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I've read that in Hosea 14:2, the reference to sacrificial bulls is removed and the word פָרִ֖ים is mistranslated as "fruit". Why is this?

https://biblehub.com/hosea/14-2.htm#lexicon

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    – agarza
    Apr 12, 2023 at 13:42

2 Answers 2

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The unvocalized version of פָרִ֖ים is פרים (p-r-m). It is possible that alternative proto-Hebrew texts contained פרה (p-r-h) instead of פרים, which is the basis for words like פְּרִי (peri) and פֶּרֶא (pere), meaning "fruit" and "wild fruit", respectively. This would account for why the Septuagint, which pointed to a much older Hebrew text than that underlying the Masoretic Text, reads:

λάβετε μεθ’ ὑμῶν λόγους καὶ ἐπιστραφητωσάν μοι· ἀποὸ γὰρ τοῦ πονηροῦ ἐκραταιώθημεν· ἀγαπήσωμεν γὰρ ἀντιλήμπτους καρποὺς χειλέων ἡμῶν

meaning:

Take away all iniquity; receive us graciously, for we will offer the fruit of our lips.

"Fruit of our lips" rather than "steer" or "calves of our lips" (KJV) maybe fits the context better, so it seems some translators deferred to the Septuagint and felt that there was some sort of discrepancy in the Masoretic Text

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  • +1. Very good, simple, concise answer.
    – Dottard
    Apr 12, 2023 at 19:33
  • yes... the answer is good as to the reason, but see my response below for why the KJV and others are wrong as to context. Apr 13, 2023 at 12:55
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For modern readers "fruit of our lips" is a much more poetic image than "bulls [or calves] of our lips." But I would argue that, although @user33515 is right about the reason that "fruit" was substituted for "bulls," it is the Masoretic text, not the Septuagint, that has the context right. Sin/guilt offerings involved animal sacrifices, especially of bullocks, not grain or fruit.

On the Day of Atonement the high priest inaugurated the festival with two sin-offerings—-a bullock as his own offering, and a male kid for the congregation... Sin-offerings formed a part of inaugural and dedicatory ceremonies. Thus, when Aaron and his sons were inaugurated into the priesthood, one of the sacrifices was a sin-offering consisting of a bullock, the flesh of which was burned outside the camp (Ex. xxix. 1, 10-14; Lev. viii. 14-17). Eight days later Aaron brought a calf, and the Israelites brought a small kid, as sin-offerings (Lev. ix. 2-10). source

For Christian readers, the teaching of Hebrews is also relevant.

According to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission. (Hebrews 9:22)

These things considered, Hosea must have been thinking that prayers of repentance constitute the sacrificial "bulls of our lips" which God would graciously accept as our sin offerings. This makes the best sense when one reads a fuller rendering, where the prophet urges his hearers to bring "words" as their offering (NKJV):

O Israel, return to the Lord your God, For you have stumbled because of your iniquity; 2 Take words with you, And return to the Lord. Say to Him, “Take away all iniquity; Receive us graciously, For we will offer the sacrifices of our lips...

Here, 'words' replace guilt offerings, which are animal, not vegetable. Thus the Masoretic text has the context right when it speaks of the words of repentant prayer as "bulls of our lips." But the accepted answer is correct as to why translators opt for "fruit."

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