Devotional Commentary on Hosea 9


Hosea started with God complaining about the wayward Remnant of Israel (verse 1). "Rejoice not Israel exult not like peoples, for you have fornicated away from your God. You loved a reward upon all the floors of corn."

In this verse, nearly all the versions are strictly following the consonantal text of the Masoretic text. There is a connection between the Targum and the Syriac in the addition of a copulative "and" here and there but mostly it is still the consonantal text of the Masoretic tradition. The Syriac reader dropped out the last word by error which we call "haplography" or writing it only once instead of twice. Three words in Syriac and Aramaic has nearly the same form in the shape of the characters and the similarity between the second and third word made the Syriac reader's eyes jump from the second one to the third one without writing the second one thinking that he did.

Let us look at the process of the error with the Aramaic form of the Targum (although the Targumist did not make any error).

If these letters were written continuously in scriptio continua then the eyes can easily jump one word.

Even if there is a slight space between these words, such a jump can also occur.

The Syriac reader knew his text very well and knew the form of the letters in the beginning of his text very well. Unfotunately for him the letters of the last word in 9:1 and the first word in 9:2 were the same in the last section of the word and thus the word was dropped out by human error.

The error could have originated in the Hebrew as well since these letters also show some form of similarity so that the Hebrew Vorlage that the Syriac was using in this verse could have left out the last word.

Comparing the two possibilities of the Aramaic and the Hebrew, the likelihood that it was the Hebrew that was misread is greater than the likelihood that it was the Aramaic. Our decision is that it was a Hebrew manuscript probably very close to the consonantal text of the Masoretic tradition that was misread by the Syriac and not an Aramaic manuscript as the first example shows. Similar to H. Mager in 1916 with his studies in Die Peshi?tho zum Buche Josua (but not following him) we conclude here that this misreading could only have occurred if the text was written in scriptio continua. If there was a proper verse divider the misreading would not have occurred since the problem spans over two verses.

Israel are not to share with the kind of joy that other nations are rejoicing for. There were certain harvest cultic practices that the surrounding nations participated in and these foreign workers living in Israel would participate in that and the Israelites followed and joined in.

In verse 2 God is saying that they will not be fed but deceived (verse 2). "The floor and the winepress shall not feed them and the new wine shall deceive in her."

The Septuagint misread one letter /r/ for a /d/ in the word yr(m "he shall know". This kind of mistake is very common in translations. In the original these two letters are very similar.

The connection between the Syriac and the Targum is undoubtedly in this verse as the variants demonstrate. However, there are still differences. We suggest that they consulted the same Hebrew Vorlage with some points in the verse that were illegible giving rise to two different readings of the same word. What also could have happened is that one of them was using a copy of that same Vorlage giving rise to more variants between the two of them. In our opinion it seems that the misreading or error in the Syriac came from a bad Aramaic translation. Let's look at the case:

Consonantal Text of the Masoretic Tradition.

In my understanding the Syriac consulted an illegible Aramaic Vorlage and was mistakenly thinking it is reading a Hebrew manuscript which resulted in the word "and the oil" as we found in the Syriac.

In the alternative, it is probably not impossible that in the copy process of the Hebrew manuscripts a scribe could copy so badly that in the course of transmission the letters seemed to the Syriac reader to be "and the oil".

This is really a fifty-fity situation and we will keep the options open but should further evidence swing one way or the other it is possible to do it in this verse with the Syriac.

There shall be a time when there will be corn lacking and wine.

God said that in Egypt they will eat unclean things (verse 3). "They do not dwell in the land of the Lord and Ephraim returned Egypt and in Assyria they shall eat unclean things." In the private Greek translation of Symmachus in 170 CE he translated "they shall eat unclean things." The later Coptic read: "and hath eaten unclean things among the Assyrians."

There is a remarkable phenomenon in the translation of Jerome in this verse. We do not have the manuscript s dating from the same century to control check the previous chapter where there is a doublet of the same phrase in Hosea 8:14 reading "they shall send back Egypt" corresponding to the reading here  in this verse "and Ephraim returned Egypt". For some reason Jerome kept to the literal consonantal text of the Masoretic tradition in this verse 100% with no preposition addition "in" but in Hosea 8:14 he was not so careful (if the Weber edition was done carefully enough?) and added the preposition "in Egypt" to the reading. It is almost our contention that another collation of the s manuscript of the Vulgate will not contain "in" here in Hosea 8:14? If it does it demonstrates how translators consult more than one Hebrew Vorlage and other available translations during the process of translation. Five late manuscripts of the Vulgate, AΛMφ and c all included "in" in Hosea 9:3. We do not advise anyone to follow these readings.

