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There is only cursing, lying, murder, stealing, and adultery.
They resort to violence and bloodshed.[a]
Therefore the land will mourn,
and all its inhabitants will perish.[b]
The wild animals,[c] the birds of the sky,
and even the fish in the sea will perish.

The Lord’s Dispute against the Sinful Priesthood

Do not let anyone accuse or contend against anyone else:[d]
for my case is against you priests![e]

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  1. 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”).
  2. Hosea 4:3 tn Or “languish” (so KJV, NRSV); cf. NIV “waste away.”
  3. Hosea 4:3 tn Heb “the beasts of the field” (so NAB, NIV).
  4. Hosea 4:4 tn Or “Let no one contend or accuse.”
  5. Hosea 4:4 tc The MT reads וְעַמְּךָ כִּמְרִיבֵי כֹהֵן (veʿammekha kimrive khohen), “And your people [are] like those who contend against the priest.” This is reflected in the LXX and the versions; however, it is syntactically awkward and makes little sense in context. Several textual critics suggest emending the text to read וְעִמְּךָ רִיבִי כֹהֵן (veʿimmekha rivi khohen), “My contention is with/against you, O priest!” This involves (1) the revocalization of עַמְּךָ (“your people”) to עִמְּךָ (“with/against you”) and (2) positing dittography (a letter written twice instead of once) of כְּ (kaf) between original וְעַמְּךָ רִיבִי to create וְעַמְּךָ כִּרִיבִי (MT). The BHS editors suggest that the MT should be emended. However, the editors of the Hebrew Old Testament Text Project retain the MT reading with a “B” rating. Likewise, the English translations are split: (1) KJV “for thy people are as they that strive with the priest”; NASB “for your people are like those who contend with the priest”; and NIV “for your people are like those who bring charges against a priest”; and (2) RSV “for with you is my contention, O priest”; NJPS: “for this your people has a grievance against [you], O priest!”; TEV “my complaint is against you priests”; and CEV “My case is against you, the priests!”tn The singular noun כֹּהֵן (cohen, “priest”) may be understood as a singular of number (so KJV, NASB, NRSV), referring to a singular individual (perhaps the high priest); however, it is more likely that it functions as a collective singular, referring to the priesthood as a whole (e.g., 4:7-10, so NAB, NCV, TEV, NLT, CEV). Collective singular forms alternate with plural forms throughout the oracle against the priests in 4:4-10.

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