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Hosea 6:4-6

Context
Transitory Faithfulness and Imminent Judgment

6:4 What am I going to do with you, O Ephraim?

What am I going to do with you, O Judah?

For 1  your faithfulness is as fleeting as the morning mist; 2 

it disappears as quickly as dawn’s dew! 3 

6:5 Therefore, I will certainly cut 4  you into pieces at the hands of the prophets; 5 

I will certainly kill you 6  in fulfillment of my oracles of judgment; 7 

for 8  my judgment 9  will come forth like the light of the dawn. 10 

6:6 For I delight in faithfulness, not simply in sacrifice;

I delight 11  in acknowledging God, not simply in whole burnt offerings. 12 

1 tn The vav prefixed to וְחַסְדְּכֶם (vÿkhasdÿkhem, “your faithfulness”) functions in an explanatory sense (“For”).

2 tn Heb “your faithfulness [so NCV; NASB “your loyalty”; NIV, NRSV, NLT “your love”] is like a morning cloud” (וְחַסְדְּכֶם כַּעֲנַן־בֹּקֶר, vÿkhasdÿkhem kaanan-boqer).

sn The Hebrew poets and prophets frequently refer to the morning clouds as a simile for transitoriness (e.g., Job 7:9; Isa 44:22; Hos 6:4; 13:3; BDB 778 s.v. עָנָן 1.c). For discussion of this phenomena in Palestine, see Chaplin, PEQ (1883): 19.

3 tn Heb “the dew departing early” (BDB 1014 s.v. שָׁכַם); cf. NRSV “the dew that goes away early.” The Hiphil participle מַשְׁכִּים (mashkim) means “to depart early” (Gen 19:27; Josh 8:14; Judg 19:9). The idiom means “early morning” (1 Sam 17:16).

4 tn The two suffix conjugation verbs חָצַבְתִּי (khatsavti, Qal perfect 1st person common singular from חָצַב, khatsav, “to cut into pieces”) and הֲרַגְתִּים (haragtim, Qal perfect 1st person common singular + 3rd person masculine plural suffix from הָרַג, harag, “to kill”) are used in reference to future-time events. These are examples of the so-called “prophetic perfect” which emphasizes the certainty of the future event (e.g., Num 24:17; Josh 10:19; Isa 8:23; 9:1). For this function of the perfect, see IBHS 480-81 §30.1d. Most English versions, however, render these as past tenses.

5 tn Heb “by the prophets” (so KJV, NRSV). The prophets are pictured as the executioners of Israel and Judah because they announced their imminent destruction. The prophetic word was endowed with the power of fulfillment.

6 tn Heb “them.” The shift from the 2nd person masculine singular referents (“your” and “you”) in 6:4-5 to the 3rd person masculine plural referent (“them”) is an example of enallage, a poetic device used for emphasis.

7 tn Heb “with the words of my mouth” (so NIV); TEV “with my message of judgment and destruction.”

8 tn The disjunctive vav prefixed to the noun (וּמִשְׁפָּטֶיךָ, umishpatekha) has an explanatory function.

9 tc The MT reads וּמִשְׁפָּטֶיךָ אוֹר יֵצֵא (umishpatekhaor yetse’, “and your judgments [are] a light [which] goes forth”) which is enigmatic and syntactically awkward (cf. KJV, NASB). The LXX reads καὶ τὸ κρίμα μου ὡς φώς (kai to krima mou {ws fos, “my judgment goes forth like light”) which reflects וּמִשְׁפָּטִי כָאוֹר יֵצֵא (umishpati khaor yetse’, “my judgment goes forth like the light”) and posits only a simple misdivision of words. This is reflected in the Syriac Peshitta and Aramaic Targum and is followed by the present translation (so also NCV, NRSV). See D. Barthélemy, ed., Preliminary and Interim Report on the Hebrew Old Testament Text Project, 5:238.

10 tn The noun אוֹר (’or, “light”) is used here in reference to the morning light or dawn (e.g., Judg 16:2; 19:26; 1 Sam 14:36; 25:34, 36; 2 Sam 17:22; 23:4; 2 Kgs 7:9; Neh 8:3; Job 24:14; Prov 4:18; Mic 2:1; cf. CEV, NLT) rather than lightning (cf. NIV). This continues the early morning imagery used throughout 6:2-5.

sn In 6:3 unrepentant Israel uttered an over-confident boast that the Lord would rescue the nation from calamity as certainly as the “light of the dawn” (שַׁחַר, shakhar) “comes forth” (יֵצֵא, yetse’) every morning. Playing upon the early morning imagery, the Lord responded in 6:4 that Israel’s prerequisite repentance was as fleeting as the early morning dew. Now in 6:5, the Lord announces that he will indeed appear as certainly as the morning; however, it will not be to rescue but to punish Israel: punishment will “come forth” (יֵצֵא) like the “light of the dawn” (אוֹר).

11 tn The phrase “I delight” does not appear in the Hebrew text a second time in this verse, but is implied from the parallelism in the preceding line.

12 sn Contrary to popular misunderstanding, Hosea does not reject animal sacrifice nor cultic ritual, and advocate instead obedience only. Rather, God does not delight in ritual sacrifice without the accompanying prerequisite moral obedience (1 Sam 15:22; Pss 40:6-8; 51:16-17; Prov 21:3; Isa 1:11-17; Jer 7:21-23; Hos 6:6; Mic 6:6-8). However, if prerequisite moral obedience is present, he delights in sacrificial worship as an outward expression (Ps 51:19). Presented by a repentant obedient worshiper, whole burnt offerings were “an aroma pleasing” to the Lord (Lev 1:9, 13).



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