Devotional Commentary on Hosea 7


God promised that when He will heal the remnant in the future, He will do a good work of it. "When I healed Israel, the iniquity of Ephraim is also revealed and the evil of Samaria. For they have done falsehood. And the thief will come. Stripped off is a troop in the street" (verse 1).

The Coptic Tattam 1836 in this verse definitely misread not a Greek text but a semitic one. In fact a copy was made from dictation of the text that Origen also used and those errors of misreading by the one who copied the Hebrew for Origen also were done by the dictating reader to the Coptic copyist but added to those errors were other errors of dittography and phonetic simulations.

The Coptic reads the verse as follows: "When I will convert Israel and reveal the iniquity of Ephraim and the wickedness of Samaria for they have committed falsehood and it shall be advanced inward to him of his evildoing with his stealing and he shall be stripped of a robber in his way."

The underlined phrase was a dittography or double reading of the Hebrew text that Origen used in 240 CE since these readings were absent from Aquila 130 CE, Symmachus 170 CE and Theodotion 190 CE Field1875:950. The inclusion of ??? to him indicates that the same text as that for the Greek of Origen's Hexapla was used. The miscopying of a word “stripped off” as “of his evildoing” is a proof that the copying process was that of dictation or an acoustic error. The word for thief/stealing was copied later in the sentence of the Hebrew of the text for the Coptic. The word “inside/inward” in the Coptic is also a double entry.

An interesting connection can be found in the comment of the Jewish Rabbi Ibn Ezra on this verse where he rendered:

their wickedness stands in front of me in their hearts (our translation)

their wickedness still stands in their heart

                      (Ibn EzraHebrew and English Text Rosenberg 1986Hos7:1)

When one looks at the full text of Ibn Ezra here, he definitely weaved his information according to the tenets and additions in the Targum Jonathan to the prophets as is represented for us in the late copies of Walton and Rosenberg. One does not find in the Jewish commentator Rashi the addition of in the night as one finds in the Targum and in Ibn Ezra. It is not in the Syriac or any of the other versions. The Coptic text also included a similar phrase as we have indicated above, namely an addition reading: inward to him of his evildoing.

The inclusion of "in the night" originated from the Semitic text that was the miscopy used by Origen and the Coptic whereby they included an extra "to him". It seems to us that a reader who used this very same Hebrew text available to the Coptic Scribe and Origen. He copied another Hebrew text that was miscopied for the Vorlage of the Targum and the text Ibn Ezra knew as "in the night". This can easily happen if the letters are all continuous and the copyist can only rely on hearing the text.

Rabbi Ibn Ezra is known to have travelled North Africa for the greater part of his life. The Semitic Vorlage for the Coptic scribes and Origen as found in some Greek versions was probably familiar to him prior to 1140 CE. Since we do not have an earlier copy of the Targum on this verse, and since it is not included in the Syriac, we must assume that this misreading as in the night can be found c. 1140 CE the earliest.

Also with the Rabbi Kara (the contemporary of Rashi) is there the interpretation that "the thief will come in the night" (KaraHebrew and English Text Rosenberg 1986Hos7:1). Rabbi Rashi is silent about this addition in his commentary but he added "constantly" in his commentary to indicate that they lie and coming to steal constantly. Rabbi Rashi was a predecessor of Rabbi Ibn Ezra but he apparently did not share this addition by later scholars. Our question is: when did the Targum Jonathan to the prophets as we know it today, incorporate this addition. Was it there before Rashi and did the Syriac scribe miss it, and was the Semitic text that underlies the Coptic and Greek of Origen's time a misreading of this "in the night" as "inward to him"? The question is: which error came first?

The verse is saying that when the Lord healed Israel the sins of Ephraim and Samaria is also revealed. Healing in this sense is an act of atonement. Daily atonement was available for Israel and daily the Lord healed the sinners who confessed their sins with a true heart. Every time true healing took place for the contrite sinner, the desired iniquity of Ephraim and the evil of Samaria is revealed. Our interpretation is very close to that of the medieval scholar Rashi who said that “every time the Lord wishes to save them and heal them, their iniquities were revealed before Him for they sinned constantly” (a plus expression by Rashi). This addition in Rashi implies that the sins were carried on for a long time and that is what we also stress in our interpretation. Ever since the time of Jeroboam they were sinning even though there was a temple in Jerusalem where atonement on a daily basis was available. We have been seeing in previous chapters how Ephraim was the focus of God's case or lawsuit. Cities like Shilo, Beth-el and Gilgal were in Ephraim. North of Shechem was the city of Samaria in the area of West-Manasseh. Samaria had a long history of evil (compare Jewish commentator Rashi's addition of the word constantly in this verse). In the cities of Samaria (1 Kings 13:32) there were high-places after 930 BCE in the days of Jeroboam. Priests were appointed for these high places by Jeroboam (verse 33). During the years 874-853 BCE there was a famine in Samaria (1 Kings 18:2). Near the gate of Samaria there was a threshing floor where Ahab and Jehoshaphat (870-854 BCE) placed their thrones. There was also a vineyard near the palace (1 Kings 21:1). When Jehu came to Samaria in 841 BCE, he adopted Baal worship (2 Kings 10:18). The ritual functionaries there were prophets of Baal. They sacrificed for Baal and had burnt offerings. There was a temple (verse 21) and they wore special paraphernalia (verse 22). During 812-799 BCE it was the period of Aramaean oppression but the Israelites, although they did not live in their own homes, continued in the sins of Jeroboam (2 Kings 13:6). That means that the Asherah pole remained standing in Samaria (1 Kings 13:6). When Jeroboam II became king in 782 BCE, he followed also in the sins of the first Jeroboam (2 Kings 14:24). There was a shrinkage of Aramaean power between 782-754 BCE. During the time of Zechariah and Menahem (752-742 BCE) they did the sins of Jeroboam (2 Kings 15:9). The Assyrian invasion was in 743 BCE. Even after this invasion Pekahiah followed in the sins of Jeroboam (2 Kings 15:24) between 742-740 BCE. Pekah also followed in the sins of Jeroboam (2 Kings 15:29) and again Tiglath Pilezer, the Assyrian, came and took a number of areas including Hazor, Gilead and Galilee and the areas of Naphtali (2 Kings 15:29) between 734-732 BCE. Between 731-728 BCE a very good relation existed between the Aramaeans and the Edomites and Pekah lined up with Aram against Judah. A third time Tiglath Pilezer came against Damascus in 727 BCE. Ahaz of Judah was exuberant about this help. It is in this setting that we find the book of Hosea complaining about Ephraim and Samaria with its evil. The institution of a Baal cult at Samaria in the days of Jeroboam became synonymous for the sins of Jeroboam and that expression is carried through the book of Kings indicating one after the other king that followed in that same practice. In Hosea's day the evil of Samaria is then synonymous to this Baal cult. What the iniquity of Ephraim was one should probably look at Bethel. It was at Bethel that Jeroboam placed a golden calf (1 Kings 12:29) in 930 BCE. He also erected there an altar (verse 33). One would expect at Bethel a temple of some kind where the altar and the golden calf could be placed. At that time there was an old prophet in Bethel (1 Kings 13:11) and he did not participate in these practices but was probably the man of God for that generation. A prophecy was made about that altar that it would split in two and that priests would be offered on it by a man with the name of Josiah (1 Kings 13:2-5). That means there was already a prophetic condemnation of that action way back in 930 BCE. Another prophet was at Shiloh, also in Ephraim (1 Kings 14:2) during that time. In 851 BCE there was a company of prophets at Bethel which means that there were men of God prophesying to that generation (2 Kings 2:5). The description is typical of that of a senior citizen which fluctuates quickly into "footnotes added with evaluative statements". "For they have done falsehood" is such an evaluative "footnote" adding more information to a generation that might misunderstood this past generation or history of those areas.

