In Hosea 13:14 is the correct translation "I will deliver" or "Will I deliver"?

Some translations, such as the KJV, NIV, and ESV, translate Hosea 13:14 as a declarative sentence stating that God will deliver His people from coming judgment. However, other translations, such as the NASB, RSV, and NET, translate the verse as a rhetorical question: "Will I deliver them?" The reason there is debate among biblical scholars about this verse and many others is that ancient Hebrew contained no punctuation marks. Therefore, whether or not a sentence is a question must be inferred by context (is there a reply), tone (incredulity, sarcasm, etc.), and word order.

Those who argue for translating this verse as a declarative promise of God's deliverance point to Paul's quoting it in 1 Corinthians 15:55. Here, they argue, Paul uses the verse in declaring God's victory over death when talking about the resurrection of the dead. Thus, they read this verse in Hosea as a sudden outburst of God's gracious promise of redemption. Because Hosea does abruptly change tone and topic throughout the book, this is a plausible reading of the text.

Other scholars, however, argue that in the context of the passage, the threat of judgment is building, and in fact the prophet immediately rushes on to the most sweeping condemnation in the very next verse: "His fountain shall dry up; his spring shall be parched; it shall strip his treasury of every precious thing" (Hosea 13:15b). Given the historical annihilation that was about to take place, this more macabre interpretation seems more fitting. Then when reading Paul's quotation of this verse in 1 Corinthians 15:55, one would see it as God, in derisive irony, calling for death and Sheol to attempt to do their very worst at the very moment when they are about to be cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:14).

Whether this verse in Hosea is a promise of redemption or a continuation of a building threat actually presents no doctrinal conflict. The whole of Hosea chapter 13 makes clear that judgment is coming. In fact, the Assyrian army did conquer the northern kingdom of Israel in 722 BC and the Babylonians conquered the southern kingdom of Judah in 605 BC. So if it's a building threat of judgment, that prophecy was fulfilled. Conversely, if it is a reference to the coming Messiah, Jesus fulfilled that prophecy with His death and resurrection in AD 33. So either interpretation can be biblically correct.

Related Truth:

How do translators know what punctuation to use when translating the Bible?

In what languages was the Bible written?

What are the Major Prophets in the Bible? What are the Minor Prophets?

What is the Story of Kings and Chronicles?

Is Jesus the Messiah?

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