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Answering The Atheist
November 5, 2006 / Volume 6, Issue 45

THE ATHEIST'S COMPLAINT:
Will Ephraim return to Egypt? Hosea 8:11-13, 9:3 says yes, but Hosea 11:3-5 says no. Is there a contradiction?

RESPONSE:
There is an important distinction to be made between the clause which appears in Hosea 8:13; 9:3 and Hosea 11:5. Notice:

Hosea 8:13; 9:3 "...shall return to Egypt..."
Hosea 11:5 "...shall not return to the land of Egypt..."

Chapter 11 identifies the land of Egypt. Namely, the people of Israel, though they might desire to flee to Egypt, would not be able to do so, but rather "...the Assyrian shall be his king..." (11:5) and they would "...eat unclean things in Assyria" (9:3). They would be taken captive into Assyria.

The statements in 8:13 and 9:3 are not indicating that Ephraim would physically return to Egypt, but rather that they would return into bondage due to their sin. As 9:3 says, "They shall not dwell in the LORD's land (the land which He had brought them to); but Ephraim shall return to Egypt (return to bondage), and they shall eat unclean things in Assyria (they would be carted off into the Assyrian empire).

There is no contradiction here.

This article is a response to Skeptic's Annotated Bible