Devotional Commentary on Hosea 2


Already in the middle of the eighth century, Hosea is speaking of the book written by Moses ca. 1470 CE, namely Genesis, as: "It is written". Genesis was a written document that Hosea consulted, knew of or expounding from here. In Hosea 2:1 Hosea said: "it is written" (Hosea 2:1) and this is a reference to Genesis 22:17. Hosea said: "it is in the place which He said to them: You are not my people". The Jewish Targum elaborated with extras to say that they did not keep God's law that is why they are not His people. God promised to Abraham at his calling in Genesis 12:2, and 7 that He will give him many descendants. He repeated this promise in Genesis 15:5. In Genesis 16:10 He promised Abraham that He will give him so many descendants that nobody will be able to count them. In Genesis 17:6 He promised to Abraham that he will have so many descendants that they will become nations. It is in Genesis 22:17 that we find the metaphors that is similar in Hosea 2:1. It reads that He promised: I will increase your descendants like the stars in heavens and like the sand which is on the shores of the sea. Here is a fluctuation of God's speaking to Abraham on mount Moriah in Genesis 22 and His speaking to Israel in the days of Hosea. In all probability the giving of a name to a child took place in the Temple and it was in this temple mount (same as mount Moriah?) that God instructed Hosea to call his child "Not My people". That is why Hosea is saying that it is in the place meaning in the same place as He spoke to Abraham about his descendants. Fluctuating back to Genesis 22 it was in that time of Abraham the intention of God to call them "Sons of the living God". Hosea is saying that at the same place God said that they will be as the sand of the sea, the same place that He said to them that they are the sons of the living God, in that same place God is now in the days of Hosea saying: "You are not my people".

In verse 2 Hosea focused on the future times. This verse and probably the last part of the previous verse, namely, He said to them: Sons of the living God, should be read as one sequence and event. This is a little window into the future when God will judge in the Valley of Jehoshapat (Joel 4:2). The same motifs as are dealt with by Joel are briefly rehearsed here in this pericope. The book of Joel is dealing with an eschatological day in future (Joel 1:1). This is a contrary interpretation as that of Van Dolson who attempted to see "Joel feels that the awful plague will live in the people's memory for many years to come - they will even be telling their great-grandchildren about it" (B. J. Van Dolson, Prophets are People believe it or not [1974], page 24).It does not say that that they will tell in the future about it. The prophet Joel is asking them to tell about it. Whether they will tell about it is another issue. To understand that they will tell in future is to claim that the event already took place. In the light of verse 2 it is clear that this event in Joel 1:1 did not take place yet, at least the one that Joel is seeing in his mind. Plagues were common in Palestine but Joel is not a newspaper reporter. Similar to C. van Leeuwen is the acceptance that "locusts and draught in Joel i are only the prelude of the Future Day" (C. van Leeuwen, The Prophecy of the Yom Yhwh in Amos v 18-20. Oudtestamentische Studien part XIX [1974], page 128.

Viewing the description of Joel as a window to the day of executive judgment in the valley of decision or judgment, one can now proceed to see that Joel is speaking of an approaching God who is coming closer and closer to Zion as he proceeds in the book mentioning Zion seven times. Later God is on mount Zion and people are gathered as well as His people. He makes war with the enemies of His people. He will eventually be their ruler and they will live forever close to Him. This is the content of the book of Joel, not some kind of a description of a locust plague in the past or a terrible drought in Palestine (contrary to I. H. Eybers, Twelve Theocratic Testimonies [1977], page 8, and 80 footnote 5). Also contrary to Weiser, Fohrer, Rudolph, and Young. These are all preteristic interpretations that attempt to circumvent the imperfect forms of the verbs in the original of these verses. It is not that Joel experienced some terrible locust plague and now wants to pull some elements of this experience through to a description of the day of the Lord; it is rather the opposite, he saw the day of the Lord in vision and now are trying to find comparisons in the agricultural life of Palestine to compare it with. That is a different ball-game namely it is as if the scholars are trying to put the cart before the horses.

Hosea's personal frustration is indicated in verse 4 with his wife's bad fornicating habits and he complained to his children. Here we are dealing with the life of Hosea. In this chapter Hosea started with a text from Genesis 22 with the covenant of God to Israel (descendants of Abraham) and he then proceeds with God's rejection of Israel. Immediately after that Hosea still opened another window into the eschatological future (so well formulated in Joel and Psalm 46) speaking of a unification of Judah and Israel under one ruler in the valley of decision or Jezreel. He then took stock of his own personal life. From promise to judgment to hope to frustration in his own personal life, Hosea fluctuates his message dealing with different time zones.


A Diagram to illustrate Hosea's fluctuation of his message in different time zones

Abraham's time (2165 BCE) promise                   2:1a; 2:1b

Hosea's time 721 BCE      judgment                  2:1c

Eschatological End Time    hope   2:1d; 2:2a; 2:2b; 2:2c; 2:2d; 2:3

Hosea's time 721 BCE     frustration in personal life    2:4a; 2:4b

As a punishment for her wrong deeds, Hosea suggested death (verse 5). It is true that Hosea experienced some form of trauma with the relation of his wife. This problem is an age old problem ever since the fall of man from the garden of Eden. Even in the garden of Eden, Eve had mixed feelings that confused her relation not only with God but also with her husband. When a person marries a wife that person is taking her "as is". No matter what the background, or history of the person, there is always a new start or a new beginning. On the basis of the past it is not always possible to predict the future when it comes to human beings. It is possible for an alcoholic to be fully recovered from his illness. It is possible for someone to change his/her life and adopt new styles and directions. It appears that in the case of Hosea the past experiences of his wife haunted her and sent her back to her own habits. We are not sure whether it is one incident or many, but Hosea was placed under severe stress. In this particular verse the punishment that is described here is one that is similar to ancient Mesopotamian laws regarding dishonesty of the wife in the family life.

In the code of Hammurabi (1792-1750 BCE) the following grounds for divorce were given: 1. if she persisted in going out 2. if she acted as a fool 3. if she has wasted her house 4. if she has belittled her husband. The punishment in the case she is involved in a extra-marital affair is that both she and the man involved must be strangled and thrown into the river (paragraph 129). Most of these harsh laws were just on tablets and were not carried out in this extreme. Circumstantial evidence probably also played a role and the states control in the private life of citizens prevented them from carrying out these punishments to such an extreme. However, even in modern times there is a scale of punishment possibilities. The punishment for causing the death of another person is also death but can be scaled down to a mere monetary situation depending on the circumstances and other factors. Thus, what Hosea is doing is to recall the severest form of punishment. Just as the Hammurabi law ascribed to such a situation death in the severest form of punishment, so in his day in 721 BCE Hosea also present the legal situation of his day as death as the severest form of punishment.

The sons that will be born after these fornicating relationships, Hosea will not take care of (verse 6).It is possible that the law requires Hosea to take care of the children of such a mother, but in this case Hosea is trying to indicate that they were not his children but the children of the men who fornicated his wife. The children are not accountable for their status. They had no choice in life at that early stage except the competative struggle to be the first sperm to reach the ovum. Hosea is not displaying the model way of dealing with children born in such a state.

He is here representing the legal harsh position in the society of his day against children of such a birth in this particular case. It is a bit of family law and the law of inheritance that is recounted here. This was what was his legitimate right to do but that does not mean that Hosea ever went so far to do it or that he will do it. It also does not mean that God wants him to do it. In similar vein does this not mean that it is the spiritual right way to deal with the situation. We have an emotionally unstable Hosea here that has a vendetta against his wife and are now blasting out against adopted children of his that belonged to her.

