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Hosea 1:2

Context
Symbols of Sin and Judgment: The Prostitute and Her Children

1:2 When the Lord first spoke 1  through 2  Hosea, he 3  said to him, 4  “Go marry 5  a prostitute 6  who will bear illegitimate children conceived through prostitution, 7  because the nation 8  continually commits spiritual prostitution 9  by turning away from 10  the Lord.”

Hosea 2:1-5

Context
2:1 Then you will call 11  your 12  brother, “My People” (Ammi)! You will call your sister, “Pity” (Ruhamah)!

Idolatrous Israel Will Be Punished Like a Prostitute

2:2 Plead earnestly 13  with your 14  mother

(for 15  she is not my wife, and I am not her husband),

so that 16  she might put an end to her adulterous lifestyle, 17 

and turn away from her sexually immoral behavior. 18 

2:3 Otherwise, I will strip her naked,

and expose her like she was when she was born.

I will turn her land into a wilderness

and make her country a parched land,

so that I might kill 19  her with thirst.

2:4 I will have no pity on her children, 20 

because they are children conceived in adultery. 21 

2:5 For their mother has committed adultery;

she who conceived them has acted shamefully.

For she said, “I will seek out 22  my lovers; 23 

they are the ones who give me my bread and my water,

my wool, my flax, my olive oil, and my wine. 24 

1 tn The construct noun תְּחִלַּת (tékhillat, “beginning of”) displays a wider use of the construct state here, preceding a perfect verb דִּבֶּר (dibber, “he spoke”; Piel perfect 3rd person masculine singular) rather than a genitive noun. This is an unusual temporal construction (GKC 422 §130.d). It may be rendered, “When he (= the Lord) began to speak” (cf. ASV, NASB, NIV, NRSV, TEV, and most other modern English versions, all of which are similar). This time-determinative was not correctly understood by the LXX or by the KJV: “The beginning of the word of the Lord.”

2 tn The preposition בְּ (bet) on בְּהוֹשֵׁעַ (bÿhoshea’) is an instrumental use of the preposition (BDB 89 s.v. בְּ III.2.b): “by, with, through Hosea” rather than a directional “to Hosea.” This focuses on the entire prophetic revelation through Hosea to Israel.

3 tn Heb “the Lord.” This is redundant in English, so the pronoun has been used in the translation (cf. TEV, NLT).

4 tn Heb “to Hosea.” The proper name is replaced by the pronoun here to avoid redundancy in English (cf. NIV, NCV, NLT).

5 tn Heb “Go, take for yourself” (so NRSV; NASB, NIV “to yourself”). In conjunction with the following phrase this means “marry.”

6 tn Heb “a wife of harlotries.” The noun זְנוּנִים (zÿnunim) means “prostitute; harlot” (HALOT 275-76 s.v. זְנוּנִים). The term does not refer to mere adultery (cf. NIV; also NCV, TEV, CEV “unfaithful”) which is expressed by the root נַאַף (naaf, “adultery”; HALOT 658 s.v. נאף). The plural noun זְנוּנִים (zénunim, literally, “harlotries”) is an example of the plural of character or plural of repeated behavior. The phrase “wife of harlotries” (אֵשֶׁת זְנוּנִים, ’eshet zénunim) probably refers to a prostitute, possibly a temple prostitute serving at a Baal temple.

7 tn Heb “and children of harlotries.” However, TEV takes the phrase to mean the children will behave like their mother (“your children will be just like her”).

8 tn Heb “the land.” The term “the land” is frequently used as a synecdoche of container (the land of Israel) for the contained (the people of Israel).

9 tn Heb “prostitution.” The adjective “spiritual” is supplied in the translation to clarify that apostasy is meant here. The construction זָנֹה תִזְנֶה (zanoh tizneh, infinitive absolute + imperfect of the same root) repeats the root זָנַה (zanah, “harlotry”) for rhetorical emphasis. Israel was guilty of gross spiritual prostitution by apostatizing from Yahweh. The verb זָנַה is used in a concrete sense to refer to a spouse being unfaithful in a marriage relationship (HALOT 275 s.v. זנה 1), and figuratively meaning “to be unfaithful” in a relationship with God by prostituting oneself with other gods and worshiping idols (Exod 34:15; Lev 17:7; 20:5, 6; Deut 31:16; Judg 8:27, 33; 21:17; 1 Chr 5:25; Ezek 6:9; 20:30; 23:30; Hos 4:15; Ps 106:39; see HALOT 275 s.v. 2).