The wayward remnant does not admit their wrongs in their hearts for if they do, God acts as a great eraser to erase the records. But they do not and their sins heap up in front of God like garbage that is not collected for days (verse 2). "And not do they say according to their hearts that I remember all their evil deeds. Now their deeds surround them. Against my face they have been."

My translation is here very literal and so is the translation of Jerome.

Coptic Tattam 1836 used the same Hebrew text as the Greek of the time of Origen 240 CE but there are variants probably due to a copying of the same manuscript by dictation or from memory. There is thus a difference from the Greek that the Greek is reading "my face" while the Coptic is reading "their face". When the Hebrew copy was made that served the Greek translator that Origen entered in 240 CE as the Greek, dittography happened in the beginning of the sentence but also was one letter misread. Both the Greek and the Coptic read here "they may sing like singers" instead of the consonantal text of the Masoretic tradition reading of "and not do they say". Such a dittography can originate when the reader misread the word and then correct himself but the listener who is copying the dictated piece does not realize that there was a mistake followed by a correction. If this part in the original Hebrew manuscript was very illegible then this phenomenon could explain this double entry of mistaken letters. Both the Hebrew copier for the Greek of Origen 240 CE and the Hebrew copier from this Hebrew copy for the Coptic copier did not have access to the original Hebrew manuscript from which the reading was done (in our estimation the same as the consonantal text of the Masoretic Tradition).

The negative particle that we find here at the beginning of the verse in the original is a Phoenician grammatical construct. Why is Hosea speaking in Phoenician now? Why was Hosea or the scribe that he used, writing with a Phoenician dialect Hebrew? Whether we ascribe the writing to Hosea or the scribe, either case, must have had friendly relations with Phoenician people. Cross-cultural influence shows itself in the dialect or loanwords adopted. If God is speaking here then it would mean that God is pointing out the cultural direction of their evil, namely the Phoenician gods. It would fit in with the problem of Hosea's wife which ran after Baal cults. It is not impossible that Hosea is familiar with some popular Phoenician literature and that he is employing a well-known phrase from a hymn or poem to reach his audience more effectively.

Of course, evil makes evil very happy: "With their wickedness they will make glad a king, and with their lies, princes" (verse 3).

Jerome is always very literal and one can only occasionally bring some aspects of difference with the original. Whenever this happens we do it with the utmost care in our observations. His translation is still the best for the book of Hosea. There is a plural masculine suffix added to the noun in the beginning of the verse, but he translated it as "his wickedness" = malitia sua instead of "their wickedness".

It seems that in this verse and in the next few verses that follows, some palace information leaked out to the public. Hosea is using the actions of those in the palace and compares it to that of the baker with his dough and oven. This Palace = Baker simile is carried through verses 3-9. The application is of course afterwards indicating that they ask for help from Egypt and ran to Assyria. We know that Ahaz suffered a severe blow from the Aramaeans in 731-728 BCE and that he was seeking help from Assyria. Ahaz reigned from 735-716 BCE in Judah. He made his son pass through the fire "fire-walking" (2 Kings 16:3). It was in 727 BCE that Ahaz went to Damascus to meet the Assyrian king Tigalth-Pilezer.

The problem with the wayward remnant is that they are ecumenical or all adulterers: "They are all adulterers, like an oven burning from the baker, he will cease from the city from kneading dough until it is leavened" (verse 4).

The later Jewish Targum wanted to be literal about real intermarriage problems in Hosea's day: "All of them desire to bother their friends wives, they are hot like an oven that the baker heated, for that reason exposing in their losing of their cities otherwise they resemble to decree the thoughts of evil and upon what they do not remember signs and the greatness of what they did to them on the day of their departure from Egypt from this time of kneading the leaven until it is not fermented."

The Coptic translation in English would be: "They are all adulterers like an oven kindled to boil in the heat of her flames from the mingling of the leaven till it was leavened."

