Hosea 10

 

גֶּפֶן בֹּוקֵק יִשְׂרָאֵל פְּרִי יְשַׁוֶּה־לֹּו כְּרֹב לְפִרְיֹו הִרְבָּה לַמִּזְבְּחֹות כְּטֹוב לְאַרְצֹו הֵיטִיבוּ מַצֵּבֹות׃   10:1

Hose. 10:1   Israel was a bare vine;

                              it could have set fruit for him;

                       as the increase to his fruit was the increase to the altars;

                              according to his land's prosperity the pillars rejoiced.

In some bibles the first two line of this verse are mistranslated with considerable change in meaning.  They offer something like “Israel was a luxuriant vine which put forth fruit freely: ....”  The word for bare (in my translation) is given an opposite meaning, and the verb I translate as could have set is translated there in the past tense when the verb is in the imperfect form.  There might be some justification for this mistranslation, as it could serve to introduce the next two lines.  Here, though, is my belief as to the meaning of the phrase as I translated it:  If Israel was true to the Lord, the vine would have been luxuriant and would have produced even more fruit.  But that was not to be, so the people had to do with whatever increase they could muster.

חָלַק לִבָּם עַתָּה יֶאְשָׁמוּ הוּא יַעֲרֹף מִזְבְּחֹותָם יְשֹׁדֵד מַצֵּבֹותָם׃   10:2

Hose. 10:2   Their heart is assigned;

                               Now they shall be held guilty.

                       He shall break the neck of their altars;

                               He shall crumble their pillars.

כִּי עַתָּה יֹאמְרוּ אֵין מֶלֶךְ לָנוּ כִּי לֹא יָרֵאנוּ אֶת־יְהוָה וְהַמֶּלֶךְ מַה־יַּעֲשֶׂה־לָּנוּ׃   10:3

Hose. 10:3   For now they can say,

                                “There is no king for us;

                       if we do not fear the Lord,

                                then what can the king do to us?”

דִּבְּרוּ דְבָרִים אָלֹות שָׁוְא כָּרֹת בְּרִית וּפָרַח כָּרֹאשׁ מִשְׁפָּט עַל תַּלְמֵי שָׂדָי׃   10:4

Hose. 10:4   They speak words, swearing falsehood, making covenant;

                                so judgment shall shoot up like a poison plant on the furrows of a field.

לְעֶגְלֹות בֵּית אָוֶן יָגוּרוּ שְׁכַן שֹׁמְרֹון כִּי־אָבַל עָלָיו עַמֹּו וּכְמָרָיו עָלָיו יָגִילוּ עַל־כְּבֹודֹו כִּי־גָלָה מִמֶּנּוּ׃   10:5

Hose. 10:5   Inhabitant of Samaria, they shall fear for the heifers of Beth-aven,

                                 for its people mourns over it,

                        and its idolatrous priests shall tremble because of it

                                 -- for its glory -- as it departs from it.

The phrase heifers of Beth-aven is thought to be a reference to the idols, and the inhabitants of Samaria mourn because their idols are being carried off into captivity.

גַּם־אֹותֹו לְאַשּׁוּר יוּבָל מִנְחָה לְמֶלֶךְ יָרֵב בָּשְׁנָה אֶפְרַיִם יִקָּח וְיֵבֹושׁ יִשְׂרָאֵל מֵעֲצָתֹו׃   10:6

Hose. 10:6   He will also bring it to Assyria,

                                 a gift to the king of contention;

                        Ephraim shall receive shame,

                                 and Israel shall be disappointed by his counsel.                  [Return to Hose. 5:13]

נִדְמֶה שֹׁמְרֹון מַלְכָּהּ כְּקֶצֶף עַל־פְּנֵי־מָיִם׃   10:7

Hose. 10:7   Her king is being cut off of Samaria

                                 as a broken twig on the surface of water.

וְנִשְׁמְדוּ בָּמֹות אָוֶן חַטַּאת יִשְׂרָאֵל קֹוץ וְדַרְדַּר יַעֲלֶה עַל־מִזְבְּחֹותָם וְאָמְרוּ לֶהָרִים כַּסּוּנוּ וְלַגְּבָעֹות   10:8 נִפְלוּ עָלֵינוּ׃

Hose. 10:8   And the high places of wickedness, the sin of Israel, shall be destroyed.

                               Thorn and thistle shall spring up on their altars,

                       and they shall say to the mountains, “Cover us,”

                                to the hills, “Fall on us.”

מִימֵי הַגִּבְעָה חָטָאתָ יִשְׂרָאֵל שָׁם עָמָדוּ לֹא־תַשִּׂיגֵם בַּגִּבְעָה מִלְחָמָה עַל־בְּנֵי עַלְוָה׃   10:9

Hose. 10:9   From the time of Gibeah you have sinned, Israel.