What we said about the Syriac and the Targum in Hosea 9:2 now applies to the Targum and the Greek translation of the fifth century CE. There is strong correspondences between the area of the variant and the kind of variant that we find. It is undoubtedly the same Hebrew Vorlage that they have consulted each with their own errors though. It could be that the one is using a Hebrew Vorlage and that the other one is using a copy of the same Vorlage. It will account for the differences between the two. That is why the errors are similar but not exactly identical.

They do not stay in Israel and Ephraim returned Egypt. The reader should note that there is no preposition "to" or "unto" or "in" used with Egypt here. The reason is because the diplomats that were asked to come as see the king for help against the Syrian onslaught could not do anything since their ruler Sheshonk V died soon after their arrival in Israel and they were "returned" by Ephraim. It was probably in the years after 731-730 BCE that Ephraim went to Egypt to asked for help from the king there but he was in his last year of reign. They will also go to Assyria (for sure after 723 BCE) when they will be deported and they will eat unclean things. Unclean things in biblical perspective are things like: pigs, dogs, fishes like sharks and those with no fins, seafood in the molusca phyllum, octopusses, turtles, rabbits, mice, all those mentioned according to the rules in Leviticus 11. It is known at least one hundred years before Hosea that the people of Assyria ate pigs, birds, doormice, onions, garlic, and fish (K. van Wyk, "Archaeology and Diet" in Archaeology in the Bible and Text in the Tel [Berrien Center, Michigan: Louis Hester Publications, 1996], 323-325). Some of these things are not prohibited in Leviticus 11 but pigs and doormice definitely are. The text is an hemerological text from Nimrud dating to 883-859 BCE corresponding to the time of Omri and Ahab of Israel giving us some idea of the Assyrian diet habits.

When the wayward Remnant heart is not right with God, He has no interest in their offerings, whether they are presented in a right way or not (verse 4). "Not shall they offer to the Lord wine, and not shall their offerings be pleasing to him. Like the bread of mourners to them. All that eat of it shall be unclean. For their bread is to their souls. Not shall come the house of the Lord." Symmachus in his private Greek translation in 170 CE said: "for their bread oppose their souls, it shall not enter into the house of the Lord."

The Jewish Targum was homiletical about the verse: "They shall not offer from before the Lord of the wine and not shall they be acceptable to please. Their presents of their sacrifices are like bread from afar to them. All that eat it shall be defiled because their presents upon their souls are not atoning to them in the house of the sanctuary of the Lord."

One common feature that binds all these versions together is the addition of a preposition at the end. It seems as if there is some kind of connection between the Vorlage of the Greek of the fifth century CE and the Syriac. It is amazing that all of them has an addition at the same area. One can argue that the Hebrew Vorlage of the Syriac and the Greek of the fifth century CE was actually the same here. One thing is clear: there was a consonantal text of the Masoretic tradition that read no preposition which we consider to be the original of Hosea; another Hebrew Vorlage that read the preposition /l/ "to" and still another Hebrew Vorlage that read the preposition /b/ "in". Except for minor differences they were all remarkably close to the consonantal text of the Masoretic tradition. Are we going to suggest exegetical translation technique here for the origin of these minor variants? Did the versions all share some form of liberation policy in this zone of translation supported by each other? The original gave them problems so they felt it necessary to introduce some extra linguistic particles? It is possible to translate the last part as: "It shall not enter the house of the Lord".

It seems to us that Symmachus in 170 CE misread the similarity of the Hebrew characters in this verse at one point and thus introduced a similar extra word "oppose" that was not in the original, not even the one he was using. It happened in the following way: namely, a character misreading + metathesis                

Result: A double reading of a word that was not there. It means that he read it correctly the first time but introduced a new word due to the character misreading and metathesis. It is really a ghostword that originated in the eye of the beholder due to the similarity of the forms of the words and letters of the words. When I was driving during my student years home on the long road in Africa I would come to the point that I was so tired that the blinkers appeared as oncoming cars to me in the night. It could be that Symmachus was very tired at this point in translation.

During the time that they will be transported to Assyria they will offer wine and other offerings but it will not be pleasing to the Lord. Everyone participating in it shall be unclean. The bread is for their soul. The house of the Lord shall not come. This is a very interesting concept. It supports the idea that the Holiness of God is not static but dynamic. His presence is not situated in one spot all the time. It seems to indicate that the presence of God come and go. It is mobile. God is omnipresent but in His great mercy He has chosen to shrunk Himself in order to make space for the evil. The doctrine of the Tsimtsum namely that God has spiral into Himself to make space for creation is applicable here. The house of the Lord is not a static building or human structure how magnificent it may appear to any human eye or mind. The house of the Lord is the presence of God and that can be anywhere. When God meets the sinner and they are talking, that is the house of God. When the sinner's worship is pleasing to God, that is the house of God.

