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From: Ephraim & Rimona Frank
To: heb_roots_chr@hebroots.org
Subject: Ephraim's harlotry

EPHRAIM'S HARLOTRY

Shalom Fellow Israelite,

In the past few weeks an article has been floating on the electronic mail dealing with "Ephraim's most dangerous problem", which according to this commentary is defined as "jealousy". It must be conceded that indeed, historically and scripturally jealousy is one of the Ephraimites' idols. However, making it his most dangerous problem is an entirely different matter! For his part, Yirmiyahu the Prophet points out that Ephraim suffers from an inherent problem from his youth, but predicates that there will come a point in his maturing process that he will repent. This repentance would not be of the glib sort, but will be a deep travail, almost like that of a mother agonizing in childbirth. In the days of his chastisement Ephraim will cry out, smiting his thigh, as he reels in the shame and humiliation of his sin (ref. Jer. 31:18).

What is it that makes this sin so horrendously heinous in the eyes of his Elohim, Who saw fit to bring His wrath upon the nation and kingdom, which ultimately was to be recognized by Him as His "firstborn" (Jer. 31:9)? "Is not Ephraim My dear son? Isn't he a delightful child? Indeed as often as I have spoken against him, I still remember him, therefore, My heart yearns for him, I will surely have mercy on him" (Jer 31:20). YHVH says these wonderful words after the prodigal son repents and returns from the pigsties of his rebellion. But to go back to our original question, the answer is given by a prophet sent to the northern House of Israel, Hoshe'ah, who describes this sin in one word: "HARLOTRY". "YHVH said to Hosea: 'Go, take yourself a wife of harlotry and have children of harlotry, for the land has committed great harlotry by departing from YHVH'" (Hosea 1:2). Perhaps this is Israel's greatest, and even "most dangerous" problem!

The American Heritage Dictionary defines harlotry as prostitution, or the act of giving oneself or another for sexual acts in return for pay. Another interesting definition is to devote oneself (or one's talents) to an unworthy cause. In today's 'broadminded' world one might say, "what is so bad about that, after all, it is one of the oldest professions in the world? Even our forefathers solicited such services, one such example was Yehuda who did not think it wrong to hire whom he took for a prostitute" (ref. Gen. 38:15-16).

Why does the extant harlotry in Ephraim constitute a problem? At Sinai the nation of Israel was given a ketuba, a marriage contract that bound the tribes to their Elohim by a covenant. They were the "bride" of YHVH. As part of the guidelines of marriage YHVH told His bride to wear cords on the four corners of the garment. These cords were to be a reminder of this merger agreement. "And you shall have the tassel, that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of YHVH and do them, and that you may not follow the harlotry to which your own heart and your own eyes are inclined" (Nu. 15:39). Interestingly the reason for the tzitzseet was to help keep one faithful to the marriage, but yet it did not guarantee that that will be the case. As a matter of fact, YHVH knew that Israel would act according to the condition of their heart. Just before He carried His bride over the threshold of the land, that is the Yarden River, YHVH told Moshe that they would not live long in the land because of the condition of their heart (ref Deut.31:16).

As we consider the word "harlotry", one name comes to mind, standing out to all who study prophecy and that is "Babylon", who is called the "mother of harlots" (Rev. 17:5). What is it about Babylon that makes her the symbol of harlotry? For the answer we must refer to her origins. This city was built by Nimrod, a grandson of Ham, as part of the establishment of a conterfit kingdom to that of Elohim's. He postured himself as "a mighty hunter before YHVH" (Gen. 10:9). True to his character, Nimord's name means "we will rebel". In his rebellion he was coming against YHVH's kingdom-order and authority, which was already set up in the family of Noah (Gen. 9:1, 2; 25-27; Ps.145:13).

YHVH's kingdom is characterized by humble servitude for the purpose of glorifying His name. Nimrod, however, rebelled against this order, reversing the 'service process' and in setting up a kingdom, expected to be served (thus creating his own hierarchal order). He defied the command to scatter the seed and to fill the earth by gathering the peoples unto himself. The building of the city, and later of the tower in the same location that was to have reached heaven, were all ventures intended to make a name for the builders. These projects were also aimed at preventing the scattering of the seed around the earth, being monuments demonstrative of man's pride, self-rule, and the worship of the works of his own hands. Centuries later Nebuchadnezzar king of
Babylon was taught by the Elohim of Israel a very important lesson about who is actually the One to rule over all the affairs of man (ref. Dan. 4:28:37).

Thus in Babylon we see that harlotry, rebellion and pride go hand in hand. But when Ephraim (or Israel), is engaged in this form of iniquity another dimension is added to the sin. Being the wife of YHVH and committing harlotry turned the sin into "ADULTARY". "I have seen a horrible thing in the house of Israel: There is the harlotry of Ephraim; Israel is defiled. They do not direct their deeds toward turning to their Elohim, for the spirit of harlotry is in their midst, and they do not know YHVH" (Hosea 6:10; 5:4). If this is still the case, would it not be the most dangerous of all of Ephraim's problems? Harlotry draws on the lusts of the eyes, the lusts of the flesh and the pride of life. This is the reason why many will fall from the Abrahamic faith in latter days. Ephraimites are still building their own cities and making names for themselves; gathering people into these little kingdoms and causing them to fall into the Shinar trap. Achan learned the hard way, by taking the gold, the silver and the Shinar (Babylonian) garment and hiding them in his tent. (ref. Josh. 7) The unfortunate thing was that all Israel suffered, then as now, because of this form of rebellion. Buildings, programs, organizations and committees are useful for man's endeavors but the ultimate test is who gets the glory. Someone once asked the question: "What is a camel?" The answer came back: "It is a horse that was put together by a committee." One might get the same result when making his own attempts at building the "House of YHVH".

I think it is time to stop building suburbs in Babylon and "come out of her My people". May we join Daniel, who was on his face praying, while still in Babylon: "O YHVH righteousness belongs to You, but to us shame of face, as it is this day--to the men of Judah, to the Inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those near and those far off in all the countries to which You have driven us, because of the unfaithfulness which we have committed against You. We have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments. Neither have we heeded Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings and our princes, to our fathers and all the people of the land... We have defiled ourselves in the manner of our fathers, and committed harlotry according to their abominations... Now therefore, our Elohim, hear the prayer of Your servants, and our supplications, and for Your sake cause Your face to shine on Your sanctuary, which is desolate. O Elohim, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see our desolations, and the city which is called by Your name; for we do not present our supplications before You because of our righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercies. O YHVH, hear! O YHVH, forgive! O YHVH, listen and act! Do not delay for Your own sake, O Elohim, for Your city and Your people are called by Your name" (Dan. 9:7,5-6; Ezekiel 20:30; Dan. 9:17-19.

Shabbat Shalom

Shevet Achim

"Come, and let us return to YHVH; for He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up. After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up, that we may live in His sight" (Hos. 6:1-2).

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