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Many translations wrap Hosea 6:1-3 in quotation marks. For instance, in the NJPS:

“Come, let us turn back to the Lord:
He attacked, and He can heal us;
He wounded, and He can bind us up.
In two days He will make us whole again;
On the third day He will raise us up,
And we shall be whole by His favor.
Let us pursue obedience to the Lord,
And we shall become obedient.
His appearance is as sure as daybreak,
And He will come to us like rain,
Like latter rain that refreshes the earth.”

But it isn't immediately clear who is doing the talking. Why is this portion rendered a quotation in many English translations?


It's not possible as a Christian to read this passage without seeing in it a prophesy about Jesus. For the purposes of this question, let's pretend that we are part of the original audience of the prophet and only look at what he understood himself to be saying. I've asked a separate question to cover the topic of prophesy.

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While other people have suggested that it is the prophet himself speaking - in which case the passage shouldn't be in quotes - it seems best to me to understand the speaker to be God quoting Ephraim and Judah after he has carried through with the things prophesied at the end of chapter 5. God speaking in verse 5:14 says:

For I will be like a lion to Ephraim,
like a great lion to Judah.
I will tear them to pieces and go away;

After that, he says, "in their misery they will earnestly seek me."

Then compare how verse 6:1 starts:

Come, let us return to the LORD.
He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us;

I understand, then, this section to be God explaining the words of contrition of Judah and Ephraim in that day of their misery in 5:15 when they again earnestly seek him. God then picks up again in verse 6:4 his ruminations over his dealings with the two nations in their current and corrupt state.


Note: I used the 2011 NIV because I think it shows better the link between 5:14 and 6:1. The NJPS uses the word "attacked" in the English for both verses which is less memorable.

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