That is the main problem. God is looking for a contrite heart and that is what they lack. God said that they do not sincere and therefore not shall come the house of the Lord. This in essence means that when an ancient Israelite said he is going to the Temple to worship, then the house of the Lord is going with him (if God is pleased with his worship and there is a relation between them). The original does not use any preposition to explain a movement to the house of the Lord. It is the house of the Lord that is moving. This means that Hosea also believed that the temple is mobile following God's presence. Even today there are pastors and priests and synagogue leaders who thinks that God is only in the spatial dimensions that humans has built for Him. Some think that he is only in the Temple area in Jerusalem and that prayers at the Wall is touching His presence. They kiss the wall as if they are kissing God. If Hosea is correct in his concept of a mobile house of the Lord, then there is no difference between an orthodox Jew kissing the Herodian stones on the western wall of the temple in Jerusalem and a buddhist priest kissing the sleeping Buddha in his Temple. If the human's worship is pleasing to God, God is there and the house of the Lord is there, anywhere, in the sky, on the earth, even under the waters. This is the principle. This occupation of humans with spaces of holiness or structures of holiness also can be found in the direction of prayers in Islam religions. They have to pray towards Mecca. The holiness of God is captivated by humans and then encarcerated in a gold plated shrine and is only there where the authorities in that religion decides it to be. All religions have this phenomenon in common: Christianity in all its shades, Jewish religions in all its factions, Muslim religions of all kinds, Buddhism of all kinds, Shintoism, Taoism, ancient as well as modern. Hosea's view stands in contrast to all these and his concept of God is mobile, dynamic, active coming and going. Even in Christian churches the holiness of the pulpit area is maintained, for it is high with people looking up as if God's presence is only there close to the ceiling. The voice is quivering as if the person is in the presence of a God who is so awesome. They pray for the coming of His presence when He is already there. Instead of realizing His presence they pray anew for the arrival of it, not knowing or experiencing that He already arrived with the arrival of the first worshipper that morning. It is better to open the senses and notice the working of the Lord in the spiritual experiences and communication of the worshippers around yourself. The power of God manifests itself not necessarily in strange phenomena of shaking or whatever but in the witness of a sinner who gives his or her life anew to God. It seems as if Hosea is saying to Israel: what you see, is not what you see. If our analysis of Hosea's message is correct, we have a philospher in Hosea that is very deep long before the birth of Socrates or Plato or Aristoteles.

Since the alternative is also possible namely to translate it as "It shall not enter the house of the Lord" all these versions could have a point. They could be correct. This is a fifty-fifty situation in which it can be taken either way. The implications are different though. According to the versions, the bread shall not enter the house of the Lord. Let's analyse their meaning. They do not offer wine to the Lord and they do not please him. They do offer and that offer is considered to be bread of mourners. Their offerings are bread for their souls. These offerings shall not enter the house of the Lord. Now what does this mean? They are offering sacrifices presumably in the Temple but it is not pleasing to God and neither shall it enter His house. How can you be in the Temple of the Lord offering sacrifices and at the same time not be in the house of the Lord? Either way you look at it, one will not be able to escape the mobility of the concept of the house of the Lord or presence of God. It seems as if the Temple is not the house of the Lord. They are two separate entities.

Then God poses a question to the wayward Remnant about their keeping of appointed times and festivals of the Lord: "What will you do for the day of the appointed time, and for the day of the festival of the Lord?" (verse 5). Aquila in his private Greek translation in 130 CE read it: "What will you do in the day of the time and in the day of the feast of the Lord?"

Jerome and the Greek text of the fifth century CE used the same Hebrew Vorlage for this verse. They share thus the variant. The Syriac and the Targum read the consonantal text of the Masoretic tradition in this verse. It is a riddle why Jerome who complains against the reading of the Greek of the fifth century and wanted to be more literal than they was in so doing to rectify their mistakes, is using the same variants in this verse. He did not know that the Hebrew manuscript that he was using is in fact not the original form. We can only conclude that none of the manuscripts that Jerome were consulting had a sticker reading: THIS IS THE ORIGINAL. As such the translator was continuously searching for the best and our task is to discover the rules or the modus operandi for decision making under these circumstances.

We do find Jerome commenting on Aquila's translation of this verse in the following way:

"For in the solemn day Aquila is interpreting time."

"Pro die sollemni [we corrected here Field's reading solemni] Aq. interpretatus est tempus."

(Jerome's Commentary HoseareconORIGENES-HEXAPLA=FIELD1875:954)

No doubt Jerome was using in his day the Hexapla of Origenes. This may also be the key why Jerome incorporated here the same variant as the Greek. He was consulting the Hexapla of Origenes and was somehow impressed by the socalled LXX or Septuagint in this verse. It is exactly at this point that scholars derailed in their arguments regarding the Septuagint. Between the date of 230 CE of Origenes' Hexapla and its Septuagint and the origin of the real Septuagint are five hundred years. We do not claim in any way that their is the sligthest connection between the two. In fact the evidence cause us to hesitate making any connection due to several reasons: the incompatibility of the Greek quotations in the New Testament with that of the Septuagint added to complaints by various church fathers (preceding Origen in 230 CE) that the manuscripts had been tampered with. See for instance Justin the Martyr. We have made reference to him in our introduction to this commentary in the Textcritical section supra.

