he was exalted 4 in Israel,
but he became guilty by worshiping Baal and died.
a scorching east wind will come,
a wind from the Lord rising up from the desert.
As a result, his spring will dry up; 6
his well will become dry.
That wind 7 will spoil all his delightful foods
in the containers in his storehouse.
1 sn In Hosea the name “Ephraim” does not refer to the tribe, but to the region of Mount Ephraim where the royal residence of Samaria was located. It functions as a synecdoche of location (Mount Ephraim) for its inhabitants (the king of Samaria; e.g., 5:13; 8:8, 10).
2 tn The rulers of Ephraim (i.e., Samaria) issued many political decisions in the 8th century
3 tn The noun רְתֵת (rÿtet, “terror, trembling”) appears only here in OT (BDB 958 s.v. רְתֵת; HALOT 1300-1301 s.v. רְתֵת). However, it is attested in 1QH 4:33 where it means “trembling” and is used as a synonym with רַעַד (ra’ad, “quaking”). It also appears in Mishnaic Hebrew, meaning “trembling” (G. Dalman, Aramäisch-neuhebräisches Handwörterbuch, 406, s.v. רעד). This is the meaning reflected in the Greek recensions of Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion, as well as Jerome’s Latin Vulgate.
4 tc The MT vocalizes the consonantal text as נָשָׂא (nasa’, “he exalted”; Qal perfect 3rd person masculine singular) which is syntactically awkward. The LXX and Syriac reflect a vocalization tradition of נִשָּׂא (nisa’, “he was exalted”; Niphal perfect 3rd person masculine singular). The BHS editors suggest that this revocalization should be adopted, and it has been followed by NAB, NIV, NRSV.
5 tc The MT reads בֵּן אַחִים יַפְרִיא (ben ’akhim yafri’, “he flourishes [as] a son of brothers”), which is awkward syntactically and enigmatic contextually. The Greek, Syriac, and Latin versions reflect a Vorlage of בֵּין אַחִים יַפְרִיד (ben ’akhim yafrid, “he causes division between brothers”). The BHS editors suggest the MT confused the common term אָח (’akh, “brother”) for the rarer term אָחוּ (’akhu, “marsh plant, reed plant” [Job 8:11] and “reed bed” [Gen 41:2, 18; HALOT 31 s.v. אָחוּ]). This is an Egyptian loanword which is also attested in Ugaritic and Old Aramaic. The original text probably read either כְּאָחוּ מַפְרִיא (kÿ’akhu mafri’, “he flourishes like a reed plant”; comparative כְּ, kaf, + noun אָחוּ, “reed” followed by Hiphil participle masculine singular from פָּרַה, parah, “to flourish”) or בֵּין אָחוּ מַפְרִיא (ben ’akhu mafri’, “he flourishes among the reeds”; preposition בֵּין, ben, “between” followed by masculine singular noun אָחוּ “reed” followed by Hiphil participle masculine singular from פָּרַה). The confusion over אָחוּ (“reed plant”) probably led to secondary scribal errors: (1) faulty word-division of אָחוּ מַפְרִיא to אָחוּם יַפְרִיא, and (2) secondary orthographic confusion of י (yod) and ו (vav) between אָחוּם and resultant אָחִים. For discussion, see D. Barthélemy, ed., Preliminary and Interim Report on the Hebrew Old Testament Text Project, 5:268-69. Several English versions retain the MT: “even though he thrives among his brothers” (NIV), “Though he be fruitful among his brethren” (KJV), “No matter how much you prosper more than the other tribes” (CEV), “Ephraim was the most fruitful of all his brothers (NLT). Others adopt one of the two emendations: (1) “though he flourishes among the reeds” (NEB, NASB, NJPS), and (2) “even though he flourishes like weeds” (TEV), “though he may flourish as the reed plant” (RSV).
tn Or “among the reed plants” (cf. NEB, NASB, NJPS).
6 tc The MT וְיֵבוֹשׁ (vÿyevosh, “will be ashamed”; vav + Qal imperfect 3rd person masculine singular from בּוֹשׁ, bosh, “to be ashamed”) does not fit the context. The LXX, Syriac, and Vulgate reflect a Vorlage of וְיוֹבִישׁ (vÿyovish, “will dry up”; vav + Hiphil imperfect 3rd person masculine singular from יָבַשׁ, yavash, “to be dry”; HALOT 384 s.v. יבשׁ 1). This fits well with the parallel וְיֶחֱרַב (vÿyekherav, “will become dry”; vav + Qal imperfect 3rd person masculine singular from חָרַב, kharav, “to be dry”). See Isa 42:15; 44:27; Jer 51:36. The variant read by the ancient versions is followed by almost all modern English versions (as well as KJV, ASV).
7 tn The term “wind” is not repeated in the Hebrew text at this point but is implied; it is supplied in the translation for clarity.