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Greg Beale
Shepherds Conference 2015
Thursday Noon
Matthew’s Use of Hosea 11:1

Matthew 2:13–15 (ESV)
13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt 15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

This usage is notoriously difficult; a very debated text.
Why is this such a difficult text?

Three Problems:

The verse in Hosea is a reference to the Exodus, a past historical reference. How can you take a verse which to a past event and turn it into a prophecy?

Second: What Hosea attributes to the nation of Israel, Matthew applies to an individual.

Third: Hosea is quoted at the point where the Holy Family is going into Egypt. How is this a “fulfillment”?

There a variety of possible responses:

Enns: A NT writer reading an alien idea not the OT.
ETS: This is the most troubling case of NT exegesis of OT.
Beagle: A mere mistake by Matthew.
Boring: Matthew’s use is in contrast to Hosea’s meaning … manipulating the evidence in a way that would be unconvincing.
Others: a Quram revelatory insight.
Longnecker: Using a Jewish interpreted which is faulty nor one we can use today. God does not inspire interpretative method — which one we cannot use — but the conclusion (the right doctrine from the wrong text).
Others: Matthew’s interpretation is not to be considered correct by our interpretative study, but it was part of a Jewish interpretative method which modern scholars have no right to condemn today (there is no right method of interpretation.
Others: It is not wrong, but it is so unique that we should not try to use it.

The historical grammatical hermeneutic would not (apparently) support Matthew.

Look at Hosea 11:1 in the context of chapter & book.

How can the historical reference to Exodus be made into a prophecy?
Look at the Hosea 11:10-11

Hosea 11:10–11 (ESV)
10  They shall go after the Lord;
he will roar like a lion;
when he roars,
his children shall come trembling from the west;
11  they shall come trembling like birds from Egypt,
and like doves from the land of Assyria,
and I will return them to their homes, declares the Lord.

Here is an allusion to the unique phraseology:

Look at Numbers 23-22-24

Numbers 23:22–24 (ESV)
22  God brings them out of Egypt
and is for them like the horns of the wild ox.
23  For there is no enchantment against Jacob,
no divination against Israel;
now it shall be said of Jacob and Israel,
‘What has God wrought!’
24  Behold, a people! As a lioness it rises up
and as a lion it lifts itself;
it does not lie down until it has devoured the prey
and drunk the blood of the slain.”

Num 24:8-9:

Numbers 24:8–9 (ESV)
8  God brings him out of Egypt
and is for him like the horns of the wild ox;
he shall eat up the nations, his adversaries,
and shall break their bones in pieces
and pierce them through with his arrows.
9  He crouched, he lay down like a lion
and like a lioness; who will rouse him up?
Blessed are those who bless you,
and cursed are those who curse you.”

In Numbers 23: it is the people who are brought up. In Numbers 24, it is the leader who is brought up.

Hosea is seeing how Israel’s history begins with a first exodus, it will conclude with the last exodus. The Numbers’ imagery of out of Egypt & lion.

Typology Hosea is seeing that the first exodus is a type. The type is escalated its second usage. The type foreshadows. They type is retrospective: it can be seen more clearly seen after the event occurs.

The first exodus foreshadows the second exodus. Hosea sees that already.

The overall meaning of Hosesa is that God’s original deliverance is not the final word. Though they will be judged, God will deliver them again. The chapter begins with the first exodus and ends with exodus, again. Throughout Hosea, he refers to both the first and a later exodus.

Hos. 2:15
Hosea 2:15 (ESV)
15  And there I will give her her vineyards
and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.
And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth,
as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt.
12:13
Hosea 12:9–13 (ESV)
9  I am the Lord your God
from the land of Egypt;
I will again make you dwell in tents,
as in the days of the appointed feast.
10  I spoke to the prophets;
it was I who multiplied visions,
and through the prophets gave parables.
11  If there is iniquity in Gilead,
they shall surely come to nothing:
in Gilgal they sacrifice bulls;
their altars also are like stone heaps
on the furrows of the field.
12  Jacob fled to the land of Aram;
there Israel served for a wife,
and for a wife he guarded sheep.
13  By a prophet the Lord brought Israel up from Egypt,
and by a prophet he was guarded.
Hosea 7:11 (ESV)
11  Ephraim is like a dove,
silly and without sense,
calling to Egypt, going to Assyria.

Hosea 7:16 (ESV)
16  They return, but not upward;
they are like a treacherous bow;
their princes shall fall by the sword
because of the insolence of their tongue.
This shall be their derision in the land of Egypt.

Hosea 1:11 (ESV)
11 And the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered together, and they shall appoint for themselves one head. And they shall go up from the land, for great shall be the day of Jezreel.

Hosea 9:6 (ESV)
6  For behold, they are going away from destruction;
but Egypt shall gather them;
Memphis shall bury them.
Nettles shall possess their precious things of silver;
thorns shall be in their tents.

Hosea is immersed in the idea that the first Exodus foreshadowed the second exodus.

Matthew saw this is both the immediate & the broad context of Hosea.

Matthew’s use of Hosea 11:1 is typological. Garrett:

We need look no further than Hosea 11 to understand that Hosea, too, believed that God followed patterns in working with his people. Here the slavery in Egypt is the pattern for a second period of enslavement in an alien land (v. 5), and the exodus from Egypt is the type for a new exodus (vv. 10–11). Thus the application of typological principles to Hos 11:1 is in keeping with the nature of prophecy itself and with Hosea’s own method. Understood in this way, we can regard the wording of Hos 11:1 not as fortuitous but as a work of God. Whether or not Hosea himself understood the ultimate fulfillment of his words, he knew that his words had significance that transcended his own time. We should note, however, that the surprising shift of metaphor from Israel as mother and children to Israel as son gives us further reason to regard this as a deliberate move and not as happy coincidence.

