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Hosea 12:2-4 New English Translation (NET Bible)

The Lord also has a covenant lawsuit[a] against Judah;
he will punish Jacob according to his ways
and repay him according to his deeds.

Israel Must Return to the God of Jacob

In the womb he attacked his brother;
in his manly vigor he struggled[b] with God.
He struggled[c] with an angel and prevailed;
he wept and begged for his favor.
He found God[d] at Bethel,
and there he spoke with him![e]


  1. Hosea 12:2 tn The noun רִיב (riv, “dispute”) 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 that Yahweh, the suzerain, lodges against his disobedient vassal, accusing Israel and Judah of breach of covenant that will elicit the covenant curses (cf. NLT “is bringing a lawsuit”).
  2. Hosea 12:3 tn The verb שָׂרָה (sarah) means “to strive, contend” (HALOT 1354 s.v. שׂרה) or “persevere, persist” (BDB 975 s.v. שָׂרָה; see Gen 32:29). Almost all English versions render the verb here in terms of the former: NAB, NASB “contended”; NRSV “strove”; TEV, CEV “fought against.”
  3. Hosea 12:4 tc The MT vocalizes the consonantal text וָיָּשַׂר (vayyasar, vav consecutive + Qal preterite third person masculine singular from שׂוּר, sur, possibly a byform of one or more other roots. Parallelism with שָׂרַה (sarah, “he contended”) in 12:3 suggested that it be vocalized as ויִּשַׂר (vav consecutive + Qal preterite third person masculine singular from שׂרה [“to strive, contend”]). The latter is followed by almost all English versions here.
  4. Hosea 12:4 tn Heb “him”; the referent (God) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  5. Hosea 12:4 tc The Leningrad Codex and the Allepo Codex both read first person common plural עִמָּנוּ (ʿimmanu, “with us”). The LXX and Peshitta both reflect an alternate Hebrew Vorlage of third person masculine singular עִמּוֹ (ʿimmo, “with him”). The BHS editors suggest emending the MT in favor of the Greek and Syriac. The internal evidence of 12:4-5 favors the third person masculine singular reading. It is likely that the first person common plural reading, נוּ-, on עִמָּנוּ arose due to a misunderstanding of the third person masculine singular נוּ- suffix on יִמְצָאֶנּוּ (yimtsaʾennu, “he found him”; Qal imperfect third person masculine singular + third person masculine singular suffix), which was probably misunderstood as the first person common plural suffix: “he found us.” Several English versions follow the LXX and Syriac: “there he spoke with him” (RSV, NAB, NEB, NIV, NJPS, TEV). Others follow the MT: “there he spoke with us” (KJV, NASB, CEV). The Hebrew University Old Testament Project, which tends to preserve the MT whenever possible, adopts the MT reading but gives it only a “C” rating. See D. Barthélemy, ed., Preliminary and Interim Report on the Hebrew Old Testament Text Project, 5:262-63.
New English Translation (NET)

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