1 whenever I would heal Israel,
the sins of Ephraim are exposed
and the crimes of Samaria revealed.
They practice deceit,
thieves break into houses,
bandits rob in the streets;
but they do not realize
that I remember all their evil deeds.
Their sins engulf them;
they are always before me.
“They delight the king with their wickedness,
the princes with their lies.
They are all adulterers,
burning like an oven
whose fire the baker need not stir
from the kneading of the dough till it rises.
On the day of the festival of our king
the princes become inflamed with wine,
and he joins hands with the mockers.
Their hearts are like an oven;
they approach him with intrigue.
Their passion smolders all night;
in the morning it blazes like a flaming fire.
All of them are hot as an oven;
they devour their rulers.
All their kings fall,
and none of them calls on me.
“Ephraim mixes with the nations;
Ephraim is a flat loaf not turned over.
Foreigners sap his strength,
but he does not realize it.
His hair is sprinkled with gray,
but he does not notice.
Israel’s arrogance testifies against him,
but despite all this
he does not return to the Lord his God
or search for him.
“Ephraim is like a dove,
easily deceived and senseless—
now calling to Egypt,
now turning to Assyria.
When they go, I will throw my net over them;
I will pull them down like the birds in the sky.
When I hear them flocking together,
I will catch them.
Woe to them,
because they have strayed from me!
Destruction to them,
because they have rebelled against me!
I long to redeem them
but they speak about me falsely.
They do not cry out to me from their hearts
but wail on their beds.
They slash themselves,[a] appealing to their gods
for grain and new wine,
but they turn away from me.
I trained them and strengthened their arms,
but they plot evil against me.
They do not turn to the Most High;
they are like a faulty bow.
Their leaders will fall by the sword
because of their insolent words.
For this they will be ridiculed
in the land of Egypt.
Israel to Reap the Whirlwind
“Put the trumpet to your lips!
An eagle is over the house of the Lord
because the people have broken my covenant
and rebelled against my law.
Israel cries out to me,
‘Our God, we acknowledge you!’
But Israel has rejected what is good;
an enemy will pursue him.
They set up kings without my consent;
they choose princes without my approval.
With their silver and gold
they make idols for themselves
to their own destruction.
Samaria, throw out your calf-idol!
My anger burns against them.
How long will they be incapable of purity?
They are from Israel!
This calf—a metalworker has made it;
it is not God.
It will be broken in pieces,
that calf of Samaria.
“They sow the wind
and reap the whirlwind.
The stalk has no head;
it will produce no flour.
Were it to yield grain,
foreigners would swallow it up.
Israel is swallowed up;
now she is among the nations
like something no one wants.
For they have gone up to Assyria
like a wild donkey wandering alone.
Ephraim has sold herself to lovers.
Although they have sold themselves among the nations,
I will now gather them together.
They will begin to waste away
under the oppression of the mighty king.
“Though Ephraim built many altars for sin offerings,
these have become altars for sinning.
I wrote for them the many things of my law,
but they regarded them as something foreign.
Though they offer sacrifices as gifts to me,
and though they eat the meat,
the Lord is not pleased with them.
Now he will remember their wickedness
and punish their sins:
They will return to Egypt.
Israel has forgotten their Maker
and built palaces;
Judah has fortified many towns.
But I will send fire on their cities
that will consume their fortresses.”
Punishment for Israel
Do not rejoice, Israel;
do not be jubilant like the other nations.
For you have been unfaithful to your God;
you love the wages of a prostitute
at every threshing floor.
Threshing floors and winepresses will not feed the people;
the new wine will fail them.
They will not remain in the Lord’s land;
Ephraim will return to Egypt
and eat unclean food in Assyria.
They will not pour out wine offerings to the Lord,
nor will their sacrifices please him.
Such sacrifices will be to them like the bread of mourners;
all who eat them will be unclean.
This food will be for themselves;
it will not come into the temple of the Lord.
What will you do on the day of your appointed festivals,
on the feast days of the Lord?
Even if they escape from destruction,
Egypt will gather them,
and Memphis will bury them.
Their treasures of silver will be taken over by briers,
and thorns will overrun their tents.
The days of punishment are coming,
the days of reckoning are at hand.
Let Israel know this.
Because your sins are so many
and your hostility so great,
the prophet is considered a fool,
the inspired person a maniac.
The prophet, along with my God,
is the watchman over Ephraim,[b]
yet snares await him on all his paths,
and hostility in the house of his God.
They have sunk deep into corruption,
as in the days of Gibeah.
God will remember their wickedness
and punish them for their sins.
“When I found Israel,
it was like finding grapes in the desert;
when I saw your ancestors,
it was like seeing the early fruit on the fig tree.
But when they came to Baal Peor,
they consecrated themselves to that shameful idol
and became as vile as the thing they loved.
Ephraim’s glory will fly away like a bird—
no birth, no pregnancy, no conception.
Even if they rear children,
I will bereave them of every one.