Chapter 11:
Out of Egypt
Back to Egypt
Out of Egypt (Israel will come in the future)

Problem Two: What Hosea attributes to the nation of Israel, Matthew applies to an individual.

Matthew is following Hosea in typology.

Beale the writers were aware that they were writing under inspiration.
Matthew’s use of the passage to an individual may have been sparked by the use of concept in Numbers. In Numbers 23 the people come out of Egypt, but in Numbers 24 it is the king coming out of Egypt.
Matthew’s use is appropriate: what is true of the people is true of the leader. It is also suggested by Hosea:

Hosea 1:10–11 (ESV)
10  Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And in the place where it was said to them, “You are not my people,” it shall be said to them, “Children of the living God.” 11 And the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered together, and they shall appoint for themselves one head. And they shall go up from the land, for great shall be the day of Jezreel.
Isaiah 11:16 (ESV)
16  And there will be a highway from Assyria
for the remnant that remains of his people,
as there was for Israel
when they came up from the land of Egypt.

They shall appoint for them one leader.

Hosea 1:10, the sons of the living God
Matt 16:16, the Messiah, the Son of the living God.
clear allusion

This is a place where Jesus is identified with the “sons of the living God”. What is true of Jesus is true of Israel, Israel of Jesus.

Garrett (on how Genesis is used in Hosea):
In Hosea 6:7, Israel follows the pattern of Adam.
Sometimes there is a positive reference, Hosea 1:7
The individual patriarchs are applied to the nation, the one to the many, the many to the one; whether positive or negative. Matthew is merely doing what Hosea does.

Garrett:

One can always appeal to sensus plenior (Latin, “fuller meaning”), the hermeneutical principal that says that Old Testament writers sometimes wrote better than they knew because the Holy Spirit led them to use vocabulary that had a significance of which the writers themselves were unaware. This aspect of inspiration, while helpful if used carefully, actually fails to resolve the fundamental question of whether Matthew has rightly made use of Hosea. To say that God caused Hosea to frame his words in such a way that Matthew could appropriate them does not tell us anything about whether the text of Hos 11:1 really has anything to do with the Messiah’s return from Egypt.

To put it more pointedly, did Hosea suppose that this verse looked ahead to the Messiah? It is, of course, difficult if not impossible to show that Hosea intended readers to discern from this passage that the Messiah would come out of Egypt. This question, however, is the wrong question to ask of Hos 11:1. The real issue is not, Did Hosea intend this verse to be read messianically? but What did Hosea understand to be the nature of prophecy? In answer to this question, we must assert that Hosea, like all biblical prophets, saw prophecy not so much as the making of specific, individual predictions (which are actually quite rare among the writing prophets), but as the application of the Word of God to historical situations. In doing this the prophets brought to light certain patterns that occur repeatedly in the relationship between God and his people. These patterns or themes have repeated fulfillments or manifestations until the arrival of the final, absolute fulfillment. Thus, for example, the conquest of the land “fulfilled” the promises to the patriarchs but did not fulfill those promises finally or in their ultimate form. The inheritance of the “new earth” is the ultimate conclusion of this prophetic theme. All of the prophets were, to some degree, “like Moses” (Deut 18:5), but the ultimate prophet like Moses can only be the Messiah. Each of the kings of the line of David was a fulfillment of the promise that God would build him a “house” (2 Sam 7), but the Messiah is again the final fulfillment of this theme. Thus prophecy gives us not so much specific predictions but types or patterns by which God works in the world. We need look no further than Hosea 11 to understand that Hosea, too, believed that God followed patterns in working with his people. Here the slavery in Egypt is the pattern for a second period of enslavement in an alien land (v. 5), and the exodus from Egypt is the type for a new exodus (vv. 10–11). Thus the application of typological principles to Hos 11:1 is in keeping with the nature of prophecy itself and with Hosea’s own method. Understood in this way, we can regard the wording of Hos 11:1 not as fortuitous but as a work of God. Whether or not Hosea himself understood the ultimate fulfillment of his words, he knew that his words had significance that transcended his own time. We should note, however, that the surprising shift of metaphor from Israel as mother and children to Israel as son gives us further reason to regard this as a deliberate move and not as happy coincidence.

Problem Three: The quotation is in the wrong place, when they are going down, not coming out.

Some, this is just an anticipation of the return.
But by using Hosea 11:1 in this place Matthew is bringing up the entire Hosea story in chapter 11 (out-in-out).

Note: 5 They shall not return to the land of Egypt, should be read “they shall return to Egypt”.

Conclusion

Matthew is not making it up, but he is rather sensitive to what Hosea was doing in the book and in chapter 11. He was not making up anything in terms of work. Context is King, Queen, Prime Minister. Through grammatical historical exegesis we can see that Matthew is following Hosea’s typological approach. NT writers learned their method from Hosea.

R.T. France on Matthew (see also Jesus in the OT)

Matthew was deliberately composing a chapter .. so that the more fully a reader understood and shared an OT context he could see more; while even the most superficial reader could understand him. [paraphrase]