Gangs of Priests Assaulting Worshipers
1-3 “Come on, let’s go back to God.
He hurt us, but he’ll heal us.
He hit us hard,
but he’ll put us right again.
In a couple of days we’ll feel better.
By the third day he’ll have made us brand-new,
Alive and on our feet,
fit to face him.
We’re ready to study God,
eager for God-knowledge.
As sure as dawn breaks,
so sure is his daily arrival.
He comes as rain comes,
as spring rain refreshing the ground.”
“What am I to do with you, Ephraim?
What do I make of you, Judah?
Your declarations of love last no longer
than morning mist and predawn dew.
That’s why I use prophets to shake you to attention,
why my words cut you to the quick:
To wake you up to my judgment
blazing like light.
I’m after love that lasts, not more religion.
I want you to know God, not go to more prayer meetings.
You broke the covenant—just like Adam!
You broke faith with me—ungrateful wretches!
“Gilead has become Crime City—
blood on the sidewalks, blood on the streets.
It used to be robbers who mugged pedestrians.
Now it’s gangs of priests
Assaulting worshipers on their way to Shechem.
Nothing is sacred to them.
“I saw a shocking thing in the country of Israel:
Ephraim worshiping in a religious whorehouse,
and Israel in the mud right there with him.
“You’re as bad as the worst of them, Judah.
You’ve been sowing wild oats. Now it’s harvest time.”
Despite All the Signs, Israel Ignores God
1-2 “Every time I gave Israel a fresh start,
wiped the slate clean and got them going again,
Ephraim soon filled the slate with new sins,
the treachery of Samaria written out in bold print.
Two-faced and double-tongued,
they steal you blind, pick you clean.
It never crosses their mind
that I keep account of their every crime.
They’re mud-spattered head to toe with the residue of sin.
I see who they are and what they’ve done.
“They entertain the king with their evil circus,
delight the princes with their acrobatic lies.
They’re a bunch of overheated adulterers,
like an oven that holds its heat
From the kneading of the dough
to the rising of the bread.
On the royal holiday the princes get drunk
on wine and the frenzy of the mocking mob.
They’re like wood stoves,
red-hot with lust.
Through the night their passion is banked;
in the morning it blazes up, flames hungrily licking.
Murderous and volcanic,
they incinerate their rulers.
Their kings fall one by one,
and no one pays any attention to me.
“Ephraim mingles with the pagans, dissipating himself.
Ephraim is half-baked.
Strangers suck him dry
but he doesn’t even notice.
His hair has turned gray—
he doesn’t notice.
Bloated by arrogance, big as a house,
Israel’s a public disgrace.
Israel lumbers along oblivious to God,
despite all the signs, ignoring God.
“Ephraim is bird-brained,
First chirping after Egypt,
then fluttering after Assyria.
I’ll throw my net over them. I’ll clip their wings.
I’ll teach them to mind me!
Doom! They’ve run away from home.
Now they’re really in trouble! They’ve defied me.
And I’m supposed to help them
while they feed me a line of lies?
Instead of crying out to me in heartfelt prayer,
they whoop it up in bed with their whores,
Gash themselves bloody in their sex-and-religion orgies,
but turn their backs on me.
I’m the one who gave them good minds and healthy bodies,
and how am I repaid? With evil scheming!
They turn, but not to me—
turn here, then there, like a weather vane.
Their rulers will be cut down, murdered—
just deserts for their mocking blasphemies.
And the final sentence?
Ridicule in the court of world opinion.”