Hosea indicated to the sons that their mother is confused and that she wants to follow her lovers who gave her all kinds of gifts (verse 7). The Targum translated it not as the personal wife of Hosea but as spiritual Israel: "Because polluted is their assembly after the prophets of the lie, confused is their teachers". Here are three categories of domestic life portrayed: basic requirements of daily support of energy of the body; textile industry for clothing, fashion and protection of the body; cosmetics and medicine. It is almost as if Hosea's wife is plagued with the Lot's-wife-syndrome. We do not know the financial position of Hosea and maybe he was economically handicapped for some time that caused his wife to long for the better times she had in the past. The excuse to look for bread and water is a very legitimate one. If she is longing for bread and water, did she not get it from Hosea? It is as if this was a domestic dispute between him and his wife where she said to him that she wants to go since he does not supply the house with the basic commodities. We are not giving the wife a license or any wife a license to leave the husband who is in such a situation. We are only analyzing the situation to see also Hosea's economical status. If it is true about Hosea's economic situation it does not justify her actions but it does tip the scale of justice in this situation a bit. It is such circumstantial evidence that could lead a court to down-scale the severity of the punishment in a similar case.

Hosea wants to obstruct her potential for returning on these bad ways (verse 8). Fencing people in is only a metaphor and definitely not a model way God wants Hosea to treat his wife good or bad. Nobody should be robbed of their freedom of choice even if it is a choice to the bad. The choice is free even if it is captivated by Satan or his forces. Mechanical control to subdue an adult is used by society to deal with dangerous criminals and psychological dangerous people. The choice of a woman to follow her old time lovers is not in this category. The symbol of thornbushes is familiar in the ancient world in the nomadic system of controlling the domestic animals and protect them from wild animals outside such a structure. Somehow the language in this verse seems to indicate that it is not the desire of Hosea but rather the words of the mind of God that is given to us here.

This is the modus operandi of God when He desires to rescue a soul from the claws of Satan. The reason that we know this is God's words not Hosea's, is because the next verse contains a word for conversion. One can see her conversion action in the next verse as a result of a futile search for her past lovers. Hosea's previous language was couched in somewhat extreme legal language of punishment for his wife to the point of death. However, in this verse, we find a softer approach of someone (only divine) who is able to control the situation more effectively than Hosea wanted it to be. And this is the main lesson of this verse, namely, that in similar situations, humanity is to call upon God to block the way for such an individual to find what that individual is looking for. God can do that as He did with the wife of Hosea. The legal punishment of Hosea's time is not necessary in this case. The powerful interception of God leads to a conversion as we shall see in the next verse. If one weighs the value and effect of a legal approach with that of a spiritual divine interception in the life of a problem individual then the spiritual interception is above that of the administering of laws. We must not fool ourselves with the idea that Hosea was so desperate that he wanted to lock her in her room and throw-away

the key. If we want to make this the words of Hosea then we are creating an image of Hosea who is extreme to death on the one side and anxious to confine on the other. It will mean that Hosea succeeded in his attempt and what did he really do? Placed her in her room, locked her up? No, definitely not. This is a spiritual warfare in which Hosea couldn't do anything and only God could do something as He did.

In verse 9 he said that his wife ran after her lovers, could not find them, and decided like the prodigal son in Luke 16 to return to her husband.

The return decision is described by the Targum as: "go and return to the worship of my Lord before her because good is it to me when the worship was before me. From now on not will I serve idols". As Eichrodt so correctly observed, the word for conversion is used in this verse and it also features well in the preaching of Jeremiah (Eichrodt, II, page 67). And that is exactly what happened here. The wife of Hosea ran into a major wall of circumstances not achieving anything and came to her senses. She realized that Hosea was very good to her and still is. She realized that even though they do not have it so bright economically, yet her husband was good to her. She decided to return and this word return is the word for conversion. The prodigal son in the gospels and in the story of Jesus also came to his senses in a similar way and said that he wanted to return to his father.  

Hosea then explained that all the grain and wine [grape juice/jams] and oil came from him: And she did not acknowledge that it is I, I who gave to her the grain and the wine (grape juice) and oil and that I placed to her silver and gold that they made unto a Baal" (verse 10). A Qumran manuscript survived from cave four. It is called 4Q166 or 4QpHosa. "I who gave her the grain" survived and is reading the same as the Masoretic text. "That I placed on her and gold which they made" also survived. There follows then a commentary that is preteristic in interpretation looking at the history of Israel and applied it to the verse. In line 2 until line 6 the interpretation of verse 10 reads: "The interpretation of it is] that [they] ate [and] were satisfied, and they forgot God who [had fed them, and all] his commandments they cast behind them, which he had sent to them [by] his servants the prophets. But to those who led them astray they listened and honored them [   ]and as if they were gods, they fear them in their blindness". This interpretation probably did not satisfy the composer since he left a line open after this interpretation and the beginning of the citation of verse 11. Was he planning to come back later and add something else before verse 11? Why did he left a line open? The interesting situation is here that the interpretation is made that the female in this verse is not the wife of Hosea but Israel. Israel is not mentioned in this verse but only the feminine third person singular suffix "she". In our interpretation we do not follow this line of thinking. We keep this verse very literal and apply it to the life of Hosea. So far we have been following the life of Hosea and there was not a hint in the previous verses that the shift should be made to Israel. Verses 7-10 is a depiction of the life of Hosea and seems rather applicable directly to his personal relation than to corporate Israel. However, the application to "Israel" was made very strongly in the Targum and the personal life of Hosea is shifted in that translation totally in the background or nowhere at all. This phenomenon that can be found only in Jewish works of the Middle Ages is relevant for the question of the origin of some of the Qumran scrolls. It would at least opt for a Jewish background for this pesher and not a Christian one.

About sixteen pesharim on the Old Testament survived from the Qumran caves: six on Isaiah, three of the Psalms, one each of Hosea, Micah and Zephaniah, four of Nahum and Habbakkuk (Bo Isaksson, "Biblioteket" in The Qumran Seminar [Department of Asian and African Languages, Uppsala University:, 1998].

Here Hosea is speaking taking stock of his good deeds. All the things she was using in her wrong doings came from him. In modern times the husband will say that she did not realize that the credit cards were paid by him that she used for her exquisite and expensive entertainments and holidays with her lovers. Hosea is tapping himself on the shoulder for the good things he did to his wife. The situation seems to change now. His wife was touched by God and she came to her senses and wanted to come back. Yet Hosea is still playing his old violin in the same tune.

Hosea is not saying that the silver was placed on her. Many interpreters think that it refers to jewelry that was hanged around her neck or the like. Not for one moment is there a sanction of the idea that Hosea hanged jewelry on his wife. The preposition /l/ in this case is "to" and not "on". Anybody trying to hunt for a prooftext for jewelry in a love-relationship, certainly will not find that in this verse. He placed the silver that he received on the markets for the selling of their products which he worked very hard to produce "to her" since she was the owner of the estate. Silver served as monetary instruments in the exchange for goods and it is in that context that the silver was obtained. None of the old versions support the idea that Hosea hanged silver jewelry "on" his wife.

