God Didn't Say That

Bible Translations and Mistranslations

The Hidden Message of Redemption in Hosea

In English, Hosea 2:23 (also numbered 2:25) seems bland: “And I will have pity on Lo-ruhamah, and I will say to Lo-ammi, ‘You are my people’; and he shall say, ‘You are my God'” (NRSV).

But as I just pointed out, the names “Lo-ruhamah” and “Lo-ammi,” Hosea’s children, mean “unloved” and “not my people,” respectively. So what we really have here is this: “I will love [RiCHaM] Unloved [lo-RuCHaMa] and I will say to Not-My-People [lo-ammi], “You are My people” [ammi-atah], and he will say, “My God.” (I’ve put the consonants of the root R.Ch.M in upper case to highlight the close connection between the verb “loved” [RiCHaM] and the name “Unloved” [lo-RuCHaMa] in Hebrew, in which consonants are more important than vowels.)

In other words, Hosea 2:23 is a complete reversal. Whereas before we had “Unloved,” now we have “love.” Instead of “Not My People” we have “my people.” God has forgiven both of Hosea’s children (who represent all of God’s children — more on this soon, I hope), and it is then that God is called “my God.”

It’s an uplifting hope for redemption, an interesting theological position, and beautiful poetry. Unfortunately, it seems to me that in not translating the names, most translations hide the biblical message.

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May 17, 2012 Posted by | translation practice | , , , , , | 5 Comments