Hosea 6

Submitted by admin on Mon, 2006-04-17 12:09.

Posted in | printer-friendly version »

Hosea 6:1.

Masoretic Text: Come and let us return to YHWH, for he has torn and he will heal us. He has stricken [us] and he will bind us up.

Septuagint: Let us go and return to the Lord our God, for he has torn and he will heal us. He will strike [us] and he will bind us up.


Hosea represents the repentant people as resolving to return to YHWH, confident that the punitive discipline would end and the time of healing and recovery would begin. The tearing, ripping, or snatching away may allude to the act of a predator that tears its prey. At the hands of ruthless invading forces, the Israelites, by divine permission, experienced treatment comparable to being torn by a beast. This, however, would be followed by YHWH’s turning his favorable attention to his people, leading to their healing. The Israelites had been stricken or severely wounded by foreign aggressors. While this had occurred by his permission on account of the people’s unfaithfulness, YHWH would bind up their wounds, promoting healing and recovery.

  • Hosea 6:2.
  • Masoretic Text: He will enliven us after two days. On the third day, he will raise us, and we will live before his face.

    Septuagint: He will heal us after two days. On the third day, we will rise and live before him.


    In the Septuagint, the restoring to life is referred to as healing. The Masoretic Text indicates that YHWH would raise them up, but the Septuagint rendering represents the healed people as being able to rise up. Since the healing is attributed to YHWH, the basic sense of the Septuagint does not really differ significantly from the Masoretic Text.


    Hosea continues with the confident expression of the repentant Israelites. Although they had suffered “mortal wounding,” YHWH would restore them to life or, according to the reading of the Septuagint, heal them. After their returning to him as a repentant people, he would bring them to life in a relatively short time, comparable to a mere “two days.” On the third day, again representative of a brief period, YHWH would make it possible for the people to rise up, living before “his face,” “before him,” or in his presence as his acceptable, restored people. Their restoration would be comparable to a resurrection. (Compare Ezekiel 37:1-14.)

  • Hosea 6:3.
  • Masoretic Text: And let us know, let us pursue to know, YHWH. As dawn is established, [so sure is] his coming forth. And he will come like rain to us, like spring rain [that] waters the land.

    Septuagint: And we will know, we will pursue to know, the Lord. As dawn [is] prepared, we will find him, and he will come to us like early and late rain to the land.

    Note: While there are differences in the reading of the Masoretic Text and the rendering of the Septuagint, the basic message is the same. A major difference is that the Septuagint reading points to the people’s assurance of finding YHWH, whereas the Masoretic Text focuses on the certainty of YHWH’s response—his coming forth or revealing himself.


    Hosea continues to represent the commendable determination of the repentant people. Unlike the past, when the Israelites chose to ignore YHWH and his righteous ways to pursue the veneration of other deities, the people will want to know YHWH, striving to conform their conduct to his commands. Theirs would be an eager pursuit to know YHWH as persons whom he approves and blesses. Just as surely as the dawn came each day (as if firmly fixed or established), so YHWH would come, responding to them favorably. His favorable attention would be like the needed and refreshing rain that waters the land. While the Septuagint rendering mentions both the early (in the autumn) and the late rain (in the spring), the Masoretic Text focuses on the late or spring rain. The softening of the ground by the early rain following the dry summer was essential for creating the right condition for planting, and the late or spring rain promoted the growth of the crops.

  • Hosea 6:4.
  • Masoretic Text: What can I do to you, Ephraim? What can I do to you, Judah? For your loyalty [is] like a morning cloud and like dew [that] disappears early.

    Septuagint: What should I do to you, Ephraim? What should I do to you, Judah? For your mercy [is] like a morning cloud and like early dew that disappears.

    Note: Lexicographers have defined the Hebrew term chésed as meaning “loyalty,” “kindness,” “faithfulness,” “goodness,” “graciousness,” and “unfailing love.” It is descriptive of a compassionate concern or abiding loyalty that expresses itself in positive action. In the Septuagint, the corresponding word (éleos) means “mercy” or “pity.”