With all due respect to Jerome we have to disagree with his conclusion that Aquila "interpreted" the variant reading. He did not interpret the variant reading, it was an acoustic error. He heard a Hebrew form that sounds the same but looked differently. It means that he was listening to his Hebrew reader who read ???? but Aquila heard ??? which is a common word used in this form in the book of Daniel 12:11 translated as "from the time". It is not the way it is found in the Greek text of the fifth century CE considered by the church as the "Septuagint" but it is translated that way by the translation of Theodotion into Greek of Daniel ca. 190 CE (see Ralphs edition of the Septuagint). Making a mistake by hearing wrongly is not the same as making an interpretation of the same form of the Hebrew word. Yes, both cases involve interpretation, but in Jerome's case it was an interpretation of what he saw. In our analysis it is an interpretation of what he thought he heard. Jerome's answer is thus too superficial here.

The question is asked what they will do on the day of their feasting or the festival of the Lord. If they are in Assyria, how will they carry out those functions? Like the Psalmist sings: "How shall we sing the Lord song in a strange land?"

After the destruction by punishment they shall be gathered by Egypt (verse 6): "For see, they are gone from destruction. Egypt shall gather them. Moph shall bury them. The pleasant places for their silver. Nettles shall possess them. Thorns in their tents." In the Greek translations Moph is Memphis and so also in the Targum, Syriac and Coptic.

It is not that crucial but the Greek translation of the fifth century CE translated an extra copulative "and" before Egypt and Moph "and Egypt shall gather them and Moph shall bury them".

It could very well be that Codex Vaticanus of the fifth century CE got its inclusion of the "it" or "themselves" from the translation of Theodotion in ca. 190 CE who also included it (see Field 954). We have said elsewhere that we think that it was the modus operandi of the editors of the Codex Vaticanus and Codex Alexandrinus to be eclectic and all-inclusive, protective and all-incorporative. It is almost as if they wanted to make sure they included everything that could guard against a schism in the church. This inclusion of the Codex Vaticanus is a rectification of the Greek text until that century or around that century in line with the Hebrew original. However, this was not the prime objective of these editors and differences are bountiful.

It would seem as if Symmachus in 170 CE already contained some of the problems that the later official Greek Septuagint had abundantly more of. If we have to make a comparison between Symmachus' Greek translation, the Codex Vaticanus and the Middle Age Greek editions or translations then there are less problems or deviations the older the text seems to be. The Middle Age Greek translations deviate the most with the Hebrew original followed by the Codex Vaticanus and the least is Symmachus' translation.

When Jerome (403 CE) commented on this verse he said:

"As far as it reads in the LXX he shall bury them Machmas, in Hebrew it is not, but mamad, which expects desireable."

"Quod autem in LXX dicit, sepeliet eos Machmas, in Hebraeo non habetur, sed mamad, quod appellatur desiderable."

   (Jerome's Commentary HoseareconORIGENES-HEXAPLA=FIELD1875:954)

Why did Symmachus in 170 CE read mamad but Origen in 230 CE and Codex Vaticanus in 450 CE and the Middle Age Greek texts read machmas?

We can only maintain that these three groups of translators or editors used a similar Hebrew Vorlage that was very illegible at some places that strengthened their conviction that they were right even though they were off the mark. Like some Qumran manuscripts this manuscript was probably a functional biblical text and not a formal biblical text but the translators could not distinguish the difference between the two. It is the same as modern scholars on Qumran who cannot distinguish between a biblical and para-biblical text in the manuscripts from Qumran.

From the perspective of Augustine's fierce comments against Jerome for the "audacity" to deviate from the ecclesiastical Greek edition of the Septuagint and the winds of church disciplinary actions that blew Jerome's way, one can understand why mistakes were reduplicated by those who regard their full stomachs more important than the correctness of the Word of God. And even today in our age, it has not changed a bit. Scholars know the right but they prefer to cling to the ways of their forefathers or "giants" in their science or school just for job security. It is sometimes hilarious to see but also pathetic.

During the invasion of Tiglath-Pilezer III of Israel in the days of Menahem in 755 BCE - 745 BCE Menahem had to pay a lot of silver to him. He asked from the rich people of Israel to contribute to these funds. We are mentioning 745 only because it seems that way on our calculation but with the sliding, slipping and limping calculations of a lunar calendar, synchronization is not that problematic. They have asked help in 730 BCE from Egypt and probably some went there to settle there. That is why it is said that Memphis will bury them. Memphis was the setting for the Apis bull and in the time of this Egyptian king, Sheshonk V, two Apis bulls died. The reference to tents are a nomadic setting that they will live in again in future.