Woe to them
when I turn away from them!
I have seen Ephraim, like Tyre,
planted in a pleasant place.
But Ephraim will bring out
their children to the slayer.”
Give them, Lord—
what will you give them?
Give them wombs that miscarry
and breasts that are dry.
“Because of all their wickedness in Gilgal,
I hated them there.
Because of their sinful deeds,
I will drive them out of my house.
I will no longer love them;
all their leaders are rebellious.
Ephraim is blighted,
their root is withered,
they yield no fruit.
Even if they bear children,
I will slay their cherished offspring.”
My God will reject them
because they have not obeyed him;
they will be wanderers among the nations.
Israel was a spreading vine;
he brought forth fruit for himself.
As his fruit increased,
he built more altars;
as his land prospered,
he adorned his sacred stones.
Their heart is deceitful,
and now they must bear their guilt.
The Lord will demolish their altars
and destroy their sacred stones.
Then they will say, “We have no king
because we did not revere the Lord.
But even if we had a king,
what could he do for us?”
They make many promises,
take false oaths
and make agreements;
therefore lawsuits spring up
like poisonous weeds in a plowed field.
The people who live in Samaria fear
for the calf-idol of Beth Aven.[c]
Its people will mourn over it,
and so will its idolatrous priests,
those who had rejoiced over its splendor,
because it is taken from them into exile.
It will be carried to Assyria
as tribute for the great king.
Ephraim will be disgraced;
Israel will be ashamed of its foreign alliances.
Samaria’s king will be destroyed,
swept away like a twig on the surface of the waters.
The high places of wickedness[d] will be destroyed—
it is the sin of Israel.
Thorns and thistles will grow up
and cover their altars.
Then they will say to the mountains, “Cover us!”
and to the hills, “Fall on us!”
“Since the days of Gibeah, you have sinned, Israel,
and there you have remained.[e]
Will not war again overtake
the evildoers in Gibeah?
When I please, I will punish them;
nations will be gathered against them
to put them in bonds for their double sin.
Ephraim is a trained heifer
that loves to thresh;
so I will put a yoke
on her fair neck.
I will drive Ephraim,
Judah must plow,
and Jacob must break up the ground.
Sow righteousness for yourselves,
reap the fruit of unfailing love,
and break up your unplowed ground;
for it is time to seek the Lord,
until he comes
and showers his righteousness on you.
But you have planted wickedness,
you have reaped evil,
you have eaten the fruit of deception.
Because you have depended on your own strength
and on your many warriors,
the roar of battle will rise against your people,
so that all your fortresses will be devastated—
as Shalman devastated Beth Arbel on the day of battle,
when mothers were dashed to the ground with their children.
So will it happen to you, Bethel,
because your wickedness is great.
When that day dawns,
the king of Israel will be completely destroyed.
God’s Love for Israel
“When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son.
But the more they were called,
the more they went away from me.[f]
They sacrificed to the Baals
and they burned incense to images.
It was I who taught Ephraim to walk,
taking them by the arms;
but they did not realize
it was I who healed them.
I led them with cords of human kindness,
with ties of love.
To them I was like one who lifts
a little child to the cheek,
and I bent down to feed them.
“Will they not return to Egypt
and will not Assyria rule over them
because they refuse to repent?
A sword will flash in their cities;
it will devour their false prophets
and put an end to their plans.
My people are determined to turn from me.
Even though they call me God Most High,
I will by no means exalt them.
“How can I give you up, Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, Israel?
How can I treat you like Admah?
How can I make you like Zeboyim?
My heart is changed within me;
all my compassion is aroused.
I will not carry out my fierce anger,
nor will I devastate Ephraim again.
For I am God, and not a man—
the Holy One among you.
I will not come against their cities.
They will follow the Lord;
he will roar like a lion.
When he roars,
his children will come trembling from the west.
They will come from Egypt,
trembling like sparrows,
from Assyria, fluttering like doves.
I will settle them in their homes,”
declares the Lord.
Ephraim has surrounded me with lies,
Israel with deceit.
And Judah is unruly against God,
even against the faithful Holy One.[g]
[h]1 Ephraim feeds on the wind;
he pursues the east wind all day
and multiplies lies and violence.
He makes a treaty with Assyria
and sends olive oil to Egypt.
The Lord has a charge to bring against Judah;
he will punish Jacob[i] according to his ways
and repay him according to his deeds.
In the womb he grasped his brother’s heel;
as a man he struggled with God.
He struggled with the angel and overcame him;
he wept and begged for his favor.
He found him at Bethel
and talked with him there—
the Lord God Almighty,
the Lord is his name!
But you must return to your God;
maintain love and justice,
and wait for your God always.
The merchant uses dishonest scales
and loves to defraud.
“I am very rich; I have become wealthy.
With all my wealth they will not find in me
any iniquity or sin.”
“I have been the Lord your God
ever since you came out of Egypt;
I will make you live in tents again,
as in the days of your appointed festivals.
