תֶּאְשַׁם שֹׁמְרֹון כִּי מָרְתָה בֵּאלֹהֶיהָ בַּחֶרֶב יִפֹּלוּ עֹלְלֵיהֶם יְרֻטָּשׁוּ וְהָרִיֹּותָיו יְבֻקָּעוּ׃ 14:1
Hose. 14:1 Samaria shall be held guilty,
for she is disobedient to her God.
They shall fall by sword;
their children shall be dashed to pieces,
and his pregnant women ripped open.
Notice the change in pronoun gender from the feminine in the second line to masculine in the last line, yet both referring to Samaria. I believe Hosea switched to masculine to emphasize the men to whom the pregnant women would be related.
שׁוּבָה יִשְׂרָאֵל עַד יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ כִּי כָשַׁלְתָּ בַּעֲוֹנֶךָ׃ 14:2
Hose. 14:2 Return, Israel, up to the Lord, your God!
Surely you have stumbled in your iniquity.
קְחוּ עִםָּכֶם דְּבָרִים וְשׁוּבוּ אֶל־יְהוָה אִמְרוּ אֵלָיו כָּל־תִּשָּׂא עָוֹן וְקַח־טֹוב וּנְשַׁלְּמָה פָרִים שְׂפָתֵינוּ׃ 14:3
Hose. 14:3 Take with you the words, and return to the Lord!
Say to Him, “May You take away iniquity
and accept only goodness,
and we will make our lips replace bullocks.”
This verse has some interesting Hebrew. The root of the word I freely translate as and we will make ... replace (third from last word) normally means peace, and signifies completeness. Did Hosea use this word deliberately to convey a sense of finality as in the end times? I certainly don’t know. I also accept that few will agree with my translation of the word. Yet others seem to provide their own peculiar translations, stretching the word’s meaning as much as or more than I do. Nevertheless, take it for what it’s worth.
Yet I have to ask myself, could this be a prophecy that prayer would one day be substituted for sacrifice? If so, it’s truly startling. Remember, Hosea lived about 150 to 180 years before the destruction of Solomon’s Temple, and the institution of prayer in place of sacrifices occurred even centuries later than that.
אַשּׁוּר לֹא יֹושִׁיעֵנוּ עַל־סוּס לֹא נִרְכָּב וְלֹא־נֹאמַר עֹוד אֱלֹהֵינוּ לְמַעֲשֵׂה יָדֵינוּ אֲשֶׁר־בְּךָ יְרֻחַם יָתֹום׃ 14:4
Hose. 14:4 “Assyria cannot save us;
we cannot ride upon horse;
and we will not say ‘our gods’ anymore
for the work of our hands,
but only through You can the orphan find mercy.”
אֶרְפָּא מְשׁוּבָתָם אֹהֲבֵם נְדָבָה כִּי שָׁב אַפִּי מִמֶּנּוּ׃ 14:5
Hose. 14:5 “I will cure their backsliding, love them freely,
for My ‘anger’ is turned away from him.”
אֶהְיֶה כַטַּל לְיִשְׂרָאֵל יִפְרַח כַּשֹּׁושַׁנָּה וְיַךְ שָׁרָשָׁיו כַּלְּבָנֹון׃ 14:6
Hose. 14:6 “I will be like dew to Israel;
he shall blossom as the lily,
and thrust his roots like Lebanon.”
יֵלְכוּ יֹנְקֹותָיו וִיהִי כַזַּיִת הֹודֹו וְרֵיחַ לֹו כַּלְּבָנֹון׃ 14:7
Hose. 14:7 “His branches shall spread out,
and his splendor shall be like an olive tree,
and his fragrance shall be like Lebanon.”
יָשֻׁבוּ יֹשְׁבֵי בְצִלֹּו יְחַיּוּ דָגָן וְיִפְרְחוּ כַגָּפֶן זִכְרֹו כְּיֵין לְבָנֹון׃ 14:8
Hose. 14:8 “Inhabitants shall return to his shadow,
revive corn, and blossom like a vine,
its aroma like the wine of Lebanon.”
אֶפְרַיִם מַה־לִּי עֹוד לָעֲצַבִּים אֲנִי עָנִיתִי וַאֲשׁוּרֶנּוּ אֲנִי כִּבְרֹושׁ רַעֲןָן מִמֶּנִּי פֶּרְיְךָ נִמְצָא׃ 14:9
Hose. 14:9 Ephraim: “What are as idols to me anymore?”
“I respond and regard him;
‘I am as a luxuriant cypress
-- out of Me your fruit is found.’”
מִי חָכָם וְיָבֵן אֵלֶּה נָבֹון וְיֵדָעֵם כִּי־יְשָׁרִים דַּרְכֵי יְהוָה וְצַדִּקִים יֵלְכוּ בָם וּפֹשְׁעִים יִכָּשְׁלוּ בָם׃ 14:10
Hose. 14:10 Who is wise? Then let him understand these things.
Perceptive? Then let him discern them.
For the ways of the Lord are right,
and righteous ones shall walk in them,
but transgressors will stumble on them.
This verse repeats the proposition that being wise and perceptive means to recognize and understand our relationship with the Lord. We will encounter this idea again in Psalms and Proverbs.