Israel is Guilty of Fertility Cult Worship
1 Israel was a fertile vine
that yielded fruit.
As his fruit multiplied,
he multiplied altars to Baal.#tn The phrase “to Baal” does not appear in the Hebrew text here, but is implied; it is supplied in the translation for the sake of clarity. Cf. NCV “altars for idols”; NLT “altars of their foreign gods.”
As his land prospered,
they adorned the fertility pillars.
2 Their heart is slipping;
soon they will be punished for their guilt.
The Lord#tn Heb “he”; the referent (the Lord) has been specified in the translation for clarity. will break their altars;
he will completely destroy their fertility pillars.
The Lord Will Punish Israel by Removing Its Kings
3 Very soon they will say, “We have no king
since we did not fear the Lord.
But what can a king do for us anyway?”
4 They#tc The referent of the 3rd person common plural verb דִּבְּרוּ (dibbÿru, “they speak”) is the masculine singular noun וְהַמֶּלֶךְ (vÿhammelekh, “a king” in v. 3) which is used generically, representing all human kings of Israel to which the 3rd common plural verb refers. Although this is a bit syntactically awkward, it is not necessary to emend the MT to the 3rd masculine singular verb form דָּבַר (davar, “he speaks”) as the BHS editors suggest. The LXX, however, reads the singular form λαλῶν (lalwn, “uttering”). utter empty words,#tn Heb “they speak words.” The cognate accusative construction דִּבְּרוּ דְבָרִים (dibbÿru dÿvarim; literally, “they speak words”) is an idiom that means “they speak mere words” (so NASB; NRSV similar) or “they utter empty words” (so TEV), that is, they make empty promises (e.g., Isa 58:13; BDB 180-181 s.v. דָּבַר 2). The immediately following collocated phrase אָלוֹת שָׁוְא (’alot shavÿ’, “swearing an empty oath”) confirms this nuance. The LXX understood this idiom in the same way: λαλῶν ῥήματα προφάσειας ψευδεῖς (lalwn r{hmata profaseias yeudeis, “speaking false professions as his words”).
taking#tn The two infinitive absolutes אָלוֹת (’alot, Qal infinitive absolute from II אָלָה, ’alah, “to swear an oath”; BDB 46 s.v. II אָלָה) and כָּרֹת (karot, Qal infinitive absolute from כָּרַת, karat, “to make [a covenant]”; BDB 503 s.v. כָּרַת 4), which appear without conjunctions, continue the description of the action of the preceding finite verb דִּבְּרוּ (dibbÿru, Piel perfect 3rd person common plural from דָּבַר, davar, “to speak”). Although the infinitives continue the description of the action of the finite verb, they call special attention to the action of the infinitive rather than the action of the finite verb. See IBHS 595 §35.5.2b. false oaths and making empty#tn The word “empty” is not in the Hebrew text, but is implied. It is supplied in the translation for clarity. Cf. TEV “useless treaties.” agreements.
Therefore legal disputes sprout up
like poisonous weeds#tn The noun II רֹאשׁ (ro’sh) refers to a “poisonous plant” (Deut 29:17; Hos 10:4) or “bitter herb” (Ps 69:22; Lam 3:5; BDB 912 s.v. רֹאשׁ 1; HALOT 1167 s.v. רֹאשׁ 1). in the furrows of a plowed field.
