In Hosea 6.7 we find the statement that Ephraim and Judah has “transgressed the covenant” like “Adam.” The Hebrew preposition כ can be translated a variety of ways including “as,” “just as,” “like,” “about,” “according to,” “among,” “in,” “in accordance with,” and so forth. It would seem that the most straightforward reading of כאדם is “like/as Adam.” This is how translations like the NASB, NRSV, ESV, HCSB, and several others render it. This translation seems to present as אדם the figure Adam. But there are other ways to interpret this word.
The NET, NIV, and RSV translates it “At Adam,” indicating that “Adam” may be a proper noun, but rather than referring to a person it refers to a location. The translation “like Adam” can have the same connotation.
The KJV represents a minority view rendering כאדם as “like men.” This is the most unlikely since it would seem to differentiate Ephraim and Judah from other humans.
I think views #1 and #2 make more sense than #3.
To render כאדם as “like Adam” seems to acknowledge a possible echo of Genesis 2-3 where Adam seems to have transgressed his covenant with the Creator God.
To render כאדם as “like Adam” or “in Adam” indicating that Adam may be a town or region makes sense as well. In v. 8 there is mention of Gilead. In v. 9 there is mention of Shechem. Then the narrator returns to mentioning “the house of Israel,” Ephraim, and Judah in vv. 10-11. Also, Samaria is mentioned in 7.1.
It is possible that is a double entendre of sorts. Maybe a location known as “Adam” is being mentioned, but the word choice regarding covenant breaking is meant to cause an echo?
Let me know your thoughts!
I wonder if the KJV was influenced by the LXX.
Doug Stuart offers an interesting alternative translation: “But look – they have walked on my covenant like it was dirt (Stuart, Word Commentary v. 31,, p. 98).
Personally, I think that “like Adam” is the most likely option offered. It fits well with the broader picture that Hosea is painting. As Adam and Eve broke God’s covenant and were expelled from the Garden so Israel had broken God’s covenant and would likewise be expelled from the New Garden (i.e. the Promised Land). The only reason to chose “at Adam” is if you don’t like the idea that God was in a covenant with the first Adam. Yet, choosing Adam as a location seems odd because Hosea 6:4 makes clear that the entire nation of Israel (the northern tribes represented by Ephraim and the southern tribes represented by Judah) are said to be guilty of this sin. If it takes place at a location called Adam we are left scratching our heads with no clue how this could be or what transgression Hosea is talking about. If I couldn’t chose “like Adam”, I would be more inclined to follow Professor Stuart’s translation than the choice of “at Adam”.
The idea ‘Adam’ as a location is reasonable (though I confess, a surprise to me). Taking the כאדם as “like men” isn’t as unreasonable as you suggest. In the KJV (and in Hebrew in fact), the ‘like men’ implies’ after the manner of men. Really, such as reading doesn’t differentiate Israel and Judah from other men. It does speak to Adamic weakness though and alludes to a relationship with God being able to buffer folks from our fallen nature, and is really no different than taking כאדם to mean ‘Adam’ proper (though I’m not into the whole federal headship business).
I’ve seen a couple of commentaries bring up ‘Edom’ and its not clear to me if they are alluding to Adam (the place) being Edom (as a covenant breaker) or Edom as another example of a man who has transgressed the covenant. It’s curious.
I strongly prefer #2 for the following reasons:
(1) The Adam character in Gen 2-3 disobeyed a command but did not violate a covenant (ברית); therefore, it seems unlikely that v. 7 contains a reference to the same character doing something that he did not do.
(2) A reference to the town Adam better fits the larger context in vv. 7-9 that sees references to evil activity in the vicinity of the towns Gilead and Shechem.
(3) Finally, the presence of שם in v. 7 strongly suggests that Adam is a location where the covenant was broken and people acted treacherously against Yahweh (a la Gilead in v. 8 and the road to Shechem in v. 9).
Resident, Israelites recognized many covenants, including, but not limited to, the Adamic Covenant, the Edenic covenant, and the Noahide covenant.
Speaking for myself, I don’t think the ancient Hebrews recognized the existence of an Adamic and/or Edenic covenant given that there’s no explicit reference to a covenant in Gen 2-3 (in contrast with the explicit reference to a covenant made with Noah and his offspring in Gen 9). Now, of course, the Reformers came along much later and speculated about the existence of such things, but I don’t think that should have any bearing on a historical-grammatical exegesis of Hos 6:7.
