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Hosea 9:8-10 New English Translation (NET Bible)

The prophet[a] is a watchman[b] over Ephraim[c] on behalf of God,[d]
yet traps[e] are laid for him along all his paths;[f]
animosity rages against him in the land[g] of his God.

The Best of Times, the Worst of Times

They have sunk deep into corruption[h]
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[i] 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.


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Hosea 9:8 tn Or “Ephraim is a watchman with my God”; cf. ASV and NASB.
  4. Hosea 9:8 tn Heb “with my God” (so ASV, NASB).
  5. Hosea 9:8 tn Heb “bird trap of a bird catcher,” or “snare of a fowler” (so KJV).
  6. 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.
  7. 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).
  8. 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”).
  9. Hosea 9:10 tn Heb “fathers”; a number of more recent English versions use the more general “ancestors” here.
New English Translation (NET)

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