The Calf Idol and Idolaters of Samaria Will Be Exiled
5 The inhabitants#tc The MT reads the singular construct noun שְׁכַן (shÿkhan, “the inhabitant [of Samaria]”), while the LXX and Syriac reflect the plural construct noun שְׁכַנֵי (shÿkhane, “the inhabitants [of Samaria]”). The singular noun may be a collective referring to the population of Samaria as a whole (BDB 1015 s.v. שָׁכֵן; e.g., Isa 33:24). Most English translations view this as a reference to the inhabitants of the city as a whole (KJV, RSV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV, NJPS, TEV, CEV, NLT). of Samaria will lament#tc The MT reads יָגוּרוּ (yaguru, Qal imperfect 3rd person common plural from III גוּר, gur, “to dread”; see BDB 159 s.v. III גוּר 1). This reading is followed by most English versions but is syntactically awkward because III גוּר (“to dread”) is used nowhere else with the preposition לְ (lamed, “they are in dread for…”?). BDB suggests reading יָנוּדוּ (yanudu, Qal imperfect 3rd person common plural from נוּד, nud, “to lament”; BDB 626 s.v. נוּד 2.a) which harmonizes better with the parallelism with אָבַל (’aval, “to mourn”) in the following line. The verb נוּד (“to lament”) is used with the preposition לְ in the idiom “to lament for” (e.g., Isa 51:19; Jer 15:5; 16:5; 48:17; Nah 3:7). This involves simple orthographic confusion between ג (gimel) and נ (nun), as well as ר (resh) and ד (dalet) which were often confused by the scribes. over the calf idol#tc The MT reads the plural לְעֶגְלוֹת (lÿ’eglot, “for the calves”), while some Greek versions (LXX, Theodotion) and the Syriac reflect the singular לְעֵגֶל (“for the calf [calf idol]”). The singular reading is preferred on the basis of internal evidence: the oracle denounces the calf idol worship of Samaria. The plural form probably arose due to the ambiguity of the term “calf” when a scribe did not realize that the term was being used as a metonymy for the worship of the Egyptian calf goddess. Most recent English versions adopt the singular form and relate it to the calf goddess cult (RSV, NASB, NIV, NCV, NJPS, TEV, CEV, NLT); however, older English versions follow the MT plural (KJV, ASV). of Beth Aven.#sn See the note on the place name Beth Aven in 4:15.
Its people will mourn over it;
its idolatrous priests will wail#tc The MT appears to read יָגִילוּ (yagilu, “they will rejoice”; Qal imperfect 3rd person masculine plural from גִּיל, gil, “to rejoice”), but this is likely an example of semantic polarization. See F. I. Andersen and D. N. Freedman, Hosea (AB), 556-67. The BHS editors propose the reading יְיֵלִילוּ (yÿyelilu, “they will lament”; Hiphil imperfect 3rd person masculine plural from יָלַל, yalal, “to lament”), which also appears in Hos 7:14. If this reading is original, the textual variant may be attributed to: (1) orthographic confusion between ל (lamed) and ג (gimel), and (2) haplography or dittography of י (yod). English versions are split; some follow the MT (KJV, ASV, NIV, NJPS), others the proposed emendation (RSV, NASB, NCV, NRSV, TEV, NLT). over it,#tc This line division follows the MT rather than the line division suggested by the BHS editors.
because its splendor will be taken from them#tn Heb “from it” (so NAB, NRSV). into exile.
6 Even the calf idol#tn The antecedent of the 3rd person masculine singular direct object pronoun אוֹתוֹ (’oto, “it”) is probably the calf idol of Beth Aven mentioned in 10:5a. This has been specified in the translation for clarity (cf. TEV, NLT). will be carried to Assyria,
as tribute for the great king.#tc The MT reads מֶלֶךְ יָרֵב (melekh yarev, “a king who contends”?) which is syntactically awkward: מֶלֶךְ (“king”) followed by יָרֵב (“let him contend!”; Qal jussive 3rd person masculine singular from רִיב, riv, “to contend”). Note that KJV, ASV, NASB treat this as a proper name (“king Jareb”). The MT reading is probably the result of faulty word division. As the BHS editors suggest, the original reading most likely is מַלְכִּי רָב (malki rav, “the great king”). The suffixed י (yod) on מַלְכִּי is the remnant of the old genitive ending. This is the equivalent of the Assyrian royal epithet sarru rabbu (“the great king”). See also the tc note on the same phrase in 5:13.
Ephraim will be disgraced;
Israel will be put to shame because#tn The preposition מִן (min) functions in a causal sense specifying the logical cause: “because of” or “on account of” (e.g., Exod 2:23; Deut 7:7; Nah 3:4; BDB 580 s.v. מִן 2.f; HALOT 598 s.v. מִן 6). of its wooden idol.#tn The meaning of the root of מֵעֲצָתוֹ (me’atsato, preposition מִן, min, + feminine singular noun עֵצָה, ’etsah, + 3rd person masculine singular suffix) is debated. There are three options: (1) “its counsel” from I עֵצָה (“counsel; advice; plan”; BDB 420 s.v. עֵצָה; HALOT 867 s.v. I עֵצָה 3.a); (2) “its disobedience” from II עֵצָה (“disobedience,” but the existence of this root is debated; see HALOT 867 s.v. II עֵצָה); and (3) “its wooden idol” from III עֵצָה (“wood”; cf. Jer 6:6) referring to the wooden idol/effigy (the calf idol in 10:5), a stick of wood covered with gold (HALOT 867 s.v.). The last option is favored contextually: (a) the idol is called “a stick of wood” in Hos 4:12, and (b) the calf idol (probably the referent) of the cult is mentioned in 10:5. The English versions are divided: (1) “his idol” (RSV, NRSV), “its wooden idols” (NIV), “image” (NJPS margin), “that idol” (CEV), “this idol” (NLT); and (2) “his own counsel” (KJV, ASV), “its own counsel” (NASB), “his plans” (NJPS), “his schemes” (NAB), “the advice” (TEV).
