This is considered a sign of God’s great love for each tribe of Israel, as it says in the Song of Songs: “His banner [degel] over me is love.” (v. 2:4)
Even while traveling, the Israelites kept to their particular formation around the Tabernacle, which according to Rabbinic commentary (Midrash), accounted for the fact that Korah (a Levite) along with Datan, Abiram and On (Reubenites) conspired together in a mutiny against the leadership of Moses (Numbers 16:1).
They lived in close proximity on the south side of the Tabernacle and being in close proximity to one another, they joined together in the rebellion.
Of course, this is a perfect illustration of the importance of carefully choosing our companions. The Bible teaches us that bad company corrupts good character (1 Corinthians 15:33).
Haftarah Prophetic Portion: United Under One Authority
“Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered.” (Hosea 2:1 [1:10])
Usually there is a common theme between the Parasha and the corresponding Haftarah (prophetic portion). We see this connection in today’s study from the book of Hosea (Hosea 2:1–22 [1:10–2:20]), which mentions the wilderness and the numbering of the people of Israel.
Hosea, in fact, prophesies that Israel’s numbers will grow in number like the sand of the sea. (Hosea 1:10 [2:1])
Additionally, Hosea prophesies that the two houses of Judah and Israel will eventually be re-unified in the Messianic Era under a single leader, as also foreseen by Daniel, Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Zechariah, among other prophets and writers. (Daniel 7:13–14; Isaiah 9:6–7, 11:1–16; Ezekiel 37:25; Zechariah 14)
This leader is Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah).
“And the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered together, and they shall appoint for themselves one head. And they shall go up from the land, for great shall be the day of Jezreel.” (Hosea 2:2 [1:11], also 3:3–5)
Because of this theme of assembling together in unity under one head, this portion is read before Shavuot, when all the children came as one people to receive the Torah at Mount Sinai.
Likewise, at Shavuot (Pentecost), the disciples of Yeshua waited in unity of mind, heart, and purpose for the coming of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit). (Acts 1:14)
There is an anointing when we gather together in unity.
“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.” (Psalm 133)
Redemption and Marriage
In this prophetic book, which is the first of the Trei Assar (Twelve Prophets), God uses Hosea’s marriage to a prostitute as a real-life parable to reveal His great love for Israel.
After Hosea’s wife bears him children, the Lord tells Hosea to send his wife and children away.
Hosea obeys, but declares his loves for them, despite his wife’s straying.
Through this dispersion of his family, Hosea comes to understand God’s absolute love for and commitment to Israel despite her straying.
With this insight, Hosea rebukes Israel for engaging in adulterous affairs with pagan deities and being an unfaithful spouse to the Lord.
And yet, just as Hosea took back his wife who played the harlot, God promises to take back His unfaithful wife, Israel. He promises that the Jewish people will repent and be betrothed to Him forever.
“I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the LORD.” (Hosea 2:21–22 [19–20])
This concluding passage of the Haftarah is a wonderful prophecy of redemption, which is recited by Orthodox Jewish men each morning as they put on the tefillin (phylacteries). This traditional wrapping of the leather straps around the man’s fingers, as a groom places the wedding ring upon his bride, is meant to be symbolic of the betrothal of God and Israel.