The Coptic Tattam 1836 also read the variant in the same position as the Greek of the time of Origen 240 CE. The Coptic translated "in the heat of her flame" and the Greek translated "the heat from the flame". Scholars are taking shortcuts and claim that the Coptic is just a translation of the Greek LXX, but that seems not to be supported by evidence in my own research. What actually happened here is that the Hebrew reader pulled up information that appear in verse 6 and attached it to verse 4 substituting the phrase there with that of verse 6 on the basis of a similar Hebrew word in the area of both verses. The Coptic misread a letter kaph as a beth. Looking at the text of Eusebius in 320 CE it is clear that there is a strong connection with the Targum but also that there are a number of redivisions of the letters to arrive at fellowship, and dittography in order to read small, as well as dittography later in the verse to add the words and with a little all. The presence of the “not” in the Targum at the end gives us a hint how a misreading to all could have originated. In fact, this all can also be found in the Hebrew text that Jerome used in order to translate the Vulgate in 403 CE. One also finds it in the Syriac Leiden Gelston 1980 as nwhlK. It simply indicates that there was a Semitic text, Hebrew or Aramaic that was very literal but that misread the original by adding this extra word at the end. The Targum Walton 1654 consulted this same literal translation but misread the "all" as "not". The problems of Eusebius are uniquely his, and are not shared by other versions. It almost appears as if he tried to include all variants in an attempt to bring an ecumenical text? 

In my opinion the word "he will cease" functions twice in this sentence reading: "he will cease to stir from a fire, he will cease from kneading the dough". The second time it is only implied and not repeated.

Alcoholism in high places is a downfall of any nation: "The day of our king, the heat of the wine made sick the princes. He has stretched out his hand to scorners" (verse 5).

The Greek from Origen's day (240 CE) reads: "he stretched out his hand with pestilences". This was also the earlier reading of the Old Latin dating to 190 CE. The Syriac translation read: "They stretched out their hand with the wicked". The Coptic translation from 290 and later read: "He stretched out his hand with the plagues".

I am again very impressed by the literalness of Jerome's translation. The Targum however reads "On the day of their king". I do not follow this interpretation of the text here. Like Jerome I am keeping to the literal rendering.

The Coptic Tattam 1836 read the same Hebrew manuscript as that which resulted in the Greek of Origen's Hexapla in 240 CE. All the misreadings cannot be dated earlier than Origen. Symmachus 170 CE and Theodotion 190 CE Field1875: 951 did not read these variants. They are reading the consonantal text of the Masoretic tradition. The Coptic does not read exactly the same as the Greek.

The Syriac misread an Aramaic Vorlage that read similar to the Targum in this verse. The origin of the extra letters in the Syriac in one word could only come from a misconstruing of a correct reading in the Targum (in which one letter was misread and connected to the previous word) or correct reading of a misconstruing in the Targum (we cannot say for sure) of the literal Aramaic manuscript that served both the Targum translators and the Syriac translators. If the error originated in the Targum then it is by way of a misreading by the reader (word divisions, letter confusion) plus a mishearing by the listener copyist of a word. This Aramaic text was in any way a misreading of the Hebrew original here. In the final run all are wrong except the Hebrew.

Palace information leaked out that the king in his palace and the princes visiting there were all drunk with wine and that the king is trying to make alliances with them, but they are all scorning. Trying to make friends with the other nations will not help.

Woman, wine and songs the whole night brings hangovers with it "For they have drawn near. Like an oven is their heart. In their lying in wait all night will sleep their baker. Morning he is burning like a flaming fire" (verse 6). The heart will not be in a good condition in the morning.

The Coptic translation read it the following way: "Because they have burnt their hearts like their ovens in a curse is Ephraim filled all night. When the morning comes he is inflamed like their lights of a fire."

Coptic Tattam 1836 also reads the variants of the Greek of Origen 240 CE "they have heated and their hearts". Aquila 130 CE and Symmachus 170 CE did not read these variants in their Greek translations. There is a difference between the Coptic and Greek Hebrew retroversions. What happened here is that the Hebrew reader to the Greek copyist was misled by the similar phrase in the beginning of verse 7 and that phrase was moved to the beginning of verse 6. This same Hebrew copy was then used by the Coptic translator. There is a difference between the Coptic and Greek Hebrew retroversions.

At the end of the verse the Coptic is reading the last two Hebrew words in inverted order. This can happen in a number of ways: (1) copying by dictation by another reader whereby the copyist has to rely on his memory, (2) copying by memory after a session of memorization. This verse also supports the conclusion that the Coptic was not done from the Greek. Besides the omission of a letter in the Coptic there was also a different division of letters of the Semitic text at the end than the Greek.

These princes all came but due to too much drinking, they could not sleep and in the morning they all had hangovers. These scorners have come close to the palace. One wonders whether the sleeping Baker is a picture of God who is looking at the condition of the heart of the person in the morning. In the morning their hearts is burning is a picture of the executive judgment of these individuals in the eschaton?

This is judgment time for the remnant and God is not happy with their relationship to Him: "All of them will be hot like an oven and they eat their rulers. All their kings have fallen. No-one is calling through them unto me" (verse 7). The Old Latin had it "there is none among them that calls unto me". The Jewish Targum read: "There is none from them that calls before me". The later Coptic read: "Not is there one who calls upward towards me". 

If there was just a hint that harmonization took place between the beginning of verse 6 and the beginning of verse 7 in the Greek of the time of Origen 240 CE then the Coptic Tattam 1836 has established this fact. The Coptic displays that it has fully harmonized verses 6 and 7 whereas in the Greek the harmonization is only in verse 6 (from verse 7 of course). This means that words from verse 6 are used in 7 and words from verse 7 are used in 6. In the Greek only words from verse 7 are used in verse 6 and not vice versa.