    Hosea is portraying YHWH as the speaker. Repeatedly, YHWH had disciplined both Ephraim and Judah (the people of the northern and southern kingdoms), allowing them to experience ruthless treatment from invading armies and the bitter consequences of being deprived of YHWH’s aid, protection, and blessing. The question basically was, What could yet be done to motivate the Israelites to repent and change their conduct?

    Their loyalty, goodness, kindness, or compassion did not prove to be abiding. The display of noble qualities was comparable to a cloud or mist in the early morning that quickly disappears and provides no refreshing precipitation. The actions of the people did not reflect a dependable, refreshing compassionate response to the needs of others and an abiding faithfulness to YHWH. Any seeming return to their God typically proved to be short-lived. The people were like dew that quickly vanishes without providing the needed moisture for growing crops during the hot summer.

  • Hosea 6:5.
  • Masoretic Text: Therefore, I have hewn by the prophets. I have slain them with the words of my mouth. And your judgments [are like] light [that] goes forth.

    Septuagint: Therefore, I have cut off your prophets. I have slain them with the sayings of my mouth, and my judgment will go forth like light.


    Translations generally represent the Hebrew text in a way that indicates the prophets to have been the ones by whom the people were hewn. The Hebrew term for “hewn,” however, is not followed by a plural suffix that signifies “them,” but translators commonly have supplied the word “them.” Although the Hebrew preposition be often signifies “by,” it can also be used to indicate a hostile sense, “against.” Like the Septuagint, the Tanakh translates the Hebrew according to the hostile sense. “That is why I have hewn down the prophets, have slain them with the words of My mouth.”


    The expression rendered “therefore” points to the reason mentioned in the previous verse—the people’s failure to manifest compassion or abiding faithfulness. If the words that then follow are directed against the prophets, this would be on account of their failure to call the people to repentance and to admonish them to amend their ways. Whereas true prophets of YHWH were loyal to their calling, the false prophets contributed to the continuance of the moral breakdown among the people. (Compare Micah 3:5-7; Jeremiah 2:8, 26; 5:13, 31.) By means of his true prophets, YHWH did hew these false prophets, exposing them as frauds and pronouncing his judgment against them. The words of YHWH’s punitive judgment, expressed through his prophets, were certain of fulfillment and, therefore, are spoken of as the instruments of slaying or killing. (Compare Jeremiah 14:14-16; 28:15-17.)

    If the Masoretic Text is to be understood as referring to YHWH’s use of his prophets, then the “hewing” of the people would have been by means of the strong judgment messages directed against them on account of their serious failure to live up to their covenant obligations. YHWH’s words announcing the judgment were certain of fulfillment and, in this sense, proved to be the means by which the faithless people were slain. (Compare Jeremiah 5:14-17.)

    Because of having been announced beforehand through the prophets, the adverse judgment, upon being experienced by the people, would clearly be revealed as having had YHWH as its source. (Compare Isaiah 48:5.) His judgment would be as clearly manifest as when the light of the sun illuminates the sky.

  • Hosea 6:6.
  • Masoretic Text: For loyalty I delight in and not sacrifice, and knowledge of God rather than holocausts.

    Septuagint: For mercy I want and not sacrifice, and knowledge of God rather than holocausts.

    Note: Regarding “loyalty,” see the note on 6:4.


    Although the Mosaic law outlined an arrangement for sacrifices, the Israelites lost sight of their purpose and offered them in a ritualistic manner without the reverential spirit that should have been evident in abiding faithfulness to their God and love for fellow Israelites. YHWH had no need for sacrifices or whole burnt offerings. What he looked for was the manifestation of loyalty to him and genuine expressions of mercy or compassion. Knowledge of God should have been evident in attitudes, words, and actions that harmonized with his upright ways. It should have been the kind of recognition that was fully aware of being accountable to him and evident in praiseworthy conduct that brought honor to him.

  • Hosea 6:7.
  • Masoretic Text: And they [are] like a man [who] transgressed a covenant; there they dealt treacherously with me.

    Septuagint: But they are like a man transgressing a covenant. There he despised me.