10 tn Heb “from after.”

11 tn Heb “Say to….” The imperative אִמְרוּ (’imru, Qal imperative masculine plural) functions rhetorically, as an example of erotesis of one verbal form (imperative) for another (indicative). The imperative is used as a rhetorical device to emphasize the certainty of a future action.

12 sn The suffixes on the nouns אֲחֵיכֶם (’akhekhem, “your brother”) and אֲחוֹתֵיכֶם (’akhotekhem, “your sister”) are both plural forms. The brother/sister imagery is being applied to Israel and Judah collectively.

13 tn Heb “Plead with your mother, plead!” The imperative רִיבוּ (rivu, “plead!”) is repeated twice in this line for emphasis. This rhetorical expression is handled in a woodenly literal sense by most English translations: NASB “Contend…contend”; NAB “Protest…protest!”; NIV “Rebuke…rebuke”; NRSV “Plead…plead”; CEV “Accuse! Accuse your mother!”

14 sn The suffix on the noun אִמְּכֶם (’immékhem, “your mother”) is a plural form (2nd person masculine). The children of Gomer represent the “children” (i.e., people) of Israel; Gomer represents the nation as a whole.

15 tn The particle כִּי (ki) introduces a parenthetical explanatory clause (however, cf. NCV “because”).

sn The reason that Hosea (representing the Lord) calls upon his children (representing the children of Israel) to plead with Gomer (representing the nation as a whole), rather than pleading directly with her himself, is because Hosea (the Lord) has turned his back on his unfaithful wife (Israel). He no longer has a relationship with her (“for she is not my wife, and I am not her husband”) because she abandoned him for her lovers.

16 tn The dependent volitive sequence of imperative followed by vav + jussive (רִיבוּ, rivu followed by וְתָסֵר, vétaser) creates a purpose clause: “so that she might turn away from” (= “put an end to”); cf. NRSV “that she put away”; KJV “let her therefore put away.” Many English translations begin a new sentence here, presumably to improve the English style (so NAB, NIV, TEV, NLT), but this obscures the connection with the preceding clause.

17 tn Heb “put away her adulteries from her face.” The plural noun זְנוּנֶיהָ (zénuneha, “adulteries”) is an example of the plural of repeated (or habitual) action: she has had multiple adulterous affairs.

18 tn Heb “[put away] her immoral behavior from between her breasts.” Cf. KJV “her adulteries”; NIV “the unfaithfulness.”

19 tn Heb “and kill her with thirst.” The vav prefixed to the verb (וַהֲמִתִּיהָ, vahamittiha) introduces a purpose/result clause: “in order to make her die of thirst” (purpose) or “and thus make her die of thirst” (result).

20 tn Heb “her sons.” English versions have long translated this as “children,” however; cf. KJV, ASV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV, NLT.

sn The word order is rhetorical: the accusative וְאֶת־בָּנֶיהָ (et-baneha, “her sons”) is moved forward for emphasis.

21 tn Heb “sons of adulteries”; KJV “children of whoredoms.”

sn The word order is rhetorical: the construct clause בְנֵי זְנוּנִים (vÿne zÿnunim, “sons of adulteries”), which functions as the predicate nominative, is moved forward, before the independent personal pronoun הֵמָּה (hemma, “they”) which functions as the subject, to focus on the immoral character of her children.

22 tn Heb “I will go after” (so KJV, NAB, NIV, NRSV).

23 sn This statement alludes to the practice of sexual rites in the Canaanite fertility cult which attempted to secure agricultural fertility from the Canaanite gods (note the following reference to wool, flax, olive oil, and wine).

24 tn Heb “my drinks.” Many English versions use the singular “drink” here, but cf. NCV, TEV, CEV “wine.”



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