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Hosea 11:8

Context
The Divine Dilemma: Judgment or Mercy?

11:8 How can I give you up, 1  O Ephraim?

How can I surrender you, O Israel?

How can I treat you like Admah?

How can I make you like Zeboiim?

I have had a change of heart! 2 

All my tender compassions are aroused! 3 

1 tn The imperfect verbs in 11:8 function as imperfects of capability. See IBHS 564 §34.1a.

2 tn The phrase נֶהְפַּךְ עָלַי לִבִּי (nehpakhalay libbi) is an idiom that can be taken in two ways: (1) emotional sense: to describe a tumult of emotions, not just a clash of ideas, that are afflicting a person (Lam 1:20; HALOT 253 s.v. הפך 1.c) and (2) volitional sense: to describe a decisive change of policy, that is, a reversal of sentiment from amity to hatred (Exod 14:5; Ps 105:25; BDB 245 s.v. הָפַךְ 1; HALOT 253 s.v. 3). The English versions alternate between these two: (1) emotional discomfort and tension over the prospect of destroying Israel: “mine heart is turned within me” (KJV), “my heart recoils within me” (RSV, NRSV), “My heart is turned over within Me” (NASB), “My heart is torn within me” (NLT); and (2) volitional reversal of previous decision to totally destroy Israel: “I have had a change of heart” (NJPS), “my heart is changed within me” (NIV), and “my heart will not let me do it!” (TEV). Both BDB 245 s.v. 1.b and HALOT 253 s.v. 3 suggest that the idiom describes a decisive change of heart (reversal of decision to totally destroy Israel once and for all) rather than emotional turbulence of God shifting back and forth between whether to destroy or spare Israel. This volitional nuance is supported by the modal function of the 1st person common singular imperfects in 11:8 (“I will not carry out my fierce anger…I will not destroy Ephraim…I will not come in wrath”) and by the prophetic announcement of future restoration in 11:10-11. Clearly, a dramatic reversal both in tone and in divine intention occurs between 11:5-11.

3 tn The Niphal of כָּמַר (kamar) means “to grow warm, tender” (BDB 485 s.v. כָּמַר), as its use in a simile with the oven demonstrates (Lam 5:10). It is used several times to describe the arousal of the most tender affection (Gen 43:30; 1 Kgs 3:26; Hos 11:8; BDB 485 s.v. 1; HALOT 482 s.v. כמר 1). Cf. NRSV “my compassion grows warm and tender.”



TIP #08: Use the Strong Number links to learn about the original Hebrew and Greek text. [ALL]
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