7 Samaria and its king will be carried off#tn The term נִדְמֶה (nidmeh, Niphal participle feminine singular) is derived from II דָמָה (damah; so BDB 198 s.v. דָמָה; HALOT 225 s.v. III דמה): “be cut off, cease to exist, be destroyed.” The Niphal form נִדְמֶה (“will be destroyed”) is paralleled by the Niphal וְנִשְׁמְדוּ (vÿnishmÿdu, “will be destroyed”) in 10:8. Several English versions nuance the literal wording for the sake of the idiom: “will float away like a twig on the surface of the waters” (NIV), “Like a twig in a stream…will be swept away” (CEV), “will be carried off like a chip of wood on an ocean wave” (NLT).
like a twig#tn The noun II קֶצֶף (qetsef) is a hapax legomenon (a term that occurs only once). Historically, it has been understood in two different ways: (1) “foam” (Vulgate, Aquila, Symmachus) and (2) “snapped-off twig” (LXX, Theodotion, Syriac Peshitta). Both interpretations make sense in the light of the simile. The latter has more support because of the related verb קָצַץ (qatsats, “to cut off, chop off”) used in reference to wood (BDB 893 s.v. קָצַץ; HALOT 1125 s.v. קצץ) and the related feminine noun קְצָפָה (qÿtsafah, “stump; splinter” of fig-tree; BDB 893 s.v. קְצָפָה; HALOT 1125 s.v. קְצָפָה). English versions differ along these lines: (1) “foam” (KJV, NAB, NJPS) and (2) “chip” (NRSV, TEV, NCV, NLT), “stick” (NASB), “twig” (NIV, CEV). on the surface of the waters.
8 The high places of the “House#tn Alternately, “Aven” (KJV, NAB, NRSV, NLT) for the city name “Beth Aven.” The term “Beth” (house) does not appear in the Hebrew text here, but is implied (e.g., Hos 4:15). It is supplied in the translation for clarity. of Wickedness”#tc The MT reads בָּמוֹת אָוֶן (bamot ’aven, “high places of Aven”); however, several Hebrew mss read בָּמוֹת בֵּית אָוֶן (bamot bet ’aven, “high places of Beth Aven”). In Hos 4:15 the name בֵּית אָוֶן (“Beth Aven”; Heb “house of wickedness”) is a wordplay on “Bethel” (Heb “house of God”). It is possible that בָּמוֹת בֵּית אָוֶן (“high places of Beth Aven”) was original: בֵּית (bet, “house”) dropped out as an unintentional scribal error by haplography due to presence of the consonants בת in the preceding word במות (bamot, “high places”).tn Heb “high places of wickedness” (בָּמוֹת אָוֶן, bamot ’aven); so NIV. The noun אָוֶן (“wickedness”) is an attributive genitive: “wicked high places.” will be destroyed;
it is the place where Israel sins.
Thorns and thistles will grow up over its altars.
Then they will say to the mountains, “Cover us!”
and to the hills, “Fall on us!”
Failure to Learn from the Sin and Judgment of Gibeah
9 O Israel, you have sinned since the time#tn Heb “days” (so KJV, NAB, NIV, NRSV). of Gibeah,
and there you have remained.
Did not war overtake the evildoers in Gibeah?
10 When I please,#tn Heb “in my desire”; ASV, NASB “When it is my desire”; NCV “When I am ready.” I will discipline them;#tc The MT reads וְאֶסֳּרֵם (vÿ’essorem, vav conjunction + Niphal imperfect 1st person common singular + 3rd person masculine plural suffix from אָסַר, ’asar, “to bind”). The LXX reads παιδεῦσαι αὐτούς (paideusai autous, “to discipline them”) which reflects a Vorlage of אִיסַּרֶם (’issarem, Qal imperfect 1st person common singular + 3rd person masculine plural suffix from יָסַר, yasar, “to discipline”; BDB 416 s.v. יָסַר 3). The textual variant was caused by orthographic confusion between ו (vav) and י (yod) with metathesis of the two letters.
