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ESV, NIV and NLT each have a rather distinctive translation of the last phrase of Hosea 6:5:

Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of my mouth, and my judgment goes forth as the light. (ESV)

Therefore I cut you in pieces with my prophets, I killed you with the words of my mouth; my judgments flashed like lightning upon you. (NIV)

I sent my prophets to cut you to pieces—to slaughter you with my words, with judgments as inescapable as light. (NLT)

How ought the "judgment/light(ning)" phrase be translated? What does it mean? Is the metaphor swiftness, power, inescapability...?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

The intent is simply "and your verdict will be clear for all to see".

The idiom is "hotsi l'or" - literally to bring to light. In this verse the word order is reversed for poetic effect, "u'mishpatecha or yetse" (that's a lot of meaning packet into only three words and a conjunctive!). In modern Hebrew "l'hotsi l'or" means to publish, as in to publish an article or book.

Parallel Hebrew in:

  1. Psalm 37:6 "your righteousness shine clear as day"
  2. Micah 7:9 "brings me into the light and I see the correctness of his justice"
  3. Isaiah 59:9 "justice is far from us...we look for light

and many other examples in the OT.

There is an underlying concept in the OT that justice is only fulfilled when it is made visible to all, that is comes to light, and that justice itself is like a shining light.

This verse is the culmination of a covenant claim trial prophecy format that starts in 4:1 ...the LORD has a charge to bring against the people... continues in 5:1 ...sentence is passed upon you...

[Some of the above is from Yehudah Keil's in-line commentary on Hosea in the Book of the Twelve published by Mossad Harav Kook, Jerusalem 1990 (Heb.)]

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+1 and accept. I appreciate your OT answers. –  Kazark May 29 '12 at 17:12
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