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Bible Commentaries
Hosea 11

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

Verses 1-9

Hos 11:1-9


TEXT: Hosea 11:1-9

Hosea shows how the people of Israel repaid the Lord for all the proofs of His love—with ingratitude and unfaithfulness. Israel deserved total obliteration but God, because of His love and faithfulness, will perform a work that man cannot even imagine—He will both execute His justice and justify those who believe.

Hosea 11:1 WhenH3588 IsraelH3478 was a child,H5288 then I lovedH157 him, and calledH7121 my sonH1121 out of Egypt.H4480 H4714

Hosea 11:1 WHEN ISRAEL WAS A CHILD, THEN I LOVED HIM, AND CALLED MY SON OUT OF EGYPT. This section of Hosea is one of the most beautiful sections of the entire Old Testament. When Hosea touches upon the love of God, he plunges us into an ocean whose depths have never been fathomed. God’s love is all-embracing, all-inviting, all supporting, all-supplying. And, as Hosea so graphically indicates, God’s matchless love underlies every one of His divine warnings. When such love is spurned it only makes more terrible the fearful storms of judgment when they break. Hosea had been brought into fellowship with such love through tragedy in his own home, through which tragedy, the tragedy of wounded love, there had come to him a sympathetic understanding of the Divine heart of God. The verse before us is quoted in Matthew 2:15. It is very evident that Hosea’s primary reference is to Israel’s deliverance from bondage in Egypt under the leadership of Moses (cf. Exodus 4:22-23). God, through the prophet, is appealing to Israel to remember its Heavenly Father’s love demonstrated in the past. The inspired apostle Matthew quotes Hosea and applies it to Christ’s sojourn in Egypt when He was a babe in the arms of Mary, It is also possible that Hosea intended to predict the future deliverance of the covenant people from the clutches of heathen captivity (which Hosea has already typified by the use of the name of Egypt, Hosea 8:13). In any case, we have here one of the myriad-events of Israel’s history which typically prophesies an event in the life of the true Israel, the true Son, the Messiah. We quote on this verse from Keil:

“The development and guidance of Israel as the people of God all pointed to Christ . . . the relation which the Lord of heaven and earth established and sustained with that nation, was a preparation for the union of God with humanity, and paved the way for the incarnation of His Son, by the fact that Israel was trained to be a vessel of divine grace. All essential factors in the history of Israel point to this as their end, and thereby become types and material prophecies of the life of Him in whom the reconciliation of man to God was to be realized, and the union of God with the human race to be developed into a personal unity.”

One need only be familiar with the Epistle to the Hebrews and other New Testament references to the typical relation of Israel’s history to the Messiah and His church to see that this is true!

Zerr: Hosea 11:1. This verse is both history and prophecy. Its first meaning is history, for in Hosea 2:15, the time when Israel literally came out of Egypt is called the days of her youth. That is virtually the same language as our present verse. And we know It Is prophecy also, for Matthew 2:15 quotes it and says that the calling of Jesus out of Egypt was a fulfillment of the words of the prophet. The moral of the statement is that God cared for His people when they were the most helpless, bringing them out of a condition from which they could not have escaped by their own strength.

God’s relationship to Israel from her infancy through her maturity is vividly portrayed by Ezekiel (Ezekiel 16:1 ff).

Hosea 11:2 As they calledH7121 them, soH3651 they wentH1980 fromH4480 H6440 them: they sacrificedH2076 unto Baalim,H1168 and burned incenseH6999 to graven images.H6456

Hosea 11:2 THE MORE THE PROPHETS CALLED THEM, THE MORE THEY WENT FROM THEM . . . A more obstinate people could not be found. Not even the pagan Ninevites in Jonah’s day were this obdurate! Jesus found many of the Jews in His earthly ministry equally as unyielding (cf. Matthew 11:20-30; Matthew 12:38-42). A literal translation of this phrase might read, “. . . the more they went away from their (the prophet’s) faces.” In other words, the more the prophets preached to the people, the more the people hated the very sight of the prophets. The people could not stand righteousness and goodness because they loved evil (cf. John 3:18-21), Their “bent” for sinning is expressed in Hosea 11:7 below.