God says through Hosea that there will be days of punishment and Israel need to know why it came: "The days of visitation came, the days of punishment came, Israel know. A fool is the prophet, mad is the man of the spirit, upon the multitude of your iniquity and the great hatred." (verse 7). The Syriac reads it as follows: "The days of seeking came, drawn near are the days of repayments. Know Israel foolish is the lying prophet, the man that clothed on him the spirit of madness, from the multitude of your iniquity, arose your playfullness." Older than the Syriac translation of 380 CE is the Old Latin of 190 CE reading it as: "The days of visitation came, the days of repaying came. know Israel, that the prophet was foolish, the spiritual man was insane, on account of the multitude of your iniquity, is your madness."

The Septuagint is attempting to harmonize again in this verse as it is common elsewhere in the Greek translation. It wants to read "your iniquity and the muliplication of [your] hatred". This second "your" is not in the original and should not be placed in. Not everyone in Israel is part of the iniquity but everyone is suffering pain and therefore "the great hatred". The Septuagint in this verse is doing the opposite than in verse 2, it is reading a /d/ for an /r/ namely instead of yd(w it is reading yr(w. Mistakes in reading are not to be followed.

The Syriac translator was translating very freely in this verse. In fact, he was substituting the semantics for certain words very wide, although still possible but questionable. The rule that we have followed in this commentary on the retroversions is not to retrovert ad hoc without careful weighing the possibilities of misreading of the correct characters in the consonantal text of the Masoretic Tradition. With the two words in the beginning of the verse, this was not the case. Usually one can see a relation between the form and meaning between the Targum and the Syriac although not as a fixed rule. In this case they are worlds apart. It is almost to us as if the Syriac translators switched at this point and from this verse another Syriac translator was translating than the one before this verse? The Syriac translator probably read the consonantal text of the Masoretic Tradition but then switch manuscripts in an attempt to make sense of the second half introducing some words that is not in the original (probably for sense reasons) and then switched to the same Hebrew Vorlage that the Greek of the fifth century CE had with many problems in it at the last part of the verse. The Greek Vorlage is very problematic in this verse. It is not a case of translation method since the exact omissions and substitutions can also be found in the Syriac translation especially at the end of the verse. Would the Syriac translator be so curious to understand the difficult part of the verse by switching to another manuscript (a position that we do hold) and then at the end of the verse just slavishly follow the Greek translation of the fifth century CE? We do not follow this line of thinking. It was a Vorlage that both the Greek and the Syriac shared that had these problems. The other differences in variants are due to the method of translating and consulting by the Syriac translator who was surrounded by four to five different Hebrew manuscripts.

It seems to us again that Symmachus in 170 CE misread the similarity of the Hebrew characters in this verse at one point and thus introduced a similar extra word "to them" that was not in the original, not even the one he was using. It happened in the following way: double reading of letters. Result: A double reading of a word that was not there. It means that he read it correctly the first time but introduced a new word due to a double reading of the same letters. It is again (like Hosea 9:4 supra) a ghostword that originated in the eye of the beholder due to the similarity of the forms of the words and letters of the words. We have said that we think Symmachus was very tired during this translation at this point and that he was hallucinating. A second error that Symmachus made was that he did not see the aleph before the word that would render it "man" and he thought that he saw the word "there is" = ??. For any scholar who disagree with our point here, we refer him/her to the Syriac translation of Symmachus here as: "there is" (Greek of Symmachus in SYRO-HEXAPLA=PAUL 616 reconstructed from ORIGENES-HEXAPLA= FIELD 1875: 954)

Symmachus used a Hebrew text very similar to the consonantal text of the Masoretic tradition but due to the fact that he was too tired in this section and the letters were very illegible and reading in continual format, he created "ghost words" that did not exist in the original.

Hosea warned them that the days of visitation came and also the day for punishment. He refers to the fact that people are thinking that the prophet is a fool and the man of the spirit is mad due to the selfish occupation they had with the social and economic lifestyles of their day.

Again as we have stated above at Hosea 9:5 regarding the variant of Aquila in that verse, the same applies here, namely that his variant is not due to an interpretation of the consonantal text of the Masoretic tradition, but due to a mishearing of phonics that gave him the idea that he heard one word instead of another word. The /s/ sound and the last sound in the word were confused in his ears and his interpretation created a word similar to what he actually heard. We do not get the impression that Aquila (130 CE) and Symmachus (170 CE) had different Vorlages than our consonantal text of the Masoretic tradition. It again appears that someone was reading the Hebrew to Aquila and he was translating while listening to the reading.