Verse 6 and 7 needs more explanation as far as the variants in the Coptic Tattam 1836 are concerned. The first time that the variant of verse 6 they have burnt or they have heated can be found is in the days of Origen in his Greek 240 CE. This variant was originally a moving of a phrase from verse 7 to verse 6 on the basis of similar words in both verses. Both the Coptic and Greek consulted the same Hebrew text. It appears as if the Coptic text copied this Hebrew text of the Greek from memory or by way of dictation and extra variants can be found in the Coptic that is not in the Greek. In verse 7 there is an addition by the Coptic of of their heart from verse 6. The first record in the Greek traditions for this addition is in the fifth century CE in Codex Alexandrinus. The translator of Codex Alexandrinus also took a word from verse 4 and introduces it with one from verse 6 in verse 7. The second time that one can find this addition in the Greek traditions where there is a removal of the word from verse 4 used by Codex Alexandrinus is in the sixth century in Codex Marchalianus (Vat. gr. 2125). In the Coptic we also find this addition but rather similar to Codex Marchalianus (with the word fire from verse 4 absent). There is a very strong relationship between Codex Alexandrinus and Codex Marchalianus. This is understandable since they are less than a century apart from each other. Codex Alexandrinus harmonized information from different verses and felt the right to move and add that information in phrases that looked similar. We are suggesting that the translator of Codex Alexandrinus read the Greek translation of Origen 240 CE very carefully in verse 6 and noticed that the "Septuagint" took a word from verse 7 and introduced it in verse 6 and since Jesus used the Septuagint in His sermons He sanctified not only the Greek translation but also this modus operandi or method of translation and this gave him (the translator of Codex Alexandrinus) authorization to continue harmonization in places where the "Septuagint" did not. In the Coptic Tattam 1836 there is also an inversion of the last two words in the Hebrew. This is not in the Greek traditions. This phenomenon can be found in the Arabic Walton 1654. The Arabic also added of their hearts in verse 7 similar to the Coptic and Codex Marchalianus but not similar to Codex Alexandrinus. There is a very strong relationship between the Coptic and Arabic in these two verses. At least the inversion of the two Hebrew words at the end of verse 6 in the Coptic and Arabic link them to such an extent that one has to ask the question: who came first, the chicken or the egg? In previous verses we have established the fact that the Coptic translation was done not from the Greek but from a Semitic text that corresponds to the Semitic text that was used by the Greek translator of the days of Origen 240 CE. We have also established the fact that the Coptic translation was not done from the Arabic Walton 1654, in a number of other cases prior to this verse. These two verses are the strongest connection so far between the Arabic and Coptic.

All these princes are in their drunkeness speaking against their rulers. All their kings (the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah) have spiritually fallen ever since the time of King Solomon (974 BCE) and no-one is calling through the functions of the monarchy unto the Lord. There is here a failure in the missiological function of the monarchy as an instrument for evangelization and atonement with God. "All their kings" could be in the sense of all the kings of Israel for nearly three hundred years of the monarchy. Hosea is familiar with the history of the book of Kings and these lists of sins as are described by the books of Kings and Chronicles were probably available to the schools of the prophets at Bethel, Shilo and Jericho. Just as the book of Kings epitomized the sins of Jeroboam I centered around Samaria and Bethel so did Hosea. There is no way a person can guess the history of your country unless it is educated to you in one way or another and no one can educate it to you unless there is a historiography of that history. When the Chronicler wrote the book of Kings and Chronicles in the days of Josiah or later he had access to palace records or some records kept somewhere for the chronology of the kings of nearly four hundred years. Palace diaries were an Ancient Near Eastern custom and Hosea is familiar with the reputation of all the kings that preceded him. That is why he is saying that "all the kings have fallen". You cannot guess such a statement. Hosea was informed.

Hosea explains the problem of Ephraim that they mix with peoples: "Ephraim is with peoples, he mixes himself. Ephraim has become a cake without turning" (verse 8). The Jewish Targum explained it as follows: "The house of Ephraim himself is mixed among the nations. The house of Ephraim is likened to a bread that is until it is not turned, consumed." The Greek said something about the ashes: "Ephraim is become as bread baked under the ashes". But, this reading was already in the Old Latin in 190 CE so this form in the Greek in 240 CE in Origen's format is not the first time. Then it was repeated also in the Vulgate of Jerome in 389 CE.

The Coptic translation later read as follows: "Ephraim is mixed to himself with his nation, Ephraim became a dough concealed, not is it to be carried".

The Coptic Tattam 1836 reads a number of variants in this verse and differs largely from the Greek of the day of Origen 240 CE or later. Instead of nations as the Hebrew original of the consonantal text of the Masoretic tradition read, the Coptic read (even contrary to the Greek) nation. Besides this variant, there is also a case of dittography (double entry = 'concealed', and a mishearing of letters of the last word. The mishearing of a /b/ instead of a /p/ in this case is easier to understand rather than a misreading of these two letters.

The Greek is very interesting in this verse as far as the semantics of a word is concerned. It elaborates the meaning as "baked in the ashes". This compares very well with the Jewish tradition in the Midrash Tanhuma (edited by Buber in 1885) Bo 9 the word has the meaning which led Marcus Jastrow to conclude that it means: "cake baked on coals" (Jastrow, Dictionary of the Targumim, The Talmud Babli and Yerushalmi, and the Midrashic Literature Vol. 1 1903: 1047).

Contrary to the Coptic I could not find a variant in the Greek tradition with the consonantal text of the Masoretic tradition.

This verse and the next one seem to be in one unit for there is repetition as if it is a well-designed poem or hymn. Ephraim was apparently some kind of a door to the outside world and he catered very well for them. However, such a function is a give and take situation and the demands from the outside and the failure from the inside caused Ephraim to spiritually slipped-away from the relation with God. It has become a burnt cake. This verse and the following one is almost as if it is part of a popular poem or hymn. The stanzas flow in wonderful echoes. Repetition is very clear.

The problem with the wayward remnant is that strangers are eating their strength but they do not know it (verse 9). "Strangers eat their strength and he does not know it. Also old age has sprinkled upon him and he does not know it." The Old Latin from 190 CE read the "old age" as "grey hairs" = cani which in Latin can also mean "white hairs".

