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Tuesday, September 26th, 2023
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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Bible Commentaries
Hosea 10

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

Israel is an empty vine, he bringeth forth fruit unto himself: according to the multitude of his fruit he hath increased the altars; according to the goodness of his land they have made goodly images.

The prophecy was uttered between Shalmaneser's first and second invasions of Israel. Compare Hosea 10:14; also Hosea 10:6 ("Israel shall be ashamed of his own counsel"), referring to Hoshea's calling So of Egypt to his aid; also Hosea 10:4; Hosea 10:13.

Israel is an empty vine - "empty," stripped of its fruits (Calvin) (Nahum 2:2); compelled to pay tribute to Pul (2 Kings 15:20). Maurer translates, 'a widespreading vine;' so the Septuagint Compare Genesis 49:22; Psalms 80:9-11, "Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt, thou hast cast out the pagan and planted it ... She sent out her boughs to the sea, and her branches unto the river;" Ezekiel 17:6. The root-meaning of the Hebrew [ baaqaq (H1238)] is to pour out, which may mean either to empty, as the English version, or to pour itself out, and so widespreading, luxuriant, which perhaps suits the context better, "He bringeth forth fruit unto himself."

Bringeth forth fruit unto himself - not unto ME.

According to the multitude of his fruit he hath increased the altars - in proportion to the abundance of their prosperity, which called for "fruit unto holiness, and to God" (cf. Romans 6:22), was the abundance of their idolatry (Hosea 8:4; Hosea 8:11).

Verse 2

Their heart is divided; now shall they be found faulty: he shall break down their altars, he shall spoil their images.

Their heart is divided - (1 Kings 18:21, "How long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him;" Matthew 6:24; James 4:8, "Purify your hearts, ye double-minded").

Now shall they be found faulty - "now" i:e., soon. He shall break down their altars - "He," Yahweh Himself: emphatic [ huw' (H1931)]. Not the enemy, who is but God's instrument; but the Lord Himself (Deuteronomy 32:26-27).

Shall break down - "cut off," strictly used of cutting off the heads of the victims. Those altars, which were the scene of cutting off the victims' heads, shall be themselves cut off.

Verse 3

For now they shall say, We have no king, because we feared not the LORD; what then should a king do to us?

For now they shall say, We have no king, because we feared not the Lord; what then should a king do to us? - rather, 'for us.' Soon they, deprived of their king, shall be reduced to say, We have no king (Hosea 10:7; Hosea 10:15), for Yahweh deprived us of him, because of our not fearing God. What then (seeing God is against us) should a king be able to do for us, if we had one? Since they rejected the heavenly King, they were deprived of their earthly king.

Verse 4

They have spoken words, swearing falsely in making a covenant: thus judgment springeth up as hemlock in the furrows of the field.

They have spoken words - mere empty words.

Swearing falsely in making a covenant - breaking their engagement to Shalmaneser (2 Kings 17:4), and making a covenant with So, though covenants with foreigners were forbidden.

Thus judgment springeth up as hemlock - i:e., divine judgment shall spring up as rank and as deadly as hemlock in the furrows (Deuteronomy 29:18, "Lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood;" Amos 5:7; Amos 6:12, "Ye have turned judgment into gall, and the fruit of righteousness into hemlock"). Gesenius translates, 'poppy;' Grotius, 'darnel.'

In the furrows of the field. They broke up the furrows, preparing the soil deliberately for the cultivation of injustice (which is the only kind of judgment know): so they are ripe for the divine judgment.

Verse 5

The inhabitants of Samaria shall fear because of the calves of Bethaven: for the people thereof shall mourn over it, and the priests thereof that rejoiced on it, for the glory thereof, because it is departed from it.

The inhabitants of Samaria shall fear because of the calves - i:e., shall fear for them. The calves were unable to help themselves, much less them.

Of Beth-aven - substituted for Bethel in contempt (Hosea 4:15), the house of vanity, for the house of God.

For the people thereof shall mourn over it - singular, the one in Bethel; after the pattern of which the other "calves" (plural) were made. "Calves" in the Hebrew is feminine, 'cow-calves,' to express contempt for their female-like weakness and helplessness.

