סְבָבֻנִי בְכַחַשׁ אֶפְרַיִם וּבְמִרְמָה בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל וִיהוּדָה עֹד רָד עִם־אֵל וְעִם־קְדֹושִׁים נֶאֱמָן׃ 12:1
Hose. 12:1 “Ephraim surrounds Me with falsehood,
and the house of Israel, with deceit.
Judah strays even more against God,
though with the holy things he remains faithful.
The next-to-last Hebrew word in this verse, which I translate as though with the holy things, is translated differently in many, if not all bibles. I have found the following diverse translations: 1) and towards [or to] the Holy One, 2) and with the saints, 3) their kings to God, and 4) even against the Holy One. In the Christian bibles, most of the verse is also mistranslated, turning it into a prophesy, which it is not by any stretch of the imagination of anyone who might be impartial. The only translation that makes sense to me is what I offer above. It explains why the Lord is going easy on Judah as described by Hosea previously (see Hose. 1:7).
אֶפְרַיִם רֹעֶה רוּחַ וְרֹדֵף קָדִים כָּל־הַיֹּום כָּזָב וָשֹׁד יַרְבֶּה וּבְרִית עִם־אַשּׁוּר יִכְרֹתוּ וְשֶׁמֶן לְמִצְרַיִם 12:2 יוּבָל׃
Hose. 12:2 “Ephraim is a shepherd of wind
and a pursuer of the east wind;
all the time he would increase deception and violence,
that they would make an alliance with Assyria,
and oil would be carried to Egypt.”
וְרִיב לַיהוָה עִם־יְהוּדָה וְלִפְקֹד עַל־יַעֲקֹב כִּדְרָכָיו כְּמַעֲלָלָיו יָשִׁיב לֹו׃ 12:3
Hose. 12:3 And the Lord has a dispute with Judah,
and will be bringing punishment on Jacob according to his ways;
He will pay back to him according to his deeds.
בַּבֶּטֶן עָקַב אֶת־אָחִיו וּבְאֹונֹו שָׂרָה אֶת־אֱלֹהִים׃ 12:4
Hose. 12:4 In the womb he took his brother by the heel,
and by his strength struggled with God.
וָיָּשַׂר אֶל־מַלְאָךְ וַיֻּכָל בָּכָה וַיִּתְחַןֶּן־לֹו בֵּית־אֵל יִמְצָאֶנּוּ וְשָׁם יְדַבֵּר עִמָּנוּ׃ 12:5
Hose. 12:5 “But he struggled against an angel, and prevailed;
he wept and sought favor for himself;
Beth-el, he tried to find Us, and there he could speak with Us.”
Here may be one of the rare times in the bible that the Lord speaks of Himself in the plural. It’s just as possible, however, that He was speaking of Himself and the angel.
וַיהוָה אֱלֹהֵי הַצְּבָאֹות יְהוָה זִכְרֹו׃ 12:6
Hose. 12:6 “And the Lord, God of the hosts,
the Lord is his Memorial.”
כְּנַעַן בְּיָדֹו מֹאזְנֵי מִרְמָה לַעֲשֹׁק אָהֵב׃ 12:7
Hose. 12:7 “So you must return to your God;
keep mercy and justice,
and look continually to your God.”
וְאַתָּה בֵּאלֹהֶיךָ תָשׁוּב חֶסֶד וּמִשְׁפָּט שְׁמֹר וְקַוֵּה אֶל־אֱלֹהֶיךָ תָּמִיד׃ 12:8
Hose. 12:8 “The trader, scales of deceit are in his hand;
he loves to oppress.”
וַיֹּאמֶר אֶפְרַיִם אַךְ עָשַׁרְתִּי מָצָאתִי אֹון לִי כָּל־יְגִיעַי לֹא יִמְצְאוּ־לִי עָוֹן אֲשֶׁר־חֵטְא׃ 12:9
Hose. 12:9 “And Ephraim says, ‘Surely, I have become rich;
I have acquired wealth for myself;
of all my endeavors,
they can find no iniquity in me that is sin.’”
וְאָנֹכִי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם עֹד אֹושִׁיבְךָ בָאֳהָלִים כִּימֵי מֹועֵד׃ 12:10
Hose. 12:10 “But I am the Lord, your God,
since the land of Egypt;
again I will cause you to dwell in tents,
as the time of appointed season.”
This verse appears to be referring to the time of the third Temple that Ezekiel would describe over a century later in Chapters 40 to 48.
וְדִבַּרְתִּי עַל־הַנְּבִיאִים וְאָנֹכִי חָזֹון הִרְבֵּיתִי וּבְיַד הַנְּבִיאִים אֲדַמֶּה׃ 12:11
Hose. 12:11 “So I speak with the prophets and I increase vision,
that by the hand of the prophets I may make comparisons.”
אִם־גִּלְעָד אָוֶן אַךְ־שָׁוְא הָיוּ בַּגִּלְגָּל שְׁוָרִים זִבֵּחוּ גַּם מִזְבְּחֹותָם כְּגַלִּים עַל תַּלְמֵי שָׂדָי׃ 12:12
Hose. 12:12 Since Gilead is wicked, surely it is vain;
in Gilgal they sacrifice bulls,
their altars indeed as mounds beside the furrows of the field.
My guess is that this verse, and particularly the simile in the last line, implies that the altars were everywhere, literally side by side and in rows.
וַיִּבְרַח יַעֲקֹב שְׂדֵה אֲרָם וַיַּעֲבֹד יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּאִשָּׁה וּבְאִשָּׁה שָׁמָר׃ 12:13
Hose. 12:13 When Jacob reached the field of Aram,
then Israel served because of a wife,
but he waited for another wife.
These wives must be Leah and Rachel.
וּבְנָבִיא הֶעֱלָה יְהוָה אֶת־יִשְׂרָאֵל מִמִּצְרָיִם וּבְנָבִיא נִשְׁמָר׃ 12:14
Hose. 12:14 And by a prophet the Lord brought up Israel from Egypt,
and by a prophet he was kept.
The prophet must be Moses.
הִכְעִיס אֶפְרַיִם תַּמְרוּרִים וְדָמָיו עָלָיו יִטֹּושׁ וְחֶרְפָּתֹו יָשִׁיב לֹו אֲדֹנָיו׃ 12:15
Hose. 12:15 Ephraim has provoked bitter feelings;
so his blood must fall upon him,
and his Master must turn his scorn back to him.
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