Zerr: Hosea 11:2. God sent the call to Israel, but it was done through representatives, and the pronoun they refers to them. The entire history of Israel is a record of rebellion against the true prophets and other leaders sent by the Lord to warn them against the evil nations around them. Baalim was the name of the invisible or imaginary gods, and the graven images were the ones carved out of wood, stone and metal.

Hosea 11:3 IH595 taught Ephraim also to go,H8637 H669 takingH3947 them byH5921 their arms;H2220 but they knewH3045 notH3808 thatH3588 I healedH7495 them.

Hosea 11:3 YET I TAUGHT EPHRAIM TO WALK . . . The infinite kindness and patience of the Heavenly Father is likened to the tender love of an earthly parent teaching the babe to walk. Moses referred to the Father’s care, “. . . in the wilderness the Lord thy God bare thee, as a man doth bear his son” (Deuteronomy 1:31). The “everlasting arms” of God support His covenant people in all ages and dispensations (cf. Deuteronomy 33:27; Psalms 18:35-36; Isaiah 41:10; Isaiah 46:4). He healed all their sorrows and wounds incurred in the bondage of Egypt by bringing them prosperity and peace. But they did not reciprocate.

Zerr: Hosea 11:3. The Lord offered his teaching to Ephraim (Israel), but he did not profit thereby. Taking them by their arms denotes the tender care and assistance that God extended to them. Knew not that I healed them means that the people of Israel did not realize the benefit that would have been enjoyed by them if they had accepted the offers of mercy from God.

Hosea 11:4 I drewH4900 them with cordsH2256 of a man,H120 with bandsH5688 of love:H160 and I wasH1961 to them as they that take offH7311 the yokeH5923 onH5921 their jaws,H3895 and I laidH5186 meatH398 untoH413 them.

Hosea 11:4 I DREW THEM WITH CORDS OF A MAN, WITH BANDS OF LOVE . . . God draws with love—He does not drive or force obedience. Even the “new commandment” of Jesus, the command to love one another, receives its prompting from Jesus’ own example of love towards those whom He commands to love (John 13:34-35; John 15:12-17). “Cords of a man” is evidently a phrase intended to convey much the same meaning as our modern “tied to her apron strings.” Lange describes them: “. . . such as those with which men, especially children, would be led, opposed to ropes, with which beasts are tied.” God not only draws with love—He also binds men to Himself by the force of love. It was “the love of Christ” which constrained the apostle Paul (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:14). It is only through being bound by the “bond of peace” that we are able to maintain the unity of the Spirit. The “peace” referred to, of course, is the peace Christ accomplished between God and man through His loving sacrifice—so it is the love of Christ, after all, that binds us to Him. Time after time the saints of the Old Testament had the love of God demonstrated to them. God eased the yoke from off their jaws. As a merciful farmer would push the yoke back off the cheeks of his oxen in order that they might eat without discomfort, so God relieved one burden after another for the children of Israel. Not only that, He fed them with manna from heaven and caused them to prosper when they did not deserve it. When one thinks about it, this is the proto-type of the Prodigal Son immortalized in the parable told by Jesus (cf. Luke 15:11 ff). It is the same experience many an earthly father has had. A father woos his son by love; he seeks to bind his son to him by acts of love (even when disciplining); the father relieves every burden from the son it is humanly possible for him to relieve; the father gives to the son even when the son does not deserve it. And so often the son reciprocates with self-willed rebellion.

Zerr: Hosea 11:4. Cords of a man and bands of love denote the same thing. God was kind and tender with his people and did not use harsh cords with which he might draw a beast along. Take off the yoke is stated with the same significance, meaning that He would relieve his people of the hardships that an enemy would have imposed upon them. He not only lifted the load from their bodies, but offered food for their nourishment.

