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Fertility Cult Festivals Have Intoxicated Israel

O Israel, do not rejoice jubilantly[a] like the nations,
for you are unfaithful[b] to your God.
You love to receive a prostitute’s wages[c]
on all the floors where you thresh your grain.
Threshing floors and wine vats will not feed the people,[d]
and new wine only deceives them.[e]

Assyrian Exile Will Reverse the Egyptian Exodus

They will not remain in the Lord’s land.
Ephraim will return to Egypt;
they will eat ritually unclean food in Assyria.
They will not pour out drink offerings of wine to the Lord;
they will not please him with their sacrifices.
Their sacrifices will be like bread eaten while in mourning;
all those who eat them will make themselves ritually unclean.
For their bread will be only to satisfy their appetite;
it will not come into the temple of the Lord.
So what will you do on the festival day,
on the festival days of the Lord?

No Escape for the Israelites This Time

Look![f] Even if[g] they flee from the destruction,
Egypt will take hold of[h] them,
and Memphis will bury them.
The weeds will inherit the silver they treasure[i]
thorn bushes will occupy their homes.[j]
The time of judgment[k] is about to arrive![l]
The time of retribution[m] is imminent![n]
Israel will be humbled![o]

Israel Rejects Hosea’s Prophetic Exhortations

The prophet is considered a fool[p]
the inspired man[q] is viewed as a madman[r]
because of the multitude of your sins
and your intense[s] animosity.
The prophet[t] is a watchman[u] over Ephraim[v] on behalf of God,[w]
yet traps[x] are laid for him along all his paths;[y]
animosity rages against him in the land[z] of his God.

The Best of Times, the Worst of Times

They have sunk deep into corruption[aa]
as in the days of Gibeah.
He will remember their wrongdoing.
He will repay them for their sins.
10 When I found Israel, it was like finding grapes in the wilderness.
I viewed your ancestors[ab] like an early fig on a fig tree in its first season.
Then they came to Baal Peor and they dedicated themselves to shame—
they became as detestable as what they loved.

The Fertility Worshipers Will Become Infertile

11 Ephraim will be like a bird;
what they value[ac] will fly away.
They will not bear children—
they will not enjoy pregnancy—
they will not even conceive![ad]
12 Even if they raise their children,
I will take away every last one of them.[ae]
Woe to them!
For I will turn away from them.
13 Ephraim, as I have seen, has given their children for prey;[af]
Ephraim will bear his sons for slaughter.
14 Give them, O Lord
what will you give them?
Give them wombs that miscarry,
and breasts that cannot nurse![ag]
15 Because of all their evil in Gilgal,
I hate them there.
On account of their evil deeds,
I will drive them out of my land.[ah]
I will no longer love them;
all their rulers are rebels.
16 Ephraim will be struck down[ai]
their root will be dried up;
they will not yield any fruit.
Even if they do bear children,
I will kill their precious offspring.
17 My God will reject them,
for they have not obeyed him;
so they will be fugitives among the nations.