Anybody acquainted with the history and developments of jewelry through the ages will know that adornments are hardly ever only innocent decorations. Even modern jewelry are very symbolic with religious themes borrowed from ancient cultures: from Christianity comes Jesus, or the cross, a fish or Mary and the child; from the Roman religions and Greek religions comes various motifs, Eros, Apollo or Cupido; from the Egyptian religions are some of their gods, the eye or the ankh. Snakes are sometimes very popular and is of course fully entrenched in the witchcraft religions of Africa. Astral motifs are also very popular as for instance the star of David.

Now the point is this: if these ornaments are innocent beautifiers for our female partners, why will a Jewish female not wear a little Buddha in her ear, or an ornament of Jesus or the cross around her neck? Why do Christians not wear jewelry of Buddha around their neck or in their ears? The artist of jewelry is a carrier of a baggage of content and he/she present to modern society that which they pulled out of ancient societies.

Sometimes lovers exchange gifts to each other and in the absence of the other partner, they "kiss" and "hug" the objects as if the objects are now identical to the lover. It is this phenomenon that God dislikes: that objects replace the person. Love is not around your neck, in your ears, on your fingers. It is in the mind and that is where it should be. Love do not need objects to remind people that they love. We do not need fetish objects to remind us of our love-relation with our lover.

Hosea intends to take back his gifts (verse 11). It is the private parts of a women that is meant here (see the Anchor Bible, page 246). 4Q166 from Qumran read also the phrase "Therefore I will return and I will take my grain in its time and my grapejuice/new wine". The reading is exactly the same as the Masoretic text with minor long vowels added as was the custom with the use of matres lectiones as vowels. Also the phrase "I will save my wool and my linen in order to cover" also survived and read the same as the Masoretic text. An interpretation is given in this fragment from Qumran lines 12-14 "The interpretation of it is that He smote them with famine and with nakedness so that they became a disgra[ce] and a reproach in the sight of the nations on whom they had leaned for support, but they will not save them from their afflictions" (Translation that of M. Horgan).

See especially the next verse of the Targum from 1654 by Walton which included a variant interpreting the same way. The composer of the Qumran fragment interpreted this verse as if the actor in the drama of this verse is not Hosea but God. The grain, wine and wool that will be witheld is interpreted as a famine that God sent to Palestine. We do not follow this interpretation since the emotionally sarcastic words "in order to cover her private parts" is not only unnecessary as description, but is language that one would not expect God would used in talking about His relation with Israel. What about the men and their sex organs? This is an emotionally upset Hosea who sarcastically exercise his legal rights in the extreme.

It will become clear in this chapter that the actions of God are in contrast to these of Hosea. We thus do not follow the interpretation of the composer of the Hosea pesher or commentary from cave four at Qumran.

Hosea is still angry despite her conversion. He is swearing or using foul language in the presence of his children. He is emotionally in an uncontrolled state. In Hosea 2:4 he said that the children must judge between him and their mother in her field. The expression "field" is interesting. It could mean that the field originally belonged to his wife and that he was the usus fructus of her property. That is why he can claim now in a future harvest a percentage back as renumeration for the losses he made with her. He was the farmer on her property. His actions are rather desperate. If the property was his, there is no reason for him to say he is going to claim something from his own harvest. It is because of the special contractial relation that Hosea find himself in with his wife that he has to make these claims. The Samaria Ostraca (if dated to the same time as the events described in this book) can give additional information. In those Ostraca the senders or tenants are sometimes Israelites but the owner is a Phoenician. Sometimes the senders or tenants were Aramaized Phoenicians. It serves to proof that Hosea's wife could have been an Aramaean with Phoenician affinities who possessed the land but Hosea was the tenant who worked on it. That is why she is standing in "her land" Hosea 2:4 (Van Wyk, K., "The Samaria Ostraca," in Archaeology in the Bible and Text in the Tel [Berrien Center, Michigan: Louis Hester Publications, 1996], 238-248).

Hosea is so emotionally upset that he wants to exhibit her naked to her lovers (verse 12). It will be seen from the translation of Horgan in his presentation of the text from Qumran that he left out the "and" in the beginning of the verse. In our collation of the copy of the photo from the internet, we have to conclude that the waw-consecutive can be clearly seen at the beginning of the verse. This is not the only case where there is an error with Horgan. See also our discussion below at verse 14.

As the Anchor Bible pointed out, the word that we translated as "private parts" is a hapax legomenon in the Bible. It means that this word appears only one time in the Bible. The Akkadian form close to this is bastu/baltu which is sexual power or genitalia (Anchor Bible, page 248).

Hosea is really out of control. Called by God for a message to his nation and people he now find himself in deep waters and unable to swim. We do not know whether he experienced a personal low ebb in his life. here. One thing is certain, his wife did convert but he is not acknowledging that at all. He is planning a humiliating exhibitionism in front of her previous lovers and apparently he was a strong man since he roam that no-one will be able to save her from his hand. In 4Q166 from Qumran the phrase "now I will open her private parts to the eyes of [her] lo[vers and] no [-one] is there to save her" is also preserved. It reads again the same as the Masoretic text in lines 10-11 of that manuscript. In the previous verse we have quoted the interpretation or pesher that follow the citation of the text in the fragment. It is applied to God who caused Israel to become a disgrace in the sight of the nations of whom they leaned for support but of whom there is none to save them. Again, there is not the word "Israel" in this verse and the language is so distasteful that it is rather the swearing of an emotionally disturbed human than that of the divine. We will not follow 4Q166 in its interpretation in lines 12-14 of that fragment.

Similar to the interpretation in this verse of the Qumran fragment is the Targum reference that he will reveal her ignorance "to the eyes of the nations". None of the other old translations read this interpretation and it is strikingly the same as the Qumran fragment.

That we do have a case here of action which is not in the will of God is clear from Hosea 3:1. At that verse God is explaining to Hosea to go and love the woman which he loved before because He keep loving Israel even though they have gone wrong against Him. This is the blueprint. This is the way Hosea is supposed to deal with his wife who decided to change her mind. Instead, Hosea wants to keep to the legal question and treatment of his wife. In the Sefire inscription of the eighth century BCE there is an interesting correlation saying: "And just as a prostitute is stripped naked, so may the wives of Matti' stripped naked" (ANET 660, part IA lines 40-41). This was the common Mesopotamian punishment for a woman of that category and Hosea knew he was acting within his legal rights. Society at large would not condemn him for his actions at that time. This desire to exhibit his wife's private parts in public is definitely not the same person who said in 2:8 that he will fence her in and block her ways. Hosea is legally right and spiritually wrong.

In verse 13 the Sabbath is mentioned: "And I cause to rest all her gatherings, her festivals, her new moon and her sabbath and all her feasts." In a fragment from Qumran, 4Q166 lines 14-15, this verse also survived. It reads "and I cause to rest all [her] gather[ings] her [new] moon and her sabbath, and all her seasonal festivals". The reading is the same as the Masoretic text with no deviation except minor matres lectiones that were used as vowels, a common feature in some manuscripts from Qumran. The interpretation follows the citation of the text: "The interpretation of it is that they make [the fe]asts go according to the appointed times of the nation. And [all joy] has been turned for them into mourning" (Translation by M. Horgan). The interesting thing is that this is a checklist of things that Hosea cause to stop. The composer of the fragment from cave four interpreted that the only thing that stops is the "joy" or in our reading "her gatherings". He interpreted that they still continue the feasts according to the appointed times of the nation. It is the joy that turned into mourning according to him. Festivals continue but joy became mourning. This interpretation of the pesher is contrary to the original of the text. In the text it is clear that everything in the list stops not only the first entry. We will not follow the reading of the interpreter at Qumran.