Hosea 11:5 He shall notH3808 returnH7725 intoH413 the landH776 of Egypt,H4714 but the AssyrianH804 shall be his king,H4428 becauseH3588 they refusedH3985 to return.H7725

Hosea 11:5 THEY SHALL NOT RETURN . . . INTO EGYPT . . . BUT . . . ASSYRIAN SHALL BE THEIR KING . . . There is no contradiction between this verse and Hosea 8:13! In Hosea 8:13 Hosea is using the land of Egypt to typify the bondage which Israel was about to suffer in her imminent captivity. In Hosea 11:5 Hosea states unequivocally that that captivity will take place in Assyria. Thus the present verse must indicate that some of the people of Hosea’s day had suggested a return to political paternalism with Egypt. Some felt that they might woo Egypt into helping them against Assyria, And being a satellite of Egypt would be better than facing possible military confrontation with Assyria. But Hosea tells them plainly that they will be ruled by the terrifying Assyrians. And the reason is stated simply. Because they would not repent of their self-willed idolatry and return to worshipping and serving Jehovah. There are no humanistic, sociological, psychological, economic, cyclic-historical explanations offered by the preacher of God, It was simply that the people of God had broken their covenant relationship with Him—they did not obey His word.

Zerr: Hosea 11:5. The backsliding ways of Israel would have entitled him to be sent back into the bondage in Egypt, but the Lord would not use that form of punishment this time. However, he must have some form of chastisement, hence the decree was to suffer the Assyrian king to invade the land and take its people away into exile.

Hosea 11:6 And the swordH2719 shall abideH2342 on his cities,H5892 and shall consumeH3615 his branches,H905 and devourH398 them, because of their own counsels.H4480 H4156

Hosea 11:6 AND THE SWORD SHALL FALL UPON THEIR CITIES . . . The word translated “fall” means literally “to circulate.” The swords of the Assyrian solders would make the round of the cities of Israel. “Bars” or the large crossbeam-bolts used to bolt their huge city gates would pose no problem to the Assyrians—they would use their war machines and break through the gates. All of this is to come upon Israel “because of their own counsels.” They trusted in their own wisdom rather than give heed to the counsel of God (cf. Psalms 127:1; Proverbs 29:8; Ecclesiastes 9:13-18). No matter how rich or powerful a nation may become it does not afford security. Why? Because this universe is ruled and operated on a basis of moral law. God created and now sustains the universe and every event within it by principles of justice and righteousness. Any individual or nation that chooses to rebel against these principles must be prepared to suffer the inevitable consequences. It makes no difference how well educated, technologically advanced, economically solvent a people may be, when they trust in their own counsels to the exclusion of God’s counsel (the Bible), they dash themselves to pieces upon the immutable sovereignty of God’s moral laws.

Zerr: Hosea 11:6. There was not much actual warfare between Assyria and Israel, but the sword of the invader was present as a threat, and hence made the invasion effective.

Hosea 11:7 And my peopleH5971 are bentH8511 to backslidingH4878 from me: though they calledH7121 them toH413 the most High,H5920 none at allH3808 H3162 would exaltH7311 him.

Hosea 11:7 AND MY PEOPLE ARE BENT ON BACKSLIDING FROM ME . . . The word “bent” is literally “fastened upon,” or “impaled” upon apostasy as something is impaled upon a stake, so that it cannot get loose. The people of Israel were “transfixed,” or “hypnotized,” as it were, by sin, and they could not seem to give a thought to anything else! They were fascinated by the thrill of it—by its deadliness. They were deceived by sin (cf. Hebrews 3:13). How much this is like so many people today. There is not a person living that has not been fascinated or deceived by some form of sin or another at one time in his life! Sin is like that! Man, without the word of God in his heart, is like that! (cf. Deuteronomy 6:1-6; Psalms 119:11). Although God sent His servants, the prophets, to call the people upward toward God, it seemed as if not one person in the whole nation listened to their preaching.

Zerr: Hosea 11:7. People are bent means they are inclined to backsliding. They is explained at verse 2. The people were so interested in their idols that they paid very little attention to the call for worship of the true God.