                               There they stood;

                       a battle against the children of iniquity

                               could not overtake them in Gibeah.

Mention of Gibeah in this verse has led to much speculation among the rabbis and bible commentators.  Needless to say, no one knows its complete significance.  However, I agree with most that more than likely it refers to the episode related in Joshua Chapters 19 and 20.  But there are still problems, even with that understanding.  The phrase there they stood offers a puzzle.  And the meaning of the last two lines here is not explained by reference to those chapters, because toward the end of Chapter 20, the Benjamites and the men of Gibeah are overtaken and virtually completely destroyed.

בְּאַוָּתִי וְאֶסֳּרֵם וְאֻסְּפוּ עֲלֵיהֶם עַמִּים בְּאָסְרָם לִשְׁתֵּי (עֵינֹתָם) [עֹונֹתָם]׃   10:10

Hose. 10:10   “According to My desire, then I chastened them;

                                then the peoples, gathered against them,

                         binding them in both of their eyes.”

As far as I am concerned, the word in alleged error in the parentheses is correctly spelled.  The correction in the brackets morphing the yad to a vav changes the word into something with an inappropriate meaning.  I’m quite certain that the word is correct and is translated appropriately as their eyes.  I think the intent of the last line is that the children of iniquity (in the preceding verse) were blind.

וְאֶפְרַיִם עֶגְלָה מְלֻמָּדָה אֹהַבְתִּי לָדוּשׁ וַאֲנִי עָבַרְתִּי עַל־טוּב צַוָּארָהּ אַרְכִּיב אֶפְרַיִם יַחֲרֹושׁ יְהוּדָה   10:11 יְשַׂדֶּד־לֹו יַעֲקֹב׃

Hose. 10:11   “And Ephraim was a trained heifer

                                 I loved to tread on as I passed over the beauty of her neck;

                          I would ride Ephraim,

                                 Judah would plow,

                         Jacob would till him.”

The pronouns in this verse might be a little confusing.  Here are my thoughts on them.  The pronoun her in the second line has the heifer (which is a feminine noun) as its antecedent  The pronoun him in the last line has Ephraim (or his land) as its antecedent.  Hosea’s use of the term heifer probably reflects its use in v. 10:5 above.  His farming metaphor, started in this verse, continues through v. 10:13.

זִרְעוּ לָכֶם לִצְדָקָה קִצְרוּ לְפִי־חֶסֶד נִירוּ לָכֶם נִיר וְעֵת לִדְרֹושׁ אֶת־יְהוָה עַד־יָבֹוא וְיֹרֶה צֶדֶק לָכֶם׃   10:12

Hose. 10:12   Sow in righteousness for yourselves,

                                   reap according to mercy.

                          break up the untilled ground for yourselves,

                                  as it is time to seek the Lord

                         until He will come and make righteousness rain for you.

חֲרַשְׁתֶּם־רֶשַׁע עַוְלָתָה קְצַרְתֶּם אֲכַלְתֶּם פְּרִי־כָחַשׁ כִּי־בָטַחְתָּ בְדַרְךְּךָ בְּרֹב גִּבֹּורֶיךָ׃   10:13

Hose. 10:13   You plough wickedness,

                                  you reap injustice;

                          you eat the fruit of lying,

                                  for you believe in your own way,

                          in the greatness of your mighty men.

The first three second-person pronouns in this verse are plural (as are those in the preceding verse), addressing, I believe, each of the people individually.  Then the remaining three are singular.  With those Hosea is addressing the whole of the people.

וְקָאם שָׁאֹון בְּעַמֶּךָ וְכָל־מִבְצָרֶיךָ יוּשַּׁד כְּשֹׁד שַׁלְמַן בֵּית אַרְבֵאל בְּיֹום מִלְחָמָה אֵם עַל־בָּנִים   10:14       רֻטָּשָׁה׃

Hose. 10:14   So an uproar shall arise among your peoples,

                                  and it shall devastate all your fortifications

                          as Shalman plundered Beth-arbel in the day of battle;

                                  the mother was dashed to pieces, together with the children.

The reason for Hosea’s mention of Shalman is obscure.  Some believe it refers to Shalmaneser, the Assyrian king, who is identified in 2Kin. 17:3.  Others consider the term Shalman a symbol of any Assyrian king.

כָּכָה עָשָׂה לָכֶם בֵּית־אֵל מִפְּנֵי רָעַת רָעַתְכֶם בַּשַּׁחַר נִדְמֹה נִדְמָה מֶלֶךְ יִשְׂרָאֵל׃   10:15

Hose. 10:15   Thus Beth-el did to you because of the extent of your wickedness.

                                  At dawn the king of Israel is utterly cut off.

The reference to Beth-el probably implies that as one of the major seats of idol worship, it contributes to their devastation.

 

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