715 (2004 census), and was the centre of theCarthaginian Empire in antiquity. The city has existed for nearly 3,000 years, developing from a Phoeniciancolony of the 1st millennium BC into the capital of an ancient empire.

Carthage was founded as a Phoenician colony near modern Tunis. After the fall of its mother-city Tyre in 585, Carthage became the leader of the Phoenician colonies in the west and founded an informal but powerful empire, which is known for its almost perennial struggle against the Greeks of Sicily and the Romans.

“Eat, and not have enough” – the idea is that of a “futility curse.”  The punishment fit the sin.

“Commit whoredom” – instead of giving themselves to the Lord, they chose the fertility rituals of Canaanite religion, e.g., worshiped gods like Asherah and Astarte.

11 Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the heart.

12 My people ask counsel at their stocks, and their staff declareth unto them: for the spirit of whoredoms hath caused them to err, and they have gone a whoring from under their God.

“Their stocks” – an image of a god.

13 They sacrifice upon the tops of the mountains, and burn incense upon the hills, under oaks and poplars and elms, because the shadow thereof is good: therefore your daughters shall commit whoredom, and your spouses shall commit adultery.

“Tops of the mountains” – places commonly chosen for pagan altars.  Clay tablets from Ugarit tell of fertility rites carried out by the Canaanites at the high places.

“Commit whoredom” – Canaanite fertility rites involved sexual activity that led to general erosion of morals.

14 I will not punish your daughters when they commit whoredom, nor your spouses when they commit adultery: for themselves are separated with whores, and they sacrifice with harlots: therefore the people that doth not understand shall fall.

“Not punish” – the men would punish the women for immorality, but God would have no part in their hypocrisy.

“Whores” – common prostitutes.

The Book of Armagh declares the High King of Ireland, Brian Boru to be “Imperator Scottorum” or “Emperor of the Irish”. Ireland was named by the Romans “Scotia” and its people Scoti. The invasion of Irish tribes of northern Britain led it to acquiring the name “Scotland” or land of the Irish.

“Harlots” – women of the sanctuaries who served as partners for men in cultic sexual activity.

15 Though thou, Israel, play the harlot, yet let not Judah offend; and come not ye unto Gilgal, neither go ye up to Beth-aven, nor swear, The LORD liveth.

“Gilgal” – a site near Jericho where the Israelites had established a religious shrine.

“Beth-aven” – a sarcastic  substitute name for Beth-el (Beth-aven means “house of wickedness,” while Beth-el means “house of God,” site of one of the cult centers established by Jeroboam I.

“The Lord liveth” – a form of solemn oath.  Though proper in itself – since it involved the true God – it was here forbidden because it was being used deceitfully, as though the Israelites were truly honoring the Lord when they weren’t.

16 For Israel slideth back as a backsliding heifer: now the LORD will feed them as a lamb in a large place.

17 Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone.

“Ephraim” – is, the northern kingdom.

18 Their drink is sour: they have committed whoredom continually: her rulers with shame do love, Give ye.

19 The wind hath bound her up in her wings, and they shall be ashamed because of their sacrifices.

Introduction to Great Empires

This blog is all about God, about Jesus Christ, and up until now all historical and archaeological facts have pertained only to Them.  Nod not all of the following Great Empires relate directly back to the Bible.

Long before drive by shootings and police stabbings, our ancestors used some truly deadly weapons against each other; finding the most gruesome and painful ways to attack each other. No modern weapons can come close to being able to inflict the same level of suffering as these ancient weapons. You might even be thankful for guns with their quick deaths after viewing a couple of these weapons.

Yet, Ancient Empires relate to God and/or the pagan gods and since the Ancient Empires set the foundation of building an empire they all connect to the power of God.

From a  21st century prospective, great empires seem to be a thing of the past. The term “empire” conjures images of swords and gunships, silk-robed dictators in luxurious palaces, treasure ships carrying gold from the exploited to the exalted.

But empires have shaped world history in more than militaristic ways. They have forged connections among diverse peoples to the enrichment of civilization.

An empire is typically defined as a political unit with an extensive territory, or a number of territories and peoples governed by a single supreme authority. Empires can be land based or maritime, sedentary or nomadic, defensive or offensive.

A caltrop is a weapon made up of two (or more) sharp nails or spines arranged so that one of them always points upward from a stable base (for example, a tetrahedron).

Caltrops serve to slow down the advance of horses, war elephants, and human troops. It was said to be particularly effective against the soft feet of camels.

They are among the oldest forms of political structure, dating back to ancient Mesopotamian in the third millennium B.C. Many lasted for centuries: Rome ruled for 600 years; 1 Byzantium 1,000; China, in successive dynasties, for more than 2,000.

By contrast, many of today’s nation-states are perhaps 50 to 150 years old – just pups, by historical standards.