The people thereof - namely, of the calf; no longer being "the people of God."

And the priests thereof that rejoiced on it - the Hebrew is only used of idolatrous priests (2 Kings 23:5, "The idolatrous priests" (Hebrew, Chemarim) were "put down" by Josiah, in fulfillment of Hosea's prophecy; Zephaniah 1:4, "I will cut off the name of the Chemarims with the priests"), [kªmaariym], from a root [Chaldaic, qªmowr, a girdle; or kaamar (H3648), to be black-literally, sunburnt] meaning either the black garment in which they were attired, or [ kaamar (H3648)], to resound, referring to their howling cries in their sacred rites (Calvin).

That rejoiced on it - because it was a source of gain to them. Maurer translates [ yaagiyluw (H1523)], 'shall leap in trepidation on account of it; as Baal's priests did (1 Kings 18:26). The English version is the usual meaning of the verb, but requires that to be supplied.

For the glory thereof - the magnificence of ate ornaments and its worship.

Verse 6

It shall be also carried unto Assyria for a present to king Jareb: Ephraim shall receive shame, and Israel shall be ashamed of his own counsel.

It shall be also carried unto Assyria. The Hebrew for "It" is emphatic: itself. Not only Israel, but Israel's god, shall be carried captive-a proof of its impotence. The calf, so far from saving its worshippers from deportation, itself shall be carried off; hence, "Israel shall be ashamed of it.

Jareb - (note, Hosea 5:13). 'A present to the king (whom they looked to as) their defender,' or else avenger, whose wrath they wished to appease-namely, Shalmaneser-but who shall prove to be God's avenger against them. The minor states applied this title to the Great King, as the avenging Protector. Pusey explains Jareb here the strifeful king: the Assyrian history appears, from their own inscriptions, to have been one perpetual warfare.

Israel shall be ashamed of his own counsel - the calves which Jeroboam set up as a stroke of policy to detach Israel from Judah. Their severance from Judah and Yahweh proved now to be not politic but fatal to them.

Verse 7

As for Samaria, her king is cut off as the foam upon the water.

As for Samaria, her king is cut off as the foam upon the water - (Hosea 10:3; Hosea 10:15) "foam" denoting short-lived existence and speedy dissolution. As the foam, though seeming to be eminent, raised on the top of the water, yet has no solidity, such is the throne of Samaria. Maurer translates [ qetsep (H7110), from qaatsap (H7107), to break off] 'a chip,' or broken branch, that cannot resist the current; or a straw (Pusey).

Verse 8

The high places also of Aven, the sin of Israel, shall be destroyed: the thorn and the thistle shall come up on their altars; and they shall say to the mountains, Cover us; and to the hills, Fall on us.

The high places also of Aven - i:e., Beth-aven.

The sin - i:e., the occasion of sin (Deuteronomy 9:21; 1 Kings 12:30, "This thing (the calves at Dan and Bethel respectively) became a sin").

And they shall say to the mountains, Cover us - so terrible shall be the calamity, that men shall prefer death to life (Luke 23:30; Revelation 6:16; Revelation 9:6). Those very hills on which were their idolatrous altars, one source of their confidence, as their "king" (Hosea 10:7) was the other, so far from helping them, shall be called on by them to overwhelm them.

Verse 9

O Israel, thou hast sinned from the days of Gibeah: there they stood: the battle in Gibeah against the children of iniquity did not overtake them.

O Israel, thou hast sinned from the days of Gibeah - (Hosea 9:9, notes; Judges 19:1-30; Judges 20:1-48.) The days of Gibeah O Israel, thou hast sinned from the days of Gibeah - (Hosea 9:9, notes; Judges 19:1-30; Judges 20:1-48.) The days of Gibeah are singled out as a specimen of the whole nation.

