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Hosea 9

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Fertility Cult Festivals Have Intoxicated Israel

9:1 O Israel, do not rejoice jubilantly 1  like the nations,

for you are unfaithful 2  to your God.

You love to receive a prostitute's wages 3 

on all the floors where you thresh your grain.

9:2 Threshing floors and wine vats will not feed the people, 4 

and new wine only deceives them. 5 

Assyrian Exile Will Reverse the Egyptian Exodus

9:3 They will not remain in the Lord’s land.

Ephraim will return to Egypt;

they will eat ritually unclean food in Assyria.

9:4 They will not pour out drink offerings of wine to the Lord;

they will not please him with their sacrifices.

Their sacrifices will be like bread eaten while in mourning;

all those who eat them will make themselves ritually unclean.

For their bread will be only to satisfy their appetite;

it will not come into the temple of the Lord.

9:5 So what will you do on the festival day,

on the festival days of the Lord?

No Escape for the Israelites This Time!

9:6 Look! 6  Even if 7  they flee from the destruction,

Egypt will take hold 8  of them,

and Memphis will bury them.

The weeds will inherit the silver they treasure 9 

thorn bushes will occupy their homes. 10 

9:7 The time of judgment 11  is about to arrive! 12 

The time of retribution 13  is imminent! 14 

Let Israel know! 15 

Israel Rejects Hosea’s Prophetic Exhortations

The prophet is considered a fool 16 

the inspired man 17  is viewed as a madman 18 

because of the multitude of your sins

and your intense 19  animosity.

9:8 The prophet 20  is a watchman 21  over Ephraim 22  on behalf of God, 23 

yet traps 24  are laid for him along all of his paths; 25 

animosity rages against him in the land 26  of his God.

The Best of Times, the Worst of Times

9:9 They have sunk deep into corruption 27 

as in the days of Gibeah.

He will remember their wrongdoing.

He will repay them for their sins.

9:10 When I found Israel, it was like finding grapes in the wilderness.

I viewed your ancestors 28  like an early fig on a fig tree in its first season.

Then they came to Baal-Peor and they dedicated themselves to shame –

they became as detestable as what they loved.

The Fertility Worshipers Will Become Infertile

9:11 Ephraim will be like a bird;

what they value 29  will fly away.

They will not bear children –

they will not enjoy pregnancy –

they will not even conceive! 30 

9:12 Even if they raise their children,

I will take away every last one of them. 31 

Woe to them!

For I will turn away from them.

9:13 Just as lion cubs are born predators, 32 

so Ephraim will bear his sons for slaughter.

9:14 Give them, O Lord

what will you give them?

Give them wombs that miscarry,

and breasts that cannot nurse! 33 

9:15 Because of all their evil in Gilgal,

I hate them there.

On account of their evil deeds,

I will drive them out of my land. 34 

I will no longer love them;

all their rulers are rebels.

9:16 Ephraim will be struck down 35 

their root will be dried up;

they will not yield any fruit.

Even if they do bear children,

I will kill their precious offspring.

9:17 My God will reject them,

for they have not obeyed him;

so they will be fugitives among the nations.

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1 tn Heb “do not rejoice unto jubilation”; KJV “Rejoice not…for joy”; NASB “Do not rejoice…with exultation.”

2 tn Heb “you have committed adultery”; NRSV “you have played the whore.”

3 tn Heb “you love the wages of the prostitute” (NIV similar); NAB “loving a harlot’s hire.”

4 tn Heb “them”; the referent (the people) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

5 tn Heb “her” (so KJV, ASV). This is taken as a collective singular (so also most modern English versions).

6 tn The deictic particle הִנֵּה (hinneh, “Behold!”) is used frequently in prophetic announcements, introducing a solemn or important declaration, particularly in threats of judgment (BDB 244 s.v. הִנֵּה b.β). Many modern English versions leave this particle untranslated here.

7 tn The conjunction כִּי (ki) introduces a concessive clause: “Although, when, if, even if” (BDB 473 s.v. כִּי 2.c.β). It has a force approximating “even if” (so NIV, NCV, NRSV, CEV, NLT), but it represents a situation as more likely to occur than אִם (‘im, “if”). The concessive use of כִּי is normally followed by an imperfect, but occasionally a perfect is used, as is the case here (e.g., Mic 7:8; Nah 1:10; Pss 21:12; 119:83).

