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Hosea 2:1-13

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

Idolatrous Israel Will Be Punished Like a Prostitute

2:2 Plead earnestly 3  with your 4  mother

(for 5  she is not my wife, and I am not her husband),

so that 6  she might put an end to her adulterous lifestyle, 7 

and turn away from her sexually immoral behavior. 8 

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 9  her with thirst.

2:4 I will have no pity on her children, 10 

because they are children conceived in adultery. 11 

2:5 For their mother has committed adultery;

she who conceived them has acted shamefully.

For she said, “I will seek out 12  my lovers; 13 

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

my wool, my flax, my olive oil, and my wine. 14 

The Lords Discipline Will Bring Israel Back

2:6 Therefore, I will soon 15  fence her in 16  with thorns;

I will wall her in 17  so that 18  she cannot find her way. 19 

2:7 Then she will pursue her lovers, but she will not catch 20  them;

she will seek them, but she will not find them. 21 

Then she will say,

“I will go back 22  to my husband, 23 

because I was better off then than I am now.” 24 

Agricultural Fertility Withdrawn from Israel

2:8 Yet 25  until now 26  she has refused to acknowledge 27  that I 28  was the one

who gave her the grain, the new wine, and the olive oil;

and that it was I who 29  lavished on her the silver and gold –

which they 30  used in worshiping Baal! 31 

2:9 Therefore, I will take back 32  my grain during the harvest time 33 

and my new wine when it ripens; 34 

I will take away my wool and my flax

which I had provided 35  in order to clothe her. 36 

2:10 Soon 37  I will expose her lewd nakedness 38  in front of her lovers,

and no one will be able to rescue her from me! 39 

2:11 I will put an end to all her celebration:

her annual religious festivals,

monthly new moon celebrations,

and weekly Sabbath festivities –

all her appointed festivals.

2:12 I will destroy her vines and fig trees,

about which she said, “These are my wages for prostitution 40 

that my lovers gave to me!”

I will turn her cultivated vines and fig trees 41  into an uncultivated thicket,

so that wild animals 42  will devour them.

2:13 “I will punish her for the festival days

when she burned incense to the Baal idols; 43 

she adorned herself with earrings and jewelry,

and went after her lovers,

but 44  she forgot me!” 45  says the Lord.

1 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.

2 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.

3 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!”

4 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.

5 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.

6 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.

7 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.

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

9 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).

10 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.

11 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.

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

13 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).

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

15 tn The deictic particle הִנְנִי (hinni, “Behold!”) introduces a future-time reference participle that refers to imminent future action: “I am about to” (TEV “I am going to”).

16 tn Heb “I will hedge up her way”; NIV “block her path.”

17 tn Heb “I will wall in her wall.” The cognate accusative construction וְגָדַרְתִּי אֶת־גְּדֵרָהּ (vÿgadartiet-gÿderah, “I will wall in her wall”) is an emphatic literary device. The 3rd person feminine singular suffix on the noun functions as a dative of disadvantage: “as a wall against her” (A. B. Davidson, Hebrew Syntax, 3, remark 2). The expression means “I will build a wall to bar her way.” Cf. KJV “I will make a wall”; TEV “I will build a wall”; RSV, NASB, NRSV “I will build a wall against her”; NLT “I will fence her in.”

18 tn The disjunctive clause (object followed by negated verb) introduces a clause which can be understood as either purpose or result.

19 tn Heb “her paths” (so NAB, NRSV).

20 tn Heb “overtake” (so KJV, NAB, NASB, NRSV); NLT “be able to catch up with.”

21 tn In the Hebrew text the accusative direct object pronoun אֹתָם (’otam, “them”) is omitted/elided for balanced poetic parallelism. The LXX supplies αὐτους (autous, “them”); but it is not necessary to emend the MT because this is a poetic literary convention rather than a textual problem.

