Here is a second drawing by Rembrandt of a child learning to walk. To me, it is reminiscent of God's nostalgic remembrance in Hosea 11:4 of teaching baby Israel to walk, "I lead them with cords of human kindness." Of course, the MT switches to an image of kindness to an ox by the end of this verse, but the first bi-colon may still be dealing with teaching a baby to walk. (Indeed, if the emendation in NAB, NJB, NRSV are correct, all of v. 4 is wrapped up in the image of caring for a baby.) Are the "cords of human kindness" of Hosea 11:4 something like the cords in Rembrandt's drawing, or is this a totally anachronistic thought? I don't think that it is beyond the realm of possibility to imagine that cords for babies might have been invented in ancient times. Comments?
Fascinatingly, the NET translates the verse: "I led them with leather cords." Taking their lead from the HALOT lexicon, they argue: "It is better to relate [the Hebrew here] to II אדם 'leather' (see HALOT 14 s.v. אדם), as the parallelism with II אהבה ('ahavah, 'leather') suggests... This homonymic root is well attested in Arabic 'adam ('skin') and 'adim ('tanned skin; leather')."
In my own opinion, "humane cords" is still the best translation of Hosea 11:4, but there may well be poetic ambiguity here, so that the text may well have nuances of both "leather" and "human kindness." To speak of leather cords is a natural sort of diction, and the fact that a Semitic word for "leather" has a homonym meaning "human" or "humane" is very nice, poetically speaking, in terms of what Hosea is trying to convey here in this verse.