Concerning the Greek translations as a whole: private and official ecclessiastical texts - it seems as if they get worse as centuries progressed. With "worse" we mean that they deviated from the consonantal text of the Masoretic tradition considerably. It may be just a suggestion but it seems as if the two periods of Cave discoveries of manuscripts during the third century (213 CE) and the ninth century (806 CE) could have been the two pivotal points of the origin of major variants in the Greek and other editions. It is remarkable how great variants get after these two periods.

Jerome commented again on this verse and about the translation of Aquila he said:

"For madness Aquila altered it hostility, something for us actually passion, actually a memorial suffering, we can say in Latin."

   (Jerome's Commentary Hosea reconstructed from ORIGENES-HEXAPLA= FIELD 1875: 954)

I disagree with Jerome here that Aquila "altered" (= vertit) the reading. It reads the same in the Hebrew original. He just selected another Greek word semantically similar to what we found later in the Middle Ages, in Codex Vaticanus of the century of Jerome or in the Hexapla of Origenes one hundred years later.

Someone who was a watchman of Ephraim was a believer in God and had a relationship with Him just like the prophet Hosea, but he set a trap for himself upon all his ways and the endresult is that there is hatred in the house of God (verse 8). The verse was translated with various nuances by other old translations: The Jewish Targum read "He that watch the house of Israel that endure to them worshipping the idol. To their prophets that are traps spread upon all their ways, multiplying the weight in the house of the sanctuary of their God."

It appears from the translations of the private Greek translations of Aquila and Symmachus in this verse that they read exactly the same in the Hebrew and in the Greek. Aquila dropped out one word in the beginning namely the word "God". Differing in choice of vocabulary as Symmachus is all the way in the previous verses between verses 3-7 it is now remarkable that he agrees exactly with Aquila in Greek and Hebrew forms! We suggest that on the basis of the fact that he was tired as we could see previously, Symmachus in 170 CE decided to just copy Aquila (130 CE) in this verse with the understanding that everything looked normal for him in both Greek and Hebrew. Why did Aquila drop the word "God" from his translation?

We suggest again that it was a mishearing on the part of Aquila or an acoustic error. It happened in the following way:

              guttural mem  guttural mem

                   similarity of sounds

Result: Due to the fact that the sounds in the ending of the word "Ephraim" and the word "with us" is the same therefore Aquila did not hear the two separate words. He heard only "Ephraim". Because the word for "God" is not read here with the /m/ at the end, therefore Aquila thought he heard "unto me". It means that the reader read perfectly well but that in the ear of Aquila the similar sounds merged into only one word with the omission of the preposition. His Hebrew reader did read the word for "God" in the original but Aquila again heard wrongly and thought he heard "unto me".

It is impossible that Symmachus had also a Hebrew reader and that he also heard wrongly and that he translated by chance the same as Aquila. It is better to see this error in Symmachus due to cross-mutation or consultation of Aquila's translation of 130 CE.

In superficial evaluation it appears as if both Aquila and Symmachus dropped the word "God" but in actual fact it was in their Vorlage. The preposition that was also in Aquila's Vorlage was "swallowed up" by the similarity of the sounds. It is the preposition that was omitted.

Somebody from Ephraim with a bad spirit and attitude was working with the prophet in the house of God. That is why he is "with the God of the prophet". However, he was an undercover agent that set traps for the prophet upon all his actions there. He caused a lot of suspicion and mistrust to go around in the house of God. There was thus a lot of hatred in the house of God. This watchman is supposedly also worshipping the same God as the prophet but he was cunning and used all political traps to catch the prophet. The translation of Jerome is the other way around since he voweled the consonantal text differently than we did. It is also grammatically correct to read it according to the translation of Jerome. In Jerome's Latin translation the watchman and Hosea are in the same camp as opposed to a bad prophet that goes around setting traps. In our translation the watchman is in the same religion as the prophet but his spiritual life is lacking and he cause a lot of problems in the house of the Lord. The Targum also read it like Jerome namely that it is the prophets who are bad. The Greek of the fifth century CE read it the same way as we did in our translation and opposed to the Vulgate and the Targum. The consonantal text of the Hebrew are the same but their word divisions and voweling are different giving rise to these problems. The letters of the Hebrew manuscript was definitely written in scriptio continua since the Greek translator of the fifth century CE misread a character but pulled the first word of verse 9 into the translation of the last word of verse 8. Scholars are posing the problem that the supposedly earlier manuscripts of Qumran does not read scriptio continua and they are right. This brings us to the uncomfortable position that the textcritical evidence point to the opposite direction. We are reminded, much to the dismay of Birnbaum Albright and others, of the Middle Age Hebrew scholar Solomon Zeitlin's position that the Qumran scrolls should be dated to the Middle Ages. The Syriac also interpreted the prophet as the bad one in the house of the Lord. On the basis of the previous verse and this verse A. Weiser do not want to see Hosea as part of the prophets (contra Sellin, Eissfeldt and Rost). We do think that he was part of the prophets. Weiser was probably led by translations like the Syriac, Targum and Vulgate for his opinion here. Since Hosea is very positive about the function of a prophet in Hosea 12:10 therefore we cannot accept the position of Jerome, the Syriac, Targum, and that of A. Weiser.