The Jewish Targum wanted to make a homiletical application and paraphrase that: "The nations have devoured their treasures, and they themselves did not know also the sickness affected them and they themselves do not understand." Notice how "he" becomes "they" in the Targum.

The Coptic Tattam 1836 shares with the Greek here the omission of the translation of a particle [word] "also" in the consonantal text of the Masoretic tradition. Instead of reading ke = "also" the Coptic read "and". This omission of the word also can be found since the time of Origen 240 CE. It was translated by Eusebius in 320 CE as "already" (see Field 1875: 951). The Latin of Jerome in 403 CE translated this particle as sed = "but". The Targum Walton 1654 also read the particle as "and" but the Syriac read the same as the Coptic and the Greek by omitting the particle.

Like the words of a hymn or poem the repetition is very clear in the form of a refrain. The resources of the country were taken by other nations every time there was an invasion.

Even though the wayward remnant is humbled among the nations, yet they do not become a faithful remnant: "And humbled is the pride of Israel in his face and not is there a return unto the Lord their God and not do they seek him in all this." (verse 10).

This is what life is all about, this relationship with God and return to God amid trial and suffering and seeking of God in all this chaos. But they don't and we still don't.

A couple of misreadings happen here and one can look at them. The Old Latin read instead of "pride" the "insults" = contumelia in 190 CE. Simultaneously with the Old Latin's origin was a similar misreading of the Hebrew by Theodotion in 190 CE of his private Greek translation by omitting "pride" and entering a misreading of the word as a dittography ending with "arrogance". Theodotion's text read as follows:  "and he humbled the arrogance of Israel". Origen in 240 CE presented an error due to mishearing/acoustic error from the one dictating. He read a double reading of the /h/, a misreading of the /g/ as an /r/ and the omission of the /aleph/. It could be that the presence of the guttural at the end of the first word and the /g/ in the beginning of the next word were assimilated in the ear of the copyist. The Greek was translated as "and the violence of Israel shall be humbled with "violence". When Jerome translated in 403 CE he kept not to the consonantal text of the Masoretic tradition by translating arrogance" = superbia, the same misreading that the Hebrew Vorlage of Theodotion had earlier in 190 CE. The Targum Walton 1654 and the Syriac Leiden Gelston 1980 also translated "dignity" similar to my choice of the word "pride". The Coptic Tattam 1836 misread the second word in the Hebrew text, which has the meaning "and the scattering of Israel shall be humbled". I am using the Coptic Tattam 1836. So, nearly all the versions misread the beginning of the verse. The salepoint is that we should never run to the versions for "truth" since they are degenerative texts from degenerative original Hebrew manuscripts just like Qumran were degenerative texts full of slips of all kinds, paraphrases what we can call: "parabiblical texts" but not the exact Word of God. Case by case though, Qumran did come close to the very Word of God in the original as the authors first wrote it. People say, we never can know the original. Yes we can. If a fragment from Qumran dates to 150 BCE and it compares 99% with a full Hebrew preserved text of 1008 CE then this remarkable precision means that 1000 years before 150 BCE the likelihood is 99% that it was kept in the original. Is this principle fair? Well, 4QDana is a case in point and there are many more at Qumran. What about deviations. They are what it is said. Degenerative and deviations.

From the situation of Ephraim there is a fluctuation here to the pride of Israel that was apparently given a blow. The comment is that even though there was some kind of blow that there was not a will to seek God.

God then predicts that Ephraim would run for help from Egypt and go to Assyria in exile in 723 BCE: "And Ephraim shall be like a simple dove without a heart: Egypt they have called, Assyria they have run." (verse 11).

The later Christian era Jewish Targum paraphrases it interpretatively as: "And the house of Ephraim is becoming similar as a simple dove that is captured by the son and there is not to it a heart. They approached to Egypt, they are deported to Assyria".

People say: 'but the Targums were in the Persian period between 538-333 BCE when Aramaic was the lingua franca.' Maybe, but prove that the current Walton 1654 form or the A. Sperber form represents that original? Impossible. All manuscripts are preserved by Christians in the Christian period. So caution is advised here for running to conclusions.

The Greek from Origen's day read instead of "they called", "he called". During the period represented in Revelation by the church of Ephesians (100 CE and further) when it was predicted that the church would leave the Godly love and decay will creep in (Revelation 1:4). The biblical text was preserved but variants popped-up like cancer.  

Coptic Tattam 1836 also divided the Semitic text differently with a waw cut off from a word and attached to the next word forming a singular to the previous word and adding a copulative to the next one. It simply means that the Semitic text that the Greek and the Coptic used was written continuous. This is how the variant originated "he called...and".

Ephraim is said to have run unto Assyria. Ahaz was ruler of Judah not of Ephraim and in 727 BCE he went to Damascus to meet the Assyrian ruler. It indicates to us that there was a close relation between Judah and the area of Ephraim so that the action of Judah is associated with that of Ephraim in this verse. The infliction that Ahaz suffered was in 731 BCE and at that time he probably first consulted for help in Egypt before he turned to Assyria for help. In Hosea 5:13 we have identified the king of Egypt as "and they shall ask unto king Jareb" which in our opinion is Sheshonk V, the son of Pami that reigned 38 years between 767-730 BCE. His throne name was '3-pr-Rc (Lexikon der Agyptologie, Band V: 586). In a cross-cultural situation the inversion of the /p/ /'3/ and /r/ /?/ resulted so that the form Hosea gave this king is yrb =  Jareb. It was in his last year that Ahaz turned for help to this king of Egypt but he was unable to help.

God the Hunter will punish the wayward Remnant according to the faithlessness: "As they are going, I will cast over them my net, like birds of heaven I will bring them down, I will chastise them according to the hearing to their assembly" (verse 12).