8 tn The verb קָבַץ (qavats, “to gather together”) should be nuanced “grab hold” in this context (HALOT 1063 s.v. קבץ). This pictures a personified Egypt taking the fugitives prisoner.

9 tn Heb “the treasured things of their silver”; NASB, NIV, TEV, NLT “treasures of silver.”

10 tn Heb “their tents” (so NIV, NRSV); CEV “your tents.”

11 tn Heb “the days of the visitation”; NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV “the days of punishment.”

12 tn Heb “has come” (בָּאוּ, bau). The two perfect tense (suffix-conjugation) verbs בָּאוּ (Qal perfect 3rd person common plural from בּוֹא, bo’, “to come”) repeated in this verse are both examples of the so-called “prophetic perfect”: the perfect, which connotes completed or factual action, is used in reference to future events to emphasize the certainty of the announced event taking place.

13 tn Heb “the days of the retribution”; NIV “of reckoning”; NRSV “of recompense.”

14 tn Heb “has come”; NIV “are at hand”; NLT “is almost here.”

15 tc The Aleppo Codex and Leningrad Codex (the MT ms employed for BHS) both place the atnach (colon-divider) after יֵדְעוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל (yedÿu yisrael, “Let Israel know!”), indicating that this line belongs with 9:7a (cf. NAB, NASB, NIV). However, the LXX reads κακωθήσεται (kakwqhsetai) which reflects an underlying Vorlage of יָרֵעוּ (yareu, Qal imperfect 3rd person common plural from יָרַע, yara’, “to cry”), as opposed to the MT יֵדְעוּ (yedÿu, Qal jussive 3rd common plural from יָדַע, yada’, “to know”). The Old Greek connects יֵדְעוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל (“Israel cries out”) with the following lines (cf. NRSV), which appear to be quotations of Israel mocking Hosea. Aquila (ἔγνω, egnw) and Symmachus (γνώσεται, gnwsetai) both reflect the proto-MT tradition. For a discussion of this textual and syntactical problem, see H. W. Wolff, Hosea (Hermeneia), 150.

16 tn Or “is distraught”; cf. CEV, NLT “are crazy.”

17 tn Heb “the man of the Spirit”; NAB, NRSV “spirit.”

18 tn Or “is driven to despair.” The term מְשֻׁגָּע (mÿshugga’, Pual participle masculine singular from שָׁגַע, shaga’, “to be mad”) may be understood in two senses: (1) It could be a predicate adjective which is a figure of speech: “to be maddened,” to be driven to despair (Deut 28:34); or (2) it could be a substantive: “a madman,” referring to prophets who attempted to enter into a prophetic state through whipping themselves into a frenzy (1 Sam 21:16; 2 Kgs 9:11; Jer 29:26; see BDB 993 s.v. שָׁגַע). The prophetic context of 9:7 favors the latter option (which is followed by most English versions). Apparently, the general populace viewed these mantics with suspicion and questioned the legitimacy of their claim to be true prophets (e.g., 2 Kgs 9:11; Jer 29:26).

19 tn Heb “great.”

20 tc The Leningrad Codex (the MT ms used for BHS) and Aleppo Codex both place the atnach (colon divider) after אלהי (“my God”) and connect נָבִיא (navi’, “prophet”) with the following colon. On the other hand, BHS suggests that נָבִיא (navi’, “prophet”) belongs with the first colon. For discussion of this syntactical problem, see F. I. Andersen and D. N. Freedman, Hosea (AB), 533-34.

