The inhabitants 1 of Samaria will lament 2 over the calf idol 3 of Beth Aven. 4 Its people will mourn over it; its idolatrous priests will wail 5 over it, 6 because its splendor will be taken from them 7 into exile.
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1 tc The MT reads the singular construct noun שְׁכַן (shÿkhan, “the inhabitant [of Samaria]”), while the LXX and Syriac reflect the plural construct noun שְׁכַנֵי (shÿkhane, “the inhabitants [of Samaria]”). The singular noun may be a collective referring to the population of Samaria as a whole (BDB 1015 s.v. שָׁכֵן; e.g., Isa 33:24). Most English translations view this as a reference to the inhabitants of the city as a whole (KJV, RSV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV, NJPS, TEV, CEV, NLT).
2 tc The MT reads יָגוּרוּ (yaguru, Qal imperfect 3rd person common plural from III גוּר, gur, “to dread”; see BDB 159 s.v. III גוּר 1). This reading is followed by most English versions but is syntactically awkward because III גוּר (“to dread”) is used nowhere else with the preposition לְ (lamed, “they are in dread for…”?). BDB suggests reading יָנוּדוּ (yanudu, Qal imperfect 3rd person common plural from נוּד, nud, “to lament”; BDB 626 s.v. נוּד 2.a) which harmonizes better with the parallelism with אָבַל (’aval, “to mourn”) in the following line. The verb נוּד (“to lament”) is used with the preposition לְ in the idiom “to lament for” (e.g., Isa 51:19; Jer 15:5; 16:5; 48:17; Nah 3:7). This involves simple orthographic confusion between ג (gimel) and נ (nun), as well as ר (resh) and ד (dalet) which were often confused by the scribes.
3 tc The MT reads the plural לְעֶגְלוֹת (lÿ’eglot, “for the calves”), while some Greek versions (LXX, Theodotion) and the Syriac reflect the singular לְעֵגֶל (“for the calf [calf idol]”). The singular reading is preferred on the basis of internal evidence: the oracle denounces the calf idol worship of Samaria. The plural form probably arose due to the ambiguity of the term “calf” when a scribe did not realize that the term was being used as a metonymy for the worship of the Egyptian calf goddess. Most recent English versions adopt the singular form and relate it to the calf goddess cult (RSV, NASB, NIV, NCV, NJPS, TEV, CEV, NLT); however, older English versions follow the MT plural (KJV, ASV).
4 sn See the note on the place name Beth Aven in 4:15.
5 tc The MT appears to read יָגִילוּ (yagilu, “they will rejoice”; Qal imperfect 3rd person masculine plural from גִּיל, gil, “to rejoice”), but this is likely an example of semantic polarization. See F. I. Andersen and D. N. Freedman, Hosea (AB), 556-67. The BHS editors propose the reading יְיֵלִילוּ (yÿyelilu, “they will lament”; Hiphil imperfect 3rd person masculine plural from יָלַל, yalal, “to lament”), which also appears in Hos 7:14. If this reading is original, the textual variant may be attributed to: (1) orthographic confusion between ל (lamed) and ג (gimel), and (2) haplography or dittography of י (yod). English versions are split; some follow the MT (KJV, ASV, NIV, NJPS), others the proposed emendation (RSV, NASB, NCV, NRSV, TEV, NLT).
6 tc This line division follows the MT rather than the line division suggested by the BHS editors.
7 tn Heb “from it” (so NAB, NRSV).