  1. Hosea 9:1 tn Heb “do not rejoice unto jubilation”; cf. KJV “Rejoice not…for joy,” NASB “Do not rejoice…with exultation.”
  2. Hosea 9:1 tn Heb “you have committed adultery”; cf. NRSV “you have played the whore.”
  3. Hosea 9:1 tn Heb “you love the wages of the prostitute” (NIV similar); cf. NAB “loving a harlot’s hire.”
  4. Hosea 9:2 tn Heb “them”; the referent (the people) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  5. Hosea 9:2 tn Heb “her” (so KJV, ASV). This is taken as a collective singular (so also most modern English versions).
  6. Hosea 9:6 tn The deictic particle הִנֵּה (hinneh, “Behold!”) is used frequently in prophetic announcements, introducing a solemn or important declaration, particularly in threats of judgment (BDB 244 s.v. הִנֵּה b.β). Many modern English versions leave this particle untranslated here.
  7. Hosea 9:6 tn The conjunction כִּי (ki) introduces a concessive clause: “Although, when, if, even if” (BDB 473 s.v. כִּי 2.c.β). It has a force approximating “even if” (so NIV, NCV, NRSV, CEV, NLT), but it represents a situation as more likely to occur than אִם (‘im, “if”). The concessive use of כִּי is normally followed by an imperfect, but occasionally a perfect is used, as is the case here (e.g., Mic 7:8; Nah 1:10; Pss 21:12; 119:83).
  8. Hosea 9:6 tn The verb קָבַץ (qavats, “to gather together”) should be nuanced as “grab hold” in this context (HALOT 1063 s.v. קבץ). This pictures a personified Egypt taking the fugitives prisoner.
  9. Hosea 9:6 tn Heb “the treasured things of their silver”; cf. NASB, NIV, TEV, NLT “treasures of silver.”
  10. Hosea 9:6 tn Heb “their tents” (so NIV, NRSV); cf. CEV “your tents.”
  11. Hosea 9:7 tn Heb “the days of the visitation”; cf. NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV “the days of punishment.”
  12. Hosea 9:7 tn Heb “has come” (בָּאוּ, baʾu). The two perfect-tense (suffix-conjugation) verbs בָּאוּ (Qal perfect third person common plural from בּוֹא, boʾ, “to come”) repeated in this verse are examples of the so-called “prophetic perfect.” The perfect, which connotes completed or factual action, is used in reference to future events to emphasize the certainty of the announced event taking place.
  13. Hosea 9:7 tn Heb “the days of the retribution”; cf. NIV “of reckoning,” and NRSV “of recompense.”
  14. Hosea 9:7 tn Heb “has come”; cf. NIV “are at hand,” NLT “is almost here.”
  15. Hosea 9:7 tc The MT reads יֵדְעוּ (yedeʿu, “Let them know”; cf. NIV, NAS, and see note below). The LXX reads κακωθήσεται (kakōthēsetai; “they will be afflicted”). The LXX reads a resh (ר) rather than a dalet (ד), a common scribal error, and probably understood it as יָרִעוּ (yariʿu), a Hiphil imperfect from the root רעע (resh, ʿayin, ʿayin), meaning to “treat badly.” These same consonants could also be understood as יֵרְעוּ (yereʿu), a Qal jussive from the root ירע (yaraʿ): “Let them tremble/be apprehensive.” This is a rare root that the LXX also did not recognize in Isa 15:4. Additionally, the MT breaks the verse after יֵדְעוּ (yedeʿu) by placing the atnakh (colon-divider) here, while the LXX includes the verb with the second half of the verse. The Old Greek reads the verb with the following lines as יָרִעוּ (yariʿu), a Hiphil from the root רוּעַ (ruaʿ) meaning “to shout” (cf. NRSV), appearing to introduce quotations of Israel mocking Hosea (but this is not a known function of that verbal root). Aquila (ἔγνω, egnō) and Symmachus (γνώσεται, gnōsetai) both reflect the proto-MT tradition. For a discussion of this textual and syntactical problem, see H. W. Wolff, Hosea (Hermeneia), The verb may be imperfect “they will X” (KJV, ESV) or jussive “let them X” (NIV, NASB). The common verb יָדַע (yadaʿ) means “to know.” Among homophonous roots DCH includes יָדַע II (yadaʿ) meaning “be submissive, humbled; be quiet, at rest” (cf. Job 21:19; Prov 5:6; Isa 45:4; Jer 14:18). Reading either יֵדְעוּ (yedeʿu) “Israel will be humbled” or יֵרְעוּ (yereʿu) “Israel will tremble” makes equally good sense in context.
  16. Hosea 9:7 tn Or “is distraught”; cf. CEV, NLT “are crazy.”
  17. Hosea 9:7 tn Heb “the man of the Spirit”; cf. NAB, NRSV “spirit.”
  18. Hosea 9:7 tn Or “is driven to despair.” The term מְשֻׁגָּע (meshuggaʿ, Pual participle masculine singular from שָׁגַע, shagaʿ, “to be mad”) may be understood in two senses: (1) a predicate adjective as a figure of speech: “to be maddened,” to be driven to despair (Deut 28:34); or (2) a substantive: “a madman,” referring to prophets who attempted to enter into a prophetic state through whipping themselves into a frenzy (1 Sam 21:15 HT [21:15 ET]; 2 Kgs 9:11; Jer 29:26; see BDB 993 s.v. שָׁגַע). The prophetic context of 9:7 favors the latter option, which is followed by most English versions. Apparently, the general populace viewed these mantics with suspicion and questioned the legitimacy of their claim to be true prophets (e.g., 2 Kgs 9:11; Jer 29:26).
  19. Hosea 9:7 tn Heb “great.”
  20. Hosea 9:8 tc The Leningrad Codex (the MT ms used for BHS) and Aleppo Codex both place the atnakh (colon divider) after אלהי (“my God”) and connect נָבִיא (naviʾ, “prophet”) with the following colon. On the other hand, BHS suggests that נָבִיא belongs with the first colon. For discussion of this syntactical problem, see F. I. Andersen and D. N. Freedman, Hosea (AB), 533-34.
