Bob Dylan And Hosea

By Larry Fyffe

Yahweh of the Old Testament employs harsh allegories in His depiction of the inhabitants of the divided Promised Land as though they be two whoring wives He’s married to – Northern Israel and Judea.

Samaria to the north is personified as the elder sister Aholah who sleeps with Assyrians while Judea as Aholibah is even worse by comparison – she also takes on Babylonians, favouring those with cocks the size of a donkey’s:

For she doted upon their paramours
Whose flesh is as the flesh of asses
And whose issue is like the issue of horses

(Ezekiel 23: 20)

In another allegory, Yahweh appears to be  more forgiving toward the northerners prior to their fall to the Assyrians. He orders Hosea, a prophet of doom, to take pesonified prostitute Samaria as his wife, and attempt to reform her worshippers of Baal, the ancient god of rain, wind, and fertility:

And the Lord said to Hosea

"Go take unto thee a wife of whoredoms
And children of whoredoms
For the land hath committed great whoredom
Departing from the Lord"

(Horsea 1:2)

Interpreted it can that the singer/songwriter quoted below takes on the persona of a modern Hosea (Ezekiel be thirteen when he becomes a prophet):

Twelve years old, they put me in a suit
Forced me to marry a prostitute

(Bob Dylan: Key West)

The Judaic God, via the allegory of Hosea, endeavours to be motherly – kindly and lovingly as the symbolic pine tree; faith-filled Ephraim considers Baal a false idol:

Ephraim shall say
What have I to do any more with idols?
I have heard Him, and observed Him
I am like a green fir tree
From me is thy fruit found

(Hosea 14: 8)

God commands Hosea give his unfaithful wife a second chance at reconciliation after the prophet  divorces her:

And she shall follow after her lovers
But she shall not overtake them
And she shall seek them, but shall not find them
Then she shall say, "I will return to my first husband
For then it was better with me than now"

(Hosea 2:7)

Hosea tries again, fails again:
That's my story, but not where it ends
She's still cute, and we're still friends
Down on the bottom, way down in Key West

(Bob Dylan: Key West)

So ‘tough love’ Yahweh let’s the false gods of the Assyrians in:

"And I will visit upon her the days of Baalim
Where on she burned incense to them
And she decked herself with earrings, and her jewels
And she went after her lovers
And forgat me," saith the Lord

(Hosea 2:13)

Take what you have gathered from coincidence:

Key West is under the sun, under the radar, under the gun
You stay to the left, and then you lean to the right
Feel the sunlight on your skin, and the healing virtues of the wind
Key West, Key West is the land of light

(Bob Dylan: Key West)

One  sign points to ‘Judea’; the other to ‘Samaria’.

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