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Hosea 4:4-10

The Lord’s Dispute against the Sinful Priesthood

4:4 Do not let anyone accuse or contend against anyone else: 1 

for my case is against you priests! 2 

4:5 You stumble day and night,

and the false prophets stumble with you;

You have destroyed your own people! 3 

4:6 You have destroyed 4  my people

by failing to acknowledge me!

Because you refuse to acknowledge me, 5 

I will reject you as my priests.

Because you reject 6  the law of your God,

I will reject 7  your descendants.

4:7 The more the priests increased in numbers,

the more they rebelled against me.

They have turned 8  their glorious calling

into a shameful disgrace!

4:8 They feed on the sin offerings of my people;

their appetites long for their iniquity!

4:9 I will deal with the people and priests together: 9 

I will punish them both for their ways,

and I will repay them for their deeds.

4:10 They will eat, but not be satisfied;

they will engage in prostitution, but not increase in numbers;

because they have abandoned the Lord

by pursuing other gods. 10 

1 tn Or “Let no one contend or accuse.”

2 tc The MT reads וְעַמְּךָ כִּמְרִיבֵי כֹהֵן (vÿammÿkha kimrive khohen): “And your people [are] like those who contend against the priest.” This is reflected in the LXX and the versions; however, it is syntactically awkward and makes little sense in context. Several textual critics suggest emending the text to read וְעִמְּךָ רִיבִי כֹהֵן (vÿimmÿkha rivi khohen): “My contention is with/against you, O priest!” This involves (1) the revocalization of עַמְּךָ (“your people”) to עִמְּךָ (“with/against you”) and (2) positing dittography (a letter written twice instead of once) of כְּ (kaf) between original וְעַמְּךָ רִיבִי to create וְעַמְּךָ כִּרִיבִי (MT). The BHS editors suggest that the MT is corrupt and should be emended. However, the editors of the Hebrew Old Testament Text Project retain the MT reading with a “B” rating. Likewise, the English translations are split: (1) KJV “for thy people are as they that strive with the priest”; NASB “for your people are like those who contend with the priest”; NIV “for your people are like those who bring charges against a priest”; (2) RSV “for with you is my contention, O priest”; NJPS “for this your people has a grievance against [you], O priest!”; TEV “my complaint is against you priests”; CEV “My case is against you, the priests!”

tn The singular noun כֹּהֵן (cohen, “priest”) may be understood as a singular of number (so KJV, NASB, NRSV), referring to a singular individual (perhaps the high priest); however, it is more likely that it functions as a collective singular, referring to the priesthood as a whole (e.g., 4:7-10, so NAB, NCV, TEV, NLT, CEV). Collective singular forms alternate with plural forms throughout the oracle against the priests in 4:4-10.

3 tc The MT reads וְדָמִיתִי אִמֶּךָ (vÿdamitiimmekha, “and I will destroy your mother”), and is followed by most English versions; however, the text should probably be emended to וְדָמִית עַמֶּךָ (vÿdamitammekha, “and you have destroyed your own people”). The 2nd person masculine singular form וְדָמִית (vÿdamit, “and you have destroyed”) is preserved in several medieval Hebrew mss and reflected in Jerome’s Vulgate. For discussion in favor of the MT reading, see D. Barthélemy, ed., Preliminary and Interim Report on the Hebrew Old Testament Text Project, 5:232.

tn Or “and I will destroy your mother” (so NASB, NRSV).

4 tn Heb “they have destroyed” or “my people are destroyed” (so KJV, NIV, NRSV).

5 tn Heb “Because you reject knowledge”; NLT “because they don’t know me.”

6 tn Heb “have forgotten”; NAB, NIV “have ignored.”

7 tn Heb “forget” (so KJV, NRSV); NLT “forget to bless.”

8 tc The MT reads אָמִיר (’amir, “I will change, exchange”; Hiphil imperfect 1st person common singular from מוּר, mur, “to change, exchange”). However, an alternate scribal tradition (tiqquneh sopherim, that is, an intentional scribal change when the Masoretes believed that the received consonantal reading was corrupt) preserves the reading הֵמִירוּ (hemiru, “they have exchanged”; Hiphil perfect 3rd person common plural from מוּר). This alternate scribal tradition is also found in the Targum and reflected in the Syriac Peshitta. Several translations follow the MT: KJV, RSV, NASB “I will change their glory into shame” and TEV “I will turn your honor into disgrace”; however, others adopt the alternate tradition: NRSV “they changed their glory into shame” and NIV “they exchanged their Glory for something disgraceful.” For discussion in favor of the MT reading, see D. Barthélemy, ed., Preliminary and Interim Report on the Hebrew Old Testament Text Project, 5:232.

9 tn Heb “And it shall be, like people, like priest” (so ASV); NAB “The priests shall fare no better than the people.”

10 tn Heb “by guarding harlotry.” The present translation assumes that the first word of v. 11 in the Hebrew text is to be taken with the infinitive at the end of v. 10 (so also NAB, NIV, NCV, NRSV).

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