[b-hebrew] Hosea 5:2

pporta at oham.net pporta at oham.net
Tue Aug 26 07:44:31 EDT 2008

>I have several problems with Hosea 5:2.
> 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?


He'emiqu is a 3rd person plural Hiph'il past: they made deep. So it is quite 
hard to understand how this verb could have been translated as "I have made 
deep..." (Oxford translation, so you say)

> I am also confused about the grammar involving shachatah and he'miqu,
> the two verbs in the first clause, which is verb-noun-verb.


The first clause is not "verb-noun-verb". It is "noun-noun-verb", the first 
noun being the direct object of the sentence and the second one being its 

> 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?

We know which is the subject and which is the object by using reasoning. As 
the verb he'emiqu is third person plural, the normal issue is its subject to 
be a plural too. So, the only plural in the clause, &+YM, must be the 
subject. And the word $X+H  --a noun, not a gerund-  is the object.
So "and the revolters deepened the slaughter". The revolters are the 

> Are the satim/shitim
> killers or killed?


Look at the end of the preceding text piece.

> 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."


By no means MWSR comes from the verb MSR, to deliver or hand over.
As regards verb MSR only TWO items or forms of it appear in the Bible: Nm 
31:5 and 31:16.
The sense of the clause is clear (to my sense): I will 
correct/chastise/punish 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.


Here I cannot help you because I'm unable to give an answer.

Pere Porta
Barcelona (Catalonia, Spain)
> Gabe Eisenstein
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