Identifying empires in history can be difficult: Just how large does a territory have to be to make it empire size?  How long lasting? How diverse according to population? The lines can be blurred. Did the Phoenicians govern an empire or a network of trading cities? Did early Egyptian rulers hold sway over a single nation or many?

Does modern imperialism – the United States in the Philippines, the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe – fit the same model? Depending on your criteria, the world has known more than 150 empires in its time, including such now obscure entities as the Irish empire of Brian Boru and the realm of the Wari of Peru.

Thus it was not easy to pick the empires featured in this list. We wanted to include the familiar empires that are generally considered “great,” whether in size or cultural influence, but we also wanted to shed light on some cultures that don’t get as much attention:

Back in the day, you had to scale the walls of a city or castle before you could rape and pillage. This led someone to the brilliant idea that you could pour boiling oil on top of the people trying to climb in.

North African empires, for instance, or those of Southeast Asia.  We included empires that had a distinctive cultural stamp, but excluded some, particularly industrial-era ones that were linked primarily by commercial ties or temporary military domination.

Napoleon, though he himself an emperor and conquered diverse territories, never really forged a coherent or long-lasting empire.  Alexander the Great, by contrast, died young, but Hellenistic lands in the Middle East bore his stamp for centuries.

The Maya are not included because no single Maya city-state dominated the Yucatan the way the Aztec did central Mexico or the Inca did Peru. Those dynamic Maya city-states were instead like ancient Athens and Sparta – great rivals that prevented each other from achieving imperial supremacy.

Organizing the empires into say chapters and sections presented a challenge. Modern atlases typically arrange countries by continent, even while acknowledging that continents are artificial geographical creations with arbitrary boundaries. But empires, by their very nature, span wide areas and cross continental boundaries.

We all know that crossbows are badass – but what about the arbalest? The Arbalest was a larger version of the crossbow and it had a steel prod (“bow”).

Since an arbalest was much larger than earlier crossbows, and because of the greater tensile strength of steel, it had a greater force. The strongest windlass-pulled arbalests could have up to 22 kN (5000 lbf) strength and be accurate up to 500m.

A skilled arbalestier (arblaster) could shoot two bolts per minute. Arbalests were sometimes considered inhumane or unfair weapons, since an inexperienced crossbowman could use one to kill a knight who had a lifetime of training.

Maritime empires are not even contiguous. And the long lives of most empires can make difficult to place them into traditional historical categories such as ancient, medieval, or modern.

Therefore, the empires shown in this blog will be sorted into geographical and historical bins to somewhat keep track of their relationships in space and time.  When this blog is completed there will be a Table of Contents with each chapter of the Books of the Bible, and a cyclopedia or index.

Looking at history in terms of these huge political entities allows us to see patterns on a broad scale. As diverse as these empires are, study of their growth and administration reveals many similarities.

Military power is one of the most obvious. Particularly before the age of exploration, empires were land based and grew primarily through military conquest.

Rome’s famed armies spread its influence in every direction, from Asia to the British Isles. Its soldiers not only subdued foreigners by force of arms but also built roads, maintained aqueducts, and settled into distant lands, intermarrying with locals to produce generations of loyal Roman citizens.

The Hunga Munga is an iron fighting tool named by the African tribes south of Lake Tchad; also called “danisco” by the Marghi, “goleyo” by the Musgu, and “njiga” by the Bagirmi.

It is handheld weapon and has a metal pointed blade with a curved back section and separate spike near the handle.

The weapon can be used in hand to hand combat (Melee) although it is normally thrown with a spinning action.These African iron weapons are thrown with a rotatory motion (similar to an Australian boomerang), and cause deep wounds with their projecting blades.

The Mongols assembled possibly the greatest military force the world has known, overcoming armies from the Balkans to the Pacific with their fast-moving horsemen. Aztec soldiers were famed for their ferocity; Chinese forces maintained the vast boundaries of their empire for thousands of years.

In more recent times, purely military conquest gave way in many places to technological and commercial conquest, as rapidly industrializing countries reached out to seize resources: gold, sugar, spices, opium, oil, and more.

Imperial armies were often led by revered commanders: Julius Caesar, Alexander, Cyrus, Genghis Khan, Saladin. The semi-legendary status and charisma of these leaders helped establish a central authority and solidarity within a widespread empire. When rulers were seen as divine or semi-divine, as in Egypt, China, and India, it reinforced their claim to power.

With great empires come great administrative responsibilities: taxation, finance, infrastructure, transportation, education. The empires that lasted longest were often those with the best civil servants.

China’s Confucian meritocracy served it well for centuries; Byzantium became known for its vast bureaucracy, which held the empire together even when emperors in Constantinople were weak or incompetent. The nomadic Mongols, on the other hand, lacked any experience at settled governance, and their empire disintegrated accordingly.

Certain features appear again and again across empires. First-class roads and communications are among them. Roman roads held the empire together. So well-built were they that they can still be seen and used across Europe.