There they stood - i:e., the Israelites have, as there and then, so ever since, persisted in their sin (Calvin). Or, better, 'they stood their ground' - i:e., did not perish then (Maurer). Then the Israelites were vindicators of justice against Benjamin: and though punished for their own sins, for a time, by the two grievous defeats they suffered at first from Benjamin, yet at last they were enabled by God to stand their ground and conquer the aggressor: but now they are not on the side of God, but against God.

The battle in Gibeah against the children of iniquity did not overtake them - though God spared you then, He will not do so now; nay, the battle whereby God punished the Gibeonite "children of iniquity" shall the more heavily visit you for your continued impenitence. Though "they stood" then, it, shall not be so now. The change from "thou" to "they" marks God's alienation from them; they are, by the use of the third person, put to a greater distance from God.

Verse 10

It is in my desire that I should chastise them; and the people shall be gathered against them, when they shall bind themselves in their two furrows.

It is in my desire that I should chastise them - expressing God's strong inclination to vindicate His justice against sin, as being the infinitely holy God (Deuteronomy 28:63, "As the Lord rejoiced over you to do you good ... so the Lord will rejoice over you to destroy you, and to bring you to nought"). Compare Isaiah 1:24; Ezekiel 5:13, "I will cause my fury to rest upon them, and I will be comforted."

And the people shall be gathered against them - foreign invaders "shall be gathered against them."

When they shall bind themselves in their two furrows - image from two oxen plowing together side by side, in two contiguous furrows: so the Israelites shall join themselves, to unite their powers against all dangers; but it will not save them from my destroying them (Calvin). Their "two furrows" may refer to their two places of setting up the calves, their ground of confidence, Dan and Bethel. Pusey explains it, 'they bind themselves, and Satan binds them to their sin. In unity, in nothing else, they will bind themselves, and plow like two oxen together, adding furrow to furrow, joining on line to line of sin.' Or, the two divisions of the nation, Israel and Judah, "in their two furrows" -

i.e., in their respective two places of habitation: Hosea 10:11, which specifies the two, favours this view. Henderson prefers the Qeri' (Hebrew margin) reading [ lishteey (H8147) 'ªownotaam, instead of 'eeynowtaam], 'for their two iniquities;'-namely, the two calves; or the double transgression,

(1) Forsaking the true God-a sin special to Israel;

(2) Choosing idol-gods (Jeremiah 2:13); and translates, 'when they are bound' in captivity.

The English version is best, as the image is carried out in Hosea 10:11, "I passed over upon her fair neck: I will make Ephraim to ride: Judah shall plow, and Jacob shall break his clods;" only it is perhaps better to translate, 'the people (the invaders) binding them,' etc. - i:e., making them captives; and so Hosea 10:11 alludes to the yoke being put on the neck of Ephraim and Judah.

Verse 11

And Ephraim is as an heifer that is taught, and loveth to tread out the corn; but I passed over upon her fair neck: I will make Ephraim to ride; Judah shall plow, and Jacob shall break his clods.

And Ephraim is as an heifer that is taught - i:e., accustomed.

And loveth to tread out the corn - a far easier and more self-indulgent work than plowing: in treading grain cattle were not bound together under a yoke, but either trod it singly with their feet, or drew a threshing-sledge over it (Isaiah 28:27-28): they were free to eat some of the grain from time to time, as the law required they should be unmuzzled (Deuteronomy 25:4), so that they grew fat in this work. An image of Israel's freedom, prosperity, and self-indulgence heretofore. But now God will put the Assyrian yoke upon her-instead of freedom, putting her to servile Work.

I passed over upon her fair neck - I put the yoke upon it.

I will make Ephraim to ride - as in Job 30:22, "Thou causest me to ride upon it" (the wind) - i:e., I will hurry Ephraim away to a distant region (Calvin). Lyra translates, 'I will make (the Assyrian) to ride upon Ephraim.' Maurer, 'I will make Ephraim to carry' namely, a charioteer. I prefer Lyra's view. Compare Psalms 66:12, "Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads."

Judah shall plow, and Jacob shall break his clods - `the clods before him;' i:e. "Judah," too, shall not escape judgment. He shall "plow:" and in fact, the whore posterity of "Jacob" shall have to "break the clods" before them, as well as Ephraim, the royal tribe, upon which the yoke shall press most heavily, a rider being made by me to ride over him.