We may complain about the interpretation of the commentator from this cave, but one thing is clear, his Vorlage was exactly like our consonantal text of the Masoretic tradition.

One can see here that the text of the commentary from cave four at Qumran is no different than our consonantal text of the Masoretic text (of which the fullest manuscript is the Leningrad Manuscript dating to 1008/9 CE). Whatever date we are going to assign to Qumran manuscript, whether it is hundreds of years before this date (Solomon Zeitlin) or over a millennium (most scholars), the fact remains that at Qumran there was a text type that compares 100% with our current Hebrew text from which the English translations are usually made of. Even if scholars are trying to implicate that there were other text types (Hebrew texts with a more Septuagintal character; Hebrew texts with a more Vetus Latina character; Hebrew texts with a more Lucian Greek textual character) none of these traditions can be placed in such a strong relation as that between the Leningrad manuscript and the Hebrew texts with a Masoretic identity.

If two manuscripts show such strong identity as the textual type in this fragment of Hosea and the Hosea text of the Leningrad manuscript, you can assume that the original was also the same. If another text type shows only some resemblances of other later text types, not in every reading, not in every variant, but only in some, you can assume very confidently that this was not the original. Let us give an example. If a toy-artist designs a 1965 Mercedes Benz in 2001 and this toy compares exactly with another toy that was made of a 1965 Mercedes Benz in 1971, and if there was no contact between these two toy-artists, you can confidently declare that the form and shape of the toy of 2001 as well as that of 1971 is exactly the way the original designer designed the 1965 Mercedes Benz. If there is another toy on the market in 2000 which claims to be a replica of the 1965 Mercedes Benz, but it does not compare to the previous toy of 1971 in all aspects but do compare with some aspects (and note, only some aspects) of a 1980 toy (which happen to be also different than the one in 1971) then you can assume with great confidence that the one in 1980 and the other variant in 2000 which both claim to be a 1965 Mercedes Benz are not exactly the same as the original but are modifications of the original for whatever reasons. This is one of the scientific reasons why this commentary chose to see the consonantal text of the Masoretic tradition as the original.

Let us go into the detail concerning the variant surrounding the Sabbath because that is really what it is. It appears as if the phrase "and the Sabbaths of her" was not in the Septuagint of Origen's day. In the later Middle Ages and modern editions the phrase can be found though. Did Origen really used a proper "Septuagint" Greek text? If it was the "Septuagint" text, was it properly copied before it came into the hands of Origen? Fifty years before Origen, Justin the Martyr complained about additions and omissions that were done in the manuscripts in a mala fide way. In the same time as Justin the Martyr Theodotion made his translation which corresponds exactly to our consonantal text of the Masoretic tradition. It was a private copy though and not an ecclessiastical official text. It seems as if the preservation spirit of the church was in jeopardy in the first two centuries. The official text seems to have changed face as centuries progressed.

In the first option of Origen we have about this text, the Sabbath is not in the picture of something to be turned aside. We know that the observance of the First Day of the week started not in the first century CE but in the second century CE. As a prooftext this text could have caused some uneasiness which could have been the background for omitting it in that century but definitely not in any century preceding the second century CE.

In the second option of Origen, Sabbath is in the picture but it sounds as if it is any Sabbath (even holidays). Again this kind of omission could have found a place in the Sabbath-Sunday conflict of the second century CE.

In the third option of Origen the Sabbath and some festivals are not in the picture as items to be "turned aside". Again this could have had its origin in a Jewish-Christian debate of the second century CE.

All three our interpretations above are only valid if the text of Origen indeed contained the metobolus at one of those points. We do not know for certain.       

Catena 97 of the Middle Ages read it as if it is the Sabbaths that will be "turned aside". It appears as if this catena was copied by a Christian with the intention to demonstrate that the Sabbath will be turned aside and Sunday took its place. Catena 87 copied it the same way in the first reading but a corrector then came and saw the error and corrected the text. The correction of the text stands as a witness that catena 97 was a mistake similar to catena 87. It is highly unlikely that the original Septuagint text would have read it similar to catena 97.

Catena means "chain" and it is a putting together of biblical verses like a chain and this genre is not a formal biblical text but a functional biblical text. No conclusions may be drawn from them regarding the form of the original text.

Contenders for Sunday as a day of worship is using this verse as a prooftext for the rejection from the Lord of the Sabbath day. The sabbath that is in view here is not that of Israel but that of the wife of Hosea who was a Baal worshipper (Hosea 2:10; 15). We do not know which days they worshipped but the text definitely reads "her sabbath". The seventh day is the Lord's day not that of Hosea's wife. There is not even a hint that God is going to do away with the seventh day as a day of rest. The wife of Hosea was apparently rich since the field belonged to her and also the vineyard and the fig trees. She was a very social person and apparently she had many friends. She was the hostess for these meetings and some of the most noble and rich were connected to the religion of Baal. She probably followed her lovers to the Baal temple and brought some of the fruits of the land which her husband Hosea was tending and which she now was offering to Baal. It appears that she would excuse herself from her family and then go on a business. She took fruits and other precious metals with her and met secretly with her lovers at a temple of Baal. She had secretly sex with them and then out of gratitude she let the fruits and metals be taken to Baal. That was the one place where Hosea would not follow her and thus a convenient excuse for her to escape from her husband. Hosea was a hard worker and demanding as farming is, he was always busy. What really triggered off Hosea's anger with his wife is not clear and also not the time it happened. We have here two individuals who are married who have different interests in their lives. The one liked to stay home and tender the farm; the other liked to socialize and partake in the club-activities of the society. The one is attached to the religion of God and the other is attached to the religion of Baal. Hosea probably initially thought that this involvement of his wife in social affairs was simply because they are different in backgrounds. However, when he opened his eyes he found his wife estranged from him. Hosea is the one who is causing to stop all her festivities (social parties) her sabbath (day she took off to go to the Baal temple), her new moon celebrations in  the Baal religion, and all the other rituals and ceremonies that she participated in during the year.

There is evidence for these offerings and celebrations and sabbath days in the phoenician inscription of Azitawadda who worshipped Baal and boasted about all his achievements during his reign:

[And brought] offering yearly an ox.

[And brought] also in the [time of pl]owing a sheep.

[And brought] also in the time of reaping a sheep.

And Baal KR[N]TRYŠ blessed the day of Azitawadda.

In the above inscription it is clear that Azitawadda was complying to the expectations of Baal religion in his day. Yearly he would bring an ox, at the festivals for plowing a sheep and at the festival for reaping a sheep to all the images = lkl hmskt = TKSmh lKl (col. II line 19 and col. III line 1). Then it is added that Baal blessed the day of Azitawadda. This is taken to be a sabbath day that Azitawadda appointed for himself to provide gifts to his religion. It is "his day" not that of the god. To take this as a meaning that he blessed the "days of the reign" of Azitawadda would be strange in the light of a few lines further where it reads: "and all the gods of the city unto Azitawadda length of days." This last expression is a general character of his reign but the previous usage of "day" is a festival sabbath of Azitawadda. Festivals were at the appointed times as it reads in his inscription: in the times. Just like this text is speaking of the day of Azitawadda, so we interpreted this verse that this sabbath is her sabbath.

           Never in either the Old Testament or New Testament is there any evidence that God caused His holy Sabbath to be stopped and changed into another day. God's Sabbath is called "My holy day". It belongs to God and not to the wife of Hosea or any human being or any particular culture (Jewish nation). Somehow God is particular about the Seventh day, or Saturday since He promised that if one chooses not to do your business on His holy day then He will cause you to prosper (see Isaiah 58:13-14).