22 tn Heb “I will go and return” (so NRSV). The two verbs joined with vav form a verbal hendiadys. Normally, the first verb functions adverbially and the second retains its full verbal sense (GKC 386-87 §120.d, h). The Hebrew phrase אֵלְכָה וְאָשׁוּבָה (’elkhah vÿashuvah, “I will go and I will return”) connotes, “I will return again.” As cohortatives, both verbs emphasize the resolution of the speaker.

23 tn Heb “to my man, the first.” Many English translations (e.g., KJV, NAB, NRSV, TEV) take this as “my first husband,” although this implies that there was more than one husband involved. The text refers to multiple lovers, but these were not necessarily husbands.

24 tn Or “because it was better for me then than now” (cf. NCV).

25 tn Or “For” (so KJV, NASB); or “But” (so NCV).

26 tn The phrase “until now” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for the sake of clarity and smoothness.

27 tn Heb “she does not know” (so NASB, NCV); or “she does not acknowledge.”

28 tn The 1st person common singular independent personal pronoun אָנֹכִי (’anokhi, “I”) is emphatic, since the subject of this verbal clause is already explicit in the verb נָתַתִּי (natatti, Qal perfect 1st person common singular: “I gave”).

29 tn The phrase “that it was I who” does not appear in the Hebrew text here, but is supplied in the translation for the sake of clarity.

30 sn The third person plural here is an obvious reference to the Israelites who had been unfaithful to the Lord in spite of all that he had done for them. To maintain the imagery of Israel as the prostitute, a third person feminine singular would be called for; in the interest of literary consistency this has been supplied in some English translations (e.g., NCV, TEV, CEV, NLT).

31 tn Heb “for Baal” (so NAB, NIV, NRSV); cf. TEV “in the worship of Baal.”

32 tn Heb “I will return and I will take.” The two verbs joined with vav conjunction form a verbal hendiadys in which the first verb functions adverbially and the second retains its full verbal sense (GKC 386-87 §120.d, h): אָשׁוּב וְלָקַחְתִּי (’ashuv vÿlaqakhti) means “I will take back.”

33 tn Heb “in its time” (so NAB, NRSV).

34 tn Heb “in its season” (so NAB, NASB, NRSV).

35 tn The words “which I had provided” are not in the Hebrew text, but are supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons; cf. NIV “intended to cover.”

36 tn Heb “to cover her nakedness” (so KJV and many other English versions); TEV “for clothing.”

sn This announcement of judgment is extremely ironic and forcefully communicates poetic justice: The punishment will fit the crime. The Israelites were literally uncovering their nakedness in temple prostitution in the Baal fertility cult rituals. Yahweh will, in effect, give them what they wanted (nakedness) but not in the way they wanted it: Yahweh will withhold the agricultural fertility they sought from Baal which would lead to nakedness caused by impoverishment.

37 tn The particle עַתָּה (’attah) often refers to the imminent or the impending future: “very soon” (BDB 774 s.v. עַתָּה 1.b). In Hosea it normally introduces imminent judgment (Hos 2:12; 4:16; 5:7; 8:8, 13; 10:2).

38 tn Heb “her lewdness” (so KJV, NIV); NAB, NRSV “her shame.”

39 tn Heb “out of my hand” (so NAB, NASB, NRSV); TEV “save her from my power.”

40 tn Heb “my wages.” The words “for prostitution” are not in the Hebrew text but are supplied for clarity; cf. CEV “gave…as payment for sex.”

41 tn Heb “I will turn them”; the referents (vines and fig trees) have been specified in the translation for clarity.

42 tn Heb “the beasts of the field” (so KJV, NASB); the same expression also occurs in v. 18).

43 tn Heb “the days of the Baals, to whom she burned incense.” The word “festival” is supplied to clarify the referent of “days,” and the word “idols” is supplied in light of the plural “Baals” (cf. NLT “her images of Baal”).

44 tn The vav prefixed to a nonverb (וְאֹתִי, oti) introduces a disjunctive contrastive clause, which is rhetorically powerful.

45 tn The accusative direct object pronoun וְאֹתִי (oti, “me”) is emphatic in the word order of this clause (cf. NIV “but me she forgot”), emphasizing the heinous inappropriateness of Israel’s departure from the Lord.



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