People have corrupted the watchman of Ephraim. God shall remember their iniquity and He shall visit their sins (verse 9).

"They have made deep his corruption like the days of Gibeah. He shall remember their iniquity. He shall visit their sins."

God looked at the remnant and He found spiritual Israel like grapes in a desert originally however they went to separate themselves from God unto shame and abominations (verse 10). "Like grapes in the desert I have found Israel. Like the first fruit of a figtree in its beginning, I saw your fathers. They, they went Baal-Peor and separated themselves to shame. And abominations were like their love."

The Syriac text is leaving out the word "in its beginning". The editors of the BHS in the lower register suggest that we should delete it, but this is not necessary. The Syriac translation has its own set of problems as we have indicated above. A method that is running after every variant in the process of penetrating to the original is not worth looking at. What we mean by this is that scholars who find variants in the versions and now suddenly wants to readjust the consonantal text of the Masoretic tradition to that variant that they have found are not reliable in their methodology. It is like a "reed in the wind".

The interesting situation here in the original is that there is no preposition "to" or "unto" after "they went". It simply reads "they went Baal-Peor". Another option will be to translate "Baal" as a combination of two prepositions "in" + "upon" and then to render the verse: "they went in upon Peor". Jerome seemed to understand the verse as "". He translated "they went in to Beel-Peor". Following strictly the original consonantal text of the Masoretic tradition here, we cannot accept Jerome here at all. If we look at the translation of Jerome it appears as if he translated ??? "Baal" not as "Baal" but as "Beel". This is peculiar in Jerome's reading since in Hosea 2:10 he translated a similar form as "Baal". We can only conclude that he read ??? which is a combination of two prepositions "in" + "unto". In his translation both these prepositions can be found see intraverunt ad Beelphegor. It also seems as if Jerome not only misread the one letter in the original but also translated double so that "in" + "ad" = "Beel". The same situation of a double translation can also be found in the Greek translation of the fifth century CE linking Jerome and that Greek translation undoubtedly in a faulty Hebrew manuscript of a Qumran kind that both consulted in this verse. Similar to Jerome the Greek translation of the fifth century CE read in Hosea 2:10 "Baal" but in Hosea 9:10 they both read " Beel". The consonantal text of the Masoretic tradition read it the same form in the Hebrew for both verses and each time only single. In the lower register of the BHS there is no reference at all to this important variant. What should the reader do when versions go against the consonantal reading of the Masoretic tradition? Change the Masoretic tradition? Not at all. The versions have all their own problems and idiosyncracies and are at times quite inconsistent also in their transmission history. Qumran has shown at least that some manuscripts are 100% if not 99% exactly the consonantal text of the Masoretic tradition. This evidence of reliability counteracts any attempt to ad hoc change the consonantal text of the Masoretic tradition.

God is describing here how He found Israel in His first meeting. It was a pleasant experience, but their ancestors went to the Phoenician god and separated themselves from God. Their love was for another god and their abominations was the same. "Ephraim: like a bird she flew back and forth their glory. From the birth and from the womb and from the conception" (verse 11). The Targum translated the last part of the verse as: "and upon that which is withholding their steps from not to be visible in the house of my sanctuary."

Ephraim was like a bird doing trading back and forth in Sidon and Tyre. Their own creations and inventions were sold on the markets of other countries, especially the Phoenicians. This was Ephraim's habit and their ancestors habit from birth, no from the womb no from conception. Here the thought is penetrating to the origin of the sin. It is not only since birth but earlier. In the stages of Ephraim or Israel's conception already there was sin.

Here we have a description of the origin of human sin. It goes further than only birth. It is since conception. There is a human depravity that everyone inherits, no matter how beautiful and cute the baby. But one should not misunderstand the concept of sinful babies or babies sinning because that is why other denominations other than Adventists developed the infant baptism, namely, to "trick" God with miraculous water cleansing the baby from the original sin of Augustine theories so that the baby will not go to hell before he/she is an adult if the baby should die. Depravity means degenerative genes and mortality. Sin enters the picture case by case when a person becomes choice accountable.

Mortality started with Adam and even the good dies and sometimes even before they had the choice of accountability for sin (verse 12). "For if they shall bring up their sons, also I bereave them. From Adam. For also woe unto them in my departing from them."