Isaiah 58:13

"If you keep back from the Sabbath your feet, to do your desire on the day of My Holines and you call to the Sabbath: 'special' to the Holy One: 'the Lord Who honors'"

Isaiah 58:14

"then you will be special upon the Lord 'and I will cause you to ride upon the heights of the earth and I will cause you to eat of the inheritance of Jacob your father,' for the mouth of the Lord spoke."

Nowhere in the New Testament is there any evidence that this situation was changed by Jesus or any of the apostles.

Even the words of Jesus "Man was not made for the Sabbath but the Sabbath for men" is not an cessation of the Sabbath or change of the Sabbath. It still speaks of "the" Sabbath, namely a particular one, not any one. Both the Sabbath and man is a creation by God and He has ownership over both human and time. However, Jesus is pointing out that if a human being and time is placed on a scale of importance for God, God will choose a human being. Jesus demonstrated that to do good on the Sabbath is not wrong. To work for the upliftment of people in need, without gratifying your own capitalistic desires is not wrong. Cessation from your daily routines is still a principle that shines out of these examples.

Certain points stand out very clearly in this issue:

1. Hosea and Isaiah were contemporaries and it is inconceivable that the one will speak of the Sabbath as a time worthy of remembering the Lord and the other one presumably speaking of a cessation of that same time.

2. The God of Hosea and the God of Isaiah is the same One and He will not encourage them to keep the Sabbath in one prophet and speaks of cessation of the concept of Sabbath by another prophet. In Africa we say: "His morning talking and evening talking are not the same." This is an idiom for the inconsistent person. This cannot be said of God.

3. The Sabbath of Hosea is called "her Sabbath" and the Sabbath of Isaiah is called "the day of my holiness". They cannot refer to the same day.

4. God was very direct and specific with His instruction pertaining to the Seventh Day Sabbath. If He wanted to change that situation to another day e.g. the First Day or Sunday, Jesus would have been very direct in His instructions too. To attempt to build a case for Sunday-worship as a substitution of Saturday-Sabbath by looking for apparent "hints" in that direction, is a fatal methodology. God does not "hint" an important message. He is direct and clear. The absence of clarity about a change of day simply means there never was a change as far as God is concerned.

5. If your concept of the "word of God" does not include the traditions of churchmen in later centuries, then it does not help to search for answers among the churchfathers as if they will clear up a dark picture. In the absence of any clear instruction to a change, are you now going to side with the churchfathers and change the day by yourself, if God does not do it? No human can change the Sabbath that was instituted by the Lord.

6. Some say that it does not matter. Apparently it does for God. Our citation of Isaiah supra clearly shows that God is particular about this one time zone in every week. The Sabbath reform of Nehemiah in Nehemiah 13:15-22 is clear evidence that the Lord cares about this time zone that starts on Friday at sunset until Saturday at sunset. No human being can ad hoc decides to change or "swop" the day with that of another.

We have to say something about the dangers in the methodology of Walther Eichrodt on this subject (see his  book: Theology of the Old Testament [London: SCM Press, 1967]). Eichrodt is operating with artificial hegelianism in his analysis of the theology of the Old Testament. Secondly, he operates with the formula that quantity of expression in the text represents volume of understanding in a particular time zone or period. He would use words like "gradually becoming" to describe phenomena in the text. This "growth of thought"- concept regarding God and his revelation is foreign to our methodology in this book. God's revelation does not grow in our understanding. Humans are incapable of always grasping the fullness that comes to them. Yet, even the representation of the fullness that the prophet received, how incomplete it may seem to us, is still the full word of God and the way He intended it to be. In our methodology we do not hunt for polaric thinking in the Old Testament: a time when they thought black and another time they thought white. The religious laws Eichrodt considers as records of revelation (311). He would then try to show that earlier there was a directness in the relationship with God but that later that directness became less important and devotion to the laws was seen as synonymous with a relationship with God. Psalm 119, the law chapter, and Isaiah 56:1-8 is seen as evidence to him that the direct relationship with God was becoming of less importance and that now the observance of cultic laws "in particular the commandment relating to the sabbath" became more important (ibid). This polarization of relation with God and observance of His laws is foreign to the Old Testament. In the Old Testament, it is relationship plus laws not only laws or only relationship. The Ancient Near Eastern mind could not think about relationships apart from the law.

Even in this very chapter you will find Hosea thinking legally. This compartmentalized concept of Eichrodt about relationship and law is a modern western fallacy that is governing and steering his axioms that forms part of his methodology. This is Eichrodt's thinking, not that of the Old Testament. Eichrodt is thinking that the Sabbath observance and importance of that has now supplanted the direct relationship with God. We are asking the question: after God created Adam and Eve and instituted the seventh day Sabbath, did He not walk in the evening wind with Adam and Eve in a direct relationship? Eichrodt missed the point that absence of information means actually presence of information and that elaborations of themes in the text means that there was a need to explain or an absence of proper understanding.

As far as the interpretation of Calvin is concerned, Calvin misunderstood the passage as directly referring to the Israelites and thus he interpreted it. He did not see the reference to the wife of Hosea and their domestic disputes. He said in his commentary:

The Prophet now descends to particulars; and, in the first place, he says, that the people would be deprived of their sacrifices and feast-days, and of that whole external pomp, which was with them the guise of religion. (Calvin's commentary on Hosea: ipb-e/epl-04/cvhos-05.txt).

It is true that the Israelites were deprived of their sacrifices and feast days by the exile but this is not an issue concerning the Israelite worship in this verse, but about the worship style of the wife of Hosea.

John Wesley said in his notes on this verse that "though they were apostate and fallen to idolatry yet they retained many of the Mosaic rites and ceremonies." He said that "the three annual feasts of tabernacles, weeks, and passover, all ceased when they carried captive, by Salmaneser" (John Wesley's commentary on Hosea: In the interpretation of John Wesley the feasts and other religious activities of the Israelites would cease at the time of the exile. He also interpreted the "her" as Israelites and the timing of these events as the


In an article by Robert Kraft of the university of Pennsylvania "Some Notes on Sabbath Observance in Early Christianity" (can be easily located in the search engines of the internet) he investigated the research of W. B. Bishai on Sabbath keeping practices in the early Coptic church. Bishai suggested that the early Coptic Christianity kept only the Sabbath and at the Council of Nicaea in 325 CE they adopted both Saturday and Sunday as a day of worship. He quoted Bishai as saying:

 It seems possible that Sabbath observance among the Copts in Egypt and Ethiopia may have passed through three stages:  1) Only the seventh-day observed--from apostolic times until the Council of Nicea; 2) Sunday and the seventh-day Sabbath both observed--from the Council of Nicea until perhaps a century two later; and 3) only Sunday designated as a day of public worship--a practice still observed today (Bishai, 31).

Kraft is criticizing Bishai's research for his (Bishai) use of the sources, namely that the Coptic-Arabic-Ethiopic ecclessiastical literature are opposed to the Greek-Latin-Syriac ecclessiastical literature regarding the issue of the Sabbath. Bishai concluded that only the Southern Christianity kept the Sabbath for a long time after the first century CE in which Kraft attempted to oppose him by showing that the very source that Bishai is using to support that statement from the Coptic is based on a Greek Vorlage or original. The words read:

Let the slaves (13) work five days, But on the Sabbath and the Lord's Day let them devote themselves to the church that they may be instructed in piety. The Sabbath, indeed, because God himself rested on it when he complete all the creation, and the Lord's Day because it is the day of the resurrection of the Lord.  Greek Apostolic Constitutions  VIII. 33.2: (11) but in Sahidic "Statutes" (12).