Hosea 11:8 HowH349 shall I give thee up,H5414 Ephraim?H669 how shall I deliverH4042 thee, Israel?H3478 howH349 shall I makeH5414 thee as Admah?H126 how shall I setH7760 thee as Zeboim?H6636 mine heartH3820 is turnedH2015 withinH5921 me, my repentingsH5150 are kindledH3648 together.H3162

Hosea 11:9 I will notH3808 executeH6213 the fiercenessH2740 of mine anger,H639 I will notH3808 returnH7725 to destroyH7843 Ephraim:H669 forH3588 IH595 am God,H410 and notH3808 man;H376 the Holy OneH6918 in the midstH7130 of thee: and I will notH3808 enterH935 into the city.H5892

Hosea 11:8-9 HOW SHALL I GIVE THEE UP, EPHRAIM? . . . MY HEART IS TURNED WITHIN ME . . . I WILL NOT EXECUTE THE FIERCENESS OF MINE ANGER . . . Admah and Zeboiim were the cities of the plain that were destroyed when Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. In light of Israel’s deliberate choice to defy God’s moral reign, there is only one thing to do. By all that is just and right, God may give them up, abandon them. This is what man would do. But God is not man (cf. 1 Samuel 15:29; Numbers 23:19; Malachi 3:6). There was something holding Jehovah back from executing His judgment to the uttermost. Three times God repeats, “I will not . . . I will not . . . I will not.” He cannot utterly abandon them, although they deserve it. And what was staying the hand of God—what kept Him from destroying Israel completely? The answer comes, “My heart is turned within me . . . My compassions are kindled together.” It was in the nature of God, not in anything that Israel had done. The omniscient God looked down the corridors of time and saw possibilities in a remnant of Israel that men would be unable to see. He saw what this remnant would be—this “son” whom He had called out of Egypt and nursed and patiently fed. Because of what God is, He sees every human being and their potentialities and possibilities, and in spite of their many backslidings, He is still longsuffering, not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9). The secret of God’s mercy is found in the words, “My heart is turned within Me.” That is a very expressive word. Turned about, or turned over, literally; but in use it is the word that describes upheaval, turmoil. Listen. God says My heart is in turmoil; My heart is moved to its depths, My heart! Again, “My compassions are kindled together,” and the word “compassion” there does not mean sorrow or pity, but solace. G. Campbell Morgan paraphrases thus: “My compassions are in spasm, deeply affected.” We are in the presence here of the perfect love of God—a love that is not the mere sentimental outgoing of an emotional nature, evanescent and passing; but love that becomes an agony; love that becomes a tragedy.

Zerr: Hosea 11:8, The gist of this verse is a lamentation of the Lord over the unfaithfulness of His people. He regrets that he will need to give them up and deliver them into the hands of a foreign nation for punishment. Admah and Zeboim were two of the cities that were destroyed in the days of Lot (Genesis 14:2; Genesis 19:25). It does not mean that Israel was to be literally destroyed as were those cities, but the rejection was to be as certain. Turned means changed or reversed; repentings means compassion or leniency; kindled means to contract or be reduced. The sentence denotes that God’s attitude is changed toward the people of Israel because of their unfaithfulness. Hosea 11:9. Not execute the fierceness of mine anger denotes that if they were treated as they deserved they would be destroyed. But God is more long- suffering than man, hence He will chastise his people and give them another chance. Not enter into the city ns a destroying enemy, but He will suffer their cities to be taken over by the foreign army in order to have them chastised.

How it is that the perfect, immutable, holy God could first pronounce judgment upon Israel and then say, “I will not?” We take the liberty of quoting from G. Campbell Morgan’s book, “Hosea, The Heart and Holiness of God,” published by Revell:

“Here, all mere intellectuality breaks down; here is something very strange . . . He says I will not give you up; what is the reason? Because of His heart and His compassions? Yes, but go on. ‘I am God, and not man,’ and I am ‘the Holy One in the midst of thee.’ There is no lowering of the standard of moral requirement. The Holy One can be compassionate and remain holy because He is God, and not man. Things are possible to Him that are not possible to man.

“That is as far as we get in Hosea, It is a long way, but it leaves us asking questions; and filled with wonder, we do not understand it . . . A wonder and a mystery of righteousness and compassion are seen working together . . . When God, in spite of sin, says, How can I give you up? My heart is stirred, My compassions are stirred, but I am holy; how can I give you up? and yet says, I will not give you up, I will not, I will not, we are in the presence of some possibility wholly of God, It must have been a great word for trembling and troubled hearts even then.

“But our Bible does not end in Hosea. The name Hosea meant salvation . . . There came One in the fulness of time, whose Name was Jehovah and Hosea: Jesus . . . we find out at last in Jesus, how God can be just, and the Justifier of the sinning soul.