21 tc The syntax of this line is difficult, and the text is questionable. The major options include: (1) Adopt the MT vocalization and BHS line division: צֹפֶה אֶפְרַיִם עִם־אֱלֹהָי נָבִיא (tsofehefrayimim-elohay navi’, “The prophet is a watchman over Ephraim with my God [= on behalf of God]”). There are two problems with this: (a) Although BHS places נָבִיא (“prophet”) with this colon, the Aleppo Codex and Leningrad Codex both connect נָבִיא with the next colon (as do KJV, ASV). (b) The phrase עִם־אֱלֹהָי (“with my God”) is difficult to explain. (2) Adopt the MT vocalization and the MT line division: עִם־אֱלֹהָי צֹפֶה אֶפְרַיִם (“Ephraim is a watchman with my God,” cf. NASB). The problem with this, of course, is that Ephraim hardly fits the description of a prophetic watchman. (3) Revocalize the MT and adopt BHS line division: צֹפֶה אֶפְרַיִם עַם אֱלֹהָי נָבִיא (“Ephraim – the people of my God! – lies in ambush for the prophet”) This involves: (a) revocalization of the preposition עִם (’im, “with”) to the noun עַם (’am, “people”), (b) taking עַם־אֱלֹהָי (“people of my God”) in apposition to אֶפְרַיִם (“Ephraim”), and (c) nuancing צֹפֶה as “to lie in wait (=set ambush)” (e.g., Ps 37:32). This is contextually attractive and harmonizes well with the following line: “traps are laid along all of his paths.” However, it has two problems: (a) there is no textual evidence supporting the revocalization of עם as “people” and (b) the unusual nuance “to lie in wait” for צֹפֶה occurs only in Ps 37:32, where it takes the preposition לְ (lamed, i.e., “to lie in wait for the righteous”; HALOT 1044 s.v. צפה 4). (4) Emend אֱלֹהָי (“my God”) to אֹהֶל (’ohel, “tent”), as suggested in the BHS textual apparatus: אֶפְרַיִם עַם־אֹהֶל נָבִיא צֹפֶה (“Ephraim spies on the prophet’s tent”). The verb צָפָה may mean “to spy” (BDB 859 s.v. צָפָה; HALOT 1044 s.v. צפה 3); however, the preposition עִם (’im) does not normally mean “upon” and צָפָה is not used with עִם elsewhere.

22 tn Or “Ephraim is a watchman with my God”; cf. ASV, NASB.

23 tn Heb “with my God” (so ASV, NASB).

24 tn Heb “bird trap of a bird catcher” or “snare of a fowler” (so KJV).

25 tc Or “The prophet is like a trap along all of his paths.” The Aleppo Codex and Leningrad Codex (ms used in BHS) both connect נָבִיא (navi’, “prophet”) with this colon. On the other hand, BHS places נָבִיא (“prophet”) at the end of the preceding colon.

26 tn Heb “house.” The term בַּיִת (bayit, “house”) is used as a figure of speech, referring to either (1) the temple or official sanctuaries (so TEV, CEV) or (2) the land of Israel (e.g., Hos 9:15).

27 tn Or more literally, “they are deeply corrupted.” The two verbs הֶעְמִיקוּ־שִׁחֵתוּ (hemiqu-shikhetu; literally, “they have made deep, they act corruptly”) are coordinated without a conjunction vav to form a verbal hendiadys: the second verb represents the main idea, while the first functions adverbially (GKC 386-87 §120.g). Here Gesenius suggests “they are deeply/radically corrupted.” Several translations mirror the syntax of this hendiadys: “They have deeply corrupted themselves” (KJV, ASV, NRSV), “They have been grievously corrupt” (NJPS), and “They are hopelessly evil” (TEV). Others reverse the syntax for the sake of a more graphic English idiom: “They have gone deep in depravity” (NASB) and “They have sunk deep into corruption” (NIV). Some translations fail to represent the hendiadys at all: “You are brutal and corrupt” (CEV). The translation “They are deeply corrupted” mirrors the Hebrew syntax, but “They have sunk deep into corruption” is a more graphic English idiom and is preferred here (cf. NAB “They have sunk to the depths of corruption”).

28 tn Heb “fathers”; a number of more recent English versions use the more general “ancestors” here.

29 tn Heb “their glory” (so NASB); TEV “Israel’s greateness.”

30 tn Heb “no childbearing, no pregnancy, no conception.” The preposition מִן (min) prefixed to the three parallel nouns functions in a privative sense, indicating deprivation (BDB 583 s.v. מִן 7).

31 tn Heb “I will bereave them from a man”; NRSV “I will bereave them until no one is left.”

32 tc The MT is corrupt in 9:13. The BHS editors suggest emending the text to follow the LXX reading. See D. Barthélemy, ed., Preliminary and Interim Report on the Hebrew Old Testament Text Project, 5:250-51.

33 tn Heb “breasts that shrivel up dry”; cf. KJV, NAB, NASB, NRSV “dry breasts.”

34 tn Heb “out of my house” (so NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV); TEV, NCV, NLT “my land.”

35 tn Or perhaps, following the plant metaphor, “will be blighted” (NIV similar).



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