“Ephraim feedeth on wind, and followeth after the east wind: he daily increaseth lies and desolation; and they do make a covenant with the Assyrians, and oil is carried into Egypt” (Hosea 12:1).
When Ephraim follows after the east wind, he receives desolation and lies. What is this east wind that brings such destruction?
This wind is mentioned many times in the Old Testament and twice in the Book of Mormon. In almost every case it brings destruction. The earliest reference to this east wind comes as part of Pharaoh’s dream. In his dream, which was interpreted by Joseph, he saw seven fat ears of corn. After these seven fat ears he saw seven thin ears that were “blasted with the east wind” (Genesis 41:6). What was this east wind like if it “blasted” the ears of corn?
I grew up in the Phoenix area. In the summertime we would occasionally receive massive dust storms called haboobs. They usually occur in July or August, during the “Monsoon Season” (or, more accurately, the summer thunderstorms). These haboobs – these gigantic dust storms – can be felt before they arrive. They can also be seen before they arrive. There is something awe-inspiring about seeing a hundreds-foot tall wall of dust traveling towards you. At first the wall seems to travel slowly; it creeps across the desert toward you, but then it hits. 30 mile an hour winds; micro-dust everywhere. Everything is covered in a fine gritty sand. Breathing the air will fill your lungs with dust particles. All around you the dust storm beats upon you. This reminds me of the verse in Helaman: “And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall” (Hel. 5:12). Satan beats upon us with his mighty winds but if our foundation is strong, we are safe from the storm.
Dust storms like the haboobs I grew up with are probably similar to the east wind talked about in the scriptures. When I read of the wind blasting ears of corn, I think of a dust storm. The driving winds blast the dust and sand into your eyes. The air is thick and gritty with the many particulates; it can be hard to breathe. If you are out in the storm, sand fills your nose and eyes and lungs. Sandstorm air is usually dry and drying. It can be very hot. People who have not lived in the desert may not have experienced hot winds. Sometimes it feels much hotter with the wind blowing than without it blowing. These hot winds can dry and destroy.