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Asshur in Hosea 13:7-8

By Peter Goodgame

 


The reading of this text as found in the Greek Septuagint (LXX) version of the Old Testament suggests that the Masoretic Text (MT) has removed what was once a clear reference to "Asshur" in the original Vorlage Hebrew manuscripts.
 

List of translations

KJV:
"Therefore I will be unto them as a lion: as a leopard by the way will I observe them: I will meet them as a bear that is bereaved of her whelps, and will rend the caul of their heart, and there will I devour them like a lion: the wild beast shall tear them."

NIV:
"So I will come upon them like a lion, like a leopard I will lurk by the path. Like a bear robbed of her cubs, I will attack them and rip them open. Like a lion I will devour them; a wild animal will tear them apart."

NASB:
"So I will be like a lion to them; Like a leopard I will lie in wait by the wayside. I will encounter them like a bear robbed of her cubs, And I will tear open their chests; There I will also devour them like a lioness, As a wild beast would tear them."

ESV:
"So I am to them like a lion; like a leopard I will lurk beside the way. I will fall upon them like a bear robbed of her cubs; I will tear open their breast, and there I will devour them like a lion,
as a wild beast would rip them open."

Septuagint (LXX):
"And I will be to them as a panther, and as a leopard. I will meet them by the way of the Assyrians, as a she-bear excited, and I will rend the caul of their hearts, and the lions' whelps of the thicket shall devour them there; the wild beasts of the field shall rend them in pieces."
 

The Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia gives the passage in modern Hebrew according to the vowel-pointed Masoretic Text (MT):

וָאֱהִ֥י לָהֶ֖ם כְּמֹו־שָׁ֑חַל כְּנָמֵ֖ר עַל־דֶּ֥רֶךְ אָשֽׁוּר׃ אֶפְגְּשֵׁם֙ כְּדֹ֣ב שַׁכּ֔וּל וְאֶקְרַ֖ע סְג֣וֹר לִבָּ֑ם וְאֹכְלֵ֥ם שָׁם֙ כְּלָבִ֔יא חַיַּ֥ת הַשָּׂדֶ֖ה תְּבַקְּעֵֽם׃

 

Important Differences

1. The MT portrays אָשֽׁוּר as a form of the verb shur (שֽׁוּר-"to observe"), whereas the LXX translates the word into a plural form of "Asshur" ("Assyrians"). If the word אָשֽׁוּר is understood to be "Asshur" then there is nothing in the Hebrew text that requires "Asshur" to be translated as plural. In other words, the singular "Asshur" is probably a better translation than the plural "Assyrians" as found in the LXX.

2. The MT places an "end of sentence" mark after the word אָשֽׁוּר and before the verb "to encounter" so that the bear "encounters" Israel; The LXX places the break after this verb so that it is "by way of Asshur" that Israel is encountered.

3. The MT portrays אָשֽׁוּר as a form of the verb shur ("to observe") which is applied to the "leopard," thereby giving "as a leopard by the road I will observe..." On the other hand the LXX links the leopard with the lion and gives the first phrase as, "I will be to them as a panther, and as a leopard..."

4. The LXX translates the word hayyah as plural ("wild beasts"), while the MT gives it as singular ("wild beast"). Because of the singular verb "to tear" it would seem that hayyah should be singular. There is only one wild beast, which is linked with the lion, leopard, and bear, by which Israel will be encountered because of their rejection of the Lord.

 

Textual Analysis
 

וָאֱהִ֥י לָהֶ֖ם כְּמֹו־שָׁ֑חַל כְּנָמֵ֖ר
v'hey - so I will be l'hem - to them kimo-shachal - when as a lion k'namer - as a leopard

So I will be to them as a lion and as a leopard...

 

עַל־דֶּ֥רֶךְ אָשֽׁוּר אֶפְגְּשֵׁם֙
al-derek - by (al) the road or way (derek)

Asshur

form of pagas - to encounter (singular verb)

I will encounter them by way of Asshur...

 

כְּדֹ֣ב שַׁכּ֔וּל וְאֶקְרַ֖ע סְג֣וֹר לִבָּ֑ם
k'dob - like a bear sakkul - bereaved/enraged form of qara - to tear or rip (singular verb) segor - enclosure leb - heart, chest

Like a bear enraged I will tear open their heart...

 

וְאֹכְלֵ֥ם שָׁם֙ כְּלָבִ֔יא
form of akal - shall eat (singular verb) sham - there k'labi' - as a lion

And devour them there as a lion...

 

חַיַּ֥ת הַשָּׂדֶ֖ה תְּבַקְּעֵֽם
hayyah - wild beast (singular) hasadeh - of the field form of baqa' - to divide, tear, or split (singular verb)

The wild beast of the field tears them.

 

Proposed interpretation:

"Therefore I will be unto them as a lion and as a leopard. I will meet them by way of Asshur. As an enraged bear that tears the caul of their heart, there will I devour them like a lion. The wild beast of the field shall tear them."

 


Suggested Reading:

For a good examination of the LXX versus MT debate see Barry Setterfield's article, "CREATION AND CATASTROPHE CHRONOLOGY," Section B - "CHRONOLOGY FROM ABRAHAM BACK TO ADAM."


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