This question arose along with another stemming from the other part of this verse:

In Hosea 1:9, the LORD instructs the prophet regarding his third child:

קְרָא שְׁמוֹ לֹא עַמִּ֑י
Call his name Not My People

I’m wondering if this is drawing on Deut 32:

אֲנִי אַקְנִיאֵם בְּלֹא־עָם
So I will make them jealous with those who are no people;
κἀγὼ παραζηλώσω αὐτοὺς ἐπ οὐκ ἔθνει

This question arose because the Greek of Deut 32 seems to me stilted (specifically, missing a relative pronoun) unless "οὐκ ἔθνει" is a name. The ESV of Deut 32, quoted above, adds the relative clause, which I think doesn’t need to be explicit in the Hebrew (and it doesn’t appear to be a name in Deuteronomy given that it’s restated in different words), but it’s weird in Greek, reminding me of Hosea.

Did Hosea intend a connection here?

  • Footnote 28 to Hosea 1 of the "Da'at Miqra" notes לא עמי as a "possible hint to Deut 32:21", without giving further explanation. There is a further parallel between לא אהיה here and לא אל preceding לא עם in Deut 32:21 that you could note in your question. In the glos itself, the Da'at Miqra gives the parallel usage as Exodus 3:7 and similar where עמי is used as a term of endearment. רחמה in Hosea is a parallel term of endearment to עמי. – Abu Munir Ibn Ibrahim Oct 25 '16 at 20:36

I wouldn't necessarily read a direct reference to Deuteronomy 32. The statement in 1:9 is a negation of the common language of covenant. The positive phrasing is common in Scripture:

Exodus 6:7
I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God.

Leviticus 26:12
And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people.

Jeremiah 30:22
So you will be my people, and I will be your God.

Thus, in Hosea 1:9 God is cancelling both portions of the covenant. Because they have broken the covenant, the people no longer his people (cf. Exodus 19:5-6). But also, God will no longer be I AM to them - that is, God will no longer keep the covenental name before them (cf. Exodus 3:5).

The verse in Deuteronomy 32 is likely a riff on the covenant language as well. But the thrust is different. There, because Israel has turned to what is not God, God will likewise turn to people who aren't the covenental people. While the two texts share some similarity, I think it rather because both draw on the same covenental language than that Hosea draws on Deuteronomy.


I'm not too familiar with Koine Greek (except getting a grade C for introductory Koine Greek in Bible school). As well as, since the septuagint is not dependable translation, and should not be used authoritatively. I can only comment better on the Hebrew.

Deut 32:21 (I placed a hyphen to separate the pronouns)

הם קנאו-ני
בלא אל

The word-literal translation (presuming a non-existent causative):

They jealousified me
without god.

(without presuming any causative):

They are jealous of me
without god.

The translators have again made wide excursions into "untreaded" territory, because [בלא] has been used as without, not within, not in, which are all similar concepts. The word literally means "not in" or "not within".

To translate the phrase as

They jealousified me with which is not G'd

is an adventurous trip to add in words and concepts not found in the original Hebrew.

(I had to coin the word "jealousify" to accurately portray the causative.)

OTOH, this verse indicates atheism or agnosticism in ancient Israel. Regardless of the instruction of "you shall not bow down to other gods", reading this verse at face value, in simplicity,

These atheists/agnostics are jealous of me.

Continuing further:

ואני אקניאם
בלא עם
בגוי נבל אכעיסם

The word-literal translation (this time there actually is a causative):

And I will jealousify-them
without a people
in a withered/decadent nation I will anger them

Therefore, without any regard to massaging the Hebrew passage to turn this into a scaffolding support for pre-existing doctrines,

Without a people, I will cause them to be jealous. I will cause them be jealous by not having a people. I will anger them with a decadent nation.

We must read the Hebrew grammatically as-is, rather than manipulating them to fit into pre-existing ideologies.