For the reference of Bishai to the chief Egyptian delegate at Niceae, namely, Athanasius, whose canons are dated around 366 CE, and his insistence that there is a necessity to keep both days, Kraft tries to argue that Egypt was primarily Hellenistic not Coptic. Kraft tries to push the Sabbath keeping importance in the Christian church later than 325 CE by referring to Timotheus Bishop of Alexandria who speaks in 381-385 CE about the importance to keep from sexual relations on the Sabbath and the Lord's Day because on these days the spiritual sacrifice (Lord's Supper) is served to the Lord. On the island of Cyprus at Salamis Epiphanius witness about the special place the Saturday Sabbath has alongside of Sunday as a day of Christian gathering (see his "Exposition of the Faith" 24 at the end of his Panarion which was completed in 380 CE. In the Greek form of the Didascalia tradition that dates according to Kraft probably to the fourth century CE there is evidence that Northern Christianity reminded their followers that they should not neglect the daily assemblies especially the Sabbath and Sunday days of rejoicing. The main thing is that both men, Bishai in his research of the Southern Christianity and Kraft in his defense for the Northern Christianity cites evidence that until at least late in the fourth century CE (the time of Jerome and Augustine) some practices of Sabbath keeping could still be found in Christianity.

Kraft concluded from his study of the sources: Both Hellenistic Egypt and the rest of the Hellenistic Christian East knew of the dual observance of Sabbath and Sunday in the 4th century, and had recorded its interpretation of what was meant by "Sabbath observance," in terms of "rest" and idleness. .... Is it possible to move behind the 4th century to determine how ancient this dual observance of Sabbath/Sunday may have been? Unfortunately, sources for Coptic Christianity prior to that date are not readily available.  But if we can trust those scholars who trace the "Egyptian Church Order" tradition back to Hippolytus and his Apostolic Tradition, the dual observance in Hellenistic Christianity may be at least as old as the early 3d-century and probably much older(23). 

Although it is not possible to determine with precision from what portion of early 3d-century Christianity Hippolytus had derived his traditions, it is probable that he spent his early life somewhere in the Hellenistic East (Alexandria or Antioch?) before he came to Rome (24).  Thus the dual observance may have been an established Eastern (Hellenistic) practice at the end of the 2d century.

Unfortunately, Robert Kraft fell victim to the very method he is denouncing. He claims that it is very difficult to reconstruct with precision what early Christianity exactly was in the second and third centuries because of the lateness of the sources that are preserved (and in this he is correct) but then ends his paragraph with the words of a possible dual observance established at the end of the 2nd century CE. It is our experience with patrology and sources involved in the study of church history, that comparisons between the manuscripts that survived of Ignatius, the Sheperd of Hermas and nearly every single church father has omissions, additions, reworkings, recastings, reinterpretations, "backreadings", assumed corrections so that Kraft's optimism is very dim to say the least. What we are saying is, is that proper understanding of church history of the second and third centuries stops in the fourth century CE which is the time of the oldest manuscripts that survived. Yes, copies of the second and third centuries CE literature are definitely a fourth century CE understanding of second and third centuries CE literature, but not the actual second and third centuries' literature. To use the argument of Kraft against himself, we do not know whether all Christians in the Northern and Southern groups accepted a dual observance in these centuries. Since Jesus was not a Sunday keeper and neither is there evidence that his apostles were, it is possible that Sabbath keeping Christians could be found in all parts of the Mediterannean and that only some factions adopted a dual practice and that very late. We do not know whether the anti-Sabbath attitudes of later centuries rested heavily on the hands of the editors to make their copies of earlier literature reflect this anti-Sabbath attitude attempting to read back their own change of Saturday to Sunday as worship day?

This is where our consideration of the translations of Hosea 2:11/13 comes in. Did Theodotion change the singular to a plural Sabbaths in this verse because he wanted the text to refer to the festival Sabbaths and not the Sabbath of the Lord? Was this verse absent in the Septuagint of Origen 240 CE because some copier could not accept that the Sabbath of the Lord could be turned over? Do the conflicting cases of additions of the signs by Origen in the sources give evidence that later scribes had problems with these concepts? Similarly, was the addition of the variant those by the Coptic an attempt to cancel a reference to the Seventh day Sabbath? As we have indicated the translation her Sabbath should not give any problems since it refers to her (wife of Hosea's) own days of worship in Baalism and not the Sabbath of the Lord in true worship.

Hosea then destroyed her fruit-trees (verse 14). Seemingly all the versions understood the involvement of Creation theology in this verse since in their own way each one attached one element from either Genesis 1:28 or 29. It is not wrong to connect the Creation Theology and the judgment theology per se. But what is wrong is to connect it in this verse. Elsewhere in the book of Hosea such connections were made and there is constant reference to either Adam or the fall of man and the Great Controversy theme. In this verse there is no application in any way. It is directed to the wife of Hosea and to her alone. It should only be interpreted in the personal life of Hosea.

Verse 14 at Qumran is for 4QpHosa according to the translation in English that was done by M. Horgan

Qumran Text lines 17 to 19 (Horgan's presentation)

17. [joy] has been turned for them into mourning. (14) AND I SHALL MAKE DESOLATE [HER VINE]



His translation missed one word so I should give the correction as:

Qumran English Translation lines 17 to 19

And I will destroy [her grapevines and her fig-trees] which she had said: a gift they are to me [which was given to me by my love]rs, and I will place them unto a wilderness and [the animals of the field] will eat them.

There are scholars who work around the clock trying to proof that the original text was either shorter or longer than the current Masoretic text or Hebrew text. They found evidence for that in the Septuagint and because similar readings are also found in Hebrew texts from Qumran, therefore the conclusion is made that the Hebrew text should be emended. Other scholars argue the opposite way. The Hebrew text is the original and the Septaugint and Hebrew texts from Qumran are emended texts from it. I follow the second group on this basis that if one is to follow the idea that this is a grey area and that it is up to the individual scholar what he wants to do with the reading, then one becomes a-normative. In such a case the norm center shifts from the outside to the inside of the scholar. Instead of an objective norm that controls the human it becomes a subjective norm designed and controlled by a human. God's word cannot be created by a committee or voted in by a majority. It is the Word of God because it is. It exists despite our analyses, our vote, our decision, our construction. It is true that the Hebrew texts from Qumran are older than the current Masoretic text and it is also true that some of the Greek manuscripts are earlier than the Masoretic text. However, the spectrum of variety amongst Greek manuscripts cannot be demonstrated in a similar way amongst the Hebrew manuscripts supporting the Masoretic text. Evidence for this can be found in the research of Benno de Rossi who collected many Hebrew manuscripts of the Middle Ages and compared its readings with that of the Vulgate, Syriac, and Greek texts. There are minor variants like the omission of a waw-copulative and so forth but none can compare to the quantity and variety of phenomena that one finds in the Greek manuscripts. The consonantal text of the Masoretic text is by far the most stable text and worth to be considered the original text. You can find the exact copy of 1008 CE at Qumran and this situation you cannot claim for any other version, translation or tradition.

In verse 15 a punishment for the worship of Baal is outlined. "And I will visit upon her the days of the Baals - which she caused to burn incense to them".

