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Prophetic Call to Genuine Repentance

14 Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God,
for your sin has been your downfall![a]
Return to the Lord and repent![b]
Say to him: “Completely[c] forgive our iniquity;
accept[d] our penitential prayer,[e]
that we may offer the praise of our lips as sacrificial bulls.[f]
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!”[g]

Divine Promise to Relent from Judgment and to Restore Blessings

“I will heal their waywardness[h]
and love them freely,[i]
for my anger will turn away[j] 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[k] 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[l] in his shade;
they will plant and harvest grain in abundance.[m]
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[n] with idols anymore!
I will answer him and care for him.
I am like[o] a luxuriant cypress tree;[p]
your fruitfulness comes from me!”[q]

Concluding Exhortation

Who is wise?
Let him discern[r] 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.


  1. Hosea 14:1 tn Heb “For you have stumbled in your iniquity”; cf. NASB, NRSV “because of your iniquity.”
  2. Hosea 14:2 tn Heb “Take words with you and return to the Lord” (so NASB, NIV, NRSV).
  3. Hosea 14:2 tn The word order כָּל־תִּשָּׂא עָוֹן (kol tisaʾ ʿavon) is syntactically awkward. The BHS editors suggest rearranging the word order: תִּשָּׂא כָּל־עָוֹן (“Forgive all [our] iniquity!”). However, Gesenius suggests that כָּל (“all”) does not function as the construct in the genitive phrase כָּל־עָוֹן (“all [our] iniquity”); it functions adverbially modifying the verb תִּשָּׂא (“Completely forgive!”; see GKC 415 §128.e).
  4. Hosea 14:2 sn 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.
  5. Hosea 14:2 tn 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) and “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.”
  6. Hosea 14:2 tc 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 cheileōn, “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 פָּרִים (parim, “bulls”) functions as an adverbial accusative of state.
  7. Hosea 14:3 tn 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.
  8. Hosea 14:4 sn The noun מְשׁוּבָתָה (meshuvatah, “waywardness”; cf. KJV “backsliding”) is from the same root as שׁוּבָה (shuvah, “return!”) in 14:1 [14:2 HT]. This repetition of שׁוּב (shuv) creates a wordplay that emphasizes reciprocity: if Israel will return (שׁוּבָה, shuvah) to the Lord, he will cure her of the tendency to turn away (מְשׁוּבָתָה) from him.
  9. Hosea 14:4 tn 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.”
  10. Hosea 14:4 sn The verb שָׁב, shav, “will turn” (Qal perfect third person masculine singular from שׁוּב, shuv, “to turn”), continues the wordplay on שׁוּב in 14:1-4 [14:2-5 HT]. 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.
  11. Hosea 14:5 tn 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”).
  12. Hosea 14:7 tn Hosea uses the similar-sounding terms יָשֻׁבוּ יֹשְׁבֵי (yashuvu yosheve, “the dwellers will return”) to create a wordplay between the roots שׁוּב (shuv, “to return”) and יָשַׁב (yashav, “to dwell; to reside”).
  13. Hosea 14:7 tn 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) and “will flourish like the grain” (NIV).
  14. Hosea 14:8 tn The Hebrew expression מַה־לִּי עוֹד (mah-lli ʿod) 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]).
  15. Hosea 14:8 tn 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).
  16. Hosea 14:8 tn Cf. KJV “a green fir tree,” NIV, NCV “a green pine tree,” NRSV “an evergreen cypress.”
  17. Hosea 14:8 tn Heb “your fruit is found in me”; cf. NRSV “your faithfulness comes from me.”
  18. Hosea 14:9 tn 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.