[b-hebrew] Hosea 5:2

Gabe Eisenstein gabe at cascadeaccess.com
Wed Aug 20 16:56:04 EDT 2008


I have several problems with Hosea 5:2.
W$X+H  &+YM  H(MYQW  W)NY MWSR LKLM

The first is the word &+YM, or perhaps $+YM, that is, 
shin/sin-teth-yod-mem.
With a shin, it would be identical to the shitim of the Torah which is: 
a) a kind of wood (acacia); b) a place in Moab where Israel sinned, and 
where they were still encamped as of Joshua 2-3.
English translations mostly favor the Masoretic rendering &A+|M, 
assuming a derivation from &W+, to turn away, thus getting "rebels"or 
"revolters". The Oxford translation sticks with the consonantal text and 
renders "Shitim" ("I have made deep the pit of Shitim.") (I guess "pit" 
is just thrown in to go with "made deep"; but I don't know what happened 
to shachatah in this translation. Maybe it is loosely translated as "pit"?)
What say you?

I am also confused about the grammar involving shachatah and he'miqu, 
the two verbs in the first clause, which is verb-noun-verb. Some 
translations seem to take shachatah as a gerund: "the revolters deepen 
the slaughter(ing)". JPS takes it as infinitive and has "they were 
profound to kill the revolters". My main question is: How can we decide 
what is the subject and what is the object here? Are the satim/shitim 
killers or killed?

Finally, I am puzzled by the word MWSR. It always seems to mean 
"correction, rebuke, instruction" in other contexts, where it is derived 
from YSR. But the Jewish Publication Society translations render 
"removed" and "rejected" ("I have been rejected by them all"), which 
must be derivations from MSR, to deliver or hand over. (Certainly it 
can't mean "rebuked" if God, the speaker, is the object rather than the 
subject of the sentence.) But in that case is it a participle or rather 
present-tense, as my verb-book has it? In the latter case it would be 
something more like "I give myself to them all."

If the second word is "revolters", who are they? All of Israel ever 
since Jeroboam? The rebels under Jehu? Or the Jehuid kings of Hosea's 
time who turned away from the righteous path of Jehu? (Of course this is 
related to the question about "Jezreel" and Hosea's attitude toward 
Jehu. I still assume Hosea condemns Jehu, as he condemns the Jehuids.)
If the second word is "Shitim" the place-name, then that which has been 
"deepened" must be the violence that occurred there. You could associate 
it with the sin of Peor, but the actual "slaughter" we find there was 
committed by Phinehas. In this case the "deepening" would just be a 
coninuation of Phinehas' ethnocentric zeal. Then the first clause might 
be praise rather than condemnation (although this wouldn't fit the 
context); or it might be condemnation for being too zealous, that is, 
Hosea might not take Phinehas as a moral exemplar (I know I don't!). The 
ambiguity of zealousness or stringency in this connection is brought out 
by R.Yochanan at Sanhedrin 102a, who connects he'miqu with the 
stringency of laws about attending or not attending festivals. (Jeroboam 
was "deeper", i.e. more stringent than the Torah.)

If any of these points could be pinned down, the others would get easier.


Gabe Eisenstein



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