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Calves of the Lips

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

kavz, (Septuagint: karpon cheileon): This is the King James Version rendering of a dubious Hebrew text in Ho 14:2 (parim sephathenu). The Revised Version (British and American) runs "So will we render as bullocks the offering of our lips." Strange as the text is, it may be retained, and it admits of at least a possible explanation. The prophet calls on his contemporaries to return in penitence to Yahweh. Their worship should consist not of meaningless dumb ritual, but of "words"--hymns and prayers, expressive of real gratitude and of actual needs--or perhaps pledges of repentance and reform. The people respond and undertake that their worship shall consist of "calves or bullocks of lips," i.e. not of animal offerings, but of promises of reform or vows of obedience. But this explanation is forced and most modern commentators follow the Septuagint, which presupposes a slightly different Hebrew text, and renders peri sephathenu, "fruit of our lips," i.e. adoring gratitude or, as the author of the Epistle to the He, who quotes this verse from the Septuagint, explains it, "sacrifice of praise" (Heb 13:15). The same phrase occurs in Isa 57:19, where it signifies gladsome gratitude.