Hosea 14

Prophetic Call to Genuine Repentance

Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God,
for your sin has been your downfall!
Heb “For you have stumbled in your iniquity”; NASB, NRSV “because of your iniquity.”

Return to the Lord and repent!
Heb “Take words with you and return to the Lord” (so NASB, NIV, NRSV).

Say to him: “Completely
The word order כָּל־תִּשָּׂא עָוֹן (kol-tisa avon) is syntactically awkward. The BHS editors suggest rearranging the word order: תִּשָּׂא כָּל־עוֹן (“Forgive all [our] iniquity!”). However, Gesenius suggests that כָּל (“all”) does not function as the construct in the genitive phrase כָּל־עוֹן (“all [our] iniquity”); it functions adverbially modifying the verb תִּשָּׂא (“Completely forgive!”; see GKC 415 #128.e).
forgive our iniquity;
The repetition of the root לָקַח (laqakh) creates a striking wordplay in 14:2. If Israel will bring (לָקַח) its confession to God, he will accept (לָקַח) repentant Israel and completely forgive its sin.
our penitential prayer,
Heb “and accept [our] speech.” The word טוֹב (tov) is often confused with the common homonymic root I טוֹב (tov, “good”; BDB 373 s.v. I טוֹב). However, this is probably IV טוֹב (tov, “word, speech”; HALOT 372 s.v. IV טוֹב), a hapax legomenon that is related to the verb טבב (“to speak”; HALOT 367 s.v. טבב) and the noun טִבָּה (tibbah, “rumor”; HALOT 367 s.v. טִבָּה). The term טוֹב (“word; speech”) refers to the repentant prayer mentioned in 14:1–3. Most translations relate it to I טוֹב and treat it as (1) accusative direct object: “accept that which is good” (RSV, NJPS), “Accept our good sacrifices” (CEV), or (2) adverbial accusative of manner: “receive [us] graciously” (KJV, NASB, NIV). Note TEV, however, which follows the suggestion made here: “accept our prayer.”

that we may offer the praise of our lips as sacrificial bulls.
The MT reads פָרִים (farim, “bulls”), but the LXX reflects פְּרִי (peri, “fruit”), a reading followed by NASB, NIV, NRSV: “that we may offer the fruit of [our] lips [as sacrifices to you].” Although the Greek expression in Heb 13:15 (καρπὸν χειλέων, karpon xeileōn, “the fruit of lips”) reflects this LXX phrase, the MT makes good sense as it stands; NT usage of the LXX should not be considered decisive in resolving OT textual problems. The noun פָרִים (parim, “bulls”) functions as an adverbial accusative of state.

Assyria cannot save us;
we will not ride warhorses.
We will never again say, ‘Our gods’
to what our own hands have made.
For only you will show compassion to Orphan Israel!”
Heb “For the orphan is shown compassion by you.” The present translation takes “orphan” as a figurative reference to Israel, which is specified in the translation for clarity.

Divine Promise to Relent from Judgment and to Restore Blessings

“I will heal their waywardness
The noun מְשׁוּבָתָה (meshuvatah, “waywardness”; cf. KJV “backsliding”) is from the same root as שׁוּבָה (shuvah, “return!”) in 14:1[2]. This repetition of שׁוּב (shuv) creates a wordplay which emphasizes reciprocity: if Israel will return (שׁוּבָה, shuvah) to the Lord, he will cure her of the tendency to turn away (מְשׁוּבָתָה) from him.

and love them freely,
The noun נְדָבָה (nedavah, “voluntariness; free-will offering”) is an adverbial accusative of manner: “freely, voluntarily” (BDB 621 s.v. נְדָבָה 1). Cf. CEV “without limit”; TEV “with all my heart”; NLT “my love will know no bounds.”

for my anger will turn
The verb שָׁב, shav, “will turn” (Qal perfect 3rd person masculine singular from שׁוּב, shuv, “to turn”) continues the wordplay on שׁוּב in 14:1–4[2-5]. If Israel will “return” (שׁוּב) to the Lord, he will heal Israel’s tendency to “turn away” (מְשׁוּבָתָה, meshuvatah) and “turn” (שָׁב) from his anger.
away from them.
I will be like the dew to Israel;
he will blossom like a lily,
he will send down his roots like a cedar of
Heb “like Lebanon” (so KJV; also in the following verse). The phrase “a cedar of” does not appear in the Hebrew text; it is supplied in translation for clarity. Cf. TEV “the trees of Lebanon”; NRSV “the forests of Lebanon.”
His young shoots will grow;
his splendor will be like an olive tree,
his fragrance like a cedar of Lebanon.
People will reside again
Hosea uses the similar-sounding terms יָשֻׁבוּ יֹשְׁבֵי (yashuvu yoshve, “the dwellers will return”) to create a wordplay between the roots שׁוּב (shuv, “to return”) and יָשַׁב (yashav, “to dwell; to reside”).
in his shade;
they will plant and harvest grain in abundance.
Heb “they will cause the grain to live” or “they will revive the grain.” Some English versions treat this as a comparison: “they shall revive as the corn” (KJV); “will flourish like the grain” (NIV).

They will blossom like a vine,
and his fame will be like the wine from Lebanon.
O Ephraim, I do not want to have anything to do
The Hebrew expression מַה־לִּי עוֹד (mah-li od) is a formula of repudiation/emphatic denial that God has anything in common with idols: “I want to have nothing to do with […] any more!” Cf., e.g., Judg 11:12; 2 Sam 16:10; 19:23; 1 Kgs 17:18; 2 Kgs 3:13; 2 Chr 35:21; Jer 2:18; Ps 50:16; BDB 553 s.v. מָה 1.d.(c).
with idols anymore!
I will answer him and care for him.
I am like
The term “like” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity, as in the majority of English versions (including KJV).
a luxuriant cypress tree;
Cf. KJV “a green fir tree”; NIV, NCV “a green pine tree”; NRSV “an evergreen cypress.”

your fruitfulness comes from me!
Heb “your fruit is found in me”; NRSV “your faithfulness comes from me.”

Concluding Exhortation

Who is wise?
Let him discern
The shortened form of the prefix-conjugation verb וְיָבֵן (veyaven) indicates that it is a jussive rather than an imperfect. When a jussive comes from a superior to an inferior, it may connote exhortation and instruction or advice and counsel. For the functions of the jussive, see IBHS 568–70 #34.3.
these things!
Who is discerning?
Let him understand them!
For the ways of the Lord are right;
the godly walk in them,
but in them the rebellious stumble.

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