In the septuagint, Hosea 13:14 has

ἐκ χειρὸς ᾅδου ῥύσομαι αὐτοὺς καὶ ἐκ θανάτου λυτρώσομαι αὐτούς ποῦ ἡ δίκη σου θάνατε ποῦ τὸ κέντρον σου ᾅδη παράκλησις κέκρυπται ἀπὸ ὀφθαλμῶν μου

So we would have something like:

Death, where is your punishment? Hades, where is your sting?

1 Corinthians 15:55 follows this pretty closely, but changes δίκη (judgment/punishment) to νίκη (victory).

I don't know any Hebrew, but here is an interlinear rendering of the original text:


Without understanding anything about Hebrew grammar, my guess would be that a literal translation is something like this:

Death, I will be your plagues. Sheol, I will be your destruction.

Is this right? This seems very far removed from the septuagint. Am I missing something? Is the Hebrew really "I will be" rather than "where is?"

3 Answers 3


The Hebrew of the MT parsha Hosea 13:12-14 is straightforward and very close to modern Hebrew (Leningrad Codex):

צָרוּר֙ עֲוֺ֣ן אֶפְרָ֔יִם צְפוּנָ֖ה חַטָּאתֽוֹ

A string of iniquity is Ephraim, his sin has amassed

חֶבְלֵ֥י יֽוֹלֵדָ֖ה יָבֹ֣אוּ ל֑וֹ הוּא־בֵן֙ לֹ֣א חָכָ֔ם כִּֽי־עֵ֥ת לֹֽא־יַעֲמֹ֖ד בְּמִשְׁבַּ֥ר בָּנִֽים

Throes [like] childbirth will come upon him, the stupid child, who wont withstand the hour of birth

מִיַּ֤ד שְׁאוֹל֙ אֶפְדֵּ֔ם מִמָּ֖וֶת אֶגְאָלֵ֑ם אֱהִ֨י דְבָרֶיךָ֜ מָ֗וֶת אֱהִ֤י קָֽטָבְךָ֙ שְׁא֔וֹל נֹ֖חַם יִסָּתֵ֥ר מֵעֵינָֽי

From the hand of the underworld I should redeem them? From death I should save them? [No!] I will be your plague, death. I will be your destruction, the grave. Comfort will be hidden from My eyes!

This is a relatively easy passage to translate "literally". And since the phrases are short, the word order can largely be preserved.

The phrase אהי in the sense of "I will" or "I would" appears in:

  1. Nehemiah 2:15
  2. Psalms 18:23
  3. Psalms 69:11
  4. Psalms 73:14
  5. Job 30:9
  6. Nehemiah 2:11
  7. Judges 18:4
  8. Nehemiah 1:4
  9. Nehemiah 2:13
  10. Pslams 38:14

In order to read אהי as "where", you would have to change the order and read it as איה, which is a conceivable transcription mistake, but not a good fit for this context.

  • This reading makes a lot more sense, given the context.
    – user39728
    Jan 31, 2021 at 20:03

אֱהִי nearly always means "I shall be" (a form of the root היה). However, there is a very pertinent usage of the same word that could allow for the Septuagint's reading. In Hosea 13:10, a few verses earlier, most translators take the word אֱהִי to mean "where," leading to a translation something like this:

אֱהִי מַלְכְּךָ אֵפוֹא וְיוֹשִׁיעֲךָ בְּכָל עָרֶיךָ

Where, then, is your king that he might save you in all your towns?

Reading it as the usual "I shall be" is very difficult in this verse (for an attempt to do so, see the KJV's rendering, based on some Hebrew commentators). This understanding that אֱהִי means "where" is also reflected in the Aramaic Targum, which usually shares the same reading as the Masoretic text even against other ancient versions. So אֱהִי for "where" is possible even without assuming that the translator had the text איה instead of אהי. This usage seems to be confined to Hosea (indeed, only these verses in Hosea), but there is at least reason to believe that it exists. So the Septuagint translation of אֱהִי in Hosea 13:14 isn't baseless.

  • In Hosea 13:10, אהי is probably a transposition error from איה. The clue is that the following אפוא is common usage after איה but plain odd to see after אהי. The source of the transposition error is presumably elision between the previous ואהי in verse 7 and the following אהיs in verse 14. This explanation makes a lot more sense than inventing a new meaning for אהי that has no support elsewhere in the MT and no linguistic basis.
    – user17080
    Feb 1, 2021 at 21:32

1 Corinthians 15:55 follows this pretty closely, but changes δίκη (judgment/punishment) to νῖκος (victory).

To be precise, δίκη is interpreted as νίκη by Paul.

LXX.—ποῦ ἡ δίκη [νίκη] σου, θάνατε; ποῦ τὸ κέντρον σου, ᾅδη;

Hosea 13:14 King James Bible

I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.

New International Version

"I will deliver this people from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. Where, O death, are your plagues? Where, O grave, is your destruction? "I will have no compassion,

אֱהִ֨י (’ĕ·hî)
Strong's Hebrew 165: Where?

At https://biblehub.com/hosea/13-14.htm, 17 versions translate אֱהִ֨י as "where". Only 3 versions use "I will be".


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