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Hosea 7:3-5

Political Intrigue and Conspiracy in the Palace

7:3 The royal advisers delight the king with their evil schemes,

the princes make him glad with their lies.

7:4 They are all like bakers, 1 

they 2  are like a smoldering oven;

they are like a baker who does not stoke the fire

until the kneaded dough is ready for baking.

7:5 At the celebration 3  of their king, 4 

his princes become inflamed 5  with wine;

they conspire 6  with evildoers.

1 tc The MT reads מְנָאֲפִים (mÿnaafim, “adulterers”; Piel participle masculine plural from נָאַף, naaf, “to commit adultery”), which does not seem to fit the context. The original reading was probably אוֹפִים (’ofim, “bakers”; Qal participle masculine plural from אָפַה, ’afah, “to bake”), which harmonizes well with the baker/oven/fire motif in 7:4-7. The textual deviation was caused by: (1) confusion of נ (nun) and ו (vav), (2) metathesis of נ/ו (nun/vav) and א (alef), and (3) dittography of מ (mem) from the preceding word. Original כֻּלָּם אוֹפִים (kullamofim, “all of them are bakers”) was confused for כֻּלָּם מְנָאֲפִים (“all of them are adulterers”). In spite of this most English versions follow the reading of the MT here.

2 tc The MT preserves the enigmatic כְּמוֹ תַנּוּר בֹּעֵרָה מֵ (kÿmo tannur boerah me, “Like a burning oven, from…?”). The adjectival participle בֹּעֵרָה (“burning”) is feminine while the noun תַנּוּר (tannur, “oven”) that it modifies is masculine. The BHS editors solve this problem by simply redividing the words: כְּמוֹ תַנּוּר בֹּעֵר הֵם (cÿmo tannur boer hem, “they are like a burning oven”). This solution is followed by many English versions (e.g., NCV, NRSV, NLT).

3 tn Heb “the day of” (so KJV, NAB, NASB, NRSV); NIV “On the day of the festival of our king”; NLT “On royal holidays.”

4 tc The MT preserves the awkward 1st person common plural suffix reading מַלְכֵּנוּ (malakenu, “our king”). The BHS editors suggest reading the 3rd person masculine plural suffix מַלְכָּם (malkam, “their king”; so CEV), as reflected in the Aramaic Targum.

5 tc The MT vocalizes the consonants החלו as הֶחֱלוּ a Hiphil perfect 3rd person common plural from I חָלָה (“to become sick”). However, this is syntactically awkward. The BHS editors suggest revocalizing it as Hiphil infinitive construct + 3rd person masculine singular suffix from חָלַל (khalal, “to begin”) or Hiphil perfect 3rd person common plural from חָלַל. For a discussion of this textual problem, see D. Barthélemy, ed., Preliminary and Interim Report on the Hebrew Old Testament Text Project, 5:240.

tn Heb “when their king began [to reign].”

6 tn Heb “he joined hands”; NCV “make agreements.”

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