Could anyone explain to me what HaShem meant in Hosea 14:9 (particularly, the last sentence of the verse)? My JPS Tanakh translates this as ‘Ephraim [shall say]: “What more have I to do with idols? When I respond and look to Him, I become like a verdant cypress.” Your fruit is provided by me.’

It sounds very much to me like HaShem is saying that the quality and quantity of a man’s deeds, works and speech are determined by his turning-to and faithfully responding to G-d. But then it seems to me that this same ‘fruitfulness’ is COMMANDED by G-d (Gen. 1:28). So is ‘fruitfulness’ Man’s responsibility or HaShem’s?

I am a British Noachide and I can’t read Hebrew, so explanations in English would be helpful. Many thanks, TW

1 Answer 1


True that we humans are commanded to (make an effort to) be fruitful and multiply, as in the verse from Genesis you quoted. But after all, it's in G-d's hands whether such efforts will bear fruit, and in fact the same prophet Hosea earlier (9:12,16) speaks of G-d preventing the sinners' children from growing up.

Rashi on 14:9 explains:

Ephraim: will say, “What more do I need to follow the images?” And they will turn away from idolatry.

I will answer him: I will answer him from his trouble.

and I will look upon him: I will look upon his affliction.

I am like a leafy cypress tree: I will bend down for him to hold his hand on Me as the leafy cypress which is bent down to the ground, which a man holds by its branches; i.e., I will be accessible to him.

from Me your fruit is found: Am I not He? For all your good emanates from Me.

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