We end the verse here and the next section where God is speaking starts with the phrase: And to me said the Lord. This is not the way the Masoretes has divided the chapter and verse. None of the Greek and Latin translations follows our suggestion. However, analyzing the text we come to the conclusion that in this verse Hosea is still speaking about his wife just as he was doing in Hosea 2:10. From verse 16 God is speaking again and His words will be somewhat different than that of Hosea. Hosea is desperate, emphatic, extreme. God is patient, enduring and loving. This is the picture that we have of Hosea in this chapter. It is the contrast between God and Hosea in this chapter that causes us to allocate some verses to God and some to Hosea. It seems that commentators through the centuries has wrongfully allotted all the verses to God and pulled the metaphor through that God is speaking about Israel and that it is not the wife of Hosea any longer. Not so. Careful analysis shows that the treatment of Hosea of his wife is totally different than the way God is treating Israel. There is thus no place for a one-on-one similarity here and a one-for-the-other treatment of the two. God is not Hosea and his wife is not Israel. God is not the same to Israel as Hosea is to his wife. That is not to show the similarity but to show the difference. They may have experienced the same trauma but the modus operandi of solving the problem is different. In Hosea's domain there is no place for mercy, only the law. In God's domain there is place for both justice and mercy in equal manner.

In verse 16, Hosea let the Lord speak. This is not Hosea speaking here and neither is the previous verse God who is speaking. This verse is God who is the same voice who spoke in Hosea 2:8. God is not a psychopath who fluctuates from one personality to another. He does not speak anger and love in one breath. Whereas Hosea is angry and wants to solve the problem with his wife legally protecting his rights over his usus fructus of her property, God is romantic about Israel and is going to be the lover searching for sweet talk. Some interpreters would like to think that God is using the words of Hosea for his wife to speak about Israel and that here are many metaphors operative. That is not the case. God's dealing with love-related problems is far more exalted than what Hosea can ever profess to be. If Hosea ever had any intention in this description to find sympathy in the fact that he and God is suffering the same stress, then he surely fall short of the grace of God. This is the way God wants to solve the problem. It is so contrasting to that of Hosea who wants to strip his wife naked, who wants to expose her, who wants to let her die. Here is the covenant God speaking in a manner that we find also in Jeremiah where the law will be upon the hearts of the people.

In the lower register of the BHS [Hebrew text] there is no reference at all to any of these variants or their reconstructions, not even the versional renderings or support. The lower register of the BHS is best if it is ignored completely. The incompleteness, the inconsistency, the assertiveness to cut and paste the text ad hoc is evidence that it was done with haste and carelessness.

We find this place in Joshua 7:24-26. It is a description of the place where Israel executed Achan for stealing some remains after the war with Jericho. Achan's family was burnt and a heap of stones was put over his body in this valley. The place of execution is called the valley of Achor.

The meaning of achor is something that is taboo or not permitted. It could be that people did not travel through that valley due to its name.

However, God said He would change that valley into an open door meaning that people can go in or out of it. This valley was in all probability in the area of Jericho since that is where Joshua was when he received the news about Achan and it is from there that they took them to the valley of Achor. There are enough valleys in the area of Jericho that could qualify for this specific valley.

Hosea said: "And it will be on that day said the Lord that she will call me my man and not will she call to me any more my Baal". This section along with the other verses that follow is eschatological. It refers to the time of the end when the earth with the remnant saved is the symbolic bride that calls the Lord who is the bridegroom (well known in the stories of the gospels) "my man". It implies that until that time of the end there are situations that people call the Lord "my Baal". The Baal cult as such and the way we understand it in the history of religions, does not exist any longer. However, this verse indicates that Baal religion apparently operates with a metamorphosis so that it changed forms and continue to exist through the centuries. The question is now: what is there in modern society that humans are calling upon for their reliance or needs that is a substitution of the Lord? This is not the time to run around with etiquettes nicknaming everything or anything "Baal". The simple principle is probably an individual case by case question that each one has to ask him or herself: what is there in my life that prevents the Lord from having an open honest relation with me?

God will remove the names of Baals from their mouths (verse 19). This verse gives us the indication that there are many kinds of Baals and that the gods or personalities involved in the Baal cult had various Baal names. It is of course Israel that is spoken here of in the context of the previous two verses referring to their experience upon the entrance into Canaan after the exit out of Egypt. This verse is also eschatological and there is a cleaning up operation of anything connected to a Baal-like structure.

In verse 20 Hosea is eschatological. In this verse the last part of the verse was misread by nearly all versions except the Targum. Starting from Aquila 130 CE, Symmachus 170 CE, Theodotion 190 CE, Origen's Hexapla (doubtful), the Greek of the fifth century CE, and Jerome 403 CE, as well as the Syriac, all read the Hebrew here incorrectly in one way or another. The variants are not always the same and the kind of misreadings are different.

Did the scribe of Codex Ambrosianus falsify the readings of Aquila and Symmachus or was he only trying to retranslate them into Syriac in his own accord causing an allignment with the ecclessiastical Greek text of the fifth century CE especially in this verse. We are not sure if this happened in other verses too, but this issue should from now on be kept in mind.

The covenant here is an all inclusive one. It includes all living things. God will take away the weapons of destruction and not only the weapons of mass destruction as current governments are trying to do. This situation where there will not be any weapon found under the sun is surely in the domain of eschatology or at the end time. Never in the history of Israel or Palestine for that matter or anywhere else on this earth was there a breathing moment that weapons stopped to exist. God will remove war from the earth. This is a very unusual event that cannot be found in the annals of this world's history. It is definitely lined up for the world to come. There is no place in this scenario for any human government or agency to carry out the task that belongs solely to God. This is a cleaning up operation in extreme perfection with no human flaws. A futuristic interpretation of any current worldly powers carrying out this task, is futile and absurd. An environmental theology will not help God in any way here. Humans cannot create the Kingdom of God for Him. He is going to do it His way. Any nuclear agency claiming this text as their legitimacy for clearing out nuclear weapons is misreading the text. He is also going to remove the inhabitants so that there will be hope. As long as sin reigns there is no hope and the end of sin is the beginning and stabilization of hope.

God said in verse 21: "And I will make you a wife to me unto eternity. And I will make you a wife to me in righteousness and in justice and in kindness and in sympathies".

Again, just like the previous verse we have to say that this is not the text of Jerome 403 CE and that the variants represent that of errors by scribes three hundred years later between 750-960 CE. Jerome made sometimes misreadings of letters but when none of the other versions share this misreading then it seems that it is a later invention and not part of the original text of Jerome.

The scribes of the Latin manuscripts 750-960 CE did something special to the last part of the verse. They read "et scies quia ego Dominus" = and you will know that I am the Lord. What is added in these Latin manuscripts is "I am".

What this possibly illustrates to us, is that the Latin scribe of 750 CE was trying to "improve Jerome" on the basis of another Hebrew manuscript which he thought was the original. This Hebrew manuscript was not available to Jerome but this scribe thought that it represents the original and that differences with Jerome should thus be considered again.

From this verse at least until chapter 4:15 we do not think in this commentary that the critical text of the Vulgate represent the Latin text of Jerome. From this verse the earliest manuscript s gives no reading until 4:15. This means that we have to reconstruct Jerome from a list of manuscripts that originated between 750-960 CE. A simple comparison between this verse and the previous verses illustrates suddenly the complexity of problems as far as prepositions and omissions are concerned. There is a sudden increase of variants in the text. Jerome was not that careless about these particles as these later manuscripts are. We do not have the original words of Jerome in this verse and these variants represent the problems of scribes more than three hundred years after Jerome. The unusual situation is also that none of the other versions shared any of these problems.

