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Hosea 6:7 says:

וְהֵמָּה, כְּאָדָם עָבְרוּ בְרִית; שָׁם, בָּגְדוּ בִי.

Which could be (and is) translated either as "They, like Adam, have transgressed the covenant," or "They, like men, have transgressed the covenant."

If the first reading is correct, what is the brit referring to? I don't remember any covenant made with Adam (the first is with Noah, to my knowledge). Are there any commentators who understand the verse this way and offer insight?

  • @Noam_Sienna The Hebrew text does not contain the definite article before the word "brit", and if there is a substantial significance to that, then neither of the two choices is correct. Having said that, are there any rabbinic discussion whereby the presence or absence of the definite article gave a different definition to the word in question or gave a different meaning to the phrase in question? – ninamag Jun 17 '18 at 5:29
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Rashi says

like Adam: Heb. כְּאַדָם, like the first man. there they betrayed Me: In a good land where I settled them, there they betrayed Me, like Adam, whom I brought into the Garden of Eden, and he transgressed My commandment. [from Gen. Rabbah 19:9]

My Medrash Rabbo Hamevuor explains (abridged):

Just like HKB”H introduced Adam into Gan Eden with a commandment (which the Medrash understands to be a covenant, bris), he transgressed and was exiled, so too Adam's children were introduced to Eretz Yisroel, commanded with the Torah (also a bris) transgressed and were exiled.

  • @Avrohom_Yitzchok I upvoted and I like the answer and the references to it. Where can one read the "Medrash Rabbo Hamevuor"? Out of curiosity, are there any rabbinic discussions claiming that Hashem did not make a Covenant with Adam? – ninamag Jun 17 '18 at 5:39
  • "Medrash Rabbo Hamevuor"is available from Lehmann's (lehmanns.co.uk/mdrw-rbh-hmbvar-el-htvrh-i-b-krkim-mvqtn.html). It's recently published and only available in print AFAIK. The medrash is explained in a similar format to that used by Rabbi Kehati in his commentary on mishnayos. – Avrohom Yitzchok Jun 17 '18 at 9:32
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If the first reading is correct, and it should be translated as "They, like Adam, have transgressed the covenant," then the covenant could be the first six of the seven commandments of Noah.

The Rambam writes in Hil. Melakhim uMilkhamoth 9:1

Six precepts were commanded to Adam:

a) the prohibition against worship of false gods;

b) the prohibition against cursing God;

c) the prohibition against murder;

d) the prohibition against incest and adultery;

e) the prohibition against theft;

f) the command to establish laws and courts of justice.

Even though we have received all of these commands from Moses and, furthermore, they are concepts which intellect itself tends to accept, it appears from the Torah's words that Adam was commanded concerning them.

He appears to be sourcing this from Sanhedrin 56b where two interpretations are provided. I've only pasted here the first, but you can read the rest of the daf here.

Whence do we know this? — R. Johanan answered: The Writ saith: And the Lord God commanded the man saying, of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat. And [He] commanded, refers to [the observance of] social laws, and thus it is written, For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment. The Lord — is [a prohibition against] blasphemy, and thus it is written, and he that blasphemeth the name of the Lord, he shall surely be put to death. God — is [an injunction against] idolatry, and thus it is written, Thou shalt have no other gods before Me. The man — refers to bloodshed [murder], and thus it is written, Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed. Saying — refers to adultery, and thus it is written, They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and became another man's. Of every tree of the garden — but not of robbery. Thou mayest freely eat — but not flesh cut from a living animal.

Since the derivation in the Talmud is from the verses related to the prohibition of eating from the Tree of Knowledge in Eden, I assume that is not a separate covenant. Thus I'm not aware of any other covenant Adam took part in, so I'd assume it must be this one.

  • Personally IMO -- I think @DoubleAA 's recent edit saves your post: specifically, it makes it address the question asked (What is Hoshea referring to?). But make sure it matches your intent. – msh210 Nov 13 '15 at 19:08

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