Verse 12

Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.

Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy - "sow to yourselves FOR lª- righteousness" (as the object of your sowing). Righteousness is not the seed, but the fruit sought to be obtained. Continuation of the image in Hosea 10:11 (Proverbs 11:18, "The wicked worketh a deceitful work: but to him that soweth righteousness shall be a sure reward"). Make righteousness your aim, and ye shall reap the reward-a reward not of debt, but of grace. Reap in mercy - the result of your sowing for righteousness shall be, ye shall reap 'according to [ lªpiy (H6310)] the measure of (the divine) mercy,' which over and above repays the goodness or "mercy" which we show to our fellow-man (Luke 6:38). You shall reap not merely in proportion to what you have sown, or what justice would entitle you to, but according to the measure of the fullness of God's mercy, which is boundless.

Break up your fallow ground - remove your superstitions and vices, and be renewed.

For it is time to seek the Lord, till he come - though not answered immediately, persevere unceasingly "until He come." The Hebrew [ daarash (H1875)] for "seek" implies an anxious, diligent, persevering application of one's whole energy to seeking the Lord, not giving over the search "until" [ `ad (H5704)] the object is attained, and "the Lord (Christ) shall come." Since coming is not applicable to God the Father, the Son of God must be meant, whose coming all the prophets foretold, and all the Old Testament saints looked for. So Abraham, John 8:56; Jacob, Genesis 49:18; Simeon, Luke 2:25; Joseph of Arimathea, Mark 15:43; John the Baptist, Matthew 11:3.

And rain - send down as a copious shower. (Psalms 72:6, "He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass;" Isaiah 14:8, "Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness").

Righteousness upon you - i:e., the reward of righteousness - i:e., salvation, temporal and spiritual (1 Samuel 26:23: cf. Joel 2:23, "Rejoice in the Lord your God ... he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain and the latter rain"). But it is better to translate [ yowreh (H3138)] 'teach righteousness unto you.' (Compare John 3:2; John 4:25; Isaiah 2:3).

Verse 13

Ye have plowed wickedness, ye have reaped iniquity; ye have eaten the fruit of lies: because thou didst trust in thy way, in the multitude of thy mighty men.

Ye have plowed wickedness. Ye do not even leave it to grow of itself, which it is sure to do on the naturally corrupt soft of the heart, but ye are at pains to cultivate it.

Ye have reaped iniquity - i:e., the fruit of iniquity; as "righteousness" (Hosea 10:12) is "the fruit of righteousness" (Job 4:8; Proverbs 22:8; Galatians 6:6-8). Iniquity itself is its own awful fruit reaped by the perpetrator at last.

Ye have eaten the fruit of lies - "lies," false and spurious worship.

Because thou didst trust in thy way - thy perverse way (Isaiah 57:10; Jeremiah 2:23) thy worship of false gods. This was in their view their internal safeguard, as their external was "the multitude of their mighty men."

Verse 14

Therefore shall a tumult arise among thy people, and all thy fortresses shall be spoiled, as Shalman spoiled Betharbel in the day of battle: the mother was dashed in pieces upon her children.

Therefore shall a tumult - a tumultuous war.

Arise among thy people - literally, peoples: the war shall extend to the whole people of Israel, through all the tribes, and the peoples allied to her. Or the reference is to intestine divisions among themselves: no longer were they united as one people, but were peoples disunited; and out of this anarchy arose the successive usurpers.