I spoke to the prophets,
gave them many visions
and told parables through them.”
Is Gilead wicked?
Its people are worthless!
Do they sacrifice bulls in Gilgal?
Their altars will be like piles of stones
on a plowed field.
Jacob fled to the country of Aram[j];
Israel served to get a wife,
and to pay for her he tended sheep.
The Lord used a prophet to bring Israel up from Egypt,
by a prophet he cared for him.
But Ephraim has aroused his bitter anger;
his Lord will leave on him the guilt of his bloodshed
and will repay him for his contempt.
The Lord’s Anger Against Israel
When Ephraim spoke, people trembled;
he was exalted in Israel.
But he became guilty of Baal worship and died.
Now they sin more and more;
they make idols for themselves from their silver,
cleverly fashioned images,
all of them the work of craftsmen.
It is said of these people,
“They offer human sacrifices!
They kiss[k] calf-idols!”
Therefore they will be like the morning mist,
like the early dew that disappears,
like chaff swirling from a threshing floor,
like smoke escaping through a window.
“But I have been the Lord your God
ever since you came out of Egypt.
You shall acknowledge no God but me,
no Savior except me.
I cared for you in the wilderness,
in the land of burning heat.
When I fed them, they were satisfied;
when they were satisfied, they became proud;
then they forgot me.
So I will be like a lion to them,
like a leopard I will lurk by the path.
Like a bear robbed of her cubs,
I will attack them and rip them open;
like a lion I will devour them—
a wild animal will tear them apart.
“You are destroyed, Israel,
because you are against me, against your helper.
Where is your king, that he may save you?
Where are your rulers in all your towns,
of whom you said,
‘Give me a king and princes’?
So in my anger I gave you a king,
and in my wrath I took him away.
The guilt of Ephraim is stored up,
his sins are kept on record.
Pains as of a woman in childbirth come to him,
but he is a child without wisdom;
when the time arrives,
he doesn’t have the sense to come out of the womb.
“I will deliver this people from the power of the grave;
I will redeem them from death.
Where, O death, are your plagues?
Where, O grave, is your destruction?
“I will have no compassion,
even though he thrives among his brothers.
An east wind from the Lord will come,
blowing in from the desert;
his spring will fail
and his well dry up.
His storehouse will be plundered
of all its treasures.
The people of Samaria must bear their guilt,
because they have rebelled against their God.
They will fall by the sword;
their little ones will be dashed to the ground,
their pregnant women ripped open.”[l]
Repentance to Bring Blessing
[m]Return, Israel, to the Lord your God.
Your sins have been your downfall!
Take words with you
and return to the Lord.
Say to him:
“Forgive all our sins
and receive us graciously,
that we may offer the fruit of our lips.[n]
Assyria cannot save us;
we will not mount warhorses.
We will never again say ‘Our gods’
to what our own hands have made,
for in you the fatherless find compassion.”
“I will heal their waywardness
and love them freely,
for my anger has turned away from them.
I will be like the dew to Israel;
he will blossom like a lily.
Like a cedar of Lebanon
he will send down his roots;
his young shoots will grow.
His splendor will be like an olive tree,
his fragrance like a cedar of Lebanon.
People will dwell again in his shade;
they will flourish like the grain,
they will blossom like the vine—
Israel’s fame will be like the wine of Lebanon.
Ephraim, what more have I[o] to do with idols?
I will answer him and care for him.
I am like a flourishing juniper;
your fruitfulness comes from me.”
Who is wise? Let them realize these things.
Who is discerning? Let them understand.
The ways of the Lord are right;
the righteous walk in them,
but the rebellious stumble in them.
- Hosea 7:14 Some Hebrew manuscripts and Septuagint; most Hebrew manuscripts They gather together
- Hosea 9:8 Or The prophet is the watchman over Ephraim, / the people of my God
- Hosea 10:5 Beth Aven means house of wickedness (a derogatory name for Bethel, which means house of God).
- Hosea 10:8 Hebrew aven, a reference to Beth Aven (a derogatory name for Bethel); see verse 5.
- Hosea 10:9 Or there a stand was taken
- Hosea 11:2 Septuagint; Hebrew them
- Hosea 11:12 In Hebrew texts this verse (11:12) is numbered 12:1.
- Hosea 12:1 In Hebrew texts 12:1-14 is numbered 12:2-15.
- Hosea 12:2 Jacob means he grasps the heel, a Hebrew idiom for he takes advantage of or he deceives.
- Hosea 12:12 That is, Northwest Mesopotamia
- Hosea 13:2 Or “Men who sacrifice / kiss
- Hosea 13:16 In Hebrew texts this verse (13:16) is numbered 14:1.
- Hosea 14:1 In Hebrew texts 14:1-9 is numbered 14:2-10.
- Hosea 14:2 Or offer our lips as sacrifices of bulls
- Hosea 14:8 Or Hebrew; Septuagint What more has Ephraim