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The Lord’s Covenant Lawsuit against the Nation Israel

Listen to the Lord’s message, you Israelites![a]
For the Lord has a covenant lawsuit[b] against the people of Israel.[c]
For there is neither faithfulness nor loyalty in the land,
nor do they acknowledge God.[d]
There is only cursing, lying, murder, stealing, and adultery.
They resort to violence and bloodshed.[e]

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  1. Hosea 4:1 tn Heb “sons of Israel” (so NASB); cf. KJV “children of Israel,” and NAB, NRSV “people of Israel.”
  2. Hosea 4:1 tn The noun רִיב (riv, “dispute, lawsuit”) 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 in which Yahweh the suzerain lodges a legal case against his disobedient vassal, accusing Israel and Judah of breach of covenant that will elicit the covenant curses.
  3. Hosea 4:1 tn Heb “with the inhabitants of the land” (so KJV); cf. NAB, NASB, NRSV “against the inhabitants of the land.”
  4. Hosea 4:1 tn Heb “there is no truthfulness nor loyalty nor knowledge of God in the land.” Here “knowledge of God” refers to recognition of his authority and obedience to his will.
  5. Hosea 4:2 tn Heb “they break out, and bloodshed touches bloodshed.” The Hebrew term פָּרַץ (parats, “to break out”) refers to violent and wicked actions (BDB 829 s.v. פָּרַץ 7; HALOT 972 s.v. פרץ 6.c). It is used elsewhere in a concrete sense to describe breaking through physical barriers. Here it is used figuratively to describe breaking moral barriers and restraints (cf. TEV “Crimes increase, and there is one murder after another”).

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