The Use Of Hosea 11:1 In Matthew 2:15: One More Time -- By: G. K. Beale

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 55:4 (Dec 2012)
Article: The Use Of Hosea 11:1 In Matthew 2:15: One More Time
Author: G. K. Beale


The Use Of Hosea 11:1 In Matthew 2:15:
One More Time

G. K. Beale

G. K. Beale is professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary, 2960 W. Church Road, Glenside, PA 19038.

Matthew’s use of Hos 11:1 is a notoriously difficult and debated text: Joseph “was there [Egypt] until the death of Herod in order that what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet should be fulfilled, ‘Out of Egypt I called my son.’”1 There are three problems with the way in which Matthew uses the OT passage from Hosea. The first is that the verse in Hosea is a mere historical reflection, but Matthew clearly understands it as a direct prophecy that is fulfilled in Christ. The second problem is that what Hosea attributes to the nation Israel, Matthew attributes to the individual Jesus. Third, the Hos 11:1 reference to Israel coming out of Egypt first introduces the holy family with Jesus entering into Egypt, and it is only later in Matt 2:21 that Jesus and his parents come out of Egypt.

In view of these problems, there have been a variety of responses. One commentator has said that this passage is “a parade example of the manner in which the NT uses the OT,” especially in not being “interested in reproducing the meaning” of the OT texts but in reading into the OT foreign Christological presuppositions.2 Another commentator has said that this is “the most troubling case” of “NT exegesis of the OT” for many people.3 Others have viewed the use of Hosea 11 as a mere mistaken interpretation by Matthew, somehow viewing Hos 11:1 as a prophecy when it was only a historical reflection on the original exodus.4 For example, M. Eugene Boring has said that “Matthew’s use of Scripture” in Matthew 1 and 2, including the Hosea 11 quotation, is “in contrast with their obvious original meaning,”

and “the changes he makes in the text itself … make him subject to the charge of manipulating the evidence in a way that would be unconvincing to outsiders.”5 Others have attributed to Matthew a Qumran-like special revelatory insight into the “...

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