I will gather nations together to attack them,#tn Heb “Nations will be gathered together against them.”
to bind them in chains#tn The verb אָסַר (’asar, “to bind”) often refers to conquered peoples being bound as prisoners (BDB 63 s.v. אָסַר). Here it is used figuratively to describe the Israelites being taken into exile. Cf. NIV “to put them in bonds.” for their two sins.#tc The Kethib is לִשְׁתֵּי עֵינֹתָם (lishte ’enotam, “for their two eyes”), while the Qere reads לִשְׁתֵּי עוֹנֹתָם (lishte ’onotam, “for their two sins”). The phrase “two sins” could refer to (1) the sinful episode at Gibeah and the subsequent war between the tribe of Benjamin and the other tribes (Judges 19-21), or (2) the entire Gibeah incident (Judges 19-21) and Israel’s subsequent failure to repent up to the time of Hosea: “the time of Gibeah” (first sin) and “there you have remained” (second sin).
Fertility Imagery: Plowing, Sowing, and Reaping
11 Ephraim was a well-trained heifer who loved to thresh grain;
I myself put a fine yoke#tc The MT is unintelligible: עַל־טוּב (’al-tuv, “upon a fine [thing]”?). Cf. KJV “I passed over upon her fair neck”; NRSV “I spared her fair neck.” The BHS editors suggest the revocalization עֹל־טוּב (’ol-tuv, “a fine yoke”), followed by many modern English versions (e.g., NAB, NASB, NIV, NCV, TEV, NLT). The noun עֹל (’ol, “yoke”) also appears in 11:4 in a metaphor which compares Israel to a young heifer as well.on her neck.
I will harness Ephraim.
Let Judah plow!#tn Or “Judah will plow” (so NASB); NIV, NRSV, CEV “Judah must plow.”
Let Jacob break up#tn Or “Jacob will break up.” the unplowed ground for himself!
12 Sow righteousness for yourselves,
reap unfailing love.
Break up the unplowed ground for yourselves,
for it is time to seek the Lord,
until he comes and showers deliverance#tn Or “righteousness” (so KJV, NASB, NIV, NRSV, NLT); NAB “justice.” on you.
13 But you have plowed wickedness;
you have reaped injustice;
you have eaten the fruit of deception.
Because you have depended on your chariots;#tc The MT (followed by KJV, NASB) reads the enigmatic בְּדַרְכְּךָ (bÿdarkÿkha, “in your own way”) which does not seem to fit the context or the parallelism with בְּרֹב גִּבּוֹרֶיךָ (bÿrov gibborekha, “in your multitude of warriors”). The BHS editors suggest the original reading was בְרִכְבְּךָ (vÿrikhbÿkha, “in your chariots”), a reading followed by NAB, TEV. If this is correct, the textual corruption was caused by orthographic confusion between רֶכֶב (rekhev, “chariot”) and דֶּרֶכ (derekh, “way”).
you have relied#tn The phrase “you have relied” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is implied by the parallelism in the preceding line. on your many warriors.
Bethel Will Be Destroyed Like Beth Arbel
14 The roar of battle will rise against your people;
all your fortresses will be devastated,
just as Shalman devastated#tn Heb “as the devastation of Shalman.” The genitive noun שַׁלְמַן (shalman, “Shalman”) functions as a subjective genitive: “as Shalman devastated [Beth Arbel].” Beth Arbel on the day of battle,
when mothers were dashed to the ground with their children.
15 So will it happen to you, O Bethel,#map For location see Map4-G4; Map5-C1; Map6-E3; Map7-D1; Map8-G3.
because of your great wickedness!
When that day dawns,#tn Heb “when the dawn is cut off” or “when the day ceases.” Cf. NLT “When the day of judgment dawns.”
the king of Israel will be destroyed.#tn The root דָמָה (damah, “to be cut off, cease to exist, be destroyed”; BDB 198 s.v. דָמָה; HALOT 225 s.v. דמה) is repeated in the Hebrew text. The form נִדְמֹה (nidmoh, Niphal infinitive absolute) appears in the first colon, and the form נִדְמָה (nidmah, Niphal perfect 3rd person masculine singular) appears in the second colon. This striking repetition creates a dramatic wordplay which, for stylistic reasons, cannot be reproduced in English translations: “The moment the dawn ceases to exist (i.e., at the break of dawn), the king of Israel will cease to exist.”
Loading reference in secondary version...
1996 - 2007 by Biblical Studies Press, LLC