J. Andrew Dearman on Hosea 6:7

   Posted by: CalvinandCalvinism   in Hosea 6:7


6:7 The prophet illustrates Israel’s ongoing faithlessness by reference to an incident at a place named Adam and wickedness in Gilead. Some interpret Adam as a personal name arid thus as a reference to Gen. 3 and the disobedience in the garden.49 According to this view, Israel was repeating the error of the first man’s disobedience to divine command. Another possibility is to take ādām as a collective reference to "people" acting disobediently.50 The Hebrew particle šām ("there") in the verse, however, marks a geographical reference, and Adam is the likely antecedent (see below). In Hos. 10:9 a similar syntactical expression occurs, with an initial reference to Gibeah followed by the particle "there" in the next clause. BHS, followed by a number of commentators, suggests that the ("like/as") prefixed to Adam be changed to a ("in/at"), so that the phrase would read "but they transgressed the covenant in Adam." Given Hosea’s propensity for similes and comparisons employing a , the use of the to compare an action at a place is not unexpected.

As noted, at Adam in v. 7 is the likely antecedent for the particle there, although the particle possibly anticipates the reference to Gilead in v. 8. According to Josh. 3: 16 a city on the east bank of the Jordan River is named Adam (modem Tell Damiyeh), not far from Zarethan and the joining of the Jabbok River with the Jordan. The settlement was located along a route between Ephraim and Gilead, which would makes geographical sense, given the reference to the city of Gilead in v. 8. There are, furthermore, indications elsewhere in the broader historical context for political intrigue in Gilead that this obscure reference may reflect, such as the murder in Samaria of Pekahiah, king of Israel, by Pekah, who was accompanied by fifty men from Gilead (2 Kgs. 15:25).51 This event took place ca. 738, during the public activity of Hosea.

The phrase transgress the covenant in v. 7 occurs elsewhere in Hosea (8: 1) and in the or (2 Kgs. 18: 12; Jer. 34: 18), but the nature of the covenant transgressed at Adam is unclear. Should we think of it as the Mosaic covenant, as seems likely in 2 Kgs. 18: 12 (and probably in Hos. 8: 1); as the violation of a self-commitment, such as that indicated in Josh. 24: 16ff.; as a reference to some solemn commitment, like that of Jer. 34:18 (a solemn agreement to free slaves); or even to some agreement made with another state that infringes on YHWH’s sovereignty? In context the critique of Hos. 6:7-11a is that of Israel’s rebelliousness against YHWH; so that whatever particularities are to be associated with place and precipitating event(s) there, it is YHWH’s covenant that has been transgressed.52 Perhaps a parallel might be that of the "covenant of brothers" (Amos 1 :9), where the city-state Tyre is judged for breaking a solemn relationship by engaging in the slave trade or some other form of violence against a group of people. J. Andrew Dearman, The Book of Hosea (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2010), 197-198. [Footnote values and content original.]


49A defense of this view can be found in McComiskey, "Hosea," p. 9S.

50So the JPS translation of 1917. The LXX reads the singular, "like a man."

51See the introduction, section III, "Historical Background to Hosea’s Prophecy," and appendix 8, "Transjordan in Hosea."

52See the careful weighing of options in Nicholson, God and His People, pp. 179-86, and his conclusion that běrît in 6:7 is genuine to Hosea and a reference to YHWH’s covenant.

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