    The Hebrew ’adhám can be both the proper name “Adam” (the man or the city by that name) or the word for “man.” In the Septuagint, the corresponding term ánthropos means “man.” According to the Vulgate reading, the reference is to the man Adam. Many modern translations use “Adam” as a place name.

    Neither the precise significance of the Masoretic Text nor that of the Septuagint is readily apparent. The result has been a variety of different renderings. “At a place named Adam, you betrayed me by breaking our agreement.” (CEV) “But at Adam they transgressed the covenant; there they dealt faithlessly with me.” (NRSV) “Like Adam, they have broken the covenant—they were unfaithful to me there.” (NIV) “But they, to a man, have transgressed the Covenant. This is where they have been false to me.” (Tanakh) “But they, in their land, violated the covenant; there they were untrue to me.” (NAB; note the rendering “land” for ’adám, a meaning suggested in the 2001 revision of Koehler’s work for Job 36:28 and a few other passages)

    While the Masoretic Text can be rendered “and they, at Adam, transgressed a covenant,” this definitely is not the meaning of the Septuagint. It also seems unusual that a particular city would be singled out as the place where the covenant was transgressed, especially since the Israelites of the ten-tribe kingdom, with few exceptions, were guilty of violating the covenant concluded at Mount Sinai. Aside from being mentioned in connection with the miraculous damming up of the Jordan in the time of Joshua, Adam is not mentioned elsewhere. (Joshua 3:16) This, too, would seem to weigh against linking the city to the breaking of the covenant. The use of the generic “man” does convey a reasonable meaning and would seem to be the preferable choice in view of its having the support of the Septuagint.


    The Israelites of the ten-tribe kingdom proved to be like a man who failed to live up to the terms of a covenant. Although they were bound by the covenant YHWH concluded with the people at Mount Sinai, they disregarded its terms. The people chose to adopt idolatrous practices and in other ways acted contrary to the laws included in this covenant. Especially serious was their mistreatment of the poor and other disadvantaged Israelites. (Compare Isaiah 58:6, 7; Amos 2:6-8; 8:4-6; Micah 2:1, 2, 8, 9; 3:1-3.) The people’s disloyalty in adhering to their covenant obligations was an act of treachery toward YHWH. The reference to “there” could mean in the land or the territory of the ten-tribe kingdom. According to the Septuagint, “there” could apply to “Gilead” or “Galaad” in the next verse. This is the meaning conveyed in Brenton’s translation of the Septuagint. “There the city Galaad despised me.” (Note: The Greek verb is third person singular and so could have Galaad as the subject. If Galaad is not the subject, the verb would need to be rendered “it” or “he despised” [with the subject “he” being understood to refer to Ephraim as representative of the entire ten-tribe kingdom].)

  • Hosea 6:8.
  • Masoretic Text: Gilead, a city of those practicing wickedness, [is] tracked with blood.

    Septuagint: Galaad, a city working vanities, [is] disturbing water.

    Note: The Greek expression for “vanities” describes what is empty or worthless and so would include wickedness, but the words “disturbing waters” do not convey something meaningful. Perhaps the idea is that the city is like a place that disturbs or muddies water, making it unfit for drinking.


    Gilead is apparently represented as a notoriously wicked city, one where innocent blood is shed. The footprints did bear the marks of blood. Possibly the blood was that of children offered up as sacrifices. (Compare Ezekiel 23:36-39.) Other murderous acts may have included violent acts of robbery and judicial corruption that led to the death of innocent persons.

    Usually, Gilead designates a region east of the Jordan River. For a city named Gilead, the context provides no link to a specific location. Perhaps the reference is to Jabesh-gilead or Ramoth-gilead, cities situated east of the Jordan.

  • Hosea 6:9.
  • Masoretic Text: As a lurking man [who is a part] of bands, a company of priests, [on the] way they murder, [on the way] to Shechem. Indeed, wickedness they have practiced.

    Septuagint: And your strength [is like that of] a man of raiding. The priests have hidden the way. They have murdered Shechem, for lawlessness they have practiced.