The Old Latin in 190 CE (see Pierre Sabbathier 1743 page 743 column 899) read it "in the hearing of their tribulation." Jerome in 389-403 translated Hosea here as: "I will strike them as their congregation hath heard." Origen in 240 CE translated it with: "I will educate them in the hearing of their distress". Tribulation is a disciplinary education for them. The late Jewish Targum read: "I will strike over them upon what they heard from their counsel". The Leiden Peshitta or Syriac by A. Gelsten in 1980 read here: "I will strike them as their congregation hath heard". The Coptic as represented by Henry Tattam's text read: "I will punish him in the hearing of their distress".

It appears as if there was an illegible part in the Hebrew manuscript used by these versions in this zone.

In this verse we have again a reference to a net as there was one also in Hosea 5:1. In that verse we have interpreted it as the time of Tiglath-Pilezer who came in 727 BCE and captured Gilead and areas north of Galilee so that it seems as if a net is spread over Tabor. In this verse and that of the previous one it is stated that Ephraim ran unto Assyria for help. In 731 BCE Ahaz suffered a severe blow and sought help from the Assyrians. That he sought help from Egypt too is now established in this verse. The ones who sought help from the Assyrians would have been Judah and Ephraim (in the light of these verses).

God is lamenting this act of divorce with the wayward remnant: "Woe to them for they have wandered from me. Destruction to them for they have transgressed against me. And I, I will save them and they, they speak against me lies." (verse 13).

Notice the love of God not to give up on these wayward ones. He is going to save them later in 538 BCE when Gobryas as Darius the Mede and Cyrus come to send them back to Israel from captivity. God can see that. "I, I will save them". But, Daniel prayed very deeply for a return in his prayer in Daniel 9.

Some mistranslations happen to the ancient versions here: In 190 CE the Old Latin read instead of "destruction to them" the reading "manifested are they" = manifesti sunt; Jerome in 389-403 read "they shall be colluded = praevaricati sunt"; "they are wretched ones" as in Origen 240 CE; a second Origen form as represented by Jerome: "clear they are"; in 130 CE Aquila translated it in his private Greek translation as "harvest to them" as one can see in Field's Edition of the translation of the Hexapla in 1875; "destruction [to them]" in the private Greek translation of Symmachus 170 CE; "distress [to them]" in the private Greek translation of Theodotion in 190 CE as reconstructed from the Commentary of Jerome on Hosea in 403 CE as presented in Field's Edition of the Hexapla of Origen in 1875: 952; "Wasters/plunderers I shall bring upon them" is the reading of the late Jewish Targum as one can see in Walton's polyglot of 1654 but rather use A. Sperber's Leiden edition; the Syriac read: "the evil I will bring upon them"; the Coptic from the edition of Tattam 1836 read "in poverty are they". Tattam is reconstructed from British Library MS Or. 11557A.

In Jerome's commentary he said: ""For that which we read, they shall be wasted, and in the Hebrew writing is SOD LAEM, that is, a waste to them, they interpreted it: Sym.[machus] destruction [to them], Theod.[otion] distress [to them]. Formerly in the conventional duplicated edition we read, at least in the codices they have, it is clear that is, clear they are; others wretched they are that is, frightful ones, or frightful they are."

I raise the issue: who are the "we" in Jerome's commentary? Why does his individual and personal translation of the Hebrew differ from the translation of what we read? Who is the "they" in Jerome's commentary. He said "they" have duplicated codices of which there are variants, with some reading one way and others reading another way. Of course the duplication that was done between 240-403 CE here is that of the text of the Greek in Origen's Hexapla 240 CE. It means Jerome was aware of errors in the transmission process of the Greek of Origen in his (Jerome's) day 403 CE. It is clear that the oldest available manuscript of Jerome's Vulgate, namely manuscript s of 480 CE reads vastabuntur and that is what Jerome said that which we read. Why did Jerome continue in the next line to correct [our translation] by rendering his own personal literal translation as vastatio eis? The issue is that we are expecting to find in Jerome's Vulgate not vastabuntur but vastatio est. Is vastabuntur the reading of the Vetus Latina and vastatio eis the reading of Jerome's Vulgate? We tend to argue for this situation since Jerome was very literal of his Hebrew text. Subsequently we are presenting the true Vulgate of Jerome and tend to think that the reading in this verse of Weber is a pseudo-Jerome expression. This verse casts some doubt upon the fact whether even the earliest manuscript s of 480 CE was a pure copy of Jerome or an realignment with some expressions in Vetus Latina? One can interpret that Jerome is saying in his commentary: we are all reading in the Vetus Latina vastabuntur but according to the Hebrew it is vastatio eis.

Another point that I raise is that Jerome was not correct that the private Greek translations of Theodotion and Symmachus interpreted their different readings. It was not interpreted but misread or misheard. Jerome is still an excellent literal and informed translator and judging the quantity of the project he undertook, this shortcoming of a fuller analysis on his part is understandable.

The misreading that one finds after Origen and before Jerome is one of substituting similar consonants with different vowels resulting in two different meanings. Scholars are arguing that the Greek in Origen's Hexapla is that of the Septuagint and this case in the commentary of Jerome is a proof that the Septuagint was not that carefully copied after the time of Origen, if it was indeed the Septuagint. It is a case of errors in the Greek transmission.

It is possible to see how the errors originated in the reading of Hosea 7:13. In the time of Aquila that copyist did not see the text but only heard it.

He copied the consonantal reading of the Masoretic tradition but in continuous writing of the letters. When the Hebrew reader to Aquila 130 CE read this text it sounded to Aquila as he translated it and he translated "a forager/harvest to them." When Symmachus translated the text he read it correct and the same as the consonantal text of the Masoretic tradition, namely with the reading "destruction [to them]"

Theodotion 190 CE seems to have consulted the Hebrew copy that Aquila used and he could see that it was supposed to read according to that errorful Hebrew copy that he used, "distress [to them". There is a link in the Hebrew text that these three Greek translators were using for their translations in the second century CE. The Greek in the time of Origen 240 CE shows that its translators were using a Hebrew copy that misread the consonantal text of the Hebrew as indicated above. 