“This way of accomplishment Hosea did not see. In communion with God he had learned facts about the Divine Nature which seemed to be conflicting, and he delivered his message and uttered the words; but at last He came, Who is the Brightness of the Father’s glory and the express Image of His Person, and in Him I see how righteousness and peace meet together, and God can be just and the Justifier,

“Through Him the claims of justice which are against my soul are all met. Through Him the glory of holiness is maintained; for His redemption of the human soul is not a pity that agrees to ignore sin; but a power that cancels it and sets free from its dominion. Through Him the loved one is regained, restored, renewed, and all the lights that flash and gleam upon the prophetic page, astonishing my soul, come into focused unity in Jesus. God says of you, of me, ‘How can I give thee up? I will not . . . I will not . . . I will not.’

“But how? ‘I am God and not man, I am the Holy One.’ Through Christ He has made the way by which sinning souls can be conformed to His image, His likeness, His will. The Gospel is gleaming in Hosea. It is shining in full radiance in Christ.”

This is the very essence of the gospel! The good news is that God is both just and the Justifier (Romans 3:21-26). In other words, God keeps His word to punish sin (this He did in His Son, Jesus Christ, and we participated in it vicariously) and He at the same time forgives the sinner who, by faith, acknowledges and accepts and acts upon Christ’s death in his place. Christ became sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:14-21). Christ died for us all. He became our substitute, our ransom; therefore we all “died” in Him.

What God did in reality and spiritually in Christ, He did typically and temporally with Israel. The remnant of Israel, saved by the justifying mercy of God as it exercised its faith and responded to this mercy, typified all. the covenant people of God (from all nations) in the Messianic age. Salvation is still by the grace and mercy of God to all who will respond by an exercise of faith. But that faith must be exercised in conformity to God’s revealed plan found now, for all nations and races, in the New Testament.


1. Where is Hosea 11:1 repeated in the New Testament?

2. How is Hosea 11:1 a prophecy connected to the Messiah?

3. Why did the people of Israel hate the sight of the prophets?

4. What is the meaning of the phrase “cords of a man?”

5. Why is the behavior of the Israelites like the Prodigal Son?

6. What reasons are given by Hosea for the imminent judgment of impenitent Israel?

7. How deeply involved in sin and backsliding was this nation?

8. How could God say in one breath He was going to punish Israel and then say He would not give them up?

9. How is God able to be both just and the Justifier of the penitent?

Verses 10-12

Hos 11:10-12


TEXT: Hosea 11:10-12

God is going to fulfill His covenant and give a faithful remnant the Messianic blessings in spite of the fact that most of both Israel and Judah are unfaithful.

Hosea 11:10 They shall walkH1980 afterH310 the LORD:H3068 he shall roarH7580 like a lion:H738 whenH3588 heH1931 shall roar,H7580 then the childrenH1121 shall trembleH2729 from the west.H4480 H3220

Hosea 11:10 THEY SHALL WALK AFTER JEHOVAH, WHO WILL ROAR LIKE A LION . . . The emphasis in this verse is on Jehovah’s roaring! The phrase is repeated to indicate that Jehovah’s call will be the cause of the people’s coming to walk after Him. To “walk after Jehovah” means to be converted—to trust, obey and worship Jehovah (cf. Deuteronomy 13:5; 1 Kings 14:8). The Lord will do His roaring from “Zion (cf. our comments on Joel 3:16-17; Amos 1:2), which is, of course a prophecy of the sending forth of the gospel from Jerusalem to all those who will hear and become sons of the covenant in the Messianic age. This verse, then, is Messianic in its fulfillment, as we shall see by its context.

Zerr: Hosea 11:10. When the people have been chastised they will walk after the Lord. He (the Lord) shall roar refers to the expressive threatening that will be heard by the sinful nation, and tremble is from a word that virtually means the same as response, The one subject is continued through the verse, which is the good effect the chastisement will have on the people. Tremble, means to respond to the treatment received from God. The West is somewhat indefinite, but as it is used here the indication is that a general response will be given to the Lord’s call for repentance.