  • The Greek was mostly irrelevant except that it triggered me to wonder something about the Hebrew, so you’re certainly free to ignore that. The question is about whether Hosea is drawing on Deuteronomy though. I don’t think this touched on that. Perhaps you’ve ruled it out if בלא and לא can’t be analogous. I do think you’ve helped me figure out that part of what I need is to understand how בלא works there. Is that a single lexeme in your mind (i.e. “without”, as opposed to preposition ב + particle לא, which may [or may not] mean something different)? – Susan Aug 23 '15 at 11:20
  • Just curious, how would you translate the first part of Isaiah 55:2 - ‏לָמָּה תִשְׁקלוּ־כֶסֶף בְּֽלוֹא־לֶחֶם ? I can’t make it make sense except by creating a relative clause, “...on that which is not bread” - similar to the Deut 32:21, “...with that which is no(t) god”. – Susan Aug 23 '15 at 11:51
  • I would like you to ask Isaiah 55:2 in another question concerning [בלוא], and I will give my best effort to answer it, over the course of this week. – Cynthia Avishegnath Aug 23 '15 at 19:56
  • Also, I feel this question is quite loaded despite its simplicity. I do agree that there could be a connection between the Deut and Hosea passages, but I am not confident in completing the answer without further analysis into other passages. It might take me another 3 months to express with satisfaction on any relationship between the two passages. – Cynthia Avishegnath Aug 23 '15 at 20:13
  • לכן = ל + כן = toward this actuality ~= therefore. מכן = מ + כן = from this actuality ~= next. באין = ב + אין = in/with not having/being. Prov 5:23 - He will-die in/with not having regimen-discipline. – Cynthia Avishegnath Aug 23 '15 at 20:27

Hosea 1:9 can be rendered like this: enter image description here


  • לֹֽא is an adverb, and adverbs modify verbs.

    This is easy to see with examples like the third instance of לֹֽא in this verse, where it is obviously modifying the verb אֶהְיֶ֥ה. But what about the second instance?

    Well, the adverb is still modifying a verb. If there is no verb in the immediate context of the adverb, then the verb "to be" is assumed. So the second instance of לֹֽא is given as "not be". The reader can easily verify that this is consistent across such usage.

    אַתֶּם֙ לֹ֣א עַמִּ֔י = "you not be people of me" = "you are not my people"

  • Given this insight, Deuteronomy 32:21 can be rendered like this: enter image description here

    בְלֹא אֵ֔ל = "with not be el" = "with a god who was not"


    בְּלֹא עָ֔ם = "with not be people" = "with a people who is not"

  • Now, looking back at Hosea 1:9, some sense can be made of the "who was not" and the "who is not". The verb "to be", when it stands on its own, speaks of existence. As an example of this, consider the interesting sentence that appeared in the 1968 American movie, "Charly":

    That that is is that that is not is not is that it it is

    It looked like gibberish to Charly's teacher, but when he punctuated it properly, it made sense.

    That that is, is. That that is not, is not. Is that it? It is.

    In terms of what is relevant to this answer, the verb "to be" (represented by the word "is" in this example), speaks of existence.

    That which is, exists. That which is not, exists not. Is that it? It is.

    So, "a god who was not", simply didn't exist -- which is what Hosea is saying. Likewise, "a people who is not".

Additional Comments

  • The questioner mentioned the LXX, which is given here as:
    enter image description here
    The words of the LXX communicate the same message as the Hebrew, and also confirm the assumed verb "to be" when the adverb stands alone.

    For those with an eye for detail: at first glance there appear to be a couple of discrepancies in the parsing of the LXX greek. The greek text and parsing for this answer came from StudyLight. The first instance of παραὀργίζω is parsed as AAI-3P but, strictly, should be FAI-1S. The second instance of παραζηλόω is parsed FAI-1S but, strictly, should be AAI-3P.
    The reason is probably that the parsing given makes the verbs consistent with the pronouns. For example παραὀργίζω ἐγώ couldn't possibly be given as "make jealous I will me". Such issues are likely the cause of the LXX not being regarded as a "reliable" source.

  • The following image might be useful to the reader for deciding what the author (and LXX translators) understood by: בְלֹא אֵ֔ל = ἐπί οὐ θεός = with not god

    ![enter image description here

    It could be that the prophet was suggesting that the Hebrews were worshiping "nothing at all", or maybe they were worshiping "another being" who wasn't God. Regardless of preference, there is no doubt that the prophet is passing on Yahweh's concern that they were not worshiping him. He wasn't an "invisible God", as the many manifestations of his presence should have proven to them, and he wasn't indistinguishable from "other gods", as his Law should have proven to them.


Hosea is unmistakably making reference to Deuteronomy 32, which contains what is often referred to as the "Song of Moses". The images depicted in the words of the song are prophetic, transcending the span of history from the patriarchs all the way to the Messiah. Hosea's record, and that of the other prophets, is instrumental in showing how the details of Moses prophecy have unfolded over time, and confirm how other details in the song, were much closer to him/them down the time-line, than they were to Moses.

The KJV, and other versions, set the mode of Deuteronomy 32 as past, but the nature of Hebrew is such that it could have been set as future. For example, `הֵ֚ם קִנְא֣וּנִי בְלֹא אֵ֔ל given as "They, themselves, made me jealous with a god who was not." could just as well been given as "They, themselves, shall make me jealous with a god who is not.". Such a feature makes the Hebrew language a perfect vehicle for prophecy.

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