Hosea 11


כִּי נַעַר יִשְׂרָאֵל וָאֹהֲבֵהוּ וּמִמִּצְרַיִם קָרָאתִי לִבְנִי׃   11:1

Hose. 11:1   “When Israel was a child and I loved him,

                                then I called for My son out of Egypt.”

קָרְאוּ לָהֶם כֵּן הָלְכוּ מִפְּנֵיהֶם לַבְּעָלִים יְזַבֵּחוּ וְלַפְּסִלִים יְקַטֵּרוּן׃   11:2

Hose. 11:2   “They called to them

                                 -- therefore they departed from them

                        -- they would prefer to sacrifice to Baalim

                                 and offer incense to idols.”

The meaning of the first two lines of this verse is obscure.  Hosea seems to sometimes use pronouns as carelessly as the future prophet Ezekiel will.  Most commentators and editors assume the first pronoun they refers to the prophets and the first occurrence of the pronoun them refers to the people of Israel.  I believe otherwise.  It seems to be more reasonable to assume that the first pronoun refers to the pagans in and around Israel, who “called” to the children of Israel, and the pronoun them in the second line refers to the prophets.

וְאָנֹכִי תִרְגַּלְתִּי לְאֶפְרַיִם קָחָם עַל־זְרֹועֹתָיו וְלֹא יָדְעוּ כִּי רְפָאתִים׃   11:3

Hose. 11:3   “Yet I taught walking to Ephraim,

                                 taking them by one’s arms,

                       but they did not understand that I kept them healthy.”

בְּחַבְלֵי אָדָם אֶמְשְׁכֵם בַּעֲבֹתֹות אַהֲבָה וָאֶהְיֶה לָהֶם כִּמְרִימֵי עֹל עַל לְחֵיהֶם וְאַט אֵלָיו אֹוכִיל׃   11:4

Hose. 11:4   “By the bands of a man I would draw them, by cords of love,

                                 and I was to them as lifters of the yoke upon their jaws

                       as I gently would bring food to him.”

לֹא יָשׁוּב אֶל־אֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם וְאַשּׁוּר הוּא מַלְכֹּו כִּי מֵאֲנוּ לָשׁוּב׃   11:5

Hose. 11:5   “He shall not return to the land of Egypt,

                                  but the Assyrian, he shall be his king,

                        for they refuse to return.”

וְחָלָה חֶרֶב בְּעָרָיו וְכִלְּתָה בַדָּיו וְאָכָלָה מִמֹּעֲצֹותֵיהֶם׃   11:6

Hose. 11:6   “Then the sword shall whirl on his cities

                                  and destroy his parts and devour,

                       because of their counsels.”

וְעַמִּי תְלוּאִים לִמְשׁוּבָתִי וְאֶל־עַל יִקְרָאֻהוּ יַחַד לֹא יְרֹוםֵם׃   11:7

Hose. 11:7   “Now My people are stalling about returning to Me.”

                                   Though they might call on high to Him together,

                       He would not raise them.

This verse has some troubling pronouns, and other problems as well.  The last two lines are mistranslated, in one way or another, in every bible I’ve examined.  The translations in each of them have resulted from unfounded assumptions and distortions of at least three Hebrew words.  As I interpret and translate this verse, the Lord offers the observation in the first line, then Hosea takes over to finish the verse.

אֵיךְ אֶתֶּנְךָ אֶפְרַיִם אֲמַגֶּנְךָ יִשְׂרָאֵל אֵיךְ אֶתֶּנְךָ כְאַדְמָה אֲשִׂימְךָ כִּצְבֹאיִם נֶהְפַּךְ עָלַי לִבִּי יַחַד   11:8         נִכְמְרוּ נִחוּמָי׃

Hose. 11:8   “How can I give you up, Ephraim,

                                  surrender you, Israel?

                       How can I set you as Admah,

                                  make you as Zeboim?

                       My ‘heart’ is turned against Me;

                                  My compassions are similarly kindled.”

What “heartfelt” compassion the Lord expresses here!  Incidentally, the towns Admah and Zeboim were in the plain near Sodom and Gemorrah and were destroyed with them.  See Gene. 10:19.

לֹא אֶעֱשֶׂה חֲרֹון אַפִּי לֹא אָשׁוּב לְשַׁחֵת אֶפְרָיִם כִּי אֵל אָנֹכִי וְלֹא־אִישׁ בְּקִרְבְּךָ קָדֹושׁ וְלֹא אָבֹוא   11:9     בְּעִיר׃

Hose. 11:9   “I will not generate the full fury of My ‘anger;’

                                  I will not return to destroying Ephraim;

                        for I am God, and not man,

                                  the Holy One in your midst,

                        and I will not come with ‘over-emotion.’”

אַחֲרֵי יְהוָה יֵלְכוּ כְּאַרְיֵה יִשְׁאָג כִּי־הוּא יִשְׁאַג וְיֶחֶרְדוּ בָנִים מִיָּם׃   11:10

Hose. 11:10   They shall walk after the Lord;

                                  like a lion He shall roar

                          -- indeed He shall cry

                                  “And the children come trembling from the west.”

יֶחֶרְדוּ כְצִפֹּור מִמִּצְרַיִם וּכְיֹונָה מֵאֶרֶץ אַשּׁוּר וְהֹושַׁבְתִּים עַל־בָּתֵּיהֶם נְאֻם־יְהוָה׃   11:11

Hose. 11:11   “They shall come trembling like a bird from Egypt,

                                   and like a dove from the land of Assyria.

                         And I will cause them to sit by their houses,”

                                   declares the Lord.


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