My translation is here unique in rendering "from Adam". This is not unusual for the book of Hosea since he has talked about Adam before in Hosea 6:7. It is strange why Jerome did not keep consistent to his own rendering since in that verse he also translated it as Adam. Here he translated it as "from a man". The Septuagint did the same as Jerome and translated it as "out of a man".

The wages of sin is death and that is the point in this verse and the previous one. Even if the babies are born and brought up, they all must die one day. This is the way from Adam. Due to Adam's sin all men die. Added to this natural death is the woe when God is departing from them. That will be eternal death.

When God looks at Ephraim, it is shocking that they are also beautiful like Tyre is a pleasant place in a good planted environment but Ephraim is involved in idolatry (verse 13). "Ephraim: like when I saw unto Tyre planted in a pleasant place and Ephraim, in order to lead out unto slaughter his sons."

The Septuagint had problems with this verse. The difficulty of the Hebrew made them see other similar letters. For the Masoretic text lswr stwlh bnwh the Greek probably read lsyd stw lhm bnyh. There is a /m/ that is added, the /w/ matres lectiones is changed to /y/ and the /r/ is changed to /d/, a problem that was already prevalent in verse 2 above. The Septuagint could not make sense out of the verse so they invented there own way out. This was not done by Jerome in his translation and surely is also not necessary here. As we have explained, this is the format of a geronti and thus perfectly acceptable under that condition.

"Slaughter" and "Tyre" stands into a synonymous relation here. The repetition is here that of an old man. He thinks of Ephraim, say it and then make a fluctuation to a beautiful city Tyre (as a footnote) and then take up the first thinking again with "and Ephraim" in comparison will lead out his sons to slaughter. It is known that Menahem ripped open the bellies of pregnant women (2 Kings 15:16) in 754 BCE.

Shocked, Hosea is praying that their punishment shall be death and no children (verse 14). "Give them O Lord. What will you give? Give to them wombs that are bereaving and breasts that are dry."

The punishment that Eve got for her sin was that she will give birth in pain. The punishment that is thought of here is that no children should be born. The editors of the Hebrew text in the lower register of the BHS thought that this verse should be deleted and ask the question whether this whole verse was not added later? This higher-critical approach is out of place here.

God hates their wickedness and on account of this wickedness He will punish them by driving them out of His house (verse 15). "All their wickedness in Gilgal for there I hated them. Upon the wickedness of their actions, I will drive them from my house. Not shall I gather their love. All their princes are revolters."

Gilgal was a school for the prophets where Elisha use to teach the prophets, see 2 Kings 4:38. This was shortly after the Battle at Qarqar against Shalmanezer III in 853 BCE. Something must have happened there in Gilgal for it is there that God hated them. It seems as if the theological school lost its divine dignity. The price of syncretism with other religions was too high. God said that He will drive them from His house. He will not collect their love for Him. Their princes are revolters. It is known that Jehu of Israel was a revolter before the time of Hosea. Menahem of Israel was a revolter who killed Shallum and made himself king during the days of Hosea. In fact, when Amaziah of Judah was killed the people crowned his son Uzziah at the age of 16. He came to power by revolution too in the young days of Hosea. Pekah came to power due to the assassination of Pekahiah in 743 BCE. Hoshea killed Pekah. Hosea was by now approximately 53 years old. It could be that this last date is the one that cause Hosea to make the statement.

Indeed all the rulers of Israel during the period of the Syro-Ephraimite war 731-729 BCE were revolters or assasins.

And then the punishment came: smitten and dried out (verse 16). "Smitten is Ephraim. Dried up is their root. Fruit they shall not make. For also they shall bare and I slay those whom they love of their wombs."

Here is again a case of a Phoenicianism in the use of the negative particle bly. There is a nun-paragogicum attached to the verbal suffix.

Ephraim is smitten. The past tense indicates that the action of destruction took place. The fall of Samaria was in 721 BCE. It could be that in this verse Hosea is looking back to the destruction and captivity of the Israelites. That is why they are "smitten". They are like a dry plant pulled out and cast away. Even though they might bare children, they will also die. If this is the day when Menahem carried out his killings of the pregnant women of Tappuah, then that would be in 754 BCE. It is as if there is telescoping here: the action is already carried out and the simile is that they are like a plant. But the question is: what if they bare children again, will the plant not grow again? The answer is that those will (future) also be slain.

Hosea is very concerned because he says that God will cast them away for they did not listen to Him and migrationism is awaiting them (verse 17).

Hosea is talking here and saying that God will cast them away for they did not listen to Him. Their punishment is that the will be wanderers among the nations. In 721 BCE with the fall of Samaria, they became wanderers to Assyria. Those who fled to safety in Egypt became also wanderers.


Dear God

Migrationism is everywhere today and is one of the signs of the end-times in Isaiah 25. But, people do not listen to God and fair enough that is also true around the globe. Grant that we will keep listening to Your word and not also caught-up with spiritual deafness. Amen.