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Hosea 12:7-8

The Lord Refutes Israel’s False Claim of Innocence

12:7 The businessmen love to cheat; 1 

they use dishonest scales. 2 

12:8 Ephraim boasts, 3  “I am very rich!

I have become wealthy! 4 

In all that I have done to gain my wealth, 5 

no one can accuse me of any offense 6  that is actually sinful.” 7 

1 tn Heb “the merchant…loves to cheat.” The Hebrew has singular forms (noun and verb) which are used generically to refer to all Israelite merchants and traders in general. The singular noun II כְּנַעַן (kÿnaan, “a merchant; a trader”; BDB 488 s.v. II כְּנַעַן) is used in a generic sense to refer to the merchant class of Israel as a whole (e.g., Ezek 16:29; 17:4; Zeph 1:11).

2 tn Heb “The merchant – in his hand are scales of deceit – loves to cheat.” The present translation rearranges the Hebrew line division to produce a smoother English rendering.

3 tn Heb “says” (so NAB).

4 tn Heb “I have found wealth for myself.” The verb מָצַא (matsa’, “to find”) is repeated in 12:8 to create a wordplay that is difficult to reproduce in translation. The Israelites have “found” (מָצַא) wealth for themselves (i.e., become wealthy; v. 8a) through dishonest business practices (v. 7). Nevertheless, they claim that no guilt can be “found” (מָצַא) in anything they have done in gaining their wealth (v. 8b).

5 tc The MT reads the 1st person common singular suffix on the noun יְגִיעַי (yÿgiay, “my labors/gains”; masculine plural noun + 1st person common singular suffix). The LXX’s οἱ πόνοι αὐτοῦ ({oi ponoi autou, “his labors”) assumes a 3rd person masculine singular suffix on the noun יְגִיעַיו (yÿgiav, “his labors/gains”; masculine plural noun + 3rd person masculine singular suffix). The BHS editors suggest adopting the LXX reading. The textual decision is based upon whether or not this line continues the speech of Ephraim (1st person common singular suffix) or whether these are the words of the prophet (3rd person masculine singular suffix). See the following translator’s note for the two rival lexical meanings which in turn lead to the textual options for the line as a whole.

tn Heb “In all my gains/labors.” The noun יְגִיעַ (yÿgia) has a two-fold range of meanings: (1) “toil, labor” and (2) metonymical result of toil: “product, produce, gain, acquired property” (i.e., wealth gained by labor; BDB 388 s.v.; HALOT 385-86 s.v.). Normally, only one of the categories of meaning is present in any usage; however, it is possible that intentional semantic ambiguity is present in this usage because the context invokes both ideas: action + wealth.

6 tn The phrase מָצָאתִי אוֹן לִי (matsation li, “I have found wealth for myself” = I have become wealthy) forms a wordplay with לֹא יִמְצְאוּ לִי עָוֹן (loyimtsÿu liavon, “they will not find guilt in me”). The repetition of מָצָא לִי (matsali) is enhanced by the paronomasia between the similar sounding nouns עוֹן (’on, “guilt”) and אוֹן (’on, “wealth”). The wordplay emphasizes that Israel’s acquisition of wealth cannot be divorced from his guilt in dishonest business practices. Israel has difficulty in protesting his innocence that he is not guilty (עוֹן) of the dishonest acquisition of wealth (אוֹן).

7 tc The MT reads “[in] all my gains, they will not find guilt in me which would be sin.” The LXX reflects a Hebrew Vorlage which would be translated “in all his labors, he cannot offset his guilt which is sin.” Some translations follow the LXX: “but all his riches can never offset the guilt he has incurred” (RSV); “None of his gains shall atone for the guilt of his sins” (NEB); “All his gain shall not suffice him for the guilt of his sin” (NAB). Most follow the MT: “In all my labours they shall find none iniquity in me that were sin” (KJV); “In all my labors they will find in me no iniquity, which would be sin” (NASB); “With all my wealth they will not find in me any iniquity or sin” (NIV); “All my gains do not amount to an offense which is real guilt” (NJPS); “No one can accuse us [sic] of getting rich dishonestly” (TEV); “I earned it all on my own, without committing a sin” (CEV). See D. Barthélemy, ed., Preliminary and Interim Report on the Hebrew Old Testament Text Project, 5:262-63.

tn Heb “In all my gains/labors, no one can find in me any guilt which is sin.”

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