In verse 22 all the versions the word "in trust" was translated as "in faith".

The same word "trust" is found in Habakkuk 2:4 where it reads that the righteous shall live in his "trust". This verse featured very strongly in the theology of Paul in Romans and Galatians and was also the dialectical prooftext during the Reformation. When God enters into a relationship of trust with an individual then that individual begins to know the Lord. This verse and the previous one is dealing with an everlasting relationship in righteousness, justice, kindness, sympathy and trust. These concepts are all interrelated and one cannot sever any one of them from the other. It is easy to classify all these terms in present conditions as 1. upright when everyone else is failing; 2. just amid crime and corruption; 3. kindness when cruelty is prevailing; 4. sympathetic when no-one cares; 5. trusting during storms of doubt. These are definitions so beautiful within our sphere of operation but what is found in this verse are concepts beyond the time line, beyond the human horizon. It is everlasting righteousness in a world with no evil; justice when no one is corrupt; kind when there is no suffering of whatever type; sympathetic when everyone is caring; and finally trust with the absence of doubt. It is inconceivable to our minds how such a relation can exist. We do not understand how one can see white in the absence of black or vice versa. Even a historic study of these words in the Old Testament cannot fully explain the concepts since they lie outside our human scope. This is not a human "forever" - it is divine.

In verse 23 Hosea describe the eschatological day in this verse. In that eschatological day God will answer the heaven in the investigative judgment and the participants in the investigative judgment will announce the decision of God to the earth. We will continue this line of interpretation in the next verse which has the appearance of an agricultural event but a more careful analysis reveal deeper dimensions.

There is reason to believe that there the translation of the Latin claimed to be that of Jerome was not. To translate the word "answer" or "chant" as "hear" is something that Jerome himself would not have done. The oldest Vulgate manuscript s ended at verse 20 supra and since then the presumable text of Jerome reconstructed by scholars with manuscripts between 750-960 CE is only a can of worms. In manuscript s Jerome translated in Hosea 2:17 the same root as canet = "chant". Why would he follow in an interpretive way the reading of the Greek text of the fifth century CE by translating it as "hear" = exaudiam? He is so vehemently reacting in his comments the translation of the socalled Septuagint of his day that it is unlikely that he would now swallow this excentric translation of the Greek hook and sinker! The scribe of the 750 CE manuscript attempted to align the Vulgate here with the ecclessiastical Greek text of the fifth century CE. This led to non-Jerome readings in these manuscripts.

The Greek of the fifth century CE not only interpreted the word "answer" as "hear" but also added explicitly his interpretation that it is the heaven that will hear which is implicitly the way it is read, but without the addition of "heaven".

The Targumist attempted to convert the interpretation into nothing more than a mere natural agricultural event. God will listen to the [farmers] screaming and will deliver the heaven and it shall rain upon the earth. This interpretation is far off the real eschatological setting that was in the mind of Hosea. Hosea is speaking in the same terms as one can find in the eschatological Psalms or in Joel.

The Syriac kept close to the Hebrew reading and did not follow the Greek translation of the fifth century CE in this verse.

In that eschatological day God will answer the heaven in the investigative judgment and the participants in the investigative judgment will announce the decision of God to the earth. We will continue this line of interpretation in the next verse which has the appearance of an agricultural event but a more careful analysis reveal deeper dimensions.

In verse 24 Hosea says: "And the earth shall answer the grain and grapes and olives and they shall answer Yezreel". We have here the answer-chain.

From God to the heavens, to the earth, to the harvest, to Yezreel. Some understood that rain will fall on the earth and the harvest shall be in full bloom but it is not that simple. The harvest is answering Yezreel which is a difficult concept to understand. Why the valley of Yezreel is selected here is not sure. Others feel that it is a reference to Israel. If one thinks in terms of the atonement in eschatological development or

stage and that the answer here is God's explanation of the final eradication of sin in an absolute sense then one can understand that the heavens are the heavenly beings that are featured in God's divine court of justice as the witnesses to this event. They will answer of course the earth in a sense that they will accompany the Messiah at His coming to this earth to collect the harvest (see the parable of the harvest in the Gospels). It is understandable how the earth in this scenario can answer the harvest. The harvest in the gospels are the faithful ones or remnant that God is coming to collect. Meeting with the Messiah in the air, the valley of Yezreel is the symbol of destruction of the "weeds" or "chaf". Yezreel is that valley where all the nations will make war with God in a final battle at a time when God is coming to rescue Israel (see especially Psalm 46 and Joel 4:9-14). In fact the wicked is said to be cut down for judgment in the valley of Yehoshaphat. The faithful ones of course are safe in the new city prepared for them by God and they watch from there the battle of their Warrior God with the nations of the earth. This concept can be seen in Psalm 46 at the end. In our understanding this is not a physical harvest or rain that is in view here. These are events at the end of time when the divine is finally eradicating sin and its results. The remnant is of course the "wife" of God and He protects "her". The Old Testament is full of examples how these concepts are understood by the ancient writers.

Why is Jerome in his commentary here use the word frumento but in the presumed text reconstructed from manuscripts three hundred years later read triticum?

This question linked with the unusual translation for the word "answer" as "hear" lead us to think that Jerome never read triticum but rather frumento. We cannot accept the manuscripts of 750-960 CE as representative of the original Jerome. There is again a very close connection between the reading of the fifth century CE Greek manuscripts and the 750-960 CE presumable copies of the Vulgate of Jerome. We tend to think that these manuscripts represent the pseudo-Jerome not Jerome himself. If the letters were transposed by the Semitic texts that underlies these versions then it is possible through a complex system of simulations due to dictation and hearing problems how other variations crept in, yet all bound by the same semitic text.

In the eschaton in the new heaven, God will call on people and they (not His people) will say to Him in a faithful saved condition: 'My God' (verse 25).

There is a strong connection between the Greek of the fifth century CE and the socalled late Latin manuscripts of the Vulgate dating between 750-960 CE in this verse. The variant is very similar and it shows that they read the same para-biblical Hebrew text leading to the same translation or that the scribe of 750 CE was adjusting the Vulgate of Jerome to follow the ecclessiastical Greek text of the fifth century CE. In both cases the scribe was changing Jerome's original words. It is unlikely that Jerome would have read the same as the Septuagint taken into consideration that he always reacted against its weaknesses. This translation is thus considered also of a pseudo-Jerome nature in the Latin. The Syriac and the Targum followed the Hebrew and did not read this variant. It is unlikely that Jerome would change such important aspects as the name of God and also introduce extra words that is not in the original. It appears that this was a functional text that was mistaken for a formal biblical text by the scribe of the fifth century Greek and by the scribe of the 750 CE Latin copy of the Vulgate. Maybe his copy was not a copy but a new edition. In the lower register of the BHS there is no reference at all to this variant.

The Gospels gives ample explanation for the understanding of God accepting people who are not His people as His people. The parable of the banquet explains how certain important guests were invited but due to other obligations they could not come. Thus God called anyone from the streets and brought them to the banquet. At the end time, the people of God will be from every tongue and nation, Jewish as well as non-Jewish. No person will be saved simply on the basis of race or ethnicity.


Dear God

We are thankful to You for vividly taking Hosea through his own suffering to see the character of the forgiving God so that whereas Hosea wants to kill, You want to have a banquet with those who are not your people. May it include us also. Amen.