The Morning Star (also sometimes called the goedendag or Holy Water sprinkler) is a term used for a variety of club-like weapons with one or more sharp spikes sticking out of it.

It would normally have one big spike poking out of the top with a bunch of smaller ones around the sides. These are often thought of as peasant weapons, but there were also very high quality ones made for the rich guys.

India’s Emperor Ashoka linked trading centers across his empire with roads adorned by shade trees, wells, and inns. The Inca government at Cusco maintained thousands of miles of fine roads, as did the Persian and subsequent Islamic empires.

Postal carriers, spies, merchants, and armies benefited. Imperial governments also frequently enforced standardization among weights, measures, and time, smoothing the path of commerce. One of the emperor Shi Huangdi’s accomplishments was to standardize the width of China’s cart axles, so that wheels would match ruts in his empire’s roads.

Many of the most successful – that is, long-lived and stable – empires were marked by their ability to incorporate diverse populations, making use of their varied skills. Pre-Christian Rome, whose imperium is at the root of the English word “empire,” was an early example.

Emperor Claudius and his successors even added provincial citizens to the august Roman senate. To the protests of Italian senators, Claudius replied (according to Tacitus):

“We had unshaken peace at home; we prospered in all our foreign relations, in the days when Italy beyond the Po was admitted to share our citizenship, and when, enrolling in our ranks the most vigorous of the provincials, under color of settling our legions throughout the world, we recruited our exhausted empire.

With the advent of the trebuchet (a very high powered catapult) came the realization that plagued bodies were no longer needed to slowly kill people in a fortified town or castle.

You could simply catapult a rotting or diseased animal over the ramparts – or for truly fast results, you could fling over a few beehives. Dead horses were a popular weapon in this form of biological warfare, though anything filled with disease would do the trick.

The counterweight trebuchet appeared in both Christian and Muslim lands around the Mediterranean in the twelfth century. It could fling three-hundred-pound (140 kg) projectiles at high speeds into enemy fortifications.

Trebuchets were invented in China in about the 4th century BC, came to Europe in the 6th century AD, and did not become obsolete until the 16th century, well after the introduction of gunpowder. Trebuchets were far more accurate than other medieval catapults.

Are we sorry that the Balbi came to us from Spain, and other men not less illustrious from Narbon Gaul? Their descendants are still among us, and do not yield to us in patriotism. What was the ruin of Sparta and Athens, but this, that mighty as they were in war, they spurned from them as aliens those whom they had conquered?”

Other empires maintained a strict separation between “superior” conquerors and “inferior” conquered peoples. This distinction is seen most commonly in more modern, colonial empires.

Colonial powers in the New World, Africa, and Asia might see conquered populations as fodder for forced labor, or as heathens ripe for religious conversion, but rarely did they admit them to equal status.

Looking at world history through the wide-angle lens of empire formation reveals a process both enriching and destructive. Empire building almost always means war and death. Millions upon millions have been slaughtered, raped, and enslaved in the quest for territory and wealth.

The Mongols piled up actual hills of Aztec eviscerated tens of thousands atop their temples. Egyptian and Chinese laborers toiled and died for their emperors’ grand creations; African slaves suffered on American plantations.

And empires, jostling supremacy, can precipitate conflict on a grand scale, as seen in the world wars of the 20th century. Empires also have been the engines of productive change throughout history.

The world’s religions, technologies, crops, arts, and languages have spread along imperial highways. Sometimes this was intentional. The Mongols, for all their ferocity, succeeded in part because they sought out foreign artisans, incorporated their technology, and respected their beliefs.

Picture, if you will, a slow day on the seas. The water is calm, the sky is blue, when suddenly, from out of nowhere, it starts raining fire!

You discover that you have just been engaged by a Greek warship and they have flame-throwers! Yes – that’s right, the Greeks used flame-throwers in their naval battles from around 670 AD. So what do you do when you are being fired on by flame-throwers? According to one witness:

“Every time they hurl the fire at us, we go down on our elbows and knees, and beseech Our Lord to save us from this danger.”

More often it was an unavoidable by-product of the mix of cultures.  Slaves shipped to distant lands enriched their new cultures with music, languages, foods, and stories. Beauty itself traveled imperial roads, as when exquisite Ming vases reached European tables or Arab architecture transformed southern Spain.

Sometimes violently, sometimes gradually, empires have merged human populations. The words we speak, the meals upon our tables, the places in which we worship, the clothes we wear, and more can be traced back to the ebb and flow of imperial power.

Even our chromosomes bear witness to these connections. Many North Americans, for instance, have been surprised to discover a little piece of Mongol DNA in their genes.

We don’t think of ourselves as creatures of empire now, in the 21st century, on a planet divided into 195 nations. But empires of every description – creative and destructive, grand and cruel, brutal and benevolent – have shaped our world. 

…the Akkadian Empire.