Hosea 6.6 is one of the most important biblical teachings on salvation (since this Old Testament salvation teaching was affirmed by Jesus twice in the New Testament). So what does Hosea 6.6 mean?
Jewish children are taught early on that Hosea 6.6 teaches loving-kindness shown to others for the forgiveness of sins:
God’s insistence on mercy and loving-kindness rather than sacrifices appears at Hosea 6.6 — Basic Judaism for Young People
Animal sacrifices were once used in Judaism for the forgiveness of sins. But, because of Hosea 6.6, Judaism shifted en masse to loving-kindness shown to others instead.
Remarkably, Jewish scholars and Christian theologians have very different views on Hosea 6.6. Jewish scholars see Hosea 6.6 as teaching salvation through the horizontal relationship between man and neighbor as expressed through brotherly love. However, Christian theologians see Hosea 6.6 as teaching salvation through the vertical relationship between man and God instead:
In Hosea 6:4 and 6:6, hesed refers to the people’s loyal love to God — James Limburg
Christian theologians defend their teachings by claiming that the benevolence-based meaning of hesed entered Judaism long after the New Testament books were written. But is this true?
The veracity of the claim boils down to one investigable question:
When did the Jewish nation begin to view the word as expressing benevolence towards others: before, during, or after Jesus’ day?
If the word expressed benevolence before and/or during Jesus’ day, then Jesus originally affirmed salvation through benevolence (in accordance with the teachings of Golden-Rule-based denominations such as the Episcopal Church, United Church of Christ, and Evangelical Lutheran Church in America).