All thy fortresses shall be spoiled, as Shalman spoiled Beth-arbel - i:e., Shalmaneser, a compound name, in which the part common to it with the names of three other Assyrian kings is omitted; Tiglath-pileser, Esar-haddon, Shar-ezer. So Jeconiah is abbreviated to Coniah. Arbel was situated in Naphtali in Galilee, in the middle of the valley of Jezreel, on the border nearest Assyria; against it Shalmaneser, at his first invasion of Israel (2 Kings 17:3), vented his chief rage. Thus Hosea lived to see the fulfillment of his earlier prophecy, "I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel" (Hosea 1:5). 'Hoshea then became Shalmaneser's servant, and gave him presents.' God threatens Israel's fortresses with the same fate as Arbel suffered "in the day (on the occasion) of the battle," then well known, though not mentioned elsewhere (cf. 2 Kings 18:34). This event, close on the reign of Hezekiah, shows the inscription of Hosea (Hosea 1:1) to be correct. 'When they turned Bethel, the house of God, into Beth-aven, the house of vanity, then it became, like Beth-arbel-literally, house of ambush of God-the scene and occasion of their desolation' (Pusey).

Verse 15

So shall Bethel do unto you because of your great wickedness: in a morning shall the king of Israel utterly be cut off.

So shall Beth-el do unto you - i:e., your idolatrous calf at Bethel shall be the cause of a like calamity befalling you.

Because of your great wickedness - literally, the wickedness of your wickedness.

In a morning - i:e., speedily, as quickly as the dawn is put to flight by the rising sun (Hosea 6:4; Hosea 13:3; Psalms 30:5, "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh on the morning").

Shall the king of Israel utterly be cut off - Hoshea.


(1) When the visible Church, like Israel, "pours out" all its luxuriance in leaves of profession, or bears only unripe "fruit unto itself," not matured "fruit unto holiness and to God," it is nigh unto judgment. We should beware of letting our religion evaporate into 'empty' aspirations, desires, and transports, instead of producing the true and solid fruit of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, meekness, and faith.

(2) Prosperity, wealth, health, and intellect are the gifts of God, bestowed on men that they may have the more power to glorify Him: but when they abuse these gifts to sin, they actually turn God God's gifts into weapons of offence against the gracious Giver; just as Israel, "according to the multitude of his fruit, increased his altars" to idols.

(3) They whose "heart is divided" between God and mammon "shall be found faulty" before God, and shall suffer accordingly. Israel thought to serve God and idols at once. But in fact they served only their idols, which they would not give up for the sake of God; and their sin became the very means of their punishment, the gold of their idols being the bait that tempted the invader (Hosea 10:2). So all who think to give their heart to any earthly idol, as ambition, wealth, or pleasure, and yet at the same time to serve God, shall, through their heart-idolatry and double-mindedness, lose both Him and their idol together, and, worst of all, shall lose their own selves, and be a cast-away.

(4) Israel, too late, discovered her fatal mistake in preferring an earthly king to God (Hosea 10:3). From Saul, their first king, to Jeroboam, the originator of the idolatrous calves, and from him to Hoshea, under whom the kingdom ceased, the people had almost a continual experience of how unavailing to them were the kings for whom they had rejected their God. But their groaning was for their suffering, not for their sin. Their heart was still unchanged. Such shall be the remorse of the lost-unavailing regrets and tormenting self-reproaches shall abound. The season of grace shall have then been sinned away, and there shall be no possibility of, or inclination to, repentance. Let all be wise, and repent ere it be too late.

(5) Israel's professions were but empty "words" (Hosea 10:4). She thought nothing of "swearing falsely." 'Covenants' violated by her were therefore the prepared "furrows" into which was cast, as the seed, the Divine "Judgment," destined to spring up in a crop of evil to her, deadly as the poisonous "hemlock." Israel was now no longer the people of Yahweh, but the people of the golden calf. For this they "mourned," while they were utterly unconcerned at having lost God, their true glory. Not even the miseries and desolation of their country caused them such regrets as their glided idol. So now, when men have once parted with God, their true glory, for any earthly objects of desire, if these be taken from them, the tendency of the unrenewed heart is to mourn, not for their sins, but for their heart-idols-not to long for reconciliation with God, but for the restoration of their objects of desire.