The Coptic Tattam 1836 misread the Hebrew text as follows: "in poverty are they". The way it was misread is that its reader misread the letters of the Hebrew copy of the text that was used by the Greek translators of the text of Origen 240 CE. The letters are seen as a dittography. The /r/ was seen as a yod. The dittography of the /h/ as a /t/ preceding the /h/ is also part of the error of the Coptic translator.

The Syriac variant of "the evil I will bring upon them" gives us a hint of the origin of the Coptic variant but also vice versa. There is a link between the form of the Syriac and the form of the Coptic if retroverted back into Hebrew.

The Targumist misread the text as "wasters/plunderers I shall bring upon them". There is a link between the Targum and the Syriac but that link is rather to a common lost literal Aramaic Vorlage than to each other.

This is very poetic or cast in a hymn form. There is the double emphasis in the use of independent personal pronouns with the suffixes attached to the verbs.

One can arrange the poem as follows:

                    Woe to them

                 for they have wandered from me

            Destruction to them

                 for they have transgressed against me

            And I, I save them

            and they, they speak against me lies


God foresaw their rebellion because their hearts are hardened and they do not approach God for solutions in their lives (verse 14). "And not do they cry out unto me with their hearts for they shall howl upon their beds. For the sake of corn and wine will they assemble themselves. They will rebel against me."

The question is which text did Victor of Antioch used in his notes of Jeremiah 2:23? The form is very literal to the reading of the consonantal text of the Masoretic tradition. It was using this Greek text the way someone would use the Septuagint and then make reference to the private translations along with it by mentioning their names. We interpreted this situation as a citation of the Septuagint and a comparative comment on the private translations of the big three.

But Hosea the prophet said: they howled upon their bed.

The same thing Aquila and Symmachus presented "called extravagantly".

One should notice the differences with the conventional presentation of the Greek of the fifth century and later. This Greek of Victor does not read "in" but "upon" and does not read "beds" but "bed". The consonantal text of the Masoretic tradition reads "beds" but it also reads "upon". A misreading or error crept into the text of Victor for this singular. He probably used a copy of the text very similar to the consonantal text of the Masoretic tradition except for a miscopy of the omission of a waw in the word for "beds" resulting in a singular reading. The different translations in the Greek tradition are due to various interpretations of the semantics of the Hebrew words and not to a specific Hebrew form. This is a very exceptional situation comparing to all the other verses prior to this one.

The Coptic Tattam 1836 does not follow the translation of the Greek of the fifth century CE and later. It does not share that variant in the Vulgate 403 CE, Symmachus 170 CE, and Theodotion 190 CE of an "in" instead of an "upon". Different than all these translations the Coptic omitted the copulative and in the beginning of the sentence. Except for the variant of the omission of the and at the beginning of the verse, the Coptic does read the rest of the sentence similar to that Greek translation that one finds in 425 CE in Victor of Antioch's Nobil. ad Jeremia 2:23 (Origen?) which is unique in form to the rest of the Greek traditions.

We have seen that the form of the Greek of Victor of Antioch 425 CE (presumably a quote of the socalled Septuagint of Origen?) is very close to a literal reading of the consonantal text of the Masoretic tradition. Victor also quotes the readings of the great three private Greek translations of the century preceding Origen. After the death of Origen in the middle of the third century CE, the Origenic disciples moved to Caesarea and Theoctistus followed by Pamphilus and followed by Eusebius collected the works of Origen in a library, corrected Origen's Hexapla and editing the text of the Old and New Testament. Jerome 403 CE mentions that he had available Greek codices that reads variants for the text of Origen, and in our opinion the above three men should be held accountable for them. The hectic state of the presence and absence of hexaplaric sigla in the copies and transmission of the Hexapla should probably be also connected to the work of these three. Origen 240 CE was known for his attitude of carelessness for the sacredness of the letter of the Bible. One should expect that some form of influence rubbed off on his disciples and the elaborations and paraphrastic style of representation of the Greek text one can also find with Eusebius of Caesarea in this verse:

Eusebius' Greek text is ignoring the literalness of the Hebrew text and is focused more on the spirit of the text than the text itself. Origen's Semitic text was misread as follows: The word is the result of a misreading of the orthography of the letters in the text, namely reading in the consonantal text of the Masoretic tradition a word as "is cut". There are two errors here, haplography of the resh and substitution of zayin for waw.

Eusebius translated: "to depart".

"through delicacy and filling wheat and wine departed from me".

Origen translated: "to teach"

"upon wheat and wine is cut. They are taught in me".

From this data we can see that Eusebius deleted the misreading of the Hebrew word "is cut" by Origen and used another root to translate the last verb. The rest was paraphrased by Eusebius.

Lucian is said to have made his own translation in Antioch before his death in 312 CE. The Antiochian center of learning had men like Theodoret of Antioch and Victor of Antioch 425 CE. Our question is: was Victor of Antioch in 425 CE citing from Lucian's translation of Hosea or that of Origen and if Origen, which one?

Is it the original, Origen, or the Theoctistus-Pamphilus-Eusebius adjusted Origen? It further leads us to the question whether the preserved Origen in the Field 1875 edition is in fact the original Origen reading or the adjusted one by the above mentioned three men? After the time of Lucian and his translation, a prominent figure is said to have been the eloquent preacher and commentator John Chrysostom. He was known for the fact that he did not care if he repeats himself. What this means, is that he did not care for double entries of the same information? The flexible text that one finds in the Greek manuscripts v, t, p and d as well as n, g, l and w for the books of Judges and Joshua should rather be traced back to either Eusebius and his predecessors in Caesarea or to Chrysostom of Antioch and his preaching style than to Lucian. The literalness of Victor of Antioch 425 CE in this verse stands in contrast with the general spirit of translation in the manuscripts generally ascribed to Lucian of Antioch 312 CE by modern scholars.

