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Hosea 9:8

Context

9:8 The prophet 1  is a watchman 2  over Ephraim 3  on behalf of God, 4 

yet traps 5  are laid for him along all of his paths; 6 

animosity rages against him in the land 7  of his God.

1 tc The Leningrad Codex (the MT ms used for BHS) and Aleppo Codex both place the atnach (colon divider) after אלהי (“my God”) and connect נָבִיא (navi’, “prophet”) with the following colon. On the other hand, BHS suggests that נָבִיא (navi’, “prophet”) belongs with the first colon. For discussion of this syntactical problem, see F. I. Andersen and D. N. Freedman, Hosea (AB), 533-34.

2 tc The syntax of this line is difficult, and the text is questionable. The major options include: (1) Adopt the MT vocalization and BHS line division: צֹפֶה אֶפְרַיִם עִם־אֱלֹהָי נָבִיא (tsofehefrayimim-elohay navi’, “The prophet is a watchman over Ephraim with my God [= on behalf of God]”). There are two problems with this: (a) Although BHS places נָבִיא (“prophet”) with this colon, the Aleppo Codex and Leningrad Codex both connect נָבִיא with the next colon (as do KJV, ASV). (b) The phrase עִם־אֱלֹהָי (“with my God”) is difficult to explain. (2) Adopt the MT vocalization and the MT line division: עִם־אֱלֹהָי צֹפֶה אֶפְרַיִם (“Ephraim is a watchman with my God,” cf. NASB). The problem with this, of course, is that Ephraim hardly fits the description of a prophetic watchman. (3) Revocalize the MT and adopt BHS line division: צֹפֶה אֶפְרַיִם עַם אֱלֹהָי נָבִיא (“Ephraim – the people of my God! – lies in ambush for the prophet”) This involves: (a) revocalization of the preposition עִם (’im, “with”) to the noun עַם (’am, “people”), (b) taking עַם־אֱלֹהָי (“people of my God”) in apposition to אֶפְרַיִם (“Ephraim”), and (c) nuancing צֹפֶה as “to lie in wait (=set ambush)” (e.g., Ps 37:32). This is contextually attractive and harmonizes well with the following line: “traps are laid along all of his paths.” However, it has two problems: (a) there is no textual evidence supporting the revocalization of עם as “people” and (b) the unusual nuance “to lie in wait” for צֹפֶה occurs only in Ps 37:32, where it takes the preposition לְ (lamed, i.e., “to lie in wait for the righteous”; HALOT 1044 s.v. צפה 4). (4) Emend אֱלֹהָי (“my God”) to אֹהֶל (’ohel, “tent”), as suggested in the BHS textual apparatus: אֶפְרַיִם עַם־אֹהֶל נָבִיא צֹפֶה (“Ephraim spies on the prophet’s tent”). The verb צָפָה may mean “to spy” (BDB 859 s.v. צָפָה; HALOT 1044 s.v. צפה 3); however, the preposition עִם (’im) does not normally mean “upon” and צָפָה is not used with עִם elsewhere.

3 tn Or “Ephraim is a watchman with my God”; cf. ASV, NASB.

4 tn Heb “with my God” (so ASV, NASB).

5 tn Heb “bird trap of a bird catcher” or “snare of a fowler” (so KJV).

6 tc Or “The prophet is like a trap along all of his paths.” The Aleppo Codex and Leningrad Codex (ms used in BHS) both connect נָבִיא (navi’, “prophet”) with this colon. On the other hand, BHS places נָבִיא (“prophet”) at the end of the preceding colon.

7 tn Heb “house.” The term בַּיִת (bayit, “house”) is used as a figure of speech, referring to either (1) the temple or official sanctuaries (so TEV, CEV) or (2) the land of Israel (e.g., Hos 9:15).



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