(6) That which was thought by Israel a master-stroke of policy for the permanent establishment of the kingdom of the ten tribes proved to be ultimately the source of its shame and overthrow (Hosea 10:6). For it was the golden calf, the fruit of state policy, that brought down God's vengeance both on it and its worshippers; that vengeance was executed by the Assyrian king as the Jareb, or Avenger in God's hand, of the insulted majesty of God. Then Israel's king, in complaisance to whom she had forsaken her heavenly King, passed away as the bubble upon the water. Separated from God, all seeming power is weakness, all apparent stability is fluctuating and perishing as the foam-`One moment white, then gone forever.' Let England beware of all complicity with Romish idolatry, on the false plea of state expediency. For idolatry in any form, whether veneration of images, adoration of the mass, or worship of mammon-another of our national temptations-is sure to make the greatest seeming stability to become frailty and transitoriness itself. The fear of God is the only true basis of solidity and permanence.

(7) A day of judgment is coming to all the ungodly, when they shall wish death rather than life. As Israel once trusted in the idolatrous high places as her protection, but in the end sought one only good from them-namely, that they should fall on her and save her by death from evils worse than death-so the earthly-minded, whose portion was this earth, shall at last long only that the earth and its mountains may entomb them, in order that they may, if possible, by death escape that second death which ever killeth but never destroyeth. Surely it is infinitely better for us now to pray to the Lord Jesus to "cover" our transgression with the blood of His atonement, than through neglect of this to have to cry to the mountains at last, "Fall on us, and cover us" (Hosea 10:8). Our prayer to Jesus, if offered in faith now, shall surely be heard; but prayer to the mountains then shall be in vain.

(8) How fearful must be men's guilt when the loving God is constrained by His own holiness to have a righteous satisfaction in their chastizement! (Hosea 10:10.) Once all Israel gathered together as one man at Gibeah, to vindicate God's justice against Benjamin; but now the ten tribes banded together, not against sin, but for sin. Therefore, God, in just retribution, was about to gather the Gentile peoples against His apostate people. Since the latter would not bow to God's mild blessed yoke, they were to be made to feel the galling yoke of the pagan, for whose ways they had forsaken the Lord's way. In harmony in nothing else, in Satan's service only do men bind themselves together as two oxen plowing under one team. Refusing God's "bands of love" (Hosea 11:4), they yet put shoulder to shoulder, and "draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope" (Isaiah 5:18). Oh that all would rather come to Jesus for refreshment, and take His yoke upon them, and they shall find His yoke truly "easy" and His "burden light" (Matthew 11:28-30).

(9) The way to "sow to ourselves for righteousness" (Hosea 10:12) is first of all to make by faith "Christ the end of the law for righteousness" to us (Romans 10:4). If we do so, ours is the gain, the profit is not to God (Job 22:2-3; Job 35:7-8). It is to ourselves that we sow; and it is "according to" His grace and "mercy" that we shall reap. The reward is altogether of grace, not debt. Then, too, even in this life, grace well used is rewarded gratuitously with more grace; for "out of Christ's fullness" believers "receive grace for (i:e., upon) grace" (John 1:16). But in eternity especially we shall marvel at the amazing harvest of good which shall result from the apparently small seeds that we have sown in time.

Therefore, we must be ever diligent. Unlike earthly husbandry, the spiritual field is apt again and again to become fallow almost directly after it has been plowed and harrowed. Thus it is needed to "break up the fallow ground" afresh within the Church, by stirring up the decaying piety of her members: and also it is the Lord's own command that we break new ground by 'going' in person, or by deputy, and 'making disciples' of all pagan nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). Now is our "time for both works. "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:2). It is high time for unbelievers to seek diligently and perseveringly after righteousness 'until Christ by his Spirit come' to the heart as "the Lord our righteousness." It is high time for believers to be looking for the Lord's coming in person to reign in "righteousness," (Isaiah 11:4-5).

(10) They, on the contrary, who 'plow wickedness,' shall only 'reap iniquity' as their harvest. An awful harvest truly Israel experienced when Shalman, the Avenger, "in the day of battle dashed in pieces the mother upon her children" (Hosea 10:14). Let us beware of trusting, like her, 'in our own way,' or our own strength (Hosea 10:13). Only when we mistrust ourselves, and trust in the Lord and His righteousness alone are we safe, justified, and blessed.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Hosea 10". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/hosea-10.html. 1871-8.
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