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In one of the most beautiful passages of a beautiful book, God says:

How can I give you up, O Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, O Israel?
How can I make you like Admah?
How can I treat you like Zeboiim?
My heart recoils within me;
my compassion grows warm and tender. —Hosea 11:8 (ESV)

(I've already asked two questions on Hosea's use of places—on 4:15 and 6:9.)

So where were Admah and Zeboiim? What does it mean to be made like them?

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3 Answers 3

Addendum to Kazark:

There is an alliteration in the Hebrew. Each of the first four lines starts with the letter aleph. Each of the last words in each line have an aleph, in the first syllable of "Ephraim" and "Adamah" (lines 1 and 3), and in the last syllable of "Israel" and "Zeboiim" (lines 2 and 4). This would not work with "Sodom" and "Gamorrah".

As the OT was transmitted primarily by memorization in the time of Hosea, these place names would be familiar to anyone having what was then considered an education. Nowadays you can get an "education" without familiarity with the classical texts.

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Is it a mere coincidence that the two wives of Lamech are Adah and Zillah?

Genesis 4:19 ¶ And Lamech took unto him two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.

When there are two things, one represents the earthly and the other represents the heavenly. Admah means red earth, Zeboiim is plural for Tsebiy meaning beautiful. Adah means red earth by way of riddle (Adma is the same as Adam which is the same as Adah-im), Zillah means shade (which is like the sunrise and sunset or the reconciliation of Holiness and Grace in SP). Should there be any doubt of this loose connection, she is also the mother of Naamah meaning 'loveliness'.

The two things are two aspects of one thing; the bride of Christ as represented by Israel and the church, and more esoterically by the earthly people of God and the heavenly people of God in glory. This theme of a dual-natured bride is represented by the prostitute/virgin theme.

Nearly all the prominent women of the Bible participate in this theme in riddle:

  • Rebekkah was a virgin who was 'took/married' by the servant and 'uncovered' with him.
  • Leah sneaked into Jacob's wedding tent while Rachel remains the virgin.
  • Gomer is a prostitute who names her first child "God sows"
  • Tamar plays the harlot but is more honorable than Judah.
  • Even Mary is the virgin whose name means rebellious and is suspected of adultery.
  • many more

The cities Admah and Zeboiim represent the bride of Christ.

More than that, they represent the bride of Christ when he comes in power:

Re 17:10 And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, [and] the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space.

Compare the seven generations of Cain to the ten generations of Seth:

Cain

  • Enoch
  • Irad
  • Mehujael
  • Methusael
  • Lamech
  • Jabal - Jubal & TubalCain

    Seth

  • Enos

  • Cainan
  • Mahalaleel
  • Enoch
  • Jared
  • Methusalah
  • Lamech
  • Noah
  • Shem, Ham, Japheth

Notable points:

  1. The word 'lived' is repeated many times in the genealogy of Seth. It is absent from the genealogy of Cain. The seven generations of Cain 'did not live' they died.
  2. Of the seven generations of Cain, two names also appear in that of Seth; Enoch and Lamech.
  3. Enoch in Seth's line walked with God, so he did not die.
  4. Lamech means power. Since Christ has not come in power yet, Lamech is the 'one to come' in the riddle of Rev 17. Cain's genealogy fits the riddle of Rev 17.

Of the seven generations five are past (died), one is (Enoch lives) and one is to come (in power).

Therefore, the two cities representing the bride of Christ, represent the bride at the time of his coming in power.

Further resolving the riddle using the genealogies reveals the identity of the beast. But that is another question.

Hos 11.9 I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim: for I am God, and not man; the Holy One in the midst of thee: and I will not enter into the city.

Though his bride is a prostitute, he will not destroy her when he comes in power because he loves the virgin.

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Sensus Plenior is the only hermeneutic which uses the Bible alone to solve this riddle of Revelation. –  Bob Jones Jun 2 '12 at 14:39
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I looked up several of the name meanings. But I ran into trouble on Adah. I get ornament as the meaning of her name. This answer is interesting and thought provoking. Unfortunately, it creates more problems than it solves for me. Most likely that's because I can't get on the Sensus Plenior wavelength. –  Jon Ericson Jun 2 '12 at 16:32
    
@Jon Sorry Adma is the same as Adam which is the same as Adah-im (a plural of Adah). Vowels are loosely connected in puns. –  Bob Jones Jun 2 '12 at 19:33
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עָדָה ('Adah, Lemech's wife) is not even close to the same word as אָדָם (Adam). They have one letter in common. And if you say that alef and 'ayin are homophones and final hei is silent so it doesn't count, well, not all speakers would agree, nor many (if any) Hebrew scholars. –  Gone Quiet Jun 10 '13 at 16:45
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up vote 7 down vote accepted

This sermon by Brett Mahlen (which I strongly recommend and exhort you to listen to) has an excellent discussion of this, and is the basis of my answer.

Where Were They?

Admah and Zeboiim were the little towns outside of Sodom and Gomorroh, which were burned up with the larger cities when the sulfury fire of God fell from heaven in judgment on them (Mahlen; Deuteronomy 29:23; see also Genesis 10:19; 14:2, 8).

Made Like Them

God utterly annihilated them in the flame. But if this is the only significance of mentioning them, why doesn't Hosea say "Sodom and Gomorrah," the more well-known locations? These towns are not mentioned nearly as often as Sodom and Gomorrah in the Bible—the above list of verses is complete, with the possible addition of 13:18. Not only are these names unfamiliar to us, but it is unlikely that they were well known to Hosea's listeners (Mahlen).

To be made like Admah and treated like Zeboiim is not only to pass out of existence but out of memory. In the riches of his grace it is abhorrent to the Most High God to drop his people into the flames of the memory hole, as they deserve.

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