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12 Ephraim continually feeds on the wind;
he chases the east wind all day;
he multiplies lies and violence.
They make treaties[a] with Assyria,
and send olive oil as tribute[b] to Egypt.
The Lord also has a covenant lawsuit[c] against Judah;
he will punish Jacob according to his ways
and repay him according to his deeds.

Israel Must Return to the God of Jacob

In the womb he attacked his brother;
in his manly vigor he struggled[d] with God.

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  1. Hosea 12:1 tn Heb “a treaty” (so NIV, NRSV); cf. KJV, NASB “a covenant,” NAB “comes to terms.”
  2. Hosea 12:1 tn The phrase “as tribute” does not appear in the Hebrew text but is supplied in the translation for clarity (cf. NCV “send a gift of olive oil”).
  3. Hosea 12:2 tn The noun רִיב (riv, “dispute”) is used in two contexts: (1) nonlegal contexts: (a) “dispute” between individuals (e.g., Gen 13:7; Isa 58:1; Jer 15:10) or (b) “brawl, quarrel” between people (e.g., Exod 17:7; Deut 25:1); and (2) legal contexts: (a) “lawsuit, legal process” (e.g., Exod 23:3-6; Deut 19:17; 21:5; Ezek 44:24; Ps 35:23), (b) “lawsuit, legal case” (e.g., Deut 1:12; 17:8; Prov 18:17; 25:9), and (c) God’s “lawsuit” on behalf of a person or against his own people (Hos 4:1; 12:3; Mic 6:2; HALOT 1225-26 s.v. רִיב). The term in Hosea refers to a covenant lawsuit that Yahweh, the suzerain, lodges against his disobedient vassal, accusing Israel and Judah of breach of covenant that will elicit the covenant curses (cf. NLT “is bringing a lawsuit”).
  4. Hosea 12:3 tn The verb שָׂרָה (sarah) means “to strive, contend” (HALOT 1354 s.v. שׂרה) or “persevere, persist” (BDB 975 s.v. שָׂרָה; see Gen 32:29). Almost all English versions render the verb here in terms of the former: NAB, NASB “contended”; NRSV “strove”; TEV, CEV “fought against.”

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