Hosea 11:11 They shall trembleH2729 as a birdH6833 out of Egypt,H4480 H4714 and as a doveH3123 out of the landH4480 H776 of Assyria:H804 and I will placeH3427 them inH5921 their houses,H1004 saithH5002 the LORD.H3068

Hosea 11:11 THEY SHALL COME . . . AND I WILL MAKE THEM TO DWELL . . . They will come from the east and the west (Egypt and Assyria). Keil says, “out of all quarters of the globe,” (cf. Isaiah 11:11). We wish to quote from Lange here:

“A return to Jehovah is then announced as the fruit of this compassion, and the removal of the state of subjection to punishment by a restoration to the inheritance they had trifled away is promised as its manifestation . . .

“As to the fulfillment of this promise, see the remarks on chapters 1 and 2. It may suffice to repeat here that we are not to hold to any fulfillment which would contradict the actual course of God’s revelation. Hence we must not think of a future return of the external Israel into their own land from Assyria, if it were only from the consideration that Assyria exists no longer, and Israel is no longer in bondage to such a nation, and we cannot take the one (Israel, the Holy Land, the return) as literal, and the other (Assyria, captivity) as figurative. We must rather say, from the stand-point of the fulfillment of the Old Testament, i.e., from the stand-point of the New Testament, and in accordance with the actual course of events: the compassionate mercy of God towards his faithless people, which the Prophet sees win the victory over wrath, has been revealed in Christ—but still as being far greater he sees it; what is clear to him is only the skia (shadow) of that which in Christ has actually occurred, and what is still going on in the forgiveness of sin and deliverance from its curse through free grace.” (Italics and parenthesis ours).

This is as definitely a Messianic passage from Hosea as is chapters 1 and 2. Keil says, “The fulfillment takes place in the last days, when Israel as a nation shall enter the kingdom of God.”

Zerr: Hosea 11:11. The bulk of the citizens of the 10-tribe kingdom was to be carried into Assyria, but some of them were scattered here and there in other countries. Hence this "trembling" (response) will be in evidence in Egypt as well as in Assyria. Place them in their houses is a prediction of the return from the captivity. The historical fulfillment of this prediction is quoted with the comments on Isaiah 14:1. The Biblical fulfillment may be seen in Ezra and Nehemiah.

Hosea 11:12 EphraimH669 compasseth me aboutH5437 with lies,H3585 and the houseH1004 of IsraelH3478 with deceit:H4820 but JudahH3063 yetH5750 rulethH7300 withH5973 God,H410 and is faithfulH539 withH5973 the saints.H6918

Hosea 11:12 EPHRAIM COMPASSETH ME ABOUT WITH FALSEHOOD . . . BUT JUDAH YET RULETH . . . This verse, in the Hebrew Bible, is Hosea 11:1 of the 12th chapter of Hosea. It was made to be Hosea 11:12 of the 11th chapter only in the English versions. The emphasis of the verse is the unfaithfulness of both northern and southern kingdoms contrasted with God’s faithfulness. Israel was full of hypocrisy. She claimed to belong to Jehovah, pretended to worship Jehovah, but turned right into wrong and worshipped idols. Calvin wrote, “The Israelites had acted unfaithfully towards God, and resorted to deceits . . . just as a man might surround his enemy with a great army, so had they gathered together innumerable frauds, with which they attacked God on every side.” Like an unfaithful wife Israel still demands the Lord’s protection and support, while her every profession of love is a lie! Judah is no better! The word hiphil as it is in the Hebrew text here means “to cause to ramble about . . . to be unbridled or unruly, to rove unrestrained.” Judah runs loose, unbridled, following the dictates of her own unrestrained wantonness. Both seem unconcerned that it is the covenant of the ever Holy, Faithful One they are breaking (cf. Leviticus 19:2; Leviticus 21:8; Isaiah 6:3; Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29). Jehovah does not change, He will keep His word—His threats as well as His promises!

Zerr: Hosea 11:12, Ephraim and house of Israel means the same people. The lies and deceit refers to the false prophecies of the unfaithful teachers in the country. Judah yet ruleth means that at present the 2-tribe kingdom was in a fairly favorable relation with God, not having gone so far into idolatry.


1. What does “walking after Jehovah” mean?

2. Why do we say this passage is a Messianic passage?

3. What is wrong with the English version of Hosea 11:12? Two things!

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Hosea 11". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/hosea-11.html.
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