    Both the Hebrew and Greek are obscure, and this has resulted in two distinctly different renderings. One represents the priests as being like a murderous band, whereas the other rendering identifies the priests as being a murderous gang. “The gang of priests is like the ambuscade of bandits who murder on the road to Shechem, for they have encouraged depravity.” (Tanakh) “As brigands ambush a man, a band of priests slay on the way to Shechem, committing monstrous crime.” (NAB)

    The reading of the Septuagint could be understood to mean that the people of Shechem were murdered.


    Both the Masoretic Text and the Septuagint readings agree that the priests were practicers of wickedness or lawlessness. These were not priests of the family of Aaron, but priests officiating at sites where divinely disapproved forms of worship were practiced. For a time, the first monarch of the ten-tribe kingdom, Jeroboam, ruled from Shechem. (1 Kings 12:25) Since he introduced calf worship, Shechem also may have become a center for divinely disapproved worship.

    In Hosea’s time, the priests either acted like a company of bandits on the road leading to Shechem or themselves were guilty of such murderous action. It would seem more likely that, because of the depravity associated with idolatrous practices, the priests were like a gang of robbers rather than themselves attacking individuals on the road to Shechem. If the priests were indeed the vicious attackers, one would expect to find a reason being given for their criminal activity, but this is not provided.

  • Hosea 6:10.
  • Masoretic Text: In the house of Israel I have seen a horrible thing. There [is] whoredom in Ephraim. Israel is polluted.

    Septuagint: In the house of Israel, I have seen a horrible thing. There [is the] whoredom of Ephraim. Israel was polluted.

    Note: Printed texts of the Septuagint include the words “and Judah” as part of this verse, but the term for “was defiled” (emiánthe) is third person singular and a passive verb in the aorist tense, which is commonly rendered as a past tense. From a strict grammatical standpoint, therefore, “and Judah” should not be included.


    The horrifying or disgusting thing doubtless involved idolatry, including ceremonial prostitution and the abominable practice of child sacrifice. (Ezekiel 23:36-39) In this case, the whoredom of Ephraim (the dominant tribe of the ten-tribe kingdom or, collectively, the people of the realm) refers to idolatry, the deliberate departure from YHWH and a breach of the covenant relationship that bound the Israelites as a wife to her husband. On account of unfaithfulness to YHWH, Israel or the ten-tribe kingdom had become unclean or polluted like an adulteress.

  • Hosea 6:11.
  • Masoretic Text: Also for you, Judah, a harvest is prepared in my turning the captivity of my people.

    Septuagint: And Judah, start reaping for yourself in my turning the captivity of my people.

    Note: Translations are not in agreement in efforts to convey the meaning of this passage, with many splitting this verse and only retaining the first half. “For you also, O Judah, a harvest has been appointed.” (NAB) “People of Judah, your time is coming too.” (CEV) Other translation retain the second half as being linked to the meaning of the first half. “Also, O Judah, there is a harvest appointed for you, when I restore the fortunes of My people.” (NASB) “O Judah, a harvest of punishment is also waiting for you, though I wanted so much to restore the fortunes of my people!” (NLT; an interpretive paraphrase)


    The turning of the captivity could refer to the return from exile of the repentant remnant of Judah. This would suggest that the harvest could be of a favorable kind. This might mean the harvesting or gathering of the repentant people in the territory of their exile and restoring them to their land.

    The context, however, does not specifically identify the captivity. There is a historical event in Hosea’s time that could fit what is set forth in this verse. At the hands of King Pekah of Israel, faithless Judean King Ahaz suffered a humiliating defeat. Thousands of Judean warriors fell in battle, and thousands from the realm of Judah were taken captive. The prophet Oded appealed to the army of Israel to return the captives to their land, and his words were heeded. (2 Chronicles 28:6-15) If the reference in Hosea is to this event, then the meaning could be that, although there was a returning of the captivity, a day of reckoning was still ahead for Judah on account of a serious failure to live up to the covenant obligations.

    If the words of this verse are limited to the harvest involving Judah, this would point to the certainty of a coming adverse judgment. Judah or the southern two-tribe kingdom, like the northern ten-tribe kingdom, would face a time for reaping the ultimate consequences for failing to remain loyal to YHWH.