  21. Hosea 9:8 tc The syntax of this line is difficult, and the questionable text has four main interpretive options. First, one could adopt the MT vocalization and BHS line division: צֹפֶה אֶפְרַיִם עִם־אֱלֹהָי נָבִיא (tsofeh ʾefrayim ʿim elohay naviʾ, “The prophet is a watchman over Ephraim with my God [= on behalf of God]”). There are two problems with this view. Although BHS places נָבִיא (“prophet”) with this colon, the Aleppo Codex and Leningrad Codex both connect נָבִיא with the next colon (as do KJV, ASV). Also, the phrase עִם־אֱלֹהָי (“with my God”) is difficult to explain. Second, one could adopt the MT vocalization and the MT line division:צֹפֶה אֶפְרַיִם עִם־אֱלֹהָי נָבִיא (“Ephraim is a watchman with my God”; cf. NASB). The problem with this view is that Ephraim hardly fits the description of a prophetic watchman. Third, one could revocalize the MT and adopt BHS line division: צֹפֶה אֶפְרַיִם עַם אֱלֹהָי נָבִיא (“Ephraim—the people of my God!—lies in ambush for the prophet”). This involves: (a) revocalization of the preposition עִם (ʿim, “with”) to the noun עַם (ʿam, “people”), (b) taking עַם־אֱלֹהָי (“people of my God”) in apposition to אֶפְרַיִם (“Ephraim”), and (c) nuancing צֹפֶה as “to lie in wait (=set ambush)” (e.g., Ps 37:32). This is contextually attractive and harmonizes well with the following line: “traps are laid along all his paths.” However, it has two problems: (a) there is no textual evidence supporting the revocalization of עם as “people,” and (b) the unusual nuance, “to lie in wait,” for צֹפֶה occurs only in Ps 37:32, where it takes the preposition לְ (lamed, i.e., “to lie in wait for the righteous”; HALOT 1044 s.v. צפה 4). Fourth, one could emend אֱלֹהָי (“my God”) to אֹהֶל (ʾohel, “tent”), as suggested in the BHS textual apparatus: אֶפְרַיִם עִם־אֹהֶל נָבִיא צֹפֶה (“Ephraim spies on the prophet’s tent”). The verb צָפָה may mean “to spy” (BDB 859 s.v. צָפָה; HALOT 1044 s.v. צפה 3). However, the preposition עִם (ʿim) does not normally mean “upon,” and צָפָה is not used with עִם elsewhere.
  22. Hosea 9:8 tn Or “Ephraim is a watchman with my God”; cf. ASV and NASB.
  23. Hosea 9:8 tn Heb “with my God” (so ASV, NASB).
  24. Hosea 9:8 tn Heb “bird trap of a bird catcher,” or “snare of a fowler” (so KJV).
  25. Hosea 9:8 tc Or “The prophet is like a trap along all his paths.” The Aleppo Codex and Leningrad Codex (ms used in BHS) both connect נָבִיא (naviʾ, “prophet”) with this colon. On the other hand, BHS places נָבִיא at the end of the preceding colon.
  26. Hosea 9:8 tn Heb “house.” The term בַּיִת (bayit, “house”) is used as a figure of speech, referring to either (1) the temple or official sanctuaries (so TEV, CEV) or (2) the land of Israel (e.g., Hos 9:15).
  27. Hosea 9:9 tn Or more literally, “they are deeply corrupted.” The two verbs הֶעְמִיקוּ־שִׁחֵתוּ (heʿmiqu shikhetu; literally, “they have made deep, they act corruptly”) are coordinated without a conjunction vav to form a verbal hendiadys: the second verb represents the main idea, while the first functions adverbially (GKC 386-87 §120.g). Here Gesenius suggests: “they are deeply/radically corrupted.” Several translations mirror the syntax of this hendiadys: “They have deeply corrupted themselves” (KJV, ASV, NRSV), “They have been grievously corrupt” (NJPS), and “They are hopelessly evil” (TEV). Others reverse the syntax for the sake of a more graphic English idiom: “They have gone deep in depravity” (NASB) and “They have sunk deep into corruption” (NIV). Some translations fail to represent the hendiadys at all: “You are brutal and corrupt” (CEV). The translation “They are deeply corrupted” mirrors the Hebrew syntax, but “They have sunk deep into corruption” seems preferable as a more graphic English idiom (cf. NAB “They have sunk to the depths of corruption”).
  28. Hosea 9:10 tn Heb “fathers”; a number of more recent English versions use the more general “ancestors” here.
  29. Hosea 9:11 tn Heb “their glory” (so NASB); cf. TEV “Israel’s greatness.”
  30. Hosea 9:11 tn Heb “no childbearing, no pregnancy, no conception.” The preposition מִן (min) prefixed to the three parallel nouns functions in a privative sense, indicating deprivation (BDB 583 s.v. מִן 7).
  31. Hosea 9:12 tn Heb “I will bereave them from a man”; cf. NRSV “I will bereave them until no one is left.”
  32. Hosea 9:13 tc The MT is difficult here. The first line of the MT reads, “Ephraim as I have seen like Tyre is planted in a meadow.” The verse may suggest that as Tyre had a pleasant location but will be judged (cf. Isa 23:1-18; Amos 1:9-10), so now also Ephraim will be. The BHS editors suggest emending the text of 13a to follow the LXX reading, which substantially follows the MT consonantal text and is given above. See D. Barthélemy, ed., Preliminary and Interim Report on the Hebrew Old Testament Text Project, 5:250-51.
  33. Hosea 9:14 tn Heb “breasts that shrivel up dry”; cf. KJV, NAB, NASB, NRSV “dry breasts.”
  34. Hosea 9:15 tn Heb “out of my house” (so NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV); TEV, NCV, and NLT have “my land.”
  35. Hosea 9:16 tn Or perhaps, following the plant metaphor: “will be blighted” (the NIV is similar).

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