Hosea 4:1

The Lord’s Covenant Lawsuit against the Nation Israel

4:1 Hear the word of the Lord, you Israelites!

For the Lord has a covenant lawsuit against the people of Israel.

For there is neither faithfulness nor loyalty in the land,

nor do they acknowledge God.

Hosea 12:3

Israel Must Return to the God of Jacob

12:3 In the womb he attacked his brother;

in his manly vigor he struggled with God.


tn Heb “sons of Israel” (so NASB); KJV “children of Israel”; NAB, NRSV “people of Israel.”

tn The noun רִיב (riv, “dispute, lawsuit”) is used in two contexts: (1) nonlegal contexts: (a) “dispute” between individuals (e.g., Gen 13:7; Isa 58:1; Jer 15:10) or (b) “brawl; quarrel” between people (e.g., Exod 17:7; Deut 25:1); and (2) legal contexts: (a) “lawsuit; legal process” (e.g., Exod 23:3-6; Deut 19:17; 21:5; Ezek 44:24; Ps 35:23), (b) “lawsuit; legal case” (e.g., Deut 1:12; 17:8; Prov 18:17; 25:9), and (c) God’s “lawsuit” on behalf of a person or against his own people (Hos 4:1; 12:3; Mic 6:2; HALOT 1225-26 s.v. רִיב). The term in Hosea refers to a covenant lawsuit in which Yahweh the suzerain lodges a legal case against his disobedient vassal, accusing Israel and Judah of breach of covenant which will elicit the covenant curses.

tn Heb “with the inhabitants of the land” (so KJV); NAB, NASB, NRSV “against the inhabitants of the land.”

tn Heb “there is no truthfulness nor loyalty nor knowledge of God in the land.” Here “knowledge of God” refers to recognition of his authority and obedience to his will.

tn The verb שָׂרָה (sarah) means “to strive, contend” (HALOT 1354 s.v. שׂרה) or “persevere, persist” (BDB 975 s.v. שָׂרָה; see Gen 32:29). Almost all English versions render the verb here in terms of the former: NAB, NASB “contended”; NRSV “strove”; TEV, CEV “fought against.”