I am mentioning Jerome in this commentary and he is admired despite his shortcomings. Anyone familiar with the works of his rival Augustine of Rome will know that Augustine was a lazy biblical reader. In fact, if you look through his works, most of the times he cites the same passages over and over again like a preacher who once preached one good sermon and now goes from church to church to preach the same sermon verbatim (with gestures included!). His biblical understanding is rather thin compared to the endless study of the scriptures that one finds in Jerome. The Jacques Maritain Center explains that Jerome had some defects: He has the unfortunate defect of his extraordinary swiftness, that he is extremely inaccurate, and his historical statements need careful control (see here under the term Victor of Antioch).  Augustine is a controversialist who is not interested in the letter of the bible but only its spirit. Is it not interesting that the two men who viewed their sexual life as traumatic (Origen 213 CE and Augustine 380 CE) are the two who care nothing for the letter of the scriptures but only its spirit?

There is a remarkable close correspondence between the biblical text of Lucifer of Cagliari ?354 (adult) - 371 CE in his commentaries and some text from Qumran. He went to Scythopolis in Syria and from there to Eleutheropolis (Beit Guvrin, Tel Marasha)  in Palestine, to Thebaid and then to Antioch.

The friend and fellow brother in exile was Eusebius of Vercelli 283-371 CE. Eusebius translated into Latin a Greek commentary of Eusebius of Caesarea. Eusebius of Caesarea 260 - 341 CE in his turn was a friend and admirer of Pamphilus who came from Phoenicia and was tortured in 307 CE.

Pamphilus copied many scriptures and books of Origen 250 CE. He worked in the Library at Caesarea and according to Jerome 400 CE, Pamphilus use to give away many of the copies of the scriptures to poor students (Jerome, Adv. Rufi. l, ix). Jerome himself had 25 volumes of commentaries of Origen copied by Pamphilus in his possession. He said that Pamphilus transcribed the greater part of the works of Origen with his own hand (Jerome, De Vir. III, lxxv). Most of the copies of Pamphilus were translated from the Hexapla which was in the library of Caesarea and compared with a copy subscribed I, Eusebuis, corrected [the above] as carefully as I could (Harnack, "Altchrist. Lit.," 544-545.

In the preface to Ezechiel of Codex Marchalianus (see Swete, OT in Greek, Vol. III, viii; Migne; Mai, "Bib. nov. Pat." IV: 218) it is stated:

"It was transcribed from the Tetrapla of Origen himself which also had been corrected and furnished with scholia in his own handwriting, whence I, Eusebius added the scholia, Pamphilius and Eusebius corrected."

In the Codex Sinaiticus of the Book of Esdras (see Swete, OT in Greek, Vol. II, 212) it is stated:

"It was compared with a very ancient copy that had been corrected by the hand of the blessed martyr Pamphilus to which is appended in his own hand this subscription: It was transcribed and corrected according to the Hexapla of Origen, Antoninus compared, I Pamphilus corrected."

Origen copied the Tetrapla but added scholia (learned discussions) to it. Eusebius also added his own scholia. The translation of Eusebius is then a complex combination of readings from the original Tetrapla of Origen, his scholia and Eusebius own scholia. No wonder that the text of Eusebius does not correspond exactly to that of Origen. Pamphilus copied from the Hexapla of Origen, Antoninus compared and Pamphilus corrected. Copies were not only made but also corrected by the scribes (see http://www.newadventorg/cathen/09410b.htm).

In verse 15 the Lord said that He will instruct and strenghthen their arms but still unto the Lord they will think evil: "And I, I will instruct and I strenghtened their arms and unto me they will think evil." Many parents suffer with the same problem. They have given their children all that they could but they almost disown their parents, love slapped away and cast into a garbage can. People have not changed at all in our age of digital modernism.

The Septuagint left out the word "I will instruct". The way this word dropped out of the original is the similarity of words earlier in the verse. In the original the letters are all in the same line with no spaces.

In this case two words show similarity in the original.

After translating and remembering the first word, he translated "and I" looked up (maybe talked to someone) and returning saw the similar word and mistakenly thought that it is the word he already translated and continued without translating it. There is no need to follow the suggestion by some scholars in the lower register of the BHS (or Masoretic text edition that we are using) to delete this word from the Hebrew on the basis of the Septuagint.

It is remarkable how Hosea is using two different forms of first person indepedent pronouns in the same chapter, namely in 7:13c and in 7:15a. It is apparent that Hosea was multi-lingual and that he could speak in the dialects of both his own mother-tongue and that of the Phoenicians.

Even though the Lord is good to them, it will not help. The wayward remnant is going to suffer in Egypt. Later in Jeremiah's days they were warned not to go to Egypt and yet they went (verse 16). "They shall turn, not upward. They are like a deceitful bow. Their princes shall fall by the sword from the rage of their tongue. This, their derision in the land of Egypt."

God talks centuries ahead and sometime millennia. He is not like humans that only see next year as a maybe situation.

Here the demonstrative pronoun is a Phoenician form namely, zw. This chapter was remarkable for its evidences of Phoenician linguistic features. As to what this "upward" is, one can speculate. Why would the prophet not say the name of God or the Lord here but use the expression "upward"? Since the verse has an arrow and bow in mind it is more likely that they are like arrows which does not turn upward but goes the opposite way. Such an effect makes the bow really "deceitful". The meaning of "upward" as "divine" or "God" or "Most High" is ruled out by our translation and interpretation.

Calvin in his commentary are trying to make a case here for the reading to refer to God "as it is also in other places" but he did not provide any reference for us to control check the situation. He complains that some scholars see it as the preposition "they return but not for anything". He considers this rendering as "strained". We are interpreting this as a preposition but meaning "upward". The Geneva Bible reads "They return, [but] not to the most High". The word "most" does not appear in the original and is merely an interpretation.


Dear God

Constant Godly love you bestow upon them without stop, even over hundreds of years from Hosea to Jeremiah predicted but they threw sand in Your eyes. Help us to be a proper arrow going upward properly for God. In Jesus name, Amen.