Have you even misquoted a statement out of its context? A misquotation is one of the most common mistakes that people often make, and it is not legitimate to distort a statement to make your point. The New Testament writers often quoted the Old Testament when they wrote the New Testament, so could it be possible that they misquoted the Old Testament? For example, in Matthew 2:15, Matthew quotes Hosea 11:1, and states that the departure of Joseph with his family to Egypt was a fulfillment of Hosea 11:1.
In Matthew 2, King Herod responded negatively to the news about the identity of the Messiah and demanded every child in the town of Bethlehem to be killed so that he can keep his earthly throne. However, God commanded Joseph to take his family to Egypt to escape the persecution of King Herod. In Matthew 2:15, Matthew affirmed that Christ’ departure to Egypt fulfilled Hosea 11:1, which states, “when Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.”
However, Hosea 11:1 is not a messianic statement, but a factual statement regarding Israel’s experience of the Exodus. In Hosea 11:1–4, God’s love is described as the love that father has for his son. God loved the people of Israel that He rescued them out of the bondage in Egypt, and out of Egypt, He called the nation of Israel His son. However, Israel disobeyed God, sacrificed to the Baals, and burned incense to idols.
In spite of Israel’s disobedience, God still demonstrated His love toward them because they were still His children (verses 3–4). However, God had to discipline Israel for its sin (verses 5–7) and restored Israel unto Himself.
The Apparent Problems of the Use of Hosea 11:1 in Matthew 2:15.
When you first read Matthew 2:15 and Hosea 11:1, you might think that Matthew misquotes Hosea 11:1 in Matthew 2:15. There are three possible reasons for that. First of all, there is no exegetical evidence for the concept of the Messiah in Hosea 11:1. However, when Matthew quotes Hosea 11:1, he states that the departure of Jesus to Egypt fulfilled what the Lord had spoken through the prophet.
Second, the son of God in Hosea 11:1 is the nation of Israel, while the Son in Matthew 2:15 is the individual Jesus Christ. Third, Hosea 11:1 refers to Israel’s exodus out of Egypt while Matthew 2:15 refers to Jesus’s escape to Egypt. Therefore, it initially does seem that Matthew misquoted Hosea 11:1.
However, the truth is that Matthew didn’t misquote Hosea 11:1. Instead, he reached back into the experience of Israel’s exodus and drew many parallels between Israel and Jesus.
The Adequate Explanation
Matthew uses Hosea’s statement to show that the coming Messiah is an extension of God’s love His people. Hosea didn’t know that he wrote about the Messiah when he wrote Hosea 11:1. However, Matthew states that the experience of Jesus matched what Hosea had written about Israel.
There are seven parallels between Israel’s exodus and the early life of Jesus. First, both Christ and Israel are referred to as God’s Son (Exodus chapter 4 verses 22–23 and Matthew chapter 3:17). Second, both Israel and Christ experienced persecution. Israel experienced persecution under Pharaoh while Jesus under King Herod.
Third, all the male children were persecuted under both the oppression of Pharaoh and Herod (Exodus chapter 1 verse 22 and Matthew chapter 2 verse16). Fourth, both Israel and Jesus fled to Egypt to escape. Fifth, Israel and his family were protected by Joseph, while Joseph, Jesus ‘father, also protected Him while fleeing to Egypt. Sixth both Jesus and Israel returned home from Egypt.
Finally, Matthew contrasts Jesus as the obedient Son of God with Israel as the disobedient son of God. Jesus Christ came out of Egypt and was perfectly obedient to God the Father while Israel went out of Egypt but rebelled against God. Jesus perfectly obeyed God but still suffered for Israel and the world to restore both of them to God.
Because of Israel’s disobedience, Jesus came to earth and lived a perfect life that Israel was required to live but failed. Jesus accomplished the mission that Israel was required to achieve. Israel broke the law while Jesus fulfilled the law (Matthew chapter 5 verse 17).
Therefore, Matthew didn’t misquote but quoted Hosea 11:1 to draw these parallels between the life of Jesus and Israel to demonstrate that Jesus fulfilled all that God intended Israel to be. Jesus is the perfect Israel, the promised Messiah, the Son of God, who shall redeem Israel and all humanity.
Dat Nguyen is a student at the Master’s Seminary and a member of Grace Community Church in Los Angeles, California. His desire is to be a faithful minister of the Word of God. He loves playing basketball and American football and watching movies.
Dat Nguyen is a student at the Master’s Seminary and a member of Grace Community Church in Los Angeles, California. His desire is to be a faithful minister of the Word of God. He loves playing basketball and watching movies.