“I Will Take Her to the Desert”
Hoshea (in this week’s haftara) had a unique solution for Am Yisrael – they were to be sent to the desert (2:16). Most prophets warned against things that could lead to the need for exile and set as the goal, returning to the Land and making its desolate places blossom. Hoshea prophesied when the nation was still in Eretz Yisrael, and its most acute problem was the idol worship of the Ba’al (literally, the husband). The Ba’al, and its wives, Asheira and Annat, turned promiscuity into a way of life. This matter finds expression throughout the haftara.