Genesis 2 sure sounds like a typical ANE covenant/treaty to me. Yahweh places Adam as “Mr. Big Gardner”, lays down Adam’s role, limits and punishment for violation.
Adam replies with his commentary though not obligating himself. If it is, Hosea properly is to be understood as saying Adam broke his covenant in this passage as far as literary unity goes.
Click to access ANE_Covenants.pdf
I checked to see what the Hermeneia commentary on Hosea had to say about v. 7 and it confirmed that the presence of שם in the verse strongly suggested that Adam was the name of a location.
Sorry to resurrect a silent post, but I’ve pondered this further, and had an epiphany (to do with ‘election’). To ask ‘what is Adam’s election’ is to ask ‘what is man-kinds place amongst the animals’. Adam was appointed to bear the image of God (Imago Dei) [Gen 1:26]. Many have speculated what this means, but if we stick to the original language, and at most the biblical portrayal (i.e. the original context) we cannot say that mankind posses physical features, or behaviour characteristics, (or even other attributes) animals do not.
Consider, the biblical narrative in [Gen 1:26] is completely silent on qualities of human nature – so this ‘image and likeness of God’ cannot be qualitative. This seems to go against consensus in the theological community, which suggest man possess some type of ontological difference with the animals (substantial differentiator). I had not previously considered this presupposition (which I also myself held) until residentoftarsus challenged me on it saying Israelites did not hold to other covenants (specifically the Adamic). Patrics comment addresses this, but residentoftarsus’s assertion also begs the question ‘what is a covenant?’. Lets come back to this.
What else doe the original language context say about man and the realm of animals? Man is from the dust of the ground [Gen 2:7] as are animals [Ecc 3:19-20][Gen 1:21,24]. Man has been given the breath of life [Gen 2:7] but this verse makes man as every other living creature – so man does not posses a soul (נפש nephesh) animals do not ([Gen 1:20-21,24]). Whatever ‘the Image of God’ means, it does not seem to be something innate to man – since anthropologically the species ‘man’, is a subset of living creatures and like creatures has been created possessing a loving soul by having breath breathed in. Theologically, this is why the debate – no one has identified a single attribute that differentiates man from creature. Man is creature.
But what if the ‘Image of God’ is an election, a consequence of God’s choice – a designation out of the free historical action of God electing Adams line from amongst all possible lifeforms (created from the dust of the ground) serving as his representation in creation to orient creation towards relationship with God (as Adam had relationship with God). Therefore Adam transgressed this covenant by being faithless with God just as [Hos 6:7] says.
This is a marvellous insight for a whole bunch of reasons. Who is man that God is mindful of him. He is nothing, simply a choice God has freely made to elect a representative amongst all other creation. Imago Dei is not something in man, but something in God (a choice). Similarly, this frees us up from seeing Adam (and Eve) as the first 2 humans. It means Adam and Eve were the first 2 humans God has relationship with (there could have been more). The first sin was breaking fellowship (covenant) with God.
Brian has drawn from the Enns/Collins dialogue the idea there is a metaphor between Adam and Israel – and though I was sceptical at first, now believe it to be true. Adam and his line were chosen from amongst all creatures to serve as representation of God in the community of living creation, just as he is to stand before God as representation of creation. Because Adam failed, this role was given he who preceded Adam – the first-born of all creation. This is no different than Abraham being selected to produce the nation of Israel, a kingdom of believers elected to stand before all of the nations of the world as a kingdom elected to live in fellowship with God, and before God a representative of the nations of the world [Isa 42:6; 49:6].
I think Hosea did not take Adam to be a place. I think he understood Adam to be in covenant with God, albeit faithlessly.
“Similarly, this frees us up from seeing Adam (and Eve) as the first 2 humans. It means Adam and Eve were the first 2 humans God has relationship with (there could have been more). The first sin was breaking fellowship (covenant) with God.”
I agree and have since I translated Gen:1-2 for myself and fits with every action in the whole OT and NT,a plan that brings man back into personal fellowship as oppossed to mediated fellowship and an sin covering
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